Tag Archives: Kristin Hardy

June, 18, 2010

18 Jun

Currently Reading: A Fortune Wedding by Kristin Hardy

ONCE, HE WAS HER WHOLE WORLD…

…until Roberto Mendoza left Frannie Fortune and their hometown far behind. But she was no longer the seventeen-year-old in love with the smoldering ranch hand. She was a woman accused of murdering her husband.

When he left Red Rock nineteen years ago, Roberto swore he would never return. But when an unseen enemy threatened the Mendoza clan, he found himself charging to Frannie’s rescue, determined to help her clear her name. And when passion reignited–hotter and more powerful than before–Roberto knew he’d do anything to heal the past and build a future with the woman who’d always belong to him.

The woman he’d never stopped loving.

I like the writing and the voice in this novel (like I usually do with Kristin Hardy’s novels). I think Hardy’s a good writer and she knows how to tell a story. But this time, I have a hard time getting into the story.

The first thing that threw me off was that apparently the police didn’t search the surrounding area where someone was killed. Otherwise I can’t explain why Roberto had to show them where to find the murder weapon nearly two weeks after the murder… And his brother implied that Roberto did something wrong by coming forth with this knowledge. Umm, right.

The other thing I have a problem with is Frannie. After she realizes how dependent she’d been on other people – first her mother, then her husband – and how deep in trouble she’s now because of that, she never wants to be dependent on anyone. I say, good for her and totally understandable.

But she also has a debt of two millions and when Roberto offers to look into the matter of the properties she now owns (she never even had any idea her husband bought them) she refuses, never mind she doesn’t know the first thing about managing properties. In fact, she probably should sell them as fast as possible but she won’t accept Roberto’s help (who knows a thing or two about that because that’s his job) because she has to do it on her own. Umm, right. Well, at least she comes around after Roberto points out that she could pay him – like all his other customers do…

I guess what bothered me was Frannie’s insistence on her independence (I take care of it on my own no matter what) in that situation seemed more stupid than strong to me. Why couldn’t she have taken Robert’s offer of help and said she would pay him? Without him having to point out that possibility? Instead, the way she handles the situation reminds me of the heroines of old who stomp their dainty foot and toss their luscious curls over their shoulder.

Currently Playing: Runes of Magic?

I seriously think about quitting. I think I’ve said that several times already but it gets truer and truer every time.

The rip-off tendencies I saw in the game from the beginning get clearer and clearer with each new offer in the item shop. There are more and more gold sellers on the servers and a lot of bugs that simply don’t get fixed. In addition, the support is…I don’t know what to call it.

Then last week I learned that by signing up for the game, I actually opened three! accounts. One for the game, one for the real money transactions for the game’s item shop and one for the forum to the game. I now play for nearly ten months and didn’t know that. I simply was never told when I signed up. What’s more, all three! accounts use the same login name and the same password… When you change the password, you just type it in one time. You don’t need to type in your current password before you change it; you don’t need to repeat the new password to make sure you didn’t make a typo; you don’t get a email notification;… I changed all my passwords (except the one for the forum; you can’t change that on your own…)

On Monday this week I learned that my login name and my password was transmitted in plain text every time I logged in to play…

I changed my password for the game again.

The last time I played was last weekend. Right now, with that kind of “security” measures and irresponsibility on the comany’s side, I’m not sure I want to play again.

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August, 30, 2009

30 Aug

It looks like the workers are coming to an end, at least in terms of noise. Since Friday afternoon, it only sounds like someone is vacuuming with a giant vacuum cleaner. That’s progress, right?

Currently Reading

Hardy, Kristin - Under His Spell

Kristin Hardy – Under His Spell

The last few books I read didn’t really grab me, so I turned to a trusted author–Kristin Hardy. I was sure I would get a nice and enjoyable story and I was I right. Good move, good move!

It’s the story of Lainie, who once had a teenage crush on J.J., and J.J., who is one of the best ski racers in the world. Lainie knows what kind of life J.J. leads–have fun, play hard, play fast–and her teenage crush has since turned to scorn. She wouldn’t get involved with J.J. for money.

I’m a few chapters in and my favorite part so far probably is this:

“I have to go,” she said faintly, telling herself to pull her hand away. But instead she just stood there, staring stupidly at him.
“I know.” He placed something in her fingers and closed them over it, then raised her hand to his lips.
[…]
“Is that one of those moves you’ve learned in Europe?” Lainie asked unsteadily.
“We haven’t even scratched the surface of what I’ve learned in Europe yet,” J.J. said. “I’ll see you around, Lainie.”
And he turned and walked away.
She opened her hand and found one of the serenity stones they sold in the gift shop.
Carved into its surface was the word beginnings. (54/55)

Currently Playing

I’m still trying to figure out the ins and outs of Runes of Magic. A few days ago discovered the in-game shop for example. I don’t mean the cash shop where you invest real money to get special items in-game, I mean the shop where you can pay with coins you can earn in the game by doing daily quests. BTW, it took me how long to get that? Anyway, it offers some of the items I previously thought only available by investing real money. So that’s something.

In terms of characters, I have three now. My main character is stalling a bit at the moment. I really need to play in groups to get some of the quests done. Unfortunately, my experiences so far were mostly bad.

Yesterday for example.

We were five players in the group. The player who’d asked me, my character, and then later three others joined also. The group was all over the map and really, what’s the point of that? I stuck with the one who’d asked me and when I saw him getting attacked by several beasties, I tried but I couldn’t save him. They then turned to my character and after they were down (phew), I see the other player still lying on the ground.

Uh-oh, I knew what would come.

I had mage as my primary class, priest as secondary at that time. I was asked to resurrect* him. Priests can resurrect but only when they are the primary class. So I said, “no, sorry, I can’t at the moment.”

When he came back he was slightly pissed that I didn’t help as in “resurrected” him. Huh? Going on to say that I didn’t stay with him…when the others were all over the map; implying that it was my fault he went down…when he was the one who ran ahead without caution in an area he was slightly too weak on his own, not only jeopardizing himself but my character, too. Being surrounded by four beasties at the same time is no fun when you’re playing a mage.

He ignored my replies.

I could do without that. I left the group and I did the quests on my own.

I did not once encounter a situation where I was in danger of losing my life after that.

To be fair, I had a very nice experience with another player a few days ago but sadly, most of the time so far, it’s been like the one above.

———
(* And what did they think when they “improved” the resurrection spell the way they did?)

Kristin Hardy – “Sealed With A Kiss”

20 Apr

hardy-kristin-her-high-stakes-playboy_2-in-1

US title: U.S. Male (Harlequin, 2005)

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Mills & Boon, 2009
(2-in-1 edition together with Her High-Stakes Playboy)

SERIES: has a prequel, Her High-Stakes Playboy

WHY THIS NOVEL: Kristin Hardy


The back blurb:
Sealed with a Kiss
“John ‘Bax’ Baxter is stunningly hot and the best private eye in the business. Joss, Gwen’s feisty sister, knows he’s her last chance to find the missing multimillion-dollar stamp. Bax wants nothing to do with the corrupt case. But could a saucy encounter with Joss change his mind?”


Sealed with a Kiss didn’t work as well as Her High-Stakes Playboy. I liked the setting (Stockholm). And there’s nothing to complain about the writing, the plot, the suspense, the characters, the dialog. The only problem was: I was not all that invested in the romance, so it was easy to put this book down.

Joss is determined to get back the last missing stamp of her grandfather’s retirement investment. She and her sister are pretty sure who has it, but that doesn’t matter to Interpol because there are no leads for them to act on. Joss decides to go to Stockholm (where the suspect lives) and see if she can discover a lead on her own. As hare-brained as that maybe sounds, she at least hires someone who knows what he’s doing: Bax, a former FBI and Interpol agent who now owns his own security business. Of course, he wants to go on his own, but Joss is persuasive:

[Bax] “So why do I feel like I’m getting glommed onto as someone useful?”
“Of course you are. I’m trying to hire you, although you’re making it difficult. What’s it going to take with you?” Impatience filled her words. “I have to get that stamp back and I need your help to do it. Why not go over there and play pretend?” She leaned forward until she was just inches from his face. “Or do I have to make it for real? Would you do it then?”

They set off for Stockholm together.

Joss is described as “feisty” in the back blurb. But she is not the foot-stomping-curls-tossing kind of feisty I dread, she just knows how to get what she wants. Bax is the kind of man who is afraid to depend on someone else and who was burnt once. When their “friends with benefits” arrangement turns into something more, he of course panics.

As I said, I wasn’t all that invested in the romance. I admired Joss for her guts, and Bax sure seemed competent (in and out of bed), but overall the romance lacked suspense for me. Joss and Bax were “together” right from the beginning, investigating the suspect. When Joss later realizes that they could be something more than friends with benefits, the resulting conflict (Bax panicking) lacked impact because, although I knew that would be the final problem, their friends-with-benefits relationship seemed just such a conflict-free and easy relationship for a long time in the story on the lovers level.

Sealed with a Kiss is a action-driven story and what the romance lacked in suspense, the mystery delivered. The suspect is a shady Swedish businessman who knows what he’s doing and who appears far from easy to scam. He is good at having things go his way. At times, I wondered if he is too good at being the villain and if Joss and Bax could have a realistic chance at getting back the stamp. There are coincidences that help them, like finding the one of the few persons in Stockholm who knows the way to the villain’s island, but overall, the mystery was the stronger part of the story, IMO.

Verdict: On the one hand, there’s nothing I can really complain about with Sealed with a Kiss. But on the other, I just wasn’t all that invested in the story. So I go with the middle ground: 3,5/5.

Kristin Hardy – “Her High-Stakes Playboy”

14 Apr

hardy-kristin-her-high-stakes-playboy_2-in-1

US title: Certified Male (Harlequin, 2005)

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Mills & Boon, 2009
(2-in-1 edition together with Sealed with a Kiss)

SERIES: has a sequel, Sealed with a Kiss

WHY THIS NOVEL: Kristin Hardy


The back blurb:
Certified Male
“Shy Gwen Braxton would do anything to retrieve her grandfather’s stolen $4.5m stamps, even blag her way into a Vegas poker tournament! Yet she didn’t gamble on getting help from sexy fellow competitor Del–or spending the most sensual night of her life with him!”


Gwen is in trouble. Her grandfather left her in charge of his stamp business while he and his wife went on a three-month-long cruise. On her watch, her grandfather’s retirement – stamps worth several millions – gets stolen. If word would get out about that, not only will his retirement be gone but his business as well. Dealing and investing for clients in high-priced stamps is dependent on trust, and an investment adviser who can’t keep his own stamps save? So not good.

It’s the reason that Gwen and her sister Joss don’t go to the police. Gwen and Joss want to get the stamps back on their own which is how Gwen winds up in Las Vegas, following Jerry, a former employee and now the suspect.

Gwen strove to be ordinary and fitting in from her teenage years on, but now she has to do the flashy and attention-seeking thing so that she won’t be recognized by Jerry. It helps that Jerry worked in the shop only for a few weeks and that Gwen only saw him a few times, but nevertheless, she and Joss figure it’s safer that Gwen gets a new hair color, new clothes, and a new personality.

Enter Nina, a blond bombshell, who soon attracts Jerry’s attention. And the attention of Del, a sports writer who’s looking for something more challenging in his professional career: he wants to leave the sports section and do the news instead.

Del was always intrigued by puzzles, and Nina certainly seems to be hiding something. There are flashes of a different person in the way Nina acts and Del goes on the alert. Maybe here is the story that could be his ticket for a career in the news? (You know where this will lead, I’m sure.)

I enjoyed the setting of this novel very much: Las Vegas and the poker tournament (shades of Casino Royal there). The stamps angle was refreshing, and Hardy makes it come alive and interesting. Who would have thought that about stamps? The plotting was tight, causing only two “yeah, sure” comments of disbelief, and the dialog flowed smoothly and is at times quite funny. For example, I liked this one. After getting a pep talk by Del, Gwen asks:

Fighting panic, Gwen took a deep breath. “Swear?”
“Damn,” he said obediently, and she grinned.

And Gwen and Del have chemistry.

Her High-Stakes Playboy might feature the plain-to-stunning transformation of the heroine and a final romantic conflict you can see coming from a mile away, but it is an engrossing story with two main characters who both discover things about themselves in the course of the story because they met each other. The mystery, the characters, the setting – all works together to make this a story that plays with deception and identity, and I enjoyed reading it a lot.

Verdict: After a slow beginning, Her High-Stakes Playboy turned into one of my favorite novels by Hardy. 4/5, verging on 4,5/5.