Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I Made It - Day 1 at RWA

So I made it here to New York City.  My goodness but it's a big city with lots and lots of traffic.  I took the train from Albany, a train trip I HIGHLY recommend.  It's ever so much more relaxed than flying.  And the scenery!!  Most of the trip is along the Hudson river.  I wanted to put on the soundtrack from Last of the Mohicans and go back in time, but alas, my earbuds were packed away.

But when the train arrived at Penn Station, what a different vibe. The hotel is maybe 8 blocks or so away but I still took a cab since I didn't know where it was.  Took about 1/2 hour & cost $13!  Yikes.

I was thrilled that Wendy was in the room when I got here.  Right away talk turned to romance and it was like I just saw her a few weeks ago.

I did see Nath, Ames, Rosie & Naths sister who is here more to site see but they were headed to the Jimmy Fallon taping so we didn't get a chance to chat.

But the hotel is starting to fill up with romance people as we start trickling in from all over the place for this time I love to spend with my people.

Well, that's it for now but I'll be back.  Picturless I'm afraid, I'm doing this on my iPad and don't know how to do pics.  And I'm phone less so I kind of have to rely on Twitter.  But still, I'm here.

'til later

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Saga of the Cell Phone and Other Stuff Complicating my Life

I’m not a cell phone user.  I have one but it crapped out months ago and wouldn’t charge up again.  And I can’t say I really cared or noticed.  I had taken a few pictures and was just learning how to text, but for the rest – well, I couldn’t even really figure out how it worked.  But since I’m headed off to NY next week for RWA *happy dance* I need it again for its texting abilities and I decided I’d best start looking on how to get it fixed.  I scoured the internet – at work – for someplace that could fix it, tried a few numbers but they were asking an arm and a leg.  I finally got hold of one place that was reasonable and had been around for a while.  I drove quite a distance after work to take it there.  They took one quick look and told me it was obsolete and they didn’t have any parts for it.  Come On!!  I’ve only had the phone for about 3 years.  How can it be obsolete this soon!!

So I drove a long ways once again to my local Rogers thinking ‘the heck with it, if my phone is outdated, I may as well get another one and Rogers is the provider.

Well, I hit another nasty snag there.  I’ve had this plan I’m on for so long now, that I would have to get a new one if I were to get a new phone.  At present I pay $15/month, which for me is too much since I’ve gone months and months now without using my phone.  But if I were to get a new phone the monthly cost would jump to $80/month!!  And that’s not even with internet capabilities.  Well dang straight if I’m not getting my money’s worth at $15/month, I’m sure not going to pay $80!  So then he said the only other alternative was to buy a phone outright and transfer the info.  The lowest priced phone they had was $300.  I hate Rogers, hate them hate them.  I know they are in to make a profit and I don't begrudge them that. But what they do is highway robbery!!  
I looked at him, blinked a couple of times and then said “well, I don’t like either of those options”  I think I rather stumped him.  I was on my way out of the store thinking to myself ”shit! Shit, Shit!” when a young mother stopped me and said she overheard the conversation and said she had gone through the same thing and ended up getting a real good phone for a real good price on Amazon.  I thanked her but inside was thinking (I do a lot of thinking inside my head – and cursing too) “but I need it by Friday.”  I looked on Kijiji and Amazon last night but as for the most part I can’t even figure out how to answer my phone, knowing what to look for was beyond me so I quit in frustration and went on to watch So You Think You Can Dance.  It was rather funny as one of the peeps I tweet with sent me a private tweet asking if my phone number was the same as she’s going to RWA also and that’s the best way to connect.  So I’d hit the wall on the phone issue.

I was telling one of my co-workers yesterday about the problems I was having with the cell phone and she looked at mine and said she thought her son had almost the same one on his desk – several cell phones before.  And lo and behold didn’t she bring it in this morning for me just in case I needed it.  Bless her heart!!  I took out the charger to plug it in and get it charged up after changing SIM cards so all my info on the other phone would be in this one – including the phone number so she said and wasn’t it so not the right phone charger.  I don’t even know where I got the one I was carrying around.  And since I thought it was the right one for the phone, which means I’ve no idea where the correct charger is!  So I have a feeling my next hunt will be for a phone charger.  


Last time I went to the States to visit my sister, I somehow managed to get pulled over by New York States finest somewhere around Buffalo.  While I’m a very law abiding citizen in general, I do seem to have a need for speed when I’ve been a way for a while and I can almost smell the American/Canadian border and home.  I saw the flashing light and moved over the outside lane so he could pass me to get to the real criminal, only he didn’t pass me.


I was being pulled over for speeding.  Now this is where it gets strange.  He gave me a ticket but the ticket didn’t say how much I owed.  I was to enter my plea and sent it back.  Being a mostly law abiding citizen – except for my need for speed – I pleaded guilty and mailed it back.  And I’ve never heard from them since.  That was months and months ago.  Now I’m crossing the border again and in the back of my mind I’m terrified I’ll get stopped at the border for the criminal I am.  I tried calling yesterday so get it sorted out but talk about voice mail hell!!  Yikes!  By the time (20 minutes later) I got through to the proper place, the office had closed.  I did learn though that they closed the DMV in Buffalo which is where I would have gone.  And that you can pay on line with Master Card but I have Visa.  I’m just keeping my fingers crossed now that they are busy at the border and backed up and they’ll just waive me through.


I have On Star.  I love On Star – one of the reasons I haven’t worried too much about not having a cell phone.  In case of emergency I can phone them through my car and if my car crashes and air bag deploys, they call me.  But the last couple of times when I’ve headed home, for some reason they can’t download directions home.  And I don’t remember exactly the route – it’s an 8 hour drive to my sister’s place.  The last time it was almost funny if it wasn’t so nerve racking.  I had a live OnStar person talking me through Troy New York while at the same time I had happened to have an old GPS that I ended up using too.

The live On Star person could hear the Garmin and was saying “yes that’s the way you go,” or “no, don’t turn that way” 
By the time I got onto the I95, it’s no wonder I was stressed and started to speed.  I just wanted to, like ET, go home.


'til later

Monday, July 13, 2015

Recent Read

Do Not Forsake Me by Rosanne Bittner


Why This One: I’ve just been waiting for it for-evah it seems

Genre: Western

Steam Level: Hot, hot hot!

Outline: Miranda Hayes' life was changed the day she faced down infamous gunslinger Jake Harkner...and walked away with his heart. Their fates have been intertwined ever since. Hunted by the law, fleeing across a savage land, their desperate love flourished despite countless sorrows. Now, twenty-six years later, their family has finally found some measure of peace...balanced on the knife's edge of danger.

Jake has spent his years as a U.S. Marshal atoning for sins, bringing law to the land he once terrorized. But no matter how hard he fights the demons of his brutal past, the old darkness still threatens to consume him. Only Miranda keeps the shadows at bay. But when outlaws looking for revenge strike a fatal blow, Jake risks losing the one woman who saw past his hard exterior and to the man inside.

He always knew there'd be the devil to pay. He just never realized he might not be the one to bear the ultimate price.


My Thoughts: I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time.  I’ve been simple mad for Jake and Randy from Outlaw Heats ever since I first read it twenty years ago and I was beyond delighted when I heard there was a sequel planned and preordered it the first moment I could.  When it came I set aside time to get back into the amazing love these two have for each other.  I finished it in about a day and a half.  So now the big question is what did I think?

Hmmm.  I am so glad that I read it but it’s not going to get quite as high of marks as Outlaw Hearts did.  The central love story was Amazing.  It’s so refreshing to see that Jake and Randy are just as much in love and passionate love at that as they were when they first met twenty six years earlier.  Their need for each other hasn’t dimmed not even one candle’s worth and I love that about them. Here’s a brief outline for those who haven’t read Outlaw Hearts – first piece of advice, READ IT!  Not because you have to have read it to read and understand this one, I don’t think you necessarily do, but Outlaw Hearts is such a wonderful book and the love story between outlaw Jake Harkner and widow Miranda Hayes is so compelling and so beautiful it would be a shame NOT to read it.

Jake Harkner was an outlaw, a bad guy who did bad things.  He and Miranda meet when he gets into a shootout in a general store and Miranda inadvertently shoots him.  He rides out of town and somehow ends up at her farmstead and when she gets home, she nurses him back to health.  She has plans to go west and once she gets to know the good and tender side of Jake that he keeps hidden, she asks him to take her.  He refuses and she sets off on her own but when Jake has second thoughts and worries about her, he follows and finds her in desperate circumstances.  He takes care of her and the love they share deepens and grows and much against his better judgement, they marry.  But his outlaw past comes back to haunt them again and again.  He spends time in jail and at the end of Outlaw Hearts, he has been released an ordered to become a deputy marshal and put the bad guys, of whom he used to be one.

Do Not Forsake Me starts a year or so later and Jake is now a full-fledged marshal and he and his son Lloyd are just headed back into a town in Montana with some bad guys.  During the arrest, they had to kill some of the outlaws and now they have become a target for revenge.  This is nothing new for Jake; he was a lot in Outlaw Heats too.  But Jake is getting older, he’s in his 50’s and he’s really starting to feel some of the injuries that he has suffered in his violent past.  He’s worried about his son Lloyd and his daughter Evie, along with his beloved wife Randy will be targets for those looking for revenge against him.  And he is right to be worried as one of them does become a victim.  Saying too much would be spoilers and I don’t want to do that so I won’t give any more away about the story.  Instead I’ll say what worked and what didn’t quite so well.

Jake and Randy.  I loved them both just as much in this book.  While Jake is still very much a gray character, he still kills without remorse those who deserve to die, Randy is his touchstone.  She keeps him from completely going to the dark side and he knows she does.  He needs her and he tells her that though out the story in so many tender and romantic ways.  Though tough on the outside, he’s so soft when it comes to his family.

Jeff Trubridge.  This is a character who has decided to write a book about the infamous Jake Harkner.  At first we don’t if he is shady or a good kind of writer.  But thankfully he’s a good kind of writer and he and Jake develop a very nice rapport.  Jake decided to bring him along with he and Lloyd so Jeff can get a personal and close up view of what they deal with as US marshals.  Jake likes him and there some humorous moments in times of great tension.  And I love Jeff’s observations on the complex man that Jake is.

The story itself.  It’s nice to follow up with characters years later and see where they are at.  As a sequel this works great.

Now for the things that didn’t work quite as well

Lloyd.  I just couldn’t warm up to him at all.  He did a few things I really didn’t like, one in particular that sent him to the dark side and will have repercussions I do believe in the next book, yes, Ms. Bittner has plans for another one in this series *fist pump of joy*.  I just couldn’t connect with his character.

Jakes smoking.  Now I realize that this was the old west and long before we knew the dangers of smoking, and I’m an ex smoker myself and I have no issues with a character smoking.  But it seems like he was constantly smoking  -  All.  The. Time.  I just wish she (the author) hadn’t written so much about it.

And that’s about it for what didn’t work so well for me.  A very short list isn’t it.  But there was nothing in Outlaw Hearts that bothered me at all, thus the reason that Do Not Forsake Me is graded slightly lower.  But I have no problems whatsoever recommending this book to those who love a good Western and even though who don’t, who just love a story about enduring love and a wickedly delicious gray hero.


Grade: 4.5 out of 4

Will I read it again: Oh yes, yes, yes
Happily - a hearty thumbs ups

Friday, July 03, 2015

Busy I have been

Just a quick update, I've been working the 12 to 8 shift and normally it's quiet ( and I get time to do some blog posts).  But alas, not this week.  It's been the week of  a full moon and things really do get strange.  I've been run off my toes all week and therefore, no extracurricular time.

But hopefully soon.

'til later

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Comfort Authors - A whole different kettle of fish

I think those of us who reread books are very familiar with the comfort read.  It’s the book that gives us comfort when we are feeling down, maybe because we are in a reading slump, perhaps RL is zapping us, work is more stressful than usual, there could be many reasons why we need a comfort read.  Romance in general is a comfort genre literature, we know going in that there will be a HEA, but the comfort read is even more so.  We’ve already read it, we have taken the journey with the hero/heroine already and we want to take it again because the first time we traveled the road, the trip was so enjoyable.  All us rereaders have those books.  But I just reread a book I haven’t read in a number of years and I realized that the author herself was a comfort author.  I’m speaking of Jayne Ann Krentz.  I haven’t read any of her newer books in a few years now, but I loved her books back in the day and each one gave me the warm fuzzies when I read them.  Her stories are predictable and I know what I’m going to get and I like it.  There are no surprises, just a comfort feeling along with the “I just like these people” thought.  I recently purchased as couple more of her back list as ebooks and I know before I even start them that I’ll be feeling literaturely cuddled after I’m finished reading them.

JD Robb gives me a similar feeling when I reread one of the In Death books.  I know and really LIKE Eve, Roarke and the gang so it’s a level of contentment when I reread one of their crimes and how they solve it.  While her novels are all crime related and seemingly not comfort, still, it’s knowing all the characters so well that makes it so for me.

I’ve been trying to think of other comfort authors but I’m having a hard time thinking of them in terms of authors and not specific books.  If it were books I was pondering, I could come up with quite a few, but authors is harder for me.

Anyone have any authors they consider “comfort authors”?
'til later

Friday, June 26, 2015

Random Ramblings

It’s still busy and I really should be concentrating on what I’m getting paid to do, but I don’t think it will hurt if I take a few minutes here and there as what I’m doing is pretty routine and my mind is once again taking flight.


The snobby snob in me can’t help but chuckle at the flogging of the dead horse and the utter ridiculousness that is the FOURTH installment in the 50 Shades phenomenon.    For those who pay attention to such things, I haven’t read the books, will never read the books, haven’t seen the movie, will never see the movie.  I’m annoyed at the fact that so many have read these books and the buzz has been out of this world for, from what I’ve read, is poorly written fan fiction.  There are so many fabulous authors out there who write well written books that will pass by completely unnoticed by the general masses who then read garbage.  To me it’s not unlike Keeping up with the Kardasians winning a Golden Globe for  best acting.  It’s wrong, it’s just wrong.

So I couldn’t help but laugh at the indignation of so many who are discovering that book 1, from Christian Grey’s POV is just one of three and the author has 2 more of the exact same book planned.  Good grief - talk about flogging a dead horse!! 

I read some reviews on GoodReads and word is – it’s garbage.  I can’t help but hope the author plummets down to earth where she never should have risen anyway.  I tell you, I am such a bitch some days.


I’ve been designing – sort of – my own calendars for a number of years now through Vista Print.  Every month was a different scene from North and South each and every time the calendar ended in August with “The Train Scene Kiss”.  I brought it into work and as more and more people from work watched and loved it, I began to order more calendars for coworkers – just to share the love.

Well people, we have come to the end of an era I’m afraid.  For the first time since 2011, North and South screen caps no longer grace the months.  Nope, I’m figuratively doffing my cap and passing the calendar torch onto Outlander. 
 These are a different kind of calendars.  Instead of starting in January, as most do, mine start in September so it’s getting really close to time to order them.  Because we often plan schedules 2 weeks to even a month ahead of the current date, I have 2 of them on my desk, the current month and the next month.  So I’m needing September soon.  A few other people do the same thing and some of these happen to be fellow fans of Outlander.  So I’ve designed the calendar – just have to hit that pay button and the order will be winging its way to VistaPrint.  I just hope Richard/John will forgive for leaving him behind as I move on to Sam/Jamie.  I will love you always John Thornton and at least we have 2013.
Bet you all thought you'd never seen the day.


I know I’ve bitched about this before but I will continue to do so until JUSTICE IS SERVED!!  They have a thread again at AAR for freebie or ebook sales.  There are a couple lately for books I would love to get and they are on for a great price at Amazon.  Amazon –dot COM that is!  It’s an entirely different story at Amazon.ca.  And of course it’s through my favourite publisher (not) Harper Collins/Avon. 

Sex, Lies and Online Dating by Rachel Gibson (love her books)

Amazon.com - $1.99

Amazon.ca $8.99

Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

Amazon.com - $1.99

Amazon.ca $8.99

Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase

Amazon.com - $1.99

Amazon.ca - $7.99 (squeal of a deal there she said sarcastically)



I received a mood calendar as a gift a while ago and I brought it to work.  I love this calendar and changed it every day to reflect my mood.  Coworkers are starting to check my mood before checking how I am.  Lately it’s mostly been on the negative side of things, but starting Thursday, July 2 (Wednesday is a holiday here in Canada) the calendar mood will be starting to change.  Why you ask?  Well, it’s cause then we will be into the actual month I head once again to RWA – this years in New York, to meet up with my people again.  I think anticipation is even higher this year as I missed last year, mostly because of the depression but also because I had another big project, new bathroom that I had to pay for.  This year I’m getting new siding but that’s not going to stop me from RWA.  There are SO many people I’m looking forward to seeing, but a special shout out to Wendy,SuperLibrarian.  We will be roomies again after several years apart and my first question will be “Wendy, Wendy, Wendy, what do you have against Jon Snow that you are glad he’s dead????” 

Mind you I haven’t watched Game of Thrones for a few seasons now, it became just to bloody bloody.  I have tried a couple of times over the other seasons since and then there would come a scene where someone got stabbed in the eye and that was all she wrote.  But from the first season that I was an AVID watcher, Jon and Daenerys and Tyrion were my favourite characters with Jon being #1.  AND THEY KILLED HIM OFF!  As if Ned and Robb and Catelyn all dying wasn’t enough.  As if what’s happened to Sansa and Arya isn’t enough?  I’ve lost track of the little boys.  So did they then have to go and kill of Jon??? Why, Why, Why?

 Then I can hardly wait to see Lisabea and Rosie – I hope Rose is going again!!  Of course there are so many other too, but the four of us seem to hang out the most.

Now back to the point – see how I ramble and get off topic?  So now that I will be in countdown mode, my mood will be picking up until I’m up to daily bouncy

 This has nothing to do with anything to do with romance but it is a real bug-a-boo I have.  I’m on the phone a lot anymore at work.  And I can tell when the person is speaking on a cell phone.  Cell phone reception/quality is TERRIBLE a lot of the times.  I’m constantly adjusting my phone’s volume, calls cut out, they are mumbled and I can’t hear what they are saying, they are calling while in traffic and all I hear is background noise.  A lot of the nurses who call in have been issued cell phones and I think the company they worked for must have ordered the cheapest cell phones they could get.  It makes me so cranky (and then I have to change my mood calendar) whenever I get one of these calls and chance are when I’ve had to ask for the fourth time for them to repeat something that I can’t hear, an impatient tone in my voice may come through – not at the person I’m talking to, but the cheap piece of equipment they are using.  I’m cranky enough as it is since I don’t like talking on the phone, but talking on the phone and not hearing what the other person is saying, well, many of those kinds of calls a day and I really need to de-stress at the end of the day.

Anyway - that's all I have for now

'til later


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Recent Reads

Outlaw Hearts by Rosanne Bittner

Why this one:  I LOVE THIS BOOK

Genre: Western

Steam Level: pert ‘near perfect

Outline: At twenty, Miranda Hayes had known more than her share of heartache and loss. Widowed by the war, orphaned by a vicious band of rebel raiders, she was a woman alone in a harsh, unyielding frontier. Then she clashed with the notorious gunslinger Jake Harkner, a hard-hearted loner with a price on his head, and found within herself a deep well of courage...and feelings of desire she'd never known.

Hunted by lawmen and desperadoes alike, haunted by his brutal past, Jake had spent a lifetime on the dusty trail--and on the run. Until he met a vibrant, honey-haired beauty who was determined to change his violent ways, who loved him enough to risk her life to be his woman...an outlaw's woman.

From the vast plains of the Midwest across the Oregon Trail to the sun-drenched valleys of southern California, from the blazing Nevada desert to the boomtowns of Colorado, Miranda and Jake struggled to endure amid the perils of a lawless wilderness. In a world of heart-stopping danger and burning desire, could their hard-won love survive the shadows that stalked their happiness?

My Thoughts: Take this review I did last year:
I read this book years ago when it first came out and it blew me away at first reading. I’ve reread it a number of times since then and I've loved it more every time.
Jake Hackner is an outlaw. Pure and simple he’s a bad guy. He’s in town loading up on supplies when Miranda Hayes accidentally shoots him. He manages to get away and heads out of town. He finally holes up at a farm to recover a bit. Little does he know the farm he ended up belongs to Miranda. She is a young widow whose husband died in the Civil War. After raiders kill her father and take most of their belongings she decides to head out west to look for her younger brother.

She finds Jake and nurses him back to health. And during this time she sees something good beneath the outlaw exterior. She asks him to take her out west since he is headed the same way, but he refuses.

Later he has a change of heart and decides to look for her to help her. He finds her at station after she’s  been left behind by the wagon train she was with.  She’d been bitten by a snake and the nasty scoundrels were taking advantage of her illness.  Jake saves her and thus begins a truly amazing love story between an outlaw wanting to go straight and an incredibly strong woman. They are desperately in love with each other but time and time again Jake’s outlaw past comes back to try and destroy them.

This is one of those epic type books. It’s a long book coming in at 501 pages with teeny tiny print. It spans over 20 years. Bad things happen to good people and it isn’t always easy to read. Each time I read it, I have to take breaks due to its richness and length. It’s like a truly rich feast that is best eaten slowly in order to savour it.

Jake is one heck of a hero. He’s not all good. He definitely has shades of gray to him. But what saves him is his almost worship of ‘Randy’. He knows he’s no good for her; staying with her can bring her great heartache.

But Randy sees past his outlaw ways into his hidden heart and realizes he is a victim of his early circumstances. She sees the lost little boy inside and that inside he really has a good person wanting to come out. She refuses to let him give up no matter what fate throws at them.

This really is a heart in your throat, breathtaking book. I have a list of about 10 books that seem to stand out above all others. Outlaw Hearts has always been one of them and I know it always will be. So I'm spreading the word early on this one, you don't find much better than this book

 And add a Hell to the Yes!! – even if it is a review I did previously.   I don’t know how many times I’ve read this book now, but it just doesn’t get old and I fall in love with Jake and Randy all over again – not that I ever fell out of love with them.  The love and devotion and passion that exists between them is timeless.  They have to fight so hard to keep it going so that when they do overcome whatever has kept them apart, it’s even better, their coming together.  Randy is the goodness that Jake needs in his life to keep him on the right path when it would be so easy to go off it.  And Randy needs Jake because he needs her.  She sees the goodness in him where no one else does and because he had such an abusive past, she needs to keep reinforcing him that he is good.  He truly does treasure and cherish her, and she stands by him through good times and bad.

She has another book coming out next month with Jake and Randy, apparently one she’s been wanting to write for years now.  I already have it preordered and I can hardly wait until it appears on my kindle.

Grade: 5 out of 5

Will I read it again: A Resounding YES.  Again and again and again.  I can’t get enough of it.


Night Whispers by Leslie Kelly

Why This One:  I really enjoyed Bringing Down Sam and Reforming Jake and I really enjoyed them and went searching for some of her back list

Genre: Contemporary

Steam Level: simmers for a while then breaks out into a full boil

Outline: Thanks to her sexy radio talk show, Night Whispers DJ Kelsey Logan has become infamous! Suddenly, men all over Baltimore are desperate to discover the true identity of Lady Love, the sultry siren who keeps them up all night. But the only man Kelsey is desperate to have is sexy, stuffy Mitch Wymore.

Mitch is having a hard time believing that his bratty childhood nemesis has grown into the temptress the whole city's lusting after. A woman he's lusting after. He might have been able to keep his libido under control if Kelsey hadn’t made it clear she wanted to seduce him.

My Thoughts:  Leslie Kelly is a good writer.  I just finished a reread of Outlaw Hearts and loved it all over again.  Sometimes when you finish reading a very good book there is almost a restlessness that comes over while you search for the next book.  But Night Whispers had a very soothing effect on me and was a perfect book to read after.

I like the trope of this story, heroine has had life-long crush on hero but she was just the pesky little sister of his bed bud.  Mitch had mostly lived with Kelsey’s family growing up due to his own lousy home life, but he always felt like he was standing on the outside looking in.  so when Kelsey comes back into his life and things are combustible between them, he’s very reluctant to start anything, not wanting to upset the family who raised him.  But things burn hot between him and Kelsey.  He was kind of wild as a young man but he’s gotten a bit stuffy over the years and Kelsey unstuffs him.  She drives him crazy with some of the things she does, she’s kind of a wild and crazy heroine, and he particularly hates her job, though he does admit she’s very good at being a late night, very seductive DJ.

He finds himself living on the wild side again and he finds he’s enjoying it and falling more and more for Kelsey all the time.

While I didn’t enjoy this quite to the level I did Bringing Down Sam and Reforming Jake, still, it was a very good treat when one was needed.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Will I read it again:  Probably not – but NOT and I repeat NOT because I didn’t enjoy it.  But I’m trying to be realistic.  I’m buying books at a very scary pace and I already have so many to read the first time as well and a number that I reread frequently.  If I was much younger, my answer would probably be different though – heh, heh, heh.

Alex by Irish Winters

Why this one:  No real reason, it’s just where my finger stopped when trying to pick the next book to read

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Steam Level: I’d say warm – not boiling but nice and warm

Outline: He’s trying to forget . . .

Alex Stewart, ex-Marine and tough as nails boss, ditches the success of his fledgling business and flees to his cabin in the deep woods. He’s had enough. Four years after the deaths of his wife and daughter, he’s stuck in the anger stage of grief. He wants to be left alone. Life used to make sense. It just doesn’t bring him joy. Nothing does.

She’s trying to remember . . .

Left to die in those same deep woods, Kelsey is the last thing Alex expects to find at his cabin. She’s everything he’s running away from. Responsibility. Memories. Having to care about someone else beside himself. To make matters worse, she can’t remember anything except her first name. Neither can she explain the marks on her body, nor why two darling baby boys haunt her dreams.

But Alex can . . .

My Thoughts: I struggled with how to rate this book.  I liked the characters, I liked the story but there several plot points left untouched after being introduced and one was a GLARING plot point that was never addressed and since it was MAJOR to the story, the lack of follow-up was very jarring.  And sadly, this was too big a mistake and I can’t ignore that fact and it brings down the grade of this book.

The book opens with Kelsey running through woods and finally collapsing against a wall.  It then switches to Alex, the founder of a group of former army snipers who help out in the world trouble spots.  His own life exploded a few years previously when his wife and young daughter were killed and he hasn’t really recovered since.  He’s full of anger and frustration and decides he needs to get away from it all and visit his very rustic cabin in the woods with his two inherited war dogs.  He comes across Kelsey and can tell right off the bat that she is in very bad shape.  She’s been badly beaten, has scrapes all over her and is in a very weakened condition.  On top of that, when she regains conscious , she has no memory of who she is or what happened to her.  He’s resentful at first, having to take care of her, almost blaming her for the state she’s in, but he very quickly gets past it and sees that she is someone very special.  He falls deeply for her and is determined to help her in whatever it is she needs.  As he is a very angry individual, his almost blaming her goes along with his nature at the time so he reaction didn’t bother me at all and then he is so sweet and protective of her that I really liked him once he took off his grouchy uniform.

Kelsey is a good heroine.  She has gone through some horrendous things that most of can’t even imagine dealing with and a large part of the book is spent with her grieving and finally and slowly being able to move on with her life with the help and support of Alex who has been through that difficult and painful journey himself.

So – what are the problems?  Well for one thing Alex mentions that he’s been married twice. We know of his one wife but nothing else is mentioned about the other one – what happened to her, why did he marry her, was she the first or second wife?  I had all kind of questions running through my head and why start that thread if one isn’t going to do anything with it and just leave it hanging?  But a much worse thread left hanging is the fate of Kelsey’s abuser.  It’s never mentioned and this is such a huge oversight all things considered that it really did spoil what could have been a great book.  It’s a complete fail by the author and I’m very shocked that it wasn’t fixed through editing.

So because of this I don’t know if I can recommend this book.  It should serve as a warning book to authors.  Alex had such great potential to be a 4.5 or even 5 star book, but the author torpedoed that for me by completely ignoring a vital piece of the story.

Grade: 3 out of 5

Will I read this one again:  Sadly no.  Though I do want to try another book by her since it was absolutely not the writing itself, nor the characters that didn't work.  It was a plot hole I couldn't get past.

Take a Chance on Me by Susan Donovan

Why this one:  I’ve read this book a number of times now and it never fails to cheer me up and make me laugh.

Genre: Contemporary

Steam Level: A nice rolling boil

Outline: They've Got Nothing In Common...
For animal behaviorist Emma Jenkins, romance has been at the bottom of her daily "to do" list since making it through a messy divorce. But everything changes the day six-feet-of-gorgeous Thomas Tobin walks into her office with a quivering Chinese Crested named Hairy, a canine that looks more like an underfed rodent than a dog. Sure Thomas is sending her mixed signals-but that charming smile just sent Emma's dormant sex drive through the roof...

But Animal Attraction-
Thomas isn't looking for a fling. In fact, he wants nothing to do with women. He just wants to know if Hairy witnessed his owner's murder. But something tells him that asking Emma to help him with the case will spell nothing but trouble-trouble in the form of serious temptation.

And the Willingness To Take A Chance On Love
Thomas knows that relying on Emma's expertise-and her soft touch with a weird dog that has somehow become his-may be a crazy way to track a killer. Especially when Emma's down-home warmth makes him want to believe that anything is possible-even true love.
My Thoughts:  This is one of those books that every so often I get an urge to read again.  As I said above it never fails to cheer me up.  The characters are all delightful, each and every one of them, including and almost especially Hairy, the Very Ugly Chinese Crested who is in some ways the real star of this book.  I’m not even a dog person but he is such a hoot.  Sometimes we get his POV and it’s hilarious.

Thomas Tobin is a grouchy bear of a hero – one of my favourite kind.  But he has a reason for his grumpiness.  He’s a lawyer who masquerades as a hit man in order to catch they bad guys who want to have people murdered.  He doesn’t really see the best of mankind in this role.  In addition, he questions his very masculinity when he and a former fiancĂ© were told his ‘swimmers’ were in pretty bad shape and he’s probably never be able to father a child.  His former flame didn’t take the news so well and really did a number on him.

He meets animal behaviourist and heroine Emma Jenkins when he kind of inherits this ugly, traumatized Chinese Crested dog Hairy when one of Thomas’ informants is murdered and Hairy was his dog.  Hairy is very high maintenance and the advice that Emma offers Thomas to help poor Hairy out is LOL hilarious and almost makes Thomas squirm in embarrassment.  Both Thomas and Emma are wildly attracted to each other but both have issues.  Emma’s ex has done as big/bad a number on her as Thomas ex did on him and it’s cute watching them completely misread each other.  But attraction and love eventually wins out.

If you are looking for a book to make you smile, possibly laugh, with a wonderful grump of a hero and warm, loving, smart heroine, this is the book for you.  It would be under the “if you like” type of Rachel Gibson, Julie James, Susan Andersen kind of book.

Grade: 5 out of 5

Will I read this book again: Yep, already have a few times and I know I will again.

And that's it for this latest batch
'til later