Thursday, July 20, 2017

DNF Rambling: The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction

by N.M. Silber
Book 1 of Lawyers in Love

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  DNF'd at 26% || No Rating

Once upon a time two lawyers fell in love across a courtroom...

Gabrielle Ginsberg was a public defender with plenty of nerve, and Braden Pierce was an assistant district attorney with a whole lot of swagger.  Gabrielle wanted Braden and Braden wanted Gabrielle.

And Cameron wanted Gabrielle.
And Marla wanted Braden.
And Cole wanted Gabrielle.
And Mrs. Mason wanted Braden.

And an anonymous letter writer wanted to keep Gabrielle and Braden apart.

Together Gabrielle and Braden discovered many important things, like which doors at the courthouse actually locked, and that desks could be useful for more than writing.  They also found out that the path of love was not always smooth, and it was sometimes tread upon by some really wacky people, like a confused fanny grabber, an eighty-two year old pothead, and a gentleman who threw a wine and cheese party in his pants.  Could true love overcome a lack of privacy, interference by jealous rivals, and the insanity of the criminal court system?


I really tried to make myself finish this book.  It's only 242 pages, a fairly bite-sized novel, which would have only taken me approximately 4 to 5 hours to complete.  Except that that would have been about 4 to 5 hours too long, and 200 pages too many.  I might have sighed and rolled my eyes a few times before finally throwing in the towel after giving the book another hour of reading time and still finding myself frustrated.  And to be totally honest, I have several other books I'm more interested in reading to waste anymore time on this one.

This book was just ridiculously tedious, boring, and overly juvenile.  For a bunch of up and coming, hotshot lawyers in their mid-to-late twenties, our main couple and their friends all behaved like a squealy gaggle of teenagers.  The squealy kind who sit around gushing about the new girlfriend or the new boyfriend.  I'm not trying to stereotype or anything, but to be totally honest, grown men don't talk to each other the way Braden, Mark, and Adam do; and neither do grown women, if we really want to be honest with ourselves.

When in the universe of ever has one bro commented to another bro, that third bro's new relationship of two days is "strangely adorable"?

And then, whenever Gabrielle talked about Braden, I kept picturing that one girl in high school who got all excited because her crush happened to walk by and say "hi" to her, or picked up her pencil and handed it back to her with a dimply smile.  She got so super gushy about the fact that she flirted with Braden... and "OMG!" he flirted back!

Maybe I'm just irritated, but this book just didn't do it for me, and pulling the DNF trigger will probably save it from getting a one star review in the long run.

I'll admit that the first chapter was pretty cute, with the silly court cases and Gabrielle's strange defensive arguments.  But after that, the book just started rolling downhill.  I just couldn't make myself continue on.  I couldn't get past the squealiness of it all.  And while this might seem a bit over-extreme, I couldn't get past Gabrielle's use of the word 'tummy,' three times within one chapter, to describe her state of nervousness around Braden.

And even if I could have gotten past the squealiness, I'm not sure I could have unburied myself from all the details.  All the painstakingly, unnecessary details of every part of a first date conversation that sounded awfully similar to a character biography description.  All the tedious, overly wordy details about every action and every back story and every little step of Gabrielle's day.  All the extra, tangential details to describe the very mundane, banal evening of a date and a subsequent group get together, none of which was even remotely interesting.

Then there was the boob scene.  The boob scene?!  I swear, I might have seen that scene in a high school flick or something, it was so juvenile.  "Could you just show me your boobies before the guys get here?  Please?  And let me touch them?"  Well, he didn't actually say those words in the book, but he might have done so in my head with the way the scene was written.

Anyway...

Maybe this book is just not my cuppa, and maybe I'm just a bit far removed from my mid-to-late twenties.  Except... that I have read books about characters in their mid-to-late twenties, and they don't act like this.  In fact, I've read books about teenagers who don't act like this.

Finally, the book tries really hard to be witty and cute.  It's not really, but points for effort, I guess.

Maybe this book gets better.  Maybe it gets worse.  Some other reviews I happened to skim mentions that the second half loses appeal.  I'm not sticking around to find out.  I've got other books I'd rather be reading.

My first DNF of the year 2017.  I don't like to DNF, but sometimes it just has to happen.


***

Free Friday #5:

Page Count:  DNF'd at 26% (approx. 63 pages)
Cash Award:  +$2.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $221.00


Thoughts: Northern Lights

Northern Lights

by Nora Roberts

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.5 Stars

Lunacy, Alaska--population 506--a colorful, compelling novel about two lonely souls who find love--and redemption.

Lunacy is Nate Burke's last chance.  As a Baltimore cop, he watched his partner die--and the guilt still haunts him.  Maybe serving as chief of police in this tiny, remote town, where darkness falls by midafternoon and temperatures plunge to zero and below, will bring some kind of solace.  It isn't as if he had anywhere else to go.

Aside from sorting out a run-in between a couple of motor vehicles and a moose--and pulling apart two brothers who are beating each other silly over a disagreement about John Wayne--Nate's first weeks on the job are relatively quiet.  But as he wonders whether this was all a big mistake, an unexpected kiss on New Year's Eve under the brilliant northern lights of the Alaska sky lifts his spirit--and convinces him to stay just a little longer.

Meg Galloway, born and raised here, is used to being alone.  She was still a young girl when her father disappeared, and she's learned to be independent, flying her small plane, living on the outskirts with just her huskies for company.  But after her New Year's kiss with the chief of police, she allows herself to give in to passion.  She doesn't want commitment--yet there's something about Nate's sad eyes that gets under her skin, and warms her frozen heart.

And now, things in Lunacy are heating up.  Because years ago, on one of the majestic mountains that shadow the town, a crime occurred that is unsolved to this day--and Nate suspects that a killer still walks the snowy streets.  His investigation will bring out the secrets and suspicions that lurk beneath the placid suface--as well as the big-city survival instincts that made him a cop in the first place.  And it will threaten the new life, and the new love, that he has finally found for himself.


Even though it took about 30% for the main conflict and excitement to begin, this book was actually a lot of fun.  On a side note, I have a thing for wintry settings, especially those with a possible crime thriller plot.  And admittedly, despite the rather banal, everyday happenings of our newest Lunacy Chief of Police, I really, really enjoyed Northern Lights.

True to form, there were still a lot of things about this book that didn't work for me, but oddly enough, the little snippets of journal, the two or three "Police Log" entries in the town's only newpaper, and even some of the really subtle, but much appreciated humor made this book shine amidst all the crazy.  Lunacy, Alaska is very aptly named, and all the strange hijinks of the small town people made this extremely long book very worthwhile.

I also found the spin on the name 'Lunacy' for different aspects of the town kind of endearing.  The residents refer to themselves as 'Lunatics,' the newspaper is named 'The Lunatic,' and so on.

I would have liked for the crime thriller portion of the book to be a bit more exciting, if I were to be totally honest.  And I would have liked for Meg to be a bit less bitchy, and for Nate to be a bit less neanderthal.  But all-in-all, between the atmosphere and all the unique, colorful characters, I found myself quite immersed in the day-to-day goings on of the Lunatics, especially as seen from a fresh set of eyes, a man from the Lower 48, who finds everything amusing, strange, and kind of 'Twilight Zone' to boot.

The murder mystery that finally got presented at the 30% mark was quite twisty-turny, and I found myself analyzing each and every possible suspect alongside Nate.  It was actually quite unpredictable, but at the same time, not so surprising when the main culprit was finally revealed.  The ending, on the other hand, was a little too daintily packaged, but there's a Happily Ever After, and the rest of the book was entertaining enough, so I'm not really complaining too much.

On a side note, I've yet to encounter a Nora Roberts romance that I've actually liked.  I have a bone to pick with almost every one of them--with most of the Nora Roberts heroes being incredibly pushy and acting like cavemen; or the heroines being more bitchy and stupidly stubborn than I would like.

However, in truth, if I were to choose one Roberts hero who comes close to being a favorite, though, I might choose Nate Burke.  He's got a tragic history, a broody persona, but all-in-all he's quite down-to-earth, and takes steps to help himself climb back out of his own black hole.  I love his spunk and how well he handles the irrational actions and behavior of the people of Lunacy, especially when they look for reasons to hate him for being an Outsider appointed as their Chief of Police.

The one thing I DON'T like his is penchant for shoving Meg behind him when everyone and their mothers know that she can take care of herself just fine.  Granted, she's got a reckless streak about her, and she might be bitchy and stubborn as heck, but I found it a little insulting that, when faced with a wilderness of danger, his first instinct was to tell Meg to hide.  Yes, maybe in a less politically correct world, this might seem heroic and swoon-worthy.  But being that Meg has had much more experience living in the outskirts of Lunacy, Alaska, facing down tough flights, harsh winters, and wandering wildlife, you'd think he'd trust her instincts more than his own need to protect.

Anyway, before I jump on top of another soapbox, I should probably just bring this piece to a close.

Northern Lights was pretty entertaining, and no one is more surprised than I am to find how much I enjoyed reading a Romantic Suspense that felt more like a banal Contemporary Romance.  It wouldn't be the first time, and probably won't be the last.  But this time, I'm pleasantly surprised to admit that I hadn't even worried that the 'suspense' part of this Romantic Suspense felt a little unbalanced.

Nora Roberts, you've done it again.  Another conflicting feel to another well written novel.


***

Booklikes-opoly
Roll #29:
Author was born pre-1955.

Page Count:  562
Cash Award:  +$15.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $210.00


Booklikes-opoly | Roll #30! and Free Friday #6!

Booklikes-opoly
Booklikes, the book blogging social platform


Seems like I was still in a Nora Roberts mood.  For Roll #29, I managed to roll one set of doubles and ended up with two books.


The first square I landed on was Main Street 11, where I chose to read a book written by an author born prior to 1955, Northern Lights by Nora Roberts.  The book was a whopping 562 pages, hard cover, so felt like a monster of a tome to finish--took me a few days, even.  Because I'd landed on this square once already since the Big Game Shake Up, I earned $15.00 for completing this book and task.


The next square I landed on was New Orleans Square 21.  I had decided to read Burning Lamp by Amanda Quick, a book that takes place in England, which counts as an island.  Once again, this is a square I've landed on before after the Big Game Shake Up came into effect.  Being 328 pages, I earned $9.00 for completing this book.

Reviews for both books will be coming soon.


Meanwhile, I'm still reading my Free Friday #5, The Law of Attraction by N.M. Silber, a short contemporary romance... that just seems to be taking some time because I'm not really that interested in this book.  In fact, the beginning felt so annoyingly tacky and juvenile that I had to remind myself that this book is in the New Adult target.  And to be honest, I've read few New Adult books and have enjoyed even fewer.

It's cute, but I can't help myself comparing it to Julie James, which is probably not a good idea.

I'm hoping to at least finish this book before Friday rolls around so I can pick up my next Free Friday read.  If not by Thursday, hopefully I'll finish it early enough on Friday that I can start in on my next Free Friday book (more on that later)


Roll #30:


I rolled a 7 and landed on Free Parking, which states:  "Roll the dice.  Odd number sends you to the waterworks, even number sends you to the electric company, doubles sends you to the luxury tax."


... Monkey?

Well, anyway...


... so I rolled once more, getting a 6, which takes me to Electric Company:  "Read a book where a main character is in STEM, or where the author's first and last name contain all of the letters in 'Tesla'."


Oh.  There you are, Monkey?  Dramatic much?  And Penni, you're kind of blocking my Teddy Bear game piece... but, "Hi!"

I think this is the first time ever that I've landed on this game space since the BLopoly started.  It's the first time I've landed on Free Parking as well--each time I've come across either Water Works or Luxury tax was because an actual counted roll move landed me there.

But anyway, since I've never landed on Electric Company before, pre-Big Game Shake Up or otherwise, no location multiplier will be applied.


Anyway...

I had wanted to read a book from my COYER list, but none of them fit, so I decided that I just needed to find something else altogether.  In truth, the only book on my entire COYER list that did fit was The Manhattan Encounter, but I already read it--had a character who was a scientist.

But anyway, I'd be lying if I said I had looked really hard to find a book.  Upon landing on this game space, the first book I thought of was The Pretender by Celeste Bradley--as we can see, this author's name fits the 'Tesla' criteria in that we can find all the letters of 'Tesla' in our author's first and last name.

And, honestly, I didn't really look that hard for another book to fit the other part of this game space, a character in STEM.  Because I think I already made my decision when I first put together a list of possible books to read for this game space.

So guess what I'll be reading?


The Pretender by Celeste Bradley is the first book in the Liar's Club series.  I'm loathe to begin another new series when I have so many others to finish... but whatever, I'm game; and super excited, because I've been so interested in this series since I first stumbled onto it that I'm actually kind of glad for an excuse to read it.

After a year of Courtney Milan, Tessa Dare, and Amanda Quick, hopefully this is another great, but the critics seem kind of conflicted.

The Pretender is 455 pages (Scribd e-book version), and since I have never landed on this square before, there are no location multipliers in play.  This book will be worth $10.00 upon completion.

The Scribd version of The Pretender that I will be reading gives me a count of 455 pages, but no matter where I've been looking, either on BL or GR or Amazon, The Pretender gives a page count of either 384, 388, or 385.  Since some e-books may not be accurate, I decided to go with the page count number that comes up the most instead of the Scribd e-book version.  So I will be counting this book as 384 pages, for a $6.00 cash award, just to be fair about it.


Meanwhile, for the Free Friday Read #6:

I know, I know.  It's not Friday yet, and I still haven't finished my current Free Friday Read.  But The Law of Attraction is pretty bite-sized, and I have no doubt that I'll have it done, if not tonight (Thursday), then at least early on Friday morning.  Being so, I decided to just go ahead and pick my next Free Friday Read, since I'm too lazy to create a second BLopoly update for Friday.

And also because I already know what I want to read.


Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle (a.k.a. Jayne Ann Krentz) is the last book in the Dreamlight sub-trilogy of the Arcane Society/Harmony series.  Since I just finished up Burning Lamp, I'm jittery to move onto the next book so I can finish reading this trilogy, and was going to read it one way or another, whether or not it would end up counting for BLopoly.

Meanwhile, I'd been staring at the name Jayne Castle, thinking that it would have also fit the 'Tesla' game space criteria... but I didn't want to push my luck since Jayne Castle is really one of JAK's pen names, and I wasn't sure if it would count.  Upon further investigation (because I do things like that), I found that Castle is actually JAK's maiden name.

Nonetheless, I've made my decisions and I'm sticking to them.

Midnight Crystal is 371 pages, paperback version, which will be worth $6.00 upon completion (no location multipliers for Free Friday books).  I promise I won't start reading this book until I have finished The Law of Attraction.  And if, due to some strange reason, I don't even finish The Law of Attraction by tomorrow, I'll just shelve Midnight Crystal for another time.


Current Bank:   $219


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Thoughts: River's End

River's End

by Nora Roberts

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.5 Stars

Olivia's parents were among Hollywood's golden couples…until the night a monster came and took her mother away forever.  A monster with the face of her father...

Sheltered from the truth, an older Olivia only dimly recalls her night of terror—but her recurring nightmares make her realize she must piece together the real story.  Assisted by Noah Brady, the son of the police detective who found her cowering in her closet so many years before, she may have her chance.  Noah wants to reconstruct the night that has become an infamous part of Hollywood history.  He also wants to help Olivia and heal the longing in her lonely heart.  But once the door to her past is opened, there's no telling what's waiting on the other side.  For somewhere, not too far away, the monster walks again...


First of all, I'm going to have to admit that the first chapter of the book bowled me over and I nearly cried with grief for Olivia as a child--finding her mother dead, seeing her father standing over the body with a bloody pair of scissors in his hands, running scared and hiding, and then being told that her mother was never coming home again...  I'm usually not one to make much of these scenes, having read a lot of crime thrillers with all of their bloody violence and tragic gore, but that was definitely an unforgettable moment, probably made all the more powerful because it came from the POV of a child.

Unfortunately, I feel like the rest of the whole ordeal (the next few chapters) got drawn out a bit much and I was ready to move onto Olivia as an adult.  I don't need the rest of the family, or even the detective's or his son's observations to know that this was a great tragedy, that poor Olivia will be living this nightmare for the rest of her life.  I pretty much deduced all of that with her terrible ordeal of stumbling upon the murder of her mother.

That little bit would have been just enough, but the notion was repetitively brought up within the first couple of chapters.

A second insight brings me to Nora Roberts and her books, in general.  I'm not an expert on Roberts.  In fact, before last year, I'd never read anything written by her.  I started with her Dark Witch trilogy, and to be totally honest, didn't really like it.  But then I read The Witness, and found that the entire tone and style of how that book was presented was just different than what I had gotten out of the Dark Witch trilogy.  And I was completely intrigued with Roberts.  So I continued picking up more of her books.

Nora Roberts, I feel, is a master at atmosphere and tone.  Each book I've read of hers, so far, has had a different kind of feel, evokes a whole different set of images and thoughts.  And ultimately makes it a little hard for me to figure out just how to review.

River's End is written well.  Very well.

So well, that I even almost forgot about a few little scenes, dialogue, and characters who frustrated me.  So well that I forgave some characters their few foibles because I ultimately enjoyed the whole book.

Roberts has a way with characters that manages to bring them to earth even after instilling some greater than perfect qualities into them.  Even while Olivia has a perfect memory, or a badass, independent personality with super survival skills in the mountains, she still managed to exhibit some wishy-washy behavior, as well as some unnecessary snap judgments that frustrated the heck out of me.

Meanwhile, Noah seems like the wonderful Mom and Pop's boy, who has a golden heart, an empathy for others, and a personality in a man worth chasing after.  But then he gets super pushy when it comes to Olivia, and to be honest, there was nothing I disliked about Noah except for his super pushiness in the romance department.  Truth be told, I winced a lot when it came to their more intimate, sexual relationship.  Because there are certain parts of their romance, specifically the first sex scene between them, that just doesn't sit well with me.  And made Noah lose a whole lot of his appeal, because I can't determine whether or not his actions were even morally kosher.

Story wise, I'd love to be upfront and talk about why I had a feeling there was a lot more to Olivia's mother's murder than the narrative gave away.  But I'm worried that I'll end up giving away the ultimate twist in the story, as a whole.  The twists and the turns about the underlying conflict pertaining to Olivia's father, however, was handled extremely well, so much so that I even started doubting my own thought process.  And then when the resolution rolled around, I was conflicted about how I felt about everything--because I'm not certain about whether I read too many crime thrillers and have picked up on predictability, in spite of the unpredictability, or if my mind is just twisted in certain ways.

Either way, I should probably stop here so I don't risk giving too much away.

On a side note, I loved Noah's interaction with just about every other character, but Olivia.  This book isn't exactly rife with romance, but what little there was didn't quite appeal to me.  And while Olivia is a very ideal heroine, I found I had a hard time really caring about her despite the book being mainly about her, from childhood onward.  She got really frustrating, at times; in fact, both of them did when it came to their romance.  But Olivia, more so, because her stubbornness was just way too extreme.

River's End, while not the best book in the world, continues to show me that Nora Roberts is definitely an author I will keep an eye on.


***

Booklikes-opoly
Roll #28:
Book title can spell 'River' = 'RIVER's End'.

Page Count:  447
Cash Award:  +$10.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $195.00


Friday, July 14, 2017

Booklikes-opoly | Roll #29! and Free Friday #5!

Booklikes-opoly
Booklikes, the book blogging social platform


Roll #28 landed me on Frontierland 4, where I chose to read a book whose title has letters that can spell 'RIVER;' obviously, the easiest way to do this was just to find a book that had the word 'river' in it.  And I had a few options.  River's End by Nora Roberts is 447 pages, worth a $10.00 increase to my Bank, which is now up to $195!


I have conflicting feelings about River's End, much like I seem to have conflicting feelings about all the Nora Roberts books I've read so far.  I really enjoy them, they're written really well, and they can be addictive.  But there's always something about them that doesn't quite work for me, even as there are a lot of things about them that I DO really, really like.

A review will be posted soon.


In the meantime, I was also able to finish Ravished by Amanda Quick, my Free Friday Read for 7/7.  Ravished was 418 pages, equaling a $10.00 boost.  To see my review, click on the book title above.  Thanks!


Roll #29.1:


A double 4 roll gets me an 8, which moves me from Frontierland 4 to Main Street 11.  I have been here twice before, but the first time was before the Big Game Shake Up; the second time was after the Big Game Shake Up, for the Fourth of July Optional Challenge!


Monkey is still just chillin'.


Roll #29.2:


Because of rolling a set of doubles, I rolled once more and got an 11, which brought me to New Orleans Square 21.  And, well, well, I have also landed on this space previously, just a few rolls ago, and this is also after the Big Game Shake Up!


Back around the board, and around we go again!


Because I have landed on both spaces once before since the Big Game Shake Up, I will get to use the location multiplier for both.  Upon completing books for these two game spaces, I will be cashing in as follows:

Second finish:
0 to 100 pages: $3.00
101 to 200 pages: $6.00
201 to 400 pages: $9.00
401 to 800 pages: $15.00
over 801 pages: $30.00


For Main Street 11, I had contemplated reading another Nora Roberts book, one that I had checked out from the library on a whim, while I was there to pick up other books.  But after finishing River's End, I'm feeling like I need to give Nora Roberts a rest and read some other stuff for a while--some lighter fare, per se, and maybe books that aren't as lengthy.  I've got a few ideas on hand, one mainly the next book in the Arcane Society series, by Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)--another author born prior to 1955.


Northern Lights, in hardcover, is 567 pages, which, according to the location multiplier, will be worth $15.00 if I choose to read and finish.  Burning Lamp, also in hardcover, is 328 pages, which will be worth $9.00 if I choose it to read and finish.  Both authors were born pre-1955.


Meanwhile, for New Orleans Square 21, I've also got a few choices that I'm having a lot of trouble deciding between, and I guess it all kind of depends on which of the above two books I finally decide to read.  Because either way, I'll be reading Burning Lamp since it is also a book that takes place in England, which fulfills the "set on an island" part of the game space.


Heat Wave is an anthology that totals 320 pages.  Having the ocean on the cover makes it a candidate for this game space.  Being one of the books on my COYER Summer Reading List makes it an ideal choice to read.  It would be worth $9.00 with location multiplier.

Alias Smith and Jones by Kylie Brant is one of the books I'd considered briefly when I last landed on this game space.  The book summary, and some of the first few pages of the book talk about island hopping, so I assume that this book will be set on an island, if not multiple islands.  This book is 271 pages (Scribd e-book), which would be $9.00 with location multiplier in play.

A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare is the third book in the Spindle Cove series, of which I totally adored, having read the first two books and loving them.  I really DO want to finish this series, so this book would also be a choice.  Like Burning Lamp, this book takes place in England, which, according to some Q&A discussion, is considered an island.  A Lady by Midnight is 397 pages, worth $9.00 with the second finish location multiplier.


Free Friday #5:

Meanwhile, since today is Friday, we start another Free Friday book!  Yay!  In keeping with book challenges, I'm making myself choose a book from my COYER Summer Reading List.  And, TADA!  The book is also part of my Reading Assignment Challenge!


The Law of Attraction by N.M. Silber has been on my TBR, and my Kindle shelves forever!  It is the first book in the Lawyers in Love series, and set at 242 pages, worth $6.00 (no location multiplier at play for Free Friday reads).  I pretty much told myself that I would get to this book for Free Friday if I didn't land on a square that would allow me to read this book, so here we are.


So now we kick back and see what I decide to read.  I'm going to have to sleep on this decision... and there's a chance I'll just have to draw straws or something.


Current Bank:   $195


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Ravished

Ravished

by Amanda Quick

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

From the cozy confines of a tiny seaside village to the glittering crush of the a fashionable London soiree comes an enthralling tale of a thoroughly mismatched couple . . . poised to discover the rapture of love.

There was no doubt about it.  What Miss Harriet Pomeroy needed was a man.  Someone powerful and clever who could help her rout the unscrupulous thieves who were using her beloved caves to hide their loot.  But when Harriet summoned Gideon Westbrook, Viscount St. Justin, to her aid, she could not know that she was summoning the devil himself. . . .

Dubbed the Beast of Blackthorne Hall for his scarred face and lecherous past, Gideon was strong and fierce and notoriously menacing.  Yet Harriet could not find it in her heart to fear him.  For in his tawny gaze she sensed a savage pain she longed to soothe . . . and a searing passion she yearned to answer.  Now, caught up in the Beast’s clutches, Harriet must find a way to win his heart–and evade the deadly trap of a scheming villain who would see them parted for all time.


Really, the best part of this book was definitely Harriet!

While Harriet doesn't stray far from most of Amanda Quick's typical heroines, there's just something about her attitude about life, about her priorities... just her entire style is so, so great!  She's unconventional, like an Amanda Quick heroine, but she goes a step further by almost being an absentminded professor.  She's so obsessed with her fossils that something life altering could have happened, she reacts appropriately, but then gets distracted pretty easily with thoughts of fossils.

It's a little disconcerting, and while many might find a trait like this a bit annoying, I actually find it kind of amusing.

In comparison, Gideon, the Viscount St. Justin, is also the typical Amanda Quick broody male alpha.  He's a good man, but he's got all the broody alpha frustrating traits you can think of.  Of course, he's also misunderstood, and has endured a blemish on his reputation without anyone to stand by his side for the past six years.  It's no wonder he behaves the way he does at present, because, as Gideon explains, when no one will believe you, no matter how many times you try to explain yourself, you just give up and let people believe what they want to believe.

To be honest, while I didn't really like the way that Harriet and Gideon end up together intimately, the rest of their relationship is just lots of sweetness and fun.  I loved how Gideon would keep trying to intimidate Harriet, and she would just blow him off like an obstinate child; and the amusing thing was that he knew she wouldn't be cowed by his behavior, but he kept trying anything, probably to get her fired up or something.

The story of the Beast of Blackthorne Hall wasn't as much like the 'Beauty and the Beast' story as I had expected.  Instead, I loved the direction that this story went, because even despite not quite following in the fairy tale it is said to be a retelling of, it still holds an almost fairy tale like flow and ending.

Harriet is a wonderful and sweet person who never once strays from her belief in St. Justin's character.  And I love how she continuously defends his honor, constantly becoming outraged on his behalf whenever others try to make him look like the beast they think he is.  She has no restraint in her reactions.  She is so straight forward about herself, innocently responding without any qualms, without any underlying motives.

I loved when Gideon's mother asked her if she'd received any social polish after being in London for some time, and her response was a very unhesitant, "Well, no, not really."  Meanwhile, her thoughts kept straying back to fossils.

It was great being able to predict her responses, but then being pleasantly surprised when her thought process went in a different direction.

The main conflict of the story was pretty predictable, to be honest, which is not to say it took away any from my enjoyment.  In fact, I think I spent more time having fun with Gideon and Harriet's relationship and bickering dialogue.

Side characters were also fleshed out and very likable, though they didn't get as much book time as I would have liked.  Harriet's sister, Felicity, is lovely and fun; Aunt Effie was stern, but also amusing.  Mrs. Stone, what little we see of her, was frustratingly annoying, but comedic in a way.  I loved the introduction we get of Gideon's parents, not the arrogant upper crust stiffs I'd been expecting, but quite open, honest, and readily likable.

And even the young group of fossil organization members were cute.  The drunken kidnapping to Gretna Green was actually kind of fun.

All in all, Ravished is a wonderfully enjoyable book, with a few quibbles that I chose to ignore.  And as I'd stated already, Harriet is probably my favorite of the entire book!


***

Free Friday #4:

Page Count:  418
Cash Award:  $10.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $185.00


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Thoughts: Fired Up

Fired Up

by Jayne Ann Krentz
Book 7 of Arcane Society
-- Book 1 of Dreamlight Trilogy

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

More than three centuries ago, Nicholas Winters irrevocably altered his genetic makeup in an obsession-fueled competition with alchemist and Arcane Society founder Sylvester Jones.  Driven to control their psychic abilities, each man's decision has reverberated throughout the family line, rewarding some with powers beyond their wildest dreams, and cursing others to a life filled with madness and hallucinations.

Jack Winters, descendant of Nicholas, has been experiencing nightmares and blackouts--just the beginning, he believes, of the manifestation of the Winters family curse.  The legend says that he must find the Burning Lamp or risk turning into a monster.  But he can't do it alone; he needs the help of a woman with the gift to read the lamp's dreamlight.

Jack is convinced that private investigator Chloe Harper is that woman.  Her talents for finding objects and accessing dream energy are what will save him, but their sudden and powerful sexual pull threatens to overwhelm them both.  Danger surrounds them, and it doesn't take long for Chloe to pick up the trail of the missing lamp.  And as they draw closer to the lamp, the raw power that dwells within it threatens to sweep them into a hurricane of psychic force.


I'm starting to think I'm unable to dislike anything written by Jayne Ann Krentz.  It's probably safe to say I've had pretty high praise for all of her contemporary books I've read so far, even if I have little else to say.

True to form, a JAK book is exciting, lots of fun, steamy hot, and constantly forward moving.  And although her historical and futuristic counterparts (Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle), always seem to reuse the same romantic themes, the contemporary sets always feel different, despite the still quite formulaic set up.

Fired Up is a great start to the sub-trilogy that officially interconnects the three worlds JAK has built between Arcane Society and Harmony.  Set during the contemporary times, it also manages to build up the stage for the next book, Burning Lamp, that takes place in the Victorian era.  Krentz is always giving us more, and new, and constantly evolving aspects of her Arcane Society world, as well as her Harmony world, and I always look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

In previous books of both series, the concept of dream psi had been brought up, even if briefly, and so now it is explained in a center-stage sort of way.  While I hardly understand half the psychic explanations and discussions going on, the book moves forward so quickly that I just find myself enjoying the story as it progresses.

Meanwhile, Chloe and Jack are great characters, with a great sense of partnership that mirrors almost every other JAK couple I've read since I first discovered her books last year.  Nothing outstanding, really, but fun and sexy nonetheless.  Add onto that, the little author's note at the beginning of the book, and a few suggestive lines of dialogue as our main couple try to solve their conflict, and it almost sounds as if the book is advocating hot, passionate, steamy sex as the means to save lives... well, at least to save the life of Jack Winters.

Sure, there's the concept of the Burning Lamp, and the whole dream psi spectrum, and all that.  But what better reason to get our main couple all hot and bothered than implying that an intimate, passionate bond is also part of the whole ordeal.

And interesting concept...

Anyway, I also like the small foray into Fallon Jones, and love that we get to see more of him and his strange, paranoid quirks than just reading him as a background character who's ruthless and kind of a jackass.  I especially love that we make Fallon and Jack a sort of best friends relationship, because it DOES give use more of an insight into Fallon, which brilliantly sets us up for the next contemporary Arcane Society book in which out elusive J&J Investigations leader gets to set himself front and center.

Once again, as per normal Jayne Ann Krentz standards, I very much enjoyed this book!


***

Booklikes-opoly
Roll #27:
This book is tagged 'suspense' on GR.

Page Count:  403
Cash Award:  +$10.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $175.00


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Thoughts: Night Diver

Night Diver

by Elizabeth Lowell

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  2.0 Stars

After a family tragedy, Kate Donnelly left the Caribbean behind forever.  But a series of bad management decisions has left her family's diving and treasure-hunting business drowning in red ink.  Now her brother pleads with her to come back to the island of St. Vincent and offer her financial expertise.

Holden Cameron was addicted to the adrenaline rush of active duty—including narrowly surviving an underwater explosives accident.  The last thing the former British military diver wants is to babysit a family of thieves on a tropical island—even if they are the world-famous Diving Donnellys.

When equipment, treasure, and even divers begin to disappear, Kate and Holden form an uneasy alliance to uncover the truth.  But the deeper they plummet into the mystery, the closer they come to one another.  Soon they are sharing their deepest fears and darkest secrets—and a combustible chemistry too hot to ignore.


I'm not sure what I found less agreeable: the characters and their frustrating actions and personalities; or the dragging story line that took fifty percent of the book to finally pick up a little bit.

On the one hand, the book does boast a rather interesting premise, and Elizabeth Lowell's serviceable writing with some of the humor I'm used to from previous books.  On the other hand, the characters spent more time pissing me off, the plot dragged on, and Kate's doormat personality didn't do much to help.  And neither were the men in this book much to write home about either.

Holden is the standard, broody male, who starts off his character as a jackass, but then does a one-eighty about 20% into the book and turns into a different person.  Kate's grandfather and brother start off as jerks, continue to be jerks, and I kind of wrote them off pretty quickly after that.

It got on my nerves that the men would get into this male posturing, drag Kate into it, have their own problems, and then somehow Kate would feel obligated to both, be the peacekeeper, and apologize for whatever it is she feels she needs to apologize for, even though she wasn't even part of the problem in the first place.

Her relationship with her brother and her grandfather was exactly like she'd described about a childhood incident:  About how her brother used to pull her pigtails all the time, and not lightly.  She would ignore it until he pulled too hard and hurt her, then she'd turn around and get angry at him, demanding consolation.  But somehow, he managed to manipulate the situation wherein he turned into the wronged party, and she would apologize... just because.

Scenes like the above happen more than once, even as Kate and Larry are now adults.  He manipulates and then pisses her off, then when she calls him out on it, he turns the situation around, acts like the wounded party, and Kate feels the need to apologize and comfort his crybaby ass instead.

It got frustrating.

Kate had a rather tragic memory of the family's diving days, having been the only one on board the diving ship, at the age of eighteen, when her parents died.  According to back story, her parents went night diving, something happened to her mother's diving gear, and trying to save her mother her father had sped towards the surface without proper decompression with his ascent.  In the end, her mother ended up lost to the sea while her father surfaced into the diving ship with the bends, convulsing into death right in Kate's arms.

At the time, she was the only one on board since her grandfather and her brother were ashore.  She watched her mother disappear into the sea, watched her father die in her arms, tried to find her mother without success, then had to navigate the ship back to land, with no one there for support.

She ended up running away from the family business until her brother manages to manipulate her into returning years later, with no regard to her feelings.  He tells her that she need only show up and try to fix the financials, that she wouldn't have to get in the water--then when she arrives, he leaves her a note to pick up the British consultant and bring him out to the diving ship.  He tells her that she wouldn't have to set foot on the diving ship, that she can just do her part from the little house on shore--but when she reaches the diving ship with the consultant, her brother all but drags her on board.

The only thing that she stands strong about was that she refused to put on a diving suit and get in the water.

Instead of acknowledging the ordeal Kate had gone through during her parents' tragic deaths, both her grandfather and brother would throw into her face: "Did it never occur to you that I lost someone I love that night as well?" whenever she refused to take part in diving, or got tense by being on the ship that held tragic memories for her.

And while I'm not one to belittle or diminish one's grief over another's... well, I'd say that Kate's haunting memories of watching her father die and her mother lost at sea without being able to do a thing to help them deserves more sympathy than, "I'm grieving too, but I'm still in the game, so you need to get yourself together."

Anyway...

This conflict, as well as the "Who's stealing from the treasure hunt?" conflict, and the "This dive expedition is cursed" conflict, and how everything just keeps going wrong... all of these conflicts just kept circling each other for most of the book, with no forward progress.  In fact, when Kate and Holden finally hunker down and do some investigating after most of the divers quit, and one disappears under mysterious circumstances, I was wondering why none of that investigation had been done in the first place.

Instead, Kate and Holden spend most of the book lusting after each other, going from insta-lust to insta-love at breakneck speed, spend some time playing house, spend more time arguing with Kate's brother and grandfather... and then finally decide to do some solid investigating mere hours before a Category One is about to hit.  This entire time, I was wondering if, in the middle of an impending tropical storm was the best time to decide to finally look at the dive logs, and search the crew's quarters... while in the middle of the sea in the diving ship.


Night Diver was not an enjoyable book, and the only reason it gets stars at all is because the last half got exciting (finally), and Elizabeth Lowell's writing is easy to read.  I just couldn't stand the characters, the dragging plot...  And then the romance itself was unspectacular.  In fact, somehow, without actually being a dated romance, it still felt like a dated romance.  I'm not even sure how that's possible.


***

Booklikes-opoly
Fourth of July Optional BL Challenge:
The author of this book was born pre-1955.

Page Count:  388
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $165.00