Winning Casey, by January Bain ****
Free-spirited Casey Madison loves finding buried treasure and hidden artifacts from times long in the past. What she does not love is all the university protocols she must, as an associate professor of Archaeology, abide by. The story opens with Casey in a cold, damp cave outside Dawson in Yukon Territory, where she finds an old hoard of Klondike gold, with which she barely escapes alive. Her sorority sisters, a group of like-minded women, are as cheered as Casey over the great find. But she still has a bit of vacation time left and wants to use it before buckling down to work—and meeting her new department head, whom she knows will be another one of those nit-picking, protocol-loving, stuffy professors she’s learned to despise. With approval finally granted for the new class syllabus she’s proposed, “Mysteries and Lost Treasures of the World”, she flies to Oak Island, Nova Scotia, to see what she can learn about the famous Money Pit.
There, a handsome hunk falls nearly at her feet when he stumbles into a deep hole dug by other treasure hunters on the island. Still, as attractive as the man is, it doesn’t take long for Casey’s interest to turn to dust. He is no other than Professor Truman Harrison, the newly appointed head of the Archeology department where she teaches. Nevertheless, she’s not about to give up her opportunity for gaining first-hand knowledge of one of the prime sites she means to use in her new course. Besides, the professor smells good…
Truman can understand Casey’s determination to hold him at arm’s length. After all, he’s her boss, but everything about her intrigues him to the point he must know more, so he’s not about to give up. His permit to explore on Oak Island is a strong drawing card and he doesn’t hesitate to use it to his own advantage, knowing how eager Casey is to do that.
As the two explore together, and talk of past exploits each has enjoyed, Casey comes to see she’s found a fellow adventurer in Truman, but he’s still the head of her department and she knows she must proceed with caution. Ms. Bain delivers a tale of mystery, romance, and danger. Highly recommended, but too many incorrect word choices and typos drop it from 5 stars to 4.
Race the Rising Tide, by January Bain ****
Cole McClintock, a recent hire with the TETRAD Group learns his new partner in an undercover operation is a woman who sends him into a tail-spin at first sight. She tangles up his emotions like no one else ever has. The best he can do is ignore the situation and get on with the job. At least, he has every intention of doing just that…
Gabriella Banks doesn’t hesitate to admit she’s a complicated woman, and one of deep inner strengths, firm opinions, and strong beliefs, which may, in her opinion, be responsible for her main problem. She doesn’t like to admit , but her total lack of a sex life troubles her. When she and Cole McClintock are teamed up to go undercover in Vancouver’s Chinatown, she resents him for reminding her of what’s missing from her life. He also makes her want something she knows she shouldn’t want under present circumstances.
While the two of them race to rescue a kidnap victim before it’s too late, they both know this is no time for hormones to get in the way, but they find themselves powerless in the fight against their mutual attraction.
This author is very good at making location as much of a character as the living beings in her story. Her descriptions are sharp and well-envisioned. Ms. Bain’s writing showcases her use of the language and her knowledge of how to choose words to create the effect she wants. But a note of warning: if strong language is not your thing, there is a great deal of it. While I have no objections, when and if appropriate, to the four-letter words liberally peppering this book (I suspect editorial demand for them), perhaps in an attempt to make the characters seem more “contemporary” and “edgy”. I’ve read other novels by Ms. Bain and know she has an excellent vocabulary and is more than capable of get her point across without the gratuitous use of “fuck”, which brings me to one of the worst books I have ever read…
Scrooge McFuck by May Sage *
Despite the feminine author name, I was left with the impression this book was scribbled in a hurry by a seventeen-year-old boy from the UK, in love with four-letter-words and gleeful in his desire to shock and make fun of romance novels. I’ve been reading (and writing) contemporary romance, some of it humorous, most of it sexy, for many years. My novels have been published in the UK and the US and translated around the globe with many good reviews, which frequently mention humor as well as a believable love story. This book, however, doesn’t make the grade for either humor or romance and despite it’s catchy title, is definitely not a Christmas story.
The author faithfully adheres to the “formulaic” rule so many detractors believe must be followed in a romance—writing the once-typical (1960’s) wealthy, bad-tempered, rude, crude boss as a “hero”, a more-or-less “feisty” heroine in desperate need of her job, so she takes his bad manners like a lady. The heroine is equally crude, though mainly in her thoughts, not words. Unrequited lust builds within each, though neither character acts upon it… Then… Wow! Wouldn’t you know it? She gets sick, he learns she and her sweet little five-year-old daughter (who has the vocabulary of your maiden aunt–“my mother is ‘feeling poorly'” and other such unlikely phrases), are living in a New York tenement building. Hero-Boss magnanimously moves mother and daughter into his palatial home and immediately becomes a nice person, looking after the sick woman and the unbelievably well-spoken little girl, which suggest the author has no knowledge of kindergarten age kids.
It seems all the adult protagonists can think of is fucking, being fucked, and wishing they could fuck. I don’t object to the word. I have used it in my writings, as well as in my casual speech, but this would-be romance author seems to believe that mere physical attraction to curves, green eyes, a “great rack”, and tattoos must lead inevitably to sex, which act is, in the writer’s mind, equivalent to romance and “lo-o-ove”. Never mind there has been little if any prior indication the story might bring the reader the Happily-Ever-After ending customary in the romance genre. Instead, at first chance, the adults leap into bed together and the author writes THE END. Not my kind of writing, little boy. Please go paddle in some other genre pool.
And now, to get out of the romance genre entirely, here’s a well-founded book from a newbie I do admire…
Terms of Enlistment, by Marko Kloos ****
A fast paced book, TERMS OF ENLISTMENT introduces Andrew Grayson, a kid from the public housing slums of the next century, where the North American Alliance stretches from the N. Pole to the S. border of Mexico. In Basic Training, which will bring smiles of familiarity to anyone who’s gone through any similar mind-numbing course, he meets another recruit, Halley, and the two begin a relationship. Following graduation, Halley is allocated a berth in the Space Navy, and slides easily into the Officer Track while Andrew gets stuck as a grunt. His first real task, helping put down a welfare riot is a horror-show in which Andrew is injured. As a result, he’s allowed to change career directions and, still missing Halley, gets himself assigned to the same ship she’s on.
Humanity now occupies—if precariously—many far-off planets orbiting stars similar to Sol. Not all, of course, are particularly Earth-like, but with the need to deplete the home-world’s vast overburden of population, terraforming is necessary. Andrew and Halley find themselves bound for one such planet and, while it first appears things are going well, they soon learn different…
This is clearly book One in an ongoing series. Undoubtedly, many readers will follow it, though it’s not a five-star read. The author may further develop his “voice” as the series progresses. The rapid pace of the novel works well with its present tense delivery and his firm grasp of military jargon.
I apologize for having fallen short of my promised number of review blogs for this year. My companion blog, Just Asking Why, may explain in part. It appears later today.