Monday, May 31, 2010

New Releases - June 2010

June seems to be a lean month. There's not many books that we're interested in, so maybe we can have time to catch up on the TBR. LOL

Here they are, our most awaited:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tairen Soul

I just happened to go to CL Wilson's website and I saw that the last book is entitled "The Crown of Crystal Flame" (instead of the original Tairen Soul) and from some online bookstores, it's due out on November 2010! Yay! But still so many months to wait...

And no cover art yet...

But oh, CL said the November 2010 is not confirmed. Or something like that. She'll post any updates on her blog though so be sure to check often! I know I will.

Friday, May 28, 2010

REVIEW: Who Will Take This Man? by Jacquie D'Alessandro

ISBN 9780060536701
Series: Prequel to Love and the Single Heiress
Genre: Historical Romance
(c) November 2003, Avon Books, Harper Collins
Jacquie D'Alessandro's website

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Link (paper): Book Depository

"Has everything you look for in a book--romance, tension, suspense"

Philip, Lord Greybourne, came home to England to marry the bride Meredith Chilton-Grizedale, the matchmaker his father hired, has chosen for him. However, he triggered a curse during his travels, as a result of which whoever became his bride was fated to die. Unless he could find the way to uncurse himself.

Meredith has worked too long and hard to allow her reputation as a matchmaker to be ruined just like that, when the match between Lord Greybourne and the daughter of a duke was called off due to the curse. So, she took it upon herself to help Lord Greybourne, never imagining that she herself would fall to his charms and become the object of the curse.

There's no one like Jacquie D'Alessandro in crafting historical romances with a touch of humor and lots and lots of sexual tension. By the time the hero and the heroine got together, I was burning along with them. The tension in this book went a touch too long, but I understood the reason, which to reveal would be a spoiler, me thinks. But seriously, I love her humor.

(I read in her website that she would have her first contemporary single title out  next year, and I'm looking forward to that, but I hope she won't abandon historicals totally.)

Unlike other historical heroines, Meredith truly has a past that has a big possibility of becoming a hindrance to stuffy, er, proper marriages among the ton, their social gap notwithstanding. Despite her upbringing, or maybe because of it, she has a compassion for the unfortunate that is credible. I also like the fact that she is not like other heroines who is determined to "adopt" each and every street child that she comes across, because I find such heroines very unrealistic and because of that, annoying.

Combined with the need to find a way to unlock the curse, there is a suspense factor involved with someone intent on hurting the people that Philip cared about. I have to admit I was gripped with the curiosity to find out who this person was. Although I have my sights set on one person, the author dropped enough clues as to confuse me that I have my doubts several times. Needless to say, I love every moment of it.

Buy Link (paper): Book Depository

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

REVIEW: Bound By Your Touch by Meredith Duran

ISBN 978-1-4165-9263-1
Genre: Historical Romance
(c) July 2009, Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster
Meredith Duran's website 

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Link: Book Depository

"Wonderful romance and a great read! Not to be missed!"

I was charmed by Meredith Duran's The Duke of Shadows. It is no wonder then that I come to read Bound By Your Touch with a lot of expectations, the least of which is that I should love this book, too.

Bound By Your Touch started with our heroine, Miss Lydia Boyce, being embarrassed in her presumptions of a gentleman's feelings who, in fact, had developed a tendre for her sister without her knowing about it. The prologue has such promise--a sympathetic heroine whom I can't help but root for, and I also anticipate the comeuppance that is sure to befall her um, "evil" sister. (However, there's no comeuppance, because Lydia is a much better person than I am.)

In the four years hence, Lydia developed a strong sense of self, all of which is tied up in her work for her father. She is clear in her feelings toward her family, in that one doesn't shy away from love when it becomes painful. Hence, it's possible to be hurt by a family member yet still continue to love him/her just the same. She has overcome certain desires (for a husband and family) when she believes she will remain a spinster and it is so wondrous to see all these get revived when she starts to fall for James, who gives her hope.

James, who portrays himself as a wastrel and lives to anger his father, is captivated by Lydia. He couldn't understand Lydia's devotion to and faith in her father, despite there being suspicions of her father being involved in a crime, as his own father had let him down very badly years ago. Yet in her, he finds himself learning about faith, and in her he finds his freedom and what he could be.

We also see a wonderful kind of parallelism between the two characters and their situations: Quiet, retiring Lydia and the effervescent playboy James, Lydia who loved her father and James who hated his, and some other stuff which are discussed in other blogs/review sites. I won't repeat them here, and all I can say is that for all the tender scenes between James and Lydia, this book is worth a read. I especially like the one wherein Lydia was declaring her father's innocence and yet, despite herself, doubt was creeping in. To prove her claim, she has to break a stone figure with a hammer. There was a wordless communication between the two of them--with James knowing somehow what was going on in her head, and Lydia knew this--and with every strike, she finds it harder and harder to hold onto her faith at the same time her physical body was tiring. Until finally, James came behind her and lent her his strength, that they were going to do it "together". It was a powerful scene in terms of the emotions it evoked in me.

Bound By Your Touch has its own appeal over The Duke of Shadows, and in my opinion, BBYT could be better than DoS overall because of the heroine. Then again, I was only charmed in the first half of DoS.

Buy Link (paper): Book Depository

Friday, May 14, 2010

REVIEW: Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

ISBN 9780451219367
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 3
Genre: Paranormal Romance
(c) September 2006, Signet Eclipse, Penguin Putnam
J.R. Ward's website 

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Link (paper): Book Depository

"The best and most romantic BDB book!"

Zsadist was stolen as a baby and became a blood slave for a woman who sexually abused him. He cut himself off from everyone and tolerated only his twin brother, Phury. However, when he met Bella, she got under his skin and when she was taken by the lessers, he couldn't rest until he rescued her or avenged her death.

Zsadist could rival Mary (Lover Eternal) in terms of insecurity. For him though, it was because he'd been abused and he thought of himself as dirty and contaminated and not worthy of a woman such as Bella. He is the most tormented, fucked-up hero that I've ever read thus far and of the three (Wrath, Rhage and Zsadist), I love Zsadist the best. He certainly got under my skin. I think it's the contrast between his being the strong, powerful warrior outwardly and the vulnerable, hurt, abused man that he was on the inside. Yet, his love for Bella made him reach out to her, and it also made him want to be better and worthy of her (according to his concept of "better" and "worthy").

And Bella, I just gotta love her for seeing the man beneath Zsadist's outward appearance, for being steadfast in her wanting of him despite his pushing her away almost every time and simply, for bearing with him, for working with him through all his issues, knowing that the road ahead of them wasn't easy.

There is no doubt this is one of the most romantic stories I've read where the roles are reversed--the hero needing rescue (psychologically, emotionally) and the heroine being his saving grace. I love the epilogue and I'm itching to read the novella of Zsadist, Bella and Nalla in the Inside Guide. I absolutely love the title: Father Mine. There's something so powerful about Zsadist's growth from a sick, tormented man to one who is loved and is capable of loving, not only with the woman who is his mate but also with his child. I guess it's because it's telling us a message of hope, that no matter how low you've fallen, there is always a chance you'll rise up from the ashes.

I just have to mention Phury. His actions left me with nothing to say. I was both astounded and shocked and humbled. Like Zsadist, I feel Phury deserved his own HEA. I can't wait until I get to his book!

And we have more on John Matthew. I love his scenes with Tohr and Wellsie and the way he treasures the family life he's come to have with them. They're moving without being mushy. I also like the way we see how he fares at school and how he relates to his peers. He's the underdog and it's nice to see the brothers standing up for him. However, I would love to see the day when John Matthew stands up for himself.

Oh, and the tragedy in this book. Sad, sad, sad.

Another thing I have to mention is that I love the continuity in this series, that there's an overall story arc at play here. The series is not just a number of books about these warriors finding the love of their loves, but you get the sense that time is really moving onward for the characters. We see this in the little things: Wrath, having ascended as king, is bringing back the old ways, firstly in the celebration of the winter solstice festival. John's change of circumstances, from living in that squalid apartment to living with Tohr and going to school. Even the villains, the power play among them, contributed to this.

Great book. Lots of romantic and emotion-charged moments, and I love them. The series is certainly looking up!

Buy Link (paper): Book Depository

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

REVIEW: Another Dream, Another Reality by Mechele Armstrong

ISBN 978-1-60737-533-3
Series: sequel to Another Night, Another Dream
Genre: Erotic Romance, Menage a Trois
(c) February 2010, Loose Id
Mechele Armstrong's website

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links (ebook): Loose Id, Fictionwise

"A must-read sequel!"

Some months have passed since the events in the stairwell. Cassie, Aiden and Leopold have set up house together. Well, at least Aiden and Leopold have, because Cassie has so far resisted moving into Aiden's home. Moreover, she's not fully into the relationship as the men are, and she's afraid that her officemates and landlady would know of her unique situation and judge her. There's also the matter of her job at the law firm. Aiden, meanwhile, is having problems of his own concentrating on his schoolwork, as he tries to divide time between homework and his lovers.

This sequel to Another Night, Another Dream looks into the problems the characters face as they try to make their menage a trois work. I think too few of the menages out there touch on this realistic situation, such as how would a person deal with being in a menage while living in a predominantly couple-oriented society? Especially a person like Cassie, whose work rely on her having a traditional image. I guess, the real question here is: Would the love she feels for Aiden and Leopold be able to enable her to overcome her reservations and make her ready and willing to take the plunge? How would love and being in a menage a trois affect and change each one of them?

I really enjoyed Mechele Armstrong's take on this situation, and I feel the resolution of the questions is realistic and achievable. Though it only merited a one-line mention, I especially like the way they help Aiden with his homework. This would have been a very delicious scene, I think. I originally thought that since Cassie worked in a law firm and Aiden is taking up law, the eventual solution would be for them to open a company together, but no, Ms. Armstrong surprised me in this. It's great to see the characters changing and evolving and growing in this story, but this in no way detracted from the hot chemistry among them. If anything, it's gotten even hotter and their passion simply sizzles off the pages, especially with that light bondage scene.

Buy Link (ebook): Loose Id, Fictionwise

Sunday, May 9, 2010

REVIEW: Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

ISBN 978-0-425-22420-5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
(c) October 2008, Berkley Sensation, Berkley Publishing Group

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Link (paper): Book Depository

"Sly humor and witty conversation abound! Not to be missed!"

I've already read Practice Makes Perfect, so I have high expectations for this book. Which may be unfair, since each book should be judged according to its own merit.

Julie James delivered the same sly humor and witty conversation in this book, together with a gorgeous, sexy hero and a strong heroine with baggage of her own. For those who absolutely hated head-hopping, I'm sorry to say there are some of it here, but it wasn't a problem for me, as I wasn't confused by the sudden shifts. (Because I do hate head-hopping only when I become confused as to who did/said what.)

Taylor Donovan was sent to Los Angeles (from the Chicago office) to work on a certain case, and while she was there, she was asked by her boss to coach Jason Andrews who acted the part of a lawyer in his next film. The firm decided to grant Jason this favor because they hope to get his business, and because Taylor is angling for a partnership in the firm, she had no choice but to agree.

Jason Andrews is a sexy, highly-sought after actor, and because of this, he's arrogant and doesn't give a shit about anyone. Which is why, he callously disregarded the appointment his assistant had made with Taylor, for the reason that he wanted to go to Vegas with his friend. It was hard to like Jason at first because of his attitude, although he's probably not acting that much different from anyone who's in his position. When he finally deigned to make a visit to the courtroom where he heard his "trainer" was, he was captivated by her because she didn't grovel at his feet. She was refreshingly different from the other women in his life.

Taylor who lives by her brain and believes in being logical, has to take quite a leap of faith in love, given her past. She thought her ex-fiance had changed his womanizing ways, only to learn that he'd been cheating on her all along. She has the same fear with Jason, who is even a bigger womanizer than her ex-fiance. So, toward the end, though she made a leap of faith, it was a leap made on sustainable proof and evidence, as one would expect of a lawyer. Though she's likeable as a heroine, she didn't make that much an impression on me like Payton (Practice Makes Perfect).

I didn't like Jason at first, but this sentiment shifted as he showed a willingness to change his attitude and behavior due to his feelings for Taylor. I also like the moments of vulnerability that Jason exhibited toward the end, his uncertainty and hurt. Underneath all the glitter and flashy wealth, he is like any other man faced with the possibility of losing the only woman he ever loved.

Overall, the whole concept of a gorgeous, sexy, wealthy actor falling in love with a nobody lawyer (who's beautiful and hot!) from Chicago is thrilling and every woman's fantasy. I'm not a lawyer and I've never worked in a law firm, yet it took a lot of suspension of disbelief for me to believe that a senior associate the caliber of Taylor (who's up in line for a partnership) would be called on to coach Jason through his movie scenes for realism when she's in the middle of an important case, even if the firm is angling to get Jason's business, and when there could be other associates who could be called upon for the job. But once you get past that, the book's an enjoyable read.

Buy Link (paper): Book Depository

Friday, May 7, 2010

REVIEW: Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

ISBN 978-0-451-21804-9
Series: Guardians of Eternity, Book 2
Genre: Paranormal Romance
(c) March 2006, Signet Eclipse, Penguin Group
J.R. Ward's website

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Link (paper): Book Depository

"A great improvement over Dark Lover! Lover Eternal makes me a solid fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood!" 

I've said that there was nothing remarkable about Dark Lover, but I sure can't say the same for Lover Eternal. From the moment Rhage met Mary, I was hooked and caught. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. J.R. Ward is truly a remarkable author in the way she was able to get me to be invested in her characters. She is also very good at twisting the characters' emotions (like when Rhage was first rejected by Mary) and making me feel his hurt and her insecurity.

Rhage was so sweet as he tried to court Mary in a way that wouldn't alarm her. I like his persistence in pursuing her, despite her "rejection" (sort of) of him, and I like the way he treated her with care, the way he savored her. There was something very tender and precious about the start of their relationship, like the slow blossoming of flowers, specifically in their first dinner scene and later on, when he went to her house.

And Mary...Mary was so very human--her insecurities, her fears, her panic and her incredulity that a gorgeous guy like Rhage would be interested in her. It is so easy to identify with her and feel with her and for her. Yet, she is also amazingly brave in face of her sickness and in protecting people she cared about. So unselfish. I especially like the way Rhage described her eyes: "Gunmetal gray, surrounded by lashes the color of her hair, they were grave, serious, reminding him of males who fought and survived battle. They were staggeringly beautiful in their strength." Truly, despite Mary's insecurities, she is a warrior and a fitting mate to Rhage.

However, I was frustrated with her insecurities by the last one or two times (it went on way too long at the expense of Rhage's feelings) and she started to be annoying, especially with the way she hurt Rhage with her comments. I would've thrown down the book were I not felt compelled to know how it turned out in the end for them. But the scene after she pushed Rhage away and he came after her at Bella's farm house and she stoically held on to her position and Rhage turned away, ready to leave her....when she ran after him and his arms came slowly around her...sigh. Good sigh.

Rhage did something in the middle of the book that would've broken any woman's heart, especially one who was in love with him. I tried to understand why he did what he did, and the most I could come up with was because he cared too much about Mary to hurt her. Yet, at the same time, he was also in a quandary. Whatever he did or did not do, he would be hurting her. I feel that he needed to go through it to realize he was never going to do it again, that it was unbearable for him, that it also hurt him. He also seemed to accept his feelings for Mary after that, that whatever she hurled at him, he would still continue to love her and stay by her side (instead of leaving the way he did previous times).

And oh, of course, I'm totally curious and eager to know what's gonna happen to John Matthew. (Can't wait for Lover Mine. I love it when I start a series late, so now I have all the next books to look forward to without having to wait!) He should be Darius come back to life, isn't he? But why is "Tehrror" the name that he dreamed of?

And with this book, I'm solidly a fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. *grin*

Buy Link (paper): Book Depository

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sarah Mayberry Madness

After reading 1/3 of the way through Below the Belt and the recommendations of great pals like E.H> and Scorpio M, I went to Book Depository and lo and behold! They have the following books on sale and of course, I snatched them up immediately!

Of course, not that I have Hot for Him, I gotta have the other two in the trilogy: Take on Me and All Over You. The hunt continues...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Blaze Madness

I've heard so much about Sarah Mayberry that I went out and had a spree! Got the following books that I could find on online and used bookstores:

Oh, and I might be getting Anything for You as a gift...but we'll have to wait and see. *grin* Love the "friends to lovers" stories, which is the reason I really really really gotta have Anything for You and Her Best Friend.

And, okay, one of them was a Super Romance, not a Blaze. After I finish my current book, I'm reading Cruise Control!

Anyway, while I was at the bookstore, I saw two Cara Summers stories that caught my eye! Well, the back teaser certainly did. Hope the stories are good reads!

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