Friday, August 2, 2013

Review: Uncommon Passion by Anne Calhoun

5 very big stars. 

After I finished Uncommon Passion, I sat with a stupid grin on my face for a few moments before logging onto B&N and putting a reserve on Unforgiven. While, okay, it's only the beginning of August, this is my second favorite book of 2013. It's Written in Red by Anne Bishop, Uncommon Passion, and then Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh. Yes, it bumped Nalini.

The heroine, Rachel, she is the type of heroine that I want to be. She has the courage to break away from everything she's ever known, the compassion to keep reaching out to her father and the hero (Ben), and the self-respect to walk away when Ben is unwilling to meet her halfway. Ben is a police/SWAT officer who's running from his past and chasing adrenaline thrills to distract himself from the emptiness inside. He thinks that teaching a virgin about sex is something new to break the ennui he's been experiencing, but Rachel knocks him on his ass. She doesn't offer him ultimatums or ask him to go beyond the rules he's set out, but rather, Rachel, by simply accepting Ben, makes Ben want to be better than he is. He tentatively starts to examine his issues because she makes him believe that there is more to life than emptiness.

The writing was amazing. Calhoun made the smart call of keeping the book's time frame focused on the weekends, at least at the beginning. So we get the sense of time passing, we can see how their relationship develops, slowly and in a burst of passionate fire, without a lot of exposition dragging down the pace. By the end of the book, there was no doubt in my mind that these two belonged together and that they were going to live happily ever after. The sex scenes were hot and yet Calhoun managed to keep the reader emotionally connected as well. At the second-to-last sex scene, I was right there with Rachel as on one level, she enjoyed herself, and on another other, she figured out the psychology behind Ben's actions.

My favorite of the book has to be the end. We all know that I love a book that shows the characters making smart, self-aware, decisions, and Uncommon Passion delivers on that with a vengeance. When Ben starts getting himself together, he doesn't rush over to Rachel and be all, 'you were absolutely right, I need to change. Let's get back together!' No, instead, he acknowledges that he's f-ed up and that he needs to get himself straight before he can be a worthy partner for her. When he and Rachel finally do re-connect, it's like a new beginning. They don't jump right back into bed. They date. There's coffee and long conversations and all the getting-to-know-yous that they didn't do the first time around. They love each other and for the sake of that love, they take the time to do their relationship right. I'm getting teary just thinking about it.

Long-time followers probably have guessed that I'm quite the speedy reader and, due to the whole anti-delayed-gratification that I have going on, it's rare that I savor a book. Yet with Uncommon Passion, I took breaks. I didn't want it to end too soon. I haven't even started a new book yet, I'm not ready to say goodbye.

I hate that this is going to be a trade paperback because I want to tell y'all to run out and pre-order it. So email your public libraries, and tell them to add it to the collection, but if you're going to splurge on one book next month, make it this one. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: Drawn Together by Lauren Dane

4 stars.

Snagged from NetGalley.

Sometimes I'm surprised Berkley still gives me stuff because I'm the crazy chick who can't wait until closer to the review date to read the ARC and then, when I finish it, I must post ASAP. Clearly I am a publicist's worst nightmare.

In deference to their nerves, I will not say that while I found the pacing a bit slow and the twist made me go, 'wait, what?', I thought it was a great addition to the series and I'm pretty sure this is my favorite after Never Enough (I love that book...I should dig out my copy and re-read it). Instead, I will say that you need to read the following books before you start Drawn Together: Laid Bare, Coming Undone, and the novella "Sway," found in Cherished. The novella is particularly important because the hero of Drawn is the brother of the hero in "Sway." It would also help to read Never Enough, but it's not strictly necessary (you should, though, because it's awesome).

I'm also going to share with you the dedication of the book because I thought it was really sweet, and I was very excited by the second paragraph. To be on the safe side, I'll white it out (highlight to see), but there's nothing about Drawn Together specifically.

Dedication of Drawn Together:

"Ever since Erin first came onto the page in Laid Bare, I've had so much love for this group of family-- intentional and biological. The Brown Family novels have been a joy to write and I'm very grateful readers have enjoyed them so much. 

I'll be back at some point because I can't really imagine being totally done with these folks. After all, there's a whole new generation of artists and rockers coming up. 

In the meantime, this one is for the readers who've made this series possible--especially for those of you who've understood that despite her crusty exterior, Raven was worthy of her happily ever after."

I didn't know until I read that second paragraph that I want Miles's book with a burning passion. Like, he's the oldest and his book should come first. Or, Lord, can you imagine what Alexander might be like when he grows up? Dayum.