The Fireman Who Loved Me (The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel #1)

The Fireman Who Loved MeBy Jennifer Bernard

Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher

Captain Brody has been badly burned by his ex-wife. When he orders Ryan, his star fireman, to participate in a bachelor auction, little does he know he’s the one who will lose his heart.

Melissa McGuire is a brainy local news producer trying to get her career back on track. She can’t believe she’s being set up by her grandmother, who bid on a date with a fireman at the auction. She prefers the artsy type, not the tough, commanding , though clearly attractive, fire chief.

And yet, they can’t resist each other, especially once her ambitious news anchor assigns her the “Thanksgiving with the Firefighters” news special. Add in her grandmother’s matchmaking and the combined efforts of Captain Brody’s crew…can Brody help being the first bachelor to succumb to love, and the crazy rollercoaster ride of the Curse?

Goodreads Summary

This was probably a bad idea even before I started reading. My brother is a fireman and I guarantee you, there are not a lot of hot bachelors just sitting around his firehouse. I’ve met one that I’d call “interesting,” but he was older than me and frankly, that would make him prehistoric. I have to give it to the author, she did get a lot of the technical stuff right but the rest of the story was tangled, cluttered and a little lacking in romance.

Melissa McGuire’s grandmother is tired of waiting for her stop seeing men who are all wrong for her and is taking the bull by the horns – or the hose – and is going to buy her a date at the auction of the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel. Maybe Nelly wasn’t quite…clear when she asked Melissa to meet her at the hotel for her birthday that this would be a beefcake auction, but what’s a grandmother to do when she needs to get her granddaughter settled down? Melissa turns tail and never sees Nelly plunk down a huge amount of money on the supremely gorgeous Ryan who is a little, uh, dismayed at the thought of a date with a woman of her vintage, not knowing the date is for Melissa.

Ryan puts on the puppy dog eyes until his Captain finally agrees to take the date in his place. Harry Brody is a bit of a legend, known for his calm in the face of danger and the fact that he’s never lost a man. He’s shocked – pleased – when he finds out the date is with Melissa, although his plans included the Senior Specials. The thing is, as attracted as they are to each other, they also manage to push each other’s buttons and they go from biting each other’s heads off to sucking each other’s faces off. No happy medium. Then into their relationship, a million complications arise and that’s where the plot went haywire.

Melissa is a television news producer at a small-market station and her main job seems to be corralling the high-maintenance, rather trampy anchor Ella. Ella pretty much becomes Melissa’s shadow for the story, hanging out with her at the firehouse where one of the major plotlines develops then for two more at the television station where more drama is happening. I didn’t like her – if she had to be the villain, fine. She still didn’t need to be everywhere especially when you added in large appearances by Harry’s ex-wife and Melissa’s sleazy ex-boss. Then there’s a started, dropped, picked up, dropped and picked up news story that Melissa was supposedly passionate about that was pretty important. I can give you another half dozen semi-significant storylines that also were running, all at the same time Harry and Melissa’s story was going on.

I really could have liked Harry and Melissa’s romance if it had been allowed to develop outside of all of the noise of the rest of the story. Harry was my kind of hero – not too alpha but strong enough to know how to be. He’s kind, caring, loyal and protective by nature and yummy and sexy without even trying. I liked Melissa too – she was damn good at her job and at managing Ella without her figuring it out. She’d had a big blow to her ego and took a lot of things too personally but she made it all better nicely. They just never had time for romance. It was, “you’re a pain,” to “you make me hot,” to “let’s have sex all the time,” to the bad stuff to the good stuff. No sweet romance, no fun times talking. The air was sucked out of the story by everyone else.

My Summary: If I knew the next book in the series focused more on the couple and had far, far fewer distractions, I’d probably pick it up because I did like the way the author wrote the couple. I just could not enjoy this one because I was constantly distracted by all of the other stuff happening, mostly Ella. I’ll even let it go that there are no scuzzy-looking guys in this firehouse and they don’t swear like sailors or tell morbid jokes, just please give me some romance!

My Rating: C

Advertisements

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)

The Immortal RulesBy Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Netgalley

In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

Goodreads Summary

I’m sorry to say, I didn’t hate this but I also didn’t like it as much as I expected to. A good part of the reason was the way the plot was divided – I’m not a fan of books which aren’t sweeping epics being divided into Parts with a capital P and are nearly disconnected from each other. I don’t generally like stories where the characters just wander around on foot for chapter after chapter either, my love of The Wizard of Oz excepted. And, well – it was predictable. From the characters to the plot, I had a vague feeling that I’d read or watched a lot of this before.

Allie is an Unregistered living in the Fringe, shorthand for an unmarked human blood donor to the vampires living in the untamed free-for-all space between the vampire city and the place the rabids claim. Unregistereds are forced to forage and steal to eat, books are prohibited and the punishment for getting caught doing anything the vampires don’t like is hanging which is slightly preferable to getting ripped apart by the rabids.

When her usual places to look for scraps of food to steal or scavenge are empty, Allie ventures into the rabids’ territory, and finds enough to get the other three members of her loose little gang to come with her to grab as much as they can. On the way back, they’re attacked by rabids and Allie is mortally injured. A vampire offers her the chance at immortal life and despite her hatred of vampires, Allie takes it.

Part II fires up with Allie’s maker Kanin immediately telling her she needs to forget everything about her human life. When she balks, he tells her he’ll toss her out – that’s his favorite threat, as it turns out. He offers to train her in all things bloodsucker while he spends a lot of time reading papers which probably means he’s Up To No Good. Kanin has some issues with people and they come back to try and bite (heh) him in the rear as he hustles Allie along into Part III.

This is the longest section and most frustrating part of the story for me. Allie is cast out of the vampire city, can’t stay in the Fringe and obviously can’t sit around with the rabids, so she sets out to see what’s past their territory. So she walks. And walks. Eventually she comes across a small group led by a messiah-type named Jeddediah, in search of Eden. The quiet, steadfast Zeke and little Caleb are the only two who seem to want Allie with them – the rest are either reticent or openly hostile. Fortunately for Allie and her new tendency to go up in smoke in sunlight, they travel at night to avoid the rabids. The group expresses hatred for vampires, so obviously, she hides what she is and just as obviously it eventually comes out with the predictable results because I think I’ve either seen this before or I saw it coming from a mile away. And that in a nutshell was the crux of my problem with the book.

Allie was most definitely a kick-ass girl who could take care of herself. This is a blend of post-apocalyptic, dystopian paranormal something-or-other and in this world, it’s every man for himself, a philosophy Allie embraces. She’s nearly feral in the beginning, all snarly and pitiless. By the time she got to Part II, she was more confident with her new vampire strength and for the most part, I liked that she got less snarly and more snarky. Her internal monologue was pure emo though and it lasted forever. It was one of my least favorite things about Meghan from Kagawa’s Iron Fey series as well – the characters both have a tendency to whine forever in their heads about what they are/have become and how horrible it is, that they’re monsters who don’t deserve to be happy, etc., etc. Allie’s need for blood was inconsistent which made me sigh really loudly.

Her situation with Zeke gave me mixed feelings. On one hand, I know what I was supposed to feel for the possibility of the two of them together. Zeke is a nice guy, selfless, kind, loyal and devoted which also sounds like a cocker spaniel. But no, he likes Allie a lot and supports her when he can. I can see Allie being drawn to his caretaker persona, liking how safe he made her feel. When he finds out what she was hiding, he feels betrayed but learns to separate the propaganda from the person. On the other hand, that’s sort of all there is to him. He’s a cardboard cutout of Prince Charming until he finds out what she is and the clichés kick in.

The action eventually picks up quite a bit and the story sort of got a little twisty (but with a lot more traveling, sigh), but it was a little to late for me by then.  I liked the way it ended, not on a real cliffhanger but more what felt like an entry to a Part IV.

My Summary: This is much darker and more violent than Kagawa’s Iron Fey series but I’m sure it’s going to be successful, mostly because of Allie. She seemed like a great sort of superhero character and if she’s anything like the Iron Fey’s Meghan, she’ll only get better as the series goes on. I would hope that the storyline would too, that it would develop into something unique with unexpected twists and deeper emotional relationships since I know the author is definitely capable of it. For me, this wasn’t a strong opening book to a series and I don’t know if I’ll continue. Check out some other reviews though before deciding on this one.

My Rating: C

Oldsoul

Dan Haring

Publisher: Pendrell Publishing
Publication Date: Apr 24, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Publisher

Jason Gouvas doesn’t want to believe he has special abilities or that he’s an Oldsoul– a vessel for the souls of people who have passed away, but the dead girl in his mind can be very persuasive.

Her name is Erin, and through her Jason is able to access the knowledge and skills of the souls within him. And with a group of power-hungry immortals bent on destroying the Oldsouls and overthrowing humanity, he’s going to need them all.

Goodreads Summary

I have a confession to make… I have no idea goes on in a man’s mind. Shocking, I know. It’s for this very reason that I’m hesitant to read a book written from a guy’s POV in first person. I’m always afraid I won’t be able to connect with the character, or that I won’t understand his thought processes behind his decisions because he’s a dude and I’m not. But, I spend all day with an 18mo and I crave a little adventure in my life, so when we were approached about participating in the blog tour I said “heck, why not? I’ll give it a try!” And so I did.

Jason is in the middle of getting his lunch handed to him when he hears the strangest thing: a woman’s voice calling out, sounding suspiciously like it’s coming from inside his own head. Days later, Jason wakes up completely healed in a monastery in the middle of nowhere. If it wasn’t for the lovely face he wakes up to, he would have bolted the instant he woke up. Instead, he waits until the monks tell him a crazy story about how he’s a vessel for old souls reaching back thousands of years, and then bolts. It’s then that the woman who saved him before speaks up, and tells him everything the monks told him was true. The voice in his mind introduces herself as Erin, and tells him that his physical body does indeed house thousands of souls. Jason isn’t your typical oldsoul either, he’s the Ancient of Days, the one prophesied to bring an end to the war between the oldsouls and their bitter enemy, the Athanatos.

Jason immediately begins training to fight, and is soon sent out on his first mission. He is tasked with killing a powerful Athanatos, but the plan goes awry when Jason and his crew are ambushed. They do kill the intended target, but Mela (the lovely face from above) is kidnapped, and Jason ends up in the clutches of someone from his past. It seems the monks weren’t entirely up front with the status of the war, and the lines blur as enemies become friends, and friends become enemies.

I had a few issues with the book, but thankfully none of them were gender related. I enjoyed Jason’s character for the most part. He was a likeable guy, but he didn’t invoke strong feelings of passion or anything. He had a sarcastic sense of humor that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t, and he was a lot like that awkward guy in class that is really nice, but will never go beyond the “strictly a lab partner” line. The world and premise of the story was unique and interesting, and I enjoyed the action scenes and the twists.

However.

I struggled with the writing style. It was choppy, and what could have been said in one or two sentences was said in five. Can sentences be too short? If so, then that was definitely the problem here. Ex: They walked to the car. They got in the car. They drove to the warehouse. They each received duffel bags full of weapons… and so on and so forth. When I’m reading a book, I don’t want to be bothered with the writing style, grammatical errors or other editing issues. I want to be taken away from my mundane life into that of the fantastical and make-believe. Unfortunately, Oldsoul didn’t achieve that for me.

And the romance. Dear heavens. I use that term loosely, by the way, since I wouldn’t use that word to describe the relationship between Jason and Mela. First of all, she hardly gets any page time, which means she hardly ever gets face-to-face time with Jason. By the end of the story all I know about her (and what I know is based on what Jason knows) is that her favorite color is dark gray, and she’s good with a bow and arrow. That’s it.  As an avid romance reader, it’s difficult to believe in the love story when I don’t know the characters or feel the chemistry. I would have much preferred the story if they had been friends instead of a couple, or if the romance part had been taken out all together. Although, since Jason’s motto was “save the world, get the girl” I’m not quite sure how not having a girl would have worked out.

My Summary: I wanted Oldsoul to be a success, I really did. The author has created such a unique and interesting world, and it has such potential. I just couldn’t ignore the fluidity issues in style, and the romance needed to have a bit more back bone. I probably could have moved past the lack of romance, if not for the fact that most of Jason’s decisions were based on Mela’s status and safety. It just wasn’t believable. While Oldsoul didn’t work for me, I would definitely recommend giving it a shot and forming your own opinion. Who knows, maybe this author’s particular writing style is what you’ve been looking for.

My Rating: C

In the Service of the King (Vampire Warrior Kings #)

In the Service of the KingBy Laura Kaye

Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne
Publication Date: February 1, 2012
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Purchased

Kael, Warrior King of the Vampires, loathes the Night of the Proffering. He needs the blood of either his mate or a human virgin to maintain his strength, but hasn’t enjoyed the ritual since he lost his mate centuries ago. Kael doesn’t want a new companion, yet his resolve is tested when he lays eyes on his new offering, Shayla McKinnon. He is drawn to Shayla’s beauty and poise…and the submission she offers. She is eager to give him anything he wishes, including her innocence, to please him. Will Kael give in to their overwhelming desire—even if it means risking Shayla’s life?

Goodreads Summary

I really love Laura Kaye’s writing and nearly everything she’s written is on my re-read list, especially the incredible Hearts in Darkness. I knew this was a shorter-form story just by the price (unlike Cait, I get along great with novellas most of the time), but I was a little taken aback by just how short it felt.

The Warrior King of the Vampires has been stretching out his feedings to once every three months, the maximum possible for himself and his fellow warriors. They can’t feed until he does and he despises his options – find a mate or continue to use the Proffereds, virgins sent to donate blood. He lost his first mate centuries ago and he’s decided he won’t open himself up to that kind of pain again so he impersonalizes his contact with the Proffereds. He isn’t able to keep his distance from Shayla, the young woman who’s in the ceremonial chamber waiting for him though – she bears the hallmarks of his potential mate.

Kaye’s ability to create engrossing characters – heroes that are sexy, strong and vulnerable and heroines that are strong, smart and compassionate – have captivated me since I read my first book by her. Shayla is exactly what I’d expect. She’s driven to exact justice in the name of her murdered sister and has dedicated her life to making herself worthy of being a Proffered for Kael and the warriors. She’s open to what she could be with Kael but she’s not necessarily willing to give up who she is or what she wants either. Her backstory took up what I thought was just the right amount of space for the book and in a way that made sense, where it fit.

Kael’s, not so much. I don’t think I can go all the way and say I didn’t like him but he had some qualities that bugged me. A lot – as in most – of the book is from his side of things and he’s sort of a glum guy. I’ll admit the whole, “lost my first love/mate and can’t/won’t ever love again,” trope drives me up the wall, so that was a bit of a strike against poor Kael from the start. He’s determined never to be happy again, until he wants to be. Then everyone has to be.

Add in a nice little action or some outside tension and that would have made a nice little novella. It didn’t even need to be anything big. Shayla’s sister was murdered by a type of vampire called the Soul Eaters, who drink their victim’s blood and then take their souls. Kael’s warriors are also on a mission to stop them – the Soul Eaters are mentioned more than once and there were actually a couple of places that I thought we might see one of them pop up. But…nothing.

From what I’ve read before – although I know there isn’t exactly a “standard” measurement – a general novella runs around 100 pages-ish. This is slightly smaller at 78 but to me, it felt even shorter. The Harlequin Nocturne Cravings series is specifically for paranormal novellas that are a little spicy, standalone and character-focused, so while I did understand that we weren’t going to be talking about an all-action book, I was hoping for some sort of external conflict to offer a little balance.

My Summary: I still love Laura Kaye’s writing style, still love the way she crafts her characters and can’t argue that Shayla and Kael are well-written. This book seems unformed to me though, more a series of scenes rather than a cohesive story that contains all of the elements that make a reading experience really come together for me. I got my HEA but without some sort of conflict beyond the couple stressing out over each other, my heartbeat never raced enough that I had any particularly rush when it came.

My Rating: C+

Rules of Negotiation

Rules of NegotiationBy Inara Scott

Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher

She made all the rules…

After juggling the demands of her career and the stress of caring for her ailing mother, high-powered corporate attorney Tori Anderson doesn’t have time for relationships—but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to feel like a woman. When Brit Bencher, NYC’s most eligible bachelor, offers a no-strings attached fling, it sounds like exactly what she needs. But what will she do when her Brit decides he won’t take “one night stand” for an answer?

…until he started breaking them.

Brit Bencher will do anything to take care of his family, even seduce Tori Anderson in the hopes of getting her to reveal confidential information about one of her clients. But for the first time in his life, he finds he’s falling for a woman. When Tori uncovers his lies, will he lose his chance with her forever?

Goodreads Summary

This is my second book from this author, and after having a pleasant experience the first time around, I was genuinely looking forward to reading Rules of Negotiation. I’d been craving a bit of a legal romance, and I had hoped this book would hit the spot. I guess I went into it expecting a Julie James novel, and perhaps that’s where I went wrong. This book was a bit bland for me. There wasn’t anything intrinsically wrong with the book, it just wasn’t that memorable. It was a bit predictable, and the characters were types I’ve seen often during my reading.

Tori is a lawyer fighting for survival in a predominantly male profession, who believes her career defines her. She comes with a bit of baggage, and finds it difficult to leave behind even though this man she’s fallen in love with makes her feel wanted and needed. Brit (love that name by the way!) is extrememly business savvy, but a little slow when it comes to his personal relationships. Even with those of his siblings, who he feels a certain paternal responsibility for as his parents are a little.. spacy. Brit becomes involved with Tori because he thinks she is the last saving grace for his depressed younger sister. One of her very important clients, a very reclusive important client, heads up the company his sister desperately wants to work for. Tori figures out the deception and plays mad for awhile, until she ultimately succumbs to his sexy charm. Enter Tori’s baggage. Brit decides that he wants more than just a fling, and Tori can’t handle the pressure and bails. Then there is the obligatory separation where each party lives in agony, thinking it’s the best way when really if one (cough Tori cough) would just compromise, it’d all work out just fine.

See what I mean? Rules of Negotiation was good, it was. I wasn’t rolling my eyes or agonizing myself during the read. It was just.. all right. I actually read this book a couple of weeks ago, but have struggled with writing the review. These types of reviews are always the hardest to write for me. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t anything to gush over either. Maybe the creative muse has abandoned me, but I’m not sure how much more to expand on that.

My Summary: A quick but predictable read, Rules of Negotiation was entertaining for the few hours I spent with it, but I probably won’t be re-reading it anytime soon. I will say that it did satisfy my craving for a legal romance, even if it wasn’t as enthralling as I would have liked. That’s a bonus, I guess. 😉

My Rating: C+

Pretty Crooked

Elisa Ludwig

Publisher: Katerine Tegen Books
Publication Date: Mar 13, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: Netgalley

Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.

Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”-known to everyone as the Glitterati-without them suspecting a thing, is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.

The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her-evening the social playing field between the have and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan.

But when the cops start investigating the string of burglaries at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could he wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?

Goodreads Summary

Willa has moved around numerous times in her young life. Pretty much every fall semester she is in a different state, attending yet another new school. She has the “new girl” routine down pat. One day her mom announces that she’s sold a bunch of her paintings to an art gallery and are now flush with funds, so she’s decided to move them to Paradise Valley, AZ so Willa can attend an elite private school. This will be their last move, and Willa is excited to make friends that will actually last longer than a year.

Willa’s first day of school starts off rough when she is almost run over in the parking lot by one of her classmates. She must have done something right in another life, however, because the first girl she meets is one of the most popular girls in her grade and a part of the Glitterati: a group of the richest, most well dressed kids in school. She is accepted into the group, and Willa can’t believe she is one of them. She lives in complete bliss for awhile as part of the popular group, until the Glitterati start showing their true natures. Not everyone at Valley Prep is rich and can afford to follow current fashion trends, and the Glitterati have made it their personal mission to bully the girls that don’t quite make the cut. Willa can no longer tolerate the bullying, and devises a plan to steal from the rich, and give a little power back to the poor.

I am disappointed with Pretty Crooked. One of the main ideas of the book are the moral issues of bullying and peer pressure. It happens in schools everywhere, regardless of whether it’s a rich prep school or an inner city public school. It’s tough and real, and I’m happy that Willa wanted to make a stand. It’s the way she went about it that rubbed me wrong. She wanted to fight an injustice with another injustice, and her reasoning behind the decision was flimsy and shallow. Willa had no prior record or history of doing anything illegal, and so her first thought is to start stealing? It didn’t make sense, and it seemed so out of character for the Willa I knew up until that point. The whole Robin Hood premise didn’t come together well at all. And, frankly, I feel like even the smallest comparison is kind of an insult to his legend.

There were a few other minor story lines going on, some issues with Willa’s mom and some top secret prank that the boy she was crushing on pulled. It was a little frustrating that neither of those story lines were resolved. We still have no idea what the heck is up with Willa’s mom, nor what the super secret prank was that finally got Aidan kicked out of Valley Prep. I also felt that the ending was awkwardly done. It ends suddenly, but then we’re given an epilogue that is a continuation of the same scene the book ended in. Uhh.. random. The ending also leaves room for a next book, but I’m not real clear on what the direction or the purpose of the series would be. I wish I could say more on that subject, but it ventures too far into spoilery territory so I’ll keep my lips sealed.

My Summary: Pretty Crooked really didn’t work for me. Willa was an okay character until she went slightly crazy and started stealing things. The book pretty much went downhill after that. It didn’t even have a good romance to entertain me and get me through all the other junk. There wasn’t even any good flirting! Gah. Overall, this probably won’t be a series I’ll continue with and while I thought the concept was interesting, it just didn’t come together well.

My Rating: C