Tripleheader: Fool’s Gold Summer (x3) by Susan Mallery

“This is Fool’s Gold. You can’t mess with one of the women and then act as if it didn’t happen.”

I’m going to present these in descending series order, because Book 7 is an epic Mess O’ Crazy. With goats. But not enough goats.

Goat Warning

WARNING: GOATS AHEAD

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All Summer Long

  • All Summer Long by Susan MalleryTitle: All Summer Long
  • Author(s): Susan Mallery
  • Series: Fool’s Gold, Book 9
  • Genre(s): Contemporary
  • Publisher: Harlequin HQN, July 2012
  • Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($5.99 ebook)
  • Length: 376 pages
  • Trope(s): Small Town, Misfits, Friends with Benefits, Angst, Kick-Ass Heroine
  • Quick blurb: Former underwear model helps small-town firefighter overcome her fear of men.
  • Quick review: Great balance of fun, angst and hotness, with perfectly matched hero and heroine.
  • Grade: A-

“Lesson one,” he told her.

“How many are there?”

“As many as it takes. This is going to be a full service seduction.”

Damn, that was fun – especially considering where I started with this series. And the grand gesture? OH. MY. GOD. Second only to Nev’s in About Last Night. *~*swoon*~*

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More Goat

Dude. Hang in there. You’ll get to the goats soon enough.

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Heiress Without A Cause* by Sarah Ramsey

* Plus a little bit about Book 2: Scotsmen Prefer Blondes at the very end.

  • Heiress Without A Cause by Sarah RamseyTitle: Heiress Without a Cause
  • Author: Sara Ramsey
  • Series: Muses of Mayfair, Book 1
  • Genre(s): Historical (Regency)
  • Publisher: Spencerhill Associates, February 2012
  • Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($3.39 ebook)
  • Length: 314 pages
  • Trope(s): In Disguise, TSTL, Mistorical
  • Quick blurb: Spinster agrees to chaperone disgraced lord’s sisters – but when he recognizes her actress alter ego, she must pretend to be his mistress.
  • Quick review: A hot mess of a premise and a TSTL heroine, slightly redeemed by a few flashes of compelling writing.
  • Grade: C– (really more of a D+, but it’s not a Lady Alexandra level of bad)

The entire premise of this book is a big ol’ Hot Mess, with all the requisite confusing plot contrivances to force the action and motivations into something vaguely resembling logic.

I came very, very close to DNFing, but some swoon-worthy sentences (and the irrelevant fact that the author claims to be an Iowa girl) gave me hope that the writing might somehow overcome all the early red flags.

The setting….

Regency London. The fantasy-land Mistorical Island version (see below).

The backstory….

Our heroine, Lady Madeleine Vaillant, is half-French, orphaned by the guillotine because her parents stayed behind to protect their chateau. Or something like that. She lives in London with her aunt and cousins, desperately yearning for someone – anyone – to adore her (more on this later).

Our hero, William Avenel, is the newly-titled and very reluctant Duke of Rothwell. He’s edging his way back into the ton nearly ten years after purposely getting himself exiled to Scotland to escape his humorless father. The duke has three sisters – two are much-younger twins in need of a society chaperone, the other a scandalous widow.

The plot….

This is going to get a little hairy. Please be patient and save all your questions until the end.

Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, ca. 1885-1900

Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, ca. 1885-1900

Believing herself to be trapped in a “boring but comfortable prison,” and being desperately desperate for adoration (see below), our heroine decides her only option is to become An Actress.

Here, in a white muslin ball gown, with her brown hair tucked into a spinster’s cap, no one spared her a first glance, let alone a second.

Last night, wearing breeches and a wild, unkempt wig, everyone cheered at her feet.

The breeches and wig are part of her costume for her role in Hamlet. To be more specific, the LEAD role.

Our hero, who just happens to own the theater, is naturally stunned stupid by Lady Madeline’s amazing acting (performed under a French pseudonym, of course). Naturally, he accosts her in her dressing room, where he immediately recognizes her as the quiet Mayfair spinster he hoped to engage as a chaperone for his young sisters.

This recognition leads to our heroine (in her actress persona) pretending to be the duke’s mistress. For scandal-proofing and safety reasons, of course.

If you’re thinking that all these contrivances to get them into bed defy logic and reason, you are correct. All this happens in the first third of the book.

What made it even more frustrating is that our happy couple’s backstories are revealed too little, too late. Instead, we’re immediately dumped into the characters’ heads, where inexplicable things are happening. My “oh, really???” bullshit-o-meter was starting to veer off the charts to the Land of DNF. But once I understood Madeline and Ferguson’s motivations, I was much more willing to keep reading.

Of course, I still held a grudge throughout the rest of the book. My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever. Usually. I occasionally relent if the sexy times are hot.

There was nothing too painful about the predictable “Oh NOES, I’m RUINED, no wait, NEVER MIND” road to the predictable baby-filled epilogue. In fact, the calming of the craziness allowed for some really good writing and characterization to peek through – just enough to make me feel a teensy bit guilty for my petulant snarking.

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Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure by Sophie Barnes

  • Lady Alexandra's Excellent AdventureTitle: Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure
  • Author: Sophie Barnes
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Historical (er, Mistorical)
  • Publisher: Avon Impulse, May 2012
  • Source: Borrowed from public library ($3.99 at Amazon)
  • Trope(s): Regency, Virgins, Beta Heroes, Spies, In Disguise, TSTL, Mistorical
  • Quick blurb: TSTL hoyden teams up with worst spy ever to rescue brother who may be a traitor.
  • Quick review: Spectacularly unsuccessful mashup of Julia Quinn and Joanna Bourne.
  • Grade: D-

Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure popped up on the “Recently Added E-Books” list at my local public library. I figured, “Hey, it has a cheesy title, but you never know.”

Oh, I should have known.

It didn’t take long to get to the second of many What. The. Fucks. in this book (I’m counting the title as the first). By the middle of chapter two, I was double-checking the front matter to see if my library had been suckered into offering vanity press titles.

Oh, Avon Impulse, if this is what you’re publishing as “fresh, exciting content,” I don’t think I’m the kind of “evolved” and “savvy” reader you had in mind. Unless, of course, “Insulting Mistorical” is one of your new subgenres.

But before we get into the CAPS LOCK OF INDIGNATION (to paraphrase The Book Smugglers – this wasn’t quite rage-inducing, but I’m definitely indignant), let’s go on an Excellent Adventure with Lady Alexandra & Friends.

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The Cowboy’s Princess Wife by Mysty McPartland

  • The Cowboy's Princess Wife by Mysty McPartlandTitle: The Cowboy’s Princess Wife
  • Author: Mysty McPartland
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Historical
  • Publisher: Secret Cravings Publishing, January 2012
  • Source: Amazon, $4.99
  • Trope(s): Virgins, Alpha Males, Cowboys, Mystery Marriage, I Hate You Except When We Kiss
  • Quick blurb: Scottish Princess shows up on doorstep of Cowboy Earl claiming proxy marriage.
  • Quick review: I can’t decide which was worse – the bad history or the bad editing.
  • Grade: F

In the interests of fairness, and to prove that I’m an Equal Opportunity Crank, I decided to try out another title from the publishing house that signed Sable “Hell Yeah!” Hunter.

I chose The Cowboy’s Princess Wife because of the bodice-ripping title, the author’s stripper-rific first name and the blurb:

Even though she made a promise to her dying grandfather, Carlin only intends to deliver the letter to the Earl and leave. When he refuses to let her go she takes time to contemplate the situation and being attracted to him decides to give their marriage a chance.  Her husband was so annoying at times she re-thinks her situation and once again makes plans to leave.

Surprised at finding two beautiful women in his parlor Haydon cannot deny the overwhelming attraction he feels towards one of them. He is shocked senseless when he finds out his father has married him to the woman he desires. Bound by duty and honor he can never let her go. However, it doesn’t take him long to become irritated with her and all the crap she fill his house with. What makes him furious though was all the deception.

Can Haydon keep his princess wife safe? Can their love for one another over come all the obstacles?

Verb tense disagreement, missing commas and a house full of crap in the blurb? Wheee, let’s get started!

But before we get carried away….

Let’s take a look at the dedication page:

Author Dedication page - The Cowboy's Princess Wife

Reason #1 Why Secret Cravings Publishing Is Collectively Smoking Crack

The opening scene….

With her heart beating wildly in her chest, her stomach twisted in a knot of nervous tension, Carlin thought she just might be sick.

Oooh, barfing in the first sentence! But if this is a historical, shouldn’t she be casting up her accounts?

Her eyes wide open, she kept sweeping the area with fearful apprehension. Dear Lord, what had her sweet grandfather forced her into she silently asked?

All righty. So that’s the way it’s going to be. Thanks for the early warning.

Lord, she didn’t want to do this, did not want to be here, well she couldn’t do anything about it now since she already arrived, she despondently told herself.

I’m silently telling myself despondently that I don’t really want to read this but I paid $5 for it because I’m trying to prove a point so I’m damn well going to finish it.

“Och, Carlin, it dinna look too bad.” Layla tried to reassure her cousin….

Fake Scottish brogue and historically improbable character names. The WTF list is growing and we’re only on the fourth paragraph.

She definitely could feel herself becoming annoyed.

Well, we wouldn’t want her to waffle about it, so it’s a good thing she’s definitely definite.

Continue reading

Her Magic Touch by Sable Hunter – The Full Review

  • Her Magic Touch by Sable HunterTitle: Her Magic Touch
  • Author: Sable Hunter
  • Series: Hell Yeah! Book 3
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, Erotica
  • Publisher: Self-Published, October 2011
  • Purchase: Amazon, $4.99 (YES, I paid $ for it)
  • Tropes:  Insta-Love, Virgin Heroine, Cowboy Alpha Male, TSTL, Simile Sex
  • Quick blurb:Misogynistic daredevil asshole, paralyzed in a motocross accident, hires ugly voodoo priestess, who doesn’t know she’s really a guardian angel, to restore his manhood. Also, celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse makes a cameo appearance.
  • Quick review: Continuing Adventures in Epic Assholery and Virgin Sacrifice: In Which Sable Hunter Mistakes Misogyny for Romance
  • Grade: F

NOTE: I’m deleting the separate posts with my “read along” status updates because I was lazy and copy/pasted them into the full review…. And because I figured I should try to contain all the bitchiness within a smaller blogographical area. I’m leaving the Bad Sex roundup intact.

At the end of the Hell Yeah! Book 2 review, I mentioned that a few glimpses of the main characters of Book 3 made me cautiously optimistic that we would finally get a grown-up female worthy of being called a “heroine.”

I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

I also bitched and whined about the misogyny in the previous book, but Oh. Dear. God.

This was worse.

Therefore, I’m subtitling this review:

Continuing Adventures In Epic Assholery And Virgin Sacrifice: A Misogyny Manifesto

NOTE: For the purposes of this review, I’m defining “misogyny” as:

  • Infantilizing or otherwise demeaning and marginalizing women;
  • Inferring or stating outright that life without a man is not worth living;
  • Demonstrating double standards regarding male and female sexuality (e.g., manwhores rewarded with virgins);
  • Depicting assertive female characters as sluts;
  • Referring to female characters as “fresh meat”;
  • Repeatedly comparing female characters to abused or abandoned animals; AND/OR
  • Depicting a woman in premature labor serving coffee and doughnuts to lazy-ass men who are perfectly capable of getting the fucking coffee themselves.

It can be a little confusing, so here’s a handy dandy flowchart. Also available in printer-friendly PDF. It’s even color-coded for extra impressiveness! (Yes, I have a day job. Shut up and keep reading, and stop picking on me because I worked really hard on this and now you’re hurting my feelings.)

But wait, there’s more! In addition to the character inconsistencies, eye-rolling “coincidences” and inane detail we’ve come to expect, we also get a whole muddle of unnecessary paranormal nonsense – all of which completely distracted me from the Bad Sex. And of course that just sucked all the fun right out of this, officially making it the Absolute Worst Book I Have Ever Read.

(No, I have not read The Book That Shall Not Be Named, because I refuse to pay $10 for a crappy self-pubbed ebook. I only budget $5 for that sort of thing.)

Let’s get this over with – I need to cleanse my brain with… Something. Anything.

WARNING: This review/diatribe contains irrelevant analogies, bad sports metaphors, gratuitous musical interludes, self-indulgent run-on sentences (heh) and buckets of righteous indignation (it’s a manifesto, duh), with definite overtones of Mean Girl. It’s also very long, so I hope you brought snacks.

Read the full review at DearAuthor.com >>

One-Quote Review: Thief of Hearts by Karen L. Syed

  • Thief of Hearts by Karen L. SyedTitle: Thief of Hearts
  • Author: Karen L. Syed
  • Genre(s): Historical, Short Story
  • Publisher: Echelon Press, February 2012
  • Purchase: Amazon, free
  • Quick blurb: TSTL heroine + angsty kidnapper = amateur mess.
  • Grade: D

The difference between her present dilemma and what always miraculously happens in her dreams made her sad, and a little frightened.

It made me a little nauseous.

Hot on Her Trail by Sable Hunter

  • Title: Hot on Her TrailHot on Her Trail by Sable Hunter
  • Author: Sable Hunter
  • Series: Book 2 in the Hell Yeah! series
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, Erotica
  • Publisher: Self-Published, February 2011
  • Purchase: Amazon, free in Kindle Lending Library (regular $4.99)
  • Tropes: Insta-Love, Virgin Heroine, Cowboy Alpha Male, Serial Killer, Magical Orgasm Cure, TSTL
  • Quick blurb: Homeless orphaned dyslexic pregnant virgin hides out in baby daddy’s barn to escape her bipolar stalker/serial killer.
  • Quick snark: A return to Tebow Ranch, where the women are childlike virgins and the men are misogynistic fuckwads.
  • Grade: F

Soooo, after laughing my way through the first book of this series, I strapped on my big-girl undies for Book 2:

Jacob McCoy wishes for a wife and a family. Tis the Season for miracles when a young woman shows up on his doorstep: homeless, in danger and expecting a child – Jacob’s child.

Their relationship is complicated by the fact that, A – they’ve never met before and B – she’s a virgin. Jessie is determined not to be a burden to the McCoy family. As far as she’s concerned, she is just passing through. Jacob has a different opinion – he wants Jessie in his life, in his bed and in his heart.

It’s a good thing I suited up in protective gear, because in between the vomit-inducing Insta-Love and some serious WTFery, this book PISSED ME OFF. Therefore, I am subtitling this review:

A Return To Tebow Ranch: Where The Women Are Childlike Virgins And The Men Are Misogynistic Fuckwads.

This is going to take a while, so fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a long and wild ride. Like getting your bra strap caught on the fake horns of a mechanical bull and you can’t get off until someone takes pity on you and unplugs the damn thing.

Warning: If you don’t like spoilers or dirty words, go elsewhere. You know, in case that “fuckwads” thing wasn’t a big enough hint.

Read the rest of the review at DearAuthor.com