Sunday, October 24, 2010

Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie *****

What a fun story this was! It's a Romantic Comedy Ghost Story With Kids, as Crusie herself describes it in a very funny interview with Susan Elizabeth Phillips. And I listened to it and the narrator, Angela Dawe, was wonderful! She has a youthful narrator voice - not child-like, but not too mature, which is nice; however, she did all voices, all ages, wonderfully, consistently, so that you were never unsure who was talking.

There is one thing about Crusie's writing - she does write "he said" and "she said" a lot which doesn't bother me when reading, but when hearing it, it gets redundant. Ok that's my only criticism. I guess other authors leave out the "he said" "she said" when there's a long dialogue, or maybe they use different verbs, like "she sighed" or "he intoned". I like "he murmured" - that's my favorite. Hey, at least this narrator didn't "heh heh" every time that one annoying character did it - the narrator just read what Crusie wrote and didn't try to add sound effects!!

The heroine is Andie - she left her ex-husband North 10 years ago, after a passionate courtship, whirlwind wedding and 1 year of wedded... boredom. He got so involved in the family business he all but forgot about her. They divorced, and she spent the next 10 years wandering - looking for a place to light. She finally meets the man who adores her, and although she hasn't said YES to his question, figures it is time to flush North from her mind so she can wed this new guy in peace.

North has a couple of problems, and when Andie shows up to give back all the uncashed alimony checks he sent her, he decides to ask her help. She agrees to spend 1 month with his new wards, 8 and 12 years old, for $10,000 - all she has to do is get them ready to move from their ancient, moat-surrounded and haunted house, something 3 previous nannies have not been able to do. Oh, yeah, one of his problems IS Andie - he's never really gotten over her.

Crusie writes great characters - Andie's mother is a tarot-reading hippie, North's mother is a ball-busting-bitch, North's younger brother is a ne'er-do-well womanizing rogue who manages to involve a career-climbing tv journalist, a parapsychologist and a whole bunch of other characters in the shenanigans which involve ghosts, death, and moving on. Of course, there are also the children - they're both a little odd, having to deal with ghosts in their everyday lives, but normal otherwise, once Andie reaches out to them.

And in addition to a Happily Ever After for Andie and North, there's a sort of trailer at the end - another HEA? Or a cliff-hanger? It was so much fun, and I ended up sitting up half the night, playing Sudoku (or is it Soduko?) and listening because I couldn't put it down. (should have been knitting - xmas is coming!!)

It seems I've heard Angela Dawe before - she narrated the 2nd in Nora Robert's Bride Quartet, which I've read, and the 3rd, which is in my TBR list. I give her a 4.9-star because, frankly, she's got to stand in line behind my absolute favorites: Anna Fields/Kate Fleming, Davina Porter, Barbara Rosenblat - and it may be a few years of experience for her to reach their 5 star status! The book is 5 stars - I loved it!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Let Me Be The One by Jo Goodman ****

I read this first in April 2008, along with the other 3 in the Compass Club series, but didn't write full reviews. I merely commented that I liked them all about 4 stars, but not as keepers. So when I found them for free downloads of audio books at the library, I figured - what the heck - I'll listen to them as well.

I think the 4 star rating stays. I did enjoy it, but not as a favorite; I will probably listen to all 4 but plan to measure them out and not do them back-to-back.

The story is of 4 friends from school, as adults it's the Regency era I believe. The boys all have potential titles, each of which has a "direction" in it: North, East, South, West. In this one, the hero has come into his title - Earl of Northam. He meets Elizabeth Penrose while at a house party, and pursues her.

Libby, although the daughter of an earl, has a sordid secret that keeps her from going out on the marriage mart. Since revealing it would be a spoiler, I'll just say she figures she'll never experience love _again_. She has a disfiguring limp and isn't much for the marriage mart niceties like painting and needlework.

Of course, the Compass Club adult men are all now spies - or something - it's just implied; there is also a Mystery of the Gentleman Thief, a cat burglar who is not only stealing jewels during grand galas but has also managed to obtain traitorous papers. Northam is on a mission to uncover the thief's identity and get the papers back. How can Libby help?

Because all 4 books happen at about the same time, we hear of the other 3 men and just teensy parts of their stories during this book.

The narrator is Virginia Leishman. She has a wonderful, very proper-sounding British accent (acquired as a child, having been raised in England, per Audiofile magazine online) that worked well with the story.

4 stars

Cutting Loose by Susan Andersen **(*)

My first review of this book from 2008 was of the paperback, and it is the first in a trilogy, so now that I've read the second (the third hasn't been published and might not be) AND the audio of this one, I'm going to go ahead and give it a 3rd star to bring it to the "it's Ok but mediocre" level.

so here's the first review:

arg. One of my favorite authors, and this new release is a stinker.

I think it's a combination of things that I really don't like:

(1) I don't like the voice of this book. Too... too much jargon, too much hard to follow banter that doesn't sound like people really talk. And jeez, this guy Dev - come'on - no guy thinks like this, do they??
2010 audio comment: the "voice" of the book is slightly easier to listen to, even if the narrator isn't that good.

(2) Forced - we're forced to read all this odd psychobabble about Jane the heroine and her parents and how because they're so dramatic, she's the complete opposite. We're forced into believing these 3 women are best friends forever - it's a trilogy of women thing. I have liked the 3-women premise before but this time I just don't get it. Which one was the "blond friend" anyway? Couldn't she have just referred to them by their names?
2010 audio comment: now that I have read the second book in the trilogy AND heard this audiobook, it really was easier to keep track of the women since I wasn't able to skim. The psychobabble was still reaching though.

(3) Oh puhleez, the villain! Give me a f*cking break. I skimmed most of his scenes.
2010 audio comment: still think the villain doesn't come across as a 3 dimensional, potentially real person - still too comic-book-ish for me, especially given this one doesn't have Andersen's great humor

(4) The storyline - the women inherit a mansion from a rich old woman? It just didn't ring true.
2010 audio comment: I still find this storyline implausible. But then, I read time travel, so I guess I'll go with the leap of faith.

There was more. Do Americans of Irish descent actually call their fathers "Da"? Maybe, but then their speech pattern was a little... Irish... too so were they actually Irish? Or just stereotypical?
2010 audio comment: the narrator - who wasn't great - did not give them any Irish accent and the "Da" seemed out of place. Aunt Eileen's brogue wasn't good either.

I started to give this 3 stars. I did in fact read the whole thing, after all. But then as I thought about it, I realized I. Did. Not. Like. It. (that is a direct reference to the book by the way.) So even though I've loved so many of Andersen's books, I just can't find it in me to like this one.

But it's worth a credit on PBS where some hapless fool, uh I mean some other member has it wishlisted. And hey - there's even a review there from someone who did like it. Go figure.

OK, I'll do a little bit of description.

Three women, friends from elementary school. Heroine: Jane - parents third-rate actors, overly dramatic, quasi-alcoholic. BFFs Ava and Poppy - one is blonde, one is red-headed, one is rich, one is Darma from Darma and Greg - but who can remember which is which? Not me.

Irish American family, 4 brothers running a construction business; 2 are married, 2 single; 1 is undergoing chemo, so our hero Devlin comes home from his usual life of sailing yachts overseas to help out the family business.

The women inherit a Seattle mansion. Jane is a junior curator at a museum that inherited jewels and clothing from same deceased. The 3 BFF women hire the Irish American fellows to renovate.

Dev and Jane have instant across-the-room chemistry, then have hot monkey sex, then - oh noes! - fall in love.

Meanwhile a really really evil bad guy steals things from the mansion.

OK, see where it is going? Neither do I.

2 stars.
2010 Audio Comments - yeah, I can give it a qualified 3 stars, but the narrator wasn't great. She wasn't AWFUL but her reading was sing-songy, and her men's voices - especially considering how low her own voice as narrator is - were done as if they were teens in the middle of changing voices. She used a sort of hoarse sound for Dev, the hero. And I'm afraid she didn't give Andersen's attempt at sounding like 20-somethings (20+10 in this case) any credence - she just read it like she read the narration, so the excess of jargon fell flat. Didn't work in my head reading it; didn't work in my head hearing this narrator speak it. Maybe it calls for a 20-something who talks like that to read it.

thank goodness for free library downloads

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Proposition by Judith Ivory *****

I read this book about 2 years ago, and wrote the following review. I recently got the audio with narrator Steven Crossley, who was superb! Audio notes, such as they were, at the end:


Ah, I'm in love! With this book! It was soooo wonderful and fun, and, hmmmm, it reminded me in many ways of Ms. Ivory's other book, The Indiscretion, which I also loved. In fact, since I listened to the marvelous Barbara Rosenblat read The Indiscretion, I kept hearing her in my head for this book as well. What fun!

The premise is similar but not the same in the 2 books. In this book, there's both a Pygmalion (think My Fair Lady) element and a Cinderella element, with both the hero and the heroine cast in the role of Cinderella.

Our heroine, almost 6-feet-tall Edwina, is an orphan and a spinster. When her father died, when she was 17, he left no male issue so his title (Marquis, I believe) went to a second cousin, Xavier. Xavier was a mean old bastard who pretty much threw Edwina out, although she did manage to keep a place to live. She supports herself as, of all things, a linguist, mostly by teaching young women how to behave and speak for their coming-out into the bon ton. She's a little gawky, and bookish, and thin, and thinks of herself as all that and less. She really suffers from a lack of self-esteem.

Mick first sees only Edwina's legs, from a prone position in a women's shop, where he is doing his job - ratcatcher. He can see under the screen where she is changing, and he's entranced. Later, through a little mixup, he is chased into the tea room next door where the folks chasing him manage to completely trash the place, chasing after him and his rat-catching ferret. A pair of twin brothers step in to save the day - although no one can understand Mick because of his thick Cockney/Cornish accent (which intrigues Edwina), the brothers decide Mick would make an excellent bet - can he, or can he not, become a proper gentleman under Edwina's tutelage? They pay off the tea room owner and the folks chasing Mick, and proceed to make The Proposition: They will pay Mick 120 pounds, all of Edwina's expenses, and buy him clothes if she can take him to the Uelle Ball in 6 weeks and pass him off as a viscount.

And wouldn't you know, the fanciest ball around, the most coveted, and it's given by mean ol' cousin Xavier too?

Of course, Edwina is interested. Mick is, well, maybe interested. So they bite - and Mick moves into Edwina's home so they can spend 12 hours a day getting him polished. He brings along his helpers - his faitherful rat terrier Magic, who is truly a Notable Pet, Freddie the aging ferret, and his other dogs and ferrets that he needs to run his ratcatching business.

Over the course of the 6 weeks, Ivory paints a delightful tale of Mick and Winnie (his pet name for her) as their relationship morphs from teacher and student to friends to his teaching her... Well, it's truly marvelous as they both grow and change into their new roles as more than friends. At one point, Mick takes Winnie to his side of town where they dance for hours in a pub and she truly learns to let down her hair and enjoy life.

Meanwhile, there's a question of the true identity of the twin brothers who started the whole thing, and the real reason behind The Proposition.

And also meanwhile, there's the underlying problem of Mick falling in love with Winnie but realizing he isn't her station, and will never be. Winnie suffers from the same problem - she is fast falling in love with the handsome ratcatcher, but she's not even sure she recognizes this new person, Michael, that she is creating.

When they finally, finally make it to the ball.....

Ya gotta just read it to find out. Right there at the end is a dash of suspense and intrigue and I sat at the edge of my seat wondering, wondering. Then there's a nice long and satisfying epilogue with a very funny ending. I loved it!

5 stars!

So, as I've said before, there's only one thing better than a favorite book - it's a favorite book read by a fabulous narrator! Steven Crossley did such a marvelous job with Mick's and Winnie's voices - he used the tone of the character in the narration from his or her POV - he has a wonderful way of using pauses to great effect (see my review of Mackenzie's Mountain new narrator, who just sort of barreled through without pausing). I love the story so much, and loved his voice and his narration! 10 stars!

Mackenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard ****

I just did a sort of marathon listening - Judith Ivory's The Proposition, Linda Howard's Mackenzie's Mountain - unabridged, and Susan Andersen's Skintight. Mackenzie's Mountain is the only one I read before blogging, so have no existing review. I did have a review of A Game of Chance, one in the series of Mackenzies, in which I rated Mackenzie's Mountain 3 stars, and mentioned it might have been because I only read it in abridged audio.

Apparently there was a new, unabridged version made recently, and only available on MP3 CD. This was a challenge to get onto the iPhone, involving importing into iTunes and converting and stuff, but it is only 1 CD because MP3s are already compressed.

I'm giving this 1 more star because it did make a better story in unabridged, although frankly there were a couple of parts where I thought - why is a teacher better at detective work than their police? Or rather, why do they believe her theory (which is correct) when it's so out-of-the-blue? One of those assumption things - if the guy has freckles, he must be fair-haired, therefore the dark hair it appears he has must be a wig therefore he's gunning for Wolf and Joe.

This is about Mary, old-maid spinster teacher (she's all of 29 and it's probably the 1980s!! gasp!) who moves to a tiny burg in Wyoming to teach at their tiny school. She realizes that one of the former students who dropped out had a spectacular school record, so she hunts him down. It's Joe Mackenzie, half-breed son of Wolf Mackenzie, another half-breed. His mother was also half-breed, but she's dead. Wolf was wrongly imprisoned for rape, and released when the real rapist was caught, but the townfolk are still scared of him and consider him a dirty Indian/rapist. His son Joe also suffers because of this.

Of course, being one of Howard's earlier-to-middle books, he was very Possessive and Agressive, but not quite the asshole of Loving Evangeline. She was pretty spunky, even if it was laughable that a 29-year-old would consider herself an old maid. They face down the town and another rapist (wow, that's a lot of rapists in a town of less than 200...) and get married and start having more kids. There are books about Joe, Zane, the daughter (which I haven't read and cannot recall her name) and Chance, who is adopted. It's a pretty popular series among romance readers.

The new narrator is one I hadn't heard of - someone online commented they couldn't believe someone new was chosen to narrate this "romance classic" and I have to agree. Christina Traister sounds like, with a lot more experience, she might become an OK narrator. She used a distinctive, southern-accented voice for Mary who is from Savannah, Georgia, that was ok. Her voices for Wolf and Joe were done with an attempt to make them lower, but with no accent of any kind. Her other various voices were ... ok... Her narration was bland, using very little inflection. In my humble opinion, she needs to learn the value of pauses - like, uh, pause between sections, first of all. She just kept reading as if she didn't realize there was a shift in POV or time or something. She didn't use the character's voice at all when in POV - just a straight, I'm trying to put you to sleep voice.

I guess it's better that she didn't get all breathy and excited while reading Howard's hot and steamy scenes. But maybe some kind of inflection, feeling, something in her narrator voice would add to the experience - not just the hot and steamy experience, but the experience of hearing the book! And some pauses - not just between sections, but also for emphasis, for conveying meaning.

so I'd give her reading maybe 2.5 but the story 4.

Skintight by Susan Andersen *****

Audio booked it! Got it from the library and finished it up this morning - still a 5 star story!


Another winner from Ms Andersen! This is my 6th book of Andersen's, and so far I'm having a blast. Her writing is witty, interesting, hot - plotlines work for me - characters fully developed (if a little zany) - I'm enjoying them all immensely!

Skintight takes place in Las Vegas where heroine Treena is a dancer in a show. A Show Girl from a steel mill town in the east, where she grew up in a big, happy-enough family, feeling like the outsider because she had bigger dreams than marrying out of high school and staying there. She worked her way up in the world, paid for her own dance classes and made it big. As part of her backstory, she marries a much older man who, as it turns out, was dying from cancer. He was rich - but lost it all to the costs of health care - and died within months of their marriage.

His son, Jackson "Jax Gallagher" McCall is out to steal back what should have been his: a priceless autographed baseball now in Treena's possession. As it turns out, although it was not left to Jax in his father's will, Treena always intended to find him and give it back because she knew that's what his dad wanted. But Jax wasn't around - he wasn't there when his dad was dying, he didn't attend the funeral, and she's never met him - so she's in no hurry.

Jax comes to LV as a professional poker player in a tournament and has a plan: he'll introduce himself to his dad's widow with his professional name (Gallagher), seduce her so he can gain access to her house, find the ball after he's boffed her senseless, and skeedaddle. His backstory is that his mother died when he was young, and his dad raised him - poorly. He was a geek - a big, tall, brainy, scrawny geek - and his dad seemed to want an athlete. He skipped 3 grades in school, went to MIT at 14, but always felt like the outsider (see a pattern here??) and never felt he lived up to his dad's expectations.

Now he's a big, tall, brainy, built professional poker player with plenty of money. Unfortunately, under the influence of alcohol, he bet the baseball in a poker game to a fellow who is determined to get it by force if necessary. Hence the plan - he figures his dad's widow is a money-grubbing gold digger bimbo, and that his plan will work when he wows her with his money. In his mind, there's no point in just asking for it because she would never give it away. But he miscalculated - a big problem for a mathematical genius poker player!

There's a fun secondary romance that is almost unnecessary, but fills in the "built family" aspect - 2 middle-aged single neighbors who finally give in to their attraction for each other. They act as mother and father in her "built family" of neighbors who drop in and give advice and get in the way. The whole "built family" aspect is important to Jax in making him feel home for the first time in his life, contributing to his feeling of well-being with Treena. For me, this part makes the characterization of their relationship whole - it isn't just a lust attraction, but the whole package, and they develop a friendship outside the bedroom that is very realistic.

Of course, Andersen writes bacon-sizzling hot love scenes too, which doesn't hurt. I got a kick out of the obligatory "sex against the door" scene when he realizes he was rushing her, and tries another tactic. While she appreciates that, she decides she still wants the door aspect and manages to finagle it later.

And there's the other neighbor, another dancer, leading her way into her own story - Just for Kicks, next on my TBR list.

I enjoyed the hell out of this book - 5 stars and a keeper for sure. I re-read the AAR review for it - I like to see how other people characterize the books I read. Sometimes I feel they put what I felt into words better than I can, but in the case of this review, we diverged. That reviewer felt the whole identity deception on Jax's part messed up the story for her - it was out of character, and she didn't like waiting for the Big Reveal. I felt like Andersen made the slip-up of betting the ball very believable - no matter how one feels about one's parents, the death of a parent does affect most people, and Jax was affected and reacted. I felt waiting for the Big Reveal was part of the suspense of the novel (what will happen next?) and I also felt the way Treena discovers his identity was very realistic.

There ya go, different strokes for different folks. After all - if he could have just ASKED for the ball, there would be no story and we would have been short-changed.

Audio notes: the narrator is Johanna Parker, who reads the Sookie Stackhouse series. She's good - not grrrreat (Barbara Rosenblatt, Davina Porter, Anna Fields), but really good. I thought she did a fine reading on this book, giving each character his or her own, consistent voice. 5 stars.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tell Me Lies by Jennifer Crusie ***

This is another of the Crusie-audio-glom I did this past week, and finished this one today. It was going along pretty well (especially after I sorta DNFed What the Lady Wants) for the first, oh, maybe half of the story. I was enjoying Crusie's wit and writing, and her characters. Then it turned dark and confusing and frankly I felt the heroine kept making really, REALLY bad decisions so it turned out to be only 3 stars by the end.

OH - plus there's adultery. That's not a deal-breaker for me anymore, but it is for some. And - well, technically, what she does isn't adultery, because SPOILER


her husband was already dead, although she didn't know it.

Well, he was committing adultery too - we think. Actually, maybe he wasn't, but...

This is the story of an unhappy wife whose husband is up to no good - probably cheating on her - and she is planning to divorce him after she finds what she considers pretty good evidence. After all, 5 years ago he had cheated on her.

Maddie lives in Frog Point - a small town where everyone knows everybody else's business within 10 minutes of it happening. She grew up there, and married a local boy, and they have an 8-year-old daughter. 20 years earlier, when she was 18, she did have a one-night-stand with the town bad boy, but came to her senses and never saw him again.

Her mother lives down the street, as does her best friend and her family. Brent - the cheating husband - has family there too - his dad is mayor and hopes for Brent to follow in his footsteps.

Lawd, I hate small towns - I really do - and this is one where it really is portrayed as Not A Good Thing, as opposed to Virgin River (Robyn Carr) and other romance novel small towns.

The One Night Stand Bad Boy comes back to town - C.L. Sturgis. He's apparently carried a torch for Maddie all these years, but the real reason he came to town is because he's some hotshot ACCOUNTANT (woooooo, we know how sexy hotshot accountants are!) who is looking into potential fraud being done by - BRENT the cheating husband.

There's a lot of misdirection - C.L. sees The Best Friend with The Cheating Husband at the bowling alley; the next door neighbor lady who is getting a divorce might have had an affair with The Cheating Husband; and other stuff like that pointing to different people with a bone to pick with Brent. Meanwhile, C.L. and Maddie have the hots for each other, The Cheating Husband punches Maddie in the face twice and then disappears, Maddie's car is rear-ended and totalled, and...

It's a long confusing story, and I liked it at first but then, I dunno, it seemed a lot darker and less humorous as it went on, and Maddie kept making a lot of stupid mistakes, including finding a LOT of damning evidence in her safe deposit box then LEAVING IT THERE and returning the key to its original place at home. ???? OK, maybe taking the child's passport and destroying it was good, but how about destroying the airline ticket as well? Hello?

The narrator was Joyce Bean. She's a pretty good narrator who has done several of Linda Howard's books, but - ok, she has just a slight touch of tongue thrust or something, the barest hint of a lisp. I think the first book I heard by her was Linda Howard's Death Angel and as I recall, I wasn't that happy with her in that book either but the story was so wonderful I soon forgot all about her voice.

oh yeah and there was a dog. The End. 3 stars.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Head Over Heels by Susan Andersen *****

What makes a great book even better? An audio book of it - read by Kate Fleming/Anna Fields! Yay! I located a set of cassettes of this out-of-print audio book, and digitized them as I knew I'd want to listen more than once. Since digitizing is a 1x deal, I also listened to it.

here's my original review from 2008:

Ok, I keep calling her books "another winner" - what the heck, they are! Head Over Heels has some of Andersen's stock plot lines and character attributes, but it doesn't make me feel like she's writing the same story over and over.

Our heroine is Veronica, an interior decorator who lives in Seattle. She's just arrived in her home town of Fossil, in East Washington state, having just learned about her sister's murder that occurred a month ago while she was out of the country on business. Both their parents are also gone, and Veronica has inherited the family business, a bar called the Tonk, her sister's home and at least temporary custody of her niece, 6 year old Lizzy, because Lizzy's father has been accused of the murder and is currently on the lam.

When Veronica goes into the bar to meet the current manager/bartender and see how things are going, she gets a rush of why she wanted to leave all those years ago: in her own personal memory of her upbringing, her father was a party-guy and her mother worked too hard to please him, both running the bar. She and her sister worked in the bar until she left town - her sister had been running it ever since. She hated the bar and working there, and wants to just sell it and take Lizzy with her back to her life in Seattle.

Our hero is Cooper Blackstock, who is doing a little undercover by working as the current manager/bartender for the Tonk, not letting on to anyone that Eddie, Lizzy's father, is his half-brother. As far as Coop is concerned, Eddie is innocent even if he did run, and he wants to see if he can figure out the killer's identity. Coop's backstory: 13 years in the Marines and currently a best-selling author under a slight pseudonym, James Lee Cooper (his first name really is James).

Of course, the chemistry between Ronnie and Coop is pretty immediate, and it isn't all good chemistry - they're fighting like cats and dogs right off the bat. A friend, Marissa, had been taking care of the bar for Ronnie while trying to locate her, and hired Coop and also leased him the upstairs room in the sister's house - so now he's living with Ronnie and Lizzy.

Meanwhile - we get the scary killer's POV but only vague clues to his identity as little pieces of the puzzle begin to come to light. Apparently the sister had an affair with someone famous or upstanding in the community, and fingers are pointing around. Whoever it is is feeling pretty cocky about how he has fooled everyone.

There's a cute secondary romance between Marissa, who is widowed, and Kody the refrigerator guy who has a thing about women with kids. This plot device has shown up before: Kody's sister has a son, and she sleeps around. Kody has seen the nephew get attached to all these men who then up and leave her - and him - and he has sworn off girlfriends with kids to avoid this situation for the kids' sakes. So, he'll go out with her, and sleep with her when the kids are away, but he doesn't want to ever meet the kids. Once she figures out he has a problem with her kids, she drops him. It's interesting how Andersen maneuvers the dialog so when you read it you see what each one is saying and also how the other misunderstands the motives. Ah, remember it's a romance, and they manage to get together and straighten it all out.

Meanwhile, Coop is looking for any clues, and Ronnie is falling in love - but, oops, someone recognizes Coop and spills the beans about his relationship to Eddie in front of Ronnie. There goes that whole trust thing! Coop, sensitive Marine that he is, does some serious courting - flowers, gifts, you name it (he loves Lizzy's new cat; he's great with kids; he probably even eats quiche) - and manages to get back in her good graces. Whew - good thing too, because he has fallen head over heels for her! (get it??)

But Coop has one secret left untold, about his occupation (best selling author). From her perspective, he's a drifter without ambition, just like her dad. She imagines a life with him will be like her parents, and she doesn't want that. So she asks him to tell her exactly what he does for a living so she can deal with it. But Coop is stubborn - he grew up never being good enough for his mother, and he doesn't want to tell her - he wants her love unconditionally, without it being based on what he does for a living. He's concerned she won't love him for who he is when she realizes he's making big bucks on his books. She even tells him that it doesn't matter what he does but it does matter that he won't tell her - but they are both stubborn and hold out, causing a major rift.

Well - they hold out until the killer is revealed and kidnaps Ronnie. Then all bets are off. As soon as she's released, both are ready to forgive anything and everything. Ya know, I think even then I'd have been a leeetle teensy more put out about what his secret was than she was, though!! OK, hard to say since I wasn't kidnapped. Maybe that clouds the judgement.

Lots of laughs, pretty hot love scenes - I rate it 5 but not the same 5 as others of hers. There I go with that whole rating thing - it's higher than a 4 for me, but maybe 4 3/4 is what I need for this one. I loved it but not as much as the last 2 of hers I read (Skintight and Just for Kicks).

Added in 2010: ok, the audiobook is flawless (now that I digitized it and removed all the repeated sentences...) and raises it from that 4 3/4 to a definite 5 - Kate Fleming was an amazingly brilliant narrator and really made this one shine! (but I still feel Coop owed Ronnie a major apology for holding out on his career...)