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50-book challenge V

June 23, 2010

#41 – Larkin Rose – The Pleasure Planner

Brianna “Bree” Hendricks treats love like a commodity to be served up to her clients on demand, but has given up the search for a true love of her own. Logan Delaney is too busy trying to reconcile the legacy of her grandparents’ failed magazine company to invest in anything more than the occasional affair.

Can two women who aren’t looking for love find it in each other’s arms?

I’d call this one a PWP (Plot, What Plot?). It’s an okay read if you are reading for the love scenes, but the plot couldn’t convince me. The obstacles keeping the characters apart were too weak.

#42 – Karin Kallmaker – Watermark

Teresa Mandrell’s first encounter with advertising executive Rayann Germaine begins badly and goes downhill from there. Within minutes of their meeting, Rayann dubs Teresa a “bumbling amateur.” The event changes the course of Teresa’s life — she abandons the corporate world for what she hopes is a more satisfying career in Fine Arts Management. When budget cuts leave her without work, Teresa gets a job as a design artist in another firm, only to discover that the new department head is … Rayann! But the difference in the woman’s demeanor is so startling that Teresa can’t believe her eyes. Although the woman she’d fought with had been insensitive and rude, she was full of fire and passion. This Rayann is cold and withdrawn.

To Teresa’s chagrin, the woman doesn’t even remember their fight. In fact, the two fall easily into an increasingly harmonious work relationship. As they grow even closer, Teresa slowly uncovers layer after layer of Rayann’s hurt and pain. When she at last arrives at the terrible truth, Teresa is left with one burning question: How can she turn Rayann’s heart away from grief and lead her back toward life and love?

This novel is not light reading — it’s a novel of substance. It doesn’t take the easy way out by providing a happy ending in the traditional sense, but it’s still a hopeful ending.

#43 – VK Powell – Fever

Hired gun Zak Chambers expects to provide a simple escort service to philanthropist Sara Ambrosini, but nothing is as simple as it seems, especially love. Zak Chambers is a disillusioned hired gun who longs for a connection with life beyond her sat-phone and assignments she can’t share with anyone. Her boss lines up a cushy escort job to Africa to give her time to refocus. But the country she loved as a child holds memories she isn’t ready to face. Adding to her ambivalence about returning is the immensely attractive Sara Ambrosini, head of Ambrosini Philanthropic, who sees everything through the rose-colored glasses of wealth and privilege. Zak’s task is to provide security for Sara until they reach the future site of her primary school for tribal children in the bush country. But Zak soon discovers that Sara’s stubbornness and independence aren’t the only obstacles to the success of her assignment. Nothing is as simple as it seems, especially love.

This is VK Powell’s third novel, and it’s her best one so far. It’s an entertaining read with good descriptions of setting and characters.

#44 – Yolanda Wallace – In Medias Res

Sometimes you have to forget who you were to remember who you are.

For Sydney Stanton, nothing could be closer to the truth. Suffering from amnesia, Sydney finds herself alone in the middle of O’Hare Airport with no idea how she got there, where she’s headed, or even who she is. Her only clues to her identity are the ticket to Key West in her hand and the items in the backpack slung over her left shoulder.
Halfway around the world, Dr. Jennifer Rekowski, Sydney’s best friend and longtime confidante, holds the key to unlocking Sydney’s memory. But Jennifer, nursing a broken heart and trapped in the middle of a civil war, remains agonizingly out of reach.

This novel is different, but not in a bad way. It’s written in first person point of view, which worked well for this story. It’s a short read that will entertain you for a few hours.

#45 – D. Jackson Leigh – Long Shot

Equine veterinarian Tory Greyson has always played the safe bet. That is, until she runs into a very cute, opinionated, jobless journalist. The small town of Cherokee Falls is just a pit stop for Leah Montgomery while she figures out how to put her career back on track and deal with her grandmother’s slide into dementia. Tory is unable to resist when Leah talks her into putting money on a long shot at the track and then spending the winnings to buy a wild pony. Will Tory take a chance on Leah, too? Or will she stick with the safe bet and pursue Bridgette LeRoy, the calm, Zen-centered artist who arrives to teach at the local college?

This is Jackson Leigh’s second novel, and I could tell that she learned a lot from the first one and improved her writing skills. Long Shot is a solid, entertaining read that starts with a fast-paced, fun first chapter.

#46 – Ann Roberts – Beach Town

Kira Drake lives in the closet to protect her skyrocketing movie career. Controlled by her mother and her domineering agent, Kira’s love life consists of hidden affairs and short liaisons. She is miserable until a location shoot takes her to Ocean Beach, California, an idyllic seaside town. Away from her mother and agent, Kira savors her freedom and is charmed by the liberal locals who seem to embrace everyone.

Flynn McFadden, a veterinary student and surfing instructor, quickly catches Kira’s eye, and the women fall for each other almost immediately. But when Kira’s mother and agent discover their relationship, a plot is hatched to break them apart. Kira soon realizes she must choose between her love for Flynn and the realization of her dream.

I liked the concept of this story — love doesn’t immediately overcome all obstacles. What didn’t really work for me is the point of view Ann Roberts used. Each chapter is told from a different point of view, and even some of the minor characters get a chapter, which made it harder for me to identify with the main characters since we spent little time in their point of view.

#47 – Colette Moody – The Sublime and Spirited Voyage of Original Sin

The Gulf of Mexico, 1702: When pirates of the square-rigger Original Sin steal ashore to abduct a doctor to tend to their wounded, they end up settling for the doctor’s attractive fiancée–Celia Pierce, the town seamstress.

Together with Gayle Malvern, daughter of the wounded pirate captain “Madman” Malvern, Celia becomes a reluctant participant in an unexpectedly thrilling journey through the Caribbean. For Gayle, Celia’s presence is at first a welcome and shapely distraction, but as her attraction to the seamstress deepens, she realizes that Celia comes to mean more to her than is prudent. As Celia and Gayle navigate the perilous territories of gypsies, prostitutes, mercenaries, and slave traders, they forge a partnership born of necessity that Gayle soon hopes will veer away from insurmountable danger–and instead detour directly to her bed.

This one is different from all the other lesbian pirate stories out there. It’s a light, entertaining read with some great dialogue and lots of humor. The author managed not to stop the story by dumping information about the setting on us. The only irritating thing for me was the point of view, which included head hopping and wasn’t very deep — little reflection and no deep insight into the characters’ emotion. But then again, maybe it fits the light feel and quick pace of the novel.

#48 – Beth Moore – Risky Investment

Investment analyst Lynn Gregory was used to taking risks. But even Lynn has her doubts when Matt, her best friend and roommate, asks her to participate in a charade to hide his sexuality from his parents. The plan seemed simple enough – Matt would introduce his friend Chris as his fiancé. All Lynn had to do was back up the story.

The charade seems to be running smoothly as Chris, the straight woman persuaded to pose as Matt’s fiancé, plays her part well. But as the three are thrown closer and closer together, other tensions arise and Lynn is forced to decide if she is willing to make the riskiest investment of all, an investment in which she may lose her heart…

I couldn’t really get into this novel. It goes into backstory on page one (never a good idea), and the constant head hopping irritated me.

#49 – Gabrielle Goldsby – Paybacks

Cameron Howard’s first thought was to toss the invitation to her ten-year high school reunion into the garbage. After all, she spent most of her adult life trying to forget high school–more specifically, her tormentor Mackenzie Bryant. But then, maybe putting her old nemesis in her place is reason enough to show up. Unsuspecting Mackenzie has only one reason for attending the reunion. She wants to look into the eyes of the classmate responsible for getting her expelled weeks before her graduation…and apologize for making Cameron’s life hell.

First, let me say that I really liked Gabrielle Goldsby’s first novel, Wall of Silence. That book had two interesting, complex main characters. Paybacks wasn’t anywhere near as good. It’s a very short read, and the characters acted and reacted in ways that didn’t seem realistic or well-motivated to me.

#50 – The Spanish Pearl – Catherine Friend

When Kate Vincent and her partner travel to Spain, Kate is accidentally transported back in time…way back in time…to 1085. What does a woman like Kate do in a world of no antibiotics, no feminism, no Diet Coke? She denies it as long as possible, then sets her mind to getting home. Tricky with her now useless twenty-first century skills.

Things don’t go well. Kate is captured by a band of mercenary soldiers and becomes an unwitting pawn in the violent conflict between the Catholic kings and the Islamic Moors. In her struggle to stay alive and return to the future, Kate must flee exotic harems, filthy dungeons, and treacherous Moorish courts. But when a sword-brandishing woman with an astonishing secret sweeps into Kate’s life, Kate is suddenly torn between two women, and between two centuries.

This is a well-researched historical romance with rich details. The author managed not to bog down the story by providing clumps of information, and she made good use of the first-person point of view.

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