Thursday, November 26

Review: Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb

The book being reviewed today is part of one of the longest series being written in the romance field. Seriously, if someone had told me that I'd still be hooked after 35 books, I'd be very doubtful. Let see, I made it to book #6/7 in the Stephanie Plums series, book #15 of the Dark Hunter series before giving up/being more selective. So yes, 35 books in the In Death series and I'm still loving it. I do admit that around book #20 (Divided/Visions in Death), I did consider stopping... but Ms Roberts just came back strong afterwards.

So what is so special about this series? Aside from great characters, well developed relationships, good plots and excellent writing? I don't know LOL. You can't help but love Eve, be drawn to Roarke and be curious and interested in their relationship and what the future holds for them and their friends :D

Today, joining me for this buddy review is Tabitha, from Tabz, Just another Readeraholic :) Tabz has been around blogland for a while, but has only recently started her own blog... and good thing she did, because I didn't know that she was a fan of this series too!! :) When I saw that she was eagerly waiting for Kindred in Death, I asked her if she was interested to buddy review it with me... and she was :D

A big hand of applause for Tabz's first buddy review :D

***Warning: Review contains spoilers!***

Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb
published by Putnam in November 2009 (HC)

When the newly promoted captain of the NYPSD and his wife return a day early from their vacation, they were looking forward to spending time with their bright and vivacious sixteen-year-old daughter who had stayed behind.

Not even their worst nightmares could have prepared them for the crime scene that awaited them instead. Brutally murdered in her bedroom, Deena's body showed signs of trauma that horrified even the toughest of cops; including our own Lieutenant Eve Dallas, who was specifically requested by the captain to investigate.

When the evidence starts to pile up, Dallas and her team think they are about to arrest their perpetrator; little do they know yet that someone has gone to great lengths to tease and taunt them by using a variety of identities. Overconfidence can lead to careless mistakes. But for Dallas, one mistake might be all she needs to bring justice.
Genre: romantic suspense, futuristic
Series: In Death series, book #35

The Story: Eve and Peabody thought that after the last case in Promises in Death involving the death of a colleague, it could not get worse. They were wrong. In Kindred in Death, Eve finds herself primary on top priority and very delicate case: the murder of the newly promoted captain of the NYPSD's daughter. It's not only who she was: a vibrant teenager with great dreams, but also how she was killed: beaten, tortured and repeatedly raped before being choked to death. Now it's up to Eve to find out who and why.

After some work, Eve and her team find out that the homicide is related to a case the new captain worked on years ago. Then, when the second body is found, Eve quickly realizes that they have to work against the watch to find out the killer... because he has many more victims line up.

Tabitha: Hey Nath! How did you like it?

Nath: Overall? I thought Kindred in Death was pretty good and I enjoyed it :)

The thing that surprised me most when I read the synopsis was that the case was so closely related to cops again, especially after the events of Promises in Death. I was worried that it'd be a bit redundant, but it turned out to be an interesting case.

Tabitha: I enjoyed the novel too but some things were off with this book. Some behaviors and comments appeared too formulaic, for lack of a better word? No, maybe redundant is the better word? Especially the opening scene when Eve and Roarke were relaxing on her day off. Maybe not exact scenes in previous books but similarities.

Nath: You think that opening scene was redundant? I thought it was actually a nice change, to see Eve and Roarke enjoy a day off. Although I think I know what you mean... Although the settings were different, the scene felt familiar because of their action and the writing... But that's inevitable after 35 books! I think it's actually a good thing because it keeps this consistency in Eve and Roarke's characters. Plus, what do you want them to do? LOL I mean, as a married couple with healthy libido... :P

Tabitha: No, the scene itself was not redundant. I like Roarke/Eve moments together. It was the way it was written, something, was familiar. I can't point my finger on it. But then again I can barely recall what I read from last week so...maybe I'm just imagining things? haha

Another thing is that I found Kindred in Death to be similar to both Promises in Death and Judgment in Death. KiD is more focused on the case than on the relationship of Eve and Roarke as similar to Promises; while the connection to how the victims were picked parallels Judgment.

Nath: Yes, there were some similarities between KiD and PiD, but it wasn't a bad thing - it could have been far more redundant.

In Death books usually fall into two categories: 1) more case-focused and 2) more relationship-focus. Everyone loves the relationship-focused books, but seriously, how many argument/fight/discovery can Eve and Roarke go through?

Tabitha: I like both type of categories. I've always preferred to watch crime TV shows so the more case-focus books gives me just as much pleasure as the relationship-focus. The cop killer theme is similar to JiD but I just realized something...I got the wrong author mixed up! It was in Karen Rose's Count to Ten and how the victims were connected that gave me pause in similarity. The villain targeted people he believes wronged him and his family.

Nath: I enjoy both too :) I just think though it's more realistic to have more books case-focused than relationship-focus :D It'd be tedious if something happened to the relationships (either Eve/Roarke, Louise/Charles, Peabody/McNab, etc.) in every book, especially given the timeline of the series. In the books, from Naked in Death up to now, a bit more than 2 years have gone by, right? For readers, it's been long, but for the characters, not really. To see so much growth already in the characters (Peabody/McNab relationship, etc.), it's pretty impressive.

I have to admit, Judgment in Death is one that I've only skimmed, so I wouldn't be able to tell you how similar they are to one another, although if I remember correctly, JiD was internal no?

And LOL, we read too many books, Tabz! It's no wonder we get authors and books mix up. However, you're right, in Count to Ten and Kindred in Death, both killers were seeking revenge against people they believed have "wronged" them. Although there are still some differences. In Count to Ten, the killer was definitively bad and psychotic. He was already hurting people before he decided to take revenge (all those women he raped), etc. Also, in Count to Ten, there was a trigger to the killer's action... which I thought was missing in this book.

Anyway, you know what they say right? Great minds think alike... I guess twisted minds do too ^_^;

Tabitha: Yes, JiD was internal. It was the fact that the murdered victim involved a cop / his family and the emphasis on the search for a cop killer, so to speak, was the similarity that ding for me.

Yep, definitely, the killer was twisted. The order of how the victims were selected is was really unique and I find it amazing how Eve was able to pick up on that. In fact, it astounds me altogether how she fit all the clues and narrow on one suspect considering how far back she had to search to find the case. By the way, do cops and social workers really have such good memories? Okay, cops should have a good memory but social workers? I can barely remember what I did last week versus something that happened last year or five years ago. Geez.

Nath: It's really great to see Eve's mind at work, that's why the In Death books are so successful in my opinion. I mean, besides the relationship. What I like most about the In Death series is that the clues are not too convenient. Like the characters don't always get lucky or get strikes of genius or stuff like that. I mean, sometimes, yes, they do get lucky... like in this one, they got two witnesses that saw the subject. However, a lot of time, it's based on investigative work.

And yes, I do believe that some people such as cops and social workers have such good memory. Especially cops. I mean, in their line of work, it's important for them to pay attention to details and stuff. Also, they deal with people and people can make a very strong impression. It just depends on line of work... Do I remember how my gel looked 2 months ago or how much yield I got? No. But then, my gels never spoke to me. I never had to "break" my yield.

Tabitha: Lol, you’re right. If cops don’t have a good memory and pay attention to details, they wouldn’t be able to do their job right.

So, I find the way Eve's mind work is hilarious. Her comment when she saw someone dressed up as a peace sign on Peace Day? Funny. Then her reaction to the "noise" when she and Roarke were in Alabama had me cracking up even more. It was so typical of Eve to make more out of a frog ribbiting. haha

Another thing I found Kindred in Death unique is that NR was able to combine the pasts of all three people into one case. It is not as heartbreaking anymore for me when Eve reenact a crime scene that involves rape because it’s been used frequently in recent books. Another frequency is the dreams -- though not as frequent in Kindred in Death.

Nath: Actually, this was one of my issues with this book. I do agree that Ms. Roberts combined the past of Eve, Roarke and Summerset well in this book with the case, but at the same time, I felt she was trying a bit too hard to reach out to all the characters. First, the nature of the case made Eve's past resurfaced, but also, it stirred up some old memories in Roarke and Summerset's past about Magdalena. I don't know, I just felt it was too much for one book. Also, she gave the readers updates on all the "recurring" past characters, which is weird since we haven't heard from many in a few books. It just seemed to me she was trying too hard with only one book and missed the opportunity to make it more powerful.

My other complaint is about Darrin's motive for seeking revenge - I just don't get it. Or perhaps, I should say, Vance's motive for all this. I mean, I understand that Darrin's been brainwashed by his father and would seek revenge in his twisted mind... But why did Vance agree to let Darrin takes revenge? It doesn't seem to me that he loved his wife. Also, wouldn't he lose something if Darrin was arrested?

Tabitha: I don't get either why Vance allowed Darrin to take revenge but I think I can picture how it came about. Darrin probably wondered what happened to his mother and Vance had to reinvent his version of the story in order to avert any blame off of him. And I think the more a curious little boy push for answers; the easier it was for Vance to vindicate someone else. You know, the more complex the situation the easier it is to shift blames away from him as it would be too far out of his hands to do anything. I can't say that Vance thought about being caught. He probably figured he's a pro doing it for so many years now. Besides, he had money hidden away so even if Darrin was arrested he would still be comfortable financially. And maybe he would be able to find someone else to mold as another Darrin?

Nath: Oh, I understand what happened to Darrin. I'm not questioning his motives really. It's more the father. Why trained/turned your son into a killer. What benefit does that bring to you?

Tabitha: The power and satisfaction of being able to "create" a certain person and to mold that person to doing what he wants? Some people get off on that stuff. Also, Vance may not have cared for his wife but she did bring him money and because the cops put her away they "ruined" her, so to speak, because she did come out of a jail a harsher person.

Nath: I don't think Vance cared if she was changed after her time in prison. As long as she was able to work for him, he was fine. She didn't die because she was ruined in prison, she died because he betrayed her.

While the case was interesting, I have to say that the strength of this book was once again the interactions between the characters. For example, it was fun to see the difference in personalities between Eve and Peabody. LOL :) Peabody being sooo girly, always going on a diet and stuff. It's funny.

Tabitha: I really love Eve and Peabody's interactions. I like to think that their personalities complement each other, almost like opposites attract in a relationship. Despite seeing all the crazy stuff since being Eve's partner, Peabody hasn't lost her personality and I think that helps lighten Eve a bit.

Oh! And another thing I found funny is when Roarke and McNabb both yelled at Eve when she interrupted them while they were working their computer magic.

Nath: LOL, funny scene indeed. Always fun to see Roarke's geeky side! Peabody sure hasn't lost her personality. Actually, it seemed to have expanded LOL :)

Last month, I re-read a couple of In Death books and it was great to re-visit them in the early days :) You can see how much most the characters have grown. LOL, you know one person I want to see? Feeney's wife! LOL :)

While re-reading the books, I was actually wondering about some recurring characters that we haven't seen in a while... like Jaime. So it was weird to see him suddenly appearing in this novel. Weird, but in a good way. I love Jaime, he's so funny and adds a nice touch to this cast. One of my favorite pairing in the series, Charles and Louise, has finally tied the knot. I was also glad to get news from other characters such as the reconstituted DeBlass family (Richard, Elise, Kevin and Nikki). However, to see Ms. Roberts allude to so many characters... Did you have the feeling that she was wrapping up some loose ends? I wonder if it's a sign that perhaps Ms Roberts is going to wrap up the series in the near future?

Tabitha: Noooo, take that back please. The series is NOT ending in the near future. Like you, this is the only series that have me so hooked after so many books so I don’t want to see it end yet. It hasn’t even been 2 years since I discovered the series! Lol.

I like the recurring characters but to be honest, I can't recall who Elise and Nikki are. I like that we got to see Jamie again because he made such an impression on me in the previous novels. But as for Charles and Louise, I wasn't really excited to read about their wedding. I guess because they're too tame -- too normal as compared to how Eve is? Lol, if that makes sense. But there were so little scenes with McNabb and Peabody. I guess with the case being a high priority one, everything and everyone had to be serious and busy working the case.

Nath: I don't think it's a matter of the case being a high priority one, but more being realistic and balancing all the characters' "screentime" well. McNabb and Peabody had had a lot of time in the past books. I think a mistake Ms Roberts did was dragged Charles and Louise's engagement and wedding a bit too long. As a result, it lost a bit of the excitement.

I was so glad to see Jaime! It amuses me to see Roarke trying to lure him into working for him LOL :P As for Elise, she first appeared in Naked in Death as the mother of the first LC that was murdered. She and her husband later adopted Kevin, a boy that reminded Roarke of his past (in Vengeance in Death), and Nikki, the little survivor girl in Survivor in Death.

Tabitha: Thanks for refreshing my memory. I still can't recall Elise but I remember Nikki now. Her name doesn't ring a bell but the little girl in that story stuck with me.

Nath: LOL, it's okay. They're not really important characters anyway.

Kindred in Death is a A- for me. It wasn't perfect, but close enough for me :) What about you? I hope you did enjoy it as much as me :D

Tabitha: I can't decide between B+/A-. I love the uniqueness of how the victims were picked. Btw, only three more months until the next full length In Death novel, Fantasy in Death, is released!

Monday, November 16

Review: Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas

Today’s buddy reviewed book is Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas. Yes, there’s been a lot of reviews around, so what we’ll say probably won’t be new... but the delivery will be different since today is a ménage-à-trois buddy review :) So who’s buddy reviewing it with me? Ames and our dear friend, Isabel.

Tempt Me at Twilight was easy to choose for buddy reviewing, because I knew Ames and I would read it and relatively soon after its release date. Around the time we were ready to start buddy reviewing it, Isabel was also done reading it, so we invited her to join us :D

Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas
published by St.Martin’s Press in September 2009

Poppy Hathaway loves her unconventional family, though she longs for normalcy. Then fate leads to a meeting with Harry Rutledge, an enigmatic hotel owner and inventor with wealth, power, and a dangerous hidden life. When their flirtation compromises her own reputation, Poppy shocks everyone by accepting his proposal-only to find that her new husband offers his passion, but not his trust. Harry was willing to do anything to win Poppy-except to open his heart. All his life, he has held the world at arm''s length...but the sharp, beguiling Poppy demands to be his wife in every way that matters. Still, as desire grows between them, an enemy lurks in the shadows. Now if Harry wants to keep Poppy by his side, he must forge a true union of body and soul, once and for all...
Genre: Historical romance
Series: The Hathaways, Book #3

Nath: So ladies, what did you think of Tempt Me at Twilight?

I really liked Harry and Poppy and thought they were great characters! It made me enjoy the book.

I have to admit, I don’t really remember Poppy from the previous books ^_^; At first, I thought this was Beatrix book and Poppy was Beatrix! I mean, you remember Beatrix because of her antics, Win because she was so weak and Amelia, just because... but Poppy seems to have slipped under the radar, so it was nice to get her story... and I really liked Harry. I enjoyed his ruthlessness :)

Isabel: Ok, I had a hard time getting into the book at first. Of course I started it when I was very busy, so that probably played a part in it. Anyway, for the most part, I enjoyed it.

I’m not sure if I like what Harry did to win Poppy. That was pretty ruthless. But you always hear about the woman trapping the man, it was kind of nice to see the man trapping the woman. Ha ha. But I thought Poppy fell in love too soon with Harry. She claims she loved Michael yet she quickly got over him. Maybe she didn’t love him like she thought.

I didn’t like Michael though. Too much of a daddy’s boy. I’m glad that didn’t work.

Ames: Harry - I loved his ruthlessness. I thought he was spot on about Michael (who WAS a total daddy's boy) and took what he wanted. Because if Michael truly had wanted Poppy, he would have had her.

Nath: I agree with Ames, if Michael really wanted Poppy and had guts, he would have defied his father. You don't get the girl if you're a coward. Personally, I think Michael would have been too weak to handle Poppy and her family… and LOL, Izzy, men try to trap heroines all the time, but it’s all the disgusting, fortune-hunter, non-hero material ones!

What makes me like Harry's ruthlessness so much, it’s that it was an integral part of his personality and he didn’t make excuses for it. He even acknowledged that part of him.

Isabel: I liked Harry, don’t get me wrong. I like how went after what he wanted, I just don’t like how he did things with Poppy. I’m sure he could have compromised her without having to expose Michael and Poppy’s relationship to the dad.

Nath: I think it goes with the ruthlessness really. Easiest way to win is to strike your opponent's weakness. I didn't think it was underhand, I actually thought it was clever :P

Ames: Now Poppy and Harry. I really enjoyed these two. You can see how Poppy made Harry think and see her as being different from other women of his acquaintance. And Harry totally shook things up for Poppy. She wanted her safe, respectable man (which annoyed me about her - quit judging your family woman!) and instead she got someone who could truly challenge her - and he got the same thing. And I like how possessive Harry was over Poppy. Like how he wanted her to have nothing to do with Michael.

And yeah, Poppy annoyed me though in her thoughts towards her family. Heck, they sounded like fun!

Isabel: I can understand Poppy though with her family. Cause as a teenager, I remember being embarrassed of my family. Now it’s like nothing. If you don’t like my family whatever.

Ames: I think Poppy annoyed me just because for myself, I don't care what people think and I couldn't like a character that was like that. It was just my own internal stuff. I would have liked her to have been a stronger character I guess.

Nath: Hmmm, at least Poppy still loved her family. She wasn’t ashamed of them or anything, she just wanted quiet. That’s how I saw it.

Harry and Poppy were definitively the strength of this book and I enjoyed it; however,I didn't LOVE the book. There are some few things that bothered me.

I thought Ms Kleypas had a great story and the book had great potential... but in the end, she didn't go deep enough and Tempted Me at Twilight ended up being very superficial or very close to the surface. A lot of things were glossed over... For example, Poppy accepting Harry –they just gave her a sob story about his past and everything was okay, she was ready to accept him.

Also, the mystery at the end was totally useless and we could have done without it.

Ames: I agree Nath, that the mystery bit at the end was useless, and until you mentioned it, I had forgotten about it.

Isabel: I think if Lisa Kleypas wanted to throw a wrench in the marriage after they came back from Hampshire, I think it should have been something involving Michael. I don’t know what but I did like the bit with Harry being kidnapped. Although I was impressed with how Leo found where Harry was hidden.

Nath: You’re right Isabel. If the mystery had more to do with the story at hand, it would have been more interesting instead of being superfluous. LOL, I’m trying to imagine Michael kidnapping Harry, but at the same time, I’m thinking he’d never had the guts! :P

Isabel: That’s true, Michael never would have kidnapped Harry. But I’m sure he could have cause trouble somehow. But then he was drinking a lot and alcohol sometimes makes you do things you normally wouldn’t. I agree, if Michael really loved Poppy, he would’ve fought for her.

Ames: Oh, there is another thing I want to add - the hotel employees. I thought they were cute and there was a funny scene when they were using vegetables as metaphors for making love. So someone asked if something was wrong with Harry's carrot and how come Poppy and Harry weren't making salad together. I thought that was cute.

"What gives you the impression that he has not yet, er...sampled the watercress?"

"Watercress?" Jake repeated incredulously.

"Cresson." Broussard gave him a superior look. "A metaphor. And much nicer than the metaphors you English use for the same thing."

"I never use metaphors," Jake muttered.

"Bien sur, you have no imagination." The chef turned back to the housekeeper. "Why is there doubt about the relations between Monsieur and Madame Rutledge?"

"The sheets," she said succinctly.

Jake nearly choked on his pastry. "You have the housemaids spying on them?" he asked around a mouthful of custard and cream.

"Not at all," the housekeeper said defensively. "It's only that we have vigilant maids who tell me everything. And even if they didn't, one hardly needs great powers of observation to see that they do not behave like a married couple."

The chef looked deeply concerned. "You think there's a problem with his carrot?"

"Watercress, carrot - is everything food to you?" Jake demanded.

The chef shrugged. "Oui."

"Well," Jake said testily, "there is a string of Rutledge's past mistressed who would undoubtedly testify there is nothing wrong with his carrot."

"Alors, he is a virile man...she is a beautiful woman..why are they not making salad together?"

: Oh yeah!! I thought the vegetable metaphors were funny too. I liked Jack Valentine. I wonder if he’ll get his own book someday.

Ames: He was an interesting character, that's for sure.

Nath: That was one of the best scene in the book, LOL. Wished we’d have seen more of them.

As for Jack Valentine, perhaps he’s Beatrix’ beau?

Hey, what did you think of Ms Marks and Harry being siblings? Really. Sigh, it sounds like a repeat of Merripen and Cam which is extremely annoying in my opinion. I was really looking forward to their book, but not anymore.

Isabel: Leo and Miss Marks. I’m wondering what happened between the two of them. I wonder if they succumbed to temptation and that’s why he left. I can’t wait to read his book.

Ames: Hey nath, why would it bother you that Miss Marks and Harry were half-siblings? Just because it was done with Cam and Merripen?

Ok, I have to be honest here: I am not looking forward to Leo and Miss Marks' books. I'm all about Beatrix at this point. I cannot wait to see what kind of man will fall for lovely Beatrix. And yeah I love her character because of the animals. LOL

Nath: Well for one, yes, because it was done with Cam and Merripen. It’s simply too much of a coincidence for me to take it. One set of lost siblings, okay… but two? Also, we all know Ms Marks is going to end up with Leo and this sibling relationships and all the foreshadowings in the book clearly hint at a bigger "mystery" about Miss Marks’ identity. I don't know, why couldn't she just be uptight by nature and not by circumstances?

So yes, now, I’m with you Ames and eagerly awaiting for Beatrix book! She's an interesting character. Her family finds her exasperating with her pets, but the girl is smart and has her own personality and can really think for herself. She's actually very wise in her own way.

Tempt Me at Twilight is a B for me. I enjoyed it, but I think it could have been more, especially with good characters such as Harry and Poppy.

Ames: Tempt Me at Twilight is a B for me too.

Isabel: I'd say the same, a B.

Wednesday, November 11

Review: Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts

When Monroe first joined us back in August (already!!), we said we'd do a four-way review. We discussed books we wanted to read and kind of left it at that. Then, around mid-October, during one of our email exchange, Chantal reminded us that we still haven't decided what book to read for the ultimate buddy review LOL :) Discussion started again, with updated titles... and then, there it was... the perfect book to be reviewed: Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts. All of us had read Vision in White and liked it more or less. (Chantal insert: Not me, it was DNF for me, lol. But I'm a sport and took one for the team with BOR.) Bed of Roses seemed to be the perfect book, as it was coming out soon and therefore ensured that we'd read it more or less at the same time.

So here it is, our first 4-way review! Hopefully, not our last either :P

***Warning: review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk!***

Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts
published by Berkley in October 2009

As little girls MacKensie, Emma, Laurel, and Parker spent hours acting out their perfect make believe "I do" moments. Years later their fantasies become reality when they start their own wedding planning company to make every woman's dream day come true. With perfect flowers, delicious desserts, and joyful moments captured on film, Nora Roberts's Bride Quartet shares each woman's emotionally magical journey to romance.

In Bed of Roses, florist Emma Grant is finding career success with her friends at Vows wedding planning company, and her love life appears to be thriving. Though men swarm around her, she still hasn't found Mr. Right. And the last place she's looking is right under her nose.

But that's just where Jack Cooke is. He's so close to the women of Vows that he's practically family, but the architect has begun to admit to himself that his feelings for Emma have developed into much more than friendship. When Emma returns his passion-kiss for blistering kiss-they must trust in their history...and in their hearts.
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Bride Quartet, Book #2

Ames: Oh, I'm really enjoying it so far! The whole friends to lovers things really revs my motor. Rowr!

Monroe: LOL I can't wait to read it... I hope someone gets preggers! LOL

Ames: NO. No preggers in this book. LOL

Monroe: LMAO, I just said that because I know how you hate that! LOL

Nath: LOL, girls, do you think we sound like the ladies at Vows in the Quartet series? :)

Monroe: Of course...we after all are all great friends! :o)

So what did you think of Bed of Roses?

Ames: I enjoyed it! I don't know how many times I can say I like the friends to lovers theme.

Monroe: Oh I loved it too!!!! Jack was a hottie!

Ames: I liked that this was a straight up contemporary romance. No crazy paranormal stuff going on, no nasty villains. This is how I imagine people could fall in love realistically.

Chantal: I started to skim about half way through. I really liked Jack and Em, but their scenes together were rather bland to me. The stuff happening around the love story--the friendship with the girls, the wedding business--that was all interesting, but the relationship between the H/H wasn't up to par. Disappointing because I liked them as characters on their own but when they were together I was just skimming on through.

Nath: I'm in between Ames/Monroe and Chantal. On one hand, I really enjoyed the book - the friendship, the business, Jack and Emma's relationship. I thought that Jack and Emma's relationship had a lot of sweet and cute moments, but I understand why Chantal thought it was bland. The scenes were more day-to-day and like Ames said, more realistic. It's two people knowing each other for years and finally acting on their attraction. There was no real trigger as to why they got together and no real suspense/mystery/villains, etc. to make the relationship more exciting. However, I didn't mind that. Instead, my issue with this book was the conflict.

Ames: With Jack, you kind of new what his issue was going to be. I saw their "fight" coming a mile away.

Monroe: Ya true...I was waiting for it! OMG when he put those keys in his pocket I flipped! LOL He WAS kinda a jerk BUT she did let herself into his house. BUT then again they've known each other for years. I was on the fence about that! LOL

Ames: Well she went into the situation KNOWING that she was crossing a line. But how else do you move forward? She was going to tell him how she felt anyway.

Chantal: For what it's worth, I didn't have an issue with her going in to his place.

Ames: I didn't have an issue either, like I said, they needed to move forward.

Nath: I don't have an issue with Emma going to Jack's place. I do agree that Jack was a bit of a jerk, but I do think that Emma really over-reacted in that scene. They've been going out for a few months only, she let herself in his house without his permission and he had a shitty day. I mean, seriously, put yourself in Jack's place. You got a shitty day, a headache. You come home and find someone has invaded your place - whether it's your parents, siblings or lover, it doesn't matter. I'd be pissed like Jack too. I don't think his reaction was at all about their relationship moving forward.

Also, Emma is the one who always felt conscious about being over at his place - the toothbrush and so on... but then, again, I blame Parker for all that! LOL.

Chantal: I agree. As much as I thought his reaction was a bit hurtful, I would have taken it for what it was--him just having a bad day.

Nath: Aside the fact that I thought Emma over-reacted, I didn't like the conflict at all. I think that fear of commitment has been over-used as a conflict. In Vision in White, it passed because it was the woman with fear of commitment... but seriously, it's time authors come up with something more original... or actually, could a book still be interesting without a conflict between the H/H at the end?

My other issue, which is kind of related to the conflict, is that the ending was really rushed. I think that if Ms Roberts had an extra 50 pages, it'd be better.

Any of you had any other issue?

Monroe: Oh one hang up for me though was after the fight when Del and Jack were talking and Del asked Jack if he loved Emma and it was just kinda like "hmmm...well ya I guess I do" LOL like it wasn't a bigger deal. I don't know I felt that part needed to be stronger.

Nath: You think so? I don't think so. They're just starting a relationship. Yes, they care for each other and they are attracted to each other. Isn't that enough to start? This was not a "I've been in love with him/her for 10 years" friends to lovers plot... so I don't see why Jack would need to say right away that he loved her. It was the same for Parker, when she told Emma: "You do realize you're in love with Jack, right?" I really wanted to smack her! I thought it was pretty insensitive on Parker's part, because I don't think Emma was ready to acknowledge that she was in love with Jack. I think Emma needed more time and it would have been better if she processed her feelings on her own, than having Parker tell her. I know Parker meant well, but sometimes, you need to back off.

Ames: But he's not saying he loves her right away. They've been dating for a few months now and they have known each other for a really long time. So I have to agree with Monroe, I wish there would have been more to Jack realizing how he felt about Emma.

Nath: However, isn't Monroe referring to the fight between Jack and Del, which is at the start of their relationship? But I completely agree with you, Ames. I wish Jack would have realized his feelings for Emma on his own, but then Emma broke up and you had all the noisy friends intruding.

Ames: No, I think Monroe is referring to the fight Jack and Emma have. Remember Jack goes to see Del because he's all alone and feeling mopey? That's when Del asks Jack if he loves Emma.

Chantal: I have one more issue. I didn't like seeing Carter in this book. He is the main reason I stopped reading VIW, so it was annoying to come across him so much in BOR.

Ames: Are you crazy? LOL Well you know I love nerdy heroes. But I enjoyed seeing him in this book. I thought his scenes were funny.

Monroe: Oh I love Carter... no complaints from me! LOL

Nath: Come on Chantal! LOL, he wasn't so bad! He's actually super cute! And he didn't appear that much :(

Now, what worked for you in Bed of Roses?

Monroe: I loved the friendship in this book! That's one thing I really enjoy about these books... It always warms your heart and makes you wanna go hang with your girls! :o)

Ames: I know! I agree about the friendship. That scene when Emma cries? Towards the end? Perfect example of good girlfriends. :P

Nath: True! :) Ms Roberts definitively excels at writing interactions and dynamics. I love the friendship between the girls, but also between the guys LOL :) It's fun to see Del and Jack welcoming Carter in their group and hanging out together.

Monroe: I also loved how Emma loved though. She had such a romantic heart! *sigh* I just loved how sweet Emma's ideal love story was in her head.

Nath: Emma and Jack were great characters :) I really liked them. They were different enough from Mac and Carter not to confuse them with each other... and I agree with you, Monroe. Emma was so romantic and giving, she was very lovable.

Chantal: What were your favourite parts in the book? Mine wasn't with the H/H. It was at the beginning with the Monster Bitch Bride. I LOL'ed when they talked about her and read the email she sent.

Ames: I love that first scene from Jack's POV when he sees Emma at the party. He's still trying to deny his feelings for her.

What I would have liked was a scene on the beach - remember what Jack told Emma? So I'm thinking that since that trip for them to the beach is in August, we'll get that scene!

Monroe: Oh maybe!!! I loved the soccer part! lol It was so cute afterwords how Jack was so turned on by her "sporty" side! lol

Nath: Hmm, I really liked all the scenes that involve more than 2 persons LOL A good scene was the first meeting between Parker and Mal - you can already see he's a man who can handle a woman like Parker :) Oh, and that scene at the end when Carter meets Jack and says he feels like a double agent and he kinds of like it? Too cute!!!

So what grade are you giving Bed of Roses?

Monroe: I have to admit I teared up a few times in this book! lol I have to give it a B+. I love these types of reads... ones that you don't stress out on or get overly pissed about! LOL Relaxing and lovable!

Ames: I wasn't as emotionally involved as that - Nora writes a good story but I just felt like this book was a pleasant way to pass the time. A purely fluffy read. Which is fine, everyone needs that. I'm giving BoR a B+. The perfect way to pass a pleasant Sunday.

Nath: I agree with you ladies. A fluffly read, very pleasant and enjoyable. Still, I had issues with it, so a strong B for me.

Chantal: Not counting the In Death series, I realized that I have only been able to enjoy one Nora Roberts book. I do believe I will give up on this author now. I just don't enjoy her books like most others do.

I'll give this was a C . I want to say C minus-ish, but I'm afraid of all the crazy Nora fans.

Monroe: I've ONLY read these two books by her! lol I'm so far behind... but I CAN NOT WAIT till Laurel and Dels book! :o) EEP! Oh and Parker and Mal... now THAT'S gonna be a funny story! I love these books!

Chantal: High Noon was awesome. It reminded me a lot of her In Death series, so that's probably why I liked it.

Ames: It sucks Chantal that you're giving up on NR. But glad you liked High Noon. I've got that one in my TBR Pile. LOL I like some earlier NR books myself - I cut my baby romance teeth on them. Public Secrets is one of my faves.

Nath: If you don't enjoy her fluffy reads Chantal, stay away from her trilogies :) Instead, read her stand-alones, they are more mystery and thus, closer to her In Death books.. If you've enjoyed High Noon, I'm sure you'd like Angel Falls as well :D

For now though, I'm also looking forward to Laurel and Del :) I'm curious about Laurel, I had an image of her from Vision in White, but she seems quite different :) And Del is so clueless, LOL :P

Chantal: Thanks, Nath. I'll keep that in mind. :-)

Tuesday, November 3

November Releases

Wow, another month is over! Time is really flying this year. Before we know it, we'll be in 2010! :)

Still, there's a bit of time left before that happens so let's talk books :)

November 3rd

Blaze of Memory by Nalini Singh
Dev Santos discovers her unconscious and battered, with no memory of who she is. All she knows is that she’s dangerous. Charged with protecting his people’s most vulnerable secrets, Dev is duty-bound to eliminate all threats. It’s a task he’s never hesitated to complete…until he finds himself drawn to a woman who might yet prove the enemy’s most insidious weapon.

Stripped of her memories by a shadowy oppressor, and programmed to carry out cold-blooded murder, Katya Haas is fighting desperately for her sanity itself. Her only hope is Dev. But how can she expect to gain the trust of a man who could very well be her next target? For in this game, one must die…
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Psy-Changelings, Book #9 (counting novellas)

Nath: Wooohooo, another Psy-changelings book!! I really love her writing :D I'm curious to see where Ms Singh is going to take us with this book.

Ames: I caught up to this series and each book brings us closer to the one I cannot wait for!

Monroe: This is an author I've been really wanting to try out. I KNOW what's wrong with me, but you know I'm always the last one on the band wagon! ;o)

Chantal: I want to read this, too. I wish it was Hawk's book, though.

Kindred in Death by J.D.Robb
When the newly promoted captain of the NYPSD and his wife return a day early from their vacation, they were looking forward to spending time with their bright and vivacious sixteen-year-old daughter who had stayed behind.

Not even their worst nightmares could have prepared them for the crime scene that awaited them instead. Brutally murdered in her bedroom, Deena's body showed signs of trauma that horrified even the toughest of cops; including our own Lieutenant Eve Dallas, who was specifically requested by the captain to investigate.

When the evidence starts to pile up, Dallas and her team think they are about to arrest their perpetrator; little do they know yet that someone has gone to great lengths to tease and taunt them by using a variety of identities. Overconfidence can lead to careless mistakes. But for Dallas, one mistake might be all she needs to bring justice.
Genre: Romantic Suspense, futuristic
Series: In Death series, Book #35

Nath: New Eve & Roarke book :D Yay!! I miss them, it's been a while. I think they should change the releases schedule so the wait is more even :) Anyway, the story sounds interesting. I'm just surprised that the case is again related to NYPD cops.

Chantal: I'll pick up the new In Death book but I wont read it for a long time. I'm still way behind on the series.

Ain't Too Proud To Beg by Susan Donovan
Josie Sheehan collects failed relationships the way some women collect designer handbags. Now, at thirty-five, she has exactly one male in her life: her Labradoodle, Genghis. In fact Josie, along with the three very single women in her dog-walking group, has recently sworn off men, resigning herself to long walks in the park with her devoted, four-legged friend. All bets are off, however, when she meets Rick Rousseau, a pet-company CEO who is smart, sexy, and, best of all, head-over-heels for Josie. Even Genghis, an excellent judge of character, seems to know that Rick is the real deal. But just when Josie starts to think that she has found something more enduring than puppy love, she discovers that Rick has a complicated past-and a secret that could put the woman he loves in serious danger...
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Book #1 of a trilogy

Nath: Ms Donovan is usually hit and miss for me. I'm not too sure about the blurb, but I do like the cover though... so I'm hoping for a hit :D

Chantal: Ohhh, it sounds so cute! I can't recall if I've ever read this author. Perhaps I'll start with this book.

Monroe: Oh I LOVE Susan Donovan and this cover is just too pretty! Cant wait!

Skin Game by Ava Gray (aka Ann Aguirre)
A beautiful fugitive—wanted dead or alive.

Kyra is a con woman and a particular kind of thief. She steals with a touch, but she only takes one thing: her target’s strongest skill. Which means she can be a fighter, an athlete, a musician, an artist—anything she wants… for a limited time. Heartbroken, she turns her gift toward avenging her father’s murder; with deadly patience, Kyra works her way into casino owner Gerard Serrano’s inner circle. After pulling off the ultimate con, she flees with his money and his pride.

A hit man who never misses the mark.

Reyes has nothing but his work. Pity for Kyra, he’s the best and mercy never sways him once he takes a job. He’s been hired to find out where Kyra hid the cash—and bring her back to face Serrano’s “justice.” Dead will do, if he can’t locate the loot. He’s never failed to complete a contract, but Kyra tempts him with her fierce heat and her outlaw heart. So Reyes has a hell of a choice: forsake his word or kill the woman he might love.
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Skin series, Book #1

Ames: There are favorable reviews out for this one and I know Rosie liked it.

Nath: Ouhhhh, I didn't pay attention to this release, because I didn't like Grimspace. However, now that I read the blurb... Hmmmm, sounds good :D Might be worth a look.

Me and My Shadow by Katie MacAlister
May Northcott is a woman at the end of her rope. She’d almost gotten used to her employer, the ex-demon lord Magoth, spending his days hanging around her home and interrupting her private moments with her dragon lover Gabriel. Then trouble appears in the form of a nearly dead man on her doorstep.

With May fighting to control the dragon shard, Magoth wrangling to regain his position and powers, and a mysterious and deadly dragon bent on their destruction, Gabriel has his work cut out for him. Now, he’ll have to claw his way through all the distractions and convince May that their love is strong enough to conquer all of their enemies.
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Silver Dragon series, Book #3

Chantal: I'm very excited for this book. It's the newest Dragon book!!

November 9

Queen of Songs & Souls by C.L. Wilson
The first deadly battles of the new Mage Wars have been fought, and victory has been won at a terrible price. As the toll of an unfulfilled matebond and the torment of war begins tips Rain towards madness, Ellysetta knows if she cannot find a way to defeat the darkness growing inside her and complete the truemate bond, Rain will die and she will become the prophesied monster Vadim Maur uses to destroy the Fey and enslave the World.
Genre: Fantasy romance
Series: The Fading Lands novel, the Tairen Souls Series, Book #4

Ames: This is another series I discovered this past year and I've already seen reviews for this one. One of my most anticipated reads this year. I cannot WAIT to get my hands on this one.

No Reservations by Lauren Dane and Megan Hart
Kate and Leah are heading for Vegas with no reservations. Both on the run from their new boyfriends and the baggage these guys have brought with them from other women. And the biggest playground in the west has many sensual thrills to offer two women with an appetite for fun. Meanwhile, the boyfriends, Dix and Brandon, realise you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, and pursue the girls to the city of sin to launch the most arduous methods of seduction to win the girls back. This book features none-stop action with a twist of romance from two of the most exciting writers in American erotica today.
Genre: Erotica romance
Series: -

Ames: Love both these authors, bound to be a good, hot read. I need that for these chilly days. LOL

Chantal: I lurve Megan Hart.

Monroe: Megan Hart?!?! DONE! I'll read it FO SHO!

Chill by Stephanie Rowe
A man with no past

Luke Webber thought he'd erased his entire history. New name, new life, no paper trail. He thought that up in the wilds of Alaska no one would find him. He was wrong.

A woman with no future

When Isabella shows up on his doorstep, she's got a bullet in her shoulder, and all that Luke's been trying to avoid is hot on her trail. Without his help, she'll die. But helping her will mean surrendering everything—his body, his heart…and quite possibly his life.
Genre: romantic suspense
Series: Sequel to Ice

Nath: I've enjoyed Ms Rowe's previous books. I have Ice in my TBR pile and depending on how much I like it, I will be getting this book :)

Chantal: This sounds like one of those books where the hero doesn't want to like (thus fall in love) with the heroine, but his heart gets captured so he has no choice. I like that kind of story.

Home for the Holidays by Sarah Mayberry
Joe Lawson has a thing for his new neighbor Hannah Napier. As a single dad, he shouldn't be thinking what he is about her. Still, that doesn't stop them from getting close. And the way she connects with his kids, it's as if they're a family.

Turns out it's too good to be true. Seems Hannah has plans that don't include staying in Melbourne. Joe won't stand between her and her dreams, even though letting her go is nearly impossible. The holidays are looking grim, with him and his kids missing Hannah like crazy. But it is the season of surprises, and Hannah may have one for them!
Genre: Harlequin SuperRomance, contemporary romance
Series: -

Ames: Ooh, I'm very INTERESTED in that Sarah Mayberry. Not sure if I'm going to buy it though.

Nath: Sarah Mayberry is THE Harlequin author at the moment in blogland. So I might get this book... although I'm not sure about the blurb.

Ice by Linda Howard
Gabriel McQueen has only just arrived home on holiday leave from the service when his county-sheriff father sends him back out again with new marching orders. A brewing ice storm, and a distant neighbor who's fallen out of contact, have the local lawman concerned. So he enlists Gabriel to make the long haul to the middle of nowhere, and make sure Lolly Helton is safe and sound. It's a trip the younger McQueen would rather not make given the bitter winter weather-and the icy conditions that have always existed between him and Lolly.

But there's no talking back when your dad is the town's top cop. And there's no turning back when night falls just as Gabriel arrives-and discovers that the weather outside isn't the only thing that's frightful. Spotting strangers in Lolly's home-one of them packing a weapon-is all it takes to kick Gabriel into combat mode. And his stealth training is all he needs to extract Lolly from the house without alerting her captors. But when the escape is discovered, the heat-and the hunt-are on. And the winter woods are nowhere to be once the ice storm touches down, dropping trees, blocking roads, and trapping the fleeing pair in the freezing dark.
Genre: romantic suspense
Series: -

Nath: I enjoyed Burn enough to be eying Ice. This is Ms Howard second release this year, which kind of came as a surprise. I might not buy it, but I'll definitively read it somehow :)

November 24

Our Little Secret by Starr Ambrose
Lauren Sutherland's sister made a big mistake when she married the powerful and much older Senator Creighton. The senator's son Drew agrees. But the newlyweds have disappeared and even the FBI can't find them. Venturing into the elite Washington social scene, Lauren and Drew discover an elaborate web of explicit photos and blackmail, and a fiery attraction they can barely control...
Genre: romantic suspense
Series: -

Nath: I enjoyed Ms Starr's debut novel last year and that's why I'm considering this one. However, once again, the blurb sounds so-so. I'm not a big fan of politician characters ^_^; But if this is as funny as Lie To Me, it'll be worth it :D


So what about you? Which new releases are you anticipating? Did we miss any that are must-buy or interesting?

Sunday, November 1

Rough, Raw, and Ready by Lorelei James

It's been a while since Ames and I did a review together, so this is a fun one.
How we decide which books to read for review is to email each other once a week and note what we are currently reading or planning to read. I was excited when Ames said she was looking at Rough, Raw, and Ready and would read it with me. Yay.
I've missed book chats with my favourite wench.

Chassie West Glanzer hasn’t been a stranger to drama and tragedy. A year of wedded bliss to sexy-as-sin cowboy Trevor Glanzer has brought her the happiness and contentment she never thought she’d find, and mellowed Trevor’s rodeo wanderlust. Then Trevor’s old roping partner ambles up the driveway—and Chassie’s life changes drastically.

Trevor never expected to see Edgard Mancuso again, after it became clear he couldn’t be the man Edgard needed. Now Edgard is back from Brazil to sort out their tangled past, and Trevor is plagued with feelings he thought he’d buried over three years ago. Although Trevor is hat-over-bootheels in love with his sweet, feisty wife, the sense his life is missing a piece has always gnawed at him.

Chassie’s shock that Edgard and Trevor were once lovers turns to fear of losing her husband. Or worse, fear that Trevor will stay with her only out of a sense of duty. Yet as the three of them spend time together, the sins of the past blur and fade, leaving raw emotion—and unbridled passion.

Passion that could heal…or cause irreparable damage to their future.

Ames: I'm halfway through RRR already! I can't put it down.

Chantal: It's yuuuuuumy.

Ames: LOL
Yeah it is. I've tried LJ before and didn't like her. But this time around, I'm liking her style.

Chantal: The only other LJ book I read was the first one in this series, where we first meet Trevor and Edgard.

Ames: I don't even remember which one I tried reading. LOL
What did you think of that first book?

Chantal: Except for the sex, I can't remember too much about it. Channing (the pregnant lady in this one) was the heroine in that book.

Ames: I think that might be the book I tried to read. I didn't get that far into it.

One day later...

Ames: I just finished Rough, Raw, and Ready.

Chantal: I'm done, too.
I liked it. Super sexy man lovin'.

Ya know, I was a bit worried about Ed and Chassie there for a bit. Even when it was just those two together I kept thinking that Ed didn't like her that way and he was just, I don't know, putting up with Chassie? I hate to word it in that manner because I know he felt something for her, but I didn't think it was the deep rooted attraction that he felt for Trevor.

Then later on the in the book Ed and Trevor are talking about that very issue. Ed says this "... I thought if I could have you occasionally, I'd put up with being in bed with Chassie too".
That's how I saw it when I was reading it.

Then he goes on to explain that that is how it was, but it's not anymore.

Anyway, by the end of the book I felt like they were truly a trio, and that there was no third wheel, which is how it often ends up in m/m/f books. At least that is how I often read them as. There is all this emotion and love with the m/m units, but the gal seems to only have a minor role.

I was glad to see that it wasn't like that with this one.

Ames: You know, I felt the exact same way! At first Ed was there for Trevor. He wanted Trevor back and I was even questioning Trevor's love! Like omg, how can your woman not complete you? LOL But I'm not one to judge and I like how everything turned out. If the relationship between Chassie and Ed hadn't developed, I would have been so upset with this book. But really, it came together so well for me. And the doubts Chassie had and how they talked about all their issues? That seemed so realistic to me!

Like I said before, I tried reading LJ once and it didn't work out. But for sure I was impressed with how RRaR was written and I'm looking forward to reading more books by LJ. She knows how to write some hawt loving and it wasn't empty - there was an actual plot involved. There were the real-life concerns of running a ranch and then there were the family issues and the doubts surrounding a menage a trois relationship - how would it be perceived by others.

And yeah it was hot. LOL

Chantal: I echo all those thoughts.

The more I read this one, the more I remembered the first book of this series. It had the scene where Channing walks in on Ed and Trevor. Remember she told Chassie about it?
It also had their scene together where Edgard leaves.
I can't recall whether or not I liked that book, though. Although, some of the love scenes from it still stand out in my mind. LJ can write GREAT sex.

Was there anything that you didn't like?

Ames: I found the dialogue to be corny a bit at times. But that's true for many books - there's a fine balance in my opinion and everyone is different. And everyone has a different sense of humour.
Also, despite this being part of a series, I thought the book stood alone very well! Like the scene Channing describes to Chassie - that's important to know but she went over it and so I didn't feel lost.
There was some head jumping, but it wasn't terribly confusing. And it was good to see how the plot evolved from everyone's perspectives.

What about yourself? Anything you didn't care for?

Chantal: I liked everything! LOL. This book is going to be on my re read list. :)

And I agree that is worked perfectly as a stand alone. We do meet some of the people from earlier books, but we are not left with any confusion about what they are talking about or going through.

Ames: I do plan on reading more by this author for sure. And I'm giving Rough, Raw, and Ready a solid B. Good pick Chantal!

Chantal: An A for me. (I've not read an A book in a long time!)