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Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

The Seduction of an Unknown Lady by Samantha James

In Romance on July 3, 2010 at 2:55 am

Title: The Seduction of an Unknown Lady
Author: Samantha James
Genre: Fiction/Romance
Rating: ****/****
ISBN: 0060896493

This is the second in the McBride series, following the story of Aidan McBride & his heroine Fionna Hawkes set in Victorian England. They both have secret lives: she is a best-selling novelist & has a mother in the madhouse, he’s just left India & his military career for unknown reasons. Fionna has her own bookshop & is managing it well, needing the money for her mother’s care. She expected that her life would be solitary until Aidan walks into her life & refuses to leave. Of course, she can’t tell him her secrets, but is forced to when a secret admirer proves to have more than a little interest in her.

What James has done is set the novel with a gothic background, but fortunately did not let it override the plot. It wasn’t dark at all though the reader & characters know someone is watching Fionna, aside from Aidan himself. Both characters grow with each other in realistic ways, letting their secrets be known & as their love grows, they are able to confront what could possibly separate them.

Overall, an excellent romance where James definitely put in her best effort to build the plot & put in plenty of mystery & twists to have the reader enthralled. Plus, both Fionna & Aidan are likeable & believable characters. Fionna is a strong character, but not bossy or bitchy, & Aidan is more gentlemanly than your average rake, if indeed he should merit that label.

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I Can’t Think Straight by Shamim Sarif

In General Fiction, Romance on July 1, 2010 at 5:56 am


Title: I Can’t Think Straight
Author: Shamim Sarif
Genre: Fiction/Romance
Rating: ****/****
ISBN: 0956031617

This is a wonderful short novel by Shamim Sarif who also directed the film version which I recommend. It’s the story of two women learning to recognize the truth about themselves, after they fall in love. One is Tala, a Palestinian who is working on her fourth engagement & the other is Leyla a British Indian trying to endure work life while following her passion for writing fiction.

The novel deals a lot with the expectations of both their religious & traditional families (Tala a lax Christian, Leyla a Muslim). But it does offer insight into how these conservative views are not shared by everyone in their respective cultures e.g. Leyla’s sister Yasmin, Tala’s ex-fiance Ali. It is a short novel, which doesn’t allow for a lot of build-up before they both make their decision on how to live the rest of their lives, whether in truth or denial, but overall it’s an excellent piece of fiction with engaging characters.

Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford

In General Fiction, Romance, Vampire Novels/Series on May 30, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Title: Jane Bites Back
Author: Michael Thomas Ford
Genre: Fiction/Romance
Rating: ***/****

I stumbled upon this on the ‘new arrivals’ shelf at my library. My immediate reaction was ‘It was inevitable the two giants of the publishing industry, vamps & Austen, would be combined. I didn’t think it would be any good, but Michael Thomas Ford’s work really surprised me. It was written for Janeites. It poked fun at the Jane Austen industry (& the vampire novel industry), even poking fun at the book itself when you think about it.

Jane Austen is over 200 years old, she never died of Addison’s Disease at all. It was a cover. She’s been living in a small town in New York for ten years & unlike most vamps she can walk in the sun, but she does need a bit of blood every now & again. Being a lady of course, she doesn’t kill. The main story of the book is that Jane is trying to get her manuscript published, a book called ‘Constance’ that eventually ends up on the bestseller’s list.

But who will show up to spoil it all? This is where it gets a little funny to me. The one who turned her is a dashing Scottish poet, AKA the most romantic man in the world. Guess who? He’s trying to force her back with him, at the possible expense of her friends’ lives. There’s Anne, manager of her bookstore who reminds her of her sister Cassandra & Walter, a contractor always trying to get a date with Jane even though she feigns disinterest.

And just when you think it’s over, a rival shows up. I can’t spoil it, but every Janeite knows about this person & their opinion of Jane’s work. You will find it very funny!

No Man’s Mistress by Mary Balogh

In Romance on January 31, 2010 at 7:50 pm
No Man's Mistress by Mary Balogh

No Man's Mistress by Mary Balogh

Title: No Man’s Mistress

Author: Mary Balogh

Genre: Fiction/Romance/Regency

Rating: ****/****

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I just love Mary Balogh’s writing, it’s so eloquent, never awkward, & she builds up each character so that you get to know them very well.   In this book, which is a sequel to ‘More Than a Mistress’ involving the brother of the Duke of Tresham, Lord Ferdinand Dudley & his trip to an estate he has won at a hand of cards with the Duke of Bamber.   What happens here is that he arrives at the home, Pinewood, to find it already occupied by a woman Viola Thornhill who says the Duke of Bamber’s father had given her the house two years ago.

Being the man that he is, he doesn’t want to lose what he sees as rightfully his, so he sets about to stay in the house until a copy of the will arrives from London to prove he is the lawful owner of the estate.   Despite their immediate attraction to each other, they both decide to remain steadfast enemies in their mutual hope to drive the other off the property.  A few pranks ensue & Ferdinand turns on his charm to woo the local townspeople.

About halfway through the book, the plot changes dramatically to reveal the reason why Viola has taken possession of the house originally & what dangers may lurk for her once she is removed.  I don’t want to spoil anything, so I do suggest you read this book.  Ferdinand is a delightful hero, all masculine, but still tender & Viola is a captivating heroine.

You don’t have to read ‘More than a Mistress’ first, because the two books stand alone.  However, ‘No Man’s Mistress’ does give you updates about the Duke of Tresham’s romantic & home life which may spoil reading the original for you.

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More Than a Mistress

A Cousin’s Promise (Indiana Cousin’s Book #1) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

In Romance on January 31, 2010 at 7:36 pm
A Cousin's Promise (Indian Cousin's Book#1) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

A Cousin's Promise (Indian Cousin's Book#1) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Title: A Cousin’s Promise (Indiana Cousin’s Book#1)

Author: Wanda E. Brunstetter

Genre: Romance/Christian/Amish

Rating: ***/****

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In Brunstetter’s other Amish series, Indiana Cousin’s, we see a tragic accident transform the lives of Amish friends & lovers unexpectedly. The novel centers around the love story of Lorraine & Wayne who plan to get married next season, but are on a road trip with friends to Hershey Park when their car hits a pole.  Wayne wakes up & he has lost his leg, realizes he won’t be able to farm & support Lorraine so he calls off their wedding.

Deep inside Lorraine knows that Wayne is just feeling inadequate since he won’t be able to do his chosen profession & doesn’t want to create an unnecessary burden for her, but he is also being encouraged by his mother Ada to forget the marriage as well.  It seems everybody has given up on them, besides a few friends, & when an old boyfriend comes into town even Lorraine begins to think that there is no more hope.

This was definitely a better book than ‘A Merry Heart’ & it really shows how difficult situations can be made better if people will allow themselves to try something new instead of being upset about how things will never be the same.

The Laughing Corpse (Anita Blake #2) by Laurell K. Hamilton

In Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Vampire Novels/Series on January 31, 2010 at 7:27 pm
The Laughing Corpse (Anita Blake #2) by Laurell K. Hamilton

The Laughing Corpse (Anita Blake #2) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Title: The Laughing Corpse (Anita Blake #2)

Author: Laurell K. Hamilton

Genre: Fiction/Vampire

Rating: ****/****

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Well, in the second Anita Blake book the pace picks up & we see Anita interact a little more with the new master of the city, Jean Claude. (When will they get together? Hmmm…)  She’s also investigating supernatural attacks with the police which seem to point to the perpetrator being a zombie.  But what kind of zombie could be tearing people literally to shreds & what would be the motive for raising such a zombie?

Anita herself gets entangled in a web to raise a zombie which requires a human sacrifice when a millionaire Harold Gaynor propositions her.  Of course, she refuses & we see her through the whole book trying to find out who raised the zombie before she becomes a victim of it herself.

What I especially liked about this book is how Anita managed to navigate her way into new situations with powerful priests & priestesses who reveal more about what she could have become if her lot in life had been different.  It’s also pretty gore-rific, so if you do not want descriptions about body parts or blood running everywhere, perhaps you should pass up this book.

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Anita Blake #1: Guilty Pleasures

The Diaries of Avalon Rose by Sharon Hooper

In Romance on January 31, 2010 at 7:17 pm
The Diaries of Avalon Rose: First Blush by Sharon Hooper

The Diaries of Avalon Rose: First Blush by Sharon Hooper

Title: The Diaries of Avalon Rose: First Blush

Author: Sharon Hooper

Genre: Fiction/Romance/Erotica

Rating: **/****

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Avalon Rose is forced to leave her aunt’s residence to take employment at home as a maid, but she soon finds that her work requires her to do more than clean.  As the title implies, it’s a diary, but Avalon Rose seems to be a rather immature character who annoyed me the whole way though.  The plot was lacking, the sex scenes embarrassing, & the growing love of Avalon with a character Johnathan completely unbelievable.  Despite the pretty artwork & coverwork, I have to say that this book didn’t thrill me at all.  It was rather boring, but thankfully it was short so I could finish it quickly.  I wish I could say something nice about it, because it’s obvious that the author put a lot of work & planning into it, but I didn’t connect to it in the least.

There will be more diaries in the future, which according to Hooper’s website will be longer.  I’m not certain if I’ll read them, as this genre perhaps just isn’t meant for people like to read who want more plot & 3-d characters.

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http://www.diariesofavalonrose.com/

A Merry Heart (Brides of Lancaster County #1) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

In Romance on January 23, 2010 at 10:12 pm
A Merry Heart (Brides of Lancaster Country #1) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

A Merry Heart (Brides of Lancaster Country #1) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Title: A Merry Heart (Brides of Lancaster County #1)

Author: Wanda E. Brunstetter

Genre: Fiction/Amish/Romance

Rating: ***/****

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Okay, so I’m an atheist, but I decided to read an Amish romance story because of an article I read a few months ago which noted their rising popularity.  Also, last time I was in a bookstore I saw a table covered by stacks of these books.  Hey, I can’t help it, it looked interesting!

But it was culture shock! Still interesting, but a shock nonetheless considering our differences in values, plus the scripture quoted throughout the book.  I’m in the Bible Belt, but it still makes me feel strange when people quote scripture verbatim, even fictional characters.  Don’t ask me why, you’d be too offended to hear my answer.  Aside from this, I did like the protagonist Miriam who is bitter after her boyfriend jilted her two years ago.  Now, she has another man in her life wanting to marry her, but she believes it’s only because he needs a mother for his daughter, and not because he loves her.

Miriam really has a trying time trusting men, especially when she means an ‘English’ reporter who excites her in a new way, tells her that’s pretty, but deep down she knows nothing can happen with this man.  He is an outsider & she isn’t willing to abandon her church, her family, for this person.  Now, this is the only gripe I have about the novel, but it may just be a gripe with Amish values.  Nowhere did I read any character talking to Miriam about how she felt about being jilted, sure they talk about her behind her back, but practically push her on another guy to make her happy.  The lady has trust issues, why push her on another guy before those can be dealt with?

I guess Amish people just don’t think non-married people can be happy. I’m so happy I’m not Amish.  Despite this one complaint, I will continue reading these books as they are well-written (for any age) & I like reading about these people, even though I find their lifestyle to be completely ridiculous overall.

Yes, I’m mean. Wah!

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http://www.wandabrunstetter.com/

A Touch of Dead (Sookie Stackhouse: The Complete Stories) by Charlaine Harris

In Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Vampire Novels/Series on January 23, 2010 at 9:55 pm
A Touch of Dead (Sookie Stackhouse:The Complete Stories) by Charlaine Harris

A Touch of Dead (Sookie Stackhouse:The Complete Stories) by Charlaine Harris

Title: A Touch of Dead (Sookie Stackhouse: The Complete Stories)

Author: Charlaine Harris

Genre: Fiction/Vampire/Short Stories

Rating: ***/****

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If you haven’t read the series through ‘All Together Dead’, you may not want to read this collection because it may contain too many spoilers for you.  However, for fans who have read the series who didn’t want to go searching through Harris’ other novels to find these stories is in for a treat.  The book is short at just shy of two-hundred pages, but it’s packed with five stories that will make you laugh & feel a bit sentimental, as Sookie’s life stories normally do.

If you’re not interested in reading this, please just give it a chance for the story ‘Dracula Night’ alone.  And if you read the whole book, you’d learn a little more about Eric, Sookie’s cousin Hadley, & great-grandfather Niall. Read it, fans, read it.

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Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) – review

http://charlaineharris.com

The Wedding Challenge (Matchmaker Series #3) by Candace Camp

In Romance on January 23, 2010 at 9:31 pm
The Wedding Challenge by Candace Camp

The Wedding Challenge by Candace Camp

Title: The Wedding Challenge (Matchmakers #3)

Author: Candace Camp

Genre: Fiction/Romance/Regency

Rating: ***/****

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At the time I started it I didn’t realize it was the third book in the series.  After a bit, I put it down because I thought I would spoil the rest of the series, but I’m glad I picked it back up.  It’s my second Regency era romance novel & I have to say it’s pretty good.  It centers around Callie who goes to a masquerade of her aunt’s, meets a mysterious man, & is forbidden by her brother to see him.

Sensing that she isn’t receiving the full story from her brother, Callie enlists the help of a dear friend as a matchmaker.  The novel has a few twists & turns, the romance is built overtime, but it doesn’t drag out unnecessarily.  I really liked Camp’s writing & how each of the characters had depth & their own stories, which surprises me that this book has received more than a few negative reviews on Amazon.  Until I read the other novels in the series, I guess I won’t be able to evaluate this one properly.

If you’re looking for a Regency series that isn’t too graphic, has great characters you can empathize with & despise, don’t pass up these books by Candace Camp.  I look forward to reading the rest of the series in the future.

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