Tag: Retro-Review

Retro-Review: Table Manners by Mia King.

Posted November 22, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Retro-Review: Table Manners by Mia King.Reviewer: Rowena
Table Manners by Mia King
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: August 4th 2009
Pages: 336
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The star of Mia King's "entertaining"(Seattle Times) debut novel Good Things is back-and she's got a full plate.

Deidre McIntosh is everyone's favorite go-to person. She seems so successful, so capable, so just plain perfect, with a popular cooking show, her own line of cakes and cookies, and an ideal relationship with Kevin Johnson-considered one of the most desirable men in Seattle.

Then Kevin's ex-fiancée, sultry magazine publisher Sabine Durant, suddenly appears, and Deidre needs help. Already intimidated by Kevin's glamorous, moneyed world-and his sister, who wants Deidre out of Kevin's life-she fears she's no match for Sabine. And the go-to girl must figure out where to go next before the tablecloth is pulled out from under her...

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.*****

Holly: Rowena and I both read a lot of Women’s  Fiction in 2008 and 2009. I think we both grew out of it after that, though we both still dip our toes in occasionally. 

This review was originally posted on August 5, 2009.

I’m a big foodie fan so when I come across books that have bakers and chefs, I get a little (okay a lot) excited. Reading the blurb on this book was no different. I thought the cover was so simple, so cute and it added to my excitement of reading this book. So going into this book, there was a lot of things working in its favor and I’m glad to report that Mia King did a great job keeping me locked into her story.

The only thing that I’m pretty bummed about is that I didn’t take the time to read the book that came before this one, GOOD THINGS. The reason for that is because we meet Deirdre in that book and from what I can tell, her story really starts there. It would have been nice to read that book but I wasn’t completely lost in this story. I enjoyed it a whole bunch and as soon as I can, I’m going to track down that book and read it.

This book is about Deidre moving on from the drama that her life has been. She’s giving baking gourmet cookies a shot and she’s genuinely happy with her life. She’s got a great man by her side and her business is doing pretty well until everything starts to crumble around her. She needs to come up with new recipes for new cookies that will be a hit in five days, she doesn’t think she’ll do it and then she’s got to deal with her boyfriend’s evil sister who hates her guts and then, his ex pops back into their lives and Deirdre is about to lose her mind.

This book showed just how far Deirdre has come since everyone first met her in Good Things. She’s got a new life now, she’s not on TV anymore. She’s baking cookies. Her living arrangements have certainly come up and she’s seriously happy with the way that her life is going but to watch her struggle with this new life and then come face to face with the world that her boyfriend is from and not know where you actually fit in made for a great read. I enjoyed seeing Deirdre bumble her way toward the ending and I just genuinely liked her. I thought she was a great character and I really enjoyed the romance between her and Kevin.

I thought Kevin was such a stud. He was so good to Deirdre and he was just one of those stand up guys that is charming and you can’t help but love him. It was his sister Marla that I couldn’t frickin’ stand. Talk about someone swears her shit don’t stink. And then there was Sabine or Tabby as Kevin called her. She was that perfect woman that nobody can compare to and yet, I liked Deirdre better. I thought Deirdre was more down to earth and the person that I wanted to have as a friend. It was funny to see Tabby eyeing Deirdre, that made me laugh. The cast of characters all brought something to the story and I thought they were all well written.

I’m really glad that I read this book. I definitely recommend this book to those of you guys who are looking for something light but not so light that it’s fluffy. There’s a great story between these pages and I really think everyone should try it out. It was a really fast read and a read that left me feeling wistful and hopeful. A definite recommend.

4 out of 5

Check It Out

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


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Retro-Review: Heart Change by Robin D. Owens

Posted November 15, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 7 Comments

Retro-Review: Heart Change by Robin D. OwensReviewer: Holly
Heart Change by Robin D. Owens
Series: Celta's Heartmates #8
Also in this series: Heart Fate, HeartMate, HeartMate, Heart Dance, Heart Journey, Heart Secret, Heart Legacy
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: November 3rd 2009
Pages: 384
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three-half-stars

First time in print?the fantastic new Celta novel from the award-winning author of Heart Fate.
Signet D'Marigold's lonely life is shaken when a prophet reveals she is a catalyst for change. But to accept her new life-and the charge of the noble child Avellana-means embracing a danger that may be fatal for them both. Especially when Signet's attraction to her new bodyguard signals a secret enemy sworn to destroy them.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.*****

Holly: This series is still going strong. I love the world of Celta and look forward to falling into it with each new release.

This review was originally posted on November 2, 2009.

As I recently mentioned, I started this series with book 7, Heart Fate. Over the last month or so I finally caught up on the rest of the series (with the exception of one book I still need to read). I’ve really enjoyed the series up to this point. Owens truly excels at writing strong characters and excellent world-building. Each time I open one of these I can’t wait to fall into her world. I enjoyed some in the series better than others and I’d say Heart Change falls somewhere in the middle.

Signet D’Marigold has pretty much given up on life. She’s the last of her line and she’s practically drowning in loneliness. All of her friends seem to leave her, and because she doesn’t know what her flair is, she doesn’t really have a purpose in life. All that changes when Muin “Vinnie” T’Vine, the teen prophet, shows up and says he knows what her flair is and he needs her help. She’s a catalyst. Just being near her changes the course of other people’s lives for the better.

Vinnie’s heartmate, Avellana, is getting ready to experience her first passage – the time when flair (magical ability) is released for the first time. Because she suffered an accident in the past Vinnie and Avellana’s parents aren’t convinced that she’ll make it through passage safely. Vinnie requests that Avellana move in with Signet because he “saw” that she’d be able to help Avellana.

Avellana’s parents aren’t taking any chances with her safety and hire Cratag Maytree to guard her while she’s with Signet. Cratag has little flair, and ever since landing in Celta he’s been feeling displaced. He’s the captain of the guard for T’Hawthorn, but he knows he isn’t truly one of the family. That’s confirmed when T’Hawthorn assigns him to guard Avellana and Signet. Although he resents being shuffled around, he can’t help but look forward to spending time with Signet, as he’s been attracted to her for some time.

When this book first opens I wasn’t sure I’d like Signet. She was in the middle of a pity party and she didn’t seem like someone I could relate to. As the story progressed she really came alive for me. We come to understand the depth of her loneliness and despair and she really grows, accepting who and what she is. She really opened up throughout the story, not just to Cratag, but also to Avellana, Vinnie and some of the other secondary characters. I really liked watching her come into her own.

As much as I liked Cratag in the previous novels, I wasn’t as impressed with him here. In some regards he was exactly what Signet needed. He was strong and comforting, and I liked that he really let her lean on him when she needed to, but also pushed her when needed to stand up for herself. He really encouraged her to become her own person, which was wonderful. As much as I liked him with Signet, however, I really didn’t care for him on his own.

He doesn’t feel like he’s good enough for Signet. Or really at all. Although he’s the captain of the guard for T’Hawthorn, because he has little flair he doesn’t really feel like he’s been accepted in Celta. So he holds himself back. While I understood this initially, I felt he took it too far. His inner dialogue was focused almost solely on his shortcomings – from his attire to his lack of flair – and it was frustrating. If Signet grew and found herself, Cratag almost seemed to move backward. He seemed more confident and sure of himself in the beginning of the novel than he did at the end.

Having said that, I did enjoy the progression of the relationship. I liked them together and really wanted to see things work between them. Had Cratag been a little faster to realize his own worth I think this could have ended up as one of my favorites.

I really loved the secondary characters. We met all of them earlier in the series, but they played a larger part here. I’ll be curious to see how things develop with Vinnie and Avellana in the future, especially since some of the things that were revealed here still need to be dealt with. I can’t wait to see what happens with Laev, either. He’s Cratag’s young cousin and there was a good amount of the book spent on his story. I hope Owens picks up that thread again soon.

I also really liked both Signet and Cratag’s Fams. I couldn’t help but laugh when Cratag got a rolly-polly kitten as his, but they seemed to fit well together.

I enjoyed the suspense, though it wasn’t hard to figure out who the villain was. I think watching how the characters dealt with it made up for the lack of mystery. I really liked learning more about first passage and experiencing it with Avellana.

Overall I enjoyed the romance, though it had flaws. Despite my issues I feel it’s a good entry to the series and I’ll probably read it again.

3.75 out of 5

The Series

Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

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

three-half-stars


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Retro-Review: The Perfect Murder by Brenda Novak

Posted November 8, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Retro-Review: The Perfect Murder by Brenda NovakReviewer: Casee
The Perfect Murder (The Last Stand, #6) by Brenda Novak
Series: The Last Stand #6
Published by MIRA
Publication Date: September 29th 2009
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 448
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four-stars

For more than a year, Sebastian Costas has been trying to unravel the truth behind the murder of his ex-wife and son. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he's convinced that her second husband—a cop—committed both murders, then faked his own death. Now Sebastian has followed the slimmest of leads to Sacramento…and that's where he finally gets the break he needs. Jane Burke, an investigator with The Last Stand, calls him in connection with a separate crime—a crime that could lead him straight to the man he's been looking for.

Once married to a serial killer, Jane has spent the past five years rebuilding her life. And with Sebastian she finally has a chance at happiness. But the man they're after is after them, too. For him this has become a personal battle, one he's determined to win. Whatever it takes…

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.*****

Holly: It’s interesting to me that 8-10 years down the road we’re still reading the same authors. I love that we’ve been able to go the distance with them. 

This review was originally posted on November 5, 2009.

This is the first book in this series that I wasn’t really looking forward too. The reason is that I was never really interested in the character of Jane Burke. I understand that I’m supposed to be sympathetic to her since she was married to a serial killer, but that was never the case. I never really felt bad for her. I felt bad for the situation she was in. I felt bad that she lost someone she loved. I just never felt bad for her. She made her bed. So I wasn’t very happy when I saw that she was going to be the heroine.

Jane is trying to make a name for herself at The Last Stand. With the help of Skye and Sheridan, Jane wants to help victims like herself. That’s another thing. While I guess she was technically a victim, I never saw her as such. I guess I’m not very sympathetic. When Skye and Ava go to South America on a paying job and Sheridan is out on maternity leave, Jane is in charge of The Last Stand. Hoping to prove herself, Jane takes a job for two teenage girls that have gone missing.

Sebastian Costas has been following Malcolm Turner for over a year. Since Malcolm killed Sebastian’s ex-wife and son then faked his own death, Sebastian has been on his trail. With his funds running low and time running out, Sebastian follows him to Sacramento. He has never been able to convince anyone that Malcolm is alive, but he has never doubted that. When his investigation puts him in Jane’s path, the two end up working together since their cases seem to be related.

Jane is understandably wary of getting involved with any man, let alone a man that has as much baggage as she does. I just wasn’t really feeling the relationship between Jane and Sebastian. I wanted to. By the time they actually met, I was starting to like Jane as a character. I liked Sebastian as well, even though he was obsessed with revenge.

Brenda Novak writes chilling villains. She has definitely proved herself as far as that goes. She is right behind Karen Rose in that respect, something that is pretty hard to do. At the beginning of the book, Malcolm seems to be the person that you would not want to meet in a dark alley. As the book goes on, he loses his steam. He ends up being rather pathetic. That was disappointing b/c Brenda Novak always comes through when it comes to her villains.

This is my least favorite of the series. Even being my least favorite, it was still a good read.

3.75 out of 5.

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

Other books in the series:

Trust Me Stop Me Watch Me The Perfect Liar The Perfect Murder

four-stars


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Retro Review: Demon Moon by Meljean Brook

Posted November 1, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 8 Comments

Retro Review: Demon Moon by Meljean BrookReviewer: Holly
Demon Moon by Meljean Brook
Series: The Guardians #2
Also in this series: Demon Night, Demon Bound, Demon Forged, Guardian Demon, Demon Angel
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: June 5th 2007
Pages: 480
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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four-half-stars

No one would call vampire Colin Ames-Beaumont kind, but they would call him unnaturally beautiful. For two centuries his tainted blood has kept him isolated from other vampires, sustained only by his beauty and vanity—bitter comforts, since a curse has erased his mirror reflection, replacing it with a terrifying glimpse of Chaos.

Savi Murray's insatiable curiosity had gotten her into trouble before, but she'd always escaped unscathed. Then came Colin. In the midst of Heaven, he gave her a taste of ecstasy—and of Chaos. Deadly creatures from that realm herald the return of an imprisoned nosferatu horde, and Colin and Savi’s bond is their only protection—and their only passion…

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This review was originally posted on April 27, 2007.

Side Note: There’s no way I can review this book without including spoilers from the first one, Demon Angel. If you haven’t read DA yet, you may want to skip this review. I’ll try to keep the spoilers for this one to a minimum. :End Side Note

As I’ve mentioned several times now, I won an ARC of this on Sybil‘s blog. I was really excited to read it, especially after Demon Angel (and who doesn’t love free ARC’s?).

Although I enjoyed DA, my biggest issue with it was the pacing. It seemed bogged down with info dumps and was often so slow going I felt like banging my head against the wall. Although it took me ages to read this, it wasn’t because of the pacing. It was just my own busy life intruding on my reading time. The pacing issues were totally cleared up. Way to go, Meljean.

When I heard Colin the Vampire was set to be the hero of this book, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Though I truly enjoyed his character in Demon Angel, I thought he seemed shallow and vain and…almost immature? But MB did an amazing job of showing us the different sides of him. Yes, he was shallow and vain about some things, but the truth is, he was just as tortured as Hugh. Watching him struggle to battle his personal demons and his attraction to Savi was just..amazing.

As for Savi, well, I loved her. Plain and simple. Like, I totally have a girl-crush on her. Where Lilith was in-your-face strong, Savi’s strength was more internal, but no less amazing. I think she was a more personable heroine. The kind you’d like to be friends with. I loved her wit and humor and her general approach to life.

We saw the same characters. Michael and Selah, the Guardians. Lilith and Hugh. Auntie. Sir Pup. And we were introduced to several new characters. Mostly vampires. But they stayed in the background and the main focus was on Colin and Savi. We learned more about their time together in Caelum, Colin’s past and his link to Chaos, Savi’s family and just who they were period. In DA I often felt like, just when the exchanges between Hugh and Lilith were getting intense, the focus would shift to something else. It didn’t feel that way at all in this novel.

Although there are other things going on around them. A rogue demon, a cult of vampires and pressure for Colin to lead the vampire community. I love the world she’s created. This isn’t your typical vampire story. There’s still the battle for good vs. evil and the different realms. Plus, Chaos. That was creepy. And different.

The conflict between Savi and Colin, and the major thing that threatens their HEA was perfectly done. I don’t want to spoil it, but it was very believable. A lot of times authors don’t create a credible reason for why the H/H may not end up together. I was on the edge of my seat with this one. And the end? Awesome. I even cried a little.

I think the only issue I had with the book was…the sexual tension. Normally I lurve me some sexual tension, but this went on WAY too long. I mean, come one. Every single time they were about to get it on, something would happen. I was about to pull my hair out. Luckily once they finally get to doing the dirty it makes up for all the previous tension. But I have to tell you, I was hurting there for awhile. g

One last thing. On her blog, Meljean mentioned someone else reading this book and saying it could standalone. I completely disagree. I think had I not read Demon Angel first, I’d have been completely lost. As it was, there were several times I had to go back to DA to reference something. IMO, they should be read together.

I’m anxious to read the Wild Thing anthology, which contains Selah’s story. If you’re interested, Gwen from over at Sybil’s blog reviewed it. It sounds great.

Overall this book was amazing. Savi and Colin were wonderful characters and I can’t wait for the next installment.

4.5 out of 5

This book is out June 5, so be sure to bump it up to the top of your wish list. In the meantime? Go visit Meljean’s site. I really like it. And BONUS! She has excerpts up. 😉

four-half-stars


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Retro Review: Some Enchanted Season by Marilyn Pappano

Posted October 25, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 4 Comments

Retro Review: Some Enchanted Season by Marilyn PappanoReviewer: Casee
Some Enchanted Season (Bethlehem, #2) by Marilyn Pappano
Series: Bethlehem #2
Published by Bantam
Publication Date: December 1st 1998
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 374
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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Sometimes miracles do happen.

When Maggie left her husband Ross that fateful Christmas Eve, their marriage was over.  But a near fatal accident on an ice-slick road changed everything.

Now another Christmas approaches.  While Maggie hasn't regained all her memory, she's ready to test her strength at home--with Ross as her only companion.  Sharing a house with him once more, putting on the best face for their neighbors, Maggie knows she's living a lie.

Then she glimpses Ross as he used to be: playful and passionate, the man of her dreams before ambition changed him.  She couldn't know he's feeling the same regrets, the same heartache...or that he fears the return of her memory.  What will happen when she remembers the reason she fled from him last year?

It will take a miracle to send the walls of anger and secrecy tumbling down and reunite the divided couple.  But in the small town of Bethlehem, miracles do happen....

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This review was originally posted on December 14, 2007.

I absolutely adore this book. I love it. After I read it, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I love reunion books. I love how I can re-read this every single year (at Christmas, of course) and still get as caught up in the story as I did the first time. This is one of my absolute favorite re-reads of all time (especially during the holiday season)…

Arriving back in Bethlehem a few days before Thanksgiving, Maggie has no memory of what drove her from her home that fateful night on Christmas Eve of last year. All she does remember is that after sixteen years of marriage, she and her husband, Ross, have decided to throw in the towel. After 11 months of extensive physical therapy, Maggie is forced to except Ross’s help in her recovery. Their plan was simple. Ross would be around to help Maggie for two months. They would then part amicably and then quietly get divorced.

Really, is there any such thing as an amicable divorce? Seriously.

After being a workaholic for so many years, Ross finds himself curiously adrift. Never being able to find the right balance between being a CEO and husband, Ross refuses to let himself read even one email or answer one phone call. He decides that it’s the nicest thing he can do for Maggie. A parting gift, if you will.

Nothing ever goes according to plan, of course. When you live in a town full of people offering advice, a town that has its’ own guardian angel, it’s very easy to think “what if”. It doesn’t take Ross long to start thinking that he and Maggie could make things work. There’s only one problem. While Maggie doesn’t remember the previous Christmas Eve, Ross does. He knows that it’s highly likely that when Maggie remembers what happened, it will drive her from his arms for good.

I can’t say enough how much I love this book. It’s a book about two people who lost their way. Going back to their roots, Maggie and Ross both have to look inside themselves to find what makes them happy. While Ross did put work ahead of Maggie, Maggie is far from blameless in the demise of their marriage. Coming to terms with that is hard for her, but she’s able to do it. Maggie is one of my favorite heroines.

Taking place during the holiday season, this is the perfect holiday read. I would love to live in Bethlehem.

5 out of 5


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