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, 31 July 2011

Terms of Surrender by Leslie Kelly

A book of highs and lows
3 stars

Navy pilot, Danny Wilkes, only has one mission in life and that’s to join the American space programme. But as soon as he sets eyes on fiery Marissa Marshall he has another mission in mind and it involves both of them delightfully naked.

Mari and Danny strike sparks off each other and the sex is terrific but growing up an army brat, Mari is against a relationship with anyone in the military. So Danny has a choice – his lifelong career dreams or the woman that he’s fallen hard and fast for.

I am a huge fan of Leslie Kelly’s and am always excited when she brings out a new book. Unfortunately, this one didn’t really float my boat.

I think, for me, the main problem was with Mari. There was something ballsy and brash about her that meant I just couldn’t like her much or root for her. I’m not against strong females in a romance but she seemed a strange mix of mouthy forcefulness and needy uncertainty that seemed at odds with one another.

Danny was a better character but again, I wouldn’t call him a perfect leading male character. The chemistry between Mari and Danny was fairly hot but not scorching and there were plenty of sexy scenes between the pair.

The story ran along smoothly although I did find myself being interested in the beginning while Danny and Mari weren’t together. Then, when they got together it got quite boring. And again, they weren’t together and it started getting interesting again. It was strange that it was unable to hold my attention from beginning to end. The ending itself was what you would expect but it certainly didn’t make me sigh or even really make me remember it after I’d put the book down.

Perhaps I’m being overly harsh with this book because I have adored some of Kelly’s previous books and so probably set quite a high standard for this one. Having said that, this book was still fairly enjoyable and is an easy read for a quiet afternoon. 3 stars.

Molly Cooper's Dream Date by Barbara Hannay

Inoffensive and fairly sweet romance
3 stars

Molly Cooper wants to make a change in her life so decides to make her dreams a reality by taking her long dreamed of trip to London and away from small island life in Australia. But rather than leave her small home unoccupied she arranges a swap with Londoner, Patrick Knight.

Patrick is stressed to the max in his role as a city banker. Needing a change of pace he decides to give small island life a try to concentrate on writing a book.

But when the pair start to chat to each other through email they both begin to wonder if what they’ve been looking for all along is now living half a world away.

Although this book was written in the form of emails, diary entries and some standard third person, I was actually intrigued despite this being a format that I’ve read in the past and felt it lacking. I got into it fairly quickly and was quite enjoying it. And then it got a little dull.

The email exchanges really showed off Molly’s personality but the lack of actual interactions between the pair made it seem a little tedious for a while and made Molly’s continued rambling on in her emails a little needy.

I actually stopped reading this book for a while and read another before finally picking this up again to finish it. I’m glad I persevered because as soon as Patrick and Molly actually met, things started to pick up again.

Overall, this isn’t a book that I would rave about and it didn’t display much depth or originality of plot but for a romance that will take your mind off things for a while with a slightly different format than usual then you could probably do worse than this book. It’s also quite typical of the Riva line so if you like their storylines then I’m sure you’ll like this one too.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Delicious Do-Over by Debbi Rawlins

Average Spring Break Romance
3 stars

The week before she’s set to change her conservative, boring life and take a risk on a new business venture, practical accountant, Lindsay Shaw is talked into taking a second spring break in Hawaii for a bit of fun.

Six years ago Rick knew that Lindsay knew how to have fun. They’d had the most amazing night of his life yet she’d taken off the next day without a word. Now she’s back and he’s determined to make up for lost time.

This is the second book in the Spring Break mini-series after Second Time Lucky.The books are interconnected but easily stand alone.

As soon as I picked up this book I was interested and my interest didn’t wane right up to the last page. Having said that, there really isn’t any conflict in the story and nothing really stopping the pair from being together.

Both characters were sympathetic although didn’t really have any magical spark either individually or as a couple. I understand that Lindsay was a shy type but even I got annoyed with her meek behaviour at times and she didn’t really grow as a character in the space of the book. Rick was also an okay character but his “uncharacteristic” outbursts were never really explained and he did seem to be a bit uncommitted. But the most annoying thing was that he, who had known a girl for 8 hours and proceeded to get a tattoo of her name on his arm, was panicking that Lindsay was getting in too fast and too deep. Bizarre!

Overall, this was a fairly enjoyable romance that wasn’t spectacular but still passed the time. The writing was good, the descriptions of Hawaii made it come alive and if you’ve got a couple of hours to spare then it will certainly do the trick.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Tangled Up In Love by Heidi Betts

Who knew knitting could be so sexy?
5 stars

Veronica Chasen and Dylan Stone are arch rivals. If they’re not engaged in a war of words, the pair of newspaper columnists from rival papers are challenging each other to dares like bungee jumping, getting tattoos or white water rafting. And now comes the biggest challenge of all – Ronnie dares Dylan to learn how to knit.

Who knew knitting could be so difficult? But Dylan isn’t about to be beaten by a bit of wool or by the infuriatingly sexy Ronnie. So he joins her knitting group and proceeds to charm all Ronnie’s friends. But when she agrees to private knitting lessons she realises she might have found herself getting a little bit tangled up with the one man she never expected.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Heidi Betts but if all her books are like this one then I’m definitely going to buy up her back list!

I love a couple who start off at odds with each other and throughout the course of the novel turn all that passion into love. Ronnie and Dylan definitely fit that bill. From page one I was hooked and rooting for them and it was delicious to watch the pair dance around each other on their journey towards a happily ever after.

The story itself is sexy, funny and really entertaining – this was the kind of book you didn’t want to put down and has characters that you’ll still be thinking about long after the book is done. It’s not heavy on the knitting so don’t worry if, like me, you’ve never knitted before. But after reading this book I definitely want to try my hand at it! There are two more books in this series and I cannot wait to read Jenna and Grace’s stories, Loves Me, Loves Me Knotand Knock Me for a Loop.

If you like fun and sexy romances with great characters then I’d really recommend this book to you. I really loved it from the first page to the last. 5 stars.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Make Me A Match by Diana Holquist

Weak and mediocre romance
3 stars

Cecelia Burns’ life is just the way she always dreamed it would be. She’s got a great job, a great apartment and she’s marrying the most stable, upstanding guy that she could dream of. Everything is going perfectly until her psychic sister crashes her engagement party and claims that she’s marrying the wrong guy and that the right guy, her one true love, is dying.

Finn Concord doesn’t believe in True Love but he is smitten with Cecelia Burns even if she does seem to think he’s dying. But with his lonely daughter, her rent-a-granny, psychics and enough other Finn Concords to make your mind boggle – winning Cecelia’s heart is going to take quite a lot of work.

It took me a while to get into this book and I suppose that should have been some indication of the story as a whole. It wasn’t hard to finish but I felt little to no emotional connection with the stories or the characters.

I wanted to like Cecelia but she was a little uptight and mean, especially to her sister. I know she was supposed to be like that and loosen up as the novel progressed but she was just very hard to like at times. I also didn’t think her reactions rang true and I wondered if Finn would be better off without her. Finn was a little more likeable as a rugged construction worker but I felt he wasn’t strong enough to handle Cecelia and he was obviously so hung up on his first wife that I didn’t think he was ready to move on.

The psychic stuff and the storyline overall was fine and handled well it was just that everything was too convenient and too bizarre to make it believable, even with the magic.

I finished this book and was rooting for the characters but in the end it just didn’t do much for me. A good read if it’s on your bookshelf but nothing I would run out and recommend. 3 stars.

This book is followed by Jasmine’s story in Sexiest Man Aliveand Amy’s story in Hungry for More.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Just The Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

Fabulous romance – adored it!
5 stars

Hot shot lawyer, Taylor Donovan, has recently transferred to LA to deal with a high profile sexual harassment case and she is determined to win. Her work is her life and she’s known to be cool, calm and collected both in the courtroom and out. But that changes when she’s told she has to teach an actor how to do her job.

Jason Andrews has just been voted the sexiest man alive and he’s always been able to make women fall at his feet. The fact that Taylor seems immune to his charms is quite disconcerting but he’s sure there’s a spark of something behind her sarcasm and he’s determined to prove that she might just be his perfect match.

This is the first book by Julie James I’ve read and I was hooked from the first page.

Taylor was a sassy and no-nonsense kind of girl but with a soft side that made her realistic and definitely not a stereotypical ball-busting lawyer.

Jason, the world famous movie star, started off as arrogant and spoiled but as the book and his relationship with Taylor progressed you saw his attitude shift to become a man you couldn’t help but want for yourself.

The pair had amazing chemistry and although there were no graphic sex scenes, there was more sexual tension and chemistry in this book an in many erotic novels I’ve read. The romance and the will-they, won’t they storyline gave me butterflies in my stomach and the conclusion had me sighing in romantic delight!

Overall, I adored this novel and more especially the relationship between Jason and Taylor. I will definitely be looking out for Julie James’ other novels and would recommend this to anyone who likes a fun, sweet and intelligent romance. 5 stars.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Dreams of Desire by Cheryl Holt

Standard and uninspiring romance
3 stars

Lily has had a succession of jobs as a chaperone but her job with the John Middleton, Earl of Penworth is set to be her most daunting yet. So daunting, in fact, that she’ll do anything to escape the imposing earl and his evil twin wards, including drinking a love potion to catch herself a husband who will steal her away.

But when she ends up drinking the potion while staring at John, she sets of a chain of events that can only end in ruin or happiness that will last a lifetime.

This is the final book in the Spinster’s Cure trilogy after Promise of Pleasure and Taste of Temptation but each stands completely alone so there’s no need to read them in order.

Lily, like most of Holt’s heroines, is described as an independent, spirited female and I was delighted to find she actually was written as such. She had spirit and wasn’t afraid to stand up to John – and not just as a token gesture. Sure he was authoritative and demanding and she sometimes was led by him but on the whole she was feistier than most. John was Holt’s usual alpha male and arrogant to boot but I liked his interactions with Lily and liked their story.

Unfortunately, Lily and John’s story took up so little of the actual page count that it was hard to really get behind them or into their story. Other stories included step-mother Esther and half brother Edward and their desire to lay claim to the Earldom. There was John’s fiancĂ©, Violet and her secret love for Edward. Then there was John’s mother, Barbara’s return from the continent and her subsequent affair with Philip. And finally there were the pointless evil twins and first their desire to get rid of Lily and second their dominatrix and twisted sexual desires. I cared little for any of the supporting characters and felt they wasted time away from the main story.

There were, as always, the usual Americanisms, modern slang and talk and general research errors which not only galled but pull you away from the story.

I think I’m going to have to give Cheryl Holt a miss for a wee while from now on. This book was an improvement on the last of hers I read however I feel that they’re all getting a bit similar and I’m now looking for something a little bit more special when I spend my money on a romance novel. This book wasn’t terrible but if I’m honest, I feel that I can’t recommend it. 3 stars.