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May 4, 2012
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (The Blood of Eden, Book 1)

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (The Blood of Eden, Book 1)

A compelling read, given Julie Kagawa’s brilliant writing and ability to create characters we can sympathise with, but it offers nothing new in terms of the vampire mythos.

Oh how I wanted so badly to LOVE this book! It had all the ingredients of a five-star read—most especially in today’s young adult (YA) market. Post-apocalyptic? Check. Vampires? Check. Did I hear you say, What about zombies? Check that, too (though they’re not named thus in the book, they are pretty much the mindless, walking dead with a one-track mind: to eat you).

Throw in a feisty katana-wielding female lead and a love interest worthy of being swooned at and it should have been a straightforward A+. Ach, but it pains me to admit that it falls short of being mind blowing.

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May 2, 2012
Flawless by Carrie Lofty (The Christies, Book 1)

Flawless by Carrie Lofty (The Christies, Book 1)

A second chance romance filled with adventure and set in a South African diamond mine. Not your conventional romance.

Lady Vivienne Bancroft’s father, Sir William Christie, died and left each of his four children an inheritence. For them to claim it, each one has to take a part of his business and make it successful. Vivienne ends up with a diamond mine in South Africa that she has to make profitable in a year.

Miles Durham, Viscount Bancroft, and his wife have been estranged for a few years. He wants to get her back and somehow prove himself to her by taking part in making the venture profitable.

I love adventure romances in your not so average settings! It’s not often that you get a romance in colonial South Africa—in a diamond mine, no less—and for that alone I bought this book. (Okay, Rendezvous also recommended it in their newsletter.) It didn’t disappoint.

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April 26, 2012
The Lone Warrior by Denise Rossetti (Four-sided Pentacle, Book 3)

The Lone Warrior by Denise Rossetti (Four-sided Pentacle, Book 3)

Despite some poignant moments, too many inconsistent elements may prevent you from fully enjoying the story. Best enjoyed as part of the series in which it belongs.

This review is part of the AWW2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.

When Denise Rossetti this year’s Australian Romance Readers Award for The Lone Warrior for Favourite Erotic Romance, I knew I had to read this book. I’m not sure who categorised this book for the awards, but it’s more fantasy romance than erotic, and the publisher label at the back of the book says ‘paranormal romance’.

When Mehcredi’s attempt to do the Necromancer’s bidding goes awry, she’s bound to the service of earth shaman Walker. Abandoned as a child, Mehcredi doesn’t know how to be with people, and effectively being trapped into dealing with a bunch of strangers brings old insecurities to the surface.

Mehcredi gradually finds some peace within Walker’s circle of friends, and some measure of self-confidence. When Walker frees her from her bond so he can pursue his quest to avenge his slain kin—he’s the only one left after they were wiped out by demons—Mehcredi insists on coming along, disguised as Walker’s apprentice.

The beginning of this story had me hooked. Until Mehcredi and Walker set off on their journey, I was invested in her story—of her awful childhood and how she makes new friends, gains self-esteem and, at times, loses progress. I was particularly moved by her description of masturbating, as a child, in a closet:

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April 24, 2012

Starts off beautifully, but sizzling chemistry can’t save a couple that feels like they won’t last six months, let alone a lifetime.

This review is part of the AWW2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.

It’s no secret that, despite discovering her work only last year, Kelly Hunter is one of my favourite category romance authors. Flirting With Intent doesn’t disappoint in the writing department—it includes some beautiful, subtle scenes—but there’s just something lacking between the couple in this book.

It’s not chemistry, because from the moment Ruby Maguire and Damon West meet, the pages fairly sizzle. They embark on a high intensity, high risk affair after their attempts to flirt without intent dissolve in a blaze of kisses and hot limo sex—mostly off-page, but that doesn’t diminish Hunter’s ability to convey the passion between them.

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April 19, 2012
Two Against The Odds by Joan Kilby

Two Against The Odds by Joan Kilby

This book takes risks and touches on issues not often found in the romance genre, but the lack of chemistry between an unsympathetic heroine and a hero who doesn’t seem ready for a long-term commitment make this one a DNF for me.

This review is part of the AWW2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.

I wanted to like this book. There are too few older heroines in romance, and this book deals not only with a twelve-year gap between the heroine and the hero, but it tackles issues not normally found in the genre—abortion, miscarriage and tax evasion.

Rafe Ellersley is sent to audit Lexie Thatcher, an artist who hasn’t paid her taxes in four years and has so far ignored all communication with the tax office. He’s not overly enthused about his job, but he needs the money to be able to fulfil his dream of owning and running a fishing charter.

Lexie Thatcher is in the middle of a painting that she plans to enter in the Archibald Prize, but she’s experiencing painter’s block. The last thing she needs is the tax man hanging out at her place, asking her for receipts, and worrying about how much she may have to pay in back taxes and penalties.

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April 17, 2012

Humour, tragedy, realism and, of course, a happy beginning—this memoir has it all. I don’t know why I didn’t read this sooner.

Anh Do is a comedian who travelled to Australia at the age of two via a refugee boat from Vietnam. This memoir tells the story of his family and his experiences growing up as an Asian-Australian.

This book came highly recommended by so many people. It has earned multiple awards and accolades and has consistently been on the bestseller list since it was first released. I decided to find out for myself what the hype was all about.

Do’s family escaped Vietnam on a tiny boat in the 70s during the war. They went through all sorts of hardships—running out of food and water, running into pirates—before they made it to Malaysia and then finally Australia. When they arrived here, they didn’t have much and Do was pretty much raised by a single mum from the time he entered high school. The Happiest Refugee charts Do’s growing up, his beginnings as a comedian, and how he finally finds success, all with the support of his loving family.

I managed to read most of the book during my lunch hour. It is so easy to read, and Do’s narrative captured me from the first page…and I kept going and going.

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April 12, 2012
One Good Reason by Sarah Mayberry & Feels Like Home by Beth Andrews

One Good Reason by Sarah Mayberry & Feels Like Home by Beth Andrews

A dramatic story with moments that will break your heart. Unfortunately, the hero’s emotional catharsis is rushed and the the resolution doesn’t match the story’s earlier promise.

This review is part of the AWW2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.

Gabby Wade has held a torch for her boss and best friend Tyler Adamson for four years. Unfortunately, Tyler is now very happily married—and we know it’s for read and for good because Australian author Sarah Mayberry wrote his story in The Last Goodbye (Mills & Boon Super Romance). When Tyler’s elder brother, temporarily home for reasons unknown, mistakes her for a lesbian it’s the last straw. Gabby gets spectacularly drunk…and realises that she’s been going through a long period of heartbreak and grief.

Jon Adamson is helping Tyler out with his furniture business while coming to grips with their father’s death. They come from an abusive family and Jon is wracked with grief that he didn’t do enough to protect Tyler from their violent father.

Gabby and Jon immediately feel a connection when they meet, but it’s a slow burn and they both need to face some truths before they can even acknowledge the possibility of accepting a new relationship, no matter how temporary.

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April 7, 2012
Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 10) - Australian/UK edition

Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 10)

Tohr’s book hearkens back to the earlier books in the BDB series. It’s not without its faults, but in true J. R. Ward fashion, when she pulls out the angst, it’s very, very good.

Click here for a round-up of all BDB-related posts on Book Thingo.

I thought I had weaned myself off the crack, cold turkey, after I managed to resist the call of Lover Unleashed. But as a former Cellie, I was interested to see how Tohr gets his happy ending. Plus a review copy of Lover Reborn turned up in the mail. How could I resist?

Warning: This will be a long post. I’m using subheadings so you can skip to the bits that matter to you. There are spoilers, although I’ve tried not to give away major plot points.

The good stuff

I wasn’t expecting much from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. For the most part, J. R. Ward restrains herself from going overly over the top and delivers a story that is more layered and coherent—if not always believable—than the BDB has delivered for some time.

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April 5, 2012
Heart Of The Desert by Carol Marinelli

Heart Of The Desert by Carol Marinelli

A beautifully written story—the sheikh romance for readers who hate sheikh romances. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read in the Mills & Boon Sexy line.

This review is part of the AWW2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.

I’ve never reviewed a Carol Marinelli book, but I’ve tried the author’s work twice; both times were DNF, and I didn’t pick up another one of hers again until I started reading Heart Of The Desert, a sequel to her 2009 M&B Medical, Secret Sheikh, Secret Baby. It’s an absolute keeper.

Georgie Anderson almost had a one-night stand with her brother-in-law, Prince Ibrahim Zaraq, but she turned him down at the last minute and harsh words were exchanged. So when they end up back at Zaraq at the same time, it’s all they can do to be civil to each other.

A series of events finds them stranded in the desert—the desert that haunts Ibrahim and seduces Georgie. But Ibrahim is the third prince of Zaraq, and he’s bound by rules and customs that will never accept Georgie in his life even though each of them knows they may never find anyone else who will understand and accept them so completely.

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April 3, 2012

When this book gets good, it’s, oh, so very good. Alexei and Maisy may reflect the traditional alpha male and ingénue pairing in category romance, but they don’t always behave as expected. And that’s a good thing.

This review is part of the AWW2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.

This book is the reason I try to read past a bad beginning to get to the meat of a story. Maisy Edmonds has been left caring for her best friend’s baby, Kostya, when she and her husband die in an accident. When the house suddenly explodes with strange men, it’s all she can do to convince Alexei Ranaevsky that Kostya needs her.

Alexei is Kostya’s godfather and he takes his role seriously. So much so that without any warning whatsoever, he storms the house where the baby is living, agrees to bring Maisy with him to provide some constancy in the baby’s life…and proceeds to pash her when he accidentally but conveniently walks in while she’s clad in nothing but a towel.

First of all…WTF?

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