October 30, 2008

The Cupid Chronicles by Coleen Murtagh Paratore

Cupid ChroniclesWhen we last saw Willa Havisham, things were going quite well for her: she was back in Bramble, the town she loved and where she belonged; her mother had married Sam Gracemore; and she was happy.

In Cupid Chronicles we meet Willa again, now a high school freshman, she has been elected as Community Service leader of her class and she needs a cause to support. Luckily, a cause close to her heart arises when she finds that the Bramble Library is about to close due to budget cuts. Willa will see no such thing happen and begins to rally on behalf of her beloved Library.

Things won't be easy though, we are talking serious money, so Willa and her friends try to come up with ideas to gather money for it, the main event being a Valentine's Day party. Lots of things will happen in between, some good, some bad and some right down sad; but through it all, Willa's spirit shines through, her love for her town, for her books and for the people in her life give her strength to do what's right.

Again, one of the things I love the most about Willa is the fact that she loves books the way I love books, so whenever I read about her it's like I'm catching up with a dear old friend. Mrs. Paratore's descriptions of the town and the people are to die for, it feels like I'm seeing it right in front of my eyes.

Cupid Chronicles is a great second installment of Willa's adventures, I loved reading it and I couldn't wait to read more.

Go read it, you'll love Willa and Bramble too.


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October 22, 2008

Ain't She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Sugar Beth Carey, the prodigal daughter of Parrish, Mississippi has returned even though she swore she never would. Fifteen years ago she had dumped her boyfriend Ryan, her best friends, she had tormented Winnie Davies - who happened to be her half sister, the one her father actually loved - and had driven Colin Byrne out of town with a spiteful lie.

Back then Sugar Beth had been the most beautiful, the most dazzling and powerful girl in town, arguably, she was also the cruelest; but after three marriages (two of which were total failures, and a last one that had been actually good until her husband had died on her), losing all of her money and at times herself, she has come back to her hometown with one purpose in mind: To find a mythical painting a famous artist once gave her aunt - and which her aunt had willed to her without actually saying where it was or if it really existed.

The thing is, no one wants her around, still, she needs that painting and the money it would bring, so she sticks it out, which brings her into collision course with Colin Byrne a Brit who had come to Parrish once as a 22 year old high school teacher and whom she had driven out of town shortly after in a web of lies and deceit she had concocted to cover herself and her mistakes. Now, Colin is 37, rich and successful having fulfilled his dream of becoming a writer, he even owns Sugar Beth's former castle, a house simply known as Frenchaman's Bride, and he's wants revenge.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips has does remarkably with this book, Sugar Beth is not a perfect heroine, she's sarcastic and once upon a time she had been right down mean, but by the time the story starts she has changed after learning her lessons the hard way; making that transformation believable while keeping Sugar Beth true to character is something at which I am in awe. I liked Sugar Beth right from the start, and I rooted for her always, even as I learn that spiteful things she had done.

Colin is not an easy hero to write, he's haughty and uses funny words and has a great potential to be a pompus ass, yet, he winds up being more sexy than anything else. Smart and kind, a true prince charming int he most romantic of ways.

The supportive cast of character is just as good, Winnie and Ryan, their daughter Gigi, the town's people; they all nicely frame this story of redemptions - I'm saying it plural 'cause it's not only Sugar Beth who has made or makes mistakes, but I'm leaving it at that.

Like I said, it is a wonderful book.

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October 20, 2008

Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas

Seduce Me At SunriseKev Merripen has only loved one person his whole life: Win Hathaway. As a boy, when his gypsy tribe left him for dead, Mr. Hathaway took him into his house and he grew up next to the Hathaway siblings Leo, Amelia, Win, Poppy and Beatrix. He's fond of all of them, but is Win he loves; beautiful, blond and frail Win - and his affections aren't one sided.

After being sick with scarlet fever years before Win was left with weak lungs and is prone to fainting spells, but the weakness of her body has done nothing to diminish her love for Kev; when the book starts she's about to embark on a journey to France to reach a promising new treatment for people such as herself, her goal is to get better so she can finally be with Kev in the way she has always dreamed of.

Two years later, when Win returns from France, both Win and Kev have changed, they are still in love but Kev has hardened and he still can't bring himself to act on his feelings, no matter how strong they are, since he doesn't think he's worthy of her; and Win has decided she's not going to wait, she loves Kev, but she also wants a family and a normal life, and if Kev is not willing to give that to her she'll find it elsewhere.

Kev and Win first appear in Mine Till Midnight, where they almost stole the show with the longing and impossibility of their love, and I wanted to read more about them, and their story does not disappoint. Kev is a wonderful brooding hero, he even has a darkish past (it's more tragic and sad than evil); and Win is an smart, endearing heroine.

We also get to see more of the Hathaways - including Cam and Amelia, who are now married and happy; their chemistry is better in this book, btw - who are as eccentric as ever. Leo is coming to terms with what he has and what he has lost, Poppy is a bit dissappointed with London's Society (heads up, I hear her story comes next!), Beatrix is still the happy girl she has always been and has a sneaky ferret for a pet. A ferret who likes to steal Miss Marks, Beatrix and Poppy's governess, gathers; Miss Marks, too is a nice addition to the cast of characters.

And we find out what relationship there is between Cam and Kev (something that was hinted at in Mine Till Midnight) and I was quite happy with that too. And, finally, a couple from the original Wallflower book shows up and they are not Westcliff and Lillian (which made me very happy, since they hadn't been talked about in a while).


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October 18, 2008

A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

Wallflower ChristmasIt's Christmas time and the Wallflowers attack again!

First we met the Wallflowers Anabelle, Lillian, Evie and Daisy in their respective books (Secrets of a Summer Night, It Happened One Autumn, Devil in Winter and Scandal in Spring), which are adorable books about four friends who help each other navigate London's society and find husbands and happiness.

On this novella we met Rafe Bowman, Lillian and Daisy's oldest brother, who comes to England to court and marry Lady Natalie, a girl picked out by his father. Rafe is neither for or against the marriage but he's willing to go through it to gain joint proprietorship of his father's company European branch. In an effort to help him with the courtship, Lillian, Daisy and Anabelle, invite Hannah - Lady Natalie's cousin and companion - to tea, so they can pump her for information on Lady Natalie and how Rafe can woo her.

Well, things don't go as expected, mostly because the moment Hannah and Rafe met, sparks fly!

It's a wonderful, happy book. It doesn't mean everything runs smoothly, Hannah and Rafe do have obstacles to overcome but there is an enchanted feel about the book, maybe because it happens around Christmas and it seems like everything is possible.

I loved the novella, loved revisiting the original wallflowers and seeing that they are still friends and are still up to their old schemes! all in the name of love!

I just hope one day we get to meet the Bowman twins Ransom and Rhys, because if they are anything like Rafe, we are in for something good!

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October 17, 2008

The Wedding Planner's Daughter by Coleen Murtagh Paratore

Wedding PlannerWilla has moved all over the place during her 12 years of life, from Washington D.C., where she was born, to Bramble, Cape Cod, where her mother was born. Willa's Mom is a wedding planner, which would lead one to believe Stella Havisham shares her daughter's romantic nature but it's not true, at least not since Willa's Dad died shortly after their wedding.

Yet, Willa has grown up both a book lover and a complete romantic, and she's especially happy now that they are living in Cape Cod where she can be near her supportive grandmother, has a best friend and even a prospective dad for her and husband for Stella, Willa's English teacher Sam Gracemore.

However, the road towards love never did run smoothly, but Willa is not to be stopped!

Willa is a true delight to read about, she loves books like I love books and I would have loved to be her friend if she were real. If you are romantic or love books, this is a book not to be missed


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October 9, 2008

Secret Desires of a Gentleman by Laura Lee Guhrke

Desires of a GentlemanBook Three in the Girl-Bachelor Chronicles

Maria Martingale has a dream: to own her very own patisserie and now, thanks to the good fortune of her best friend Prudence (also known as the Duchess of St. Cyres from The Wicked Ways of a Duke) she's now able to afford her dream. And she has just found the perfect location for the shop. There is only one little problem: Phillip Hawthorne, the Marquess of Kayne lives right next door.

Phillip and Maria go a long way back, to when Maria was seven and Phillip was nine and they were the best of friends. Once, Maria thought Phillip was the one person she could count on to stand next to her and be her friend but 12 years ago - shortly after Maria's father died leaving her alone and scared - Phillip's brother Lawrence (who was also friends with Maria from childhood) offered to marry her. Sad and alone, Maria agreed but their would be elopement was fouled by Phillip, who was against it for more reasons than what he let on.

Then, Phillip broke her heart in a way that had nothing to do with Lawrence's abandonment and now, twelve years later, Maria just isn't willing to let him take her dream away. Well, things quickly fire up! and we are in for a delicious story.

One of the things I LOVE best about Laura Lee Guhrke is the way she creates true tension between her characters, Phillip and Maria are no exception. There is so much there, so much feeling and history, and things that won't stay int he past. I love how Ms Guhrke leaves you with the sense that you really know the characters and the whys of their actions.

I loved this book, I had been looking forward to it since January when The Wicked Ways of a Duke came out and I read the first excerpt for it. And it did not disappoint. And I'm still looking forward to the next Girl Bachelor Chronicle.


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October 8, 2008

Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock

Princess BenPrincess Ben tells the life and trials of young princess Benevolence of Montague from the moment she becomes the crown princess of her country until-- well, I'm not going to spoil.
Ben has lead a normal, happy, love-filled life next to her parents Prince Walter and Princess Prudence (or Pence, as everyone calls her), she's only her uncle's heir because Queen Sophia hasn't been able to have a child. But that's not something she thinks about much. She's happy eating and basking in all the love.

Until the day her mother and uncle are brought to the castle dead and her father vanishes. Things are uncertain as Ben's forced to endure both her parents' being gone and the not so tender-mercies of her aunt Queen Sophie who's as warm as an icicle. But there is one nice thing in this whole mess... Ben discovers she has magic powers! and thus begins her secret magic education - even though she's only really good at a couple of spells.

That's only the beginning of this story that reads like and old fashioned, honest to God, fairy tale. It's fun and Ben makes one very endearing narrator. She's plump, and she knows it and doesn't really has any complex about it, and I really appreciate that.

The only part that sort of bothered me a little was the romance between Ben and Florian (Prince from the neighboring country who's forever trying to conquest Montague); they do spend some time together but the LOVE seems a bit out of no-where for me. I guess I could do with more scenes of them together, though I liked them both.

Not my favorite Catherine Murdock book - that would be The Off Season - but it's a good book