MJ’s Musings: Book Bingo: Sports Romance

Update on my Book Reading Bingo progress: I filled the “Romance with a Sporting Chance” square by reading Jean C. Joachim’s DAN ALEXANDER, PITCHER.

Baseball romance. YAY! I really enjoyed this book. I loved the whole idea of a woman hiding out in plain sight as “the hot dog girl” at a major league baseball stadium.  Loved the characters.

My only problem with the story had to do with the end. MINOR SPOILER ALERT:  if the government was hiding the heroine from the mob, the seriousness of her situation required…more than it was given in this story. That didn’t sit well with me.

Overall, however, I found this book to be a quick, fun read.


MJ’s Musings: SEP-This Heart of Mine

Of all Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Stars books, This Heart of Mine is my favorite. She takes the sister of the heroine of It Had to be You (Molly Sommerville) and pairs her with the hero’s nemesis from Nobody’s Baby But Mine (Kevin Tucker). SEP admits she finagled their ages a bit to make the story work. She is forgiven because Molly and Kevin are a great couple.

Molly writes children’s books and is colorful and sparkly. Kevin is an immature jock who learns there’s more to life than football. There are rough moments  when the author gets into some uncomfortable topics–example: sexual harassment isn’t always male to female. There are two parts that make me cry every time I read the book.

Sometimes I dislike SEP’s secondary romance plots.  I’m undecided about the ones in this book. I do like that the older woman is sticking up for herself after years of marriage in which her desires were ignored. No one is going to push her around now. I found the young couple annoying, but they had to be in order to grow.

SEP intersperses  excerpts from the heroine’s book throughout the novel, which I found enchanting. It was as if Molly couldn’t handle her emotions herself, so had to give them to her characters in order to acknowledge them. And like the older woman who doesn’t let anyone push her around, Molly, too, grows a backbone at the end of the book.

Kevin has to face his past–both at the hated church camp he’s inherited and his roots.

Molly and Kevin are layered and nuanced; they both grow in maturity.

Over all, I give this book five stars.

MJ’s Musings-Book Bingo: Pets & Romance: Ready for Love

One of the squares on my Book-Reading-Bingo board is Pets & Romance, where at least one of the main characters is a pet owner and pet ownership is a central theme to the book. Pets can include horses or other livestock, but not in a farming or ranching context. Thing “furry friend” vs. “making a living.”

The third book of Marie Force’s GANSETT ISLAND series fits the category to a tee.

Ready for Love is the story of a woman healing from the loss of her husband and children in an automobile accident. All she has left of her family is the dog.  One of the other characters has always wanted to be a veterinarian and has a pack of special needs dogs. No, the second character is not the love interest, but she plays a crucial role in the story.

I started reading the GANSETT ISLAND series because the author was a guest speaker for my local RWA chapter.  By about the fifth book, I realized I wasn’t reading a series of romances so much as I was reading a soap opera.  When I went to Goodreads to see what other people thought (and I never do this until I have my own opinion in place), I wasn’t surprised to see several others had come to the same conclusion. GANSETT ISLAND is a soap opera.

In the beginning of the series, the individual books more or less focused on one couple. As the series continues, each book tells the story of one couple, but there are multiple scenes involving past couples (usually having  sex) and scenes setting up future books.  I’m not saying I don’t like this. Heck, I’m on the 13th  or 14th book in the series. It’s just…different than what I usually read.

MJ’s Musings: SEP-What I Did For Love

One of my top three favorite Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ novels is WHAT I DID FOR LOVE. Many people refer to this book as her “Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie/Jennifer Anniston” book, and there are many strong reasons why people consider it to be so. That’s not why I love this book so much. I barely know who the aforementioned celebrities are.

The story about how the protagonist finds true love–and grows up in the process–is captivating. The hero, a bad boy through and through, has unsuspected depths and maybe isn’t as bad as we think.

But I love this book for it’s textures. The setting. The heroine’s wardrobe. The food. The characters, from the assistants to the treacherous ex and his new woman have a multitude of facets, both rough and smooth. I love details, and SEP creates a wonderfully specific world populated with  fully-developed personalities.

There was one “ick” scene involving a lingerie shop that I could have done without, but even the secondary romances in this book are riveting.

I cannot recommend the story enough.


MJ’s Musings: Book Bingo: Nerd Girl-DOUBLE TROUBLE

The purpose of Book Bingo is to force us out of our reading comfort zone. I might have read DOUBLE TROUBLE whether or not it fit into once of this year’s categories because I do like the author, Claire Cross (who also writes as Claire Delacroix). Many years ago, Claire turned me on to a research book that has become an invaluable tool, so I have a soft spot for her. But I digress.

What makes DOUBLE TROUBLE a nerd girl book? The heroine writes computer code for a living. She uses shady deep net contacts when she needs information. She’s no Lisbeth Salander, but she’s still a  computer geek living illegally in a converted factory loft.

I found two “ick” factors going into the book, but Cross made the fact that the hero happens to be the heroine’s brother-in-law work for this reader.  The second “ick” is the heroine’s sister happens to be an identical twin, so one wonders what’s going on in the hero’s head. Cross made that work, too.

Good secondary characters, too. I recommend this book.