Thursday, July 05, 2007

Recent Reads

The Templar's Seduction by Mary Reed McCall

Why this one: Dear Author had a recent post highlighting the good things that authors do. Karen S got in the act too.
Authors also do little things that don't get much notice. Such is the case with Mary Reed McCall. We got into a bit of a debate on a message board not long ago. She later contacted me and said she enjoyed it and would I like an ARC of her latest book? Never one to turn down a free book, plus being quite impressed with her offer since we did disagree on a certain subject, I said sure! And sure enough she sent me a copy. I have so many books that this one remained unread for a while. When I noticed that Jennie had purchased it jolted me into reading it.

Amazon Blurb: Only a lie will save his life....
Sentenced to the gallows for trying to sell the treasures of the Knights Templar, Sir Alexander de Ashby has one chance for survival. The scoundrel must impersonate the late Earl of Marston, to whom he bears an uncanny resemblance, and infiltrate the lord's border castle. But first he must convince the earl's beautiful Scottish bride that his rightful place is in her bed.

But only love can save his soul.

Relieved that the story of her long-absent husband's death was false—and enticed by a wild, sensuous side of him she had never experienced before—Lady Elizabeth cautiously welcomes "the earl" back into her heart, unaware that the breathtaking imposter intends to vanish. But escape may be impossible even after his secret is revealed. For now Alexander burns for the proud, remarkable lady . . . and desires nothing more than to live—and die, if he must—for a glorious love born of deception and sin.

Level of steam: This one boiled very nicely

My thoughts: When done right, a medieval is a wonderful genre to read. When done wrong, it can be dreadful. Ms. McCall really does this wonderfully right!!

Elizabeth was a terrific heroine. Left to defend her husband's castle for five years while he was held in captivity, she showed a wonderful ingeniousness that helped keep it out of the hands of those who would attack. Much of the time, I don't pay all that much attention to the heroine unless she is done badly - then the book is ruined for me. But in this one, I loved Elizabeth's spirit.

And Alex was a great hero. I haven't read her previous books in the series (and it didn't affect my enjoyment of this one at all) but Alex wasn't that great a guy when the book first started. He was pretty self-centered and a bit of a coward at dealing with mistakes he had made. But he slowly begins to find a conscious and seeing him transformed into a true hero really made this a Very Good Read.

I also thought she did an excellent job of getting down the 'feel' of the time. I find that more important in the medieval genre than in most others. And I 'felt' this one.

It was with a bit of a bittersweet feeling that I finished this one. You see the author is taking a hiatus from writing medieval romance. And darn it all - just when I found her! But she does have a number of other books and I will be seeking them out. In fact I was at Chapters the other day - they still have their buy 3 get one free sale going - and picked up the second one Sinful Pleasures.

Jennie - once you get moved and unpacked - you have to give this one a read!

Grade: 5 out of 5

Shadowhawk by Jill Shalvis

Why this one: I’ve mostly quite enjoyed her books. I love all her heroes although a couple of her heroines haven’t worked for me. And I didn’t buy it for the cover. Really – I didn’t!

Level of Steam: The burner won’t have to be on too long for this one

Cover blurb: When his latest mission turns into a bloodbath, ATF officer JT Hawk realizes he’s been set up by someone at the top. Wounded and on the run, he has no choice but to take beautiful Abby Wells hostage. After all, she’s in danger too. And if the only way to keep the fiercely independent communications expert safe is to cuff her and bring her along for the ride, he’ll do it. With pleasure even.

Only, given their close contact, it’s not long before Hawk’s thinking about a totally different kind of pleasure….

My thoughts: I’d say I was pleasantly surprised at this one - but I’ve read and really enjoyed her books before so I wasn’t really surprised that I really enjoyed this one.

For a Blaze, the sex wasn’t front and centre – but then that is one of the things I appreciated about this book. Instead Ms. Shalvis took the time to develop the character more than is done in some Blaze books.

Hawk and Abby share a mutual lust for each other but Abby was traumatized in an earlier incident and as a result keeps herself well buttoned up around Hawk to whom she is strongly attracted too. He is puzzled by this as most women find him pretty irresistible. But eventually she overcomes her issues and the love scene is quite fine.

There is also a nicely done secondary romance and I was quite impressed that considering series books have a smaller word count, it felt complete and I wasn’t left feeling it was missing something.

I don’t buy a lot of Blazes, but I will make a point to continue buying Ms. Shalvis’.

Grade: 4 out of 5

And in other news - it's not long now!! I'm trying hard not to think about the Upcoming Trip. I have to be able to focus at work and if I spend too much time thinking about it - well, I'll lose all concentration. But come tomorrow night baby - well - it will be time to let that anticipation run amok!

'til later


Rosie said...

That wheezing you hear is me catching up on my blog hopping. I always love reading reviews and was happy to see so many. I have the McCall medieval in my TBR and will move it up now.

My reading has slowed so much this summer because we are just out and about so much.

Mailyn said...

Love that first cover! I'm such a sucker for a pretty paint. LOL.

Jennie said...

Good to know on the McCall--I'll keep it at the top of the TBR. :)

And I liked Shadow Hawk too, I remember thinking that it was pretty impressive that she crammed that secondary romance in there so effectively.

When do you leave for the conference? Exciting!

CindyS said...

I've been thinking about ya ;) I kept thinking it was the 6th of July but it sounds like you might be leaving on Saturday? You're going to have so much fun!! Pictures are mandatory!


Kristie (J) said...

Cindy: I'm not leaving 'til Tuesday - staying until Sunday, but after work today - I don't have to think about work *g* I'm going to start packing Saturday.

Jennie: She did do a good job with both romances didn't she? Have you read many of Jill's books? I just wish her single titles were in MM size. But I'll probably break and buy more of them since I do like her writing. And I'll be curious to see what you think of TTS.

Mailyn: It is a great cover isn't it?

Rosie: good to see you back! And my reading picks up in summer *grin* No TV to distract me.

Jenster said...

Not only is Mary Reed McCall a great medieval writer, she's such a gracious person - as you found out.

I've read all three and they're all great. I was especially anxious for Alex's book just to see how he was redeemed because he had some major issues! LOL

And I'm with Mailyn. The cover is HOT! That model is my favorite (his name escapes me).

Kristie (J) said...

Jenster: usually when this happens - when I read the third in a series first, after I read the first one, I'll go back and reread them in order. I'm looking forward to doing it with these ones *g*

Kris said...

I have had Shadow Hawk i nmy hand twice now at the store and still have not gotten it. I enjoy all her books (and i LOVE that cover).

Kristie (J) said...

Kris: well - hopefully third time is a charm *g*. It's good and gets a thumbs up from me.