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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

June 2005 Books

Here's what I read in June.

  1. *** Dangerous Diversions _by Margaret Evans Porter. Regency about a duke and an opera dancer. More details about the forming of the Regency & about theater at the time than about the actual romance. Interesting, though.
  2. ***** The Time Traveler's Wife _by Audrey Niffenegger. O. M. G. I see what all the fuss is about. Quite a surprise to find an acclaimed book being as good as the buzz, let me tell you. It grabbed me by the throat from the beginning.
  3. ** Toast of the Town_ by Margaret Evans Porter. Regency about an earl & an actress. Like the previous one, more about theaters than the romance. Plus, there was inexplicable back & forth between the two of them, which I really hate. Why do authors do that???
  4. ****½ Tangle of Lies _by Patricia Potter. Romantic suspense. The heroine's mother is missing--turns out she's been arrested for a murder that took place over 30 years ago. And now somebody's after the heroine, and there are secrets on top of secrets. Nice twists, and a concealed identity that didn't irritate me.
  5. **** My Lady DeBurgh _by Deborah Simmons. This is somewhere in the middle of a series of historicals about the hero's brothers. Really cute. He goes looking for someone to protect him from the "curse" that's got all his brothers marrying one after the other... and ends up finding the One, though he still resists, of course. Kind of silly, but a lot of fun.
  6. ***** Portrait in Death_ by J. D. Robb
  7. ***½ Getting Lucky _by Susan Andersen. Fun, but uneven. The descriptions of the heroine made it seem like she was stuck in the 1980s, even though the book's from 2003. Ironed designer jeans with stiletto heels? Maybe this is cutting edge fashion, and maybe most 30-somethings dress like this & do big hair & makeup to hang out around the house. Anyway, that, and the errors in the book really kept me from enjoying it as much as I might have otherwise. Also, it had the hero making a stupid assumption about the heroine & sticking with it despite all evidence to the contrary, which always makes me mad. The story about a fake kidnapping and the revitalization of two of the secondary characters' marriage, and the revenge story were all good. A good editor could make this a 5-star book.
  8. ***** Seeing Red _by Jill Shalvis. Last of her firefighters, IIRC. This is also a reunion story, & you know how much I like those. The heroine left town & her best friend Joe after her father was killed in a warehouse fire. She returns home years later when there's another fire at that same warehouse & finds that Joe's a fire marshal. Both of them are emotionally scarred. Just a really good romantic suspense, with equal parts of both.
  9. ***** The Martian Chronicles_ by Ray Bradbury. I thought I'd read this years ago, but I don't remember it. Anyway, Curran read it for school, so I thought I'd (re?)read it, too. Five stars because it's such a classic.
  10. **** Lady Midnight _by Amanda McCabe. Longer Regency about an almost-courtesan who starts a new life after a shipwreck. Really good job with the emotions, and I hope there'll be a sequel about the hero's younger sister. There's a story there.
  11. ****½ Aspen _by Lynn Erickson. Another oldie from them, but more recent than the previous ones I've read--1995 for this one. This is reminiscent of the more recent On the Edge, with a heroine who's good at heart, but really screwed up. They really delve into the psyche and don't pull any punches. I'd have given it 5 stars, but the ending was a little too pat, and there were some hints of things that didn't go anywhere. Not for everyone--it's really... raw is a good description. Wealthy political family that thinks they can get away with anything, & mostly do.
  12. ****½ Carved in Stone_ by Vickie Taylor. Gargoyles. Interesting paranormal idea, IMO. No soul-mates, thank goodness--they've been done to death--seems everyone wants to emulate Feehan--but they do have an innate compulsion to procreate. ;) This has one of the best/most interesting/unusual sex scenes I've read since the mirror scene in Feehan's Dark Symphony. (note: I'm not talking about unusual positions or practices--I read Emma Holly for that.) Just really interestingly written.
  13. **** Rebecca _by Daphne DuMaurier. Classic I'd never read, so catching up on my education. Gothic, and like all gothics, the hero is really remote and emotionally non-communicative. The whole way through it kept reminding me of what I don't like about May-December romances, as the heroine (whose name we never know) reacts the way I'd think I would have at her age with a man his age--unsure, wanting to please.
  14. **** Black Rose _by Nora Roberts.
  15. The Shadows of Christmas Past: Both stories are about female veterinarians who can talk to animals, and both fit really well in the shorter length--they felt complete and not rushed.
    **** "Rocky Mountain Miracle" by Christine Feehan. Nice story about abused brothers learning to trust with the help of a woman who talks to animals.
    **** "A Touch of Harry" by Susan Sizemore. Another woman who talks to animals, this time paired up with a werewolf on the trail of some missing teen weres. She rescues a drugged wolf & ends up with a naked man in the cage in her clinic, and unknowingly hires him to find himself.
  16. ***** Fire Me Up_ by Katie MacAlister. I know somebody complained that Jim (demon-in-dog-form) stole the scenes, but I absolutely loved this one. LOTS of fun, better than You Slay Me, IMO. Some real emotion between Aisling & Drake here, and REALLY nice sex scenes--and you know how critical I am of romance novel sex scenes. Who'd've thought fire was sexy??
  17. ****½ Sacred _by Dennis Lehane. Definitely hard-boiled & gritty. Nice twists. Even a bit of romance. And the hero respects, admires, & treats his partner like an equal. Gotta love that.
  18. *** The Americans _by John Jakes. End of the series, thank goodness. I'm not a fan. Too many unlikeable characters, and in this one, I think he tried way too hard to fit in every single thing that happened in the time period, having the Kents meet every single important person. Still, it's a nice look at history, so I'll give it 3 stars.
  19. ***** Kiss an Angel_ by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Good thing this wasn't the first book of hers I read--it starts out with an arranged marriage. In a contemporary. I was really dubious, but I trusted she'd make me buy it, and she did. Circus stuff, and just an excellent, excellent job of characterization and conveying emotions.
  20. **** Wild Kat _by Karen Kijewski. A whistleblower hires Kat when the harrassment turns violent. Lots of twists, lots of pain.
  21. ***½ The Lady Lies _by Samantha Saxon. I wanted to like this one more than I did. And maybe if I re-read it, I would like it more. The problem? Too many characters. It's a Regency romantic suspense. I LOVE this sub-sub-genre. Makes me think of The Scarlet Pimpernel. But Regencies have the problem of people having too many names: John Whosit, Earl of Thisplace. He can be referred to as John, as Lord Thisplace, as the Earl, as my lord, and if he's recently come into the title, his old friends may still refer to him as John Whosit or just Whosit, and heaven help us if he has a nickname, or if he goes by a middle name. It's confusing as it is, but when you combine this with an overabundance of characters, it turns an enjoyable story into something you have to study. And in this one, we have spies, so there are code names as well. HELP! Other than that, though, it was really a good spy story. The heroine's a double agent, and the hero's trying to prove she's a French spy while she tries to stay incognito and find the real traitor.
  22. ***** Imitation in Death _by J. D. Robb.
  23. ****½ Sharing the Darkness_ by Marilyn Tracy. I'd bought this Silhouette Dreamscapes a year or more ago at the flea market just to round out the 5/$1 on categories. Thought it sounded okay. This was one of those times when I got a lot more than I expected. Really densely emotional, a telekinetic/psychic hero who's emotionally damaged, and a psychic heroine with her telekinetic/psychic son. I docked it a half star because I wanted to know more about what the bad guys wanted from them, but that's a tiny niggle. I'll be looking for more from this author--I hope there is more.
  24. ***½ The Whispering Rocks_ by Sandra Heath. Gothic Regency. "Director's cut." Pretty standard for gothics: who's the hero & who's the villain? I've always liked gothics, even before I knew they were romances, but this one gets docked a star because I didn't get to see the relationship develop between the h/h. Which was always typical of gothics, but I find I'm less tolerant than I used to be.
  25. **½ The Real Team _by Richard Marcinko. Mini autobiographies of 10 of the SEALs the characters in the Rogue Warrior books are based on, with a bit of "why we love Dick" and promo crap for his executive team-building company. Meh. But I did enjoy the snark and a bit of the inside look at the real people behind the characters.
  26. **** Dangerous Depths _by Kathy Brandt. Third in this new mystery series from NAL. This one's grittier. The love child of The Reef_ and CSI. Good series. I recommend it if you like mystery. There's romance there, but the door's shut on the sex scenes, and, glory be, the heroine wasn't a relationship idiot--I've seen that WAY too many times lately.
  27. ****½ The Snow Garden _by Christopher Rice. I have no idea why I had this. It was new and in trade paperback, & I'd never heard of the author before. Somebody must have recommended it--I'd think it was one of those free books you used to get from 1Bookstreet.com (buy $20 worth of books & you get a free book from a list of about 20 you'd never heard of before & that they obviously weren't able to sell otherwise), but they stopped doing that several years ago, & I don't think I've had this that long. But anyway, thanks whoever recommended this. Really gothic tone, a creepy murder mystery/best friend/secrets. Just sucked me right in.
  28. ***** Homeport _by Nora Roberts.
  29. ***½ The Color of Light _by Karen White. Both NAL and B/J were really pushing this one, and I don't know why. Women's fiction with a mystery & romance, and it wasn't bad, but it was really pretty standard. I could see all the plot twists coming a mile away, and I've read this identical plot dozens of times before.
  30. **** Oceans of Fire _by Christine Feehan. The four stars is mainly out of loyalty, I have to admit. I enjoy the series, but I think the book could have been quite a bit shorter. And Abby? The man left you to SAVE FREAKIN' CHILDREN! And he's told you this. Get over yourself. ARGH. I'd have liked it much more if Abby wasn't such a self-centered twit.
  31. *** Marching Orders_ by Bruce Lee. This is the WWII code book. Fascinating, but dry as dust. I'm not quite finished with it, as I can only read a few pages at a time before my eyes start to cross. LOL
  32. ***** True North_ by Beverly Brandt, who is aka Jacey Ford. I bought all her BB books after reading the Jacey Fords, and this one, her first, was definitely not disappointing. Romantic comedy, not unlike Crusie--that is, it's funny & romantic, but it's got heart. Workaholic heroine's fiance take another woman on the romantic vacation she (the heroine) gave him for his birthday. Lots of fun.
  33. **** The Beauty of Bond Street_ by Jacqueline Navin. Third in this series of historicals about a woman finding her late brother's illegitimate children and launching them into society (&, incidentally, finding them spouses). This one is a departure, in that the heroine isn't really the niece. The niece was her cousin, who died at birth, & when the letter from the solicitor came, she took the chance to escape the poverty she was headed for. Lots of nice emotional development, and 2 secondary romances, and a really intense ending.
  34. **** Under Cover _by MaryJanice Davidson. If I understand correctly, these 3 connected stories were the result of a contest on Lori Foster's website. They're light & funny, much more Davidson's U&U style than her Secrets style.
  35. ***½ The Rake and the Redhead_ by Emily Hendrickson. Slow-starting Regency reissue (in a 2-in-1--the 2nd book is in next month's list) about an English lord who's moving an entire village to get a better view and the young woman who tries to stop him. Some fun stuff, but I couldn't get over him tearing down all the houses for a whim. A little bit of intrigue about some missing jewels & paintings & hidden passageways.
  36. **** Earthlight_ by Arthur C. Clarke. Classic sf from the 50s about a guy going to the moon to try to find a spy in the upcoming war between Earth & the Federation at ~ the year 2150. I had to LOL at one description that had a bunch of women using electric typewriters, and another that had women again entering computer code on punch cards. And those were the only women in the book, other than the protagonist's absent wife. Kinda sad that this was how he envisioned the future.
  37. ***** Eleven on Top _by Janet Evanovich. The best of the newer books, by far, IMO.

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