logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: 2017-may-posts
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-12-03 02:46
Spindle Cove Series Thoughts: A Lady by Midnight / Beauty and the Blacksmith / Any Duchess Will Do
A Lady by Midnight - Tessa Dare
Beauty and the Blacksmith - Tessa Dare
Any Duchess Will Do - Tessa Dare

Spindle Cove
by Tessa Dare
Book #3:  A Lady by Midnight | Rating:  3.0 Stars
Book #3.5:  Beauty and the Blacksmith | Rating:  4.0 Stars
Book #4:  Any Duchess Will Do | Rating:  4.5 Stars


Apparently it was a nice Tessa Dare marathon for me as I devoured one book after another (and continue to do so).  These books are wonderfully written and so much fun, even if a bit hard to believe based on the time frame and setting.

But what do I care about any of that when all I want is a good time, an enjoyable book, and lots of steamy romance with witty characters, amusing dialogue, and heart-warming moments?

 

 

 

A temporary engagement, a lifetime in the making...

After years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove—but she never stopped yearning for love.  The very last place she'd look for it is in the arms of Corporal Thorne.  The militia commander is as stone cold as he is brutally handsome.  But when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorne steps forward as her fiancé.  He claims to have only Kate's safety in mind. So why is there smoldering passion in his kiss?

Long ago, Samuel Thorne devoted his life to guarding Kate's happiness.  He wants what's best for her, and he knows it's not marriage to a man like him.  To outlast their temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her tempting body and lock her warm smiles out of his withered heart. It's the toughest battle of this hardened warrior's life . . . and the first he seems destined to lose.



A Lady by Midnight is my least favorite of the Spindle Cove books, thus far, but for whatever reason, I'm not sure I can pinpoint, exactly.  I only recall thinking that while I did like our main couple, Kate and Thorne, I also found them extremely frustrating in their actions, especially towards the ending.  And something about their relationship never did sit well with me, especially with Thorne coming off so intense and dangerous all the time.

Meanwhile, the long lost family who has come to claim Kate were amusing, and while I had the same misgivings about them at first as Thorne did, I later came to find that maybe Thorne was being too much of a possessive, paranoid jerk than was necessary.

Nonetheless, this was still an enjoyable and charming book.

 


 

 

At last, Diana gets a romance of her own! But with the last man anyone in Spindle Cove expects...

Beautiful and elegant, Miss Diana Highwood is destined to marry a wealthy, well-placed nobleman.  At least, that's what her mother has loudly declared to everyone in Spindle Cove.

But Diana's not excited by dukes and lords.  The only man who makes her heart pound is the village blacksmith, Aaron Dawes.  By birth and fortune, they couldn't be more wrong for each other...but during stolen, steamy moments in his forge, his strong hands feel so right.

Is their love forged strong enough to last, or are they just playing with fire?



I hadn't really known what to expect of Diana's turn at being the main heroine, even as this is a novella.  In fact, with her situation, I would have almost expected her to get a full length novel instead, but Beauty and the Blacksmith proved to be quite cute, sweet, and charming... even while I had no idea what our main couple were doing with each other.

I mean, I know what they were doing with each other, but there were a lot of actions that spoke to the contrary of what I thought they wanted with each other.  I'm suspecting that might have been intentionally added angst, just for the sake of having romantic angst.

 


 

 

What’s a duke to do, when the girl who’s perfectly wrong becomes the woman he can’t live without?

Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season—or any season—but his diabolical mother abducts him to “Spinster Cove” and insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence.  Griff decides to teach her a lesson that will end the marriage debate forever.  He chooses the serving girl.

Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn’t dream about dukes.  All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop.  That dream becomes a possibility when an arrogant, sinfully attractive duke offers her a small fortune for a week’s employment.  Her duties are simple: submit to his mother’s “duchess training"... and fail miserably.

But in London, Pauline isn’t a miserable failure.  She’s a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure—a woman who ignites Griff’s desire and soothes the darkness in his soul.  Keeping Pauline by his side won’t be easy.  Even if Society could accept a serving girl duchess—can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?



I'm supposing that this Spindle Cove installment was supposed to be some sort of fairy tale meets 'My Fair Lady' crossover, which was wonderful and amusing, and so many things I enjoyed all rolled into one.  "The practical girl's fairy tale," as Duke Halford puts it.  The premise is promising, and the characters were all individually awesome by their own merit.

The character interaction could have been better, and somehow, the romance rang a little false to me, but I enjoyed a few of the exchanges here and there, and loved Pauline's randomly muttered, "Dukes and their problems."  I found I absolutely adored the dowager duchess of Halford before she even reveals the little knitting atrocities to Pauline--after that, I fell in love with her.

And the dialogue was terrific, especially when the duchess was trying to teach Pauline proper diction, among all of her other "duchess training" lessons.

The only quibble I have about this book would probably be the ending.  Somehow, it felt rushed and kind of trampled over the emotional build-up that I thought it was going for.  I'm not sure I know how to describe my conflicting feelings about it, but while I enjoyed how Griff handles the situation, I still felt like there could have been something... more.

Otherwise, this was a lovely read and I can honestly say that I absolutely loved it!


***

I'm trying to decide which 16 Festive Tasks squares to mark these as and have come up with at least two for A Lady by Midnight, and one for Any Duchess Will Do.

 

 


Square 2 | Book themes for Bon Om Touk:
Read a book that takes place on the sea, near the sea, or on a lake or a river, or read a book that has water on the cover.

Square 3 | Book themes for St. Martin’s Day:
Read a book set on a vineyard, or in a rural setting, –OR– a story where the MC searches for/gets a new job. –OR– A book with a lantern on the cover, or books set before the age of electricity. –OR– A story dealing with an act of selfless generosity (like St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar).

I think A Lady by Midnight will fit in either of the above two squares (the bolded book theme options), as Spindle Cove takes place on a setting near the sea, and I'm quite sure Spindle Cove would be considered quite rural.  The setting is Regency... which is before the age of electricity, no?  I haven't quite decided which square to choose... and just as well, there were a couple other squares that would work, too.

 

 


Square 15 | Book themes for Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day:
Read anything where the main character has servants (paid servants count, NOT unpaid) or is working as a servant him-/ herself.

I mainly bolded the first part of this book theme if only because I'm certain about the Duke and his family employing paid servants in his household.  The second part of this book theme would probably fit as well, but probably on a stretch, since Pauline is a serving girl/barmaid, who gets paid to pretend to take duchess training lessons from the dowager duchess--I'm not sure that actually qualifies her for a paid servant, though, but since the first part of the book theme fits, I'm definitely using this book for this square.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/12/spindle-cove-series-thoughts-lady-by.html
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-11-11 07:55
Thoughts: It's in His Kiss
It's in His Kiss - Jill Shalvis

It's in His Kiss
by Jill Shalvis
Book 10 of Lucky Harbor


'Sexy Grumpy Surfer' are three words combined together that aren't as smoothly read as you would think.  I tried it a few times, so if we must, we shall refer to Sam as the 'SGS'... if I feel like lending him an endearing nickname or something.  Sam's nickname for Becca is just slightly cuter, as he calls her 'Peeper' since he's caught her staring at him from her apartment window many times.

At some point, I almost forgot that these characters had real names anyway.

As for the actual story, itself... well, let's just say that Jill Shalvis, while excellent at creating character interaction and lovely humor, definitely isn't all that great at addressing issues that are a bit more serious in nature.  She will use them to help create a backstory for her characters... but by conclusion, those issues seem glossed over in favor of simply solving all the problems with the "One True Love" formula.

And while it's not entirely a deal-breaker for me continuing to read a Jill Shalvis book, I can certainly understand why this would be a reason for many others to be upset or frustrated.


The Story:
Becca Thorpe arrived in Lucky Harbor to get away from the stress of recent events involving her family, specifically her little brother.  To Becca, Lucky Harbor was only supposed to be a pit-stop until she could figure out what to do with herself, how to move on and get her life back together.  But as she continues to explore and get to know Lucky Harbor, she finds herself drawn to the small town of eccentric residents, and slowly creating a home for herself, even if she doesn't realize it yet.

Add onto that the Sexy Grumpy Surfer guy, Sam Brody, and Becca has every reason to continue hanging around... even if this is just a pit-stop.

Meanwhile, while trying to avoid his own complications, Sam can't help but be drawn to Becca when he notices that she has secrets that have hurt her in the past.  He's intent on finding out what her mystery is, even as he has some unresolved issues of his own that need addressing.


My Thoughts:
Sometimes I wonder if some authors just like to create characters with tragic or crappy backgrounds just so that they can become soul mates in their love story.

Sam and Becca both suffer from disappointing, pretty terrible, childhoods.  Sam's father had always been unreliable, which had always ended with Sam in the foster care system.  In present day, Sam does nothing but give his father anything the old man asks for, even if it's unreasonable and only manages to further cause a rift between father and son.  Becca's parents had always left her younger brother to Becca's care, expecting her to do whatever it takes for her brother, even at the expense and detriment of Becca's well-being and mental health.  In present day, this expectation is still floating in the air, and recent events are what caused Becca to uproot and move away from her family, hoping to find comfort and solace for herself.

Once again, to be honest, Jill Shalvis writes lovely characters and stories, with a lot of cute dialogue and tangential side stories.  These are all fine and dandy, but then she brings in some serious issues, such as Sam's relationship with his father, or Becca's relationship with her parents and her brother, or Becca's stage fright, or even the alluded to tragic event that had brought Becca all the way across the country to Lucky Harbor, Washington.

There is always so much potential for these issues to be addressed in a thoughtful way.  In the meantime, there's no reason why we can't have a sweet romance at the same time.

But the book is slightly imbalanced in that the romance overshadows every other issue brought to surface, and then in the end, apparently it's back to "love conquers all," and then Happily Ever After.

The resolution of both Becca's and Sam's conflicts with their respective parents felt abrupt and too easily managed.  The resolution with Becca and her brother might have been a little more believable.  But the issue about Becca's recent tragic event... I'm not sure I really like how that one was handled.

Meanwhile, the romance had it's moments, but the fact that our couple lives in a perpetual state of keeping secrets from each other, but also expecting the other to answer all questions posed to the other was a bit frustrating.  I loved how Sam tried to take care of Becca; I love how Becca got under Sam's skin and makes a place for herself in his life.

What I don't like is how Sam will push for personal, private information that Becca wants to keep to herself, but then shut down the minute she turns around and starts asking him about his own problems.  Then vice versa.

On the other hand, Becca and Olivia actually make a better starting out friendship--neither pushes the other to reveal secrets that she doesn't want to tell.  It's called respect, and the girls seem to be able to keep to those boundaries.  I mean, maybe over time when they get to know each other better, they can start sharing family histories... but for right now, they had just met barely a handful of days ago.  So I find this a refreshing friendship.

Meanwhile Sam and Becca just kept getting irritated when the other wouldn't talk or share stories with the class.

Anyway, enough of my issues.

It's In His Kiss wasn't exactly a Jill Shalvis book that was completely terrible.  I'd say it was in the mediocre 'meh' level, if only because it had it's moments, and it didn't really frustrate me too much.  I will say, however, that I DO miss the close camaraderie of each trio of friends found in each sub-trilogy of the Lucky Harbor series.  Sam, Cole, and Tanner were fun, but they were also kind of boring.  Becca had Olivia... but where's the third point of the trio?  Not to say that Becca and Olivia's new friendship wasn't great--the drunken by two bottles of wine scene was pretty cute.


***

The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season

 

16 Festive Tasks - Dies Natalis Solis Invicti


I'd been meaning to read the rest of Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor books anyway, and it just so happens that this book can fit a couple squares for the 16 Festive Tasks.  And so I've marked it for Square 14 -- Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Read a book that has a beach or seaside setting.  Sam and his two best friends are surfers as well as run a charter company, and Becca rents a warehouse turned apartment near where they work and live; so the majority of this book DOES indeed take place with the beach as a main part of the setting.

Other Possible Squares:

  • Square 2 | Bon Om Touk:  Water on the cover.
  • Square 3 | St. Martin's Day:  Becca spends the first part of the book looking for a job--her one night waitressing stint was hilarious.
  • Square 10 | Pancha Ganapati:  Book cover has blue, green, orange, and yellow.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/thoughts-its-in-his-kiss.html
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-11-11 06:54
Thoughts: Close to Heaven
Close to Heaven: A Colorado High Country Christmas - Pamela Clare

Close to Heaven
by Pamela Clare
Book 5 of Colorado High Country


A few days prior to publishing this book, Pamela had written a blog post about how Close to Heaven was supposed to have been a Christmas novella, but that it ended up being long enough to be novel-length.  So rather than being a Christmas novella special for the Colorado High Country series, it is now the fifth installment of the series.

As I finished the second half of the book, I couldn't help but wonder whether, maybe, this story would have worked out better as a shorter, novella-length work.

This isn't to say that the book was terrible, but I certainly felt like it dragged on the last half of the story.  I easily saw Pamela's vision and direction for Close to Heaven, but I'm not sure it was necessarily a smoothly executed one.

Nonetheless, even with my misgivings and conflicts about how this novel was presented, I can't deny that, as usual, Pamela always creates a great story, story premise, and characters, with a lot of heart.


The Story:
It is about a month before Christmas and Scarlet Springs is expecting a wintry snow storm in the next few days.  Rain Minear has been feeling lonely ever since her daughter left for college, and she hasn't been able to catch the eye of her boss, Joe Moffat, whom she has been in love with for the past twenty years.  During the night, she starts to wonder if maybe it's time to move on with her life, and maybe start over in another place away from her childhood home of Scarlet Springs.

What she doesn't expect is that her roof would collapse because of the heavy snow, and she would be left without a home, all too suddenly.  Fortunately for her, Joe is generous and caring, and offers to house her at his home until the snow clears and she can find a place to stay.  Unknown to Rain, though, is that Joe has also harbored the same feelings for her these past twenty years, but has never felt right acting on them due to his own rules for not messing around with his own employees.  On top of that, a sordid family history has also influenced Joe's outlook for his own future.

This Christmas, however, it seems that life has some other plans for the both of them.


My Thoughts:
The first thing that came to mind, surprisingly, was the fact that I had thought Rain was younger--the way she'd been described from the first book, I had had the impression that Rain was in her early twenties, or something.  Apparently, I was a little off, or just didn't really pay attention, even though she was one of the side characters I'd hoped to see a story for.

So when the summary came out that this was Joe's and Rain's love story, I was intrigued.  Throughout the series' first few installments, Joe is clearly an older man--which, at least I didn't mistaken his age.  I wondered how this relationship would play out, my mind thinking that Joe Moffat, in his forties, had at least twenty years on Rain, whom I'd thought was in her twenties.

Then Rain was introduced in this book as thirty-seven years old.  Okay, not as young as I'd thought, but still ten years younger than Joe, according to the narration.  It's still a bit of an age gap, so we can still play on that age gap thing.  Or at least, for a while, it was one of the reasons Joe gave for not making a move on Rain.

Even though that particular reason seemed to NOT be a reason, left behind and forgotten.  It was still a significant factor, of course--Rain had gotten pregnant twenty years ago, with a man ten years her senior, who then proceeded to abandon her.  So Joe didn't want to come off like that jackass.

Then, reason after reason came out for why Joe never made a move on Rain for the past twenty years...  TWENTY YEARS.  And we'll come back to these reasons, but, really, I know Rain has her own misgivings, but twenty years is quite the time for two adults to be lusting after each other NOT to notice.  And twenty years is also a long time for Rain to hold a crush on a guy and not do anything about it--she seems like the straight-forward type, and certainly she held no misgivings about making any moves during the course of this story.

I guess that's why we have a story.  And maybe all it took was for her to have a random opportunity.  Like, say, maybe being stuck living in Joe's home while she awaited her insurance claim, and for the snow to melt off her crumpled property.  And maybe for Joe to get a few hard-ons while she's around so she could finally conclude that maybe Joe was interested in her as much as she was interested in him.

I don't know.  It just seems overly convenient a plot.

Anyway, as for Joe's own issues:  He pretty much refuses to make a move on Rain for so many reasons.  His ancestor was a terrible, terrible man who had taken from people, murdered, and forced sex on his own female employees.  And Joe was of the notion that he didn't want to be anything like his ancestor, Silas Moffat.  In fact, Joe's guilt and shame, brought on by all the horrible things that ancestor Silas had done when the man first settled in Scarlet Springs about a century ago, has even made Joe feel like the Moffat name should die with him.  After all, according to him, his grandfather was also a horrible person, and so was his own father.

Somehow, Joe came out the decent man in the Moffat line.  And he's worried that he'd end up starting a family, giving birth to a son, who ends up inheriting previous Moffat male characteristics for evil-doing.  Apparently with all the knowledge and smarts that Joe has, he hasn't figured out the concept of "Nature versus Nurture."  Nor has he stopped to wonder that he was able to become different from his previous male relations.

So Joe refuses to make a move on Rain because she's his employee and he's ten years her senior; he doesn't want to abuse his authority over her.

It just seems like a lot of wasted time, you know.  Twenty years goes by, and even while the two of them are good friends and colleagues, working well together to run the bar, restaurant, and brewery, known as Knockers... well, it just seems like a lot of wasted time where someone could have made a move, or someone could have recognized feelings, whether lust or deeper.


Close to Heaven is up to Pamela Clare standards as far as characters, writing, and heart are concerned.  The schmaltz factor is more subtle in this book.  However, the ending half felt a little dragged out, even after our couple finally acknowledge feelings.  Because then we're just spending time slowly ambling towards that Happily Ever After as the days move forward towards Christmas.  Like, that maybe Christmas was the ultimate end location for this story, and everything from the mid-mark where Rain and Joe finally reciprocate feelings, moving forward, was just filler until the time was right.

I'm not saying it was terrible or anything.  It was sweet and enjoyable and heart-warming--probably what our lovely author was aiming for.  But I just felt like maybe that section of the book could, maybe, have been shortened a little bit.  Because I couldn't help but get the feeling that that latter half of the book went on forever.  And it makes me feel bad, because I DO love a great Pamela Clare romance novel, and Close to Heaven was, once again, very sweet, even if a bit frustrating on Joe's part since he was being so stubborn about Rain.

I mean, for crying out loud, she practically jumped him, and then paraded around naked in front of him, and he STILL thought he'd be the one in the wrong if he made a move.  Even after Rain tells him that she wants him.

And so, props to rain for not letting herself get stuck on this relationship.  After a couple of rejections, she finally just moves herself on and stops her own advances.

But enough of that.  The Happily Ever After happens, feelings are reciprocated, and the book was enjoyable on certain levels.  I'm satisfied enough.


***

The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season

16 Festive Tasks -- Yuletide


I read Close to Heaven for Square 9 -- YuletideA book that is set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter.  Most of the book takes place during a big snow storm that pretty much closes down the entire little town of Scarlet Springs.

Meanwhile, as I was reading this book, I found how many other squares this book would fit.  Although being that this book is the fifth in an ongoing Contemporary Romance series, I don't know how much this helps.

 

  • Square #1 | Calan Gaeaf:  There is a supporting character named Rose.
  • Square #4 | Penance Day:  Our MC, Joe spends most of the book struggling over his guilt over the terrible things his ancestor had done to people over a century ago, and feels that he needs to give back to the community what his ancestor took from them.
  • Square #5 | Advent:  There is a Christmas tree showing in the background of this book, which, of course, is a pine tree.  I don't know how much of a stretch this would be since it's a little hard to see unless you look closely.
  • Square #7 | Saint Lucia's Day:  Obviously, snow features as one of the main events in this book, which is kind of what gives our couple a reason to end up stranded under the same roof.
  • Square #10 | Pancha Ganapati:  There is red on the cover.
  • Square #11 | Soyal:  This book is set in Colorado.
  • Square #13 | Christmas:  The MC is named Joseph Moffat.
 
This book also takes place leading up to Christmas, if that will count for one of the Holiday Book Joker options.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/thoughts-close-to-heaven.html
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-11-03 02:26
Finished: Close to Heaven
Close to Heaven: A Colorado High Country Christmas - Pamela Clare

This was another enjoyable installment by Pamela Clare, but I can't entirely say that it was her best work.  Still, it's hard for me to completely dislike something by Pamela Clare, and I can kind of see where she was trying to go with this book.

 

Anyway, it was a lovely little Christmas story for me to kick off the holiday season with, as well as finish my first 16 Festive Tasks with.

 

A full review will be coming soon.

 

 

16 Festive Tasks -- Yuletide

 


I read Close to Heaven for Square 9 -- YuletideA book that is set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter.  Most of the book takes place during a big snow storm that pretty much closes down the entire little town of Scarlet Springs.

Meanwhile, as I was reading this book, I found how many other squares this book would fit.  Although being that this book is the fifth in an ongoing Contemporary Romance series, I don't know how much this helps.

  • Square #1 | Calan Gaeaf:  There is a supporting character named Rose.
  • Square #4 | Penance Day:  Our MC, Joe spends most of the book struggling over his guilt over the terrible things his ancestor had done to people over a century ago, and feels that he needs to give back to the community what his ancestor took from them.
  • Square #5 | Advent:  There is a Christmas tree showing in the background of this book, which, of course, is a pine tree.  I don't know how much of a stretch this would be since it's a little hard to see unless you look closely.
  • Square #7 | Saint Lucia's Day:  Obviously, snow features as one of the main events in this book, which is kind of what gives our couple a reason to end up stranded under the same roof.
  • Square #10 | Pancha Ganapati:  There is red on the cover.
  • Square #11 | Soyal:  This book is set in Colorado.
  • Square #13 | Christmas:  The MC is named Joseph Moffat.
 
This book also takes place leading up to Christmas, if that will count for one of the Holiday Book Joker options.

 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-11-01 09:27
Very Brief Thoughts: The Liar's Dice
The Liar's Dice: A Lotus Palace Mystery (The Lotus Palace Mysteries) - Jeannie Lin

The Liar's Dice by Jeannie Lin
The Pingkang Li Mysteries, #2.5 (novella)

 

 

Tang Dynasty China, 849 A.D.
Lady Bai, called Wei-wei by her aristocratic family, has always been the perfectly obedient daughter--but only on the outside.  Inwardly she dreams of freedom.  When she dares to pay a forbidden visit to a public tea garden in men's clothing, only Gao looks close enough to notice her borrowed robes.  Alas, looking closely at the enigmatic Gao tells Wei-wei only one thing: he's a scoundrel.

When the pair witness a fatal stabbing, Gao surprises her by staying at her side as she investigates the brutal crime.  Together they uncover more secrets, somehow tied to her brother and the seedy gambling dens he's been visiting on the sly.  Gao seems to know far too much about the brutal ways of the street, but Wei-wei is drawn to him and his habit of seeing through all her disguises.

Wei-wei revels in her newfound independence and her growing feelings for her mysterious companion, but all too soon she's faced with a cruel choice -- discover the truth and bring the killer to justice, or protect her family at all costs.



A lovely short read for a character I'd been interested in since the first book.  Wei-wei is wonderfully crafted to be smart, bold, and beyond her times; while at the same time she's unassuming enough to understand her own faults.  I wish the "disguised as a man" part of the story would have been a bit more fleshed out, since it is one of the classic romance tropes I love; but as a novella, I suppose it'll have to do.

The romance in this novella was understated, with the focus being more on Wei-wei's self-revelations about herself and her role in her family.  I would love to see more of Wei-wei and Gao, as their relationship is one that would definitely be disapproved of enough in the traditional, historical Chinese sense to be an interesting development if allowed to progress.

 

 

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?