Read on for mini-reviews and lots of Kindle-on-the-beach pictures of these:
- Talk Me Down, Victoria Dahl (2009, HQN 352 pages)
- Crash Into Me, Jill Sorenson (2009, Bantam Dell, 464 pages)
- Flat-Out Sexy, Erin McCarthy (2008, Berkley Sensation, 304 pages)
- Anything for You, Sarah Mayberry (2006, Harlequin Blaze, 256 pages)
- To Do List, Lauren Dane (2007, Samhain, novella)
- Just the Sexiest Man Alive, Julie James (2008, Berkley Sensation, 304 pages)
- Practice Makes Perfect, Julie James (2009, Berkley, 320 pages)
- Like No Other Lover, Julie Anne Long (2008, Avon Romantic Treasure, 384 pages)
Maybe it was the pina coladas (or sangria, or mojitos, or rum and cokes). Maybe it was the sun, the sand, the surf. Maybe it was my Kindle enthrallment. Or maybe they were just damn good books. But I enjoyed reading all of the above. I hope to write longer reviews of some of them at a later date, but until then…
1. Talk Me Down: Heroine who secretly writes erotica has returned to small town. She and hero have hots for each other since high school. Hero is gossip-averse, alpha but not domineering, borderline stick in the mud small town cop. First a bone to pick with Dear Author and Smart Bitches: I thought the “Save the Contemporary” campaign was all about — er — the contemporary. Exclusive of both paranormal and suspense. But this was definitely romantic suspense, with the heroine in serious peril most of the book. I enjoyed it, but heroine was slightly immature (at what point in your adult life do you tell your family to accept you or shove it?) and static throughout book. I do love a nonpsychotically jealous hero, especially with bar scenes, and this had them aplenty.
2. Crash Into Me: Latina FBI agent heroine, hero is widower and single dad, former pro surfer, former adulterer and alcoholic. I picked this one for the Cali surf setting, so well developed and so appropriate for my vacation. I think people who like rom suspense will really like it: the question of who was the murderer really had me from the beginning. The romance did not work as well for me, despite hot and unique sex scenes, because heroine is dishonest with hero and hero’s behavior is questionable at many points. Secondary romance with teens was sweet and well done. I think I have to accept that this sub-genre is not for me. There were many truly horrible people in this book — misogynists, lying teen sluts, rapists, murderers, child abusers. It just doesn’t work with romance for me. That’s my hangup, I realize.
3. Flat-Out Sexy: A very nice romance with younger hero who is sincere and honorable. Sexy and sweet. Heroine is supposedly an academic but may as well have been window washer for all it mattered to her character. I did not like the stereotyping of her former fellow academic boyfriend, just maybe because I am a professor married to another professor. I don’t think everyone who drives NASCAR is buff and masculine and everyone who teaches anthropology is wimpy and effeminate. That said, I am allergic to NASCAR and yet found myself quite interested in the culture while reading this book.
4. Anything for You: What a great little book. H/H are best friends and business partners and heroine realizes all her emotional energy is going to him. In order to move on with her romantic life, she severs their ties, setting in motion a very funny and sexy series of events as hero is forced to reevaluate their relationship. Very focused and tight, with wonderful results. I am planning to glom Mayberry ASAP. Loved the Australia setting, the unique terminology peppered throughout.
5. To Do List: My second Dane book, after Giving Chase. This one was also a friends into lovers book, but less successful than the Mayberry. Opening scene, h/h are kissing for first time, and within 3 days are engaged. I know it’s a novella, but it was just too fast, despite the fact that they knew each other all their lives. I felt like I was missing the first 5 chapters. Taught me a new saying, “Sweet baby Jesus on a skateboard.” Really no conflict to speak of, but on paper it’s that hero is organic farmer, heroine is uptight lawyer determined to make partner. He finds her OCD “sweet” and she finds his organic farming “sexy”.
6. Just The Sexiest Man Alive: I loved this book. Both Type A, she’s a hot shot lawyer, he’s basically Brad Pitt. He needs to learn how to act like a trial lawyer for a movie. Funny and engaging. And, one of my favorites things — a very sexy book with almost no actual sex! I know I love a book when the insides of my wrists start tingling. The physiological explanation is that my wrists hurt because I am unable to put it down. But I like to think of my wrist tingles as my own mystical sign of booky greatness. This is not a perfect book — do we really believe this guy is a changed man? And sort of stalled in last third. But still, I enjoyed it so much I immediately downloaded …
7. Practice Makes Perfect: I loved this one, too. Again, with the Type A hot shot lawyers, both of them this time. Very Tracy and Hepburn. Colleagues have hated each other for 8 years, now both trying to make partner, sparks fly. The stress of their career ascension is so well portrayed — anyone who has tried to make partner, or get tenure, will appreciate it. Heroine is a hippie’s daughter, public school, feminist vegetarian. He’s the silver spoon golfing Harvard educated prepster. Actually deals almost head on with class and gender issues, but veers away when things get interesting — I want to write a longer review on this one to talk about that issue in particular. Again, NO SEX, but sexy as hell. I so enjoyed it and am totally enamored of Ms. James.
8. Like No Other Lover: What can I say? This is my 4th book by this author, and I have truly enjoyed all of them. In this one, a mild mannered but wealthy scientist type gets spurned by the beautiful popular girl. The tables are turned and they come to reevaluate each other. Has a Pride and Prejudice aspect (as did Practice Makes Perfect), a theme I adore. I loved both characters, and I love how forthright and mature Long’s h/h are. It’s also set at the hero’s home — did I hear house party? Squee!!! I have to admit however, that Long needs to be taken in by the Metaphor and Simile division of the RWA for some serious deprogramming. This woman has never met a person place or thing she could describe directly. Still, what a great read with a drinking game scene in the middle that had me laughing so hard people were staring at me over their mojitos.
I’ll do a separate post on my Kindle, but for now I leave you with this…