Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pam's Review: Unleashed by Sara Humphries

Unleashed
~Sarah Humphries

Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca 
Publish Date: October 1, 2011 
ISBN-10: 1402258437 
ISBN-13: 978-1402258435 
ASIN: B005EU511O

From goodreads:
What if you suddenly discovered your own powers were beyond anything you'd ever imagined...

Samantha Logan's childhood home had always been a haven, but everything changed while she was away. She has a gorgeous new neighbor, Malcolm, who introduces her to the amazing world of the dream-walking, shapeshifting Amoveo clans...but what leaves her reeling with disbelief is when he tells her she's one of them...
And shock turns to terror as Samantha falls prey to the deadly enemy determined to destroy the Amoveo, and the only chance she has to come into her true powers is to trust in Malcolm to show her the way...
Get swept away into Sara Humphreys's glorious world and breathtaking love story...

Samantha Logan tries to make it as an artist in New York, but her work isn’t selling, she just ended a relationship with a man who is turning into a stalker, and then there are the dreams. Samantha has been having strange dreams lately; dreams involving a man, one that she can’t see. There is also something about these dreams that makes her want to return home to live with her grandmother. Samantha decides to do just that. She starts to settle in back home, but then she meets her neighbor, Malcolm Drew, and she starts to feel anything but settled.

Malcolm Drew is a shapeshifter, part of the Amoveo clan. It is important for the Amoveo to find their mates; not only does it increase their power, but it significantly lengthens their lives. Malcolm is happy to have found his mate, Samantha. There is one problem. Samantha has no idea that shapeshifters actually exist. Will she be able to open her mind to all that Malcolm will present to her? Most importantly, will she be able to open her heart?

My thoughts:
I liked this book. It was different then any other shapeshifter books that I have read. I was able to vividly imagine all of the settings and scenery the way they were described; that doesn’t always happen easily for me. I could clearly see Sam’s art studio and her paintings that she was working on, and I had no problem picturing her house and bedroom.

Nonie, Sam’s grandmother, was a riot. Here’s something that she said that I’m going to hold on to and use when I get older.

“Don’t even think of arguing with me. I’m an old woman. If you fight me about it, it could give me a heart attack.” (p. 44-45)

She made me laugh out loud. I loved how she always seemed to know what was going on, and how she even had a few secrets of her own.

Malcolm was strong, tall, handsome, and confident. What’s not to like? Well, the one thing that irked me about him was the nickname that he used for Sam. The endearment itself was cute; I just thought it was a little overused. However, Sam didn’t seem to mind.

I had a hard time relating to Samantha, I’m not sure why. I liked her as a person. She is driven, and caring about her family and friends. One thing that bothered me was her acceptance to everything that Malcolm told her. She would be bothered by it but then would forget about it for a minute because she was so attracted to him. I just felt like it wasn’t realistic in that respect.

All in all, this was a good book. Even though it is about three hundred pages, I read it in about three days; it’s very fast paced. I enjoyed getting lost in the story and look forward to the next book in the series.



My Rating:

Pam


Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: A Novel Seduction by Gwyn Cready


A Novel Seduction
~Gwyn Cready


Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages 
Publisher: Pocket Star; Original edition 
Publish Date: October 25, 2011 
ISBN-10: 1451612648 
ISBN-13: 978-1451612646 
ASIN: B004T4KWWY

From the author's website:
When snobbish book critic Ellery Sharpe screws up at Vanity Place magazine, her boss assigns her the ultimate punishment: write an ode to romance novels, a genre she considers the literary equivalent of word search puzzles. To make matters worse, he hires her sexy former party boy ex, Axel Mackenzie, to shoot the photos. Axel really wants the project to succeed. For one, the magazine will double his fee if he convinces strong-willed Ellery to write a story no woman can resist. Besides, getting Ellery to fall for romance novels might be just the push she needs to believe people can change . . . even him. At his sister's advice, Axel gives Ellery a copy of Kiltlander, a much-adored romance whose warrior hero is utterly irresistible. To her dismay, Ellery finds herself secretly falling in love with the story-and with Axel, who's drawing his own lessons from the book's compelling hero. With her carefully crafted image of herself crumbling and her dream job on the line, will Ellery risk it all to make the leap from tight-lipped literati to happily-ever-after heroine?

Ellery Sharpe is head of the literary section at Vanity Place magazine.  She's trying to get on as editor of another prestigious magazine, and her next assignment is going to be her piece de resistance.  The only problem?  Her most recent article, a piece on the uber-popular book "Vamp" lambastes the book and the romance genre in general.  This would normally be fine, except her married editor is having an affair with Vamp's author.  Needless to say he's not happy, and to make his mistress happy, he's assigned Ellery a piece on why women like romance novels, and Vamp in particular.

Axel Mackenzie is a free-lance photographer who often works with Vanity Place.  He and Ellery dated several years back, and while their romance didn't work out, they remained friends.  Not close friends, but friends nonetheless.  He's trying to buy a small, independent brewery, and when Ellery's editor offers him a large sum of money to make sure she's doing a positive article.  He agrees, but doesn't know a thing about romance novels, so he consults with his sister, who recommends her favorite romance, Kiltlander.

As the story moves on, both Ellery and Axel remember their former relationship (the good parts and the bad), travel the world meeting readers of all shapes and sizes, and learn to appreciate a good romance novel.

My thoughts: 
OMG this book was so cute!!!  I read and loved Ms. Cready's Seducing Mr. Darcy, and when I saw the blurb for this book I knew I had to read it.

A Novel Addiction has everything I want in a contemporary romance, plus Outlander references, for a book full of win!!!  The humor is funny, the hero and heroine are likable, the secondary characters help move the story along without confusing or overshadowing the main story.

I loved the Vamp fans - they broke down into Team Britta or Team Ynez, and the fans are just as rabid as Team Jacob and Team Edward fans...

The Kiltlander scenes were my favorites:  Jemmie and Cara =Jamie and Claire.  The scene where Ellery sneaks into the bathroom to read Kiltlander because she's got to know what happens at the wedding scene is so funny.  And the fact that everyone she talks to has read and loves Kiltlander but won't spoil any of the book for her is such a true depiction of the camaraderie of the romance reading community in general - I loved it!!!  (And I had to go back and read my favorite parts of Outlander as soon as I finished A Novel Addiction *winks*)

The back story of Axel trying to come up with enough money to buy the bar, and Ellery's competition to win the spot at the other magazine added interest to the plot, but for me the most enjoyable parts were Ellery and Axel each reading Kiltlander and their reactions to it, as well as the romance that re-blooms between them.

I definitely recommend this book to any romance readers, especially fans of Outlander and "converts" to romance from other genres (like me).  This one goes on my "keeper shelf".


My Rating:
 
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: Drink Deep by Chloe Neill


Drink Deep
~Chloe Neill

Paperback: 352 pages 
Publisher: New American Library 
Publish Date: November 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 0451234863 
ISBN-13: 978-0451234865 
ASIN: B0052RERL4 

From the author's website:
Clouds are brewing over Cadogan House, and recently turned vampire Merit can’t tell if this is the darkness before the dawn or the calm before the storm. With the city iself in turmoil over paranormals and the state threatening to pass a paranormal registration act, times haven’t been this precarious for vampires since they came out of the closet. If only they could lay low for a bit, and let the mortals calm down.

That’s when the waters of Lake Michigan suddenly turn pitch black-and things really start getting ugly.

Chicago’s mayor insists it’s nothing to worry about, but Merit knows only the darkest magic could have woven a spell powerful enough to change the very fabric of nature. She’ll have to turn to friends old and new to find out who’s behind this, and stop them before it’s too late for vampires and humans alike.

*SPOILER FREE REVIEW*
As Drink Deep opens, Vampire Merit is trying to get over the events that took place in the previous book, Hard Bitten.  She's made the decision to soldier on and be the vampire she needs to be in order to do her job of protecting Cadogan House and its inhabitants.  To that effect, she's been working with Jonah, from Grey House, who's been teaching her a few new things and is still trying to recruit her for the Red Guard.

When Lake Michigan suddenly turns black and stops moving, Chicago immediately blames it on their favorite supernatural scapegoat - the vampires.  Merit's job is to find out what's happening and make it stop, but in the absence of any clues she doesn't know how to fix it.  Adding to Merit's problems is Frank, the receiver appointed by the Greenwich Presidium to review Cadogan House; he's instituted a new policy of blood-rationing and is trying to edge Merit out of her position at the House.

While trying to solve the city's problem and dealing with Frank's machinations at the house, Merit is also trying to salvage her fractured friendship with Mallory, and that's not going so well either.  Has Merit finally taken on too much to handle?  Are the vampires going to finally be ousted from Chicago, or will it only be Cadogan House that suffers....

My Thoughts:
Ms. Neill's world-building is so well crafted it's like going back home after vacation each time I pick up the newest installment - as soon as I open the book I fall right in and immerse myself in this fictional, vampire-infused Chicago.  Merit continues to be one of my favorite UF heroines - she's tough, smart, loyal, and persistent, but not obnoxiously so.  She's definitely the kind of chick I'd love to have as a friend, if she wasn't a vampire ;)  The cast and crew of secondary characters are well-rounded and consistent - they stress me out right along with Merit!

I've got a little confession to make:  I liked Jonah in Hard Bitten and like him even more in Drink Deep.  *points to self* I'm definitely a Jonah fan; he's a stand-up guy and I think he and Merit work well together.  Is there some attraction there?  Sure, but Merit handles it nicely and I like the underlying tension between them; I"m a sucker for a love-triangle and usually try to see one whether it's there or not.

After the last book, I didn't want to see Tate ever again.  He's back in Drink Deep and creeps me the *f* out.  He talked Merit out of something that I hope won't come back to haunt her.

As far as the mystery of the lake, I enjoyed it - I kept flip-flopping between two theories but was wrong on both counts.  I did figure out the problem before Merit did though...

There are some changes that take place in Drink Deep, including two shockers near the end of the book.  I think most people will be happy with the surprise and not so happy with the twist (I'm sorry I can't be any less cryptic without giving away spoilers).  I surprised myself by being not so happy about the surprise, but can't wait to find out what's going on with the twist - this one's going to be good, I can feel it!!

So, again, I've got to trust Ms. Neil that she knows what's best for Merit and that she'll get her HEA by the end of the series.  Biting Cold is going to kill me, I can tell already!!



My Rating:
 
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Character Chat with Chuck Merit from the Chicagoland Vampire Series


Please join me in welcoming a special guest to Caught in a FAB Romance:  Merit's grandfather and Chicago Ombudsman, Chuck Merit!!!
_____________________

Patti: Hi Mr. Merit; thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions. Can you tell us a little bit about Merit as a child? Was she always this headstrong and passionate about solving problems? 

Chuck: Thank you for having me. And please, call me Chuck. *Laughing* As for Merit, I think you've hit the nail on a the head. My granddaughter has always known who she was--even if her father didn't exactly approve. I think that's why her change to vampire was so hard at first.

Patti: I know her relationship with her father is strained, at best. Do you see any hope for a reconciliation there?

Chuck: They are so much alike, Joshua and Merit. Headstrong. Stubborn. Independent and incredibly self-reliant. But I think that stands between them, as they are both convinced they're right. I would love to see reconciliation and understanding between them, but only time will tell.

Patti: It’s obvious that Merit loves you very much. Did she spend a lot of time with you as a child? How were you able to hide the existence of supes from her? 

Chuck: My wife and I saw Merit more than anyone else, I suppose. She spent summers with us, and afternoons after school. I was still on duty in those days, of course, so she spent more time with my wife than me, but yes, she was a constant fixture in our house. She loved cheese sandwiches; I remember that well. Always wanted a cheese sandwich as a snack.

Patti: You’ve got your finger on the pulse of the supernatural community. Is there anything that ever surprises you? 

Chuck: *Belly laughing* My dear, rarely a day goes by when something doesn't surprise me. That's the nature of the supernatural, I think.

Patti: I love when we read about the river nymphs and their reaction to quiet, sort of nerdy Jeff. What’s going on there?

Chuck: *Chuckling* It's fascinating, isn't it? The skill he has with those girls. I've never asked him outright, but I assume the magnetism is some kind of magical attraction. Not that the boy doesn't have fine qualities of his own.

Patti: How did you end up with Catcher and Jeff as employees? Was there some sort of job announcement? A supernatural interview process?

Chuck: Now, I can't exactly give away confidential information. Let's say I knew exactly what I was looking for, and when Catcher and Jeff were brought to my attention by certain interested parties, I knew how good they'd be and snatched them up at the first opportunity.

Patti: What are your hopes for Merit’s future?

Chuck: I wish her love. Happiness. A family of her own so that she can know she's loved and truly feel it. 

Patti: Thank you again for answering my questions! Best of luck to you and the guys!

Chuck: Thank you, doll. I appreciate having the chance to chat with you.

(Patti:  *blushes* He called me doll!!!!!)




Drink Deep
~Chloe Neill

Paperback: 352 pages 
Publisher: New American Library 
Publish Date: November 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 0451234863 
ISBN-13: 978-0451234865 
ASIN: B0052RERL4 

From the author's website:
Clouds are brewing over Cadogan House, and recently turned vampire Merit can’t tell if this is the darkness before the dawn or the calm before the storm. With the city iself in turmoil over paranormals and the state threatening to pass a paranormal registration act, times haven’t been this precarious for vampires since they came out of the closet. If only they could lay low for a bit, and let the mortals calm down.

That’s when the waters of Lake Michigan suddenly turn pitch black-and things really start getting ugly.

Chicago’s mayor insists it’s nothing to worry about, but Merit knows only the darkest magic could have woven a spell powerful enough to change the very fabric of nature. She’ll have to turn to friends old and new to find out who’s behind this, and stop them before it’s too late for vampires and humans alike.
About the author: 
Chloe Neill was born and raised in the South, but now makes her home in the Midwest–just close enough to Cadogan House and St. Sophia’s to keep an eye on things. When not transcribing Merit’s and Lily’s adventures, she bakes, works, and scours the Internet for good recipes and great graphic design. Chloe also maintains her sanity by spending time with her boys–her favorite landscape photographer/husband and their dogs, Baxter and Scout. (Both she and the photographer understand the dogs are in charge.) Chloe is represented by Lucienne Diver of The Knight Agency. Chloe is a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.



Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pam's Review: Caressed by Moonlight by Amanda J. Greene

Caressed by Moonlight
~Amanda J. Greene

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Amanda Greene
Publish Date: May 6, 2011
ISBN-10: 0578064006
ISBN-13: 978-0578064000
ASIN: B004EEONLK

From the author's website:
Dorian Vlakhos is no ordinary aristocrat. He is a vampire king, who will do anything to save his clan from complete annihilation, before an ancient curse can claim his immortal life. 

Penniless and orphaned, Victoria Kingston has nothing to bring to a marriage, yet she must shackle an unsuspecting gentleman into marriage by the end of the month or forfeit her rights as guardian of her younger sister. With the help of her dearest friend, Victoria begins her hunt, and vows to stay far away from the dark, mysterious, Dorian Vlakhos. 

After meeting the beautifully innocent Miss Kingston, Dorian had to have her. He would do absolutely anything to make Victoria his. One sweet stolen kiss would bring them together while a force, more powerful than any vampire, would bind them for all eternity, but treachery, war, and death rule Dorian’s dark world and Victoria would be fortunate to survive.

Victoria Kingston’s father killed himself, leaving her as the sole provider and caretaker for her eight year old sister, Margaret. Because Victoria had to sell almost everything to pay off her father’s debts, she has no choice but to go live with their only living relative, Aunt Nelly. Aunt Nelly loathed Victoria’s mother and seems to feel the same way about Victoria. Aunt Nelly tells Victoria that she has a month to get married so she can provide for her younger sister, or else she will never be able to see Margaret. Victoria is determined to find a husband, and starts attending balls and such to do just that.

Dorian Vlakhos is a very old vampire and a king of his clan. He escapes to London to try to divert the attention of the witches that are attacking his people. Dorian must make sure that people see him in London; therefore he must attend the social gatherings of the Season. At one such gathering he meets a young lady, Victoria, and feelings that he doesn’t recognize slowly start to stir.

My thoughts:
This felt different than your typical vampire book, but in a good way. Victoria, as a woman who had an extremely difficult task set upon her to marry within a month, just took it in stride and decided that if that is what it would take to keep her younger sister with her, then that is what she would do. Her character is refreshingly strong, and in other circumstances which I can’t mention because of spoilers, she acts in the same way.

Dorian, for his extremely old age, wasn’t as hard, or emotionally unavailable, as would be expected. Honestly, although he was a vampire he seemed emotionally human to me most of the time. A vampire that Dorian looked up to did as well. Here is a quote that that vampire once told Dorian:

“Love is not a weakness, Dorian, but a strength. It can give you more pleasure, more sorrow, more power, and more pain than anything on this earth.” (p. 221)

The one thing I didn’t like so much in this book was the shifting of the point of view. I don’t mind so much if it shifts from one chapter to the next, but sometimes it gets confusing when it happens in the same chapter with no page break or anything to notify of the change.

This was a romantic adventure that kept me up late wondering what was going to happen, but in the end all my questions were answered and I was fulfilled. Because of the ending I believe another book is in the works, and I’m excited to read it when it becomes available.
My Rating:

Pam


Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Beginning of The End





Yes, that means exactly what you think it means:  Book Addict/Caught in a FAB Romance is ending its run.  Yet another book blog succumbs to the triple threat of stress, lack of time, and real life.  I have books for review through January, so I'll be around for a little while, but after those reviews are done, so am I.

It has been a fabulous two years and I am thrilled to have 'met' each and every one of you, but I need to spend more time with my family.  This was such a hard decision to make, I agonized over it for quite some time.  The writing has been on the wall for a while now, I just didn't want to read it.  Thank you for welcoming me into the book blogging community - it's been an experience I'll treasure.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: If I Tell by Janet Gurtler


If I Tell 
~Janet Gurtler 

Reading level: Young Adult 
Paperback: 256 pages 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire 
Publish Date: October 1, 2011 
ISBN-10: 1402261039 
ISBN-13: 978-1402261039 
ASIN: B005EU50PG

From the author's website:
It was like watching a train wreck. I wanted to look away but couldn't take my eyes off them. 

Her best friend and her mom's boyfriend. Locking lips. This is the secret Jasmine Evans has to keep at all costs. Because her mom is pregnant, and Jaz doesn't want to ruin her life-again (just being born did it the first time). But the harder Jaz tries to pretend everything is okay, the faster her life spins out of control. Until Jackson. He doesn't care about the popularity of her friends or the color of her skin. But can she really trust a guy who just transferred in from reform school? She might be willing to chance the heartbreak, but telling him everything and risking the truth getting out is a whole other level of scary.

If I Tell is the story of Jaz Evans, a young, biracial girl who catches her mother's boyfriend, Simon, kissing Jaz's best friend, Lacey.  Jaz has convinced herself to tell her mother what she saw, then her mother suddenly announces she's pregnant.  Jaz is torn between telling her mother and keeping the secret.  She's devastated that Simon, someone she looked up to and trusted, could betray her mother, and, in a round-about way, he betrayed Jaz too.  So now she's lost Simon and her best friend, and she's angry and hurt. While she's trying to work through it, there's a new guy, Jackson, hanging around, and Jaz thinks she could like him, but he's bad news, so she really should stay away from him.  But she can't.  And between Jackson and her new friend, Ashley,  Jaz finds that life is full of surprises, some good and some not so good, but it is the choices you make that ultimately determine who you are.

My thoughts:
While If I Tell starts off with a secret, it ultimately spirals into so much more.  In only 244 pages, it touches on several difficult subjects:  race, teenage drinking, pregnancy, betrayal, homosexuality, depression, rape, and "second generation parenting".  The problems that teenagers face today are realistically portrayed, and the actions of the characters are not cookie-cutter solutions where everyone gets along and goes home happy.

While at times I was frustrated with Jaz and felt like she was feeling sorry for herself, I thought to myself, "What teenager doesn't, really?"  Add to that her mother left her for her grandparents to raise and is now having another baby, she doesn't feel like she fits with either the black or white community, and the two people she confides in have betrayed her.  Who wouldn't be feeling sorry for themselves?

The secondary characters were varied and interesting and each character had their own story to add to the reader's perception of all the things going on in Jaz's head.

If I Tell was a wonderfully written journey of self-discovery:  for Jaz to realize she does have a place where she fits in, to understand what you see isn't always what you get, and to know that it's okay to ask for help.

My Rating:


Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Interview with Kristine Grayson, author of Utterly Charming

Please join me in welcoming author Kristine Grayson to Caught in a FAB Romance! Ms. Grayson's latest release, Utterly Charming, is out now.  (More info after the interview)

First the obvious question: Where did you get the idea to take a traditional fairy tale and “change it up” to modern times?
I never quite know where the ideas come from. One of my favorite editors asked me to write a short story about Battle Wizards—fights and magic—and somehow I came up with a story called “The Strangeness Of The Day.” I wrote it under my real name, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and the story won all kinds of awards, including a really prestigious French Fantasy award. (You can find it in my collection of award-winning stories, Recovering Apollo 8 or as a stand-alone e-book.) That story featured the opening of Utterly Charming—the fight with Blackstone and Ealhswith, all from Nora’s point of view. When I finished, I felt really uncomfortable. What about poor Emma? And then my husband (and first reader) said, “This is a novel, you know.” So I wrote it, and it came out as romance, which made me happy, because I love the genre.

If you would, please tell us a little bit about Utterly Charming.
I always tell people the high concept: Prince Charming falls in love with Sleep Beauty’s lawyer. In some ways, though, it’s about falling in love as an adult versus as a kid. Blackstone—my Prince Charming—fell for Emma—Sleeping Beauty—as a boy. He falls for Nora as a grown man, and isn’t sure what to do, because he’s been protecting Emma for all of these years.

I love that Sleeping Beauty was ticked off when she woke up. Do you plot out the stories ahead of time or wait and see where the writing takes you?
I let my stories take me where they want to go. I kept thinking that if I had missed 1,000 years of life, I’d be really mad. So Emma woke up mad, and stayed that way. After all, all the burdens fall on her—a new world, new language, new life, plus her guy is 1,000 years older than she is. Not romantic at all, in my opinion.

If they turned Utterly Charming into a movie, who do you imagine would play your characters? 
I have trouble envisioning this with modern actors. I suppose George Clooney would have to play Blackstone and Danny DeVito (or the guy who just won the Emmy for Game of Thrones) would be Sancho. But Emma? There aren’t a lot of black-haired beauties in Hollywood, so she’d probably have to be an unknown. And Nora? That’s the real tough one, because she’s short and perky and not traditionally beautiful. I actually prefer thinking of the casting this way: Rosaline Russell as Nora (I know, she wasn’t short, but a real Tough Gal) and Cary Grant as Blackstone, with Audrey Hepburn as Emma. That’s the perfect casting for me.

What kinds of books do you like to read when you’re not writing? What are some of your favorites?
I read in all genres, which explains why I write in all genres under different names. Long-time favorites—books I reread every year—are The Great Gatsby and Rebecca. But I pretty much read everything. I do a recommended reading list every month on my blog, www.kriswrites.com, and discuss books from nonfiction to Regency to hardboiled noir to science fiction.

What made you pick romance as your genre to write?
It picked me.

Do you have any input in your covers? They’re gorgeous – I fell in love with the cover of Wickedly Charming the first time I saw it, and Utterly Charming and Thoroughly Kissed are also stunning!
Sourcebooks asks me for scenes and cover recommendations, but other than that, I don’t have a lot of say. I’m happy with that because I’m not a visual person. I love what they’re doing with the covers. Wait until you see the cover for Emma’s story, Thoroughly Kissed, coming in June. (It’s on my website, www.kristinegrayson.com) It’s spectacular.

I see that you also write under Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Kristine Dexter. How does that work, keeping the pseudonyms separate? Does it help with keeping the series separate?
I also write as Kris DeLake (upcoming) and Kris Nelscott (mystery), and a bunch of names I can’t tell you for contractual reasons. On my original work, I use the pen names to help my readers. Kristine Grayson books are light and fun; Kris Nelscott books are so dark that I’m pretty sure my hero (Smokey Dalton) has never ever cracked a joke. As a reader, I like to know what I’m getting. I want to pick up a book and know that no one will die or no blood will be shed. I have nightmares, so my bedtime reading is always romance. It used to be romance and YA, but then YA got really dark, and you couldn’t tell by the cover. I read a great YA book with a really graphic rape scene right in the middle and got upset. If I had read that over lunch it wouldn’t have bothered me, but I read it in bed. I was up for another three hours. I don’t want to do that to my readers.

Do you have anything new in the works or is there something else you’d like to spotlight while you’ve got the floor, so to speak ;)
I’m doing a bunch of side stories about characters in the Kristine Grayson universe. If you liked Wickedly Charming (from last May), you might want to look up Standing Up For Grace, which follows two side characters in an adventure I couldn’t put in the book. Right now, the book is e-only, but it’ll be in trade paper soon. And there will be more, including some light mysteries set in the same world. Those will come out of a new company, WMG Publishing, who also do my short fiction.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and congratulations on the release of Utterly Charming!
Thanks for asking me! It’s been fun.


Utterly Charming 
~Kristine Grayson 

Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca 
Publish Date: October 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 1402248512 
ISBN-13: 978-1402248511 
ASIN: B005EU50K6 

From Goodreads:
Bestselling author Kristine Grayson's fairy tale romances bring the classic stories into the present day, where fairy tale characters must grapple with the complexities of modern life as well as their own destinies.

This time when Sleeping Beauty wakes up, she wants nothing to do with the man who kissed her. Consoling Alex Blackstone, the rejected suitor who is a brilliant magician but inept when it comes to women, falls to modern career woman and lawyer, Nora Barr. Nora now has to deal with Beauty's evil stepmother, and the discovery that Alex just might be her own personal Prince Charming...

About Kristine Grayson: 
Kristine Grayson always wanted to be a romance writer when she grew up. She became one in the late 1990s with the publication of her first romance novel, Utterly Charming. Since then, she has published five more novels. Her next, Wickedly Charming, will appear from Sourcebooks in May. 
Her work has won the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and she has been nominated for several other awards. Publishers Weekly has called her work "a delight," and Best Reviews labeled her "the reigning queen of paranormal romance."


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pam's Review and a Giveaway: Riversong by Tess Hardwick

Riversong
~Tess Hardwick

Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Publish Date: March 30, 2011
ISBN-10: 1935961144
ISBN-13: 978-1935961147
ASIN: B004WDRYVE

From Goodreads:
Author Tess Hardwick assembles a colorful cast of endearing small-town characters and takes you on a journey that will make you believe in the possibilities of life - even in the face of overwhelming adversity and unimaginable grief. 


Lee Tucker is the kind of woman you find yourself rooting for long after the last page is read. When her husband commits suicide,he leaves her pregnant and one million dollars in debt to a loan shark. Out of options, she escapes to her deceased mother's dilapidated house located in a small Oregon town that, like her, is financially ruined, heartbroken and in desperate need of a fresh tart. Lee's resilience leads to a plan for a destination restaurant named Riversong, to new chances for passion and love, and to danger from her dead husband's debt as her business blooms. 


A surprising mix of romance, humor, friendship, intrigue and gourmet food, Riversong entertains while reminding you of life's greatest gifts.

Lee Tucker grew up in a small town with an agoraphobic drunk for a mother. Anxious to leave her house, Lee takes off for college early and heads to Seattle, following her dream to become an artist. Fast forward; Lee is now in her thirties and her husband just committed suicide. Turns out he secretly borrowed money from a loan shark and saw no way out; now that loan shark is coming after Lee for his money, money that she doesn’t have. To top it all off, Lee just found out that she is pregnant, something that was not planned. She decides to run back to her house where she grew up, the one that was left to her when her mother died.

Going back to her hometown brings back unpleasant memories. But Lee is determined to make enough money to pay off the loan shark so she will not have to live her life in hiding. She decides to fix up and sell her mother’s, now her, house, and while she is waiting for that to be finished she gets a job. She starts working at a restaurant as a consultant, trying to figure out what to do to bring in more money for them. On Lee’s journey she finds love, makes true friends, and finds some long awaited answers.

My Thoughts:
This was a great book! I couldn’t believe it was Ms. Hardwick’s first novel. It starts off a little dark with Lee growing up feeling like she isn’t wanted, to having her husband leave her by shooting himself. But it lightens up along the way.

The characters are so real; it was so easy to lose myself in the story completely. Lee’s neighbor, Ellen, is like a second mother to her when Lee returns home. Ellen is in her seventies, but is still young at heart, and in body. Ellen makes sure Lee has good meals to eat when she comes home from work, is there to lend an ear when Lee needs to talk, and even helps Lee out by bearing arms a time or two.

Tommy, a musician who plays at the restaurant Lee works at, and a local EMT, has the ability to see Lee and connect with her on a level that no one has before. This scares Lee for a few reasons, and even makes her feel guilty because her husband has not been deceased for that long. I really liked Tommy’s character; he had his own mishaps in life and there was something really soulful about him.

From when a bear is climbing up the side of Lee’s house, to when she is finding love again, this book never has a dull moment. Let me be honest with you, when I first looked at the cover of this book I wasn’t a fan, but I am so happy that I read the synopsis and in turn, gave the book a chance. I guess what they say is true to never judge a book by its cover. This was truly a great read, one that I will be passing on to my family and friends.
My Rating:
Pam

And now for the giveaway:  
Thanks to Melange Books, we have a copy of Riversong to give away!  
To enter, leave a comment about a book cover you've loved (or hated).  
US Only, ends Oct. 20*.  

*The small print:  Caught in a FAB Romance is not responsible for books lost or stolen in the mail.

Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: Bear, Otter, and the Kid by TJ Klune

Bear, Otter, and the Kid
~TJ Klune

Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publish Date: August 12, 2011
ISBN-10: 1613720874
ISBN-13: 978-1613720875
ASIN: B005H3MRVK

From Goodreads:
Three years ago, Bear McKenna’s mother took off for parts unknown with her new boyfriend, leaving Bear to raise his six-year-old brother Tyson, aka the Kid. Somehow they’ve muddled through, but since he’s totally devoted to the Kid, Bear isn’t actually doing much living—with a few exceptions, he’s retreated from the world, and he’s mostly okay with that. Until Otter comes home.
Otter is Bear’s best friend’s older brother, and as they’ve done for their whole lives, Bear and Otter crash and collide in ways neither expect. This time, though, there’s nowhere to run from the depth of emotion between them. Bear still believes his place is as the Kid’s guardian, but he can’t help thinking there could be something more for him in the world... something or someone.

Darryl "Bear" McKenna was days away from his 18th birthday when he came home to a letter from his mother:  She's leaving town with her latest boyfriend who does't want kids; so his mother is leaving Bear's six-year-old brother, Ty, in Bear's care.  Bear is devastated - he's about to graduate and go to college on a scholarship, but now all that's about to change. Luckily he's got his girlfriend, Anna, his best friend, Creed, and Creed's older brother Oliver (Otter).  They all staunchly support Bear and Ty and rally around to make sure things are okay - not perfect, but they're making it work.

As the story opens, Bear, Ty, and Creed are headed Creed's parent's home for the summer.  Their house is supposed to be empty, but Otter is there.  Bear hasn't spoken to Otter in almost three years - since the "incident" that Bear doesn't want to think about.  He's still angry Otter left the way he did.  But everyone else is happy Otter is back, and maybe Bear is just fighting how he really feels...

Otter has been living in San Diego, but he's come back to get his head together and try to salvage his friendship with Bear: he knows Bear is the only person he's ever loved without reservation.  Sure, he had a boyfriend in San Diego, but he never stopped thinking about Bear and what happened between them.  He thought he was doing the right thing when he left, but now he's not so sure, and he's come home to try to fix it.

What follows is a heartwarming, heartbreaking, frustrating and beautiful story of finding love and finding yourself.

My thoughts:
I really enjoyed Bear, Otter, and the Kid.  TJ Klune has a knack for writing sympathetic characters and the reader will be feeling all the ups and downs in the story right along with them.  Klune writes a heartbreaking situation, but he does so with bits of humor interspersed to keep the reader from wallowing in pity:

Creed scowls.  "Hardly.  All he does now is mope like a goddamn teenage girl.  Anytime I'm home, he's in his room with the door locked.  I'm telling you guys, he got worked over really bad in San Diego.  I thought the whole point of having a gay brother was that they were supposed to be all cool and shit.  I've got a defective gay."
~ 21%, Bear, Otter, and the Kid

The secondary characters are written into the story in such a way that you think about them when they're not on the page.  You find yourself wondering how Ty is doing at his first sleepover or how Anna has been since the breakup.    Ty, Creed, Anna, and even the neighbor Mrs. Paquinn add depth to an already emotion-filled story.  I'll warn you up front, Bear, Otter, and the Kid is full of angst, but it's sooo good.  Bear does a lot of internal monologues, things he wants to say, needs to say, but doesn't say:

But everything else was crumbling around me, and I didn't know what else to do.  I know that I can't keep using that as an excuse, no matter how hard I try.  But something funny happened, Creed.  Otter came back.  Otter came back and something in me shifted, something in my broke free.  For the first time in a long time, I saw myself through somebody else's eyes.  It was blinding because it was like looking into the sun.  I've never had anyone look at me that way before.  Something in me changed, and I've been struggling with it since.  It's an uphill battle every day, and I don't see the end in sight, and that terrifies me.  But if you want to know the truth, I want you to know.  I love him.  I love Otter.  I think I always have, and I think I always will.  It sounds weird, I know, coming from me.  I'm the last person you'd expect to hear say something like this.  I just don't want to keep it in anymore.  I'm tired of fighting it, and Otter told me the fight for me was all he's ever known, and I couldn't do that to him anymore.  Not when he finally came home to me.
~56%, Bear, Otter, and the Kid

In case you can't tell from the monologue, Bear has a hard time accepting he's gay.  He does love Otter but can't admit he's gay.  I found this one of the most endearing and frustrating aspects of the book.  While I understand Bear's reluctance, at the same time I could feel Otter's pain and feelings of rejection.

One part of the story I had a problem with was Bear's mother.  Without giving away spoilers, her part in the story didn't make any sense and was never explained.  I think the story could have ended the same way without her appearance.

The last thing I'm going to mention is Bear's younger brother Ty.  Ty is absolutely adorable:  he's super-smart, and at first I was worried he'd be an annoying kid with a saccharine personality.  Not so - he was quite yoda-like with his knowledge of how the world works and his ability to read people.  Great kid, fun to read, full of smart advice for not only Bear, but the rest of the gang as well.

Poignant, funny, hopeful and heartwarming, I absolutely recommend Bear, Otter, and the Kid.    The sex is secondary to the storyline, very mild, so this would be good for new readers of gay romance, as well as those with a bit more experience in the genre.



My Rating:
 

Book provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa


The Iron Knight
~Julie Kagawa

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harlequin
Publish Date: October 25, 2011
ISBN-10: 0373210361
ISBN-13: 978-0373210367

From Goodreads:
Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.  Unless he can earn a soul. 

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought. 

Then Meghan Chase - a half human, half fey slip of a girl - smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive. >

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end - a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Prince Ash of the Winter Court is on a quest - he intends to gain a human soul and thus be able to reside in the Iron Kingdom with his half-human love, Megan Chase, the Iron Queen.  As a fairy, he cannot be in the Iron Kingdom without becoming deathly ill, so he begins a journey to the End of the World to fulfill his promise to find a way to be with her.  No one has ever come back from the End of the World however, and Ash is going to need some assistance.  His traveling companions are quite a surprising and eclectic group, but they each have a reason for joining Ash's travels and hoping for his success.

My thoughts:
I absolutely loved the Iron King trilogy (my 5-star review of The Iron Queen here) and I was looking forward to Ash's story - I have been Team Ash from the first book.  That being said, The Iron Knight fell a bit flat for me.  Don't get me wrong - the writing was fabulous; Ms. Kagawa's imagination never ceases to amaze me.

We don't see much of Megan in this book, which makes sense since it's Ash's book, but I missed her.  We do get a big surprise in the form of a character from Ash's past.  I really didn't like her, though, and spent the whole book yelling at Ash to quit mooning over her.  Even though she redeemed herself near the end of the story, I still don't like her. (I think that might make me a bad person, lol).  Ash was also very moody around Puck.  I figured since their feud was over they'd be chums or whatever but no, he treated Puck pretty badly.  Upon retrospect, Ash has always been moody, so I don't know why this surprised me.

There were several aspects to the story that I did love:  The back and forth between The Big Bad Wolf and Grimalkin left me wanting more.  I'm pretty sure there's a good backstory there; I'd love to know what it is.  That would probably involve knowing what, exactly, Grimalkin is, so we'll probably never know...

The River of Dreams and the town of Phaed, where names are forgotten, were fascinating and creepy.  I am still continually amazed at the depth of Ms. Kagawa's creativity - the creatures that her characters encounter and the trials they go through are beautifully written and vivid.

I think, for me, the problem was that The Iron Knight was the story of Ash Finding His Way To Megan, not Ash And Megan's Happily Ever After With Adventures Together.  So the issue is with me, the reader, not Ms. Kagawa, the writer.

Would I still recommend this series?  ABSOLUTELY.  This is a series you don't want to miss.

My Rating:


This book was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Review: Utterly Charming by Kristine Grayson


Utterly Charming 
~Kristine Grayson 

Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca 
Publish Date: October 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 1402248512 
ISBN-13: 978-1402248511 
ASIN: B005EU50K6 

From Goodreads:
Bestselling author Kristine Grayson's fairy tale romances bring the classic stories into the present day, where fairy tale characters must grapple with the complexities of modern life as well as their own destinies.

This time when Sleeping Beauty wakes up, she wants nothing to do with the man who kissed her. Consoling Alex Blackstone, the rejected suitor who is a brilliant magician but inept when it comes to women, falls to modern career woman and lawyer, Nora Barr. Nora now has to deal with Beauty's evil stepmother, and the discovery that Alex just might be her own personal Prince Charming...
Nora Barr is a young attorney who decided to open her own practice instead of joining a big law firm out of law school.  Money's running short because she doesn't have a lot of clients, so when Aethelstan (Alex) Blackstone shows up in her building looking for an attorney, she agrees to talk to him.  It turns out he's trying to contact a dear friend in a coma, but the friend's guardian won't let him near her.  He is not related to this friend, nor does he have any sort of custody, so Nora tells him she can't help him and sends him on his way.  A few days later, Nora gets a call from Alex's friend telling her he's in desperate need of an attorney and to come right away.

What follows is a story about true love and what happens when you get what you think you want.

My thoughts:
I kept expecting this story follow Sleeping Beauty and that's not at all what happened....

Nora is a tough attorney, even though she looks like a cheerleader.  I like that she doesn't let anyone walk all over her - even magical beings who could turn her into a frog, lol.  She's practical, except where Alex is concerned, something about him just keeps Nora off-center.  But not so off-center that she doesn't continue to do what she thinks is right.

Alex did not grow on me as much as he could have.  His blind infatuation with Emma (the close friend in a coma), I think, in part was responsible for this - how can a romance grow and develop with Nora while he is pursuing Emma?

I loved Alex's friend, Sancho - he was funny and vividly written; I loved the scenes he was involved in! Sancho was the kind of wise but irreverent secondary character who lights up the page.

Utterly Charming was a fun, modern twist to a traditional fairy tale, full of magical characters learning to navigate life the 20th century.  A cute, light read.



My Rating:

The first book in this series, Wickedly Charming, is currently free in ebook format from your favorite retailers through October 9!

Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pam's Review: Lethal by Sandra Brown



Lethal
~Sandra Brown

Hardcover: 480 pages 
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing 
Publish Date: September 20, 2011 
ISBN-10: 1455501476
ISBN-13: 978-1455501472 
ASIN: B004QZ9QLO 

From goodreads:
When her four year old daughter informs her a sick man is in their yard, Honor Gillette rushes out to help him. But that "sick" man turns out to be Lee Coburn, the man accused of murdering seven people the night before. Dangerous, desperate, and armed, he promises Honor that she and her daughter won't be hurt as long as she does everything he asks. She has no choice but to accept him at his word.

But Honor soon discovers that even those close to her can't be trusted. Coburn claims that her beloved late husband possessed something extremely valuable that places Honor and her daughter in grave danger. Coburn is there to retrieve it -- at any cost. From FBI offices in Washington, D.C., to a rundown shrimp boat in coastal Louisiana, Coburn and Honor run for their lives from the very people sworn to protect them, and unravel a web of corruption and depravity that threatens not only them, but the fabric of our society.


Honor is making cupcakes for her father in law’s birthday party when her four year old daughter, Emily, comes inside to tell her that there is a hurt man on their lawn. After Honor processes this statement, she rushes out to help the man. The man puts a gun to Honor’s chest and implies that she better cooperated so no one gets hurt. Honor figures out who the man is, Lee Coburn, a suspect on the run for murdering seven people the night before. She is terrified but willing to cooperate for her daughter’s safety. Coburn is trying hard to find something in Honor’s house. Honor has no idea what it is. Will Coburn find what he is looking for? Will Honor and Emily survive?

My thoughts:
I think that is all I feel comfortable saying about the plot without giving anything away. This was such a great book; it’s no wonder that Sandra Brown is a bestselling author. When I first read the synopsis about the book I was a little confused but didn’t try to figure it out because I rather not know much about the books I’m reading. But wow, this book was something else.

I don’t like when people say things like, “you’ll never guess the ending,” or “the ending is going to leave you shocked.” Because when I hear those things, I figure out what’s going to happen and then it’s ruined. So I’m not going to say that, even though that is not the case at all with the ending. However, there are other parts in this book that are like that so I can’t say too much without giving anything away which makes reviewing it pretty tough!

Here’s what I can say: The story is written from several points of view; while this usually bothers me that was not the case here. The author is talented and you automatically feel like you know the characters you are reading about. I was a little confused at first with all the characters, but I quickly learned who everyone was.
Honor makes a great female lead. She is a widow, living in a secluded area with her four year old daughter, facing this alleged murderer so bravely. She is such a good mom, and I found myself thinking, could I be that brave if I were in her shoes?

So while I don’t really want to say too much about the story, I hope that I still got my point across. Great story, great writing; this is definitely a book that I will be passing on to my friends and family to read.

My Rating:

 
Pam

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wrap Up: Sassy September

September was an awesome month here at Caught in a FAB Romance!!!  I read a few good books, did a few giveaways, interviewed one of my favorite authors!!

Here's what I read:
1.  Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins (4 stars)
2.  The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern (4 stars)
3.  Good Girls Don't by Victoria Dahl (4 stars)
4.  Last Breath by Rachel Caine (4 stars) review to come at Fiction Vixen's place
5.  Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (4 stars)
6.  Bad Boys Do by Victoria Dahl (4 stars)
7.  Real Men Will by Victoria Dahl (2 stars)
8.  Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy (5 stars)
9.  Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews (4 stars)
10. Willing Victim by Cara McKenna (4 stars)
11. In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks (4 stars)
12. Utterly Charming by Kristine Grayson (3 stars) review to come
13. Bear, Otter, and the Kid by TJ Klune (4 stars) review to come

_____________________

I need to stop a minute and tell you about The Night Circus.  I have tried and tried to write a review, but nothing I write expresses how I feel about the book.  It was amazing:  magical, heartbreaking, wonderous, dark.  This is a book you need to set aside time to read - it's not for reading while you're on hold with the cable company, or while you're waiting in the pick-up line at school.  You need to pay attention or you'll miss the nuances that make this book so special.  It took me forever to finish; my copy is battered and torn in several places, I took it with me everywhere.  I highly recommend.
_____________________


Now, what did Pam review in September?  Quite a varied selection:
1.  Sweet Venom by Terra Lynn Childs (4 stars)
2.  Chosen by Paula Bradley (3 stars)
3.  Where Demons Fear to Tread by Stephanie Chong (4 stars)
4.  In a Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener (2 1/2 stars)
5.  Deep Disclosure by Dee Davis (2 stars)

In addition, I interviewed one of my favorite authors - Lauren Dane (that giveaway is closed, btw).  It was so hard not to fangirl squee all the questions, lol.

Some great new covers are out for Molly Harper and Chloe Neill, and October is looking to be a FABulous month of new releases!  I've got a few author interviews and giveaways coming up on October, so WATCH THIS SPACE!!

How was your September?  
Read anything you absolutely have to share?  
Found some new covers or something you want to spotlight?


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: Real Men Will by Victoria Dahl


Real Men Will 
~Victoria Dahl 

Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages 
Publisher: HQN Books 
Publish Date: October 25, 2011 
ISBN-10: 0373776098 
ISBN-13: 978-0373776092 
ASIN: B005JSRB0U

From the author's website:
It was meant to be a one-night stand. One night of passion. Scorching hot. Then Beth Cantrell and Eric Donovan were supposed to go their separate ways. That’s the only reason he lied about his name, telling her he was really his wild younger brother. Hiding his own identity as the conservative Donovan. The “good” one. 

But passion has its own logic, and Eric finds he cannot forget the sable-haired beauty with whom he shared one night of passion. When Beth discovers that Eric has lied, however, she knows he cannot be trusted. Her mind tells her to forget the blue-eyed charmer. If only every fiber of her being did not burn to call him back.

Eric Donovan is the oldest of the three Donovan siblings.  When their parents were killed in a car accident, he stepped in took over running the family brewery and raised his brother and sister through their late teens.  He's always been responsible, and lately it just seems like that's all there is.  Now that his brother and sister are taking on more responsibilities at the brewery and have significant others in their lives, he's feeling lost...and alone.

Beth Cantrell is the manager of The White Orchid, an adult novelty shop that also carries sexy clothing, runs an advice column in the local paper, and holds classes on a variety of sexual subjects.  Beth does't feel like a sex expert, but feels like the men in town view her as such, which is hard to live up to when dating.  She wants to find someone she doesn't feel like she needs to perform for or prove anything to, someone she can be herself with.

My thoughts: 
I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, Good Girls Do (Tessa's story), and Bad Boys Don't (Jamie's story).  Eric was kind of a jerk in both books, but I thought he was misunderstood and was at heart a pretty good guy.  While this did turn out to be true, I just couldn't warm up to his story.

For me, there was just too much angst - between Eric's midlife crisis and Beth's past chasing her into the present, and I had a hard time with this book.  Don't get me wrong - they each have a good story, but I think both of their stories together were overwhelming. Eric is battling childhood demons related to his parents, as well as dealing with the changing dynamics of the brewery now that his siblings are taking on more responsibilities.  His back-and-forth with his brother Jamie, which has been a constant throughout the series, is frustrating.

Beth's history was traumatic in a different way and she definitely has her own issues to resolve. She's stressed in her personal life in part because of her job, and I couldn't figure out why she didn't just quit.  Even after learning her reasoning for working at The White Orchid, I just didn't get it.  Also, her relationship with the Kendalls, the villains who have been a constant in the series, felt weak.  Based on her personality and social standing, the extent of their interactions seemed convenient for the story.

Would I still recommend the series?  Absolutely.  Victoria Dahl has a gift for writing witty, sexy scenes and characters you grow to care about.  I think Eric and Beth will resonate with some readers as a couple who overcomes their fears to grab their HEA.


My Rating:

Book received from the publisher via NetGalley.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins


Until There Was You
~Kristan Higgins

Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: HQN Books 
Publish Date: October 25, 2011
ISBN-10: 037377611X
ISBN-13: 978-0373776115
ASIN: B005JSRAO2

From the author's website:
Posey Osterhagen can't complain. She owns a successful architectural salvaging company, she's surrounded by her loveable, if off-center, family and she has a boyfriend—sort of. Still, something's missing. Something tall, brooding and criminally good-looking...something like Liam Murphy.

When Posey was sixteen, the bad boy of Bellsford, New Hampshire, broke her heart. But now he's back, sending Posey's traitorous schoolgirl heart into overdrive once again. She should be giving him a wide berth, but it seems fate has other ideas...

Cordelia "Posey" Osterhagen is not looking her best when she runs into the former (unrequited) love of her life: She's helping out in her parent's restaurant, sporting a traditional German waitress outfit (which she does not fill out, at all) and a mouth full of potato dumpling when Liam Murphy walks in to their kitchen, looking even better than he did when they were kids. He's just as disdainful of her as she remembers.  She's sorry to hear his wife died; Posey remembers her as a genuinely nice girl. Posey has decided that Liam's decision to back to Bellsford is not going to affect her one bit; there's no reason for her to interact with Liam now that they're adults and their lives have gone in different directions. Although he doesn't know it, Liam broke her heart and she's never forgiven him. Now all she has to do is convince her heart...

Liam Murphy is bringing his 15-year-old daughter Nicole back to the town he feels closest to and is opening a custom motorcycle shop. He moved to Bellsford when he was 15, after some unfortunate youthful choices landed him in juvie for car theft. He met his late wife Emma in Bellsford, so it's as close to home as it gets for him. Plus, Emma's parents live nearby, and although they're not his favorite people, they do love Nicole and deserve to spend time with her. And even though he knows that by moving back as a widower he'll be like a minnow in a shark tank, he's determined to concentrate on raising Nicole and has no plans for anything even resembling dating. But he keeps running into Posey, and suddenly she's not just that skinny kid who crushed on him in high school...

My thoughts: 
I have a checklist that must be complete before I even think about opening a Kristan Higgins book: Favorite comfy chair? check. Pajamas on? check. Giant glass of diet coke? check. Tissues (for laughing and crying)? check. Kids asleep or out of the house (so as not to disturb Mommy while she's reading)? check. Then, and only then, I can settle in and enjoy reading.

Until There Was You is classic Kristan Higgins, but with a twist - we get not only the heroine's POV, but the hero's POV as well. Posey is cute - she's got an interesting career as a salvage artist; she rescues architecturally interesting things from homes and buildings and resells them. It sounds like a dream job (sweaty but fun). She's a people pleaser, especially as it pertains to her family. Example: She's seeing the owner of another restaurant in town and keeps it secret from her parents because it will upset them. Posey is adopted, but has never felt like her parents didn't love her or didn't consider her their own child. She's also petite and has a crazy-fast metabolism - she ate all the time, this book made me so hungry, lol.

Around the same time Liam comes back to town, Posey's cousin Gretchen shows up. Gretchen is a self-obsessed TV cooking show hostess, "The Barefoot Fraulein", who's quietly been fired from the network and comes home to Bellsford to "revamp the family restaurant". Her parents love Gretchen and don't realize that Gretchen and Posey don't get along. When Gretchen sort of moves in with Posey, then starts dating Posey's ex - the restaurateur - things just get more uncomfortable for everyone involved.

Meanwhile, Liam is trying valiantly to navigate the waters of being father to a 15-year-old girl and all her hormones. The scenes between Liam and Nicole are so funny - he was the "bad boy" in high school, so he knows what the boys in Nicole's school have on their mind:

"Look," Liam whispered, and against her will, Posey's entire side tingled.  "She's fifteen years old.  Bozo there's a senior.  Do the math."
 "What Math?" Posey asked.
 "The sex math."
 "You're an idiot," she muttered, shoving another fistful of popcorn into her mouth.
~ebook at 41%

I love that we get Liam's POV. He's a little young to be so curmudgeonly, but we see how the past affected his attitude present-day and the reasons he's so protective of Nicole. The differing POVs from Posey and Liam regarding the incident that broke Posey's heart so many years ago was an eye-opener. I will admit that even seeing Liam's mindset, I was frustrated with the way he treated Posey present-day; she deserved better. If they had just talked to each other, it would have been so much easier for everyone. I wasn't just mad at Liam though, I was mad at Posey for letting him treat her that way.

With a charming cast of secondary characters that enhance the main characters, I found myself falling in love with the town of Bellsford and it's inhabitants. In addition to Posey's parents, who only want Posey to be happy but are completely oblivious to her feelings, we are treated to Posey's (also adopted) brother Henry and his long-term partner, Jon, who is also Posey's best friend. Henry and Jon are great together - Henry is a surgeon and is almost comically obsessed with amputations, Jon is a popular high school teacher and he absolutely loves Posey to death (Big love for Jon from this reader, he's awesome!). There are also some deliciously awful characters who made Posey's life miserable as a teen and continue being horrible right into adulthood.

Until There Was You is both comical and compassionate. There's a movie theater scene that will make you laugh out loud and a prom horror story that will break your heart. Until There Was You touches on several difficult topics: adoption, homosexuality, family, death, and self respect, and gives the reader hope where a different author might make you feel only despair.

Kristan Higgins can put another notch on her bookshelf - Until There Was You is fabulous: I laughed and cried and was ready to pack up the family and move to Bellsford by the time I was done!

My Rating:


Book recieved from the Publisher via NetGalley.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

An Award, some Ebook Deals, and a Winner


Gini says:
Congratulations, your blog has been nominated as a Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger Blog!

The award was created to honor those whose blogs who exemplify the qualities Katherine “Kitty” Katt has -- those who always stay cutting edge, who always find the fun, the funny, and the cool, and who are always one step ahead of the competition.

The “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger Award” is only given to the amazingly awesome, so get down with your bad self, you’re deemed worthy to run with the A-C’s! And you’re also one step closer to being in the running for some cool prizes. (Contest is international.)

Now you get to spread the awesome by nominating other bloggers who are also harder, better, faster and stronger than the average blog bear. Not everyone’s as cool as you, so choose carefully!
Anyone who's known me for any amount of time knows what a huge Gini Koch fan I am - her Alien series is FABulous!  All you need to say is #Martini in the twitterverse and you get a universal round of *sigh*.  If you're not in the know about #Martini, you should be - this series rocks.  And I gotta be honest - I WANT THAT BAG!!!

I was nominated by Gini herself!  So what awesome blogs am I nominating for the Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger Award?  How 'bout these specimens of awesomeness:


Congratulations ladies!  Your blogs rock!  Here's what you need to do to be in the run for some pretty impressive prizes:

Your mission details:
Slap the graphic on your blog.
Give link props to the person who gave you the award (keep the hard, best, fast and strong on your side!).
Spread the awesome and nominate five (5) other bloggers who you think exemplify what it means to be cool, fun and cutting edge.
Let the recipients know they’ve won this honor on their blogs.
Last but not least, shoot Gini Koch an email at gini@ginikoch.com and let her know you’re the best of the best of the best, sir! (put “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” in the subject line!) by sharing that you’ve been nominated and telling her which other bloggers you nominated, and she’ll enter you into the “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” Contest.

Find out more details and what the loot is at http://www.ginikoch.com/winstuff.html.
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Sourcebooks has some eBook deals you won't want to miss!  These prices should be available at all online retailers, so no matter what you use for reading, you won't miss out:

Cover Me by Catherine Mann will be $0.99: 10/04/2011 – 10/17/2011 
Hot Zone will be in stores in December, so get a jump start on Catherine Mann’s 
hot new military romantic suspense series! 

 Mr. Darcy’s Obsession by Abigail Reynolds will be $2.99: 10/03/2011 – 10/09/2011 
Abigail’s latest Pemerbley Variation -retellings of Austen’s quintessential classic P&P-
 Mr. Darcy’s Undoing, will be in stores next week! 

Wickedly Charming by Kristine Grayson will be FREE: 10/03/2011 – 10/09/2011 
Utterly Charming, another fairy tale with a twist by Kristine Grayson, will be in stores in October!

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And lastly, I wanted to announce the winner of my ARC of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer:



Aeicha @ Word Spelunking 

Aeicha said: This is a great review. I'm intrigued by your feelings of being unbalanced and off center after reading this book, which must be incredibly powerful or emotional to provoke such feelings in a reader. I really like the idea of a dark, uneasy read. Thanks for the giveaway!

(Aeicha has been contacted)
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I hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend!  
Many thanks to all who entered my Mara Dyer contest and
 don't forget to check out those e-book deals!