Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Review: Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger

A high school jock and nerd fall in love senior year, only to part after an amazing summer of discovery to attend their respective colleges. They keep in touch at first, but then slowly drift apart. Flash forward twenty years. Travis and Craig both have great lives, careers, and loves. But something is missing .... Travis is the first to figure it out. He's still in love with Craig, and come what may, he's going after the boy who captured his heart, even if it means forsaking his job, making a fool of himself, and entering the great unknown. Told in narrative, letters, checklists, and more, this is the must-read novel for anyone who's wondered what ever happened to that first great love.
This book made me both laugh out loud and cry while reading it. It's not a book where you'll find explicit sexual scenes, instead you'll find love -- all types of love. Love between couples, but also friendships that last years without wavering between people who know how to give and take, and love and friendships that are born out of a sense of immediate connection.

The story is told in narrative form from different points of view, but mostly by Travis and Craig. We know what's happening in both their lives throughout a 20 year span from 1978 when they meet at prep school until their present. Somehow, through their journal entries, memos, faxes, e-mails, notes, letters, lists, and other means of written communication we not only get to know them, but the people around them also become well defined characters with unique personalities.

During those 20 years, Travis becomes a history professor, whose use of baseball analogy to teach history is unique and often misunderstood by faculty--although his students are certainly appreciative. His love life is also next to non-existent. Meanwhile, Craig and his best friend Charlene are partners at a successful law firm, where his liberal agenda takes precedence over everything else. Craig has been luckier in love, he has maintained a steady relationship with his live-in partner of 12 years, Clayton.

The central, secondary characters and the plot are so well developed and defined in Almost Like Being in Love, that the characters jump out of the pages and weather you want it or not, pull you into their lives. I know I became invested in all the characters. Besides Travis and Craig (after all, I fell in love with both of them), weather it was Charlene, Jodi, Noah, Gordo, A.J, Clay or Travis' football player students, I wanted to know more about them. They made this novel complete and irresistible.

This is a love story on so many levels. A beautiful novel of first love and how that first love influenced and changed Travis and Craig's lives, even when apart. How in turn that love and those changes affected those around them. Who can't relate to those feelings of first love that Craig and Travis felt at 17? Who hasn't wondered what happened to that one person who made such a difference in their lives?

A gorgeous novel that will hook you and keep you reading, Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger makes it to the top of my list. This was an outstanding read for me and one I highly recommend.

Visit Steve Kluger here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Looking Forward to 2010

I'm truly looking forward to 2010, and I hope Impressions... continues to reflect my passion for books, reading and the adventure the experience represents to me; an experience I want to continue sharing with you. I've always been a curious reader who loves to see what different genres and new or unknown-to-me authors have to offer. You might might find some surprises here every so often, I know you'll certainly find variety.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've actually come up with a few changes for this blog or "somewhat" of a plan. I say somewhat because I'm flexible and will continue to adapt Impressions... to suit me.

Here are some minimal changes, and policy clarification: :)

1) I will be grading full and mini reviews. I will be keeping the grading system on the side bar.

I've vacillated over this decision for a long time. In the end, after all my experimentation, although I love the freedom of not having to grade a book and leaving that decision up to the reader (after all that's what it's all about), I find that having to come up with that grade provides a better focus when I'm writing a review. It keeps me on my toes. So, here is the grading scale I'll be using:

A = Outstanding. Excellent. Loved it. (+/-)
B = Great Read. Solid. Very Good. (+/-)
C = Good. Average Read. Good but not great.(+/-)
D = Fair. Below Average. Problematic. (+/-)
F = Not Recommended
DNF = Did Not Finish. Not for me.

2) I will also be grading my impressions if I provide enough information about the book to justify a grade. However, I will not grade my thoughts -- (example: see On the Hybrid Zone and Perdido Street Station.) These are my personal thoughts and don't usually include enough information to give the reader a complete view of the book to assess it. I will post my final grade for these books at end-of-month posts.

3) I will also include random posts on my thoughts (see above), if not reviews, on ALL the different genres of books I read, weather they are romance related books or not. That is what I initially wanted to do and would like to go back to it. :) These books will also be included on my list of books read (something I don't do now).

4) All books reviewed at Impressions in 2009 are owned by me, purchased or obtained through book swap, unless otherwise indicated. I did not review nor did I pursue the review of ARCs at Impressions..., although I did review ARCs for Musings of a Bibliophile and announced them here as such. I will continue the same policy in 2010.

5) I've found that I don't enjoy maintaining a schedule to post my reviews or thoughts. I've tried and it takes the fun out of blogging for me, so no posting schedule at Impressions... I've been posting twice per week (slow blogging), and posting more when I have more to say or review. This makes me happy and I'll continue that blogging pattern for now. :)

Of course, who knows what 2010 will bring as I'm still learning and adapting, but for now I think this is a good beginning.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Review: Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts

As little girls MacKensie, Emma, Laurel, and Parker spent hours acting out their perfect make believe "I do" moments. Years later their fantasies become reality when they start their own wedding planning company to make every woman's dream day come true.

In Bed of Roses, florist Emma Grant is finding career success with her friends at Vows wedding planning company, and her love life appears to be thriving. Though men swarm around her, she still hasn't found Mr. Right. And the last place she's looking is right under her nose.

But that's just where Jack Cooke is. He's so close to the women of Vows that he's practically family, but the architect has begun to admit to himself that his feelings for Emma have developed into much more than friendship. When Emma returns his passion—kiss for blistering kiss—they must trust in their history…and in their hearts.
It has taken me a while to process my thoughts, because frankly I don't know what happened to me while I was reading Bed of Roses. The bottom line is that this story did not work for me. For some reason, I didn't really find it romantic, erotic or amusing and I was even disappointed in some of the friendship interactions in the book. Most of the story felt flat, as if something was missing and I could not put my finger on it. I'm not sure if it was me or the book, but let's try and figure it out. Note: I tried my best NOT to include spoilers.

Emma is the florist in the quartet of friends that runs Vows, a bridal planning company. She's also beautiful and a romantic. She has a healthy family background and is looking for that one man, the one she will one day dance with in her fantasy moonlit garden. Jack is an architect with a thriving business and has been Del's best friend since college. Del is Parker's brother and this makes Jack one of their inner circle, part of their family. He comes from a broken home and these friendships mean much to him. Just as Emma is known for attracting men, Jack is known for attracting women and he, like Emma, does not commit to long term relationships. Jack and Emma, however, find that they are powerfully attracted to each other and decide to become lovers with the condition that they'll stay friends after the affair is done.

Let me begin by saying that I think it's a great premise, and the book is full of wonderful characters. I love the "friends to lovers" trope, it has to be one of my favorite plot devices in a romance. However, for some reason it didn't work for me in this book. I liked Jack and Emma separately. They were likable characters who I thought deserved a happy ending -- together, they just didn't do it for me. I didn't buy that Jack was passionately in love with Emma, and that might be because when his admission of love came (I wouldn't call it a realization), it was less than convincing. It felt forced, like he was pressured in more ways than one into making that admission -- it didn't feel as if it came from his heart and soul. I also felt that Emma allowed others to dictate her moves instead of following her heart.

The friendship between the four friends in this book took a turn I definitely did not enjoy, and frankly I think it somewhat spoiled the book for me. In Beds of Roses, the friends' contributions (one in particular) felt more intrusive than supportive. They crossed that fine line that I don't think should be crossed no matter how close you are in a friendship. The fact that Emma allowed them to interfere and went along with her friends -- when aware of their interference -- also bothered me.

Unlike Vision in White, Bed of Roses had less amusing dialogue to offer, with the exception of one or two wedding mishaps to do with Vows. And speaking of Vows, I would like to address the massive amount of flower detail in this book. Yes, Emma is the florist, however, after the first few times her flower arrangements, bouquets and centerpieces were described my eyes began to glaze over. I found myself wanting to skim through those details after a while, and I don't skim Nora Roberts' books. More than once, I found myself wishing for more Emma / Jack time and less Emma / flower time.

Finally the end. I felt the end of the book was rushed and abrupt to say the least and Emma and Jack's last few minutes with each other could have been used a few more pages or even paragraphs. The two of them alone with more to say to each other would have gone a long way, and maybe it wouldn't have left me with that flat, disconnected feeling.

My feelings while reading this book were not all negative. For the most part, I did enjoy the friends' interactions with each other when not connected to Jack and Emma's romance. I really enjoyed Del and Jack's relationship and the "buddy," male bonding that seems to be developing between the males in the series. I still loved the atmosphere and the set up that Nora Roberts introduced in Vision in White and further developed here, and I liked some of the new characters introduced in this installment.

Bed of Roses is not my favorite book in this series so far, but it is only the second one. I particularly liked what I saw of Laurel whose story is next in the series. She seemed a different person from the one I envisioned in Vision in White. I think the next book should be a more interesting "friends to lovers" story and I'm looking forward to reading Savor the Moment.

You can read an excerpt for Bed of Roses here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Review: The Mountains of Mourning by Lois McMaster Bujold

[A Miles Vorkosigan Story] Twenty year old Ensign Miles Vorkosigan plays detective in a murder case, and tests the balance of power as a member of the Barrayaran nobility.

The Mountains of Mourning was originally published as a stand-alone novella in the May 1989 issue of Analog. It was then included as the first of three novellas that make up the novel Borders of Infinity (October 1989). For the novel, Ms. Bujold added a short "framing story" that tied the three novellas together by setting up each one as a flashback that Miles experiences while recovering from bone-replacement surgery. The other two novellas are Labyrinth and The Borders of Infinity.
Here's a short story I highly recommend for those who have not yet read Ms. Bujold's work. It is science fiction, yet this short is written as more of a detective story. The setting is Barrayaran, Miles home planet, and sufficient details are provided to give the sci-fi feel to the story without it overwhelming the plot. The focus remains on Miles and the mystery he is attempting to solve.

Our story begins when a young woman from a mountain village comes to Prime Minister Count Vorkosigan's court to report a murder. This young woman, Harra, appears ragged, hungry and her anger has no limits. She reported the murder to the Village Speaker and he dismissed her accusation as nothing. She then went to lodge an appeal with the district magistrate, but he was absent from his office and not due to return for two weeks. Unwilling and unable to wait that period of time, she now stubbornly sits at the Count's doors and demands her right to be heard by her count's court. Harra wants justice!

Miles, son and heir to Count Vorkosigan, is home after graduating from the Academy and is on leave after receiving his new officer's commission in the Barrayaran Imperial Service. He is the one who comes upon Harra while she is being told by the guard to leave. He facilitates the audience she seeks with the Count.

They are in for a shock as they find Harra is not just reporting murder but a case of infanticide. The motives behind this horrible deed are clear to the Count, Miles, the Countess and Harra, who turns out to be the murdered infant's mother. Ignorance and old beliefs seem to be behind it all and the Count is determined to bring these incidents to an end -- for this is no isolated incident. Miles capabilities are about to be tested in more ways than one. He'll have to use his powers of deduction to solve the murder and he'll have to learn how to use his future overlord powers to impart justice.

I downloaded this short story on to my eReader from the Baen Free Library and it has been sitting on my TBR pile for a while, I'm sorry it took me so long to read it. This short is part of Bujold's novel "The Borders of Infinity" and the novel is part of a larger series about the Vorkosigans, but this short story stands alone very well on its own.

I want to clarify that The Mountains of Mourning is science fiction, not romance. Ms. Bujold manages to give enough detail about the Vorkosigans and their world to make this not only an interesting read, but to also hook the reader into wanting to know more about them, certainly more about Miles' "damaged" character, his trials, tribulations and triumphs. It is an excellent who-done-it with an arresting plot and unforgettable characters. I was definitely hooked.

I already have the other two short stories that make the "Borders of Infinity" novel, plus the book that introduces Miles, Book #1, "The Warrior's Apprentice." I can't wait to find out if the other books have the same quality when it comes to both plot and characterization, plus I really want to explore this world Bujold created.

Find out more about Lois McMaster Bujold here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Looking back on 2009

2009 was a busy year for me and brought many unexpected surprises. For one, I began blogging and reviewing, something I did not plan to do or even thought I would enjoy until Brie invited me to join her as a review partner at Musings of a Bibliophile -- one of my favorite blogs to visit. I always enjoyed reading Brie's insightful and thorough reviews and was both happy and honored when she asked me to join her. I admit to being quite the "nervous Nelly" when I began reviewing at Musings, but was lucky to have Brie to provide support. Brie took a chance on me and I truly appreciate that she took that risk. Thanks Brie, for everything!

Impressions...? Hmm... I didn't really plan on Impressions...! That was a total accident, lol! I won't go into details of how that happened (no, I won't), but once the blog was there, I decided to use it as a personal tool. My latest reads, my current reads, upcoming reads, my favorite blogs, impressions, troubled thoughts and announcements for upcoming reviews, that's how I used this blog in the beginning. I even used it as a place where I could practice how to use and experiment with good old html.;P

I didn't post reviews on this site for a long time and was shocked when someone posted a comment the first time. My vague plan at that time was to use it as a sort of "journal" -- just me and the blank page, short thoughts on what I was reading (impressions), not reviewing or grading books. I thought to include short thoughts on all the different types of books I read -- literature, Spanish/Latin American literature, best sellers, in other words other genres as well as romance, fantasy, sci-fi, erotica and/or M/M.

During the year however, between May and December, Impressions... evolved. My lovely review partner Brie went on hiatus at Musings, and I had to make some decisions once I began posting my reviews here. First, I decided to redesign the blog and I'm happy with the new look, although there are still things I would like change in regards to set up. I also decided to experiment the rest of 2009. The blog has become a mish mash of different things. You'll find full reviews, mini reviews, mini impressions, thoughts, and well... a few blog posts here and there.

I never graded reviews at Impressions..., but I did at Musings, so you'll find that I graded my reviews at the end of the month when I posted my summary. I decided to continue not grading reviews, at least until the end of 2009 and then make a decision about it at the end of the year. It has become a bit confusing, even for me. It makes sense and it doesn't. *g*

After all the experimentation, I've made some decisions regarding this blog for 2010, I actually have somewhat of a plan, lol! Next week, I'll be posting those decisions and hope to make things clearer and easier for myself and for you.;P

I would like to end this post by thanking the readers and bloggers who have been so supportive in all kinds of ways (some of you on a personal level), and for being so patient while I learned and experimented with my blog throughout 2009.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Review: Cowgirl Up and Ride by Lorelei James

"So, AJ you weren't pullin my leg last night?" She shook her head.

"You up for some fun and games?" Her mouth was so dry she just nodded. "Flattered as I am. Why me? You gotta know any one of the young guys in here would kill to have a shot at you."

AJ broke eye contact and scraped at the label on her beer bottle. Shoot. How was she supposed to answer that without giving herself away? Cord's rough hand curled over her wrist and he idly stroked her knuckles. Her stomach jumped again. She glanced up, overwhelmed by the lust in his eyes.

"Jesus. You have the sexiest mouth I've ever seen. I can't think beyond tastin that mole by the corner of your lips. Runnin my tongue over it. Kissin every inch of it on the way back to kissin every inch of your mouth."

Warning. Don't let him sweet-talk you until you get a chance to speak your piece. She blurted, "Do you wanna dance?"

"Not to this."

"Why not?"

"Because the first time I put my hands on you, I want you close. Real close. Close as we can get with our clothes on without getting kicked out for lewd behavior." The silence between them grew. AJ felt her confidence slipping. This was not the way she'd envisioned her night of seduction. Then take charge. She finished the beer and hopped off the barstool.

"I want your hands on me now, Cord."

Cowgirl Up and Ride is the story of Cord McKade and Amy Jo. AJ has been in love with Cord forever (since she was 5 years old, so she says), but he's 13 years older and sees her as too young -- I mean she used to be his son's babysitter for goodness sakes! Now she's 23 and decides it's time to go after what she wants, time to get noticed. Shy, wholesome AJ is no more. Cord is divorced and the single father of a little boy. He has become a bitter and lonely cowboy who doesn't have much to do with women. It's all his ex-wife's fault. She up and left him after their son was born for Seattle because she couldn't make it as a ranch wife in Wyoming. Now all he cares about is raising his son and running his family's ranch.

This book was quite good and actually a personal favorite in this series so far. I liked that unlike most of the other installments I've read, this was a one-on-one erotic romance. The main characters have known each other all their lives and although we know some of their back story from previous installments, they are further developed in this book. Even through all the enjoyable sexual encounters, the "rosy cheeks" and the cowboy/cowgirl rope games, AJ and Cord manage to have personal conversations and get to know each other.

The secondary characters who take part in Cowgirl Up and Ride, other MaKade's, are also developed and they contribute to this story -- they were not just thrown in there. We can also see the beginning of their individual stories taking shape, but don't take away from Cord and AJ as central characters.

However, this is Lorelei James and this IS an erotic romance, so I must tell you I found the erotic part of the book just as hot as in the other books -- I happen to like her style. Her tendency for light domination scenes is there, as is the inevitable menage, although in this case AJ and Cord are not involved.

Cowgirl Up and Ride managed to be both erotic and touching in some ways, plus peripherally it dealt with some serious subjects such as alcoholism, homosexuality, homophobia and the sad consequences. In its entirety, this book was definitely an enjoyable ride for me. (M/F, M/F/M)

Rough Rider Series by Lorelei James:
Long Hard Ride, #1
Rode Hard, Put Up Wet #2
Cowgirl Up and Ride #3
Tied Up, Tied Down #4
Rough, Raw and Ready #5
Branded as Trouble #6
Shoulda Been a Cowboy #7
All Jacked Up #8

You can visit the author & read excerpts for her books here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

M/M Review: Rough Cut: Vincent Diamond Collected by Vincent Diamond

In Rough Cut, Vincent Diamond gives us a beautiful collection of short stories -- 17 in total -- some of them connected with the same characters, some of them single short stories that give us more than just what I've come to expect from M/M Erotica. Some of these short stories make us think and ponder -- there are just so many scenarios, so many "what ifs," so many "gray areas." Diamond manages to gift us with all of these things AND romance AND eroticism in these short stories. Her love of animals and nature is evident throughout all of them and it's lovely to see her passion for it; as well as her love of the characters in the writing.

The book begins with an impressive Foreword by Richard Labonte, one that I have to agree with. The characters in these stories, weather you are reading the single short story, or the connected ones, are well developed as are the relationships. I was impressed with how invested I became in the relationships while reading this book.

Lions and Tigers and Snares & Cold Hands, Warm Heart are linked stories with the same characters. In these two shorts, you'll find Kendall Knight, a Licensed Handler of large animals working at a "big cat" refuge, and Byron an undercover detective investigating Kendall and his partner. I loved these stories, not just the sizzling chemistry between these two men, but their love and commitment for their work and what I could only imagine their future holds.

A Cold Night’s Sleep & Fire are linked stories with the same characters. Sandy is an ex-cop who now works as a Ranger in a State Park and Tanner is an ex-con just out of prison. This is a story of how one person can make a difference in another's life. A day, a moment, can help the healing process and sometimes it can come from the most unexpected places or person. Beautiful.

Haunted, Slide into Desire, Walking the Blue Line, Deep Trouble Undercover, A Question of Taste, Dangerous Days, Tropical Daze. The story of Conrad and Steven, an undercover cop and a Rave Master and ex-con. Seven short stories that are really one complete story in the end. It's just beautiful. We go through Steven's journey of self-discovery, guilt, passion and love and Conrad's right there with him. I fell in love with these characters, their Romance with a capital R (because that's exactly what it was), and the sizzling passion they shared. I couldn't stop reading these shorts until I finished. Can you tell these were my very favorite stories and characters? The best recommendation I can give is... I'll be re-reading these. I'll definitely want to read Conrad and Steven's journey again.

Shepherd -- What a thought provoking piece! A single short that left me thinking, thinking... I'll have to quote here: "It's not who we are, it's where we are." A quote that made me think about the choices made in this story, but also about how it particularly applied to me personally under other circumstances and situations having nothing to do with M/M. Specifically applied to the immigrant's experience. This is the story of Felipe, who has been imprisoned for criminal assault and his experiences in prison during his first months of incarceration. I found this short gripping. I wanted more and at the same time, I thought it was perfect the way it was because of the way it made me think. Not the usual look at M/M; definitely not romance. Loved this piece.

Bruised, Back in the Saddle, Horsing Around -- These three stories are also linked. The story of Marcus and David. Marcus owns a Stud Farm where horses are also trained for competition. Not horse races, but dressage. David is a young veterinarian doing part of his internship at Marcus' farm. Gorgeous story(stories) of self-discovery and of learning to love again. This is one where I was left hanging. I really wanted to know what happened next and hope Diamond writes that next short.

Irish Cream -- Ohhhhh, Irish Cream! What a finish to this book! It broke my heart and it soothed it. This is a beautiful single short told by an old man who is remembering Liam, an Irish young man he met in the 1950's. We get glimpses of what it was like to be gay during that time, of stolen moments and beauty shared and lost. I loved this piece.

A few things I would like to add that includes all the stories. These are great to read one at a time if you don't have the time to read a whole book, or in between reads. Although I found myself so fascinated by some of the stories that I had to go on and finish those. The love stories are just gorgeous, all of them. The passion in these books felt real to me -- Diamond has a way of writing a bedroom scene (or a barn scene, as may be the case) that's for sure. However, it is undeniable that together with the passion, Diamond also gave us the romance without taking the easy way out.

NOTE: I read this book back in February of this year before I began blogging. However, I did not want this year to end without posting my review for what became one of my favorite M/M Anthologies/Collections of short stories this year. The original review was posted at The Manhole @ The Phade on February 8, 2009.

You can visit Vincent Diamond here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November 2009 Reads & Minis

November is done! I can't believe it... I read almost half the books I read last month, and didn't like some of them as much as I did my last month's reads, but those months/weeks/days don't come around too often. I did, however, find a few wonderful surprises along the way.

I got hooked on the paranormal Guardian series by Meljean Brook and that's great for me. I've had some disappointments this year and my PNR list of authors has dwindled down to three must-read authors -- this is an excellent addition to my list. I also have a new-to-me author whose backlist I'm going to explore, Cheryl St. John writes historical romances set in the west. I love the genre and can't wait to read more books by her. And, I was very happy to read Lisa Dale's latest book and hope to read more. I'm thinking maybe I found a new contemporary romance writer I'll be following in the future. So, a productive reading month, if not in quantity, for the most part in quality. :)

1) Demon Angel by Meljean Brook

2) Joe's Wife by Cheryl St. John

3) Demon Moon by Meljean Brook

4) Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts - Upcoming Review

5) It Happened One Night by Lisa Dale

6) The Cowboy (Bitter Creek Series #1) by Joan Johnston

The Cowboy by Joan Johnston was a DNF for me. I read as far as the end of the 3rd Chapter and closed the book. There's a feud going on between the H/h's families and while at college, these two young people meet and fall in love. In the opening scene, while the two are in bed together, she receives a phone call telling her that her brother was tragically paralyzed in a football game accident. The person who made the unlucky play and hurt her brother is the hero's brother. She decides right there and then that she has to end their relationship. He begs her to go with him and marry him, to confront their families and end this feud. She won't do it even though she secretly knows she's pregnant. Yes, pregnant. *sigh

Eleven years pass and the hero finally returns home. When they meet again, (by Chapter 3) she accuses him of LEAVING HER! All of the sudden it's HIS FAULT! All of this while she is still trying to hide the fact that the child belongs to him. See, she married another man 1 month after he left and is now a widow. I have no patience for this type of storyline and that was the end for me. I actually thought of reading the trilogy by Ms. Johnston... the other two are The Texan and The Loner, but decided against it. Frustrating, just frustrating.

7) One Good Man by Alison Kent

A Blaze category romance. I was actually enjoying this book. It was a pretty fast read and it had really hot moments between the H/h, a Texas Ranger and the victim of a crime. The romance was one of those fast, "I think I have feelings for him/her" within the first 24 hours (insta-love), but okay... it was HOT. But, but BUT, their whole story was entrenched with the crime. You couldn't really separate the two. After the climax to the story where the villain is caught at the end? The how, who and why were NOT answered... Can you believe that? I read this WHOLE book and it felt incomplete. I cannot describe my read all the way to the end only to get no answers. Frustrating! However, this is a Blaze, the H/h had their hot HEA and if you don't find not finding out these details frustrating, then you might enjoy this book. I have one more book by Ms. Kent on my TBR pile that I'll be reading.

8) He's No Prince Charming by LuAnne McClaine

Okay... this book is hmm... I don't even know how to describe it! I started it, put it away and started to read it again. The heroine is an ex-teen star singer and the hero is a has-been bull rider. The hero is bitter, lonesome and he comes off as okay, but the heroine in this book just killed me! This girl/woman.. I'm not sure how old she is in the book (I might have missed that), acts like a bubble head, air-head, child/girl/woman... and I just did not KNOW what this man saw in her. She might have been just a wee bit too superficial for my taste. The woman in the secondary romance was more appealing than the heroine, at least to me she was. Maybe I just didn't quite appreciate the "Three Stooges" style of romantic comedy in this book. The book does have a very nice Southern atmosphere to it that I enjoyed and I'll try one of her other books with this same theme to see if it works for me.

9) Almost Like Being In Love by Steve Kluger (M/M)- Upcoming Mini

10) Slow Burn by Tori Temple (M/M)

This is a very short Sip by Torquere that covers one very hot encounter. I love Tori Temple, so it was worth the read for me. :)

11) Cowgirl Up and Ride by Lorelei James - Upcoming Mini

12) Long Hard Ride by Lorelei James (Re-read)

I re-read A Long Hard Ride in preparation for Rough Raw and Ready since two of the main characters in that book are introduced in this installment. (Not that I minded too much re-reading this book *g*) Lorelei James style, this is the story of Colby McKay & Channing Kincaid. -- how they meet on the rodeo circuit and their sexual adventures before they fall in love and reach their happily ever after. This is a hot installment with lots of M/F/M, M/F, & M/M & one M/M/F/M scene included. A Long Hard Ride is the perfect title for this book. It's not really my favorite in the series, but that's mainly due to the short time it takes for Colby and Channing to realize they're in love and I had other issues. As for the erotic part of the book, there's no question that it was hot and I enjoyed that part of it plenty!

13) Rough Raw and Ready by Lorelei James - Upcoming Mini

How was your reading month? Any good ones?

Review: My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy

A wild west heiress, Summer Wine Lee knows that she's not an acceptable bride for her fiance's knickerbocker family. She grew up in an Arizona mining town, cares more for critters than people, carries a knife under her skirts, and, worst of all, she has a highly improper secret from her past. But she also has high hopes that a real English Duke can teach her how to be a lady...

Were it not for his father's gambling debts, the Duke of Monchester would never have stooped to civilize Summer. But the more time he spends with her, and the more social scrapes he has to rescue her from, the more he finds it impossible to change her into a proper lady. How could he, when he's falling in love with her just the way she is?

This is my first book by Ms. Kennedy and one I chose to read because of my love of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady. I really wanted to see how this story would develop.

You can find my review of My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy at Musings of a Bibliophile.

My Unfair Lady releasing today December 1, 2009
Review based on an ARC received from Sourcebooks.