Tag Archives: Romance

Protection for Hire

7 Oct

Protection for HireCamy Tang

Publisher: Zondervan

Publication Date: 2011

Paperback: 366 pages, though this was one of those Kindle deals for me.

Book Blurb:

Tessa Lancaster’s skills first earned her a position as an enforcer in her Uncle Teruo’s Japanese Mafia gang. Then they landed her in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Now, three months after her release, Tessa’s abilities have gained her a job as bodyguard for wealthy socialite Elizabeth St. Amant and her three-year-old son. But there’s a problem or two … or three …. There’s Elizabeth’s abusive husband whose relentless pursuit goes deeper than mere vengeance. There’s Uncle Teruo, who doesn’t understand why Tessa’s new faith as a Christian prevents her from returning to the yakuza. And then there’s Elizabeth’s lawyer, Charles Britton, who Tessa doesn’t know is the one who ensured that she did maximum time behind bars. Now Tessa and Charles must work together in order to protect their client, while new truths emerge and circumstances spiral to a deadly fever pitch. Factor in both Tessa’s and Charles’s families and you’ve got some wild dynamics—and an action-packed, romantic read as Tessa and Charles discover the reality of being made new in Christ.

Stand alone or series: One of two (that I know of/have yet been written)

Why I read this book: To be honest, it first caught my eye cause the cover looked cool. It’s even better!

Review:

I think the blurb sells this book a little short. Not because all those things aren’t true, but because the blurb writing isn’t nearly as gripping as the novel. I didn’t want to put this book down. I would go to sleep thinking through all the crazy things that happened, and I would wake up and think about the story some more.

Tessa Lancaster is one kick butt kind of girl. It’s all she’s known how to do ever since her early school days. Now out of prison and applying to every job she sees, she can’t seem to land any gig except a position as a bodyguard. Her new friend and protectee, Elizabeth, throws her right in the path of the family she’s trying to avoid and a family unlike one she’s ever known. Charles Britton and his mom and brother have the kind of bond Tessa doesn’t dare dream of. But even she, who’s turned into a sort of detective, has no idea of the dark past that glues this gleaming family together. Will their pasts drag them under or will they emerge stronger? Just read to see.

While the plot is nail-biting, the characters are loveable and layered. Just as in life, no one is truly good or evil, even the ones you’d expect to be… Cough, cough—mafia boss—cough, cough. It’s fascinating to see the light and the dark tugging at each heart. And I must say one of my favorite characters is Vivian Britton. This woman is as fiery as her new cooking concoctions and as sweet as her homemade cannoli. Yum! You want to wrap her up in a hug and take her to the craziest place you’ve ever eaten. Strange combination, I know, but that’s just one of the reasons Vivian and all the rest of the cast are larger-than-life.

Hmm… Now who is this book for? Gee that’s a tough one.

If you like action, this is for you.

If you like mystery, this is for you too.

If you like a little romantic tension, I’d point you this way.

If you like damsels in distress… Well, this damsel will distress anyone who stands in her way.

If you like strange families, Raman, California, car chases, or dancing, would you pick this up already?

Seriously, go pick it up! I know I can’t wait to lose more sleep over this awesome series.

Perfecting Kate

3 Dec

Perfecting Kate

Tamara Leigh

Publisher: Multnomah Publishers

Publication Date: 2007

Paperback: 404 pages

Book Blurb:

Kate’s Creed: Thou shalt embrace singledom and be unbelievably, inconceivably happy.

Yeah, right.

Kate Meadows is a successful San Francisco artist looking for a nice, solid Christian man. So when not one, but two handsome men bachelors enter her orbit in rapid succession, her head is spinning just a bit. Michael Palmer is a hunky and famous makeup artist who actually seems to be flirting with her—rather than her physically flawless roommate, Maia. Trouble is, he keeps handing her business cards from various beauty professionals and plastic surgeons. Is he trying to stamp out every last but of self-esteem she has?

Then there’s Dr. Clive Alexander, good-looking enough to be mistaken for Brad Pitt, who sends Kate’s pulse skittering every time he comes near. Too bad he’s only interested in her work—and doesn’t think she’s much to look at. It’s enough to send a girl running for her paint-spattered, relaxed-fit jeans and swearing off mean altogether! But after undergoing a makeover from Michael’s staff,  Kate can’t be oblivious to the admiring glances men throw her way. Maybe she should try contacts…consider some fancy dental work…and you know, that mole really could stand to go. The question now is, what kind of work will Kate do on herself…and who exactly is she trying to please?

Stand alone or series: Stand alone. Tamara Leigh’s first four books out in the inspirational/Christian fiction world are stand alones. I’ve read three out of the four and have the last sitting upstairs in my office, waiting for me. I’ve loved every one so far. Since then she’s written two series: Southern Discomfort, a modern tale that looks in line with her first four in Christian fiction, and the Age of Faith series, a medieval time travel romance that hearkens back to her pre-Christian romance days as a medieval romance writer for Bantam books.

Why I read this book: If you couldn’t tell from above. I love this author! Her character’s are funny, strong women who develop in faith and become much stronger, really just rockin’ women by the end. And of course, she’s got some great, skin-tingling heroes to sweep them off their feet.

Review:

Most women, at least my girlfriends and I, have things we’d like to fix about ourselves. For example, I could really use some extensions and a miracle treatment to make my unruly waves fall into place and if that constellation of zit scars on my forehead would go away that would be just peachy. But Kate takes self-improvement to a whole new level. As of late, she’s let herself go a bit, but a few too many stinging comments about her appearance send her rocketing off in the wrong direction. Once she gets a taste of the positive reaction she receives for her jazzed up look, she goes a bit nutty with self-improvement “quick fixes”. But the zipping and zapping isn’t done to please herself, it’s done for her makeup artist, constantly-surrounded-by-gorgeous-women boyfriend…ish. But for every one procedure she does he give her three more business cards for others, that would make her the “perfect woman”.

If that’s not bad enough, emotionally unavailable Dr. Hotness in the form of Clive Alexander is constantly showing up and setting her off balance. Sometimes quite literally. She fights her attraction for the good doctor while working alongside him to pull of the biggest job she’s yet hand in her artistic career: the new wing of the children’s burn unit. While she’s happy to help children like Jessica, who tug at her heartstrings, being around so many little ones brings its own issues. Kate cannot have children.

If finding Mr. Christian Right wasn’t hard before, try doing it with being able to provide a “little Junior”. Having been rejected again and again in the past for what she couldn’t give she’s reluctant to open up again for the pain it could cause, but the pain if she waits threatens to be greater. Kate struggles to trust God to bring the right man to her, a man that could forego biological children. In fear of what He’ll say, she’s stops asking about the boys because she doesn’t want to know the answer.

I know I’ve done the same. I didn’t want to know the answer, I wanted to do it my way. But I learned, as Kate learned, that God knows best. Trust and faith are at the center of the novel and parallels she draws between herself and God are fresh and altered at least my view on the subject.

As ever, I loved the spunky, slightly nutty main character. The writing was quick and snappy. The beginning didn’t grab me quite as much as Faking Grace, but once the ball got rolling I had trouble putting it down. The plot is fairly predictable… just by the back cover who do you think she’s going to end up with? But with Leigh the journey is always worth the read. I would, as with her other books, recommend this to any girlfriend. Enjoy!

First Date

29 Oct

First DateKrista McGee

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: 2012

Paperback: 336 pages. Though I read this e-book on my laptop, phone and Kindle, whichever was closest at the time.

Book Blurb:

The last thing Addy Davidson wants is to be on a reality TV show where the prize is a prom date with the President’s son.

She’s focused on her schoolwork so she can get a scholarship to an Ivy League college, uncomfortable in the spotlight, never been on a date, and didn’t even audition for it.

But she got selected anyway.

So she does her best to get eliminated on the very first show. Right before she realizes that the President’s son is possibly the most attractive guy she has ever seen in person, surprisingly nice, and seemingly unimpressed by the 99 other girls who are throwing themselves at him.

Addy’s totally out of her comfort zone but that may be right where God can show her all that she was meant to be.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone but I’ll definitely be checking out more by this author

Why I read this book: It was a new author for me and a teen book to boot. I wanted to see how she was going to pair Christianity with reality TV… The mix just didn’t quite match in my head. The premise reminded me of The Elite series, a futuristic secular series that I’ve also enjoyed. And it was on sale! Perfect combination in my book.

Review:

I really enjoyed this novel. It’s a familiar story, but it’s well written. Addy, our reluctant hero, finds herself torn out of her comfort zone and thrown onto national TV. And through she keeps slipping up she somehow finds herself the sound bite of the night show after show. Addy has always kept herself just under the radar. At school she works hard, is involved in a Bible study, but manages to stay fairly unknown to all but the teachers and her best friend Lexi. The spotlight is far too bright for our high schooler who is afraid to share anything… especially her faith.

I loved how blatant Addy’s faith is in this novel. I enjoyed watching her overcome her struggles with sharing. It has encouraged me to also be more outgoing in my faith. She fights God at many steps of the way (something I’m also familiar with) but ultimately she decides to give Him control. And when she does, amazing things happen.

The story does, of course, revolve around romance. How could it not with a name like First Date? It’s not a whirlwind or hot and heavy like Caleb + Kate. It’s light, sweet and the perfect beginning to my weekend. Part of what I love about this book is it’s clean, I feel no twinge at recommending it to any age. It’s appropriate and readable for middle schoolers but twentysomethings like me will also delight in these quick pages. It’s another one that caught me from the start. I wouldn’t even put it down to make lunch. I had my phone in one hand as I cooked my eggs. If you’re looking for something fluffy, something to make you say “Awww!” This is the book for you. Have fun! I know I did.

 

Notes From a Spinning Planet: Mexico

16 Aug

Mexico

Melody Carlson

Publisher: Waterbrook Press

Publication Date: 2007

Paperback: 225 pages, and thank goodness I had it in paperback. I couldn’t stand another e-book fiasco.

Book Blurb:

Madison Chase’s holiday break is drawing to a close and she’s eager to leave the grey Washington winter and join her Aunt Sid on a warm vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Maddie is pleasantly surprised when her good friend Ryan McIntire shows up to enjoy the trip with them. But when Ryan runs into his high-school crush—the beautiful Shelby Wagner—Maddie’s jealousy threatens to spoil their sun-drenched days.

Unsure of her relationship with Ryan, Maddie distracts herself by befriending a local girl, Fracesca Tarrago, who is both intelligent and hardworking, but lives in deep poverty. As Maddie does what she can to help Francesca, she discovers a secret that Shelby has been keeping from all of them. Can Maddie put aside her conflicted feelings and love Shelby enough to help her?

Follow Maddie to the romantic beaches of Mexico as she explores a love deeper than simple affection—and discovers the beauty of true sacrifice.

Stand alone or series: Third and last of the Notes from a Spinning Planet series.

Why I read this book: The novel that I’m currently writing is not so surprisingly set in Mexico. I wanted to see how another author would handle things like the language difference and the culture.

Review:

On her last adventure, Maddie explores Cabo, a Mexican tourist spot that ranks among Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Much of Maddie’s stay at the two wildly different resorts does not grasp real Mexican life as Carlson  has striven to do in her other novels. However, Sid and Maddie are here for a vacation and not a hard-hitting story. Some Mexican authenticity is found through Maddie’s friendship with Francesca. Much like Lydia in the Papua New Guinea trip, Maddie take Francesca under her wing and helps her out in whatever ways she can. Together they explore a small Mexican town a few hours for Cabo and visit Francesca orphanage where all may not be as it seems.

This novel also brings up self-image issues for Maddie when she begins to compare herself to the tanned and long-legged Shelby. She revisits past struggles and fights against a reoccurrence. The comparison game is easy to play but instead Maddie prays and distracts herself with the beauty of their surroundings. Though self nit-picking is something most women can fall into, I know I can when I have a particularly numerous amount of zits or when I can’t get my oddly wavy hair to sit just right, or one of a dozen other things I regularly pick on myself about. Maddie sets a great example of how to combat such thoughts and fights sinking into self-doubt and pity.

I was really proud of Maddie in this novel. Not only did she fight for herself with looks, she proved strong in many other areas. She stood up to a bully, confronted a friend with a problem and decided she would be just fine with or without the attention of a boy. I felt she really came into her own in this trip and though I don’t typically like drawn out series I would’ve been happy to read another and see where this next chapter in her life would take her.

Though I didn’t particularly enjoy the Papua New Guinea novel, I’m very happy I stuck it out for this final novel in the whirlwind Notes from a Spinning Planet series. Happy reading. And if you’re feeling the urge to explore Mexico after this trip I’d be happy to show you around!

Flabbergasted

26 Jul

Image

Ray Blackston

Publisher: Revell

Publication Date: 2003

Paperback: 327 pages

Book Blurb:

Jay Jarvis just moved east. His dating life’s gone south. What else is a guy to do but go fishing?

Jay is new in town. He’s young, successful, and single, and he’s not afraid to plop down in a church pew to scope out the females. But in the murky waters of the South Caroling singles scene, Jay’s whole world is in danger of being turned upside down.

Stand alone or series: I just found out that it’s part of a series and I couldn’t be more excited!

Why I read this book: I was aching for a good male point of view. I’d just read the most ghastly male POV (point of view) in a romance written by a woman. Now I’m not saying that woman can’t write male perspectives because my creative writing professor tried to smite me when I did so. However from the books that I’ve read in the romance genre, they haven’t turned out so well. Blackston’s Jay hit the mark and had me begging for more.

Review:

I’ve always had so much trouble describing this book. There’s some romance in it, by it’s not a romance. There’s some adventure in it, but it’s not an adventure story. It takes several turns that I was not expecting it to take and took me to a place where I did not think it would end up and though it wasn’t at all what I expected I loved it. If I was hard pressed, I’d say Flabbergasted is a story about a man who found God and it changed his life. Now you might argue that this is what most Christian books are about and I would say that this is not most books.

I know this is going to sound silly, but one of the things I really like about it was that it was written by a man. Ray Blackston was able to give us all those little insights about men that I would never think of but when I read all I could do was shout “Yes! That’s exactly what they do!” The way that Jay handles being cornered by three women into having “the talk” and driving in a car with another man for hours on end and being stranded in a creepy place with a bunch of other guys had me cracking up.

Flabbergasted was Blackston’s debut novel and I can see why he’s done so well since. The characters are brighter than the cover, which, trust me, stands out. From a cute, food-flinging missionary to pseudo-single surfer named Ransom to a tall blond with a penchant for speeding and a car named Lime Shebert, the cast of Flabbergasted will stick with you. The snappy dialogue and Jay’s unfettered thoughts keep the pace moving and the reader laughing. But what I love even more than the great voice is how Blackston is able to combine the serious with the silly.

Jay Jarvis takes a journey from hitting up church with the hopes of finding a date to taking a plunge for his faith, even though that could mean upsetting the future he’d so carefully planned. I watched him as her grew and took first baby steps, them leaps and bounds in his walk with God. It was a fun and moving process to watch unfold. Something that made it even more interesting for me is that there is some truth in it. I read and reread bits and pieces—testimonials from people who are characters who might be real people and prologue which I still can’t tell if it’s Ray or Jay speaking (suspicious how close those two names are, isn’t it?) After much, much research I’ve found that about 34% of the novel is true. Which parts? Let me know what you think!

I would recommend this book to anyone—guy, girl, young, and young at heart—and have on many occasions. It’s a great summer read. Keeping checking for more Blackston and the Flabbergasted series. I hope you enjoy!