Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Dangerous Love by Sabrina Jeffries


So here I am, a few months later, and still stuck on Sabrina Jeffries.  I have one more review to do, and then I promise, I'll move on. Soon. At some point in the future. Eventually.

A Dangerous Love is the first novel in a series of three about the Swanlea Spinsters, three sisters  happily resigned to their lives as quirky spinsters, tucked away on Swan Park.  Their father, the Earl of Swanlea, has been on his deathbed for months.  As heir apparent to the Park (if he can prove he is the rightful heir), Griff Knighton has decided  to visit his future holding.  The visit  is prompted by the present Earl's promise to provide Griff's proof  of legitimacy which has been denied him all his life.  Not one to give up on his lifelong dream, Griff journeys to Swanlea with his man of affairs, Daniel Brennan, in tow.  The ultimate purpose? To get his hands on his parent's marriage certificate, and to avoid marrying one of the daughters as a condition of obtaining that certificate.

What ensues is a a delightful comedy of misunderstanding and error brought on by an identity switch, a very suspicious daughter-spinster, one Lady Rosalind Laverick, and the need for revenge and redemption on the part of Griff. Oh, and some very inventive scenes, one of which involves the very creative use of a tree swing.  Don't even bother using your imagination on this one. You have to read it to believe it.

I love Sabrina Jeffries' stories. So far, the ones I have read all seem to have a similar theme.  There's the rogue who needs a lesson in humility and love, and the heroine, who has no compunction about telling said rogue what to do with himself, while falling in love with him, foibles and all.  While some of the plot points may sound a bit contrived, and at times you want to yell at the women to stop being so stubborn (after all, their men are trying their hardest), Ms. Jeffries seems to wring the best out of her male protagonists. By the end of the novels, they have all had their pertinent revelations and find themselves free to love the women who love them.  It's a very neat trick. It makes you love those rogues even more.

So, if you are looking for  quick reads that are  filled with more than just a bit of frustration and soul-searching before the happily ever after, I can highly recommend this series.  You can have your angst and eat it, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

All Shook Up by Susan Andersen


Excuse me while I turn off the fans.

All Shook Up by Susan Andersen is a contemporary romance with more heat than a self-cleaning oven.  Really.

Dru Lawrence is a thirty year old single mother who lives and works with her aunt and uncle on a mountain resort outside of Seattle.  Aunt Sophie and Uncle Ben are part owners of the place along with Edwina - a great aunt who has just passed away.  And Edwina has left her half of the resort to a former foster son who she hadn't heard from  in years. That would be J.D. Carver who is, quite simply, sex in a tool belt.

J. D. is not going to be an absentee owner; in fact, he packs his belongings and heads off to Star Lake Lodge intending to stay.  But that decision is not made out of  love for the great outdoors. He simply has nowhere else to go because Carver has just blown the lid off of a construction company scam. That would be the same construction company where he was foreman and the same one where most of his friends used to work. Now the company's out of business, his friends are on the street and the boss is in jail.  No one back home is too thrilled with him so needless to say, Edwina's bequest comes at a very good time.

But smoldering, simmering J.D. has led a transient life and is understandably wary of anything homey. Especially Star Lake. And everything he experiences there - the welcoming warmth of Uncle Ben and Aunt Sophie, the hero worship of Dru's ten year old son, and his growing attraction, both physically and emotionally, to Dru - well, it's all under suspicion. Things are just too good to be true and he's just not deserving.

Oh, but John David, you are so wrong - as Drucilla Jean tries to convince him.

The attraction between Dru and J.D. is instant and the plot sizzles along until these two finally get it together. But life isn't as easy as all that, as J.D. can tell you - and does - when a dark shadow from his past arrives at Star Lake to cause trouble.

The story follows the formula of a typical romance -the requisite happy ending is a given.  But the plot is well conceived, the characters completely believable and the heat ... well, I'll let you borrow a fan or two. If you ask nicely.

Get this one. It's a winner.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Tempt the Devil, by Anna Campbell

51cz0uu0svl_sl500_aa240_2It was a definite squee moment when the Amazon box arrived with this book. Ever since I devoured Campbell's last book, I've been not-so-patiently waiting for her next, and she does not disappoint. As a fan of Regency Noir, it's a great delight to find a writer that pulls you into her characters like Anna Campbell does.

Tempt the Devil is the story of Olivia, the most sought after courtesan of the ton. Stories of her prowess are known throughout London and the man who wins the role as her lover is one to be envied. However, Olivia is the master in these liaisons, requiring control in all aspects, and with her charms, she has no problem getting what she wants from her lovers. Until she meets Lord Erith.

Lord Erith, Julian, is a powerful earl and notorious rake; his exploits renowned across Vienna and most of Europe. Once he sees Olivia, he knows he must have her, no matter what the cost. He is a dark man, used to getting what he wants, while running from his past. He is surprised by his desire for Olivia, and has little control over himself in her presence. Determined to win her, he discovers one of her shocking secrets, her inability to feel pleasure. He then sets out to show her pleasure, whatever it takes.

Their relationship is purely a battle of wills in the beginning, with both wanting to be in control over the liaison, but the darker secrets come out as the story progresses, and their relationship takes on an entirely new level. The two open up to each other about their unfortunate histories, and begin to feel more than just what the basic relationship between lover and mistress usually entails. Erith is such a dark character that you only begin to see the lighter side of him in slow bits as he coaxes Olivia into trusting him. He fights with himself over dominating Olivia, and wanting her to desire him at the same time. Olivia becomes more than just a courtesan to him, she becomes a confidant as he confesses to things in his past that he is back in London trying to rectify. Olivia begins to trust Erith and admits part of her painful past that she has kept hidden since she was a girl. Her facade of a cool, detached courtesan is nothing like the real person underneath. Olivia is still a frightened little girl, dealing with her fear and throwing up walls around herself that only a select few can breach. Letting Erith in is something she resists at first, but eventually her guard comes down to reveal her vulnerability. But with their own stations in life, can they be anything other than lover and mistress?

I won't go further into the story, as it would reveal the plot and I want you all to read it for yourselves. The characters in this book, down to Erith's daughter, are all flawed and emotional in their own way that brings such reality to the tale. Erith fights to forget his painful past and let go of the guilt that has followed him for years, while Olivia deals with her own demons while wishing for her birthright. Olivia's pain runs so deep that it's hard not to cry along with her. Anna Campbell is the master at creating deep, emotional characters whose stories make you weep with sorrow for them, despite how deplorable they are acting at the time. This story of love above all costs is so beautiful! Tissues are recommended for this one!