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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

July 2005 Books

These are the books I read in July:
  1. **** Lord Dancy's Delight by Emily Hendrickson. Kind of unfortunate that this was packaged as a 2-in-1 with the Redhead & the Rake, because the heroine in that one was surnamed Dancy, but she's absolutely no relation to the Lord Dancy in this one. Heroine raised by Chinese woman/companion is rescued by Lord Dancy 3 times, so she informs him she's now "his". And sees it as her duty to watch over him. She keeps rescuing him, which irritates the heck out of him, and is very much fun to read. The only problem is, I liked the hero's best friend much better than the hero, who was really a jerk to the heroine. Still gets 4 stars for being fun.
  2. ***½ Hot Spot by Susan Johnson.
  3. This trade-paperback-sized story wouldn't make a half-bad novella if you cut out all the frantic, self-consciously-written sex scenes. I know SJ is known for her sex scenes, but what I don't know is WHY. They're... dull. There's one in here--insert tab A into slot B, a couple of strokes to nearly-simultaneous climax, tab A's still functional, so repeat x3. Four times in all, in about the space of... oh, 20 minutes or so. No, no, no, this isn't hot. It's repetitious. And unrealistic, and not in a yummmy fantasy way. But the story itself, as I said, was actually pretty good. Heroine's a comic book store owner, hero designs computer games & is richer than... she calls him a kazillionnaire, which seems pretty appropriate. But somebody's broken into his office, trying to steal the details of his new game, & she looks like a suspect, and he doesn't talk about any details of his game desigining, so she thinks he's just saying he's a game designer when he's really a drug dealer. So they each suspect each other, while in the meantime they can't keep their hands (& other body parts) off each other. And there's a nice secondary romance between a confirmed bachelor & a divorced mom who's sworn off marriage.
  4. ***** Remember When by Nora Roberts & J. D. Robb.
  5. *** The Captain's Castaway by Christine Scheel. Uneven Regency about a young American woman who's cast adrift when the ship she & her father are taking to England begins to sink. She's rescued, the ship's captain thinks she might be a spy, she thinks her father's dead, then she gets a cryptic message from him, then the captain helps her find her father. And they fall in lurrve. Whoops. Almost forgot that part.
  6. ****½ Close-Up by Virginia Kantra. FBI director's daughter kidnapped by a survival cult, escapes, meets up with suspended cop who's trying to rescue his sister from the cult. Lots of emotional depth.
  7. ***** My Hero by Marianna Jameson. Crusie-esque, though I know Crusie doesn't like romances about romance authors. Southern romance author who's known for her beta heroes, whose career is stalled is told by her new editor to change her latest book: set it in the north, make the hero an alpha cop, and add more sex. She meets a cop from a wealthy family when she takes out his team in paintball. Lots of laughs, especially at the contrasts between their internal dialogue and what they actually say, and there's also a lot of emotional depth in between and underneath the laughs. Loved this one.
  8. *** Three Bedrooms, One Corpse by Charlaine Harris. Mystery about someone who's killing women in for-sale houses. Intriguing mystery, and there was a romance, but the romance was pretty inexplicable--the 30-year-old heroine sees a guy with white hair and immediately has the hots for him. Felt like the first-person narrator was on valium or something, or that she was bored by the story.
  9. ** Silver Feather by Cassie Edwards. Okay, she didn't have any of those "problems" in this one that get solved by a paragraph of explanation, but there really wasn't a coherent plot either. The actual romance could have been a short story, not even a novella--Indian boy & white girl are friends as children, vow eternal love at 14 & 10, then his parents are killed by her stepfather and he runs off. Eleven years later, they're reunited when she's driving a stagecoach disguised as a man. Other plots, like buttons made out of human bones, and an evil white man kidnaps her. The characters are all 2-dimensional stereotypes, and boring as heck. On the plus side, the chapters are short, and the font is big, and I got through this one in record time.
  10. **** The Baby Contract by Lynn Erickson. Yeah, I don't like babies in my romances. But there are always exceptions, & this is one of them. A Harlequin romance from 1996, but you can see their trademark suspense even then. The heroine is pregnant & is abandoned by her boyfriend after he robs a convenience store. She's arrested and given a deal by the county attorney's office, who wants to use her to stop a baby-selling ring. Really nice characterization, especially for a category.
  11. *** Love Underground by Alicia Fields. Hades & Persephone. I'd have liked this better if I hadn't read P. C. Cast's Goddess of Spring first. Pretty much a straight retelling of the myth, more than a romance, though it's billed as a romance. The main characters are only in about half of the book--the rest of the book is about other characters--Demeter, Hermes, Narcissa, etc.
  12. ***** The Beautiful Stranger by Julia London. THIRD in the Rogues of Regent Street series, and I've only read the first one, and don't have the 2nd. Argh. Still, it didn't feel like I missed anything, and Julia London's writing is just so nicely emotional. The hero's blaming himself for his friend's suicide, so decides to clear up the friend's debt due to a bad investment in cattle in Scotland. Not going into details, but hero's evicting the heroine (widow of the friend's partner), so that's between them, plus he's English nobility and she's Scottish peasant, so there's that as well. Must order the second book next time I'm ordering books.
  13. ***** The Girl She Left Behind by Karen Brichoux. Not funny enough for chick lit, not depressing enough or with an old enough heroine for women's fiction. Heroine left her musician husband at a gas station and has been traveling for 3 years until she returns to their hometown. Faces problems from the past and how things have and have not changed in her absence. Karen Brichoux really has a way with writing characters & stories that suck you in.
  14. ****½ A Clean Kill by Leslie Glass. Mystery. NYPD detective April Woo. Must find at least one more in this series to determine if it's the author I like or just this particular story. Two young wealthy women are murdered, both are found by their nannies (er--the nannies of their children?). Nice mystery, & I liked the detective.
  15. ***** The Chase by Cheryl Sawyer. Yeah, I really like this author. Big fat historical romance, this time about a Chasseur (a French soldier who fought for the English rather than be a POW) and a widow whose husband was killed by the French. The writing is just so lush and dense, the emotions intense, and the historical details fit perfectly into the story. I'd had this for a while, but waited to read it until we were on vacation because I wanted big chunks of uninterrupted time to savor it. Just perfect.
  16. ****½ Highway Robberyby John Billheimer. No idea where or why I got this one, but this is another mystery I'm going to have to search for more books by the author. Hero's an engineer. Civil engineer, but still. I have a weakness for engineers. Much about local government corruption. Decades-old murder, and emotional angst in the hero's personal life.
  17. ****½ Lassiter's Law by Rebecca York. Another nanny one. Weird. P.I. hired by a man who accuses the nanny of killing his wife & abducting his child. When the P.I. catches up with her, she says it was the father who killed the wife & she took the child to protect him. Romance, adventure, suspense, etc. Typical Rebecca York.
  18. ***** Public Secrets by Nora Roberts.
  19. ****½ The Good, the Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison. I really like this series, and she seems to be getting better by the book. Some interesting developments in the characters, nobody's all good or all bad, and it's completely up in the air as to what will happen in the next book (which is already in my tbr pile).
  20. **½ The Sound of Us by Sarah Willis. Women's fiction about a woman in her late-40s who gets a wrong-number phone call late at night from a little girl who's home alone, and she steps in & gets involved.
  21. **** Slay It With Flowers by Kate Collins. 2nd in the series. Abby's cousin's wedding is in jeopardy, as is Abby's fee for the flowers, when the best man turns up murdered.
  22. *** Smoke in the Wind by Peter Tremayne. "mystery of ancient ireland." Interesting historical detail, nice mystery, but too much backstory and "as you know..." parts. Also had FOUR characters with names starting with the letter I. Rather confusing.
  23. ***** Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher. Re-read. Fabulous. Of course.
  24. ***** Heart Choice by Robin D. Owens. Tough choices between the h/h in this one. Emotional, & great world-building, as usual.
  25. ***** Divided in Death by J. D. Robb.
  26. ****½ The Book of the Seven Delights< by Betina Krahn. Think The Mummy. Much fun when a librarian goes after the lost library of Alexandria in the company of a man who's being hunted by the French Foreign Legion for desertion.
  27. ****½ Private Scandals by Nora Roberts.
  28. ****½ Much Ado About Magic by Patricia Rice. Heroine is a member of a psychic family--her particular talent shows up in her paintings which show things that have happened or might happen in the future. One painting results in the hero being accused of his cousin's murder, but after the h/h meet, she draws a picture that lead them to believe the cousin is still alive. Quest to find the cousin, romance, psychic abilities, & the family members from previous books in this series.
  29. ***** Academ's Fury by Jim Butcher. Re-read.
  30. ***½ Her Perfect Earl by Bethany Brooks. What could have been a pretty standard Regency about a governess marrying an earl has twists--the heroine takes the job as governess to his 5 children (very Sound of Music-ish) to get her hands on a rare manuscript he has. The earl has this legacy of "perfection" which could have been better explored, and has to marry a "perfect" woman with a fortune to restore his home & pay his debts & provide for his children's future. This would have been a better story if it had had about 100 more pages so some of the plot lines could have been more thoroughly fleshed out.
  31. ***** Origin in Death by J. D. Robb.
  32. **** Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins. Takes up where Slay it With Flowers leaves off, Abby juggling her flower shop, murder, Marco (yum), her quirky employees, & her wacky family. Fun cozy mystery.
  33. **** Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling.
  34. What Dreams May Come:
    ****½ "Knightly Dreams" by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
    Medieval romance novel hero begs local witch to give him a way out of marrying the insipid heroine. Very clever & inventive. It would have been 5 stars except for the dull sex scenes. I got the impression that all 3 authors in this anthology were told to write lots of sex scenes. *sigh*
    ****½ "Shattered Dreams" by Rebecca York. High school sweethearts reunited when hero's psychic abilities put him in the heroine's head when she's in a car crash. Paranormal romantic suspense--she packs a lot of twists into this one, & the sex scenes don't overpower the story.
    **** "Road of Adventure" by Robin D. Owens. Another smart-aleck cat in this take-off of Heaven Can Wait. Not her best, but still a fun read. Suffers from the same directions to add more sex scenes as Kenyon's. Including a slow-then-fast scene which seemed more like shuffling the sex scene cards & picking 2 at random to use back to back than anything the characters would actually do. Not to get too detailed, but it really doesn't work that way.
  35. ****½ Visions in Death by J. D. Robb.

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