Saturday, December 27, 2008

Recent Reads

Well, I'm coming out of my hole. I managed to survive. That's all I'm going to say because if I think about the past few days - well, I'd just as soon not.

In order to survive though, I've done A LOT of reading!!! I think this my most jam-packed recent reads ever.

Just One of the Guys – Kristan Higgins

Why This One: I can’t remember exactly which review put this one full square into the ‘must buy’ list as there were quite a few good ones, but one of them did. I think it might have been the DA one.

Steam Level: Tepid, but I often drink tea or coffee when it’s cooled down and it just seems to hit the spot

Amazon Blurb: Being one of the guys isn't all it's cracked up to be…

So when journalist Chastity O'Neill returns to her hometown, she decides it's time to start working on some of those feminine wiles. Two tiny problems: #1—she's five feet eleven inches of rock-solid girl power, and #2—she's cursed with four alpha male older brothers.

While doing a story on local heroes, she meets a hunky doctor and things start to look up. Now there's only one problem: Trevor Meade, her first love and the one man she's never quite gotten over—although he seems to have gotten over her just fine.

Yet the more time she spends with Dr. Perfect, the better Trevor looks. But even with the in-your-face competition, the irresistible Trevor just can't seem to see Chastity as anything more than just one of the guys.…

My Thoughts: This was everything the other reviews said it was and I adored it. What was even more surprising was it was told first person, present tense and I still adored it. Chastity was a wonderful character and as the story is told as if we are in her head, this really helps a lot! All her life she’s just been ‘one of the guys’ in a house full of firefighting brothers and a sort of adopted firefighting brother that she brought home when they were both young and a firefighting father. She’s always carried a torch for Trevor Meade and after one weekend years ago, they acted on that special feeling. But then Trevor wanted to go back to just being friends. Chastity is desperate to be both a wife and mother. She sees all her brother happy, well, except for one, but while he and his wife are having serious problems, it’s obvious they still love each other. Finally Chastity meets a great candidate and has to decide whether to finally let her feelings for Trevor go and settle for a bit less.

This book had laugh out its loud moments and it had its poignant moments that almost had me in tears.

I just ordered one of her backlist and I’ll be ordering the rest – guaranteed. And her next book is due out in January so I’ve got that one on the TBB list too!

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

Why This One: Rowena at The Book Binge raved about it and got me wanting to read it.

Steam Level: Tepid, but I often drink tea or coffee when it’s cooled down and it just seems to hit the spot

Author Website Blurb: COOL. CALM. COLLECTED.

Nothing fazes Taylor Donovan. In the courtroom she never lets the opposition see her sweat. In her personal life, she never lets any man rattle her–not even her cheating ex-fiancé. So when she’s assigned to coach People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” for his role in his next big legal thriller, she refuses to fall for the Hollywood heartthrob’s charms. Even if he is the Jason Andrews.


Jason Andrews is used to having women fall at his feet. When Taylor Donovan gives him the cold shoulder, he’s thrown for a loop. She’s unlike any other woman he’s ever met: uninterested in the limelight, seemingly immune to his advances, and shockingly capable of saying no to him. She’s the perfect challenge. And the more she rejects him, the more he begins to realize that she may just be his perfect match. . .

My Thoughts: A big Thank

You to Wena. I really enjoyed this book too! Taylor Donovan is on no-nonsense ambitious lawyer who has come to LA to do work on a case. But she is also ordered, despite her protests, to help out Jason Andrews, Sexiest Man Alive, in a role he is researching. After being stood up twice in a row, she’s not exactly eager to help him and makes thinks very difficult for him – as well she should. Jason is a rich, spoiled actor who is used to people catering to his every whim. He just can’t believe that Taylor isn’t willing to drop everything when he calls. And this intrigues him – quite a bit. And so the hunt is on. Added into the mix is another up and coming actor who is out to replace Jason as the top dog and he wants to date Taylor too in a game of one-up-manship. It was fun to see Jason have to work for Taylor.

Julie James is another author I now have my eye open for!

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

The Healer by Sharon Sala

Why This One: I loved the Author Talk interview she did with Jill Monroe and Gena Showalter. And one of my favourite books of all time – Jackson Rule – is written by Dinah McCall (the one Jill doesn’t like *g* )

Steam Level: While it won’t burn your tongue, it is nice and warm

Amazon Blurb: All his life, Jonah Gray Wolf has had an uncanny connection to animals and the power to heal the sick and wounded. Driven from the only home he's ever known by those who wish to harness his gift for profit, he becomes a drifter, working in out-of-the-way towns, never staying long. It's a lonely life, but Jonah knows he's still being hunted—he can't afford to get close to anyone who might learn his secret.

In West Virginia he finds Luce, a tough but beautiful loner who knows all about keeping people at a distance—a kindred soul with whom he might dare to make a life. But the hunters have caught Jonah's scent again. Danger is coming to their mountain refuge—a confrontation that will be decided only by a force of nature.

My Thoughts: Wowzers, I’ve been on a role. Another one I quite enjoyed. It’s been sitting in the TBR pile for a while now – so I’m very glad I pulled it out to read it!

There’s something very different about Jason Gray Wolf! The story starts out as he is a very small boy being led by a wolf into a tiny town of Alaska. His special powers are revealed when he is still a young boy – he can heal things.

The story picks up years later. He has been on the run for ten years now from one of the people he healed who wants to keep Jason for his own use. He’s sent a number of people to ‘get’ Jason over the years, but all have failed because of the intervention of wild animals. But finally, when Jason meets a young woman, Luce, he decides to stand his ground and fight for the life that’s been stolen from him for so long.

Jason is a fascinating hero!! I wouldn’t call him an Alpha hero. Nor would I call him a Beta hero. Instead he’s something else altogether. While he seems perfectly normal, there is something very mysterious and other-worldly about him.

Lucia is your stock-in- trade heroine. While I liked her, nothing unusual really stood out about her. But Jason – I recommend this book based on his very intriguing character.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Death Angel by Linda Howard

Why This One: I’ve always enjoyed Linda Howards books, but her past couple haven’t been worth the hard cover price. But I heard good buzz on this one and got a squeal of a deal so I decided to give it a try.

Steam Level: She’s written hotter books, but I was fine with the steam level in this one.

Amazon Blurb: A striking beauty with a taste for diamonds and dangerous men, Drea Rousseau is more than content to be arm candy for Rafael Salinas, a notorious crime lord who deals with betrayal through quick and treacherous means: a bullet to the back of the head, a blade across the neck, an incendiary device beneath a car. Eager to break with Rafael, Drea makes a fateful decision and a desperate move, stealing a mountain of cash from the malicious killer. After all, an escape needs to be financed.

Though Drea runs, Salinas knows she can’t hide–and he dispatches a cold-blooded assassin in hot pursuit, resulting in a tragic turn of events. Or does it?

Left for dead, Drea miraculously returns to the realm of the living a changed woman. She’s no longer shallow and selfish, no longer steals or cheats or sells herself short. Both humbled and thrilled with this unexpected second chance, Drea embraces her new life. But in order to feel safe and sound–and stop nervously looking over her shoulder–she will need to take down those who marked her for death.

Joining forces with the FBI, supplying vital inside information that only she can provide, Drea finds herself working with the most dangerous man she’s ever known. Yet the closer they get to danger, the more intense their feelings for each other become, and the more Drea realizes that the cost of her new life may be her life itself–as well as her heart.

My Thoughts: There are a number of 1 star reviews for this one, and to be honest, I find it puzzling. I know not everyone is going to enjoy the same books, but again, (and I’m sounding like a broken record), I really enjoyed this one.

It’s a story of redemption – for both the hero and the heroine. Drea Rousseau (nee Butts) is the arm candy of a drug dealer. While she acts like and air-headed ditz, underneath her hair she is quite savvy. She is making plans to escape her current squeeze, but everything is speeded up when he ‘gives’ her to an assassin. The time they spend together has a profound effect on Drea and she knows it’s time for her to make her escape. But hot on her trail is the assassin. While he admires her for the way she scammed Silas, the drug lord, he has been offered two million dollars to kill her. He’s not quite certain what he’s going to do when he catches her. Before he can though, Drea is in an accident and ‘dies’. But she is given a second chance and takes on a new identity. But Simon, the assassin (we don’t learn his name until half way through the book) has also been profoundly affected by her death and when he discovers by some miracle she survived, he hunts her down.

This is an interesting book. After given a second chance, while Andie who is she has become, has changed, she’s no longer living only for herself, but looking to help others, she is still a lot the same person as she was before. And I think this works well. She’s different enough that we can like her, but still enough of her old self to make her interesting.

And Simon is an interesting character too. We don’t learn very much about him at all – and I think this was done deliberately – and it also works for me. What we do know of him though, is that he is now 100% determined to take care of Andie. While naturally very leery of Simon – he was an assassin after all – she finally lets her guard down enough to see how completely alone he is and her love for him becomes her main priority.

It was SO good to read a Linda Howard book that I really enjoyed again and since I read this one in one day, I know I’ll be rereading it, slower this time, to really savour it.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

You Don’t Know Jack by Erin McCarthy

Why This One: I really enjoyed Flat Out Sexy and decided to give her another go.

Steam Level: This one is real steamy!

Amazon Blurb: Jamie Peters no longer believes in true love. True idiots, true scumbags, true moochers - these she believes in wholeheartedly, and she's got the checkered dating history to prove it. So she's more than a little skeptical when her cross-dressing psychic tells her she's about to meet her soul mate - during an accident. Yeah, sounds about right. And then it happens. A knight in shining armor steps between her and a mugger on a subway platform. Just a regular, honest, upright Jack. The kind they don't make anymore...Jonathon Davidson doesn't believe in destiny - or lying to beautiful women as a rule. But now that Jamie thinks he's just an ordinary guy, how can he possibly tell her that he's really, her roommate's brother, a millionaire to boot, and the jerk who's investigating her application to his grandfather's charitable trust because she may be involved in something illegal? Yeah, rhetorical question. He can't. Not until he knows what's going on. Besides, it would require being able to resist Jamie's luscious curves long enough to say, 'Hi, my name is Big Liar. Let's get naked'. Sometimes, destiny sucks...

My Thoughts: *sigh* I suppose it had to come to an end – this run of good books. While I loved Flat Out Sexy and plan on reading the next one in the series, this one left me cold. I did not like it. At all.

Jack was, well, boring. And Jamie was a ditz. Unlike Drea in the above book who just appeared to be a ditz, Jamie really was one. She was one of those flakes who believes in Destiny – with a capital D. And when a cross dressing former crook turned physic tells her she will meet the man of her dreams, well she just knows that’s going to happen. But when she finds out he lied to her (for believable reasons) why, she just couldn’t give him a chance to explain himself. Again and again and again ad-nauseam we have to read why they cannot be together. Enough already!

The author tries to hard for laughs – that fell totally flat for me, from the cross dressing physic, to the rather nasty obnoxious grandfather – the secondary characters weren’t funny.

And another thing that annoyed the hell out of me – Jack was the brother of one of her roommates. I found it hard to believe they had never met. And I found it hard to believe that Jamie figured if his sister and her roommate knew they were an item, the sister would have been upset so Jamie refused to tell her. Hello – pot – meet kettle.

Grade: 2 out of 5


nath said...

Wow, that's a lot of books for the holidays!! and LOL, I've read them all except for the Linda Howard!!

I really enjoyed Just One of the Guys :) I really enjoyed the relationship between Chastity and Trevor... but what really made the book was Chastity herself :D she was a great heroine :D Her upcoming release sounds great! I do hope it's a bit more romancy though.

Just the Sexiest Man Alive was another good book :D and I really enjoyed the lawyer aspect of it.

I enjoyed the Healer, but I did feel a bit like déjà-vu... I think Ms Sala wrote a similar book some years back. Her next book is The Warrior :)

Anonymous said...

HOLY COW!!!! You read alot, Kristie! I barely had time to breath with all the choas. Oh and I really gotta get my hands on Just The Sexiest Man Alive, it sounds great and I've seen the cover more than once.

azteclady said...

I am very glad you are feeling better, Kristie *hug* and that your reading has helped you cope with the glums.

I also liked Death Angel quite a bit. Haven't read any of the others, but I have Just the Sexiest Man Alive in my wish list. Soon, I'm sure...

Renee said...

Wow! I'm so envious that you got such great reading time in. It sounds like most of them were winners, too.

I loved Kristan Higgins JOotG so much, I ran out and read the previous two. They were also really good, but I think I liked Chastity and Trevor the best. And, I laughed out loud more than once reading this one. I can't wait for Too Good to be True.

That Sharon Sala sounds like its just up my alley. Will definitely check it out.

Too bad about Jack, tho'. I'd also looked at Erin McCarthy's lighter ones after Flat Out Sexy blew my socks off, and this sounded like the most interesting. I think I'll just wait for the sequel to FOS, now.

Great post! :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're feeling better.

I read "Just One of the Guys" and "Just the Sexiest Man Alive." I liked JOotG a lot, especially Higgins's voice, and JtSMA a little less (liked the lawyer-y stuff, found the heroine a bit much). I haven't read the others but I thought about getting "You Don't Know Jack" earlier this month. After reading your comment I'm glad I didn't. Too bad. So it'll be just "Flat Out Sexy."

Thanks for your comments! :)

Lea said...

As always, great comments Kristie! "The Healer", looks very appealing and I may well pick it up.

I've also heard wonderful things about "Just the Sexiest May Alive", I must add that one to my list too.

I read "Veil of Midnight", on Friday and all I can say is, "you were so right"! I LOVED it. Lara Adrian hasn't disappointed me yet though.

Now I have to wait until May for the next one. lol

Do take care, I hope 2009 is a better year for you and yours.


Kwana said...

Holiday Hugs to you Kristie the marathon reader. Thanks for the amazing reviews.

Julie James said...

Kristie: thanks so much for the great review! I'm glad-- for both our sakes-- that Rowena didn't lead you astray. ; ) Hope your days are on an upswing-- and I'm very impressed by the marathon reading!


Stacy~ said...

Wow! You lucky duck you, reading so many books. I'm on a SEP glom right now, but I've only read a few over the holidays.

I loved the Julie James book a lot, and I'm glad you also enjoyed Dark Angel. A lot of people didn't, but I thoroughly did. It worked for me. Erin's book wasn't my favorite by her, but I still enjoyed it, ditz and all.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Just the Sexiest Man Alive and Flat Out Sexy are some of the best contemporaries I have read this year :D

Tracy said...

Wow you did read a ton of books! Good for you. I haven't read any but You Don't Know Jack - which unlike you, I liked, but they all sound good. I'll have to check a couple of these others out.

Giselle said...

Golly Kristie what I wouldn't give for your stamina :) I can hardly lift my fingers to type I'm so tired after the holidays. BTW hope you had a merry one and thanks for the James rec. Sounds like my kind of book. It's on my wish list.