donderdag 26 november 2015

Nora Roberts - Dance to the Piper

The second book in the O'Hurley series, published July 1, 1988.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: I prefer my book cover, a view of New York.

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They both knew what would happen…
She moved in perfect harmony to the music that ruled her life both onstage and off. He dealt with ruthless expertise. Music was his business and he was all business, until she lit up the stage…
The attraction was instant and impossible. Because he ruled his empire from glass towers high above the vibrancy of her world. Coming too close was risky business. But she dared to dream - and she had dreams big enough for them both…

I have read this book many years ago in Dutch but did not remember much about it, so it was a true joy to read it again in English. I loved Maddie, she was such a dedicated person, so vibrant, so enjoying all life has to offer. She worked hard to become a Broadway star, and she still works so very hard. She didn't have much time in her life for men, until she met Reed Valentine. He owns a record company, and for the first time, they are backing a play, and so he had come to the theater for some business meetings.
Reed doesn't believe in love, or marriage, and he knows he will only hurt her, but he can't stay away from her either. Sure he admires her, and he wants and desires her, but love? He is just not interested in the long term. Marriage is just a contract, and a divorce is another contract to break it. So why bother? Besides, she is an actress, and a very good one, how would he know if she was acting around him or not?
As a dancer, Maddie is used to pain and working around it, but heartache is a very different pain.

Another golden oldie by Nora Roberts, and I hope to dig up book 3 soon.

7 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 25 november 2015

Jenn McKinlay - Sprinkle with murder

The first book in the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series, published March 2, 2010.
Genre: cozy mystery with recipes
Cover: delicious

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Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura are finally living out their dream as the proud owners of the Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery. But their first big client is a nightmare. She's a bridezilla who wants 500 custom cupcakes for her wedding.
When Mel stumbles upon the bride-to-be dead-by-cupcake, she becomes the prime suspect. To save themselves and their business, the ladies need to find the real murderer, before the cupcake killer ices someone else.

I've read some of her hat shop mystery books, and really enjoyed those, so it was time to dive into her first series, and what is not to love about cupcakes? Two best friends just opened their own cupcake store together, with their best friend Tate financing them. They both do their best to like the women Tate is about to marry, but she is just a horrible person. And when asked to cater their wedding cupcakes for 500 guests they discover just how much of a Bridezilla Christy is. Not only does she want 5 original cupcake flavours and designs, she wants to own them as well, meaning Mel could never re-create them and sell in their shop.
Christy also doesn't like them being her fiancée's best friends, and spending a weekly movie night together. Mel and Angie are afraid those evenings will come to a rapid end once they are married. Which is a shame as they have been best friends since forever.

When Mel stumbles upon Christie's dead body, she instantly becomes the prime suspect, as it was overheard that she doesn't like Christie, and even her own mother believes her to be the culprit. So she has no choice but to try to find the real killer. And as Christie has made a lot of enemies, there are enough likely suspects to investigate.

It was a nice mystery, a bit predictable in the end, but I liked the friendship. Angie has a lot of very overprotective big brothers, and they are a pain in the … Mel has had a crush on one of them for a long time, while Angie has had her own secret crush …
The one thing I just don’t like, they all talk in movie quotes. They just love watching movies, old ones, new ones, all kind of movies. And I am not a movie lover at all, so I don't get the references or the significance, and don't find them funny.
I know it happens in more books, and I don't usually mind that much, but for some reason I didn't like it in this one.
As I do have more books I will read more, but for now, I am not in that much of a hurry.

A nice mystery, with a hint of romance on the horizon, and some feisty heroines to cheer on.

6 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 24 november 2015

Jackie Collins - Goddess of Vengeance

The eighth book in the Lucky Santangelo series, published September 13, 2011.
Genre: glamour romance
Cover: hot

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Lucky runs a high-profile casino and hotel complex, The Keys, in Vegas. Lennie, her movie star husband, is still writing and directing successful independent movies, while Max, her stubborn and gorgeous teenage daughter, is about to celebrate her eighteenth birthday, and her son, Bobby, owns a string of hot clubs. Lucky has everything. Family. Love. Life.
And everything is exactly what billionaire businessman Armand Jordan is determined tot ake from her one way or the other.
Born a prince in the small but affluent Middle Eastern country of Akramshar, Armand comes to America with his American mother at an early age and rises to become a real-estate titan. Armand regards women as nothing more than breeding mares or sexual playthings, so when his people inform him that the one property he covets more than anything, The Keys, is not for sale, he is shocked. That a mere woman would turn down his offer to buy The Keys is unthinkable, and Armand vows to force Lucky's hand, whatever it takes. And so the battle for power begins…
Meanwhile, Bobby is dealing with shady Russian investors, while his girlfriend, smart and independent Denver Jones is becoming a Deputy DA in the L.A. drug unit. And Max is busy embarking on a forbidden love affair with a sexy young movie star. An affair they have to keep on the down-low lest Lucky finds out.
The word is "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas", and what happens in Goddess of Vengeance will blow your mind!

I am still sad to know this will be the very last Lucky Santangelo book. I would have loved to read more about headstrong Max and what she will make of her life. But Jackie Collins passed away a few weeks ago, so I can only dream about it.
Like Bertrice Small's Skye O'Malley, Jackie Collins' Lucky Santangelo is one of those heroines you will remember and admire for ever. They are resilient, they persevere and they fight for what they want and whom they love. They don't give up. Their lives are not always happy, and horrible things happen, but the joys and rewards are worth it in the end.

This book was not as exciting as promised on the cover. Armand is a depraved drug addict, and not capable of plotting against Lucky at all anymore. He gets what he so richly deserves, but he is no real threat to Lucky or her loved ones. So Goddess of Vengeance she might be, she didn't have to do much in this book.
It was Max who fell in love just before her 18th birthday, but he is in the middle of a nasty divorce with paparazzi hanging on his every move and word, so they have to be secretive. Her mother especially won't be happy with her, as he is married to her best friend!
Max' two best friends are not really worthy of that name in my opinion, as they don't do much for her, they are both too much into drugs and loose sex and Max doesn't do drugs and not too much booze either. But she does like to dance and to party.

Bobby is still head over heels for Dallas, but she is so insecure about their relationship. She is just an ordinary woman from a normal family, who loves her career in LA, while he is megarich and gorgeous and his work is in New York and Vegas. She doesn’t like to travel all that much, and his family intimidates her. So why should she stay with him, when she could go out with a screenplay writer, or a cop who is interested in her? Is it true love after all?

It was a good story, but more of catching up than real action and plot and suspense. And of course the depraved bad guy at work. He sure got off too easy.

7 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 23 november 2015

Mary Lydon Simonsen - The perfect bride for Mr. Darcy

A stand alone novel, published January 1, 2011.
Genre: pride and prejudice re-imagining
Cover: nice

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It's obvious to Georgiana Darcy that the lovely Elizabeth Bennet is her brother's perfect match, but Darcy's pigheadedness and Elizabeth's wounded pride are going to keep them both from the loves of their lives.
Georgiana can't let that happen, so she readily agrees to help her accommodating cousin, Anne de Bourgh, do everything within their power to assure her beloved brother's happiness.
But the path of matchmaking never runs smoothly …

I totally blame Blodeuedd for making me buy and finally read Pride and Prejudice retellings, as she loves them so much, so thank you! I thoroughly enjoyed this one. And it makes me want to watch the BBC miniseries again. Sigh, Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, is there anyone else in that role?

It was basically the same story, and not. Anne de Bourgh plays a big part in this book, and I enjoyed that, and the older brother of Colonel Fitzwilliam shows up in the end, and I never did know that Bingley had more siblings than his two dreadful sisters, and one of the very successful.

Thanks to this book, the quarter finally fell for me, and I realize the title of the book/series. Darcy's pride, and Lizzie's prejudice (thanks to Mr. Wickham's tales). Yes, laugh at me, but I never think about titles at all, thinking they are randomly picked by some editor or marketing person.

I did read the book in one setting, it was fun, and the only negative for me, is that my favourite scene is missing in this book. Mary wrote something completely different and that did not work for me. Still, I will certainly read some other retellings by this author.

9 stars.

Edited: yes, we did watch the Pride and Prejudice miniseries a few days after I read this book, and loved it again. Did you know it is the 20 year anniversary of the series? Go, indulge yourself.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 22 november 2015

Jennifer Ashley - Perils of the Heart

A stand alone novel, published November 1, 2002.
Genre: historical romance
Cover: nice

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Evangeline Clemens knew she tread in dangerous waters. Sent to seduce the captain of the merchantman Aurora, the English governess trembled in her innocence. Her stepbrother's life - and the life of the rugged sailor she must tempt - depended on her success. She swore to surrender her body, her virtue, anything Austin Blackwell demanded. But she never expected to relinquish her heart.
On a mission for the American Colonies, Austin suspected the timid temptress was a skilled spy ordered to sabotage his plans. She played the part of an untried miss to perfection, her inexperienced fumbling driving him wild with desire. But after sampling her sweetness, after one harrowing night fraught with passion and peril, the commander vowed to navigate any course to discover the truth. For his soul mutinied at the prospect of sailing into the future without the courageous lady by his side.

As far as I know, this is Jennifer Ashley's first book, and as you all know, she is one of my very favourite authors. But this book is so very different from what I know from her hand. It is really silly and unbelievable and I had a lot of fun reading it. No, it is not a pirate romance, as Austin is a merchant captain, and not a pirate. Lot of things happen to Evangeline on her journey to Boston and the one thing is even more unbelievable as the next. But she is a courageous woman and does her best to survive. And read her book of devotions.
After finding her fiancé in bed with her full-breasted maid, she broke her engagement to the anger of her stepfather and mother. They wanted nothing to do with her anymore, and send her bespectacled self of to a cousin in America who would find her a job as a governess.

I can't recommend it to you if you love "proper" historical romance, as I prefer you read some of her amazing series in stead, be they historical romance or paranormal. If you do like silly and fun though, go on and read it.

7 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 21 november 2015

Jude Devereaux - Change of Heart

The ninth book in the Edilean series, published October 21, 2014.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: normal

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Dear Reader,
I am very pleased to bring you my new novel Change of Heart, and I'm equally delighted to share "the story behind the story" of his this book came to be.
Change of Heart began as a short story. When it was published some years ago, readers told me they liked the camaraderie between the two twelve-year-old do-gooders - exceedingly bright Elijah Harcourt and exceedingly wealthy Chelsea Hamilton - and the matchmaking scheme they concocted on behalf of Eli's single mother.
Over the years, readers have asked me what happened to them when they grew up. Did their childhood bond blossom into he love of a lifetime?
I thought it was time to find out the answer to that question. Eli and Chelsea were separated when they were still teenagers. But later, an adult Eli - who now looks very different - decided to invite Chelsea to visit him in the town of his ancestors, Edilean, Virginia. At first it seemed that they had grown so far apart that there could be nothing between them. That is, until they overheard a very sad story and began to look into it.
It seems that who we are as children often says with us. I hope you enjoy the adventure of Eli and Chelsea and seeing their own change of heart.

This book is made up of two parts, the first when Eli and Chelsea are still children. Eli is brilliant and at twelve he is scouted by major universities. But he can't leave when there is no one to take care of his gullible mother whom he adores. And so they come up with a plot to matchmake her to a billionaire, and Eli knows just the man. It will have to be like one these romance novels his mother loves so much, or she will never meet somebody.
And so with some help of the family of the intended groom, his mother is hired as a nurse to take care of Frank Taggert and his broken arm in a remote mountain cabin …

The next half of the book, Eli and Chelsea are adults and after having lost contact for years, Eli has found Chelsea again and he has invited her to spend some time in his new home in Edilean. While Eli is working super secret jobs for the government, Chelsea has been a drift after been discovered as a model, and lost in the world of drugs and alcohol and bad men. She doesn't know what she is looking for, or what she wants out of life, but she is still gorgeous and mega rich.

I enjoyed this story as well, but not as much as the first part of the book. The interactions between Eli and Chelsea are a bit strange, but they still know each other and know how to handle the other. I did not like that Eli tried to keep Chelsea out of every part of their new investigation, as she is capable enough, as he finds out again and again. Eli also has some intriguing assistants, who just might have found love in Edilean as well.

What I did not feel, was that this book fits in the Edilean series. Yes, Eli bought a house there, as his father came from there (whom he loathed) and some Edilean secondary characters play a part, but it could have played anywhere in America.

8 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 20 november 2015

ARC-review: Gini Koch - Alien in Chief

Book 12 in the Katherine 'Kitty' Katt series, to be published December 1, 2015.
Genre: sci-fi romance
Cover: cool

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The mastermind has upped his game…
As Kitty can tell you, it's not easy being the wife of the vice president - especially not when he's an alien from the Alpha Centauri system. And being a parent of preternaturally talented children, don't even go there. But she and her A-C husband, Jeff, have learned how to roll with whatever life and the bad guys throw at them - they think.
Kitty & Company have been savouring a few months of quiet since they got back from Beta Eight. But suddenly their peace is shattered by the arrival of a mysterious female assassin - who might be Jeff's missing niece Stephanie. And that's just the beginning of the fun.
When the Alpha Centauri Planetary Council requests a visit with the president and vice president, things look politically dicey. When the most dangerous prisoners in the most secure supermax prison escape with ease, things look bad. But when the Mastermind releases a virus that kills people in a week, things go to Defcon Worse fast.
Now it's up to Kitty to save everyone important in the U.S. Government - including her mother, her husband, and herself - before the virus spreads through the rest of the country, and then the world. Plus she's facing invisible attackers, crazed assassins, a teenager in hiding, the most dangerous train ride ever, the disappearance of her beloved flyboys, and a mysterious alien who could be an enemy or the ally she needs.
And this time, the Mastermind's made it very personal. Either he's going down … or Kitty is.

Another roller coaster ride of a story, and again I am sighing: how can I review this book? So much happens, so many characters play their part, and I really don't want to spoil anything. I should just type: the book is amazing, go buy it and read it! But that would be way too short a review (but true, and everything I want to say with it).

As her husband Jeff Martini has become the vice president of the United States, that makes Kitty the Second Lady. And she is still the Ambassador of Alpha Centauri.
They know who the Mastermind is, but does he know that they know? That is the big question in this book. Should they play dumb, or should they engage him openly. And before they can come to a decision, he has upped the stakes to a new and deadly level.

The Alpha Centauri Planetary Council wants to come for a visit, and that is just what he needs to raise more hatred and fear for aliens. Especially as he has created a deadly virus, and he has set it loose during a meeting of the president and his whole staff and the heads of all the various agencies… and Kitty's mother …
Meanwhile, Siler asks Kitty to take care of his adopted daughter, Lizzie, who has run in some serious trouble with the powerful kids at her school. Kids whose parents are very well known to Jeff and Kitty, and not in a good way!

Of course that is not everything, someone else is killing their political allies, and with a bow and arrow! This Huntress might even be Stephanie, Jeff's estranged niece.

Did you know that the President has not only a plane for his own use (Air Force One), but also a very luxury train? Well, Kitty does know and she can't wait to ride on it again. She knows all the staff and the food served is delicious. She doesn’t know yet that she will get the rain ride of hell!

Lots and lots of action and intrigue and rarely time for Kitty to take a break, especially when everyone is infected with the virus, and she will have to safe them all, and the day. Or, life as usual for Kitty.

Be warned though, Gini Koch is a brilliant author, who spins a story you get lost in for hours, but she is not afraid to kill characters you love. She has done it before, and I expect her to do it again, and it always makes me go: noooo you can't do that! But she is a ruthless author, and somehow it fits in the story. Luckily, Gini also adds new very interesting characters to the mix and I can't wait to find out how they will fit in the story.

If you want a series where I can guarantee you will never know what will happen on the next page, I heartily recommend this. And don't worry, other than lots of aliens and alien pets (those are adorable and save the day, especially when there are snakes), there is not too much technology and stuff involved.

Gini, as always, I bow to your imagination and thank you for the many hours of reading delight, even though you make me cry at times.

10 stars.

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