Friday, July 2, 2010

The Month That Was June 2010

Wow. I'm not sure how it happened, but I managed to get through ten books in June. OK, so technically nine books since I ended up slapping one of these with a DNF. My C grades were higher than I like, but there were a handful of stand-outs this past month. Here's how it breaks down:

Title links will take you to full reviews.

Song Of Seduction by Carrie Lofty - Carina Press, Historical romance ebook, 2010, Grade = B+
  • A passionate romance set in Salzburg against a classical music backdrop. Two deeply emotionally scarred characters, excellent use of history, and passion that sings off the pages. I did find the pacing a bit slow going in the beginning, but everything else about this story is a real winner.
One Night In Texas by Jane Sullivan - Harlequin Temptation, 2005, Grade = D+
  • Another duddy read for Keishon's TBR Challenge. Secret Agent Man hero runs up against heroine, a woman he had a sizzling affair with for a week and got his Dear Jane letter as thanks. A hero who lies for a living and a heroine who can't seem to control her hormones around the hero even though he treats her like dirt. Joy. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Secret Agent Hero Who Had A Crap Childhood, Reunited, A Heroine Who Keeps Losing Her Panties, Grovel Scene At End.
Erotique: Alex by Susan Lyons - Spice Briefs, Erotic romance short story ebook, 2010, Grade = C
  • The final story (uh, I think) in a Spice Briefs trilogy. Erotic romance author in need of inspiration goes to exclusive sex club (seriously is there like one of these on every corner in Erotic Romancelandia?) and hooks up with former crush. The back story gave me some pause (she was a 22-year-old student teacher and he a 19-year-old student when they met) and the way safe sex was handled in this story annoyed me. But, this entire trilogy has been spicy and steamy while not being kinky and weird - so if you're desperate for "hot vanilla," these may be right up your alley.
The Irish Warrior by Kris Kennedy - Kensington Zebra, Medieval historical romance, 2010, Grade = B
  • Warrior hero and independent-minded heroine find themselves on the run together thanks to eviiiilllll villain. A strong Alpha hero who falls hard for the heroine and will do anything to protect her. Intelligent heroine who finds her family roots coming back to haunt her. An excellent, well-done medieval. Strongly recommended.
Parker's Price by Ann Bruce - Carina Press, Contemporary romance ebook, 2010, Grade = C
  • Category length romance featuring a yummy beyond words Alpha hero and a heroine whose conflict response didn't really work for me. Sizzling sex scenes, and did I mention the yummy hero? Worth a look, especially for Harlequin Presents and Silhouette Desire fans.
Night Moves by HelenKay Dimon - Harlequin Intrigue, Romantic suspense, 2010, Grade = B
  • Brainiac heroine is being framed for an explosion that destroys the research lab where she was working. She turns to the hero for help, a man she has an uncomfortable past with. Intelligent characters, plenty of action scenes, and some nice tweakage of a common Harlequin trope. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Inexperienced Heroine, Disgraced Former Cop Hero, Framed And On The Run.
Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist - Bethany House, Inspirational historical romance, 2010, Grade = B
  • A romance between a parlormaid and a footman set at the Vanderbilt's Biltmore estate. Light touch with the inspirational elements, excellent use of history, but I could have used a little more oomph to the romance.
Island Fantasy by Kayla Perrin - Kimani Romance, Contemporary romance, 2010, Grade = C+
  • Heroine calls off wedding after she catches fiance' cheating. She keeps the honeymoon though, heads to Jamaica and gets her groove back with sexy hero. The conflict lacked enough juice to keep me interested, and this book dragged for the majority. However, great sassy heroine, hunky hero, and some angst during the final third salvage the proceedings. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Jilted Heroine, Widower Hero, One Lyin' Cheatin' Ex, Family, Is This Love?
The Horseman's Bride by Elizabeth Lane - Harlequin Historical, Early 20th century western romance, 2010, Grade = DNF
  • Petulant spoiled brat heroine who wants to raise champion race horses on her Daddy's ranch gets into argument with drifter hero in chapter one because he had the gall to repair her elderly grandmother's broken fence. Seriously, the nerve of the man! Also, when it became apparent that 19-year-old heroine was still unaware of the family baggage that's been hauled out over the previous two books of the series, I knew the author was going to have to let her in on it during this book and frankly? I'm over it. Dropped it after the first couple of chapters, so no full-length review.
Miss Winthrope's Elopement by Christine Merrill - Harlequin Historical, Historical romance, 2010, Grade = C+
  • Wanting to get out from under her brother's thumb, heroine decides to elope with perfect stranger she pulls out of the muck near Gretna Green. When it turns out he's a Duke, things get complicated. Nice heroine saddled with a hero who I thought was a slimy asshole. However, strong romantic scenes and really good chemistry step in to save the day. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Bookish Plain Jane Heroine, Rake Hero, Evil Other Woman, Marriage Of Convenience.
I'm hoping to keep the momentum going through July, especially since I have an obscene backlog of Harlequins. I don't want Sybil to show up on my doorstep and break my legs....


Lori said...

Ahhh. Now I see why you asked if I'd read The Horseman's Bride yet. And I'm glad my answer was no :)

SarahT said...

Maybe there was something in the air in June. I also read more books than I usually do. Long may it last! I might finally get my TBR pile under control.

I read 'The Borrowed Bride' by Elizabeth Lane when it first came out. I found it an OK read but I wasn't inspired to try reading the second brother's story. He was such a rat in the first book that I wasn't convinced he could be credibly redeemed in the sequel.

Wendy said...

Lori: Let me put it this way - after a couple of chapters I felt that the apple hadn't fallen far from the tree. Sigh.

Sarah: Your instinct about the brother's story was right on the money. That was actually my major problem with Book #2. I felt like he hadn't "learned" anything and his romance took place 6 years after the events in The Borrowed Bride. He was still a selfish ass. I felt bad for the heroine. I really liked her lots :(

Lynne Connolly said...

RE: Sybil: You and me both, Wendy! But I've found a few good Harlequins after a few months of meh books. And one great big giant fail.

Christine Merrill said...

Eagerly awaiting the full review on Miss Winthorpe, and tempted to quote the "slimy asshole" part, which is making me grin.
When I made him, I knew he would not be getting buckets of universal love. I based him on Bill Clinton (but prettier, and without the junk food addiction).

And this is a sincere thank you, BTW. Because I do like honest opinions.

Senetra said...


I enjoyed Miss Winthrop enough to order the MB sequel via Book Depository but I haven't read it yet. I do agree the hero did lack some moral boundaries. That was his best friend!

Kristie (J) said...

Hey!! We tied. I read 10 in the month of June too. So far I've read 3 in July - well, 2 were carry overs from June - but still, I'm hoping to get even more read in the month of July. So far this is a record breaking year for me.

Amy said...

If I didn't love ya so much, I'd hate you for reading the Gerritsen book. :-p

Wendy said...

Lynne: At this point I don't think I'll ever catch up :(

Christine: Unless the schedule gets reworked, it's set right now to post on the 8th.

Senetra: I know! That was his BFF! Just so verra verra wrong - LOL

KristieJ: I wish I could say I'm breaking records this year - but I think I'm on the exact same pace I was last year at this point.

Amy: Well now you'll really hate me - that book is kicking ass so far! OMG - so good! I've got a little over 100 pages left. Ran out this week and picked up my copy at Costco. Gerritsen is one of the very few authors I pay hard cover prices for, and there was no way in heck I was going to be able to wait for a library copy....

Anonymous said...

" " Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist - Bethany House, Inspirational historical romance, 2010, Grade = B

•A romance between a parlormaid and a footman set at the Vanderbilt's Biltmore estate. Light touch with the inspirational elements, excellent use of history, but I could have used a little more oomph to the romance. " "

How do I ask/say this without sounding witchy?

You knew it was an inspirational going in so didn't you assume/know that there would be no oomph to the romance?

That would be like watching a porno movie and wanting there to be less sex in it.

Ain't going to happen

Wendy said...

Anon: "Oomph" in this case has absolutely NOTHING at all to do with sex and everything to do with chemistry. From my full review:

Given that this is an inspirational, "God stuff" should be expected. It's actually light to non-existent for the first half of the story. It becomes more prevalent in the latter half, as Tillie wrestles with the notion of what she really wants out of her life. The romance here is solid, but I actually wished it had been developed a bit more thoroughly. The attraction between Mack and Tillie is quite obvious. What isn't so obvious is them "falling in love." I wanted a lot more "how and why" and instead it just sort of "happens."

Rosie said...

I found the Gist in the bookstore on Friday. The "romantic" inspys used to be filed in Romance, since my B&N reorg a couple of weeks ago they are now filed with "religious fiction". Whatever. So glad you DNF the Lane. I hate to think it's just me. *g*

Wendy said...

Rosie: When I like Lane, I really like her, and other times I find her books a struggle. This is the second book in her backlist that I've DNF'ed.

I liked the first book in this series (trilogy?) but after that it's been downhill for me. I'm ready for her to move on to different characters me thinks.....