Friday, June 27, 2014

Renee's Reading: 2014-05-24 through 2014-06-20, Part Two

And now for part two of the random selection of books from the last month of reading. I had a lot of fun with these books. (And that's an extra good thing, because it made it easier to resist just reading Skin Game over and over again.)

Before We Kiss, by Susan Mallery
Former pro-football kicker Sam Ridge has notoriously bad luck with women--from cheaters to fame chasers. Still, the gorgeous brunette at a bar in Fool's Gold looks harmless--until she takes him home and he discovers a room devoted to securing a man, for life.

Dellina Hopkins never guessed that storing gowns from a friend's bridal boutique would chase away her first and only fling. After her parents died, she skipped "wild youth" to raise her sisters. She doesn't want forever from Sam, but all night would've been nice.

His clean getaway gets messy when his firm hires her to plan an event. As long hours lead to late nights, the two succumb to temptation again. Has Sam's luck finally changed? Or this time, will Dellina be the one to run?

I think I loved pretty much everything about this book. These two characters were fleurking fantastic.

Dellina is so. . . comfortable with herself. I don't mean that in the sense that she's brash or overconfident. She's just very aware of who she is and where she is in her life and the world. For example, another woman might have taken Sam running out in the middle of the night as a huge blow, or maybe feel the need to go out of her way to clear up the misunderstanding once she finds out what his deal was, but she just writes it off as more his problem than hers and moves on with her life.

Sam, oh you dear man, I adore you tremendously. His wonky history with women had potential enough for amusement, but then you get to his parents and the whole thing just. . . I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my entire life. Of course, if they were my parents, well, let's just say I understand why Sam doesn't find their antics all that amusing. As a result he's got himself so very locked away and it was such a joy to watch him open himself up under Dellina's influence.

This was a really hot one too. Let's just say there's a scene or two in this book that made me wish I could have a chat of my own with Sam's mother. She might be a really strange mother, but she must be one hell of a therapist, because holy jeeze.

Overall this was a great read. Fun, funny, and sexy, with really great characters. :-)

Something About You, by Julie James

Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends in bloodshed. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago--and nearly ruining his career. . .


Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it's no joke: the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes--and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension. . . 

After reading three other books in this series, I had to go back to read the one from the beginning that I'd missed. And it wasn't just that I have a thing about reading series in order. I kept getting little glimpses of Cameron and Jack in the other books, those cameos that every series like this has, and I eventually got to the point where I needed to know more about these two.

Cameron and Jack are absolutely fantastic. They're both strong, smart characters and they have incredible chemistry together. The case was also interesting. Like A Lot Like Love this story was driven by the case the two are working together and the suspense element worked quite well. There isn't much mystery for the reader, since you find out who the killer is pretty early on, but James did a good job building the tension of it for the characters. (Though, of course, by reading the later books first I ended up having some spoilers on my hands there.)

I did find the random wedding weekend getaway bit a little farfetched. I mean, they're in the middle of a murder investigation. Maybe if it had been earlier in the book, perhaps, but once they've identified that Cameron is at risk, it just seems like too much of a stretch to me.

That one nitpicky bit aside, I really enjoyed this read.

The Immortal Crown, by Richelle Mead
Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect--special humans marked by the divine--are turning against one another in bloody fashion.

Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin's old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA's dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.

Meanwhile, Mae--grudgingly posing as Justin's concubine--has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter's connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission--and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.


Seriously, I have never read anything by this woman that I haven't absolutely loved and The Immortal Crown is no exception. I am really enjoying this Age of X series so far. I like the way she's taken the mythologies and twisted them together this way. I've never really studied Norse mythology much, having been more interested in the Greek and Roman varieties when I was younger and actually spent a good deal of time studying such things, but reading this series makes me want to dust off my old mythology texts and do some research.

This was a killer story, with brilliant intrigue, interesting magic, and a rich world. Justin and Mae are great, both individually and especially together, and I really enjoyed watching them grow and develop within their partnership. I absolutely cannot wait for book 3 so I can find out what happens to them next.

The parts of the story following Tessa--which the part of me that is so enamored with Justin and Mae just wants to go away so I can get back to them--were also quite good. She could have been nothing more than a random distraction, but I couldn't help but be drawn into her story and I'm starting to think maybe this girl is going to be the one the breaks the whole world right open.

I did think the society Mead builds for the Arcadia was a little cliché at times, but it was certainly far from implausible within the circumstances Mead has set up. Which is a pretty scary thought. (Man, I wish I was still naïve and innocent enough that I could look at the idea of a society built entirely on misogyny to an epic scale and say "Puh-lease! Like that could ever happen!")

Still, it's a very good installment of a very good series. It's a fun read as well as an interesting one. I know who I'm rooting for, but I'm not exactly sure what it is I want for them. There always seems to be a surprise waiting just around the corner and Mead is doing a great job keeping me guessing. Very well done!

It Happened One Wedding, by Julie James

After a humiliating end to her engagement, investment banker Sidney Sinclair is done with commitment-phobic men. But when her sister winds up engaged after a whirlwind courtship, she's thrown in to close contact with exactly the kind of sexy playboy she wants to avoid--the gorgeous best man. She's stuck with him, for better or worse, until her sister walks down the aisle, but that doesn't mean she has to give in to his smooth advances, no matter how tempting they are. . .


Special Agent Vaughn Roberts always gets his man on the job and his woman in bed. So Sidney's refusal to fall for his charms only makes him more determined to win over the cool and confident redhead. Only what starts out as a battle of wills ends up as a serious play for her heart. Because the one woman who refuses to be caught may be the only one Vaughn can't live without. . . 

I'm all caught up on this series now after reading this latest book and I'm so glad I stumbled upon it. This book was so much fun. Vaughn and Sidney were both fantastic characters and there was so much about their story that I just adored. Their initial meeting was hilarious and the whole relationship just got better and better from there.

Vaughn, oh what do I say about Vaughn? He's smart, he's sexy, he's funny. And he's so completely clueless. Sidney knocks him off his game right from the start and he just never recovers. It was fantastic to watch him fumbling around with his emotions. And I got to have the greatest evil grins every time Sidney texted him. (And especially that one time when she didn't text him.)

And Sidney had me absolutely charmed from the start. I loved that she's so confident and so sure of herself and also so completely lost. I really enjoyed the way she handled herself after the previous relationship. She didn't wallow and think of herself as a failure or anything. She just learned her lesson and made a new plan. I love a woman with a plan.

Of course, I also really love watching that plan completely fall apart. (See above glee regarding evil grins)

These were great characters to read and their romance was fun and hot and really well-written. So delightful.

I've read so many books that I really enjoyed lately, I'm almost jealous of myself. ;-) What about you guys? Anything interesting pop up in your recent reading?

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