Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"The Flirt" by Kathleen Tessaro

"I'm going to seduce you." Tantalizing words written on an ivory card. It is the first clue that will lead an intrigued and intriguing London lady on an odyssey of sensual experience designed to awaken her romantic nature. Out-of-work actor Hughie Venable-Smythe has found a profitable new outlet for his talents. He is hired, often by distraught husbands, to flirt with wives who are feeling neglected in their relationships. His current seductive campaign is focused on Olivia, the spouse of a narcissistic billionaire, and the lady is responding quite nicely to the cream-colored missives he secretly leaves for her. So nicely, in fact, that Hughie decides to employ a similar technique - and shockingly similar messages - in his pursuit of his own heart's desire: the aloof and charming lingerie designer, Leticia. But the canny, professional flirt's brazen anonymous intrusions into the lives of two women are about to set in motion a series of remarkable events that no one could have anticipated - setting the stage for shocking revelations about love, friendship, and domestic bliss.

Tessaro is the author of two previous books, "Elegance" and "Innocence", both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. This one sounded good, too, so I finally got around to reserving it a few weeks ago. And it is good, but it's not exactly what the back of the book leads you to believe...

Hugie is an out-of-work actor, but when we first meet him, he's looking for a job. He's also flirting with a coffee-shop waitress, trying to get her to put his coffee on account, seeing as how he's left his AMEX card at home (a very old line that he's worked to death, but the waitress has a soft spot in her heart for him, usually paying for his coffee herself). He answers an ad in the paper, and thus is hired on to learn the art of flirting. We follow him on this journey, and at no time would I really call him a "professional" at this new endeavor; he fails much more than he succeeds, and indeed, it's these failures that cause the "series of remarkable events".

There's a rather large cast of characters, but Tessaro does an excellent job of developing each one. I never felt like anyone got slighted as far as their story went, and the different plot lines dovetailed nicely. The only complaint I really have is the twist that occurs close to the end of the book involving Hughie; I can't say any more for fear of giving it away, but I found myself thinking it was a little too staged and preposterous. Still, this is a nice work, a little more serious than your usual Chick Lit offering.

Look for Tessaro's next book, "The Debutante", in stores this October.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Pleasure of a Dark Prince" by Kresley Cole

Cole is now up to Book 7 in her Immortals After Dark series, and I suppose it's a lucky number for her. There's nothing really new here, but then again, if it ain't broke, don't fix it - right? The usual sort of plot awaits the reader of this book, but damned if you won't find yourself turning the page for more, and more, and more....

Lucia the Huntress is the heroine of our story. She's one of the Valkyrie, having made a deal with a goddess long ago for her archery abilities. She's the best archer on the planet, having agreed to stay celibate in exchange for her life; she's also struck with excruciating pain any time she misses a shot.

Garreth MacRieve, aka "the dark prince", is our grumpy Scottish lykae hero. While playing rugby, he catches the scent of his mate, and starts to chase after her. Of course, that woman is Lucia - the one woman who cannot be with him under any circumstances for fear of losing her goddess-given gift (and possibly her life). It's going to take all the Scot's cunning and manly wiles to woo her to his bed.

And what good is an old-fashioned wooing without the elements of danger and deception? After the two would-be mates meet, we fast-forward an entire year with the Ascension quickly nearing (a sort of supernatural free-for-all, with a few winners and lots of losers). Lucia must keep Crom Cruach, the Broken Bloody One, from escaping his prison and wreaking havoc on humans. She needs MacRieve's help to locate the prison this time around, but she also needs him to stay away when the actual fight ensues; turns out old BBO can infect others to make them kill the ones they love they most, and by this time, of course Garreth and Lucia love each other, even if they won't admit it. Why is Lucia immune? Well, it turns out that she's BBOs wife...

It's the usual cast of characters from Cresley, especially the Valkyries. I was happy as always to see Nix, the crazy but adorable seer of the bunch. Someday she's going to get her own story, and that's the one I'm really waiting for! The plot isn't bad, the action is well-written, and the romance - well, the romance may be the only thing that I had a problem with. I loved MacRieve, but Lucia was a bit too "I am woman, hear me roar" for me. I don't want the damsel in distress who can't do anything for herself, but there is such a thing as protesting too much, and Lucia protested in spades. Also, the sex scenes started off nicely, but by the end of the book I found myself skimming over them, never a good sign. I'm not sure if there were too many of them or if the writing took a nose-dive; judge for yourself.

Look for Book 8 in this series, "Demon from the Dark", late next month (August 2010).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"What Would Satan Do? Cartoons about right, wrong, and very, very wrong" by Pat Byrnes

I wasn't very familiar with Pat Byrnes before I picked up this wondeful collection of his cartoons. He's evidently done a lot of work for The New Yorker, which is why he's well-known (to certain people - certainly not to me). I picked this up because I loved the title, not to mention the subtitle.

According to the introduction by the author, this book came about as a direct reaction to the phrase "What Would Jesus Do?" - something the author now believes is very overused. And really, how helpful is it to ask what Jesus would do in any given situation? Wouldn't it be more helpful to ask what Satan would do, and then do the exact opposite? Sure it would! Thus, the cartoons included in the book.

The humor runs the gamut here, from overt to subtle, from hilarious to groan-inducing. The artwork is great, with a mix of black & white and color 'toons. And I thought they were all quite funny. For example, one of my favorites shows two older, obviously rich, gentleman sitting in front of a fireplace. They have on their smoking jackets and slippers, and each has a glass of what appears to be brandy. The thinner of the two is looking at his companion and says "Release the hounds! That's your answer to everything." Too funny!

This won't take you long to read, maybe a half hour tops, so my advice is to see if your local library has it. Unless you really, really enjoy it, in which case you could certainly afford to buy it at the very reasonal rate of $14.95.