Welcome to my Den of Delights! Please make yourselves comfortable.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

REVIEW: Not Quite A Husband by Sherry Thomas

4.5 of 5 Stars

Sherry Thomas’ books have been highly recommended to me by my Goodreads friends new_user and Quinn – Thank you both! I decided to start with Not Quite Husband because I saw that the We Love Lisa Kleypas Group at Goodreads had read it as a Group Read and also… because I thought I’d read the red covered one to "pop my Sherry cherry”. LOL Plus, the cover is pretty sexy! 

I wanted to say thank you to Beanbag for urging me to not get distracted from reading this by Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward, which was calling to me like a siren’s song. I’m so happy I stuck to my path and kept reading this, as I became hooked.

Not Quite A Husband is a “second chance” romance. It begins in 1897 in the Rumbur Valley, North-West Frontier of British India.

Quentin Leonados Marsden (Leo) is a brilliant man – at age 24 he had numerous papers read at the London Mathematical Society, a play read at St. James’ theatre, and a Greenland expedition under his belt. Bryony Asquith is also brilliant - a gentleman’s daughter who pursued a career at a time when it was frowned upon, and a career in the medical field, to boot! Leo and Bryony’s marriage failed about  3 and a half years before, after only a few months. Leo has been dispatched to fetch Bryony home to England by her sister Callista because their father is ill.

I was actually fascinated to find out WHY their marriage had failed. WHAT had happened to them? Ms. Thomas unveils this slowly through weaving flashbacks, revealing their past, and then moving the reader forward in their present relationship, teasing with bits and pieces of the puzzle, as they journey through the breathtaking setting of British India. I love this setting, as I did in Meredith Duran’s, The Duke of Shadows, and appreciated getting to experience different areas in India in Not Quite A Husband.

As the layers of the characters of Leo and Bryony were revealed, my perceptions of them changed, and as I gained insights into "their story", my heart began to truly ache for them.

However, one really needs to push through the first few chapters, as it is difficult to read due to the angst between the two, and initial perceptions of the characters are not flattering. This is a dark and complex romance.

As I learned more and more about Leo and the depth of his love for Bryony, he stole more and more of my heart. He was not flowery with words, but his actions from the past when they knew each other as children, and after their marriage was annulled, spoke volumes. And yet…he hadn’t truly known her before they married or even during their marriage. And neither did Bryony truly know Leo.

I found it quite difficult to relate to Bryony, at the start of this story, because she seemed to be such a cold and closed-off character. When I came to see that she was actually a woman who felt so forcefully that she could shatter, and had to build a fortress of walls around her heart to protect her, I wanted to hug her.

I heard this song today and the lyrics made me think of Bryony, and her relationship with Leo:

Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North

So you thought you had to keep this up
All the work that you do
So we think that you're good
And you can't believe it's not enough
All the walls you built up
Are just glass on the outside

So let 'em fall down
There's freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We're here now

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark

Afraid to let your secrets out
Everything that you hide
Can come crashing through the door now
But too scared to face all your fear
So you hide but you find
That the shame won't disappear

So let it fall down
There's freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We're here now
We're here now, oh

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark 
“Sometimes limbs must be rebroken to set properly; her heart too needed to shatter anew before it could truly heal.” ~ Bryony
I loved going on this journey with Leo and Bryony - from "strangers" who had married quickly and whose marriage had failed before it even began, to two wiser people who came to truly TRUST each other and be OPEN and HONEST to each other, and not just love each other.

One issue I did have with the book was the waxing lyrical language that Bryony used to describe Leo in the flashbacks, which seemed incongruent to her character (and had me rolling my eyes), for example:
"Then he did smile, one of his dazzling smiles that restored sight to the blind and instilled music in the deaf.”

“…a smile beatific enough to bring about peace on Earth.”
It was like she saw him as some sort of God. Then I realised that she had…and when he fell in her eyes, he had a long way to go. But how beautiful it was when they found their way to a TRUE marriage and the last paragraph in the Epilogue had me all misty eyed.

I look forward to reading more books by Sherry Thomas, and let me say, how impressed I am with her writing, especially considering that English was not her first language.  Also, I had not realised that Delicious is connected to this and occurs earlier in time, and involves Leo's brothers, Will and Matthew Marsden.

Some of my favourite quotes:
“She was both surprised and not surprised to feel tears roll down her face,.He kissed her tears. “It doesn’t matter where I am; I’m yours.”’ 
"And that you will remember me not as a failed husband, but one who was still trying, til the very end." 
Not Quite A Husband Book Trailer - It is very cute with some great images of the places Leo and Bryony travelled: 


Sherry Thomas has a map of the trail that Leo and Bryony took in India, as well as some amazing photos of the locations, and shares her inspiration for the story on her website: 

http://sherrythomas.com/not-quite-a-husband.php#journey

My Leo (Martin Henderson) and My Bryony (Rachel Weisz)



 


Saturday, April 23, 2011

HAPPY EASTER!

WISHING EVERYONE A WONDERFUL 
AND SAFE EASTER! XOXO



"I have told you these things, so that in me you will have peace. 
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! 
I have overcome the world." 
~ John 16:33


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Inspiration of the Moment - Sacrifice

Planning to write some reviews over the extra long weekend, but in the meantime ...

"Those things which are precious are saved only by sacrifice."
~ David Kenyon Webster (American US Army Officer and Writer)








Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Song of the Moment - Never to Know

"Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves - 
regret for the past and fear of the future." ~ Fulton Oursler

I heard this song today, after not hearing it for some time. So... inspired by Pamela Clare's MTM Blog for the last 2 weeks, Men of the Military, and the upcoming ANZAC Day here in Australia on 25th April 2011, this song is dedicated to the warriors (and despite the gender in the song, both men and women) who have been scarred in service of others - both the physically scarred and the internally scarred ...especially the ones they try to keep hidden, whose stories we know not of. Thank you for your sacrifices.


NEVER TO KNOW by Lene Marlin

Did you know
Hidden by his clothes 
There are some scars
Some are recent
Some have been there for years
Did you know
It doesn't even hurt
It never really hurts
But there are tears

Do you want the real story
Or do you prefer the lie
Do you want to see him smile
Or maybe see him cry
Do you want to follow
Or let him go alone
For then, never to know...never to know

Have you ever seen 
The way he acts sometimes
And when you ask
He'll say he's okay
Laughs out loud
Before he looks away

Do you want the real story
Or do you prefer the lie
Do you want to see him smile
Or maybe see him cry
Do you want to follow
Or let him go alone
For then, never to know...never to know


Most of my favourite fictional heroes, in fact, are the scarred and tortured ones. I connect with them and long to wrap my arms around them. So, this song is also dedicated to the scarred ones who have touched me the most in my reading...

* Zsadist, Vishous, Phury, Rhage and Butch from J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series;

* Julian Darcangelo, Marc Hunter, Gabe Rossiter and Zach McBride (MAY 3rd!!! ^_^) from Pamela Clare's I-Team series;

* Alexander from Paullina Simons' Tatiana and Alexander (The Bronze Horseman) Trilogy;

* Ian Thornton from Judith McNaught's Almost Heaven;

* Lucky Doucet from Tami Hoag's Lucky's Lady;

* Gabe Callahan from Emily March's Eternity Springs series;

* Lucien from Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series; and

* Conrad Wroth from Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series.

Yes...That's quite a list, eh? LOL

Who are your favourite scarred/tortured heroes?

  
On a more personal note ... I wouldn't be completely true to myself, if I didn't mention that another "scarred and tortured hero", who has touched my own life, is on my mind this week as Good Friday and Easter approaches... and I give thanks to Him.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inspiration of the Moment - The things that last...

"Some things don't last forever, but some things do. 
Like a good song, or a good book, or a good memory 
you can take out and unfold in your darkest times, 
pressing down on the corners and peering in close, 
hoping you still recognize the person you see there."
~ Sarah Dessen

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Beautiful Autumn Day in the Adelaide Hills

It's Autumn! I love Autumn colours
Yesterday, my hubby and I spent a lovely afternoon in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. I'm so thankful to him for getting me out of the house on a Saturday. 

Every week I say I want to go out and do something - do my amateur photography,  shop for winter shoes, get a haircut, etc. but for most weekends this year, all I want to do is to just stay at home. I just want to read a book, watch our TV shows, take naps, and spend time on Goodreads.
  
But yesterday was such a lovely, sunny Autumn day. It was 24C (75.2F). So we took a drive up to the Adelaide Hills. We had a lovely lunch, and then we drove around and enjoyed the colours of the beautiful Autumn leaves with the browns, oranges, reds and yellows. We drove through the township of Stirling and its surrounds and stopped at some places to take some photos. 

The township of Stirling, Adelaide Hills, South Australia.
The Stirling Police Station.














Someone's beautiful driveway.
A photo I took of hubby taking photos. ^_^
But the photos below are my favourite photos out of the ones that I took on our outing... when I was trying to take some artistic shots... 
A tree in the carpark where we had lunch.


This first photo above has not been edited in any way. The colours are so rich, vibrant and cheerful. This picture makes me smile. I loved that the sun was shining down, that there was a cloud in the background, and loved the yellow (with little bits of orange) leaves, changing with the season, among the red berries, green leaves and the bright blue sky. I took quite a few shots of that tree. I'm sure the patrons outside the hotel wondered what the heck I was so fascinated with. *LOL* This one is my favourite of all the shots of this tree, in terms of composition and colours. 
Loved the colours and shapes of all the leaves.
This second shot (above), I adjusted the colour saturation slightly, just to make the colours a little bit richer, so that it was more representative of what I saw with my naked eye. I loved the colours and shapes of the leaves that I saw on the ground, especially that heart shaped one on the bottom. I love heart shapes! And some of the leaves looked golden! I love this shot. It makes me feel warm and... intrigued ... by the different shapes and things I can spot in the shot. The shot below is a zoomed out one of this. I couldn't decide which one I liked more, so I posted both! ^_^ I like how the one below is framed by the rocks and some long leaves on the left. This one has not been edited.
Zoomed out shot of the leaves on the ground.
SO, thank you so much, my darling hubby, for pushing me to take a trip to the hills! It was a beautiful day - A moment where I was happy to be alive, loving LIFE with the one I love, and enjoying the beauty in nature.

Please do share any Autumn photos you have! I'd love to see them.

"A woodland in full color is awesome as a forest fire, 
in magnitude at least, but a single tree is like a 
dancing tongue of flame to warm the heart." 
 ~ Hal Borland

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."
~ Albert Camus

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

REVIEW: Simply Irresistible (#1, Lucky Harbor) by Jill Shalvis

5 of 5 Stars - Read December 2010

Do. Not. Resist. This. Book! READ IT FOR THE SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE JAX CULLEN, ALONE! JILL SHALVIS ROCKS!!!

After the amazing yet emotionally intense and tumultuous experience of The Bronze Horseman Trilogy by Paullina Simons, I needed a light and humorous yet-still-touch-me-emotionally kind of romance, set during the Holiday Season. And SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE was just what I had needed for my Christmas beach holiday read! What a JOY to read! I REALLY enjoyed Jill Shalvis' writing style.

Simply Irresistible is the story of sweet, klutzy, adorable Maddie Moore, with her curly, wild blonde hair, who returns to Lucky Harbor, Washington, after losing her job and boyfriend. Maddie and her two half-sisters, Tara and Chloe, have inherited their free-spirited mother’s inn by the sea, Lucky Harbor Resort, which is in serious need of repairs and TLC. 
 
The Adorable and Klutzy, Maddie Moore
Maddie "the Mouse" is determined to make a new start and sees the potential for a new home and career in the inn. The challenge will be for her to succeed in convincing her two sisters to let her, considering one of them wants to sell, and the other remains undecided. I really loved seeing the relationships grow and develop between these three very different sisters, who never spent much time together while growing up because they been raised apart. It was very heartwarming.

The other challenge will be in resisting the HOTTIE she meets, considering she has completely sworn off men... for now, anyway. While driving to the resort along a narrow, winding road, munching on salt and vinegar chips, Maddie almost runs over a tall, broad shouldered “Hot Biker Guy”, with wavy dark brown hair and caramel eyes. 

"Hoty Biker Guy" a.k.a Jax Cullen - *SIGHS*
I loved their "meet-cute”. After Maddie apologises, and “Hot Biker Guy” picks off half a salt and vinegar chip from her sleeve, Maddie decides she needs a way to escape from this awkward situation…  
“What she needed now was an exit plan. So she put the phone to her ear, pretending it was vibrating. “Hello,” she said to no one. “Yes, I’ll be right there.” She smiled, like look at me, so busy, I really have to go, and, turning away, she lifted a hand in a wave, still talking into the phone to avoid an awkward goodbye, except- 
Her phone rang. And not the pretend kind. Risking a peek at Hot Biker Guy over her shoulder, she found him brows up, looking amused.”
Mmm...Rip It, Sexy Master Carpenter!

Haha! Nice try, Maddie! ^o^ This book was off to a great start!

Turns out, “Hot Biker Guy” is Jax Cullen (aah ...there's something about men named "Cullen"... *sighs*), the contractor and master carpenter that Maddie needs to help fix up the inn. 
 
I was smiling and laughing A LOT while reading this, and also had many shivers and tingles from the palpable sexual tension and electrifying chemistry between Maddie and Jax.

 "Clearly reading her mind, his mouth slowly curved. “So no interest, and certainly no chemistry,” he murmured, dipping his head to take in the fact that her misbehaving nipples were pressing up against the words BITE ME on her T-Shirt.

“R-right,” she managed. “No chemistry whatsoever.” But then she took a step into him instead of away, and look at that, suddenly his mouth was just there, and her hands were fisting in his fleece hoodie.
How had that happened?"
 
HAWT....DAAAAMMNNNN!!!!
Jax Cullen is HOT!!! Yes, well deserving of bolded all caps - Not only because of his good looks, but his kindness, intelligence, loyalty, dependability, how much he cares for people, the way he teased and flirted with Maddie, all his light touches, determined to seduce the woman who said she’d sworn off men. 

I loved the way he was always there for Maddie when she needed him. Jax just SIZZLED off the page in his low slung tool belt, in a very sexy and adorable way. 

Here’s a little sample of Jax’s HOTness in a scene where the Jax is chopping some firewood: 
'"Um, Jax?" 
He glanced over his shoulder.  
"You look..." Hot. "Overheated. Probably you should take off your other shirt, too."
"You think?" 
Oh, yeah. Not trusting her voice, she merely nodded. 
His lips quirked, but he said nothing as he reached up and behind him, tugging the shirt over his head in one smooth, very male motion. 
And then he stood before her in those low-slung jeans, tool belt, and nothing else but a gleam of sweat.
"Better," she tried to say, staring at his tatts, but it came out more as a squeak. She was lucky not to be a puddle on the ground. Honest to God, the man shouldn't be allowed to look like that. It just wasn't fair to all the other men on the planet.  
Turning to his task, he went at the wood for a while. Maddie backed up to a large wood round and plopped down. After a few minutes, Tara came out with a peace-offering tray of iced tea and glasses.
"Oh, sweet Jesus," she whispered, eyes locked on Jax as she sank to the log next to Maddie.'
I was "virtually" plopping down right along with Maddie and Tara, enjoying this “visual” and needing a cold glass of ice tea, myself, to run along my overheated skin! 

Granted, though I had Ryan Reynolds in my mind as my Jax Cullen, this scene did not have him looking like this: 
 -- Well…at least, NOT the crazy eyes! *LOL* But most definitely the ripped, glistening body. 
*fans self* 
 
His face looking more smouldering, like THIS, in my mind. ^^^
OOooooohhhh…..YEEEEEAAAAHHHHH……
  And playful, flirty and amused, like THIS:
 
And just in case you’re still having trouble picturing the delicious Jax Cullen with his sexy tool belt and low slung jeans…. 

 “If I looked like him,” Tara said. “I’d want to have sex with myself. All the time.”
Did your eyes just go hazy? Yeah, I know, Jax has that effect… But I digress….  

If you are after a really fun, romantic and sexy Contemporary Romance, with a lovable cast of characters, which will make you smile right down to your toes (well, make your toes curl, in any case), then Do. Not. Resist. This. Book! READ IT FOR THE SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE JAX CULLEN, ALONE! And while this is set during the Holiday Season, you need not (should not) wait until December 2011 to enjoy this. Jax Cullen is a gift to be enjoyed, no matter the time of year!


Speaking of gifts, here's a Jax Cullen hand towel gift. Great for those... overheated... moments. ^_^ 



I am very much looking forward to reading more of Jill Shalvis' books, since this was my first but will certainly not be my last - and especially Tara’s book, The Sweetest Thing, release date 1st April 2011, with another hottie... Ford Walker. 

Jill Shalvis had some lovely inspiration during the writing of Simply Irresistible. Here's the link to her website on: The Making of Simply Irresistible 

The Lucky Harbor Series:
1.Simply Irresistible
2. The Sweetest Thing - My Review Here
3. Head Over Heels - My Review Here
4. Lucky in Love – Release May 22, 2012
5. At Last - Release July 2012
6. Forever and a Day – Release August 2012

eBooks:
- Anthology: “Kissing Santa Claus” in the anthology A Small Town Christmas (Logan, Tara’s ex-husband’s story)
- Heating Up the Kitchen: Recipes With Love from Lucky Harbor (Recipes by Tara)

Credits:
My Maddie - Drew Barrymore
My Jax - Ryan Reynolds


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

SPECIAL THANKS TO RANE ARIA!!!

A VERY SPECIAL SHOUT-OUT AND THANK YOU TO MY VERY TALENTED FRIEND, RANE ARIA!!!

My friend, Rane Aria, is the very talented and lovely person, who kindly created my “Lady Jayne’s Reading Den” blog title banner. Isn’t it BEAUTIFUL?

I absolutely ADORE it, Rane!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

Anyone who knows me well, will know that this banner is very much ME. My favourite colours are turquoise/aqua/teal colours against sand/beige/brown (the colours in my lounge at home), and I love butterflies. I had hand-painted butterflies on my wedding dress, all those years ago now.

Rane has a beautiful blog of her own, The Queen’s Library: Romance Novels Review Blog, and she has the most interesting and amazing animated embellishments to her great reviews.


Rane, in case you were wondering, yes, my Tookie had a paw to play in the above images. ^_^

Love and hugs,
Jayne XOXO

Monday, April 11, 2011

MTM Make My Mondays Mmmmm.....

PAMELA CLARE'S MAN TITTY MONDAY (MTM) BLOG

**WARNING - NOT SAFE FOR WORK**

One of my favourite ways to start the week is reading author Pamela Clare's MTM (Man Titty Monday) Blog. This week she features "Men of the Military" and talks a bit about the hero in her thrilling latest book, Breaking Point, to be released on 3rd May 2011 -  Zach McBride, chief deputy U.S. Marshall and former Navy SEAL.

MTM - Men of the Military
 
Below are links to some of my favourite Mondays of all... And of course, it's for the articles, not just the pictures - Hey, she writes some really funny stuff!

Gabriel Aubry - "Be My "BabyDaddy" Edition

Gandy is Candy Edition

Then there was the bonus Friday:

David Gandy Redux

And perhaps my favourite Monday of all...what can I say, I love water!

MTM - WET

And if you haven't yet "met" Jed Hill, the model and inspiration for Zach McBride, well... You need to rectify that.

The Return of the Jed - LOVE the Star Wars reference! ^_^

I don't know how I ever got through Mondays without MTM. If you haven't yet had the pleasure of kick-starting your week with one of Pamela Clare's MTMs, well, that's a real shame. Because ever since I found it, Mondays have never been SO GOOD. ^_^

REVIEW: Naked in Death (#1, Death series) by J. D. Robb

4 of 5 Stars - Read November 2010

Okay, here’s the quick and dirty... well, sort of. Naked In Death is the first book in the daunting (almost 40 books!!... and still growing) “In Death” series by Nora Roberts, writing as J.D. Robb. I kept putting off reading it, for that very reason.

Though, after recent reviews by Goodreads friends who have joined the growing legion of “Roarke Groupies”, I was most curious to read this book to find out for myself what the fuss is over Roarke. While I do not feel I have reached full “Groupie” status, I think perhaps a badge of “Rookie Groupie” is in order. ^_^

What is it about Roarke? Well, it’s not just that he is a mysterious, tall, dark and stunningly handsome Irish “bad-boy”, or that he owns like…WHOA! … 20-something % of the world in 2058. It is his intelligence, confidence, drive and determination in getting what he wants - and he wants Eve. And who could resist his oh-so-sweet moments, like with the button and the coffee? *SIGHS* I won’t say anymore so as not to spoil it for those who have not yet read this book, but fans of the series will know what I’m talking about. 

I seem to recall, prior to reading this book, people expressing that they didn’t really like Eve. Lt. Eve Dallas reminded me of the character of Charlotte King in the TV series, Private Practice. She is prickly, with a hard shell, and I just knew this had to have been developed as a defence mechanism against some trauma she had suffered previously. What Eve needs is the right touch, à la Roarke. I actually really liked Eve, the tough chick.

I really liked Eve’s friend, Mavis. She was funny and provided the comic relief in the story, like for example, in the scenes below where Mavis and Eve are discussing Roarke:
‘"Is he good? Stupid question," she said quickly. "You wouldn't have stayed otherwise. Wow, Eve, what got into you? Besides his incredibly energetic c**k?"’

‘"Okay, but can you tell me if he looks as good in person as he does in pictures."
"Better," Eve muttered.
"Jesus, really?" Mavis moaned and let herself fall onto the sofa. "I think I just had an orgasm."’
Yes, that is the kind of effect that Roarke has. ^_^

One of the issues I did have with the book was with the futuristic elements. For the most part, I did not actually feel immersed in the “future”, but rather, I very much felt like was reading a contemporary novel with bits of unexpanded and unexplained futuristic things dropped in, eg. references to “AutoChef”, “Glida-Grill” etc. without a bit more of a description of it. I mean, you can guess that this “AutoChef” prepares the food in the future, but do we buy the ingredients and put it in there and then a cooked Spaghetti Bolognese comes out? The “Glida-Grill” I assume is a futuristic New York hot dog stand that glides from place to place rather than being set up on a particular corner? While I didn't want an "info dump", I do wish the author hadn’t just dropped names like that, as it took me out of the story, at times.

Very briefly, ...speaking of "briefs", if you keep reading you will be rewarded further on... ahem... Right, as I was saying, very briefly, the plot involves Lt. Eve Dallas investigating a series of murders committed in the “old way” using “antique” guns. These are the guns of today, ie. revolvers, magnums, etc. Roarke is one of her suspects and this is how they meet. "Up against the wall, Roarke, spread 'em!" Well, it actually didn't happen like that... LOL

Overall, I really enjoyed my first “In Death” book and will certainly be reading more - Hey, I want to upgrade to full "Roarke Groupie" status! - though I will most definitely be pacing myself with this massive series.

My Eve (Morena Baccarin):


My Roarke (David Gandy) – Even though Roarke is supposed to have longer hair, I think David Gandy is most definitely gorgeous enough, and has that teasing “rich bad-boy” look about him, to suit Roarke’s personality. Special thanks to my friend, Quinn, for mentioning him! David was a delicious image to have whilst reading. 




And since this is NAKED in Death, the following images of Roarke are...*coughs*... well, a must, obviously. LOL Images kindly supplied by my friend, Rane. Thanks, Rane! ^_^

**WARNING: NOT SAFE FOR WORK!**

Roarke - Naked in Bed 

The Reward, as promised....

This is Roarke, on his travels, and he just can't stop thinking about Eve. He might own a lot of the world ... but what he really wants is ... Eve.  OMG, Eve, you lucky, lucky woman!



Of course, one of the richest men in the world would only wear Dolce and Gabbana briefs.

(Special thanks to my friend, Dina, for the YUMMYLICIOUS video today!)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

REVIEW: Angel's Rest (#1, Eternity Springs) by Emily March


4.5 of 5 Stars - Read March 2011

ANGEL’S REST WOULDN’T LET ME REST – It kept me up reading until almost 2am on a weeknight!

I found this book through Lisa Kleypas’ Facebook page where she said:


“I have to tell you about a wonderful new book--a debut by Emily March called ANGEL'S REST! This new series has had a spectacular start-- Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review. I gave her a quote: "Emily March's stories are heart-wrenching and soul-satisfying. Don't miss a visit to Eternity Springs." I'm telling you, you're in for a real treat! Please get this book and check out her FB page.”

So, of course, I had to read this book! Yes, an endorsement by one of my favourite authors is why I bought the book. I’ve only ever read a few books for this reason, but hey, this was Lisa Kleypas!

It is so funny, but as I was writing this review and watching American Idol, Pia Toscano was singing Whitney Houston’s “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?”, and my reply was: Eternity Springs! ^_^

Eternity Springs, the setting of this series, is a small town in the Colorado Rockies, population 827. The town was founded by 3 miners and was called “Eternity Springs” for the hot springs where they soothed their sore muscles, and because the area was so remote that it took an eternity to get there. But Eternity Springs isn’t just a place to sooth muscles. There is a something special about the place. It is a place where broken souls find healing.

Angel’s Rest begins with John Gabriel Callahan (Gabe), a man tormented from losing all that mattered in his life, at the darkest point a person can be – contemplating “taking a hike”, in the solitude of the Rockie mountains, with a 9mm Glock. I immediately connected with Gabe in those first few pages, having been in that dark place, myself, in the past… where the pain and sadness becomes so unbearable that you just want to die.

A homeless, goofy boxer saves Gabe’s life, stopping him from pulling the trigger by face-planting him in the snow, licking his face, and causing Gabe to smile for the first time in months.

An adorable boxer from Emily March's website
A few days later, Gabe returns the favour, saving the dog from a trap. He takes the dog to the local vet, Dr. Nicole Sullivan (Nic). The caring, compassionate, quietly confident, no-nonsense Dr. Nic, with her wholesome girl-next-door beauty, sparks Gabe’s interest but he is determined to keep his solitude, up at his borrowed mountain retreat. He leaves the dog with Nic, to find a home for it. But the dog has other plans and sees Gabe as his. A view Gabe does not share. This was so cute. The dog, which Gabe refused to name, was such an adorable character in this story, and I loved the reluctant relationship that forms between them.

The town is in economic strife. Celeste Blessing, a town resident, has a plan to save the town, which involves Gabe, and this sets off a chain of events.

Angel’s Rest is a heart-wrenching and moving story about grief, healing, second chances, and what happens when a relationship develops all the wrong way around…well, at least not in the “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage” way.

The pretty pastel cover of this book is a little bit misleading, as it certainly was not a completely light and fluffy book, for me. Gabe’s torment, his depression and grief, and the hurts he inadvertently causes Nic as a result, gave me a physical aching pain in my chest, and my eyes were teary quite a bit while reading this. While there are strong mitigating reasons for certain downright "Ass" behaviours that Gabe displayed, it was the way he showed his remorse and how he apologised through his actions, and not just his words, that I fully forgave him for what he did. The scene near the end had me crying tears of joy.

This book really touched me. I was completely drawn into the setting, the characters and the story. I really cared about both Gabe and Nic, wanting them to have a Happily-Ever-After.

I loved the secondary characters: Celeste Blessing, the visionary older woman, young at heart, who rides a motorbike; and Nic’s best friends, Sage and Sarah, who seem to have secrets hurts of their own. I loved the friendship between these women. These were women I could see myself being friends with, in real life. I loved how they supported one another through difficult times and how they had fun together.

I loved the scene below where Nic, Sarah and Sage are watching college basketball, admiring their “fantasy man”, Coach Romano. They end up talking about an important issue to one of them (as happens to my friends and I - you drool together, share “deep and meaningfuls”, and bicker, as well), and then…
“Excuse me?” Sage interrupted. “Can we pause the bickering for more important matters, please? Look. There’s a time-out on the court.”

Which meant more Coach Romano camera time. The three women focused on the TV.

“OMG,” Sarah said, the slang usage obviously for Nic’s benefit. On the screen, the man in question had slipped off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves, and he was holding a basketball in a one-handed grip. “Look at the size of those hands.”

Sage fanned her face. “Think of what he could do with them.”

“At the risk of sounding crude, this is the first time in my life my boobs ever wished they were a basketball,” Nic observed.

Out in the hallway, something heavy thumped to the floor. Nic recognized the voice that muttered the epithet that immediately followed. Gabe Callahan.

She glanced at the wall mirror and smoothed her fly-away hair, catching Sarah’s knowing smirk as she did so. She stuck out her tongue at her best friend and sent up a little prayer that his hearing wasn’t all that sharp.”
*LOL*

The steamy scenes are mild, though there are some good shivery and tingly chemistry moments. Especially with tall, dark and sexy Gabe trying to resist his strong attraction to Nic, but failing miserably.
'“Thanks!” She flashed him a smile, her eyes gleaming with pleasure, then spun on those heels and disappeared from view – leaving Gabe standing frozen in place, unaccountably warm, uneasy and…holy crap…turned on.

Guess it wasn’t broken after all.’
^_^
This is a book for people who don’t like overly descriptive/lots of love scenes (who are these people?? ^_~) or who can make do without a high heat factor, as long as it satisfies on other fronts, which this did, for me.

At the heart, Angel’s Rest is a story about being honest with ourselves, and with each other, in relationships. It is about not letting the ghosts of the past direct us, but forging our paths, being aware of the issues of our past and how to move on from it. It is about the healing power of love and the magic of a little place called Eternity Springs.

I should mention that this book does have traditional, small-town values, and has inspirational tones, so if that isn't your cup of tea, just be aware. I, personally, loved the uplifting and inspirational tones.

As I understand from Emily’s March’s website, the author used to write Romantic Suspense as Geralyn Dawson. She has a RS series, the Callahan Brothers trilogy series, which involve Gabe’s brothers, which I’m interested in reading. The author had actually taken a break from writing, but then John Gabriel Callahan and Eternity Springs wouldn’t leave her alone. The reason she decided to write this series under a different name (Emily March) was because her writing style, and the tone of these books, were going to be very different from her Geralyn Dawson books, and she didn’t want to create false expectations in her readers. But mostly, this is a series about change and rebirth, which reflected the changes in the author’s journey as a writer.

I haven’t read the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr, which I understand is also set in a small town, so I really can’t compare this to that. I, however, really enjoyed this and look forward to other books in the series. I’m about to start Sage’s book, Hummingbird Lake, which was just released on 22nd March 2011. Heartache Falls is due out on 26th April 2011, and I was surprised to see is about Ali Timberlake, and not Sarah Reese, as I had expected.

I enjoyed browsing through Emily March’s website and she has some lovely images of her vision of Eternity Springs:
http://emilymarch.com/photo-gallery

My images of Gabe (Hugh Jackman) and Nic (Elizabeth Mitchell): 


Saturday, April 9, 2011

REVIEW: Breaking Point (#5, I-Team) by Pamela Clare






Rating:
5+ Stars!



28 February 2011,
Australia


***BREAKING NEWS ON BREAKING POINT***

ARC OF BREAKING POINT PUSHES I-TEAM-OHOLIC 
OVER THE NAKED EDGE?
 
An avid reader of Pamela Clare’s books and self-confessed “I-Team-oholic”, Lady Jayne, is one of the luckiest people to have received an Advanced Readers/Reviewers Copy of Ms. Clare’s latest thrilling instalment, through the Mission of Mercy ARC Program for the Bed-Ridden. Reports of the sounds of excited squeals from the reader’s home in Adelaide, Australia, is said to have been heard as far as neighbouring New Zealand. However, no correlation to the recent earthquakes sadly suffered by the devastated Kiwis has been found. Let us keep the people of Christchurch, the cyclone and flood victims of Queensland and Victoria, and all affected by natural disasters, in our thoughts and prayers. 

Though, it is not only the traumas caused by natural disasters that break our hearts. The horrors that humans inflict upon each other ravage our spirits. Pamela Clare’s dedication in her latest book reminds us of one of these horrors. “It is so touching that it will make readers’ hearts ache and may even cause their eyes to glisten…well, at least it did, for me...and it was just the dedication!”, said Lady Jayne.
“This book is dedicated to the memory of the hundreds of murdered and missing women of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. You were brutalized and discarded like you didn’t matter. But the earth received your tears, your blood, your bones, and, like a bereaved mother, the earth itself cries out for justice. May the violence end and those who stole your bodies and your lives be held to account.” 
Breaking Point will grip readers from the start and is probably Ms. Clare’s most action packed I-Team book. Yet, like all the books in the series, it deals with meaningful subject matter, born from the author’s experiences as a newspaper editor and journalist.

At an interview at her home this week, Lady Jayne stated: “My 2011 started off badly with bronchitis, then discovering I had Glandular Fever (“Mono” in USA)… but receiving an ARC of Breaking Point has totally …MADE. MY. YEAR!!! I’m usually always behind on new releases in my favourite series, being Down Under. This is the first ARC I have ever received. For it to be one of Pamela Clare’s books? I am without words. Thank you again, Pamela, for another AWESOME read!”

Natalie Benoit, Investigative Crime Reporter
“I LOVE this series! Pamela Clare’s I-Team books just work, for me,” said Lady Jayne. “They are not just candy, though they do inspire visions of yummy eye candy…” she said smiling, sighing, and getting a glazed look over her face for a few moments, before continuing. “But the backdrop against which they are set is never something trivial. They are important current issues that add depth to a sexy, romantic, suspenseful  intense and movingly satisfying read. Her characters aren’t just sexy-as-all-hell, but they have their own pain they are dealing with, and have a lot of heart. Just the kind I love to read about! And Breaking Point is a worthy edition to my personal favourite Romantic Suspense series.”
 
Natalie has beautiful aquamarine eyes
 Breaking Point will give readers “heart attacks” of the “WHAT?!?! Noooooooo!!!...” and “WHOA! Really??? Just…WHOA...” variety, heart pounding and breathless moments (suspenseful and other kind). And even if the dedication didn’t make you cry, other aspects of this book more than likely will.

Natalie Benoit, former resident of New Orleans is a survivor of Hurricane Katrina. Her story is just heart wrenching. Following the devastation wrought by Katrina, Natalie joined the investigative team (I-Team) of the Denver Independent as its crime reporter.

While on a 3 day convention on American-Mexican border issues of immigration, the drug trade and human trafficking, in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, along with her colleague, photojournalist Joaquin Ramirez, Natalie is taken captive by a ruthless drug cartel. 

Joaquin Ramirez, Photojournalist
Natalie ends up in a dirty cell next to deputy U.S. Marshall, and former Navy SEAL, Zach McBride, who is also being held prisoner. The man is a true warrior. Together, they must find a way to escape. It will take all their strength and cunning to do so, and they must trust each other with their lives. There is nothing like being thrown together in such life threatening and challenging situations to brew a romance, eh?

“This book was scorching HOT! And not just because they were in the prickly Sonoran Desert!” said reader Lady Jayne. “In fact, it contained one of my fantasies…” she said, blushing. 

The landscape of the Sonoran Desert is filled with… 
prickly things, bushes, bumpy terrain and peaks.
A desert waterfall after a storm
The Saguaro a.k.a. “F**k You” cacti are a warning of how 
treacherous the desert is once the sun sets.

Recreation of U.S. Marshall, Zach McBride, while in captivity
 “I loved Natalie and Zach! They are both such strong characters and have been through a lot in their lives, both with tragic pasts that still haunt them. I loved when they began to open up to each other, and move on from their pasts. My heart ached for them. I really loved how they watched out for one another. The ending of this was just...WOW! Soo ... intense and ... emotional ... but I'm not giving anything away. You just have to read it for yourself! I also loved seeing the development of characters from earlier books - with their kids, pregnancies, the depths of their friendships... just “Awwww!”

Though Post Viral Fatigue prevented Lady Jayne from devouring this book as fast as she would have liked, it aided in her recovery, uplifting her spirits. Sources close to Lady Jayne confirmed how “beyond thrilled” and thankful she is.

It is no secret that I-Team fans are twitchy with anticipation for this one. In Lady Jayne’s humble opinion, “Breaking Point will be worth the wait.”

Hunky Jed Hill is the cover model for the book. It is expected that there will be worldwide reports of women suffering ‘heat stroke’, once they get their hands on it.

Shirtlessness and unbuttoned fatigues are a 
necessity for survival in the desert.
Zach McBride - A True Hero, and so HOT.

If Jed Hill as Zach McBride entices you to read this book and you haven’t read the I-Team series yet, while each book does stand-alone (for plot and main characters), Lady Jayne recommends reading the books in order, as your reading experience will be better enhanced by doing so.

“Plus, Reece and Kara, Julian and Tessa, Marc and Sophie, and Gabe and Kat (and now Zach and Natalie join the ranks) are all amazing, individually, and combined! I love the moments in the later books where we see the interactions between the characters from earlier books. I really enjoyed the “Bromance" between Julian and Marc in Naked Edge, and we get more of that in Breaking Point, and now with the addition of Gabe,” Lady Jayne said, smiling, with a shimmer of tears in her eyes.

Or …if you just must fondle lick read the Jed Hill covered one, first, then Breaking Point is due to be released on 3rd MAY 2011!

“Though, that leaves enough time for you to experience Extreme Exposure. But you’ll want to have Hard Evidence (coughs)…in hand. And you’ll be desiring Unlawful Contact, quite badly, after that. Which will make you want to rush to Naked Edge… and in agony for Breaking Point, waiting for...release,” said Lady Jayne, blushing and giggling.

Pamela Clare’s 4th book in the I-Team series, Naked Edge, recently won the All About Romance Best Romantic Suspense for 2010, as voted by the readers. Though, Ms. Clare seems to be her harshest critic, as in her response posted on ARR she stated:
 “Thanks to AAR and all the readers who voted for Naked Edge. When I got the news, I was utterly stunned. Naked Edge was a tough book to write and took a lot of risks, in part because I wanted Kat, the heroine, to be authentically Navajo. When I turned it in, I told my agent, in tears, that it was the worst thing I'd ever written. She told me I was crazy. For the book to be voted Best Romantic Suspense by AAR readers - I can't tell you how gratifying that is. Ahèhee! Thank you.”
Well, if Ms. Clare felt that way about Naked Edge, wonder what she felt about finishing Breaking Point? Let’s hope she'll be in tears again - of happiness and satisfaction, that is! - because as reader Lady Jayne says, “This one is absolutely another winner! And I can't wait to hold my pre-ordered copy in my hands!”

In fact, Breaking Point received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who had this to say about it:
"Clare’s fifth I-Team novel (after Naked Edge) sizzles with constant adventure and romance. U.S. Marshal Zach McBride is the unwilling guest of Mexican drug lords when he meets another prisoner, American journalist Natalie Benoit. The two join forces to escape and make their way across the treacherous Mexican desert toward the U.S. border. Their romance and mutual attraction develop as they share their unhappy life stories and dodge their enemies in one harrowing encounter after another. Natalie's initial fragility is juxtaposed against Zach’s stalwart nature as he helps unearth her hidden strengths and she encourages him to listen to his heart. Complex characterizations and a fast-paced plot filled with sensual romance and mystery make this a highly enjoyable read for newcomers and series fans alike."
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

1. Natalie Benoit (Lauren Cohan), Zach McBride (Jed Hill), Joaquin Ramirez (Christian de la Fuente).

2. Special thanks to the author’s unnamed co-worker for igniting the fun double entendre discussion on the I-Team book titles, on Pamela Clare’s Facebook page on Weds, 23 Feb 2011, which was the inspiration for those used in this “News Article”. 

DISCLAIMER: I have not received any payment for this review, nor been coerced in any way to write it. All my thoughts are genuine, though are just my subjective opinion.

The I-Team books seem to inspire some "creative reviewing" from me. My playful review style is intended to entertain (make people smile and laugh), while sharing what I love about these books, hoping that I can do the book justice, and that others will enjoy the books as much as I do. Apologies for any unintended offense. Thank you for taking the time to read it! ~ Jayne

(Read February 2011)