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Recently Read: Jan - March 2013
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1661

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:42 pm    Post subject: Recently Read: Jan - March 2013 Reply with quote

Since the old thread was getting so long, thought I'd start a new one for the new year.

My sons gave me a Nook for the holidays and so most of my recent reads have been downloads of ebooks. I glommed everything I could find by Courtney Milan, including

"The Governess Affair" -- liked this a lot, as she conveys character, plot, and a believable romance within the shorter length of a novella. That takes real skill (although I've certainly read some novels that would have been better if shorter).

"Unlocked" -- Milan does seem to have a thing for heroes who are knights come to right past wrongs, whether committed by themselves (as here) or others. I like this trope. The hero becomes not only the romantic protagonist but truly admirable for his wholehearted willingness to do whatever it takes to be the honorable man he both wants and needs to be for himself and for the heroine. I found the heroine's relationship with her mother quite poignant and the cause of the hero's initial wrongdoing believable. He was so young, with all that comes with that -- an inability to foresee the potential impact of his actions, wild swings between insecurity and invulnerability, and the lack of perspective and wisdom that time and experience can bring.

"The Duchess War" -- there is a separate thread for this so won't go into it here, but I did like it.

I've read some of Milan's books before. I liked them but actually gave up on her most recent prior series for lack of interest (not sure why I liked Unlocked, which is linked to this series, more than I liked the novels). My reaction to these more recent works is more positive.

Also read "The Lady Most Willing" by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway. Three young heiresses are kidnapped by a Scots laird as potential brides for his two nephews, and they are then all trapped in his crumbling castle due to a snow storm. Also kidnapped, although in error, are the Duke of Bretton and Catriona Burns (who is also young and pretty but definitely not an heiress). As might be expected from these three authors, there was definitely humor, which I enjoyed, and the book had its moments. Working against my enjoyment is the fact that I'm not a huge fan of love at first sight, and all three of the stories were based on that. I'm generally happier if there is a prior acquaintance or some such on which to base the love, as opposed to just the immediate attraction, or else a sufficient time after the meeting and before the wedding so that the couple can actually get to know each other. However, if the less than a week between meeting and marriage timeline doesn't bother you, the book may be more to your taste.
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Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 1692

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Flawless" by Carrie Lofty - B+

Lotfy should get more notice, she's really good at passionate stories in underused settings (this one was South Africa's diamond industry around the Boer war). This one is a reunion story which is one of my favorites. My only complaint is that the villain was weak and the "showdown" anticlimactic. I'll be checking out the sequels.

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay - B

Another promising YA author to keep an eye on. Like some other YA books, the heroine is far from "perfect" but it's understandable given what happened to her. This is quite a dark book about two damaged souls with a really likable and mature hero.
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jaime



Joined: 23 Sep 2011
Posts: 514

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want to thank everybody around these parts who recced "Wallbanger" by Alice Clayton - what a charming and funny book! I loved the hero Simon aka the "Wallbanger" and the heroine Caroline aka "Pink Nightie Girl" - and Clive the cat! At one point I almost peed my pants laughing so hard at what Clive gets up to when he is in the throws of ....err...passion. And bonus points to this ebook for not turning the hero's other women into a bunch of petty and nasty stereotypes. They were all lovely and nice women.

And I really have a craving for Zucchini bread now.... Very Happy
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Manda



Joined: 23 Apr 2007
Posts: 586

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I, too, read and enjoyed THE WALLBANGER. Just the sort of light, amusing read I was looking for.
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 697
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Everything I Ever Wanted, Jo Goodman (A) - This is the second in the Compass Club series, and features a standby Goodman theme of the abused heroine in need of rescue. India Parr, the heroine/actress, is menaced by a truly creepy figure, and she does know she's in danger. She feels strongly however that she can manage her situation and so she refuses help from the hero of the novel, who is, unbeknownst to her, an agent of the state set up spying on her to flush out a killer. The murders of India's "suitors" are gripping and intense. The romance too is intense and steamy. This story has one of my pet peeves in romance writing, which is the kidnapping and coercion of the heroine by the hero, but it is handled very well and India earns respect for her resourcefulness. South becomes in the course of the novel a tender and loving partner to India and it was such a pleasure to observe them falling in love. Goodman is a dense and often dark writer but given the brevity of so many romances today, I find that I enjoy sinking into her heavy, long books. Like the first one in the Compass Club series I found the mystery and romance well balanced. From AAR reviews it seems that the final two in the series earned DIKs and so I'm very much looking forward to reading the rest. I've only read Goodman's regencies and have not yet read any of her westerns, though I mean to change that this year.
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Sandlynn



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1806
Location: Washington, D.C.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just finished up Rose Lerner's In for a Penny. It's set in 1819, but to be honest, it felt like it could've been set anytime in the 19th Century. There was nothing about it that screamed regency to me. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as the story took a bit of a non-traditional route for an historical romance. For one, there is no half dressed man, woman, or clinching man and woman on the cover. In fact the cover is a very tasteful, pretty scene of a carriage crossing a bridge in winter. (Yea!). Second, the hero and heroine were much more realistic. Neither is the handsomest person in the land and each has their faults. For one, the hero isn't good with facts and figures and books and doesn't want to spend time managing his estate. Good thing for him that his new bride, who is a merchant's daughter who is bringing lots of money to the marriage, does enjoy just that thing! As for the story, it's set mostly at the hero's estate and -- just like in a masterpiece theater miniseries from Britain -- we get know a bit about the tenants surrounding the manor house, the neighbors, the conflicts between them, and even a bit about the politics of the time. As such, for me, it was a much more satisfying read.

I would give this book an "A-" for managing to bring not just a couple and their burgeoning romance to life, but the world that they live in as well.
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PJ



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Posts: 47

PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel. A+, easily.
One of the best romance novels I have ever read. Love the heroine, who is strong and sweet (and this is a lot coming from a someone who prefers more mercenary, manipulative heroines). Love her frustrations, but acceptance of who she was and the role she must carry on. Love the hero, who was charming, genuine and sweet. A Jewish hero who is studying to be physician without an ounce of noble blood running through his veins! Especially love that the book comes to the conclusion that "you know what, I don't think a HEA is possible between these two in this setting during this time... yeah, they legitimately need to run off together and not just play at the idea."

I will be reading this novel again and again and again. Such a nice change of alpha angst and tumultuous, unhealthy couplings. Speaking of...

Fever by Katherine Sutcliffe. C.
The romance gets an A. So melodramatic, so lush... Romance authors don't write like this anymore. The main characters were ready to claw their clothes off and flee into each others' arms at any given moment. As a reader I FELT IT. They were really steaming it up in the already steamy bayou with all those jasmine petals cascading everywhere and that hungry bull gator roaming about during mating season in the backdrop. Whew!

However, the actual plot line... D-. Of course, any slave character was a poorly drawn descendent of Scarlett O'hara's Mammy. I expected that much. Another flaw for me was the redemption of Maxwell Hollinsworth. Seriously. This was a character who deserved none of it. I just finished this book and I'm going to rant right now. [SPOILER] He's got three kids. The hero, who was conceived when Max drunkenly raped his dirt poor "white trash" mother. He has him living in a shanty like his slaves, overseeing his plantation and has never once acknowledged him as his son. He has his daughter, Liza, working as a house slave, then kicks her out of the house half way through to work in the fields as punishment for messing with another plantation owner's son. His third kid Tylor, who is supposed to be the most vicious and cruel of the cast is repeatedly told that his is too weak and constantly compared unfavorably to Chantz by his father in private. In fact, Maxwell tells him that he couldn't sleep in the house when Tylor was born because he was a weak baby and cried too much. Max lets him know that he once contemplated putting him in a bag and dropping him in the river. How can Tylor NOT be a monster? One of the characters even mockingly hints that he's gay. No wonder this guy is total sociopath, who wants to murder his brother and spend this rest of his life beating slaves. I have to say... the end Tylor comes to was very satisfactory, especially when compared to Max's... but, his character was vastly more sympathetic in some ways.

The heroine plays Florence Nightingale to Maxwell before he dies and pretends to be her dead mother (who Max had an affair with... betraying his best friend) to give him peace of mind. This is sometime after Max slaps her around and she swears revenge against him (never to be fulfilled). He's redeemed because he left Chantz his plantation. Big whoop. Throughout the novel that is his only care when it comes to his sons. He regrets never acknowledging Chantz for the simple fact that he knows how to grow cane and can help his plantation flourish while Tylor does not. So frustrating to read.
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 680

PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:15 pm    Post subject: A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel Reply with quote

PJ wrote:
Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel. A+, easily.
One of the best romance novels I have ever read. Love the heroine, who is strong and sweet (and this is a lot coming from a someone who prefers more mercenary, manipulative heroines). Love her frustrations, but acceptance of who she was and the role she must carry on. Love the hero, who was charming, genuine and sweet. A Jewish hero who is studying to be physician without an ounce of noble blood running through his veins! Especially love that the book comes to the conclusion that "you know what, I don't think a HEA is possible between these two in this setting during this time... yeah, they legitimately need to run off together and not just play at the idea."

I will be reading this novel again and again and again. Such a nice change of alpha angst and tumultuous, unhealthy couplings. ....
PJ I am so glad that you loved A Bed of Spices. It's free on kindle format from Amazon at the moment. We had a thread on this book a while back (here's the link and hope it works http://likesbooks.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=8672) where the consensus was that such a book would probably not be published today as it's not set in the Regency, the hero is not noble, and is a practicing Jew, the protagonists are realistically religious for the time period, and there is so much sacrifice. And the HEA is realistic in that they had to go away to achieve it.
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 4223
Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dream Eyes | Jayne Ann Krentz

I loved the first in this series, Copper Beach. Did not like this one. The story and the details that it was wrapped in just didn't connect with me. I guess Krentz is now including paranormal in all of her aliases: Quick, Krentz and Castle. Just a bit too much for me. There was a time when a book written under the name of JAK was pretty straight. This one wasn't; but unlike Copper Beach, it was just too off the wall for me.
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3girlsofmyown



Joined: 06 Jul 2011
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tee wrote:
Dream Eyes | Jayne Ann Krentz

I loved the first in this series, Copper Beach. Did not like this one. The story and the details that it was wrapped in just didn't connect with me. I guess Krentz is now including paranormal in all of her aliases: Quick, Krentz and Castle. Just a bit too much for me. There was a time when a book written under the name of JAK was pretty straight. This one wasn't; but unlike Copper Beach, it was just too off the wall for me.


I usually enjoy all her books, and I like the little paranormal touches, but this one didn't do it for me, either Sad
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Leigh



Joined: 29 May 2007
Posts: 2689

PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tee wrote:
Dream Eyes | Jayne Ann Krentz

I loved the first in this series, Copper Beach. Did not like this one. The story and the details that it was wrapped in just didn't connect with me. I guess Krentz is now including paranormal in all of her aliases: Quick, Krentz and Castle. Just a bit too much for me. There was a time when a book written under the name of JAK was pretty straight. This one wasn't; but unlike Copper Beach, it was just too off the wall for me.


I picked this up about a week ago to buy since I had store credit, but then I put it back down, since I had already requested it from the library. I glad I did now. Even at a discounted price, it still was $20.00.
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 697
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Delicious, Sherry Thomas (B-) - [slight spoiler] This was my only unread Thomas novel left and I put off reading it because it could be a long wait for a new romance, and also because Delicious seemed to be a novel with strong feelings against it. I was largely entertained by it while at the same time a little put off by a number of elements. First, the contrivance of having one person in a romantic relationship conceal themselves from the other for most of the novel was more annoying than interesting. I didn't like this device in Judith Ivory's Beast or in Thomas's recent novel Beguiling the Beauty, and I didn't like it here much either. I'm also not hugely fond of people falling in love at first sight either, though Thomas does a nice job of capturing the strong emotions of Verity and Stuart's initial encounter. I have to say too that I'm not terribly fond of emotional eating or associating food with emotions. I do consider myself a bit of a foodie and can appreciate the art of gourmet cooking, but I shy away from overt associations between food and sensuality and loss of emotional control (Pixar's Ratatouille is perhaps my only exception!). On the other hand, the novel kept me intrigued as to what would happen next. I also really enjoyed the secondary romance here, perhaps slightly more than the primary one. On the whole definitely not my favorite Thomas novel, which still for me is His at Night.
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pwm in mi



Joined: 19 Oct 2011
Posts: 349

PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan

This is the second novella I've read by Milan, and it was lovely. I loved the hero, a socially awkward doctor whose bluntness made me laugh out loud. The heroine is a smart and witty woman who has convinced herself she is unaffected by a past tragedy.


Price is right too. $.99.
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Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 1692

PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kate Pearce:
Simply Sexual B-
Simply Sinful B
Simply Shameless B


Sometimes it pays off to get out of your comfort zone. I was looking for something different on goodreads and came across Kate Pearce's erotic Regency historical novels. While the sex scenes were burning and all sorts of "creative" (as expected) the stories were surprisingly sweet and there was more to them than just sex. In a way, Pearce reminded me of Robin Schone (particularly exploration of the darker side of sexuality). I was also glad the author used more modern terms for sex (no quims or "rods", thank goodness). I've read first three books and will plan to continue with the series.
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Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 1692

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ellen O'Connell - Beautiful Bad Man - A-

Wow, I have no idea why I waited so long to try this author. It was refreshing to have a hero who's not a bad boy in name only. He's ruthless and while he softens when he starts caring for his woman and other people he doesn't become too domesticated. In heroine's own words, "You're a bad man, but a good husband". What's best, he doesn't want a meek obedient mouse for a wife, he wants a strong woman and a true partner and encourages the heroine to become one. I'll be getting this author's backlist now.
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