Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. rebyj
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 18:41:56

    I’ve missed this the past couple of months! Thanks for posting it. I always get good recommendations from the other DA readers.

    I’m reading Annette Blair’s final book in the Triplet Trilogy. “Never Been Witched”
    I don’t think these books get enough notice. They’re interesting, funny and I’ve enjoyed the Accidental Witch Trilogy and this one. now has Kushiel’s Dart unabridged available. I’ve loved listening to it as it’s one of my all time favorite books. I’m not surprised that I pronounced a lot of the city and people names WAY wrong lol.

    Also, stupid me ! I clicked on new releases and ordered Gena Showalter’s Heart of the Dragon not realizing it was a reprint till I recieved it and read the first page or two. One of my biggest pet peeves is reprints with different covers. Grrrr!!! Good book but dangit I already have it.

  2. Bonnie
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 19:33:57

    I just finished the first two books of Lisa Kleypas’ “Travis Series”, Sugar Daddy and Blue-Eyed Devil.

    God, I gobbled them up in a few days and can’t WAIT for the next book to come out this year. Really fantastic stuff. She writes mostly historicals, which I’m not crazy about, but her contemporaries are scrumptious!

  3. Jia
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 19:42:04

    @rebyj: Be careful this month and next too! They’re reissuing The Heart of Atlantis and The Nymph King with new covers as well. I think it’s all supposed to lead up to a new Atlantis book coming out in April but still.

    On the bright side, at least it’s not like the case with Marie Brennan’s first duology which originally consisted of the books, Doppelganger and Warrior and Witch. Last year (?), Orbit re-released the books under two new titles, Warrior and Witch.

  4. Joy
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 19:45:39

    I just reread Liz Maverick’s Wired (in prep for reading Irreversible). There are very few books on my keeper shelf – and my rereads are few and far between, but I love this book. It’s nerdy and complicated and just great.

  5. Jessica G.
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 19:51:23

    I’m gobbling up the Jennifer Crusie bundle I got for cheap on Sony’s store. I think I’m going to be on a big contemporary kick for a while, courtesy of Harlequin’s awesome bundling powers :) I also downloaded “Just One of the Guys” by Krista Higgins to help with that problem. Damn you Victoria Dahl! I blame it on you for writing such an awesome contemporary and getting me back into reading them!

  6. jubee
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 19:59:49

    At New York Comic Con, a friend picked up a copy of Nalini Singh’s “Angels’ Blood,” the first in her Guild Hunter series. I’ve enjoyed her Psy-Changeling series, so can’t wait!

  7. Silver James
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 20:03:12

    I just finished Maureen Child’s Bedeviled While reading it at lunch one day, I laughed so hard the women at the next table all wanted to know what I was reading. Fenian Warriors, an ill-tempered imp, and a feisty redhead who’s just discovered she has to usurp the faerie queen. What’s not to love about this book!

    Following that, I dove right into Kate Carlisle’s Homicide in Hardcover and I’m about half-way through it. I’ve learned that I can vacuum, cook, and do dishes while reading. Her heroine is a bookbinder; the hero a British security specialist. The sparks are starting to fly!

    And one more plug. I can’t wait for February 24 and the release of Jennifer Lyon’s new book, Blood Magic. Witches, witch hunters of the hunkiest variety, and a little girl with a death curse on her head. I can’t wait to get my hands on my copy!

    (If this is a repost, my apologies. The first one didn’t show up nor did it mention the post was being held up.)

  8. foleydog
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 20:11:10

    I just read Cody McFayden’s first book – Shadow man on Saturday night/Sunday morning – stayed up all night with that one. It was that good.

    I have the next (freebie from RWA) on the night table when I can spare another few hours.

  9. rebyj
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 20:20:18

    Thanks for the heads up Jia.

    I forgot to mention I’ve been enjoying the 16 free ebooks from Harlequin but reading them sporadically cuz they’re on my desktop, not the most comfy way to read.

  10. Emmy
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 20:37:07

    Oh wow…lots of new books in Feb.

    Mexican Heat by Laura Baumbach and Josh Lanyon and Pandora Project: Runaway Star by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox have been my favorites so far.

    Gripes: I read 4 m/m books in one week that all included non-con in some form. Not every gay dude gets raped, and there are worse things Evil Guys do other than go out and randomly rape teh gheys. Prz to find a different Bad Thing that will make me hate the villain. Kthx.

  11. Barb Ferrer
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 21:01:01

    I’m knee deep in reading RITA books, but I’ve picked up two new ones that I’m dying to get into: The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee and The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.

    It’s funny, when I judge the RITAs, I find myself naturally veering towards books that aren’t “traditional” romances, but that often have a very strong love story component to them for my “free time” reading.

  12. SonomaLass
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 21:01:46

    @rebyj: Kushiel’s Dart is one of my very favorites, too. Gave my oldest daughter that trilogy for Christmas this year — she’s sensible enough not to get squicked out over getting “that” from her mother, and she can loan it to the other daughter and DIL who will love it, but who would have gotten squicky over getting it from me. I should give the audio book a try — my commute’s really short these days, but I would love to hear all those correct pronunciations.

    @JessicaG: Me too! I totally blame Victoria Dahl (and Eric McCarthy) for my sudden insatiable appetite for contemporary romance. I’ve been away from it for a while, and fortunately a good amount seems to have piled up in the meantime.

    If there are other Robin McKinley fans out there (joking, I know there are), I recommend Chalice if you haven’t read it yet. I got it for Christmas and saved it for a rainy weekend in the first trough of the semester, and it was just what I needed. A sweet and satisfying story, similar to Rose Daughter and Spindle’s End in tone, but original rather than a retelling.

    ETA: I was just on Robin’s web site, and I see that Sunshine has been reissued in trade paperback. Since I loaned my copy and never got it back, I will be hunting this down right away!

  13. katiebabs
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 21:08:34

    I just finished reading Nalini Singh’s Angels’ Blood in her new Guild Hunters series and As Shadows Fade by Colleen Gleason, the last book in her vampire slayer series. Two great books for March that must be read!

  14. valor
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 21:11:03

    They’re a little old (a year or so), but I’ve been reading Sarah Hoyt’s Magical British Empire books. I like the semi-unpredictable HEAs.
    Also, Annette Blair’s new Magical Vintage book, which title eludes me, which I really enjoyed.
    Thanks for the info on Robin McKinley. I haven’t read any recently.

  15. MJ Fredrick
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 21:22:15

    Bonnie, I read Blue-Eyed Devil and LOVED it, and am about to start Sugar Daddy. I’m also listening to Sophie Kinsella’s Can You Keep a Secret? and it is great, too. I’m looking forward to the next Virgin River book, sitting by my bed, and the new Demonica. Why can’t I read faster???

  16. GrowlyCub
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 21:23:53

    I’ve been reading mostly old, old, OLD books.

    Books I loved:

    Balogh’s ‘The Counterfeit Betrothal’
    (bittersweet, even though it has two HEAs)

    ‘The Notorious Rake’
    (that one rocks! heavy on the male POV and lots of angst)

    Hathaway, Kate ‘Bad for Each Other’
    (1997 SIM, curious read, I almost want to say innocent, even though there was quite a bit of sex; I think I saw the recommendation here in one of the comment threads)

    And then we have a book that blew my mind, and not in a good way.

    Balogh’s ‘The Double Wager’

    The plot is cobbled together from Arabella, April Lady, Devil’s Cub, The Convenient Marriage, and Frederica (Georgette Heyer). People in a forgiving mode would probably say that it was supposed to be an homage…

    Hero’s name Marius, heroine Henry (Heyer, The Convenient Marriage, Marcus and Horry), heroine’s last name Tallant (Arabella). Secretary that must have been the twin brother to Rule’s in TCM, balloon ascent, unruly dog and precocious children from Frederica, (almost) shooting scene from Devils’ Cub, villain/villainous heir from TCM, heroine going to a money lender to help out her gambling brother (April Lady), wedding journey to Paris (TCM), missing jewel that is redeemed by hero from TCM, villainous (ex-)mistress who is in cahoots with villain from TCM.

    Those were just the things I can think of immediately. I’m sure I overlooked some. Granted this is from 1985 and an early work, but holy moly, talk about appropriating plot lines…

    Balogh’s been heavily borrowing from her own plots in recent books, which is annoying, but doesn’t rise to the level of horrifying. This did.

    And in other news for KristieJ, ‘Broken Wing’ seems to be doing pretty chipper, it’s hanging in there in the Amazon rankings. Been going up in the last few weeks and doing better than some other books by new authors that got a lot of buzz. Any news on the new book?

    I’ve been reading mostly historicals, and I have hundreds of books on the TBR, but I think I’ll be picking up Scandal and Dahl’s contemporary for my trip to Celebrate Romance.

  17. Janine
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 21:54:15

    I’m reading the first book in Alisa Sheckley’s (aka Alisa Kwitney) new werewolf urban fantasy series, The Better to Hold You. This book will be out two weeks from today. The paranormal elements are only hinted at in the first half (there are paranormal goings on but the heroine, who is also the narrator, doesn’t realize that’s what they are). Except for getting a bit impatient with that, I am enjoying it. Review (hopefully a conversational review with Jennie) to come in a couple of weeks.

  18. Jill Sorenson
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 21:59:46

    Erotic romance recs:

    I just read an ARC of Taking Care of Business, a Megan Hart/Lauren Dane collaboration. Two stand out stories, very nicely done. For March 2009. Also Virginia Reede’s Snow Blind from A Red Hot New Year anthology. Guess that was a 2007 release. Oh well. Something old, something new. : )

  19. cecilia
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 22:26:09

    Sonomalass – I just got Chalice, and have been saving it for the weekend. Now I’m even more excited about it.

    I actually want to gripe a little. I just found out that the fourth Sharing Knife book is not due out in e-book form till April. I don’t even know what to say. My extremely slow to process new books library will have had it available for ages by then. Are the publishers nuts? I don’t buy hardcovers very often, and I definitely don’t like paying hardcover prices for e-books, but I was willing to shell out $20 for that. By the time it comes out, I will have satisfied my desire to read it already….for free. I’m speechless.

  20. Kaetrin
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 22:34:31

    I just finished Courting Clara by Mary Balogh.

    Totally not what I expected in an old category romance. Mary Balogh really surprises me (in a good way) sometimes.

    In this story, this fortune hunter marries this plain rich crippled lady. Because it is a romance, of course they fall in love but the journey is very interesting. He is so totally not the typical hero. He is immature, a gambler, drinker and womaniser. What I found so interesting, was that much of his bad behaviour was out of despair and self loathing. He was kind of like, “well I know I should stop this but I’m such a failure I may as well go and hate myself some more and each time I do this it just proves how sucky I am so I may as well give up trying.”

    Even the ending is untypical in that, while I personally believed in their HEA, there wasn’t an assumption that he’d never “slip” back into old patterns. The couple acknowledge this is a possibility and she tells him that she loves him and will always forgive him and that she will feel that way no matter what.

    When I just wrote that, it sounded a bit wimpy and dependent, but in the book, it was completely the opposite. For this man, telling him that he can’t cause her to stop loving him, is more likely to keep him on the straight and narrow than giving him a licence to hurt her, given the motivation of a lot of his bad behaviour.

    That probably doesn’t make sense… sorry! …Anyway, I really enjoyed it.

    Also I just read A Counterfeit Betrothal and totally agree with GrowlyCub about this one. I really enjoyed the dual HEA’s. The younger couple were hilarious.

  21. Janine
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 22:39:03

    I think the title is Dancing with Clara. I love that book! One of my favorite Baloghs.

  22. SonomaLass
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 23:48:05

    @ cecilia : I hope you enjoy Chalice! I can see why it isn’t everyone’s cuppa; you could love some of McKinley’s stuff and not like this one. It isn’t in the same mode as Hero and the Crown or DragonHaven, but if you like what I think of as her “fairy tale voice,” you’ll like this.

  23. Brenna
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 23:58:26

    A lot of Balogh’s traditional regencies are very good IMO. Better than her current ones. I too loved the Notorious Rake. Definitely one of Balogh’s best. I especially liked how she handled the reconciliation scene between Edmond and his family, the awkwardness, the shame and guilt because the latter were in fact as guilty or more so than Edmond himself.

    Speaking of reconciliation, I just finished Private Arrangements. Being one of the most hyped books in 2008, I put off reading it. I was afraid that it is going to be mostly hype. Not bad but it did not measure to all the hype IMO. The hero and heroine’s love story left me cold, their motivations and reasons for their long separation yet still loving each other just not convincing enough to me. Re the flashback, I thought I could handle it but eventually got irritated with the constant past, present, past, present style. Then there is that reconciliation scene at the end which was so clinical. We were told in a small paragraph what the hero was feeling after the dinner, his excitement, the anticipation etc… I wanted the author to show it to me, make me feel all those emotions that is going through him. If his guests felt his emotions, then let me feel them too. Alas, she didn’t and that scene left me cold. The author could learn a thing or two from Balogh. And the use of the word “shag”. I really find it crude.

  24. Jody W.
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 23:58:31

    I am going to reward myself with Beth Pattillo’s “Jane Austen Ruined My Life” when I’m done judging my last RITA book.

  25. MaryK
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 00:00:47

    @SonomaLass: I read Chalice from the library because of all the I-usually-like-her-but-this-was-boring reviews. It was very interesting with a very interesting hero. I definitely plan to buy a copy.

    ETA: I was just on Robin's web site, and I see that Sunshine has been reissued in trade paperback. Since I loaned my copy and never got it back, I will be hunting this down right away!

    I love the cover on the trade copy. I have a mm copy, but I’m seriously tempted to buy the reissue just for the cover.

  26. Shannon C.
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 02:18:34

    I’m reading epic and urban fantasy right now. It takes a lot to get me into an anthology, but “Mean Streets” featuring Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Cat Richardson and… uh… some guy I’ve never heard of and whose name I’m too lazy to look up… has been quite good so far. I particularly think I need to go back and read Green’s “Nightside” books.

    The epic fantasy I’m reading is Joe Abercrombie’s “The Blade Itself”. The characters are hard to like, and I understand that the trilogy ends in a bittersweet fashion, but I’m compelled to keep going. And then I intend to read some Lisa Kleypas and Laura Kinsale. I’ve also got to get the latest Linnea Sinclair book read before its release date, so I’m a busy girl.

  27. Zoe Winters
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 02:42:22

    I’m reading a paranormal romance by my friend Cynthia Eden, called: “Midnight Sins.” She’s got really great pacing and I really enjoyed the first book in this series, “Hotter After Midnight”

    If you’d like a free ebook, click on my name here and it’ll take you to the free download for my novella, KEPT. (paranormal romance)

  28. Danielle
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 05:34:15

    I just finished reading Riding The Line by Kate Pearce — super hot — wear gloves when reading.

    I’ve also Scandal by Carolyn Jewel another enjoyable read.

  29. Gina
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 05:46:56

    Just finished My Man Michael by Lori Foster and Dream Hunter by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Both are the next installments in their respective series.

    While very enjoyable I found the “super natural” aspect of My Man Michael out of place in the series. It was a fun fast, sexy read but through it all I had that “huh?” kind of feeling. Leave logic at the door and be willing to suspend your belief to fully enjoy it. Won’t go into anymore because any other details would be a big spoiler!

    I am a huge fan of the Sherrilyn Kenyon Dark Hunter / Dream Hunter series, this is #4 of the Dream Hunters. This was small in comparison to her last few books (i.e. Acheron) so it was a quick read. Characters are sexy and the overall story (this and past books in the series) really come together well. Paranmormal fans will gobble it up but if you haven’t read the series be prepared to have questions as it doesn’t stand on its own. That said I’m finding that with this author I’m over reading about her personal life. I recently turned off my subscription to her blog because her detailed accounts of her life – the good, the bad and the haunting past – had me rethinking my enjoyment of her books.

    Someone mentioned Heart of Atlantis in re-release, since this author was new to me up until recently I’m glad to see her earlier works being repackaged and bought Heart of Atlantis to read next. Nymph King will follow.

  30. Helen Burgess
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 05:58:31

    I have just finished Mexican Heat as mentioned above. It was a real roller coaster of a story. Mobsters, drug lords and other unsavory types. It was GREAT. A romance without being all emo.

  31. Jane
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 06:34:07

    @cecilia: The fourth book is at Sony. I bought it yesterday. It was $18 something.

  32. GrowlyCub
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 07:08:54

    I want to love ‘Dancing with Clara’, but the things that make it unusual, also make it lie like a stone in my stomach. I just have this thing about the h/h: once they are a couple, no hanky-panky with others. I totally understand the whys and hows of this book, but it still makes me nauseated each time I read it when I get to that part. I’m weird, what can I say. :)

  33. cecilia
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 07:30:14

    @Jane: I don’t have a Sony reader and I’ve never bought from them before. What’s the likelihood I could read it on my Cybook?

  34. Sunita
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 07:52:52

    If I’m right that the only DRM format Cybooks read is Mobi, then the Sony bookstore won’t work for you, but you can get a mobi version at the Harper Collins bookstore site for 19.95.

  35. Cathy
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 07:53:39

    I’m reading Evie Byrne’s “Called by Blood” right now – just released as an e-book from Samhain. I’m only a few pages in, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far. I also highly recommend her previous book “Dante’s Inferno,” also available from Samhain.

  36. Aoife
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 08:46:59

    I just finished Patricia Brigg’s Bone Crossed and enjoyed it very much. A good strong B read for me. A lot of the problems I had with Mercy’s seemingly too quick recovery from events in the last book were dealt with in a satisfying, and believable way. Although I do agree with whoever made the comments about the sudden appearance of Mercy’s mother. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see more of her in future books, but I don’t think she added much to Bone Crossed.

    I just started So Enchanting (Brockway) but for some reason keep on putting it down. I don’t know if that has significance regarding the book, or if I’m just highly distractible right now.

    I’m also re-reading Nevil Shute’s The Far Country, and am enjoying the picture it presents of the time period immediately following WWII. A Town Like Alice is my favorite of Shute’s books, and I’m feeling as though I may need to re-watch the excellent mini-series with Bryan Brown, too. Those people who loved North and South might also enjoy A Town Like Alice, although it is set in a totally different time period.

  37. Jennifer Estep
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 09:09:06

    I’m finishing up Dead Beat by Jim Butcher (one of the Dresden books), and I’m about to start Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas. Sugar Daddy was one of my favorite reads last year, so I’m really looking forward to it and the sequel.

    Thanks for the mention about Robin McKinley. I love her book Beauty — it’s one of my all-time favs. I’ll have to check out her new stuff …

  38. Lizzy
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 09:38:45

    @Aoife: Gawsh, I love A Town Like Alice. I have to admit being a little sensitive to some of the extremely un-PC slang in it, but it’s still a great, great story. I reread it every few years or so.

  39. rebyj
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 10:13:58

    If you want to gift a romance novel starring yourself this Vday.. check out

    It’d be hilarious to do this and gift it to a guy you’ve only had like one date with LOL.

    You co-author your 160 to 200-page novel by providing the names, features and places that personalize your book. Customize over 26 characteristics – even include your dog or cat! A personalized cover adds the finishing touch. Choose from nine action-packed romantic titles. A gift that will be treasured forever! Last day to order for delivery by Valentine’s is Thursday, February 12th.

  40. Aoife
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 10:37:48

    @Lizzy I know what you mean about the un-PC-ness. It’s jarring to the ear, isn’t it? I keep reminding myself when the books were written, just as I do when reading Georgette Heyer, or Shakespeare, and so on.

  41. Darlynne
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 10:47:16

    The audio version of Michael Chabon’s Summerland is one of the best things I’ve ever encountered. Chabon does the narration and while it might seem obvious he would nail the voices of his own characters, his interpretation is wonderfully and wildly invented. The lugubrious female Sasquatch, Taffy, and the human-eating giant, Mooseknuckle John, crack me up every time I hear them. I’m always late to the party, but this YA book is right up there with China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun and Neil Gaiman’s Stardust.

    Louise Penny’s fabulous Three Pines mystery series continues with A Rule Against Murder aka The Murder Stone. I love these characters as if they were my own family and hope more people will start reading. The mystery is always intriguing, but as character studies, I’m not sure anyone does it better.

    A note to mystery or crime writers (not Ms. Penny): I don’t care about the killer. I don’t and won’t read pages from the killer’s POV, because he/she is not deserving of my attention. Obviously, it’s your story, all yours, but I have skipped many pages over the years and, guess what, the story is just as good, better IMO, without them. Show me how the crime was solved through the ingenuity of the police or crime-fighting group; show me what the good guys learn because THAT is more of a surprise than if I, the reader, have already seen what they can only surmise. /rant

    Was I right to encourage my sister to get the Sony 700 instead of the Kindle 2.0? I sent her all the links from DA about ereaders and since she lost her first Kindle (ye gods) I thought she may as well go for it. Will she be able to read her previous Kindle purchases (she doesn’t care, they’re already read, but I thought I’d ask)?

    Thanks for the topic, Jane. It’s scary what comes out of my keyboard when someone issues an invitation to talk.

  42. SonomaLass
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 12:21:42

    Speaking of reconciliation, I just finished Private Arrangements. Being one of the most hyped books in 2008, I put off reading it. I was afraid that it is going to be mostly hype. Not bad but it did not measure to all the hype IMO. The hero and heroine's love story left me cold, their motivations and reasons for their long separation yet still loving each other just not convincing enough to me.

    See, that’s what my partner calls “horses for courses” — or on this side of the big pond, “different strokes for different folks.” I LOVED Private Arrangements (although I thought Delicious was even better). Second-time-around stories are my very favorites, since I’m living one, and these two books were highlights for me last year.

  43. Zoe Winters
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 12:34:13

    I LOVED Private Arrangements. One of the very few books with a bunch of flashbacks that I felt added great tension and drama instead of slowing down the story.

  44. Jessa Slade
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 12:36:24

    I had read Jeaniene Frost’s second Night Huntress book, One Foot in the Grave, out of order, and loved it. So I went back to pick up the first. Loved that too. Now the third is near the top of my TBR pile so I can be ready for book four which comes out on my birthday in July. (Psychic hint to my XY.)

    I’m just so happy with these books. I’m a picky reader and to be able to lose myself in a story and not come up for air until the end is such a wonderful feeling.

  45. GrowlyCub
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 13:34:05

    ‘Private Arrangements’ was one of those books I wouldn’t have picked up except for the buzz here and in other places.

    I don’t like flashbacks, and I really, really, REALLY dislike antagonistic h/h, even though I love second-time-around love stories. The idea of the seriously antagonistic couple and the flashbacks really turned me off, but I kept seeing the glowing comments, so I finally caved in and read it and it was one of my top reads for 2008.

    I can’t wait for Thomas’ new one that’s out in May, since the excerpt made me want to visit the authors home and liberate it from her HD. :)

    Another book I read about here and that I wanted to read, but had to put down was Rosenthal’s ‘The Slightest Provocation’. I only got a few pages into it to the scene where the estranged couple meet and the sheer anguish and the awful things these two did to each other made it impossible for me to believe that they could recover and have a HEA. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back and try to read the book, it really took something out of me in just the little bit I read. Mindset may have had something to do with it (I had just finished watching ‘The Butterfly Effect’ which isn’t exactly uplifting as far as I’m concerned).

  46. Zoe Winters
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 13:37:24


    Have you got “Delicious” by the same author? It’s on my shelf right now but I haven’t gotten to it yet.

  47. GrowlyCub
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 13:42:21


    I do have it, but I haven’t read it yet. I’m not exactly sure why, because I was so excited when I bought my copy, but then I started on something else and it just hasn’t spoken and told me to take it off the TBR mountain yet. The setting I think is what is not quite that exciting to me.

    However, the excerpt of ‘Not Quite A Husband’ reminded me of one of my all-time favorite romance novels and the h/h virtually sprang off the webpage into my head…

    Readers are weird… or maybe it’s just me. ;)

  48. Aoife
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 13:58:38

    I had the same issues with Private Arrangements that Brenna had, but enjoyed Delicious quite a bit, once I decided not to be bothered by the implausibility of some of the plot points. I’m definitely looking forward to more from Thomas, and will check out her May release.

  49. CEmerson
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 14:45:33

    Growlycub, I had the same reaction to Dancing with Clara. Once whatsisface (Frederick?) went to the hooker, he was dead to me. I couldn’t root for their HEA.

    But Balogh was never my favorite of the old Signet authors. Recently I found a couple titles by Dorothy Mack at a rummage sale (someone was unloading their whole Signet collection – so sad!) and I’m looking forward to reading those, as I love her dry humor.

  50. GrowlyCub
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 14:55:43

    CEmerson, I have a weird reaction to DwC. I’ve only re-read it once, but I really like the idea behind it and I like both Clara and Freddie a lot, I just wish she’d left that little tidbit out.

    We had that discussion on her list and most readers felt that it was an integral part of the story. I can see that, I still wish she’d found a different way of showing how much Freddie disliked himself. Nevertheless, I don’t hate the book. It just doesn’t leave me with a happy glow like some of her others do.

    I have the same reaction to Theresa Weir’s ‘Forever’. Even though it has a HEA, the fact that the hero has to go away to find himself (after brain damage that permanently deleted his memories after age 19) and that included other women or at least one other woman, always makes me sad, rather than happy, even though I believe their HEA. I’m just not the forgiving kind and sexual fidelity is non-negotiable in my real world.

    I only discovered Balogh last year and I like quite a few of her older books a lot and then some not so much. :) I recently won a lot of the older ones off e-bay and there were some fab reads in there and some real clunkers. I blogged on my LJ (url above) about most of them.

    I think I recently picked up a Dorothy Mack title in my travels, so I’ll move that up the TBR pile, dry humor sounds great to me.

  51. Susan/DC
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 16:11:36

    I loved Balogh’s The Notorious Rake (have reread it numerous times) but didn’t care so much for Dancing with Clara. I could, however, understand Clara’s declaration. Freddie needed to feel worthy of love, and Clara’s declaration that she loved him unconditionally gave him that. OTOH, it still drove me a bit crazy.

    As for understated humor, one of my favorites is Barbara Metzger. She has a very definite voice, so if you don’t care for that voice you won’t like her books, but I do. However, as a sign that comedy is even more individual than tragedy, I read several Dorothy Mack books and don’t remember them as humorous at all (too dry, perhaps?).

    Recent reads include the latest CS Harris’ latest Sebastian St Cyr mystery, Where Serpents Sleep, and liked it a lot. Some controversy as to who will wind up as his heroine, but even without that (and I know who I’m rooting for) I think Harris has created a satisfying series with vivid characters that immerses the reader in a specific time and place.

  52. CEmerson
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 18:39:16

    Susan/DC, I’ve never read any Metzger. Can you recommend a title?

    The Dorothy Mack book I remember most fondly is called, I think, The Awakening Heart. It features a heroine who, while not unintelligent, is kind of oblivious – focused on her painting to the exclusion of other things; always slow to get jokes, etc. There was a comically awkward marriage-proposal scene, as I recall (involving some guy who wasn’t the hero).

    Anyway I believe it was a sequel to one of the books I picked up at the rummage sale. The Something-or-Other-Else Heart. Looking at her backlist, I see it could be “Steadfast” or “Reluctant.” I really need to read it and find out.

  53. Brenna
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 18:41:28

    See, that's what my partner calls “horses for courses” -‘ or on this side of the big pond, “different strokes for different folks.” I LOVED Private Arrangements (although I thought Delicious was even better). Second-time-around stories are my very favorites, since I'm living one, and these two books were highlights for me last year.

    Yes, that’s true. But I also love second time around stories, so that is not a problem. I know a lot of people are gushing about this book and believe me, I wanted to like it. I can even read books with hot button issues. It is up to the writer to convince me and make me overcome whatever issues I have enough to really like his/her book. While I don’t have any hot button issues with regards to this book, in fact I liked the beginning, I just felt that the author did not convince me enough about the reasons, motivations or even the passion between the hero and heroine. As I said, I found it very clinical.

  54. Susan G
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 18:44:49

    Just finished Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready. Super book – Grade A!

    What makes my love for this book even more amazing is that it’s a vampire story and I consider myself totally burned out on this genre. Somehow Smith-Ready makes it all new again – very fresh and original. Plus she is an excellent story teller.

    The sequel comes out in May and I am pre-ordering!

  55. Jane
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 19:49:54

    @Susan G Wow that’s interesting because I’v been totally off vampire books of late (almost all paranormals). I’m going to look for it.

  56. Zoe Winters
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 20:01:01

    I think everybody has gotten tired of vampires. I think we’re hitting burn-out mode. Which sucks since I love vampires. But it’s got to be more (IMO) than “just” that there is a vampire in the story. We have to care about the characters themselves.

  57. joanne
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 20:05:10

    I’ll sneak in with one more (hanging head in case of incoming rotten tomtoes) vampire book because I found this new author to have a totally different skew and I finished the book thinking I’d really like to read the next one in the series.

    The author’s name is Jennifer Turner, the book is Called Eternal Seduction ( I almost passed because of the title) but I had to try the recommendation because the blurb said her heroine is a homeless street person of ten years standing & a heroin addict.

    I found the writing very good, and the paranormal elements interesting enough to be considered different. She saves herself (yea!) — to say more would give away the story — and the secondary characters are at times both funny and interesting.The ebook version was half the paper price so whether that’s smart marketing or just the hook I don’t know.

    ***And a big ole whoopee for the new In Death due out in 13 days…. not that I’m counting the days. *g*

  58. rebyj
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 20:22:58

    I’m burned out on vampires, more and more they read like whiny emo teens. Paranormal not so much because it has more variety . I’m really in the mood for an epic. 1000+ pages to get lost in for a day or two would be nice.

  59. GrowlyCub
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 20:23:49

    Zoe, you’ll be ‘happy’ to hear then that agents are still merrily buying more vampire books for publication in 2011 and beyond…

    and publishing is wondering why they are in trouble. Could it possibly be that they are paying zero attention to what their target audience wants? No, surely that cannot be it!

    I guess I’d better slink off into my cave, the ‘growly’ seems to be out tonight… :)

  60. Zoe Winters
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 21:02:34

    Hey joanne, that sounds really good. I added it to my list. (Of course I have to get through the physical pile first, but yeah.)

    rebyj, I know, I like a vampire that’s excited about being a vampire and is at least morally ambiguous. No more of this “Oh, I’m doomed to walk the earth forever being young and beautiful” stuff. I mean I understand they lose their human loved ones, but…make vampire friends.

    Growly, then I really hope that the focus starts to shift to the characters themselves and not whatever species they happen to be. The second novella in my series features a vampire, but it’s sandwiched in between a werecat story and a werewolf story, so hopefully it’ll work. I’m hoping people who like the first novella will bear with me with the vampire thing for the second one.

  61. SonomaLass
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 21:42:13

    @ rebyj: Don’t know if you like Celtic history-based fantasy, but I was in “epic” mode in the fall, and I read the Dalraida trilogy by Jules Watson (The White Mare, The Dawn Stag and The Boar Stone/aka Song of the North) and the Bridei Chronicles by Juliet Marillier (Blade of Fortriu, The Dark Mirror and The Well of Shades). Both were very engrossing and satisfying LONG reads, although that’s definitely spoken from a Celtic history loving bias. Especially the Dalraida books, since she set them smack in the middle of my “home turf” in Scotland! Both of them have excellent love stories, too.

  62. Bonnie
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 22:10:34

    Ugh.. so frustrated.

    As I mentioned up thread, I just LOVED Lisa Kleypas’ first two contemporaries — ‘Sugar Daddy’ and ‘Blue-Eyed Devil’.

    I loved them so much, I started reading her ‘Secrets of a Summer Night’. Wow, what a disappointment.

    Dammit, it’s hard to rebound from a good read. I just don’t like historicals and I don’t know why I keep trying. They’re all the same damn thing… over and over again. I don’t get the popularity.

  63. rebyj
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 22:52:48

    Thanks Sonomalass, I’ve put them on my list to look for at the used bookstore. The Juliet Marillier ones look particularly good.

  64. BlueRose
    Feb 12, 2009 @ 03:53:04

    Darlynne – I just discovered Louise Penny and her fabulous books recently and I LOVE her – and I want to live in Three Pines one day :)

    Susan G – I have also recently read Wicked Game (its the only book from that author I have read) and I also enjoyed it. Definately a vampire book with an unusual twist, instead of making them out to be all wonderful and desirable, instead it spent more time showing the downsides of being a vamp in that kind of world. The heroine was pretty cool too :)

    Seeing as Chalice is mentioned, I will also back that, its an excellent McKinley book, and they have recently rereleased Sunshine in a spanky new cover, and again its a vampire story with a difference, mostly the difference is there is hardly any vamp in it at all – although the food is a starring feature, and will leave you craving giant cinnamon rolls !

  65. TaraLeigh
    Feb 12, 2009 @ 04:04:03

    Yeeesh–I’ll have you know I’m going to be buried in books because of you guys!
    I just reserved 11 of them from my library!
    I just KNOW 8 of them will come in at once! Gah!


    Thank you! What a great selection of authors and genres.

    I have to say I’m all into Gena Showalter right now–I just started her Lords of the Underworld series and I’m enamored with the characters. I’m impatiently waiting for book 3!

    And I saw mention of IN DEATH in here–girl! I’m so with you. Roarke makes me nutty to this day! I’ll never get sick of him or Eve–and most especially Peabody. ;)

  66. TerryS
    Feb 12, 2009 @ 12:19:10

    I just bought “Miracles” by Mary Kirk over at Fictionwise (multi-format, no less). My paperback version is falling apart. I remember when it first came out it got a 5 star rating at Romantic Times and it was about the only 5 star rating I agreed with. This will be my Valentine’s weekend read!!

  67. Susan/DC
    Feb 12, 2009 @ 18:12:48

    To CEmerson: You may, or may not, like Barbara Metzger. She has a big backlist, so it’s safe to say some of her books are better than others. My favorites include The Hourglass (has an absolutely gorgeous cover), Lord Heartless, Lady Sparrow, and Miss Westlake’s Windfall (which I thought I wouldn’t like but wound up liking very much). She’s also written a number of short stories and is found in numerous Christmas anthologies. A typical example of her humor is found in her story “The Management Requests” from the anthology Grand Hotel (which also has a VG Carla Kelly story): “Deuce take it, he’d managed to survive Bonaparte; his brother Henry might have tried to survive that curricle race to Brighton.”

    Happy reading!

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