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.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Christmas Spirit

Magical Christmas Anthology
4 Stars

A set of three Christmas stories where each of the characters find true love with the help of some ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas yet to come.

Bah, Humbug! – Leigh Greenwood
Advertising Executive Nate Jerome spends his whole year making Christmas commercials so he really hates the holiday season and plans to escape by flying to Aruba. But his plans change when he meets his beautiful neighbour Milly Thurston who adores Christmas as she shows him that there’s much more to life than work.

This was an okay story but nothing special and I actually found it too long and drawn out. The characters changed their feelings at the turn of a page and I didn’t think they spent nearly enough time together for me to believe in their happily ever after.

Christmas Present – Elaine Fox
When Susannah Murphy comes home for Christmas she is sure she will hate every minute of the small town life that she tried so hard to escape from. Things don’t start well when she crashes her car and has to rely on Joe Cameron for help – the one man in town that could turn her life around.

This was a sweet story with plenty of Christmas cheer and romance. The love story felt realistic and the man helping the couple on their way to true love was a nice festive touch. Very enjoyable.

Blue Christmas – Linda Winstead
Jess Lennox is determined to spend a quiet, calm Christmas on her own in her flat. When musician Jimmy Blue invites her to spend the holidays with him she refuses as she has vowed never to date another musician. Alone in her flat that night she is visited by a Christmas Spirit who shows her just what will happen unless she learns to open her heart.

This was a delightful story which had a nice ‘Christmas Carol’ feel about it. I really loved the concept of seeing into the future and then changing the present and how the imperfect is sometimes the most perfect. It sounds quite cheesy but this really was a sweet, sensual and festive story that I very much enjoyed.

Overall this is an enjoyable set of stories each with a magical twist. The last two stories really stand out and make this anthology well worth picking up if you’re looking for a quick read during the hectic Christmas season or at any time of the year.

Monday, 18 August 2008

One Hot Weekend by Katherine Garbera

Readable and entertaining romance
3 stars

Assistant District Attorney Sophia Deltonio is determined to work her way to the top and earn the promotion that the office is abuzz about. To do so, she needs to win a high profile case that is the talk of the town. And she’s squaring off against hotshot lawyer and ex-lover Mitch Halloran.

Ten years ago, Sophia broke Mitch’s heart when she betrayed him in order to get into a prestigious law firm. Now, not only does Mitch want to win the case, he desperately wants revenge against Sophia.

So the pair make a bet – whoever wins the case gets the other as a sex slave for a whole weekend. But the pair will soon find out that it’s not revenge that’s so sweet and perhaps one hot weekend isn’t nearly enough.

This was essentially a fun, interesting story that starts off as a quest for revenge but quickly turns into one of love. Both Sophia and Mitch were interesting characters and both were believable and relatable. The chemistry was perhaps not scorching hot but still produced a good sizzle.

The reason I gave this book 3 stars was that it didn’t really grip me or thrill me. It was interesting, very readable and easy to finish but it didn’t really have that emotional oomph that would have made it a great story. Fine for a lazy afternoon read, this isn’t a keeper for me but I will still look for other books by Katherine Garbera in the future.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Total Surrender by Cheryl Holt

Not her best but still fairly entertaining
3 stars

With her dissolute brother having gambled away every possession she owns, Lady Sarah Compton knows that her life will soon be very difficult. Before she accepts her fate, she travels to a country party, determined to enjoy herself one last time. What she doesn't realise is that the country party is actually a trysting event for the decadent members of the aristocracy.

The bastard son of an earl, Michael Stevens loves his reputation as a debauched seducer yet he is drawn to the innocent Sarah for reasons he can't fathom. When she refuses to leave the party when he warns her of the dangers, the pair embark on a very exciting journey where Michael promises to teach Sarah everything he knows of seduction. And in turn, Sarah might teach him everything she knows of love.

I am a fan of Cheryl Holt but I have to admit that I didn't feel that this was one of her better books. Michael was a very deep and complicated character while Sarah was a typical feisty yet innocent lady. They did have good chemistry but surprisingly their sex scenes were almost overshadowed by the numerous other sex scenes within the book.

There was also an awful lot of introspection for both characters which really slowed the pace of the book for me. It wasn't a problem to finish the book but I was never overly eager to return to the story once I'd put the book down. There was also often the problem of overly flowery language within the book alongside the numerous Americanisms.

As I said, I personally don't think it was her best effort but it's still an okay read if you're a fan of Cheryl Holt or if you're looking for a little historical erotic escapism. This book is also the follow on from Love Lessons which featured Michael's brother, James. Unfortunately only 3 stars for this book.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Further Than Passion by Cheryl Holt

Engaging and erotic historical romance
4 stars

Despite being highborn, Kate Duncan has been practically forced to serve her aunt and spoiled cousin since she became an orphan when she was a child. While visiting London for the first time, her young charge is determined to win the delicious but notorious Marcus Pelham, Earl of Stamford and the way she intends to force his hand is by having him drink a love potion.

Determined not to let Marcus fall into her cousin’s trap, Kate drinks the potion herself and finds herself stumbling upon Marcus in the middle of a very erotic tryst. Luckily Marcus is too busy to notice her watching… or so she thinks.

Marcus is titillated by the lady watching from the shadows and subsequently smitten by the passionate woman he discovers when he seeks her out. But despite their increasingly sensual encounters, there are secrets and plots about that may just keep the pair from discovering a most unexpected love.

This was another enjoyable story from Cheryl Holt and sticks to her tried and tested style of the innocent miss, a very delicious alpha male and some uninhibited and deliciously erotic sex scenes.

The story itself does everything right – the main characters are worthy to be cheered on, the villains are devious enough to hate and get their comeuppance in the end and we have an engaging story on the way to a satisfyingly happy ending. As seems to be a regular occurrence for Cheryl Holt’s novels, this one is littered with an exasperating amount of Americanisms and modern language. While annoying, you do learn to ignore it as the story unfolds. If you’re looking for a delightfully erotic, fantasy historical romance to keep you occupied for a few hours then you should be pretty happy to choose this book. 4 stars.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

The Sinful Nights of a Nobleman by Jillian Hunter

Another satisfying Boscastle romance
4 stars

Devon Boscastle is one of the most elusive bachelors of the ton. He's also one of the most wicked and decadent. At a garden party in the country, he's determined to find an equally wicked lady for a midnight rendezvous.

By some stroke of fate instead he finds innocent Jocelyn Lydbury, who has come to the party in the hope of a proposal from a respectable gentleman. Being found in a compromising position was not in either of their plans.

Forced into marriage is not the best start for the pair but it soon becomes clear to Devon that his sweet, unassuming wife can also be a tempting seductress. And while he is determined to maintain his bachelor lifestyle, she is equally determined to win his heart.

This is the fifth book in the Boscastle family series this time focussing on the young, devilish Devon. Most of the characters from previous books do appear in this one yet there is no need to have read any of the previous Boscastle novels for this one to make sense.

I am very much a fan of the 'marriage of convenience that turns to love' storyline and this one did not disappoint. Devon is a devilish rascal who is the perfect hero as he lives his life of excess and debauchery. To see him brought down by love is amusing, romantic and oh so satisfying. Jocelyn is his perfect foil – an innocent miss with a backbone and sharp wit. I enjoyed reading about her and was happy to root for her in her pursuit of Devon's heart.

The book was enjoyably sensual and Devon and Jocelyn had some sparkling chemistry throughout the book. The mystery sub-plot isn't too mysterious but then it's the romance that we're supposed to focus on, so that's not really a problem.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable addition to the Boscastle series with endearing characters and some good, old-fashioned romance. If you're looking for a Regency romance to take your mind off things for a while then you can't go wrong with this book. 4 stars.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The Wicked Games of a Gentleman by Jillian Hunter

Enjoyable addition to the Boscastle series
4 stars

Lord Drake Boscastle is the catch of the ton with his smouldering good looks, extreme wealth and devilish charm. But the one thing he lacks is true happiness. To try and remove himself from his melancholy, he arranges for a liaison with England's most celebrated courtesan. Cooling his heels until it is time to meet for his night of pleasure, he bumps into Eloise Goodwin, a spirited, proper governess who captivates him with her voluptuous curves and sparkling wit.

Drake can't get Eloise from his mind and happily sweeps her off her feet into a world she has only dreamed of. But before true happiness there are other matters that must be addressed such as an errant charge, a blackmailer, duels and one extremely angry courtesan. Through all the confusion people begin to wonder whether the handsome scoundrel, Lord Drake, has finally been tamed.

This is a very enjoyable novel and an excellent addition to the Boscastle family series. This is the fourth novel in the series and despite characters from earlier books popping up throughout, it does read as a stand alone story.

Both Drake and Eloise are well-written characters and you really get to know them and understand them. Happily, the pair also have some nice chemistry which makes for some pleasant sex scenes. There are also a supporting cast of secondary characters including Devon, Drake's younger brother, who had some very amusing banter with the hero throughout the book. His story follows on from this one in The Sinful Nights of a Nobleman.

The plot of this book was engaging enough to keep you turning the pages and there were lots of different things going on so you never got bored. By turns amusing and exciting, romantic and sweet - this is definitely a book I would recommend if you're a fan of Jillian Hunter or if you're simply looking for a fun Regency with dashing heroes and virtuous yet feisty heroines. 4 stars.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

The Wedding Night of an English Rogue by Jillian Hunter

Enjoyable, if slow paced, addition to the series
3 stars

Lord Heath Boscastle has never forgotten Julia Hepworth - possibly because the first time they met, she shot him in the shoulder! While tending his wounds, the pair enjoy on a very nearly compromising afternoon. Too young to understand the overwhelming passions, the pair part.

Years later Heath, now a decorated war hero, is asked to protect Julia by his former army commander - who is now her fiancé - while a dangerous French spy is captured. Heath soon regrets his decision as the passion that engulfed the pair so many years ago is burning brighter than ever before. And when Julia's fiancé's indiscretions come to light, Heath decides it's time to finish what they started all those years ago.

This is the third in Jillian Hunter's Boscastle Family series (after The Seduction of an English Scoundrel and The Love Affair of an English Lord) yet it does stand entirely on it's own so there is no need to have read the other books in the series to understand this one.

I did enjoy this book but there were a few problems with it that stopped me from giving it more than 3 stars.

Both Heath and Julia are excellently well-rounded characters that play well off each other and never fall into the trap of having ridiculous misunderstandings or random attacks of stupidity. There is little in the way of sensuality until near the end of the book when it comes out in full force as if to make up for the beginning of the book. That's not really a complaint though!

My main problem with the book was that despite the hint of danger and action, it really never materialised and as a result, the book felt quite slow paced. The French spy was mentioned quite a lot and we are supposed to believe that it is a terrible danger yet I personally felt the conclusion of this part of the story terribly anticlimactic.

Regardless of this, the story is still engaging and you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens to Heath and Julia. It's also always fun to see the large cast of Boscastle siblings popping up throughout the book. While not being her best book, this is still a fairly enjoyable and entertaining read. 3 stars.