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My alternate identity is Tammy Walton Grant at GoodReads

I frigging LOVED this book.

The Inconvenient Duchess - Christine Merrill

I'm sorry, I can't think of any other way to put it.

I was trolling my kindle for something to read the other night when I happened upon the title. As I remembered exactly nothing about the book (other than that I really liked it) I figured what the heck and re-read it.

Now I'm gonna gush.

I love Christine Merrill's writing. An author of some wit, her books are infused with a sense of it, both in the prose and in her characterizations. Not all authors have this, and when I find one who does, I glom their backlist like RIGHT. NOW.

It doesn't hurt, of course, that The Inconvenient Duchess has one of my favourite plots ever - a marriage contrived by a scheming relative bringing together the stuffed-shirt Hero and an upstart heroine. This Hero stomps about yelling at the staff and slamming doors, just the way I like 'em. He isn't so much of a boor that he doesn't recognize what a jackass he is, and this is his saving grace. The heroine is another favourite type of mine, the ruined/poor/spinster with a temper.

I laughed out loud at some parts, grinned to myself at others, and thoroughly enjoyed every second of reading it.

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The Indiscretion - Judith Ivory 3.5 stars
The Proposition - Judith Ivory 4.5 stars - both times I've read it. :)
The Theory of Attraction - Delphine Dryden Woohoo! I liked this. Bunches.

Story was (almost?) plausible, CHARACTERS WERE GROWN UPS, kink was steamy but not too much. This is what I wish I'd read 2 years ago instead of FSoG. Or perhaps this book was possible because of FSoG? Oh, who cares.

Anyway, this story starts off as a standard contemporary - heroine lusting after her neighbour, believing he doesn't notice her. I love these stories; this one has the added bonus of some bdsm thrown in.

I liked the characters, I liked the writing, I thought the ending was a little bit sudden, but not enough to tarnish my enjoyment.

The second book in the series comes out soon, I'm looking forward to it.
Beautiful Scars - Shiloh Walker

3.5 stars.

Good, but ultimately I felt like there was too much going on, and not enough time for the author to address it all. The reason for her scars alone would be enough fodder for an angsty romance, but SW has thrown in rock star thing, the best friend's brother thing, and a hint of the BDSM thing.

Too many "things" for me. :)

It's worth a read, though, for the subject matter (and the steamy bits). I'd definitely read more by this author.

Simple Jess - Pamela Morsi Question: If a heroine was raised in the Ozarks by her kin, in a teeny tiny town perched on the side of a mountain, where no one came in from away, and no one left, folks jumped over a rock to celebrate a weddin', they say words like "caint" and are so intermarried they caint right remember what clan they started out from, and the clans decide that the widder Althea caint rightly keep her hunting dogs and her farm to herself so they hold a kangaroo court to decide who she should marry, if you are raised like that, in a time like that, in a community like that, would it even occur to you to say "I won't do it?"

That was my problem with this book. I kept asking myself that question. And the answer, I kept thinking, was "NOPE".

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin, #1) - Anna Campbell

DNF.  So bummed. I LOVE Beauty and the Beast stories, and Anna Campbell is usually a sure thing for me.

I don't know what happened here, but I felt like I'd been hit by a swinging heavy bag with the plot, the characters and the writing itself. And all by about 20% into the book.

Gonna call this "Judith McNaught-itis" or "Lisa Kleypas-itis". Over-wrought, over the top. Not that I usually object to that, but in this instance it really isn't working for me.

Lisey's Story - Stephen King image

The Bet - Rachel Van Dyken image

Colour me perplexed. Is this what "NA" books are? 21 and 23 year olds flailing about, finding love and discovering themselves? If so, this book ain't it.

It has the other pre-requisites: heroine orphaned tragically, alone in the world and struggling to finish college; the stunningly gorgeous male lead with a tortured (well, this guy had a stutter. Sort of tragic, no?) past, tons of money and a weird family.

Otherwise, it was a standard, run-of-the-mill contemporary romance. Heroine agrees to act a fiancee to the love of her live in order to fool his family and patch up love's career, then runs into love's older brother, who has been in love with HER all of his life. Comedic love triangle and assorted goofy family antics ensue.

The problem I had with this (and it's too bad, because otherwise I quite enjoy this trope) was that although the author says her characters are 21 and 23, they don't talk that way, dress that way, have jobs that fit, or, for the most part, act that way. Hero is supposed to be 23, talks like he's 30 and has owned and run a millionaire's ranch for years. WHAT? The ne'er do well brother, who we are told is 21, has taken over his parent's multi-million dollar company, is stalked by paparazzi and tabloid reporters and has been in multiple scandals with strippers. The only believable thing about all of that is the stripper part. The heroine, who is also supposed to be 21, is the only one who remotely acts her age, but certainly talks like a woman in her late 20s.

So there was that. And the whole high school thing from my updates. It got to be surreal by 2/3 of the way through the book, and that's when I started skimming.

The first half of the book felt as though the characters and story were written to be in their late 20s, early 30s. By the end of the book nothing much was making sense anymore.

Well, at least it was free.
All I Ever Wanted - Kristan Higgins

This is another of my books that has definitely benefitted from a re-read. The theme of Callie's story - that sometimes everything you think you want is FAR from what you really need - is not a new one in romance.

Kristan Higgins' take on it, though, is charming. It is also laugh out loud funny, poignant, and is going on my keeper shelf. It's a CLEAN romance as well; while Callie and Ian have tremendous chemisty, the love scenes are all fade to black. What we do see, however, is really well done - enough so that smutty old me barely notices the darkness. (Well, to be fair, I did on second reading but the chemistry between the leads balanced it out.)

This is the second of Kristan Higgins' books I've read in the past year or so; perhaps I should glom her backlist for the stories and characters and play out the love scenes in my head. God knows I've read enough of those. :)

3.5 stars the first time I read it; a year later it's getting a 4.


Head Over Heels - Sara Downing

As much as I hate to admit it, I quite liked the Bridget Jones books. And the first couple of Shopaholic ones. I could identify with Bridget and Becky. They kept me in stitches with their adventures as they tried to find themselves, whether it was by keeping a diet diary or being chased by letters from VISA.

Their stories were told in a distinctive, breezy British manner. The wit in the writing and the charm of the characters was what made both of those series so hugely popular.

When I found this book (for free on Amazon - dammit, I should have known better) I was hoping to meet a heroine like Bridget Jones or Becky Bloomwood. Instead, I got Grace.

Grace is a elementary school teacher. During her free time she shops. Her pride and joy is the spare room in her house, which she has converted to a dressing room. She is shallow, materialistic and generally not very likable. She is engaged to a lawyer named Mark, who is equally shallow, materialistic and unlikable. They live in a pretentious little village where they pretend to be vereh impohtant and have dinner parties with their equally important couple-friends.

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Lord of Darkness - Elizabeth Hoyt 3.5 stars
The Lady Always Wins - Courtney Milan The first Courtney Milan that I haven't really cared for. I'm guessing it would have made more sense if I'd read it in [b:Three Weddings and a Murder|14288458|Three Weddings and a Murder|Tessa Dare|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1337730182s/14288458.jpg|19927952] when it was originally published, rather than as a stand alone.
Wallbanger - Alice Clayton

Someone HAS to start telling me when I'm reading fanfic. Especially Twilight fanfic.

A friend recommended this to me (waves), I checked out the sample from Amazon, it looked like fun, so I read it. And then found out it was P2P fanfic. I've said it before with other books, and I'll say it again - I feel like Eric Cartman:


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Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home - Gil Reavill

I have always been a somewhat morbid sort, so you can see why this book appealed to me immensely.

It's an easy read, with tons of gnarly detail and incisive wit. I laughed out loud a number of times while reading, mostly from passages like this, where the author is referring to the death of a kid on his little league team when he was seven:

"You always remember your first dead body. The following afternoon at the funeral home, Chucky was a waxen figure arrayed in a coffin of polished mahogany, somehow more elegant in death than he had been in life, at least on the baseball diamond, where his fielding skills left something to be desired. W.C. Fields used to call death "the Fellow in the Bright Nightgown." For me, he was always a Little League Shortstop."

Call me cracked, but that paragraph made me burst out laughing. My husband was appalled. :)

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Killing Floor - Lee Child This was quite good -- a series I can reach for when I can't find anything that's screaming "read me!"

Killing Floor is a fast-paced, hard-boiled read. Lee Child's style took of bit of getting used to - the prose is tense and sparse. Once you get going, though, the story moves quickly, with a whole lot of action described in a way that seems at once flat and incredibly descriptive.

Mr. Child has a talent for effortless description, and the book spooled out before me like a movie. (My Jack Reacher looked NOTHING like that pipsqueak Tom Cruise, I'll have you know.)

There were a few coincidences that gave my "suspension of disbelief" muscles a bit of a workout, but they weren't enough to ruin my enjoyment of this tale of criminals, counterfeiting and small-town secrets.

Thanks, Catherine, for another great recommendation!