Warning: Obsession ahead

I have discovered Kristan Higgins and I can’t seem to be able to read anything else. There might be a fair amount of her books coming your way in the next bit or so. I’ll also read other authors, but I thought it’s only fair to warn my lovely readers that there might be a bit of a trend in the books you see reviewed here.

(credit: kristanhiggins.com)

(credit: kristanhiggins.com)

She loves animals, has a great sense of humour and is an awesome author…what’s a reader to do?ūüôā

Review: The Wicked Duke

Madeline Hunter is definitely an author that I keep tabs on. She writes historical romance and, in my humble opinion, doesn’t always get the credit she deserves. She’s a fantastic writer and has written many books that happily sit on my keeper shelf. So, when I read the back story of The Wicked Duke, it went on my TBR pile immediately.

Lancelot Hemingford is the Duke of Aylesbury, a rake with a devilish reputation with women. Unfortunately, he’s also suspected of his brother’s murder, something that¬†bothers Lance enough that he wants to finally be rid of the condemnation. To clear his name, he makes a bit of a deal with the devil and, in the process, ends up married to Marianne Radley.

Marianne is legally dependent on her uncle, but she’s incredibly intelligent and smart. She’s figured out a way to make money–something of an impossibility for women back then–by writing under a pseudonym gossip letters to the newspaper. It’s that same cunning that has her sniffing out what truly happened to the Duke’s bother.

Their marriage is a busy one. Things start to be uncovered. First and foremost, the Duke wants to clear his name but, along the way, secrets are revealed that test their commitment to each other. The wonderful aspect of the book is that they fall in love with each other by the end, something I was hoping for all along but fearing might never happen.

The Wicked Duke has a great pace. It’s not rushed, the marriage doesn’t happen three days after they meet or anything and yet, I kept turning pages trying to find out what was going to happen next. I think what kept me glued was the great characters, the sad but not over-the-top circumstances and the superb dialogue. Historical romance dialogue has to show feeling without using today’s expressions and that’s not easy with polite, restrictive English sayings. Still, Madeline Hunter manages to do just that.

Madeline Hunter is certainly no dim wit. She has a PhD in art history and more than twenty seven nationally bestselling historical romances in print. If you haven’t tried her before now,¬†check out her website and try some of her books or go for this one. It might be the third in a trilogy but it can be easily read on its own and it’s got everything you want in a historical romance, the love story, the historically accurate pieces and dialogue, great characters and a rakish duke. It’s definitely a great summer read.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Note: to go to site, click on cover.

 

River’s boo boo

My husband and I own two dogs. Since they’re akitas, they’re apt to howling instead of barking and have an insane amount of fur.

Well, said fur might be lovely¬†but it knots like anything. So I brush it. Daily.¬†I was in the middle of doing just that when I felt something hard and weird deep under River’s fur.

I couldn’t tell what it was and he wasn’t really inclined to let me poke around. So I waited until he was eating. River is food-driven, so he notices nothing while he eats. As soon as he started chewing, I started moving fur around.

And found this.

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The thing wasn’t in his fur. It was stuck deep into¬†his flesh and hidden by the fur. The dark part was where it was imbedded into him and blood had soaked it to that colour. I pulled it out and stared in horror at the hole it left behind. I ran for the antibiotic ointment and applied that while River was finishing his meal (he eats really fast).

This…thing was in the fleshy part of his hind leg, where he couldn’t reach, so at least the ointment was going to stay put. River didn’t seem upset or even aware that I had done this but I was almost in tears.

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That’s where it was, deep inside there. It was really hard to even find it and pretty much sheer luck that I did. Still, it left me pretty shaken up and I ¬†was determined¬†to perform¬†a close inspection of all his fur, just in case there were any other things stuck in there.

Of course, I didn’t find any more. But what were they? And where did they come from? And how did they end up on the thigh of my doggie?

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Looking around the yard, I found these seeds and I think that’s what imbedded itself into River’s back thigh. There are thousands of these all over the yard thanks to the massive tree that sheds them.

I still have no idea how that seed ended up embedded inside River and no way to keep them away from River or Ocean. Raking the entire lawn one day only caused exhaustion and I was certain I heard the tree laugh as it spilled even more seeds to the ground.

For the next few days, I hovered anxiously over each dog as they stepped outside into a minefield of dangers. With an eagle eye, I followed every movement and dashed outside to prevent certain disaster more than once.

The entire discovery was pretty disturbing and, while my therapist hubby assured me that my feelings were okay and I needed to ‘stay true to my process’, I searched¬†River for signs of PTSD.

 

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River didn’t seem to be ‘processing’ anything.¬†In fact, he seemed oblivious to the entire process. While I still searched his legs for other deadly impaled objects, he played with his bit of rope.

River’s lack of enthusiasm aside, I still think I did a good deed for my pooch.¬†I gave myself a pat on the back for¬†being a good doggie mom.

Review: Catch of the Day

Catch of the Day is a light, contemporary read. It’s got sadness in it, but it’s also got comedy and a set of characters that kept me turning pages.¬†It’s by Kristan Higgins, who seems to find a way to turn any story into an addiction for me. She’s that good.

Catch of the Day tells the story of Maggie. Maggie is awesome. I loved that she owned the only diner in a tiny coastal town. She greets the locals every day and brings meals to shut ins and any local fundraisers. Not only is she super nice, she’s also super-kind. Finally, she has a dog, an elderly lab named Colonel who’s just a gentle soul and who I instantly adored.

Poor Maggie has a problem, though. Everyone sees her as either a daughter or a sister, so there are no possibilities for romance or even a date. Her twin sister, Christy is married and has a beautiful little baby and, while I would be totally jealous, Maggie babysits for free and adores both her sister and her niece.

Before you get the impression that Maggie is just perfect, let me dispel that. Maggie has the terrible tendency to talk…her mouth off.¬†When she has a crush on someone, she tends to tell everyone…and that tends to spread in her little town like wild fire. She also tends to like impossible men, like the town’s priest.

Thankfully, Maggie and the priest stay friends and we get to meet Malone, a gruff fisherman with a heart of gold who rescues Maggie out of more than one fix and then steals her heart.

I make it sound so simple and straightforward but there’s a lovely story here, with great characters and an awesome doggie. Catch of the Day was absolutely heavenly for me. It had humour, great, easy writing, good twists that I didn’t seem coming and a great ending. It was so good, I cut my conversation on the phone with Hubby short so that I could finish it–and I had really missed him.

If you’re a contemporary fan, definitely give Kristan Higgins a try. If you haven’t read her before, this one is a great place to start–though I have yet to find one of her books that I don’t devour in a day. And if you like something with romance and a great sidekick with soft brown eyes, Catch of the Day is definitely for you. A great summer read.

(credit:goodreads.com)

(credit:goodreads.com)

Drawing with pencils

I tried drawing with pencils and… well, I’m no Picasso but¬†pencils have the ability to make any doodle appear serious and professional, so¬†I love them.

Here is the result. I know…at least it was fun to draw.

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Believe it or not, that’s supposed to be Winston Churchill. I included a picture so you would know what he actually looked like.

(credit:britannica.com)

(credit:britannica.com)

Review: Heartless

I adore Mary Balogh’s historical romance books. I can’t tell you exactly what it is about her writing but I can immediately tell that she’s from England (she’s actually from Wales). Her books always have a very authentic feel to them that¬†just lifts them above other books.

Heartless is the story of Lady Anna Marlow who has devoted her life to taking care of her dying parents, first, and then her siblings until she’s almost out of marrying age. Devoted sister that she is, she’s still thinking of how to marry her younger sister when an elderly aunt takes an interest in her and tries to match her instead.

It’s though this match that Anna meets Lucas Kendrick, Duke of Harndon, our hero. After the years of hardship, stress and worry, Anna needs someone to take care of her and lift worries from her mind. However that’s not what she gets in the Duke of Harndon.

Lucas Kendrick was banished from England by his own family and, in the aftermath, was forced to find his own way in the world. He did so very successfully, but lost all innocence and¬†became very cynical¬†in the process. He’s reluctantly back to do his duty as heir and it’s just in that frame of mind that he marries Anna.

It’s a marriage of two people who don’t know each other at all and who, both, have had traumatic events in their past. What follows is how they manage to heal their wounds, befriend, then fall in love with each other, all while unravelling their place as the Duke and Duchess of Harndon.

I love historical romances for many reasons, the elegance of their speech, the beautiful setting, the calm rhythm of their lives and even the lack of technology. Things seemed so much simpler and honourable then. Heartless has all of those, of course, with a very authentic English touch to them all, but it’s also a beautiful love story. And that’s the best part of all.

I’m a true Mary Balogh fan and have rarely met a book of hers I didn’t like and this one is no exception. I’d recommend Heartless for the story and writing and because it’s a great book. But, to put it more¬†simply, because I started it on Thursday morning and did nothing all day until I could turn the last page and find out what had happened. Then basked in the afterglow of a good book for quite a few hours. It’s that good.

(credit: goodreds.com)

(credit: goodreds.com)

Update: Ocean’s Booboo

I finally caved and dragged Ocean to the vet yesterday. There, they sedated her, shaved the area and palpated around. There wasn’t any blood or liquid coming from the toe so they turned to the X-ray for answers. And there, on the side of her bone there was a tiny fragment that was not attached to the big gone. On the other paw, it clearly was attached.

This is the toe in question

This is the toe in question

In one of her mad dashes around the yard, she must have injured the toe and broken that tiny bone.

Now the vet said there wasn’t anything we could do for the toe but, like all vets, she had a ton of very expensive ideas that might help Ocean. She suggested antibiotics, which I vetoed since there wasn’t an infection, massage and physiotherapy, which I vetoed again when I saw the price of one 20 minute session.

After paying over $500 for the trip, I took a groggy Ocean home.

Ocean sleeping off the anesthetic

Ocean sleeping off the anesthetic

River, keeping Ocean company.

River, keeping Ocean company.

Meanwhile all of this was going on, my lovely hubby was supposed to be at work. Instead, he was buying me this.IMG_0355

Some husbands get their wives flowers…I got the world’s oddest plunger.

mommy

Oh my goodness! How cute is this picture! I just had to share this one along.
By the way, if this one picture just hit your heart the way it did mine, check out the site: Wicked Aww Pics. It’s heaven for any animal lovers out there.

Wicked Aww Pics

mommy

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Review: Until there was you

Kristan Higgins is a new-to-me author. Don’t ask me how it is that I have missed her all these years. I have no idea. I must have been living under a rock. I was at the used book store and someone recommended her to me and I picked up a book of hers because (this is terrible!) I liked the dog on the cover.

Still, once discovered, she won’t stay away from my radar for long. Not after I read this book by her, Until there was you. It was absolutely awesome.

The plot is nothing that hasn’t been seen before, but it was still delicious enough to pull me in. It’s the story of Posey Osterhagen, who owns her own salvaging company (salvaging things, though she’d like to salvage and reno a victorian house), has an adorable Great Dane and a quirky family. The hottest guy in the school broke her heart back in high school and Posey moved on…but he’s back in town.

So Posey is absolutely awesome. She’s kind, supportive of her hilarious friends, yet manages to put some boundaries when said friends sometimes take advantage. She also gives back as good as she gets in the conversation sparring department and that won her a ton of stars in my book.

Liam is our guy, the same one who was mean to Posey back in high school. But he’s not the typical cool, snob. Liam has his own quirks that aren’t as dark and scary as some of the alpha heroes I’ve read in other books. Liam’s wife died recently and trying to cop, along with raising his daughter, have given him not only a bit of stress but some OCD. Now OCD is nothing to laugh about…but with Liam, it’s really almost funny.

That’s the thing that brought Kristan Higgins’ book from good to super, the humour. Her characters are hilarious. Let me give you a sample.

Posey is described in the book as stick-like. She didn’t have too many curves. And she’s often looked over by men for other who are more…well, read and see.

“…the woman next to him, a middle-aged woman whose bosom could shelter a family of four and their Bernese mountain dog.”

The humour in the book doesn’t lag and doesn’t belittle the struggle between the hero and heroine either. I cried with this book and then rejoiced at the ending.

And yes, the Great Dane, Shilo was awesome and silly and all the things big dogs are. I loved reading about him.

You might have read Kristan Higgins and wonder what on earth took me this long but if you haven’t, learn from my mistake. She’s really, really good. Good enough that I’m heading back to the used book store to snag a couple more books by her and I’m adding her to my authors-to-watch list.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Ocean’s boo-boo

We didn’t get dogs when we moved out to the country. We got dogs and then decided to move out to the country–because was a better environment for our pooches.

It’s safe to say they’re a little spoiled.

Our diva-girl, Ocean, posing for the camera

Our diva-girl, Ocean, posing for the camera

River loves watching TV

River loves watching TV

They’re fluffy, they’re silly and they’re ours. In spite of their ability to shed their body weight in hair every few months, we love them to bits.

That was why when I saw Ocean, limping, I ran to her side to check out the injury. After many licks from her and a few more from River, I was able to see that there was a bit of blood on her right front paw. Caring dog-mother that I am, I immediately ran for the antibiotic ointment.

Believe it or not, there was blood on this paw

Believe it or not, there was blood on this paw

Well, Ocean licked the ointment off in less time than it takes me to type this. I moaned in despair and reapplied. More licks followed.

I think she got hurt digging this hole...

I think she got hurt digging this hole…

My husband wasn’t as worried as I was…but I was besides myself. All day, I rushed from place to place, trying to get back home to check on our girl. When I finally got home, I ran¬†to the yard,¬†desperate to check on Ocean.

Why are you looking at me like that? Everything's fine.

Why are you looking at me like that? Everything’s fine.

The fuzz-ball in question was running around the yard madly chasing an invisible squirrel. I have never seen her that happy.

I guess I better cancel that emergency appointment I made at the vet’s.