Review: Mean Streak

Sandra Brown usually does mystery and I’m not a big fan of that genre. Having said that, I loved Mean Streak. It’s got a fantastic plot, a mystery simple enough that it kept the romance alive, and a beautiful love story. Add to that, the amazing Sandra-Brown-touch with cliffhangers and you have a page-turner that I just couldn’t put down.

The plot was awesome. It stars with a prologue. Not a huge one, so I didn’t get put off, but it left me hanging and I had to read on to find out what happened. Emory is our heroine and she’s an accomplished doctor who likes to run. I immediately liked her. Running endeared her to me even if her personality hadn’t been awesome, but it was. She’s determined and tough and will keep trying no matter what. I loved her.

She’s training for a marathon and has an ‘accident’, then wakes up captive by a very intimidating man. He’s our hero and will remain nameless, like he is for quite a bit of the book, but he’s really awesome. He’s gruff, introverted, cryptic and just as determined to do the right thing as she is. While he’s presented as mean-looking, I was almost immediately won over because he’s incredibly gentle and kind to Emory, taking care of her to his own detriment and putting all other considerations aside.

The mystery of who hurt Emory keeps the book going, though for me, the big issue was how the hero and heroine were going to get together. Finally, when things are explained, it wasn’t so complicated that I couldn’t make out what happened or understand it. And there was a happy ending, which made the romantic-lover in me grin with delight.

Mean Streak was so much fun. It was easy to read, incredibly addictive and not too gory. I would recommend it strongly for any Sandra Brown fans, anyone who likes mystery and anyone who’s into romance. It’s got a special place on my keeper shelf and has me looking for more books from this author.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Review: Strangers in the Night

Strangers in the Night is a story collection from Linda Howard. It contains three short stories written by this author. In my mind, there’s no better way to know if you like an author than to try a short story. It’s like the book equivalent of an hors d’oeuvre, small, delicious without any commitment.

The first story is Lake of Dreams and it’s almost a fantasy. It definitely has a fantastical element in it. Sick of not getting enough sleep, Thea Marlow goes to the cottage by the lake that has been the scene of most of her disturbing dreams. Unfortunately, instead of getting exorcising those issues, she meets a stranger who turns out to be the main character in her dreams.

In Blue Moon, Sherriff Jackson Brody is sent out to deal with a drunk man and ends up meeting the town’s odd lady, a so-called witch. Instead of a toad, she turns out to have a winning personality and feistiness to match his own.

Finally, in White Out, Hope Bradshaw offers shelter to a stranger in the middle of a blizzard and, when they share more than some body heat, suspicions start to rise as to his identity.

Linda Howard never disappoints. She writes consistently authentic characters that are fully developed and realistic. Already an absolute fan, I loved reading these short stories and watching her set the setting, introduce the characters and stir the plot in a few short sentences without making the reader feel robbed or rushed. If you’ve never tried Linda Howard, let me encourage you. She’s the number two most popular author of contemporary romance for a reason and these tiny stories are a great way to get to know her.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Review: Indecent Proposal

An absolute must read, for me Indecent Proposal had a ton of things going for it. A great plot, a fantastic hero and heroine and, most importantly, amazing writing. Amazing, amazing writing. This is the first time I read Molly O’Keefe but it will not be the last.

The set up wasn’t unique: Harrison Montogomery is the next man to lead his family by getting elected into government. He’s gorgeous, rich and comes from a family that’s the American version of royalty. The problem is, one tough night, Harrison needs a shoulder to lean on and that shoulder is Ryan (our heroine) Kaminski’s. One night they will never forget turns things around for Harrison. Ryan’s pregnant with his child and the only way to avoid a scandal that will ruin his election is marriage.

Ryan doesn’t have a penny to her name and, though initially she doesn’t want a dime from Harrison, she finally accepts the marriage for the sake of her child. Still, their marriage is anything but a honey-moon. Harrison believes Ryan set him up, his family hate her and Ryan’s family isn’t talking to her. Still, with a witty sense of humour, determination and compassion she doesn’t just win them over, she won me over.

This book could have easily been one more Cinderella story but Molly O’Keefe’s adept writing takes it far above that. Ryan has depth and, interestingly, so does Harrison. We see their flaws and their struggles as they come to know and love each other. The end isn’t just a convenient happily-ever-after, there are tumbles and realistic turns. I loved that even Ryan’s enemies turn out to have soft spots and compassion. I loved the turns the book took and the surprising twists along the way. I found Harrison and Ryan as complex, layered individuals with interesting quirks and histories. They had amazing lines that only enriched the already interesting dialogue.

If you’re into romance whether historical or contemporary, I’d recommend you this book. I started it at the book store and couldn’t put the thing down. I had it read in under three hours. It’s one of those.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site

Review: Mine to Take

 Mine to Take starts off a new series for Jackie Ashenden. It tells the story of Gabriel Woolf and Honor St. James. Gabriel is a tough, ruthless, highly successful business man who’s never forgotten the man who hurt his mother. Honor is a highly successful business woman who’s also the stepdaughter of Gabriel’s enemy.

Though this is very much a romance novel, Honor and Gabriel are in opposite sides of a war. Honor doesn’t know the real reason Gabriel is interested in her business proposition but still manages to maintain a detached business attitude. She’s tough, smart and doesn’t give up without a fight.

Though Gabriel is tough as nails, we are privy to his reasons for his anger from early on. Less a monster than he thinks himself to be, he comes across as a man torn by loss and pain and trying to find his way through it. He’s tempted by Honor from the very beginning and determined to keep the upper hand.

They spar at every turn and I loved reading every word. The dialogue is absolutely delicious. There are great lines in almost every scene and I paused just to savour them.

There are also amazing secondary characters. Gabriel’s friends, who I hope will be the heroes in the next books, are awesome and intriguing with great personalities and interesting backstories that made me want to know more about them.

Overall, this was a book I truly enjoyed. Not only was it romance and contemporary (one of my favourites) but it was written by an author I hadn’t previously read. After Mine to Take, this is going to change. I’m keeping a very close eye on Jackie Ashenden from now on and heading to the bookstore to see what other books she’s written.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Review: Stolen

I had to read Stolen. Bitten was so good, it left me wanting more.

Stolen is the second book in the Otherworld series. It has Elena and Clayton, our heroes from the former book, but it also introduces other characters and villains.  It continues where the other left off, which delighted me, but puts Elena in a fix, which worried me.

Stolen opens the Otherworld series wide. There are witches here and vampires and demons and shamans and every other creature you could think of. That didn’t bother me but Elena gets kidnapped and is stuck deep underground by a group of nasty scientist-like villains and that worried me. A lot. There’s something about mad geniuses doing experiments that scares me silly.

Before you get all antsy, I’ll let you know that things turn out okay. Elena rules the day, Clayton is awesome still and they come out winners, even manage to make a few new friends on the way. Still, I bit my nails to the quick.

Kelley Armstrong delivers another great read with Stolen. The reading is fluid and magnetic. Elena and Clayton are as inspiring as they were the first time around. There is humour sprinkled in that made me adore the book and though there were some terrifying moments, I think most readers won’t be as antsy as I am and they’d love this book. So, if you’re a fan of romance, or like a mystery or drama or even like a bit of a rush, this book is for you. Don’t panic if you haven’t read the first, this one does a great job of covering the basis and introducing you to the Otherworld series. I’d highly recommend it.

(credit: teabookslove.blogspot.com)

(credit: teabookslove.blogspot.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Review: Bitten

Okay, I loved this book. It just seemed to work for me in every sense. The writing is delicious, the main character, Elena was awesome and the hero was both funny and admirable. Yes, there were a couple of parts that were a little gruesome for me (this book is often categorized under horror) but overall, it was superb.

The story follows Elena, our heroine, through a return to her pack. She’s a reluctant werewolf who helps her friends against an uprising of threatening intruders.

The book is written in the first person and it’s so personal, I felt like I was Elena. She’s simply fantastic. Selfless, determined and as tough as nails, she’s a great heroine to take us through the book.

Clayton is the hero and he’s not your typical romance hero. For one, he makes mistakes all the time (one of which sent Elena running away from the pack) and for another, he’s not the leader of the pack and has a terrible temper. Still, Clayton makes a very inspiring and realistic hero. He adores Elena and is consistently trying to win her over. Even if he messes it up.

The plot revolves about the pack fighting to keep those threatening lone werewolves from taking over their territory and of course the love story. We can see that there’s a thick rich history behind the story and amazing secondary characters like Jeremy, the leader of the pack, Nick and Antonio.

It was a bit gory for me but I’ll be the first to admit, I hate fights of any sort in books. The writing was excellent, the love story superb and the characters awesome. More than all that, it was a book that managed to create werewolves into credible, realistic beings who struggle with issues just like humans and aren’t just running about enjoying their powers. If you enjoy paranormal romance or romance or horror, this is one you shouldn’t skip. A definite keeper-shelf book.

(credit:abookwormshaven.com)

(credit:abookwormshaven.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Review: Shield of Winter

I love Nalini Singh. She’s one of those authors who’s writing is magical. I can read one or two sentences and, no matter what she’s writing about, I want to continue. Her Psy-Changeling series is absolutely delicious.

Like most of her heroes, Vasic is a little scary. He’s an Arrow, a highly trained soldier who’s just that close to being a lethal killer. Vasic admits that he feels very little and his life is pretty hopeless. Still, he feels for the other Arrows and is devoted to duty.

His duty is protecting Ivy Jane, our heroine. Like Vasic, she’s gone through horrible trauma and is more than a little apprehensive of him at first. Together, they fight for their people and come to find in each other more than just support but healing and, finally, love.

I can give you the gist of what happens but it won’t do the book justice. Nalini Singh, once again, weaves her magic and reading this book is sheer delight. The lines aren’t over the top, the characters are real and attractive, the plot is logical and not contrived. There’s a reason she’s on my automatic-buy list and this book reminded me of it. In fact, I ran to the bookstore to find another of her series that I had managed to miss.

If you don’t know Nalini Singh, check her out. She’s a New York Times Bestseller for good reason and, take it from me, she’s reliably amazing. This book is just one of the many she’s written that deserve great compliments.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Review: The Professional

The Professional, from Kresley Cole is simply pure enjoyment. A story of rags to riches with the thrill of a chase added in. It’s never too complicated to follow and never let me down. I devoured it in one of those delicious afternoons that make me wish for the weekend.

Natalie is a hard-working Masters student when she gets a surprise. She meets a mysterious Siberian, Sevastyan, who refuses to take no for an answer and drags her to Russia. On the plane ride there, Natalie starts to uncover her story and why she’s suddenly in danger.

Sevastyan is protective and introverted which, at times, creates issues. But the two are pushed into relying on each other and it’s not long before they’re in a roller-coaster of an adventure.

The Professional was terrific read. It’s written from Natalie’s point of view and I loved that. It’s intimate and I fell in love with Natalie from the start. The plot kept me glued to the pages. It moves quickly from one location to another and kept me wondering what was going to happen next. Fun and delightfully romantic, I’d highly recommend this one to anyone who likes a thriller and romance.

(credit: kresleycole.com)

(credit: kresleycole.com)

Review: Finding the Dream

An absolutely delicious ending for a great trilogy, Finding the Dream was a book that read itself. It’s the classic story of the bad boy and the good girl and it was as beautiful as a dream.

By the third book, we’ve already met Laura and I had already fallen in love with her. She’s hardworking, selfless and determined to do the right thing no matter what it costs her. She’s also pretty and elegant but she doesn’t give those things much value.

Michael Fury is our hero. A man rough, tough, daredevil of a man who lives by his own rules. He’s been dealt some tough cards in life and is trying to do the best he can with what he’s got. He has come back to where he grew up and is trying to start a business but old prejudices die hard and he finds his history working against him.

Unlike the rest of the population, Laura does give him a chance and lets him stay in Templeton house to start his business raising and selling horses. It’s a decision that takes a risk with her heart because, though she’s determined to maintain a polite distance from Michael, life keeps throwing them together.

Laura likes her life predictable and organized. Michael is chaos, passion and action. It takes his fire and courage to show Laura what she’s missing and to help her realize there’s passion inside her waiting to be discovered. It also takes Laura’s open-minded, compassionate heart to help Michael see how his own prejudices are keeping him from realizing his potential.

Finding the Dream is a delightful love story, written with wonderful, realistic dialogue, a quick, lively humour and filled with likeable, easy-to-relate-to characters. It made a wonderful ending to a delightful trilogy and is definitely on my keeper shelf. If you’re a fan of contemporary romance, don’t miss out on this series. They’re a fantastic trio of books.

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Review: Holding the Dream

I was a huge fan of this book. I know it’s only part two and some times those middle books tend to sag, but this one shone.

It’s by Nora Roberts, so it was incredibly well written. There was witty dialogue and the characters were awesome but, if I’m honest, the big hit with me was the heroine, Kate Powell.

Kate is a woman after my own heart mostly because she’s a lot like me. She’s determined to rescue herself (I might defer there. I love a well-timed rescue), she’s hard working, a bit bookish, nerdy, nervous and she loves math. To make her even more likeable, she adores the hero’s two puppies.

Byron is the hero and he rescues a very reluctant Kate from the mess she finds herself in. Nora being Nora, Byron only helps Kate get back on her feet before she finds her voice and fixes the issue herself. Still, there was enough of a rescue to satisfy the romantic in me and make me sigh with delight. And Byron was determined without being obnoxious which Nora does with tons of class. He was awesome, easy going, yet very determined to get his woman.

The trio of women who create this series are easy to like. They’re all hard working women (when has Nora Roberts ever written a woman who’s not?) and stand by each other through thick and thin. Add in a touch of humour and a beautiful love story and you’ve got a hit. If you haven’t tried this series, give them a go. They’re absolute keepers.

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Note: click on the cover to go to site.