Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl

Genre: Contemporary Romance, lawman, small town
Spoiler free description: Molly is a super secret successful erotica writer. She uses a pen name to publish her stories and keeps everyone she knows in the dark about what her occupation is. She's inherited an house in her small hometown and decides to move there to get away from her creepy and annoying ex-boyfriend. And she's looking forward to finding old friends... like her big brother's BFF and her longtime secret crush (and star of her dreams) Ben. The thing is, Ben is happy and living a scandal free life, and he'd like it to stay that way. And did I mention that Ben does NOT want any scandal in his life? And Molly, she's got scandal written all over her, yet Ben can't keep himself away.
The best: Molly's self confidence. I liked how she was happy going after Ben. I loved their scene in Ben's police truck. And the suspense plot that normally would have totally annoyed me had enough twists and turns to be really enjoyable.
The worst: I really liked it all.
Grade A

Nightkeepers by Jessica Anderson

Genre: Paranormal (contemporary) romance
Spoiler free description: I think I would have enjoyed this book much more if it had been billed as a sci-fi rather than romance. I have certain expectations of a romance novel - including have the h/h actually spend quite a bit of time together in the first half of the book, and also including not being overwhelmed by a cast of characters. Leah is a police officer looking into a string of murders - including the murder of her brother - that have ties to a Mayan cult. In the course of the investigation she winds up on an altar tied up like a sacrifice in the middle of some sort of magical ceremony. Just when things are looking like death, she's saved by Jaguar-Strike (no, really, that's his name, but you can just call him "Strike") and then he disappears - AFTER her brain is wiped so she has no memories of him OR the bad guys she's in danger from. That's just he beginning of big scale story about the coming end of the world and the Mayan warriors who will protect us all from the bad things that are coming. As I mentioned there is a LARGE cast of characters and tons of threads left hanging for next books. Very good, but light on the romance for me.
The best: An interesting premise.
The worst: I'm still not completely sure what happened on a magical level that resolved everything. It was a little vague.
Grade C-

To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt

Genre: historical romance
Spoiler free description: This is the first of Elizabeth Hoyts four "The Legend of the Four Solidiers" books. It follows Samuel, an American vetran of the French-Indian war. It's several years after the war and Samuel, now an extremely successful businessman, is visitting London with his younger sister. He asks his neighbor, Emeline, to help his sister "come out" in society. Emeline agrees to help. Samuel and Emeline are very attracted to each other, but she knows she cannot act on it. Especially since she's engaged to a mutal friend of theirs. Samuel is suffering from PTSD after the war and struggling to live as a normal person. This book is a great look at how that played out after the war, given the class and culture of the time. The future books look promising as well.
The best: Great tension. I liked how Emeline's son and Samuel's daughter played into the story. I liked how the possibility of pregnacy was addressed and handled.
The worst: For some reason the mocassins really bothered me.
Grade B+

The Ideal Wife, by Mary Balogh

Genre: historical romance, marriage of convenience
Spoiler free description: Miles is a newly made earl under pressure from his extended family to marry and produce an heir. His family has set up a marriage for him and is on their way to steamroller him into it. Then in walks Abigail, asking for - not money - references to get a new job. She's claiming Miles is a distant relative and has humbled herself to ask for help. She's on her best behavior and nothing like her normally outspoken, rambunctious self. Just like that, Miles proposes, excited to get the quiet and boring bride he can tuck away into the country and continue his life as is. Abigail accepts, feeling a bit guilty that he has no idea what she's really like. Then the fun begins.
The best: I loved how there were no huge misunderstandings. They talked through a lot of things. And each of them with their friends discussed what they were hiding from the other. I loved the pacing of their relationship and how everything built slowly and steadily, and how they worked it all out. Best scene - when his family comes and meets Abigail.
The worst: A little too much drama about the "big" secret she has, considering what it turns out to be.
Grade B+

The Book of Scandal, Julia London

Genre: historical romance, already married.
Spoiler free description: I think my favorite romance gimmick is marriage of convenience, but a close second is the already (unhappily) married. This book starts with unhappily married Nathan and Evie having lived apart for 3 years. Though it's not clear on the back cover blurb, the death of their infant son caused the breakdown in their marriage, which just wasn't strong enough to survive their grief. However, a scandal brewing in London has Nathan bringing Evie home, whether she likes it or not. How they work through things from there is a great story, though more of a tear jerker than I normally like to read.
The best:A very good look at the grieving process and what can tear people apart and what can bring them together. Not rushed, good pacing.
The worst: Actually, a little too much history for me, though that would probably be a strong point for someone else.
Grade B

Hot Mail, by Janice Maynard

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Football!, marriage of convenience
Spoiler free description: Jane and Ethan were best friends for years until they split when Ethan got engaged four years ago. Though he never married and they never renewed their friendship, Jane still has a huge crush on Ethan, and he still considers her a best buddy. She decides to send him anonymous hot mail - erotic poetry - to see if that will bring them together.
The best: It was fun to see them come together and tip toe around each other trying to figure out where they stood. The secondary storyline of Ethan's sister and his co-worker was just as good as the primary HEA.
The worst: The Super big Super Secret of WHO was sending the erotic valentines had me wanting to bang my head on the wall.
Grade C

The Price of Pleasure by Kresley Cole

Genre: historical, romance, island romance
Spoiler free description: I picked this one up because I love Kresley Cole's paranormals. She didn't disappoint. Once again, I started with the 2nd in a series, but that wasn't a problem with following the story. Tori was 13 when she and her governess are shipwrecked on a desserted island. Eight years later - and after a few unsavory attempted "rescues" - Grant shows up looking for her on a commission from Tori's grandfather. Grant doesn't give up and is determined to bring her home and earn the reward he was promised. Unfortunately for him, Tori is just as determined and even more resourceful than he is, and she's not quite sure she wants to leave with him.
The best: Another strong heroine. I enjoyed that Tori always had an ace up her sleeve and didn't ever give up and faint away, even when she really wanted to. I also thought Grant did an admirable job of winning her over.
The worst: The conflict in the book is caused by Grant being stupid, for reasons I really didn't understand.
Grade B