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.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A Hellion In Her Bed by Sabrina Jeffries

A great addition to the series
4 stars

Determined to get out of his grandmother’s scheme to see him and his siblings married or disinherited, gambler Lord Jarret Sharpe agrees to run his family’s brewery for a year and stay as a bachelor. But that doesn’t mean that he can resist one last wager with the tempting Annabel Lake.

Annabel is determined to save her family’s own brewery so she makes a scandalous wager. If she wins then Jarret must help her save her brewery but if he wins she’ll agree to a night in his bed. The outcome sets off a chain of events that will reveal long kept secrets and destroy the best laid plans. But who will end up gambling with their heart?

This is the second book in the Hellions of Halstead Hall series and while you probably don’t have to read the first one (The Truth about Lord Stoneville) before reading this one, I do think it will help with the back story of the Sharpe family and the ongoing plot of their parents deaths if you read them in order. The book that follows on from this one is How to Woo a Reluctant Lady.

I love Sabrina Jeffries and while I really enjoyed this book and the romance, it didn’t knock my socks off like I wanted it to. Having said that, both Jarret and Annabel are great characters and I really enjoyed their scenes together and rooted for them to work things out. They had good chemistry and there were some nice sensual moments throughout the story. The plot was interesting and never got bogged down in brewing terminology. I would have preferred it if Annabel’s ‘secret’ hadn’t overshadowed the final parts of the book but I still got a good, romantic conclusion which is always a good thing.

If you’re a fan of Sabrina Jeffries, are reading the Hellions of Hallstead Hall series or just want to read an engaging and engrossing romantic story then I would definitely recommend this one to you.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Nerds Like It Hot by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Likeable but far-fetched romance
3 stars

Make-up artist Gillian McCormick’s life just took a turn for the worse when she was the only witness to a mafia murder. Hiding out on a cruise for nerdy singletons sounds like the perfect place to hide, especially since she’s donned a blonde bombshell disguise that’s worlds away from her usual self.

P.I. and bodyguard, Lex Manchester, isn’t too keen on a singles nerd cruise but he is keen on Gillian and the sparks that are flying between the pair. His first mission is to protect Gillian at all costs and it’s only right that he stay very close to her at all times even if that means never letting her go.

This is another of Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Nerd Series although each book stands entirely alone. Having said that, despite this being billed as one of the series and set on a Nerd cruise – neither the hero or heroine were actual nerds or even particularly geeky which made it different from the other books.

This book was entertaining and if you can put aside the sheer implausibility of the plot then it’s an enjoyable read. However, I didn’t think that any of the characters acted the way they should have if they had really been in the situations they found themselves in and the unlikeliness of this started to grate on me after a while.

Both Gillian and Lex were enjoyable characters but there wasn’t really any romance between the pair. I believed in their relationship well enough but didn’t really feel the passion or love that they supposedly had for each other. There was a large cast of supporting characters and while I liked them too, some of them were really only fillers and had little point to the actual storyline.

All in all, this was an fantastical and amusing read but not one of the better Nerd books. 3 stars but still worth a read if it’s sitting on your book shelf.

Monday, 20 September 2010

My Nerdy Valentine by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Fun and entertaining romp
4 Stars

Aspiring psychologist Amanda Rykowsky is focussed on getting her degree and with studying, her internship and her bartending job – she’s got little time for anything else. Men included. But that’s not to say she’s very flattered when she receives an anonymous Valentine… until the messages start getting a little personal and sinister.

Stockbroker and resident nerd William Sloan swears he has nothing to do with the dodgy cards and suspects there’s something a little funny going on. There’s something about the gorgeous Amanda that brings out William’s inner he-man and make him insist on acting as a decoy boyfriend.

A fake relationship with some very real lust – it’s only a matter of time before someone gives into temptation. But with Amanda determined to focus on studying, William has to first dispatch her stalker and then claim her heart.

Oh I love a good nerd and the way Vicki Lewis Thompson writes them makes them so sexy! This is part of her ongoing Nerd series but non of the books are connected so stand completely alone.

Amanda was a lovely heroine as she was determined, realistic but couldn’t help but fall for the charms of the lovely Will. Will himself is the kind of man that any woman would want – very smart, adorably cute but still ridiculously sexy and manly underneath his suit and hat with earflaps! Together the pair have a lot of heat especially since Amanda works with Dr Gloria – the craziest sex therapist in the world.

This is the kind of book you have to suspend reality a little to enjoy. The stalker threat isn’t very pleasant but it’s in keeping with the story and not at all scary – just a little creepy. Plus it gives Will a chance to be all manly which is what any nerd needs. I could have done with a quick epilogue to tie things up at the end but was still satisfied by the happily ever after!

If you want a fun, entertaining romantic romp then you can’t go wrong with this book. 4 stars.

Burning Up by Susan Andersen

Engaging and exciting contemporary romance
4 stars

It’s been years since Macy O’James left small town Sugarville, Washington and never looked back. But now both she, and the wild child reputation that she can’t get rid of, are back in town to help out her family and attend her school reunion. As soon as that’s done – she’s hot footing right back to California.

Fire Chief, Gabriel Donovan is none too pleased that he can’t seem to help his reaction to Macy – the pair generate enough sparks to burn down the town. Gabe left Denver for a quiet life in Sugarville and he doesn’t need Macy making him crazy. But sometimes a spark turns into something a whole lot more, especially when you’re not expecting it.

I love Susan Andersen and have been eagerly awaiting this book. This book doesn’t fit into any series (unless it’s the start of a new one) so it can be read completely on its own without worrying that you’ve missed something.

I wasn’t sure that I’d like wild child Macy but I ended up really identifying with her, rooting for her and also wishing that I was as strong as she was. Gabe was the best type of hero – strong and sexy and the chemistry between the pair was scorching. I felt that this book was more sexy than Susan Andersen’s other books.

I loved the small town setting although I wanted a bit more closure with certain aspects of the story. I’m assuming that this is the beginning of a new series so storylines might get picked up and completed in later books.

My biggest gripe about this book was regarding the secondary romance. Firstly, it was focussed on and then dropped as soon as it was done. Secondly, the male was an Irish rocker and my God, the accent and Irishisms were completely OTT. I’m not suggesting that the words he used aren’t used by the Irish but it seemed both stereotypical and made me cringe on more than one occasion.

Overall, Susan Andersen always writes an engaging, exciting story that you can’t bear to put down. Despite its faults, this is a great book and one I would highly recommend if you’re looking for a sexy contemporary romance.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Born on the Fourth of July

Fairly lacklustre romantic anthology
2 stars

This Blaze anthology is a collection of stories based around military heroes and the woman who love them.

FRIENDLY FIRE by Jill Shalvis
Cord Madden is stunned to return from active duty to find his best friend and neighbour, Lexi McGowan, pleasuring herself in his shower. He’s stunned by his reaction to her but the wounds that ended his career are holding him back. Can they both move past it?

This was a fairly bland story with little in the way of deep emotion. I can understand that recovering from wounds suffered while in the army is tough to come to terms with but it doesn’t really make for interesting reading.

THE PRODIGAL by Rhonda Nelson
Major Chase Harrison has only returned from Iraq to attend his father’s funeral even though there was no lost between the pair. But he still has to deal with his father’s secretary, the lovely Rorie Whitaker, who makes his blood boil in a completely different way.

This was the best story in my opinion but still nothing overly special. It was quite sad that father and son could never work things out and while I appreciate that’s real life – that’s not what I read romance for. The romance was nice but I could have done with a more concrete ending.

PACKING HEAT by Karen Foley
Throughout his tour of duty in Iraq, Matt Talbot has been exchanging letters with lovely school teacher, Megan O’Connell. Now that he’s back in the US he plans to get to know her a whole lot better.

This was an okay story although I had a lot of trouble believing that a sweet teacher would be so free and loose the first time she met a guy. It again was a little low on the emotion and excitement but wasn’t terrible overall.

This is a book that is probably more aimed at an American market as I think they would more enjoy the military heroes angle.

Personally, I didn’t think any of the stories delivered particularly well on emotion or drama and while I did get through it, it wasn’t overly exciting or a book I would read again. 2 stars.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Love Writing by Sue Moorcroft

Informative, witty and useful book
5 Stars

As the title would suggest, this is a book that aims to detail the romance writing industry and show you the path to hopefully becoming a published author. Chapters within the book include: Heroes and Heroines; Characters That Convince; Viewpoint and Voice: Emotion and Mood: From Sensuality To Sizzle To Erotica; Act, React and Interact; What’s The Plot?; Genre; So Where Do You Send Your Work?; Networking; Getting Down to Business and YESSSS! (which is about when you get your story published).

Because it’s written by a romance writer for prospective romance writers, I was glad that there’s no disdain or snobbery for any part of the romance industry. Whether you’re looking to write Mills and Boon, historic fiction, erotica or anything in between, Sue Moorcroft treats them all equally and values them all.

Sue Moorcroft’s writing is informative and full of personality. I’ve never read any of her fiction works but she seems to both know and enjoy romance as a whole. As well as that, she’s very witty and has such a humour that I found myself laughing out loud at times, which I think is odd (but refreshing) for a non-fiction book.

There are many snippets of advice from many of romantic fiction’s best loved authors, editors, agents, teachers and industry buffs. Names that stood out for me included Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde, Penny Jordan and Tessa Shapcott.

The main thing that I got from this book was a sense of empowerment. It doesn’t tell you how to write a romance or even how to get published but it does give you inspiration and ideas enough that you feel motivated to go out and start writing. If you’re looking for a ‘how to’ guide to writing romance or lists of agents or writing guidelines then you’re not going to find it here.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. It’s fresh, useful and gives you just enough information without bogging you down or putting you to sleep. If you fancy being a romance writer (of any sort) or want to know about the industry then I would definitely recommend this book to you. 5 stars.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Make Me Yours by Betina Krahn

Entertaining Blaze historical romance
4 Stars

Widow, Mariah Eller was only trying to make sure her inn didn’t get trashed when she found herself catching the attention of the Prince of Wales. Unfortunately for Mariah, she much prefers the prince’s best friend, Jack St. Lawrence.

The attraction is mutual but Jack is completely loyal to the prince and since he knows the prince only gets involved with married women, he figures Mariah is safe. That is until the prince demands Jack find Mariah a husband.

But as Mariah and Jack try to fight their attraction toward each other Jack begins to realise that he has found the perfect husband for Mariah. Himself.

This is a new Blaze historical with this particular book being set in England in 1887.

I love a tortured, broody hero and Jack was certainly that. But, one of the things I love best is that we get a glimpse into the emotions the hero feels and that was something that I felt was a little lacking in this story. Mariah was a fun character with a definite wit and sparkle about her but again, I would have liked a little more emotion from her. Together the pair had great chemistry and the sex scenes were nicely hot.

The writing style was fast paced and I loved the dialogue between the characters, especially Mariah and Jack. The descriptive got a little flowery in places for my liking but it was brief and not very often so it didn’t overly bother me.

I have to give this book 4 stars as, despite its faults, it was a readable book that I didn’t want to put down. I love the fact that Blaze are now offering historical romances in their range and this definitely won’t be the last one that I read.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

While She Was Sleeping by Isabel Sharpe

Opposites attract romance
4 Stars

When Alana Hawthorne visits her sister she has the best dream ever. A hot guy, some amazing moves and an ending that makes your toes curl. Only when she wakes up in the morning she finds that it wasn’t a dream as there’s a very naked man tucked in beside her in bed.

It gets worse as delicious Sawyer Kern is supposedly the new boyfriend of Alana’s sister and the very man Alana came down to save her sister from. But the gorgeous Sawyer’s not one to give up and he’s really up for a repeat performance.

This is a fairly simple story of an uptight girl who falls for a laid back, easy-going guy. Both characters were sympathetic and you really felt the chemistry between the pair. There was a little bit of emotion missing from the story at times and I felt that Alana could have been written a little bit more sympathetically and not so straight-laced and high-strung.

This book is followed by Surprise Me… and although each can be read individually, the secondary love story in this book is not wrapped up until the next book which I suppose is a cheeky way of ensuring that you buy and read the second book in the set.

If I’m honest, I wish I could give this 3 and a half stars out of 5 as 3 seems a little mean while 4 is a little generous. As it is, I’m going to go with 4 because the book was readable, enjoyable and while not perfect, still a good choice to while away a couple of hours.

My Fake Fiancee by Nancy Warren

Interesting, enjoyable romance
4 Stars

Hot shot David Wolfe is determined to become his company’s youngest ever VP. But to do so he needs to find someone to play the fiancĂ©e he’s told his colleagues and boss about. Unfortunately, he’s not a man who usually goes for the kind of woman that they would find acceptable.

Enter his sister’s best friend. David hasn’t seen Chelsea Hammond since she was a geeky teen so he’s more than a little stunned by the sexy woman she’s become. Hammond since she was a geeky teen so he’s more than a little stunned by the sexy woman she’s become and he suddenly finds it’s not so difficult playing pretend. But is it really all for show?

This is a tried and tested storyline where what starts off as pretend turns into the real thing. That’s fine with me because it’s a storyline I enjoy and although not demanding or overly original, I enjoyed this one too.

I liked both David and Chelsea and thought their interactions were fun, interesting and quite true to life. I could have done with a little more emotion, especially with the realisation that it was love rather than just lust or infatuation. But overall, this is a book to escape with for a couple of hours. It’s well written, romantic and perfect if you like a Blaze story. 4 stars.