Where's Your Book Today?

That's what people always say to me at work, if I don't have a book or my PDA or my eBookwise Reader with me at lunch. I love to read and I guess it's obvious. So many books, so little time...and so much dust in my apartment.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I'll never catch up, so here's a quick list of recent reads

"Lycan Instinct" by Brandi Broughton 4.5 out of 5
I've been trying to decide what to say about this book ever since I read it. If I take it entirely on it's own merit, it's an excellent shapeshifter mystery story. The hero is strong - only had one alph-moment that pissed me off . The heroine is also strong, even mouthy, so she's strong enough for him. The mystery was not one I had figured out in the first chapter. And the sexy brothers definitely make me anticipate the sequels.

On the other hand, as someone who's read the JD Robb series, this book was uncomfortably like that series. The strong hero is also a richer-than-

god, suave business man. And he's the main suspect in this murder mystery. The strong heroine? She's a cop. And she gets in major trouble from her boss for...getting involved...with the main suspect in her murder case.

So, if you like JD Robb and don't mind that instead of it being slightly in the future, it's about werewolves, you will like this book. But you may find yourself tempted to compare parts of it to "Naked in Death" .

And you can be sure I'll be buying the next book in this series, by the way.

"In the Arms of Danger" by Madison Hayes 4 out of 5
I got to read this wonderful novella (yes, it's not a full-length story and I still loved it!) about a year ago, and ever since I've had fingers crossed that it would find a home. It's about a young American college student who becomes stranded in England, and is saved from an uncomfortable encounter by a tough young man, named Dicky. The heroine's fairly innocent, the hero has definitely seen too much time on the streets. And suddenly, she finds herself embroiled in a terrorist incident and in danger for her life! Yes, she decides she's "in love" way too fast, but that is often the nature of being young (and being the heroine of a novella ). Madison likes to write heroes who are...not perfect. This guy is no "romance-novel hero" - he's a bit coarse, his ethics definitely fall into the gray, and you're not really sure what his motivation is.

"Gaining Ground" by Gail Delaney 4 out of 5 (took 1/2 point off for editing mistakes)
This 3rd book in her "Phonix Rebellion" series has all the emotion of the first two. And she's introduced a couple of new twists that totally threw me for a loop! I'm looking forward to the next one with mixed emotions, because I know it's the last one, and I don't want this series to end. But I'm going to be honest here...if typos bug you, read fast so maybe you won't see them! I stopped counting after I hit an even dozen.

"A Fistful of Charms" by Kim Harrison 3 out of 5
This is book 4 in Harrison's series about a young witch who's...well...sort of a private eye, but the tasks she's assigned are specific to the paranormal community. She has two partners in her sort-of-private-eye agency: a vampire, Ivy, with very questionable motives, and a wonderfully silly pixie named Jenks. This book is very instrospective - lots of internal monologue - which can definitely slow the pace. And this series finally crossed a barrier I was s-o-o-o-o hoping wouldn't be crossed. Now I'm worried about where it could go. So while it had a storyline that eventually got interesting and introduced some new stuff that promises to make future books compelling, I'm going to pick up book 5 (which is set to come out in @#*!$ hardback) with many, many misgivings and fears. And I was surprised at the typos in this one, too! At least 5 (and I will never pretend I'm reading to edit - so who knows what I missed ).

"Ghost Hunter" by Jayne Castle 4 out of 5
This is another book set in her Harmony futuristic world. I enjoyed it. I like this world of hers. I've read some complaints about this books - that she "overwhelms" the reader with jargon (i.e., "rezzing" and "derezzing"), that it's the same story as the last one. I don't have any trouble with the jargon. We are a culture that loves to create new words based on what's going on around us! (Think "nuking" for microwave cooking, for example). I can't imagine we wouldn't have come up with a whole vocabulary for the cool stuff they do there.

Monday, May 29, 2006

"And Able" by Lucy Monroe

I thought "And Able" was supposed to be the last book in a trilogy of books about three Army-Rangers-turned-mercenaries. Why did I think it was a trilogy? Well, the books are named "Ready", "Willing", "And Able." Duh! Turns out, the author's writing another book for the series about a secondary character from "And Able", which I learned on her blog to my frustration...because up until then, I still wasn't sure if he was a "good guy" or a "bad guy." So it kind of killed the suspense, you know?

Anyway, I didn't think this book was a strong as the second one in the series, I'm afraid, and I gave it a 3.5 rating. Like the first one, there were sections I loved and lost myself in, but I kept being pulled out of the story, which takes from my ability to enjoy it.

Our hero, Hamilton Brett Adams (aka "Hotwire"), has gone into the private security business with the hero from book one, "Wolf". However, he's been unexpectedly drawn to our heroine, Claire Sharp, who was the roommate of the heroine in book two, Josie. Claire is possibly in danger, because she's still living in the house that had been targeted by the bad guys in book two, so "Hotwire" wants to make sure she's going to be safe.

Problem is, "Hotwire's" troubled by all these feelings he has for Claire, because...well, because he promised to love someone else, and he keeps his promises. Doesn't matter that she's not around anymore. Our hero is a charming, well-mannered Southern boy, and he keeps his promises! Doesn't matter, though - he likes Claire, and he'd want to keep any friend safe, right?

Claire, on the other hand, doesn't trust his attentions. She's had to rely on herself for a long, long time and doesn't want to even begin to get used to his taking care of her. She's only months away from graduating from college and beginning her New, Stable Life, and she just wants to believe that "Hotwire" is just being paranoid.

Naturally, "Hotwire" is not being paranoid, and Claire soon finds her life in danger - although, not from the danger they first expected. And as they try to find the killer, they draw closer to one another.

So why such a "blah" grade? (3.5's not bad...it's just not great either). There was a conversation between these three tough alpha-guys about love that had me rolling on the floor laughing. No way most guys talk like that, let alone these characters! I'm sure that's not the reaction the author was looking for to that scene, though.

Then there's the little twist that our hero, "Hotwire", is an artist. While this serves to illuminate a sweet point in the story, it might help to mention that the hero from "Ready" was also an artist. The author couldn't come up with a unique way to "prove" that this hero has a tender side? For heaven's sake, "Hotwire" was probably the most easy of the heroes to like. He really is a charmer, and his regular references to his mother and how she raised him ("Mama would skin me alive if I came to the table without a shirt on") gave you a real clue to the heart of this man.

It's pretty much a staple in romance that there's some problem the couple has to overcome before they can have their happy ending. This had one of those "he-can't-love, she's-not-worthy" devices. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you start thinking "Sheesh! Get on with it already!" That's how I felt with this book. It just got old.

And I'm going to try to be careful how I say this to avoid a big spoiler...but at just the moment that the crew figures out who the bad guy is, he just pops up, and in a way that again strains belief. When all is said and done, the whole wrap-up of that storyline was just anticlimactic.

Because there are book's by Lucy Monroe that I've loved, I found this book disappointing. From an unknown author, I might have been kinder. Who knows? Will I read more by her? Yep. But I'll probably read them at the library, and only purchase the ones that "wow" me.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

"Blackhawk Legacy" by Barbara McCauley

Okay, it probably isn't fair that I read "Blackhawk Legacy" right after the last one, but once I realized I had another follow up to this series, I figured I might as well get them all out of the way at once.

Besides, I actually bought this book first. The cover caught my eye - I thought it was totally hot without being obscene!

"Blackhawk Legacy" is a full-length Silhouette novel, rather than a category, with a romantic suspense plot. If I had graded this on the romance alone, I probably would have scored it higher, but the villain was so cartoonishly evil, I could only give it a 3.5 rating.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I read this book last weekend and have already forgotten too much of it to give a good description. I'd graded it and set it aside. The only reason I remember how much the villain annoyed me is because I used him as a "discussion starter" over on the eBooklove Yahoo chat group.

I do remember that the hero, Dillon, wasn't as hard as he wanted people to believe. That's typical for most tortured romance heroes. It's that tender heart they've been protecting for years. And I liked the heroine, Rebecca's, tenacity in tracking Dillon down. But I'm afraid I can't remember enough of the details to give you much more than that.

"Secret Baby Santos" by Barbara McCauley

"Secret Baby Santos" is a follow-up book to "Blackhawk's Revenge," which I discussed a couple of weeks ago. It's category romance, and the title gives you a big clue as to the type of category (secret baby, get it?). It was enjoyable, yet forgettable. I gave it a 3.0 rating.

Nick Santos spent years on the motorcycle racing circuit, but finally returns to his small home town of Wolf River, Texas. He's gorgeous - and knows it. Women fall all over themselves for a chance to get his attention. Well, most women, but not Maggie Smith.

Maggie is a woman with a big secret - a secret-baby secret. But this is the mother of all secret babies...see, Nick doesn't even know he had sex with her! The room was dark, he thought she was an ex-girlfriend, and she was too mortified to set him straight once she realized he didn't recognize her. What Maggie doesn't know is that Nick found out the very next day it hadn't been the ex-girlfriend, and he'd built a huge fantasy around the "mystery woman" he'd somehow connected with.

Yeesh. This book was just too much. Too much angst about how she'd been shy and he'd been popular. Too much angst about whether or how to tell him about his now seven-year-old son. Too much angst about how Maggie just couldn't shouldn't wouldn't get involved with Nick with this Big Secret hanging over her head.

Having said that, once I choice to treat this as a campy exaggeration of the Secret Baby category romance, I could enjoy it. I cared about the hero and heroine and wanted to see them work out their problems. But the book won't go on my "keeper" bookcase.

"Willing" by Lucy Monroe

Now, this was what I expected when I picked up the first book in the series ("Ready"). "Willing" is a sexy story with a strong heroine and a brooding, tortured hero (one of my favorite hero-types). I gave it a 4.5 rating.

Josie McCall is the tough-as-nails daughter of Tyler, a paranoid Vietnam vet. She's been trained from an early age to be able to defend herself against any physical attack. In fact, up until recently in the story, she helped to train men who went to her father's military-style training camp, but she's decided to try her hand at a more "normal life."

Daniel Black Eagle (aka "Nitro") is one of the three mercenaries introduced in "Ready." When his fellow mercenaries decide to go into private security, he's not quite ready to trade a more military lifestyle for a more corporate one. So he decides to become a partner Tyler's training camp, to Josie's consternation. She's been attracted to him since the day they met, but his abrupt treatment of her has convinced her that he despises her.

They're thrown together when Tyler's injured by a bomb at his training camp - then disappears. As they try to find both the attackers and her father, they finally admit to each other how much they're attracted to each other.

Yes, this book has a few of the tried-and-true romantic novel stereotypes, and the fact that Josie is a 20-something virgin is the biggest one. But I thought the "backstory" for her virginity fit the character and didn't seem forced. She was raised by a big, tough, paranoid ex-soldier - and spent most of her life being home-schooled. Her only interactions with men were with soldier-wannabees who came into her life for six-week training sessions - and knew her father could kill them in a New York minute! I didn't find her inexperience unlikely in those circumstances.

I read a couple of other reviews that complained Josie relied too much on Daniel to solve the mystery, given her background. My take on that was that we finally had a kick-ass heroine who wasn't TSTL. She was involved in the investigation, but she was able to work with other's strengths as well.

And I just loved Daniel. Yes, yes, he beat himself up for The Big Tragedy in his past. Yet another romance stereotype. But as I said before, the tortured hero is one of my favorites. And he was wonderful with Josie's first time! Yum!

I am now cautiously optimistic about the next book in this series.