Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Good Woman

The Good Woman

Author: Jane Porter
ISBN: 978-0425253007
Publisher: Berkley
Source: BookSparks PR
Rating: Highly Recommended

Is it possible to leave it all behind? 

The firstborn of a large Irish-American family, Meg Brennan Roberts is a successful publicist, faithful wife, and doting mother who prides herself on always making the right decisions. But years of being “the good woman” have taken a toll and though her winery career thrives, Meg feels burned out and empty, and more disconnected than ever from her increasingly distant husband. Lonely and disheartened, she attends the London Wine Fair with her boss, ruggedly handsome vintner, Chad Hallahan. It’s here, alone together in an exotic city, far from “real” life, that Chad confesses his long-standing desire for Meg.

Overwhelmed, flattered, and desperately confused, Meg returns home, only to suddenly question every choice she’s ever made, especially that of her marriage. For Meg, something’s got to give, and for once in her life she flees her responsibilities—but with consequences as reckless and irreversible as they are liberating. Now she must decide whether being the person everyone needs is worth losing the woman she was meant to be.

My Thoughts:

I always have a hard time putting Jane's books down, so I wasn't surprised when this one was irresistible to me. Jane has a knack for exploring her characters from the inside out. The characters grow and develop over the course of the story, just as we do when faced with trials and opportunities in our life.

The story is told from many points of view, enabling the reader to understand the story from all sides, which gives a unique perspective to the reader. I love this set up in novels. They can be extremely difficult to navigate but Jane makes it effortless for the reader.

The story is a picture of families and dynamics that make them one of a kind unique, special, infuriating and irreplaceable. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Paternity Test

Author: Michael Lowenthal
ISBN: 978-0-299290009
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Rating: Recommended

Having a baby to save a marriage—it’s the oldest of clich├ęs. But what if the marriage at risk is a gay one and having a baby involves a surrogate mother?

    Pat Faunce is a faltering romantic, a former poetry major who now writes textbooks. A decade into his relationship with Stu, an airline pilot from a fraught Jewish family, he fears he’s losing Stu to other men—and losing himself in their “no rules” arrangement. Yearning for a baby and a deeper commitment, he pressures Stu to move from Manhattan to Cape Cod, to the cottage where Pat spent boyhood summers.

    As they struggle to adjust to their new life, they enlist a surrogate: Debora, a charismatic Brazilian immigrant, married to Danny, an American carpenter. Gradually, Pat and Debora bond, drawn together by the logistics of getting pregnant and away from their spouses. Pat gets caught between loyalties—to Stu and his family, to Debora, to his own potent desires—and wonders: is he fit to be a father?

    In one of the first novels to explore the experience of gay men seeking a child through surrogacy, Michael Lowenthal writes passionately about marriages and mistakes, loyalty and betrayal, and about how our drive to create families can complicate the ones we already have. The Paternity Test is a provocative look at the new “family values."

My Thoughts: 

The Paternity Test is a novel that is sure to turn a few heads as it takes a look at our evolving world and the many different types of families within it. I accepted this book for review because it’s quite different from most books in its genre. The writing is strong, weaving emotions throughout the story that are sure to tug at your heartstrings no matter what thoughts you may have on the topic. However, given that the subject matter attacks a widely opinionated topic, there are sure to be those that love and those who hate this book.  Keeping all personal thoughts and beliefs out of it, this author has a wonderful writing style, imaginative story, colorful characters and something to say that begs you to listen.  If it peaks your interest, go for it.

*Thank you to BookSparks PR for providing this review copy. Visit them at www.booksparkspr.com

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Perfect Bait

Author: Michael Fowlkes
ISBN: 978-0-9742406-5-7
Publisher: Thunderbird Press
Source: BookSparks PR
Rating: Recommended Read

Seattle’s commercial waterfront, San Diego’s topless beaches, and the waters of Cabo San Lucas are all breathtaking and beautiful, but in Perfect Bait, these settings are the backdrop for a story of kidnapping, rape and murder – leaving the reader deeply engrossed in a spellbinding and suspenseful thriller.

When Corey Phillips moved to Southern California to start a charter boating operation with his girlfriend Jennifer, he never expected he’d be looking for anything other than fish among the open waters. Lately though, young girls have been disappearing and the local authorities are depending on the FBI to put the pieces of this mystery together. However, the puzzle proves difficult to solve, until Corey and Jennifer find themselves the perfect bait and fighting for their lives.

Michael Fowlkes brings a smooth and addicting writing style to the pages of this novel. The story flows effortlessly across the pages as the action, adventure and suspense hold the reader captive.  While gritty and all-too-real, the book brings to life the horror of crime combined with the beauty of the ocean and a love for boating. Mixed within the pages is a story of love as Corey and Jennifer fight to stay alive, together.

I loved the thoughts that opened each chapter in this book. Simple sentences such as, “Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery” signify the beginning of a new chapter, often lending themselves to the story unfolding on the pages to follow. If you enjoy a good mystery/thriller/suspense novel, you’ll love Perfect Bait.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Scandalous Viscount

My Scandalous Viscount
Author: Gaelen Foley
ISBN: 978-0062075932
Publisher: Avon Books
Source: TLC Book Tours
Rating: Recommended

Meet the courageous men of the Inferno Club as they face their greatest challenge yet: marriage!

Sebastian, Viscount Beauchamp, lives by a code of honor, and now honor dictates he must marry Miss Carissa Portland. He has no regrets over stealing a kiss from the adorable little busybody—a fitting punishment for putting her delectable nose where it didn't belong. But now, caught in a compromising situation, he knows he must make her his bride. He's faced danger before—but nothing like this!

Carissa is not a gossip—she's a "lady of information." And all she was trying to do was warn the rakehell Beauchamp away from an irate husband. But even she can't flaunt Society, and while her head tells her that Beau's a notorious scoundrel, her heart—and her body—are captivated by his dangerous charm. But when Carissa next goes snooping, the secrets she uncovers about the Inferno Club may prove even more hazardous than falling in love with her own husband.

My Thoughts:
Carissa Portland has always been full of information.  If anyone knows anything about society, it's Carissa.  However, her reasons for knowing the secrets flying through the ton are for her own sanity because she herself has a secret. In order to keep her past hidden, Carissa makes sure she knows what's being talked about among the rich aristocrats in London. When Carissa is caught searching for information, her snooping ends up leading to a marriage of safety. Will her knack for finding information threaten the survival of her marriage?

Viscount Beauchamp, Sebastian, is one of the men of the Inferno Club, a secret aristocratic Order of spies. When Sebastian is caught in a compromising situation with Carissa Portland, a sneaking busybody, he has no choice but to marry her, making his situation harder than intended.   When Carissa finds out more than Sebastian ever intended her to know about him, Sebastian finds himself trying to keep her quiet and safe, not realizing she may just be his greatest ally.

These two lead characters are quiet entertaining to read about. The sparks fly between them from the very beginning as their secrets unfold.  This romance is full of political unrest, spies, bureaucracy, aristocrats and secrets. From the moment you pick it up, you will find yourself wondering what's in it for Carissa and Sebastian, forced into marriage but not into love. It is an enjoyable read.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Advice for the Aspiring Writer

I've had my share of both good and bad advice, but the best advice? Actually comes from my years as a televisions reporter - and it fits in so well with writing that I'm going to write about that today.

Be Yourself.

Early in my journalism career I tried to emulate the best - Katie Couric, Jane Pauley, the list goes on. I watched them like a hawk - from their facial expressions to their little ticks. Did they hold their hands *this* way or *that*? How did that voice inflection go again? How did they say ____? I twisted myself up, down and all around trying to be exactly like my favorite news people because I thought that was what viewers wanted. After all, they were all working for major networks while I was still in small-market news.

One of my favorite people ever, a sports anchor in the town where I worked, was a rancher Monday through Friday and a sports reporter/anchor on weekends. He was funny - very dry humor - had amazing pipes - oh, what a voice! - and a way of saying things that still makes me melt. He'd been in the business for years and years, and one night as I was fiddling with my makeup and hair and going over the story scripts he said, 'You know, all anyone really wants is for us to tell them a story. Our way.'

He'd seen what I was doing - making myself into the perfect replica of what I thought a news person should be. When what I needed to actually do was just report the news in my own way. He mentioned that I was perfectly competent in my impersonations but all that preparation and practice was keeping viewers from relating to *my telling* of the story.

I think that relates to writing, too. Nora (Roberts) and Jayne (Ann Krentz) and Jill (Shalvis) may be best sellers, but they are because they tell their stories their way. They don't imitate or emulate. They are what we all need to be: unique. Shakespeare and Dickens told crazy-good stories. It's okay to hope to someday be that good. The key is to realize we'll only get to that level if we are true to our inner voices, our storytelling abilities and the stories that are in our hearts, waiting to get out.

--Kristina Knight, author of The Saints Devilish Deal

The Saint's Devilish Deal

Author: Kristina Knight
ISBN: 1440552355
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Source: CLP Blog Tours
Rating: Highly Recommended

Esmerelda Quinn has been looking for a place to belong since her parents were killed in a car crash when she was young. The closest thing to home has always been Aunt Constance's villa in Puerto Vallarta, so after a string of hotellier jobs, she's coming home to run the villa.

Santiago Cruz has called the villa home for as long as he can remember. In between surfing events, Constance has always had a room for him. Color him surprised when Constance leaves him with a joint interest in the villa - along with her niece Esmerelda.

Esme isn't thrilled to share ownership of the villa with the the youngest Cruz brother - especially as the Cruz family has been after the villa for years. But Santiago has grown up while she's been away and soon she finds herself falling for the rich boy down the hall - all over again.

My Thoughts:

One of the things I love about reading is the ability to go anywhere, all from the comfort of your own living room. I'm not a fan of flying, which limits the places I travel too, making books like this one great to read because their settings are somewhere I haven't been or likely won't go. While I am visiting another world through the story, I'm also visiting a place, adding to my reading enjoyment. 

I really enjoyed this book. The storyline that surrounds the villa and the plans to make it a successful establishment interested me.  Something about the setting of a villa intrigues me.  I would love to have my own Tuscan Villa, its romantic. Esme and Santiago have a connection that is spicy hot from the very beginning. Their past relationship and years of knowing each other adds to the connection. I found myself hoping that this time Santiago would settle down and stay in one place, minimizing the risk Esme feels is attached to a relationship with Santiago. Their relationship develops throughout the story, making this book a fun and easy read.  I read it fairly quickly once I started. 

This romance was simple and enjoyable but I found myself wishing the story went a little deeper, the plot line had room for expansion and depth without being too deep. Though this didn't effect my enjoyment of the story, I may have enjoyed it more if the story went deeper.  Needless to say, this book is about romance and romance you will get!  It was a wonderful read.  It took me outside my own life and into the lives of Esme and Santiago.  I highly recommend it.  

About the Author
Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police – no, she wasn’t a trouble-maker she was a journalist. When the opportunity to write what she wanted – business and family/parenting articles – and to focus more energy on the stories in her head, she jumped at it.

And she’s never looked back. Now she writes articles for magazines and such by day and writes romance novels with spice by night. And any toddler-free, five minute break she has. She lives on Lake Erie with her husband and 4 year old daughter. Happily ever after.

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