Thursday, November 30, 2006

Enlightened Love, Shara Lanel


Warning: This review is not for kids. I repeat: This review is not for you, my darling daughter, so stop reading it right now. Also, if you are under 18, or at all squicky about s-e-x, then please, just skip on to the next review, ok?

Now that we've got that established, can I just tell you that this book was HOT? OMG, it was hot.

Now, I'm sharing guilty pleasures here, ok? And don't go all uppity on me when I tell you this, but there are times when I just love reading erotica. It isn't all the time, because most of the time I prefer my stuff much tamer. I like leaving things to my own imagination, which works pretty well, thankyouverymuch. Sure there are some hot scenes in some of my favorite books. Who the heck could forget that dock scene in Jenny Crusie's "Welcome to Temptation"? But every once in a while, I will come across a book that just looks interesting, and I have to pick it up, for research, you understand. As a writer, I need to see what other writer's are doing in their stories, and how they're doing it. That's the case for a book that I'll be reviewing early next week. That wasn't really the case here though, so let me explain.

If I say "New Jersey" are you gonna roll your eyes and mutter, "When is this chick gonna stop talking about Jersey?" Well, then you can go away for a bit too. Because the NJRW book signing is where I met Shara Lanel. She was very nice, and she actually warned me that her book was pretty steamy, like she might be afraid that I'd get home and be offended or something. Well, after talking to her, I was interested. Plus, I won a bottle of wine in her giveaway, and you all have got to know how much I appreciate a decent bottle of wine. It just looks so good on the shelf in my Tuscan-deco kitchen, you know? Anyhow, I came home with the wine and the book. I still have the wine, but the book got lost for a while. Now it's sitting here on my desk, after being devoured in my post-NaNo exhaustion. You wanna hear about the book though, right? Here we go...

Kerry Reynolds has always done the easy thing. She went to the school her parents picked, she got engaged to the guy they liked, and started falling right into the high society life they wanted for her. The only problem was that her husband-to-be had a vicious streak, but nobody would listen to her. One night, it went too far though. When he called her dad to help him clean up a mess (and by mess, I mean body, ok?), Kerry finally snaps out of her safe shell and runs, for her life, straight into the arms of Rick.

Rick Abernathy has spent most of his life in a monastary in India. After his parent's death, a monk took Rick under his wing. After 18 years, Rick is disillusioned, disheartened, and no where near the enlightenment he's been seeking. His aunt has left him a sizable inheritance, and Rick moves to America in search of a new life, which he finds when he meets Kerry. And did I mention he's a virgin?

Rick and Kerry barely start getting to know each other when her almost-hubby shows up and tries to get her back. Ok, really, he just wants her out of the way, but you know what I mean, right? There is danger, there is intrigue, there is romance, and oh yeah, there is steamy hot shecks. Lots of it.

Did I like it? What do you think? It was well written, fast paced, and entertaining. It had a few flaws, but nothing too major. The timeline of the first few days messed with my head. I actually had to go back and count the days that Rick and Kerry had known each other to make sense of some of it. A lot is packed in to just a few days. Also, there were goons with guns, and that didn't make sense, since they'd flown in. Unless they packed those guns safely in TSA approved locking containers, in their suitcases, which is a possibility. And Kerry got a job in a restaurant making $3.00/hour plus tips. I want to know where that place is! I haven't found a place that will pay more than the state required $2.13 (Yeah, I live in the same state where the book is set, so I know this).

Like I said, I don't read Erotica very often, so I'm in no way an expert on the genre. It is simply something I check out once in a while, to see how far the edges are being pushed in comaprison to more main-stream writing. I am very interested to know where the limits are. Personally, the book was tamer than I thought it would be, considering that Shara warned me. Still, it was so sweet that she did. And honestly, it was still a lot hotter than books that I normally read. But it wasn't tacky, or tasteless. The YEX seemed to be more about trust and romance than just physical gratification. The build-up to the first encounter literally had me breathless. It had a plot and it had interesting characters that grew over the course of the story. It was engaging.

As it's not my normal cuppa, I don't know that I will go hunting for Shara's books in Borders. Besides, my kids are usually there with me. But, if I happen to see her in Jersey next year, you can be certain that I will be picking up any other books that she has for sale. And I may just send her an e-mail asking how to order her others, if I can't wait til next October, you know, for research purposes, checking where the limits are in the genre and all. Not because I like erotica, you understand. It's all just for research. ;>)

And did I mention that this book was really hot?
Just sayin'...

Keep turning those pages!
dee

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Housekeeping Note

If you haven't already, go on over HERE and check out what Charity had done. She has been hard at work this month, while I've been off slacking with my NaNo novel. Seriously, the other Dee has just outdone herself.

This is just to let you know that you will need to update your links, ok? We will be posting reviews on both blogs until the end of the year. That way, you can get used to us in our new home. However, starting January 1, 2007, we will no longer post new reviews on this page. You will only be able to find them at the NEW and IMPROVED joint book review site.

Head over there today and see what Charity has done. And please, PLEASE, drop us an e-mail (deeanddeedish@sbcglobal.net) or leave us a comment and tell us what you think. Should we add more categories? Should we take some away? Should we have more links? What do you want to see? Let us know. We only do this for you guys, so we want to make it the best it can be, and exactly what you want.

And while you're at it, tell Char how fabulous she is.

Billionaires Prefer Blondes - Suzanne Enoch

Hey there Lovelies! I hope every one is doing well today! We're still working on setting up the new blog page. I hope you will like it! I like it because you can search archives by the author. It is in no where near ready to go, but we do have our posts up over there and you can already search, just click here and you can see the rough form and let us know what you think! Would you like us to not only categorize by author but by genre as well? Any suggestions on how we can make it an easier to view site? Suggestions are welcome, and encouraged. You can drop us a line at deeanddeedish@sbcglobal.net or you can leave a comment on either site, we get them all. Today is book release day! YAY!!! I LOVE Tuesday's. Books I cannot wait to get my hands on? Easy. Sleeping With The Fishes by MaryJanice Davidson (hint - Dec contest will involve this book!) and Stroke Of Midnight by Laurell K Hamilton (I'm relatively new to the Merry series, and I haven't a chance to read this one yet. Couldn't find it anywhere either, unless I wanted to pay $60. I'm so glad it is now in pb). Okay, enough from me, on with the review!

Billionaires Prefer Blondes by Suzanne Enoch
(BCC)
It's not easy dating a billionaire...

Samantha Jellicoe has never met a security camera she couldn't disarm. And even though she's promised her billionaire lover, the irresistible Richard Addison, to walk the straight and narrow, she certainly can't help it when trouble finds her.

What should have been a quite night at an auction house turns into something more unexpected when Sam spies her father - her dead father - very much alive and very interested in a painting Rick is after. Then the painting vanishes, Sam's arrested, and all hell breaks loose.

Now Sam has to track down the man who taught her everything she know about breaking and entering. And when she finds him, will his proposal for a lucrative heist tempt her to the dark side, or does Rick have a few tricks to keep her on the right side of a jail cell?

I like this BCC. Even if I hadn't been following Sam and Rick since book 1, Flirting With Danger , I would have picked this book up. And truthfully, after reading the book, I realized the BCC wasn't misleading at all. A+ - well, it would be an A+ if I graded these things.

Before writing about Sam and Rick, Enoch was a well established historical author. Now, you know I have had trouble finding authors that make the transition from historical to contemporary well, but Enoch seems to have done it flawlessly. I even picked up her historical, An Invitation To Sin just to compare, and was very much impressed.

Samantha Jellicoe is a retired cat burglar who is now trying to make her living in the security business. After meeting Rick, she realizes that to continue with her current profession would mean she would be unable to have a relationship with Rick. After all, he is very visible person, and when one steals for a living, one needs to be invisible.

When Rick takes Sam to Sotheby's for an auction, Sam is just a tad on the nervous and excited side. After all, this won't be the first auction Sam has attended, but it will be the first auction she has attended as herself and the first auction she is going to that she doesn't intend to steal something. When they arrive, they find that a new painting was discovered under the canvas of one of the paintings that will be auctioned, and Rick wants this new find.

As the bidding begins, Sam notices a man in the corner, but her eyes must be playing tricks on her, because the man is no other than Martin Jellicoe, her father that died in prison three years earlier. Unfortunately, Sam knows this is no trick, that man is her father, she just doesn't understand how it could be. When the bidding on the new painting is underway, Sam notices that her father is taking a keen interest in it and can only hope that he will honor the Thieves Code and not go through with his plans to steal it since it will be hers, well Rick's but hers through extention.

But while taking a stroll to meet with her father, the painting is stolen from her and Rick's townhouse and upon her return home, Sam is arrested for the crime. After all, she is the daughter of the notorious cat burglar Martin, and the police know it!

The race is on the find Martin, get some answers and get the painting back. If one thing Sam can't stand it is to be on the other end of the robbery. With the help of Rick and Stoney, Sam's ex-fence and now business partner, Sam sets out to clear her name and ensure her relationship with Rick remains unscathed and he remains safe. What she doesn't expect is her father has purposely entangled her in this mess because he wants her working another job with him. The job in question is to rob the Met and Martin knows that Sam never hits museums. But Martin has got himself in with burglars who carry guns, and now it isn't just the painting on the line, but Sam's neck.

Rick has no intention of sitting back and letting Sam save the day without him. After all, he was the one who was stolen from, and letting a burglar get one over on him impacts not only his personal life but his business. The people he is negotiating with see it as a weakness and try to take advantage. No way will Rick let the robber get away with it, and he'll be damned before he lets some one involve Sam in another robbery and lose her to her old life.

BPB is such a good time. Fast paced with a have you on the edge of your chair plot. The romance is there, too. Sam and Rick are now in love and after five months, things still seem too hot and too good to be true. The insecurities both characters have with their new roles in each others lives, are basic to all new romances, and Enoch did a terrific job of capturing the fragility that is newfound love and at the same time making it every girls fantasy to be with a rich, good looking, man who is head over heels in love.

I think one of the reasons I love this series of books so much is that I can imagine I am Sam. I mean, come ON, how cool would it be to be a super sexy cat burglar who gets swept off her feet by a sexy billionaire? And Enoch certainly did her research, the details she adds when Sam is on a job are fabulous and put you right in the middle of the action. You don't need to read the other two books in this series to follow along, but once again, I really must suggest it. Not only for a bit of clarity into some situations, but because they are fun to read.

Take Care

Monday, November 27, 2006

Comfort & Joy - Kristin Hannah

Oh, Lovelies! Do I have a book for you! My friend Michele sent me this book last week, and finally last night I had the time to curl up in my Breast Cancer print blanket all by myself and read. For three hours I sat in that chair, curled up in a blanket made with love and lost myself in this wonderful book. This was exactly what I was needing. That and the four day week-end I got to spend with my husband and children. The outside of our house is now decorated with care, and the tree is up and beautiful in our front room. Bear and Miss Beautiful have Christmas Wish Lists ready to present to Santa at the mall this week-end, and I have all of my shopping yet to do. Life is good. I just love this time of year, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I was already counting down days to when it's over. Anyway, you came here to read a review, so without further ado...

Comfort & Joy by Kristin Hannah
(BCC)
Newly divorced, Joy Candellaro decides to break from her ordinary life and embark on a holiday adventure. A miraculous twist of fate lands her in the charming Northwest town of Rain Valley, where she meets Daniel O'Shea and his young son, Bobby. Thrown together by chance, these three souls will be touched by the true spirit of Christmas and discover what it means to be a family.

In this modern-day fairy tale of a woman caught between two lives, New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah delivers a holiday gift to treasure for years to come.

I cannot comment too much on this BCC. The book is a mere 240 pages, but within those pages, so very much happens. For the most part, this BCC does its job well.

It's Christmastime, but for high school librarian Joy, there are no feelings of good-will. She has been divorced for the past 3 months, but separated for eight months before that. Ever since the fateful day she caught her younger sister in bed with her husband, Joy's life has been turned upside-down. Upon finding out that her ex-husband and sister were to be married and have a baby, Joy takes off and heads to the airport. Once there, she sees a flight for Hope, and gets herself a ticket. Shortly after the plane is in the air, it crashes.

Miraculously, Joy is able to walk away from the crash and that is just what she does, literally. Leaves behind the wreckage and goes in search of a new life. If only for a little while. Not long after taking off, Joy stumbles upon an old Lodge that is for sale, and gets a room. The lodge is owned by Daniel and his eight-year-old son Bobby. Daniel and Bobby know loss as well. A few months before Joy arrives in their lives, they lost Maggie, Daniels ex-wife, and Bobby's very much loved mother.

It is in trying to help father and son find a way to live together and love one another again, that Joy finds herself. Not only does Joy find the truth in her feelings for her sister, but she finds herself seeing in Bobby and Daniel a family she never dreamed possible.

Written in First Person, Joy's story is a tale that will not easily be forgotten. The structure of Joy's sentences, and her descriptions of events and people, portrayed such a deep hurt I never knew could be expressed in mere words.

Joy learns so very much about herself in this book and in doing so, she showed me some inner truths as well. "...it's safe to say I'm a dreamer not a doer." Such simple words really, but boy did they strike a cord with me. The url for my person blog is dreamerbecomesdoer. I made it such because that was exactly how I felt. I was finally going to DO something that would kick-start me to writing. I have written more since starting that blog, but I'm still more of a dreamer than a doer. But after reading Joy's story, I realized that it was time for me to get on with it as well.

The book is divided into two parts with quotes and the start of each one. The quote for Part One was - " It's a dangerous business...going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to," J.R.R. Tolkien and then Part Two starts with, "You see things and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were And say, 'Why not?'" George Bernard Shaw. I loved both of these quotes, and more than anything they sum up the pages that follow.

If you want to believe in magic again. In falling in love. In family. In hope. In the incredible ability of the heart to mend. You need to read this book. Hannah delivers such a heart-warming tale, that I will be re-reading this book several times this season, and several more throughout the year. I also can't wait to get some of Hannah's backlist and her latest book
Magic Hour .

If I had any complaints with C&J it would be that it ended far too soon. I wanted to know more about what happens with Joy, Daniel, and Bobby. I can only hope Hannah revisits them some day, if only a mention in another book.

Thank You, Michele, this was exactly what I needed!

Take Care

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hot Dish - Connie Brockway

Hello Lovelies, I do hope this post finds each and every one of you fully recovered from a Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, laughter, and love. And for our non-U.S. Lovelies, I hope this post finds you with all of the above in your life each and every day. I have been on an extreme lucky streak lately with regards to the books I've read. I have been so sure of my ability to pick up a book, whether or not I knew the author, and have it be solid gold, that I wasn't prepared for the book I'm getting ready to review. This isn't going to be a favorable review, just a warning - if you don't like reading reviews that have something less than good to say about a book - STOP NOW! Of course, I will be as honest as I can be without being cruel, but I just thought you should know.

So, without further ado...

Hot Dish by Connie Brockway
(BCC)
Here She Is...
Years ago, Jenn Lind's family's dynasty crashed, forcing them to move out of their Raleigh penthouse and into a cabin in Fawn Creek, Minnesota. But Jenn saw a way out:She'd win the Buttercup pageant, grab the scholarship, and run far, far away. The plan almost worked too until some conniving townspeople cheated her out of her tiara. Still, she swore she'd make it out someday...
Miss Minnesota?
Twenty years later, she's on the cusp of real stardom. She's about to leave for New York to be crowned queen of daytime TV when Fawn Creek asks her to be grand marshal of the town's sesquicentennial. Her network accepts, delighted over the PR, especially since she'll be sharing the "honor" with international celebrity Steve Jaxx, a man she got tangled up with once long ago. Between the all too attractive Steve, the townspeople, and a hundred-pound butter sculpture, Jenn may never escape Fawn Creek. Or even worse, she might.

As far as this BCC goes, I don't know. Jenn didn't get "tangled up" with Steve Jaxx years ago. He sculpted her head in butter. She cried while he did it. Then she watched him get arrested. This does not make tangled up. Her parents did lose every penny of their considerable wealth, and they did have to move to Fawn Creek. For the most part, it is truthful.

This book has a Prologue that isn't really a prologue. And you know, I'm not that fond of prologues to begin with, so if a book is going to have a prologue it needs to be a good one. For instance, I love the two prologues in Going Postal by Terry Pratchett and I like the way Nora Roberts used the prologues in her In The Garden Trilogy. But this "prologue" is a scene from the end of the book and when I think prologue, I think before the story started. Not, read this and I'll get back to it in, oh, 400 pages. This "prologue" felt more like a scene the author loved and didn't want to kill, so she talked the editor into including it as a prologue. It lends nothing to the book but it did serve the purpose of annoying this reader.

Then after you read this "present day prologue", Chapter One takes place 21 years earlier. Then, after five chapters, we're back to present day. The first five chapters were filler. Bad filler. Everything that was put in those pages could have been used throughout the book in a much more creative, easier to read format.

And speaking easy to read, I was never sure what POV the author was using. Third Limited? Third Om? I just didn't know. I can't stand that. I was actually starting to think that I had a grasp on the whole POV thing, and then I read this book. I think it was an attempt at Limited, and turned into very loose limited. And if it was indeed Limited, there were far too many perspectives. There were no less than 6 characters with a POV and quite possibly there was 7. Hint to author - That is, at the most, 5 POV's too many, and at the least 4.

When you have that many POV's, the reader isn't going to bond with your H&H. And that was definitely true in this book. The female protagonist in this book was Jenn Lind. Or, Jenna, Jenny, Jennifer Hallesby. I got the feeling the author couldn't decide what variation she liked best, so she just used them all. Jenn wasn't especially well written. I didn't like her. Not one bit. I knew I was supposed to, and I even tried, but all I felt towards her was irritation. She couldn't let go of her past, she couldn't see her blessings. Jenn seemed to sit on her pity pot a lot, and I don't like TDTL characters. And Jenn was definitely TDTL.

Then you have Steve Jaxx. The sculptor that sweeps Jenn off her feet. Steve was so terribly written he annoyed me. I think what I was supposed to think of Steve, was that he was such a genius artist, that he could see the beauty in everything, even when we wouldn't. What I actually thought of Steve, was that he was a few chapters short of a full book. Heck, he was a few chapters shy of a novella. Absent minded and short sighted doesn't begin to describe the way Steve was portrayed.

There are also thieves in this book. Three local yahoo's that decide to hold the butter head hostage, and the man that was going to steal it but was beat to the punch. I'm not sure what it says about me as a reader, but the author actually did a fairly good job of capturing these guys. They weren't funny, but they were supposed to be. They did, however, have a believability.

When I bought this book, I did so because I saw the quote at the bottom that says, "A dazzling contemporary debut." I had just read an excellent debut author and had hopes I'd discover another. The thing is, I didn't see the mention that she was a NYT Bestseller. Silly me, it was on the COVER, but I saw debut, and grabbed! Apparently, Brockway is established in the historical genre, and you know, I don't read that many historicals, so I didn't recognize the name.

The problem with historical authors that switch to contemporary is that they so seldom make the switch well. Suzanne Enoch is a great exception to this rule (and I'll be posting a review by her soon) and I adore her contemporaries, but in general, whenever I read a contemp penned by a historical author, I end up greatly disliking it.

I'm not a stupid person. In fact, I like to think I'm fairly intelligent. Not the smartest kid in school, but definitely not the dumbest. But while reading this book, I had to stop several times to re-read a paragraph or sentence just to understand what was written. "...Not that she remembered Steve's kissing her-he was a really good kisser and well worth remembering-but this young stud who embodied everything she generally found appealing-success, good grooming, financial security, sophistication, efficiency-should hold no appeal for her whatsoever." There are far to many "-" in this sentence, and it slowed me up.

Then there were Brockway's choice of words. For instance, people capitulate a lot in this book. There's also this little doozy, "...all sorts of hitherto ignored chivalrous impulses rushing to the fore." And while I understand what this mean, I don't understand how this sort of phrase belongs in a contemporary novel.

I found this authors style very pretentious. There were words like, semisomnambulism, and I have no idea what that means, so don't ask. Then there were sentences like, "It was called chiaroscuro, she recalled, light and dark, and it made magic of the reflected light and shadows composing his face." Um, WHAT? "She moved away from Natalie, toward the window, her thoughts a tempest." I bought what sounded like a light fun contemporary romance. What I got was a headache.

As far as the romance between Steve and Jenn is concerned, it was not believable at all. The two characters have very little interaction between them and yet they still fall in love within the course of 3 days. And finally, I really don't like it when authors fake what they don't know. Towards the end of the book, Brockway describes Texas Hold 'Em and says the last 2 cards dealt are called "the river." No. The second to last card is the "turn" card, then the last card, and ONLY the last card, is called "the river."

I do not recommend this book. Save your money. If you must read it, wait until it hits your local library.

Take Care

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Testing Kate, by Whitney Gaskell


I have been in the middle of Whitney Gaskell adoration this past week. It all started a while back, actually, when this book here, Testing Kate, was released. I read about it over on the Literary Chicks website. You know how I love my LC, right? It started with Beth Kendrick, then Alesia Holliday, Lani Diane Rich, Eileen Rendahl and Michelle Cunnah followed. Meeting Michelle and Lani in New Jersey was one of those FanGirlSqueeMoments that you all already know about though. Whitney was the last of the Chicks for me to "find", which is kind of odd, since I really love her posts. Reading them is sometimes like reading one of my diaries. I just sit there thinking, "Yeah, we would be such good friends, I just know it. Well, if I lived in Florida, near her, and could ever get up the nerve to actually speak to her, I'm sure we'd be like this, you know, BFF, just like me and Joss". (Ok, so maybe my friendship with Joshilyn is slightly exaggerated in my head, but hey, they are my delusions, and I quite like them, ok?) However, I hopped on the Whitney train last week, when I couldn't find this book anywhere in town, and I resorted to ordering her other three off Amazon. At full price. Because I like doing that sometimes. And now, I don't regret it. Pushing 30, True Love (and other Lies), and She, Myself & I were so worth it. And then there was Kate...

Kate Bennett is almost 30 when she decides to make some major changes. She quits her job, her boyfriend, and her town, and heads down South for law school. She doesn't land in just any town, or at any law school though. Oh no, not our Kate. She ends up at the mother of Southern law schools - Tulane, which is located in the mother of Southern towns, New Orleans.

Quickly finding a group of older students to befriend, Kate starts making a new life for herself. However, her life-long streak of bad luck seems to have followed her south. Case in point - Hoffman, her Crim Law professor. He is about as sadistic as you can get without actually entering hell. From the very first day, Kate seems to have landed square on his bad side, and nothing she does can change that. Of course, her friends try to ease some of the stress, but there's only so much that friends can do.

No book would be complete without a bit of romantic suspense, right? Well, Kate has that in spades. When her now ex-boyfriend shows up to try to make things right, Kate is torn between the safe and familiar path, or the road less traveled. Throw in a slightly eccentric writer, a whiz kid, and three other mismatched souls just trying to make the Law Review, and you've got yourself one helluva interesting story.

With Kate, Ms. Gaskell has created a character that you just can't help cheering. She is dealt some really tough breaks, and you see that, and you feel her struggles. But still, she has hope. The writing is smooth, the dialogue is believable, and the situations are very real. This is not over-the-top humor, nor is it melodramatic. It's an eye-opening look at the first year of law school, and a soul searching peek into the life of one endearing woman. I enjoyed the way that Ms. Gaskell seamlessly tied bits from Kate's past into most every chapter. I didn't feel like it was infodump. I felt like it was a glimpse inside of Kate's heart, into her psyche, and it was inspired.

I also really enjoyed seeing New Orleans, pre-Katrina, through Kate's eyes. As a long-time lover of all things N'Awlins, as well as having a brother that lives there, it felt like coming home to me. This book was in the edit stages when the hurricane struck, and Ms. Gaskell chose to leave the city alone for her story. I think it was the absolute right choice. In her Author's Note, she cites the courage of the city's citizens in the aftermath of Katrina, as well as admitting her own love affair with the city (see, I told you I felt like we'd be friends!). It was obvious that she wasn't exaggerating her feelings and that she was very familiar with the places she mentioned (including the Cat's Meow, but I won't even go there, my husband reads this blog!). Along with Ms. Gaskell, I have the deepest admiration and respect for those people and that wonderful city. She did their city proud in her story, and it wouldn't surprise me if people decided to head down to the Big Easy for a spell after reading this book.

The worst part about reaching the end of this book was knowing that I can't read a new Whitney Gaskell for about another year. I guess that means I'm going to have to read the four she has again. And again. And again. Because I really enjoyed them. And I know you will too.

Keep turning those pages,
dee

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Killer Insight-Victoria Laurie

Hello, Lovelies! And Congrats to the winners of this month's contest. I think Dee did a fabulous job putting it together and deserves a round of applause! Also, a BIG THANK YOU to author Kristan Higgins for judging! How cool is it that we had an author judge the contest?! Too, freakin' cool - that's how cool. I've already got next months contest set up, and it's just gonna be your average put a name in a hat and draw kinda contest. After all, it's Christmas next month and if you are anything like me, coming up with a contest entry is just gonna be too hard. Anyway, more details on that later. We're still plugging away at setting up the new blog, hopefully it will be ready for launch the first of the new year. Hopefully. This time of year it's tough to accomplish very much. And now, without further ado...

Killer Insight by Victoria Laurie

(BCC)

A wedding retreat in Colorado finds Abby Cooper tending a broken heart and taking a mental break, but psychic intuition isn't the sort of thing you can leave at home...

Died to Match

When her relationship with FBI agent Dutch Rivers skids to a halt, Abby Cooper is fully aware that a wedding isn't the best post-breakup scenario. But when a friend from the Mile High City finds herself short one bridesmaid, it doesn't take a professional psychic to see the opportunity for a much-needed getaway.

High altitudes can be healing, and Abby reunites with friends-especially her childhood crush Duffy McGinnis, now town sheriff...not to mention tall, dark, and yummy. But Abby needs more than a shoulder to cry on. One bridesmaid after another is mysteriously flying the coop, and Abby's intuition tells her their final destinations aren't pretty.

With the wedding party falling apart and her gift of sight never quite so foggy, Abby has to save the date-and herself from becoming the next tafetta-clad target...

Other than a few minor faults, this is a rather well written BCC. Not at all misleading, and if it wouldn't be putting in spoilers, I would give some corrections. I will say, that Abby's intuition isn't so much foggy, as they suggest, as it is ignored. Several times in the book Abby mentions her intuition buzzing and she gets distracted or something else and never tunes into it.

I've been following this series since book one, Better Read Than Dead, came out it June of '05. I was in the bookstore looking for the newest Dead End Job Mystery, when the gal working the desk showed me this great new book. "First in a new series," she said to me, "And I really liked this one. Try it, you may to." So I did, and she was right. I liked it very much. Aside from the fact I could tell Laurie was new to writing, I liked the story and had faith she would get more comfortable as an author. She has, and the result is a very fast paced, fun read.

Abby Copper is a professional psychic. So why didn't she see she was going to end up dead? That's exactly where we find Abby at the start of the book, staring down the barrel of a .38 and BOOM - she's shot and floating Heavenward.

After a devastating break-up with Dutch, on Valentine's Day no less (Dutch got Abby a cell phone - one for himself, too. It was two for one deal and things went down hill from there), Abby agrees to fly to Colorado to be a fill in bridesmaid for her childhood friend Ellie's upcoming wedding, when one of them takes off without warning.

Abby has unique gifts, to say the least, and one of them is the ability to look at a picture and tell weather or not the person in the photo is alive or dead. When she gets to Colorado, Abby is terrified to learn, her friend's missing bridesmaid, didn't just leave town, she died. Confiding in Duffy, the town sheriff and Ellie's older brother, about this, they set out to either find the missing woman or her body. Not wanting to upset Ellie, they keep it to themselves until they know for sure.

But while doing a reading for Ellie as a bridal shower gift, Abby sees that Ellie's future husband, Eddie, has done something very bad, and will be spending time in jail. She also sees it was something he was forced into, but when more bridesmaids go dead, Abby isn't so sure the altitude isn't messing with her sight, and perhaps Eddie DID do something terrible and that he perhaps DID do it of his own free will.

Laurie has a hit with this series, this book in particular had a great cast of characters, people that made me laugh and touched me with their kindness. There was Ellie's Aunt Viv, a cantankerous old broad, who has a penchant for swiping anything that catches her fancy was great comic relief, in a rather heady mystery. Then their was Ellie's parents, who have always been like family to Abby, when her own parents couldn't stand the sight of her. "...you know not many people can appreciate it when someone like you comes into the mix. But I want you to know that we understand how special you and your gifts are. If you ever want to come over and hear how much we love you and your gifts, you just knock on my door. Okay?"

We also get more of Kat, Abby's rich and caring older sister, and even get to see the meanness that is her parents. One of the things I liked so much about this book, aside from the great mystery, is the way Laurie showed how special Abby was to certain people in her life and how those friends were her family. Sometimes, we forget just how special our friends can be to us, and that they are indeed, just like family. Laurie captured the honest feelings of love and friendship with Insight and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

And even though this is a series, like most series, you do not need to read them in order, but it will definitely help if you do. If you haven't checked out these books yet, I highly recommend you do. Abby having the gifts she does, lends a great twist to the amateur sleuth genre.

Take Care

November winners! (revised, with WINNERS names, doh!)

I just got this fabulous e-mail from Kristan Higgins. She is our November Guest Judge for the Veterans and Rookies contest. Charity gathered up all of the entries and put them together, minus the names, for Kristan to be able to read through. She picked the winners. Yes, I said winners, plural. Since there were way more entries than we thought there would be, I just didn't feel right about only having one winner. So, First place will get the books already mentioned: Fools Rush In, Talk Gertie To Me, gods In Alabama, Whitney, My Love, and Don't Look Down, as well as Nearlyweds. However, as I know the winner, I also know she already has DLD, so we'll figure something out. Second and third place will both get a copy of either gods In Alabama or Between, Georgia, or another one of the books that we've reviewed here this month. Contact me right away (like TODAY, if possible) so I can get your addresses.Post a comment here, or e-mail me at deeanddeedish@sbcglobal.net. Be sure to include "I'm a November winner!" in your subject line!! Now, without further ado, here's Kristan!

Dear Lovelies,
This was the first contest I've ever judged, and it was, well, wicked hard! The answers were diverse, well written and funny, and trying to rank them kept me up till one a.m., so if my kids find waffles in their lunchbox today, you're all to blame.

THIRD PLACE - winner is HOPE
Well, we all love a Crusie. Personally, it's the banter that draws me to her books. In my own humble opinion, the dialogue is what sets Ms. Crusie above most other writers, those zinging one liners that have us wheezing with laughter. I also liked the way this entrant described Sue Ann Jaffarian's novel...that she bought it for the plus-size heroine and ended up so drawn into the story that her original reason faded. When the story is that powerful and well crafted, you know the author has succeeded in writing a memorable book.
1. Crusie, I will read anything buy her because I know that it will be good. Also anything by Alesia Holliday or Lani Diane Rich are great books that I will pick up just because.

2. For Crusie, Faking It was the first one that I read, and just the banter and fun caught me, but the basement scene when she confesses all her sins hooked me and I haven't passed a book since.

3. The banter in all three of the books are great. They are things that I would say provided I had someone to write for me and I was able to come up with a comback that quickly.

4.Sue Ann Jaffarian. At first I just wanted to see how she would portray a plus size lead character, but as I got into the mystery, I became hooked on her character portrayal. It was real and made me feel what all the characters were going through. Also the mystery aspect of the story was one that kept me guessing to the end.
SECOND PLACE - winner is Orangehands
I confess to not knowing the authors that this reader chose, but now I'm dying to read them. This answer hit the nail on the head of why we love an author--characters who engage our hearts and minds. The response was beautifully written, too.
*******************************
Considering how many books I have read over the years, it is surprising that I can easily pick out my favorite veteran author. But I can. Chris Crutcher. There is no other author that engages so much of my heart and mind. There is also no other author who so unflinchingly looks at the reality behind teen life and writes about it. There are a lot of authors I like, a good amount I even love, but Crutcher is the top of it. (Besides which, all of his novels have been banned. How can you beat that?)

I actually don't remember which of his books was the first I read (and the first hooked me), but I do know the one that means the most to me: Staying Fat for Sarah Brynes (though Whale Talk and Ironman are close seconds). This book helped me in numerous ways, but first and foremost, it made me think about things that I never really saw teen books address before. It gave me even more ammo to fight for a cause I had at that time already spent a lot of years on, and it also made me sit up and take notice of the other side and their thought process. It was smart and it was well-written, and it didn't hide behind the easy road.

Rookie: I just discovered J.R. Ward and so far I am really enjoying her series about the Black Dagger Brotherhood. She writes in a seemingly casual way, she's telling a new slant on an old story (vampires) and making it one of the best ones I've read (though to be fair I still haven't tried Anne Rice), and I love her characters.
FIRST PLACE... - winner is McB
Congratulations, Lovely! I chose this entry because this reader picked veterans who bent the genre of historical romance long before anyone realized it needed bending. As the reader so wisely points out, we'd all been swimming in a pool of heroines who were inept to the point of the ridiculous, just waiting for the literal knight in shining armor to save her from her own boredom/silliness/evil father. Writers McNaught, Garwood and Deveraux (a personal fave) gave us heroines who fought, kicked, swore, led, thought and quipped...oh, sure, they all had sapphire eyes and flaming tresses, but they had brains, too.
As far as the second part of the answer, I liked this reader calling Jen Crusie a rookie. Points for just being creative.
************************************************
Whitney, My Love

Dee, oh my - you have opened the flood gates, my dear! I LOVED that book. Actually I totally adored all of Ms. McNaught's historicals. And yeah I still have every one of them. I'm such a sucker for a good historical. They were my introduction to romance. Ms. M, along with Julie Garwood and Jude Devereaux. I had fantasies involving the Montgomery men for years!

Before I found those ladies, I didn't read romance. I was very heavily into mysteries and still really enjoy reading them now. What changed my mind? What made these authors so special is that they wrote not just fabulous historical romance, but they did so without resorting to the then ubiquitous bodice-ripper trend. They showed me that romance fiction could be GOOD fiction, with great heros, heroines who were capable of more than waiting around to be saved, and wonderful humor. They've moved on to writing great contemporaries now, but its these early, historical romances that live forever in my heart.

And from them I eventually braved reading *gasp* category romance. My previous experience with these was my grandmother's occasional Barbara Cartland and Harlequin books(rich European doctor learns about love and laughter from the brave village miss who ventured into the big city to work as his receptionist).

And I discovered through trial and error that there was some worthy fiction mixed in among these little paperbacks. Among them and among my very first discoveries? GETTING RID OF BRADLEY by the Cherry, Jennifer Crusie. Oh my Bob I laughed so hard reading this book. I still recall snorting with laughter on the subway as I read those words for the first time "Oh no, dead dog?" (okay, you had to be there). That wasn't Jenny's first book, but it was an early one, so does it qualify for rookie status?

No wait a minute. I have another that most definitely qualifies for rookie status on account of her first book has not *yet* been accepted for publication. But I've beta-read it and I'm guaran-dang-teeing you its going to be on your bookshelves one day soon. When that day happens I promise to spread the word, and then she can be your rookie find too.

So there you have my veterans and my rookie.

Thanks for inviting me to judge the contest. Enjoy your gifties, winners, and Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Kristan Higgins

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pink Jinx - Sandra Hill

Hello Lovelies!!! Finally I'm getting another review up! I know, it's been a couple of days, and I apologize. But, I've been busier than a one legged man in A... oh, you get the picture. We here at DeeandDee have been working on switching over to the beta version of Blogger and it's taking a LOT of work. The reason for the switch is to make it easier for you guys to find reviews. They will be tagged and you'll be able to search just contests, or Authors A-D, etc. The template isn't what we want yet, but most of the posts have already been put over there. As I was moving posts, I did notice one thing, I've come a LONG way, baby! I'm getting much bettah at reviewing, and I hope that continues. I'm not sure when it will be up and running with us posting only over there, but believe me, YOU will be the first to know!!! And now, Without Further Ado...

Pink Jinx by Sandra Hill
(BCC)

Baited...Straitlaced Boston lawyer Veronica "Ronnie" Jinkowsky knows some-things fishy when her estranged grandfather lures her to his New Jersey treasure-hunting business with woeful takes of old age and bankruptcy. But she never expected the salty old dog to shanghai her into a hunt for pink diamonds with her poker-playing, four-time ex-husband Jake Jensen in tow.

Hooked...Betting her heart on Jake was always a losing proposition, yet just the sight of his come-hither blue eyes is still enough to melt her steely resolve. Now Ronnie's on a high seas adventure that throws together lost gems, a lost ship, and lost love-not to mention a Mafia widow, her two goons, and an elderly Cajun matchmaker.

And Going Down for the Last Time! Trapped with the man she could never learn to live with-and was never happy without-is Ronnie fated to be forever jinxed in matters of the heart?

All in all, this BCC isn't bad. It does a good job at describing the book and has no major misleading statements in it. In fact, it was because of the BCC I laid the money down. So when I finished reading it, I was glad to discover I didn't feel cheated.

Ronnie Jinkowsky has lived her life terrified of her grandfather Frank Jinkowsky. It is because of him she is terrified of the ocean, hates the smell of sea water, and is terrified of roller coasters. He is a gruff man that has never seemed to care much for her and has at times bordered on the cruel, so when suddenly he turns all of his assets over to her, including his treasure hunting business, Ronnie is suspicious, and doesn't want it. Unfortunately, the trust he set up is iron-clad, and Ronnie would know, after all, she's a tough corporate lawyer.

Determined to get to the bottom of this, Ronnie uncovers that her ex-husband Jake Jensen has just recently invested $100,000 in Jinx,Inc. Off to Atlantic City Ronnie goes to confront Jake and find out what he knows. The problem is, Ronnie and Jake aren't just divorced, they are divorced FOUR times. Ronnie has never been able to resist Jake. She loves him. She just can't live with him. He is a professional poker player, and the instability of it all has always scared Ronnie.

While in the middle of a major poker tournament, Jake spots Ronnie. During his first break he pulls her aside and finds out why she showed up now of all times. You see, Jake loves Ronnie just as much as she loves him. But like Ronnie, he doesn't see anyway they can live together. If he learnt anything from their four failed marriages, it was that they just don't work. Unfortunately, Jake wasn't ready to see her, because his heart and mind underwent the same longing they always do. And just as they start talking, Ronnie gets the surprise of her life, Jake's fiance shows up.

After running for the bathroom to be sick, Ronnie heads back to tell her Grandmother she is taking off for a few days to figure out what she is going to do with Jinx, Inc and is given an ultimatum. Leave now for your grandfather's and you have no job, and no grandmother. Well, what's a girl backed into a corner supposed to do?

Ronnie leaves and heads to Frank's to find out what he expects and finds that the old glorious house he once loved is falling apart, most of his treasures are off the walls, and her once well put together, polka-loving grandfather is wearing rags and has Don King hair. Her first instinct is to run, far,far away, after all, what has this man ever done for her? She just needs to figure out a plan first.

But Frank has a plan all his own. He knows he's been a terrible grandfather to Ronnie, and an even worse father to her dad, his son. And he's getting older and he wants to set things right between them, and if by doing so he gets her and Jake to finally grow up and stay together, well then, all the better for him, he wants a great-grandbaby from them, so he can finally do it right.

This book was hilarious. It wasn't just funny though, there were some strong emotions the characters had to deal with, and Hill tackled those feelings with true to life charm. I have only read one other book by Hill, and that was her, The Red Hot Cajun , and while I don't remember a great deal of that book, I do remember I really did enjoy it. And it was neat seeing some of the people from that book join the wacky cast of characters in this one. Tante Lulu is back, and oh man, that old lady is as funny as ever.

Another thing that really tickled my funny bone was the four marriage thing between Ronnie and Jake. Each marriage had a name, there was The Sappy Marriage, The Cowboy Marriage, The Tequila Marriage, and the Insanity Marriage. Hill incorporates the background of the marriages into the start of chapters and it works very well. You can see shades of their past and it gives the reader just enough to see the parallels to their present.

This is the first book in a new series for Hill, and I will definitely be checking out the rest of them. I'm also going to see if I can't find all the Cajun books and check them out as well.

For a fast paced, fun and touching read, I highly recommend, Jinx. It has it all, laughs, tears, and action. Oh, and some really, really, hot sexy love scenes. And let me tell you, she writes them very well!

Take Care

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Explanation

Hey there lovelies. I hope this post finds each and every one of you in good health. I just wanted to do a quick post that explains a bit about the reviews I do and why.

Before Dee invited me over here to blog with her, I had done a few reviews on my own blog Lip Service , I found, that while not the best at it, I really enjoyed talking about the books I read. And believe me, I read a LOT of books. I enjoy getting lost in the pages of a good book for a few hours and I love introducing those books to others. It's fun to talk through a book. Sometimes, when I write a review, I'll realize the book had a far greater impact on me than I originally thought, and that is a HUGE bonus. So really, I review not only to help others find books they may not have on their own, but for my own benefit, too.

Whenever I start a new project, though, I have to figure out exactly what I want to do with it, where I want it to go, and HOW I'm going to handle it. I knew going in, that I won't always like the books I read. And that posed a whole 'nother set of questions. What will I do with those books. Then I thought about a few of the review sites I had seen, that talk about only reviewing books they like and how once I saw that, I stopped reading. There is no checks and balances that way. Although you could get a fairly good idea of my reading tastes, you wouldn't get the whole picture. For instance, I've mentioned not liking the books of Carly Phillips , but I do like books by Leanne Banks , and many readers like BOTH of them. They both write Romance, and they both have steamy sex scenes, but the difference in the writers is style and voice.

Sometimes, I'll find a book where I love the premise of the book, but not the way it was written. I really like the IDEA of the book, but not the way it fit together. That's why Dee and I agreed, if we read a book, we'll review it. We will be HONEST, but we will NEVER be cruel. Writing is not an easy job, and the authors of the books I read deserve the respect that all the hard work has earned them. But if I don't like it, I'm gonna tell you and I'm gonna tell you why.

The first unfavorable review I ever did was very hard for me to write. I wasn't sure how to honest and not unkind at the same time. It's getting easier to write the not so great reviews, but it will never be my favorite part of the job. But I feel that I would be letting you readers down, if I wasn't honest about it. We all spend good money on the books we read, and quite honestly, sometimes, they just aren't worth it. So I review those books that fell flat, so you lovely readers can decide if the money will be worth it, or if perhaps a trip to the library will be in order.

Lots of reviews to get done, and I'll get back to them tonight.

Take Care

Friday, November 17, 2006

Santa Baby - "Been An Awful Good Girl"

Hello Lovelies! I've never reviewed an anthology before, so this will be interesting. What I plan to do, is give a short review of each of the three novellas in the book, with the BCC of each right before it. Sound good? We'll see. Of course I like it in theory, but in practice, it may not work as I want it to. Anyway. Don't forget, time is running short to enter our Veterans and Rookies Contest , so click on over to that post and leave a comment with your entry or e-mail your entry to deeanddeedish@sbcglobal.net , we are absolutely loving getting to read your entries, Thank YOU! I started to do this review last night, but then I went over to Argh Ink and read Jenny's latest entry , and spent the next hour reading up on the entire thing. I don't read Miss Snark anymore, so I completely missed this. Jenny's post is just one of the reasons I am a Cherry the friends I have made there are incredible, and it comes as no surprise when you look at the reason we all assembled together in the first place, Ms. Crusie, is truly a class act, and I am proud to be a Fan Girl! Also, sometime this week-end I am going to make a post that explains the reasons behind my reviews. I hope you enjoy it! And now, without further ado... ( Hey, this is the other dee, and I'm jumping in to this review. You'll see my comments in this color, right after Charity's review. Enjoy!)

Santa Baby by Jennifer Crusie, Lori Foster, and Carly Phillips .

Hot Toy by Jennifer Crusie
BCC

Mayhem ensues under the mistletoe as a determined shopper grabs the very last hot toy action figure off the shelf, only to find herself plunged into the middle of a real-life spy game - in the arms of a sexy secret agent...

I'm not going to make comments on any of the BCC's today. With 3 stories to review, it will just take too much space. I am, however, putting them up there, so if you've read the story, you can leave comments on them for me!

Trudy Maxwell is on a mission to find her nephew the Major MacGuffin, the Tough One Two. Of course, it is THE hot toy of 2006 and of course no store has any, and of course it's Christmas Eve. But Trudy does not plan on letting her nephew down, his father promised him that Santa would deliver this toy, and since that same father then took off with the Nanny, Trudy finds herself in the worst toy store around searching frantically for the toy. Anything to avoid telling her nephew that it "fell off the sleigh."

While searching for the 'Guffin, Trudy finds herself face to face with Nolan, the professor she had three dates with and never heard from again. Trudy is truly a Crusie heroine, "In October, I cared. In November I decided you were a thoughtless, inconsiderate loser. And in December, I forgot all about you." She also finds herself with Reese, the infant that had worked as her father's Research Assistant. When Trudy amazingly finds a MacGuffin One, every one in the store seems to want it. Turning down offers from Nolan, Reese, and a pushy woman in the check-out line, Trudy finally escapes the store to hail a cab. When who should appear in a cab? Reese the infant that was flirting with her. Reese informs her that he knows of a place where they have the MacGuffin Two's and if they want to get one, they need to hurry to the warehouse.

Nolan pushes himself in the cab with them, and the three of them head to the warehouse to get the MacGuffin and save Christmas! Unfortunately, Reese and Nolan are not what they seem and Trudy finds herself in the middle of a government battle for Chinese codes.

I very much enjoyed this story. Even if it wasn't a Crusie I would have enjoyed it. There was not one sex scene, and I have to say, that is one of the things I loved about it. The whole thing takes place over the course of one night, Trudy has only had three dates with Nolan anyway, so a sex scene would have been too much. Ending it the way she did, Crusie leaves the reader with the blissful feelings of good will and love that can only happen at Christmas time. This is definitely a must read for any time of year!

I loved this story. Like Char, I really liked that they didn't have sex. I had no problem passing this one to my oldest, and she loved being able to read a Jenny book. Plus, the story was fast-paced without being hard to follow. I have to admit that my favorite part of the book was when Trudy was talking about past Hot Toys, and she mentioned Barbie. You'll have to read it to understand, but really, I read it to all the kids, and they laughed (well, after they got over mommy calling Barbie a bitch, that is). To me, this was a perfect Crusie, and I really enjoyed it.

Christmas Bonus by Lori Foster
BCC

Tow dedicated coworkers with a lot of secrets (and fantasies!) between them must plan a Christmas party side by side - and discover a love worth celebrating - in this steamy office romance.

Oh, I so want to say something on that, but I said I wouldn't so I'll refrain. Eric Bragg and Maggie Carmichael have known each other for a very long time. Eric has been Maggie's father's right hand man and Maggie's secret crush from day one. With her father now gone leaving Maggie in charge of the business, Eric and Maggie seem to be a bit uncomfortable around each other. That's to be expected though, she wants him, he wants her, but with Maggie now in charge of the company, Eric refuses to make a pass at her in fear people would begin to talk bad about her.

This is actually a cute story. There is a 10 year age difference between Eric and Maggie (he's 32 and she's 22) and I've read a few people say that that bothered them. Especially since Eric's had a thing for Maggie for 5 years (she would have been 17). This didn't bother me one bit, but you must understand, my husband is 12 years older than I am. I met him when I was 16 (almost 17) and I fell in love with him right away. We didn't start dating until I was 21 though, and I guess that is why the age difference doesn't bother me.

The story heats up as Maggie decides to take matters into her own hands and uses mistletoe as an excuse to get Eric to kiss her. Things just get hotter from there. I didn't so much mind the fact that the main characters did have sex in this one. After all, it wasn't as if they had just met, they'd know each other for quite some time. I liked that aspect, and I liked how Foster brought two people who loved each other together just in time to start a New Year together.

I can't really explain how I felt about this story. There were parts that I enjoyed, like Maggie being a romance writer. There were parts that I didn't like, like Eric showing up at her apartment sure he'd get sex. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't my favorite book ever. Not a bad read at all, some really hot sex scenes, and it had an HEA, of course. And the age difference didn't bother me at all either. They were comfortable together, they knew each other, and that made it more than ok.

Naughty Under The Mistletoe by Carly Phillips
BCC

A "mistletoe moment" begins when a no-nonsense lawyer intent of seducing her boss meets his twin instead - after giving him a scintillating kiss that leaves him begging for more...

Okay, before I start talking about this one, you need to know - I am not a fan of Carly Phillips. I have only read one other book by her and I couldn't even tell you what it was, only that I didn't like it and had no intention on reading another. But since I had already read the other two, I gave this one a shot. I didn't like this one at all.

Toni Larson is playing elf at her company Christmas party and has a plan. She is going to use mistletoe as a way to seduce her boss, Stephen. The timing is perfect. She can put her good-girl ways behind for a night, then leave for Christmas vacation only to come back and work at a different location. She won't be breaking any office policy by making her move tonight. But, when Toni lays the kiss on the man she's set her sights on, she discovers it isn't him, but his twin brother.

Max Corbin is not the typical Corbin. He gave up the lawyer lifestyle to be a private detective, but has come to his father's office party to mend some fences, his father is getting older and ailing, it's time to try and make nice. As he studies the so called "party" he sees a beautiful elf eyeing him. As he walks over to her, he is given the kiss of his life - and he wants more.

My reasons for not liking this book are fairly simple. Two strangers meet by kissing, have sex and fall in love over the course of one night. I'm sorry. I know that love at first sight happens all the time. But this was just too much for me to comprehend. I even understand that Christmas time is magical and that possibly that magic is what the author was relying on to make this a plausible story. I just didn't buy it. Any of it.

I see I'm not the only one that had a problem with this story. I tried to be fair about it in my head. I mean, it is a Christmad anthology, so maybe Ms. Phillips was going for the magic of the season. Some of the scenes were really well written. However, like Charity, I just was not impressed with the "I love you" after one night together. If they had agreed that they really liked each other and would see where it would go, I could have agreed with that. However, I'm really not one to believe in love at first sight at all. This drives my husband to fits, but it's true. I think love takes time, and work. And while I know that half the fun of romance books is the fantasy of it, this part just sort of icks me out. Just sayin...

So, now you know what I thought. What did you think? I'm curious. I know Dee has read it, so I'm hoping she comes in here and adds her thoughts to this review as well. (And you got your wish...)

Take Care

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nearlyweds, Beth Kendrick

Yes, I know this is "Veterans and Rookies" month. Yes, I know that Beth Kendrick is not actually a 'rookie' author, yet she may not quite be a 'veteran' to some of you, yet. But so what. This is MY blog (well, it's Charity's too, but this is MY review, so there!). And if I feel like telling you about Nearlyweds, then you're going to have to trust me.

If you read my other blog, you know that I really like the authors over at The Literary Chicks. I've met a few of them, and they are a really classy group of ladies. Yeah, Lani might snort at that, but hey, again, my blog, I get to say whatever I feel like saying. I found the site through The Cherries, and I started buying their books. But I've got an admission to make. And this is just between the few of us, ok? I was already a Beth Kendrick fan before I ever heard of The Cherries, or The LC. Of course, I didn't really know who she was. I knew only that I really, I mean really, liked her book, My Favorite Mistake. Not surprising at all, is it? I mean, hey, she's one of The LC. Of course I liked that book. But this review isn't about that book. It's about this one, right here, with the cute lil doggie on the cover. So let's get to it, shall we?

Casey, Erin and Stella are all recently married. They've managed to land their dream men, and their newly married lives are just starting out. Casey has Nick, the man she's fantasized about since high school. Erin has David, her sweetie from college. Stella has Mark, and a picture-perfect jet-set life. However, before the ink even dries on the marriage certificates, things start to look troubled for these three women.

For starters, Nick has a bad problem with seeing anything through. He didn't finish law school, he never actually proposed, and, oh yeah, he's not quite sure he wanted to even get married. David is wedged, literally as soon as the honeymoon ends, between the two women in his life - his wife...and his mother. Mark gets caught in a rather important misunderstanding on his wedding night that ends in an early finish to the honeymoon.

Now, after finding out that marriage isn't all it's cracked up to be, these three women discover something even more disturbing - they're not even married. Can you see that giant, mushroom-shaped cloud presiding over Massachusettes? That would be the fallout from the explosions going on when these ladies must decide whether to walk down that aisle again, or walk away from their dreams.

I could ramble on and on about the plot in this book, about how these characters were so fresh and funny, about how I could see every single situation actually happening (hey, I've had a mental breakdown at the Clinique counter, ok?). I could tell you all about how Ms. Kendrick weaves this amazing spell and sucks you right into the center of the room for all of the heartache and angst and laughter. I could try to dazzle you with how the story unfolds in such a way that you really don't know who will work and who will flop until the very end. I could attempt to describe the dog, that big, burly, black hulk of a canine that manages to perform what each of the women only dream of doing. I could... but I won't. Because you can go over to the LC and read that, or you can head over to Ms. Kendrick's site and figure it out.

What I will do is this... I will tell you that I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed every single second of the 3 hours and 27 minutes it took me to devour it. Yes, I bought it Wednesday night. I headed home from the bookstore and did some writing. I put the kids to sleep and snuggled up in my big empty bed, and just sank into this story. And yes, as soon as I was done, and I finished beaming, I ran right down here and decided to tell you all about it. So. There.

I don't know Beth Kendrick. She's not one of the people I met in New Jersey. I've never hugged her or shared e-mails with her. She'd probably think I was a scary stalker freak if she met me. But I do know one very important thing about her - this woman can write! And for all of you out there wondering... YES, I will toss my copy of Nearlyweds into the contest spoils. Not because I don't like it and won't read it again. But because I like it so much that I'm going to order another copy, and I think someone else should share in my joy. (Oh come on, you knew this was coming... )
So.
There.

Keep turning those pages!
- dee

(ps - if you caught the slightly snarky tone of this review, bear in mind the time. Now think about how little I sleep when my husband is out of town. Now remember that he's been gone since Sunday. Go ahead, add up those days. My sleep consists of catnaps while the kids zone in front of "Cars" right now, and I just don't feel like being light and fluffy. But I really loved this book, so don't hold my nasty 'tude against Beth, or the book. It's really so much better than I incompetently described in my sleep-deprived way, and you'll really be missing out if you don't read it. 'Nuff said.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

November contest UPDATES

Oh friends, November is just so full! We have fried turkey day coming up, my husband is off in Texas (the land of all things BIG, donchaknow?), Charity's done with that carnival, and I'm eeking out an average of 2500 words a day on my NaNo story. PLUS, we're doing this fabulous contest here at Dee & Dee, where you, our favorite people in the world (besides our kiddies and hubbies, and well, each other!), get to win some fabulous, free BOOKS. I wanted to update you on the contest, because I promised that I would. And because this is just too much fun to hold inside my little ol' self any longer.

First, we have a Special Guest Judge for the contest! That's right, we're not just going to call on the CherryBombs this month. While they do an incredible job, I'm guessing they might just be sick of me begging them to be the judges every single month. Frankly, it's too hard for me and Charity to judge these things, because, well, we love ALL of you. Plus, it's much easier for us to put it off on someone else. So. There you have it. Our SGJ is none other than the amazingly talented Kristan Higgans. Charity reviewed Kristan's book, Fools Rush In, earlier this month, and Kristan was gracious enough to do a mini-interview with her. I plucked up the courage to ask Kristan to judge the contest and SHE. SAID. YES! WOOHOO! How freakin-A cool is that?

As a bonus, Kristan is going to send the winner a signed copy of Fools Rush In, as part of the prize package.

Also, Lois Winston, author of Talk Gertie To Me (reviewed here this month), is also sending out a signed copy of her book to the winner.

Plus, I'm getting a signed copy of Joshilyn Jackson's gods in Alabama (reviewed here by me and in another review by Charity) sent to the winner as well. Don't think that Joss and I are all close or anything. We're not. Well, in my very most embarrassing FanGirlSqueeMemories, we are like this, BFF and all, you know. But in reality, I'm just an almost stalker fan. However, since I read her blog all the time, I know that the book will be sent out. I'm just good that way.

So, that's three "Rookie" books going out to the winner. There will be two other books in the prize pack, but alas, they won't be signed. They are coming straight to the winner, and they are personal faves of mine. They are both from "Veteran" authors, and I hope you enjoy them. They are Whitney, My Love, by the incomparable Judith McNaught, and Don't Look Down, by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. Of course, if the winner already has either of these, I'll be more than happy to substitute the "Veteran" books for different ones, but we can haggle that out later.

I just have to tell you that Kristan has her work cut out for her. We already have at least 12 entries, from comments and e-mails. I am SOOOOO glad that I don't have to judge! Just remember that the contest closes on Saturday, at 11:59 ET. Please make sure that all comments or e-mails are sent by then. I will gather them all together and get them off to Kristan shortly after the contest closes, and she can judge them. Then the winner will be announced, and the books will be mailed. I'm just so excited I can hardly wait! Until then...

Keep turning those pages!

dee

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I'm In No Mood For Love - Rachel Gibson

Well Hello, Lovelies! This review is for Lucy. She's already read the book, so it should be interesting to see how different our takes are. I had meant to do this review last night, instead I spent the evening in the hospital and then church for Miss Beautiful's School Fall Program. Then, since I had a full day of taking it easy planned, a friend called me this morning with an emergency and needed me to take care of her baby girl. Glutton for punishment? Who, me? So, I've spent today babysitting and crying. Pain sucks, and I blame it all on old age. I still have a ton more books to review and several more in my TBR pile. That TBR pile keeps growing. I think for every book I read, I buy two more. And since it's Tuesday (and new books come out on Tuesday) and I have to go to Wally World to get a prescription filled, then I'm sure there will be at least one more new addition to the pile. It's NaNo still, and Dee is pluggin away at it, so go give her some luv will ya? Also, don't forget this months contest, Veterans and Rookies . You can click over to that post and leave your entry in the comments, or e-mail them to deeanddeedish@sbcglobal.net . And now, without further ado...

I'm In No Mood For Love by Rachel Gibson
BCC

Bridesmaid Gone Wild

What is Clare Wingate doing? One minute she's suffering in a pretty-in-pink gown she'll never wear again, and the next thing she knows it's morning...and she has the nastiest hangover of her life.

To make matters worse, she's wearing nothing but a spritz of Escada and lying next to Sebastian Vaughan...her girlhood crush turned sexy, globe-hopping journalist. Somewhere between the toast and the toss of the boquet she'd gotten herself into a whole lot of trouble.

Clare had the right to go wild-after all, she'd been knocked off her dyed-to-match shoes after finding her own fiance in a compromising position with the washing machine repairman Clearly her society wedding is off.

But Sebastian pushed all the wrong buttons- and some of the right ones, too. Clare is in no mood for love-not even for lust-and wants to forget about Sebastian and his six-pack abs ASAP. But he isn't in the mood to go away, and his kiss is impossible to forget.

I actually read this BCC before I bought the book. I liked the cover, but something kept causing me to pick it up and then put it back. Finally, I read the BCC and thought, why not? So, I did, all in all, like this BCC. That was before I read the book. Now it's just okay. It is a tad misleading. The last paragraph of it made me expect Sebastian of pursuing Clare for a relationship and perusing her hard, but that wasn't technically the case.

I had read Gibson's Sex, Lies, and Online Dating , and hated it. Okay, okay, hate is a rather strong word choice, I was just really, really, really unimpressed. But, since this isn't a review of that particular book, I'll cut to the chase - No Mood is book two in a some-what series, and if I would have been paying attention to the fact that this was the same author that penned SLAOD I probably would have missed out on a decent read, since I would have immediately put it back.

Just as the BCC says, Clare comes home from her friend Lucy's wedding and finds her fiance getting down and dirty with the repairman. Horrified, Lucy rushes back to the reception and drowns her sorrows with chamagne and then gin and tonics. Again. This isn't the first time Clare has known heartache and this isn't the first time she drowned that sorrow with booze. It's the second. And just like that first time, Clare wakes up the next morning not alone.

Only this time, the man Clare wakes up to, is none other than her childhood crush and tormenter, Sebastian. Sebastian's dad has worked for Clare's mother for the better part of 30 years, but the relationship between father and son has been basically non-existent. After losing his mother, Sebastian takes a trip to visit his father, and is shocked to find Clare, awkward and gangly as a child, all grown up and incredibly sexy.

I did enjoy this book. I liked that, to me, it felt way more like Sebastian's story than Clare's. I didn't feel Clare changed that much throughout the story, and while that's okay, I need to see growth in the characters, and I just didn't feel it that much with Clare. But, Sebastian was a whole other story. The man underwent some serious internal changes and they were all for the better. I bonded with Seb (no need for me to continue to use his full name, we are tight) and I cheered for him when his life seemed to click into place.

I'm still not a fan of Gibson's writing style. It feels choppy and forced in many places. But as, Kara Lennox says in this Romancing the Blog post , it's not so much great writing that gets a story sold, but a great idea. Like Lucy, I liked that Gibson incorporated AIDS and the scary possibility of the disease, into her story. This isn't touched upon in a lot of novels. Usually, the use of a condom in a Romance is for birth-control, and I have from time to time thought, I cannot believe you just FORGOT to use a condom and your first concern is OMG, am I preggers? You don't know where that thing has BEEN! It is ideas like this that make for a great story idea.

All in all, No Mood was an easy read. A hit, where it's companion SLAOLD was a miss. I'll give the next story a chance.

Take Care