Tory’s Friday Ramblings 8/30/13

And here we are at the end of yet another month in 2013. This year truly is zipping by. Then again, I think I feel that way every year. Yet, unlike my husband, I don’t feel like I’m getting any older. Yes, I know technically I am, but overall, I’m doing pretty well. I’m certainly healthier than I was even a year ago.

The Beacon Contest

The Beacon Contest entry period is winding down and entries are definitely coming in faster now. Tomorrow should be …. interesting, as far as that goes. Yikes. At least then I’ll have a chance to sort through everything, assign entries to judges, etc. and it’ll be out of my hands for a few weeks.

On Writing

Wow. Not much on that front. But, on a good note, I did do the snowflake method, or at least a good portion of it, with Locked in Stone. I certainly cleared up my GMC for both the hero and heroine. I have plenty of internal conflict to go along with the external stuff, whereas before I sat down and did it, I only had external conflict. Now Rose actually has a reason to not want to be attracted to Cal (she blames him for her mother’s death), and Cal has a reason to not want to lust after Rose (he blames himself for her mother’s death and now that he’s found Rose, he thinks lusting after her will only distract him from his duty to protect her). Heh.

Now if I could just motivate myself to actually write the book. I have an entire list of scenes for it, but for some reason I still am locking up when I try to write them. Hopefully once I get past the initial, really different section (their first meeting is being completely retooled), I’ll be able to patch in most of the rest of the scenes that I had, and finally move on through to the end of the book.

I’m still champing at the bit to hear back from the publisher. I hate waiting. Especially when I’m so torn on what I believe they’ll say. Heh. Ah well, such is the life, I guess.

In a frustrating moment, I’ve started having more ideas for the Dream-Walker War series. Chris and Jordan are starting to poke at me and I have to remind them they’ve had their books already. Knowing the sociopath, no matter what I do, he’ll find a way to work his way in. Hrmph. Dumb sociopath.

On Weight Loss

After falling rather spectacularly from the weight-loss wagon, I’m now back on and have gotten rid of 3 of the 4 pounds I gained back, so I’m pleased with that. I really don’t like going for walks in the morning yet. It’s muggy, even if it’s definitely a bit cooler than it was even two weeks ago.

Wrap-Up

Well, really not much left to say. I don’t exactly have an exciting life these days. Or any days, really. The Shrimpettes are actually starting to put words together into sentences (when you can make out their words, at least). Little things like “No night night” or “go away Mika” (the dog). Unfortunately, around Jackie I really have to watch my language. I can think of two instances recently where I’ve, erm, gone “Damn it” and she pops out with “Damn it!” with a big-ol’ grin as only can Jackie do.

Sam’s being her normal PITA self. I don’t think I’d know what to do with her if she just abruptly became a little angel. She’s stolen Jackie’s original title of Miss Piss and Vinegar and made it her own. Along with Little Miss I Don’t Believe In Sleep.

Okay, later everyone. More reviews to come!

ARC Review: True Spies

True Spies

Author: Shana Galen
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Description:

Winslow, an elite spy in Regency England, has managed to keep his identity secret from everyone—including his beloved wife Elinor. But his success Spieswith these covert affairs has taken a toll on their marriage, leaving Elinor to entertain the idea of a secret liaison with a rakish spy. She believes that she will finally have the danger and excitement that her marriage has never afforded her—until things get too dangerous, and she ends up being kidnapped. In this Regency romance, no one is who they seem—not even her own husband.

 My Thoughts:

This is the second book in Ms. Galen’s Lord and Lady Spies series, following Lord and Lady Smythe (which was, in part Mr. and Mrs. Smith, set in the Regency period). When I first started reading, I didn’t make the connection between the title and the Arnold Schwartzenegger/Jamie Lee Curtis movie True Lies, but it didn’t take long before the title and plot clicked. This book definitely pays tribute to the movie, and despite the dopey picture of Winslow (aka Baron in the spy organization), his description definitely reminded me of Arnold. But, never fear, this is not simply Arnold and Jamie set in corsets and breeches. Oh no. This was a delightful romp with tension and excitement.

 Elinor has been married to Winn for 14 years now. They have two daughters and she is considering taking a lover (the appropriately name Rafe Trollope) because she’s tired of feeling ignored and unwanted by her own husband who she has no clue is a wildly successful spy for the Barbican Group. She quickly gets caught up in a current mission.

 I was highly entertained by the appearance of Prinny in this book and how he was portrayed. Talk about a spoiled brat. I swear, he needed to be spanked and taught how to say “thank you” when people help/save him/his life. Unfortunately, he might enjoy the spanking. I’m not sure, and it’s kind of squicky to wonder about that, considering. Sometimes I gotta wonder what the real Prince Regent would think/do differently if he knew how he was going to be portrayed in literature for centuries to come.

I love how the book ends and am wildly curious to know who the other female spy within the group is. I absolutely adore Ms. Galen’s books and this is no exception. She simply can’t write these books fast enough for me!

I highly recommend anyone who likes historicals to check this book out. And yes, just as an aside, if you know the True Lies movie, there is a scene very similar to when Jamie Lee Curtis did her strip tease/dance for Arnold. Fabulously done without just rehashing the same ol’ scene.

Five stars without a qualm!

This book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Geek Girls Don’t Date Dukes

Geek Girls Don’t Date Dukes

Author: Gina Lamm
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of Publication: September 3, 2013
Description:

Leah Ramsey has always loved historical romance novels and dressing in period costumes. So when she has a chance to time travel and experience the history for herself, she jumps at it-figuring it can’t be too hard to catch the eye of a duke. After all, it happens all the time in her novels. Avery Russell, valet and prize pugilist, reluctantly helps Leah gain a position in the Duke of Granville’s household… as a maid. Domestic servitude wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, but she’s determined to win her happily ever after. Even if the hero isn’t exactly who she’s expecting…

My Thoughts:

I adored the first book in this series, Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl. Absolutely. Loved. It. So, I had very high expectations going into getting this book from NetGalley. For the most part, this book didn’t disappoint.


Once again, we have a 21st century woman going back in time. The difference is Leah wants to go back in time and Mrs. Knightbridge knowingly sends her back, rather than sending out a random spell that brought Jamie back in time, who decidedly didn’t go willingly (side note – read the first chapter of Scandalous Earl – the description of going through the mirror is HILARIOUS!). Leah even packed for the trip with what she wouldn’t want to do without in the past.

She’s convinced she’d going to fall in love with a duke, so doesn’t quite realize what she’s gotten offered when she runs into Avery. He helps her, even if he’s half afraid she’s a bit cracked in the head with her story about coming from the future. He’s got enough problems of his own to worry with.

Leah certainly gets every opportunity to make her dream of marrying a duke come true, but of course she’s more and more drawn to the quiet, surprisingly bulked up Avery (who fights on the side to earn money to care for a sick relative. This fighting career leads to an interesting secondary plot.) 

A third person comes through the mirror when a tragedy happens in the 21st century with Leah’s grandfather, and I couldn’t help but wonder if somehow, some way, the two time-crossed lovers might just not end up together. Of course, being a romance, I was pretty sure they would, but sheesh, Ms. Lamm! You make it so hard!!!

Leah is a great character as she discovers that role-playing and dressing in period costumes is far easier than actually living in the time period. Avery is a man haunted by mistakes, and his worries for his elderly aunt. I fell in love with him for that very fact, and got a bit sniffly toward the end, I will admit.

Totally enjoyed this read from Ms. Lamm and am begging her and Sourcebooks to do more. I love the time travel twist, especially with how both books end. It’s completely refreshing for me how the heroines end up with their man as opposed to what happens all too often in romance novels (sorry, can’t say more without spoiling the end). 5-star rating all the way. YAY!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Gabriel

Gabriel: Lord of Regret (Lonely Lords)

Author: Grace Burrowes
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Description:

After years in hiding, when Gabriel Wendover leaves behind the woman he loves to resume his place as Marquis of Hesketh, he finds the lady herself already ensconced his household, and the mysterious danger still stalking him. Gabriel loves Polonaise Hunt (Polly) and is both upset and thrilled to find that she’s been hired by his brother to paint the family portraits. He must  keep himself, his brother and Polly safe, but there’s nothing he can do to safeguard his own heart…

 My Thoughts:

There is no end in sight to the wonders of Ms. Burrowes’s novels. Each one makes me love her families more and more. There have been those who criticize her but I’m not one of them because her wordcraft pulls me in and doesn’t let me go once I start reading.

Gabriel, aka Gabriel North from the prior book in the series (Beckman: Lord of Sin), returns home at long last after being in hiding. We finally get to discover why he was hiding (someone had been trying to kill him, he learned) and watch him tentatively step back toward the position of Marquis of Hesketh.

This book had a bit of a different feel for me, because it’s the first time I’ve read a book where there was active maneuvering going on with regard to a title. Gabriel was declared dead by his brother two years ago, and so his brother was now the Marquis, yet with Gabriel very much alive there were issues to be sorted out legally.

Polly of course shows up to paint the picture of the Marquis and his wife (though there is definitely question whether the brother is the legitimate Marquis or not), and discovers Gabriel. She’s hurt when he first tries to send her away and then they gradually work through their issues, and she has her feelings of inadequacy because of secrets revealed in Beckman and brought up again here regarding her time abroad touring Europe with her sister while the sister was a violinist.

Probably the only things that dragged this book down for me were the “woe is me, I’m not worthy because of X” attitude of Polly (which got a little tiresome toward the end of the book) and the resolution to the question of who tried to kill Gabriel. I found the motivation of the ultimate villain, and the villain’s incompetence in carrying out his original intention toward Gabriel, a little eye-rolling. But, then again, I can’t really ask for more when it comes to tugging at the heartstrings with Polly and Gabriel as a couple.

I’m already champing at the bit to get my hands on the sixth book in the series, Gareth: Lord of Rakes. I can barely keep up with Ms. Burrowes. Hat’s off to her AND Sourcebooks for getting her books lined up the way they have for publication!

Book provided by netGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: He’s the Man

He’s The Man (Alexanders #3)

Author: M. Malone
Publisher: CrushStar Romance
Date of Publication: August 18, 2013
Description:

ManBecause in the Alexander family, if we love you then you’re one of us.

Matt Simmons is over Army doctors poking him. But when his sister won’t stop nagging him to see their old babysitter, now a sought-after physical therapist, he gives in just to get some peace.

Penny is finally putting down roots after a lifetime of moving around. She’s got everything she wants, except the settled suburban life she longs for. All she needs is the perfect guy, which means NO military men.

When Matt realizes that his old babysitter is h-o-t, he’s suddenly seeing the benefits of therapy. But Penny still sees him as the bratty kid she used to babysit.

Suddenly he has a new mission in life…

My Thoughts:

As you know, I read the first book in this series only a few days before I read this one (review found HERE). Sadly, this book didn’t live up to the memory I have of the first book, landing only a 3-star rating from me. I think part of this comes from the fact that there wasn’t the definite overtone of romantic suspense that so pulled me in. This book, for the most part, was a straight contemporary romance with a few moments of suspense at the end, wondering if Matt would come out alive.

But, that said, there was still plenty to like about this. I adore the Alexander family, which has certainly grown since the first book (the second book features Nick and Raina hooking up and getting pregnant). Mara, Matt’s sister, is still having issues with her fiance and Matt’s friend Trent. Ridley and Jackson are still crazy in love.

Penny seems to be a pretty solid heroine, dependable and serious about her career (she’s a physical therapist, which is how she re-meets Matt). I’m a little confused on the age thing, considering she apparently baby sat for him at some point yet there is never any reference to how many years are between them. You would think there would have been at least a momentary thought about “ohh, I’m so much younger/older than her/him” at some point, but other than a brief mention that she babysat Matt, that was it.

Matt is a true hero, injured in the line of duty while serving in the military. His whole life has focused on the armed services and ultimately making it to Special Forces. The injury he sustained puts a serious wrench into those plans and he goes to Penny at Mara’s instigation out of desperation since he’s just about given up hope he’ll ever heal properly.

The two slowly work their way around to each other. Another minor problem I had with this was the very brief time either of them spent on having any concern about the definite crossing of boundaries between doctor/patient as they got together. Even Penny’s boss, who clearly knew and was out to harass Penny (not sexually, just your run-of-the-mill jack-ass boss) at every opportunity basically turned a blind eye to the obvious relationship between them.

Still, I was happy to see them get their happily ever after and to see Matt come to terms with his situation so he could begin to create a new life with Penny. Penny learned to accept she couldn’t control everything (she was a military brat so spent a lot of time being hauled from place to place as a kid, I believe) and to live with a man who put his life in danger on a fairly regular basis.

I will definitely keep reading this series. I’m sure other books are as good as the first. This one just didn’t do it for me.

This book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Last Week to Enter The Beacon #Contest

So sue me, I’m gonna use my blog to promote the contest for my local RWA chapter. Oh, and I’m coordinating it too! You’ve got under a week (DEADLINE IS SATURDAY MIDNIGHT TO HAVE ALLLLLLLL PIECES SUBMITTED) to enter and we’re perilously low on Inspirational category entries (as in it might not go forward as a category, it’s that low). Don’t lose out on your chance to get your work before some awesome editors and agents!  For a complete list of rules and to register for the contest visit http://www.firstcoastromancewriters.com/?page_id=8

Permission to forward granted and encouraged!
Hear ye, Hear ye! Don’t miss your last chance!
Is your manuscript ready to submit? Are you looking for a contest with a track record of success?

Or are you wondering how to get your work in front of prestigious agents and editors?

Wonder no longer. The Unpublished Beacon Contest can help!

In the past five years, nine of our finalists have gone on to become Golden Heart Finalists and four of them have sold the finaling manuscript! Last year, there were ten (10) requests from our finalists for partial or full manuscripts from some of the best editors and agents in the industry. In 2011, TWO finalists found their agents through our contest! This year it could be YOU!

Judges: First round will be judged by at least one published author and one trained judge.

Final round will be judged by either two editors or one editor and one agent in each category.

Finalists will have an opportunity to revise based on judges’ comments before the final round.

Final round judges are subject to change when unavoidable.

Rules *

THE BEACON—Unpublished Division Contest for 2013—accepting entries August 1-31, 2013.

All finalists notified the week of October 22, 2013.

Feedback will be sent to all entrants by Oct. 31st, in time to prep for the Golden Heart®!

Winners announced the week of December 15.

Eligibility: Open to all authors of romantic fiction. Published authors are eligible to enter any category in which they have not been contracted and/or published in book length fiction (40,000 words and over) in the last 3 years(Self-published authors are considered published.)

RWA membership is not required for entry. Contest is limited to the first 125 entries.

Fee: $25 FCRW members, $30 RWA member (not FCRW), $35 non-RWA member

Our Beacon_Scoresheet_Sample is designed to provide detailed critique and feedback. Per RWA rules, this contest will NOT be extended past the midnight on 8/31/13 barring acts of natural and manmade disaster including but not limited to hurricanes, fires, floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes. *For a complete list of rules and to register for the contest visit http://www.firstcoastromancewriters.com/?page_id=8

FINAL ROUND JUDGES

Contemporary Series Romance
Agent:   Marisa Corvisiero, Corvisiero Literary Agency
Editor:  Christina Brower, NAL/Penguin Group Publishing

Erotic Romance

Agent:   Beth Miller, Writers House, LLC
Editor:  Linda Ingmanson, Samhain Publishing

Historical/Regency Romance

Agent:   Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency
Editor:  Elizabeth Poteet, St. Martin’s Press

Inspirational Romance

Agent:  Mary Sue Seymour, Seymour Agency
Editor:  Shana Smith, Harlequin Love Inspired

Fantasy, Futuristic, or Paranormal Romance
Agent: Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Inc.
Editor: Kerri-Leigh Grady, Entangled Publishing

Romantic Suspense
Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates
Editor: Allison Lyons, Harlequin Intrigue

Single Title Contemporary Romance

Agent:  Rebecca Strauss, DeFiore & Co.
Editor:  Kate Dresser, Harlequin

Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit or Mainstream Romance
Agent: Michelle Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary Agency
Editor: Leis Pederson, Berkley Publishing

Young Adult

Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Agency
Editor: Audrey Poole, Sourcebooks

Questions? Contact our contest chair at beaconunpub@firstcoastromancewriters.com (that’s me, Tory, by the way!).

ARC Review: Echo Prophecy

Echo Prophecy (Echo Trilogy)

Author: Lindsey Fairleigh
Publisher: L2 Books
Date of Publication: August 16, 2013
Description:

Echo“…we only see what we want to see…what we expect to see…”

Discover what’s hidden–a powerful, mythic race, an ancient Egyptian prophecy, and a love strong enough to shatter the boundaries of time.

Alexandra Larson isn’t human…but she doesn’t know that. As far as Lex is concerned, she’s simply an ambitious and independent archaeology grad student with a knack for deciphering ancient languages, especially the various forms of Egyptian. When she’s recruited to work on her dream excavation, her translating skills uncover the secret entrance to an underground Egyptian temple concealed within Djeser-Djeseru–the famous mortuary temple of Queen Hatchepsut. Lex is beyond thrilled by her discovery…as is the enigmatic and alluring excavation director, Marcus Bahur.

As the relationship between Lex and Marcus heats up, a series of shocking revelations leave the young archaeologist reeling. Once Lex discovers the truth of her ancient Egyptian roots–the truth of her more-than-human nature–the people she trusts most make one final, terrifying revelation: Lex is the central figure of a four-thousand-year-old prophecy. She is the only thing standing between the power to alter the very fabric of time and an evil megalomaniac…who also happens to be her father. As events set in motion over four millennia ago lead Lex and Marcus from Seattle to the heart of Egypt, the fate of mankind depends on one thing: the strength of Lex’s love.

My Thoughts:

I went into this book not really having any expectations. For some reason, although there’s a publisher, I had the belief that this was a self-pubbed book, and for the most part my experiences with those haven’t been spectacular. However, whether self-pubbed or not, I was absolutely blown away by this book.

Ms. Fairleigh took the familiar Egyptian mythology (without going into it too deeply, which could be a bit of a disappointment if you expected lots of in-depth information about Ancient Egypt) and twisted it right around into a completely new species, opening up a fascinating new group of people with some pretty awesome powers. No, we don’t have the tired old “Oh, I’m an immortal, be mine forever” blah blah from Marcus, thank goodness. No, Marcus is truly ancient and the species he represents is quite different from most of the paranormal blah blahs out there (and I use blah blah with the very best of intentions behind it, given how much paranormal you guys know I read).

Lex is a determined grad student working on her dissertation on Ancient Egypt. For me, she’s a bit unbelievably young. PhDs in archaeology are generally earned in the early 30’s, and the dissertation is the very last step in the process, usually after 2-4 years of classes beyond the undergrad work and there’s no explanation as to how she got to this stage so young. After a terrifying dream in which her professor is run over by a car, she starts on a new adventure which brings her into contact with Marcus. Their initial meeting was a bit silly and (to me) obvious when she spilled her drink on a random hot stranger at a bar the night before she meets with the excavation leader. But other than that, I loved the interplay between the characters. It was a nice, slow build up to when Lex and Marcus finally gave in to their desire for one another. Sex was decent, but not overdone, nor introduced too early to the plot.

Now for the villain. Woooow. He was truly sick and twisted, and I loved him! Lex got herself one HECK of an evil father. I don’t know where the series is going to turn after this, because it seems like Ms. Fairleigh wrapped up all the loose ends throughout for the most part, but I know I’m going to eagerly be waiting to find out!

Completely awesome book, a 5-star rating from me. Wahoo!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Fake Fiance, Real Revenge

Fake Fiance, Real Revenge (Three Rivers Ranch)

Author: Roxanne Snopek
Publisher: Entangled Publishing/Bliss
Date of Publication: August 12, 2013
Description:

FakeReal-estate tycoon Mitchell Granger has a problem. In order to secure a lucrative deal with an eccentric client, he told the teeny white lie that he was engaged…and now he needs to prove it. Even worse? The only name that came to mind was Sabrina Becker, the girl he was never good enough for growing up, and who still lives near his family ranch.

Sabrina doesn’t mind posing as Mitch’s fake fiancée—no, she doesn’t mind at all. One, she’ll make him pay with new construction for her business. And two, Sabrina’s got a plan to exact revenge on her first love, the boy who left her and Three River Ranch behind. She’ll pretend so well, he’ll fall in love with her…and then he’ll get a taste of what true heartbreak feels like.

But as Mitch sheds his corporate skin and picks up his dusty jeans and cowboy hat, will both his and Sabrina’s grand plans get derailed by love?

My Thoughts:

Y’all are going to get tired of me saying this, but I swear, Entangled puts out some of the most awesome books around. They might be a baby-aged company, but man-oh-man, they did things RIGHT! (And I’m not saying that just ’cause I want them as a publisher myself). This is another fabulous book. I have yet to come up with a book from Entangled that was less than 3.5 stars, I believe (don’t quote me on that).

Mitch needs a fiance quick when a billionaire turns her sights on Mitch as the perfect match for her step-daughter. He doesn’t want the girl, nor does he want to mix love with the business he hopes to get from said billionaire. So, when the billionaire sets her sights on buying land in Mitch’s home town (that he hasn’t seen in many years), who does he hit upon to be his fake fiance? His old girlfriend, of course. She’s none too fond of him, but she agrees. Little does he know that she wants to make him pay for hurting her all those years ago by running out on her after she said she had a miscarriage.

There are some misunderstandings, of course, and a lot of talking that they really should have done many years ago, but they were both too young when they first got together and they probably did the right thing by calling things off (though I nearly bawled at the miscarriage story). The billionaire proved to be suitably bitchy, and I liked how they added characters from the town. Mitch certainly did the right thing with how he ended up resolving the billionaire’s “evil” (not really, but suitably town-wreckish enough to earn her the title of villain) plans for the ranch she wanted Mitch to develop for her.

The heat in this book was so low as to be non-existent. It’s lovely to read a book that doesn’t hype sex and have it all over the place. When Mitch and Sabrina finally do let the tension simmering between them boil over, it’s done behind closed doors and I appreciated that. We don’t need blatant, explicit sex in every book. Clearly Entangled understands that by publishing books like this.

So, this book got a 4-star rating from me and I will no doubt look up Ms. Snopek again in the future. There were certainly enough secondary characters she can write about that I’ll find my way back to the Three Rivers Ranch again.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: One More Day

One More Day (The Alexanders #1)

Author: M. Malone
Publisher: CrushStar Romance
Date of Publication: June 24, 2013
Description:

Day“You’re with the right person when no matter how bad things get, you’d still rather be with them than anywhere else…”

Ridley Wells has no idea what to do with her life now that she’s graduated from college. But when a friend is murdered and her apartment is trashed, she runs to the only person she trusts, her twin sister. No one will think to look for her in the rinky-dink Virginia town of New Haven.

Of course, her luck lands her passed out in the grass in front of resident bad boy, music producer Jackson Alexander. Strike 1! Then she realizes Raina’s out of the country and she has nowhere else to go. Strike 2!

So when the handsome producer with the platinum smile mistakes her for her sister, she gets an idea.

Where better to hide than in plain sight?

My Thoughts:

I didn’t go into reading this book expecting to like it as much as I did. I tend to shy away from books primarily promoted as romance, rather than romantic suspense/paranormal/etc. I’ve never ready anything by M. Malone, but that will definitely change now (I’m currently deep in Book 3 of the Alexanders series). The only reason this was a half-star off was my confusion over Ridley’s race. On the cover, she looks white as can be, yet in the book, she refers to herself and her sister as “women of color”. Raina had trouble breaking into modeling because she wasn’t white enough. Yet in the descriptions when Jackson looks at her, there’s never a reference to any color (not white, not anything), and when they talk about Ridley’s hair, it’s always soft and flowing. So…was she half-white? Or what? I just felt this was a bit confusing.

Now, on to all the absolute goodness about this book. Ridley’s on the run, and while running off to her sister’s was a bit of a boneheaded move, it fits in precisely with Ridley’s personality. She turns to the only family she has when she’s in trouble, and knows her sister will ultimately help her, no matter they’ve recently had a fight. Ridley is very confused, having witnessed her sort-of boyfriend/PI looking for her father die in a car wreck that turns out to not have been an accident.

Jackson is a grief-stricken man, having carried the guilt for his wife’s death for several years. He didn’t kill her, but they argued just before she went off that fateful night, so he’s carried that around. He’s a music producer and former artist/singer. He has two adorable little boys who truly blossom over the course of the book.

I also started to mark this book down a bit because Ridley was lying about who she was and I was afraid the author was going to carry it on for too long and then resolve it miraculously right at the end. Luckily, Ridley ‘fesses up before the 50% mark and they work on things from there.

There was a nice background suspense story what with who’s breaking in, burning Ridley’s apartment, and so forth. I’ll admit I had my suspicions about who the ultimate villain was, but I certainly didn’t see why he was the villain until it was revealed. My bad. Hehe. Well done on that end, Ms. Malone.

The cast of secondary characters (Ridley’s twin, Jackson’s brother and friends) rounded out the story nicely without overwhelming it. You see the gradual introduction of the next hero/heroine (Raina and Nick), but they don’t overwhelm this story, but rather supplement the Ridley/Jackson story while introducing the elements that will play into their own book.

So, overall, a great 4.5-star rating for me. Can’t wait to finish the third book (the second wasn’t available through NetGalley, dang it).

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Once Upon a Wallflower

Once Upon a Wallflower

Author: Wendy Lyn Watson
Publisher: Entangled Publishing/Scandalous
Date of Publication: August 12, 2013
Description:

WallflowerA Perennial Wallflower… When Mira Fitzhenry’s guardian arranges her engagement to one of the most scandalous lords to ever grace the peerage, all of society is abuzz. After all, the man has left a trio of dead young women in his wake, including his first fiancée. But Mira doesn’t see a killer in Nicholas’s moonlight eyes, and she resolves to find the real murderer before the wedding.

A Gothic Villain… Expecting to scare the chit away within five minutes of meeting him, scarred and brooding Nicholas, the Viscount Ashfield, is intrigued by Mira’s tenacious resolve to prove his innocence. She’s not put off by his imposing appearance, but his family’s dark secrets mean he cannot let her get close. As the wedding approaches, Nicholas and Mira grow ever closer, yet so does the danger.Will the truth bring Nicholas and Mira together or tear their love apart?

My Thoughts:

First, can I say that once again, Entangled has come up with a gorgeous cover? Now, granted, I can’t see this really fitting with the book, buuuut it’s still gorgeous with all those shades of gray in it.

Now, on to the story. I have to say I was very pleased with this story overall. It was nice that I couldn’t immediately identify the villain, nor did I even really consider who it was, so YAY for that, Ms. Watson!

Mira has a sucky life, being the poor relation and, in most of the town’s opinion, less attractive Mirabelle Fitzhenry. Yes, there are two Mirabelle Fitzhenrys, and an amusingly believable story as to how the cousins have the same first name. Mira goes by, well, Mira, and her cousin (quite a little witch with a b) is known as Bella by most. Her uncle seizes on a chance to avoid marrying his precious Bella to a man suspected of murdering his last fiance by promising to marry Mirabelle Fitzhenry to Nicholas in exchange for paying off some of Uncle’s debts.

Nicholas is pleasantly surprised and not inclined to cry off as everyone expects him to. Mira of course doesn’t believe Nick is capable of murdering anyone, much less his former fiancee, despite what the town (especially Nick’s brother) think. So she sets herself the task of tracking down the real murderer.

There are some twists and turns, a few dark moments in which Mira’s belief in Nicholas is understandably shaken, but overall, this was a great story with some suspense and significant mystery as to who really did the deed.

The relationship with Nick and MIra progressed steadily with both having moments of doubt, but an undeniable attraction to one another. I was very happy when they finally found their way to each other.

Glad to give this book a 4-star rating and I look forward to reading more by Ms. Watson soon. Thank you Entangled!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.