Saturday, September 10, 2011

REVIEW: The Duke by Gaelen Foley


Driven to uncover the truth about the mysterious death of his ladylove, the Duke of Hawkscliffe will go to any lengths to unmask a murderer. Even if it means jeopardizing his reputation by engaging in a scandalous affair with London's most provocative courtesan - the desirable but aloof Belinda Hamilton.

Bel has used her intelligence and wit to charm the city's titled gentlemen, while struggling to put the pieces of her life back together. She needs a protector, so she accepts Hawk's invitation to become his mistress in name only. He asks nothing of her body, but seeks her help in snaring the same man who shattered her virtue. Together they tempt the unforgiving wrath of society - until their risky charade turns into a dangerous attraction, and Bel must make a devastating decision that could ruin her last chance at love...

Because Carrie recommended it to me.  Click here to read her review. :)

REVIEW: Capelli's Captive Virgin by Sarah Morgan

Capelli's Captive Virgin (Harlequin Presents)

Lindsay has turned down ruthless Sicilian Alessio Capelli once before, but he's determined she won't do it again—he will use her and discard her! Circumstance has provided him with the ideal opportunity: Lindsay has been forced to step into her missing sister's shoes and work for him.

This time Alessio will be the one in control. He relishes the thought of having a virgin in his bed, and he'll do everything to keep her captive—until he's ready to dismiss her….

Friday, September 9, 2011

REVIEW: Silk by Alessandro Baricco


The year is 1861. Hervé Joncour is a French merchant of silkworms, who combs the known world for their gemlike eggs. Then circumstances compel him to travel farther, beyond the edge of the known, to a country legendary for the quality of its silk and its hostility to foreigners: Japan.

There Joncour meets a woman. They do not touch; they do not even speak. And he cannot read the note she sends him until he has returned to his own country. But in the moment he does, Joncour is possessed.

REVIEW: A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans

Laura Foster is a hopeless romantic. Her friends know it, her parents know it - even Laura acknowledges she lives either with her head in the clouds or buried in a romance novel. It's proved harmless enough, even if it hasn't delivered her a real-life dashing hero yet. But when her latest relationship ends in a disaster that costs her friendships, her job, and nearly her sanity, Laura swears off men and hopeless romantic fantasies for good.

With her life in tatters around her, Laura agrees to go on vacation with her parents. After a few days of visiting craft shops and touring the stately homes of England, Laura is ready to tear her hair out. And then, while visiting grand Chartley Hall, she crosses paths with Nick, the sexy, rugged estate manager. She finds she shares more than a sense of humor with him - in fact, she starts to think she could fall for him. But is Nick all he seems? Or has Laura got it wrong again? Will she open her heart only to have it broken again?

As a hopeless romantic myself, I could not help but be mesmerized by Ms. Harriet Evans' book covers. In fact, another friend bought her book also because of the pretty. We just had to have it. I eventually managed to tear my eyes from the covers, and with titles and little summaries like these, who can resist what hopes to be a good read, yeah? This is a long post, and spoilers of course, so beware.

REVIEW: Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley

Did I finally find myself a favorite? Does he trump all others? Is he a hero of heroes? That'll be a resounding yesyesyes!

Just who is this superawesomemegaepicdelicious hero??? Well, he can be found in the following story...

Author: Gaelen Foley
Genre: Historical/Romance/Action/Drama/Suspense
Standalone|Series: Book#2 of the Knight Miscellany series
Rated: R for sexual content
Summary: Gaelen Foley has created a pair of enthralling twins for Lord of Fire, a Regency romance that blazes with passion. Lord Lucien Knight gave his honor for his country -- baiting traps with sins of passion and politics in the shadow war against Napoleon. Now that peace has been declared, the master spy turns his talents to vetting possible brides for his twin, testing their worthiness to wed his icily honorable war hero brother, Lord Damien. In the course of that duty he learns of Alice Montague. Miss Montague is said to be young, pretty, clever, good with children, and of impeccable character. She sounds perfect for his twin. Why, then, does Lucien lure Alice to his estate, compel her to promise to remain in what she knows to be a fortress of sin, and then begin a skilled campaign of seduction? Can it be that the Lord of Fire himself now burns with the fire of love?
(summary source: goodreads)


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

REVIEW: The Duke by Gaelen Foley

Excited to post a review for a book that I feel is a must read.

And that book that MUST be read is...

Title: The Duke
Author: Gaelen Foley
Genre: Historical/Romance/Drama/Suspense
Standalone|Series: Book#1 of the Knight Miscellany series
Rated: R to NC-17 for sexual content
Summary: Driven to uncover the truth about the mysterious death of his ladylove, the Duke of Hawkscliffe will go to any lengths to unmask a murderer. Even if it means jeopardizing his reputation by engaging in a scandalous affair with London's most provocative courtesan - the desirable but aloof Belinda Hamilton.

Bel has used her intelligence and wit to charm the city's titled gentlemen, while struggling to put the pieces of her life back together. She needs a protector, so she accepts Hawk's invitation to become his mistress in name only. He asks nothing of her body, but seeks her help in snaring the same man who shattered her virtue. Together they tempt the unforgiving wrath of society - until their risky charade turns into a dangerous attraction, and Bel must make a devastating decision that could ruin her last chance at love...
(summary source: goodreads)


MIXing it up.

Music plays a huge part in my life, as I would imagine it would for many people as well. Music naturally enhances everything it touches ... it lifts us up, inspires us, stirs emotions that we may or may not even want to surface. It goes straight for the heart.

Most of the time when reading my romance novels, a song or two would pop up and I'd connect it to a moment, a character, or the couple. I don't think I've ever felt as driven to create a soundtrack than for Pippin and Dash, Elizabeth Boyle's star-crossed lovers in Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress. Ah, Pippin and Dash. Oh, my heart.

Lady Philippa Knowles and Captain Thomas Dashwell's love story spans years, decades even. They first meet in  This Rake of Mine, the second book in the Bachelor Chronicles, when Pippin was merely a schoolgirl. We only get fragments of their story in each installment, and it's not till we get to the fifth book, their book, that we see how their romance truly developed and how their love for each other has evolved. Kudos to Ms. Boyle's storytelling magic that while reading the other books (which I love very much too!) I very much was anticipating Pippin and Dash's story and was really eager for the next installment. By the time I got to the end of the fourth book, their narrative had left me euphoric and miserable and curious and hopeful and worried and enchanted .... I really, really just wanted to get my hands on the book so I can find out what choices they made and where those life-altering decisions had led them to. ;)

Happy Ending by Mika. That is the one song that kept replaying in my head, from the moment I picked up their book. Don't be fooled by the title and the music. The lyrics. Oh, gosh. My heart is breaking again. I really liked how Pippin and Dash's story is not your typical formulaic romance. I don't want to give too much away and mention specifics, but when you do decide to read this book, I would really recommend that you start from the beginning (read There's Something About Emmaline too! Because it's so much fun!) to get the full effect. It's part of the genius of their plight as a couple. But anyway, Happy Ending is just one of the many songs that came to mind, and certainly, this is not where I would end my mix. I think you'll know what I mean when you read it.

I wonder though, how many readers automatically attach a song(s) to a character they love, a memorable moment, an unforgettable story? Does it easily come to you? Do you like creating fanmixes? :D

(Look, an aside! Hehe. I found out about this series via twitter (ab contest - srsly.). I saw the cover for Lord Langley Is Back In Town and my interest was piqued by this gorgeous cover. Heh. Found out it's the latest (last?) in the series and I only had a few days till the book would come out, so I took it upon myself to start from Book One and finish by the time Lord Langley comes back (and hey, mission accomplished!:D) I'm so glad I did. I got to read about this wonderful group of family and friends, all delightful, smart, and very endearing mischief-makers. Heee.) You guys, go and buy the books and start reading now!

"Yes, Dash?" 
"How did we get here?" 
"Aboard this ship?" she teased. "Nate ordered the sails raised and then --" 
"Very funny," he said, cutting her off. "You know what I mean. Here. To this place." 
"Oh, this place," she said, her face growing solemn. "I've wondered that as well, and all I can think of is that we are like our stars." 
"How so?" 
"You and I are the two outer stars, and the one between us is everything that keeps us apart." 
He set his lips together and gazed out at the waves. "Like this ocean," he offered." 

Monday, September 5, 2011

REVIEW: Nine Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean

Here we go. Posting my first review. I wanted to put this review here as well, even though I've posted it already on my Goodreads account. I even managed to get up the courage to send it to SBTB for their RITA Reader Challenge Review, and fortunately, my review got posted! (I'm still gushing over the fact that Ms. MacLean herself commented on the review, hee!!) :D

Up until a few days ago, I was twenty six years old. Every time I were to answer the age question though, twenty eight would come out. I couldn't figure out why. I didn't want to be older than I really am but maybe it was just the age I felt I was at the moment? Callie though, Lady Calpurnia Hartwell, well, she's twenty eight years old -- a spinster, what else? I guess you could place me in that category as well. I think it's me being able to identify with the heroine of this book, it's me being able to empathize with her situation that made this book most especially dear to me. I was there with her all the way, and I'm so glad she got her Happily Ever After with Gabriel. :)


Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried --- and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she's vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she's been missing.

But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss --- to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston --- charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.

If she's not careful, she'll break the most important rule of all --- the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love ...

Onto the review.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Prelude of things to come.

Hello, hello. I suppose C is right and an introduction is a great way to start this blog, so here I am, sitting in front of the screen, trying to piece together relevant threads from my life to share with all of you.

Nine. I was nine years old when I first came to know the meaning of obsession. Well, I suppose obsession is not really the right word (I know it's overused and misused by many) ... passion. That's what I felt. Someone in class brought in the Sweet Valley Kids books and it somehow got passed down to me. I don't know how it happened (my memory, it's very poor, sadly) but somehow between studying in school and climbing trees and playing with dirt (I have my boy cousins to thank for that; I didn't have any girl friends growing up, not really, not till I was old enough :P) I ended up spending all my free time reading the series. I remember saving what little allowance I have and dragging my parents by the hand so they can take me to the bookstore. I needed my fix. I wanted it all. Reading became my preoccupation. Forget sports, forget everything else ... I just wanted to read.

Devour the written word, I did. I have very poor eyesight because I didn't listen to my parents and I ignored common sense ... I did stupid things like make sure to sit at the back of the school bus so that I could hold up a book and use the light from the car behind us. Couldn't even wait to get home to read, that's how it was. Eventually, I moved on and read Twins! Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine. Anne Rice. I read the classics (thanks to my mother, who made sure I was never without) and fell in love with A Little Princess, Little Women. I tried to read Austen, Eliot, and Hawthorne too (but it didn't register until re-reads when I got older). I grew older still, and though my taste in books changed, my love for it did not.

Hours. Spent hours walking up and down the aisle to pick the perfect read. I'd take book recommendations from people. I'd see something on television I like (we had these dubbed cartoons in the Philippines, and there was nothing to do but fall in love with them) so I would go and find stories like Pollyanna, The Secret Garden, Heidi, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and A Little Princess. This is actually something I do to this day. When I see something I like, I immediately find a book that would correspond to it, anything related to enhance my knowledge or my appreciation.

My parents. They were avid readers too. I would find old books, complete with the yellowed pages and that old book smell ... books that my father would give my mother when he was still courting her. Books with special meanings. Books with messages written especially for her. Books. Books. Books.

I got a Nook Color this January. My bookshelf is overflowing (I buy books. I want to own them. I seldom did borrow a book, I always bought my own.) so my brothers decided that an e-reader is in order. Good timing too. Because as much as I would have loved to devote my time to read, college years were spent reading text books and working. Now that that chapter of my life is over, I thought I could read more, so I signed up for a 100 book challenge. My stars aligned and I was able to follow through.

This is where my romance reading comes in. It pains me to not be able to recall what my first romance novel is, or when I first read it, or where I got it. The simple answer is I don't know. I read my share of young adult romance series then. I probably picked up a Danielle Steel or two before. I was reading a lot of chick lits at one point. Are not most (if not all) of those stories romances too? I never did venture to the actual romance section of a bookstore though. At the time, I had my preconceived notions about romance novels. Because I didn't understand then. I didn't know what it was about, not really.

Thankfully, I was able to discover the romance genre through my nook. There were plenty of titles to choose from. They were cheap (a lot cheaper than other novels!). The covers were pretty. The book descriptions made me smile. In short, everything about it made me happy. What's a girl to do, right?

So I experimented with my reading list. I bought known authors. Harlequin titles. I looked up all the Top 100 romance lists and polls, I searched online for websites that would have great romance recommendations. I reveled in my quest to find the best reads. I told everyone about my latest finds, and before I knew it, romance novels took over my reading life.

Well. That is a very long story, huh? That's something you should know about me too. I, Diana, ramble. Ramble and rant and even worse, my stories (IRL, all right?!) don't make sense most of the time because I usually start from the middle, then go back to the beginning, then jump to the end (I also have a lot of asides, which you can tell already, with the number of parentheses used in this post alone). Coffee lover. Seriously, I live for coffee. I forget a lot. But I also remember the most random and peculiar things. I have a quaint sense of humor. I love sunsets and the moon and stars. Music is love. I'm paranoid (usually has to do with the forgetfulness, so I overcompensate. That, and I'm a girl scout through and through.). I'm pretty patient, and I am very trusting. You screw with me though, and there'll be hell to pay. I'm a dork. I'm loud. I'm quiet. I don't like yellow. I love outdoor activities, nature trips, and I love pushing myself despite (because of?) the fact that I am afraid of so many things, like heights. I'd still do it though, because I love the rush (zip line, white water rafting, paragliding, horseback riding, hiking). I loooove to travel. I'm no good with phones (I'm so sorry; it's not you, it's me). I'm a hopeless romantic, a dreamer, and trying hard to be an optimist. I think I have a chance there. If I could ask God, I'd ask him why our lives can't come with our own soundtrack. Anglophile, right here. I love taking pictures. I enjoy art (oh, hi there, C!). I'm the only girl. My mind is constantly at work (hello, daydreams!) so there is never a quiet time in my head. I am passionate. I am attentive. I love to laugh. I listen. I love Harry Potter (the series. Ron Weasley is my King). I break out in sweats when I know I'm about to break a rule (which is not often, mind). Good girl all around, but with a mischievous side that likes to play every now and then.

I do love my historicals. I find it easier to slip into their world and fall in love with a time gone by (so easy to get nostalgic about the past, no?). I read some contemporary romances too, but I find it difficult sometimes to engage and fall in love, so the stories have to be really special to me. I think I've read a couple paranormal, a few romantic suspense, but I know that I have bought more than a few from different genres because I want to try it all out.

I fall in love easily. Alpha males preferred, though I do love me all kinds of heroes as long as they show me they love me the heroine. Words are charming and romantic and pleasant to hear, but actions are even more commendable. Heroines that are made of win are the ones who never give up, the ones who fight for what they believe, and for their love, and those who never sacrifice who they are for what they want to become.

I guess ... that is it for now. More to come, on this blog. More rants and rambles and reviews.

Cheers! ;)

First for everything...

Been trying to figure out my next post. And then I had an epiphany! I was like, dude, just start from the beginning!

Actually, before I get to the beginning, I should probably introduce myself first. Here goes: My name is Carrie. I have a bagillion nicknames, from Dot to Cupcake (no kidding, but there's only one person, so far, that can call me that!) to Carebear to... Well, you get the picture.

I'm incredibly shy, but only up until the point of meeting a person. I'm verrry easygoing, which is why, I think, I get along with just about everybody. Basically, if you're nice to me, I'll be your bestfriend.

I do have walls though. I hate talking about myself. I guard my heart well. But I also wear my heart on my sleeve. I'm cheesy. I'm laid back. I love wearing sweaters and yoga pants--just give me the weather for it! I contradict myself. I get cold super easily. I like being alone, but I hate feeling lonely (who doesn't?). I love to people watch. I'm told that I'm oblivious, especially by my Partner-In-Crime, D, AKA Diana. D is what I call her in my head. (PERHAPS SHE WILL INTRODUCE HERSELF SOON? *wink wink*) I love secondary colors: purple, green and orange. You can always catch me doodling on scraps of paper. To get away from the horrors of real life, I escape in whatever world books can offer me. Or I make up my own stories and write and write until I forget. I like post-its and highlighters and paperclips and stapling things. My grammar sucks and I'm comma happy. You have been warned!

What else is there? I'm 27, and single (am I a spinster yet?). I have two peek-a-pom dogs, named Chirippa and Pichu. I'll choose chocolate over vanilla. Mangoes and watermelons are the best. And I take my tea with honey.

This is getting tl;dr, isn't it? Anyway, all that stuff doesn't really say anything about me. And you probably aren't interested LOL

So, let's get to the beginning...

Who remembers their first romance novel? I do! I remember just how I obtained it. I remember who I was with when I got it. I remember opening the book and flipping to the first page. I remember feeling both very grown up and like a kid in a candy store all at once. I remember when I finished, and feeling like I had a new friend.

The novel: Zoya, by Danielle Steele. Zoya is a story that was beautifully crafted with detailed history, memorable characters and an epic love story. A classic. So glad that it was my first. Zoya was the perfect novel to introduce me into the world of romance.

I'm not going to post a review, that's not what this post is about XD This post is about beginnings. And, for me, it began in high school, when I went with one of my best friends to the library. And we found the romance section! It was awkward. It was embarrassing. It was awesome. I remember how we stuffed our backpacks full of Silhouettes and Harlequins and whatever else that caught our eye. It was absolutely thrilling. One of my best memories. Ever.

And that was where it all began. :)

As life continued, I found myself drifting away from the romance section and towards the suspense section. And after that, the memoirs section. Then back to the suspense and the thrillers.

And then--And then D pulled me back into the wonderful world of romance with her new found enthusiasm for it. Here. In this romantical world. Now. Everything is beautiful.

It seems now that I'm older (and hopefully a bit more experienced), I feel like reading romance is quite different for me than it was a decade ago. Not that the stories changed. They still generally run under the same formula. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I respect the stories more. I see things under a different light, in a new perspective. I'm applying and relating. I'm learning a great deal about people and how they interact. There's just something about romance novels that are special.

I feel like I've come full circle, but made it into a different circle that's more bright and colorful. I guess to sum it all up, I'm glad to find myself back in the romance section. ;)

♥ c