Thursday, August 27, 2015

Recent Reads

Suddenly One Summer by Julie James

 Genre: Contemporary

 Why this one: I’ve been a fan of her books since her very first book

 Steam Level:  You will need to blow on this one before taking that first sip

 Outline:  Divorce lawyer Victoria Slade has seen enough unhappy endings to swear off marriage forever. That doesn't mean she's opposed to casual dating—just not with her cocky new neighbor, who is as gorgeous and tempting as he is off-limits. But once she agrees to take on his sister's case, she's as determined to win as ever—even if that means teaming up with Ford....

Investigative journalist Ford Dixon is bent on finding the man who got his sister pregnant and left her high and dry. He's willing to partner with Victoria, despite the fact that the beautiful brunette gets under his skin like no other woman. He might not be looking to settle down, but there's no denying the scorching attraction between them. Still, the more time he spends with Victoria, the more he realizes that the one woman as skeptical about love as he is might be the only woman he could really fall for…
 
My Thoughts: Ms. James has been an autobuy author since book 1.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with her a number of times now at conferences and I confess to a bit of a girl crush.  She’s friendly and warm and a very nice person.  But I found this out AFTER I’d read a few of her books so no conflict on how to do a review of a book by an author I’ve met and maybe not like the book so much.  While some I’ve liked more than others, I have enjoyed all of them.

This book is one of my favourites so far.  I found it just delightful and a few places, while in public, found myself snickering out loud unexpectedly.  I love a book that makes me do that.

One of the things Ms. James excels at is writing smart, quick witted and very likeable heroes and heroines and Victoria and Ford are no exception.  Both are very wary of getting into “relationships” – ugly word that – because of issues from growing up.  Victoria in particular had it tough and in her profession as a divorce attorney she sees people and dying marriages at their very worst so she’s very understandably leery.

And Ford doesn’t want anything lasting either.  He has enough with his family.  But as the outline says, sparks fly and neither can deny that the other is growing on them.  Victoria is brought into Fords orbit when she unexpectedly agrees to help his younger sister find the father of her baby and the dialogue between Victoria and Ford is sharp and quick and wickedly funny.

If you are a Julie James fan or even on the fence about this one – go for it!  It’s not often I pay as much for an ebook as I paid for this one – being the cheapy that I am, but I didn’t begrudge the extra money spent on this book one little bit.


Would I read this one again:  Just doing up this review makes me want to read it again so the answer is a resounding YES!

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

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http://members.genashowalter.com/The One You Want by Gena Showalter

Genre: Contemporary

Why this one:  I read a couple of paranormals and while they didn’t work for me, it wasn’t so much the writing and plus this one was on for a real good price…..

Steam Level: Again, a few minutes may be needed for it to cool down before taking a sip

Outline: Rich, powerful and utterly untamable, Dane Michaelson is every woman's darkest fantasy. When he returns to his hometown to witness his father's upcoming nuptials, he is unprepared for the redheaded beauty soon to become his stepsister. He's never wanted anyone more.

Kenna Starr has no desire to join the long list of women on rotation in Dane's bedroom. The single mom learned the hard way—bad boys do bad things, and someone always gets hurt. But Dane isn't fighting fair. With every heated look, stolen kiss and illicit caress, he melts her defenses.

Soon, the girl with the rep and the man who claims to be heartless are locked in a passionate affair. But when trouble arises, will they stand together or fall apart?

My Thoughts: I read this one very shortly after reading Suddenly One Summer and while I liked this one, it didn’t have quite the bang for me as the other book.  It had shades of other books –ABSOLUTELY NOT that it was intentional or anything but the hero/heroine reminded me somewhat of Gray and Faith from Linda Howards After the Night.  Dane’s father and Kenna’s mother were involved when they were young; destroying both families and Dane took his pain out on Kenna treating her unfairly.  He has a lot of anger towards his father for the way his dad treated the family.  She’s had a bit of crush on him but it was quickly dashed by that event.  Dane is now a very successful businessman.  Here the two books diverge as it doesn’t take Dane long before he’s sure that Kenna is the woman for him.  Kenna however isn’t buying it.  She can’t really see why he seems set on her.  She was hurt very badly years earlier and after the incident with Dane.  Her mother is a bitch to her and she’s grown up to be pretty wild.  She’s slow to trust Dane, but with good reason. 

Would I read this one again:  Possibly, very possibly  The odd would be better if only I could quit buying books.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5


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Seduced by Molly O’Keefe

Why this one: Wendy talked it up at RWA and as it’s a Western and a good price…….

Genre: Historical Western

Steam Level: good kind of heat to sit around a campfire by

Outline: Melody Hurst’s days as a Southern belle are over. Now she’s widowed and alone in the foothills of the Rockies, struggling to make a life in a dangerous world. She’s determined to secure a future by marrying – but love is out of the question.

Cole Baywood has turned bounty hunter after serving in the horrors of the Civil War, but the ghosts of the men and women he’s killed still haunt him. He’s drawn to the beautiful widow trying to seduce him, only the darkness in his soul forces him to reject her. Is it possible that Melody’s touch can heal the demons of his past? And how can he convince a woman who has lost so much to risk her heart?

My Thoughts: Hmmmmm.  I’ve read some really good Westerns so far this year so far, Outlaw Hearts and Do Not Forsake Me by Roseanne Bittner being the crème de la crème and while Seduced was ok, it didn’t even come close to the Bittner books for me.  I didn’t really warm up to either Cole or Melody that much.  I get that Melody was beaten and warn down by an abusive husband and thinks were much worse in those days, but I just didn’t really get her willingness to go along the her husband’s evil plans.  And if I couldn’t buy into that, the rest of the book fell somewhat flat.  I felt that Cole wasn’t really fully drawn as a character.  This is rather a short story at 167 pages and I felt it could have been much better if the author had made it longer with more rounded characters.  Also she brought in four characters right off the bat, Melody and her sister Annie and Cole and his brother Steven.  I got confused for a while with so many characters all seemingly the lead characters until I managed to sort out who was who and who would be with who.

I bought the second book in the series, Tempted and I do believe there is a third book and I will also read both of them, just to finish off the story but *heavy sigh* alas, this author is just one I can’t get completely on board with.  As I said, it wasn’t bad, but the ‘could have been’ knocked it down some in grades for me.

Would I read it again:  Probably not

Grade: 3 out of 5

Well - that's it for now.  I think 3 is a nice number

'til later

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

And I'm back - again!


I’m home.  A lovely time was had by all though there was a bit of drama.  Of course with nine women that’s hard to avoid.  But I wasn’t involved being the easy going kind of gal I am and I myself had a wonderful time.  It rained quite hard one morning so we watched The Longest Ride with hello – Scott Eastwood and they were all suitably impressed and want bull riding cowboys of their own.  I didn’t get nearly as much reading done as I’d planned, I only managed to read 2 books but since I had a good time, I was fine with that.


The weather was mostly good.  Even the mornings it rained, it cleared up by the afternoon.  The only downside for most of us was the bugs.  We all became great meals for the mosquitos and black flies.  It was so bad we couldn’t sit out and have a campfire
 
 
in the evenings.  Not even clothes kept those blood
suckers off us!
 

 

I did manage to hire myself someone though while there.  One of the Pelee islanders (as we call ourselves) has a son, 15 ½ and he’s looking to earn some extra money.  As I just had new siding put on the outside of the house, I need some cleaning up to do so it will work out perfectly.  If all goes right, I can add some before and after pics here.  Fingers crossed

I do have a bunch of reviews to do, but alas, work is keeping me from doing them and since my home computer still doesn’t work, I see staying after regular working hours in my future.
 

Before


After
 

 Before


 
 
After

 Before



After

Isn't it ever so much better?  I LOVE the colour of blue.  So now I have the rest of the yard to fix up and now I have someone to help.  WIN/WIN!

Well, time for me to scaddadle.  I'll be back soon.

'til later

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Adios

No, no not for good, only for a little while.  I'll be back next Friday, but me and my Pelee Island Gurlz are headed to this island, Pelee Island in Lake Erie for some chillin' time.

We started out the first year with 3 of us, last year there were five and as the stories of good times, LOTS of fancy drinks and hilarity had by all, this year we are up to 9 and TWO cottages.

But i'll be off the grid so to speak and no Internet connection.  I'm REALLY going to miss that and I will miss Monday night tweeting during So You Think You Can Dance.  But on the other handi did go out and get a copy of The Longest Ride with - hello - Scott Eastwood so I'm readying for one rainy evening.  I'm also bringing The Lucky One with a scrumptious Zac Effron and quite possibly The Notebook with Ryan Goseling.  Can anyone see the theme here?  Yes, though I don't read the books, I'm sure not adverse to seeing the movies made from Nicholas Sparks books.

And in an update to the Saga of The CellPhone, I was telling my coworker, we shall call her Sally, that I couldn't get the cell phone she gave me to work.  It was an old one of her sons and sad he had more than one of the same type so she would take the one she gave me home with and get her son who knows ever so much more about the damn things to take a look at it.  This was yesterday.

Well she brought in in today and said that it worked.  It seems the reason I couldn't get it to come on was I wasn't holding the on button down long enough.

*sigh*

But of course things don't run that smoothly.  She said there wasn't a sim card.  So the two of us opened my original phone, took out the sim card and put it in the phone that works when I hold the button down.

But even though we both watched as "Sally" put the card into the working phone, a little message came up saying no sim card.

*sigh*

I don't really know what the sim card is, but hear me phone when I say, THERE IS TOO A SIM CARD INSIDE YOU STUPID DAMN PHONE!

So the Saga of  The Cell Phone will have another chapter.

Well, time to hit the hay, crank out the old ZZZZssss.  One of the Gurlz is picking me up at 6:45 and I'm *cough* not quite finished packing.  Mostly, but not all.

So I'll say

'til later

Friday, August 07, 2015

Random Ramblings




I’ve been suffering from the probably well-known ailment amongst romance readers which I’ve decided to call Restless Reader Syndrome.  It’s related to the much dreaded Slump, but it’s not exactly a slump in that the urge to read is gone, but instead, the reader afflicted can’t settle on a book.  We jump around from book to book, knowing that it’s not the book’s fault; it’s just not grabbing our attention.  I’ve started and went ‘meh’ to quite a number of books.  I’ve gone up and done my books on all 3 platforms; Kindle, Kobo and IBook’s and none of them are calling my name loud enough for me to hear them. One did, Blue Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas and I answered its call and reread the Most Incredible Book, but then I got restless again.  I started about 3 or 4 different books but none of them were the ‘right’ book.

Now this syndrome is very close to the “It’s not you, it’s me” syndrome when we know a book is pretty good, but it just doesn’t hit the spot for us.

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I posted a review online at Amazon for a book I found absolutely dreadful and I only gave it 1 star the other day.  Much to my surprise someone responded not very happy at all with my review of the book.  Right away it put my back up and my reply was pretty much ‘I stand by my review, for me the book was awful and NO book will be loved by everyone.’  I explained in my review why I didn’t like and the issues I had with it.  It wasn’t simply a “this book is crap and don’t read it” though I may have implied that; I really had a bad reaction to the book.

But the point is, I would never argue with someone on a review they posted.  I have, when I’m feeling bitchy, sent a response something like ‘you are being unfair to the author when you give a book 1 star because it wasn’t in the best of shape when you got it’ or another time I sent a response to one of those “Christian” reviewers who absolutely trashed a book by an author I really like who now writes mostly inspirational books.  Said book though wasn’t an inspirational  and I explained to the reviewer that said book was written before she made the transition and should be judged accordingly.  As the rabid complaint and low grade wasn’t because the book was poorly written but rather that it had *gasp of horror* S.E.X. in it, I said she was being unfair.  And *wince* because I was in a particularly bitchy mood I may have accused her of sounding very judgmental and sanctimonious, traits that should NOT be held by Christians.  And yes another thing I do when bitchy is to go down a list of ridiculously high 5 star reviews and if they only write one or two sentences about HOW WONDERFUL THIS BOOK IS, HOW THE AUTHOR MUST HURRY AND WRITE MORE or THIS BOOK MADE ME LAUGH AND CRY – you get the picture, I will mark the review as Not Helpful.  If they give the book a glowing review with reason, as in at least a paragraph, then I won’t do that as even I may not agree, they have made an effort.

Which is why I was puzzled by the ‘message’ I got.  I obviously made an effort to explain why I wrote what I wrote.  Plus said writer called me Randy and while I post Amazon reviews under my initials and maiden name, neither is Randy.  I’ve no idea where they came up with that name.

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And along similar vein, authors, if you have rabid fans, encourage then NOT to engage with other readers who don’t hold the same appreciation.  Sadly if that happens, often the author will be painted with the same brush and it may affect how the average reader views you.  I know it’s unfair, but don’t let your fans or even yourself, interact with readers who don’t hold the same level of appreciation.  Again, not every reader is going to love every book.  Hard as it is for me to believe that not everyone loves say Dreaming of You  by Lisa Kleypas as much as I do, I’m not going to argue with them and tell them why they should and say they are wrong.  It just is what it is.
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And following up with Amazon and its reviewers/ readers, I was on my break and decided to read an outline on the book I settled on and am now reading.  There was a good review with a few comments.  The first commenter was rather snotty and said they didn’t appreciate spoilers in the review and weren’t happy that the person who wrote the review let it slip that the hero and heroine fell in love.

Say what???  It’s a ROMANCE.  By what stretch of the imagination is it a spoiler to say in a ROMANCE book that the HERO AND HEROINE FALL IN LOVE?

I’m afraid I have little patience with stupid statements, complaints and questions.  Now that I’m getting older I’m trying to decide whether to be a real crotchety old lady or continue on with being nice.  I’ve been nice my whole life so the thoughts of letting loose my crotch (and I don’t mean that in a salacious way) is very tempting.  I expect I will be crotchety a few times and then do over the top apologies to everyone I meet for being mean.

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I’ve been getting a bit more involved in checking out GoodReads.  I signed up for the challenge and I can gleefully say I’ve completed it and I’m 18% over.  Since I have a whack of books I haven’t even added yet, I’m really going to be doing well this year.

I must say though that many of the readers there are, well, the word exuberant comes to mind.  A Very Dear Friend picked up an ARC of Cold Hearted Rake and I’m reading it now (and loving it but more to say when I finish reading it).  I went to mark it as ‘currently reading’ and my goodness there are some enthusiastic readers there.  First off all there gif’s gave me a headache.  I know I’ve mentioned how much I hate them before – so please, if you care about my head, tone it down by about 95%.

And so much of the comments are ALL IN CAPTIAL LETTERS.  ANOTHER THING THEY NEED TO STOP.  PLEASE!!!!  Goodness knows I can be a queen of drama – but many of those commenters take it to the extreme.  Again I wish they would tone it down.

They also have a tendency to be overly dramatic, at least to my way of thinking.  Again, I can be the drama queen with the best of them – the people I work with know this, but I try and keep it at a reasonable and mostly unannoyable level, but many of the posters there are exhausting.

 Anyway, it’s Friday, it’s time for me to head home for the day so I’ll say for now….

 ‘til later


Monday, August 03, 2015

More Recent Reads

I am so woefully behind on these :-(

Face the Fire by Nora Roberts

Why this one: I listened to it in the car while driving to and from my recent visit to sister/RWA

Steam Level: Warm

Genre: Contemporary with a bit of Paranormal thrown in

Outline: Mia Devlin knows what it’s like to love with your whole heart—and then watch your love walk away. Years ago, she and Sam Logan shared an incredible bond built on passion, legend, and fate. But then one day he fled Three Sisters Island, leaving her lost in memories of the magic they shared—and determined to live on her own…

As the new owner of the island’s only hotel, Sam has returned to Three Sisters with hopes of winning back Mia’s affections. He is puzzled when she greets him with icy indifference—for the chemistry between them is still sizzling and true. Angry, hurt, and deeply confused, Mia refuses to admit that a desire for Sam still burns in her heart. But she’ll need his help—and his powers—to face her greatest, most terrifying challenge. And as the deadline for breaking a centuries-old curse draws near, they must take the first step toward destiny—and come together to turn back the dark…

My Thoughts: This audio book did not work for me on so many levels.  I didn’t like the heroine, I didn’t like the hero.  I didn’t care for the supporting characters.  I thought parts of it were downright stupid and it emphasizes all the reasons I do not read Ms. Roberts trilogies any longer.

That’s it in a nutshell though I suppose I should give a bit more detail, otherwise it will sound like one of those ‘crap’ reviews that can be found on Amazon.

I have to start out by saying I’ve loved Nora Roberts for a long time.  I still love her as JD Robb and I still enjoy her single title books though I don’t read that many due to price.  I did very recently purchase Whiskey Beach and Honest Illusions as ebooks when they were for a good prices.  But I gave up her trilogies a long time ago as the characters seen all interchangeable after having read a number in my earlier romance reading days.  I’m going to come down on the author and it hurts to do so as I have a tremendous amount of respect for her talent but in the trilogies she has 3 basic types, mostly heroines but I have read a series where the heroes fell into this pattern too.

There is what I call, “earth mother (father)” type.  All she (he) really wants is to be a good wife (dad) and possible mother (father).  She’s (he’s)tried to womanly (beta manly) things like cooking, cleaning, raising plants, that kind of thing.  She’s often been abused by a previous boyfriend/husband the hero for this type ‘rescues’ her.

The second type of heroine (hero) is the ‘tough’ type.  She(he) has a tough exterior hiding a heart of gold of course.  She often holds a traditionally more masculine type job, cop, firefighter, works on a boat, that kind of thing.  Eve Dallas for example is this type.

The third type is what I think of as ‘high maintenance’.  Usually this heroine (hero) is very stylish, sure of herself and her place in the world.  High maintenance probably isn’t a fair label, but she is the most confident of the three and has a successful career.

In Face the Fire, Mia is the third type and my least favourite.  I can’t really relate to this type of heroine and in all the trilogies this is my least favourite type.  I didn’t care for Mia; she comes across to me as rather cold even though her ‘element’ is fire.  Yes, she had her heart crushed by Sam when she was very young.  And her parents did pretty much abandon her.  And to keep the hurt at bay she gained a very strong mask, but I still didn’t like her.  And Sam was an awful hero.  He selfishly left her when they were young, breaking her and didn’t even give much of a reason for it.  He doesn’t have anything to do with her for ten years and though he realizes he may have a bit of work ahead of him in getting her back, he figures it’s pretty much a done deal.  Ass hat.

The woo woo part of it didn’t work for me at all either.  Both Sam and Mia are witches though I always thought a male witch was called a warlock.  They are often sending out spells and maybe because I listened instead of reading where I could just skip them they were, well, stupid.  Every time either one went off into spell working land I rolled my eyes, even though I was driving in a car.

I have very little experience with audio books but the reader’s voice didn’t impress me at all.  When she was speaking in the characters voices it was almost like nails on a chalkboard for me.  I winced and hunched my shoulders.

The plot was simplistic – some Evil Force on Sisters Island wants to drive Mia out and take over the island.  This is the third book and The Force tried with Nell, the ‘earth mother, abused wife’ heroine in the first book and failed and then again with Ripley, the ‘tough’ heroine in the second book and now finally with Mia in this one. 

But after finally forgiving Sam and embracing love, Mia triumphs over evil along with the help of her two ‘sisters’ and Sam.  At the risk of being a negative Nellie – gag me.  I don’t give this low of grades often but with so many things working against it for me this gets a very low grade.

Will I listen to it again: Not a chance

Grade: 1 out of 5
 
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Love in the Afternoon by Alison Packard
Why this one: the whole series was on for a Very Good Price as a Kindle Daily Deal
Genre: Contemporary
Steam Level: Pretty darn good.  Not boiling but hot enough for me
Outline: Kayla Maxwell is eager to shed her slasher-flick bimbo image—and she plans to do just that in her new role on daytime’s most popular soap. With a chance to showcase her dramatic range, Kayla will be able to wash away the lingering betrayal and public humiliation left by her controlling, philandering ex-boyfriend.
Sean Barrett, the son of an influential, award-winning actor, is the hottest soap star in the country. Paired on-screen with the talented and beautiful Kayla Maxwell, Sean is determined to keep her at arm’s length, burned before by fame-seeking actresses who had no qualms about using him to get to his famous father.
But when Kayla receives threatening letters, her past as a scream queen seems to be coming back to haunt her. Succumbing to an attraction neither one of them can deny, Sean and Kayla must face down her stalker and their own personal demons before trusting what they both feel—a love that lasts long after the cameras stop rolling.
 My Thoughts: Sometimes, without realizing it I do something really brilliant.  When I saw that this series of books was on for 99 cents each, I took a gamble and bought them all.  I hadn’t read this author before and didn’t hear any buzz on her.  But at 99 cents even if I hated them, it was still less expensive for all of them then it would be for a regular paperback and much to my delight, I really enjoyed it.  Both Kayla and Sean are good, interesting, down to earth people even though they both work in the entertainment industry and are both “beautiful” people.  They meet since they are on the same soap opera.  They hadn’t really got to know each other as Kayla hadn’t been on long and her character never had any scenes with Sean’s character.  But that changed when the writers of the soap decided to make them a couple and Kayla and Sean decided that besides the physical attraction they really respected each other and thought the other was great at their craft.
There isn’t anything earth shattering or deep about this book.  There was a slight mystery as to who was sending letters to Kayla that were freaking her out but even the letters weren’t threatening.  But I liked the story very much.  I liked Kayla and Sean and I liked Kayla’s sister and Sean’s friend who are the stars of the second book of the series.
Would I read it again: very possible
Grade: 4 out of 5
 

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The Winning Season by Alison Packard

Why this one: It was a good price and I really liked the first book in the series

Steam Level: very nice and warm

Genre: Contemporary

·       Outline: Kelly Maxwell has finally landed her dream job as publicist for the San Francisco Blaze. But the team’s newest member, handsome bad boy catcher Matt Scanlon, is refusing every interview. She’s got to get him to open up before the season ends, or she may not be back next year. And after everything she overcame to achieve her dream, Kelly’s not about to let that happen.

Matt Scanlon just wants to be left alone to rebuild his life and his career. After a year of masking the pain of a recent loss with hard partying and fast women, he finally hit rock bottom and was traded to a team he’s loathed his entire life—a team with little to no chance at the post-season.

Butting heads is getting Kelly and Matt nowhere but annoyed, and with the team’s schedule on the road, they can’t avoid close quarters—or their surprising attraction to one another. As the season winds down, Matt finds his growing feelings for Kelly have brought his numbed emotions back to life. But when betrayal shatters their fragile trust, winning it all seems more impossible than ever.

My Thoughts: I quite enjoyed the first book and since I’m a baseball fan – though not as fanatic about them as Wendy, who turns the DetroitTiger players into Harlequin Heroes – in a hilarious series of posts – I was still excited to read this one.  Both Matt and Kelly appeared in the first book.  Kelly is the sister of Kayla from the last book.  Where Kayla is feminine and beautiful, Kelly has always struggled with her self-image.  As one who is the same, I found her very relatable.  She’s quite athletic and she has a job working for a pro baseball team in PR.  So she’s very likeable has her issues.

Matt on the other hand has issues that we don’t know about and isn’t very likeable in either the last book or the first part of  this book.  But over the course of the story he is redeemed.  He realizes what a jerk he is has been, especially in regards to Kelly with whom he had a run in with in the first book, Love in the Afternoon.

He has some sad issues of his own which he was trying to deal with in a rather self-destructive way.  The more the book went on, the more I enjoyed it and I enjoyed it right from the beginning.  And once again I was glad I bought the entire series.

Would I read it again:  I just might!

Grade: 4 out of 5

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Drive Me Wild by Julie Ortolon
Why This One: I read it when it was first published in 2000 – wow – so many years ago – and when I saw it was on for a good price on Amazon, I picked up the ebook.
 
Steam Level: warm
Genre: Contemporary friends to lovers
Synopsis: Owner of the face that launched a thousand newscasts, drop-dead-gorgeous TV anchor Brent Michaels returns to his Texas hometown for a good cause: playing the bachelor in a dating game fund-raiser. He couldn’t refuse the request of his old friend Laura Beth Morgan. But Laura’s no longer the shy wallflower that he remembers. When he gets a good look at the girl he loved and lost, Brent realizes he can’t refuse her anything.

Laura yearns to break free, just as Brent did. He has come so far from the boy who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, the childhood friend who kissed her once and ran away. But even as he warns her that he’s incapable of love, Brent isn’t running now. After all these years, Laura has blossomed into a beautiful woman—and an irresistible challenge for a man who’s used to getting everything he desires.

My Thoughts: It’s been a long time since I first read this book and I liked it better back in 2000 than I did in 2015.  There wasn’t anything wrong with it exactly, but it’s not a book I’m going to ponder over.  The main characters Brent and Laura are nice but not memorable.  Brent grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and couldn’t wait to get out of the small town where everyone but Laura looked down on him.  But now he’s made a name for himself as a very successful, handsome news anchor.  Because he’s a success, his hometown wants him to come back for a dating game style fund raiser.  He’s all ‘hell no’ as he has no fond memories of the town, but his dearest friend from his young days, Laura asks him as a favour and he can’t refuse her.  He does have a condition though and that’s if she is one of the contestants.

Laura has always had ‘feelings’ for Brent but their lives couldn’t be more different.  She’s almost tied to her home town even if it is somewhat reluctantly and Brent can’t stay.  But feelings flair between them on his brief visit home and he convinces her to take a gamble and travel with him to his home.  She does, moves in with a friend and they begin to make a life together when Brent’s insecurities get in the way and things fall apart between them.

This is a good beach read, two nice people falling in love and overcoming their issues.  And while I did like it better the first time around, I did like it this time too.

Would I read it again: Odds are no.  While I enjoyed rereading it again, I have so many new books and so many older book reread I’ve enjoyed more

Grade: 3.5 out of 5
 
'til later

 

 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Recent Read

Why This One: It was on for a good price and it looked interesting and I love a blue collar hero
 
Genre: Contemporary
 
Level of Steam: If this were a real cup of tea (tea just goes with reading better than coffee) it would be the perfect temperature. 
 
Outline: Some things are sexier the second time around.

Cal Payton has gruff and grumbly down to an art...all the better for keeping people away. And it usually works. Until Jenna MacMillan--his biggest mistake--walks into Payton and Sons mechanic shop all grown up, looking like sunshine, and inspiring more than a few dirty thoughts.

Jenna was sure she was long over the boy she'd once loved with reckless abandon, but one look at the steel-eyed Cal Payton has her falling apart all over again. Ten years may have passed, but the pull is stronger than ever... and this Cal is all man.

Cal may have no intention of letting Jenna in, but she's always been his light, and it's getting harder to stay all alone in the dark. When a surprise from the past changes everything, Cal and Jenna must decide if their connection should be left alone or if it's exactly what they need for the future of their dreams
 
My Thoughts: What a treat this book turned out to be.  I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one.  I’d barely heard about it, I didn’t see much buzz, but whatever I was expecting, this book more than made up for any expectations.  I enjoyed it so much that when I saw the author at a signing at RWA I simply had to go over and tell her how much I enjoyed this book.  I don’t normally do that as I don’t do well at signings in general, but I am that pleased with this book.
Cal and Jenna were high school sweetheart and had a deep connection but Jenna wanted more out of life than what small town life offered and took off for the bright lights of the big city.  But as the outlines says, she’s come back and the sparks are still there and she wants another chance with Cal.  But he’s ten years older now and has come to the conclusion that a wife and family aren’t for him any longer.  His mother left him and his two younger brother years previously and Cal did most of the raising of them.  His relationship with his father is most contentious.  They work together at the family garage and Cal’s dad stifles any kind of expansion or changes that Cal wants.  With such a poor example of family himself, Cal doesn’t want to risk it.  And then when another person is added to his responsibilities, he really doesn’t want to get involved again with Jenna again.
I loved, loved, loved Cal.  He’s exactly the kind of hero I read romance for.  He’s a good guy who while on the outside seems to not want the obligations in his life, on the inside he dearly loved his family.  The sparks flew between he and Jenna and while he was pretty broken up when she left, he doesn’t hold onto bitterness, he understands why she did what she did even though it hurt very badly.  And the reader just knows he would make a great husband and father.  He’s a car mechanic and not afraid to get his hands dirty.  Oh I just love him.  Even doing this review makes me want to read the book again.
Time got away from me between reading this book and then this review so it’s a few weeks apart and Jenna isn’t quite as vivid a character as Cal, but I really did like her too.  She knows what she wants, she wants Cal back and she sets about getting him back, not in a sneaky underhanded way but in a “I was young and didn’t really know and appreciate what I had back then and now want a second chance’ kind of way.
And I just got back from a break at work and opened Dirty Thoughts and noticed that Ms. Erikson has another book she wrote where the hero of that one was Cal’s brother, Make it Right.  You can guess what I did right after that!  So now I have a plan.  I’ll read Make it Right and then reread this book.  I also noticed she had quite a nice back list which I will be diving into.  Consider me a happy reader, I love finding new to me authors
 
Grade: 4.5 out of 5
Would I read it again: You betcha, I already have plans to.
Grade: 4.75 out of 5
 
'til later
 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Afterthoughts on RWA


Jessica wrote a Most Excellent Post on the economics of attending RWA.  There is no question it’s quite costly and I do wonder why I am willing to pay that much money when I’m not an author and at this point in time don’t have any plans to be one.  I do write though, I love to write.  That’s why I started blogging so many years ago.  I didn’t and still don’t have the talent, time or ambition to write a novel.  That’s one reason why I admire so many authors even if their works may not work for me.  They are driven to write and I appreciate that.

So again, why am I willing to spend so much money?  I spent years when my kids were small doing vacations I hated.  Camping.  After spending all those years doing what I didn’t like, I want to do what I do like, no, not like but love.  To be surrounded by romance people is like nirvana for me.  I have found going a very empowering experience.  While I once hid my passion for romance from everyone, now I’m proud romance reader and have no problems telling people where I go for that week in July.  I couldn’t have done that before.  But listening to speakers, talking to fellow romance fans and meeting authors has made me proud to be part of the community.  And a community it is.  My time at RWA proves that.  Not once in all the conferences I’ve gone to have I felt out of place.  It took a while to figure out what to say when someone I’d never met asked me what I wrote.  Then the answer came to me – I don’t write romance, I write about romance.  I AM what authors write for.  I completely realize that for many of them RWA is also a time for business and I think that’s part of the appeal.  There is a professionalism underlying the conference.  I’ve been to RT and it’s a different vibe.  For me, I like the RWA vibe better.

I am thrilled beyond belief when an author recognizes me.  I didn’t get to spend as much time with authors as previous years, but the interaction, brief as it was, was like a balm to my soul.  I didn’t talk to her, but Nalini Singh waved at me when I was checking in.  Julie James came to our table for a short while one night.  Tessa Dare was thrilled to see me when I went to her line at a signing.  Really, it’s the other way around.  And Lisa Kleypas is a very special person to me.  When I saw her, well, that moment alone made me glad I had spent the money and gone.

Reconnecting with friends again is so very, very special.  Wendy, my roomie, Rosie, LB Gregg, those are the people I hang out with the most and even though it’s a year that passes between spending time with them, it feels like only a few months.  Every time there is that instant connection.  Nath and Ames were there.  It’s been a couple of years since I’ve spent time with them, but within moments it was like that time wasn’t years, but only months.  Instant connection again.  I know I’ll forget if I start naming names, but I enjoyed each and every conversation I entered more than I do many normal conversations with my RL people.  For me that’s priceless.

At the beginning, I’m being honest, part of the appeal was all the books.  I would pick up so many books it would seem to offset much of the price I was paying but as I said earlier, I cut way back on the number of books I picked up this year.

I kind of think of it as a fantasy camp in some ways.  I get to interact with the stars and bright lights of a profession I get so much enjoyment from.  I’m not sure how much a fantasy camp costs but I imagine quite a bit.

And while I’m not an author and find the conference a way to renew my desire to write a book, I do find it my desire to renew my desire to blog is intensified.  I had so many great ideas for blog topics while I was there.

Despite all the good and wonderful things about attending the RWA conferences, there are a few things that, while I certainly won’t say bad, are a bit discombobulating for me.  I live by myself, me and my two cats Finn and Munch (who were less than excited when I was watching Law and Order and pointed out Finn and Much the police detectives to whom they were named after).  Being surrounded by so many people while WONDERFUL, is still a bit unsettling after a while for someone used to living with only 2 cats.  In order to remain sane, I have to take more down time than I would like.  I would like to be go, go, going all the time as the hours in a day when I can connect with others is limited, so even as I unwind I resent the fact that I have to.  But if I don’t, I’d be like a robot who goes into overload and just shuts down completely.  Claustrophobia is connected with this somewhat and it’s getting a bit worse each year.

In addition, I wasn’t in the physical shape I should have been.  One of the side effects that takes a loooong time and is one of the hardest to overcome for me when I’m in a depression is weight gain.  I’d lost over 50 lbs and sadly put it all back in my lost year last year.  But I’m going to go into training and plan to be much shapelier – in more ways than one – for the next conference I go to.  Again that limitation was very frustrating.  My back, my feet and other parts of me were breaking down by the end.

But despite these couple of issues, for me, attending RWA is worth every penny.  I’m fortunate as I have a nice disposable income, I make pretty good money, my house is all paid off and my husband left a very nice pension.  Plus I live rather frugally most of the year.  So for me to attend RWA is a time of empowerment, a time to connect again with people dear to me, to express appreciation to authors for the time they have entertained me and made me happy, to drink and talk books, to not have to go to my job every day, to mingle and absorb atmosphere and to truly appreciate the wonderful community I am a part of.
 
'til later