Saturday, August 19, 2017

Jamie Ford - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

In 1986, the belongings of Japanese families who were sent to internment camps in the US were discovered in the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. Henry, a Chinese American, remembers a young Japanese American girl with whom he forged a bond of friendship as a youth, and so he embarks on a journey of self-discovery.

Comment: This book was suggested to me by someone who likes historical fiction and knows I also read the genre but only when I found the title in a bargain deal did I finally get it. I'm quite pleased with it although, in terms of genre, I've read stronger stories on the subject.

This book is focused on Henry Lee's life. Henry is Chinese and he went through his childhood during the 40s, which means he lived in America, during the complicated World War II years. He was sent to school on a scholarship and he got to be in a school where most students are white. Along with Henry, there was also another foreign student, Keiko. Although she was born in America, her family is Japanese and the story focuses a lot on the challenges of being different and also Japanese when they were the enemy overseas.
Now that Henry is in his late fifties, his memories are brought to life because of the findings in the Panama Hotel, a place many Japanese families used as storage when forced to leave their houses during the evacuation of Japanese people to camps in the desert until the end of the war. Henry sees an umbrella and everything comes back to life...

I liked the premise of this book, a man recovering things, dealing with the recent death of his wife and the not always easy relationship with his son and now even the memories of his past. 
Most of the book is set on Henry's childhood experiences but we have frequent glimpses of his thoughts now and what it all means to think about long gone things.

I guess it can be very obvious the purpose was to present a drama story (apparently based on some real facts) but while still leaving space for personal interpretation. On one hand, I liked it that it wasn't overly dramatic, too obvious on the tearjerker capacity but at the same time, the way the plot was developed, some situations didn't feel as tidy as they could to enhance the emotional impact: so summarize, it wasn't as emotional as I imagined it would.

I liked Henry as a character and even his musical taste, which has to be quite the different take on what one assume people from Henry's background would appreciate but his love for jazz was not only a good segment to make some scenes better inserted in the story but it was different enough to make an impression. How this related to the main part of the plot was probably one of the most interesting details of the book.

We, of course, slowly learn about Henry's wishes and his personality by watching his actions and his attitude towards others. It was amazing how he became friend with Keiko, someone even more ostracized than he was and how that initial friendship has shaped all his life choices. When we have books centered, or mostly, on relationships it's always weird not to have the other person's POV in a fluid and suitable manner, even when the focus isn't on that. It's just that while it's great to see things from Henry's perspective, not having Keiko's unless in some obvious reactions she has, can be quite disappointing because some scenes would have been much stronger if we could see both sides. When it comes to the end of the story I wish I could have had more Keiko.

This story is very rich in historical and cultural details and in this regard, one can see the author's work in research and how many real details were added. But the fictional part wasn't as emotional as I would think it could be and even when it comes to Henry and his son's relationship I find this lacking to be a weak point, since it would have been great to see them evolve together more.
Some readers mention in reviews that some things are too obvious laid out to us. I guess I concur, since it would have been great to see some scenes with more impact and less detail, I guess. Or, at least, with the sort of details that would bring more feeling to the equation.

All in all, this was a good effort, I had a great time reading, it was engaging and fluid enough but I hoped for a bit more emotional content and more complexity as well.
Still, a good choice for beginners in the genre.
Grade: 8/10

Thursday, August 17, 2017

MC Beaton - Sick of Shadows

Lady Rose Summer and Captain Harry Cathcart have an engagement of convenience to keep her from India and failed debutantes. She befriends newly arrived Miss Dolly Tremaine, stabbed to death and floating in a boat on the Serpentine River, and barely survives an attempt on her own life. Harry is summoned and the duo uncover deceptions, secrets, and the killer.

Comment: This is the third installment in the Edwardian Murder Mysteries by author MC Beaton, a.k.a Marion Chesney. This is the third book in the adventures of captain Harry Cathcart and lady Rose Summer. This time, the unlikely team must deal with another murder which puts lady Rose right at the center of the possible suspects...

Once more, lady rose sees herself in the middle of a dire situation, namely because she was bored and tried to help a young lady, recently arrived from the countryside. The girl is found dead by lady Rose and her faithful companion Daisy after a strange note sent to Rose scheduling a meeting. This means scandal is at Rose's door again and captain Harry Cathcart is called so he can investigate and solve the problem.
Lady Rose isn't much pleased with Harry, though, because since their fake engagement he has not done his part by going with her to public places or even social calls. They think about breaking things off and Rose even finds a new man to help her but scandal fallows them all once more...

I liked this small story, I managed to read this in one day not only because it was a shorter book but also because it's fascinating and, to me, completely engaging as well.
The stories heavily focus on the relationship troubles between Rose and Harry and I find it quite funny how they easily misunderstand each other and despite being so polite and knowledgeable about so many things, they still fail to talk properly. Since there's only one book missing, I fully expect an amazing finale for their adventures.

I like the writing style a lot. I know I've mentioned before the label "cozy mystery" attributed to books like this one and to me, the shoe sort of fits because it's quite cozy to read about these characters and their little quirks. I like there's a sense of seriousness while still letting us enjoy all the funny aspects of he character's personalities and actions. I can only imagine it's not easy to keep up the balance between the comedy and the drama without resorting to silly details and I think the author does this well.

The book deals with interesting subjects, namely the expectations of younger ladies at the times of plot's setting and even the parents but we still manage to get funny glimpses to make things sound a little easier to digest. I wouldn't say this is filled with stand up comedy jokes but when something is funny I do laugh and enjoy it, for instance, when a man is asked to search Harry's office and retrieve something, he is unable to do it in different moments all because of the cleverness of a character and the ways used to distract the guy seemed funny to me by their ingeniousness (even if things don't end up as funny as that). It just felt like a well played scene I couldn't help laughing at.

The plot is solved soon and although I had my ideas I still enjoyed myself a lot because the explanation proved to be interesting and not too obvious.
The lady Rose/captain Harry situation is taking it's time to be solved but while I understand the attempt to veracity in not making them too close as it to be improper and unrealistic, I do admit I wished they would show - even if not to one another  - bigger proof of their feelings and not just a conversation here and there to other characters. I guess I'd want ti to look a bit more romantic than what it feels now.

All things considered, I had fun reading this and do want to get back to it. I'm very eager to read he final book and to see if it's done and solved well by the author. As for this one, it's a great story, it can be read as s stand alone but it feels "fuller" if one reads the previous installments in order.
Grade: 8/10

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

TBR Challenge: Linnea Sinclair - Finders Keepers

Independent trader Trilby Elliot is making some not-quite-legal modifications to her starfreighter, when an unexpected visitor falls out of space. Literally. He’s crashed onto the uninhabited planet of Avanar in a crippled ’Sko fighter–the last place you’d expect to find a Zafharin military officer because the ’Sko and the Zafharin have been at war as long as Trilby can remember.
Rhis Vanur is your typically arrogant Zafharin. But to Trilby’s surprise, he doesn’t look down on her or her slapdash ship. Still, Trilby’s learned the hard way that even though she found Rhis, she can’t keep him. She’s just a low-budget jump jockey as far as men like him are concerned. She’s not falling for his offer to help…until Port Rumor reports her best friend missing and Trilby learns that the ’Sko are hunting both her and Rhis. Now they’re in it together for better, for worse–or till death blasts them to oblivion....


Comment: It's time for another TBR Challenge read and this month the theme was "kicking it old school", basically meaning a book with at least 10 years publication. As it happened with many other readers, this is always a theme I can easily choose something because there's a lot to pick from within the TBR pile and many of the books aren't that young.
My choice is a book by Linnea Sinclair, whose work I like. This book was first published in 2002 although my own copy is from 2005. In either case, it has been more than 10 years since it was originally published.

In this story we meet Trilby Elliott, an independent trader who is alone in a remote planet, doing some work on her ship, basically adding some details which could be considered illegal in some places. Completely unexpected, something happens and she rescues a man from a dangerous zone of the planet, simply to get scared she might have made a mistake when the man regains his senses and she realizes he's from the other side of the galaxy, therefore not from the same area as she is. He tries to overpower her but they soon realize if they work together, they can lave quicker and he can return to where he is needed, no harm, no foul. The problem is the closes space brings them together in ore ways than one and even the future of the galaxy might be a subject to worry about...

I liked that the author tried to include some class differences in the characters of Trilby and Rhys. Clearly, they come from two different backgrounds and are seen as different people when it comes to their importance in society. Although this didn't define who they were to one another, obviously the reader is supposed to see not only the unlikeliness of their relationship in different settings but also the even more impressive decision of their HEA at the end. Personally, this seemed quite evident to me but I still appreciated how they decided to be together anyway.
I think, though, that the way they have fallen in love feels a little too weak, consistency related, because it happened too fast in my opinion.

The plot, as it often happens with books by the author, is set in a alternative reality of a sci-fi scenario. It's quite interesting to see on the page the imagination of not only the situations related to the plot but the whole setting which comes from the authors imagination. There is so much detail, so many little features and descriptions it has to be some sort of notion which the author tried to bring to life. This is not a plot where we just assume known things, it's like a whole new world presented from scratch (loosely based on existing things if one does think about it for a while) but while still letting the reader imagining in their own way how things could possibly be. I like this aspect of the author's work a lot, even if there are some consistency mistakes or some confusing content sometimes.

This is not a perfect book, nor a perfect romance but I think it does offer that escapism feeling one often considers when reading fiction, especially something so unlike the reality around us.
The plot is complex enough and I think some things weren't as easy to grasp but since this was one of the first books by the author, she has improved a lot with time.
There are some situations which I also think weren't as appealing, namely the need to have obvious villains and caricatural figures to highlight the goodness in others but that can be seen as just a personal preference, I guess. I'd also have preferred some details to be more obvious solved but leaving it in our imagination works too...

All in all, this was a good enough book, a fascinating story, amazing details and elements, a romance interesting enough because both Rhys and Trilby's personalities were intriguing but I've read better by mrs Sinclair. I will keep reading her work anyway, though, but I wouldn't say this is the book to really make a reader fall in love with her writing style and "voice".
Grade: 7/10

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Jana DeLeon - Wicked

College student Tara Chatry is certain something bad has happened to her best friend Ethan Campbell. The smart, geeky student has disappeared, and when Tara tries to get the police involved, they dismiss her concerns, convinced Ethan is just another college student off on a bender.
Shaye Archer hasn’t even been back in New Orleans for a full day when Tara knocks on her door, asking for help. Shaye isn’t prepared to jump back into her old job, but knows if she doesn’t help Tara, no one else will. As she works to find Ethan, she discovers that he’s not the only victim. A serial killer is at work, playing a deadly game, and Shaye rushes against the clock to save Ethan before it’s too late


Comment: I've been following this series since the first book was suggested in one of my book clubs and the installments after have all been part of that group's list. This is the most recent one, the fourth in the series featuring Shaye Archer.

In this new book, Shaye and her mother have returned after the scandal that affected their family in the previous book and it seems right after, Shaye is already involved in a new case about a missing college student. 
Shaye is now helping and working for a friend of that student and things get pretty complicated when the recent murders of two other students suddenly are proven to be connected. What will Shaye be able to do not only to help but to avoid more kidnapping and murders?

Well, I did like all books in this series but now that 4 books have been published I need to say I kind of expected a bigger and more obvious fluidity in the dichotomy plot/romance.
Still, overall, this is still as engaging and interesting as when the series started.

In this new book, Shaye is helping a student finding a missing friend. I think the author was very clever in keeping her plots simple. Yes, some details are a bit dramatic and unlikely but then again if no problems existed and if everyone was perfect in the world, why would we have so many issues to be solved and why would we need to think about it in the first place, so the author has material to choose from. I really like how, despite some subjects being quite melodramatic, the characters still act pretty normal and the subjects dealt with are treated as a serious and in a way, quite simplistically, which I actually like a lot.

One thing I keep hoping to see developed was the relationship between Shaye and detective Lamott, something we keep getting hints of. I know and totally understand how things have been shaped up in a pretty slow burn style, considering Shaye's past and her difficult experiences, but I think that it almost looks like a small contradiction how well leveled and sane Shaye is as a person and then it feels like she uses her past as an excuse to not be with Jackson. I'm not saying they shouldn't take time or get to know each other, which they already do. Maybe I'm not expressing myself well but I just think that after 4 books, Shaye and Jackson could be a step ahead in their relationship.

This brings me to the little detail which made me wrinkle my nose about this book. I did like the overall plot and based on that alone, this books would have been as great as the others. The problem was how the book sort of ended. I wouldn't say this is a cliffhanger, but there's one possibility left in the air which is meant to let the reader think about the "to be continued" notion we often see in continuous series but in this case I can't help but think of it as just a means to keep the overall plot going and it feels like a writing tactic and not as if this new information is a fluid part of the story. It feels like an add on just to create some drama and not a seamlessly and vital element of this story.

At the end, I can't say this was a bad book despite my words on what I liked less, but I expected a bit more in terms of details. Nevertheless, I kept reading because the murder investigation was well done, it's probably not the most complex ever, but it was done well enough.
I'm truly hoping the next one is richer in terms of personality and human interaction's development.
Grade: 7/10

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sophie Kinsella - I've Got Your Number

A couple of glasses of bubbly with the girls and Poppy's life has gone into meltdown. Not only has she lost her engagement ring, but in the panic that followed, she's lost her phone too. When she spots an abandoned phone in a bin it seems it was meant to be…Finders Keepers!
Except the phone's owner, elusive businessman Sam Roxton, doesn't agree. He wants his phone back, and doesn't appreciate Poppy reading all his messages and wading into his personal life. Can things get any more tangled?

Comment: I wouldn't say I consider myself a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella but I did read many of her books. Some, as always, have been more enjoyable than others to me but this one had led me to expect good things, especially considering the good opinion of some people who don't usually appreciate much the chick lit sub genre.

In this book we meet Poppy Wyatt, a young woman who is engaged and will marry very soon but when the story starts, she has just lost the family heirloom ring she was presented with when her fiancé proposed. While looking for it, what she finds instead is a "discarded" cell phone in a garbage bin. She immediately takes it since her own was stolen but apparently it's a company phone and the boss is on the other side demanding Poppy to return the phone but of course Poppy gets herself in quite the situation and somehow she and Sam, the apparent "owner" of the phone start sharing the phone, enabling them both to be together in funny but interestingly necessary situations.
But Poppy's life is sorted at last, will she be ready to say goodbye to her new found friend?

Unlike some of the other books by the author which I sometimes think are too obvious in the attempt to be funny, this one felt a bit more balanced when it comes to the amount of funny/comedy scenes v the more serious ones. Maybe this is why I found this story in particular more to my liking than some others.

I liked Poppy and her personality and I especially liked how such a likable person she seems to be and it was quite easy to imagine her as someone real I could be friends with. Interestingly, I saw in her not many of the usual traits of the type of characters the author uses as her protagonists, and this has definitely made me appreciate the story more. I was very eager to see Poppy succeed and understand the things wrong in her life.

The plot is filled with sometimes silly situations one could only see in movies and not real life, but I liked how each detail somehow let us know a bit more about Poppy and her relationship. I liked how the author has crated Poppy's personality and background and how that made this heroine more likeable. I kind of could guess some things so in terms of originality, the story isn't as perfect as that but the premise is probable enough for the situations to be more acceptable, unlike some plots in other books.

Sharing the phone makes us see through the lives of both Poppy and Sam and it's quite interesting how we get to know them both quite well though some apparent inconsequential details. Of course, we kind of are led to expect Poppy's close wedding doesn't seem to be such a great choice but the author has made this situation solve itself quite well and although I'd have enjoyed a more obvious HEA, it was still quite amazing as it was.
Something I also liked was to get to know about Poppy and Sam's pasts and how serious they were when it mattered.

I really had a great time reading this story and I can understand why this must be one of the fans' favorite. Hopefully more books will be more alike this one instead of some others.I actually think Poppy must be my favorite Kinsella heroine. Except for one or two plot decisions which I think have dragged the story here and there, this was quite a great book and I will certainly remember it fondly and will likely re-read my favorite scenes often.
Grade: 8/10

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A book and a suggestion

Hello all, I hope those of you who show up here are all ok.
Two things in this post and then I'm sure I'll go back to my usual comment posts.

1) One of the recent books I've read was written by a Brazilian psychologist/psychiatric about the so
called dictatorship of beauty (the Portuguese title is literally translated as such) but I haven't found an english translation. 
I got this book in a book fair only because I was curious to read about the mentality that makes women behave in a way that would give so much importance to physical attributes and beauty and to which ends women go to achieve that. I knew this would be a fictional story about several concepts and even a small introduction on why we are al led to think the same way and not be simply ourselves but there is a huge amount of pressure on women to be and look a certain way. I kind of liked the short book but it didn't truly touch some of the themes I expected and even the subject of food disturbs and how that is caused by a misjudging of ourselves and other factors wasn't exploited as I imagined. I think a more non fiction approach would be something I'd prefer to read about. Still, an interesting book about a theme I feel very interested in.
Grade: 6/10

2) I saw on Book Riot's page an article about some of the considered best covers from now until next week. At least it seems to include books within this time frame.
We all know covers can't really define a story but often we are led to imagine amazing scenarios based on a cover. Yes, sometimes the inside doesn't match but looking good isn't always a bad things or because of a deceiving matter (see how it links to the subject above? ha ha).
Anyway, here's the link of this article... http://bookriot.com/2017/08/09/the-best-book-covers/
Some covers do seem very appealing...in fact, I'm now going to check two or three in GR just to see if I'd want to read those stories.
Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

HJ Brues - Yakuza Pride

When yakuza underboss Shigure Matsunaga meets Kenneth Harris at a boring social event, he’s surprised to find himself attracted to the blond gaijin with the mismatched eyes. Shigure is even more pleased when he discovers Ken not only speaks Japanese fluently, but is fluent in Japan's ways, even the more violent of the martial arts. Ken’s expertise at kendo is not his most striking quality—it’s the passion beneath his quiet, almost fragile exterior that ignites Shigure's lust, and the two come together as explosively as they spar.
Shigure is a dangerous man in a dangerous position. He’s been trying to keep the peace with the Daito-kai—his hated rivals—but the danger on the streets is escalating, threatening those Shigure most wants to protect. He may claim to love his gaijin, but before he can keep Ken safe, Shigure will have to overcome hostility from his people, a hidden enemy, and, the most insidious opponent of all, his own hard-won pride.


Comment: I've decided to add this book to my TBR for unknown reasons now. It's been years now since I got it and I can't really remember why...probably because of the different culture of each main character and I was probably interested in seeing how a relationship would be played out.

In this story we meet Kenneth and Shigure, two very different people.
Ken is Caucasian and he is living in Japan, in a friend's house, because Japan's culture is something he likes and understands but one day he will need to get beck to the USA. His life changes when he meets Shigure Matsunaga at a reception and they start talking. Ken is an artist and they sort of bond over a drawing ken makes.
Shigure is a member and a yakuza boss, usually called the Japanese mafia. The yakuza, however, have rules in the way they act, always trying to maintain the traditional Japanese values of honor and rituals. Shigure feels very attracted to Ken and soon they start seeing each other frequently. But there is someone who doesn't like to see them together...

I admit I feel quite surprised by how much I liked this story. I'm not usually a fan of stories where the characters are part of gangs or mafias or stuff like that because the whole mentality usually attributed to these groups makes me angry, so I avoid that. I expected a lot more talk about the yakuza's actions abut thankfully it was so superficial that I had no problem with it. Or, maybe, it's a Japanese thing and it didn't annoy me as much as perhaps more western groups would.

The plot is quite interesting, it basically follows Ken and Shigure's relationship but the focus is not only on them. We see little glimpses of their interactions with others and how that affects everything, including their own relationship. I liked a lot to read about the difference in both cultures, how each one is perceived by others and, because the action takes place in Japan, how Japanese people and also the more reduced number of yakuza members see Ken who, being from a different culture, country and background, is always assumed to be too different. As the plot moved along, the way some people still see the western world can be quite the challenge but, as with everything, it's not a generalization.
There's also a mystery going on and Ken eventually gets himself int he middle of it. I liked how the author dealt with emotions and tricky situations but she didn't run from the biggest problems and, at the end, appearances still matter a lot.

When it came to the plot, I was pleased enough by how things worked out. Maybe some scenes were quite difficult to read through, there's some violence and abuse ( by the villain!) but I'm very happy to see things ended up well.
Still, the way some issues resulting from the abuse were dealt with in a way I can't say I agree 100% with...it felt too easy. I also think some sex scenes were unnecessarily detailed. It was interesting to see them give in to their attraction at first but from a certain point on, it just felt like it was on the way of the plot, so...

Ken and Shigure, as a couple, were likable enough. It was quite interesting to see them as individuals and also as a couple. Who they were as persons and who they were together allowed for a captivating comparison and I liked reading about them in both levels. It was interesting also how their feelings were explored and how much they thought about when it comes to others' opinions and such, especially Shigure's yakuza members (the closest ones to Shigure of course).

All in all, this is quite the story, very detailed and addictive to read. I saw there is a sequel, some people haven't liked it much but I have hopes it can be at least as interesting as this one. I'll try to get to it in the future.
Grade: 8/10

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Heather Cocks / Jessica Morgan - The Royal We

In their first adult novel, authors Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan take on a story of romance and rivalries inspired by today's most talked-about royal couple: Will and Kate.
American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy-tales. Her twin sister Lacey was always the romantic, the one who daydreamed of being a princess. But it's adventure-seeking Bex who goes to Oxford and meets dreamy Nick across the hall - and thus Bex who accidentally finds herself in love with the eventual heir to the British throne. Nick is everything she could have imagined, but Prince Nicholas has unimaginable baggage: grasping friends, a thorny family, hysterical tabloids tracking his every move, and a public that expected its future king to marry a native. On the eve of the most talked-about wedding of the century, Bex reflects on what she's sacrificed for love -- and exactly whose heart she may yet have to break.
 


Comment: The fun part of browsing blogs and bookish sites is that it can give us so many new ideas for more books to be read. Often, a single detail can be enough to make me interested in reading a book (sometimes it has a good outcome, others not so much), especially if I can add it to the TBR and it can become a possibility. 
What sometimes happens is that so long goes since getting the book until the actual reading that I easily forget what was the detail that seemed so urgent for me to get the book in the first place. 
It wasn't the case with this one, I'm all for adaptations of fairy tales within certain parameters and in this book's case, the idea of a novel based on William and Kate, the future King and Queen of England, apparently, felt too much like catnip!

In this book we follow the lives of Rebecca "Bex" Porter and Nick Wales, the fictional characters who resemblance Kate and William and how they met, they fell in love and they got themselves in the position of not being able to imagine life with someone else while at the same time being crowded by the paparazzi and the expected influence of everyone around them. Can this fictional story have such a happy ending as it happened in real life?

I was quite surprised by the length of this novel, I confess I didn't expect such a long book even when the time frame explored here compressed several years. This wouldn't be an issue if all the pages were amazing but I confess some were a little bit boring and the story dragged in some moments.
I know this is pure fiction but the starting point is still quite obvious to us and it's impossible not to make a comparison to reality so, besides the page count and the fiction, I also couldn't not notice how different things are to real life and how that affected the way I was reading and interpreting each new situation.

Bex and Nick's story begins in Oxford where Bex is going to study thanks to an interchange program. They met, they don't fall in love at first sight but they slowly develop a special friendship. With time their feelings change until they finally admit to one another how they really feel. From then, time goes by, their situation becomes more complicated because of his family and how public they relationship eventually gets. So, basically this is the outline of what we know about the real developments between Kate and William's relationship. What this book changes is the names and specific details and what could be the inside/personal situations Nick and Bex went though.

Like I said, the plot drags a bit in some moments... I think the authors tried to be very correct when it comes to the original timeline but while in real life what was happening wasn't something we could think about every day, here we need to read and some situations take a long time or are presented in a way I admit I wasn't fan of.
It was also difficult to imagine certain situations and think of them as possible within the type of scenario included. The differences the authors created to turn this into an original story (for instance, Bex has a twin sister, they are Americans, etc) were interesting but often led to things I, confessing, disliked. I'll say what as a spoiler, so don't check this unless you don't mean to read the book: 
The twin's father dies at some point and that propels Bex and Nick's re involvement after a breakup and Bex and Freddie (Nick's younger brother) kiss twice and there's an inside blackmailer who threatens Bex and Nick's wedding.

All the mentioned annoyed me to be honest. I know it's just fiction and that some sort of conflict had to exist besides the difference in the protagonist' background for the plot to not only move along but also be more captivating. I do think this added, at times, some interesting depth and complexity to things, such as how people would react to a certain problem, mainly Bex, but at the same time, it muddled things as well in the search for drama.

At the end, things were obviously solved after some personal growing up, some overcoming issues and admitting things which were constricting the character's lives. But this is weird to talk about because although I appreciate the differences which make this story original, I still think a lot about the real life details and it can be complicated to disconnect the two things. 
Still, as a fictional tale, it has good things but others elements I wasn't such a fan of.
Grade: 7/10

Monday, August 7, 2017

Deborah Smith - Legends

Elgiva MacRoth descends from a long line of bold Scots willing to fight for their heritage. When her picturesque town comes under siege by a corporate raider, she devises a daring plan to stop billionaire Douglas Kincaid. But kidnapping a man off the rooftop of his penthouse and holding him hostage proves far less complicated than saving herself from his intoxicating sensual assault.
The stunning beauty with her golden eyes and fighting spirit make captivity feel like a fantasy. The desire heating up is enough to make them both forget the battle, and surrender to something far more pleasurable. But Douglas has his own dreams for this lovely spot of Scottish land. And he has a proposal that he hopes will convince Elgiva to give up her hard line and give in to him in every way that matters. With a warrior’s will, he’s fighting for his legacy, his heart, and the woman of his dreams.

Comment: I confess being distracted when I got this book, I thought it would be a new book after the wonderful Gentle Rain (my second favorite by the author), released in 2007 and since then no other contemporaries have come out. But this one is not a new book, simply an older title now released in ebook format (thus my mistake). Still, sine I got it, I went ahead with reading it because this author has written three books which are, to me, three of the most wonderful contemporaries ever (Gentle Rain, Charming Grace and When Venus Fell) and of course I'd want to have more.

In this (shorter) book we have Elgiva MacRoth's stoy and how she, along with some other friends kidnap the rich Douglas Kincaid so he can't sign the final papers on a purchase in Scotland. They all know Kincaid only ants the property to sell and build luxury apartments but for them it's not just an historical place, it's the heritage of their Scottish ancestors.
Douglas Kincaid was led to a kidnapping but he will have his revenge. Although being locked in a cell in the stranger's house, he still tries his best to come free and seducing his beautiful host might be easiest way to do so, right?... 

I was kind of disappointed...I had some trouble connecting to the characters and focusing on the story. I could see the author's trademark "voice" but now that I can compare, it becomes obvious her talent has improved. This book feels a bit boring and the character's personality and actions weren't always details I enjoyed knowing about because both Douglas and Elgiva were not portrayed in a way I'd want to meet them in person even if I could.

The whole plot revolves around the fact Elgiva and her friends want to keep a propriety in their hands via heir law but Douglas Kincaid has plans for it only for boredom reasons. One would think that serious conversations among lawyers and such would at least let the Scots present an united front and a proposal that could appeal to Douglas' sense of business but apparently kidnapping is always a sure bet. I thought this plot starter to be really childish since it also included a plane travel from one continent to another and no one saw or did anything until a certain point. It just feels like a comedy choice when this book was not meant to be funny. I, for one, didn't think it that.

The way things progress, bearing in mind Douglas is alone in a house with Elgiva, can be sort of predictable and while they fight their sexual/intellectual attraction, they also share some personal things which brings them closer. Of course it's not that easy and on the precise moment they are on the verge of giving up the battle, things take a more negative turn. Surely for the story to keep going.
I just don't feel I warmed up enough to them and despite some personal issues being quite interesting from a psychological POV and how hat would affect their choices, this was barely dealt with and the whole kidnapping and finance differences between Elgive and Douglas always a detail that could be rather annoying to me, so... not totally impressed, no.

Considering this kidnapping scenario, obviously we are meant to understand that they are not true enemies, it's all just a big misunderstanding, otherwise it would be a stockholm syndrome kind of plot and those are never something to joke about, I think. But since we understand this is not a real issue when it comes to the plot development it means that the relationship isn't very balanced and believable. Are they really falling in love or is it just the adrenaline and the situation? When the dynamics change and Douglas is again in his environment, I kept thinking thing were not believable either when it comes to a romantic and balanced relationship, no matter what the characters would say. I keep thinking this was not dealt properly and the dialogues didn't win me over either. Oh well.
I hope the author comes back with books like the ones I've mentioned in the beginning, I think her stronger talents are there...
Grade: 5/10