The Dukes Tattoo (by Miranda Davis)

Disgraced many years earlier by the Duke of Ainsworth, Prudence Haversham has resigned herself to living as a spinster, but she’s not averse to exacting her revenge on the man who sullied her reputation. Her co-conspirotors drug and kidnap him and put a ribald tattoo on his private parts.

The Duke of Ainsworth is determined to track down the culprits and exact his own revenge, but the only clues he has are Prudence’s startling blue / green eyes which he caught a glimpse of through his opium haze, and a jar of medicinal cream.

When he finally tracks her down he sets his plans into motion, but she isn’t at all what he expected and as they clash wits he comes to value her and then love her.

I don’t really read historical romance. I’ve tried a few times but my over-active imagination gives all the characters bad teeth and the smell you would expect when you consider toilet paper wasn’t invented for another 100 years. But this book is great fun…it works on nearly every level. I even started to enjoy the language which admittedly took a little getting used to. It’s a game changer, one of those rare books that can introduce people to a new genre of fiction.

If I have one criticism, it’s the cover. Great book, but the cover is a disaster.

Eleanor & Park (by Rainbow Rowell)

“I don’t like you Park, ” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…”––her voice nearly disappeared––”think I live for you.”  

He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow. 

“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath.”

For Eleanor, the only thing worse than going to school is going home. Coming from a home where her violent and abusive step-father lords over the household, her life is one of hopelessness and despair.

Park is a fringe dweller, a person who is on the edge of the popular group but not really a part of it. When Eleanor starts sitting next to him on the bus to and from school their journeys are at first silent, but gradually they start to communicate in small ways. Over time Eleanor comes to depend on Park, and Park falls in love with Eleanor. But the price of saving her might be losing her.

Eleanor & Park is an amazing book. It is a poetic and beautiful book which occasionally made me ache with despair. In a world with an abundance of really great books, Eleanor & Park is somehow a little bit more. One of the best books I read in 2012.

Many thanks to St Martins Press and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

My Bluegrass Baby (by Molly Harper)

“We’re going to talk and you are really going to listen to me. Because this isn’t coming from Kelsey, your awesome assistant who knows and sees all, but Kelsey, your friend, who cares about you as a person and the overall condition of your soul. You are heading down a very dangerous path, Sadie. If this promotion was the One Ring, you would be Gollum. If it was the white whale, you would be Ahab. If it was the Iron Throne, I’m pretty sure you would be a Lannister, and nothing good ever happens to a Lannister.”  

 

 

 

Sadie is a shoo-in for the job as director of the Kentucky Tourism Commission. That is until the government decide to bring in some fresh blood. Now she has to compete for the job that was supposed to be hers with a flashy, over-confident PR man from Atlanta.

With the battle escalating and everyone in the office taking sides, Josh and Sadie need to settle their differences and find a way to work together before the entire office descends into all out war.

My Bluegrass Baby is great fun. It has elements of romance, chick-lit and travelogue all rolled into a quirky book about a woman who loves Kentucky just a little more than is healthy. Reading this book I really got the sense of just how much Molly Harper loves her home state. The book has Molly Harper’s trademark snarky sense of humor and will sit very comfortably on a book shelf right along side And One Last Thing, her other foray into chick-lit.

Many thanks to Pocket Star Books (Simon & Schuster) and Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC.

Checkmate (by R.L. Mathewson)

…he had to touch her, had to kiss her and he did just that.
“Ow!” he winced, stepping away from Rory as he rubbed the back of his head where it suddenly throbbed. He looked over his shoulder and found all five of her brothers watching them with innocent doe-like expressions on their faces.
“It was a squirrel,” Craig said somehow keeping a straight face.
“Vicious little bastards,” Bryce added solemnly.
“You should really be careful,” Johnny added before mouthing “bitch.”

Rory and Connor have been bitter enemies since pre-school. Over the years their many battles have become folklore and they’ve been banned from just about every establishment in town. When their building companies are awarded a joint contract to renovate a hotel the sparks immediately start flying. It’s a knock down drag out battle for the right to be called the #1 building contractor in town. But maybe their biggest problem is that they can’t seem to keep their hands off each other.


R.L. Mathewson’s A Neighbor from Hell series is whacky and completely off the wall. As an independent author she doesn’t have the same resources as other authors, but she still manages to deliver books that are polished and completely addictive. She’s the best thing since sliced bread and Checkmate is yet another fun read you won’t want to end.

Days of Blood & Starlight (by Laini Taylor)

Days of Blood & Starlight is book two of a trilogy.  This review may contain spoilers.  

For thousands of years Angels and Chimaera had fought a brutal war of attrition. In Daughter of Smoke & Bone the Chimaera’s greatest secret was discovered and the Angels pressed their advantage, defeating the Chimaera.

The war is over and the Chimaera armies have been decimated, but what follows war is not peace but genocide.  The Angels have turned their attention to the innocent civilians and are hunting them down like animals.

Bitter and broken from what Akiva has done, Karou has joined a small group of Chimaera warriors who survived the final battle. They are led by Thiago, a narcissist and sociopath whose goal is not to protect Chimaera but to exact a bloody revenge.  As the only surviving resurrectionist Thiago needs Karou to build him an army. She finds his tactics repugnant but can she stand up to him when she hasn’t got a single ally?

Akiva is crushed with guilt over what he has brought about.  As he watches the genocide unfolding he makes a decision to turn against his own and protect the innocent Chimaera. But what can a single angel do in the face of so many?

Days of Blood & Starlight is as close to perfect as it’s possible to get. In parts it’s an extremely uncomfortable book to read and I literally had to put it down because I couldn’t go on.  But before very long I just had to pick it up and continue. It’s a powerful story about  good versus evil; love versus hate; hope versus despair.

A Penny’s Worth (by Nancy DeRosa)

Penny is approaching 40, single, with no friends and a job that is sucking the life out of her. Even her family don’t think she will ever amount to much.

Desperate to turn her life around she quits her job as a school nurse and manages to find a job working in the oncology ward at her local hospital. Caring for cancer patients she is able to find the self worth that has eluded her. But every step forward she takes, her critical and overbearing mother is dragging her two steps back.

A Penny’s Worth is very much a Cinderella story, complete with the wicked step-mother and sisters. It’s a fairytale for adults which never gets overly complicated and always manages to stay positive and upbeat.

Many thanks to Fingerpress and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

My Kind of Christmas (by Robyn Carr)

And Angie saw him. He was standing on the porch of the bar, leaning a shoulder against a post. He was most definitely watching her. When their eyes met he did that smile thing again––half his mouth lifted.

When Patrick loses his best friend in combat, he takes a medical leave and heads to Virgin River to get himself together and make some decisions about his future.

Angie has lived her entire life pleasing her mother, but a serious car accident has left her questioning her goals. Unable to decide if she wants to continue at med-school she escapes to Virgin River to collect her thoughts. When she meets Megan, a young girl with an ugly scar across her face, she decides to step in and make a difference. She makes it her mission to raise the money that will restore little Megan’s face.

Patrick and Angie are both being pulled in different directions. In a few short weeks they will be forced apart, but until then they are able to find a measure of comfort in each other’s arms. Before long they have fallen in love but with Patrick’s commitment to Navy and the widow of his friend, there doesn’t seem to be any room for Angie in his life.

My Kind of Christmas is very much what we have come to expect from Robyn Carr. It’s a light and fluffy love story with an upbeat and optimistic message. A fun book to read over Christmas.

Many thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

Merry Ex-Mas (by Sheila Roberts)

As Christmas approaches, three divorced women find themselves having to deal with their ex-husbands.

Cass’s daughter is getting married and she wants her father to walk her down the aisle. Confronted with a husband who has been absent for years and then swoops in with his check book and new wife like a knight in shining armor, Cass struggles with jealousy and feelings of inadequacy.

Ella is living in the same house with her ex-husband. She is trying to get on with her life but is confronted on a daily basis with her past. A man she still has feelings fall. A man who despite evidence to the contrary, insists he never cheated on her.

After running off with another woman, Charley’s husband has returned looking for forgiveness and a second chance. His betrayal destroyed her, he took her money and set up house with the other woman. Can she forgive him and does he deserve it?

Merry Ex-Mas is a short and sweet holiday season book. As you would expect from a Christmas novel, it’s not too challenging and has an optimistic and upbeat message.

Many thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

Five Days Grace (by Teresa Hill)

…she felt an urgency in his touch that she hadn’t felt before.

He did want her. Very much.

She felt a little thrill as that knowledge shot through her. It had been so long since she’d felt like a man wanted her urgently, like he was greedy to have as much of her as she was willing to give.

https://i0.wp.com/photo.goodreads.com/books/1347811257l/16028730.jpgFollowing the death of her husband, Grace discovers that he was unfaithful to her. Feeling betrayed and alone she travels to the scene of his infidelity, a small and rustic lake front cabin, looking for evidence of his betrayal.

After sustaining serious injuries while deployed in Afghanistan as a Naval Intelligence operator, Aidan is using the cabin to recover both physically and psychologically.

Both Aidan and Grace have baggage, both are heart-sick. Over one week they are able to begin healing each other and start looking to the future.  But they also have lives waiting for them, Aidan is career Navy and Grace has an established business in Ohio. The question is can they turn five days together into a lifetime promise.

Five Days Grace is a sweet and easy to read contemporary romance. I thought it was a little longer than it needed to be, but it was still a very satisfying read.

Many thanks to ePublishing Works and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Stolen (by Shiloh Walker)

https://i0.wp.com/photo.goodreads.com/books/1331854182l/13531840.jpg Tearing her mouth away, Shay ducked to the side. “We … we can’t do this.” She pressed a hand to her buzzing lips. “I’m just getting to the point where I’m used to going through the days without you calling. I’m just getting to where I can pass a few nights without dreaming of you.”

As a child, Shay suffered unspeakable horrors at the hands of her step-father. Everything about her adult life has been about hiding from the trauma of her past. She lives in a remote town in Alaska. and has isolated herself from her family and friends.

Elliot broke off their relationship because Shay couldn’t open up to him, but he can’t let go of what they had together. When a stalker, someone who knows Shay’s most closely guarded secrets starts stealing her life and attacking her friends, Elliot is determined to be there for her…determined that he won’t abandon her a second time.

But in order to find her stalker, Shay will need to remember the horrifying events of her childhood (events so horrifying that even this reader winced). With Elliot’s support she figuratively returns to her past, as she literally travels to her childhood home town. There she comes face to face with the person who has stolen who she is.

Stolen is an intense and gripping story, packed with truck-loads or romance and suspense. It never strays too far from the tried and true formula you’ll find in many books of this type. It does everything it’s supposed to do and also manages to throw in a surprise or two.

It’s very good adult romantic suspense.

Many thanks to Ballantine Books and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC