Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare


Spindle Cove - Book 2

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit, that I picked this book up about a month ago, maybe a little more, and didn't get past the first chapter. I bought it on the strength of recommendations by two of my favourite authors, Heidi Cullinan and Bree Bridges (one half of Kit Rocha and Moira Rogers). They were so totally enthused by this book, how could I not? But I must not have been in the right frame of mind for it, because I set it aside and went on to read other things.

So I came back to it and this time, I couldn't put the damned thing down! I don't know that it touched me quite as deeply as it did Heidi and Bree, I didn't shed a ton of tears, but there were a few. This book was FUN, pure, unadulterated FUN. It was romantic, it was steamy, it was edge-of-your-seat adventurous at times, but mostly, for me, it was fun.

Tessa Dare writes men like Nora Roberts writes men. That's not something a lot of het romance writers can do, in my experience. Colin Sandhurst is a charming rogue and I fell in love with him right quickly. He sounded like a real guy, he thought like a real guy and was as uncertain and frightened as a real guy at times - so kudos to Ms Dare!

And I was pleasantly pleased with the characterisation of the heroine, Minerva (even though at times she did remind me of Temperence Brennan from the "Bones" TV show.) I loved her quick wit as much as Colin did, I think. :) Their dialogue made me chuckle out loud so often - one of the joys of this book.

There were a couple of things that bugged me, I have to admit. First off, back in the days of the Napoleonic War, did people really use the term "cracked" to mean crazy? I assume they must have, because Ms Dare seems to have done her research on everything else, but it it just sounded damned odd to me. Too modern. I also found most of the scenes introducing the protagonists of the next novel in the Spindle Cove series to be most intrusive in the story, like they didn't fit. Maybe they should have been included as part of the next book, letting the first few chapters run parallel to the last few of this book.

Also, I have not read any other Spindle Cove books - I was told that this one could stand alone and it does for the most part, I suppose, but the initial meeting of Minerva and Colin seems to have taken place in the first book of the series and as it was referred to on more than one occasion and sounded pretty darned important to Min and Colin's story,... I would have liked to read whichever book it was in... be it in Vol 1, A Night to Surrender or Vol. 1.5, Once Upon a Winter's Eve.

And the last thing that bugged me was that we were introduced to Sir Alisdair Kent and I thought he'd have been perfect for Minerva's sister Diana, but in looking at published novels/novelettes in the series, that is not to be. But Sir Alisdair needs a story! (See, that's how I think series should be handled, not this shoehorning in of the next pairing into the current pair's story.)

But all that being said, in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the name Tessa Dare gets added to my list of authors I want to read more from. More of? More stuff of theirs. WHATEVER! *LOL*

Friday, February 21, 2014

Magpie by Kim Dare


Avian Shifters - Book 2

I loved the first book in this series, Duck!, and I ended up loving this second book too. I'm not a huge fan of shifter stories; there are few authors I will read and enjoy and Kim is one of those. These are avian shifters, existing in a sort of alternate world populated by both humans and avians. Most of the avian shifters live in nests, breeding nests or all-male nests (I have no idea if there are all-female nests and since it's not the point of the books, I don't really need to know.).

Magpie is the story of Everet, the raven, the new head of security for this male-only nest and the magpie, Kane, that he rescues from the clutches of a bad den of humans. Their distinct personalities fall into line with the characteristics of their avian counterparts and it quite amazes me how Kim does this with all the avians. We have a swan, a hawk, an eagle, an albatross, a wren, a hummingbird... and all are true to their birdishness. :)

It's a love story of two men that each need taking care of in their own way; a story of boundaries, trust and belief and of making one's place in the world their own. There is a scene where Kane gets a new job that is ideally suited for the bird that is so very attracted by sparkly, shiny things that was so perfect that I grinned my way through it. And yes, the sex scenes were wonderfully hot and steamy. :)

(BTW, I have to say, most of the way through the book, I was imagining Joe Manganiello in the role of Everet. *g*)

Anyway, a thoroughly enjoyable book and I would highly recommend it and indeed the series. And YAY! there's a 3rd book coming in the series! I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hooch & Cake by Heidi Cullinan


This is a free shorty that takes place between Special Delivery and Double Blind. It's filled with everything that's perfect about the Special Delivery series. It's fun, it's insightful, it's sexy hot, it's kinky, it's filled with affection and love. It's vintage Randy, Mitch and Sam, one of the most perfect triads ever and it has a scene with Randy and Sam's BFF Emma that was just too delightful for words. :)

This is a not-so-short story that is Heidi at her best. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Left On St. Truth-be-Well by Amy Lane


What can I say. I love Amy Lane! And this is a terrific story, full of humour, great characterisation, fun, mystery and sexy love.

It's not angst-free - hell, it's Amy, guys! But Carson's inner monologue is amusing even while being somewhat self-deprecating.

Chicago and Florida meet when Carson and Dale meet - and Dale is such a perfect southern states type of name - when Carson heads south in search of his boss' nephew, Stassy. Mystery and hijinks ensue - including some hot sex scenes, let me tell you.

I loved Dale, I have to say. I think he may be one of my fave Amy Lane characters and all the while I was reading, I was picturing Luke Mitchell from The Tomorrow People.

Anyway, I loved the book - Amy produced another winner and I love her for it! A great, fun read that left a smile on my face. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pickup Men by L.C. Chase


Pickup Men - Book 1

So... Marty loves Tripp, but Tripp's not out and doesn't show any signs of wanting to be out, so Marty gets fed up and draws a line in the sand.

This book felt scattered and disjointed for me. I felt as if I was jumping around all over the place with no actual trail to follow. From reading the blurb, I knew that Marty and Tripp were destined to end up together, but I swear, the first third of the book was geared towards ANYTHING but that. I so totally disliked Tripp, even after finding out about his tragic past and could not for the life of me figure out what Marty saw in him. By the end of the book I still couldn't figure it out, but hey, if Marty loved him, who am I to say no.

Then there was the annoying sort-of subplot with two of Marty's trio of best buddies. I sense book 2 on the horizon, but seriously, it was so clumsily done that it was distracting to the story that was trying to be told. My eyes rolled a lot every time the blatant hints were tossed out.

All the usual tropes were there, including the big turning point. There were too many of them for my liking. I don't mind a trope if it was well done, but to see them all piled up in a single book of 135+ (on my ereader) pages was just too overwhelming. And I found that there was a lot of telling, not showing, sadly.

I just didn't warm up to this one and that's too bad. :(

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Junk by Josephine Myles


The Bristol Collection - Book 1

The main reason I wanted to read this book? One of the main characters is a hoarder. Yes, a true blue, needs help, hoarder. He hoards books, magazines and newspapers. I was extremely curious as to how the author was going to turn this guy into a sympathetic - as opposed to pitiful - character and indeed, make him romantic at the same time.

Well, she did it. Josephine made Jasper not only sympathetic and romantic... she made him lovable and adorable and hot and sexy. How? We got to see him through the eyes of Lewis, his clutter therapist. Sure it's a little out there, sure, Jasper's problems (and he does have problems and issues) seem to get solved nice and neat by book's end, but you know what? It's a romance. I can use a little stardust and HAE in my romances, you know?

That being said, getting inside Jasper's mind, seeing how the hoarding tendancies worked, his justifications and his fears. It all made wonderful sense to me. And Lewis with his own issues - shopaholic. *LOL* - he makes a few mistakes in dealing with Jasper's problems but you know... it's got to happen!

I really, really like this author's voice. It's happy-go-lucky, good-natured, fun and honest. It enjoys being romantic. And her dialogue! Oh, I love the bits of snark and silliness that creep in to the dialogue between the characters. That's how people talk in real life! And it brings a smile to this reader's face.

And the secondary characters. Lewis' family, his twin Carroll and their crazy parents. Jasper's friend with benefits, Mas and his good friend Yusef. They're all drawn with details that make them come alive, that make them more than mere plot devices.

In the end, I felt that Ms Myles treated the subject of hoarding with respect and authenticity within the bounds of the romantic story she wanted to tell. Junk is not a tragedy nor a treatise on mental health - it's a romance with stumbling blocks and within that framework, it works really, really well.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles


A Charm of Magpies - Book 1

Did I love this book? I loved this book!

I had had it noted in my 'to acquire' pile since the fall, when it was published, simply because I enjoy a good historical m/m story. As the weeks passed, I kept seeing it mentioned in my Twitter feed as a good book, indeed, a fabulous book. I saw it mentioned in a few blogs and on Facebook a few times. Finally, when Heidi Cullinan mentioned that she was reading it and OMG, she was loving it... well, if you've been following along, you know that Heidi is one of my faves and a recc from her is GOLDEN, so I bought it and it went into the 'read it soonest' pile.

All this to say... Heidi has yet to steer me wrong. :)

I love the setting! Sort of an AU Victorian universe where there's magic. And the writing! I really enjoyed KJ's voice, it was easy to read, fun, and evocative - the only problem I had was the use of the word 'obscene' and it's progeny, 'obsenity' about 6 or 7 times in the span of about 4 pages - or one scene - near the beginning of the book. But that was the only problem I had.

The characters! OMG, Stephen and Lucien and Merrick... I loved them all. Stephen, the diminutive justicar, wielder of magic - indeed a sort of policeman of sorts. Self-effacing, witty, he works under a lot of constraints and still manages to shine. And not in an objectionable way at all! He's not a know-it-all although he easily could have been. And Lucien Crane, the newly-minted earl. Dangerous and haughty with a chequered past, he almost... ALMOST fell into the asshole hero trope, but you know what? He was afraid. He admitted to being scared. Not about the growing feelings he feels for Stephen, but for the situation, for the things that any sane person would be afraid of. That endeared him to me. And then there's Merrick - the manservant, confidant, protector, right-hand man, best friend of Lucien. I loved him, pure and simple. I loved his smart-ass mouth, his love for Lucien and his wit and humour.

The plot works. It's a mystery, really. What's wrong with the ancestral estate of Lucien Vaudrey, the new Lord Crane? The magic hangs together nicely, the back story of the Vaudrey family makes sense and the ending leaves the reader wanting more in the very best of ways. More adventures for this trio!

Yes, the desire came quickly, but that's a normal thing. Who hasn't felt attraction for someone quickly? But the relationship between Stephen and Lucien takes it's time to grow and by the time they finally get together, it works perfectly. :)

I already have the second book in my Kobo, in my TBR file, (I mentioned that I loved this book, right?), and I think I've found another really good author. :)

EDIT: So Heidi tells me that she hasn't read it yet, but I would have put my hand in fire, as we say in Quebec, that hers was the recc that tipped me over. So who the hell was it? I don't fully trust a lot of author reccs other than Heidi's.... Another mystery!!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lucky Break by Esther Freud


I wish I had read this book when I was in my 20s; back in the days where I dreamed of what might have been had I been an actress in the theatre, one of my youthfull dreams. :) It was recommended to me by a very good friend as one of her most favourite books.

Lucky Break tells the tale of 3 actors and their journey from drama school at the fictional Drama Arts academy in London, through the next 10 years of their lives. Nell, Charlie and Dan start out as the plain girl, the cover girl and the handsome lad and over time we watch as they encounter hurdle after hurdle in their chosen career of acting, be it on the stage, on TV or in movies. All the typical situations abound, disillusionment and renewed hope are the rollercoaster ride all three characters embark upon. There really is nothing new in the stories of the three characters, but Esther Freud's writing is indeed lovely. As she delves inside Nell to find the eternal flame of her hope, tears back the curtain on Dan's constant inner battle of family vs career or uncovers a sympathetic side to the selfish Charlie, her prose is just the right side of what I would terms as either too affected or too precious. It's savoury prose... there we go! Savoury.

Did I fall in love with the characters? No, but I loved reading their stories and what their successes ultimately were. Lucky Break is not what I would term 'a rippingly good yarn', but it was a fine book. :)