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, 25 July 2010

Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

Enjoyable end to an excellent series
4 stars

Beatrix Hathaway has always felt more comfortable outside with the animals than in a ballroom crowded with people. Despite that, she still yearns for the kind of love and passion that will sweep her off her feet yet no man has ever taken her breath away or even seriously courted her.

Captain Christopher Phelan is a dashing, handsome soldier who has plans to marry Beatrix’s pretty, flirtatious friend, Prudence, when he returns from fighting in the Crimea. But life on the battlefield has darkened his soul and he fears he is no longer the man he once was. The only light in his life are the regular, witty letters he receives from Pru. So much so that he’s beginning to fall in love with his correspondent. So when he returns from the war, determined to claim the woman he loves, he’s confused as to why he feels nothing for Pru and so much for Beatrix. But who really is his letter writing love and what will he do when he finds out he’s been duped?

This is the last in the Hathaway series of books following Mine Till Midnight, Seduce Me At Sunrise, Tempt Me At Twilight and Married By Morning. As with the other Hathaway books, you could easily read this book as a stand alone but you’re more likely to understand the characters and the history of the family if you’ve read the other books before reading this one.

The first half of this book was an absolute delight. The story was fast paced, exciting with so much tension and potential conflict – I could not put the book down as the story had me hooked. And then it just seemed to peter out. The story slowed as it seemed to shift to a more character driven storyline. It wasn’t bad but after such an exciting start, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. The story picked up right before the end and it was nicely concluded which is always a good thing!

I loved both Beatrix and Christopher. Beatrix is such a free spirit and smart too and I really liked and could identify with her. Christopher is a handsome soldier who is haunted by his past and could really do with the love of a good woman making him the perfect partner for Beatrix. The pair had good chemistry and I liked reading about them as a couple. Despite Christopher’s problems in the aftermath of the war, the book never got bogged down in  gory or depressing war detail.

The other Hathaway’s appear in the book, but for a last book in the series, perhaps not as much as I had hoped.

And, surprisingly for Lisa Kleypas, there were a couple of Americanisms that cropped up throughout the book which annoyed me a little as they pull you from the story.

Overall, this is an enjoyable book that despite a few flaws, is still a good read and a really good end to what has been an excellent series. If you’re a fan of Lisa Kleypas, the Hathaway series or just fancy a romantic, Victorian read then I would recommend this book to you. 4 stars.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Dante's Stolen Wife by Day LeClaire

Likeable, readable romance
3 Stars

The Inferno, if you believe in it, is the all-consuming desire that touches the members of the Dante family just once in a lifetime. Millionaire Marco Dante feels its effect the moment he sets eyes on Caitlyn Vaughn. Nothing will stop him making her his own - not even her engagement to his twin brother.

Posing as his twin and sneaking Caitlyn away for a quickie wedding and luxurious honeymoon is bliss for Marco, but he still has to deal with his bride when she discovers his masquerade and hope to turn her blazing fury into a love that can last a lifetime.

From what I can tell, this is the second book in the Dante Legacy series following Dante’s Blackmailed Bride and followed by Dante’s Wedding Deception, Dante’s Contract Marriage, Dante’s Ultimate Gamble, Dante’s Temporary Fiancee and Dante’s Marriage Pact. Although it was fairly easy to read this as a standalone, the author clearly wants you to have read the first in the series and presumably read the rest.

The characters are likeable but fairly bland and the emotion was talked about and demonstrated but I didn’t really feel it. There was a very little sensuality but the focus was more on the romance than the sex.

The storyline was also likeable enough and while I could get behind the concept of ‘the inferno’, I couldn’t really understand the conflict as it seemed so flimsy and, if I’m honest, a little ridiculous.

Having said all that, this was a likeable enough read and I had no problems finishing the book. If you enjoy Day Leclaire’s writing, are following the Dante’s or just want to read a pleasant romance then I would recommend this book to you. 3 stars.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Take on Me by Sarah Mayberry

Fun romance with plenty of spark
5 Stars

On prom night, bad boy Dylan Anderson caused the biggest humiliation of Sadie Post’s life. Getting over her crush on him took a few years, but now she’s grown up, moved on and is now a successful writer for an award winning soap. She’s forgotten all about him. Until he gets a job in her workplace and it’s like high school all over again – complete with lustful thoughts.

But she’s his boss now and naughty thoughts are off limits especially since she’s determined to have the upper hand. Too bad that the electricity between the pair is sparking so much that the pair are bound to end up hitting the nearest desk pretty soon. Dylan is better than she ever imagined and she’s determined to have him begging for more. But the best laid plans…

I’ve had this book on my shelf for ages and now that I’ve read it I can’t believe I didn’t read it sooner. This is the first in a trilogy of books about the goings on behind the scenes of daytime tv soaps. After this story are xx and xx, both also written by Sarah Mayberry,

This particular story gripped me from the start as I always like a couple who mask sexual tension behind a mask of dislike coupled with a good dose of banter. Sadie and Dylan rubbed each other the wrong way which leads to some excellent chemistry between the lead characters and a story that I didn’t want to put down.

The conflict works well because it isn’t drawn out and has many layers making it a book that keeps you guessing on the way to the happily ever after. The writing is fresh and witty and the sex scenes scorch the page with their heat.

If you’re looking for a fun romance with plenty of spark then I would definitely recommend this to you.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Tutor by Hope Tarr

Romance with no spark
2 Stars

Lady Beatrice Lindsey has just become engaged to a very respectable, if somewhat dull man. She knows that if she wants to have any sort of joy in her marriage bed then she’s going to have to be the one to take the lead. If only she knew what to do.

Sexy rogue, Ralph Sylvester, knows that Bea is too far above his station to bother about him. But when she requests that he teaches her the basics of love-making he can’t help but agree. But he has one condition – for the next seven days and seven nights Bea must submit to him and no pleasure will be off-limits. But what happens when the week is over?

Set in Scotland in 1891, this is the follow on from a trilogy of books by Hope Tarr (Vanquished, Enslaved and Untamed) – a fact I wasn’t aware of when I bought the book. Although I suppose this book can stand alone, I think those people who have read the previous books (or at the least Untamed) will have had a much better understanding of the characters and back stories. As it was, I felt I had started to read in the middle of a story and my lack of knowledge about the characters made them lack chemistry and depth.

Although the story was primarily set in Scotland, luckily only one character was written with a “Scottish accent” which was a blessing because the accent bore no resemblance to the way anyone in any part of Scotland actually speaks and was entirely too cringe-worthy to be taken seriously.

When I read a Blaze novel I’m looking for a blend of romance, love and steamy sex. This one had the sex in spades but it didn’t achieve the other two to any satisfying degree which, in my opinion, made the sex a little too emotionless and sordid.

The whole story lacked depth and, while the writing was fairly engaging, it felt that we never really got to know the characters, making them hard to know and root for. Both Bea and Ralph could have been really engaging but it was never pulled off.

I really was looking forward to this story but in the end I was left extremely disappointed. I’m not sure if it was because it was a sequel and I hadn’t read the previous books but the book just didn’t have any spark for me. 2 stars.