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.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Merry Christmas, Baby! by Various

Uninspiring Christmas collection
3 stars

Harlequin Blaze always bring out an anthology near to Christmas and this year’s offering has stories from Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jennifer LaBrecque and Rhonda Nelson.

It’s Christmas, Cowboy! by Vicki Lewis Thompson
Lacey Evans expected to spend the holidays holed up in a remote cabin with her fiancé. As it turns out, it’s unexpected blast from the past ranch hand, Tucker Rankin, that’s keeping her warm by the fire this Christmas.

This was a nice tale that definitely felt the most festive of the three stories. Having said that, Lacey seemed slightly fickle in her affections and Tucker wasn’t exactly the ambitious or hard-working type that I would prefer to swoon over. Still a sweet enough tale.

Northern Fantasy by Jennifer LaBrecque
Stockbroker Jared Martin is in Good Riddance, Alaska for his best friend’s wedding when he meets tempting Theodora “Teddy” Monroe. Teddy dreams of life in the big city while all Jared wants is to find a quiet town to call his own. But neither can deny that they each want the other – but for how long?

This story forms part of LaBrecque’s Alaskan Heat series and while other characters appear it does stand alone just fine. I didn’t really get why you would write a series about a small town when all the characters hate it and want to leave. Couple that with the fact that neither Jared nor Teddy were particularly interesting and I didn’t much care for this story. The fact that all the heroines in these stories also appear to have unusual names that shorten into men’s names was the final irritation for me.

He’ll Be Home For Christmas by Rhonda Nelson
Soldier Silas Davenport has decided to come home to surprise his parents for Christmas. But it’s him that gets a surprise when rather than his parents he finds lovely Delphie Moreau at his house and she’s one gift he can’t wait to unwrap.

This was a pleasant enough story even if it was fairly forgettable. I liked Delphie and could empathise with her and Silas was likeable too. It was realistic which is fine but in a Christmas anthology I was looking for something a little more ‘happily ever after’ or even a little cheesy.

All in all this was an average anthology that didn’t really delight and just didn’t feel festive enough or put me in the Christmas mood. Not bad but really not great. 3 stars.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Come To Me by Linda Winstead Jones

Romantic Intrigue that’s a bit bland
2 stars

Sam Travers’ past has made him wary of relationships. But when Lizzie Porter waltzes back into his office his heart takes a hit. He’s always had a soft spot for Lizzie but now she’s all grown up and she’s determined to show him just how much.

Lizzie is determined to find her half-sister and she wants to hire private investigator Sam to do it for her. The fact that the investigation puts her in close proximity with sexy Sam is just an added bonus. But when they get shot at Sam decides to move in to protect Lizzie – but who will protect his heart?

In the past I have avoided Mills and Boon Intrigue because I am a complete wimp and I assumed that the books would be too scary and tense for my liking. However, I decided to give this one a go as I liked the premise of the story. I now wish I hadn’t bothered but not because of the scariness (of which there was none) but because it was, overall, a bland and uninspiring read.

Our two main characters are Sam and Lizzie. I couldn’t quite figure Sam out – brooding and moody one minute and then grinning and seductive the next. His reasons for not being in a relationship with Lizzie went out the window so fast it made me really question his character. Similarly, I didn’t much care for Lizzie. One of Sam’s main objections to their romance was the age difference between them (8 years) and as such I think that Lizzie was written as quite an immature and naïve 24 year old. This could have been fine but she babbled on, disregarded everyone else’s feelings and was generally too annoying for me to care about her or them as a couple.

The intrigue wasn’t too intriguing and there was little suspense or excitement with the half-sister mystery. And generally, I just didn’t feel any spark with the story as a whole. There was no sexual tension or emotion between any of the characters and I was left feeling completely uninterested. If this is the level of suspense of Intrigue novels then I might give others a go but this one just isn’t for me, I’m afraid. 2 stars.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Viking's Touch by Joanna Fulford

Absorbing romantic story
4 stars

Viking adventurer, Wulfgar Ragnarsson, lives life on the edge, cheating death and making his fortune as a mercenary all to escape the pain of his past. When his ship and crew need to make repairs he finds himself thrown into the company of the beguiling widow, Lady Anwyn.

Lady Anwyn is tasting freedom for the first time but there are many who would try and win her heart and her lands. To protect herself and her son, Anwyn will do anything – even if it means giving herself to a warrior who will never give her his heart.

Upon reading the inscription in this book I found that it appears to be the sequel to The Viking’s Defiant Bride however this book stands completely alone so you can still enjoy it even if you know nothing of the first story.

From the outset I was charmed by this book and the writing style. I’m not sure whether all the language was completely correct to the time period but it was still engaging and the interactions interesting.

Anwyn was a likeable character – strong and defiant but still true to her time period and never becoming a stereotype. Wulfgar is my favourite type of hero – someone who is strong and tough but with a sensitive core and that is crying out for the love of a good woman. The pair had great chemistry and as such I would have liked the love scenes to be a little more in depth.

The story itself kept me interested and I always wanted to carry on reading just a little bit more each time. The ending was wonderful and a good culmination of everything that had happened throughout the story.

Overall, if you like tales of Vikings and the women that tame their hearts and enjoy a good romance then I really think you will like this story so it’s one I would recommend to you. 4 stars.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Riding the Storm by Joanne Rock

Likeable but fairly sedate romance
3 stars

Interior designer, Josie Passano, has left her wild, partying days behind her and now seeks a respectable life as an interior designer. But thanks to some travel sickness pills, she soon finds herself a stowaway on a client’s boat – and a seriously hot client to boot.

Businessman Keith Murphy is captivated by the sexy stranger he finds on board his boat. The red hot chemistry between the two cannot be denied and Keith will do whatever it takes to keep Josie on the boat, in his bed and in his life.

This is the second of a series of books about the Murphy Men of Cape Cod after Making a Splash. Despite it being part of a set, this book stands completely alone and the books will make sense even if not read in order.

All in all this was a likeable book with characters I enjoyed even if I didn’t overly identify with them. Josie and Keith had chemistry and their scenes together were nicely sexy.

My main problem was that for the majority of the story nothing really seemed to happen other than Josie and Keith being together on the boat and that made me a little less than enthusiastic in returning to the book when I put it down. It wasn’t terrible and the writing is good but it just didn’t capture or hold my attention to any degree. I liked the ending but even then, it was cut off without an epilogue which always annoys me.

If you’re reading the series then it’s not one you should necessarily skip but it’s not a book I would go out of my way to recommend.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

His Wayward Ward by Kate Harper

Disappointing and not recommended
2 stars

Eliza has already got her perfect man and the pair have plans to marry. Now all she must do is convince her newly appointed guardian, the wicked rake Lord Julius Carlton, to give his consent.

One meeting between Carlton and Eliza and sparks fly. But will this rake realise where his heart lies before he loses Eliza forever and will Eliza realise that the perfect man might be in the last place she expected to find him?

I was quite looking forward to this story. Billed as a risqué Regency romance and at only 89p what could go wrong? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

I have read and enjoyed a number of stories where wards and guardians get together and never before have I read one where I felt slightly uncomfortable by the relationship between the two. Eliza is 18 but young with it. She’s naive, hot tempered and brattish. In contrast, Carlton is 32 and a disillusioned rake. There was just something off about their interactions in my opinion. Perhaps it was because he continually referred to her as a child or girl that, to be truthful, gave me the creeps.

As well as that, there were a large number of typesetting errors which is just sloppy and irritating when you’re trying to get into a story.

The story itself was very short but you know something’s not going quite right when you feel a little bored and unenthusiastic about the story even with such limited pages. The writing wasn’t terrible (hence the 2 stars rather than just 1) but it seriously lacked any emotion or depth which made it doubly hard to feel anything for the characters.

My last complaint has to be about the term 'risqué' romance because it wasn’t in the least sexy or sensual. Perhaps that harks back to the lack of emotion in the text but I still think it’s terribly misleading and makes the story even more of a disappointment.

Overall, even at only 89p I really can’t recommend this story and would suggest you avoid.

Prince Voronov's Virgin by Lynn Raye Harris

A likeable and readable romance
4 stars

When Paige Barnes finds herself scared and alone on the dark streets of Moscow she is more than surprised to find herself rescued by the intriguing and mysterious Alexei Voronov – a Russian prince and her boss’s arch rival.

Although she knows she should stay away, once Alexei sets his sights on shy, bespectacled Paige neither can anticipate the passion that flares between them. But what are his true motives and how will their relationship develop when he discovers she is carrying his royal heir?

As soon as I started reading this book I began to enjoy it. Unlike other Modern books I have read, Alexei is the perfect blend of arrogance and kindness. You can understand why he acts as he does and he comes across as the perfect, brooding hero. Paige, too, is a good heroine and although shy, she isn’t as insipid or weak as other heroines I have read even if I did want her to be a little bit bolder when it came to her sister. Together they have good chemistry and a relationship you can root for.

The story was interesting and kept you wanting to read and turn the pages. The storyline is quite simple but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially since there isn’t any annoying secondary romance to distract from the main love story.

If you’re not a fan of romance novels or don’t enjoy Mills and Boon novels then perhaps this isn’t the book for you! However, if you do like a good romantic story that will allow you to escape for a couple of hours then I can definitely recommend this book. It’s got good characters who work well together and a storyline that’s interesting and keeps you wanting to turn the pages. I enjoyed it a lot. 4 stars.