Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm still alive

Ah the joy of taking care of a five year old recovering from a tonsillectomy. Between her recovery and me actually having to work when I go to work, I am waaaay behind on my reviews.

I have been reading, though, and have several reviews in the works. So bear with me, if you can. *g*

Monday, July 23, 2007

Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard

Book description:

A mysterious plane crash . . . a dangerous trek through the Idaho wilderness . . . a smoldering attraction . . . and a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Bailey Wingate’s scheming adult stepchildren are surprised when their father’s will leaves Bailey in control of their fortune, and war ensues.

A year later, while flying from Seattle to Denver in a small plane, Bailey nearly dies herself when the engine sputters–and then fails.

Cam Justice, her sexy Texan pilot, manages to crash-land the aircraft. Stranded in the wilderness, and struggling to douse her feelings for the ruggedly handsome man by her side, Bailey begins to wonder whether this was a mere accident. Who tampered with their plane? Who’s trying to reunite Bailey and her husband in the afterlife? Cut off from the world, and with little hope of rescue, Bailey must trust her life–and heart–to Cam, as they battle the harsh elements to find a way out of the unforgiving wilds and back to civilization . . . where a killer may be waiting to finish the job.

I'm still on the fence about this one. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't what I've come to expect from Linda Howard. Obviously I need to lower my expectations. I just can't help it. Every year for the past five years, I get my hopes up when she releases a new book. Almost every year since then I want to either burn the book while I cry over its' ashes or throw it against the wall. I'm happy to report that this year I did neither. So that's a good sign. I guess.

Bailey Wingate has gotten used to being labeled as a gold-digger. Personal Assistant-turned-wife of millionaire Jim Wingate didn't endear her to very many people. What only a few people do know is that it was Jim's idea to get married. A purely business arranagement, Jim came to Bailey offering her a chance at financial security if she would agree to be the trustee and executor of the money left to his children in a trust. Yeah, btw, his children are adults that are sleazebags. His son, Seth, absolutely hates Bailey. Haaaaates her. See, Bailey is actually younger than him and it really chaps his ass that he has to get his montly allowance from her. Seth's sister and the other child, Tamzin (WTF kind of name is that?) is even worse. Gawd, she was barely even in the book and she grated on my nerves.

So Bailey was all ready to go on vacation with her brother and his wife. She was somewhat chagrined when she got to the airfield and found Captain Cam Justice waiting to take her to Denver. See, Cam doesn't like Bailey and he's never tried to hide that. He's with the majority of people who thinks she's a gold-digging whore that took advantage of a sick old man for money. Not to mention he think she's a cold ass bee-yotch. When he has to lug her three huge suitcases into the plane, it reinforces his beliefs that she is exactly what he thinks she is. Little did he know that those three suitcases would save his judgemental ass.

When the plane goes down, you can virtually feel the terror in the air. Howard does a magnificant job of putting the reader right there with Bailey and Cam. After they "land" in the cold mountains of Idaho (I swear, I did not know this), Bailey drags an unconcious Cam out of the cockpit. She then starts dragging stuff out of her suitcases. Bailey is an overpacker. Which is this case was a definite good thing. Because she was going rafting and camping for vacation, she had things that would make the difference between life and death for her and Cam. The whole time she was trying to ger herself and Cam warm, I could literally feel the cold. People, it is freezing in Idaho. Seriously, I could almost feel the cold and it was making me cold while reading it. Bailey basically saved both their asses while Cam was out cold.

Then, in the way only Howard heroes can, Cam abruptly decides that he's not letting Bailey go. His logic for this is that the time they spent together (4 days x 24 hours) equals roughly 15 dates. Does he keep this information to himself? Of course not. He tells her that he knows exactly what she's doing with the Ice Queen persona. But pushing him away is not going to work. No siree.

When Cam examines the wreckage, he finds that the plane was deliberately tampered with. Both Cam and Bailey are convinced that Seth Wingate is the person behind the crash. Bailey, not willing to take any more chances with her life, decides to hand over her authority of the trust. Cam just wants to kick his ass for almost killing Bailey.

After hiking away from the crash site, they are rescued. That was a little anti-climatic. After all these days of survival in the woods, they light a signal fire and hear a helicopter within minutes. Hmph. Before they do get rescued, Cam insists that Bailey marry him and move in with him. But he's very thoughtful because he'll let her do that in whichever order she wants. Very thoughtful, isn't he?
Overall, this book wasn't bad. It was a good story. The characters were good. It was just good. Not great, but good. Bailey was a kick ass heroine. I liked her from the very beginning. Cam is more like a Howard hero than her past few heroes. I just can't put my finger on exactly what's missing.

Oh and I'm not going to give away the ending. I was too surprised by who did it, but then, I always am.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Publishing: Deciding on release dates

I'm going to deviate from the norm for a minute.

Who makes the decision on when to release a book? Does Random House have a department that specializes in release dates? Does Mira run an employment ad stating: "Wanted: Release Date Specialist. Must be literate. Must have high school diploma or equivalent. No experience necessary."? Obviously there is some sort of reasoning or business purpose behind choosing release dates. Yet to me as a reader, it seems like there is no rhyme or reason.

Nalini Singh released Slave to Sensation in October of '06. Visions of Heat was released in March '07 and Caressed by Ice will be released in September of '07. J.R. Ward is the same; a new release every six months. For an author writing an ongoing series, I think that release dates are key to success.

Take Gennita Low for example. Her first book, Into Danger, was released March of '03. Her second book, Facing Fear, was released Feb of '04. These two books were followed by a trilogy which was released about every six months. There was a year and a half between the third book in the trilogy and her new release, Virtually His. That was in part because she went from Avon to Mira. Virtually His kicked off a new trilogy based on several recurring characters, but the same hero and heroine. This was released in May of '07. At the time of the release, the second book (Virtually Hers), had a release date of August of '07. Shortly after the release of Virtually His, the release date of Virtually Hers changed to December of '07. To her readers this was a disappointment, but it wasn't awful. Those of us that waited a year and a half between books could handle 6 months. Then, a few weeks ago we were told that the release date changed to December of 2008.


Judith McNaught publishes a book every 2-3 years. Julie Garwood seems to publish a book every 1-2 years. I'm sure that their publishers are secure in the fact that their books will sell regardless of the time between releases. What about authors like Gennita Low? She's fucking good. Facing Fear was one of those books that stayed with me for days after reading it. Her SEAL trilogy had the perfect balance of romance and suspense. Her heroes were alphas, but not assholes. Her heroines weren't TSTL. She was chugging along, gathering a rather large fan base. Then there was the year and a half when she changed publishers. She did get her readers prepared for that long before it happened. So we knew. Then this. December of 2008. Are you fucking kidding me?

Even putting readers wants and needs aside, it does not seem like a good business decision. How many people will pass Gennita's next book up because they don't remember the 1st? Or don't remember her? I won't, but I'm a diehard fan. Won't sales be better if you have less time between release dates?

Her Best Friend's Lover by Shiloh Walker

Book description:

Dale loves women, and they love him. His love life is a revolving door. No one special, no one stays, except Lauren, his best friend. She's a sweet beautiful, talented woman. His rock, the steadying influence in his life. So why is he starting to see her differently, where are these lustful thoughts coming from? Guys don't sleep with their best friends.

Lauren has loved Dale for five years, from the moment she saw him. She loves his smile, his walk, his deep, sexy voice. But he isn't in love with her. She's his pal, his confidant. Until one hot, steamy night.

This is probably the most tame Ellora's Cave cover that I've seen. Still doesn't mean I like it, but it's a definite improvement over some covers.

Lauren Spencer luuuuuurves Dale Stoner. A lot. She hasn't done anything about it, nor does she intend to. See, Dale's what you call a man-whore. Lauren is a virgin (of course). Lauren being the smart virgin she is, knows better to get involved with Dale. That all changes on a dark and stormy night. Okay, not really. Dale sees finding someone for Ice Queen Lauren as his mission in life. After Dale set her up w/ someone that almost rapes her, Lauren decides she's had enough. Enough of being in love with her best friend. Enough of wanting something she'll never have. Enough of seeing Dale w/ other women. She's had ENOUGH! Which is kinda rough since they're next door neighbors.

After a few weeks of giving Dale the cold shoulder and being miserable, Lauren decides that she has to accept Dale for who he is. If that means having a man-whore as a best friend, so be it. She would rather have his friendship than nothing at all. Like a good friend, she whips up a nice batch of his favorite cookies and heads over to grovel apologize. What she doesn't know is that Dale just got some really depressing news and is drunk as a skunk. Trying to help him get in bed probably wasn't her wisest decision. Which is why she soon finds herself up against the wall getting screwed silly. At first she's shocked. Then she gets into it. That changes when Dale calls her another woman's name and passes out. Total cliché , right? Somehow it worked. Walker got just the amount of hurt and anger across the page.

What happened next is really going to shock you, so brace yourself. Lauren finds out a few weeks later that she's pregnant. She's overjoyed. Too bad Dale doesn't remember the hot sex against the wall. And she's too scared to tell him. Especially when Dale starts to show interest that he's never shown before. Pretty soon Lauren is in so deep that she has no idea how she'll tell Dale that the baby he's taken such an interest in is actually his.

I really enjoyed this book. Lots of hot sex didn't take away from the love story. And this is a love story. There was no suspense at all. What you have is a woman that was abandoned her whole life by people she loved. First her dad, then her mom. After that it was various foster homes. By the time Dale came along, her emotions were locked down tight. She doesn't do confrontation well, which Dale sees as lack of emotion rather than her protecting herself. Of course you have the various misunderstandings. Then as you would expect, it really hits the fan when Dale finds out about the baby. Especially since it didn't come from Lauren.

There was kind of a lame part where Dale kept dreaming about his "dream" woman who was Lauren, but he doesn't know it's Lauren. When Lauren realizeses that he's dreaming about another woman, she gets pissed not knowing that it's her he's dreaming about even though he doesn't know it's her. Make sense? Yup. Clear as mud.

I just liked the whole book, even the misunderstandings. Try it.

4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

On Target by Catherine Mann

Book description:

On his way to deliver divorce papers to his soon-to-be ex, a terrorist attack put U.S. Air Force Sergeant Shane 'Vegas' O'Riley back into soldier mode. His wife and her two adopted children were in danger. He didn't give a damn if she wanted him out of their lives—they were under his full-time protection now.

Being back with her husband had Sherry in upheaval. She still wanted Shane. Yet she was afraid obligation was the only reason he was sticking close. With a terrorist targeting their lives, Shane was all she had to hold on to. Danger lurked close to home. But it was a marriage that had to survive the ultimate battle.

This is the 3rd book in Mann's Special Forces series. It's not as good as the first two books.

Shane O'Riley is hawtness. He's also a true patriot. A major league baseball player, Shane was making the big bucks when 9/11 happened. He immediately quit and joined the Air Force. When he met Sherry during leave, they were married within two months. They fell in lurve. To Shane, the fact that Sherry had two young daughters was just a bonus. Instant family. Too bad that he expected her to just be content waiting stateside for him while he was on assignment. Yeah, she didn't like that.

Sherry grew up being taken from country to country by her humanitarian parents. When they did return to the US of A, she never fit in. Culture in the poverty ridden countries she was raised in was far from the culture in the States. So what does she do when she's a parent? She takes her two adopted daughters from country to country where she helps villages and teaches children. Oh, but she makes sure her girls know who Dora the Explorer are and what a DVD player is. So that makes it okay.

Shane is on his way to meet Sherry w/ the divorce papers when his team is ordered to intercept a terrorist boat. They all almost die, but make it to the base. I still haven't figured out how Shane arranged to have his whole crew go to the same island that Sherry was on. I must have missed that part.

Of course Shane and Sherry are fighting this burning lust they have for each other. They're both trying to be adults and not jump right into the sack. They know it wouldn't be good for their girls to give them false hope. Smart parenting right there. Too bad they didn't stick to the plan.

After two kidnap attempts on their oldest daughter and their youngest daughter getting sick with an illness that is unexplained, Sherry is on edge. Nothing like a little hot sex to take the edge off. Of course that makes things much harder on both of them b/c they start questioning their marriage again and if they can make it work and all that crap. The thing is, they've gone through two trial separations (which how hard is that when they're never together?) and been in a marriage counseling. So they both think that they've reached the end of their marriage rope.

So to wrap it up, the terrorists that were operating on the island were working on a chemical weapon. Shane and Sherry's daughters (Cara and Mally) went exploring and were exposed to the chemical. Mally got sick when they got back, but Cara didn't. In fact, according to the terrorists (and you can always trust them), Cara should have died. So they want her b/c they can figure out an antidote to give their own men.

Problems: Sherry. What a whiny little bitch. Seriously. This book was intended to show what military marriages go through. I'm not a military wife, but I'm a military sister. If you marry a man that is already enlisted you have to expect that they're going to be gone. I mean, come ON. Instead of remaining in the country and waiting for Shane to come home, Sherry takes the girls and jets off to God knows where following in the vicious cycle that she was in as a child. It was annoying. On top of that, she continually admitted to herself that Shane wasn't the only one at fault with the failure of their marriage. But does she admit that to Shane? No. It was childish and stupid.

Shane was really hot, though. So he made up for some of it. So did the secondary characters. The 1st too books are really good and I highly recommend them (if you can find them).

3 out of 5 stars.

Simon Says by Lori Foster

Book description:

Sexy ex-fighter Simon Evans has the perfect life—until he catches his girlfriend cheating. To work off his rage, he goes back into the ring full-force. But a gutsy and gorgeous P.I. is about to send him reeling with a secret about his family—and one about her heart.

I've had this edit window open since 10:40am yesterday morning. These morons actually expect me to work or something. WTF?

I love Lori Foster's books. She is light without being fluffy. She is intense without being dark. Her books make for a good combination of fun and passion.

Simon Evans was vaguely introduced in Causing Havoc. He is a trainer for fighters that are in the UFC. Foster called it the SBC, but every time I read that I thought about the SBC Ballpark in San Francisco. Or SBC which was formerly AT&T in Northern CA. So UFC it is in this review.

Being the nice guy he is, Simon decides to surprise his live-in girlfriend of five years with a new mattress. Yes, folks, a mattress. When a book opens up like this, you just know that the shit is going to hit the fan. I mean, what kind of guy would want to "surprise" his girlfriend with a mattress? Yeah, that's what I thought. You'll be shocked to find out that Simon finds pictures of his girlfriend doing some other guy. He doesn't know who the guy is, but he definitely recognizes his gf. So he enlists the help of his friends to get all his shit out. He's surprised that he's not more upset. Five years is five years, after all. It's more of a prick to his pride. To salvage said pride, he decides that he's going to go back to fighting in the UFC rather than training.

Dakota Dream is not a porn star. So get that out of your head right now. I'm not sure exactly what she does for a living, but in her spare time she helps find missing people. When she was 17, Dakota ran away from home to marry Marvin Dream. Obviously she didn't know that at 17, mothers are always right and Dakota's mom didn't like Marvin at all. They parted on very bad terms. Marvin ended up being abusive, but Dakota stuck around b/c she didn't want to go crawling back to her mom. A few days after Marvin almost killed her, Dakota sucked it up and went home...only to find out her mom had an accident and was in a coma. Her stepfather, Barnaby Jailer (we'll get to that name in a moment) kindly let her stay even though they never had the best of relationships.

Okay, seriously people. Barnaby Jailer? Dakota Dream? These names seem to be a cross between a Disney character and a porn star. Every time I read the name Barnaby Jailer, I vomited a little in my mouth.

So BJ tells Dakota that she owes him for letting her come back home. Not only that, but the asshole has three letters that Dakota's mom wrote her before she went into the coma. Dakota wants those letters. Bad. She only has to do one thing. Find BJ's son and bring him home. You've already guessed who is son is, I'm assuming? Simon Evans.

Dakota finds Simon and befriends him. Simon is fascinated by Dakota b/c she knows a lot about the UFC, but she's not a groupie. He wants her. Bad. Then he finds out why she wants him. The problem here is that Simon has never been interested in finding the man that deserted him and his mom. His stepfather is his father in every way that is important. So he tells Dakota to get lost. Oh but he doesn't know how determined Dakota is to get those three letters.

Eventually Dakota gives up on getting the letters. She decides that she wants nothing more to do w/ 'ol BJ. She just wants Simon. It's too bad that nothing is ever easy for Dakota. See, Simon's ex wants him back and she'll play dirty to get him. Not only that, but someone is trying to hurt Dakota and she's sure it's her ex-husband. She's right and Marvin is one messed up f'er. Dakota is the only woman who ever stood up to him and he wants her back. Very dysfunctional.

When Simon and Dakota eventually get their HEA, you will really feel that they deserve it. Oh, just make sure you read Causing Havoc first. There are recurring characters that you'll appreciate much more if you read them in order.

4 out of 5 stars

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tempting by Susan Mallery

From the back cover:

After three romantic flame-outs in a year and a restaurant career going nowhere, Dani Buchanan needs a fresh start. She goes looking for her biological father, but never expects to find a senator running for president.

As his long-lost 'love child,' Dani could seriously derail the election— something his handsome campaign manager Alex Canfield isn't going to let happen. Dani isn't about to let Alex run her life, no matter how tempting she finds him—and Alex isn't going to allow Dani to melt his cynicism, no matter how close he has to get.

The last thing either of them wants is love, especially with scandals brewing and family trouble on the way. But Dani and Alex are forced to trust each other, and when trust turns to passion, the potential for disaster is only a tabloid scandal away.

Tempting is the final installment in the Buchanan series. Over the course of three books we have watched Dani get fucked over by people that she called family. First, her fantabulous husband, Hugh. A real winner, that one. After getting injured while playing football, Hugh was paralyzed from the waist down. Dani was dating him at the time and she still married him. Gotta give the girl props. I have to admit, I wouldn't have stuck around. What can I say? I'm shallow. Just admit it, you wouldn't have either. So even after all the moral, emotional, and financial support she gave him, he fucks her over. She even read up on how to make their sex life good. How does he show his appreciation? By screwing his T.A. Stand up guy, that one.

So that's a hard knock. But it doesn't stop there for Dani. She jumps back into the dating pool with a super hot guy, who seems great. She falls far him, sleeps with him, starts to lurve him. Then she meets his wife and toddler. Niiiiice. Oh wait, there's more. In the 3rd book, she starts seeing this guy she meets at a coffee shop. While she doesn't feel sparks, she does like the guy. She decides to give him a chance and finds out on their first date that he's a former priest. Ha. Dani runs. She then decides to give up men. Good girl. I sure would have.

Don't forget that in the 1st or 2nd book, Dani found out that she's not really a Buchanan. Seems her mom had an affair and she was the result. After years and years of trying to get her grandmother's approval, Dani receives the ultimate blow when Gloria gleefully tells her that she's not a Buchanan. At the beginning of Tempting, Dani has decided that she wants to find her real father. Though she still has her brothers, she feels that she needs somewhere to belong.

Unfortunately not only is her father a United States Senator, he's also a Presidential candidate. Ummm-hmmm. Alex Canfield is not only his advisor, he's also his adopted son. Obviously Alex thinks that Dani is in it for money or fame or something along those lines. He just figures that the timing is just too convenient, regardless of what Dani says.

Alex and Dani have a major love/hate relationship going on. Dani has seriously sworn off men. She wants nothing to do with them. Alex is very attracted to her, but he can already see the headlines if he does decide to get involved with her. Not to mention that he doesn't want to hurt his mother, the woman who saved him when he was 8 years old.

Talk about a saint. Alex's mother, Katherine Canfield is amazing. I loved her character in this book. She adopted eight special needs children. Eight. Now I know this is fiction, but I'm sure there are people out there that have done the same. That just made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Understandably, Katherine has a hard time with Dani's appearance in their lives, but as a political figure's wife, she knows what's expected of her.

I think this is one of the best books of the four. The fact that Mark Canfield is not exactly paternal made Dani realize that blood doesn't make family. Seeing Dani and Gloria reconcile really closed the series well. Gloria was a raving bitch to Dani in the previous books. Seeing her make amends with Dani really made the book that much better. Mallery did a really great job closing out the Buchanan series. I think readers will be satisfied with the ending.

4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hidden Agendas by Lora Leigh

From the back cover:


Tough-as-nails Navy SEAL Kell Kreiger is the best there is at searching, rescuing, and taking no prisoners…yet even the rush of ever-more dangerous missions isn’t enough to satisfy him. Haunted by a tortured past, Kell seeks distraction in a secret world of dark intimacies. But when Emily Stanton, the one ray of light in Kell’s shadowy existence, is pursued by a ruthless drug lord, the rules of the game suddenly change—and Kell will have to go deeper undercover than he ever imagined...


Emily has loved Kell ever since her father, a prominent politician, rescued him from a brutal life on the streets. They were kids then, too young to act on what was growing between them…but now that Emily is ready, the handsome, headstrong SEAL has decided he’s no good for her. Ever since he rescued her from Diego Fuentes’ compound, Kell’s only duty has been to keep Emily safe. But Fuentes isn’t finished with Emily—or Kell. And to protect Emily, Kell has no choice but to lay himself—body, soul, and secrets—bare…and fight against evil with all his heart.

Okay, so as I was reading Hidden Agendas, I kept checking to make sure that the author really was Lora Leigh. There were no menages. Not even a reference to one. No BDSM. Only traditional sex. Not that this is a bad thing, but I've gotten so used to this from her that I was a little surprised.

Kell Kreiger is a hard ass mother-f-er. After getting his then-girlfriend pregnant at 17, Kell married her against his family's wishes. As sole heir to a prominant New Orleans family fortune, Kell did not meet expectations by marrying the girl he knocked up. Dude, but that was annoying. When he was cast out, Kell did what he could to support his new family. To save money for the impending arrival of his son, Kell started doing informant work for the NOPD. When he ended up having to testify against a well-known drug lord, he was warned that his wife would die if he testified. So Kell hid her in the swamp at an old family cabin. His mom, who saw him take the keys actually gave the location up. His wife and unborn baby were brutally murdered. So he is tortured. With good reason, too. After that, he left New Orleans and hasn't been back.

Emily Stanton hasn't been the same since she was kidnapped by Diego Fuentes. Nor has her father. A powerful man in his own right, Senator Stanton insists on Emily having bodyguards. He also plays matchmaker, which is a little strange. Sending man after man to his daughter hoping that she'll fall into bed with him seemed a little creepy to me. Emily is onto him, though, and wants nothing to do with it. She ends up running them off eventually. While that is not exactly her plan, she doesn't complain. This part of her character annoyed me. She had no backbone when it came to her father. Which did make sense in a way. The one time she refused a bodyguard, she got kidnapped. Aside from that, it was just little comments here and there that were made that she just took.

When the news reaches them that Fuentes will once again go after Emily, Kell steps in. For apperances, he insists on pretending to be her lover. Why? 'Cuz if Fuentes thinks she has no bodyguard, he'll try to snatch her not knowing that there is virtually a whole SEAL team in place to protect her. The team doesn't know a few things, though. They don't know that they have Fuentes' own son in their midst. We don't find out who he is until virtually the last page, but ho-boy. Shit will hit the fan in the next book.

So Emily and Kell decide to start playing house for real. One thing that is refreshing in Leigh's book is that the hero doesn't fight the attraction. It's not "I'll never fall in love again. I'll just f her and leave her. I'm not good enough for her". With Kell, he fully admits that he doesn't think he's good enough for her and he doesn't fucking care. He very craftily decides that while Emily will think he's pretending to be in relationship with her, he won't be pretending. But she'll still think he is pretending, even though he's serious.

Of course Emily still gets nabbed by the bad guy. Did you really doubt she would? Kell freaks out, of course. Kell finds her, of course. They also find one of their men that has been held captive for over 17 months. That's another story, for another time. That guy is so effed up, I'm not sure if he'll even get his own book.

There are several new characters introduced and several old characters that are re-introduced. Romantic suspense fans should enjoy this one.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Hunter's Salvation by Shiloh Walker

From the back cover:


Vax was once committed to his life as a Hunter, tracking down the evil beings who prey on humans, but he opted out of the game long ago. Until now—because somebody, somewhere, is in danger. And, despite his best efforts, Vax can't ignore his calling?


Jess Warren is determined to find the maniac who killed her sister. A gifted psychic and telekinetic, she will do anything to exact her vengeance. Even if it means putting herself in peril...

Jess would rather not accept Vax's help—especially since letting him have his way could draw her deeper into his irresistibly sensuous realm. But then he saves her life—and they discover that the depraved madman they've been looking for is much closer than either of them could have imagined...

I'm really trying to think. I'm really trying to get motivated. What was I thinking coming back to work on a Friday? Gawd.

Hunter's Salvation is part of a series. I believe the series originally started with Samhain or EC. I started reading it when Berkley released Hunting the Hunter. Walker's website says that Hunting the Hunter stands alone and that Hunter's Salvation can stand alone as well. I don't recommend reading it as a stand alone. Vax was first introduced (to me) in Hunting the Hunter. It was published back in July 2006. I know authors have little control over publishing schedules, but I as rather annoyed it took a year to get the next book out. I barely remembered Vax and didn't have the time nor the desire to skim back through Hunting the Hunter.

Though Vax technically is a Hunter, he stopped all Hunter duties after his wife was brutally attacked and turned by a feral vampire. She was kidnapped from their home when he was out Hunting. Vax had to kill her himself. Those flashbacks were sad. Poor Vax. Oh, I forgot to mention he's a witch, too. See what I mean about being out of it?

So apparently when a call goes out to Hunters that one is needed, if you are in the general vicinity, it's basically a compulsion to answer. Even though Vax doesn't want anything to do w/ being a Hunter, he can't resist the call. Off he heads to Indiana. Btw, poor guy lives in Montana. That's worse than living in Idaho. Though he is somewhat of a loner, so it all works out. Anyway, he arrives in Indianapolis and goes straight to a club where it seems all the trouble is brewing. For the life of me, I can't remember the name of the club. Vax can feel the bad mojo pouring out of the place. It's pretty sickening stuff.

Jess Warren is at the club to bring down the owner. As an investigative reporter, Jess was doing a story on women who would go missing and turn up dead months later. She tied it back to said club, but that was as far as she got. The club's owner decided to send her a message, so he tortured and killed her younger sister. Then, nice guy that he is, he sent the whole thing on video to Jess. So Jess is also rather tortured. Oh the therapy bills these two could wrack up together. Jess knows a little about the paranormal world. A telekenetic, things tend to fly when she gets mad. Her sister was an empath (which makes what happened to her even worse). So she knows that something weird is going on, she just doesn't know exactly what.

Vax and Jess meet up when Vax steps in to save her from a bouncer. He soon realizes that Jess is the person he's supposed to protect and takes measures to do just that. How? By knocking her out and depositing her unconcious body in the car. No, I'm not kidding.

Unfortunately, neither Vax or Jess realize the magnitude of what is going on in the club. See, there's this evil vampire doctor who is stealing brain sereum from witches and injecting it into humans. Why? To make their own witch-y army, of course. Why else? Jess has no idea what she walked in the middle of. Neither does Vax. They soon learn when one of the "creatures" tries to kill Jess at her house. She gets away and sends an S.O.S. to Vax. Vax once again comes to her rescue, though she doesn't like it.

Like I said, I have been looking forward to this book for awhile. I kept putting it down, though. I'm not quite sure why b/c it wasn't a bad book. I just wasn't glued to it like I was when I read Hunting the Hunter. At the end of the book, Vax was turned mortal when the evil vampire doctor injected him with the sereum that was supposed to kill him. Vax almost died, decided he couldn't stay w/ Jess then changed his mind and begged her to take him back. Vax was a good hero, Jess was a good heroine. So maybe it's just me. Maybe.

One thing that did bother me was how this Masters guy who killed Jess' sister was made out to be such an evil villian. Then Vax just killed him and it was almost an afterthought. It was just a bit of a letdown. There was no confrontation. Just Vax remembering how easy it was to cut his head off or however he killed him.

I do plan on picking up Book 1.

3 out of 5 stars.

Back from Dallas

And I have lots of new reviews to post. I'll also be including a picture of Robyn Carr's autograph to me. I so loved her. For anyone interested, her Grace Valley trilogy is going back into print. She's also going to be writing three additional books for Virgin River. Squee!! I tried to pump her for more info, but she doesn't know about release dates yet.

So stay tuned. It's Friday at work. It's slow (b/c I decided to wait until Monday to catch up), I'm bored and I have at least four reviews.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Muse by Adra Steia

Book description (since it doesn't have a back cover):

Leah and Miguel have been separated for ten years, after the birth and adoption of their child when they were just teenagers. Reunited, they discover their psychic bond is as strong as ever. Miguel is now a troubled artist, and Leah is struggling to make a life for herself.

As they decide to resume their turbulent, passionate romance, Miguel summons his Muse, a seductive, violent spirit that haunts their home. After several violent, bloody attacks, Leah learns very quickly that his Muse is not all he claims she is, and that the vindictive spirit will stop at nothing to possess Miguel. To save him, Leah must sacrifice everything.

Reading the back cover, the reader would rightly assume that Leah is the heroine. The reader would also assume that Miguel is the hero. That being said, this is NOT a romance. Why, you ask? Because the hero does not die in a fucking romance. I don't care what the fuck he's done. I don't care if he's not redeemable. I was so pissed when I got done reading this book. I was so steamed that I actually talked to my husband about it (who is clueless by the way). Over and over in my mind I was saying "You can't kill the hero off in a romance". You can't. Isn't that like a rule of thumb or something? I don't know what genre you would put it in, but it's not a romance.

Miguel Dominguez is an artist. A talented artist. When he goes to do a commission, he is shocked to find Leah, his first and only true love. Miguel talks Leah into coming with him. That part is believable b/c Miguel and Leah were desperately in love when they parted ways ten years before. There are major unresolved feelings there. Not to mention Leah is working as a maid for their old high school bully. So while she's wary of Miguel and his intentions, she leaves with him.

Off they go with Miguel's brother, Jose, to start their new life in the old family home. That's when the real fun begins.

This is where it all started to break up for me. Obviously the house is haunted. On the first night/morning, Leah finds a skeletal ghost in her bed trying to kiss her. So yeah, I'd say haunted. But is it? When to call in a ghost specialist?

-Get pushed into the bathtub and strangled by a shower curtain? Check.
-Get helped down a couple flights of stairs into the basement? Check.
-Have a psycho ghost tell you that your husband is hers? Check.
-Get your face gouged out by an angry ghost? Check.

Okay, better call in the experts. 'Cuz obviously something is going on. But here's the thing. Only Leah and Jose think that the "ghost" is really dangerous. Miguel is thrilled b/c the ghost is his muse. The ghost is giving him a lot of ideas for new work and he refuses to give her up. He refuses to believe she's dangerous. Leah's injuries are easily explained. He thinks they're self-inflicted. Then he finds himself attracted to her. Which makes him feel like a cheat b/c he really loves Leah. Which on a small sidenote, you can really tell that he did love Leah. He was crazy about her. These two really seemed to be made for each other. End side note.

Let me back up for a moment. The whole book, the author has us waffling back and forth about Miguel's brother, Jose. On one hand, you really admire him b/c he was there for Miguel when he had a mental breakdown years back. On the other hand, he's an ass b/c he thinks everything is Leah's fault and that she will bring Miguel's downfall. So Jose and Leah's relationship is rocky, at best.

Leah and Jose both convince Miguel to leave the day after his art show. Then he changes his mind b/c he would rather live without the love of his life than his muse. His thought is that he was without her once, he can be without her again. And off to the haunted basement, he goes. Leah realizes that she'll lose him for good if she can't get him out of the basement. So her and Jose along with the Ghostbuster set fire to the house. Then Miguel dies in Leah's arms. Like he dies and doesn't come back to life. It pissed me off just to type that.

Oh, but here's the kicker. The Ghostbuster told Leah and Jose that there were no spirits in the house. Miguel apparently had more psychic energy than he ever thought and he created the muse from left over spiritual energy. So while the muse did exist, she was Miguel's to control. And apparently he liked having his muse call him on his cell phone during his honeymoon, even though it was off. He also liked having wet dreams about her. M'kay. So we get that Miguel has issues. But he LOVED Leah. Like you just knew he would die for her.

My thoughts are that the author decided during the 50 or so pages to kill Miguel off. He was redeemable up until then. But did she redeem him? No, she didn't. Which ruined the whole point of having a HEA. Oh and to make it even better, Leah was pregnant. Leah didn't want to tell Miguel b/c she was afraid the muse would really hurt her. She tells Miguel as he lay dying.

Fast forward four years. Leah has a daughter. Leah has Jose in her life. Miguel comes into her mind and tells her that Jose loves her. They can be happy. Blahblahblah. So Jose and Leah hook up. W.T.F.????

1 out of 5 stars.

Lawman by Diana Palmer

From the back cover:

When San Antonio FBI agent Garon Grier buys a ranch in Jacobsville, Texas, the strong, silent loner is hoping to mend some broken family fences. He's not looking for love when he finds an unexpected, unwanted attraction to the girl next door, a shy, lovely woman who believes some secrets are best kept hidden. But the truth will prove just as dangerous when Garon tackles the most difficult case of his career, hunting an escaped convict, a child predator whose former victims are all dead. All except one.

Grace Carver grew up in this quiet Texas town. She works as a cook at the local café and nurtures a spectacular garden in the home she shares with her elderly grandmother. She remains unmarried and untouched because of a past darkened by tragedy. Now, at only twenty-five, she's accepted loneliness as a way of life. That is, until Garon.

But only when fear and uncertainty collide in reckless heartbreak does Garon fully realize what he's found with Grace—and what he may have lost. Because his hunt for a killer has lead him to the last person on earth he would ever have expected to be the one who had escaped death at the hands of a madman. And now a desperate lawman and a proud woman must decide if secrets will come between them forever . . . or free them to love.

Yes, I'm sure many of you are raising your eyebrows or wondering WTF I was thinking. I can't help it. Diana Palmer is like a trainwreck for me. In my defense, I got this book at the library. I don't think I'd be able to live with myself if I bought another hardcover of hers. Yes, I admit it. Years ago, I bought a hardcover. Never again.

Grace Carver is your usual Palmer heroine. She's innocent and sweet. Not to mention young. But not as young as some of her heroines. 24. Which is better than 20. Grace lives with her grandmother, who ends up dying of heart failure, leaving Grace all alone in the world. You see, Grace lost her parents when she was young. Her dad ran off and left her mom for another woman. Her mom committed suicide. Grace's grandma was all she had left. It didn't matter that Grace worked to the bone to keep your grandma happy. Or that granny was a raving bitch. She had a reason for it, of course. However, because the reader doesn't know that reason until toward the end of the book, Grace's devotion to the hag seemed pathetic.

Garon is your usual Palmer hero. A total asshole. Not as bad as some of the heroes, which is a relief, but still. Of course Garon finds himself physically attracted to Grace, but a tragedy in his past makes him leery about starting any new relationship. That doesn't stop him from hopping into the sack w/ Grace, though. Even though he can see stars in her eyes, he still does the deed. Then he dumps her. In total jerk fashion, he just stops coming around. When he does see her around town, he accuses Grace of stalking him. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in a town of 2,000 people, Grace is stalking Garon. It was laughable that an FBI Agent would actually come to the conclusion that frumpy, spinster Grace would stalk him. Ha!

Eventually Garon finds out that Grace is tied into the case he's working on. Tracking down a serial killer who kidnaps young girls out of their beds and then kills them w/ red ribbon, Garon has no idea that Grace was his first victim. When he finds out, he realizes exactly how he's wronged Grace. How he comes to this conclusion, I'm still not quite sure.

Then Grace finds out she's pregnant. Aren't you shocked? They get married. Grace is hiding a secret that she doesn't want Garon to know about. See, Garon's first wife died of cancer when she was five months pregnant w/ their baby. So she doesn't want him to worry about her or the baby. Garon's serial killer case comes to a head and Grace goes into labor all on the same day. Grace has a bad heart, which could kill her and the baby. If they take the baby right away, Grace could die. It's a real clusterfuck, people.

All and all, it's exactly what I expect out of a Palmer novel.

Promises Keep by Sarah McCarty

From the back cover:

Being kidnapped into a bordello has a way of changing a woman’s focus. On the day Mara Kincaid escapes the Pleasure Emporium, she vows to start living for herself. Rebuilding her life isn’t easy as the town isn’t fond of reformed fallen doves, but she’s a Kincaid and Kincaids are known for their stubbornness. She’s successful right up until the notorious ex-marshal Cougar McKinnley comes into town.

As big as a mountain, dark as sin, and wearing a reputation as deadly as the knife strapped to his thigh, McKinnley is a man who knows what he wants. By rights, she should be shaking in her shoes when he approaches her, but when the powerful half-breed turns his dark gold eyes on her, it isn’t fear that has Mara trembling, but rather an overwhelming desire to be the kind of woman Cougar needs to satisfy his deepest desires.

First thing's first. WTF is up with this cover? It is atrocious. I think I literally cringed when I pulled it out of the amazon box. I can't believe I even dared to bring it to work w/ me so I could read it at lunch. I had to be very careful, let me tell you. And if I read it correctly, Mara has BROWN hair, not blonde. It's just bad.

The blurb is a tad misleading. While Mara was at the Pleasure Emporium against her will, her father actually sold her to the owner. Nothing like daddy taking money to turn his daughter into a whore.

So we open up w/ Cougar McKinnely in the Pleasure Emporium trying to get it up. Ever since his his fiancée died, he's had a little problem. Not because he loved her, though. No, he wanted to make sure that she would be able to accept his sexual "appetites" after they were married. Which is smart, I suppose. Anyway, she freaked out b/c Cougar was a "dirty savage". See, she only wanted him for his money. She didn't actually want him. Cougar was blind to that b/c he wanted a lady for a wife. Back to the beginning of the book...so Cougar has had a hard time performing for awhile. The owner of the brothel is a real fucked up bitch. After trying to "help" Cougar w/ his problem, she tells him to go upstairs to see a very special woman who will solve his performance problems.

After Cougar goes upstairs, he hopes that his problems are finally solved. He has no idea that the woman he sees as sexy and wanton is actually drugged out and a virgin. After the sex, Mara knocks him out with a lamp and tries to get herself together enough to make a run for it. Unfortunately the owner of the brothel and her trusty sidekick arrive and make escape impossible. Mara whips out the knife she stole from Cougar and stabs Ceilia in the throat. Kick ass. Unfortunately for her, the sidekick is not happy about that and tries to kill her. Fortunately for her, Cougar comes to in time to rescue her. The escape out the window.

Back in Cheyenne, the town knows that Mara was one of the girls in the Pleasure Emporium. No matter that it was against her will. They treat her like crap. Which really pissed me off b/c it's not like she wanted to be there. So she doesn't remember that it was Cougar who raped her, she only knows that someone did. After yet another altercation between Mara and one of the many men that think she's a whore, Cougar steps in and talks Mara into marrying him. Of course he traps her into it b/c he knows that he'll never talk her into it otherwise. He also convinces her that for safety's sake, she needs a husband and he would never hurt her.

Mara really comes into her own about halfway through the book. Realizing that she is a strong person, she also realizes that she wants to be able to satisfy her husband in a way that a wife should. Cougar told her from the beginning that he wouldn't give her time. It was all or nothing. Brave girl that she is, she chose all. While Mara and Cougar are getting closer, Cougar is just waiting for the day that Mara remembers that it was him that raped her. And she does remember.

About 3/4 of the way through the book, Mara decides she's going to become an activist for women's rights. It was kind of strange b/c it seemed like somewhat of an after thought. When Cougar refuses to write over half his property to her to show her he thinks of her as an equal, she decides to teach him a lesson. They eventually straighten things out and go on to live happily ever after.

This is the 2nd book in the Promises series. Be sure to read Promises Linger first.

4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Safe Harbor by Christine Feehan

From the back cover:

One of seven daughters in a line of extraordinary women, Hannah Drake has been the elusive object of affection for Jonas Harrington for as long at the young man can remember. If only the stunning super-model was driven by a passion other than her career. But Jonas isn’t the only one with desires for Hannah.

From the shadows has emerged a vengeful figure who stalks the beauty with one terrifying purpose: to strip her of all she is and destroy her. Only one man was destined as her protection. Now, out of a storm of danger, Jonas must guide the woman he loves from a sinister darkness that threatens not only Hannah, but the entire Drake family.

Safe Harbor is the long awaited story of Hannah and Jonas. In the four previous books, I really loved to hate Jonas. He was such an ass to Hannah. We never knew why, though. Feehan clears that up in this book.

Jonas Harrington has struggled for years with his feelings for Hannah Drake. By the time he was 10 years old, he knew she was special. He just didn't understand why. For years now Jonas has stayed far away from Hannah. Not wanting to bring her into the darker part of his life, Jonas has done what he thought was best for Hannah. After a job goes bad, he knows that he can't wait to claim Hannah as his own. Almost dying makes him change his priorities a tad bit. Returning to Sea Haven, Jonas arrives at the Drake House to find Hannah packing for another modeling job. Of course this doesn't make him happy b/c Jonas hates that she shows her body off to millions of people. He also doesn't like it b/c he knows Hannah herself doesn't like it.

Hannah has loved Jonas for-evah. Though she is a world famous model and completely gorgeous, the girl has MAJOR self-esteem issues. She doesn't think that she'll be woman enough for Jonas. She also has no idea that he has feelings for her. What she does know is that she can't take his constant criticism. When she tells him that she needs him to stay away for awhile, he hits the roof. His feelings finally come out and they totally get it on. It was actually sweet b/c they both couldn't believe that the other one felt what they did. Of course Jonas being Jonas (and a man, too), he believes that Hannah will now quit her job and stay home to be a good little wife. Which is exactly what Hannah wants. However, she won't break her existing contracts. So she leaves for New York and Jonas is pissed.

While Hannah is doing her big fashion show, Jonas and Sarah are watching it back at the Drake House. It was actually very amusing. Jonas is pacing around and asks Sarah, "Why hasn't she called?" to which Sarah replied, "She did call. You yelled at her to get her ass home and she hasn't called back since.". Heee. Okay, so maybe you have to read the book b/c it was a lot more funny when I was reading it.

Then Hannah gets attacked. Savagely. Viciously. On live t.v. Jonas and Sarah are helpless to stop the attack and they can't even help Hannah. Lucky for them, Ilya Praneskii was at the fashion show. You remember the Russian hitman that's a bodyguard for the Russian mob guy? Well he was there b/c his pscyho boss is obsessed with Hannah and her sister, Joley. Ilya has his own special powers and he is able to keep her alive until the Drake sisters arrive.

So Hannah is really messed up now. She can't leave her house b/c the paparazzi are everywhere. She can't sleep b/c she has nightmares. She can't look at herself in the mirror b/c the scars remind her of the attack. She can't be intimate w/ Jonas. She can't, can't, can't. Not saying that I blame the poor woman. What Jonas and the Drakes can't figure out is why Hannah was attacked. Though she has your normal obsessive fan base, there was no specific person that would stand out. Again and again people come to try to kill her. The first time after she came home, the house ate the people. Okay, not ate them exactly, but it was pretty creepy to read. The tree's came alive. The floor swallowed men whole. Oh and then they rolled over the bluff down into the ocean. You know Jonas is totally freaked out about it. Which was funny.

Eventually Jonas figures out that HE is the reason that Hannah was attacked. This doesn't sit well with him, as you can imagine. After so long of trying to keep Hannah out of the dark part of his life, he literally brought it to her front door where it almost killed her. The sisters kicked ass and protected Hannah, which always makes me smile. There was a really sweet part where all Hannah's sisters apologized for pushing her into doing something she didn't want to do (modeling). They each wrote her a letter. Jonas did, too. It was just "awwww" inducing.

Very much looking forward to Joley and Elle's book. Considering the backstory on Jonas and Hannah, I thought Feehan pulled it off really well.

4.5 out of 5 stars.