Friday, December 31, 2010

Crazy For You by Jennifer Crusie ***

Crazy For YouCrazy For You by Jennifer Crusie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had read this book a few years back, and found it to be a mediocre/ok read. The heroine decides she is in a dead-end relationship that she had no control over, so she leaves; the hero is Nick, her former brother-in-law who is also her best friend AND he's carried a torch for her for years and years. The Dead End Relationship fellow is the crazy one - he becomes a stalker of sorts, acting out all kinds of weird behaviors that show he is losing touch with reality.

It's typical Crusie - a weird/ugly dog, a cast of odd characters that actually enhance the story, and some scorching hot scenes. Since it came out as audio, I figured it would pass the time well for me. Unfortunately, I listened to it while on vacation and didn't take time to make any notes, therefore I cannot recall even if I liked the narrator! Dayum. But I have to make a little review for myself as proof I read it, since if I don't, I'll mess up and re-listen and wonder why it seems familiar.

Here's my original review from November 2008.

Damn. I really wanted to like this book. I was so in the mood for a light, funny, hot, quick read, and after reading the various reviews on AAR (4 reviewers, 2 posted - 1 DIK and 1 C) I was sure I would really enjoy this.

But it wasn't as good as I wanted.

The story revolves around Quinn, a 35-year-old single woman teacher needing a change in her life. I guess before the book starts, she already has a reputation for rescuing stray dogs. However, she has always found homes for them, until the one that pops up in the beginning.

See, she's been living with Bill - ok minor rant, to have both the boyfriends' names so similar (Nick and Bill) confused me for a a few dozen pages - anyway, she's been living with Bill for 2 years. He's referred to as a Viking, 6'5" tall, the beloved high school coach. He just won't stand for a dog - not to mention their apartment lease doesn't allow dogs. But she's decided she's keeping the dog no matter what...

Nick is actually the hero here - Nick is Quinn's former brother-in-law, married briefly to Quinn's sister Zoe, but divorced about 20 or so years ago. There's a number of related characters in this small town: Nick's brother Max who is married to Quinn's best friend Darla, Quinn's parents, Quinn's sister Zoe, various teachers, students and other folks. Nick has apparently been Quinn's best friend all this time - I gathered they saw each other every day somehow (which, well, seemed a little odd to me, but there you are).

Bill starts a downward spiral when Quinn makes it clear she's keeping the dog - he slips the first few inches when he takes the dog to the pound. That event is the first domino to fall - Quinn moves out, and her example starts a number of other events. Her parents make some changes; Darla and Max make some changes; Nick starts thinking about her as more than a friend.

OK - so what's not to like? Well, let's see: Bill was creepy. Way creepy. Quinn was often an idiot, and even more often a hypocrite. When she thinks "yes" and then says "No" and then follows with how what she wants is honesty, I just cringed. Hello?? How honest was it to think yes and say no?? And after being assaulted by Bill on several occasions, she couldn't be talked into calling the police? HELLOOO?

And what did Darla and Quinn want from Max and Nick? They sure had me wondering. Those guys bent over backwards from what I could see, and that wasn't enough. If Darla couldn't be clear about what she wanted, how could she expect Max to do what she wanted? That kept driving me crazy too.

One AAR reviewer pretty much panned the book - and I have often disagreed with this reviewer. The DIK reviewer actually had me going when she referred to "the feeling the book leaves me with when I've finished reading it." I thought, YESSS that's how I rate books too. But this book left me flat. I was so disturbed by Bill's actions and Quinn's inability to call the dang police that I had a hard time enjoying the story.

That's about it. I so enjoyed the first 3 Crusie's I read (Welcome To Temptation, Bet Me and Anyone But You) that I just felt puzzled the whole time, wondering when I was going to start laughing and getting into the story. Wondered it all the way to the end. Damn.

3 stars/mediocre.

Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas ****

Smooth Talking Stranger (Travises, #3)Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, this is just downright embarrassing. I'm pretty sure I already listened to this on audio once. But I don't have any review, or listing of it in my Bookpedia, or anything to prove it. I did read the first 2, got them from the library. I got this one from the library. All the way through it just seemed awfully familiar. And even now, I couldn't say with 100% guarantee that I did read it, but I think...

Alright, this is the 3rd in the Travises series by Lisa Kleypas. I actually do not like her historical romance writing style at all, despite having slogged through 5 or more of them to prove it to myself. But I do like her contemporary voice - and it's fun too that she sets the books in Houston, where I have lived most of my life.

Jack is the middle Travis - son of a wealthy River Oaks family who made their money in making money and, oh yeah, oil. Jack is a playboy by all accounts, and when he's named as the possible father of the heroine's infant nephew, Ella (aka The Heroine) finagles a confrontation. Jack is attracted to Ella, which is probably why he agrees to a paternity test that never happens. The sister admits Jack is right - she never slept with him. Jack and Ella pair up to find the real father, and he worms his way into her life and her heart while doing so.

The series uses 3 different narrators - Renee Raudman for book 1 (and she's good) and Emily Durante for this book. She's good too - she also narrated book 1 of the Bride's Quarter by NR. I probably need to take some paper along on vacations so I'll make notes about the books I read - it's bad enough that I'm sure I must have already read this, but to forget to list/review it this time and read it a 3rd time would really make me visit the Alzheimer's doctor.

4 stars - not a keeper type book, but a very enjoyable read.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins **

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am definitely not the audience for YA and listening to The Hunger Games reinforced that notion for me. In a Big Way. It wasn't made any easier to have a narrator with a sing-songy reading pattern that about drove me nutz (since we were in a car listening to it on CD, this is a sort of pun).

We tried to finish it before arriving at the Xmas lodge in North Carolina where our hosts' adult children had suggested we have a discussion of it. All of them seemed to have been enthralled by it; of the 4 of us in the car, 2 felt it wasn't good, 1 thought it was OK, and the 4th was prepared to listen to the entire trilogy. In fact, the 3 of them said I was too picky about narrators - HAH! as if! - because they didn't notice the boring reading until I pointed it out.

When one of the characters that I felt invested in was offed, I turned to another audio book and left them to deal with the gruesome, futuristic/Mad Max plot where children are made to kill each other for food as a spectator sport. What I did hear - the beginning and the ending - reinforced my feeling that there's too much teen angst and playing out of pre-teen fantasies in YA for me to get interested. Then there's that MESSAGE thing - I don't need no stinking message.

A good writer can take any plot device, any characters, and involve me in the journey - I think. Maybe if Linda Howard or Suzanne Brockmann or Diana Gabaldon wrote YA, I'd like it. But so far, Twilight and The Hunger Games has left me wanting something else.

I didn't hate it so I'm going with 2 stars.

A Man To Die For by Suzanne Brockmann ***

A Man to Die For (Silhouette Intimate Moments #681) (Undercover Cops, #2)A Man to Die For (Silhouette Intimate Moments #681) by Suzanne Brockmann

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not my favorite Brockmann - this was a mediocre and somewhat dated book that was marred by a mediocre narration by Blair Windsor. Since I was simultaneously being forced to listen to The Hunger Games, truthfully I can't remember exactly what it was I didn't like about Windsor's reading - not enough differentiation between character voices; and considering the hero is Hispanic and says several Spanish phrases, surely a narrator who can reasonably pronounce Spanish would have been a better choice. She wasn't as bad as The Hunger Games, though. The plot conceit - undercover cop takes heroine hostage trying to protect her even though she doesn't believe he's the good guy but there's Chemistry - wears thin pretty quickly, and frankly I had a hard time figuring out when they managed to fall in love unless Stockholm syndrome can be attributed. Or the Soul Mate theory (where everyone has one and they were each others) which really only works well in fantasy for me.

But it kept my ears from hearing the middle part of The Hunger Games, which is a good thing and better than sticking my fingers in my ears and singing lalalalalalalal to make it go away.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What A Gentleman Wants by Caroline Linden ****

From time to time, I find a reference in some forum or review blog that makes me want to read the book, and in this case it is a series. Caroline Linden is a new-to-me author and this one is the first in a series, although not the first book by Ms. Linden.

There are several often-used conceits in the book - the hero Marcus is a Duke and has a ne'er-do-well identical twin brother, robbed of the title and wealth by only a few minutes. The heroine Hannah is a commoner, the widow of a vicar, with a 4-year-old child. The bad twin drinks, has a race through the small village and crashes. He must be tended by Hannah, of course, and decides to marry her (no love is ever professed - he's just trying to be kind and save her). Right at the last minute he changes his mind and signs the papers with his brother's name instead. So, now it's also a marriage of convenience. To The Duke. With Consequences for Revealing The Truth because of the beloved stepmother and younger sister who is on the verge of Her Season. Big Sigh. How many overly done plotlines can we cram into one story?

Still, it was fun enough to read - not comic, but not dark - and not overly eye-roll-inducing. In fact, it managed to keep me up reading til 4 am while snowed-in over the Xmas holidays in a mountain lodge, so I must have liked it well enough. I'm going with 4 stars, even though I truly cannot remember much about how I felt about it now. Dang - I really need to keep notes.

Monday, December 20, 2010

True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson ****

True Love and Other Disasters (Chinooks Hockey Team, #4)True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This wasn't my most favorite Rachel Gibson in print, but I'm a big fan so when I saw the audio release, I had to get it! The narrator is new-to-me Susan Bennett, who has 14 listings at She was great! I thought she had just the right kind of voice for this genre, and although her range wasn't that great, she managed to give each character a separate, recognizable, consistent voice. The story is in the Seattle Chinooks/NHL series, and one or 2 of the other series characters make an appearance. Short, fun - if you're a Gibson fan, spend the credit!

below is my original review from May, 2009:

This book is one of many that involve Gibson's fictional Seattle Chinooks hockey team players, the first of which is... maybe Simply Irrestible? It includes See Jane Score as well, even though on Fantastic Fiction, True Love et al is listed as Chinook series #1 (that is just plain wrong!). In Simply Irrestible, Chinooks owner Virgil Duffy is left at the altar when Georgeanne runs away and gets together with Chinooks player John Kowalsky, who leaves a little souvenir behind (think Secret Baby plot). In See Jane Score, Jane is a journalist hired to be a temporary sports writer traveling with the team. In TLAOD, Virgil Duffy's widow Faith inherits the team and gets together with Chinooks captain, Ty Savage (pronounced sah VAH zhe, not savage).

So this is at least Book #3. [note: at Goodreads, it's called Book 4!]

OK, the plot has already been laid out: Faith is a former stripper and Playmate whom Virgil married as purely a trophy wife - he was too old and ill for consummating the marriage. However, she felt loved and protected, and he left her a lot of money in addition to the team. Of course, she was hated by his other family members, especially his son Landon who expected to get the team when Daddy died.

Now, think about Susan Elizabeth Phillips and It Had To Be You - blonde bombshell inherits a sports team without knowing dick about sports. Even the word Bimbo appears in the book cover blurb. The team circulates Faith's Playboy spread, and the players crack a lot of rude jokes at her expense. She fully intends to sell the team to Landon until he shows what an asshole he is - then she reneges on the deal, and steps in to try to run it herself, with the help of her loyal assistant. Yeppers, there's a lot of similarities here. There's even travel by airplane - but no Mile High Club initiation.

I did like this story well enough but it had some of those Rachel Gibsonisms that I don't like - she needs a better editor. She seems to repeat herself - no, I didn't mark any specific examples, but as I read, I kept thinking, "didn't she already say that?" as though she didn't go back over her work and pick out similar phrasing and wording while she wrote. Of course, that might have cut her word count by 10% or so, too, so maybe she was under some kind of contract and in a hurry. I dunno. But I wanted a tighter story. Authors: don't hit me over the head with what they're thinking, please.

Gibson does have a knack for steamy love scenes, I must say. And although her alpha hero was surly and rude some of the time, he did not really come off as an asshole as much as just someone who was surly, and sometimes rude. Maybe that doesn't make sense! But I didn't really have the urge to slap him like I have with, say, many of Elizabeth Lowell's heroes and even 1 or 2 of Linda Howard's. Ok, more than 1 or 2...

There's a slimy secondary relationship between Ty's father and Faith's mother that was really written to be creepy and not at all likable. I wanted to wash my hands after reading about those 2 moochers. And a dog - Valerie's dog - yuck, not notable at all.

So I'm calling it a 4 star read, because I did enjoy reading it, but not 5 star because I didn't love reading it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dark Lover by J.R, Ward ****

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1)Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had already read this in print, and then got it for cheap at an sale on audio. I liked it okay (4 stars) in print, and I know a lot of people love the whole Black Dagger Brotherhood series, so I figured if the audio caught my interest, maybe I'd search out the rest in audio.

About an hour in, I started to wonder if this narrator, Jim Frangione, was going to grow on me or drive me crazy. In the end, it wasn't actually either. He had a gruff sort of narration voice, like a Sam Spade mystery, and didn't do much to differentiate between characters. In fact, it was more like he was just reading it aloud and not really "voice acting". But that almost worked for me by the end (not that I'd classify him as a great narrator, but not as bad as I feared.)

I'm still not particularly drawn in by vampire stories, and after determining the rest are not available at the library, I'm not going to pursue the series. I do have at least #2 in print, so if I am searching for a book to read, it might get read...

Here is my original review of the print version from April, 2009:


I read this for the AAR Top 100 of 2007 challenge I'm participating in - even though I'm not exactly into vampire romance (after a disastrous encounter with some Feehan audio books). It's hard to follow the world-building of paranormals sometimes, and when there's entire species to deal with - with rules and lingo and even whole languages to understand and follow. This one even had a glossary in the front, which I consulted several times.

Plus, even though there are only 6 members (well, 7 if you count Darius) of the Brotherhood, they had nicknames and such, and even by the end I wasn't 100% clear who was who. Which one was Hollywood, anyway?? Wrath. Wrage. Phury. Zsadist. Tohrment. And one more. Oh yeah, Vishous. (and Butch, human cop, who gets sorta sucked into their lives - pun intended, they didn't actually suck human blood, heh heh.)

Even so, I can see the allure - the guys are all super-tough, beyond alpha, leather clad bad boys. Bigger than life. Vampires and ass-kickers too. Humans play a very small part in this story - the really bad guys (because, face it, the vampires aren't exactly Superman, touting truth, justice and the American way...) are the "lessers" italicized because it's a Vampire word, not the word lesser as in "less than". They are also undead, and are sworn to kill the Vampires. I sorta get the idea they aren't doing it to be evil but because they are mortal enemies. Maybe I'm wrong about that.

Wrath is the king of the vampires, and he's given the charge of helping a half-human, half-vampire woman, Darius's daughter Beth, go through the "transition" from human to vampire. I guess when they're half-breeds, it's not clear until Vampire Adolescence whether they'll transition or not. But Wrath, like all vampires, has keen senses and can smell Beth, her emotions, even that she is going to transition.

Of course, there's that soulmate thing with vampires too - there's the One "shellan" which is sorta like wife/soulmate. And hey, vampire males can have more than one, but they're territorial so shellans only have one "hellbren" which is the male version. Sorta like polygamists - sux, huh??

So while we learn the story of Wrath and Beth, we also meet all the Brothers and learn about them (as I said, I was pretty much confused about who was who) so we are prepared for the followup stories, of which the next 3 are also Top 100s at AAR in 2007.

I liked her writing - she makes the vampires out to be headbangers with tattoos, and it works. While they all have slight accents, they still speak American slang, carry a lot of weapons and are mostly looking to kickass all the time. Beth is pretty normal - she was raised in the foster system, didn't know she was half-vampire, but has her own apartment, a cat, a job at a newspaper. She's completely unaware of even the existence of vampires and lessers.

Well, I'm not sure I made any sense on this - the story was suspenseful, confusing, hot - Wrath had a serious jones for Beth, making him a fairly besotted hero by the end (but not all the way through so I'm not tagging it). The heroes were bad and the bad guys badder. And some loose ends to get you to read the next books. 4 stars. Serial Challenge, Spring 2009 Challenge and AAR Top 100 Quest.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne ****

The Spymaster's LadyThe Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had already read this in print, and liked it - 4 stars. The narrator, Kirsten Potter, was new to me, and I think I would give her a B/B- for this narration. Her reading in general was pretty good, and the French accent she gave Annique worked for me most of the time. She had a few mispronunciations that so struck me I physically shivered when she said them, notably "LeBlanc" where she put such emphasis on the final C. The C would not be pronounced in French; in fact, the name Leblanc is fairly common in Louisiana where the C is also not pronounced, sounding more like "luh-blah(n)". (The N would not really be pronounced, just sort of nasalized.) Another word that made me grind my teeth was gendarmes: the French would not pronounce the final S. OH, and Francois, the man she considered making love with (or was it him considering it with her?), would surely not like being given a woman's name: Francois would not have the S pronounced like the name Francoise.

OK, I'm being nitpicky but still - she went so far with giving Annique a French accent/pattern of speech (which, with Bourne's lyrical, French-patterned prose, she really had to do!) that having those kinds of things just spoiled the mood for me. It also seemed her voice got sort of scratchier by the end (or was it scratchy the whole time?) and that made Annique sound older. If I were rating this on narration only, I would have to lower it to 3 stars, maybe 3.5, but the story was wonderful and so I'm back to 4!

Below is my review of the print version from July, 2010:

This is a series that has had a lot of buzz in the past couple of years, so it's been on my radar to read. Since there is a new one in the series, it's risen on my list and I got the first 2 books, and am on a waiting list for the new one.

The heroine of Lady is Annique, a spy in her own right. She's 19 or 20 but has spent her entire life in the service of France because her mother and father were also spies, and raised her as such. She possessed a special gift - a photographic memory - which meant she could be trusted with maps, notes, photos that needed to be transmitted to the top spy via her memory. She's smart, she's wily, she's resourceful - I kept thinking of her as 19th c Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). She can throw knives; she can see in the dark; she can run like the wind. She's on a final journey, she figures, since there are several people who want her last big secret, and her mother and father are both dead.

Into her path comes Grey, the British Spymaster. She releases him from the cellar of the bad guy, and now their lives are entangled in oh so many ways, because Grey is the British Spymaster, and therefore her sworn enemy. And they are both attracted to one another - and he and she play a game of cat and mouse throughout the story, with him allowing her to lead him to the endpoint of her journey where he is hoping to learn the location of the secret everyone knows she possesses.

It seemed that much of the book was told from her (3rd person) POV, with a taste of how she would think in French, cleverly done with grammar mimicking the French way of speaking. The reader is also introduced to Grey's cohorts - Adrian and Doyle, also British spies. They make an engaging team, filling in strengths and making it more fun and oh so slightly more credible.

I really didn't see the final twist before it was revealed or how it affected the ending, so it was a surprise to me and I thought it made for a unique and interesting plot. Plus, from my vantage point, Grey was all besottedness and protection and I thought that made the ending very romantic. I just love a besotted hero! 4 stars - not a keeper but a wonderful story all the same.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just The Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James *****

Just the Sexiest Man AliveJust the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

THIS WAS A GREAT BOOK! I was tempted into it by The Group (the Speaking of Audiobooks group), and partway in I admit I was sorta shaking my head, thinking No, it's too much like that inner fantasy we all had as impressionable pre-teens that some celebrity would think we could be best friends if we could just meet them in person. But no, the author - and bless her, the narrator Karen White - had such a great voice for this story. The tone almost bordered on snarky, but never really crossed the line. Our heroine, Taylor, was a smart, sassy and sarcastic lawyer, and that smart, sassy and sarcastic tone drove the entire story. It wasn't about a fantasy celebrity realizing he could fall in love with a non-Hollywood woman - it was about a woman staying true to herself and still managing to find herself in incredible circumstances. The more caught up Taylor got in the Hollywood scene, the funnier the story became, until at the end I was laughing out loud non-stop! But it's not over-the-top, or farce - it's just funny situations and a heroine that always has a better come-back than anyone else. The last line left me laughing for several minutes!

The narrator really nailed the tone and tenor of the story - I'm going to have to find other books she's narrated, cuz she's good! (apparently I'm not her only fan; her bio indicates she's narrated over 40 books)

Taylor is a hot-shot young lawyer from Chicago, on loan to her firm's LA office for a big case in her specialty, employment law - specifically sexual harassment in the workplace. Coincidentally, hot-shot actor and Sexiest Man Alive Jason Andrews has asked her firm to let him spend time with a lawyer as research for an upcoming film, and Taylor has to juggle a womanizing, bad-boy actor with a $30M lawsuit in the few months she is assigned to LA. She immediately takes a dislike to the playboy and pretty much manages to one-up him at every turn. Next thing you know, she's The Mystery Woman, seen only from the back in photos with the Sexiest Man Alive.

Jason is at first annoyed, then amused and then challenged by Taylor. The more time he spends with her, the more interested he becomes. However, being a Man, he manages to make more than his fair share of relationship mistakes, especially considering their relationship is pretty much strictly business in Taylor's mind. Enter the runner-up for every title Jason holds, pretty boy Scott who is out to topple Jason from his throne - and things start to really get complicated.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Coming Undone by Susan Andersen **

Coming Undone (Marine #4)Coming Undone by Susan Andersen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

AUDIO BOOK REVIEW When I read this in print - the 4th in a series that I had really liked - I rated it 2 stars. I thought it seemed too forced, the reactions of the characters not realistic, PJ's character especially being obnoxious. But I got this audiobook free at the library, so I decided to give it a try, since I usually like Susan Andersen's writing. Nicole Poole as narrator gets a sort of B+ on this one from me. She managed to infuse some realism into the story and raise it to 3 stars - hearing it in her voice, rather than just in my head, smoothed some of the reactions. It still felt forced, and Andersen's use of similes in this book got old after the first 4 or 5 dozen. I get it, that's supposed to be how southerners talk, right? (insert wry smile here)

Back to the narration: Poole was good, mostly, but she did have a few times where her pauses seemed to come in the wrong places, as if maybe she hadn't really read it before doing the recording and paused at the end of a page only to take back up on the next one. Her PJ voice was ok, her Jared voice pretty good, her Esme voice - well, minor character, so never mind; her Nell, Hank and Eddie voices all pretty mediocre - but consistent. She also narrated 2 of Rachel Gibson's Author Friends series, and I really liked her voice on those. Maybe she's better with better material!

My first read was in print, June, 2008. Here's that review:

Maybe I'm cursed. Maybe it's the moon.

I didn't much like Coming Undone. And I'm devastated to admit it.

Here I've been starting every one of my reviews of Andersen's books with Another Winner - but now, well, it ain't. And coming on the heels of my not much liking the latest Julia Quinn, it makes me question my very existence. Could it be me??

Coming Undone is the 4th installment in her Marine series, which was supposed to be a trilogy about these 3 former Marine buddies, Coop, Zach and John. Then Andersen decided to write the last one for John's brother-in-law Jared and his buddy PJ who appear in the third book.

I mentioned in that review that some time needed to go by because, after all, PJ was only 13 in that book. Andersen decided she could make it be 15 years that had passed, so the hero and heroine are fully grown up. Which makes it sometime in the future? Her note in the book admits she is using a known soap opera gimmick, where a child is born, then a year or so later, the child is a teenager.

She lost me at about page 20. First, we get a prologue putting Jared into the situation: PJ is now a country music star, and her recording company has hired Semper Fi Security to provide security for her on her upcoming tour. John, head of Semper Fi, chooses Jared to be the one. So now we know Jared is working for John, and that's about all we know.

Then we find PJ, who hasn't really disappeared as the tabloids are saying, but has just decided to take a road trip and hasn't checked in with anyone. PJ has just recently fired her manager - her no-good bitch of a mother - for embezzling, and the old lady is ratting her out to the press with a bunch of lies. I guess we're supposed to imagine the studio fell for the lies and that is why they hired Semper Fi, to keep PJ on the straight 'n' narrow. So, enter Jared. PJ is delighted to see him - it's been 15 years since their 2 week friendship on the streets of Denver, and they didn't keep up after that. Wait, wait, she's only delighted for a minute then she's pissed and the next thing you know, she's let the air out of his tires and split.


OK, wait: here is the assignment: per John, "Wild Wind Records retained us to find your old friend Priscilla Jayne." Then he says: "...mission is going to be two-fold. First to locate... Then to accompany her on her tour to make sure she doesn't disappear again."

So, yeah, it sounds like they don't trust her. But I guess we're supposed to remember how she just reacts off the cuff before thinking, like she did at 13. Or something.

Anyway, whatever the reasoning, I didn't follow it. She does everything possible to shake Jared off her trail. And so there's this immediate antagonism. And I just didn't buy it - I didn't buy the way she immediately jumped into his arms when they first met either. I didn't find either reaction reasonable or credible.

Basically, for the first half of the book, he tries to be reasonable and professional with her, and she does everything she can to get him away or in trouble or whatever. She tells a hotel manager he's a stalker. She convinces a bartender to have the bouncer throw him out of a bar where she performs. She lets her band members think he's a nuisance.

He spends a lot of his time reminding himself he's a glacier - and that includes after they finally decide to act on their attraction (attraction? didn't see it coming, did ya?). He's a big cold glacier who - damn him - insists on providing his women with multiple orgasms before succumbing to his own. What a jerk, huh? Well PJ thinks so - because he's so cold and calculating.

She should read Loving Evangeline by Linda Howard if she thinks Jared was cold and calculating. He doesn't begin to reach the level of that hero.

Let's see - I kept plodding onward, thinking maybe, just maybe, I'd get more invested in their story. Andersen does her "we-don't-know-whose-POV-we're-dealing-with" tactic (as well as her including-hyphenated-phrases-to-a-new-level device) to introduce a fanatic. This one's going to show PJ some old tyme religion if she doesn't straighten up. So just when Jared decides his work is done, we get a warning from the psycho, and his job changes from watchdog to protector.

Then, let's see, yada yada yada, blah blah blah, oh yeah, the secondary romance. We have to out an ugly duckling. Nell is a song-writer/manager. They sure seem to have a tiny little crew - 2 musicians, Nell and PJ are it (oh and the bus driver). It seemed inadequate, using my theater background for comparison. Anyway, Nell is not thin, doesn't wear makeup and dresses blandly. And she has a crush on 1 of the 2 musicians. Of course, duh, he (Eddie) only dates young bimbos, and the other musician (Hank) is the one with the hots for her. So - let's take Nell shopping, and let's get her some better clothes and makeup so someone will notice her.

To be honest, I wanted Jared to make a sort of play for Nell. He did compliment her but maybe PJ would have been a leeeetle bit more aware if... OK, so Andersen didn't play the jealousy card. But I needed something to get me interested. Now we have our swan Nell - and Eddie asks her if she lost weight. This crushes the life out of her crush - meanwhile Hank is bowled over. One thing eventually leads to another and Hank and Nell finally get hot and heavy. Just to be sure, later in the story Eddie almost sees the light, asks her out and she turns him down. OK, whew, got that outta our systems, huh?

OK, where was I? Oh yeah. I gave up and went to bed, thinking maybe if I finished it today I'd be happier. The stalker is finally revealed through some sloppy PI work - really, Jared, what took you so long? And he makes a move at the one time Jared lets down his guard. Jared manages to rush in at the last minute, and in her frenzy PJ tells him she loves him.

Whoa. (like we didn't all expect this, even if there wasn't quite enough evidence to actually say we saw it coming). That brings his guard up. OH NO MR BILL! Jared can't trust anyone but the Marines and his family!! And especially not PJ who left him without a trace after their 2-week ordeal 15 years ago when she was 13!!!

And on top of all this inanery, what in the world does this phrase in the epilogue mean: "a brunette with pale skin, red lipstick and a striking white streak in her black hair" Hello - is she brunette "a person with dark (brown) hair" or is her hair black? (it's Ronnie, from Book 1, of course - it's black). Arg.

OK look, I can't give it 2 stars. Really, I just can't - can I? Because, I mean, maybe it's ME. Maybe it's because I bought it full price instead of swapping it on PBS. Maybe it's the phase of the moon (half). By the way, they both admit they love each other, and the epilogue is their wedding shower, in case there was any question of a HEA.