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What Jane Has Been Reading, Week of August 29

Like my previous post, this is actually a retrospective list of what I had read the past couple of weeks:

Mistress Bride by Michelle Reid – A discussion of Reid’s books prompted me to pull out this favorite of mine.  I really like how Reid uses societal constraints to keep the protags apart. She did this in the Sheik’s Chosen Bride by having the loved wife of a prince of an Arab principality leave her husband because of infertility.  In Mistress Bride, the Arab Sheik is supposed to marry a nearby Arab heiress but has instead carried on a public affair with a wealthy Englishwoman.  The question of why the Sheik never asked Evie to marry him before she becomes pregnant is never satisfactorily answered.

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The Father of Her Child by Emma Darcy – Michael Timberlane is a famous Australian literary agent whose marriage fell apart when his flighty society wife starts flinging bits of wisdom from some Lauren Magee with whom she works.  When Lauren and Michael meet each other Michael has every intention of eeking out some revenge but after one night together, Michael realizes that his conclusions regarding Lauren were wrong and that they are meant to be together.  Their HEA is put in jeopardy when Lauren realizes Michael obfuscated his identity and by Lauren’s ex husband.  I liked that the two had to confront their own biases conclusions about each other that they formed from other’s hearsay and accusations.

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The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark – this was a decently written UF but it’s not got the romance that I like in a cross over book and because of that, I’m not compelled to read the second.  Much of the story is setup as well.  I’ll write a full review later this month.

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Too Proud to be Bought by Sharon Kendrick – very silly story.  Zara is a waitress who catches the eye of Russian Billionaire, Nikolai Komarov.  She resists his advances and thus places herself in the whore category in Nikolai’s eyes.  She would also be in the whore category if she accepted his advances.  No winning with Nikolai.  His own desire for her is blamed on her whorishness.  So Nikolai arranges for Zara to be his personal waitress when he travels. She also eventually falls into his bed, thus confirming her whorishness. Somehow she becomes a whore no longer, but I wasn’t sure at which point she crossed over that line for Nikolai.

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I realized I hadn’t read (or purchased) Thread of Fear and Whisper of Warning by Laura Griffin. After reading those two, I went on to re-read Untraceable, Unspeakable, and Unforgivable. I generally agree with Jayne’s reviews here. It was because of Jayne’s reviews that I read these books. She isn’t a regular reader of romantic suspense and when Snapped came to my door, I finally broke down and read her. It was great and I had to buy her backlist titles. Thanks Jayne!

Cover Me by Catherine Mann – I bought this because I wanted to read more romantic suspense. This book had 23 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4 and 1/2 stars. The story features a heroine who lives in an off the grid community in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska and a pararescue Army person. I probably won’t read another Mann story. Her writing style doesn’t appeal to me. She info dumps and overexplains all the time. At one point, late in the book, she has one pararescue guy say to the other while they are searching for explosives: “I think the explosive sniffing dogs have found something.” Plus, she was always violating the rules she had set up. I.e., no one who left the Islands could return yet when the heroine is taken off the Island, she doesn’t question that she’ll return at all. The off the grid community is comprised of about 150 people but they all have their own business and seemingly a lot of ready cash. What does an off the grid community need with cash and how do they get it if they are off the grid?  Ironically, the villain in this story does everything for the love of a woman which made me think of last week’s op ed post.

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In looking over my list of September book reviews, I realized that my historical reading was way, way down so I read three historicals:

One Night in London by Caroline Linden – The 1st half of the story was bit irritating because so much of the internal monologue was spent on the mental lusting between the characters. What made this so irritating, beyond the obvious, is that the hero had  been jilted by a woman that he professed to love. It wasn’t until about the midway point that he began to think about his feelings of loss and betrayal.   the 2nd half of the story however picked up quite a bit and I ended up liking the book much more than I thought it would.   Full review here.

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Whisper of Scandal by Nicola Cornick.   I’ve wanted to read Cornick ever since I talked to her editor Tara Parsons at RWA this summer.  I choose  Whisper of Scandal because it’s an adventure book that takes place, in part, in the North Pole.    The book had several three-star reviews at goodreads that read like 4 or 5 star reviews which I found baffling until I read the book.  Cornick is a smart writer  and she’s got great dialogue. The story was unusual but part of it wasn’t completely satisfying. I know I’ll read her again because her voice is good and her plots feature different types of characters.

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In the Arms of the Marquess by Katherine Ashe.   Much of the conflict in the story depends upon the hero’s willful misunderstandings of the actions of the heroine.  While the prose is lovely, the hero is one of those who thinks all women are jades and whores.  He seduces the heroine when she is purportedly engaged to another to prove to himself and to her that she’s just like every other woman he has bedded and who has wanted to bed him. My enjoyment of the prose wasn’t able to overcome my dislike of the way in which the angst was contrived.  Full review here

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The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin.  I liked the world and the characters but the denouement was a let down, much like I felt the denouement disappointed in Butterfly Swords.  Full review to come.

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Blood of the Demon by Rosalie Lario.   This is the first book I’ve read from the new publisher Entangled Press, and I liked it.  My  biggest problem was that the story felt short for a paranormal.  It’s around 74,000 words and there definitely was room for more development of the characters.  Full review here.

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Mark of the Sylph by Rosalie Lario.   This October release is the 2nd in the series and while it’s full of interesting and weighty ideas that are never fully explored.  Much of the story is spent on the 2 characters coming onto each other and resisting each other’s advances and ultimately falling in bed.   I really had to force myself to finish this one as I didn’t  feel like it advanced the world that was set up in the 1st book.  I’ll probably read one more in the series to see if this author is one to watch.  Full review to come.

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Fighting Fair by Anne Calhoun.  This is a self published short story that is under 15,000 words and deals with marriage in trouble.   Calhoun has a great voice and her characters feel modern and real.  Unfortunately, I felt that the length of the story was too short for the subject matter.   The story opens with the characters in couples’ therapy  which the husband doesn’t think that they need. One of the impediments to their relationship is the husband’s work and I felt that that was too easily resolved which allows the characters to fall to bed with each other.   I wasn’t convinced that their marriage troubles have been resolved and thus found the story unsatisfying. It’s more of a “it’s not you, it’s me” here, I think.

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

15 Comments

  1. DM
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 10:54:00

    I just tried Cornick for the first time myself, and found her writing gorgeous, but not page turning. My three star review would probably also read like a four star review, because I’m grateful when I hit an author who writes really engaging prose, but I want rising action–plot escalation–too.

  2. Sarah
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 10:57:38

    I love this feature, particularly from you just because your reading tastes tend to mirror my own more than any of the other reviewers here at DA. Going to definitely check out The Father of Her Child and Mistress Bride.

  3. Sao
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 13:11:09

    Re the Kendrick book, Komar means mosquito in Russian, do you think the author knew it when she named the hero Komarov, which is how you’d turn mosquito into a last name?

    Unlike say, Medvedev (bear), Orlov (eagle) or Volkov (wolf) which would be more traditional animals to name a hero after.

  4. Jayne
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 15:02:55

    I read one Cornick (English Civil War) book that I liked but a few others I tried didn’t work well for me.

    Mann is an author I used to read about 7 years ago who wrote some good military h/h books. But she seems to have changed what she writes about now.

    I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the Griffin books.

    What does the tag “Too Proud to be Bought” go with? The Russian mosquito book?

  5. Julie
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 15:06:37

    I love Nicola Cornick and I thought Whisper of Scandal was superb. I’ve read most of her books and adored them. She’s easily one of my favourite writers of historical romance.

  6. DM
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 15:22:55

    @Julie

    I want to try more Cornick titles. Do you have any faces?

  7. Hannah
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 15:33:40

    @Sao:
    At least Komarov seems to be a fairly common Russian last name. Speaking of which, do you remember the Disney film version of Anastasia with a puppy named Pooka? That name translates into Russian as “fart.” You have to wonder if a Russian speaker inserted that into the film as a joke!

  8. Julie
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 15:47:52

    @DM Whisper of Scandal is followed by two other great books. One Wicked Sin about a bad girl who falls on hard times and is forced to become a courtesan and Mistress by Midnight which is about a bluestocking who finds herself attracted to the man who murdered her brother.

    I also really love her Fortune’s Folly series which comprises Confessions of a Duchess (old lovers reunite), The Scandals of an Innocent (one of my all time favourite historicals – heroine is a housemaid who inherits a fortune) and The Undoing of a Lady (a wayward lady falls in love with her best friend.

    She also used to write for Harlequin Historicals. I especially enjoyed The Notorious Lord, One Night of Scandal, The Rake’s Mistress, The Earl’s Prize, Wayward Widow and True Colours, which are all Regencies. She also wrote Lord Greville’s Captive, a fantastic Civil War book and The Last Rake in London, set in Edwardian England.

    Sorry for the long post – as you can tell I am a huge fan!

  9. Jayne
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 16:36:16

    @DM:

    She also wrote Lord Greville’s Captive, a fantastic Civil War book

    That’s the one I read. There should be a review of it here.

  10. John
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 16:46:54

    I loved the one Emma Darcy Presents I read…His Housekeeper Mistress, or something to that affect. It wasn’t alphahole/doormat like most Presents. Had some undertones of a sweeter romance. It also dealt with economic issues, which were a reason the heroine worked for the hero in the first place. I felt like it was so well done and *different* from the Presents I usually read. Good to see that her quality is more than a one-time affair.

  11. Kim
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 17:04:12

    I haven’t read a Caroline Linden book yet.Perhaps this isn’t the one to start with. This is the second review I’ve seen that wasn’t crazy about the ebook.

  12. Statch
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 17:24:35

    I also love this feature! I’ve read one book by Sharon Kendrick (Getting Even) and liked it enough to buy more, though I haven’t read them yet. I’ve also read one by Emma Darcy (His Bought Mistress) that I didn’t finish. Unfortunately, all I have is the note not to buy more, and I don’t remember why I didn’t finish it. It must be scary for authors to think that one book can have such an effect.

    I’ve been on a Harlequin Treasury kick lately, and just finished Hot Surrender by Charlotte Lamb. I should have hated it, because the hero does some things at the beginning that are just totally over the line, but I couldn’t put it down, and I bought more by her. (Over the line definition: He walks into the heroine’s home and when she naturally, because she doesn’t know him, tells him to leave, he drags her upstairs and locks her into her bedroom with him so that he can use her shower.He can’t understand why she’s afraid There’s a reason why he does it, but…what????)

    There are obviously very complex reasons why we like the Harlequins we like. I hope so, at least, because I really don’t think I want to be hit over the head with a club and dragged off to some he-man’s cave. I wish someone would do a Pandora application for Harlequins, so I could figure out in advance which ones I’m going to like, instead of just buying mass quantities.

    Hmmm, that gives me an idea for a post. Maybe one of you could list a bunch of Harlequin authors and what kinds of books they tend to write, with a ‘representative’ title listed, then ask people to comment and add with their own lists? We’d all end up with an awesome shopping list!

  13. Jaclyn
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 18:12:06

    I’ve only read books by two of these authors, Calhoun and Lin. Now I want to read Griffin and Cornick. What would I do without a towering TBR? ;)

  14. Sandra
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 18:14:18

    I’ve read all the previous Linden’s (except her first, which is OOP and doesn’t seem to be available as an e-book [hint!]) and pre-ordered the new one. It’s downloaded to my nook, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. There’s a prequel e-book only novella for $.99 that might be a good place to start.

    I went for the first of Griffin’s Tracers books after reading the review for Snapped. Really liked it and have started on the second. I’ll probably end up polishing the whole series off over the holiday weekend.

  15. SonomaLass
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 20:45:48

    I had a similar reaction to Whisper of Scandal. It was my first book by this author, coincidentally just this past week, and I liked it but didn’t love it. Somehow the emotion just didn’t get to me, and I don’t know why. I did like the handling of the heroine’s possible infertility, however — I was dreading where that would go, and it didn’t. I will definitely read another Cornick historical.

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