Sunday, May 31, 2015

Review: Part Time Cowboy by Maisey Yates

I was hesitant about reading this book.  I tend to want to read anything written by Maisey Yates - but on the other hand, I don't really like cowboys or small town romances.  I grew up in a small town, around cowboys, and as a result of that constant exposure, I don't like either.  So why read about things I don't like?

But still, I was curious about the story, I was intrigued by quotes and photos and even a theme song to go along with the book.

First chapter, I was convinced I wouldn't like the book.  Why would someone return to a small town they disliked, especially when they had no family there or any reason they had to return?  Sadie was going back to a place full of terrible memories by choice?  Someone who liked to run and never settle down was signing a five-year lease to run a bed and breakfast?  None of this made any sense to me.  After the first chapter, I put the book away and read two other books.  But then I returned to it.  At least give it a try.

Well, by chapter four, I was thoroughly drawn into the story and couldn't put it down.   All other plans for the day were put on hold so I could keep reading.  Parts of this book were so good.  And I'm not even talking about the sexy times - which were plenty good - but it was the other parts.  Sadie learning to confront her past demons and Eli realizing he'd spent his whole life trying to save everyone.  This book had me in tears more than once.  It also had me laughing and cringing and then it made me angry.

In the beginning Sadie is returning to her home town after being gone for ten years.  But as she approaches what is to be her new home, she runs out of gas, and a law officer pulls over to see if she needs help.  Officer Eli Garret, the same man who arrested her ten years earlier, and the catalyst for what caused her to run away.  Also, turns out that was Eli's first arrest.  You never forget your first, right?

Sadie's back in town to open up a bed and breakfast, which happens to be located on land owned by Eli's family.  Little bit complicated.  These two can't seem to stand each other, until they realize that really they can't get enough of each other.  They have some serious, explosive chemistry.  The dialogue is great.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing these two realize how much they wanted each other.

For a while I was loving this book so much, was thinking it was one of the best romances I'd ever read.  There is a scene (possible spoiler! Sorry.) in which Sadie finally tells Eli about what happened the night he arrested her.  So incredibly heart breaking and so very well written.  I was feeling everything reading this, the hurt and the shame and guilt.  And the way their relationship developed after that, after all the secrets and been uncovered.  So good.

But then something happened that pissed me off.  Made me so angry and I considered not even finishing the book (for like three seconds, but still).  She'd just been completely vulnerable with him, showing him the place she'd run to for safety when she was younger and he'd been so kind and understanding.  Damn bastard had braided her hair.  Then all of a sudden, something happens, and it was a big, bad something, but still, his response was to say, "It's over."  This from the guy who was always so careful and controlled and concerned, and his reaction is to ditch her after seeing how much she wanted him, how much she trusted him?

I know this is a romance novel and I knew they would work it out, but at that point, I was thinking Sadie would have a happier ever after if she packed her things, got in the car and drove as far away from the dysfunctional Garrett family as possible.  Suddenly living with no one but her cat and moving from place to place every year or so didn't seem like such a bad idea in my mind.

Also, I detest when some character who has no importance at all suddenly shows up bestowing invaluable wisdom.  That's such a trait in small town romances - the all knowing elder or busy body, too observant neighbor.  I hate that.  To me it's lazy that the characters can't figure out important things for themselves and need someone who really should be minding her own business to show them the way.

The ending is sweet, and of course, I'm glad they worked things out, but because of the events right before the ending, I'm not able to call this one of my favorites.  However, it was still a very good book.

I've already started reading the next book in the series.

I received a review copy of this via NetGalley.

Review: Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb

My first trip to Paris was a day trip from London.  I took an early train to Paris and then a late train back to London.  That first trip, it was pouring down rain, and I just saw the highlights - quick trip through the Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe.  But on the tour bus back to the train station, I was listening to the commentary and the guide said on your left, you'll see Rodin's Museum and Gardens.  So I looked and what I saw was so beautiful.  A couple of years later, when I returned to Paris - this time for a week - one of my first visits was to the Musee Rodin to get a better look at what I'd glimpsed that rainy day on the bus.  Now, anytime someone asks for suggestions of places to visit in Paris, I mention this small, but beautiful museum and the surrounding gardens.

Inside the Museum, along with Rodin's work, is the work of Camille Claudel, one of Rodin's students as well as his lover.

I've always been curious about this woman.  Passionate, unconventional and mentally unstable according to most stories.  But I know enough about history to know that a lot of women deemed mentally unstable and women who simply refused to conform to the idea of how a proper woman should behave.  Any woman who wants do something different, who wants to be more than a wife and a mother is at risk of being considered crazy.  Then again, a lot of artists are to some extent tormented by some form of mental illness.

I was looking forward to reading this book, hoping to learn more about her and her work and who she really was.  I suppose I should have guessed by the title that this would mostly be about her connection to Rodin, but I'd hoped it would be more.

While the story starts out about Camille, and her desire to be an artist, the focus eventually shifts to Rodin.  But I felt the story was told in very general terms.  For a relationship that is believed to have been so passionate, their story is told here in a very boring manner.  I felt nothing for this couple.  There are a few sentences hinting at Camille's mental illness, and descriptions of her bursts of temper, but it didn't feel very convincing.

This story focuses too much on Rodin, trying to claim that he loved Camille as much as she loved him, and that it was voices in her head that caused her to be so on and off again with him.  He was a man twice her age, with a long-time live in lover (also the mother of his son) and a reputation for bedding many women.  I find it highly doubtful to assume that he viewed Camille as anything more than another lover.  Once he realized her talent, he had no problem "borrowing" her ideas and enlisting her assistance in his own work.  Okay, that's my opinion.  I felt like this story glossed over all of that, trying to claim that had some sweet love affair, and even though there are mentions of Rodin stealing Camille's work, it's played off as something Camille over-reacted about.

I didn't like this book very much.  I had to force myself to finish it.  I don't feel as though I learned anything in this book that I'd not already learned from reading the placards at the Rodin Museum.  There are no details.  This being a novelization, I'd hope the author could at least make some details up.  But the story felt vague:  They saw each other, they wanted each other, they worked on their sculptures.  Camille heard a voice, she got very angry.  Rodin went back to his lover, but thought of Camille all the time.  

Even more disturbing though is the way this book tries to claim Camille's abortion was her mental breaking point.  If anything, the abortion was what saved her.  It was what prompted her to end her sexual relationship with Rodin, and what caused her to focus on her work and separate herself from Rodin.  She finally realized she didn't want to be tied to Rodin and certainly didn't want to be burdened with his child.  After splitting from Rodin, she actually did become somewhat successful and made a point of doing work that was very different from Rodin so she wouldn't simply be considered his talented student, but rather an artist in her own right.  It was years later that her family began to suspect she was mentally ill and had her committed.  The idea that she considered the abortion so devastating seems cliche to me and doesn't at all fit with what she wanted in her life.  She didn't want a husband and children, she easily could have had that, but she wanted to be a respected artist - she wanted to be more than Rodin's lover.  

I read this book hoping to learn more about Camille Claudel and Rodin, or at least find a passionate fictionalized version of their relationship.  This book wasn't very interesting or passionate
and I didn't learn anything new.

I received a review copy via NetGalley.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Review: Billionaire's Intern - Part 1 by Maisey Yates

First, I should admit I did not understand what I was reading. Yes, I saw that it was "part 1" but I assumed that meant it was the first book in a trilogy. When I opened it on my kindle, I saw it was very short, but thought it was a novella, in the same vein as the Cosmo Hot Reads.

I generally avoid anything with "Billionaire" in the title. I think that has become so overused, and such a weak word to describe someone. He has money. Okay? Not saying I don't like stories about wealthy men, but if the most important thing about him is his money, kind of boring. (I spent my twenties in the Dallas-area, knew a lot of guys with a lot of money and most of them were total jackasses who thought money was all they needed. So anyway.)

But I generally love Maisey Yates' books - her Presents books were some of the first romances I read when I returned to reading romances, and remain some of my favorites. So when I saw this on NetGalley, of course I wanted to read it. And once I began reading it, I was so happy to see Austin from Avenge Me in the beginning of the story. (I absolute loved that book!)

But this part 1 is just like 50 pages of the story. If I'd known it was simply part of a story, I wouldn't have bothered reading it - I would have waited until I could get the entire story. I don't really understand this format. I went to amazon to try to figure out what is going on. According to their listings, this will be released in parts - 50-60 pages each - every two days. First part free (June 7), second part 99 cents (June 9), next one 2.50 (June 11) and then I think, four dollars for the fourth part (June 14). Or you could get entire story for six dollars (June 17). This concept doesn't make sense to me at all. The entire story is less than 200 pages (if the amazon listing is correct) so why split it up? Maybe there is something involved that I simply don't understand or am not aware of. Like it's a special promotion of some sort. But I don't like it, and I was incredibly disappointed when I realized last night that I didn't have an entire story.

The biggest problem though is there is nothing in the first part that makes me feel the need to keep reading it. I know that Allison likes Skittles - bought by her brother - and Logan Black doesn't wear shoes and he doesn't like being around people. That isn't enough to make me want to hurry up and purchase part two.

I'll probably read the entire book when it's available, but I really don't like the serial concept at all. I like reading a book all at once. And after reading the first part, I'm not in any way anxiously awaiting the rest of the story.

I received a review copy via NetGalley.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Review: The Vampire's Fall by Michele Hauf

The Vampire’s Fall is another excellent paranormal romance from Michele Hauf .  In this book, Blade, a sexy, brooding vampire/fairy falls for a woman, Zen, who has lost her memory and all awareness of who and/or what she is.

That I really liked this book is not a big surprise.  A quick glance through my past book reviews and it’s clear that I’m a big fan of Hauf’s writing.  Love her Beautiful Creatures world, full of paranormal creatures such as vampires and werewolves and fairies.  A couple of weeks ago, I read Her Vampire Husband, about Blu and Creed Saint-Pierre, a werewolf who marries a vampire.  After that I read a few novellas about the couple and their family, and then Ghost Wolf – which is about their granddaughter, Daisy Blu.  (I read Moonlight and Diamonds, about Daisy Blu's brother, Stryke before I read any of the other Saint-Pierre books).  Could not get enough of this family and wanted to do nothing but read while I was engrossed in this world.

I was very much looking forward to reading Blade Saint-Pierre’s story because of the hints about him in the other books.

But in the beginning, I was a little worried because the novel started out slow for me.  Usually I’m involved in the story from the first few pages, and this book didn't feel like that to me.  Maybe that was partially because I simply didn't have time to sit down and read for an extended period of time. 

Even when I wasn't sure I was loving the story, I still loved Blade, who was struggling  with a painful past that made it difficult for him to move forward in life.  But Zen, I didn't like much at all, not at first.  I couldn't understand why Blade wanted her and didn't find their attraction very convincing at first. 

I kept reading though, and once Zen’s memories began to return, she developed a more interesting personality.  Once Blade finally began to open up to her and talk more about his past, I felt the story got much more interesting.

By the time I finished the book, I pretty much loved the story.  This book is heavy on vampires and demons and fairies and angels.  The last few I've read have been mostly werewolf stories, so I enjoyed the change – being that vampires are my favorite. 

What really won me over though was the imagery in this story, especially the description of the wings.  I highlighted several passages in hopes of returning to these when I have my sketchbook in hand to try and capture these visuals on paper.  These are such beautiful and powerful scenes, so vividly described, I could see the black wings facing off against the angel as they battled to the death.  And there is one love scene involving fairy wings which is probably one of the hottest, sexiest scenes I've ever read and completely made up for any perceived slowness in the beginning of the story. 

Overall, I thought this was a great book.  I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys paranormal romances.  These are some of the best.

According to Amazon, this book will be released in paperback on May 15 and as an ebook on June 1.

I received a review copy via NetGalley.

And just a general comment about these books because I was reading about the Saint-Pierre's, one right after the other - I have been dealing - rather unsuccessfully - with some health issues that are beginning to adversely affect other areas of my life, and these books have been my salvation.  When nothing else in my life was working, I knew I could dive into these books and find a much needed escape.  Books are important.  Fiction is necessary.  And authors who create worlds like this are, at times, more valuable than doctors.