Category Archives: 3 1/2 stars

Review: The Rogue’s Proposal by Jennifer Haymore

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Title: The Rogue’s Proposal

Author: Jennifer Haymore

Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)

Release Date: 19 November 2013

Source: eARC via NetGalley

 

From Goodreads:

Lord Lukas Hawkins, the rakish second son of the House of Trent, has never found a wager he couldn’t win or a woman he couldn’t seduce—until his search for his missing mother leads him to a mysterious encounter with a beautiful stranger.

Luke’s mother has been missing for months, and while his honorable older brother Simon, Duke of Trent, leads the official investigation from London, Luke sets out on a somewhat seedier path. Sources have told him his mother was last seen with a scoundrel named Roger Morton, but their association isn’t clear. Was she kidnapped or did she go willingly?

While searching for Morton, Luke meets Emma Anderson, a secretive beauty with her own reasons for hunting Morton. At first Luke laughs at the idea of allowing a woman to join him in his search, but soon Emma’s insights into Morton—like the woman herself—prove impossible to resist.

 

Luke and Emma are brought together by devastating circumstances that each are facing on their own. Luke is on his quest to find his mother while Emma is trying to restore her father’s fortune and health and both of them need to find one person that can give them the answers they seek. And so begins a journey that took them to places both familiar and new and to heightened desires and awakened feelings.

 

In the beginning, I liked them enough but I had a hard time connecting with them. Although I wanted to know how they will go about their quest I wasn’t as invested in them as I would have liked to be. I was wondering why I felt this way about them when slowly but surely, they began to share more of themselves with the readers. And so as I got to know them better, the more I grew invested in what will eventually happen to them. And even I was surprised by the depth of my sympathy with them, especially Luke.

 

Birth secrets and cruel parents are almost de rigueur in the makings of a wounded hero of the story and from the start I have accepted that this was going to play a part in Luke’s story. But I had somehow taken this for granted and didn’t realize until the second half of the book the extent of what Luke had suffered through when he was but a child. And for the first time, I began to truly understand why he was the way he was.

 

Emma was a revelation to me, especially in the latter part of the book. She didn’t stand out as much in the earlier parts but what endeared her to me, without a doubt, was when she defended Luke most bravely and emotionally to his siblings. I mean that scene alone was, for me, worth reading the whole book for. It had me crying because of the powerful emotion that that scene evoked not just for the readers but for Emma’s characterization as well. Simply put, it was grand and beautiful.

 

The story was wrapped up well and the HEA of our hero and heroine was sweetly done. I appreciated the fact that amid all the mystery and the action that their journey brought them, at the center of it all is still their story together: how they shared themselves with each other, not just physically but emotionally and how they healed each other in many ways through acceptance and love.

 

I haven’t read Book 1 of this series so I don’t really know anything about Trent or the rest of the Hawkins family but I can’t wait to read more about them now. The eARC I received contained a teaser chapter for Jennifer Haymore’s next book and it features Sam, Luke’s older brother. And I can’t wait.

 

Ratings: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

About the author:

JenniferHaymoreJennifer Haymore grew up in California and on the Big Island of Hawaii. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in Education from UCLA. Before she became a full-time writer she held various jobs from bookselling to teaching inner-city children to playing bit roles in soap operas.

You can find Jennifer in Southern California trying to talk her husband into yet another trip to England, helping her three children with homework while brainstorming a new five-minute dinner menu, or crouched in a corner of the local bookstore writing her next novel.

Learn more about Jennifer Haymore via her Website, Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter accounts.

 

 

 

 

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Review: Melting Ms Frost by Kat Black

18741852Title: Melting Ms. Frost

Author: Kat Black

Publisher: HarperCollins UK, Avon

Date of Publication: 28 November 2013

Source: ARC from HarperCollins via NetGalley

In the beginning, I was tempted not to finish this book. I had issues with both the characters. I liked them well enough in the first chapter. I was really interested in getting to know them and how the story will unfold. But then by the second and third chapters, it felt like I was walking on shaky ground. My biggest issue was Aidan and his overly crude, forward, and bordering-on-sexual-harassment treatment of Annabelle. I was literally cringing whenever I’m reading whatever it was he was whispering or telling Annabelle. I didn’t like that I was reading him as an offensive jerk. I was expecting a straight-forward contemporary romance but it was shaping up to be something else. Then I went and read a review that mentioned that the book has a BDSM undertone to it and everything just made a bit more sense. Having shifted my expectations, I started enjoying the book.

But then to my utter and complete surprise, the book never really did get that close to the level of BDSM that I was then kind of expecting, given how Aidan was acting in the first few chapters. In fact, it became, for me, exactly my cup of tea when it comes to contemporary romance. And that made me a very happy reader.

The author was able to convince me that Aidan was using his crudeness and directness in order to get through Annabelle’s mile-thick defense she’s built around herself. I still think it was a bit creepy in the beginning and it can be a bit of a turn-off for some but I’m really glad I continued reading the book.

First impressions can be a bit deceiving and I was glad that Aidan turned out to be not what I initially suspected and was actually a pretty decent guy. I appreciate that he’s driven and has a strong sense of purpose and of himself, given what he went through in his life. And I love that he cares very deeply and very genuinely about Annabelle. He understands her better than anybody else and I think that beyond the caring, the attention, and the great sex that he’s able to provide her, his complete understanding of her as a person is the one thing that Annabelle needed the most.

Annabelle was a very interesting character to watch unfold throughout the book. In the beginning, she’s this seemingly cold and strict beyond measures kind of person, who pretty much likes to be in control of everything in her life. But she has issues, deeply ingrained because of her past that makes it hard for her to trust people other than herself. But Kat Black was able to flesh her out for the readers and show us what motivates such a self-shutting way of life for Annabelle. And I appreciate that Kat Black was also able to portray her with all her fears and anxieties without compromising her depiction of Annabelle as a strong and intelligent woman.

And if you like a slow-burn romance, you will enjoy this book. Forget about the BDSM undertones because I completely did and it wasn’t really severe as I had expected. In fact, the love scenes were organic to the story. It was part of the development of both characters and their relationship with each other. To be honest, majority of the book was in the build-up of all that sexual tension and that connection they have have with each other, which can be a bit of a frustrating wait but at the same time it was so much fun watching them gauge each other, their own feelings, and their idea of what their relationship can mean for their lives.

 

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

 

About the author:

Kat BlackKAT BLACK is the author of prize-winning, pulse-pounding, contemporary fiction published by HarperCollins, Ellora’s Cave, Totally Bound and Xcite Books.

Born and raised in Australia, Kat spent a great deal of her formative years either lost in the pages of a book or getting carried away by the stories in her head. At the age of eighteen, she donned her backpack and set out to see the world. She got as far as London (her very first port of call) before running into a six-foot-one, solid British obstacle that stopped her in her tracks. Years later she’s still in England, missing the sun, sea and sand, and penning temperature-raising tales to help counteract the effects of the infamous weather. It may be taking a little longer than planned, but she is getting to see the world – bit-by-bit with her husband and children.

Check out her website here.

 

 

 

Review: The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

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From Goodreads:

He thinks she’s an annoying know-it-all…

Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she’s long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.

She thinks he’s just plain mad…

Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn’t matter. She doesn’t care that his leg is less than perfect, it’s his personality she can’t abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless …

New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn’s enchanting third novel in the Smythe-Smith quartet is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and tug at your heartstrings in equal measures.

 

Julia Quinn continues her Smythe-Smith series in this third installment that features Hugh Prentice and Sarah Pleinsworth. Hugh is the man who, in a drunken state, accused Daniel Smythe-Smith (A Night Like This) of cheating during a card game and challenged him to a duel. Said duel left Hugh with a badly broken leg and Daniel fleeing for his life and freedom. But Hugh somehow convinces his somewhat mad father, the one who’s hunting Daniel’s life and freedom, to cease and desist and was able to find Daniel and bring him back to England. Sarah happens to be cousin to Daniel and to say that she is utterly disappointed with the duel and its aftereffects to their lives, and that she would likely forget about it soon, even if Daniel was back and soon to be happily married, would be the understatements of the Season.

 

I’m a big fan of Julia Quinn. Her Bridgerton series would remain on my favorites bookshelf for as long as I live. However, her Smythe-Smith series was just not at par with her Bridgerton series. I enjoyed Just Like Heaven but A Night Like This was such a disappointment for me. I didn’t care about the characters as much as I would have wanted to and despite the little gems of Julia Quinn’s prose sprinkled within that second installment, in the end it was just an okay book for me. But I’m happy to report that Julia Quinn redeems herself somewhat in this third installment. Her writing and characters shine through this book. One of the things I enjoy in Julia Quinn’s writing, and that I’m happy to note that it is much present in this book, is how it flows well. You know how conversations between characters can be a bit contrite at times or that the flow from one scene to the next can be so jagged, right? Well, Julia Quinn’s writing is nothing like that in this book. The conversations between her characters flow really well.

 

I found Lady Sarah a bit difficult to like in the beginning. As Hugh would initially think, she can be prone to the dramatic and the exaggerated. Her somewhat petty excuses made it hard for me to sympathize with her. Her redeeming feature for this particular point is that she’s the type of person who recognizes that she’s sometimes that person. She admits this truth to herself and I find that admirable about her. As the book progresses, Julia Quinn was able to make her a more complex character. She slowly shows the readers that Sarah is a person of great depth as well.

 

Now, Hugh, though, I absolutely adore. He’s this larger-than-life man who’s weighed down by one grave mistake in his past. He carries this mistake like a cross, bearing his guilt. Even when he was able to make amends and right everything, he hasn’t forgiven himself still. He damaged his leg during the duel and now has a limp and mostly needs a cane when he walks. He’s got all this pain and angst that he never shows to others and he keeps bottled inside him. And I love just how Sarah draws him out of this shell of guilt and hurt.

 

The romance was a slow burn. But that’s the development that I mostly appreciate in romance novels. If I’m to describe how love blossomed between these two, it’s like this continuous meeting of minds and hearts, of sharing your innermost thoughts and your most guarded feelings. This is one of the aspects of the book that I really enjoyed reading. One moment they were just acquaintances and the next thing you know they’ve fallen in love and you can’t pinpoint the exact moment where they did fall in love.

 

I would have liked not to have to read about Hugh’s father but he was a part of Hugh’s story so I understand that plot point. What I didn’t understand was Daniel’s reaction to a conflict in the latter part of the book. It was a bit out of character and a little over the top. And given the severity of what’s at stake, the confrontation with Hugh’s father was less strained and less edged with danger than what I had expected. But having said that, this book is still an enjoyable read for me.

 

Rating: 3 1/2 of 5 stars

 

 

 

 

Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

15505346Blurb from Goodreads:

When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family’s summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He’s almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn’t bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family – and a stack of overdue assignments – instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.’s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.

Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

 

This book is told from the alternate POVs of Anna and T.J. Every chapter is a switch from one to the other and at first it was a bit erratic for me. What I got from reading Tracey Garvis-Graves is that she seems sparse with her words. Her chapters seemed not that long and one time I was thinking that they felt a little like staccato for me. Not that this is a bad thing. It was just a bit difficult for me especially in the beginning to get into the groove of her writing. Nevertheless, she tells her story and I like where she goes with it. In the first half, I was kind of waiting for the romance to happen but then I got invested more on their survival and their need for one another in the very basic way of needing to have somebody in order to survive. Although, when the romance did happen, I was on board with them as well.

Anna and T.J. weren’t as fleshed out as other characters I’ve read but they were fleshed out as they needed to be in the book for the story to work and at least to that extent I’m satisfied. I can imagine them as real people: Anna with her long-time boyfriend who can’t quite commit to marriage, T.J. with his battle with cancer.

The age difference between them and the inevitable consequences of their relationship were handled well, I think. The various perspectives that were shown were given their voice, so to speak, and I appreciate that the author did not try to gloss over this and instead presented the readers with a realistic take on the issue.

Although I did not feel that much invested, partly because I had a feeling the author would never give us anything but a happy ending, it was still a good read for me.

 

Rating: 3 ½ / 5 stars