Tag Archives: Helen Brooks

January 2009

31 Jan


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 Bride’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 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. 😉 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

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

Recent Reads 3

10 May
  • Helen Brooks – The Italian Tycoon’s Bride
  • Kathleen O’Reilly – Shaken and Stirred
  • Karen Templeton – Yours, Mine … or Ours?
  • Karen Templeton – Baby, I’m Yours

Helen Brooks – The Italian Tycoon’s Bride

Genre: Romance / Contemporary

I read this one in early March. I got it because I liked the other novels by Brooks I had read. But this time around, Brooks way to write didn’t work as well for me. Like with the two other novels, TITB is told solely from the heroine’s perspective so the reader doesn’t know what the hero thinks and feels. This writing style didn’t detract from reading the first two novels; in fact I think it worked in favour of the story and the reading experience because the reader knew that the hero was totally in love with the heroine while the heroine didn’t. Lots of awh!-moments there. But this style didn’t work as well with TITB because here the hero isn’t in love with the heroine from the first moment they meet. With the whole novel written from the heroine’s perspective, his actions often seemed rude, making his “I love you” not as easily believable. Still, that’s the only thing that really bothered me (at least, it bothered me enough to still remember it now.) Apart from that, I enjoyed reading TITB.

Grade: 4 / 5

Kathleen O’Reilly – Shaken and Stirred

Genre: Romance / Contemporary

The conflict in this story is that Tessa wants to prove she can make it on her own (she was left in a very bad spot after a relationship ended four years earlier because she depended on her boyfriend to take care of her) and Gabe wants her to commit to him. For much of the story, I read along happily. It was only during the last chapters that my enjoyment went downhill a bit because of Gabe. I liked him just fine until he started with some kind of “wanting Tessa to depend on him like it was the last 4 years” and the “if you don’t want to live with me you’re not committed to me” bullshit. I got lost there somewhere. Of course, it might be that I couldn’t see me moving in with someone just after a few weeks (months?) when I still have issues about independence, fabulous sex or not. And getting the not-committed line for that would make me think about the relationship really hard because something that’s important to me as a person (might even go so far make me whole) seems to be treated as not important. So, no, I wasn’t frustrated with Tessa for taking so long; I was frustrated with Gabe that he couldn’t give her more time.

Grade: 4 / 5

Karen Templeton – Yours, Mine … or Ours?

Genre: Romance / Contemporary

Looking at it from a technical perspective, I thought this was the best written novel of the trilogy with the surest grasp on the story. What kept it from getting a 5/5 grade was its lacking the “special something” – be it a strong emotional or strong intellectual (or both) connection with the story and characters; or a resonance with me, my feelings and my experiences. I know this is highly individual and subjective (and a lot of the reviews that made me buy this trilogy in the first place went one step higher with the grade), and this novel getting a 4,5/5 grade doesn’t indicate a plot or character or otherwise technical problem. It’s just that I’m very reluctant to give 5/5 to a story that didn’t grab me the same way on a different level (emotional/intellectual) than on the writing level itself.

Grade: 4,5 / 5

Karen Templeton – Baby, I’m Yours

Genre: Romance / Contemporary

This one resonated more with me than the previous novel (Yours, Mine … or Ours?) in this trilogy, but it too “didn’t quite make it” (that is, it wasn’t a 5/5 for me). Reason: the falling or being in love of the hero, Kevin, with the heroine, Julianne, struck me a bit as out of the blue. Later on, I was on board with their being-in-love, but I didn’t quite catch the beginning. It wasn’t a “huh?”-moment, but it was there and that’s reflected in the grade.

Grade: 4,5 / 5