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review 2018-03-24 10:30
Kiss of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
Kiss of the Highlander (Highlander, #4) - Karen Marie Moning

Gwen Cassidy, virgin extraordinaire, wants to be a virgin no more. That's why she's in Scotland on vacation—she's looking for her cherry popper. Unfortunately, she ends up on a seniors bus tour of Scotland and right when she's quit smoking.

To get away from her travel companions, she goes on a short trek in the hills above Loch Ness only to end up chasing her backpack into a ravine, and ending up in a cave, on top of a male body. A warm, hunky male body. A warm, hunky, hard male body. And he doesn't seem to mind.

Pity, the kilt-clad Highlander isn't entirely sane, trying to convince her he's from the sixteenth century and literally kidnapping her to help him get back to his home.

Unfortunately, this is the second worst book in this series for me (after Beyond the Highland Mist). It's not that it's badly written, slow of pace or that the story is weak. It's the "conflict" and its span that bothers me.
For the first hundred or so pages, she's the stubborn one, refusing to believe him, thinking he's crazy...Then she falls for him (after mere three days of acquaintance), gives him her virginity (because we have to keep the reader engaged; sex is the best way)...And for the next hundred pages or so, the roles are completely reversed, with him being stubborn, refusing to believe her and thinking her crazy, while she takes on the role of "sexual pursuer", determined to seduce him (like he did in the beginning), while he secretly lusts for her (as she did in the beginning).

It went on for too long, this back and forth, not really adding depth or "crunch" to the story. Instead of spending that (unnecessary) time by giving depth and layers to the characters, providing much needed information to the reader as to why these two were in love (personality and personality traits, character etc.), these two hundred plus pages are spent with one of the other trying to change the other's mind, while drooling over the other's body. And in the end, poof, they're just in love.
Why? Because they're just too stubborn to give up? Because they're hot enough for the other to notice? Because they're open-minded enough to accept even the least possible explanations? I don't get it, and it bothers me.

The second thing that really bothered me, was the initial "incarnation" of the heroine. At the beginning, this supposed genius, came across as an air-headed, desperate virgin with only sex on her mind. She was twenty-five, not fifty-five, yet so desperate she was willing to toss her cherry at a complete stranger just to get rid of it.
The third problem was the hero. Sure, he was chivalrous, sexy, smart, tender, etc....Every character trait a hero in a romance novel should have was there, with that added dash of blind hard-headedness toward the end, but he still somehow came across as bland. He was a template, a form filled to perfection, but that was it.

Then there were their antics in the second half of the story, where she tried to pin him down to tell him the story, and he kept eluding her, going so far as jumping out the window, until she finally managed to trap him.
These attempts might've started off as slightly humorous, but quickly turned pathetic and too desperate for comfort.

This book also had its redeeming qualities (luckily). The "magic" elements, the wonderful supporting cast (with Silvan, Nell, and, of course, Dageus, the Dark Highlander, topping the list), and the enchanting setting of Alba. And yes, those pages where all was good between Gwen and Drustan, where they were on the same wavelength, woke up the romantic in me, and I was willing to suspend my disbelief for those moments (we all need those "aww, how cute is that" moments in our lives and our fiction).

Yeah, even on this second read, I had difficulties with this book. It's a wonderful romance story in all, but it could've been so much more.

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review 2018-03-24 09:43
The Pride of the Peacock
The Pride of the Peacock - Victoria Holt

My rating is an attempt at objectivity.  Objectively speaking, this is a very well-written romantic suspense, heavy on the romance.  I believe it to be everything that was beloved of romances in the 60's and 70's.  It was very well plotted and a great deal of care was taken with both atmosphere and characterisations.


Thus ends objectivity.  I disliked this book.  It is the embodiment of everything I find tedious in romances, in spite of wanting to enjoy them.  The whole misunderstanding / lack of communication trope makes me want to set fire to the book as I'm reading it.  It would take an emotionally neglected and abused protagonist to find the romantic interest in this book romantic or heroic in the least.  He was vain, arrogant and stupid.  She was just stupid, although I give her credit for being a smart-ass.


The setting for the first half of the book was England, and the second half in an Australian opal mining town, during a time before combustion engines and electricity were a thing (no specific date is ever named in the book).  I thought at first this would be a saving grace, because I'm moderately interested in opals.  But Holt was apparently obsessed with them, and her characters were mad about them.  There was so much obsessing and evangelising about the damn opals.  Holt was too heavy handed and went too far; by the end she'd almost killed any interest I had in them at the start. 


A true connoisseur of the romance genre might enjoy this for the nostalgia if not for the good story behind it (and it is a good story).  Me, I'm going back to my wheelhouse of murder and mayhem for awhile, before getting back up on this genre-horse.


This book works for the Kill Your Darlings game card Crime Scene: Pemberley.  "Pride" being in the title of the book.

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review 2018-03-23 21:06
What It Looks Like by Matthew J. Metzger Review
What It Looks Like - Matthew J. Metzger

Eli Bell is the only son of a police chief inspector and a forensic scientist. He's grown up wonky in a world that only deals with the straight and narrow -- and his new boyfriend isn't helping.

Rob Hawkes is six feet of muscle, tattoos, and arrest warrants. A career criminal and a former tenant of Her Majesty's Prison Service, he'd rather hit Eli's parents than sit down to dinner with them. One wrong move, and Rob could destroy Eli -- and his family -- without a second thought.

But this isn't what it looks like.

Rob's not in control here -- and Eli's the one to blame.




This book is a bit of a wild ride. Both Rob and Eli have explosive tempers. They fight. With each other and in Eli's case with his family members. 

There are class difference and some star crossed issue to clear up. The BDSM parts were a bit intense for me but I bought into the love between the heroes.

The portions of the book that dealt with transgender identify and family emotionially connected as did the discussion of police and public relations. 

The resolution to the conflicts was a bit over the top but in here is tucked a pretty good love story.

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review 2018-03-23 19:21
The Surprise Bride saved by a Heartbroken Indian, Faith Johnson

I really enjoyed this Western Historical Romance. I voluntarily chose to review this and I gave it a 5* rating. This clean read, has a bit of action in it, some good guys and at least one bad guy. I really liked the dynamics of the story. It wasn't real long but ending with a good feeling.

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review 2018-03-23 17:48
Engaged, Julie Arduini
I really enjoyed this clean romance. I received this for free and I voluntarily chose to review it. I've given it a 4.5* rating. This heroine is pretty fiesty yet she learns to stand up for herself. Lots of back and forth with the hero. Add a dash of Mother Nature stiring up things, there is lots going on.


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