Friday, December 5, 2014

The Bodyguard (The Bodyguard series Book 1)

The Bodyguard (The Bodyguard series Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Leena Lehtolainen , Jenni Salmi

Kindle Price: $4.99
Kindle Unlimited: Free

Book Description

December 9, 2014
"As a professional bodyguard, Hilja Ilveskero rarely loses her cool. But one day, she and a client have an argument in a Moscow fur salon, and Hilja quits on the spot. When the client turns up dead, Hilja quickly discovers that she is a suspect. In an attempt to clear her name and find the killer, she uncovers ever-deeper layers of subterfuge. Amid all the covert treachery and intrigue, Hilja finds herself falling in love with a suspicious yet irresistibly sexy man—but is her heart clouding her judgment? In this tale of political romance populated by Russian oligarchs, Finnish politicians, and undercover cops, no one is what they seem and no one can be trusted. A fast-paced, tightly woven tale of love, murder, betrayal, and high-stakes deal-making, The Bodyguard—the first in a gripping trilogy by internationally acclaimed Nordic crime author Leena Lehtolainen—exposes the delicacy and dark underbelly of international relations on both a human and global scale."

I am not sure, if it is the translation from Finnish to English that is making this book so difficult for me to read and enjoy, or if it just not that well written in the first place.  I normally love books that are set (well at least to me) in exotic places, but this book is not doing it for me.

 This book is written in first person and for a mystery, that is normally a very good thing, but getting and staying inside of Hilja Ilveskero’s head is a creepy thing for me.  She has the personality of a 14-year-old sexual predator with an obsession for lynx’s. Yes, you heard me correctly – the part of the first chapter is spent on this; as are many other parts of many other chapters.  As I got to the 75% mark, I had still not understood what the importance of the lynx was and I am bored enough at this point to not care. 

The mystery aspect is interesting enough and the up to date background is quite interesting, politically speaking. Unfortunately, most of the book is not really spent with Hilja trying to solve the murder…it is spent on so many other things, thoughts, brooding moments and secondary characters.

The author seems obsessed with certain aspects of Hilja’s life and personality.  For example, most an entire chapter of us has to learn that Hilja had to undergo an internal exam when she was about six or seven due to a mistake on her teachers’ part.  Very detailed description I might add…and just in case you missed the description the first time, you get to experience it a second time too! In addition, it came to nothing.

  A lot of what is thrown into this book was repetitive (I wanted to scream if I had to hear about the New York Bodyguard school she went to, one more time and that is just one example).  Perhaps the repetitiveness will make further books in this new series make more sense, but I can say that it makes THIS book to be a difficult read.
The chapters that bring us to the conclusion and explanation of the crimes, is so unbelievable that I very nearly laughed at what I felt the absurdity of it all.

Again, all of this might be from the translation: stilted dialogue, cardboard characters, clichés…but I think not.  I think I just don’t get Scandinavian authors and that is unfortunate because I was so looking forward to something different.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Texas Holiday Miracle

Product Details

A Texas Holiday Miracle (Harlequin American Romance) by Linda Warren (Dec 1, 2014)

Book Description

 December 1, 2014

Moving to Horseshoe, Texas, to become guardian of her half sister has been rewarding for Lacey Carroll. But raising a six-year-old—especially one who has stopped believing in Santa Claus—has its challenges. Lacey's goal is to bring holiday wonder back into the child's life, which isn't going to be easy with a grinch like Gabe Garrison next door. The man is mean, rude…and hurting.
After losing his son, Gabe shut out the world. But his privacy is invaded by the quirky, dynamic blonde and her kid sister, who are single-handedly filling his solitary life with love. When Lacey enlists him in a holiday campaign for Emma's sake, he can't resist. Will Lacey's unique brand of healing magic make this a season of second chances—for all of them?

Take a pass unless you really love to suspend your disbelief to an extent that will amaze you!

I found this to be a difficult novel to get through. Not because of the subject matter; but because this was such a formulaic book. I realize that for books in this particular genre, published by this particular publisher formulaic is a critical issue. So readers of this author/publisher, this is a good thing. You will be relieved to find that this book sticks to the 'rules'. I couldn't deal with the stilted, cardboard characters - who for no reason at all would break out of character. It almost seemed as if this book was written in the 60's but modernized with a few words and actions, but not enough. For example: in one instance Lacey breaks out into 'twerking' in her kitchen and gets caught by the miserable hero Gabe who quips that he thought that Lacey was having a seizure. Hmmmm.

Take on ditzy, nearly clueless young woman, toss with a darkly brooding, tragic and hopelessly miserable yet very handsome man. Add a precocious child who at six, speaks and think like an adult. Unless it suits the author to do differently.

Blend in something that angers the child, something else that makes the man even more tragic and a huge dose of perky ditzyness and solemn advice from the heroine-shake well.

Now whisk in the Christmas holidays, the death of a beloved pet, a tiny bit of religion, optimism and some sexual heat (which seems quite inappropriate in this book).

Bake at 350 degrees - what you get is a nice toasty brown romance book.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan

Christmas at Tiffany's: A Novel by Karen Swan (Nov 18, 2014)

Book Description
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
What do you do when the man you pledged your life to breaks your heart and shatters your dreams? You pack your bags and travel the big, wide world to find your destiny—and your true love . . .
Ten years ago, a young and naïve Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn't giving up. She's going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.
Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she's meant to have . . . and the man she's meant to love.

With the way this novel starts out, I had an idea that it was going to be along the lines of “The Devil Wore Prada” somewhat crossed vaguely with “Sex in the City”, but set in three cities.  I obviously did not do enough research into this book.  I only knew that it had to do with a married woman (Cassie) being jilted by her husband and taking some time to recover in three major cities. 
I was very, very wrong.  This book was so much more than that. I thought that it would be a chick-lit, frothy; popcorn read suffused with fashion and sex…however, it was in turns - heartbreaking, funny, deep, shallow and very special. This book will forever be on my re-read shelf.

This book is a voyage of self-discovery, of making good and bad choices and finally coming to see that no matter what you do to the outside, it is of course, what is inside that defines you. This is something that currently too many people forget.
There is romance, several in fact, which are in turns frustrating and beautiful.  The author has a wonderful way with metaphor’s and descriptions that make you feel as if you are in the city yourself; that you are the one living  in Cassies shoes. Living her life.
This was a beautiful story of growth and will bring tears to your eyes as well as laughter to your lips and hope to your heart.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Crouching Tiger, Forbidden Vampire (Love at Stake)

Crouching Tiger, Forbidden Vampire (Love at Stake) by Kerrelyn Sparks (Dec 30, 2014)


Kindle Edition Available for Pre-order. This item will be released on December 30, 2014.  

Mass Market Paperback Available for Pre-order. This item will be released on December 30, 2014.

Book Description
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
New York Times bestselling author Kerrelyn Sparks delivers the exciting conclusion in the Love at Stake series, where a Marine-turned-vampire finds love with the shifter princess forbidden to him . . .
Russell wakes from a coma to find he's become a vampire. Now he has a thirst for revenge. Determined to hunt down the master vampire who turned him, he's used to working alone . . . until he meets Jia. She is after the same vampire for murdering her parents and insists she can help Russell on this mission. Reluctantly, he agrees, and sets up some ground rules:
Rule #1: Their partnership is strictly business. If he holds her a little too close . . . if she looks at him with those exotic eyes . . . well, that has to stop.
Rule #2: He's in charge. Jia isn't used to taking orders and questions every move he makes. So he stops her the only way he knows how.
Rule #3: Don't fall in love. But the kiss that was supposed to quiet her awakens something else in him . . . something forbidden. Because Jia is engaged. To someone else.

After all these years, it is finally time to bid this series adieu. I have followed this series from the beginning although not religiously. I have a difficult time with series that start with one couple starring in several books and then each subsequent book stars a new couple.  I never really get the feel for the later romances and the main story line of seeing the end put to great evil, seems to fall to the wayside.

 Many fans of this series are going to be - either greatly upset at the way this book plays out or very happy with the ending and the fact that somewhere down the road there may be more written later about these characters.  My guess would be that there would be some novellas interspersed between books in the authors’ new series.

 This book follows the romance/speculative fiction formulas perfectly. We start with the foiled attempt at the enemy, followed by many self-recriminations on the part of the hero and heroine.  We then neatly segue into the building of the romance and the heroine Jia acting as if she were a small child. (I didn’t like the fact that the author made the heroine seem so utterly immature and naïve even though she is only 21).  However, we soon get to the meat of the story, although and of course, not without many setbacks and deaths and one very, very large and unpleasant surprise!

And true to the formula, Russell soon overcomes his 42 years (39 of them in a vampire coma and three on the hunt for Master Han) of pain and misery with the love (and hot sex) of a good woman!

The style of writing is not totally my cup of tea anymore, but it is a fun read nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In Your Dreams by Kristen Higgins

 Book DescriptionPublication Date: October 1, 2014Everyone loves Jack Holland, but Emmaline Neal needs him. Her ex-fiancé is getting married in Malibu and, obviously, she can't go to the wedding alone. In Manningsport, New York, tall, blond and gorgeous Jack Holland is practically a cottage industry when it comes to rescuing desperate women. He knows the drill, Em figures, so he won't get the wrong idea. What Jack needs is an excuse to leave town. Ever since rescuing four teenagers from a car wreck, he's been hailed as a hero and the attention is making him itchy, especially since his too-pretty ex-wife is back, angling for a reunion. He's always liked Emmaline. She needs a weekend date? No problem. So when they wind up in bed together, Em chalks it up to red wine and chocolate cake, just one impulsive night not to be repeated. But Jack's pushing for more, and if she lets down her guard, either she'll get her heart crushed again, or discover that Jack's worth more than just dreaming about.

 Although this book is part of a series, you will have no problems jumping right in and enjoying myself. There is nothing in this book that makes you feel as if you’ve missed something important by not reading the earlier books.
This was a charming, warm, relationship driven novel. Ms Higgins made it very clear that the characters genuinely liked each other.  Unfortunately, this book did not contain the heat normally associated with this genre.  The plot line was a little obvious, but I find that to be true with many romances.  The story-line of Jack having PSTD was quite interesting, since we have mostly seen the books that deal with that to usually be  about returning Vets.

I still enjoyed this book immensely and found myself laughing like an idiot in parts and then suddenly crying like a baby.  The character, main secondary and even tertiary, are well drawn and thoroughly fleshed out.  Each character has their own flaws and you find yourself either loving them or hating them.  It is difficult for an author to have me feel so many different emotions for this many people.

I have not followed this series because I loved Ms. Higgins first books - they are stand-alone books.  However, occasionally I get the yen to read something new by her and this seemed to be a good choice. It contains everything that is important to a romance - flawed main characters, outside conflicts, miscalculations and mistakes by both partners culminating into a climax of happily ever after.

ARC supplied by publisher.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Product Details

Burn for Me: A Hidden Legacy Novel by Ilona Andrews (Oct 28, 2014)


Burn For Me – Ilona Andrews
"Book DescriptionPublication Date: October 28, 2014
#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand-new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire . . .Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile situation. Nevada isn't sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.Then she's kidnapped by Connor "Mad" Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run and wanting to surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.Rogan's after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she's getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world."

 I could not really help myself; while I was reading this book, I was comparing it to the Kate Daniel’s series.  While this novel is fresh and new… I still see some of the writing teams elements of the Daniel’s series in it.  Moreover, I thank my lucky stars for that! This is a sort of mix of  the Kate Daniels books with a small dose of The Edge series thrown in for good measure.
Like I said this novel is fresh and new but I know I have seen a type of plot like this somewhere before. However, if I cannot remember where I read it, it means that the Andrews did it just that much better!

Billed in some places as a romance –it has the elements of one, but the Andrew’s unique style, does not push the story in that direction all too hard.  Oh, you can surely see that it is coming.  This extremely different couple is surely going to fall in love, but the plot will give it to us inch by delicious inch instead of dumping the romance and sex on us in the first half of the very first book!

 The protagonist’s are an interesting mixture, much like Kate and Curran (the Kate Daniel’s series by Ilona Andrews) or Anna and Charles in Patricia Briggs Alpha and Omega series.  Each very strong in their own way, the females can give almost if not better than the men can.

The world is a dystopian one, much like ours but with magic as the added element.  Also, much like our world, their world is broken down to the ‘haves and have not’s’.  To be well respected you must have powerful magic as well as money and to get that powerful magic, families are ‘breeding’ their children by making advantageous, genetically perfect marriages.

This was a fun and dramatic read, with a wonderful underlying layer of the comedy and a HUGE dose of male pigheadedness…you’ll see what I mean in the last chapter.