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Posts Tagged ‘romance’

Becoming: A Chronicle of Metamorphosis

By Mark Lichterman

Metropolis Ink (June 15, 2008)  

Amazon Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Mark-Lichterman/dp/0646492160

“Do you remember your radio and “Captain Midnight,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Junior Miss” and “Let’s Pretend”? The first time you inhaled a cigarette? Your first swallow of hard liquor? The thrill of the first exploration of the body of your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife… your own body? Your first orgasm? Remember when as a people we loved America, and showed it? Then you might be ready for a nostalgic, funny, romantic, sexually frustrating novel. A novel that may remind many of us of ourselves, “way back then,” when God’s most mysterious creation was the opposite sex. A novel about life and the often funny, sometimes sad, day-to-day things that stir the memories of our lives…”

The above is a quote from the blurb for Mark Lichterman’s Becoming and I put it there because it so aptly describes the novel. When I decided to review this book, I was worried because number one, I rarely have time to sit down and read a book as long as this one and two, because I stupidly felt I’d never be able to connect with anything in it. I’m female, Christian, grew up in the country, and the time period was before my time. I was wrong, wrong, wrong! The subject matter is timeless, the characters so genuine they jump from the pages and into your heart, and being the mother of boys—I could even relate to the male point of view.

The story begins in 1939 on Chicago’s eastside and follows five-year-old Mitchie for the next seventeen years of his life. A true coming of age story told in graphic detail. And the humor—did I mention the humor? I found myself laughing out loud many times. I especially loved when the humor came at a time when it was totally unexpected, the way it is in ‘real life’. I can’t say all I’d like to say about the book because it needs to be experienced first hand and I don’t want to spoil that experience for the reader by saying too much.

Mr. Lichterman is a talented storyteller with a beautifully unique writing style and strong voice. His characters are delightfully flawed, giving them an unsurpassed charm and authentic quality. Becoming transcends all gender, ethnic, and geographical backgrounds, so no matter where you’re coming from, if you love truly great coming of age stories, give this one a try.

My one complaint is I felt the book ended too soon. Yes, even at 736 pages, I was sad when reading that last page and know these characters will be with me for a long time.

–Willow

       

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Promise Me Tonight

Sara Lindsey

Signet Eclipse-February, 2010

Pre-order Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Promise-Me-Tonight-Weston-Novel/dp/0451229371/

This Holiday season has been an incredibly busy one for me and has left me precious little time to enjoy the pleasure of reading, so it took me a bit longer to finish Sara Lindsey’s Promise Me Tonight than it might have if I’d waited until after the New Year to delve into its pages. But the Christmas season, a season of love and giving, seemed the perfect time to give myself the gift of reading a lovely romance, if only for a few stolen moments each day. 

For Isabella Weston, there has never been any doubt about what she wants in life — to become the wife of her older brother’s best friend, James. She spends her childhood adoring him in secret, cherishing her girlish fantasies of love and romance. On the night of her coming out ball, she decides the time is right to make her feelings known at last. But…

Tormented by the deaths of his mother and infant sister and his father’s subsequent suicide, James Sheffield vowed as a young boy never to give his heart away. Loving, he has learned, only leads to pain. His affection for “Izzie” is purely platonic, until the night of her coming out ball when he is forced to see her not as the adorable scamp he has known for years, but as the lovely and alluring young woman she has become. When stolen kisses in the library confirm his worst fears — that she is capable of stealing his heart, James flees the country, far from the temptation of Izzy’s kisses. But though they are separated by distance, he discovers Isabella is ever present in his thoughts.

When James returns home for the reading of his uncle’s will, Izzie puts a new plan in motion, a daring seduction that earns her his wedding ring, but seems to have cost her his love…

Though I found Isabella to be bright, headstrong and delightfully daring, her character seemed a bit shallow in the story’s early chapters, not fully developed apart from her obsession with James. She didn’t fully come alive for me until midway through the book, when a few well-placed and very touching scenes brought out her vulnerability. Much like James, I fell in love with her slowly, but once I did, there was no going back. The heartbreakingly handsome James was much more substantial and complex from the get go. Ms. Lindsey’s dialogue was spot on and she did a spectacular job of getting into the male psyche. I also enjoyed the secondary characters and particularly liked the relationship between Isabella and her younger sister, Olivia.

Promise Me Tonight is extremely well crafted, with a tightly woven plot that takes very few side trips from the romance at its heart. The story has a nice flow with just the right balance of ups and downs and plenty of sexual tension. Though the sex was a bit overdone for my taste, I enjoyed journeying with these characters as they overcame their fears and doubts and eventually found their “happily ever after.”

I feel privileged to have been given an early glimpse at this not yet released, first-in-a-series romance. I recommend Promise Me Tonight to any fan of sensual historical romance.

— Honeybee

https://workinggirlreviews.wordpress.com  

  

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bunco-babes-tell-allBunco Babes Tell All

Maria Geraci

Penguin/Berkley – May 2009

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Bunco-Babes-Tell-Maria-Geraci/dp/0425227588/

Author Site: http://www.MariaGeraci.com

 

Okay, I have to confess to never having heard of Bunco until I received Maria Geraci’s Bunco Babes Tell All for review. What fun! You don’t have to know the game to enjoy this delightful story filled with humor, warmth, hot romance, and the loyalty of long time friendships.The Babes of Whispering Bay, Florida have set aside every Thursday night for Bunco. A night when they can gather to roll the dice, eat great food, drink signature drinks, and share secrets—a night to let it all hang out and totally de-stress. Because ‘what happens at Bunco, stays at Bunco’.

Real estate broker Kitty Burke is living in her grandmother’s vintage home with the intention of making repairs before putting it on the market, as her mother wants. But Kitty’s secret wish is to buy the home for herself. Unfortunately, although the most successful broker in the area, Kitty has never managed her spending and the repairs are straining her financial resources. Add that to the slow market and she fears she’ll never have the money to make the down payment.

Of the twelve babes, only Kitty is still unmarried and at thirty-five she feels it’s time to let go of her idea of the perfect man. Eighteen years earlier Kitty fell in love with Kevin Costner’s character from Bull Durham, and she’s never met a man in reality who can measure up to that image. Then she meets Steve and that first meeting is anything but perfect. No woman wants to meet what may be the sexiest man ever while her panties are around her ankles and she’s squatting in the bushes to relieve herself. Once Kitty has overcome her embarrassment at being caught in such humiliating circumstances, she decides to do something totally out of character. She goes after substitute plumber, Steve, for a one-night stand.

With three failed marriages behind him and between jobs, Steve isn’t exactly great husband material, but then Kitty isn’t planning a wedding, she only wants great sex. But there’s a lot more to Steve than Kitty ever planned on. Will she be able to let go of her preconceived notions of the perfect man and grab hold of true love?

Ms. Geraci paints a fascinating portrait of small town life and its inhabitants in Bunco Babes Tell All. The characters are well drawn. Kitty’s best friends, Pilar and Shea, are everything you’d ever want your friends to be, even if they are a little too honest and drive you crazy at times. There’s enough intrigue surrounding our hero, Steve, to keep you turning the pages. The town of Whispering Bay is in an uproar over new beachfront condominium plans from an out of town developer and stuck in the middle is Kitty. Lovely, charming and real, I loved her from page one. This story is at time hilarious and at others, heartwarming and tender. The love scenes are just hot enough and tastefully done by the author.

Bunco Babes Tell All is a fast, lighthearted, feel good read perfect for busy readers. I truly enjoyed my time with the Babes and heartily recommend it to all. As a bonus, in the back of the book are tips for playing Bunco, setting up Bunco clubs, recipes, and an excerpt from Maria Geraci’s Bunco Babes Gone Wild. Enjoy!

 –Willow

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scoundrels-kissScoundrel’s Kiss

Carrie Lofty

Kensington Publishing – January 5, 2010

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Scoundrels-Kiss-Carrie-Lofty/dp/1420104764

Author site: http://www.carrielofty.com

 

When I read the synopsis for Carrie Lofty’s ‘Scoundrel’s Kiss’ and saw that the story was set in the year 1201 I questioned whether I was the right reviewer for the book. I have long been a fan of the Historical Romance genre, but since this was a completely new time period for me, I’ll admit to being afraid I’d have to wade through pages of unfamiliar dialects and customs, hence detracting from my enjoyment of the story. I needn’t have worried. From its opening scenes I was completely swept away by this 13th Century tale of addiction and deception, of love and abuse.

In a life she can barely remember, beautiful and intelligent Ada worked as a foreign languages translator for noblewoman, Dona Valdedrona. Due to a case of mistaken identity, she was kidnapped and tortured. She turned to opium as a means of coping with the horrors she endured and the nightmares that would seemingly plague her for the rest of her life. Her need for the drug soon consumed her, and there was nothing she wouldn’t do to satisfy her addiction. In her new life, she lies and steals to obtain what she cannot beg or borrow.

Gavriel, a novice monk in the prestigious Order of Santiago, hides within the hallowed halls of a monastery in Ucles to try and escape some nightmares of his own. A former slave warrior, he took vows of chastity and nonviolence in the hope of atoning for the sins of his past. Healing Ada of her addiction remains his final test before he can become a full-fledged member of the order. What is at first merely a mutual temptation of the flesh soon becomes a battle of wills, but the pair discovers they must unite if they are to survive danger that lurks in unexpected places and defeat enemies neither knew they had.

Reading this extremely well plotted novel was much like watching a really great action adventure movie. Ada and Gavriel find themselves in danger from their first encounter, and things go from bad to worse for them as the story progresses, leaving the reader on the edge of her seat. Add to that elements of betrayal and deception, a few well placed love scenes, and political intrigue and you have a genuine nail-biting, can’t-put-downable reading experience. 

Though the characters are well drawn, I’ll admit it took me awhile to warm up to Ada. Headstrong and tough as nails, she seemed overly nasty at first. But as I journeyed deeper into her past I was able to understand her flaws better and I so loved watching her evolve into the character she became in the end. The equally flawed Gavriel, with his endearing blend of strength and self-doubt, came alive for me from the start. He is one of the hottest heroes I’ve come across in quite some time and I must admit Ada’s was not the only heart he captured! The story is populated with a cast of secondary characters that are no less lifelike than the hero and heroine, and the reader gets a sense of real people with very real struggles and triumphs.

In short, Carrie Lofty has created a dynamite story with interesting, likeable characters and a richly layered plot. By turns scorchingly sexy and tantalizingly tender, Scoundrel’s Kiss not only sizzles, it sparkles.

Honeybee

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edge-of-winterThe Edge of Winter

By Luanne Rice

Bantam Books (c) 2007

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Edge-Winter-Luanne-Rice/dp/055358765X

 

For my family, the third week in July is Lake Week. Every year I look forward to this seven-day hiatus from my real life; a week of beach, bonding with family, and of course, books. On the day before we left, I searched through my TBR pile for the perfect beach read, thinking something sunny and glamorous and oh so romantic would be just the thing. I don’t know what made me grab Luanne Rice’s The Edge of Winter. Set in a small Rhode Island community in late February, the book hardly seemed to fit the bill. But after skimming the first two pages I found myself at the point of no return, and so I packed the book into my beach bag, along with my sunglasses and my jumbo-sized coffee cup. I’m so glad I did. Filled with complex relationships, The Edge of Winter is a heartwarming story of hope, redemption, and second chances.  

For fifteen-year-old Mickey Halloran, it has been a winter of changes as she and her mother, Neve, rebuild their lives in the wake of a painful divorce from the father who seems to have forgotten her. As if being abandoned by her father wasn’t bad enough, Mickey and her best friend, Jenna, seem to be growing apart. As they brave the elements and ride to a secluded cove in a state park one frozen February morning in the hope of spotting a rare snowy owl, Mickey senses their childhood love of bird watching is something Jenna might be outgrowing. Leaving the park, Mickey is injured when her bicycle skids on a patch of ice. She is aided by Shane West, a reclusive surfer boy she knows from school, and park ranger, Tim O’Casey. When Neve shows up at the emergency room, Mickey learns that a warrant has been issued for her father’s arrest for nonpayment of child support. Mickey struggles to work through her feelings of betrayal. When it seems things can’t get much worse, her beloved snowy owl is injured and Neve, Tim, Shane and Mickey, along with Tim’s elderly father, Joe, WWII veteran and bird rehab specialist, must all pull together to save the owl. Thus begins an emotional journey that explores the relationships between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, best friends, and lovers of all ages.

Though painted on the canvas of a stark winter beach, the setting is utterly beautiful, sprinkled with wildlife, glittering waves, and the first hints of spring. The characters are well drawn and likeable, and the plot is multilayered and symbolic. The owl’s damaged wing seems to represent the faltering relationship between Tim and Joe, while a mysterious WWII U-boat that lies beneath the cold, still water represents the deep secrets of the past. The author skillfully weaves all of the story elements together to an ending that is both satisfying and memorable.

I found The Edge of Winter to be a most heartwarming and compelling read, and I’m anxious to check out many more titles by this talented author.

— Honeybee

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theperfectpoisonThe Perfect Poison

By Amanda Quick

Putnam, April 21, 2009

Historical Romantic Suspense

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Poison-Arcane-Society-Book/dp/0399155805/

Scandal—the stuff Victorian society thrives on. Botanist and member of the Arcane Society, Lucinda Bromley found herself embroiled in the juiciest kind of scandal when she was suspected in her fiancé’s death by poisoning, followed by her father’s suicide. Since then she has been ostracized by society. But Lucinda is no ordinary botanist. She has the paranormal ability to detect poison and volunteers her services to the police in suspected poisoning cases. When called in to inspect the body of a member of society, Lucinda is shocked to detect that the man was indeed poisoned and by a poison concocted using a very rare fern. The very fern that was stolen from her conservatory earlier. Fearing she may be arrested and convicted of the man’s murder, Lucinda only tells the police that he was poisoned, but doesn’t mention the fern. She calls on psychical investigator, Caleb Jones, to find the thief who stole her fern.

 Caleb, also a member of the Arcane Society founded by his ancestor, has the psychic ability to work percentages and solve problems by connecting seemingly unconnected facts. Believing Lucinda’s case may lead him to the man he’s been searching for, he agrees to take the case. As the two paranormal sleuths work together to solve the crime and save Lucinda from prison, passion ignites and leads to a romantic relationship. Because of his relationship to the founder who went mad, Caleb believes he too is slowly descending into madness, which prevents him from offering marriage.

I’m a huge fan of the Jayne Ann Krentz books written under her pseudonym, Amanda Quick. I fell in love with the Quick stories years ago when I picked up a copy of Ravished in a used bookstore. After that I searched for her books everywhere, now I preorder them. Although I love paranormal, I found the Arcane Society series a little lacking when compared to the author’s previous works. So, when I received her newest, The Perfect Poison, I didn’t start reading it immediately as I’d always done before. Now that I’ve had a chance to read Quick’s newest, I’m happy to see the author’s writing is returning somewhat to the older style. I found the suspense in this one a little weak, but the romance was lovely and the mystery interesting.

We met Caleb in a previous book and I was thrilled to finally get his story. I adored both Lucinda and Caleb. The way their romance develops is both delightful and refreshing. I like it when the hero and heroine know what they want and go about getting it without so much dillydallying and wishy washy excuses to keep them apart. The internal conflict was there because of Caleb’s possible decent to madness, but although this keeps him from offering marriage, it doesn’t keep him from passionately pursuing an intimate and professional relationship with Lucinda. I can take or leave sex scenes in a story, but the love scene in the drying shed between Lucinda and Caleb was one of the best and most romantic I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. Ms. Quick is a master of words and a phenomenal storyteller. I especially love her unique use of verbs that bring a sentence immediately to life.

So, although I still found the book not quite up to the standards of the earlier Amanda Quick stories, it was close and I highly recommend it to any reader who loves Victorian romance with light suspense.

Willow–

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simplewishesSimple Wishes

By Lisa Dale

Hachette Book Group

January, 2009

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Wishes-Lisa-Dale/dp/0446406899 

 

 

This lovely story is a story of relationships: relationships between mothers and daughters, between lovers, and between friends.

 

When she leaves her lonely childhood in rural Pennsylvania at age seventeen for the big-city lights of New York, Adele Matin swears it is never to return. But when a foolish mistake causes her life to come crashing down around her at age thirty, Adele finds herself with no option except the little cottage on Notch Lane that was left to her in her mother’s will. Broken in spirit, she sees the cottage as a temporary prison, a place to hide out and lick her wounds until she can regroup and resume her life in the city. What Adele isn’t counting on is the depth of feelings the cottage evokes in her, her instant attraction to her reclusive neighbor, Jay, or the bond of friendship she quickly forms with Beatrice, the older and wiser Korean woman who spends her weekends at the Lucky Moon, the cottage just down the lane.

 

Lisa Dale has done a phenomenal job of developing the characters within this story. Entering their worlds, I quickly got the sense of real people with real problems and very real personalities. I was immediately drawn to Notch Lane, a charming community snuggled against the breathtaking beauty of the Pennsylvania mountains. The story is definitely character-driven. The external plot moves at a deceptively leisurely pace, while at the same time, what is happening inside Adele is so gripping I found myself turning the pages as fast as I could to see how things would turn out for her as she struggled to resolve the hurts of her childhood and move on to discover the true meaning of friendship and love.

 

Simple Wishes is an emotional and romantic read that I recommend to anyone who likes a good, relationship story.

 

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— Honeybee     

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