End of the Year Round Up

During this time of year I am usually on auto-pilot.  Working in retail means I only have energy to get myself to work, run around there all day, get myself home, eat something unhealthy for me and crash.  I did find time for a lot of reading, though, and I kept it pretty light.  These books bring the total books read for 2010 to 102! I still have 5 books that I started this year and haven’t finished yet and I read a book this week that won’t be published until February and I don’t want to review it too early so I will count that for 2011.

95. Sweet Mary
by Liz Balmaseda

I was still in the mood for fiction with Latina characters so I pulled this one off of my bookshelf where it has been sitting for almost a year. Dulce Maria (Mary) Guevara is a real estate agent on the rise in Miami.  After divorcing her husband she has landed on her feet and is raising her son and closing big deals.  She innocently answers the door to her home one day and finds DEA agents surrounding her.  They ransack her home, arrest her, accuse her of being a high level drug trafficker.  Even though the charges are eventually dropped,  Mary has lost her job and custody of her son.  She then takes it upon herself to clear her name and find the real cocaine queen she has been mistaken for.  It was a quick moving, action-packed story with some humor and romance. Loved it.

96. Falling Out of Fashion
by Karen Yampolsky
I was still in the mood for fiction with Latina characters so I pulled this one off of my bookshelf where it has been sitting for almost a year. Dulce Maria (Mary) Guevara is a real estate agent on the rise in Miami.  After divorcing her husband she has landed on her feet and is raising her son and closing big deals.  She innocently answers the door to her home one day and finds DEA agents surrounding her.  They ransack her home, arrest her, accuse her of being a high level drug trafficker.  Even though the charges are eventually dropped,  Mary has lost her job and custody of her son.  She then takes it upon herself to clear her name and find the real cocaine queen she has been mistaken for.  It was a quick moving, action-packed story with some humor and romance. Loved it.

97. Jared’s Counterfeit Fiancee
by Brenda Jackson

Dana Rollins’ fiancè has ended their engagement and through a lawyer, requested the ring back.  Dana feels that she should be able to keep it, but his lawyer, Jared Westmoreland, convinces her that it will help with closure. Grateful for his help in allowing her to see that point of view, she says that she will do a favor for him one day.  Jared collects on that favor when he needs a date to a family function so that his mother will stop pestering him about settling down.  That date turns into an elaborate lie that eventually leads Dana and Jared to each other.  This book is out of print and I read it as an e-book, but it will be re-published in January 2011 under a new name, Claimed for Destiny.

98. Controversy
by Adrianne Byrd

Michael Adams is known as the troublemaker of all her sisters (they all have male names), so it doesn’t come as a surprise when she is looked at as a suspect in her ex-husband’s disappearance.  Kyson Dekker, the detective assigned to the case is torn between doing his job and his attraction for Michael.  There was a lot of humor in this, but since I didn’t really care for the Michael character, I didn’t care for the book. Almost didn’t finish.

99. Love Takes Time
by Adrianne Byrd

Alyssa Jansen’s father worked as a live-in personal chef to the wealthy Hinton family so she grew up with the Hinton brothers, Quentin and Sterling.  Her childhood crush on Quentin was widely known about by everyone in the family and on staff.  Quentin, the consummate flirt, never took the little girl seriously, while Sterling ignored her altogether.  When and adult Alyssa, now a successful model, returns to the home for her father’s wedding, the brothers begin to see her in a new light.

100. The Husband Habit
by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

I didn’t read this when it was first published because I was mad at the author for something she said on Twitter. Yes, I’m petty like that sometimes.  Anyway, time heals all wounds and I walked past it in the store the other day and decided to pick it up. I’m glad I did.  Vanessa Duran is a chef at an Albuquerque restaurant owned by a popular food personality.  Everyone loves the food, but they have no idea that Vanessa is the real genius behind the menu.  On the personal front, she has just ended a streak of unwittingly dating men who turn out to be married. Her sister has to leave the country and asks Vanessa to look in on their parents while she is gone and by the way, stay away from the new neighbor next door.  She’s afraid that Vanessa’s bad dating habits will rear their ugly heads.  It turns out that upon initially meeting the neighbor, Paul, that she is not interested.  But Paul has other ideas. This book was a total departure from what Valdes-Rodriguez normally writes.  She’s known as the “Queen of Chica-Lit”, novels that showcase Latinas.  This time around she explores more romantic, flowery language, especially when talking about the food culture that Vanessa loves so much.  That style of writing turned a lot of reviewers off, but I quite liked it and the book very much.

101. Freefall to Desire
by Kayla Perrin

Brianne Kenyon’s fiancè disappeared during a hiking trip three years ago and she still harbors anger towards the authorities and his hiking partner and best friend, Alex, for not doing more to find him.  Just when she decides that she’s had enough and is ready to move on, Alex shows up at her doorstep bringing it all back up again with the news that he thinks her fiancè is still alive. Their search for the truth behind his disappearance brings them closer together and Alex’s true feelings about Brianne are revealed.

102. Boardroom Seduction
by Anita Bunkley

Kacey Parker has worked her way up through the ranks at a major department store, but what she really wants is to fulfill her dream of being a swimwear designer.  Her boss gives her a chance to produce her line for the store but she will have to travel from NYC to a small town in Texas to oversee the production of the line.  She shows up expecting to work with “old man Archer”, when instead she meets the new owner of the production facility, his son, Leon Archer, Jr.  Getting involved with the town’s ladies man is not in her plans when she knows she must return home when her work is finished.

94. Heart of the Falcon

by Francis Ray

This is a reissue, but it was during the time when I wasn’t reading much romance, so I somehow missed it.  Then again I may have read it and just forgot!  

Madelyn Taggart fell in love with a picture.  She saw a picture of Daniel Falcon, one of her brother’s friends and set out to meet him but somehow never did.

Until one day, while on vacation, she gets stuck in a rainstorm and seeks cover in a hotel lobby where she runs into Daniel, literally.  They wind up spending the day together taking in the sights and going their separate ways back to their homes in separate cities.  But circumstances, special and otherwise, draw them together again around something neither can deny.

93. Tempt Me at Midnight

by Maureen Smith
Lexi Austin is feeling like a third wheel at a New Year’s Eve masked ball at her friend’s home in France.  Everyone else seems to be paired off, so she escapes to the balcony during the festivities.  But when the clock strikes midnight, a masked stranger kisses her and its not until she hears his voice that she realizes its her best friend since college, Quentin Reddick.
They both try to play off the kiss as a one time thing, but soon realize after spending time together sightseeing and resuming their regular lives back in the States that there might be something more to the longtime friendship. It just may take a while to realize it.

92. The Three Kings

A Christmas Dating Story
by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

I’m still in the mood for fiction by Latina authors and Valdes-Rodriguez is one of my all time favorites and I’ve read all her adult novels.

This time around she tells the story of Christy de la Cruz, a highly successful interior designer to high end clients in New Mexico.  After her marriage ends, she finds herself turning to the internet and dating books like The Rules to piece her love life back together.  At the end of her romantic rope, she prays to the Virgin Mary to send her some single, eligible men to date (because The Rules suggest you date more than one guy at a time).  Soon after, at a family gathering, her cousin Maggie introduces her to three men who happen to be cousins (to each other, not to Maggie and Christy).  The men are named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar…yes, like the Three Kings in the Nativity Story.

Maggie suggests sort of a dating experiment and Christy must go out on three dates with each of these very different cousins to decide which one is more of a match for her.  Unorthodox, of course, but very funny!

91. Waking Up In The Land of Glitter

by Kathy Cano-Murillo

What a fun, fun, book! I won it last year on Goodreads and just got around to reading it.  Partly because I wanted to read something funny and partly because I really need inspiration to get creative and most fiction revolving around crafting is geared toward 70 year old ladies!

I’m so mad at myself for waiting so long, because I loved it.  La Pachanga restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona serves great Mexican food and acts as and art space for local artists.  Estrella “Star” Esteban, whose family owns the business, acts as its biggest champion and marketer.  A little flighty, she sees herself as an artist as well, but leans more toward fine art and hates anything “crafty” that involves glitter.  One night Star makes a series of bad decisions and her parents give her an ultimatum to get her life together and commit to something.

Ever the crafty (pun intended) one, Star puts a plan in motion that brings together and unlikely cast of characters to participate in a national craft competition that could prove lucrative for La Pachanga, including her best friend, Ofelia, a wife and mother who escapes her stressful life (and mother-in-law drama) by crafting to the point of obsession and her new acquaintance, Chloe Chavez, a local television personality , known for her craft segments and aims to be the next Martha.

Waking Up In the Land of Glitter reminded me how much I love reading popular fiction by Latina authors.  The inclusion of the diversity of Mexican and Hispanic culture make the story so much richer and I learned a lot.  That makes a great book to me.  The author is an accomplished crafter and you can see her incredible work at CrafyChica.com.  She even includes instructions to make some of crafts featured in the back of the book.  Her second novel, Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing is due out in March and you can guarantee that I’ll be the first in line to buy a copy!

90. Seduction Westmoreland Style

by Brenda Jackson

I think I should be pretty much done with the Westmoreland series now. There’s just so many of them! And once you add in their friends and the families of their spouses, it really can go on forever.

Casey Westmoreland has just become reacquainted with the father she thought was deceased.  To help foster the new relationship, she closes her clothing boutique in Texas and moves to Montana to be closer to him and the family she never knew.  It will also give her a chance to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a horse trainer and she hopes that family friend, McKinnon Quinn will give her the opportunity to work on his ranch.

Even though her experience and training more than qualifies her for the job, what she doesn’t count on is coming up against McKinnon’s “no women on the ranch” rule. The rule was enacted in the aftermath of his last disastrous relationship.  Casey must then set out to prove to McKinnon that she belongs there.

89. People Who Deserve It

by Casey Rand and Tim Gordon

Let’s face it, people are getting ruder.  I don’t know why, they just are.  Although I don’t have empirical data and proof, I have worked in retail for the last 20+ years and I know what I’m talking about.  That enough makes me want to punch people in the face.  Also, I ride public transportation, which is filled with multiple “face-punching” opportunities per ride.

This is a cute little book (they would probably punch me for saying “cute”) that lists several offenders that society wouldn’t condemn you for punching.  The real life offender that prompted them to start their popular blog, peoplewhodeserveit.com? “Girl Who Talks On Cell Phone in Holocaust Museum”.  Other punchable people include people who walk too slow on urban sidewalks, leave long voicemails, and the sloppy sandwich maker (thank God they don’t employ any at the Subway that I go to.).

They also shout out people who don’t deserve it and they time-travel to the past and future to punch people there.  Also, each post gives instructions on how to punch that person, if you need that.  Sometimes laugh out loud funny.  Which is why someone has probably labeled me Girl Who Laughs Too Loudly On The Train.

88. Ian’s Ultimate Gamble

by Brenda Jackson
(read as an e-book)
Brooke Chamberlain is an FBI agent whose job is very important to her.  She is sent on an informal assignment to a casino/spa to keep an eye on things because of some chatter about illegitimate dealings.  Brooke is looking forward to some R & R, but doesn’t want to run into the casino’s owner, Ian Westmoreland.  Their past relationship was a casualty of her career when she arrested his business partner.
Ian has worked hard trying to forget Brooke and doesn’t trust the situation when she turns up at his casino. One thing they both can be assured of though, it that neither one is over the other.

87. The Chase is On

by Brenda Jackson

(read as e-book, but it looks like a book version will be re-published in 2011.)

This is part of the highly enjoyable and extensive Westmoreland series.  Jessica Claiborne left her law career to follow her true passion of cooking. She moves from California to Georgia to open a chocolate shop and to hopefully clear the name of her deceased grandfather.  He was accused years earlier by his best friend, a restaurateur, of stealing secret family recipes and selling them to a competitor.  Jessica has no idea that her new shop is just steps away from Chase Westmoreland’s…the grandson of her grandfather’s accuser.  

Their attraction for each other is undeniable but Jessica struggles whether to tell Chase who she really is now or should she wait until her investigation into their grandparent’s history is complete.

86. Scandal Between The Sheets

by Brenda Jackson

Now that I’ve discovered e-books, I have been going back and reading books by some of my favorite romance authors that are now out of print. No, I don’t have an e-reader (I sell them but I can’t afford one myself!), but I read on my iPod. It’s not as bad as it sounds.

This book starts off pretty funny as Jasmine Carmody, a reporter, is going through the garbage of Wesley Brooks, a dot.com millionaire.  She’s hoping to dig up some information on Abraham Danforth a candidate for senate and Wesley’s surrogate father.  When Wesley catches her, he assumes that she is a homeless person and offers her money for food!  Jasmine turns down the money and runs (literally) and leaves behind a family heirloom.  Wesley soon realizes who she is and what she’s up to and turns the tables on her and starts to stalk her instead as a way of keeping her away from his adopted family.  That backfires when the attraction between them can’t be denied.