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Driftwood Cottage by Sherryl Woods

I just finished Driftwood Cottage this morning. I think I would best describe it as sweet, maybe a little innocent, definitely slow paced.

The story, one of Sherryl Woods Chesapeake Shores series, kind of meanders, to tell the truth. Meandering books are a litttttle boring to me. I prefer some danger and a few sex scenes, but meandering and sweet does hit the spot for some people.

This particular story features Heather and Connor, who have recently split because Connor refuses to marry Heather. As a divorce lawyer, Connor has seen his fair share of marriages dissolve and is unwilling to place his faith in the institution of marriage. When he considers the split — and eventual remarriage — of his parents, there is simply no way in the world he is going to take that leap, he thinks.

But Heather is the mother of his child, and when she gets into an accident, he begins to wonder if maybe he should rethink his staunch position. His massive, meddling family certainly thinks so, and soon Connor has moved from Baltimore to the Chesapeake shore for good. But is it too late for Connor and Heather?

It’s interesting to see the transfer of power take place in this book. Initially, Connor appears to have the power in the relationship, but as soon as that accident happens, Heather seems to gain the power. While that transfer adds an extra dimension to the book and helps Woods to write for an additional 50 pages or so, it’s at that point when you can really start to see Connor change. That’s when he becomes that dynamic character needed in a novel.

The change, though, is really anti-climatic. It comes after pages and pages or arguments about marriage, and then immediately following a cliché accident. How predictable.

Despite the lack of any real action, however, the story does espouse a good message: In the face of setbacks and problems, perseverance, dedication, hard work and love will help you accomplish your goals in the end.

Title: Driftwood Cottage | By: Sherryl Woods | Published: Mira, 2011 | ISBN: 978-0778329473 | RLB Grade: C

Find it on Amazon:Driftwood Cottage (Chesapeake Shores)


Every Little Thing by Pamela Klaffke

If you woke up this morning and thought, hmm, I think I want to read a repulsive book today, then you are in luck. I’ve just finished one of the most off-the-wall books I’ve ever read.

Every Little Thing by Pamela Klaffke is definitely the proverbial train-wreck. Mason’s mother has recently passed away, causing Mason’s return to Seattle for the funeral. At the funeral, she runs into her two ex-stepbrothers, Edgar and Aaron.

Before lone, Mason, an overweight, gothic cynic of a woman is dating Aaron — yes, her ex-stepbrother Aaron — who is a rich and successful painter. Klaffke never exactly explains why Mason and Aaron get together, since Mason doesn’t particularly like Aaron, and the two don’t have anything in common except, oh, the fact that their parents were once married!

Neither does Klaffke ever explain why Mason begins sleeping with Edgar, her other ex-stepbrother, while still dating Aaron. Mason gets pregnant, and from there everything goes downhill.

I wanted to stop reading this book so many times. Klaffke starts out near the beginning with Mason and Aaron kissing, setting a tone that many readers will not be able to overcome. Klaffke doesn’t do much to help the reader, either, with the complete lack of plot and inability to stir emotion in support of Mason.

Every Little Thing certainly is a character-driven novel, centered on Mason and her journey to overcome her mother’s death and become a mother herself. Even so, the story lacks a definitive plot, has no beginning, middle or end, no climax, no rising or falling action. The book lacks all conventional story telling techniques, does not take the reader from point a to point b, and leaves so many loose strings it’s maddening. So many parts of this novel simply do not make sense.

Because the novel is character-driven, it seems that to work Mason would have had to be a likeable character, or at least one in which the reader is interested. Klaffke has failed on all accounts when it comes to Mason: she certainly is not likeable, in any way, and the reader begins to discover about halfway through, if not sooner, that she really doesn’t care one way or another what happens to Mason.

Mason is flat, boring and bitchy. While she is a dynamic character, going through a transformation throughout the book, she is not interesting, not revolutionary, not anything special.

To be honest, I wouldn’t even really consider this a romance novel, yet it is classified as a member of the romance genre at the bookstore, in the library and online.

In short, there isn’t really any reason for a reader to pick up Every Little Thing by Klaffke, unless, of course, she likes watching the proverbial carnage.

Title: Every Little Thing | By: Pamela Klaffke | Published: Mira, 2011 | ISBN: 978-0778329237 | RLB Grade: F

You DO like train wrecks, and you want to buy it? Don't say I didn't warn you! Find Every Little Thing on Amazon.


Deadly Illusions by Brenda Joyce

I put off writing about this book for a few days because, frankly, I just don’t have much to say about it. It’s not great; it’s not terrible. There just isn’t really anything outstanding about it either way.

Deadly Illusions by Brenda Joyce is the seventh of Joyce’s Deadly series, which features sleuth Francesca Cahill. In Deadly Illusions, we find Francesca in 1902. The heir to a fortune, Francesca is planning to marry the most eligible bachelor in New York: Calder Hart.

Because of his know philandering, however, Francesca wonders if Hart will bore of her after their marriage, all the while Hart is concerned that he will never be able to change his ways and be faithful to Francesca. Add to it Francesca’s latest case, searching for a murderer dubbed “The Slasher,” and Francesca’s former romantic relationship with her boss, and it seems like a perfect recipe for an intriguing murder mystery historical romance.

But somewhere along the way, Joyce manages to muck up the story. There are way too many different characters of which to keep track and way too many storylines to try to follow.

There also are too many untied strings at the end. I realize that Deadly Illusions is part of a series, but the ends Joyce leaves loose don’t really give me a reason to continue reading the next book. I can understand cliffhangers if they have a purpose, but the weak storylines Joyce chooses not to resolve seem a bit pointless. At the same time, she chooses to include storylines that seem unnecessary and pointless, as well.

In addition, the dialogue is awkward, the characters are a bit flat and feel almost rushed, and there just really isn’t much to get into in this book. But, as I said, at the same time, there isn’t really anything appalling. It’s just kind of… meh.

I can’t really think of any overreaching themes in this book. Maybe faith in love would be a theme, if you stretch. I can’t think of anything that makes the book stand out; I can’t think of anything I really took away from it when I closed the back cover.

It doesn’t take me for me to get into a story and think about it when I’m not reading. For me, books are page-turners more often than they are not, but this story just didn’t do it for me.

Title: Deadly Illusions | By: Brenda Joyce | Published: HQN Books, Reprint 2010 | ISBN: 978-0373775415 | RLB Grade: D |

Find it on Amazon: Deadly Illusions (Hqn)


Sheikh's Betrayal by Alexandra Sellers

Sheikh's Betrayal is neither character-driver or plot-driven. It’s entirely sex-driven!

From the moment Desi sees Salah, she is attracted to his brooding personality, though it confuses her a bit. Desi and Salah are not strangers, you see. In fact, far from it. Ten years ago, the two were lovers, pledging to spend the rest of their lives together.

Instead, though, their relationship went adrift after Desi’s international modeling career began to take off, and the two split ways.

Now, Salah is a sheikh and advisor to the Prince of the Bakarat Emirates, and he’s slated to marry his cousin, Sami, who also happens to be Desi’s best friend. Sami doesn’t want the marriage and has begged Desi to intervene, believing that Salah will never marry her if he believes he has a shot in hell with Desi.

What follows is a tension-filled, romantic novelette in which Salah and Desi try to sort out their feelings for one another. Does Salah still love Desi, or does he simply need to bone her for closure, as he says? And does Desi have feelings for Salah, or did she dodge a bullet in avoiding marriage with a man who, Desi believes, comes from a culture with little regard for women?

The novel is short — 172 pages — and moves pretty quickly. It has more sex, drama and innuendo than any romance novel I’ve read to date, though I am trying desperately to find one to out do the Sheikh’s Betrayal. And although each page is filled with tension, feelings and sex, the novel does actually have a plot, and a fairly entertaining one at that.

Sellers was born in Canada and has since emigrated to London, so the novel is written in British English, which, luckily, is not at all distracting. It does, however, cause her style to seem a bit more formal than other romance novels.

But it’s well-researched and well-written. As a reader, it’s extremely easy to find yourself in the middle of the desert with Salah and Desi. The setting is so real; the characters are so real; the pain and heartache of lost love between the two of them is so real.

Sheikh’s Betrayal is an excellent, quick read and definitely worth picking up.

Sheikh’s Betrayal is the most recent of Sellers 14-part Sons of the Desert series, most of which were published before 2005. I haven’t read any of the others in the series yet, but you can be sure I will pick some of them up on my next trip to the library. Sellers has published more than 35 novels in total.


Title: Sheikh's Betrayal | By: Alexandra Sellers | Published: Silhouette, 2009 | ISBN: 978-0373769599 | RLB Grade: B- | Find it on Amazon: Sheikh's Betrayal (Silhouette Desire)

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