Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Secret Passion Of Simon Blackwell
Samantha James
ISBN: 0060896450

Stephanie said: Samantha James kept me up last night. I started this book because I couldn't find the one I was currently reading. I adore James' other books so I knew I could expect a pleasant read. What I didn't expect were the gothic undertones. I kept hearing Heathcliff pacing about the moors of Yorkshire as Simon revealed his tortured soul. I can't remember the last time a hero has been so brutally challenged by life as Simon Blackwell. James truly roasts this man on a hot fire. He is Heathcliff only with extra broodiness and angst.

Cai said: I agree 100%. It’s been a while since a hero has had the horrors to face that Simon does. He really takes the cake on the “Dark and brooding” hero. I also adore Samantha James (I thought her “Perfect” series really was…) I also love the way each chapter starts with an entry from Simon’s journal. Not only is he a tortured hero, he’s a very eloquent writer .

Stephanie said: And our feisty heroine Annabelle whom everyone calls Anne or Annie is more than spunky. She's a terror on two legs when she decides that enough is enough and her marriage is no longer convenient. When she sets out to tear down Simon's walls, all bets are off. She isn’t experienced, but she observes her erstwhile husband. These observations lead our very astute heroine down a path of seduction that crumbles him.

Cai said: Oh my…when Anne sets out to “get her man,” she truly does. I love the way she gets to Simon, the power she wields, even when she doesn’t realize what she’s doing!

Stephanie said: I cried while reading this one. I became utterly involved with Simon and Annie as they traversed the rocky road of love. This is not your typical romance. It starts out by actually obeying the rules of society and forcing two people together simply because they were caught kissing. Thank you Samantha James. You are now on my "automatic buy this author" list.

Cai said: Even though it doesn’t have the “typical” beginning, it truly has that satisfying HEA ending. And Samantha James has always been on my “auto-buy” list, this just solidifies her spot!! A ROUSING STAND-UP & CHEER from me on this one!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

REVIEWBALL: Dragon Heat (The Dragon Series, Book 1)

Dragon Heat (Dragon Series, Book 1)
Allyson James
ISBN-13: 978-0425215890
293 pages

Cai said: At first, I wasn’t so sure about this book. I love paranormal, I write paranormal, but it took quite a bit for me to suspend my disbelief long enough to accept that a ripple in space would allow a 50-foot dragon to live in someone’s spare bedroom. Then again, that’s successful world-building for you. Yes, Lisa Singleton has a most unusual roommate. Caleb is a dragon. Specifically, Caleb is a golden dragon, a warrior, and good luck. Lisa’s grandmother Li Na somehow managed to open this rift in time and space and Caleb lives in her spare room. He’s addicted to late-night television and popcorn, and loves to listen to Lisa talk about her day.

Stephanie said: I loved loved loved this book. Utterly no suspension of belief for me as this played in to some childhood fantasies of mine where you would open a door and find a whole new world. Thanks, CS Lewis! This book opens slowly with Lisa reminiscing a bit about her grandmother and her new hair look. Seems when grandma died, Lisa got a streak of grey in her locks. Then we meet Caleb and all bets are off. He is a cantankerous fella who doesn’t like that he can’t protect Lisa fully. Nothing like having an over-zealous dragon as a chaperone!

Cai said: Though the story took some time to take off, once it did, I was hooked. You see, there are witches, a black dragon, and lots of magic contained in this story. One of the witches is out for vengeance and is not above using others, including demons, to get what she wants. The black dragon, Malcolm, is a strong and interesting character, and at first I had a hard time with him. He also is not above using others to get what he wants, but his goal is not what you’re led to believe it is at first. The twists and turns in the story will keep you guessing as to who is on which side and who will ultimately triumph (okay, it’s a romance, we KNOW who’s going to triumph, but still…the question is raised as to whether or not a gold dragon and a woman with her own special powers can actually make a match).

Stephanie said: I liked Malcolm as well. His character nearly overpowered the book though because I kept wanting to get back to him. As a villain, he was nicely shaded with definite grey areas. Then James throws in a powerful plot twist that thrilled me. I loved the idea that I didn’t really know who the bad guy was at first.

Cai said: Lisa must come into the realization of her own power before she and the dragons can face off against the witch out for revenge. She must also discover the power of love, sacrifice and family.

Stephanie said: Caleb has to deal with the idea that he’s now in human form and has to deal with some very human emotions that dragons do not have. We learn about the various kinds of dragons as well. I found Allyson James to be very adept at world building. And her secondary characters stood out as well.

Cai said: I’m very glad to see that the next book in this series is Malcolm’s story. He deserves his own tale, especially with those he left behind and the unresolved story with Saba (another of the witches). Allyson James also writes as Jennifer Ashley, a fact I found very interesting as Jennifer Ashley also writes paranormal. Her books in the Immortal Series are fabulous as well. I look forward to reading the next in the Dragon Series.

Stephanie said: I didn’t realize James was Ashley, but I loved her Immortal book. Like Cai, I am delighted to see that the next book in this series coming out in October. You can bet that I will be at the bookstore on release day with my copy in hand. I highly recommend this book. It had many of my personal favorites such as dragons and Asian themes as well as highly redeemable bad boys.

REVIEWBALL: Mine Till Midnight

Mine Til Midnight
Lisa Kleypas
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
382 pages

Stephanie said: Finally we are given Cam Rohan’s story. For those of us who devoured the four stories of The Wallflowers (Devil In Winter, Scandal in Spring, It Happened one Autumn, and Secrets of a Summer Night) this is the story we’ve been waiting for since meeting Cam Rohan, the darkly mysterious and sensual half-gypsy. Most of us expected he would be Daisy’s match, but Daisy had plans of her own. I will admit to bitter disappointment when I picked up Daisy’s book and found that she would not be falling in love with Cam as expected. But Kleypas worked her magic and gave me a satisfying love story for Daisy and promised that Cam’s story was coming.

Cai said: And yet, I wasn’t disappointed that Daisy and Cam weren’t a match. I knew after reading Daisy’s story that she and Cam would have been a terrible pair. I wasn’t at all disappointed that they weren’t together, but I was disappointed that we’d have to wait for Cam’s story.

Stephanie said: So who would love Cam? Well, it turns out that a very determined Amelia Hathaway would be bowling him over. Her family has inherited, but her brother’s reaction to the money is to turn to gambling, drink and drugs. He truly is a wastrel of the first degree. She also has sisters, three of them, to watch over. She is a very sensible, responsible girl – a veritable Meg of “Little Women” fame.

Cai said: You have to admire Amelia from the very first. She’s determined that her sisters and brother will succeed, even if it means she’ll be the “maiden aunt” to the bunch.

Stephanie said: When Cam and Amelia first meet, there is an immediate spark that lets the reader know this will be no easy match. Kleypas likes to torture her characters and this is no exception. Amelia knows her duty is to her family and that marriage has passed her by. She has accepted this and is calm in the role life seems to have cast for her. Cam has decided to finally take up the life he knows he was meant to live – that of a Rom living out of doors like a free man and traveling with the Gypsies. When he meets Amelia, he denies the attraction even though they share a scorching kiss that leaves them both questioning what just happened.

Cai said: Cam’s reaction to Amelia is priceless. Though he truly wants to rid himself of his “curse,” he can’t deny his attraction to Amelia nor can he deny his desire to show her that she is not “on the shelf” as she appears to believe.

Stephanie said: Amelia and her family travel to their new estate that turns out to be in worse condition than her own brother who has been found in the hells of London and dragged out to detox in the fresh country air. From rockets to bees to near death, the country does not prove to be the idyllic setting Amelia had hoped for. Throw in a devious nobleman with plans of his own for the Hathaways and a past history with Amelia and you have a very typical Lisa Kleypas book.

Cai said: I love the scene with the rockets, and I’m sure you will, too. Having Westcliff, St. Vincent, Evie and Lillian return is just a bonus in this book. Ms. Kleypas brings us up to date on these characters in a most satisfying way.

Stephanie said: I found the story of Amelia and Cam to be more tense than some of Kleypas’ other books. I loved the tension between she and Cam and the introduction of the Hathaways seemed, to me, to be setting up another series with an intriguing family. There was a sub-story that never quite got finished between the ill Hathaway girl and their Gypsy family friend and servant. I wonder if we will be able to look forward to the story of Merripen and Win. And who will the mischievous Beatrix torment with loose lizards and kleptomania?

Cai said: The tension is palpable in this story, and I love Cam’s indecision. Will he go forward with his quest for freedom, or will he tie himself even more firmly to the gadjo world? What about his “curse,” will it break with his association with the Hathaway family? What will happen to Merripen, the mysterious half-gypsy who figures so prominently in the Hathaway family dynamic? As for the other Hathaway sisters, will Amelia find them “appropriate” husbands? They will need to be extraordinary men, and I’m sure Ms. Kleypas will tell their stories with the same enthusiasm she saved for Cam and Amelia.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Coming Soon...

Reviewball returns...

While at RWA's (Romance Writers of America)National Conference in Dallas I was able to obtain an ARC (advance reader's copy) of Lisa Kleypas' book - Mine Till Midnight. The long awaited story of Cam Rohan, first introduced in Devil in Winter, coincidentally the FIRST Reviewball we ever did. After I DEVOURED the book, I gave it to Stephanie. She read it, and we'll be reviewing it here very soon!

We each scored a ton of books at the conference, so we may be doing a LOT of reviewing here .