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: Thoroughly Kissed (Charming, Book 2) by Kristine Grayson

Summary: What would you do if you woke up 1000 years from now on another continent with a language that sounds like yours but isn’t? In Emma Lost’s case she learned as fast as she could and became a teacher. Smart move, until her new boss thinks she made it all up because she doesn’t have proper citations. He’s threatening to fire her, her magic is coming in decades too early, and she’s got to cross the US to the west coast before any major disasters happen – like falling for Michael Found.

Should You Read Charming, Book 1? Emma is first introduced in Utterly Charming, which I haven’t read, so no, it’s not necessary to read it first. However, references are made and some are not thoroughly explained, so it’s up to you.

Review: Thoroughly Kissed is thoroughly charming! Kristine Grayson tackles the woebegone Sleeping Beauty fairytale set in modern day mid-west US with wit and humor. This road trip romance features crazy restaurants, mutating housecats, and a bloodless battle in a national park. You’ll believe in magic when you’re done.

Favorite Scene: When Michael is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future/Present also known as Merlin.

Best Side Character: Darnell the cat, especially when he talks.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Thoroughly Kissed

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Review: Persuade Me by Juliet Archer

Reviewed by Carla F.

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel and so I grabbed this one as soon as I saw it. The appeal of the story for me is the thought that no matter how much time has passed nor how large the mistake, it can be fixed.

Summary: In this adaptation Rick Wentworth lives in Australia and is a famous marine biologist who has spent his career studying sea dragons. He is now headed back to England to promote his book which his publishers have fortunately for him decided to name Sex in the Sea. Ever since Anna Elliot refused to marry him and broke his heart, Rick has lived by the motto, “Never forgive, never forgot”. But after ten years, Rick is thinking that once he returns from his book tour, that he needs to finally forget Anna, perhaps marry his supermodel girlfriend and get on with his life.

Anna’s life has been busy with her work as a professor of Russian Literature. She regrets that she let her mother’s friend Lady Russell (or Minty as she is known to her friends) talk her in to rejecting Rick’s proposal. She has kept up with Rick’s career, and she even has a ticket to his Bath book signing, but she doesn’t know if she will have the guts to approach him.

Review: Archer captures perfectly the style and tone of the origin. You see and feel the melancholy. (The advantage this one has over the original is that you get to see it both in Anna and Rick.) There is also the sly humor. (The total cluelessness and self-absorption of Anna’s father Walter Elliot and her sister Lisa is a frequent target.)

I liked how that even though this Rick and Anna had a more intimate relationship than their Austen counterparts, the sexual detail is somewhat vague and left for the most part at the bedroom door. It feels the way that Austen might have written it if she were to do so today.

The fun for me with any adaptation of Austen’s is the way the author fits in all the important plot points and characters. For example, the “Letter” scene is a convincing variation. However, one problem that I had with the overall story is that the keeping Rick and Anna apart felt a little forced. Societal rules in Austen’s time meant that there was a more “natural” barrier in the fact that a woman had to wait for the man to approach her.

Things that made me chuckle: The Forward in the book by Will Darcy who met Rick when he and his sister Georgie were on holiday in Australia.

Any mention of name Dottie Dalrymple.

The thing that creeped me out: William, who is Walter Elliot’s heir, bears enough of a physical resemblance to Walter to make Anna uncomfortable. Her sister Lisa doesn’t even seem to see this and is eager to marry him.

Overall: An excellent version of Persuasion. The author captures perfectly the mood and humor of the original while telling a modern story.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends)

Review: A Weekend With Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly

Couple 1: Soon after finding out her boyfriend was a married louse, Katherine Roberts makes contact with her favorite living Regency romance writer, Lorna Warwick. They become fast friends and Katherine hopes to meet her at an upcoming Jane Austen Convention, but Lorna Warwick is very reclusive; she doesn’t even have an author photo and has said she won’t be going. Why? Because she’s really a man. Warwick Lawton attends the convention, keeping his real identity secret, hoping to make friends and hopefully more with his favorite fan, a woman he’s certain he’s falling head over heels for. Trouble is, he’s not nearly as suave as the heroes he writes about.

Couple 2: A longtime fan of Jane Austen, Robyn Love can’t wait to attend the convention and escape her staid life for the weekend. Unfortunately her long term boyfriend, Jace Collins, decides he’s got to come too, just not the the convention. He hates Jane Austen and wants Robyn to give it all up which is why when Robyn meets a handsome horserider whose interested in her and in Austen she can’t help but give her heart to him. Dan Harcourt can see how manipulative Jace is and can’t understand why his sweet Robyn doesn’t kick him to the curb.

Review: If you love Austen based fiction, you can’t miss A Weekend with Mr. Darcy. It’s in all ways wonderful! Many times Warwick’s bumbling behavior reminded me of Mr. Bingley. I love a hero who knows his feelings for the heroine and yet makes a mess of things trying to get her attention. If I was Katherine, my reaction to the revelation that he was my favorite author would have been quite different! Hubba hubba. ;) I couldn’t understand why it was so difficult for Robyn to let Jace go and grab onto Dan with both fists, but her storyline was equally cute. Jace and Mrs. Soames are characters whose behaviors, scenes, and attitudes, remind you of the unruly Bennets/Mr. Collins and even Lady Catherine de Bough at times in the story depending on what they are doing. I almost felt sorry for Mrs. Soames. She’s so hard to please, and yet I have a feeling she just wants to make friends… maybe… underneath… way underneath… lol

Favorite Scenes: The Austen quiz which was fun, and when the horse is brought inside the house! OMGosh… wow… someone had their brain disconnected with that one. Haha.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: A Weekend with Mr. Darcy

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Review: Faking It by Elisa Lorello

Summary: Writing professor, Andi Cutrone, first sees Devin at a cocktail party and learns he’s an escort. Months after their initial meeting, she calls him up and barters for his services. He will give her one-on-one love lessons and she will give him a one-on-one writing course. It’s a deal he doesn’t initially go for but in the end agrees to and the two sign contracts stating one thing very clearly… falling it love is out. But when does life and love ever adhere to a contract?

Review: Set up a bit like a diary, with the chapters being the month. There are a couple of things I could have done without – a reference to a shady school pediatric doctor for instance. Other things I loved – the emails between Andi and a special someone. Very cute.

Devin is an interesting character with a lot of emotional entanglement issues. He has a love/hate relationship with his father, who thinks he’s gay or a prostitute by turn.

Andi hates her body and is on the heavy side. This and several harsh memories have made her a thirty something virgin who wants to but can’t get intimate.

I was hoping for a little more Sex and the City when it came to their lessons, but that wasn’t the case. A little less literary short pieces would have been nice too as I didn’t feel they did much for the story. The art review at the end though was a good touch.

The story is on the serious side, but the focus on change and growth is nice. Andi falls in love twice and her final romantic relationship is very cute.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Faking It

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Review: Lessons in Love (Cambridge Fellows #1) by Charlie Cochrane

by Sharon S., guest reviewer

First off, this m/m was pure romance, and so sweet I think I got a cavity <G>. I am going to call it a historical mystery. It is set at an all male collage in Cambridge in 1905. The author does an amazing job of giving the feel of the time period. The dialogue and descriptions were very convincing. She captured the formal behavior of how educated men of that time behaved.

I *loved* the character Jonty, even his name tickles me. He is a new English Fellow at St. Bride’s Collage. He is playful and cheerful, which is in sharp contrast to Orlando (love this name too). Orlando is a Professor of Mathematics. He is reserved, sour and naïve to life outside of the collage. Despite their differences they become quick friends. A first for Orlando (Jonty introduces him to many firsts, but I am getting ahead of myself <G>).

Jonty comes from a family that loves him, but he grew up in boarding schools and was brutalized by the older boys. He sees his self as a strong survivor and is determined to enjoy life despite his past. He also acknowledges his preference for men, but is a time when you could be arrested for that type of behavior if you flaunted it.

Orlando came from a family devoid of love and affection. He is 28 years old and has never kissed anyone. He completely shut off his emotions and buried himself in his studies. Never, having experienced passion of any sort, until Jonty.

Their attraction happens slowly and beautifully. Jonty knows what is going on, but doesn’t want to scare Orlando away. Orlando has to work through feelings he didn’t know he could have and the fact that they are for his best friend, a man.

Orlando thinking about Jonty:

Back in November, Orlando had no one in his life he could ever call friend. Then, into his world of gown-black and stone-grey, half tones and half a life, had come this vision of blue and gold, like a ray of spring sunshine against a cloudless sky.

(The blue and gold refers to Jonty’s blond hair and blue eyes, I know, right?)

Orlando confesses to Jonty no one has ever said they loved him:

Jonty took Orlando’s hand and rubbed it. Though it was through the layers of leather and wool, there was plenty of intimacy present in the act. “I’m sure your parents did love you, my dearest friend, even if it wasn’t spoken. Some people just find it too hard to say the actual words-it costs too much, you see.”

Oh, yeah. There are tons of these moments that made my heart melt. Like I said, sweet.

By the way, there was a mystery to be solved . Really, the mystery part of the story takes a back seat to the romance and isn’t all that memorable. Someone is killing gay students on campus and Jonty and Orlando help figure it out. I won’t go into any details because it would spoil the mystery. So we will go back to the important thing…the romance!

I would give this 5 stars based on the romance alone, but the mystery was only average.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Lessons in Love: A Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, Book 1

Audio Review: Vision in White by Nora Roberts

I got the audio book of Vision in White after listening to Bed of Roses. Emily Durante reads it and does a pretty good job at it. She’s probably the only reason I kept listening to the novel. Vision in White is not nearly as good as Bed of Roses. It reads like a Nora Roberts, but it doesn’t feel like one.

The chemistry between Mackensie and Carter is fairly flat. Nora didn’t put much effort into them and it shows. In fact, I think they’re very poorly suited. Mac’s commitment phobic and neurotic. Her craziness will apparently pull Carter out of his quiet shy shell. Carter is meant to subdue Mackensie’s neuroses and add stability to her life. Honestly? I think they’d kill each other or divorce in five years, three if something happened to draw their ire sooner.

Much of the book is filled with Mackensie’s inability to deal with her dreadful mother. Mac is strong in everything but unable to stand up for herself. The woman ill uses Mac and plays every manipulative trick in the book. Mac and Linda both needed to grow up and deal with one another like human beings. It was too much and took too much away from developing the relationship of the main characters.

Carter is a beta hero. He teaches at a local high school even though he has a Ph.D. from Yale. Despite being very insecure with poor social skills when it comes to women, he is somehow an animal in the sack. Oh really now? Hmm… I would have been happier with a virgin hero or Mac taking him in hand and showing him the way.

I kept waiting for some actual conflict or drama to develop. Nothing ever really happened between Mac and Carter. Corina doesn’t count. It was very slow going.

Rating: 2 Stars

Buy: Vision in White, Vision in White (An Unabridged Production)[8-CD Set]

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