Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Enchanting Christmas by Beth Ciotta

This book showed up for .99 cents in my EreaderIQ alerts and since I was looking for a holiday romance  I snapped it up. At first I couldn't even remember  why I had a price drop alert for Beth Ciotta, but I looked into it and I guess  her Cupcake Lovers series was mentioned during NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour romance special, but I don't remember what was said about it.

This novella is about Christmas 'Chrissy' Mooney, who isn't feeling to into the Christmas spirit and hasn't been for a while. Five years ago she had to give up her dream of being a violinist when a fling at a music festival left her pregnant. To top it off when she discovered her mystery fling was Mason Rivers, heir to a million dollar company, he threatens to sue her via e-mail if she makes him claims he is the father.

Oh and also her daughter was born deaf...so...irony.

I guess the conceit of this series is that there is a website called Impossibledream.com (which I'm super surprised Beth Ciotta hasn't snapped up)where you put in your information and apply for a dream and then their data analysts make it come true by um,....I don't know... Applied Phlebotinum or something. It's not really explained how this website works, but their slogan is  'We provide the magic. You provide the derring-do.' 

Needless to say there was a big miscommunication between Chrissy and Mason and she suddenly gets a second chance with him, but can she provide the derring-do to make it work ?

This was a quick, light and relatively sweet  romance I was able to read in two days. I liked that this book has a little bit of magic and I think small town communities have become my genre kryptonite.  This book takes place in Nowhere, Nebraska and it is a romance small town straight from central casting complete with a bakery, a bar for the men and a former professional athlete.



SIDE NOTE

It looks like this series recently got new covers, because I have to admit I wouldn't have picked up the original.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mini Reviews: Sugary Romances

Delectable Desires by Farrah Rochon (Draysons #2)

The Drayson family in this series is kind of like the family in Empire...except with more cake (and common sense). The Draysons are a baking dynasty and own Lillians, a large bakery that dominates the Chicago desert scene. Despite being one of best cake artist at the bakery Carter Drayson has always feels left out because he is the only illegitmate child. He meets and falls instanstly for the straight laced Elise when she comes into the bakery looking for a cake for her sister. What he doesn't know is she is a member of the Hawthorne-Hayes, an upper class jewelry family.

The romance in this novel was pretty basic; they meet and through their relationship are able to be their true selves. But. geez some of the moments in this book were so saccharine it kind of hurt. There were a lot of children just moppet-ing it up. There are a couple of scenes where Carter brings cupcake to a ward of sick (and extremely well behaved) children and  it's like Rochon forgot to decsribe his halo.  While it didn't blow me out of the water this romance was sweet in both ways and I think I'll continue with the series. Each of the books in this series are written by a different author and I'm curious to see how it will differ. The next one is by Yarah St. John, someone I've never read before.

Also...someone had way too much fun with Photoshop on this cover. - ★★

Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanna Fluke (Hannah Swensen #13.5)
I'm starting to think the first rule of cozy mystery is that you take the most inoffensive thing you can think of and just put MURDER behind it. Back to School Murder. The Secret Ingredient Murders.Death by Pantyhose.

This is a collections of (um, gingerbread themed?) novellas and I started the titular one by Joanna Fluke when it was on the library's Christmas display and decided to take it home. Even though this novella comes much later in the Hannah Swenson series, I was able to keep up.

Baker Hannah Swenson is looking into the murder of her upstairs neighbor. I think what kept me reading was meeting all the characters and seeing how they reacted to the murder and trying to guess whodunit So, I know it’s in the genre name, but this cozy mystery was just so...cozy. The town of Lake Eden, Minnesota felt so quaint and everyone loves themselves some baked goods. Sarah Koenig should take note; If you bring cookies people will tell you anything.

I didn’t realize these books had recipes in them and they was she talks about the desserts makes me want to make ALL the food. There were 5 recipes in this novella alone and I can only imagine how many are in the full books. I think I’ll try the Game Day Burgers. I just finished two pretty heavy adult books, so this was just what I needed. It was as if Monk and Pushing Daisies were baked into a book and I definitely want seconds. I’ve already purchased the first book in the series So...Cupcakes, Mysteries & Sensibility...eh ? eh ?  - ★★★.5

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ceremony In Death (In Death #5)




Dear Rorake NoLastName,

While reading and reviewing the In Death series I realize that I've been kind of hard on you as our love interest/supporting character. I mean as an Irish Billionaire Businessman (Former criminal and not-so-former hacker) you have a lot of work to do to seem . . . believable. In previous reviews I've deemed you useless and only around as supportive eye candy and to provide a fantasy element.

However recently I've been doing research on your billionaire brethren over at Harlequin Presents and honestly for a billionaire you are really not that bad.

I mean when Eve finds out a fellow cops seemingly natural death might have been murder, you offer your help when Eve's investigation leads her into the world of Witchcraft and Satanism. I mean you grew up in Ireland and have a belief and respect for the practice, so you are a natural partner. While Eve has to set aside her belief in pragmatism and look for the divine you are the perfect person to help . . . without having to kidnap her and taking her to a remote country and make her stay with you (okay so he does that sometimes but it's only for like a day or two).

Anywho you are totally cool with Eve taking the lead, even when things get dark and boy do they get dark, when bodies start pilling up. It’s fun seeing you two work together. While you do disappear in the second half,  Eve and Peabody continue to  build their work relationship  and bantery repertoire to bring this case to a close..
This book is a careful examination of the subject of Wicca and witchcraft. Do you think maybe dabbling in the subject here is what inspired Robb to start writing her (as Sara Wendell calls them) Para-Nora books  ?
This was just the right In Death book to read for Halloween as it takes place around the holiday. The only thing that would have made it better is if you’d dressed up like a Leprechaun.

This book was miles better than Rapture In Death. Other than that I wish someone would at least question WHY YOU DON'T HAVE A LAST NAME.  I MEAN SERIOUSLY.

P.S
Dear Eve, I now the series is formulaic but can you please stop getting kidnapped and confronting the killer alone. There’s got to be some better way Just. . . yeah. Although this ending had an unexpected twist.

P. P .S
Obligatory P.C rant - why oh why did the line " like a mob at a lynching" have to be there ? It Just took me out the story. Just why. Also  did the shady owner of a coffee shop that's cover for a gambling hall have to be Hispanic ? Eh ? eh ?

P.P.P. S.
I hate saying this but for lack of a better term why do these books have to be so rape-y ?






Friday, December 18, 2015

Mini Reviews : The Lieutenant and The Beauty

Rapture In Death (#4)




Trigger Warning - Child Abuse/Sexual Assault

Could suicide with a smile possibly be murder ?

When newlywed Lieutenant Eve Dallas runs across a case of bizarre suicides her instincts says it's murder, as she falls into the world of technology and psychology she might realize the person she can't trust is herself.

For starters this book just has a lot of things I don't want in my fiction. The first strike being an Asian character (who thankfully doesn't show up again) being described with  "yellow" skin and "almond shaped eyes" it just felt. . . bleh to me. Also I don't think this is really a spoiler but I totally could have done without the hero sexually assaulting the heroine while under mind control. . . Just no. Also, I'm pretty sure every one of my In Death reviews is going to have a PC rant on it, so yeah..

Anywho, this is what I call the sci-fi book in the series because Robb goes deep into her own world building and makes use fictional science to propel the story and honestly it's not Robb's strong suit. I just couldn't  buy into Robb's brand of science fiction. If you're half paying attention you can figure out what the deal is especially if you know the formula. In other series news, uniform office Peabody working as  Eve's aide has becomes #official and it's great seeing them work together. Even ignoring the squicky parts this is probably the book I would totally skip. The pay-off just isn't there. ★★

Beauty and The Balcksmith


I thought the reason I like the Spindle Cove novel, A Lady by Midnight  was because of Carolyn Morris' audiobook performance, but there is something so comfortable and likable about Dare's world of Spindle Cove. The Beauty and the Blacksmith is a novella about Diana Highwood. Diana is the most beautiful and respectable Highwood sister. Everyone just knows she will marry well especially her pushy match making mother.  Diana isn't sure if that's for her, especially since she is infatuated with Aaron Dawes, the local blacksmith.

What I really liked about this is there were no dukes or ballrooms to be seen. Yes, the clash of class was in the background but at the end of the day it's a story where a woman from the gentry  tries to  find a way to her HEA with small town craftsman. I seriously wanted a whole book on them. Dare has a great way of bringing the final chapters to an end that (generally) gets the whole town involved in a a slightly whacky way.

I haven't read the whole Spindle Cove series but I think it helps to have read at least one of the first three Spindle Cove books to fully appreciate the novella.★★★★



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Jacked Up (Fast Track #6)


Pit crew member Nolan Ford has had a crush on Eve Monroe for a while. The only problem ? She’s the sister and PR rep of the driver he pit crews for and has a reputation of being a cold ‘battle axe’.  When Nolan finally finds the chance to ask her out their relationship will change Eve Monroe’s life forever. He helps her learn that maybe the reason she is so bitter is because she never took the chance to try  her dream--becoming a professional driver.

I really enjoyed the romance in this book and was rooting for this couple so hard. Jacked Up has everything I like about this series; humor, conflict, complex heroes and heroines with just the right amount of tension. And while I started this review with Nolan, this book is really...all about Eve (I think I did a thing).

Monday, December 14, 2015

Catch a Ghost (Hell or High Water #1)


Tom pressed his lips together for a moment, then said, “I just thought we’d be doing something. . .”
“Bigger?” Prophet asked, and without waiting, said, “Saving lives is always big.”
“There’s no one to save, Prophet.”
It took everything Prophet had not to punch Tom. “There’s always someone to save.”
- Catch A Ghost, S.E. Jakes




So, I just discovered you can sort by publisher on Overdrive and I noticed my library has a sizable number of titles from Riptide, a M/M publisher. I’d heard Joyfully Jay talk about M/M on The DBSA Podcast  so I thought why the heck not ?

When I first heard about M/M  it kind of rubbed me the wrong way because so many of the authors are straight women and I'm not sure how I feel about the gay/out for you thing. It just seemed fanfiction-y to turn a straight guy gay for one person. I mean...there's a word for that. Anyway this book doesn't have any of that, so moving on,

Former military man, Prophet, (it’s a nickname) works for a private company called Extreme Escapes--who I guess rescues hostages when the US government won’t cooperate or something . .  I don’t know It’s never fully explained in this book what they do or how they get paid. Also, while we’re on it the name Extreme Escapes kind of irks me, it sounds like some kind of 90’s amusement park.

Anyway, against his wishes Prophet is partnered with EEs newest associate former FBI agent, Tom Bordeaux. En route to their first mission they are interrupted by news of a murder in Texas---and for Prophet it’s personal.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Slow Ride by Erin McCarthy (Fast Track #5)


 
Professional stock car blogger, Tuesday Jones,  has spent months watching her  father die of cancer. At his funeral she ends up crying all over Daniel ‘Diesel’ Lange-- one of her Dad’s favorite drivers. Diesel's quit racing after  he was injured in a crash on the track. It's a slow ride as  the stoic beta hero, Diesel, falls head first into Tuesday’s wild extroverted ways.

The hero and heroine in Slow Ride had great chemistry. This book is a little bit darker than the others, it hints that Tuesday may be an alcoholic. I think so often women drinking lots of wine is just seen as flippant fun and not as something that could be potentially a real problem and I liked the way McCarthy handled it.

Like the last one this book gets away from the community and settings established in the other books. Tuesday is supposed to be this professional stock car blogger but she never goes to races, they never talk about racing and she never seems to work. It just didn’t feel realistic that that was her job. How does she know anything if she never goes anywhere ?


There are  a few quick scenes with previous characters, but it felt like awkward bonus content. Like they just randomly show Suzanne and Ryder from book 3 saying they should have a dinner party to see if Diesel and Tuesday belong together even though they’ve never met Tuesday or Diesel. And the dinner party doesn’t even happen and we just never hear from them again.

Slow Ride lives up to everything I expect from a Fast Track novel; complex heroines, smexy heroes and lots of fun !





Monday, December 7, 2015

Hold Me by Susan Mallery (Fools Gold #16)




Jess and I recently went to McKay’s Used Bookstore, which is like a wild west mecca for book lovers. There are shelves and shelves of books, but no inventory  so you just have to parse through by genre to find the good stuff. We decided to pick a romance at random for the other to read and I got Hold Me by Susan Mallery. I’d heard about the clich├ęs of small town romance novels and let me tell you this one seemed to hit every single one.


Hold Me is the 16th book (21st if you count novellas) of Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series. Each year 1 cycle of three books come out. Needless to say I spent pretty much most of the book going:


There were so many townspeople floating in and out, but I’d say it’s totally doable to jump into it. If anything it helps you relate to the main character since she is new in town. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

One Rogue At A Time By Jade Lee

I feel like the best way to describe what happens in One Rogue At A Time is to do it in the style of Stefon, Bill Hader's character from Weekend Update on SNL

Jade Lee's newest book is One Rogue At A Time


This book has everything; Side characters who should be on  American Greed : Regency , knife throwing, drunk pigs, accidental virginity taking, a Frenchman, a supportive prostitute mom  and TANGLING.

What's Tangling  ?

---Oh, you know,  it's that's thing where a female character hits a man over the head with a pan in self defense. . . well in this case it is some sort of foot warming pan, but I'll allow it.

---

To make it a bit more coherent this book opens up with Bram, the illegitimate son of a Duke. He's grown up around wealth and privilege but due to his status it's always out of his reach. His exsistence is something he constantly struggles with in the story. Like this conversation he has with his mother who works happily as a prostitute.

[Bram]"Why let a child be born as a byblow ? Don't you know we don't fit in anywhere ?"

"Of course you do. You fit on the outskirts with us." She caressed his arm. "I just never thought it would hurt you so deeply. I never thought I'd have a son who was so. . . so . . ."

"Stupid ?"

"Honorable. Why would you want to be like them ? Marrying for money, hated by your children, saddled with appearances that can never be wholly maintained. Why would you want that ?"


I like this kind of class conflict in a story. It's one of the things that  makes shows like Downton Abbey so interesting. Anywho, Bram's gained a reputation of  being a bodyguard/PI/fixer for the aristocracy. He's a fixer, basically your Better Call Saul type. He finds a way for people who are out of options despite not being able to find a way for himself.

His current mission has him getting a pair of high society swindlers to safety. A series of mishaps causes Bram to become stranded  in the small rural village of  Hull and at the mercy of Maybelle "Bluebell" Ballenger,  a local girl and herbalist. She agrees to help Bram get out of dodge faster if he helps her learn all a there is about being a high society lady, as she is on a mission to prove she is the long lost granddaughter of an Earl (as you do). When Bram and  Bluebelle aren't going back and forth making deals and trying to undercut one another, they find themselves in a relationship that runs up against society's rules.

This first half of this book was great. Lee juggles a lot of different characters and motives in the same scene, but you always know who is being swindled and who wants what and why.

One Rogue At A Time has a realistic focus on the unspoken rules surrounding class and marriage in the Regency. Throughout the book Bram struggles with what it means to be illegitimate, I mean he is even rejected by his father on his death bed. This means that if Bluebelle really is apart of the ton that Bram's illegitimate status can only harm her. I love that  Lee does not shy away from this topic.

The end of this book takes some liberal time jumps and the pacing gets a little all over the place. For someone who usually complains about prologues that take place in the future I would have liked to see one just to get a full picture of how this HEA is supposed to work.


P.S   I like how the blurb says "May the best rogue win"  I think this is hinting that both of our characters are a bit roguish as they are constantly trying to one up one another.


*ARC provided via NetGalley. Quotes taken from unfinalized copy

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Chase by Erin McCarthy (Fast Track #4)

"Sometimes she looked at him and didn't know who she was seeing--the boy she had loved, the man she hated or the man who was the boy grown up."
- Erin McCarthy, The Chase

I’ve been enjoying the ride of the  Fast Track series so far and while I like aspects of it, this installment stalled out for me-- especially the ending.

Stock car driver Kendall Holbrook is the sole female driver in this year’s stock car championship and after years of work she won’t let anyone shake her driving-- including fellow driver and  ex-boyfriend Evan Monroe, who laughed at her career ambitions when they were teenagers.

But while Kendall is at an all time high in her career Evan is at an all time low. When Evan needs more sponsors he is paired up with Kendall on a his-and-her deodorant campaign and they discover that maybe moment that broke them up 10 years ago wasn’t what they thought.

This novel just didn’t have the same sense humor the other books had, the only funny parts were when the other characters showed up.

I  liked Kendall as a character, who I admit I pretty much saw as  a Danica Patrick expy. At 28, Kendall is on the younger side of Fast Track series protagonists and she is just being brought into this community and has to figure out where she belongs. She straddles the world between the women who are the wives, mothers and staff and the men, who are her coworkers.

What left me most unsatisfied about this book was how the ending was tied up like everything was neat and tidy when a lot of things were left unresolved.So, here be spoilers.


-----SPOILERS-----


In the previous book, Hot Finish it’s implied that Evan hooks up with this random girl at a bachelor party and in this book we find out that random girl is pregnant and he may or may not be the father….and by the way he finds this out right after he and Kendall elope.


And then it’s just never fully resolved. We never find out if he is the father. Not to mention that he quits racing after discovering all of this.  Like even if Kendall could make all the money he’d still have to pay child support. Would he really make his wife pay that ?

And while we are on HEAs, one of the very last moments that happens before the end is Kendall’s friend, a well known race car blogger named Tuesday tells her that her father has terminal cancer. Tuesday is the protagonist of the next book, so I guess we are going to get more of this in Slow Ride, but it was kind of a downer ending.

While it was great to see a female driver in this series it felt like this book was mostly setting up for the next one...which I’ve already started and while it’s definitely more emotional I’m enjoying it.

 

SIDE NOTE

Also, there is a sex scene in this book that takes place on their lunch. Literally on their lunch. In a hotel room. With like ketchup and French fries and IDK that just seemed rude to the hotel staff.



Monday, November 2, 2015

Glory In Death & Immortal In Death

Trigger Warning - Child Abuse

Glory In Death (In Death #2)


Renowned prosecutor Cecily Towers is found dead in a seedy part of town. What was she doing there ? And could she know her killer? This case is personal for Commander Whitney, but he knows if there is one detective who won't be afraid to ask the hard questions and dig deep it's Lieutenant Eve Dallas. Now saddled with a high profile case and a Billionaire (with a B) boyfriend, Eve has to face some harsh realities about herself as her ruthless pursuit is criticized and pushed under harsh media scrutiny. 

 I hoped we were going to get more on Eve's love interest Rorake. I mean he comes off as such a typical love interest, he's basically there to play the rich and powerful fantasy trope to a T.   I mean there is this one interesting angle to their relationship that I want  get explore more; Eve is a strict  law-abiding cop and Rorake is a (mostly) reformed criminal. Also HE DOESN'T HAVE A LAST NAME (or first name ?) I WANT MORE ON THAT. I guess what I really want is more character building for Rorake. Sometimes when he swoops in to give Eve part of his fancy world, it feels like Eve's a reluctant heroine in a Harlequin Presents.
.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Miss Ranaway WIth The Duke by Elizabeth Boyle (Rhymes With Love #2)

Release Date: March 26th 2013

Audiobook Length: 10 Hours 38 Minutes

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Avon

A summary of The Miss Ran Away With The Rake goes like this; Mistaken identities, house parties and feuding family set the backgrond as a sensible well-doer gets mixed up with a determined manic pixie dream girl. Needless to say this book was delightful.

Mr. Dishforth and Ms. Spooner have fallen in love via correspondence, ala You've Got Mail Style. When a chance encounter brings them to the same house party, they are eager to discover who one another really is. The only thing is Mr. Dishforth is really Henry Seldon and Ms. Spooner is  Daphne Dale. FYI, The Dale and Seldons have been feuding for generations.  . .

You can see where this is going.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cover Candy : Let's Swirl !



 


I love a good cover and you don't have to have crazy eyes to see how crazy gorgeous these interracial romance covers are !  From 18th century soldiers to modern day cowboys here are some my favorite cover designs, tell me all about your faves !

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Naked In Death by J.D. Robb (In Death # 1)



Recently I've been in the mood for stories with a little more action, danger and some mystery to keep the plot going.  I think this is because I love me some Investigation Discovery and crime procedural TV.

Since I'm reading romance for this blog it seemed appropriate to look into some romantic suspense. I started with The Ideal Man which was. . . just far from ideal for me. One of the reasons being because of how blah the heroine was portrayed.

I knew I wanted a heroine who wasn't just helplessly swooning over a dude with a badge who is going to save her. I wanted the heroine to have some agency and a stake in the "crime" part, so I figured  finding a  book with a female enforcement figure would be a good bet.  I did some Google-fu and Eve Dallas from J.D Robb's In Death series showed up over and over again.



Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood


When I started thinking about I started thinking about how I was going to do this review I thought this was a suspense novel because the cover has you know . . . gun, badge and FBI agent but according to the marketing on the back of the CD box this is a contemporary.


I liked the initial flirtation between Max and Ellie, they decide to date and then the book just goes downhill.

This was my first time reading a suspense ( or contemporary romance with suspense elements) and the plotting felt was so strange to me, and I'm trying to figure out if this is the status quo.


First the big plot. Ellie witnesses the Landrys, a criminal couple shoot an FBI agent. The Landrys are known for killing witness which puts Ellie in danger. . . but also she has a dangerous stalker she's been hiding from since she was 11 . . . and also she is on her way to a wedding in her small southern town . . . and but also her younger sister is looking for her missing lover. . . Oh, but also Ellie s a prodigy and gifted surgeon so she spends half the book diagnosing people and dolling out convenient medical advice because that's what surgeon's do . . .


I mean look I haven't gone to medical school but are surgeons really trained to give perfect pregnancy advice (via text message) and diagnose cancerous moles ? Isn't that more of an internist thing ? I digress. All of the plots get wrapped up pretty easily. There is a lot of telling not showing. I guess I was expecting more intrigue and investigating but I guess that's why it's billed as contemporary.


So there was this plot (if you can call it a plot it's more like 2 chapters and a conclusion) about Ellie's sister that I thought was setting up for another book. . . the sister is a new lawyer looking for a Navy Seal she hit it off with. That could be a whole book, but nope that gets resolved in one foul swoop and wrapped up with a tiny bow. It was sooo awkward. It came in and out of nowhere.

I hate to be harsh on a female character but holey moley was Ellie just too perfect, I felt like everyone was singing her praises. Three times in this book the hero stands next to her beaming while some other male character who thinks Ellie is just the best, tells a story about Ellie's past and how awesomesauce she is and Ellie (is of course) humble. It It just felt clunky the third time around and like a way to give background info. I mean I started to worry when I start siding with Ellie's bridezilla sister who feels like Ellie ruins everything with her stalker and what not.

Also some of the dialogue was really dull and uninteresting. I swear there is this intense back and forth about a thermostat and heater or something that I just totally zoned out of. I mean I legit thought it was going to lead to something. I even side eyed during a scene in the book where Ellie checks her phone and tells the hero the weather even though it was nothing to really do with anything.

One interesting fact, Max's brother is a professional football player who is black. We learn that Max was adopted by a black family in sort of a reverse Blindside situation (in Montana of all places) , and I waned to know more on that. It sounded like a Chris Crutcher novel in the making (no one probably gets that) I had a feeling this book wasn't going to to touch that subject but still.


At the end of the day this was more of a coming-home contemporary with badge and gun dude on the side, It felt like like this was three different novels being thrown together and boring dialogue added to make word count.


I know Julie Garwood is a celebrated romance writer and I feel like I might have just picked up the wrong book. I may give her historicals a try.


My first suspense-ish novel left a bad taste in my mouth. I need help. Please send recs



Saturday, September 5, 2015

Guest Post: Bad Boy Inspiration by Shana Galen + Giveaway !

 
 Earlier this week I reviewed The Rogue You Know, the second book in the Covent Garden Cubs series and I'm happy to have Shana on our blog today to talk about bad boy hero inspirations. Scroll down to the bottom to enter a giveaway !
 

When we think about Regency England, we tend to think of the balls, the carriages, the gowns. We forget that for every duke or marquess, there were hundreds of thieves and pickpockets living in the slums of the city. Covent Garden was an area of London with plenty of rookeries, and the thieves who lived there often banded together because there’s protection in numbers. My fictional gang called the Covent Garden Cubs is made up of the leader Satin, his second-in-command Beezle, and an assortment of pickpockets and house-breakers with names like Gap, Racer, and Stub. The gang also has one girl, Marlowe, and I wrote about her in Earls Just Want to Have Fun. Her best friend in the gang in Gideon, and he’s the hero in The Rogue You Know. Gideon is the ultimate bad boy who can cheat, lie, and steal with the best of them. He was orphaned at a young age and had no choice but to steal to survive. Now Gideon wants a different life for himself, and if he can just complete one last job, he’ll have it…or die trying.
 
When writing about my bad boy hero, I had plenty of inspiration.
 
1)       Flynn Rider from Tangled
Yes, I know Flynn is animated, but he is the main inspiration for Gideon. Like the Disney bad boy, Gideon is charming, funny, and self-deprecating. Flynn makes no apologies for his lifestyle, and while he may try to hide his sensitive side, his love for Rapunzel brings it out.
 
2)       George Gordon Byron, Baron Byron
Byron was a poet, nobleman, and ultimate bad boy. Described as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” Byron titillated the Regency world. He generated enormous debts, had numerous affairs and liaisons, and ultimately died young and tragically abroad. A bad boy with the heart of a romantic is always an inspiration.
 
3)       Danny in Grease
We’ve all seen Grease so many times we forget that Travolta’s character was really a bad boy. He’s dangerous for Sandy’s reputation and just plain dangerous, period. But like any bad boy we love, love wins Danny over and he’s willing to change to be with the woman who means everything.
 
4)       Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You
I love a bad boy who sets out to corrupt the good girl and then is corrupted by her instead. Heath Ledger is fabulous as the new kid in school who agrees to date the heroine…for a fee. “How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways.” The banter between Patrick and Kat makes this bad boy movie memorable.
 
5)       Nick Gentry in Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas
While Gideon may be on the wrong side of the law and Nick Gentry a Bow Street Runner, Nick definitely serves as an inspiration. He’s a man with a dark past and much to hide, but Charlotte is able to peel away the layers one by one. Her love for him, and his for her, redeems this bad boy and makes us love him all the more.
 
I enjoyed taking inspiration from each of these bad boys and creating the character of Gideon. He may be a thief and a rogue, but he is also capable of deep love. And that’s what my books are about—characters for whom love changes everything.
 
Who are your favorite redeemed rogues?
 
***
 
Book Information
 
Title: The Rogue You Know
Author: Shana Galen
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical Romance
 
Summary
She's beyond his reach...
Gideon Harrow has spent his life in London's dark underworld-and he wants out. A thief and a con, he plans one last heist to finally win his freedom. But when everything goes wrong, he finds himself at the tender mercies of one of Society's most untouchable women-Lady Susanna Derring.
...and out of her depth.
Susanna has spent her life in London's glittering ton, under the thumb of a domineering mother-and she wants out. When a wickedly charming rogue lands at her feet, she jumps at the chance to experience life before it's too late. But as she descends into London's underworld, she finds that nothing- not even Gideon-is as it seems. As excitement turns to danger, Susanna must decide what price she's willing to pay...for the love of a reformed thief.
Buy Links
 
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1UlC0m7
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/1IWkOBI
 
Author Biography
 
Shana Galen is the bestselling author of passionate Regency romps, including the RT Reviewers' Choice The Making of a Gentleman.Kirkus says of her books, "The road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful and fun," and RT Book Reviews calls her books "lighthearted yet poignant, humorous yet touching." She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston's inner city. Now she writes full time. She's happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Shana loves to hear from readers, so send her an email or see what she's up to daily on Facebook and Twitter. Stop by her website at shanagalen.com.
 
Social Networking Links
 
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The Rogue You Know by Shana Galen (Covent Garden Cubs #2)

Release Date: September 1, 2015
Page Number: 384
Series: Covent Garden Cubs
Publisher: Sourcebooks

Susanna Derring has spent her life under her mother’s strict surveillance. For the longest time she believed her mother was just trying too keep her to gentry standard and ensure Susanna had a suitable husband. But  after a chance coversation with an old friend she suspects there is something her mother is hiding and  the answers are at the  the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Now, if only she had a way to get there…

Cue Gideon Harrow, a thief (and friend of Susanna’'s sister-in-law)who has to do one last act of thievery so he can afford passage out of London and start a life as an honest man.

When Susanna catches Gideon trying to hide in her library (Tangled style except with a candlestick not a frying pan) she makes a wager. He escorts her to Vauxhall Garden and she’ll give him the necklace he needs to pawn to get his passage out of London. What is supposed to be a one night outing turns into a series of mini-adventures and close calls in London’s Seven Dials neighborhood.

One of the things I like about this series is it does the Regency Romance But Not In A Ballroom. Galen seems to always create interesting ways to put her characters in the actual city of London instead of cramped up in residences and cottages.

Overall I didn’t like this book as much as I liked the first one. This book just felt way too precocious. Susanna is able to charm all the dangerous people into doing what she wants and she is always helping the poor people she meets along the way. Also, they get followed by this stray dog that is like an animal in a Disney movie. It seems to know exactly what all her commands are and it comes in right in the nick of time to save them.

I was pretty lukewarm on the romance between Gideon and Susanna, I didn’t feel much chemistry between them and the romance happened really quickly. There is also a secondary plot involving Susanna’s mother that felt kind of rushed.

The Rogue You Know is a fast paced story, but the quickfire romance leaves a lot to be desired.
Despite not loving this book I think I will read the third book in this series, I Kissed A Rogue because it has a pre-established relationship which is a trope I like.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook



Release Date: 11/01/11
Length :  13 Hours 23 Minutes
Genre: Steampunk
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Trigger Warning : Illusions to child trafficking


Meljean Brook opens the door to an alternate universe that is as much about gadgets, airships and curiosities as it is about freedom, adventure and revenge.

For centuries England was controlled by the Horde, an advanced civilization who used nanoagents and a tower to control the emotions and lives of the English people.

Ten years ago a ruthless pirate, Rhys Trahearn (pronunced  johan by the audiobook narrator) destroyed the tower and saved England and was canonized as The Iron Duke. Even in this time of peace not all is well in England, especially when a dead man is dropped on The Iron Duke's doorstep.  Inspector Mina Wentworth is on the case.  Zombies, daring rescues and general swashbuckling follow as Mina and Rhys search for answers.

First the good. I thought the world Meljean built was amazing. In the first 20 pages you know where you are and what the conceit is. The rest of the story fills in little details here and there as needed and you just want to know more. She creates a world that is both horrifying and wondrous with it's possibilities.

The bad. . . the romance and to be honest the titular Iron Duke.

Inspector Mina Wentworth is half-Horde and half English, she has to fight prejudice and hatred to do her job, one she is pretty good at. So when she arrives to help Rhys he's all like  . . . I WANT YOU NOW. . . and she all like "Um. . .no. "  and that's about all there is for a large part of the book.

Rhys meets Mina twice (in the midst of her investigation) and he instantly decides that he wants to take care of and have kids with her. He just wants her. He seems genuinely confused when Mina keeps turning him down. She  has a job that requires a lot of focus and that's her priority. I think she's supposed to come off as closed off, but to me she just seemed focused.


This is his reaction when he just wants to kiss her ;


To interject there is an earlier elevator scene where she "grabs his cods" in order to get him to leave her alone. Is he REALLY the hero ?

He very quickly wants to buy her affections and she says no explaining that :

"I don't have a man. . .  but you have nothing to offer me, sir. I answer to no one. I must make due only for myself. Can you offer better than absolute freedom?:

See, she wants freedom not you chaining her down.

I reread and maybe I missed it but after Rhys has blackmailed/not blackmailed her into going on a voyage with him she starts falling for him and I have no idea why. As the reader I think I was supposed to want them to be together but I just couldn't.

There is a scene where Rhys misunderstands Mina turning away from him  during a physical encounter. He 'accidentally" forces himself on her then apologies for his confusion.


 and then



You see the Horde forced it's people into mating "Frenzies" something that seems to have scarred Mina , not that Rhys cares. This is later "justified" because Rhys used to be a child sex slave he explains he would never intentionally rape someone, I just didn't buy this justification.

There few more scenes that go along these lines. I mean is this what people call forced seduction ? Is this like an older romance trope ?

The thing is Mina and Rhys are interesting on their own. They have a lot to deal with in this new world. Rhys with his fame and iconisim; Mina dealing with her mixed blood and family's needs. I wanted more of their background as characters not love interest. Like what day to day life is like for Mina as a half-Horde and something interesting is revealed about Rhys anatomy (no it's not what you think) that I wanted to explore.

This book has some unfortunate implications because the Horde conquerors are most likely Asian, as the Horde seems to be a reference to Great Khan of the Golden Horde. I think that it is problematic to make hero or savior of the story white and the evil oppressive characters a traditionally marginalized group.

I hope the other books will show a different side to The Horde and maybe we will get to dig in more to their history.

Faye Adele does the audio, she's a new narrator to me and I liked the reserved melancholy voice she used for Mina. Her performances  weren't booming or particularly varied.

I give this book high marks and would rec it because of the world building and characters. But the confusing general plot and romance is what bought this review made this a two star book for me.









Sunday, August 2, 2015

Along Came A Duke by Elizabeth Boyle (Rhymes With Love #1)

  • Release Date: March 26th, 2013
  • Pages: 384
  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Publisher: Avon
Along Came a Duke is a historical romance with the heart of of a modern day romcom. Tabitha Timmons has come into a large inheritance that can get her out of her evil aunt and uncle's grasp, the catch is she has to marry a man pre-picked out for her. The only problem is she can't stop thinking about the trouble making Duke of Preston.

Tabitha is the usual sensible country girl who doesn't' want to be saved and Preston is your basic rake (he bankrupts a man) with a heart of gold (he literally saves a box of kittens or puppies or something). They fit the tropes to a T and personality wise they felt like place fillers

Boyle has a very distinct writing style. Her dialogue and style felt very of the time and she makes sure to use the slang of the era as much as possible. I could make a drinking game over how much the phrase "Good God" "bit of muslin" ad "cry off" are used.

As the characters work and scheme to get Tabitha out of her arrange  marriage and to her true happy ending I found a lot of the character types I 'd expect to see in a romcom. The supportive best friends, dog with great comedic timing , overbearing parental figures and affable spare fiance.  My favorite trope being the bromance Preston shares with his constantly hungover gambling scatter brained friend, Roxley, who is always on the run from his fussy aunt.

I couldn't unsee this when characters said "Good God"
The book has a leisurely pace to it, I usually like a lot more shenanigans in my plotting, but what kept me listening was Susan Duerden's performance on the audiobook. Scribd has a whole feature on her and I wanted to find out why. When I first heard her narration I thought she sounded a but stiff,but on second listen I realized her performance sounded nothing like her narrating voice. I like how she laughs and sighs when the text calls for it. Duerden makes the difference between a good narration and a great performance.

I like the side characters and Duerden's performance so much I can see this series being my go-to car audiobook. Something light and mellow I can enjoy on the commute home.

I'm not sure why this series is called Rhymes With Love. I mean the heroines names are alliterations and the titles are derived from Nursery rhymes, but I don't see the connection within the story. I guess it's just good marketing ? Either way, I'm sold.

Side Note

The heroine actually wears the dress on the cover. I always like that.