One-Quote Review: Making Him Sweat by Meg Maguire

Making Him Sweat by Meg Maguire

  • Title: Making Him Sweat
  • Author: Meg Maguire
  • Series/Category: Wilinski’s, Book 1 (Blaze)
  • Genre(s): Contemporary
  • Publisher: Harlequin, February 2013
  • Source: NetGalley ($3.82 ebook)
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Trope(s): Lust in the Workplace, Sweaty Beta Hero, Heroine with Father Issues
  • Quick blurb: Aspiring matchmaker inherits estranged father’s boxing/MMA gym
  • Quick review: Likeable all the way around, pretty much what I expected for a Harlequin Blaze
  • Grade: B

Ten minutes? Ten minutes wasn’t nearly enough time to decide what to do. Then again, ten minutes was plenty of time to change into cuter underwear, and wasn’t that her answer, right there?

It seems like all the contemps I’ve chosen for this binge feature Lust in the Workplace, with the obligatory “This is such a bad idea” pre-sex banter. Fortunately, Maguire is really good at all the out-of-bed banter too, and she threw in some realistic conflict, so this one fulfilled all my expectations of a light and sexy Harlequin Blaze.

And I’m pretty sure I’ll read Prince Richard’s book.

One-Quote Review: Seven-Night Stand by Nicole Helm

Seven-Night Stand by Nicole Helm

  • Title: Seven-Night Stand
  • Author: Nicole Helm
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Contemporary
  • Publisher: Entangled, February 2013
  • Source: NetGalley ($2.99 ebook)
  • Length: 217 pages
  • Trope(s): Lust in the Workplace, Brooding Hero, Emotionally Uninvolved Heroine
  • Quick blurb: Reclusive pilot tries to keep reality TV scout out of his flawed family’s business
  • Quick review: A little iffy in the beginning, but the heroine’s panic attack saved the story
  • Grade: B-

“Don’t look at me like that!” She wanted to slap him away. She wanted to hold on to him and cling. She wanted a million things her mind couldn’t find the words for.

“Like what?”

Like you care. Like you want to care.

During the first few chapters, I was in the throes of an “OMG, what if I don’t like this, the author is a Twitter friend and I’ll feel so guilty and she’ll stop tweeting pictures of half-naked baseball players for meeee” flail. Then the heroine had her own flaming panic attack which made me like her much more and my Book Anxiety calmed to a tolerable level. But the heroine’s panic attack was induced by a brain-melting Storage Closet Sex Orgasm, which has never happened to me, so I’m still a little bitter about that.

ANYWAY. I found it really hard to connect with the first half of the story because heroine Vivvy is so purposefully “cool and detached” that I wasn’t feeling the romantic or sexual chemistry at all. But when she starts opening up after the panic attack and lets all the feelings in, she’s a much more compelling character.

Plus, you know, a brooding hottie pilot and Storage Closet Sex.

One-Quote Review: Playing the Maestro by Aubrie Dionne

Playing the Maestro by Aubrie Dionne

  • Title: Playing the Maestro
  • Author: Aubrie Dionne
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Contemporary
  • Publisher: Entangled, February 2013
  • Source: NetGalley ($2.99 ebook)
  • Length: 190 pages
  • Trope(s): Lust in the Workplace, Supermodel Ex-Girlfriend, Big Misunderstanding, Plot Moppets
  • Quick blurb: Professional flutist gets the hots for her community orchestra’s new guest conductor.
  • Quick review: Good start, but flattened into a predictable and superficial soap opera.
  • Grade: C-

Too bad he has a baton up his ass….

I am a classical music geek (you’re not surprised), so I figured this book would either win me over or piss me off. It wound up being somewhere in between, landing in the “well, I finished it…” category.

I was pleasantly surprised with the first few chapters because the author (a professional musician) actually addresses the touchy ethics of workplace romances. But when the first Total Drama Moment (heroine gets mugged in the alley behind the concert hall) led into some Now? Really??? lusting (she’s in pain from a possible concussion one minute, then Thinking Dirty Thoughts the next), my eyes started rolling.

Add in the superfluous Sick Child(ren) Plot Moppet(s) and the off-the-shelf Weasely Ex-Boyfriend and Supermodel Ex-Girlfriend rom-com stock characters, and the Sequined Showdown at the Donors’ Gala crisis, and this book wound up having about as much emotional depth as a John Tesh concert.

However…. Give sidekick Carly the Smartass Oboe Player a sequel with a Shy But Loyal Tuba Player and I AM THERE. I don’t care who writes it.

One-Quote Review: The Rake to Ruin Her by Julia Justiss

The Rake To Ruin Her by Julia Justiss

  • Title: The Rake to Ruin Her
  • Author: Julia Justiss
  • Series/Category: Ransleigh Rogues, Book 1 (Harlequin Historical)
  • Genre(s): Historical (Regency)
  • Publisher: Harlequin, February 2013
  • Source: NetGalley($4.61 ebook)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Trope(s): Horse-Mad Hoyden, Disgraced Nobleman, Marriage of Convenience
  • Quick blurb: Spinster recruits disgraced diplomat to ruin her reputation to avoid unwanted marriage.
  • Quick review: An unobjectionable but predictable read.
  • Grade: C

“Let me see if I understand you correctly. You wish to be found in a compromising situation with me, then have me refuse to marry you, so you would be ruined, which would prevent any honourable gentleman but your friend Harry from ever seeking your hand in wedlock?”

She nodded approvingly, as if he’d just worked out a particularly difficult proof in geometry. “Exactly.”

Julia Justiss was another one of my “gateway” romance authors, but this latest book won’t be on my favorites list. I was concerned by the title and the “Rogues” in the series name, and unfortunately it lived down to my lowered expectations by being a rather run-of-the-mill Regency.

I did, however, indulge in an extensive bit of comfort re-reading prior to diving into this one, so up next will be an overview of my Julia Justiss Backlist Binge.

The Rake’s Redemption by Regina Scott

The Rake's Redemption by Regina Scott

  • Title: The Rake’s Redemption
  • Author: Regina Scott
  • Series/Category: Everard Legacy, Book 3 (Love Inspired Historical)
  • Genre(s): Historical (Regency), Inspirational, Suspense
  • Publisher: Harlequin, November 2012
  • Source: NetGalley ($3.82 ebook)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Trope(s): Annoyingly Perky Heroine, Angsty Emo Hero, Insta-Love, Mistorical, Purple Prose
  • Quick blurb: Marquess’s daughter decides a dueling poet is the perfect man to acquire her father’s title.
  • Quick review: This wasn’t working for me as a historical, as a suspense, as an inspirational OR as a romance.
  • Grade: DNF

It started with the Regency heroine asking an uknown man to dance at a ball. Then we get this:

…she’d wondered whether she’d finally found the suitor she’d been praying for — someone who could help her protect the family name, as her father’s only living child.

And then, during an actual prayer, it got worse.

“Show me the man You mean to help me gain approval to carry on the title of Marquess of Widmore!”

So, yeah. It was like that.

One-Quote Review: The Seduction of Elliot McBride by Jennifer Ashley

  • The Seduction of Elliot McBride by Jennifer AshleyTitle: The Seduction of Elliot McBride
  • Author: Jennifer Ashley
  • Series: Highland Pleasures, Book 5
  • Genre(s): Historical (Victorian)
  • Publisher: Berkley, December 2012
  • Source: Amazon ($7.99 ebook)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • Trope(s): Angsty Hero, Perfectly Perfect Heroine, Reunited, Baby Epilogue
  • Quick blurb: Jilted bride is the perfect remedy for a tormented ex-soldier’s PTSD.
  • Quick review: A whole lot of angst, but none of the emotional intensity I expect from this author.
  • Grade: C

“You were light and life. You are heat, and I’m so damn cold.”

I’m not bitter about paying full price for this, and I’m definitely not giving up on the series, but Juliana was boring, Elliot wasn’t much different from every other scarred hero, and the HEA came *thatclose* to being a Magical Orgasm Cure.

One-Quote Review: Bewitching the Duke by Christie Kelley

  • Bewitching the Duke by Christie KelleyTitle: Bewitching the Duke
  • Author: Christie Kelley
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Historical (Regency)
  • Publisher: Kensington, December 2012
  • Source: NetGalley ($1.99 ebook promo, regular $5.99)
  • Length: 290 pages
  • Trope(s): Fiesty/Sassy/Saucy/Etc. Heroine, Angsty Grumpy Duke, Tragic Past, Big Misunderstanding(s), I Hate You Except When We Kiss
  • Quick blurb: Duke tries to evict local healer/midwife because of painful memories and unwanted erections.
  • Quick review: The title and blurbed worried me, and it just didn’t measure up to the fun of her previous books.
  • Grade: DNF

Dammit! This little hoyden had disturbed his thought process.

I struggled to reach my 33% decision point, and there just wasn’t anything different about this Regency to keep me reading. The dialogue was repetitive, the plot had yet to move forward in any meaningful way, and I never connected with either of the main characters.

Also: Important secondary characters are twins named Mia and Tia. That’s not a good way to encourage me to keep reading or, god forbid, buy their sequels.

However, I can recommend nearly all of Kelley’s backlist — her Spinster Club series has the smart heroines and swoony heroes and chemistry and romance and just-unpredictable-enough plots that Bewitching is lacking.