Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New Author for January: Sheila Roberts

So, I made the commitment that I would read at least one new author a month in 2013 and I am off to a good start.

Sheila Roberts has been around for a while but this is my first visit with her and her town of Icicle Falls.  After reading “Better than Chocolate” it won’t be my last. 

Why did I choose this book?  To be honest I liked the cover of the book.  The big cups of hot chocolate with floating hearts I couldn’t resist.  It just shouted sweet romance and it didn’t disappoint.

Ms. Roberts writing is similar in style to Debbie Macomber.  Her books revolve around a small town in the Northwest called Icicle Falls and the people who live there.  These are light frothy books.  While there is real conflict in the story; it is handled with a light and silver lining kind of touch.  Each story is complete in itself but is richer for reading the previous installment.

“Better than Chocolate”  features the Sterling family who run the chocolate factory.  The first chocolate candy recipe came to Great Grandma Sterling in a dream.  The rest, as they say, is Icicle Falls history.  Now the factory is in big financial trouble and eldest Sterling, Samantha needs to come up with a good plan to save her family business and the jobs of those depending on Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company.

Enter newly made Bank Manager Blake Preston, former high school football star and now by the book businessman.  The future of Sweet Dreams and the Sterling family is in his hands.  Of course Samantha resents him on first meeting and sparks fly between them. 

The story is filled in with a whole cast of supporting characters like Bill Will the swaggering dancing cowboy.  Samantha’s mom, Muriel Sterling is a writer of self-help books. Then there’s Cass, the owner of Gingerhaus Bakery.  She is one tough cookie.

The Sterling sisters throw everything they have at saving the company and that of course means a chocolate festival over Valentine’s Day weekend.  To make it even sweeter they host a Mr. Dreamy contest.  I can see you smiling.  I know I was.

There is nothing steamy in Ms. Roberts story.  Truth be told the romance between Samantha and Blake is secondary to the community of Icicle Falls.  This was perfect for a cozy weekend by the fire Sheila Robertswith bread baking and stew in the crock pot.  It was that comforting and lovely.

It was great meeting Ms. Roberts and Icicle Falls.  I will definitely be visiting again.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

January’s Reads


My First book of the new year is Iris Johansen’s “What Doesn’t Kill You.”  It is a spin off of the Eve Duncan series and unfortunately not as good.  Catherine Ling from Eve’s series is the main character here.  Other characters like CIA Chief Venable, the mysterious Hu Chang, and John Gallo who was the father of Eve’s murdered daughter join Catherine in what should be a fast passed race against time to save a potential important figure.  There was too much thinking and talking and not enough doing.  There was one note to all the characters.  They all talked a lot about their thought processes without ever explaining anything.  Too many pages waiting for action.  It ended with a sequel in mind.  Let’s hope there’s a little less talking and a lot more satisfaction in the next one.

Next on the list of go to authors was a disappointment.  “After Moonrise”  is two short stories by P.C. Cast and Gena Showalter.  I have read both of these authors several times even though I haven’t written about them.  I enjoy them.  I can always count of Ms. Showalter to be fast paced and P.C. Cast to be pretty steamy.  They didn’t disappoint in these areas but I couldn’t finish P.C. Cast’s “Possessed.” 

I can stretch my imagination pretty darn far, almost to transparency but this was too far for me.  Psychic Detective Kent Raef, (I like the switch with Raef being the last name), gets a murder case.  A set of beautiful twins; one of them is murdered and is possessing the other in the hopes to catch her killer.  I actually like the premise.  I am totally cool with them all being beautiful and physically perfect.  What I am not ok with is Kent having sex with the dead twin and it isn’t via the living possessed twin’s body.  It is the ghost that suddenly becomes corporeal for a bout in the sack.  Really?  I realize there is a taboo for me in fiction and that is sex with dead people.  I am also not a fan of Angelic romances either but sex with dead people, even in spirit form are off the reading list for me.

I headed toward the 2nd short story.  “Haunted” by Gena Showalter was only a little better.  Sorry Gena.  At least this time all the people having sex were ghosts.  This story had more of a  “Sixth Sense”  to it.  There was a fairly decent crime to solve and the characters were interesting.  It was a straight up romantic suspense except for the 2 main characters.  There is actually a fun little character/plot twist to this story that worked well.  As you may have surmised I finished this one.  My problem with both of these stories is I personally believe that death is death.  There may be a hereafter but it doesn’t include bungalows in Oklahoma where spirits are shacking up.  Even worse I don’t think I would want that to be real.  Somehow it implies an earthly future and that offends me a little.  I want to move on to something higher.  Don’t get me wrong.  Sex is great!  I love it but I am thinking the hereafter has more for me than a physical act.  I don’t know what it will be but I guess that will be part of that adventure.   I have steered away from these kinds of stories in the past and after these two I am convinced I will stay clear in the future.  Please P.C. and Gena come back from the heavenly plane and stick with the paranormal and romance.

Stephanie Bonds didn’t disappoint with “6 Killer Bodies”. I like these characters.  I see a lot of myself in Carlotta.  She is a caretaker and loves her charges and yet longs for the day when they can take care of themselves.  Her brother Wesley reminds me of a young man I know.  He wants to do the right thing but his compulsions and insecurities are always getting in the way. Obviously this is the 6th book in Ms. Bond’s series and I like them.  There is a nice love triangle tension thing going on.  The mystery of the Charmed Killer played well across the last 3 books and I am rooting for Carlotta to pick the right guy.  I also want to kick her father’s ass.  Sorry for the profanity.  This has a Stephanie Plum feel to it without the tongue in cheek humor of Janet Evonavich’s writing.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of light moments in Ms. Bond’s writing but I never laughed out loud at anything either.  Finally, there are 2 great plot twists at the end which, for me, made the whole book worth it.  One spoiler, it isn’t the discovery of who the Charmed Killer is either.

So this is it for my familiar authors.  Tune in for my review of a new to me author, Sheila Roberts’.