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Mating Game (2009)

mating gameNola Grainger needs a man…and fast. Her grandmother has left her everything in her will, with one small catch: Nola has to be married within a month. But if she’s going to get married, she wants it to last. And for her, that means finding a man with as much passion as she has—who can take care of every desire, every day.

Nola finds three prime candidates: her high school sweetheart Billy, hard-dealing businessman Marc, and sexy handyman Tanner. Trying out three very different—and very desirable—men proves to be more fun than Nola imagined.

But she never thought it might prove fatal. Because someone in town is dead set against Nola sticking around. And with three new men in her bed, the danger might be closer than she thinks…

Author: Janice Maynard

Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance

Pages: 304

Sensuality: NC-17 to X

Reason for Reading: Intrigued by Premise

Grade: D+

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not_quite_a_husband_125x200When Kim H., a happily married, 47 yr old mother from Louisville, Ky told me that she was interested in a dialogue about Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas for my blog, I jumped at the chance. I had met Kim (a non-blogger) on a forum and I have always found her to have thoughtful things to say about what she is reading. Kim and I had both read Sherry Thomas’s previous two novels (Private Arrangements and Delicious) and greatly anticipated the arrival of NQAH. We both read it on Release Day and each posted  separate reviews on Goodreads but we have even more to say about it!

Like myself, Kim is primarily a historical reader and her favorite authors include Marsha Canham, Laura Kinsale, Judith Ivory, Loretta Chase, Candice Proctor, and Connie Brockway. The following is our conversation. Please note that we will be discussing the book in depth and full spoilers will be disclosed, so read forth at your own discretion.

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Seton: Well, it’s been a week since we both read NQAH. First, I have to say that although I rated NQAH a B+, it stayed with me and I couldn’t read another romance for several days afterwards because NQAH kept interfering. So, I re-read NQAH again. I still stand behind my B+ rating though even if it doesn’t really indicate how much I just adore ST’s writing. Although I loved Leo, he didn’t blind me to what I consider the book’s flaws which I will get to.
Is NQAH still an A- read for you?

Kim: Yes, I can still stand behind an A- review, because the things that graded it that high for me haven’t, in retrospect, changed.  I missed the secondary romance, but I was also glad for the opportunity to read a Sherry Thomas work without one.  It’s an interesting contrast, and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to see it.

Seton: I was sort of surprised that I did notice the lack of a secondary romance this time. I say “notice” and not “miss” because I usually hate secondary romances with the passion of a thousand nuns. In fact, I stopped reading Anne Gracie (a very good writer) cold turkey just because she assured me that she will always do secondary romances in the future. However, ST has a really delicate touch with her secondary romances and I found it really quite charming in Private Arrangements. Like you, I appreciated the opportunity of reading a ST book without one though.

Kim: I also didn’t have any problems with understanding and warming to Bryony as a heroine.  It probably sounds odd, but I had complete trust in Thomas from the outset, and I knew that she’d develop this character fully enough for me to sympathize with her.  The revelations about Bryony’s feelings for Leo, and what had caused her to withdraw from him and wall her emotions in, didn’t come too late in the story to rescue her as a heroine for me.  I had faith that they were coming, and just knew I was going to get choked up when they did.  I think this is ultimately why this book worked for me.  I very much experienced it on the level of putting myself in the author’s hands and trusting her to show me a good time.  I didn’t need Leo to carry the romance for me.  I always felt that Bryony loved him just as much as he loved her.  Certainly she was terrified of it; most definitely of allowing it show, but I never doubted the depth of her feelings for him.

Some Questions

Gakked from Book Binge.

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1) Which book has been on your shelves the longest?

Well, I probably still have the Golden Book version of Cinderella from when I was around six. Becuz I am a hoarder.

The longest standing adult romance is probably The Dark Master by Charlotte Lamb. I bought this used at a flea market when I was around 11 or 12. Started my lifelong love affair with Charlotte Lamb HPs. Looking back, it’s middle-of-the-road Lamb but it has an extra bitchy Other Woman to make up for it. Yay!

2) What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next?

Current: don’t know
Last: Private Party – Jami Alden
Next: Rogue in Texas – Lorraine Heath

3) What book did everyone like and you hated?
I initially thought about Bet Me or It Had to Be You but I believe that Paradise by Judith McNaught might be more universally loved so I’ll go with that one. If you see me online for any length of time, you’ll know that I am not a McNaught fan. I find McNaught books so manic-depressive that each one should come with a prescription for lithium. Paradise is especially unctuous since it makes references to Meg Ryan and Kevin Costner, two former stars who have self-destructed. I almost feel like Paradise has self-destructed by association.

4) Which book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read?

The Bronze Horseman – Paulina Simmons

duchessofmine5) Which book coming out in 2009 is top priority to read?
It doesnt matter if I read a book early or later than everyone else as long as I eventually read it. The only book that I can say that I am curious to read is Sabrina Jeffries’s Wed Him Before You Bed Him but only because I WANT to know who Michael is. It has been THREE years already! Jebus!

All others I can wait for, including Jeli’s (Jemma & Eli) story in This Duchess of Mine. Hey, I KNOW they are going to get their HEA so I can chill and wait.

6) Last page: read it first or wait ’til the end?

Wait til the end.

7) Acknowledgements: waste of ink and paper or interesting ?
I only read them if the author has an online presence and I might know who the names are.

Which book character would you switch places with?

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Veiled Passions

Author: Tracy MacNish

Copyright: 2008
Genre: Georgian Venice and London

Series: third in a series
Pages: 352 (but it felt like 500)

Sensuality: PG

Three years ago, Kieran Mullen was a carefree, confident beauty. One fateful night, everything changed, and she became solitary and aloof, reluctant to leave her London home even when her brother, Rogan, insists she accompany him on holiday to Venice. There, amid the wild revelries of Carnivale, Kieran is attacked by a masked villain and rescued by a charismatic stranger who offers her the one thing that might free her from her haunting past: revenge…Matteo de Gama is a study in contradiction – a gambler and a philosopher, a reckless libertine and a most unlikely saviour. When he pulls Kieran from a canal’s watery depths and learns her secrets, he resolves to help her exact justice. But soon he has another mission in mind – to release the unmistakable fire buried beneath her icy beauty, and teach her the bliss that comes with trusting in her own desires, and in their fierce, abiding love…

Content warnings: flashback to a horrific night

Grade: B-

Ramblings: This was a hard one to grade. The lovely prose made this a step above most of the pedestrian stuff offered on the historical romance aisle but other aspects of the writing bogged down the reading for me.

When I first started this, I thought I was really going to like it. It’s Georgian. Yay! Had a heroine with a past. Woo hoo! Revenge! Love! I can eat all that up and come back for seconds. 😉

The author’s writing had an old skool flava to it. Some might call it lush. Others would call it wordy and flowery. The author also showed a wearying desposition for repetition. It seemed like a page did not go by without a sentence on how the heroine has become “cold” because of what happened. A scene did not go by without a description on how gorgeous either the hero or heroine was at any given moment. I. got. it. The heroine was an icicle. A bloody gorgeous icicle. And Matteo was a bloody gorgeous adonis. Zzzzz.
Combine all this with the plodding pace of the book and it took me twice the time that it normally takes to read a historical romance. And I really had to force myself to finish this book just for closure.

The best parts of the book were the depictions of the hero and the villain. The villain seemed totally evil at the start of the story but I appreciated that he was more nuanced than that. Matteo was delicious. He was a self-made man: a playwright, a libertine, an artist, a musician, and a gambler. He spoke the language of the seducer very well. Example:

He reached out, skimmed her jaw with the back of a single finger. “Know this about me, for you are a lovely girl and you deserve to know who stands in your cabin this evening. Let me tell you what I am capable of: I could make you my mission. I could turn you into the focus of my entire existence, pursue you in a seduction to which you would have no defense. I could seduce you into my life, consume you with my world, and have you willing in my bed. I could possess you. I could play you like the cello, make you feel things you never dreamed possible. I could bring you pleasure beyond your imagining, and in doing so, I would enslave you. You would lick the floor in front of me, if I asked you to. You would do anything for me. And you would be mine, for as long as the affair lasted.”

His eyes changed. They grew distant, regretful. He looked as though he were turned inward, trying to figure out when he’d become this man whom he spoke of with such familiarity. “And when I lost interest in you, I would walk away.”

Unfortunately, the good points could not outweigh the bad for me no matter how much I wanted it to. The delish Matteo was paired up with quite the whiny heroine.  He deserved better.

So did I.

Rejected eHarmony Application

eharmony

I’ve been following the A-Roid scandal the last few days and I found this (not surprisingly) on a sports blog. Men.

This reminds of the time when I applied to eHarmony:

Two years ago I asked my brother what he wanted me to get him for his birthday. I come from a family of people who are hard to get the right gift for so it’s tradition to just outright ask. Bro, happily married to a very nice chick and expecting their firstborn, said, “I want you to apply to eHarmony as your gift to me.”  I tried to get out of it. I raised my spending budget to $1,000 for anything he wanted to which he deadpanned, “Nothing would give me greater joy than you applying to eHarmony.”  Well, what can I say to that?

So, one night I pour me a glass of wine in front of the computer, open the eHarmony site, and proceed to answer the approximately 175 questions on their application. Sample question: How important do you rate sex in a relationship? It warns me to answer truthfully to get the best results. When I finally hit the Finished button, I get a long standard answer about how eHarmony reject 20% of all applicants and that I am one of those losers in that percentile. Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn’t have answered “Not important at all” to the how important is sex question? I had no idea that eHarmony didnt accept everyone who applied. It’s not like I am a serial killer. This is bullshit. What? People with no low sex drives need love too!

When I told Bro that I applied as he asked and got rejected, he started ROTFL and left me off the hook. Even as late as three weeks ago, he still brings up the incident and snicker. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Crystal Heart (1982)

gregoryAuthor: Lisa Gregory, aka Candace Camp
Setting: Georgian England and pre-American Revolutionary War Boston

Pages: 312

Sensuality: PG

Reason for Reading: been on a Candace Camp mini-glom. Also, I saw this book mentioned in a thread on some board and I just remembered that I had it somewhere on the TBR so it felt like it was meant to be.

Content warnings: rape (the typical 1980s bodice-ripper overcome-by-passion type), adultery (if you wanna get technical) and a conditional HEA

Plot from Amazon.com (it is really, really detailed and spoilery so highlight to read all of it): Charles is not an attractive man, nor a wealthy one. He is in England, just before the Revolutionary War breaks out, trying to get Parliament to listen to reason. He lives a simple life in Boston, but has some money and property and his views and opinions are highly respected.
Thrown into the company of the rich and powerful, he first meets Lady Lettice at a party and is mesmerized by her beauty. Lettice is a vain, beautiful woman trapped in an unhappy marriage, knowing no other way to be, knowing no other way to live her life. She hides her unhappiness beneath a caustic, brittle exterior.
Her handsome, immoral husband lives off his gambling and wits. He has been know to settle gambling debts thru the loan of his wife, upon occasion. And, although she hates it, she’s forced to do it. She and her husband long ago stopped any intimacy between them. He hurts her when she isn’t easily persuaded to do as he wants.
Charles is given Lettice to take “home” one night when her husband cannot pay what he has lost in gambling. Charles is appalled. He takes her, but then, disgusted, sends her away without touching her. She and her husband get into an argument later that night when she refuses to do that any more and, to save herself, strikes him with a hard object as he is strangling her. When she has recovered from nearly passing out, she finds blood everywhere. She believes she has killed him. In a panic, she disguises herself as a boy and runs to Charles, who is in a ship’s cabin for his voyage to America the next morning. From there on, it is the story of her huge adjustment to a simpler way of life, without the luxuries she has always known, and her attempts to change. The backdrop to this is the secrecy of the beginnings of the Revolution, which plays a bigger and bigger role in the plot as it develops.
(end spoilers)

Cover: I couldnt find a single pic of the cover on the internet so I just had to scan it. (Yeah, you can enlarge by clicking it.) Because nothing sez ‘Colonial America’ like a purple bathroom rug and soft focus nekkidness. I can just hear the Bom Chicka Bow Wow in the background as I am lookin at this. Oh baby!

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The Sins of Lord Easterbrook

sinseasterbrook
Seven years ago, Leona Montgomery’s sensuality was awoken by a mysterious young adventurer full of dark chaos and sinful inclinations.

When she meets him again, their attraction reignites immediately, but he is much changed. Arrogant, masterful, and determined to seduce her, he now appears to have leashed the chaos and tamed the darkness.

Or has he?

Title: The Sins of Lord Easterbrook

Author: Madeline Hunter

Copyright: 2009
Genre: Regency Historical

Series: Last of the Rothwell Brothers Series. After The Rules of Seduction, Lessons of Desire, and Secrets of Surrender
Pages: 368

Sensuality: NC-17

Content warning: There is a paranormal element that is not treated as paranormal since this is a historical. I usually hate paranormal elements in historicals (e.g. Mine Till Midnight) but the way Hunter does it here worked for me.

Grade: B+

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