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review 2014-08-13 01:49
Got totally caught up in this; baseball hero, stalker plot, Florida setting
The Blue Paradise - Theo Fenraven

Opening Line: “Devin Carter had five days off thanks to a torn knee ligament, and he needed to get away from everyone and everything he knew, so he threw some clothes and a couple books in a bag, loaded the dog in the car, and drove down the gulf coast of Florida to Naples, where he picked up the Tamiami Trail.”

Wow, I totally got into this one, a real surprise as the story didn’t at all go where I was expecting it to and the love scenes were for the most part fade-to-black (which might explain some of the lower ratings?) Sure we get the usual hand jobs, blow jobs and make out sessions but except for a delicious “edging” scene (yup, learn something new every day in my M/M romances) our hero “makes love” and leaves the rest to our imaginations. Kinda refreshing.

Blue Paradise also gives us a creepy stalker plotline –which I didn’t see coming, and our hero is a professional baseball player. Yum! And wasn’t it fun going behind the scenes with him; locker rooms, agents, groupies etc. Giving me flashes of For Love Of The Game (without Kevin Costner) as he tries to break Barry Bonds homerun record on a failing knee. I should also mention the awesome Florida setting here; so well written that I could actually feel the humidly, smell the salt air and see the swaying palms. Total escapism and I loved it. This was a big hit for me and I’ll definitely be seeking out more from Theo Fenraven.

Professional baseball player Devin Carter is nursing a bad knee, benched by the team doctor he’s hoping a week’s rest in the Florida Keys will be just what his mind and body need to help him break the home run record when he returns for the remainder of the season. With no true direction in mind Devin just grabs his dog and hits the road, eventually checking into a non-descript hotel bungalow on the beach. It’s there at the Blue Paradise that Devin meets Jim, the grandson of the owner and the man he doesn’t know he’s been looking for.

Their affair is short lived but meaningful and when Devin returns to Sarasota they decide to keep it going over the phone. There isn’t any angst or unnecessary drama between Devin and Jim; it’s all very mature (that aspect has been saved up for Jorge.) Devin is still in the closet when it comes to the media and his teammates but otherwise quite secure in his sexuality so even though he’s never fooled around with a teammate before when the opportunity presents itself - and with Jim’s open minded blessing, he forges into unknown and potentially messy territory with the team’s new outfielder. And that’s when things get really interesting.

For a novella I managed to I got way caught up in the stalker aspect of this story and the utter helplessness Devin feels as his life crumbles around him. He can’t even go to his coach or the police without coming out, however as the violence escalates he also runs out of options. The bad guy here is nothing new or special but he still managed to make me hate him while upping the suspense level. My only real complaint here would be Dev and Jim’s initial meeting which just felt a little too easy and convenient but hey what do I know about gay hook ups?

Lastly I have to give a shout out to Rusty the dog who manages to get quite a bit of realistic page time. So much so that when the stalker starts threatening him I actually said to myself (and the author) you better not hurt the dog or I’m gunna stop reading and when I start talking to my books I know it’s good. Cheers

 

314jb4.5

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review 2014-06-18 00:41
Excllent bio -70's surf culture, survival story, and a bond between father & son
Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival (P.S.) - Norman Ollestad

Opening Line: “February 19,1979. At seven that morning my dad, his girlfriend Sandra and I took off from Santa Monica Airport headed for the mountains of Big Bear.”

Set amid the wild uninhibited surf culture of Malibu and Mexico in the late 1970’s, Crazy For The Storm is a fascinating memoir that was hard to put down. It centers around 11 year old Norman Ollestad and the complicated relationship he had with his father. Demanding, charismatic and free-spirited, it is ultimately the thrill-seeking lifestyle and continual test of skills that Norman Senior puts his son through which are responsible for saving his life, when the chartered Cessna carrying them to a ski championship goes down in the California mountains killing everyone else on board.

This devastated 11 year old must then descend the treacherous icy mountain alone. Relying on tools subconsciously learned from an early age and with the voice of his father echoing in his ears “Go for it Boy Wonder. You can do it.”

“The fog undulated, as if breathing and it lifted off the snow for a moment. Fifteen feet across the slope the pilot’s shoes wandered in disparate directions. His legs twisted in the snow. The hem of his shirt folded back and his belly was pale. Am I still asleep?”


Now obviously if I’m reading his memoir then I know that Norman survives but there is still a huge element of suspense maintained throughout this story. The initial scenes with the plane crash are so riveting that at first I was super annoyed when the author decided to start alternating chapters back and forth between his life leading up to the crash and the hours directly after, I wanted to stay at the crash site. I’ll admit though I soon became equally engrossed in Norman’s unusual upbringing in Topanga beach, with its hippie culture, surfing lifestyle and his Mothers alcoholic and often violent boyfriend. Plus you never knew what adventure his father was going to drag him on next.

There are several chapters devoted to a road trip he took into Mexico to deliver a washing machine to his grandparents. With his father’s mantra “This is life Ollestead,” they end up broke, on the run from trigger happy Federales and finally hiding out in a village eating mangoes and surfing the perfect waves while they try to figure out how to get their car fixed.

His father may have been a charmer but he had dubious ideas when it came to parenting (the cover photo shows Norman at about a year old strapped to his father’s back while he surfs) He often placed his son in danger to challenge him and Norman both resented and idolized him and in my opinion was more than a little afraid of him.

While the writing is fantastic it does tend to get a little technical with the skiing and snow terms and I had a hard time visualizing the crash site (the slope -a curtain of ice) so that I never really had a clear picture of what he was facing. From what I understand it does however contain some very good “surf writing”.

I’m a real fan of true-life survival stories but this turned out to be more than a tale of adventure. Powerful and unforgettable, at its heart this is the story about the complex bond between fathers and sons, nurturing and teaching and what we pass on to our children. Leaving me close to tears at the end as we watch a grown Norman teach his own son how to ski and face his fears. Cheers


377jb4.5
 
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review 2014-05-29 00:30
WARD'S excellent in this 3rd from her Moorehouse series
From the First - Jessica Bird

Opening Line: "Alex Moorehouse had no intention of answering the knock on the bedroom door."

         

I ve absolutely fallen in love with this series and From The First is now included as one of my all time favourite romances ever. It is book 3 in the Moorehouse Legacy which I discovered through being a fan of JR Ward and her Black Dagger Brotherhood. Each book just gets better and with this instalment we finally get wounded and grief stricken brother Alex`s story and wow its good.


Alex Moorehouse has been with us throughout as we watched his sisters find true love and I've always wondered about him. As the physically and emotionally injured sailing champion he was abrupt, harsh and distant. Spending time with a bottle while his shattered leg healed and his mood worsened. He reminds me of (for all you Ward fans) a delicious combination of Zsadist and Phury and how awesome is that!


Alex has been in love with his sailing partner and best friend Reese's wife for 6 long years and coveting her from afar is pure torture. On the rare occasions when he's forced to spend time with her, he's flat-out rude for fear that one of them will see the truth in his eyes. Ever since the accident Alex has been in a living hell because although Reese is now dead in Alex's mind his wife is still very much married and as much as he wants her he can never have her, she is forbidden.

Cassandra has just taken a new job overseeing the rebuilding of the Moorehouse B&B, she's looking forward to getting out of New York and spending some quiet time by the lake. Everything would be just perfect except for Alex. The eldest Moorehouse is still living on the property and as much as he unnerves her she's going to have to see him everyday. She just doesn't understand why he hates her so much? Why does he pull her closer one moment only to push her away in the next? And what secrets is he hiding behind those anguished yet yearning eyes? It's a winding road our couple face as the secrets pile up and one nights promise of passion spirals into a lifetime of wanting more. Will Cassandra still love him when she finds out the truth about the night her husband died? And will Alex ever be able to overcome the guilt and let her in if she does?

This is a great read that will have you will falling in love with Alex and through some clever writing on Bird's part be left wondering about the night Reese died until the very last chapter. There are also many familiar threads beginning here that were only brought to their full creation within the BDB and I can't recommend this series enough to Ward fans (and romance lovers alike) I would however recommend reading them in order. Cheers!

Here's the correct reading order
(The Moorehouse Legacy)
1-Beauty And The Black Sheep
2-His comfort and Joy
3-From The First
4-A Man In A Million

(The O'Banyon Brothers)Bird/Ward has never completed series
1-The Billionaire Next Door          
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review 2014-05-15 01:35
Or what you'll read when you're bored and trapped at a fishing cabin without power
The Stone Cold Truth - Steve Austin,J.R. Ross,Dennis Brent

Opening Line: Damn, I think I’m dying, dying for sure.

 

Okay first off this is not my usual reading fare (the cartoon skull at the beginning and end of each chapter should have clued me in) I’m not a Wrestling fan, I only knew who Stone Cold Steve Austin was because he was everywhere in the late 90’s and I have two younger brothers. In going over this book for my review I realized it was going to be very hard not to rip it to pieces what with all the skulls and awesome little quotes like this one:

 

“DTA, you stupid piece of trash. Don’t ever trust anybody. You ain’t gonna be my partner…never! ‘Cause you are a longhair freak, and you suck!

 -Austin to Mankind, after giving him the ‘stone cold stunner’ (which I now know how to do should I ever feel the need.)

 
Why did I read this you ask? Well you see I was trapped at a secluded fishing cabin for a week without power, in the rain and I ran out of stuff to read. This just happened to be lying around (I guess its good fishing material?) Anyways due to the short chapters, cold weather, absence of television and amount of cool pictures involved, before I knew it I was done. So I’m going to try to review this impartially, from the point of a 12 year old boy and wrestling fan. Which is I’m sure who it was aimed at, not a forty year old romance reader. Oh in case you were wondering the fishing was great.

  

 

We begin with Stone Cold preparing for his final fight in WrestleMania against The Rock (yum!) Steve’s having a bit of an episode from the amount of energy drinks and coffee he’s been ingesting and may just be having a heart attack. (FYI Chapter one is 8 pages long and contains 2 skulls, 3 almost full page photographs and a POV from his mentor Jim Ross) Then for Chapter two (which is 4 pages long) we go way back to the beginning, briefly following Austin’s childhood, growing up in Texas. He talks about his family, his brothers and love of sports; football and tennis in particular. Repeating often how important it is to respect and listen to your parents and stay in school. About 30 pages in Steve drops out of college and goes to Wrestling school and the rest as they say is history.

 

Well sort of. We also get tidbits from his early career when he was on the road and didn’t have any money, surviving on potatoes. Theres lots of stories about promoters and other wrestlers he met along the way into the WWF. He talks a bit about drugs and friends lost, feuds in the business and what really went down. We meet his first wife, second wife and third. We learn the story behind the “What?” gimmick, “Hell yeah”, the middle finger salute and why its more fun to be heel then a baby face (even though you’ll sell less merchandise) He also discusses his numerous injuries and what he would change about the wrestling business.

 

 In the end I think one of my biggest problems with this book was that it was just assumed that you knew all the background behind any of the stories he was telling, so he only ever told half the story. As a wrestling fan I’m sure the half you get is awesome but as someone reading it just for the biography aspect it was a little confusing. Can anyone tell me what he was on probation for? I also never felt like I got to know the real Steve Austin. There wasn’t any insight given into his personal life. As I said theres a ton of freaking photos, like every page, as well as wrestling quotes, letters and documents all interspersed with commentary from his mother, father and good friend Jim "J.R” Ross. oh and all the skulls.

 

And that’s the bottom line cause Stone Cold said so.

 

Cheers                       

 
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review 2014-05-05 01:37
One of my top tortured heroes of all time
Morning Side Of Dawn - Justine Davis

Opening line: "She was the most beautful thing he'd ever seen."

 

*Shame about these older Harlequin covers, they sure don't age very well*.

 

I have no idea where I picked this book up but what a fabulous find especially if you’re anything like me and have a soft spot for the wounded heroes. Written in 96 and the last in a trilogy (which I’m now actively searching for) TMSOD contains one of the most seriously shut-off and tortured heroes I’ve come across since JR Ward’s Zsadist.

 

 Dar Cordell is bitter, standoffish, intimidating and often just downright mean. Allowing precious few into his inner circle, and even those he manages to keep at arms length. Dar is also impossibly handsome, a superior athlete and a double leg amputee, preferring a wheelchair to his seldom used prosthetics. This is one hero with a serious chip on his shoulder, belittling and biting out at everyone while using his missing legs as an excuse to shut himself off from the world.

 

Still, Dar would have to be up there with my top tortured heroes of all time because given the right circumstances (as is the case here) this unlikely romantic lead quickly gains your sympathy. So that despite his attitude he becomes desirable as you gain understanding as to why he is the way he is. And as it turns out Dar’s issues have very little to do with his legs.

 

The actual story here is pretty standard Harlequin romance; following supermodel Cassie “Cassandra” Cameron as she grows tired of the superficial world of modeling and escapes to her brothers for a much needed vacation. Of course then we have her stalker, and when he catches up with Cassie the only place she has left to turn is to her brother’s friend Dar. Forcing this reluctant couple together while the police investigate.

 

                                             

 

I really liked Cassie, despite her supermodel status she reads like a real person, managing to call Dar on his crap, which is just what he needs. As it turns out she‘s just as stubborn as he is and faces some of the same issues too, with the public just assuming she’s nothing more then her looks.

The sparks really fly between this couple with a palpable level of sexual tension throughout, despite the fact that Dar continually pushes Cassie away because he just can’t believe she would ‘want’ him. However when they finally make it into bed lookout, its smoking hot and sweetly intimate.

 

You can definitely tell that Davis has done her research here as we learn about the different types of wheelchairs (Dar designs racing chairs) hand controlled driving, and what it feels like to be looked down on or just looked through. And because Cassie moves in with Dar we also learn about modified kitchens and bathrooms, wheelchair ramps and accessibility issues in general.

 

All in all I loved this story and if it wasn’t for the authors annoying overuse of the word “Chagrin” this would have been a 5 star read. Cheers people!

 

 

 

Okay this is Rick Hanson, I've had a crush on him since 1986 when he did his Man In Motion tour.

 

 Oh yeah our hero is an athlete too

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