Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Month That Was January 2011

Lemon Drop: Look Auntie Wendy!  I have a book!  It's made with this funny stuff that Mommy calls "paper...."

Me: Wow, how'd you get your hands on Mommy's book shelves?

Lemon Drop: Silly Auntie Wendy - I crawled over to it, of course!  This crawling thing is really neat-o.  Like The Great Baby Migration!  I'm a girl on the go, go, go!

Me: Hey, slow down there fireball.  Do you want to hang tight long enough to hear about what I read last month?

Lemon Drop:  Anything naughty?

Me: Well, 'fraid not.  But there are some decent reads to discuss.  I read six whole books last month.  I started out like a house on fire, and then kind of hit the skids in the second half.  But all books this month - and no padding my totals with short stories.  Here they are:

(Title links will take you to full reviews)

Guns And The Girl Next Door by HelenKay Dimon, romantic suspense, Harlequin Intrigue, 2011, Part of Series, Grade = B
  • Heroine on the run after her boss tries to kill her in the middle of the woods runs up against the hero, a secret agent who also has ties to her boss.  Good action, a nice sense of urgency, and believable love scenes (no stopping to have sex while bad guys are shooting at them).  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Secret Agent Hero, Heroine On The Run, Sequel Baitin' Hunky Hunks, Political Intrigue
Mommy Said Goodbye by Janice Kay Johnson, romantic suspense, Harlequin SuperRomance, 2004, Part of Series, Grade = B+
  • When his wife disappears without a trace, hero finds himself living with a constant cloud of suspicion hanging over his head.  Then he learns that his son's new teacher is none other than one of his wife's former friends.  Great suspense thread, wonderful conflict, but did feel at times that the romance got a little lost in the shuffle.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Hero Under Suspicion, Teacher Heroine, One Troubled Young Boy, One Bubbly Little Girl, One Missing Wife
Revelations by Janice Kay Johnson, romantic suspense, Harlequin SuperRomance, 2004, Part of Series, Grade = B+
  • Cop heroine has suspicions her father was murdered after some of his cronies also die in mysterious "accidents."  As if that weren't enough, she's developing feelings for her partner, the hero.  Smart, capable heroine with a vulnerable interior.  Great hero who recognizes her worth and is attracted to her....even before she buys some flattering clothes and starts wearing make-up.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Cop Heroine With Daddy Issues, Cop Hero, One Bitter Ex Wife, Two Kidlets
Darkwood Manor by Jenna Ryan, Gothic romantic suspense, Harlequin Intrigue, 2011, Grade = D
  • Heroine inherits creepy old mansion from ex and runs up against mysterious hero who has family ties to the place.  When her beloved cousin disappears and spooky happenings begin, they unite forces to solve the mystery.  A lack of urgency, a hero who never fleshes out, annoying secondary characters, and a laughable villain doomed this one for me.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: FBI Hero, Career Gal Heroine, One Missing Cousin, One Haunted Mansion, Superstitious Town Folk.
Now the reads with no full reviews.  Yeah, I suck:

Tempting a Proper Lady by Debra Mullins, historical romance, Avon, 2010, Part of Series, Grade = C
  • A Victorian historical that was a mixed bag.  Heroine hoping to recover her reputation after her worthless husband dies is planning the wedding of an American heiress and a nobleman in need of funds.  Then the American hero shows up claiming he was engaged to the heiress first and that the nobleman dumped him on a deserted island where he's been for the last 2 years.  Great heroine that carried the book for me.  Also am a sucker for American hero in England trope (more so than American heroine....).  However aspects of this plot strained (while on the deserted island the hero just happened across pirate treasure ::snort::), and the plot felt loosey-goosey at times.  But all in all, a pleasant read even if it didn't knock my socks off.  Might read next book in series depending on back cover blurb.
The House on Sugar Plum Lane by Judy Duarte, inspirational women's fiction, Kensington, 2010, Part of Series, Grade = C
  • Women's fiction with inspirational overtones.  Heroine on brink of divorce rents house in coastal California town that used to belong to her recently deceased mother's biological grandmother (Mommy was given up for adoption).  She's snooping for the truth because it was so desperately important to her mother during her final days.  Several secondary characters round out the story.  An OK story, although I thought the heroine's decision to dump her marriage just because her husband was a workaholic strained (Um, maybe she could have tried talking to the guy first before declaring she wanted a divorce?  Just sayin').  Also as the story wears on, the inspirational elements take on the subtlety of a sledgehammer.  But if you know someone who loves Debbie Macomber's brand of women's fiction?  This series would make a good read-a-like suggestion. 
Lemon Drop: Only four full reviews Auntie Wendy?  Did you get lazy when the calendar flipped to 2011?

Me: Well, yeah.  And sometimes with C reads I just don't have enough to say to stretch out into a full review.  This was one (OK, two) of those times.

Lemon Drop:  And no naughtiness?!  A girl cannot live on Are You My Mother? alone.  Sure, it's suspenseful....but not naughty.

Me: I'll try to do better next month sweetie.  Hey, I've got at least one ebook on tap for February that should promise some shenanigans.

Lemon Drop: Good.  Because if you don't corrupt me, who will?  I have it on good authority that it's one of your duties as my aunt.

Me: Oh boy....


Lori said...

You need another tag for "Conversations with Lemonn Drop." That poor little girl is going to be so corrupted by age 2 it's not even funny.

Marie-Thérèse said...

I loved the bit about the characters seemingly never having seen an episode of 'Scooby Doo' in the TGTBTU review of 'Darkwood Manor'. Such culturally impoverished folk are definitely not characters I want to be spending much time with so I plan to give the book a pass, despite the fact that I'm a major Gothic fan. (Agree with you that it's difficult to write a convincing contemporary Gothic. I've been on a Barbara Michaels kick and, as much as I adore her work in general, I have to admit that her historical spook stories work better than her more contemporary exmaples.)

Also, Lemon Drop! Squee! She gets cuter every month!

Liza said...

It really is your job as an aunt to corrupt Lemon Drop. ;)

Lemon Drop just gets cuter every single month.

nath said...

LOL, I hope she stumbles across these conversations in 10-15 years, Wendy :P Always makes me smile!! and she's at the crawling stage? That's a fun one! :) I love pulling (gently) on their to legs LOL. And gosh, the fun of still being flexible and pliable... She's at a 90 degrees, right?

Hmmm, been a while I haven't read a Debra Mullins... I do agree American hero is more interesting :)

Leslie said...

Lemon Drop is adorable as always!

Isn't it amazing how fast kids can move when they're crawling?

I just got the HelenKay Dimon book. Good to know "no stopping to have sex while bad guys are shooting at them", that's one of my pet peeves.

Wendy said...

Lori: Yeah, I need to go back and re-tag. Right now she's just appearing on my monthly recaps. We'll see for how long though. I imagine she'll eventually hit an age where these conversations won't really work anymore :)

Marie: I so wanted to like Darkwood Manor and it ended up not working for me at all. Bother. And I gorged on Barbara Michaels as a teen. Was never a fan of her paranormal-y stuff, but her romantic suspense stories? Happy, happy sigh.

Liza: I haven't seen her in ages either! I need to make a visit in person soon!

Nath: She's really good at crawling now, and is trying to get the hang of standing up :)

Leslie: I tend to despise romantic suspense stories where the couple is in IMMEDIATE danger, yet they can stop to have some nookie. "Darling, I know there are drug runners firing automatic weapons at us, but dang, I really need to get you naked with your ankles up around my ears right now." Blah.

Sarah said...

Are You My Mother suspenseful. Oh man, I love that Lemon Drop!

Wendy said...

Sarah: She just got the cloth book version of AYMM. My sister says it's really cute! And LOL - it is kinda suspenseful. That poor baby bird has to fly all over the place looking for it's Mom :)

SarahT said...

Lemon Drop is adorable! Has she read 'Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy' by Lynley Dodd? That was my kids' favourite book when they were very little and I'm so sorry they've outgrown it.

Gail Dayton said...

Lemon Drop is such a cutie!

Oh! And Revelations is a follow-up (sorta) to Mommy Said Goodbye! Good. I liked the character in MSG (which I just read, like last week. Yeah, 2/3) and I think I'll like reading more about her. Good-oh.

Hmm. TBR review is due next week, right? I'll be off helping w/new grandbaby (crossing fingers that it's a girl as expected--love my grandboys, but we need a girl in the bunch), so maybe I can figure out how to do it early. I finally have a laptop to take with me...

Wendy said...

Sarah: I don't think so...mostly because we're still buidling up her book collection :)

Gail: Yep, next Wednesday. I have a reminder going up tomorrow. And fingers crossed that a girl gets added to the bunch!