Friday, August 31, 2007

The Wedding Night

Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Published: October 1991 (Harlequin)
Category: Romance
Rating: 5/10

I have a hard time reading romances written over a decade ago. The exception to this rule (so far) is Nora Roberts. Most of her older books I read are her J.D. Robb titles, but I wonder if their being set in the future has something to do with it. Anyways, I read the blurb for The Wedding Night and I thought, "This could be amusing!" and ordered a used copy. I'm really glad I got this used because if I had to pay $6.99 for this (it's since been reissued), I would've been really ticked.
Hotel magnate Owen Sutherland was the last man Angie Townsend expected to marry. After all, his family had been feuding with hers for years. But in three short months, Owen convinced her to be his wife. Angie loved him... or so she thought.

On her wedding night it became clear that Owen's motives were questionable. The ardent bridgroom was eager to consummate their union - but even more eager to consummate a merger between the battling Sutherland and Townsend hotel empires.

Feeling used and betrayed, Angie declared war. The conjugal bed was off-limits until Owen proved he married her for all the right reasons!
First off, the book felt really dated. Maybe I'm just being overly sensitive about it (I hardly watch any movies from the 80s), but a silver and white bridal suite just makes me think of an Elvis jumpsuit.

Owen takes Angie to his family home, where his stepmother lives and conveniently, his sister and her husband, and his aunt and her husband, are visiting. They hate Townsends with a blind obsessive passion. The animosity between all the Sutherland family and Angie was irrational to the point of being overly irrational. And then Angie magically manages to diffuse a lot of the anger from the sister and stepmother, which seemed too easy considering the depth of their supposed hatred. Posers.

Another annoying thing: After Angie gives in early to Owen in the marriage bed, she decides to stop saying "I love you" to him as a power move. He realizes this and decides to hold his ground and not give her what she wants to hear, just because she was nudging him to say the words. He doesn't even really love her until the last few pages. Up until then, I really believed that Owen just wanted to possess Angie for himself, motivated by testosterone rather than feelings of love.

Eh, disappointed, but not surprised. Krentz's work is fantastic now.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tempting Juliana

Author: Lauren Royal
Published: November 7, 2006 (Signet)
Category: Historical Romance
Series: Sweet Temptations Trilogy #2
Rating: 5/10

After reading Lost in Temptation, I went on a Lauren Royal binge, buying up copies of her first two trilogies. It appears that in each of her trilogies, there must be a dud (Emerald and Rose), and I think Tempting Juliana was the dud for the Sweet Temptations Trilogy in the same vein of Rose from the Flower Trilogy.

It's a good thing Juliana chase takes such pleasure in playing matchmaker, because there's nothing she wants more than to see her loved ones happy. Her latest pairing involves Dr. James Trevor, Earl of Stafford, and her friend Amanda. So why does the handsome physician insist on ignoring Juliana's good intentions and shaking up her sensible plans?

Since James lost his wife, he has buried himself in his work— until Juliana starts meddling with his heart. Instantly smitten with the determined beauty, he must now find a way to outwit Juliana at her own game— and convince her that the right match for her is under her very nose.

This was another one of those books that made me want to shake the stupid out of the heroine. Juliana is so cocky that she thinks she can arrange everyone around her (I guess she's very Emma), and she's blind to the fact that she's matching up a man who has only eyes for Juliana to her friend Amanda. And like Rose, she hyperfocuses on a duke who's courting her just because her brother Griffin made a prized racehorse part of her dowry, and says that James isn't good enough for her. For someone who's supposedly so good at matchmaking, Juliana is rather dismal at making a good match for herself. The duke is a bad match for her, but she keeps rationalizing that he's just reserved, not a stuffy prig, as James called him. She's also rather poorly informed; she had no idea that James is a widower, and doesn't the ton run on gossip? As a matchmaker working on her friend's future, wouldn't she check out his background, and be a bit disturbed by the affect that James has on her heartrate?

Juliana treats the wonder James like an idiot, going on outings with him for the purpose of giving him practice for taking out Amanda. She wants him to learn what drinks to fetch during intermission at the theater, what kind of flowers he should send her, and the gifts he should purchase. James figures that the more time he spends with Juliana, the less time she spends with the duke, so he goes along with her ridiculous plan, and even takes advantage of her grand scheme, stealing kisses all for the sake of practice.

And it feels like the "twist" at the end of the book was tacked on just to supplement the page count. Finally Juliana and James are a couple, and Amanda and the duke are on the road to matrimony, but there's some hooha about Amanda and the duke being half-siblings, and now James is bound to marry Amanda because he stumbled into a "compromise setup" that was meant for the duke (so Amanda could get out of her engagement to a man she didn't care for).

This was hard to read and felt rather sloppily put together. In the acknowledgments, Royal mentions that there was a delay in writing this book, so that probably contributed to the quality. I'm sure the last book will redeem the trilogy if Royal holds to her record.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Morrigan's Cross

Author: Nora Roberts
Published: August 29, 2006
Category: Romance/Fantasy
Series: Circle of Six Trilogy #1
Rating: 5/10

I had really high hopes for this trilogy, because it seemed like a plan that couldn't fail.

Nora Roberts + ragtag team of destiny that includes a reluctant good guy vampire + magic + epic battle against vampires and demons.

What could go wrong? Perhaps it was an issue of trying to pack too much into one book. In lieu of my summary, here's the back cover copy:

In the last days of high summer, with lightning striking blue in a black sky, the sorcerer stood on a high cliff overlooking the raging sea…

Belting out his grief into the storm, Hoyt Mac Cionaoith rails against the evil that has torn his twin brother from their family’s embrace. Her name is Lilith. Existing for thousands of years, she has lured countless men to an immortal doom with her soul-stealing kiss. But now, this woman known as vampire will stop at nothing until she rules this world—and those beyond it…

Hoyt is no match for the dark siren. But his powers come from the goddess Morrigan, and it is through her that he will get his chance at vengeance. At Morrigan’s charge, he must gather five others to form a ring of power strong enough to overcome Lilith. A circle of six: himself, the witch, the warrior, the scholar, the one of many forms, and the one he’s lost. And it is in this circle, hundreds of years in the future, where Hoyt will learn how strong his spirit—and his heart—have become…

Morrigan's Cross sort of focuses on Hoyt and Glenna, the witch who comes from nearly a thousand years in future from Hoyt's time. I say "sort of focuses" because they are the romance for the book, but they don't get a lot of screentime. The background characters are too active for the couple to be really prominent. I understand why the background characters aren't as supplementary they should be; there's a lot of detail and information to present. Roberts is setting up for an epic battle and gathering different fantasy novel elements: magic, sword fighting, vampires, demons, time travel, dimensional travel, a goddess, etc.

The romance of Hoyt and Glenna was also lacking. All of a sudden they're in love when there was very little dialogue or flirtation between them. I didn't have a problem with them getting married though. It's that whole wartime marriage thing, and it was important to the group to have some lightness and goodness in the midst of training and daunting task ahead of them. Hoyt was also pretty boring for a hero; Glenna was the more likeable of the couple. Maybe I'll chalk it up to Hoyt's original time period.

The book was good for exposition and character introduction, but not great as a romance. I'm hoping that the next book, Dance of the Gods, is better, and reviews on Amazon seem to support that.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Deep Fathom

Author: James Rollins
Published: July 2001 (HarperCollins)
Category: Thriller
Rating: 7/10

I read this on a recommendation from a comment left after I reviewed Rollins' Map of Bones. I liked Deep Fathom more than MOB because it was less confusing and the science was more believable. The only confusing part was once incidence of time travel, where certain parts stayed the same and the rest of the world jumped backward in time depending on the proximity to ground zero.

On The Day Everything Changed Forever...

The millennium's first eclipse of the sun cast a shroud over the Earth. And then catastrophe struck...

On The Day The End Began...

Solar flares have triggered a series of gargantuan natural disasters. Earthquakes and hellfire rock the globe. The death toll rises at an unimaginable rate. And in the midst of chaos, Air Force One and America's president have vanished from the skies.

The Sea Revealed A Mystery

Ex-Navy Seal Jack Kirkland surfaces from an aborted underwater salvage mission to find the Earth burning -- and the U.S. on the narrow brink of a nuclear apocalypse. Now, aboard his oceangoing exploration ship, Deep Fathom, Kirkland is on a desperate mission that is leading him to an earth-shattering discovery miles below the ocean's surface. For devastating secrets and a power an ancient civilization could not contain have been cast out into a modern day -- and they will forever alter a world racing toward its own destruction.

I don't have much to say, since this is another of my "doing the review two weeks after finishing the book" posts. I enjoyed it, and it's definitely a more manly book. The action is well paced, unlike Map of Bones, where it felt like action took the place of actual plot development. I really enjoyed the imagined lost continent under the Pacific Ocean, and the idea of a second set of Poles (one in the center of the Bermuda Triangle and the other in its Pacific counterpart).

The crappiest part of the book? The Aryan secret commando promoting the agenda of the evil vice president who's taking advantage of the natural disaster to start a war with China. He was insane and had this tunnel vision for killing Jack because of events that occurred a dozen years ago (Jack was selected for a trip to space over him). Whenever he was the focus, I kept saying, "Come on and die already!" Not a very good villain.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bet Me

Author: Jennifer Crusie
Published: August 24, 2004 (St. Martin's)
Category: Romance
Rating: 8/10

This was my second Crusie, thanks to Jennie, who sent me a copy for my birthday. Thanks Jennie! I started it yesterday afternoon and plowed through it in a day. The whole relationship starts off because of a bet made by the heroine's ex: $10,000 to Cal if he gets Min into bed within a month. I rolled my eyes when I got to that part because here goes another romance where the woman will have to question whether the guy is with her for the bet or for her. But I was wrong. It was so much more than that, because Cal never accepted that bet. He just accepted a $10 bet to take Min to dinner while the ex believed that the $10,000 bet was still on the table.

Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes, and keep him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.

But Fate has other plans, and it's not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon, they're dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme donuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all-true love.

I really liked this book, as Crusie writes "real" characters. Our heroine isn't a super skinny woman; she's average sized! And she's dealing with a mother who wants her to lose weight and never eat carbs! Cal, our hero, is a commitmentphobe, but something about Min attracts him, and he doesn't understand why such a prickly woman who isn't a skinny hottie makes him go to such lengths to see her again. He even acts as a delivery boy for her dinner order so he can invite himself to dinner at her place, and inadvertently brings her the perfect genius cat.

Their romance is incredibly sweet, funny, and sassy. Both Min and Cal have problems with their respective families, and when they do the family visits, they stand up for each other. For example, Cal gave Min bread with gasp! butter when her mother told her not to have any carbs, because he doesn't think there's anything wrong with the way Min looks. At Cal's family dinner, Min

The biggest flaws in Bet Me were Cal and Min's exes. They were so stupid for "smart" people with zero common sense that they were almost too fictional. Cal dated a hot psychologist known for her relationship formula that she used to analyze all relationships, as if such things could be analyzed logically! She was set on marrying Cal and only him, because they were perfect for each other and the formula supported her. Even though she believed that, she still had Min's ex try all sorts of things (calling her, buying her crappy gifts, showing up at her house, etc) to get her back.

I was a little confused on why Min's ex wanted her back so badly when he was attracted to the stereotypical hot young skinny thing (and could get them). During the short time they were an item, he pointed out that she needed to lose weight, and once Cal starts dating her, he thinks that he's going to lose the bet and his future wife. He keeps going on about how she's good wife material. It just seemed kind of odd to find that in a contemporary romance. I'm more used to that in a historical, where being a good wife meant you had a nice dowry, had good manners, and could bear sons. And I really don't think he was going to such great lengths (almost stalking her) just so he wouldn't lose the bet. Did he really think saving $10,000 was worth marrying a woman he didn't really want?

Apart from the stupid exes (that's why they're exes!), the book was great fun, and had a really amusing epilogue.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Author: Yasmine Galenorn
Published: June 5, 2007 (Berkley)
Category: Urban Fantasy
Series: Sisters of the Moon #2
Rating: 8/10

Book two of the Sisters of the Moon series is told from the POV of Delilah, the werecat who changes into a long-haired gold tabby rather than something really scary, like a puma. She sometimes can't control her change (besides the full moon change), and besides family stress, temptations such as Christmas ornaments can cause her to change against her will. She's also the middle child of the family, and her sisters think she's most like their mother, with her gentle and optimistic nature.
Someone's been slaughtering the Weres of the Rainier Puma Pride, and my sisters and I have been enlisted to investigate by Zachary Lyonnesse, golden boy of the were pumas. Right away we smelled demon trouble, and we tracked it directly into the snare of the Hunters Moon Clan, sworn enemies of Puma Pride. But there's more than Were rivalry at work. It's that old demon Shadow Wing who's setting a deadly snare for the Pumas. We have to find our why, which means a visit to one of the Immortals. Unfortunately for my sisters and me, our half-human blood is just enough to put us in mortal danger.
Changeling was a great read. Galenorn brings back all the supporting characters from Witchling, which is really nice, and Iris the sprite joins the girls' household, and she's really tough for a little lady! And the monsters in this one are new to me— who would've imagined werespiders for enemies? It's nasty and there's the dilemma of preventing little spider spies from sneaking into your house or car. And every spider is suspect to being a werespider or a servant of werespiders. And the degath squad (scouting party) sent forth by Shadow Wing this time was much more interesting than the one in Witchling, with one member as a newer incarnation of the creator of the Hunters Moon Clan.

This is what I was looking for when I tried reading Laurell K. Hamilton's Meredith Gentry series, only to find a storyline that didn't go anywhere because everyone was too busy sexin'. I enjoyed this book more than Witchling, where the story was good, but I had enough of Camille's sex life. I don't need it burned into my skull that three very hot men want her and are ready to have a testosterone battle royale over her. I get it, I get it. No need to repeat it.

A very cool thing: To solve the problem of werespiderlings invading their home, an elf mage casts a pest repellent spell that will last several months. He said that hundreds of creepy-crawlies left after it was cast, and I thought that I could use one of those spells! After one waterbug incident, every one after that is too many.

I'm very interested to see what happens with Delilah and Chase. I know Galenorn said that her books are not paranormal romances and not to expect HEAs, but Delilah had a taste of mating with a werepuma (Zachary), and realized that she'd fallen for Chase. It's left hanging for another time, so no HEA in this book, as expected; we aren't halfway through the series yet.

So there is a repeat of the formula from Witchling. There's a degath squad from hell stirring up trouble; our heroine has to seek out divine help but must pay a price (higher than the one paid in Witchling too; and she's attracted to more than one man.

Darkling, which is told from Menolly's viewpoint, is scheduled for a January 2008 release. I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vengeance in Death

Author: J.D. Robb
Published: October 1, 1997 (Berkley)
Category: Romantic Suspense
Series: In Death #6
Rating: 10/10

It's official - I'm addicted to Nora Roberts. It took me quite some time to get here, and I've got a lot of catching up to do!

I have not been disappointed yet by Roberts' J.D. Robb books, and I'm sometimes afraid that things will get boring with the same couple in each book, but each book is interesting in its own right, whether it's the mystery or some aspect of Eve's character healing from her traumatic childhood or her relationship with Roarke deepening even more.

He is an expert with the latest technology - a madman with the mind of a genius and the heart of a killer. He quietly stalks his prey. Then he haunts the police with cryptic riddles about the crimes he is about to commit - always solved moments too late to save his victims' lives. Police lieutenant Eve Dallas found the first victim butchered in his own home. The second lost his life in a vacant luxury apartment. The two men had little in common. Both suffered unspeakable torture before their deaths. And both had ties to an ugly secret of ten years past - a secret shared by none other than Eve's new husband, Roarke.

I think this one is my favorite Eve Dallas novel so far. The killer is targeting Roarke through Eve, and all his victims are just in preparation for Roarke's eventual murder.

Vengeance in Death gives us a glimpse into Roarke's murky past, and for the first time, Eve's life is threatened because of Roarke. However, she would shield Roarke with her life, and he gets angry about that. They each love each other so much that they can't imagine what life would be without the other, so they'd rather save them than themselves. Awww. They have a marital spat about it, one of those that winds up with them sleeping in separate beds, something that never happens when Roarke isn't away on business.

The mystery in this book is so interesting and suspenseful. The murderer believes he's an avenging angel of God, and his religiousness is so obnoxious that I was rooting for Roarke to get his hands on the wacko. The constant friction between Eve and Summerset was always slightly annoying, and turns out he's the prime suspect for the murders. There were lots of personal feelings floating around the interrogation room from Eve's dislike of Summerset and Summerset's dislike of cops and Eve as a person.

So excellent story and excellent character-relationship development. I loved it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Stories to Make You Blush

Author: Marie Gray
Published: April 2007 (Sourcebooks)
Category: Erotica
Rating: 8/10

Marie Gray has written a collection of erotic short stories, and you'd think that an erotic short story would just be something like "Meet Dick and Jane. They do it. The end." But in her stories, Gray has managed to create relatable characters and satisfy several different fantasies, without being dirty or demeaning.

I don't make a habit of reading erotica, but some of the romance novels that I've read have leaned towards the erotic, and I think this book had more believable chemistry than some of those novels. The back cover copy says Stories to Make You Blush presents "a tender and mischievous look at the erotic lives of the people around us." I definitely felt like a voyeur when I was reading the stories, which give the reader a taste of exhibitionism, multiple partners, rough sex with strangers, and role playing, to name a few.

Some of those topics might scare you off, but Gray writes the stories in such a way that the fantasies occur in safe environments, and no one gets hurt. If only that were so true in real life! My favorite story was "Michael's Birthday," where a guy waits for his girlfriend at a hotel bar, supposedly so they can celebrate his birthday. A strange, but gorgeous redhead begins hitting on him, and he keeps refusing her, until she breaks cover, and he realizes it's actually his girlfriend giving him a wild night with a "stranger" for a birthday gift. Very steamy, but sweet at the same time.

If you're curious about erotica, this is a good one to start with; there's at least one story that you'll enjoy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Night Game

Author: Christine Feehan
Published: November 1, 2005 (Jove)
Category: Paranormal Romance
Rating: 7/10

I've never read Christine Feehan before, and she seems to be really popular in the paranormal romance category, so I figured I'd give her a shot. While reading the back cover copy, I snorted to myself because it says the hero's name is Gator. I wasn't so sure that I could deal with a romance novel with a hero by that name (sorry to guys out there named Gator), but that's just his nickname. He's actually got the sexy name of Raoul.

Gator Fontenot of the Special Forces paranormal squad can't refuse an urgent request to save the elusive Iris "Flame" Johnson, a victim of the same horrific experiments that warped Gator. Now unleashed, she's a red-haired weapon of unimaginable destructive powers, a walking time bomb bent on revenge in the sultry bayous of New Orleans and hunted by a shadowy assassin. It's Gator's job to reel Flame in. But can two people haunted by violent betrayals trust the passion that soon ignites between them? Or is one of them just playing another seductive and deadly night game?

Apparently, this is a series about genetic experiments done to enhance psychic and physical abilities. A scientist experimented on several volunteers from various divisions of the armed forces and for female subjects, he purchased orphans from European orphanages. The men have since learned of the scientist's wicked ways and have formed a fighting unit called the Ghostwalkers. The men have different special abilities, like Raoul has the ability to use sound as a weapon (i.e. producing the brown note to make people have.... upset tummies, I'll call it to be delicate), ranging from stunning/confusing his enemies, to actual widespread death.

I was confused sometimes during the beginning of the book because there were references to things and characters (I assume) from previous books in the series. Despite the confusion, I enjoyed the book. Feehan wrote some really good sexual tension between Raoul and Flame. And thankfully, Flame didn't call Raoul by his nickname; if she did, the sex scenes would've been giggle inducing for sure.

I wanted Flame and Raoul to get over their suspicion of the strong attraction between them. True, they were right to wonder if they were the subjects of a long-planned scientific experiment, thinking they were designed to be each other's mates, but the tension was getting boring. Raoul's grandmother decided to move things along by replacing Flame's clothing with sexy numbers and racy lingerie (I loved Raoul's grandma).

I will add Feehan to my list of authors to read. The action and relationships with supporting characters were well-written. Very entertaining and hard to put down, which is rare for me to say in a book where they keep using italics to say stuff like "cherie," and that happens a lot as Raoul talks like Gambit of the X-Men.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ghost Hunter

Author: Jayne Castle
Published: May 30, 2006 (Jove)
Category: Paranormal Romance
Series: Harmony
Rating: 8/10

I was right! Jayne Castle's Harmony series gets better and better with each book she writes! I loved After Glow, but was so disappointed in After Dark, the book preceding that one. I'd been hoping that since the first two books I read involved Emmett and Lydia, this third would be about them too (kind of hoping for another series couple like Nora Roberts' Eve and Roarke), but Castle introduces Cooper and Elly instead.
Local Guild boss and powerful ghost hunter Cooper Boone is everything botanist Elly St. Clair could ask for—the handsome, strong and silent type. Maybe too silent. For when Guild secrets threaten her career at the college, Elly has to call off their marriage—and leave small-town life behind...

But starting over in the thriving metropolis of Cadence City isn’t easy, especially when one of Elly’s new friends disappears in the eerie catacombs beneath the streets. Cooper turns up just in time to help Elly investigate. And as the mystery deepens and dangerous ghost myths and legends come to light, Cooper makes it clear he intends to stick around—and this time he’s holding nothing back…

There's a bonus to Ghost Hunter as well. We get to see Emmett and Lydia again (of After Dark and After Glow), enjoying wedded bliss, although Emmett has become domesticated and prefers BBQing over going out on the town with Lydia. And we have more dust bunnies! Fuzz now has a girlfriend and Elly has Rose, a dust bunny with a sense of style, as she borrows all of Elly's bracelets to wear as necklaces. Dust bunnies are awesome and I can't get enough of them.

This turns out to be one of those romances where the conflict derives from a lack of communication between hero and heroine. Elly thinks Cooper didn't care about her as much as running the Guild. Cooper didn't want to scare her off with his stereotypical alpha-male ghost hunter personality. It's very much like Emmett and Lydia, how he didn't want her to think he was just another macho jock ghost hunter. I enjoyed Cooper's carefully planned attempt to bring Elly back to Aurora Springs, and his surprise to find that Elly had broken out of her shell in the big city without her parents and keeping up appearances for the Guild pressuring her.

Negatives? The cover, for one! Yet another book I have to press into my bag or hold parallel to the ground so I don't get sneered at on the subway. Ugh, he's shirtless and wearing a leather vest. I know that ghost hunters have a tendency to wear leather and khakis, but I don't recall them not wearing shirts.

Regardless of leather vest on front cover, the book was great and I can't wait for Silver Master, the next book in the series, which comes out in just a few days!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Me and Mr. Darcy

Author: Alexandra Potter
Published: June 12, 2007 (Random House)
Category: Fiction
Rating: 8/10
Quote of Choice: Just imagine being in a world where men didn't steal your cab, cheat on you, or have an addiction to Internet porn, but were chivalrous, devoted, and honorable. And strode across fields in breeches and white shirts clinging to their chests.

This past weekend, my boyfriend asked me to take a walk with him to Barnes & Noble so he could buy some fantasy football magazines so he could prepare for his fantasy football league's draft. I'm already a football widow and fantasy football just makes it worse because he has to watch every game that has his fantasy players. I was about to protest going all that way on a Sunday evening for football magazines when he said, "If you go, I'll buy you a book." And when I got to B&N, I didn't even go downstairs to the romance section as usual. This book jumped at me from the "New in Paperback" section. Of course I dream of having a man like Mr. Darcy, instead of that guy reading an article about our alma mater's football team, and preparing to not speak to me for every weekend (and Monday night) from now until February.

Emily Albright, manager of an independent bookstore in Soho (Ha! Like that's possible today!), has gone on one too many bad dates and has sworn off men. She declines on a girls' trip to Cancun and chooses to go to England for a Jane Austen bus tour instead, winding up as the only young woman in the group. At least there's the prospect for a vacation romance with "Spike" Hargreaves, the handsome journalist going along on the tour, doing research for an article on why women think Mr. Darcy is their dream date. Unfortunately, they get off on the wrong foot with his prejudice of her being American and calling her "average looking." Sound familiar? And just when they start getting along, Ernie, the busdriver, tells her a story about how Spike broke his nose because he wasn't good enough to date Spike's mother.

While Emily is experiencing her own version of Pride and Prejudice, which she is rather ignorant of (surprisingly, as she's a huge fan of P&P), she meets the Mr. Darcy. A hot, well-mannered, well-spoken (with sexy accent) gentleman who happens to go striding about in a damp shirt and breeches. They go on a series of "dates," where Emily realizes that her fantasy Mr. Darcy is better than the real thing. Perhaps having an arrogant, serious, and brooding man for a boyfriend isn't as wonderful as imagined; perhaps a boyfriend who loves you when he's seen you at your worst (passed out from a bump on the head that may or may not be the result of being drunk and stoned) and doesn't mind not-perfect table manners would be preferable to a starched and stuffy fantasy.

So the rehashing of Pride and Prejudice for the telling of a modern story isn't new (see Bridget Jones), but I found this less-slapstick, more serious version rather gripping in that "I read during my lunch hour for an hour and a half" way. Emily's story had its funny moments, like packing more books than clothes, and how a moonlight horseback ride with Mr. Darcy is impractical when you're wearing a ballgown without a proper bra. And at the same time, it was serious, with the truth behind Ernie's story and Spike's grand gesture (like Mr. Darcy's finding Lydia and Wickham and paying for the wedding, etc.) to Emily, helping the woman she befriended on the tour.

Now hold off, Darcy fans! I'm also a lover of Mr. Darcy and confess to rewinding my DVD to watch Matthew MacFayden stride across that field in a cravatless white shirt that gives the viewer a glimpse of his manly chest. You say that Darcy isn't such an arrogant jerk, but Emily encounters him when he's at his most arrogant in terms of the P&P storyline, right after he's convinced Bingley to leave Netherfield, and before he sees Lizzie again at Rosings Park. Perhaps the urgency in Darcy's pursuit of Lizzie is a result of Darcy's dates with an outspoken and ill-mannered American woman.

So yes, it's nice to enjoy the fantasy of this perfect romantic hero in Mr. Darcy, but Me and Mr. Darcy reminds us that fantasy is fantasy and sometimes you have to make do with someone real, and oftentimes, that someone real is better than you could've imagined. In short, this was a lovely application of P&P to a modern story and I had a lovely time.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Author: Yasmine Galenorn
Published: October 3, 2006 (Berkley)
Category: Urban Fantasy
Series: Sisters of the Moon #1
Rating: 7/10

The cover says that this is paranormal fantasy, but it really isn't, and Yasmine Galenorn has said so on her website. The series is actually urban fantasy and now that I view it as such, I like the book more, and got over some of the relationship issues that were bothering me. When I believed it to be paranormal romance, I was saying to myself, "This isn't much of a romance." I almost stopped reading it as well because I really don't need to read about another heroine who cares more about her shoes than the demons that might be attacking her, but it really picked up and I couldn't put it down!
We’re the D’Artigo sisters: Half-human, half-Faerie, we’re savvy—and sexy—operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. But our mixed-blood heritage short-circuits our talents at all the wrong times. My sister Delilah shapeshifts into a tabby cat whenever she’s stressed. Menolly’s a vampire who’s still trying to get the hang of being undead. And me? I’m Camille—a wicked-good witch. Except my magic’s as unpredictable as the weather, as my enemies are about to find out the hard way...

At the Wayfarer Inn, a portal to Otherworld and the local hangout for humans and beasties alike, a fellow operative, Jocko, has been murdered. Every clue points to Shadow Wing, the soul-munching, badass leader of the Subterranean Realms. He’s made it clear that he aims to raze humankind to the ground, turning both Earth and Otherworld into his private playground. Our assignment: Keep Shadow Wing and his minions from creeping into Earth via the Wayfarer. The demons figure they’re in like Flynn. After all, with only my bumbling sisters and me standing in the way, how can they miss? But we’ve got a secret for them: Faulty wiring or not, nobody kicks ass like the D’Artigo girls...
The good: The action sequences are well written, without being graphically violent or overly complex to the point where you don't know who's killing what and how they're accomplishing that feat. Galenorn brings in all sorts of creatures, one of which is a white dragon with a dry sense of humor, and I think we'll get to see him again in one of the future novels. Future novels? Yes, this is going to be a series, with at least six books planned out, two per sister. I was thinking there'd be nine because the sisters are tracking down nine magical seals that will prevent Hell from busting loose on Earth and Otherworld.

The bad: It may not be bad yet, but Camille's involved with two men at the same time. She's sleeping with her ex-boyfriend Trillian, a Svartan (one of the dark Fae and sex with them is almost addictive) and Morio, the fox demon assigned to help them by one of the Fates. As this isn't a romance and it's not the last time we'll read a Camille-centric book, she hasn't decided what to do about her two men. I'm just hoping Galenorn doesn't pull a Laurell K. Hamilton and make Camille into the next Meredith Gentry, sleeping with anything that has a penis (and I'm not sure it's limited to that).

The second book, Changeling, is already out, so that's on my "to buy" list.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ceremony in Death

Author: J.D. Robb
Published: May 1, 1997 (Berkley)
Category: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 9/10

I don't really have much to say about Nora Roberts' J.D. Robb books because I enjoy all of them, and there are so many to read! The best thing about her series and trilogies is the epilogue that is supplied by the following book. I often feel gypped when I get to the last page of her standalone novels and say, "That's it? No epilogue?"

I read this one two weeks ago, so I'll rely on the blurb.

Conducting a top secret investigation into the death of a fellow police officer has Lieutenant Eve Dallas treading on dangerous ground. She must put professional ethics before personal loyalties. But when a dead body is placed outside her home, Eve takes the warning personally. With her husband, Roarke, watching her every move, Eve is drawn into the most dangerous case of her career. Every step she takes makes her question her own beliefs of right and wrong - and brings her closer to a confrontation with humanity's most seductive form of evil...

I find it funny that they say that this is Eve's most dangerous case, when each book seems to follow her most dangerous case. In Ceremony in Death, I found Eve to be the most human and vulnerable I've ever seen. She's trying to clear a recently deceased cop of some accusations, and Feeney, her mentor, is close to the family. When he finds out what Eve has been doing, he's furious and accuses her of being cold, and it breaks her. The wonderful Roarke knows exactly what has made Eve upset and steps in (discreetly of course) and gives Feeney the necessary kick in the pants. Sigh. I love Roarke.

I really enjoyed this, but the crime-solving part wasn't my favorite of the series.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Other Boleyn Girl

Author: Philippa Gregory
Published: June 2002 (Simon & Schuster)
Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 8/10

After reading The Other Boleyn Girl, I can see why Gregory has amassed so many fans. It was a historical fiction soap opera, full of horrible things that you can't believe a person would do out of ambition, greed, and desperation. In short, it was a train wreck that I couldn't stop rubbernecking at.

Everybody knows about Anne Boleyn, the first of Henry VIII's wives to be beheaded. The Other Boleyn Girl is narrated by her sister, Mary, mistress and supposed mother to two of the king's bastards. In the novel, Mary actually did give birth to two royal bastards, one a valued boy, but while pregnant with the boy, her family pushed Anne to take her place in the king's bed so at least his attentions wouldn't stray from a Boleyn girl.

I read The Boleyn Inheritance before this one, so I had a different view of Jane Boleyn, wife to Anne and Mary's brother George. I can see why readers would be prone to disliking Jane because she gave the incriminating testimony that convicted Anne and George of incest. The Boleyn siblings were predisposed to dislike Jane anyway, and due to their snobbiness and "exclusive club members only" attitude, they were partially to blame for her disloyalty to them. From the way Gregory wrote the story, the reader is led to believe that Anne and George did have a sexual relationship and produced a monster of an unborn child. That part of the book was disgusting, yet riveting.

Wheter it was Anne, Mary, or Jane, they were women and pawns to the men in their lives. They thought they were taking some control of their lives, but they really didn't have any at all. Anne was the worst of the three. She thought she could become queen without the assistance of her father or uncle, and they turned their backs on her. She pushed Henry to divorce Katherine, and make her his wife, setting a precedent to all the court families with attractive daughters: The king is fair game because he can make another mistress his queen even easier than before, now that the church is under his control.

This was a well-written book, absolutely engrossing, and full of historical details. However, I found that I didn't admire any of the characters.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Author: Lauren Royal
Published: October 2003 (Signet)
Category: Historical Romance (Restoration)
Series: Flower Trilogy (#3)
Rating: 6/10

Sorry, this will be a quick one because I'm behind on my reviews! Rose is the conclusion to Royal's Flower trilogy and follows Rose in her pursuit of a wealthy, handsome, not-old, titled husband. Of all the Ashcroft sisters, Rose was most focused on catching a husband, and didn't mind hiding her intelligence to become more appealing to her target audience. So it really must have bugged her that her two sisters married before her and to handsome titled gentlemen.
The last of the lovely Ashcroft sisters to find a husband, Rose is fast approaching spinsterhood at the age of twenty-one. But the intelligent beauty is determined to make her way down the aisle—with no less than a nobleman—even if it means hiding her brains, her hopes, and her dreams.

There is someone, however, to whom Rose can reveal everything. He is Christopher Kit Martyn, a handsome and determined man set on landing the post of official Royal Architect. Kit is no stranger to female attention, and though a commoner, he does not hesitate to pursue the out-of-reach Rose despite her inability to see him as a husband. Somehow he must convince her that a title is worth little in the presence of a noble and passionate heart.…
At times, I didn't think Rose deserved Kit, with his unconditional love. Despite her kissing every eligible man in court (trying to figure out why Kit's kiss was so exceptional) and telling him she was aiming for a duke, he never gave up on her even though his career was hanging on the edge, with someone sabotaging him in his efforts to become Deputy Surveyor (sort of like a big shot architect).

Rose was also supposed to be very smart, and yet she was so completely stupid about Kit. True, love is blind, but I think it went a little far. She has all these passionate interludes with Kit and she still denies any feelings for him because he's just a commoner. Ugh. Every time she thought, "He's just a commoner," I was disgusted. She's kissed Kit and admits that it's wonderful, but she continues pursuing a duke whose kisses don't do anything for her.

And Rose wasn't the only female I wanted to smack upside the head. Kit's sister Ellen wanted to marry a pawn shop owner, much to Kit's dismay, but eventually got her way, under the condition that her husband didn't get her dowry. It was all just a test to make sure that the man wasn't after Ellen for the money, and Kit intended to give it to them a little while after the wedding, but Ellen became a complete bitch afterward, refusing to speak to Kit. The man raised her and busted his butt to earn a living, constantly save for a respectable dowry, and she forgets everything he's done now that she's married. I didn't think she should get the money; why did she feel so entitled to it? Did she do anything to earn it? No! The least she could've been was a bit more polite. So Rose steps in and uses her own dowry to pay off Ellen so she'll attend Rose and Kit's wedding, and Kit, unaware of that earlier transaction, goes to Ellen with her money so they can mend the rift. And Ellen, under the impression that her brother's given her the money, is all open arms. I highly doubt that character's goodness at that change of heart, no matter what she says, blaming it on her pregnancy hormones.

Sorry, annoyance outweighed the enjoyment for this one!