But, on the bright side - look at my Armando. Isn't he a cutie-patootie? And he's now got a shiny red Corvette convertible from General Motors to drive around in.
Now, on to books. Even with the Super Librarian Parental Units in town the first part of the month, I managed to get 9 books read. It helped that the majority were category romances I agreed to read for an RWA chapter contest. So, for that reason, the recaps on those books will be....not as thorough. As in, no grades. But I'll do my best to convey my thoughts so y'all get the gist. Here we go!
Bride Of The Living Dead by Lynne Murray, Contemporary Chick Lit, 2010, Grade = B
- Chick Lit about a "fat girl" who finds her Prince Charming, and in a moment of insanity, lets her parents talk her into letting her anorexic sister help plan the wedding. Light and fluffy, featuring an unconventional heroine.
- My read for Keishon's TBR Challenge almost made my brain bleed. Instead of growing a spine, heroine runs back to her hometown and lucks out when the sugary Beta hero steps in to fix her entire life. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Knocked-Up Heroine, Beta Hero Who Can Cook, Big Secret.
- Heroine lands a job on a Food Network-like cooking show thanks to her BFF (who just happens to be a princess). There she runs up against the celebrity chef hero, who is licking his wounds over his ex-wife and a scandal that has rocked his career. Worth a look for Harlequin Presents fans, since this one had a lot of similarities to that line (but way lighter on the sex - hey, this is a SSE). Not a book I would have picked up on my own, but this one was solid. I would read this author again. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Every Woman Heroine, Alpha Hero Done Wrong By Ex, Glam Setting (France).
- Heroine on the cusp of her 10th high school reunion realizes she's abandoned her "dream" to work in film, and enters an amateur filmmakers competition. She wants to make a documentary about an old lodge on some property her family is planning to sell. Photojournalist hero comes home to discover the lodge his family has managed for 100 years is getting sold out from under them. Naturally the Big Secret hangs on for too long, but the setting is quite good, and I enjoyed the inclusion of the heroine's BFF, an aspiring actress. I would read this author again. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Heroine Who Hides Her True Identity, PTSD Sufferin' Hero, Kindly Grandparents, Big Secret, One Proposal-Poppin' Boyfriend Who Won't Take A Hint.
- The big pleasant surprise in my contest reading! Heroine is the maid of honor in her BFF's wedding, and has basically been the "go-to" gal when it comes to making sure everything runs smoothly. Workaholic hero is the best man, and with mutual lust, they agree to a "temporary fling." He lives in Atlanta, she's moving to the Alabama coast a week after the wedding. Honestly? This is an HP for readers who think they "don't like" HPs. You just have to be willing to look past the overblown title and equally overblown back cover copy. A few more pages and this easily could have been a Blaze. I have definite plans to read more stories by this author. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Just A Fling Please, Workaholic Hero, Type A Heroine, But But But...I Can't Tell Him/Her How I Really Feel!
- Laid-off journalist heroine swallows pride and takes a job in corporate PR department because she needs to eat. Turns out her new boss (the hero) is the a man she almost did the dirty deed with several years back after they hooked up at a Halloween costume party. She's still nursing a crush and he....doesn't recognize her! This is part of a multi-author series, and reads like it. There's quite a bit of back story and series-setting-up competing with the main romance, and it wasn't always an easy mix. Still, a solid read and I'm open to reading more books by O'Brien. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Family Business Runnin' Hero, Ex-Journalist Heroine, Big Secret, Control-Freak Daddy, Seemingly Spineless Mama.
- About to deliver her baby, heroine's BFF makes her promise to look after the child should something happen to her. When she dies, social worker heroine gets creative with the paperwork, but starts asking questions. In response, the baby gets kidnapped. Newly hired hero working for a private investigation firm learns the baby is his, and works overtime to find his son. Evenly paced suspense novel hindered by a skeevy secret baby set-up, some unfortunate plot spoon-feeding, and a motive I found really thin. That said, I would consider reading this author again if the back cover blurb hit me the right way. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: PI Hero Haunted By Case Gone Bad, Secret Baby, Unrequited Crush, Heroine Who Makes Death Bed Promise.
- Heroine looking for a fresh start moves to small town to open her own cafe. Worried for a recently widowed man she meets at the grocery store, she hires him to build her some picture frames. Hero is concerned to hear his still-grieving father is spending a lot of time with some strange woman, and is afraid he's being taken advantage of. When he shows up to investigate, he falls hard for the heroine. Nice, gentle story with nice, gentle conflict. The author avoids some obvious pitfalls, and even when she goes down Cliche Road, it's a short trip (paragraphs/couple of pages instead of WHOLE chapters or half the book). I am so reading more Milburn. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Hero Done Wrong By Ex, Kindly Widower Father, Heroine Looking For Fresh Start, Big Secret.
- Doctor heroine returns to small town and runs up against the hero, who doesn't like her all that much because she was BFFs with his younger, now dead, brother. Poorly written and executed back story, improbable character behavior, a pre-teen girl who needs a beating or to be locked in an attic (I can't decide which) and a conflict thread that paints small town residents as ignorant yokels. Doubtful I'll read more by this author, especially since the plan is for more books in this series. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Doctor Heroine Who Moves Back To Small Town Even Though Everyone There Sucks, Hero Haunted By His Past, Adversaries!, 12-Year-Old Niece Going On 25, Small Town Residents Who Think It's 1950.