31 August, 2015

Book Review - Stranger in My Arms



Original Publication: Avon Books, 1998
Re-Release: February, 2011
Sexual Content: 3/5




Synopsis


"Lady Hawksworth, your husband is not dead..." 

With these words, Larissa's life turned upside down. Hunter, Earl of Hawksworth, had been lost at sea. Or so she'd been told. Their unhappy marriage -- with its cold caresses and passionless kisses -- was over. But now a powerful, virile man stood before her, telling secrets only a husband could know, and vowing she would once again be his wife in every way.

While Lara couldn't deny that this man with the smoldering dark eyes resembled Hunter, he was attentive and loving in ways he never was before.

Soon she desperately wanted to believe, with every beat of her heart, that this stranger was truly her husband. But had this rake reformed-- or was Lara being seduced by a cunning stranger?

Review


Larissa (Lara) was as cute and innocent as they come, and I actually liked her right away and up to about the ending, when she did something very stupid and made me so angry, I thought about not reading any more of the story.

And then after about two minutes, I read on . . . because I couldn't NOT read on! I finished this novel in less than a day, which tells you something about its content and draw power.

What an exciting story!

We never actually meet Lara's 'real' husband because at the start of the story, he is dead three years already. She then receives the startling news that Hunter, Earl of Hawksworth, isn't actually dead and is returned to London from India.

They'd been married five years total, but after only two, Hunter decides to travel to India, and on the return voyage that proves disastrous, he perishes.

Or, so we are all led to believe.

Hunter's mother is traveling the continent, and Hunter's Uncle and Aunt have taken up residence at Hawksworth Manor, turning it into a garish bawdy house and plowing through what little income the estate makes.

They've relegated Lara to a small cottage nearby, and she's actually happy there. Happier, that is, than having to live with, listen to, and put up with the aunt's caustic taunts and jibes about Lara's worthlessness and barren state.

It was a loveless marriage from the start, and Hunter is an arrogant brute of a man, robust, outdoorsy, and completely callous in his treatment of Lara. It is never mentioned, but the man resorts to rape as opposed to lovemaking, and for a virgin, this can't be good. She hates him and the act and is secretly glad that he is no longer around to harass and humiliate her.

Lara isn't stupid, either. She knew early on that Hunter only married her to produce a legitimate heir, but when that doesn't happen, he hurries right back to his middle-aged mistress and only occasionally accosts his wife when he is drunk or angry.

She's taken up her own causes by working at a local orphanage, making medicine for the elderly in the village, and occasionally does some matchmaking as well.

After the family physician and a few close friends confirm the fact that Hunter has indeed returned, though not quite the same man as before, Lara is devastated but dutifully decides to restart the marriage. Hunter seeks her out inside the tiny cottage, startling her, and then the leaner, more masculine version of her husband proceeds to say and do a lot of things that make Lara start to believe he has definitely changed for the better . . . except that she refuses to let him have sex with her.

Cat and mouse ensues, but in a delightful and not too sappy or even predictable kind of way. Hunter is endearing, charming, well-mannered, and extremely schooled in the art of lovemaking. He's crazy about Lara and he can't stop letting her know it, which only helps to confuse and startle her even more while also helping to draw her closer and closer to him.

Afterthoughts


It's a little weird that while Hunter proved to be one of Lisa's better male leads, it was still a bit difficult to picture him fully in my mind. From the neck down, yes, but as for his face and features . . . I left it entirely up to the man on the inside cover to guide me.

And, I think that has a lot to do with the writing and the premise of the story. Is he or isn't he? A bit of a wraith in my mind until secrets are revealed, the truth unfolds, and then it is too late because the story concludes not too long afterward.

Yes, I loved Hunter. Yes, I adored Larissa. I especially liked the interesting story line behind these two and how it all came together in the end. I rooted for them, got into the setting with ease, and could even envision the garish household being slowly transformed back to its former glory.

This was another novel that did third-person omniscient and head-hopping without supposedly throwing me off or confusing me. It can be done, people, and I am more determined now than ever before to revert BACK to this style of writing. It is seamless, intriguing, and filled with just enough description and back story to HELP me understand and not bog me down or bore me.

Yes, I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in reading a regency romance novel that doesn't follow protocol or a formula for that genre, and that dares to go beyond rich aristocrat and tell us what life was really like for those outside the realm of fairy tale living.

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

29 August, 2015

Man of My Dreams - a review





Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/05/2011
Series: Sherring Cross #1
Nook Books: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/man-of-my-dreams-johanna-lindsey/1102326461#productInfoTabs
Originally Published by AVON: 1992
Sex Level: 2 of 5



Overview


Wildly unpredictable, the most desirable beauty in the land, Megan Penworthy has set her amorous sights on Ambrose St. James, a man she has never met but has every intention of marrying. And no other suitor will satisfy her - especially not the common, if uncommonly handsome, horse breeder, Devlin Jefferys.

Posing as lowborn Jefferys to escape a potentially fatal confrontation, Sir Ambrose is enthralled by the brazen, duke-hunting redhead. Without revealing his true identity, he vows to seduce and tame her, thereby foiling Megan's plans to marry the man of her dreams. But the notorious rogue never imagined the enchanting schemer would turn out to be the only woman he would ever dream of marrying.

My View


I liked it. I didn't LOVE it, but I certainly liked it and enjoyed the three-day read about two very feisty people who happen upon one another in a most unusual way and end up drawn to one another almost instantly.

Megan Penworthy wasn't one of Johanna's typical leading ladies - refreshing. She had a temper, a mouth, and prideful determination, of course, but she wasn't one of those mulish, confounded sorts who just doesn't get with the program until the last three or four chapters of the book, and so I was glad for that.

Duke, St. James was a bit over-the-top in the alpha male department, but that is to be expected of a novel of this type, in this genre, and at the time of its 90's release date. He was tolerable to my taste level as most male leads go, and because of his tall, dark-featured, handsome looks and his long hair as well as an impeccable body, what's not to love?

He did take her over his knee once, and then he continued to threaten her with more of the same. Now, even when I was around back in the 80's and an intro reader in the late 70's, that type of behavior had and still does not sit well with me, but I get it and am not too squeamish to realize how it comes into play in the seduction category of things.

Still . . .

As for the sexual tension, it was terrific, and as for the sexual content, it was extremely mild. I actually felt a little gypped, if you can believe that. I mean, Devlin was such an over-the-top hottie that you'd think her experience with him would be mind-blowing. I wouldn't know, though, because their emotions before held high, during became muted, and afterwards were . . . either another face-off or just wispy hints of loving memory.

It was weird.

He hated the name Ambrose, and I hate the name Devlin, so it was a stand-off for us both (lol).

Asides


Love Me Forever (Sherring Cross, #2) and The Pursuit (Sherring Cross, #3) complete the series, and I'm anxious to read them both.

In the second novel, Lachlan makes his return. He appeared in the middle of Man of My Dreams and I was instantly enamored! I had hoped he would end up with his own story and am glad to know it is true.

Freddy (Frederick), the Duke's best bud, also deserved a story of his own, but sadly, that isn't the case with #3 in the series, but I do still intend to read #3 as well.

The 90's was the time when Ms. Lindsey decided to stop publishing in paperback form and go with the hardcover, tabletop variety of book that I could not afford and so had to stop reading her work. As a forever friend of the local library, however, and because a majority of those hardcover were eventually paperback printed, I'm able to do some catch-up reading, which is why you're hearing about such old works here.  :-)

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who hasn't read any of Johanna Lindsey's work.

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.


25 August, 2015

In Defense of the ?



Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.





Another sad trend in grammar/punctuation/spelling that has inundated social media sites is the abuse, misuse, and absence entirely of our cute ?

In the image above, we know that both sentences need a ? after them. Just because you ask in a loud voice doesn't make it an exclamation. We used to do the ?! until somebody said enough is enough and that helpful bit of clarity went bye-bye.

And, no, I don't care one fig what APS has to say about it, either.

It is just too much effort to select both the SHIFT and ? keys.

The bottom line is this: lazy.

Lazy people do lazy things, and it usually shows up in their writing as well as their bedroom, or their house in general.

To my way of thinking (and seeing), this is the equivalent of walking into someone's home and seeing dirty dishes piled high in the sink, dust bunnies tumbling along the hardwood floors, used clothing scattered thither and yon, and the distinct odor of  Febreze permeating my nostrils.

Logically, a question asks something that requires an answer. It's just that simple. And, yet . . .


do you want me to guess, or not?


are you asking or telling?


Maybe it was too hard to use it twice?


Are these statements of fact, thoughts that need sharing, or honest-to-goodness questions that need or deserve answers?

My guess is that this is the result of phone texting. Most everyone (but me) uses a phone to get things done today, and maybe those phones make it extra, super, really difficult to locate and press the question mark?

Poor question mark.


run-on sentence with no end in sight


This might be an inane comparison, but how many math nerds have you heard being slandered, put down, or sneered at for being good at math? We like them, don't we? They are smart and therefore to be admired, not scoffed at. Yet, along comes someone with a little grammar knowledge and look out!


the monotone statement/question


Do students take it upon themselves to click their tongues and make that sour face when their teacher tries to teach them about grammar? Would anyone in a math class get ticked off at the teacher for showing them how geometry or algebra works?

Are you going to argue with the first-string violinist as she shows us how to play the violin?

Okay, you might say Math is an exact science and cannot be disputed while grammar tends to sway and change like the wind.

Poppycock.



? first, then a ! would have read much better


Why is it okay to be lazy about grammar but not lazy about, say, quantum physics or architecture? It is fine to write a complete manuscript in lower case minus any punctuation, but it is not alright and frowned upon to flunk a math quiz . . . because we ALL know how important math is, right? Even if you're not a CPA or a scientist, we all use math every single day of our lives, don't we?


they like quote marks but not question marks?


We use our math skills at least as much or as often as we use our writing skills to communicate, right?

Right. Neither have I. Not since my last math class, which was nearly three years ago, have I had the occasion to use or need algebra. I learned how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide in the third grade, and that is basically ALL I ever needed.


can't be bothered to capitalize, either


I actually refuse to join any Facebook 'groups' that abuse proper grammar in their titles, (titles: capitalize words aside from conjunctions), like readers Are The best, or We love books, etc. And, THE SCREAMING CAPS WITH !!!! after them.


they used an erroneous comma, and an erroneous ?
and, why are Beer Belly, Dick, and Wife capitalized?


A few nights ago I perused the free kindle novels in the romance section, and it is a habit of mine to scroll down and read the reviews. Free anything sends up warning signals to be very wary of the purchase unless there is enough proof you are not going to be disappointed.

It struck me as both odd and amazing the amount of backlash a writer receives for not knowing grammar basics prior to uploading a manuscript. And, as 'they' say, piss off your readers and you can kiss them goodbye.

Am I to be led to believe that in novel form it is imperative but for all else it isn't?

So, if this is actually the case, then what is the big deal with wanting or even needing to see the proper use of grammar/spelling/punctuation in any form of writing?

I appreciate the reviewers who warn me that the author doesn't know how to spell, misuses or abuses punctuation, and hasn't got much of a clue about English in general. Whew! Saves me the trouble of finding out on my own and ending up in angry tears over it.





Assuming this is, indeed, a question, then my answer is yes. Yes, I do love it when I find atrocious memes on my FB wall because it creates the opportunity for me to correct them -- and I do laugh when they get 'mad' about it, too.

On the receiving end of this statement/question/run-on sentence: it upsets me when others are permitted to point out my flaws, make me feel small for not understanding algebra, and scoff at my grammar knowledge by being labeled a Grammar Nazi or worse.




As a writer, it is imperative that I know the basics: at least 98% of the rules, and to hone those skills to perfection.

For someone who loves to create memes, well . . . it would be nice if they knew what they were doing before they hit the SEND button, but that kind of thinking just makes me a mean, bad person.
you mean, like I do after seeing this on my FB wall?


carry on... I mean, carry on?



Secrets of a Summer Night review





Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Avon; The Wallflowers, Book 1 edition (October 26, 2004)
Language: English
Amazon Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Summer-Night-Wallflowers-Book/dp/0060091290




Synopsis


The Wallflowers
Four young ladies at the side of the ballroom make a pact to help each other find husbands . . . no matter what it takes
Proud and beautiful Annabelle Peyton could have her pick of suitors — if only she had a dowry. Her family is on the brink of disaster, and the only way Annabelle can save them is to marry a wealthy man. Unfortunately, her most persistent admirer is the brash Simon Hunt, a handsome and ambitious entrepreneur who wants her as his mistress.
Annabelle is determined to resist Simon's wicked propositions, but she can't deny her attraction to the boldly seductive rogue, any more than he can resist the challenge she presents. As they try to outmaneuver each other, they find themselves surrendering to a love more powerful than they could have ever imagined. But fate may have other plans — and it will take all of Annabelle's courage to face a peril that could destroy everything she holds dear.

My Take


With a computer always at the ready, it still strikes me as odd that I never remember to check online for series publications so that I'm reading the FIRST first and not somewhere down the line first.

Of the six total novels in the Wallflower series, this is my 3rd read -- but it is the first in the series.

*sigh*

Regardless, I loved it. I knew I would love it even before I began reading Annabelle's pathetic tale of woe that turned happily-ever-after.

It was cute, humorous, and page-turning night after dreamy night for me.

Simon Hunt is one of Lisa's hunk-i-er male protagonists, and he'll be on my mind for days now, thank heavens.

my vision of Simon Hunt
Oh, Simon ... you overly masculine, tall, dark-featured, and utterly irresistible hunk of man, you!

Which is why I buy, read, and get so lost in these books, by the way.

The men.

The well-developed, pull-you-in-effortlessly male leads (and sometimes the antagonists) that are so easy to envision, gain a feel for as if they live next door, and end up rooting for regardless of their shortcomings.

And, I suppose a lot of young women TODAY would say these men from back in the day, are rife with those shortcomings.

Not me.

I'm the sort who almost wishes things had stayed the same in some regards. Like chivalry and manners, being a complete gentleman and showing respect toward any and all women.

The Writing


This came out in 2004, and I still say it was around this time that the beginning of the end occurred for smooth, flawless (well, there was one type-o that read mean instead of meant) wording; head-hopping and description of everything from a flower garden to a bedspread (counterpane).

I find zero wrong with these types of instances occurring in any novel, and I'm dismayed to know that it is because of the level of intelligence on the part of the reader today that has us struggling to understand a majority of what is being published now.

Simple and precise is not always best.

I will admit to getting a little headache-y as the author described the Foundry that Simon owned. Technical babble that went right over my head and made me start to skim.

Also, there were two left-unsaid parts: one where Annabelle falls ill at a ball and Simon rushes in to help. He tells Lillian to go find Westcliff (the homeowner) and Annabelle's mother and have one of them fetch the doctor. Then he tells Lillian's younger sister, Daisy, that he has a sinking suspicion that Annabelle is worse off than she presumes before he hurries her up 3 flights of stairs to her bedchamber.

Later, when Westcliff arrives, he tells Simon that Lillian had accused him of being a thoughtless Earl for leaving the grounds rife with vipers.

Now, I went back and re-read the scene and still couldn't find where Lillian would be privy to that knowledge. She couldn't have know what struck Annabelle down because she wasn't there, and yet ...

The second bit of confusion occurred toward the end, after Simon and Annabelle come together. She told us that Simon had his moods, and that one occurred after she had quoted an author about love and Simon scowled at her before saying that he hopes she doesn't intend to continue quoting lame author remarks about life.

I waited and waited for an explanation for his mood and the reason why he said what he did, but that never occurred.

The Discomfort Level


With every novel I've ever read by Diva Kleypas, there has always been a 3 out of 5 degree of sexual content involved. I say 3 because I am assuming most everyone else doesn't mind or even likes to read about such things as oral and finger penetration, but not me.

I almost get the feeling that the author relies on past writing for the sex scenes because they are basically the same thing: the first encounter is always cautious and overly gentle with her being timid or wary while he coaxes and teases until she surrenders.

And, always, always with the oral presentation after a finger poke or three.

Not my cup of tea.

Recommendation


I am not enjoying Lisa's latest novels in present-day using first-person, so I look forward to the day when she publishes another of these historicals.

I will ALWAYS highly recommend her work to anyone who enjoys historical romance because I think she has a way with words, she knows her history, and she creates some of the most memorable characters ever.



22 August, 2015

10 Things ... My Take




Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

From ThoughtCatalog.com comes an article entitled: 10 Things that Happen when You're Obsessed with Writing. And, here are my responses to those 10 things.

1. You’re overly conscious of other people’s traits

No, not entirely. In fact, I can be rather oblivious to even the obvious about others. I tend to listen more than I observe and observe setting more than the people inside it. I can tell you what trees are growing and the flowers planted in window boxes, smells, sounds, and traffic volume, the accent giveaways, and even what a majority of the folk seem to like wearing, but as for them personally ... even if I did have a hunch, it could be wrong.

2. And your surroundings

Well, yeah. I just said that, so ...

3. You’re always jotting ideas down

Not always. In fact, I rarely do this. And, believe it or not, it's been a safe bet thus far. I am not so far along in age that I'm as forgetful or absentminded as I presume to become. Yet, I know this is folly. Now, when I wake up from a terrific dream, I'll reach under the bed for my notebook/pen and jot THAT down, because we all know how fading dreams become with time.

4. No piece is ever good enough

Guilty! Gosh, how I wish this wasn't true. Even when I'm satisfied (or THINK I am) about a story I want to write or am writing or have written, that nagging doubt thing just refuses to give me any peace. I actually haven't gone back to re-read anything I've published ... yet. I'm too afraid that I'll end up rewriting the whole thing, which is a habit of mine, and I certainly can't do that with something on the market, now can I?

5. You read to procrastinate

Oh, yeah. And, you know what? I believe it has something to do with #4. There is always a story inside my head that needs writing, and it always seems like a best-seller, too. I've got the plot, characters, scenes, action down solid until I actually start typing, and then things start to veer off in an entirely new direction or simply peter out. So! I make the excuse that by reading the work of others, that I am somehow reigning in that wanderlust mentality of mine. It also helps (reading while writing) to brush up on and fine-tune some of my writing weaknesses, I think.

"Ah, so THAT'S how she hooks / entices / sets the scene / describes things / uses dialogue tags ..." etc.

6. Writing helps you get through things

No. Well, no in the sense that my reasoning isn't the same as the article author's. I do not write as therapy and never have. However, writing IS therapy in that the ability to escape my reality for a few hours a day is great and stress reducing. Right now, for example, I haven't written a word in more than two weeks because of current medical procedures. I'm just too antsy/anxious about the test results to be able to concentrate on anything else. I've never been able to multi-task, and writing fantasy while the possibility of death looms overhead just doesn't mix.

7. You have tons of unfinished pieces

But, of course! Like the article author, I, too, have a laptop folder filled with half-written and partially thought-out pieces. Images of people, clothing, places, and things that might fit into one of my stories, a growing list of NAMES for male and female characters, and a boat-load of Pinterest posts dedicated to things like synonyms, thesaurus help for certain words, and how best to use a semi-colon.

These are what I call my IDEAS and have labeled the folder as such. Sometimes it just happens that a story idea starts out sounding incredible, but somewhere along the way it loses steam and I abandon it for something else. That doesn't mean I'll never go back and read that piece to try and discover some way of resuscitation, but that remains to be seen.

8. You can work on one sentence for hours

Not necessarily, but I am in the habit of re-reading a paragraph or even a chapter trying to make it work. I'm fairly confident about each sentence I type, and I don't worry too much about grammar/punctuation as I go along ... I save that for edit mode. But, yes, there have been times when I'm just not sure about what is written or how it ties in with a previous scene and if it makes enough sense to fly with the reader. I worry more about being vague than I do about sentence structure.

9. One sentence can move you to tears

In other people's work, yes. Well, to be more precise, not so much a single sentence but a scene. I have actually choked up a few times by becoming emotionally attached to a single character in someone's novel. I root for them, am fond of their progress, and really get worked up when something goes wrong in their life. As for my own writing, I did get a bit melancholy writing the death scene in Sing to Me.

10. You feel empty if you don’t write

No, not empty; more like guilty. I feel bad for myself when I don't write -- like I called in sick when I'm not. It doesn't depress me or bring me down; I just know I should be writing when I'm not. I get hooked on Facebook games, Asian dramas, and reading other people's writing instead. Which I like to call 'study time' as a way of lessening the guilt ;-)



16 August, 2015

Creating Ads



I've been playing around with and creating my own ads, banners, Facebook profile covers, etc.

It's fun!





And, a lot of time-consuming work, too.

But, it's still fun!