Saturday, January 29, 2011
This morning, I went with Scott's sister, Helen Marie, to get my nails done. While I was there, Scott called me to ask whether we might like to go to lunch. I said yes, and he indicated that he'd meet up with us. Little did I know, he'd stopped at the jewelry store to pick up this. He met us at the salon, and asked me whether I agreed that it wasn't the "where" it was the "what". I agreed, thinking he was talking about where we'd get our lunch. He pulled the ring out, dropped to one knee, and told me he loved me, and that he wanted to spend the rest of my his life with me, and asked if I'd do him the honor of being his wife.
Unsurprisingly, I burst into tears and said yes about five times.
We're looking at getting married next summer.
I couldn't be happier or more honored to be marrying the love of my life and the very best man I know.
Friday, January 28, 2011
You see, not too long ago, on a lark, Violet had a gypsy read her palm. And during that reading, the gypsy predicted that Violet would go on a long journey over the sea with a man named Lavay. Lord Lavay is at the ball with the newly styled Earl of Ardmay, Captain Asher Flint. Flint is also called the "savage" Earl, as he's both part Native American and a bastard. For all intents and purposes, Flint received the title for some heroic deed (it's never really specified what), but really, he earned the title because the King wants the Earl and his crew of men aboard The Fortuna to capture and do away with the scourge of the seas, Le Chat, a pirate who has been systematically pillaging and sinking British trade ships. Flint is more than willing to do it, as the last ship Le Chat sunk was captained by a man who saved Flint's life, and whom he considered family. Violet is introduced to Lord Lavay, and shares a pleasant dance with him. But things really get interesting when she is dancing with the Earl. You see, he spies Violet's brother, and practically freezes. It seems that Jonathon, Violet's brother, bears a striking resemblance to a Mr. Hardesty, another merchant sailor, widely believed to be Le Chat. It is then that Violet begins to put together the pieces.
Violet's oldest brother, Lyon (Le Chat - get it?) has disappeared after a confrontation with the love of his life, Olivia Eversea. Le Chat's ship is called The Olivia. Coincidence? Violet thinks not. When she speaks to her brother, Jonathon about what she's put together, he laughs it off.
It is then that Violet contrives to stow away on Captain Flint's ship. She is quite sure that her information is correct, and she is bound and determined to find and warn Lyon before Captain Flint can capture him, or worse, kill him.
Needless to say, Flint is not happy to find Violet on his ship. She's much wilier than he had originally thought, and he finds himself grudgingly respecting her fortitude and smarts. She manages to trick him out of staying in his cabin by beating him at chess. She ingratiates herself with his crew, mostly by just being beautiful. She shows bravery in the face of his very strong displeasure, and she's intrepid. And more than anything, she shows an incredible love for her family. Her loyalty to them is the thing that Flint most admires as he's really never had anyone to love.
As Flint and Violet's adventure continues, their attraction grows and it's harder and harder for the two of them not to connect. The light has begun to dawn with Violet that despite Flint's strong attraction to her, he will not be swayed from his mission. It's not just about revenge, but he's almost out of money, and has a responsibility to his men. And most of her feminine wiles do not work on him. As they race to find Lyon, will Flint's growing attraction to Violet be enough to sway him from what the King has asked him to do? Or will he be compelled by his feelings to let Le Chat off the hook?
In a word, this book is an absolute delight. I smiled and laughed all the way through it. Julie Anne Long excels at inner monologue, creating a depth of emotion and wit within each character as we read their thoughts. Her dialogue absolutely jumps off the page with humor. Her books are some of the best times I've ever had reading historical romance. She writes strong, smart, wily heroines and dreamy, thoughtful heroes, who don't just muscle their way into a situation and take charge. Flint in particular was a revelation, as a hero who is strong and steadfast, but not afraid in the slightest to use subterfuge and secrecy to get what he wants. That being said, he absolutely respects Violet's smarts. He rarely underestimates her, and that is what makes the sparks fly. On top of it all, Long has a really deft hand at creating and maintaining sexual tension between her characters, and once the payoff comes, it's almost a relief.
There is very little that I wouldn't recommend about this book. It's definitely part of a series (the Pennyroyal Green series), but it wasn't hard at all to pick up the pieces. If you feel strongly about reading a series in order, do so, but those who start here will not be lost. Overall, I Kissed an Earl is the best time I've had reading a historical romance in a long time. Julie Anne Long is swiftly becoming an absolute favorite voice among historical romance authors.
Final grade: A
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Hi everyone, I’m so glad to be back here at Katidom. I think very highly of Kati (see doll, I remembered; no E!) and her opinions about romance books. In fact, that’s how we met. We met through another blog where we chatted romance.
Chatting is something I’m good at. I can talk your ear off. So it’s not surprising that all sorts of topics come to mind when I’m talking with romance readers. For instance, recently I was talking with readers about what we find attractive about men. For me it’s all about perspective. I said I loved a man with a bald or shaved head. I wasn’t really sure why until I started thinking about it. After some thought, I decided that it’s because a man with a smooth head indicates the man possesses self-confidence.
Let’s face it; there are a lot of men out there who don’t own their baldness. They take this one long strand of hair and sweep it forward and use it as if it’s actually going to cover up the fact that they’re going bald. I like a man’s ability to own his lack of hair. It sends a message that he’s strong, confident and there’s nothing sexier than a man who’s got it all together. Some examples of bald/shaved heads that I love are Telly Savalas, Bruce Willis, Jason Stratham, Yul Brynner and Vin Diesel.
If you’ve ever seen any of Brynner’s movies where he’s bald, West World, Rogers and Hammerstein’s the King and I, etc., you’ll understand what I’m talking about when I say the man is as masterful as they come. Brynner had a magnetism that was further emphasized when he was bald. Strong, powerful, and just outright dominating. His image was that of a man who reaches out and takes what he wants. Damn sexy if you ask me.
Then there’s Vin Diesel. When I look at this guy, I’m overwhelmed by his beauty. The raw, almost tangible, power he projects. If Vin had hair, I don’t think he would be anywhere near as heart-stopping gorgeous as he is. And yes, in my mind he’s gorgeous. His muscular body looks rock hard and says he’s strong enough even to pick up even my hefty butt.
His sleek head cries out “Go ahead. Touch me. You know you want too.” That smooth head matches the rest of him. What do you think would happen if you actually touched the god’s smooth scalp? Well, if you’re that close do you really think that’s all you’d be touching? LOL Envision yourself wrapped in those hard, sinewy arms with his mouth nibbling at your neck while your hand is curved around that deliciously smooth head. Can we just say that’s one hell of a fantasy? Because if the man’s beautiful in just a pair of jeans, he’s GOT to be beautiful everywhere else! *waggling eyebrows*
Now not everyone will agree with me when it comes to bald men and how sexy they are, which is peachy keen. It just goes to show that there are different tastes for everyone, and that perceptions are individual by nature of the beast. So what does all of this have to do with my upcoming release Pleasure Me?
Perception is the key word here. In Pleasure Me, my hero is a younger man interested in an older woman. Not only that, but he’s a virgin. Garrick isn’t bald, but he is beautiful. At least Ruth and I see him as beautiful, and I hope readers do as well. But Garrick has the perception that his deformity ensures no woman would want to come to his bed. Naturally, it’s the wrong perception as far as Ruth is concerned because she finds Garrick far more attractive than she believes she should. Of course her perception is that she’s too old for Garrick. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Heroes and heroines all come into a story with preconceived perceptions about themselves and other people. The perceptions are referred to as inner conflict and baggage by authors, but in my mind they’re the same thing. Everyone, real or fictional characters, have preconceived notions about everything in life, from what’s sexy to what’s not, from what’s young and what’s old. But in a book, it’s the author’s job to make not only the characters change their perceptions of their world, but change the reader’s perception as well (that’s generally called suspension of disbelief). In Pleasure Me, I think I succeeded in making Ruth and Garrick change their perceptions of who they are, and who they are with each other. As for perceptions about bald men, let me just say that when you put a man with a smooth head together with a sinfully dark chocolate voice, I’m ready for dessert.
So what’s your perspective? Do you find bald/shaved heads sexy??
Do me a favor, go READ the excerpt, and then, PRE-ORDER the book by clicking the link of your choice below!
Book Depository (International Readers/Free Shipping)
Barnes & Noble
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Jenna is even more unhappy when she's met by Dr. Ryan McKinley, one of two doctors at the clinic, and she feels the immediate spark of attraction. She certainly has no interest in any kind of a romantic relationship, it's been less than a year since her divorce was final. For his part, Ryan is just fine ignoring the chemistry between the two of them. He's been hurt too and has no interest in getting involved with anyone, let alone this adorable, pretty woman whose hair curls in such an intriguing fashion.
As Jenna and Lexi settle in, Jenna learns slowly to let go of the tight reins she'd been holding Lexi with, and also learns to be more herself. She stops avoiding things she hadn't done in the past because her ex didn't like it. Like eating fish, and having a dog, and wearing comfortable night clothes. She finds that she enjoys the work she is doing for the surgery. And she loves watching Lexi go from hostile, nasty child into one who is easy going and happy. And while her attraction to Ryan puts her off her food, she can't help but admire how hard he works and continue to be attracted as she learns more about him. She's unsure how Ryan feels, but is determined that a relationship between the two of them is NOT a good idea, for a lot of really good reasons. So imagine her surprise when Ryan makes a move. Will Jenna's insecurities allow her to fall for Ryan? Or will she continue to hold back?
OK. I read this book because Sunita counted it among her favorite reads of 2010, and I love small town stories. And one with a hot doctor? I'm in! What I found was a heroine who was a bit too dithery for my taste, a teenage girl who needed a serious SPANKING, and a hero whose baggage just...didn't seem all that baggy for me. But I loved the setting, and the townsfolk were really cute and funny. So I'm on the fence about how I feel about the story. The heroine aggravated me with all of her "Should I? Shouldn't I? I don't know. What about the children??" and the hero who was all kinds of pissed off at his ex-wife, who yes, did him wrong, but frankly it was at least two years ago, and I wanted him to move on from the issues. Also, Jenna's child, Lexi? She needed a serious swat on the behind. I know of no teenager who is permitted to be as overtly shitty to her mother. But then again, maybe I've just been lucky with the teens I know. Also, the title? Atrociously bad. I mean, really, really bad. What were they thinking??
Overall, the book was one that just didn't work all that well for me. But I think it would work well for readers who love doctor/nurse stories, and enjoy the small town trope. I did enjoy Sarah Morgan's writing style and would gladly try one of her books again.
Final grade: C+
Monday, January 24, 2011
Jo and Dan have known each other and been best friends almost their entire lives. Jo runs a successful newspaper, and Dan is a soldier. Just before Dan is to be deployed to Afghanistan, Jo, drunk as a lord, makes a pass at him. He's shocked and angry with her for changing the playing field between them, especially just as he's leaving for war. Jo is completely humiliated by the failed pass and wishes that they'd never speak of it again.
But now Dan is back from war, and strangely, people keep congratulating Jo on her impending marriage to him. At first she thinks it's a joke, and laughs it off. But as she finds out that Dan has booked the reception location, is picking out tuxes, and has sent out the invitations, she begins to wonder what the heck is going on. When she confronts Dan about it, she is shocked to be reminded that indeed, on another night, in another drunken haze of heartbreak, they'd agreed (on a bar coaster, no less) to marry each other if they didn't find anyone else. Jo is appalled. She wasn't serious. And clearly, neither was Dan, as he rejected her advances before he left of Afghanistan. She doesn't love him as more than a friend, and frankly, has very good reasons for not marrying him. She cannot for the life of her understand why it is that he's pushing so hard. This is going to ruin everything.
This is a book of secrets and baggage. Dan is back from the horrors of war, much worse for the wear. He's experienced trauma and horror, and is determined to move on with him civilian life. This means marrying Jo, even if she doesn't love him. For her part, Jo is also a changed person since she made that pass. She has secrets too awful to tell Dan. And will absolutely not be marrying him for any reason whatsoever.
Once again Karina Bliss has created two interesting, flawed, headstrong characters in Here Comes the Groom. The book, set in New Zealand features nuanced characters who make interesting decisions. Not always good ones, but they learn and grow as they make them. There are a host of compelling secondary characters, including Jo's grandmother, and Dan's parents, themselves going through a terribly rough patch. But it is Jo and Dan who anchor the story. What I found interesting is, as I was reading, I started off really not liking Jo. I thought she was abrasive and combative. But as the reader begins to understand what she's been through, we soften towards her, and the light dawns. She has good reasons for not wanting to marry Dan, just as he has good and serious reasons for wanting to marry her. It's a fascinating tension that is beautifully portrayed by Karina Bliss. The book misses an A grade with me because there is a section with Dan in the outback that I thought was somewhat meandering and could have been tightened up. That being said, if you are looking for a strongly written book with realistic characters with very real issues, Here Comes the Groom is the book for you.
Final grade: B+
Friday, January 21, 2011
1- In Memoriam - My friend, Cameron died last Sunday. His death was completely unexpected, as Cameron was a healthy 31 year old man. He suffered cardiac arrest and was without a pulse for 17 minutes. His wife, Dia, is pregnant with their first child. It's an unimaginable tragedy, and one that all of us who knew Cameron, and his family, are devastated over. I went to his memorial on Wednesday, and it was a loving, uplifting service that celebrated the life of this funny, giving, sweet man. Which explains why it is that I haven't been around much this week.
2- Reading, Part I - I just finished reading Julie Anne Long's March release, which is one of the Pennyroyal Green series. It's called What I Did for a Duke. And it is brilliant! I'll be writing a longer review closer to the publishing date. But I can tell you that Julie Anne Long is quickly becoming one of my very favorite historical romance writers. This book is witty, emotionally resonant, and features a fabulously alpha hero who has a touch of the Old Skool in him. It's a fabulous book, and Alex, the hero is going to end up being one of my favorite heroes this year. I can already tell.
3- Reading, Part II - I'm now reading Here Comes the Groom by Karina Bliss. Bliss writes category romances for HQN, and she writes them brilliantly well. She has a really great sense of humor, and her characters are multi-dimensional. Plus, I love the set up of this book, which is long time friends to lovers. I'll write up a review as soon as I finish the book.
4- Movies - I'm going to get up early tomorrow morning and go see The King's Speech, which has been getting a ton of Oscar buzz. I'm excited to see it, as you know I love little more than I love a frothy British costume drama. I'll report back on it as well.
5- Scott's sister told me this morning about a traveling exhibit that's in Grand Rapids, MI right now called Diana, A Celebration. I about died. I've been a Princess Diana fan forever, and would love to see this exhibit. We agreed that if it comes within six hours of us, we're hitting it.
6- Speaking of British royals, I'm pretty darn excited for Kate and Wills' wedding on April 29th. I'll be taking the day off work to watch the festivities (with tea and scones, of course!), and will, I'm sure, be completely consumed by the lead up to it. I love me some British Royal Family!
7- Football - H. and I will be throwing our mostly annual Super Bowl party again this year. I say mostly annual because last year, you may recall, there was a Space Shuttle launch on Super Bowl Sunday. Except, there wasn't because it scrubbed, and went on Monday. So I watched it at a bar in Cape Canaveral, FL. Which was OK, but not as cool as having your friends around. Last time we threw the party we had abut 50 guests come by. It's a fun party where very few actually watch the game. Mostly, everyone comes to eat, drink, and chat.
8- I'm back on Weight Watchers. And doing really well. I have yet to fall completely off the wagon, although, I teetered on Wednesday, the day of the memorial service, and had three pieces of pizza (which was 26 points, OMG!). Anyway, I haven't weighed myself this week (weigh in is tomorrow), but I've lost 6 pounds so far, yay!
9- My 40th birthday is coming up in March. I kind of can't believe it. It's a milestone birthday this year. I'm excited for the new possibilities and opportunities that I think are going to come this year. So I really have no qualms about turning 40. Except, of course, for the 12 days when I'm 40 and Scott is 39. I'm sure there will be many, many cougar jokes. Which I'll have to put up with. What goes around comes around for Mr. Scott.
10 - That's really all that's up with me. What's going on with you? What are you reading these days? Seen any good movies lately?
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
As Elena and Raphael arrive in New York, Elena is called to utilize her still potent vampire hunting skills to locate the perpetrator of a brutal murder at a girl's school near the city. Elena is horrified to realize that the school is the school where her father's two youngest daughters attend. Elena and Jeffrey, her father, are brutally estranged with a difficult and nasty relationship that causes Elena much guilt and grief. But she holds no blame for her sisters, and goes immediately to discover what she can about the crime. What she finds is that the vampire who perpetrated the crime was in something close to bloodlust. But not blood lust brought on for the usual reasons, instead this vampire was incited. The question is, by whom?
Even as this is happening, weather all over the world has become unstable. Tsunamis, earthquakes, torrential rain, and other horrors are impacting mankind, and the Cadre, the archangels who control the world, realize that a serious threat might be arising. An ancient is awakening. That ancient is Caliane, Raphael's mother, who Slept after going insane and nearly killing Raphael. There seems to be no question that she is awakening, and she's playing horrible games with Elena and Raphael. Will they be able to stop Caliane before she awakens fully and brings her full power to bear on the world?
This installment of the Guild Hunter series beings us back into Elena's world. She is a tough, no nonsense woman who has, in the last two years, met and fallen in love with an archangel, nearly been killed by a marauding archangel, and turned into an angel herself. Needless to say, Elena is adjusting. She's adjusting well, but it's difficult because just because she's now an angel, doesn't mean she's lost her humanity. And it's often difficult for that humanity not to influence decisions she makes.
The book continues the evolution of Raphael and Elena's relationship. They are becoming closer, and more in love every moment. And Raphael is beginning to see how powerful Elena will one day become. We finally get to see how angel's "dance" which is something that's been teased throughout the series. And, I'll say this, the scene is gorgeously written and very, very sensual.
All of that being said, there is a certain sameness to this story. I'm very glad that for the next installment of the series, Singh will be focusing on Dmitri, Raphael's second in command, who has been intriguing since the first moment we met him. While I definitely enjoy the court intrigue of the Guild Hunter world, I'm ready to visit a new viewpoint in it. I will also say that Elena has a very painful past, one that continues to haunt her. The storyline reminds me quite a bit of Eve Dallas's background (from J.D. Robb's In Death series), but I hope that Singh will continue to have Elena heal from those memories as I feel that they can distract a bit from the action of the story.
For those new to the Guild Hunter series, this is not the place to start. Begin with Angel's Blood, which sets up the world and introduces us to Elena before she's an angel. The series is imaginative, sensual and very dark. It's definitely not for the fainthearted. But for those who love an Urban Fantasy/Romance, this is a must read, in my opinion. No one writes romance quite like Nalini Singh, and Archangel's Consort is no exception. The book is a worthy and satisfying entree into the Guild Hunter series.
Final grade: B
Monday, January 17, 2011
SIGH. Oh Julianne Moore. Look. I know you love Lanvin. You and Tilda Swinton. But seriously, when has Lanvin EVER done you any favors? This dress is just horrible. It's table cloth-ish, and apparently caught in her necklace. When is she going to find a stylist who will stand up to her and tell her absolutely no??
Mila Kunis is adorable. But I think this dress is wearing her. She's tiny, and she's frankly not old enough to carry a dress of this...magnitude. It's just too old for her. I wish she'd gone with something young and fresh instead of staid.
ADD ON: I couldn't find a picture of Michelle Pfeiffer, as I don't think she walked the Red Carpet. But I thought she was absolutely resplendent in her purple gown. She wins my best dressed, followed closely by Claire Danes.
YOUR TURN: How 'bout you? Did you watch the show? Who did I miss?
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Anna's parents drop her off at school and beat a hasty retreat, leaving Anna forlorn and alone in Paris, not knowing the language (she studied Spanish) or another living soul. Anna immediately breaks down in tears, and is comforted by her next door neighbor, Meredith, who can hear her crying through the very thin walls. Soon Meredith draws Anna in with her circle of friends, Rashimi & Josh, who have been dating a while and Etienne St. Clair, a boy who Meredith has a long standing crush on. St. Clair is dating Ellie, who graduated last year and is attending college nearby at Parsons, which makes him completely off limits to Anna.
But St. Clair and Anna become friends. She's all kinds of attracted to this cute boy, who introduces her to Paris, is kind to her, shares her sense of humor, and is completely unattainable. St. Clair is the stuff of dreams for a teenage girl. He's very cute, a bit shorter than her, but he's funny and kind and protective of Anna. And as the school year progresses, they become closer. Best friends, even. And still Anna has feelings for St. Clair. Sometimes, it seems like he has feelings back. But he always ends up going to back to Ellie, so Anna tries to continue like nothing has changed. Until Anna's birthday, when everything changes. After some risque dancing at a club and way too much drinking on both of their parts, Etienne is caught by his girlfriend's roommate. Will he break up with Ellie and own up to the feelings he has for Anna? Or will he continue along his comfortable path, just being good friends with Anna?
I honestly couldn't believe it when I read that this is a debut novel. Ms. Perkins writes beautifully, capturing the ups and downs of being a teenager, and the drama of falling in love. She also creates an amazing sense of place in the City of Lights, making Paris come alive for her readers. The relationship between St. Clair and Anna is the focal point of the book, and she never shortchanges the relationship as it builds. Both are incredibly likable characters and the reader roots hard for them to find their way to each other. They both behave badly at times, as teenagers are wont to do, but their friendship perseveres. I was completely charmed by this book, reading long into the night to see what happened next. I had absolutely no quibbles with this book and would recommend it wholeheartedly for teens or romance readers alike.
If you are looking for a terrifically written, sweet romance that gives you a delightful sense of place and characters who are immensely likable, Anna & the French Kiss is for you.
Final grade: A
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Take 1 band of burly, supernatural brothers, add in one fiesty, superpowered leader, who is almost a diety, AND a human female that has no idea any of this exists. Mix in a dastardly bad guy (his foes call him "Little Peach", which made me snort) who has beautiful minions and is almost as powerful as said superpowered leader. Sprinkle with expensive liquor references, a broody leader of aforementioned supernatural brothers. And what do you get?
If you said the Black Dagger Brotherhood, you'd be wrong. Meet the Warriors of the Blood of Ascension by Caris Roane.
The supernatural set up of the book is this: the world is dimensional, there is Mortal Earth, or the place we all live, and then there is Second Earth. A different dimension where beings with supernatural powers, such as telekinesis, telepathy, and super powers reside. One can get from Mortal Earth to Second Earth by ascending. But you must be called, and answer the call. Once you ascend, you pretty much leave Mortal Earth and everything you knew there and you then reside on Second Earth. There are other dimensions, but they are closed to residents of Mortal Earth and Second Earth. There is also a war brewing on Mortal Earth. The war is between Endelle, the Supreme Ruler of Second Earth, and the most powerful ascendant ever, and Draven Graves, or The Commander, the leader of the death vamps, those who wish to overtake both worlds and rule via dictatorship.
It turns out that Draven identified Alison Wells, a therapist, pretty quickly as a very powerful ascendant. One who could change the tide of the war. Draven has been masquerading as a human with serious issues and has been getting counseling from Alison for more than a year. Alison feels that she really hasn't been able to help Draven, nor connect with him, so she's taken aback when he offers her a job. But Alison's hackles are raised and she turns down the job, which does not make Draven a happy camper.
While this is going on, Endelle gets wind of Alison's existence and possible place in the theater of the war, and dispatches Kerrick, one of the Warriors of the Blood to act as Alison's protector. When Kerrick arrives, Alison has just witnessed an attack by a death vamp on a victim, and is about to be attacked by the death vamp. Kerrick swoops in, does the rescue and the takes Alison's memories, as there are very strict rules about interactions with ascendants prior to their ascension. He does leave her a card though, for the Blood and the Bite, a club where he and the Warriors of the Blood hang out.
For her part, Alison has known that she was different from others almost since birth. She's been able to move things with her mind, teleport to other locations, and now, has just realized that she can actually fold time to change the outcome of things. She's tall (six feet) and kind of a freak. The last man she was with ended up in the hospital after being intimate with her. So, she's lonely and knows she can never have a relationship with a man. But she's compelled to go to the Blood and the Bite, so she dresses up, and off she goes.
Kerrick is at the Blood and the Bite when Alison arrives. He's drinking to try to drown the idea that the breh-hedden might be occurring between he and Alison. The breh-hedden is a mating so complete that the couple is joined by mind, sex and blood. It is considered legend, as no one has had this sort of mating in ages, but Kerrick smelled an overwhelming lavender sent when he was near Alison, and she smelled cardamon when near him. These are both strong indicators of the breh-hedden. Kerrick has sworn to never be with another woman after his wife Helena and his two children were killed because of his role as a Warrior of the Blood. But he cannot deny his attraction to Alison, and is plenty pissed about it, but Endelle has spoken and he must do his duty and protect Alison, a now vital cog in the war, through her ascension.
This sounds like a relatively complicated story, and there is a lot of world building that goes on. It also is a bit derivative of other "band of brothers" stories out there. There's all KINDS of sequel bait going on through the series, in fact, laying the groundwork for couple number two in this book. It's got a weasally bad guy who is both creepy and very dangerous. It's got a female super power with an incredibly foul mouth and an extreme power trip. It's got a hero who answers the phone "Give!" like his a teenage boy who doesn't know better.
It shouldn't work.
And yet, it totally did for me. This is another one of those books that I think has crack sprinkled in it. It's compulsively readable.
I think part of the reason I enjoyed it so much is that the author drew out the sexual tension between the hero and heroine. Even though they were soul mates, they fought it hard, and it took quite sometime for them to get together. I think a healthy dose of sexual tension will improve almost any book. The world itself is a fascinating one of angel type people and vamps, and lots of blood and gore. But the romance is pretty strong, and there is a lot of action. The sex scenes are very, very spicy, as is almost every encounter the hero and heroine had. It adds up to make an entertaining read, one that I enjoyed more than I think I should have. As I said yesterday on Twitter, I'm kind of gobsmacked to have enjoyed the book so much, and feel kind of like a book ho, to have my head turned by a book that is clearly derivative of another series. And yet, it really is compulsively readable.
While I don't have the feeling I had when I read Dark Lover by JR Ward, I found this book to be an enjoyable way to spend a few hours and would recommend it cautiously to those who are yearning for a Black Dagger Brotherhood fix. This is not the exact same thing, but it's pretty close.
Final grade: B-
Monday, January 10, 2011
Enter AJ Riley is a very successful businessman who runs a conglomerate that has made him a fortune. He's also considered a very eligible bachelor. Lexi sets up a meeting about six weeks down the road with Mr. Riley, hoping to convince him to support her group. She's prepared a compelling overview of the organization and the outlay of funds that she'd need to make it successful. But she's recently heard that AJ Riley is staying at the same hotel she is while attending a conference. She thinks if she can meet him, and perhaps soften the way a bit, she might be able to convince him to give her the money she needs.
After checking with concierge at the hotel, she finds that Mr. Riley has just left, and she hurries across the lobby, she trips spectacularly, and would have fallen, if not for the handsome stranger (AJ) who catches her. Sparks immediately fly for both of them, and shaken she thanks him and walks away. But she can't stop thinking about the handsome stranger who caught her. And when she sees him again in a elevator, she makes a completely uncharacteristic move and seduces him.
In the morning, AJ wakes up and hustles out the door. You see, he knows *exactly* who Lexi is. She is the sister of a photographer that he met a couple of months earlier. He saw her at the showing and was intrigued enough to run scared. He knows instinctively that any interaction with Lexi is going to result in his heart engaging. But when she throws herself at him in the elevator, he can't help but respond. One mind blowing night of sex later, he's SO out of there.
Lexi doesn't realize who AJ is until she goes to his office to keep her appointment set up weeks before. She hasn't stopped thinking about the stranger with whom she had such decadent sex, and how he practically ran out the door. So imagine her surprise when she discovers that the mystery man is AJ. She's even more shocked when he accuses her of sleeping with him to get the grant. She's offended, and leaves in a huff, only to be chased down by AJ, who apologizes and asks to hear her pitch - which she gives, until he again accuses her of sleeping with him to get the grant.
This book reminds me so much of a Harlequin Presents. And not even a particularly good one. It's got a hero who runs so despicably hot and cold as to push all credence. He's loving and sweet one moment, and then, as if he got a lobotomy, he's vicious and nasty to Lexi. He convinces her to go away with him (why she would leave town with him when he's such a horse's ass is beyond me), and when they get there, and are overwhelmed by attraction, they end up having sexy times without benefit of a wrapper. Which OF COURSE results in her trying to "trap" him again. Especially because she should know that he has past baggage that should preclude him EVER having children. He makes some truly vile and IMO unforgivable accusations and off he goes again. This time across the world. Until his best friend (why does this man have ANY friends?) convinces him that he's in love with Lexi and that he should do anything it takes to get her back. Turns out, all it takes is a weak apology.
So, was there anything good about the book? Well, it's set in Australia, which is cool. And the sex for the most part was pretty engaging to read. Except for one scene, which completely squicked me out. No man should lick his leavings from anyone else's legs, even if they're in an elevator where someone might walk in and see "evidence" running down her legs. This is what Kleenex are for, people. But overall, this book read very much as an HP, heavy on the dickhead hero and a way too forgiving heroine. Honestly? I can't imagine how they'd be happy together, but I suppose to each his own.
Ask Adam is an erotic romance that would have benefited from the hero having less of a nasty/distrusting streak and the heroine having more of a spine. While it's got an interesting setting, I'd suggest passing on this book and looking elsewhere for your erotic romance fix.
Final grade: D
PS- Also, the cover? Porntastic. Thank god I read this in eBook format.
PPS - This book was loaned to me by Jane Litte. Thanks so much for your generosity, Jane!
From Anne: And the winners are...
Please email me at anne at annecalhoun dot com with your choice and format for your prize! Anything from my list is up for grabs.
And thank you to everyone who stopped by to comment.
Come back any time!
Friday, January 7, 2011
She swiped the now-tepid cloth down her throat and paused at her collarbone. The washcloth soaked the thin ribbed fabric over her breasts while she considered the sheer curtains hanging lank beside the open window. Such an unremarkable thing, an open window, a simple pleasure people generally took for granted. Drew Norwood, her Navy SEAL boyfriend, had extensive experience managing risks of all shapes, sizes and situations. Given her borderline neighborhood, he’d weighed simple pleasures against physical safety and insisted on windows and doors locked tight at night. However, Drew had disappeared almost a month ago, as usual with no warning. Three times in the six months they’d been dating he’d simply vanishing into thin air, reappearing weeks later sunburned, thinner and exhausted.
The disappearing act didn’t bother her. It came with dating an active duty SEAL and she was used to people walking out of her life. The reappearing, as abrupt and unannounced as the
disappearing, still set her back on her heels.
Not much else did, but a brutal heat wave, an AC unit that became a frankly ugly pile of scrap metal three days earlier and no money for repairs left her with two choices: sleep in a situation Drew adamantly opposed or melt into a puddle in her bed. She preferred to dissolve into liquid bliss when he was the one heating her up and she flat-out didn’t have the money to fix the AC.
What Drew didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.
She scrubbed at her breastbone as if she could wipe away the disloyal thought then draped the washcloth over the edge of the sink. When she shut off the bathroom light and stepped into the moonlight illuminating a path along the scratched hardwood floor, a shadow disengaged itself from the dark corner behind the bathroom door, clamped a hand around her wrist and spun her face first into the wall. The callused palm clapped unceremoniously over her mouth muffled her
instinctive shriek. With her free hand braced at shoulder height and a strength born of sheer terror she pushed back into an iron-hard body. Her captor didn’t move an inch. Instead he knocked her off-balance by wedging one leg between hers and with minimal effort forced her flat. He had superior size and strength, the advantage of surprise, and she was trapped.
Eyes wide with panic she twisted her head and peered over the big hand engulfing the lower half of her face, but her vision only confirmed the input from the quivering nerves in her hyper-sensitive body. Heavy shoulders and a broad chest clad in black pinned her torso, and a
ridged abdomen trapped the arm bent behind her back. Squirming futilely in an effort to regain her balance only ground her bottom against his hips, and her thin cotton bikini panties provided no protection from the insistent erection shoved firmly against her ass.
Knowing it was futile she inhaled sharp and hard, drawing breath to scream. The air rushing through her nose carried with it the familiar scent of musky skin and the sharp odor of no-frills soap used at Coronado. In a millisecond she plunged from ice-cold fear to weak-kneed relief and sagged against the restraining body.
Drew. Back with no warning. In her bedroom, scaring her half to death.
She’d been working downstairs all night, the front and back doors locked with the handle lock and deadbolt. He had a key but hadn’t used it; the door would have caught on the chain. The downstairs windows were so warped that opening or closing one was a noisy process that took effort, even from Drew. But upstairs the windows were unlocked and slid loose and flimsy in their frames. Discarding the possibility he’d slithered under the front door, he must have clambered in through the damned open window in her bedroom.
“Tess, you are in so much trouble.”
Silky menace simmered under the growled words as he shoved off his black stocking cap and tossed it behind him. His thick, sweat-dampened hair, bleached near-silver by hours in the sun and salt water, gleamed even in the midnight-blue of her bedroom. With a wickedly accurate
sense of timing he’d caught her at her most vulnerable, dressed for bed in one of his tank undershirts and string bikini panties. Her feet were bare, her body crushed between his and the wall, and she stood no chance of breaking free from his tight grip.
“I can explain,” she said, but his palm muffled her words.
The barked question told her that scaring the living daylights out of her hadn’t atoned for her sin. She tossed her head back, away from his hand and he lifted his palm just enough to let sound escape. “I said I can explain!”
His hand mashed down over her mouth again. “I don’t want an explanation,” he growled. “I’ve been gone for twenty-six days. I want you. Now.”
Buy Under His Hand HERE.
(open to US readers only, sorry)
Comments must be made by midnight (EST) on January 9, 2011.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
- Tell us a little bit about Anne Calhoun. Where are you from? Are you a full time author? How long have you been writing?
- As you know, I loved Liberating Lacey. The characters were so fully realized. Did Hunter and Lacey spring fully formed off the page? Or did they develop as you wrote?
- Hunter and Lacey have a May/December romance, but that’s not the focus of the book, which I loved. What made you make that decision?
- Your new release, Under His Hand, features a Navy SEAL. Did you have to do any research about SEALs? What appeals to you about them?
- What’s harder to write, a novella or Brief? Or a single title novel?
- I know some authors don’t read other romances in their same genre. Are you one of those? Specifically, do you read contemporary romance? And if so, who are your favorite authors?
- As a newer romance author, how do you get the word out about your work? Did it help you to have some of the major romance bloggers promoting Liberating Lacey?
- What’s next for Anne Calhoun in 2011? Do you have any other books being released?
(open to US readers only, sorry)
Comments must be made by midnight (EST) on January 9, 2011.