Tag: Mary’s Reviews

Guest Review: Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos

Posted February 8, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Published by Berkley, Penguin

Mary’s review of Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos.

 

There’s no place for pride in this Austen misadventure.

Chloe Parker was born two centuries too late. A thirty-nine-year- old divorced mother, she runs her own antique letterpress business, is a lifelong member of the Jane Austen Society, and gushes over everything Regency. But her business is failing, threatening her daughter’s future. What’s a lady to do?

Why, audition for a Jane Austen-inspired TV show set in England, of course.

What Chloe thinks is a documentary turns out to be a reality dating show set in 1812. Eight women are competing to snare Mr. Wrightman, the heir to a gorgeous estate, along with a $100,000 prize. So Chloe tosses her bonnet into the ring, hoping to transform from stressed-out Midwest mom to genteel American heiress and win the money. With no cell phones, indoor plumbing, or deodorant to be found, she must tighten her corset and flash some ankle to beat out women younger, more cutthroat, and less clumsy than herself. But the witty and dashing Mr. Wrightman proves to be a prize worth winning, even if it means the gloves are off…

Let me say right off, this is not a parody. It’s more like a RomCom set in an Austen-like world. A RomCom that’s a mash-up of an English-style Bachelor, costume drama, and reality show all in one. And I really enjoyed it. The reality show portion reminded me of a PBS special I saw several years ago where everyday people tried to live like they were in the 1900’s (I think it was called The 1900 House), foregoing everything modern. *shudder* Not something I could do—I’m way too attached to my social media.

American Chloe Parker, our main character, wins a place on this Jane Austen-inspired show and, leaving her daughter behind with her parents, travels across the pond to transform herself into a proper Regency lady. She’s a bit put-out when she finds out that the show’s evolved into a Regency dating show but, unwilling and unable to go back home, she makes the best of it. It’s a good thing the bachelor’s easy on the eyes and a perfect gentleman. Of course, he’s not the one she keeps tripping over, though he’s the one she has to impress to stay on the show. It’s the other guy who makes her heart skip a beat.

Chloe has some serious trouble letting go of her connections to the modern world, especially since she can’t talk to her daughter on the phone, and this gets her in some trouble with the show’s producers. This fussing about her inability to access current technology gets a bit repetitive at times but also leads to some madcap-ery. (Yes, I just made that word up.)

The plotline itself is a bit predictable but I really liked Chloe—she’s a lot older than many romance books (being nearly the big 4-OH), she’s got a kid, and she’s not fit or gorgeous or perfect. The ending’s a bit too open-ended for me as I like all my T’s crossed and I’s dotted but it works for this story. DEFINITELY NOT MR. DARCY is a fun read—curl up next to the fire, your snuggie and a cup of tea and enjoy. Oh, and be happy you didn’t live in that time (it may seem romantic but, um, no.).

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.0

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


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Guest Review: Tempted by Elisabeth Naughton

Posted January 31, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Genres: Paranormal Romance

Mary’s review of Tempted (Eternal Guardians #3) by Elisabeth Naughton

DEMETRIUS—He’s the hulking, brooding warrior his fellow Guardians avoid. Too dark. Too damaged. And given his heritage, he knows it’s best to keep everyone at arm’s length.

Isadora is missing. The words pounded through his head like a frantic drumbeat. For her own protection, Demetrius had done all he could to avoid the fragile princess, his soul mate. And now she was gone—kidnapped. To get her back, he’ll have to go to the black place in his soul he’s always shunned. As daemons ravage the human realm and his loyalty to the Guardians is put to the ultimate test, Demetrius realizes that Isadora is stronger than anyone thought. And finally letting her into his heart may be the only way to save them both.


As there are two other books in the series before this one, I was a little overwhelmed character-wise at first. However, the introduction when I was introduced to Demetrius and his band of Argonaut brothers, caught and held my attention so I was able to power through the many characters to find their places in this creative and detailed world. Demetrius is a gorgeous warrior who’s got some seriously dark sexual appetites. Well-respected amongst his brothers, he holds himself apart from them because of his twisted parentage (that they don’t know about and he hopes they never will) and his unquenched desire for the princess Isadora, who he sees as a delicate little flower.

Isadora’s anything but fragile. She’s a strong capable woman who hates Demetrius because he’s been cruel and rude to her since she was a child. He believes he can’t show her his softer side (such that it is) or trust her with his secret because, if he relaxes the tight control he has over his emotions and his body for one second, he’s finished—in more ways than one. It’s always a bit stalker-ish to be when one character, especially one who is quite a bit older than the other, is in love with someone he/she watched grow up from a child, as Demetrius did Isadora. But whatever, I guess that’s a human ideal, since it seems to be prevalent in the fantasy/paranormal genre. Despite the immediate ick-factor, I got over it, especially since these people are near-immortals and not human.

While I wish more of the book focused on Demetrius and Isadora and didn’t involve the other brothers and their mates as much, the story was fast-paced and kept me turning the pages. I probably would have been a lot happier with the non-Demetrius/Isadora parts if I’d read the first two books in the series and gotten involved in the other pairings. However, I loved Orpheus, one of the secondary characters. He’s irreverent, prickly, headstrong, and very intriguing—I’m hoping he’ll have his own story!

Rating: 4.0/5.0

This book is available from Sourcebooks Casablanca. You can buy it here in e-format.


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Guest Review: It’s All Greek To Me by Katie MacAlister

Posted December 14, 2011 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 2 Comments


Mary’s review of IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME by Katie MacAlister.


Billionaire Greek playboy Iakovos Papaioannou knew his sister hired her favorite band to perform at her birthday party. He’s just not sure how their six-foot tall, wild-haired, tempestuous manager has already ended up in his bed-and in his heart. Eglantine “Harry” Knight is so not his type. She’s as infuriating as she is intriguing, and she’s can’t keep her hands off of him. But she just may be the woman who knocks him off the world’s most eligible bachelor list for good…

This book. Oh, dear. There are some things in it that are classic Katie and the reason I usually love her books. Yet, there are things that made me cock my head like my dogs when they’re confused as I wondered what the heck she was thinking.

Classic Katie comes out in the form of fabulous banter between the main characters. Harry’s a typical MacAlister creation—larger than life, unconventional, and generally thought to be not super-pretty by all men except for the hero, who immediately throws himself at her feet and worships her extravagant beauty. Okay, not really. Iakovos, formerly the number three most eligible bachelor but now down to position number five, is rich and handsome and has never settled down with one woman because they’re all *yawn* the same. But they meet and Boom! instant attraction. Except all they do is fight (the best part, in my opinion). I love this bit – Katie MacAlister’s got a breezy, fun writing style that keeps me reading.

Unfortunately, they get together and are on their way to happily ever after way too quickly, leaving the rest of the plot to skate along on razor-thin conflicts (the possibility the kid isn’t his, her not feeling like she fits into his life, a bitchy ex-girlfriend…meh) in order to keep us reading.

But let’s get to the WTF-ery, shall we? When we first meet Harry, she’s being dragged up to a bedroom where one of her young charges, Cyn, has been attacked. After much yelling, it comes out that Cyn misinterpreted the signals drunk Theo was giving off and threw herself at him, waiting for him up in his bed. He did kiss her (leaving behind some serious razor burn all over her chest) but then tried to kick her out of his room. Not at all happy with this, she cries foul and has a fit, claiming he hurt her.

Is this supposed to be funny? Because it’s not. It’s not funny that Cyn threw herself at Theo then turned around to claim he attacked her. It’s just not. Rape/sexual attacks are very serious and shouldn’t be used as fodder for humor. It’s definitely not a “meet cute” when Harry goes ballistic, hits Theo, and Iakovos has to break it up, both of them reacting with instant lust for each other despite the seriousness of the situation. Maybe I’m overreacting but the whole situation is a huge WTF for me.

Then there’s Theo, Iakovos’s brother. Turns out he’s an alcoholic with rage issues. My issue with this is that his very serious issues seem to be thrown in to stir things up, to create conflict because there isn’t much else going on conflict-wise in this story.

All in all, while I loved the banter, Harry and even the all-too-perfect Iakovos, the rest of the story leaves much to be desired.

Rating: 1.75/5.0

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


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Guest Review: Making Waves by Tawna Fenske

Posted November 25, 2011 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 3 Comments

Mary’s review of Making Waves by Tawna Fenske

When Alex Bradshaw’s unscrupulous boss kicks him to the curb after 20 faithful years as an executive with the world’s largest shipping company, he sets out to reclaim his dignity and his pension. Assembling a team of fellow corporate castoffs, he sails to the Caribbean to intercept an illegal diamond shipment. None of them counted on quirky blonde stowaway Juli Flynn, who has a perplexing array of talents, a few big secrets, and an intoxicating romantic chemistry with Alex…

I discovered Tawna Fenske via her blog, which is absolutely hilarious and very ribald (Oh, go on. Visit her blog HERE. You know you want to.). Tawna’s the kind of girl I’d like to hang out with. We could ogle hot guys, chat about writing, and drink some yummy adult beverages. (Do I have a little girl crush on her? Maybe. But she’d understand and be totally cool with it.) Anyway, when she announced her first romance was coming out (back in August–yes, this post is just a little late), I immediately went out and pre-ordered it.

MAKING WAVES is hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the crazy fixes Juli and Alex get themselves into. The plot is completely over-the-top, which I adore when it’s done right (and this is done right). Alex and his merry band of corporate castoffs go rogue, with a wildly ridiculous plan to become pirates and rob (re-rob?) their boss of some precious cargo so they can retire in peace and prosperity, like they planned before said boss completely screwed them over.

Having just quit yet another job, Juli’s in town to fulfill her Uncle Frank’s last wish and dump his ashes in this particular area of the Caribbean. Alex and Juli meet at a bar and, before they can even finish their first drinks together, they’re playing an island version of The Newlywed Game. Yes, really.

Then there’s the scene when Juli takes her anti-seasick pills and it makes her completely loopy. And, of course, instead of getting on the charter boat that is to take her to dump Uncle Frank, she climbs into a window and accidentally stows away on Alex’s boat. Alex and his makeshift pirates are none-too-pleased with that turn of events. But she stays, causing trouble and making sparks with Alex. The interplay between the two of them is hot-hot-hot!

If Alex and Juli aren’t entertaining enough on their own, there’s the eclectic crew on board the ship. There’s the big dude, Cody, who insists on being called Cookie (since he’s taken over the galley); there’s Phyllis, who doesn’t know how to be girlie but doesn’t mind some lessons so she can seduce a special guy; and Jake, who’s just crabby about the whole thing. While Cookie’s my favorite, each one of the secondary character adds his/her own flavor to the story.

And then there’s the infamous cheese doodle scene. I won’t say too much about it except that I had to read it over because I laughed so much the first time, I was practically crying. I’ll leave you with this quote: “Oh, baby! I want to rub your cheese doodle ’til my hands turn orange.” p.277 Oh, yes. She went there.

Anyone who likes a lot of humor and a wild plotline in their romance should pick up MAKING WAVES.

Rating: 4.75/5.0

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


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Guest Review: SHADOW WALKER by Allyson James

Posted November 22, 2011 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Genres: Paranormal Romance

Mary’s review of Shadow Walker by Allyson James

Racing her motorcycle down a lonely winter highway, Stormwalker Janet Begay feels the ground collapse beneath her feet. After tumbling two hundred feet into an underground cavern, she manages to escape with help from her sexy dragon-shifter boyfriend, Mick—but not before they disturb some dark forces.

As Janet contends with a hotel inspector intent on putting her out of business, as well as her grandmother, who’s taken up residence, Mick’s behavior becomes strange and erratic, until he is a clear danger to Janet and her friends. Janet’s drag-queen, attitude-ridden magic mirror insists that Mick has been touched by shadows, and the Stormwalker realizes that someone is out to enslave her dragon. Now she must free Mick before he kills her…

Completely drool-worthy, Mick is such a fabulous alpha male and a dragon to boot. Too bad he’s struggling with these shadows that are trying to possess and control him. After he helps out Janet and Nash escape from the skeleton-hand-filled sinkhole (holy cow, I’d have nightmares for ages if I fell into a hole and there were skeletal hands coming after me. *shudder*), Mick emerges from the sinkhole a completely different dragon, one who snaps and snarls at his lover, one who makes Janet’s Magic Mirror scream bloody murder.

The third book in the Stormwalker series, SHADOW WALKER finds Janet on the verge of losing her hotel, her sassy grandmother moving in and putting Janet in her place, and Janet with the mystery of who’s enslaving her boyfriend. On the positive side, Janet’ learning how to combine her Beneath powers with her Stormwalker powers in a way that harnesses the Beneath power so it doesn’t overwhelm her and so Mick and Coyote don’t have to make good on their promise to kill her.

Each Stormwalker book brings new characters and I’m kind of hoping there won’t be too many more added in book four. Right now, there are just enough for an interesting plot without muddying the waters too much. Too many characters can really get confusing. We got to learn a bit more back-story on some of my favorites, namely Coyote and Nash. While I wasn’t a bit fan of Nash in the first book, he really grew on me in the second and, now that I know about his PTSD and experiences in Iraq, I like him even more. And Coyote, he’s just a fabulous character. Who wouldn’t like him?

But back to Mick and Janet. At first, I thought Mick was just being pissy and showing his moody side. But the author had other plans for Mick, slowly enveloping him in shadows until he was completely enthralled to the evil witch. There’s such an amazing connection between Janet and Mick, even when one of them has turned to the dark side. And, of course, the sex between the two of them is H.O.T.

SHADOW WALKER brings the Stormwalker series to another level of awesomeness.

Rating 4.25/5.0

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


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