Thursday, September 30, 2010

Re-Read: The Golden Chance by Jayne Ann Krentz

Last day of the month of September! It's hard to tell whether the month has gone by quickly or slowly LOL. It seems just a few days since it was Labor Day week-end. At the same time, the weeks without new releases have gone by oh-so slowly! Anyway, it's useless to complain about it, LOL. All I can say with certainty is that fall is here... and seriously, it shows - at least, over here. Temperatures have dropped a lot and we've been getting lots of rain. The only nice touch is that the leaves have started changing colors as well - was it earlier than the previous year?

Good news, bad news for this month's re-read challenge. The good news is I did re-read a book. The bad news? Not the one that I planned... but does it really matter? LOL. I guess not. I was planning to read Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, but I just never got around to it. I've been kind of in a slump at some point this month... nothing was appealing to read ^_^; Then, I had a friend who was purging her books. She was getting rid of many Jayne Ann Krentz and while going through my own stash of JAK books to see which ones I've read and which ones I haven't, I came across The Golden Chance... and just felt like re-reading it :) So The Golden Chance it is this month :)
The Golden Chance by Jayne Ann Krentz
published by Simon & Schuster in December 1997
When she gains control of his family fortune, it's love at first fight.

Stunning, stubborn, and independent, Philadelphia Fox lost her best friend because of the fabulously rich and powerful Lightfoot family of Washington state. Now she's got her friend's controlling shares in Lightfoot Industries - an inheritance that brings Nick, the family's prodigal and supremely attractive son, knocking at her door.

An unexpected and irrepressible spark between them blazes into extraordinary passion, and Phila - historically unlucky in love - finds the deepest satisfaction she has ever known. But behind Nick's gray eyes lurks a disturbing enigma? and Phila must make the choice of her life. Trusting Nick may come with quite a price - but giving in to his strong, sensual seduction is a golden chance that may never come again.
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: none

You can read my previous review of The Golden Chance here. Since there's already a review, I'm not going to summarize the plot again :P

My Opinion: I cannot believe it's been already more than a year since I went on my Jayne Ann Krentz binge! Seems like yesterday, really.

Okay, so I read this book till 3am in the morning, that must tell you something about my enjoyment, right? :P This is pretty much a classic JAK book - hero is a businessman with a hidden agenda and heroine is someone a bit eccentric, a lot unique :) They meet, they are attracted and they try to navigate all the obstacles - usually involved family and business. It might be classic and in some way, predictable; however, it's well written and I liked it :)

I like Phila's determination and loyalty and the fact that she tries to understand the situation and the people she has to deal with. She's not ruthless, but at the same time, she doesn't let people run over her. She stands by her own beliefs and values and that's what make her such an admirable character... and I can totally see why Nick finds her so attractive. As for Nick, I think he's a great match for her. Not as direct as her, but I do think he believes in the same thing as her... Simply, it comes off differently because they were raised in different environments. LOL, is it me or reading this time, it seems that Nick is a bit nerd-ish. Totally missed that :P In any case, I think he complements Phila well and I like that he wants to take care of her. Not simply because he wants her, but because that's who he is. Also, he's not above being sneaky or harsh to get what he wants... in this case, I think that's manly or typically male. As in, it's too much bother explaining his motives and reasoning, I'll just do it and you can think whatever you want. LOL, typically male ^_^;

One aspect of this book that I enjoyed is the whole family. Everyone fighting to protect or advance their own interest. It's a bit saga-ish and I like that style of story. I also think it's a good kind of plot when you want to focus on relationship, but have something else. I mean, you can make it as complex or uncomplicated as you want, so it will match with other elements of your storyline... and Ms Krentz knows how to take advantage of this kind of plotline.

I cannot really pinpoint what makes me enjoy this book so much. Could be the relationship between Nick and Phila, could be the story, the writing. I simply do LOL. I know, not very helpful as a review, but The Golden Chance has become somehow a comfort read.

My Grade: B+

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: Deeply, Desperately by Heather Webber

Nothing really to say. Life is quiet and work is busy. I thought the week-end was too short LOL. I mean, I really like doing nothing :P And I definitively cannot believe the end of the month is so soon! Where has time gone really? Hopefully, I'm going to be able to blog all I want to blog about in a timely fashion :P

Oh, guess what? I'm not done cleaning my room - that is always a WIP ^_^; However, I was able to find my copy of Deeply, Desperately! :P

Deeply, Desperately by Heather Webber
published by St. Martin's Press in August 2010

Lucy wants to breathe new life into her family's Boston-based matchmaking company. But how? Even though she comes from a long line of ancestors blessed by Cupid with psychic abilities, a freak accident left Lucy with only one special skill: finding things. Car keys, socks in the dryer, needles in haystacks...and now, in a stroke of professional genius, lost loves!

It's not long before Lucy's on a winning streak, helping old flames reunite and create new sparks. Business is booming. But when Lucy finds herself involved in a possible case of murder, she realizes she's in too deep. Enter Sean Donahue. Lucy's handsome fire-fighter turned private-eye neighbor, Sean is just the man she needs to help her on the job. Could he also be the man she's been looking for all along? When it comes to Valentine, Inc., falling in love is always serious business.

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Lucy Valentine, Book #2

The Story: With Christmas fast approaching, it's normal that Lucy is busy... however, a lot more is going on than just the holidays. First, Lucy has a case with Lost Loves, Valentine, Inc.'s new branch, where a widower is looking for his first love. While Lucy loves her new job and is very interested in the case, she's less than happy about reporter Preston Baily shadowing her, looking for her meal ticket to bigger newspapers. There's also Preston's questioning about siblings and family that are weirding Lucy out. Then, there's Lucy's best friend, Marisol, who is planning an intervention to stop Emma, the third musketeer, from marrying a jerk. As if all that is not enough, Sean's ex-girlfriend is back in the picture and needs his help and support. Seriously, all this is enough to drive a woman crazy :P

My Opinion: I really enjoyed Truly, Madly, the first book in the series. I thought it was cute and fluffy and Deeply, Desperately pretty much continues in the same vein. A lot is happening in Deeply, Desperately and you'd think it'd be overwhelming, but it wasn't. Everything - the relationships, the romance and the mystery - blended and balanced out each other well, providing us, the readers, with a fun and enjoyable book :)

I think the success of this series so far is its heroine, Lucy Valentine. The best word that could describe her is normal :P Really, she might be a psychic with the ability to find objects and persons, but what she wants makes her a regular person. She wants a relationship with Sean, she wants to succeed at her job, she wants her friends to be happy and her family to live in peace and harmony. All of this makes her extremely easy to relate to and thus, likable. Same goes with Sean. He's a very nice guy, caring, responsible and trustworthy. And because Ms Webber has two solid main characters, she can go crazy with the secondary characters :) I mean, Lucy's family members are definitively a hoot, especially together LOL and while she loves them, she's not blind to their flaws. And her friends? Makes me envious to see such strong friendships :) All in all, I have to say I truly enjoyed Lucy's interaction with everyone.

The romance between Lucy and Sean is progressing well. While Lucy still worries about the Cupid curse, she tries hard to make her relationship with Sean work. Actually, it was heart-warming to see Lucy and Sean together, because you have two persons that are not afraid of commitments and really want this to work out. Ms Webber throws in some conflict by bringing back Sean's ex-girlfriend. For once, I thought it worked out well, I really liked seeing Lucy fight for Sean :)

Once again, I think Ms Webber did a good job with the mystery thread in this book. The series so far has been pretty light and fluffy, but the cases are well thought out, developed and satisfying. I mean, this after all is contemporary romance, not romantic suspense, so don't go out expecting a gory murder case or for them to be the focus of the story. Still, they are worked into the storyline well and add to the book's entertainment value :)

My Grade: B+. To me, Deeply, Desperately is another winner. There was nothing that bothered me. I read it in one sitting with a huge smile on my face. It simply was fun and fluffy and I'm really looking forward to the third book, Absolutely, Positively :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How do you review?

I'm cleaning my room at the moment... which in other words mean that I'm picking up a lot of books LOL. It's actually a good thing, because I'm looking for my copy of Deeply, Desperately by Heather Webber to write my review, but so far no luck :(  The good news though is that I started thinking.. and you know me, I'm full of curiosity... so I thought up of a discussion topic which is the following:

How do you review your books?

Throughout the years, while I was conversing with other bloggers or reading their posts, I've learned of some people's habits. Some jot down notes as they read, marking pages and passages. Others have to write a review immediately after they've finished the book.

Me? I don't have a time limit when it comes to reviewing a book... I can do it the same day I've finished it or two, three months later. I don't take notes or write down page numbers or stick a post-it or a bookmark to mark passages or quotes. I simply sit in front of my computer, hands on the keyboard and type away... or stare at the screen and play games till I'm done writing. Ideally, I would finish a review in one sitting, but lately, it's rarely been the case. Finally, when I'm done, I'll usually read the review once to be sure that it makes sense and if I'm lucky, I'll catch a mistake or two and then I publish. I pretty much go with the flow which is probably why I have difficulty planning a schedule and save up some reviews for the future. I do have one quirk though and that is I need to have the book I'm reviewing next to me - it's like a security blanket. I like to have it so I can check the characters names, the spelling of the town or a particular scene I want to mention. I want to be sure that if I refer to a part of the book, I get it right... which is why I'm looking for my copy of Deeply, Desperately :P

So what about you? Any habits?

Hauling Sunday XII

Ugh, I just spent several hours this morning fighting with my computer. It seems like it's acting up again, grrr. I so don't want to re-format it, especially since it's only been a few months since I've done it. Seriously, I'm considering buying a new one if it gives me headaches again. Sigh.

Aside from that though, I've been feeling much better reading-wise and book-wise. My reading has definitively picked up this week, as I read the whole Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher - that is 6 books! Plus, there are some good new releases coming up :) Yes, feeling pretty good :)

Here is what I got this week:

Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews - I really fell in love with Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series. The last few books have been excellent. This is Ms Andrews other series, The Edge series. I thought On The Edge was okay... but I have high hopes for Bayou Moon, especially after Leslie's review :)

Venom by Jennifer Estep - Venom is the third book in the An Elemental Assassins series, which I thought at the beginning of the year had a lot of potential to become best new series of the year. So, are you wondering why I got this? :P

And that's it for this week. Amazing right? So far, I've only bought 7 books this month... Seven only! Of course, the month is not over yet and I could go crazy... but I don't think it's going to happen. I guess we'll find out next week :)

What about you guys? Got anything good this week? :P

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: Money Honey by Susan Sey

The week-end is almost here!! Woohoo! I can't wait for it... although no idea what I'm going to do during it. Okay, I know. The usual - read, eat and sleep... and procrastinate on cleaning my room. Isn't it great to have a routine? :P

Anyone has ever had a car's coolant leak? What are the signs or what should I look for? I've just received a warranty extension notice for engine overheats or leaks coolant... and I'm worried because I'm planning a road trip in a couple of weeks. I mean, I've seen my car leaking water when I put the cool air on for the feet, but I thought it was condensation or something. I use the cool air instead of AC. If it was a coolant leak, I guess I should see a gradual loss no? I know, I know. I probably worry for nothing, but... Ugh, why did I have to receive this letter?!?

Onto another subject, I was doing so well on reviews. What happened?!? Hopefully, I can back into the rhythm...

Money Honey by Susan Sey
published by Berkley in July 2010

FBI Agent Elizabeth Brynn has dedicated her life to her job, having earned her position through hard work and a firm belief in law and order. She played strictly by the book until she recruited a notorious jewel thief as an informant-a professional criminal who used his wicked ways to tempt her into something more personal...


Patrick O'Connor assisted the Feds for three years before going legit. Now a successful crime novelist, he wheels and deals his way around Hollywood, getting anything and everything he desires-except a certain federal agent who remained immune to his charms...


Cop and robber are unexpectedly reunited when Patrick agrees to go undercover to help bust a counterfeiter-but his true motive is to get Liz under the covers, and she's not sure she can keep her hands to herself this time...

Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Money series, Book #1

The Story: Patrick O'Connor used to be a jewel thief, till he gave it all up to save his little sister, Mara. In order to keep her out of jail, he agreed to become FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Brynn's snitch and worked for her for three years. He then went to Los Angeles to turn a new leaf and became a successful bestseller author... that doesn't mean he cut all his ties to his old world or doesn't have any more contacts...

Liz is working on a counterfeit case and suspect that someone is trying to launder the money through Brightwater's Casino which is own by Mara's husband. Then, Patrick suddenly re-appears and Liz doesn't know what to make of it. Can she trust him?

My Opinion: This is Ms Sey's debut novel and I thought she did a good job of it. I was first attracted to this book because of its cover - it looked fun - and then, the blurb sealed the deal :P What can I say? I love jewel thief characters! There's something about them that is so cool. It's hard to pinpoint, but it's a combination of their nonchalance, their aloofness, their wits... and you know what? Patrick O'Connor had it all! :)

So you probably figured out that I really liked Patrick O'Connor. He definitively made the book for me - of course, keep in mind that I love jewel thief :P Think Roarke, that whom he reminded me of. I liked his nonchalance and his aloofness and his wits, but even more, I liked his loyalty and his love for his sister. No matter how you look at it, he gave it all up for her. He appears vain, but it's just a facade. He's been raised in an environment where he couldn't show his true feelings and after all those years, he doesn't know how... and he's afraid of getting attached... but I thought he was so genuine. I loved, loved the scene where Patrick had to interact with his family, especially his toddler niece, Evie :)

On the other hand, I thought Liz was just okay. A bit too stuffy, a bit too stubborn to my tastes, the worst though was the wishy-washy attitude. She didn't know if she could trust him or not, if she should have sex with him or not... and I understand her situations, but at one point, please, stop thinking and just choose! Aside from that though, Liz wasn't too bad. It's just that she leads a very structured life and has difficulty stepping out of them. In that sense, I thought Ms Sey did a good job with the unusual background stories, it fit and really explained why Liz and Patrick were the way they are.

The romance worked well. There was a lot of sexual tension between Liz and Patrick, you know that both wanted each other, but were unsure. I liked that they didn't have sex at the first opportunity they could... that Patrick wanted her to really be sure and wanted her to really want him and not regret it. Liz lack of decisiveness did bother me at time and I would say, it cramped their chemistry, but overall, the romance was satisfying.

As for the rest of the book, well as Holly mentioned in her review, I did feel like I was missing something. Perhaps the book could have started with a "Six years ago" prologue, that would have definitively helped. Even better would have been Mara's own story - I would have liked to read that one. The story itself was quite interesting and I liked the idea. However, it was far from perfect and I think a lot had to do with the pacing. Patrick's motives, the villain's motives were revealed either too soon or too late. I think there should always be something a bit mysterious about jewel thief... and while Liz didn't know, the readers knew so that threw it off a little. Plus, the investigation process was a bit off. Still, like I said, it was an interesting case. It wouldn't work for romantic suspense, but for a contemporary romance, it did :)

My Grade: B. Money Honey was definitively a good first effort from Ms Sey. There were some flaws to it, but the good definitively overpowered it and made for an enjoyable. I think Ms Sey showed great potential with Money Honey and I will read her next book, Money Shot.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Review: A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh

Life is pretty quiet in my corner of the world. I'm trying to get back into a review rhythm again ^_^; My muse just comes and goes. I was so motivated this morning and then, I simply got busy and there it went... Muse was gone ^_^; Let's hope she stays long enough for me to complete this review :P

A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh
published by Vanguard Press in December 2009

Reginald Mason is wealthy, refined, and, by all accounts, a gentleman. However, he is not a gentleman by title, a factor that pains him and his father within the Regency society that upholds station over all else. That is, until an opportunity for social advancement arises, namely, Lady Annabelle Ashton. Daughter of the Earl of Havercroft, a neighbor and enemy of the Mason family, Annabelle finds herself disgraced by a scandal, one that has left her branded as damaged goods. Besmirched by shame, the earl is only too happy to marry Annabelle off to anyone willing to have her.

Though Reginald Mason, Senior, wishes to use Annabelle to propel his family up the social ladder, his son does not wish to marry her, preferring instead to live the wild, single life he is accustomed to. With this, Reginald Senior serves his son an ultimatum: marry Annabelle, or make do without family funds. Having no choice, Reginald consents, and enters into a hostile engagement in which the prospective bride and groom are openly antagonistic, each one resenting the other for their current state of affairs while their respective fathers revel in their suffering.

Genre: Historical romance
Series: None

My Story: I'm not going to summarize this book, because LOL, I don't think I can do better than the blurb and there's also a twist that I don't want to give away :P

My Opinion: I've read Ms Balogh before and while I don't dislike her style, I don't love it either. I'm pretty neutral towards her and as a result, I don't actively seek her books. However, A Matter of Class was an exception. A Matter of Class got excellent reviews from Hilcia, Leslie and Christine and thus, I was very curious about it... Wouldn't you be?

A Matter of Class is about two persons who meet and learn to know each other, each encounter building up the relationship. The story is simple, but does contain a little interesting twist. I think Ms Balogh did a good job at foreshadowing it and while readers are not totally surprised at the end; I thought it was very clever. Annabelle and Reggie are two likable characters. I think the best way to describe them would be mature and that is a nice change for once LOL. Actually, I think what made them stand out the most is that despite their wealth and rank, or lack of rank, Annabelle and Reggie were two regular persons who found themselves in a difficult situation and tried their best to work it out... and not only for themselves, but also for the harmony and peace of their families. And that's where the charm of this book lies in - the characters. There were no martyrs, no angst, no dark secrets, no tomboy-ish heroines, no rake-ish heroes... Simply two persons with strong minds and resolve and I thought they were inspiring. I also really liked how they cared about their families and you could see that their family happiness was important, but not at the expense of their own. Both tried their hardest to get things right. Everything is then backed up by Ms Balogh's writing and voice. In fact, its simplicity complements the storyline and characters very well. I think it defined the mood for the readers, pulled them in the story.

My only complaint is that A Matter of Class was too short. I would have loved to read more about Annabelle and Reggie :P

Grade: B+. Short review for a short book, but don't be mistaken. A Matter of Class was a very enjoyable read and definitively lived up to its buzz :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hauling Sunday XI

Hi everyone :) How are you doing all? Things are quiet in my little corner of the world and it's going to get lonely as I have many friends going away on trips :( Too bad I have to save money for RWA, otherwise, I'd be going with them to China for two weeks...

That said, my saving is not working very well. Been spending way too much on food lately... Definitively going to have to cut back on that :( Good news is that there are so little new releases that at least, I'm saving on books... Actually, I don't know if it's a good thing or not ^_^; It depresses me that there are so little releases. I did my list for the rest of the year, October to December, and OMG. I don't know how I'm going to go through it. November is the only month that is bountiful and I have nothing, NOTHING for December!!!

Okay, let's not think of it now. This week, I was quite a good girl and only bought two books. Yes, only two. Hey, it's better than last week with zero :P

Warrior by Zoe Archer - I finally broke down and bought it. First, because Wendy enjoyed it :) and second, if I enjoy it, that means I have something to buy for the next 3 months! Not bad, right? LOL.

Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie - It finally made it in Canada. No idea what was the delay, but it doesn't matter. People have enjoyed it and I hope I will too :)

And that's it for my Hauling Sunday this week :) You have to admit that I'm being a good girl... and I have been reading from my TBR pile. I guess there are pros for few new releases....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

TBR Day: Homeplace by JoAnn Ross

It seems I'm back to a period of my life where I cannot accomplish anything on time ^_^; Sigh, that is really not a good sign. Time to put a bit of order in my life again I guess it means. However, I'm not giving up! LOL.

So yesterday was TBR Day. Although I had a book read, I just didn't realize it was TBR Day until I read Wendy's review. Also, I realized lately that I cannot do like before: blog-hop and blog in the same day... it's either one or the other ^_^; Sad no? Never thought I'd age that fast! LOL.

Okay, hopefully, I'll be able to complete this review and it will all make sense.

Homeplace by JoAnn Ross
published by Simon & Schuster in March 1999
Fighting legal battles eighty hours a week has left Raine Cantrell burned out and empty. Although she once dreamed that success might make the father who walked away without a backward glance take notice, the high-powered big-city lawyer now finds herself feeling very alone. Then she gets an urgent call from three kids in trouble in her Washington state hometown, and suddenly Raine is returning to face unresolved feelings, unhealed wounds -- and an unexpected desire.

Sheriff Jack O'Halloran, a man with a tragedy in his past and a six-year-old daughter to raise alone, has three teens barricaded inside a house and the media clamoring for a story. He isn't ready for Raine to invade his territory -- or his thoughts. And Raine isn't ready for anyone to touch her heart.

Unable to deny their attraction to each other, their solution is adult, reasonable -- and totally foolish. They decide to have a simple affair. But they are about to discover that love is rarely simple -- and that lives can change forever in a single heartbeat.

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Coldwater Cove, Book #1

The Story: Raine Cantrell is a successful lawyer in New York City. She's work hard, has recently closed a very high profile case and is about to make partner. Then, she gets a phone call from a young girl informing Raine that her grandmother has been admitted to the hospital... Worst is her grandmother's three foster protegees have barricaded themselves in the house, calling attention of Sheriff O'Halloran and the surrounding counties sheriffs and deputies. Raine has no choice then coming back home to take care of the trouble, as they cannot count on Raine's free-spirited mother.

Returning home, Raine has mixed feelings. Her relationship with her mother has never been good and all these years, she's been working hard, trying to gain her father's approval. However, seeing the situation of the three troublesome young ladies her grandmother has taken in, Raine realized that she was lucky because she always had at least someone there when she needed. As time goes by, Raine re-acquaints herself with Coldwater Cove and she starts to wonder if she's really happy. Least but not all, there is Sheriff Jack O'Halloran and his adorable little daughter...

My Opinion: Recently, I've been having a lot of difficutly knowing what to read. I thought of buying Ms Ross' new release, The Homecoming as Holly and Lori have enjoyed it a lot... However, I wasn't totally convinced. Then I remembered I had Homeplace at home and settled on this book instead :)

Ms Ross is an author that I read on and off :) I think my enjoyment of her books really depend on my mood ^_^; And this time, it was a miss. Part of the reason was the book itself, but the main reason I think is because I've been reading a lot of books with the successful heroine coming back to small hometown storyline - Almost Perfect by Susan Mallery and Burning Up by Susan Andersen - and this one was just okay in comparison...

I have to admit, Raine was part of my problem with this book. Basically, she just annoyed me. In many instances, she jumped to conclusions and I don't know if it's because she's a lawyer or something, but she was always thinking the worst of things. I don't like this kind of characters. I wonder if it's because it's opposite to my personality ^_^; Also, there was the fact she loved her grandmother and realized that she was aging and growing frail, but whenever her grandmother asked her for a favor, Raine would find excuses. Oh, they were good excuses and made sense, but at the same time, Raine didn't find ways to help out. As a result, it felt like her words and feelings were empty. As a whole though, Raine's character wasn't bad. She just didn't stand out for me.

Jack O'Halloran was a more interesting character. He's a jock and bad boy turned into an authority figure. He married the love of his life and adopted a daughter, but unfortunately, his wife passed away from cancer. Now, he tries his best to raise his daughter. Jack was a good guy, level-headed. Willing to help and thoughtful. I liked seeing the bonds between him and his daughter, Amy. You can see that he's trying very hard. My favorite part was him taking care of Amy's electronic toy - kind of like a Tamaguchi. You know those little toys you had to feed, play and take care of for it to grow :)

The relationship was okay. Basically, Jack and Raine are attracted with each other and once everything is over with Raine's grandmother and the three young girls, there's no real obstacle for Jack and Raine to be together. No problem either from Amy as she's longing for her a mother. The only trouble in paradise for both of them is that Raine lives in New York, but that's taken care of easily.

What stood out for me in Homeplace was the reasons why Raine left. She didn't have any troubles with the town and people treated her nicely. Instead, it stems from her childhood and issues with her mother. Raine's mother is a free-spirit and a flake. She would often abandon her daughters to their grandmother and I guess Raine has abandonment issues... as a result, she's seeking her father - her lawyer shark in Hollywood - for approval. I thought that was nice that the problems were more internal than the small minds of a town. I'm also glad that she was able to work things out with her mother.

There was actually a lot going on in this book. There was a secondary story with Raine's mother and her first love. The three young girls that her grandmother took in. I think it was a bit too much. Ms Ross took many familiar storylines/plot devices and put them together to create Homeplace... However, nothing really had enough development and was a bit too typical.

All in all, my only real quibble with Homeplace was Raine's personality and that was pretty minor. As for the rest, well everything went as expected, but nothing exceeded the expectations ^_^;

My Grade: C.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monthly reads: August 2010

Once again, I'm late with my Monthly Reads post and once again, there is no Hauling Sunday, so instead you get this LOL. I think I'm starting to see a pattern ^_^; Seriously though, I'm bored out of my mind... The most surprising is that I didn't even go to the bookstore last week. I know, shocking! My hands are itching to buy some books, but the issue is... Where are the new releases?!?!? If you know, please tell me! LOL. I guess the good thing is that I'm not spending money... that's the only upside. Actually, no, there's another one. Care to guess? Makes me pick up books in my TBR pile. Maybe. LOL.
So, am I the only one having the same problem? I hope not! Anyway, onto my monthly reads list :) August wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. I'm having difficulty figuring out what I want to read and reading steadily :( and September seems to be going on the same trend. It usually helps when they are new releases... but yeah, it all comes back to: Where are the new releases?!?!? Vicious circle, I'm telling you :P

1) Hot Finish by Erin McCarthy: C+/B-

This is the long awaited book in the Fast Track series by Ms McCarthy. I think that everyone has been looking forward to Suzanne and Ryder's book; however, I have to admit I was disappointed. The story is basically Suzanne having to give up her charity work and go back to her previous job - wedding planner. She's organizing a Nascar driver's wedding and not only is the bride a Bridezilla, but her ex-husband is the best man. Then, she finds out that she and Ryder are not really divorced - Ryder having failed to appear in court. Suzanne is understandably pissed and wants to proceed as fast as possible to get the divorce... However, Ryder finds out that it's not what he wants...

Hot Finish was the story of two persons that love each other, but sometime, love is not enough. As a book, it was extremely hot - Suzanne and Ryder sure have chemistry - but that was the problem ^_^; Too much sex and not enough story for me. Oh, we are given the reasons why Suzanne and Ryder got married, why they divorce and the problem to their marriage: lack of communication. I wished though everything was a bit more developed, that they worked it out a little bit more so the story had more substance to it. I liked the fact that Ryder has always known that Suzanne was the woman he loved, the woman he wanted... but she wanted a divorce and he also respected that. It would have been great to see Ryder fight for Suzanne a bit more than just go along with her decisions. As for Suzanne, she was a bit of a roller-coaster with her emotions. Definitively not over Ryder and not over the circumstances of their marriage and divorce. I think has Ryder fought for Suzanne more, she would have been more confident.

All in all, Hot Finish was a fast read, but I expected more from this book.

2) Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols: B-

Given some circumstances in her life, all Meg wants is to feel alive and that leads her to some bad behavior. Her latest stunt is making out on the railroad tracks where it's rumored that a teenage couple lost their lives years. Unfortunately for her, she is caught by a young cop, John After, who patrols the place regularly. As a punishment, not only Meg can't go on the spring break trip, but she has to spend time patrolling with John, see another side of life...

Going Too Far is very different from what I had previously read by Ms Echols, but different in a good way. I really liked John After's character. He's a nice guy that cares and that's why he decided to become a cop, although he might have a bright future in arts. Given his past though, it's understandable why he's so obsessed and motivated. Still, there is anger in him, there is a lot of emotions bottled up. I can't imagine how hard it was for him to see all his friends move on to college while he stayed back. As for Meg, it was more difficult to like her. Her attitude was too rebellious for me to bond; however, it made perfect sense once the readers find out what she's gone through. I didn't like when Meg pushed John's buttons, but at least, our cop didn't take it passively and pushed back. I enjoyed discovering Meg and John characters and seeing their relationship begin. I did want more though at the end.

3) Here There Be Monsters (Burning Up) by Meljean Brook: B-
Upcoming review.

4) Dark Deceptions by Dee Davis: B

Nash Brennon and Annie Gallagher were CIA agents working together in Europe as well as lovers. After an operation gone wrong in Middle East, Annie dropped off the earth while Nash went on to A-Tac, an elite CIA unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college.

Annie thought her CIA life was behind her - that was till some terrorists kidnapped her son. Now, in order to rescue her son, Annie has no choice but to take down an UN ambassador. Fortunately, she is stopped by A-Tac and Nash. Eight years have gone by... can she trust Nash with her son's life? Can Nash trust her?

I was in the mood for romantic supsense and therefore picked up this trilogy by Ms Davis, mainly because it was published by Grand Central Publishing. Dark Deceptions turned out to be an enjoyable read. I enjoyed Ms Davis' writing and liked the relationship between Nash and Annie. It's funny how some men can be so obtuse and dense when it comes to love. Did Nash love Annie eight years ago? I believed yes. Did he recognize the feeling? Nope. He trusted Annie with his life, was her lover, but thought the passion was due to the moment they lived in. Meanwhile, Annie was in love with Nash and was crushed the feeling wasn't returned... it made her wonder if she could trust Nash with more than her life. I liked the fact that when the time came for Nash and Annie's confrontation about their past, Nash understood Annie's motives and realized that he was responsible.

The suspense was okay. The problem with CIA agents storyline is that so often, the operatives are screwed by their superiors or other agents. That makes the storyline a bit too predictable at times, especially given that Annie and Nash are the H/H. I mean, neither are bad, neither have betrayed each other or their country, right? So that means a third person did and there was only one person from their past. It's like connecting the dots in a straight line. Also, I have difficulty believing that A-Tac agents would moonlight as college professors... but then, I watched Chuck LOL and I guess it is possible :)

So enjoyable book with great H/H, a good conflict between them and overall story arc. However, I don't know, perhaps it's the CIA aspect, but I haven't rushed to pick up the next two books to read (I have them though in my TBR pile).

5) Deadly Fear by Cynthia Eden: B

FBI Special Agent Monica Davenport is one of the best profiler there is in the business. She understands how dark and twisted minds work, perhaps because she faced one a long time ago. Back then, her name was Mary Jane Hill and she was kept prisoner by the serial killer they called Romeo. However, she survived and made a life for herself, a career. However, everything she built is threatened by Lucas Dante, a fellow FBI Special Agent whom she had an affair with when she was training in Quantico, because he made her feel more than she should. Now Lucas is joining her unit, the SSD - Serial Services Division, an unit specialized to tracking down serial killer... worst, they have to work together on this new case. What Monica doesn't realize is that she isn't only in danger from Lucas, but from this new serial killer as well.

I picked up this book while I was still in the mood for romantic suspense, plus I've been wanting to try Ms Eden's writing so it worked out well for me :) I thought Deadly Fear was an okay to good book. I liked Monica and Lucas characters and their relationship. I was a bit surprised that Lucas pushed for a relationship again so fast. I mean, they've just met again after 10 years. I understood that he wanted to understand why their relationship ended so abruptly in the past... but dude, you guys have been working together for about an hour! Give it a bit of time ^_^;

While I enjoyed Deadly Fear, I had two little issues... and they can be big depending on the reader. The first problem was Deadly Fear reminded me of The Search by Nora Roberts as in the current serial killer is in contact with the previous one, obtaining advices and information. Oh, the storylines and characters are totally different, but it echoes ^_^; My second problem was that I'm getting tired of serial killers whose kills are based on fear. It's starting to be a common fashion both in books and on tv series and it's one that you can tired of fast... and I think that's what happened with me.

Still, I enjoyed Deadly Fear and Ms Eden's writing. I think that the unit shows promises and the blurb for the two next books in the series sound interesting :)

6) The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan: B+
Buddy review coming up with Hilcia at Breezing Through

7) Shadows at Midnight by Elizabeth Jennings: B

Claire Day never imagined her life would take such a turn. Working as Defense Intelligence Agency analyst at the US Embassy in Laka, Africa, she found herself trapped in the Embassy on Thanksgiving with only Marine Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Weston when the Red Army staged an attack. One year later, the confident Claire is gone and what remains is a shell. She spent three months in a coma and when she woke up, she couldn't remember anything that has happened that day, found out that her best friend had died and somehow, she was involved, suffer from nightmares and anxiety. However, when she sees Dan on TV after an heroic act, Claire becomes curious and wants to find out what happened... and thus, sets out to find Dan.

Dan has had a hellish year as well. He was injured during the attack and had to be discharged from the Marine. The worst though is that he believed all this time that Claire had died that day. When she appears in front of him, he cannot believe it and is determined not to waste this opportunity. He quickly finds out though that he'll have to work hard at it, because someones wants Claire dead.

Okay, sorry, my little synopsis sucks ^_^; However, I don't know how to word it better, so you're stuck with it :) I enjoyed Shadows at Midnight a lot because I felt it was different, what with Claire and Dan having work oversea. I have to admit, the setting and situation are what made this book stands out so much for me. Also, the H/H were great in this book. You have Claire, dealing with so much, re-acquainting herself with the world. She was incredibly strong and that was really important. Dan was extremely sweet and alpha-ish. He had a crush on Claire and wanted to pursue her, but then the bombing happened. Now that he knows Claire is alive, he wants her as his. I loved the way he took care of her - not just protecting, but the small things as well: feeding her, making sure she felt safe or comfortable. He was definitively a winner! The only thing that bothered me with Daniel's character was his lust ^_^; I mean, sure, he is a healthy man and he's been celibate for a year because he's been mourning Claire and well, she turns him on. I got it and well, I'm pretty sure Claire caught on very quickly. I just thought that the number of times it was repeated was distracting.

As for the suspense, it was well done... but at times, I couldn't help but thing it was a bit over the top. The villain didn't seem so smart and was actually quite immature at time ^_^; Perhaps if we had less of his POV, it would have been even more suspenseful? Still, the story flowed well and was enjoyable. What can I ask for more? :P

8) Deeply, Desperately by Heather Webber: B+
Upcoming review.

9) Finding Perfect by Susan Mallery: C+

10) And One Last Thing... by Molly Harper: B+
Upcoming review.

11) Homeplace by JoAnn Ross: C
Upcoming review.

12) A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh: B+
Upcoming review.

13) One Scream Away by Kate Brady: C+/B-
Upcoming review.

14) Love Me if you Dare by Carly Phillips: B-

Rafe Mancuso and Sara Rios used to be partners, until Rafe asked for a transfer because the chemistry between them was sizzling and would have led to an affair. At that time, Rafe was engaged and didn't want to be like his father and cheated on his fiancée. However, the engagement didn't work out and now, Rafe finds himself the new feature on the Bachelor Blog after saving Sara's life during a charity auction. The rescue came at a price though as Rafe was shot - that combined with being the newest most eligible bachelor of NYC force Rafe to go back to his hometown for some quiet time.

Meanwhile, Sara was also injured during the rescue and her injury might jeopardize her career. However, Sara has other worries, such as being the key witness to a case where the defendant has all but publicly announced he would get rid of Sara before the trial. Thus, Sara needs to keep a low profile and decide to ask Rafe for help. Soon, Sara and Rafe find themselves exploring their chemistry and nothing stands between them... except for Sara's belief that she cannot do long-term relationship.

Love Me if you Dare is a nice contemporary romance and was exactly what I needed when I picked it up. Rafe and Sara were two nice characters. I liked that the roles were reversed and that Rafe was the one who was ready to get married and settle down while Sara is the one who didn't believe in long-term relationship - at least, not for cops. Having seen everyone in your family be a cop and get divorced will do that to you. I think that Rafe and Sara's background and how they were raised really reflected their beliefs. I thought Rafe and Sara had a very nice chemistry and knew each other pretty well... However, I thought they could have worked it out better instead of just wanting to impose their beliefs on each other. I thought it was a bit unreasonable for Rafe to be so pissed off when Sara said they were friends with benefits. I mean, Rafe knows that Sara has commitment issues and when they started their relationship, neither knew where it would lead. Of course, I have no relationship experience so perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about... but I mean, Rafe could have just let it go, let their relationship strengthen and then, win her over. The story took place over one or two weeks - perhaps that's too quick to have someone changes her mind, even though you know the two of you are made for each other ^_^; Also, Sara's behavior at the end was really disappointing to me. Even though you don't do long-term, you still have something with the guy... You don't walk out on him after sex without telling him something!! I was aghast when she just up and left because her captain called her back to testify! Seriously? No goodbye, no thank you for taking care of me, for letting me stay? Rafe had serious reasons to be pissed! Still, I like Rafe and Sara's interactions LOL. I thought the pacing and balance in Love Me if You Dare was better done than Kiss Me if you Can. There is a little mystery that is both funny and light LOL. However, I admit I could have done without Rafe's brother's marital problems. In the end, Love Me if you Dare was a fun book to read.

*Re-read: Visions in Death by J.D. Robb

Books bought: +14
Books read: -13.25
TBR pile: +0.75

Okay, I tried to keep it short, but mid-way through Dark Deceptions, I figured out it was a losing battle LOL. I just can't keep it short and simple ^_^; Not my style. Perhaps if I did it in point form or good vs bad. What do you think?

And I'm still confused when it comes to re-read... Do I count them or not? But then, they're not in my TBR pile to start with, so I guess not... Too bad though cos otherwise, it'd be in the - and not +. Sigh, confusing LOL. Anyway, 13.25 books is not bad... but it could be better. How to do so though, that is the question :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Interesting giveaways... and interesting blogs!?

Happy Friday everyone! In a few hours, the week-end will start :D Woohoo!! Seriously, I can't wait LOL. The workload has been pretty decent recently, but I feel like a machine... Doing the same over and over with a scary efficiency ^_^;

I've just finished The Grimrose Path by Rob Thurman. Great book, but it took me nearly a week to read. I just don't get why Ms Thurman's books always take me time to read ^_^; Anyway, have yet to pick up my next read. Any recommendation?

Okay, enough with the chit-chat :) I've actually wanted to draw your attention to two giveaways taking place right at this moment :)

First, Tabitha from Tabz Book Blog — just another readeraholic... just had her first blogniversary! Woohoo, congrats Tabz!! And as celebration, she's having a giveaway :) Take a look, there's some good books in there :) Of course, you should also take a look at her blog. She hasn't blogged much recently, but I'm hoping that work will slow down and wedding madness will fade eventually and she'll be back with us! :)

Second, Mollie from Book Fare Delights is also having a giveaway :) Different circumstances though. Mollie had the chance of going to Jennifer Crusie's signing and thought of us! She has one signed copy of Maybe This Time to giveaway! How cool is that? I'm still waiting for Maybe This Time to arrive in-store, ugh. However, I'm happy that she enjoyed it :)

I was going to start another post for this, but why not combine them, right? Today's discussion topic is:  
What are you looking for in a blog?

Every once in a while, I go out there in the vast and immense place that is blogland and I look for new blogs to follow. I visit a few, add a few to my sidebars and my feeds and sometimes, me and these new blogs click and other time, we don't. I'm actually very picky when it comes to finding new blogs. I'm looking for blogs which are updated frequently, have a nice design/layout (actually, the most important for me is your post area. I hate it when it's too narrow ^_^; ) and whose owner reply to comments that are left. Then of course, afterward, it comes down the blogger's personality, but that takes time to find out. What about you? What are you looking for?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Review: Burning Up by Susan Andersen

Don't you hate it when real life interfere with your blogging? First there was the long week-end, then a dinner with friends yesterday. Of course, there's always work and today, a bit of nausea. Bleh. I have no idea why I feel nauseous, all I know is the feeling has come and gone today. The weirdest thing is I'm super hungry though.

Anyway, I don't want to let a day pass without a post and since I have nothing interesting to say, let's review :) Hopefully, this will turn out to be a decent review.

Disclaimer: I've received Burning Up as an eARC from NetGalley

Burning Up by Susan Andersen
published by HQN Books in August 2010

She's so good at being bad

Though it's been years since the infamous Macy O'James stepped foot in Sugarville, Washington, everyone remembers what she supposedly did. The tiny town is still buzzing about her crime and lack of punishment.

Now back to lend her family a hand, Macy vows to hold her head high-especially at her high school reunion. But forget about the hottest man in Sugarville escorting her. Though she and fire chief Gabriel Donovan generate enough sparks to burn down the town, he's a law-abiding, line-toeing straight arrow. So not her type.

But maybe-just maybe-he can change her mind about that.

Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: None

The Story: Macy's mother has the traveling bug and so when she was growing up, she moved around a lot. Lucky for her, her aunt Lenore stepped in when Macy started high school. Macy moved in with them for more stability and was thick as thieves with her cousin Janna. Unfortunately for Macy, life was far from perfect as she refused to do it with the most popular guy in school who went around and spread nasty rumors. Since Macy couldn't beat the rumors, she decided to play them up.

Now Macy is coming back to her hometown in order to take care of Janna who was victim of a hit and run and Janna's son, Tyler. Nobody has forgotten the rumors nor the car accident that took away the promising future of three football players, but it does not matter to Macy because her family needs her. Also, why not give them what they expect?

Then she meets Gabriel Donovan, the fire chief and also boarder at her aunt Lenore and uncle Bud's house. Attraction flares between the two, but Gabriel is determined to ignore it. He left his bad boy years behind him for good a long time ago and all he wants now is a peaceful life. However, with Macy in town and a series of arson fires, what he wants and what he gets are two different things...

My Opinion: In the note to the readers at the beginning of the book, Ms Andersen mentioned that the past year has been taxing and all she wanted with Burning Up was to have fun. Well mission accomplished Ms Andersen :) While Burning Up was far from being the perfect book, I had tons of fun reading it and most of it is attributed to her heroine, Macy O'James :)

Macy was a great heroine and stole the show for me. She's built a life for herself and is proud of what she's accomplished. So what if she sold her sex appeal in music videos? She did nothing to be ashamed of and is now starting a career at making said music videos. I liked that she was strong and confident, but at the same time, was not invincible. Playing up the rumors back then might not have been the wisest and she knows that nobody has forgotten her transgression back then. However, what's done is done and what matters is that her family needs her. So Macy braves her discomfort and comes back home with all her costumes that she uses as armors to protect herself. Macy is vulnerable, but she puts on a strong and solid front and doesn't want anyone to pick up on it. Her way of protecting herself was to provoke people because while they were busy discussing the superficial, they didn't have time to look at her inner core. Macy was definitively a complex character and she's not wrong at protecting herself. I liked the fact though that didn't use her past as a crutch and got stubborn about it. It's just the way it was and she accepted it.

In comparison, I thought Gabriel was a bit two-dimensional and not as interesting. His wishy-washy attitude towards Macy was annoying. Be a man, be more decisive - if you want Macy, then go after her! And he eventually did which makes him no so bad LOL. You cannot dismiss chemistry in a relationship. It's either present or not and if it's not, you should question its absence. I understand Gabriel didn't want to go back to those destructive years... however, different circumstances lead to different outcomes. In that sense, I felt that Gabriel was too rigid at time. Of course, he does redeem himself and Macy and Gabriel together are a hot item :) I did think that he was a bit harsh with her at the end though, when he asked her to stop with her costumes. He knew why, but didn't completely understand Macy's feelings and motivations behind it and so, I thought he could have tried harder.

The story was fun and focused mainly on Gabriel and Macy's relationship which is always a good thing :) The mystery aspect with the arson cases was okay. It was interesting to see Gabriel in his element, do his job... but I think it could have been integrated in the storyline better. Lots of people brought up the secondary characters romance and how they enjoyed it. For me, it didn't work out so well. I thought it was a bit too rushed and wasn't really interested ^_^; I do hope though that Janna is going to get her own book. That I would definitively read.

All in all, this book is the story of a woman coming back to her hometown because of family and reluctant to stay due to nasty rumors and the people's attitude. In that sense, it reminded me a lot of Almost Perfect by Susan Mallery, and so did the resolution - the heroine finding out that a lot of people are actually nice and don't care about the past. However, that's where the similarities end. Burning Up is its own book with its own set of interesting H/H. The pacing and writing plus its characters turn this book into a quick read and because it's so fun, you're able to overlook its flaws. Burning Up turned out to be a very enjoyable read to me with some nice twists and surprises along the way :)

My Grade: B.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Hauling Sunday X

Arrghhhh... I'm late again this week! However, it's a long week-end and so, today should be considered Sunday, right? LOL. Or, I could rename this Hauling Xday. Hmmm, something to consider.

So, how was everyone's Labor Day week-end? Mine was okay-ish. Met some friends on Saturday, then came home early; however, I read till 3.30am. Woke up at 9am, ate lunch at 4pm after some grocery shopping and errands. By the time I ate, I had a killer headache ^_^; To get rid of the headache, I slept which is why my post is late ^_^; It kind of ruined my week-end, which is why it was only so-so. Today, I cleaned a bit, played the Wii a bit, read a bit and watch a bit of TV. Everything in moderation, LOL.

Now, let see what I bought last week :)

The Grimrose Path by Rob Thurman - LOL, need I say anything about this book except two words: Rob Thurman. This is her other series, Trickster, which takes place in the same world, but in a different city with different characters. However, it seems there's a small cross-over as I spot the name Ishiah!!!

My Lord Scandal by Emma Wildes - I read Lessons from a Scarlet Lady and enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to read more of her work :) By the way, something I didn't know: this is the first book in a trilogy and the three books will be back-to-back releases :) Cool!

Cold Magic by Kate Elliot Kmont has just reviewed this book last week and gave it a very good grade. Plus, this is a steampunk fantasy and I've been wanting to read more of this genre :)

One book that I was expecting to add to this haul was Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie, but it still hasn't arrived! I don't get it... especially since bookstores have received their stock of  No Mercy by Sherrilyn Kenyon which is coming tomorrow. Weird, no?

What about you? Was it a good week?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Review: Finding Perfect by Susan Mallery

Disclaimer: I've received Finding Perfect as an eARC from NetGalley

Finding Perfect by Susan Mallery
published by HQN Books in August 2010
When Pia O’Brian’s best friend dies, Pia expects to inherit her cherished cat. Instead, the woman leaves Pia three frozen embryos. With a disastrous track record in the romance department and the parenting skills of a hamster, Pia doesn’t think she’s meant for motherhood. But determined to do the right thing, Pia decides to become a single mother. Only to meet a gorgeous, sexy hunk the very same day.

A former foster-care kid now rich beyond his wildest dreams, Raoul Moreno runs a camp for needy children in Fool’s Gold, California. After his last relationship, Raoul thought he was done with women and commitment. Still, he can’t get sweet, sexy Pia out of his mind — and proposes a crazy plan. But can such an unconventional beginning really result in the perfect ending?
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Fool's Gold series, Book #3

The Story: Finding Perfect starts off with Pia discovering that instead of inheriting Crystal's cat, Jake, like she expected, she got Crystal's three frozen embryos. To say it's a shock is an understatement and it leaves Pia in a difficult situation. Pia has serious doubts about her abilities as a mother, but at the same time, these embryos are Crystal's children and she can't ignore that. In the end, Pia decides to go ahead with the procedure and lucky for her, she has Raoul Moreno - talk, dark and handsome retired football player.

Raoul longs for children, but after his failed marriage, is wary of being in love. Seeing Pia's predicament, Raoul first proposes to be her "pregnancy buddy," but later offers her a marriage of convenience where he'll be able to help her take care of the babies. Knowing that she'll need all the help, Pia accepts... but what happens when love is involved?

My Opinion: When I read the blurb of Finding Perfect, I was very wary of the plotline. I wasn't sure I really wanted to read the story of a woman who inherited frozen embryos, of all things ^_^; In the end, I decided to give Finding Perfect a chance because of a few factors: 1) curiosity - I wondered how Ms Mallery would pull this off, 2) I really enjoyed Almost Perfect and 3) Raoul Moreno. Raoul was a great teenager in Sweet Spot and I wanted to see what a great man he became.

Overall, I thought that Finding Perfect was a bag of mixed results. The writing was good and the characters were likable, although perhaps a bit two-dimensional. There were also some comical moments, what with the sudden influx of men and the women of Fool's Gold putting up a talent show to impress them ^_^; What didn't really work with me though was the whole frozen embryos plotline. The idea of leaving someone her frozen embryos is very unusual, but it wasn't a bad one per se. In vitro fertilization is a contemporary subject and has become more and more common and is somewhat connected to romance. What I didn't really like was the circumstances.

Seriously, we've read books where the heroine or hero was named guardian for kids without warning and that was pretty bad. Leaving your frozen embryos to someone without telling her is WAY WORST!! I know that Crystal had faith in Pia and believed she would be a good mother and so did everyone else. However, it doesn't change the fact that she put Pia in a very difficult situation. Pia finds herself with embryos - the last remnants - of her friend. If she has the babies, it'll be a part of Crystal coming back to life... if she doesn't, she'll be the one responsible for it... It's a horrible situation to be in, especially when you never really considered motherhood. I thought that Crystal was incredibly selfish and took advantages of Pia's goodness. If at least, she had discussed it with Pia, prepared her for it... but no, this is all dump on Pia and she doesn't really have anyone to talk to. Everyone around her are all so happy - easy for them, they're not in the situation.

This leads me to something I thought very unbelievable. I was totally surprised that it took Pia less than a month to come to her decision and get the implantation. Really? She still has doubts about motherhood and even with Raoul's offer of help - which at first, was only to be her "pregnancy buddy," it will change her entire life as it is... and she just goes ahead, just like that. Also, we're not talking about one baby, but the possibility of triplets!! There was no hurry for Pia - Crystal paid for storage for three years. I would think a woman faced with this situation would take her time, starts changing her life before doing something so big... As a result, I don't think it was very believable :( The reason that was given for Pia acting so fast is so she wouldn't change her mind.... but this is so big. It's true that, would Pia has taken more time, she would still probably have gone ahead with the procedure, still. In the end though, what bothered me the most is that Pia kept referring to the babies as "Crystal's children." Lady, you're going to give birth to them!!! True, they'll have Crystal's DNA... but they'll be much more your children than Crystal's!

There was another thing in Finding Perfect that didn't make sense to me and that is the side story. In the side story, Raoul befriends a little boy who's in foster care and Raoul suspects the boy is being abused. In the end, we find out that he's not abused, but neglected. Raoul successfully gets him out of that foster home and everyone expects Raoul to take in the little boy, but Raoul refuses, saying that it was never his intention... All he wanted was to be sure the little boy was safe. This part totally puzzles me. I mean, Raoul was a foster kid who was lucky to be taken in by his high school football coach, Hawk. Nowadays, he tours school and talk to kids about motivation and tells them that what changed his life was Hawk becoming his mentor and if they can, to find one. Also, add the fact that Raoul wants kids and he doesn't care whether they're his or not - I mean, he's ready to adopt Pia's, right? So, why did he turn down the little boy?!? He didn't have to adopt him - he could just have taken him in. Raoul knows what it is to be a foster kid and finding someone who cares for him... He went through it and here, he can do it for a little boy. It's not much different taking a little boy in then taking responsibility for 3 newborns! Or is it only me?

Okay, so aside from those two issues, the book was okay. Like I mentioned earlier, Pia and Raoul were likable characters... although, I thought they were a bit under-developed. I didn't really get a sense of who Pia and Raoul really were. Pia is the busy bee in Fool's Gold, in charge of one event after another. She works hard at it and is very nice and sociable. She has a pretty bad past and I guess, it is meant to showcase her strength and determination. However, I'm not sure such a past was really necessary. Ah well. As for Raoul, I don't know. I feel we missed a huge chunk of his life, actually the most important years of his life. The transition from what we knew and what he became were just words, I didn't feel the connection. Same thing with Hawk and Nicole, the H/H of Sweet Spot, when they visited him. I guess I just expected a bit more connection to Sweet Spot, more mention of his past, more ties... instead of just stating facts.

Finally, there is a lot going on in Finding Perfect with the frozen embryos and the side story and it kind of overshadows the romance. I didn't really feel the chemistry between Pia and Raoul :( The romance was really fast and I'm not sure they really got to know each other. Attraction, yes. Lust, yes. Love, not sure. It also doesn't help the romance that the conflict is the same as the two previous books - marriage proposal without love.

My Grade: From this review, it's obvious that I had issues with Finding Perfect; however, it doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy it. I thought Finding Perfect was quite interesting with the moral question it brought up. I liked the feel of it. I've read books by Ms Mallery where I was so frustrated by the characters that it left a bad taste in my mouth... However, Finding Perfect was nice. I also enjoyed the side story, I liked seeing Raoul interact with the little boy. So really, Finding Perfect was not a perfect read, but not a complete disaster either. It gets a C+ for me.