Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tempt Me at Twilight

He was everything she'd sworn to avoid.

Poppy Hathaway loves her unconventional family, though she longs for normalcy. Then fate leads to a meeting with Harry Rutledge, an enigmatic hotel owner and inventor with wealth, power, and a dangerous hidden life. When their flirtation compromises her own reputation, Poppy shocks everyone by accepting his proposal—only to find that her new husband offers his passion, but not his trust.

And she was everything he needed...

Harry was willing to do anything to win Poppy—except to open his heart. All his life, he has held the world at arm’s length…but the sharp, beguiling Poppy demands to be his wife in every way that matters. Still, as desire grows between them, an enemy lurks in the shadows. Now if Harry wants to keep Poppy by his side, he must forge a true union of body and soul, once and for all...

This book positively sparkles!

This is book 3 in The Hathaways series and if you love historicals and have never read a Lisa Kleypas novel, drop everything and pick up this entire series!  The last book just came out so all are available.  NO EXCUSES!  Buy it, borrow it, steal it, but read this series!  Ok, yes, I've only just started reading book 4, but its a wonderful series, masterfully written, wonderfully witty and just utterly brilliant and I purposely waited until the last three books were out because I really wanted to read them all in one swoop.  I had discovered book 1 shortly before book 2 was released and could hardly contain myself while waiting for the rest of the series to follow!  I will review the first two books at a later date, but let me give you a little background before we dive into book 3.

If you have read Lisa Kleypas' The Wallflowers series, you may remember Cam Rohan from Devil in Winter.  (The Wallflowers series is another wonderful set of books you must read if you have never read them.)  Anyhoo... Cam gets his own story in The Hathaways book 1, Mine Till MidnightThe Hathaways are five siblings: Amelia, Winnifred, Poppy, Leo and Beatrix.  I listed them in order of their books, so you can see that Cam's story is really Amelia's too.  Win's story is told in Seduce Me at Sunrise and Tempt Me at Twilight is Poppy's story.

Poppy is unofficially, and rather discreetly, being courted by Michael Bayning but Michael is nervous and keeps putting off talking to his Viscount father about the match.  Leo Hathaway had inherited the title of Lord Ramsay through a series of unexpected events, so the Hathaway lineage isn't as grandiose as London society would prefer it to be.  And fearing his father will not approve the match, Michael wants to warm him up to the idea.

But for the past three years, the Hathaways have been staying in a suite at the Rutledge Hotel each London season.  It is here, with the help of Dodger, Beatrix's jovial ferret, that Poppy meets Harry Rutledge, the hotel's mysterious owner.  Dodger's antics add delightful charm to the scene while Poppy's intelligence and sweet, genuine persona leave Harry enchanted.  But when he intercepts a love letter between Michael and Poppy, Harry makes an underhanded play to win the woman he wants, and frankly, he could care less who he hurts along the way. 

But Harry doesn't realize that he's up against the force of the Hathaway family and they band together to protect their own.  But they also love each other unfailingly and all of this is completely new to Harry.  Looks like he's got a lot to learn if he expects to catch, and keep, a Hathaway. 

This story was wonderful.  Poppy is a pretty and intelligent girl, but her level-headedness craves normalcy after living with a family that is anything but normal.  A life with Michael seems like just the thing for the happily ever after she wants but fate throws her a curveball in the form of a man with a mysterious past and a very detached way of running a business.  Harry is your brooding alpha male, which Kleypas is just masterful at sculpting.  But Poppy is everything that Harry needs and, although he knows this, he's not quite sure what to do with her.  Given his murky past, he has a hard time sharing anything personal about himself, so everything around him is business... including his marriage to Poppy.  But Poppy wants a true marriage, a happy marriage, like the ones her two sisters have.  With a little help from the Hathaway family, Harry comes to some conclusions about the woman he's married to and learns that if he wants to keep Poppy, he has to win her heart for good.  

I love when a story sucks you in on page one and just keeps you engaged all the way to the back cover.  Personally, I think Beatrix made this already-wonderful story exceptional. Her way of thinking in relation to her love of animals added so much charm and understanding, it left me in awe. Even Poppy realizes the wisdom of the youngest sibling and it made me all the more excited about reading her story. But Leo is up next and his story picks up just a little before the end of Tempt Me at Twilight. Each Hathaway book seems to get even better than the last and that makes me so excited about reading the last two stories. 

I highly recommend this series of five books if you love historical romance, especially those set in Victorian England.  (As a side-note, these books could stand alone, but don't rob yourself of a wonderful series.  Do read these in order!)  Ms. Kleypas writes impeccably and her stories are page-turners.  The Wallflower series is also exceptional, so if you have not read those four books (plus one Christmas tome), I highly encourage your to do so.  Book 1 of The Wallflowers is Secrets of a Summer Night.  You will not be disappointed! 

My rating:  10 - Absolutely LOVED it!

The Hathaway Series in order...

     Amelia's story             Win's story                Poppy's story                Leo's story                 Beatrix's story

Thursday, September 23, 2010

One Unashamed Night

Living in a gray world of silhouette, Lord Taris Wellingham conceals his fading eyesight from society. He has long protected himself from any intimate relationships.

Plain twenty-eight-year-old Beatrice-Maude Bassingstoke does not expect to attract any man, especially not one as good-looking as her remote traveling companion.

Forced by a snowstorm to spend the night together, these two lonely people seek solace in each other's arms. The passion they unleash surprises them both. Then a new day dawns….

A good, unique story that I wish had been longer...

I liked this book.  It was a quick read, and one I will be honest and admit I was initially drawn to because of the  cover art, then I clicked to read the back cover blurb and was sold.  I'm a sucker for stories where our hero and heroine get stranded together... not sure why, but there it is.  But I will also admit that I'm not a huge fan of Harlequin books.  (Don't even get me started on how embarassed I feel just reading some of the titles at the store.  Secret Prince, Instant Daddy! anyone?  Do people really buy those??)  Occasionally I peruse the Harlequin Historicals to see if anything strikes my fancy and once in a while I will find a gem.  But while I found this story to be very gem-like, the writing was a tad weak for me.  I know, I know... Harlequins are quickie reads, but this book could have been SO good!  I wish the author had taken her time to make the entire story... bigger... bulkier.  I mean, it was written ok, but I wished there had been more depth and more detail.  Scenes that lasted 3 paragraphs, I wish had been entire chapters... that kind of thing.  Ok... griping done.  So, let's dive in, shall we? 

We start off with a carriage ride headed from Ipswitch to London where a broken axel in the middle of a snowstorm sends Taris and Beatrice-Maude (Bea as in Bea-utiful or Bea-witching) out in search of help.  Keeping his failing eyesight hidden from everyone except his close family, Taris needs Bea's help and soon they locate townsfolk in search of their carriage and they, in turn, point them to the closest shelter while continuing on to rescue the other carriage passengers.  It is here, in a barn, where they share One Unashamed Night.  And really, its not even a romantic interlude, but a consensual tryst between a man coming to terms with his failing sight and a widow who survived a grueling, passionless marriage.  Its purely an opportunity for these two souls to just lose themselves in the heat of passion.  One night only.

But that one night leaves Bea and Taris with mixed feelings when they are rescued the following morning.  Taris plays it cool when he leaves without looking back, but Bea takes it a bit hard when he says that she should not acknowledge knowing him should they ever meet in London.  Ouch!  But soon enough, Taris wishes he could take back those harsh words last spoken to Bea because soon their paths cross again... 

During the course of this book, Taris learns about the abusive marriage Bea had endured.  At the same time, it takes a bit for Bea to realize that Taris is actually not a drunk but, in fact, losing his sight.  Suddenly those horrific flashbacks of nursing her drunk-of-a-husband subside, opening her heart to the man she's feeling more for with each passing day.  A little nudging from his family encourages Taris to see what a gem he has found in Bea.  At the same time, his family is encouraging Bea to understand the man she is falling in love with and how best to communicate those feelings. But as much as Taris grows to care for Bea, he hates the thought of dealing her a hand that would require dependancy, much like the way her husband had depended on her at the end of his life.  Can Taris and Bea find a love that can put their pasts behind and pave a way for a happy future? 

I really enjoyed this story, but what I enjoyed most was the fact that the author did a primo job of describing Taris and what he was going through without making him sound weak.  Vulnerable, yes.  But never weak.  That is hard to do and it was accomplished perfectly.  We also see the author scoot around any appearance of Bea showing pity for Taris.  She's proud of the man he is and there was no "woe is me" which just made the story stronger.  There is a dash of intrigue that, while a bit lacking in drama, holds weight in the grand scheme of things.  For it is this mystery that eventually explains the broken axel on the coach and ultimately brings Taris to reveal his true feelings for Bea.  And publicly, no less.  

I loved Emerald (Emmie), who is married Taris' brother, Asher.  She was a lovely woman who befriended Bea right off the bat and wanted so much to see Bea and Taris get together.  There are two quotes that Emmie says to Bea near the end of the book that I just absolutely loved...

"May I offer you a piece of advice, Beatrice?  The Wellingham men are hard to catch but very easy to keep.  Once they love, they love well."
The simplicity of that statement was so genuine and spoke volumes. The other quote was:

"...Give him the same knowledge that I had to give to Ashe."
"The knowledge?"
"That he can't live without you."
Very well put!  Love it!  As an aspiring writer, I definitely learned a lot reading this book, and I certainly do not mean that as any insult to the author.  I loved her story but there is still a big part of me that wishes more had been elaborated and expanded upon.  I also think she got a little too excited using exclamation points, which was more of a distraction rather than a detriment to the story.  Taris and Bea's romance was one of the more unique stories I have read in a long time and for those who like series books, this is book 2 in the Wellingham trilogy.  Book 1 was High Seas to High Society which tells Asher and Emmie's story.  While their romance is referenced in One Unashamed Night, it does not leave you wondering too much about what you missed, so this book stands alone quite nicely.   There is also a short, but tender and sweet epilogue that wraps things up nicely but at the same time makes you wish there was more.  However Cristos (Taris' brother) is next to get his story but I don't know when, nor was a title or cover art available.  I'm hoping we'll get another update on all other characters soon!   

My rating:  7 - I really enjoyed it

The series in order, so far...

 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Her Ladyship's Companion

In the Scottish countryside of Selkirk, Lady Isabella Stirling resides at Bowhill Park, serving penance for a sin that nearly ruined her family. For five years she has been condemned to a loveless marriage and confined to the estate where she does little more than tend her rose garden. With her husband absent for months at a time and few visitors, Bella lives a lonely existence, denying the passions that burn within her very soul - passions that need release.

Then her worldly cousin comes for a visit and makes an outrageous suggestion: what Bella needs is a lover. A hired lover. After all, men engage in such activities; why shouldn't women?  Despite her need, Bella says no. But soon a new visitor arrives at Bowhill Park.  Mr. Gideon Rosedale is gorgeous.  And he is at her service for two weeks. Indulging in what she intends to be a harmless flirtation, Bella finds herself overcome by Gideon's intoxicating presence. And when she at last permits him to satisfy her desire, she discovers she's done the unthinkable -  the one thing forbidden:  She's fallen in love...

What a stunning debut!  I could not put this book down!

Sabrina Jeffries' quote on the back cover said it perfect... "Once you enter the sensual world of Her Ladyship's Companion, you'll never want to leave."  And she was so right.

This book is more sensual than the romances I normally read, but the back cover blurb had me intrigued because the scenario just sounded interesting.  I mean, my first thought of someone falling in love with a male prostitute is EEIIIWWWW, but reading about some of these rakes in other books... really is it much different?  Therefore, I was intrigued and wanted to see how this story would unfold.  I picked up this book, challenging the author to impress me and make me believe this story could happen.  She succeeded.

The prologue of this book starts off with the incident (referenced on the back cover) that almost brings the family to ruin in Lady Isabella's brother's eyes.  He's the Earl of Mayburn after all, so it's his job to see that scandal is kept at bay while struggling to keep the family afloat financially.  After the incident, he marries Isabella off to a Lord Stirling, then we fast-forward five years.

Lady Isabella is in a loveless marriage, living at Bowhill Park in the Scottish countryside.  She's pretty much been cast off by her husband to live a quiet life since he rarely visits and stays only a few days when he does.  This leaves Isabella with nothing better to do than tend to her roses and embroidery and enjoy the occasional letter from one of her sisters since the rest of her family has essentially written her off.  She also looks forward to visits from her cousin Esme.  But during her most recent visit, Esme senses Isabella's loneliness and suggests she consider taking a lover... someone who can lift her spirits and be at her service, whatever her desires may be.  Pondering the idea, Isabella thanks her cousin, but refuses.  But next thing she knows, she receives a letter from Esme telling her to expect a Mr. Gideon Rosedale.  Under the guise of a visiting cousin, he will serve as companion to Isabella for a fortnight.  Esme made the arrangements.  The rest is up to Isabella.

Enter Gideon Rosedale, a prostitute on an assignment. He's handsome, charming, and he's there for one purpose:  her pleasure.  Isabella is reluctant at first.  After all, she knows that Gideon has been paid to be there with her.  So at first the pleasures are simple... meals together, walks in the garden, the whole 'getting to know you' part.  But Gideon, being the skilled and rehearsed lover, doesn't reveal much about himself.  Instead, his focus is her... learning about her, learning about her desires.  And as Gideon begins to warm things up, Isabella slowly begins to give in to his attentions.   

But Gideon is intrigued by Isabella.  She's so different from his other clients and he can't quite figure her out.  Isabella is beautiful, polite... a true lady.  Why would she ever need to pay for companionship?  As the days pass, we see layers of loneliness peel back, revealing a spring in Isabella's step and a growing confidence allowing herself to enjoy the attention and pleasure that has so long been denied.  But while Gideon prides himself on keeping all his rendezvous from reaching a personal level emotionally, Isabella is proving to be a bit of a challenge.  Suddenly his practiced compliments and maneuvers are becoming more genuine... not just an act to please her and make her feel worthy.

Now, Gideon is our Beta Male here.  For me, that made him a breath of fresh air, but given the status of his position in society, it did make his character a bit weaker than the typical Beta.  I was intrigued too when I realized Isabella's two brothers possessed the same traits.  Really, no one ever stood up for Isabella until Gideon came along.  Her brothers even left her in Gideon's protection when business in London required their attention.  What the heck kind of  brother is that?  Their trust in Gideon was admirable, but given everything Isabella had endured already and what was most likely to come, it was just kinda weird that they would abandon her.   

My only other gripe, and really its a small one, was the overuse of dialogue that trailed off with a "..."  For me, this got rather tedious and made my mind wander away from the story, asking myself do these people not know how to finish a complete sentence?  It wasn't as if other characters were interrupting each other either.  They were simply statements that trailed off leaving the reader to complete them and in my opinion, there were too many of these instances.  But much was forgiven when I saw there was indeed an epilogue.  YAY!  It was short and sweet and left you wishing there was more, but definitely a nice close to this splendid story. 

Evangeline Collins has penned a fantastic debut in Her Ladyship's Companion and I highly recommed this book to Regency lovers who enjoy a bit more steam with their stories.  I eagerly await her November release of Seven Nights to Forever.  Both of Ms. Collins books appear to be stand-alone novels.

My rating:  9 - Loved it!

No series here, but these are the author's two releases...


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Scandalous

England, 1810: When Lady Gabriella Banning receives word that her half-brother, the Earl of Wickham, has died on his tea plantation in Ceylon, she faces the reality that she and her younger sisters, Claire and Elizabeth, are suddenly penniless. The family's riches will pass to the next male heir -- a distant cousin -- and the Banning sisters are doomed unless Gabby thinks fast.

Which she does. Pretending that Marcus is still alive, Gabby arranges beautiful Claire's London season. She'll keep up the pretense just long enough for Claire to marry a fabulously wealthy nobleman. But when a handsome gentleman arrives at the door and claims to be Marcus, Gabby's plan backfires. For if she exposes this mysterious stranger's deceit, she exposes her own. Bound by secrets and lies, Gabby and the roguish adventurer strike sparks off each other -- and soon London society is abuzz over the scandalous pair of "siblings" who appear to be falling in love....

With this beautifully rendered romance, bestselling author Karen Robards begins a sweeping series about three unforgettable sisters poised to take the ton by storm.

Good story but takes a bit to get going...

Scandalous is the first in the Banning Sisters Trilogy and had you asked me if I would continue reading the series before I got halfway through the book, my answer would have been no.  The first half of the book was painfully slow and so completely over-wordy, I was exhausted by chapter two and ready to skip to the end chapters just to see how it all ended.  I must quote a snippet so you have an idea of the wordiness to which I refer...

"By the time Bond Street, which both the household and the Pocket Guide assured them was the most select boulevard for the acquisition of elegant goods in town, was reached, even Gabby felt as though, if she did not take care, her jaw might hang open as Beth's had done before Claire had adjured her, in the name of saving them all from looking like country bumpkins, to please shut her mouth." (Page 109)
Holy guacamole, Batman!  Don't tell me you read that sentence and understood every ounce of it on the first take?  But take this sentence - this ONE sentence - and multiply it by about 125 or so pages worth and there you have half a book.  I had an attack of the megrims trying to decipher every minute detail that the author tried to squeeze into every sentence.  A lot of unnecessary fluff, really.  So please, let me clarify this snippet...

"The household and the Pocket Guide were assuredly correct that this was the most select boulevard for the acquisition of elegant goods in town.  By the time Bond Street was reached, even Gabby felt as though her jaw might hang open as Beth's had done before Claire had adjured her to please shut her mouth." 

Still not great, but I feel better.  Now, I must warn potential readers... if you like a lot of dialogue in your stories like I do, you may want to skip Robards and look elsewhere.  Just flipping the pages quickly with my thumb, all you see are paragraphs and paragraphs and paragraphs.  The second half of the book is better, almost as if there was an editor change halfway through, because the paragraphs got less wordy, less over-explanatory, and thankfully, more dialogue seemed to emerge. 

Now, back to the story. The blurb at the top of this posting (from the back cover) really tells you a lot and sets things in motion.  Obviously, a brother and sister falling in love would be the Scandalous part, but somehow, someway, you know that they'll get a happily ever after in the end. All the meat in the middle was enjoyable enough but the ending didn't suprise me in the least.  Given the situation, really, what were the alternatives? 

Gabriella was a snooty, fiesty, bitchy sort of high-bred spinster - really, a mother hen protecting her chicks.  And just when I would start warming up to her, she'd get all bitchy, snooty and fiesty again and I'd be right back where I was... not really caring so much.  (Notice I rearranged the adjectives there?)  "Marcus" was clearly up to something which we don't fully know about til the very end.  Honestly, I liked "Marcus" quite a lot because he just played off of Gabby at every turn, frustrating the heck out of her.  But as tender and sweet as their love scene was, it was almost a wonder that they managed to fall in love at all.  "Marcus" must be a glutton for punishment because that would be one fiery relationship in the long-term... and he knew it!  I do give him a box of kudos, though, for seeing Gabby as the strong, courageous female that she was.  Her facade was quite literally like iron, even though there was a girl underneath that just needed a pair of stong arms to hold her and make her smile more often.  Gabriella and "Marcus" quarrel a lot, so I kinda had a hard time seeing how strife, manipulation and resentment could turn in to love as easily as it appeared to.  I've seen stories where it worked.  This one didn't quite convince me.

Now, I admit that I've been a bit hard on this story, and as I mentioned above, had I not made it at least halfway through, I would not be continuing the series.  But I did make it halfway, and all the way to the end.  And I'm glad I did.  And yes, the other trilogy books are on my paperbackswap.com list.  I'm crossing my fingers that the writing won't be so cumbersome and I'm curious to see how Claire and Beth weather the aftermath of "Marcus" and Gabby's scandal.  I would hope that some of the unanswered questions from this book would be explained as well.  So, all said and done, I think had the first half of book been heavily edited (in chunks) it would have been a lot more of a pleasurable read.  The actual meat of the story was still good but be prepared for a lot of longwindedness from the author and very, very strong-willed characters.  Irresistable is the next book in this series, which tells Claire's story.  Shameless is Beth's story.

My rating:  5 - I liked most of the book

The Banning Sisters Trilogy in order...

Monday, September 6, 2010

All He Desires

Far from home and her noble relatives, Miss Caroline Huntington has been injured in a fall from her horse. Called to her side, Alex Trentham knows he must assist her, though he has not practiced as a physician for a long while. Just to see so lovely a woman in a state of undress is a hard test of his self-control. Caroline is all that is warm and feminine, beautiful and pure. Brave to a fault, she does not flinch under his hands, and soon she is on the mend. To hide his feelings becomes impossible and Alex cannot. Her radiant innocence is dangerous to a worldly man. . .and she seems achingly eager to experience all the pleasure he could show her. . .

A steamy Victorian adventure that takes you to the Mediterranean...

All He Desires was written by husband/wife team Anthea and Lawson.  I just wanted to clarify that so when I reference the authors, you will understand to whom I'm referring.  This is the first book I have read by this writing team, and it appears that All He Desires is related to their debut novel, Passionate, although I did not know this until I was introduced to the brother of the heroine of this book and realized his story had already taken place.  I do wish that authors (in general) would show the book or series connections on their websites because when I checked before reading this book, it was not evident.  Oh well.

Anyhoo, let's dive into All He Desires.  This book is set in Victorian England and Crete, giving us a beautiful taste of the Mediterranean.  It is here where we meet Miss Caroline Huntington who has just fallen off her horse and found herself alone and injured.  When her friends locate her, they take her to fellow Englishman, Alex Trentham, a former physician assisting with a local archaeological dig.  Insistent he cannot be of any help, he is persuaded and agrees with much reluctance to help this one time. 

As the story continues, we learn that Caroline is en route to Malta to help her friend, Maggie Farnsworth, establish an orphanage.  Together they had already founded a charity boarding school for girls, a project with future plans to add a dispensary.  But when Caroline and Alex start spending more and more time together, what will happen when Caroline is recovered enough to travel and eventually leave Crete? 

Meanwhile in London, Caroline's cousin, Reginald, is in a tizzy because his father wants to make Caroline his adopted daughter.  Although a noble and loving move by his father, Reggie is seething because he will lose a portion of his inheritance to his adopted sister.  So, when money talks, it speaks volumes as the beginnings of a plot unfold.  But back at the ranch, Caroline receives word that the funding for the dispensary project has been pulled by the Ladies Auxiliary leaving her with a big question... who will support her cause financially?

This story has a lot going on and moves at a pretty good clip.  But I confess, it did strike me a bit odd in places.  Firstly, the chaperone... or rather, lack thereof.  There were, in fact, two gentlemen that Caroline spent a large amount of time with (*gasp*) unchaperoned.  For the time period, it would have been scandalous especially for a girl of her age and relations, but the authors seemed to have ignored this facet of social custom.  Obviously this little detail would have hampered the story in many ways had the custom been properly addressed but unfortunately, this is sure to be a gripe to those who read a lot of historical romance and know how socially unacceptable these meetings and outings would have been. 

Secondly, the authors and editor did not review the rules of correct form of address for an Earl, which may not vex the casual reader.  But for a published piece of work, a little extra time to be sure people were addressed and introduced by their correct names and titles would have been points in their favor.  For instance, Caroline's Uncle Denby is referred to as Lord Denby, but he was the Earl of Twickenham, and should have formally been referred to as such or as Lord Twickenham.  For the avid historical reader, it's these little details that become a pebble in one's shoe. 

Story-wise, there was a lot crammed into this book, but I liked the flow and all the different things that happened.  I also liked the parts with Viscount Keefe.  The genuineness he portrayed to Caroline and her charities really seemed like the real deal, even though we know the whole time that they are not.  But one could hope and almost feel sorry for the guy.  I would have liked to have seen him come clean and maybe sweep up Pen, Caroline's sweet companion, courtesy of Dr. Trentham. Pen's plight and abandonment struck a chord with Caroline's charities, but Caroline took her under her wing and empowered her with the opportunity to learn the ropes and as she worked alongside, we got to see her strengthen and blossom over the course of the book. I would expect to see Pen as the focus of the authors' next offering. 

But another thing that struck me odd in this story were the initial suspicians Alex had about Mr. Simms.  Those feelings felt forced and unsupported to me, even though we, the reader, meet Mr. Simms in London and learn early on that he is an unsavory character.  As far as Alex and the others in Crete knew, Mr. Simms has done nothing wrong or out of the ordinary to bring attention to himself, yet everyone was suspicious of him.  I remember thinking "you guys don't even know him.  Leave the poor guy alone to his sportfishing," but of course this was the authors' way of  setting up the potential threat of an enemy. 

In retrospect, it almost seems like Caroline is just bad luck all the way around.  I certainly won't spoil all the events of the story by drawing out a timeline, but really, when you think back after you've finished the book and look at everything the girl has gone through... all I can say is SHEESH!  There's just a lot that happens in this story, taking place within a span of seven months.  And Caroline is no ditzy klutz (thank goodness).  She's a smart and spunky girl with a real heart for her charity work who happens to fall in love with a man with a tortured soul.  And speaking of Alex, he was a handsome, intelligent, brooding man with a troubled past, but it takes a while before he 'fesses up to exactly what has driven him away from his home in England to live permanently in Crete.  And though I could sympathize with the event that made him flee the country, I didn't quite feel it was enough to keep him away from the woman he obviously had grown to care about.  Not once, but TWICE I wanted to just pick him up by his collar and shake him, the devil. 

All in all, this was a pleasant read that rated pretty high on the sensual meter.  I didn't feel the love scenes to be too over the top, but nicely weaved into the natural course of the story.  I think my only eye-rolls were related to the plethora of events that seemed to follow Caroline like a proverbial black cloud at nearly every turn. The last several chapters were my favorite... explaining why would reveal too much, but I was very pleased with the ending and didn't feel like there was a mad dash to wrap things up.  The climax of the story hit around chapter 22, leaving seven chapters to ease things down, get more things explained and wrap it up with a very nice happily ever after.  No complaints there!  I'll be keeping an eye out for a next book... at the moment, the authors' website does not indicate any future releases.

My rating:  6 - It was a pleasant read

The books in this un-named series (so far?)...