Tag Archives: February 2012

Review: Table for One by Ros Clarke

Liz’s Review:

Table for One by Ros Clarke
Contemporary Romance released by Entangled Publishing on February 13, 2012

When food critic Claudia Thomas gets dumped on Valentine’s Day, she finds herself occupying a table for one at London’s hottest new restaurant. If her job wasn’t on the line, she’d skip the whole affair, but her editor’s waiting for a review—and with luck, an interview with sexy chef Ward Nicholls. Ward, intrigued by the single woman in a restaurant full of couples, sets out to tease her palate. Claudia has never tasted anything so luscious as the special meal Ward prepares for her, but when the seduction moves from the restaurant to his bedroom, Claudia discovers the only thing more tempting than his food is the chef himself. Their connection is instantaneous, sizzling, and spicy—until Claudia comes clean about her job, reopening a wound Ward had thought long-healed. Could one accidental lie of omission end a delicious relationship before it even has a chance to start?

This short story revolves around the idea of one lie of omission being the thing that potentially destroys a relationship before it gets off the ground.  There is nothing new to the premise, and unfortunately, the author fails to bring anything to the table but the occasional witty bit of dialogue.

Claudia is spineless and weak.  She makes the wrong choices time and again and then is surprised when she loses the person she most wanted to have.  While her bossiness is funny at times, it grew stale quickly, and she appeared to be a very one-dimensional character.

Ward is the stereotyped overworked chef who takes an opportunity to seduce a woman with his food and then changes his mind when he finds out her occupation.  Ward has past demons to battle so it’s no surprise when he flies off the handle about Claudia’s selective truth.  He’s a shallow character at best, taking something that happened to his parents as a child and using it as a shield.  While that does happen in real life, it feels tacked on and trite so his reaction to the truth seems over the top and childish.

There is little more that annoys me in books then when characters do something so patently stupid just so that it creates tension in the story.  Claudia has several inner monologues about revealing her occupation as a reviewer to Ward, knowing that it is important to share it, but each time she decides to leave things as they are.  The very little bit of drama in the story was created by the heroine herself and left a lot to be desired.

The story could have been helped a great deal by adding to the length.  It’s quite a short book, and by choosing a shorter length, the author didn’t give the characters depth and time to shine, and to go further into their relationship.  The book is a quick read with a happy ending, but no surprises.  While I didn’t hate the book, I certainly won’t be reading it again.

Grade: D

You can read an excerpt of the book here, or buy it here.

Review: Love is a Battlefield by Tamara Morgan

Liz’s Review of: 

Love is a Battlefield by Tamara Morgan
Contemporary romance released by Samhain Publishing February 14, 2012

It takes a real man to wear a kilt. And a real woman to charm him out of it.
Games of Love, Book 1
It might be modern times, but Kate Simmons isn’t willing to live a life without at least the illusion of the perfect English romance. A proud member of the Jane Austen Regency Re-Enactment Society, Kate fulfills her passion for courtliness and high-waisted gowns in the company of a few women who share her love of all things heaving.
Then she encounters Julian Wallace, a professional Highland Games athlete who could have stepped right off the covers of her favorite novels. He’s everything brooding, masculine, and, well, heaving. The perfect example of a man who knows just how to wear his high sense of honor—and his kilt.
Confronted with a beautiful woman with a tongue as sharp as his sgian dubh, Julian and his band of merry men aren’t about to simply step aside and let Kate and her gaggle of tea-sippers use his land for their annual convention. Never mind that “his land” is a state park—Julian was here first, and he never backs down from a challenge.
Unless that challenge is a woman unafraid to fight for what she wants…and whose wants are suddenly the only thing he can think about.
Warning: The historical re-enactments in this story contain very little actual history. Battle chess and ninja stars may apply.

Love is a Battlefield is a clever book, combining the allure of Scotland and regency decadence in modern times.  Julian, as the president of the Scottish Highland Society, is in charge of the games and has once more chosen the same venue they use every year.  Kate is a member of the Jane Austen Regency Reenactment Society and, after a debacle at a ball in which her best friend invited strippers, Kate is now in charge of finding a place to hold their annual gathering.  It should come as no surprise that she wants the same public park as Julian.  Let the battle begin!

Kate is a woman who is looking for that one great love – the perfect man, as she sees him from her romance novels.  She wants to be swept off her feet and worshipped for all eternity.  When she comes face to face with a man quite the opposite of what she pictures as her ideal, she winds up in a battle of wills with him that is about so much more than a tract of land in a public park.  For the first time, Kate decides to take a stand.  Not only for her friends in the reenactment society, but more importantly, for herself.  I cheered every time Kate put her foot down because Julian expected her to go along with whatever he wanted, even as I knew that every time she did, she drew closer to pushing him away for good.

Julian grew up idolizing his step-father who was a participant in the Highland Games.  When he passed away, Julian’s desire to reclaim his step-dad’s record from the current holder and his archenemy – Duke Kilroy III – and secure a coveted promotional deal with a whiskey company became everything to him.  He lived and breathed the Highland Games, believing that the secret to securing his mom and half-sisters’ financial welfare lay in those two things alone.  Julian is the perfect picture of an alpha male and the embodiment of everything a romance reader comes to think of when the term Scotland appears on the page: he is large, muscled, sexy, loyal to his friends, and wears a kilt with a roguish grin.  What he also is, however, is a very complex man, broken when he doesn’t know it, holding onto the ghost of the only man who ever thought he could be someone.  When he’s faced with the chance to grab onto real love, his internal struggles are heartbreaking, even more so when some harsh truths about his family are laid out for him.

The supporting characters in the book are as well drawn as the hero and heroine.  Both Kate and Julian have best friends, Julian’s Michael is a go-for-anything sort and Kate’s Jada is the devil on her shoulder.  Although we don’t meet Kate’s family, we do get a peek into Julian’s mom and half-sisters’ lives, and the value he places on them.

Love is a Battlefield is a very well written book that brings together two differing groups with equally stubborn leaders and tosses in a sexy adversary bent on taking everything from Julian and duping Kate in the process.  Kate is laugh-out-loud witty as she digs her heels in and sets her sights on the park, and Julian is frustratingly wrapped up in his precious games, proving to be that all too temping mix of rogue and knight.  When they go to war on a human-sized chessboard to decide who gets the park, the heat generated is enough to warm even the coldest heart.  But don’t think it’s that easy; no good romance ever gives the HEA up so fast.  You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens between the kilt-wearing warrior who spends the off-season as a construction worker, and the book-store manager who likes to dress up like Jane Austen in her free time.

It’s not too often that I come across a book that I can’t put down.  A book that, when I’m reading it, you’ll find me at the stove with a spatula in one hand and my kindle in the other.  But this is just such a book.  Once I picked up Love is a Battlefield, I positively couldn’t put it down.  Sleep beckoned.  Dogs whined to go outside.  My husband rolled his eyes.  And still, I read on until I finished it.  It’s everything I want in a true romance – the development of the characters and the intersecting of their lives is more important than the number of tumbles into bed, and the romance that blooms is one wrought from a marathon, not a sprint.

This book was so good I basically wanted to have sex with it, marry it, and raise a little family of Game of Love books.  I would highly recommend it to anyone with a thing for hot men with stubborn streaks, beautiful women with feisty temperaments and meddling friends, and loves their happily-ever-after to keep them on the edge of their seat, right to the very end.

Grade:  A+

You can read an excerpt here, or buy a copy here.