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: The Duke’s Deceit by Sherrill Bodine

Sherrill Bodine duke deceitHero: Richard, the Duke of Avalon, knows he’s made a terrible mistake. His fiancé is a horribly vain and self-centered chit, more concerned with appearances than him. When he makes a decision to travel right before the wedding to visit a philosophy professor in Scotland, she informs him that if he does not return with plenty of time for the wedding, she will call it off. He’s eager to skirt the deadline in hopes she will actually follow-through on her threat.

Heroine: Mary Masterton faces a terrible conundrum. Her late father amassed debts trying to realize a stud farm to a local noble. Sir Robert insists she wed him to cancel the debts, but Mary has no interest in the creep. When a heroic stranger is knocked unconscious by a falling timber while aiding her in rescuing horses from a fire, she claims him as her fiancé. When he wakes, he has no memory at all. He recovers and sticks around fulfilling all the desperate longings of Mary’s heart… but can she keep a man she loves in the dark?

Reviews: What Mary doesn’t know about the barn fire is that it was staged. Readers will realize right away who is behind the attack, or do they? There’s more going on then what is happening on the surface. It’s a little convoluted – involving a late grandmother, a cousin, a fortune, America, and blackmail.

Mary is a kind and tenderhearted heroine. She wants to tell the truth but is convinced by many parties that to reveal her deception to Richard would cause him irrefutable harm in his condition. He might die! So she holds her tongue, falls in love with him, and then the tables are turned. He regains his memories (not unusual) and pretends otherwise to get at the truth Mary hid. I liked Richard the man when was suffering under amnesia, he’s less likeable as the Duke in his initial dealings with Mary.

Narrator: Susan Duerden is a likeable narrator. I would describe her voice a bit like a stage whisper. It does not sound like how she might usually talk and is pitched a little low and a little husky.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Duke’s Deceit, The Duke’s Deceit (Audiobook)

Review: Love Water Memory by Jenny Shortridge

love water memoryReviewed by Karin

This is a romance, but not your typical billionaire meets servant girl. While those are not my genre to read, I thought this would be more fun or intriguing. Perhaps I expected it to be more reminiscent of Eat, Pray, Love, because of the similarity of the title. No, it is not.

And I expected more of it, because of all the many book jacket blurbs that were hyperboles. Maybe that set me up for a fall.

I thought it might be on a par with Remember Me, but it is not. While I thoroughly enjoyed Remember Me. This book was difficult.

This is a grown up romance, more real — based on dissassociative fugue (but not didactic, even though you may learn more than you’d like about this mental disorder.) While not depressing, it is not a happily ever after story. I can learn about this disorder without having to read it in a novel which I hope to read for pleasure.


From the book jacket back cover:

Acclaimed novel now in paperback.

If you could do it all over again, would you still choose him? [This is more or less an age-old question, that occurs after the ‘hapily ever after’ end of fairy tales.] At age thirty-nine, Lucie Walker has no choice but to start her life over when she comes to, up to her knees in the chilly San Francisco Bay, with no idea how she got there or who she is.”

She doesn’t remember the trauma that has caused her memory loss, a crime she witnessed when she was younger. She doesn’t remember her quiet fiance, to whom she is to be married in two months.

Together they find each other again, but the end is ambiguous. The author has intentionally left it up to the reader to determine how the romance will go. After the ending there are a series of questions to use for a book club, and an interview with the author. Maybe you should start with those first.

While beautifully written, I give it 3 out of 5 stars. (I don’t call it ‘warm’ or ‘brilliant’ or even particularly ‘hopeful’ as some of the book jacket blurbs call it.)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Love Water Memory

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Audio Review: Over the Edge (Kincaid Brides, Book 3) by Mary Connealy

over the edgeHero: Seth Kincaid has landed in some very unusual circumstances. He survived a fire, ran off to partake in the Civil War, and apparently got hitched along the way. He just can’t remember it. He wants too, though. Very much.

Heroine: Callie has been praying and searching for her missing husband. Chances are he’s dead. But when she finds out he’s alive, well, you can’t blame her for wanting to wring his neck for abandoning her. The stupid man wants to rekindle their love, but she’s not so sure she can trust him.

Review: You will start this story off with a bang. Literally. You are in the middle of a robbery and a shooting. Callie is one tough cookie. More focus on romance, less on Seth’s secret subplot. In the end it was missing something for me and I just wasn’t enamored.

Narrator: Hillary Huber has a nice range in voices, but it was extremely hard to hear the exposition in Hillary’s natural voice, which is a lower register than the heroine’s voice. It broke the flow for me in a big way and kept drawing me out of the story.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Buy: Over the Edge (The Kincaid Brides Book #3)

Review: Her Forgotten Betrayal by Anna DeStefano

Her Forgotten BetrayalReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Shaw Cassidy has been the victim of trauma due to awful events at her mansion where it is believed an assassination attempt made on her life has left her with amnesia. It doesn’t help that she is the heiress to Cassidy Global Research, as well as their CEO, as it has made her a target for every cash hungry nut around. As her life is in danger, she is being protected by an FBI agent, Cole Marinos, but he has other reasons for wanting to be around her.

Review: Two people are brought together in this story, but the real mystery is why Cole’s really there, and what had he done before, and what does he think she is guilty of. She is under doctor’s orders to look after herself, get well and get over the attack on her life but her bad nerves can’t be tossed aside as easy as she still has the nightmares from her ordeal.

Shaw has everything a woman could want, an important position at the top of a company, the respect of everyone around her, the huge mansion house and the ability to buy whatever she wants. She’s the poor little rich girl, but there is someone around who can ground her – Cole is an ordinary guy who doesn’t care that she’s filthy rich, even though he helps her with her problems, he still treats her as he would anyone else, using darlin’ a lot around her. If anyone can protect her, he will, and he cares for her more than she thinks. There is also the problem of the suspect shooter, and his or her motivation for doing it that still lurks in the back of Shaw’s mind.

Verdict: The story was shorter than it should have been, and felt rushed, but the two main characters are thrilling and exciting to read about.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Her Forgotten Betrayal

Review: Mockingjay (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 3) by Suzanne Collins

Brief Overview: 13 Districts rebelled against the Capitol. 1 was supposedly destroyed while 12 suffered under a harsh treaty for 75 years. Now we’re back at the beginning and once more 13 Districts are rebelling. This time is different though, because this time the rebels have a cause and a face of the revolution: Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire. The Capitol has Peeta, captured from the Quarter Quell, and they wield him like a weapon against Katniss. Can she survive a broken heart?

WTF? No seriously, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot…???

“Are you, are you coming to the tree?
Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me.
Strange things did happen here.
No stranger would let it be if we met up
At midnight in the hanging tree.”

Wishlist: Katniss needs to sing to Peeta, like a lot and happy songs or songs about hope. Her singing made an impression on him at 5, she should sing that song again! Break down all those shiny memories in one fell swoop. :D

My 10 Favorite Scenes:

Not in order of preference or sequence in book.

  1. Katniss figuring out how Snow is really using Peeta. Angst! Angst! Angst!
  2. Brainwashed Peeta (attacking Katniss). Well, until I realized there’s wasn’t a cure-all for it. Stupid shiny memories.
  3. Real or Not Real. This was a good one…

    “You’re still trying to protect me. Real or not real,” he whispers.

    “Real,” I answer. “Because that’s what you and I do, protect each other.”

  4. Peeta figuring Katniss out. Not that she tries to help him sort it all out. She runs a bit too often for my tastes.

    “Ally.” Peeta says the words slowly, tasting it. “Friend. Lover. Victor. Enemy. Fiancee. Target. Mutt. Neighbor. Hunter. Tribute. Ally. I’ll add it to the list of words I use to try to figure you out. The problem is, I can’t tell what’s real anymore, and what’s made up.”

  5. Peeta trying to remember the truth about them. Can we say ouch? So freaking awesome… the angst!!!

    “I must have loved you a lot.”

  6. Declaration of Love. Such as it was… (who else wanted more to this scene? I did!)

    “You love me. Real or not real?”

    I tell him, “Real.”

  7. Who is Peeta? The most telling sentence Katniss ever said…

    “You’re a painter. You’re a baker. You like to sleep with the windows open. You never take sugar in your tea. And you always double-knot your shoelaces.”

    He also likes the color orange.

  8. Peeta remembers? It looks like it with these sentences but he still comes off as damaged beyond repair in the epilogue. Sniff.

    “Katniss. I remember about the bread.”

    and

    “Let me go!” I snarl at him, trying to wrest my arm from his grasp.

    “I can’t,” he says.

  9. Katniss killing President Coin. Needed. Though, I won’t lie the aftermath of that is pretty confusing. Being trapped in Katniss’ head did not give a big picture view of what was going on outside her impromptu prison/isolation. I bet the movie will do it better.
  10. Katniss and Gale parting. Gale is bitter, but he was not a good match for Katniss. She’d lose herself completely in his hatred. In broken Peeta, perhaps our equally broken Katniss can heal?

Conclusion: The Hunger Games Trilogy is not a romance. It’s a dystopian warfare driven trilogy with romantic elements. If it was a romance, the ending would have been sweeter, Peeta wouldn’t have been brainwashed and his character mutated (I once did this to a fanfic character, oomph, cheated the whole story, so I know what I’m talking about here). He should have been fixed more than he was at the end.

Peeta was the driving force of the romance in the story, because Katniss never truly confessed in a declaration of love (to herself or to Peeta, though she does tap dance around it several times). At least not like how we know them in the romance genre. At best it was halfhearted, and while “Real or Not Real” was good, it could have been better. For example something like, “Real. I love you Peeta and here’s why…” With Katniss blind and resistant from the beginning to her feelings she needed to really open up at some point to Peeta.

“All those months of taking it for granted that Peeta thought I was wonderful are over. Finally, he can see me for who I really am. Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly. And I hate him for it.” – Katniss

So in effect, warping Peeta warped the romance. He had all the best lines too between them, which you can see when you check out my favorite scenes between the books.

Also, I get that PTSD would have been prevalent, but romances as we define them in the genre mean a real HEA, where the characters heal each other and not merely survive together (and watch their kids play on top of mass graves… shudder).

“Oh, that I do know…Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can’t survive without.” – Gale

Additionally, I don’t buy that Katniss would have had children with Peeta. That was a no-go from the get-go.

I feel all this could have been fixed with an additional chapter or longer epilogue. I doubt I am alone in this.

What really needed to be addressed and was never addressed, was Katniss’ statement to Peeta revealing that Haymitch orchestrated the romance on her part during the first Hunger Games. She implied most of it was Haymitch, but not all of it was Haymitch. If Peeta had latched onto that semantic like a pitbull we could have gotten somewhere with her. :P

Final thoughts: So yes, I was disappointed with the romance, but the trilogy is a good one. Peeta makes the series for me, no question. I would reread it for him alone.

Bonus: 74 Books to Read if You Love the Hunger Games

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxed Set, The Hunger Games Trilogy (digital)

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Review: Maximum Witch by Jodi Redford

Reviewed by Susan S.

Summary: Book Three in That Old Black Magic Series

Maxwell Truitt (hero) is a shark-shifting sheriff. And for reasons unbeknownst to me, I want to sing that to the tune of Bob Marley’s song, I Shot the Sheriff.

All right, let’s move on. Max is patrolling the Atlantic one night when he rescues a woman from the clutches of a leviathan. And now Sheriff Truitt wants answers! Why was the leviathan so far from its territory? Why was Willa Jameson (heroine) parked near the ocean…at night? Max may want answers, but he’s not going to get them. For starters, Willa’s unconscious. When she does come to-she doesn’t remember what happened. And when she does remember, her memories can’t be trusted. Someone’s tampered with them.

The sheriff and his seal-shifting friend (Boone) will give Jameson medical assistance and nurse her back to health. But their involvement with the witch is about to plunge them into a deep-dark oceanic secret. A secret that may herald a horrific Armageddon. It’s a race against time to find Poseidon’s trident! Can a shark-shifter, one seal, and a witch save mankind from annihilation? May…be. After all, Willa’s not exactly-human.

Review: Ms. Redford is exceptionally proficient in escapism. In this third novel in That Old Black Magic series she introduces us to a plethora of new characters (all shifters): sharks, seals, dolphins, eels, walruses, and soul collecting leviathans. Just to name a few. Those readers who enjoy fantastical worlds will enjoy the portal journey from a land based Georgia into a watery Atlantis.

I felt that Maximum Witch was funnier than the earlier installments, and thoroughly enjoyed Willa’s inner slut as well as her naked cowgirl. It was also nice reading the contrasts between what the characters’ were thinking vs. what they actually say. It’s those contrasts that shed light onto the characters themselves, and also make for some comedic moments for the reader.

Because books one and two explored the witch-familiar link, I kept expecting Maximum Witch to do the same. Which sadly, it didn’t. On the plus side, the author gives us an eerie insight into the leviathans’ powers. How the soul collecting ones track a soul and how they’re able to transform their physical appearance, etc. This is one of those I can’t-get-enough-of series! And I’m eagerly awaiting Getting Familiar with Your Demon. It’s about a virgin witch and a demon soul collector named Samael Gorasola.

Recommendations: Recommended for sea loving paranormal erotic romance readers, erotic readers, adults who enjoy the fantasy genre, and those who like stories about Atlantis. Note: This novel contains certain paraphilic scenes such as steamy voyeurism and exhibitionism. It also has M/F and M/F/M sexual encounters.

What I Enjoyed:

Favorite Character: I thought the antagonist rocked! Reva’s a homicidal siren. If her ear-splitting wail can crack a driveway, imagine what it could do to your eardrums. Reviewer shudders violently.

Scene: There’s a scene where Max and Willa are having sexual intercourse in a Jacuzzi and Boone’s watching them. `Course it isn’t long before he goes from watching to participating. Reviewer grins wickedly. Then rereads the scene for the umpteenth time.

Disclaimer: I received this novel free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

What’s Next? Getting Familiar with Your Demon which releases in Feb. of 2012.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Maximum Witch

Samhain Publishing, Ltd., eBook, Copyright 2011, Paranormal Erotic Romance, ISBN# 978-1-60928-530-2.

Movie Review: Boys Over Flowers starring Hye-sun Koo, Min-ho Lee, and Hyun-joong Kim

What You Need to Know: Boys Over Flowers is a Korean TV romantic drama. It runs for two seasons with a total of 25 episodes. The series is based on a Manga series of the same title which I have not read. There’s been other adaptations of the Manga besides this one with differences.

Recommended: If you like/love/drool over Twilight; if you adore foreign films, especially Asian ones, and can read with ease lots of subtitles or know Korean; if you’re a girl lol—:D; if you like love triangles or if you like YA romances… any one of these and you should see this show; more than 3 of these and you’d be a fool not to see it!

Plot: The story takes place at an elite boarding school where only the top 1% of Korea’s wealthy children attend (and even then some of them can’t get into the school.) Geum JanDi saves a bullied male student from committing suicide while running clothes from her father’s dry cleaning business to the school. Journalists and the public voice are having a field day with it until the school’s president decides to offer a scholarship spot to the girl. From there JanDi runs into the F4, a group of popular boys that run the school, and immediately gets on Goo JoonPyo’s bad side. What follows is a wonderfully complex soap opera full of awesome.

The Love Triangle: (Lots of Twilight references ahead…just because it’s a common base for most to jump from…) It’s so hard to choose because they’re both like Edward Cullen more than Jacob Black.

One of the guys – Goo JoonPyo even has his own crazy hot wild hairdo. It’s curly! It’s adorable. I love it. He’s the possessive one and is basically all of Edward Cullen’s darker qualities, but with a tender streak too. Min-ho Lee who plays Goo JoonPyo has a very expressive face and a really hot body. Yum!

The other guy – Yoon JiHoo is all of Edward’s sensitive artistic aspects combined with his aloofness. Hyun-joong Kim who plays JiHoo is also very hot. I want to go to Korea and date these two boys (seriously! Wow!) JiHoo dislikes all the stupid drama at his school and often rushes to Geum JanDi’s rescue.

The girl – Geum JanDi is a very warm character. She likes to eat, stand up to bullies, and like Bella Swan prefers to stand on her own two feet and not accept monetary bribes or help from the guys. JanDi is played by Hye-sun Koo and the girl is adorable with big eyes. I love how she walks a bike back and forth when she’s not pedaling it – cute!

Final Thoughts: This show has it all – boarding school, school wide bullying/hazing, love triangle, side romances, drowning 3 times? 4 times? something like that, 2 physical disabling incidents, amnesia, lots of fainting and passing out immediately into dead sleeps, faked accidents, fake hospital stays, vacations, backstabbing, revenge, kidnapping, innocents getting setup, getting caught in a blizzard, three proposals, an arranged/forced marriage, estranged family getting reunited, and the kitchen sink in there somewhere too!

Rating: ★★★★★ – Don’t walk, run! Get a copy!

As of December 13, 2011 this is on Netflix (streaming).

Buy: Boys Over Flowers (Season 1), Boys Over Flowers (Season 2)

Buy: Season 1:

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Buy: Season 2:

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Buy: Geum JanDi’s Moon and Star Necklace

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