Monday, March 31, 2008

Forever by Jude Deveraux


Forever - Book 1

It wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be. 

I love Jude Deveraux's early books. Her "Highland Velvet" is my absolute favorite romance novel. But I have to think that ever since she began to venture into time-travel romance and paranormal romance, her quality has dropped off. 

I just didn't find her characters as likeable as they used to be. And the plot deserved to be thicker and juicier. 

I was just disappointed.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Northern Lights by Nora Roberts


This was Nate's book, not Meg's, and man, was that ever cool. 

One of Nora's biggest strengths is her wonderfully flawed, quirky, sexy, fully-fleshed out male characters; and with Northern Lights she finally gave the man a starring role. 

Depressed and broken Nate arrives in Alaska and finds a reason, a multitude of reasons, to not give up. That's the gist of it, in a nutshell. But Nora does it in such a way that it's an incredibly entertaining read. This book wasn't so much about the romance and the hot sex - yes, there was some, but it was by no means the focal point of the story. Nor was the growing relationship between Nate and Meg. It was the story of Nate making himself a place. 

Going from 'Outsider' to belonging and becoming more or less at peace with his past. Some of my favorite scenes were Nate interacting with his deputies, Otto and Peter, and his office manager/dispatcher/aide-de-camp, Peach. How they all came to like and respect one another despite suspicions and events getting in the way. 

Other favorite scenes included Nate constantly butting heads with the natives and long-time residents of Lunacy as he spends his first long night of winter as the town's police chief. Wonderfully colourful and endearing characters, a beautiful setting, a mystery that kept me wondering until the very end; Northern Lights was a juicy and fun read and left me with a big smile on my face. 

Yeah, Nate and Meg got their happily ever after, but the more satisfying end was that Nate allowed himself to heal and make a new and better place for himself.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Valley of Silence by Nora Roberts


The Circle Trilogy - Book 3

I think the second half of this book was my most favorite part of the whole trilogy. And that was, for the most part, because of Cian, the vampiric hero. 'Cause Moira? The heroine? Wasn't too terribly fond of her. I never, throughout the whole trilogy warmed up to her character.

Cian, however, came alive for me (no pun intended) during the latter half of Valley of Silence. He was not my favorite male lead in the trilogy, that title would have to go to Larkin, the hero of book 2, but beneath Cian's tough and bland exterior lurked a little boy lost that just made me take him to heart. Was it a satisfying culmination to the trilogy? Yes. 

The final battle scene was much better, much more fulfilling than I expected to get from a romance novel. Everyone got their comeuppance as they should have and the romance and the 'happily ever afters' were just as I wanted them to be. 

Was this my favorite of Nora's trilogies? No, it wasn't. But I did thoroughly enjoy the hell out of it. I think the reason it isn't my favorite is that the plot was so thick, so intricate; there were so many secondary characters to get to know; so much that had to happen to get the six of the Circle to the final battle, that their characterizations may have suffered. And it's the characters I love best about Nora's books.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Red Lily by Nora Roberts


In The Garden Trilogy -Book 3

A very satisfying end to the In the Garden trilogy.

Again, as with many of Nora's books, it was Harper, the male lead who I found to be the most interesting character. I liked his quiet, introspective ways, as well as his lean, hot sexiness, of course. And I liked him and Hayley together as a couple. They worked for me. 

My one regret about this trilogy is that we didn't get a romance for David, Harper's best friend, Roz's right hand man and housekeeper and the best cook and babysitter alive. *grin* Yeah, I'd like Nora to be writing a little bit of gay romance. I'd be totally down with that. 

So, looking for a fun and sexy romantic trilogy with fun heroines and sexy heroes and lots of terrific dialogue and hot sex scenes? Give the In the Garden trilogy a try. I don't think you'll regret it.

Black Rose by Nora Roberts


In the Garden Trilogy - Book 2

I want my own Mitch Carnegie.

That being said, you can guess that I loved this second book in the In The Garden trilogy. Roz, the indomitable Rosalind, the 47-year old heroine (Yes, 47 years old, my friends.) totally engaged me. A case could be made that it's because she's very close to my own age of 51 and I would have to admit to it being a very good case. It was totally refreshing to see a woman with grown children portrayed as a vibrant, sensual being with a wonderfully dry sense of humour.

And then there's Mitch. The sexily studious professor/writer and genealogist. He's so wonderfully calm and low-key - until stirred up by the wonderful Roz, of course! And, God love him, he wears sexy glasses! And he's a recovering alcoholic (12 years sober). Now that's something you don't see in a romance every day.

It was wonderful to watch Roz blossom (it's a flower trilogy, okay!) as she allows herself to follow through on her feelings for Mitch. Take time for herself, now that her boys are grown and her business is rolling along swimmingly well. She's one cool lady, in my opinion.

The ghost of the trilogy, the Harper Bride, makes her obligatory shit-disturbing appearances and we get closer to finding out exactly what she wants. But really, that's secondary to the love story between Roz and Mitch.

As usual, Nora Roberts' male characters are funny, sexy, flawed and wonderful and totally elevate her stories above the norm for romantic fiction. Yep, I really, REALLY loved this book. It was a sexy, fun read and I feel pretty safe in saying I'll be reading it again in the future.

High Noon by Nora Roberts


I enjoyed it. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, that I'll have to admit. The romance between Phoebe and Duncan was not front and centre throughout the majority of book, but instead, ran neck and neck with the mystery/threat of the 'stalker'. 

The book read as having a little more J. D. Robb flavouring in it than many of the Nora Roberts titles I have read. And that was okay! 

What I did miss, though, was that because of the mystery being more prominent, I felt that I didn't get to explore Duncan's character more. Nora's strength, or one of them at any rate, is her ability to write fun, flawed, sexy, quirky male leads and I felt she just scratched the surface with our man Duncan. But all in all, a very enjoyable read.

Angels Fall by Nora Roberts


This was a terrific book! I didn't think I was going to enjoy it in the beginning. I wasn't finding much sympathetic about Reece, the heroine. Her intense phobias, though very understandable given her past, grated on my nerves. I was feeling it was overkill, a total manipulation on the author's part to gain the reader's sympathy. But somewhere around chapter 4, she really began to grow on me. Under all those fears and phobias, she actually had some backbone. 

Coincidence that it began to show itself when she began to interact with the hero? And I don't mean in that obvious, run-of-the-mill romance novel way. Nope, just good writing on the part of the author, I think.

And, Brody, the oh-so-male mystery writer. Hot damn, but he's a sexy piece of work. And proud owner of about every 'guy' cliche going. He should be unlikeable, but he's not. He's amusing and funny and just utterly delectable. Yeah, I fell in love with him too.

The dialogue between Reece and Brody is priceless. Clever, flip, sarcastic, witty and so laugh-out-loud when Reece finds herself saying exactly what's on her mind. I grew to love the both of them.The mystery driving this story was a good one. Took me a long, long while to even get a suspicion of who I thought the bad guy might be. And I really enjoyed the resolution, I have to admit. A really, really good read. Definitely in my Nora Roberts Top 5.

Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts


In the Garden Trilogy - Book 1

Well, I zipped though this one. What a FUN read! I like the basic premise of the three different women at three different stages of their lives; the young pregnant woman, the widowed mother of two young boys and the widowed and divorced mother of three adult sons. 

This book, the first of the trilogy focuses on Stella, the widowed mom with the young boys. Stella is anal. There's no other word for it. *grin* She has to organize and catagorize and plan and sort everything in her life. And then Logan arrives on the scene and throws that all into a cocked hat - or tries to. I liked that he wasn't able to change her organized ways except where her emotions are concerned. And even then! 

I will say, the best scenes in the book for me - and there were many scenes of all sorts that I loved - but the best were the scenes with Logan and the two boys. I laughed aloud at their antics on more than one occasion. Nora is at her best with the dialogue in these scenes, in my opinion. 

Oh, and did I mention the ghost? Yeah, spookies! The Harper Bride ghost gave extra oomph to the plot surrounding the In The Garden nursery and garden centre that is the reason for these women to have come together.

All in all, a very enjoyable read and I'm on to part 2 of the trilogy with high hopes!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey


Dragonriders of Pern - Book 2

My favorite Pern book. It's all about F'nor. *grin*

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dance of the Gods by Nora Roberts


The Circle Trilogy - Book 2

The second one was better than the first - Morrigan's Cross. I will admit to falling a little in love with Larkin, this book's hero. It was refreshing to read about a light-hearted, fun-loving, shape-changing, always thinking of sex or food first and foremost, guy. And make no mistake about it, Larkin is a GUY. A guy after my own heart - he can turn into a dragon (amongst other things). *grin* 

Blair, the heroine, a is tough, smart, pretty - not gorgeous, no-nonsense chick and I found myself liking her a lot too. The suspense was a little more evident in this second of three volumes as the ante gets upped by Lilith and her 'army of darkness', and the move is made from present day Ireland to the mythical land of Geall. The sense of war on the horizon becomes a little more real and close; and the Circle of Six becomes closer and tighter. And the romance between Larkin and Blair is a fun ride. I mean seriously, the guy can turn into a dragon!

Nora never disappoints, always delivering a good read at the very least.

To The Limit by Pamela Britton


I'm a new Nascar fan. As such, how could I resist Harlequin's Nascar series? I wasn't expecting much, genre romances are what they are. Fun, mindless, feel-good entertainment. And this one had spots of fun, didn't take a tight focus to read and yeah, it made me feel good at the inevitable happy ending. So in that it was a success. 

My favorite character, however, was not the hero, the heroine or even the second male lead - nope, it was the hero's bodyguard. HE was the one I wanted to know more about. *grin*

Sea Swept by Nora Roberts


Chesapeake Bay Saga - Book 1

I loved this book! And I realised why I love Nora's books so much. The men hold the POV stage just as much if not more than the women do. 

The scenes of the hero, Cameron Quinn, with his brothers were sheer delight! They made me laugh out loud and wish there were more. The growing brotherly relationship between Cameron and Seth was touching and real. I mean, really, what man notices a boy needs new shoes, for instance? Not Quinn! The ensuing man-trip (all 4 brothers) to the shopping mall was hysterical. 

The romance between Quinn and Anna was hot and sexy for one thing, and it was refreshing to see the trust grow on BOTH sides, in an adult fashion, as opposed to the usual romance thing where it's usually all one-sided. And the other refreshing thing? People curse. Men and women. Kids too. *grin* That's life. Nora's dialogue is real and seldom, if ever, reads as contrived. 

I couldn't put Sea Swept down once I started it and now I know there's another trip to the second-hand bookstore in my very near future to pick up the other two volumes of the trilogy.

Through It Came Bright Colors by Trebor Healey


This book was not a light, entertaining, escapist read.

That being said, it was a beautiful, lyrical (even in, and possibly especially in its darkest moments), at times eviscerating, at times glorious work.

"Love hurts, love heals - that's the crystalline message at the core of Trebor Healey's complex, accomplishing coming-of-age story about a cautiously queer suburban kid whose heart is unexpectedly squeezed hard by a young junkie's quicksilver mind and beautiful lean body. Healey's refreshingly original tale hums with the potency of poetry."

That's what Richard Labonte, reviewer at Book Marks and Q Syndicate, had to say about this book and he said it better than I ever could have.

It was dark, it was gritty, it was cruel and it was filled with love and humour and moments of deep affection. It was difficult to read, especially having lost both my parents to cancer (the hero's brother's disease is a main part of the story), but it was familiar and real and touched me in spots I'd thought long-since healed.

I read this passage, where Neill, the protagonist muses about the taking care of his invalid brother, while I was in the cafeteria at work... "In the end, I think his wounds made it easier to love him as they taught me something I didn't know about love. My mother knew it; mothers do. Love was a much more physical thing thank I'd ever understood it to be. It lived where his fingers touched mine; it's what made the water bead up on his shoulders and roll off; it's what made his skin warm, glowing and soft. I'd always thought love was some feeling in the mind, but this was the physicality of love: the love of the body, so much simpler; so much more useful. It felt real, substantial, like proof--like what I needed. Cancer gave me that."... and I had to pause, wipe actual tears from my eyes and then read it over and over, marvelling at the obvious simplicity of something we tend so often to complicate.

So yes, this was a hard book to read, but so beautifully written and thought-provoking; and in the end ultimately very rewarding. The story of Neill; his lover, Vince and Neill's brother, Peter, is so much more than a love story, yet that's exactly what it is.

California Demon by Julie Kenner


Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom - Book 2

Buffy grows up, marries a mundane and becomes a soccer mom. It was a quick read, simply because it was rather fluffy. Heh... Fluffy Buffy.

The Stone Prince by Fiona Patton


The Brannion Realm - Book 1

What made this book stand out for me, I must admit, was the portrayal of the relationship between Demnor, The Heir to the Flame and his Companion, Kelahnus. I'm a sucker for intimate and romantic relationships between men; it's what I like to read and it's what I like to write. Fiona Patton has created a word where gender doesn't matter, be it in love or in society. It's refreshing! This is the reason I gave this book 4 stars.

As far as a good fantasy read goes, well, this book has a few problems in my opinion. For instance, the plethora of aristocratic titles. There are more than can be found in 4 Georgette Heyer novels, I swear. They got very confusing after the first few chapters, as the cast of characters continued to grow. 

The story itself, the plot, the action - I thought Fiona could have done so much more with it. Demnor coming to terms with his heritage, his familial relationships, his future could have been been explored more in depth for my taste. It all seemed slightly skimmed over. Of course, that may have made the book 800+ pages instead of the 542 that it is. *grin* 

I also thought that the conflict between Demnor and his sister, the Prince Quindara merited more attention. Indeed, I think many of the relationships between the characters needed more depth. And I would have liked to see more of the workings of The School of Companions, which is definitely more than just a training ground for courtesans. So, while I really did enjoy this book, I think it could have been made so much better; maybe buy making it two volumes?

Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts


The Circle Trilogy - Book 1

Nora Roberts is one of my favorite romance novelists and I'm particularly fond of her trilogies. That being said, this one appears to have everything - vampires, old gods, witches, sorcerers, time travelling, alternate world bridging, shapechangers; you name it, I think it's got it. And maybe it's a little too much?

I found that the romance between the two main characters, Hoyt and Glenna, seemed to get lost within all the plot set-up and character introductions. My favorite scenes were actually between Hoyt and his brother Cian. Their strained relationship was much more compelling than the supposed love growing between Hoyt and Glenna. And let's face it, folks, I read Nora for the romance, so I was a little disappointed in this first book of a trilogy that most of my fellow Nora readers absolutely adore. That doesn't mean I won't be adding books 2 and 3 to the collection, however. At the very least I want to see how Hoyt and Cian iron out their differences. *grin*