Archive | January, 2009

January 2009

31 Jan

Books

Books bought / ordered:
Lara Adrian – Veil of Midnight
Tori Carrington – Reckless
Kresley Cole – Kiss of a Demon King
Megan Hart – Stranger
Sarah Mayberry – Cruise Control
Robin McKinley – Sunshine
+ the 16 free ebooks Harlequin offers to celebrate 60 Years of Romance:
Once a Cowboy by Linda Warren (Harlequin American Romance)
Slow Hands by Leslie Kelly (Harlequin Blaze)
His Lady Mistress by Elizabeth Rolls (Harlequin Historical)
Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels (Harlequin Intrigue)
Price of Passion by Susan Napier (Harlequin Presents)
The Brideโ€™s Baby by Liz Fielding (Harlequin Romance)
Snowbound by Janice Kay Johnson (Harlequin Superromance)
Baby Bonanza by Maureen Child (Silhouette Desire)
Kiss Me Deadly by Michele Hauf (Silhouette Nocturne)
Stranded with a Spy by Merline Lovelace (Silhouette Romantic Suspense)
Dancing in the Moonlight by Raeanne Thayne (Silhouette Special Edition)
A Very Special Delivery by Linda Goodnight (Love Inspired)
Homespun Bride by Jillian Hart (Love Inspired Historical)
Hide in Plain Sight by Marta Perry (Love Inspired Suspense)
Irresistible Forces by Brenda Jackson (Kimani Romance)
Speed Dating by Nancy Warren (Nascar)

Books read:
Helen Brooks – Ruthless Tycoon, Innocent Wife
Tori Carrington – Reckless
Sandra Hill – The Love Potion (Re-Read Challenge)
Larissa Ione – Pleasure Unbound
Shirley Kennedy – The Selfless Sister (TBR Challenge)

Favorite novel:
Not counting my re-read, there’s no “real” favorite this month but I was pleasantly surprised by Tori Carrington’s Reckless, and I think Ione did some interesting things in Pleasure Unbound + I enjoyed reading it so I’m really looking forward to the next one in the series, Desire Unchained.

New-to-me authors: Shirley Kennedy, Larissa Ione

New-to-me authors I would read again: Larissa Ione

Comments: Books

  • brooks-helen-ruthless-tycoon-innocent-wifeHelen Brooks – Ruthless Tycoon, Innocent Wife
    contemporary romance
    1) I’m not much for revenge motivated characters and 2) even though it gets explained some and the hero realizes he’s made a mistake, I still thought the reason for revenge rather dumb. I also was a bit irritated about a daft misunderstanding near the end and the whole “waiting for the marriage after they seemed really committed to each other without at least some talk about it” seemed to come from another time. Otherwise, a nice enough read – (3/5).
  • carrington-tori-recklessTori Carrington – Reckless
    contemporary romance (“Indecent Proposals” series, #2)
    One woman, two men who are best friends – this might sound sleazy but the story isn’t for two reasons: 1) the strong focus on the heroine whose carefully planned life gets turned upside down, and not just because of the two men in her life; 2) a revelation later in the story. I didn’t need the second reason because I thought the heroine’s inner turmoil about the situation well developed but I understand why it was included – a good read (4/5).
  • Larissa Ione – Pleasure Unbound
  • Sandra Hill – The Love Potion
  • Shirley Kennedy – The Selfless Sister
  • Stephanie Laurens – A Secret Love

* * *

Games

Games bought:

Games played:
Guitar Hero 1 (PS2)
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (PS2)
Shadow Hearts: From the New World (PS2)

Comments: Games

  • guitar-hero-1Guitar Hero 1
    I blame this one on Christine. ๐Ÿ˜‰ In a comment a few weeks back she mentioned playing this game. I thought “Fun!” and looked for our rusty guitar. I wanted 1. to score more than 100,000 points with one song and 2. get to the next difficulty level (I played on “Easy”) – yeah, I suck at this game.
    After I realized I couldn’t get 100,000 points with Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust on Easy (I had around 71,000 after I played it with just one mistake), I finally managed it with Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water (goal 1). And I’m allowed to play on the next difficulty level now (goal 2).
    More “accomplishments”: I have seven five-stars-songs on Easy; and I managed to finish five songs on the next level. But I fear I’ve reached the end of what I can do. I’m just too slow and uncoordinated.
  • Currently Playing – Prince of Persia – Warrior Within

Re-Read Challenge: “The Love Potion” By Sandra Hill

31 Jan

re-read-challenge-2009

Info:Re-Read Challenge 2009
This month:Re-Read Challenge: January!

hill-sandra-the-love-potion
GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Love Spell, 1999

SERIES: Cajuns, book #1

Availability: still available


The back blurb:
“A love potion in a jelly bean?
Yep! Fame and fortune are surely only a swallow away when Dr. Sylvie Fontaine discovers a chemical formula guaranteed to attract the opposite sex. Though her own love life is purely hypothetical, the shy chemist’s professional future is assured… as soon as she can find a human guinea pig.
The only problem is the wrong man has swallowed Sylvie’s love potion. Bad boy Lucien LeDeux is more than she can handle even before he’s dosed with the Jelly Bean Fix. The wildly virile lawyer is the last person she’d choose to subject to the scientific method.
When the dust settles, Sylvie and Luc have the answers to some burning questions–Can a man die of testosterone overload? Can a straight-laced female lose every single one of her inhibitions?–and they learn that old-fashioned romance is still the best catalyst for love.”


Then:

The Love Potion is one of the first contemporary romances I read in English. The following quote (The Romance Reader) looks like something that likely induced me to buy it then:

When Sylvie Fontaine was twelve years old, swamp rat Lucien LeDeux asked her to dance. Painfully shy, she refused — and Luc has been the plague of her life ever since. Hiding his feelings for Sylvie under a veneer of swaggering Cajun confidence, Luc canโ€™t help teasing her whenever their paths cross.

Unrequited love + nemesis-turned-lover = Yay!

I bought The Love Potion in January, 2001, thought it a hoot and since then, I’ve at least read it twice, although the last time was several years ago. But I still remember I was mightily impressed by the scene under the tree when I first read this novel. I recently mentioned this novel in a comment on a blog and well, I had to re-read it then.

Now

The premise of The Love Potion has one difficulty you just have to accept to enjoy the story: Sylvie’s discovery of the love potion. Also, in the beginning Sylvie’s unconcern about the ethical implications of a pill that make you fall in love with the person whose enzymes happen to be in that pill (or jelly beans) might make you feel uncomfortable. But later, these implications turn into one of the main plot elements. So if you swallow (haha) these, The Love Potion shows itself to be a often fast-paced, tightly plotted and well-structured story.

Sylvie and Luc know each other since they were young children. Nearly as long they are what Sylvie’s friend Blanche calls “archenemies.”

It all began like this:

[Houma, Louisiana, 1978]
“You wanna dance?”
“No!” Sylvie looked with horror at a red-faced Lucien LeDeux. He stood before her, cowlick standing at attention, in his shiny Sunday Mass suit.
“No?” he asked, the blush of embarrassment on his dark-skinned face deepening to anger. “Why? Sylvie Fontaine is too good for me?” He made a derisive tsk-ing sound by clicking his tongue against his teeth. “A high-class cat and a Cajun swamp rat? Talk about!”
Oh, it was just like that awful Luc to single her out at her first boy-girl dance at Our Lady of the Bayou School! Painfully shy, she glanced quickly around the crepe-paper-festooned cafeteria to see if any of her classmates, or Sister Colette, was watching as the wickedest boy in the whole parish asked her to dance. “You are to bad for anyone, Luc LeDeux. But not because you’re Cajun. Because you are too…too…bad.”
“His lips curved into a nasty smirk. “And you are too goody-goody, Sylvie-chatte. Here, kitty, here, kitty. meow.” He danced around her in a teasing Acadian shuffle.
“Go away.” she urged in a mortified whisper.
He stared at her for a long moment, then turned to walk away. Over his shoulder he tossed a parting shot. “Ah well, I ain’t gonna die of a broken heart. But someday, Sylvie, you’re gonna beg me to dance with you, I guar-an-tee.”
“Never!”
“And it’s gonna be real close and slooow. And…and it will prob’ly be sexy, too. Yep, we’ll dance together…naked.”

Now it’s 1999, both Sylvie and Luc are thirty-three, and Luc’s question for a “slooow dance” has turned nearly into a standard greeting whenever they meet. Sylvie works as a chemist, Luc is a lawyer and is known as the “Swamp Solicitor,” famous for taking on cases every other lawyer wouldn’t dream of touching.

The story starts when Luc wants Sylvie to test a water sample for one of his cases. Sylvie is running the last tests on her “love potion” with lab rats – her most favorite pair of rats, Samson and Delilah, nearly seem like a blueprint for her relationship with Luc in the course of the story – when Luc comes by to ask for her help. To begin with, Luc catches Sylvie observing Samson and Delilah going at it again, and then:

Luc was tossing jelly beans up into the air, one at a time, like peanuts, and catching them in his mouth. She looked quickly at the petri dish at the other end of the table. It was only half full.
Oh, my God!

and all hell breaks loose. The love potion kicks in big time; both stories – Luc’s case and Sylvie’s love potion – make the news; because of that, everyone and their dog seems to be after Sylvie – or is it Luc? – and Sylvie and Luc go into hiding to figure out what the hell is going on. Throw in some voodoo, Samson and Delilah, Luc’s Tante Lulu – a hope-chest-and-St.-Jude-statuette maniac where Luc is concerned – plus a host of other quirky secondary characters and Luc’s hot brothers, and you’re in for quite some fun. And some hot loving.

In short: The Love Potion is a hilarious romp. Or as Remy to his brother Luc says: “Do the words voodoo, live chicken, a love potion, and two dingbat females riding a Harley mean anything to you?”

Sometimes, but only sometimes, the story falters a bit when teh FUNNY seems to take precedence over the plot and scenes turn out longer than needed. IMO, of course, because I should say that usually, the kind of humor used in this story seldom works for me. I tried other novels by Hill and I didn’t like them as much as in this one.

But then, these other novels didn’t have Sylvie and Luc. Luc especially. He’s hot, and he’s such a wonderful combination of crude and vulnerable, particularly where Sylvie is concerned. For example, he’s not above telling Sylvie that he doesn’t want her along when he goes into hiding while at the same time feeling he’s not good enough for her (wrong side of the tracks and all that). Yumm.

Overall, The Love Potion is more propelled by humor and action than by character development although both Sylvie and Luc have their personal baggage. But Hill deals with these things in a lighthearted and humorous way which makes it easy to dismiss the rather serious background of their characters. Sylvie comes from a family of over-achieving and cold women and her severe shyness (complete with panic attacks) doesn’t make things easier. She hopes that her discovery of the “love potion” takes care of both problems: give her a chance with a man and make her no longer feel inadequate in the eyes of her family. And Luc, he has a very difficult non-relationship with his father and does his best to live down to his “bad boy of the bayou” appellation. I especially appreciated how Sylvie’s shyness problem makes the story come full circle with the prologue at the end. For that, I even put up with the silly misunderstanding that was needed so that Sylvie could address this problem.

And needless to say, Luc gets his dance with Sylvie. Sexy. Naked. And no, I actually don’t mean the horizontal variation.

Verdict: I still think The Love Potion is a hoot and the scene under the tree is still OMG, IMO, and Luc’s character totally works for me in this story and – looking at my grading system – I’m undecided between calling it a very good read and an amazing read because I would say I love this story.
Hmm. 5/5 because I love Sylvie’s and Luc’s story so much for its poignant memories and laugh-out-loud and tender now-moments, and 4,5/5 for the parts teh FUNNY took slightly over the plot. Since I’m afraid I have my nostalgic lenses on too firmly, I’ll go with 4,5/5.
But this is definitely a book I would buy again if I somehow lost my copy. And it was a great choice for a re-read. I’m sure I won’t wait years before I read it again.

Blog Challenge: Re-Read Challenge 2009

31 Jan

re-read-challenge-2009
I signed up for the Re-Read Challenge 2009 at Nath’s blog Books, Books, and more Books late in December, 2008. I just had read Stephanie Lauren’s A Secret Love again and I thought it really interesting to re-visit this story again after a few years. I also was a bit in a (reading) slump and thought the outside pressure to read would help. So I signed up.

Here are the rules (taken from Nath’s post):

1. The book you choose for the challenge must be one that you’ve already read ๐Ÿ˜€

2. Review must be posted on the last day of the month.

3. At the end of each month, I’ll put up a post for the Re-Read Challenge. Please post the link to your review in the comment section – this way, it’ll be easier to keep track of all reviews so everyone can find them easily and enjoy them ๐Ÿ˜€

I think it will be interesting to see what each participant reads. Plus, I hope to get some recommendations for books I missed. And not to forget, I think it’ll be fun.

Larissa Ione – “Pleasure Unbound”

29 Jan

ione-larissa-pleasure-unbound
GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: Grand Central Publishing, 2008

SERIES: “Demonica” series, #1

WHY THIS NOVEL: I read some favorable comments and I felt like reading a paranormal.


The back blurb:
“Tayla Mancuso is a demon-slayer who hungers for sensual pleasure–but fears it will always be denied her. Until she lands in a hospital run by demons in disguise, and the head doctor, Eidolon, makes her body burn with unslakable desire. But to prove her ultimate loyalty to her peers, she must betray the surgeon who saved her life.
Eidolon cannot resist this fiery, dangerous woman who fills him with both rage and passion. Not only is she his avowed enemy, but she could very well be the hunter who has been preying upon his people. Torn between his need for the truth and his quest to find his perfect mate before a horrific transformation claims him forever, Eidolon will dare the unthinkable–and let Tayla possess him, body and soul…”


One of the first things I thought when I read Pleasure Unbound was that it was a huge mix of familiar paranormal elements while at the same time it was able to stand on its own.

Plot:
There is a lot going on in this novel. At the center is the romance between Tayla and Eidolon which features an attracted-to-the-enemy premise and the mystery that brings them together: who mutilates demons to sell their parts on the black market? Eidolon thinks the Aegis, a society of human warriors that fights demons, is behind that while Tayla, a member of Aegis, can’t believe that and well, demons are Eeeevil. Also, as the first novel in the series, quite a few characters and hints of future stories get introduced.

World:
There are strong shades of Buffy with all the demons and vampires, and Eidolon and his brothers reminded me of other paranormal romance series. But it was all good because Ione makes them all her own and she seems to enjoy writing the story, like when she references Buffy by making “Buffy” a name demons use for Aegis warriors, for example.
The thing that really struck me about the world created in this story is that it is a very sexual (Incubus demons) and really gory world. The lines between good and evil are blurred, there is a lot of gray, and there is violence, torture, pain and loss. Love and caring seem more an exception than the norm. Tayla’s voice and thoughts offer a welcome relief from that.
The demons and creatures Ione introduces are quite imaginative whereas the inner workings of the world so far are mostly left alone, leaving a more sketchy impression overall. But as the first in the series, I have no problem with sketchy and what I read about Heaven/Hell was promising so I look forward to what will come there.

Characters:
The main characters, Tayla and Eidolon, are enemies but both have to deal with more things than just being attracted to the enemy: Tayla gets her world turned upside down and Eidolon, a dedicated healer, faces a transformation that basically means he’ll lose everything important to him: after the change, he will be driven to procreate indiscriminatingly and think of nothing else. Only finding a mate before that will keep his nature in check. Phew.
There are also interesting bits about Eidolon’s two brothers and a few other secondary characters, like the half-demon nurse or the leader of the Aegis society, Kynan.

Romance:
For quite some time, what Tayla and Eidolon share is sex and not love, and sex against their better judgement at that (mortal enemies yada yada). Love is something that sneaks up on them. But talk about some hot scenes between these two. Of course, the stakes were in favor of that with Eidolon being an Incubus demon, Eidolon’s approaching transformation, his being unable to get off on his own, Tayla’s problem, and so on, but oh my. Even better: the romance still worked.

Some thoughts:

  • I liked the reversal of roles in this story: the hero is the healer while the heroine is the fighter.
  • I also liked that the heroine’s problem with sex didn’t vanish into thin air just because the hero showed up. No five orgasms the first time here. Quite the contrary. But Ione goes further. She makes the hero an incubus, a demon species that has women orgasm practically by default, which I thought nicely exaggerated the usual virility of hero’s in romance novels. And Tayla…her reaction is not what Eidolon’s used to there.
    (But still, the resolution happened too fast in my opinion and I also was a bit disappointed with the reason for the problem).
  • I liked that there is a lot of gray in this story and its characters. The lines between good and evil are not clearly defined and there are a few surprises on the way.
  • I was especially drawn to a certain character/”story” ever since I read the first whiff of it. I’m really curious how that will turn out.

Verdict: I was pulled into the story right away. It was near the end that I thought the pacing faltered some: there were quite a few plot lines to deal with and I thought some important ones didn’t get the attention they deserved because of that. Everything was wrapped up rather fast. So Pleasure Unbound went from being a good to a decent read (3,5/5). But I enjoyed reading it a lot and I look forward to reading the next one which fortunately comes out in a few weeks.
Sometimes it isn’t so bad to be late to the party.