Short & Sweet Sundays: Misfortune Cookie by Michele Gorman

In honor of Sunday – a day I reserve for reading and lollygagging – I bring you a short and sweet book review! 

The gist (from the publisher): Would you move 6,000 miles to be with the love of your life? Hannah did. Unfortunately her plan isn’t going terribly well. What was supposed to be a move to Hong Kong to start a wonderful new life with Sam is turning into a move to Hong Kong to spend occasional weekends with Sam, when he can get away from an unanticipated work assignment on the opposite side of the South China Sea. Still, she’s optimistic, if woefully unprepared for the intricacies of Hong Kong. Stumbling through the alien city, which she loves, she starts to build a life for herself. Things definitely look up when she finds a great boss to work for, and her best friend Stacy moves to the city too. But alarm bells ring as Sam seems to be getting a bit too cozy with his boss. And when things start going wrong at work, Hannah can’t help but wonder if she’s made the biggest mistake of her life.

Why it’s unique: It’s set in Hong Kong! Though I have zero interest in traveling to a Asia, it’s fun partaking in Hannah’s many culture-shock experiences. Come to think of it, setting a story in a foreign land can be a bit of a risk. If readers aren’t traveling vicariously through the author’s prose, they’re going to feel let down. Well, Michele certainly didn’t fall short in this department! Here’s a little taste of her whimsical descriptions of Hong Kong’s exotic cityscape:

Hundreds of skyscrapers pulse and glow in the lilac twilight, their stairwell lights running up them like excavated dinosaurs’ spines. The dark pool of the harbor beyond the building reflects back at us, deceptively calm. And Kowloon blankets the far shore, stretching into the distance. I don’t’ think I’ll ever get used to these views, or take them for granted. I hope not.

What surprised me: Despite the fact that Hannah moved across oceans to follow a man, the book has some surprising girl power moments. Just when I thought I made up my mind about the flighty protagonist, she’d totally redeem herself by doing something ballsy. I won’t give too much away, but I will say that I was very pleased with her decisions. You go girl!

What irked me:  Hannah is frustrating. She’s a little too ditzy in a wide-eyed, bumbling Bridget Jones kind of way. She’s the kind of girl who agonizes incessantly about her boyfriend when she should be enjoying a night out with the girls. I was especially put off when she left her BFF all alone on her first night in Hong Kong so she could squeeze in another date with her boyfriend. Lame!

Will I read another book by this author? Well after that puzzling ending, I kind of have to! Seems like Hannah’s journey of self-discovery has only begun – and I can’t wait to see where she’ll end up next! The author sure knows how to leave her readers guessing.

This book is best paired with: A silky kimono robe and a frilly pink cosmo.

Overall: This is a fun, fast read that is sure to entertain fans of Sophie Kinsella (Shopaholic series) and Helen Fielding (Bridget Jone’s Diary). Hannah’s hilarious inner dialogue and many awkward moments had me giggling throughout the book. If you’re looking for something light and amusing, check this one out.

Short & Sweet Sundays: Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes

In honor of Sunday – a day I reserve for reading and lollygagging – I bring you a short and sweet book review! 

The gist: Amanda Blick leads a charmed life. She’s got a gorgeous French chef husband, a perfect little house in a high-class neighborhood, and a cute little rosy- cheeked boy.  But underneath the glossy surface, trouble is a’ brewing. Her husband seems to be working more late nights at the restaurant, and the female kitchen help can’t seem to look her in the eyes. Hmm….something smells fishy around here and I don’t’ think it’s the catch of the day!

It all comes to a head when she finds her husband and his sous chef in a rather…shall we say compromising position in the kitchen. Rather than sticking around to let him weasel his way back into her heart, she takes her rich mom up on her offer to spend the summer at the deliciously decadent St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort.

Distraught over her husband’s betrayal, not even the plentiful umbrella drinks and cute cabana boys can put her mind at ease. That is until she bumps into Edward Jonas, a restaurateur with kind eyes and a sexy smile. Although her instincts tell her to steer clear of handsome culinary artists, there’s something about this low key silver fox that sets her heart aflutter! Is it wise to take a chance on another man before signing the divorce papers? Why does she still lust after her philandering husband? And most importantly – why must she continue to put her life on hold in the name of love?  

Why I chose this book: It’s summertime, so what could be better than soaking up the rays on my hot-pink beach towel with a romantic beach read?  I really enjoyed living vicariously in the St. Regis presidential suite, drinking the fruity cocktails, digging my toes in the soft sand, and riding along the Pacific Coast Highway in a sweet Bentley!

What I liked most: The ending. I was preparing myself for a predictable conclusion, but the author threw a major curve ball. Amanda’s got another big journey ahead of her – and I’m hoping there’s going to be a sequel!

Why it’s unique:  Come to think of it, most of the books I read don’t involve obscenely rich protagonists. Mostly, they’re career girls, struggling journalists and amateur sleuths.  So this book was kind of a departure from the norm.  Some may say that it’s too vapid and decadent, but I say lighten up people!  I enjoyed reading about Amanda’s fairytale life with two glamorous parents in a posh San Francisco mansion. I certainly am not a “lifestyle of the rich and famous” kind of girl, but I do think it’s amusing to read about that world.  

What irked me: I needed more action. It seemed that fine dining and cocktail hours dominated Amanda’s summertime activities. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading about cozy restaurant scenes, but she needed to get out and have some fun! I want to immerse myself in the icy Pacific Ocean, ride with the dolphins, and zip over the waves in a jet ski! It’s a fabulous beach resort, so why not take advantage of all the amenities?  

This book is best paired with: A Bob Marley playlist, a pina colada and a comfy deck chair.

Would I read another book by this author? Most definitely! She certainly has a knack for character development and sharp dialogue.

If you like this book, you’ll also enjoy titles by: Jane Green, Kristin Hannah, Susan Mallory and Beatriz Williams.

My Book Boyfriend (No. 6) Edward Jonas from Monarch Beach

Nothing says summer like a day at the beach (or Texas watering hole) with a cooler full of Shiner and a fun and fluffy romance novel!  I couldn’t have picked a better book than Monarch Beach to get me in the mood for some serious sun-worshipping fun!

 The tranquil Pacific coast, the Bentley car service, the sexy beachside restaurateur – everything about this book took me away to the deliciously decadent St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort. But not everything is champagne and roses for the obscenely affluent Amanda Blick. Her soujurn at the St. Regis is more of a recovery effort than a blissful summer vacay. After finding her French husband doing the do with his sous chef, she decides to spend her summer licking her wounds at one of Southern California’s most posh beach resorts.

Distraught over her husband’s betrayal, not even the plentiful umbrella drinks and cute cabana boys can put her mind at ease. That is until she bumps into Edward Jonas, a silver fox who just so happens to own a beachside restaurant. What is it with this woman and foodies? I’ve got to hand it to her, a man who knows his way in a kitchen is worth keeping! If my husband wasn’t a culinary artist, I’d probably be living off of Spaghettios and Vienna sausages.

But I digress, here is my Book Boyfriend: Edward Jonas. This is a fun little meme created by Missie over at the Unread Reader. Hop on over to her blog to see what it’s all about.

Description: He may be a little over a decade older than our 30-something protagonist, but he’s got it going on with his crinkly eyes, steel-gray hair and thick jaw. Plus he wears Tommy Bahama shirts. How cute is that?!?

Since he’s super sexy and a little on the older side, how could I not picture George Clooney? Boy did it rev my engine when I pictured Hollywood’s favorite silver fox in this steamy scene:

I sat up naked, and unwrapped the box. Inside was a black velvet jewelry box. I snapped it open.

“Edward!” Inside the box were the monarch butterfly earrings we had seen at the hotel gift shop.

“Remember when we met, at the monarch butterfly release?”

Of course. You gave me nutrition tips,” I laughed.

“And Max came up and asked you to make a wish?”

“Yes,” I said, and nodded.

“I made a wish, too: that I would get to know you better.”

“Oh,” I said.

“And that wish is starting to come true.” He kissed me slowly, on the lips.”

Oh swoon! How I love post-coital bliss, especially when sparkly jewelry is involved! What do you think? Is George Clooney a good match? Who’s your book boyfriend?

True Love Way by Nancy Scrofano

People who know me well often poke fun at my love for old-school TV shows.  It’s always very awkward at social gatherings when people start talking about shows like Glee or Dancing with the Stars. When the conversation turns to me, I just give them a blank stare and say, “How about that Jessica Fletcher? Did you see her solve the case of the poisoned clam chowder?”  Thanks to my nifty DVR (best invention next to the Ford Taurus!) I no longer have to join the masses in TV Land.  Give me a recycled episode of Murder She Wrote over a dumpy reality show any day! I still don’t know who the Kardashians are and what they’re all about – and I intend to keep it that way!

But I digress…the reason for this rant is that Marlo in True Love Way is a girl after my own heart.  She may be young and hip, but she spends her free time watching I Love Lucy and Shirley Temple movies with her spunky great aunt. She even dyed her hair red to channel her inner Lucile Ball! This girl just loves, loves, loves all things retro. One thing she doesn’t love, however, is change. Who can blame her? Change is scary, especially for those of us who live in our own little nostalgic worlds.

After her ex-boyfriend, Josh, summons her back to Napa, her cushy little life goes into a tailspin.  Her best friend, Nick, isn’t all to gung-ho about her rushing back to the jerk who kicked her to the curb and scurried off to Paris. But despite Nick’s warnings, she’s desperate to get some answers…and possibly rekindle the flame.

Why did he cut and run right when their romance was blossoming? And why did he go 12 long years without calling or writing?  To quote the great Ricky Ricardo, he’s got some splaining to do!

Unwilling to let Marlo roadtrip it alone in her rickety vintage car, Nick decides to tag along. claiming that he needs to visit his sister Savannah. What could be more fun than an impromptu reunion with a bunch of old high school chums in California’s gorgeous wine country? Oh, you’d be surprised.

As soon as they set foot in Napa, things get screwy real fast. Savannah (Marlo’s other BFF) gets weird when Josh enters the picture. They used to be so close back in high school, especially when Marlo helped her raise her child right after graduation. But now it seems as though she’s holding something back…something that could potentially destroy their friendship.

Things go from bad to worse when Josh goes above and beyond to win Marlo’s heart. From balloon rides to romantic picnics to candlelit dinners, he’s pulling out all the stops to get her back. According to the butterflies in her stomach, the chemistry is alive and well. But a niggling feeling in her gut tells her to back off.

And just to make life even more complicated, Nick seems to have a special interest in the leggy, French girl who works behind the counter at his sister’s bakery. Why does he always seem to distract himself with uninteresting women with big boobs and long legs? And more importantly – why do his meaningless flings get under Marlo’s skin?

I’ll stop right here before I give anything away! You’ll have to read the book to find out what’s going on with these crazy kids. Overall, this book is a fun little beach read that will take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotional turmoil. The romance is entertaining, but what really makes the book special is Marlo. Considering our society’s obsession with all things digital, it’s refreshing to come across a character who lives in her own whimsical world of retro pop culture.

My only hangup is that the author didn’t take advantage of Napa’s gorgeous setting. I’ve never been there, but I would love to know what it’s like to soak in the breathtaking hills and valleys, to smell the aroma of vino at a classy winery, to explore a wine cellar lined with oak barrels. Although she touched on some of Napa’s scenic splendor, I would have liked more atmosphere and little less dialogue.

Aside from that minor gripe, True Love Way is definitely worth reading. Nancy Scrofano certainly has some writing chops, and I’m interested to see what she’ll come up with next!  Fans of Emily Giffin and Jane Green are sure to enjoy this charming story about a quirky woman reaching a crossroads in life.

Short & Sweet Sunday: Overseas by Beatriz Williams

 In honor of Sunday – a day I reserve for reading and lollygagging – I bring you a short and sweet book review!

The gist: Meet Kate Wilson, an overworked, hyper-ambitious financial analyst. Caught up in a fast-paced, high-stress New York City lifestyle, she’s too immersed in her thankless job than to even consider falling in love. That is until she crosses paths with Manhattan’s most scrumdiddlyumptious British billionaire at a business meeting. Coveted by women and feared by Wall Street moguls, Julian Laurence embodies the trifecta of hotness: Power, smoldering good looks, and mystique. There’s something very odd about this golden haired It Boy. Not only does he avoid the vapid and soulless Manhattan party scene, he also seems to be from another time and place. He could have any woman in the world, but for some inexplicable reason he sets his sights on Kate. What is it about the shy bookish number-cruncher that has him so enamored?  Kate finds herself equally attracted and mystified by this curiously old-fashioned hunk of a man. What’s the deal with their instant attraction? And why does it seem as though they’ve met before? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

What I liked: The time travel. Despite its size, the book is a super-fast read. I was kept guessing about the whole time-space-continuum thing until the very last few pages.  The author expertly weaved together two narratives: one of Kate’s current situation in New York; the other of her time traveling adventures in World War I-era  France, where Julian serves as a dedicated officer in the British Army. As the story progressed, Kate’s mission to warn Julian about his impending death gets more desperate.  If he doesn’t heed her warning, she will be forced to roam the earth lost and alone.  

What irked me: I love a strong, fearless female protagonist just as much as the next girl, but Kate could have been a little bit more flexible with the whole money situation.  I get that she doesn’t want to be showered with material things, but she could have at least let him help her with her legal defense when her firm accused her of insider trading.  If I had a billionaire boyfriend, I sure would enjoy the safety net of all his riches in a crisis situation.  

This book is best read: On an airplane. I devoured this  400 + page tome while flying to and from Austin and California. The stern flight attendants, crappy watered down cokes and ear-splitting wailing babies didn’t faze me at all while I whizzed through the pages.

Favorite quote:  “There was really nothing like retail therapy for a girl with a train wrecked career and a near-paralytic case of sexual frustration.”

Casting call: If this book ever graced the silver screen, I could totally see the luscious Jude Law playing Julian. With his dark, golden hair and piercing eyes, he would be a perfect fit! Oh how I would love to hear those sweet nothings coming from his lips! As for Kate, I pictured Michelle Morgan, who plays Lou Flemming on Heartland. Her alabaster skin, long legs and raven locks perfectly match Kate’s classic good looks. Read my Book Boyfriend post for more Jude Law/Julian Laurence yumminess.

Overall:  Typically I like books in which romance is a secondary storyline. The swoony dialogue in Harlequin romances can be a little much. But this book is an exception! All of the plot threads – the time travel, the mystery, the paranormal romance – had me under a spell.  I was so lost in this book, I almost forgot to catch my connecting flight to Dallas! Or perhaps that was my subconscious telling me to not set foot in another busy, confusing airport. Either way, this book is worth reading!  Even though this is her debut novel, Beatriz Williams writes like a seasoned pro. Her lyrical prose and whimsical dialogue rivals that of Deborah Harkness (A Discovery of Witches) and Elizabeth Kostova (The Historian).

My Book Boyfriend (#5) Julian Laurence from Overseas

It’s been a tough month, so I’m going to cheer myself up with a fun little Book Boyfriend blurb. Pretty boys do have a way of perking me right up! That’s why I love reading romance novels during my blue spells. It’s hard to stay bummed when I’m picturing my celebrity crush du jour in the throws of passion.

For my fifth installment of the My Book Boyfriend meme, I bring you Julian Laurence from Overseas.

Description:  Julian is an extremely sexy, yet oddly old-fashioned British billionaire. With his tall, lean physique, broad shoulders, dark golden hair and soulful eyes, he brings women to their knees with just a twitch of a smile. Although he’s richer than Donald Trump, he has no interest in flashy cars or private jets. His passions are classical music, his grand piano, leather-bound books, and of course, his lady love Kate Wilson.

When Julian first entered the scene, I immediately thought of (*sigh*) the extremely hot, aristocratic Jude Law. Isn’t he a perfect fit?

Here are some quotes to send your hearts a flutter:

“Darling, when I tell you I love you, it means this: That I am your servant. That these two hands” – he held them up before me and then cupped my face – “labor for you alone. That you have a demand on me, an eternal one, which has everything to do with the incalculable favor, the immeasurable honor, you granted me last night, in taking me into your heart and your bed.”

“Sweetheart, I love you. Of course I do. I love every priceless inch of you. I love you idolatrously, for a thousand reasons, and I shall never stop. Hush,” he said, laying his finger on my lips again, “you don’t need to say anything. I’m a patient man. Just be easy. Know that it’s there, that you needn’t doubt me on this, at least.”

“Well, as they say,” he said, nibbling at my earlobe, slipping down to kiss the vale behind it, “faint heart never won fair lady.”

I lifted my hand to the back of his head. “I’m going…to find out.”

“Yes, I expect you shall. What fragrant skin you have, darling; how convenient that the woman one loves should turn out to be so perfectly…” He paused to kiss the curve of my jaw.

Oh swoon! Time for a Jude Law fix. I think I’m going to bump “The Holiday” up to the top of my Netflix queue.

My Book Boyfriend is a weekly meme created by Missie over at the Unread Reader that allows giggly book bloggers such as myself to match their literary crushes with a hot celebrities.

Short & Sweet Sunday Review: The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

 In honor of Sunday – a day I reserve for reading and lollygagging – I bring you a short and sweet book review! 

The gist: Meet Tess Collins, a young housemaid who dreams of becoming a dressmaker. When she finds out about the Titanic‘s upcoming voyage to America, she scurries to the docks and pleads with first-class passengers to hire her on the spot. As luck would have it, she accidently meets England’s most famous fashion designer, Lady Lucile Duff Gordon, who just happens to be looking for a good personal maid. Bemused by the poor girls’ desperation, she takes her under her wing. Four days after setting sail, the  ship takes a nosedive and Tessa mercifully scores a seat – right next to the venerable Unsinkable Molly Brown – in one of the few lifeboats.

Shortly after the ship plummets to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, rumors about the survivors and the half-empty lifeboats run rampant in the news. And when the New York Times catches on to Lady Duff Gordon’s cowardly actions, she soon becomes the target of public scorn. When Lady Duff’s stories don’t add up, Tess must make some tough decisions. Should she ignore the accusations against her boss and continue moving up the ladder to stardom? Or should she take the moral high ground and walk out on the woman who turned her back on a sea of drowning souls? 

Why I picked it up: Confession – I’m a closet hopeless romantic. Though I scoff at my friends who cry over their popcorn during cinematic love scenes, I’m not as cynical as I appear to be. When I slip out to “go to the bathroom,” I’m actually sobbing into my hanky and shaking off the warm fuzzies. Since these poor saps aren’t big readers (except my BFF who laughs along with me during the most heart-wrenching love scenes) my secret is safe! That said, you can imagine how much I LOVE The Titanic, especially the car scene…oh Leo how I love thee. Oops, where was I? Oh yes…so when I read the dustcover, I hoped this could be a love affair to rival that of Jack and Rose. Plus I love late-Edwardian era fashions, so how could I go wrong?

What I liked:  Surprisingly, I found myself somewhat interested in the post-sinking events– from the Senate hearings to the investigative journalism to the shakedown of blackmailing bullies.  I especially enjoyed watching the high and mighty Lady Duff get roasted by the press. One of the many rich first-class passengers who commandeered the lifeboats, this wretched woman and her equally repugnant husband refused to make room for drowning victims on their half-empty lifeboat. Although the author tried to paint a softer side to this character, I couldn’t let my heart bleed over her dwindling business and sad backstory.

What irked me: The main character.  Sorry Kate Alcott fans, but the leading lady is BORING! No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t connect with her. I admire her drive to become the next Coco Chanel, but other than that, she lacked personality. I need my main characters to not only be strong and brave, but also quirky and fun. Yes, toward the end Tessa grew a pair, but until the last few chapters, she just couldn’t make up her mind about anything and just seemed to go with the flow. More than anything I wanted to see her jump on a white horse and join the women’s suffrage movement, which she casually observed throughout the book, but she seemed to be too wrapped up in herself to do anything interesting.

The romance:  While aboard the doomed vessel, Tessa crosses paths with two love interests: A sweet-natured sailor with a crooked smile and a talent for wood witling, and a gallant Chicago tycoon. If she chooses the rich guy, she’ll be set for life. But if she falls for the penniless “village boy,” she might as well kiss her future as the next hotshot dressmaker goodbye. If you’re familiar with this setup, I’m sure it’ll come to no surprise which one she’ll choose. To be honest, if you want a good Titanic romance, go watch James Cameron’s masterpiece. Yes, there is some romance in this book, but Tessa doesn’t really get on the ball until the very end.

This book is best pared with: A piping-hot mug of cinnamon spice tea and a dainty high tea stand filled with colorful petit fours.

Overall assessment: History buffs are sure to be enthralled by the author’s well-researched depictions of the post-Titanic sinking aftermath. Romance fans, however, are likely to be rather disappointed by the conventional love story. I do have to hand it to the author for planting some deep thoughts in my head.  This book will really make you think about human instincts, and how our actions during a fight-or-flight situation can define who we are and what we stand for. If we make the wrong life-altering decision under duress, can we learn to live with ourselves?

Review: Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate, No. 1)

I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of sci-fi, dystopian fantasy or anything involving star-crossed fairies. When I first read the dustcover of Soulless, I was immediately turned off by the whole steampunk thing. But it was on sale for $5, so why not give it a try?  And wouldn’t you know, I was immediately sucked into Alexia Trabotti’s world of vampires, werewolves, dirigibles and mad scientists!

Although fanged and furry creatures of the night coexist with humans in this odd realm of Victorian London, many people (scientists especially) are weary of their supernatural powers. That’s why Alexia must keep her soullessness under wraps. Known as a “preternatural,” she has the unique ability to rid a supernatural being of its powers with just one touch. It’s bad enough she’s a spinster with an unsightly Mediterranean complexion, let alone a lack of human essence! Plus her wisecracking comments are typically frowned upon in polite London society.

The story begins when Alexia accidentally kills a rogue vampire with her trusty brass parasol at the Queen’s ball. When Lord Maccon, a gorgeous Scottish alpha werewolf, is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate, he comes up with more questions than answers. What’s behind the random vampire attacks? Why are vampires disappearing from their hives? All signs point to Alexia, but Lord Maccon is convinced of her innocence and soon grows a fondness for her ballsy attitude and curvaceous physique.

There are many things I love about this book – whip-smart dialogue, screwball comedy,  smoking-hot make out sessions, to name a few. But I really got a kick out of the secondary characters, especially Alexia’s best friend, Ivy, who has a huge collection of hideous hats. Alexia’s zingers about her friend’s ridiculous fashion statements had me laughing out loud! I also love, love, love her vampire sidekick Lord Akeldama. He’s your token gay best friend with impeccable fashion taste and snarky one-liners. The intoxicatingly witty love-hate banter between Alexia and Lord Maccon is also very entertaining. Gail Carriger has clearly mastered the art of dialogue and character development. I can’t wait to delve into the next book to see what’s in store for Alexia and Lord Maccon as their relationship develops!

So my fellow readers, the moral of this story is to try out a new genre! Who knows, you might be missing out on a real treat. After reading the Hunger Games in one sitting, I’m kicking myself for never dabbling into the realm of dystopian fantasy. That review is coming soon!

Short & Sweet Sundays: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

  In honor of Sunday – a day I reserve for reading and lollygagging – I bring you a short and sweet book review! For more of my “Short & Sweet” reviews, go here. 

The gist: The story centers around Diana Bishop, a history professor and powerful witch who lives in denial of her heritage. While conducting research in Oxford’s world-famous Bodleian Library, she inadvertently calls up “Ashmole 782,” a manuscript believed to contain the secrets of all creation. Coveted for centuries by the underworld of witches, demons and vampires, the secrets within the book could do some serious damage. Soon the supernatural baddies come out of the woodwork to confiscate the book.

Enter Mathew Clairmont, a blood-sucking geneticist and all-round hottie (think Edward Cullen with a Ph.D.). Although witches and vampires are not allowed to comingle, he finds himself bewitched by Diana’s beauty and charms. Unable to resist her tantalizing scent (hmm… sounds like another vampire I know), he swoops in to save her from the evildoers. Their alliance violates an ancient contract, but they forge onward in the hopes of being the first to discover the secrets contained in Ashmole 782.

Thoughts on character development: No matter how hard I tried to like Diana, I just couldn’t. I was turned off from the get-go when she smugly pronounced, “What got me away from Madison was my intellect.” Ick! There’s nothing I loathe more than an intellectual snob! And much like Bella (yep, I went there!) she’s just an empty vessel without the love of her vampire soul mate. The inner feminist in me just wants to scream, “Come on girl, get a life and stop blithering about your undying love!” She’s completely wrapped up in herself and has no interesting quirks, friends or interests – outside of rowing and alchemy research of course.

As for Mathew, he’s the textbook definition of a Harlequin romance hero: overly sensitive, attentive and always ready to put his life at risk to save his ladylove. Basically, he’s a woman’s definition of the perfect man. This is what really irks me about romance novels! Call me crazy, but I like a guy with some typical man-flaws like fear of commitment or belching in public. Take Damon from “The Vampire Diaries” for example. He’s a typical male with a serious attitude problem, but a total softy on the inside. When Elena brings out his inner teddy bear, the romantic tension really sizzles! I’m sorry, but how many of you really got excited about the sweet and loving Stefan? BORING!

In the next book, which involves Mathew and Diana’s first foray into time travel, I hope to see more of Baldwin, Mathew’s bad-boy brother. He’s hot, he’s angry, and he has some serious bloodlust issues, especially for Diana’s magical witch blood. I know love triangles are getting clichéd, but I would really love to see some romance brewing between these two magical creatures!

What I liked: I have to hand it to the author, she has a knack for creating spooky atmosphere. If your pulse flutters at the thought of creepy old libraries, French castles and descents into dark forests by moonlight, you’ll probably enjoy this book. Despite her flaws, which I’m sure she’ll smooth out in her next installment, the author is a truly gifted writer.

What irked me: With proper editing, this mammoth book could have been easily condensed into 300 pages or less. The drawn-out scenes of Diane drinking tea, thinking about drinking tea, rowing down the river and doing yoga really bogged down the story. Oh and don’t even get me started on the excruciatingly long descriptions of DNA analysis – I get it, Deborah, you’re super smart!

Most memorable scene: I hate to sound like such a snoot, but OMG this book could have done without the vampire/witch/demon yoga sessions. I get that the author is a big fan of the new agey healing powers of yoga, but come on! I couldn’t keep a straight face when she so eloquently described the supernatural beings harmoniously practicing yoga in Mathew’s opulent mansion. If this book hit the big screen, I can already see SNL and Jay Leno mocking this ludicrous scene!

My response to the critics: Most of the reviewers claim this first-time novelist blatantly stole from Stephanie Meyer’s and JK Rowling’s playbooks. But is that such a bad thing? Readers LOVE the mystery of Harry Potter’s past, and the star-crossed-lover drama between Edward and Bella. So why not borrow and build upon these intriguing storylines? And might I add that fans of that old TV series “Roswell” can attest to the fact that Stephanie Meyer used that show as a template for her Twilight series.

Will I read the next two installments in this trilogy? Eh…probably. All things considered, this is a solid paranormal thriller. Yes, it dragged quite a bit, but I feel that the story just started to cook with some grease right at the very end. If I want to get fancy with analogies, I’d say this book is the literary equivalent of a Dave Mathews CD. It’s good quality stuff, but I’m not counting down the days until the next album drops. Sure, I own a Dave Mathews CD, but I don’t have it stored in my favorite playlist – and I certainly don’t know all the lyrics by heart.  Anne Rice’s vampire books, however, are right on par with my Dixie Chicks obsession!

This book is best paired with: A hearty glass of wine, a purring cat and a crackling fireplace. If you’re an apartment dweller like me, you should download a virtual fireplace app!

My Book Boyfriend: Rafe Bowman from A Wallflower Christmas

Meow! What could be more fun than pairing a literary hottie with a swoon-worthy celebrity? When I saw this meme, hosted by the Unread Reader,I couldn’t resist joining in on the fun! And it just so happens I just polished off A Wallflower Christmas, a historical romance featuring a dashing rogue named Rafe Bowman. I’ve got to hand it to Lisa Kleypas – that’s a great name for a hot male lead. While reading this book, I kept picturing Julian McMahon (also a hottie name!) from Nip Tuck. You might also remember him as that yummy district attorney boyfriend in Charmed.

About Rafe:

Tall, dark and ill-mannered, this sexy rake is known for his wild American ways. With his chiseled good looks and imposing physique, he shouldn’t have any trouble in the love department. Yet when he arrives in London to court his high society bride, his plans get derailed when he meets the sweet and strong-willed Hannah Appleton.

Accustomed to getting everything he wants, Rafe is intrigued by Hannah’s constant rejections. Hannah is determined to resist his persistent flirtations…at least at first. Soon sparks fly, witty banter ensues, a stolen kiss happens and Rafe’s cold, cynical heart melts into butter!

Drool-Worthy Quotes:

“Then I will have to show you what happens to women who stand in my way.” Before she could comprehend what was happening, one powerful arm had brought her against his hard masculine body. With his other hand, he grasped the nape of her neck, and tilted her head backward. And his mouth took hers.”

 “If only I could visit you as a foreigner goes into a new country, learn the language of you, wander past all borders into every private and secret place, I would stay forever. I would become a citizen of you.”

 “You would say it’s too soon to feel this way. You would ask how I could be so certain. But some things can’t be measured by time. Ask me an hour from now. Ask me a month from now. A year, ten years, a lifetime. The way I love you will outlast every calendar, clock, and every toll of every bell that will ever be cast.”
This is how we court girls in America. We grab them and kiss them. And if they don’t like it, we do it again, harder and longer, until they surrender. It saves us hours of witty repartee.

What do you think? Is this how you pictured Rafe Bowman? Who’s your favorite literary hottie? For more details about My Book Boyfriend, visit the Unread Reader.