Sunday, August 26, 2012

Risking It All by Jennifer Schmidt

Risking It All
From the blurb:

Kennedy Monroe barely got her foot in her college dorm her freshman year before she was being warned about a certain dark-haired, blue-eyed self-proclaimed Casanova. There were only so many tales of heartache – and incredibly steamy nights – she could listen to before she started to believe them. But after a run in with the most sought after college womanizer, her ill feelings toward him change and soon a friendship forms that surprises everyone.
Twelve years later Kennedy and Memphis Adams are closer than ever - and only friends despite what those around them think, including Kennedy’s boyfriend Ian Brooks. When Kennedy accepts an invitation to vacation in Alaska from Memphis, her relationship with Brooks is tested as is her restraint when it comes to the desire she has always had for her best friend.

My rating:

I wanted to like this book, really, I did. And the writing itself is not bad, but the plot and the characterizations in this novel drove me batty.

Kennedy and Memphis have been best friends since college. He's a bit of a Casanova, don't-tie-me-down kinda guy, and she's pretending to be an adult, reading possibly too much into the warnings to stay out of his bed because he is rumored to just use and discard women. Fast forward 12 years, Kennedy is dating Brooks, a doctor, who's as one-dimensional as you can get, and not happy in the relationship.

Afraid to rock the boat and possibly end up alone, she whines and complains to Memphis about Brooks (over and over), yet refuses to take his advice or that of her friend Vanessa to just end things with the doctor. When the good doctor doesn't show up for her first art show, she decides that kissing Memphis is a good idea.

Miscommunication and confusion ensues.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Soul Weaver by Hailey Edwards

Soul Weaver
From the blurb:

Since the accident that nearly took her life, Chloe suffers from acute agoraphobia. Living alone above her family's bookstore, she spends restless nights terrified by strange visions . . . until a mysterious stranger appears and offers her salvation. Chloe is drawn to the ethereal, gorgeous Nathaniel-but her haunted soul warns her there is more to him than meets the eye. An archangel who roams Earth collecting souls of the newly departed, Nathaniel is the sole witness to the accident that should have taken Chloe's life. Seduced by the purity of her soul, he defies Providence by saving her life. But his attempt at kindness marks Chloe for damnation, and makes her an unwitting pawn in a game of unholy ambition. Now together they must fight the demons of Hell itself-for a love that defies the boundaries of Heaven and Earth. 

My rating:

2.5 stars at most for this book. I wasn't overly impressed with the story, nor its execution.

Nathaniel is a soul weaver. Once he was an angel, but he's been banished from heaven for lying about his brother's involvement with a mortal woman. After his fall, he's forced to work for Delphi, ruler of hell. His job is to collect souls of bad people (Harvest) and then weave from them a cloth that is used to make wings for the other fallen angels (the Harvesters).

He knows that rule breakers are punished, but when he comes upon an accident, a pure soul calls to him. This soul, while pure and sparkling clean, has no ties to anyone in heaven, which prevents it from being seen by the angels. Realizing that his angelic, heavenly counterparts are not coming to claim this soul, and with no one to prevent her soul from being lost, Nathaniel, in a rushed decision, bonds a piece of his own soul with that of the injured woman's he finds in the wreckage.

Oopsie. Shouldn't have done that. The consequences of his actions are far-reaching.

Fast forward about ten months or so. Chloe McRea was supposed to die in that accident. While she suffered from social anxiety before, since being unwittingly saved by Nathaniel, she's been experiencing nightmares that have made her more or less a prisoner in her own home/bookstore. Her parents, with whom she had a close, loving relationship, have passed, and the store now belongs to her.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tulip Season (A Mitra Basu Mystery) by Bharti Kirchner

Tulip Season:  A Mitra Basu Mystery
From the blurb:

 A missing domestic-violence counselor. A wealthy and callous husband. A dangerous romance. Kareena Sinha, an Indian-American domestic-violence counselor, disappears from her Seattle home. When the police dismiss suspicions that she herself was a victim of spousal abuse, her best friend, Mitra Basu, a young landscape designer, resolves to find her. Mitra's search reveals glimpses of a secret life involving her friend and a Bollywood actor of ill repute. Following the trail, Mitra is lured back to India where she uncovers the actor's ties to the Mumbai underworld and his financial difficulties - leading her into a web of life-threatening intrigue where Mitra can't be sure of Kareena's safety or her own.

My rating:

Mitra Basu, a gardener/freelance writer by trade, is of Indian heritage, making her life in Seattle after leaving her home country. She's best friends with Kareena, a counselor for victims of domestic violence, who's married to Adi, an IT Software company owner. She's also cultivated a friendship with an older woman, to whom she affectionately looks as her stand-in grandmother.

When Kareena suddenly disappears without a word and without a hint as to where she might have gone, Mitra dives head first into the mystery and tries everything she can to find her friend. During that journey, she realizes that for all the familial ground she shares with her friend, there are fundamental differences between them, which clearly set them apart. And perhaps also that some things are not what they seemed.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Thin, Dark Line by Emma Elliott

A Thin, Dark Line

From the blurb:

When Cormac O'Malley--Dogwood, Ohio's former bad boy and a man just released from prison--returns and shows up on her doorstep, librarian Eloise Carmichael hires him as a handyman despite warnings and misgivings. After a body is found at the library, Eloise becomes obsessed with the mysteries surrounding a murder that took place fifteen years ago. But as the body count rises and family secrets are brought to light, Eloise and Cormac realize the only hope for redemption--and love--lies in each other.

My rating:

4.5 flowers, more accurately.

Well, well, well - I don't know what I expected but I surely didn't expect to be so blown away. Let the gushing commence.

While A Thin, Dark Line is not using a brand-new story line, Emma Elliott delivers a mighty fine romance/suspense/whodunit with her debut novel.

Eloise Carmicheal or Aunt Weez, as her two adorable godsons call her, is the family's black sheep and the librarian in the small town where she grew up and still lives. Approaching her 30th birthday, she muses to her best friend Jane (the mother of the two godsons and Eloise's best friend) about feeling stuck in a rut, without a boyfriend in sight, and yearning for having a husband and children herself.

She knows she has awesome friends, among them Jane and her husband who are struggling with the upcoming arrival of a new baby and some marital issues, and her cousin Patrick and his partner, Sal (who's also the son of the Italian Restaurant owners who regard Eloise as family).

Her mother, a most snotty, awful woman, doesn't agree with Eloise's choices in life and uses every possible opportunity to intrude on her daughter's life and make her displeasure known. Her father isn't much better, usually deep into his cups to be much of a buffer. Her three sisters are also all doctors, and Eloise's being 'just' a librarian is generally frowned upon by her entire family. Lovely people, all of them. Not.

Eloise deals with it as best as she can, usually giving back as good as she gets. The author gave her heroine some great backbone, and I smiled a lot when Eloise stands up for herself.

Enter Cormac O'Malley, the town's fallen son, a convicted murderer who upon his release from prison returns to his hometown. Eloise hires him as a handyman, against the advice of everyone around her, and this is where things really take off.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Shadow Rising (Dark Dynasties #3) by Kendra Leigh Castle

Shadow Rising (Dark Dynasties, #3)

My rating:

From the blurb:

As one of the Grigori, a noble vampire dynasty shrouded in mystery, Ariane has spent her life hidden away in the desert. Like all of her kind, she is a watcher, fated to observe, forbidden to act. Yet when her best friend, Sammael, vanishes, she defies all rules and flees her safe haven to bring him home. A shape-shifting assassin for the House of Shadows, Damien Tremaine is hired to locate Sammael. His hunt for the wayward Grigori leads him to Ariane, the rogue vamp who stands between him and his bounty. Damien never lets emotion interfere with his work, but a single touch from the sexy, beguiling vampire shatters his self-control. Drawn together by their common goal, what begins as an alliance of necessity soon becomes one of desire. But when the secret at the dark heart of the Grigori comes to light, Damien and Ariane must make a choice that could bind them eternally...or tear them—and everything they care about—apart.

I was warned that reading book 3 of this series wasn't a good idea without having read the first two. Of course, when I requested this galley, I wasn't even aware that this was the third in a series.

In the end, it didn't matter one bit. Shadow Rising (aptly named) primarily tells the story of one naughty, disillusioned, cynical cat shifter and one sheltered, beautiful vampire.

And what a story it is. Thankfully, the author provides a list of the dynasties in the beginning, explaining what each does and what its purpose is, which helped tremendously in understanding the world in which this book takes place.

There's very little world-building, as one would expect in a third book of a series, so the focus remains with the actual romance between our H/h. Boy, can Kendra Leigh Castle weave a fascinating tale. I was enthralled from the first chapter and could barely force myself to put this book down.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Celebrating "Comeback Love" by Peter Golden - Blogtour and Giveaway

Peter Golden has stopped by with his debut novel 

Comeback Love. 

A novel about a man and his romantic quest to find the woman he loved and lost years before.

Like Nicholas Sparks and Robert James Waller, first-time novelist Peter Golden knows how to write the kind of nostalgic fiction that men and women alike fall for. In Comeback Love, a universal story about lost love, he offers an evocative debut that begins in the tumultuous 1960s and ends in the feverish thrill of present-day New York City.

Over thirty-five years ago, Gordon Meyers, an aspiring writer with a low number in the draft lottery, packed his belongings and reluctantly drove away, leaving Glenna Rising, the sexy, sharp-witted med student he couldn’t imagine living without. Now, decades later, Gordon is a former globetrotting consultant with a grown son, an exwife, and an overwhelming desire to see Glenna again.

Stunned when Gordon walks into her Manhattan office, Glenna agrees to accompany him for a drink. As the two head out into the snow-swept city, they become caught up in the passions that drew them together before tearing them apart. And as the evening unfolds, Gordon finally reveals the true reason for his return. Comeback Love is a bracing journey into the hearts of two lovers who came of age in the 1960s. Plumbing the depths of youth, regret, and desire, Peter Golden deftly illuminates the bonds that mysteriously endure in the face of momentous change.

Welcome, Peter! Thanks for joining us today!   

MyFictionNook: Peter, what inspired you to write Comeback Love?

Peter: I was looking for a new artistic challenge—one that would combine my interest in history with my passion for fiction. Writing love stories engages me at the deepest emotional level, alters my dreams. It teaches me things about myself I never knew. Sometimes I like what I learn, other times I do not, but I can’t say I’ve ever regretted a moment of the journey.

MFN: While writing, did/do you draw on your own life experiences? If so, how did that translate in Comeback Love?

Peter: I start with real life and work from there. For example, I have a wife and son, and there are similarities between them and the characters, but in the end there is more of me in all the characters than anyone else. I believe novels are dreams translated into words, and dreams always belong to the dreamer.

MFN: Did your work as a journalist, biographer and historian help when writing Comeback love? If so, in what way?

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