July 11, 2012 / 8:25AM 6 notes

Scandal Wears Satin, by Loretta Chase
A NEW CHASE! A NEW CHASE! SING PRAISE TO THE HEAVENS, THERE IS A NEW CHASE!
Not only that, it is a continuation of her fabulously fabulous dressmaker series, which began last year with Silk is for Seduction. Are you ready for dress porn? Are you ready to read about sleeve puffs and chemises and luxurious materials and colors and the mechanics of dressmaking? ME TOO.
Well, okay, one thing I should tell you is that since this book doesn’t star Marcelline, the design queen of London’s most faaaabulous dress shop, Maison Noirot, we’re not going to get as much dress porn. Yeah, I’m sad too. And there’s a cute kid, but he’s not as great as Marcelline’s daughter, and not as prominently featured. So there’s all of that!
But, if we’re going to talk about old Chases, it must be said that Harry, the Earl of Longmore, definitely resembles everybody’s all-time favorite brawler, RUPERT CARSINGTON. I know, I was delighted.
However, in the midst of being delighted, I was a bit less-than-delighted to realize that much of the plot and many of the characters seemed a bit - and it pains me to say this about La Chase - recycled. I’m sorry. I have to be honest.
Sophy Noirot is the scheming sister of the Noirot trio, and if you read and enjoyed Last Night’s Scandal, you might find echoes of Olivia Wingate-Carsington. Sophy and Olivia are distantly related, as a matter of fact, but that’s not quite a great reason to have so many similarities between the two. Like Olivia, Sophy is a skilled deceiver and an unparalleled trickster, and she’s always Up to No Good.
So of course Sophy Noirot and the rakish Earl of Longmore (I have to admit the schemer-brawler pairing was a new one for me) have to get together to save one thing or another and help the Earl’s sister, the recently-spurned Clara, ditch her grody fiancee and save the shop and whatever else needs saving in this particular novel.
To repeat a tired simile (and repetition seems to be the theme of this review), Loretta Chase is a lot like pizza - even when she’s not great, she’s still pretty damn good. This is not her best work. It’s not as good as Silk is for Seduction. But it’s fun! There’s enough wonderful dress descriptions to keep you from side-eyeing too hard. It’s not exactly a sturdy, filling romance, but it’s a perfect beach read (or at least it’s what a hastily-researched magazine blurb would call “a perfect beach read”). Worth it, but it’s because Loretta Chase always is.

Scandal Wears Satin, by Loretta Chase

A NEW CHASE! A NEW CHASE! SING PRAISE TO THE HEAVENS, THERE IS A NEW CHASE!

Not only that, it is a continuation of her fabulously fabulous dressmaker series, which began last year with Silk is for Seduction. Are you ready for dress porn? Are you ready to read about sleeve puffs and chemises and luxurious materials and colors and the mechanics of dressmaking? ME TOO.

Well, okay, one thing I should tell you is that since this book doesn’t star Marcelline, the design queen of London’s most faaaabulous dress shop, Maison Noirot, we’re not going to get as much dress porn. Yeah, I’m sad too. And there’s a cute kid, but he’s not as great as Marcelline’s daughter, and not as prominently featured. So there’s all of that!

But, if we’re going to talk about old Chases, it must be said that Harry, the Earl of Longmore, definitely resembles everybody’s all-time favorite brawler, RUPERT CARSINGTON. I know, I was delighted.

However, in the midst of being delighted, I was a bit less-than-delighted to realize that much of the plot and many of the characters seemed a bit - and it pains me to say this about La Chase - recycled. I’m sorry. I have to be honest.

Sophy Noirot is the scheming sister of the Noirot trio, and if you read and enjoyed Last Night’s Scandal, you might find echoes of Olivia Wingate-Carsington. Sophy and Olivia are distantly related, as a matter of fact, but that’s not quite a great reason to have so many similarities between the two. Like Olivia, Sophy is a skilled deceiver and an unparalleled trickster, and she’s always Up to No Good.

So of course Sophy Noirot and the rakish Earl of Longmore (I have to admit the schemer-brawler pairing was a new one for me) have to get together to save one thing or another and help the Earl’s sister, the recently-spurned Clara, ditch her grody fiancee and save the shop and whatever else needs saving in this particular novel.

To repeat a tired simile (and repetition seems to be the theme of this review), Loretta Chase is a lot like pizza - even when she’s not great, she’s still pretty damn good. This is not her best work. It’s not as good as Silk is for Seduction. But it’s fun! There’s enough wonderful dress descriptions to keep you from side-eyeing too hard. It’s not exactly a sturdy, filling romance, but it’s a perfect beach read (or at least it’s what a hastily-researched magazine blurb would call “a perfect beach read”). Worth it, but it’s because Loretta Chase always is.

loretta chasesilk is for seductionscandal wears satindressmaker seriesromance novelsbookslitreviews

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March 14, 2012 / 8:51PM 10 notes

A Few Words on the Alpha and Omega Series, by Patricia Briggs 
This is a werewolf romance series. There is basically no new ground to cover in a werewolf romance series, but Patricia Briggs does a pretty good job of refreshing the genre enough to make this worth reading. I waited for probably a year for the third book in the series to come out, if that says anything. You probably know Ms. Briggs from her Mercy Thompson series, who if I remember correctly is a coyote shifter somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and I read the first book of that series and was like, yeah okay whatever, and I didn’t feel the need to continue (though the Alpha and Omega books have a bit of overlap and the latest book indicated that Mercy hooked up with someone verrry interesting). 
The Alpha and Omega series is a lot more appealing to me personally, since I’m a sucker for alpha heroes, and the dude in this series, Charles, is basically one of the highest alphas to ever alpha. He’s half Native American and half Welsh, and his father is the leader of all North American werewolves. Charles himself is the pack’s executioner and justice dealer. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, and he’s almost unbeatable. 
So, as it always goes in these kinds of books, he’s paired with his opposite. Charles finds Anna, a newly-changed werewolf, after she calls for help. Her pack alpha has gone insane, the rest of the pack has not fared much better. Anna, considered the most submissive wolf of the pack, has been horribly abused by her leaders. So she’s mistrustful of all people, not to mention men, double not to mention scary men like Charles.
Charles meets Anna, and he pretty quickly figures out that she’s not a submissive wolf, she’s actually something called an Omega wolf. In Briggs’ universe, Omega wolves are the counterpoint to the Alpha wolves. They are neither dominant nor submissive and they’re a sort of soothing emotional presence for all other wolves. It’s hard to explain, and I’m not doing a very good job, but it makes sense the way Briggs presents it. 
Series that follow one couple through multiple books obviously hinge on the strength of that couple, and in my mind, Anna and Charles get a solid A. They’re very different (… obviously), but their pairing is very sweet and steamy enough to keep it interesting but slow enough that it’s believable, particularly given Anna’s past. 
The books all involve a standalone mystery of some kind, and this is another aspect that I really enjoy. I looove a good procedural, and the fact that there’s a romance involved makes these books a rich treat for me. 
The third book, Fair Game, came out last week, and admittedly it was not as strong as the first two. I’m starting to wonder if one SHOULD read the Mercy Thompson series to fully appreciate the Alpha and Omega series, and the ending was rather rushed and was sort of clumsily paving the way for another book. 
That said, I guess I’ll be waiting however long it takes to read the next one. 

A Few Words on the Alpha and Omega Series, by Patricia Briggs

This is a werewolf romance series. There is basically no new ground to cover in a werewolf romance series, but Patricia Briggs does a pretty good job of refreshing the genre enough to make this worth reading. I waited for probably a year for the third book in the series to come out, if that says anything. You probably know Ms. Briggs from her Mercy Thompson series, who if I remember correctly is a coyote shifter somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and I read the first book of that series and was like, yeah okay whatever, and I didn’t feel the need to continue (though the Alpha and Omega books have a bit of overlap and the latest book indicated that Mercy hooked up with someone verrry interesting).

The Alpha and Omega series is a lot more appealing to me personally, since I’m a sucker for alpha heroes, and the dude in this series, Charles, is basically one of the highest alphas to ever alpha. He’s half Native American and half Welsh, and his father is the leader of all North American werewolves. Charles himself is the pack’s executioner and justice dealer. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, and he’s almost unbeatable.

So, as it always goes in these kinds of books, he’s paired with his opposite. Charles finds Anna, a newly-changed werewolf, after she calls for help. Her pack alpha has gone insane, the rest of the pack has not fared much better. Anna, considered the most submissive wolf of the pack, has been horribly abused by her leaders. So she’s mistrustful of all people, not to mention men, double not to mention scary men like Charles.

Charles meets Anna, and he pretty quickly figures out that she’s not a submissive wolf, she’s actually something called an Omega wolf. In Briggs’ universe, Omega wolves are the counterpoint to the Alpha wolves. They are neither dominant nor submissive and they’re a sort of soothing emotional presence for all other wolves. It’s hard to explain, and I’m not doing a very good job, but it makes sense the way Briggs presents it. 

Series that follow one couple through multiple books obviously hinge on the strength of that couple, and in my mind, Anna and Charles get a solid A. They’re very different (… obviously), but their pairing is very sweet and steamy enough to keep it interesting but slow enough that it’s believable, particularly given Anna’s past. 

The books all involve a standalone mystery of some kind, and this is another aspect that I really enjoy. I looove a good procedural, and the fact that there’s a romance involved makes these books a rich treat for me. 

The third book, Fair Game, came out last week, and admittedly it was not as strong as the first two. I’m starting to wonder if one SHOULD read the Mercy Thompson series to fully appreciate the Alpha and Omega series, and the ending was rather rushed and was sort of clumsily paving the way for another book. 

That said, I guess I’ll be waiting however long it takes to read the next one. 

patricia briggsalpha and omegacry wolfhunting groundsfair gamemercy thompsonbooksreviewslitromance novelsparanormal romance

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March 8, 2012 / 9:49PM 9 notes

Timeless by Gail Carriger
So when was the last time you finished a series and felt completely satisfied by the last book? Oh, yeah. And I guess the series I read before that one ended pretty well. Okay you know what, are there ANY standalone romance novels anymore? 
Anyways. That is not the subject at hand.
Gail Carriger did a pretty great job with the Parasol Protectorate series. The first book, Soulless, is an exceptionally good paranormal romance. The rest of the books sort of zig zag back and forth between being okay and being GREAT and pretty good and then we’ve got this one, which is pretty good, but Gail Carriger even when she’s not at her best is still a highly enjoyable and amusing read. She writes in highly stylized but very jokey prose, and I probably cracked at least one smile on every page. 
In this book, Alexia Maccon, her husband, her daughter Prudence (who is an excellent character, btdubs), and a collection of actors go to Egypt for reasons that are way spoilery. Back in London, all of your old favorites investigate a murder (well, Lord Akeldama mostly watches and says italicsy things). Gail Carriger has always been LGBT-friendly, and I’m happy to share that there’s a M/M secondary romance that is very sweet. 
The end is a bit of a clusterfuck as Ms. Carriger ties together just about every loose end dangling throughout the whole series, but it’s a witty clusterfuck and in the end it’s tied up in a big fancy ribbon and served with tea and assorted pastries. 
There are no surprises here, but it’s light, relaxing reading and an airy finish to a lovely series. 

Timeless by Gail Carriger

So when was the last time you finished a series and felt completely satisfied by the last book? Oh, yeah. And I guess the series I read before that one ended pretty well. Okay you know what, are there ANY standalone romance novels anymore? 

Anyways. That is not the subject at hand.

Gail Carriger did a pretty great job with the Parasol Protectorate series. The first book, Soulless, is an exceptionally good paranormal romance. The rest of the books sort of zig zag back and forth between being okay and being GREAT and pretty good and then we’ve got this one, which is pretty good, but Gail Carriger even when she’s not at her best is still a highly enjoyable and amusing read. She writes in highly stylized but very jokey prose, and I probably cracked at least one smile on every page. 

In this book, Alexia Maccon, her husband, her daughter Prudence (who is an excellent character, btdubs), and a collection of actors go to Egypt for reasons that are way spoilery. Back in London, all of your old favorites investigate a murder (well, Lord Akeldama mostly watches and says italicsy things). Gail Carriger has always been LGBT-friendly, and I’m happy to share that there’s a M/M secondary romance that is very sweet. 

The end is a bit of a clusterfuck as Ms. Carriger ties together just about every loose end dangling throughout the whole series, but it’s a witty clusterfuck and in the end it’s tied up in a big fancy ribbon and served with tea and assorted pastries. 

There are no surprises here, but it’s light, relaxing reading and an airy finish to a lovely series. 

Gail Carrigerparasol protectorateparanormal romancesteampuktimelessbooksreviewslit

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February 28, 2012 / 10:37PM 10 notes

Shadowfever (and thoughts on the whole Fever series) by Karen Marie Moning
Phew. Picture me whistling right here, because this was one hell of a book, and one hell of a paranormal romance series. 
For those of you just joining us, you should probably go back to the first book and start reading there, because this is one of those series that is one big story spread across five books, and the last book is over 500 pages. It was long, sure, but I think I read this book even faster than my #1 Paranormal Romance Boyfriend Book, Lothaire.  
Okay, sorry, tangent. For those of you just joining us, MacKayla Lane journeys to Ireland to investigate the brutal murder of her sister and finds out that she’s part of an ancient line of sidhe-seers (people who can see fae) and oh, there are fae, and also one of them is an incredibly sexy prince who kind of goes Edward Cullen over her, then she falls in with an EVEN SEXIER AND MORE MYSTERIOUS bookstore owner named Jericho Barrons. These books are erotic (there’s no other word, I’m sorry, one day I’ll go into why I hate that word, but that’s what it is) even though sex doesn’t appear until the very end of the third book and even then it’s NOT what you’re hoping for. They’re exciting, and they’re well-written. This series has about twenty important characters, more recurring characters, and an incredibly convoluted and complicated plot BUT it’s still easy to follow. 
Can you tell I finished this book today? I’m still in gush phase. I JUST COULD NOT WAIT, YOU GUYS. 
MacKayla is a terrific character. She’s believable. Throughout the series, she made decisions that, even if I wouldn’t have made them myself, I understood. Even though she starts the series as naive and overly perky, she never once veered into Too Stupid To Live territory. 
Barrons … well, I gotta be straight with you. He can be a total asshole. He can be creepy. He is most definitely an alpha dude. If that floats your boat (I say, “Anchors away, Captain!”), then you’ll enjoy it. If you are really NOT into alpha dudes, stay far, far faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrr away because basically every dude in this paranormal world is BRVTAL. 
The worldbuilding is terrific. It’s not as seamless and gorgeous as, say, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and there are times when it gets a bit infodumpy, especially in the last book. There’s a few scenes where villains do that whole movie villain thing where they wax their mustaches and say “DON’T YOU WANT TO KNOW EXACTLY HOW BRILLIANT MY EEEEVIL PLAN WAS?” But at the end of the day, Moning did a great job of incorporating fairies (or faeries, I guess) into modern Dublin, and an even better job after something INCREDIBLY SPOLIERY SO I WON’T SAY IT happens. 
There are times when the writing is strained, and there are a few metaphors that are just BAD (the peacock who’s lost its feathers and grown claws was a particularly clunky one), and there are points where something SUPER EXCITING happens and there’s a chapter break and some narrative introspection before we pick up the action again, and can I just say, that is a terrible writing device and let’s all send it back to Satan and whatever terrible thriller novels he’s writing in Hell and shipping up to Dan Brown. 
Still, I’d say this is a stellar paranormal romance series. There are 600+ Amazon reviews and also a FeverCon and people apparently love this series so much they get Fever-inspired tattoos on their body, so I can say that I am officially late to the game on this one. I’m kind of glad, because I didn’t have to wait a year or more between books, and since the series is really one long story it helps to have a clear memory of what happened in the last book. 
On the other hand, her next book isn’t coming out until Halloween. God dammit, what am I supposed to do until then? Someone talk me out of ordering $30 Fever-themed tarot cards. 

Shadowfever (and thoughts on the whole Fever series) by Karen Marie Moning

Phew. Picture me whistling right here, because this was one hell of a book, and one hell of a paranormal romance series. 

For those of you just joining us, you should probably go back to the first book and start reading there, because this is one of those series that is one big story spread across five books, and the last book is over 500 pages. It was long, sure, but I think I read this book even faster than my #1 Paranormal Romance Boyfriend Book, Lothaire.  

Okay, sorry, tangent. For those of you just joining us, MacKayla Lane journeys to Ireland to investigate the brutal murder of her sister and finds out that she’s part of an ancient line of sidhe-seers (people who can see fae) and oh, there are fae, and also one of them is an incredibly sexy prince who kind of goes Edward Cullen over her, then she falls in with an EVEN SEXIER AND MORE MYSTERIOUS bookstore owner named Jericho Barrons. These books are erotic (there’s no other word, I’m sorry, one day I’ll go into why I hate that word, but that’s what it is) even though sex doesn’t appear until the very end of the third book and even then it’s NOT what you’re hoping for. They’re exciting, and they’re well-written. This series has about twenty important characters, more recurring characters, and an incredibly convoluted and complicated plot BUT it’s still easy to follow. 

Can you tell I finished this book today? I’m still in gush phase. I JUST COULD NOT WAIT, YOU GUYS. 

MacKayla is a terrific character. She’s believable. Throughout the series, she made decisions that, even if I wouldn’t have made them myself, I understood. Even though she starts the series as naive and overly perky, she never once veered into Too Stupid To Live territory. 

Barrons … well, I gotta be straight with you. He can be a total asshole. He can be creepy. He is most definitely an alpha dude. If that floats your boat (I say, “Anchors away, Captain!”), then you’ll enjoy it. If you are really NOT into alpha dudes, stay far, far faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrr away because basically every dude in this paranormal world is BRVTAL. 

The worldbuilding is terrific. It’s not as seamless and gorgeous as, say, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and there are times when it gets a bit infodumpy, especially in the last book. There’s a few scenes where villains do that whole movie villain thing where they wax their mustaches and say “DON’T YOU WANT TO KNOW EXACTLY HOW BRILLIANT MY EEEEVIL PLAN WAS?” But at the end of the day, Moning did a great job of incorporating fairies (or faeries, I guess) into modern Dublin, and an even better job after something INCREDIBLY SPOLIERY SO I WON’T SAY IT happens. 

There are times when the writing is strained, and there are a few metaphors that are just BAD (the peacock who’s lost its feathers and grown claws was a particularly clunky one), and there are points where something SUPER EXCITING happens and there’s a chapter break and some narrative introspection before we pick up the action again, and can I just say, that is a terrible writing device and let’s all send it back to Satan and whatever terrible thriller novels he’s writing in Hell and shipping up to Dan Brown. 

Still, I’d say this is a stellar paranormal romance series. There are 600+ Amazon reviews and also a FeverCon and people apparently love this series so much they get Fever-inspired tattoos on their body, so I can say that I am officially late to the game on this one. I’m kind of glad, because I didn’t have to wait a year or more between books, and since the series is really one long story it helps to have a clear memory of what happened in the last book. 

On the other hand, her next book isn’t coming out until Halloween. God dammit, what am I supposed to do until then? Someone talk me out of ordering $30 Fever-themed tarot cards

fever serieskaren marie moningparanormal romanceshadowfeverbookslitreviews

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February 20, 2012 / 6:04PM 1 note

Key of Knowledge by Nora Roberts
Ali bought the Key Trilogy, so rather than give a review (I’ll save that for when I finish Book 3), here’s a text conversation we had complaining about it.
Ali: OMG I forgot how terrible the art is. SO. BAD.
RC: They’re all STUNNED by [painter’s] talent!!!
Ali: I just read the part where Malory dreams about being an artist. Mermaids? Really? [Ed note: She has a dream where she envisions all of the paintings that could have been, and it includes paintings of MERMAIDS. Really!]
Ali: I guess that passes for art in small-town Pennsylvania?
RC: She just described Dana wearing a jacket made of “dull-gold tapestry fabric.”
Ali: Um, did you read her outfit from the first party at the mansion? A black, sleeveless knee-length jacket over a white top that may have been a turtleneck.
RC: BAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRFFFFF. How can you even have a sleeveless jacket? THAT IS A VEST.
Ali: The clothes are nineties hell.
RC: Also their business idea [Ed note: the three heroines decide to go into business together, and their idea is terrible.] and I hate the name.
Ali: Agreed. I would never go anywhere named Indulgence. [Ed note: Isn’t that a terrible name?]
RC: It sounds like an old lady store in a tourist town.
…
ANYWAYS. Book 2 was better, as it dealt with books more than art, and while Nora Roberts may not understand art, she certainly understands genre fiction and the main dude in this case is the writer of bestselling thrillers.
I am really looking forward to Book 3. Stay tuned!

Key of Knowledge by Nora Roberts

Ali bought the Key Trilogy, so rather than give a review (I’ll save that for when I finish Book 3), here’s a text conversation we had complaining about it.

Ali: OMG I forgot how terrible the art is. SO. BAD.

RC: They’re all STUNNED by [painter’s] talent!!!

Ali: I just read the part where Malory dreams about being an artist. Mermaids? Really? [Ed note: She has a dream where she envisions all of the paintings that could have been, and it includes paintings of MERMAIDS. Really!]

Ali: I guess that passes for art in small-town Pennsylvania?

RC: She just described Dana wearing a jacket made of “dull-gold tapestry fabric.”

Ali: Um, did you read her outfit from the first party at the mansion? A black, sleeveless knee-length jacket over a white top that may have been a turtleneck.

RC: BAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRFFFFF. How can you even have a sleeveless jacket? THAT IS A VEST.

Ali: The clothes are nineties hell.

RC: Also their business idea [Ed note: the three heroines decide to go into business together, and their idea is terrible.] and I hate the name.

Ali: Agreed. I would never go anywhere named Indulgence. [Ed note: Isn’t that a terrible name?]

RC: It sounds like an old lady store in a tourist town.

ANYWAYS. Book 2 was better, as it dealt with books more than art, and while Nora Roberts may not understand art, she certainly understands genre fiction and the main dude in this case is the writer of bestselling thrillers.

I am really looking forward to Book 3. Stay tuned!

nora robertskey of lightkey of light seriesromance novelshalf-assed reviewsbookslitcontemporary romance

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February 16, 2012 / 8:57PM 2 notes

Two reviews in one night? LOOKS LIKE IT! Some of you may mention that a better way to run a blog would be to queue up posts and spread them out over a few days so it looks like I’m giving content on a regular basis. To you I say, HOW DARE YOU TELL ME HOW TO RUN MY BLOG.
Anyways, here goes.
Key of Light by Nora RobertsDo you guys want to have a traditional review, or do you just want me to air a few grievances I’ve been building over the last few Nora books? You want me to complain? And save a full review for the whole series? OKAY THEN!
1. Nora Roberts still has terrible taste in art. Y’all. It’s killing me. Paintings and art figure very heavily into this book and at every turn Nora is describing another Thomas-Kinkade-meets-Walt-Disney horror piece.
However, I’m on the second book now, where BOOKS are the main art medium discussed (uh, that’s an awkward sentence, but just go with it, because it’ll make sense when we talk about the whole series I promise) and it’s much better.
Bigger gripe:
2. Nora Roberts really likes female stereotypes. We talked about this a bit with her last book, ad while the offenses are not nearly as egregious here, they’re bothering me a lot more. I’m a girl. I have girlfriends. I enjoy wine (oh, how I enjoy wine) and I like sweets but you know what? I don’t eat an entire pint of cookie dough every time somebody makes me feel bad and I don’t keep an emergency chocolate bar stash and maybe some people do and bully for them! but SERIOUSLY I am over the whole “lol women love chocolate lol” thing. 
Okay, here’s what I liked about the book.
1. The characters were good, and even though the heroine of the first book was a bit dull, the other two are great.
2. Celtic mythology!
3. The heroine totally seduces the dude and decides SHE wants HIM and it’s great and a refreshing change of pace.
More when I finish the series, stay tuned!

Two reviews in one night? LOOKS LIKE IT! Some of you may mention that a better way to run a blog would be to queue up posts and spread them out over a few days so it looks like I’m giving content on a regular basis. To you I say, HOW DARE YOU TELL ME HOW TO RUN MY BLOG.

Anyways, here goes.

Key of Light by Nora Roberts

Do you guys want to have a traditional review, or do you just want me to air a few grievances I’ve been building over the last few Nora books? You want me to complain? And save a full review for the whole series? OKAY THEN!

1. Nora Roberts still has terrible taste in art.
Y’all. It’s killing me. Paintings and art figure very heavily into this book and at every turn Nora is describing another Thomas-Kinkade-meets-Walt-Disney horror piece.

However, I’m on the second book now, where BOOKS are the main art medium discussed (uh, that’s an awkward sentence, but just go with it, because it’ll make sense when we talk about the whole series I promise) and it’s much better.

Bigger gripe:

2. Nora Roberts really likes female stereotypes.
We talked about this a bit with her last book, ad while the offenses are not nearly as egregious here, they’re bothering me a lot more. I’m a girl. I have girlfriends. I enjoy wine (oh, how I enjoy wine) and I like sweets but you know what? I don’t eat an entire pint of cookie dough every time somebody makes me feel bad and I don’t keep an emergency chocolate bar stash and maybe some people do and bully for them! but SERIOUSLY I am over the whole “lol women love chocolate lol” thing. 

Okay, here’s what I liked about the book.

1. The characters were good, and even though the heroine of the first book was a bit dull, the other two are great.

2. Celtic mythology!

3. The heroine totally seduces the dude and decides SHE wants HIM and it’s great and a refreshing change of pace.

More when I finish the series, stay tuned!

nora robertskey of light serieskey of lightsupernatural romanceromance novelsbookslitreviews

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February 16, 2012 / 8:41PM 7 notes

Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
I love you, GIS. How I wish I could have been reading the paper version of this book on the train.
Okay, first of all, we all know that romance titles are basically afterthoughts and they’re all basically the same and usually I just let it go, but I want to take a second and bitch. This book takes place in spring, to be sure, but there is not even a whiff of scandal. In fact, Daisy, the youngest Wallflower, who we may remember from such romance novels as the rest of the Wallflower series, ends up marrying the very man her father picked out for her. THAT’S NOT A SCANDAL. I mean, I guess any out-of-wedlock sexxing counts as a scandal, but ugh. Can you just PRETEND to even care a tiny bit, romance editors?
Oh yeah, spoiler alert. Or whatever. Did you really think this was going to have a surprise twist ending?
Daisy is the youngest Wallflower, like I said above, and she’s the dreamiest and she spends most of her life buried in a trashy book. A girl after our own heart, right? Much like her sister Lillian, she’s funny, sly, and smart. Like the rest of the Wallflowers, she’s very pleasant company and a terrific heroine. Matthew Swift, her intended, is very broody and smart and has a tragic past and whatever he’s kind of boring, okay? I mean, not compared to a lot of romance novel dudes, but when compared to the Earl of Westcliff (I STILL remember that sex scene) or, be still my heart, St. Vincent, he doesn’t quite measure up. 
That said, this is a tremendously fun read, and after a break from Lisa Kleypas and a bit of reflection, I find that I really, REALLY enjoyed this whole series and her accurate and respectful take on female friendships. She never resorted to cliche and each of the Wallflowers felt like a fully-developed character to me. She was able to keep the characters interacting with each other in a way that did not feel like a Token Series Mention.
If you like historical romance, you really need to read the Wallflower series. That’s all.

Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

I love you, GIS. How I wish I could have been reading the paper version of this book on the train.

Okay, first of all, we all know that romance titles are basically afterthoughts and they’re all basically the same and usually I just let it go, but I want to take a second and bitch. This book takes place in spring, to be sure, but there is not even a whiff of scandal. In fact, Daisy, the youngest Wallflower, who we may remember from such romance novels as the rest of the Wallflower series, ends up marrying the very man her father picked out for her. THAT’S NOT A SCANDAL. I mean, I guess any out-of-wedlock sexxing counts as a scandal, but ugh. Can you just PRETEND to even care a tiny bit, romance editors?

Oh yeah, spoiler alert. Or whatever. Did you really think this was going to have a surprise twist ending?

Daisy is the youngest Wallflower, like I said above, and she’s the dreamiest and she spends most of her life buried in a trashy book. A girl after our own heart, right? Much like her sister Lillian, she’s funny, sly, and smart. Like the rest of the Wallflowers, she’s very pleasant company and a terrific heroine. Matthew Swift, her intended, is very broody and smart and has a tragic past and whatever he’s kind of boring, okay? I mean, not compared to a lot of romance novel dudes, but when compared to the Earl of Westcliff (I STILL remember that sex scene) or, be still my heart, St. Vincent, he doesn’t quite measure up. 

That said, this is a tremendously fun read, and after a break from Lisa Kleypas and a bit of reflection, I find that I really, REALLY enjoyed this whole series and her accurate and respectful take on female friendships. She never resorted to cliche and each of the Wallflowers felt like a fully-developed character to me. She was able to keep the characters interacting with each other in a way that did not feel like a Token Series Mention.

If you like historical romance, you really need to read the Wallflower series. That’s all.

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February 8, 2012 / 8:30PM 5 notes

As You Desire, by Connie Brockaway, plus the several interjections about The Mummy
My friend Lil’ Rach (to distinguish her from Raycho Rach) is one of my go-to romance experts. As you may notice from reading her blog, she’s also an expert on trashy movies. Our worlds converged a couple of weeks ago while having a long, boozy (on my end) text conversation, and the result was me buying this book under the influence and forgetting about it until I saw it on my Kindle the next morning. Like you’ve never done it, don’t even judge me. 
As You Desire is one of what I like to call Mummy romances. A Mummy Romance is so-named because the characters exactly resemble the leads in The Mummy (… whatever, come up with a better name why don’t you). The woman is a brilliant scholar and probably a librarian, and the dude is a handsome, fortune-seeking scoundrel, and these two usually meet in Victorian Egypt, usually while questing after an artifact of some kind.
 As far as I know, the genre of Mummy Romance contains exactly two books. One is excellent Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase. The other one is As You Desire. However, Victorian Egypt is a hugely popular setting among historical romance writers, so there’s bound to be several dozen more Mummy Romances that I haven’t read (most of which probably actually predate The Mummy). I definitely plan to do more exploring of the genre (and please let me know if you have any recommendations) (could there BE any more parenthesis in this review?) (yes), because I love anything to do with Ancient Egypt and I’m not particularly bothered by historical inaccuracy or anachronism.
Anyways, the Rachel Weiss in this book is Desdemona Carlisle (Historical Romance Name Alert!), and she’s a linguistic genius living in Cairo with her grandfather. The Brendan Fraser is Harry Braxton, who’s a man with a terrible secret, also living in Cairo. The unusual thing in this case is that Desdemona and Harry have been good friends for years before the book starts, and it added a bit of depth to their relationship, which I really liked.
There are no love triangles involving mummies. In that sense, the term “Mummy Romance” is a bit of misnomer.
The plot involves antiques (of course) and scrolls (of course) and desert nomads (of course), and several kidnappings (UGH OF COURSE). There’s several different threads going on, which is normally something I really like in any book, but the pacing of As You Desire was sort of meandering, and it never really gelled for me. That’s why I’m not going to say any more about it, because we’ve all seen The Mummy, and if you liked that, you’ll be cool with this.
BY FAR the best reasons to read this book are Desdemona and Harry. They were far more memorable than most characters in historical romance, and their relationship was far more compelling to be because of their history. I didn’t feel like the writing was as clean or effortless as the other Mummy Romance (Mr. Impossible, if you’re not keeping track), but I cared enough about Desdemona and Harry to read through the whole book and thoroughly enjoy it.
I highly recommend this for any fans of Mummy Romance.

As You Desire, by Connie Brockaway, plus the several interjections about The Mummy

My friend Lil’ Rach (to distinguish her from Raycho Rach) is one of my go-to romance experts. As you may notice from reading her blog, she’s also an expert on trashy movies. Our worlds converged a couple of weeks ago while having a long, boozy (on my end) text conversation, and the result was me buying this book under the influence and forgetting about it until I saw it on my Kindle the next morning. Like you’ve never done it, don’t even judge me. 

As You Desire is one of what I like to call Mummy romances. A Mummy Romance is so-named because the characters exactly resemble the leads in The Mummy (… whatever, come up with a better name why don’t you). The woman is a brilliant scholar and probably a librarian, and the dude is a handsome, fortune-seeking scoundrel, and these two usually meet in Victorian Egypt, usually while questing after an artifact of some kind.

 As far as I know, the genre of Mummy Romance contains exactly two books. One is excellent Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase. The other one is As You Desire. However, Victorian Egypt is a hugely popular setting among historical romance writers, so there’s bound to be several dozen more Mummy Romances that I haven’t read (most of which probably actually predate The Mummy). I definitely plan to do more exploring of the genre (and please let me know if you have any recommendations) (could there BE any more parenthesis in this review?) (yes), because I love anything to do with Ancient Egypt and I’m not particularly bothered by historical inaccuracy or anachronism.

Anyways, the Rachel Weiss in this book is Desdemona Carlisle (Historical Romance Name Alert!), and she’s a linguistic genius living in Cairo with her grandfather. The Brendan Fraser is Harry Braxton, who’s a man with a terrible secret, also living in Cairo. The unusual thing in this case is that Desdemona and Harry have been good friends for years before the book starts, and it added a bit of depth to their relationship, which I really liked.

There are no love triangles involving mummies. In that sense, the term “Mummy Romance” is a bit of misnomer.

The plot involves antiques (of course) and scrolls (of course) and desert nomads (of course), and several kidnappings (UGH OF COURSE). There’s several different threads going on, which is normally something I really like in any book, but the pacing of As You Desire was sort of meandering, and it never really gelled for me. That’s why I’m not going to say any more about it, because we’ve all seen The Mummy, and if you liked that, you’ll be cool with this.

BY FAR the best reasons to read this book are Desdemona and Harry. They were far more memorable than most characters in historical romance, and their relationship was far more compelling to be because of their history. I didn’t feel like the writing was as clean or effortless as the other Mummy Romance (Mr. Impossible, if you’re not keeping track), but I cared enough about Desdemona and Harry to read through the whole book and thoroughly enjoy it.

I highly recommend this for any fans of Mummy Romance.

the mummymummy romancepointless tangentsas you desireconnie brockawaycurliestofcrownshistorical romancereviewslitbooks

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January 25, 2012 / 10:01PM 15 notes

Talk Me Down, by Victoria Dahl
Okay, first of all, I am absolutely flabbergasted because this cover is actually somewhat accurate. Molly is a blonde, a writer, and red heels actually play a not-insignificant role in the book. BRAVO!
A lot of you recommended Victoria Dahl for contemporary romance, and it was a good recommendation. Talk Me Down was an easy and fun read - light enough that I never felt serious angst, but with enough drama to keep it from floating away on a puffy, saccharine cloud.
Molly is a writer of erotic fiction (so already a girl after our own heart) who moves back to her hometown of Tumble Creek, Colorado because she inherits a house and it provides her a convenient escape from her creepy ex. On like, the second page, she runs into her old crush, Ben, who is now Chief of Police and of course totally sexy and smouldering.
They almost immediately start hooking up, and I DO mean “almost immediately - more impatient readers will be gratified (hurr) that the sex comes pretty early (hurr hurr) and continues throughout the book. However! Because this is a contemporary romance and there can’t be problems like Heroine Is Betrothed to Another or Hero Is Secretly a Werewolf, there has to be some contrived way to keep the hero and the heroine from immediately reaching Happily Ever After. In this case, Molly believes that Ben won’t approve of her profession, and I totally dismissed this as ridiculous but, to Dahl’s great credit, she provides enough reasons that it seems reasonable for Molly to hide her work from Ben.
There’s a plot twist you can see from a mile away, a couple of other lackluster female characters (sadly, this book would not pass the Becheel Test), and the drama is, well, like I said, a bit contrived. But here’s what makes this good: Molly is funny, Ben is sweet, and the sex is sexy. Molly doesn’t take herself too seriously, and I get the impression that neither does Victoria Dahl. There were several moments when Molly said or did something that made me think “I would have said that, too! If I were funny or something.”
This book isn’t going to change your life, but it will happily help you get through a plane ride or a commute. Definitely worth a read!

Talk Me Down, by Victoria Dahl

Okay, first of all, I am absolutely flabbergasted because this cover is actually somewhat accurate. Molly is a blonde, a writer, and red heels actually play a not-insignificant role in the book. BRAVO!

A lot of you recommended Victoria Dahl for contemporary romance, and it was a good recommendation. Talk Me Down was an easy and fun read - light enough that I never felt serious angst, but with enough drama to keep it from floating away on a puffy, saccharine cloud.

Molly is a writer of erotic fiction (so already a girl after our own heart) who moves back to her hometown of Tumble Creek, Colorado because she inherits a house and it provides her a convenient escape from her creepy ex. On like, the second page, she runs into her old crush, Ben, who is now Chief of Police and of course totally sexy and smouldering.

They almost immediately start hooking up, and I DO mean “almost immediately - more impatient readers will be gratified (hurr) that the sex comes pretty early (hurr hurr) and continues throughout the book. However! Because this is a contemporary romance and there can’t be problems like Heroine Is Betrothed to Another or Hero Is Secretly a Werewolf, there has to be some contrived way to keep the hero and the heroine from immediately reaching Happily Ever After. In this case, Molly believes that Ben won’t approve of her profession, and I totally dismissed this as ridiculous but, to Dahl’s great credit, she provides enough reasons that it seems reasonable for Molly to hide her work from Ben.

There’s a plot twist you can see from a mile away, a couple of other lackluster female characters (sadly, this book would not pass the Becheel Test), and the drama is, well, like I said, a bit contrived. But here’s what makes this good: Molly is funny, Ben is sweet, and the sex is sexy. Molly doesn’t take herself too seriously, and I get the impression that neither does Victoria Dahl. There were several moments when Molly said or did something that made me think “I would have said that, too! If I were funny or something.”

This book isn’t going to change your life, but it will happily help you get through a plane ride or a commute. Definitely worth a read!

Victoria Dahlontemporary romancetalk me downromance novelsbookslitreviews

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January 20, 2012 / 8:30PM 20 notes

Vision in White, by Nora Roberts
So where have I been? Well, I’m still not over Lothaire. Not by a long shot. I tried to ease back into the post-Lothaire world with another installment of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning (saving my thoughts for the end of the series), and then I took a good long look at this blog and tried to figure out what I was missing. It was pretty glaring. I hardly ever read contemporary romance, and after all of your recommendations a few days ago, it seemed like a good time to pick it back up.
Well, if you’re looking for a contemporary romance, you could do a lot worse. If you’re the kind of person who loooooooves weddings and you just got engaged and your whole life is bridal magazines and watching Bridezillas and you want to share your excitement but your friends have told you they don’t want to hear anything else about your fucking wedding (… not that I’ve been there or anything), then you can’t do a lot better.
I’m about somewhere in the middle. My wedding mania passed pretty soon after my own wedding three years ago, but I figured Nora was, at the very least, a safe bet. I knew it wouldn’t be bad, and it wasn’t. Let’s put my eh on hold for a minute and talk about the leads, because the dude is one of the strongest parts of this story.
THE GIRL: Mackenzie Elliot, photog extraordinaire, who is one quarter of the wedding business powerhouse known as Vows. Parker, Emma, and Laurel handle planning, flowers, and cakes, respectively, and they are DEAD SERIOUS about making your special fucking day pretty fucking special so bend over and get ready for a white lace enema.
And I gotta pause here, and say something that’s been bothering me about Nora: Nora Roberts has terrible taste in art. Sorry. This book wasn’t as egregiously offensive to taste as the last book of the Chesapeake Bay series, what with the Thomas Kinkaide nightmares, but Mac’s artsy ideas for the wedding photos were enough to make me die a little inside. The groom likes music, so you have him bring his guitar to the engagement shoot? REALLY FUCKING ORIGINAL. And don’t even get me started on the portrait that involved horses.
Anyways. Moving on.
THE GUY: Carter Maguire, geeky English teacher, beta male (who still fucks like an animal), and all-around sweet guy. He’s so cute and awkward and even though I normally can’t get enough of alpha dudes (oh, Lothaire), I found Carter to be a great change of pace and he was easily the best thing about this book.
In the end, Vision in White was pretty good, but not really all that compelling. Everything is always perfect at Vows, and if it’s not, it gets handled quickly and easily and we move on to the next thing that’s perfect. This book wasn’t even cotton candy fluff, it was like, the aroma of cotton candy. If you’re in the mood for a light read, this is about as airy as it gets.
NEXT UP: I bought a Victoria Dahl upon your recommendation, then the Nora Roberts Key of Light trilogy. Also, The Marriage Plot has been lingering in TBR purgatory on my Kindle but will I finally admit to myself I’m not going to read it? STAY TUNED.

Vision in White, by Nora Roberts

So where have I been? Well, I’m still not over Lothaire. Not by a long shot. I tried to ease back into the post-Lothaire world with another installment of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning (saving my thoughts for the end of the series), and then I took a good long look at this blog and tried to figure out what I was missing. It was pretty glaring. I hardly ever read contemporary romance, and after all of your recommendations a few days ago, it seemed like a good time to pick it back up.

Well, if you’re looking for a contemporary romance, you could do a lot worse. If you’re the kind of person who loooooooves weddings and you just got engaged and your whole life is bridal magazines and watching Bridezillas and you want to share your excitement but your friends have told you they don’t want to hear anything else about your fucking wedding (… not that I’ve been there or anything), then you can’t do a lot better.

I’m about somewhere in the middle. My wedding mania passed pretty soon after my own wedding three years ago, but I figured Nora was, at the very least, a safe bet. I knew it wouldn’t be bad, and it wasn’t. Let’s put my eh on hold for a minute and talk about the leads, because the dude is one of the strongest parts of this story.

THE GIRL: Mackenzie Elliot, photog extraordinaire, who is one quarter of the wedding business powerhouse known as Vows. Parker, Emma, and Laurel handle planning, flowers, and cakes, respectively, and they are DEAD SERIOUS about making your special fucking day pretty fucking special so bend over and get ready for a white lace enema.

And I gotta pause here, and say something that’s been bothering me about Nora: Nora Roberts has terrible taste in art. Sorry. This book wasn’t as egregiously offensive to taste as the last book of the Chesapeake Bay series, what with the Thomas Kinkaide nightmares, but Mac’s artsy ideas for the wedding photos were enough to make me die a little inside. The groom likes music, so you have him bring his guitar to the engagement shoot? REALLY FUCKING ORIGINAL. And don’t even get me started on the portrait that involved horses.

Anyways. Moving on.

THE GUY: Carter Maguire, geeky English teacher, beta male (who still fucks like an animal), and all-around sweet guy. He’s so cute and awkward and even though I normally can’t get enough of alpha dudes (oh, Lothaire), I found Carter to be a great change of pace and he was easily the best thing about this book.

In the end, Vision in White was pretty good, but not really all that compelling. Everything is always perfect at Vows, and if it’s not, it gets handled quickly and easily and we move on to the next thing that’s perfect. This book wasn’t even cotton candy fluff, it was like, the aroma of cotton candy. If you’re in the mood for a light read, this is about as airy as it gets.

NEXT UP: I bought a Victoria Dahl upon your recommendation, then the Nora Roberts Key of Light trilogy. Also, The Marriage Plot has been lingering in TBR purgatory on my Kindle but will I finally admit to myself I’m not going to read it? STAY TUNED.

nora robertsvision in whitebeta malecontemporary romanceromance novelslitbooks

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