Reviews by Mary Novak

B-
Striptease

Striptease delivers on the naughtier-than-usual promises of the Harlequin Blaze line, and still manages to be a satisfying series read. While I wish that the story had more room to explore the more challenging questions it raises about women's careers, on the whole I enjoyed this book by new-to-me a ...

D+
An Uncommon Courtship

Many historical romances feature a secondary female character whose main purpose is to make the heroine look good. She's rude and whiny, has no self-control and less empathy, and spends most of her time in a snit. Now, in An Uncommon Courtship, one such brat stars in her very own book. Although ther ...

C-
Always a Thief

In Always A Thief, Kay Hooper's prose seems to be coated with Teflon. I found my eyes gliding over the words at a breakneck speed, and in the end, almost none of them stuck. While the story zips along amiably enough, by the end the most suspenseful question was whether the plot or the characters wou ...

F
Plum Girl

Consider this a public service announcement to the aspiring writers out there: when they say "Write what you know," they really aren't talking about the time you spent temping in an office full of incompetents. Join AmeriCorps, wait tables, take a cross-country bus trip...anything else to gain some ...

B
To Marry an Heiress

Hooray! Just after Robin's fascinating ATBF on the subject, here's an American-in-England historical that goes beyond stereotypes and makes the inevitable culture clash a major focus of the story. When an impoverished Earl marries a Texas heiress, the greatest challenge they face is reconciling thei ...

B+
Faking It

When a secondary character is so compelling that he screams "Hurry up with my sequel!" it's almost inevitable that he'll lose some of that luster when he finally gets his starring role. Davy Dempsey is no exception. I know I wasn't the only one sighing over the smooth-as-silk bad boy in Welcome To T ...

C-
The Diamond King

In general, pirate ships duke it out with harems for the Most Implausible Setting award, so it's refreshing to read a pirate romance that seems a little more in touch with reality. Unfortunately, the reality of pirate ships seems to be long stretches of tedium interrupted by short bursts of activity ...

C+
Flight Lessons

My review copy of Flight Lessons came with a press-kit interview with Patricia Gaffney in which she sums up her heroine's faults and virtues and the main conflict of the book. It's interesting stuff. Unfortunately, those two pages of summary seem more on-point than the first hundred pages of the boo ...

B-
Drive Me Wild

Some books are dark chocolate, some books are Limburger cheese. Drive Me Wild is a nice vanilla pudding of a book, featuring an appealing heroine and a hero who almost deserves her. Best of all, this series book is 100% cowboy, amnesia, and secret-baby-free. It's a grounded story about adults with r ...

C-
The Art of Desire

Often, the essence of a "C" read is the way it blends strikingly good qualities with painfully bad ones. This romantic suspense has some excellent moments, but oddly, none of them have much to do with the romance or the suspense. While The Art of Desire falls short, the positive elements show enough ...