April 23, 2010

A Rare Chance by Carla Neggers

Gabriella Starr has silk suits, champagne tastes, and a great new career. She also has a strange man following her around Boston. Two of them, actually. When she tries to chase down the first, she encounters the second -- ex-cop and new D.A. Cam Yaeger. He's sure she's in trouble, but Gabriella bristles when he offers to help. She's way too attracted to him, and it's not like her to go for law-enforcement types anyway. She''s far too independent, too naturally defiant. And she's spent too many nights in jail....

Cam Yeager likes cold beer, his Bruins sweatshirt, and shaving every other day. He knows all about Gabriella Starr, her eccentric father, and their years rescuing rare, endangered orchids no matter the stakes. Now something shady is going on in Boston. And something explosive is hovering on the horizon as well: the wild fireworks of two intense opposites falling in love....

Gabriella is a woman who will not settle for any less in a man then the one who understand both sides of her personality...the adventurer and the straightlaced businesswoman. After leaving her father to his orchid adventures for stability in Boston, she unwittingly becomes a target of animosity from her employer's brother, Joshua Reading. Having noticed she is being followed by not one by two ex-cops she confronts cop-turned-lawyer Cam Yeager and demands answers. When he refuses to give them, Gaby determines to investigate for herself exactly what is going on with the people she works for.

Complicating events further, her nomadic father and her long-time friend Lizzie show up at her apartment after having not seen each other for more than a year. In a so-called whirlwind romance, Lizzie and Joshua become involved, making Gabriella's decisions murky and actions weighty with consequence.

A Rare Chance has some great characters and an interesting story.  The book cover does not really fit the storyline...I hate that! An orchid greenhouse attached to Garbriella's apartment happens to be a setting where a lot of the character interactions takes place. I thought all the details about orchids and their care provided an additional element of interest.  A few plots elements were unnecessary or contrived and detracted from the story.

I appreciated how Neggers dealt with and provided a comparison of different types intimate and familial relationships and the types of people who get involved in each. Those that are healthy where the individual keeps their identity and those that are unhealthy, obsessive, dominating, and emotionally damaging.

I think I like romantic suspense so much because I am a problem-solver. Regular romance stories are mainly about the character's issues and how the characters find resolution together for the HEA. But romantic suspense provides more dimension, threatening situations, hopefully thrilling plot and an added layer of tension. Originally published in 1996, A Rare Chance is a solid romantic suspense novel that fans of Carla Neggers will enjoy. The romantic side of the story is not very involved but this is typical of Negger's novels...more of a sideline really with suspense front and center.

Recently released in paperback by Carla Neggers is The Mist. The Whisper will be released June 29, 2010 in hardcover. Cold Dawn November 1, 2010 in paperback.

My Rating: 3.5


Related Posts:
Cold River by Carla Neggers
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April 22, 2010

Eagerly Looking Forward To...

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

Re-Release Date: May 7, 2010. Originally published May 1997.
Publisher: Allison & Busby
ISBN: 0749007036
Format: Trade Paperback 
Pages: 400

Verity Grey is thrilled to be asked to join archaeologist Peter Quinnell's dig in the Scottish borders, but after her first day she isn't so sure. Quinnell, having spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the lost Ninth Roman Legion, is convinced he's finally found it - not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has seen a Roman soldier walking in the fields, a ghostly sentinel who guards the bodies of his long-dead comrades. The worst thing is that Verity believes in Peter, and the boy, and even in the Sentinel, who seems determined to become her own protector...but from what?

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman

Release Date: July 6, 2010
Publisher: The Dial Press
ISBN: 0385340850
Format: Hardcover 
Pages: 416

Heralded as “a modern day Jane Austen” by USA Today, National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Allegra Goodman has compelled and delighted hundreds of thousands of readers. Now, in her most ambitious work yet, Goodman weaves together the worlds of Silicon Valley and rare book collecting in a delicious novel about appetite, temptation, and fulfillment.

Emily and Jessamine Bach are opposites in every way: Twenty-eight-year-old Emily is the CEO of Veritech, twenty-three-year-old Jess is an environmental activist and graduate student in philosophy. Pragmatic Emily is making a fortune in Silicon Valley, romantic Jess works in an antiquarian bookstore. Emily is rational and driven, while Jess is dreamy and whimsical. Emily’s boyfriend, Jonathan, is fantastically successful. Jess’s boyfriends, not so much—as her employer George points out in what he hopes is a completely disinterested way.

Bicoastal, surprising, rich in ideas and characters, The Cookbook Collector is a novel about getting and spending, and about the substitutions we make when we can’t find what we’re looking for: reading cookbooks instead of cooking, speculating instead of creating, collecting instead of living. But above all it is about holding on to what is real in a virtual world: love that stays.

Dracula My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker by Syrie James

Release Date: July 22, 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 0061923036
Format: Paperback 
Pages: 480

Syrie James approaches Bram Stoker's classic Dracula with a breathtaking new perspective--as, for the first time, Mina Harker records the shocking story of her scandalous seduction and sexual rebirth.
Who is this magnetic, fascinating man? And how could one woman fall so completely under his spell?

Mina Harker is torn between two men. Struggling to hang on to the deep, pure love she's found within her marriage to her husband, Jonathan, she is inexorably drawn into a secret, passionate affair with a charismatic but dangerous lover. This haunted and haunting creature has awakened feelings and desires within her that she has never before known, which remake her as a woman.

Although everyone she knows fears him and is pledged to destroy him, Mina sees a side to him that the others cannot: a tender, romantic side; a man who's taken full advantage of his gift of immortality to expand his mind and talents; a man who is deeply in love, and who may not be so guilty of evil after all.

Yet to surrender is surely madness, for to be with him could end her life. It may cost Mina all she holds dear, but to make her choice she must learn everything she can about the remarkable origins and sensuous powers of this man, this exquisite monster, this ... Dracula!

Poison by Sara Poole

Release Date: August 3, 2010 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press 
ISBN: 0312609833 
Format: Trade Paperback  
Pages: 400 

 In the simmering hot summer of 1492, a monstrous evil is stirring within the Eternal City of Rome. The brutal murder of an alchemist sets off a desperate race to uncover a plot that threatens to end the Renaissance and plunge Europe back into medieval darkness. 

Determined to avenge the killing of her father, Francesca Giordano defies all convention to claim the position of poisoner serving Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, head of the most notorious and dangerous family in Italy. She becomes the confidante of Lucrezia Borgia and the lover of Cesare Borgia. At the same time, she is drawn to the young renegade monk who yearns to save her life and her soul. 

 Navigating a web of treachery and deceit, Francesca pursues her father’s killer from the depths of Rome’s Jewish ghetto to the heights of the Vatican itself. In so doing, she sets the stage for the ultimate confrontation with ancient forces that will seek to use her darkest desires to achieve their own catastrophic ends.

April 19, 2010

The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz)

Book 6 in the Arcane Society Series by Amanda Quick - Jayne Ann Krentz - Jayne Castle 

Plagued by rumors that she poisoned her fiancé, Lucinda Bromley manages to live on the fringes of polite society, tending her beloved plantsand occasionally consulting on a murder investigation. For the notorious botanist possesses a unique talent: She can detect almost any type of poison, especially ones that have their origins in the botanical kingdom.

But the death of a lord has shaken Lucinda to her core. At the murder scene, she picks up traces of a poison containing a very rare species of fern. So rare, in fact, that only one specimen exists in all of England and it was stolen from her conservatory just last month.

To keep her name out of the inquest and to find the murderer, Lucinda hires fellow Arcane Society member Caleb Jones who runs a psychical investigation agency. A descendant of the founder of the Society, Jones is very skillful at protecting its secretsand frighteningly good getting at the truth. Immediately, Lucinda senses both a raw power and an undeniable intensity in the imposing man.

But as a nearly overwhelming desire blooms between Caleb and Lucinda, they are drawn into the dark heart of a deadly conspiracy that can be traced to the early days of the Arcane Society and to a legacy of madness that could plunge Caleb into the depths of his own tortured soul. . . .

Am I going to give up on Jayne Ann Krentz?  Probably not, but I'm just not as satisfied with her writing as I used to be, although admittedly having collected over 130 books by Krentz I guess my expectations are biased.  Maybe my preferences have evolved or maybe I've just been exposed to too much great fiction and have higher standards now. The Perfect Poison's book jacket looks pretty and promising with purple flowers and ferns and a hot pink spine. The books feel nice and weighty, so I was excited to start reading, hoping The Perfect Poison would be the story that makes me fall in love all over again with Krentz. Well this novel will not be the one to make me do that...but neither will it make me give up her novels for good.  The 437 pages I thought an ideal size of read, but realized soon enough that the page count is deceptive and the read is much shorter and quicker than I was expecting. The type is a bit larger and the lines are quite spaced out and thicker paper is used, albeit the book is still priced at CAD$9.99.

Maybe its just the whole Arcane Society Series books that cross the paranormal (Castle), historical romance (Quick) and contemporary (Krentz) romance genres, which include the common storyline of the "Arcane Society" that is causing the problem for me...a lot of the language sounds repetitive, so the stories are not as fresh as they could be.  If The Perfect Poison is the first book you pick up by the author I think it would be a fun read, with a unique premise that the independent, strong-minded heroine Lucinda Bromley can detect plant energy, including poisons.  But the overly indulgent, flowery and flamboyant language made me cringe instead of chuckle this time. The hero Caleb Jones was not as much alpha as caveman really and his characterization could have done with more depth and polish. Overall: Average.

Recent January 2010 release in hardcover is Fired Up (Krentz); Next up is Burning Lamp (Quick) released in hardcover April 20, 2010; Midnight Crystal (Castle) released in paperback August 31, 2010.

My Rating: 3.0


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My Bookcase

April 15, 2010

Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb

When the newly promoted captain of the NYPSD and his wife return a day early from their vacation, they are looking forward to spending time with their bright and vivacious sixteen-year-old daughter, who stayed behind.
Not even their worst nightmares could prepare them for the crime scene that awaits them instead. Deena has been brutally murdered in her bedroom, and her body shows signs of trauma that horrify even the toughest of cops, including our own Lieutenant Eve Dallas, who is specifically requested by the captain to investigate.

When the evidence starts to pile up, Dallas and her team think they are about to arrest their perpetrator; little do they know that someone has gone to great lengths to tease and taunt them by using a variety of identities.

Overconfidence can lead to careless mistakes. But for Dallas, one mistake might be all she needs to serve justice.

Kindred in Death is the 29th book in the In Death futuristic mystery series featuring kick-ass cop Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her mega wealthy husband Roarke. Having read the past 20 novels in the series, Kindred in Death is about as perfect as I think an In Death mystery can get.

An extremely brutal crime involving the daughter of a police captain, a diabolical murder with no close connection to the victim and clues that refuse to provide cohesive answers. The focus on the rape and murder of a young female teenager on the cusp of womanhood really strikes at the heart.  Whereas there usually seems to be some personal element for Eve with the murders she investigates, this murder strikes more close because of the specific brutality and the helplessness of the victim.  The senselessness of the crime really comes across.

I enjoyed the sort of nature versus nurture theme as an explanation for human behaviour. How a person's makeup can be imprinted by family and whether someone is born evil. Kindred in Death presents the idea that whether you are naive or worldly, someone with enough devious bent or someone who has been imprinted by evil can deceive and exploit weaknesses.  In the end, whom can you trust?

I did not mind at all that Roarke and Eve's relationship had less of a focus than the other recent novels in the series, although I was a little surprised that the couple times Roarke and Eve had sex they did so in water...I mean isn't that supposed to be dangerous?? But then again this is fiction after all. The only element that bothered me was that there was a second murder in the plot, which seemed more of an afterthought, with the lack of attention the first murder received.

My rating is based only on comparing Kindred in Death with the other In Death novels.

My Rating: 5.0


Related Posts:
Promises in Death
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