A Tale of Two NAs: Allison Parr’s RUSH ME and Erin McCarthy’s TRUE

I wouldn’t describe myself as a particular fan of New Adult books – I like (and occasionally love) the odd NA, but don’t search them out specifically. But I somehow ended up reading two NAs back-to-back: Allison Parr‘s RUSH ME and Erin McCarthy‘s TRUE.

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17203923So first, the Allison Parr: RUSH ME was an impulse buy, primarily because it’s currently priced at $2.69 at Carina Press.  For that price, I’m certainly willing to give a debut author a shot.  And I was glad, because it ended up being one of those compulsively readable books that kept me up for way too late.

When post-grad Rachael Hamilton accidentally gate-crashes a pro-athlete party, she ends up face-to-face with Ryan Carter, the NFL’s most beloved quarterback.

While most girls would be thrilled to meet the attractive young millionaire, Rachael would rather spend time with books than at sporting events, and she has more important things to worry about than romance. Like her parents pressuring her to leave her unpaid publishing internship for law school.

But when Ryan’s rookie teammate attaches himself to Rachael, she ends up cohosting Friday-night dinners for half a dozen football players.

Over pancake brunches, charity galas and Alexander the Great, Rachael realizes all the judgments she’d made about Ryan are wrong. But how can a Midwestern Irish-Catholic jock with commitment problems and an artsy, gun-shy Jewish New Englander ever forge a partnership? Rachael must let down her barriers if she wants real love–even if that opens her up to pain that could send her back into her emotional shell forever.

I loved it, but I can totally see how opinions may be all over the place and this Dear Author review is an alternative take on the book. What works for me, I think, is the escapism aspect in this story (which is very similar to Tammara Webber’s Between The Lines series, so that may be my weak spot), which means that it feels perfectly possible that the girl-next-door gets together with an NFL quarterback.  You do have to take the plotline with a pinch of salt – I mean, Rachael accidentally gate-crashing an NFL party? And then becoming BFFs with Ryan’s teammate? Definitely requires a suspension of disbelief, but I went along with it.

What I really liked was Allison Parr’s voice – it’s self-ironic and aware. Rachael is abrasive from the start (and to be fair, Ryan doesn’t exactly shower himself in glory either), but I understood where she was coming from and that self-defence mechanism of hers.  I also liked that this story felt real (I know, that kind of contradicts my escapism point, but stay with me) – the characters are far from perfect, there’s lust-not-love-at-first-sight and morning-after regrets, but the story’s laced with humour and spark, there’s some growing up being done, and yes, romance.

There were various elements that brought the story to life for me, including the strong sense of place in this book – I really liked Rachael’s NYC.  I also enjoyed the fact that sports played a large part in this book (disclaimer – I know next to nothing about American football and a true sports fan may just be cringing in horror), and how Rachael’s Jewish heritage was portrayed – again, it felt real, not perfect.  And as Rachael’s struggling to find her feet in publishing, we got a peek into the industry (though some potential sequel/prequel bait there felt strangely out of place).

I ended the book really rooting for Rachael and Ryan’s relationship – I’m not entirely sure they’ll have a HEA, but it’s definitely a HFN. They’re both in a much better place from where they started, and really, isn’t that what a satisfying story is all about?

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17332551Next  up was Erin McCarthy’s TRUE (and I keep on wanting to call it EASY – I obviously can’t differentiate between one-word titles) – this came to my attention after its giveaway at Dear Author triggered the extremely vocal thread on DA’s new commenting policy.  Which goes to show no publicity is bad publicity, right?  I then saw the ARC offered on NetGalley, and decided to give it a go.

When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job…unbeknownst to Rory.

Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t resist taking up her roommates on an opportunity to get to know her better. There’s something about her honesty that keeps him coming back when he knows he shouldn’t…

Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost…

Erin McCarthy is not a new-to-me author but I’ve only read her contemporary adult romances – I’ve really liked her earlier Fast Track books, but ended up feeling fairly indifferent about the more recent ones. Unfortunately, TRUE fell into the latter category for me.  It is kind of unfair for me to compare TRUE to RUSH ME because apart from the NA label, they’ve not much in common.  TRUE is more of a straight romance, while although RUSH ME has a romance at the core, I felt that it was also a coming-of-age story for Rachael, which adds a bit more dimension.

The start of TRUE intrigued me – the setup was in place to see Rory grow up, from feeling like the odd one out to becoming confident in her own skin.  In the end, I thought there were mixed results – there were moments where I did connect with Rory, understood her attraction to Tyler and empathised with her struggle between the safety of the familiar and the unknown.

But at other times, well, I struggled.

I alluded to RUSH ME feeling real, and I felt that this was missing here.  Not just the sense of place – this could have been ANother University campus for all I knew, but also other niggling bits.  For instance, Tyler’s smoking – controversial for a romance protagonist (and this is a romance).  BUT.  Tyler smokes all the time, but it never really came off as real – his habit felt like it was a shortcut (a) to signal he was not a typical “good guy”, i.e. that Rory was playing with fire and (b) for Rory to realise when he was feeling awkward (and react accordingly).  The actual implications of making out with someone who smokes, the constant smell of smoke, the taste – all of that was missing or glossed over.

Also, Rory’s friends – she’s best friends with her roommates.  Or so the book says.  To me, they were there just to trigger certain plot points – I never got the “why” behind their friendships.  I did like Rory’s relationship with her dad’s girlfriend though – for some reason, that slightly-awkward relationship intrigued me the most, probably because it came across as realistic and also matured over the course of the book.

And finally, the resolution – or lack of.  The ending came across as abrupt and I closed the book feeling that no real resolution had been reached anywhere, not in Rory’s relationship with Tyler, or her dad, or even with her roommates.  There is a sequel centering around two of the secondary characters, so it may be that Rory and Tyler’s story is not over yet.

TRUE certainly kept me entertained for a couple of hours, but at the end of the day, I never felt invested in the characters and I’m on the fence as to whether I’d pick up the next book.

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I purchased RUSH ME from the publisher’s site. TRUE was an ARC courtesy of the publisher/NetGalley.

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Mini-Reviews: The Last of 2011

Another batch of reviews cross-posted from Goodreads with additional comments in italics – this time it’s the final set of books that I read during 2011.  Be warned: it’s a long-ish post as it was a bit of an uneven reading month and I couldn’t figure out how to split them up without having a post all about “just okay” books.

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Men Under the MistletoeMen Under the Mistletoe edited by Angela James (m/m romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A really good collection of Christmas m/m romances – I loved the Josh Lanyon story (second chance romances always get me), the KA Mitchell contribution was funny-sweet-romantic, and Harper Fox’s story was just different and unusual. The only one that didn’t quite work for me was Ava March’s historical – it was a good read, but not a standout.

I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed by Carina Press’s Christmas anthologies, and this was a good one with three out of four contributors being favourite authors of mine.  

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Carol of the Bellskis (Bellskis, #1)Carol of the Bellskis by Astrid Amara (m/m romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An unexpectedly good read. I loved the inclusion of Jewish traditions in this story and found them fascinating. Romance-wise, I liked how Seth discovered new things about Lars and I believed in their relationship. A strong ending, and I just want to know what happens next now.

I think I have pretty much all of Astrid Amara’s backlist (though I’ve only finished her contemporaries to date). I really like her writing – I just checked as I don’t recall seeing any new releases from her lately, and found out that she’s been working on a romance set during an alternate-universe Crimean War.  Sounds very interesting. 

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McKettrick's Heart (McKettrick Men, #3) (McKettricks, #8)McKettrick’s Heart (McKettrick Men, #3) by Linda Lael Miller (contemporary romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A heart-warming story, though be warned, a bit of a tear-jerker. I did feel the climax was a bit of letdown after all the build-up, but a satisfying read overall. The relationship between Keegan and his cousins was hilarious, and I’ll be picking up their books.

I can go months without reading a Linda Lael Miller, and then I sometimes feel as though I need a LLM fix, even though she can be hit or miss for me.  I think I picked this off the shelves at random – it hit the right buttons. 

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Bad Boyfriend (Bad in Baltimore, #2)Bad Boyfriend by K.A. Mitchell (m/m romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After some slight confusion about exactly who was who, I got into the story – this was a romance with a nice dollop of angst, and there was a good build-up to a satisfying ending, though I’m not quite sure if Quinn’s relationship with his ex’s family had been properly resolved? Also, minor spoiler – click through to read.

I liked this, but not one of her standout books, IMO.  I’m hoping the new release works better for me. 

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Fate's Edge (The Edge, #3)Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews (paranormal romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I find the Edge world fascinating, and George and Jack, who play quite a large part in this book, pretty much stole the show whenever they appeared. As for the Kaldar/Audrey relationship, I liked them well enough and thought they suited each other.However, I never really got into this book – it may be that the writing just failed to capture my imagination completely. A good read, but not one of my favourite Ilona Andrews.

I bought (and read) all the Edge books, but they never quite worked as well for me as the Kate Daniels books.  I think part of it is because the world-building felt a bit more forced compared to the Kate Daniels’ alternate-Atlanta world.  It also may be due to the fact we get different h/h pairings for each book in this series – I certainly feel more invested in George and Jack as recurring characters… 

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Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner (Lord John Grey, #3)Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon (historical mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book kept me occupied during a very long plane journey. While there was more Jamie than I expected, I liked how the book filled in some of the gaps in the main Outlander story. I really enjoy the relationship between Lord John and his brother Hal – it’s not something we’re often given the chance to see. And as with all Diana Gabaldon’s books, this book is jam-packed with entertaining historical detail. I’m always glad to revisit the Outlander world, and this was a solid read.

Diana Gabaldon did a Q&A and cover reveal on the upcoming Outlander novel, if you missed it.  Part of me almost prefers her “shorter” side-novels about Lord John, because they’re not the epic Claire/Jamie sagas where I have to remember this large cast of characters, but I’m glad we finally get to find out what happened next. 

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Fire and Ice (Buchanan, #7)Fire and Ice by Julie Garwood (romantic suspense)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m at a loss as to why something that I would think endearing (possibly?) in a historical romance doesn’t translate to contemporary. In the book, the heroine says/thinks something along the lines of “He loves her (her being the best friend, IIRC) and I love her therefore he is okay” (yes, I’m paraphrasing wildly but it’s been a while and I don’t have the book to hand). And I sit there and think “naive girl”. Whereas I swear I have read something similar in Julie Garwood’s historicals and probably went “Awww…”.

So that aside, FIRE AND ICE was okay, nothing special.

Ha. I did struggle with this one.

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Promises in Death (In Death, #28)Promises in Death by J.D. Robb (futuristic romantic suspense)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I ended up skimming through most of this book, to be honest. It was an impulse buy, and as with the more recent In Death books I’ve read, I didn’t really get into the story – it may be that I’ve read too many of these books and they’re all starting to come across as too similar. I did find it interesting to get to know Morris in more depth (I have to say he was not what I imagined him to be) and yay, Eve gets a new car! Apart from that, Eve was Eve, Roarke was Roarke, etc etc – no earth-shaking developments in this book.

I think I’ve pretty much given up on this series.  Unless I read a review that says Nora Roberts has completely shaken things up.

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Trio of Sorcery (Diana Tregarde, #0.5) (Jennifer Talldeer, #2)Trio of Sorcery (Diana Tregarde, #0.5) by Mercedes Lackey (fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was familiar with Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde and Jennifer Talldeer books and was keen to read more stories set in their world – they were good stories, but not particularly memorable. I did like how she explored “previous contemporary” settings in the first two stories – it brought a few nostalgic memories back. The third story featuring a new protagonist focused on computers (and I’m sure it’ll become “previous contemporary” quite quickly as well) – again, it was a decent read, but didn’t stand out. I’m glad I restrained myself and waited for the library request to come through. It’s possibly worth the price if you get it in paperback, but not worth the hardcover, IMO.

I remember being so tempted to get the hardcover for this one, primarily because of the new Diana Tregarde and Jennifer Talldeer stories. I’m glad common sense prevailed.  Nice to revisit these old settings though. 

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Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (Gallagher Girls, #2)Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter (YA)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A fun, light read, but IMO, the book lacked substance and left me somewhat unsatisfied. I continue reading this series because it’s such a great concept (secret spy-school for girls!), but I’m not invested.

I keep requesting this series from the library because I want these books to click with me, dammit.  They end up being more mind-candy than anything else.

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A Stone Creek Christmas (Stone Creek, #4) (Silhouette Special Edition #1939)A Stone Creek Christmas (Stone Creek, #4) by Linda Lael Miller (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not a massively memorable story – I bought it primarily because I was in the mood for Christmas stories. I think the talking-to-animals angle plus Kris Kringle required a suspension of disbelief that I couldn’t quite manage.

And this was a Linda Lael Miller miss.  Too cute-sy for me, IIRC.

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Legacies (Shadow Grail, #1)Legacies by Mercedes Lackey (YA urban fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have a soft spot for academy/boarding school type stories, so was pleasantly surprised to find out that this was one. But at the end, I wasn’t quite sure where the overall story was going and I didn’t feel invested in the characters. There wasn’t enough pay-off to make me interested in the next book.

It’s been a while since a new Mercedes Lackey novel really worked for me, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that this was no exception.  I noticed the final book in this trilogy is out this year, but I’m probably not going to bother. 

Books for April

First up, Andrea K Höst‘s YA fantasy HUNTING is out (yes, the book that I’ve been going on about for the past couple of months) – with a Smashwords 50% off coupon valid until 12 April (bonus: Smashwords allows you to download your ebook in multiple formats).  I’m really enjoying HUNTING as it happens to have a lot of my favourite themes (girl-in-disguise, academy-type setting) wrapped up in a murder mystery with a sprinkling of romance… but then you wouldn’t really expect anything else, would you?

On to April new releases…

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15998118Sophie Kinsella‘s WEDDING NIGHT (contemporary romance): I never thought I’d be looking forward to a Kinsella book (I think I’d filed her and her Shopaholic novels under chick-lit, which doesn’t often work for me), but after unexpectedly enjoying her 2012 release I’VE GOT YOUR NUMBER, I’m definitely planning on reading this.

Lottie is tired of long-term boyfriends who don’t want to commit to marriage. When her old boyfriend Ben reappears and reminds her of their pact to get married if they were both still single at thirty, she jumps at the chance. There will be no dates and no engagement—just a straight wedding march to the altar! Next comes the honeymoon on the Greek island where they first met. But not everyone is thrilled with Lottie and Ben’s rushed marriage, and family and friends are determined to intervene. Will Lottie and Ben have a wedding night to remember or one to forget?

Out April 23

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16006196KA Mitchell‘s BAD ATTITUDE (m/m romance): KA Mitchell’s recent releases have been a bit uneven for me.  But you know, KA Mitchell.  I’ve certainly still giving this a go.

As the openly gay middle son of the most powerful family between Manhattan and Miami, Gavin Montgomery knows his role—look good in a tuxedo and don’t make waves.

Waves are the least of his worries when he tries and fails to keep a friend from jumping off a high bridge. His last thought as he falls in too is that someone else will have to take over as family disappointment…until he’s pulled from the water by a man with an iron grip, a sexy mouth and a chip on his shoulder the size of the national deficit.

Police rescue diver Jamie Donnigan finally has life the way he wants it. Okay, he could have done without losing his father, quitting smoking and watching his friends drift into couplehood. At least he’s managed to escape that particular trap.

When Gavin’s father turns Jamie’s routine rescue into a media circus, he figures if he’s going to suffer for his good deed, he might as well enjoy a roll in the sack. But Jamie’s not immune to Gavin’s cultivated charm…and all the risks that come along with giving in to it.

Warning: Includes above the recommended daily allowance for snark, attitude, stubbornness and a variety of scorching hot sex (even for this author).

Out April 23

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15703332Jaclyn Moriarty‘s A CORNER OF WHITE (YA fantasy):  I fell in love with Jaclyn Moriarty’s Ashbury/Brookfield Australian YA novels, not least because she pulled off the epistolary-style delivery beautifully, so I’m looking forward to reading her new series.  Which sounds very different to the Ashbury/Brookfield books, but hopefully just different-different (as opposed to different-bad).

The first in a rousing, funny, genre-busting trilogy from bestseller Jaclyn Moriarty!

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).

Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot’s dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.

As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds — through an accidental gap that hasn’t appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called “color storms;” a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the “Butterfly Child,” whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses…

Out now

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16160071Carla Kelly‘s HER HESITANT HEART (historical romance): If you read Carla Kelly’s blog, you’ll know she gripes a lot about the covers and titles that Harlequin give her.  This time around, I don’t think she has anything to complain about.

Tired and hungry after two days of traveling, Susanna Hopkins is just about at the end of her tether when her train finally arrives in Cheyenne. She’s bound for a new life in a Western garrison town. Then she discovers she doesn’t even have enough money to pay for the stagecoach! Luckily for her, the compassionate Major Joseph Randolph is heading in the same direction.

As a military surgeon, Joe is used to keeping his professional distance. But, despite Susanna’s understated beauty, he’s drawn to this woman who carries loss and pain equal to his own and has a heart that is just as hesitant and wary…

Out April 23

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12905418Suzanne Brockmann‘s HEADED FOR TROUBLE (romantic suspense): I’ve a soft spot for her Troubleshooters books, so will most likely be getting this (I’m pretty sure this is a mixture of previously-published and new short stories).  Speaking of these books, Suzanne Brockmann mentions she’s working on a trilogy related to her Troubleshooters series in her latest newsletter (sorry, can’t find it online) – does that mean her paranormal/futuristic suspense series is on hold?  I didn’t care for the first book, FWIW.

New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann, whom USA Today calls “the reigning queen of military suspense,” breaks out a rapid-fire collection of pulse-pounding, heart-tugging stories and novellas featuring the intrepid men and women of Troubleshooters Inc., fiction’s hottest ultimate counterterrorism squad.

• Tough-as-nails Troubleshooters operative Sam Starrett learns the agony of loving someone in danger—and the hell of waiting on the home front—as his wife, Alyssa, hurtles into a foreign hotspot that’s about to boil over.

• Navy SEAL Frank O’Leary’s ill-fated holiday reunion with his older brother takes a turn for the better—when a chance encounter on a rainy New Orleans street gives Frank a reason to be thankful after all.

• In a maze of tunnels deep beneath a military base in Germany, Jules Cassidy, Alyssa Locke, and their comrades in arms match wits with terrorists on a mission with explosive consequences.

Plus more never-before-released adventures featuring Jenk, Izzy, Gillman, Lopez, Kenny, Savannah, and other members of SEAL Team 16—along with Suzanne Brockmann’s exclusive interviews with her beloved characters.

Looking for the best kind of trouble? You’ve found it!

Out April 30

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16074560Deanna Raybourn‘s A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS (historical romance): I am a bit on the fence about this because of mixed reviews, but I have the prequel novella “Far in the Wilds” on my Kindle, so will read that before deciding one way or other.

Paris, 1923

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even amongst Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather’s savannah manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming-yet fleeting and often cheap.

Amidst the wonders-and dangers-of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for-and what she can no longer live without.

Mini-Reviews: Carla Kellys and New-to-Me Authors

More reviews originally posted on Goodreads (maybe I should speed up my cross-postings?) – as always, my in-hindsight-type comments in italics.  This time, a batch of Christmas-themed Carla Kellys and new-to-me authors from December 2011.

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Coming Home for Christmas: A Christmas in Paradise\O Christmas Tree\No Crib for a BedComing Home for Christmas: A Christmas in Paradise\O Christmas Tree\No Crib for a Bed by Carla Kelly (romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this collection very much – it left me with warm fuzzy feelings (and slightly teary-eyed a couple of times throughout), and I would totally recommend it for anyone who wants to get into the Christmas mood (yes, I read this in December!).

I remain impressed at how versatile Carla Kelly’s writing is – each story was set in a different time period and location – and I loved the medical focus in this collection. I would have liked more to have been made of the family relationship that linked the three stories, but really, that’s just me being picky.

It’s rare I read newly-released Carla Kellys – for some reason, I tend to read from her backlist more, but this was (at that time) a new collection.  Beautiful Harlequin cover too.

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Carla Kelly's Christmas CollectionCarla Kelly’s Christmas Collection by Carla Kelly (romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lovely collection of Carla Kelly’s previously-published short stories in various Christmas anthologies. Not many authors can do short stories that leave you feeling satisfied, but she appears to have a knack for it. This also reminded me of how much I like her depiction of historical wartime romances – realistic yet romantic.

I think I had a couple of the short stories in the original anthologies, but I was more than happy to re-read.  

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Marian's Christmas WishMarian’s Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly (romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This had a lot more story than I expected – in a good way! I really liked this book.

The large age gap between the h/h bothered me slightly at first – or perhaps it was the age of the heroine (16 going on 17) – but I ended up going with it eventually, especially as you do see Marian mature throughout the book. I loved the close relationship between Marian and her siblings as well.

A really wonderful Christmas romance – one that leaves you with that feel-good feeling.

And I wrapped up my Carla Kelly mini-glom with this book – she’s been releasing a lot of her backlist in e, and they are usually well worth the money.

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Stand-In WifeStand-In Wife by Karina Bliss (series romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first Karina Bliss – I’ve heard good things about her writing and I ended up really liking this book.

This was a twins/swapped identities storyline, which is always fun, and I totally believed in the relationship between Viv and Ross. I have to say I didn’t really care for the secondary romance (or should that be the secondary h/h?) in the book.

All in all though, a really good romance and I look forward to reading the other two related books.

I had completely forgotten about this mini-series. Must pick up again, especially as I’ve a sneaky suspicion I did end up buying more Karina Bliss after reading this book. 

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Point of Honour (Sarah Tolerance, #1)Point of Honour by Madeleine E. Robins (alternate-history mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an impulse buy, which turned out to be a rather enjoyable historical mystery.

The writing quickly took me back to the British regency era, albeit a slightly alternate-history version, with a protagonist, who, as a “Fallen Woman” now making her way as a private inquiry agent, provides an unusual viewpoint. While I haven’t completely warmed to Sarah Tolerance, I have a feeling I will in future books, and hopefully more about her past will be revealed.

I liked the London backdrop very much – being familiar with the places and streets mentioned, I found it fascinating to try and reconcile the Cheapside and Bow Lane as described in the book to their present-day incarnations. As for the mystery, I figured out one twist and was feeling quite smug – until the next one caught me by surprise.

Good read and I would look up the next books in this series – there is potential here.

I need to revisit this series as well.  I didn’t get around to reading the second book because I couldn’t find e-copies at a reasonable price, IIRC.

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Master of None (Gavyn Donatti, #1)Master of None by Sonya Bateman (urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This debut book with djinns (one of the rarer paranormal creature sightings in UF) was packed full of fast-paced (if slightly gory) action, and it kept my attention throughout.

I found this slightly reminiscent of Jim Butcher‘s Harry Dresden books (or is that because it’s a wisecracking male protagonist in a UF book?). While a few things didn’t quite work for me (the rather confusing background to the conflicts (I skimmed), [spoiler – click through to read], and the slightly-too-neat wrap-up (and setup for the next books)), I’d still pick up the next book.

And three for three.  I never did get around to picking up the next book.  Although having just looked the author up, it looks as though there were only ever two books in this series.  Anyone know if that was planned or if the series was dropped?