2013 reading goal:
15 new-to-me authors.
1) Stacy Gail
2) Heather Massey
3) Sidney Bristol
4) Ann Mayburn
5) Thea Harrison
6) Virna DePaul
7) Mary Quast
- ► 2013 (184)
- Review: Public Display of Affection by Emily Cale
- Review: Never Gonna Let You Go by Jessica Subject
- Review: Vengeance Moon by Lee Roland
- Review: Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep
- Review: Accidentally Beautiful by Deanna Wadsworth...
- Sunday Snippet #105
- Review: The Janus Affair by Pip Ballantine & Tee M...
- Guest Review: Larkspur Road by Jill Gregory
- Review: Blue Fall by BB Griffith
- Review: Lies & Omens by Lyn Benedict
- Galley Giveaway Contest from Shiloh Walker
- Review: Warrior Enchanted by Addison Fox
- Review: Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh
- Romance at Random Diamond Jubilee Celebration and ...
- ARC Review: Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione
- Review: In the Company of Witches by Joey W. Hill
- Review: Heart of Brass by Kate Cross
- Review: The Shifter by Jean Johnson
- Quickie Review: Return to the Sea by Rebecca Royce...
- Sunday Snippet #104
- Contest Winners - May Book Giveaway
- Review: Silence by Michelle Sagara
- Review: Kiss of the Goblin Prince by Shona Husk
- Review: The Impossible Cube by Steven Harper
- Review: Embrace of the Damned by Anya Bast
- May Book Giveaway
- AAD Author Spotlight: Jessica Jarman
- Author Guest Post: Dara Young
- Sunday Snippet #103
- Review: Sounds of the Heart
- Author Guest Post & Giveaway: Genevieve Graham
- Review: Under Fire
- Review: Sins of the Son
- Review: Succubi Are Forever
- News from Sourcebooks
- ▼ May 2012 (35)
- ► 2011 (368)
Books I've Read
Authors I Enjoy
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Thursday, May 31, 2012
Author: Emily Cale
Release Date: Jan. 18, 2012
1 Night Stand Series
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Lesbian, Novella
Book Source: Publisher
About the book:
After a heartbreaking end to her relationship with her girlfriend, Lucy Stark is looking to try something more adventurous. She turns to Madame Eve’s 1Night Stand service to help her find the perfect woman to push her boundaries and introduce her to the more daring side of a sexual encounter.
Samantha Taylor’s helped more than one woman explore her sexuality, but Lucy’s the first to really get to her. Keeping her walls up and the women she dates from getting inside is a skill she’s managed to master. After one night of unbridled passion, she has to decide whether to give up her hard exterior or let the woman of her dreams slip away.
What I’m talking about:
Once again I find myself drawn to Decadent Publishing’s 1 Night Stand Series. In this go around, we meet Lucy, a woman feeling a bit down on her luck and waiting for the other shoe to drop. She was dumped by her girlfriend for another and lost her job. Deciding to try and do something about it, Lucy hires Madame Eve’s service to help her find a woman who will break her out of her vanilla world. And as always, Madame Eve delivers more than Lucy expected.
I was immediately drawn into the story from the beginning. Ms. Cale is able to capture Lucy’s raw emotions on page so that I too was nervous and second guessing Lucy’s decision to utilize the services Madame Eve offered. Although Lucy tells herself that she wants to move beyond her vanilla nature, I think she really wants to break free of her ex, Kristen.
After a short while, Sam shows up at Lucy’s hotel room and takes charge right away. She orders Lucy to put on a butterfly vibrator under her clothing and then takes her out for dessert at the hotel restaurant. What happens next is delicious! Using a remote control, Sam stimulates Lucy off and on while engaging in polite dinner conversation. I enjoyed equal parts of Sam’s excitement to control the situation and Lucy's mixed emotions over wanting to orgasm and fear of doing so in public. The well comprised scene was extremely enjoyable for all!
Although I felt the first part of the story was well written and exciting, the coherency of characters seemed to fall away after the first two chapters. At once point later, Lucy demands the remote for the vibrator, and she pushes Sam. For me, the burst of confidence and aggression felt too sudden. Behavior isn’t modified overnight. In addition, the Dominatrix-lite, Sam, suddenly is willing to step out of character and play submissive. Again, I felt these changes should take time to develop.
Overall, Public Display of Affection is an enjoyable story, but I feel it suffered in its short length. I became engrossed and hoped for more. The personality roll-reversal of the last chapter may have worked with more character development, but in the novella length it felt too drastic. With that said, the story has some tender and smexy moments which make it worth the read!
Liked it - recommend (B+)
Author: Jessica Subject
Release Date: Jan 28, 2012
The Underground #1
Genre: Sci-fi Romance, m/f & f/f, Novella
Book Source: Publisher
About the book:
Caught in a tangle of lies, Calla Jacobs must sort through the truth to discover where she truly belongs. A biologist for Planet Core, she finds herself ensnared in a web of deceit. Sent to Airondelle, she must work with a team to prepare the newly discovered planet for colonists from Earth. But the mission does not go as she expected. Her former lover, Erik Edwards, shuns her, sending Calla into the arms of Melina Holloway, their commander, for the attention she craves and more. A confrontation among the trio leaves her with a broken heart, and fleeing from the two people she trusted most.
Attempting to break free from the lies that bind her, she discovers Planet Core has deceived everyone. And when she returns to Earth, Calla learns just how far Planet Core’s control reaches.
What I’m talking about:
Calla, Eric and Melina all work for Planet Core, a powerful firm that is investigating another planet as a possible place for human habitation. On this remote planet, sex is strictly forbidden between co-workers with the exception of married partners, but that doesn’t stop our trio! Calla is miserable because she is still in love with team member Erik, the man who left her to suddenly and very briefly marry their supervisor, Melina.
Okay, I have to put this out there... I felt like this story opened like a soft porn flick. Girl lusts after ex. Ex is an ass. Girl's female supervisor (and also ex of same guy) pulls her aside. Girl thinks she is in trouble, but instead of punishment supervisor shows a soft side and desires flare. I wanted to cue the "bow-chicka-wa-wa" music. However, the story moves past the “porn” stage pretty quickly.
When Melina shows compassion and interest in Calla, Calla becomes confused for she’d never been attracted to a female before. Calla carries this confusion with her as she heads to the field to study native animal life. While Calla's confusion over her attraction is understandable, as is her need to analyze the situation, the constant inner monologue over these matters while she is working paints Calla in an immature light. She's a respected scientist but acting like a teenager. I found this mildly annoying.
Melina uses her supervisory position of power to put Calla in a compromising situation. Calla enjoys it, but it feels cliche. As things progress, Calla continues to question her attraction, stating “But I’m not a lesbian.” This leads into a short discussion about how sex between women doesn’t mean one is a lesbian. The discussion felt like a PSA for the general reading audience.
I continued to struggle with Calla’s reaction to the situation. Although Calla's feelings and uncertainty about being with a woman are natural, I felt at times it gave the book a "dirty" feel. Here is an example of what I mean: "She wanted the experience to be quick, didn't want to get caught with a woman. No one on the mission would respect her if they found out." Statements like these took away from the story and degraded the romance aspect for me.
Now with that all said, the story quickly takes an interesting twist of events. We find out that things are not as they appear. The reader (and Calla) is uncertain who to believe. Conspiracies abound, and suddenly Erik, who was a MAJOR ASS in the first part of the book, is the hero. Of course, if Eric had just been a man and come clean about what happened with Melina there never would have been a problem.
Once the team returns home, we find out more hidden truths, and one really begins to question what the heck is Planet Core up to. This was when I really became engrossed. Unfortunately, it was only a minor part of the story. I wonder if we will get more - another novella or a full-length book?
In then end, I really wanted to like this story a lot, for I'm a sci fi junkie at heart, and this novella held a lot of promise with it’s conspiracy theories and the underground resistance movement. But in the end the book fell flat for me. There were too many open questions and story lines for a novella-length story. Erik going from ass to sweetheart was a little too rapid, and I just didn't feel the justification for his horrendous behavior. Once back on earth, I felt the part of the story with the most promise was rushed. We never find out why Calla and Erik were set up or what the whole underground movement is about. With that said, the premise of the story is interesting enough that I certainly would like to read the next story. I feel there is a lot of potential, and although a lot seemed to bug me about the book, I enjoyed reading it.
Liked it, but I had some issues - recommend (B)
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Author: Lee Roland
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Earth Witches #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): Paperback (352 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
About the book:
Revenge is unleashed under the light of the moon…
“On my seventeenth birthday, my mother’s last gift to me was a vision of death—and a curse…”
Madeline Corso can’t rest until she hunts down the three unknown assailants who killed her father and witch mother. Two of them are now dead by her hand. But the third eludes her while she serves time with the Sisters of Justice—a mysterious order of female warriors with ties to her mother.
The Sisters have tracked the last murderer to Duivel, Missouri, and the dark underworld of the Barrows. But Madeline’s release is contingent on her fulfillment of a mission for the Sisters. Madeline doesn’t question them, but once in the Barrows, she discovers that things aren’t what they seem.
Can she rely on Michael, a handsome and enigmatic local businessman, to help her navigate a world of men and beasts? Or will she lose her heart before the mission is complete?
What G & U are talking about:
Vengeance Moon is the riveting second novel in the new Earth Witches series. Lee Roland has crafted a dark and intriguing world, one that is as gripping in its action and suspense as it is in its passion. You do not have to read the first book in the series, Viper Moon, but it would give you better background on the mythology (not to mention, it was really good, review HERE and a snippet HERE).
In the previous novel, Viper Moon, the huntress, Cassandra, fulfills the purpose the Earth Mother has given her. In Vengeance Moon, we have a new heroine and hero. We were introduced to our hero, Michael, in the preceding novel. He is an unlikely hero, but we hope there is more to him than meets the eye.
Madeline, our heroine, is a very complicated character. A spell cast by her dead mother caused her to witness the final moments of her life and to be consumed to seek vengeance against her mother’s killers. Madeline’s personality has been tainted by the pursuit of her mother’s killers. The overwhelming drive for vengeance overshadows everything in poor Madeline’s life. She has been trained to become a perfect Sister of Justice – women who keep earth witches, who are blessed with great magic, from using it to do harm.
The Sisters of Justice send Madeline to the Barrows to retrieve an object of power that was taken from her mother’s corpse. She must return it to the Sisters and if she is able to kill the final murderer of her parents in the process, so be it. However, her mission turns out to be more complicated and dangerous than anyone suspected. Madeline’s journey to the Barrows allows us to revisit Cassandra and Abby as well as see more of Michael, who was a fascinating and complicate character in Viper Moon. For all of the complexities, hidden plots and such, Vengeance Moon is a nail-biting, edge of your seat read. It is astonishing how much is packed into this novel.
Alas, there is no snippet included for a third novel in this series at the end Vengeance Moon. Gikany and Una were unable to see anything on Ms. Roland’s website regarding a next novel. However, this is a well-written series so far and we eagerly anticipate a third novel in the Earth Witches series. If you haven’t started this series yet, you best hurry and catch up – it’s so worth it!
Loved it - enthusiastically recommend (A)
Reviews of books in the series:
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Author: Jennifer Estep
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Mythos Academy #3
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Author
About the book:
I've seen so many freaky things since I started attending Mythos Academy last fall. I know I'm supposed to be a fearless warrior, but most of the time, I feel like I'm just waiting for the next Bad, Bad Thing to happen. Like someone trying to kill me--again.
Everyone at Mythos Academy knows me as Gwen Frost, the Gypsy girl who uses her psychometry magic to find lost objects--and who just may be dating Logan Quinn, the hottest guy in school. But I'm also the girl the Reapers of Chaos want dead in the worst way. The Reapers are the baddest of the bad, the people who murdered my mom. So why do they have it in for me? It turns out my mom hid a powerful artifact called the Helheim Dagger before she died. Now, the Reapers will do anything to get it back. They think I know where the dagger is hidden, but this is one thing I can't use my magic to find. All I do know is that the Reapers are coming for me--and I'm in for the fight of my life.
What G & U are talking about:
Gikany and Una are happily stunned. We decided to read the previous two Mythos Academy books before reading Dark Frost. We are so glad we did. This is an outstanding series! Una started the first book and read through all three in a couple days... because it was too good to put down! Gikany did it in a day!
We recommend that you start from the beginning of the Mythos Academy series with Touch of Frost. It will help you connect with the characters and there is a build up through the first two books to the climax at the end of Dark Frost. There are two novellas, one is a prequel to Touch of Frost and the other is between Touch of Frost and Kiss of Frost, but they are not necessary to read. Gikany and Una did not feel we missed anything and we didn’t know about the novellas until we started our review.
Ms. Estep has created a stunning world in the Mythos Academy series. We loved the blending of the different mythologies and how seamlessly they are woven into the fabric of this young adult series. We think that this would be a great series for children (like Gikany and Una) who love ancient histories/mythologies. Not that we are experts, but we, too, were fascinated and enthralled by Clash of the Titians (the original) and can completely relate to the creation of this series. It is a fascinating urban fantasy that will entice the older generations who grew up with comics and superheroes.
Another aspect worth noting of the Mythos Academy series is the characters. Our main character, Gwen, is easy to relate to. She is a normal teenager with an exceptional talent. She must make the transition from one world where she felt she belonged to a new one where she feels like a complete outsider. The friends she makes along the way and the experiences of first love are easy to relate to. The varied personalities of the other characters are endearing and add to the complexities of the world and grounding of the novel. This is just a well-rounded series.
We seriously recommend this series and especially Dark Frost to readers ages junior high and older. In our opinion, adults may find the Mythos Academy series as endearing and enthralling, or more so, as the Twilight series or Hunger Games trilogy. This would be an especially great read for parents to share with their kids. We can’t wait for the next book, Crimson Frost, to arrive in December 2012.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Author: Deanna Wadsworth
Release Date: March 5, 2012
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
1 Night Stand Series
Genre: Erotic Romance/GLBT
Book Source: Publisher
About the book:
Martin Baird is perfectly content in his safe, predictable job as head concierge for Castillo Resorts, but when a handsome stranger whisks him away for a night of tropical escapades—first visiting an isolated gay bar then to a secluded beach where erotic delights await—Martin’s world is thrown upside down. He’s never met a man like Garret Fisher, but it seems he has been waiting for a night like this all his life.
Could something truly beautiful come out of this accidental meeting? Or was it really not an accident at all?
What B is talking about:
One of the things that makes the 1 Night Stand Series so good is that, with different authors contributing different stories, there’s truly something for everyone. Some of the stories combine the romance between the key characters with a bigger plot, the new relationships providing an advantage in the ongoing struggle. In Accidentally Beautiful, however, the attraction between Martin and Garret is the crux of the story. Both men are searching for something, and Madam Eve, as usual, knows exactly what they need, even more so than they do themselves.
The Castillo Resort has been the backdrop for some of my favorite 1 Night Stand tales, so I anticipated another good read as soon as I recognized the familiar setting. I was not disappointed. Accidentally Beautiful has an added twist in that one of the men doesn’t even know he’s been set up on a date. It’s a device that’s been used before in the series, but I still think it played out especially sweetly here.
Garret and Martin are an excellent match for one another, Garret’s dominant tendencies attracting Martin’s submissive streak perfectly. Although Martin’s journey in Accidentally Beautiful is more of an epiphany, both men learn more about themselves than they expected to, and surprisingly discover something precious they’ll fight to keep.
Even within a series devoted to erotic explorations, these two are downright hot together. Wadsworth crafts some wonderfully explicit scenes, each rich in detail, yet still manages to keep the language naughtily romantic. Garret may be in charge, but the care he takes with Martin is endearing. Martin is a sweetheart, and the emotions he goes through as he realizes what he truly needs makes him one of my all-time favorite characters in the series.
Once again, the 1 Night Stand series delivers a quick, super-sexy read that should please many m/m fans. Garret and Martin make for a fun, sexy couple, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading their tale. Wadsworth makes good use of the limited timeframe, and gets to the point quickly, while still delivering a solid, enjoyable love story. This one is definitely going in my “keeper” stash!
Enjoyed - strongly recommend (A-)
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Author: Rachel Caine
Released: May 1, 2012
And she saw the wave flood down the steps from the next floor up, thick and murky.
It hit Shane in the back and knocked him off his feet. Then, instead of continuing to fall down the steps as gravity demanded, it just . . . stopped, formed a thick trembling bubble, and consumed him.
He floated in the liquid, as if it had more density than real water. He was thrashing, but he couldn't get leverage.
"No!" Claire screamed, and lifted her shotgun, but there was nothing she could do; firing at it was firing at him, and she couldn't, couldn't.
More fluid rushed down the steps toward her, and she saw his face through the distorted lens of the liquid drowning hi, saw the fear and the rage and the horror, and she saw him say something. maybe it was her name.
Maybe it was just run.
The liquid snaked after her, more like tentacles than a wave now, grabbing and reaching for hr as she flung herself forward and around the corner of the stairwell. Shane wasn't in the way now, and she fired wildly up at the thing. The noise slammed her like a physical blow, and the hammer of the shotgun hit her shoulder with brutal force. She hardly felt it, because the real pain was inside, where she was screaming Shane's name.
I left him. I left him.
The force of the shotgun blast pushed her backward, off balance, and she fell the last few steps. The silver spread hit the draug's shape with awesome force, ripping it apart, but it only flowed up the stairs in retreat. It made a sound, a horrible, shrieking chorus.
She couldn't see Shane.
I left him.
The door opened behind her, and a hand grabbed her shoulder and yanked her backward. She fought it blindly, tried to get the shotgun turned around, but a cool, pale hand grabbed the barrel and held it away and then she realized that it was Myrnin. He looked past her and saw the draug flowing down the steps toward them, and without a word, grabbed her around the waist, lifted her, and ran.
"No!" she screamed, and struggled to get free. She lost the shotgun in the process, but it didn't matter now; the only thing that mattered was she had to make him understand that they had to go back. She kept screaming as the walls flashed by at nightmare speed, and there was a sound around them that drowned out even her own anguished cries, something brutal and triumphant and terrible. There were draug, too. She could see them coming for them, but Myrnin fired his shotgun one-handed to clear the way and never stopped, never faltered. "No, go back!"
Then they were outside, and Michael and Eve were in the truck's driver and passenger seats. Claire saw them in a tear-streaked blur as Myrnin passed them, opened the back door, and flung hr bodily inside. He entered, slammed the door shut, ad shouted, "Go! Now!"
"Where's Shane?" Eve asked. She'd turned, staring and the dawning horror in her eyes was nothing to the blackened fury and terror inside Claire. She grabbed for the door, but Myrnin held her still.
"He's gone," Myrnin said, never taking those dark eyes away from Claire's face. "Shane is gone."
Michale's face was grim and ashen. "We can't just--"
"He's dead," Myrnin said, and it was as cold and cutting a thing as she'd ever heard him say. "He's dead and you will kill us all if you don't get us out, now. Do you want to see what your pretty Eve will look like in their pools as they strip her down to the bones? Because I promise you, Magnus will make you watch."
Michael flinched, and hesittated, and then ...
Then he put the truck in reverse and no matter how Claire tried to scream, fight, stop him, he drove away.
And left Shane behind.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Author: Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Publisher: Harper Voyager
The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Series #2
Format(s): Paperback (432 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher - Edelweiss
About the book:
Certainly no strangers to peculiar occurrences, agents Wellington Books and Eliza Braun are nonetheless stunned to observe a fellow passenger aboard Britain’s latest hyper steam train suddenly vanish in a dazzling bolt of lightning. They soon discover this is not the only such disappearance… with each case going inexplicably unexamined by the Crown.
The fate of England is once again in the hands of an ingenious archivist paired with a beautiful, fearless lady of adventure. And though their foe be fiendishly clever, so then is Mr. Books…and Miss Braun still has a number of useful and unusual devices hidden beneath her petticoats.
What I’m talking about:
The story opens with our wonderful agents, Eliza Braun and Wellington Books, on their way home from Scotland. While on the train, they witness a bizarre incident where a woman is snatched up in a ball of energy and just disappears. This truly is a Peculiar Occurrence, but since Ms. Braun and Mr. Books have been relegated to the Archives (and after making a bit of a mess taking down the House of Usher in the last story, Phoenix Rising), the investigation is left to the bumbling traitor, Bruce Campbell. Of course, since we are talking about Ms. Braun and Mr. Books, and after personal intercession from Eliza’s past, have no fear... they are secretly on the case.
After being blow away by the first book of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, I could not wait to get my hands on The Janus Affair, and once again, I am enamored. The action begins right from the start and doesn’t slow down until we solve the mystery. One does not need to have read the first book in this series to enjoy The Janus Affair, but it is an excellent book and gives marvelous backstory - it is truly worth while.
The first thing I noted and was excited about was the deepening relationship between Eliza and Welly. The two have become comfortable with one another - almost like best friends. But as the books moves forward and we gain perspective from Wellington’s point of view, we realize that he is truly smitten with Eliza. It is sweet and endearing and makes the book that much more enjoyable. Welly is crushing big time on Eliza, but she remains obtuse despite the small signs. A wrench is tossed into the duo’s potential romance when Eliza’s first love, Douglas, comes to visit from their homeland of New Zealand. Not only do a multitude of emotions spring forth in Eliza, but it also serves to remind her that she can never return home to see her family.
Douglas arrives on the scene escorting his mother, Kate Sheppard, who is a suffragist leader from New Zealand. She is in England to garner support for the cause, but instead is fearful for her life as one-by-one the suffragist leaders are being kidnapped in the ball of energy. Kate asks for Eliza to help investigate and stop the abductions. Douglas wants to pick up where he and Eliza left off, and Eliza isn’t certain what to think or do. With their arrival, we discover though suggestions and innuendo that Eliza’s expulsion from her homeland was related to an incident involving Kate.
I did not care for Douglas and felt he was up to something the whole time I read the book. I even wondered if he was directly involved in the abductions (spoiler-free here!). His garish behavior - especially in front of Wellington - along with his constant interfering with Eliza’s work infuriated me, but Eliza handles herself just like she should! Kuddos to the authors for creating a character that I love to hate!
In my note taking, I have flagged so many wonderful passages - most of which are dialogue between Eliza and Wellington. The pair work so well together, despite the circumstances and pressures. Secrets are unraveled and the pair learn to get past it all.
As Eliza and Wellington work behind-the-scenes (with help from the wonderful “Ministry Seven” - a group of vagabond children with many mischievous “skills”), we are interrupted from time-to-time with short “Interludes” which detail a much larger story arc. The nefarious and mysterious Maestro returns to the scene in his continued efforts to bring down the Ministry and its director, Doctor Sound, but what his plans are remains unknown. He has enlisted the help of Peter Lawson, Duke of Sussex, who in turn has an “inside” man in agent Bruce Campbell. Also continuing in her roll as master thief and trouble-maker is the lovely Sophia del Morte. The whole sequence of events gives much to the content of the story without detracting from the plot. I want to know so much more.... what is Doctor Sound up to?
If it seems like there is a lot going on, it’s because there truly is. However, the plot is fairly seamless and the story is so engrossing, that one hardly notices. There were a few times I felt lost, but it never was cause for a re-read.
Overall, The Janus Affair is an excellent story. Although I got a little lost in the words at times, the descriptive settings were exquisite (and for steampunk fans, the contraptions are wonderful!). The madcap schemes and intricate plots are on par with classic whodunit mysteries. The story has amazing humor, non-stop adventure and action, and yes... romance! The addition of the romance sweetened the story without cheapening it. Welly's smitten behavior and the introduction of Douglas added a new dimension to the fabulous series. I am still trying to figure out the overall story arc and look forward to finding out more... hopefully sooner than later.
Enjoyed - strongly recommend (A-)
Reviews in the Series:
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Author: Jill Gregory
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Berkeley Sensation
Lonesome Way #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format(s): Paperback (304 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
About the book:
Fifth grade teacher Mia Quinn expected a tranquil summer in her hometown of Lonesome Way, Montana, sewing for her quilting group’s exhibition fundraiser and caring for her rescued dog, Samson. But all her plans for a relaxing break are thrown out the window when Travis Tanner—the boy who broke her heart in high school—returns to town with his ten year old adopted step-son.
A former FBI agent, the boy Mia once knew is now well over six feet of male muscle—and he still has the power to make Mia lose her train of thought with just a glance. When Travis asks her to tutor his troubled son, Mia quickly discovers that the sparks between them are hotter than ever. As danger comes to Lonesome Way and family secrets come to light, will Travis and Mia realize that love can be even better the second time around?
What Ang’s talking about:
I had some concerns going into this novel, the first being that it was part of a series. Despite having read the first book in the series, Sage Creek, I was worried that I would be distracted or worse yet, frustrated trying to remember enough details from the last book to make sense of this one. Fortunately, neither proved to be an issue. Although both novels are connected by place and characters, Gregory does a wonderful job of giving us just enough back ground that if you have not read Sage Creek, you won’t be lost. In fact, if I hadn’t known and already read the first novel, I still would have enjoyed this one and in my opinion, so will any other reader.
Larkspur Road is a delightful distraction and perfect read as we come into summer. It is a fantastic fit for your beach or pool bag with just enough meat that you will want to continue to the end. When I first sat down and opened the book, I was concerned there wouldn’t be enough story to carry it the full length of the book. I mean how much can happen when we are told at the outset about the history between Mia and Travis and the level of pinning both have been doing for the other? On some level we know they will have to get together, no one pines for their high school sweetheart for that many years in a romance novel and doesn’t get together in the end. The mechanism to allow them to get together comes far too easily in Travis’s ten year old son, Grady, needs a tutor, so again how much story can there be? But Gregory surprised me again here by making Travis and Mia’s love story the back drop for a variety of other things going on in Lonesome Way, Montana. By taking the focus off the love story she weaves us two stories: one of forgiveness and redemption in the story of great Aunt Winny and her sister, Mia’s grandma, Alicia and two, the coming of age story where Mia’s teenage niece, Sam learns to trust those that love her even with difficult and scary information. Both beautifully mimic the same themes going on between Travis and Mia. There are just enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages, but not so many that you can’t keep the story lines straight. All add to the main love story between Mia and Travis.
In addition to the well told stories, the settings are described beautifully allowing you picture yourself surrounded by the mountains and other beauty of Montana. The relationships between the town’s people and the Tanner family are great back drop for the story line and add to the small town feeling you get throughout the novel and series. All in all this is a fun read that deals with a couple of tough topics without taking away from the feeling of escape I often look for in a good romance novel. It is cheery and light hearted where it should be, leaves you holding your breath with suspense in the right spots and wraps all the ends up while giving you just enough information at the end to let you know that there is another romp in Lonesome Way, Montana coming soon. If you want a book with realistic characters, a page turning plot line and the perfect amount of seduction, pick up Larkspur Road by Jill Gregory.
Loved it - enthusiastically recommend (A)
Books in the Series:
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Author: B. B. Griffith
Release Date: Sept. 1, 2011
Publisher: Griffith Publishing
The Tournament #1
Format(s): Paperback (514 pgs.), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/Author
About the book:
"There was a time...long ago, when whole nations, entire races of people, pinned their hopes and futures on individual warriors. Whole wars were won and lost on the outcome of a single battle between heroes. Entire countries were moved. Empires rose and fell..."
In Blue Fall, that time has come again.
A routine investigation throws a hapless insurance agent down the rabbit hole, into a world where the rich and powerful place wagers on the greatest game on earth. They call it the Tournament. It offers competition without limits. It is beholden to no man, and constrained by no law, and it is extremely dangerous. But where does the true power lie in this World Cup of warfare? With those who place the bets, or with the deadly players themselves? And can one man expose the secret before they find him?
What Nima’s talking about:
The over-arching premise of Blue Fall is an elementary one: competition. There is inherent struggle and suspense in the pitting of one side against another. This simple concept, however, is not an uncomplicated one in the pages of Blue Fall. B.B. Griffith’s debut novel seeks to accomplish two goals. The first is to provide an escape for those of us who love to flee reality into the pages of a good book. The dedication reads, “If you’ve been known to open up a book simply to escape, then Blue Fall is dedicated to you.” This explains its unapologetic length coming in at over 500 pages. In my opinion, better editing would have tightened the multitude of pieces and characters of this story into a more fluid read. It doesn’t follow, however, that it wasn’t a good read.
The second goal is where things get interesting. Following the dedication, there is a quote from Joseph Heller’s famous character Milo Minderbender in Catch-22, “Frankly, I’d like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry.” Griffith takes this nugget of an idea and runs with it. What would war look like between nations if it were pared down to teams of only three individuals each? What kind of back-up structure and resources would they need? How would you keep it secret from the public at large so they could go on living their lives undisturbed? What if you allowed private wagers? Let outcomes dictate foreign policy? So many tantalizing “what if’s” that kept me reading even when the prose turned muddy.
The first character we are introduced to is Frank Youngsmith, an insurance adjuster. After the initial investigation of an unusually large life policy payout which brings him in contact with people and information he just doesn’t want to know, Frank disappears from the storyline only to reappear almost at the very end. This surprised me since in reading the book’s description I expected to follow him as the main character throughout the book. I consider it a potential flaw that Griffith seems to introduce us to many characters, like Sarah Walcott, the daughter of a tournament doctor, who don’t prove to be significant or even necessarily contributory to the action of the book. As Blue Fall is billed as “volume one” of the Tournament, I can only suppose that these insignificant characters will become significant in future volumes.
The first two-hundred pages are a character study, including some of the minor characters. If you like back story, you’ll love the time spent on this feature of the book. I found myself heading into the main action unsure of who I was supposed to be rooting for because even after learning their history, I didn’t especially like any of the tournament players. I learned more about them by the way they behaved in the heat of battle than I did in any of the preliminary slices of life.
The flaw that ate at me the most was the lack of explanation about the Tournament’s origin and history. Titles are assigned to team members, Striker, Sweeper, and Captain, but their roles weren’t well defined outside of a single conversation among the members of Mexico’s team, “‘Of course you would say that,’ Lilia said. ‘That is what you do. You sweep. But me? I strike. I create the mess that you clean up.’” Even once they were in play and the scientifically engineered diodes that incapacitate players in a simulated death started to fly, it didn’t seem to me that there was a strong assertion of those designations. We arrive into the Tournament in its fifth year. It appears to be a pivotal year because the Tournament is changing. Outcomes are more significant to those backing each team and the “battles” are becoming more public. This kind of warfare can’t be kept a secret much longer despite staggering sums of money and infiltration into public services. The captain of Ireland’s team makes this observation, “It was folly to think that anything resembling that first meeting would be feasible anymore. The Tournament was morphing: changing itself and also changing everyone involved... The power each team had been given made their true colors rise to the top, and what had emerged wasn’t always pretty…” It would be nice to have a better idea of the original intention and structure of the Tournament before seeing how it changes in this and future volumes.
The reader is left with many loose ends that we can only hope will be addressed in the next book. Have the non-lethal diodes/bullets changed or does multiple exposures have unanticipated long-term effects? Why are these particular individuals chosen to represent their countries? Even after learning their back-stories, we still don’t know what makes them so special. And just what of all those minor characters??
Despite its flaws, Blue Fall has great action scenes. With the inevitable morphing of the Tournament, all those what-if’s should provide tremendous fodder for the volumes to come. There is potential here which I hope very much is realized in the next installment of The Tournament.
Liked it - recommend (B+)
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