Monday, December 28, 2009

Serial Readers Challenge

Well, my dear read-a-holics this year is winding down and coming to a close. It has been a very rewarding literary year for me, and a rewarding year in other areas of my life as well. However, the subject of this post is the wrap up for the Serial Readers Challenge.

I know this time of year is sooo busy, so I've extended the due date for your wrap up post until January 14th. Hopefully by then we will all have had time to update our lists, and post all our wonderful books we've read. I know, I've been keeping a running total with the books I've read, and it has been fun.

I'd love to hear on your wrap up posts not only the books you've read, and so forth, but what titles you loved and why. We discover so many new authors that way. Please post your wrap up posts here and we'll have so much fun looking over each others lists. I know I will. I'll be posting mine as well.

I hope dear Read-a-holics that this was a fun challenge for you. I hope that you got great enjoyment from starting and finishing series this year. Maybe you discovered new authors that are now cherished favorites. I know I did, Julia Quinn is my new best friend. Of course, she doesn't know it, but hey some friendships are just that way. I fell in love with the Brothers this year, and am finding the wait for the next book AGONIZING!! Mostly, I hope you all enjoyed the books you've read.

I look forward to hearing from you all. Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 26, 2009

It Happened One Night

by Lisa Dale

rated 4 stars

Best Friends to Lovers title for ROR Winter Reading Challenge

Back Cover:

Sometimes love finds you when you least expect it. Lana Biel has always wanted to shake the dust of Vermont off her feet and see the world, one exotic country after another. But when a lighthearted spring fling changes her life forever, she turns to the one man whose strong shoulders can lighten her burden, her best friend, Eli Ward.

Eli has always been there for Lana--after all, that's what best friends do. But Lana isn't the only one hiding something. Eli is keeping secrets of his own that threaten their relationship. Yet, as summer turns to fall, new desires awaken between them, even as old fears tear them apart. Then when another Vermont Winter fills the valley with snow, Eli and Lana are given the chance for an adventure greater than they ever dreamed possible...and a love that will last for all time.

My Thoughts:

Best Friends/Lovers really is the whole theme of this book. The story was all about relationships. The relationship between Lana and Eli. The relationship between Lana and Karin (her sister). Karin/Gene, Karin/Calvert(dad)/Lana.

Lana and Eli have been friends since college, where they had one steamy night together. Afterwards they both did things to send the relationship back to the "friend" zone even though they both knew that they were really in love with each other. They each had their reasons why. It takes Lana's one night stand with Ron, and the resulting pregnancy to force them to come to terms with their feelings for one another. Eli is the first to come to terms with his love for Lana, and decides to live honestly. He breaks up with his "girlfriend" and puts his energy into showing Lana how he feels. Lana has some growing up to do, and has about 9 months to do it. When she finally realizes what she wants,or rather who she wants, and decides to act on it, a misunderstanding sends Eli running. He's had enough of the pain. (usually this plot device irks me, but didn't this time. It made sense with their complicated history.)

Also, Karin (Lana's sister) is dealing with her own issues. Infertility, and the obsession to have a family. It starts to really affect her marriage, and then her DaddyIssues. (turns out he was neglectful to them growing up and now wants forgiveness, they are not so eager to accomodate). She kinda gets on my nerves really. Once she finds out Lana is pregnant and Lana more than likely intends to go the adoption route, she tries to hint and pressure Lana to give the baby to her and her husband. We all saw, that conversation coming, but it was kinda ookey!

I felt like Lana, was too slow to fully realize her feelings, and to admit to them. Geez! But all things considered, it was a good book. I got my Happily Ever After. Things worked themselves out all the way around nad it was good. It didn't feel "wrapped up" in the end like can sometimes happen. "Oh, it's 297 pages time to tie up all the loose ends.." Nope it ran it's course, the way it should have.


A Creed Country Christmas

by Linda Lael Miller

rated 4 stars

Back Cover:

It's the unforgiving Montana wilderness of 1910, and widowed rancher Lincoln Creed has more worries than rustler, wolves and blizzards. He needs a governess for his young daughter---a respectable lady who can teach Gracie and cook for them, yet who won't set her sights for him.

Disowned for her refusal to marry, Juliana Mitchell saves her love for her students and the two orphans in her care. That is until she meets the handsome rancher, Lincoln, and his Gracie. In the season for miracles, could Providence find a way to bring Juliana, the children, and the Creed family together in time for Christmas Eve?

My Thoughts:

I love her westerns. It was such a fast read. It's kind of cool to see the beginning of the Creeds. I liked also the side story with Lincoln's brother and his woman who owns the saloon. Anyway, there may be more historicals in this family story. I'd be happy to read them.

I liked that Juliana was a woman of conviction. She could have married the older partner of her brother and lived the life of a wealthy woman. Instead she stands up for what she wants. she decides to become a teacher. She ends up in Montana teaching at the indian school. The indian school closes and she ends up keeping 4 of her "students". Lincoln meets them in the mercantile store where she has figured out that they have nowhere to turn and no money. Lincoln comes to their aid, and takes them home to his ranch.

Juliana falls for Grace, and eventually Lincoln. After the birth of a ranch hands baby, Juliana is exhausted and emotionally spent. Lincoln ends up putting her in bed, and lays down beside her. They fall into an exhausted slumber where Grace finds them the next morning. Zoinks! Busted!!!

Funny, thing that the circuit preacher happens to be coming through the very next day.....Whaddya Know?!

So, they get married, the indian affairs officer finds out about the children that she still has in her care. (they were supposed to be sent to new schools.) He comes on Christmas day and threatens to take the children except that Lincoln who also happens to be a lawyer (How convenient) has been drawing up papers to adopt the 2 indian children who don't have any family and has made arrangements to send the brother and sister who do have family back in the Dakotas, back to their family.

Yay! Then he decides that he does in fact love Juliana, and She fesses up to loving him....Woo Hoo!


Stuck with You

by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Rated 4 stars

Cabin/Road romance for ROR Winter Reading Challenge

Back Cover:

He wasn't about to be hog-tied. Wyatt Logan, champion bull rider, isn't ready to settle down. But from the moment he spots Charity Webster's cute little behind stuck in his Aunt Nora's doggy door, he knows he's going to end up eating dust.

Then came the snow....And Wyatt kisses his single life goodbye. Trapped by the storm, Wyatt and Charity have to keep warm somehow. And there's alot to be said for body heat. Not even the comical antics of Nora's maniacal neighbor disturb their idyllic love nest. But when the snow melts, Wyatt's dreams turn to slush. He's finally lost his heart to a woman who has no intention of committing.

My Thoughts:
This one was cute. It was quick and fun. I didn't think the neighbor was as fun as he was supposed to be. He felt more like a distraction really. Anyway, I liked the opposites attract theme. It was a light read. I read it in one afternoon.

Gentle Warrior

by Julie Garwood

Rated 4 stars.

Stand alone book. for ROR Winter Reading Challenge

Back Cover:

In feudal England, Elizabeth Montwright barely escaped the massacre that destroyed her family and exiled her from her ancestral castle. Bent on revenge she rode again through the fortress gates dressed as a peasant--to seek aid from Geoffrey Berkley, the powerful baron who had routed the murderers.

He heard her pleas, resisted her demands, and vowed to seduce his beautiful subject. Yet, as Elizabeth fought the warrior's caresses, love flamed for this gallant man who must soon champion her cause....and capture her spitited heart.

My Thoughts:

I'm a huge fan of Julie Garwood. I didn't Love this book as much as I have loved her others. This felt like #2 in a series, but it wasn't. There were some very minor disconnects for me. There were parts and dialogue that in other books were fun and quirky, but somehow didn't quite make it. It was good, and stuff, but just wasn't the same as her other books.

So someone has attacked her family estate. They've killed her family except for herself and her younger brother. Who happens to be the heir to the family title. Elizabeth and young Thomas are witness to the massacre and she suspects her uncle is behind it. Geoffrey Berkley is the Baron who comes to the rescue. He is wounded after saving young Thomas, and Elizabeth disguised as a peasant comes to his aid. She finds a wound that is hidden and spends days tending to the unconscious hero.

We have to figure out who is really behind the attacks. We have to learn to trust one another. We also have to compromise. We do all those things.

Though I didn't LOVE this book, it was a good solid read. It was also quick. I rate it 4 stars.


Chesapeake Blue

by Nora Roberts (#4 in the Quinn Series)

Title with a Color (for ROR Winter Reading Challenge)

Rate 4.5 stars

Back Cover:

Seth Quinn is finally home!

After a harrowing boyhood with a drug-addicted mother, he'd been taken in by the Quinn family, growing up with three older brothers who'd watched over him with love.

Now a grown man returning from Europe a successful painter, settling down in Marylands eastern shore surrounded again by Cam, Ethan and Phillip, their wives and children, all the blessed chaos of the extended Quinn clan. Finally, he's back in the little blue and white house, where there is always a boat on the dock, a rocker on the porch and a dog in the yard.

Still alot has changed around St. Chris while he's been gone and the most intriguing one is the presence of Drusilla Whitcomb Banks. A city girl who has opened a florist shop in this seaside town, she craves independance and the challenge of establishing herself without the influence of her wealthy connections. In Seth, she sees another kind of challange, a challenge she can't resist.

But storms are brewing that put their relationship to the test. Dru's past has made her sensitive to deception and slow to trust. And Seth's past has made him a target of blackmail-as a secret he has kept hidden for years threatens to explode, destroying his new life and his new love...

My Thoughts:

This is the final chapter in the Quinn Legacy, (although, this reader would love to continue to hear about those Quinn's,) Seth has made a name for himself in Europe as an artist, and his mother in continuing her blackmail. Money, plain and simple is what she wants from him. He is now somewhat of a celebrity (in the fine art circles). Drusilla (Dru) has left her wealthy and influential family back in DC to start a life on her own in St. Chris. After a painful betrayal by her fiance, Dru finds the family style community a fresh breath from the circles of DC. She does find it difficult to fit in, in this laid back community, but tries. Seth is instantly attracted and she to him. I mean, who wouldn't be, he's a Quinn people!!!!

I've read this several time (maybe 4) and each time is different. This time for some reason, I had a better connection with Dru. And--And for some reason I'd always pictured her as having medium blond hair, (not exactly fair, but not brown either...) As it turns out our Dru has very dark (almost black) hair cut in a short almost severe fashion. Quel Exotique!!!! And that really gave me a cool new point of view. I love it when that happens. After 3-4 readings, you start to skim to your favorite parts, but for some reason I really connected. So for me, this book gets better with age. Yay!!!


At Home in Stone Creek

by Linda Lael Miller

rated 4 stars

Reader's Choice Author L-Z

Back Cover:

Can the magic of Christmas give two college sweethearts a second chance? It's Christmastime and two of Ashley O'Ballivan's siblings are expecting children. No wonder she feels a bit left out. To make matters worse, Jack McCall--an old college flame--has booked a room at Ashley's Bed and Breakfast. When Ashley finds herself nursing Jack back to health after he falls ill, it would seem love was in the air again. In fact, Jack is furious with himself for compromising her safety. unbeknownst to Ashley, Jack makes his living doing high-tech global security work, which means he has more than his share of enemies. After a picture-perfect Christmas, Jack disappears, and Ashley assumes he's gone for good. Could anything make him return?

My Thoughts:

This is Ashley's story. She is the younger sister of Brad (book 1-ish though of the series) and Olivia (book 2). Melissa is Ashley's twin, although she doesn't play a particularly heavy role in this story, but her story is set up for the next book. Aaanyway, she runs the B&B in Stone Creek. Her on again/off again love affair with Jack McCall is the center for this book. They met in college and both fell madly in love, but his career is in "security" (wink wink, which means mercenary). So, to keep the love of his life, safe he must keep a distance from her, (rolls eyes). Now, he has come to her B&B in Stone Creek to recuperate from a mystery illnes, (he was injected with some sort of exotic toxin by an Argentinian Drug Lord, I know! Happened to me last week, very inconvenient!) In his weakened and fevered state, he only wants to be near Ashley. (awww!) She is not exactly jazzed about that, since 6 months ago he visited and they "rekindled" their romance only to have him leave one day while she slept. No word, no note, just disappeared. Mmmm Hmmm!! So, Will she nurse him back to health? Will he learn to "Love em and Stay"? Will they survive the dangerous Argentinian Drug Lord? Will they live Happily Ever After? "Tune in next week to find the answers to these questions and hear the climactic conclusion to....At Home in Stone Creek".....Just Kidding! Yes! Yes! Yes! and Yes!

Now this story had some of my least favorite cliches, but I found there were moments of emotion that were very touching. Jack's family was told that he's died in the Gulf War 18 years ago, so he is forbidden to have any contact with them,for their safety. However, we see him "stalking" the website of his father's dentist practice. He "googles" his mom and finds out that she passed several years back due to Breast Cancer. His younger brother, is a dentist with Dad, and the youngest is in school to become an Opthamologist.(rebel) So, to see that even though he is the tough guy, he hurts knowing what he's missed, although has no (NO) desire to go to dental school. (Whew! not typical hero stuff) Ashley is the Martha Stewart "Clone" member of the family, so everyone sees her as fragile. They take matters into their own hands, and confront Jack. Go Away, and Never Come Back, basically covers the conversation. Ashley is not happy about their interferance and finally decides to follow her heart. So we see, Jack and Ashley both grow a little.

Yes, this was not my favorite of the series, but it was a good, solid read. It was quick and nice and gave me the warm fuzzies that I expect from LLM. (that's what her friends call her, Linda Lael Miller) I recommend this book, it was perfect for a cozy afternoon by the fire.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

On the Way to the Wedding

byJulia Quinn

Last in the Bridgerton Series::::sniff sniff::::

Rated 5 stars

Title with a W word.

Back Cover:

A funny thing happened...

Unlike most men of his acquaintance, Gregory Bridgerton believes in true love. And he is convinced that when he finds the woman of his dreams, he will know in an instant that she is the one. And that is exactly what happened.

Except, she wasn't the one. In fact, the ravishing Hermione Watson is in love with another. But her best friend, the ever practical Lady Lucinda Abernathy, wants to save Hermione from a disastrous alliance, so she offers to help Gregory win her over. But in the process, Lucy falls in love. With Gregory!!!

Except...Lucy is engaged. And her uncle is not inclined to let her back out of the betrothal, even once Gregory comes to his senses and realizes that it is Lucy, with her sharp wit and sunny smile, who makes his heart sing. And now, on the way to the wedding, Gregory must risk everything to ensure that when it comes time to kiss the bride, he is the only man standing at the alter.

My Thoughts:

I was so hesitant to start this book. I have loved just about every book from this series. (Francesca's story When He Was Wicked being the only acception, since I just liked it.) So, I was sad to see it come to an end, and was therefore hesitant. You can surely understand my dilemma. We'd met Gregory briefly, very briefly in some of the other books, but by no means were those meeting enough for me to become invested in his character. (which was the reason I only liked Francesca's story, I'd not really even met her before.) Anyway, so I was kinda, uh....not sure. But, I have an illness that requires I finish a series once I start it. Even if I don't really like the series. So, I grab the book and settle in for what I was dreading would be a mediocre read. So, our hero meets the ravishing Hermione and her trusty sidekick Lucy at a house party being thrown by his brother Anthony and Kate his lovely wife. Gregory is immediately smitten with Hermione, who is the most beautiful woman of the season. Lucy, however is the lovely (although who really notices around Hermione.) lady with an actual personality and a brain, and a sense of humor.

Lucy is however, engaged to another, who Gregory happens to know from school. This engagement is arranged by her uncle as a final payout to the intendeds uncle who has been blackmailing the uncle for years. As it turns out the intended is well, not that interested in Lucy. In reality Gregory knows that he will never be interested in Lucy or any other Lady for that matter. (if ya know what I mean.)

Lucy falls for Gregory. Gregory falls for Lucy. Her uncle won't let her out of the betrothal. So she thinking that it is the right thing to do, to marry him anyway, goes thru with the wedding even though her heart belongs to Gregory. Gregory, figures out what she is about to do and runs across town to stop the wedding. He rushes into the church just in time to say," Don't!!" Don't marry him, marry me. I love you!! She says....

No spoilers here!!! You'll just have to read it to find out how it ends.

But I will say, that I fell for Gregory too. He is totally awesome, and such a romantic. I just wanna grab him and squeeze him and hold him tight. I give it 5 stars. Awesome!!!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

It's in His Kiss

by Juila Quinn

#7 in the Bridgerton Series

#3 in the Readers of Romance Winter 09 Challenge

Back Cover:

Meet Our Hero ... Gareth St. Clair is in a bind.

His father, who detests him, is determined to beggar the St. Clair estates and ruin his inheritance. Gareth's sole bequest is an old family diary, which may or may not contain the secrets of his past .. and the key to his future. The problem is -- it's written in Italian, of which Gareth speaks not a word.

Meet Our Heroine ... All the ton agreed: there was no one quite like Hyacinth Bridgerton.

She's fiendishly smart, devilishly outspoken, and according to Gareth, probably best in small doses. But there's something about her -- something charming and vexing -- that grabs him and won't quite let go ...

Meet Poor Mr. Mozart ... Or don't.

But rest assured, he's spinning in his grave when Gareth and Hyacinth cross paths at the annual -- and annually discordant -- Smythe-Smith musicale. To Hyacinth, Gareth's every word seems a dare, and she offers to translate his diary, even though her Italian is slightly less than perfect. But as they delve into the mysterious text, they discover that the answers they seek lie not in the diary, but in each other ... and that there is nothing as simple -- or as complicated -- as a single, perfect kiss.

My Thoughts:

I thought Gareth to be true to human emotions. I like that he still feels a strong physical and emotional response to his boar of a father even though he doesn't want to. I like that he is self aware enough to want to be different and grown up. Somehow he can't. I love that even though he is a notorious rake and seems to take nothing seriously, he is fiercely devoted to his grandmother Lady Danbury. ( who I personally fell in love with in Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. Penelope's story.)

Hyacinth is a great heroine too. She is smart and diabolical (according to her brother Gregory). She doesn't realize that she sometimes comes across off-putting and is troubled by that when she becomes aware. She has a soft heart even though she doesn't know it. She agrees to help Gareth translate his grandmothers diary and the fun ensues. They fall for each other eventually without the help of his grandmother and her mother who both want the match very much.

Upon first finishing the book, I thought maybe it's a 4. But after perculating on it a little. I keep remembering scenes that I really liked. I keep smiling. So, I don't think it was a 5 for me, like An Offer From a Gentleman, and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton and The Viscount Who Loved Me. but it has upgraded to a 4.5.

There is only one more in the series and I'm starting it, but am hesitant. I kinda don't want them to be over. (sad face) I guess all good things must come to an end. All right Gregory, you're up. I am a little disappointed that there are no more Pall Mall/shooting scenes etc. Those were some very fun things.


Noble Intentions and The Trouble With Harry

by Katie MacAlister
#1 and #3 in the Noble Trilogy.

(Noble Destiny reviewed earlier was #2.)

Back cover for Noble Intentions:


Noble Britton had suffered greatly at the hands of his first wife, and he refused to fall into the same trap again. This time he intended to marry a quiet, biddable woman who would not draw attention to herself or cause scandal. Gillian Leigh's honest manner and spontaneous laughter attracted him immediately. It mattered little that she was accident-prone; he could provide the structure necessary to guide her. But unconventional to the tips of her half-American toes--toes that one of them was constantly tripping over--his new bride turned the tables on him, wreaking havoc on his orderly life. And worse, demanding he surrender his heart. Perpetually one step behind his beguiling spouse, Noble suffered a banged up head, a black eye, and a broken nose before he realized Gillian had healed his soul and proved that their union was no heedless tumble, but the swoon of true love

My Thoughts:

I liked Gillian best of all the "Noble" women. I thought she was fresh and fun and forthright. (didn't originally plan that little alliteration, but just got lucky.) I thought Noble, was a great hero. A bit stodgy without having a stick up his.......well you know. And he was Hot! Then the way he loves Nick. Even though he didn't "have to". Some of the banter reminded me of some of my favorite romantic comedies. I especially like the scene where Nick is trying to get his father's attention. "Papa, Mama blah blah blah" (can't remember the exact dialogue as I've read 3 books since then) Noble is like, "Not Now Nick!" and back and forth it goes, until Noble finally realizes that Nick has spoken. For the first time since his very early childhood. (something like 5 years) Then it's a lightning bolt. Awesome! Emotional without being heavy. Fun without being frivolous.

Back Cover for The Trouble with Harry:

The third book in the loosely connected Noble series, The Trouble With Harry tells the tale of Frederica "Plum" Pelham, a woman with a past, and Harry, Marquis Ross--a man who has a few secrets of his own.Although Plum thinks Harry is the answer to all her problems, she quickly finds out that he's not quite as perfect as she thought...there's the matter of his five hellion children, his refusal to let her hide from prying eyes, and oh yes, the man from his past who's trying to kill them all. Not to mention the first husband she thought was dead...

My Thoughts:

It seemed too quick for me in the beginning. A little (sounds so 16 years old. but that's the way it felt.) Anyway, I felt like there was too much of the standard, "I think he means this, but he really means that" (not my favorite plot devise). Anyway, things really got better when they moved to town. I think Thom is a gem and honestly I'd love a novella of her story with Nick (the son from Noble Intentions). Anyway, the climax was good, and the children grew on me, but were really not that endearing. Then the secrets (that I won't divulge her) were....ok.

Overall they were probably a 4 star and a 3.5 star reads for me.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Marie T's Cheesy Cover

Marie T's Cheesy Cover for the W09 Reading Challenge.