Sunday, July 27, 2008

HEART OF A RENEGADE by Loreth Anne White

Loreth Ann White continues her Shadow Soldiers series with HEART OF A RENEGADE. Jessica Chan is a journalist who is on to something big. What she's uncovered about the Chinese Triad Dragons is going to get her killed.

Enter Luke Stone from the Force du Sable, a powerful paramilitary organization. He hates protection assignments; he wasn't able to protect his own loved ones when danger came their way, and he has no wish to get involved in that aspect of the business again. But, he's the only agent nearby, so he gets the call.

Luke is to deliver Jessica to the CIA as a witness, and it's a tough job doing it. Luke starts to suspect something's up when the Dragons are tipped off to nearly every pick-up point. Are they that good at tracking, is there a double agent in the CIA, or is something more sinister happening? He decides to keep Jessica on the run until he finds out.

Jessica isn't just reporting on the Triad Dragons and their illegal dealings- working this close to China is bringing up all her emotions about her Chinese mother, and the British ambassador father who abandoned them. Her world is shaken again when it looks like her father might be in this...on the wrong side.

I love 'couples on the run' stories, and Loreth does a wonderful job with what is surely a familiar plotline. Her pacing is sharp, her situations dangerous and believeable. She writes her action scenes with clarity and urgency, and I liked the ride. Luke's competence is shown without him being Superman, and Jessica doesn't suffer from Stupid Heroine Syndrome. They surely do steam up the windows (heat level is highly sensual) and it's easy to see the attraction. I felt for Jessica, as she decides whether to do the smart thing and go into witness protection, or stay on the outside and face the consequences. I like a woman who shows courage, not just feisty stubbornness cloaked as independence.

All of Harlequin’s front-list titles are currently being released as e-books, and there is link on Loreth's page if you would rather read it electronically. I've enjoyed this series tremendously, and I'm currently searching out the backlist. Thanks, Loreth!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


A while back I made a plea for Romance novels with Enduring Romance in them. With the divorce rate so high, I'm not easily impressed with Girl-Meets-Boy-Has-Hot-Nookie-Lives-Happily-Ever-After books. I've been living Happily Ever After in Real Life and I know there's so much more to it than that. The process of Living Happily Ever After is much more interesting to me. Where most Romance novels leave off is only the beginning for me. It's probably a personal thing. I was never into the dating scene when I was single either. It made no logical sense to me. Why should I go out with a bunch of guys to find Mr. Right when I could easily sit back and analyze their suitablity from a safe distance? I was much more interested in the marriage part.
Geri Krotow answered my pleas by sending A RENDEZVOUS TO REMEMBER. This is a double-layered story, so my first piece of advice is to make sure you of significant stretches of time to read it. If you're a parent, I know how difficult it is to find at least thirty minutes to read. Do your best. The challenge is to not lose your way while reading this double-layered story, because you'll be missing out on something truly wonderful if you do.
Melinda's marriage is over. Oh, sure, she loved her husband, but after learning they couldn't have children they didn't bother fighting. They tried to find other things to do and started doing those things apart. After a while, they both chose career paths without each other's counsel or support. She took a job with a senator in Washington D.C. and he signed up for another tour of duty in the War on Terror, Afghanistan branch. At least couples who scream at each other get their problems out in the open where they can be dealt with!
With a divorce on the burner and her grandmother's death a fresh wound in her heart, Melinda visits her grandfather who reveals some diaries Grammy wanted her to have. She knew her grandparents had immigrated from Europe, but she had no idea what they'd done during World War II. A lot of survivors didn't like to talk about it afterwards. But, Grammy wanted Melinda to know, even if she couldn't bear to tell her in person.
Through the diaries, Grammy begins to tell the story of how her family was struggling to survive with so little food after the Nazis took over their country. To help feed them, Grammy had married a man she didn't love who turned out to be an abusive monster. Grammy put up with him for her family's sake and to carry on with her super-secret life as a member of the Resistance. She gathered information and channeled it to the Allies. She soon learns her creepy-monster-husband is collaborating with the Nazis and has just routed out a bunch of Jewish children in hiding. Sickened by his evil, she still cannot bring herself to murder him in cold blood, war or no war. Then, one night a British Royal Air Force pilot bails out over her farm and she discovers her creepy-monster-husband about to shoot him. She must stop her creepy-monster-husband from killing the defenseless pilot. At this point, my gut was shouting highly imaginative ways of dispatching Creepy-Monster-Husband. Unfortunately, revenge isn't exactly a heroic thing to do. Revenge only breeds more violence. He's about to pull the trigger on his gun to murder the pilot and she has to stop him in the fastest way possible. She shoots him in the head instead of the other place I suggested. The pilot asks if she loved her husband to which she replies, "I hated him." The war and her creepy-monster-husband had nearly robbed all hope from her heart.
In the following weeks, Grammy nurses Grandpa Jack back to health. Of course, he goes by the name of Mack and Grammy's real name is Esme. They talk, they laugh, they share tea so weak it's water, because there's a war going on and everybody is hungry. And, of course, the day comes when Mac must leave. He's there to undermine the Nazis and the faster they're gone the faster everyone will be happy again. In all the time together, their attraction builds and builds, but they don't touch until his kiss upon leaving. You know how it's tradition for a guy to send flowers to the girl he loves? Well, Grandpa Jack, a.k.a. 'Mac,' sends a baby. Well, you all know what a Baby Fanatic I am! The baby girl is a war orphan, of course, and she does have a flower's name, Lille ('Lily' in English.)


The local Nazi occupiers are suspicious of Esme, because of her activities and her late husband's untimely demise. The vultures circle and Esme's mother worries for her and the baby. Meanwhile, Esme worries about Jack. Of course, we know they'll be united and live happily ever after. But, in the 21st century, will Melinda whose estranged husband wants her back? If anything can soften Melinda's heart, it's got to be Grammy's story of Everlasting Love.


Speaking of Everlasting Love, this is a Harlequin line which specializes in love stories which last a lifetime. I've heard it was going under, but I hope not. In any case, they do have a backlist. Pop over to to find more Everlasting Love books. For more Geri Krotow books, pop over to her site This story is set during war, so there is some violence. The Heat Level is Sensual and very natural, not a single Standard Issue Sex Scene in the whole dang novel.

RENDEZVOUS review coming later today

Please check back this evening. I'm still reading it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cyber-Launch Book Party for SHADES OF DARK confirmed!

Hey, Blog Buds! Good news. Linnea Sinclair has agreed to let us indulge in a little lunacy to celebrate the July 29th release of SHADES OF DARK. The party will be here, Thursday, Augest 7th. The lovely Kimber Chin has agreed to move her book review from that day to August 5th, so we won't have any collisions in the process. If you've never been to a Cyber-Launch Book Party, click on their link in the Directory to your lower left. This will be Linnea's third party! The first one didn't survive the transfer from the old Star Captains' Daughter blog, but the one for DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES is there. Nowadays, parties are for one day only, however.


Kimber Chin had other good news - Science Fiction Romance is selling hot in eBooks! I'm delighted, but not surprised. Selection in print for SFR New Releases is limited right now and, think about it, readers who love anything Science Fiction flavored are going to be computer saavy. Oh, if I only had my own eBook reader...Christmas is coming!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Dr. Jenna Gregor has just been on another horrid blind date. As soon as these ‘men’ find out that the divorced doctor has two children, they suddenly find other pressing matters to attend to. Jenna’s had it with the dating scene, at least for awhile. Her six-year-old daughter, Jacy, and three-year-old son, Dawson, will have her full attention for the duration.

Jenna works at an OBGYN clinic, counseling parents and would-be parents through issues of conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and those who suffer miscarriage and infertility. She’s noticed a few strange things from time to time- bizarre notes on her office door, etc., but doesn’t pay them any mind. She’s too busy. Seeing patients, shuttling her daughter to dance class and her son to karate, etc. But she’s not too busy to notice the good-looking landscaper across the street, who, as it turns out, is her son’s new martial arts teacher as well. She won’t pursue it, though. She’s not looking forward to another disappointing date, and especially not from a man who makes her hormones stand up and sing. That would be too depressing.

But Ben Aston has other plans. He’s already crazy about Dawson, and thinks Dawson’s mommy is fine. It’s all right with him if he keeps bumping into her- at karate class, in her neighborhood where he’s getting a lot of work, and even her clinic. His sister-in-law is pregnant, and his immature younger brother has fled the scene. Ben can’t help but support the girl who just hopes for her husband to come back.

Jenna and Ben start to hit it off as Jenna decides…well, not to be stupid. He’s gorgeous, skilled, runs his own business, isn’t married or gay, and likes her kids. Really, what more could the woman want? But even as things heat up between the two, disturbing events happen to Jenna. Her house and car are trashed; she’s followed; she receives death threats. Scared for herself and for her kids, she relies heavily on Ben. Then she starts to think- none of these things started until she met up with him.

Lauren Hope is a deft hand with a mystery; I did figure it out before the reveal but she throws several good curveballs. The fake-outs will have you as scared as Jenna was, and Ben is so wonderful it’s entirely plausible that Jenna would wonder if he was just a little too good to be true. And Thank God Almighty, finally. Finally. A heroine is faced with danger and does the smart thing. I can’t tell you how tired I am of reading about women who are up against horrifying scary danger but insist on staying in the haunted mansion because they are determined to show how strong and independent they are. This woman puts her kids first and says, “YES, POLICE. GUARD ME, HIDE ME, WHATEVER!” I cheered.

I enjoyed HIDDEN SHADOWS, which is mildly sensual, and mildly violent on the gore’o’meter. Thanks, Lauren!

Friday, July 18, 2008

OUTBACK STARS by Sandra McDonald

*This review was written by Laurie over at but she granted permission for it to be reprinted here. I've been wanting to let you all know about THE OUTBACK STARS, but haven't had time to read it myself. Thanks, Laurie!*
THE OUTBACK STARSBy Sandra McDonaldScience Fiction RomanceTOR
Opening Notes From the Reviewer: I was intrigued about this one because Sandra McDonald is a former US Naval officer and I’d read praise about how well she incorporates her knowledge into THE OUTBACK STARS. I’ve worked for the military for over thirteen years and found the detail engrossing. I don’t know how much imagination she used in projecting her experiences into the future, but for me, the organization, protocol and environment of the Aral Sea was completely effective and believable.
COVER ART: I offer commentary on the cover because readers do judge books by them. Unfortunately. This has no bearing on my overall enjoyment of, or comments about the story. It’s important to remember that cover art is a choice in which the author normally has little say. THE OUTBACK STARS cover has swirling cool blues and hot yellows of space behind the female MC that are attractive and have an almost dreamy quality, which may be intentional. I found her gear a bit fanciful for a military sci-fi, and have no idea what the scrolling black objects are meant to represent in the foreground, but overall it does what a cover is supposed to do and that’s catch the eye.
INITIAL IMPRESSION: The story starts with a prologue, which some readers immediately skip. I don’t. This one has a specific purpose for existing. It offers a suspenseful hook into the crux of a disaster, and it gives insights into the female MCs experiences that has a tremendous bearing on her thoughts and actions later in the story. It was gut-wrenching, to say the least. It was also very short. It did everything a good prologue should, and it did its job extremely well.
MAIN CHARACTERS: I felt an immediate connection with the MCs angst, and an immediate sympathy toward the male MC as he debated reporting for duty or going AWOL to lose himself in the mountains. I also got a sense of their attraction in their first encounter, even though they both shuffle it off as unthinkable. Lieutenant JoDenny Scott is an officer. Sergeant Teran “Terry” Myell a NCO. Fraternization in this future is still a taboo. Both are tortured souls for things—terrible, unfair things—that happened in their past, and both bring a fair share of career baggage aboard their ship, the Aral Sea.
SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: There is a large cast, and if the reader isn’t accustomed to military organizations, they may want to consider taking notes about who is who, their rank, position and what they do on the ship. The author seamlessly works in some explanations of rank and structure via JoDenny’s education of a civilian worker who doesn’t understand how things work. Some of the characters have a few surprises in store. The author’s knowledge of military organization, especially that on a large vessel, is superb. It can be a learning experience as well as a great read. I found some of the bots (robots) very entertaining, especially a security bot that confronts JoDenny at one point in the story.
VILLAIN: The villains become obvious through their interactions with the characters, but there’s much more going on than meets the eye. The offstage villains, for the most part, is a terrorist organization called the Colonial Freedom Project.
WORLD BUILDING: Well done, believable, realistic. The various worlds of the Seven Sisters are distinct and have their own personalities. The ships and connected tower environments are a fascinating concept. The futuristic elements are not too far-fetched. The blending of military structure, mythic past, and modern space travel work well.
CONFLICT: As the story progresses, it becomes obvious something is amiss, and the Aral Sea is a very troubled ship. But not all the mystery is inside the ship. Some dirty dealings become evident, but not everything and not every threat is as straightforward. There are some surprises, some shocks, and some wondrous discoveries along the way. The tension is well done, though it occurs on many levels—professionally, sexually and outright life-threatening.
ROMANCE: There were times during the story I wanted to cuff each of the MCs for their stubbornness and for being in denial about their feelings and hurting the other because of it, but at the same time I understood their reservations and their reasons for wanting to hide from what they felt. I found Terry Myell the most honest of the two about his feelings, and his tenderness toward his niece and nephew and even a pet gecko, heartwarming. Terry is a put-up and shut-up sort, who is often closed-mouthed when he shouldn’t be, but there’s nothing dodgy or weak-willed about him. He’s an understated alpha male who finds himself in situations where he must control his temper and his tongue. I admired Lieutenant JoDenny Scott for her take-charge attitude, and her dealings with problem subordinates, sometimes by very clever methods. The relationship between JoDenny and Terry built slowly and encountered many obstacles, and the reader was ‘shown’ in subtle ways that—damn regulations!—these two belong together. They are often thrown into the mix because of surprising twists and turns. I would have liked to be privy to more of the emotions going on inside their heads before they finally blurted out the depths of their feelings—but the relationship worked for me and I rooted for them each step of the way. When they make an agreement not to see each other until Terry’s contract is up, JoDenny returns to being a confused officer and I found her way of dealing with things to be cold and aloof. For me, one of the most satisfying elements of the story was when Terry finally met her evasiveness head on in this excerpt:Someone knocked. “Sergeant Gordon,” a voice said, and JoDenny snapped her head up to see Myell standing in the hatchway. Myell continued, “Can you excuse us for a moment. The lieutenant and I need to talk.”Gordon blinked. “Sure thing.”When she was gone, Myell deliberately closed the hatch, leaving just the two of them alone.“Are you crazy?” JoDenny asked.Myell gazed at her steadily. “Nowhere in ship’s regulations does it say that a lieutenant and a sergeant can’t have a private conversation behind closed doors.”She rose. “You don’t think people are watching us?”He advanced on her, his eyes dark and mouth grim. “We said we would keep this professional for three months. That doesn’t mean ignoring me in public. That doesn’t mean not even saying ‘Good morning, Sergeant’ or ‘How are you, Sergeant?’ in a lift.”Jo Denny flushed. “Ensign Hultz told you.”Myell took her arms and the nearness of him almost made her dizzy. “Ensign Hultz isn’t the woman I love.”[I’ll let you read the rest for yourself.]
READABILITY: I found the story fascinating; though the pace wasn’t lightning quick there was enough mystery, emotion, and danger to keep me reading along and wanting more. I was disappointed when the story ended, and had to go on a recon mission to read a few excerpts from the sequel THE STARS DOWN UNDER. TSDU is definitely going into my Leaning Tower of TBR, somewhere very near the top.
EVIL AUTHORS GUILD STAMP OF APPROVAL: The Evil Authors Guild exists to encourage writers to inflict appropriate amounts of terror, angst and torture into their characters’ lives, and to leave them twisting in the wind at every opportunity. As you have probably guessed, this one earns an enthusiastic endorsement.
COOL STUFF:In this future, Australia took the lead in space travel, so many of the place-names where taken from Australia or Australian Aboriginal mythology.The ships are all named after environmental disasters on Earth, such as the Chernobyl, Okeechobee, Alaska, and Yangtze. One of the characters was bemused about this being someone’s brilliant idea. So was I.DNGOs – (dingos) The ship’s worker robots that come in various classes and differing levels of erratic behavior.Alcheringa – The alien transportation system that connects the Seven Sisters—habitable planets that have been colonized. The space warp was discovered near Mars, but not the aliens that built it.Gib – an electronic device that has an “agent” the owner configures according to their tastes (female, male, sense of humor, etc.). The agent is like an electronic secretary who talks to the owner about their schedule, talks to other agents, makes appointments and provides information. They have names like Katherine and Holland, and yeah, I can easily see these as the iPhones of the future.
SECOND READ: Even after I finished, it was like this book was glued to my fingertips. I picked it up again and again to read a section or a chapter. After a few days, I had to go back to the beginning and start reading it all over again while I wait for the sequel to arrive. I missed a lot of subtle foreshadowing and detail the first time through. I don’t think I’m going to find a cure for this obsession until the sequel arrives.
OVERALL RATING: I don’t rate novels on a number scale. Each novel is unique and, just like sightseeing in a strange city, you learn about the literary ‘points of interest’ as you get to know the territory. Ok, this one is too easy. What city could this one be but Sydney? The Australian flavor is stamped on every page, and this story is just as much an enjoyable destination as the iconic Down Under harbor town, a place where the mythic past meets the present, and the future. A place you just have to go see for yourself. You just gotta.

The Gaslight Mysteries

Hello Blog Friends! First, an apology for this coming out on a Friday. I seem to have lost the ability to count to three this month and thought my post was due next week. Ooops. ;) Fortunately, I have a fabulous book for you all... in fact a fabulous series, The Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson.

I've been anxious to review this series for some time now. I love mysteries and especially love finding a good series. This is one of my favorites by far. Thompson does a fantastic job of weaving in long term plot elements that keep you wanting the next book, while wrapping up the mystery nice and neat for each particular book, so you have a nice sense of resolution.

My absolute favorite mysteries have a touch of romance in them, so of course we have the lovely Sarah Brandt, daughter of privilage who has married outside her social class in 1905 New York. Her husband died years before the series begins leaving her independent, but of high class. She makes her way in the world as a midwife to anyone who needs her services...

This brings her into many parts of New York she otherwise wouldn't see and throws her into the way of Detective Sargent Frank Malloy - an Irish cop, rough around the edges and smitten with Sarah... not that he'd let her know.

They end up solving many murders together while battling their attraction. Also, there's the matter of her husband's death. He was murdered and Frank is determined to give her closure, even when it looks like the answers he finds are not what they'd hoped.

Murder in Washington Square is my favorite of the series so far, so I've highlighted it here. I hope you enjoy it! If you like this series, you may also like Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody series and Susan Kandel's Not a Girl Detective.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I've Been Interviewed & a New Source for Science Fiction Romance

Heather interviewed me about Heat Levels in Science Fiction Romance at past Thursday. A fellow Blogger, Lisa, then decided to start a directory-type site to help readers find the kinds of Science Fiction Romance books they're looking for. Pop over and check it out. Please contribute if you can!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

CRYSTAL RAIN by Tobias S. Buckell

Omigoodness, this is one of the most awesome books I've read so far this year. The world-building alone blows me away. I have a thing for Science Fiction which explores alien cultures anyway, yanno. One of the things which attracted me to it in the first place was the multi-cultural cast of characters. You don't get the standard white guy hero, his big-boobed moon-tart of the week, and a token black guy along for the ride. You get as many skin tones and language accents as you do right here on planet Earth, which makes it feel a lot more real to me.
It starts out with a guy lost in a jungle and if you didn't know better you'd think he was in a plane shot down over South America. All the slimy, scary little rain forest things are there and the people could have been teleported with their game tables straight out of Jamaica. I mean, there's dreadlocks and drums and everything. It's way cool.
John's a man living happily ever after, still getting frisky with his wife in the kitchen after many years and hanging out with his teenaged son. He's a fisherman and an artist. If you're used to the stereotypical Kick-Butt Heroine, you might be a little miffed to see his wife hanging out the laundry. But, let's get real here, people. Every woman has her own strength and some of us do *choose* a traditional role. The mark on this domestic bliss is the fact that John came from somewhere else and he can't remember his life before he was pulled from the sea many years before.
By this time, you'll be wondering just how this quasi-Carribean culture got on this alien planet. Is this some weird Alternate Earth Mr. Buckell dreamed up when his brain was stewed in Nyquil? Oh, no. Rather than info dump, there's little hints along the way, such as John's wife telling her son a bedtime story. Like Earth-bound myths, the truth has been fuddled in the passing down of the story from one generation to the next. The humans were sucked into this alien planet through little wormholes in space, along with aliens from other worlds. Some of those aliens and humans were cruel and vicious, like the Azteca who sacrifice people to their gods. Sound familiar? If you know anything about the Aztec or any other South American indigenous cultures, I'm sure it does. Besides the Azteca, there are also the Frenchies and the Bridish. Get the similarities? The way Mr. Buckell extrapulated how these human cultures would evolve on an alien planet is absolutely brilliant.
Anyway, the Azteca have been drilling a hole through a mountain which protects the good guys on the coast. Scouts and such are learning this terror little by little and spreading the word. But, it's too terrifying for many people to believe. The Wicked High Mountains have protected them, for the most part, for so long. One of the Azteca leader snags a double-agent, Oaxyctl, and threatens to kill him if he doesn't bring back alive the one guy who knows the secrets he wants - John. Of course, John can't remember any of those secrets, but the bad guys don't know that.
Dihana is Prime Minister in Capital City and she knows the Azteca are coming, even if a lot of people don't want to believe it. She scrambles to answer the threat, but building up the mongoose-men and ragamuffins (kind of like the National Guard) probably won't be enough.
The first Azteca over run the first villages while John is at work and he can only assume his wife and son have been slaughtered with the rest. Word spreads and the masses flee behind the walls of Capital City. Terrified, they turn on the descendents of Azteca refugees who didn't like the whole sacrificing children to their gods idea. Chaos ensues and Dihanna worries her people will destroy themselves before the Azteca ever arrive.
After John is rescued from the Azteca by Oaxytcyl, he's convinced he's found a friend and ally in the war to save his people. He and the warriors he's with are convinced of the same thing Dihanna is, that the only way to save themselves from the Azteca is to discover the machines left by their ancestors. Abandoned in fear and confusion, the knowledge of the machines' use is believed extinct.
CRYSTAL RAIN is violent because war is violent. There is blood and guts, but not for its own sake. The scariest thing about this book is that there are religious fanatics today who also commit violent acts against the innocent in the name of their gods. This story has all the best and all the worst of humanity in it. A real story for the ages.
Tor was kind enough to send me the sequel as well, RAGIMUFFIN, and I'll be reviewing that in September most likely.
P.S. The airships you see on the cover are really cool in the story!

I've Been Interviewed at the Galaxy Express!

Heather asked me some questions about the Heat Levels in Science Fiction Romance. I hope I didn't get too controversial. Anyway, here's the link:

CRYSTAL RAIN review to be posted later on today

It's awesome Science Fiction, Blog Bads. You don't want to miss it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday's Oldies but Goodies...

Good morning!

This Sunday's Oldie but Goodie is...

First Released August 1994

I remember the first time I read this story. I was getting over bronchitis, and I had missed a whole lot of work because of how sick I had gotten. I found this book quite by accident at the bookstore a month or so before and hadn't had the chance to read it yet. So while I was propped up on my couch drinking hot lemon tea and inhaling cough drops like they were going out of style, I sat back and started reading. I don't remember moving until I finished the book some hours later. My tea was cold, my back hurt from sitting in one position for so long, and my throat hurt from not having any cough drops.

So what did I do? I dragged my rear up, got a fresh, hot mug of tea, chewed a cough drop, and sat back down to read it again.

That's how much I love this story.

Julia Edwards is a divorced mother of one, who's daughter has just finished her first year of college and is taking a tour of Europe with her best friend and her parents. Julia is feeling understandably alone right now, and the corporate takeover of her company doesn't help one little bit.

When she meets Val, Julia thinks she has totally lost it. You see, Val begins speaking to her from her television set. Val is actually Valentina Manchester, movie starlet extraordinaire who's life was tragically cut short 30 years ago in a car crash. Val has been sent back to help someone in need, and that someone happens to be Julia Edwards. Val sees in Julia someone who desperately needs a makeover and a man, and not necessarily in that order. Julia, however, couldn't disagree more, and has no intentions of trusting a man ever again.

That all changes when she meets Steve McMillan. of course, she can't just meet a random nice guy. That would be too easy. Steve happens to be the representative from Amalgamated, the company that just bought out Coolback, the place she has worked since just after her daughter was born. No, Steve is the enemy, and she can't consort with the enemy. Right?

Steve can sense Julia's instant dislike of him the moment they meet, and while he is used to that attitude when he walks into a new company, for some reason this time it really bothers him. No one had ever really challenged him like Julia does, forcing him to see the human side to a corporate takeover and not just the numbers.

As Steve and Julia get to know each other, they both begin to understand that the other may be just what they were looking for in their lives. An invitation to Julia to tour France with Steve to see his vineyard is the answer to her prayers. Unfortunately, Val has her own agenda once she discovers the happier Julia gets the more Val starts to age. And Val just can't have that.

I've tried to put my finger on exactly what it is about this story I like so much. I don't think it is any one thing, though. The writing is very descriptive without banging the story over your head like a baseball bat. The author's character development works well, and the overall story just catches my imagination without even trying. The heat level is sensual, but by the time Steve and Julia get together, they have definitely gotten to know each other and it definitely fits the story line.

I could not locate an official website for this wonderful author, but I did locate a complete booklist for the author on the web here.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I love my Regency Romances so much that I read about one a day. I was expecting to write a review this month on a new release from a favorite Regency author. That novel disappointed but fortunately, I found a brand new author with a debut novel I adored. YES!

We're talking, of course, about Olivia Parker's At The Bride Hunt Ball.

Gabriel Devine, the Duke of Wolverest, has decided it is high time his younger brother Lord Tristan married. Scarred by his parent's relationship, the Duke doesn't plan to ever marry and he wants to ensure the estates stay in the immediate family. Being an efficient and practical sort of man, he (with his sister's help) organizes a country party to be attended by hand-picked eligible 'perfect' women.

Perfect. And that's why the half-American and accident prone Madelyn Haywood is confused when she receives an invite. She is far from perfect (as her stepmother often reminds her) and frankly, she doesn't plan on making the effort to become perfect. She doesn't want to marry either of the brothers. If she does attend the party, however, her desperate-for-cash stepmother has promised she can return to her childhood home afterwards. Plus her best bud in the whole wide world is in love with the rather shallow Lord Tristan.

Wow, looking at my summary, I'd be wondering what makes this novel special. Hasn't this been done before? Sure, but not with these two characters and not with these twists and turns. The baddies aren't necessarily baddies. The 'good' people aren't necessarily good. Not every character has a happy ending (far from it). Madelyn and Gabriel sizzle, yes, that's to be expected but their personalities mesh. So much that I can't think of any two people more 'perfect' for each other. Oh, and I am a bit in love with Gabriel (that doesn't hurt).

If you love a good great Regency, you'll enjoy Olivia Parker's At The Bride Hunt Ball.

The heat rating is sensual. There isn't much violence (a bee sting, stomping on toes, and falling into fountains).


You gotta love a historical romance that not only starts with a glossary but has that glossary's first two words translations of "excrement." That let me know I'm not in Regency Romance fantasyland any longer.

This isn't a Regency Romance. Not by a long shot. The Centurion And The Queen is set in 60 AD Britannia with the Boudicca revolt as a backdrop. Yes, harsh, harsh times and author Minnette Meador refreshingly does not try to sugarcoat her novel. Our hero is the battle worn Marius, a Roman leader, with the job to squash local rebellions. Our heroine is the equally battle worn Delia, sister to an uncaring (and crazy) local King. These are two hardened warriors. They've spent a lifetime killing. Their romance is neither pretty nor nice.

It is believable though. I could understand the attraction between the two. I could see Marius, a man spending almost all of his life amongst male warriors, being attracted to and able to relate to the tough, defiant Delia. Delia is looking for strength, someone to help her with her fight, and finds it in Marius.

I also enjoyed the weaving in of different cultures. The Roman army picked up soldiers all over the world. The secondary characters reflect this diversity.

The violence is graphic (this is wartime – if you are unfamiliar with Boudicca, you can find a summary here). There is incest, rape, and quite a few deaths. The physical relationship between the hero and the heroine is also rough. Think HBO's Rome (as a starting place). Does that detract from the book? Not for me. It adds to the realism. The Centurion And The Queen is very well written and well researched (it seems, I'm no expert in the time period). I enjoyed it and am greatly looking forward to Minnette Meador's next novel.