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review 2016-05-27 07:59
At First Sight
The Ugly Duckling Debutante - Rachel Van Dyken

I wrote a review, but my mom borrowed my computer and closed the browser before I saved it. My fault for not saving it. I wasn't that happy with the review, so here's my second chance.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and it almost got five stars, but things sort of fell apart around the climax. I don't like manufactured drama, and the blowup near the end felt like that to me. While I agree that keeping secrets from people and being dishonest is wrong, it was clear that the situation that makes Renwick blow up at Sara could have easily been resolved with a long discussion. That's why my rating went down to four stars.

Otherwise, this is a feel good Regency romance that makes me remember how much I love reading historical romance. Renwick is actually a Rake hero that I felt sorry and sympathetic for. He actually did all the rakish things that hurt his reputation, and what he did was pretty bad. But he suffered for it, was repentant about it and turned over a new leaf. Laying eyes on Sara was testing his resolve in the worst way. Sara was raised to believe she was as ugly as sin, and when people said she wasn't normal, she winced. The truth was she was ridiculously gorgeous. That reminded me of Lord Dain from Lord of Scoundrels, who believes he's ugly, but is merely gorgeous in an unconventional way. Sara's lack of self esteem is understandable, but I like that she is feisty too. She doesn't let Renwick walk all over her, although she is definitely susceptible to his allure (and who could blame her?).

I liked the humor a lot and the chemistry between Renwick and Sara is dazzling. They can't seem to keep their hands off each other. This is a fade to black kind of romance, and I did miss love scenes. I don't always have to have them, but in this case, the missing love scenes were a bit of a let down. I really rooted for their happy ending together, and that's part of why the Big Miss was so annoying to me. Fortunately, the story finds its feet and the ending is so lovely, with an awesome epilogue.

I would recommend this series to Kindle/ebook readers looking for good romance that you might never find in the print section of your bookstore and library. Renwick is scrumptious and not to be missed by those readers who have a weakness for rakes of the reformed or soon-to-be-reformed variety. Sara is the kind of historical heroine you can't help but love.

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review 2016-05-27 03:25
Evenly Matched
Glass Houses - Anne Stuart

This was a reread, but this is my first time reviewing it. I love this book. One of my old favorites. Michael is unapologetically arrogant and used to getting his way. His aggressive businessman tactics have gotten him to the top 50 wealthiest men, but he wants to be in the top ten. He's bought up sweet real estate all over New York, particularly in one area, to build his planned towers named after himself. But one building stands in his way, the Glass House. One stubborn woman refuses to sell it. He's going to have to go in person to convince her that the worst place for her to stand is in his way. He knows he can handle her, as long as he gives her something she really wants. He never expected her to be what he wanted all along.

Laura is one determined person. She might have grown up in a privileged family, but her life hasn't been easy, with self-absorbed, demanding, and immature parents. She's determined to hold onto the familial legacy her grandmother left her specifically because she'd keep it safe. And one bossy, ruthless businessman isn't going to convince her otherwise. Laura decided that she didn't want any messy love affairs since her disastrous first time, and when she settles down, it will be with a sweet, compliant, controllable man. Too bad she has the hots for a man that isn't so easily manipulated, and in fact, manages to get her to let go of her own sense of dominance over her world.

This old favorite of mine still stands up to reread. While the secondary romance between Laura's right hand woman Susan and Frank, a male model, isn't quite as dynamic as the push and pull between Laura and Michael, it's still very satisfying, an unrequited love story. You don't know if Frank has had a thing for Susan but didn't act on it for professional reasons, or if the recent events have clarified things for him and he realizes that his shallow lifestyle was a dead end one.

The spark and the attraction between Michael and Laura still sizzle after so many years. Laura is feisty and acerbic, but inside has a vulnerability that speaks to her lack of affirmation as a young girl. Michael is very much an alpha hero, and at times a bit on the edge of being a jerk. I think he retains his appeal for me (despite not being my type, not into businessmen really) because Laura can definitely handle him, and he wouldn't do well with a woman he was more accommodating. I liked that both characters realize that their life plans are based on a narrow focus with goals that aren't achievable, because human beings can't be controlled, and we can barely control ourselves most of the time. Even though Michael is the boardroom shark type who thinks he can have whatever he wants, not usually my favorite, he was very sexy and I liked that deep down he had a good heart and had his family roots which grounded him.

The POV of the new arrival to town who's supposed to be the next big face, but is morally bankrupt and calculating underneath her flawless beauty is a good counterpoint to the two romance stories. You realize that this woman can't love anyone other than herself, and the people in her life who don't know that, soon figure it out the hard way.

I read my ebook copy, which was released about a year ago. I couldn't tell if this was rewritten slightly, but I suspect it might have been. I don't remember the Harlequin American Romance books using the 'f' word or a-hole. I'm really glad that this was released as an ebook, because it was such a good wind-down from a long day to curl up in bed with my Kindle to read this.

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review 2016-05-17 21:14
Why You Gotta Be So Mean?
The Greek Tycoon's Unexpected Wife (In the Greek Tycoon's Bed) (Harlequin Presents Extra, #6) - Annie West

I would definitely take off points because the hero is a mega-jerk. He is so hateful to Tessa. I can understand his cyncism about women, but it's almost like he was angry that Tessa hadn't died as he thought previously. I think that Tessa was remarkably tolerant of Stavros. I really wanted her to stab him with a fork. No matter what she did, he perceived it in the worst light. I'm assuming he was sleeping around with other women while she was gone, but it's not directly stated. In this case, I wouldn't hold that against him, per se, because he thought she was dead. My big issue is how he's such a tool to her when it's apparent she couldn't be more different from the women in his past and his father's ex-wives. This is one of those books where I wished that the heroine had really left him and he had to jump through all kinds of hoops to get her back. Not enough groveling for my tastes. I thought the imagery was good, and Stavros had a really dark aura that scared Tessa, what you'd expect from a hero who was a very bad man, not just a tool. That was kind of interesting. I really like Anne West's books. She's a good writer. The hero was just too mean for my tastes in this one.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars

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review 2016-05-17 21:01
Secret Daughter Becomes Secret Wife
The Secret Wife (Presents) - Lynne Graham

This is one of the older Lynne Grahams that I read many moons ago, but I didn't remember most of it. It was a good reread. The hero in this was a jerk. I think Rosalie was nicer to him than he deserved, but she wasn't a pushover. He always managed to see her in the worst light, if not an avaricious femme fatale, than a spineless tart. I felt that he really did need to earn Rosalie's love. I like that he was so jealous of her roommate and friend, who was by all accounts, a beefcake. By the end, he was remorseful, but still a bit too high on the horse for my tastes. I like that his adopted mom guessed right away what was going on. That was pretty funny, considering all the changes they went through to hide the truth from her. Constantine would never be a favorite LG hero for me, but I really did enjoy Rosalie and I like that she held her own with him, or somewhat.

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review 2016-05-17 20:49
Love Began in London
One Evening in London - Rae Lori

A good short novella about giving love a chance after disappointment in the past. After being burned in a somewhat similar situation, Angela doesn't trust her attraction to the handsome British publishing executive at the launch party for her novel. She rebuffs him, but ends up talking to him. He's not free at the time, and while their attraction is mutual and potent, they can't act on it. But Angela gives him her number to contact her in the future, just as a friend. A year later, to her surprise, Paul looks her up and and encourages her to pursue a relationship with him now that he's free. Can Angela get past her past hurts and take a chance on a future with Paul?

Lori's writing is smooth and descriptive. Her characters are very likable even with realistic chinks in their respective armor. Paul is a sweetie. Who couldn't fall in love with him, and if you're into British men, then you'll be especially susceptible. I like how Lori uses Jazz music as a motif to illustrate Angela and Paul's developing romance. This is really too short to be more than a happy for now, which is not my favorite, to be honest. But their genuine feelings for each other feel right and made me hope for a future for them. I wish they hadn't gone to bed together so abruptly at the end, but otherwise, this book really works for a short dose of romance for a busy reader.

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