Phyl's 5 Phaves from August

I was going to write this up on Tuesday, but then I started reading Jo Goodman's Never Love a Lawman and, well, I just had to finish that first!

5. Never Romance a Rake by Liz Carlyle. This was one from my TBR pile that I've had for a year now. The hero, Rothewell, is one of those heroes who is about as dark as they come. A horrific childhood combined with a boatload of guilt over the circumstances of his older brother's death have filled him with a lot of self-hatred. He gambles with some very disreputable people and finds himself agreeing to a wager that, should he win, commits him to marry the illegitimate daughter of his gambling partner. Camille is desperate to be married, period, and makes it clear she supports this wager. The two are drawn to one another immediately, and must learn to make their marriage work, despite their secrets and their pasts. This was another beautifully drawn book by Carlyle that focused on the relationship between Rothewell and Camille. Camille tells Rothewell her secrets from the start, but Rothewell needs to learn to both trust and hope.

4. The Edge of Impropriety by Pam Rosenthal. Despite the fact that this book received numerous excellent reviews when it was released last year, I wasn't too interested in reading it. For some reason the plot description didn't excite me. However, it won the RITA in July and then I saw it at the library, so I decided to give it a try. I'm happy to say I'm glad to have read it. Marina & Jasper's relationship begins as a purely sexual one and they are committed to not being committed. But as that resolve begins to fade, they face problems based on the secrets they've been keeping. I thought the writing was just lovely and I think it's quite evident why this book won the RITA.

3. A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James. This was the final book in James' "Desperate Duchesses" series and well worth the wait. I did enjoy all 6 books in the series, especially this one and When the Duke Returns. And while I think this book could be read on its own, I do not recommend it. The hero, Villiers, was a strong secondary character throughout the preceding books. He had a story arc that was important to understanding his character in this book and his choices. I simply do not think he would have been as interesting a character if I had not known him better. Nell, the heroine, is a practical, down to earth woman and the perfect foil for the heretofore selfish, aloof Duke. As always, James tells her stories with plenty of humor; I laughed out loud more than once.

2. My Wicked Fantasy by Karen Ranney. This is an older book by Ranney that I found on Fictionwise last month. (How nice to find out-of-print books republished as ebooks!) The story includes a ghost. Considering that it was originally published in 1998, before paranormals became big, it was probably unusual for its time. It's being re-published in 2010, so if you don't read ebooks, keep your eyes peeled for this. In a nutshell, heroine Mary Kate is injured in a carriage accident involving hero, the Earl of Sandhurst. When she awakes, she has visions and hears a voice telling her to protect the Earl. While she doesn't understand what she's seeing and hearing, the Earl recognizes things only his long-missing wife, Alice, would know. Being a logical male, he assumes Mary Kate is conspiring with his missing wife and he carries Mary Kate home to force her to tell him where Alice is. Mary Kate does not understand the source of her visions, but she cannot ignore what she sees and hears. I found the first half of the book fairly slow going, but as the tension of the mystery of Alice ratcheted up, and the tension between St. John & Mary Kate grew, I was more and more engrossed. What really fascinated me about this was the counterpoint between St. John's logic and Mary Kate's faith. St. John is a straightforward logical male. I could sympathize with his inability to believe that there's a supernatural explanation for what Mary Kate knew even though he really wanted to believe it. This is a book about faith, and hope, and trust, and well worth seeking out.

1. I Can See You by Karen Rose. The heroine of this book, Evie, was a secondary character in one of Rose's early books, Don't Tell, that I read back in June. So quite a few of the secondary characters were familiar, although their roles were small enough that it's not necessary to have read Don't Tell before reading this one. There is an extremely sick serial killer on the loose in Minneapolis. Evie is a psychology graduate student who notices that some women involved in her research project have become the killer's victims. Her research is a key and she approaches the Minneapolis detectives with what she knows. One of the detectives is the very tired, but determined Noah Webster. Together they race the clock to find him. Meanwhile, Noah is having problems with his partner and Evie herself becomes a target. And of course, Noah & Evie fall in love. This is the first book in a new series and we get a nice introduction to the other detectives in Noah's squad who will be having their own books. Another tightly plotted and engrossing read by Rose. A bit gruesome, though, so reader beware!

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