Wednesday, November 19, 2008

TBR Day. What a Lady Wants / Victoria Alexander. 2007

This book came out nearly 2 years ago in January 2007 and it’s been sitting on my PDA for about that long. That’s the great thing about ebooks. You can carry several dozen of them around at once and your purse or pocket isn’t any heavier than it would be otherwise. Of course, it’s also easy to forget what’s there or get distracted by other, newer titles like The Bazillionaire’s Pregnant Virgin Mistress (B comes way before W in the alphabetical list, see) that I end up reading first.

Anyhow, this is Book 2 in her 4-book series, Last Man Standing, about 4 friends in Victorian England who make a tontine over who will be the last one to get married. Book 4, Seduction of a Proper Gentleman came out in August. Anyhow, here’s the blurb:

Nigel Cavendish knows he'll marry one day, but hopefully that day is many years—and many women—in the future! Until then, the handsome, unrepentant rake intends to enjoy life's pleasures to the fullest!

From the moment Lady Felicity Melville spies the adventurous scoundrel climbing from a neighbor's window—with his comely conquest's husband in hot pursuit—she knows Nigel is the answer to her prayers . . . with a little reformation, of course! Felicity craves excitement and who in all of London is more exciting than the infamous Mr. Cavendish? So what's a girl to do but hatch a scheme to win what she so fervently desires. But her plan works too well when a game of chance and an errant pistol shot abruptly make them husband and wife—but in a way neither wanted.

Now Felicity has to prove to her wayward husband that she's the only woman he could ever want . . . or need!

Like most blurbs, this one only gives the bare bones of the story. Felicity is a young woman who’s had several seasons and has yet to find anyone to fall in love with and marry. She really wants a home and family of her own. When she meets Nigel, right after wishing on a star, she decides it’s fate and determines that he’s the one she’ll marry. With a little help from Nigel’s sister, Felicity manages to attract Nigel’s attention. Her plan is working until things go awry and she’s forced to marry him before he can decide for himself that he wants her as much as she wants him.

Meanwhile, Nigel’s father has decided that it’s time for Nigel to learn the ropes of being the Viscount one day, and Nigel has to put aside his fun-loving ways and learn the family business as it were. There’s a really nice subplot here about Nigel and his father and their relationship. Nice because not every hero has to come from a dysfunctional family with a mean, autocratic father figure. How unusual!

In many respects, this is standard romance fair. Marriage-minded miss meets marriage-averse man. Attraction occurs. Scandal looms, oh my! Marriage takes place. Love blooms. Big Misunderstanding. Common sense prevails. HEA. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride up to the Big Mis. Victoria Alexander writes wonderful dialogue that is often laugh out loud funny. It’s smart and engaging and does a great job of moving the plot forward. Neither Felicity or Nigel were pushovers. They wanted what they wanted (Felicity wanted Nigel and Nigel wanted freedom) and they were up front and unapologetic for it. I loved this part of the story and the characters Ms. Alexander created. So when the Big Mis occurred it felt contrived and a needless waste of electrons. Really, several chapters could have been omitted from the last quarter of the book. It felt like conflict for the sake of conflict. Here are two characters who spend so much time BEFORE they marry being honest with one another. So why does that change AFTER they marry? Instead the family tragedy that also happens could have been used to create the tension that leads to a realization of deep romantic love. I would like to have seen that.

I’ll give this one a qualified recommendation. If you hate the Big Mis, you might want to avoid this. If that doesn’t bother you so much, than by all means, pick it up (or download it) as it’s definitely worth watching these two spar with one another

Friday, November 14, 2008

World Diabetes Day 2008

Every 10 seconds a person dies from diabetes-related causes.
Every 10 seconds two people develop diabetes.
Over 250 million people live with diabetes worldwide. In 2025, this figure will reach 380 million.
More than 200 children a day develop type 1 diabetes.
In developing countries, close to 75,000 children live with diabetes in desperate circumstances.
Type 1 diabetes is increasing fastest in pre-school children, at a rate of 5% each year.Type 2 diabetes has been reported in children as young as eight.
Type 2 diabetes affects children in both developed and developing countries.

I'd like to call special attention to those 200 children who develop type 1 diabetes every day. Today was picked as World Diabetes Day because it is the birthday of Frederick Banting, who along with Charles Best, is credited with discovering insulin in 1921. Before that discovery, those 200 children were condemned to death within about six weeks of diagnosis. Even today, in many parts of the world, insulin is hard or impossible to get. For those, diabetes is still a death sentence. Thanks to these 2 men, my son is still alive.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Learning Web 2.0

I'm at a workshop today and I'm learning nifty things about Blogger. Here I am sending a post via email. Nifty.

"She makes her own quilts"--Prov. 31:22 (NJB)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Being with Him / Jessica Inclan. 2008

Recently I saw a review or a blurb for the October release, Intimate Beings by Jessica Inclan and I was intrigued enough that I made a note of it. When I saw that IB is the second in a trilogy, I knew I’d have to read #1 first, which is Being with Him. I finished it over the weekend and really enjoyed it. Here’s the blurb from BWH:

They are here among us...

Far from home, gifted with special abilities, hunted for their powers. And they are desperate to find their other, the one who completes them...before it's too late...

Sometimes, Time Really Does Stand Still

Mila Adams has always known she was different. For as long as she can remember, she has had the ability to shift time, and who would believe that? Certainly not the obnoxious blind dates her mother keeps foisting off on her. But Mila can't help feeling there's someone out there for her, a soul mate who might understand her unique ability. And when she looks into the dark eyes of financial whiz Garrick McClellan, she can't but feel her time has finally come.

Any man would lust after a beauty like Mila, but the moment Garrick touches her--feels her shifting time just as he can--he recognizes her as his partner in power. Their connection is immediate, passionate, raw, and beyond anything either has ever experienced. But who are they? What is this gift that joins them so intensely? Are there others like them? And why do they feel that time is running out?

That line at the top, “They are here among us…” ought to have clued me in, but I missed it, so when as I read this book, it turned into something I didn’t expect. And that was a good thing because sometimes it really is nice to be surprised by something a little different.

The backdrop for this trilogy is actually a bit of space opera, without all of the SF gizmo. The characters are all human beings who share the same DNA as us earthlings, but they evolved in somewhat different ways because they were born on different planets. A war between races caused children of one race to be “hidden” on other planets—dropped off to be raised in adoptive homes and saved from the other race that would exploit the children's paranormal powers. It’s an intriguing concept. Mila and Garrick were toddlers when they came to earth and their memories of their original homes are more like dreams to them. They discover their powers as they grow up. Mila keeps hers to herself; Garrick suffers when no one believes him about his. They feel isolated and alone and Ms. Inclan does a great job of helping us feel and believe in their isolation. When Mila and Garrick meet it’s explosive; they fill in one another’s missing piece. And when they begin to discover that they’re not who they thought they were, the loneliness and emptiness of their lives up to that point begins to make sense.

It turns out that where they are from, people are destined to pair up in this way. Words such as “twin” or “double” are used to describe the pairing, because pairs have complementary gifts. For example, Mila can shift her time to the future and Garrick can shift his to the past. Together, though, they can do both, and more. In the book Mila & Garrick end up meeting others like themselves, only with different gifts, such as telekinesis or teleportation. I like how Ms. Inclan took the idea of “destined pairs” and added to it a sense of equal partnership because each one has a gift that only becomes more powerful when it’s used in conjunction with the partner’s gift. There’s real equality in these relationships which made the romantic aspects of the book more meaningful.

Some of the book didn’t make as much sense to me, though. The parents do what they can to save their children by sending them off-world, yet they leave no clues that would help them understand who they are. I know that the children needed to be hidden, but I guess I expected more. In addition, they are aided by a mysterious character who is a traitor to his or her race. This character is only hinted at and it’s difficult to understand the motivation behind his or her aid. That makes certain events just a tad too convenient. The book also bogged down in a section toward the end when Garrick and Mila are temporarily stuck on another planet where they find more people like themselves. For me, this section got a little confusing. But these things were minor and I found myself pretty well glued to the book over the weekend. I’d definitely recommend it and I’m looking forward to reading #2, IB. They're both published in trade, so I borrowed these from my awesome public library. I assume there’s a #3, but Ms. Inclan’s web site doesn’t say how soon.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Phyl's 5 Phaves from October

October was a busy month with me wrapped up in baseball and with a quilt deadline, so it doesn't seem as if I did as much reading as usual. But I did manage to find a few favorites that deserve to be mentioned:

5. Rake's Ransom by Barbara Metzger. This was my October TBR read and a thoroughly delightful traditional Regency. I really liked the snappy dialogue and the way the heroine turned from an immature girl into a young woman.

4. The One I Want by Nancy Warren. I've read a few of Nancy Warren's "Bad Boys" novellas but this was the first full-length novel of hers I'd read. This is a fun story of a spoiled rich girl who leaves her native England for Texas when her parents decide she needs to be on her own and earn a living like the rest of us. She decides to start a business that's the opposite of match-making: she'll help couples break up in a gentle, civilized way. She arranges through a friend to rent a house from a former cop who happens to live next door. This book is the story of their romance, but what makes this book a little different is that there are a couple of secondary romances that spring up as the result of her business. It's a very quick read and I found myself laughing out loud several times. Ms. Warren created some interesting characters and I'm going to continue to watch for her books.

3. Power Play by Deirdre Martin. I do love sports, but unfortunately a well-written romance surrounding professional sports is hard to come by. The few I've read often have the details wrong, which is highly annoying if you actually care about the game like I do. Fortunately, this book is an exception; it covers the sport of hockey very well. This is the story of a star hockey player and a famous soap opera actress who decide to fake a relationship with one another in order to boost their popularity with their fans. These two are stars with rather large egos. Their careers are important to them. If they seem a little selfish, well, all the more realistic. I liked the way the two of them become important to one another. They gradually let down their barriers and reveal their insecurities to one another. I found this believable and entertaining.

2. Heart Fate by Robin D. Owens. I've been a big fan of the Heart Mate series ever since I read the first one. I love the world that Ms. Owens has created. It's an interesting blend of science fiction and fantasy with a touch of paranormal. This one was different because it begins with a hero and heroine who are divorcing their respective spouses. He was not married to his heart mate because his heart mate had been forced into marriage with someone else. He feels guilty that he did not go to his heart mate before she married and guilty because he couldn't make his own marriage work. She is wary of anyone who might try and control her the way her husband had; she's not even thinking about a heart mate as she tries to heal from the abuse her ex-husband heaped on her. Both of these characters have a lot of healing to do and they find a way to do it together.

1. Shades of Twilight by Linda Howard. I'm slowly working my way through Linda Howard's back list. I found this one at the library and when I finally started reading it I was sucked in and could not put it down. The heroine in this is second cousin to the hero and she has loved her older cousin her whole life. He marries someone else (another cousin--that was a little weird, but it made sense) but within a few years as that marriage is falling apart, his wife is murdered. Although it is proven he's not guilty, most people in their town don't believe it so he leaves and stays away for 10 years. There is a lengthy buildup to his return home and the start of a new relationship with the heroine. In that buildup Ms. Howard does a fabulous job of creating a heroine who has been abandoned by so many people in her life that she is just a shell. The hero comes home and sees how she has changed from the happy young girl he once knew and is so appalled that he makes it his mission to get her to laugh again. He also needs to solve the mystery of his wife's death because his return brings danger with it. I did guess the murderer. This is significant because usually I never do. But the suspense part was secondary to the relationship which was beautifully done.