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Times Change

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The relationship between the heroine, Sunny Stone, and the hero, Jacob, can only be described as fireworks. Sunny is no shrinking violet. She's a 4th-degree blackbelt that's obtained degrees in numerous professions, a thoroughly modern, independent woman. So when Jacob shows up at her mountain hideaway demanding the whereabouts of his mysterious brother, Cal (from the first book in this series) and decides to stick around until his brother gets back from vacation, it's just scene after scene of two equally brilliant, equally assertive (Jacob is a 7th degree blackbelt), and equally independent people whose egos want to butt heads, but whose bodies are incredibly attracted to the other. In the other, each has finally met their match.And oh ... by the way ... what Sunny doesn't know is that Jacob, and her brother in law Cal, are both from 300 years in the future...Jacobs attitude about his 'primitive' host gets adjusted (occasionally to the tune of a karate chop, but just as often an inadvertent kiss that leaves him weak in the knees). I won't spoil how it ends, or what happens when Sunny finds out the truth. But if you're sick of romance novels with virginal, shrinking violet masochists, then this book is for you. It's well paced. Well-written. And, as a sci-fi geek, the 'science' of time travel is just credible enough to make the whole story line believable.
Time Was

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Keeping in mind first and foremost that this is a Silhoette romance novel primarily designed to follow the set romance 'formula', I'm rating this one four stars. The primary reason people read these books is because they want romance between two compelling characters, to see a couple overcome obstacles, and a happily ever after all within 250 pages. A light beach-or-waiting-for-a-bus read. Not War and Peace or The Theory of Moral Sentiments.With that in mind, the time travel element was an interesting twist. The author handled it credibly enough for someone who is not a theoretical physicist. The science fiction geek in me wants to say 'but such and such research now proves...', but this isn't a science fiction novel. If I'd wanted to read science fiction this week, I'd have BOUGHT science fiction. I wanted romance. I got it. The characters were likeable and compelling, especially Liberty. And this book left me warm and squishy enough inside that I'm glad I invested a couple of bucks for this book (used) and just went out and hunted down the second book in this series (also used).Only two complaints. 1) - why do romance writers still insist on making mid-twenty-something women virgins? and 2) You could tell the author had a 250 page cutoff because the last chapter feels rushed. It cut off at EXACTLY page 250. I wish she'd gone back and snipped and clipped a few places earlier in the book instead of rushing the final scene so much. It had the potential to earn it that 5th star and didn't quite make it.
Star-Crossed Lovers

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I'm a hard core sci-fi fan who also enjoys a good romance once in a while for light reading, so I was delighted with this book. The small town police chief heroine was well developed, likeable, and credible. So was the space-traveling hero and HOW he ended up on earth. The sub-plot of him being forced to deal with his home planets misogynistic ideas and how much of an eye-opener the heroine is was a fun little sub-plot ... especially with the under-theme of his feminist little sister back on the home planet. I liked very much the fact he was being forced to acknowledge women were mens' equals by the woman he loves who carries a gun!By the end of the book ... you just KNOW more sparks are going to fly between these two about gender roles, but you also feel confident they will be able to work it out. The sub-characters, her brother, his sister, were credible. The only weak character was the villain ... a good villain is hard to write. I immediately went out in search of book 2 of this series!
The Anvil of the Craftsman: Jon's Trilogy, #1

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A heart pounding ride…This book grabs you by the seat of the pants and won't let you go as it drags you by through the IED-laden minefields of Iraq along with the hero/protagonist Jon Anthony and his spooky Special Forces protector, Matt Kameldorn. Along the way we are given fascinating, credible-sounding glimpses into the minds and motivations of not only the Al Qaida operatives, but also some of the ordinary people and tribal leaders who eventually rally against the foreign terrorists in their midst. I will definitely be continuing on with this series, but first, I think I'll go write me some serious Kameldorn fanfiction :-)
Children of the Plague

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In a fascinating twist on the usual post-apocalyptic or fantasy novel which features zombies or magic, Children of the Plague creates a world where aliens unleash a nano-particle plague (the Con) which overcomes humanity by altering humanities genetic structure. Depending upon which program-variation of the virus you have been infected with, either you are vulnerable to having your consciousness 'drained' by another human infected with the Con (hosts), you limp along surviving not knowing when you'll be turned or eaten, or you keep your faculties because mysteriously the consciousness's of other humans who have been taken are downloaded into your mind (exterminators) and it gives you the ability to harness the nanoparticles to use as a quasi-electrical/quasi-magic power. The alien intelligence directing this invasion remains largely unseen in this novel as humans fight to survive (barely) thanks to Lanni and a kind of partial immunity she has to being seized, but you have to question why the two variations of abilities? (and I won't say more because it's a potential spoiler). It's a fascinating world Greg Carrico paints and as the book ends, I hope there will soon be another installment so we can learn what happens next.
Safe with a Stranger

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Overall I enjoyed this story. Clare was an admirable heroine, trying to keep her child safe. Just how she'd ended up Wife # 7 (or some such nonsense) of middle eastern royalty was plausible enough ... as was how she'd managed to escape.Josh was a well-developed character as well. His issues with PTSD and reluctance to get involved with a woman were credible enough on that grounds alone. The whole 'magic/curse' subplot, however, just didn't work for me which is why I only gave it 3 stars. Not that magic ran in their family ... just the whole '3 kids accept great-grandma's curse'. Once you get into the whole 'magic' universe, three magical siblings could have easily engineered a 'kharmic reversal spell' or something to zing the old biddy with her own mojo. Under the right circumstances, magic could have worked. Here ... it fell flat. It felt like a Wikipedia citation of magic because paranormal romance is suddenly now a hot topic. If you want to research magic, speak to a real practitioner of the art.Ironically... once you finally got a glimpse of great-grandma at the end ... she was intriguing. I won't spoil it, but how great-grandma finally 'helped' was the first 'credible' piece of magic in the story.I will probably read the other two books in this series, despite the silliness of the magic, because the characters and main plots were basically sound and I'm hoping the author does more research to make the magical underpinnings more sound. Otherwise, the story would have worked better for me with magic totally absent.
The Outlaw

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Pure paranormal romance. Once you get past the impossibility of time travel and implausibility of a modern-day princess and 1876 native American/halfbreed, the romance in this book just plain -DID- work. The sparks that flew off these two and their mutual attraction and admiration were entirely plausible, as were the obstacles they had to overcome (given the willing suspension of disbelief of time travel). The authors research into the geographical setting and the Dineh/Navajo added necessary realism to anchor this story and make it feel real.A surprise ending that I won't spoil ... a rare 'to be continued' almost for a Harlequin romance. Entirely satisfied with my investment of time and money to read this book.
Gabriel Hawk's Lady

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I was unable to put this book down. Keeping in mind this is a Harlequin romance novel, if you were to add another 100 pages of background from Hawks' viewpoint on the fictitious banana republic and the less-than-squeaky-clean intrigues of the CIA, this book is fast-paced and interesting enough to stand alone as a mainstream drama (think Tom Clancy). Hawk is a hard case, but as you go along, you understand why. Rorie is syrupy drippy sweet and virginal (usually a turnoff), but she's spun realistic enough that you WANT to believe there's such a thing as a 27-year-old virgin. Although Hawk drips with sex appeal and is not initially drawn to Rorie for her looks (he's as contemptuous of the slightly-plump goodie-two-shoes Rorie as one of the reviewers was), understanding his background, the fact he falls in love with her inner strength, not her 'goodie-two-shoes-edness' is natural. All of the characters, even the peripheral ones, have enough character development to feel 'real.'The verdict ... if you see it ... grab it and enjoy the ride.
The Baby Gambit

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This is one of those romance novels that reminds me of why I usually avoid romance novels and instead read meatier fare. Grace is just too self-obsessed with her good looks being a detriment to her own happiness, while Matteo's intense attraction to her while still entangled with her friend is implausible. Matteo knew Julia had a thing for him (gold digger or not) and should not have been using her as a vehicle to get to know Grace better, and Grace should have had more backbone. With his immense wealth, he should have extricated himself from the friend, given it a brief period of time, and then manufactured a bunch of excuses to go visit her museum or buy artwork for it or something to woo her once he was 'clear' of the gold digging girlfriend. A waste of my time.
A Wolf in the Desert

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I only rated this 3-stars because of the slow start of the book. I nearly put it down by the end of chapter 2 because the first chapter delves a little too much into the leader of the Black Watch (who cares ... a short one-paragraph 'prologue' dropping us a hint the character they're about to introduce is more than they seem would have done better) and by chapter 2 the "1%" bikers were caricature-villains. If you've ever read James Fenimore Cooper and been irritated by how overly-wordy and descriptive that particular classic author is, you'll know what I mean. By chapter 4, however, the story finds its pace and became hard to put down, the villains became more believable, and 'Indian' as someone who is more than the bad guys he is running with who has the sudden complication of veterinarian O'Hara on his hands is someone I just want to take home and snuggle with. A bit choppy at times ... we don't get a hint O'Hara learned a few wilderness skills from her brothers until all of a sudden she has them, but enjoyed the strong finish.
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