The Moving Blade
In Tokyo a thief breaks into an American’s home during his funeral, stealing some computer files and adding some netsukes and money to his pocket. A tall foreigner follows him and takes him down with, of all things, a sword. That leads to a giant conspiracy of greed in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.
Found it difficult keeping the characters straight, as I am not used to Japanese surnames. That was a problem at the beginning, where everyone’s introduced, but also at the end, when Jamie’s looking for help and everyone’s tracking the bad guy. The conspiracy was also a bit of a problem, because at times it was, oddly enough, too big to follow. Near the end it got a bit overwhelming because of the multiple storylines, but thankfully the book takes the time to wrap things up and solidify relationships without it feeling like a sequel hook.
Wish there had been more on the netsukes, as I find them much more interesting than swords. But then, they’re harder to kill with. . .
Lord of Temptation
The previous entry in this series featured a lot of Hawkridge, a titled but destitute man with more honor—or ego—than is good for him. This story is different in that it’s a regret and fix plot, where the characters have a past they must overcome.
This isn’t the best book in the series, but it is the sweetest. Of course it helps when there’s an adorable ten year old girl as a large secondary character. From a historical perspective, the balloon scene was lovely.
Lord of Vice: Rogues to Riches #6
The last Grenville finally gets her own story, a rich girl/poor boy tale where for the first half of the book he doesn’t know who she really is. It isn’t until he discovers her true identity that his ego and pride get in the way, but then she isn’t perfect either.
In a series full of incredible women, Bryony is my favorite. She was always funny and irreverent, but never ditzy. Quite the opposite, as she turns out to be a financial genius. Here she gets to be the star and takes full advantage. Even more amazing is Max’s sister, Frances. She sounds like someone who could easily fit into the 21st century.
The male protagonist, someone who’s appeared in most if not all of the previous stories, is fully accepting of such unorthodox female creatures, but still has a bug about titles and aristocracy rather than money.
My least favorite character throughout, the mother, got off way too easily, especially since she’d been through something similar with her opera-singing daughter.
But even though the problems are more creative, they’re still due to miscommunication and jumping to conclusions, as are 99.9% of the situations in this genre. I might have given this the highest score otherwise.
My two faves in this series have been the last two, which is how it should be.
Picture Perfect Cowboy
Total Noo Yawker gal goes to Kentucky to photograph a retired rodeo star for a charity calendar. Turns out they’re totally made for each other in a kinky way, if he can get out of his own head.
There’s a scene early on where the female photographer is taking nude photos of the clearly nervous cowboy, and yet their banter is hilarious.
As always in this genre, the happily ever after never happens on the first try. What makes this different from most who try and fail spectacularly is that his problem completely makes sense, and is solved just as perfectly. This might be the best romance novel I’ve ever read.
The short story at the end, which is more like a deleted scene from the novel, has a completely different vibe to it, but is equally hilarious. Good to see the nascent Dom on the other side of it, from a psychological view.
Theirs to Protect
A lawyer flirts with a couple of cops while getting coffee. She runs into them again later and things get sexy, followed by things getting serious.
Plenty of humor, which is the most welcome thing here. The plot peters out quickly, but then it is a short story, just long enough for meet cute—twice—two sex scenes, and some angst.
Exposed: The Education of Sarah Brown
An innocent librarian goes to Europe and lets herself be instantly seduced by a photographer. Then she gets caught up in a child slavery ring and things go downhill fast.
While for the most part I enjoyed the story, especially the descriptions and dialogue, it’s written too matter of fact, with little style. Choppy, without flow, making good things feel almost boring.
On to better stuff. I like how complex Sarah is, even in her abandonment issues, but I really love Elsa. The difference in her personality when she’s not being a Domme is wonderful to see. I like when the author repeats one of my fave lines: “free food always tastes better.” The police scenes were also well done.
What I didn’t like story-wise was all the coincidences. Of all the people in Berlin and Amsterdam—and even between the two cities—the same half dozen people keep running into each other. Add Barcelona and things become another level of ridiculous. Strains credulity far too much.
I knew what would happen when Tony joined in, but it was still a good way to lead to the inevitable conclusion.
The Red Ledger Part 1
English teacher in Rio is trying to enjoy Carnaval despite an overeager friend with benefits. Instead her life is forever changed by an old boyfriend, who can’t remember her and has another reason for seeking her out.
It’s a short book, which is surprising when I consider how slow it moves, how often it rehashes the same ground. He needs something from her, but it takes him far too long in his alpha haze to ask her for it. As expected, there are twists and turns in the plot so no one knows who to trust.
Always happy when my alma mater UCLA is mentioned.
Warning: this ends in a huge cliffhanger! It struck me that this was a longer book reduced to smaller portions.
Good Sex: Getting Off Without Checking Out
Considering the title, there’s very little sex, especially in the first half. Most of it feels like a meditation handbook.
Once it does get to sex. . . maybe I’m just different, but she talks about issues—for example, don’t be afraid of eye contact—that in my experience seem strange. To me they’re just natural, everyday things. Why would anyone be afraid of eye contact during sex? I just don’t get it.
The section I most enjoyed was on threesomes. It was the most honest, but it took me forever to get there.
By the end—and it took me months—it felt like only a small amount of people who start this will get through. It’s targeted very specifically: if you’re into meditation and crystals and such, this is for you. Everyone else might get something, but will have to hunt long and hard for it.
True Indie: Life and Death in Filmmaking
Don Coscarelli is a name I’ve heard of plenty, but his movies are basically a blank to me because I can’t stand the horror genre. The main reason I picked up this book was Bubba Ho-Tep, and having read Bruce Campbell’s version of events, it was fascinating to see it from the other side, so to speak.
This is one of those rare books where you feel like you’re sitting with the author, listening to his stories over lunch, much the way he describes meeting filmmakers when he was young, name-dropping Coppola, Cage, and most importantly Trumbull. It’s just fun, especially if you have any interest in how movies are made. All the more exciting when it’s low budget; gives young filmmakers hope. But at the end he cautions that things are harder than ever for indies, even though production costs have plummeted.
Lots of fun fascinating stories, but ends with the death of one of the main actors.