Friday, August 29, 2014

Miss Fellingham's Rebellion: A Regency Romance by Lynn Messina

Image linked from Goodreads
Whoo. The beginning of this story was a little rough. But if you can soldier past the first twenty or so pages, it's a really fun story.
 The book opens with Miss Catherine Fellingham finally having her eyes open to her family's dynamics - and it's not pretty. Turns out her father is gambling at a pace that puts the family's finances in order and her mother thinks that selling commissions (a treasonous effort) is the way to recoup their fortunes. Her younger, much more beautiful sister has been so cossetted by the family that she is a vapid and insensitive person and her younger brother, though supposedly an adult at nineteen, doesn't seem to have grown up much at all. It is up to too-tall, too-serious, wall-flower Catherine to save the family.
But when she meets a handsome stranger while visiting the Elgin marbles (against her mother's wishes) with her youngest sister (possibly the only other pragmatic family member), she doesn't realize that she may be meeting her fate. However, the next time she sees the Marquess of Deverill, it's while he's talking with Lady Arabella. I'm pretty sure we met her in The Harlow Hoyden making the books loosely related. For Catherine, this discussion is mortifying. Lady Arabella is instructing Deverill to make Cathy "popular." Telling him that he is the only one with enough consequence to do so. Something to cure his boredom. We don't see much of the Marquess' thoughts until the end of the book, which I really liked. Being with Catherine, not really knowing his motives (although, as a removed reader, we're better able to guess than our protagonist), was a nice smooth reading with only one POV. Something you don't get to see in every book.
The big misunderstandings at the end were overdone. There were way to many.
A good book. I liked the Harlow Hoyden better but I definitely can't wait for the next ":A Regency Romance."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Harbor Island by Carla Neggers

Image linked from Goodreads
I would most definitely read this series in order. There's a mystery that's been building since book one and, while you can maybe drop in, I wouldn't recommend it.
The story starts off with Emma Sharpe getting a phone call from filmmaker Rachel Bristol, saying that she (Rachel) has information that can help solve a decades-old art theft. But when Emma gets to the meet site, Rachel has been killed. We then spin into one of Neggers books, neither better nor worse than the previous books in the series. If you've read the first three in this series, you're well-prepared for this book.
We get new insight into old characters as well as meeting new people. The cast of characters is getting a bit unwieldy but it's not as bad as some other series. At least the people all fit in with out being shoehorned.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Not Quite a Wife by Mary Jo Putney

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Oh, man. I love Mary Jo Putney. I love the Lost Lords series. And this book... was just not up to the standard set by the previous five. It was really, really not at the same level. This was an ARC, and while the technical (proofreading) editing was fine, the story-line (line and substantive editing) really needed some work. Maybe some of this will be cleaned up before the book is put into print.
A lot of Putney's books start with some action, but this one starts with our hero falling ill, getting mugged and beaten, ending up on the heroine's door, and then a passionate encounter after eleven years of separation. What the what? The story then slows considerably before continuing in odd fits and starts, culminating in a realization that would be fine in a Christian/Inspirational romance novel but seemed odd in a more mainstream book that had heretofore only infrequently (though with heavy, heavy hand) referred to the heroine's religion.
Anyway, the story - Lauren and James married young and then separated when James did something So Horrible that Lauren just couldn't stand to be with him anymore. So she left and went to Bristol with her brother (a doctor) to help him with his work. They also opened a home for abused women. When Lauren... encounters... James, she comes up pregnant. Which can happen. And they decide to reconcile. Okay. But it all seems so... forced. And somewhat boring. The middle of the book reads more like a regular Putney novel. More exploring the characters than a ton of action which is good. But...
There is exposition. Dear God. The exposition. It's like some newbie editor said, "We need to know everything about the other couples in this series, can you do a mini-recap for each and every one of them? Yeah, that's what readers want." This is not the way to entice people to read other books in the series at it cuts each character down to two dimensions from the wonderful pictures that were painted in their own stories.
And while we do get to learn more about Laurel in this middle part of the book, none of it seems to fit very well. It's like her personality traits were plucked at random from some jar and had to be wedged into the story. At least for Laurel. She's supposedly this rigid, almost Methodist, person but she is also incredibly wild in the bedroom for someone who left her husband eleven years earlier and only after their honeymoon (deciding to fall into bed with him after their absence.) She left her husband but is ready to forgive. Even when he repeats his actions, which she finds out were justified, but she still can't get over it.
And what was the point of meeting Laurel's parents? We're already hammered over the head with the fact that she wants their approval. Again, it seems that someone decided that every... single... thing... had to be explained.
If the book had started out with the scene that caused Laurel to leave her husband, then jumped to the start and proceeded chronologically from there, had excluded the rather tedious exposition, this could have been a very good book. This is still a very high 2 for me, but I just couldn't give it a three miler, especially since the rest of the books in the series were so good.
Previous book: Sometimes a Rogue

It's in His Kiss by Jill Shalvis

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Becca Thorpe has literally moved across the country to get a new start. A currently-blocked jingle writer, she's landed in Lucky Harbor, hoping to find someplace to find out who she really is. See, up until now, her role in life has been to keep her brother on the straight and narrow.
Sam Brody likes living in Lucky Harbor. Even being on the Pinterest board of Hotness run by the town's unofficial mayor has it's perks. When Becca moves to town, he's by turns annoyed with, intrigued with, and bemused by her.
Both of our characters have had rough family lives. Sam, on the other hand, lost his mother at an early age and had the type of father that got him landed in foster care. A lot. His only saving grace came in the form of his partner Cole's mother, Amelia. She saw Sam and decided she was his son. Becca was always put in charge of her younger brother, he always came first. And when his life and career went down in flames, she felt the guilt.
I loved that these two characters were able to have some just-for-fun sex. Yes, they ended up getting tangled but it didn't start out that way, and neither one of them felt any guilt for it.
It looks like most people are absolutely loving the book and I can unequivocally say that, if you like Jill Shalvis, there is no reason to skip this book.
Unfortunately, I had some issues with the book.

What was the deal with Sam fixing all of Becca's parental problems in, like, 10 minutes? Or at least the space of a couple of sentences. This was a lifetime of problems and one low-toned conversations has her mother with a teary-eyed request for forgiveness and Becca just caving. And I can't stand when female characters talk about wanting to have a no-strings relationship and then get all pissed off when the man doesn't reciprocates. I'll admit that Sam's actions seem to indicate that he has stronger feelings but you can't blame a guy for backing off when there's been no deeper discussion. YET EVERYONE IN TOWN DOES. Of course, am does match it with, "I won't sleep with my employees" and then totally doing it so maybe it does balance out? And the rape? What the heck was up with that glossing over?

I will also add that if you don't like excruciatingly embarrassing, public declarations of love, this book will not have an enjoyable ending for you.

Next Book in the Series: He's So Fine

Friday, August 22, 2014

Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan

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What an absolutely lovely book. Courtney Milan is a past master at weaving together history and romance in such a way that her characters practically leap off the page.
Frederica, Free, Marshall is a newspaper owner. One of the radical women you read about in history books, subjecting herself to untold horrors that women in England faced at that time and then exposing the truth.
She is having some current difficulties though. Someone keeps stealing her proofs and then having a male author rewrite her articles. When the false articles go into print first, it looks like her paper can do nothing but copy their male counterparts. And that's just the tip of what's going on.
Edward Clark has a history with the man who is messing with Free. And he starts helping with her so that he can get revenge but soon falls under her spell.
I liked that we saw a gradual progression of falling in love. The story took place over a long time with both Free and Edward trying to move toward a mutual compromise.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Seeing is Believing by Erin McCarthy

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I saw a review for this book on Book Binge that intrigued me. Unfortunately, I hadn't read the first two books in the series and I think that was a handicap. Also, the line editor did not do a very good job. There were at least three different instances where I was pulled out of the story as I puzzled over what a sentence could mean. Also, it had a LOT more sex than the cutesy cover might lead you to believe. Like, from page one. Maybe two. So, Piper Tucker, former bald-headed waif who was dumped on her father's driveway, is now all groweds up and babysitting for her friend's eight-year-olds twins. And who comes a-knocking on the door, needing a place to stay while he regroups from a recent layoff? Why, it's her childhood crush, Brady Stritmeyer. And there's immediate lust. Immediate. I was disappointed that there wasn't more interaction with the psychic connection that Piper had with the ghosts. And that story, as well as the story of Brady exploring his new place in the world, now that he was laide off, were laid aside for so much of the sexxing. It was a fun story but not as much character development as there could have been.

Monday, August 18, 2014

How the Scoundrel Seduces by Sabrina Jeffries

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I was so unsure of this book, and, a week later, I'm still not sure how I feel. Jeffries writing is fantastic. She took a storyline that I didn't particularly like and created a story that made me finish even though I was having doubts the whole time. If you've read the other two "Duke's Men" stories, I'd definitely read this one as well.
In a previous story, Lady Zoe Keane, daughter of the Duke of Olivier,did a favor for the Duke's Men. And now, she wants to call it in. Specifically, she wants them to investigate who she is.
Tristan Bonnaud wants nothing more in life than to ensure that his titled half-brother doesn't bother him anymore. He just wants to be an investigator and definitely doesn't want to deal with the upper classes. Lady Zoe... she intrigues him. And so does her mysterious background.
If you like Sabrina Jeffries, I think you'll like this book. She's a wonderful writer and this is a series I'll definitely keep reading.