Ah, September. I'm very ambivalent about this time of year. I love the heat. I love the long days. I hate that today was probably our last 90 degree day of the year. However, I also love that school starts and a regular routine is re-established. And I love football season because I do lots of sewing. I guess in the end I'm not sorry to see August go.
Before I move on to the Phaves, remember that contest I won? Look what's up at Amazon! Only 6 months and 28 days to go! And BTW, I've slowly been spending my winnings. A special post will be forthcoming.
Meanwhile, I suppose we must move on to the purpose of this post.
5. The Sergeant's Lady by Susanna Fraser. I almost wrote a full-blown review of this. Then I got lazy. Sorry. This will have to do. Let me say, I'm so glad I watched all of those BBC episodes of Sharpe's Rifles. Besides the awesome goodness of Sean Bean, those shows really help you visualize Spain during the Peninsular War and Fraser's debut novel does an excellent job of reinforcing that vision. Most of the book takes place in Spain and it features an unusual romance between an upper-class woman and the lower-class son of an innkeeper. Anna is with the Army "following the drum"--her husband (who dies early in the book) is a British officer. Will is a sergeant in the Rifles (just like Sharpe!) and the two get to know each other when they find themselves alone and on the run from the French. While the voice is very different, the story reminds me of Carla Kelly's books and I hope we can expect more from Fraser along these lines. I found this to be an impressive debut and I can't wait to read her next book.
4. Ruthless by Anne Stuart. (I love the intro screen to her website.) Depraved hero. Desperate (but not THAT desperate) heroine. Wildly decadent pre-Revolutionary France. Anne Stuart. Really, it doesn't get much better than that. Oh look! It's Sept. 1. Must go fire up the ipod to download my copy of Reckless.
3. All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins. I almost didn't read this book. I tried an earlier book of hers and didn't finish it. Her style just didn't appeal to me. But I read several very positive reviews of this one, so I checked it out of the library. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down. This book is written from a first person POV. In addition, the heroine spends a good deal of the book getting over her first love. As a result, the main romance takes a bit of a back seat to Callie's growth as a person and her gradual realization that she's been hanging on to an illusion. It doesn't sound very romantic, yet this is an extremely appealing (and emotional) read. I was pleasantly surprised and no doubt I will try some of her other books.
2. Last Night's Scandal by Loretta Chase. Once again, sparkling dialogue, well-drawn characters, and liberal doses of humor come together to prove that Chase is one of the best authors the genre has to offer. This book was a delight from beginning to end. It's been over 4 years since I read Lord Perfect where Lisle and Olivia were first introduced as children. I don't remember the details of that book real well. Fortunately I didn't need to as this book stands on its own just fine. It was so kind of Chase to listen to the clamoring of her fans and write Lisle's and Olivia's story.
1. My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne. You know, I could have sworn I read this back in 2008 when it was published. Then I cleaned out my closet and checked my lists and realized it was still unread. Bad Phyl! Awesome book! I loved the heroine's determination to clear her father's name no matter what it took or what it cost. I loved the way Bourne put us into her head and so cleverly demonstrated Jess' unusual upbringing. I loved the ferret! Hey, I just plain loved the book.
And let me end this entry with a special mention of Veil of Night by Linda Howard. You know, it wasn't awesome or anything, but I was fully entertained. I have no regrets that I read it. I read a library copy. But for those of you who think I must be nuts, I loved Cover of Night, too. So there. I sometimes feel so alone ...