Tag: Jacquie D’ Alessandro

Guest Review: It Happened One Season by Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro, & Candice Hern

Posted May 23, 2011 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

Publisher: Avon, Harper Collins
A handsome hero returns from war, battle-scarred and world-weary. But family duty calls and he must find a bride. A young lady facing yet another season without a suitor never expects to find herself the object of his affections.

Let me first state that I am NOT a fan of anthologies in any way. My experience has been checkered at best–I like a couple of the stories usually, then can’t get interested in the others and ultimately do not finish them. Always seemed a waste of money. But this time I was having to wait for some prescriptions to be filled at the pharmacy and I found myself without my eReader of a book to read (which almost never happens) and I picked this one up, saw it had a 2011 publication date, and decided to take a chance since the first two authors are two of my favorites. Much to my surprise, I liked all four novellas and read every word. Go figure . . .

The blurb stated above is the plot that was the winner in a contest put on by this publisher. Each of the four authors had this to work with and the rest was pure imagination and story crafting on their part. I have never had the privilege of being exposed to that kind of writing challenge before and it was delightful, to say the least. I also realize that this same book has been reviewed recently here by another review, so let me just give you my thoughts on these four stories.

Stephanie Laurens wrote a story about Sebastian and Tabitha who are set on a mission to uncover a person who is blackmailing young women newly engaged and who each had some sort of unsavory occurrence in their past that, were it known, would upend the betrothal. Their investigative efforts were enhanced because as they were searching for information about the blackmailer in a mansion library, they were discovered and in order to cover their search, Sebastian took Cleo into a compromising, close embrace and declared to the shocked view of those standing at the door of the library: “We have just become engaged.” But what started out as a sham engagement became totally desirable to Sebastian before too long, and the romantic pursuit was on. Sebastian was the loner military man who was in no market for a bride, but something about Cleo began to capture his attention, and since he must marry for the title’s sake, he wondered if she was indeed his best choice. This was a mystery/suspense tale mixed in with the romance–a mixture I particularly like. Add in the fact that Cleo was really one of those women who lived with social concerns that just didn’t jibe with Regency society. That is probably one of the major things that attracted Sebastian. Such a nice love story.

Mary Balogh gave us her take on this plot with the story of a war widow who had been married to an unkind and selfish colonel–he married because he was too fastidious to use whores to meet his urges–and who had been killed. Cleo Pritchard was not necessarily happy with her life but she was comfortable and come to accept her life and he lack of marriage prospects. Yet there had been one man who had awakened her heart–Jack Gilchrist, who had come to her on the Continent with the news of her husband’s death and had given her the only kiss she had ever had. Now Major Gilchrist has returned to London as a war hero and she was aware that her regard for him, successfully buried for five years, was as alive as ever. He, too, had been deeply moved by that one kiss–what started out as a kindness and a gesture of comfort for a grieving woman and became a deeply moving, sexual embrace–and when he saw Cleo at the ball, also became aware that the feelings he had buried were surging to the surface. Their story, their not-quite-a-courtship and one night of passion together is the substance of this second story. Both these characters struck an interesting note with me–both were older, both had come through daunting experiences related to the war, and both were now facing significant change in their lives. It is the stuff of pure and heartwarming romance.

Jacquie D”Alessandro, an author with whom I was unfamiliar, writes Penelope and Alex’s story. She was an artist who had been disgraced by her love of classic statuary, one who was deemed a disgrace and an immoral person. Alec had been her brother’s commanding officer and companion in the war and had been present when her brother had died, but that was a big problem for him, believing as he did that he had been responsible for the man’s death. Yet his meeting with Penelope, while fueled by his need to reveal his so-called guilt, was now taking on a different hue–he was deeply and urgently attracted to her and he would brook no objection to marrying her–right away. This romance is warm and erotic in its characters and their urgent continued physical intimacies, yet there is also the shadow of Alec’s sense of deep failure and guilt toward Penelope’s brother. As he grew to love her, Alec then bore the burden of a secret long held and fear it would drive her away. So there is a tension in this story that is greater than in the two previous tales. Such a good piece of writing!! I almost got the feeling that both these characters almost held their breath, hoping that somehow the feelings that had come alive five years earlier could finally be consummated. My kind of romance.

Candice Hern completes this quartet of authors who have used their creativity to flesh out this plot. Nathaniel Beckwith was a military man who resigned his commission in order to comply with his brother’s request that he seek a bride and provide an heir for the estate. He was a gruff and somewhat unpolished man, good manners but his social graces had suffered during the years of his military service. He was very very uncomfortable in the ballrooms and parlors of the ton and when seeking a niche hidden behind a large orange tree, he discovered it already had an occupant–Miss Phillipa Reynolds, a not-real-attractive young lady who had an additional disability of a displaced hit–a congenital defect that caused her to limp in a most ungainly fashion, at least that is what she thought. Contrary to social etiquette, Nathaniel and Phillipa introduced themselves and proceeded to become acquaintances. It was during this 30-minute conversation that they each revealed their discomfort: he with being out in society after so many years spent almost exclusively with soldiers, and she with her disability that made her the silent if sometimes open object of scorn by the society gossips. It was then that Beckwith decided that he really liked Phillpa–she was witty and smart, she made him feel comfortable, unlike the twittering misses seeking husbands, and by asking for her hand in marriage, he spared himself the pain of courting young women who bored him to tears. Phillipa also found Nathaniel to be a fine companion and she genuinely liked him. That she was shocked and amazed at his proposal goes without saying, but she accepted, largely because he treated her like a whole person and not some freak that needed to special attention. I really liked these two people–both were very open about their dislike of society and they really liked each other.

All in all, I found this book an extremely pleasant read, one that never got pedantic or boring, and fascinating in the way each of these authors met the challenge of the plot. This is a rare experience for me and one that made me realize that all anthologies are not created equal. Each must be judged on its own merits. And I judged this one to be well-worth my time and effort.

I give this book a rating of 4 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at Dr. J’s Book Place.

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

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: It Happened One Season by Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro and Candice Hern.

Posted May 10, 2011 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Publisher: Avon, Harper Collins

Rowena’s review of It Happened One Season by Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro and Candice Hern.

We asked our readers what story they would most like to see from four bestselling authors. They responded . . .

A handsome hero returns from war, battle-scarred and world-weary. But family duty calls and he must find a bride.

A young lady facing yet another season without a suitor never expects to find herself the object of his affections.

It Happened One Season

Four amazing talents

Stephanie Laurens Mary Balogh Jacquie D’Alessandro and Candice Hern

have come together to create one of the most unforgettable events of the year. The results are spectacular—each story is as unique as a lover’s first kiss.

What a fun group of stories this book turned out to be. In this book, the authors all took the same premise and wrote different stories for them and I was mighty interested to see if they’d all end up writing the same story and I’m pleased to see that they didn’t. Each story was unique and different and though I longed for more, when I closed the book after finishing the last story, I was content.

In the first story, we get Sebastian and Tabitha’s story. In this story, they’re thrown together because Sebastian has to find a wife to marry and get himself an heir, even though he’s a second son. His older brother’s wife just had their fifth child…which was another daughter and the brother is basically throwing in the towel.

Sebastian, who has come home from the war and wants nothing more than to just relax for the rest of his days in his house and read some books (haha, that was totally said in my Nacho Libre voice). After going to his first ball, he quickly becomes bored with all of the matchmaking mama’s so he hides in the library where he meets his heroine, who is on a mission to find some secrets.

Sebastian and Tabitha were a lot of fun to get to know. The way that their story came together felt like puzzle pieces being put in its right order. They were too cute! I loved the way that they went all in with their mission. I loved that they were in it together and I loved how straight up Sebastian was with Tabitha’s parents from the jump. Laurens did a wonderful job of building up their romance in the short amount of pages that she had. It was a delightful read and made me hungry for more.

4 out of 5

In the second story, Cleo and Jack fall in love. Cleo is a widow and because her husband wasn’t the best of husbands, she’s more than content with being left alone now. She gets lonely from time to time, especially since she remembers a long ago kiss with Jack Gilchrist. When she runs into Jack again, things heat up because though she tells him that she’s perfectly content with the way that her life is, Jack goes out of his way to show her just how good it would be between the two of them. Jack can’t get that long ago kiss out of his head any more than she can and watching these two come together was another enjoyable addition to this book.

3.5 out of 5

In the third story, we get Alec and Penelope’s story. Alec feels guilty over the death of a soldier he was in the war with, Edward. He thinks that by taking care of Edward’s sister that all will right itself in his conscience. He wasn’t expecting the beauty or the baggage/scandal that would come when meeting Penelope but when Penelope needs someone most, it is Edward that steps forward with a marriage proposal that rocks her world right off its axis.

I really enjoyed this story, it was short but it was definitely sweet and I didn’t feel like I didn’t really get to know both Alec and Penelope. It was an enjoyable read, one that had me smiling like a loon all the way through.

4 out of 5

In the last story, I think this one was my favorite. It’s Nathaniel and Phillipa’s story. Nathaniel needs to find a bride but he’s not in the mood to deal with the demanding mama’s and so he does what any man of his station would do (not really)…he hides behind an orange tree. He never thought that he’d meet his future wife there but he does. He meets Phillipa, who is hiding there as well. She’s got a noticeable limp that doesn’t let her walk or dance without people noticing something’s not right but when she meets Nathaniel, she can’t quite believe how things turn around for her. I really enjoyed reading about a heroine with a handicap and the man who fell in love with her. I thought that Nathaniel was such a great hero and Phillipa was just as great. Their story was super cute and was my favorite of the bunch!

4.25 out of 5

Overall the book was a great collection of stories that made me laugh and made me sigh. I can’t ask for more in a book so I’m a pretty happy camper with this one. If you read and enjoyed the other anthology that came out, It Happened One Night than I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one as well. It’s a great read!

Overall grade: 4.25 out of 5

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

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: Tempted at Midnight by Jacquie D’Alessandro.

Posted May 20, 2009 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Publisher: Berkley, Penguin

Rowena‘s review of Tempted at Midnight (Mayhem in Mayfair, book 3) by Jacquie D’Alessandro

Hero: Mr. Logan Jennsen
Heroine: Lady Emily Stapleford
Grade: 4.5 out of 5

A desperate beauty concocts the perfectly outrageous scheme for success- and not only attract the attention of the Ladies Literary Society of London, but also the last moan she’d ever expected to tempt. Lady Emily Stapleford never dreamed that the burden of saving her family from financial ruin would rest on her lovely, resourceful shoulders. Since she is only willing to marry for love, and not money, Emily pens a story she hopes will bring her fortune–only to have it rejected by every publishing firm. After all, what respectable reader would dare embrace a vampire heroine? Not to be dissuaded, Emily decides to create public interest with a vampire pretense. Overnight, London is abuzz with stories about sightings. With new interest in Emily’s books, she’s guaranteed success-0if it weren’t for the mysterious American Logan Jennsen. He’s onto Emily’s duplicity, and he has every intention of using htis knowledge to his advantage. If only he weren’t falling in love with this unabashedly creative female. And if only he didn’t have a scandalous secret of his own–one that’s putting both their lives in danger.

This is the only book in this series that I’ve read and I quite enjoyed it. I think I’m in the minority but that’s okay, I’m kinda used to that. Nath reviewed this book here and it’s funny because what she didn’t like about the book, I absolutely loved. It totally brings truth to the saying, Different strokes for different folks.

Now I read this book directly after I read Always a Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch and the similarities between these two stories tripped me out for a bit, but I liked both books for different reasons.

This book is Emily and Logan’s book and I guess their story starts in the previous book and since I didn’t read that book, I might have missed stuff but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I felt that JD did a great job of hooking me into a book that comes dead ass last in the series without confusing the snot out of me. She did a good job of making me interested in the other couples in this series without taking the spotlight off of Logan and Emily.

I thought that Emily was a snot but I didn’t hate her for it. I didn’t think she was TSTL or anything. I’ve read worst heroines than Emily in the snobby department and everything else that she went through in this book made me laugh too much to totally not care for her because of the snooty way that she treated Logan in the beginning.

Her whole scheme to save her family from ruin by writing a vampire novel and then going out and drumming up interest in female vampires by DRESSING UP and pretending to be a vampire had me in fits of laughter. I mean, picture it: A woman of the ton, leaving the ballroom in the middle of a ball to don her vampire costume and fangs and then dropping in, making sure she’s spotted and then rushing away to go back and change into her ballgown and then going back into the ballroom without a care in the world and getting all excited when she hears people talking about vampires.

I thought Emily was a great heroine, one who didn’t easily succumb to the pitfalls of her station. She wanted to marry for love instead of duty just like her friends and I admired the way that she went about making sure that she wasn’t cheated out of that chance. I loved seeing her with her family, especially her younger siblings and I loved the way that Logan fit right into her family life.

I really enjoyed this book, I enjoyed getting to know Logan and Emily and I enjoyed watching them interact with each other. It was rocky in the beginning but the longer they spent in each other’s company, the more infatuated they became with each other. I don’t think that the romance between Logan and Emily was rushed or phony at all, I didn’t even feel as if they forced their romance into the story. I enjoyed it quite a bit and thought it was nicely done. Their love for each other was quite believable to me.

This book was a sweet romance that I will definitely reread again someday. I enjoyed all of the characters (those book club ladies rock!) and their husband and I enjoyed the love that blossomed between Logan and Emily. They were enjoyable characters and I’m super glad that I read this book.

I don’t think anything is wrong with this book other than Logan’s lame secret but aside from that, this book was great. I think if you’re interested in reading this, go ahead and try it out…you just might surprise yourself and end up really liking it. I did.

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

Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Guest review: Tempted at Midnight by Jacquie D’Alessandro

Posted May 12, 2009 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 9 Comments

Nath‘s review of Tempted at Midnight by Jacquie D’Alessandro

Lady Emily Stapleford never dreamed that the burden of saving her family from financial ruin would rest on her lovely, resourceful shoulders. Since she’s only willing to marry for love, and not money, Emily pens a story she hopes will bring her fortune — only to have it rejected by every major publisher. After all, what respectable reader would dare embrace a vampire heroine?

Not to be dissuaded, Emily generates publicity by attracting attention with a vampire masquerade. Overnight London is abuzz with the sightings. With renewed interest in Emily’s book, she’s guaranteed success — if it wasn’t for the mysterious American, Logan Jennsen. He’s on to Emily’s duplicity and he has every intention of using it to his advantage. If only he wasn’t falling in love with this unabashedly creative hothouse flower. And if only he didn’t have a scandalous secret of his own — one that’s putting both their lives in danger…

Genre: historical romance
Series: Mayhem in Mayfair, book #4

Tempted at Midnight is the last installment in the Mayhem in Mayfair series and came out earlier this month. I really enjoyed Sleepless at Midnight and Confessions at Midnight (reviews here and here), but was a disappointed in Seduced at Midnight (here). I was hoping that the author would rebound with this book…

The Story: All right, so basically, Emily and Logan have been attracted to each other for a long while (which is why they’ve been snipping at each other), but have only realized it after they’ve shared a kiss at the end of Seduced at Midnight, at Julianne and Gideon’s wedding. After three months of not seeing each other, they are still frustrated because they can’t forget the kiss nor the kisser.

Emily is back in London and she was told by her parents that she must marry this Season and preferably to someone with money in order to save the family from financial ruin. Emily has no intention to marry for any other reason than love and as a result, hope to sell her novel instead. To generate publicity and increase the interest, Emily has come up with a plan – to “become” a vampire or at least, masquerade as one just long enough to be seen and generate a buzz.

Logan is an American in London. He knows he’s only tolerated because he is wealthy and he is fine with it. Lately, however, he’s been feeling uncomfortable. He has the feeling that he’s being observed… and thought he spot someone from his past, it’s impossible because the person is dead.

My Opinion: Okay, so unfortunately, Tempted at Midnight didn’t work for me 🙁 My main reason is Emily. I liked her in the first book, I thought she was bold, outspoken and direct. However, as the series advanced, she lost her shine, her luster… I understand what the author was trying to do – the whole bickering because we’re attracted to each other and usually, I like it… but with Emily, I felt she was too snobbish and haughty. Her whole attitude was too much and too negative in my opinion and there were a lot of prejudices. If at least, she knew him better, then it would have gone better with me. One of the scene in particular – when Logan comes to talk to Emily’s father about the debt. Emily immediately jumps on her high horse and accuses Logan of harassing her father for repayment. First, that was not Logan’s purpose and second, she never let him explain- not that he tried, and anyway, I don’t think she would have believed him. In the end, I felt her sharpness came out wrong and as a result, she grated on my nerves a lot. It’s really unfortunate, because I really liked Emily’s character in the beginning of the series… and I knew from the beginning that she and Logan would be a couple.

One of the main problem also is that I didn’t feel the connection or chemistry between Logan and Emily. Sure, they were attracted to each other, but that was pretty much it. Even at the end, after Logan marries Emily because they were found in a compromising situation, they suddenly were in love with each other and everything was fine. It felt phony ^_^; Finally, I have to say, the different storylines – Emily masquerading as a vampire, Emily and Logan’s relationship and Logan’s stalker – didn’t blend well together. It was very clear-cut and didn’t intertwine very well.

Of course, there were parts I enjoyed… I liked the brief scenes with Emily’s family – meeting all of her siblings. I wished we could have a bit more. I liked Caroline’s side-story, it was nice to see her again and to see the friendship between the women. It always seemed like Caroline and Emily had a bond between them and it was nice to see it. Although the storyline was nice, I thought 1) it seemed like Ms D’Alessandro was filling the pages and 2) why couldn’t Caroline remain childless? I mean, that was one of the important points in her book right… I guess I just felt everything was a bit too convenient.

So yep, this book didn’t really rock my boat. It was quite disappointing because this series started off quite well. The storylines were quite original and interesting… and then, it dwindled down. Hmm, I think it lost its sparkle somewhere along 🙁

My Grade: 2/5. It really hurts me to give Tempted at Midnight this grade and perhaps, it was a case of me and not the book, although I doubt it… However, despite everything, I’m still looking forward to Ms D’Alessandro’s next book 🙂

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

Other books in the series:

Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

Tagged: , , , , ,

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.

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,