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Tell Me a Story

Graphic Designer, painter, dreamer, fashion addict, unhealthy obsession with shoes and jewelry. Film lover and oh yes....books! :D
The Saint: A Highland Guard Novel - Monica McCarty 3.5 stars

Wanting (Wanting, #1)

Wanting (Wanting, #1) - Piper Vaughn 4.5 stars

Sexy, adorable, sweet, light-hearted beautiful read. I want to find more m/m stories like this but longer in length. I'm never fully satisfied with a short story. I want more!!!
Perfect - Judith McNaught Now THIS is how you write a convict on the run falling for his kidnapped hostage. Authors take notes! :P

I don't even know where to start with this. A roller coaster of emotions. My gaaaawd. I love how I can rip a book apart to shreds when I'm not happy with it and can't seem to shut up but when it's a 5 star book I'm tongue tied and can never do the book justice. I'll give it a try....

My very first Judith McNaught book. It was love at first sitting. I seriously could not put this down 10 pages in. And it's funny because I picked this up very hesitant and kinda dreading it after inadvertenly finding out that the hero and heroine don't meet until 150 pages in. Wut wut waaaahut? Blasphemy!!!!! What cray cray author would do such a thing like that? So of course I was prepared for a whole lot of foot shuffling, stalling, dragged out summarizing, painfully slow plot. Yeah....not even close. McNaught beautifully introduces readers to both the hero and heroine and their difficult heartbreaking pasts, their family background and how they come to be where they are in life before running into each other. I'm a big fan of details and she doesn't hold back with the details which I really liked. We get to see how our hero Zack Benedict rises to become the heart throb A-list actor and director and how Julie Mathison becomes Julie Mathison before crossing paths with Zack. Their back stories were so vital to the story and made it so much more rich and exciting and unpredictable in many ways. Seriously, don't focus on the number of pages and actually READ the story before panicking and going no no no! If you like good writing and storytelling then this is the book for you. Just because the hero and heroine aren't making goo goo eyes and sucking face by page 50 shouldn't be reason to quit this.

I honestly didn't mind that Julie and Zack don't meet until 100 pages in because the story was so compelling and enthralling. It made absolute total sense. I really enjoyed both characters' back stories, seeing Zack in the Hollywood lifestyle going through the ropes of filming a movie was very brilliantly handled. I could picture it so clearly. McNaught really impressed me with how vividly she painted the Hollywood backdrop, the ins and outs of being on set and shooting a big film, the egos, the scheming, the groupies and users. It came off very real and held nothing back. I also loved the suspense aspect of the story. Throughout 90% of the book I had no idea what was going to happen next. And the dialogue just sucked me in and made me melt to the floor. Good lord the dialogue. *sigh* Yes there are some uber sappy and tres corny lines thrown out with some unnecessary exclamations!! in there too (much to my frustration) but nonetheless they are sweet and charming and very heart warming moments.

I found Zack to be ridiculously sexy, endearing and a total sweetheart. I found his complexities and contradictions absolutely delicious. His brooding grouchy attitude towards outsiders, people he doesn't trust was so much fun and a total contrast to how he interacts with the people he cares for (which is a total of 3 people). He's very cynical and aloof and sometimes can be cold and harsh but he's got a big vulnerable heart he tries very heard to barricade behind a wall of ice. And he's done a good job hiding it for much of his adult life until one Julie Mathison changes everything. :P And damn can that man use his words well. Lord lord lllllorrd. He's quite the romantic when he wants to be and had me melting all over the damn place with the stuff he would say to Julie. *fans self* Oooof. Take me LOVA!

Julie Mathison is what you can categorize as a sweetheart 'perfect' prim heroine but has a willful pride, a stubborn streak and a fierce passionate heart. I absolutely adored her as the little pixie street urchin girl. She comes a long way and it was wonderful to see. I loved her big heart and innocence but there were moments when she tested by patience. And there were a few moments I wanted to physically throttle her but what's great about McNaught's writing is she exceeds at giving us in-depth POVs. Really great character reflection. You get inside both Zack and Julie's heads and get a better understanding of where they are coming from. It endeared me to them both. The character development in this was wonderful. I can't say there was a moment where I hated or even blamed Zack for anything. He's written as this aloof ice cold man who's supposedly selfish and cruel towards people who don't know him. The only thing he was guilty of being selfish of was wanting someone to believe in him and love him for him. Be still my damn heart. Come here baby!

I will admit to being conflicted with what Julie does during the climactic portion of the story, I was angry, annoyed and wanted to pull my hair out. But the author really makes up for Julie's short coming in this case by backing it up with plenty of self-reflections riddled with self recrimination, torment, guilt and shame. That helped tremendously in sympathizing and understanding where Julie was coming from.

Anywho, these two were complete opposites from personalities, to backgrounds and beliefs. I adored seeing Julie melt his heart and charm him. He tries to fight so hard to falling in love with her and even accepting it but it was great to see it play out. I loved these two so much and so happy they got their HEA, it took a long road to get there but the reunion was a wonderful pay off. Yes it's a totally sappy gushy love story but it has it's dark moments and is filled with angst, suspense and drama. There were countless scenes that had me going back and re-reading. That's a big positive in my book. If you have me re-reading parts more than once I'm a fan of yours for life. :P Brava Judith McNaught! I'd recommend this to anyone, Judith McNaught fans or new readers. It's a very condense read with a lot of ups and downs and turmoil between the hero and heroine but it's very worth the read.

5 stars!!!

Crystal Cove  - Lisa Kleypas A big HUGE thank you to Francesca at Under the Covers Book Blog for getting me my copy of Crystal Cove! You rock girl!!!

3.5 stars
Finally got a chance to read this while I was on vacation. While I'm disappointed that the excerpt from Seduce Me at Sunrise was taken out of this (why?? :(), I still enjoyed this very much. Jason Black was a scrumptious signature Kleypas brooding hero. There were a few twists and unexpected turns that I appreciated and wasn't expecting. Kleypas always knows how to make her characters and stories fresh and interesting and her dialogue as always is superb. There is a darker edgier tone to this story which I liked, the bondage scene was nicely done I must say. I just wish I had a clearer image of what was going on since I'm new to the whole binding thing. The logistics of how she was tied up and how he was pulling her during the sex scene didn't add up in my head. lol And for those who aren't into that kind of thing but are Kleypas fans (or new readers) I hope that didn't scare you off. I still recommend reading this, it's Kleypas. You can't go wrong. Trust me. ;P
Shelter In A Soldier's Arms - Susan Mallery 2.5

The heroine was too selfish and emotionally manipulative for my tastes.

Ashley: Why are you helping us? Why are you being kind to my daughter? She’s not your child.
Jeff: I just want to make things easier for you. Help you out. And I like Maggie.
Ashley: Have your own kids! I’m not your charity case! *stomps foot & storms off*
(2 seconds later) I'm sorry...I overreacted.

Jeff: I don't have protection but I'm clean. Are you sure?
Ashley: I don't care. Make love to me.
Ashley: How could you get me pregnant! You lied to to me about your low sperm count! You betrayed me!
Jeff: Marry me. I want to be a family with you and Maggie.
Ashley: Oh! You DO care! You love me just like I love you! I know you didn't trick me I was just angry.

Jeff: How do you know you love me? What do you feel?
Ashley: What are you talking about?? *gasp* So you don’t love me? Omg you just want to marry me for the baby?! Omg you can’t love me forever and ever!
Ashley: (2 seconds later) It’s okay. We're going to be all right, you just need time to process everything.
Jeff: I have to go on a semi-dangerous assignment for a week. If I don’t come back here is my will, you Maggie and the baby will be taken care of and provided for.
Ashley: WHAT?! You can’t leeeeave. You can’t die! You have a responsibility to us. You don’t think I’m worth living for! You have NO feelings. I thought you were different! I thought you would change and realize you love us, but you won’t. You don’t love us. You don’t fit my perfect dream man and DAMN you for not loving me in the timetable I imagined.


I mean....seriously? And FYI: That last line came straight from the book. There was a recurring pattern here that I really didn't much care for. Ashley loved to dish it out yet couldn’t take it herself. Her out-of-proportion tantrums and hot/cold temper just gave me whiplash and it made her come off a *little* bit crazy. I was willing to give her a chance considering her history but after that last bit regarding his job I was very close to hurling this out my window. I gave this an extra star just for Ashley's adorable little girl. She was the star of this book everything else was mind-numbingly irritating.
The Billionaire Next Door - Jessica Bird 5 stars

What happened to Billy and Mac's books?? This series CANNOT go unfinished. Such a waste. :(

This was very good and reminded me once again what a talented writer Jessica Bird (aka JR Ward) is. She absolutely excels at writing raw emotional real characters with powerful back stories. This was more gritty and emotional than I was expecting it to be. I really loved Sean O'Banyon. His abusive history broke my heart, I wanted to give him and his brothers a big hug. With so little page count and certain restrictions Bird made the most of it and managed to pull off a powerful story. I did not feel like I was reading a harlequin book which says so much. The flashbacks and characters reactions and PTSD to a brutal abusive childhood was so wonderfully handled. The flashbacks in particular and the crippling PTSD Sean and Billy deal with were brutal and so flawlessly handled. Bravo Bird! Everything about this story came across incredibly real and nothing was forced or half approached. Loved Lizzie Bond thought she was wonderful with a big selfless heart and just what big rugged cynical Sean needed. He made me melt with his words. Gah. Given his severe trust issues, Lizzie was very kind and understanding yet firm when she needed to be. I adored these two so much and loved seeing how they handled things together. They go through quite a few tests together and apart.

And to all the BDB lovers, we do get a Butch mention in this. Nice clever wink to the BDB series. :P Butch O'Neal! I loved the connection of Sean being friends with Butch as a kid. It was sweet and oddly comforting given the awful atmosphere Sean and his brothers lived in growing up. :(

And getting to know Sean's younger brother Billy, I really really wanted to know more about him. I adore him <3. I'm DYING to read his story. The gorgeous star quarterback who is dyslexic and has serious PTSD from his traumatic childhood. And there's also the mysterious eldest brother Mac. I get the feeling this series will be left unfinished which really bums me out. :( <br/>
Brilliant story, 5 stars all the way!
Devil Takes a Bride - Gaelen Foley 5 stars!

Wow. I'm on a roll. Love reading back-to-back 5-star reads! :D YAY!

Devlin Kimball, Lord Strathmore

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*sigh* What is it with me and black-haired blue eyed guys that just gets me all a flutter? Guh. And what? He has long hair? And has a pierced ear? Excuse me...

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Where to start? There was so much about this story I enjoyed. I don't even know where to begin. The characters, their back story, the never-ending plot full of twists and turns dealing with revenge, murder, secretes and oh yes a lovely love-triangle thrown in there too. Still with me? I truly think this is one of Gaelen's strongest works and it is kinda underrated I must say. This will forever be a favorite of mine. There is a serious dark heavy edge to the tone and story that had me glued to my seat. Devlin and the story kept circling around in my head when I wasn't reading. That's always a positive for me. And of course I was expecting a HEA but there were several moments that I had no idea what was going to happen next and was a little nervous, somewhat anxious to see what played out next. Devlin suffers an unimaginable loss at the age of seventeen, losing his parents and sister in an 'accidental fire'. He pretty much goes on a downward spiral of drinking, gambling and whoring as a rebellion after dropping out of school for a few years until he decides to uncover the real truth behind the accident.

As a hero Devlin had a lot of layers and substance that made him so relatable and 3 dimensional. I could picture him clearly in my head and felt his sorrow and loneliness like a tangible thing. Besides the fact that he's drop dead gorgeous *quivers* (I WANT), there is real true heart and a vulnerability and sorrow to his character that had me fascinated and had me wishing I could hold his head to my chest and go woo woo woo. He puts on a calculated air of a careless rakehell to fool certain people in this but what lies beneath is so much more and very endearing. He's got a big heart, is incredibly selfless and very honorable and has a playful mischievous personality that makes you wish this guy was real. I honestly was expecting to get an arrogant dandy Lordly alpha male who is reckless. Devlin proved me wrong a few chapters in.

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Loved seeing the connection between him and Lizzie. I don't know any two characters more perfect for each other. Both so alone, outsiders looking in and wanting so badly to find a place they belong to, a family to call their own. Elizabeth 'Lizzie' Carlisle is everything that Devlin needed and vice versa. I utterly adored Lizzie, such a root-worthy relatable heroine. A bluestocking in her own right, who stands by her principles but has a compassionate generous kind gentle heart. She amazed me with her endless capacity to show Devlin the kindness and love he so desperately needed and was unfailingly patient with him. I love that she didn't judge or put on airs which sometimes comes with heroines who are written as virtuous bluestockings who are leery of men in HR set ups. Loved seeing Devlin slowly become enamored by his Aunt's lady companion. What started out for him as a simple 'seduction' game turned into something much more real and has him scared yet in awe of what she is to him and he goes through the greatest lengths to put her first and protect her.

"I can't believe I get to marry you." The words slipped from her in a soft tone of amazement.
He reached out and cradled her cheek in his palm. "I was just thinking the exact same thing."

I was seduced by them both. Their story, the trials they go through separately and together and the wonderful all-consuming love they find for each other. I'm sorry for sounding so damn sappy but there it is. This book is chalk-full of surprises which is something I generally love to discover while reading.

And I really enjoyed seeing the Knight's in this. Alec Knight plays his part in this and I'll be honest I was skeptical of him after the stunt he pulled with Lizzie but his earnest guilt and attempt at winning her back was really sweet and so much fun. There were moments were I was just as conflicted as Lizzie, just a *little*. :P That's the kind of love triangles that I love to see. It amused me to no end to see two well known gorgeous 'rakes' fighting for the quiet unassuming Lizzie, who the ton only viewed as Jacinda's best friend and nothing more. Ha. Go Lizzie! :P

And I have to truly applaud and praise Gaelen for her characterization of the villains in this. There are very few villains that stand out to me while reading HR, there are the typical haughty villains who cackle and throw feeble threats and then there are these guys. Lord Carstairs, Quint Randall and Tarquil were truly terrifying because they came off so real and would do absolutely anything to hide their secretes. Gaelen actually gives them POV's and dives into their head and almost has readers sympathizing with them at certain points. That's certainly not easy to pull off. There were certain parts that had me fidgeting and almost scared to find out what happens next. Naturally I couldn't put this book down because of that. There so many faucets of this book that had me sitting with a numb ass, glued to my seat not wanting to put this down. The 3 leaders of the reckless Horse and Chariot Club are as menacing and vile as you could possibly imagine. You have a child molester who has a penchant for young attractive men, a rapist, a sharp shooter who happens to have an incestuous affair with his own sister (and fathered her child) and thinks nothing of killing someone to cover his secretes. Oh and one of the 'steps' to gaining entry into this freak show hell hole is to rape a virgin in front of all the members. If that doesn't make your skin crawl and want to fidget I don't know what does. Gaelen seriously knows how to write dark gritty characters and she manages to write them so real and not in the least bit contrived or cartoonish, which is something HR villains generally suffer from. These guys have plenty of substance and are intelligent, cunning and predatory. There was nothing caricature-like about these three. The members of the club practice every form of debauchery imaginable and manage to hide their worst offenses because they happen to rub elbows with the ton and most of them have titles of their own.

I was amazed how even the villains were multi-layered and had their own inner demons to fight and each separately try to deal with the mounting guilt of what they did 12 years ago. Not many authors are willing to go that far. Bravo to Gaelen for going there. While I do think the final climax of the story took a *little* too long to draw to a final conclusion, it was wonderfully well written with so much drama and hair-ripping suspense. I almost felt like passing out after finally finishing it. There is so much that happens in this story that I can't describe or do it justice. I really wish this level of writing and edge comes back into Gaelen's recent work because it certainly is missing what is so present in her earlier works like this one.

Devlin and Lizzie made me melt, swoon, gush and get flustered a hundred times over like a little girl. I truly hope to see them in Alec's book which I will definitely read after reading this. I truly do hope he finds the right girl after seeing his 'Bits' find her HEA. ;)

I don't have anything negative to say about this. Only thing I did notice is the amount of odd typos I kept finding especially in the first half which did become distracting because there were quite a few and very obvious but other than that amazing read!

I highly recommend this to any Gaelen fans or even new readers. So much happens in this story and if you like drama, angst, suspense and romance then this is the perfect way to go!

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover - Sarah MacLean 5 stars!

Ever read a book that leaves you feeling like this?
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Yup. That happened. Numerous times for me. A complete delicious addictive read from beginning to end. This exceeded my expectations which were quite high to begin with, with is a rarity. I was totally prepared to be let down a little but much to my surprise and delight this book did not let me down. Cross wouldn’t let me go and neither would Pippa. The characters had my attention all the way through. Had me hanging onto their every word, sigh, plea and then some. Cross and Pippa have a special place in my heart.

Oh Mr. Cross. <3 <br/>
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Jasper Alersey Earl of Harlow who goes by the simple name of Cross intrigued me from the start of the series. He's one of the 4 owners of the gaming hell The Fallen Angel. He's carried the reputation of a ladies man who can seduce a woman right out of her clothes without using his hands. Yet there is so much more to him than he lets on. :P

That little snippet preview MacLean shared at the end of Penelope’s book had me immediately hunting down a copy of Pippa’s book. I could not not read this and so very glad I’ve continued with this series. Philippa Mabury is a one of a kind heroine, a bluestocking intelligent girl who loves her experiments and is known as the ‘odd Mabury sister’. Her honesty, sense of humor, kindness and head for science was very charming. I adored Pippa, she charmed me from the start with her blunt honesty, open curiosity and penchant for discovering things she knew nothing about. She turned Cross’s world upside down and I enjoyed every minute of these two falling for each other. Pippa surprised me the most out of the two with the way she endlessly pursued Cross and fought for them to be together, I honestly wasn't expecting that. They were so charming and adorable together. Cross's endless fascination and longing for his bluestocking girl was endearing to no end and so sweet. Cross as a hero just devastated me, his strive for trying to do best for those he loves and thinking he doesn’t deserve Pippa. His intensity and open honesty towards his feelings for her just stole my breath. This man turned me to mush. Like damn. Talk about your tortured-angsty hero. Naturally this equation in a Historical setting may sound like nothing new, but Sarah MacLean has a serious way with words that just wraps around you and sucks you in. Her handling of prose is phenomenal and manages to lure the reader in completely. The characters & words leaped off the page and I was enamored by every aspect of this story. I’m a huge HUGE fan of angsty tortured couples who are hopelessly in love but can’t be together. And boy were these two angsty as ever, the kind of angst that hurts and makes you want to pull your hair out but it’s the hurts-so-good kind of angst. They killed me!
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^^Pretty much sums up their love story and I was completely enchanted. Granted there is a lot of slow build up to get to their HEA but it was very well done. The pay off is deliciously worth it. Cross has a way with words that leaves you a little foggy in the head. I liked that. A lot. If only a man would get all breathless and hungry for me like that. Oof. He is a serious dirty talker which I enjoyed immensely. I love guys who are naughty talkers and so damn good at it. He had me all hot and flustered with just his words. So sexy shmexy and swoon-worthy.

We of course see snippets of the other Fallen Angel owners, Temple included, which I enjoyed very much. Temple is cynical as ever about love and weary of women. :P Is it wrong of me to admit that every time MacLean points out his lumbering height and ridiculously broad shoulders I get all....

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I'm not going to say I'm excited for Temple's book. Because I'm not. AT all. Seriously absolutely NOT. *tries not to twitch and keep a straight face while typing this*

Another wonderful addition to this series! A total keeper on my shelf. I have another book boyfriend to moon over and add to my growing list of I WISH YOU WERE REAL & MINE heroes. >:D If you are a Sarah MacLean fan or just love honorable ginger-haired heroes with a dirty mouth or smart feisty bluestocking heroines then this is the book for you!
Brown-Eyed Girl (Travises, #4) - Lisa Kleypas Lisa's Twitter Teaser 9/24:

"There was more pleasure in that kiss than in any act of physical intimacy I had ever known."

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Lisa's FB Teaser 6/24:

I had meant the kiss as a gesture of atonement. A distraction. But it turned into something a hell of a lot more than I'd bargained for as Joe instantly took control. His hands lifted and shaped around my head, holding me still as he began to kiss me slow and deep, as if the world was about to end, as if it were the last minute of the last hour of the last day.

Joe is coming to town!!! :D
Baby Love - Catherine Anderson Wasn't what I was hoping it would be. Boo. :( There were one too many forced contrived things that made the story fall flat and got in the way of my enjoyment of it. There was nothing natural or realistic about this story. Call me cynical, but the idea of a grieving widower falling for a young woman in 2 days of meeting her just doesn't really work for me. Given the circumstances surrounding both characters it was incredibly hard to grasp the idea of these two or I should say Rafe falling so quickly for Maggie. They both come with some serious heavy baggage, Maggie with her awful abusive history with her stepfather and Rafe losing his wife and kids in an accident. The author makes a point in the beginning to address how Rafe has been living like a bum, drinking into oblivion not caring for life or anything for 2 years straight then he has a dream where his wife tells him it's time to move on. Boom! He opens his eyes and there is Maggie. Literally. <__< Meeeh. He's still clearly in mourning yet here I'm supposed to believe he falls head over heels in love with a complete stranger in 2 days?? Try again. And the idea of Rafe easily accepting & claiming Maggie's little boy Jamie as <i>his child was just too much. Not even half way in he starts referring to Jamie as his son which gave me some serious whiplash. In theory it's sweet and I would have believed it more if Anderson slowly built up the relationship between Rafe and Jamie, he's a grieving father for crying out loud. Any man in that situation would have had serious reservations and fears and even anger but oh no, Rafe steps right up as the new father like a piece of cake. They become an instant perfect family with Rafe going all out buying them everything and wanting to move them into his place right away. Say whuuut?? If the story opened up with Rafe picking up his life slowly after slumming and meeting Maggie by chance it would have made more sense, but no. We find our hero in the beginning of the story neck deep in liquor living like a homeless drunk in a boxcar wanting to be left alone and not caring for anything and wanting to die. So to go from that to magically flipping his entire life around for Maggie 2 days later, a virtual stranger, just didn't jive with me. Grief doesn't work that way. It was like stepping into a Disney story where everything is magically fixed, healed and absolved with flowery words and overly grand gestures. Eeeeh. And you sure as hell can't magically replace the babies you lost with someone else's child which is exactly what the author did here but tried very hard to disguise it as something miraculous & 'meant to be'. Ummm yeah..no.

And speaking of contrived things, Rafe, the self-proclaimed alcoholic being able to give up heavy drinking (he's been drinking for 2 years straight) in a matter of 2 days and drinking wine with no issues was ballsy yet very unrealistic. I mean seriously, come on. lol And I'm not even going to get into the fact that he slips into his old life so quickly and easily after being away for so long. Going from boxcar drunk to Kendrick millionaire who can call in a Cessna to come pick him up with no hesitation is a nice fantasy but I'd like a little more realism. The transition was jolting and just comical. Everything just seemed too perfect and too good to be true on the Kendrick ranch, I almost felt like it was robotic. The perfect doting husband, sprawling ranch, perfect overly affectionate grandparents who accept their 'new' grandchild' with open arms and everything in between. I sound like a complete cynic. I'm honestly not, I just like a little more room for realism or at least actions that make more sense. I felt this had a lot of potential of being a powerful sob-worthy story but the overall execution and rushed pacing fell very short. All of it seemed very gimmicky and dishonest. And Maggie's history is tragic and heartbreaking but I didn't really connect with her like I wanted to. Anderson did a good job of showing her fears as far as sex and relationship with men. But I did think her shy personality did veer into prudish sensibilities sometimes with her out of control blushes and gasps over having sex in broad daylight--"what will people think?!" (seriously Anderson? What year are we in??) *cringing*. Also both characters had the habit of falling into martyr territory with all the shouldering of blame for stuff that was out of their control. I love any man who's as considerate as Rafe but seriously having him on the verge of ripping his hair out for not doing every. single. thing. right became a little bit much and in some cases overboard obsessive. Calm down dude.

I don't know overall I was expecting a lot of angst and a dark edge to this given Rafe's tragic loss but half the time he came across as a caricature. With his repetitive mushy 'honey' and 'sweetheart' nicknames and lopsided grins...there was nothing natural or real about him. And the poor guy's eyes must be exhausted from all the nonstop winking he does in here. That drove me freaking insane above everything else! Like every other line there is a wink that follows right on cue, it became very distracting. He started to come across robotic and not real. I felt Anderson made him a cliche gimmicky character. I read Ryan's story before this and I felt more connected to him and his story than I did with Rafe's which is a shame. This had a lot of great potential but it just didn't work for me and left me feeling disappointed, underwhelmed and tempted to skim to get to the end. :(
Once Upon a Tower - Eloisa James 3.5-4 stars

I'm stuck on how to rate this. I enjoyed the first half very much. But the main tension between the hero and heroine was dragged out for too long and added a lot of unnecessary distance and miscommunication. I loved Gowan, the yummy Scottish love muffin Duke who loves and worships Edie from the first moment he lays eyes on her. He was very refreshing and adorable with his strict honor code and wanting to romance and love his bride with all he possesses. *swoon* He is such a romantic I loved it. I wanted to strangle the heroine Edie for listening to her chatter mouth stepmother's misguided 'advice' about intimacy and marital relationships. Especially since said stepmother has been having marital issues of her own, faking it has gotten you nowhere dearie so don't dish out what you don't know about. I liked Edie but she tested my patience with her willingness to continue lying to Gowan just to benefit him. It hurts when they have sex and she can't orgasm so instead of telling him she grits her teeth and bears the discomfort. Let's just say it made the sex scenes not very enjoyable and uncomfortable to read through. I love angsty situations, but this was a little unbearable. She doesn't tell him and it starts to put distance and strain between them and she complains and gets angry over his countless Duke responsibilities and how he has no time for her. I found that a little unreasonable. Yet holing yourself up in your room playing your cello & demanding no disturbance is going to help?? No. And I found it hypocritical hilarious how she would get in a huff over Gowan bringing his own Chef and fine china when they travel but it's perfectly normal and reasonable to have a carriage and coachmen just to carry her cello?? Pot meet kettle. I loved that Edie was a cello player (one of my fav instruments) but there were moments that I wanted someone to throw that thing out the window. lol I would have raged and thrown the book against the wall if it hadn't been for Edie's own struggle and torment over lying to Gowan. She clearly didn't want to disappoint him and hated lying and wanted to spend more time with him so I can't fault her for that. She was very conflicted and torn up about it so it made up for *some* of my frustrations.

I just wish James wouldn't insert the meddling secondary characters who hand out ill-advised opinions and suggestions that lead the heroine in the wrong direction. She's done it a few times in her other stories and it happened here as well. I don't mind it at times but here it caused a lot of unnecessary grief and distance between Edie and Gowan. The minute Edie's young loosey goosey step-mother Layla started talking about faking orgasms just to make your husband happy I had that 'uh oh' moment. Of course in a moment of panic and desperation Edie uses the advice and keeps up the farce for a good portion of the book only to have chatty Kathy Layla tell her 100 pages later 'that's not what I meant!' Oh really? Then what did you mean numb-skull?? Next time don't tell your inexperienced virgin stepdaughter things like that before she gets married. Layla really tested my patience with her chirping and moaning over how her husband hates her while she's totally oblivious to her own reckless actions. Put a sock in it. Maybe if you stopped acting like a light skirt to make your husband jealous then he wouldn't be angry with you. Duh. And of course 2 seconds after meeting Gowan's little sister Susannah, Layla insists the girl is hers and she's her mother and wants to adopt her (don't get me started on how unrealistic that instant-bond was forged). And yet she turns around and accuses Gowan of not thinking of Edie first when he let Layla adopt the little girl. According to her, he never gave Edie a chance to be a mother to Susannah. Um seriously? You gave Edie no chance to get the know the child before you claimed her as yours, you did that, not Gowan you oblivious half-wit. Sorry a fan of hers I was NOT. Way too much self-entitlement and silly hypocrisy with this character which I was waiting for someone to set her straight on. Hhmmp.

And I know I'm in the minority when I say this but I did think the verbal and physical reaming of Gowan near the end was a little unfair & extreme. Yes he said some harsh things (which were totally misconstrued & taken the wrong way by the way) and he shouldn't have run off but a marriage involves two people and Edie had her faults too. She lied to him and instead of talking kept her mouth shut and deceived him. Cut the guy some slack. I don't blame him for lashing out and being hurt. Seeing everyone gang up on him with their 'how could you's!' was a bit much IMO. And during Layla's vicious tirade against him she says Gowan took away Edie's self confidence..yeah what about Gowan? After how long he finally finds out he couldn't please his wife in bed. That self-confidence thing and trust goes both ways.

Anyways, I did enjoy James's twist on the Rapunzel story. There is a tower, some climbing and teary ILY's in said tower. It was a very sweet and charming turn on a classic fairy tale. :P Eloisa James always makes HR so intriguing, fun, witty and new in her own way and this series is testament to that. Hoping there are more Fairy Tale stories to be told!
Happy Ever After  - Nora Roberts 2.5 stars

I'm glad just to be done with this series, and done with Nora Roberts. Sorry but I've come to realize her writing style just isn't for me. Her stories and characters touch the surface but nothing else. There is nothing unique or intriguing about her work, just a bunch of unoriginal characters thrown into repetitive recycled stories. This is supposed to be one of her strongest series if I'm not mistaken and the only hit for me was Mac and Carter's book.

I thought Parker would really irritate me like she did in the last 2 books but surprisingly not as much in here. She still gave me a work-out in the eyeball department but I guess I got used to her OCD uptight neurotic ways by now. lol I just didn't think much of her story or believe her and Mal falling in love. There was nothing exciting or new for me. The romance & steam factor was very tame, too tame. A whole bunch of telling but very little showing, which seems to be Nora's general style and something I have no interest in. It's a BIG pet peeve of mine when authors do this. I like descriptive love scenes not flowery figurative euphemisms that lead to fade-to-blacks. No thank you.

Mal I struggled to even connect with. Other than his back story there was nothing interesting about this 'bad boy' mechanic. My biggest problem was his voice and demeanor sounds EXACTLY the same as Del and Jack. There is no distinction between these 3 guys except for their looks. They have the same mannerisms, attitude and dialogue which makes no sense. Carter is the only one out of the four guys who has a different personality and distinct voice. Nora doesn't even try to give her characters individual separate identities outside the freaking Vows business which seems to be the primary focus of the series. And sorry but the idea of 4 grown men moving into this ginormous mansion with the 4 ladies like some compound or sorority/fraternity (for rich adults) is strange and suspending belief. I would go crazy. And Del getting all excited about turning the large basement into a 'man cave' for all the guys was cringe-worthy at best. <__< Everything is just <i>too perfect and exactly right at the Brown's mansion which just translates for a stale boring unrealistic story unfortunately.
Mackenzie's Mission - Linda Howard So this just happens to be one of the books (I'm noticing the growing pattern here) that my library has listed as available but it's NOT on the shelf in the location it should be which means it's probably misplaced or lost. *sigh*

I have the 3rd book in the series. Wondering if I will be spoiled if I read Mackenzie's Pleasure first. Hmmm...
Just Like Heaven - Julia Quinn I wasn't really crazy about this one. Not the strongest work by Quinn IMO. I thought Daniel's book (book 2 in this series) was much better than this. I liked Marcus and thought Honoria was sweet but the story I found lacking something overall. There is only one sex scene which is fine but I wasn't feeling it and struggled to feel the romance or chemistry between the hero and heroine which is surprising considering they have known each other since childhood, I was expecting to get more between them. Honoria half the time acted so awkward and obtuse around him which I didn't understand, it came off more awkward than charming for me. Her constant hesitations and awkwardness around Marcus started to annoy me at times. He's your childhood friend, stop acting like he's going to jump you.

I just found the overall story tedious and not exciting. And I noticed during the sex scene there was no acknowledgement of Honoria losing her virginity whatsoever. No cry of pain, no discomfort nothing. Just one swift easy entrance and they got to it, I found it weird and very unrealistic. The constant self-doubting inner dialogue and 'I beg your pardon?' queries was very overdone and tiring especially in the last 2 chapters. And also the dialogue through the entire book is riddled with 'er' and 'erhm's which drove me UP THE WALL. Who talks like that? What does er even mean?? They can't say um? It's used at least 5 times on every page by every character including Honoria's mother which became very distracting. It kept taking me out of the scene every time Lady Winstead or even Marcus mumbled it. For some reason Quinn thought it necessary to the story or her characters I don't know, I found it very out of place and very annoying. I'm not even sure I know anyone who uses er or erhm while talking. Unless maybe while choking? or talking with your mouth full? It just doesn't read right to me as far as slang expressions go.
The Duke Is Mine - Eloisa James Well wasn't this a surprise!

I have to say this was really enjoyable and it made me miss Eloisa James's writing. I miss this series! I went into this with very low expectations and part of it was because of the low ratings this received and one review in particular that completely turned me away from reading this. I usually try not to let reviews/ratings sway my decision on a book but it happened here unfortunately. I blame it on my 'spring cleaning' of my towering to-read shelf.lol EJ is the very first historical romance author I read and she wrote the wonderful Pleasure trilogy which I loved so much so I do feel a sense of loyalty to her. She has her moments of eccentricities in her writing style and sometimes silly characters and plots, but still she can write wonderfully beautiful in-depth stories with endearing characters, witty brilliant dialogue with a ton of angst thrown in there.

I will be honest the first few chapters of this I struggled to get into and it didn't seem very promising. The heroine Olivia wasn't winning me over with her snarky indifferent personality while her twin sister Georgiana kept fussing and scolding over her poor manners. It got tiring. And their parents were no better with their self-serving deluded ways (forcing your daughter to have sex with her betrothed to ensure a possible heir if he doesn't return from war...are you serious?? disgusting). Olivia and Georgie's twittering jokes over Rupert's limp celery episode was in poor taste and made me wish EJ didn't go there but it was all in good fun and not meant to be mean. As the story progressed my opinion changed about Olivia. I started to understand Olivia and come to love her and she isn't as indifferent and careless as others peg her for. I fell hard for the hero Tarquin 'Quin' real quick. I was expecting a brooding indifferent jerk but he surprised me (I'd still like to know when exactly Quin was a 'jerk' in this story?). He broke and melted my heart. He's incredibly intelligent, has a surprisingly great sense of humor and very tender passionate vulnerable heart. And oh yeah, excuse my girly moment but he's drop dead gorgeous! :D LOVED him! While I don't mind love-triangles, I was leery and nervous over the set up in here. The duke falling in love with a woman who's already betrothed to be married and also happens to be the sister of the woman his mother plans for him to possibly marry. I loved this couple so much and their story was very enthralling.

This book needs to be given more credit than deserved IMO. Let me get this out because there are quite a few misconceptions about this book that I feel needs clearing up after reading a few reviews on here. First of all, the hero Quin absolutely does NOT have Asperger's syndrome or made fun of like one reviewer vehemently accuses James of doing and is what originally turned me away from reading this. The only 'difficulty' Quin suffers is struggling to read others emotions and sometimes putting his thoughts into words, which anyone healthy or otherwise, suffers on a daily basis. That is not an ailment IMO and the author never describes him as having one. Quin is perfectly fine and acts like any quiet grieving man would act. As for Rupert, Olivia's 18 year old fiance, he's described as having social difficulties and very emotional, he's labeled as being mentally handicapped something he apparently suffered when he was born. His traits could be *similar* to Autism but it's never pin pointed and it's definitely NOT Asperger's. So I have to ask the reviewer what the hell they are talking about??! Cause I saw none of that in this book. To each his/her own but I like to call out bull when I read it and the author supposedly making fun of someone with Asperger's syndrome in this story is pure fiction and a load of bullshit if I may be frank. I even googled Asperger's syndrome to see if it was something I missed and none of that was in this book. In fact, Rupert's personality and how he behaves is the exact opposite of AS. Also, this is set in the 1800s so if you expect aristocratic England society to be so accepting, knowledgable or advanced medically of learning disabilities or handicapped of any kind that's not accurate or realistic. I went into this expecting the worse, a selfish cruel heroine poking fun of a mentally-handicapped man and I saw none of that in here. The only ones who maligned Rupert are those who didn't know him.

As for Olivia and how she treats Rupert? She was his champion through most of this book. She protects his name, encourages his poetry, faces down others including a stuanchy Doweger who insults him, takes care of his dog Lucy, and goes all the way to France to save him and nearly dies while doing so. What part of this is considered cruel or selfish? That's quite brave and selfless in my book. And I have to point out none of her actions were out of obligation, she vehemently refuses to leave Rupert alone in France and insists on going all the way there with or without Quin. She genuinely seemed to care, love and worry for him. I don't know what readers expect from this girl, she made some tasteless jokes in the beginning and is labeled as a cruel selfish heroine. I disagree with that completely. She had some growing up to do and she does plenty of it in here. And as for "stealing" her sister's fiance, considering the fact that Georgie and Quin were never betrothed or even courting to begin with and Georgie gives her sister her blessing to go after the man she loves, there was no stealing to be had in here like some reviewers keep insisting. Georgie tells Olivia point blank she doesn't have feelings for Quin and pushes her sister to go after him. The few times Quin confronts Olivia and pleads with her to let him court & woo her, she turns him down putting her sister's feelings and Rupert's ahead of her own wishes so again, I saw nothing of a selfish heroine in this. She was willing to sacrifice her own happiness for her sister and Quin respected her wishes. He too felt guilt ridden for falling for a woman who is already betrothed and feels he owes something to Rupert.

This whole situation could have painted both the hero and heroine in a not-so-favorable light but James handled it beautifully. There is a lot of angst, longing, guilt shared between the two so I can't label this couple as selfish or careless. Not even close. But that's just me. I went into this with a somewhat skewed negative perception given all the comments and low ratings I saw on here and was amazed with what I got. A lonely duke who isolated himself after losing his wife and young child and believes he can never love again and doesn't have the capacity for it. A beautiful incredibly insecure woman who loves her sister more than anything and hides behind silly jokes and naughty limericks and thinks she's the 'imperfect' fat twin.

I call out characters when they act a' fool and neither of these two were. They were very open and honest from the very start with each other, no games, no lies or tricks. Honest, open and up front from the start. I was surprised with how playful, affectionate and passionate (my damn) Quin was with Olivia. *fans self* Wooh! He made me melt. Olivia clearly made him happy and he wanted so very badly be with her. For a mathematical genius who's supposedly not good with words (I beg to differ), he's quite the romantic. They fell for each other quite easily and openly and tried very hard to fight it out of respect for other parties involved.

I generally like to go into books with a clear head and no preconceived ideas of what to expect and I always like to be 100% honest when leaving reviews whether it's an absolute favorite author of mine, or a new author to me. It goes without saying (or repeating in this case) that this book is highly underrated book in Eloisa James's Fairy Tale series. She is not for everyone, like I said before she has her own eccentric style of writing that works in some cases and in others not so much. You never know what to expect from her which is part of the reason why I can never give up reading her work, her characters are one of a kind and far from conventional HR characters. Her characters and stories are always colorful and very unique and I've always admired that. I enjoyed this book so thoroughly and was charmed by every aspect of it. I didn't want it to end.

And this bares repeating: The author does not in any part of this book disparage or make fun of a character who is mentally handicapped and there is no character in here that can be labeled as having Asperger's. It's a skewed false statement to make. In fact Rupert is the hero of the story who both Olivia and Quin go to a great deal to bring back home like the war hero he is. So I guess I fail to understand what was so incredibly awful about these two or the story. I'm guess I'm in the minority on this one. :P
Beauty Awakened - Gena Showalter 4.5 stars

Koldo!!!! <3 </b>
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This was way better than I thought it would be. What a beautiful triumphant story! I could not put this down for the life of me. Koldo stole my heart and quite easily I must say. <3 Very complex tormented character who had a difficult life as a child. Because of his abusive childhood he always thought he was undeserving of anything good or kind but always ached to want those who were supposed to love him to love him in return. <br/>
When you have this for a mother....

...and a demonic cruel psychopath for a father you are bound to be pretty screwed up.

But remarkably Koldo triumphed and showed just how wonderful and compassionate he can be. He's never known compassion, kindness or love and has always secretly yearned to gain them. He broke my heart. :( I wanted to snuggle up to him and go 'woo woo woo'. A lot of his strife and struggles and inner demons reminded me of Zsadist from J.R. Ward's BDB series. Koldo could be easily described by outer appearance as a terrifying Warrior from the Fallen Ones Army, he's cold, gruff, has no wings, but a beaded beard and just recently lost all his hair for a sacrifice. And he has a huge red tattoo on his back of the wings he once had. He barely utters more than a few words. That was my first impression of him in Zacharel's book but in here we get to really see who he is and what drives him. He's not as terrifying and brutal but a big loveable tender sweetheart who just wants to be accepted and loved. And oh yeah...he sings!!! :D *melts* TAKE ME LOVA!!!!

I thought Nicola was adorable and the perfect contrast and fit for Koldo. She's just what he needed in a partner and lifemate. He's only ever known rejection and cruelty and Nicola brought so much kindness, tenderness and happiness in his life. I was happy for them and thrilled they got their HEA. I connected very much with both characters and thought they were adorable as a couple. Koldo getting to experience for the first time how to love and court a woman and try to make her happy was endearing and adorable. His open playfulness and sweet words had me melting right along with Nicola.

While I loved every part of the romance in this I will say I noticed the subtle change in Gena's writing style, the love scenes in particular. Less descriptive and just flowery generalizations and analogies were used which is quite the contrast to her earlier PR works like the LOTU series. Before she never shied away from graphic steamy love scenes but in this series you can see the shift. Much more tame, spiritual and rushed over or sometimes even skipping over descriptive details and actions. "They wed in body" while beautiful isn't as successful when used in a full length love scene. It works in some cases and in others falls a *little* short. I'm still trying to figure out how both Nicola and Koldo managed to get off during their first intimate moment where no penetration or touching was alluded to. I was left feeling a little bereft by that. Both characters were surprised by it just as I was cause I had no idea how that happened either. Don't leave me in the dark Gena and tell me how that happened! Overall, I can't say I minded because the story and romance was successfully handled but other times I do wish she would have been more free with her words because some of the intimate scenes would have been more powerful and enthralling.

Great addition to the Angel series! Looking forward to more. :)