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I’ve read quite a lot of books this week, so I thought I might share some of my thoughts with you guys. I must warn you though, this is a long old post, so you may want to grab a coffee first. *g*

Simon Says, by Lori Foster is part of her UFC series.
Simon Evans is an ex-fighter, who thinks that he’s happy as a pig in shit, until he finds his girlfriend in bed with someone else. Like any self-respecting hero would do, he kicks the bitch to the curb, with nary a tear shed, and goes back into training.

In the meantime, Simon’s twat of a father, who walked out on him when he was a child, wants to see him, and blackmails his step-daughter, Dakota, into trying to set up the meeting.

Simon isn’t interested in seeing Daddy Dearest, but Dakota Dream is another matter entirely (No, please do not mock her name, her horrid father was called Barnaby Jailer, that’s so much worse…)

I liked Simon Says, but then again, I do like Lori Foster books (What? You guys are such book snobs!). Admittedly her heroes are usually uber alpha types, and sometimes her heroines are a tad on the Mary Sue side, but hey, everybody has at least one author they know they probably shouldn’t adore, right?

Fortunately, Dakota is far from a Mary Sue-type character, she has a slightly unsavoury past, what with running away, and being a teen bride, married to an abusive son-of-a-whore, and all. Simon was the stereo-typical Foster hero, but guess what? I happen to love her heroes, flaws and all.

Listen, I know that I said that I’d never read another Catherine Coulter hysterical again, but Rebel Bride was in the library calling out to me, so I picked it up. (Did I just hear somebody say that all my taste is in my mouth? You suck too!)

Anyway, basically, Jules (ok the dude’s name is Julien, but Jules sounds so much better dontcha think?) St Clair sees Kate Brandon and falls instantly in lust with her (crap, that’s all I remember about the plot, so I’m flicking back to see what else happens in the book).
Anyway, Kate and Julien become friends, that is until Kate’s father, who Kate hates like a fat kid hates cabbage, makes her marry him.

Kate who wants to marry for love (crap, I think I’m making half this shit up) feels betrayed by Jules, and refuses to sleep with the cad (I’m still not really sure what he did wrong) because she doesn’t want a carbon copy of her father, somebody who will tell her what to do, when to do it, and tell her to be grateful for doing it in the first place, (if this comes across as one big ‘ole ramble, that’s because it is, I read the whole book, and somehow, I’ve managed to totally forget what the hell it’s about!) erm, or something like that.

Anyway, seeing as I can’t remember the majority of the goings-ons in the book, (how shocking..) I don’t think I’ll be able to even do a simple capsule review, so let’s move on shall we? Sheesh…

The Billionaire’s Bidding, by Barbara Dunlop, was a recommendation by Keishon. If I didn’t know what this books was about, from the cover art, I think I’d probably assume it was a hysterical, Mainly because the heroine looks like a Barbara Cartland throwback, what with all the lace and ruffles. I finally managed to figure out that the heroine is supposedly wearing a wedding dress. Sheesh…

Anyway, I digress, the synopsis? Oh yeah, Emma McKinley is desperate to save her family’s company, and agrees to marry Alex Garrison, who happens to be a bazillionaire, so that the family business doesn’t go tits-up. Anyway, the marriage is in name only, but the two eventually find themselves falling in love.

I liked Emma, she may not have been the ‘pretty sister’, but she was all about designer labels man, what with a Donna Karan jacket and shopping at Saks, she was my kinda heroine. I also liked Mrs Nash, Alex’s housekeeper, she was amusing in that tight-lipped, tightly-buttoned-down matronly way that English HQN housekeepers tend to be portrayed.

Alex was good fun too, a bit too austere at times, but he didn’t suck arseholes. That’s always a good thing, right?

Anyway, glad I read the book, it was quick and easy, and didn’t cause my head to explode, what more can a reader ask for?

I also got round to reading Megan Hart’s Dirty. Do I really have to give a brief synopsis? OK,.. well, Elle Kavanagh is a girl who likes to have anonymous sex, (or at least she wants us to believe that she does), and she does, often, but apparently not in the last couple of years. That is, until she meets Daniel.

Daniel and Elle form a relationship of sorts after their one-night stand, and Daniel finds himself falling in love with Elle. Elle however isn’t about the love-stuff, and acts out in ways that would make any self-respecting male tell her to get lost. Daniel however is made of sterner stuff than that, and stays with her, despite her neurotic behaviour. There is a reason for the way that Elle is, and the reader is given clues early on, that raises disturbing suspicions.

I really liked Dirty, but I have to say, there was nothing erotic about it whatsoever. Normally, manic-depressive heroines like Elle, make me grind my teeth in annoyance, but the hints and suspicions that had been fed to me, regarding her past history, were compelling enough for me to see the book through to the end.

Daniel was totally different from Elle. He was much more well- rounded, and generally, a happier person. I liked the fact that he stayed with her, regardless of her hot and cold treatment of him.

The book was well written, but it did have an oddly, cold and detached feel to it. I think this was probably mainly due to the first person narrative.

From the sounds of it, Broken follows a similar vein. I will read it though, because Dirty was a good read for me.

Set in the 1700’s, Shana Abe’s The Smoke Thief has been recommended by all and sundry in Blogland, so of course I had to read it, going by the premise that a thousand flies around shit can’t be wrong.

Drakons are a race of beautiful people, who live in the North of England, although unseen by mere mortals. They are able to Turn to smoke, and/or shapeshift into dragons (yep, you guessed it, it’s a damned paranormal, or fantasy, or whatever.)

Clarissa Rue Hawthorne ran away from Darkfrith when she was a girl, and went to London to start a new life. Because of her unusual Drakon powers, she’s able to get into locked places, so she uses this talent to form the basis of her career, as a jewel thief.

However, the leaders of the Drakon are nervous because her activities puts the entire clan in jeopardy, if she is caught by the ordinary mortals, so Christoff, Marquess of Langford, and the Drakon leader, goes to London, in an attempt to catch this notorious Smoke Thief, before anybody else does.

Like everybody else, I really liked The Smoke Thief, it was well written, and well plotted out. Rue was a feisty heroine, who didn’t make me want to gag, and Chris wasn’t bad either, but the real beauty of The Smoke Thief was Shana Abe’s splendid way with words, and her ability to literally transport the reader to another time, and place. Whoever knew that purple prose could be so well done? It really was a fantastic book, regardless of the fact that it was a paranormal.

I’m a huge fan of Sharon Sala’s books,.. erm actually, her last few books have been pants, but she’s another one of those authors I still insist on buying regardless of how much they let me down.

If anybody’s ever read Sweet Baby , you’ll know how powerful her writing can be.

I’ve had Out of The Dark on my TBR for at least three years, and I decided to take it along to read, during my train journey to Somerset on Thursday.

Jade Cochrane is a twenty four year old woman who was kidnapped into a cult, when she was just four years old. Her life with The People of Joy was marked by abuse and suffering, that no child should ever have to endure.

During Jade’s twelfth year, things come to a head, and with the help of her best friend Raphael (also a member of the cult who was kidnapped as a child), they manage to run away, and managed to survive the next twelve years living on the streets.

Sam Cochrane had spent the last twenty years searching for his wife and child, who went missing one night, and after some friends report on a possible sighting of his daughter, he hires ex-cop, Luke Kelly, to try to find her.

Luke manages to find Jade and Raphael, and brings them both home, so that Jade can be reunited with her father. In the meantime, word of Jade’s story makes the national news, and the people who have a lot to lose, if anybody ever finds out their involvement in Jade’s dark past, start to get very nervous. Now that they know where Jade is, they know that killing her may be the only option.

Well, I have to say, I totally loved this book. It was flawed in that at times, it almost felt like I was reading two different books. The first books was gritty, deeply emotional and very disturbing, with fantastically developed characters, whereas the second book sometimes bordered on cheesy, and the lazy, disconnected dialogue irritated me beyond belief at times.

My fave character in the book was Rafe, Jade’s best friend. He’d been in love with her forever, but knew that nothing romantic could ever happen between the two of them, not with the abusive history that they shared. He spent more than half his life taking care of her, and putting her needs first, whilst woefully neglecting his own. Jade was his family, and the connection between them somehow managed to transcend the normal bonds of love.

Raphael’s story was so emotional and heart-breaking, that I couldn’t help but wonder if his character had been based on a special somebody whom Sala had known in her real life. You’d have to read the book to know what I mean by that.

The book was very moving, and there were many scenes that brought tears to my eyes, and made me totally forget that I was on public transport, where crying really isn’t appropriate.

Like I said, it wasn’t a perfect read, but I was able to look beyond the flaws, to the powerful story beneath the crap. By the way, just in case it wasn’t clear, Luke was the actual hero, not Rafe.

All in all, not a bad reading week, I guess. What are you guys reading that I should be?