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12-in-2012 AAR Reading Challenge
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library addict



Joined: 06 Dec 2008
Posts: 1474

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Clock Challenge:
4 Contemporary books:
4) Heron’s Cove by Carla Neggers:
This is the second book in the author's Sharpe and Donovan series. As such I was prepared for the multiple, meandering subplots which all knit together by the end. It was also easier to keep track of who was who since most of the large cast of characters were introduced in the first book. It was at times frustrating when I wished the author had spent more time on a particular character or subplot, and the ending is rather anti-climatic, but overall I enjoyed the mystery. I also liked that the h/h both delve deeper into their own feelings and attitudes about their relationship, not questioning their love for the other, but debating how they will make it work. They also have to deal with the fact not all of their family members are keen on their relationship. But the deeper exploration of the h/h’s relationship is one of the perks of having a series featuring the same protagonists IMO. Looking forward to book three.

A Dime a Dozen Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Duodenary: Category Romance Challenge 12 down 0 to go…
The High Noon Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The New Release Calendar Challenge: 9 down 3 to go…
The Clock Challenge: 11 down 1 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Marie Ferrarella): 8 down 4 to go…
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library addict



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Clock Challenge:
4 Futuristic/Time Travel books:
4) Delusion in Death by JD Robb :
The latest entry in this long-running series is another solid read. There are so many victims we are only introduced to a select few. There’s some final wrap up to the events in NY2D as well as callbacks to some earlier books and a dash of the usual humor. The case is more methodical than some, but though it plods along in the middle it picks up steam at the end. Not one of my instant favorites, but a good read.

A Dime a Dozen Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Duodenary: Category Romance Challenge 12 down 0 to go…
The High Noon Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Clock Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The New Release Calendar Challenge: 9 down 3 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Marie Ferrarella): 8 down 4 to go…
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library addict



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Counterclockwise Challenge: Marie Ferrarella
Falling for the MD:
I confess I checked the publication date of this book more than once (2008). It reads more like a fantasy than a contemp as the hero was a doctor who was fighting the takeover of the hospital by a big insurance company, even though at one point he thinks to himself how over 40% of his patients can’t pay him. He spends as much time with his patients as he feels he needs and doesn’t worry about lawsuits because the hospital has never been sued and their patients all love them and they get all the private funding they need for new equipment. (I’ll just say while I want to live in this fictional town with perfect healthcare and no HMOs, his attitude kept throwing me out of the story.) The heroine is an efficiency expert who sits on the board and is open-minded about the takeover. It’s the first of a multi-author series, so much page time is dedicated to introducing some of the future h/h as well as a grown-up secret baby plot which has nothing to do with the romance between this h/h. [spoiler]I wish the hero had done a lot more groveling at the end after being such a jerk toward the heroine and jumping to numerous, incorrect conclusions about her.

Cavanaugh’s Surrender: The heroine is a crime scene investigator who finds her sister dead of an apparent suicide. The hero is the homicide detective in charge of the case and the son of the heroine's boss. Since they know she will investigate on the side anyway, she partners up with the hero with her boss’s knowledge and consent and the hero’s boss’s consent (he doesn’t know she’s the victim’s sister). At least they all acknowledge her participation may cause issues with any future prosecution. I appreciated that the h/h spent their first meeting thinking about the case and not mentally lusting after one another. And they took their time getting involved (or at least more time than in many books nowadays). The case was intriguing though the killer’s identity comes out of left field.

Fiona and the Sexy Stranger: This book starts out very light-hearted and features a likeable hero. He meets the heroine after sending his resume to her catering business’ fax machine rather than his actual perspective employer. I wanted to like the heroine, but her insecurity issues about her looks make her into a rather one-note character. And though she admits to her sister she needs to be the one to grovel to the hero, she never does. I would have enjoyed the book much more if she actually had had to grovel some.

Cowboys are for Loving: The hero had been dumped in the past so now has low opinion of women. The heroine doesn’t respect his privacy. The premise is that she will follow him around every day for two weeks taking pictures and learning about what he does as a rancher for a magazine article she is writing. But that seems unrealistic as she's already interviewed other ranchers. Just how many pictures does she need? It's just an obvious plot device to force the h/h to spend time together and detracts from the story. The hero's parents and brothers all play matchmaker at various points.

A Dime a Dozen Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Duodenary: Category Romance Challenge 12 down 0 to go…
The High Noon Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Clock Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Marie Ferrarella): 12 down 0 to go…
The New Release Calendar Challenge: 9 down 3 to go…
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karat



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 356

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The High Noon Challenge (new-to-you authors)
The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole

Through this challenge, I was introduced to two new-to-me paranormal authors: Nalini Singh and Kresley Cole. I got hooked by Singh's Guild Hunter series and have since have read all the books in the series. I believe the same might happen with Cole's Immortals After Dark series, if other books in the series are as entertaining as this first one.

The Warlord Wants Forever is the series opener, and it tells the story of a vampire, Nikolai Wroth, and his Bride (sort of a destined mate), Myst the Coveted. Myst is a Valkyrie, and she does not take to well to the idea of been mated to any male, and worst of all, to a vampire. The path Worth and Myst have to follow to finally end up together involves a lot of chasing, plenty of hot moments, and several poignant ones. Wroth is at heart a very generous individual, and it is easy to root for their HEA.
The book also introduces us to "the Lore", Cole's designation for the series of fantastic beings (vampires, valkyries, demons, feys, ghouls, etc) who live in the world, generally unnoticed by humans, but who constantly fight and plot against each other. I am curious to know more about the Lore and I will probably read the next book in the series soon.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge: Done!
The High Noon Challenge: 5 to go
The Jury Challenge: Done!
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library addict



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Counterclockwise Challenge: Cindy Gerard
Lucas: the Loner:
The heroine is a reporter who tracks down the rancher hero for an interview about grazing rights. When he refuses to be interviewed she investigates why and discovers he’s the illegitimate son of the man about to be elected as president. Despite the ridiculous plot, the hero acting like a complete jerk, and the heroine’s dubious motives, this was an enjoyable read. The love story had a lot of angst with a dash of humor and the h/h were both well-developed characters. The resolution of the big secret was disappointing, but as this was book one in a multi-author trilogy I gave it a pass.

A Dime a Dozen Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Duodenary: Category Romance Challenge 12 down 0 to go…
The High Noon Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Clock Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Marie Ferrarella): 12 down 0 to go…
The New Release Calendar Challenge: 9 down 3 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Cindy Gerard): 1 down 11 to go…
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karat



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 356

PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The High Noon Challenge (new-to-you authors)
Fallen from Grace by Laura Leone

Sara is a writer who is going through a difficult time in her career. When her editors decide they do not want to continue with the series she writes, she decides to sell her apartment and use the money to support herself while she writes a new book to get another contract somewhere else. She rents a smaller apartment, in a less fashionable part of town. Her next door neighbor is Ryan, a guy with nice looks and even nicer personality. Over time, they become very good friends, and then fall in love with each other.
Problem is Ryan is a male prostitute, and due to a series of events from his past, he believes he cannot change his life.
I liked this book a lot. As mentioned by the reviewer here at AAR, "it speaks so well to the evolution of emotional intimacy". The falling in love between Sara and Ryan is very beautifully written, and utterly believable, and the courage it takes for both of then to fight to be together makes the book an even better reading. Another nice finding in this challenge.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge: Done!
The High Noon Challenge: 4 to go
The Jury Challenge: Done!
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Maggie AAR
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Jury Challenge Round 2

4 historical
Death Comes to Pemberly P D James
The Changeling Phillipa Gregory
Whose Body Dorothy L. Sayers
A Duty to the Dead Charles Todd *DIK read*

4 contemp
Full Moon Bride Shobhan Bantwal
How to Bake a Perfect Life Barbara O'Neal
Spring Fever Mary Kay Andrews
The Stolen Bride Abby Green

4 Futuristic

Article 5 Kristen Simmons

This is an unbelievably bad book. In the future, the Moral Militia make sure everyone is in compliance. Ember's mom gets taken away for an article 5 violation - having a child out of wedlock. Ember, whose mother is flighty and kinda creepy honestly, sets out to save her at any cost.

The heroine could not have been more stupid or incompetent. The mother should have been a sympathetic character - who could be more pity worthy than a hard working single mom? Instead, she was flighty mess who let her last boyfriend hit her and made her daughter defend her and take care of her. I couldn't find it in me to feel sorry for her.

Glad to have this piece of junk off my TBR.

maggie b.

New Release Calendar Challenge 9 down, 3 to go
The Jury Challenge 2, 9 down 3 to go

The Jury Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go The Dime A Dozen Round 2, 12 down, 0 to go
The Hign Noon Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go
Dime a Dozen Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go
The Calendar Challenge 12 down, 0 to go
The Clock Challenge: 12 down, 0 to go

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library addict



Joined: 06 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Calendar Challenge:
January (1999)– The Law and Ginny Marlowe by Marie Ferrarella:
The book starts with the hero sheriff putting the lawyer heroine in jail when she comes to get her runaway younger sister who has been arrested for shoplifting. High jinx ensue. Despite the author glossing over some major emotional issues and the too idyllic life in the small town of Serendipity, this book was a very enjoyable read.

February (1996) – Reece: the Untamed by Susan Connell: This book takes place in Monaco and France. The heroine is a campaign worker for the current president “undercover” as an interior designer to prove a rich playboy is, in fact, the illegitimate son of the rival presidential nominee. The heroine feels guilty for lying and the hero isn’t really the spoiled Eurotrash he’s reputed to be. The heroine’s direct boss is such a two-bit loser I wondered why she put up with him so long, but she naively believed his promises to ensure funding for homeless shelters. The romance worked on a superficial level, but the characters’ background story seemed more of an incompatible distraction rather than the focus of the book.

March (1996) – Ridge: the Avenger by Leanne Banks: The illegitimate son a man running for president seeks revenge for his mother’s death by using his job as a security guard for his biological father’s goddaughter. But of course he ends up falling for her despite the fact she refuses to take issues of her safety seriously. They have a surprisingly sweet romance. [spoiler]It was so ridiculous that the creepozoid dead-beat “father” who claims to be Mr. Morality actually became President of the United States. Not so much that, but that he believes all three of his illegitimate sons should welcome him into their lives at the end after he treated all of their mothers abhorrently and never acknowledged their existence Rolling Eyes I did like that the three brothers finally learned of one another’s existence and got to meet.

April (2011) – A Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware: This book is set in San Francisco in 1906. The heroine is an architect. The hero is the new owner of the hotel the heroine’s grandfather left her in his will which his son-in-law (the heroine’s father) gambled away. The romance starts poorly when the hero uses a corrupt judge to ensure he keeps the hotel despite her legal claim to it. Then the earthquake hits and the focus shifts to the destruction and efforts to rebuild the city. There’s lots of heavy-handed exposition about women’s lack of property and voting rights as well as the graft and mayhem which occurred during the aftermath of the quake. The book has an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink plot including death threats, blackmail, buried treasure, secret babies, outrageous villains, etc. The h/h are each unlikable at various points in the story.

May (2005) – Parallel Lies by Kate Donovan: Part of Silhouette’s Bombshell line, this book was a mad spy caper with a large cast of characters, multiple bad guys, an über-villain, a secret super hypnotizing drug, too much telling vs. showing for the first three-quarters of the story, then an over-the-top action ending. The main romance—what little there is—takes a definite back seat. There is a secondary romance which involves the heroine’s sister, but it is more creepy than romantic. While I ended up liking the h/h, I didn’t really care for the story.

June (2010) – To Hunt a Sainte by Marie Harte: The hero and heroine are both private eyes who work for rival agencies and are investigating the same case. Employees at both agencies have various psychic abilities. The hero is rather rude to the heroine in the beginning, but since we get so much of the book from his POV it didn’t bother as much as it would have otherwise. The villains are ridiculous caricatures so there’s not much suspense. The book has pacing issues, but the romance worked overall, the worldbuilding was intriguing, and there was some fun interaction between the heroine and her relatives and the hero with his co-workers

July (2011) – The Baby Race by Elysa Hendricks: The hero’s grandmother offers a large sum of money to whichever one of her three grandsons is the first to marry and have a baby boy. Although the hero has no faith in the institution of marriage, he needs the money to payoff a balloon payment on his ranch. The heroine needs a husband to keep custody of her six-year-old stepsister. The hero plans to use the smaller amount of money he will get upon marrying to make the payment and avoid the “baby race” then divorce after one year, but things don’t go according to his plan. There’s also an underdeveloped secondary romance between the hero’s cousin and the woman he marries. The characters are somewhat generic and the plot relies on numerous coincidences and misunderstandings. I liked the h/h separately (except when they were acting TSTL), but it was hard to root for them as a couple when they refused to have an honest conversation with one another.

August (1999) – One Texas Night by Sylvie Kurtz: The hero is a police lieutenant investigating the heroine for murder. She starts off with amnesia and comes to believe she may have committed the murder. The heroine is also suppressing memories of her mother’s murder decades before. Complicating the mystery is the heroine’s defense attorney father who has had a previous run in with the hero. There’s a lot of repetitive thoughts from both the h/h and the main killer seems obvious from quite early on.

September (2012) – All He Ever Needed by Shannon Stacey: An enjoyable romance between the h/h. The hero takes too long to clue into his real feelings, but he admits he’s being a jerk when he is. The subplot involving the dissolution of the hero’s bff’s marriage makes me hope the character will be getting his own book. This book is the first of a new Kowalski trilogy and introduces a lot of new secondary characters.

October (2011) – Operation Baby Rescue by Beth Cornelison: The heroine is a single mother who goes into premature labor while away from home and is told her baby girl died shortly after birth. Fast forward fourteen months later and she joins a grief-support group. The hero is another member of the group, a single father who lost his wife nine months ago. The mystery is clichéd, but I liked the fact that the heroine truly believed her baby had died and the h/h meet due to living in the same town. Of course it turns out his adopted daughter is her baby, but they become friends before discovering this fact. I also liked that [spoiler]she was willing to not fight for custody at the end. Usually it’s the guy giving up his child because the mother always takes precedence, so it was nice to see the heroine truly putting her child’s needs in front of her own. Of course, this is before she’s convinced the hero truly does want to marry her and they have their HEA.

November (1998) – Will and the Headstrong Female by Marie Ferrarella: A very sweet romance between the hero, an architect, and the heroine who owns and runs a traveling carnival. She is very set her ways and has issues with “townies”. Despite her obstinacy to the point of stupidity at times, I liked the heroine. The hero is kind and patient without being a pushover. A fun read.

December (2011) – An Unexpected Gentleman by Alissa Johnson: While this book has a rather clichéd plot, I enjoyed the characters. The story is interlaced with plenty of humor. I don’t read much historical romance anymore compared to when I first started reading romance, but Alissa Johnson has become one of my autobuy authors. There's a touch of angst, but overall a quick, fun book.

A Dime a Dozen Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Duodenary: Category Romance Challenge 12 down 0 to go…
The High Noon Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Clock Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Marie Ferrarella): 12 down 0 to go…
The New Release Calendar Challenge: 9 down 3 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Cindy Gerard): 1 down 11 to go…
The Calendar Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
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Maggie AAR
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2471

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Jury Challenge 2

Ashes, Ashes
Jo Treggari

I seem to be having lots of bad luck with my futuristics. Earth is destroyed by plague and also by a series of earth quakes, tsunamis and the resultant environmental change. Lucy is the sole survivor in her family. She is busy trying to survive on her own when she meets Aiden. He talks her to joining their commune. But the commune is attacked and people start to disappear. What is happening and why does Lucy feel she is at the center of it all?

Poor plotting and a TSTL heroine turned this into a clunker.

maggie b.

New Release Calendar Challenge 9 down, 3 to go
The Jury Challenge 2, 10 down 2 to go
The Jury Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go The Dime A Dozen Round 2, 12 down, 0 to go
The Hign Noon Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go
Dime a Dozen Challenge, 12 down, 0 to go
The Calendar Challenge 12 down, 0 to go
The Clock Challenge: 12 down, 0 to go
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karat



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 356

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Clock Challenge - Variation
2 books set in the 21st century (2001-2100)


Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins
After a nice experience listening to Overseas, I decided to give audiobooks another shot with Catch of the Day. I liked the narrator, Xe Sands, well enough (although it was hard to differentiate the female characters from time to time), and I liked my second listening experiment of the year.
The story of the book, however, was a bit of a disappointment. I had loved my first Higgins book (My One and Only), and one of the best things in that book was the author's ability to make readers understand the hero's feelings even if the story was told in first person from the heroine's point of view. Unfortunately in Catch of the Day, Higgins was not able to make me understand why the hero, Malone, fell in love with the heroine, Maggie. Ok, one of the most important elements of Malone's personality was that he was a very quiet and reserved guy, but still I wish we could better understand what he actually saw in Maggie... I felt she was too self-absorbed, and in her initial interactions with Malone there was not much to connect them. Not a remarkable story overall.

Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

Julie James was a lawyer, and this is the second of her books I read where the heroine is a "kick-ass" lawyer in a large law firm. The other one was Practice Makes Perfect, which I liked much more than Just the Sexiest Man Alive. Main reason for that: the hero in this latest read was too much of a jerk for me. Of course, we can expect "the sexiest man alive" to be a little bit arrogant, but Jason Andrews, the big Hollywood star hero, was not likable at all in my view. A couple of great "hero groveling" scenes might had redeemed him, but Julie James does not include enough of those in the book for me to really believe Jason and Taylor's HEA.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge: Done!
The High Noon Challenge: 4 to go
The Jury Challenge: Done!
The Clock Challenge - Variation: 10 to go


Last edited by karat on Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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karat



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The High Noon Challenge (new-to-you authors)
Extreme Exposure by Pamela Clare


Kara McMillan is an investigative reporter at a major newspaper in Denver. She gets in danger when she starts investigating a story about enviromental crimes committed by a large corporation. Reece Sheridan is a Colorado state senator who becomes personally and professionally involved with Kara.
The book had good potential, specially because Reece is a great character. However, this was just a C/C+ read for me. Main reasons are:
- Kara gets very close to TSTL behavior several times in the book. By the end of the book, she even acknowledges it, in a "gee, maybe I shouldn't have done that" moment of self reflection.
- In addition to TSLT, TMI is another acronym that came to my mind frequently while reading the book. Too much information about the Colorado state law, about the results of some of the dangerous situations Kara gets into and other topics
- Sex at the wrong moments. In theory, Kara and Reece have great sex, but the timing of it usually sounded wrong to me. They had sex in situations totally incompatible with their character, or at very unrealistic moments (e.g., when Kara was badly hurt). Same amount of sexy scenes, with the same intensity, but at different moments would have worked better for this book.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge: Done!
The High Noon Challenge: 3 to go
The Jury Challenge: Done!
The Clock Challenge - Variation: 10 to go
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 2:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Counterclockwise Challenge: Cindy Gerard
The Bride Wore Blue:
This book has a slow start and gets bogged down at times with long descriptions of events. The supermodel heroine is trying to recover from an abusive relationship with her manager. The hero has been waiting for her to return to the lake where they met as teenagers for fifteen years. I liked the fact they were friends before becoming lovers. The conflict is minimal and all internal, but I liked the characters both individually and as a couple.

A Bride for Abel Greene: The heroine starts off in TSTL territory, but grows a lot emotionally during the story. The hero is an ex-marine turned cop turned CIA agent turned logging company owner. Many subplots are begun/hinted at, but never really go anywhere. The main subplot involving the hero’s “nemesis” totally fizzles out. Though the romance starts off weak, it develops into the best part of the story.

A Bride for Crimson Falls: The h/h are both very likeable characters, though the conflict between them seems forced at times. The hero’s relationship with the heroine’s teenaged daughter isn’t as well developed as it needed to be to make part of the plot more believable. Happily the book doesn’t turn into a small-towns-are-great/cities-are-evil cliché.

A Dime a Dozen Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Duodenary: Category Romance Challenge 12 down 0 to go…
The High Noon Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Clock Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Marie Ferrarella): 12 down 0 to go…
The Calendar Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The New Release Calendar Challenge: 9 down 3 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Cindy Gerard): 4 down 8 to go…
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The New Release Calendar Challenge:
October – Fearless Love by Meg Benjamin:
The beginning is a bit sluggish with lots of emphasis on behind-the-scenes in a restaurant kitchen/food prep and how to take care of chickens. I liked the h/h and their romance is fun once it gets going. The emphasis in this story is all about them with very few characters from earlier books making an appearance.

A Dime a Dozen Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Duodenary: Category Romance Challenge 12 down 0 to go…
The High Noon Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Clock Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Marie Ferrarella): 12 down 0 to go…
The Calendar Challenge: 12 down 0 to go…
The New Release Calendar Challenge: 10 down 2 to go…
The Counterclockwise Challenge (Cindy Gerard): 4 down 8 to go…
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karat



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Clock Challenge - Variation
2 books set in the 20th century (1901-2000)


Bygones by LaVyrle Spencer (Set in the 1990s)

From Shelfari:
Quote:
After a bitter divorce, Bess and Michael Curran have nothing left to say to each other. Their children are their only bond. When their daughter Lisa brings them together unexpectedly at a dinner party, they must face each other again. And when Lisa makes a shocking announcement, they must amend their past mistakes -- and make a new beginning...


Have I mentioned how much I love books where the couple is reunited? Very Happy One more for my collection of good "Reunited" books! After a couple of pages I was cheering for Bess, Michael and their children to be a family again. I could have added some additional hero groveling scenes, but overall this was a very nice story.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge: Done!
The High Noon Challenge: 3 to go
The Jury Challenge: Done!
The Clock Challenge - Variation: 9 to go
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karat



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Clock Challenge - Variation
2 books set in the 19th century (1801-1900)


The Duke's Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley (Set in 1890s Victorian England)
This is book #4 in the Highland Pleasures series. Hart Mackenzie, Duke of Kilmorgan, is the eldest of the Mackenzie brothers, and has been an important character since the first book (The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie). Eleanor Ramsay was engaged to Hart, but broke up with him years ago. In the book, Eleanor and Hart have to join forces to uncover a mystery that might threaten Hart's political career and eventually their lives.
Another reunited book Smile ! I liked it, although not as much as I enjoy the other books in this series. Some of the plot twists felt flat in my opinion, and I had higher expectations for Hart and Eleanor's romance.

Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn (Set in 1889)
This is also a book #4, part of the Lady Julia Grey series. In this story, Lady Julia and her now husband Nicholas Brisbane have to travel to India to help Julia's sister, Portia.
As usual for this series, the suspense in the story was very good, and got me turning the pages quickly to know what happened. But the relationship between Julia and Nicholas is what brings me back every time. In this book, they are learning how to deal with the challenges of being a married couple, and a lot of conflict comes from their different views about Julia's role in Brisbane's investigations. They are both unreasonable at times (Julia most of all), but at the end they make progress in their relationship. I am curious to know what the author has in mind for them in the next book.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge: Done!
The High Noon Challenge: 3 to go
The Jury Challenge: Done!
The Clock Challenge - Variation: 7 to go
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