Review: Only a kiss

I actually took a while to pick up Only a Kiss. I had just finished another heavy round of work at my DayJob and it drained any of my free time. By the time I got home, I was usually too exhausted to do more than reconnect with my hubby, pet the dogs and crash. So the lovely book sat, untouched and unloved on my desk and I started to wonder if it was worth the read. Was Mary Balogh as good as I remembered or did I just become biased to her writing?

She’s not good. She’s unbelievable. Mary Balogh is absolute gold.

Only a Kiss is an incredible read. It’s part of the Survivors’ Club series but definitely stands alone by itself. It tells the story of Imogen, a widow who witnessed the death of her husband and still carries the scars of that war. She’s hiding, with a couple of friends at Hardford Hall and that’s where our hero finds her.

He’s Percival Hayes, Earl of Hardford and they are at each other’s throats from the get go. His first words to her are, “And who the devil might you be?” since the Hall is his home and he hadn’t expected her to be there. Imogen, though gives back as good as he does and we’re off to a feisty romance.

It’s a credit to Mary Balogh that she can credibly move the characters from dislike to love within the story and do so organically, without my carefully sharpened cynical antennae twitching. But, more than that, the love story was so real that I knew these two had to be together. They were destined for each other, like mint and chocolate.

One other thing I must mention is the inimitable humour in the book. Very British and subtle, it still made me chuckle out loud and turn the pages eagerly. The two ladies that live with Imogen are completely adorable characters who are just a little…off. They collect an assortment of rescued animals that cause the Earl to raise an eyebrow more than once and make the reader laugh at their antics. It’s funny without being ridiculous or forced and, not only does it do wonders for the story, the humour makes the serious parts all that more striking.

This one is an absolute keeper, but most of Mary Balogh’s books are. If you’re a lover of historical romance, don’t miss this one. It’s one of those gems you’ll love like a child and place in a cherished place on your book shelf. I know I have. What a wonderful book.

(credit: amazon.com)

(credit: amazon.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Top Posts for 2015

Chosen by you, here are the top 10 posts for this year.

10. To get us going is this post about Heather B. Costa, an aspiring writer who, like many indie authors is incredibly talented.

9. This post came about thanks to a fantastic person, Gene’O. I was thrilled to be part of the idea and still think it was a wonderful initiative.

8. From the awe-inspiring, we’re heading to the plain weird. This post came when I made a strange little discovery in my own home.

7. A definite reader favourite, Posts I loved this week was a definite hit with readers and this one toped the list.

6. This one wasn’t just for laughs, it was true! The horrors that can happen when you lend those precious books out. Readers could definitely relate to my list.

5. Number Five is a post that keeps resurfacing. People just can’t get enough of it and it pops back up in this count down year after year.

4. Though this post is definitely an attempt to make readers laugh, the list is, sadly, a true account of what I did. Sigh.

3. I was just ranting in this one…but somehow readers loved it.

2. This one is another huge hit this year. I did this little post trying to help out those bloggers out there and they certainly paid attention. A huge thanks to Gene’O at Sourcerer (again!) for that great post.

1.The number one post this year happens to be my favourite as well; for the #1000Speak for Compassion. As posts go, this one was a tough one to write. I had no idea what to say…then I just knew.

Before I close off, a huge thank you to everyone of my readers, without whom, I’d be writing to my dogs…and they don’t read that well.

 

Review: Ride Steady

Ride Steady is the latest in the Chaos series by Kristen Ashley. Chaos is the name of the bike club where all the stories take place. The heroes are tough as nails bikers who fall for some pretty awesome heroines. They’re edgy stories with just the right amount of romance.

In Ride Steady, our heroine is Carissa, a really kind, nice woman who came from the right side of the tracks but has ended up on tough times. At just about the worst possible moment in her life, she meets a tough, mean-looking biker known as Joker and things start to change for her. She’s pretty skeptical of the help offered at first, not surprising considering the betrayal in her background, but soon starts to see Joker in a new light.

Life might have given Joker a tough set of cards, but he’s made good choices with them and now has Chaos as a family that supports him. Not only that, he’s got raw talent that starts to shine and help both him and the club. To add to that, he knew Carissa way, way back in the day and meeting her again just seems to be the icing on the cake of his story. He fell for her as a kid and the years haven’t changed those feelings one iota.

Both Carissa and Joker have to learn to trust each other. Carissa because of her past, doesn’t trust easily and Joker, because he thinks he doesn’t deserve her, has to see that she’s the right woman for him. Along the way, we get to see old favourites from other books and learn a bit about the on-going issue with a nasty enemy of the club but the main story is about Carissa and Joker and we get lots of lovely time with them both.

At over 600 pages, the books by Kristen Ashley are all nice, long reads and I love finding a new one by her. I can’t imagine the hours and hours of editing she must do on these mammoth-creations but I love her for it because when I pick up one up, I know I’ll have a good long read ahead. Ride Steady didn’t disappoint and I would highly recommend it for having both great characters, tons of chemistry, smoking romance and an edgy story I don’t want to give up. For those of you who read contemporary romance, if you haven’t tried Kristen Ashley, I would encourage you to pick one of hers up.

(credit: goodreads)

(credit: goodreads)

Note: to go to site, click on cover.

Review: Worth Any Price

I adored Lisa Kleypas’ contemporary books but I was doubtful about her historical ones. I’m very picky about historical romance. The dialogue has to be authentic, the characters true to the times and the plot must be captivating. I picked up Worth Any Price with a heavy dose of skepticism.

Nick Gentry is a man who’s seen the darkest part of society and lived to thrive in it. He’s a Bow Street runner, a sort of hit man who does the undoable for those who can afford it. His assignment is the capture of a Miss Charlotte Howard. Apparently, she has run away from her husband-to-be and is hiding from the man.

They meet under false pretences, but it’s soon apparent to Nick that Charlotte is not a wilful woman but a desperate one who is trying to avoid a fate worse than death at the hands of a very nasty man. In a short time, Nick goes from trying to capture her to offering her his help. The solution he proposes is marriage. To him.

I love stories about marriage of necessity. It gives the couple time to discover each other’s faults and gifts and, while they fall in love with each other, I end up falling in love with them both. Usually, they’re fantastic love stories and this one was no exception. The true journey of the characters starts when they marry and start to support and challenge each other.

Charlotte has to face her enemy and set him straight once and for all–something pretty intimidating for a woman of the time, since men held all the power back then. Nick has to accept his heredity and position in life–something he had been avoiding his entire life.

So was I impressed by Lisa Kleypas? Absolutely. Enough that I’m heading back to the used book store to find other historicals by her and enough that I’m encouraging you, my gentle reader, to give her a try. She has a way with a story that’s captivating and, if you’re a fan of historical romance, she does that beautiful period of time the justice it deserves.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

What I’m reading

This is only a humble, little blog, but I thought it would be nice for my readers to know what’s coming up, review-wise. It will give you a heads up, so you can decide what you’d like to read or…ahem…avoid.

So, these are the books I’ve already read and their reviews will be coming up in the next few weeks.

Ride Steady by Kristin Ashley.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Walk through Fire by the same Kristin Ashley.

(credit:goodreads.com)

(credit:goodreads.com)

Worth any Price by Lisa Kleypas.

(credit:goodreads.com)

(credit:goodreads.com)

Only a Kiss by Mary Balogh

(credit:amazon.com)

(credit:amazon.com)

Now these two are on my shelf and I’m either reading right now or about to read. They’ll also get reviews…but after the others.

Blood Kiss by J. R. Ward

(credit:goodreads.com)

(credit:goodreads.com)

The Shadows also by J. R. Ward

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

So, you can expect my two cents on all of these coming up soon.

What about you, what are you reading and enjoying at this moment?

Review: Devil in Winter

Devil in Winter has been out for a while. It’s one of those I can’t believe I haven’t read yet. It’s written by Lisa Kleypas and rated amazing in the site All About Romance. Don’t ask me why it’s taken me this long to get to it. Somethings in life are a mystery.

In order to avoid her abusive relatives, Evie Jenner makes a deal with the devil, so to speak. She proposes marriage to none other than the very rake Viscount St. Vincent, Sebastian. In a last-minute attempt to keep something of her heart from breaking, she adds one condition to the agreement, no lovemaking after their wedding night.

Sebastian is a wonderful hero. Gorgeous, delightfully wicked and more than a little bit dangerous. He’s as intelligent as Evie and they both start their marriage convinced they’re going to get the upper hand. Watching them scheme and parter each other’s moves was a delight.

Of course, this is romance, so there’s love at the end for these two. But the journey there is wonderful, beautiful and worth every penny in my opinion. Lisa Kleypas takes their personalities and lifts them so that I couldn’t put the book down. Plus there’s danger and a villain that made my hair stand on end.

If you’re into historical romance, don’t do what I did and miss this one. It’s a truly great book. If you’re cautious, check out this link and read the excerpt. See if you like it. I guarantee a great read.

(credit: lisakleypas.com)

(credit: lisakleypas.com)

Note: To find more, go to lisakleypas.com

Review: The Look of Love

The Look of Love is the first book in the Sullivan Series. I always like first books in a series because it means there are more to come and, if I like it, more awesome books. So I was really excited about this one.

Though this book deals with a very serious topic, wife abuse, it’s still a light and fluffy read. A great book to have for those hot summer days with a drink by a pool. We get to meet Chloe who ends up stuck in a ditch and meets Chase by accident (sorry about that pun).

Having just come out of a terrible relationship, Chloe is more than a little skeptical about Chase, who seems too good to be true. Still, he persists, helping her, giving her a place to stay and support when she needs it most. Chloe resists, very hesitantly at first then cautiously but Chase is the best sort of hero, patient, devoted and super kind. Eventually, he wins her love and things only get better for poor Chloe.

There is danger in The Look of Love but this story didn’t make me bite my nails. I felt safe and in good hands during the entire tale. Some might argue that it doesn’t do justice to such an important, difficult topic as spousal abuse, but I didn’t go into this story hoping for a realistic rendering, I was hoping for a love story and in that sense, this book delivers beautifully. It’s certainly a great, light summer read and that’s why I would recommend it.

(credit: bellaandre.com)

(credit: bellaandre.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Upcoming books!

I love knowing the releases of upcoming books. I write them in my agenda and they help me get through dreary Mondays at work. I go through the author sites, check their upcoming releases, then write them into my agenda religiously every year. This time around, I thought I’d share some of the titles I’m particularly excited about with you guys. That way, if you’re a fan, you can also add them to your list.

Madeline Hunter has Tall, Dark and Wicked coming out October 6th.

Nora Roberts has Stars of Fortune coming out November 3rd.

Nalini Singh has Archangel’s Enigma coming out September 1st.

Elizabeth Hoyt has Sweetest Scoundrel coming out November 24th.

Mary Balogh has Only a Kiss coming out September 1st.

Kristen Ashley has Hold On also coming out September 1st.

Jill Shalvis has All I Want coming out October 6th and My Kind of Wonderful December 22nd.

Annabel Joseph has Torment Me coming out at the end of September.

These are just some of the amazing books coming out before the end of 2015. Do you have others you’re looking forward to? Share them with me! I’d love to add them to my list. 😀

Review: The accidental Duchess

Madeline Hunter is one of my favourite authors for historical romance. She’s truly a pro and that genre is all that she writes. The Accidental Duchess was no exception. Check it out at her site: madelinehunter.com.

Lady Lydia Alfreton is in a fix. Once upon a time she wrote a work of fiction and a nasty man is blackmailing her for money in order to get it back. Desperate to obtain the manuscript and keep her virtue (something really important back then to a Lady of the ton), she agrees to an old wager against the Duke of Penthurst.

Now, Lydia is no fool. She only agreed to the wager because she’s incredibly lucky at cards and knows she’s going to win but the impossible happens and she loses. Now, her fix has doubled. She has that horrid blackmailer on her tail and a Duke at her elbow determined to collect the winnings of the bet.

No worries, it all works out in the end, it is romance after all, but there are more than a couple of twists and turns. This is a very active version of historical romance. Lydia is pretty smart and she comes up with all sorts of ways to keep her pursuers at bay (some quite funny) but one in particular ends up catching up with her.

The Accidental Duchess was a delight in many ways. There’s humour, something that doesn’t often happen in historical romance. The characters are awesome and very credible. The dialogue is definitely a slice of the time period and completely transported me back there. We have a strong, alpha hero and an intelligent, determined heroine. It’s like having a taste of Regent history without leaving your home. Delicious.

I would certainly recommend it to fans of historical romance. And, if you’re one and haven’t discovered Madeline Hunter, give her a shot. She’s really one of the best in the genre.

Note: click on the link to go to site.

 

Summertime Madness Book Tag

Alas…It already looks like summer is leaving us here in good old Canada. Today, it’s grey, damp and rainy. I won’t complain because we’ve had a lovely summer even if it only lasts two months here. Plus, I got tagged by Melissa Barker-Simpson for this lovely Summertime Book Tag and I can’t wait to share in. (thank you for thinking of me Melissa!)

Here are the questions (and none of them are crazy exam-like questions):

  • Show a book with a summery cover.
(credit:goodreads.com)

(credit:goodreads.com)

And yes, I read this one and absolutely loved, loved it. Mary Balogh is amazing.

  • Pick one fictional place that would be the perfect destination for a summer vacation!

I would love to visit England for the summer. I’ve been and it’s just beautiful, full of incredible culture and wonderful people. True, my hubby is British, so I’m a little biased. If I had to choose another destination, I’d love to see the East Coast of Canada. Halifax and Nova Scotia. They’re gorgeous places and I’ve never been.

  • You’re about to go on a flight to your summer vacation. But you want to read a book that lasts for the whole flight, what novella do you choose?

Depends how long the flight is. If we’re talking only a couple of hours, then I’d reread a book. Right now I’m rereading the Archangel series by Nalini Singh. It’s one of those I keep reading over and over.

If the flight was transatlantic, about 6 or 8 hours, then I’d choose a new book. I’d like to take something I haven’t read yet. Right now I’m reading a Chaos novel by Kristen Ashley. It’s nice and thick, she’s a reliable author and I’d love to have a few hours to just read and read.

On a very long  flight, I’d love to take something out of genre that I would read. I like to read Jodi Picoult…Its not my usual thing but I like the way she writes. Or something completely different for me. Just take a chance and test something off the shelf. You never know what you’ll find!

Okay…one thing is obvious, I sure can ramble! Time to shorten these answers!

  • You have a case of summertime sadness what happy book do you pick up to shine a smile on your face?

Anything by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I just finished one by her and she’s outstanding. Though, for honesty’s sake, I’d have to add that reading anything romance cheers me up.

  • You’re sitting at the beach all alone…which fictional character would be your beach babe?

Ah….beach babe?…….Ah…….ahem….let’s see….ah….

  • To match your ice cream you want an icy cool sidekick! Which fictional side kick do you pick?

Ah…side kick? I thought these questions were going to be easy!….ah….I’m going to choose my doggies…and thank Callum for the idea!

  • Share the Summertime Happiness! Who do you TAG?

Oh…here we are! The end! Hm…who do I tag…hee hee…the power…hee hee. I choose….Infinitefreetime, aka Luther M. Siler. Ha!