My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My life next doorTitle: My Life Next Door
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Rating: 2 out of 5

Samantha has a very neat and orderly life. Contrary to the Garett’s who stay next door and have a huge, loud and messy family. Samantha has grown up watching the Garett family from her rooftop until one day one of the Garett boys, Jase, climbs on her roof to talk to her. It’s the start of a summer romance in spite of the differences in their status and the kind of life they lead. Samantha’s mother is rich and is looking forward to winning the election in her hometown. Jase’s dad is a hardworking guy who runs a barely surviving hardware store. The difference is stark but that doesn’t stop their romance from blooming. Things happen and Samantha has to make a difficult choice. Thats the plot.

I don’t get it. This book is everywhere.

There are rave reviews and dream cast and all kind of stuff. My problem with the book is that the choice Samantha has to make doesn’t come up until the last 50 pages of the book. The rest of the book feels like a slow lazy and boring summer day. Neither Samantha’s, nor Jase’s characters are very interesting. There was nothing quirky, different about either of them, which makes them kind of forgettable in my opinion. Tim and Nan (Samantha’s friend) on the other hand are complex characters and I would have rather enjoyed their story more.

I kind of felt my mind drifting away while reading the book and that is definitely not a good thing. It was an easy and fast read but that can be said about most YA books. Read it at your own risk.

Shameless by Anne Stuart

Title: Shameless
Author: Anne Stuart
Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Mira; Original edition (June 21, 2011)
Genre: Historical romance
Source: Review copy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

My Thoughts:
Shameless is the 4th book in the House of Rohan series and honestly I wouldn’t have picked it up if I had known it was a series book. I prefer to read them in order. But I was traveling and I needed something light to read and this was the only book that caught my attention. Recently my luck has not been very good when it comes to Romance novels. I thought it’s probably because I’m tired of this genre but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It was probably not finding any author to “click” with. I’m trying to read new authors lately and find that none have been to my liking, but this book I liked. I can’t say I loved it but I liked it enough to try other books written by Anne Stuart.

Shameless is a historical romance. After the death of both his wives in child-birth, Benedick just wants to find a docile wife to give him an heir and leave him alone to pursue his own thing. He is almost on the verge of finalizing a certain Miss Pennington when he meets Melisande. Melisande is on a crusade to save all the prostitutes in the city by giving them shelter and a means to begin a new life. When she meets Benedick he is everything that she doesn’t need in a man. He has been “serviced” by many of the girls under her care and is quite famous for his love-making skills. Melisande doesn’t need a guy like him when she has sworn off marriage and “the pleasures of the flesh” because of her experience with her very old husband and later a dispassionate young man. Both Benedick and Melisande are obviously unsuited for each other (talk about clashing interests) but they have to work together to save Benedick’s younger brother and Melisande’s girls. Their attraction to each other is obviously undeniable and they end up falling for each other.

Although the story line is pretty predictable, the heavenly host angle is very interesting. I wouldn’t say the book was outstanding but it kept me engrossed and at no point was I bored with the book. Benedick and Melisande, are both very interesting characters. Obviously a rake like Benedick will be a hero only in romance novels. But that’s the beauty of it in my opinion. I tend to believe most of the crap when it comes to romance novels. I can believe that a rake like Benedick will leave his bad ways and settle down and be a one woman man when he finds the right one. Both the central characters struggle with their attraction to each other not wanting to accept it nor wanting to let it go. It’s a nicely developed romance for sure.

I believe I will track down the other books in this series after some time. After all good historical romance authors are hard to find.

Have you read anything by Anne Stuart before? What book or series would you recommend?

Once and Always by Judith McNaught

Title: Once and Always
Author: Judith McNaught
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Pocket (September 20, 1990)
Source: Personal Library
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

My thoughts:
I had heard a lot about this author but I never really remembered reading anything by her. There was a time when I used to devour one romance novel a day, so it might be possible that I have read one of her books. Anyway, this one sounded good. I have to say the summary at the back is kind of misleading.

Victoria and her sister Dorothy are orphaned at he age of 18 and 17 respectively when their parents die in an accident (Horse carriage). Having no one else to look after them their doctor finds out that their mother was royalty, daughter of a countess. So he sends them from America to England to their cousins.

The cousins turn out to be Charles who is an elderly Duke and Jason who is a young and troubled Marquess. Charles wants Victoria and Jason to get married but they both hate each other at sight. Jason does not want another women in his life after his ex wife deceived him and Victoria does not want an arrogant and rude man as her husband, besides

she already has a man called Andrew back home. She is sure he will be coming to get her as soon as he returns home and discovers she is gone.

The story basically revolves around these two. I loved her writing style and I do believe I have found another favorite Romance writer. The book could have been reduced in length at least by 100 pages though. Victoria was a lovely, vivacious, lively character and although I loved her she was almost too good to be true. Jason was a very nicely fleshed out character and I could very well understand why he behaved the way he did.

I have 2 things I would like to mention here though.

Firstly I was very sad that the author decided to make use of the stereotypical and ignorant descriptions of the Indians. She describes them as ragged beggars. I mean come on. As one reviewer on Amazon puts it perfectly

Throughout generations and even now the dominant religion in India has been Hinduism. So why were the “poverty stricken dirty Indians” dragged into the sadistic torture of a white British(who by the way unjustly occupied India during that era and tortured the rightful citizen and looted the country) Christian boy?

She also mentions that India is always hot. This is something I have read in so many novels and I thought I should really mention something this time. The author is writing about Delhi and yes, India is a tropical country and it is hot. But it is not always hot, in fact Delhi has very severe winters. I wish the authors could check the facts first.

Also, there is a tone in the novel that suggest that Americans are better than the British and although one can argue the fact by saying that the hero and her Uncle are British, they seem to be the exception. Overall I found it a little offending even though I am not British. I don’t know if I’m being too sensitive here, but if you’ve read this book ad you’re not an American, you could let me know.

In spite of my complaints, Once and Always was entertaining. I’ll definitely be reading more of her books. Which one do you suggest?

Falling in love by Pauline Trent

Title: Falling in Love
Author: Pauline Trent
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Publisher:  Zebra (February 1, 2009)
320 pages
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

As a fan of the romance genre, I loved this book. I just breezed through it.

Chris Montgomery is in special forces and after a fatal injury moves to his grandfather’s house in a small town called Lambert Falls. Angie works in a diner full time and is quite happy and content with the way her life is. After her parents death she lives with her younger sister and her uncle Bobby who is a police officer in the town.

For Angie, Lambert Falls is a place she calls home, a place where she knows everything about everyone, a place where people take care of each other, whether related or not. Enter Chris. Although the attraction is immediate and intense Angie holds back until she is sure that Chris will not leave town and will settle there. For Angie, Lambert Falls is a very important part of her, unlike Chris who has lived in so many places that he does not know what it is to feel so strongly about a place.

This book is escapism at its best. It sweeps you off and takes you into a small southern town where everything is almost perfect. But the best part about the book is the way the author has depicted Angie’s struggle to choose between 2 things she loves so much. Trust me, I have been there. I could identify with the way she felt and with the way she kept on tossing the pros and cons around, not sleeping and crying at the drop of a hat. It was a little painful to read though. The only complain I have is that the book dragged a little at the end.

Otherwise considering it’s a debut novel, it’s a pretty good read. I wanted to read a romance book for a long time and somehow anything I read in that genre did not satisfy me. This one surely did.

Review: A Duke to die for by Amelia Grey

Title: A Duke to die for
Author: Amelia Grey
Pages: 384
Release Date: April 2009

Published by: Sourcebooks Casablanca, an Imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.
Genre: Regency Romance

From the dust jacket: When the rakish fifth Duke of Blakewell’s unexpected and shockingly lovely new ward arrives, she claims to carry a curse that has got each of her previous guardians to an untimely end. As she tries to persuade her to manage her own fortune, and he tries to find her a suitable husband, they become scandalously entangled. When several potential deadly accidents befall the Duke, Henrietta is the only one who can help him…

Blake becomes a Duke and inherits a large fortune after his father’s accidental death just 2 years back. But still his rakish ways continue. He is more interested in card parties, frolicking with women and horse racing than he is in managing his estate and settling down.

Into this happy-go-lucky life of the Duke’s, enters a 19 year old charming, beautiful and intelligent Henrietta. She claims his father was the last guardian on a list her father had prepared before his death. And as Duke’s father is dead, he should take a position of her guardian. For a man who is not used to take care of his own responsibilities and who does not loose an opportunity to take every beautiful girl to his bed, Henrietta comes as a shock. Blake is immediately attracted to her and wants to shirk off her responsibility and the only way he thinks fit is to find her a suitable husband. Meanwhile Blake and Henrietta try to control their immense attraction and liking for each other.

I really liked the London season shown in this book. One could picture the colorful gowns, the candlelight’s, the gentlemen in their evening coats and the overall glittering high society atmosphere very well. It was fun to read about the things a gentleman had to do to go on a date with a woman he wished to court.

Amelia and Blake were both likable characters, especially Amelia. She was young but had spunk and was not afraid of speaking her mind. Yet, there was certain vulnerability in her which was endearing. The scenes between Blake and Henrietta were nicely developed. But I wish there was more book space given to them. The other characters were okay but weren’t as interesting to read about. Even the scenes where the balloon venture was discussed with Gibby were not really that interesting. I couldn’t care less what happened to Gibby and his money even though I like him instantly.

The scenes between Blake and his cousins Race and Morgan were not that great. Firstly I thought they were the villains in the story. I kept thinking on the same line almost throughout the book. Here is a paragraph at the beginning of the book,

“Blake was friendly enough with his two cousins, but an unspoken rivalry had always simmered just below the surface of their relationships.

To the ton, the three grandsons of Lady Elder always appeared united; taking up for each other if need arose. But when they were alone, it wasn’t unusual for one to try to best the others, be it at shooting, racing, or fencing, though they never admitted to the competition unless it was to gain the favor of a young miss.”

I might have read a little too much into the above, but because of these very sentences I could not warm up to Morgan and Race.

All in all, I found ‘A Duke to die for’ to be a descent book, but not be listed in the top romantic books I have read. A descent enough read. I would certainly try another Amelia Grey novel.

This review was originally published at ijustfinished.

Read Meghan’s review here. She liked the book more than I did.

Disclaimer: The sentences quoted above are from an ARC.

Review: Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton

crossed_wires1Book Blurb from Amazon:
This is the story of Mina, a girl at a Sheffield call centre whose next customer in the queue is Peter, a Cambridge geography don who has crashed his car into a tree stump when swerving to avoid a cat.

Despite their obvious differences, they’ve got a lot in common – both single, both parents, both looking for love. Could it be that they’ve just found it?

CROSSED WIRES is an old-fashioned fairy tale. It is about the small joys and tribulations of parenthood; about one-ness and two-ness; about symmetry and coincidence; about the things that separate us and the things that bring us together.
I picked it up thinking it was a romantic book. 2 single parents meet each other, fall in love and everything falls into place again.  I love romantic books, books with a lot of mush and the works, so I am actually surprised that I liked this book. I expected the guy and the girl to meet and fall in love or at least fall in love because of incessant online chatting. That didn’t happen and not once did I feel like abandoning the book because nothing was happening where their love life was concerned. They are busy with their own lives, they have friends and family to turn to during difficult times, but you can easily see why they are so perfect for each other even though they don’t meet for more than half of the book.
Peter, a college professor and Mina, a call center worker are the lead characters in this story. But more than that they are normal human beings, who make mistakes, who react the way you and I would. Peter has 9 year old twin girls Cassie and Kim and Mina has a 10 year old girl Sal. Not to forget the friends and family that comprise of Mina’s straight forward mother and Peters friends Jeremy and Trish. They are all interesting in their own way.
Mina’s character reminded me so much of myself. I like to skirt around situations that are difficult to handle, I avoid confrontation unless absolutely necessary and I too worked in a call center once. So I could, in a way, understand Mina really well, although I did feel like shaking her at times and asking her to do something. That’s exactly what my boyfriend does, shakes me up when required :)
This book has some of the best character descriptions I have read in a while. Very non-dramatic and real.
If you are looking for a typical, stereotype love story, this book is not for you. If you are looking for a plot driven story, again this book is not for you. Don’t be fooled by the pink cover, this book isn’t all mush. Read it with absolutely no prejudice or strict expectations and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Thank you Rosy for the book.

rosyportraitAbout the author:
Rosy Thornton grew up in Ipswich and studied law at Cambridge University. She stayed on to do a Ph.D. and has been a lecturer there ever since. Rosy lives in a village near Cambridge with her husband, their two daughters and a Springer spaniel called Treacle.

Seduce me at Sunrise: Lisa Kleypas

CoverLisa Kleypas is a New York best selling author and she has more than 19 books published.
The only question I want to ask after reading her book ‘Seduce me at sunrise’ is ‘Where were you for so long?’

Seduce me at sunrise is the second book in the series.
Although i like to read books in the order they are published, I make an exception for romance books. It really doesn’t matter, does it?

Okay, so onto the premise.
Win and Kev Merripen have known each other since childhood. They both are in love with each other since Win’s father rescued him from the brink of death when he was a boy.

After some years Win is infected with Scarlet fever which leaves her sick for more than 2 years. Win’s family sends her to France to a facility for treatment. Although Win and Kev both love each other dearly, Kev does not express his love to her when she is about to leave for the treatment. Although he loves Win he does not confess his love to her because he thinks he does not deserve her and she is better off with someone else. She leaves for France heartbroken.

She returns 2 years later with the doctor in tow. Although Kev has hardened (even more) during her absence, he is jealous (obviously). The rest of the story is basically how both of them get together and how Kev finally confesses his love for Win. Considering this is a romance book, this is hardly a spoiler.

Kev is a typical hero. Tough and arrogant. Win is the total opposite of him. Here is a passage from the book that describes it so well.

‘Let’s look at the situation honestly, Win. You have nothing in common with him. You’re a lovely, sensitive, literate woman, and he’s…Merripen. He likes to chop wood for entertainment. And apparently it falls to me to point out the delicate truth that some couples are well-suited in the bedroom but not anywhere else.”

Is it sufficient to say that I loved Kev and Win? And their chemistry is just awesome. Lisa Kleypas writes really beautiful stories and makes you believe them as well. For e.g. When Win isdown with scarlet fever and had very less chance to live, kev gives her an experimental herb to drink which is enough to kill a person if taken in large amount. He keeps some of it aside so that if the herb does kill her, he will drink the rest and die as well. Now, i think this is funny. But while reading the book, you absolutely believe it. That’s the beauty of the story.

I loved all the characters in the book. There is Amelia, Win’s eldest sister and Cam, her husband. I am assuming the first book in the series is their story. Then there are 2 younger sisters, Poppy and Beatrix. And finally there is Leo, the brother. I guess there is going to be a book for each of the characters. I really hope so.

The one who actually stole my heart was Leo. The chemistry, perhaps non-chemistry between him and the governess is fantastic. Leo is a very funny character and the author has laid a foundation, I hope, for the next book. I would really love to read more about Leo.

Lisa Kleypas

Lisa Kleypas

Having said this, I have a few complaints. First of all after I think the book should have ended where Win and Kev express their undying love for each other. The author should have carried the story forward for only 10 pages or so after that. But she used some 100 pages to tie up all the loose ends. The connection between Cam and Win was not really necessary. Cam had his own book right? I want to read only about Win and Kev, or Leo perhaps :)

Also, Kev was sometimes called as Merripen, Leo was also called as Ramsay and Cam was referred to as Rohan. It really confused me for almost half of the book. Then I got used to it.

But overall I loved this book and I am certainly looking forward to reading the next in the series. If you love historical romances, you should not miss this one.

Thank you Jessica for the book.