Friday, August 27

Review: Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

Last week, Ames and I reviewed Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas. We thought it'd be great to follow it up by Love in the Afternoon, especially since we enjoyed it so much :)

The review might be a bit less detailed and coherent than usually. That's entirely my fault, sorry ^_^; I wanted it to finish it before Ames flies off to California, so I might have rushed the process a bit... Hope everyone enjoys it nonetheless! :P

*Warning: The are spoilers in this review. Read at your own risk!*

Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas
published by St. Martin's Press in June 2010
As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or seriously courted.and she has resigned herself to the fate of never finding love. Has the time come for the most unconventional of the Hathaway sisters to settle for an ordinary man-just to avoid spinsterhood?

Captain Christopher Phelan is a handsome, daring soldier who plans to marry Beatrix's friend, the vivacious flirt Prudence Mercer, when he returns from fighting abroad. But, as he explains in his letters to Pru, life on the battlefield has darkened his soul-and it's becoming clear that Christopher won't come back as the same man. When Beatrix learns of Pru's disappointment, she decides to help by concocting Pru's letters to Christopher for her. Soon the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher develops into something fulfilling and deep.and when Christopher comes home, he's determined to claim the woman he loves. What began as Beatrix's innocent deception has resulted in the agony of unfulfilled love-and a passion that can't be denied.

Genre: Historical romance
Series: The Hathaways, Book #5

The Story: I thought the blurb was a bit misleading as in, Beatrix did not set out to take up Pru's correspondence with Christopher Phelan. Instead, it all starts when Pru shares the content of Christopher's letter with her friends. Normally, Beatrix wouldn't be interested, especially since Christopher has not hidden the fact that he finds Bea odd with his friends, until she hears the mention of Albert, a dog that Christopher has rescued but who's misbehaving. Concerned for the dog, Beatrix has some advices for Christopher, but Pru is no longer interested in continuing a correspondence with Christopher since his letters are so unromantic and his uniform, hideous. However, Pru does give permission to Bea to write under her name if that pleases her... and so Bea does. One thing leads to another and Bea finds herself writing and sharing more than one letter.

The correspondence allows Bea to get to know Christopher better. Friendship soon turns into deeper feelings and when Beatrix realizes that she's fallen in love with Christopher, she ceases the correspondence. Once back from the war, Christopher is determined to reach out to Pru, but soon realize that something is off...

Nath: So Ames, I know you've been looking forward to Beatrix' book for a long time and your anticipation was contagious! Because of it, I did something that I rarely do: I read Ms Kleypas online excerpt and I was hooked. I couldn't wait to get my hands on Love in the Afternoon... and so ended up with two copies! LOL. However, it was definitively worth it as I really enjoyed Love in the Afternoon. It was just so much fun :)

I really liked Beatrix and how unconventional she was and I thought Christopher was a great hero as well. What really made this book for me is that Ms Kleypas didn't fall in the predictability or stereotyping. I liked that Christopher was smart enough to figure out that Prudence wasn't the one who wrote the letters and I liked that he wasn't angry at Beatrix. Okay, yes, he was a bit angry, but he didn't turn into a pighead because of it. Instead, he grabbed onto Bea refusing to let her go :P

Ames: I know!! I love that about Christopher too. I like how he came around in his thinking towards Bea. Like before he knew she wrote the letters, he was already thinking about her differently. Definitely liked that!

Ok - so the whole series Beatrix has been my favorite sister because she is the animal lover. And I love how the war and the post traumatic stress made Christopher very similar to a wounded animal which is the perfect kind of hero for Beatrix. These two characters were just perfect for each other!

Nath: What you say about Christopher is right, he was like a wounded animal. However, Ms Kleypas wrote it in a subtle manner and Christopher PTSD wasn't the focal point of the story. Also, there was the fact that Bea was already in love with him when he came back from war.

You're right though. It was nice that Christopher's opinion of Beatrix did not change because he found out she was the one who wrote the letters, but came from their interaction. I think it's because of the war and his brother's death. These events have changed him as a man and how he views certain things. He definitively had no time for frivolity when he came back.

What else did you enjoy?

Ames: Christopher's dog, Albert! I loved him!!

Nath: LOL, it was so funny that there was an actual drawing of the dog in the book! But yes, Albert was very cute :)

Ames: Everything with Albert was super cute. And you know, sometimes authors get dog behaviors wrong or they make them totally unrealistic but LK definitely got Albert down right. And I like how he attached himself to Beatrix and Christopher just knew where Albert was when he got home. Hahaha.

Nath: LOL, it proves how smart Albert was :P

Another great element in Love in the Afternoon was the Hathaways family interactions. I really enjoyed those and I think the family was more present in this book - as a group, than in any of the first 4 books. They're really an interesting lot and we got to see more of their dynamics. I thought the scene where Christopher goes to the Hathaways to discuss marriage was really good.

Ames: Oh that scene when Christopher joins them for supper and Beatrix tells everyone he doesn't want to talk so they all just talk around him? I love that scene. The humor in this book was good too - Beatrix was just so perfect.

Nath: LOL, perfect in an unconventional way :P While most people thought Beatrix unconventional, she's probably the most clever though. She's a good judge of character and she knows how to manage people... like Christopher's grandfather.

Ames: She is the most clever and practical heroine. Her only unpractical thing she did was pretend to be Pru in those letters but it had a happy ending - but in every other way, she was practical and I loved her for it. :P

Nath: Nod nod.

This book was great fun, but I thought there were a few unnecessary things, such as the mother issue. It was sad for Christopher that his mother was clearly not able to love him. However, there was nothing really done about it. I was actually surprised that she didn't oppose to Christopher and Bea's marriage, but I guess she didn't really care ^_^; Lucky for Bea, she won't have to deal with her.

Still, Christopher had a great brother. The letter at the end from John was very touching.

Ames: Yes, it was! And I'm glad we didn't have to deal with Christopher's mother that much. Whew. Sometimes family can get messy and the Hathaways are more than enough, thank you very much. haha

Nath: LOL, true.

My other quibble with this book would be the ending. I'm assuming that Love in the Afternoon is the last book in the Hathaways series and as such, I'd have liked a little more wrap-up. Otherwise though, I pretty much think this book was perfect :)

Ames: I have to agree about a bit of a wrap-up, that didn't feel like the last book, you know? But yes, this book was almost perfect.:P I can't get over it. LOL Halfway through I was thinking - this is going to be a top reads for 2010. Definitely re-read material!

Nath: Definitively a contender for 2010 and definitively re-read material. It's the kind of book that just cheers you up and put a smile on your face :P Love in the Afternoon is a A- for me. Not perfect, but sure close to it! :P

Ames: It's an A- for me too! LOL It feels like it's been a while since we've agreed on a book.

Nath: : True. I'm glad that when we finally do, it's on such a good book :)

Wednesday, August 18

Review: Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas

It seems like it's been a while since Ames and I buddy reviewed a book... but in truth, we always have one in progress. It just takes forever for us to complete them ^_^; For example, we started Married by Morning back on July 14, despite both having read it in June ^_^; Oupsie, LOL. We do hope that you enjoy our hard work! :P

*Warning: The are spoilers in this review. Read at your own risk!*

Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas
published by St. Martin's Press in May 2010

For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters-a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges' older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response-and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.

Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine's respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever-unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires.

Genre: Historical romance
Series: The Hathaways, book #4

Nath: Ames, we've been dragging our feet too long. Let's get on with this review! :)

I went into this book, not really excited, mainly because I didn't like Catherine Marks' character from what I've seen previously. After reading the book, well my opinion hasn't really changed. There's just something in Marks that leaves me indifferent. I did really enjoy Leo's character though :)

Ames: I went into this book with no expectations. I wasn't really a fan of Marks from the other books and I didn't really care about Leo. But I knew I had to read it anyway (to get to Beatrix's book). LOL So I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I did enjoy it! I didn't love it, but it wasn't the hardship I thought it would be. And we did get to know Marks and Leo better and I ended up liking both their characters more by the end of the book. So that was good, right?

Nath: Indeed, that's very good. Actually, lucky you! LOL.

I actually really liked Leo's character and thought the layers to his personality were very interesting. He hid his sharp mind and competence behind a layer of laziness and nonchalance and made me believe that he was raised as a lord. He has plenty of charm, but the most refreshing was his honesty about himself. Like the fact that he admitted that his behavior now has nothing to do with Laura anymore... and that yes, he was in love with her in the past, but not anymore. I liked that he wasn't a lost soul.

By the way, what was Catherine's beef with Leo? Okay, so he's a rake... but no worst than any other lords out there... I really didn't understand what she reproached to him.

Ames: Well I think Catherine's experience with men in the past made her biased towards Leo - and then seeing the way he was and acted, it all justified that feeling she had towards him. And he did his best to annoy her whenever he could. I think just like little boys in the schoolyard, when they pulled the hair of the girls they liked, that same kind of dynamic was going on with Leo and Catherine but both of them were too afraid to admit that they were attracted to each other, but they couldn't leave the other person alone. LOL

Nath: There were a few things I thought pointless however... The whole will thing about the house. Seriously, I don't get it. If it wasn't entailed, then why not leave it to your wife and daughter right away?

Ames: If the house thing didn't happen, we wouldn't have had the book we did. LOL I didn't mind the house stuff. It didn't really add or detract either way. It did create some tension for Leo and it did give some conflict for the rest of the family, like not everything was going perfectly in their lives (although since it is a romance, it does in the end). But I bet the relative who died didn't realize the house wasn't entailed because the main house was a ruin.

Nath: As a conflict, it was seriously very, very weak in my opinion. It brought absolutely nothing to the story itself. I mean, the sisters organized a ball with potential wife candidates. Frankly, it's a surprise they haven't played matchmakers earlier! actually had very little impact on the book itself. I just thought it was a far-fetched excuse and I don't feel like it fit the Hathaways. Okay, so the house has some sentimental value, given that Rye was born in it. However, Hathaways are far from being materialistic and in addition, Leo is an architect! I thought he would relish the opportunity to build his own house. It just didn't make sense to me.

Ames: I think the sisters didn't try matchmaking earlier because they were focused on their own love lives and they probably didn't want to push Leo before he was ready - he did lose someone he really loved and the sisters are very compassionate so they probably left him alone because of that.

And you are right about Leo being an architect! Why wouldn't he want to fix the old house up? LOL

Nath: Exactly! Wouldn't that be an interesting challenge? You're right about the sister being busy with their love lives. Still, now that all of them (except Bea) are married though, I think it was just a matter of time. There wasn't any need for the house ruse.

Another thing I didn't like was the fact that Catherine was Harry's sister. I don't mind when characters find a long-lost sibling, but in this case, it felt overused in this series, since Cam and Merrypen already turn out to be brothers ^_^; Plus, she was in hiding. Ugh. I mean, it was obvious that once she got her book, her hiding days would be over.

Ames: LOL. Too many siblings in this series, I'll give you that.

For Catherine, the hiding makes sense. She didn't want to come across her tormentor ever again. And it worked, until that guy showed up at the ball. But that was good too because it explains why Marks was the way she was (like her family's background) and then it allowed Leo to play the protector to this very independent, strong woman. Also, if she didn't have the past she did, WE wouldn't have had a book to read. Quit being so nitpicky! LOL

Nath: Sorry ^_^; But I'm still not feeling it! If Catherine didn't want to come across her tormentor ever again, why take a position in an aristocrat family. True, in the beginning, she was just a tutor... but when she became Beatrix and Poppy's companion, that meant going to events with them and having the chance to run into the bad guy since he's from the ton. I mean, yes, it was explained why Catherine took the position and that she fell in love with the family, but I thought it was just too predictable - the events. Although I did not foresee her background (like that her father's side ran a brothel) - I did like that twist :P

Ames: Well Catherine did disguise her looks a little bit. And who else would she have taken a position with? Aristocratic families was where the money was back in the day. LOL They were the bread and butter.

Nath: The thing is she doesn't need money. She has a rich older brother, perhaps not a loving one, but one that stepped in already to save her life and wouldn't have minded to provide for her I'm sure.

Ames: Ok I have to disagree with you about her needing the money. She may not have - but she's an independent woman and she wasn't going to go crying to her brother for charity. She states that she wasn't his responsibility and that he didn't know what to do with her when he rescued her. So she went to a finishing school where she even ended up teaching for the last two years. So the headmistress there asked her to leave so she would see a bit of the world and that the headmistress had a friend who knew of a family of unusual circumstances. That's how the characters' personalities worked out. For Catherine to ask her brother to support her, that would have been contradictory to her character. And the Hathaways really needed her.

Nath: Okay, you're right. Catherine would never rely on Harry for money. Still, she could have chosen a family on the continent, far far away from London. Yes, Ms Kleypas explained the circumstances of how Catherine came to be employed by the Hathaways... but I'm just saying LOL.

By the way, she is discovered... and who is the first person she runs to? Her brother. This though is probably due to their relationship getting better. Two months ago, she probably wouldn't have ^_^;

Ames: One thing that I didn't get? When Leo returned from London and was all gung-ho after Marks. There was no internal dialogue on his part on why he decided to give into his attraction, he just does. I would have liked to have known why he changed his mind.

Nath: Are you talking about the beginning of the book? I feel that he just realized that he was attracted to her and decided to go ahead ^_^;

Ames: AND! Another kidnapping plot at the end? That happened with Harry and it seems a wee bit lazy that Lisa Kleypas would use the same thing in the very next book. I didn't like that.

Nath: Surprisingly, I didn't mind the kidnapping that much in this storyline, because it worked (unlike Harry's book). I mean, Catherine has been hiding for a reason, right? :P

Ames: Both kidnapping plots didn't work for me. But again, it worked for Leo because he got to be the protector, he got to save Catherine. But it also showed Catherine she was strong on her own. She was making a break for it.

Nath: I did like that Harry and Poppy had "big" roles in this book. It was so funny when Harry and Leo's eyed each other... Brothers-in-law squared LOL. And loved the part where Leo was jealous of Harry because he thought there was something between the two. Ha. Man - there's only one explanation for them :P

Ames: Overall, because I went into this book with no expectations, I was pleasantly surprised. I did come to like Leo and Marks. I could see why he didn't want to love again (after having lost a fiancée) and why she was afraid of the events of her past. I thought it all came well together in the end. Even though I was a bit bugged by the repeat kidnapping plot, it didn't bother me that much.

Nath: I liked the fact that Leo wasn't still in love with his dead fiancée... but it was more a case of afraid of loving so much again. It made Leo very human and I think, Catherine saw him in a different light after that.

Married by Morning was a C for me. I liked Leo, but the rest of the book didn't really appeal to me except for Harry and Poppy's scenes. Didn't like Marks and I think you're right, in some aspect, Ms Kleypas was lazy with repeated ideas throughout the series. Plus, I don't know, I just have a feeling the storyline didn't fit with the characters, didn't make sense.

Ames: I have to give Married by Morning a solid B. It exceeded my non-existent expectations and I really enjoyed getting to know these characters better - it made me like them more in the end.

Thursday, August 12

Review: Chimera by Rob Thurman

Surprise! A review after almost two months! Sorry we've let the ball drop in the past couple of weeks. However, here were are :) Back for a while at least! Hoping it will be a long while :)

Today's review is Chimera by Rob Thurman and joining me is Leslie from Leslie's Psyche, she who initiated me to Ms Thurman's writing. We are both huge fans of the Cal Leandros series (check the Rob Thurman label!) and when we learned that Ms Thurman had a stand-alone release, it was definitively on our TBB list :)

*Warning: The are spoilers in this review. Read at your own risk!*

Chimera by Rob Thurman
published by New American Library in June 2010
Ten years ago, Stefan Korsak’s younger brother was kidnapped. No one knew who took Lukas, or why. He was simply gone. But not a day has passed that Stefan hasn’t thought about him. As a rising figure in the Russian Mafia, Stefan has finally found him.

But when he rescues Lukas, Stefan must confront a terrible truth – his brother is no longer his brother. He is a killer. Trained, brainwashed, and genetically transformed into a flesh-and-blood machine with only one purpose: assassination. Now those who created him will do anything to reclaim him.

As Stefan grows closer to his brother, he realizes that saving Lukas may be easier than surviving him...

Genre: Sci-Fi
Series: N/A

The Story : The blurb sounds a lot more dramatic than the book really is ^_^; Ten years ago, Lukas was kidnapped while the boys were out riding and Stefan feels guilty, because he is the one who suggested they sneak out of the estate. For ten years, Stefan has never stopped looking, unlike his father, a Russian Mafia lord who is currently on the run.

Then, one day, Stefan’s contact has a lead. A young man fitting Lukas description is spotted with Lukas’ most distinguishing feature: different-colored eyes, blue and green. However, he seems to be held captive by some sort of group, agency. This doesn’t matter to Stefan as he’s determined to save Lukas no matter the cost.

While Stefan has dreamed many times of finding Lukas, he never imagined the “after” and nothing could prepare him for this. Lukas has no recollection of his past and insists to be called Michael. Plus, it turns out that he’s acquired some powers through genetic modifications and was being brainwashed in order to be used as an assassin. The evil scientist Jericho is not about to let go of one of his creations and thus, Stefan and Michael find themselves on the run…

Nath: So Leslie, what did you think of Chimera?

Leslie: What a road trip, Nath! It did take me some time to get into it. I think it had a lot to do with the lack of dialogue. There just didn't seem to be that much. More of Stefan's narration, which was interesting but not exactly riveting. But once Michael came into the story - that's when it really picked up for me and I didn't want to put it down. :)

Nath: It was great, wasn’t it? :P I agree with you that the beginning was a bit slow, although I don’t think it was due to the lack of dialogue. Instead, I think it’s because Ms Thurman had a lot of setting up to do. The readers need to know how Stefan lived, what he felt, how important finding Lukas has become in his life. They need to know Stefan in order to be fully engaged by the story and I don’t think this could have been done retrospectively. Once Michael came into the story, everything went so fast… So while not riveting, it was necessary. Plus, Stefan wasn’t too bad as a narrator :P He is not as “dark” as Cal so even if it was very heavy on the narration, Chimera was easier to read than the Cal Leandros series in my opinion.

Of course, the highlight of the book was definitively the dynamics between Stefan and Michael :) Ms Thurman sure knows how to write brothers relationship!

Leslie: I was determined not to compare the brothers in this story to Cal and Niko. It turns out it wasn't a problem. I didn't find myself thinking that either Stefan or Michael were like Cal and Niko. A few similarities but it was more stuff that you would find among any brothers.

Nath: I thought that comparisons between Stefan/Michael and Cal/Niko was inevitable, not only because of the brotherhood, but also because it’s the same author. However, the dynamic was completely different and you’re right, there were just a few similarities that you’d find among any brothers. In that aspect, I thought Ms Thurman did a great job because for Chimera to work, it needed to be different from the Cal Leandros series.

Leslie: I think the biggest difference between the two sets of brothers is that Cal and Niko have a history and Stefan and Michael are virtually strangers and spend the road trip getting to know each other. Stefan was out of his element when it came with how to deal with Michael but I thought he did a good job. And Michael, loved him! He had so much patience with Stefan. The way he slowly came to trust Stefan and Stefan came to trust Michael not to make a run for it. Thurman did a good job showing that trust develop. So many scenes that could have gone either way. And when you consider what Michael was capable of, I think he subconsciously knew that Stefan wasn’t going to hurt him.

Nath: Nod nod, definitively the biggest difference. It was great though because we discovered Stefan and Michael as they were getting to know each other :) I thought it was very admirable how Stefan tried to be a big brother, to guide Michael. It seems that Lukas was the bright light in Stefan's life when he was younger and now that he've found him again, he's trying to do his best to be better. It was also fun to see Michael discover the “real” world and I loved how "prissy" he was LOL.

Leslie: Stefan did a bunch of stuff that big brothers do. The snowball fight, shopping at the mall and oh, the sex talk. LOL "I want to take notes." And as Michael started to change he started acting like a little brother. I loved seeing him tease Stefan, calling him Babushka. Or when he’d make smart ass comments. Like asking how much a car cost if you actually bought one as opposed to stealing it. Or when he bought the coat and matching gloves for Stefan in a color he knew Stefan wouldn’t like. He was very easy to love. By the end they had that strong, brotherly bond that Cal and Niko have.

Nath: There were definitively some great moments. I liked how Stefan really tried to draw Michael out and tried to make Michael feel normal, despite the circumstances. I totally agree with you, by the end of the book, they were brothers and that was all that mattered. I thought Michael adapted very quickly, but it's hard not to with a big brother like Stefan :) I loved the teasing and it really went both ways :P

Leslie: What did you think of Stefan and his profession? I almost wish he had been tougher. Like when he was suppose to kill the embezzler but didn't. I wasn't surprised that he didn't but I'm wondering how it would have gone over had he killed. Do you think Thurman didn't have him kill to make him more likable? He's supposed to be the bodyguard for a mafia big shot but - he seems a little too soft for it. I'm thinking he was portrayed that way so he would be more believable as the good guy. I don't think I would have thought less of him had he killed the guy. Part of the job/lifestyle and survival in that world.

Nath: You know, that's really a tough call, Leslie. I think you're right, Ms Thurman pulled her punches so Stefan would be more likable. Personally, I like the fact that he didn't kill the embezzler. To me, it comes down to conscience. Stefan is tough, he can kill and he did for Michael's sake... and that’s exactly the point, for Michael's sake. I don't think he really wanted to be in the mafia to start with, so for him to kill for something he doesn't really have feelings for? If he really had a killer side to him, I'd expect him to be colder.

Leslie: You’re right about Stefan not wanting the mafia life. He did give college a try but his focus was on Lukas so much that I don’t think he cared too much about his profession. The mafia was like his fallback and it let him continue searching for Lukas.

Nath: I feel that for almost ten years, Stefan went through life in some sort of trances. Never really caring about anything, because he blamed himself for Lukas disappearance and as a result, felt he wasn't worth anything good... and thus, the mafia job. Plus, it provided him connections to look for Lukas. I think that was Stefan’s heart really in the mafia, he wouldn’t have gone to college or if he did, he wouldn’t have become a thug, but instead take his rightful place as a mafia prince. That would have been interesting as well; actually, that’s what I expected reading the blurb :P

Leslie: The mafia prince would have made more sense instead of Stefan being the muscle. I think if he had been more into the family business from the start he might have been higher up in the ranks. Maybe he knew that if/when he found Lukas he would have to break with the mafia and that’s easier to do when you don’t have anyone following your orders.

Nath: I don't think you have to work the ranks up if you have the brains and the birthright :P It did seem like it was always Stefan’s plans to get out as soon as he found Lukas. Although I don't know if it's easier to get out when you're insignificant... Well at least, for Stefan, it didn't really go according to plans ^_^;

What did you think of the lack of romance?

Leslie: I didn’t think there would be anything or if there was it would be minimal so I was glad the story focused on Stefan and Michael. I did wonder if Natalie might sudden show up, more to appease romance readers than anything else. Even without the romance there was a HEA. ;)

Nath: Same for me, I didn’t think there’d be any so I didn't mind the lack of romance. Better no romance at all than a poorly developed one :P I wished Natalie would come back or if there is a sequel, the boys find a special someone though...

Leslie: Did you see the twist with Dr. Bellucci coming? That took me by surprise. I knew Jericho would find them but not how.

Nath: No, I didn’t see that one coming. It was very tricky and a great twist. Ms Thurman kept up the suspense till the very end :)

Speaking of ending, what did you think of it? That was the biggest twist of all and yet, it makes so much sense.

Leslie: The ending - wow. Every time Michael would tell Stefan “sorry, I’m not Lukas” I wanted to skip to the end and find out the truth. LOL. The end fit with everything that went before it. I don’t want to spoil it but I will say I was completely into the book and didn’t want to stop reading. It was very suspenseful and there was a little part of me that wasn’t sure how it would all turn out. Thurman doesn’t always take the easy road and as things starting happening at the end, I wasn’t completely sure which way it would go.

Nath: Yeah. I think Ms Thurman did a great job and the ending really works and was much more powerful because of the twists. In the end, you see what really matters.

What grade would you give Chimera?

Leslie: Considering how dark this was, with all the things those kids went through, I found myself laughing quite a bit. As Michael came out of his shell, he proved to have a wicked sense of humor. There was a lot going on, sometimes a little too much, but I did like all the detours they guys took.

The grade – even with the slow start, once it picked up it didn’t stop. I’m going with a A-. It would have been an A if not for the slow start. But, then it did really pick up, so maybe an A because I loved everything once Michael was there. Okay, I can't decide... A, definitely an A. :)

Nath: It was dark, but it was well balanced. What brought the laughs were Michael coming out of his shell, discovering the world. I really liked how Stefan tried to do his best by Michael. Protecting him, letting him grow, trying to understand, etc. It was pretty amazing how Stefan behaved. He definitively loved his little brother and there was no resentment, just love at finding him.

Chimera is a A- for me. Not as dark as the Cal Leandros books, but just as good. The plot was tight, the writing was strong and the idea/setting very unusual. Plus, I loved Stefan and Michael :)

Leslie: So, hopes for a sequel? It certainly left off with the potential.

Nath: I'm a bit torn. For sure, it'd be fun to see a sequel... but at the same time, it'll have to be a really, really good story and that might be difficult. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I wouldn't say no to another stand-alone though :P

Tuesday, August 3

August New Releases

Wow, it's been a month since our last post ^_^; Oups. We've dropped the ball a little this summer, but we're going to pick it up again :D Look forward to some reviews in the next few days :) In the meantime, we hope you're having an awesome summer with lots of good reads :D

August 1

Naked by Megan Hart
Published by Harlequin
No strings. No regrets. And no going back.

I didn't think he wanted me. And I wasn't about to get involved with him, not after what I'd heard. Sure, Alex Kennedy was tall, dark and unbearably hot, but I've been burned before. When I solicited him to model for my erotic photography book, I didn't expect such a heated, passionate photo session. And now that we've crossed that line, our bodies aren't the only things that have been exposed.

But I can't give my heart to a man who's so… unconventional. His last sexual relationship was with a married couple. It's enough that my ex-fiancé preferred men, I can't take that chance again no matter how much my body thrives on Alex's touch. I can't risk it, but I can't resist it, either. Alex can be very convincing when he wants something. And he wants me.

Genre: Erotic Romance
Series: connected to Tempted

Ames: I love anything Megan Hart writes and this one was no exception. Yeah I've read it already. I recommend it, especially if you've read Tempted.

Monroe: Ames got me hooked on this lady and lets just say I'd read a travel guide if it was written by her! This woman is HOT HOT HOT! ;)

The Heat is On by Jill Shalvis
Published by Harlequin
Oh, dear. Bella Manchelli is so not having a good day. First, she's deliciously exhausted from last night's sizzling one-night stand. Second, there's a (gulp) dead body at her back door., that scrumptious one-nighter is at her front door... and he's wearing a badge!

Police Officer Jacob Madden is all about duty. Until he shows up looking for a homicide…and runs right into last night's slice of sexy heaven! Damn, he just can't think straight when he's around Bella. All he wants to do is lick her up one side and down the other...

Can duty and smoking-hot sex blend for a while? Definitely! Until Jacob discovers that several of the guys Bella's dated have turned up dead. Jacob loves being around Bella. But is he ready to be used as target practice?

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: n/a

Ames: Jill is an autob-buy author for me. :P

Monroe: I second Ames...Jill seriously ROCKS!

Libertine's Kiss by Judith James
Published by Harlequin
Abandoned by his cavalier father at a young age, William de Veres grew up knowing precious little happiness. But William has put the past firmly behind him and as a military hero and noted rake, he rises fast in the ranks of the hedonistic Restoration court. Though not before he is forced to seek shelter from a charming young Puritan woman...

The civil wars have cost the once-high-spirited Elizabeth Walters her best friend and her father, leaving her unprotected and alone. She flees an unwanted marriage, seeking safe haven, but what she finds is something she never expected. When her kindness and her beauty bring her to the attention of William, and then the king, she will have a choice to make. After all, can a notorious libertine really be capable of love?

Genre: Historical Romance
Series: n/a

Ames: KristieJ turned me onto Judith's writing when she had her Broken Wing campaign. I really enjoyed this one too (read my review here). (also, how much do you love Netgalley? LOL)

Nath: I'm eying this one as well, thanks to Kristie :)

Monroe: Ohhh...pretty cover! I'd buy it on that alone! lol

August 3

Shadow at Midnight by Elizabeth Jennings
Published by Berkley
She was just a shadow of her former self.

Until he came back into her life.

U.S. intelligence agent Claire Day and former Marine Sergeant Dan Watson must solve a deadly conspiracy-or forfeit any chance of having a future together.

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: n/a

Ames: Never heard of this book but that cover is gorgeous! I think I'll see what Nath says about it.

Nath: I've read one book by Ms Jennings and really enjoyed it. I definitively want to check out this one :)

Burning Up by Angela Knight, Meljean Brook, Nalini Singh and Virginia Kantra
Published by Berkley
Bring these four authors together and it's sure to ignite a spark...

Angela Knight pairs a vampire warrior and his seductive captor in a battle against demonic predators.

Nalini Singh returns to the world of her Psy-Changeling series as a woman in lethal danger finds an unlikely protector-and lover.

Virginia Kantra continues the haunting tales of the Children of the Sea in her story of a wounded soldier rescued by an enigmatic young woman.

Meljean Brook launches a bold new steampunk series about a woman who strikes a provocative-and terrifying-bargain for freedom.

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: n/a

Ames: I'm not really a fan of anthologies but hello? Nalini Singh and Meljean Brook? Auto-buy authors!

Nath: LOL, I know Ames! I'm really looking forward to this anthology because Meljean Brook kicks off her new steampunk romance series and I don't want to miss anything :P

Monroe: I've only read Nalini Singh *bows down in worship but would love to try the other authors out!

Deeply, Desperately by Heather Webber
Published by St. Martin's Press
The irrepressible star of "Truly, Madly, " is back in business. This time, Lucy Valentine will go to the ends of the earth to find true love for her clients...and maybe even herself.

Lucy wants to breathe new life into her family’s Boston-based matchmaking company. But how? Even though she comes from a long line of ancestors blessed by Cupid with psychic abilities, a freak accident left Lucy with only one special skill: finding things. Car keys, socks in the dryer, needles in haystacks...and now, in a stroke of professional genius, lost loves

It’s not long before Lucy’s on a winning streak, helping old flames reunite and create new sparks. Business is booming. But when Lucy finds herself involved in a possible case of murder, she realizes she’s in too deep. Enter Sean Donahue. Lucy’s handsome fire-fighter turned private-eye neighbor, Sean is just the man she needsto help her on the job. Could he also be the man she’s been looking for all along? When it comes to Valentine, Inc., falling in love is always serious business...

Genre: contemporary romance, mystery
Series: Lucy Valentine, Book #2

Nath: I've read the first book, Truly, Madly and enjoyed it :) It's a cute, fluffy psychic series. Looking forward to see how Lucy and Sean's relationship will develop.

Monroe: I HAVE Truly, Madly b/c I seen how Nath liked it! I'm sure if she did I will so Ill probably get this one as well!

Hot Finish by Erin McCarthy
Published by Berkley
Desire is about to reach its peak.

Suzanne Jefferson is broke, which is why she's given up charity work for wedding planning. Fortunately, she has a high-profile client-and best of all, he's paid in advance. There are just two teensy problems: the bride is a bona fide bridezilla, and Suzanne's stock racer ex- husband is the best man. At least she though he was her ex-husband...

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Series: Fast Track, Book #3

Ames: I love love love this series and I've been really looking forward to Suzanne's book.

Nath: I think pretty much everyone who had read the first two books are looking forward to Ryder and Suzanne's book and here it is :)

Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong
Published by Random House
The orphaned daughter of a sorcerer and a half-demon, Savannah is a terrifyingly powerful young witch who has never been able to resist the chance to throw her magical weight around. But at twenty-one she knows she needs to grow up and prove to her guardians, Paige and Lucas, that she can be a responsible member of their supernatural detective agency. So she jumps at the chance to fly solo, investigating the mysterious deaths of three young women in a nearby factory town, as a favour to one of the agency's associates. At first glance, the murders look garden-variety human, but on closer inspection signs point to otherworldly stakes.
Soon Savannah is in over her head. She's run off the road and nearly killed, haunted by a mystery stalker and freaked out when the brother of one of the dead women is murdered when he tries to investigate the crime. To complicate things, something weird is happening to her powers. Pitted against shamans, demons, a voodoo-inflected cult and garden-variety goons, Savannah has to fight to ensure her first case isn't her last. And she also has to ask for help, perhaps the hardest lesson she's ever had to learn.

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Women of the Otherworld, Book #11

Nath: Okay, this is not a mistake. For some reasons, Waking the Witch has a release date of August 3 in Canada, which is why it wasn't in the last month's new release post. This is the Canadian cover and I am so getting the US one ^_^; Tell the truth, I got an ARC copy at RT, but still haven't read the book... I'm having some sort of block, but doesn't mean I'm not buying it :P I mean, after all, Women of the Otherworld is one of my favorite series!

Monroe: EPP! The cover is creepy!

Nath: Sigh, I know ^_^; The US cover is much better...

August 10

Veil of Night by Linda Howard
Published by Ballantine
Jaclyn Wilde is a wedding planner who loves her job—usually. But helping Carrie Edwards with her Big Day has been an unrelenting nightmare. Carrie is a bridezilla of mythic nastiness, a diva whose tantrums are just about as crazy as her demands. But the unpleasant task at hand turns seriously criminal when Carrie is brutally murdered and everyone involved with the ceremony is accusing one another of doing the deed.

The problem is, most everyone—from the cake maker and the florist to the wedding-gown retailer and the bridesmaids’ dressmaker—had his or her own reason for wanting the bride dead, including Jaclyn. And while those who felt Carrie’s wrath are now smiling at her demise, Jaclyn refuses to celebrate tragedy, especially since she finds herself in the shadow of suspicion.

Assigned to the case, Detective Eric Wilder finds that there’s too much evidence pointing toward too many suspects. Compounding his problems is Jaclyn, with whom he shared one deeply passionate night before Carrie’s death. Being a prime suspect means that Jaclyn is hands-off just when Eric would rather be hands-on. As the heat intensifies between Eric and Jaclyn, a cold-blooded murderer moves dangerously close. And this time the target is not a bride but one particularly irresistible wedding planner, unaware of a killer’s vow.

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: n/a

Nath: Lately, Ms Howard has been hit and miss; however, this one sounds interesting and quite a departure from her latest release. The plot seems more subdued or less "large"... Know what I mean? I'm going to wait for a few reviews before getting it... but still, sounds interesting and intriguing :P

Monroe: LOVE LINDA HOWARD!!!! This book sounds great!

August 24

Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole
Published by Simon & Schuster

Malkom Slaine: tormented by his sordid past and racked by vampiric hungers, he’s pushed to the brink by the green-eyed beauty under his guard.


Carrow Graie: hiding her own sorrows, she lives only for the next party or prank. Until she meets a tortured warrior worth saving.


In order for Malkom and Carrow to survive, he must unleash both the demon and vampire inside him. When Malkom becomes the nightmare his own people feared, will he lose the woman he craves body and soul?

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Immortals After Dark, Book #10

Ames: I read the first few books in this series and have bought all the others - so I need to make sure I have the complete set. (Seriously, I have problems)

Nath: We all do, Ames ^_^; I'm still undecided about this one. Unlike Ames, I've read them all :P And I've been having issues with the last few books in the series, mainly that that overall story-arc is not advancing and this doesn't feel different...

Monroe: I've read only one book in the series and it had a ghost in it...I never really read about those in the past and was kinda put off by it BUT I've heard really good things about this author so Ill give it another go!

The Devil Wears Plaid by Teresa Medeiros
Published by Simon & Schuster
A sexy Highlander kidnaps his rival's spirited English bride Emmaline Marlowe is about to wed the extremely powerful laird of the Hepburn clan to save her father from debtor's prison when ruffian Jamie Sinclair bursts into the abbey on a magnificent black horse and abducts her in one strong swoop. Though he is Hepburn's sworn enemy, Emma's mysterious captor is everything her bridegroom is not—handsome, virile, dangerous... and a perilous temptation for her yearning heart.

Jamie expects Emma to be some milksop English miss, not a fiery, defiant beauty whose irresistible charms will tempt him at every turn. But he cannot allow either one of them to forget he is her enemy and she his pawn in the deadly Highland feud between the clans. So why does he still want her so badly for himself? Stealing his enemy's bride was simple, but can he claim her innocence without losing his heart?

Genre: Historical Romance
Series: n/a

Ames: I really enjoy Teresa's writing and I'm looking forward to this, even though Highlanders seem...passé.

Nath: I'll be waiting for your review, Ames. I'm not a fan of Highlanders, so... However, very nice cover in my opinion.

August 31

Burning Up by Susan Andersen
Published by Harlequin
Though it's been years since the infamous Macy O'James stepped foot in Sugarville, Washington, everyone remembers what she supposedly did. The tiny town is still buzzing about her crime and lack of punishment.

Now back to lend her family a hand, Macy vows to hold her head high - especially at her high school reunion. But forget about the hottest man in Sugarville escorting her. Though she and fire chief Gabriel Donovan generate enough sparks to burn down the town, he's a law-abiding, line-toeing straight arrow. So not her type.

But maybe - just maybe - he can change her mind about that.

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: n/a

Nath: How funny that there are two releases this month with the same title? Ms Andersen is on my autobuy list for contemporary romance... so yes, I'll be getting this one :P

Maybe this Time by Jennifer Crusie
Published by St. Martin's Press
Andie Miller is ready to move on in life. She wants to marry her fiance and leave behind everything in her past, especially her ex-husband, North Archer. But when Andie tries to gain closure with him, he asks one final favor of her before they go their separate ways forever. A very distant cousin of his has died and left North as the guardian of two orphans who have driven out three nannies already, and things are getting worse. He needs a very special person to take care of the situation and he knows Andie can handle anything...

When Andie meets the two children she quickly realizes things are much worse than she feared. The place is a mess, the children, Carter and Alice, aren’t your average delinquents, and the creepy old house where they live is being run by the worst housekeeper since Mrs. Danvers. What’s worse, Andie’s fiance thinks this is all a plan by North to get Andie back, and he may be right. Andie’s dreams have been haunted by North since she arrived at the old house. And that’s not the only haunting...

What follows is a hilarious adventure in exorcism, including a self-doubting parapsychologist, an annoyed medium, her Tarot-card reading mother, an avenging ex-mother-in-law, and, of course, her jealous fiance. And just when she thinks things couldn’t get more complicated, North shows up on the doorstep making her wonder if maybe this time things could be different between them.

If Andie can just get rid of all the guests and ghosts, she’s pretty sure she can save the kids, and herself, from the past. But fate might just have another thing in mind…

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: n/a

Ames: I'm really torn on this one. I miss JC's solo books but I don't know...a ghost?

Nath: I think I'm getting it, just because it is a JC solo :P How long has it been?!?

Monroe: Ghost...*sigh I miss the old JC...BUT she IS an auto buy for me no matter what! Love that woman!

Finding Perfect by Susan Mallery
Published by Harlequin
Pia was your typical popular girl in high school – she made friends easily, cheered on the squad, and had her share of dates with the school jocks. But she’s always had a hard time committing to something, or someone.

So when her best friend Crystal succumbs to cancer, Pia is devastated, but also shocked by the inheritance her friend has left her – her frozen embryos! Pia’s in a quandary. It’s not like she can just throw them away. But is she really capable of being responsible for another human being?

For once, Pia throws caution to the wind and decides to embrace Crystal’s legacy. But as she struggles with her decision, another complication arises that Pia is totally unprepared for. She finally meets the man of her dreams…and her life becomes more confusing than she ever thought possible.

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Fools Gold, Book #3

Nath: Now, I'm torn about this one ^_^; I've really enjoyed Almost Perfect and I like Ms Mallery's writing. However, the subject, frozen embryos? Totally doesn't attract me... So what to do?

Time Enough for Love by Suzanne Brockmann
Published by Bantam
Level-headed Maggie Winthrop never expected her love life to turn into science fiction. Then a Navy SEAL–trained scientist named Chuck Della Croce turns up one day in her backyard—naked and with an impossible-to-believe explanation: He has come back from the future in a time machine of his own creation in order to stop terrorist killers from laying waste to America. Maggie sympathizes with the rugged, handsome stranger—but can she trust him?

Chuck can’t complete this mission of mercy alone. He needs Maggie to use all the wiles a beautiful woman has at her disposal to convince his younger self not to create the technology responsible for the tragedy.

But when Maggie falls for both versions of the same irresistible man, she confronts a wrenching choice no woman should ever have to face: abandon a love she’s waited for all her life or stay with Chuck and watch the future she longs to build with him go up in flames.

Genre: Time Travel Romance
Series: n/a

Ames: This is a reprint and one of Suz's books I haven't read yet. First of all, I love Suz. Second, Time Enough for Love is the title of one of my favorite books by Robert A. Heinlein (and I love that Suz has mentioned his books in a few of her own!). Even the fact that this is a time travel is not enough to discourage me from reading this - because I HATE time travel romances.

Monroe: I just started reading Susanne Brockmann...she's pretty awesome so I'd read this one!