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text 2017-03-01 15:50
22 New Series Releases Today (March 1, 2017)
Very Important Corpses - Simon R. Green
Sizzling Summer Nights - Debbi Rawlins
Best Served Cold: A small town Police Procedural set in Oklahoma - Susan Rogers Cooper
The Bastards and the Knives (Gentleman Bastard, #0) - Scott Lynch
Future Threat - Elizabeth Briggs

Taken from https://www.fictfact.com/BookReleaseCalendar , new series releases today are:


A Finely Crafted Murder - Stacey Alabaster, #3 in Craft Circle Cozy


A Perfect View (CICI: A Fairy's Tale) - Cori Doerrfeld,Cori Doerrfeld,Tyler Page Agent-in-Training (Classified K-9 Unit) - Terri Reed An Unjust Judge: A Mystery set in 16th century Ireland (A Burren Mystery) - Cora Harrison  

A Perfect View - Cori Doerrfeld,Cori Doerrfeld, #3 in Cici: A Fairy's Tale

Agent-in-Training - Terri Reed, #1 in Classified K-9 Unit

An Unjust Judge - Cora Harrison, #14 in Burren Mysteries


Before He Takes (A Mackenzie White Mystery-Book 4) - Blake Pierce Best Served Cold: A small town Police Procedural set in Oklahoma (A Milt Kovak Mystery) - Susan Rogers Cooper Bodhi's Synful Mate, Iron Wolves MC Book 6 - Elle Boon  

Before He Takes - Blake Pierce , #4 in Mackenzie White

Best Served Cold - Susan Rogers Cooper, #14 in Milt Kovak

Bodhi's Synful Mate - Elle Boon, #6 in Iron Wolves MC


Time Jumpers (Five Kingdoms) - Brandon Mull Burning Springs (Firefly Hollow Series Book 13) - T. L. Haddix  Enigma of Fire (Berdie Elliott Mysteries) - Marilyn Leach  

Time Jumpers (Five Kingdoms) - Brandon Mull, #5 in Five Kingdoms

Burning Springs - T. L. Haddix, #13 in Firefly Hollow

Enigma of Fire - Marilyn Leach, #4 in Berdie Elliott Mystery


R.R. Haywood
#1 in Extracted


Future Shock
Elizabeth Briggs
#1 in Future Shock


Future Threat
Elizabeth Briggs
#2 in Future Shock


Alexis Noelle
#5 in Deathstalkers MC


Never Say Die
Michele Bardsley
#3 in Wizards of Nevermore


Sizzling Summer Nights
Debbi Rawlins
#20 in Made in Montana


Take It Back
Tonya Burrows
#1 in Outlaw Recovery


The Bastards and the Knives
Scott Lynch
#0.5 in Gentleman Bastard


The Bone Witch
Rin Chupeco
#1 in The Bone Witch


The Innocent's Secret Baby
Carol Marinelli
#1 in Billionaires & One-Night Heirs


To End All Wars
P. S. Power
#7 in Gwen Farris


Very Important Corpses
Simon R Green
#3 in Ishmael Jones Mystery




Source: www.fictfact.com/BookReleaseCalendar
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text 2015-04-06 16:05
Romance on Spring Break
Beyond Me: Sex on the Beach - Jennifer Probst
Love Overdue - Pamela Morsi
Elements of Chemistry: ATTRACTION (Hypothesis Series Book 1) - Penny Reid
Trade Me - Courtney Milan
Adrienne (A Bron Universe Novel #1) - D. Renee Bagby
Spring Fling: A New Adult Anthology - Sara Fawkes,Lauren Hawkeye,Julia Kent,Cathryn Fox
Confessions of a Demon - Susan Wright,Susan Wright
Take What You Want - Jeanette Grey
Delicious Do-Over - Debbi Rawlins
The Guy Next Door - Victoria Dahl,Lori Foster,Susan Donovan

Some of you are lucky enough to be on Spring Break. Some of you are in the the wrong hemisphere for that.  I took last week off. Woo hoo! 


Here are some great Romances that will take you on Spring Break with them.


My lists are never in any particular order. 


1. Beyond Me: Sex on the Beach by Jennifer Probst


Spring break in Key West with my besties was supposed to be casual fun. But I never expected to meet him. Sex and frolic? Yes! A relationship? No. But his hot blue eyes and confident manner drew me in. And when he let me see the man behind the mask, I fell hard, foolishly believing there could be a future for us. Of course, I never considered our relationship might be based on lies...or that his betrayal could rock my foundation and make me question everything I believed in…

The moment I saw her I knew I had to have her. She hooked me with her cool eyes and don’t-touch-me attitude. I had it all—money, social status, and looks. I could get any girl I wanted...until her. When my friends challenged me with a bet to get her into bed by the end of the week, I couldn’t pass it up. But sex wasn’t supposed to turn into love. She wasn’t supposed to change me, push me, and make me want more for myself. She wasn’t supposed to wreck me in all ways. And now, if I can’t turn my lies into truth, I just might lose her forever..


2. Love Overdue by Pamela Morsi


Meet Dorothy Jarrow: devotedly unsexy librarian 

Buttoned-up book lover DJ is all sensible shoes, drab skirts and studious glasses. After an ill-advised spring-break-fueled fling left her mortified, she's committed to her prim and proper look. When she's hired by a rural library in middle-of-nowhere Kansas, she finally has the lifestyle to match—and she can't wait to get her admin on. 


But it's clear from day one that the small-town library is more interested in circulating rumors than books. DJ has to organize her unloved library, win over oddball employees and avoid her flamboyant landlady's attempts to set her up with the town pharmacist. Especially that last part—because it turns out handsome Scott Sanderson is her old vacation fling! She is not sure whether to be relieved or offended when he doesn't seem to recognize her. But with every meeting, DJ finds herself secretly wondering what it would be like to take off her glasses, unpin her bun and reveal the inner vixen she's been hiding from everyone—including herself.


3. Elements of Chemistry Parts 1-3 by Penny Reid


Parts 1-3: Elements of Chemistry
This book has been split into 3 novels.
Part 1: ATTRACTION * Part 2: HEAT * Part 3: CAPTURE

One week.
Private beach.
Invisible girl.
Jerk-faced bully.
What’s the worst that could happen?

Kaitlyn Parker has no problem being the invisible girl, which is why she finds herself hiding in various cabinets and closets all over her college campus. Despite her best efforts, she can’t escape the notice of Martin Sandeke—bad boy, jerkface bully, and the universe’s hottest, wealthiest, and most unobtainable bachelor—who also happens to be Kaitlyn’s chemistry lab partner.

Kaitlyn might be the only girl who isn’t interested in exploiting his stunning rower’s build, chiseled features, and family's billionaire fortune. Kaitlyn wants Martin for his brain, specifically to tabulate findings of trace elements in surface water.

When Kaitlyn saves Martin from a nefarious plot, Martin uses the opportunity to push Kaitlyn out of her comfort zone: spring break, one week, house parties, bathing suits, and suntan lotion. Can she overcome her aversion to being noticed? Will he be able grow beyond his self-centered nature? Or, despite their obvious chemistry, will Martin be the one to drive Kaitlyn into the science cabinet of obscurity for good?


4. Trade Me by Courtney Milan


Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Systems. But when he makes an offhand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart...but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.


5. Adrienne by D. Renee Bagby


He crossed dimensions to claim her as his queen -- but her reign may destroy his world.

Backett wants two simple little things this spring break: rest and
relaxation. After nearly four years of slaving away for her college
education, she deserves a holiday. What she gets is pulled into another
dimension by a man who claims she's his rightful queen.

King of Ulan, has until his birthday to find his bride or he must
forfeit his throne. When a spell reveals her location, he will do
anything, even cross dimensions, to claim her as his own.

As if fending off a lusty king isn't enough of a headache, Adrienne finds
herself a pawn in a rival monarch's plot to bring Malik's world to its
knees. But is the real danger being stuck in the middle of a power
struggle between rival kingdoms? Or the damage Malik could do to her


6. Delicious Do-Over by Debbi Rawlins

On the cusp of a new business venture, überpractical accountant Lindsey Shaw has reluctantly let her friends talk her into a "second spring break" in Hawaii. Now she's in Waikiki…and even reuniting with her wickedly hot one-night fling from years ago! Only Lindsey is feeling a tingle of fear—or is that sweet, sweet anticipation?

Rick Granger has his own fear—that gorgeous, smart Lindsey might discover more about him than he's ready to reveal. She thinks he's just a surfer dude—fine with him, it keeps things uncomplicated. Only, complications whip up like waves once Lindsey dips a toe in his waters….


7. Spring Fling by Julia Kent


Four tales of hot New Adult romance in New Orleans …


Party Spring Break–style with four bestselling romance authors, including Julia Kent and Sara Fawkes, as they dish out sexy tales of romance in the Big Easy!


Share Me by Julia Kent
Emma Barton has just been dumped—for being boring. Now she's letting loose and reclaiming her inner bad girl with not one, but two sexy strangers! Double the pleasure means double the fun, right?


Shake Me by Sara Fawkes
Determined to forget her cheating boyfriend, Cassidy Dupre agrees to a night out with playboy Travis Dean. But when she finds herself wanting more than she bargained for, this evening could spell desire … or disaster!


Show Me by Cathryn Fox
Eva Parker wants a lesson in seduction … from her brother's best friend. When teaching becomes tension, will they be able to keep it professional? Or will friends forever become something much hotter?


Shock Me by Lauren Hawkeye
Callie Gilmore is determined to break out of the friend zone with Ryder Hawkins. Donning a mask and making her move seems easy, but when fate throws a curveball, Callie must choose: turn and run … or embrace the night.


8. Confessions of a Demon by Susan Wright


After accidentally stealing the life force of a dying demon, Allay became the only human-demon hybrid in existence. Demons feed on human emotions, so Allay decided the safest way to satisfy this need-and still retain some semblance of her humanity-was to open a bar. Here she can drink from, and ease, her patrons' pain, which has helped her to stay under the demon radar...until now.

When Allay is attacked and nearly killed by another demon, a human comes to her rescue. Theo Ram is tall, handsome, and mortal-and Allay feels a connection to him she didn't think she'd ever know. But that bond is tested when the demon community in New York begins to rise up, and two opposing clans fight for power. Now Allay is caught in the middle, and she must decide where her loyalties lie.


9.  Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey


She needs an escape…and he’s exactly what she had in mind.


College senior Ellen Price spends every spare minute studying to get into medical school. Until spring break yawns before her, as empty as her wallet.


With no money to hit the beach, she fills her empty to-do list with a plan: for just one week, she will become the kind of take-no-prisoners woman she secretly wishes to be, starting with the hot guy at the bar. It's a no-risk situation: at the end of break, he’ll head back to his campus, and she’ll go back to hers. No muss, no fuss.


At first, Josh Markley isn’t sure what to think when the quiet, intense beauty from his pre-med classes approaches him for a night of casual sex. Even more mystifying, she doesn’t seem to return his recognition. But if she wants to play “strangers in a bar”, he’s game.

Their passionate night is a welcome respite from life’s stress, but afterward, Josh realizes he wants more—from himself, from life, from Ellen. Except she still thinks he’s a one-off she’ll never see again. Confessing the truth now—before she figures it out on her own—could shatter the fragile beginnings of just what the doctor ordered. A forever love.


10. The Guy Next Door by Lori Foster


Ready, Set, Jett by Lori Foster

A vacation from her no-strings romance with her sexy next-door neighbor. That's what Natalie Alexander needs to get her head—and heart—together. But her solo trip south turns into a disaster when gorgeous Jett Sutter turns up with another challenge.

Gail's Gone Wild by Susan Donovan

Single mom Gail Chapman insists on chaperoning her teenage daughter's spring-break trip to Key West. But she never expects to face temptation—in the hunky form of Jesse Batista, the mysterious man in the cottage next door.

Just One Taste by Victoria Dahl

All-work-and-no-play businessman Eric Donovan won't be distracted by a "businesswoman" who's all wrong for him. Beth Cantrell owns a women's erotica shop! And she has a juicy little secret. Can she tempt him to put pleasure before business for once?


Did I miss one? Let me know! Vote for the best Spring Break Romance on my Goodreads list: Romance on Spring Break.


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text 2015-03-11 15:12
Medicine Bag: Doctors in American Set Historical Romance
Fired Up - Mary Connealy
The Texan's Touch - Jodi Thomas
Bluebonnet Belle - Lori Copeland
Once an Outlaw - Debbi Rawlins
Her Hesitant Heart - Carla Kelly
Plum Creek Bride (Harlequin Historical) - Lynna Banning
Fair Play - Deeanne Gist
Crescent City Courtship - Elizabeth White
An Outlaw in Wonderland - Lori Austin
That Certain Spark (Only In Gooding Book #4) - Cathy Marie Hake

From women struggling to be accepted in what was a man's profession to doctor heroes trying to cope with the overwhelming trauma of war, these American Historical Romance Novels tell wonderful love stories. Enjoy!


My lists are never in any particular order. 


1. The Texan's Touch by Jodi Thomas


Captured by Confederate spies to heal thier comrade, Yankee doctor Adam McClain realized the man in grey named "Nick" was actually a woman! Her beauty and bravery struck him to the core, and after a brief kiss, she helped him leave her life forever...


Nichole never forgot the man who'd evoked powerful new feelings within her. And months later, she was sent to the Texas frontier to ask for his help once again. But could she also hope for love from this handsome Texan?


2. Fired Up by Mary Connealy


When a doctor who attracts danger falls for a cook determined to make it on her own, there's going to be trouble in Texas!

Glynna Greer came west as a mail-order bride and ended up in a bad situation. Now her husband, Flint, is dead, and she's determined to make a go of it on her own. In a town full of men, Glynna decides she can support her two children by opening a diner--never mind that cooking is not her greatest talent.

Dare Riker is a doctor who saves lives, but someone seems determined to end his. It may have something to do with the traitors he dealt with during the Civil War, or it might be related to the recent incident with Flint Greer and the ranch. Whoever the culprit is, he or she seems really fired up, and Dare can't let his guard down for a moment--which is a challenge, since right now he's trying to win the heart of the recently widowed Glynna.

Though his doctoring business is booming due to Glynna's questionable cooking, Dare seems to encounter unexpected dangers wherever he goes. There's the avalanche. And the fire. And then the shadowy figure with a knife. Can Dare survive it all long enough to convince Glynna to take another chance on love?


3. Bluebonnet Belle by Lori Copeland


April Truitt didn't trust doctors, battle of wills was raging in the Lone Star State in 1876. least of all handsome newcomer Gray Fuller, who opposed her efforts to offer the women of Dignity, Texas, an herbal alternative to surgery. He treated her like some quack, but April was determined to save other women from dying on the operating table, like her mother did.

Gray couldn't help admiring April's spirit and good intentions. Yet he couldn't let this bluebonnet belle steal all his patients—even if she was on her way to stealing his heart.


4. Once an Outlaw by Debbi Rawlins


In the rough-and-tumble town of Deadwood in 1876, cowboy Sam Keegan is about as hard as they get. Considered a real sexy piece of man by the local womenfolk, Sam runs the town livery stable. And he was last seen in the company of a pretty gal in a wedding dress, Reese Winslow…who escaped one of the local brothels!

The little lady claims to be a doctor—from the future, no less! Beware of her, as she's causing no end of problems. Mostly for Sam, who is real skittish about the law. But trouble or not, the man can't seem to stop himself from wanting Reese…and learnin' firsthand what women from the future like to do with hot, hard cowboys!


5. Her Hesitant Heart by Carla Kelly


Tired and hungry after two days of traveling, Susanna Hopkins is just about at the end of her tether when her train finally arrives in Cheyenne. She's bound for a new life in a Western garrison town. Then she discovers she doesn't even have enough money to pay for the stagecoach! Luckily for her, the compassionate Major Joseph Randolph is heading in the same direction.

As a military surgeon, Joe is used to keeping his professional distance. But, despite Susanna's understated beauty, he's drawn to this woman who carries loss and pain equal to his own and has a heart that is just as hesitant and wary….


6. Plum Creek Bride by Lynna Banning


Erika Scharf Had Always Followed Her Heart

Now it had led her to America, and a tortured man with a motherless infant. But would the widowed Dr. Jonathan Callender ever recover from his grief?


Whatever drove him had died with his young wife—or so it seemed to Jonathan Callender. He knew only that nothing mattered anymore—until the day a German whirlwind disguised as the very determined Erika Scharf charged into his life—and made his heart live again.


7. Fair Play: A Novel by Deeanne Gist


Saddled with a man’s name, the captivating Billy Jack Tate makes no apologies for taking on a man’s profession. As a doctor at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, she is one step closer to having her very own medical practice—until Hunter Scott asks her to give it all up to become his wife.

Hunter is one of the elite. A Texas Ranger and World’s Fair guard specifically chosen for his height, physique, character, and skill. Hailed as the toughest man west of any place east, he has no patience for big cities and women who think they belong anywhere but home…

Despite their difference of opinion on the role of women, Hunter and Billy find a growing attraction between them—until Hunter discovers an abandoned baby in the corner of a White City exhibit. He and Billy team up to make sure this foundling isn’t left in the slums of Chicago with only the flea-riddled, garbage-infested streets for a playground. As they fight for the underprivileged children in the Nineteenth Ward, an entire Playground Movement is birthed. But when the Fair comes to an end, one of them will have to give up their dream.

Will Billy exchange her doctor’s shingle for the domesticated role of a southern wife, or will Hunter abandon the wide open spaces of home for a life in the “gray city,” a woman who insists on being the wage earner, and a group of ragamuffins who need more than a playground for breathing space?


8. Crescent City Courtship by Elizabeth White


Abigail Neal dreams of escaping her life in the slums of New Orleans someday. But how can a woman alone and unprotected ever fulfill her dreams of becoming a doctor? Then, young medical student John Braddock comes to pay a call on a neighbor. Though the scars left on her heart have taught her never to trust anyone, Abby is drawn to John's caring nature. Soon an unlikely friendship develops between the son of privilege and the poor daughter of missionaries. But when Abby's mysterious past comes back to haunt her present, will she call upon her faith to help right a wrong and make a new life with her very own Prince Charming?


9. An Outlaw in Wonderland by Lori Austin


Saving soldiers’ lives at the Confederate army hospital Chimborazo, Annabeth Phelan is no ordinary Southern belle. She’s never known work more exhausting or rewarding. And she’s never known a man like Dr. Ethan Walsh, with his disarming gray eyes and peculiar ways. But now the Confederacy is charging her with another service: find the Union spy at Chimborazo.


Ethan’s one passion is saving lives, and if he can do that by helping to end the war, he will—even if it means spying for the North. He’s gotten used to fooling Confederates, but he can’t bear lying to Annabeth. And together, they are about to discover a new passion—one that could even transcend the chaos of war.


10. That Certain Spark by Cathy Marie Hake


Gooding, Texas, is about to gain a double blessing--a veterinarian and a doctor. But when siblings Enoch and Taylor Bestman arrive, the discovery that the long-awaited doctor is in fact a woman has the town up in arms. Karl Van der Vort is no exception, though he becomes Taylor's first patient...against his will.

Karl finds he can't deny Taylor's doctoring skills, but he also can't come to terms with her unladylike occupation. Taylor, on the other hand, wants only to prove that doctoring is her life's calling, despite the town's opposition. But when her practice--and Taylor herself--are threatened, Karl's protectiveness flares into a different emotion altogether.


Do you have a favorite doctor from this time period and setting? Let me know! and vote on the Goodreads list: Medicine Bag: Doctors in American Set Historical Romance.

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review 2014-04-03 21:31
Review. Alone With You, by Debbi Rawlins (Harlequin Blaze March 2014 Bundle)
Alone with You - Debbi Rawlins

I’m of two minds when it comes to road trip stories involving two characters who start off at odds with one another but by the end become best friends/fall in love. On the one hand, I can’t help but think that there’s some weird variation of Stockholm Syndrome happening, turning almost enemies into soulmates. On the other hand, it’s a strangely believable outcome: after all, several days of travel adds up to the equivalent of a handful of dates, which we normally accept as enough time to decide whether we want to spend more time with the person we’ve been seeing. So for now, I’ll forget about my usual “instalove” qualms, because Alone With You was a fairly enjoyable read, although it had a couple of plot issues that threw me off the story near the end.

What I liked most about this book was the great chemistry between Lexie and Tanner. They bicker, tease, and manipulate each other, and have some great dialogue and steamy scenes in the process. Both characters are estranged from their fathers, the black sheep of their families, and able to continually surprise one another by tearing down their assumptions about the other.

I have to admit that at first I didn’t like Lexie. I found her career ambitions, and the groveling she was willing to do, really annoying. And the opening scene, where she asks her father to bring her into the family business, made me feel as if I’d been dropped into an episode of Dallas or Dynasty: the highrise office building; the names (Marshall, Alexis, and Harrison Worthington!); the conniving family members; and, of course, lots and lots of money. Mostly, I couldn’t understand why she wanted so much to be part of her family’s company. Yes, I know that she had fallen on hard times, and that her last name apparently made her unemployable in whatever her field of work was (although I had a hard time believing this detail). But when you can’t work in one field, you cross over to another; many of us have done it when the opportunities in our original career dry up.

But Lexie did eventually grow on me. She comes from a wealthy family, but (as Tanner points out many times) she doesn’t mind roughing it. She’s been on both sides of the fence, and is honest enough to admit that she prefers having money to being poor; so there’s no romanticizing the simple life on her part.

For his part, Tanner is also refreshingly realistic. He knows that his career is not going to last much longer, and has a fairly responsible personality. Also, I really like heroes who are gentlemen while also being alpha. Tanner is not willing to be pushed around, but he’s unfailingly courteous: he’s willing to accompany Lexie to Houston, especially once he understands she’s being punished by her father, but he’ll have nothing to do with the calendar. I think the subplot with the auction and poker game were a bit jarring considering what we know about him, but I was willing to go along with it because he was just a great character to hang out with.

So where did the story go wrong for me? Once again, I’m not sure whether it’s due to the original writing or the final editing, but I felt that some parts of Lexie’s family story were confusing, especially near the end of the novel. There are hints throughout Alone With You suggesting what Marshall Worthington is up to in sending Lexie on what is essentially a fool’s errand. There’s also a mysterious woman named Karina, who may or may not be involved with Harrison, but has been part of the calendar project. All this is supposed to come together at the end, but somehow it never did for me. At the end of the last chapter, Lexie has a moment of clarity and half-confronts her father, but she never states what her revelation was, and I was left feeling really dumb for not being able to figure it out. What was Mr. Worthington’s nefarious plan? Was there ever one?

I’m also not sure whether Lexie ever came clean about Tanner’s contract with The Worthington Group. She spent much of the novel holding the threat of a lawsuit over his head, and beating herself up for not telling him the truth, but I don’t remember an actual confession scene.

Finally, there’s the same rush to the finish line that I’d noticed in the two previous titles from this bundle. The epilogue is the requisite Happily Ever After, but is set far enough into the future of the characters that I was wondering about Tanner and J.D., and about Lexie and Harrison. Also, I found the last few lines of the book to be positively cringe-inducing in how stilted they were; they didn’t seem to come from the same author who had given us so many pages of witty and fun dialogue.

These issues were problematic enough to jolt me out of the story several times, but in general I enjoyed Lexie and Tanner’s story and felt that they worked well as a romantic couple. I was even willing to overlook the implausibility of Tanner just deciding to take a complete stranger on a road trip, and enjoy their fun and sexy ride.

One more book to go in this bundle! Next up: Unexpected Temptation, by Samantha Hunter.

Source: fallenprof.blogspot.ca/2014/04/review-alone-with-you-by-debbi-rawlins.html
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review 2014-03-28 17:38
Review: Captivate Me, by Kira Sinclair (Harlequin Blaze March 2014 Bundle)
Captivate Me - Kira Sinclair
Harlequin Blaze March 2014 Bundle: Captivate MeTexas Outlaws: ColeAlone with YouUnexpected Temptation - Kira Sinclair,Kimberly Raye,Debbi Rawlins
Texas Outlaws: Cole - Kimberly Raye
Lord of Scoundrels (Scoundrels #3) - Loretta Chase

Book Links for this Review:


Harlequin Blaze March 2014 Bundle

Captivate Me, by Kira Sinclair


I’m trying to alternate reviews of past/classic titles with more recent publications, so I’m not always behind the pack. That, and the fact that I’d never read any Harlequin titles and was curious about some of their series, prompted me to buy the March 2014 bundles in Harlequin’s Blaze, Presents, and Superromance lines. Because some heat would be nice during the (hopefully) final days of The Winter That Will Not End, I decided to start with the Blaze line. This review is for the first novel in the bundle: Captivate Me, by Kira Sinclair.


First, a gripe about format. I don’t know whether this is a feature of the bundles only or is also in the individual titles, or maybe it’s just a Kindle thing, but I found it somewhat irritating that it took so damned long to get to the actual novel! There’s an intro blurb, a short scene that I thought was actually the start of the story... but no, wait, here’s a title page! And then an About the Author Page! I guess it’s an e-reader thing, since if I’d had a paper version I would just have flipped past those pages. Anyway, on to our story.


I always like to start off with the things I liked about a book, so that whatever negative things I might have to say later on can be seen in context of how good the book was otherwise. However, I’m afraid I don’t have much to go on for Captivate Me. The sexual tension works, and the sex scenes themselves are well written, but that’s all I could find to like.


My main issue, and this is what prevented me from liking either the plot or the characters, is that I felt that I was being asked to suspend my disbelief to a ludicrous degree. I don’t want to do a play-by-play of the entire plot, but I do want to address some specific issues.


  1. Character Backgrounds


Just once, I’d like to read about characters who don’t have an angst-ridden origin story to justify their crappy behaviour. In many ways, I felt that Alyssa and Beckett were walking stereotypes: she’s a brilliant yet sexy programmer with a wicked stepmother and a high school sob story; and he’s a ruthless entrepreneur who had to start from zero after being kicked out by his wicked father. Neither character’s family history makes any sense in the novel, specifically the reasons for ostracizing/abandoning that are set forth. I was, at the same time, reading Lord of Scoundrels, where the hero has a tragic family history of his own, but the way that background is described in the Prologue is much more powerful and in line with what we find out about his parents. Here, the families are mean and nasty without much of a believable explanation, which made the main characters’ personalities hard to justify. Near the end, we’re given a glimpse of hurt, or something, in Beckett’s father’s eyes; and Alyssa’s stepmother gets a verbal comeuppance, but that’s all the depth we get. 


Aside from the families, we have Alyssa’s sad tale of being rejected by Beckett at a party she’d attended during her high school days over a decade before the novel begins. She was drunk and looking for an easy hookup, and she never forgives him for rejecting her when he finds out she’s a virgin. Beckett does not remember any of this when she finally tells him why she hates him enough to not want to do business with her. So let’s recap here. She’s been holding a grudge against Beckett since her high school days, because he wouldn’t have sex with her. She’s mad because nothing happened, and she’s grown up feeling rejected and invisible. I really felt it hard to empathize with someone who lets an episode like that determine her future personality, never mind guide her professional decisions. I know how terrible this sounds, but I would have been more inclined towards sympathy if he’d actually taken advantage of her at that party. Then he’d have a reason for seeking redemption. I understand that the author wanted to point out that Beckett had been noble back then, unwilling to do the same thing his father had done (get a rich woman pregnant), but her subsequent years-long outrage just didn’t convince me.


  1. Masks


This was the biggest obstacle for me, in terms of accepting what came to pass between Alyssa and Beckett. She first sees him from her bedroom window: he’s on a balcony across the street, half in shadows, wearing a mask. So she does what any sensible woman would do (????) and proceeds to strip for him. You see, Alyssa has a wild side that she keeps carefully hidden (of course, all prim-yet-sexy programmers do). At this point, I could buy the idea that he was just a masked stranger.


However, beginning the following day, Alyssa and Beckett meet regularly as business rivals, with a healthy dose of sexual tension thrown in. She’s supposedly smart and observant, which means that she should be able to notice things like build, voice, and scent. Because Beckett proceeds to seduce her not once, but twice, while wearing that mask, and she has absolutely no idea who he is. We won’t even get into the specifics of her not being nearly creeped out enough that this stranger knows her name, where she lives, and sends her expensive clothes. Bu again, he’s just wearing a mask as a disguise. Not a full-on chicken suit, not a mummy wrap (though those would make for some intriguing scenes of their own): just a mask. I’m sorry to say that my disbelief was not only not suspended, it was knocking me upside the head yelling at me to stop reading.


  1. “Instalove”


I have no problem with instant lust, or instant attraction. I also understand that this is a romance novel (and a Harlequin title to boot), which means that there has to be a happy ending. However, I think there can be a compromise here. Instead of blurting out “I love you” after they’ve known each other an entire week (if that) and spent many of those days either fighting over business or playing identity games, how about settling for a “let’s be together and see where this takes us”? Are those three little words really a requisite ending to every romance novel? This is an honest question, not at all snarky or sarcastic; I’m really curious to find out whether it’s a required element in writing romantic fiction. Because for me, added to the above issues, it just adds to the reasons why I don’t buy this love story.



  1. Style Issues


Finally, a few words about language. I’ll write a full post on this in the near future. But the preview goes something like this: if you are a writer, language is your tool set, and you need to know how it works. I’m tired of the excuse that goes something like “Well, the story is good, and there’s no need to be a snob about language.” Let’s try to transfer this to another profession: “Well, her office hours are good, and there’s no need to be a snob about anatomy.” No? How about “Well, he has a state-of-the art garage, and there’s no need to be a snob about knowing what’s under the hood.” My point being that writers, and editors, should know their language anatomy, and be able to identify word meanings and parts of speech. And, while they’re at it and because there’s some art to it, give us a little variety too.


But I digress. As a former lit prof, I unfortunately do notice language, and it’s something that can really turn me off a book. For example, Sinclair uses the expression “reign in” instead of “rein in,” which irks me both as a language snob and as a horse person. There are way too many one-sentence paragraphs, many with no verb in sight. Also, too many... ellipses, and many descriptions that were used over and over and over. Eyes were stormy; tongues and fingers were talented (I’ve never understood this last one). I normally don’t do a lot of highlighting on my Kindle, but I found myself underlining like crazy here.


I understand that, by the time an author has finished writing a book, the entire thing can become a blurry mess in her mind. It’s also true that, with our own writing, our brains tend to skip over errors, because we’re so familiar with the flow of the text. This is why we have proofreaders and editors and critique partners; I certainly made sure to hand over my dissertation and articles to a second (and often third) trusted set of eyes. By the time the writing is done, we’re tired and biased and often resistant to change. Again: editors and proofreaders are here to save the day. And now that I’m on the other side of the fence, as a proofreader, I realize just how many changes many manuscripts need, grammar or style wise; and how hard it can be for authors to accept these changes. But in the end, language can make or break a book for many readers; it definitely contributed to my negative opinion of Captivate Me.




So what’s the bottom line?  I think Captivate Me does have some appeal: the story moves at a good pace, and the sexual tension between Alyssa and Beckett makes for some great scenes (the Bacchanalia Ball is a fun, steamy chapter). However, the problems I’ve listed above kept me from really enjoying the story. I was almost tempted to not read the next novel in the bundle until I’d had a “palate cleanser,”, but I decided to give Harlequin Blaze a second chance. So on to Texas Outlaws: Cole. Should I be worried, though, that the heroine’s name is Nikki Barbie?


Source: fallenprof.blogspot.ca/2014/03/review-captivate-me-by-kira-sinclair.html
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