Saturday, December 13, 2014

Review: When Snow Falls by Brenda Novak

Paperback448 pages
Published October 23rd 2012 
by Harlequin MIRA 
(first published January 1st 2012)
Series: Whiskey Creek, #2
My Rating: 
Genre: Contemporary Romance

After growing up in cheap motels, moving from town to town with her sister and mother, Cheyenne Christensen is grateful to be on her own. She's grateful, too, for the friends she found once her family settled in California. But she's troubled by the mystery of her earliest memories, most of which feature a smiling blonde woman. A woman who isn't her mother.

Although Cheyenne has repeatedly asked for explanations, the people who could help aren't talking. Cheyenne is set on finding answers, but without so much as a birth certificate, it won't be easy.

Things get even more complicated when her closest friend is attracted to the man Cheyenne has secretly loved for years. For Eve's sake, she decides to step aside — which lands her right in the arms of Dylan Amos, oldest and baddest of the hell-raising Amos brothers. He's the kind of guy she's sworn to avoid. She can't afford to make a mistake, not when she finally has a chance to learn who she really is and change her life for the better. But . . . maybe there's more to Dylan than she thought. Maybe letting him go would be a bigger mistake.

I'm just going to come out and say, I loved this book. I think it was because it left me wanting. Not that I felt it was incomplete, but because there was still so much I wanted to know about the characters. Initially I was confused when it seemed that the author was setting up Cheyenne with a love interest that was not named in the blurb, but later I saw how much better off she was with Dylan. Because Dylan wasn't a dream she was in love with, he was a real person who loved her far more deeply than Chey's dream man ever could. 

I loved that Chey was a mixed up character. It was darn frustrating at times, because she was so hot and cold with Dylan, but it really highlighted how much her childhood had hurt her. And it opened up a layer of emotion with her sister that was really beautiful and meaningful--I can't wait to read Presley's story. 

What really resonated with me was how much Chey came into her own in this book. It was really hard for her to live life authentically because she was always living a life of shame--she was the good girl in her family, and her mother and sister were the shame she had to carry around in small town Whiskey Creek. That made her more responsible, more kind, it earned her respect and friendship, but I found that she also was living a life where her choices were largely made because she had to keep up that respectability she'd earned for herself. Dylan was a blight on that since he was a bad boy, or at least from the wrong side of the tracks. Tracks that Chey lived among, but didn't belong to. These dividing lines were very interesting since Dylan wasn't all that much of a bad boy. I think that's why I thought they fit together--Chey was the good girl, but she had lived a life that wasn't all roses and sunshine just like Dylan. Dylan had the bad boy rep still, but he had cleaned up big time, and no one had noticed. By being with Dylan, letting herself become drawn into his world bit by bit, even when she did doubt the wisdom of this, Chey was letting go of being the good girl, and beginning to live authentically, and I really liked that because it takes true courage to do that, especially for someone like Chey who sought for approval all of her life. 

I loved this book, pure and simple. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: To Marry a Scottish Laird by Lynsay Sands

Paperback384 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by Avon
Series: An English Bride in Scotland, #2
My Rating: 
Genre: Historical Romance

Highlander Campbell Sinclair is no stranger to battle, so when he sees a lad attacked by bandits, he jumps into the fray. He didn't count on being stabbed. Grateful to the boy for nursing him back to health, Cam offers to accompany Jo safely to his destination. But when he accidentally comes across the lad bathing in the river, Cam discovers that Jo is actually Joan...with the most sinful of curves.

Joan promised her mother that she would deliver a scroll to the clan MacKay. But traveling alone is dangerous, even disguised as a boy. When a Scottish warrior lends his aid, she is more than relieved...until he surprises her with lingering kisses and caresses that prove her disguise hasn't fooled him. As their passion ignites, will the secrets of the scroll force a wedding...and lead to a love she's never known?

I quite enjoyed this novel. Lynsay Sands really knows how to write a great historical. They're romantic, full of passion, with well developed characters and the plots are always engaging and fun. I read this almost immediately after reading the first in the series, which I adored, and I found this was one hell of a fun read. Not as funny as the first novel, but still sharp and it pulled at my heart strings.
Inside cover.
I love the inside covers of romances!

I loved how Cam and Joan could not keep their hands off each other. It was entertaining and it was artfully done so that their encounters built true intimacy between them. So it was an easy marriage in a way--they both loved one another, so even though it was a forced marriage, it really was an easy marriage too. But nothing is ever really easy in romance, and the happily ever after has to be earned, so there are of course obstacles for this couple to overcome. One being something of a misunderstanding and lack of communication between our hero and heroine--but that's always the way. The other is something far more sinister.

This novel has a great cast of supporting characters, some of who I hope to see again and some that I'm glad I'll never see again *grin* It was also nice to see Ross and Annabel again, and they shone marvelously. I love it when authors can bring back characters from a previous novel in the series in a meaningful way. I am sure to continue this series and will be reading more from this author in the future.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

What's the Scoop??? I've Been Quiet

So, it's December and I'm finally getting back to blogging. I hope. So why have I been so quiet? Basically, I've run out of steam. I have been so busy of late, and soooo sick, that I just had no energy to boot up my laptop. So, if I couldn't do it from my phone, it wasn't getting done.

Why so busy? Well, being sick sucks, and working while sick sucks bigger. But it sucks biggest when you're sick, working and enduring pain from an injury. And trying to treat that in my off hours. But, that's life right? Sadly, it caused me to fall behind on other things. Cleaning. Friends. Blogging. Not the reading, because there's always time for that. And let's face it, when you feel like doing nothing, reading is a far more entertaining substitute.

But, my injury is getting better. FINALLY. And while I might be sick from now till spring, that at least I can handle. Even if colds are a nasty pain in the you know what.

So, essentially that's the scoop. I have lots of books I need to blog...but I'm not sure when that's happening. I'm going to try and make that ASAP, I promise!!! I've read some really good books that I'm dying to share with you. So stay tuned everyone!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

The Winter King by C.L Wilson

Mass Market Paperback608 pages
Published July 29th 2014 by Avon
Series: Weathermages of Mystral, #1
My Rating: 
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Wynter Atrialan, the Winter King, once lived in peace with his southern, Summerlander neighbors, but when the prince of Summerlea steals Wynter’s bride and murders his young brother, Wynter calls upon a dangerous Wintercraig magic called the Ice Heart and marches against Summerlea.

After three bitter years of battle, a victorious Wynter arrives at Summerlea’s royal palace to issue his terms of surrender. The prince of Summerlea stole Wynter’s bride and slew Wynter’s Heir. He wants the loss replaced. The Ice Heart is consuming him. Wynter hopes holding his own child in his arms will rekindle the warmth in his heart before he becomes the monster of Wintercraig legend, the Ice King.

The Summer King has three very precious daughters whom he loves dearly. Wynter will take one of them to wife. She will have one year to provide him with an Heir. If she fails, he will send her to face the mercy of the mountains and claim another princess for his wife. And so it will continue until Wynter has his Heir or the Summer King is out of daughters.

The plan is perfect—except for one small detail. The Summer King has a fourth daughter. One of whom he is not so fond. And she is a fiercely passionate creature, with a temper as volatile as the forces of her weathergift, the power of storms.

I stumbled across this book not too long ago and added it the ever growing to be read list. And then one day whilst browsing in the bookstore, I turned around and this book was on the shelf right behind me. Naturally, I couldn't resist. 

This book was pure epic fantasy. I loved how detailed the author was in her world building, and how naturally you come to know the world of Mystral, and the kingdoms of Wintercraig and Summerlea. My hat goes off to Ms. Wilson for showing us those worlds, and for how beautifully they are shown to us. I fell in love with a land that is snowy and cold every bit as much as Khamsin did. 

Both Wynter and Khamsin are slightly broken from past hurts and betrayals, betrayals that should never have been. And both Khamsin and Wynter have indomitable wills. It's why I love them so much. Both are stubborn, but each has a good nature and kind heart. Not to mention, passion. I'm not just talking about the way they burn up the sheets (which steams  up the pages more often than once) but about how passionate they are about their people and life. Wynter swallows the Ice Heart, which will eventually kill him, because of that passion--to protect his people and avenge his brother's death. Khamsin risks life and limb not just to save her beloved Wynter, but to save the people of Mystral.

The romance in this novel develops over time. Khamsin and Wynter are immediately attracted to one another, but both are cautious of the emotion because each of them knows that the marriage is meant to humiliate the Summerlanders, and to gain an heir for Wintercraig. But Wintermen are bound to protect their women, and Wynter plans to care for Khamsin accordingly. It takes him a while to really begin to show Khamsin the kind of care he ought, but once he does, the genuine emotions they have for one another begin to manifest outside of the bedroom as well. And that's what I appreciate about the romance--if you read carefully, it's present from the very beginning and the emotions they have for one another are very strong. 

Action packed, filled with rich description, this novel is intelligently laid out and cast with characters that are three dimensional. Some drip with malice, others are aloof and yet wise, and you can feel the raw emotion that both Wynter and Khamsin have in abundance in every word. Because of this, I simply could not put this book down. Beautifully penned and poignantly delivered, I was so drawn into this world that coming away from this book and back into real life was like being splashed with cold water on a hot summer's day. This is a novel I'll be reading again and again.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Review: Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley

Paperback2011282 pages
Published July 5th 2011 
by Berkley Sensation 
(first published January 26th 2010)

Series: Shifter Unbound, #1
My Rating:
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Collared and controlled, Shifters are outcast from humanity, forced to live in Shiftertowns. But waiting within are passions that no Collar can contain.

Like most Shifters, Liam Morrissey has learned that trusting humans leads to no good. But when a beautiful attorney enters Shiftertown alone, Liam's alpha nature leaves him no choice but to offer his protection.

Tasked with defending a Shifter accused of murder, attorney Kim Fraser is completely out of her depth in the mysterious world of Shifters. To prove her client's innocence, Kim will need the help of someone on the inside, even though relying on Liam goes against everything society says about Shifters.

And when an un-Collared Shifter threatens both Kim and Liam, the young attorney will have to learn to trust her unlikely protector and face the passion she feels for a man who can't be tamed.

This book came to my attention years ago. But, like so many books, it went on my to be read list, and got overlooked for a while. Actually, it got overlooked for a long time. And every now and then I'd kick myself for not getting to this book because I'd heard so many wonderful things about this series. 

Sadly, book one was a bit of a miss for me. The author has created a world with potential, and I liked the Morrissey men. I am admittedly curious to see if Sean finds his mate, and whether Dylan ends up with Glory, to see Conner grow up. The characterization is well done for the most part...but it did fall a little flat when it came to Kim, the heroine. 

I just didn't really connect with her. She seemed a bit two dimensional to me, and I didn't see why she was doing everything sort of against her better judgement. Was it because she was beginning to emphathize with the Shifters? Was it because she was bonded to Liam? I just didn't get what made Kim tick, and that made a lot of this book fall flat for me. A lot of the scenes lacked the emotional intensity that can make or break a book for me. It was easier to connect with Liam, he was more charming, more alive somehow for me, but he also didn't seem as well fleshed out as he should have been in some ways.

The writing is clean, and the plot does a decent job of introducing Shifter society. But some key events seemed glossed over towards the end--considering Brian's case brought Liam and Kim together, I was expecting that the case would be more of the focal of this book, and it's not, which struck me as odd. However, the story was engaging enough to see me through to the end, and some of the supporting characters, as well as Liam's new position in the Shifter hierarchy, showed promise. Despite my disappointment with this first novel, I would consider reading book two in the series, and fully intend to give Jennifer Ashley's historical romances a try.

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