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review 2015-03-24 22:38
All's Fair in Love and Seduction (The Elusive Lords, #2.5) - Beverley Kendall

Summary:

She hopes to gain his affections

For Miss Elizabeth Smith, sharing her first kiss with the charming Lord Derek Creswell is nothing short of a dream come true...that is, until she is spotted by one of the most influential gossips of the ton. With scandal nipping at her heels, to avoid total social ruin, Elizabeth must present a fiancé by the end of the Season. But when the viscount proves reluctant, Elizabeth is forced to employ a seduction of a different sort...

He is determined to ruin her

Viscount Derek Creswell believes Elizabeth set out to trap him into marriage. After all, her sister attempted the very same thing with his brother six years before. Now the delectable Miss Smith expects a betrothal and a ring, while Derek finds her ruination infinitely more appealing...

But as Derek sets out to seduce only her body, Elizabeth is intent on claiming his jaded heart.

 

Review:

TSTL heroine has held onto a teenage infatuation/obsession with the older brother of the guy who ruined her older sister. Heroine does stupid shit that makes her look conniving in the hopes of trapping said hero into marriage. She isn't conniving, just stupid and a liar. The author thinks that a lot of overly purple prose filled sexy times will somehow equate with a real love and HEA in the readers' minds. I think not. There is so much lying and game playing that when the couple do the "I love you" exchange, I don't buy any of it.

 

This book also has a prologue and three chapter excerpt of the next book. More lies (this time about a secret love child!) and more game playing. Luckily, the hero was smarter than the last hero and saw by looking at the child and the child's age that it was his son. Hero confronted heroine about her lies. I felt that I had read more than enough from this author to avoid her works in the future. 0 stars for everything I read.

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review 2014-07-13 08:23
Harlequin's More Than Words Series
Light This Candle - Cindy Dees

Another one read and done. Hated this one, so it makes it two in a row. However, if you like military romances/characters, please take my rantings in stride.  No star rating due to the nature of the story being based on a charity, but would not give any to this novella anyway. Once again, great kid character, but damn awful MCs.

 

The Charity: Patches of Light, Inc.

Mindy Atwood started the charity after the struggles her husband and her faced with two critically sick kids. They had a hard time meeting expenses and being their for their kids' doctor appointments, hospital stays, etc. Certain expenses are paid by donors.

 

Our mission at Patches of Light is to assist families with critically and terminally ill children so that they can remain together during their hospitalizations and treatments. Our funding is used to pay for past due mortgages, rent, and utilities. We provide phone cards, gas cards, grocery cards and parking tokens.  Patches of Light assists with emergencies such as: auto repairs, housing for long distance care, airline tickets, Ronald McDonald House fees, extermination and/or purification items for bone-marrow patients homes and much more.   

- For more information, click http://www.patchesoflight.org/.

 

Now the ranting can begin.

 

I hate military romances - and avoid them like the plague. Unfortunately, the blurb for this novella was about the charity and the More Than Words line of books, so I did not know about the military theme. So many authors get it so wrong -- little to no research! The author of this novella is a fellow USAF veteran, so I though I could deal with the military romance coming from a veteran.

 

Lesson Learned: nope, I can't deal.

 

The author was an officer, and the hero, Mitch, was major. The rank is important, because as the story starts, Mitch is on the tarmac getting off a cargo ship that brought him home from his deployment. As a major and newly returned from deployment, Mitch is making a shit ton of money and has no real outlet to spend it on. Until he meets the heroine, Cassidy.

Just pull the trigger now and get me out of my misery. Cassidy is everything I hate about civilian military spouses (who were not in the service at one time themselves). Cassidy is a young mother who is trying to save her sick 5 year old son from dying due to a heart defect. He needs a new one asap. In the meantime, she is spending loads of money she doesn't have on experimental treatments to give the kid more time on earth. She is also dealing with the death of her husband, a soldier in Mitch's unit, who died on the first day of the deployment.

Mitch goes to visit her, as the commander of the unit it is his job to visit the widows and assist as much as he can. He finds Cassidy in the hospital and meets Cody, the sick kid. They form a bond, etc, etc; kid gets sicker and sicker. Mitch spends lots of deployment money getting Cassidy's life back in order - he pays her bills (through the charity), fixes up her apartment, fixes her car, gets her a new cell phone so that the hospital can reach her anytime and anywhere.

 

Oy vey, this is one of the reasons I hate military romances. Military heroes tend to fix everything and are pushy about it (Mitch was no freaking exception); Cassidy did need to be rescued, but the problems stemmed from her piss poor decisions. Mitch is used to getting his way, people following his orders, and he basically takes control of Cassidy's life.

 

Cassidy is the epitome of the young military spouse (civilians, not veterans), and ones I avoid in real life as well as in my reading.

Here is everything you need to know about most military wives:

 

She and Jimmy had dated all the way through high school and married as soon as she'd turn eighteen. She'd moved from her parents' care to his care. He'd enlisted in the military and they'd immediately moved into base housing. He'd taken care of everything. Of her. The house. The car. The bills. Any crises that came along. (p. 48-49)

 

Never held a job, never lived on her own, always taken care of -- that is what a lot of young wives want from the military so that they don't have to learn the hard stuff about life and how to deal. Not even a college education or technical training, because they want to sit at home and have babies. Spare me.

 

The kid pulls through, because it is a Harlequin and anything less isn't a possibility. Cody is great and his scenes with Mitch made me tear up -- if this novella was about the budding father/son relationship between Cody and Mitch, I would have given it a good three stars. Cody receives a new heart from a child that was critically injured in a car accident and ultimately was taken off life support. Cassidy feels one second of pain for the family that would lose their child, then she is like "whatever, my kid is way more important." 

And even the last scene is so unbelievably callous that it makes sense that Cassidy and Mitch end up together because they are both prime assholes. In the last scene, Cody is in the recovery room after heart transplant surgery and Cassidy and Mitch go to see him. Mitch had proposed marriage (complete with mentioning lots of siblings for Cody!) to Cassidy in the waiting room, as Cody laid on the table with his chest open -- what timing there hero! Cassidy asks him for a little time to decide....but she doesn't wait long. As Cody is coming out of the anesthesia and opens his eyes to see his two favorite people; Cassidy asks Cody if it is alright with Cody if she marries Mitch.

 

 

Dumb bitch puts that on a 5 year old coming out of anesthesia...what? Cassidy can't make one fucking decision by herself - she needs every man, including her young son, to make the decisions for her! He gives them a thumbs up and everyone is happy - except me.  

 

One good thing came out of reading this -- I learned that children waiting on transplant lists need organs from children their own age ranges. Many parents can't/won't fathom a situation where their children is not going to live and sign their children up to be a donor. This gave me pause, because while I had no problem adding the organ donor badge to my license at sixteen, I never imagined signing my kids up. My husband and I have to seriously give the idea some thought, but I would feel like a hypocrite for advocating (among family and friends) others to be organ donors but not my kids.

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review 2014-07-11 01:10
A silly girl hikes the PCT
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed

Opening Line: “The trees were tall but I was taller, standing above them on a steep mountain slope in northern California.”

 

Wild was a very frustrating reading experience and I’m having a hard time understanding how this book received such high praise? Based on all those rave reviews I’d been expecting a “soul-enhancing, inspiring story” not an infuriating exercise on what not to do. I mean what kind of idiot decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone with zero backpacking experience and almost no money set aside for emergencies?

This is the kind of person that first-responders (i.e search & rescue) hate. Unprepared, inexperienced, naïve, a danger to themselves and just plain stupid. Getting into situations that require those first responders to risk their own lives in rescuing them because they didn’t do a little research and preparation. Granted Cheryl Strayed didn’t actually need rescuing but that was just dumb luck on her part.

I also almost lost my mind with the overuse of the word PCT. I get it you’re hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, I don’t need to see the acronym in every sentence, an average of 4-6 times a page, every page for the entire book. She also plugs “her bible” The Pacific Crest Trail volume 1 (and 2) writing the complete name of the book every couple of pages in case we forget what got her where she is.

“Was I on the PCT? All the while, I’d been searching for the small diamond-shaped PCT markers that were occasionally tacked to trees, but I hadn’t seen any. This wasn’t necessarily reason for alarm. I’d learned that the PCT markers weren’t to be relied upon. An hour later I saw a metal diamond that said PACIFIC CREST TRAIL tacked to a snowbound tree, and my body flooded with relief. I still didn’t know precisely where I was, but at least I knew I was on the PCT.”

Ultimately I had zero sympathy for this girl, in fact all she did was make me angry with her stupid decisions and (in the beginning chapters) depress me with the death of her mother, scattering of family members and dissolution of her marriage because she was sleeping around. Don’t even get me started on her lackadaisical, I’ve never tried it before decision to do heroin. I mean what could possibly go wrong there?

So after an abortion and with a fresh track mark on her leg from her last little experiment with H she decides to spend 3 months hiking from the Mojave Desert in California to Oregon in Washington State by herself.

This is still a hell of an adventure and I do have to give her full credit for finishing what she started and persevering through extreme conditions. I will also admit to actually enjoying the last 50 pages or so as Cheryl neared the end of her time on the PCT and seemed to come to terms with herself and find a sort of peace. The writing also improves in these chapters, becoming less repetitive or maybe I just got so used to seeing the word PCT I just didn’t see it anymore. PCT.
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-07-08 02:18
Fallen Angel
Fallen Angel - Elizabeth Thornton

It isn't often that I've pitched a book against a wall in frustration, disgust, and/or horror but Fallen Angel by Elizabeth Thornton holds that distinction.

 

First of all, Jason Verney, Viscount Deveryn, abhors"clever" women. He's already ditched one paramour, Mollie Drake, because she had the temerity to cap "one of the viscount's quotations from Shakespeare." Well, how dare she have a brain and use it!

 

There's his nickname: Fallen Angel. Apparently he has the appearance of one with his "flyaway hair the colour of new minted gold guineas, eyes like aquamarines, or was it sapphires?", his "gold-tipped lashes that fanned those wide-set enigmatic eyes with heart-stopping effect, and finely sculpted bones which gave him the look of an English thoroughbred." But it's his mouth that has all the ladies' hearts and parts fluttering with "full generous lips" and a slow smile guaranteed to "melt the ice in the coldest feminine heart." Puh-lease!

 

Jason had an affair with Cynthia Sinclair and now wants to end it. So he takes Dolly Ramides, an opera dancer, for a ride in Hyde Park as a message to all the gossips and to the lady herself that it's over. Cynthia, you see, wife of Donald Sinclair and stepmother of Madeleina "Maddie" Sinclair, is becoming a nuisance and though he's not particularly bothered by sleeping with a married woman, he's pissed off that she misled him into believing she and her husband went their separate ways. Splitting hairs much?

 

Deveryn claims to have fallen in love at first sight with Maddie. Without knowing her name. Without knowing why she calls him "Malcolm" as they engage in a lip lock. Without knowing one single solitary thing about her. Is she married? Engaged? Is she underage? Dying of some dread disease? None of this matters except this one thing: he must put his tongue in her mouth.

 

Maddie is supposedly a smart woman, a "bluestocking", working on a translation of Euripedes' Medea, and yet I didn't see one iota of that vaunted intelligence in her dealings with Deveryn. So she gives a talk in London on the powerlessness of women, gives a set down to complacent males whose worlds revolve around begetting of heirs, but not once did she exercise her brain to find out more about marriage by declaration or investigate her father's debts or death. She just lets herself be swept along by the whims of dear old dad, by Deveryn, and by her grandfather. Where's the intelligence in that?

 

Maddie and Deveryn's first encounter was laughable and, frankly, incredible. She goes out in a snow storm, searching for Malcolm, her friend and the minister's son, sees a "halo" of fair hair by the parish gates, leaps off Banshee (her horse), throws herself into "Malcolm's" arms and begs him to kiss her. Really!? She never once suspects she's locked in a passionate embrace with a stranger. Of course, it's NOT Malcolm, you idiot!

 

Or how about Maddie's incomprehensible, muddled feelings for Jason? She loves him. Wait, no! She hates him! Yes, that's it. Or maybe she loves him a little but she really doesn't like him. That's close to the truth. No, no, she hates him again. Let me settle it for you, Maddie. I hate him. I don't like him, I don't love him, I can't find one single solitary thing to redeem his asshole-ness.

 

Their first sexual encounter is nothing more than rape IMHO. Maddie has stupidly gone off alone, looking for her dog, tumbled off Banshee into a swollen freezing ford, found shelter in a deserted bothy, and promptly fallen asleep only to awaken to an irate Jason. Jason, enraged that she disobeyed him (yes, disobeyed!) and suspicious that Maddie had crept off to tryst with Malcolm, finds her, calls her a "slut", tells her she can forget his offer of marriage, and strips naked. Maddie plays sultry seductress to lure Jason closer while fielding an empty bottle to cosh him over the head and runs to mount Banshee. Jason whistles for his mount who blocks the path, circles Maddie and her mount like a sheep dog herding sheep, cutting off escape. Of course, Jason grabs her, carries her back to the bothy, dumps her on the floor, and calls forth that age old endearment so many cave men had muttered when meeting resistance from cave women - "bitch".

 

"There was never any doubt in her mind that his motive was punitive. There was nothing of the tender lover who had seduced her to willingness in the darkened nave of the church. His lips burned, his hands bruised, and he used his body like a weapon to subdue her. (...)

Her puny strength was no match against his. His weight was smothering,permitting her little movement. But what little was left to her, she used to convey her utter contempt for the hurt he was inflicting." (P. 125)

 

But wait, there's more. As some of his anger abates, she notes a softening of his lips, the relaxation of his muscles, the gentling of his hands. She commands him to let her go. He does not.

 

Now he's angry again that she is still resisting him when, as he believes, she didn't resist Malcolm. He magnanimously decides he'll "get over" that she's an experienced woman in time. (Isn't he a prince?) He's angry that she's "enslaved" him and vows:

 

"By God, when he had finished with her, he'd make her his slave!" (P. 125)

 

Isn't this romantic? It's no wonder he's got such a rep with the ladies.

 

"He threw himself on top of her before she had a chance to escape him. His mouth closed over hers with restrained savagery, persuasive, pleasuring, unyielding. When she tried to drag her head away to evade the scorching heat of that embrace, his hand grasped her chin, opening her mouth wider, and his tongue forced its way between her teeth to penetrate to the sweet moistness within. That one wanton act of possession had an electrifying effect on him. Deveryn lost control." (P. 126)

 

When she tries to stop him removing her chemise and cannot, Maddie acknowledges she was mistaken in crediting him with a few redeeming qualities, like any tender emotions for her. Deveryn strips her, and he continues even though he feels her trembling in fear, attempting to cover herself. Despite his doubts about her experience, he forges ahead. Maddie tells him no, flings his hand away. He grasps her wrists.

 

"'Love,' he said softly, 'forgive me. This will hurt. But only the first time. I'll never hurt you again. I swear it.'

The reassuring words were at first unintelligible to Maddie. A moment later, she grasped the full import of their significance. There had never been any doubt in his mind of her innocence. He had used her friendship with Malcolm as a convenient excuse to wreak his will on her." (P. 128)

 

When she tells him defiantly that he's not her first, Devryn rapes her. She scratches and claws him without effect. He then tries futilely to "coax her to passion again", but she is unresponsive. (Gee, I wonder why?) Afterward, he isn't remorseful: "How could you do this to me?" are the first words he utters. While Maddie did want him to hurt her as "an antidote to passion", she rightly calls him on what he's done. He's unapologetic, blames his jealousy, her alleged betrayal, blames her.

 

"I've never had a moment's peace since you forced yourself into my life. You've robbed me of my desire for other women; made me dissatisfied with my lot, (...)you've made me act contrary to my own principles. What more can you do to me?" (P. 130)

 

Later, many days later, Jason recalls the events in the bothy, and makes an astoundingly appalling assertion:

 

"The word rape flashed into his mind. He vigorously suppressed it, substituting the far more tolerable seduction. (...) Never, he promised himself, never would he ever again subject her to a side of his nature that made him a stranger to himself." (P. 165)

 

And there's the consummation scene between Maddie and Deveryn. Jason orders Maddie to "open her legs", but she tightens them against him. He tells her they must consummate their marriage, "male fashion", that she must "close [her] eyes and think of . . . Scotland." A few caresses and Jason is "done with gentling her."

 

The rest of Fallen Angel isn't any better. There are many more scenes of so-called "seduction" with Maddie offering token resistance and then giving in to "passion." There's a weird dialogue Maddie's and Jason's eyes hold while she gives her powerlessness of women speech. Somehow he has divined just by looking at her that she's pregnant:

 

"Then Devryn blazed with sudden, heart-stopping comprehension. Is it true? his eyes hotly demanded.

He saw her poise as if to take flight (...)

Her eyes blazed a reply. Yes, it's true." (P. 333)

 

Weird, don't you think?

 

At any rate, Fallen Angel was a complete, utter failure for me. There is usually something I can find to highlight as a redemptive quality in most books that don't quite work for me, but not this time.

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review 2014-05-20 23:59
Yummy -Lords of the underworld
The Darkest Night - Gena Showalter

Opening line: " Every night death came, slowly, painfully, and every morning Maddox awoke in bed, knowing he'd have to die again later.

 

 As a fan of paranormal romance and in particular JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood my searches for what to read next kept taking me to this series. That's not to say the two are comparable, but if you like continuing story arcs with multiple character POV's, hot, sexy love scenes, the occasional bloody fight and tortured yet strong alpha males who become kittens once they meet their prospective mates then you might like this too.

 

The premise for Gena Showalter's world is quite elaborate. Centuries ago a group of immortal warriors released the demons from Pandora's Box. (Yes the Pandora's Box) As punishment the Greek gods cursed the warriors, forcing each to act as host to one of the demons, sort of like a duo personality. Maddox, this books hero is the keeper of violence and because he was unable to control his demon in the beginning and killed Pandora. (Yes the Pandora) Maddox was additionally cursed to die each night at the hands of his fellow warriors, burning in the pits of hell until morning (which can`t be fun) The Lords of the underworld now live in a secluded castle in Budapest, each struggling to coexist with their own personal demon. The other warriors possess things like disease, wrath, death, pain, doubt, promiscuity, lies, and disaster, all of whom getting their own book as the series progresses.
 

 

Our heroine here is Ashlyn Darrow. She works for the World institute of Parapsychology and has come to Budapest with her team to investigate the warriors. Poor Ashlyn has a curse of her, born with the ability to hear any conversation that has ever taken place in the location where she is standing. These voices in her head have ruined her life and she'd do anything for a moment's silence. Maddox finds Ashlyn in the woods outside the castle and even though he thinks she's `bait' sent by the `hunters' (bad guys) he is instantly drawn to her. For Ashlyn it's a miracle, because even though she finds this violent and bloody (he's just killed some hunters) man terrifying the voices have stopped. Now she can't bear to be separated from him and Maddox can't help himself either (they never can) carrying her back to the castle and into his chambers. Of course he's going to have to explain himself to the other men, if he can leave Ashlyn's side long enough and what happens at midnight when his friends have to kill him? That's sure to put a damper on the ole love life.

 

 

The premise for this series is original and exciting and I will definitely be continuing on, despite the fact at times I was overwhelmed by Greek Mythology and couldn't keep track of who was who and cursed with which demon. I also had trouble with Ashlyn and found her to be written too young and virginal to ever handle a man like Maddox (maybe I was just jealous though?)

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