Tag Archives: “Sexy O’Sullivans” series

Kathleen O’Reilly – “Nightcap”

13 Feb

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Harlequin Blaze, 2008

SERIES: “Sexy O’Sullivans” series, #3

WHY THIS NOVEL: I have the first two books in this series, so I had to get this one, too.

The back blurb:
“Sean O’Sullivan claims that his family’s landmark bar is the victim of City Hall shenanigans only means more work for Cleo Hollings, the mayor’s number one mover and shaker. Since Sean’s got her busy, she decides she’ll keep Mr. Testosterone busy, too…but between the sheets.
Yet sleeping with the hunky O’Sullivan isn’t that simple. Everyone said Sean would be inexhaustible–even unforgettable. Nobody warned her he was lovable, too. Now other clubs’ drinks taste like dust. Nothing measures up to a nightcap–with a chaser of O’Sullivan stud!”

The back blurb makes Nightcap sound much more fluffy than it actually is.

Nightcap is the story of two strong people who are used to getting what they want. In particular, it’s the story of Cleo Hollings, who might be “the mayor’s number one mover and shaker” in New York, but who has to face things in her private life that, no matter how hard she tries, she won’t be able to beat in the long run. That’s a tough deal for a woman who likes to sort out messes and take responsibility. Cleo thrives on conflict and after she took the advice of one of her superiors (a woman) to heart – to grow a pair – there was no stopping her and she’s now deputy mayor at the age of 31.

Sean O’Sullivan is the one guy you go to when you want to get things fixed. He knows all and everyone and if he doesn’t, thanks to his charm this soon changes. The result is always the same: things get fixed. Only, the problems with his brother’s bar Prime just keep coming: one problem solved, two new ones on the horizon. He decides to approach Cleo Hollings for the hopefully end-all solution. This is more based on her looks than on her being the one best suited for what he needs and nicely introduces what Sean is (was) all about, IMO.

Nightcap really shines when these two go at it, verbally (and non-verbally). I mean, Sean is a lawyer – and a very good one at that – and Cleo is a very good politician. They know how to talk their way out of anything and how to get their way, so when these two talk, sparks fly. They can’t bullshit each other and I loved that.

More good things: the voice mail messages they exchange, the Town Hall meeting with Cleo in pink, two main characters we actually see working and who have to struggle and compromise to get it all done: work, family, social life. The real conflict in Nightcap is how Cleo and Sean can reconcile these different demands and make it all work. And: a woman who has a pair and isn’t afraid to show it.

So these are the things I loved.

Things I didn’t love as much:

  1. The short time frame. The conflict and the story would have benefited from more time (and space).
  2. I didn’t completely believe in the romance (again, the time frame). I especially had difficulty to believe Sean’s knowing it’s love so soon.
  3. I thought there would be more about the problems with the bar because it was part of all three novels, but it’s just what brings Cleo and Sean together. It stays in the background for most of the story and the solution seemed slightly “off,” disappointing maybe.

Verdict: Nightcap falls between Shaken and Stirred (which I thought good) and Sex, Straight Up (which I loved). There were parts I really liked and if not for the quibbles stated above, this would have been a 4,5/5. As it is, Nightcap is a good conclusion to the series, making “Those Sexy O’Sullivans” a very strong trilogy. 4/5.

Kathleen O’Reilly – "Sex, Straight Up"

20 Jun

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Harlequin Blaze, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: Main reason: I got the first part in this trilogy and I like to have things complete; secondary reason: good reviews + sounded interesting

The back blurb:
“Meeting a handsome loner on a deserted beach in the Hamptons was like being hit by lightning. One steamy weekend in bed with Daniel O’Sullivan and Catherine Montefiore was marvelously woozy from a delicious cocktail of sun, sand and superhot sex.
Abruptly, though, Catherine’s forty-eight hours of fun are at an end when her family’s exclusive auction house is hit by a very public scandal. She’s ready to step in and save the day, but she’s hoping Daniel, her hot Irish hunk, will lend a hand. After all, he’s got the necessary skills and, straight up or not, Catherine want another long drink of Daniel before another forty-eight hours are up and her legacy is lost forever!”

Every once in a while, there comes a novel along that reminds me why I love to read, that hits all the right notes and pushes all the right buttons; in short: a novel works on all levels. A novel that makes me think after finishing it that I better not start on another too soon because it wouldn’t be fair to the new one.

Sex, Straight Up is such a story for me.

Well, the title sounds crude but in some strange way it also somehow fits the story, because a) both Catherine and Daniel think it’s about sex between them: Catherine because she knows sex is all Daniel can give and Daniel because he thinks sex is all he can give and b) the bar thing (Daniel works in his brother’s bar on Saturdays).

The first one and a half pages of this novel make it clear what Sex, Straight Up is about and what the task of the author is in this story: make the reader believe that the hero can fall in love a second time. Here’s what Daniel thinks about fidelity and how it relates to marriage vows, even if the other person is dead for 7 years (he lost his wife on September, 11):

“Daniel didn’t look at other women, he didn’t flirt with other women and he sure as hell didn’t sleep with other women. Maybe his sleep-bagged mind would betray her, but his body wouldn’t.” (p. 8)

It’s summer, it’s hot in the city and after much urging and blackmailing by his brothers, Daniel agrees to go to the Hamptons for a weekend with some of his brother Sean’s lawyer friends. In Daniel’s eyes the house where he’s staying for the weekend is a “nuthouse.” Sean’s friends are there to have a good time and party. Since Daniel didn’t want to be there in the first place, he escapes to the beach on front of the adjoining house which he thinks is empty. It’s actually not, and that’s how Daniel and Catherine meet.

Catherine is fascinated by Daniel and attracted to him from the first time she sees him, whereas for Daniel it’s a slower development and slower realization with him noticing more and more things about Catherine while they talk for hours. I really liked this part.

Catherine and Daniel spent the weekend together and both think that was that and that they won’t meet again. But some weeks later, Daniel is brought in to investigate financial irregularities at the auction house of Catherine’s family. After some hesitation, they give in to their attraction and begin an affair – sex, straight up. Catherine knows Daniel isn’t capable of more and Daniel knows he doesn’t want more because to do so would be a betrayal to his wife. Plus, he’s also not sure if he can fall in love again.

O’Reilly has set herself a difficult task and she doesn’t use the “wife-was-actually-a-really-unpleasant-person-and-not-deserving-of-Daniel” device or the “elevating-the-new-woman-at-the-wife’s-expense” device to make it easier. Daniel’s wife was a nice and likeable person, very different from Catherine, and Daniel really loved her with all his heart. So, O’Reilly has to convince the reader that Daniel fell in love with Catherine completely and 100% and that Catherine isn’t second best, possibly even used only for sex. It’s the same thing Daniel has to do in regard to Catherine.

Here’s why it worked for me:

  • Daniel’s thoughts about the way he treats Catherine. He knows it’s not right to keep seeing her when he’s not sure he can love her completely.
  • the time factor: O’Reilly gives this story time. Between the first time Daniel and Catherine meet and the time Catherine accepts Daniel’s marriage proposal are several months; there are exactly 104 days between Daniel’s first proposal and Catherine’s acceptance.
  • Catherine’s awareness of Daniel’s struggle with his conscience and his feelings and her knowledge of herself.
  • “She hugged him, awkwardly at first, because she was so scared. She didn’t believe in many things, and although she believed in him, she wasn’t quite ready to believe in them. But when he looked at her, she could swear that really was love in his eyes. When she spotted her picture on his wall, she thought…maybe.
    And she gave herself up to him, gave him her heart, but still, she held back a little bit of her soul.” (p. 209)

    Which is why she keeps Daniel waiting for her answer because she isn’t completely sure about their HEA yet.

  • little clues throughout the story that Daniel’s feelings are changing and he slowly comes to accept Catherine as the woman in his life now even if he doesn’t know it himself yet.
  • I liked that the beginning mirrored the end, making the structure of the story complete and whole.

All this together made me believe in Daniel’s and Catherine’s love and their HEA.

Sometimes I’m glad that I like my things to be complete.

One more thing: Lately I’ve been struggling with my grading of novels. Is it really 4/5 or isn’t it 3,5/5? Is it really 4,5/5 or isn’t it a straight 5/5? I didn’t ask myself such questions about Sex, Straight Up. The 5 / 5 grade for Sex, Straight Up was a sure thing the whole time I read the novel.

Now, maybe my grade will go down when I come down from my reading-it-induced high. Maybe I’ll see plot problems or some other bothersome things when I read it a second time. I don’t know. But maybe I won’t. And I think the fact that I didn’t waver with the grade as I did with the other novels that ended up with a 4,5/5 grade instead of a 5/5 grade is the best sign that Sex, Straight Up is a 5 / 5 for me.

Well, two actually: Catherine. Reading my comments, it might seem as if this story is only about Daniel, and that isn’t true. I think his character arc is more prominent because it’s tied to the main task the story has to accomplish, but Catherine isn’t just there. She’s very “real” and has problems and a development of her own. I really liked her and was very happy to read about such a heroine. It’s the whole package that made me like this novel.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 5 / 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