Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Recent Reads

Healing Luke by Beth Cornelison

Why this one: It was another impulse buy. I was in the bookstore and the title jumped out at me - I love a wounded hero. Then the cover appealed to me. And when I read the storyline, it called to me.

Steam Level: Warmish

Ladies' man Luke Morgan has the world at his feet until a freak explosion leaves him burned and bitter. Luke's family offers gutsy occupational therapist Abby Stanford a job facilitating Luke's physical therapy, but Luke wants no part of his family's schemes or Abby's help. When sparks fly between Luke and Abby, Luke must face his deepest fears in order to claim the woman who brought his family together and taught him the real meaning of love.

My Thoughts: This was the book I was reading when I thought of keeping books versus keeper books. I'm keeping this one, but while close, it's not a keeper book.

Luke was a player - a love 'em and leave 'em kind of guy. But that kind of lifestyle was leaving him cold and he had mainly given it up when he was seriously injured in a boat explosion. He was burned, lost the sight in one eye and his right hand was badly damaged. This has turned i him into a pretty bitter guy.

Abby has had the shock of her life when she caught her fiance cheating on her. Instead of canceling her honeymoon trip, she decides to go on her own. But her self confidence is badly shaken and she's feeling pretty gun shy.

She first meets Luke when she plans on going diving through the family owned business that Luke used to be a part of. He's quite surly with her, but she still feels a 'pull' towards him. But when she meets his 'still in the game' older brother, Aaron, and he asks her out, Abby goes out on a date with him. Although Luke is gruff to the max and tells himself it doesn't bother him, deep down it does.

Aaron notices that Luke seems to come out of his bitter shell a bit more around Abby and along with their dad, convinces Abby to work for them, part to fill in for Luke and part to work as Luke's therapist in dealing with his hand injury.

I really enjoyed the character of Luke. He was in the process of changing when his whole world was rocked. He was angry and bitter and since it hadn't been that long, I could see and understand why he was the way he was. Along with everything else, he didn't think any woman would want to be with him. I'm a sucker for a 'tortured' type hero and Luke was right up my alley.

Abby was a bit more problematic for me though. She certainly sent out mixed messages to Luke who was already reeling. "yes there is something between us - that's why I'm going out with your brother"
"Yes there is something between us, but it cannot be since I mistrust all men because of what my finance did.
It's no wonder poor Luke was confused. I know she had her own issues, but she mixed her issues up with Luke which I felt was slightly unfair.

Now - reading this, one might get the impression I didn't really care for this book. But I did like it. I didn't love it, but I think the author has potential.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

Why this one: I got this one because of Rosie's glowing recommendation

Steam Level: Nice and Steamy!

Blurb: A beautiful fugitive—wanted dead or alive.

Kyra is a con woman and a particular kind of thief. She steals with a touch, but she only takes one thing: her target’s strongest skill. Which means she can be a fighter, an athlete, a musician, an artist—anything she wants… for a limited time. Heartbroken, she turns her gift toward avenging her father’s murder; with deadly patience, Kyra works her way into casino owner Gerard Serrano’s inner circle. After pulling off the ultimate con, she flees with his money and his pride.

A hit man who never misses the mark.
Reyes has nothing but his work. Pity for Kyra, he’s the best and mercy never sways him once he takes a job. He’s been hired to find out where Kyra hid the cash—and bring her back to face Serrano’s “justice.” Dead will do, if he can’t locate the loot. He’s never failed to complete a contract, but Kyra tempts him with her fierce heat and her outlaw heart. So Reyes has a hell of a choice: forsake his word or kill the woman he might love.

My Thoughts: Thanks Rosie!! I love a book with shades of gray and this one certainly fit the bill. Kyra is a con woman. She and her father had lead their lives running cons. But when a Vegas good fella is responsible for the death of Kyra's father, she runs a big con on him, humiliating him for all it's worth. Now she is one the run from his wrath, along with several million dollars she got out of the deal.

Reyes is the man that was sent after her. A bona fide hit man with his own peculiar moral code, he was told that it was Kyra who turned on her father, resulting in his death. But when he tracks her down she just isn't what he was expecting and it doesn't take long for him to figure out he'd been lied to and he gives his allegiance to Kyra. The only problem - she doesn't know he's a hit man, thinking him just a drifter who partners up with her.

Kyra also had this additional talent that lends itself well to her talents and it's also kept her fairly isolated her whole life. When she touches someone, their 'talent' is transferred to her whether it be in pool, darts, martial arts or singing.

Kyra and Reyes have amazing chemistry together. And when Reyes falls for Kyra, he is wrecked for her. I do so love that in a hero. For her part, due to her unusual upbringing, Kyra has lead a lonely and solitary life and although very reluctant at first to let Reyes into her heart, she eventually can't help herself. These two, while very gray, did have their own morals they lived by. Reyes only killed people who deserved killing and Kyra only conned people who deserved conning. I found them both fascinating. I enjoyed their rather twisted but understandable morals. When Kyra finds out the hidden agenda Reyes had, and of course she did, she is devastated but still smart enough to know that she still needs his help. And Reyes, for his part is also deeply affected, for the first time in his life he met someone he truly cared for. But he is determined to help her and keep her alive not matter what it might cost him.

Not long ago I read Linda Howard's Death Angel where the hero of that one was also an assassin and really enjoyed it. I can now say the same thing for Skin Game

Grade: 4.5 out of 5


Wendy said...

Beth Cornelison also writes romantic suspense for Harlequin. I just read her October SRS (review should be over at Sybil's tonight or tomorrow - I think?) and enjoyed it. Didn't love it, but a good read.

I bought the Ava Gray this week despite the paranormal elements (hello burn out!). Rosie said it was dark, and that was enough for me. Picked it up at a local UBS that also sells new books :)

Kristie (J) said...

Wendy: The paranormal elements in Skin Game are very low key. I don't know if it's marked as paranormal but if it is, it's a bit of a misnomer IMO. I'll be curious to see what you think of it.
I did see that Beth Cornelison also writes for Harlequnin, but that's a line I don't read too often.

farmwifetwo said...

Beth Cornelison, I have tried more than once. She was recommended by Cathy Mann - back in the day when I read hers. I did read her latest book out just a month or so again. Thought I'd give it a try... probably on my goodreads pg somewhere...

She likes to write whiny females and tortured hero's... that IMO both slip into the TSTL too often to sympathise with either by the end.

I don't mind damaged characters... but I do hate indecisive and whininess.

Katie Mack said...

Even though I usually avoid paranormals, I'm putting Skin Game on my list because it definitely sounds intriguing. Glad to hear that the paranormal aspects are low key.

Marissa said...

Healing Luke sounds like a read I could enjoy, never heard of the writer before but I will check her out. As for Skin Game I have it on the tbr pile, have heard nothing but good things about it... really need to read that one fast.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Can you please answer the email we sent you about the next get together. If you don't use the email address anymore give us one to use that you do.
Deb/Fanshawe Ladies

nath said...

The Beth Cornelison caught my eye, but I was undecided and in the end, ended up not buying. Perhaps I can borrow it the next time we see each other :P

and I finally caved and I got Skin Game. Hopefully, I'll like it :)

Great reviews, Kristie :D

orannia said...

Thank you Kristie. I'm kind of on the fence with Skin Game. The fact that the heroine is a con artist doesn't really appeal; however, I did enjoy Grimspace (I'm in the process of writing a post about that :) I might keep it (Skin Game) in mind...

Kristie (J) said...

FarmWifeTwo: Sounds like I won't be doing a steady diet of Beth Cornelison then. Not sure I'd ever get tired of tortured heroes *g* but whiny heroines would send me over the edge.

KatieMack: So far most of the reviews for this one seem to be pretty positive - and I can see why. Like I said, I like ambiguous characters and these both quality - with very low key paranormal elements.

Marissa: Healing Luke wasn't the best book, but it has potential. There was also the potential for an interesting next book too - with some adjusting. Don't want to say much more then that.
And Skin Game is quite interesting!

123123: Thanks for stopping by!!

Deb: Email answered !!

Nath: I think we can arrange that!! And fingers crossed that you like Skin Game.

Orannia: She's a con artist - but a con artist with a sense of conscious. She only scams those who - well I won't say deserve exactly - to be scammed. But there is one scene where she runs into someone who she knows is a good person and has no intentions of scamming her.

kanishk said...

I don't know if it's marked as paranormal but if it is, it's a bit of a misnomer

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