Forever a Lord  - Delilah Marvelle After racing through the first half of this book, I thought I might have finally broken my month long streak of mediocre romance reads. Then came the second half and my interest waned with each passing chapter. It might just be that I'm suffering from romance fatigue. Or it might be that the second half of this book has too much boxing and a completely predictable and trite resolution to all the initial angst and conflict.

Her Favorite Temptation - Sarah Mayberry This novella is a sweet little story. Nothing dramatic happens and the hero and heroine are both nice, normal and rational. No big misunderstandings, no villains, no cliches. Just a simple story about a gorgeous musician who falls in love with a gorgeous doctor.

If you're looking for angst or drama, you might want to skip this book.

It Takes Two to Tangle (The Matchmaker Trilogy, #1)

It Takes Two to Tangle (The Matchmaker Trilogy, #1) - Theresa Romain The writing is good and the characters are very likable but this book just didn't grab me or hold my attention. Maybe it's the lack of believable conflict and limited tension that kept me putting the book aside for days at a time.

The Shy Bride (Traditional Greek Husbands #1 & Greek Tycoons #6)

The Shy Bride (Traditional Greek Husbands #1 & Greek Tycoons #6) - Lucy Monroe This is the first HP I've read featuring a Greek billionaire. I might have liked it better if the hero's speech pattern hadn't been so stiff and awkward. Maybe the author thinks lack of contractions and old fashioned vocabulary best conveys that English is not Neo's native language but, for me, it just made him seem like a bad cartoon character.

There's very little conflict or plot in this book. Because it's character driven and I couldn't take the hero seriously, the romance didn't pop for me at all.

On a positive note, the heroine and her phobias are interesting. She is the only reason I kept reading to the end.

A Night of Scandal

A Night of Scandal - Sarah Morgan I can't believe I read the whole thing. Incredibly over-the-top and ridiculous with a hero that probably would be best served remaining single and childless.

Marooned with the Maverick (Montana Mavericks: Rust Creek Cowboys, #1)

Marooned with the Maverick (Montana Mavericks: Rust Creek Cowboys, #1) - Christine Rimmer I really enjoyed the setting of this book. It opens with a devastating flood that wipes out part of a small mountain town in Montana. During the aftermath of the flood, Willa and Collin become friends then lovers. They knew each other growing up and both had crushes on each other yet neither acted on it because he’s a bad boy and she’s a good- girl. Apparently in Montana, bad boys can’t date good girls? It’s this lack of believable conflict that kept me from fully engaging in the romance. Also, neither Willa nor Collin really pop as fully formed people to me. They seem a bit vague and flat.

What did capture my attention is all the flood stuff. I think the author did a great job describing what it's like to experience that kind of natural disaster and how it affects a small town and its citizens.

The Lion's Lady (Crown's Spies #1)

The Lion's Lady (Crown's Spies #1) - Julie Garwood My 1988 self might have loved the asshole hero and super plucky heroine but my 2013 self can't make it past the first third of the book.

The prose is choppy with frequent and abrupt changes of POV and the plot isn't compelling or fresh enough to keep me engaged so this goes on my DNF shelf.
The Wedding Fling (Harlequin Blaze #734) - Meg  Maguire I love Meg Maguire's writing and this book did not disappoint. Despite having a rather generic premise and a somewhat predictable story arc, I was pleasantly surprised at how eager I was to keep reading.

The main characters, Leigh and Will, are very likeable and they have great chemistry, both as friends and lovers. Without that, I would have been incredibly annoyed at how quickly they fall in love (less than one week). It's still pretty far-fetched but I was able to roll with it because neither is carrying around a lot of angsty baggage. They are flawed individuals but have self-deprecating senses of humor which add to their appeal as a couple.

While this isn't my most favorite Meg Maguire book (that honor belongs Trespass), I would still recommend it.

Taking Him Down

Taking Him Down - Meg  Maguire 2.5 Stars

Middle of the road Harlequin Blaze which is odd because usually I love anything written by Meg Maguire (aka Cara McKenna).

There are some good, emotionally satisfying scenes between the hero/heroine but the Mixed Martial Arts backdrop along with the subplots didn’t appeal to me.

Beauty and the Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club, #2)

Beauty and the Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club, #2) - Jessica Clare I really disliked the first book in this series but I got lured into reading this one by the intriguing premise, low price and good reviews.
I should have trusted my gut, though, and skipped it.

I love "Beauty and the Beast" stories but the execution on this one is poorly done. Hunter is a very reclusive 30 year old billionaire who overhears a three minute conversation between Gretchen and the heroine from the first book in the series. Somehow, in that brief amount of time, he concludes that Gretchen is “bold and fearless” with a “smart mind and a sharp tongue” and she is meant to be with him. She begins to “haunt his dreams” and he declares that HE MUST HAVE HER. Because he’s so rich, he concocts a very expensive and ridiculous scheme to lure her into moving into his mansion for a month so he can be near her and win her heart. Once she’s in his mansion, though, he seems to forget all about his plan. He spends a lot of time getting angry with her, pushing her away and being a complete dick because he has scars (which are initially described as being on the left side of his face but two chapters later have miraculously migrated to the right side of his face). He firmly believes no one will ever love him because he’s so physically hideous. The “beauty and the beast” premise would have worked much better for me if he hadn’t been the one to orchestrate Gretchen moving into his house. His reluctance to enter into a relationship with Gretchen and rejection of all her advances would have seemed more organic and true if she had been unwillingly thrust into his life. Because he’s the catalyst, however, it seems like manufactured conflict to fill pages and build up sexual tension. Speaking of sexual tension, Hunter is a virgin and pretty damn pissy about it. Gretchen figures this out fairly early on and decides that she wants to enter into a relationship with him. She is drawn to his scars (of course) and wants to help him be less lonely. So what does she do? She barges in on him while he’s masturbating and gives him a blow job. Does Hunter figure out that this is pretty much a green light to proceed without caution with her? Nope. He continues to be surly and unreceptive to her flirting and sexual suggestions. Until suddenly he doesn’t and he becomes the aggressor. I found it all quite bewildering and hard to accept.

As a result, I didn’t like Hunter at all. His speech is stiff and formal. He never uses contractions and says things like “Do you not like the quiet?” or “I simply wore a jacket because it was pleasing to me to dress well.” I think the author was trying to reinforce how uncomfortable he is around people but the dude wasn’t born in 1817 in London. He grew up in America in the 1990’s and went to Dartmouth College. His speech pattern should be that of a normal 30 year old guy.

Gretchen is a lot more likable initially but then she takes a turn for the worse when she throws a dinner party to kick start Hunter back into society and force him out of his self-imposed exile. Once she became unlikable, I struggled to finish the book.

Reading other reviews for this book, though, I seem to be in the minority as it has lots of 4 and 5 stars. It must be that Jessica Clare’s style of writing and storytelling isn’t for me. I’m not getting lured into reading the next book in the series no matter how tempting the premise and price.

Wait for You (Wait for You, #1)

Wait for You  -  Jennifer L. Armentrout, J. Lynn I could write a very lengthy review of everything wrong with this book and it really should have been a "did not finish" yet I couldn't stop reading it.

If you can overlook the predictable storyline, the too perfect boy and the frustrating girl, there is some great romantic and sexual tension smooshed in between all the new adult silliness. It's what I was craving when I picked up this book and it delivered.

The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister, #2)

The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister, #2) - Courtney Milan When it takes me five days to finish a romance novel, it's not a good sign. I kept finding excuses not to pick it back up but I finally managed to finish it.

I've really loved other books by this author (especially her novellas) but this one didn't work for me. Too many side characters, story lines and confusing lineages. The romance between Jane and Oliver feels short-changed. Just when some good tension starts to build the two, the scene switches to Jane's sister and her tepid secondary romance or Oliver's sister Free and poof... the story bogs down and I had to force myself to keep reading in hopes that Oliver and Jane would reappear soon.

Destiny's Embrace - Beverly Jenkins 2.5 Stars

I liked the "fish out of water" premise and the overall plot is interesting. I didn't, however, like the writing style and I found myself getting distracted with the odd syntax, clunky metaphors and awkward euphemisms. They fall in love very quickly - within less than a week- which makes for very little tension.

In Total Surrender (Secrets, #3) - Anne Mallory I’m a sucker for “cheerful heroine charms lonely hero” so I was really looking forward to reading this book. Some parts I really liked but other parts fell flat.

The heroine, Phoebe, is great. She’s smart, spunky and doesn’t let the hero intimidate her. The hero, Andreas, is definitely flawed and has a very dark backstory. I think the adjective dark is used about 100 times in the first three chapters alone. Either the author was really trying to hammer the point home that he is "dark" or she lacked a good thesaurus. The first 30% of the book is all told from Andreas’ POV and it isn’t until Phoebe’s POV starts that I became truly invested in the story. Their interactions and dialogue are humorous and engaging. The tension between the Phoebe and Andreas builds at a nice pace and makes the romance believable. The steam level is very low (verges on behind-closed-doors) but it worked for this story and didn’t detract from my enjoyment.

What didn’t work for me is the storyline. It is incredibly complicated and convoluted. I think I could read the book three more times very slowly and still not understand what is going on in regards to the missing brother, the carriage company ownership, the revenge plot and the politics. I’d like to blame it on not having read book #2 in this series but I think it was just an overly complicated plot that is doled out in bits and pieces throughout and never gets fully summarized by the end.

Overall: Strong romantic tension, vague sex scenes and baffling storyline.

Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry, #1)

Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry, #1) - Simone Elkeles Completely cheesy and full of cliches with an epilogue that made me laugh out loud in disbelief.

But yet... I had a lot of fun reading it. I just hope teenagers recognize it for the fantasy that it is.
Entwined - Emma Jensen 3.5 Stars.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I liked it quite a bit. Had I read it in 1995 when it was first published, I probably would have given it 5 stars. 18 years later, however, it's got a few too many "old school" attributes for me to love it.

The heroine, Isobel, is fantastic. She's plucky, smart and blurts out exactly what she's thinking. Her life isn't easy but she's doing the best she can to keep her family together despite being saddled with a couple of knuckle-headed brothers and foolish father. Enter the hero who is blind but keeping it a secret from everyone. Nathan is a spy who has been injured and retreats to his country estate to recuperate and hide from the world. Isobel's father is working for him as a secretary but when that doesn't work out, Nathan coerces Isobel into accepting the position provided she live with him at his estate. Only Isobel has figured out he's blind and he needs her assistance with some unresolved spy business.

The interactions between Isobel and Nathan are great. They are intellectual equals despite being from different social classes. He becomes instantly attracted to her and starts proposing marriage. She eventually accepts and the rest of the book focuses on how she falls in love with him and there is some spy/mystery/dangerous stuff thrown in for added conflict.

What didn't quite work for me was how Nathan fell in love with Isobel and how much he took her agreeable nature for granted. He wasn't an asshole but bordered on it at times. Also, I was a bit mystified as to how well Nathan could, despite blindness, ride a horse alone but couldn't eat soup without making a mess. The spy plot was trite and unoriginal (at least by today's standards) and except for setting up a couple of sequels, completely skippable.

What did really work for me was the romantic/sexual tension. The author does a great job of building it up and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough during the encounters between Isobel and Nathan.

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Wool Omnibus (Wool, #1-5)
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