I am thoroughly enjoying this Bedegrayne family. Therefore, I’m hoping updated versions of the last two books will be forthcoming soon. Now that I’ve...moreI am thoroughly enjoying this Bedegrayne family. Therefore, I’m hoping updated versions of the last two books will be forthcoming soon. Now that I’ve gotten to know Devona and Wynne, older brother Brock totally intrigues me, and after reading about the trauma Devona’s friend Lady A’Court goes through in this book, I’m really looking forward to her finding love as well as peace and safety. There’s never a moment’s idleness in this series, that’s for sure.
Wynne is neck deep in her charity that helps those who need it most, and this time it’s a young girl whose father is about to sell her into prostitution. Hoping the crowded fight going on nearby will be a distraction as they make their way to a getaway boat, Wynne and her charge nearly make it. But the girl’s angry sire doesn’t like intervention in his family, and he lets Wynne know it. Literally dragging her away to God knows where to do God knows what to her is when rescue comes in the form of Mr. Milroy, champion fighter.
Keanan is the bastard son of the Duke of Rekester and has been ignored by the man his entire life. He’s made a good living as a pugilist, so much so this is his last fight; he’s on to the next stage in his life. That’s when he takes on the jerk who is beating up a woman, and that’s a huge no-no in Keanan’s book. Taking care of the man with ease, Keanan returns only to find the beauty he rescued gone. Without a thank you. So he makes it his business to find out who she is, and discovers they have something in common – his half-brother Drake. What a way to vex his sibling, by taking the woman he’s thinking of marrying. But what starts out as a type of revenge turns into something so much more for Keanan.
Having refused all suitors for some time, Wynne’s reaction to Keanan takes her by surprise. Because of the depth of her feeling after spending time with him, deciding to give herself to him is the next step, and Keanan is more than happy to take whatever she’s willing to give. It’s that giving that makes Keanan reassess what he truly feels for Wynne. I love the scenes between these two, whether it’s soft and sweet, arguing, or making love. They’re intense, real, and happy – well, most of the time. Keanan knows Wynne is keeping something from him, and he’s determined to find out what that is. Those are moments that require trust, and both of them are just learning how to extend that particular aspect of their relationship.
Keanan’s father is a real piece of work – gambling the family’s fortune away, despite Drake doing everything he can to counteract the damage. There is a definite twist I didn’t see coming when the earl finally confronts Keanan, and then Keanan himself twists the plot even further when least expected. I like the delicate camaraderie the brothers reach when an unforeseen danger comes for Wynne. There’s some terrific suspense-filled scenes when Keanan finally gets to her. I’m actually quite sorry Drake doesn’t get his own story. I really like the guy a lot.
Even though I’m anxious to read the next two books, this is one of those series that you read too fast and it’s over, then lament the fact there isn’t anymore. But the Bedegraynes are definitely worth it. They deliver on all levels, and I highly recommend you get to know them soon.
Anthologies always make me nervous. I know it’s a good way to sample an author’s work to see if you’d like to pick up more of their books. Usually for...moreAnthologies always make me nervous. I know it’s a good way to sample an author’s work to see if you’d like to pick up more of their books. Usually for me there’s only one or two of the featured novellas I like. All of these stories in this particular anthology have good elements in each, but this time around there’s something else that’s left me chomping at the bit – every one of them is part of a continuing series by each respective author, and they all leave the reader hanging with no resolution, other than the main characters are now together. Whatever event is on the horizon in the series is still sitting there, to be continued and/or completed in the next however many books. Since I’ve not read any of these series, I ended up a bit antsy that I was left hanging in most instances. However, that doesn’t take away from what these talented authors do give their fans.
His Choice (Dante’s Circle, Book 3.5) by Carrie Ann Ryan
I enjoyed the theme of this series and this novella – one of Lucifer’s son’s has decided to carve out his own destiny, not wanting to be the soul-consuming demon his father wants of him but to search for his true half and live out his life in happiness and love. I like Fawkes, if for nothing else but defying the devil himself, then it’s his tenderness that lurks beneath the surface. When he goes to the earth realm to stay with werewolf friends, he learns what family means and he does find his true half in Leslie, a submissive she-wolf.
Leslie abhors violence, despite her nature. Her brother was quite abusive in his quest for power, and thankfully he lost that bid, which has allowed Leslie to live in peace with other wolves who treat her like family. When Fawkes arrives to stay with the pack, she knows he’s the one for her, but the demon refuses to make a move. Discovering that’s because he’s afraid of her reaction to his innate violence, she finds out very quickly there’s no way her life will be completely free of that violence, and she needs to learn to live with that.
I’m a big werewolf fan, so I’m glad to see this story take place in a pack. I do like a lot of the other wolves I met, but that being said, I never felt a connection to Fawkes and Leslie. They’re likable enough, but there just needs to be more from them and between them to make that connection, and that’s one of the dangers of a novella – too short to bring everything together cohesively. But I do like the fact they talk one another; however, some of the dialogue is a bit over the top as far erotic goes. Also, some of the writing is a bit choppy at times, trying to fill in information from previous books, which bogs the pacing down. I usually don’t comment on errors in ARCs, because there’s going to be some no matter what, but the number here is just too much. I was pulled out of the story way too often, mostly trying to figure out what word is omitted or figuring out what is meant when the wrong word is used. It seems almost as if the publisher took exactly what the author gave them and slapped it in an ARC just to get it done, with no proofreading whatsoever. Not a good practice at all.
All that being said, this story does make me curious about other characters in the series. I hope to some day pick some of them up to remedy that curiosity.
Beasts of Burden by Marie Harte
Being a shapeshifter fan, I had fun with these two larger-than-life battle-cats who protect the goddess Freya. They stand guard and according to Eria, a Valkyrie who needs a man more powerful than she is, that’s all Hall and Avarr do. Attracted to them she may be, but they’d never be able to keep her satisfied or controlled. They’ve wanted Eira for eons, but Freya has always held them back, claiming it’s not time.
That time finally comes when the pair come upon Eira battling it out with visiting creatures. They step in to help, and that leads to some steamin’, smokin’, sizzlin’ hot sex, not only between the three of them, but Hall and Avarr have a pretty good time together themselves. But at least now Eira can put to rest any doubts she may have had about these two shifters. There’s a lot of characters to keep straight when the gods get together, but at this point those are short scenes, so you get just a taste of the whole gang.
Of the four authors in this anthology, Marie Harte is the only one I’ve read before. Though it’s been a while since I’ve picked up one of her books, I enjoyed the smooth writing and lusty characters. This is the first book in Marie Harte’s new series and it will be interesting to see what happens with the gods and their games.
Alpha Rising (Fallen Alpha, Book 0.5) by Rebecca Royce
At this point I’m loving the fact there’s more werewolves to be had in this story from Rebecca Royce. Lilliana is a latent wolf, one who doesn’t even know she’s a wolf. She has some odd behavior that pops up every now and again and she doesn’t know why. On top of all of that, her mom died a year ago, leaving a mountain of debt, and Lilliana has lost five jobs recently. Having found work with the kindest woman on the planet, she’s determined to do everything right and keep this job.
That’s when Travis Michaels walks into the diner and throws Lilliana’s world off its axis. At first Travis doesn’t have time for a woman – he’s got a war to help fend off with rival packs – but Lilliana is his mate, and when Cyrus Fennell shows up, Travis will be damned if he’ll allow that wolf anywhere near her. But Cyrus causes all kinds of havoc and it will take everything Travs has got to keep a step ahead and Lilliana from chewing him up and spitting him out when she discovers exactly what she and her wolf can do. That’s when her world rights itself and understanding sets in.
I really enjoyed Travis and Lilliana. She turns out to be a strong heroine who grows into her wolf and will walk proudly by her alpha mate’s side. I also like the twist at the end with a villain you don’t expect.
A Rebel’s Heart (Ashwood Falls, Book 3.5) by Lia Davis
This is the story that really made me want more of the series. Sarah is a mountain lion, and she lost her mate five years ago, her children are now grown and on their own – she has nothing left to live for. But when the cat who was supposed to have died with her mate is suddenly very much alive, Sarah has not only her children to deal with but also Damian Palmer.
Damian barely made it to Sarah to protect her from a human rebel group that’s out to destroy all shapeshifters. He’d never meant to reveal himself, but now that Sarah knows about him, this is his chance to claim her as his mate. He has his work cut out for him, because Sarah still loves her children’s father and she’s begun to age, but he won’t let that deter him.
When danger is so very close, Sarah finally realizes she needs to latch on and live again, that’s what her deceased mate would expect of her. I like that Damian doesn’t give up, even in the face of wolf children protecting their mother. But even they come around, knowing Damian is just what Sarah needs. The only thing that bothers me is no resolution other than their coming together. I want more than knowing there’s danger still waiting in the wings.
Destined for Eden (Shadows of Destiny, Book 5.5) by Leia Shaw
I have to say that this novella is my favorite of the book. I love Eden. She was abandoned as a child and taken in by a shifter colony, despite the fact she’s just a wolf…all other shifters are above her. Though she’s never totally fit in, she’s always upbeat and optimistic. When she’s given the opportunity to help the colony in the brewing war, she’s excited to finally be included. Even if she has to work with shifter Dalton whose only emotion toward her seems to a condescending attitude.
He’s used to working on his own, as his semi-celebrity status attests. He’s the one taking down evil, and now this little bit of fluff, this she-wolf, is close to taking him down. He shouldn’t feel this way after the disaster of his last relationship years ago, but as they make their way to a pack in the United States, watching Eden keep her cool and schmoozing their way in to see the alpha to convince him he and his pack are needed in Wales only makes him want her that much more.
Little by little Eden pulls Dalton back into living life for other things other than the war that needs waging. I don’t usually do a favorite line in my reviews – there’s too many good ones in most books – but during Dalton’s tries at shifting into a wolf – his usual shift is into either a bear or a bird – Eden calls him to task, his response is:
“Heel?” he said, taking a step toward her. “Did you really just tell me to heel?”
I laughed for quite a while after that.
This is one of those times that I’m afraid to read any other books because they may not stand up to what works so well here, but then again it’s the time to have faith in the author’s talent. I’m definitely going with the latter.
This is my first book by Leah Braemel and is the first book in her new series about the Grady brothers, one of which is quite a surprise for everyone,...moreThis is my first book by Leah Braemel and is the first book in her new series about the Grady brothers, one of which is quite a surprise for everyone, reader as well as characters, near the end of this story. I like our hero Ben a lot. I always fall hard for a sexy cowboy. Allie is his weak spot, even after all the years she’s been gone and then suddenly reappears in his life. Despite all the lies and deceit they discover in their past and the fact he and his brother Jake could lose the ranch, Ben is very happy to have Allie back at Bull’s Hollow. Now he just has to convince her it’s the right thing for them both.
Having just discovered someone has sold a portion of their ranch, Ben contacts the insurance company to take care of the problem. Imagine his surprise when it’s Allie O’Keefe who shows up on his doorstep to investigate the claim. They have a history, one they thought would be their future, full of love and everything that goes along with it. But Allie’s father is accused of stealing and Ben’s dad fires him on the spot, forcing him and Allie to leave town. That was fifteen years ago and not one word has Ben heard from her in all that time. That doesn’t keep his feelings and reaction to her at bay, though. The woman still gets to him, no matter what she’s doing.
But Allie is all over the place about being back at Bull’s Hollow. Her life had been perfect at one time on this ranch, but then everything came crashing down around her once her father was fired. It seemed everyone blamed her for the fallout, her father and even Ben. Because she never heard from him once they left town. But she’s a different woman now, confident in her job, so there’s no reason at all she can’t do what the company and the client need of her and then be on her way. This time on her terms.
Of course, what both Ben and Allie can’t get away from is those feelings – everything from anger to lust to betrayal and even to love – when they’re near each other now. This time, however, they talk to each other. At least to a point. There’s still residual anger and denial they can’t get past until much later, but in the meantime they discover how they were each betrayed by those they loved, and they begin to work together to figure out what the hell happened fifteen years ago to tear their world apart.
I enjoyed their investigation, which twists and turns at every bend. Every chance Ben and Allie come together, they can’t keep their hands off each other, no matter how stern they try to be with themselves. Allie is the one who has more doubts about continuing where they left off. She can’t seem to make herself believe in Ben, and that’s my problem with her. I realize she has a lot to get over with everything she went through before, but there’s no way Ben could be any more supportive or loving than he is. Allie is in bed with him one moment and ready to walk away the next. This is okay the first few times, but it goes on much too long for my tastes. Even when her beliefs are shown to be untrue, she still balks. Eventually, though, Allie does realize what she has with Ben, and as her investigation comes to end, decisions need to be made.
The story does get a tad confusing here and there with all the family relations and goings-on, past and present. That bogs it down some once in a while, trying to keep the players straight. But you don’t get totally lost, things become more clear as you go along. The surprise near the end is quite enjoyable, and I like that Ben knows he has to do the right thing from the beginning. I do look forward to future books. There’s two more intriguing Grady brothers to be had, so I’m curious what Ms. Braemel will do with them.
I’m glad Kaki Warner is adding to her Heartbreak Creek series with this new spin-off series, Heroes of Heartbreak Creek. As much as I love all the cha...moreI’m glad Kaki Warner is adding to her Heartbreak Creek series with this new spin-off series, Heroes of Heartbreak Creek. As much as I love all the characters I’ve meet from this friendly, upstart town in the first three books, I look forward to all the new folks she’ll introduce me to in these new books. Everything about her stories is heartwarming, sweet, and sensual as well as fraught with danger and outlaws, which gives her characters more strength and courage than they ever thought they’d have. The Old West is alive and well in Kaki Warner’s hands.
Ethan Hardesty is in Heartbreak Creek to facilitate the railroad coming to town. The townsfolk are anxious to be a stop along the tracks, bringing more people and business. Right off the bat he runs into problems. First is in the form of Audra Pearsall who has just moved her family into the home standing on the land the railroad needs to run their track. The woman is being stubborn, and he doesn’t truly need her to agree to his offer to get what he wants, but for some reason he holds back, hoping they can come to some agreement.
Taking care of her father the best way she can, Audra goes a step too far, forcing her to take her father and two Negro servants, who are more like family, to run west as fast as they can. The home they come to in Colorado isn’t ideal, but it will work – until Audra discovers the railroad wants to take everything. But when mysterious happenings begin, putting lives in danger, Audra moves her family into town, thanks to the generosity of the new friends they’ve made.
Both Ethan and Audra have their secrets, the kind that have repercussions. The kind that doesn’t infuse trust, but these two learn very quickly amid danger that trust is exactly what is needed. I love the way they meet – I smiled and laughed all the way through that initial scene or two – but I really love the way they eventually come together when being in a relationship is not what either needs nor wants. Well, that’s what they think. Ethan and Audra are beautiful together. And the twist that it’s Ethan who wants marriage while Audra wants a trial run to see how things go only adds to the amusement. Their repartee is fun and becomes even more so as they get to know one another. I would have liked just a tad more emotion connection between them, however.
As we get to know Ethan along with Audra, we learn of his disastrous relationship with a former lover over a number of chapters. Suspense is not just for the villain in this book. The fun we share with the characters is shattered by a number of things from a scumbag with a whip to a not-so-unbiased journalist to the evilness that is desperate to stop the railroad. There is a lot going on in this story, and Ms. Warner weaves it all together seamlessly.
That being said, I do have to say that the book starts off at a pretty slow pace. If I hadn’t read Ms. Warner before and wasn’t familiar with the previous characters in this series, I may have put the book down and come back to it at a later time. But I know this author’s talent and I know she wouldn’t let me down, so when you get this far in the series, please don’t give up. When you get to the romance and the intensity and suspense when Audra could lose her life, everything comes together in a way that only someone of Ms. Warner’s caliber can give readers.
Heartbreak Creek will be one of my favorite series for a long time to come, and I will read every word Kaki Warner releases in the future. I hope if you haven’t read any of her books that you’ll start soon. You’ll love them every bit as much as I do.
I’ve been looking forward to this story. I felt for Lauren when we met her in previous books, discovering her horrible experience with someone who sup...moreI’ve been looking forward to this story. I felt for Lauren when we met her in previous books, discovering her horrible experience with someone who supposedly cared for her. Waiting to find out who it would be to help her heal and face the future has been worth it. Lauren, Liam, and Noah all embrace a way of life a family has held dear for decades.
Having been hired by Max Wilder, Lauren’s brother and who is married to Callie Colter, to find the scumbag who abused her, Liam and Noah are ready to see her again for two huge reasons. One, they’ve just found out she’s lied to them, thereby hindering their investigation and wasting their time. Two, letting her go before was the hardest thing they’ve ever done and they need to see her, touch her, make sure she’s okay. And come up with a way they can both be in her life.
Lauren has come home. Though there are residual effects of Joel Knight’s abusiveness, being with the Colters on their mountain has brought a sense of peace and tranquility to her. So much so she’s just now moved into her own place and has a job, all steps to begin her new life. But when Liam and Noah crash back into her world, the emotions that assailed her before concerning these two men overwhelm her again. How can she want both of them? Though she knows the Colters have lived quite successfully in such a way for so long, thinking it could work for her is nearly impossible.
While Lauren questions this idea, Liam and Noah – after a bit of honest, brutal discussion – feel such a relationship can work, because neither of them is willing to walk away from her. They grew up together as brothers, once Liam’s parents took Noah in when his own abandoned him. Liam absolutely believes because of their feelings for Lauren, and if she’s amenable, they’ll be able to pull this off. So while they get the truth from her, protect her, and find the asshole who hurt her, they have to find out how Lauren feels about their plan and figure out how to keep her safe. When Lauren is finally open with them about Joel and his business, the entire Colter family is ready to do what’s necessary to help the men take him down.
I like the gentleness Liam and Noah use when interacting with Lauren. They’re willing to take as long as she needs for whichever next step she’s ready for in their relationship, including sex. They’re open and honest with each other, even with trepidation running through the union as they go along. When Joel finally enters the picture again, well, all I can say is he’s something else. As is his right-hand man. Of course, they’re cowards to the max, but Joel is determined to keep what is his, both his prostitution business and Lauren. It’s nice to see Lauren is much stronger this time around when surviving him.
Of course, we see a lot of the Colters. Holly is still the nucleus of the family, and she considers Lauren one of her children now. There’s nice scenes between those two, as well as the other Colter wives, giving Lauren advice on how to make her relationship work. The men, as usual, go into protective mode, but aside from being in the bedroom, that’s what I like best about them. What I also like about this family is how they welcome those who their loved ones need and love. No questions asked. I’ve enjoyed getting to know this family over the last few years. They’re unique, fiercely loyal, fun-loving, and have been a joy to read. This is their swan song, and they’re going out with additions to their family, romance that is still part of their lives, and love that is ever lasting.
I can’t tell you how much I love Jill Shalvis. This Animal Magnetism series has been such wonderful fun to read. As much as I’ve enjoyed all the chara...moreI can’t tell you how much I love Jill Shalvis. This Animal Magnetism series has been such wonderful fun to read. As much as I’ve enjoyed all the characters and their predicaments – along with the cute and lovable animals – what has kept me glued to the pages once I start reading is the humor. I’ve definitely laughed out loud throughout each story, which gives me more of a homey, family feeling with these folks in Sunshine, Idaho.
We’ve met Griffin and Kate before in the series. He’s Holly’s (Rescue My Heart) brother and she’s Holly’s best friend. Kate has been crushing on Grif since she was ten years old, and now her womanly wants have taken over, grown into something deeper and truer, and this really comes home to her when suddenly Grif is back in Sunshine, right before her eyes. After she’s fallen on her butt, her pride a bit wounded. Griffin shows concern, makes sure Kate is okay, and promptly walks away after she spouts a few scientific facts that get a smile or two out of him.
See, Holly has warned Grif to keep his mitts to himself. She believes Kate is super vulnerable right now and doesn’t need her brother’s love’em and leave’em act. And when Kate is nervous, which she always is around this sexy and built military man? Her mouth takes over, spewing forth any and every bit of scientific nonsense housed in her brain. She’s a second-grade teacher (despite what the blurb says), and twenty of those little people have nothing on Grif when it comes to her nerves. Those are just plain old fun scenes between them when this happens.
Kate finally decides to conquer those nerves and goes for what she wants – Grif. If all she can have is one night of absolute bliss, so be it. She’ll take it. What she doesn’t bank on is Gif’s determination to be as much a gentleman as possible where she’s concerned, and it takes a bit before his restraint is snapped. And when it is? Hoo boy, sizzle, fire, flames, smoke, the whole kit and caboodle smoldering off the pages. Then the turnaround when it’s Kate who pulls back, happy she got her one night, and it’s Grif who’s looking for and wanting more, lots more fun, though Grif might beg to differ with me. Not that Kate doesn’t want more too, but she knows he’ll be gone soon and she now has her memories to sustain her as much as possible.
We also get to meet both characters’ families, which are as different as night and day. Kate’s family is close-knit, consisting of her younger brother and sister and father. Her mother died a few years ago and her dad is still having a hard time keeping himself and his kids’ lives going. Thus, it’s Kate who stops by every day to make sure they’re all fed and looked after. I love Tommy, her little brother. And I love how he relates to Grif and vice versa. Grif’s family is his dad and Holly. He and Holly are close, but the relationship with his father is strained at best, and just when it looks like they may patch things up to a degree, the bottom falls out and Grif is set adrift, which also causes problems between him and Kate. You gotta love the alpha male for who he is, but when he gets a bug up his butt, you need a heroine like Kate to finally knock some sense into him.
I’m very glad there’s a fifth book in this series in the works, Then Came You, due out next year. I haven’t been able to read Ms. Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor series, so I’m determined to keep up to date with this one. I hope there’s even more to come after Then Came You. She’s one of my absolutely favorite authors, and I’d sit down and read back to back every book of hers I have in the monstrous TBR mountain if I had the time. Barring that, I won’t miss any of these Animal Magnetism books and I’ll be first in line for any new series in the future.
I so love this series, and I’m irritated with myself that I’ve missed a couple of books along the way. And this is one series I don’t mind reading out...moreI so love this series, and I’m irritated with myself that I’ve missed a couple of books along the way. And this is one series I don’t mind reading out of order. I love the characters, the action, the storylines, and the fact that missing a story here and there doesn’t matter. Each book stands on its own while at the same time making you curious what you have missed. But hey, that just means some extra time with Pamela Clare’s sexy heroes and sassy heroines.
Javier and Laura have a past. A very short one but a past nonetheless. They met up years before, had a few nights of awesome, mind-blowing sex, and then went about their own business. They couldn’t, however, get one another out each other’s mind, and before either could remedy that, Laura is kidnapped by terrorists and dead to the world. Now on his current mission, just as he and his team are ready to pull out and head home, Javier hears a voice calling out over the mayhem, “I’m an American!” He then gets the shock of his life when he discovers it’s Laura who is very alive and so desperately trying to finally escape her captors.
Because his missions are top secret, Javier hasn’t seen Laura since that day when he carried her away from her nightmare. He’s recuperating from a mission gone wrong, visiting his best friend in Colorado when he hears there’s a chance Laura might also be joining the festivities on the ranch. Seeing her again brings everything back, including new emotions and that protective instinct. Though she testified against the man who held her captive and tortured her, Laura tries not to let his hatred and warnings of death dictate her life. But when an explosion tears through the I-Team building, life is going to change whether she wants it to or not. Thank heaven for Javier, he’s by her side to keep her safe and to help get through the nightmares and fear that still hound her.
I love Javier. As determined as he is to heal and get back to his job, he finds himself unable to leave Laura, even when his superior “suggests” he get his butt back to his team pronto. He’s gentle with her, understanding of her fears, her shame, loving her through every tear, every frightening dream, and when Laura embraces her sexuality once again, these two never look back as they burn up the pages. Javier works with law enforcement to put an end to the threats against Laura, and when he discovers her final secret, he goes to the wall to make her world right once and for all, and, well, if you don’t fall in love with the man right then, something’s wrong. He also supports Laura in her decision that follow, which will break your heart and raise your admiration for this heroine tenfold. As difficult as that decision is, happiness, fulfillment, contentment, and love come back to her more than she could have ever imagined.
The family feel of the I-Team is always there, giving Laura support when needed. I enjoy quite a bit when an author weaves previous characters into current stories, and Pamela Clare does this effortlessly, never once taking away from Javier and Laura, nor their romance. She’s also very good at deflection, I never saw the twist when it came time to reveal the villain, thus in the end giving Laura another supporter when she doesn’t expect it.
As usual, a top-notch read from Pamela Clare. Romantic suspense or historical, she delivers on every count, never disappointing the reader, drawing them in and keeping them riveted until the very end. I’ll never get tired of opening one of her books and forgetting the world for a few action-packed and sensual hours.
This is it. The last book in this Lords of Vice series. And ending with the baddest boy of them all seems a fitting send-off. Frost has beguiled reade...moreThis is it. The last book in this Lords of Vice series. And ending with the baddest boy of them all seems a fitting send-off. Frost has beguiled readers for years now, and anticipating his story has kept them on tenterhooks, guessing how it’s all going to come together for him and his heroine. The question is: does Frost find that heroine who is his match? The one who stands up to him when needed? The one he’ll do anything in the world for?
Frost and Emily’s first meeting actually brings forth the good side of the man. Especially after he’s just left the bed of his current mistress, who’s he’s tired of already. Emily is in the middle of a confrontation with a man who’s ready to sell his daughter on the street to make money to get them by – until the next time, of course. But Emily’s having none of it when she happens upon the duo and is determined to whisk the girl away to keep her safe. Frost hears the commotion and decides to investigate, taking control of the matter for the beautiful redhead who intrigues him with her intensity and strong will.
Then Frost discovers the lady he so graciously assisted is making noise about trying to close down Nox, and he’ll be damned if someone will take his club from him. But he can’t deny the intrigue of the woman, and so begins his slow seduction that catches them both by surprise. Frost has never wanted an innocent in his bed, and Emily’s thirst for revenge against the rogue who ruined her sister hits a snag when she discovers that rogue is Frost. She’s torn between what she now knows about the man and the name her sister whispered with her dying breath, casting an accusation against Frost Emily can’t ignore.
But Frost makes sure she doesn’t ignore that bit of information as much as possible. When he finds out what Emily believes, he assures her he’s not the man she’s looking for and resumes his attentions with single-minded determination, and he finds himself more enamored of the woman than any other in his life. Which says a lot, considering all the women who fall at Frost’s feet. It’s the fact that Emily refuses to fall in line as all those other women have that brings the capture-and-conquer gene out in Frost. There’s outside conflict brewing on each side; Frost’s former mistress brings out the claws in Emily and Emily is led astray when least expected by one she trusts. There’s also plenty of sexual tension, as you would expect from a Lord of Vice, and it’s interesting how much control Frost loses when he finally has Emily in his bed. He’s a bit befuddled at that himself.
In between all of this, Frost’s mother makes an appearance, and the woman runs up against a brick wall. He refuses her request to see Regan, his sister, but mom is going to have the last word, getting to Regan herself. What I love about Frost most is his protective quality and the fact that he loves his sister so dearly. Though his deception about their mother causes some tension, Regan is his family and they work things out. We also, of course, have the other Lords involved throughout the story, along with their wives, and it’s great to catch up with them and see how strong their friendship has remained over the years.
My only nitpick is I wanted Frost to be a tad more bad before giving in to his feelings for Emily. I mean, we’re talking about Frost here. I still remember his “faux pas” with Madame Venna and the resulting fight with Saint when Saint discovered what happened. I wanted something on the same scale from Frost in this book. His arrogance and pride are very much in evidence, both of which fit him like a glove, but I just hoped for more.
However, this is a terrific send-off for a series that has given readers over-the-top alpha heroes who gracefully succumb to the love of their heroines, all of whom are perfect for these men. Each of those men embrace the balance of love and family, while maintaining long-time friendships of those who know exactly what would have become of them all if they’d hadn’t found that all-consuming love. Alexandra Hawkins has taken readers through a world of emotion, danger, and romance, along with a good dose of vices that these Lords are more than happy to leave behind – or rather bring to the bedroom to share with their heroines. I’m sorry to see the series end, but I know whatever Ms. Hawkins has in store for us next will be written with the same level of quality and heart.
After really enjoying the first two books in this trilogy – Nathaniel and Abby finding their way to love amid their D/s lifestyle and a bit of heartac...moreAfter really enjoying the first two books in this trilogy – Nathaniel and Abby finding their way to love amid their D/s lifestyle and a bit of heartache – I knew we’d get a lot of training. I hoped we’d also get more of their daily life together – their playtime is weekends only – plus see how their new world progresses for them both. There’s a little of that, but I feel we get to know only one of these characters better than we already do.
Of course, the main focus is Abby’s training, and there is plenty going on in Nathaniel’s playroom. I like that he takes his time allowing Abby to experience her submission an element or two at a time. She still hesitates, although minutely, at certain points, thus bringing punishment into the scene, which they both don’t enjoy. Nathaniel doesn’t like punishing Abby, but to reach their goal of her total submission, it’s necessary. Abby hates disappointing Nathaniel and takes those extra spankings with a stiff upper lip. I also like the care Nathaniel takes with Abby, something he was lacking earlier in the story. After their weekends are over, they talk about what they each liked or didn’t like; Nathaniel even goes so far as to schedule a weekend with his mentor and his wife/submissive, someone Abby can talk to about the lifestyle.
But this Nathaniel is the Nathaniel who has been in evidence all through the trilogy. There have been those moments when we see his doubt, his vulnerability, and his uncertainty, but I’d hoped for a closer look at that Nathaniel, one who grows more confident in the side of life he never thought he’d live. As Abby grows in her submission, Nathaniel should also grow into the softer side of himself and we should see that. We know they’re trying to make it work, and we see plenty of Abby’s evolution, including a lot of help from Nathaniel, but we don’t get nearly as much of the lover as we do of the Dom.
Thus, the sex is hot and intense and there’s a lot of it. Abby takes to each new element Nathaniel surprises her with. Then comes the part of Nathaniel I don’t like, which I have a feeling will happen with a lot of readers. I’m sure my eyes were wide as saucers when reading what he’d demand Abby do, and there are a number that don’t sit well with me. That being said, nothing is sugar coated. The author has done her research and I’m confident this is pretty dang close to what the BDSM world is truly like. Doesn’t make me like it any better, but props to her for keeping it realistic. I still don’t get the “my pleasure is your pleasure” bit to go along with pain and humiliation, which is what some of it seems to me, but Abby’s needs take precedence. Giving herself and her trust over to Nathaniel is exactly what she needs when in her submissive role.
I enjoyed getting caught up with Felicia and Jackson; Felicia is coming to terms with Abby’s decisions, but I would have liked more resolution between them. The scenes with Paul, Nathaniel’s mentor, and his wife/submissive help Abby tremendously, which is Nathaniel’s goal, as does the journal he gives Abby while he’s on a business trip, which are the types of things I wanted to see happen with his “training.” Nathaniel’s past pops up to put a wrinkle in their life, but they work through it all to focus on them and what they need and want. The drama doesn’t drag on, which is nice.
Despite not getting further into Nathaniel’s head and heart on his non-Dominant side, he’s still an engaging hero who has come a very long way from first meeting him. Abby is obviously good for him in all aspects of his life, as he is for her. They’ve been an interesting couple to get to know, to watch grow into a relationship that works for them both, and to know that they’ll last together until the end of their days. I’m happy to have found them, and look forward to Tara Sue Me’s future endeavors.
I’ve been a fan of Alexandra Hawkins for a few years now, discovering her Carlyle family series when she was writing under the name of Barbara Pierce....moreI’ve been a fan of Alexandra Hawkins for a few years now, discovering her Carlyle family series when she was writing under the name of Barbara Pierce. I never did get to her Bedegrayne books before she began her Lords of Vice series, and those have kept me busy for a while. Now that St. Martin’s has reissued the Bedegraynes in e-format, I’m not missing the opportunity to read about the family who started it all for this very talented author.
Though I know each book is being updated to conform more toward today’s romance reader, you can still tell that even nearly fifteen years ago when these books were written Ms. Hawkins was going to hook those who love historical romance. She’s definitely grown as a writer over the years, but I still enjoyed myself reading these debut books.
Rayne Wyman, Viscount Tipton, has shunned society for the last fifteen years. He’s been considered a monster, a spawn of the devil during that time, all because of the tragic mistake his family made when he and his older brother were deathly ill. Thinking both sons had died, Rayne found himself being “rescued” by grave robbers after he’d been buried alive. Though he survived, everyone has since looked upon him as evil incarnate, even his parents, who cast him out, leaving him on his own at fifteen years of age.
Finally taking his place as head of the family, Rayne hasn’t been able to forgive and forget, treating his mother and sister with indifference and disgust, supplying them with the minimum to get by. His mother is one piece of work. She acts as though she did nothing wrong disavowing her young son, leaving him alone and unloved. You can’t blame Rayne one bit for the way he treats everyone now, shutting himself off from people and any emotion but perhaps anger and sarcasm. He’s as content as he can be, considering what he’s been through for so long.
That contentment is shattered one night when the windstorm that is Devona Bedegrayne blusters into his home, asking for favors that he initially refuses. Feeling guilty over the imprisonment and impending death of a friend, Devona seeks Tipton out for his expertise in reviving those who have died. He’s a surgeon by trade, despite his noble heritage. His past also gives him an air of mystique, giving him “powers” he obviously doesn’t have. After having just a smattering of interaction with Devona, he now can’t get her out of his head, so he changes his mind about helping her and binds her to him with a bargain that leaves them betrothed and hopefully married when all is said and done.
I love these two characters. They need each other desperately. Rayne needs Devona’s love, something he’s never truly experienced, and there is something in him that recognizes she’s the one who can give him what he’s missing. That makes him pursue her, coming up with new ways to keep her when things don’t go as he plans. Devona is that carefree, think later type of gal. She’s adventurous, loyal, and fun-loving. Taken with Rayne and his horrible experience, she wants to get to know him, but the man is frustration walking around in a suit. They complement each other, fill in one another’s flaws. I also like how Rayne eventually sees his younger sister in a different light due to Devona’s loving nature.
All of that, however, doesn’t keep them out of trouble. Mysterious accidents occur, and though Rayne is more alert to keep Devona safe, there’s a sly culprit who has worked his plan down to the nth degree. Those scenes when Rayne is so close to getting Devona back are intense and your nails will be bitten down to the quick by the time you’re through them. This is one crazy villain and no one is safe.
I like the feeling of family from the Bedegraynes, something else Rayne needs in his life. I was hoping for more of Brock, the Bedegrayne heir, and Amara, but there’s just enough to keep interest high and get to their book. Sister Wynne is next, The Scandalously Bad Mr. Milroy, which is also on the shelves right now. I hope the last two books in the series are also going to be updated and re-released. I’m in a Bedegrayne fever now.
I think it’s my new-found hobby of genealogy that heightened my curiosity when I read the blurb for this book, telling me I’d be in for a very delicio...moreI think it’s my new-found hobby of genealogy that heightened my curiosity when I read the blurb for this book, telling me I’d be in for a very delicious story. Connecting with your past, finding out the truth, discovering where and who you come from has a way of fascinating folks, who then become addicted to searching for more ancestors and even more ancestors. Our heroine, Leslie, comes to that point in this story, wanting to know more and more. Though her search is slightly different than what genealogists do, it still has the same impact.
Having been away from Peak Plantation in North Carolina for thirty years, Leslie is now forced to make an appearance for a clean break once and for all. It’s been a year since her estranged grandmother passed away, and now Leslie is informed by an attorney if she doesn’t get herself to the plantation, she’ll lose it all to someone else. Straightening her spine, she makes her way to the Peak, where memories and secrets, both good and bad, overtake her, especially those of her mother.
Jay Davenport is the who one was at Maggie’s side when she died, at her funeral, and who has kept the new vineyard going for the last year. With Leslie’s arrival, he’s not sure what’s going to happen, if all his dreams and hard work are about to take a nosedive. Their first few meetings don’t go well, and when Jay is made to see things from Leslie’s point of view, he knows they have to start over. Thus begins a new friendship that slowly develops into a love to last a lifetime, which is something that runs in Leslie’s family.
After agreeing to stay at the Peak and help out with the marketing of the new winery, Leslie finds a bit of peace with one part of her life. But when she stumbles across a lonely grave sitting high above the main house, with the beautiful inscription, I shall but love thee better after death, her need to know who’s buried there becomes her number-one obsession. So as she gets re-acquainted with her home, gets to know the new folks who now make up her life, and gets working on launching a new business, Leslie searches, investigates, interviews, and scours where she can to dig into the pasts of people who lived, loved, and died at Peak Plantation. Her family. A family she never wanted much to do with before, but now that’s all changing.
In between all of this, the reader is given their own glimpses into the past with intermittent chapters from Adele, who came to the Peak in the 1930s as a companion to the lady of the house, Susanne Gavin. This woman is a piece of work. She’s pregnant, and the hope is she’ll deliver a live child this time around. You can feel the tension between Susanne and Henry, her husband, who is a fair, hard-working man all those around town like and admire. Tasting Susanne’s bitterness and punishments, Adele sympathies lie with Henry, and she begins to try to make his home life just a little easier, and eventually love blossoms. When they say love is everything, love transcends time and other such sayings we all take for granted, in this book it’s all meant and felt to the bone, deep into the soul.
Little by little, Leslie and Jay, even when going through trying times of their own, discover exactly what happened to those at Peak all those years ago. It’s not easy going and though it’s a story full of love, it’s tragic as well. And the result Leslie and Jay end up with isn’t quite what everyone expects, especially Jay as he remembers his last days with Maggie. The genealogist in me agrees with Leslie, I want more information on the son they discover. Curiosity keeps the past and the future alive. Jay and Leslie work together very well, even when ironing out their differences. I like that so much in a hero and heroine; no big misunderstandings, just issues to resolve and a lot of work to do in any good relationship, and they definitely have one.
I highly recommend this read. Ms. Davis has a wonderful voice, creates characters with so much depth and a storyline that burrows into a reader in a number of ways. This is her debut book, she’s slammed it out of the park, and I will definitely be reading whatever she releases in the future.
I’ve been telling myself lately to read more new-to-me authors, so I finally followed through. This is my intro to Victoria Morgan and this is her deb...moreI’ve been telling myself lately to read more new-to-me authors, so I finally followed through. This is my intro to Victoria Morgan and this is her debut book. Sounds like the perfect pairing.
However, while this book is beautifully written – Ms. Morgan makes you feel and see her scenes one after the other – and the characters are likable, I find the story slows down too often, and it took me much longer to read than normal. That being said, there are wonderful moments throughout and I enjoyed watching Garrett and Alexandra fall in love.
The beginning of this story is fun, albeit everything is on the line for Alex. She’s disguised herself as a gentleman and is once again sitting at the gaming tables where she plans to put her the learning at her father’s knee into action. She knows her cards and knows how to win. What she never sees coming is the man who has the same mindset and who doesn’t lose. Even in this case. When Alex loses what she can’t afford, knowing what to do next in life is beyond her.
But Garrett Sinclair, the Earl of Kendall, who usually has no qualms about taking someone’s money, especially someone gambling more than they can afford to lose, for some reason has second thoughts when taking money from the young man whose vulnerability is there for the world to see. Returning the man’s money is his good deed for the night, something to forget and move on.
Fate, however, is taking a step to throw Garrett and Alex into each other’s lives. At this same party, Alex overhears a murder plot against Garrett. She can’t just walk away and let a man die. So she goes to Garrett to tell him what she – he knows, even entering into a pact to help Garrett find the plotters. Thus, the more time they spend together is what Garrett needs to eventually realize that Alex is not a man but a lovely woman with secrets. I like that it doesn’t take long for that to happen. I prefer most of this type of story to be between the hero and heroine as a man and a woman and not a cat-and-mouse game to keep an identity secret for most of the book.
It’s after this, though, where the pacing of the book takes a few hits. Between learning about Alexandra’s forced betrothal by her uncle, both of which she wants nothing to do with, and Garrett’s horrible stint in the Crimean War – and both stories are emotional and heart wrenching – even the supposed hunt for the would-be murderer is slow in coming. In fact, the story only gains momentum near the end of the book when they finally make their way back to town to flush the culprit out. I wish more would have happened during the time at Garrett’s – either between them or danger from the killer.
Despite that, I like these two characters a lot. Garrett gets his life back on track after his time in a downward spiral after returning from the war, loaded with guilt and disgust. When he unloads what really happened during the Charge of the Light Brigade, you feel as though you’re right in the middle of the huge mess it turned out to be. Alexandra is a strong heroine, independent to the core, and uses her brain as well as her emotions just as a woman should.
Ms. Morgan can only grow from here on out as a writer, and, honestly, she doesn’t have far to go. She writes beautifully already, and I look forward to whatever she has to offer in the future.