Saturday, September 26, 2009

Take Me Back to The Black Hills

Black Hills Black Hills by Nora Roberts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another fun read from Nora Roberts. Not her best, but still good. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the Black Hills and the refuge animals.

Another thing I really admire about Roberts is her dialogue. She uses terms real people use. Consider the contraction "I'd've" We all say it. Authors seem to fear it. It's real. I say, if you're writing popular fiction or have characters who speak popular American English, toss that fear aside and go with it.

There are also some possibilities for sequels in this novel, although I don't know if response will be positive enough for it to warrant a sequel. Many of the assistants and interns seem to be characters screaming to be further explored. That would, unfortunately, put Roberts in the position of writing two series at once, so that may be another variable.

I didn't find the hero to be as lovable as her recent loving nerdish ones. The heroine, as always, was strong and smart.

Would I recommend this to a man in a bear suit?
Possibly. The man may have an interest in animal refuge work. Or not. His choice.

Would I recommend this to a fan of Christian Romance?
Possibly. It would depend on the reader's reason for reading Christian Romance. The heroine especially takes a spiritual journey as she finds love with the hero. So does the secondary character who comes to terms with love in her life. Swearing is not particularly prevalent. However, if the reader insists on a completely Christian interpretation of spirituality, this book would not be for him or her.

Would I recommend this to someone looking for something like what Charles Bukowski writes? Absolutely not.

Would I recommend this to

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Not The End

Hot Pursuit (Troubleshooters, #15) Hot Pursuit by Suzanne Brockmann

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
By now it's no secret that there will be a pause in the series for a bit. Maybe some short stories. While the thought makes me want to faint dead away, I totally get it. Brockmann has been writing this series for how long now? Take a rest, girl. Explore some new ideas and formats. Enjoy time with your son. I totally get it.

Add to that the cretaceous hell-fire generated from her previous book where she apparently gave Sophia the HEA many readers didn't want and, truly, she deserves a rest. I didn't get the whole controversy anyway. It's her world and it did leave us with a new way of viewing the series.

While I gave this book 5 stars, I did feel it wasn't up to her usual standards. The plot was good. Sam and Alyssa were a great team as usual. A couple of new characters were introduced, giving the series room to grow. Even a new gay character was introduced. Good deal.

While I enjoy Sam and Alyssa, I'm not understanding the great obsession many readers have with them. I'm hoping the proposed short stories are not all Sam and Alyssa 24/7. There were some other great stories and characters I'd love to revisit.

Including Tom and Kelly Paoletti! Let's check back on the Big One that started it all. Unsung Hero, their love story, was part of the Seal Team 16 series predated the Troubleshooters series. But it was a great setup for the series. And, after all, many critiques of romance consider it the Perfect Contemporary Romantic Suspense Novel.

So, take a break, Ms. Brockmann. Stand down. Job well done and looking forward to the Next Big Thing.

Would I recommend this title to a man in a bear suit? Not unless he indicated he had been reading the series all along. Although it stands alone, the rest of the series really whets the appetite.

Would I recommend this title to the guy standing outside the library repeatedly stating "The End is Near?" Since that's about all he says, I don't think I would. Not that he ever says much else to go on anyway.

Would I recommend this title to a fan who wants Hard Science SF? No. While there are gadgets, this does not meet the criteria for that genre.

Would I recommend this title to a fan of Marliss Merton's Seal series? Yes, without hesitation. Action, romance, empowered heroines and hunky strong smart heroes. Great fit.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Dallas Love-Boat Fail

Burn Burn by Linda Howard

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Well crap.

I enjoy most of Linda Howard's books. This isn't one of them. I read the first 50 pages, as Nancy Pearl recommends. I wasn't impressed. But I wanted to like Burn. I really wanted to! Death Angel wasn't great at the start but had a socko ending. Please, let this one be too, please?

Alas, it was simply not to be. Jenner is a good strong character. Then she turns into a wimp. Maybe seven years after winning the lottery everybody turns into a wimp. Whatta I know?

The beginning Jenner would either have given her capters the slip and burned down the boat or would see right through things and partner with Cael et. al. because it was the right thing to do. I presume so, since I couldn't finish the book.

And Holy Hoary-headed Grebe! What's up with Cael and his merry band of kidnapping-with-no-explanation let's-play-bondage pals? much in the romantic suspense area lately? Bodice-ripping "Rape Me" scenes or anything remotely related to them are sooo 1980s! Not that this was exactly bodice-ripping rape-me stuff. But the undercurrent was the same: Submit woman! Submit or unspeakable things will happen to you and your little friend! And the dog! And the neighbor's dog! Submit!

Or maybe Ms. Howard is revisiting the Glitz and Glamour romances that were hot in the 80s. Jackie Collins anyone? How about her sister, Joan? And maybe there is a chance that will come back while people are facing tough economic times right now. Who knows, maybe it's time to resurrect this subgenre from the dead, dead oil fields of Dallas and the withered vineyards of Falcon Crest.

And, yes, the television show Love Boat kept weaving itself into my consciousness while I tried to read this. Seriously, would the affable and not-stereotypically-named bartender, Isaac Washington have allowed this? Wouldn't Captain Stubing and the Doctor have figured out something was amiss? Couldn't Gopher have sunk the boat or something?

Yup, the whole thing smells of a 1980s rehash, using modern high-tech to somehow imagine it into this century. In fact, something about the previous book, Death Angel, also gives me that vibe.

I have confidence in Ms. Howard and, if she's playing with the genre this way, I can only encourage her even though I did not enjoy this book. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, for the author or the genre. So give it a shot. I hope next time is more successful.

Would I recommend this book to a man in a bear suit? Only if he mentioned loving Speed II, Love Boat, Dallas, and Falcon Crest

Would I recommend this book to an undercover superspy who liked fiction about electronic spy gadgets? I didn't get far, but it appeared to me that the gadgets that were going to be used weren't really emphasized, so I'd have to say no.

Would I recommend this book to someone who likes to read about current events? No.

Would I recommend this book to someone who is really curious about where the romance genre is headed? Yes. Ms. Howard is reviewing old ground and trying to bring it into the present. Give it a shot, Ms. H! I'll check in on your next book, too.

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