Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Month That Was June 2012

Me: Elton John called.  He wants his glasses back.

Lemon Drop: You are just jealous Auntie Wendy.

Me: Yeah, that must be it.

Lemon Drop: You wish you were this fierce and fabulous!  RAWR!!

Me: Well while we're all basking in the glow of your fabulousity, how about we discuss what I read last month?  I managed to read 10 books this month.  Sort of.

Title links will take you to full reviews.

First Things First by Barbara Delinsky - Contemporary romance, Harlequin Temptation, 1985, Grade = C
  • St. Martin's has been releasing several of Delinsky's older category romances digitally, and H&H asked me to tackle a couple of them for blog posts.  This story holds up amazingly well, and with a few minor tweaks (mostly involving fashion choices), it reads like a story that could have been written last week.  However while I liked the hero, I was disappointed that the strong, interesting heroine morphs into a bit of a sad sack at the end.  Still, not sorry I read it - and interesting on several levels.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: One Made Over Hero, Private Eye Heroine, One Overbearin' Mama, But What I Really Want To Do Is Go Back To School!, Big Secret
A Little More Scandal by Carrie Lofty - Historical romance novella ebook, Pocket, 2012, Grade = B
  • Digital prequel to Lofty's Christie series.  Loved the Victorian back-drop.  I also enjoyed both romantic leads, although admittedly they're both a teensy bit mercenary.
The Last Real Cowboy by Donna Alward - Contemporary romance, Harlequin Romance, 2012, Grade = B
  • Former social worker heroine finds herself working with the hero to get her women's shelter off the ground.  The rub being that they're like oil and water when they're together.  Plenty of angst and baggage, a nice emotional read.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Cowboy Hero, Heroine Done Wrong, Mommy Issues, Illin' Daddy
To Rescue or To Ravish? by Barbara Monajem - Historical romance short story ebook, Harlequin Historical Undone, 2012, Grade = C+
  • Heroine running away from an arranged marriage runs smack dab into her former childhood love - a vicar's son and now self-made man.  I had issues with the historical "feel" of this short story, but Monajem is pro when it comes to this short format.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Vile Guardian, Self-Made Hero, I'll Marry Who I Want To!, Richie Rich Heroine
Rake With a Frozen Heart by Marguerite Kaye - Historical romance, Harlequin Historical, 2012, Grade = B
  • Heroine gets conked on the head after interrupting a burglary and wakes up in the hero's bed.  A hero who happens to be a notorious rake.  Loved the dialogue and adventure storyline, but felt the pacing bogged down in the middle.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Rake Hero, Governess Heroine, Vile Social Climbing Villain, Missing Jewels!, Road Romance
The Rebel Rancher by Donna Alward - Contemporary romance, Harlequin Romance, 2012, Grade = A-
  • Sequel to The Last Real Cowboy, hero with family baggage finds himself attracted to the heroine, still gun-shy thanks to her abusive a-hole ex.  A couple that is perfectly matched and a storyline that hits all the right notes.  Alward has consistently been "good" for me, and this has been the best to date.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Heroine Done Wrong, Rodeo Hero, Mommy Daddy and Uncle Issues, Baby Makes Three
I Love This Bar by Carolyn Brown - Contemporary romance, Sourcebooks, 2010, Grade = DNF
  • I started thinking of this book as Redneck Hell.  You have three secondary characters, triplets, with names like Billy Bob, Joe Bob and Jim Bob and the town slut's nickname is "Chigger."  I suspect these secondary characters were supposed to be funny and colorful, but frankly I get bored reading about caricatures - and this troop never elevated themselves past that.  Also a bartender heroine who is some sort of poor man's veterinarian?  A hero who is taking care of a relative who is supposed to have Alzheimer's - but frankly just read like a grumpy old man on the page?  Also, some pretty atrocious head-hopping in the early chapters.  I was bored.  I didn't care.  I read a third of it before chucking it in the "get rid of it somewhere" pile.
High Country Bride by Jillian Hart - Historical inspirational romance, Love Inspired Historical, 2008, Grade = C+
  • My TBR Challenge read of the month.  Hart slathers on the angst, and I liked the set-up, but after a while the heroine's amazingly tolerant nature started to grate on me.  Get angry damn you!  Get angry!  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Heroine Done Wrong, Two Kidlets, Widowed Hero, I Can Never Love Again!
My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin - Historical romance, Harlequin Historical, 2012, Grade = B-
  • My Fair Lady hits China.  Hero employs the heroine to take his sister's place in arranged (political) marriage after Dear Ol' Sis runs away from home.  A slow starter, but the emotional moments in this story are really gut-wrenching.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: My Fair Lady, Heroine From Wrong Side of the Tracks, Hero Obsessed With Family Honor, One Runaway Sister, Arranged Marriage
Unexpected Family by Molly O'Keefe - Contemporary romance, Harlequin SuperRomance, 2012, Grade = B+
  • Heroine running away from her problems runs up against the former rodeo star hero, who is still trying to cope with his sister's death, and taking custody of his three nephews.  Interesting, damaged characters who don't behave in a conventional way, plus a solid secondary romance between an older couple.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Rodeo Hero, Heroine Running From Problems, Three Orphaned Kidlets, One Past Romantic Couple, One Drunk Old Man, One Mad As Hell And Not Going To Take It Anymore Mama.
Lemon Drop: Maybe if you're really nice to me Auntie Wendy, I'll let you borrow these glasses for RWA.  You could wear them while you're presenting to the librarians at Librarians Day!


Lemon Drop: On second thought, never mind.  You could never do them justice.

Me: Oh brother.


*Goddess* said...

I "kind" of liked The Rebel Rancher. I don't think Alward had a good grasp of Clara's character. In the beginning, she was this fearful 'afraid to be touched' abused woman and rightly so, but then without any significant event, she seemed to be enjoying being touched and kissed by Ty and pursuing a relationship with him and that made no sense to me.

Anonymous said...

I like Carolyn Brown's books. I grew up with ranchers and farmers and enjoy the humor. I would probably recommend a few of her later books that you might like more.

I double dare you to put those glasses on at RWA. I will not be there but if you provide a picture, I will make a donation to your favorite charity.

I do agree with Lemon Drop that no one can wear with as much pizzazz as she does.

Regards, Ruth (CO)

Hilcia said...

Love the glasses!

Ohhh you hated I Loved This Bar! I got a kick out redneck hell! LOL! I actually download all the songs Brown mentions as I read the book and not only got a kick out of it, but drove my husband crazy with all the country music! (He wanted to kill me). However, I was in the mood for this type of book at the time. I read the second book and hmm... it was a bit much... rinse and repeat!

Hilcia said...

PS: Unexpected Family by Molly O'Keefe looks like my type of read. :) Putting it on the list!

Wendy said...

Goddess: Good, valid points. For me I think it worked because of Ty's character. If he HAD been a playboy (a "rake" for lack of a better word) - then yes, I would have needed some event for Clara's shift. But with him being a "nice guy" - plus having his own baggage - I could roll with it.

Wendy said...

Ruth and Hils: I Love This Bar was actually my first choice for a TBR read. When I got to the point where I was going to DNF it - I went trolling around for other opinions. I saw a lot of 3-5 stars. Very, very few 1-star, ick-I-hated-this commentary.

I would say the bulk of my issues were with the secondary characters. They seemed solely there for comic relief and.....I didn't find them funny (subjective as hell, but there you have it!). A bit more focus on the romantic couple in the early chapters I think would have helped for me.

And Ruth - I hope you are nowhere near those wildfires! Eeek!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Wendy and I am not to close to the fires. My brother-in-law is Risk/Safety for the school district in Fort Collins and he has manned many days at staging point because at schools. He says it has been terrible to see the families in crisis and the hollowness in their eyes. At least the fire is now 100% contained.

Regards, Ruth (CO)

Lil Sis said...

No comment on the shirt? Curious George reading of course! Lemon Drop says "George read!" when she wants to wear it. :)

Wendy said...

Ruth: We went through a wild fire evacuation a few years back's not an experience I ever want to repeat. Thank goodness we came out the other end just fine, but it was a harrowing couple of days. Glad to hear that you and yours are all OK.

Wendy said...

Lil' Sis: The shirt is awesome. And OMG - the cuteness! She actually says "George read?" Probably over and over and over again, right? LOL