M/M Challenge Review: Inland Empire by James Buchanan

Nicky and Brandon are back, and this time they're on Brandon's turf.

Nicky's still on disability when he comes to Riverside to visit Brandon and pick up his 'Querida' from the Bakersfield's impound lot. Brandon loves having Nicky around, but at the same time, he's worried someone might find out that Nicky's more than just a friend.

When Nicky becomes involved with the Task Force Brandon's on, the tension ratchets higher as Brandon's paranoia about being outed increases. Will his inability to step out of the closet mean the end of his relationship with Nicky? Or will the danger of the case they're on make it all a moot point?

Find out in this exciting sequel to Cheating Chance.

So Nicky has made his way to Riverside. Brandon's been heading to Vegas almost every weekend to spend with Nicky and help him recover from his brush with death (from Cheating Chance). But when Nick and his computer savvy ways got put on Brandon's case I thought Brandon would blow a friggin cog. He was beside himself. On one hand he loved having Nicky around and coming home to him but on another he's so very scared of getting outed and Brandon was thinking that Nicky was acting a little too gay. Poor Brandon. He assumes people will talk because he and Nicky are staying at Brandon's 1 bedroom apt. This causes quite the fight between the two men.
While there is some talk around that Nicky is "fluffy", which of course pisses Brandon right off, Nicky doesn't mind it. Brandon is beside himself and freaked that everyone will know. It's a constant theme through the book and it was great to Nicky really calming Brandon down when he got too out of control.

I have to tell you I love Nicky and Brandon. There's just something about the chemistry that they have together that really gets to me, sucks me in and makes it so I can't put the book down. I loved when Nicky and Brandon were tender with each other - when they were hot and heavy with each other (yes, there was rope involved in this book too - which was damn hot. :)) and when they were fighting - all of it made for great reading because they are just great characters.

Another player that we got to see a bit more of was Jeff, Brandon's police partner. I just dug him, he cracked me up. When Brandon forgot Nicky's birthday? Oh, Jeff just gave it to him good:

Falling into step next to him, Weaver shook his head. It seemed the gesture de jour. “You’re worse than clueless, Carr. Let me lay it out for you. He leaves lala land, where all of his buds are probably pushing him to go to dinner, party or whatever kinds of things they do. But they’re all going to make a big thing out of it. Now, remember, there are no big plans with you for anything. You’re not going to be home until well after midnight and probably beat. Only met him once, but Nick’s not stupid.” They cut down a side street to head through White Park. “I’m sure he understood you weren’t going to be dancing the night away somewhere. But, he leaves the promise of a big to-do, goes back to your crappy little apartment on the edge of the boonies, catches some Zs so that he can be awake and spend his birthday with you. And what happens?” Passing through into the park, Weaver still had to up the volume of his voice to be heard over traffic noise. “You, suave cop, present him with a couple of takeout burgers and late night programming. No prezzies, as my kids say. No cake. Not even a goddamn card. And you think you told him happy birthday. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting clowns and bouncy houses, but maybe a candy bar with a candle in it.” Turning onto Chestnut, Weaver slapped Brandon on the back of his head. “Do you not understand what is wrong with that picture?”

On top of the wonderful relationship that is building between the two men we get to be involved in a case with Vietnamese gangs and everything that was involved. The police speak and procedure was just interesting. Again, what could have been dry informational stuff was brought to life.

I loved the book - even more than Cheating Chance I must say. If you haven't read this author yet and you read m/m you should definitely give these books a try.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Some Reviews Posted

  • My review for The Renegade Hunter by Lynsay Sands has posted over at The Book Binge. This was the book that I had such an issue with the ending. There is a spoiler in the review - just FYI.
  • My mom, Judith, has been incredibly busy reading and writing reviews. She's had quite a few posted over at TBB but she's also posted some this week on her own blog, Dr J's Book Place. It's very cool to go to my mom's blog and see a review for Flat Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy, among others. lol

And here's a cookie for you - just because I lubs ya!

DIK Reading Challenge Review: The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh

The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh

He first spies her in the shadows outside a London theatre, a ravishing creature forced to barter her body to survive.

To the woman known simply as Fleur, the well-dressed gentleman with the mesmerizing eyes is an unlikely savior. And when she takes the stranger to her bed, she never expects to see him again. But then Fleur accepts a position as governess to a young girl…and is stunned to discover that her midnight lover is a powerful nobleman. As two wary hearts ignite–and the threat of scandal hovers over them–one question remains: will she be mistress or wife?


Fleur is on the run. She's accidentally killed a man and has run to London to escape her fate. With no references and eventually no food she does the only thing she feels she can - she sells her body. Her first client ends up being the Duke of Ridgeway. He is married and this is the only time he's ever cheated on his wife. He ends up being angry at what he is doing and takes Fleur is rough manner. Fleur doesn't go back on the streets when she recovers but tries the employment agency one more time. She ends up finding employment as a governess and moves into a grand home in Doresetshire. Of course the home is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Ridgeway.

The Duchess is none too thrilled at having Fleur as governess but deals with it. When the Duke comes back from London the Duchess believes that the Duke has hired Fleur because she is his doxie. Fleur is shocked to see the awful, scarred man who took her virginity so horribly and is terribly scared of him. Despite her fear, however, she starts to see that he's not a bad person at all and cares deeply about people. She also comes to care deeply about her charge, Lady Pamela.

The Duke likes having Fleur as his daughter Pamela's governess. He enjoys listening to her give Pamela lessons. He tells himself that it's all for Pamela, but is it really? He doesn't want to admit that he's starting to have feelings for Fleur - but he is committed in his relationship with his wife. His wife however wants nothing to do with him, is revolted by him and his scarred face and hates him with everything she is. In fact so much so that they have never consummated their marriage. How, you may ask, could Pamela be his daughter then? Well, you see - Pamela is actually his brother's child but the Duke claims her as his own.

When Fleur's guardian, Matthew, finds Fleur at the Duke's residence he tries to blackmail her into marriage - which is what he was trying to do when she fled her real home originally. The Duke discovers what's happening and helps Fleur - but there is so much more behind the story.

I'm discovering that I really like Mary Balogh's writing. Although I've only read 2 of her books they've been told beautifully and they really pull me into the different settings. The ones I've read have not been simple stories at all, but intricate tales of love. The problems that I had with the book really didn't have anything to do with the writing or the story itself but more my own issues with infidelity in books. I don't like it. Usually when I see a book where I know there will be cheating I just don't read it. But when Jenre, who has this book on her DIK list, gave us a blurb of the book I got intrigued.

This was a very different type of book with infidelity in it. The Duke of Ridgeway, Adam Kent, had gone off in the infantry and comes home after a year of being thought dead. His half brother had assumed the position of Duke and was betrothed to Adam's once fiance, Sybil. The half brother takes off and leaves Sybil pregnant. She accepts Adam's proposal of marriage and Adam accepts the child as his own. But as I said, Sybil hates Adam because she is with Adam and not Thomas, his brother, and she believes that Adam has sent Thomas away. Adam doesn't love his wife but he is determined not to screw things up - unfortunately Fleur's presence in his home more or less undermines that. Fleur and Adam know that they can't be together - and it takes quite a long time for her to see the wonderful person that Adam is, but they can't stop loving each other.

This was a very good book with a lot going on. I did have times while reading when I was saying - no, don't do that (with regard to Adam and Fleur) but it was a beautiful love story - despite the infidelity issues.


Rating: 4 out of 5


Fan Girl Squeeeeeeeee!!!

LB Gregg just got the cover for her new book, Catch Me If You Can, that releases on March 16th! Isn't it purty?


CMIYC is the first book in the Romano and Albright series and it looks great! You can read a blurb here at Samhain: CMIYC blurb

The New No Shopping T-Shirt

This is a good one for the men to wear to try to get back at their wives/girlfriends/S.O.'s/boyfriends who make them go shopping with them!

What I Read Last Week

Ok - I'm an idiot and when I posted this (this morning) I forgot to change the date on the post and it posted like I wrote it last week. Duh!

Good morning!

How are you all today? I'm doing well. I went to Vegas with some friends of mine this past weekend. We left Friday morning and just got back last night. We went and saw an improv show that was just hilarious. The headliner, Rocky Laporte, was the funniest and my sides hurt afterward. We also went dancing 2 nights in a row and damn my feet still hurt! lol

We stayed at the Paris and Harlequin had a cover art exhibit called The Heart of a Woman. I made my friend Lily take pictures of the whole damned thing - lucky her! lol - and I will post them when she gets them to me. It was pretty cool.

Anyway, I hope you had a nice weekend! On to what I read this past week:

Uly's Comet by Sharon Maria Bidwell is the first book in the Swithin Chronicles series. The book is the story of Uly who is captured by Markis, the prince of Swithin, when trying to pick his pocket. Markis has Uly bathe, eat and sleep but tells him if he leaves in the morning he can stay away forever. This goes on for a while before Markis realizes he has feelings for Uly. But Markis has great power. He's considered the Comet and has the power of a comet - it just needs to be controlled. Though Markis has feelings for Uly he cannot act on those feelings as his council has told him he must stay celibate. Ryanac, Markis's best friend and captain of his guard, tells Markis that he thinks that Markis's love for Uly will help him control his power - but Markis isn't so sure. I really enjoyed this book a lot. It was a great fantasy and the world building was pretty darned good as well. It did have some m/f moments and even after Markis marries for convenience there's a m/m/m/f scene in there. I'm looking forward to seeing where Markis, Uly, Ryanac and Markis's new bride, Tressa, go in the next book. 4 out of 5

The Immortal Hunter by Lynsay Sands was my Tracy's TBR Challenge Read for the week. The story was about Decker who was chasing a rogue, Nicholas Argeneau, while Nicholas was chasing other rogue's who had kidnapped 2 women. Decker saves one woman, Dani, but not her sister. Dani he saves turns out to be Decker's life mate. Together they go after her sister before she's killed. I thought the book was cute but I have to say that it kind of annoyed me at some points. Like Dani was in trouble and the rogue's kept trying to kidnap her back - but Decker and the other rogue hunters kept leaving her by herself. Hello? Anyone home? You don't do that! lol But I liked it other than this little issue. 3.75 out of 5




The next book I read, The Renegade Hunter by Lynsay Sands, I read for The Book Binge. I will let you know when my review posts. FYI - This was the book that I had such a problem with the ending. I still have to write the review and I still haven't decided how exactly to do that! lol



And that's it! Can you believe it? Me neither - there's just not a lot of time to read when you're in Vegas!! lol That just leaves more to read this week. :)

Happy Reading!

Judging A Book By Its Ending

I just finished a book last night that had me saying WTF? about 10 times in a row. My husband, obviously curious as to what had me so upset, turned from the computer to ask what was up. When I explained the story line and then what happened at the end of the book to him he looked at me and said, you guessed it, WTF?

So upset as I am about the end of the book I had to stop and think about how this affected my view on the book as a whole. I really liked the book but I hated the ending. How will this change, if at all, my rating of the book? Yes I felt that the end wasn’t what it should be but was it a bad book because of it? IDK. I haven’t made any type of decision yet and I’m not sure I’ll be able to right away. This is odd for me since yesterday I was just telling someone via email that I normally know the rating of a book right when I finish. But this one, not so much.

Today I started thinking (always a dangerous pastime) about how others feel and how much does the ending of a book affect your view of the whole? For me, I think that it would be judged on a case by case basis depending on the book and ending but I think I might be in the minority here.

What are your thoughts?

Skin Game Review posted

Hey there! FYI my review for Skin Game by Ava Gray has posted over at The Book Binge!

A beautiful fugitive—wanted dead or alive.

Kyra is a con woman and a particular kind of thief. She steals with a touch, but she only takes one thing: her target’s strongest skill. Which means she can be a fighter, an athlete, a musician, an artist—anything she wants… for a limited time. Heartbroken, she turns her gift toward avenging her father’s murder; with deadly patience, Kyra works her way into casino owner Gerard Serrano’s inner circle. After pulling off the ultimate con, she flees with his money and his pride.

A hit man who never misses the mark.

Reyes has nothing but his work. Pity for Kyra, he’s the best and mercy never sways him once he takes a job. He’s been hired to find out where Kyra hid the cash—and bring her back to face Serrano’s “justice.” Dead will do, if he can’t locate the loot. He’s never failed to complete a contract, but Kyra tempts him with her fierce heat and her outlaw heart. So Reyes has a hell of a choice: forsake his word or kill the woman he might love.

Kyra is a con woman, a grifter. She loves what she does and she's been doing it all her life. Sure, she's got warrants out for her arrest, but she lays low and plays the small towns of America. When the book begins she's trying to quietly make her way to her friend, Mia, who is supposed to be in Fargo, ND on a job. She runs into Rey - an though she doesn't want to have anything to do with him she gives him a ride. She runs into Rey again and they hit it off. Kyra decides that she'll show him the ropes of what she does and then move on. She likes the way he looks, but she never sleeps with a man more than once. Read more------>

What I Read Last Week

Happy Monday!
How you doin'? Did you all have a nice week last week? It was more than a little stressfull in Tracyland this past week but we're hanging in there and things will improve - of that I'm completely optimistic!

Thank you all for giving a nice warm welcome to my mom, Judith. She currently has an interesting post about sexuality in romance lit up on her blog. Go Mom.

So on to what I read:

First up was Liberation by KZ Snow. This was a cute novella about an older woman and younger man finding passion together. They meet, have exhibitionist sex, fall in love, you know, the usual. :) I liked it. 3.75 out of 5










Next was Skin Game by Ava Gray that I read for The Book Binge. I'll let you know when my review posts. Oh and my review posted for See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson in case you're interested.










After that it was Full Moon Mating (Wolf Creek Pack book 1) by Stormy Glenn. A Sheriff , Joe, responds to a call for a grocery store robbery. He enters to find a mute man, Nate, doing CPR on the grocery store owner - but was it Nate who shot him in the first place? Joe wants to know, but he's more interested in Nate - who he thinks is his mate. Turns out Nate isn't a mute but he is an emotional empath and is running from the man who's been controlling his life for the past 19 years. Joes' a shapeshifter and is determined to keep Nate safe. This was a cute book. There were some serious editing issues though - like it read as if the men had been together for about a month but then Joe was taking Nate out for their 2 month anniversary but then Nate was so excited because Joe was taking him out for their 3 week anniversary. Huh? Then the whole issue with the changes in Joe during the Full Moon and what he was gonna do with Nate...but if it had been 2 months why hadn't they had the mating yet? Cute but with some serious errors and few plot holes. 3 out of 5


My Tracy's TBR Challenge Read for the week was Intimate Enemies by Shana Abe. I really loved Abe's Drakon series so when I saw this on the shelf at the drugstore I grabbed it. Of course it sat there for months, but whatever. This is a book that was originally published in 2000 but then reprinted in 2009. The book follows Lauren MacRae on the Isle of Shot who has taken over the Laird's position in her clan after her father is killed in battle and her cousin, who is the next Laird, is recovering from wounds and unconscious. She's fighting Vikings who are trying to take over the Island but also the English Morgan's who the MacRae's have been in battle with for forever over who's island it really is. Lauren finds herself, however, attracted to the Earl du Morgan and they decide to try a truce between the two sides in order to fight the Vikings as one. It's a tale about forbidden love and loyalty to family. Although the story is beautifully written in its romantic aspect there were times when I was just overwhelmed by inner thoughts and descriptions and just a tad bored and found myself skimming to get to some dialogue, action, battle, whatever, in order to get the story going again. I know this is just me and others who might read it might or might not feel the same but there ya go. I kept going back and forth over what to rate it so it got a 3.5/3.75 out of 5

Next was Just A Taste of Me (Wolf Creek Pack book 2) by Stormy Glenn (hey! I had it, might as well read it!). This was better with the editing so that was good. The book started with Reese trolling a bar for a one night stand. He see's Keeley (yes, that's a man) walk into the bar and then go into the bathroom. He's immediately attracted to Keeley, but concerned when he see's another man follow Keeley to the restroom. The man attempting to attack Keeley in the restroom is a bloodsucker (vamp) and Reese saves Keeley by blood bonding with him. He know's that Keeley's his mate but he's never been with a man before. He took it well, I think, and also takes the fact that Keeley is a flamboyant man well too. His pack, however has different plans for Reese and all hell breaks loose. This is WC Pack book 2 but the WC Pack only shows up near the end in order to help Reese and his pack, as Keeley is a good friend of Nate's (from book 1). It was a cute story but it seemed to drag a bit here and there and I found myself skimming. I hate skimming. Usually I'm an every word reader and skimming annoys me - but when you're bored whatcha gonna do? 2.5 out of 5

Next was The Darkest Whisper (Lords of the Underworld book 4) by Gena Showalter. Sabin, the keeper of Doubt and his men infiltrate a lab in Egypt where they find women of all paranormal races being held, raped and used as incubators. The children they bear are taken from them and used against the Lord's in the Hunters' fight. Gwen is one of these women, but she's never been touched by the humans as they are terrified of her. She's a Harpy and when agitated goes completely out of control. Sabin gets uber attached to Gwen and she him but they need to fight the Hunters. While they're falling in love Sabin teaches Gwen to get in touch with her Harpy side and try to control it better. But there's a huge issue between them, trust, and almost breaks them apart for good. There's so much more going on in the story than this but that's the main love story. It was a good addition to the series and I really enjoyed reading it. 3.75 out of 5



Next was a yaoi novel by Narise Konohara called Don't Worry Mama. A 25 year old man, Yuichi, who works for a pharmaceutical company goes on a day trip to a deserted island with his boss, Imakura, who's 30 and, as described by Yuichi, a disgustingly fat and pig-like man with 4 chins that remind him of stacked rice cakes. Yuichi and Imakura accidentally get left on the deserted island for about 6 weeks. While Imakura and Yuichi hated each other at first they start a relationship while on the island that they both want to continue when the get rescued only likfe, and Mama intervene. Oh the problems I had with this book. Yuichi is a self-stated impatient and verbally abusive person but he always tries to keep that under wraps and tries to find the good in people - or so it says in the book. Yuichi's personality was such a dichotomy it was utterly confusing. He was such a bastard to Imakura but then found himself being attracted to and falling in love with him and tricking him into sex. Imakura, who I hated at first, turned himself around from being a complete mama's boy but I felt sorry for him having to deal with Yuichi. Besides that Imakura seemed to be a completely different person after he got back to civilization - completely. At times I was horrified at what was happening on the island and others I was laughing my ass off because it was so ridiculous. I'm not even gonna get into the Imakura's penis issues (phimotic and the size of a thumb - oy!). Let's just say that's a couple hours of my life I'll never get back! 2 out of 5


Next was Dirty by Megan Hart. I guess you could call this another Tracy's TBR Challenge read as I've had it for so long. I finally sat down with it and it was very good. Elle, who has been with a lot of men sexually, meets Dan who intrigues her in a way that she's never experienced before. They start a sexual relationship but Elle has huge issues and immediately tells Dan not to get attached because the relationship is going nowhere. But Elle can't seem to stay away from Dan and he seems to soothe her in a way that no one else does. As much as I liked this story I found myself getting a tad frustrated at just the little bits of Elle's past that we're given. On my ereader I was on page 187 and going "Ok, I NEED MORE!" lol Elle's past is just tragic but the story is so well written, as are all Hart's stories, that I just couldn't put it down. 4.25 out of 5

Last was Ringside the first book in the Three Sister's series by Stephanie Williams and LaVerne Thompson. Atlanta is having some problems getting her life on track. She's read some self-help books by author Hannah Grimes and she feels such a connection to the author that she goes in search of her. Only Hannah Grimes is a pen name for ex-boxer Hank Gaines. Atlanta meets Hank and they both feel a connection. Hank knows he needs to tell Atlanta that he is Hannah but he keeps getting side-tracked. When she finds out she's none too happy and things blow up. I liked the idea of this novella but it just ended up not being for me. It was too sappy, they fell too hard, too fast, it was too comfortable - IDK, it just didn't have a feeling of reality to me. Also this was supposedly an interracial romance but I couldn't find any mention in the book of this. A tad strange...did I miss it? IDK. 2.5 out of 5
Happy Reading!

My 2010 Reading Challenges

Last year was my first year to attempt a reading challenge. Wait, that's not true. I started the TBR challenge 2 years ago but started it late and ended it early. Oops. :) So last year was the first year that I had entered into reading challenges (Nath's Re-read and KMont's Year of the Category challenges) and actually completed them! Yay! *throws confetti*

KMont's challenge was a lot of fun and got me to read books that I may not have read otherwise. Category romances aren't the ones I pick up on a regular basis - not sure why. I have some on my shelves, but they tend to sit there.

Nath's challenge was a little bit more difficult for me in choosing which books I wanted to re-read. I didn't want to re-read books that I had in the past year...and I think I accomplished that (I'll have to check). Some of the books that I started got put back down. Like Lover Revealed by JR Ward. I didn't care for it the first time for several reasons (#1 Marissa) and thought I'd give it another chance. Nope, couldn't do it. After the first chapter I had to put that puppy down. But for the most part I enjoyed re-reading the books I chose and it was a fun challenge.

This year I wanted to try my hand at something different. I've joined two challenges again this year (didn't want to overtax my poor little brain) and I'm excited about them. The first one is the DIK Reading Challenge sponsored by the DIK blog. I get to choose any book that the ladies have taken to the island with them and then do a review for it. The second is the M/M Reading Challenge sponsored by Anasthezea at I Heart Paperbacks. I already read m/m books but the challenge for me is to review them, which I've done only infrequently in the past. Here's more information on both:


We here at DIK love our DIK books. What better way to spend our evenings than to curl up by a warm beach fire and read? Oh, wait, you have a point…please let me revise. *ahem* What better way to spend an evening than to curl up by a warm beach fire, snuggled up to the heroes in your hut and read? Better? I thought so too.

Knowing this we’ve decided to hold the 2010 DIK Book Reading Challenge. The Challenge? Each month you will pick one of the 188 books that the DIK Ladies have brought to the island, read it, review it on your blog and then show us the link. It's simple and we think it will be a ton of fun!

Do you have to be a DIK lady to do the challenge? Nope. If you are a DIK lady are you required to do the challenge? Nope.

Rules:
1. Pick one book from the DIK book list to read and review.

2. Book reviews can be posted any day during the last week of each month.

3. Link back to the blog when you do a DIK Book Reading Challenge (we'll do a sticky post). If you don’t link to us we won’t know that you’ve posted a review! :)

4. Please clearly state in the title of your post that the review you are posting is for the DIK Book Reading Challenge.

At the end of the year the participants that have posted reviews for all 12 months will be put in one big pot and we will draw a name to win a $50 gift certificate from Amazon/Borders/Barnes and Noble/Books A Million (really it's your choice which place you want the certificate from as long as we can purchase it from our computer!)

That’s it! Simple right? Yeah that’s what we thought so sign up and let's get this started… speaking of starting it will begin on January 1st! Now excuse us while we go figure out which books to pick *wink*

I've only chosen my first book for this challenge as I bought it and intended to read it a long time ago and never did. It's The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh (on Jenre's list)


TIMELINE: January 1st to December 31st 2010

RULES: Read five(5) or more m/m romances in 2010

There are 5 reading levels to choose from:
- Read 5 M/M Romances
- Read 10 M/M Romances
- Read 15 M/M Romances
- Read 20 M/M Romances
- Read 20+ M/M Romances

DETAILS:

This challenge is for those who enjoy reading gay romances (also known as m/m or male/male romances) or those who are interested in starting. If you aren’t familiar with this genre, it consists of novels and stories where the main focus is the romantic relationship between the male protagonists.

• You must be 18 years old or older to join.

• You don’t have to select your books ahead of time. Even if you do, you can change your books as you go. Your books can crossover with other challenges.

• You don’t need a blog to participate. You can comment on this post if you’d like to share a book list or reading pool.

• Please create a post on your blog where you’ll be keeping track of your challenge reads and link back to this post so others can join in on the fun. If you use a “Current Challenges” page, or something similar, you can link back from that page instead of creating an individual post.

• You can use the large banner I’m using at the top of this post or you can use the smaller buttons I’ve provided below. Just copy the code provided. There’s no need to save the smaller buttons to your own server. (I have another large banner you can use here, if you’d like.)

• You can join at anytime between now and the latter part of 2010. Just give yourself enough time to read your chosen amount of books.

• Books chosen can be any length, sub-genre, or format. eBooks, paperbacks, young adult books, audio books, and re-reads are all okay.

• Once the challenge starts, I’ll create a page for everyone to post their reviews. Reviews are encouraged, but are entirely optional.

PRIZES:

Everyone who signs up for the challenge between now and January 31st will be eligible to win $15 in eBook Bucks from All Romance Ebooks!

I'm going for 20+ and so far I've already read and reviewed 2 books for this challenge - yippee!

1. His Convenient Husband by JL Langley
2. Chasing Smoke by KA Mitchell


M/M Challenge Review: Chasing Smoke by K.A. Mitchell

An old mystery brought them together. Solving it could tear them apart.

In the best of times, Daniel Gardner hates visiting his family. With his boyfriend pressuring him for a mortgage-serious commitment, Christmas in Easton, PA sounds, for once, like a welcome escape. His old house holds more than memories of a miserable adolescence, though. It has Trey Eriksson.

At seventeen, Trey was taken in by the wealthy Gardner family after his father was jailed for his mother’s murder. Until he left for the Army, he fought a double-edged battle—for proof of his father’s innocence and against his attraction to Daniel.

Fifteen years later, things haven’t changed. Trey is still looking for the real killer. And Daniel has never forgotten how Trey used to sneak into his room at night.

Now new clues to the murder are resurfacing—and so is Trey and Daniel’s sexual chemistry. Except this time, Trey has come to terms with his orientation.

But their connection may not be enough to overcome the mistakes of the past. Not while a murderer still walks free…

When Daniel comes home for Christmas and to close up his mom's house the last person he thinks he'll run into is Trey - his first love. From the blurb you understand that Trey and Daniel used to play around in Daniel's bedroom at night but Trey was just too unsure of his sexuality to go too far with Daniel. Although Daniel asks Trey to go away with him and off to New York, Trey joins the army instead. Now they're standing face to face and they're not sure how they feel about each other.

Trey really treated Daniel badly when he first sees him again. I didn't like Trey all that much when I first started reading about him. He just seemed too much like a condescending bastard and I wanted him far away from Daniel. But as the book went on I saw that Trey's attitude was all show. He cared for Daniel deeply but once again wasn't sure how to handle it. Daniel appeared to be, at first, the weaker of the two men - but what I discovered was that these were two very Type A personalities butting heads. They both had their ideas about how things were done - with their lives, their sexuality, their jobs, and the investigation concerning Trey's dad - but neither of them wanted to give an inch - except in the bedroom. I was almost on edge for most of the book wondering how the hell this pair was going to find a way to be together without just having sex constantly - not that the sex wasn't smoking hot, cuz it was, but it appeared that it was the only time they could agree on anything.

What KA Mitchell did in the end was give us, in my opinion, enough to work with so that we could use that sometimes underworked thing we all possess - our imagination. We had to figure out how Trey and Daniel could be together without making it a sappy HEA. I was definitely impressed with the way she showed us how they could be happy together - without actually handing it to us on a silver platter. My kind of book.

This is my second read by Mitchell and definitely won't be my last.

Rating: 4 out of 5

A New Blogger: My Mom!

My mom, Judith, and I have been talking about blogging lately and I explained to her a while back how you go about setting up a blog, etc. Well she's finally done it! You can find her at:

Dr. J's Book Place

She started yesterday and she's just posted a welcome post and then a list of what she's read lately. If you feel like it you can go over and say hi - make her feel welcome in our little romance blogging world. :)

What I Read Last Week

Greetings!

How was your week last week? Did you read anything spectacularly wonderful? If so you need to let me know!

This past Saturday we had a small gathering of the So Cal Bloggers. Wendy, Lori, Renee, Holly, Rosie and I all got together and did a little used book store hop along with lunch. It was great fun and I'm pretty sure we all had a good time - at least I know I had a good time. :) Let's see...I got books 1 & 3 in the Tessa Dare trilogy, one of the Lynn Kurland time travel books that I've been getting (I really should start reading those), the remaining 3 books in Anne Stuart's series about the Committee, The Hello Girl by Merline Lovelace and...wait, I think that's it. lol I'm trying to do this off the top of my head but I think that's it. Anyway, a good haul.

One of my local reading friends, Jen, was given a Total Gym by one of her friends. She decided she didn't want it so she brought it to me and I am the new of own of parts of a Total Gym. There are no instructions how to put the darned thing together or how to use it but I'm sure a trip & search to the internet will supply me with that. Now I just have to get off my lazy ass and use it. We'll see. :)

So what I read last week:


I started the week off with Forbidden Falls by Robyn Carr. I reviewed it here. 4.5 out of 5










Then there was Wild Heart by Lori Brighton. I was really looking forward to this book because for some strange reason I thought it had to do with shifters. Where on earth did I get that idea? IDK, but there were no shifters in this book. lol. It's a historical novel that has a paranormal element in that the heroine can feel the feelings of animals and calm them - only this man that she's supposed to be teaching...she can feel his feelings too. (Maybe that's why I thought he was a shifter). It was an ok read. I found it to be slower than expected. I did like the hero but he was so quiet it was hard to get to truly know him. Rating: 3.5 out of 5




Next up was a "From Holly's Bookself" read and my Tracy's TBR Challenge read for the week - See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson. I borrowed the book from Holly way back when I visited her at her home. I've written a review for The Book Binge and will let you all know when it posts.










His Convenient Husband by JL Langley was my next read. I added this one to my M/M Challenge and you can read my review here. 3.5 out of 5











Another M/M Challenge review will be for Chasing Smoke by KA Mitchell - this review will post Wednesday. Yep, I'm on a roll! lol










My next read was Shifting Winds by Lex Valentine. This is the first short in the Tales of the Darkworld series. I have to say that I expected the story to be much darker than it was - hence the word "Darkworld" but really, it wasn't at all. The story was about a vampire, Elysia, and a dragon shifter, Declan, who finally get together and have a night of passion. They fall in love quite quickly but the story is so short that it really doesn't show us why they fall in love with each other, other than the fact that they discover they are mates and very much enjoy having sex. Some pretty hot sex scenes but I found the love story itself just so-so. Rating: 3 out of 5




Last on my list for the week was Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan. This was recommended to me by Renee when the So Cal Blogger went to Costa Mesa and stalked the UBS there. I really liked the book for the most part and am looking forward to the next book. I did find the Warlord, Keir, much more communicative and understanding than I would expect a Warlord to be, but I didn't think that it took away from the story at all. Rating: 4.25 out of 5


Happy Reading!

M/M Challenge Review: His Convenient Husband by JL Langley

A temporary arrangement?
Don’t bet the ranch on it…
At the tender age of seven, newly orphaned Micah Jiminez lost everything—and got lucky. The Delaney family opened their hearts and their home, treated him like one of their own. One Delaney in particular, though, became more than a brother to Micah. The handsome and protective Tucker is the man to whom he wants to give his love.

But after a single passionate night together, Tucker rebuffs him and hightails it to Dallas to pursue his dreams. Leaving Micah to pick up the pieces of his broken heart—and feeling like a fool.


The impending death of the Delaney patriarch brings an unsavory relative out of the woodwork, threatening Micah’s beloved adopted family. They’re going to need all hands in the fight to keep The Bar D from being pulled out from under them all—including Tucker. Micah steels himself to convince the man he can’t forget to come home.


To his everlasting surprise, it’s Tucker who comes up with the perfect solution: a marriage of convenience—to Micah. His gut tells him Tucker’s motivation involves nothing more than saving the ranch. Now he just has to convince his fragile heart.


The blurb tells us a lot about what's going on so I won't go into too much detail. Micah, who's had a thing for Tucker for most of his life, goes to Tucker because he's in a bad spot. The Bar D is in financial trouble and Tucker's grandad, owner of the ranch, is dying. Micah needs Tucker to look over the will that Micah found to see if anything can be done about saving the ranch from the hands of the oldest son, Duncan. Tucker decides to help the ranch out by marrying Micah. You see in the will it says that the first person to marry gets the ranch - even if the marriage is between two men. The marriage only has to be legal somewhere not necessarily in Texas, which is where the story takes place.

I think this story was a bit old school in the fact that the marriage was of convenience. I didn't mind that so much as I minded the fact that Tucker thought of it and acted on it so quickly. I realize that time was a wastin' but it happened so fast I was a bit surprised.

At first I thought that Tucker was a complete bastard. The way he was treating his current man-interest was a bit shocking but I soon came to see that it was his way of dealing with men that he truly didn't want to get too involved with because he still had a thing for Micah - even though he wouldn't admit to it. He changed his tune once he was back on the ranch and became a much nicer guy. A bit stifling for Micah but with good intentions.

I enjoyed Micah's character's strength. He did what needed to be done around the ranch and the Delaney men listened to him. When Tucker came back to the ranch and tried to take over a bit I was happy to see that Micah stood up for himself.

That said, I wish that the story had been a bit longer. I would have liked to have seen a bit more time taken in making the decisions that were made and maybe delving into a few more characters a little deeper but what was there, I liked. I understand this is an extended version of a shorter story that was previously published. Maybe I can hope for an even more extended version? lol I won't hold my breath. :)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

My Favorites of 2009

2009 came out with some really great books! From historical to contemporary to paranormal, and more, there were just amazing reads out there. Some of the books that I read this year came out in previous years but I either didn't know about them or just hadn't gotten around to reading them yet.

I went over my reading lists and wanted to share the ones that I thought were exceptional. I know not everyone would agree with me but as I always say - there's something out there for everyone.

I've compiled a list of my favorite reads for 2009. I had to make some sort of cut off for myself so I only included the books I rated 5 out of 5. There were a lot of other books that I rated 4.25 or 4.5 and I really liked those too but as I said - I had to cut it off somewhere! :)

There are many different categories here so I put them in alpha order by title. Enjoy!


Almost Like Being In Love by Steve Kluger (review here)


Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer


Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh (review here)


Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs


Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh


Butterfly Tattoo by Deidre Knight


Collected Novellas Volume 1 by Josh Lanyon (my thoughts here)


Demon Forged by Meljean Brook (some thoughts)


Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione


Eyes of Crow (Aspect of Crow trilogy book 1) by Jeri Smith-Ready


Happy Ending by L.B. Gregg (review here)


Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs


Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole (review here)


Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas


Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas


The Dark Tide by Josh Lanyon


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (thoughts here)


The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley (review here)


The Smoke Thief (The Drakon, Book 1) by Shana Abe


The White Knight by Josh Lanyon (review here)


Voice of Crow (Aspect of Crow book 2) by Jeri Smith-Ready (review here)


What books did you think was exceptional this past year?

Review: Forbidden Falls by Robyn Carr

Reverend Noah Kincaid moved to Virgin River to re-open an abandoned church he bought on eBay. Like Noah, the place is a little empty inside and needs some loving care.

The young widower arrives ready to roll up his sleeves and build a place of worship and welcome, but he needs some help. And the Lord works in mysterious ways....

With her tight shirts and short skirts, “Pastor's assistant” is not a phrase that springs to mind when Noah meets brassy, beautiful Ellie Baldwin. The former exotic dancer needs a respectable job so she can regain custody of her children. And Noah can’t help but admire her spunk and motherly determination.

The pastor and the stripper: an unlikely team to revitalize a church, much less build a future. The couple has so many differences, but in Virgin River anything is possible, and happiness is never out of the question.

I certainly didn't love the last book in this series, Paradise Valley, all that much but as I said then, I like Carr's writing so it got a fair grade. Unfortunately it put me on some pins and needles even thinking about reading Forbidden Falls. It also has a Presbyterian minister in it and since my mom is a Presbyterian minister I thought it might have been a little close to home. lol I'm so happy that it all worked out.

Noah Kincaid is the type of man that I'd love to have a best friend. He's down to earth, loyal, caring and just all together a really nice person. He didn't have any thought of hiring Ellie to be his pastor's assistant after she left the interview but after talking to her and seeing why she needed the job so badly he decided to give her a chance. This endeared me to Noah as probably nothing else could. I thoroughly believe in giving people a chance - even though they might not look the part. Noah was definitely not disappointed in Ellie's work as she was just a whirlwind.

For Ellie's part in the book I thought that she'd seen some tough breaks in her life but had also made some really crappy decisions. I appreciated that she didn't let life get her down and crawl into a hole, as she so easily could have. Saying that, I think she might have been a little chipper for my tastes. I'm not sure how to explain it since I didn't feel that way while reading the book, just after I finished. Yes, she was wonderful and could really help people but she was damned near a saint in some aspects and I think it went a tad too far at some points.

Ellie's kid issues were horrifying and I can't imagine what she had to go through emotionally. This being said I thought she acted completely out of character at the end of the book when she got her kids back and had them stay with friends. I just don't think she ever would do that in a million years! But hey, that's me. :) I really liked her but that kind of threw me for a loop

Another part of the book involved Vanni and Paul who we met in a previous book, Second Chance Pass, and they have been married and raising Vanni's son together. When Paul's ex decides to leave him her daughter in her will, Paul falls hard for the 10 month old. (Hearing the description of the baby I can see why - she sounds adorable). Paul takes Hannah home to Vanni and Vanni is pissed. I can't say I'd be all that happy as well, but Vanni went a little nutty. Yes, she was jealous of Hannah because she didn't want her - she wanted her own child that they were starting to try for. I can't imagine how hard this would be and yes, it's a huge decision to make, whether to keep the baby or not, but Vanni went a little too crazy, imho. Just when I think Vanni is a character I can finally learn to like she does something like this...it's like 2 steps forward and 10 steps back. I like Paul so much it's just a shame that he's with Vanni! lol (I'm horrible, I know.) I guess for me no matter what the hardship was I'd open my heart to the situation and do what needed to be done so it was hard for me to relate to Vanni's reaction.

Overall I very much liked the book. It was an incredibly emotional read for me and I found myself getting watery eyes a few times which just normally doesn't happen! I think this is probably my favorite book since Whispering Rock...but that's me. :)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Two Things

#1 - My December 2009 Reading List is now posted over at my other blog.

#2 - My guest review for Smolder by Melina Morel has posted at The Book Binge.

Vengeance has its price. But you pay for passion forever...

Descended from werewolf hunters, Catherine Marais has vanquished countless of their vile kind-including the one that slaughtered her father. Her debt of blood and honor was fulfilled-but her heart is empty.

The only one who ignites Catherine's passion is Ian-a handsome, elegant vampire whose seductive touch she cannot resist. But when he offers her the dark temptation of eternal commitment to each other, Catherine must look within her heart-and her truest desires-to find the answers she seeks...

When I first started this book I was totally confused. Catherine and her partner Paul were killing werewolves - apparently the vilest of creatures - but yet Catherine was having a love affair with Ian, a vampire. Ok, vamps good...werewolves bad. But why? read more------->

What I Read Last Week

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a safe and fun New Year’s Eve. I tried to stay awake but just couldn’t! I finally turned the light off at 11:40pm because I just couldn’t stay awake any longer. lol

The girls went back to school today. They were actually excited to get back to all of their friends. I think that will last about a day and a half and then they’ll realize that with school comes homework! Oh well.

My hubby has been saying that he’s going to start Taekwondo with my youngest for months now. Yeah, that hasn’t happened - he’s put it off for one reason or another time after time. So for Christmas I signed him up for 4 months, got him a uniform and said he’d start January 5th. He was happy, but I think he’s a little afraid that he’ll not catch on quickly. He’s a smart guy so I know he’ll do fine. I’ll take pictures…he’ll hate that! lol As far as work is concerned I’m pretty darned glad the holidays are over.

My office is nutty around Christmas and Easter and it’s nice to have it settle down to being somewhat normal.

Oh and my mom, Judith, the woman who got me reading romance when I was 13, is now doing a guest reviews for The Book Binge! Her first review posted today – The Untamed Bride by Stephanie Laurens. She loved the book and said it very well. The woman is a Ph.D and knows how to write! This was one I gave her because I just couldn’t get through it. Just shows you that there’s something for everyone out there. :)

Hey – I found the picture of my eye tattoo! I knew I had it somewhere! Lol Here it is:) If you missed it you can see the cover up here.


On to what I read this week:

My first read was A Highlander’s Christmas by Dawn Halliday, Cindy Miles and Sophie Renwick. Three novellas in 3 different time periods with women who are linked by their clan pin that’s been handed down through the ages. You can read my review here.











Next up was Cheating Chance by James Buchanan. I really liked this story a lot. It was an m/m book that had an openly gay, goth agent for the Nevada Gaming Commission, Nick, and Brandon, an in the closet, biker boy cop with Riverside, CA PD meeting at a Goth convention in San Diego, CA. They hook up and then start an online relationship. The story covers the issues – long distance and of course Brandon’s closetedness (is that a word? It is now) - and pleasures of Brandon and Nick’s relationship. When Nick starts to be looked at as a person of interest in a murder, which he had nothing to do with it’s puts things on edge for both Nick and Brandon. This was just a fabulous book and I really liked both the relationship aspect of the book as well as Nick’s investigation into his former co-workers death. The attention to detail was so interesting when it could have very easily been dry. I will be reading the next book about Nick and Brandon. 4.5 out of 5



Next was my re-read for my Re-Read Challenge: Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie. You can read my review/thoughts here. 5 out of 5










On New Years Day I decided that I needed to read some of the manga that had come to me from the Great Yaoi Swap. My girls couldn’t understand how every time they came into the office where I was reading I was reading a different book. I kept saying: It’s like a comic book. They just didn’t get it. lol. Anyway, I started with Love a la Carte by Haruka Minami. I really liked the graphics in this one and the story about the members of a photography club were great. There was some borderline non-con sex, but it was ok. 4 out of 5

Manga #2 : Junior Escort by Sakurako Hanafubuki. I didn’t really care for this one much at all. I didn’t really like the main story of the 2 actors getting together. Then, dear Lord, there was a story in there about a 5th grader and a kindergartener. I. Shit. You. Not. It was horrifying and I was thoroughly disgusted. Just wrong! 2 out of 5

Manga #3: Rising Storm by Yuzuha Ougi. A guy takes a part-time job taking care of the horses for a rich family. The master of the castle decides he wants to be with him but decides that the only way that can happen is if it’s in the form of punishment for say, breaking things. It was a little weird at first but then was just amusing as the master kept putting priceless items right where the boy would break them. Pretty funny. But then it went into this dreamlike thing and got kinda bizarre. 3 out of 5


After that I delved into the latest saga with the Midnight Breed’s by reading Shades of Midnight by Lara Adrian. I didn’t particularly care for the last installment in this series so I was a little anxious to read this one. I have to say I really liked it. I thought that Kade’s story was really good and if you’ve been involved in the series I think you’ll like this one. There was a bit of a small pity party going on towards the end of the book but I didn’t think that it took all that much away from the story. 4.25 out of 5






After that was my Tracy’s TBR Challenge Read which was Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas. Why, you ask, would I buy a book right when it came out just to have it sit on my shelf for months? I have no friggin clue. That question is right up there with why is the sky blue and why do zebra’s have stripes. I don’t have the first idea and will probably never know. *sigh* Ah well. Anyway, I really liked the 3rd installment in the Hathaway series. Although I felt that Harry was a bit rough around the edges I liked his character a lot. Poppy was good for him and I liked seeing his transformation. I could have done with the last bit that was added in there (and if you’ve read the book you’ll know which bit I’m talking about) but it wasn’t awful – just unnecessary in my opinion. 4.5 out of 5


And last for the week was Captive Desires by Diane Whiteside – a book I read for The Book Binge. I’ll let you know when my review posts.

That was it for me last week. I hope you have a great one!

Happy reading!