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Monthly Archives: July 2008

Death Angel

Death Angel: A Novel
Linda Howard

Dear Ms. Howard, welcome back.

I've been bored by your last couple of books.  I mostly read them out of continuing loyalty.  But I didn't enjoy the craziness of the plots, the unsympathetic heroines, or the ridiculous amount of detail involved in describing (step by boring step) how to survive the wilderness (me? not a camper).  But you have returned to top form in this book, which I stayed up until 3:30 a.m. to finish in one sitting. 

This book is not a usual romance story.  The heroine is a drug lord's eye candy and the hero is an assassin.  But the chemistry is sizzling and the plot fast-paced (mostly).  It's difficult to review the book without some spoilers.  I will attempt to keep them to a minimum.

The basic set up is this – Drea steals $2 million from the drug lord she has been with for the past two years after he carelessly betrays her.  The drug lord sends the assassin after her.  Drea is given a second chance at life when she is believed to be dead.  But of course, she can never be truely safe until the drug lord is dead.

Drea is supposed to be a bad girl turned good.  But as we get to know Drea, we see that Drea was never that bad to begin with.  True, she hooked up with a drug dealer.  But I think she was just lost and emotionally shut off (due to some traumatic event in her life before) and is merely looking for financial security.  The hero, on the other hand, we don't see his motivation very much.  I definitely felt his love for Drea.  But I never really got why he was an assassin to begin with.  In that sense, I never felt that he was "heroic."  

Oh, Ms. Howard did get bogged down in the minute details a bit in this book, but nowhere near the level of details in her last wilderness survivial story.  For example, I skimmed over the stuff about when banks transfer money, how the IRS checks any transfers over $10,000 blah blah blah.  Drea is supposed to only pretend to be the blonde bimbo but is actually quite bright.  The details about the difficulties Drea faced in getting her money after successfully stealing it was not only boring, but also made Drea seem a bit stupid or at least, someone who did not think too far ahead. 

But like I said, the book is hot, fast-paced, and an entertaining read.  I wouldn't say it's Ms. Howard's best effort, but it's certainly her best effort in years.  This is a solid B.

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Private Arrangements

Private Arrangements
Sherry Thomas

I actually have two other books I need to review before this one.  But given such strong reactions to this book on Dear Author and by Janicu, I decided to give my two cents here first.

First, I have to say, I hate Sherry Thomas.  No, not the book.  I enjoyed the book.  But Sherry Thomas, I hate – because she is living my dream.  Did you know Sherry Thomas is a Chinese woman who came to the U.S. when she was 13 years old?  Hello - I was 10!  Did you know Sherry Thomas went to school in Louisiana?  Hello, I grew up in the South!  I sort of picture her holding her English-Chinese dictionary in one hand and her Jane Austin in the other as she devours book after book.  Just like I did!  Ok, not really.  More likely I just skipped over the words I didn't know.  hehe.  Maybe this is why Ms. Thomas has now written a lovely historical romance whereas I am a boring … well, whatever.  *sigh*   Actually, that's not the only reason.  I know I can never be a wordsmith of her level and craft an "unputdownable" novel like she has.  So Ms. Thomas, hats off to you.

Now for the book.  Gigi and Camden have been living apart since the day after their wedding … 10 years ago.  (Every time I come across this fact in the book, I hear Janicu's voice going … *teeeennnnnn yeeeeaaaarsss!!*  Actually, since all the reviews I've come across lamented over this 10 year thing, it wasn't as big a deal for me.)  Camden came back when Gigi petitioned for divorce so she can marry another.  Camden agrees to a divorce – as soon as Gigi provides him with an heir.  This sets the scene.

I loved Gigi.  I really got a sense of who Gigi is – a strong woman, a practical woman, a vulnerable woman.  After being a victim of a fortune hunter in an incident that almost cost her her life, Gigi set her goals and went about in a systematic way to achieve it.  It's her way of taking control. 

On the other hand, I hated Camden.  I bascially blame him for everything that happened in this book. The big mistake Gigi made was lying to Camden and allowing him to think the woman he pledged himself to was engaged and married to another.  This lie, in fact, became the truth.  Only it didn't happen fast enough to suit Gigi.  When Camden finds out, the day before the wedding, instead of acting like a grown up, he decides to marry Gigi anyway, have his wedding night with her, and leave her for teeeennnn yeeearrrs!!!  Stupid man.

Gigi is very sympathetic to me.  She told the lie because it was obvious Camden and the woman he pledged himself to were not a good match just as it was obvious Camden and Gigi were a good match.  I could feel how unbearable it was for Gigi to not act and to let Camden go.  Gigi knows her actions were wrong and dishonorable and she's never forgiven herself for it.  I think this is why she allowed Camden to be so mean to her, because she believes she deserves the punishment (but she doesn't!).

The reason Camden stayed away for ten years is mostly due to his obstinancy.  He is constantly fighting with himself because he wants Gigi but he can't get over her deception.  He absolutely refuses to see the reason behind her actions.  Around year five, Camden almost loses it and goes back to Gigi.  But he misses the boat, literally.  What does he do at that point?  Sit on his ass for another five years. 

I loved how the plot turned around and now Camden realizes that Gigi is pledged to the wrong man for her.  And he finally feels some of the same pain and helplessness and desparation that Gigi felt before.  But instead of realizing this is the exact same situation from ten years ago and apologizing to Gigi and understanding why she did what she did, he LEAVES and makes her come to him.  WTF!!!  Camden needs to be on his knees begging Gigi to take him back.  Instead, he decides he would not do what she did to him (because he's a better person? because he's learned from her mistakes? bah!), and let her be the one to realize she is picking the wrong man, break her pledge, and come back to him.  I wish Camden would get off his high horse and just be a man.

Can you tell that I loved Gigi?  Camden, not so much.  I just don't see what's so special about him that she could forgive the way he's acted toward her for the past ten years. And in particular the way he acted toward her after he came back.  He came back basically to continue punishing her and get some booty in while he's at it. People make mistakes.  Get over it.  There is no point in being an honorable ass.

Hmm. You might think from this review that I didn't like the book.  But in fact, I did.  I actually enjoyed the book very much.  Actually, I didn't realize how much Camden annoyed me until I wrote this review.  All in all, this book lived up to the high expectation I got from all the reviews.  I would give it a B+. 

P.S.  I have to say that similar sentiment regarding Camden is expressed in Janet's review of this book on Dear Author.