Tag: 3.25 Reviews

Guest Review: Holding Out for a Hero by Ana Leigh

Posted May 26, 2009 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Holding Out for a Hero by Ana LeighReviewer: Tracy
Holding Out for a Hero by Ana Leigh
Series: The Frasers #5
Published by Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: May 26, 2009
Genres: Romance, Historical, Westerns
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three-half-stars

Rico Fraser would love to return to the Fraser clan’s California home, find a good woman, and start a family of his own. But first he must deal out some frontier justice to Ben Slatter, who brutally murdered Rico’s mother three years earlier. So when Slatter and his gang abduct a young ranch heiress, Rico seizes his chance to bring his adversary in–dead or alive.

Breathtakingly lovely Jenny Burke was born into privilege, and sentenced to a life devoid of excitement . . . until she is kidnapped. When Rico Fraser courageously saves her from Slatter, Jenny is indebted to the tough, rugged hero–but also very curious about the arrogant bounty hunter with revenge in his eyes. And as her innocent awareness grows into passion, she realizes Rico Fraser has changed her life forever. But can a man determined to fulfill a brutal vow at all costs find room in his heart for love?

Rico Fraser has been away from home for a darned long time. He made a vow over his mother’s grave that he would find and kill the man that murdered her. He would like to go back to his family home, get married and start a family but has absolutely no interest in doing that until he has fulfilled his vow.

When he is sent after Jenny and Andrea Burke he doesn’t expect to find them alive. When he does find them they are a little worse for wear but basically unharmed. Unfortunate events cause the trio, plus a military man, to spend a couple of days in the wilderness. Jenny and Rico, for all of their arguing, find that not only are they attracted to each other physically but they start really liking one another.

Jenny Burke was raised by her father and her Aunt Andrea. Receiving no love and nothing but harsh words from her father Andrea is her only friend. While Rico finds Jenny pampered she knows that it’s because Andrea has cushioned her from life’s hardships. Rico and Jenny find themselves drawn to each other, despite their differences, and unable to stop themselves from taking their relationship to the next level.

This book for me was a slow start. Not that the action in the book didn’t start right away but for the most part I just couldn’t get into the characters or the dialogue. It felt a little abrupt…not mechanical…it seemed that the characters would go from completely indignant to grinning in the blink of an eye and I wasn’t seeing the transitions as easy ones. I really couldn’t get the emotional feel for the book until about half way through. Jenny and Rico are good together and I thought they fit as a couple quite nicely. Jenny was quite intelligent as was Rico and they played off of each others personalities well.

Jenny’s father was a piece of work to say the least. He blamed Jenny for her birth and was just horrible to her. He does come around in the end but by that time I don’t know that I found it believable. Too much water under the bridge I think in this case.

The villain plot of the story was strong in the beginning but tapered off until right at the end. I kept expecting there to be more to it but the author concentrated on the h/h relationship.

Overall it as an ok read for me. I haven’t read the previous books in this series but after reading this one, and hearing about what went on in past books, I don’t feel the need to read them. It was a good stand alone novel that is part of a series.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5 stars

 

three-half-stars

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Guest review: White Star by Elizabeth Vaughan

Posted May 20, 2009 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 5 Comments

Nath‘s review of White Star (Star Series, book 2) by Elizabeth Vaughan

There is one m.ore adored.. Everyone knows that the Lady High Priestess Evelyn is virtuous and noble, one of the leaders of the rebellion against the unjust usurper, as well as a gentle healer who channels the powers of the gods to help the sick and injured.

There is no one more despised… Orrin Blackhart, the Scourge of Palins, is renowned as an evil man. As the war leader of one of the usurper’s supporters, he has killed many and stood by while the sorceress he serves created an army of the undead.

And there is nothing more unexpected than passion… When Orrin takes Evelyn prisoner during the war, each will discover there is more to the other than they expected. And souls that should have clashed will be forged together in desire, redemption, and glory…

I’ve become a fan of Ms Vaughan after reading her excellent Warlands Chronicles trilogy. I loved everything about the Warlands Chronicles: the strong heroine, the ambitious hero, the meeting of two worlds, the journey, the secondary characters… everything!

After such a wonderful series, it is understandable why my expectations for this new trilogy would be high. I hoped for Ms Vaughan to follow-up with something great. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the case. Dagger-Star was somewhat disappointing and looking back on my review, I realized that I’ve been generous with the grade 🙁 I would have to agree with Li that Dagger-Star was more in a C-range… Still, I wasn’t going to give up on Ms Vaughan and I looked out for White Star. This second installment is better, but it still hasn’t met my expectations.

The beginning of White Star actually overlaps with the timeline of Dagger-Star and readers find out what happened to Evelyn once she was kidnapped by Orrin Blackhart, the Scourge of Palins. I have to say, that is a cool nickname LOL 🙂 In White Star, we discover that the fierce warrior that everyone seems to fear and be wary of is a man, a normal man who is tired of holding down the fort. Yes, at first, his baroness seems to have a good idea – raising an army of undead and using them to fight and take possession of the neighbouring lands… However, when your mistress turns out to be a bit loopy – okay, a lot crazy – and it’s up to you to see to the well-being of an entire army and population… well, it can take its toll. So Orrin Blackhart is just a man who is tired, exhausted by the burden of his responsibilities towards his men. He knows he’s made a mistake supporting his baroness, but at this point, it’s too late.

When news come that his baroness has died at the hands of the mysterious Red Gloves, Orrin knows that they have lost. He only hopes that the life of Evelyn and his surrender will spare his people’s lives. Thus, Orrin is taken back as a prisoner and is sentenced to death, while Evelyn is given a boon for the role she has played in making the prophecy come true. Upon hearing the voice of the Lady telling her to save Orrin’s life, Evelyn uses her boon… and Orrin is given one chance to obtain a pardon for him and his men – he must get rid of the remaining undead…

Overall, I enjoyed White Star better than Dagger-Star, mostly for Orrin. I really liked his character and his sense of honor. Yes, he did a lot of wrong in the past – but as a warrior, it’s to be expected. He regrets his action, did his best to make up for it and protect his people. I like his entourage, his team. They had very good chemistry and their interaction was fun to read. Evelyn was an okay heroine. I thought she was a bit too stuffy for me and haughty. As if the fact that she initiated the rebellion gave her some rights, you know? And if I remember correctly, she even acknowledges it as well. I understand why these two characters would be attracted to one another, unfortunately, I think the chemistry wasn’t there. Perhaps if the author had time to develop their relationship a little bit more…

My main problem with White Star though was the plot. I think that the overall idea was more interesting than Dagger-Star and had great potential, but the execution was poor. Everything went too fast, the action was not well developed… it’s as if we zipped through it all. I felt that Ms Vaughan had too many ideas and she tried to cram them all in one single book and as a result, it did not work to her advantage. Oh, I like the storyline… only, it could have been more. It could have been more engaging to the readers… The thing is, because all the events happen so fast one after another, the readers don’t have time to engage their emotions, get involved in the storyline and connect with the characters. In addition, I feel like the voice is a bit impersonal, it simply relates what happens. Perhaps if she was going back to first POV (I can’t believe I’m saying that LOL).

In addition, because there is so much action, I think that the world building was a bit neglected. We know that the Star trilogy takes place in the same world as the Warlands Chronicles, but in a different kingdom. We know that Palins is divided into different regions and each is governed by a baron. The politic part is okay… but I mean, it’s hard to reconcile Palins with the world we know from the Warlands Chronicles. How can magic exist in this kingdom and not another? Also, elves?!? I thought these things would be explained in this book, but it wasn’t 🙁

Again, it’s very unfortunate because I really like Ms Vaughan as an author. I said it in my previous review that I liked the whole idea of the prophecy and rebellion… for the chosen one to get back the throne… I would have liked it to span all three books. As it is, I will still pick up the last book, although to be honest, I’m not really interested in Bethral and Ezren’s story ^_^; (although I want to know more about Ezren… it’s more Bethral that is meh) I’m actually looking forward to the next trilogy, because I believe there will be one 🙂

Grade: 3.25/5

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

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Review: Heating Up the Holidays by Jill Shalvis, Jacquie D’Alessandro, Jamie Sobrato.

Posted April 7, 2009 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments


Hero: Dustin Mauer, Brad Griffin, Ryan Quinn
Heroine: Christina Lewis, Toni Rizzo, Lorelei Gibson
Grade: 4.5 out of 5, 3.5 out of 5, 3.25 out of 5

All He Wants for Christmas… by Jill Shalvis EMT Dustin Mauer has one Christmas wish—to make tough firefighter Cristina Lewis realize she’s in love with him. And he’s using his considerable bedside charm to convince her!

My Grown-Up Christmas List by Jacquie D’Alessandro Toni Rizzo is done with obnoxious firefighters. But flirtatious fireman Brad Griffin is managing to put himself at the top of her holiday list—one steamy kiss at a time!

Up on the Housetop by Jamie Sobrato When Dr. Lorelei Gibson gets stuck on her roof half-naked, she’s mortified when she’s rescued by hunky firefighter Ryan Quinn—her high school heartbreak! Until she learns he’d like to get naked with her…

I read this book last month for my Category romance but never got around to posting my review for it (or writing it for that matter) so is it considered cheating if I put my review for this one up now? I hope not.

But anyway, on with the review.

All He Wants For Christmas by Jill Shalvis- This is Dustin and Christina’s story. If you’ve read the other stories in this series (Flashpoint and Flashback) then you’ve met these two before. Dustin has been hung up on Christina for a very long time and Christina likes him back but she won’t give into her desires because she’s a little scaredy cat. Christina is all tough and macho at work and she doesn’t do messy emotions. She doesn’t do silly things like fall in love because she’s much too tough for something like that. Dustin, on the other hand is all for those messy emotions because he’s not afraid of his feelings. He has some serious feelings for Dustin and what I loved most about him is that he didn’t shy away from them. He didn’t put up a front, he let it be known that he was in love with Christina and was there, waiting for her to realize that they were meant to be together.

I thought Jill Shalvis did a fantastic job telling their story. Dustin and Christina’s story start in the other books but it ends with this one and I think that Jill did a fantastic job of slamming a great story into such a short paged story. It didn’t feel rushed or anything and my only problem was that I wanted a little bit more but I wasn’t too disappointed. I enjoyed Dustin and Christina and even though there were times that I wanted to slap Christina upside her head a few times, I thought this was a great character driven book. I definitely recommend.

4.5 out of 5

I’m curious about Dustin’s brother Jason for sure though.

My Grown Up Christmas Wish by Jacquie D’Alessandro- This story follows Brad Griffin and Toni Rizzo as they journey toward their happy ending. I thought it was a cute addition but Tori got on my nerves a bit when she kept putting Brad. He did some really sweet things to try to get her attention and the way that she kept putting this enormously hot and ridiculously sweet man off because of things that he had absolutely nothing to do with made me want to karate chop Toni in the knee caps. This book ends up being really cute and it’s a great addition to this anthology.

3.5 out of 5

Up on the Housetop by Jamie Sobrato- I’ve never read anything by this author before but I’d like to see what her longer stories would be like. I think I would have enjoyed this story a little more had it been a little longer. This story was shorter than the other two stories in this anthology and I wish there had been more to Lorelei and Ryan’s story. Ryan was all things hunky but it would have been nice to get to know them a bit more and to feel as if their relationship wasn’t rushed because it felt that way. Lorelei wasn’t a bad heroine but I just didn’t feel as if I knew her very much after the story was done.

3.25 out of 5

As a whole, this anthology was quite an entertaining read and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is in the mood for sexy firefighting love. It’s made me put two authors that I haven’t tried before on my list so that’s gotta count for something, right?

All in all, I’d give this anthology a 4.25 out of 5.

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

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Guest Review: Hard To Get by Alyssa Brooks

Posted November 6, 2008 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

Kris‘ review of Hard to Get by Alyssa Brooks.

Lizzy Cross has given up on men. When it comes to fulfillment, they don’t come close to a night alone with her fantasies and a wide variety of immensely pleasurable substitutions. Then on the night of her sister’s bachelorette party, Lizzy finds herself staring at the very naked and very familiar torso of her ex…
Cockier than ever as a cowboy stripper in leather chaps (and nothing else), Ty is determined to win Lizzy back by taking his act off the stage and putting it back between the sheets. But will he be able to get past the kink that stands between them and show her the true pleasure a flesh-and-blood man can give her?

I had to read this book twice. I read through it so fast the first time that i had to re-read because I could not tell you a thing about it. I hate when I do that. This book was interesting. Overall I think I liked the book. But she bugged me at times. She had major issues in general and with the hero and that I kind of understand, but she was blaming him for something that was out of his control and that happened 15 years ago. They were teenagers, they do stupid things and there are consequences.(if you want to know what he did then highlight below)

When she was 14 and he was 17 he took her away from her home where her stepfather was hitting her and they ran away together. They ended up in a flop house in LA. He was trying to get a job and wanted to marry her. He wanted the best for her to show her how he felt about her and tried to steal an engagement ring for her. He got caught and sent to juvie. She had no clue what happened to him, only that he never came back. Starving at this point she tries to prostitute herself, does not work the way she planned. The man that finds her is a good man that wealthy and married. He adopts her and raises her with his own daughter.

The story dealt more with that than with the kink like the synopsis says. But her kink is because of her inability to have an orgasm with a man, because she does not trust them enough because of what happened with him. Ty is such a sweet guy, not quite enough Alpha for me, but he is such a sweetie. He puts his whole life practically on hold for her and she still tries to blow him off.

She does eventually get over it. But I kept yelling at her.

One thing that I did love was that the first time they had sex she did not miraculously have an orgasm like in many other books. She wanted to but she still had that trust issue thing. The sex was very hot. Not quite what I was expecting but very good.

I would probably have to give this a 3.25 out of 5 because I was not crazy about the heroine.

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

Read more from Kris at The Reading Spot.

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Review: Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton

Posted November 6, 2008 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

USA Today bestselling author Barbara Bretton has always enchanted readers. But this time, she really casts a spell in a new series of magic and murder weaving its way into the lives of New England’s most unusual town–and most unique knitting store . . .

Sugar Maple looks like any bucolic Vermont town, but when the tourists go home it’s a different story—inhabited as it is with warlocks, sprites, vampires, witches, and an ancient secret. And I know all about secrets. I’m Chloe Hobbs, owner of Sticks & String, a popular knit shop where your yarn never tangles, you always get gauge . . . and the knitter sitting next to you comes out only after dark.

I’m also the sorcerer’s daughter–a single sorcerer’s daughter with Sugar Maple’s future in her hands which means the whole town is casting spells meant to help me find Mr. Right. Who’d have guessed I’d find him in Luke MacKenzie, a cop investigating Sugar Maple’s very first murder? Bad news is he’s 100% human which could spell disaster for a normal future with a paranormal woman like me–in love, in danger, and in way over my head.

Casting Spells is the first book in a new series by Barbara Bretton centered on a small New England town called Sugar Maple. Recently I’ve been looking for paranormal romances that don’t have anything to do with shape-shifters or vampires, but some kind of magical element. This really fit the bill.

Chloe Hobbs is the only nonmagick human living in a town full of magical creatures. She’s the daughter of a powerful sorceress and a human man who holds the fate of the entire town in her hands. Her line is the one who holds Book of Spells and maintains the protective spells that surrounds the town and keeps it’s secrets safe. But the spell is only good as long as there is a woman from her line alive. Since Chloe is the last of her line, single, and 30, the spell is beginning to weaken.

When a young woman is accidentally killed, a detective from Boston is sent to investigate. But Luke MacKenzie isn’t what Chloe expected. He’s gorgeous, intelligent and sparks fly (literally) when they touch each other. But having a human cop in a town filled with secrets is a recipe for disaster. When a power Fae decides she wants the Book of Spells so she can gain control of the fate of the town, things start spiraling out of control.

I think the main reason this book worked for me, and one of the things I was looking for in a paranormal (besides no vamps or shifters), is how light of a read it was. Although there were definitely a lot of different paranormal elements, the book didn’t take itself too seriously. I really enjoyed that.

The town was interesting and I really enjoyed the basic premise of the story. Each secondary character offered flavor and enhanced the story, but didn’t overwhelm it. I liked both Chloe and Luke. They had serious chemistry. Unfortunately, it seems that was all they had. I don’t understand how it was they came to be in love with each other in a matter of days. Especially since all they did when they were together was bicker or kiss. I definitely think they were attracted to each other, but I really don’t believe they were in love.

While I certainly enjoyed the story, I had a lot of issues with it. There seemed to be a lot of loose ends left open, ones that I think were pivotal to the story. For example, it’s mentioned several times that Luke is looking to escape from Boston and disappear into some small town. Only we’re never told why he wants to disappear. There were several other things left open, too.

The other problem I had was the knitting-speak. I’m not a knitter, and therefore none of the verbiage meant a thing to me. I don’t know what purl, drop, gauge, or any of those other terms meant, so I was somewhat lost at times.

I know it sounds like I didn’t like this novel, but I did. It was a light story that flowed well. The characters and central plot were interesting and the writing flowed very well. I just wish things had been tightened up a bit more.

I would definitely recommend this if you’re in the mood for a well written, quick, light, but somewhat flawed read.

3.25 out of 5

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

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