Julz's Jewels

One man's trash, is another man's treasure. 

As Wicked As They Come

Wicked as They Come - Delilah S. Dawson

This one was a hard-to-put-down, crazy fantasy that made me wish I could read it again for the first time. Those are few and far between.

 

The heroine finds an enchanted locket that transports her to an alternate reality where bunnies can strip your bones and clockworks replace modern technology. She is unknowingly answering the call of our hero, a vampire, gypsy king, who runs a traveling carnival. Loved me some hero who was not too tall, could juggle, dance and do magic while letting his fingers do the walking with his black, scaly hands. Everybody's ideal feller. Our heroine has to decide her future while she and the hero are pitted against bad guys, blood thirsty wildlife and vengeful ghosts. Had. A. Blast!

 

However, as a public service announcement, several vicious, man-eating bunnies bit it during the making of the story. Just thought I should put that out there.

SPOILER ALERT!

Rangers by Nate Tanner

Rangers

Freebie that was better than I expected. Gay fantasy about a Norseman ranger who frees a slave and they encounter all manner of elves, dwarves, talking squirrels, ghosts, etc. Not my favorite but was interesting enough to keep me involved enough to finish. I have to say that the end bothered me.

I felt the Draugur should've been given the warrior's death it was cheated out of ten years ago. But then, I often root for the bad guys. ;D

(show spoiler)

If you're into stories with a flavor of Lord of the Rings, then this might work for you.  

SPOILER ALERT!

Well, Crap! If it wasn't for that title...

 

A very PC and semi-fluffy story that showed everyone in the best light.  Nerdy, out and proud main MC falls for 20-something jock virgin who has a Christian best friend.  Only one total ahole (wasn't the Christian) who got thrown in jail with his whole family.  A lot of sickly sweetness but also humor and angst, which made the sugar overload more tolerable.  And I want those t-shirts!

SPOILER ALERT!

Neurosurgeons Are Insecure Too

The Slender Thread (Harlequin Romance #2002) - Yvonne Whittal

 The Slender Thread by Yvonne Whittal

 

This was a fun, furry ride with a hotter than hawt gold chain wearing neurosurgeon going all caveman over a sweet young thing. 

 

The story starts off with the little sun kissed darling being doomed to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.  Another slobbering older neurosurgeon wanted to be her hero and got his buddy (our hero) to come and save the day and perform a miraculous surgery so that she can walk again.  After a few snips and some alpha moves, voila'!, our girl is whole again. 

 

Because all doctors take their patients on multiple outings and show off their pecs, Dr. Groovy goes on a three day binge of platonic excursions with our little sun blossom such as picnics where we get a fantastic description of his unbutton shirt showing off his crisp chest hairs accented with a crucifix.  Felt natural to me...cough.  And since Dr. I'm-Too-Sexy-For-My-Shirt doesn't want to settle for anything less than true love in its purest form, our hero drops off the face of the earth for a year to make sure any mere gratitude has worn itself out while also given Dr. First-Slobber a chance to make his move.  But don’t bite your nails too short worrying that our cool couple might not ever see each other again, we have one of those coincidental hook-ups when Daddy and baby girl go on a tour of Europe.

 

Keeping with typical doctor-patient relationship, Dad and Sunshine gets invited to stay at the hero’s home for an extended stay.  By the end of the visit, it was mad, obsessive love times two.   But apparently our hot and hairy hero went to medical school and became a miracle worker in order to compensate for some deep seeded insecurities.  After two weeks of uninterrupted bliss, Dr. Oh-Yes! became Dr. Oh-Noes!

 

In our hero’s defense, our heroine had a totally TSTL moment(actually, numerous said moments) when she allowed herself to get sucked into a transparently bad deception by the sister-in-law who felt it was more favorable to ruin her sibling’s marriage than to go get her own life and let Dr. Big-Brother know that she was being poked by a hot but seriously overused man-tool.  Of course, Dr. I’m-Not-Worthy always walked in at the perfect point of the conversation that made it sound like little wifey and Mr. Whoredog (baby sister's man-meat) were going at it hot and heavy.  But ever the loyal dim-bulb, our heroine went along with the unnecessary ruse and allowed her hubby to believe that after 22 years of clinching tight to that v-card, she suddenly got a taste for clinching other things (wink wink nudge nudge).

 

After things get drug out waaaay too far, the heroine takes a red eye outta there, while Dr. Can-Of-Whoop-Ass beats the truth out of Mr. Goodbar, leaving our remorseful hero dog-faced and shit outta luck when he fails to make the plane on time.  Things get tidied up at a convenient run-down but quaint seaside villa, then off they go to visit Daddy and rub their happiness in the face of the poor schmuck (the aforementioned Dr. First-Slobber) who introduced them. 

 

Overall, an incredibly fun read loaded with lots of wtfery, numerous hot and horny clinicians, and 70s nostalgia.  What’s not to love.     

 

Wool 5 - The Stranded

Wool 5: The Stranded - Hugh Howey The whole series was great but this was definitely the best of them. Spent the entire time scared to death of what was going to happen next. I just finished and have such a buzz right now. Definitely has my recommendation. A more thorough review to come at the Omnibus Edition.
Wool 4: The Unraveling - Hugh Howey 4.5 stars.

Not ending this one with a Hell Yeah!. More like an Oh Shit!
Wool 3: Casting Off - Hugh Howey Survived book three of Wool. The first to leave me with a feeling of Hell Yeah! It was definitely worth the suffering.
Wool 2: Proper Gauge - Hugh Howey As someone else mentioned, this isn't a stand alone book. You have to have read the first of the series in order to understand most of what is occuring in the second.

...except for the love between the two focal characters in Proper Gauge. That needed no introduction. It was sweet to see them feel each other out and to wonder if they would find each other.

With regard to the book overall? I'm beginning to understand a recurring theme in this series: Hold close to your heart.
The Ideal Wife - Mary Balogh 3.5 stars
Review to come...hopefully.
Almost Heaven - Judith McNaught Average story. Written well, decent enough plot, Mary Sue heroine, studly hero. The usual.
Dark Desires (Dark Gothic, #1) - Eve Silver 3.5 stars

A little anticlimactic and predictable but good. I liked this enough to try other books by the author. I think some of her others are supposed to be better.

More to come.
Wool - Hugh Howey Definitely runs you through the wringer. Mini review for a mini book. I'll have more to say if I make it through the entire series.

Fire In The Blood (Harlequin Presents)

Fire in the Blood (Harlequin Presents, #1658) - Charlotte Lamb 3.5 stars
The Rekindled Flame - Elizabeth Ashton
Big spoilers below so beware.

This one was a fun one. Some angry/angsty moments with multiple OW flitting left and right, including the h's beloved niece (who is only five years younger at age 17 to the h's 22).

We open with the h, her niece and friend vacationing on some small, low populous Italian island when, lo and behold! the h's long lost love, who she knew before in South Africa (it’s a small world, after all), shows up to wet her knickers once again. And what a coincidence! She just told her niece all about him that very morning! What are the chances?

Of course, our H is a hawt manwhore (so says the h), who is accompanied by a lovely, possessive blond who keeps giving our three musketeers the stink eye (He belongs to her, you skanks!). However, every time the h addresses “his girlfriend”, our irresistible package of throbbing testosterone denies he’s anything but friends (the h is supposed to ignore the frequent dates, the “daaawlings”, and the handholding.)

There was some slow unfolding through flashbacks of what occurred to make the h hit the road. Apparently, just on the verge of becoming engaged, the h returned early from a performance (she’s a ballerina) and walked in on the H locking lips with a luscious vixen, coupled with a sultry suggestion by the OW that they share the delectable stud muffin. Since there was no denial on the H’s part, the h said she’d rather focus on her career anyway and told him to take a hike. She was then privy to some juicy gossip that the H and OW went off on safari together, despite her heartfelt letter begging the cheating whoredog to take her back. So love would have conquered the pain of living with a skirt-chasing scumbag, but unfortunately, there was no response.

The h’s niece spends most of the book giving Mr. McHottie the goo-goo eyes and defiantly going off on adventures with the H despite her aunt's warnings. The h tries to thwart any coupling by chaperoning any outings (during which the H accosts a napping h with amorous make out sessions) but the nimble niece always outmaneuvers her. When the h brings an OM into the mix and reluctantly gets engaged to some haughty asshat, the niece ends up engaged to the H herself. The h is certain it’s true love for the niece…even after she arranges for the H&h to spend a romantic night in a gothic Italian village (definitely a moment which earns this beauty a spot on the heroine-has-a-case-of-the-stupids shelf). The h sacrifices her own happiness for the niece and extracts a promise from the H to marry her little protégé, even though he has sworn to love only the h forever and ever (Oh, the angst!). Of course, the niece does a big eye-roll (along with the readers) that the h could be so dense.

The book ends with our couple making nice after the mouthwatering piece of man meat convinces her that women keep throwing themselves at him with no provocation, and he couldn’t help it when Ms. Luscious Vixen (from the flashback) attached herself to his face just mere seconds before the h walked in and caught the tawdry little scene. Aww, he was just misunderstood all along. Too bad he didn’t explain all and express his undying love to the h like he did with her niece (regarding her heroine), but a man has his pride. Who wants to be thrown over for a woman's career. He never suspected for one minute that she might be reacting to seeing him love up to some other woman (maybe he deserves a spot on that stupid shelf).

Oh, and don’t worry about the fiancé feeling thrown over. The niece saw him ask some equally uptight OW for her address before he left. Can’t have any loose ends, right?

Rough Diamond (Silhouette Special Edition)

Rough Diamond - Brooke Hastings
Don’tcha just hate when you dig up old bones that should’ve stayed buried, like that old boyfriend...or that book you really liked. Being someone who can’t resist a good hello, (consequences be damned!) I sought this one out because I had such good memories (the book, not the boyfriend). I’ve discovered that I was certainly easy to please. Don’t get me wrong, it’s actually an ok story, just not the 5 star wonder that I remember. It’s just absolutely loaded with minute details of running various businesses and how someone stays busy when their hero tries to keep them thoroughly dumped while running around being rubbed on by her whorey stepmother, (who the H thinks is just so much fun!) Actual H&h time runs about 10 pages.

To give some background, this story is about an heiress of a movie producer who inherits a baseball team and other über money making businesses (with which we share in the education how each one is run). So she’s totally loaded and the boss of our hard-to-get baseball pitching hero. He has the hots for the h but openly admits that he would not be able to handle the hit (heh! pun) to his ego that being married to a muey moneyed mogul who calls all the shots would inflict (athletes are egomaniacs, after all). Makes sense, yes? So we’re witness to numerous scenes of his dark brooding while she shameless chases him and gets slammed with his pissy reaction afterwards. After a while, I found myself thinking “can’t you take a hint?” and “don’t you have any pride?” Yeah, it was embarrassing.

Added to that was the fact that the hero had screwed the stepmother a few years back (while she was married to her father! Can you say CHEATER‽ ) but that was ok because he was just a young kid new to fame and the h’s father forgave him (and the stepmother since daddy was a cheater too). That also supposedly made it ok that the H still ran around with the step-skank and was frequently privy to her feline ministrations even though “there was nothing between them.” Ah, the humor.

Of course, our determined H breaks down in the end while exerting his manliness to make sure the h knows who’s boss (and we’re supposed to be so turned on by his need for domination. Actually, that was kinda hot. I like my storybook heroes alpha ;D).

But did they really reach their HEA? In my opinion, theirs is a HFN at best, because I think all those issues that he was so insightful to recognize are still valid and will be making a reappearance in their future.

I would recommend this for those who like baseball and would find all those idiosyncrasies of running a league fascinating. This would also appeal to those who love a slooooow burn with a reluctant alpha hero who has inappropriate “friendships” with stepmothers. Angsty fun!
Knight's Honour - Roberta Gellis Elizabeth of Chester
Neither man nor beast could frighten the fiery Elizabeth. Yet she ached with a burning passion she was unable to control or forget.

Roger, Earl of Hereford
No stranger to women and the manly words and caresses that softened their hearts, he found in Elizabeth a woman not easily tamed. He was determined to bend her to his will with love…

But as Roger became more deeply involved in court intrigues and political scheming, his passionate marriage to Lady Elizabeth became more troubled…

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