He Loves Lucy by Susan Donovan

I really enjoyed He Loves Lucy. It's been a long time since I've read about such a great hero. It's refreshing to have a truly nice guy as the hero. I also really liked Lucy's character. She's one of the few really overweight heroines I've read about, even though she loses that weight throughout the story.

Here's the blurb:
Marketing exec Lucy Cunningham is thrilled when her firm lands The Palm Club account. The campaign concept for Miami's hottest fitness club was Lucy's idea: take one fitness-challenged woman, put her in front of TV cameras, and into the hands of the club's top personal trainer, Theo Redmond. And there's a big cash reward for each pound shed. It seems like a brilliant idea-until Lucy gets picked to be the guinea pig. It's obvious she needs to drop the pounds, but the idea of letting it all hang out in front of some Malibu Ken jock has her choking on her Milk Duds before she even begins!

After one meeting, Theo knows Lucy will be his toughest client and one of the most unforgettable women he'll ever meet. Smart-mouthed and stubborn, it's clear she isn't fond of marching to anyone's drumbeat but her own. But she shocks Theo by rising to the challenge like a pro. And he finds his heart in jeopardy long before Lucy starts to slim down and turn heads.

As Lucy sweats her way into a whole new life, things start to heat up between her and Theo. But trust doesn't come easy for either of them. They've both been burned by romance in the past. Now Lucy and Theo are about to discover that appearances can be deceiving-and in the end, true love lies somewhere between pizza and Pilates...

I enjoyed this story. Theo, or "Theo-dorable," as people call him, is such a great guy and he's just irresistible. I also think Lucy really learns about herself as the story progresses and the two of them are just great together. Now, I'm sure there are problems here that I'm missing, but I think I just enjoyed the characters so much that any plot quibbles went to the wayside. So it was light, fun reading with great characters. If you're in the mood for that, I definitely recommend it. I've heard it isn't Susan Donovan's best, so I can't wait to find some more of her. Has anyone read her and have some recommendations?

I was going to talk about The Captain by Lynn Collum, but I think I'll wait until I completely finish it tonight. But so far, it's good. Zebra Regency, but there isn't a drawing room to be seen! Of course, there are a few plot elements that might turn people off, but I think they were done well and didn't bother me. So more on this one later.

All Màili's fault

From Màili's blog:

1. Take first five novels from your bookshelf.
2. Book 1 -- first sentence
3. Book 2 -- last sentence on page 50
4. Book 3 -- second sentence on page 100
5. Book 4 -- next to the last sentence on page 150
6. Book 5 -- final sentence of the book
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph.
8. Feel free to "cheat" to make it a better paragraph.
9. Name your sources
10.Post to your blog.

From the books sitting on my desk (hey, there were 5):

W.C. Fields got it wrong, Shelley McCleery thought. Aunt Lydia shot her a smug look, then said, "Ah, so you've come to call upon my niece." She had been consenting, hadn't she? The worst was that the urgency her curse brought upon her muted the horror brought by every sight, every smell and sound, and she was grateful for it. "But I reckon as long as I strive to be worthy of a queen like you, I cannot go too far wrong."

Ah...strange paragraph and no cheating.

Book 1: The French Connection by Tracy Kelleher
Book 2: The Hope Chest by Jacquie D'Alessandro, Julie Kenner, and Susan Kearney
Book 3: Star Quality by Lori Foster, Lucy Monroe, and Dianne Castell
Book 4: For Camelot's Honor by Sarah Zettel
Book 5: The Destined Queen by Deborah Hale

And since Shannon did it, here's my completely EC version:

The woman behind the counter had the largest set of breasts Taylor had ever seen. "No, I think I can find my room." Up close, Celestine was stunning, regardless of the vacant expression on her face. His eyes were hard as he examined her wound, tilting his head. "Even if you do like putting wicked toys up your Bloodmate's arse."

Erm, no clue how to make it work by cheating.

Book 1: Waiting For It by Rhyannon Byrd
Book 2: Summer Heat by Jaci Burton
Book 3: Pirate's Desire by Delilah Devlin
Book 4: Moving Violations by Lora Leigh, Veronica Chadwick
Book 5: Manaconda by Sherri L. King, Lora Leigh, and Jaid Black

This did remind me that I haven't read many of the print EC titles that I have. Hmmm...

Also bought two books at the UBS today. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and Mouth to Mouth by Erin McCarthy. They also had a Red Sage book there, never seen that, as well as a Black Lace one, but I didn't recognize the author (and now can't remember who it was) and didn't buy it.

Chasing Secrets by Kelsey Roberts and Bodyguard by Bev Havlir

I was in the mood for something short, so I picked up one of the Harlequin Intrigues on my shelf. I've got a whole shelf full of them since it's one of my favorite lines to read, but haven't had the time. This is another Landry one and involves Clayton Landry who was sent to jail for the murder of his wife. Victoria DeSimone worked for him and his wife in their law firm and her testimony on the stand did NOT help him. Unfortunately, her honesty hurt his case. She's been shunned by everyone in the small town since the Landrys are so popular, and is just now (it's been like 4 years since the trial) deciding that she needs to leave and start over somewhere else. Well, someone tries to kill Clayton in prison and he uses the distraction to escape. He comes after Victoria and makes her help him since he thinks she has something to do with all this and also because of what she did at the trial.

There's a lot more, but I did enjoy reading it. Just the fast-paced, quick read that I needed. The Vegas marriage was a bit unneeded for the plot, but I confess I just decided to ignore it. *g*

On impulse I decided to buy some books from Ellora's Cave last night. Decided to try a couple new authors, so I bought Bodyguard by Bev Havlir, Tales of the Shareem: Rees by Allyson James (no idea why I bought it, we'll see later if it's any good) and oddly enough, the next Trek Mi Q'an book by Jaid Black even though the first one was so over the top cheesy. Maybe that's why I bought it. *g* Sometimes you need over the top cheesy. So...I read Bodyguard last night. Here's the blurb from EC's site:
Dr. Paige Harrington devoted most of her young life to becoming a trauma surgeon. She missed out on a lot of things, including dating and relationships. But now she's ready for a change. Now that she's independent, she wants to enjoy herself, go out on dates and finally have some sex.

But her plans go awry when she witnesses a brutal murder. The only one who's seen the killer's face and lived to tell about it, the police are determined to protect their witness.

Detective Nick Santorelli is not happy about his latest assignment babysitting a prissy doctor. Things get more complicated when he finds himself attracted to Paige. He knows there is a sexy woman hiding underneath the bulky clothes and uptight attitude, and he sets out to prove himself right.

The two quickly find themselves mired in a hot, sexy affair. But there is danger stalking Paige, a killer who intends to leave no witnesses to his perverted crimes…

I rather liked it and it was another nice fast-paced read that I recommend if you're in the mood for a contemporary erotic romance. It's about 112 pages in pdf form, which I think usually think of as being category length in print books. So short, but not overly short. We've got a almost-virgin here, but since she's a young doctor and spent most of adolescence in college and med school, I didn't mind. Nick's quite hot, even though he's also a bit hot-headed and does some stupid things toward the end. Overall I enjoyed the book. It's not a "wow" book, but it also wasn't a stinker. It was nice to take a chance on a book and have it turn out okay. I don't really love a lot of the authors that have the huge fan followings, like Lora Leigh. I enjoy her books, but they really aren't THAT good ALL the time. I still have to read some of the ones of hers that I have.

Well, that's all for now. Two nice, average reads.

Recent Reads

I figure people are probably sick of seeing Stiff when they come here. So here's my driveby post.

Read Hello, Gorgeous! by MaryJanice Davidson on Sunday. It's pretty short, but it was a fun, fast-paced read. I don't think I ever got annoyed at the heroine, though I didn't particularly care about the hero. Not in a he isn't hot or I hate him, more a he's there, he's cute, but I don't lust after him. Even though I didn't really care, I still came away from the read liking it. Not sure if it's worth the trade price since it IS so short, but maybe a library read? I think it was just want I needed to read on Sunday, something short, funny, and cute and MY choice to read at that time, as opposed to the review pile.

I also read The McKenzie Artifact by Alison Kent. I have an ARC of Larger Than Life that I really want to read, so I figured I'd better get to this one. I enjoyed it. Of course, now I'm really really looking forward to reading LTL. And Ezra...hmmm....an interesting character.

So there you go. Two good, but short, reads.

Yeah, I'm too lazy to put in the book covers in this post.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Last fall, I needed a gift for my parents’ anniversary. When in doubt, I give books, so I was in Barnes and Noble. Browsing along, I happened across this book. Knowing my mother’s dark humor, I was pretty sure this would be right up her alley. I sent it, along with some other things, and promptly forgot about it. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I remembered and asked her about it. She said it was very good and that even my aunt had liked it. So I decided it was time for me to get around to reading it, too. Lo and behold, PaperBack Swap (link on the sidebar) had a copy and I ordered one. It’s a great book and the author has an amazing wit and it’s a very readable book. And that was a very bad sentence that I don’t feel like changing. So…READ THIS BOOK! How can you not like a book that starts its introduction off like this:

The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back. The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you.

I suppose the book isn't for the very squeamish. It talks about the dead in a rather irreverent way, but I don't think it's ever offending. I learned lots of new things, though I'm pretty sure my husband is glad I'm done so I don't interrupt his nightly reading with things like this:

Here is the deeply unnerving thing: The heart, cut from the chest, keeps beating on its own. Did Poe know this when he wrote "The Tell-Tale Heart"? So animated are these freestanding hearts that surgeons have been know to drop them. "We wash them off and they do just fine." replied New York heart transplant surgeon Mehmet Oz when I asked him about it. I imagined the heart slipping across the linoleum, the looks exchanged, the rush to retrieve it and clean it off, like a bratwurst that's rolled of the plate in a restaurant kitchen.

Like I said, I loved this book. I even read it at suppertime and in the car (while I was the passenger, duh). It’s one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. So, what are you waiting for? Go read it! Unless you're squeamish. Then, umm...I don't know what to do. *g*

The Perfect Family by Carla Cassidy

I didn't actually plan to read this book last night, it just sorta happened. I wasn't in the mood to read anything else and I'd just bought this and it looks so good, so creepy. Less than two hours and 362 pages later, I finished. In time to go to sleep before midnight, no less.
Back cover blurb:

It's been a difficult winter, but for the first time since her husband's death, Marissa feels a new strength. Business at the gift shop is good, her two young children are slowly adjusting, and she's even able to find a glimmer of hope for happiness when an old flame moves back to town. Maybe the bad times are behind her...

He has been watching her for years, He knows everything about Marissa and her family. He knows little Jessica loves pepperoni pizza and ballet and Justin loves baseball and dinosaurs. He knows Marissa enjoys a glass of wine and a bubble bath before bed. And now he knows it's time to begin. He's been more than patient. This is the family he was supposed to have, the family he deserves. It's time to claim the perfect family as his own...

I'm not sure if it was my mood, or if it was the book, but I just whipped through The Perfect Family. I was reading in bed and my husband leaned over and asked me, "did you just start that an hour ago? You've read 266 pages!" It's fast-paced and I liked that there were enough characters that you didn't know who was who until towards the end. I love when I'm not sure who it is. I loved that Marissa didn't exhibit any TSTL tendencies and was justifiably suspicious of many people. She really didn't seem to rule anyone out when the police told her it could be anyone.

If you're looking for a great fast-paced romantic suspense story, I highly recommend picking up Carla Cassidy's The Perfect Family. I'm definitely buying her next book.

On another note, it's funny how reading material can get into your dreams. One snippet of my dream last night had me viewing two dead bodies of Abraham Lincoln. Yes, two. One had his eyes open and one did not. And I so know that this comes from reading Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers as well as thinking of Clive Cussler's Sahara (if you've read the book, you know what I'm talking about).

Reviewing and new books

I have reviews to write and it's driving me nuts that I can't get the summary right for any of them. Got to be short and to the point, yet compelling enough that the poor schmuck who reads it is interested. Definitely my least liked part of reviewing. Grrr. *sigh*

On another front, I bought some books last night at Barnes and Noble.

The Captain by Lynn Collum (cover is in the Zebra Regency post)
The Perfect Family by Carla Cassidy (this one looks nice and creepy, hope it delivers)
To Love a Thief by Julie Ann Long (finally broke down. I loved The Runaway Duke and the reviews for this look promising)

Storm Watcher by Lilith Saintcrow

Ever since I read Dark Watcher for review at RJ, I've been waiting and waiting to read Storm Watcher, the sequel. And..ah...the wait is over. It's not quite as good as the first one, but I still love it. I think some of the appeal of the first one was the world-building and since SW is a sequel, it doesn't have as much of that going on. So...I do highly recommend reading Dark Watcher before Storm Watcher. I love urban fantasy like this, so going in, I kinda had a bias to like it. But, if you like to read fun urban fantasy with witches and dark things prowling the shadows and a hint of a bigger supernatural world, this has got it. And I want my own Watcher.

Mari is a Water Witch. She's trying to finish up her masters degree at school. She shares a dingy apartment with three other people and, lately, her Watcher. Hanson, her Watcher, adores Mari. She's his 'witch', the one person in the world who can make the pain of being a Watcher go away. He's also sworn to protect her with his life. Mari also has visions and lately she's been Seeing one of her best friends' death. School, her living situation, Hanson, and now her visions are taking a toll on her and she's under a lot of stress. Hanson, through all this, just tries to be supportive as he shields and protects her nightly from the Dark. He loves her, but doesn't think she feels the same; she doesn't quite trust him and is also rather afraid of him. Things come to a head when it turns out a spell from the previous book wasn't quite finished and if Mari doesnt do something about it, the entire city could be destroyed.

I think it's a great sequel to Dark Watcher and I can't wait to read the upcoming books that come out later this year. I do recommend reading Dark Watcher first. You can get it in print from Imajinn Books or from Amazon. It's also available in ebook form here. After you read it, you can make your own decision as to whether you want to read this one. I hope you do, though. I want to discuss these books with someone!

Zebra Regency Romance Cover; otherwise known as the post with lots of pictures

I admit it, I love to read Regencies. Not the Regency-set historicals, but the ones with the boring covers and sweet romance inside. Okay, so I like to read the other kind, too, but that's not what this post is about. In my pursuit of future reading material, I noticed that Zebra has undergone a cover change thing. They actually have fairly good covers! Signet, on the other hand, hasn't changed, that I could see. So...here are the covers of Zebra Regency Romances (not to be confused with Zebra Historicals). And well...the cat one...I'm a sucker for kittens. And they probably know that. So...am I the only one that likes the majority of the new covers?

Summer in the City of Sails by Shelley Munro

I haven't been very engaged in many of the erotic romance books I've read (or tried to read) lately, so I was pleasantly surprised when I started Summer in the City of Sails by Shelley Munro. I have to say that I just LOVED this book. Nikolai is incredibly hot (this is one "big bad SAS man" I'd love to meet) and I found I liked Summer a lot. There's an intrigue plot that runs throughout, but it works well and I liked that I felt Summer and Nikolai had time to develop their romance. The romance does develop quickly, but I liked it. I just loved the enthusiasm Summer had for sex and how she just sort of wormed her way into Nikolai's heart. If you're looking for a great contemporary erotic romance, I highly recommend this one. It's more sensual than explicit, but it's quite hot. There's also the humor that I expect to find in one of Munro's books.

Shelley Munro is one of my favorite Ellora's Cave authors and so far she's written some great books. If you want some laugh-out-loud funny sci-fi romance, you need to pick up Talking Dogs, Aliens, and Purple People Eaters and also Never Send a Dog to Do a Woman's Job. Okay, humor is subjective, but I found them incredibly funny.

If you're at EC's site and don't know what to get, I highly recommend this one. I really liked it. And no shooting me if you don't like it, either. *g*

We Beat the Gophers!!

"We beat the Gophers! We beat the Gophers!" I woke up to this little ditty running through my head this morning. Why, you ask? Because my beloved Fighting Sioux hockey team beat them last night. It also means that Saturday, we meet Denver for the NCAA championship. *crosses fingers that we win*

We beat the Gophers! We beat the Gophers! *doing a Snoopy dance* (I think my husband thinks I'm nuts, I'm not very demonstrative about hockey in real life, but I really do care!)

We now return to your regularly scheduled whatever.

If Angels Burn by Lynn Viehl

As romances go, this isn't the best. As a kick-ass new vampire series, this is a fabulous book. As I didn't really care if it was a romance or not, I absolutely loved the book and can't wait for more. It has an interesting take on vampires that I thought was quite cool and I enjoyed how dark and gritty it was. It's definitely not for the faint of heart. There's plenty of torture, some rape, and lots of blood. But...it's well done and fits the story, in my opinion. So it may not be for everyone, but if you like a good vamp story, I recommend this one. Actually, even if you don't like a good vamp story, I recommend it, since I've been quite sick of the angsty, whiny vampires of late and luckily if there were some here, I didn't notice.

It's also definitely a part of a series and things are not completely resolved at the end. In fact, there are some rather major loose ends. But...again, I did have lots of fun reading this. You can read more at the Darkyn website.

So...when the new book comes out, I'll be first in line to get it.

ILL WIND by Rachel Caine

I was not in the mood to read romance the other day, so I started this one. It's a fun, fast read and I'll definitely be picking up the rest of the series when I can.

Book blurb:
"Joanne Baldwin is a Weather Warden. Usually, all it takes is a wave of her hand to tame the most violent weather. But now, she's trying to outrun another kind of storm: accusations of corruption and murder. So, she's resorting to the very human tactic of running for her life...

Her only hope is Lewis, the most powerful warden known. Unfortunately, he's stolen not one but three bottles of Djinn-making him the most wanted man on earth. Still, she's racing hard to find him-before the bad weather closes in fast..."

The book reads extremely fast and takes place in a fairly short period of time, but the author uses flashbacks with great results to add in the back story. It ends up being a frenetic read as Joanne doesn't know who to trust or what's going to happen next. There are times when you can't figure out how she's going to get out of the latest mess, but she somehow manages to. I'm not really doing the book justice, but if you're in the mood for a fast-paced urban fantasy, I suggest picking this one up.

Next up will be If Angels Burn by Lynn Viehl. It's supposed to be a Signet Eclipse Paranormal Romance, but so far, even though it's quite good, I'm not getting a romance vibe. I've heard some people don't like it because they thought there was nothing romance about it, when that's what they were expecting. I say if you're going to read this one, think of it as a vampire paranormal with romantic elements and then you might not be burned. I'm at the half-way mark, so maybe things change, but so far, it's more non-romance than romance. But really good. I actually prefer it this way. It's nice and dark.

My trip to Waldenbooks!

I had some gift cards and coupons for Waldenbooks, so I decided to stop there this morning after we dropped off our recycling stuff (newspapers and magazines). I came out with five books and only spent $4.60. Woohoo! I plan to buy a bunch of categories this month, but I want to get them at Target or Walmart so I can buy all the ones I want. Hush by Jo Leigh is one I'm really looking forward to getting, as well as some other Blazes. Usually I get them for review at CataRomance since Blaze is my one of my review lines there, but didn't get a one for April. Not one! :-( I also plan to pick up Cole Dempsey's Back in Town by Suzanne McMinn.

It was sitting there on the shelf at the store, and since I've never read Kinsale, I thought I'd give it a try.

I LOVED Goddess of Spring and Elphame's Choice, so really looking forward to reading this one.

I've never read Susan Donovan, but the woman working at Waldens said she liked her, so I thought I'd give it a try. Gotta take a chance on something every once in awhile.

The premise sounds intriguing and I like the author as S.L. Viehl (what I've read, anyways), so I picked this one up.

I thought it looked interesting and I like SF romance.

Am I a bad blogger?

I've noticed lately that I haven't had any real thought-provoking posts. I haven't offended anyone or pushed any hot buttons. In fact, I seem to be downright boring. Well, boring is good, I suppose. I'm fairly boring in real life, too.

Fact is, I'm quite good at expressing my ever-changing opinion in response to something rather than being the one to originate those ideas. Ever-changing, yes. I'm very good at this. I'll feel one way about something until someone comes along with a good argument for the other side, or even another side, and think about it, and decide that they have a point and I may be wrong. *sigh* Or even just start out with thinking that both sides have rather valid arguments for thinking the way they do. I'm not very vehement about anything. Well, except for cigarette smoking (makes me sick, wish they'd just outlaw the nasty things) and human evolution ("creationism" has NO place in schools). I'm always trying to stay out of arguments online and offline and try not to take sides. Of course, this does have the effect of making me rather forgettable. (dear, you love me, you don't count)

So...back to our regular scheduled book blogging. I have a review of The Hope Chest that I need to finish up.