Friday, August 31, 2007

What I've been reading

I really thought I'd be able to review every book I read. In the last few weeks, I've found that's not the case. The fact that I actually have to work when I'm at work is really cramping my style. So here's what I've read that I haven't gotten around to reviewing yet.

Die For Me by Karen Rose (coming up next)
Mac's Law by Sarah McCarty
Natural Law by Joey W. Hill
A Reason to Live by Maureen McKade
The Assassin by Rachel Butler
Checkmate by Annmarie McKenna
Paint it Red by Carla Cassidy
Tangled Up in You by Rachel Gibson (another book that takes place in Idaho)
Next to Die by Marliss Melton
Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh
The Ice Queen by Joey W. Hill
Missing by Jasmine Cresswell

Friday, August 24, 2007

Play Dirty by Sandra Brown

Book description:

After five long years in federal prison, Griff Burkett is a free man. But the disgraced Cowboys quarterback can never return to life as he knew it before he was caught cheating. In a place where football is practically a religion, Griff committed a cardinal sin, and no one is forgiving.

Foster Speakman, owner and CEO of SunSouth Airlines, and his wife, Laura, are a golden couple. Successful and wealthy, they lived a charmed life before fate cruelly intervened and denied them the one thing they wanted most -- a child. It's said that money can't buy everything. But it can buy a disgraced football player fresh out of prison and out of prospects. The job Griff agrees to do for the Speakmans demands secrecy. But he soon finds himself once again in the spotlight of suspicion. An unsolved murder comes back to haunt him in the form of his nemesis, Stanley Rodarte, who has made Griff's destruction his life's mission. While safeguarding his new enterprise, Griff must also protect those around him, especially Laura Speakman, from Rodarte's ruthlessness. Griff stands to gain the highest payoff he could ever imagine, but cashing in on it will require him to forfeit his only chance for redemption...and love. Griff is now playing a high-stakes game, and at the final whistle, one player will be dead.

Play Dirty is Sandra Brown's wildest ride yet, with hairpin turns of plot all along the way. The clock is ticking down on a fallen football star, who lost everything because of the way he played the game. Now his future -- his life --hinges on one last play.

I seriously need to be sitting here making a grocery list, but I have been looking forward to doing this review since I realized that the hero is a bonified man-whore. I was giggling to myself the whole time I was reading about Griff's "job" and how much fun it would be to review about.

The Plot: Griff Burkett was the star quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys when he threw a game for money. Those Texas football fans must be bloodthirsty b/c they still remember Griff after five years. His reception is far from nice. When he receives a mysterious call from Foster Speakman, Griff figures he has nothing to lose. When he meets the paraplegic Speakman, Griff figures he has a job offer, but he has nooooo idea that his job description would be male prostitute. Though at first he figures it's a joke, he soon realizes that the Speakman's are serious and dead set on hiring Griff as the sperm donor of the child that Foster Speakman can't father. There's only one catch: no medical labs for his baby. No siree. Foster wants Griff to get his wife, Laura, pregnant in the old fashion way. Some how, Foster explains his need to have it done traditionally in a totally logical way. Which sounds weird, yes?

So in the midst of selling his body for money, Griff is also being hounded by (what you later learn) is a Detective w/ the Dallas P.D, Stanley Rodarte. It's a bit of a shock to find out this guy is a cop because he is e.v.i.l. At first he's just creepy, following Griff around, having him beat up. Normal gansta stuff. Then he viciously attacks a friend of Griff's (who is also a high-priced prostitute). When I found out that he was a Detective, I groaned a little.

My Thoughts: I liked Griff. Honestly, I was wondering how Brown could make the reader like a man who would take money for sex and have no regrets about it. A man who threw his whole career away for money. A loner. A really unlikable guy. That's what he was at first. I also had to admire the fact that he fully admitted that he was available for a high enough price. He had no delusions about who he was. Of course he did have a hard time the first few times that he was called upon to "perform".

I liked Laura Speakman, too. This is another character that I didn't expect to like. Obviously she must be a gold-digging slut b/c she'll sleep with another man just b/c her husband wants her too, right? No, not really. She just really loves her husband. She's in love with him. She respects and admires him. That's why she can't get over the guilt of being responsible for him being in a wheelchair. So if he wants her to get pregnant the old-fashion way, she'll do it. Even if it feels morally wrong, she'll do it. It's only when she starts having feelings for Griff that she starts to pull back. Her intention was never to develop feelings for him.

Eventually Laura gets pregnant. This was after their last time together, which rocked both their worlds. Foster invites Griff over to celebrate and to give him a $500,000 bonus for his "performance". This is where you kind of realize that Foster is farther off his rocker than you thought. He keeps taunting Griff about his relationship w/ Laura, etc. Foster is also OCD, so he does his taunts in sequences of three "Poor Griff, Poor Griff, Poor Griff".

Then Foster ends up murdered. And Griff's hands are all over the murder weapon. Foster's personal aide has disappeared. Seems like an open and shut case. Of course Brown makes you doubt Griff because he was looking for a way to shut Foster up when the scene ended. Next thing you know, bam, Foster's dead.

This is where Stanley Rodarte enters the picture, yet again. And boy is his slimy. *shudder* He's determined to get Griff. We eventually find out why he's so determined, which makes sense. I think he should have just left well enough alone. But no, he's going to bring Griff down.

Of course, yet again, I didn't figure out who did it. I thought I did, but I was wrong. I was annoyed b/c I was so sure I was right! I really liked how the book ended. It was wrapped up quite nicely. Believably, too, which is always important to me.

4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Force of Nature by Suzanne Brockmann

Book description:

Florida private investigator and ex-cop Ric Alvarado's life is spiraling out of control. First, his beautiful new Girl Friday Annie Dugan is far more interested in fieldwork than filing. Sparks fly between them from the word go.

Then one of their clients turns femme fatale and tries to gun down an innocent man. With quick thinking and reflexes, Ric comes to the rescue, only to learn he's done a good deed for some very bad people.

Suddenly Ric finds himself deep undercover with Annie, working for notorious crime boss Gordon Burns. One mistake from his painfully inexperienced partner, and they're both dead.

FBI Agent Jules Cassidy's life isn't in much better shape. For years, the FBI has been trying to prove Gordon Burns's ties to terrorist activity. Now, thanks to Ric and Annie, Jules has found a way into the lion's den. But in the course of his investigation, he comes face to face with Robin Chadwick, the charismatic but self-destructive, closeted movie star for whom Jules still feels a powerful attraction. Robin's in town promoting his latest film - and Burns is a star-struck movie buff.

With Robin and Jules's help, Ric and Annie are soon entrenched inside Burns's organization, surrounded by killers who may already have executed an FBI infiltrator. Before long they realize that many more lives than just their own will be at stake if they make a false move. As the heat rises, so do the risks they're willing to take - in the line of duty, for the sake of loyalty, and in the name of something that runs even deeper.

Small note: I'm going to try a different format for this review. Let me know what you think.

Annie Dungan is my new favorite Brockmann heroine after Gina. I hate almost all her heroines. While trying to portray them as strong women, she crosses the line into ball-busting bitch. Not so with Annie. Which was a refreshing change.

I know the #1 question everyone is wondering. Did Ric Alvarado cry? Let me just get that out of the way right now. Yes, he did. Mother-f-er. I had high hopes that we wouldn't get a cry-baby. In the first scene where Ric cried I was like, damn, he's pussyfied. Then in a stellar rebound, he was actually acting like he was crying, so I was actually thinking we'd finally get one. Sorry to say folks, he did cry toward the end of the book. Which is a damn shame. Onto the review.

The Plot: After quitting the Police Force, Ric Alvarado starts his own P.I. firm. Doing a favor for an old friend's sister, Ric hires Annie Dungan to be his "secretary". This is not a position she is thrilled to be in and is continually trying to talk Ric into being partners (as in working partners). Ric refuses to consider it b/c he's a macho man and he's not going to put Annie in harm's way. Which he does anyway when he takes on a case to find a missing person. What seems like an open and close case turns into the goatfuck of the century after Ric's client tries to gundown someone Ric thinks is an innocent civilian. Little does he know that saving the life of Gordon Burns Jr will take Annie to the front of the class and bring her to the attention of a family that is currently being investigated by the F.B.I. Yup, none other than Agent Jules Cassidy. Once Ric and Annie are in the "inner circle" of the Burns family, Jules enlists their help with his investigation. Chaos ensues, as you can imagine.

My Thoughts (on Ric & Annie): I really liked them as a couple. After Annie and Ric first made out hot and heavy (as a distraction technique of course), I was really bothered when Ric almost jumped right into bed with the client that just shot him. Seriously, it bugged. Especially because Annie walked in and saw him almost boinking the crazy-ass bitch. Suz made it all right though because Ric thought Annie was a lesbian. Why? Because Annie's brother and Ric's good friend, Bruce, told Ric that Annie was gay right around the time he started noticing her as a woman. Yup. That was hysterical to me. I laughed my ass off. Literally. Like my kids were asking me what was so funny. LOL. It was a little lame how Ric always thought Annie would be "the one", if she wasn't a lesbian. Umm-hmmm. I really liked how Annie didn't let Ric get away with anything. She called him on shit.

My Thoughts (on Jules & Robin): Jules got his HEA by the end of this book. I think it was supposed to be this whole big secret. I know I would have enjoyed it more if I would have known he would be getting his HEA. Why? Because the love life of Jules has been dragged on long enough. Halfway through this book (not knowing he'd get his HEA), I was almost hoping that Robin would die b/c I didn't think that he was good enough for Jules. He was an alcoholic, so far in the closet-he-has-mothballs, pansy ass mo-fo that I wasn't having good thoughts about him. While Robin finally admitted to himself that he was gay, he still couldn't have sex with a man w/o being drunk. Of course he didn't think he was a drunk. *rolleyes* Not even his sister, Jane (Hot Target), telling him that her and Cosmo didn't want him babysitting made him think he had a slight drinking problem. So that's why I didn't think he was good enough for Jules. He eventually came out of the closet, in a big way. Went to rehab. Committed to Jules. What I didn't like in this book was my feeling that Suz used it as a sounding board for gay rights. I understand that she is a huge advocate and I don't blame her. That doesn't mean she needs to get all preachy in a work of fiction. Which is the way it felt as I was reading. I don't know if it's worse in this book, but I never really noticed it before. I might have to do a reread b/c I really don't remember feeling like she was shoving info down my throat. Btw, there is some m/m action, but it's very subtle. Nothing like Carol Lynne. *g*

Overall, this is a worthy addition to the Troubleshooter series. I'd even go so far as to say it was worth the HC price. I know that I'll be picking up her Christmas hardcover.

4 out of 5 stars.

Author Pimp: Nalini Singh

Since her newest book in her Psy-Changeling series is coming out on September 4th, I thought this would be a good time to pimp her books. Nalini Singh was my best find of 2006. I honestly mean that. It's not just b/c I'm a huge fangirl of Nalini herself. *g*

Thank God for I always look at what they recommend based on what I buy (and I buy a lot). They recommended Slave to Sensation and after reading the blurb, I immediately ordered it. Once I received it, I couldn't put it down.

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of “rehabilitation”— the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was….
Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy co-existence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion—and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities—or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation…

Lucas Hunter is the kind of hero I love. Although he was a little too perfect, he was an alpha through and through. Once he realized Sascha was his mate, he got even more alpha. Which kind of doesn't seem possible, but it happened. LOL. Sascha is in my top ten favorite heroines of all times. She's kick ass, in a very subtle way, though. You can order Slave to Sensation here.

Used to cold silence, Faith NightStar is suddenly being tormented by dark visions of blood and murder. A bad sign for anyone, but worse for Faith, an F-Psy with the highly sought after ability to predict the future. Then the visions show her something even more dangerous-aching need...exquisite pleasure. But so powerful is her sight, so fragile the state of her mind, that the very emotions she yearns to embrace could be the end of her. Changeling Vaughn D'Angelo can take either man or jaguar form, but it is his animal side that is overwhelmingly drawn to Faith. The jaguar's instinct is to claim this woman it finds so utterly fascinating and the man has no argument. But while Vaughn craves sensation and hungers to pleasure Faith in every way, desire is a danger that could snap the last threads of her sanity. And there are Psy who need Faith's sight for their own purposes. They must keep her silenced-and keep her from Vaughn...

Slave to Sensation is still my favorite of the two, but Visions of Heat still rocked my socks. I own three copies of it. I found a copy before the release date, which I snapped up and read immediately. Then I felt guilty for buying it before the release date, so I ordered another copy. THEN, I had to get a copy at RWA in Dallas. Had, had, had to. I wish Nalini would have had copies of StS available, too. Unfortunately I didn't bring mine. :( Vaughn and Faith's book was a fab-u-lous addition to the series and showed more insight into the characters of the next book. You can buy Visions of Heat here.

As an Arrow, an elite soldier in the Psy Council ranks, Judd Lauren was forced to do terrible things in the name of his people. Now a defector, his dark abilities have made him the most deadly of assassins—cold, pitiless, unfeeling. Until he meets Brenna… Brenna Shane Kincaid was an innocent before she was abducted—and had her mind violated—by a serial killer. Her sense of evil runs so deep, she fears she could become a killer herself. Then the first dead body is found, victim of a familiar madness. Judd is her only hope, yet her sensual changeling side rebels against the inhuman chill of his personality, even as desire explodes between them. Shocking and raw, their passion is a danger that threatens not only their hearts, but their very lives…

Both Brenna and Judd were first introduced in Slave to Sensation. Judd is an AWOL Psy who lives with his family in the wolf-den. There is more to him than meets the eye, as we learn in Visions of Heat. Brenna is a seriously tortured heroine. I am counting down the days until the release of this book. SEPTEMBER 4, 2007!! You can pre-order Caressed by Ice here.

Nalini also has a blog. She posts almost every day. Contests, reader interviews, author/book spotlights. You name it. It's one of my favorite author blogs.

So not only is Nalini a wonderful author, she's also this amazingly sweet person. I had the honor of meeting her in RWA and she is as sweet in person as she is online. And she's cute! Here's a pic of her and I in Dallas. I didn't have time to photoshop myself. ;)

Caressed by Ice Quiz

Which Psy-Changeling Hero Is For You?

Your Psy/Changeling Hero: Lucas

Tough, dangerous and highly intelligent, the alpha of the DarkRiver leopard pack is a man who will demand everything from his mate. But he will give the same in return. And he will never let go.Find out more about Lucas and the series at
Take this quiz!

Go take this quiz and post it on your blog. Post on Nalini's blog and you're entered in her CBI contest!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tanner's Scheme by Lora Leigh

Book description:

A sexy paranormal series set in a world where genetically altered Breeds and the humans who created them sometimes come together in the fiercest of passions.After the Feline Breeds’ main base is attacked, Tanner desires revenge. So he kidnaps Scheme Tallant-the daughter of a one-time high-ranking member of the Genetics Council. But when Tanner discovers that Scheme herself is a target of her father’s ruthless mission, his vengeance takes a back seat to saving the life of the woman he hopes to claim as his mate.

I luuuuuurve this cover. I think it's the best cover of the summer. Usually I don't like covers that have actual people on them, but this one really rocks my socks.

For the readers who have read this series from the beginning (Ellora's Cave), this is the long awaited story of Tanner Reynolds. First introduced in Tempting the Beast, Tanner and his brother Cabal were known for their penchant for sharing women. I was wondering how LL would spin Tanner's book b/c she's written Breedmates as unable to stand the touch of someone that is not their mate.

Scheme Tallant (I didn't even get the title until halfway through the book. *rolleyes*) is the daughter of the Breeds' most hated enemy. General Cyrus Tallant of the Genetic's Council has made it his mission in life to show the Breeds as they really are. Souless and empty. Not fit to be in society. Unfortunately for him, the world's view of the Breeds does not coincide with his own. So he takes them out one by one. He trusts no one, not even his own daughter. When he finds out that his daughter is working for the enemy, he can do nothing other than order her death. He sends his most trusted assassin to kill her quickly. Oh, his most trusted assassin is also Scheme's ex-lover and was the father of the baby her father had aborted against her will. Great father, isn't he?

While Scheme is waiting to get picked up by Jonas Wyatt, her contact, she's kidnapped by Tanner Reynolds. Tanner has been watching Scheme for years. Years and years. Like ten years. Tanner is sickened by his attraction to Scheme, whom he believes has ordered the deaths of innocent Breeds. After he kills the man sent to kill her, Tanner takes her and runs, realizing that she's not who he always thought she was.

Tanner takes Scheme to his underground lair where no one can ever find her. At first he took her because he wanted to punish her, but now he just wants to keep her. As the days go by and Scheme fights to get free, Tanner hopes that she is his mate. Unfortunately, there are no signs of the mating heat. Signs like enlarged taste buds on his tongue and a special barb that is in his penis and makes an appearance when mates do the nasty. Is it just me or does that sound weird to anyone? Anyway, because Tanner and his twin brother, Cabal, are genetically identical, Tanner starts thinking that Scheme is Cabal's mate. He can't do anything other that bring them together even though it's the last thing that he wants to do.

So while Tanner realizes that Scheme is not who he thought she was, he isn't 100% sure that she's the spy that Jonas had in the Genetics Council. Likewise, Scheme isn't sure that Tanner isn't the spy that her father has in Sanctuary, the Breed stronghold. One thing that I really liked about this book is that the Breed spy was finally outed. This spy has been in Sanctuary for over TEN YEARS. That's a long damn time.

So overall I really liked this book. I liked how LL didn't have Tanner and Scheme mate right away. It was really powerful how they eventually came together, which made the book that much better.

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Devil May Cry by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Book description:

Ever since the moment his godhood was taken by Artemis, Sin has done nothing but plot his revenge. But when he kidnaps a woman he believes to be the goddess, he quickly finds out that she is not Artemis, but her servant, Katra. And instead of capturing her, Katra captures him. She refuses to release him until he promises not to seek vengeance on her mistress. In spite of himself, Sin is intrigued by Katra, who is nothing like the deceitful Artemis. She's fierce and true, but also compassionate and loyal. However, Sin is not the only enemy Artemis has and it quickly becomes apparent that he must help Katra save her mistress... or life as we know it will cease to exist. What's an ex-god to do?

I had virtually no expectations going into this book. Zero. After the last two books (The Dream Hunter being one), I really didn't have much hope that Kenyon could bring the series back from what I saw as its' ruin. Don't get me wrong, I still would have read the series through to the bitter end. I guess I have held out hope that she would make me love the series as I loved it after reading the first 4 or 5 books.

Onto my review.

What did I love most about this book? Any doubts I had over Artemis being Ash's heroine were laid to rest. THANK GAWD. There is no way in hell that Kenyon will pair these two characters together. There is too much history between the two of them. Way too much. Eleven thousand years is a lot of time. Especially when Artemis screwed Ash over so many times. Holly and I have had a long running discussion on Satara being Ash's heroine. I flopped back and forth, thinking that it could be possible, but also thinking that Kenyon would try to pull off the impossible (and alienate her readers) by putting Ash and Artemis together. I think that Satara is going to be his heroine (I'll probably change my mind before his book is out, though). He's not going to get his HEA very easily and pairing him with Tory (from The Dream Hunter) would be waaaay too easy. He needs someone that is as jaded as he is.

Okay, onto the review. *g*

After Artemis took his godhood from him, Sin has vowed to himself that he would kill her. Kidnapping a woman who he believes in Artemis, he feels triumph that he will finally have his revenge. He soon realizes that it's not Artemis he has taken, but her daughter. Though he fights it at first, Sin finds himself attracted to the daughter of the person he despises more than anyone else. When Kat offers her help in his battle against the gallu demons, Sin can't turn her down, especially when she freely offers him the knowledge that would kill her.

Kat has been cloistered by both her mother and her grandmother for as long as she can remember. Considering that she's about eleven thousand years old, you have to wonder how far back she can remember. There was one scene where she was "showing" Ash how Artemis was as a mother. She was about 7 in the flashback. I was wondering how she can remember back 10,993 years ago. Anyway, Artemis sends Kat to kill Sin. Though she doesn't blindly follow her mother's wishes, after she sees Sin fight some demons and then cut off their heads along with the head of their human victim, Kat thinks her mother may be right in this case. What she doesn't count on is her resemblence to Artemis and Sin's hatred for her.

Eventually Kat talks Sin into accepting her help in his fight against the gallu demons. Of course this is another time where this is the end of the world if they don't [insert whatever they have to do to save the world here]. I wasn't as interested in the fight with the demons as I was in the Ash/Kat interactions. Or the Ash/Artemis interactions. Obviously Sin and Kat saved the day. Kenyon also introduced a few new characters. Xypher, who is a Dream Hunter will have his book in February. That should be good. Xypher is majorly tortured. Like Zarek-type torture. Also, Sin's brother who died, but was brought back to life by Ash.

As in the last few DH books, the world of the Dark Hunters has gotten way too complex. I miss the days of Night Pleasures and Night Embrace. While it was complex at that point, it was still manageable. Now when I think about about Atlanteans and Dark Hunters and Dream Hunters and demons and Damions, it's enough to give me a headache. That doesn't mean that I didn't like this book, because I did. After the last DH book (which all I can remember is the guy being some kind of cat and the girl being allergic), I was extremely happy with DMC. I'm a diehard Kenyon fan. Maybe after Ash's book comes out, I won't be so gung-ho on reading these books.

So this isn't much of a review, other than to say read the book. I can't even put my thoughts together on it because they seem so disjointed. I would recommend you read this, even if you've given up on the series. *ahem*

4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Best Autograph Evah.

I think the highlight of the Dallas trip was my autograph by Robyn Carr.

I've only been to two Literacy signings, but I walk around with the same person. Basically I point, she buys. It's a system that works out very well for both of us. So we get to Robyn Carr's table and my friend whips out an packing slip that came with the copy of Virgin River I had sent her. Robyn "awwwwed", so I started pumping her for information on what she has planned for Virgin River. Hey, never say that I don't take full advantage of an opportunity that's dropped in my lap. She tells us that her Grace Valley trilogy is going back into print because of how wildly popular the Virgin River series was. My friend made my love her even more (you know who you are) by telling Robyn that it's all thanks to me. Why? Because once I like a book and/or author, I'm like a dog w/ a bone. If you won't read it, I'll send it to you. I'll badger you. I'll cajole you. Maybe even threaten you. The end result? You'll read it. You'll love it. And I get that warm mushy feeling inside that someone loves a book as much as I do.

Without futher ado, here's my autograph. Those who know me know how I am when my name is spelled wrong. In this case, I don't even care!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Dead Right by Brenda Novak

Book description:

The people of Stillwater, Mississippi, are asking questions about murder. Again.

Twenty years ago, Madeline Barker’s father disappeared. Despite what everyone else thinks, she’s convinced her stepfamily had nothing to do with it. But the discovery of his car proves he didn’t just drive away. Worse, the police find something in his trunk that says there’s more to this case than murder.

With no other recourse, Madeline decides to hire a private investigator—even if the cops don’t like it. Even if her family doesn’t like it. But when PI Hunter Solozano begins to uncover some shocking evidence, someone in Stillwater is determined to put a stop to Madeline’s search for the truth. And that means putting a stop to her. Permanently.

This is the 3rd and final installment of Novak's Stillwater, MS trilogy. So don't start with this one.

When her father's car is found after 20 years, it's the first real sign that he met with foul play. For Madeline Barker, it means that he didn't abandon her. This is a big deal to Maddy because her own mother comitted suicide when she was 10 (or maybe 11). It also makes Maddy even more determined (if that's even possible) to find out what happened to her father. The general belief around Stillwater is that her stepfamily, the Montgomery's, killed Reverend Barker and are hiding his body somewhere at the farm where Maddy grew up. Maddy has always scoffed at these beliefs and has done whatever she can to defend the family she loves.

Though she can scarcely afford it, Maddy hires a P.I. from California to investigate. After much browbeating, Hunter Solozano arrives and is on the case. Maddy is chagrined when she realizes that she's hired a California beach bum to investigate her father's disappearance. Not to mention the attraction she feels for a man that is four years younger than her. It makes for a very uncomfortable few days. Maddy soon realizes that there is much more to Hunter than meets the eye and if anyone can find the truth, it's Hunter.

Of course as I was reading this I already knew who killed the good Reverend and why. No, I didn't figure it out on my own. It was explained in the 1st book. See, Maddy's daddy wasn't a man of the cloth. He was a vile, disgusting, hideous excuse for a human being. Not not to mention a pedophile. While the Montgomery's (Irene, stepmom-Clay, stepbrother-Grace, stepsister) knew exactly what kind of man Barker was, they have always kept the truth from Maddy. They didn't do it for any other reason that the fact that they were trying to protect her.

Novak kind of danced around the rape of Grace by the Reverend in the 1st book, but was very graphic in this last book. A suitcase is found in the back of the Reverend's car, which contains a dildo, three pairs of girls panties, and a camera. A part of me can understand Maddy's absolute denial that those are her father's things. The girl grew up believing her father was a saint. All her life people protected her from her father's true character. At the same time, her naivety was a little annoying. Sure, the suitcase could be the murderers. It could be something that he was given by a parishoner. But after little things start coming to light about her father, she's still in total denial. Borderline TSTL. Not enough to ruin the book, but enough to be noticeable.

Anyway, Barker's partner in crime is still alive and getting nervous about the extra attention the case is receiving. So what does he do? Like the brainbox he is, he starts sending Maddy gifts. He breaks into her house. He calls her. Then he decides to kidnap her. His reasoning? Barker used his daughter, but refused to let him use Maddy. Pay back is a bitch. Even if the person is dead.

I really thought this was a suitable ending for Stillwater. Obviously Hunter helped Maddy resolve her abandonment issues. We also got glimpses into Clay and Allie's marriage (book 2), which was "awww" inducing. I did feel bad for Irene, who was only trying to protect her children. She married Reverend Barker thinking she had found sanctuary for her and her children. Instead she took them straight into a nightmare.

Novak does a terrific job of cultivating the relationships between the characters. It really came through the pages how the Montgomery's were determined to protect Madeline. The ending was a good one, if a bit rushed.

If you haven't read this series, run out right now and buy it.

4 out of 5 stars.

Almost Dead by Lisa Jackson

Book description:

The first victim is pushed to her death. The second suffers a fatal overdose. The third takes a bullet to the heart. Three down, more to go. They're people who deserve to die. People who are in the way. And when she's finished, there will be no one left.

Cissy Cahill's world is unraveling fast. One by one, members of her family are dying. Cissy's certain she's being watched. Or is she losing her mind? Lately she's heard footsteps when there's no one around, smelled a woman's perfume, and noticed small, personal items missing from her house. Cissy's right to be afraid--but not for the reason she thinks. The truth is much more terrifying.

Hidden in the shadows of the Cahill family's twisted past is a shocking secret-a secret that will only be satisfied by blood. And Cissy must uncover the deadly truth before it's too late, because fear is coming home. With a vengeance.

I was soooooo super excited when I read about this book coming out. I am a huge fan girl of Lisa Jackon's earlier work (If Only She Knew, Twice Kissed, Intimacies). Almost Dead is a sequel to If Only She Knew.

Let me just right in and say that I hated the heroine. Hated her. Okay, so I bounced back from kind of liking her to hating her. She was such a whiny bee-yotch. Plus she had such disdain for her aunt and uncle (h/h of If Only She Knew). That really annoyed me because from what I remember, they both did a lot for her. Jackson tried to write this off as Cissy's inability to let people close to her. When you have a psyhcotic mother and a dead beat dad, you're bound to be a little messed up. I get that. Add in a controlling grandmother and you have no chance. I get that, too. It was still annoying.

When Cissy Cahill-Holt (why would she hyphenate when she hated her family?) found her grandmother dead at the bottom of the stairs, she assumed that it was because of a fall. When she learns that her grandmother was murdered, she wonders if her mother, escaped convict Marla Cahill and bonified sociopath, could have anything to do with it. While she wouldn't put much past her murderous mom, she doesn't think that she really doesn't believe that her mother would kill her own family.

When members of her family start turning up dead, Cissy still doesn't think that her mother could be doing it. Her soon-to-be ex-husband, Jack, is determined to protect Cissy and their son, B.J. Having some of the book told from Jack's POV really nails home the fact that Cissy has major issues. Pushing him away before he can push her away, Cissy drove Jack into the arms of another woman. Even though he didn't sleep with the woman, Cissy thinks he did and kicks him out.

Aside from the heroine, another thing that annoyed me is that Jackson kept trying to get the reader to believe the villian was Jack. I'm the first to admit, I SUCK at figuring out who the bad guy is. Totally and completely suck. A good example of how bad I am at putting things together? In JRW's BDB series, I didn't know that John Matthew was Darius until a friend told me (after she laughed at me). But I never for a second considered that Jack was the villian.

We did get the villian's POV. Dude. That is one effed up person. I'm not going to tell you who it is, though. Not even Holly will guess this one.

Overall it was good. It was just a long book. I think 100 pages could have been cut out and it still would have had the same effect.

3 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Seeing Eye Mate by Annmarie McKenna

Book description:

He's a shape-shifting wolf, she's a psychic and his other half. In order to catch a killer he has to rely on his Seeing Eye Mate.

Caelan Graham is on the hunt for a shape-shifter bent on killing female mates. As Prime, it's Caelan's duty to protect his entire pack, so it's a good thing he doesn't have a mate of his own to look after right now. Too bad the most alluring female has just walked past his nose.

As a clairvoyant, Tieran Jones has given up on men and their lack of understanding her gift-until Caelan. The man ignites her passion, sets off a vision of a gruesome wolf attack, then shows up in her bed. In wolf form. To top it all off, he keeps insisting she's his mate.

When the attacks continue, Tieran's visions evolve and point in one direction. Caelan's twin brother. With a lack of physical evidence, Caelan must depend on Tieran's sight for clues. An act making her a prime target.

I literally don't know where to start. There are so many problems that I had with this book, but I couldn't put it down. I mean, seriously. What is with that?

This book wasn't short on humor. I'm sure that the author didn't intend for it to be that humorous, but when you have lines like: "One minute Caelan wanted to strangle her, the next, he wanted to lay her out, spread her thighs as wide as they could go and slurp at her delicious pussy.", how can you not laugh. Slurp? Delicious pussy? I'm giggling just thinking about it and I.don't.giggle. Also, Tieran sucked him off like "she was a kid with a lollipop". Hello? Mother here. I don't want to think about kids and oral sex synonymously, thankyouverymuch.

So anyway...Tieran has had bad luck with men. Having psychic visions after sex isn't conducive to a good relationship. So she just avoids them instead. That all changes when she first sees Caelen at a bar where her car breaks down. After coming to her rescue with the tow-truck driver, Tieran thanks him and leaves. She has no intention of seeing him again. Ever. I have no idea why she wouldn't find it strange when Caelen shows up on her doorstep. I mean, really. A total stranger. And it's not like she left her purse or anything. So if I was her, I'd be asking how this freak knew where the fuck I lived.

Of course they immediately start going at it and she winds up pregnant. Caelen knows she's pregnant because he can "smell" it. Yes, people. He can smell it.

Lots of hot sex ensues, with the plot seemingly thrown in as an afterthought. The problem is that Tieran is seeing the "Mate Murderer", but she thinks it's Caelen's brother, Eli. See, the wolf in her dream that's murdering women has a scar on its' shoulder, just like Caelen.

The villian is so obvious it's laughable. The fact that Caelen doesn't know who it is makes it even more funny. Come on. I never know who the villian is, but I did know who this one was. Good Gawd. Oh, and how's this for a cliche? When Caelen goes to hunt the killer, he lives the killer to protect Tieran. Seriously.

Then there was the fact that Caelen kept calling Tieran "my own". That annoyed the ever-loving shit out of me. "Good morning, my own." or "Eat your breakfast, my own.". I wanted to take that phrase and shove it back down his throat. Ugh.

Eli's (the brother) book is next. Hey, I told you it was a train wreck. There are way too many train wrecks in my TBR pile. I've already read Eli's book and the review is coming shortly.

3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Billionaire Next Door by Jessica Bird

Book description:

Take-no-prisoners deal-maker Sean O'Banyon ate Wall Street financiers for lunch. So why was he losing sleep over a fresh-scrubbed nurse in old jeans and a too-big T-shirt? Maybe it was those warm green eyes. Or the way she blushed when he got personal. There was no denying the serious chemistry between them. But sooner or later Lizzie would learn his deep, dark secrets: First, he had trust issues. And second—he'd rather not go into the whole family thing. He didn't do relationships…but amazingly, Lizzie made him want one anyway.

This book was MUCH better than Man in a Million. Much more enjoyable. Much less of the BIG MISUNDERSTANDING.

Sean O'Baynon was a super-hot hero. After leaving his father's home in South Boston at 18, Sean has never returned. With a head for finance, Sean has made a name for himself on Wall Street. When he receives a call telling him that his father is dead, Sean heads to the house that he grew up in and that he hasn't been back to since the day he walked out.

Lizzie Bond doesn't understand why her landlord and friend, Eddie O'Banyon, died alone. Knowing that he has three sons, she is at a loss to why none of them were at his bedside. Lizzie feels a horrible sense of guilt that he died all alone. After calling his son Sean, Lizzie waits for him to arrive to claim his father's body. She's unprepared for the feelings Sean invokes in her.

Of course Sean has been burned by a woman before. Right after he went from poor to rich, he met a woman and "showered" her with gifts, money, and whatever else she wanted. He soon learned his lesson when the woman left him for a richer man. From then on, he rarely spends money on women though he's far from cheap. He just doesn't want to get burned again. Which brings us to the BIG MISUNDERSTANDING in this book...

Lizzie doesn't know who Sean is. She has no idea he's rich. She works two jobs to support herself as well as her mother. Sean thinks she's too good to be true. When they go on a date, Lizzie offers to pay for half the dinner. She's almost too good to be true. When she does find out who Sean really is, it doesn't change much. She's still as fiercely independent as she ever was. The only thing she does do (toward the end) is take Sean up on his offer of living rent free until he sells the duplex.

When Sean is cleaning out his father's possessions, he finds all sorts of canceled checks that Lizzie wrote to herself, signed by his father. He also finds his father's will, which leaves all his belongings and any cash in his checking account to Lizzie. Needless to say, he flies of the handle and thinks he's been taken for a fool again. After accusing Lizzie of being a gold-digging tramp, he walks out of her apartment and swears he won't return. Ha.

The BIG MISUNDERSTANDING is eventually cleared up and the book is wrapped up quite nicely. Bird setup the O'Banyon brothers very nicely and I believe I will be reading the next too books for Mac and Billy O'Banyon.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Man in a Million by Jessica Bird

Book description:

As far as bad boy Spike Moriarty was concerned, Madeline Maguire defined female perfection. When they'd met, she'd walked up as if she wasn't the most gorgeous thing on the planet and asked to see his tattoos. He-a tough guy who'd make grown men run-had just about passed out. But their connection was definitely one-way-it had to be. Because he could never be the man in a million she was looking for, not with the things he'd done and seen. So for as long as she'd let him, he'd give her whatever she wanted. He'd worry about her walking away when it happened.

I wasn't planning on reading this book, but I am oh-so glad that I did. Reading this book, it shows what I already knew. Jessica Bird aka J.R. Ward is nothing special. She hit the genre with the BDB at exactly the right time and got lucky. Yes, she got lucky. I've read Harlequin's by Susan Mallery, Roxanne St. Claire, Kathryn Shay, Marilyn Pappano, and Nalini Singh that are as good, if not better than Man in a Million. Don't get me wrong, I'll still read her JRW books, I just won't run out and hunt down all of Jessica Bird's backlist.

Okay, I know this is a Harlequin. So we'll definitely have the BIG MISUNDERSTANDING. Dude, this whole freakin' book was a BIG MISUNDERSTANDING. I'm not exaggerating either. If you don't believe me, read it.

Madeline "Mad" Maguire is a very insecure woman. Over six feet tall with a very athletic frame, she has had bad luck with men in general. Not to mention the two men she did get serious about ended up sleeping w/ her half sister. So even though she thinks Spike Moriarty (which I read as Mortuary every time) defines male hotness, she won't do anything about it. She's content to coast along with her life as it is. She also knows that someone like Spike would never want someone like her.

Meanwhile Spike knows that Mad is way out of his league. She's gorgeous and wealthy, she'll never give him a chance. Not only is he unrefined, he's also an ex-con. After a horrible experience telling a woman about his past, Spike doesn't want to put himself or another woman through that again. So he admires Mad from afar, wishing for what he can never have.

Are we seeing a pattern here?

Spike does Mad a favor by being her "guest" at the family home. Acting as a buffer between Mad and her barracuda of a brother, Spike begins to see Mad in a different light. Of course in between the BIG MISUNDERSTANDING, there are little misunderstandings. Such as Mad asking Spike why he's attracted to her. Spike thinks she wants a list of her attributes because she has to know how hot she is. So he is disappointed because he doesn't realize how shallow she was.

Then there's the coup de grĂ¢ce, when Mad walks in and misinterprets a conversation between Spike and her half-sister Amelia. You'll be able to see this misunderstanding coming a mile away. It doesn't end there, though. Mad takes off like a bat out of hell. Spike is totally oblivious to the fact that Mad even saw him and Amelia talking. Mad's brother, Richard, takes full advantage of the situation telling Spike that Mad left b/c Richard told her about his past. Spike leaves with his tail between his legs, but understands why she left.

So Spike and Mad are both licking their wounds, but for different reasons. It really is quite humorous. When Spike does find out the truth, he realizes if Mad doesn't trust him about Amelia, she'll never be able to understand and accept that fact that he did time for manslaughter. Uh-huh.

And on and on it went. I was glad that this book ended because it was really getting tedious toward the end. Not to mention that the characters were far from brilliant. Spike was a good hero, in a bad-boy-turned-good sort of way. Madeline was a total wimp of a heroine. Of course there was a reason for that, but whatever. She just didn't rock my socks.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

High Noon by Nora Roberts

Book description:

Police Lieutenant Phoebe MacNamara found her calling at an early age when an unstable man broke into her family's home, trapping and terrorizing them for hours. Now she's Savannah's top hostage negotiator, defusing powderkeg situations with a talent for knowing when to give in-andwhen to jump in and take action. It's satisfying work-and sometimes those skills come in handy at home dealing with her agoraphobic mother, still traumatized by the break-in after all these years, and her precocious seven-year-old, Carly.

It's exactly that heady combination of steely courage and sensitivity that first attracts Duncan Swift to Phoebe. After observing her coax one of his employees down from a roof ledge, he is committed to keeping this intriguing, take-charge woman in his life. She's used to working solo, but Phoebe's discovering that no amount of negotiation can keep Duncan at arm's length.

And when she's grabbed by a man who throws a hood over her head and brutally assaults her-in her own precinct house-Phoebe can't help but be deeply shaken. Then threatening messages show up on her doorstep, and she's not just alarmed but frustrated. How do you go face-to-face with an opponent who refuses to look you in the eye?

Now, with Duncan backing her up every step of the way, she must establish contact with the faceless tormentor who is determined to make her a hostage to fear . . . before she becomes the final showdown.

Dude. Can someone puh-lease tell me how Nora Roberts can write a 500 page book and still keep the reader interested? It took me three days to read this book. Three.freaking.days. High Noon was like the book that would never end. It was good, though. In only the way Roberts can, she got me invested in the lives of her characters. Thank Gawd she only comes out with a single title once a year.

Lieutenant Phoebe MacNamara is a kick ass heroine. As a hostage negotiator, she is in the top of her field. Of course she's lost some people in the course of her 12 year career, but she's also saved countless lives. She's a single mother raising her seven year old daughter. She takes care of her agoraphobic mother. She's totally verging on sainthood. When she meets the boss of a man that she talks off of a roof, she even finds love. Aw.

Duncan Swift isn't as kick-ass as Phobe, but he makes up for that in other ways. As a cabdriver/bartender, the day he buys a $5 lotto ticket, his whole life changes. Finding himself the winner of the biggest jackpot that the state of Georgia has ever seen definitely changes a man. He's found his niche by the time he meets Phoebe. After seeing her talk his ex-employee off the roof of his apartment, Duncan is determined to get to know her better.

Unfortunately things are never easy for Phoebe. Also a trainer of negotiator in her department, Phoebe butts heads w/ a bigot officer named Arnie Meeks. Good 'ol Arnie doesn't have a very high regard for women in general, let alone women who are his superiors. A first responder on a hostage situation, Arnie doesn't call Phoebe in until it's too late. Trying to talk to hostage taker down, Phoebe is too little, too late. When Phoebe finds out how Arnie handled the situation and basically drove the Hostage Taker to suicide, she suspends him. Like a good psychopath, Arnie attacks Phoebe in the stairwell of the Precinct. Viciously assaulted, Phoebe is sure that Arnie is to blame. Because he's a man that can't keep his mouth shut, Arnie eventually confesses. As his daddy is a higher-up in the Police Department, Arnie only gets kicked off the force and probation. How fucked up is that? I was pissed off on Phoebe's behalf. And you know an author is good when they can get you all worked up over a fictional character.

In the midst of all this, Phoebe is finding dead animals on her porch. Convinced that it's Arnie, Phoebe doesn't think much of it. Then she finds herself at a cemetery where her ex-husband and the father of her daughter has been chained to a grave and strapped with explosives. Using her ex as the go-between, the HT tells Phoebe that she's going to pay and blahblahblah. Then he blows the guy up. Seriously. It was messed up, people. Roberts did a fantabulous job of describing this guy getting blow to bits. Still makes me kind of sick.

Now Phoebe realizes that another psychopath is after her. What she doesn't know is why. Going through all her old cases, she eventually figures it out and the climax at the end of the book is a good one.

Every time I read a Nora Roberts book I am reminded of what a great author she is. I've had a lot of people tell me they don't read Nora because they don't think that an author who releases so many books can be good. That really is their loss. Her characters are real people that, as a reader, you will come to care about and admire. Phoebe is probably on my list of Top 10 heroines. She's that kick-ass.

5 out of 5 stars.