Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Review: Hitched by BJ Daniels

by BJ Daniels

Genre: Contemporary Series Romantic Suspense (Western)
Publisher: Harlequin (Intrigue)
Cost: $4.12 (although I bought mine for $3.67 at WalMart)

What I Liked:
I had never read a BJ Daniels book before, and I think I might be the only person on the planet. With 50 books to her credit and several USA Today Bestsellers under her belt, BJ Daniels is a well-known and successful author. She even lives near me. And for some reason, I've never read a book.

I was in Wal-Mart picking up a different Harlequin book and I spied BJ's Hitched on the shelf and I thought, why not. It's only three and a half dollars.

Well, let me tell you, I wish I'd listened to the hype earlier. This book was fantastic. She has a new Winchester Ranch book out and I'm definitely going to pick that up as well. It was a real page-turner, and I haven't read one of those for a long time. Too long.

Generally, I try to steer clear of the romance novels that take place in Montana. After reading Nora Roberts' Montana romances and a few others, I just got sick of people writing about Montana like it's some kind of fairytale covered-wagon-y place where everyone still rides horses to work. Somehow, people get it in their heads that the whole state wears Stetsons, Wranglers, and Carhart. No, we do not. And I was even more skeptical of reading something that takes place in the North of MT, because that's where I grew up. And that's probably the place it bugs me the most when people get wrong.

And while there were plenty of cowboy hats and horses in this book, somehow, it didn't bother me. Could be because I know she's from Montana, and I know she knows what she's talking about. Could be her good writing. Could be a lot of stuff. I couldn't quite figure it out. But I loved it.

Her hero was just perfect, and I even didn't hate the heroine. If you've read any of my reviews, you know that I almost always hate the heroine. But this time, she was at least tolerable. It could have helped that this was a suspense book, so there was more going on than just the romance. And it was a very interesting story. Perhaps a little soap-opera-y. But let's face it. That's part of why we read romance novels, eh? I know it's part of why I do. I just can't help it.

Anyway, a well-crafted story, interesting characters, good setting, and lots of suspenseful moments. All-in-all, a pleasure to read. And this book definitely turned me into a BJ Daniels fan. I hope her backlist is available... :-)

(Oh, and by the way... this book was one of her USA Today bestsellers.)

Book Blurb:
Following a trail of secrets back to his family ranch, Jack Winchester needed a cover to solve a decades-old mystery. And Josey Smith offered him the perfect one—if she would agree to pose as his wife for a week. The gorgeous redhead was up to her neck in trouble, and Jack protected what was his, pretend marriage or not.
On the run from a killer, Josey had no choice but to accept Jack's proposal. She no longer trusted herself to tell the good guys from the bad, but the handsome, blue-eyed cowboy made her feel safe. Yet it soon became apparent that the sparks that flew between them were anything but fake, and the danger they faced was all too real…

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review: The Rancher's Promise by Jillian Hart

The Rancher's Promise
by Jillian Hart

Genre: Inspirational Romance (Contemporary)
Publisher: Harlequin
Cost: $4.40

What I Liked:
I've been on a Love Inspired kick recently and have pretty much enjoyed everything I've read. Or I thought I had, until I read The Rancher's Promise. Because if that's what it is to enjoy a book, then everything else has just been time wasters.

Okay, maybe that was a bit dramatic. But this was just such a fantastic book.

I'm always a little skeptical when I see "Recommended Read" stickered on the cover of a book. To me, that means "please buy this", and I'm very uninterested in marketing. But I loved the picture. It reminded me of home. And I've been on an LI kick, so I figured, "why not?"

So thankful I bought this book in the end. By the time I got to the "please subscribe" postcard in the middle, I was in can't-put-this-down mode. And I finished it all right there (but not before stopping to fill out the please-subscribe card, haha). I thought, "if this is the indication of the quality of Love Inspired books now, I need to subscribe immediately." And I did.

The story. Aaah, the story. Well, first of all, Jillian Hart created a superb story here. The characters felt real, they had real things at stake. Their relationship made sense to me, but also the reasons they couldn't be together made a lot of sense. It was very interesting to see two strong Christians in a story together for once, and in a way that wasn't annoying or preachy. I really enjoyed it.

But the best part, by far, was the hero. He was fantastic. He's the kind of guy we all hope is really out there somewhere. A guy with standards, a strong constitution, (a great body, hello, but that's not even really important when the rest of it is there with this guy), a soft heart, and a little bit of woundedness. Oh, boy. This one is a keeper. No library shelf for this one. I'm gonna read this again someday, and I want to have it around to inspire me later.

Book Blurb:
Rancher Justin Granger hasn't seen his high school sweetheart since she rode out of town with his heart. Now, "too good for this small town" Rori Cornell stands on his doorstep, seeking a job as his cook and housekeeper. He can't turn her away, not with the sadness and worry in her cornflower-blue eyes. He'll just have to avoid her between meals. But when Justin discovers that Rori's big dream has always been him, he finds his heart softening. And an old promise yearning to be kept.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Kimber An is Not Accepting ARCs

If your ARC was already agreed upon or already in the mail, it's fine.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Keepers of Sulbreth by Susan Gourley

February 2010, Medallion Press (sourced through Gazelle Books)
Fantasy, Paperback, Review Copy
Book 1 of the Sulbreth Chronicles

Summary from Gazelle

In this magical, medieval fantasy, forces must combine to save the kingdom of Futhark from the evil abyss that threatens it. Sitting within this land and high above an unexplored sea is Sulbreth, the seat from which the Otten family has always ruled. Standing next to their throne are the Keepers, gifted sorcerers who hide a guarded truth only the king understands. When Prince Jonared takes the throne, he also inherits a tragic and dark shadow ready to befall his land. He and the Keepers summon Sabelline Shelton, a rare sorceress gifted in metallurgy, for a duty she has always feared. But even her exceptional talents are not enough to forestall the soulless enemy issuing forth from the dark places of Futhark. When Cage Stone enters Sulbreth in a tournament to secure his sister's future, he too is called by a prophetic destiny to help fight the otherworldly foes and renew the seals that protect their kingdom.

Take note of the key points: magical medieval fantasy. And in it - a female protagonist. That's my kind of book! I don't think I need to explain why fantasy is good, but the medieval part is important. I like it when technology isn't involved in books (I do adore sci-fi, but fantasy has the edge). I like hearing how characters have to cook/have food cooked for them, the difficulties they have in sourcing the food. I love the costumes described, how they have to wash things by hand, weave objects, sew clothes and linen. Sabelline doesn't necessarily sew linen, but she does end up with a needle in her hand. That needle is her least favourite part about her role as a Keeper.

Keepers are very special, they are the ones who can wield magic. Perhaps because they can be absorbed in spell casting, Keepers have to have protection. This protection is found in the Marshals. Cage doesn't realise he is about to become a Marshal. I feel sorry for him, with all the plotting going on behind the scenes. But neither Cage nor those wanting him as Marshal realise just how vital he will be in Sabel's life.

Sabel is definitely a character to love. She's got a great sense of humour, she's highly talented but has some weaknesses (needles in particular). She's dreading having a Marshal, and becomes surprised by Cage's abilities. He saves her countless times. She is capable of defending herself, but when magic is involved invariably there are enemies who can't be defeated by one lone Keeper. She doesn't always listen to authority, and gets a bit peeved at the internal politics among the Keepers.

Much of this story is based on how Cage becomes a Marshal. It is about his and Sabel's life, but also the people around them. Cage's family play a significant part in the story, one which I feel will continue in the later books Also playing significant roles are Sabel's fellow Keepers and new King (can't forget about him). For me all the characters were believable - I either loved them or I hated them. I didn't see the twists coming, but they provided great cushion-in-front-of-eyes moments.

There is a romantic element involved here - one which is not overdone and will be in future books (almost definitely). It does involve Cage and Sabel...but they aren't the only ones! *rubs hands together* No, I'm not spilling the beans. All I will say is that you will be champing at the bit for the next book (I'm writing this while Ascot races are on in the background). The book ends with Cage and Sabel beginning their journey to the destination that Sabel has been training to visit, a land filled with danger at every turn. Life at home was bad enough - I dread to think what will happen to the duo in that particular land.

Content wise: a bit of fighting, a bit of demon gore. nearly mildly sensual but nothing happens.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kimber An's New Blog

I'll be moving over there from my Star Captain's Daughter blog in the coming weeks.  Enduring Romance will remain the same.  I just wanted something more Alaskan for my personal blog.   http://kimberansblog.blogspot.com/

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Harry Potter and My Reviewing Status

Good morning, Blog Buddies!  Between summertime activities and Tendonitis, I'm behind on my reviewing.  And I couldn't find anything I liked, except HARRY POTTER, and Whatshername Rowling doesn't need my help.  The good news is I just received an ARC which looks really cool. 
So, I read HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX.  Sorry, but I liked the movie better.  It's just I'm not the kind of girl who goes for the reeeeally long Fantasy novels, 'kay?  I mean, obviously, J.K. Rowling's a genius and I put her right up there with C.S. Lewis.  It's just that anything over 100,000 words and my eyes glaze over.  My daughter devoured it in a couple of hours, on the other hand, and can tell you exactly where all the kissing scenes and typoes are.  I found the British version, which you seen in the image above, for her at a secondhand store and she was thrilled out of her mind. 
I'll get the new review up by next weekend.  Thanks for your patience.
P.S. For those of you who also struggle with Tendonitis, check out Magnesium suppliments.  I do eat magnesium-rich food, like whole wheat bread and green leafy vegetables, but I'm still breastfeeding my baby.  This means she still gets the first and best of everything I eat, which leaves me deficient in Magnesium, which contributes to my struggle with Tendonitis.  But, she's worth it!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review: Her Captain Dares All by Eliza Knight

Her Captain Dares All
by Eliza Knight

Genre: Spicy Historical Romance (Regency)
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Price: $4.00

What I Liked:
Well, I've now read all three of the "Men of the Sea" series by Eliza Knight. And while this wasn't my favorite of the three (Her Captain Returns was the BEST), this was very good. I liked that the settings were unique. It gave a new feel to the story. Of course, the hero was majorly hunky. Knight writes fantastic heroes, trust me. I've read probably five of them now, and they're all uber yummy. Jeremy Williams, in Her Captain Dares All, was no different.

My favorite thing about these books is that they're easily consumable but not forgettable. They're just over 100 pages (so, novella length), but contain a whole story. I never feel like I get slighted on the story when it comes to Eliza Knight's novellas. But they're easily readable in about an hour. I love that. I can get totally caught up in them on the exercise bike, or on a commuter flight, and not feel like I have to put them down before I'm ready to. I really enjoy that. I know a lot of people sort of look down their noses at novellas... I think that's unfortunate. I have really gotten into reading them lately, and have found them to be just as enjoyable as novels.

I enjoy these spicy Regency novels that Eliza Knight writes. I like her characters, I like the plot lines, I like the resolutions. I think she writes relationships very well, and she is a master of sexual tension. I thoroughly recommend these Men of the Sea books. This particular one is a new release (just last month), and the last in the series. A great conclusion to a great series of yummy British Naval Captains.

Book Blurb:
Pursued by kidnappers, Lady Tessa Woodward is running for her life. When handsome Captain Jeremy Williams comes to her rescue in the backstreets of Paris, she persuades him to help her escape France and return to her home in England.

Captain Jeremy Williams is captivated by Lady Tessa's fiery nature and agrees to give her passage aboard his ship. Once on board, his desire grows and soon reveals a sensual side to the woman he can’t deny. But when danger threatens his lady, will the captain dare all to save her?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfeld (really, I mean it)

I posted a sorta review of LEVIATHAN  a while back.  http://enduringromance.blogspot.com/2010/05/leviathan-by-scott-westerfeld.html
But, I didn't like the book well enough to finish it and post a review.  I knew it was a good book, so I handed it over to my daughter because she's a member of the target audience, Young Adult.  Well, she liked it a lot, though she lamented the utter lack of kissing scenes. Wonder where she gets that from?  Certainly not from her mother!  Anyway, here's her review, my daughter, henceforth known as Kimber, Jr.
This is probably the most confusing book I’ve ever read. Not that it’s bad, of course-just confusing. And I loved it.

This story starts with Aleksander Ferdinand being taken by his friends Otto Klopp, master of mechaniks, and Wildcount Volger for a supposed “night training ride” in a Stormwalker. Unfortunately, it turns out to be much more than that. See, Alek is supposed to inherit his dad’s stuff, right? Well, he can’t. Why? Because his mom’s not royal. Now they’re both dead, assassinated via poison. And all Alek’s got is his Stormwalker and his team of awesome guys.
Meanwhile, over in London, a girl named Deryn Sharp is getting ready to take her aeronautics test. See, girls aren’t allowed in the British Army. So how’d Deryn get in? She’s disguised as a boy!
In any case, Deryn is sent up in a Huxley, a kind of jellyfish filled with hydrogen. But when a storm blows up, she’s forced to free the Huxley from its rope, leaving her drifting with no place to land! Luckily, however, at some point a giant airship called-bingo!-the Leviathan comes and is able to rescue Deryn and the Huxley.
Meanwhile, Alek isn’t having much better luck. He runs into an eight-legged walker called the Herkules, and boy is it unfriendly! It sends out scouts, which shower the Stormwalker with phosphorus, causing it to send out clouds of smoke! This effectively gives away its position to the Herkules, which can blow the Stormwalker into oblivion without so much as a backwards glance! Luckily, with the help of one of his father’s swords, Alek is able to hack off the phosphorus, and the Stormwalker-and all its men-get away safely.
Back on the Leviathan, Deryn is in for a rough ride. A squadron of enemy airplanes has spotted the Leviathan, and is fixing to shoot it down.
Luckily, all the planes are shot down. Unluckily, so is the Leviathan! It lands very near the place where Alek has arrived to wait out the war in hiding. He decides to bring medicine to the Darwinists (as Alek calls them), against Volger’s wishes. Hey, they’re supposed to be enemies, after all!
In any case, on the way there, Alek meets Deryn, (or Dylan-Deryn’s “boy” name) and manages to simultaneously freak out a bunch of hydrogen sniffers and almost shoot a gun into a cloud of hydrogen that would then commence to blow up, thereby incinerating Alek and Deryn. Whoo.
After that, Alek is taken onboard the Leviathan as a kind of prisoner. There he meets the Darwinian scientist Dr. Barlow and her pet Tasmanian tiger, Tazza. He also learns how to do “egg duty” for a bunch of eggs Dr. Barlow brought.
A little later, Volger leads a mission to rescue Alek. However, they cannot ignore the wounded Leviathan! Volger agrees to go back and get food, so that the ship can produce more hydrogen and get airborne. However, Volger is forced to stay, so as to ensure the Clankers’ (as Deryn calls them) return.
In return, Dr. Barlow, Tazza, and Deryn come along with them. But when something goes wrong, it’s Deryn who rescues them by cutting the supply sled off from the Stormwalker. You go, girl!
Just then, a couple of enemy zeppelins come along, seeking to capture the Leviathan! Luckily, it and the Stormwalker, working together, manage to blow up one zeppelin, and chase the other off. However, the Germans now know where they are, and on top of that the Stormwalker toppled, and is now unable to get up.

Will the Clankers and the Darwinists find a way to work together in order to get back to London? And, when it comes to a showdown between the Herkules and the Leviathan, who will prevail? Sorry, you’re outta luck. I’m not in much of a blabbing-about-the-ending mood.
Anyway, here’s the stats:
It’s really a cool book overall. It’s got science fiction-y parts, like the “fabricated” animals and the Walkers, and then there’s history-y parts like the war (it’s set in World War I) and the references to Charles Darwin, the famous biologist. I also love the hero and heroine, Alek and Deryn, and the Tasmanian tiger, Tazza. They’re cool.
Like I said, it’s quite confusing. And it’s a bit of a cliffhanger. But what I’m really disappointed about is that Deryn never got to tell Alek she’s a girl. She almost did, but was interrupted by none other than Dr. Barlow! Grrrrr. And if she hadn’t, it would probably have grown into a kissing scene! HONESTLY! Just one more paragraph, and they could’ve kissed. Grrrr.
Anyway, this is another awesome young adult from Scott Westerfield, author of Uglies, which I’ve read, too. Confusing, it may be, but awesome, it is also, as the wise Master Yoda may say. And he knows a thing or two about books!
***Kimber An here.  Isn't my baby brilliant?  Mommy wuv her so much.***  (Yeah, she's going to take away my HARRY POTTER privilages for saying that, I just know it.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

SUGAR RUSH on Authonomy


Evil Ways by Justin Gustainis

January 2009, Solaris
Paperback, Review Copy
Dark Fantasy

(As I reviewer from England, I may have different spellings (mostly not typos) - watch out for the extra u!)

Summary from Solaris

Supernatural investigator Quincey Morris and his partner Libby Chastain, investigate a series of murders where white witches are being hunted and killed - and Libby may be next on the list. From Iraq to America, a trail of clues is pointing to eccentric billionaire, Walter Grobius, a man fascinated with a devastating evil that can be traced back to biblical times. What's more, it seems he may well be involved in a sick scheme for white supremacy across the USA, and Morris and Chastain find themselves in their most epic case as they look to prevent the apocalypse from being released.

Evil Ways continues the electrifying new series of supernatural thrillers following the exploits of investigators Quincey Morris and Libby Chastain

Somehow I nearly read this book twice. Please don't think its a dull book. It's very memorable. I read a lot of books, half the time while I'm feeling sleepy. I picked the book up, started reading and it felt familiar. So I skipped a few chapters thinking I'd started it but hadn't finished. Ending up skim reading until the end of the book, and finally figured out that I read it before :) I liked the second, brief, read as much as the first.

I haven't read previous adventures of Quincey and Libby. Think of it as the TV series Bones, with magic thrown in. It's really cool! Libby has some powers (and impressive back up in her coven) - I doubt few people can claim to have a water sprite help ward off an intruder. That water sprite fought back. (There were other great moments in the book, but for me, that was the coolest scene). Quincey I think is a bit out of his depth compared to Libby, but it is his tactics that in the end help solve the investigation, and save Libby in the process).

The friendship between Quincey and Libby is realistic for me: there's a bit of friendly banter, and they understand (most of the time) each other's capabilities. That doesn't mean they won't push their abilities to the limits - as people who fight crime I think it's in their nature to take risks. They aren't immune from making mistakes - the mistakes could cost them their lives, and seriously hamper the investigation. I think it's right to say this is a thriller, because something happens in every chapter, and almost on every page.

Content: Sensual to highly sensual (not always in a nice way) strong adult scenes especially when the bad guys are around. These have the impact intended, and led to lots of whoohoo's when the book concluded. It did keep me gripped to my seat, and glaring as life made me put the book down. Language is quite strong in areas too. Violence = violent rating, but well within context.

Evil Ways has two of my favourite genres combined: fantasy and thriller. I'm looking forward to reading more stories with the white witch Libby and the resourceful Quincey. (The purple cover got my vote too!)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Review: Dangerous by Diana Palmer

by Diana Palmer

Genre: Contemporary Romance (Western)
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Publisher: HQN Books
Price: $14.58

What I Liked:
I just adored this hero. I am a sucker for the wounded, tragic hero. So I loved this guy. He's sarcastic (and very funny), protective, dark and (surprise) dangerous. But not as dangerous as what is about to happen to them.

And that is a great adventure.

I've never been a big fan of western romances. In fact, I generally steer clear of anything with a cowboy hat/boot or a cactus on the front. But I just read BJ Daniels' recent release. And I read this Diana Palmer book, and I might just be a cowboy convert.

I thought the plot was interesting, the characters were engaing, the writing was good, there was plenty of humor, and the ending was satisfying. All in all, I'd say a great read. If you're interested in Western romances (not historical, but alive in today's world), I'd definitely check this out. Also, if you like contemporary romances (but not Westerns), it's not so cowboy-focused that you won't still enjoy it. I'll be interested to hear, if you've read this or if you buy it and read it, what you think of it.

Book Blurb:
Tall, lean and headstrong, FBI agent Kilraven lives by his own rules. And one of those rules includes keeping his hands off Jacobsville's resident sweetheart, Winnie Sinclair, no matter the temptation. Shy and innocent, Winnie couldn't handle a man like him--a merciless man with a haunted past. And this small town may hold not only the woman he fights to resist, but the answers to a cold case that is very personal to Kilraven.

Winnie has had her own share of sorrow and senses Kilraven's pain. Even though she tries to deny it, the gentle 911 operator feels a connection with the darkly handsome agent. When he makes the disturbing discovery that her family's unsavory past might have a bearing in his case, Winnie is determined to help him crack it... and the ice around his heart.

As they combine forces in a dangerous investigation, the stakes rise ever higher. WInnie's life is on the line, and she'll need Kilraven more than ever. But if they are to have a future together, her ruthless Texan will need to confront his past and risk it all for their love.