Review: A Highland Wolf Christmas (Heart of the Wolf, Book 15) by Terry Spear

a highland wolf christmasHeroine: Calla Stewart is not walking but running away from the aisle. She has no interest in reconnecting with her ex-fiance and leader of the pack, Baird. She has a holiday party to plan at her friends the McNeils and Grants and is looking forward to getting away. Until Baird chases her from her car to their property.

Hero: Guthrie MacNeill, is there to protect Calla with other members of his pack. The two have a little history, but peripherally because of their commitments to previous partners. Guthrie is the financial advisor for his clan and werewolf pack, and doesn’t see the point of spending money frivolously. He remembers a time when the clan was near the brink of starvation and doesn’t want to see them there again.

Review: Terry Spear juggles a lot of names and wolf clans in this book. The major players were easy enough but the plethora of side characters and cameos from previous books left me a little confused. I think some of the motivation would have been clearer to a reader who’d read previous books in the series than it was to me. Some of the wolf-logic was lost on me. They were immortal wolves? Wolves only had sex with other wolves when mating? I’m just glad that her ex was all bark and no bite.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: A Highland Wolf Christmas (Heart of the Wolf Book 15)

Audio Review: Once More, My Darling Rogue (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, Book 2) by Lorraine Heath

once more my darling rogueHero: Drake Darling isn’t his real name, but it’s the one he uses. Drake’s father was an awful abusive man who murdered his mother. Drake watched him hang. He was taken in by a nice well-to-do family and raised as one of their own, even though he wasn’t. He can charm any woman, but Lady Ophelia Lyttleton. She knows what he is and makes sure he knows it too.

Heroine: Phe (Ophelia) loses her memory in an accident she can’t recall. She doesn’t even really know who she is, but the man, Drake, who says he’s her employer makes her feel safe. She likes that feeling even if the rest of what he says seems false. How can she be a servant? She doesn’t even know how to do the basic things a servant does!

Review: This book started off very strong for me and kept it’s pace right up to the last portion of the book. Then the story kind of nosedived and hit concrete instead of landing in the pool. I didn’t like that the author made the heroine a victim of incestuous rape in order to make her likable. Not to diminish the horror of it, but the whole thing reeked like a cop-out. I liked the heroine perfectly fine when she was an uppity chit with airs and so much pride she became a snobby ill-bred person around the hero. She could have been a product of her upbringing like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. She even had lovely Emma undertones as her personality was revealed in little pieces here and there as her memory loss allowed her to flourish away from what society demanded of her. It’s really too bad because for me it took the book from a five star rating and plummeted it. For somebody else it might work.

Narrator: At first I didn’t really like Helen Lloyd as she narrated the heroine’s part. Her voice didn’t quite jive, but as the story progressed I learned to like her. James Adams had a very nice voice and I liked listening to him a lot. It’s always fun to listen to men narrate romances.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Once More, My Darling Rogue (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, Book 2), Once More, My Darling Rogue (Audio Book)

Audio Review: Conversion (Conversion, Book 1) by S.C. Stephens

conversionHero: Teren Adams is a gorgeous twenty-something year old architect who just so happens to be part vampire. He really wants things to work with Emma and can’t believe she’s still with him after the dropping the news of his vampirism. He’s terrified of her meeting his family – because they’re pushing for babies and are worried he’s going to die soon and not be able to make any. He and Emma aren’t even married yet!

Heroine: Emma can’t believe Teren is a vampire… or part vampire. He has a heartbeat. It’s kind of cool – she thinks -she’s not sure. Meeting his parents seems a little sudden and gulp they’re vampires too. His great-grandma is even a full fledged vampire. Yikes! But then they drop the bomb that the two need to quickly make a baby because Teren will die and reach his vampire maturity. That’s a real kicker. Maybe even a deal-breaker.

Review: This story has a punchy beginning which is especially cute but it skips forward past the romance and starts again after the characters are in love. Teren reveals his half-vampire status and it’s a race in the sack to get pregnant because he’s about to cross over into his more vampiric state. That bugged me. I would have preferred wooing, romancing, sexing, marrying, and eventually babying… but the story went all over the place on that score and sex scenes became very sterile. It drags a bit through the “I’m a vampire” “No way” “Yes. See fangs?” “Oh my gosh! Fangs!” “Fangs.” “You’re a vampire!” stage. There’s also a lot of animal magnetism in the book which I didn’t like. The story picks up when a vampire hunter kidnaps them. Will Emma and Teren live through it or will they both be murdered in vengeance?

Narrator: Piper Goodeve has a nice voice and is the main reason I was able to get through the whole book. She does an excellent job narrating.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Conversion, Conversion (Audio Book)

Audio Review: Midsummer Magic by Catherine Coulter

midsummer magicHero: Philip Hawsbury is no longer the second son. When his older brother died, he became the next Earl of Rothermere. Now his father is on his deathbed and Philip must fulfill a longstanding promise his father made to impoverished Alexander Kilbracken, the Scottish Earl of Ruthven. He must marry one of the daughters – Viola, Clare, or Frances.  He has no desire to wed anyone and would prefer to stay in London with his mistress. Now how can he proceed to do both?

Heroine: Frances does not want to be married off to Philip or really anyone sight unseen. She’s certain he’s going to be an arrogant Sassenach. She’s the apple of her father’s eye and has a premonition that her father would like to see her marry the man. Since she must be present and participate, she decides to do so in the worst way possible. While her sisters, Clare and Viola, vie for the young earl’s attention, she’s going to make herself ugly, aloof, and a shrew. Little does she know that she presents the perfect image of a wife for Philip – who wants to fulfill his father’s promise, but leave the missus behind at Desborough Hall while he pursues his London life unchecked and unencumbered.

Review: This book comes from the era of the “bodice-ripper” / “forced seduction” and has the flaws that associate with that period of romances. The hero for instance is not a worthy hero by today’s standard’s. He’s shallow and doesn’t learn to love the heroine in her disguise, but rather falls for her [beauty] when it comes off. He’s also either a product of his times or an idiot because he doesn’t think wives should be treated like mistresses and in so believing makes zero attempts to please his bride when he and she do their “duties” to conceive.  But it’s supposed to be acceptable and tolerable because both characters don’t know any better. Baloney. He also likes to pretend he’s the wounded party in all of this, which is very aggravating.

When he’s not being an irritating jerk he at least remembers the cream (which is not saying much.)

It should be noted that the heroine’s characterization starts off great – she’s feisty, stands up to her father, and tries to trick the hero with a “clever” ugly duckling disguise. But then this tom-boyish, heart of gold (she walks miles to visit her father’s tenets,) strong heroine gets replaced by someone else entirely during their “honeymoon” stage. She’s uncertain, quiet, mousey, and timid – and not just for the appearance of keeping up her disguise.

So what did work for me was the beginning and the initial set-up.

Narrator: Anne Flosnik as usual had a wonderful performance. She is one of the reasons I stuck with the story to the end.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Midsummer Magic (Magic Trilogy), Midsummer Magic (Audiobook)

Review: Ravishing the Heiress (Fitzhugh Trilogy, Book 2) by Sherry Thomas

ravishing an heiressHero: Fitzhugh is an impoverished Earl, who recently inherited his earldom. If he doesn’t wed for money he and his family will be doomed to live in poverty forever. The idea of a loveless marriage does not appeal to him in the slightest as he is in love with a beautiful woman… but he can’t provide her with the life she deserves and she isn’t as wealthy as he needs. So, for the love of duty and England, he will marry Millie instead.

Heroine: Millicent (Millie) is a sardine-canning heiress. She’s not gentry, she’s not beautiful… and she isn’t Isabelle. She agrees to marry Fitz knowing that he doesn’t love her. She proposes that they abstain from consummating the marriage for a few years and then get together long enough for them to beget an heir. Fitz thinks that is a great idea because he can’t imagine wanting to sleep with his wife and proposes an extension of the abstinence plan.

So, of course, the beautiful Isabelle returns freshly widowed and ready to start an illicit affair with Fitz just when the married couple plans to consummate the marriage.

Review: My big issue with this book is the flaunting of adultery as the hero cheats and screws his way around London. He’s even willing to abandon his wife publically for a calculating harpy, just because his younger self thought he was in love with the woman. Ugh. I did however, like Millie, even if she took the role of doormat. I got her as a character. She loved Fitz at first site, is a young teenage girl, and believes she’s causing him more harm than good by being married to him. Sure it is a bit delusional, seeing as she’s bringing way more to the marriage with successful businesses and wealth while he’s only bringing a title and some land… but… that’s Millie. The hero has very few redeemable qualities and uses his broken heart as an excuse to behave awfully. What I didn’t understand was why Isabelle wasn’t given the cut-direct several times over? She’s clearly not “high society” even if she married well because she relentless pursues a scandal broth that would consume her, Fitz, and her children. In short, if Millie got a very determined admirer who honestly made her feel special and gave her the idea to run away from her loveless marriage, I might have enjoyed the story better.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Ravishing the Heiress

[phpbay]ravishing heiress sherry, 10, 377, “”[/phpbay]

Review: Lingerie and Felons by Ros Baxter

9780857991393Summary: Lola is always wearing the wrong underwear at the worse times… like upon arrest. Wait! Let’s back up a minute!

Lola’s parents repeatedly told her she could make a difference growing-up. Lola wants that. She wants to have purpose and be a force of change… The trouble for Lola is that she’s not sure what force of change she wants to be. As she tries to help she slips into and out of tricky legal situations such as the aforementioned arrest.

Along the way Lola meets a handsome Australian broker and a sexy lawyer with Superman tendencies. Her heart is torn and the choice should be easy, but there isn’t a pair of undies to tell a girl what to do and who to be with… Lola will have to figure that out on her own.

Review: I really enjoyed Wayne. When he’s first introduced he’s clearly the opposite of the heroine. They butt heads on a lot of issues. I loved that he switched Lola’s nickname on the first date and started to call her Rocket. That was really cute.

Wayne gets Lola on a level that she’s terrified of because on the surface Wayne is all wrong. She’s hardcore save the planet, hippy, libertarian, democrat and he’s a “heartless” and “soulless” suit, except he isn’t. Wayne is greatly amused by Lola and her passion for making a difference. It changes him throughout the novel. I really felt for him and wanted him to find someone special who loved him and wanted to be with him.

The greatness that is Wayne aside, I do not like Lola, and since the story is from her point of view (POV) that puts me in a predicament. I liked her fine in the beginning of the story, but actions she takes reveals that Lola is narrow-minded and shallow about what is right and what is wrong, and she argues instead of debates. Wayne gets in a really good point about money when she’s on her high horse and it makes her very uncomfortable.

Then there is Lola’s emotional immaturity. She ends her and Wayne’s relationship when it gets to be “too real” and hides her emotions in another relationship because the man is a safe choice. He’s rebound all the way and she uses this other man, who is equally great (but not great for her), to hide. This is perfectly acceptable in the beginning of the novel when she’s younger and a grad student. Everybody needs some time to figure out what they want and who they want.

But, as the years go by, she should have a better grip on what she wants/needs and not face a panic attack every time she and Wayne cross paths. Lola pushes Wayne away at all of their encounters, tells him lies when she’s scared she might fall back into a relationship with him, and misdirects him (regarding her daughter, Eve). She feels that wanting Wayne means being untrue to herself and punishes him for it. I’m honestly surprised he wanted her after all the years apart and all her crazy. And she hurts another in her endeavor to protect herself from what loving Wayne might mean.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Lingerie For Felons

Review: Tapestry by Karen Ranney

tapestryHero: Alex, the Earl of Cardiff, never planned to be the earl. He had a father and older brother and so went off to war to make his mark. When he returns, he is severely wounded and hides his ravage face and body and heart in the castle of Heddon Hall. His servants are terrified of him. His stepmother despises him. He can’t tell if his estate manager is swindling him because he can’t read due to the loss of one eye and the headaches that come from trying to focus the other. When an uppity little maid arrives, bold as you please, on his doorstep, he’s intrigued despite his attempts to distance himself from her.

Heroine: Lady Laura Blake has had enough of being rebuffed. If Alex won’t return her letters and tell her what is going on she will figure it out on her own. She shows up at his estate in disguise, wearing her maid’s clothes and using her maid’s name. Once inside his household, she’s put to work in the kitchen. Being a scullery maid was not quite what she had in mind! Soon she’s elevated to be his personal secretary and that suits her so much better. Now she can spend her days with Alex… and nights.

Review: The first half of the novel is the best part of the story. If you want a happy ending that’s truly happy end at book one/part one. I enjoyed the setup with the heroine breaking into the hero’s lair as a servant (though how she managed it is a mystery because she’s a family friend, you’d think she’d be recognized by someone – Alex!!) I like Laura’s bumbling in the kitchen, her determination to reach Alex and break down his walls. I loved his elation at recapturing humanity and love.

However, after they come together the story goes downhill as they are separated, when the hero returns to his wartime duties for one last assignment. Laura doesn’t want him to go, but for his masculine and national pride, Alex must. Their separation leads to misfortune as Alex is captured and assumed dead. Laura experiences a miscarriage because of the news and also faces the doubly incapacitating grief of losing Alex and the babe. When Alex gets out of prison, he allows his evil stepmother’s cruel words to sway him from finding the truth of what is going on with Laura which causes a big misunderstanding. My friends, you know me, and you know I love angst, but holy moly this is too much. I also like more time together with the main characters and less time apart.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Tapestry

[phpbay]tapestry karen ranney, 10, 377, “”[/phpbay]

Audio Review: The Naked Earl (Naked Nobility, Book 4) by Sally Mackenzie

naked earlHero: The Earl of Westbrooke, Robert “Robbie” Hamilton, has no trouble getting “it” up. No, the problem lies in keeping “it” up. This road block is tied to a humiliating moment in his youth and he’s unable to let the incident go. Just when things begin to heat up — like seeing the inebriated and naked Lizzie in her room — the memory will crop up and the excitement turns to frustration.

Heroine: Lady Elizabeth “Lizzie” Runyon, is the younger sister of Robbie’s best friend, James. She has been in love with Robbie most of her life and would like nothing better than to marry him. When he falls through her window (escaping across the rooftop from a calculating marriage-minded spinster), during a house party, she takes advantage of his naked state and her own, by stealing innocently passionate kisses.

Review: When the guests come running to her door, he begs her for silence and so while she could have kept him all to herself, she does as he asks, which I think takes guts. Of course, Lizzie feels Robbie will come around properly to ask for her hand and is flummoxed when he does not. There was a lot of potential with the book and where it fell flat for me was the passion fizzled at its highest points (and I don’t mean when it fizzled for Robbie as those were some of the better moments in the book because you could really feel his anxiety and frustration over his reactions or lack thereof). Robbie really wanted to be the man he felt Lizzie deserved and needed/wanted. The best-friend’s-sister or brother’s-best-friend trope is a tough one for me to warm up to, but I found myself rooting for the two quite early in the novel. The momentum just didn’t keep up with my expectations.

Narrator: The narrator was exceptional and one of the reasons it was so easy for me to get involved in the romance. I would recommend listening to Terry Donnelly if you get the chance. She’s very good at the intimate moments and keeping characters straight and reads very lively and with emotion. (4.5 of 5 Stars)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Sally MacKenzie Bundle: The Naked Earl, The Naked Gentleman, The Naked Marquis, The Naked Baron, The Naked Duke, The Naked Viscount, The Naked King

[phpbay]naked earl sally mackenzie, 10, 377, “”[/phpbay]