Troublemaker, Linda Howard

I have friends (and bloggers/reviewers) I know personally and trust who loved this book. Who swore it was Linda Howard returning to when she was awesome. I have one thing to say to all of them…

Were we reading the same book?

I listened to this book, and I was bored out of my freaking mind. When the best character in the book is the DOG, maybe Ms. Howard needed a better beta reader or editor.

Most of this book is told via the Morgan (hero) and Bo’s (heroine) thoughts. And if you can believe it, I finished this book less than 24 hours ago and I couldn’t remember their names. I just had to look them up, they were THAT forgettable.

 There’s very little dialogue between the two. It starts out with Morgan getting shot, he goes to recuperate at Bo’s, and WEEKS (months?) pass. Lots of walking the dog, watching the dog do tricks, watching the townspeople adore the dog, and Bo whining in her head about cooking. Oh, and her scowling and swearing about how much she hates her stepbrother (Morgan’s boss) though we never find out why, other than some vague reference to him being a bratty older stepbrother for 6 months when they were kids. Bo needs to get over it or get a therapist.

The mystery as to who shot Morgan was never really investigated, that we saw. Lots of talks of traps set by Morgan’s boss, and waiting, but Morgan was pretty passive through this entire book, which I didn’t totally buy.

There was more time spent focused on a subplot of a divorce between two townspeople than there was about who was trying to kill Morgan. And that question was answered after a quick conversation that takes place in the last 60 or so pages. Maybe if Morgan had spent more time spent going through his memories and less time spent admiring the dog, the book might be more suspenseful. And interesting.

The only part of this book that felt like Classic Linda Howard was the sex. Once they FINALLY got started it was plentiful and hot. Here Morgan’s a stereotypical LH hero: Has the largest dick the heroine’s ever played with, and he knows how to use it. It’s the best sex the heroine ever had, and she’s walking a little funny.

All in all, though, I was bored and I should have skipped this one. I’ve read worse, but I always expect so much more out of Linda Howard. Now I’m off to re-listen to Mr. Perfect.

RATING: 2 Stars.

Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks

Jessica Clare, Once Upon A Billionaire

WARNING: Major spoilers and cranky ranting ahead! You’ve been warned!

I have a…volatile relationship with this series. I read the first book, Stranded with a Billionaire, I was intrigued. Wasn’t the best thing I ever read, but it was entertaining and told a solid story. I was interested enough to keep an eye out for the next books in the Billionaire Boys Club series.

Then came book 2, Beauty and the Billionaire. I loved this book more than…well….I don’t even know what. I read about 250 books last year. Of those I gave 5-stars to 15. Of those 15 only 9 books were new reads in 2013. Beauty and the Billionaire was one of those 5 stars. It was AMAZING. Tortured, scarred, virgin hero (yes, hero). Sexy, fun, feisty heroine who isn’t afraid of him or his scars. Hot sex, REALLY hot foreplay, and an amazing romance which satisfied me on all levels. I was in love!

Book 3. Oh, The Wrong Billionaire’s Bed, how I wanted to love you. I had high expectations because of my love for book 2. Ms. Clare was an author who had proven herself to me with 2 strong previous books, one of which was a favorite of the year. I was excited! I couldn’t wait to read it! I should have waited. Blech. I can’t rehash all I disliked about this book right now. It’s still too painful and would take waaaay too long. Lucky for you, I previously reviewed it. (Spoiler alert: REALLY didn’t like it).

Now here we are at book 4, Once Upon a Billionaire. I must admit to being worried about starting this book. Of the 3 previous books in this series, one was good, one was OMG amazing and one was OMG light it on fire and watch it burn. Which was this book going to be?

Good news: I didn’t want to light it on fire. Bad news: It was a VERY close call.

This book opens when Gretchen, the heroine in book 2 whom I ADORED in her book, does something so mean and cruel and bitchy it’s shocking. And she does it all thinking it’s FUNNY. We had previously met Maylee in book 2 in Hunter’s office. He’s hired her as his assistant, and she’s a total country mouse here in NYC. She uses post-its all over the office to try and keep things straight and uses all sorts of “country” colloquilisms. According to Hunter and Gretchen, Maylee is totally incompetent, but sweet as can be and Hunter is too soft-hearted to fire her.

So what does Gretchen do? Send Maylee, WITHOUT ANY WARNING, to get on a plane to go overseas with Hunter’s friend Griffin. Gretchen doesn’t tell Maylee she’s on her way to the royal wedding of the century. Gretchen basically sets Maylee up to fail as spectacularly as possible so that Maylee will embarrass Griff in front of his snooty royal family. And Gretchen thinks this is HYSTERICAL. Hunter doesn’t stop her. We get the impression he thinks it’s kind of cute what she’s doing. At NO POINT does anyone acknowledge how crushing emotionally this would be for Maylee. To be humiliated in front of ROYALTY, which includes Griff’s family, and most likely the press and all because Gretchen thought she was being funny and getting Griff back for being mean to her. Gretchen is a woman whom Maylee thinks is looking out for her. Maylee thinks Gretchen is HELPING her by getting her a temp job which pays really well so Maylee can send more money back home and help her family out, when really Gretchen is being a total [bleep] who is neither cute nor entertaining. And she sure isn’t anyone I’d want in MY corner. Later when Griff legitimately calls Hunter for advice, Gretchen hijacks the conversation, blows Griff off and jumps Hunter while Griff is still talking to him and then hangs up on Griff. Nice. With friends like these…

I was so angry at this point I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to continue the book. I finally decided to go ahead. How bad could it be, right? It HAS to get better, doesn’t it?

Who knew I was still this gullible?

No, it didn’t get better, In fact, it got worse. Griff proceeds to spend the entire book humiliating Maylee. He yells at her in front of others, scolds and corrects her constantly, physically drags her out of rooms and away from people by the arm like she’s a child having a tantrum, makes fun of her speech, belittles her skills, doesn’t care AT ALL that she’s handing out lots of her own cash to tip staff because he never carries any money, and is basically an all-around douchecanoe. He doest see she’s been doing her job spectacularly well, and everyone who has interacted with them has LOVED him, because that’s the way she played it. But when she is friendly to the driver, Griff has him replaced. God forbid anyone actually smile in his presence.

But his behavior is okay, because he realizes he loves her, and proves it by writing it on his palm like he’s in Junior High. Oh, and after she leaves him (temporarily, unfortunately) he shows up in full royal regalia, complete with medals and ribbons and ceremonial whosiewhatsits at her momma’s rusted out trailer in the backwoods.

Yeah, because that’s what you should do to make sure the family of the woman you “love” approve of you…show up rubbing their noses in how much money and power you have. Ugh.

He then whisks her off to his townhouse where she agrees to continue working for him, even though he has a full-time assistant he’s happy with and has had for years. But she agrees to let him pay her until she can trust him not to break her heart. I wanted to tell her to take the money and RUN. He has ZERO respect for her, why would she think it would get better?

Want to know how long she lasts? DAYS. Seriously. She decides after a few days and a surprise proposal that OMG SHE TRUSTS HIM! HE’S THE BEST GUY EVER! He proposes with this ring which is part of a set she wore earlier in the book.

It wasn’t the most elegant or dainty of rings. Like the rest of the Verdi Emeralds, it was very old, square cut, and surrounded by tiny diamonds. It was a hideous beast of a ring.

The rock on her finger was weighing her entire hand down, and it was a rather ugly cuss of a ring, but it meant that she belonged to Griffin and so she loved it.

Why bother buying a new ring which fits your “beloved” when you can give her an “ugly cuss of a ring”? Also, he manages to get through an entire “romantic” proposal without once saying he loves her. According to him, he knows how much she worries she’s not good enough for him, so he tells her how he “values” her. He thinks she’s the “most beautiful, most worthy woman” he’s ever met and he’s never considered offering anyone this ring until her. Oh, and he’s “rather proud of [his] woman.”

Wow. There’s a proposal worthy of a fairy tale. Who wouldn’t be swept off their feet by that? Personally I’d like to sweep his head off his shoulders with a good baseball bat, but that’s just me.

I wish I could say I’m breaking up with this author. Really. I do. Unfortunately, there’s one more book in this series, and I’m just masochistic enough to want to finish the series to see if it gets any better. I’m inclined to think not, as it looks like the next book is all about the heroine forgiving her father and the guy who left her. Because EVERYTHING should be forgiven, right?


Let’s meet back here after book 5 comes out and see if I’m right. And see if I’m still cranky.

Lynda the Guppy
aka Guppy Who Dislikes Frog Princes
aka The Fish With Sticks

Rating: 2 Stars. I guess.