Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Phyl's 5 Phaves from March

5. Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. This was available as a free Kindle download back in November and I decided to give it a try. This is not a romance (although there is a bittersweet romantic element). Holmes is a Christian inspirational novelist, and Crossing Oceans was her debut in 2010. It's the story of Jenny, a single mother to a 5-year old girl. Jenny has learned that she has incurable cancer, so she takes her daughter and moves back to her father's to find a new home for little Isabella. She has two choices--her own father, from whom she has been estranged since she became pregnant; or David, her daughter's father who never knew anything about Isabella. Jenny has some fences to mend. Jenny is not always likable, but I think that made her human and realistic. She's dying, doesn't always feel well, and has a lot of ground to make up in the short time left to her. I enjoyed this book that was well outside what I normally read these days.

4. Kill Shot by Vince Flynn. A friend of mine got me hooked on these CIA thrillers shortly after Flynn was first published. With the last 2 books, Flynn took his main protagonist, Mitch Rapp, and went back to the late '80s when Rapp was first beginning his career with the CIA. This latest book is a very taut, fast-paced thriller set in Paris. Rapp nearly falls into a trap that has his superiors in Washington thinking he's turned traitor. Rapp is on the run from the CIA and his enemies until he can convince his boss that things aren't what they appear to be. The nice thing about a book set nearly 25 years in the past is that it avoids many political issues that were in more recent books. It was also kind of fun to be reading something with a lower order of technology. A character is using a cell phone that is described as the large, clunky thing a cell phone once was. Once I started this, I couldn't put it down.

3. The Night is Mine by M.L. Buchman. This military romance features a heroine who flies Black Hawk helicopters and is also a heck of cook. Emily is serving on the front line in Afghanistan when she is suddenly called back to Washington to become, of all things, personal chef to the First Lady. It turns out that the First Lady's life has been threatened and the President wants someone he trusts to be by her side. But Emily loves being in the middle of the action and she'd worked hard to get there. She is none too happy to be reassigned. Her commander, Mark, isn't too happy either. You see, Mark and Emily share a mutual attraction that regulations forbid they act upon. When Emily is injured in an attack upon the First Lady, Mark pulls some strings and rushes to her side, staying to help her investigate the attack. Buchman's style has a sparseness to it that enhanced the military aspects. I also appreciated the way he wrote Emily's character. She's strong and determined and her military career means so much to her that she won't sacrifice it in order to have a relationship with Mark. BTW, I did not realize that Buchman is a man until I went to his website when I was done to find more books.

2. Celebrity in Death by J.D. Robb. Robb's "In Death" books are always enjoyable reads, but this one was particularly entertaining. The previous installment, New York to Dallas, was quite dark, so a return to the lighter side of murder (if I can get away with saying that), was most welcome. Eve, who hates the spotlight, is having to deal with a movie being made about one of her cases. While at a dinner party with the cast of the movie, one of the actresses is found dead. This actress was not well-liked, so there are plenty of suspects. All the things that make this series fun to read are in this book--humor, plenty of time with all of Eve and Roarke's friends, and a decent mystery.

1. Confessions of an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville. I had been looking forward to this book for months and I was not at all disappointed. Minerva Montrose and the Marquis of Blakeney are forced to marry when they're caught in a compromising position. Each really detests the other and on the surface they are so different that it's hard to believe they can make their marriage work. Minerva's goal has always been to marry someone involved in politics so that she can become an influential political hostess. When you think about the limited roles women could have in that era, it makes sense that she would seek to fulfill her own political ambitions through the right marriage. But Blakeney, a rake with a scandalous reputation, has no interest in politics or any of Minerva's intellectual pursuits. Despite their differences, they are attracted to one another and Minerva really is determined to try to make the best of her marriage. I like the way they get to know one another over the course of the book and manage to find a happy medium that will satisfy their individual goals.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

TBR Day. Fatal Affair / Marie Force. 2010

This month's theme is "new to me author" and Marie Force came immediately to mind when I was deciding what to read. One of the best things about TBR Day is that it forces me to read things that have been on the back burner waaaayyyy too long. Really. I should have read this (and the rest in the series) back when I got them last summer. I was the winning bidder for Force's "Fatal" series in the 2011 Brenda Novak auction and if I enjoy the rest of them as much as I liked the first, I'm in for a treat.

I had seen Marie Force's name mentioned several times on Twitter and elsewhere as an author to check out. That's how I ended up bidding on these books. The "Fatal" series is similar to JD Robb's "In Death" series in that it follows the same couple throughout. And while heroine Sam Holland is a police detective like Eve Dallas, the similarities pretty much stop there.

Fatal Affair is book #1 and it's where we meet Detective Sgt. Samantha Holland who serves on the District of Columbia's police force. She's called to the scene of murder of a popular young Senator from Virginia. The Senator's body was discovered by his Chief of Staff, Nick Cappuano. Nick and Sam had enjoyed an extremely brief fling 6 years previously. When they meet at the murder scene, it's the first time they've seen each other since. Naturally there's a lot of pressure on Sam to solve this murder, and solve it quickly. Nick was the Senator's best friend. Nick is grieving and Sam needs his help. Yet both are distracted by unresolved feelings from their previous encounter.

As Sam investigates the murder, she begins to discover a side of the Senator that no one knew anything about, not even Nick. And as Sam and Nick's relationship heats up, suddenly their lives are threatened too. Through it all, Sam deals with department politics, the media's interest in this high profile case, her own family, and fallout from a previous case that resulted in the death of a young child. Force manages to deftly weave all of these subplots together, introduce some interesting secondary characters, and keep the romance hot between Sam and Nick. I also very much enjoyed the book's setting in D.C. and the political aspects involved. I thought it was a well-rounded look at police work in the District and some of the challenges that must be involved there.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books which follow Sam and Nick as their relationship develops. And it appears that there will be secondary romances for some of the characters I met in this first book. Once again, another recommended read for TBR Day. An excellent year so far!