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, 27 June 2010

Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas

A rich and satisfying romance
5 Stars

Catherine Marks has spent the last few years carefully instructing the Hathaway sisters in the finer points of being a lady. As their paid companion, she really enoys her job and it would be perfect, if not for her charges’ older brother – the thoroughly exasperating Leo Hathaway. The pair bicker like cats and dogs but when one quarrel ends in a kiss, everything changes, especially when Leo makes a dangerous proposition.

Leo must marry and produce an heir within the year or he’ll lose his family home. Despite her respectable demeanour, Catherine hides a secret that could destroy her and take the Hathaway’s with her. But Leo is sure that Cat holds the key to his dilemma and can’t help but find her intriguing and infernally tempting. But with Leo determined never to love again and Cat determined to keep her secrets, will the pair ever see eye to eye and realise that they may be perfect for each other?

This is the fourth book in the Hathaway series (after Mine Till Midnight, Seduce Me at Sunrise, Tempt Me at Twilight and before Love in the Afternoon). While I’m sure you could read this book as a stand alone, I honestly think it’ll make more sense and you’ll understand the characters and their back stories more if you’ve read the rest of the Hathaway series before you read this book.

I love a couple that bicker and have been looking forward to Cat and Leo’s story for some time. While it didn’t completely blow me away, it didn’t disappoint either and I liked the way the pair continued their banter even after their relationship changed into something more.

Both characters were rich, interesting and never descended into stereotypes. With the past history of Leo, it would have been easy to take the story to the obvious conflict but I liked the way that the conflict was a little less obvious and therefore more real. It was also lovely to see the other characters from the previous books with Poppy and Harry taking up most of the cameos.

The writing was excellent, the story kept me hooked and I didn’t want to put the book down. It’s probably not the best Lisa Kleypas I have ever read but I’m still giving this 5 stars as it was so enjoyable that I can’t fault it. I would recommend this to fans of the Hathaways’ or those who like a rich, satisfying romance.

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

Sweet, uncomplicated romance
4 stars

Daisy Flattery is in a bit of a bind – her paintings aren’t selling, she’s just adopted another stray pet and she really needs a bit of money to pay her rent. That’s the only reason she can think of to say yes to her uptight, straight-laced neighbour’s crazy scheme.

Linc Blaise needs a fiancée in order to land his dream job and while free spirited Daisy may not be his ideal woman, she’s perfect to play the role. But what happens when you start to enjoy your roles a little too much and when does it stop becoming fake and start becoming happily ever after?

This was a sweet, uncomplicated story that was first published in 1996 although it ages well and never feels dated. Both Linc and Daisy are interesting, well developed characters that are the furthest thing from stereotypical. They work well together, have good chemistry and develop well together, going from mutual dislike right through to love.

The story is fun, far fetched but still believable and really keeps you interested and keeps the pages turning. It’s definitely a light and frothy book that’s perfect for a quiet afternoon’s read. It’s not as witty or as sexy as some of her later books but it’s still worth a read if you’re looking for a bit of romance.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean

Adorable, entertaining romance
5 stars

At the ripe old age of 28, Lady Calpurnia Hartwell is firmly on the shelf. Relegated to the spinster seating at every ball and on the fringes on society, Callie is a little more than unsatisfied by her lot. So she vows to make a change in her life and do all the things that she’s always wanted to do even if she has to break society’s rules to do it.

But stealing a midnight kiss, smoking a cheroot, learning to fence and drinking in a tavern aren’t as easy to achieve without a willing partner. And willing or not, the handsome rake Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston, soon finds himself caught up in Callie’s adventures.

I absolutely adored this book and it’s definitely one of the best that I’ve read in a long time. Gabriel is a delicious rake but he’s such a rich character and it’s so entertaining to see him almost baffled by his growing feelings towards Callie. Callie herself was such a refreshing heroine. She was so endearing and likeable that I felt really engaged with her and really rooted for her. Together the pair had the kind of chemistry that gives you butterflies in your stomach and makes you think about the story even when you’re not reading.

The plot itself was witty, clever and so entertaining. Despite Callie undertaking scandalous tasks, the book never got ridiculous and you always cheered for Callie. There were times when I laughed out loud, times when I felt Callie’s pain and times when I was almost giddy at the sweetness of the romance between Callie and Gabriel. There were also no clichés and the secondary characters were as rich and full as the main pair but without ever overshadowing the actual love story. Gabriel’s twin brother, Nick, gets his own story in the next book Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord. I’m hoping that other characters that appear in this book also get their own stories in the future.

Overall this is a book that leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling. It’s so well written and so engaging that you’re sure to enjoy it and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good romance. I will definitely be looking out for any new stories written by Sarah McLean. 5 stars.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Rock My Socks Off by Jeremy Edwards

Slightly boring, standard erotica
2 Stars

Writer Jacob Hastings is finding that his dreams of a glittering career are hard to come by. But when he meets Normandie Stephens at a party he feels he might just have met the one woman who can take his mind off his work and rock his socks off.

I’ve recently read an anthology that included a story by Jeremy Edwards that I didn’t particularly care for so I was apprehensive when I started to read this full length novel.

I have never actually read any erotica that’s written by a man before so I was interested to see whether his writing style and descriptions was more geared towards a male or female audience. In the end I’m not sure what the answer is because I certainly didn’t enjoy this story and I didn’t find the sex particularly enjoyable either but I’m really not sure whether men would either.

The characters and situations in the story were a strange mix of the complete ordinary and the absolute fantastical. The same went for the language throughout the book which was at times flowery and over the top and at other times frank and crude.

Not surprisingly, the book was littered with sex but each encounter lasted about a paragraph and I was left wondering whether there’d ever be a satisfying scene. At times the sex felt more sordid than titillating and it felt a little seedy rather than something to enjoy and turn you on.

It sounds a little clichéd with regards to erotica but there really wasn’t much plot to go with all the sex and I really would have preferred both! If you’re looking for some good erotica that’s at least got a little plot then I would try any Black Lace or Cheek book which are more likely to be satisfying reads in many respects. For this offering, I’m sorry to say that I was a little bored and pretty unaffected as a whole. 2 stars.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Promise of Pleasure by Cheryl Holt

Entertaining and satisfying Regency romance
4 Stars

Mary Barnes has had enough of being unwanted and unloved by her cruel stepmother and half sisters. All she wants to do is escape her life and find love and happiness. So when a mysterious peddler offers her a magic elixir to make the man of her dreams fall in love with her, she jumps at the chance.

Jordan Winthrop, the heir to the Earl of Sunderland, is debauched, bankrupt and handsome to boot. When he comes to Barnes Manor to marry Mary’s half sister, he finds himself instead lusting after Mary. But is it real or is it the potion? And what will Jordan do when he realises he must make a choice between money and the woman he’s beginning to think he might never want to let go?

You can always count on Cheryl Holt to deliver a satisfying read. This novel sticks to her tried and true theme of impoverished/put upon lady who gets tangled up with a cynical, jaded lord leading to love but not before seemingly insurmountable obstacles are dealt with.

I felt that this novel had more emotion and angst than is usual for Holt but that’s not a bad thing at all. Jordan was your typical dissolute, cynical scoundrel but his panic and confusion at finding himself falling in love were a delight to read. Mary was also a well-drawn out character although I would have liked to see more of her feelings rather than just let us believe she had all of a sudden fallen in love. The other characters were horrible and lovely as required yet none of them felt stereotypical, each adding something to the story.

As this is billed as an erotic love story there’s a fair amount of steamy sex but even then, I didn’t find it as hot as Holt’s previous books.

We also have a secondary love story which I liked very much and, as another reviewer stated, didn’t overshadow the main story at all.

There are a fair amount of Americanisms in the text and at times the characters speak in too modern a manner to be truly indicative of the Regency times. But if you’re looking for some escapism and want a fun, entertaining read then I would definitely recommend this book to you. 4 stars.

(This book is the first in the Spinster’s Cure trilogy that includes Taste of Temptation and Dreams of Desire.)

Monday, 7 June 2010

Sex, Love and Valentines

Fun for a quick thrill
3 Stars

This is a collection of 20 erotic stories compiled for Valentine’s Day and each of the stories revolve around the day. This is an Xcite book so you get a range of authors, both male and female, giving you a whole different range of erotic tales including some girl on girl stuff and one gay story.

Firstly, I have to say that I wasn’t impressed with the cover. The girl licking the lollipop was just too pre-pubescent schoolboy fantasy for me to take it seriously and it certainly didn’t excite or titillate me as I’m assuming it was supposed to!

The book contains 20 stories most of which are about 10 pages in length which is perfect for a quick read when the mood strikes. Having said that, at times it was like you were just getting a taste of the story and then it would end just when the going got good.

I’ll admit that the stories (or at least most of them) were exciting in their own way, but for me, I prefer erotic stories with a little bit more fantasy and romance. Some of the stories in this collection were very real-life, realistic and felt more like seedy one night stands.

I’m going to give this collection 3 stars because although there were some really enjoyable and well-written stories (Dr. Charm, Shot to the Heart and Neighbours were my particular favourites), the good stories were outnumbered by the pointless, sordid and at times downright terrible stories in the bunch.

Still, for a quick thrill and for the price then you’re bound to find at least one story in this collection that tickles your fancy.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Viking's Woman by Heather Graham

Enchanting and exciting Viking romance
5 stars

King Alfred’s cousin Rhiannon is lauded for her great beauty and wonderful spirit. But she has none of her warmth to share with any Viking, especially those who invade her lands and kill her kin.

So she is enraged when as a token of peace she is offered to the golden Viking Eric. Despite his strength and masculinity, Rhiannon vows to never submit to the man. But as the pair fight against each other, neither are prepared for what their destinies hold or for the danger that lurks just around the corner.

I wanted a change of scenery from my usual Regency historicals so decided to read a Viking adventure. And what an adventure. You are really drawn into the world of the Viking’s as the story of Eric and Rhiannon comes alive.

Rhiannon and Eric fight like cats and dogs but both are such rich, interesting and deep characters that you can’t help but fall for them and enjoy their tale as you read. The book isn’t overly sexy but rather nicely sensual and the characters have a great chemistry.

The plot is also well done and this is one of the few books I have read recently where I couldn’t bear to put it down and was thinking about the story and characters when I wasn’t able to read. It’s also a read you can really get your teeth into and comes out at nearly 470 pages long.

This is the middle of a trilogy of Viking stories from Heather Graham (after Golden Surrender and before Lord of the Wolves) and I am now very keen to read the other books in the series. If you’re looking for a rich story about love in the time of the Vikings then you really can’t go wrong with this book. 5 stars.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

His Favourite Mistress by Tracy Anne Warren

Hugely disappointing end to the series
2 Stars

When penniless Gabriella St. George tries to shoot a man who has wronged her family, she’s quite put out to discover that she actually has Anthony Black, Duke of Wyvern at her mercy.

The pair become further entangled due to the kindness of a relative who gives Gabriella the chance for a Season in London and the hopes of a new life. But instead of watching over her like he promised, Tony finds that he’s helpless against the scorching heat that engulf the pair whenever their together.

Soon, Tony has to rethink his stance on love and marriage but is it too late to win the one person he knows he can’t live without.

This is the third book in Warren’s Mistress Trilogy after My Fair Mistress and The Accidental Mistress. Although it contains characters and relies on instances that occurred in the first two stories, I still think this book stands alone quite nicely.

Despite that, I was hugely disappointed in this book and quite annoyed that what has been a fun and likeable series of books should end on such a note.

The plot, in my opinion was virtually non-existent and the story just seemed to plod along without much excitement or interest. I didn’t feel any real connection with or between the characters and felt they were too lacking in depth to be taken too seriously.

I also had a real problem regarding the difference in the character’s ages. Gabriella was 17 while Tony was at least 36. It wasn’t the age gap so much as that Gabriella really was written as a 17 year old girl and was immature with it which made the whole thing about a grown man lusting after a teenager a little creepy for me. It might have been the norm for Regency times but Gabriella could at least have been written at least slightly mature for her age.

Tony was also apparently completely uncaring that he was having his way with his best friend’s niece and his switch from never marrying to proposing was laughable in its suddenness.

Overall, this book fell completely flat for me. I’m giving it two stars instead of just one because the writing wasn’t terrible and I at least finished it. I won’t give up on Tracy Anne Warren but unless you’re desperate to read the concluding part to the Mistress trilogy I can’t recommend this book to you at all.