Saturday, July 14, 2012

Recent Read

About Last Night by Ruthie Knox

Why this one: I read a pretty good review for it at AAR.  The reviewer said it had been "recommended" by Amazon if she "liked" Sarah Mayberry.  I was getting the same rec and once I read the AAR review, was convinced to try it myself.

Steam Level:  Oooh, it's a steamy one alright.

Blurb:  Sure, opposites attract, but in this sexy, smart, eBook original romance from Ruthie Knox, they positively combust! When a buttoned-up banker falls for a bad girl, “about last night” is just the beginning.
Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it, and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go . . . in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her.

Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine—even her name turns him on—with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies.

When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime?

My Thoughts:  I thought this was a very enjoyable read. It was the story of two opposites, Cath, an American with ties to the Mafia living in England and Nev, a uppercrust businessman with the soul of an artist. Although a contemporary and while not titled, Nev kind of reminded me of how  an author might right the second son of a duke or earl or something.
Both Nev and Cath were well done characters.  Cath was a bit on the prickly side, not wanting to get involved with Nev because of her screwed up past and certainty that someone like him was too good for her screwed up self.  When done right, a prickly heroine is one of my favourite kinds and Cath is done very good.  I love the way Nev, a wonderful Beta type heroes admires so much about Cath.  He is completely gone for her and I love when the hero is so take with the heroine and has to battle to 'win her over'.
And I appreciated that despite his upper class upbringing, Nev, far from being the starchy banker Cath thought he was by the very nickname, City, that she gave him, was very unpretentious and down to earth.  And I also enjoyed the fact that Cath worked so hard to overcome her early mistakes.  I got a kick out of the inner battle she wagered between earlier, wilder Cath and wiser and more mature Cath.

Although I've read English set historicals for years, this is the first contemporary book I can remember reading that is set in England and that made it even more interesting. I like that she was an American trying to make her way in the art world in London.  

I'm glad I have Ruthie Knox's other book, Ride with Me in my queue.  It saves me the time in having to go back and read it.  This is the second LoveSwept title I've read recently and both have impressed me quite a bit.  I have a few other ones in the line now on my Kindle, both new releases like Ride With Me, Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon Stacey and Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry along with some older books rereleased under the LoveSwept line such as Lightning the Lingers by Tom and Sharon Curtins and the next one I plan to get asap, The Last Warrior by Kristen Kyle.  Love those two books!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Recent Read

Because of You by Jessica Scott

Why this one: To be explained below

Steam Level: Just about perfect

Blurb: From the war-torn streets of Baghdad to the bittersweet comforts of the home front, two wounded hearts navigate the battlefield of coming home from war in this explosive eBook original from newcomer Jessica Scott.

Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there's more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he'll never see again- until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.  Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there's a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels - for the first time in a long time - like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty -it's a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected - her deepest desire.

My Thoughts:  Not long ago I got an email from this author asking if I would do a review of her book.  I don’t always respond to requests to review, but something prompted me to this time.  As I was reading the email and then reading the synopsis she had included, it did sound like a book I would enjoy so the next time I went out to a place with WiFi – yes, I still can’t get the WiFi working at home – I bought a copy and sent her an email saying I didn’t like accepting books but I did buy a copy and hopefully I’d be in a mood to read it and would let her know what I thought.

Well, I was in the mood sooner than I thought I would be and started reading Because of You yesterday.  Once I started, I could hardly bear to put it down.  I worked today – I’m working overtime like crazy these days – but even as I was working I was looking forward to getting home so I could read some more.
I’m not quite sure where to begin in describing this book.  From the very first page I appreciated that the hero, Shane Garrison, was a regular soldier.  It’s not that I don’t like SEAL’s but they are becoming the dukes and viscounts and earls of contemporary romance and a little are starting to go a long way.  So I found it refreshing that Shane was a Sergeant First Class.

Another thing that really struck me from the beginning was Because of You has such an authentic feel to it.  Apparently Ms. Scott is a career soldier herself and you can tell with every word and every nuance that this is real.  The characters may be fictional, but they don’t come across that way at all.  They truly come to life, from the hero Shane and the heroine Jen St. James, a nurse who works as a nurse in the army hospital, to the men under Shane’s command and the friends of Jen, each one is so fully alive, you could swear you are reading about real people.

And while this is a romance, it’s a romance plus so much more.  It’s about loss, the loss of a way of life for Shane when he is severely injured and shipped home to recuperate.  His whole identity is wrapped up in leading his men and he’s lost when he can’t be there to protect them.  It’s about physical loss with Jen.  She has lost a part of her body and hasn’t come to terms with it yet.  She is unprepared really for the desire that flares between her and Shane.  It’s about the loss of a partner that Jen’s best friend feels every time her husband and good friend of Shane’s is shipped into combat and it’s about the loss of friends that plagues one of the men under Shane who has also been seriously injured while fighting for his country.

And it’s about healing. It’s how Shane and Jen heal each other.  Shane is a loner who hasn’t had much of a personal life; he didn’t know who his father was, his mother was a drunk and his ex-wife cheated on him and took him to the cleaners.  So he is awed by Jen and who she is.  And with Shane, Jen is forced to confront her own issues that have remained unresolved.

While this is an intense and emotional book, there are wonderful moments of humour, especially in the hilarious character of Carponti, one of Shane’s men and the bane of his existence.

I don’t know what it was that caused me to linger on this one, but I’m sure glad I did.  I missed the buzz when it first came out due to my terrible online track record lately so I’m glad I found it now and will be waiting eagerly for her next book.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5