Friday, December 4, 2009

The Month That Was November 2009

Here it is. The recap of what I read during the month of November. I managed to get 11 books (OK, some of these are short stories) read, which I feel pretty good about since my reading was definitely feast or famine. I was either ripping through books one after another, or stalling out for days on end. So 11 is fairly respectable for me. Here's how it all breaks down:

Title links will take you to full reviews.

Highland Dragon by Kimberly Killion, Medieval historical romance, 2009, Grade = C-
  • A sexy medieval featuring a feisty tree-climbing heroine and the hero who wants to wed her to unite their feuding clans. She annoyed the crap out of me, he worked fairly well, and I liked a good portion of the conflict. Definitely a mixed bag for me, but if it sounds like your bag, I say go for it baby.
Under the Boss's Mistletoe by Jessica Hart, Harlequin Romance, 2009, Grade = B+
  • A delightful, sweet, contemporary story about a wedding planner heroine who finds herself working for the hero, an uptight CEO who was a "bad boy" when they were kids growing up together. Adult characters who talk to each other, and the tenderness of the romance were big attractions for me. Really enjoyed it.
Sizzling Seduction by Gwyneth Bolton, Kimani Romance, 2009, Part Of Series, Grade = C
  • Another mixed-bag read. I found the conflict surrounding the single mom school teacher heroine quite compelling, but was less enamored with the hero's baggage - which included a crazy ex-wife, a shrewish aunt, and family drama. It reads like a book four in a series as well, but a really good heroine.
Touch Me by Jacquie D'Alessandro, Harlequin Blaze (historical), 2009, Part Of Series, Grade = B
  • I love these Blaze historicals because they're sexy and fun, but they should probably be avoided by readers who get annoyed with wallpaper history. English spy hero travels to country town to seek out former mistress of a murdered peer. Being dumped after ten years, heroine is just now recovering from being spurned when she falls for the hero - who is naturally lying to her about who he really is. If you're not totally sick of spies in Regency England, this one was a quick, solid read.
Cowboy Christmas by Carol Finch, Elizabeth Lane, Pam Crooks, Harlequin Historical, Western anthology, 2009, Part Of Series (sort of), Grade = C
  • A totally "meh" anthology. The Finch story achieves humor and "light" by glossing over some of the conflict. The Lane story is very emotionally charged, but hinged on a plot device I can't stand (just read the damn letter(s) chica!), and the Crooks story is part of a series and felt too much like a "placeholder" to me. Worth a look if you're hooked on Crooks series - but otherwise? Meh.
The Christmas Stranger by Beth Cornelison, Silhouette Romantic Suspense, 2009, Book One In Series, Grade = B-
  • An impulse buy that paid off. Heroine has been widowed for a year (hubby was murdered) and is volunteering at local shelter when she meets down on his luck hero. She hires him to finish renovations on her old farm house and one thing leads to another. Little does the heroine know that the hero is hiding a whopping Big Secret from her. That Big Secret hinges quite a bit on coincidence, and part of the conflict is conveniently wrapped up in the end - but all in all, a solid romantic suspense read with a touch of Christmas flavor.
From Waif To Gentleman's Wife by Julia Justiss, Harlequin Historical, Regency, 2009, Part Of Series, Grade = B
  • I really enjoyed this story, mostly because it was a Regency historical that felt different. Gently born heroine is fired from governess job for something that wasn't her fault. She goes to country estate to find her brother, only to find him missing in action, and the hero in his place. He's hiding a Big Secret and she's running out of options. What to do, what to do?
Remember How I Love You by Jerry & Elaine Orbach, Non-Fiction, 2009, Grade = B+
  • A slim (under 200 pages) biography of actor Jerry Orbach and an ode to his marriage to wife Elaine showcasing some of the silly, funny and heartfelt poems he wrote to her over the years. Also sheds light on the final days of the cancer that ultimately ended his life, and succeeds in portraying him as a genuinely nice guy who adored his wife and life.
Taming Her Irish Warrior by Michelle Willingham, Harlequin Historical, Medieval, 2009, Part Of Series, Grade = C+
  • I really like Willingham's medievals, because she uses Ireland as a setting (huzzah!). This one was just OK for me, mostly because the conflict isn't a favorite of mine. We have a chick in pants heroine who likes to play warrior, and a hero who wants to wed one sister but lusts after the other. It actually works fairly well (if you go for these types of plots), although after a while I got a little annoyed with the characters for their constant "He/She isn't good enough for me" claptrap. It's OK, but I've enjoyed other books by this author more.
The Birthday Present by Alison Richardson, Spice Briefs, Historical erotica eBook short story, Part Of Series, Grade = C+
  • Book three in a series featuring a snooty, snobby Countess and the low-born Scot she's been dragging around by his nose Mr. Happy. This story wraps up the trilogy nicely, with no loose ends and I, once again, really liked the author's writing style. However it's one of those series that ends favorably for a character who, I feel, gets way more than she deserves. It ends "well" for her, and I'm not sure how "happy" I am about that.
The Tale Of The Dancing Girl by Grace D'Otare, Spice Briefs, Historical erotic-romance eBook short story, Part Of Series, Grade = B+
  • This was a nice surprise! Husband gets his kicks by having his wife tell him naughty stories. Her latest tale is about the widowed heroine who disguises herself as one of the Khan's dancing girls for a performance and is horrified to discover Army hero in audience. Disguise or not, he knows it's the woman he's been trying to catch the eye of. He seeks her out and one thing leads to another. An erotic, and yes romantic, story. Well done.
I'm split just about down the middle between B and C reads, but I still feel like I had a really good month. There are a few B+ reads on this list (huzzah!) and I discovered a few promising authors I want to read more of (D'Otare, Justiss, and Hart especially). I'm also glad I read the Orbach book, as it was a nice pallet cleanser and quite touching. All in all, a solid month.


Magdalen said...

Re: The Christmas Stranger.
Let me see if I have this straight. She volunteers at a local shelter and meets the man who will actually come help her out at her farmhouse? Now that's a happy ending! Forget the romance. I want the happily ever after when I find a handy-man (or woman) who will come help me with my 200+ year old house.

Wendy said...

Magdalen: LOL! Yeah, the hero has been surviving on odd construction jobs, and he's in between work when heroine proposes he help her finish renovations on her farm house. I thought that sounded like a happy ending too! Especially since he showed up on time, worked hard, and got the work completed within the time frame she wanted :)

Katie Mack said...

Much better month than last month, eh? The Tale of the Dancing Girl sounds good. Hopefully I'll get to that this weekend.

Tara Marie said...

That's a nice mix of books. I've enjoyed the couple of Blaze Historicals I've read, they're perfect for a quick read. I thought the Alison Richardsons' looked interesting but still can't decide on them.

The Christmas Stranger and the Tale of a Dancing Girl both sounded good.

Like I need more books for my TBR pile : )

Wendy said...

Katie: A lot better month than last. October was Reading Slump From Hell Month.

TM: The Dear Author reviewer (can't remember which one now) graded the Richardson's a lot higher than I did - I believe mostly on the strength of the writing. The writing IS really, very good. For that reason alone this short story trilogy is probably worth reading IMHO.

It's the heroine. I don't need to "like" the characters per se, but there needs to be "something" there. I loved her "voice" - but her basic temperament and beliefs (which felt true to the time period) were a bit grating for me - leaving me with that slightly unsatisfied feeling that I wasn't sure I wanted her to have a positive ending.

But the writing was great. Can't really argue with that at all.

nath said...

Nice list, Wendy :D

Seriously, does the length of the books matter? You're reading! :D and it sounded like you had a good month :D