I binged last week. Here's what I read.
Survival: Species Imperative #1 by Julie Czerneda;
Straight SF book—heroine is an Earth-centric scientist studying species survival—salmon, specifically—who gets called on to investigate a series of disappearances in space. Stranger than the disappearances is the path they follow—straight from a region called the Chasm where planets that should have been life-bearing have apparently been stripped of all life. And the people are not the only things missing—so is every living thing in a specific area. An alien and his human “escort” come to ask for the heroine’s help. Other aliens seem to want to stop her, and matters escalate. This is a Very Scientific book of science fiction with interesting biological/evolutional plot twists. There’s a faint hint of romance, but mostly, it’s about the scientific mystery. I probably shouldn’t have read it as late at night as I did...
Zinnia by Jayne Ann Krentz;
Picked this up at a UBS, because I thought I hadn’t read it—and I was wrong, but I didn’t remember much of it, until I got to the climax part and remembered where it had taken place because it was a very distinctive location. Anyway, this is one of the SF locale books where most people have a synergistic psychic power. Some have the power, some have the ability to create a psychic prism that allows the other people to focus that power. The power doesn’t work well without the prism. In this, the hero has a Pattern-sensing power—one that tends to drive its possessors insane. And of course, the heroine is the only prism who can deal with his powerful talent. It’s a nice, enjoyable story.The Perfect Rake by Anne Gracie;
This was a marvelous book with lovely, lovely dialog. It slips between drama and comedy so deftly there’s no sense of dislocation one often gets in books that have both. The heroine and her sisters have been living with a diabolical grandfather who beats them regularly. When the grandfather falls and breaks an ankle chasing the heroine down the stairs, she concocts a plot to get them all out from under his cruel rule. They will go stay with their great-uncle, one of them will marry, and they will be able to access their inheritance from their mother. Except Great-Uncle Oswald won’t allow the beautiful younger sisters to enter society for fear they’ll ruin the eldest’s (the heroine) chances. So she claims she’s engaged to a youthful Scottish Duke who never comes to London. Only he just happens to have come, this season, looking for a wife. So the heroine scurries off to his home to explain things, and mistakes his cousin, a Lord Carradice, for the duke—which is where all the delightful, witty conversations begin—and things go from there. I just loved this book—and wish I’d read it earlier in the day as well.
Angel-Seeker by Sharon Shinn;
I finally decided I hadn’t already read this one after all, and picked it up. It’s a romantic science fiction story, but the romance is slow to develop and the parties to the two romances don’t spend much time together. It’s mostly about how the lives of women in various Samarran societies and how these women develop a sense of self-worth. Elizabeth is a cook on her cousin’s farm after her parents die—an unpaid servant—and decides to leave the farm for a better life in a new Angel town. Maybe even have an angel baby. She finds a job in the angel dormitory laundry, and a place to live in a local boarding house, and even an angel who might give her that angel baby. Then she’s asked to help with a medical emergency and eventually becomes an apprentice healer. The parallel story is about a young Jansai woman, Rebekah, who finds a wounded angel beside a desert water hole. If not for this chance, she’d never have met anyone outside her family for Jansai women don’t leave their homes without escort and veils, and mostly, don’t leave at all. It’s a good story, with a satisfying ending.Heart Choice by Robin D. Owens;
I had to try two stores before I found this, a couple of days before July started. It’s the 4th book in Robin’s Heart series set on Celta. In this one, the hero is the last of a family with a defective gene that leaves them vulnerable to a common illness. He’s been hunting a cure without luck, but has decided it’s time to restore the family home and find his Heartmate. As soon as he gets through with his fling with his interior designer (the heroine). Heroine was left sterile after a childhood illness, so she knows no one intending to re-establish his family’s line will be interested in marrying her. She doesn’t want a fling either, but someone seems to be after her. This is a very good, well-written story with multiple, interlocking mysteries, and it’s all about choices (hence the title). A definite keeper, and look to see this one raking in the awards on the contest circuit when the time comes.Skintight by Susan Anderson;
Hero, a professional gambler who usually wins, has lost an heirloom baseball in a poker game. Except he’s not in possession of the ball—his “step-mother” has it. She’s a gold-digging Las Vegas chorus girl, so he figures he’ll have no trouble seducing his way into her house, grabbing the ball and saving his thumbs and other fingers from breakage. But she’s not anything like what he expects her to be. This is a fun story about expectations and illusions and finding love. It’s just a good read.Enigma by Dee Davis;
Heroine is a federal bomb disposal expert. Hero is a black ops CIA kind of guy who comes out to work for a private/public coalition-type group when needed. And three Senators just got blown up in a San Antonio hotel, so the government and media are in hysterics wanting to know what happened. The heroine is called in to find out who. The hero is called in to help and to protect her. And of course there’s this attraction between them... Great characters, great story, very satisfying read.311 Pelican Court by Debbie Macomber;
Another one of those Cedar Cove books. In this one, a divorced couple learns to cooperate again to deal with their rebellious daughter, a single mother allows herself to love the father of her child, despite his secrets, and a lady judge works through her feelings for her ex and her new beau and both judge and beau learn to fight for what they want. Women’s fiction full of nice people struggling with life.44 Cranberry Point by Macomber;
A couple of books ago, this stranger died—seemingly spontaneously—in a Cedar Cove B&B, but he seemed familiar to the B&B’s owner, a Vietnam vet. So in this book, Macomber finally gets around to solving the mystery. (If it were me writing it, it would have taken me this long to figure out who had done it and why, but I bet Macomber had the solution all along. She strikes me as that sort.) Anyway, there’s stuff going on with all the other town characters—the judge’s mom falls in love. Her best friend tries to win back the beau she alienated. The best friend’s daughter tries to patch up her new husband with his estranged parents. Stuff like that. I think the only real romance in this book is the grandma’s, but it’s a nice, sweet read.
Navy Husband by Macomber;
I still don’t care much for Macomber’s romances. They’re just...not very romantic. In this one, a widowed Navy nurse has to leave her daughter with her single sister while she’s deployed at sea. “Uncle Adam”—the dead husband’s best friend (also Navy)—is living in the area and when the little girl accepts that he won’t marry her mom, she goes to work fixing him up with her aunt. Meanwhile, Mom is attracted to a commander on the carrier where she’s working, and winds up taking care of him after an emergency appendectomy. He never says one nice word to her, but she still falls in love with him. (!) And sis and the best friend are having some nice dates too. I couldn’t figure out when the falling in love happened, and I had trouble believing they really did fall in love. I like her women’s fiction, but I’ve never much liked her romances, and apparently still don’t. It was an okay read. Just not very romantic.Total Package by Cait London;
Heroine is a photojournalist slumming at a swimsuit calendar shoot because she doesn’t want to run across the boyfriend who just dumped her to marry a fluffy blonde. She and boyfriend used to bond on the battlefield or the slopes of erupting volcanoes. Hero is the son of a Russian immigrant who’s moved to the NE coast to stay near family—his brother runs a resort there. He’s on a sea cliff making life decisions when the heroine comes up to commune with nature and ask the sky why the bf dumped her. He decides to pretend he’s just coming up to the cliff, and the minute she sees him, the heroine decides he’s climbed the hill intending to jump. I found her wild conclusion a bit hard to swallow, but they were an interesting couple of characters, so I enjoyed the story. She’s a very different sort of personality—a bit schizo, but interesting.A Good Yarn by Macomber;
A women’s fiction story, revisiting the yarn shop of A SHOP ON BLOSSOM STREET. (A Good Yarn is the name of the shop.) A whole new set of ladies come to the yarn shop for classes to learn to make socks: a recent divorcee who can’t pick herself up again, a teenager spending her senior year in high school with her grandmother while her father works in Brazil, and a retired librarian who’s lost her retirement money to a bankrupt developer. It’s just a nice novel about some nice-ish people who get nicer by the end of the story. A nice read. (And sometimes nice-ness is just what a body needs.)Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich
I finally found Metro Girl in the local library. Don’t know if it’s because I had to wait till people left it long enough for me to check out, or it just took them this long to get a copy, but... I liked it. Barney isn’t Stephanie, exactly. The story was different—I got a real kick out of NASCAR Guy—but it had the same Evanovich voice—which makes sense, since Evanovich wrote it. Barney’s brother vanishes while he’s on the phone with her. She heads to Florida to find him. He’s stolen—er, borrowed—the boat belonging to Sam Hooker, a NASCAR driver, and Sam decides to stick with Barney in case she figures out where his boat is. And then things get really complicated. Fun story with a number of LOL moments. (The bakery thing was good for several.)and It's In His Kiss by Julia Quinn
The last Bridgerton girl has her book. There’s still a boy left before we have to start on the next generation. Anyway, Hyacinth hasn’t acquired too many proposals. She’s a little intimidating. The lady she admires and tries to model herself after is Lady Danbury, a scary dowager with a cane she likes to whack people with. Lady Danbury’s grandson has a reputation as a rake, is estranged from his father (because he’s not his father’s child, which is revealed very early on), and is now the heir since his older brother’s death. But since Hyacinth and Gareth St. Clair are the only two people in the ton who actually like Lady Danbury, they become acquainted. And then, when Gareth acquires his other grandmother’s diary, written in Italian, Hyacinth undertakes to translate it for him. And the plot thickens. Thickly. There’s lots of fun, witty dialog and all the hallmarks of a Quinn novel. I liked it a lot.What have you been reading?