Monday, February 26, 2018

Springtime!

Greetings from sunny North Central Florida and my little dogwood tree. I was sure this one was lost a few years back, but it's hanging in there, even if it's a bit lopsided now from lost limbs.

I know it's springtime not just because of the increased level of sneezing and sniffling around town, but because I had my first sighting this week of a flock of Bare-Chested Buff Running Hunks. They're best spotted early in the morning but worth it. Who needs caffeine when you've got eye candy? (Note to self--restock snack bars and Gatorade in the feeder.)

Whether you're waiting for the lilacs up North or for the cooler autumn temps Down Under, I hope you get the weather you're longing for. In the meantime, I'll keep an eye open for the Running Hunks.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Review: The Lucky Ones

The Lucky Ones The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What does it mean to have a family? For Allison, being taken from unsatisfactory foster homes to live in The Dragon, an old mansion on the Oregon coast, meant she had a family of brothers and sisters who loved her and a father who was a world-famous surgeon.

But it all ended when she fell down a flight of steps and was whisked away "for her own safety" according to her aunt. It's an episode she can't remember and she's never had contact with her Oregon family since. Until now, over 10 years later.

I couldn't put The Lucky Ones down. It was at times poignant, funny, horrifying and sexy. It also deals with the tough questions of medical ethics, atonement, choices, mental illness and what it means to have a family that one isn't born into, but that's every bit as real.

Reisz is best known for her erotic Original Sinners series, but she's equally adept at writing engrossing mysteries. I look forward to her next book, no matter the genre.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day Greetings!

            Julia sniffed. “I am impressed you can recite poetry, Washburn. Rather like a counting pig at the fair. One watches in amazement, wondering how an animal can do that.”
            “Now that hurts! I can say pretty things, too.”
            He crossed to where she stood beside the bed, and took her hand in his. His touch was warm, and she gave an involuntary shiver having nothing to do with the night air.
            He stroked the ball of her hand with his thumb, soothing over the nicks and calluses raised by the chores of daily farm work. He took his other hand and lifted her chin, looking deep into her eyes.
            “Y’know how when you whack the woodpile, and all them big ol’ palmetto bugs come scamperin’ out? Your eyes are just as brown and shiny as a palmetto bug runnin’ in the sunlight, darlin’.”
            Julia made a strangled noise and pulled back on her hand, but Washburn was holding it tight, a smile dancing in his eyes despite the soulful tone of his words.
            “It is clear that pretty words are not your forte, Washburn. Best you stick to smuggling salt. And you can fetch your pallet after you let go of my hand.”
            “Aw, now I’m gettin’ warmed up. Let me think on it.”
            Washburn moved in closer, and still holding on to her hand, moved the other down her back until it rested on her backside. He began stroking her, a slow circular caress that seemed to facilitate his thinking if his furrowed brow was any indication.
            However, it was putting paid to her thought processes.
            “Your eyes are like pecans, Julia. Brandy brown, and like the nuts, you’re hard on the outside, but buttery on the inside. It’s a chore getting to that good stuff, but that’s part of the fun, workin’ your way past the shell to the rich meat. And when you crack a pecan and the nut comes out whole, have you ever noticed how it’s like two lips, plump and tasty and just waitin’ for the right someone’s mouth to enjoy all the pleasure trapped within?”
            A faint smile at that one. “Better, but not quite Byron.”
            “How ’bout this then?” He moved in even closer, and released her hand, running his finger along her eyebrow down to the outer corner of her eye, where he feathered it over the soft skin at her temple, a touch as light as a moth’s wing passing in the night. The hand behind her back pulled her in until she was standing between his legs, and could feel how seriously he was taking this wordplay.
            “Your eyes are the smoky bronze of coffee, rich and deep. It settles in your belly and warms you from the inside out. Hot, and able to get a man up in the mornin’, and keep him up all day. Without coffee, the day is dull, flat, lifeless. But with that first taste of the stimulatin’ brew, you know you can face anythin’. It makes your heart beat a little faster, and the colors all seem sharper, the air brighter.”
            Her mouth was dry as she swallowed. “Much better.”
            He angled his head toward her, his own lips a fraction from hers. “Jamaican rum,” he breathed against her mouth.
            She pulled back and looked at him, one eyebrow raised.
            “Your eyes are like Jamaican rum, darlin’, golden dark and potent. It goes down smooth but it has fire to it. A man has to be careful, too much can make him lose his head, drownin’ in honeyed dreams.”
            “Don’t lose your head,” she whispered.
            “Too late.”

--Smuggler's Bride


Happy Valentine's Day! Whether you're celebrating with your sweetie or taking a day to pamper and love yourself (and that's very important), remember that love and the words of love come in all forms. You don't have to be a poet to say "I Love You", and sometimes the simplest sentiments are the most heartfelt.

And don't forget, an entertaining romance is a delightful gift any day of the year. Treat yourself or treat someone you love. Hint--they go well with chocolate.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Review: The Wanted

The Wanted The Wanted by Robert Crais
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Robert Crais' Elvis Cole novels don't come out that often, but they're well worth the wait. Ever since The Monkey's Raincoat I've been a fan of Elvis and his partner/bestie Joe Pike.

The Wanted is another winner. Snappy dialogue, interesting characters, a solid mystery and a climax full of surprises you won't see coming, this one has it all. It's not to be missed by Crais' fans, but it also works well as a stand-alone for those new to the series. However, for true reading pleasure, I recommend starting with the first book and enjoying the ride.

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Thursday, February 08, 2018

Review: Saga, Vol. 8

Saga, Vol. 8 Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Saga is simply the best. It's the number one current graphic novel I recommend to people for the quality of writing and art combined into one brilliant package. It's about family, love, war, diversity and features Lying Cat, someone we could use in Washington right now.

If you've never read a graphic novel or you think they're simply comic books, check out Saga.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Review: The English Wife

The English Wife The English Wife by Lauren Willig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Engrossing tale of Gilded Age New York, the "400" who were the upper tier of society with secrets upon secrets leading to what appears to be a murder suicide. There's also an intriguing romance and good sense of place. Ms. Willig's talents for research and craft are on full display and it would be interesting to see if she follows the main protagonists into another crime-solving tale.

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Review: Two Kinds of Truth

Two Kinds of Truth Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It takes a special kind of writing talent to keep you invested in characters 20 books into a series. Michael Connelly has that talent. This latest Harry Bosch police procedural is a page-turner from start to finish with two mysteries going on: solving a double homicide at a small pharmacy and figuring out why Harry's being accused of falsely sending a man to death row.

The plot is as current as today's news, involving the opiate epidemic and DNA evidence to free the innocent. That's part of what I love about these books. Harry's aging in real time, dealing with different cases and feeling differently about himself, life and all that goes with it compared to 30 years ago.

We also get a guest appearance by his half-brother Michael Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer) and the interaction between the two of them highlights their different worlds and the different truths in their lives. A must read for Bosch fans.

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Thursday, February 01, 2018

Review: Dragonflight

Dragonflight Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a re-read of a SF classic, a novel that inspired much of the fantasy and paranormal romance written in the last 50 years. Yes, it's been 50 years since Dragonflight was published. Re-reading it as an adult gave me a new perspective and a new appreciation for McCaffrey's skill as a writer.

Part of what made Dragonflight and the Pern series new and fresh was relationships. The lead character was a woman, Lessa, and her complicated relationship with F'lar was like a breath of fresh air in a genre filled with guys doing stuff and it being all about the guys and their stuff or their quest or their Campbellian journey to adulthood. Women were there to be adjuncts or stuffed in a refrigerator before the end of the tale. In Dragonflight, F'lar is a warrior but it's Lessa who gets things done and makes necessary changes in Pern society to carry the day.

The Pern books can be enjoyed by people of all ages, with some specifically written for a younger audience. I highly recommend them.

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