Wednesday, June 22, 2011

REVIEW: "Any Man of Mine" by Rachel Gibson


What happens in Vegas . . . doesn't always stay there.

Autumn Haven's Las Vegas "to-do" list said to catch a show and play the slots—not wake up married to a sexy jerk like Sam LeClaire. The first moment she saw him eyeing her like a luscious piece of the dessert buffet, her usually responsible self told her to run. And she did—right into the wildest fantasy weekend of her life. But Monday morning jolted her back to reality, and before she could say "pass the coffee," Sam was gone.

Now a successful wedding planner, Autumn hasn't clapped eyes on the heartbreaking hockey superstar for over two years . . . until she organizes his teammate's "Special Day," where Sam makes a big play to pick up where he left off! But she has vowed any man of hers plays for keeps. Is Sam the man for her or does she banish him to the sin bin forever?

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Setting: Present-day Seattle, Washington
Hero: Sam LeClaire
Heroine: Autumn Haven
Sensuality Rating: Hot
Overall Ranking: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Rachel Gibson is one of the few contemporary romance authors that I read.  This is not a genre that usually appeals to me so she is in an exclusive group.  I especially enjoy her Chinooks hockey series due to my love affair with athletes and romance.  "Any Man of Mine" is not my favorite of the series, by far.  But, I felt it was an enjoyable read that kept me hooked from beginning to end.

I am a fan of reunited couples in romance.  There is just something about the whole reunion scene and learning to look at someone differently that gets me everytime.  So the overall theme of this book was definitely appealing.

Sam LeClaire is a hockey player whose team just won the Stanley Cup.  At first he appears to be the stereotypical athlete: sexy, dangerous, womanizing, party boy.  And...we learn that Sam is also the father of a five year old boy.  He and the boy's mother hastely married in Las Vegas after a weekend of partying, but Sam split after realizing what happened.  When he was told that he left his ex-wife pregnant, he took responsibility and provided hefty child support.  He also sees his son, Connor, on rare occasions.

Autumn Haven is Connor's mother.  She took a solo trip to Las Vegas to clear her head after her mother's death and ended up married and pregnant by the end.  Since then she has essentially been raising Connor on her own.  Autumn opens an event planning business that specializes in weddings shortly after Connor was born. 

These two have not physically seen each other in over two years.  Then they meet up again at Faith Duffy and Ty Savage's wedding (See: Gibson's True Love and Other Disasters) which Autumn helped organize.  This meeting starts up a series of events where Sam is confronted with his lack of paternal skills and eventually leads to Autumn and Sam spending more time with each other.  As they learn to cooperate with each other when it comes to Connor, these two also start to realize the spark from Las Vegas is still between them.

Overall, I enjoyed this story.  Sam was a sexy bad boy hero who showed definite vulnerability when confronted with his past and his lack of parenting to Connor.  Autumn was the definition of a protective Momma Bear who was willing to do anything for her son and had to learn to accept Sam's changing approach to fatherhood.  Connor was cute and sweet without being a standard five year old.  He acted the way most children his age act, tantrums and all. 

While I enjoyed the characters and the general plot, I was left feeling a little letdown by the end.  The beginning and middle were so charming, but the conclusion seemed rushed.  Sam and Autumn had real issues to deal with, but it felt like they were quickly solved.  I liked them together so I would have enjoyed seeing the inner workings of their relationship more toward the end. 

Favorite Quote: "You are the pinch in my heart. The catch in my breath. The reason my stomach tumbles and why I lie awake at night just to look at you. And every time I look at you, I know that I want to look at you forever."--Autumn

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

REVIEW: "Kiss of Snow" by Nalini Singh


Since the moment of her defection from the PsyNet and into the SnowDancer wolf pack, Sienna Lauren has had one weakness. Hawke. Alpha and dangerous, he compels her to madness.

Hawke is used to walking alone, having lost the woman who would've been his mate long ago. But Sienna fascinates the primal heart of him, even as he tells himself she is far too young to handle the wild fury of the wolf.

Then Sienna changes the rules and suddenly, there is no more distance, only the most intimate of battles between two people who were never meant to meet. Yet as they strip away each other's secrets in a storm of raw emotion, they must also ready themselves for a far more vicious fight…

A deadly enemy is out to destroy SnowDancer, striking at everything they hold dear, but it is Sienna's darkest secret that may yet savage the pack that is her home…and the alpha who is its heartbeat…


Genre: Paranormal Romance
Setting: San Francisco, California-Alternate Universe-Futuristic
Hero: Hawke
Heroine: Sienna Lauren
Sensuality Rating: Hot
Overall Ranking: 5 out of 5 Stars

"Kiss of Snow" is the tenth book in Nalini Singh's popular Psy-Changeling series.  It is also the most highly sought after of the series.  Singh's fans met Hawke in the first book "Slave to Sensation" and many of them have been clamoring for his story ever since.  Sometimes it can be difficult when a book is anticipated as much as "Kiss of Snow."  As a reader, I often wonder if the book will live up to my admittedly high expectations.  Thankfully, Nalini Singh did not disappoint me with Hawke and Sienna's story.  It is probably my second favorite of the entire series after "Caressed by Ice."
I am not going to spend much of this review explaining the background of the previous Psy-Changeling books.  I will say that this series, more than many other paranormal romances, is one that requires reading order.  I could not imagine jumping straight into this world without the background...confusion galore!  For this book, Singh continues to explore the intricate society of the SnowDancer wolf changeling pack from "Play of Passion."  While I enjoy learning about how the Psy and human parts of this world interact, I will admit that the changeling novels are among my absolute favorites. 

Sienna caught my interest from her first appearance in the series and I loved getting to know more about the X-Psy power.  I adore fragile-looking women who have serious power like Sienna in paranormals.  The dichotomy involved in such a character is extremely intriguing to me.  I also liked how Singh showed how Sienna had grown as a person and a soldier within the SnowDancer pack.  The Lauren family has definitely
acclimated to the pack and I loved seeing it in so many different lights.  I will admit that I was a little hesitant when thinking about the age difference between Hawke and Sienna, but I got over it quickly especially with how Singh showcased how mature Sienna was due to her childhood/teenage years.

Now, to Hawke...is there anything that hasn't already been said about him?  He is sexy and badass for starters.  When he decided to go for it with Sienna, there was no stopping him!  I loved the protective nature that emerged when he was dealing with his pack and especially Sienna.  The fact that he could not save Rissa when he was young made a definite impact on his personality and I liked seeing how Sienna healed that part of his heart.  I also liked seeing the way he ruled over SnowDancer and how he used his lieutenants to help him keep the peace.  Definitely one of my favorite Singh heroes!!

The relationship between Sienna and Hawke was everything I could have wanted!  There were equal parts sexy and sweet.  I really enjoyed the fact that they were constantly interrupted from going all the way.  The sexual tension that brought about was amazing!  The reader could also see that these two understood each other on a deep level beyond the bedroom.  They knew how the other ticked and how they could work together.  To me, that is the epitome of a great romantic relationship!

The secondary relationships in this book were amazing as well.  We have two already mated couples: Lucas and Sascha from "Slave to Sensation" and Brenna and Judd from "Caressed by Ice."  I enjoyed getting to see these couples and where they were in their relationship.  Lucas and Sascha's baby is finally born and the scenes surrounding that just melted my heart.  Since "Caressed by Ice" is my favorite of the whole series, I was overjoyed with the scenes between Brenna and Judd.  The way that Judd has grown from our first impression of him is so sweet. 

Besides the existing couples, Singh also gives us a real secondary romance to Sienna/Hawke.  SnowDancer healer Lara and Sienna's uncle Walker almost stole the show from the main couple at certain times in the book.  The idea of Walker being broken before Lara was so poignant especially the paperweight scene:
"He couldn’t say the words, had spent too long in Silence, but he’d learned other ways to speak. Taking the paperweight she’d knocked off her desk out of his pocket, he put it in her hands. “It’s fixed. As long as you don’t mind more than a few scars."  So sweet!!  Just makes me want to hug Walker! 

And if all relationships weren't enough, we also have the escalating violence between Pure-Psy and the changelings.  The suspense involved in these scenes had me on the edge of my seat and brought a sense of urgency to the book.  The final battle was chaotic, but well-written enough to make sense after a few re-reads.  Sometimes the explanation of  Sienna's X designation was a little complicated, but I believe I got the basics down. 

All in all, I loved everything about this book.  The series has a taken a drastic turn and I can't wait to find out more about the Psy-Changeling world.  I am especially interested in seeing what side Kaleb is actually on in all this and who the Ghost really is.  I have my suspicions, but not enough evidence to share them at the moment.  That being said, this was a great addition to the series and makes me eager for more! 

Favorite Quote: "You’re in my every breath and every thought, intertwined so deep inside me that love’s not a strong enough word—you have my devotion, your name branded on my soul, my wolf yours to command. A hundred years? It’ll never be enough. I want eternity.” -Hawke to Sienna"

Thursday, June 9, 2011

WISHLIST: June 2011 Releases

Here is a detailed list of the books that have been or are being released in June which have peaked my fancy. 

Title: "The Soldier"
Author: Grace Burrowes
Genre: Historical Romance-Regency England
Series: The Duke's Obsession (#2)
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Description: This Regency era battle of wits, wills, and the sexes features a wily duke determined to see the succession of his line secured. The duke can't force his sons to marry, but he can make their lives miserable until they do. Resisting his pressure, each gentleman holds out for true love.
The second book in the series features Devlin St. Just, the duke's oldest, but illegitimate, son. He arrives at his new estate weary in body and spirit only to find the previous owner's bastard daughter and her beautiful cousin are his responsibility and making his life almost unbearably complicated.
Why I'm Interested: While the first book in this series (The Heir) is still waiting on my Kindle, I have heard great things about it.  I've been told that Burrowes heroes are well-developed and unique characters so that's enough to capture my attention.


Title: Demons Prefer Blondes
Author: Sidney Ayers
Genre: Paranormal Romance-Demons
Series: Demons Unleashed (#1)
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Description: When beautiful half-succubus Lucy Gregory's antique chest unleashes a Pandora's box of demonic activity in a suburban beauty salon, brooding demon Rafe arrives to run damage control. He's darkly sexy and everything she's avoided-icy and reserved-but that only adds to his mysterious appeal. Being a demon, he knows he should be able to resist Lucy's charms, but his resistance is slipping at the worst moment. And Lucy has no idea of the power she possesses...
Why I'm Interested: I'm always eager to read new voices especially in paranormal romance.  I'm intrigued by the worldbuilding that is hinted in the description.  I like heroes that appear cold and reserved since their fall into love always seems the most satisfying.  Plus the fact that Lucy is a succubus brings back great memories of Richelle Mead's Georgina Kincaid.


Title: When Tony Met Adam
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Genre: M/M Romance-Contemporary-Military
Series: Troubleshooters (between "All Through the Night" and "Into the Fire")
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Description: An original Troubleshooters short story, celebrating the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.
Tony Vlachic, a ruggedly handsome Navy SEAL, has kept his sexuality a secret for years under the threat of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." That is, until he meets Adam Wyndham, a charismatic yet troubled film star. Tony knows that he's risking his military career to approach Adam in front of his teammates. But Adam, nursing a broken heart, has no interest in a relationship. Still, neither man can deny their instant attraction.
Tony didn't become a SEAL by accepting rejection, and his pursuit of Adam leads to one unforgettable night. But the next morning, Tony is ordered to ship out to Afghanistan, and he's forced to leave Adam with too much unsaid. As Tony enters a dangerous war zone, Adam is back in Los Angeles struggling with the demons of his past, while dealing with the very real possibility that Tony could be killed in action. A half a world apart, both men must face their feelings for each other -- and decide if what they've found is worth the ultimate risk, in the name of love.
Why I'm Interested: While reading Brockmann's wonderful Troubleshooters series, I often found myself more intrigued by secondary relationships.  This proved especially true when dealing with Robin and Jules's story.  I loved everything about their romance so, therefore, became intrigued by Adam Wyndham.  I wanted to know more about this man who was such a big part of both Robin and Jules life.  So, I am ecstatic to read about Adam finally getting his happily ever after.


Title: Sisterhood Everlasting
Author: Ann Brashares
Genre: Young Adult-Romance-Friendship
Series: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (#5)
Release Date: Juen 14, 2011
Description: From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Brashares comes the welcome return of the characters whose friendship became a touchstone for a generation. Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting.
Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.
Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.
As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one.

Why I'm Interested: When I was a teenager, I became a huge fan of Brashares's Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.  I loved everything about the books especially the way they accurately depicted teenage friendship.  I enjoyed reading about these characters so I am excited to find out more about their lives after high school/college.


Title: Shameless
Author: Anne Stuart
Genre: Historical Romance-Georgian
Series: The House of Rohan (#4)
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Description: New York Times bestselling author Anne Stuart's delicious historical romance series about the decadent Rohan family continues with Shameless, the story of Benedick, Miranda Rohan's older brother, and the charitably-inclined Melisande Carstairs, whose charity doesn't extend to an annoying member of a dissolute family of rogues.
Why I'm Interested: I loved the first book in this series (Ruthless) and can't wait to read more about the Rohan family.  No one writes dark, alpha heroes like Anne Stuart!


Title: Silk is for Seduction
Author: Loretta Chase
Genre: Historical Romance-Victorian England/France
Series: Dressmaker Sisters (#1)
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Description: Brilliant and ambitious dressmaker Marcelline Noirot is London's rising star. And who better to benefit from her talent than the worst-dressed lady in the ton, the Duke of Clevedon's intended bride? Winning the future duchess's patronage means prestige and fortune for Marcelline and her sisters. To get to the lady, though, Marcelline must win over Clevedon, whose standards are as high as his morals are . . . not.
The prize seems well worth the risk—but this time Marcelline's met her match. Clevedon can design a seduction as irresistible as her dresses; and what begins as a flicker of desire between two of the most passionately stubborn charmers in London soon ignites into a delicious inferno . . .and a blazing scandal.
And now both their futures hang by anexquisite thread of silk . . .
Why I'm Interested: Loretta Chase is one of my auto-buy on release date authors.  I have read all of her books and love almost all of them.  In my opinion, she is incomparable when it comes to historical romance!


Title: Black Ties and Lullabies
Author: Jane Graves
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Stand-alone
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Description:  A good girl can be bad for one night...
Bernadette Hogan doesn't make mistakes. Not when it comes to caring for her mother, and not at her job protecting Texas's most eligible—and infuriating—bachelor. Maybe that's why she's overcome with guilt after one tiny indiscretion: a passionate fling with her boss that's left her confused, intrigued...and pregnant.
But can a bad boy be good for a lifetime?
To self-made millionaire Jeremy Bridges, women are like fine wine: if held for too long, they sour. But one wild night with Bernadette changed all that. She makes him laugh, she makes him think, and soon she's going to make him a father. For the first time, Jeremy wants to be a one-woman man. So how can he convince the fiercely independent Bernadette he's ready to change from partying playboy to dependable dad—and become the loving husband she deserves?
Why I'm Interested: I've heard about Ms. Graves funny contemporaries from many friends.  The premise sounds intriguing to me so I decided I may use this as a trial.  Plus I love the title!


Title: A Lady's Lesson in Scandal
Author: Meredith Duran
Genre: Historical Romance-Victorian England
Series: Stand-alone
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Description: IN GRITTY, WORKING-CLASS LONDON, SHE DOES WHAT SHE MUST TO SURVIVE . . . When Nell Whitby breaks into an earl’s house on a midnight quest for revenge, she finds her pistol pointed at the wrong man—one handsome as sin and naked as the day he was born. Pity he’s a lunatic. He thinks her a missing heiress, but more to the point, he’ll help her escape the slums and right a grave injustice. Not a bad bargain. All she has to do is marry him.
A NOTORIOUS LADIES’ MAN COULD TAKE HER FROM POVERTY TO OPULENCE . . . BUT AT WHAT PRICE? A rake of the first order, Simon St. Maur spent his restless youth burning every bridge he crossed. When he inherits an earldom without a single penny attached to it, he sees a chance to start over—provided he can find an heiress to fund his efforts. But his wicked reputation means courtship will be difficult—until fate sends him the most notorious missing heiress in history. All he needs now is to make her into a lady and keep himself from making the only mistake that could ruin everything: falling in love. . .
Why I'm Interested: Meredith Duran is fast becoming one of my favorite historical romance authors.  I enjoy her unique plotlines and the fact that she isn't afraid to push the envelope.  Plus I love cross-class romances!


Title: Waking Up with the Duke
Author: Lorraine Heath
Genre: Historical Romance-Victorian England
Series: London's Greatest Lovers (#3)
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Description: They are masters of seduction, London's greatest lovers . . . Renowned for his bedchamber prowess, Ransom Seymour, the Duke of Ainsley, owes a debt to a friend. But the payment expected is most shocking, even to an unrepentant rake—for he's being asked to provide his friend's exquisite wife with what she most dearly covets: a child.
Living for pleasure, they will give their hearts to no one . . . Lady Jayne Seymour, Marchioness of Walfort, is furious that such a scandalous agreement would be made. If she acquiesces, there must be rules: no kissing . . . and, certainly, no pleasure.
Until love takes them by surprise.
But unexpected things occur with the surprisingly tender duke—especially once Lady Jayne discovers the rogue can make her dream again . . . and Ransom realizes he's found the one woman he truly cannot live without.
Why I'm Interested: I have read most of Lorraine Heath's backlist and have found many gems.  I have also read the previous books in this series and am eager to find out more about Ransom, the younger brother. 


Title: Deeper Than Midnight
Author: Lara Adrian
Genre: Paranormal Romance-Vampires
Series: Midnight Breed (#9)
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Description: At eighteen, Corinne Bishop was a beautiful, spirited young woman living a life of privilege as the adopted daughter of a wealthy family. Her world changed in an instant when she was stolen away and held prisoner by the malevolent vampire Dragos. After many years of captivity and torment, Corinne is rescued by the Order, a cadre of vampire warriors embroiled in a war against Dragos and his followers. Her innocence taken, Corinne has lost a piece of her heart as well--the one thing that gave her hope during her imprisonment, and the only thing that matters to her now that she is free.
Assigned to safeguard Corinne on her trip home is a formidable golden-eyed Breed male called Hunter. Once Dragos's most deadly assassin, Hunter now works for the Order, and he's hell-bent on making Dragos pay for his manifold sins. Bonded to Corinne by their mutual desire, Hunter will have to decide how far he'll go to end Drago's reign of evil--even if carrying out his mission means shattering Corinne's tender heart.
Why I'm Interested: Lara Adrian's yummy Breed vampires are a paranormal favorite of mine.  Hunter is one of the most fascinating of the vampires in this series due to the fact that he was created as a mindless assassin by the main villain of the Breed.  I love when characters switch sides in paranormal romance and I am interested to see the inner workings of such a hero as Hunter.  Plus Corinne's past makes her an intriguing contrast to Hunter's brooding. 


Title: The Angel in My Arms
Author: Stefanie Sloane
Genre: Historical Romance-Regency England
Series: Regency Rogues (#2)
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Description: To Young Corinthian agent Marcus MacInnes, the Earl of Weston, his latest mission involving a smuggling ring with ties to Napoleon seems ridiculous at first, but becomes all too threatening as pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place. And the most troubling piece of all? Miss Sarah Tisdale, an unconventional beauty whose lust for life is rivaled only by her ability to drive Marcus to distraction. When her family comes under suspicion, Marcus must watch her very closely—even if her touch ignites the fiery desire burning beneath his cool fa├žade.
When it comes to suitors, Sarah’s lush curves and kissable lips aren’t enough to compensate for her willful nature. She’s tasted disappointment before, but flirting with the sinfully handsome Marcus is a pastime worth savoring—even when it leads to wicked pleasures. When Sarah’s life is in jeopardy, Marcus discovers that the passion between them can no longer be denied—and he’ll do anything to keep her in his arms.
Why I'm Interested: While I have not read Stefanie Sloane's debut "Devil in Disguise", this series was recommended by Julia Quinn, one of my favorite authors.  Though spies are not my favorite plot point, I am interested based on Quinn's recommendation.


Title: How to Seduce a Scoundrel
Author: Vicky Dreiling
Genre: Historical Romance-Regency England
Series: Dreiling (#2)
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Description: When Lady Julianne Gatewick realizes the rake of her dreams thinks of her as practically his sister, she decides it's time to get even. The charming Marc Darcett, Earl of Hawkfield, is every lady's fantasy, but he's determined to evade virgins and their matrimonial traps - especially his best friend's sister.
Hawk reluctantly agrees to be Julianne's guardian for the season, but he's having trouble resisting his gorgeous ward. Worse still, she's taunting him by flirting with every scoundrel in London - and he's sworn to protect her! Certain she's learned her tricks from the authoress of that scandalous publication "The Secrets of Seduction", Hawk sets out to uncover the writer's identity. But he never expects to find the formerly angelic Julianne behind the mask - and between his sheets.
Why I'm Interested: I enjoyed Dreiling's debut "How to Marry a Duke."  I liked her writing style so I am willing to try another in this series.  Also, I love friends to lovers and unrequited love storylines.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

REVIEW: "Just Like Heaven" by Julia Quinn


Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn
(Smythe-Smith Quartet #1)
For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Regency England

Avon -- Published in May 2011
Mass Market Paperback, 374 pages
Read in June 2011
Purchased from Borders

THEMES
Childhood Friends, Families

SUMMARY
HONORIA SMYTHE-SMITH IS:
A) a really bad violinist
B) still miffed at being nicknamed "Bug" as a child
C) NOT in love with her older brother's best friend
D) All of the above


MARCUS HOLROYD IS:
A) the Earl of Chatteris
B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles
C) NOT in love with his best friend's younger sister
D) All of the above


TOGETHER THEY:
A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake
B) survive a deadly fever AND world's worst musical performance
C) fall quite desperately in love.

FIRST LINE
"Marcus Holroyd was always alone."

MY THOUGHTS
I will begin this review by explaining that Julia Quinn's The Duke and I was one of my first romance novels. I glommed Ms. Quinn's entire backlist within four months and wait for each new release with bated breath. There have definitely been books of hers that I have not liked as much as others, but, overall, I am usually pleased by her writing.

Like all other Julia Quinn fans, I am familiar with the intriguing Smythe-Smith family. For those of you who are new to Quinn's world, every season the Smythe-Smith family puts on a musicale with four girls. Unfortunately, the Smythe-Smiths are almost all tone-deaf yet proceed to torture the ton with their lack of talent. Throughout the books, the dreaded Smythe-Smith musicales are key events for many characters despite their usual less-than-enthusiastic mood towards them. I have always been interested in this family especially after reading about the musicale in Romancing Mr. Bridgerton where Penelope Featherington mentions the Smythe-Smith girl on the cello who actually seems to understand how awful the music is.

Just Like Heaven is the first of a quartet where Quinn explores the inner workings of the Smythe-Smith family and their infamous musicales. In this book, we meet Lady Honoria Smythe-Smith who plays violin in the musicale and Marcus Holroyd, Earl of Chatteris. Marcus is the best friend of Honoria's older brother Daniel who is living in exile in Italy for reasons that are explained in the first few chapters. Daniel and Marcus have been friends for years and Marcus has become a type of surrogate son for the Smythe-Smiths. Before Daniel left, he made Marcus promise to watch over Honoria and make sure she does not marry anybody unsuitable. Therefore, Marcus, despite his lack of interest in society, goes to London every year to keep an eye on Honoria.

What follows is a beautiful yet subtle tale of friends becoming lovers. Honoria and Marcus have known each other since childhood and are aware of quirks and personality traits. Honoria is an intelligent and kind young lady who values her family and their traditions. This viewpoint helps explain her willingness to go along with the family musicale despite her lack of talent. She knows she is bad, but is determined to have fun while performing for her family and friends. She also dreams of having a family of her own. As the youngest in her family, Honoria has always had a sense of loneliness especially after her brother's exile. Marcus's mother died when he was young and his father had little interest in his son beyond preping an heir. He had no siblings or even friends until he met Daniel Smythe-Smith at school. Because of Daniel, Marcus found the family he never had. Like Honoria, Marcus is a lonely person who desires a family of his own.

Through a variety of comedic and dramatic events, Honoria and Marcus become close friends and begin to realize their feelings for each other. I was particularly drawn to a scene where Marcus had fallen ill and Honoria strived to nurse him back to health. The intimacy of this event caused them to look at each other in a way beyond friends. 

In terms of secondary characters, we are introduced to the other members of the Smythe-Smith Quartet: Sarah, Iris, and Daisy. Each of these girls has a unique personality as well as unique viewpoint on the musicale. I am definitely intrigued by Iris, the cellist who is actually talented, as well as the other girls. The whole Smythe-Smith family and their interactions with each other are fascinating and heartwarming. I cannot wait to read more about these girls and their happily ever afters.

Just Like Heaven is the story of two people who fall in love after years of interaction. While it may sound simple and it is, I feel like Julia Quinn made it subtle yet powerful at the same time. Another winner!!

4.5 STARS

STEAM LEVEL
Flush -- Detailed descriptions of lovemaking though nothing overly graphic.


FAVORITE QUOTE
"He hated being the center of attention, but by God, he wanted to be the center of her attention."
BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Just Like Heaven
2. A Night Like This
3. The Sum of All Kisses
4. The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Introduction to my Reading Tastes

MY READING TASTES (inspired by All About Romance reviewer profiles)

Personal Reading Tastes
Sucker for: happy endings, tortured heroes, unrequited love, friends to lovers, mail-order brides, non-ton couples in historical, sports themed, less than perfect heroes or heroines, beta heroes, virgin heroes, historical accuracy, worldbuilding, Greek mythology, bluestockings, pirates, highlanders
Don’t care for: emotional manipulation, mistress/courtesan plots, spies, slapstick comedy, super-alpha heroes, annoying side characters, Duke of Slut heroes
Drives me crazy: adultery, TSTL heroines, rape fantasies, secret baby plots

Books (by Genre)
All-time: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban—JK Rowling
Classic: Pride and Prejudice—Jane Austen, Heart of  Darkness--Joseph Conrad
Romance: The Viscount Who Loved Me—Julia Quinn
Contemporary Romance: Match Me If You Can—Susan Elizabeth Phillips
American Historical/Western Romance: Always to Remember—Lorraine Heath
Medieval Romance: Highland Warrior—Hannah Howell, Enchanted—Elizabeth Lowell
European Historical Romance: Lord of Scoundrels—Loretta Chase, Slightly Dangerous—Mary Balogh,  The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie—Jennifer Ashley
Paranormal/Urban Fantasy: Seize the Night—Sherrilyn Kenyon, One Foot in the Grave—Jeaniene Frost
Science Fiction/Fantasy: Lord of the Rings—JRR Tolkien
Historical Fiction: The Other Boleyn Girl—Philippa Gregory
Women’s Fiction: In Her Shoes—Jennifer Weiner
Young Adult:  Hunger Games—Suzanne Collins, Just Listen--Sarah Dessen
Manga: Fruits Basket—Takaya Natsuki
Series: Harry Potter—JK Rowling, Night Huntress--Jeaniene Frost     

Books (by Plot/Mood)
Suspense: Force of Nature—Suzanne Brockmann
Comedy: Bet Me—Jennifer Crusie
Sexy: The Raven Prince—Elizabeth Hoyt
Comfort Read: The Viscount Who Loved Me—Julia Quinn, Summer to Remember--Mary Balogh
Tearjerker: Simply Love—Mary Balogh
Disappointing: Twilight—Stephanie Meyer

Authors
All-time: JK Rowling
Classic: Jane Austen
Romance: Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Hoyt, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Mary Balogh
Paranormal/Urban Fantasy: Jeaniene Frost, JR Ward, Nalini Singh, Kresley Cole, Sherrilyn Kenyon
Science Fiction/Fantasy: Robin Hobb
Historical Fiction: Philippa Gregory
Women’s Fiction: Meg Cabot
Young Adult: Sarah Dessen
Buried Treasure: Nicole Luiken
Biggest Glom: Lisa Kleypas
Characters
All-time: Severus Snape—Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Hero: Sebastian—Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
Heroine: Penelope—Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
Tortured Hero: Malkom—Demon From the Dark by Kresley Cole
Strongest Heroine: Eve—In Death series by JD Robb
Couple: Cat and Bones—Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost
Secondary Couple: Robin and Jules—Troubleshooters series by Suzanne Brockmann
Villain: Lord Voldemort—Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, Light—Death Note series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Most Annoying: Daisy—The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald