Monday, September 30, 2013

The Dark Side of Desire (Paperback) by Michelle Reid

She could run . . . but she couldn't hide.

No longer the shattered teenager who had left Thornley vowing never to return, Rebecca Shaw had come to terms with the legacy of Jay Lorence's betrayal and had built a new life on HER terms. But her mother needed her now--and nothing could keep Rebecca from going home.

Ten years melted in Jay's embrace; his kiss reopened old wounds and ignited forgotten temptations. Every instinct warned her to run before her hard-worked-for peace and stability came crashing down.

Rebecca had a new life--one she had no intention of letting Jay invade. But keeping a man like Jay at arm's length was next to impossible--especially when it wasn't what she really wanted to do.

Rating: 5 stars
I usually hate abandoned-baby-shocked-father stories but this one works on so many different levels - First of all, its an honest book - The real issue b/w the H/H is the social classification of the society and then the story is very mature ( but not boring) - You can pretty much tell how the hero is feeling right from the start (and no he's not giving mixed signals and he doesn't rip the heroine apart like nobody's business) - not that he's not angry at her but its an anger that I can understand (as does the heroine, I might add) - the dialog from their child is well placed and very apt

The last recommendation I can give it is this: I read this book 10 years ago and reading it now, I still feel the gut-wrenching ache that I did initially....

Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.
Goodreads link if you want to add it to your shelf: Dark Side of Desire

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sweet Vixen by Susan Napier

Life without him had been dull--but safe. Max Wilde had taken over as executive editor of New Zealand's leading fashion magazine just to create havoc, Sarah thought bitterly.

He wasn't content with changing the magazine's format, however. Now he was focusing his attention on Sarah herself, taunting and challenging, forcing her to admit that her desires as a woman hadn't died with her husband. She hadn't felt so alive in years--and she resented it!

Rating: Initially 4 stars, 3.5 stars on reread
I don't know why I liked this book so much a long time ago. Is it glamorous? Yes. Does it have awakening-of-heroine's-senses? Yes. Is the hero equal-opportunity employer? Yes. The problem, I think, is the fact that I saw him forcing the heroine needlessly and yes, I know most hqns have that but in most of them you expect the hero to be macho and an ass-hat. In this one, the hero was comfortable with women and judged them on their own merit and so it's a surprise that he let himself fall so low. Some might say it's a sign of his passion that he was able to forget himself when he dealt with the heroine but I think it's a sign that the author wanted the passion but couldn't connect his two side properly. Another thing which I found during the reread is that the H/h didn't spend too much time together getting to know each other. The H's mommy issues were never fully discussed and the way he called the h 'a dumb cow' felt like a personal attack on me.

Overall, it's a good book; you might want to read it and compare notes with me :)

If you want to add this book to your goodreads feed, here's the link: SWEET VIXEN

Her Best Friend (More Than Friends #1) by Sarah Mayberry

What's a girl to do when she's secretly in love with a friend and he's married to someone else? She gets over it. That's what Amy Parker has done. Rather than lose her best bud Quinn Whitfield with an ill-timed, crazy confession of affection, she's taken the smart route. She's eased away from him. Just enough to get past the unrequited bits. And you know, it's working. 

Until the day Quinn announces he's now single. That's right. He's single. And he wants to hang out. With her. Get reconnected the way they used to be. 
Oh, this is so not good for Amy's equilibrium. Daily doses of Quinn remind her of everything she loves about him. But if he's free...and she's free...well, maybe the time has come for one of those crazy confessions. 

Rating: 3 stars
Okay so here's the beef:
I keep complaining about how the HQN books are not 'real' enough. Well, I've been pwned cuz they don't get any more real than this. And that's a problem.
1- When things get too real in books, you feel like it's happening to you.
2- Any woman who has ever been in a relationship, even one-sided one, will be upset when her guy has been/is involved with someone else.
3- I didn't feel any chemistry between the H/h...And I'm a great appreciator of friends-to-lovers but because it dragged so long, I still kept thinking of them as  friends more than lovers.
4- These books have (sort of) the same theme but here's why I love them more:
a) Crazy for you (Jennifer Crusie): The H married the h's sister but the icky and jealousy factors are much-reduced by the time-lapse: It's been 16(if I rem correctly) years since the hero was last married so you don't feel like the old relationship's that heavy, involved and emotional. Plus, the hero realized right after he got back from the honey moon that he'd made a mistake but kept quiet about it to preserve the friendship. That's the guy feeling something. We women don't get that emotionally attached to the story when that happens apart from saying: 

The heroine felt something too but she just didn't pay attention to why she felt happier with the hero until the story starts.
b) Waking Up (Amanda Carpenter): Again, a story with unrequited love but no third friend to interrupt the flow. 
I think generally (for me, at least), friends to lovers stories work only if it's initiated by the guy....if its from the girl, it hits too close to home. I don't wanna get upset over some non-existent person... 
One more thing, I kept wanting to remember, why I don't usually like Super-romances and Silhouette and it's because: they're too long! It starts to grate on me :(

If you want to add it on goodreads, here's the link: Her Best Friend

Taken on Trust (Paperback) by Sally Wentworth - Harlequin Presents

Lyn couldn't tell what he was thinking

That was the trouble. Despite their initial conflict, it hadn't taken Lyn long to realize that Morgan French was the only man in the world for her.
What Lyn wanted she usually got and this time was no exception. But Morgan was infuriatingly enigmatic about his feelings for her. And his question--"We'd better get married then, hadn't we?"--was disappointingly casual.
Was he only marrying her because of her wealthy background, Lyn wondered. Or did he really love her?

Rating: 4.75
 Well...any book of HQN that I've read with a groom and a bride on the cover has been a high-drama one and as far as I remember , they've all been very good. This one was no exception. 

When I started reading it, I was like "Oh, no! not another crappy book about a hero collecting the heroine and all that" but I actually felt exactly like the heroine in her reaction to her parents' marriage breakup. I know she acted like a spoiled brat and she lashed out but I loved that because it's human to react badly to a bad situation. I hate it when most authors make the heroines out to be a martyr and self-sacrificing type. I'd want blood as did the heroine. She finds out the H was somehow involved in the scheme and turns on him and I love her sharp retorts. Plus you can feel her pain quite visually so that was great

I usually don't like melo-dramatic books cuz it's easy to go OTT (this one did, too, slightly and I started thinking she was acting badly [which was the whole point of the story...she was!]) but this one worked quite well and I'll defo be reading it again..

The Brazilian's Blackmail Bargain by Abby Green

Six months ago Brazilian tycoon Caleb Cameron thought he'd uncovered Maggie Holland's plot to ruin him--using seduction But Maggie was being manipulated by her stepfather. She'd fallen in love with Caleb--but he vowed never to see her again. After her stepfather dies, Maggie is left with nothing. Now, to complete his revenge, Caleb makes an offer Maggie can't refuse: but she must become his mistress for two months

Rating 1 star
Totally hated it.
1) blackmail ain't my cuppa AT ALL cuz they're just not real - or not all that real...
2)No humor - whatsoever
3)Usually no compatibility between the H/h (although at least here the author tried -unsuccessfully...)
4)Plus, like I said in another review: I hate martyr heroines and here's the reason why:
I'm intrigued every time I read a book like this - Do people in the west want the women to be quiet, accommodating and self-sacrifising? Cuz they keep wanting to read about it....and if, God forbid, an Asian woman actually puts her family first, they literally question her to death about how she could let herself get used that way - totally confusing!

I know I'm gonna get shot down for saying this but why doesn't HQN move on?!?! There are so many wonderful ways people meet and end up together - please leave Blackmailed/compromised heroines where they belong-  in the past!!!!!!

Secret Admirer by Susan Napier

Grace under pressureRunning into a potential business partner late at night in a broken elevator - when one was wearing a glamorous fur with nothing on underneath - was awkward, but Grace Blair was cool enough to handle a hot situation.

Her poised, controlled demeanor belied the insecurity she felt taking over her late husband's business empire, but Scott Gregory was able with one caressing glance to strip away all her pretenses. Especially since the handsome New Zealander had made it clear from their first inauspicious meeting that in business, knowledge was power - and that he knew exactly what he wanted.



Rating: 5 stars
This is another master piece from Susan Napier. Personally, after having read 1000s of HQN books, I've started feeling they all read the same way. Not this one. 
1- It has humor
2- It has a surprising connection between the hero and heroine
3- Although the hero pursues the heroine, its a gentle flirtatious form and not forced seduction one (that really irritates me)
4- The hero has a secret too
Highly recommended!
Link to the Goodreads page for the book: Secret Admirer

Impulsive Gamble by Lynn Turner


Abbie knew that she was taking a risk, but it seemed to be a gamble that might pay off. Malachi Garrett, brilliant engineer-inventor, was so reclusive that hardly anything was known about him. Now here he was, in a bar in Oklahoma, looking for someone to drive his Shelby Cobra car in a race to Washington DC. As a freelance journalist, Abbie couldn't pass up the chance.

Pretending to be a medical secretary urgently needing to read Washington, Abbie talked her way into being the driver. She found out too late that living a lie made her feel very uncomfortable and that she and Malachi Garrett made an explosive combination...

Rating: 5+ stars!!!

[Genre: Sweet/Fun/Old-B&W-Movie-Like]
A)Better than One More Time by Karen Van Der Zee...
B)Hero on par with Peter (Unpred Man, Emma Darcy) and Nick( Pulse of the Heartland, Melinda Cross)I mean, really!!!! AMAZING book. Here's how it starts:

[The heroine overhears two guys talking in a bar - one of them's the hero]

1st guy: 'You know what I'm wonderin'?'
2nd guy: 'No, and to tell the truth, I don't care'
1st guy: 'I'm wonderin' how you've managed to live to the ripe old age of 36, when it's a known fact that you've been brain-dead since birth'
'Strength of will', was the flat reply

a) try guessing which of them's our hero?
b)This is just the BEGINNING. It gets SO much better than this!!!!!
c)If you dig beta heroes who are super smexy (ala Peter in an Unpredictable Man - Emma'll LOVE Malachi - The guy cooks for cryin' out loud!)
d) The more I think about this book,, the more convinced I am that if a person were to read just one HQN, this is it.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dark Fire (Too Hot to Handle, #4) (Harlequin Presents, #1735) by Robyn Donald

Dancing with the devil...
"You're certainly not in love with Paul. Because you want to go to bed with me." Devilish words indeed. But what made Flint Jansen so arrogantly assume that Aura would choose him over Paul--his friend and Aura's warm and loyal fiance? From the moment they met, he had shattered Aura's world. It was true, she found him undeniably attractive, overwhelmingly charismatic. So much so that she now faced a battle with her conscience and with Flint; both demanded that she abandon security and her fiance. She had to cancel the wedding--but could she entrust herself to Flint's dark seduction...?

Rating: 3 stars

First things first: Please keep in mind that I’m a lil dazed and confused from reading too many HQNs (either that or I’m high on tea/caffeine which is plausible) and that my review is totally biased. Ready? Here we go:
1-"You're certainly not in love with Paul. Because you want to go to bed with me." Okay Mr. Wise-guy: I got three words for ya: WHAT THE F***???? HOW DARE YOU? (ok, so that’s 6 words, I don’t care!)
2- Ohlala the heroine is so beautiful, birds chirp when they see her, people tumble over when they gaze at her, yadda yadda…um, cliché much?
3- H is a jack-ass (also known as an alpha-male in some circles).
4- ‘Oh, you feel that? Feel how you burn for me…you biotch, you who**, you…..!’ Um…dude’s got serious anger management/control issues.
5… know what? I’m exhausted (both by reading this book and writing these angest filled-thoughts) – Add to that the fact that the temperature was 45+ degrees today so my brain’s just about fried and I’m about ready to charge at someone (preferably the h)[ Edit: The Ending chapter is quite off-the-charts (in a good way) and the ending was mature but I hate it that the authors have to conform to the typical, blackmail/pregnancy/martyr guidelines  to make the stories work :(]
Can’t believe 2 of my fave HQNs (a willing surrender and I-can’t-remember-the-name-of-the-other-one-for-the-life-of-me-right-now) were written by RD

Stranger At Winterfloods - Mary Lyons

What else could she do but take the man home?
Surely when a handsome stranger manipulates you into giving him a lift and promptly faints with fever in the front seat of your car, the term "mannapping" hardly applies. Not knowing where he belonged, Polly Preston had simply taken him home.
Granted, "home"--Winterfloods Farm--was two hundred miles from the London hotel lobby where they'd met. But Polly's involuntary houseguest adjusted easily to his whereabouts.
In fact, James Linklater seemed to be adjusting rather too well. Polly soon wondered just how long she could tend to his needs without giving in to his charms!


What a lovely story!!!!  I loved that the hero and heroine truly became friends, laughed together and flirted with each other (which is a very important stage in a relationship). Their love seems genuine and yet when they do get married (half way through the story) they realize that marriage is quite different than love. Wonderful story about compromising and understanding the point of view of your partner. The humor's like Emma Goldrick + Leigh Michaels but with none of EG's heroine's musings. 

TOTALLY recommended.

Pagan Encounter by Charlotte Lamb

Synopsis: When Leigh accepted the job of secretary to Matt Hume, it was with the idea of punishing him for his selfishness to her young cousin - and to all the other girls he had so callously encouraged and then tossed aside. 

But Matt turned the tables on her by declaring that he intended to make her his property - and skilfully wearing down her resistance. Would she be able to get out of the situation before it was too late?

Review: 3 stars

(Rating 3.75) A commentary by Barney Stinson via Emi

-A hot girl: Score!

- Hitting on an engaged woman? You’re a brave soldier, my friend, in the pursuit of bliss on a quest of ‘I SCORED THAT CHICK!’

-And you hit that? I gotta know how you did it. No, I’m serious, tell how me how you did it…

-did you use the classic line ‘You icy bitch!’? (I think it’s a versatile line, which can provide cover for when it doesn’t work and there’s a dog nearby)

-Or ‘You’re my property?’ (always reminded me of Penthouse apartments for some reason which is interesting cuz the view ‘up top’ is always a sight for the sore eyes. ‘Up-Top-Five!’)

-Or ‘If you even think about hitting me I’ll dock you one, real bad’. Yeah, that’s always been my favorite. It tells the chick that her man is powerful enough to protect her… from herself.

-Dude, you totally need a slap-commissioner. Some one who shall remain unbiased and uphold the rules of slap-fest. I would have recommended Lily but currently she's supervising Marshall and I. How about Phil?

-What do mean you just ‘made love to her’? Oh you mean you just ‘kissed’ her? That’s it and you scored? What sort of gullible fool is she and where can I find more like her?

-Bro!!! I salute you for retreat in the face of danger, you backed off whilst ‘making love’. Haha! Oh, you mean you really were making love this time round and backed off? Well the award for the most gullible fool now goes to you.

Your chick on the Hot/Crazy scale:

She is slim and shiny: HOT

She captures a bro and gets engaged: CRAZY (not-so-crazy for her)

She lets you make love (can’t get round this…hahahaha!): HOT

She knows who’s the boss: HOT

She captures another bro: CRAZY

As much I respect you for your achievements, I have to say you have failed all of bro-therhood: You got married. And hence forth you shall be remembered for your elevator tactics and your knowledge of faulty electronics. Rest in Peace. Or marriage, whatever, same difference.

The Shining of Love (Paperback) by Emma Darcy

Rating: 5 stars

Okay! Here it is: Proof that a book can be (mostly) real and fast paced and not boring. The subjects tackled in the book were done so with maturity and sensitivity. As with Emma Darcy books, you get a hint of moral dilemma and I was SO glad the heroine followed through with what was morally right. It was also lovely to imagine the Australian outback quite simply cuz it's 36 deg Celcius where I am sitting and the weather was perfectly reflected in the book which helped me connect with the story even more. Plus I loved the multi-national family concept (Um....Brad Pitt and Angelina??? :P) where everyone's different and yet, everyone meets up under the same roof.

Wonderful read which (somewhat) reminded me of Robyn Donald's A Willing Surrender -but this book dealt with more than just the relationship b/w the H/h.

What's Right (Harlequin Presents) by Melinda Cross

Rating: 5 stars
This review contains spoilers

It starts off slow and a little confusing - but when it hits you its with a kaboom! -

The heroine falls in love with the hero after reading his handwriting (that's right!) and he feels the same for her although he gives her mixed signals. Turns out he's engaged to another ( a disabled lady) and can not break it up cuz he'd been in an accident from which he came out unscathed but her legs were crushed ( although he admits he doesn't love her). There's a side story about a mutual friend who's the sane one(or insane one, however u look at it) in the bunch and keeps telling them that there's something fishy about the disabled lady loving the hero when its obvious he ruined her life and that she's extracting revenge by making him miserable for the rest of life by shackling him in a marriage he doesn't want. The problem is: Both the  hero and heroine are do-gooders to the extreme and would rather sacrifice themselves...

Forever (Mass Market Paperback) by Lynn Turner

Rating: 4.25
[Genre: Witty/Action/Humorous/Fast-paced]
I loved this book but I liked 'Impulsive Gambling' by Lynn Turner even more cuz that was more fun overall - still this book is a VERY good preview of Lynn's talent. I liked the action (even though I'm not fan of the genre).

I am extremely impressed by this author. I'm seriously wondering whether SEPhillips wrote for M&B. She's like a Kelly Hunter( the author, that is) of the 80's for Hqn. And in fact this story can be made into a full-length movie.
  Song for the book!

Pulse of the Heartland - Melinda Cross

Rating 5 stars

So. Before I go on with why I looooooooooove this book, I have to tell you this: My folks have been married for a long time now and one of the first indications that I had for the fact that they love each other (I haven't seen my folks ever kissing etc cuz PDAs are not part of my culture) was when they would verbally tease each other. Not to belittle each other, mind you, but to bring a smile on the other one's face.

This book is about a woman who's perceived to be a dried prune. To be fair, she thinks all the marriages in the Mid-West are dominated by men while women generally submit to them and then claim to have long-lasting marriages. Her own parents are not spared from being included and she's cynical about the men 'protecting' their women. 

The way the hero draws her out, using humor, small-town-mentality, reasoning, love and patience just makes me want to go 'awwwwwww'!. He uses townspeople as proxy to make the h realize that she can love someone and be equal to them too.

The cover doesn't do justice to the story: Here's what I think the heroine looks like:

[Okay, she's a lil TOO perfect but whatever...and I'm imaging the H to be like Aaron Eckhart with laugh lines and good humor]

I read this when I was a teenager and in the folly of the days gone by, I traded it to an old book shop. I just recently found this book again and you can be sure I won't be parting with it ever!

Separate Lives (Harlequin Romance No. 2793) by Caroline Jantz

Gwen and Bradley are forced to marry - sounds familiar? Well, it's not - For one thing, Gwen is no shrinking flower and knows it's a marriage for money arranged by her God-father ( who is incidentally Brad's uncle)...She's strong and can hold her own unlike Harlequin's other somewhat questionable heroines.

She's going to university for a business degree and she and Brad have a verbal match going on ( which Brad didn't expect) right from the start. After she adopts two kittens....well, let's just say things get interesting...

I love this book - it's funny and it makes you think that for this couple, it's a permanent match ( which is important) because they have a beautiful friendship which will sustain even when they're 80 and ugly as sin ( I know...too much imagination on my part but still.....)