Saturday, April 11, 2009

Recent Reads

Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

Why this one: It’s Lisa Kleypas – nuff said

Level of Steam: I might put it back in the microwave to make it hotter – but not for the required length of time

Blurb: As advice columnist “Miss Independent,” Ella Varner thought she had all the answers, but when her sister, Tara, leaves her brand-new baby with their mother and then disappears, Ella discovers that problems in the real world are not quite as easy to solve as those in print. Ella’s mother insists that she come and deal with the situation, since the very idea of her being a grandmother will ruin her social life. When Ella arrives in Houston, her first goal is to find the baby’s father—one of Tara’s friends believes it’s millionaire Texas real-estate developer Jack Travis. When Ella shows up at Jack’s office, she is surprised to discover that not only is Jack more considerate than she imagined—especially since he insists the baby is not his—but way sexier than she thought possible.

My Thoughts: I loved the first two books in this series Sugar Daddy and Blue Eyed Devil and I loved this one, but it didn’t give me the same kind of emotional punch that the first two did. And for the first time in the series, I missed Jack’s POV. In the first two, the heroine was dynamic enough and interesting enough that I didn’t notice the lack of the hero’s POV but not so in this one.

Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoyed it – but not quite as much as the first two. You can find all kinds of reviews in blogland so I thought I’d go different and just post my ‘what worked’ and ‘what didn’t work’ thoughts.

What Worked

Jack. Another great Travis hero, I loved how he stepped right up and helped Ella out with baby Luke. Even though he knew Luke wasn’t his son, he was more than willing to do anything Ella needed.

That even though he said Texas men liked missionary – he also liked it other ways – heh heh heh

Ella. I thought she was a great heroine. She seemed to be the opposite of every other woman that Jack dated and I like that she wasn’t taken in (too much) by his wealth and position. She was practical and I liked that about her. I love how much she loved Luke.

I like how she overcame her past. Living with a mother like hers wouldn’t have been too easy.

And I loved her reaction to the steak dinner she had with Jack *g*

What didn’t work

I was somewhat uncomfortable with the whole set-up of Luke’s father. They hypocrisy of it all bothered me and the fact that despite what was planned, he was going to get away with it all.

Tara. I just did not like her character. I wasn’t sure what we were supposed to feel for her; whether we were supposed to dislike her or feel sorry for her and I would have liked to be either a little more likeable or a little less likeable. And I really despised her plans for the future.

I know I’m being very vague here but I don’t want to give spoilers and hopefully those who have read the book know what I’m talking about and those who haven’t plan to some time.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Once an Outlaw by Debbi Rawlins

Why this one: It’s a Western and a Time Travel and a Blaze which are hotter than some of the other lines Harlequin has to offer. I love both those genres so I snapped it up. What put it on the top of the list was the review I read at Dear Author and the fact I’m way behind in my reading and reading a Harlequin books is nice and quick.

Steam Level: Though it takes this one to come to a boil, once it does, it’s nice and steamy.

Blurb: In the rough-and-tumble town of Deadwood in 1876, cowboy Sam Keegan is about as hard as they get. Considered a real sexy piece of man by the local womenfolk, Sam runs the town livery stable. And he was last seen in the company of a pretty gal in a wedding dress, Reese Winslow…who escaped one of the local brothels!

The little lady claims to be a doctor—from the future, no less! Beware of her, as she's causing no end of problems. Mostly for Sam, who is real skittish about the law. But trouble or not, the man can't seem to stop himself from wanting Reese…and learnin' firsthand what women from the future like to do with hot, hard cowboys!

My Thoughts: First off – who on earth wrote that back cover blurb? It’s awful and doesn’t really portray the book at all!!!

Series books are shorter and as Wendy pointed out in her review of this one at The Good, The Bad, The Unread, it really could have done with about 20 more pages, but nevertheless, I really enjoyed it.

When Reese finds herself back in the past, in the Western town of Deadwood, in a brothel no less, she finds it hard to take in at first. That only makes sense. But once she escapes from the brothel, she is offered sanctuary by Sam Keegan. What a yummy hero he was. And no – there was nothing in the book about all the womenfolk considering him a real sexy piece of man. That part is just made up on the back and stupid as far as I’m concerned. Sam is a great, typical, Western kind of hero and an example of why I love the genre so much. He is tormented still by the actions he was forced into at the end of the Civil War and as a result sees himself as a bad person. But Reese and the reader know that he isn’t; that he is a caring, protective, gentle and a very fine hero.

While it takes him a while to believe Reese and her wild story of coming from the future, eventually he believes it.

For the shortened length for me this one really packed a nice wallop. This is the second Blaze book in a row that I’m giving a high grade on. And since it was out in March and this is now April, the sequel dealing with Ellie, Reese’s younger sister is out and is my current read. Although written by a different person, I am enjoying it too – and best of all there is a third book in this ‘Stolen from Time’ line coming in May.

So if your are looking for a pretty good Time Travel, a pretty good Western and a book that can be read in a day and up your reading numbers, then this is the one for you.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5


And while playing with the new blogger - and with Lea's poll in mind, I have a poll on the right. Boy are they ever easy with this new blogger layout!!


Wendy said...

Since I know how much you love TT, I had a feeling you'd really like the Blaze. I liked it, didn't love it - and yeah, I really wanted another 20 pages or so. You'll have to let me know how Ellie's story turns out for you. I don't have it in the TBR, but I can be swayed.

Oh, and guess what book I just started reading *sing song voice*? One less book for you to Wendy Wendy Wendy me about in July.....

orannia said...

Thank you for the review of STS/ I like the way you did it...and I'm looking forward to reading it :)

I hope your Easter weekend is going well!

Kristie (J) said...

Wendy: *humongus gulp* I'm guessing I know which book your talking about - and now I've my fingers crossed it lives up to expectations for you.
As for OAG - I'm not enjoying it quite as much as OAO - but it is nice to get Ellie's story.

Orannia: I did it a bit different because there are so many reviews for this one on blogs and review sites now that I would only be rehashing probably what most others say.

Caro said...

Loved STS. I think your comments about Tara are right on. Soemtimes I wanted to give her a swift kick; at other times, she was verging on sympathetic.
Kristie, do you know if Kleypas is planning to write Joe's book?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kristie! Really enjoyed your review.

Caro, Lisa was at Romance Novel TV and Eloisa's bulletin board and said she is working on a new series called Friday Harbour about guys and boats, no further details. I think Joe and Carrington are on the back burner...but who knows! He could show up in Friday Harbour series. Which are some islands off Washington State coast.

Kristie (J) said...

Anonymous: Thanks for answering Caro's question!! I thought I read somewhere that was the case. I hope that sometime we also get Joe's story - as well as Carrington.

Caro: Tara was a very confusing character wasn't she? I could never be quite sure whether I liked her or not. I felt sorry for her - no question about it, but I also felt she was a very selfish, self-absorbed person and I'm not sure she could ever overcome those character deficiencies.

Kate Diamond said...

I've never read a Lisa Kleypas contemporary. In part, this is because I love her historicals so much! Do you think I should make the attempt?

Carolyn Jean said...

OMG, that Blaze sounds amazing.

Kristie (J) said...

Kate: Ack - I though I'd responded!! But what I said in the comment that disappeared was I understand your hesitation. I was a bit dismayed at first too when I heard she was moving to contemporaries - but relieved that she was also still going to write historicals. But once I read Sugar Daddy, I felt bad that I'd been somewhat ambivalent. It was a wonderful book and the next one was even better!! It taught me a lesson I tell you :)

CJ: It was very good and I liked it a lot!! The next one - meh - but the one after that I'm looking forward to.