Review: Mad About the Boy by Suzan Battah

mad about the boyReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Julia Mendoza is trying to avoid an ex-friend, Kelly. She bumps into a stranger and asks for a favor. Suzan has made Kelly out to be very obnoxious. We also see that Julia used to be married. This is something that affects her relationships.

Julia owns a business and is on her way to the Augustine Hotel. You can tell what type of business Julia is in by the way she describes the hotel – makes me want to travel to Miami and book a room. Christophe Augustine is part owner of that hotel. Someone else is also at the hotel and this does not make Julia happy.

Suzan has also made Chris’ character a big flirt. This is one time where I wish that a book came with video and sound. Chris and Julia go dancing and the scene makes me wish that I could watch this scene unfold.

Chris loves to surf. And he decided to teach Julia. The descriptions used for these two scenes just seem to turn on our internal televisions. This story also makes you think about consequences and makes you wonder what you would do in certain situations.

I felt that the book was misnamed. It should have been named “Mad About the Man” because I’m not quite sure that a boy would act like Chris does. Another thing I liked about this book was even though it’s a short story; it’s not all about the sex. We get to see the relationship between Julia and Chris build before they truly get involved.

In a lot of romances, we see the male main character having the issues but Suzan puts in a twist and Julia is the one with the issues. It made the relationship seem complicated and strange – not loving. And they’re always misunderstanding each other. Suzan also shows that not all romances are hearts and flowers. Some take work and some have bumps and hurdles they need to get over before things fall into place.

Are you looking for a romance that’s a little different – than you will want to read this book. Her characters are complicated and come with issues. Nothing goes smoothly. But isn’t that what’s going to make you turn the pages.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Mad About the Boy

Review: Tall, Dark and Disreputable by Deb Marlowe

tall dark disreputableSetup: Portia Tofton was rejected once by adventure seeking Mateo Cardea when their fathers tried to arrange a match. He runs all the way to another continent to ensure he wasn’t snared into a marriage with her and he’s stayed far away until now. Even from the grave his father is trying to throw him into her path by willing the shipping company into her lap. It’s a scheme he can see straight through and he’s going to give her a piece of his mind.

Goose Chase: Except everything he thought about grown up Portia is wrong and everything he remembered from their childhood was right. All Portia wants his Mateo’s help in securing her house, which her dead husband had gambled away without telling her about. But what should have been simple leads to a wild goose chase as more and more layers are woven and the new owner of Stenbrooke. If she gets it back, he can have his family’s company back too.

Review: I really liked the goose chase in this book. It was well set up. I really liked the little rendezvous that Mateo and Portia got up to in the woods along the way. Hot stuff! What I liked best was that there was a little of The Gift of the Magi at the end. Each was willing to give up what they loved most for the other to make them happy and if that isn’t love, what is?

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Tall, Dark and Disreputable

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Audio Review: First Comes Marriage (Huxtable Quintet, Book 1) by Mary Balogh

Narrator: I am on an audio book kick. I loved this narrator. Anne Flosnik is great! She makes the book come alive. It’s like listening to a movie with all of her voices. I wanted to drive more around town just for the opportunity to get further in the book!

Heroine: Vanessa Dew is the widowed second daughter of the Huxtable family. She liked her previous marriage, despite its hardships (a young dying husband from the get-go). To save her sister from a loveless match, and to get back into a marriage bed (which she has little experience with but enjoyed) she proposes to the most eligible bachelor in London. She promises to make him happy in bed and out. Can a man resist such an offer?

Hero: Elliott Wallace, the Darcy-like Viscount Lyngate, accepts the unorthodox proposal from the upstart widow. After all, he’s not looking for a love-match, just a monogamous one. He’s surprised by how much he’s attracted to the little plain thing, but her happy optimistic self is irresistible to a man as staid and reserved as himself. Wedded bliss was more than he expected, and Elliott isn’t about to give it up!

Review: The marriage of convenience premise was a little weak, considering Elliott starts the book with a well-bred mistress. Also for as much regret as he appeared to hold in the beginning about agreeing to wed Vanessa, I find his reasons to remain faithful to the marriage odd – I would have found it more reasonable had he finally got why his own father/grandfather had cheated – but then again, Elliott doesn’t believe in love matches – so perhaps his reasoning isn’t so bad, just unexpected.

Some of my favorite scenes are at the beginning with Vanessa proposing and Elliott catching her at her bragging and also on their honeymoon and the field of flowers! I love how she gets him to pick an entire houseful of them. I love Vanessa’s character, she’s wonderfully drawn and inspires a lot of laughs and smiles as you listen to the story. She’s very forthright and this helps smooth over rough patches and turns potential big misunderstandings into adult conversations fast! If you like reasonableness in your heroes and heroines you’ll like this story!

Rating: ★★★★☆

First Comes Marriage

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Review: The Desires of a Countess (The Jordans, Book 3) by Jenna Petersen

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

Just when she thinks everything is alright and the bad times are over, Ginny Blanchard finds that someone else wants to interfere in her life and the raising of her son. Her husband, Henry had died, and she for one is glad he did – he was a cruel man who delighted in hurting her and causing her unhappiness. Little did she know that this someone was Simon Webber, a cousin of the family who will act as a substitute father for her young son, Jack. He has been made trustee of her son’s inheritance and until he becomes of age, both her and her son will have to answer to him.

She wants more than anything to get rid of the man who invades her house, and will do all she can to make sure he has a very uncomfortable stay with her, or so she hopes. Harriet tries to make her understand that he might not be the sort of man who would hurt her, or cause her problems with her son – he might turn out to be a nice man who has her and her son’s interests at heart. Ginny doesn’t see it that way, though and wants to be left alone to live her life with her son and friends.

I found this story to have great characterization; Ginny is a woman who has been hurt all her life while being married to a cruel husband, so she expects every man she meets will be the same sort. She tries to come to terms with what has happened to her over the years, but she finds it hard to trust anyone now that she has the chance to go out into polite society and find another beau. The reader can get to understand why Ginny feels the way she does, and also get into Simon’s mind – even though he seems to mellow out once he is in her good company.

Simon is a no nonsense sort who doesn’t like to be kept waiting, so he doesn’t like Ginny when he first meets her, and who can blame him – after all, she doesn’t want him there. He is impatient, brusque and harsh at first, yet he is amazed at why she is so nasty to him when he arrives – he expected a teary widow, but she was something else entirely. He likes the look of her, and wonders why someone as beautiful as her is so bitter, but then he doesn’t know the whole story. He begins to like her company after a time, but he doesn’t dare tell his best friend, Adam that or he will make fun of him terribly.

It is more a case of if the two of them can settle their differences and come to an agreement, they can make a friendship in the house work, but I somehow think that even Ginny wants more than that.

The Desires of a Countess is a riveting read – it has a depth about it that makes readers want more from their heroes and heroines.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Desires of a Countess

Review: Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, Book 3) by Elizabeth Hoyt

Heroine: Widow Silence Hollingbrook is in a dire situation. To reclaim what she loves she must face the man who callously and cruelly used her to make a point that ruined her marriage. Only of course he doesn’t make things simple. Apparently there’s danger (evil Charlie Grady, the Vicar of Whitechapel) and wouldn’t you know, he’s the father of the baby girl she thought was an orphan.

Hero: River pirate “Charming” Mickey O’Connor is fiercely handsome but woefully unfeeling (or so he thinks, he takes quite good care of those he considers his). He climbed his way to the top of London’s dark and dangerous criminal underworld and has no intentions of falling back down. But when a danger from his past threatens to tear it all down, Mickey acts and once again his actions will prove to be Silence’s undoing.

Review: Scandalous Desires is not to be missed – pirate hero? Hello! It’s a beautifully written story with all the elements that I like including a seemingly heartless hero (he’s dragged into love, but once there he’s going to go all out). I love how Mickey is the engineer of his own romantic downfall – he wants Silence and to get to her he uses Mary Darling, a bastard daughter a whore claimed was his but he knows is not. He’ll keep Mary around because it means Silence will stay because she loves the girl. Of course he falls for both, poor man, haha. Silence and Mikey are enemies, but they aren’t, because Mikey doesn’t really want Silence as an enemy, but plays the part because of his plan to keep her by his side. The only thing left to say is that this is definitely one of the best books of the year!

Rating: 4.5 Stars

(Would have been 5 Stars, but Mary Darling gets sick and drags focus)

Buy: Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane)

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Review: Fortune’s Son by Emery Lee

Reviewed by Susan S.

Summary: Hero, Philip Drake, is the proverbial black sheep of his family. And an embarrassing disappointment to his father, the Earl of Hastings. Philip is a rebellious and impulsive young man; who’s spent the last four years drinking, bedding tavern maids, and gambling. Drake’s life is an unmitigated disaster; a reckless gamester locked in a cycle of wins and losses.

When Philip reluctantly agrees to teach a young widow to play cards, he turns a deaf ear to his friend’s cautionary warning. It’s not long after Susannah, Lady Messingham, enters his life that he finds himself in financial ruin.

Life is about to teach Philip and Susannah that when there’s nothing left to lose, there’s still something to be gained.

Review: I could pardon Philip’s impulsive nature in youth, but felt let down he reverted back to old patterns of behavior (after a ten year military career). His good intentions fell short. Sadly, I wasn’t able to connect with the hero. And when he marries “another” lady for her dowry, I stopped sympathizing with his character. His sulking and self imposed pity also failed in endearing me to him.

Now, the heroine is a horse of a different color. She was more relatable. Here’s this young widow managing her finances for the first time, while trying to maintain her mode of living among societal circles. Sure, she makes mistakes. Some were monumental, but she learns from them. Matures.

I enjoyed the twelve year journey showing the evolvement of the main characters; with their highs and their lows. And think the author did a nice job with the story’s resolution. Her strength lies in presenting the reader with great imagery. Her details also appear to be accurate, seeing as I did verify a few out of sheer curiosity.

The story itself would’ve been much improved with the editing of the terminated near rape scene. It felt misplaced in this story, and would’ve fitted more comfortably within another genre. I would read Ms. Lee’s future novels, but am hoping for a stronger hero next time. As that does seem to be my preference.

Recommendations: This novel will appeal to those readers who enjoy the damaged hero/nurturing heroine as well as the older woman/younger man tropes. If you like card games (like Blackjack) and gambling, this is definitely “the” book for you. I’m also recommending it to those who like to read romantic historical novels, more specifically, during the Georgian era. Certain readers may not agree with the infidelity themes throughout, or with the capture of a young lady (near rape scene).

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

Favorite scenes:

Favorite scene #1: After riding on horseback in the rain for almost four hours, Philip shows up at Susannah’s home completely drenched. LOVE that scene! Wanted more of them. Anyhow, she recommends he remove the wet clothes. Which he does. But he hit a snag; Drake’s having trouble with the wet boots. He can’t take them off. His instructions to her are absolutely hilarious. Picture his leg between hers, Messingham’s rear end facing him-while she’s yanking and yanking. `Course, he loves every minute of it. He’s turned on.

Favorite scene #2: You know what I love about Georgian romances? That there’s always a duel. Some man is always seeking satisfaction, and I love when he gets it! This novel has a duel. J

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Fortune’s Son

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Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc., Historical Romance, November 2011, Mass Market Paperback, Print Pages 445. ISBN# 978-1-4022-5644-8.

Review: Lethal by Sandra Brown

Reviewed by Karin of Savvythinker

Sandra Brown has a prolific imagination, and the good thing is that every book seems fresh, no re-runs. How she does it is anyone’s guess. Lethal is no exception.

I chose this book, given to me by LRP to review. I generally like Sandra Brown’s books. I just don’t want her romantic suspense to go too graphic in violence.

The story:

Lethal opens with action right in the thick of things. And the action is non-stop from there.

Honor Gillette is the widow of a police officer, and she is home alone with her precocious 4 year old daughter, Emily, planning a birthday party for Stan, her father-in-law, when Emily spots a man lying in their yard. When Honor goes to investigate, he turns out to be Lee Coburn, who is accused of a mass murder at a local trucking company. In a matter of seconds he has taken her hostage, using her young daughter as his way of keeping her in line. He is armed and dangerous, but he promises not to hurt her or her daughter if she does exactly as he asks.

And she does and doesn’t.

But is he part of the problem or part of the solution? Did he murder the men or was he a witness? And who are all the corrupt officials and police officers, if they are? And are some of them supposed friends of Honors? And was her husband corrupt too? And was he murdered or was his death an accident? And how does Stan figure in?

Honor quickly realizes she must find the answers to these questions, because in the meantime, if Coburn is correct, someone — or many someones — are out to kill her and her daughter, to keep whatever her husband might have given her, if he did, a secret.

It is especially hard to find, because she has no idea that she has it or what it might be. And first she must convince Coburn of this — and others would be less likely to take her word for it, but would try to torture her to get it.

Complicating matters is The Bookkeeper, merciless in all aspects, who is running the show, and The Bookkeeper does not leave witnesses. One of the enforcers is good (bad as the case may be) with a razor.

What’s at stake:

The Bookkeeper is trafficking for prostitution using the Interstate and corrupt officials who look the other way when shipments of young men and women come through. Those who try to escape are taken out by the above enforcer or in other ways.

Violence:

The murders in the warehouse take place off page. Some of the razor action does not. Other violence occurs, shooting at close range; an explosion; etc.

Friendship and love:

Honor ultimately relies on her friend Tori, who is a good friend indeed. While she has had a colorful life, there’s no question she will do what it takes to keep Honor safe. She contacts a new gentleman friend and asks him to lend her $1 million dollars for a ransom, if it is needed. (I would love to read a book about these two.) He proves himself to be a friend and lover to her, no questions asked and nothing brooked to the bad guys. And Tori is smart enough to realize she is being watched.

Even the man with the razor is not all bad. He has redeeming qualities.

Heads up:

There is a severely handicapped boy, the son of one of the officers, who is cared for at home. There is some discussion about how hard this is to do, as well as how it affects their marriage.

The ending:

I won’t give it away. It’s like an ending, then another ending, then an epilogue — very clever indeed, and the actual ending is very satisfying, clever, and up for grabs, which makes it even more clever.

Does it get any better than this?

My take:

The plot is complicated, but woven together nicely. I guessed some of the plot, but it is spelled out clearly by about half way through the book. The question then becomes staying alive and taking down the operation and the bad guys. I did not guess the hiding place, but I thought I had.

I did my usual, reading the end, skipping back some, hesitant to read my way through, even knowing where it was going, taking it in bits and pieces, because it was scary, just the same.

Rating: ★★★★★

Have you read it?

Karin

Buy: Lethal

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Review: Absolute Obsession by C. Elizabeth

Reviewed by Sharon S.

I was intrigued by the premise of the story, but unfortunately this book didn’t move me. It wasn’t so much the content of the book as the way the story was told. I never felt like I was a part of the story. I was more like an outsider listening to a narration. I never felt connected to the characters. I was just watching them go through the motions.

Another problem I had was the story seemed very plotted out. We went from point A to point B to point C in a methodical and unrealistic way. It is almost like the story was edited too much. It kind of reminded me of the way some YA novels are written, but this is by no means YA. There is some hot sex going on.

I wanted to like this book and I did read it till the end because even though it was predictable, I did want to know how things happened, but I did skim through a big portions looking for dialogue and action. I can see how some types of readers would like this story and its linear progression so I suggest you check out other reviews before deciding it this book is for you.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Absolute Obsession, Absolute Obsession (UK)