Thursday, January 16, 2014

River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz

It’s been thirteen years since Lucy Sheridan was in Summer River. The last time she visited her aunt Sara there, as a teenager, she’d been sent home suddenly after being dragged out of a wild party—by the guy she had a crush on, just to make it more embarrassing. Obviously Mason Fletcher—only a few years older but somehow a lot more of a grown-up—was the overprotective type who thought he had to come to her rescue.

Now, returning after her aunt’s fatal car accident, Lucy is learning there was more to the story than she realized at the time. Mason had saved her from a very nasty crime that night—and soon afterward, Tristan, the cold-blooded rich kid who’d targeted her, disappeared mysteriously, his body never found.

A lot has changed in thirteen years. Lucy now works for a private investigation firm as a forensic genealogist, while Mason has quit the police force to run a successful security firm with his brother—though he still knows his way around a wrench when he fills in at his uncle’s local hardware store. Even Summer River has changed, from a sleepy farm town into a trendy upscale spot in California’s wine country. But Mason is still a protector at heart, a serious (and seriously attractive) man. And when he and Lucy make a shocking discovery inside Sara’s house, and some of Tristan’s old friends start acting suspicious, Mason’s quietly fierce instincts kick into gear. He saved Lucy once, and he’ll save her again. But this time, she insists on playing a role in her own rescue . . . 


I gotta give it to Ms. Krentz - somehow she manages to make her contemporary romances work for me, time and time again. River Road is a great example of how two smart people can get lost in an emotional mind field, especially when there is danger and intrigue to fog the path. Lucy and Mason might have an idea of what they're getting themselves into, investigating her aunts death and how exactly a body ended up in her fireplace, but there are so many players to consider that the obvious answer is rarely the right one. 

It results in a very interesting story, as Lucy and Mason have other needs to balance than the ones to urging them to heat up the sheets. Which they do. And it's great, lol. I like reading a mystery where the big bad isn't totally obvious, and despite a bit of character placement which indicated that a particular person might be more than they appear, Krentz does a great job weaving a complicated plot. 

Plus there's a great little scene from her next book, Otherwise Engaged, at the end!

Overall Feeling - A-

Series - None

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hope Flames by Jaci Burton

Thirty-two and finally setting up her veterinary practice in the town she once called home, Emma Burnett is on her own and loving it. Independent and driven, she's not letting any man get in the way of her dreams. Not again.

That's fine with Luke McCormack. Divorced and hardly lacking in female company when he needs it, he's devoted to the only faithful companion in his life--his police dog. Still, there's something about Emma he can't shake.

When a series of local break-ins leaves Emma vulnerable, she seeks help from the first man to spark her desire in years. And now they're giving each other something they thought they'd lost forever...hope.


I've been on the lookout for some new contemporary romances lately, and with a pretty glowing review from Dear Author, I figured Hope Flames would be a good place to start. And it was!

It has all the qualities of a nice, easy to digest, weekend read: a likeable main couple, empathetic supporting characters, and a plot with enough intrigue to keep you interested in what happens next. The actual relationship between Luke and Emma might not be all that unique, but the familiarity doesn't detract from their emotional connection. Both have been burned in the past and neither are able to easily overcome that - even with the possibility of life-long happiness in front of them.

There's a throw away villain near the end I could have done without, but I loved the connection to home, family, and pets in this book. And I'm definitely going to be checking out Hope Ignites in March!

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - 1) Hope Flames 2) Hope Ignites (March 25, 2014)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

hold outs

As I work myself back into the groove for 2014, I thought I'd start things off with a quick introspective on some of the series that I have continued to read for years. It's not easy, in the ever changing world of genre books, to find a series that speaks to you in such a way that you just have to know what happens. It's much more likely that after a few books of lackluster characters or world building to move on to something new, because there's always something new. But these, my friends, are the 2013 hold outs:

Kate Daniels Series - Ilona Andrews (UF)

If you haven't heard of this writing duo before let me tell you - Ilona Andrews know what they're doing. In Kate Daniels they've created a powerful but kind of broken heroine who slowly but surely is finding herself making the sort of connections that villains love to exploit. The supporting cast is phenomenal (some of them have even gotten their own books) and with the latest title coming out this year (Magic Breaks) the series is one to get into now because big things are happening and you don't have to wait to find out!

Psy/Changeling Series - Nalini Singh (PR)

 There used to be quite a few paranormal romance series on my auto-buy list, but at this point I could only name a couple that are truly ones I have to have. I love Nalini Singh's ability to write alpha men with hearts of gold, women who are their matches and more but might have issues finding their own HEA's, and a world that is filled with societies on the cusp of a new future.

Harry Dresden Files - Jim Butcher (UF)

Such an oldie but a goodie! I feel like this series has been with me forever, and it's never too late for Butcher to throw Harry into a new conundrum of epic proportions that might get him and everyone he loves killed. My only concern now is that I'm starting to dread what's in store for him next. At some point, even in an urban fantasy series,  I'd like Harry to get a bit of emotional happiness or stability and I'm not sure when exactly that's going to happen. 

The October Daye Series - Seanan McGuire (UF)

 I've mention the Dayes series before because Seanan McGuire is still one of the only authors I've read who can scare the crap out of me and still leave me desperate to figure out what's going to happen next. Daye as a character has just enough magic and determination to get herself into all sorts of shenanigans to protect her friends, and as a woman of her word she'll always be the one people go to for assistance. Things between her and the Tybalt are finally starting to heat up in Chimes of Midnight but apparently things in the Sidhe kingdom are also ready to go to hell so I've got to hurry up and finish this book!

The Chronicles of Elantra - Michelle Sagara (UF)

 This is one of those series that takes some time to warm up to because there are just so many people and cultures to learn about it. Especially when we're getting all our information through the eyes of Kaylin, a woman who's managed to escape (for the most part) her own rocky start in life but is forever followed by the magic that compels her to help others.  In later books things have gotten kind of complicated character wise, and they've been coming out far enough part that I've had to backtrack to remember who everyone is. Still, Sagara has gotten me all attached to this woman and the dragons around her who control pretty much everything, so I will continue buying these until something forces me not to!

Shelly Laurenston (PR)

Laurenston is currently at the top of my 'comfort reads' pile because this woman has the singular ability to both get me excited and have me laughing out loud. Her shifters are violent, fun-loving, family oriented, and willing to shoot bad guys at 500 yards - I mean, who can complain with that? I can always be assured when reading her books that things will work out, the good guys will win, and the people who should get things coming to them, will. Wrap it all up in a 6-7 foot tall package of muscle and great personality and you've got a winner in my book!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

December in Review & Hello 2014!

 Whoa people, where has the time gone?! December was whirlwind of holiday shenanigans, which is both how I like it and what ultimately forces me into hibernation by the end of it. Despite my best efforts to balance everything when my social calendar is this full my reading numbers plummet because even when I do manage to pick up a book it's never anything new. I think my brain just has to have space to process new stuff and comfort reads are my go-to when I might only have 30min or an hour to read anything. If was forced, under the penalty of something terrifying maybe (like spiders or drinking liquid cough syrup), to show you what I'd read this month, the list would go like something like this:

Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Here Kitty Kitty by Shelly Laurenston
Lush by Lauren Dane
Dark Wolf Running by Rhyannon Byrd (B)
Fired Up by Jayne Ann Krentz
In Too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz
Wolf With Benefits by Shelly Laurenston

Not very impressive right? Well I'm trying to pick up speed now that it's the new year. Great books just came out today (hi there River Road!) with even more on the horizon, so the game plan now is out with the stress and in with the new books! Who's with me?!

(NYE, henceforth to be known as the day Dana drank way too damn much & regretted it almost immediately.)