Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Reread Challenge - April

Knock Me Off My Feet by Susan Donovan

It didn't. Knock Me Off My Feet. Not this time around I'm afraid. I don't know whether to disqualify myself or not for April's challenge but this ended up being a DNF the second time around.

This was the second Susan Donovan book I read and while it didn't quite measure up to my favourite - Take A Chance on Me (and now I have that ABBA song running around my head again), I did quite like this one at the time. And I don't think it's quite so much that I didn't like KMOMF as I've had a severe case of the crankies lately and when one has a case of those - it's best to move onto a comfort book.

Blurb: In Donovan's spicy debut, Autumn Adams honors her mother's deathbed wish when she takes over her role as famed Homey Helen, domestic diva of Chicago's WBBS-TV station. Coaching her mother's fans on the finer points of homemaking is the last thing Autumn wants; she'd much rather be kicking a soccer ball around a field or running a marathon. Fortunately, she has Marjorie Stoddard, her mom's faithful secretary, to pick up the slack. But Marjorie isn't much help when a twisted fan starts sending death threats in the form of grisly household hints, one of which advises her on the proper way to freeze human remains. Autumn receives protection in the form of handsome Detective Stacey Quinn, who thinks Autumn just might be the perfect woman for him. Winning Autumn's affection isn't as easy as he anticipates, however. Marjorie's bad track record with men-"It's like after seven or eight weeks some green slimy and hairy thing with eleven eyeballs suddenly jumps out of the top of my head and the men start running for the nearest exit"-may keep her from pursuing the one man who won't run away.

I can't put my finger on why this didn't work this time round - baring the case of the crankies, but at the risk of sounding like Randy Jackson, I just didn't 'feel' either the hero or the heroine. I wasn't laughing or smiling at what was supposed to be funny and both h/h seemed to blow hot and cold. One minute they were lip locked, the next they weren't speaking, all without a reasonable explanation as to what happened. Audie was described as a total klutz - doing pratfalls all over the place, but then graceful on the soccer field. One minute she was laughing, and then the next close to tears, again without a really understandable explanation as to why. I finally gave up when after ignoring her for a week - without really explaining why, Quinn sends her a box of handkerchiefs (because - you know - she cries a lot). It was at this point that I realized that I just wasn't into the book. Because of the crank's and the fact that it was a DNF, I'm not going to grade it this time - but the first time round, I gave it a 4.5.

Hopefully next month I will meet with better success.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thank goodness for friends!!

I saw the commercial in the video below a few years ago on TV and thought it was simply the funniest commercial I ever saw. I know the one time time Ron was almost concerned for me I was laughing so hard and couldn't stop. Then it just up and disappeared and I couldn't remember what it was for or anything.

But a friend sent me the link and may I proudly present.....

My All Time Favourite Commercial

I can't really explain why I love this one to pieces - maybe being a 'cat' person or maybe because it's done so well or maybe because it's just so dang stupid - but it cracks me up every single time.

Thanks Janice!

Recent Read **Update**

I don't often (in fact this is a first) repost older posts - but now that this book is out and is on the shelves, here is this post revisited.
This one is one of those special books and even after reading it twice, it's still calling to me.

I HIGHLY recommend you give this one a read - HIGHLY, HIGHLY HIGHLY

The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley

Why this one: I received an ARC, I’ve read her previous historicals and really enjoyed them and someone on a message board had also read an ARC and really enjoyed it.

Steam Level: Oh – this one boils very nicely, yes indeedy very nicely!

Author Website Blurb:

Because this isn’t due out until May, this is all I could find on the authors web site:

The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family--rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn't be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them--of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz.

The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzi
e, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. H
e's also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.

Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune
. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama--an alco
holic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.

And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her.

Back Cover Blurb:

It was whispered all through London Society that he was a murderer, that he’d spent his youth in an asylum and was not to be trusted – especially with a lady. Any woman caught in his presence was immediately ruined. Y

Yet Beth found herself inexorably drawn to the Scottish lord whose hint of a brogue wrapped around her like silk and whose touch could draw her into a world of ecstasy.

Despite his decadence and intimidating intelligence, she could see he needed help. Her help. Because suddenly the only thing that made sense to her was

The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie.

I think that is a bit misleading at the beginning. It wasn’t whispered all through London Society – mainly just the ex-fiance and the police inspector. But other then that it’s a pretty good description.

My Thoughts: Ian MacKenzie is one of the most unique heroes I think I’ve ever read. He suffers from what we know is a form of Autism. He had spent many years of his childhood in an insane asylum and as we know – they weren’t very nice places to be. But he was finally rescued by his oldest brother Hart, the very powerful Duke of Kilmorgan.

We first meet Ian when he is purchasing an ancient bowl from an unscrupulous fortune hunter. The dastardly dude goes on to boast about his conquests and his plans to continue despite getting married.

Beth Ackerly is the fiancé and heroine in question and she first meets our hero Ian at the theatre where he slips her a note explaining that her fiancé is Not a Nice Man.

Ian is……..what can I say about him that would do him justice? The word Unique works. He is totally and utterly without guile and says what he thinks – exactly what he thinks. He doesn’t know how to hide his thoughts. And he doesn't understand humour - no matter how Beth tries to make him smile. Beth is quite nonplussed by him, yet very attracted at the same time. And though he is very physically attracted to her, he tells Beth that he will never love her, not that he doesn’t want to love her, he is just incapable of it.

Because of his autism, he is unable to look her in the eyes though he wants to. His brain just shuts down when he tries. Although unable to love (or so he says – but this is a romance) he is very possessive of her and once he stakes his claim so to speak, becomes outraged to the point of violence whenever anyone – such as her now former fiancé – dares to try and harm her.

I think the closest I can think of in terms of the kind of hero he makes is Simple Jess by Pamela Morisi. But Ian isn’t simple – not by any means. Instead he borders on brilliant to genius in many areas. He is alternately touchingly naïve and incredibly, sexily experienced. Because he is out of touch with emotions, he uses his senses a lot and in some very inventive ways.

And the heroine Beth; she is an equally incredible heroine. Although she doesn’t understand Ian exactly, she accepts him as he is for all of his oddness. And she is wonderfully protective of him – to the point of going toe to toe with his powerful brother the duke, when she thinks Hart is just using him for his brilliant math skills and recall abilities. I just loved her to pieces. Although quite wealthy, she came by her wealth in a different kind of way. She started her life in the slums of London and slowly moved her way up in life. So unlike many historical heroines, she is quite savvy and as she is also a widow, she has experienced the pleasures of intimacy. When Ian and Beth are together, the chemistry is combustible. These are two vividly drawn characters. In addition to our main characters, there are also Ian’s brothers. Indulgent, protective, confused, all ways they relate to their younger, ‘different’ brother, they are equally vivid characters and all the way through the book I kept hoping they would get their own stories and I don’t normally think like that. And I’m very happy to say they are, though it looks like I’ll have to wait for a while until I get to their stories. I was even most impressed with Curry, Ian’s valet and general care-taker and errand runner.

As if a to die for hero and heroine and great secondary characters weren’t enough, there is an interesting mystery to boot. There is an Inspector Javert type character who is investigating the murder of a young woman in a brothel a few years previously and has been following the MacKenzie clan, knowing they were somehow involved. When another young woman related to the original murder is found dead, he is bound and determined that it is young Ian who did the killing and will do just about anything to try and prove it including trying to undermine the budding romance between Ian and Beth.

Heck - I even love the title of this book. It too is different and unique.

This review is much longer then the usual ones I write but there is so much going on; so much to look forward to, that even this lengthy review doesn’t begin to cover this fascinating and wonderful story.

Unfortunately – this one doesn’t come out until May. But I will revisit this post when it does as this book really deserves to get buzzed. My advice? Circle the date this one comes out in your book buying calendars

Grade: 5 out of 5

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Recent Read

Also known as 2 down, 3 to go

Gotcha by Christie Craig

Why this one: I had an ARC and thought it about time I started reading some of them. This one is a June release and one to keep an eye out for.

Steam Level: This one takes a long time to boil – but once it does – hmmm – nice and hot.

Website Blurb: Macy Tucker was five years old when her beloved grandfather dropped dead in his spaghetti. At twelve, her father left his family in the dust. At twenty-five, her husband gave his secretary a pre-Christmas bonus in bed, and Macy gave him the boot. To put things lightly, men have been undependable.

That's why dating's off the menu. Macy is focused on law school, and putting herself through—which means being the delivery girl for Papa's Pizza. But cheesier than her job is her pie-eyed brother, who just recently escaped from prison to protect his new girlfriend. And hotter than Texas toast is the investigating detective. Proud, sexy…inflexible—he's a man who would kiss her just to shut her up. But Jake Baldwin's a protector as much as a dish. And when he gets his man—or his woman—Macy knows it's for life.

My Thoughts: Darn, Darn, Darn!! I love it when a review I do has others wanting to read the book I’ve loved, but I hate it when they pass on a book and I’m afeered they might think this after reading this. I hope they don’t because check out the grade at the end - it's a good one. I think the best way to do this is in a letter:

Dear Macy: I liked you, I really did. But at the same time you drove me bonkers! I understand your skittishness about men. Your grandfather died, your father ran off, your brother is a screw up and your ex-husband cheated on you. Goodness knows with that kind of history, I wouldn’t be trusting a guy either! So when you didn’t immediately fall for Jake Baldwin even though we, the readers, will think him lip-smackingly scrumptious right from the get go, I could understand you. But – hello – he did everything he could do to prove to you he was a stand-up guy. A cop who was approached by your brother Billy’s girlfriend who wanted to report a threat to both you and Billy who somehow managed to land himself in jail, Jake got pulled into the case almost against his will. But once he realized that you weren’t in any way involved in the prison break-out when Billy escaped and that there was a Very Bad Man after you, you should have at least trusted him as a cop, if not as a man.

And I did appreciate some of the things you put him through such as kneeing him – hard – in a place guys don’t like to get kneed – when he first snuck up on you. But he forgave you that – even admired you for it despite his pain. And then there was that classic scene when he was being a tad overprotective and tried to keep you from going to the pharmacy for those feminine necessities. Your telling him exactly, in a loud voice, what you needed was laugh out loud funny. And the nun thing – very well done! Kept him guessing it did.

But girl – I had issues with you. When a physco killer who has beheaded someone and slashed someone else is after you; when he has broken into your house and has already made two attempts on your life, when he has threatened to rape you, you trust The Cop. Not trusting the man with your heart is one thing, but not trusting the cop is another. When you lie to said cop, when the killer knows where you live and where you work, you do NOT refuse to leave your home because you are stubborn and you do not go back to your part time job delivering pizza while you go to school, you are making a big mista-ake. We readers have a name for a heroine like you. We call them To Stupid To Live and we do not like them. You walked the fine line a number of times and crossed over a couple of them. This is not a good thing. Your author maybe should not have done this to you. I know you did many of the things you did to try and save your brother, but you showed no sense on some of them. Instead you should have trusted The Cop, Jake.

Your author is a good one. The story was interesting and I found it hard to put down – always a plus when reading a book! I really enjoyed most of it and I can I say I loved Jake to pieces and pieces. Who wouldn’t love a guy who pretends he’s your love interest when cheating ex shows up, who paints the nasty graffiti off your walls, who feeds your nasty cat, who makes you tomato soup and gets caught buck naked by his mama? I’d love a Jake of my own please. And when he screwed up big time near the end as heroes often do, his groveling was Prime! I loved it. I loved his nickname for you even though your author mentioned a time too many about the pizza smell in your car, but then that could be because I’m not a big fan of pizza. I have a few other books by your author that I haven’t read and now I will go searching for them. I’m always happy to find a new author and I’m happy I found yours.

As for your brother Billy’s secondary romance – it was nicely done though he was no Jake and I wasn’t all that impressed with his love interest to be honest and I could tell he had the same set of genes as you did with some of his ideas on how to protect those he loved.

But ultimately, Macy, I’m sorry to say that you, yes you, brought down the grade of the book somewhat. Not to worry; there have been some books where a heroine like you would have made the story a DNF and this wasn’t the case here. But if your author has more stories up her sleeve – and I’m sure she does – I hope she doesn’t make the next heroines quite as stubborn bordering on stupid as she made you at times because on the whole you had great potential. You were excellent at the quick comebacks and any heroine who can do that is thumbs up for me.

So – for you, a 3, for Jake a 5 which averages out to a……..

Grade: 4 out of 5

Saturday, April 25, 2009

And The Winner Is.......

So - the winner of Whispers of Heaven and The Last Knight by Candice Proctor, April's Author Spotlight - nope, I didn't forget

I know I said that I would do this on Thursday - gulp. But Thursday was a right-off and I thought I had written Friday. But I didn't do it Friday 'cause I forgot when I said Thursday, but thought I said Friday that I couldn't do it on Friday because I was having a group of friends over.

I know I've mentioned them before - Ann, Deb, Janet, Janice, Lori, Sue (and then me of course). We all went back to school together when for one reason or another we found ourselves at a crossroads in our lives - twelve years ago I think now - and we have kept in touch ever since. Four times a year we get together at someone's house and just have a potluck and catch up and talk about stuff - important stuff - like Survivor, So You Think You Can Dance versus Dancing with the Stars, politics, our jobs - you name it - we talk about it. It's always such a fun evening though a few of us commented last night that you can tell we are getting older. They used to last - sometimes until one or two in the morning - but I don't think any of us can party like we used to; last night ended around 11:00 pm I think. *sad sigh*

Last night it was my turn to host. For me the the funnest part was 3 of them and me all trooping down to 'the Library' - them with bags - to load up on books to read. Hopefully some may want to do a guest post on what they liked. Lori went for the Lara Adrian books, Sue went for some Susan Mallery and Deb went for whatever had a hunky guy on the cover.

So that's why I didn't get to this until now - I had to work today on top of that.

But - I have everyone's name listed - and again whoever is in spot # 8 in the random organizer site gets to try one of my favourite authors.

And the winner is....

Peggy P

Congratulations!! If you want to email me (email address in profile) with your address, I will get these sent out Monday - my next day off!! Hopefully you will enjoy her as much as CS Harris :-)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Recent Read

Otherwise known as 1 down, 4 to go.

Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

Why this one: I really enjoyed her debut book and this one also got great reviews so….

Blurb: When it comes to the laws of attraction, there are no rules The battle between the sexes is about to make these two lawyers hot under the collar. Opposites collide when two lawyers try to make partner at the same firm. Payton Kendall is a feminist to the bone. Cocky J.D. Jameson was born privileged. But when they are asked to join forces on a major case, they gain a new found awareness of each otheras personal assets. The partnership spot will be offered to only one of them, though. The competition heats up. Sparks fly. Let the games begin.

Steam Level: OK – this one isn’t going to burn your tongue – but that’s a good thing. Who wants a burned tongue all the time?

My Thoughts: First off – I’m still upset that this one isn’t on the shelves here. Because those spur of the moment buyers are missing out. I ordered this one online a while ago and I just checked and this one still isn’t available – in fact it doesn’t seem to be in any of the Chapters or from now on, more aptly named Most Hated Chain Store (MHCS) anywhere across the country!! Arrrgghhh I’d love to have the job of ordering romance books for MHCS.

I wasn’t very far into this book when I realized I was a hypocrite or a sexist or whatever term is more apt. While I loved Payton, I thought J.D. was a jerk. And if this had been reversed – J.D. a nice guy and Payton a character I didn’t like, I would have wanted to throw the book against the wall and probably not continued reading. I mean – how fair is that??? That’s not right is it? Why am I like this?

But because it was the way it was, I kept reading. And I’m happy to say that J.D. gets much better as we get to know him and I really enjoyed this book. Payton Kendal and J.D. Jameson have both been working hard at the same law firm, aiming for partner, for eight years and can barely tolerate each other. Payton resents J.D. because he has an edge due to the ‘good old boys’ network and J.D. thinks Payton has an unfair advantage due to initiatives to eliminate the ‘glass ceiling’ that is still so evident in society. When they have to work together to try and lure a new client, they slowly start to get to know other sides of each other. But a monkey wrench is thrown in when it’s announced that only one of them can make partner and each is determined that they will be the one.

I really enjoyed this book. Payton was tough when she had to be – which was most of the time – but in a very appealing way. Although it took her a while, she was willing to rethink her bias towards J.D. and after the reader gets to know him better, he really was adorable in a stuffed shirt kind of way. There were many LOL moments and I always enjoy that in a book. When they get to talking about how their animosity began, I really loved why J.D. was hurt – such a dufus guy kind of thinking.

I quite happily recommend this one and if you are living in Canada and order online, make sure to add this one to your list. If you don’t, then pick up those signs and picket MHCS until we start getting the same chances to buy good books as our neighbour to the south!

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

For those who are interested, she has a great television interview posted on her blog. She makes a great spokesperson for the genre.

And in other news - obviously I wasn't able to stay away long. The situation at work continues to be difficult and I've been advised by the union to 'sit on it' for a few days. Once it's been resolved I will be less cryptic.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

There is some really bad stuff going on with me at work. It's beat me up pretty bad so if I'm not around for a while - that's why.

Monday, April 20, 2009

In Response to King of the Wild Frontier

Dear Wendy:

I'm thinking you have the type of books I love pegged pretty good now *g*. I think you've picked up that all my favourites have wounded in some way kind of way, hero. And *g* to set the record straight, it's not disgust, it's amused disbelief that you have all these great books sitting around so long without being read. But since I'm getting in the same predicament these days myself with a TBR pile that is, for the first time ever, starting to frighten me, I'm sure there is someone out there thinking Kristie, Kristie, Kristie!

And of all the ones I've strong-armed you into reading, I think Ride The Fire is the one you have given the highest grade to. For that I am very pleased. Ms. Clare does indeed have a wonderful way of weaving history into her books and making it interesting.

And I am also wondering if you have seen the movie Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis. To me, although different, they have a remarkable similar kind of 'feel' to them - considering one is a movie and the other a book.

And you are so right - "This is not a sunshine happy puppy dog rainbow kind of book" :-) And that's one of the reasons it's so highly placed on my favourite list. If given my druthers, I 'druther have a dark story then a light and fluffy one. That first chapter is HARD to read!!

And I'm not sure about the turgid thought thing. After my son came for a visit this evening (and to help me open my mail) we had a very mind boggling (for me anyway) conversation about male turgidity. I wasn't sure he was trying to put one over on his old mother or being more open then he has been since he was seven - but I know now that young men think of turgidity. A LOT. (Of course he totally freaked - which I found very amusing- when the conversation switched to my sex life - or lack of one. I think he quite honestly thought older people 'got over it'. I told him to wait until he was in his fifties and then revisit that thought again)

And again you are right - what makes a book a 'keeper' is an illusive and mysterious thing and one I can't explain either - except I know when I've read one.

In conclusion, knowing you are either a) a harsher judge, or b) I'm an easier sell - not sure which - a B+ is heck of a darn good grade and I'm glad you recommend this one!

We shall see in July which one I can nag you about next. I have a couple in mind (heh heh heh) because what would it be if I didn't Wendy, Wendy, Wendy you with a least one book.
And I am also thinking that you could possibly have an opportunity to do it back to me this time.

Yours truly,
Kristie J

PS: The only complaint I have to make is now I'm going to have that darn Disney Davey Crockett song running through my head for the rest of the evening. Hopefully it will be gone by morning.

Enough is enough is enough!!

So – I have books coming out the wing wang; books I’m dying to get to, books I need to read. I have werewolf books. I have dragon books. Oh man do I have historical books. I have romantic suspense, I have contemporary, I have western and I have medieval. There are books I want to reread – I’m in a book challenge! And I missed the TBR challenge.

So what did I do yesterday? Did I read? Did I dive into the pile? No – much to my annoyance, I did not. Instead I had a John and Kate plus 8 marathon. I must have watched about three straight hours of John and Kate and their trip to Hawaii and their stop over in San Diego. I watched them and their adorable little ones pose for pictures for the cover of Good Housekeeping. And if that weren’t bad enough, when that was over for the day I watched Ru Paul and his reality show’s quest for a new drag queen. And then came the real horror. I watched the Celebrity Apprentice. I watched Joan Rivers have a meltdown because gambler Annie didn’t appreciate her daughter Melissa’s efforts. I watched Clint Black being – well Clint Black.
Did I enjoy these shows? Not really. While John and Kate’s children are all too cute for words, I’m not really a child kind of person.
Do I care who wins the drag queen contest? I can honestly say no. Although in this case I was probably more curious at how they transform themselves into gorgeous hot looking women.
And do I care about Donald Trump? I shudder at the thought - really and truly shudder. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the day before I watched 2 episodes of CSI Miami with David Caruso. I don’t have the words to explain how much I can’t stand Horatio Kane – they don’t exist. The acting by everyone on this show is appalling. I do like the original and CSI New York – but Miami – oh how I loathe it. Yet I wasted 2 hours watching a show I can’t stand. Why did I do that???? I could probably have got at least 2 or 3 books read – books that are calling; books I want to read – that’s why I got them. But I think I realized something…..

I’m scared of my TBR pile. Yes – that mountain is too scary even for me anymore. But I will not let it defeat me!!! Nay, I will not! This is my declaration that I will NOT watch to see if Kane gets custody of the baby; I do not care if Mac and Billy get back together. Will Phillip Kouiakis die in bed? Will EJ tell Nicole that he arranged to have Brady beaten up within an inch of his life and the day he and Nicole got married? I will tell my self I do not care. I will resist the lure. I choose NOT to watch as Paris and her BBF’s descend on California.

Instead, when I get home from work I won’t let the pile scare me. I will pick up a book and start reading. I WON’T turn on the television until 8:00 and then will ONLY watch it when it comes to Cheryl and Gilles turn to dance – and that only because I have a coffee riding on it.
I will read!

And not only that – but this is also an official declaration that (oh man this one hurts) I WILL NOT BUY ANOTHER BOOK until I have read at least 5 from the TBR pile. Yes – I am stating – for the record – that for every new book I purchase, I must have 5 read that I already own.

And now we will see how long this lasts – not long I’m willing to bet - not without help. I need encouragement. I need others to stand with me and declare they will NOT watch America’s Next Top Model until they read at least 3 books.

Are there any others out there needing to cull that TBR pile; that need to chip away at that mountain – one book at a time? Am I the only one who has allowed themselves to become intimidated by their overabundance of books? Are there any readers who need a support group? I know I need one

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Hunkie Hero Post - and more

My Hunkie Hero Post

I was tagged by Annie to do the Hunkie Hero and it will probably come as no surprise to anyone who mine is.

My Favourite Hero:
Who else could it be but Derek Craven from Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas?

Why he stole my heart:
There are oh so many reasons!! He's not a titled hero yet he wields a lot of power. He thinks he's not good enough for the heroine yet he is totally smitten with her. He knows his way around the bedroom. Those are just a few reasons right off the top of my head.

Favourite Quote/Excerpt:

“Stay still!” Derek swallowed hard, his gaze traveling to the lush display of her breasts. “You and your…research.” He said the word as if it were obscene. His hand covered her breast, his palm rubbing over the nipple until it formed a tight bud. He tried to let her go, but his body wouldn’t obey. Every nerve screamed rebelliously. He wanted more. He would have given everything he owned just to grind himself inside her. Breathing harshly through his teeth, he fought to contain his desire.

“I wanted to be someone other than myself,” Sara said in defiant misery. “The kind of woman that you would…dance with…and desire. And even now…I don’t regret what I’ve done. You may not feel any attraction for Sara Fielding, but al least you felt something for the woman I pretended to be, and that—“

“You don’t think I want you?” he asked hoarsely.

“I knew when you refused to kiss me this morning-“

That’s what this is about? You wanted revenge because I didn’t…” Craven seemed to choke on the words. When he managed to speak again, his voice was tainted with a cockney twang. “It was enow for you that I’ve ached like a drawn dog ever since you came ‘ere-“

“Drawn dog?” she repeated in confusion.

“Pulled away before the rutting’s finished.” He clenched his hands on either side of her face, glaring at her. “I wanted you this morning, you little tease. I’ve wanted to do you over since the first time I… Be still!”

He snarled the last two words with a roughness that made her cringe. She stopped squirming at once.

Swallowing hard, he forced himself to continue. “Don’t move, or I won’t be able to stop myself. Listen to me. I’m going to let go of you…and you’re going to leave. For good. Don’t come back to the club.”

I just love this scene – it embodies everything I love about Derek; his rough beginnings, his attraction for Sara, his sacrifice at sending her away because he doesn’t think he’s good enough

Who would play Jamie in a movie:
Again - this one is a given - Richard Armitage. The minute he made his first appearance in North and South he was just a natural for the part.


And more

You may have noticed this phenomenon. And I don't think I'm the only one that suffers from it - fortunately. I seem to buy more books than I read. I hope someday that balances out better but until it does - books that will soon arrive in the mail

The Wolf’s Heart by Jenna Leigh

Reporter Elaine Westerbrook will do anything to get the information she needs, including reigniting a fire with the deliciously mysterious Marcus Bei. Its lonely at the top of the corporate world. But that’s the price hell pay to keep his pack safe from his father and others like him. But Marcus cant find the strength to push away the very thing his other half has been waiting for so long his mate. Together, they search for the truth and find out if they have a future in spite of a past threatening to tear them apart.

I first saw this one at Barbara’s blog and being shallow, I loved the cover. Then I read the storyline and it sounded very interesting. Unlike many others, I love a good ‘destined mates’ storyline and I quite enjoy werewolf stories so I was sold. It sat lonely in my cart until I added more.

The Countess Takes a Lover by Bonnie Dee

Who is learning more, the novice? Or the master? Countess Meredith du Chevalier, a widow with a reputation for being sexually adventurous, is intrigued when she is approached by a gentleman who wishes her to "make a man" of his son. Sensing a passionate man beneath Christopher Whitby'’s reserved exterior, Meredith takes on the challenge, inviting the botanist to her country home to revitalize her abandoned greenhouse. Chris finds people to be a chaotic, animalistic species, and has chosen to devote his life to the study of plants. One kiss from the vivacious countess, however, and his inner animal is aroused. But lust is only a fraction of what he feels for the vulnerable woman hiding behind a brittle fade. He resolves to coax her to grow until her petals unfurl in a glorious bloom. To her surprise, Meredith finds Chris brings much more to life than just fallow soil. But just as their love begins to thrive, he learns about the secret arrangement. Meredith must risk her heart for the most dangerous lesson of all-love.

Although I haven’t read many Bonnie Dee books, the one I did, Bone Deep, blew me away and I kept my eye out for when this one came out in print form. It also has been in my cart for a while…waiting

An Indecent Proposition by Emma Wildes

When the duke of Rothay and the earl of Manderville make a foolish and scandalously public wager over which of them is the more skillful lover, the firmly respectable and notoriously unavailable Lady Caroline Wynn makes the even more shocking offer to serve as judge. The trio all harbor complex secrets of their own, and as they discreetly begin the judging process far away from the keen eyes of society gossips, more than the lady's reputation and the gentlemen's pride are at risk from their growing passions.

It’s the talk of the town. London’s two most notorious rakes have placed a very public wager on which of them is the greatest lover. But what woman of beauty, intelligence, and discernment would consent to judge such a contest? Lady Carolyn Wynn is the last woman anyone would expect to step forward. But if the men keep her identity a secret, she’ll decide who has the most finesse between the sheets.

To everyone’s surprise, however, what begins as an immoral proposition turns into a shocking lesson in everlasting love…

I had seen this one but it was Stacy’s review that convinced me I needed to get it. So being totally self-indulgent when it comes to books, I ordered it.

Fire at Midnight by Lisa Marie Wilkinson

Rachael Penrose is confined to Bedlam insane asylum in London after discovering that her uncle Victor plans to kill her brother in order to inherit the family fortune. Victor, with a gang of criminals, uses French privateer Sebastien Falconer as the scapegoat for his crimes. When Victor spreads the lie that Rachael informed on Falconer’s smuggling activities, Falconer vows revenge on the girl. Gripping suspense and romance play out in front of numerous historical details, including a violent storm that devastated England in 1703 and swept the Eddystone Lighthouse into the sea.

This cover just calls to me. And the storyline sounds right up my alley. I can hardly wait to get my hands on this one. I’m thinking Tuesday just might be the day!!

Author Spotlight for April

This month’s author spotlight is another author who started in romance and moved onto another genre. Probably more readers have read her books as she started writing in 1997. Sadly she left romance behind in 2003 after only seven romances, but she still remains one of my top authors and in my opinion a great writer for April’s Author Spotlight.

The author in question:

Candice Proctor

I discovered Ms. Proctor when her first book was released in 1997.

Night in Eden

Bryony Wentworth's life is shattered when she is convicted of manslaughter and transported to New South Wales in 1808. Sentenced to indentured servitude, she is given to Hayden St. John. A hard, embittered man left with an infant son by the death of his gentle wife, Hayden has little but contempt for the muddy, vermin-ridden convict on whom he must rely. But Bryony is a survivor. As they journey through the outback to Hayden's rugged station, Bryony rediscovers her own strength even as Hayden finds his salvation and rebirth in a love as forbidden and dangerous as the land that surrounds them.

Against the sweeping panorama of a harsh, gorgeous, and unforgiving land, two hungering souls learn to trust, to love, and to triumph over the danger that will shadow their lives--until destiny and desire become one.

I was captivated by Ms Proctor from the first. Night in Eden is a haunting kind of tale with a very damaged heroine. Byronny Wentworth was transported to New South Wales on the charge of murder. Pregnant while on route, during the voyage, she lost her baby. Not only that but she was forced to leave her other daughter behind. Her indenture is purchased by Captain Hayden St. who needs her as a nursemaid to his young motherless son.

If I had to compare Byronny to another heroine, the closest match I can think of is Rachel Wade from Patricia Gaffney’s To Have and To Hold. Both heroines start off their stories pretty defeated.

I loved this book and I knew after I finished it that this was an author I would be watching out for. And I wasn’t the only one blown away by this debut. Both The Romance Reader who gave it 5 stars and All About Romance who gave it an A and DIK status loved it too.

So when I spotted her next book in 1998:

The Bequest,

I couldn’t buy it fast enough. Much to my surprise, it was a Western.

What's a girl to do?! When the mother she never knew bequeaths a boomtown bordello and a too-sexy, too-cynical business partner to convent-bred beauty Gabrielle Antoine, she does what any sensible woman would do--she plays the piano in the parlour while her "girls" entertain their "guests." Determined to send the virtuous Gabrielle scurrying back to New Orleans, her new partner, gambler Jordan Hays, embarks on a mission to open her eyes to the seamier, steamier side of life found on the frontier, shocking her to the core with his fiery kisses and caresses that stir unfamiliar, but far from unpleasant feelings in Gabrielle. Much to everyone's surprise, especially Jordan's, Gabrielle refuses to sell out to the unsavoury rival who operates a string of gambling dens and whorehouses under deplorable conditions and who murdered Gabrielle's mother to get his hands on Celeste's Place, the grandest brothel in Central City, Colorado. Now in danger, Gabrielle finds herself under the protective wing of Jordan, the loner whose heart has been locked away since experiencing unspoken atrocities during the Civil War. But Gabrielle's innocence and determination stir Jordan's long-lost sense of chivalry, while her beauty stirs his slumbering libido. And Gabrielle is swept away by the depth of her passion for the rugged Jordan. The gambler and the ingénue join forces to fend off a hostile takeover and to search for a lost gold mine, falling in love along the way.

While this one didn’t strike quite the same chord as Night in Eden, I did really enjoy it and Ms. Proctor was firmly on my auto-buy author list.

Her next book published in 1999,

September Moon

once again was set in early Australia

The Englishwoman... Accepting a job as governess in the wilds of the Australian Outback is the only way Amanda Davenport can earn passage home to her beloved England and away from this rugged, frightening place she hates. Despite her fears, Amanda finds herself gradually drawn to this wild, primitive land as she rediscovers the joys of laughter and love and the irresistible passions of the heart.
The Australian... As he struggles to bring up three irrepressible, motherless children on an isolated station plagued by all the dangers of South Australia in 1865, the last thing Patrick O'Reilly wants is a prudish spinster complicating his life. But it's not too long before he begins to suspect that Miss Davenport is not exactly what she seems.

This book was another winner for me and I’ve read it more then once though not for a while and it kept her firmly on my auto-buy list. I’m not the only one who loved this one. TRR gave it a great review as did AAR.

With her next book in 2000:

The Last Knight,

Candice Proctor once again took a bit of a detour and wrote a Medieval. As I love medievals, when I saw this I was delighted.

A betrothed young noblewoman fiercely loyal to her family and king, Attica d'Alerion is forced to disguise herself as a courtier and ride bravely into danger to warn her brother Stephen of a political betrayal that could lead to war.

Damion de Jarnac is the black knight, a rogue horseman bound by no code of honor except his own ambition. Working for the aging King Henry II, Damion scouts the hills of Brittany on a dangerous mission to expose the treachery of Philip of France. There he joins forces with a courageous lad—who turns out to be the most intriguing woman he has ever met. But to win the beautiful Attica's love, Damion must slay the demons of an unforgivable past. And to save his doomed King, he must make a deadly decision that could break his lady's noble heart.

A haunting tale of passion and redemption as one man's quest for glory becomes an unexpected crusade to save his soul...

With some of her books, it’s been a while since I’ve read them, but I did reread The Last Knight a couple of years ago and l loved it just as much as the first time. Again, both TRR and AAR gave it excellent reviews.

And then we come to 2001 and…..

Whispers of Heaven

After years of schooling in England, Jesmond Corbett returns to her family's estate along the coast of Tasmania. Betrothed since childhood to a wealthy neighbour, Jessie comes home determined to conform to the expectations of her family. But nothing in Jessie's life has prepared her for the mysterious stranger who works in the stables, a man with searing eyes who haunts her dreams and awakens passions she never knew existed.

Irishman Lucas Gallagher arrived on the island in chains, a convict sentenced to a lifetime of labour for the English gentry. For four years he has lived a dead man's existence, using
every spare moment to plan his escape. But when he meets Jessie, she touches his cold, angry heart. And although their love has no future, he finds himself unable to deny the longings that threaten to destroy what may be his last chance to reach for freedom ....

If you look to the left on my sidebar, you will see that Whispers of Heaven is on my all time top five book list and considering all the books I’ve read, that speaks loud and clear on what I think of this book. I’ve read and reread it a number of times now it’s one of those books calling me to read it again. Now I’m sure it will be shouting at me as will all her other books. In polls of favourite heroines, Jesamond Corbett is always the one I choose. I can’t begin to tell you how much I adore her and how brave I think she is. Whispers of Heaven is one of those rare books I hated to see end and in my head I couldn’t let it end and have a few more adventures of Jessie and her Lucas. This one wasn’t reviewed at AAR – a tremendous oversight and I’ve been tempted for a while now to send in one of my own to them. But TRR have a wonderful five star review and capture many of my thoughts on this, one of my all time favourite books.

Her next book in 2001,

Midnight Confessions

again takes another detour in it’s setting.

The year is 1863, and in occupied New Orleans, a young French widow and confirmed pacifist devotes herself to the sick and injured of a grand city now under the heel of a harsh enemy. Then a bizarre death in one of the city's cemeteries puts Emmanuelle de Beauvais at the center of a murder investigation and under the watchful eye of Yankee provost marshal Zachary Cooper. As much as she despises the man's uniform and the war of which he is a part, Emmanuelle finds the man himself difficult to resist.

A career cavalry officer sidelined by a battle wound, Zach Cooper has never been so intrigued by a woman. Even as Emmanuelle veils every truth with layers of lies, Zach finds himself undeniably drawn to her. Torn between passion and duty, Zach must uncover the dark secrets behind a series of murders that threaten to ensnare Emmanuelle in a menacing web...

Unfortunately, this one didn’t work quite as well for me as her previous books. I’ve only read it the once though when it first came out and I feel I need to read it again sometime – to see if it was just the mood I was in when I first read it. And it did still garner a B- at AAR.

And then we come to her final romance book published in 2003

Beyond Sunrise.

Can life ever be a real adventure without falling in love?

Ever since she can remember, India McKnight has craved adventure and dreamed of lands past the horizon. Following her calling, she becom
es a travel writer, vowing never to risk her freedom by falling in love. But when she sails to the exotic and unknown regions of the South Pacific, a rugged man brave enough to be her guide just may be the one who can lay claim to her heart.

Having turned his back on the "civilized" world long ago, Australian Jack Ryder lives in seclusion, hiding from the pain and betrayal buried in his past. When a hardheaded Scotswoman arrives at his hut looking for a guide, he agrees to take her to the island of Takaku—despite the challange—just to prove her stubborn theories about native life wrong. But when their journey turns dangerous, their fates become forever entwined. Chased by cannibals and the British army, forced to rely on each other for their very survival, they soon discover that passion and even deeper peril await them...just beyond the sunrise.

But the good news is it was a return to the earlier style that I loved – and I loved this book!! India is a great heroine, but it’s really Ryder that made this book so special and along with just about all her books, I highly recommend it – as does AAR who gave it another A grade and a DIK.

Now as an author, Candice Proctor is still around but these days she is writing as C.S. Harris and is writing a rather intriguing sounding historical mystery series, the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries.

And once again – what can an Author Spotlight be without a chance to win a couple? I have a copy of the wonderful Whispers of Heaven and the delightful The Last Knight.

I will make the draw a week from today, Thursday, April 23.