Monday, August 03, 2015

More Recent Reads

I am so woefully behind on these :-(

Face the Fire by Nora Roberts

Why this one: I listened to it in the car while driving to and from my recent visit to sister/RWA

Steam Level: Warm

Genre: Contemporary with a bit of Paranormal thrown in

Outline: Mia Devlin knows what it’s like to love with your whole heart—and then watch your love walk away. Years ago, she and Sam Logan shared an incredible bond built on passion, legend, and fate. But then one day he fled Three Sisters Island, leaving her lost in memories of the magic they shared—and determined to live on her own…

As the new owner of the island’s only hotel, Sam has returned to Three Sisters with hopes of winning back Mia’s affections. He is puzzled when she greets him with icy indifference—for the chemistry between them is still sizzling and true. Angry, hurt, and deeply confused, Mia refuses to admit that a desire for Sam still burns in her heart. But she’ll need his help—and his powers—to face her greatest, most terrifying challenge. And as the deadline for breaking a centuries-old curse draws near, they must take the first step toward destiny—and come together to turn back the dark…

My Thoughts: This audio book did not work for me on so many levels.  I didn’t like the heroine, I didn’t like the hero.  I didn’t care for the supporting characters.  I thought parts of it were downright stupid and it emphasizes all the reasons I do not read Ms. Roberts trilogies any longer.

That’s it in a nutshell though I suppose I should give a bit more detail, otherwise it will sound like one of those ‘crap’ reviews that can be found on Amazon.

I have to start out by saying I’ve loved Nora Roberts for a long time.  I still love her as JD Robb and I still enjoy her single title books though I don’t read that many due to price.  I did very recently purchase Whiskey Beach and Honest Illusions as ebooks when they were for a good prices.  But I gave up her trilogies a long time ago as the characters seen all interchangeable after having read a number in my earlier romance reading days.  I’m going to come down on the author and it hurts to do so as I have a tremendous amount of respect for her talent but in the trilogies she has 3 basic types, mostly heroines but I have read a series where the heroes fell into this pattern too.

There is what I call, “earth mother (father)” type.  All she (he) really wants is to be a good wife (dad) and possible mother (father).  She’s (he’s)tried to womanly (beta manly) things like cooking, cleaning, raising plants, that kind of thing.  She’s often been abused by a previous boyfriend/husband the hero for this type ‘rescues’ her.

The second type of heroine (hero) is the ‘tough’ type.  She(he) has a tough exterior hiding a heart of gold of course.  She often holds a traditionally more masculine type job, cop, firefighter, works on a boat, that kind of thing.  Eve Dallas for example is this type.

The third type is what I think of as ‘high maintenance’.  Usually this heroine (hero) is very stylish, sure of herself and her place in the world.  High maintenance probably isn’t a fair label, but she is the most confident of the three and has a successful career.

In Face the Fire, Mia is the third type and my least favourite.  I can’t really relate to this type of heroine and in all the trilogies this is my least favourite type.  I didn’t care for Mia; she comes across to me as rather cold even though her ‘element’ is fire.  Yes, she had her heart crushed by Sam when she was very young.  And her parents did pretty much abandon her.  And to keep the hurt at bay she gained a very strong mask, but I still didn’t like her.  And Sam was an awful hero.  He selfishly left her when they were young, breaking her and didn’t even give much of a reason for it.  He doesn’t have anything to do with her for ten years and though he realizes he may have a bit of work ahead of him in getting her back, he figures it’s pretty much a done deal.  Ass hat.

The woo woo part of it didn’t work for me at all either.  Both Sam and Mia are witches though I always thought a male witch was called a warlock.  They are often sending out spells and maybe because I listened instead of reading where I could just skip them they were, well, stupid.  Every time either one went off into spell working land I rolled my eyes, even though I was driving in a car.

I have very little experience with audio books but the reader’s voice didn’t impress me at all.  When she was speaking in the characters voices it was almost like nails on a chalkboard for me.  I winced and hunched my shoulders.

The plot was simplistic – some Evil Force on Sisters Island wants to drive Mia out and take over the island.  This is the third book and The Force tried with Nell, the ‘earth mother, abused wife’ heroine in the first book and failed and then again with Ripley, the ‘tough’ heroine in the second book and now finally with Mia in this one. 

But after finally forgiving Sam and embracing love, Mia triumphs over evil along with the help of her two ‘sisters’ and Sam.  At the risk of being a negative Nellie – gag me.  I don’t give this low of grades often but with so many things working against it for me this gets a very low grade.

Will I listen to it again: Not a chance

Grade: 1 out of 5
Love in the Afternoon by Alison Packard
Why this one: the whole series was on for a Very Good Price as a Kindle Daily Deal
Genre: Contemporary
Steam Level: Pretty darn good.  Not boiling but hot enough for me
Outline: Kayla Maxwell is eager to shed her slasher-flick bimbo image—and she plans to do just that in her new role on daytime’s most popular soap. With a chance to showcase her dramatic range, Kayla will be able to wash away the lingering betrayal and public humiliation left by her controlling, philandering ex-boyfriend.
Sean Barrett, the son of an influential, award-winning actor, is the hottest soap star in the country. Paired on-screen with the talented and beautiful Kayla Maxwell, Sean is determined to keep her at arm’s length, burned before by fame-seeking actresses who had no qualms about using him to get to his famous father.
But when Kayla receives threatening letters, her past as a scream queen seems to be coming back to haunt her. Succumbing to an attraction neither one of them can deny, Sean and Kayla must face down her stalker and their own personal demons before trusting what they both feel—a love that lasts long after the cameras stop rolling.
 My Thoughts: Sometimes, without realizing it I do something really brilliant.  When I saw that this series of books was on for 99 cents each, I took a gamble and bought them all.  I hadn’t read this author before and didn’t hear any buzz on her.  But at 99 cents even if I hated them, it was still less expensive for all of them then it would be for a regular paperback and much to my delight, I really enjoyed it.  Both Kayla and Sean are good, interesting, down to earth people even though they both work in the entertainment industry and are both “beautiful” people.  They meet since they are on the same soap opera.  They hadn’t really got to know each other as Kayla hadn’t been on long and her character never had any scenes with Sean’s character.  But that changed when the writers of the soap decided to make them a couple and Kayla and Sean decided that besides the physical attraction they really respected each other and thought the other was great at their craft.
There isn’t anything earth shattering or deep about this book.  There was a slight mystery as to who was sending letters to Kayla that were freaking her out but even the letters weren’t threatening.  But I liked the story very much.  I liked Kayla and Sean and I liked Kayla’s sister and Sean’s friend who are the stars of the second book of the series.
Would I read it again: very possible
Grade: 4 out of 5


The Winning Season by Alison Packard

Why this one: It was a good price and I really liked the first book in the series

Steam Level: very nice and warm

Genre: Contemporary

·       Outline: Kelly Maxwell has finally landed her dream job as publicist for the San Francisco Blaze. But the team’s newest member, handsome bad boy catcher Matt Scanlon, is refusing every interview. She’s got to get him to open up before the season ends, or she may not be back next year. And after everything she overcame to achieve her dream, Kelly’s not about to let that happen.

Matt Scanlon just wants to be left alone to rebuild his life and his career. After a year of masking the pain of a recent loss with hard partying and fast women, he finally hit rock bottom and was traded to a team he’s loathed his entire life—a team with little to no chance at the post-season.

Butting heads is getting Kelly and Matt nowhere but annoyed, and with the team’s schedule on the road, they can’t avoid close quarters—or their surprising attraction to one another. As the season winds down, Matt finds his growing feelings for Kelly have brought his numbed emotions back to life. But when betrayal shatters their fragile trust, winning it all seems more impossible than ever.

My Thoughts: I quite enjoyed the first book and since I’m a baseball fan – though not as fanatic about them as Wendy, who turns the DetroitTiger players into Harlequin Heroes – in a hilarious series of posts – I was still excited to read this one.  Both Matt and Kelly appeared in the first book.  Kelly is the sister of Kayla from the last book.  Where Kayla is feminine and beautiful, Kelly has always struggled with her self-image.  As one who is the same, I found her very relatable.  She’s quite athletic and she has a job working for a pro baseball team in PR.  So she’s very likeable has her issues.

Matt on the other hand has issues that we don’t know about and isn’t very likeable in either the last book or the first part of  this book.  But over the course of the story he is redeemed.  He realizes what a jerk he is has been, especially in regards to Kelly with whom he had a run in with in the first book, Love in the Afternoon.

He has some sad issues of his own which he was trying to deal with in a rather self-destructive way.  The more the book went on, the more I enjoyed it and I enjoyed it right from the beginning.  And once again I was glad I bought the entire series.

Would I read it again:  I just might!

Grade: 4 out of 5


Drive Me Wild by Julie Ortolon
Why This One: I read it when it was first published in 2000 – wow – so many years ago – and when I saw it was on for a good price on Amazon, I picked up the ebook.
Steam Level: warm
Genre: Contemporary friends to lovers
Synopsis: Owner of the face that launched a thousand newscasts, drop-dead-gorgeous TV anchor Brent Michaels returns to his Texas hometown for a good cause: playing the bachelor in a dating game fund-raiser. He couldn’t refuse the request of his old friend Laura Beth Morgan. But Laura’s no longer the shy wallflower that he remembers. When he gets a good look at the girl he loved and lost, Brent realizes he can’t refuse her anything.

Laura yearns to break free, just as Brent did. He has come so far from the boy who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, the childhood friend who kissed her once and ran away. But even as he warns her that he’s incapable of love, Brent isn’t running now. After all these years, Laura has blossomed into a beautiful woman—and an irresistible challenge for a man who’s used to getting everything he desires.

My Thoughts: It’s been a long time since I first read this book and I liked it better back in 2000 than I did in 2015.  There wasn’t anything wrong with it exactly, but it’s not a book I’m going to ponder over.  The main characters Brent and Laura are nice but not memorable.  Brent grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and couldn’t wait to get out of the small town where everyone but Laura looked down on him.  But now he’s made a name for himself as a very successful, handsome news anchor.  Because he’s a success, his hometown wants him to come back for a dating game style fund raiser.  He’s all ‘hell no’ as he has no fond memories of the town, but his dearest friend from his young days, Laura asks him as a favour and he can’t refuse her.  He does have a condition though and that’s if she is one of the contestants.

Laura has always had ‘feelings’ for Brent but their lives couldn’t be more different.  She’s almost tied to her home town even if it is somewhat reluctantly and Brent can’t stay.  But feelings flair between them on his brief visit home and he convinces her to take a gamble and travel with him to his home.  She does, moves in with a friend and they begin to make a life together when Brent’s insecurities get in the way and things fall apart between them.

This is a good beach read, two nice people falling in love and overcoming their issues.  And while I did like it better the first time around, I did like it this time too.

Would I read it again: Odds are no.  While I enjoyed rereading it again, I have so many new books and so many older book reread I’ve enjoyed more

Grade: 3.5 out of 5
'til later




azteclady said...

During the worst part of my reading slump, I tried listening to audiobooks, and the only ones I could manage (meaning, I actually paid attention at least 60% of the time) were old Nora Roberts' books--and in those cases, it really came down to the narrator. (The lady who narrates most of the In Death books should narrate EVERYTHING by Nora. Seriously.)

I have many of Ms Roberts' books in my keeper shelves, and many that I read and re-read often. I am a lot more forgiving than you, Kristie, about her 'stock' characters for trilogies, but if/when you have read several of her books in a matter of a couple months, they can grate a bit.

Aside: so happy to see you reviewing again--all the YAYs!!!!

Kristie (J) said...

When I got the audio books at our local Chapters they also had the first 3 In Death books in audio but I decided to go with Face the Fire as I hadn't read the book. If I had of known what I know now, I definitely would have gone with the In Death books. I also picked up the abridged Born in series but I haven't listened to them yet. I don't know how that will go. On the one hand those were the first trilogy I'd read by Ms. Roberts so they were new and fresh and I really enjoyed them. But the last one was such a dismal failure. She is a real good comfort author though isn't she?

Lover Of Romance said...

oh these do look great. The Winning Season and Face The Fire sound good.

azteclady said...

I think you are going to like the audio of the Born trilogy, Kristie--the narrator is an Irish guy, and despite the abundance of female voices, he manages to give them enough variety without the fake falsetto, to make pretty clear who is who.

I was re-reading some of the older connected books--the Night Shift, Night Shadow, Nightshade, Night Smoke categories specifically--and marveling at how feminist they are. Heroines: midnight radio show/disc jokey; assistant district attorney; police detective; president of a corporation. The best part? We are shown that they are capable at what they do. These books, mind, were written one per year, starting in 1990.

Kristie (J) said...

Lover of Romance: while I recommend The Winning Season, *chuckle* Face the Fire was a complete bust. Im thinking you mean Love in the Afternoon. That one I did enjoy.

AL: I'm looking forward to listening to them. I read them years ago before her trilogy pattern of heroines started to bother me and I haven't done a reread since then.

S. said...

I haven't listened to many audiobooks. In fact, I only tried one and I didn't like it at all, the narrator was awful. I never tried another one.

As for Nora's book, I liked the trilogy but yes, Mia's story was my least favorite.
But in general, I love her books, she's the author that got me started in devouring romances. She will always be special for me and many of her books are things I'll cherish forever.

I'll try Winning Season by Packard this month, if I can.
Happy reading!