Sunday, October 04, 2009

Recent Reads – the Lightning Reviews

Although I haven’t been blogging much lately, I have been reading and reading some good books as well as a not so good book or two. I don’t want these to get missed so these are the quickie mini review version. I’ll forgo the main stuff and go right the My Thoughts

Warning though - the fonts have a mind of their own and are completely wonky. I've tried fixing them but alas it's all too no avail

Never Love A Lawman by Jo Goodman

Rachel Bailey may seem like just a beautiful newcomer to most of Reidsville, Colorado, but Sheriff Wyatt Cooper knows she's much more. Through a twist of fate, Rachel is the inheritor of a very valuable commodity: control of the railway that keeps the isolated mining town connected to the world. That is, she will be, if she agrees to the surprising stipulation in her benefactor's will -- that she marry Wyatt.

Rachel has no choice: refusing the marriage could put all of Reidsville in the hands of an outsider -- and not just any outsider, but the cruel tyrant she has come here to escape. Yet living with Wyatt will be her greatest challenge. For he has a tempting way about him that makes Rachel forget theirs is a marriage in name only -- until her frightening past shows up to remind them exactly how much they have at stake...

My Thoughts: One of the things I find so appealing about Ms. Goodman’s books is the rich writing and intricate stories – so much so that characters you know at the end get aren’t really how the characters you see at the beginning. Her books can’t be read quickly; instead they are best read in small bites in order not to miss her characterisations. I’ve noticed this especially since The Compass Club series.

Because this style of writing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, there are some readers who aren’t as big of fans as I am. I think those readers just might want to try this one now. NLAL is a lot lighter book by Jo Goodman than I’ve read for a while. It was a bit disconcerting as I was expecting another deep read. So I think those readers who like a slightly lighter quicker read should give this one a try. And it is a Western.

What I always do love about Jo Goodman’s characters is their intelligence and NLAL is no exception. Both Wyatt and Rachel are smart, savy and great characters. Rachel keeps very much to herself and doesn’t let anyone get too close. She’s a favourite fantasy amongst the men of the town but she keeps them all at arms length. This all changes when Wyatt brings her the news that an old friend has passed away and left her quite a nice inheritance. But it comes with strings. One of the biggies is that she and Wyatt must marry. She is quite hesitant with this one, but Waytt convinces her that the town depends on her. She doesn’t want it to be a ‘real’ marriage, but once again, this is a romance so of course nature takes its course between the two of them. The dialogue, as always, is witty and fun and Rachel and Wyatt are both quite believable. The secondary characters are interesting and there is a nice secondary romance.

This one isn’t my favourite Goodman book, but nevertheless, it’s still a nice read. And it is a Western.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Where the Wind Blows by Caroline Fyfe

Chase Logan liked being a loner, a drifter, free and clear as a mountain stream. But one look into Jessie Strong's sky blue eyes and in the span of a heartbeat, he found himself agreeing to be her husband--and a father!

Jessie knew it was all pretend. And only temporary. Just until the adoption went through for three-year-old Sarah. But the longer Chase stayed, the less she could imagine a long, lonely Wyoming winter without him.

Times may be tough--supplies short and danger

just outside the doorstep--but with the strength of the pioneer spirit and the warm glow of love in their hearts, Chase and Jessie are determined to have a true family at last, no matter ...WHERE THE WIND BLOWS

My Thoughts: I got this book when I read Sandy M’s review at The Good, The Bad, the Unread during The Great Western Drive. It sounded right up my alley – and it was. It was a Golden Heart winner and I can see why. It’s a gentle story of two lost souls who find each other and along with two orphan children, find their way to making a family.

Chase Logan visited our heroine, Jessie Strong, to let her know about her husbands death. But he inadvertently finds himself staying to help her out of a jam. She wants to adopt a little girl and is afraid that her husband’s death will prevent that from happening. So she coerces Logan into playing her husband. Logan doesn’t plan on staying, but things get more and more complicated as the money her dead husband had that he meant to give to her is stolen, a nosy neighbour interferes and he becomes attached to the children living with Jessie.

Chase is a compassion.

ate, honest, caring Beta kind of hero and Jessie is a strong, loyal heroine who feels bad at the railroading of Logan because of her, yet needing him at the same time.

This is the kind of Western I hope readers are curious enough to try. I think they will enjoy it.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Dangerous Passions by Lisa Marie Rice

Feelings kill faster than bullets.

That is Drake's creed. A legend, a renegade, a ruthless, powerful enigma understood by no one and feared by all, Viktor "Drake" Drakovich heads up a billion-dollar empire—and shows no mercy to the many enemies who would stop at nothing to destroy him. He is a man with no love and no weakness, until...

Grace Larsen takes Drake's breath away the first time he sees her—and quickly becomes his obsession. Never before has he burned for someone the way he desires this hauntingly beauti

ful artist who is plagued by troubling dreams. He aches to possess her, to protect her, to carry her to new heights of sensuous arousal and rapturous release.

But entering Drake's world means becoming a target—for relentless, bloodthirsty foes have been eagerly waiting for him to expose his weak spot. And the price of their passion may be their lives.

My Thoughts: Ahhhh – another Lisa Marie Rice book I really enjoyed. I find the key to her books is not to read them close together. They start reading very similar, but if you read them far apart, they are very enjoyable.

This one garnered some controversy when it came out due to the nature of Drake’s profession and the fact that the heroine shrugged it off, yet was all freaky that he didn’t sell drugs. I’ll confess, while I can see their point, this one didn’t bother me. I love Lisa Marie Rice’s books for the hero’s absolute devotion to her heroines and this one was no exception. Drake was loooove struck from the first moment he saw a painting by Grace and when he saw her, he deviated from his life of complete security so he could observe her from a distance once a month. But as you can imagine, a gun runner has many enemies and he was sold out to one of them. There was an attack on him while he was Grace’s once a month visit to the art gallery and in order to protect and save her, once they escape from his enemy, Drake takes her to his secured location.

Now in real life, to have someone this devoted; this obsessed, would be creepy but in a Lisa Marie Rice book, if you can suspend belief enough, you have a hero who is wrecked for the heroine and would do anything – anything to save her. And this can be pretty darn compelling in a work of Romantic Suspense. I found it so anyway and I think this just might be my favourite of her books so far. Drake is so gone for Grace. He’s mysterious and sexy and focused on Grace. In most of LMR’s books, the heroines are troubled innocents and this one is no exception. But I liked Grace, I really did.

If you can suspend belief, not let a gun running obsessed hero bother you, then this is a great book.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare

In this lush and seductive novel, exciting new author Tessa Dare takes desire to brazen heights. Ever the bold adventuress, Lucy Waltham has decided to go hunting for a husband. But first she needs some target practice. So she turns to her brother's best friend, Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall, to hone her seductive wiles on him before setting her sights on another man. But her practice kisses spark a smoldering passion -- one that could send all her plans up in smoke. Jeremy has an influential title, a vast fortune, and a painful past full of long-buried secrets. He keeps a safe distance from his own emotions, but to distract Lucy from her reckless scheming, he must give his passions free rein. Their sensual battle of wills is as maddening as it is delicious, but the longer he succeeds in managing the headstrong temptress, the closer Jeremy comes to losing control. When scandal breaks, can he bring himself to abandon Lucy to her ruin? Or will he risk his heart and claim her for his own?

My thoughts: This one got a lot of buzz in Washington and it was one I was really hoping to scoop. But alas, when I got to her table there were no more copies. But being one who enjoys purchasing new authors, I bought a copy later. The reviews have been quite positive for this one, but I'll be honest. When I read the back cover and read things like "bold adventures" and "hone her seductive skills" I was thinking uh oh - not sure if I'll like this one.

But a funny thing happened once I started reading it. I found it charming - utterly and completely charming. Lucy is a stubborn one though. Once she tries her wiles on Jeremy and feels something, she's still determined to go after her other brothers friend Toby. You see, Toby had paid attention to a lonely young girl that Lucy was and she thinks this means they are meant to be, but Toby has his eye on another young woman. Jeremy, on the other hand is a real 'stick in the mud' and Lucy has challenged his stuffiness all their lives.

But instead of being annoying, Lucy is charming and funny and a very enjoyable heroine. And Jeremy is yummers! This book is funny in many places and I found myself smiling and chuckling quite often. I love when that happens. So the buzz has been right. This is a good one.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

Beloved Warrior by Patricia Potter

The conclusion to Potter's 16th century-set Scottish Highland Trilogy (following Beloved Stranger) gives proof to what her fans may already know: Potter keeps getting better with every outing. Sparkling with high seas drama and tender romance, the story of the eldest Maclean brother, Patrick, opens six years into his imprisonment aboard a Spanish slave ship. Following Patrick's plan, he and his fellow oarsmen successfully mutiny, putting him on the route home to Scotland, where he can find out what's become of his family and claim his inheritance. His plan is complicated, however, when he discovers two women among the passengers: the ship owner's daughter, Juliana Mendoza, and her maid, Carmita. Honor-bound to protect them despite his searing hatred for Juliana's father, Patrick keeps the two from the rapacious designs of the other mutineers. Initiall

y distrustful, they're both awakened, soon enough, to the kindness and bravery in each other. Upon reaching Scotland, both have given themselves over to mutual passion, despite Juliana's impending nuptials to a powerful English viscount, a union she can only abandon by imperiling her mother. Potter has an expert ability to invest in fully realized characters and a strong sense of place without losing momentum in the details, making this novel a pure pleasure.

I mentioned during The Great Western Drive that Patricia Potter has written some great Westerns. She is one of my favourite (former – heavy sigh) Western authors. So why I waited so long to read this book is beyond me. I’ve had it since it was published in 2007 and kind of languished there. But thank goodness I finally got around to reading it because I REALLY enjoyed this one!! Think swashbuckling and that gives you a good feel for this one. I haven’t read the previous two books in the series – but that should soon be rectified since I’d barely finished this book when I ordered the first two. Patrick MacLean had been betrayed a number of years earlier

and as a result, was a galley slave on board a Spanish ship. But over the years he’s slowly been working on a plan to free himself and his fellow slaves. Finally his chance comes and while he doesn’t think he has much of a chance, he’s willing to die trying rather then die as a slave. Much to his surprise, the plan works and he and his group take over the ship. But on board the ship is a young Spanish woman Julianna Mendoza. Although bitter and hardened over the years, Patrick still has a core of honour and protects Julianna from the rest of the mutineers. She was on her way to England to marry a man her father insisted she wed, even though she’s never met him before. This is the last thing she wants to do, but she is willing in order to save her mother who still under the thumb of her ambitious, cold hearted father.

There is a great deal of chemistry between Patrick and Julianna but neither wants to act on it; Patrick because he is still in a great deal of trouble for the mutiny and Julianna is still planning on going through with the wedding. Patrick’s plan is to sail the ship to Scotland where he will set Julianna free. But this is

a romance, so they give into the growing feelings they have for each other and plans change.

As mentioned, this is the third in the series, but it read quite well as a stand-alone. Patrick’s two brothers play large roles in the story and now I’m really wanting to read their stories. These books take place in the sixteenth century, a refreshing change of time.

Beloved Warrior is a great swashbuckling type of story and I can hardly wait until the first two arrive in the mail – that will be a good mail day

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

The Kept Woman by Susan Donovan

WHEN A GOOD-GIRL DIVORCE Playing by the rules has left Samantha Monroe with an AWOL ex-husband, maxed out credit cards, and the task of raising three children on a hairstylist''s salary. It''s time for a new game plan. When Sam learns that politician Jack Tolliver needs someone to play the part of his fiance for six months in return for a generous paycheck, she''s ready to sign up on the spot. MEETS A BAD-BOY POLITICIAN Jack needs Sam and her kids to help tone down his image from womanizing cad to dependable dad. But he was expecting Sam to be a frumpy single mom, not a wickedly smart, sexy redhead. Keeping nosey newshounds from discovering that his engagement is a charade is going to be a tough job, but one mind-blowing kiss from Sam and suddenly Jack is ready to put in all the overtime necessary... LOVE WINS IN A LANDSLIDE... Now, with scheming opponents itching to bring Jack down, Sam''s ex returning to stir up trouble, one stubborn pre-schooler, two squabbling teenagers, a crazy dog, and some out-of-this-world sex, Jack and Sam are discovering that playing make-believe can be complicated-but not nearly as much as falling in love...
My Thoughts: *sigh* and then we come to this book. I seem to have almost a love/hate relationship with Susan Donovan. I loved everything she had written, specially Take A Chance on Me up until He Loves Lucy which I hated. I start out wanting to love books and it's up to them to be downgraded. Right off the bat I downgraded this one because the hero is a politician and if you read my post down further, I hate politicians. To make matters worse, Jake Tolliver is a playboy politician - double shudder. His campaign manager comes up with a plan to make him more appealing to voters since his dog ways have turned off voters. Unfortunately I just couldn't buy into the solution - not at all. The choice to con the voters is divorced mother of 3, Samantha Monroe, a hair stylist. I just couldn't buy into this solution at all. Why would the voters find this sudden turnaround - from single, dog, bachelor, rich guy who is now engaged to a middle class mother. Didn't work. I got pretty far into the book before admitting defeat and calling it a DNF. It's not the writing. I thinks she's a great writer and I will continue to give her a try. But I just could not warm up - at all - to either the hero or heroine. I'm looking forward to her next book, but The Kept Woman just wasn't for me.

I know - it's odd what I can and can't buy in a story - gun running obsessive guy - no problem. Playboy politician - nope. Grade: DNF


AnimeJune said...

I'm so glad you liked "Goddess of the Hunt"! I wasn't going to buy anymore books but I saw "Surrender of a siren" and "lady of persuasion" at the supermarket and couldn't resist the beautiful covers (or reading more of Toby!).

Soooo looking forward to reading Never Love a Lawman in the worst way!

Wendy said...

I have all of these in the TBR, except for the Lisa Marie Rice.


It might be time to admit that I have a problem.

Renee said...

I've been waiting for my request for Goddess of the Hunt to come in at the library. I also wasn't too sure about it at first, but I keep reading such glowing reviews, so now I'm really looking forward to it!

I love me a good beta hero, and the adoption storyline sounds interesting, so I think I'm going to fhunt down the Fyffe.

Great month's reading, Kristie! :-)

Zeek said...

Donovan's Kept Woman was a DNF for me too. I think I gave up as soon as the unpottytrained kid showed up! haha!

Mary G said...

Hi Kristie
Thoughtful reviews as usual. Love your take on Dangerous Passions by Lisa Marie Rice. I absolutely loved this book & is my fave of hers too. I loved the contrast of this evil world he came from & dealt with and this beautiful love the H & H had for each other. She used some beautiful phrases that made me sigh (many times) like Beth Kery's books do. Even the last line of the book did that. Only 1 thing I can disagree with. I read Dangerous Passions the same week I got Woamn On The Run. No trouble reading 2 of hers back to back LOL.

Lynn Spencer said...

I've got the Caroline Fyffe in my TBR - must inch it closer to the top. I saw somewhere (Dorchester blog, maybe?) that a film of Where the Wind Blows is to begin production this fall.

Taja said...

I actually thought I would pass on Tessa Dare's novel despite the good reviews for the same reason you weren't too sure about it. Thanks to your review, I'll very likely get it now! And probably Jo Goodman's novel as well.

Thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

I just bought on my Kindle Ffyfe and Dare. Thanks for recommendations.

Regards, Ruth

orannia said...

Thank you Kristie! I like the mini-review format BTW :) Oh, and I obviously need to try Jo Goodman!

Kristie (J) said...

AnimeJune: I started the second one but it didn't 'grab' me quite as much as GOTH. Could have been my mood though. I plan on going back to it AND getting the third book in the series.
And I hope you like the Goodman book. As I said, it wasn't my favourite, but what makes her so special for me, is the same thing that keeps some readers from reading her and that thing is less evident in this book, so I think a lot of readers will enjoy it.

Wendy: LOL - I thought you kind of had admitted it - and shrugged it off since the possession of them is half the joy. And my list of books not yet read is huge too *gulp*

Renee: The Dare book surprised me at how much I ended up enjoying it - well, actually I started enjoying it right from the beginning :-)
And here's hoping you find the Fyffe book. It's a wonderful charming story. And it too is a Western :)

Zeek!!! Good to 'see' you. I'm glad I'm not the only one who just didn't 'feel' this one. I do think she's a good writer and I'll keep reading her - but this one just wasn't for me. I find Rachel Gibson similar. I don't like all of her books, but the ones I do like, I really like and it keeps me reading her too.

Mary G: *g* Maybe I'm remembering the Midnight series too much. I read them back to back to back and by the time I got to the third one, I found it very similar to the first one. And yes, the contrast between what he did and how he felt about Grace was very contrasting and interesting. I'm a real Lisa Marie Fan girl - well as much as I'm a fan girl of any author - and I always enjoy her books.

Lynn: After reading your comment, I went looking to see if there was any mention of a movie but I didn't see anything. I did see a trailer on her site though that looked very 'movie-like' But I think it would make for a wonderful made-for-TV movie. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It's wonderful to find a new 'voice' in the Western market!!!!!!!

Taja: *laughing* And I keep adding to you book buying don't I? I think I bought the book before I read the storyline - based on buzz - and when I heard about the heroine was thinking she would be one I couldn't connect with - but I did! Wonderfully so.

Ruth: A Western!!! You got a Western!! Score for that *g*. I hope you enjoy it - and the Dare book! I'm always a little worried when someone gets a book on my rec - just in case they don't like it. But I have confidence in these books that you will. Yes - I do *chuckle*

Orannia: I had so many that I hadn't reviewed due to my *um* hiatus from blogging, and since I enjoyed so many of them, I couldn't not do it.

And if you've never tried Goodman before, then this is a good one to start with. Her writing is very rich and descriptive and deep and that doesn't go over with every reader, but this book has all that on a lighter scale. So this way you can get a 'feel' for whether you like her style or not.

Hilcia said...

KristieJ, I'm so glad you enjoyed the Goodman too! I loved the H/H, the characterization and the quick, lightness in the story. :)

sybil said...

NLAL I think it was a good think to do a lighter book. But it is funny because even Goodman's lighter book wouldn't be so for other authors - or am I alone in thinking that?

Adored the book and SandyM has made this her first Goodman I am hoping she reviews it.

Speaking of SandyM I keep meaning to pick up Where the Wind Blows by Caroline Fyfe.

Ohhhhh thanks for reminding me I need to read the LMR!

I agree Jeremy was yummers and would have given GotH a D. Did not like the slapstick feel of I got in more than a few places but I am thinking I might enjoy the second book more than you.

Agreed about Potter but no view on this book. SO would love her to do another western.

LOLOLOL The Kept Woman by Susan Donovan - loved it *g*.

Sandy M said...

Oh, I just finished the Goodman last night and loved it just like you and Syb did, Kristie. It's my first Goodman and I'm hooked.

And I'm glad you enjoyed the Fyffe on my recommendation. Sometimes those lovely, sweet stories are just what a reader needs.

And LMR! She's a favorite of mine and it's been so long since I've read anything by her. I think it's time again after reading your thoughts about Dangerous Passions.

I've yet to read the Dare but have it lurking in the background. Some day!

Kristie (J) said...

Sandy: The Fyffe book was just the kind you want to cuddle with wasn't it?
And *fist pump* YeS!! on your loving NLaC. You now have a wonderful world of Goodman open to you :) I hope you review it too!!

Sybil: *g* Nope - you aren't alone. I think Goodman-lite is much deeper than many an author too. Though we are different in a couple of other books aren't we?? As for Donovan - this one and He Loves Lucy are the only ones I didn't like - I loved the rest. And *chuckle* our grades are quite different on the Dare book.

Hilcia: It was SO grand to see her write a Western again. And if I'm not mistaken, she has plans for more too!

sybil said...

ohhhhhh I didn't get far at ALL on He Loves Lucy. Totally not my type of book. bah

Next book will take place in Reidsville as well, IIRC it will be center on character we haven't met yet. I could totally be making that up. Should go look at the interview again.