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Lorelie Brown

Reading List for Jane, Week of August 13

Reading List for Jane, Week of August 13

This is more a list of what I read last week because I don’t know what I am going to read this week.  Last week I read:

Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid by Maureen Driscoll.  This was sent to me by the author. The pitch was really good.  The book not so much.  Standard fare Regency historical that pays no attention to societal restrictions in order to get the couple together.  Also a secret baby story.  It took me days (4) to finish this book.  Full review to come.

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Wild & Steamy by Carolyn Crane, Jill Myles, Meljean Brook. I liked all three stories although there wasn’t any consistent theme among the three.  I understand that there was some angst over Crane’s female protagonist but having not read the previous stories, I didn’t find the character objectionable.  Meljean’s story made me mad because a) it was short and b) I don’t have another Iron Seas book to read until next year.  Jill’s story is fun. I consider Jill a friend, though, so take my recommendation with that proviso.

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Hidden Talents by Emma Holly.  It’s a shapeshifter, etc. alternate reality story based on fated mate bonds.  It’s fairly decent erotic romance but it’s short and the emotional connection is underdeveloped. At the beginning of chapter two, Holly has a gay character use the word ‘faggot’ in reference to himself. I visibly recoiled.

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To the Brink by Cindy Gerard.  This is a marriage in trouble story recommended by the readers to last Tuesday’s thread.  I liked it but I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see the fallout from breakup.  Gerard writes several flashback scenes including how the couple met, got together and what led up to the breakup, but not the actual breakup itself and I felt emotionally robbed.

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A Whirlwind Marriage by Helen Brooks.  A marriage in trouble story recommended by Saly on Twitter.  It was a great read and very different in feel than past Brooks books. Brooks often writes about the heroine who wants to stay at home and have children and devote herself to her family.  She often has her characters refer to those “driven career women” as hard and uninterested in family.  But in this book, the heroine married young and felt suffocated. She wanted to have a life outside the marriage and this leads her to leave her extremely wealthy husband and rent out a dingy bedsit and work at a grocery store until she can start university classes.  Her husband wants her back but until he comes to accept her desire to have a career and a family, they can’t have their HEA.  Full review to come.

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Bad Girl By Night: A H.O.T. Cops Novel by Lacey Alexander. I meant to press the “send a sample” button but inadvertently hit the “buy” button. Oh, Amazon.  Your technology is too easy at times.  I haven’t liked previous Alexander books in the past which is why I wanted to try a sample, fortunately, I ended up liking this a lot.  There are definitely problems in this book but I’ve struggled to find erotic romances that have a good emotional arc and this one does.

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Touch of Crimson by Sylvia Day.  I’ve really enjoyed the short story contributions by Day in the upcoming Men Out of Uniform and another one (the title of which I can’t recall) but I haven’t been able to get into the historical books. I picked this up because I figure it would feature the Day contemporary voice.  There is a kernel of a very good story in this book, but because of the “no paranormal being left behind” mantra that seems to be driving the worldbuilding, the overlapping and confusing taxonomy of beings, and the super unlikeable and hypocritical hero made this a disappointing read. Full review to come.

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Catch Me by Lorelie Brown.  This is a historical western and I love the cover.   I’m not wild about the idea  - the heroine robs a bank to pay for medical care for her dad, the town sheriff, and then is hunted down by a bounty hunter who wants to be the town sheriff.  I’ve been reading it off and on for a month now. I don’t know if I am ever going to finish it.  I keep hoping that at some point I’ll start being lost in the text but it hasn’t happened for me.

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Bride for Real by Lynne Graham.  Apparently this is a sequel to a previous Graham book.  I think this is the second time this year that Harlequin Presents have had sequels to a book but haven’t really given the reader a heads up about it.  The sequel starts off with the couple in the previous book having broken up, so a marriage in trouble trope. I found parts of the story kind of interesting because the secret baby in this story was the hero’s that he created with a different woman while the heroine and hero were separated (but not divorced).  For some the infidelity might be hard to overcome.  My problem was with how superficial some of the issues regarding the couple’s separation were treated.  I did like the idea that the heroine didn’t want to accept the hero’s baby and how the hero’s baby paralleled her own life (she was the out of wedlock child in her family).

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REVIEW: Jazz Baby by Lorelie Brown

REVIEW: Jazz Baby by Lorelie Brown

Jazz Baby by Lorelie BrownDear. Ms. Brown,

If Prohibition/Jazz Age is the new Regency, I say bring it on. This is actually the third book I’ve read recently using this time period and, as far as the era goes, I’ve enjoyed them all. One is m/m, one is m/m/f but readers looking for a m/f story with great conflict need to check this one out.

Micah Trent and his partner work long hours and risk their lives upholding a law that it appears most Americans don’t want enforced. “The Noble Experiment” in prohibiting the sale, manufacture or transport of alcoholic beverages, aka the eighteenth amendment to the US Constitution, is a bust for most Americans who mainly want to go out, wet their whistle a little and have a good time. Increasingly fed up with no help from local law enforcement and feeling like he’s wasting his time busting small time speak-easy owners, Micah lusts to have a shot at bringing down the big time mob families behind the flow of booze in the country.

And it looks like he might get his chance when fate hands him Kate Kirkland, owner and manager of The Kirk, and a possible “in” to going after the Vittorelli family in NYC. At first, Micah just looks at Kate as a beautiful means to an end but soon he begins to admit that she’s becoming a woman he can’t just use and forget. She’s intelligent, hard working, loyal to a fault and carrying a load on her shoulders few women could manage. She’s also viewed by a mob boss’s ne’er-do-well son as an easy mark just because she’s a woman. Can Micah find a crack in Kate’s heart and a solution to the fact that she sells illegal booze and it’s his job to stop her?

I’m so glad you ignored anyone who urged you to write a (do we honestly need any more?) Regency set novel. I want jazz, I want rolled down stockings, I want sleek cars, flapper dresses, It Girls and smoky social clubs (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). The period detail is mood setting without turning into a social documentary. I especially like the contrasts to an older age in the persons of the outraged matrons who witness Kate and Micah kissing (gasp!) in public. For shame! I’m sure they’d be even more shocked at Kate’s backless evening dresses.

Kate a strong heroine up against some tall odds. Her brother is an alcoholic slowly losing himself in bottles of booze, she’s running an illegal establishment which requires safeguards in case of raids and dealing with criminals merely to get what she needs to operate. She doesn’t have time to deal with a smooth talking man who obviously thinks a lot of himself. Or does she? I like that Kate takes her time letting Micah into her personal life and cracks the whip over him in their business dealings as well! She’s tough, she’s determined yet she doesn’t lose the fierce loyalty of her staff or close herself off to others.

Micah starts with a world weary edge but underneath you show how dedicated he is to his job in spite of Joe Average Citizen who’d rather Micah be a slacker and the ruthless mob members who’d kill him for putting a crimp in their operations. With all the risks involved, the attraction which Micah fights for Kate seems all the more powerful. I was thrilled that Micah not only doesn’t care that Kate isn’t a virgin, he’s happy about it. And also happy that Kate offers no apologies for her experience, feels no regrets about it and enjoys sex as much if not more than Micah.

When Kate and Micah finally know each other’s secrets, there’s a lot they have to deal with and accept. Kudos for making Kate demand more truth and honesty from Micah before she’s willing to allow him back into her heart. And I love the way he goes about it, slowly wooing and winning her back. I’m also caught up in the potential romance between Susie and Jake and hope she flips him around a few times for good measure. Patrick sounds like he could be a good angsty type of hero too. I’m a bit confused about the ending of the story. Is Micah still an Agent and is Kate still running a “social club?”

If readers are looking for something different, and I know I am, I hope they look this way. It’s a watershed time in recent US history and not that far in our past, says the woman whose grandmother use to make bathtub gin. And it’s a book filled with characters I enjoyed reading and reading about. B+

~Jayne

Book excerpt | Samhain | Kindle | Books on Board | Fictionwise