Monthly Reads: December 2009

Posted on January 21, 2010

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So many books will be coming out in the next two weeks. At last checked, there are six that I’m drooling for between next week and the first week in February. They are:

1) The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie (reissue)

2) The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

3) Butterfly Tattoo by Deidre Knight (paperback release)

4) Slow Heat by Jill Shalvis

5) Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh

6) In the Warriors Bed by Mary Wine

What books are you looking forward to in the next month?

I’m hoping these six books will rev up my reading interest again. I’ve read 3 books since the New Year and, so far, none of the books in my TBR pile is grabbing my interest. This makes me so sad because the pile isn’t getting any smaller and the longer I stay away from the books, the less chance of me reading them!

So let’s talk about last month’s reads. I can’t believe I only read 10 books in the month of December. I can’t recall how my schedule deviated from the norm that I couldn’t fit in more time to read. Therefore, I blame it on the holidays – it must’ve been the shopping, cooking, and catching up on my sleep that occupied time I should’ve spent reading! Lol.

1) The Wallflower: A Hunting Love by Dana Marie Bell, C-

A Hunting Love by Dana Marie Bell was a free read on the Amazon Kindle. I looked forward to reading this story because I love friends to lover stories. However, this was a short story with a good premise that wasn’t quite developed. Emma Carter secretly loved Max Cannon for years but felt she wasn’t attractive enough for an alpha like Max. Fast forward several years, Max heard Emma’s voice over the phone and felt instant attraction. This was a very short novel so the romance was rushed and I thought some of the scenes were a bit dramatic. I like Ms. Bell writing voice so I will give her other books a try. Has anyone read Dare to Believe, another friends to lover story which I’ve had my eye on for awhile now?

2) Waking the Dead by Kylie Brant, C-

The third book in the Mindhunter series, Waking the Dead was the book I had previously mentioned that wowed me in a bad way. Caitlin Fleming is a forensic anthropologist called in to investigate seven sets of skeletal bones discovered in a cave. Zach Sharper is the person who discovered the bones, and both are forced to work together because Cait needed a guide to help her navigate the forest back to the site of the remains.

I enjoyed nine-tenths of the book. It wasn’t until the last 20 pages or so that my enjoyment took a 360 degrees dive. There was a lot of scientific talk between Cait and her assistant that I didn’t understand but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. Cait and Zach had a lot of chemistry between them and for a little while when Zach fit the profile of the murderer, there was also a lot of tension between the two. I liked that Cait remained a professional, separating her work from her personal life and not revealing the details of the case to Zach even after they were together.

I would have graded this book higher if I didn’t feel like I was cheated out of the ending. I was enjoying following Cait work her way through the clues and narrow down the suspects and then boom the murderer was revealed suddenly and easily. I literally jumped out of my seat and yelled, “What the heck, that’s it?!” when Cait came upon the murderer. From thereon, the story fell flat for me and I had to force myself to finish reading to the end. My reaction to the ending was so strong that my first reaction was to give the book a D grading but that wouldn’t be fair since I did enjoy most of the book. However,  since Romantic Suspense is my favorite genre I can’t give this book a better grading because my total enjoyment of the story was defeated by the anticlimactic scene and the motives of the villain.

This is the second book I read by Kylie Brant. I enjoyed reading the first book by her, Waking Nightmare, in its entirety so I will keep an eye on her future releases.

3) The Price of Pleasure by Kresley Cole, B-

Victoria Dearbourne was 13 years old when she lost both her parents during a shipwreck that left her and her governess on a deserted island for years before they were rescued. Grant Sutherland was commissioned by Tori’s grandfather to locate Tori and in return he would get the Dearbourne’s estate.

This was a very sweet story. Tori grew up to be an admirable young woman despite growing up in the wilderness. To Grant who is rigid and likes to be in control of his emotions, Tori drives his control to shambles with her open and honest attraction to him.

The attraction between Tori and Grant was fascinating to follow because we have Grant who only wanted control and predictability in his life while Tori lives life to fullest and unconcerned about the confines of society.

The conflict that kept Grant and Tori apart dragged for a bit but I liked how Grant came back strong and determined to win back Tori’s love. I didn’t liked how the bad guys who cheated Tori’s grandfather were punished for their crimes merely by paying back all the money cheated. I also didn’t like how the disappearance of Ian, Grant’s cousin, left me with the impression that there was more to his story but as far as I could tell, there’s no book on Ian.

4) Lead Me On by Victoria Dahl, B+

Jane Morgan isn’t who she says she is. She changed her name and her attitude and became a conservative, professional young woman who only dates men with white-collar jobs because she didn’t like her younger, promiscuous self. As a demolition expert who owns his own business, William Chase is a blue-collar guy who wears his tattoos as arrogantly as his confidence. Chase is everything Jane secretly loves in a man but avoids in her improved, safer life.

Jane flat out annoys me. Her younger days of partying and sleeping around were crazy and dangerous so I empathize with her desire to turn her life around for the better. What I didn’t understand and dislike was the way she judged, disrespected, and looked down on Chase. I continued my reading only because Chase was such an awesome guy – caring, loving, smart, funny, persistent, kind, patient, and yes, hot, too. Chase was such a perfect guy yet Jane was ashamed to be with him openly, using him for sex. Fortunately, Chase had all kinds of patience and wore Jane down with his adorable, irresistible self.

The humor, romance, and the fun dialogues between Chase and Jane really balanced out my exasperation with Jane’s snobby self. This was a delightful romance. Jane coming to terms with herself was a great relief because I didn’t want a man such as Chase – who’s so open and honest with his love for Jane – to be with a woman who had become so prejudiced and snooty.

5) Love at First Flight by Marie Force, A-

Review forthcoming here.

6) Home for the Holidays by Sarah Mayberry, B+

Not at all a holiday story but the story was centered on families. Joe Lawson and Hannah Napier became neighbors when Joe and his two children relocated to a new neighborhood to be closer to their grandmother. Joe and Hannah did not click during their first several meetings but once they passed the animosity stage, their attraction flared in ways that scared them both. Joe, who is widowed, was nervous because he was bringing two children to the relationship while Hannah was still reeling from a broken relationship in which her sister and her fiancé got together. When Joe and Hannah are prepared to risk their hearts, Hannah is hit with a bombshell that rocked not just her life but the lives of three people she’s grown to love.

A really lovely story involving families and forgiveness and two people learning to hope, trust, and love again.

7) The Best Is Yet to Come by Diana Palmer, C

Ivy McKenzie ran away from Ryder Calaway, the man she’s always loved, to marry another man because she assumed that he didn’t reciprocate her feelings. The misunderstanding that drove the couple apart is a common plot device by Diana Palmer. But Ryder’s plan to win Ivy back after she was widowed is a deviation from Ms. Palmer’s past heroes who were mean, cold-hearted, and played hard-to-get.

8) The Villa by Nora Roberts, B+

Review here.

9) I Can See You by Karen Rose, A-

Twice attacked before, Evie Wilson has experienced violence more times than anyone should be able to survive. Surgery has repaired Eve’s physical scars but the emotional ones remain ever present.

Noah Webster is a recovering alcoholic who lost his wife and child during an auto accident. Difficult as it is for him to visit a bar, he visits the bar Eve works at just to watch her from afar. After a year of silently watching each other, Noah and Eve finally gets together after Eve appeared at the scene of a crime not once but twice and ends up assisting the police investigation as a CI (Confidential Informant).

The romance was a long time coming for both Noah and Eve who were both afraid to take that step toward happiness. As usual, there are many twists and turns to the suspense. There is also a stalking reporter in this story but there’s a slight twist to his stalking. The villain is a deranged psychopath who seeks others’ vulnerable spots and uses their fears against them.

I Can See You is a re-read. I previously graded this book an A-. I’m glad to say that my enjoyment of the book did not change any and the grading has remained the same.

10) Hunter’s Need by Shiloh Walker, B+

I’ve always been a fan of Shiloh Walker but this was the first Hunter book I read. I really enjoyed it. Analise Morell is a woman who does whatever it takes to save her brother, even luring men to be killed by an evil vampire. The last man she lures was Duke Lawson who was tortured and nearly killed before he was saved. Duke was one of the elite Hunters, a group of people with extraordinary powers who uses their powers to save others. Even knowing that luring Duke to be tortured would install hatred and wrath upon her Ana did it anyway for her brother’s safety.

The aftermath of Ana’s treachery stayed with her the most as she suffered endless guilt for the suffering Duke endured. Despite what Ana did to him, Duke still felt attracted to her and he had to come to terms with his feelings. This is a unique story of a woman learning and needing to forgive herself even after she has been forgiven by the man she betrayed. Their relationship did not build for years after Ana’s betrayal and for this reason I find their relationship more believable and engaging.

The angry ghost seeking vengeance for her murder and the murders of other women was quite chilling but, still, the mystery of the murders took a backburner to my interest in Duke and Ana’s relationship. This was my first Hunter book and it won’t be my last. Shiloh Walker rocks my reading like always.

[ Note: All gradings are based on my enjoyment — or lack thereof — and mood at the time of reading. ]

ETA:  Grading for The Villa – I forgot to include it earlier. Oops. 🙂

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