Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Winter reads, Lightning reviews

Well it's been quite some time since I've blogged about anything book related. Dunno how that happens but I claim RL interference and the whole packing/moving shebang that claimed my holiday break. However, I did manage to get through a little stack of library books in between sorting through boxes, and I'm going to take the easy way out and do some "lightning" reviews.

Stephanie Laurens - The Taste of Innocence

Laurens was one of the first authors that got me really hooked on romance and I remember buying each and every one of the Cynster series back in college. Since then, I've gotten rather weary of the way her writing seems to repeat itself. But I figured that it might be interesting to read another entry and see if the magic was still there.

Sadly, no not really. It starts off well enough. Charles Morwellan (the younger brother of Alathea who married Gabriel Cynster in All About Love) decides that he needs a wife and that rather than risk falling in lurve, he'll marry someone sensible and safe. Like the neighboring landowner's daughter, Sarah. She seems nice and sweet and stuff, but he runs into a problem when she refuses to accept his proposal outright. She wants some time to figure out if they'd be a good match and so he is forced to do some courting. In true Cynster fashion, that means seduction and lots of little forays to a secluded gazebo where he can make it to first base, second base, third, etc. This part was pretty good and typically Laurensian hot. Unfortunately, once they get married, Charles turns into a raging idiot and almost ruins the whole story. Apparently he has this thing where he fears that love and passion will destroy him (like his father), so while he'll happily boink his wife at night, he is cold and abrupt with her in the day. Totally cuts her out of his life and is a real ass. Thankfully, Sarah is not too much of a ninny and she figures out whats what and manages to kick some sense into him by the end. Oh and there is a mystery plot about some nefarious land developers. Overall, it wasn't a BAD read, but it wasn't great either. Readers that have not OD'ed on Laurens may feel otherwise, but I'm left feeling that the Cynster glory days are over. I may as well just go back and reread Devil's Bride. The original is still the best.

Linda Lael Miller - High Country Bride

Next, I moved on to something really out of my regular reading zone. I think I've read one LLM book before (I recall it being about a girl who got zipped back to the past and met a pirate...or something) but she's not a go-to author. Nor am I a big fan of Westerns (unless they are the smokin' hawt Sarah McCarty kind, heh). However, the premise of a mail order bride, a handsome cowboy, and a family ranch (ala Bonanza) sounded like it could be good. Crusty old landowner patriarch gives an ultimatum to his three wild sons - "the first one to marry and produce a child gets the whole ranch, the other two get nothing". That's kind of entertaining, no? Unfortunately, this turned out to be a totally wallpaper romance. All of the elements were there but there was no passion and no feeling of the characters being anything other than just that...characters. I didn't care about any of them even after spending 400 pages with them.

Nora Roberts - Morrigan's Cross

While I've read a handful of NR books, I don't usually make a point of seeking them out. Probably because for the most part I avoid contemps and that seems to be the bulk of what she writes. That said, I've always found her to be a very capable storyteller. This book was quite entertaining, and I was surprised to find vampires, shapeshifters, wizards and witches, as well as time-travel and goddesses. An intrepid group is called together by the goddess Morrigan to fight the evil vampire horde. How they learn to get along with one another and become a team is really the bulk of the story. The romance between two of the group members almost feels like a side plot, which would be my main criticism. However, I found myself turning the pages and wanting to know what happens next. I'm definitely going to look for the next two entries in the trilogy when I visit my library.

Marjorie M. Liu - The Last Twilight

This is part of the Dirk and Steele series. I read one previously and remembered it being engaging but also very dark and violent. The heros/heroines all seem to be a bit like the X-men, mutants or shifters with special powers who have to watch out for evil scientists who want to use and abuse them. What drew me to this book was that it was set in Africa and the back blurb indicated that the hero was African. Given that my own romantic interest is from that part of the world, I was eager to read a book that featured an African hero. It was the best part of the book for me. I always try to imagine what characters look like when I read, and I kept getting a little thrill out of seeing MY guy in my mind's eye. Is that shallow? heh. Other than that, the story was certainly action packed and moved along at a brisk pace. What I disliked was the level of gore and how each damn time our characters think they're safe, they get cornered by the bad guys yet again. All seems lost....over and over again. And the bad guys are really sick. Just...ugh. I don't think I'll read any more of this series because my stomach can't handle it. But it may appeal to other readers. Thumbs up for the unique hero though. :)

Sabrina Jeffries - Beware a Scots Revenge

I'm not sure how to grade this one. It's not bad but also not particularly memorable either. Venetia Campbell is visiting Scotland and is kidnapped by a sexy stranger who just happens to be a childhood playmate and her father's sworn enemy. Lots of squabbling ensues during their journey to the Highlands. Some comic, some eye-rollingly formulaic. Of course there are sparks between them but oh noes, she really shouldn't be dallying with him. But then it seems that he's just been misunderstood and perhaps her father is in the wrong in their feud. At a certain point, it's like someone switched a lightbulb and she goes from hating him to wanting to marry him. Which was clearly the way the story had to go, but it happened too abruptly for me. Anyways, it's easy enough to read and has some good moments, but overall this was pretty forgettable.

We're having an inclement weather day here which means that work has been cancelled. I'm not complaining one bit. I may just walk around the corner to the library and pick up some more reading material. *g*


lisabea said...

We need to find you some A reading material.

We need to find ME some A reading material. *G*

Love the lightening reviews. And I had the same experience with the Stephanie Laurens.

Snow day? Excellent!

Renee said...

Devil's Bride was one of my favorite romance reads last year, but by the 3rd Cynster, I was feeling the repetitiveness. I actually skipped ahead and read Taste. It actually seemed more complex than books 2 & 3, but still not as good as the 1st. I'm with you, Sula, Re-read DB.

I'm intrigued by the Dirk and Steele book. The 1st one's been on my Booklist forever. Just haven't gotten around to getting it from the library.

I have to admit, my favorite (contemporary) western is JL Langley's Tin Star. If you haven't read it, it's awesome!

Tracy said...

Wow you got some good reading in. Sorry to see that most didn't make the A list. Mmmmm - let me think.

I'm so jealous you don't have to work today! lol

sula said...

lb, I really do need to find some A reads. stat! I promise to share em if I find em. It's an icy rain day. Probably would be fine to drive in, but I'm not complaining.

Renee, DB is a romance classic, but yeah the schtick gets a bit old after a time. I actually really liked Gabriel and Alathea's story (book number 5 or 6, I forget) and enjoyed most of the initial Cynster group but you can only read so many. heh. Oh and Laurens has this annoying habit of using gerund fragments. Driving me crazy. Wanting to edit. Skipping paragraphs. *yawn*

I think I may have read Tin Star...I can't recall. I know I read at least one shapeshifter western by JLL last year.

Tracy, if you have any great A list suggestions I am all ears. Preferably older titles that I can find at the library. heh. I am cheap! And enjoying my lazy day off.

Tracy said...

I just read a fantasy/romance by Jeri Smith-Ready called Eyes of Crow. Really good imo. It was out in 2006 so should be able to find. :)

Kwana said...

Thanks for the reviews. Sorry there were no A's.