Tag: DIK Reading Challenge

DIK Reading Challenge Review: Dream A Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Posted December 31, 2010 by Tracy in Reviews | 6 Comments

After the discovery that her late husband, a popular televangelist, embezzled five million dollars from his ministry, Rachel Stone is outcast and broke with a five-year-old son to raise, and in need of a job. Then fate and a dead car engine leaves her at a shabby drive-in theater owned by Gabriel Bonner, the hunky, anti-social black sheep of a prominent family, and the only person in Salvation, North Carolina, willing to employ her. The sexual electricity starts crackling the instant they meet–but it will take the shock of both their lives to give these two lonely people a second chance at love.

Rachel and her 5 year old son, Edward, drive into Salvation, North Carolina and her car breaks down. Not what she wanted to happen. She’s stuck right in front of a dilapidated drive-in whose owner seems to be a bear of a man who brings out the worst in Rachel.

She’s desperate though and so she asks the man, Gabriel, for a job. He gives her a flat out NO but she’s stubborn as a mule and won’t give up. After humiliating herself to the nth degree he finally gives her a job. Rachel is determined to do the best she can. She needs money to feed her son – even though she’s not feeding herself.

Gabriel soon discovers that she’s living in her car and calls his brother, a local minister, to come and help. When his brother, Ethan, arrives he’s none to happy to see Rachel. You see Rachel is the widow of a shyster televangelist whose headquarters were right there in Salvation. When G. Dwayne and his Temple were going down in a great ball of flame he blamed his wife, yes, that would be Rachel, for her materialistic desires and that’s why he felt the need to steal everyone’s money. Ethan believed all of what G. Dwayne had said so that even now, three years later, he wants Rachel gone before she can cause more havoc in the town.

Gabriel has Rachel and Edward put up in his grandmothers cottage and Rachel continues to work at the drive-in getting it ready for its grand opening. But life is not great for either Rachel or Gabriel. They each have their reasons for being in Salvation and neither wants to share with the other. But they seem to form a weird bond, besides unwanted lust for one another, that confuses each of them. It’s that strange something that moves them into a sexual relationship. But can you be in a sexual relationship on a regular basis and not form a more emotional bond? In this case, no.

That is such a small, very small, summary of what this book is about. Dream a Little Dream is a heart wrenching story of loss, deprivation, hatred and revenge. But it’s also the story of love, acceptance and understanding. It’s about two people finding each other during a time in their lives when they desperately need someone else – they just hadn’t figured that out yet.

For all of Gabriel’s abruptness the man charmed me from the first moment. It’s like I could see that he was hurting inside and trying to push people away even though nothing had been explained to me yet. His was just a soul that was crying out and Rachel, for all of her sometimes crass speech and sarcasm was just what Gabriel needed. He needed to see that someone had hit rock bottom but was still fighting and not giving up on life – which is exactly what he’d been doing. He was going through the motions of living for the sake of his family but inside he was dead and couldn’t see any bright light coming at him. Whether he wanted it to happen or not, Rachel started bringing some of that light

Rachel for all her toughness was scared out of her mind. Her concern was for her son though and she just wanted to make him a good life. It didn’t have to be one that had them living in splendor, she just wanted enough money to feed and clothe Edward and to keep him safe. At times I just wanted her to come out to the community members who were mean to her (including Gabriel’s brothers) and have her tell them the truth about G. Dwayne and their life but I realized that it wouldn’t have made a difference. The people of Salvation had heard what they wanted to hear and believed it with no question. I felt bad for Rachel but I also think her silence about things helped her in the end.

I don’t want to give anything away – and I think I’ve given you enough tidbits for you to decide whether you want to read the book or not. It’s a great book. Yes, it was the darkest SEP that I’ve read but it was so good I loved reading it. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Dream A Little Dream was a great, if atypical, love story, but it was also a wonderful story about family.

A wonderful way to end the year, and the DIK Challenge as well!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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DIK Challenge Review: The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

Posted November 25, 2010 by Tracy in Reviews | 9 Comments

When I realized it was time to start thinking about what book I would read for this months DIK Challenge I was extremely excited to see The Serpent Prince on Katie Reus’s list as I had just gotten it from the library and was planning on reading it anyway! I love it when things work out that way.
When the devil meets an angel…

Country bred Lucy Craddock-Hayes is content with her quiet life. Until the day she trips over an unconscious man—a naked unconscious—and loses her innocence forever.

he can take her to heaven…

Viscount Simon Iddesleigh was nearly beaten to death by his enemies. Now he’s hell-bent on vengeance. But as Lucy nurses him back to health, her honesty startles his jaded sensibilities—even as it ignites a desire that threatens to consume them both.

or to hell.

Charmed by Simon’s sly wit, urbane manners, and even his red-heeled shoes, Lucy falls hard and fast for him. Yet as his honor keeps him from ravishing her, his revenge sends his attackers to her door. As Simon wages war on his foes, Lucy wages her own war for his soul using the only weapon she has—her love…
Lucy finds Simon Iddesleigh beaten and stabbed in a ditch far from his home in London. Against her father’s wishes she nurses Simon back to health at their home in Kent. While recuperating from his injuries Simon finds himself falling in love with Lucy but knows he can’t be with her because his life, and his soul, are too dark for one so bright and shining as Lucy.
Lucy is stunned when Simon comes to Kent to ask her to marry him but she can’t possibly deny him. She cares deeply for Simon as well and is thrilled that this wonderful man loves her. Simon whisks Lucy off to London and places her with his sister-in-law and niece to live until the wedding. But as the weeks move on, both before and after the marriage, Lucy discovers a part of Simon that he tried to keep secret – the revenge that he is seeking for the murder of his brother and the reputation ruining of his sister-in-law. She knows what he is doing is wrong but the reasons make so much sense to her she really is in a quandary. She knows he should stop but can’t get him to listen to reason. How can she stop him before he gets himself killed?
I have to say I had very mixed feelings about this book. While it’s written very well and in the same great style as I’ve gotten used to with Hoyt’s books, I found myself having a roller coaster of emotions over the characters and their personalities.
Lucy – When she first found Simon in the ditch and while she was nursing him she seemed like a very strong woman and I was really looking forward to getting to know her better.  But during what I feel was the second part of the book – the part she goes to London – she almost felt like a secondary character and I didn’t get to know her as I wished. Sure, she was in the book and played a role but I really didn’t see her strength after that. Her fortitude with Simon, definitely, but she almost fell by the wayside…was almost in Simon’s shadow in the book.
Simon – Oh boy, where do I start? I really liked Simon…to a point. I loved that he wasn’t a big buff guy but was still a man none-the-less. He was certain of his strength, vitality and well, manliness, even though he had a kind of metrosexual vibe goin on. He definitely liked to look good and did the silver coat, red-heeled shoes, and powdered wig with absolutely no hesitation. I loved that about him. But it was all just a costume to hide the man inside. Who was that man? Simon didn’t even know. His mother had painted him as the “bad” son to his brother’s “good” and he decided to take that ball and run with it. But that’s not really who he was. When he decided to avenge his bother’s murderers he hated doing what he did but it didn’t stop him. That really had me stopping and thinking as I read because it’s a rare person who can kill someone and not be tainted for life by it. Lucy helped him through in the end, which was great but I’d love to see a Lucy and Simon in 5 years and see how it’s effected their lives.
Then there was Lucy and Simon together – so sweet when he was at her house in the country. Even though his witty banter was a cover up you could tell that he could be such a dear person and he truly loved Lucy. But the love walked a fine line in my book from healthy to obsessive. I think that shows the intricacies of Hoyt’s writing that she can take you to that point in their relationship and still pull you back so that it’s all ok in the end.
Some may look at my thoughts here and think that I didn’t like the book but I did- I thought it was very good. Would I re-read it? Probably not, but you never know. There may be one day I’ll be thinking about Simon and Lucy and think – maybe I read them wrong…and feel the need to look them up and see if my thoughts change. For now I’ll let Simon and Lucy go live their lives in peace.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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DIK Reading Challenge Review: Craving Beauty by Nalini Singh

Posted October 29, 2010 by Tracy in Reviews | 6 Comments

Marc was dangerous to her in the way that only a strong, sexy male could be to a woman. Even knowing that, she’d agreed to marry him.

Hope blossomed in Hira’s heart. Perhaps she’d married a man with whom it might be worth building a life. Her mother had worried that he was scarred, but the lines on his face did nothing to lessen his raw masculine appeal. If anything, they gave him an even more dangerous male air, enticing the feminine core of her to thoughts that shocked her.

What did a man’s face matter anyway? She had no use for handsome men.

But for a man with a heart? For such a man…she might risk everything.

Marc Bordeaux is doing business with Hira’s father when they first see each other. Notice I didn’t say “meet” each other. In fact though they share a few smiles – which go straight to both their heads – they don’t talk at all. Hira’s father won’t let Marc even talk to Hira and Marc ends up asking for Hira’s hand in marriage, from her father, just to be near the woman.

Though Hira had shared the smiles with Marc and had hoped that those smiles could blossom into something more she’s now madder than a hornet that the man would marry her without ever speaking to her. Her whole life she’s been seen as an object and not a person and she’s had enough. On their wedding night she confronts Marc and eventually refuses to let him spend his wedding night in her bed.

The couple heads back to Louisiana, which is where Marc is from and life is not easy. Oh, financially they’re fine because Marc is a multi-millionaire, but neither is happy. Marc lusts for Hira but she won’t have anything to do with him. Eventually though both Marc and Hira start seeing sides to the other that are completely unexpected – and they’re liking what they’re seeing. Can they make the relationship work in the end?

I am a confirmed Nalini Singh fan. I love her books and I’m not sure how I missed this one on the DIK book list all these months. When it finally poked its way into my brain I knew that this would be my read for the month.

Now, category romances aren’t my favorite. There are some that I’ve read that I really enjoyed and some that I’ve not liked at all. This was definitely more on the end of “really enjoyed” but I did have a few issues with it.

First there was Hira’s assumption that Marc only saw her as chattel. Ok, she really had every right to think that since he’d married her without even talking to her but she didn’t even give the guy a chance until later in the book. She thought she knew how he felt and really didn’t give him a chance to defend himself. What would she have done, I wonder, had she ended up marrying a man from her own country that was as “free-thinking” as Marc was? IDK. Something to think about.

Then Marc’s attitude toward her intelligence stuck in my craw. When he finally started talking to her like she had a brain in her head and she told him the subjects he liked to read and study, he laughed at her – the bastard!

Ok – now that I’ve gotten my dislikes out of the way, I’ll tell you what I did like about the book.

I liked that we were shown the many facets of their romance as they were getting to know each other. The little details that the other noticed that made them stop and think – hey, maybe there’s more to this person than I originally thought.

There was also a portion to the book that had to do with an orphanage and Marc’s attachment to it that I just loved. Though he was a wealthy businessman he not only took the time to do things for the orphanage but planned on adopting all the boys in it! I’m such a sucker for orphanage stories!

Overall it was a good romance. Quite a bit of arguing and angst and miscommunication but in the end a sweet romance.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

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DIK Reading Challenge Review: Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

Posted September 24, 2010 by Tracy in Reviews | 15 Comments

She stood at danger’s threshold— then love beckoned her in.

In the shelter of her country cottage, Sara Fielding puts pen to paper to create dreams. But curiosity has enticed the prim, well-bred gentlewoman out of her safe haven—and into Derek Craven’s dangerous world.

A handsome, tough and tenacious Cockney, he rose from, poverty to become lord of London’s most exclusive gambling house—a struggle that has left Derek Craven fabulously wealthy, but hardened and suspicious. And now duty demands he allow Sara Fielding into his world— with her impeccable manners and her infuriating innocence. But here, in a perilous shadow-realm of ever-shifting fortunes, even a proper “mouse” can be transformed into a breathtaking enchantress—and a world-weary gambler can be shaken to his cynical core by the power of passion. . .and the promise of love.

Sara Fielding is doing “research” down in a the rookery when she hears a man being attacked.  What she comes upon is Derek Craven, one of London’s richest men, being attacked.  Sara helps Derek return to the gentleman’s club that he owns.  She becomes friendly with Derek’s factotum, Worthy, and he allows Sara to have run of the club during the day so that she can get information for her next novel.  But Derek’s not thrilled about that at all.  He seems to have an attraction to Sara that he wants to do nothing about and he doesn’t want her around.

Sara seems to be having a thing for Derek as well but she’s almost engaged to Mr. Kingswood back in Greenwood Corners – where she hails from.  But once she returns to GC Mr Kingswood isn’t thrilled with the woman that he thinks Sara’s become.  

Spurred on by friends of Derek’s as well as an evil ex-paramour of Derek’s, Sara finds herself with Derek but is everything she’d thought it would be?

This was one of KristieJ’s DIK picks and a book that many a friend have talked about as being really good.  I have to agree.  It was a really good book that i enjoyed reading.

I loved that Derek was not the typical romance hero.  He was born in the rookery, raised by prostitutes and had done some awful, abhorrent things in his life. But he was a man who needed love and Sara was there for him.  I can understand why he thought he didn’t deserve her – he probably didn’t, but it didn’t stop their love from blossoming. 

Overall a very different romance but one I really enjoyed.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 

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DIK Reading Challenge and M/M Challenge Review: Camp Hell by Jordan Castillo Price

Posted August 26, 2010 by Tracy in Reviews | 11 Comments

Victor Bayne honed his dubious psychic skills at one of the first psych training facilities in the country, Heliotrope Station, otherwise known as Camp Hell to the psychics who’ve been guests behind its razorwire fence.

Vic discovered that none of the people he remembers from Camp Hell can be found online, and there’s no mention of Heliotrope Station itself, either. Someone’s gone through a lot of trouble to bury the past. But who?
This is book 5 in the Psycop series. In books 1-4 we heard various references to Heliotrope Station aka Camp Hell – the facility that Vic and other psychs “trained” at – and every time Vic recollected anything in his life from that period of time he broke out in a sweat. It was not a time to be thought of fondly.
In this book we find that Vic has decided to face his fears and look into Camp Hell and the people he was there with via the internet, only he can’t find anything. There’s nothing to be found at all: nothing about the fellow psychs he was there with, nothing about the place itself – and rating 10 on the uber-weird scale…nothing on himself. It doesn’t matter where he looks on the internet there is absolutely no information about him. Needless to say this freaks our already somewhat paranoid main character right the hell out. He wants to find out who is hiding him in plain sight and find out why they’re doing it.
After using his psych friend Lisa to gain information about who can help him acquire information he heads to his old partner, and the man who tried to kidnap him for his own gain, Roger Burke. Burke attempts to coerce Vic into recanting his statement so that he can get out of prison and if Vic agrees he’ll give him any info he has on Camp Hell. Why does Burke have this information? He used to work for the FPMP – the Federal Pararnomal Monitoring Program. The same people who seem to be following Vic around wherever he goes. When Vic realizes that he’s being followed and checked in on on a regular basis, he’s suddenly afraid to talk to Jacob in their own home or use his cell phone.
But as much as he wants to stay away and hide from the FPMP they’re right there, invading every nook and cranny of Vic’s life. Vic has some incredibly hard decisions to make about how exactly he wants to live his life and how the FPMP will fit into it…or not. Along with this craziness he finds his old lover from Camp Hell who is a hypnotist. Stefan helps Vic in some regression therapy and Vic starts remembering some things about events at Camp Hell.
I can tell you that I’ve been on an absolute binge of the Psycop books in the past couple of weeks. I was really mad at the end of this book! Was it because it sucked? Absolutely not. It was because it was the last one I could dive into! lol
Camp Hell, as well as all of the other books in this series, are just incredibly good reads. Ms. Price has such a wonderful way of pulling you into the story and not letting go. The world she built is much like the one we currently live in but it’s got the added knowledge that psychics of all sorts do exist. The books are incredibly humorous and I found myself laughing through many different parts of the book. The books aren’t comedies though – they are considered horror but I never thought that anything was so gruesome that I couldn’t read it. Yes, dead people/ghosts are described but it was all ok for me.
Along with the humor and the horror we have the relationship between Vic and his boyfriend Jacob that has been growing, moving and changing since book 1. I gotta tell you I love those two together. They just work. Are either one of them perfect? No way, but even when they have trying times in their relationship they work it out and it just makes my crazy romantic heart do the happy dance. Such a great romance I can’t even put it into words. Oh, and the sex. Beyond a doubt some of the hottest sex scenes I’ve ever read. These boys pull no punches and I fuckin loved it.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I loved Camp Hell…as well as all the other books. I could babble and gush til I’m blue but I’m just gonna say: read the books. Seriously. If you haven’t already read them go get them now and devour them. It will be so worth your time.
Rating: 5 out of 5

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