Archive | July, 2008

July 2008

31 Jul

Books bought / ordered:
Jo Beverley – Lovers and Ladies – The Fortune Hunter and Deirdre and Don Juan
India Grey – The Italian’s Defiant Mistress
Dennis Lehane – Gone, Baby, Gone

Books read:
Helen Brooks – The Billionaire’s Virgin Bride; The Billionaire Boss’s Secretary Bride
Kresley Cole – No Rest for the Wicked; Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night; Dark Desires After Dusk
India Grey – The Italian’s Defiant Mistress
Caroline Linden – A Rake’s Guide to Seduction
Julia Quinn – The Lost Duke of Wyndham
John C. Wright – Orphans of Chaos

Favourite novel:

New-to-me authors: India Grey, Caroline Linden, John C. Wright

New-to-me authors I would read again: (India Grey), Caroline Linden, (John C. Wright)

Comments: Books
Lara Adrian – Midnight Rising
Helen Brooks – The Billionaire’s Virgin Bride; The Billionaire Boss’s Secretary Bride
Kresley Cole – Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night; No Rest for the Wicked
Kristin Hardy – Under the Mistletoe; Vermont Valentine
Julia Quinn – The Lost Duke of Wyndham

* * *

Games bought:

Games played:
Okami (PS2)
Persona 3 (PS2)

Comments: Games
Currently playing – Okami


Helen Brooks – “The Billionaire Boss’s Secretary Bride”

30 Jul

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Harlequin Presents, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I like Helen Brooks’s novels.

The back blurb:
“As fas a secretary Gina Leighton is concerned, billionaire businessman Harry Breedon has never shown more than a professional interest in her. Why should he? Plain and plumb, Gina knows she’s hardly trophy-wife material!

But Harry has noticed her – sexy curves and all – and now that Gina has another job offer, he’ll have to act fast. This handsome tycoon is determined to seduce her into staying – even if that means making her his wife!”

The Billionaire Boss’s Secretary Bride is a story about how sometimes it takes a loss to really appreciate and see the things right before you and make you change.

After working for one year in close proximity to Harry, Gina decides she can’t take anymore and that she needs to leave because she’s completely in love with Harry. Gina is 32 and a redhead with a generous hour-glass figure of which she thinks it’s not what men are looking for. Normally, I’m not too fond of romance heroines with that kind of self image (curves do nothing for men?), but Brooks keeps it from turning into triggering an urge to snort with incredulity on my side.

Harry is surprised how much Gina’s leaving affects him. It breaks up his taking-her-for-granted feeling and makes him see Gina in a different light. Later it gets clear that this was no sudden development on his side. It was there from the beginning, but he couldn’t/wouldn’t acknowledge it due to his past, even before himself. His ex-wife shattered his belief in love and made him a cynical have-them-then-leave-them kind of man (again, Brooks keeps this from getting really snort-worthy).

The story is told alternately from Gina’s and Harry’s POV and so gives the reader a lot of time with the hero (which helps making his realization about Gina more believable). It begins with Gina’s last day at work and covers her last two days in her hometown before she moves to London (her time there is told in the last chapter). On Gina’s last day, Harry offers to drive her home from work and from there things snowball.

The next two days, they spent quite some time together. There is a nice plot element with some dogs that developed form my cynical “oh yes, a device is needed to keep them together some more” view to an important part of Harry’s characterization. It also gives Harry the chance to deliver some killer lines:

‘You’re probably asleep by now, but I just wanted you to know I’ve thought of a name for the puppy, and it is one I could yell in the middle of a field. Zinnia. What do you think? My gardening book tells me it’s a plant of the daisy family with showy rayed flowers of deep red and gold, like your hair. I thought it appropriate.’
There was a pause and Gina found she wasn’t breathing.
‘Oh, and the book also said in the language of flowers it means “thoughts of absent friends”.’ he finished even more softly. ‘Goodnight, Gina. Sleep well.’ (p. 122)

which also nicely refer back to what Gina said about her hair colour at the beginning. Sleep well, indeed.

Gina is determined not to give herself away and says her reason for leaving is another man. The irony here is that Harry gets kinda jealous of himself. There are some nice “awhhh!” situations there. Gina doesn’t just turn into a starry-eyed kinda woman when Harry is around (although this is there, too, of course). For the most parts, she’s able to keep her mind and to see him clearly. For example, the following quote is from right after he accuses her of running away with her move to London:

‘What about you?’ she demanded, her blue eyes flashing. ‘Isn’t this slightly hypocritical? You’d let Anna [his ex-wife] turn you into someone else, someone you were never meant to be. Oh, you can prattle on about life changing and shaping us and all the waffle when it applies to you; that sounds quite lofty. But, where I am concerned, it’s ruining my life. Well, let me tell you, Harry, I don’t intend to let my life be ruined, but I think yours has been. You’ve become selfish and shallow, without anything of substance to offer a woman beyond the pleasure of your company in bed. And that wouldn’t be enough for me by a long chalk.” (p. 86)

This quote leads up to the turning point of the story because it makes Harry take a clear look at himself and realize that he’s in love with Gina. He knows that there is no hope for that (the other man) but there is still friendship and he is willing to settle for that (at the moment). He also knows that “the ball was in her court. He had asked her for her new address in London more than once” (p. 127).

So after the first half of the story, the novel turns into a story about two people thinking the other doesn’t return their love and it gets a bit bittersweet. There are some near misses with misunderstandings – scenes when one or the other would probably have come clean but gets “saved” at the last moment. I didn’t think it was irritating, rather that it was needed to make Harry’s development more believable. If they had managed to get it all distangled in the remaining two days, I would have been rather sceptical of Harry’s feelings. This way, it’s two months later before all is cleared up.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Probably yes.

Grade: 4 / 5

Helen Brooks – “The Billionaire’s Virgin Bride”

27 Jul

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Harlequin Presents, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I liked other novels by Helen Brooks

The back blurb:
“She won’t be bedded by blackmail!

As a lawyer, Zeke Russelll is second to none; dynamic and driven, he always wins. So when his ex-fiancée Melody Taylor asks for his help, he takes his chance to settle an old score!

Melody didn’t think she would ever have to see Zeke again, but now she has no choice but to swallow her pride and accept his proposition: rekindle their relationship – though this time it’s on his terms! However, there’s one thing Melody is determined to make sure of: she will never surrender…”

Well, the title is no prize and the summary on the back of the book is even worse. But like it often is the case, the actual story is better than the packaging. Melody needs Zeke’s help, or more exactly, it’s Melody’s mother who needs Zeke’s help as a lawyer. And so Melody and Zeke meet again, six months after Melody broke off their engagement.

The Billionaire’s Virgin Bride is off to a slow start, IMO. This had two reasons:

1. Melody’s character suffered because of the reason she broke off the engagement. I thought the evidence her decision was based on just wasn’t strong enough to warrant such an action and as a result, I wasn’t able to really feel with her. She had also other reasons, which get a bit clearer later in the story (brainwashed by her mother, trust issues), and Brooks tries to make the decision seem reasonable, but … I didn’t completely work for me.

2. I didn’t like the blackmail thing hinted at in the summary and that it seemed to be motivated by revenge (at least in part). Luckily, it’s only there in the beginning.

The focus of this story is firmly on Melody and her realization that her decision to end the engagement was mostly dictated by her trust issues. I thought the middle part the strongest of the story, with the things I like about Brooks writing more in evidence, like in the following quote:

(Melody just told Zeke she now believes he didn’t have an affair)

Eventually he stirred. ‘I’ve missed you,’ he said thickly. ‘So much.’ […] ‘But I don’t know if I can do this again. Do us again.’
‘I know I don’t deserve to be forgiven–‘
‘It’s not that.’ He made a swift downward motion with his hand, cutting off her voice. ‘Believe me, it’s not that. But I’m not sure we wouldn’t go through the same thing again. You torture yourself–‘ He stopped abruptly.
Melody watched the big tom from several doors up saunter along the pavement, tail erect and head held at a jaunty angle. Not a care in the world, she thought, envying the cat with all her heart.
‘I’m not the kind of guy to pussyfoot about, Melody,’ Zeke said grimly. ‘To forever be looking over my shoulder, wondering if I’ve crossed the line in some scenario you’re playing out in your mind. And this isn’t just about Angela. We both know that. Long before that, from when we first met, you were waiting for me to fail you. You’ve never trusted me. That’s the bottom line.’ (p. 90)

It’s the sense that “sometimes love isn’t enough” I like in Brooks stories. It makes them more “real” IMO.

The last chapter (wedding) I actually only skimmed. It felt too long and seemed more filler material than real story IMO, although Brooks included some last minute nerves on Melody’s side on the day of the wedding to make it clear that Zeke and Melody still have to work on her trust issues.

On the whole, The Billionaire’s Virgin Bride is a nice story but IMO it never wholly recovered from Melody’s decision to end the engagement on very slim evidence, trust issues or not, and is probably a bit light on the conflict side. But nevertheless, most of the time I had fun reading it.

Would I recommend this novel? Probably yes, although there are novels by Brooks I liked better.

Would I read this novel again? Maybe.

Grade: 3+ / 5

There Went My Goal…

24 Jul

… of not ordering new books this month.

Apparently, all it takes is one info mail promoting bargains for English books. Who knew? But then, I never met a bargain I didn’t feel compelled to use. Really, I’m cheap.

I got:

Dennis Lehane – Gone, Baby, Gone
because I really enjoyed reading Shutter Island and always wanted to read something else by Lehane

Jo Beverley – Lovers and Ladies
because I liked other novels by Jo Beverley, and I saved a lot on this one (4,40€ instead of 8,28€), I couldn’t possibly let it pass.

On those two books, I saved more than 5€, so let’s not dwell on the fact that I spent more than 7€ on books I didn’t know I wanted to read in the first place. Most of the books offered were non-fiction, or not that great a bargain, or books I knew about (for example one Rachel Gibson, one SEP) but just didn’t feel the urge to order (which means there must be some hope for me).

But while I was at it, I also got India Grey’s The Italian’s Defiant Mistress just because it was in stock and the last one (not part of the bargain deal), so maybe that’s still debatable.

Anyway, new books!


Today, I planned to write my comments about Kresley Cole’s Dark Desires After Dusk but I have a difficult time actually doing it. I wasn’t happy with my comments about No Rest for the Wicked and writing something about Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night was like pulling teeth and it shows, so the thought to sit down and write again about this series – I just can’t dredge up enough enthusiasm to do it right now.

This doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy Dark Desires. In fact, I liked it rather a lot (otherwise I probably wouldn’t have a problem with writing), but I think I’m burnt out on writing comments for this series. It’s all one huge ball of thoughts and concentrating on the important ones and pulling them out and saying what I want to say, I can’t seem to do it right now (if at all).

Or I could blame the info mail. I just had to go and take a look, it’s not that I procrastinated or something.