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.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl

Fun and sexy romance
4 stars

When her Dad was involved in an accident, Lori Love put her life on hold and came back to tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado to run the family auto body shop. Now with her Dad gone, Lori realises she’s stuck in a small town with no prospects. Her best friend decides that only one thing can shake Lori out of her funk – lots and lots of hot, no-strings sex.

Quinn Jennings is so absorbed in his job as an architect that he barely remembers to sleep let alone date. When he hears that Lori is willing to skip all the dinners and small talk and head straight to bed, he’s delighted. When he sees the kind of books Lori reads for inspiration, he’s ecstatic. But when Lori’s life is suddenly in danger, Quinn realises that he cares more than either of them ever expected.

This is the second in Dahl’s Tumble Creek series after Talk Me Down and before Lead Me On. Despite this, and the inclusion of characters from the previous novel, there is no need to read the books in order as each stands nicely on its own.

I really enjoyed this book even if I did feel it took a while to get going. Lori was a good character and one you could empathise with and get behind. At first, I thought Quinn was a little too much of a good guy and too sweet for me to really root for the pair but once the story got going, I began to love them both.

This book is extremely sexy. This may not be to your taste if you like your romances quite tame as there’s role play, very light S&M, alfresco sex and much more. I loved it and found it an important part of what is a nicely sexy story.

If there is one thing I would have changed it’s that I would have liked an epilogue to round off the story. Regardless, this is a fun, sexy and interesting story and one I would recommend. I’m looking forward to reading Jane’s story in Lead Me On and hope I enjoy it like I did this book.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Tempt Me At Twilight by Lisa Kleypas

Enjoyable but not her best
4 stars

Poppy Hathaway is content with her lot in life. She’s got her loving, if slightly eccentric family, and now she’s very nearly engaged to Michael Bayning, a man who she believes she can give her the quiet and ordinary life she craves.

Her plans go up in smoke the moment Harry Rutledge enters her life. Mysterious, powerful and exceedingly wealthy, Harry is unlike anyone Poppy has ever met before. Harry is used to getting his own way and what he wants is Poppy. But he soon realises that having Poppy is nothing if he can’t have her love too.

After Mine Till Midnight and Seduce Me At Sunrise, this is the third book in Kleypas’s series which focuses on the Hathaway family.

I love a dark, brooding hero who is resistant to, but desperately needs the love of a good woman and Harry was certainly that. His demanding and authoritative ways make him a hero that not everyone will love but one that I liked and that I thought was perfect for Poppy. Poppy herself was fresh, fun and a thoroughly likeable heroine.

I did enjoy this book but I just felt it didn’t have the sparkle of Lisa Kleypas’s previous efforts. I could have done with more interactions between Harry and Poppy, more information about Harry’s past and most importantly, more angst before both Harry and Poppy discovered their feelings for each other.

Overall this is still a very readable and thoroughly enjoyable book. I would suggest that you’ve read the first two books in the series before reading this one as there are many recurring characters and situations that will make more sense if the books are read in order. If you like Lisa Kleypas or are simply looking for a good, fun Victorian romance then I would recommend this book to you. 4 stars.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

Underdeveloped but enjoyable
3 stars

It’s Christmas in London and Hannah Appleton has been given the task of finding out whether the brash American, Rafe Bowman, will be a suitable match for her charge, Lady Natalie. What she finds is a ruggedly sexy, outspoken man with shockingly American ways who irks her in a way no man has before.

In order to gain his inheritance in his father’s company, Rafe Bowman must marry the blue blooded and very proper Lady Natalie. Although pretty and kind, it’s her chaperone Hannah that draws Rafe’s eye. At a house party at Stony Cross Park the Wallflowers play matchmaker with some unexpected consequences that will make it a Christmas to remember.

It pains me to have to only give a Lisa Kleypas book 3 stars but there are a few problems that have stopped this book being nearly as good as her other historical books.

Firstly, I thoroughly enjoyed the Wallflower books and was anticipating hearing about how all the previous characters had progressed. There was a nice little bit about Evie and Sebastian (The Devil in Winter) and another about Lillian and Marcus (It Happened One Autumn) but barely anything about Daisy and Matthew (Scandal in Spring) or Annabel and Simon (Secrets of a Summer Night). This is disappointing as with the book being so short, I feel another couple of sections could easily have been added, making it more the size of a normal romance.

The story of Rafe and Hannah was sweet but slightly underdeveloped. I didn’t feel I ever got to know either character particularly well and I was surprised when the declarations of love came as I honestly thought they were too soon to be believable. There was still lots of excellent romance and good interactions between the pair.

If I’m honest, I don’t really think that this book is worth the high, hardback price. It was a nice diversion and I always enjoy catching up on well-loved characters but overall it did leave me feeling slightly dissatisfied. Unfortunately only 3 stars.

The Infamous Rogue by Alexandra Benedict

Readable but forgettable romance
3 stars

Seven years ago, Sophia Dawson had a heated affair with the infamous pirate Black Hawk until one day her heart was broken and she disappeared from his life. She’s managed to turn her life around and is now ready to take her place in society by marrying an earl who knows nothing of her scandalous past.

Everything is going well until Black Hawk, now a respectable sea captain, re-appears in her life with only one thing on his mind – revenge. James Hawkins is determined to make Sophia pay for abandoning him all those years ago and he’s going to use every trick in the book to make her surrender.

To begin with, I was really engrossed with this book – it was engaging, interesting and the writing style made you want to keep reading. After a little while the story got a little boring and repetitive with Sophia and James simply snipping at each other.

There was a lot of references to Sophia and James’ torrid past but despite the build up, I felt that the eventual sex scenes were without emotion or passion.

There were times when the story picked up and I again got engrossed but the storyline really fluctuated between interesting and dull. In the end I felt a little let down by the ending as it didn’t seem real and again lacked depth of emotion.

Overall, it’s not a book I would necessarily pass on but it’s definitely not the best I have ever read. I’m also not going to give up on Alexandra Benedict as I enjoyed her writing style but would only give this effort 3 stars.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Santa Baby by Lisa Renee Jones

Slightly boring and lacklustre romance
2 stars

When bookstore owner Caron Avery dresses up as Marilyn Monroe for a charity ball she realises that the persona is her one chance to let her hair down and lose her inhibitions for the night. Before she knows it she’s burning up the sheets with sexy millionaire Baxter Remington.

Baxter’s life is in complete turmoil and he can’t afford to let someone into his life. So why does he want to find out all he can about Caron and why does he find himself absolutely enchanted and unable to let her go after just one night?

I originally bought this book because I like a sexy Christmas romance. That was the first let down as despite the title and the cover there isn’t even a smidgen of festive content in the book.

Putting that aside, the story itself was a huge disappointment. The first third of a book was Caron and Baxter meeting, flirting and then having sex. It may sound sexy but it got really tiresome and I had to force myself to pick up the book and keep reading.

It was also so obvious where the big misunderstanding was going to come from but when it finally arrived, it was so ridiculous and could easily have been wrapped up with a decent conversation. There was a brief and pointless secondary romance included which was baffling in its lack of relevance to the story.

I had to give the book two stars because the writing wasn’t terrible and although it took me ages to finish it, at least I got there in the end. Disappointing and not a book I would recommend, I’m afraid.