New Releases! (Celeste Bradley 1/29 and Lisa Kleypas 2/5)

I've been fortunate enough to read two awesomesauce ARCs to kickstart my 2013... (both with REALLY innocent/regular looking covers - but start reading and GOOD LAWD, these are some steamy books!)

Crystal Cove (by Lisa Kleypas) was one of them - THIS is the steamiest Kleypas novel to date.  Trust.  I would bet all my chips on it.  Steamier than Lady Sophia's Lover and Devil in Winter.  Let's put it this way... if anyone is going to describe the Japanese art of super-erotic bondage (Kinbaku) in their romance, you REALLY want it to be Lisa Kleypas.  'Cause it'll be FRICKIN' HOT.  

(Hint: Pintrest will show you "nicer" results for Kinbaku instead of Google Image Search.)

The other ARC was When She Said I Do (by Celeste Bradley) - a big massive thanks to Celeste for this one.  My marginalia and annotations for this one are insane - scribblings and underlines everywhere - and lots of "!!!!!!" on every page.  Since starting this blog a couple months ago, I've read romances thinking, "Ok, this will wrap up nicely... another HEA! YAY!" - but I simply didn't want this book to end.  And I haven't honestly felt that way in a long time.  Usually, I'd just burn out and take a break about three books into a series.  Or I'll get distracted by the next new release, or I'd just pick up the next book in the TBR pile.  But this time, I was so desperate for re-experiencing Ren's story, I started picking up (and combing through) the Liar's Club series again - looking for ANY mention of Ren's history.  *Sigh* Never wanting it to end.  Romance novel honeymoon phase?  

Yup, when you find a great romance novel, that sounds about right.

Due to the Inauguration buzz and recent freaky weather in D.C. (ice storms? wtf? any day now "White Walkers" will be invading) including all sorts of annoying commute-delays - it's been shitty-hectic at work.  But full reviews to come soon, and remember:  DO NOT let these covers fool you.  Hotness throughout the pages.


"Swearing In" on Inauguration Day!: Cursing in Romance Novels

Check out my post at Heroes & Heartbreakers!

Colin Firth approves:

Coming up: Review on Celeste Bradley's When She Said I Do (of course, I *loved* it) which inspired the "Swearing In" post... and checking in on the TBR Challenge 2013...

SIDE NOTE:  Seeing the Inauguration stuff got me thinking... what about architecture on romance covers?  (Has anyone discussed this before?)  I'm suddenly loving all covers architecture-related, ESPECIALLY if it's D.C. or SF or Italy.  Noticing this a lot.  (And I approve!)  See what I'm sayin'...


TBR Challenge January: Five Golden Rings (Mistletoe Magic)

Five Rings:  Mistletoe Magic (by Sophie Barnes)
Conflict:  Big Misunderstanding

What I mentioned from Goodreads:  this review is ONLY for Sophie Barnes' story, Mistletoe Magic, and I was fortunate enough to receive a free e-book from Ms. Barnes herself.  Since this was a short read, I will keep the review short and sweet.

Bottom Line Up Front:  
I would want Ms. Barnes to write a larger novel.

With my e-reader (also reading this from my phone) it was only 66 pages. I just didn't feel it was enough story/plot for me to warm up to the characters.  I finished this in my entire one-hour commute on the metro and my feelings for the characters didn't change.

The concept/conflict was cute though:   There is some big misunderstanding and flirty bantering in the beginning.  The hero (Redfirn) is trying to set up his ward and the heroine (Nora) is trying to set up her "ward" (she's a in a secret group that sets up wallflowers).  If this was over 200 pages - it would be excellent!  Nora (like her ward) is also a wallflower (bluestocking!) and we see her struggle in her new "wallflower-coach" role, and I didn't feel that there was enough time/room at the end to see her overcome that struggle (at least not to my satisfaction).  Both H&H admit that they're not good at matchmaking despite the success of their wards (and their own HEA!) but then queue love scene and the story ends - so it felt like their character arc just suddenly stopped RIGHT when I was watching it shift/improve.

OK, my previous mini-rant aside.  Five Golden Rings looks good.  And Mistletoe Magic was alright.  I had to simmer down overnight.  (Mike read the post - and he sees no correlation between "preferring blonde and blue eyes" with fascist eugenics.  Maybe I'm just being a uppity brunette?  Ok, fine.)

What if Wendy the Super Librarian was right, and I just don't like the lower page count?  I loved other novellas, but... I can't recall reading a romance less than 120 pages... This book was a cute little cupcake that I had to wolf down in three bites.  Didn't get to savor or enjoy it.  Didn't feel really good afterwards.


YOU'RE in the wrong decade.

Working on my post for the TBR Challenge 2013 - January was for "short" books/stories - perfect for the 66 page novella I read, right?

Well, I had to give it 2 stars on Goodreads, and I mentioned that I would do a fuller review on my blog.  *sigh*  Everything was going okay until I got to this gem:

"...made him realize that she was quite possibly the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen
(even if she wasn't blond with blue eyes).  It very nearly took his breath away." - pg 44

What the fuck.

This very nearly took MY breath away.  No, really.  I completely closed out of the nook app on my android phone, took a few breaths, randomly looked around (to nowhere in particular) with the "WTF" look on my face - and then I had to psych myself up to re-open the nook app and continue reading.

Because we know who also favored blondes with blue eyes, right?  (Hint:  It's starts with "KNOTS" and ends with "ZEES".)  Did I miss the part about the hero ONLY preferring to court Aryan princesses?  Why did I have to know this?  Is our hero that selective?  The first 43 pages told me that he was sort of an "equal opportunity employer" when it came to seducing women.

This is where I will mention that I have described my hair and eyes as "shit-brown" before... but it's actually more of a chocolate-y espresso brown (which I dye religiously) and my eyes are more of a dark hazel or brown with goldish-green flecks.  So there.  And normally, I really don't care if the hero prefers blondes.  But I've never read anything along the lines of "blonde with blue eyes only".  Maybe I'm just too sensitive... but it is NEVER appropriate for me to think of fascism, eugenics, or brunette-dissing in the same context/thought with the hero.  EVER.

Am I overreacting? (Yes, I am, right?)  OK, full post to come...


Busy Start to 2013

To kick off 2013, I pledged to read 50 books for the Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge (never mind that my TBR shelf currently has over 200 books)...

Finished reading an ARC of Lisa Kleypas' Crystal Cove for H&H - and now I need to work on my draft.

Currently reading an ARC of Celeste Bradley's When She Said I Do - Ren Porter's story (that I've waited over 6 years for...)  I'm only into the first quarter of the book, and I can already tell that it's Bad Burrito Worthy!*  In case you didn't know already, I'm ree-heeaally excited for this one.  (Bragging fan-girl post coming soon!)

I've also won a couple giveaways on Goodreads (free books = frickin' awesome) so these reviews are forthcoming:  Family Pictures by Jane Green and The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne (Sydney Dovedale #2) by Jayne Fresina.  (Hooray for giveaways!)

I had the fortunate opportunity to attend a book launch/signing at Bethesda Public Library this weekend for the debut of Prophecy by Ellen Oh (it's a YA fantasy saga about a young demon-slayer girl kicking ass in ancient Korea).  I want to toss that one in the late-Jan/early-Feb TBR list - looks RULL good!

#5 and #6 on my TBR list for January are two books by Stacey Joy Netzel - Lost In Italy and Chasin' Mason.  I've been wanting to return to Italy for a while... and a dramatic western looks like a sweet winter escape from this frosty weather...

* Bad Burrito Worthy = big compliment.  This is saying "I'm really sick because I ate a bad burrito" as an excuse to sequester yourself at home in order to read and/or finish a romance novel.  Obviously, the novel must be amazing if it is worthy of this embarrassing/disgusting excuse - because you've basically implied that you're crapping your brains out, thus removing yourself of all previous obligations outside of your bathroom.  See related SBTB post about it here.