Welcome to Cozy Jo's Romance Review blog. This is where you'll find reviews and discussions on historical or contemporary romance books and maybe a few other bits and bobs thrown in for good measure.
So come on in, sit down and find yourself a good romance book to read.

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Fools Rush In by Kristan Higgins

Fresh and exciting romance
5 stars

Millie Barnes is finally getting her life together. She's nearly got her dream job, she's finally happy with her body, she's just got herself the cutest puppy and to top it all off - the guy she has loved her entire life has started to notice that she's alive!

But sometimes perfection isn't all it's cracked up to be - especially when her sister's ex Sam Nickerson is so much more distracting than he should be. As she helps him nurse his broken heart she suddenly realises that she's putting her own in jeopardy. And maybe the thing she has dreamed of her whole life isn't really what she wants after all.

This is the debut novel by Kristan Higgins and it really is a spectacular story. Written in first person, the story tells of the ups and downs of Millie as she tries to get her life, and especially her love life, in order. Millie is a down to earth, interesting and truly likeable character while Sam is a fantastically heroic hero. And the pair are perfect for each other.

What I really liked about the story itself is that it wasn't predictable. It is quite unusual to see a story about a girl and her sister's ex, but it works really well and the writing keeps you emotionally involved. The quality of the storytelling also didn't leave you disappointed at the end which I have found sometimes happens with books written in the first person. The ending was climactic, romantic and very much worth the wait.

All in all, this was a book that I loved. I felt involved with the characters, loved the writing and will definitely be looking out for other novels by Kristan Higgins in the future. If you're looking for a fun, sweet and romantic read then you can't go wrong with this book.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Hello Doggy by Elaine Fox

Upbeat, sexy and fun novel
5 stars

Keenan James has made his name telling women what men really want. He wrote a tv show, filmed a tv special, hosts weekly lunch meetings with love-lorn women and he's even decided to write a self help book. They don't need to know that he himself has never been able to commit to just one girl.

Just as his life seems to be on track he gets lumbered with his mother's crazy dog who just happens to go by the name Barbra Streisand. Also his publisher tells him that he must write his book with a co-author, shy yet opinionated psychologist Tory Hoffstra.

Tory is sure that Keenan is just using his weekly meetings to pick up women so she joins the group under an alias to prove it. But as the pair get to know each other they begin to realise that maybe Barbra Streisand isn't so crazy after all and their wise advice can't really help them as they start to fall in love.

Elaine Fox has written another winner with this book and it really is a delight from beginning to end.

The characters are fresh, vibrant and people you can really identify with and their interactions with each other are so well-written that you easily believe them. I loved Tory despite all her flaws and of course Keenan was a suitably wonderful hero. Their chemistry was excellent and the sex scenes nicely sexy.

The actual story was very funny and at times had me laughing out loud. And the whole story was so fresh and upbeat that you couldn't help but smile as you read. It was also nice to see Brady and Lily (from Elaine Fox's previous novel - Beware of Doug) make a brief appearance. Despite that, this books stands alone and is not part of a series.

Fast paced, fun and sexy - if you're looking for a contemporary romantic novel to pass away a few hours then you really can't go wrong with this book. Highly recommended and very worthy of 5 stars.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

One Wild Wedding Night

Sizzling Hot & Romantic Stories
5 Stars

Leslie Kelly launches the new Blaze Encounters series with 5 short stories centring around 5 bridesmaids, and more specifically their super-sexy encounters on the wedding night.

Sweet bridesmaid Bridget Donahue is the star witness in a trial and someone is out to get her. Luckily totally hot FBI agent Dean Willis is around to give her full body protection.

This was a fun story with a heroine who was shy but spunky and a delicious special agent with a big, soft centre. Hot sex, lots of fun and a sweet ending make this an excellent story.

Stripper Leah Muldoon is so tired after the wedding that she accidentally gets into the wrong limo and falls fast asleep. When she awakens she realises she stumbled upon very sexy and very rich Slone Kincaid. What better to do than get very well acquainted in that back seat?

A cute, funny story with a stripper I surprisingly identified with and every woman’s prince charming with some naughty limo sex thrown in for good measure.

Big-city attorney Mia Natale dumped Brandon North because he was too nice. But he’s tracked her down and plans to show her what she’ll be missing if she walks out on him. But who is that other guy?

I genuinely never thought they would put a storyline like this in a romance and was waiting for the ‘only joking’ moment to come along. But it never did and I have to say I was shocked for a little while before getting into it. Maybe not a story for everyone – it was still romantic and enjoyable.

No Way Out
Black bombshell Vanessa McKee lives her life to the full and has done ever since she had her heart broken when she was but 15. When the man that did the breaking – delicious NFL star Stan Jackson – walks back into her life, she does what any heartbroken lady would do and punches him right in the face. Stan can think of better places to unleash that fiery temper – like in his hotel suite!

This story of a feisty woman and her first love is probably the hottest of all the stories in this anthology yet it still has a sweet, romantic edge. The characters are well suited and enjoyably don’t jump to conclusions where they might.

All The Way
Gloria Santori loves being a wife and mother but sometimes she really just wants to let loose and go a bit crazy – especially since it’s been such a long time since she had sex of any sort. So when a seductive European propositions her in a bar she jumps at the chance for some fun!

I really enjoyed this story and luckily the surprise wasn’t that hard to guess. It was more tender than the other stories yet still had a lovely hot sex and stunningly well-written sexual tension.

A sizzling set of stories full of hot encounters, wonderful characters and true love, Leslie Kelly doesn’t disappoint with this newest collection. Each story is about 50 pages long making it an ideal length for a nice quick read. The stories all centre round the wedding of Izzie Natale and Nick Santori (from previous Blaze novel Overexposed) and what happens to each of their bridesmaids on the wedding night. It was nice that all the stories were interconnected but not in such a way that each didn’t stand on their own or you wouldn’t understand them if you read them out of order. It was also nice to catch up with Nick and Izzie again.

With Leslie Kelly’s newest set of tales you get all the sex and sizzle you would expect from a Blaze novel coupled with the fun, humour and fast-paced action typical of a Kelly romance. 5 stars and definitely a recommended read.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

In My Wildest Fantasies by Julianne MacLean

Slow paced start to a new series
3 stars

When she was 17, Lady Rebecca Newland was saved from a runaway coach by the dashing and handsome Devon Sinclair - the future Duke of Pembroke. Despite going back to her lonely and sheltered existence - she never forgot her hero and spent many nights dreaming of him.

Haunted by a terrible incident in his past, Devon has spent much of the time since rescuing Rebecca, in America. When he gets word that his father is ailing, he returns home determined to do his duty to the family he failed so many years ago.

When the pair meet again at a ball they both realise there is a definite spark between them. But can their relationship survive their secrets, lies and the unwanted attentions of a most dangerous other suitor?

This was my first book by Julianne MacLean and I have to admit I was quite disappointed in it and there are a few things that really stopped me from more than just mildly enjoying the story.

Both Devon and Rebecca were likeable characters but they seemed too nice and I felt their chemistry and interaction lacked any real sparkle. As this is the first book in a new series - there were plenty of secondary characters however they weren't so well developed that you could really enjoy or wish for more of them.

The storyline itself had a lot of promise and was the reason I picked up the book in the first place but it didn't really seem to get out of first gear. The villain wasn't scary, the horrible brother wasn't that horrid and the mean rival for Devon's affection wasn't good competition for Rebecca. And all these plot points really did slow the story down.

The inclusion of an erotic diary was an interesting addition to the story but I really don't believe that simply by reading this journal, virginal, isolated Rebecca would become so bold and knowledgeable about sex. And even with the diary - the sex scenes were decidedly tepid.

My other gripe about the book was the geography. The ducal seat is at Pembroke Palace near the town of Pembroke which is apparently one hour to the north of Oxfordshire! It is possible that the author did not realise she was using the name of a real town in her story but it got me really confused and kept pulling me away from the story as I read it and tried to understand where the story was set.

Overall, I just didn't really feel that I could connect with this story or the characters. The writing and plot aren't terrible but just perhaps lacking a certain something that would make the book a keeper. I will try other books by Julianne MacLean as I'm sure this was just a one off, but it's maybe not a book for those who have never read Ms McLean before.