Monday, December 20, 2010

Space Cowboys, Cinderella, and Some Black Suede Chaps

I read three great books last week...and they couldn't be more different. I got a Cinderella-inspired Harly, my first space cowboy sci-fi/romance, and some sexy humping love from Lorelei James.

First up.....Barbara Wallace's The Cinderella Bride, a Harlequin Romance. I haven't read too many Harlies...they conjure up memories of my sister's closet romance reading habit in high school. ☺ I have read a few....Touch Me, a Harlequin Blaze by Jacquie D'Alessandro, was fantastic. Some of the "Tycoon" books were less than stellar and chock full of clichés. The Cinderella Bride really resonated with me for several reasons. One, it rose above the cliché...the practical, nose-to-the-grindstone heroine transformed for one magical night in New York City. Wallace did a great job creating the pragmatic heroine Emma...her committed work ethic and loyalty to her boss, the matriarch of Kent Hotels, were totally sincere. The fantasy night in Manhattan was romantic and wonderful. The hero Gideon is a fabulous mix of charm, rugged good looks, maritime talents, and sophisticated hotelier. A great combination and totally appealing! The hilarious grandmother/temporary CEO who is addicted to soap operas was an excellent addition to the cast of characters. My only beef with the book is that the ending wrapped up just a little too quickly for me. Wallace did a perfect job drawing out their believable attraction and love affair, and I wanted more frosting on the HEA. Don't skimp on the frosting, baby!!!!! That's the best danged part.
Grade: A-

Next, I read a new-t0-me-author, Ella Drake. (Both she and Barbara Wallace are fellow New England Chapter RWA writers. Go, NEC!!!). The premise for her sci-fi/romance Silver Bound is fascinating. A woman has her mind wiped and becomes a sexual slave. The details about this process are incredibly cool and the difficulty in creating a character who has lost her identity is staggering. The heroine can't just become a mindless sex addict, or the reader won't give a crap about her. Somehow she has to retain some of her will and recognize her lost humanity. Drake does a wonderful job with this challenge, and also creates a sexy space cowboy hero, a totally absorbing and suspenseful storyline, a fabulous array of secondary characters, and delivers with the HEA. My only criticism with the story was that I was really hoping for a more blood-thirsty ending for the villain. For God's sake, he deserved a bad-ass whooping! I wanted the hero (or heroine!) to shoot 'em, stab 'em, torture 'em, fling him out of the space craft, wipe his mind (how do you like it, buddy????), etc etc etc. I know, I am shocking my own self with these violent tendencies, but seriously, getting carted off to jail was not a good enough ending for this big jerk-off. (Okay, time for some herbal tea). Otherwise, I loved this story, and am looking forward to reading more of Ella Drake's books!
Grade: A-

And the final chap-wearing, cowboy-humping, wrangler-wrangling, sexy read for the week...Lorelei James' Strong, Silent Type. I won a giveaway contest at Smexybooks and got this great freebie from Lorelei James...huge thanks to Mandi and Lorelei. Yippee! I adored the premise for this erotic story. A couple who has been together for 14 years has lost the spark in their marriage. I really like reading about older couples instead of young, horny characters all the time...especially in erotica. There is something very sexy about mature characters who have some life experience, and it makes for a more emotionally intense story. Quinn is a great hero...I love how he breaks out of his reticent shell to become more sexually adventurous, more romantic and more in tune with his wife's needs. Libby also realizes she's been short-changing her husband as a result of their infertility troubles, and their re-connection is completely satisfying. (In every way...Ride 'em, cowboy!). My favorite part of the book is when Libby makes Quinn's fantasy come true by wearing nothing but the fringy, black suede chaps. As Libby models the scandalous "outfit" Quinn says..."Keep goin. I'm gettin all kinds of worked up." Hee hee hee....gotta love those cowboys!

This is a great addition to the Rough Riders Series.
Grade: A

Okay, ladies and gentlemen. The Christmas Countdown Has we go!