Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Club by AL Brooks

The Club by A.L.  BrooksI've been trying to branch out on my romance reading lately and thought this might be an interesting read. And it certainly was. Not a ton of buildup to romance even though there is a lot of sex. Instead of really getting to know a couple of characters, there is a rotating cast of women falling in love (or further in love) based around one place: a lesbian sex club. It's a safe place for women to come and enjoy anonymous sex but safely, with a lot of rules. Not my usual read but not a bad book, especially for one that essentially wove together several novellas in less than 200 pages.

Three stars

Saturday, July 30, 2016

This Earl is on Fire by Vivienne Lorret

Left for dead on the doorstep of one of his properties, Liam Cavanaugh, the Earl of Wolford, is sure that he has wronged some jealous husband. And that he's definitely going to die. But his renters might have something to say about that.
The Pimm family is like no one he's ever met before. They're open, they're trusting, and they're managing to live without their servants. And their daughter Adeline is lovely. Too bad he doesn't want to marry for thirty years.
This Earl is on Fire by Vivienne LorretAdeline has issues. Her leg was broken when she was born, making it so that it is much shorter than her other leg. She knows how much a deformity like hers can make her a pariah, her parents used to bribe the children of their small town to come and pretend to be her friend. So she's sure that she's not going to like being in the ton; she's just in London to have adventures.
While this was a perfectly nice story, the side characters felt a bit flat, especially since at least a few of them (Julia and the Marquess of Thayne, Liam's cousin Gemma, and I'm guessing even the Earl that Thayne borrowed a horse from at the end of the story) seemed like sequel bait. The ending was also a bit rushed. Though she wasn't as well developed in this book, I remember Julia from the second book in this series and can't wait for her to get her HEA.

Three stars
This book comes out August 2

Friday, July 29, 2016

Fatal Affair by Marie Force

I got a copy of this book from NetGalley as a re-release in anticipation of the 10th book in this series being released. I have been reading her Green Mountain series and (mostly) enjoying it so I thought I'd request this book and see what's what. For me, it was three and a half stars. I honestly forgot I had read her other series so it was nice to have that change of voice. It was a little long at just over 400 pages and there was definitely some fat that could have been trimmed and the ending was a bit rushed, but I overall came away from this book with some good feelings.
Fatal Affair by Marie ForceNick Cappuano is annoyed that his boss, Senator John O'Connor, is running late on the morning of an important bill. It's possible he overslept. Maybe he was up late with one of the many women that he's juggling. It's nothing new. But what Nick doesn't expect is to find is his long-time friend dead, murdered in a truly horrific manner.
Detective Samantha "Sam" Holland remembers Nick well. They went on one memorable date six years ago and she never heard from him again. But that's not the big issue in her life right now. It's the fact that she's been handed her first high-profile case after a shooting that went very, very wrong. Now she's juggling an incredibly difficult case, an old love who is a new suspect, and her own set of personal issues.

Three and a half stars

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Darkness Knows by Cheryl Honigford

The Darkness Knows by Cheryl HonigfordI liked the cover of this book, the setting (1938 Chicago), and the description of the heroine (up-and-coming radio star) so I requested it from NetGalley. And Edelweiss. Oops.
And it is exactly the kind of cozy that I was expecting. The heroine, Vivian "Viv" Witchell, is snappy and quick on her feet. Even when she finds the network star of their most popular series dead in the radio station with a note that seems to indicate that Viv is next. While she may have grown up in the lap of luxury, Viv is more than used to doing for herself and she's not going to let someone else watch over her, even if that some <i>is</i> the handsome detective, Charlie Haverman, that her serial is based on.
Generally, I liked this book. But the way that Charlie treated Viv, though it may be time period appropriate, just made him go down in my book as a lot less likable than he had been. And the same was true of Viv, I just never completely warmed to her. She was ambitious, but not. And she liked Charlie but still felt things for her costar. She was supposed to be smart but did some really dumb things. At least, I think she was supposed to be smart. And, yes, humans are generally contradictory, but SO MUCH contradiction really made it hard for me to find her relatable.

Three stars
This book comes out August 1

Monday, July 25, 2016

Do NOT Bring Your Dragon to the Library by Julie Gassman

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the LibraryI've grabbed quite a few children's books from NetGalley and Edelweiss lately. Almost all of them (including this one) have had double-page illustrations that would make infinitely more sense if we could see both pages at once. An almost every page, the dragon is split between two pages that means that we have to knit them together.
The rhymes in this book mostly flow very nicely and this is definitely a very fun (and incredibly inclusive) story.

I highly recommend this book with the caveat that it should be read in a hard copy.

This book comes out August 1
Four stars

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Die Like an Eagle by Donna Andrews

Twenty books in and I am still enjoying the Meg Lanslow mysteries. Okay, so they're slightly formulaic but that's part of the comfort of reading these cozies. I really enjoy that the books take place as time goes by with at least a year between each book. It makes it slightly easier to believe that so many people are dying in one small town.
Die Like an Eagle by Donna AndrewsMeg has taken on a new role in this book, Team Mom to her sons' baseball team, the Eagles. Michael is one of their coaches. They are mostly having fun except that the regular league head has cancer and his replacement is the head of the old league that everyone left (mostly to avoid Biff.)
So there are a lot of people that dislike Biff Brown. He's petty, vindictive, sexist and just pretty much adjective a good villain needs to have applied to him. And his business dealings are shady as well. It would be no surprise to have him turn up dead. Except that it's his half-brother Shep who's found in the (disgusting) port-a-potty that Biff had supplied for the baseball field.
Who killed Shep? And was he the intended victim? How can Meg do a runaround Biff to make sure her boys have fun this summer?
A nice addition to the Lanslow series. Can't wait to read the next one.

Four stars
This book comes out August 2
Followed by Gone Gull

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen

A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen
The book opens with Elise, dressed as a (male, of course) doctor in the bowels of Bedlam. She's examining the Duchess of Ashland. The elderly woman has been declared insane and is now being held captive and kept under heavy sedation. Chegarre and Associates have been hired by the duchess's daughter to find out where her mother has gone. Elise has discovered that the woman's nephew has had her declared insane. Why? Is it perhaps that the duchess is correct when she says that her son is still alive (meaning that the nephew will be unable to inherit the duchy and the fabulous wealth that comes with it)? When the enigmatic crime lord King comes to tell Elise that he will pay for her to discover the whereabouts of the presumptive duke, she becomes even more curious.
But when she meets Noah (miraculously quickly, her own words), she finds that he is not a dimwit nor even a haughty duke but a man very much to be admired. Not only physically but because of his spirit.
Of course, there are issues. Mainly, the duke's cousin very much wants him dead. But the two work through and also manage to fall in love.
What? A heroine who isn't a virgin? And has actually enjoyed a man's bed before? Love it. A man who can admit that a woman might be better at him than something? In a manner that isn't overwhelmingly preachy from the author? Also loved. Would have liked a bit more build up to the end but overall an enjoyable book.

Four stars
This book comes out July 26

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Inspired by the National Parks by Donna Marcinkowski Desoto

Inspired by the National Parks by Donna Marcinkowski DesotoIf you love quilting, I think you'll like this book. The same may be true if you love national parks but I think this is more for quilters. I work in Yellowstone so this book appealed to me. I was startled to learn that I knew the woman who did the introduction part of our park. She's a wonderful person and a great writer. Though the same isn't true for every park, it is overall a nice introduction to our national parks and a look at some nice quilts.
I was disappointed that more of the quilters weren't from the parks. There is a large community of people who quilt in Yellowstone (in fact, all longtime employees get a quilt when they leave) and it would have been nice to see some of those featured.

Three stars
This book comes out July 28

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Secrets She Kept by Brenda Novak

Keith gets his story in the follow-up to The Secrets She Kept. It's five years after the first book in this series and he's moved to Los Angeles, cleaned himself up, and runs a super-successful business. When he gets the call that his mother, Josephine, has committed suicide, he's flabbergasted. Josephine just wasn't the kind of person to have done something like that. She was too self-involved for one thing.
The Secrets She Kept by Brenda NovakWhen he gets back to the island, he's confronted with his past. Not only with his past drug habits but the people he harmed while using them. Especially Nancy.
It's been a long time but Nancy was hoping to have lost a bit more weight before Keith finally returned. He's always been the one who got away. And I didn't really love that about her story line. She was so obsessed with her weight and it never really got resolved. I guess that's more true-to-life but it was repeated so many times that I thought it would play more into the ending.
This was a really circuitous book, never really sticking to one plot point without wandering all over before it got to the end but I think regular Novak readers will enjoy it.

Three stars
This book comes out July 26

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Reckless Promise by Kasey Michaels

A Reckless Promise by Kasey MichaelsAnother romance where someone (Darby Travers, Viscount Nailbourne) makes a battlefield promise to become his friend's guardian if something happens to the friend. But, while a lot of romances have the guardian falling in love with his new ward, Michaels instead has Darby falling into a convenient marriage with his ward's aunt. At first, Darby is bemused to find that seven-year-old Marley comes with a fearsome protector, Sadie Grace Boxer, but then he finds that it may be easiest just to marry her. He's a viscount of a certain age and the mamas of some young ladies are looking at him with a certain gleam in their eye. Sadie is fairly good-looking and seems reasonably intelligent, so Darby decides to go for it.
Some of the story lines are a bit thin but regular Michaels fans will be thrilled.

Four stars
This book comes out July 26
Follows A Scandalous Proposal

Monday, July 18, 2016

To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne

Brooke is a wedding planner whose own wedding got canceled when the FBI showed up to take her husband-to-be away in handcuffs for putting together some Ponzi schemes.
Seth is a multi-billionaire hotel owner whose girlfriend told him he was a mean and heartless jerk and now he has no feels. Except that's only because he actually has all the feels. Or so we are told.
To Have and to Hold by Lauren LayneTheir paths cross when Seth's little sister wants to get married to a guy she's been dating for three months. And, newly crossed the country, Brooke is their bridal consultant. But Seth wants input since a) he'll be paying for the wedding and b) he's never even met the guy.
This book was the low end of three stars for me. Brooke was kind of a wimp and Seth was really, really domineering which was a sticking point for both his sister and Brooke but it was never resolved. He was still the same asshat that he was in the beginning. Which is fine if other people come to terms with it but Brooke didn't. Not really. And to have him do a big gesture six weeks after they essentially broke up and they're immediately moving in? It just doesn't seem like an HEA, more like a happily-for-the-next-six-months.

Two and a half stars
This book comes out July 26
Followed by For Better or Worse

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Color of Love by Radclyffe

The Color of Love by RadclyffeI heard about this author on a podcast and when I saw this book cross my NetGalley read, I grabbed the ARC. And enjoyed it. I liked the character development and the love story. I haven't really read a lot of w/w romance but if they are all this sweet, I think I will read more.
Derien Winfield is living the high life, coasting around the world, avoiding her controlling father. But when her aunt has a heart attack, Dare has to come home to protect her aunt's legacy.
Emily May is there when Dare's aunt goes down. She's the top in line to run HW's company, but she's not family. And there is a problem with her visa (I didn't really get this part, where was her passport for? Aren't American's born someplace else still given at least a dual citizenship?) so she might have to leave the States anyway.
Dare and Emily are immediately attracted to each other and their falling in love is very sweet. I felt like there were some story arcs left unresolved but overall had happy feels about the way that Dare and Emily finally came together in the end.
Four stars
This book comes out July 12

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Daughters of the Bride by Susan Mallery

Daughters of the Bride by Susan MalleryFans of Susan Mallery's one-off books will enjoy this one as well. While it doesn't have the complicated feels of Blackberry Island or Three Sisters, it does have the fun characters and good story lines that regular readers will enjoy. There is one tiny reference to another one-off book that seemed a little out of place but was only mildly irritating.
The sisters are somewhat pigeonholed. Courtney is the awkward, stupid one, Sienna is the pretty, successful one and Rachel is the overweight divorced mother. But each of them has their scars and secrets, especially after being raised by a mother who had leaned on their father and was sort of lost when he died. It's the regular Malley sort of story and mostly okay.
Except. The mother. I think we were supposed to somehow see her as someone to sympathize over but she came off as wholly self-concerned. I didn't feel like she ever sat down and recognized her own culpability in why her girls each turned out the way they did. Which would have been fine, except that other characters seemed to want to make that recognition for her. We were told that she had changed but never really shown it.

Three stars
This book comes out July 12

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Arsenic with Austen by Katherine Bolger Hyde

Arsenic with Austen by Katherine Bolger HydeI wish there had been some mention of the Christian undertones of this book in the description. It threw me off to be expecting a regular cozy and then to have religion tossed into the mix.
It's an otherwise unremarkable book. A college English teacher inherits a fortune from her aunt who, though eighty-seven, appears to have been murdered. She returns to the seaside town where she once spent her summers and encounters her childhood love as well as more bodies.
The book was a bit frenetic with a lot of storylines and characters and the ending was a little bit odd but it was an overall okay read.

Three stars
This book comes out July 5

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. RosenI definitely think that this book of entwined novellas is going to be compared to Love Actually. And this works just as well. The book opens with a southern girl who has just moved to New York to become a model and gets to wear THE dress of the season. It's a dress that touches the lives of many people whose stories are all told in the first person (not all of them women, despite the title of the book.) We get to meet the designer of THE dress, several people who work at Bloomingdale's, a Muslim girl visiting New York, a widower lawyer who is dating a much younger woman even though his loyal assistant has loved him for years, a private detective and a host of others.
Did we get to really learn about the characters? No. It's too hard to do in a book like this though I wish there had been a little more.
Overall, a fast, fun, and fluffy read that's perfect for the beach.

Four stars
This book comes out July 12

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Duke of Daring by Darcy Burke

This was a good book. Not exceptional and the story was a bit surface (even for me) but Darcy Burke fans will enjoy the story and I think new readers will as well. There is absolutely no need to have read the first book in this series.
The Duke of Daring by Darcy BurkeMiss Lucinda Parnell had the misfortune to be born to a man who, mourning the lost of his wife, squandered all of his money, leaving her penniless. So now, she's decided to walk into a man's world, gambling to make enough money to support herself and her grandmother. Her grandmother is hoping that Lucy will get married but she's had four seasons and no one has looked at Lucy twice.
The Earl of Dartford is startled to realize that the young man who's been winning all evening is actually a woman. He's also intrigued. What could cause a woman to do something so unusual? And why has he never met her before?
I wish this book had been a little bit longer so we could have gotten to know Lucy and Andrew a bit better. Or to see more of their adventures. Also to see more of the interaction between Lucy and her friends. I often complain that too much time is spent on the sequel-bait but in this book we barely get to know chatterbox Aquilla and the icy Ivy.

Three stars
This book came out July 5
Followed by The Duke of Deception

Housebroken by Laurie Notaro

I picked this book because of the similarity of the author's name to Tig Notaro (who the author TOTALLY references). I loved Lauren's breezy style and her conversational writing didn't grate on me as much as another recent read. I especially loved "Frankly, if I walk into your house and you don't have two hundred books in there somewhere that you haven't read yet, I don't trust you. I don't want to know you as a human." (27-28).
Fast and fun, this is most definitely an author I want to read again.

Four Stars
This book comes out July 5

Sunday, July 3, 2016

You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi KleinSo. I obviously skimmed the description on this one. I really thought it was either about coming out as gay or transitioning (I think I also got that from the title). And it made sense when the author started describing herself as a "tom man" but it got a little confusing from there until I finally figured out that the author is actually a straight woman. Yep. But she is a funny lady, evidenced by her bio at the end that enlightened me to the fact that she's the head writer on the Amy Schumer show. Finally got it figured out!
But this was a collection of essays she put together over the course of a couple of years. Reflections on her life, some about growing up, others about past loves. I liked it quite a bit. Not a ton of laugh out loud moments but some nice gentle humor that I enjoyed.

Four Stars
This book comes out July 5