Saturday, May 23, 2015

Contemporary Minis: The Liar, Anticipation, The Deal, Mimosa Grove & Longmire

It has been a while since I've been able to enjoy contemporary romance. But lately I've been able to finish reading a few of them. I'm highlighting the most current releases by posting minis, but I also read a few others:

  •  After the Night by Linda Howard, an old school romance with one of those brutally hot alpha heroes that always makes me question why I enjoy books like these when in reality I wouldn't give a man like that a micro second of my precious time -- sizzling, sexy hot or not. I believe I read this book a long time ago because I seem to remember the hero, but could not remember the details. Kill & Tell (CIA #1) another romance by Linda Howard, this one with a suspense and a romance with a too short timeline. I love Howard's writing style and this book was good enough with a fantastic New Orleans setting. Both of these books were solid reads for me despite niggles and doubts about my personal taste when it comes to a few, select, fictional asshat alpha heroes. 
  • I also read The Wanderer by Robyn Carr (Thunder Point #1) and really enjoyed it. It had a different flavor from Carr's Virgin River series. The over-the-top angst and drama was missing but it kept the close community atmosphere and friendships that I enjoy in her stories. I liked her main romantic couple and even as their romance had a happily for now, rushed feeling at the end, The Wanderer was another solid contemporary read for me. 

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE & SUSPENSE READS:

Last weekend I also read Nora Roberts' latest romance suspense, The Liar. Ms. Roberts' last two romantic suspense books did not make my favorite list, Whiskey Beach was an average read for me and I did not finish The Collector, so my expectations of The Liar were not great. Perhaps that is the reason I liked this book or it may be that I just fell in love with the extremely likable main characters -- 24 year old, recently widowed Shelby, her adorable little girl Callie, and the gorgeous Griffin -- and enjoyed the romance as well as the Shelby's journey.

The Liar has a Southern small town contemporary romance atmosphere as it is set in the mountains of Tennessee. To help this along, there are multiple secondary characters including Shelby's family, close friends, and townspeople, all of whom play a part in Shelby's troubled homecoming. Griffin is a magnificent male protagonist, passionate, sweet, and in love with Shelby. But I adore him for falling in love with Shelby's daughter Callie and taking her out on pizza and ice cream dates. Sweet! My favorite aspect of Shelby's character is her journey back after having been married to a narcissistic man whose psychological abuse during the marriage devastated her self-esteem. Unlike Abba from Whiskey Beach, Shelby is not an over-the-top perfect character and Griffin is portrayed as an honest, loving, down to earth man whose love and patience is exactly what Shelby and her daughter need in their lives. Despite the predictability found in the suspense with its black and white, unredeemable villain(s), the romance is just right. For the romance reader/lover in me that was enough to make The Liar an enjoyable read.

Next I read a book by another favorite author, Sarah Mayberry. I'm a fan of Mayberry's contemporary romances, and although I haven't read all her books, the majority are in my Kindle. That includes her self-published romances. I was really looking forward to reading Anticipation (Brothers Ink #2) because the trope used here is friends-to-lovers, a favorite. Blue and Eddie have been best friends for years! And Blue has been loving and yearning for sexy Eddie all that time, so it seemed to me that this was going to be a fantastic read filled with sexual tension and emotion. Mayberry has done this before, and she can do it so well! My expectations were high, high, high.

The chemistry between Blue and Eddie is fantastic and there are great moments between them along the way. I particularly enjoyed the friendly banter between Blue and Eddie as old friends. Mayberry can write excellent dialogue, banter, give and take (whatever you want to call it) and Anticipation has it in spades. However, once the great sex is placed aside and romance alone becomes the focus, there are not enough true adult interactions for my taste. For example: Blue and Eddie are supposed to be old friends, yet the lack of trust and real, meaningful conversations are missing from the picture. That scenario goes on for too long, almost to the end, until Anticipation lost all emotional and sexual tension for me and just became a frustrating read. It may be that my expectations were too high. Still this is an average romance from a favorite author whose next contemporary romance I look forward to reading.

Last month Mariana convinced me to read my first New Adult contemporary romance, The Deal by Elle Kennedy and overall it was a good reading experience. Kennedy definitely has a hit with college romance between a jock and a music major. The story struck me as being very up to the moment. While Kennedy addresses subject matters such as date rape and/or parental psychological and physical abuse, she also maintains a fun, sexy style throughout the story that makes The Deal a truly enjoyable read without the expected gloom and doom. As expected from a hormone driven couple of this age, sex scenes abound throughout this story. I personally couldn't help but think, 'what about them grades kiddos?' Somehow time stretches and this couple manages to do it all with gusto. The Deal was a surprisingly light, fun read for me and I already added the next installment of the series, The Mistake, to my Kindle.

I believe Mimosa Grove is my first read by Sharon Sala. Nath has recommended this author at her blog so I decided to give the author a try. Mimosa Grove goes from the rather cold setting in Washington DC to the hot, humid, sexually charged atmosphere of the Louisiana bayou. Sala's heroine Laurel is a psychic. At night, in her dreams, Laurel enjoys hot, passionate sex with an unknown man. During the day she deals with a high profile, skeptic father and a Washington DC society that does not believe in her psychic abilities. Just in time, Laurel inherits her grandmother's home, Mimosa Grove, in Louisiana and she escapes from a hostile environment to a place where her abilities as a psychic are not just accepted but wholly embraced. At Mimosa Grove Laurel also meets Justin Bouvier, the man of her dreams in the flesh.  Laurel and Justin quickly embark on a hot love affair but before everything is said and done they will have to confront death, a killer, and uncover a secret that spans centuries.

Mimosa Grove is a romance suspense riddled with predictable situations. The female psychic possesses some seriously powerful mojo that I found to be perfectly flawless -- Laurel is always right and can do everything from experiencing/seeing/channeling past, present and future events, to feeling, seeing and speaking to ghosts. Additionally, conflict between the romantic couple is non-existent. All seems to be hearts and roses from beginning to end as Sala utilizes the sexually charged dream sequences as a devise to accelerate acceptance of intimacy and the bonding process between the couple. Still, I enjoyed the Louisiana bayou as the setting and the likable protagonists. I would like to read another book by Sala, so if anyone has a book recommendation it would be greatly appreciated. :)

TELEVISION & BOOKS:

Very rarely do I blog about television programming. But, damn it one of my favorite television programs was cancelled and I need to rant just a little bit about it.

A&E (which supposedly stands for Arts & Literature television) cancelled the Longmire television series. Mind you, Longmire was A&E's highest rated program to date. So why did they cancel it? Apparently the bulk of the viewer audience for the program does not fall within the coveted ages of 18 and 49. Ageist much? The next season, however, has been picked up by Netflix. That is the good news for viewers interested in following up with the program's events after the end of last season's massive cliffhanger! Unfortunately, it seems as if this option may not be available to European fans. They way I see it though, it is A&E's loss.

Fortunately for me and the rest of Walt Longmire fans, Craig Johnson's mystery series is extremely popular and the books, which have much better content than the television program, are always available. As a matter of fact, the 11th installment of this fantastic mystery series, Dry Bones: A Walt Longmire Mystery, just released on May 12, 2015.

If you are new to the book series you need to know a few things about it. Each book contains a different and fabulous mystery. There is also an ongoing personal narrative involving Walt and all the characters that begins with the first book, The Cold Dish. My recommendation is that the books be read in order as characterization and the human factor are so important to the success of this mystery series.

2 comments:

  1. Ohhhh, old classics! I love After the Night. I agree with you though, I wouldn't like him in real life. I mean, even in the book, I found him a jerk... so in real life?! but in After the Night, it just works :) And Faith could stand up to him :) Kill & Tell, I really enjoyed that one!! It was good :) Ms Howard used to have the touch, sigh.

    I like The Thunder Point series... It does have a different feel than Virgin River. Although, at the core, it's still Ms Carr, so eventually, the similarities do pop up.

    Glad you enjoyed The Liar. I thought the book was a bit too busy with characters - Shelby's family. Just too crowded. And the story was really predictable. I mean, the twist wasn't really a twist. The best part was Griffin. I agree. It was so cute how he took Callie on dates and stuff :) Great hero. And I usually love her gruffy heroes more :P

    That's too bad about Anticipation. It's unfortunate also that since Ms Mayberry stopped writing for Harlequin, she kind of dropped off the radar :(

    Glad you enjoyed The Deal by Elle Kennedy. Seriously, I think you should read The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen. It's NA, but m/m. Loved that one ;)

    Ohhhhh, Mimosa Grove! Takes me back, I liked that one too, and back then, it seems like psychics were quite popular :) My favorite book by Sharon Sala under Dinah McCall's pseudonym is The Perfect Lie. Really enjoyed that one and it'd be the one I'd go back to re-read. Jackson's Rule is the one Kristie would recommend LOL. Under Sharon Sala's name, the first one I read and made me fall in love with her writing was Out of the Dark. Prepare a box of tissues. Reunion and Sweet Baby are also two that I really enjoyed. More recent, is her Cat Dupree series: Nine Lives, Cut Throat and Bad Penny. It's a trilogy.

    Unfortunately, I haven't read her in a while because I found her books were getting repetitive. But it's been a while, so perhaps I'll go back to her :)

    Okay, I did really write Craig Johnson on my list. Definitively going to check his books out!!

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  2. I need to do my own mini-review round-up soon.

    Sala is one of those authors I've officially declared "not for me." I've tried category romance, romantic suspense and contemporaries and nothing landed above a C grade. Which stinks since 1) she's prolific and 2) I've heard her speak at conferences and I *like* her. Oh well. Moving on.

    Boardwalk Empire and Justified are done - but summer TV is kicking into high gear for me since Hannibal, Ray Donovan, and Masters of Sex are coming back. Also The Knick is coming back sometime this fall, I think? I'm also going to try the new David Duchovney series, Aquarius. That one I'm sketchy about. I mean, David! But I'm conflicted on the use of the Charles Manson murders as fodder for "entertainment....."

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