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.

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 King

How do you make a 600+ page book a page-turner? You get J.R. Ward to write it.

The King was a superb read. Like most of J.R. Ward’s books, there are multiple POV’s and story lines that only enhance the read. The pace is fast and there are many cliffhangers. It was the best kind of roller-coaster ride.

I had heard some negative things about this book and I picked it up with some misgivings. They were so wrong. For me, this was a fantastic read. It has a great love story–I love Wrath–and awesome secondary characters. Add in a dash of humour, some great writing and I’m hooked.

J.R. Ward has an uncanny way of catching my interest. Her characters are so human, so beautifully flawed, I can’t help but to love them. The way they rise above the challenges in their path, makes me cheer for them and the love story made me sigh. Most of them are so hard on themselves, they never, ever take the easy road out. That heroic characteristic doesn’t grow old, it just makes me love them even more.

There were twists and turns in this book, times when I thought: there’s no way this is ending well. I just couldn’t see how it was all going to get fixed. But there’s a happy ending and enough tantalizing bits about those secondary characters that I know I’ll pick up the next book in the series. Eagerly.

Both serious, and at times funny, J.R. Ward has a great sense of timing and that comes through in this book in spades. An absolute keeper, The King will join the other BDB books on my shelf. I highly recommend this one for anyone who is a fan and, if you haven’t tried J.R. Ward, I’d really encourage you to. She’s one of the best paranormal romance writers out there. And for good reason.

17703290-2

Note: click on the cover to go to the site.

Fight night

As payback for taking him to see Twilight, my hubby made me watch a UFC fight.

Having read about fights in my romance books and having watched movies, I was confident I knew what to expect. The hero would have quiet dignity and not be very demonstrative. Neo-like, he’d move so quickly the naked eye would have trouble following his actions. Rocky-like, he’d take punches stoically without so much as a flinch. He’d wait until just the right moment, when he’d unleash his punch and with minimal fuss, subdue the bad guy in seconds. It would be a thing of beauty.

I was taken back as soon as the fighters emerged. Neither of them looked right. For one, their hair didn’t look like Fabio’s and they weren’t cool and aloof. They were tattooed, with shaved heads, broken noses and had ‘cauliflower’ ears–an item never once mentioned in a romance book.

When the fight started, it was a huge let down. For minutes on end, all the fighters did was circle each other giving their opponent their version of the ‘evil eye’. I stared as time passed and not a single arm was lifted. When I finally asked my hubby what was going on, he explained they were ‘looking for an opening’. An opening? Napoleon didn’t plan as long as these two did.

When they finally got into the actual scuffle, their punches were ridiculous and uncoordinated. While Rocky had punches that could fell a tree, these guys seldom hit their target and their hits looked feather light.

Something romance books never mention is that the chin is like a On/Off button on people. When a flailing limb somehow hit one of the fighters on the chin, he went down like a sack of potatoes.

Another fact that romance books blatantly ignore is the power of the elbow. Fists might look powerful but if you want to really hurt your opponent, you should use your elbow. Harder than any knuckle, the elbow can do incredible damage and can actually cut someone’s face. To my knowledge, not one of my romance heroes has ever elbowed someone.

And to bring about submission, you writhe on the ground with your opponent looking a lot like two earthworms who have gotten very friendly with each other.

Watching two well trained athletes slither on the ground, grinding against their opponent burst what was left of my hope that this fight would ever resemble those in my romance books. Not one ounce of dignity, not an iota of romantic flare, this wasn’t a hero and a bad guy, this was nuts.

John_L._Sullivan_1898

I practically ran back to my romance books.

Review: Two Alone

Rusty is a successful business woman on a trip back home. Cooper is a grumpy veteran with a no-nonsense attitude. They’re on the same plane and, as luck would have it, are the only survivors when it crashes. Hurt, Rusty is dependent on Cooper for her very survival and, together, they struggle to make it alive back to civilization.

Don’t let me confuse you. This is also a romance. Though Rusty and Cooper start off disliking each other, they end up falling in love. Along the ride, they face predators, dangerous situations, and even dangerous people. I won’t say more, because I don’t want to give too much away.

Certainly Rusty and Cooper don’t fall into an easy relationship. He’s grumpy and lets her know what he thinks of her. In turn, she might be injured but she holds her own. They have more than their share of arguments along the way as they work through their issues.

The book is a really fun, light read. There are no complicated, twists in the plot or mysterious details to remember. It’s a great summer read and I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested in a wonderful love story to read at the cottage or at the beach.

Sandra-Brown-Two-Alone

 

Note: click on book to go to site.