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review 2017-06-20 02:42
Midnight Angel
Midnight Angel - Lisa Kleypas

If you liked this book.....don't read this. Rant ahead. You have been warned.
Taisa was found guilty of a murder she has no memory of. Sentenced to death, she manages to fake her death and travels to England to take refuge with her cousin and her husband. She finds employment with a friend of theirs as a governess to his 12 year old daughter.
I love LK books. This sounded like my cup of tea. Well, this sucked ass instead and I found myself still reading. It was like that car accident that everyone slows down to look at, because you can't not look at it!
My complaints:
Their ages. I was fine when I thought she was 22 to his 34. Then I find out she's really 18 and her closeness in age to Emma (Luke's daughter) is brought up. A lot. I wasn't crazy about reading about the hero having sex with someone else. I didn't believe in their romance. At about 20% in and they don't like each other to about 40% in and they are in love. Give. Me. A. Break!
I HATED Luke. He is mean, inconsiderate, stupid (there's still a kidnapping!), and overall Alpha-asshole. This is a description of his for Taisa: "She was sly, mysterious, haughty....all the qualities of a car. He hated cats." There's the confrontation with Tasia when he dismisses Nan for getting pregnant- but the baby daddy gets to keep his job. "Luke strode around his desk with a snarl, catching the front of her bodice in his large hand. She gave a whimper of fear. Luke shook her briefly, like a dog with a rat. You obey me without question." It goes on to say how turned on he gets holding Tasia off the ground. "There was a responsive ache in his groin....."
Then there is this before the fall in lust (oops, I mean love). "He had deliberately ignored her. Beneath his cool self-possession there had been something tightly reined and threatening."
Then (yes there's more) the threat of assault and rape: "I'm coming to your room tonight," he said after one particularly heated episode..." "I'll lock the door." I'll break it down." and this towards the end: "I'll tough you whenever and however I want," Luke said harshly. "Don't push me too far, Tasia...or you'll regret it." "He won't beat me," Tasia said, though privately she had her doubts." Luke's a catch don't you think?
The best thing about this book was Emma. I read some reviews for her book and I'm not going to read it since I think I will have similar issues with it. I won't be reading LK's earlier books. This sucked ass.

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review 2017-05-20 17:05
Cold-hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas
Cold-Hearted Rake - Lisa Kleypas

This is my first Lisa Kleypas, and it won't be my last. Very Heyerish with a bad-tempered rake who needs taming, and a heroine who refuses to be tamed. And a sub-plot that's the same. Quite enjoyable, with lots of historical detail. I like that it takes place when railroads were being introduced to England, and the old aristocracy were being forced to cope with a modern world that was undermining their old way of life. Quite a bit of bonking, but I skimmed rather than skipped, because it dealt with the heroine drawing boundaries, and the rake respecting them. Here's the blurb: 

 

A twist of fate . . .

Devon Ravenel, London's most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl's three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon's own.

A clash of wills . . .

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she's ever known?

 

 

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review 2017-05-19 21:50
The Devil in Spring ★★★☆☆
Devil in Spring (Kleypas) - Lisa Kleypas

This book was a little disappointing, relative to the others in the series. I’m not sure why. The heroine was both strong and adorable, the hero was both strong and sensitive, and I was pleased that the story didn’t stop at the wedding, as so many stories do.

 

But…

 

The heroine’s quirkiness seemed a little cloying. The hero’s willingness to adapt and accept strained my ability to suspend disbelief, even knowing that I have to exercise more determination in this area when I read in this genre. Maybe I’ve just had my fill of Romance (capital R) for now and need to spend some time away from the genre.

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library. Once again, Mary Jane Wells provides an excellent performance.

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review 2017-05-18 21:23
Love Spell
Crystal Cove - Lisa Kleypas

We started this on audio, but I finished it on kindle. I liked this one a lot more than many of Kleypas fans. In fact, I liked it quite a bit. I probably helped that I didn't have high expectations. I liked Justine from the other books, but I wasn't particularly attached to her character. She seemed a bit shallow but kind in the other books. I have the feeling that Kleypas didn't have Justine's character fleshed out initially. She must have spent some time with Justine in between Dream Lake and this book and came up with who we see in Crystal Cove.

As Kleypas continues the magical realism theme in this series, this one is very much "Practical Magic." I love the book and the movie, and Kleypas does it justice, with her own spin. Justine is a hereditary witch. She's not heavily into it, although she does at times do some minor spellwork. Justine realizes that the reason why she's hasn't had luck with love is because her mother cursed her to never fall in love. Justine does a spell of her own to remove the geas. This backfires. In the meantime, she meets Jason Black, a billionaire badboy tech genius who buys up Alex Nolan's land to build a retreat for his business. Jason stays at her inn and there is an instant attraction between them. Jason is the kind of man who is dangerous to a woman. He has no concept of love or commitment. And he has a good reason. He has no soul. I can't say that all of Jason's issues arise out of his souless status. It's moreso due to his abusive father and how he treated his mother. I liked that Jason is part Japanese and this culture is part of who he is. They both share some family trauma. Justine's mother is a horrible person. Jason's dad is a horrible person. Both have been shaped by their horrible parents.

What an interesting combination.

I didnt' really get the whole no soul thing. It was pretty darn real. It doesn't make sense for my own spiritual perspective. But okay, I just went along with it. The witchcraft thing is something that you can idea ignore or embrace, but if it's a hard limit, this isn't the book for that reader. Since Kleypas is going with "Practical Magic", it's hard to not have it in this book.

Like always, Kleypas' writing is beautiful and immersive. Jason has a bit of a kinky thing going on with the bedroom, but it's not out of my personal comfort zone. He has some control issues, and that thing he's into delves into this aspect of his personality. Out of the books in Friday Harbor series, this book is the most sexually explicit, but it makes sense with the characters in the book.

I have to admit, I really believed in the love that developed between Jason and Justine. They are both cynical about love, so it's so beautiful the way it develops between them, and it's a sacrificial love. The conclusion is both strange but also very beautiful.

I liked this book a lot more than I expected. I ended up falling for Justine and Jason. While witchy romance isn't my favorite kind of paranormal romance, I think that Kleypas served up a lovely one here. I definitely preferred this to Rainshadow Road. The character of Jason has so much more substance than Sam, in my opinion. I think I prefer Justine to Lucy as well.

My Friday Harbor Book Preference:

1. Dream Lake
2. Crystal Cove
3. Christmas at Friday Harbor
4. Rainshadow Road

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review 2017-05-18 07:35
Learning to Live
Dream Lake - Lisa Kleypas

Dream Lake Review (finally)

I was excited to read Alex’s story and I was not disappointed. Alex out of all the Nolans grabbed my heart and squeezed it, wouldn’t let it go. Alex has traits that make him my kryptonite. I adored him. He’s tortured and grumpy. He’s described as having a ruined beauty that women can’t resist, but he’s not a womanizer. While having a broken beau is nothing a woman should aspire to in life, broken heroes seem to appeal to me like no other. I loved seeing Alex’s damaged psyche be healed in a realistic way. Kleypas doesn’t take any shortcuts. She shows you all the dark spots on Alex’s soul, even his destructive, unhealthy relationship with his ex-wife, Darcy. While Zoe in herself doesn’t heal Alex, the functionality of their relationship is a sharp contrast to his failed marriage. While Darcy seemed to want to put Alex back on the rails with his drinking, Zoe wants Alex to be whole and healed, not for herself, but for him. When Alex and Zoe meet in Rainshadow Road, it felt like magic to me, and it turned out to be the case. Zoe and Alex are made for each other. Zoe is fairly well balanced. She does have some self-esteem issues due to her extreme beauty and voluptuous physique, and the trauma of being judged for it. To the extent that she marries a man who is gay because he doesn’t objectify her. While Alex is obviously completely blown away by Zoe, he doesn’t treat her like a sex object, and in actuality, tries to push her away because he knows he’s damaged goods. However, the connection between them cannot be ignored. I ate up their falling in love. Enjoyed every scene they had together. Zoe’s major issue is the failing health of her grandmother. Her grandmother has a form of dementia that escalates rapidly, and Zoe takes on the role as caregiver. Alex takes on the job of remodeling the cottage that Zoe’s cousin Justine lets her live in with her grandmother. Their proximity is an excellent opportunity for the powerful emotions between them to blossom. And in seeing each other under their worst situations, they realize that love isn’t about perfection but about loving perfectly.

Kleypas was going for a magical realism theme with this series, and this book reminded me of “Like Water for Chocolate” or “Simply Irresistible” with some “Ghost” thrown in. Zoe’s cooking seems to have healing properties, although I don’t think there was really any magic in it. It was merely a case of the fact that her food was what sustained Alex and tempted him to eat when he was at the lowest point in his alcoholism. The ghost angle comes in with the spirit that attaches himself to Alex, a spirit that lives in the house that Alex’s brother Sam owns and that Alex has taken on restoring. Alex seems driven to restore the house, and the spirit becomes attached to Alex in the process. It’s hate at first sight. The spirit can’t stand Alex, who comes off as a complete misanthrope if not nihilist. It’s Alex’s hero’s journey to heal spiritually and to rid himself of the dark cloud that has surrounded him since his traumatic childhood, being victimized by two violent, unrestrained drunks. I don’t know what Kleypas’ spiritual beliefs are but she see doesn’t shy away from adding a spiritual component to this novel, that make sense in that we’re dealing with a ghost and a hero who is having a major existential crisis. The ghost often functions as Alex’s conscience and in some ways, much like the ghosts that visit Ebeneezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol.” This is another book in which Kleypas obvious love of literature is showcased and lovingly inscribed into her writing.

This book is my favorite out of the series, and it earns a resounding five stars. I think that it captures the tone and the notes of a beautiful contemporary romance only as Kleypas could deliver. She uses language so beautifully, from the well-developed characters, to the intentional and spot on dialogue. While the ghost story didn’t really add to this book for me, it’s integral to the story, and it would definitely appeal to readers who like a little paranormal in their romance. Not as excited about Justine’s book, but at the same time, looking forward to reading it.

Oh, I guess I should mention the audiobook narration. It was good. Serviceable.

My dream cast:

Kelli Garner as Zoe

Nicholas Hoult as Alex

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