Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mrs. Perfect by Jane Porter

Mrs. Perfect by Jane Porter
ISBN: 0446699241
Publisher: 5 Spot
Length: Novel
Genre: Mommy Lit
Price: $13.99 USD

Taylor Young is a Bellevue mom with everything she could ask for: a gorgeous husband, three beautiful girls, her dream house and a nanny. She has time for committees, pilates, spa dates and more. She is a super mom. She does everything and appears to do it all well and easily. Unfortunately, it's all about to end as a secret is revealed that blows her world apart. When most of her friends shrink away from the 'disaster' her life as become, she finds another friend in the most unlikeliest of people. Somewhere along her journey Taylor learns that being Mrs. Perfect on the outside doesn't change the inside and not being perfect might be a better choice, anyway.

I have to say that I did not like Taylor Young much as I read through the first chapters of this book. In fact, I had a strong distaste for her. But, like a train wreck, I kept reading because Ms. Porter knows how to draw the reader in. I was sucked into the world and I needed to beleive that Taylor would be redeemed somehow.

Early on, I was able to guess the secret that was going to rip apart Taylor's world. I don't really want to disclose it because the build up in the beginning of the book is imperative. While part of me is unsure how it could have gone on so long without a conversation, part of me understands the world this couple built and the need to not disappoint each other. At first I was solely on the side of Nathan, the husband. I was in total disdain that Taylor had been the major cause of their problems.

However, once their world starts to collapse it is Taylor who is the strong one, while Nathan runs away, ostensibly to make it all better. Although it took a good while (what was with her being so rotten to Lucy and then the sudden flip - it's ok to be nice since they're both in crappy situations?), Taylor seems to reach down inside herself and suddenly she isn't the selfish, vain person I thought her to be in the beginning. The reader starts to see the real Taylor. The insecure woman trying to please everyone. To be everything to everyone but herself. It seemed like she was redeemed a bit too easily, but then again I had no trouble suspending disbelief at that point. I was too sucked in - too invested in the story to stop.

Ms. Porter does a great job of portraying how friends react when the bad stuff happens. Some are there no matter what and then there are those who slink away and pretend they never knew you or are embarrassed to know you now. Then there are the ones who take advantage of the situation. The character of Monica totally cracked me up because I'm sure we all know someone like that.

The build to Nathan coming back was quite quick at the end and I think I would have liked to have seen more about that, but this was really Taylor's journey so it was ok.

All in all Mrs. Perfect was a great read. Although I can't relate to the financial status of most of the women in this book, I found it realistic and heart-wrenching all the same. Because money is not what makes us who we are. What we have does not define us. And, I think, that is the point. Ms. Porter has a way of taking something superficial and showing us the heart that beats underneath.

I give this a 4


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Forever Again, Shannon Stacey

Forever Again by Shannon Stacey
ISBN: 1-59998-001-0
Length: Category
Price: $4.50
Genre: Romance/Contemporary
Publication Date: January 3, 2006

After fifteen years apart, after a disastrously brief 13 day marriage, Gena Taylor and Travis Ryan run into each other again. Unfortunately, it is when Travis arrives at Gena's inn with his new fiance.

Travis hasn't told his fiance, that he was ever married before, let alone the reason why. He's still trying to forget that he was conned into marriage by a fake pregnancy after one night with Gena all those years ago.

However, the pregnancy wasn't fake, but Travis never stuck around to find out. Now Gena isn't sure whether to introduce him to his fifteen year old daughter, Mia, or to continue to keep the secret from the only man she ever truly loved. The man who devastated her when he accused her of being a scheming lier.

As they struggle to find solit footing for this new relationship, trying to be good parents to Mia and form that relationship for her, they are overcome by both the past and the passion they are trying to deny.

I picked up this book last night because I was in the mood for a nice solid romance, without any twists and turns (no paranormal, no romantic suspense, etc. - just straight romance) and I like this author's romantic suspense/adventure (The Devlin Group) series, so I thought why not. Although not usually a fan of the surprise/hidden pregnancy stories, I was willing to give it a shot.

I'm glad I did. I read this straight through and fell in love with the characters, especially Gena and her daughter, Mia. I wanted to kick Travis' ass on several occassions, and frankly still do a bit, but he did manage to redeem himself in the end. I wish he hadn't been so bent on villifying Gena when I believe he was the jerk in the first place. However, if he hadn't then there wouldn't be much of a story and frankly, this was done so well that even though I normally hate heroes like this, Ms. Stacey made it work.

My only problem was the head hopping. Ms. Stacey did seem to make it fairly clear that it was a switch, but (anyone who has read any of my reviews will know this) I hate any head hopping. I prefer to stay in one character's head per scene. It was the only thing that detracted from my total enjoyment of this book. And she did it well enough that I was able to ignore it after a while. To be fair to Ms. Stacey, I recently read my first JD Robb (aka Nora Roberts) book and I had the same problem. Ms. Roberts wrote her story so skillfully that the head hopping didn't bother me nearly as much as it always does. I would say that Ms. Stacey has written her story just as skillfully.

Overall, when the story was said and done I had a lump in my throat and I was so glad I'd read it. It was a wonderful, feel good, contemporary romance that lived up to its promise of Forever Again. I'm still smiling this morning when I think of it. It reminded me of the romance stories I read when I was younger, before I got caught up in needing suspense, action, adventure. A time when I was happy to feel the romance and get my happy ending. A time when I dreamed that I was every heroine, just waiting for my hero. Thank you for taking me back.

I give this 4.5 (reduction is purely for the head hopping)


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Trouble with Paradise by Jill Shalvis

(sorry, borrowing the blurb from the book for this one, due to time constraints this time)
When Dorie Anderson meets a cute guy, she becomes a huge klutz. But one phone call has turned her dead-end dating life into an adventure: she's won a trip on a singles' cruise to Fiji. On board, she soon meets pro baseball player Andy, and the ship's hunky French doctor. She's sure she'll fall head-over-heels in no time. Unfortunately, she's right: soon, she trips over her luggage right in front of them. Mortifying. But a bigger disaster is just on the horizon. Dorie finds a man murdered in his bunk the same night a storm wrecks the ship, stranding everyone on a deserted shore. It'd be a perfect setting for romance-if it weren't for the fact that there's a killer among them.

I had trouble with this book. I didn't particularly like Dorie or the hero much. Every time I started to like Dorie, something else made me cringe. I get that she's supposed to be clutzy and tongue-tied around cute guys, but it's the choices she makes that I mostly don't like.

The story wasn't horrible by any means, and in some ways it was very entertaining. Ms. Shalvis did a great job with the sex scenes and also with the tension during the storm and other suspensful scenes. I just had a lot of trouble suspending disbelief for various parts throughout the book and the ending seemed slightly convoluted. Or maybe that's only because this reader didn't buy-in previously.

While I waffle back and forth on my feelings on this book I can clearly see it as movie of the week material. I didn't have a lot of emotional investment in the characters or plot, but didn't find it an entire waste of time either.

I give this a 3


First Comes Love by Whitney Lyles

Cate Blakely is enjoying being newly wed to Ethan when she suspects she might be pregnant. Her and Ethan weren't even trying, they were just trying to enjoy couple time. Most of their friends recently having babies, pregnant or trying, and everyone is asking whether they're next. Then suddenly they are.

Ms. Lyles follows Cate's journey from first pregnancy panic, through doctor's appointments, a friend's fertility struggles, pregnancy ills, other people's babies and the general overall travel through the land of motherhood in a very realistic way. There were times I was nodding my head. There was no perfect pregnancy here. When Cate is so sick that she can barely comb her hair or get out of bed to help with the business, even when a younger, prettier assistant is hired, I was sold. This was my pregnancy. I've been there, I understand that!

This book made me laugh out loud, made me smile or grimace in rememberance of my own pregnancy journeys, and made me wisftul and sad about fertility and miscarriage issues. The tone of this book was well done and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hadn't read the previous installments of this heroine, but it didn't matter, I didn't need to. This book was very stand alone.

I wonder if Ms. Lyles will be penning a new novel that tells of motherhood and how Cate's relationship with Ethan evolves through that. I, for one, would like to read it.

I give this a 5


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hang tight

... there are more reviews coming. I've got at least four (4) reviews to get to (the books are read, now I need to write the reviews). Life has been crazy, but I promise you'll see more reviews by November.

Just didn't want anyone to think I wasn't posting any more. :-)


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer

The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer

New American Library (Penguin), June 2007

Nola Deviln is not who people think she is. Or rather she is, but Belinda Apple isn’t. You see, she’s both. On a quest to show her magazine editor that being overweight has nothing to do with how well she can write, Nola invents Belinda Apple, a thin, gorgeous, and hip writer from Britain.

She initially does it to prove a point, then gets all caught up in the fantasy. While no one’s ever met Belinda, everyone thinks she’s fabulous. Even Nola’s friends take advice from Belinda—her weight loss advice, in particular, gets their notice. Thus the Cinderella Pact is born, and Nola and her two best friends vow to lose weight by a certain date. Belinda says it’s as easy as walking it off.

As she starts to lose weight, Nola feels great, but Belinda is having issues. The magazine can’t seem to get a hold of her and have started to worry they’ve been defrauded. They aren’t happy. As Nola struggles to keep her identity hidden, lose the weight, keep up with her sister who’s getting married (with Belinda as her maid of honour), deal with a man who pops in, and then back out, of her life, she realised that it’s hard enough to be one person, let alone two.

This book was wonderful. I loved that Nola was a real woman, with real problems and real curves. I loved that even though she lost weight and became thinner, that it didn’t immediately make everything in her life become perfect. I loved that they talked about the various ways people try to lose weight, and that, mostly, Nola made sensible decisions about weight loss.

The tension and pacing in this book were very well done. I laughed out loud, I felt sorrowful, I sneered at the magazine editor, and I was smiling at the end. Even though I had guessed who the hero was, there were moments when I became unsure, moments when I wavered in my loyalty to who he was and what he was up to.

Ms. Strohmeyer has produced a witty book, with characters that are all three-dimensional. I’m not a big fan of the big girl who loses weight and suddenly has a fairy tale ending but, in this case, the author delivers the story with such finesse that I found myself sucked in. Well done! I look forward to picking up more of this author’s books.

I give it 5 Kisses, Reviewed for Romance Divas


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Nowhere to Hide by Jennifer Elbaum

Nowhere to Hide By Jennifer Elbaum
Lovestruck Books
ISBN: 0-9786454-0-5
Romantic Suspense
200 pages
Publishing Date: 2006
$5.00 ebook or $10.95 trade paperback

Alex Maguire is a waitress on the run with a little girl. The little girl, Gail, is supposedly the daughter of her very good friend, Simon, and Alex is trying to protect her. The Trust is after them and there is nowhere to hide and no one they can trust.

Simon has asked Detective Dan Greywolf (Wolf) to help Alex and Gail, and that's what he plans on doing, even if Alex drives him to distraction. He's wanted her since meeting her the year before, but the woman has trust issues. It doesn't help that, no matter where they go, The Trust seems to catch up to them. Alex starts to believe that Dan is leading them there.

The Trust trained Alex and Simon, two of The Six, years before at The School. Now, apparently, they want to get The Six back together to perform one more job. It's a life or death situation and not all is as it seems. Can Dan and Alex fight their growing attraction to take on an evil entity and win? Or will it be that attraction that saves them in the end?

Nowhere to Hide has a great plot and the background behind it is very ingenious. Unfortunately, the point-of-view shifts between the main characters every paragraph or two had my head spinning. As most of you, who read my regular reviews, are aware, I am not a fan of the head-hop. As well, I have some issues with the fact that Alex did not seem to be concerned with Gail's welfare. Alex always seemed more worried about whether Wolf was ok. I understand that Alex isn't the girls mom, or even used to be around kids, but, in my opinion, a man who is a detective can take care of himself, whereas a four-year old girl can't.

That being said, I love the premise for the story, a corrupt corporation that is training young children to do their bidding. Ms. Elbaum was able to create tension, and build a very interesting world around The School and The Trust. Oh, and I loved the ending, it was brilliant. It made me smile. I can't say more than that, but it's what makes me think the author intends to do a series with The Trust, perhaps using each of The Six. I would be interested in reading this series and I hope Jennifer Elbaum continues in writing it.

I give it 3.5 Diners


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Blood Seduction by J.M. Jeffries

Blood Seduction by J.M. Jeffries

Genesis Press, Inc., 2007

Major Ursula Carlson is a career military woman, who is heading a special ops team of vampires. She is trying to prove to the government that it would be beneficial to work with the vampires, rather than against them. That they could be great allies. After proving this, yet again, and pulling off a special job Ursula feels she’s in line for a promotion.

Unfortunately, her superiors feel otherwise and she is kept in the field and given a new boss. And to top it off they decide it’s better to eliminate the vampires and they want Ursula to head the clean-up team after they are destroyed. Shocked and dismayed at the idea of mass slaughter Ursula warns the vampires and goes on the run with sexy Solomon.

Blood seduction follows Solomon and Ursula as they race to save the vampire nation, and take down the head of the military branch that is running the operation.

Once again J.M. Jeffries has done a great job of sucking me in to a story. Although I have read Blood Lust, the first in this series, this book stands alone and there is no problem trying to catch up. Having read Blood Lust so long ago I was thrilled to remember some of the old characters, it felt like catching up. My favourite is Elder Turi. I think I’d really like to meet him. In any event, the pacing and action in this story are tight, and I felt the back-story was inserted at appropriate times. There were a couple of awkward phrases where I wasn’t sure if a word was missing or if that was intentional, but other than that the reading was smooth.

I picked this up and read it straight through to the end. I got a little less sleep, but was very happy with the story. The vamps are just like the rest of us, each flawed and real, but there is no horror-style gore. It is like many other suspense/adventure type books I read—it just has vampires. I look forward to the next installment, should there be one.

I give this a 4.5, Review for BE Reviews