Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Recent Reads

I’ve gotten behind in doing my thoughts on my latest reads so I’m doing a 4-fer here.

Call of the Highland Moon by Kendra Leigh Castle

Why this one: Katie sent me a copy and as it’s a werewolf story and I never had a thing going against werewolf stories I was quite happy to receive it.

Steam Level: Nice and steamy

Amazon Blurb: A Scottish Highlands werewolf fleeing his destiny ...

Gideon MacInnes is a werewolf from the Scottish Highlands. He loves the haunting beauty of his home, but runs away to upstate New York, grappling with his destiny of being his clan's next alpha. As a snowstorm closes in, Gideon is attacked by rogue wolves working for an enemy he never imagined existed. He stumbles, wounded and bleeding, to collapse on the doorstep of Carly Silver's tiny romance bookstore-ironic, as she's never been very good at relationships with men.

A warmhearted woman, looking for a new pet ...

Thinking he's a dog, she takes him home, treats his injuries and wakes up to find a devastatingly handsome naked man in her bed.

Trapped together through the raging storm, Gideon discovers that he's found his mate and Carly has to choose between becoming a werewolf, charged with protecting humankind from the inhabitants of an evil otherworld, or giving up the one man she's ever truly loved ...

My Thoughts: *sigh* oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. First off, this one started out quite good. Gideon has traveled to the US to escape his destiny – or at least put it off for a while – as his clan’s next Alpha. When he is very badly injured in a fight with another werewolf, he finds Carly – while still in werewolf form – and she takes him home with her. For quite some time, I was really digging the character of Gideon. He was a very fine hero. But then the hero train stopped at the station and he got off the train and for me, lost all rights to be called a hero. *sigh* he was stupid. STUPID IN CAPITAL LETTERS. He withheld vital information from Carly and as a result of this, her life was put into deadly jeopardy. And if that wasn’t bad enough

*spoilers here*

After when she was bitten by the bad werewolf, because our hero was STUPID, he whisked her back to Scotland, to his clan, she was about to go through the change, the change that killed most of the women because they weren’t strong enough – AND HE LEFT HER!! He left her all alone with the knowledge that she would probably die like so many other mates of werewolves. And this was after promising her he would stay with her!! I wasn’t too keen on him before that – the STUPID thing, but to me this was totally inexcusable. Yes, I know he had to go and fight the bad guys and as Mr. Spock says, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” but surely he could have found someone to be with her in her final painful horrendous hours. He didn’t even wait to tell her what to expect! Nope, he just left her there – all alone. At this point he was on the Unforgivable train.

Of course since this is a romance, she didn’t die – but still. If I were her, I would have stayed in werewolf form and bitten off a certain piece of his anatomy for what he did!

Still, I give the author props for good writing and an interesting world. I’m not writing her off. Gideon has a brother who will have a story coming up and I plan on reading it. I just hope his isn’t as STUPID as his older brother.

And one other thing of note. Carly owns a book store – which is cool – but I hate the name of her bookstore; Bodice Rippers and Baubles. The only type of books she sells are romance books. I didn’t find that entirely believable – that she would make a success with such limited options.

Grade: 3 out of 5 – it would have been higher except for the hero taking the wrong train.

Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase

Why this one: Because it’s Loretta Chase! I’ve read almost all her books excluding her earliest Trads and while I have Lord Perfect and Not Quite a Lady, I haven’t read them yet. But I decided to jump ahead and read YSW because of the great buzz

Steam Level: Just the way I like it

Back Cover Blurb: James Cordier is all blueblood and entirely dangerous. He's a master of disguise, a brilliant thief, a first class lover--all for King and country--and, by gad, he's so weary of it. His last mission is to “acquire” a packet of incriminating letters from one notorious woman. Then he can return to London, and meet sweet-natured heiresses--not adventuresses and fallen women.

Francesca Bonnard has weathered heartbreak, scorn, and scandal. She’s independent, happy, and definitely fallen; and she's learned that “gentlemen” are more trouble than they're worth. She can also see that her wildly attractive new neighbour is bad news.
But as bad as James is, there are others far worse also searching for Francesca's letters. And suddenly nothing is simple--especially the nearly incendiary chemistry between the two most jaded, sinful souls in Europe. And just as suddenly, risking everything may be worth the prize.

My Thoughts: I’ve seen in a few places that this one rates as high as Lord of Scoundrels. For me it wasn’t quite that good – but then very few book are. But aside from the comparison, I liked this one very much. It was refreshing in a number of ways. First off the setting is Venice rather than England. That alone gives it bonus points. Secondly, the heroine is an unabashed courtesan. Francesca made no bones or no apologies for what she did for a living. And I really liked her character. She was intelligent and fun.

James was a good match for Francesca. He was quite a hoot in his pursuit of Francesca. He acted totally out of character from himself. Yet I loved that she remained calm – at least on the outside. She really made him work for herself. I like that in a heroine. And I really adored her later on when we got to see some her vulnerabilities. And I give kudos to James for not holding it against her for her life and for wanting to marry her anyway.

Overall this was quite an enjoyable read.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Tall Tales and Wedding Veils by Jane Graves

Why this one: I’ve read all of Ms. Graves books and enjoyed them.

Level of Steam: Between warm and hot

Author Web site blurb:

Marry in haste...

Accountant Heather Montgomery is a planner. So never in her wildest dreams did she think she'd run into sexy charmer Tony McCaffrey in Vegas, play lady luck, and celebrate his jackpot with a champagne-soaked night. And she certainly never expected to wake up the next morning married! How could this good girl pick a man whose fridge is empty and whose apartment is a disaster zone, yet still drives her so crazy with lust she can't see straight?

Lust at leisure!

Quickly hitched and happily ditched, Tony can't wait to get back to his playboy ways. But when Heather's family is thrilled that their no-nonsense daughter is finally in love, he proposes a plan: stay married for a month to repay his good luck charm, even though she sterilizes his toothbrush and forbids anything between the sheets. But Heather is more than he bargained for--a sharp-witted, passionate woman who just might turn his near miss into wedded bliss!

My Thoughts: Ms. Graves has a wonderful way of taking a character you’re not sure you are going to like and writing them in such a way that by the time you’ve finished the book, you quite like that person. She did it with the character of Darcy McDaniel in Hot Wheels and High Heels and now she has done it with Tony McCaffery. I must admit when I first started reading, I didn’t really care for his character. He was a real player and that isn’t my favourite type of character. But as the book went on and his past is slowly revealed, I came to like him better and better.

But what I really enjoyed in this book was Heather, the heroine. When she wakes up the next morning and realizes they were married, her reaction is horror – much to Tony’s surprise who thinks she will be upset when he says it was a mistake.

I loved her character. She isn’t the brainless beauty that Tony usually dates, but she knows her own worth. She doesn’t take any crap from him and doesn’t hesitate to dress him down - in very funny ways. She’s had kind of crush on him for a while but she still sees him for the player he is.

The secondary characters are also quite interesting from Heather’s best friend to her cousin who’s getting married – with Heather as a Very Reluctant Bridesmaid. This one recently got an A at AAR and I can see why. It’s so refreshing to read a straight contemporary. They are getting more and more rare

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Midnight Rising by Lara Adrian

Why this one: I’ve read the previous three books in this series and I’ve really enjoyed them

Steam Level: Hot!!

Author Website Blurb: In a world of shadows and dark, consuming hungers, desire is the deadliest weapon…

The Breed Warrior Rio has endured a shattering betrayal of the heart – one that has left his body scarred and broken, his mind on the brink of madness. For him, redemption seems out of reach, and never more so than when he finds himself craving a fiery tabloid reporter in pursuit of a story that’s closer to the truth than she could ever imagine. A dangerous seduction begins, blurring the lines between predator and prey, lover and enemy…

My Thoughts: I haven’t got caught up in the whole JR Ward and BDB phenomenon, But I have in this lesser known (and lesser appreciated I think) vampire series. What I like about this series over the BDB series is the heroines are much stronger – they seem to be on a more equal footing with the heroes and I think the world building is more consistent, something I’ve said before about the previous books. The strong bond behind The Breed is just as strong I think.

This book is Rio’s story. Near the end of the first book he was badly injured in an explosion and it turned out he and his fellow band of warriors were betrayed by his breed mate.

Scarred both inside and out, he feels he is no longer any use as a Warrior and after his final mission, blowing up a cave that once held one of the monsters they were all descended from, he was going to seal himself inside the cave.

But before he can do that, our heroine, finds him hiding out in the cave and proceeds to take pictures. She plans on doing an article for a rag type newspaper. She’s a journalist but at the time, this is the only kind of work she can find. As this could reveal things that are not to be known about the Breed, Rio has no choice but to ditch his suicide plans and follow her and take her captive. But much to his dismay, she is a breed mate, one of the few humans that can mate with Breeds and as such is to be treated with care and reverence.

Because Rio is so damaged, he has trouble controlling himself at times and suffers breakdowns. When Heather witnesses one she is terrified. But she gradually begins to see beneath the surface to the tender, kind and honourable man underneath.

I was fortunate to read the first four books of this series in a relatively short period of time but alas now I have a longer wait for the next one. But I have a feeling it will be worth it as so far I have quite enjoyed each and every one of these books.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5


Lori said...

I love Jane Graves! That's one I've been dying to read. I was holding out on the new Loretta Chase in the hopes that she'd be at RWA and I'd buy it there, but she isn't on the list, so I need to buy it... now! Thanks for the great reviews, Kristie!

Christine said...

Great reviews, Kristie!!
I'm so glad you are enjoying the Midnight Breeds. I love that series! :D

ReneeW said...

Looks like we are on the same page with TT&WV. I loved it too and gave it a B+. I just finished an older book of hers (Light My Fire) and was pleasantly surprised (another B+). Graves is turning out to be one of my favorite contemporary authors. I've got the Chase book on my wishlist so I'm glad you liked it. I've only read one of the Breed series (Midnight Awakening) but I may have to get MR.

Stacy~ said...

I'm reading "Lord Perfect" now. Something I will say for Chase - other than LoS, it takes me awhile to get into her books, but then I really enjoy them.

I keep hearing good things about Jane Graves, so I'm adding that to my list. And I need to catch up on Lara Adrian.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reviews, Kristie.

The Jane Graves novel looks interesting, and maybe I even get the Loretta Chase one with all the buzz going about it. We're definitely on the same page about Lara Adrian. :) How many months are there until December again?

Kristie (J) said...

Lori: you will have to hold out on the Jane Graves book because she will be at RWA. If I'd been thinking right - of if the list had been announced sooner :( I would have waited until then to get it so I could get her to sign it for me. Have you read any of her books under Jane Sullivan in the Harlequin line? I've really enjoyed the ones I've been able to find there too!

Christine: I didn't think I'd like the Adrian books as much as I have been since I'm not much of a vampire book lover, but I'm really liking these ones. I've surprised myself *g*

Renee: Hey!! Good to 'see' you. I've read all her Jane Graves books and except for one - I'm blanking on the title, I've really enjoyed all of them. She's up there with Susan Andersen and Rachel Gibson on my favourite contemporary author list.

Stacy: *g* as I said to Lori, I'm sure TTAWV will be available in SF. It gets a 'thumbs up, you should get it' from me. And while I quite enjoy Loretta Chase's books - one of the few historical authors I still read, still, I haven't read one quite as good as LOS since then - but I still say she is an author I strongly recommend.

Taja: I think Jane Graves is somewhat a buried treasure author. She doesn't seem to get the same buzz that other authors do - but I'm doing my best to spread the word *g*.
And December does seem a long way off doesn't it? *sigh* So long to wait for my next Adrian fix, when I had the first four so handy.

MaryKate said...

I adore Lara Adrian's books! I'm glad to hear you liked Rio's story. I was nervous about it, because IMO, Book 4 in the series is when JR Ward went off the rails for me. So I was relieved to see Lara keep up the quality of her series.

I have the new Chase, but haven't read it. Other than Lord of Scoundrels, I haven't liked another single one of her books, so I'm hesitant to read this one. I'll get to it sooner or later.

pidute said...

I might give Lara Adrian because like you i was not very impressed by JR WARD but lately i have been a bit fed up with vampire.
Great reviews !

Katie(babs) said...

My next read is Your Scandalous Ways. :D
As for the Lara Adrian series... eh.

Gwen said...

Couldn't agree more on Adrian's heroines! They're much stronger than the BDB gals and I like them much more. I still think Ward's world is more interesting, but that may be because I found her books before Adrian's.

Kwana said...

Thanks for the reviews! I love them. More for the TBR pile. Sigh...

Tracy said...

I just loved Rio's story! *sigh* Can't wait for the next Adrian book.

Ciara said...

Oh Noooos! How could a hero abandon his heroine? That's not hero material at all. :(

Loretta's latest is high on my TBR pile. I lurve her, even though Lord of Scoundrels is NOT my favorite. *ducks* It was good, but I like my heroes a little more heroic and a little less tortured.

I've never read Jane Graves. Thanks for the rec! I wonder if she'll be at RWA...

little alys said...

Woo, Jane Graves sounds interesting. Is if on the fun side of romance? Must add to TBR pile.
Great reviews!!! Horray to new authors to read!

Carolyn Jean said...

Thanks for the great reviews! Oh, that hero really went wrong in the werewolf story. But I'm glad you liked Scandalous - I can't wait to read it! and Midnight Rising - SO great! I'm into that over BDB, too, not that I'm off the crack entirely...

Mina Wolf said...

Personally, Lord Perfect was my favorite Loretta Chase book after LOS. I "felt" the book on so many levels. It probably helped that I was vacationing in England at the time.

Sarai said...

Sigh I so do love your book reviews. I have to check a few of them out!