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Loren's eLiterate

I like all sorts of genres, and I love a good series. However, I dislike books that portion the story out to readers in a serialized fashion over several volumes, and I refuse to buy them.

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron (Highland Pleasures, #3)

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron (Highland Pleasures, #3) - Jennifer Ashley I wanted to like this so much, and overall, it was an enjoyable read. I liked the characters, but I had major problems believing certain aspects of Cameron's back story with his first wife, Elizabeth. When her postpartum depression turned vicious, I do not understand why Cameron didn't pack her off to some discreet asylum rather than allowing her to live in the house with their son, especially after the incident with the lit cigar. If someone is determined to harm their child, I don't understand the other parent not taking firm steps to remove the danger. Cameron knew that Elizabeth could cajole the servants into allowing her into his room to abuse him, so it makes no sense that Cameron would think she wouldn't be able to get to Daniel any time she wanted. Yet she remained in the house. Even if Cameron hesitated to send her to an asylum because of Ian's experience, I would think that hesitation would disappear after Elizabeth became a clear danger to Daniel. None of that was truly addressed, and that lack cost the book a star in this review.

The Arrangement (The Survivors' Club #2)

The Arrangement (The Survivors' Club #2) - Mary Balogh This is such a lovely, gentle story of two broken people who help each other to come into their own. I enjoyed that there wasn't truly any Big Misunderstanding, only Sophie and Vincent trying to honor a bargain they'd made and that they now each regretted - a situation that was quickly resolved when they talked it over. That's something else I enjoyed about this book: our hero and heroine actually like each other and spend time talking together. In a sea of stories where the hero and heroine take an instant dislike to each other (yet fall into bed anyway), constantly assume the worst about each other (yet never bother to ask the other about anything important), this book was a gem.
The Proposal (The Survivors' Club #1) - Mary Balogh I enjoyed this quite a bit. It was (as other reviewers have noted) slow moving, but for me, that was part of the charm. We were allowed to see Hugo and Gwen get to know one another and to develop fond feelings for each other. The secondary characters were fleshed out just enough to be intriguing as the potential heroes of the rest of the series but not so much that they interfered with the focus on Hugo and Gwen.

Prince Charming

Prince Charming - Julie Garwood This is okay, but unfortunately just okay. There was a great deal of repetition and more telling than showing. The final conflict between the villain and heroine was something of a let down, and the situation between the hero and a villain from his past was left unresolved and just sort of trailed away.
Silver Angel - Johanna Lindsey I detested the so-called hero in this too much to give this anything other than one star. Perhaps that's unfair since this book was written in 1988 and different tropes were popular then, but this was as close to a DNF book as I've encountered lately.

Uncertain Magic

Uncertain Magic - Laura Kinsale This was clearly not the book for me. While some people I know adored it, I just never truly connected with the characters or the plot.
Masked Cowboy (Men of the White Sandy, #2) - Sarah M. Anderson I'm really enjoying this series, and I think I liked this book even more than the first. The characterization of both Jacob and Mary Beth is extremely well done. They're not cardboard cut-outs, by any means. Both of them have understandable issues with intimacy, but they manage to make their relationship work, even through the rough spots.

The revelation of the villain wasn't really much of a surprise, but the last confrontation between the villain, Mary Beth and Jacob was suspenseful, and the resolution was definitely satisfying. (And now, like everyone else, I'm waiting to read Nobody's story, which I hope is the next up in the series.)

The Secrets of Mia Danvers (Dangerous Liaisons, #1)

The Secrets of Mia Danvers (Dangerous Liaisons, #1) - Robyn DeHart Overall, I enjoyed the plot very much. The premise of a blind woman witnessing an attack by Jack the Ripper was an excellent hook, and I liked that the author gave us glimpses of Jack's POV, something that added an extra layer of creepiness to the story.

I liked the main characters, although I have some reservations about the way the secondary romance between Edward and Rachel was treated. I felt it was far too rushed and wrapped up too quickly.

There was also an issue that continually threw me out of the story: the hero is the Duke of Carrington, yet he's repeatedly improperly addressed as Lord Carrington by various characters. However, at times those same characters also address him properly as Your Grace. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for the alternating forms of address. The heroine is the daughter of an earl, yet she's always incorrectly addressed as Miss Danvers rather than Lady Mia. Those are Historical Romance Writing 101 level issues, and they're something an editor should have caught and corrected early in the editing process.

Also, it turned out that Mia and Drew are half brother and sister, yet that revelation was just dropped with no further mention. Since that was a surprising revelation, it made no sense that it went absolutely nowhere.

Something else that made no sense to me was that Alex was so worried about Jack the Ripper that he moved Mia into his house to keep her safe and assigned footmen to guard her, but suddenly she's going to the opera, and all he does is tell her to be safe? That strongly went against his characterization up to that point.

I don't mean to imply that I didn't enjoy the book overall, because I did. But with a little extra effort, this could have been a five-star book for me, and I'm somewhat disappointed that extra effort wasn't made. Still, I did enjoy the plot, and I've already ordered the next book in the series, since I'm interested in reading Drew's story.

To Protect An Heiress

To Protect An Heiress - Adrienne Basso I genuinely liked the characters and empathized with them, but I shouldn't have liked this book as much as I did. The villain's motives made no real sense, the hero's anxiety about his relationship with the heroine evidenced itself in a strange way, and the heroine fell in love way too fast, but I enjoyed the book nonetheless. If I could rate this 3.5 stars, I would, but instead I'll err on the generous side and give it 4.
Eden's Sin - Jennifer Jakes I liked the main characters quite a bit, and I particularly enjoyed the author's writing style. Both of the lead characters are carrying heavy emotional burdens from their past. Eden was fiercely determined to protect her sister, a task made all the more daunting by the circumstances under which she was forced to live. It was a pleasure to watch Bradford fall in love and evolve from his rigid "right is right and wrong is wrong" attitude to that of someone willing to twist the situation to insure justice.

All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess (Lords of Vice)

All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess (Lords of Vice) - Alexandra Hawkins I'm uncertain if there was a lack of editing for this book or a lack of interest, but the reader was told how the Lords of Vice received their names not once but twice during the course of this book, and we were told three times that Catherine's parents were Lord Greenshield and Lady Eyre. The repetition became tedious, especially when considering that other things were dropped as if they never existed (what happened to the blackmailer, Royles? To Lord Mulcaster?) in favor of a rushed HEA.
Hot Under Pressure (Rising Star Chef #3) - Louisa Edwards I enjoyed this book much more than I did the one preceding this in the series. Beck was an intriguing character, and it was interesting to see how he was forced to confront his emotions instead of remaining stoic. Skye was a likeable character, although I never quite connected with her, and I'm not certain why. Perhaps I expected her to break away from her parents' influence more solidly, but that was my own expectation and nothing that was set up in the book, so I can't fault the author for that at all.

The book lost a star over the ending, however. I was appalled at the way Skye threw the RSC competition. After going through so much work, shutting down her restaurant, and dragging her employees all over the country, to simply throw the competition at the last minute was a stupid thing to do. Rather than being the empowering grand gesture that I suspect the author was going for, it was an action more suited to an overly emotional teenager and made Skye seem melodramatic.
Some Like It Hot (Rising Star Chef #2) - Louisa Edwards This is a difficult book for me to review. While I liked the character of Danny, I detested the character of Eva so much that I could barely keep reading. She spent much of the book as nothing more than a venal, selfish, spoiled little girl. She never actually redeemed herself in my eyes, and I'm still uncertain why Danny was so quick to forgive her, especially in light of the issues that he'd had forgiving his brother, Max. Eva's reasons for basically interfering with the RSC competition (her need to gain Daddy's approval and attention) were not enough to justify her actions, and her self-recrimination when she finally realized she was wrong was too little too late, in my opinion.

Max and Jules from Too Hot To Touch were barely in this book, which normally wouldn't bother me, since they'd had their own book, and this one was Danny's. However, I would have much preferred to read more about them than to endure the endless pages of Eva-the-spoiled-brat and her daddy issues.

Sweet Gone South

Sweet Gone South  - Alicia Hunter Pace I'd give this 4.5 stars if Goodreads would allow it. I liked Lanie and Luke. They were each struggling in their own way, and yet together, they made things better for the other. Emma was a cute child, and yet she still pouted and stamped her foot, so she wasn't the stereotypical too-cute-to-believe fictional child. Her association with kissing and mommies and daddies was a nice touch, and it nudged the plot along in a natural way.

The author did a good job with broadly sketching out southern life in a small town, and I laughed out loud at the "pie and casserole brigade", with their pyrex and good serving dishes. I've seen that in action, and the author nailed it perfectly.

Lanie's friends were given enough character to serve the plot, but not so much as to overwhelm it, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series featuring Tolly and Ethan.

The only reason that I didn't give it an outright 5 stars was the coincidence between the way Carrie died and Lanie's accident. I know coincidences happen in real life, but it did seem a bit convenient as a method to prompt Luke to realize how much Lanie truly meant to him.
The Story Guy - Mary Ann Rivers This was one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a very long time. It's novella length, but that doesn't lessen the impact of the story. The characters are fully fleshed out and are both flawed and admirable.

Unlike far too many female heroines in currently popular books, Carrie is portrayed as an adult rather than a self-absorbed adolescent masquerading as a grown-up. Carrie makes her own decisions and choices, and she recognizes that there are trade-offs for those choices. She also recognizes that her relationship with Brian doesn't revolve solely around her. He's in it, too, and so are his accompanying responsibilities. Carrie doesn't whine or bemoan fate; she simply accepts the truth for what it is.

Brian is struggling under a burden too large for him, and like Carrie, he doesn't whine about it. He just puts one foot in front of the other and gets things done. The fact that there are more things than are humanly possible for him to do (and that those things have to be repeated day-in and day-out) is slowly overwhelming him. Ms Rivers does an excellent job of conveying not only Brian's determination but also his quiet despair and ever-present guilt.

What begins as a stolen, self-indulgent hour each week quickly blossoms into a deeper connection, with all the associated difficulties and pitfalls. There are no Big Misunderstandings here, no cliched plot twists. There's only two adults having an adult relationship, and it's a lovely thing to behold.
Dream Lake (Friday Harbor, #3) - Lisa Kleypas I enjoyed this book more than Rainshadow Road, and the problems that caused me to down rate that book were absent here. The parallels between Alex and Tom were nicely drawn, and the addition of the secondary romance between Tom and Emma, and the slow unraveling of the mystery of why Tom was lingering as a ghost, added a great deal of depth to the book.