Tag: 2.5 Reviews

Guest Review: Maulever Hall by Jane Aiken Hodge

Posted June 7, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Maulever Hall by Jane Aiken HodgeReviewer: Tracy
Maulever Hall by Jane Aiken Hodge
Published by Ipso Books
Publication Date: May 17, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 256
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
two-half-stars

After a violent coach accident, Marianne wakes with no memory and no idea who she is or where she was going — a name on her brooch the single clue to her identity.

Accompanied only by a young boy, Marianne finds herself lost, afraid, and penniless. Convinced she’s being followed, she pleads for help at the nearest village and is offered refuge by a lonely widow at her grand country home, Maulever Hall.

Marianne settles into life at the Hall, finding fast companionship with Mrs Mauleverer. The days pass and no hint of memory returns, but Marianne’s need for answers is growing urgent. An unexpected visit from Mrs Mauleverer’s aloof son, Mark and his soon-to-be-betrothed, Lady Heverdon has thrown life at the Hall into disarray. They suspect Marianne has come into their lives under false pretences. But the longer she spends with Lady Heverdon, the more Marianne becomes convinced the opposite may be true.

As tensions within the family rise, and Marianne finds herself growing closer to Mark, she begins to wonder whether her arrival at Maulever Hall may have more to do with fate than chance.

Marianne has amnesia.  She woke up riding in a mail coach and was told by the other passengers that there had been an accident.  Not only does she not remember the accident, she doesn’t remember who she is or who the little boy is who is next to her.  The brooch on her dress says “Marianne” so she assumes that’s her name.  She had originally instructed the coachman to leave her and the boy (who the passengers say is named Thomas) off at a crossroads where they don’t normally stop.  When they are let out, she has no idea why she’s there or if anyone was to meet her.  She walks miles before coming to a small village. She decides to head to the vicarage, hoping that the vicar will take her and the boy in as it’s pouring rain.  The vicar is anything but welcoming and is affronted that she has the gall to ask for help. (How did this guy become a priest?) Luckily for Marianne there is a woman visiting the vicar who is far nicer and states she’ll take her and the boy in.  Marianne and Thomas settle in to Maulever Hall and Marianne becomes a sort of companion to Mrs. Mauleverer, the woman who took her in.  Marianne still has no clue who she is and no matter how hard she tries, she can’t remember.  Determined to discover who she is, Marianne combs the countryside for clues but only finds a new friend in an older woman.

Mrs. Mauleverer’s son, Mark, shows up with a woman who was married to his cousin.  The cousin and her step-son have just died and she’s trying to find her way.  Mark seems smitten with Lady Heverdon and not so much with Marianne.  He doesn’t treat Marianne all that well and is suspicious of the reasons she’s there.

While I found the blurb of this book incredibly intriguing, unfortunately I didn’t find the story to be all that good.  There are large portions of the book where nothing much happens and the story dragged.   Marianne was not my type of heroine.  She made unwise decisions over and over but the author tried to make her seem like she was the key that held everything together. I didn’t see that – I found her incredibly gullible and easily swayed to the point of view of whoever she was talking to.  It was a bit frustrating, I must say.  She did have her own thoughts at times, but I found those to be few and far between.

Mark is the “hero” of the story but he was an ass.  He treated Marianne like dirt but then suddenly they were professing their undying love for each other. What?  There was no romance, no build up, nothing – just sudden undying love.  Made me crazy.

When Marianne finally gets clues to who she is does she trust the man she just professed her love to?  No!  She run,s and then it’s almost like a whole other small book was inserted in – I just didn’t like it.  Then there’s the boy who she pretty much fobbed off on one of the Maulever Hall maids.  Thomas is hardly mentioned at all and until later in the book couldn’t quite figure out why he was included at all since Marianne had nothing to do with him.

In the end I found I didn’t care for the book all that much and can’t say I recommend it.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

two-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: Not Quite Crazy by Catherine Bybee

Posted June 4, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Not Quite Crazy by Catherine BybeeReviewer: Holly
Not Quite Crazy (Not Quite, #6) by Catherine Bybee
Series: Not Quite #6
Published by Montlake Romance
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 315
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
two-half-stars

From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Bybee comes the sixth novel in the warm and witty Not Quite series.

No one drives in New York City. Everyone knows that, including California transplant Rachel Price. But that doesn’t stop her from driving into the city. From Connecticut. Every single morning. Rain or shine…or snow.

When she runs the charismatic and good-looking Jason Fairchild off the road, their immediate spark is met with bad timing. There is also one tiny little detail: Jason is her boss. And a woman as intelligent and dedicated to her career as Rachel knows not to date her boss.

As CEO of a private jet company, Jason Fairchild is more used to flying than driving. But if he hadn’t chosen to drive home one night, he wouldn’t have met the slowest—and most irresistible—driver in the entire metro area. Jason has never had time for love. Or dating. Or really anything that doesn’t involve work. But when he finds out that Rachel is the newest superstar in his marketing department, he can’t help wondering if fate has other plans…

Not Quite Crazy the sixth book Bybee’s Not Quite series. I didn’t read any of the previous ones. I don’t feel like I missed out on much by skipping the other books, though the “happy couples want everyone happy” bits got kind of annoying.

I really liked Rachel and Jason together. She has guardianship of her deceased best friend’s son, Owen, and I really liked him as well. The three of them together had a great family relationship. Sadly, there wasn’t enough of Rachel and Jason, nor the three of them together to make this work.

Neither of the central conflicts of the plot worked for me.

1) Jason is the owner of the company and therefore Rachel’s boss. This was problematic in that it was never properly explored. Rachel has major concerns – legitimate ones – that she could lose her job if their relationship goes sour. She worries she’ll be thought less of by her peers and that her work won’t be taken seriously. Jason agrees she’s right to have concerns and even discusses with his brother (and business partner) how the company lawyers would advise against a relationship, and yet he still pushes for a relationship. Something about the way it was done really bothered me. The power imbalance really stood out, and I never felt like Rachel had a choice in the matter. She told Jason no, he did it anyway, the end.

and

2) Owen’s father’s family wants custody of him. I admit I’m not an expert when it comes to family law, but I had a major problem with the way the custody aspect was handled. Rachel was given guardianship in California as stated in her best friend’s will. Then paternal grandparents show up and say they want custody. Owen is 15. He’s never met them before. She agrees to move from CA to CT to be closer to them in order to avoid a court battle for custody, though it the father’s family never actually tried to go for custody. They just threatened and she moved. She claims grandparents would get custody over her no matter what so she has to keep them happy. But, she has guardianship! He’s never met the grandparents. He’s only seen dad a couple times in his life. And he’s 15! He can decide for himself where he wants to live. Regardless of that, however, unless I missed something major, Rachel hasn’t explored her rights as guardian through any legal channels. There’s a brief mention of an attorney advising her to keep in contact with the grandparents, but that’s it. She hasn’t hired an attorney or done any research. Similarly, the grandparents didn’t go through any legal channels to gain custody. They threatened to, which was enough to make Rachel move closer to them, but that’s it. The whole thing seemed contrived and silly.

The hearing at the end worked much better for me, but still. I didn’t really buy into such a flimsy reason for Rachel to be in CT or for her natural concerns about dating her boss to be pushed aside in favor of the “emergency” with Owen. I did enjoy Bybee’s writing, however, so I may try another book of hers in the future.

2.5 out of 5

Not Quite

two-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Drakon’s Past by N.J. Walters

Posted April 23, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 6 Comments

Guest Review: Drakon’s Past by N.J. WaltersReviewer: Jen
Drakon's Past (Blood of the Drakon, #4) by N.J. Walters
Series: Blood of the Drakon #4
Also in this series: Drakon's Promise, Drakon's Prey, Drakon's Plunder
Published by Entangled, Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: January 29th 2018
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 306
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Constance Owens has a gift for finding unique items in the most unlikely places, which comes in handy since she buys and sells artifacts and antiques for a living. When she purchases a set of four dragon statues, she has no idea just how unique they are, or that finding them will thrust her into a world of secret societies, men who think nothing of kidnapping and murder to get what they want, and dragon shifters.

Nic hasn’t survived for four thousand years by letting his guard down, and he doesn’t trust anyone except his drakon brothers. The loneliness haunting him has been getting worse since all his brothers have found their mates. And when he finds the woman his drakon recognizes instantly as his fated mate, he doubts he’ll ever have what his brothers have, because it seems she’s involved with the secret society of hunters who have been hunting and capturing his kind for hundreds of years.

Nic has been a bit on the outskirts of the previous books in this series. Unlike the other brothers who tend to keep to themselves, Nic seems to spend a lot of time with regular humans. He loves to party and act the playboy, particularly in Vegas. What his brothers don’t know, though, is that he’s doing it in a desperate attempt to stave off the Big Sleep. Apparently, when drakons eventually get bored with the world, they lay down and sleep forever. (Everyone implies this is just “sleep” and not death, but I don’t know, that sure sounds like dying to me.) Nic’s been feeling the urge to just lay down and give up, so he leads a wild lifestyle in an attempt to keep up his interest in living. When he hears about a woman selling highly unusual dragon statues, he goes to investigate and finds Constance. She sells antiques and other collectibles to support herself and her teenage sister. When her sister gets kidnapped by the Knights of the Dragon, she knows the statues are more important than she thought. She doesn’t trust Nic and doesn’t know how he’s involved, but she doesn’t have a lot of options for getting her sister back. She and Nic circle each other and do what they can to rescue her sister.

I have to be honest, I was pretty disappointed in this book. I didn’t like Nic or Constance much. I didn’t really feel much of a deep connection between them, just plain and simple lust. I didn’t like that Nic takes advantage of Constance’s vulnerability and worry about her sister. Constance too is wishy washy. I got why she wouldn’t trust Nic, but then she keeps getting all horny for him and letting him come around. I just never felt much there.

There were too many loose threads in the book, too. This idea of the Big Sleep is never properly explored. Why do drakons do this? How does Nic avoid it? It’s kind of plopped there and then never referred to again. There is no resolution to the larger story arc of the Knights of the Dragon. Sure one villain gets beaten here, but what about the rest of them? How come the drakons don’t put a stop to the group once and for all? What happened to Karina Azarov (the head of the Knights)? Now all four of the drakon brothers have gotten their stories. We’re told there are more drakons out there but we haven’t met or even heard the name of any others. So, is the series going to continue with a drakon we’ve never met, or is it over, leaving tons of unresolved story lines? I don’t know what to think.

Even worse, the one thread that IS resolved is Nic’s mommy issues. Thousands of years ago, when he was a child, his mom threw him out and let the villagers chase him away. He’s had a huge chip on his shoulder since then and doesn’t trust anyone, particularly women, because he’s sure they’re all rotten. Of course, it’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because he doesn’t trust Constance he doesn’t tell her the truth, and because she doesn’t know the truth she has to betray him in order to save her sister. And then in the end, Nic gets a resolution of his issues that was so trite and unbelievable. It was just silly.

It’s always a bummer when a book you’ve been waiting for lets you down. If the author continues the series, however, I’ll continue reading.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

Blood of the Drakon Series

two-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Throwback Thursday Review: Cover of Night by Linda Howard

Posted April 5, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 15 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Cover of Night by Linda HowardReviewer: Holly
Cover of Night by Linda Howard
Published by Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: June 27th 2006
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 352
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
two-half-stars

For breathless action, gripping suspense, and intense romance, bestselling author Linda Howard never misses a beat–and her thrilling new novel will have your heart racing.

In the charming rural town of Trail Stop, Idaho, accessible to the outside world by only a single road, young widow Cate Nightingale lives peacefully with her four-year-old twin boys, running a bed-and-breakfast. Though the overnight guests are few and far between–occasional hunters and lake fishermen–Cate always manages to make ends meet with the help of the local jack-of-all-trades, Calvin Harris, who can handle everything from carpentry to plumbing. But Calvin is not what he seems, and Cate’s luck is about to run out.

One morning, the B&B’s only guest inexplicably vanishes, leaving behind his personal effects. A few days later Cate is shocked when armed men storm the house, demanding the mystery man’s belongings. Fearing for her children’s lives, Cate agrees to cooperate–until Calvin saves the day, forcing the intruders to scatter into the surrounding woods.

The nightmare, however, is just beginning. Cate, Calvin, and their entire community find themselves cut off and alone with no means to call for help as the threat gathers intensity and first blood is drawn.
With their fellow residents trapped and the entire town held hostage, Cate and Calvin have no choice but to take the fight to their enemies under the cover of night. While reticent Cal becomes a fearless protector, Cate makes the most daring move of her life . . . into the very heart of danger.

From the Hardcover edition.

Every Thursday in 2018, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally posted on April 21, 2008.

How many of you have read Danielle Steel? I used to read her all the time when I was younger, but after awhile the repetitiveness of her writing started to wear on me and I gave up on her. I’m not talking about the constant reuse of key phrases, either, but the way she feels she has to explain the same point again and again and again.

That’s exactly what Linda Howard did in this novel. Contrary to popular belief, I am not an idiot. If you explain something to me once, I get it. I don’t need you to repeat the same point over and over. Truly.

Three years ago, Cate’s husband died of a Staph infection, leaving her a widow with very young twin boys. In an effort to provide financially for them and to escape all of the memories of Seattle, she moves to Trail Stop, Idaho, a very small community nestled in the mountains of Idaho and miles from everything. The town is surrounded on three sides by mountains and has only one road for access.

Life is pretty peaceful for her and her twins. She’s made some friends, though she’s mostly kept people at arms length. The local handyman, Calvin Harris, is at her house almost every day, because it’s an old Victorian and seems to need constant repairs. Otherwise, though, besides one women she considers a close friend, she doesn’t really socialize in town.

Our story begins when she has this guest come and stay who sneaks out the window during the day and leaves all his stuff behind. At first she’s irritated that he ditched out like that, then she’s worried about him, thinking he may have had an accident or something, then she goes back to being irritated when he’s still gone two days later.

In the meantime, we find out that the guest who skipped out the window is actually a CPA who stole some very incriminating evidence from some mobster and is attempting to extort an extreme amount of money from him. Well, as you can imagine, our mobster guy isn’t very happy about that, so he hires this shady PI/Contract Killer guy to go after him. They eventually track him to the B&B in Trail Stop…and this is where the story goes south. Wayyyy South.

The thing about this book is…it wasn’t that interesting BEFORE the contract killer shows up. But AFTER that? It was so over-the-top-unbelievable I was almost in stitches. Seriously.

Here’s the skinny. Contract Killer and his little minion decide to rent a room in Cate’s BB. They overhear Cate and her friend talking about how she’s suspicious of them, so rather than being all stealthy and searching for the things CPA boy left behind, they rush at her with guns and demand his stuff. She’s getting ready to comply when Cal the Handyman shows up to get the mail. She sends him on his way, but on the off chance that something isn’t right he circles back around and…saves the day.

Now, the thing is, up until this point, Cal can’t string two words together in Cate’s presence. He’s painfully shy around her and even turns BEAT ASS RED when he’s near her. I think LH was trying to make us see that he had different sides by throwing a few other scenes with him in it, but it didn’t work. Not for me anyway.

But back to my bitching review. So Cal figures out that Cate’s in trouble, circles around, knocks one of the Contract Killers on the head and takes the other one by surprise and disarms him. In the name of keeping things calm, he hands over CPA Boy’s suitcase and sends them on their way. Yeah, dumb but whatever.

Conveniently, Cate’s mom is visiting from Seattle, and wants the twins for a few weeks, so the next morning Cate sends them on their way, because she’s paranoid and wants them safe. Ok, that makes sense. But it was just too neat and tidy that her mom was there when this went down.

The twins hit the road and the Contract Killers check out the suitcase. Well, well, what do you know. Seems there isn’t any shaving stuff or personal toiletries in the bag, so they figure she’s holding out on them. So what do they do? Well, they decide to take the entire town hostage, of course.

stares

Yes, I said take the entire town hostage. Because Cate may or may not have a shaving kit that may or may not include the thing that Mobster Dude’s CPA stole from him. Is that not the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard?

From there on it was just dumb. The POV’s jumped around entirely too much, but we didn’t get hardly anything from the hero. We come to understand that he’s been in love with Cate since she moved there, and that he was formerly a Marine, so he’s well able to handle the situation, but that’s pretty much it. I really liked what I saw of him, and I liked Cate for the most part, too. Although she could have buckled in the face of such craziness, she rose to the occasion and did what needed to be done. But overall? The character development sucked, IMO. There just wasn’t enough focus on the two main protagonists to make them real characters to me. The twins were sort of cute, but since they only lasted like the first 20 pages or so I can’t really say they grabbed me.

Basically, the storyline was WAY over the top, we didn’t get to see enough from the hero’s POV and she jumped around WAY too much. During one chapter there were seven different POV’s, none of them the hero.

Overall, I wasn’t impressed. At all. It’s not the worst Linda Howard I’ve ever read (All That Glitters and The Independent Wife hold that title) but it was close.

2.5 out of 5

This book is available from Ballantine. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

two-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Throwback Thursday: Guest Review: Timber Creek by Veronica Wolff

Posted March 29, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday: Guest Review: Timber Creek by Veronica WolffReviewer: Tracy
Timber Creek (Sierra Falls, #2) by Veronica Wolff
Series: Sierra Falls #2
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: December 31st 2012
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 304
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
two-stars


In love and war, something’s gotta give…

For Laura Bailey it wasn’t easy weathering her teen years at her quaint family lodge in a boondock town at the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Fleeing for San Francisco the minute she graduated high school seemed like a good idea—until she lost her job and her fiancé. The blow to her pride sent her back to Sierra Falls to figure out her life. But her hometown is undergoing a bit of renovation.

A new Sierra Falls resort is posing a threat to the Bailey family business. Even worse, the construction company developing the property is run by Eddie Jessup, Laura’s cocky high school nemesis who delighted in locking horns with the little spitfire. Some things never change. But their battle isn’t the only thing heating up between Laura and Eddie, and before long they realize that getting to know each other all over again has its rewards. But fate isn’t through with them. Nor are the games men and women play in the name of love.

Every Thursday in 2018 we will be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally published on December 26, 2012.

Laura is determined to make a go of it in Sierra Falls and to prove her worth, to her family, the town and to herself. When a new resort gets planned and she crunches numbers for her family’s lodge and restaurant they’re not good. She’ll do just about anything to keep her family’s business in the black and that means going head to head with Eddie Jessup.

Laura wants Eddie to stop renovations on a ranch in Sierra Falls just because it will hurt her business – but what about his family and his business? Eddie doesn’t feel that the whole resort thing is on the up and up but Jessup Construction needs the work and this might put them on the map and make their business grow. As much as he’d like to accommodate Laura, he just can’t do it.

Laura is a bear and keeps up her constant tirade toward Eddie with no end in sight…until they finally give in to their mutual attraction and then sparks fly. Laura, however is still concerned about money and when her old boss calls with a cherry job offer she can’t decide what to do.

This was a really hard book for me to like. I really liked Eddie so very much. There was just so much to like about him and he was just adorable. I could see his charming grin flying off the pages and I just wanted to hug him. My problem was that I really didn’t like Laura at all. The story deals with Laura and her self-esteem issues, etc. but frankly I just didn’t think she was a nice person. She was nice around Eddie but I thought that she felt like she couldn’t let her true self out. I believe that we as the reader was supposed to see the tough outer shell and then see what a softie she was but after everything was said and done I felt like it was too little too late.

There was a secondary story that had to do with the waitress at Laura’s family restaurant, Helen, and her family and her husband troubles. I found this story much more interesting and wanted the entire book to be about Helen. I think between Eddie and Helen they saved the book for me. In the end it was just an ok read.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 

The Series:
 Book Cover Book Cover

This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

two-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,