Monday, October 24, 2011

Reading On The Train: "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" by Cara North

If you have been checking in from time to time, you know that hubby and I are on our BIG annual train trek, spanning the United States, moving from train to train, and having a ball doing it. Lugging suitcases around can be tiring, but at our age we don't get enough exercise anyway, so that has been all to our good. Moving from West to East, arriving in Boston, trekking North to Portland, Maine, then journeying South to Washington, D.C. and visiting friends who live nearby in Virginia, moving into my home state of Georgia and renewing friendship with long-time friends (that we met and got to know 49 years ago) near Atlanta, and now we are sitting a spell in the home of our oldest daughter who lives in Alabama. Hubby and daughter conspired to drive me to Nashville where we explored really old and unusual cars at the Lane Automobile Museum--absolutely a hoot and trip down memory lane--and an afternoon at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Special displays highlighting the talents and careers of Chet Atkins and Hank Williams, Jr were only a small part of the fun and really encountering a music genre that is uniquely American.

All that train riding makes time for computer games (that's hubby's thing), knitting afghans for church and friends, and, of course, READING!! As many of you have come to recognize, I like some of the older publications I missed out on in years past, and the two novels of Cara North I recently discovered were a treasure uncovered, to be sure. The titles caught my eye be
cause I really love country music and particularly liked the fun titles of these quirky songs.

Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off is a fun contemporary erotic romance about two people needing each other for different reasons and finding out that together they are one insatiable force. Bethany Dodson is running from her past and her fiancé. She needs a new last name and to get lost fast! Jack Johnson needs to marry a woman to get his inheritance so he can stop working on other ranches and rebuild the one he shares with his two older brothers and younger sister. When he meets Bethany, his goal is basically to get some action then get on searching for a wife. But Bethany kills two birds with one stone and the next thing he knows he's the one getting drug down the aisle! What they discover is more than just surface needs. They take each other to new heights in and out of the bedroom, push boundaries, and even fall in love!

What's a girl to do when she has everything money can buy, enough money to float a boat in her underwear drawer, and absolute certainty that she means nothing at all to her parents or the man who is "scheduled" to marry her? Why, she goes to Las Vegas, of course. She needs someone to marry her, give her a new name, let her begin a new life, and then he will be free--that is, if he wants to be free. In the same way, Jack Johnson needs a woman to marry, one who isn't a gold-digger, who can "put out" for at least three months, and who will gladly divorce him in three months--that is, if he is willing to let her go.

Thus the story of Bethany and Jack begins, tossing back shots of tequila, allowing their physical attraction to draw them into each other's sphere, daring one another to marry, and signing on the dotted line--temporarily, to be sure. Yet as life has a way of snookering us into surprises, so the attraction that these two explore and enjoy becomes the hook that seems to keep them connected as their respective stories unfold.

This story explores the healing power of love for a woman who knows her own mind, who has a killer education and plans to use it, and a curvy, voluptuous body she thinks of as fat. Yet Bethany is typical of many women who have incredible talent and learning but who are stunted by the disregard, disrespect, and actually be used rather than appreciated by the people who should have loved her best. Just the simple hugs Jack is willing to share, the fact that a gorgeous man seems to really be turned on by her body as well as her mind, has Bethany beginning to believe that she is loveable and can be valued for herself alone.

I found this novel to be so enjoyable, not really light-weight as it deals with some substantive issues that are unfortunately alive and well in the experience of a multitude of today's women. The loving is warm and inviting, the sex is incredible, and the story of how a relationship that began under less-than-optimum circumstances all combine to make a novel that is a joy to read and, might I add, re-read. Published in 2007, Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off is still contemporary and pertinent to the world of today's women. I highly recommend it as a novel that will warm your heart, massage your libido, and engage your mind as well. Don't miss this one. I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

Monday, October 17, 2011

On The Road Still . . . Reflections of an Amtrak Traveler

If you have been checking in, then you know that
we are on our Amtrak trek across the United States, and we are now in Virginia where we are visiting some long-time friends with whom we served in the Army nearly 50 years ago when we were all stationed in Berlin. It was a weary world then as it is now, and we were in the midst of what was then called "The Cold War." We have stayed in touch through the years, but this is the first time we have been together in nearly 16 years. Renewing old friendships is such fun, especially when we were surprised with the information that our friends were celebrating a wedding anniversary. We celebrated by driving along the ridges of the Blue Hills of Virginia at the Skyline National Park. The colors were spectacular--hills dotted with yellow, orange, and red trees. All testified that the winter was coming and were showing off their beauty in a last blast of glory.

Now we are off to Atlanta where we will re-connect with another couple who were stationed with us in Berlin. Perhaps being several years behind the Iron Curtain (as the boundaries of the Soviet Union were then called) can cause people to forge friendships that have better-than-average strength, a tensil strength that lasts for years afterward. We will be moving on in a couple days after that to visit with family, spend a couple of days in New Orleans, then journey to Chicago and after a couple of days' sojourn there, journey home via the California Zephr.

Hope all of you are staying well and getting your flu shots, the relatively new pneumonia shots, and updating your immunity regularly. Adults aren't usually good at that so we do well to look to our own health even as we are trying to care for those around us. Keep on keeping on, and I'll be updating you again soon. Until next time . . .

Saturday, October 15, 2011

There Ain't Any Such Thing As A Werewolf!! "Cry Wolf" by Angela Campbell

Andrea Lockhart's job as a reporter for cheesy tabloid The Naked Truthisn't exactly where she thought her journalism career would end up. She's determined to make the best of it, but when her editor sends her to Woodbine, South Carolina, to investigate a werewolf sighting, Andrea decides the ridiculous assignment will be her last. Until she meets Sean Hunter.

The last time she saw Sean, he had just beat her out for the position of editor of their college newspaper, and told her she'd never make it as a reporter. Given his grand ambitions, she's shocked to find him editing theWoodbine Weekly. Once they start competing for leads on the werewolf, Andrea becomes determined to break the story first—she can't let Sean beat her again.

As they each get closer to finding the source of the rumors, the only thing more surprising than the truth are the feelings Sean is able to stir in her, feelings she thought she had left behind...

We've all seen them . . . those sensationalism-filled news "rags" displayed by the check-out stands in grocery stores and other retail stores. Some of the head-lines are so bazaar that it is more a source of comedy than information. No one really takes the tw0-headed baby seriously! Yet there are people who continue to work for these organizations and they continue to flourish because customers continue to buy their craziness. No serious journalist would work for one of those publications--or so we think.

Yet in this novel that is exactly who is writing for a tabloid called The Naked Truth. Andrea is an award-winning journalist who has been writing for some of America's most respected news organizations, but who now finds herself as a feature writer for a tabloid. And her most unwelcome story to date: getting the "naked truth" about the werewolf sightings in a small community who has reported these for years. All because she laughed out loud at the ludicrous nature of the assignment. Now it is hers.

Adding to the crazy nature of this assignment is the shock of finding herself hanging upside down in a hunter's snare, being rescued by a young reporter on the local weekly newspaper along with his editor who turns out to be her chief competitor from college and an old college crush who "crushed" her with his scathing words about her appearance, wardrobe, and general unsuitability as an aspiring journalist. Those old verbal wounds are still very much alive in her heart and mind, and now she finds that he not only doesn't remember her but she has to rely on him for some of her contacts connected to running down this story.

This is a book that is about werewolves but in a strong sense isn't really about that phenomenon. It is more about the people who are struggling with the issue of whether or not such a creature exists, whether to debunk the legend, dealing with those in the community who will not be moved from their conviction that such a "monster" exists, and the human element in confronting this issue--the old love-interest, family, getting over old wounds, dealing with unscrupulous journalists connected with the tabloid, preserving one's own integrity professionally, and so on. There is so much going on in this book, yet I had the feeling throughout that the author really had it all under control and was going to make it all come together. The story really centers around Andrea Lockhart's own inner struggle as a professional, dealing with the old emotional hurts even as she is getting re-acquainted with the source of those hurts--a man who has clearly changed as much as she has in the ten years since they first knew each other. Her challenge is to balance those old hurts and feelings with what she is learning about him now and who he has become.

I found this novel to be more about the people involved in the story than just about the "werewolf" stuff. And because of that it was a very good reading experience. My entire interest in all romance fiction is exploring the human relationships, the struggle with the human thought process and the issues that influence the way people determine their choices and how they proceed on their life journey. Andrea is like so many others: just trying to do her job, not really sure she can look forward to any kind of private life that will be fulfilling. The hurts of her recent past have cast a pall over any hopes and dreams she may have had. How can she get around those, how can she hope to have a life that is fulfilling and connected to others when any connections from the past have been so disappointing?

Contemporary romance fans will enjoy this book with its many background characters and its interesting story line. Add in the "spice" of the paranormal and you have a unique story that is worth the time and effort to read and enjoy. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

This novel has an expected release date from Carina Press of 10/31/2011.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Whew!! I Made It Home In One Piece

Can you believe it? Rain in Los Angeles? Lots of rain in Los Angeles? Well, I'm here to tell you we had buckets of rain on Wednesday, and as usual, the LA drivers took that as a sign that it was a good day to drive even faster than normal. On my way home from a hotel near the Los Angeles airport where I was reading ordination exams for our denomination, the freeway was crowded, as always. But wonder of wonders, the traffic moved along fairly well . . . UNTIL . . . I got closer to home, nearly to the junction between Fwy 5 and 14, and everything came to a stop!! It took two hours to go about 3-1/2 miles -- two accidents were on the side of the freeway only about 400 yards apart. So in addition to the emergency vehicles weaving in and out of bumper to bumper traffic--always seems like a miracle to me that they can even manage to get anywhere--we had all the professional "lookey loos" who think it's the best show in town and they have to see it!! So in addition to having a fried brain from reading 37 not-really-well-written exams in three days and commenting on each answer, I was almost comatose from sitting in the car and moving 10 inches at a time, breathing car fumes, and truly coming to the conclusion that I was never going to see my hubby ever again!!

We're nearly ready to launch ourselves on our Fall 2011 Train Trek back to the East Coast, traveling to Chicago, along the Great Lakes, to Boston, then on to Portland, Maine, back to Washington, D. C. to visit some long-time friends, then on to Atlanta (more long time friends), to Alabama to visit with daughter #1, then to New Orleans where we will veg out for a couple of days, back to Chicago and two days down time, and then home on the Amtrak California Zephr to Northern California and south on the Amtrak Capitol Corridor to Bakersfield where we will take an Amtrak bus to Newhall, pick up our car, and literally race down Fwy 405 to attend an election seminar for election workers for the November 8 election. Restful, huh?? My hubby is a train nut, and he is so excited because he will be riding on 5 -- get that? 5 trains he has never ridden on ever before. Be still my foolish heart!!

So as I am able to get internet access during the next month, I will post some pics and info about where we are traveling. Until then, enjoy the cooler weather and we hope that all of us who need the rain will continue to be blessed.