Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recent Read

Sing My Name by Ellen O'Connell

Why this one: I was blown away by her other Western (look below *g*) and when I bought Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold and saw that this one was also available in eform at Smashwords for $2.99, I took a risk and got this one at the same time. It wasn't really a risk though as the price couldn't be beat and it's a Western.

Steam Level: I could see through the mist, though there definitely is a cloud of steam

Blurb: Sarah Hammond is the overprotected daughter of passionate Massachusetts abolitionists. Matt Slade is the orphaned son of hardscrabble Texas settlers. Sarah knows about every Civil War battle from studying newspaper accounts. Matt fought in the bloodiest of them under Generals Longstreet and Lee. If Matt and Sarah ever crossed paths, it should have been for an unremarkable moment. He would tip his hat. She would nod and pass on by.

Except as survivors of a Comanche attack, Matt and Sarah spend far more than a moment together. They come to know each other, depend on each other, and love each other. The vicious revenge of Sarah’s humiliated, jilted fiance allows him to say, “I destroyed them.” Did he? Or when Matt and Sarah meet again years later, can they put their lives and their love back together?

My Thoughts: As I said, I was blown away by her first Western and when I finished it and it came to picking the next book to read it was a no-brainer that this would be the one I'd read. As with the previous book, this, THIS is the reason I love Westerns so much. This book is all that I can ask a romance to be; poignant, moving, sad with tenderly sweet funny moments. Both the hero and heroine are to die for great and as with EoS,EoG, the characters are HONEST with each other even though they may not agree.

The story starts out with Matt being mistaken for an outlaw by a couple of bounty hunters. The fact that they have the wrong guy doesn't bother them at all. It picks up after the two bounty hunters and their prisoner have joined an army wagon train heading west. Sarah is headed west to join her fiance, and army officer. She's not in love with him, but is going along with the engagement as she thinks he is better than she can expect and her parents are quite impressed with him. During their journey, she is horrified at the way Matt, our prisoner is being treated and she takes measures to make sure he is treated more humanely. Not long after this, the entire party is attacked by Indians and Matt and Sarah are the only survivors. While Sarah has lived a life of pampered luxury, Matt is well versed in how to survive and the two of them head out to try and make it to the nearest fort. As it's just the two of them, they get to know each other very well. Sarah soon realizes that Matt couldn't possibly be the criminal he was under guard for and for his part, while Matt realizes that Sarah has lead an entirely different kind of life than he has, he admires her tremendously for her 'pluck'. Along the way they fall deeply in love and while Matt is aware of the difference in their stations, he succumbs to the growing love between them. Because they spend time talking, and getting to know each other, the reader can feel the love developing between them. Unlike many a romance where the hero/heroine only have a surface knowledge before declaring their love, with Matt and Sarah, we know it's solid, but undeclared on Matt's side.

They finally make it almost to the fort where they are headed before giving in to hunger, thirst and exhaustion. When Sarah awakens, it's too a livid fiance; a fiance with power who doesn't hesitate to use it. Matt is sent to jail on trumped up charges and Sarah reputation is ruined. At this point there is a separation between them and those reader who aren't fans of long separations may be disappointed in this next section. But it didn't bother me as I was loving the story and I felt that this parting was necessary. The time focuses on Sarah and how her life is a struggle and yet she is so determined to wait for Matt no matter what obstacles are thrown in her way. It serves as a real transition time for her from a somewhat helpless young woman unsure of her own strength into a woman with loyalty, patience and, well, true grit who will survive anything.

Matt is finally released from prison and takes up with a gang of gunslingers. While they don't do anything illegal, they skirt the line at times. He believes the time is lost where he and Sarah could have made a go of it, but Sarah has never faltered in her love for Matt and when circumstances bring them together once more, she absolutely refuses to take no for an answer. I've mentioned before how I love it when a hero is gone for the hero but in this story it is Sarah who is completely gone for Matt. Obstacles? What obstacles. The only one she sees is Matt himself and simply will not take no for an answer.

Sing My Name is simply..... beautiful. It's gritty at times and not easy to read in some places but it's balance out with gently humour and a hero who no matter what life throws at him, meets it with a level headed kind of acceptance. While he had every right to be bitter and angry, he's mature enough to know that he would be the one hurt the most. Sing My Name is REAL. The characters are wonderfully written, from Matt and Sarah, both young and innocent at the start of the book, to mature and capable at the end. The secondary characters are also so very well done. The gang of men Matt is a member of come alive, two in particular. A very dear friend of Sarah betrays her and while she did it thinking it was in Sarah's best interest, there is no simple forgiveness that often drives us readers nuts.

I loved Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold but I think I love this one just a tiny bit more. I know I'll be reading both of them over and over. And I still think it's crazy that she doesn't have a contract with a NY publisher!!

Grade: 5 out of 5

Monday, December 20, 2010

Recent Read - and update

Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O'Connell

Genre: Western

Why this one:
I read a thread on it at All About Romance and it sounded interesting. They were highly recommending it; it was a western and I love westerns so it was a given.....

Steam Level: Starts off cool and slowly comes to a full rolling boil

Blurb: Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold is a story of romance and family conflicts set in Colorado in 1885. Anne Wells has embarrassed her rigidly proper family since she was a child with occasional but grievous lapses from ladylike behavior. They blame those lapses for the disgraceful fact that she is a spinster at 28. Cord Bennett, the son of his father's second marriage to a Cheyenne woman, is more than an embarrassment to his well-to-do family of ranchers and lawyers - they are ashamed and afraid of their black sheep. When Anne and Cord are found alone together, her father's fury leads to violence. Cord's family accepts that the fault is his. Can Anne and Cord use the freedom of being condemned for sins they didn't commit to make a life together? Or will their disapproving, interfering families tear them apart?

My Thoughts: Wow!! Just Wow!! I just got this one yesterday. My Kobo was broken and I finally did something about it and called tech support. They were able to talk me through reloading all my books back onto the Kobo and as a well-deserved reward, I decided to order some new e-books. Although most of the posts on the thread at AAR mentioned that it was available either through Kindle (which I don't have) or pb, I decided to check out the author's website and discovered it was available at Smashwords for a Very Reasonable Price. Since my Kobo was working again and I was looking for books, I couldn't download it fast enough!

I started reading around 2:30-3:00 ish and couldn't go to bed until I read the whole book. I finally finished at 1:06 am. Then I couldn't sleep - ack! I think the people at Wendy's substituted a regular coffee for the decaf I ordered. See, I couldn't take time away from reading to make supper so I went through the drive through - not to mention I love their new fries - but I'm getting off topic. So while trying to fall asleep, I kept going over this book in my head, trying to think of how to put down in words how much I loved it and how much it moved me.

It's been a while since I've loved a heroine as much as I love Anne Wells. I think I have a girl crush on her - in a strictly platonic way of course. I love how well written she is. She's open and honest and brave in such a refreshing way. And what I especially loved was how fiercely protective she is of the hero, Cord Bennett, against anyone who she thought was wronging him, including his rather thickheaded brothers. There isn't anyone she won't take on to protect him. There were so many instances when there could have been frustrating misunderstandings, but instead Anne meets the issues head on and handles them directly so there are no festering resentments.

And as much as I love Anne, I love Cord just as much. Although quite reticent at first due to the prejudice he has experienced most of his life, he's more accepting of it and not the bitter kind of hero he could so easily have been. He is matter of fact about his life and while it is a lonely one, he doesn't really expect anything different. That is until Anne comes into his life. They knew each other briefly as children and then their paths cross again when Anne stumbles across Cords farm when trying to run away from a forced marriage. Her father catches her and in order to 'punish' her for her obstinacy, he forces the two of them to marry, and then has his henchman almost beat Cord to death. But Anne stays and nurses Cord back to health and after discussing the situation matter-of-factly, they decide to remain married. Cord is convinced it will only be for a short while; that Anne is too good for the likes of him. But he doesn't count on her sense of honour and her growing love for Cord, and his for her.

This is a great story of two lonely people brought together and discovering they are perfect for each other. Cord has a rather dry sense of humour that I really enjoyed and as mentioned earlier, Anne is ferocious in her defense of Cord. As their love builds, so do the love scenes which makes them even more a vital part of the story. Anne and Cord are friends first so there is not a doubt that this is a couple that will last.

While Anne's father for the longest time seems to be a Very Evil almost cartoonish villain, the author gives an explanation towards the end that makes very good sense. And I quite enjoyed Cord's two older half brothers, Frank and Ephraim. Time after time they misjudged Cord, thinking him a wild man in some of his actions. But instead he had very good reason for all the violence. He just couldn't have been bothered trying to explain himself to his brothers. His attitude makes for some delightful scenes that had me smiling.

{I'm having to go through this and make sure everything in this review is in the current tense as I plan on going back and reading this book again soon, very soon, slower this time so as to savour it the way it deserves to be savoured}.

The only thing keeping this from being a perfect 5 out of 5 is a very small thing that bothered me but probably wouldn't bother most readers. When referring to some of the towns people who let prejudice and anger rule their actions, the author referred to them as 'haters'. This is very much a 2010 expression and took me out of the old west where I doubt this expression would have been used. And since this word and expression just drives me crazy, I wish the author had used another expression. But that is a very, very small niggle in what is almost a perfect book. There was a certain.... distance is the only word I can think of in the first part of the book, a slight failure to connect with the characters. But very soon the author hit her stride and I felt as if I was right along with them, taking the journey of their love story with them.

Grade: 4.975 out of 5

This one gets a very well deserved two thumbs up. At the price it's offered at, and if one has an ereader device, whatever you do, don't miss this heartwarming Western. It's a perfect example of why I love this genre.


And in other news - OS has left the building!!! He moved out on the weekend. I almost feel bad about feeling so giddy that he's gone - but I'm resisting that guilty feeling and just wallowing in the giddiness. I can set the temperature at 18 degrees celcius and know it will stay at that temperature. I can go out anytime I want without having to ask him to move his car out of the way. I can go into the bathroom now and look into the sink and not see little whisker hairs. There is no door at the bottom of the stairs now. I don't think he's put my library back - I'll give him a couple of weeks to make himself at home before I start nagging - but nag I will if he doesn't get his butt back here and rebuild my library.

And in even bigger and better news, YS (youngest son) or - let's not hide it Ryan (who has posted the news all over his Facebook page) proposed to his girlfriend last week. AND SHE SAID YES. I'm finally going to be getting that daughter I've been wanting. I told her tonight I've been waiting 30 years for her. They've set the date for October 8/2011 so I'm sure I'll be blogging about it lots in the coming months. I really like her. She asked me to go wedding dress shopping with her and her mom and dad this past weekend. I thought that was so sweet of her to include me. Yep - I'm going to be a mama-in-law and I'm thrilled at the thought

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Recent Reads

Unguarded by Tracy Wolff

Why this one: Pure impulse buy. I'm new this year to the Super Romance line and I've really enjoyed most of the ones I've read. When I saw this one at Walmart for 30% off - I just got it.

Steam Level: Not very hot but when you read it you understand why and it makes sense that it wasn't.

Blurb: Rhiannon Jenkins is an events planner on the rise. And her latest client, Shawn Emerson, could make her career. Too bad the gorgeous man insists on mixing a lot of pleasure with his business. In Rhiannon's books getting involved with a client is the fastest way to exit a job. So, no. She''ll resist all his come-get-me looks and tempting offers.

While his charm is easy to overlook, Shawn in the role of confidant and friend breaks down all her best defenses. Suddenly the tables turn and she wants to be close to him. That means opening up about the ugly events of her past is —a risk she hasn't taken before now. Oh, but he could be so worth it!

My Thoughts: Sometimes one regrets impulse buys reckoning they wasted their money. Sometimes one is happy with their impulse buys, glad they went for it. And sometimes one is really amazed at one's own genius in giving into impulse. With Unguarded, my reaction is the third one. I'm amazed at my own genius. This book is really, really, really good. The back blurb isn't written so well and I bought this book almost despite it. One thing that's not mentioned in the blurb is it's a younger hero/older heroine storyline. I like this kind so it was a nice surprise.

Both lead characters in this book were very well done I thought. Rhiannon survived a tragic event in her past - barely. It turned her life upside down and though she is managing to survive, it's a struggle for her. She is less than pleased when she is hired by the younger and flirtatious Shawn, to plan a party he is throwing since his graphic novels have been sold to Hollywood to be made into a movie. Although she is just as attracted to him as he seems to be to her at times, an involvement with a younger guy is not something she plans to give in to. Rhiannon has many facets to her character and I really liked her. She's vulnerable yet stronger than she gives herself credit for. She is working on rebuilding her life and she has come much further than she realizes, considering what happened to her.

And Shawn is an equally great character. I'd say his most charming feature is that he's a nurturer. He realizes very quickly that Rhiannon has suffered something in her past and he is determined to help her. This kind of trait in a hero can be very yummy and it is in Shawn's case. He's not bothered at all by the age difference, another plus in his favour *g*. He does have some reservations though, as his cherishing nature has led him to heartache in the past. But it's really too late as he is totally gone for the heroine.

This book was a very delightful one and I am really doing a happy dance that I discovered this line. The only thing keeping it from being a 5 is I felt it was a scene short. Considering all the work that Rhiannon had done and the party planning was the basis for their meeting each other, I was disappointed that it didn't have that final scene I felt it needed.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Tempted by Fate by Kate Perry

Why this one: It was another impulse buy. Being shallow I'll confess that the cover may have had something to do with me picking it up in the first place.

Steam Level: I'd say between warm and hot.

Blurb: Willow Tarata is a Guardian who trusts no one. She hunts those who prey on the vulnerable. And she's driven by a vengeful goal - find the man who murdered her mother. Yet suddenly Willow's quarry now has her on the run....straight into the sights of San Francisco's most dangerous detective.
Three bizarre murders have Inspector Rick Ramirez baffled - and determined to uncover the truth. But to catch the real killer, he needs the help of his prime suspect, Willow Tarata, even though this fierce and sexy blonde is challenging his professional cool. And now, unless they believe in each other and trust their deepest instincts, a relentless evil will end both Willow's and Rick's life - and claim this Guardian's extraordinary powers forever....

My Thoughts: Sometimes one regrets impulse buys reckoning they wasted their money. Sometimes one is happy with their impulse buys, glad they went for it. And sometimes one is really amazed at one's own genius in giving into impulse.


I just said that about the previous book didn't I? But it applies to this one as well - and call me a happy camper that two impulse buys turned out so well! I really liked this one. I liked it so much that despite just buying two books I've been waiting months for, I kept reading this one. I was late getting dressed today 'cause I was so busy reading. I haven't done the housework I had planned because I was too busy reading. Gotta love when that happens.

I adored the heroine in this book. Willow is one tough cookie. She's had to be since her mother was murdered when she was only ten. As soon as she was old enough, she made it her life's goal to track down and wreck vengeance on the man who killed her mother even though Willow only knows him as The Bad Man. After tracking him for years, she finally hopes to corner him in San Francisco, even as she is aware that The Bad Man has probably lured her there. She is on her way to a meet with a private detective she hired when she comes across two dead bodies, the detectives and another man. Also at the scene is a police Inspector, Rick Ramirez. He senses Willow's presence, but because she has some pretty awesome superpowers, he's unable to find her; either that night or at other times when she seems to be at the same scene as other crimes. He suspects her, but doesn't really want to as their attraction to each other is overwhelming.

I really enjoyed Rick's character too. He's a rules kind of guy. He lives buy the book and his world is one of black and white until he's confronted by Willow who is all kinds of gray. Their opposite personalities really made for some great and spicy scenes between them. It was rather fun watching Rick having his carefully ordered world rocked.

The secondary characters were also very interesting - from his rather mysterious herself grandmother, to Morgan, Willow's computer geek best friend and partner. This is the third book in a series about Guardians, a select group of people who have inherited supernatural powers, but even though I haven't read the first two, it was no problem following this story at all. Though I did check my handy dandy spread sheet and it seems I have the first in the series - somewhere in the house. Once I get my library back, I'll have to see if I can find it!

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Ack!! Again a long absence :-(

I don't know why I've been away for so long. It wasn't planned or anything. I have a couple of theories as to why I've been absent for all this time. BTF (before the fall) I used to spend hours at the computer and while whiling away the hours, I confess, I did a lot of smoking. Since I'm still one of those reformed ex-smokers, it's been best to avoid places I associate with smoking for a while since though I haven't given in, the urge to give in at times has been very strong.

In addition, I'm back to work full time now. I'd been at my current position for less than a month BTF, and in the time I was off there were a number of changes. So when I went back to work, not only did I have to relearn the job itself since I hadn't had that much time at it, I had to learn all the changes that had been made while I was off. On top of that, my energy level has been way down still so when I got home, not only have I been mentally tired brain learning wise, I've also been tired physically wise.

So - what else has been going on with me?? Not a whole lot. The past day and a half have been snow days here in London. We've been hit by a major snow streamer, the likes of which hasn't been seen for quite some time. The office closed yesterday at two and didn't open at all today. Of course I did not know that and drove all the way into work, only to see 3 cars in the parking lot and no one at reception. I ran into one head person who said the office was closed and hadn't I been notified? Um, no. I couldn't help but chuckle - here I was, the one with the broken leg and all and I made it in only to find out I didn't have to. Still - it gives me an opportunity to update here - long past due.

I haven't been reading that much. So far in this month of December, I've only finished one book - and that one was almost 3/4 read in November.

On the plus side though, I've passed the record set since I started recording the books read back in 2004. My previous high was 105 books in 2005 and so far in 2010, I've read 108 books. The vast majority I've read this year are Contemporaries, followed by Romantic Suspense. The third highest number is Historicals followed by Westerns though I haven't read any Westerns for a while. (once again, great graphs are thanks to Rosario!!)

I checked at Chapters and Jo Goodman's latest, Marry Me is out and the Chapter near me lists 7 copies. When I checked it out, there were none on the shelf. When I asked a clerk, he told me they probably weren't out yet as it wasn't the "official" release date.

That was a lot of hooey of course, they just hadn't put them out yet, but I decided I was too tired to make him go to the back and get me a copy. Next time if the same thing happens, I won't be so lenient *g*. They've always gone to the back for me in previous visits.

My poor Kobo is on the fritz. When last I charged it and turned it on, all book had disappeared off of it, even the pre-loaded books. Since I haven't been reading that much lately, I haven't bothered trying to load them back on. It's going to take greater concentration powers than I seem to have theses days. Though since Oldest Son is also off today, I think I'm going to get him to have a look see if I have problems. Though on second thought that might not be such a good idea. OS manages to break many, many things around here (including my leg). Speaking of OS, he's moving out next week.

While I love him dearly and he hasn't been that bad of a tenant (he's been great at shoveling out the snow), it's time. It's time. Yes, it is time!!

And last for this particular post, AAR posted their Top 100. Once again - for the third time - Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase came in top spot, followed by *drum roll please* Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas! Amazingly, I've read 92 of the top 100. Go visit and check it out? How many have you read? Any books you haven't that interest you now? And what do you think of the list?