Just doing my part to help the economy....

Saturday, May 30

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy


Romance sales are up 32% from last year for Harlequin, and many other publishers. I'm thinking in these tough times that is a GREAT return, too bad Harlequin's a privately held company :(

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Only Thing Gorgeous About This is the Cover

Thursday, May 28

Gorgeous as Sin by Susan Johnson

Historical Romance
March 3, 2009
Berkley
ISBN: 9780425226810

Get the Book:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Borders
Ebay
Paperback Swap



From the Publisher:

Fitz Monckton, Duke of Groveland, has never encountered a woman he can't seduce -- until he clashes with the beautiful Rosalind St. Vincent, whose bookshop sits in the way of Fitz's lucrative development deal. If money won't entice Rosalind to sell her shop, Fitz must tempt her in other ways -- hopefully mutually pleasurable, and profitable to them both.


Could not find an excerpt to post (should have tipped me off)


Review:
I have been reading Susan Johnson novels for years. When I discovered her, I read all of her backlist of historicals as quickly as I could find them and still have a few of them on my keeper shelf. However, something about her writing changed for me with several of her newest releases that kind of put me off reading her for while. When I first learned about Gorgeous as Sin I was on the fence whether or not I would read it, but then I heard that this newest historical was similar to her older novels and would appeal to her disillusioned fans (apparently I was not the only one with these sentiments). So I thought, why not give it another chance before removing her from my reading list. I almost never do this, as everyone always deserves another chance…right?

Well, in this case, wrong. I didn’t like it….at all. I thought the plot was predictable, which is not a “sin” as long as the journey with the characters is enjoyable, but I didn’t like the characters either. Fitz, The Duke of Groveland, is an enterprising, scheming, selfish, entitled aristocrat who is used to getting his way, no matter what, or how much it costs him. Money is no object for him, and morals do not exist. He uses coercion, deception, manipulation….anything, even his own body, to win.

Rosalind is a widow who is on the forefront of the suffragette movement. She is progressive, independent to a fault, stubborn and self righteous. When Fitz and Rosalind first meet sparks fly (but not in a good way), as in:


Fitz:
“I hate you, bitch! You’re costing me time and money all because of your stupid and insignificant little book store”,


Rosalind:
“Not as much as I hate you, you philandering rake, no amount of money can buy what I offer the community with my shop”.

Of course, this is not exact quote from the book, but I feel that it is a great summarization of the beginning of the book. Love and Hate are definitely two sides of the same coin for Fitz and Rosalind. I was a little put off at the beginning because of this, but thought that maybe their dialogue and actions towards each other would change as they fell in love, but they didn’t. Fitz calls Rosalind a “bitch” throughout the book, and not in a playful way, but in a derogatory way. Other than their attractiveness to each other I failed to understand what compelled their almost obsessive behavior to have an affair that eventually led to their “falling in love”, and I use that term loosely.

Some reviews I read did not like Fitz because they felt that he “cheated” on Rosalind when he slept with several other women during their brief affair. This did not really bother me because I felt that it accurately portrayed who he was and the type of life he was leading prior to meeting Rosalind, in addition, he and Rosalind were not in a committed relationship (neither wanted anything from the other except sex). It also had the added benefit of leaving A LOT of room for him to grow and mature as a character.

Their entire relationship is based on sex. I failed to comprehend how two people who acted the way they did, used, and treated the other person the way they did, fell in love. Fitz has investigators break into her home to find evidence of her illegal writing, uses estranged family members to try and convince her to “do the right thing”, inadvertently has her arrested and put in jail for writing erotica, and is willing to use any means necessary, including sex with him, to convince her to sell her property to him. Rosalind uses Fitz for the sex, after all she is a widow, and uses their affair as inspiration for writing her popular erotica serial. Both characters were flawed, and their story lacked any kind of intimate passion. I felt they each had a lot of room to grow, and was willing to accept them as they were written at the beginning, hoping that they would redeem themselves by the end, but it just didn’t happen.

Does this sound like a love story to you? It wasn’t for me. After reading this book the only thing I came away liking was the cover. I am hoping that my next historical read, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley, will renew my love of historicals (I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, so keep your fingers crossed).

Ratings:
Romance: 1.5
Passion: 2.0
Kleenex: 1.0
Overall: 1.5

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What Kind of Reader are You?

Wednesday, May 27

I had planned on posting a review today of Gorgeous as Sin by Susan Johnson, but just couldn't do it. It was another disappointing read, and I'm just not in that kind of mood....so instead I took this quiz, which I thought was interesting and fun:

Your Personality: All-Rounder!
Your responses showed you fitting equally into all four reading personalities:

  • Involved Reader: You don't just love to read books, you love to read about books. For you, half the fun of reading is the thrill of the chase - discovering new books and authors, and discussing your finds with others. (very true, hence this blog)
  • Exacting Reader: You love books but you rarely have as much time to read as you'd like - so you're very particular about the books you choose. (just added 6 books to my TBR list which is out of control, maybe I'm not as exacting as I should be)
  • Serial Reader: Once you discover a favorite writer you tend to stick with him/her through thick and thin. (am seriously questioning keeping Susan on the read list)
  • Eclectic Reader: You read for entertainment but also to expand your mind. You're open to new ideas and new writers, and are not wedded to a particular genre or limited range of authors. (one of the things I love about reading are the endless possibilities)

If you would like to take the quiz and see what type of reader you are, click here

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Monday's Muse

Monday, May 25


Sorry, but the image containing the Monday's Muse has been removed from this blog so as not to violate any copyright issues.  Thanks for your understanding!

In honor of Memorial Day
(and since it is a day late, I'm giving you more than one)

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A scandal is right!

Thursday, May 21

Highland Scandal by Julia London

Historical Romance
April 21, 2009
Pocket Books
ISBN: 9781416547105

Buy the book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Borders
Ebay

From the publisher:

On the run from the wrathful Prince of Wales, Jack Haines, Earl of Lambourne, is taken prisoner by a Highland laird who makes him an unusual offer: if Jack handfasts his niece, then his life will be spared. The old Highland custom--a marriage lasting only a year a day, unless both parties agree to make it a lifelong vow--sounds preferable to Jack to being dragged to London in chains, and when he meets lovely Lizzie Beal, his dilemma starts to seem postively enjoyable.

Until the hellion vents her fury...on him!

Detesting the scandalous match that will end all her chances of making a respectable marriage, Lizzie can't abide living intimately with a fugitive nobleman bent on seducing her and then running off. But in teaching her the pleasures of a wife's duties, Jack sparks within them both a passion that will make him wish he could stay with Lizzie for longer than a year and a day...

Read an Excerpt

Review:

I was eagerly anticipating this new series from Julia London, because I am a highland romance junkie. I mean what’s not to love, men in kilts, the oftentimes romantic Gaelic language, the raw beauty of the landscape, and did I mention men in kilts…I think you get the picture. I have read many of Ms. London’s romances, and have never been disappointed…until now. When I read the teaser line “You deserve to know what it is like to be wholly seduced” I thought, “wow”, which unfortunately turned into more of a “huh”.

I’m not going to go into much into detail about the book, because frankly the blurb on the back cover pretty much covers it all. It wasn’t until I got to about page two hundred, that the story final started to become somewhat interesting, but even then their story wasn’t scandalous. It all seemed like words on a page, and most of them forgettable. The emotions and the characters of Jack and Lizzie never really seemed to come alive for me. I thought the story might become more interesting when it is revealed that Jack’s father was an emotional and physical abuser, and Jack fears becoming like him. Yet very little is done with this fact. Lizzie is “almost” engaged to another man, but she and her almost fiancĂ© give each other up without too much thought, or guilt. The few romantic scenes came off to me more “cheesy” than heartfelt declarations of love. But the biggest revealing disappointment for me was the moment Jack decides to appeal to the king on Lizzie's behalf, knowing by doing so he could be sent to his death. This kind of sacrifice almost always gets to me (we're talking major tears and heaving sobs...I'm a sucker for it), but in Highland Scandal this element failed to induce any sense of loss, or sacrifice, which is sad.

The story that I wish Julia would have written was the secondary romance between Lizzie’s handicapped sister Charlotte and the highlander sent to protect her, Newton. Charlotte was the family beauty, sophisticated and charming, with her pick of eligible and wealthy suitors, whose world came crashing to a halt after she became paralyzed from a horse riding accident. After the accident she becomes reclusive and bitter, mourns the loss of her dreams, resents the fact that she is dependant on the people that she loves, and feels guilty for being an added burden on their meager resources.

Newton is a modest highlander, who is sent to protect Charlotte when Lizzie is taken to her Uncle’s castle to become hand fasted to Jack. Despite Charlotte’s abrasiveness, a friendship blossoms between these two unlikely people, and Newton finds endearing ways to bring happiness back to her life. The reader is given very brief glimpses into their romance, but the few scenes we are gifted with are sincerely touching. I wanted more of Charlotte and Newton's romance, and less with Jack and Lizzie. Unfortunately, the epilogue written at the end of Highland Scandal concludes both love stories, so sadly we will never get to fully enjoy the more compelling love story between Charlotte and Newton, and that for me is truly scandalous.

Ratings:
Romance: 1.5 (based on Charlotte and Newtons story, otherwise would have been a goose egg 0)
Passion: 1.5
Kleenex: 1.0
Overall: 1.5

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Freebie + Extras from Karin Tabke

Wednesday, May 20


To celebrate the upcoming release of Master of Craving (May 2009), Karin Tabke and her publisher Simon and Schuster have offered a free short story, and I'm not talking a short short story (it is over 50 pages)! I am a big fan of Karin's work, both historical and contemporary! I've got mine now make sure you go get yours :)







Master of Craving


Eight mercenary knights, each of them base born, each of them bound by unspeakable torture in a Saracen prison, each of them branded with the mark of the sword for life. Each of their destinies marked by a woman.


‘Twas whispered along the Marches the demon knights who rode upon black horses donned in black mail wielding black swords would slay any man, woman or child who dared look upon them. ‘Twas whispered their loyalty was only to the other and no man could split them asunder, nor was there enough gold or silver in the kingdom to buy their oath. ‘Twas well known each of them was touched not by the hand of God but by Lucifer himself.


‘Twas also whispered, but only by the bravest of souls, that each Blood Sword was destined to find only one woman in all of Christendom who would bear him and only him sons, and until that one woman was found, he would battle and ravage the land...


…but the darkest secret whispered was that there was one among them whose violent craving for the one woman he could not have would be the spark that would set an entire region on fire, and nearly bring down a kingdom, with the aftermath to be felt for the next thousand years.





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Tuesday, May 19

STRONG, SILENT TYPE by Lorelei James


Contemporary Erotic Romance
May 5, 2009
Samhain Publishing
ISBN: 9781605045214

Buy the ebook:

Amazon
Books on Board
My Bookstore and More (MBaM)




From the publisher:

..Tough. Taciturn. And a fool for letting her go…

Wyoming rancher Quinn McKay thought he’d only have to bide time until his levelheaded wife came to her senses and called a halt to this “trial separation”. He never believed the marital rough patch would drag on for a coon’s age.

Libby McKay knew when she married the gruff, laid-back cowboy that he wasn’t prone to blathering about his feelings. But three months have passed and her stubborn-as-a-mule husband is still living by himself in the horse trailer. It seems he’d rather hold onto his pride than hold onto her.

Quinn realizes Libby is determined to move on if he doesn’t loosen his tongue and he’ll lose the only woman he’s ever loved. In a last-ditch effort to keep her in his life, he offers her one weekend of uninterrupted sexual decadence.

Reigniting the passion is easy. The hard part comes after the sheets have cooled and they find out if what remains is strong enough to survive past mistakes.

Warning: Old-fashioned groveling leads to smokin’ hot sexual encounters—steamin’ up the truck windows, rockin’ the horse trailer—proving even an old married dog can learn naughty new tricks.




Review:

This novella is about so much more than the brief summary by the publisher, and frankly doesn’t even begin to do this piece justice.

Quinn and Libby were high school sweethearts who knew they were meant for each other, and were each others first, for everything. Over the years, as is wont to happen in a long term relationship, misconceptions, misconstrued actions or words, and unsaid feelings can take their toll on what is perceived by everyone as a happy couple. Throw in familial obligations, perceptions on what the “perfect wife”, or “provider” should act like, be like, look like, and the pressure of starting a family added into the mix and it is a recipe for disaster, i.e. divorce.

Neither Quinn, nor Libby want to take this final step to end their once “ideal” relationship, but struggle to find a way to reinvent who they are now, not what they once were, or think they should be to the other person, but Libby fears divorce may be the only solution.

Quinn proposes to share one weekend where he and Libby focus on their relationship, and try to reignite the passion they used to have in their marriage. They are forced to face how they each contributed to the downfall of their marriage, and realize they are not the people they used to be, and no longer need to hide part of themselves from each other.

The love scenes are indeed “smokin’ hot” and are just what you would come to expect from a Lorelei James novel, and the good news is that even though this is a novella, the reader is in no way short changed in this regard. Quinn and Libby’s story is emotionally compelling and will resonate to anyone, especially those who are in long term relationships. As an added bonus readers will get brief glimpses into the lives of the MacKay family that they have come to know and love.

This novella is a gem, and is so much more than an erotic romance. It is worth EVERY. SINGLE. PENNY! Believe me I don’t say this lightly because I tend to be a bit frugal.

Side note: If you have never read a Lorelei James Rough Riders novel I highly recommend them. They can each stand be read alone, however since they do revolve around one family, they are better when read as a series.


Ratings:

Romance: 4.5
Passion: 4.0

Kleenex: 3.0

Overall: 4.5


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Nauti Dreams Giveaway


If you don't already know I am a HUGE Lora Leigh fan! So I will do just about anything to spread the love. Dottie over at My Blog 2.0 will be giving away a copy of this great read. To enter, just leave a comment on her blog using this link : Contest-Nauti Dreams-Lora Leigh, but hurry the contest ends 5/22/09. Please see her site for all of the rules and disclaimers.



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Her Ladyship's Companion Giveaway

Monday, May 11



I don't know about you, but I am beyond excited about this book by newcomer Evangeline Collins. If any of the reviews I have read are even remotely accurate, this should be a great read. To celebrate the release of this book, Happily Forever After is having a contest. You could win:


  • Grand Prize Winner will receive: $50 Gift Card to your choice of either Amazon.com or Victoria's Secret.com. A gift set from Bath & Bodyworks. A copy of Her Ladyship's Companion by Evangeline Collins, as well as a lovely jeweled book thong to match.

  • Runner Up will receive: A copy of Her Ladyship's Companion by Evangeline Collins, as well as a lovely jeweled book thong to match.
Check out Happily Ever After for contest rules, details on the giveaway, for more info about the author and the book, and an interview with Evangeline Collins.





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Glutton for Pleasure, but Hungry for More

Tuesday, May 5

GLUTTON FOR PLEASURE by Alisha Rai

Contemporary Erotic Romance
March 2009
Samhain Publishing
ISBN: 9781605044705

Buy the ebook:
My Bookstore and More (MBAM)
Books on Board








From the Publisher:

They’re craving something sweet. She likes it spicy.

Devi Malik knows how to heat things up. She does it every night as head chef in her family’s Indian restaurant. Her love life, though, is stuck in the subzero freezer. Now, with a chance to fulfill a secret fantasy with her long-time crush and his brother, it’s time to put her desire on the front two burners.

For Marcus Callahan, a love-’em-and-leave-’em attitude isn’t only a necessary evil of their kink. It’s a protective device. Lately, though, his brother Jace has been making noises about craving something more.

Jace’s dissatisfaction with their lifestyle grows with every glimpse of sweet little Devi. Yet Marcus is too haunted by the pain of their shared past to give love a chance. Despite their reputation for vanishing with the dawn, they discover one night with Devi isn’t nearly enough. And Devi finds herself falling in love with two very different men. It’ll take more than explosive sex to light up the shadows surrounding the Callahan brothers’ secrets. But Devi’s never been afraid of the dark…


Read an Excerpt


Review:

Devi is a lush, curvy, ethnic, and sheltered chef who runs a family restaurant with her two sisters Leena (the tall, beautiful, responsible and overprotective sister, and Rana (the stunningly sexy “wild child” middle sister). She has a history of picking the wrong men, and lacks confidence as a woman and her sex appeal as a result of the few failed relationships and poor choices.

Jace and Marcus are gorgeous twin brothers, one a successful lawyer, the other a successful accountant, who are notorious for their propensity to share women, but they also share a secretive and life altering past. Jace longs to find the one woman who will embrace the duo & heal Marcus’s emotional wounds, and he strongly believes that woman is Devi after seeing her in her family’s restaurant.

Devi agrees to a week long affair, but no more than that in order to avoid falling in love with them, only to have her heart broken when the duo move on to their next conquest. Little does she know that Jace has no intention of giving Devi up and is playing for keeps. During the course of their short, but sexually ravenous relationship, Devi struggles with her negative body image, Jace desperately hopes to win Devi’s love for him and his brother, and Marcus battles his own demons of the past and his need to protect his heart and his secrets.

Glutton for Pleasure has a great opening line that “had me at hello”... “Thick, firm and curved just right, the shiny red skin stretched taut over hot seed and juice. Devi Malik squeezed the turgid flesh. Perfect….”.

I thought to myself, with an opening line like that, and the way she is describing Devi’s cooking, this is going to be a really gooooood story, which is why I think I was a little disappointed at the end of the book. Devi’s cooking and culture play a minuscule role in the overall plot, and her sisters, while they appear to be important to Devi’s development as a character, play an equally small part in the overall story as well. I realize that this is an erotic romance, and that the main part of the story does, and should revolve around the hero(es) and heroine, but a really great story has supporting characters that enhance and grow the character’s development and romance story as a whole.

Alisha Rai does an excellent job of getting the reader to feel the instant attraction between Devi, Jace and Marcus, and how they overcome their personal setbacks, but fell short on telling the reader how the week long affair transforms from lust to love. Don’t get me wrong, the love scenes are steamy and passionate, and definitely embody one of the seven deadly sins J, but I just didn’t fully comprehend what made them fall in love.

There are many things that I liked about Glutton for Pleasure. I loved the characters, both the main and the secondary with all of their flaws. I just wish all of these relationships would have been more developed. I love that Devi was from an ethnic culture, but I wish this would have played a larger role in the story, especially since Ms. Rai gives the impression that it is important to Devi in a few instances. I wish that Devi’s cooking as an erotic element had played a larger role, along with her relationships with her family and her culture, as well as Jace and Marcus’s relationship with Miss Kitty.

Overall I enjoyed Glutton for Pleasure very much, despite its missed opportunities, and was engrossed throughout the entire story. All the right ingredients were present to make this “good” story, into a “great” story, but felt that it did not live up to its promising potential. I found myself hungry for more of all of these deprived elements…I guess I’m guilty of Gluttony too, and hope that Malik family will become a series.

Ratings:
Romance: 2.5
Passion: 4.0
Kleenex: 1.0
Overall: 3.5






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Book Binge: Guest Author: Lauren Dane

Monday, May 4

Lauren Dane will be a guest at Book Binge today, and will be giving away copies of not only her new release Relentless, but also Undercover, so check it out!




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My FREE Kindle Quest

I've wanted a Kindle for what seems like forever, but haven't been able to afford it (and that's saying something since I can justify the cost of just about ANYTHING that I really want). I've tried winning one in one of the many giveaways that have taken place over the couple of years, but with no luck :( So I've decided to take matters in hand so to speak :) I've now decided that I am going to accumulate enough Swagbucks from my Swabucks searches to buy one...so in essence my new Kindle will be FREE...funded entirely by my internet searches done on Swagbucks. I'll keep you informed of the Great Kindle Quest below (in case you're interested....if not feel free to just skip over this part, but really who wouldn't be interested in a FREE Kindle?)
Goal: $119
Current Swagbucks Amazon Gift Card balance: $90.00
If you'd like to learn how you can earn Swagbucks and earn your own Amazon Gift Cards to buy books, a Kindle or other merchandise sold at Amazon contact me and I would be more than happy to tell you how I plan to go about it. (just so you know you can earn both Amazon.com and Amazon.ca gift cards on this rewards site)
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