First line: Gabriel Huntley hated an unfair fight. Memorable Scenes: All the scenes where Gabriel and Thalia got it on: - Their first time...on a rock! > original and hot! - The scene at the pond in the oasis in the Gobi Desert > If I still smoked I would've lighted a post-coital cigarette
Gabriel Huntley is a former captain in the British army. He has been all over the world serving Queen and country and is on his way back to England to leave the dangerous and adventurous life behind and find himself a nice, ordinary wife to settle down with. However, fate has something else in mind for him and soon he finds himself in Outer Mongolia, captivated by a woman who is anything but quiet or ordinary. Gabriel abhors unfairness or injustice. He is gruff commanding, intelligent, confident and persistent.
Thalia Burgess is an anthropologist who was raised by her father in Outer Mongolia after her mother died. When her father is unable to perform his duties as a Blade of the Rose after Gabriel’s news demands urgent action from the Blades, she offers to take his place. Her mission puts her together with this captain she is very attracted to but hesitant to pursue those feelings as she has been burned by her attraction for a man before. However, she soon learns that love is not to be dictated by fear or reasonable thinking. Thalia is independent, sharp, smart, courageous, tenacious and protective (of her father).
Both Gabriel and Thalia stole my heart in this first installment of the Blades of the Rose series. There is subtle humor in both of them and their banter that made me smile throughout the book and even in the sometimes-hazardous situations they never lost the humor.
WARRIOR starts the way I love action-adventure to start: with a fistfight! When I read the first page, I just knew I was going to love it and boy, did I love this book! I hope to give you all a fairly coherent review of WARRIOR but can’t guarantee anything because all that’s in my head is: Loved, loved, loved, loved it and I want more and ooooh hot sex scenes. But let’s give it a try shall we.
First off WARRIOR is every bit as Indiana Jones-y as I expected it to be and an extra point goes to Zoe Archer for not including snakes…my biggest fear in the universe! Instead of icky snakes there were mysterious clues and puzzles, mythical objects and magical artifacts, secret societies and the battle between good and evil and she gave me a bit of paranormal, a chunk of historical, a tad of adventure and a pinch of lovely romance all rolled into one in an unusual setting that was as enchanting and captivating as the plot was.
Zoe Archer has a way of describing scenery, whether in England or Mongolia, that --all by itself-- just pulls you in and keeps you immersed into the story. And next to that she also pens down a great adventure and a beautiful romance. I loved how gradually the world she created, unfolded. In the beginning you know very little about the how and why of the Blades, their adversaries: the Heirs of Albion and the battle that rages between them. And instead of overwhelming the reader with extensive world building she weaves the information little by little into the rest of the story, next to the romance and the actual action.
As you may have noticed I haven’t told anything about the actual plot and adventure. That’s more on purpose than I normally do in my reviews because I don’t want to tell anything that would spoil the fun for other readers of going on this adventure together with the characters. It was so much fun to discover stuff and see the plot unfold that I wouldn’t want to do anything to spoil that.
Zoe Archer’s writing fascinates, captivates and holds the attention just as much as the intriguing story does. Her wonderful writing style worked for me on all levels and the fact that this was a slow read for me had nothing to do with the writing or the story but more with external factors, because it was fast-paced, action-packed and moving full-speed ahead thanks to some excellent writing skills. I was holding my breath through the action scenes with the villains and the adventure, had a big smile on my face at the humor and banter and funny tidbits that showed the characters' playful sides and was fanning myself at the love scenes.
WARRIOR is a delicious and adventurous read that combined myth with history, magic, adventure, suspense and romance and I am so ready to start SCOUNDREL and find out if Bennett (definitely a candidate for my favorite heroes list!) and London are as awesome as Gabriel and Thalia were.
Favorite Quotes: Thalia heard a mewl as it arabesqued from her throat. She'd never made that sound before. A deep rumbling from low in his chest responded, like a feral creature calling from another nighttime mountain
The words that came out of the captain's mouth were words Batu had never heard before in all the years he had served Franklin Burgess and his daughter. They involved something that had to do with the offspring of unchaste female dogs, and some actions that Batu was quite sure were physically impossible, even for a circus contortionist.
There was no point denying it. The wild creature of her soul had finally yielded to the calloused hand of one man. .
4.75 stars! This was a very close to perfect read!
Memorable Scenes: - Scene where Brock comforts Jenna after upsetting news about her blood works >
...more4.75 stars! This was a very close to perfect read!
Memorable Scenes: - Scene where Brock comforts Jenna after upsetting news about her blood works > starting point of the romance story line - when Jenna does something (can’t divulge for fear of spoilers) to Brock during the first love scene > wow... - shower scene > wow x 2!
After a terrifying captivity in her Alaskan cabin with a creature straight out of any horror movie, Jenna Darrow is taken to the Order's compound in Boston because she could prove pivotal in the next step in their battle with their enemy. When she, reluctantly at first, involves herself in their battle she becomes the focus of more attention she signed up for as the Orders enemy gets her in his sight. Brock, who's been there for her from the beginning, calming and caring, has to do everything in his power to get her back to safety and keep her there. Amidst the battle with evil another battle rages between Brock and Jenna as something deeper develops between them that's hard to deny yet they both fight to not give into it. It's Jenna's stubborn clinging her need to be in control and independent against Brock's instinct to protect and soothe. When they ultimately do, their HEA is closure to a turbulent and emotional journey.
Jenna Darrow, like most of the other Midnight Breed heroines, is a heroine I really, really liked. She is fearless, strong and resilient. She thrives on having everything under control and seems unbreakable. She’s also tough, tomboy-ish and stubborn. Shrouding herself in an armor if toughness and anger she hides her vulnerability, loneliness and inner softness. Her need for approval and affection and always having to prove herself worthy makes her suspicious of the compassion and help Brock offers her. She doesn't want it because it makes her feel weak and needy and she abhors weakness. This also plays a big part in her reluctance to give into the feelings she's starting to have for Brock.
There were things that were disclosed about and happening to Jenna that I can’t name in this review because I know several people who read my reviews haven’t read the series yet and I would be spoiling but to me there were things that made me go: Wow...that's an unexpected twist...and there were things that I saw coming a little.
Then there’s Brock. He never really caught my attention in the other books other than the occasional banter with the other warriors, especially Kade and Chase, until SHADES OF MIDNIGHT where his and Jenna’s story is set up in the end and I totally understood that his book was coming next. Well, he definitely did make up for his low-profile in the previous books because I totally noticed him now, boy did I ever… Brock is calm, soothing and steady. He’s honorable, sweet yet passionate and ruthless when people he cares about are hurt. His calm and laid-back demeanor hides an explosive and intense male. His unique extra-sensory ability/ESP talent is absorbing human pain and suffering. Because of something that happened in his past with a woman he’s is reluctant to admit to his growing feelings towards Jenna
The romance in this book was great! I loved how the relationship between Brock and Jenna built up slowly yet intensely and how their romance developed throughout the book. It fitted their characters perfectly. My additional thoughts to the first memorable scene I mentioned above is that it was a perfect display of Brock's compassion, tenderness and feelings towards Jenna and in-depth look into Jenna's character. They were both so undeniably drawn to each other and at the same time so reluctant to give in to their feelings but it never got angsty or whiney. I just can’t express how much I loved the romance in this book. And the love scenes just took my breath away…and make me wish for my own Brock!
I really can't wait for Sterling Chase's story, as Brock puts it: antagonistic, aggressive, volatile...unpredictable hothead *sigh* This member of the Order, formerly an Breed Enforcement Agent, caught my attention from the moment he set foot in the series, in MIDNIGHT AWAKENING (if I recall correctly), in most series I fall for a secondary character who hasn’t gotten his own book yet and in the Midnight Breed series it’s Chase.
But I must also admit that Hunter gets more and more intriguing too! Again in the Brocks words: "Impassive, inscrutable, unsociable, unflappable, stoic, detached, Hunter. Flesh-and-bone machine" and in the villain’s words: "Chillingly efficient. Coldly intelligent. Relentlessly disciplined, yet far from submissive." The word that comes to mind every time I read about Hunter is emotionless, but I have also seen tiny, very tiny glimpses of emotion and compassion in Hunter, both in this book and in VEIL OF SHADOWS so I'm eager to meet the woman who's going to get under his skin! And his book is next! YAY! Though I'd love to have Chase's book first a little revelation in this books really made me look forward to Hunter's now!
I also desperately hope there'll be a story (full-length, e-novella, anthology short, I don't care...something please) on Gideon and Savannah. They are such a great couple and so wonderful together!
One thing I really loved in this book is that each and every member of the Order and their significant others made an appearance, some just in passing or only mentioned but some had a more prominent role in the plot and that was what I truly missed in the previous two installment and was so happy to see in this one again as it gave me the vibe of those early Midnight Breed books that I loved. I appreciated that this installment takes us back to Boston and the Order compound after the 2 previous books were set in Germany and Alaska. The strong point in this series is the Order and I loved going back to that base.
Now let’s talk about the plot! To me it was awesome! I suspected as much when I read the ending of SHADES OF MIDNIGHT but Lara Adrian really hit it out of the park with this one. As she's consistently done in the course of this series, she weaves a thrilling plot with twist and turns that are simply mind-blowing, answering some questions but to keep the balance she raises more questions at the same time, questions you know will be answered too eventually and not necessarily in this book.
I found one itty-bitty tiny thing weird in the plot and in the editing thereof. There’s a point early in the book where Brock overhears two Albanian guys talking about Jenna. They are not aware of him there and talk to each other in broken English. This didn’t make sense to me because why would 2 Albanians talk in broken English to each other when there's no one who can hear them? But this is really a very minor thing that has no bearing on my overall opinion of this book, which I loved and which is my favorite of the series so far.
I know many people compare Lara Adrian's books with Ward's BDB and find it falling short in comparison. I am not one of those people. To me the Midnight Breed series tops the BDB for several reasons and the most important ones to me are the Breedmates and their role in the overall story arc. Contrary to Ward's heroines the Breedmates don't quietly slink into the background after their book, never to be heard of again except for the occasional passing mention (don't blink because you'll miss it) in future books. No, Adrian's heroines stay in the fray of things and have an equal role in the ongoing story arc throughout the books. I love that they form a substantial part of the Order and are important in the battle against evil.
I loved that Lara Adrian picked up right after SHADES OF MIDNIGHT from the start, and praise her for not starting with a rehashing recap and diving straight in the new installment. Nonetheless, she offers enough background info to pull new to the series readers in and yet at the same time she stays away from repeating too much and keeps it moving forward for loyal followers of the series. Her way of recapping the events prior to this book within the storyline is excellently done. Without info dumps or lots of rehashing at the beginning of the book but cleverly incorporated in dialogues between known and new characters, adding small fresh nuances to it. This way she not only makes the series easy accessible for new readers to pick up on the plot but it’s also pleasurable for the loyal followers of the series. Thank you, Ms. Adrian!
If you haven't discovered and read this series yet, you're really missing out. It's a hidden gem amongst the avalanche of paranormal series on vamps that has a unique and refreshing premise and Lara Adrian is an author who in my eyes definitely holds her own in comparison with authors like Ward and Kenyon. With TAKEN BY MIDNIGHT Lara Adrian definitely proves worthy of the following she has and I hope she'll rake in some more. She's a talented storyteller who delivers books that are a perfect combination of romance, plot, character depth and action.
With TAKEN BY MIDNIGHT Lara Adrian had me at the edge of my seat with the plot, had me swallowing a few lumps in my throat and even made me cry a little with the characters and their emotions and had me sighing with the wonderful romance. Bring on Hunter, please!
Favorite Quotes: Brock blew out a low curse under the punishing deluge of the shower. "If you're trying to make me feel better about all of this, feel free to stop anytime." Kade chuckled, clearly enjoying himself. "I don't expect you'll be having any heart-to-heart talks with your new roomie, so this is me, showing you I care." "I'm touched," Brock muttered. "Now, get the fuck out of here and let me scald myself in peace."
He moaned against her wetness, a long purr of blatant male enjoyment that vibrated through her flesh and bone, deep into the heated center of her. Jenna's climax roared up on her like a storm. She shook with the force of it, crying out as the pleasure seized her and flung her skyward. She broke apart, sensation shimmering over her like stardust as she spiraled higher and higher, tremors of pure bliss shuddering through her, one after the other. She was boneless as she floated back down to reality. Boneless and drained, even though her body was still pulsing and alive with sensation. And Brock was still kissing her. Still stroking her with his fingers, wringing every last quiver from her as she clutched his thick shoulders and panted with pleasurable little aftershocks.
She writhed beneath him as he moved atop her, slow thrusts of his pelvis that made her body weep with the need to feel him naked against her. Buried inside her. "Brock," she gasped, all but lost to the passion he was stoking in her. "Gideon knows we're in here. There's probably a security camera trained on us right now." "Tinted windows," he rasped, glancing up at her with a sexy grin that bared the gleaming tips of his fangs and made her stomach flip. "Nobody can see a thing. Now, stop thinking about Gideon and kiss me."
He wanted to shout his love for her, but the depth of his feelings had devoured his voice.
Memorable Scenes: - hand-to-hand combat between Hunter and a Gen One assassin> awesome fight scene - Hunter and Corinne's first kiss >...more4,25 stars
Memorable Scenes: - hand-to-hand combat between Hunter and a Gen One assassin> awesome fight scene - Hunter and Corinne's first kiss > TYPEREND for their romance; tentative, sweet and tender - the fight scenes > Lara Adrian knows how to write breathtaking fight scenes
SPOILER WARNING: This review may contain spoilerish information about the heroine, so if you don’t want to know stuff beforehand, I urge you to not read the review if you haven’t read this book yet.
Hunter is a born and bred killing machine by The Order's enemy but joined The Order instead when the chance was there. He’s seemingly emotionless, deliberate, logical, lethal and ruthless, yet he can also be tender, honorable and even compassionate.
Corinne Bishop was abducted and kept prisoner by the Order's enemy and rescued in previous book of the series. Her Breed talent is sonokinetic energy (sound manipulation). She’s defiant, stubborn and a survivor. There were moments where Corinne stubbornness in pursuing a certain something (view spoiler)[ (her son, his whereabouts and thinking he would welcome her and not be the killing machine she rationally knew he must surely have become) (hide spoiler)] annoyed me and I wished she would listen to Hunter instead of clinging to hopeless hope against her better judgment. Yet without this part of her characterization a lot of strength in the emotional element of the plot would've been less strong and maybe even lost. And the way it played out towards the end of the book was brilliantly done and left me with a satisfied feeling.
DEEPER THAN MIDNIGHT starts off action-packed and fast-paced with Hunter and Chase trying to find information on an Enforcement Agency operative suspected of being a mole for the enemy. The tone was set and I settled in for a thrilling read that took me from Boston to Detroit to New Orleans and back to Boston all the while the war with the Order's enemy is taken up a notch and the search for the enemy in order to eliminate him runs alongside the search of a mother for the child that was taken away from her at birth.
The way Lara Adrian continues the on-going plot by tying up loose treads and creating/setting up new ones at the same time and how all the subplots turn out to be connected in some way is just brilliant. It's the one constant aspect that I love in this series.
One element I missed in the first part of the book was the romance. This book is very plot-driven and it felt like the romance was sacrificed in favor of that in the first part of it. I felt the romantic connection being built between Corinne and Hunter but the all-consuming, steamy chemistry that most of the other couples in this series had, wasn't there in the first 10-15 chapters. Reading on I understood the reason for this, with both Corinne's tortured past that left her scarred both physically and emotionally and Hunter's upbringing that was void of emotions and filled with violence, this was the only way their romance could've been written and worked. And I need to say that in the second part of the book the romance took a more prominent place, which made up for the lack of it in the first part.
Not only the camaraderie between the warriors but the closeness and bond between the Breedmates is something that I love in this series and they're becoming more and more tight-knit with every installment. I also love that they don’t disappear into the background after their HEA (as it’s known to happen to heroines in other popular PNR series) with the occasional mention here or there. No, they stay in the forefront, crucial in the overall plot and help their mates in the battle against evil.
Sterling Chase's storyline has intrigued me from the moment he first appeared in this series in MIDNIGHT AWAKENING (book 3). Knowing his book is next is making me giddy as all hell. He's so volatile and on the brink of snapping and giving in to his rage, the lust for pain and the Bloodlust...I can't wait to read his journey to redemption and his HEA. I’m really trying to tone down my expectations for his book as to not be disappointed when they’re set too high but am slightly failing at it as I really, really look forward to it.
Fights, chases, action-sequences...next to the ongoing plot, the back-stories and the intriguing characters, they are the thriving force behind my love for this series. Lara Adrian writes action scenes and plots that resonate with me in a way like few other PNR authors on my shelves do. Even when I don’t click with the characters, which has happened in a few of the previous books, I keep coming back to this series and devouring the books the moment they are available because of Lara Adrian’s writing and the ongoing plot arc that just enthralls me every single time.
DEEPER THAN MIDNIGHT was another great installment in a series that quickly became one of my favorites on my PNR shelf. Though the romance got off on a slow start and the plot was the more driving force behind this part, it was a very satisfying read and I was sad when I reached the last page and realized I have to wait till January to see where the cliffhanger type ending in the overall plot is going to lead us.
Favorite Quotes: (Chase) He welcomed the agony of his wounds, the fiery kiss of deep pain that made him feel alive. Just about the only thing that gave him any feeling at all. And, like a junkie, he pursued that feeling with reckless, desperate abandon. Better than the alternative. Pain was the dark, wicked high that kept him from craving another, more dangerous mistress. Without pain, all he would have was hunger.
And then he was kissing her. Gently, unhurried, he brushed his lips across hers. His kiss was almost tentative, as though he didn't know how to take more than what she was willing to give him. As intoxicating as his mouth felt against hers, it was also sweet, the first time she'd ever been touched so carefully, so full of tenderness. That a formidable male like Hunter could possess such patience and restraint astonished her.
We were born to be his assassins. His Hunters, and nothing more." "Hunters." The word sounded wooden on her tongue. "I thought Hunter was your name. Is it your name?" He could see her confusion. Her frown furrowed deeper as she quietly processed all that she was hearing. "Hunter is the only thing I've been called from the day I was born. It is what I am. What I will always be."
Rating: 8.4 out of 10 – GREAT READ! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Memorable Scenes: - Piper and Carey discussing Andrei > loved Andrei's reaction to it, also deepened Andrei's characterization - table smexing scene...moreMemorable Scenes: - Piper and Carey discussing Andrei > loved Andrei's reaction to it, also deepened Andrei's characterization - table smexing scene > HOT!
Andrei Solace is a Phantom Corps operative. He’s a man of few words with an explosive temper. He’s unflappable, private, defiant and honorable. Andrei intrigued me from the moment I met him in Insatiable and I am happy to see him get his HEA with a heroine that was perfect for him.
Piper Roundtree to me was a breath of fresh air, storming through the book. She’s part of a mercenary group on one of the Edge ‘Verses and stands her ground in the middle of a male dominant environment. She’s independent, fearless, tough, passionate and strong-willed.
Piper and Andrei were childhood sweethearts and after years apart, Andrei's work for the Phantom Corps brings him back to the one woman he never was able to completely get out of his mind. And Piper is reunited with the only man she ever truly loved/opened her heart to. I really loved how Lauren Dane built up the romance and sexual tension between them. Preferred that to them jumping each other the first moment they were reunited as this fit the story/characters perfectly.
The love scenes were beautiful and very sensual. They were explicit without being crude or coarse. They were just like I've grown used to from Lauren Dane. I'd go all tingly when Andrei would get all commanding and go all gooey when he would only have eyes for Piper and say sweet things to her. I adore when an author can make me fall in love with the heroines through the heroes’ eyes. Lauren Dane did exactly that with Andrei and Piper.
The secondary cast once again was excellently woven into the story. They were supporting to the romance and crucial to the plot. Speaking of the plot, every installment offers more intriguing developments and in every installment of this series plot and romance complement each other perfectly. The war brewing in the first book, UNDERCOVER, has meanwhile evolved into a full-blown war and MESMERIZED had me holding my breath waiting for casualties to fall on the side of the good guys and they do and it had me in tears.
I love the world Lauren Dane has created with this series, the 'Verses and the war/battle between the Federation and the Imperialists. New intriguing characters are introduced of which you just know you’re going to see them again in future books, and I’ve also come to care about all the former main characters in this series and I loved getting tidbits of how they are faring.
It’s no secret or surprise that I really love Lauren Dane’s writing. I haven’t read a book by her yet that has disappointed me in that aspect. Even if science fiction/futuristic romance is not your thing I'm convinced this series and MESMERIZED will be a great read. The way Lauren Dane builds the world and plot is very agreeable and she doesn't let you get lost in the world and the characters. The romance stays the main focus and the balance is excellently done.
I thoroughly enjoyed this installment and am chomping at the bit to get to read the next. Not only for the continuation of the ongoing plot but also for the fascinating romance that has its tiny beginning at the end of MESMERIZED. After finishing MESMERIZED I'm dying to read Julian and Vincenz's story even though I know it will probably knock me straight out of my comfort zone but I know it will be as enjoyable as the rest of this series.
Dane mixes the futuristic plot and the explicit sex scenes with well-drawn characters, strong emotions and subtle humor and she does this with an ease that leaves me wanting more. There is subtle humor in the smallest of remarks, this humor shone through in MESMERIZED but never took the upper hand. With every book in this series Lauren Dane entices me to continue and once again she didn't disappoint.
An ambush-attack on Wulfric when he accompanies a patrol to the borderlands between D'Ashier and Sari and a devious plan of a jealous Queen bring Wulf...moreAn ambush-attack on Wulfric when he accompanies a patrol to the borderlands between D'Ashier and Sari and a devious plan of a jealous Queen bring Wulfric and Sapphire together. Wulfric is offered to Sapphire as a servant when the Queen forces her husband to relieve Sapphire from her duties as his concubine. When they find out their respective identities, things get complicated. Wulf returns to his homeland but finds out he can't live without Sapphire and takes her with him against her will. The time they spend together in D'Ashier brings them closer together and their initial passion grows into love. But there are many obstacles in the form of mercenaries out for blood, the war between their kingdoms and a jealous monarch and jilted lover.
Katie "Sapphire" Erikson has been the preferred concubine of the King of Sari for five years and he fell in love with her from the first moment he saw her. Sapphire doesn't reciprocate these feelings and feels awkward towards the Queen who truly loves her husband but must endure his feelings for Sapphire. Sapphire yearns for her freedom and recognition as an individual. Her time as the King's concubine feels like confinement because she is not able to speak her mind or follow her desires and wishes. She is confident, outspoken and smart. She is not only skilled in the amorous ways. When it comes to combat and battle strategies she also has knowledge and skill. She is tough and strong but deep inside she is vulnerable. Her feelings for Wulf take her by surprise and make her feel uncomfortable at first.
Wulfric "Wulf" Andersson is the Crown Prince of D'Ashier. He is ruthless, intelligent, cautious and meticulous. There is truly nothing anti-hero about him. He is the epitome of an honorable warrior hero who is alpha to the core. The moment he sees Sapphire he is under her spell and his feelings confuse him. Before Sapphire women were meant to enjoy temporarily and he didn't commit to one woman alone. Sapphire evokes deep feelings in him. Feelings he has trouble dealing with because of the situation between their kingdoms. One thing I definitely liked about him was how he refused to address Katie as Sapphire after he found out her true name and kept calling her by it. He refused to acknowledge the name another man had given her and this scored big points with me. Wulf's declaration of his love for Katie to his father literally made me cry, it was so beautiful.
The physical chemistry between Wulf and Sapphire is fierce. Their mutual desire sets this book on fire. Their passion leaps of the pages and in the midst of all the extremely hot love scenes, Dare delivers a plot that is unpredictable and fitting the characters and the romance.
Though Sapphire and Wulf and their courtship take center stage in this book, there is enough room for some intriguing and complementing secondary characters such as Gunther and Brenna, King and Queen of Sari. The despair in Brenna of loving someone who loves someone else is palpable in the scenes where Brenna, Sapphire and Gunther appear, especially in the beginning of the book. Other important secondary characters are Sapphire's parents: Grave and Sasha Erikson. The warm relationship between Sapphire and her parents is a delight to read. Contrary to many novels portraying difficult, strained parent-child relationships this one oozes love and warmth. Wulf's relatives, his father Anders and his brother Duncan, are a bit less warm and loving, both of them possessing this cruel, mean streak but in the end the bond between them turns out to be just as strong as Katie's with her parents.
Sometimes it's really great to go into a book unknown, unprepared and totally without expectations. This was one of those times and what I received was a book able to put erotic fantasy romance on my reading map. Combined with the Sci-Fi touch and feel I got a taste of a genre that I don't read regularly. Although I'm not really a Sci-Fi kind of girl (at least not with my reading) I really liked it. It's a nice mix of fantasy, futuristic and historical elements and the book totally caught me off guard. To be honest I am not an avid reader of fantasy, not even fantasy romance but I must admit I have to readjust that statement after reading IN THE FLESH. Maybe that is because it had all the elements I appreciate in other subgenres of romance. The writing was masterful, it was fast-paced, it had suspense, it had humor and it had a love story that was excellently told. And on top of all that it had elements I really wasn't expecting.
Livia Dare’s approach of concubines is one that is rare in the romance world. They are prized, revered and respected. The way she combined this outlook with some scenes that made me think of the romances I read when I just discovered this genre made it a refreshing and original book. There were scenes where Wulf would portray a true conquering warrior with Sapphire as his captive. These scenes brought back memories of the romance novels from back when I was a young girl and read those books with a pounding heart and all flustered. Since then I've become an experienced enough romance reader to recognize and appreciate a great romance novel when I read one and this was definitely that. Furthermore IN THE FLESH was very erotic. Because I went into the book knowing only that it was a fantasy romance I wasn't prepared for the rather explicit love scenes. They were a nice and unexpected treat and an addition to the intriguing and fast-paced plot. A lot happens in the book, keeping me entertained from the first to the last page. I was surprised in a good way with every chapter. I loved the characters, I loved the plot and I melted at the "kidnapping scene" where Wulf takes Sapphire to D'Ashier.
Livia Dare had a surprise for me at every turn. There were moments I thought I knew where she was going with the story but then she'd throw in something totally unpredictable. IN THE FLESH is a perfect mix of great characterization, action and old school romance. It is lush, emotionally gripping and definitely red hot. She has created an elaborate world that has a lot of potential for future books of this trilogy. I am glad I had the pleasure to review this book as an ARC for ROOB because with IN THE FLESH she has given me a very promising and intriguing first installment of a trilogy that is in a genre I would never have discovered on my own: erotic fantasy romance. I'm extremely curious as to where she is taking this trilogy. The end left me with a touching HEA but also with many unanswered questions about how things will proceed.
Quotes: He sensed she was a kindred spirit, a primitive creature like himself in a world that had long ago evolved and been tamed.
Only when her hands fell to her sides and her legs hung limp over his shoulders did he desist and rest his cheek against her thigh with a breathless chuckle of masculine triumph. As her senses drifted back into awareness, Sapphire resigned herself to the truth. She was in deep trouble. (less)
Memorable Scenes: - Troy and Miranda's reunion scene at the glass house > heartbreaking and sweet
Miranda Granger is proper, serious a...more3,75 stars!!
Memorable Scenes: - Troy and Miranda's reunion scene at the glass house > heartbreaking and sweet
Miranda Granger is proper, serious and responsible. She also comes across as sad. After a near scandal she has curbed her impulsivity and true passionate nature and past mistakes haunt her. Troy awakens her true nature but she fights the attraction as to not make the same mistakes she made in the past. A past where she fell victim to a fortune hunter who ruined her reputation, chose money over her and left her no choice but the life of a spinster.
Troy Davenport/DeWitt is an American and a painter. He’s handsome, masculine and boyishly charming. Troy is immediately fascinated by Miranda and not only as his muse or model. Miranda is afraid of the feelings Troy evoke in her, afraid she'll succumb once more to a fortune hunter's seduction. What she doesn't know is that Troy isn't the uncultured poor artist he appears to be.
As the story is very character-driven and I took no review notes about a plot, I’m assuming there was no significant or discernible plot to speak of. I didn’t mind that as the romance between Troy and Miranda and their intricate and moving back-stories were sufficient in holding my attention from start to finish
A MIDNIGHT CLEAR is set in the England of 1908. This early 20th century time period is a new period for me in reading historical romances as I've read only Medieval, Victorian and Regency. I must say I liked it a lot as it's historical yet with a bit more modern feel in terms of technology (motorcars instead of carriages...watches...). This combination worked very well for me.
This was a delightful read about money, scandal, social standing and outward appearances that pulled me in straight away. I was captivated by the artist in Troy and intrigued by Miranda's past indiscretion that's hinted at from the start. I was a little thrown back at the flashbacks to several years earlier in a few inconsecutive chapters but this was only a minor thing. The flashbacks were needed to understand the characters and I was glad Kristi Astor inserted them, I just don’t know if the points of insertion were conductive to the flow of the story.
A MIDNIGHT CLEAR is a very well written character-driven historical with intriguing tidbits being unraveled slowly to reveal the backgrounds of two wonderful characters who find their soul mates in each other.
Favorite Quote: She swallowed a lump in her throat. "Most people would say you're too young to settle down and take a wife. Especially one of...of an advanced age." "Then most people don't know their arse from their elbow. And good God, Miranda--an 'advanced age'? You're not yet thirty."
Memorable Scenes: - Todd and Blake's banter in the gym's locker room > very funny - Bakery tour in NYC > sweet in every sense of the word, and made me crave cupcakes
THE ICING ON THE CAKE is a sweet, contemporary romance about Michelle Snow, who puts up her profile on an online dating site after a talk with her longtime friends about dating or rather, the lack thereof, Cute and witty software consultant Todd Bracken is the one picked by Michelle based on his online profile. They hit it off immediately, both online and in real life after their first face-to-face meeting and a lovely romance develops through emails, texts and dates, which were funny and endearing.
Michelle is the middle child of three and in real estate marketing but she dreams of opening her own cupcake bakery. She’s independent, considerate and not a loner but used to doing things alone and on her own. Slowly she learns to lean on, trust and share with Todd.
Todd is the youngest child of three and the proverbial anchor in the storm. He’s dependable and romantic. He’s also cute and funny. He uses humor as way of defense and coping with stuff. Though he’s had plenty of dating experience he has never met and felt immediately so comfortable with someone as he does with Michelle.
Both Michelle and Todd are sweet and easy-going, yet driven and with passion for everything they do. It’s a perfect match, completing and complementing each other and compatible in many, many ways.
Though both True Vows books I’ve read cover different stages and origins of a romantic relationship and do this on different intensity levels I think each one describes romance, love and relationships in it’s own original and unique way.
What I did miss in THE ICING ON THE CAKE was a bit of intensity, a bit of conflict and yet that’s also what makes it real, because that’s funny enough I saw a lot of similarities with my own love story (I also “met” my husband online and there isn’t much conflict in our relationship). Alison Kent delivered this lovely book through very smooth writing and laced it with the humor I love so much in my romances. Subtle humor and teasing banter alternated and gave the book a genuine feel-good vibe.
THE ICING ON THE CAKE is a contemporary romance that initially starts as an online dating romance but quickly moves on to a true real life romance and slowly evolves into a solid and deep loving relationship. It's very hard to pinpoint what I love about these Reality Based Romance ™ books but I definitely love the down-to-earth, boy/girl next door, "real" characters, they appeal to me on a whole different level than non- Reality Based Romance ™ characters do. I find them wonderful to read as they form a down-to-earth counterpart to the high-intensity imaginary romances I normally read and I am definitely looking forward to the next one in this series.
One last thing about THE ICING ON THE CAKE. It made me crave cupcakes like mad and if I wasn't on a diet I'd whipped out the cake pan and made myself some of the cupcakes described in this book because they sounded just heavenly and delicious!
Favorite Quotes: Was The One really out there? Someone not to complete her, but to complement her? To see the good in her and make her better? To allow her to do the same and to build on that trust, creating something together that would be bigger than either of them could be alone?
Maddie Moore lost her job, dumped her abusive and jerk of an ex and is ready for a new beginning and some luck. What better place for that than Lucky...moreMaddie Moore lost her job, dumped her abusive and jerk of an ex and is ready for a new beginning and some luck. What better place for that than Lucky Harbor, where she's inherited a third of a property called Lucky Harbor Resort. Her two half-sisters, Tara and Chloe, inherited the other two thirds. Their inheritance turns out to be a run-down inn in dire need of renovation.
Maddie wants to stay in Lucky Harbor and build a life for herself while her sisters want to renovate, sell and get the hell out of Dodge. When looking for a contractor to renovate the resort Maddie crosses paths with the hot biker she almost ran off the road when she was driving into town and it turns out that the biker, Jax Cullen, is the perfect man for the job. Maddie has sworn off men but she didn’t count on Jax to throw a wrench in that resolve with his sexy self and his hot kisses.
Maddie is a clumsy city girl and a typical middle sister, always the mediator and approval seeker. She’s sweet, smart, resilient and a compulsive organizer and list maker. Of the three sisters she’s dubbed “the mouse” but she’s determined to shed that moniker by sticking up for what she wants and sticking to her plan to revive the resort. She’s also yearning to belong, for somewhere to plant her roots and for a family who wants her as much as she wants them.
Jax Cullen, defense attorney-turned-contractor, is always trying to take care of people in trouble. He’s gentle, easy-going and caring and he’s hot! Especially when he dons his tool belt. But Jax is a lot more than meets the eye. What Maddie gets is definitely more than what she sees. Jax is very yummy and fits right in with all the other Jill Shalvis heroes I’ve read. He’s sweet yet commanding with bad boy looks and a heart of gold.
There were plenty intriguing secondary characters and some are worth more than a brief mention: Maddie’s sisters. Tara is the eldest sister, dubbed “the steel magnolia” and she lives up to that nickname. She’s a bitchy know-it-all with interesting secrets. Chloe is the youngest sister, appropriately dubbed “the wild child, she a free spirit and an adventure seeker who just blabs out just about anything that comes to her mind, appropriate or not. She’s sarcastic and a daredevil and she and Tara are like oil and water.
I suspected the other books in this trilogy will be about the respective sisters and the excerpt in the back of SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE at least confirmed that the next book is about Tara and a certain secondary character I won’t mention for fear of spoiling something that is important in Maddie and Jax’ relationship. I do have to say this next book is very cleverly set up in the first book. Without giving away too much yet still giving you enough, Jill Shalvis entices you to want to know more about the next couple and I’m also already speculating about who she’ll pair Chloe with.
I loved the sisterly banter and dynamic between the women. It was a welcome change to the male banter I’ve read recently, although Jax and his buddies Ford and Sawyer had some nice banter going on that I enjoyed as well. I also loved the humor in this book. I’m a sucker for humor in romance novels and Jill Shalvis delivers on it every time. Not only did she do it this time with the funny quotes at the start of every chapter but also Maddie’s clumsy way and the sisterly antics definitely contributed to the fun vibe this book had, next to the emotional impact. It took me a few chapters to get into the story but once I did it was smooth-sailing all the way to the last page. Maddie was awesome and Jax was to die for. They carried this character-driven story wonderfully together with the secondary characters, both the walk-ons and the important ones.
This is the third series by Jill Shalvis I’ve embarked upon and it’s another hit for me. Though the set-up is different from her Wilder Adventures series or her Pacific Heat series, the writing is just as excellent. It’s filled with humor, sensual chemistry and wonderful characters. I didn't think she could top the Wilder Adventure trilogy or the 2 current books in the Pacific Heat series but she has definitely proved me wrong with this first book in the Lucky Harbor Trilogy. I laughed, I sniffed, I got tingly and I thoroughly enjoyed this feel good book that seeps into your pores slow and easy but with the aim of a heat-seeking missile. Jill Shalvis keeps you engaged and entertained from chapter to chapter and before you know it you’re at the end of another great contemporary romance, craving the next in the series!
Favorite Quote: Unlike last night’s tender kisses, this was a little demanding, and a whole lot wild, and when he slid a thigh between hers, she lost the ability to think. Last night, he’d been seeking permission. Not this time. This time he buried his fingers into her hair and claimed her mouth, pulling her even closer, a hand caressing down her back as if to soothe as well as incite, claiming another little piece of her heart in the process. Sneaky bastard. She’d tell him so, but her tongue was a little busy. (less)
FIRE AND ICE Andi Radcliffe is a wedding planner. She’s responsible, sensible and organized but in the face of a fire and then possibly freezing to dea...moreFIRE AND ICE Andi Radcliffe is a wedding planner. She’s responsible, sensible and organized but in the face of a fire and then possibly freezing to death she decides to be impulsive and take a chance with the sexy firefighter who came to the rescue. She’s the type of girl of takes care of others first and puts herself last.
Jared Stone is a firefighter. He’s a widower, guilt-ridden and still very much in love with his late wife. But when he meets Andi he starts to realize that sometimes opening up to new people in his life and even a new love, doesn’t demean his first love
Jared and Andi have different expectations of their encounter. For Jared it's casual hot sex while Andi's hoping it could grow into something more meaningful.
I enjoyed this first story of the anthology. It set the stage for the other two stories, introducing some of the main characters from those stories. In the beginning I did have a feeling of missing the emotional connection, both between the main characters and between them and me. This feeling disappeared when I read about a third of the story. Something clicked and the second sex scene was more to my liking than the first.
Despite the small page-count, FIRE AND ICE is a well-rounded story that's a balanced mix between erotic romance and character-development but because of the shortness of the story it also felt a little bit rushed. However, the ending was lovely and emotional and made up for the rushed feel.
Favorite Quote: She must look ridiculous, yet he was still staring at her as if he wanted to eat her from head to toe, paying special attention to the goodies in the middle.
Rating: 3.5 stars
SLIPPERY SLOPE Brianna George is creator and host of the TV show ‘The Scoop. She’s a native Canadian who overcame her difficult past and became a successful TV personality and a local celebrity. She’s focused, grounded and pragmatic. A perfectionist with a terrible track record with men and dating and an all work no play kind of woman. Beneath the capable exterior there's an air of insecurity and vulnerability and a fear of failure. She longs to blend in and be respected, to overcome her past riddled with gossip and preconceived opinions.
Zack Michaels is an Australian ski instructor. He’s outgoing, impulsive, vibrant and charming. He’s perceptive and enjoys life to the fullest and his zest for life rubs off on people. But he’s also sensitive and perceptive
SLIPPERY SLOPE appealed to me much more than the first and this probably had to do with the trope as I love older woman-younger man stories. I really like this trope and think Susan Lyons did a great job of making it work in this story. I also like that the age difference between Zack and Brianna didn’t form the main conflict between them.
I really enjoyed the banter between Brianna and Zack, which also brought along some humor in the story. Zack encourages Brianna to loosen up and be more playful. This story felt a bit less rushed than the first but as with the first story the resolution of the conflict was whirlwind quick. And again Susan Lyons wrote a wonderful and emotional end to the story.
Favorite Quotes: "If that's your not-so-subtle way of finding out if I'm single, the answer is yes. But don't take that to mean--" "Mean what?" He gazed into her eyes and sank into pools of bittersweet chocolate. Dark skin, dark eyes. Did she taste like chocolate, too? She gave a start and blinked. "Uh, that I'm interested in . . . whatever." "Ah, but you've never tried my brand of whatever," he teased. Her eyes narrowed. "I've tested enough brands to be skeptical about the overall product."
Other men had given her tentative kisses and forceful ones. Never had a guy kissed her with this blend of gentleness and confidence. His lips were soft, teasing, seductive, and she had to respond, to open her mouth on a sigh of pleasure.
Rating: 4 stars
IN HOT PURSUIT OF A BAD BOY Madeleine 'Maddie' Daniels is a massage therapist. She’s sweet, warmhearted, inventive, tenacious and passionate.
Logan Carver is a (undercover) cop. He’s the troublemaker kid that went from foster home to foster home. He puts up a rough, tough bad boy front but deep down he's a good guy, an outsider longing to belong somewhere and have someone who cares about him.
The chemistry between Maddie and Logan is the most sizzling of the three couples. This made their story stand out the most for me. Also the fact that their story didn't start out as "just sex" between virtual strangers, like the other two did, but had a foundation in a friendship started long before, made IN HOT PURSUIT OF A BAD BOY the best of the three stories for me.
The sex scenes are hot and explosive and I loved the shower scene. I also loved how Maddie went about to get the guy she'd loved since she was a teen. She knows he's a tough nut to crack emotionally so she decides to take the physical route and hopes it will be enough for him to realize he wants her for more than a temporary sexual fling and return her love.
I’m starting to sound like a broken record but like in the other two stories the ending was lovely and emotional and a perfect closure to the entire anthology.
Favorite Quotes: Her smile touched a chord in his heart that hadn't been strummed since that last night he'd been with her.
No need for him to know she was all nerves, wondering if he still made her heart lurch and her hormones zing the way no other man ever had.
If he'd played his cards right, he could've been in her bed right now, using his rigid boner for something much more satisfying than holding up his jeans.
Rating: 4 stars
IN GENERAL ABOUT THE ANTHOLOGY: The setting for this anthology is a destination wedding at a chalet at Whistler, Canada: Alpine Hideaway. The couple that is getting married has an important secondary role in all three stories but they are never truly in the foreground. Every story has one or both main characters who has a link with the bride and/or groom.
This single author anthology is my first encounter with Susan Lyons writing despite having her Awesome Foursome Series on my shelves (I still have to read them) and it was a pleasant first encounter. I really liked her clean, crisp writing style, tinged with subtle humor and rife with hot chemistry and explosive encounters.
The three stories balance each other out in a great way. They all have a different trope and vibe and yet form a cohesive whole aided by the setting and the complex, fascinating characters. Together they form a lovely anthology about finding love that was wrapped up in a fitting epilogue. (less)
First line: For over a week the envelope sat on the dining room table unnoticed, buried under a stack of birdseed cata...moreRating: 8 out of 10 - GREAT READ!
First line: For over a week the envelope sat on the dining room table unnoticed, buried under a stack of birdseed catalogues and household bills like a bomb waiting to go off.
Memorable Scenes: - The scene where Tay tells Lizzie about the accident > this scene hit an emotional button while the rest of the book was pretty lighthearted and fun
Lizzie Bea Carpenter is a single mom, trying to wing her way through life, supporting herself and her daughter, working as a waitress. I really liked Lizzie. Her relationship with her daughter Paige was depicted in a realistic way (as far as I can judge that from a daughter’s POV, as I’m not a mother).
Dante ‘Tay’ Giovanni caused a deadly accident by running a red light. He’s ran away from his life and is now trying to redeem himself by helping others, trying to escape his past and his memories. Tay is mysterious and guilt-ridden. He has a complicated past but he also has a big heart, is a fixer and wants to be helpful.
My first encounter with Sophie Gunn’s work was a truly pleasant one. I utterly enjoyed reading HOW SWEET IT IS. I was effortlessly pulled into the lives and problems of Lizzie and those who surround her. The easy, crisp writing style definitely contributed to my enjoyment but I also loved the premise and the depth in the characters, their background stories, the small town setting and the impact it had on the romance and story.
I loved the humor in this book. There was a layer of subtle humor throughout the entire book and sometimes that subtle romance would evolve into straight laugh-out-loud moment or put-a-big-grin-on-my-face moments.
Sophie Gunn had a knack for keeping you hooked and curious to know how certain events are going to turn out and I really liked that. The way she combined the main story with the multiple side-stories, without taking away the focus from the main characters, kept the book fast-paced and moving full steam ahead.
Though Tay’s guilt-ridden and self-punishing attitude started to get on my nerves a little at some point, it didn’t bother me immensely because it was needed to make the resolution believable and give it the power of impact it eventually had. It also contributed to the realistic feel of the book and separated it from the fluffy light contemporaries making it a little darker without losing its humorous tone.
Reading this book left me with a warm fuzzy feeling. HOW SWEET IT IS is a lovely, endearing and sweet contemporary romance that any contemporary romance reader can’t help but warm up to within a few pages. It’s about redemption, forgiveness, and the ability to let go and move on, about looking toward the future instead of back to the past. And when you flip the last page, you’ll emit a satisfied sigh, awaiting the HEA for the next member of The Enemy Club.
Favorite Quotes: “You don’t know what I want.” “Neither do you, obviously. But I have a feeling it has something to do with this place.” “Here? Why?” “I don’t know, but I think you do. Isn’t it kind of obvious, Liz? You do the opposite of what you want because you think it’s right. But I don’t give a shit about right or wrong. I don’t even believe in right or wrong. Just in the truth and being honest. Come on, talk to me Lizzie.”
Then she leaned down and kissed him ever so gently on the corner of his lips. He didn’t move. His eyes were on hers, intense and unreadable. So she kissed the middle of his lips, softly, lingering on the warmth. She felt the presence of his body under hers, totally still, as if venom from her kiss had paralyzed him. She stood up again and went back to her chair. They looked at each other across the room. “Wow,” he said. “That was a surprise.” “I did it because I wanted to do it,” she said. “And because I don’t give a crap about what you want. I’m going to fix you, Tay, whatever the hell you say. Because I want you. And I’ve decided to get what I want, no matter what it means to anyone else.” For once he was speechless. “I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.” “I’m not so sure I care what you think.” And then, to her utter relief, he smiled.
Memorable Scene: - Elena’s reunion with her infant son > absolutely heartbreaking!
The heroine of this book, Elena Ravenscliffe, is gambled away by...more
Memorable Scene: - Elena’s reunion with her infant son > absolutely heartbreaking!
The heroine of this book, Elena Ravenscliffe, is gambled away by her irresponsible and self-centered husband. She ends up in a harem as a sex slave after being bought at a slave market. As the harem girl Jinan she is forced to grow up from a young, almost naïve girl into a strong, resilient woman of the world.
The hero of this book was a bit of a problem for me. He’s a former opium-addict and from the start I found him a little selfish and I didn’t really click with him to begin with. Sadly this never improved throughout the book.
Though I really enjoyed reading this book, there were also a few things that didn’t quite work for me. First was the hero, but there was also the placement of chapter 3 in relation to chapters 4 through 7 in the chronology. I didn’t understand the reason for not keeping it chronologically and put the events of that chapter after chapter 7. I am sure the author and/or editor must have had a reason for this but it never was clear to me and though this did not lessen the enjoyment of the book, it did take me out of the reading flow a little during that first part of the book.
In this unusual historical romance Tiffany Clare is not afraid to touch subjects like prostitution, drug addiction and kidnapping in a way that was acceptable to me as a reader who is sometimes wary of these subjects. I also liked that she kept non hero/heroine sexual activities from going all the way in detail and mostly off the page, the way she did for example in the scene with Jinan and Amir. I don’t think I could have handled or appreciated a detailed scene at that point.
While I really loved the first part of the book, despite the minor chronology issue, I was a bit less enthusiastic about the start of the second part of the book as in that part I lost the connection with the romance and the characters a bit and I missed some crucial plot information, which once again took me out of the reading flow trying to sort it out in my head. Though I can’t fully condone what Griffin did in the beginning of this second part of the book, on the other hand Jinan had refused to tell him about herself and her past so he had no way of knowing how hurtful his actions were. However, what he does further on is inexcusable. He just seemed totally blind and deaf to Jinan’s feelings and completely unwilling to see the difficulty of the position she was in and in my opinion that just went on too long and Griffin went too far in his hardheadedness.
As much as Griffin made me want to pound my head against the wall, I really loved and admired Jinan for the strong, determined woman she had become, standing her ground and facing a man deaf and blind to her protests, reasoning and dilemma.
I must say that a HEA seemed unattainable and I was constantly wondering how on earth the story was going to have a happy ending. And when the conclusion had started to take form I couldn’t help but feel a bit of trepidation. It was certainly not a HEA the way I was expecting and for me there was not enough groveling from Griffin’s part in the end to justify his redemption. The end left me a bit unsatisfied despite the HEA that was definitely there.
SURRENDER OF A LADY is a wonderful and promising historical romance by debut author Tiffany Clare, with an admirable heroine, an unusual setting and an extraordinary premise. While the harem girl/sex slave trope is not uncommon in historical romance, Tiffany Clare managed to give it a unique twist that left me with absolutely no reason to question her imagination and writing skills. Her newest book is definitely on my order-list.
Favorite Quote: She was only Jinan here. Elena had died long ago when the last shred of decency she once esteemed herself in had been stolen. By the man she’d been forced to marry in the end. Men never brought her love. They brought her misery upon misery. Loneliness.
As far as summaries go, you'll have to do with the blurb because I can't say anything more without spoiling and this is a book best read w...more4.25 stars!!
As far as summaries go, you'll have to do with the blurb because I can't say anything more without spoiling and this is a book best read without spoilers that would ruin a lot of pivotal emotional moments in the story. SECOND CHANCES touches subjects as D/s and bondage but also emotional stuff as family bonds and a tense mother-daughter relationship, loss, grief and a bunch of other stuff I can't mention for fear of spoilers.
This story has three main characters and I'm not talking ménage here. It's a complicated love story filled with heat, emotions and struggles.
After a break-up with her cheating ex-boyfriend, Rori Simon leaves the life she's build in Paris and moves back to her hometown and her roots after ten years. She re-connects with Jude, the town’s bad boy, womanizer and her friend whom she had a crush on when she was a young. She also decides she's not going to chase after Jude him because no matter how much she wants Jude she's also realistic enough to realize exclusiveness is not in his vocabulary. Though she is falling for him, and has fallen for him she demands respect and will not taking his crap.
Throughout the story I couldn't fully connect with Rori. She was too fickle for me at times but I can't say I didn't like her. I liked her as a heroine because she was strong, self-confident and realistic. I just had trouble with some of her decisions and I never quite felt her emotionally except during a pivotal emotional scene where her hurt broke my heart.
Jude Callahan is a commanding charmer and a commitment-phobic, skirt-chasing womanizer. He’s not the one-woman type but rather juggles multiple women at the same time, enjoying them but never committing to one of them. A fact he openly admits to and doesn't pretend he's not. And it's been made easy for him with the women falling at his feet so he doesn't even have to make an effort.
Until Rori's return changes things and he finds himself doing the chasing instead of the other way around and he starts feeling things (jealousy, possessiveness) he's never felt before. Rori calls... no, screams, to his urge to dominate. Deep down he's not the carefree bachelor he seems to be. Opening up and making himself vulnerable because of how he's starting to feel about Rori scares him to death, which is why he inadvertently pushes her away as he doesn't open up to her other than sexually.
This drives Rori to Zach Helm, her best friend’s brother. Zach is the total opposite of Jude. He is ready to commit and so the focus of hero shifted to him, another Dominant but very openly so. He fills the emotional void that Jude left. Though both Zach and Jude are Doms Zach is more sure and comfortable with his mastery, which made him come out on top and made the sex scenes with him and Rori hotter to read.
Jude really started to get on my nerves with his petty jealousy over Rori once she's with Zach. He came across as a petulant child stomping his foot because he didn't get what he wanted but only wanted it after he threw it away and someone else grabbed it. Still, as much as he got on my nerves and as much as I wanted to smack him for being an ass to Rori, Jude was the character I clicked with the most.
Zach to me was kept on the surface as a character, understandably once you get to the heart of the story and I couldn’t completely click with Rori. Jude was the one who made a significant enough character development for me. Then something big, significant and heartbreaking happens and Rori and Jude grow close again and at the start of that development in the story my feelings about it were ambivalent.
I admired how Lauren Dane tackled the situation and the romance in this novel but I wasn’t sure if I was going to love it in the end. It's definitely not your run-of-the-mill romance novel that you just go through the motions with. It made me stop and wonder what I would do in Rori's place faced with the situations Lauren Dane put her in.
There were some things I liked less in the story. One thing that bothered me a bit was the flashbacks during sex scenes. Rori and Jude and Zach had them and they took me out of the sexy times mood, even when they were flashbacks with a sexual tone. Also Rori attracts dominant men but I didn't find a foundation in her character to suggest she's a sub other than both Zach and Jude saying she was "the perfect sub". The "something clicked into place inside her" didn't completely work for me either, as it was sudden and left too unfounded for me to truly accept it.
However there were so much more things that I did like about this story and they made the above little issues pale in comparison. I loved the quick alternations between Rori and Jude's POVs, which gave the story a very fast-paced, feel and kept it moving forward.
The characters and their emotional development were also pluses for me. This goes for Jude especially because he could have been a character easy to dislike, even hate, but the way Lauren Dane portrayed him you just can't because he's very unapologetically upfront about who and what he is, he learns from his mistakes and his redemption is believable and heartfelt.
The story at a swift pace and a lot of things were happening yet it never felt rushed. SECOND CHANCES is emotional, witty and super hot. The emotions make it honest, genuine and realistic. The romance that is not of the flowery, all sunshine and roses kind touched me deeply. I cried through the last 4 or 5 chapters and had to put it down a few times just to get a grip.
Lauren Dane ripped my heart out with this book but she also put it back, whole and rich with a new emotional reading experience. This shouldn’t surprise me because it's Lauren Dane. Need I say more? I love her writing whether it's contemporary, futuristic, full-out erotic or just sexy. She writes, I love! (less)
Victor Connagher is a former star quarterback now CEO of Dallas cable channel VCONN, Victor is commanding, fierce, outwardly calm and colle...more4.5 stars!!
Victor Connagher is a former star quarterback now CEO of Dallas cable channel VCONN, Victor is commanding, fierce, outwardly calm and collected, inside a volcano of intensity on the verge of erupting, which made him an intriguing character that demanded my full attention, whether I was ready to give it or not.
His darker sexual needs and urges, a nasty experience with his ex-fiancée and the subsequent difficulty to find the woman who accepts that side of him and is able to handle him and his vicious needs when he's on the edge, have made him weary of dating or frequenting the BDSM scene. He needs a woman who can handle the Master and love the man.
Shiloh Holmes is an associate producer at VCONN. She’s saucy, bubbly, submissive yet defiant, open and energetic. Shiloh knows what she wants and goes for it, fully aware that there’s a chance of getting hurt but she doesn’t let that stop her. She’s undeniably drawn to Victor's dominance and the reality show she's developed is her means to secure him as her Master.
HURT ME SO GOOD starts with copycat TV channel stealing their concept for a show and the search for the mole/spy within VCONN who is selling them out to the competition. They need a new show to save the season and Shiloh pitches her idea for a reality TV show on BDSM, America's Next Top sub. For her the show is her final chance to obtain Victor as her Master, something she's craved from the moment she laid eyes on him and saw the one and only man who can give her what she craves.
Victor and his crop had me in his thrall from the very first chapter and I felt like pushing Shiloh out of the picture (think stairs scene in Showgirls) so I could take her place. And this is me talking! Whimpering wuss of the century who doesn't tolerate the faintest hint of pain without curling up into a ball of misery.
Victor's need to hurt and Shiloh's need for pain are very in tune and it makes their chemistry smoldering and intense. But both of them are also hindered by feelings of insecurity as to how they can truly give the other one what they really need without causing irreparable damage
Victor was so hard on himself, so afraid to hurt Shiloh and so filled with guilt, yet not seeing that what is truly hurting Shiloh is his guilt, him shutting her out every time he uses his crop on her and not giving himself completely. I was truly wondering how this was going to change and what was needed for him to let loose and embrace himself and accept what Shiloh was offering him in terms of love and submission.
All the characters in this book are utterly fascinating and anything but cookie-cutter lift this contemporary erotic romance to a high level. This goes for both Victor and Shiloh but also for secondary characters like Malinda, Patrick and Victor’s mother. Without them this book wouldn’t have half the impact it had on me now.
And Joely Sue, I think the m/m romance readers would love a Leon-Brandon story *wink*
With HURT ME SO GOOD Joely Sue Burkhart has combined two things that utterly fascinate me: reality TV and a D/s relationship and she gave me a deeper look into the sadist/masochist aspect of BDSM instead of the Master/slave relationships I've read about and don't really feel comfortable with.
The way Joely Sue Burkhart describes the feelings and the dynamics, the hunger and need, is mesmerizing. The way she describes insecurity, vulnerability and pain is simply out of this world. I have no words to do it justice with a description. I had the pleasure and honor of proofreading HURT ME SO GOOD many months ago and was utterly impressed with the way Joely Sue Burkhart wanted to bring Victor's story to her readers. Now having read it with a reviewer's eye I can only be even more impressed. From the first to the last word she reeled me in with a poignant and emotional story within the realm of D/s that is a more than worthy successor of DEAR SIR I’M YOURS!
Thank you, Joely Sue, for another great installment of the Connaghers, a family that has found a firm place in my reader’s heart and on my (digital) shelves. I can’t wait to see what Vicki will bring to the table. (less)
WOLF TRACKS picks up right after the previous installment of the Granite Lake Wolves series, with Maggie’s best friend, Pam Quinn attending her and Er...moreWOLF TRACKS picks up right after the previous installment of the Granite Lake Wolves series, with Maggie’s best friend, Pam Quinn attending her and Erik's (the main couple from WOLF GAMES) wedding as the bridesmaid and Eric’s friend TJ Lynus being the best man.
When TJ finds out the hot girl he’s to partner in the wedding party is his mate, he knows it’s going to take a lot of convincing to make her accept that, not in the least because Pam knows nothing of the fact that Maggie belongs to a pack of wolf shifters. He comes up with a plan and as is typical of TJ, his plan kind of impulsive and not thoroughly thought out. Will he be able to convince Pam to take him as a mate? Will he convince his pack that having a full human for a mate is no reason to kick his ass?
TJ is the younger brother the Granite Lake Wolves’ Alpha and from the moment he appeared in WOLF SIGNS and WOLF GAMES I fell for him and his klutzy, clumsy ways. He’s a wilderness guide and has the keenest and best sense of smell in the pack. His clumsiness makes him prone to accidents. TJ is a sweet, cute combination of lighthearted and goofy with protective, calm and reassuring. His boyish charm and confidence come across very clearly and he has many hidden talents. When I read TJ sang I got a little giddy, when he whipped out a guitar I positively swooned.
Pam is a dog handler for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Maggie's (heroine WOLF GAMES) best friend. She’s a little cynical and very outspoken. She’s competent and doesn’t hesitate to say what’s on her mind. The last thing she’s looking for is a relationship, let alone a life mate but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that when you’re the mate of a wolf shifter like TJ.
The chemistry between Pam and TJ is strong and palpable. It carried the story wonderfully next to the witty bantering between them. There were moments it seemed Pam would outshine and predominate TJ but those moments were rare.
Pam took the news of TJ, Maggie and the others being wolves better than I thought. The being mated to TJ was more difficult for her to come to terms with but eventually she took that in stride too. I thought it was very refreshing and inventive of Vivian Arend to pair TJ with a full human, this was new to the series as previous pairings have all been werewolf with werewolf (full-blood and half-breed). It just fitted TJ and the set-up for his character perfectly. Why take the easy road when the hard road is so much more likely to trip you up?
While my very high expectations for TJ's book were definitely met in terms of heat, chemistry and humor I did miss some sort of conflict in the story...expected something like TJ having to make a choice between Pam and his pack or Pam resisting more. However, I understand that with the low page count (in other words WAY too short) there was no room for a conflict to be set up and resolved without sacrificing the strongpoint of the story.
I would have liked a more elaborate epilogue though, especially after finding out this is the final book in the Granite Lake Wolves Series. But...as I also found out there'll be a spin-off series (Yay Shaun! Yay Jared?) I'm hoping for glimpses of the Pam, TJ and the others of the Granite Lake Pack.
Having thoroughly enjoyed reading this series I know that if you loved the previous books in the series, you shouldn’t miss WOLF TRACKS. It’s a worthy last installment of a lovely and humorous set of books and I’m glad I won’t have to miss the wolfies forever as there is more coming from the same world and setting.
I was all hot and bothered and laughing at the same time. I really like this combination in Vivian Arend's writing that never fails to please me. The humor, her signature humor was there in full force from the start. The smile that leeched itself on my face from the second sentence stayed there throughout the entire book. Another great read from one of my favorite Samhain Publishing authors. (less)
Memorable Scenes: - On the dresser in the motelroom > Need I really say more? - Scissor scene > Wow, just wow! I was holding my breath...
Quote - "Warning: Scorching sex, icy scissor play and an anonymous woman taking a wet slide down one hot ex-fireman's pole. Beware of hot flashes and spontaneous combustion."
Seriously! With a warning like this, how can I go wrong! After that warning I just had to read this book and not only because it's an Inez Kelley sexy contemporary, who has been known to get her fingers in my panties (Don’t ask! You don’t want to know LOL)
Bram Winters is an ex-firefighter turned Emergency Communications Specialist. I loved Bram. He’s straightforward, protective and sweet. He made me weak in the knees!
Bram finds out the heroine’s name at the very end of the book and as I enjoyed being in the dark about her name and finally discovering it together with Bram, which was a beautiful moment in the book, I am not revealing it here either. So, like Bram I’ll stick with Lady when referring to the heroine. Lady is down to earth, stubborn and pragmatic. I really liked her in the beginning when she was mysterious and I didn’t know too much about her but towards the end, when I got to know her a bit better, I liked her even more.
Understandably the story is told from Bram's perspective in the beginning. We get to know the nameless lady through Bram's eyes and POV and I was curious to see if we'd get a scene from her POV too later in the story. Funny thing was that as soon as I wrote the previous sentence I was treated to a scene told from Lady’s POV. Thank you Ms. Kelley for knowing exactly when to bring what’s needed to be brought.
I really felt sorry for Bram when they met by coincidence months after the one-night stand but having read the blurb I also understood why the nameless goddess did what she did. I did think the ending was a bit abruptly and for me the whole Jason storyline (stalking ex) could have been left out in favor of some more Bram and his lady but all in all once again I truly enjoyed this red-hot novella.
Inez Kelley sets the pages on fire with her erotic scenes. They are scorching and beautifully written, just the way I like them...There’s a scissor scene that’s just so hot, it has ruined the reality shows SHEAR GENIUS (about finding the best hairstylist) for me as I can’t watch the show now without thinking of Bram's talent with the scissor and mentally naming him sheer genius.
I've said it before and I'll say it again and I'll probably say it with every Inez Kelley book I'll read but her writing just mesmerizes me, sucks me in, takes hold of me and doesn't let go. I can't even find the right words to describe her writing and why I love it so much. She just never disappoints me with her erotic contemporaries.
I don’t have the time to do a separate Quotes-Post for LIPSTICK ON HIS COLLAR so I’ve included all the quotes I marked in this review. They were picked for several reasons. Some made me sigh with joy over Inez Kelley’s wonderful writing, some made me hot and bothered and one made me put the book down and laugh out loud before I could continue (Can you guess which one that was?). I hope you all enjoy them as much as I did…
Favorite Quotes: She opened her eyes and her gaze landed on him like a brushfire. Hot met dry, and a spark flashed, exploded and raged through him. Intense and appreciative, unblinking and direct, she did not look away.
Temptation swept over him like a blistering tidal wave, stealing inside before he could think to shove it aside to break the powerful connection. He should. He would. In a minute.
Her kiss seared his bones. This was no gentle first kiss. It was a detonation of lust, yearning and passion like he'd never felt. Sexual combustion.
"What do you want, lady?" "Cotton candy and night at the fair. After that, you, hard and fast...and more than once."
Wet kisses, heated by flesh and served with hunger became his new favorite food, and he gorged on her mouth until he grew lightheaded.
Jealousy scented the air with an acrid odor, like a candle snuffed out by a hidden breath.
Bram in the throes of orgasm was a luscious, intoxicating sound. God, he was delicious and she wanted more.
He oozed sex appeal like an over-wet sponge and she wanted to suck every drop. One damn inch was all she needed. She closed the gap. Lust exploded. Her ears popped with the force of the attraction, and a low sigh heated her mouth before he deepened the kiss to indecent levels.
Bram wasn't supposed to be anything more than a pit stop in her sex life to repair her bruised ego and help her get back on her dating feet.
Bram didn't talk dirty until he was excited and then he melted her bones with deliciously naughty words. A lusty memory swelled like an ocean wave, tinged with the brazen light of erotic play.
Bram gripped her braid and took her mouth again. The rich taste of her blended with the robust flavor of him, and she moaned. Being claimed had never branded so hot.
His frayed breath sailed over her damp nape followed by his tongue. Low, chanting naughty words, strings of murmured eroticisms without cohesion, whispered along her skin.
Jason took a step back and swallowed. He stared at her in horror. "What's gotten into you?" "Gotten into me? Gotten into--? Okay, know what? F#ck you. No, on second thought, don't f#ck you because you suck in bed. You couldn't make a dog come with a leash and a Milk-Bone."
First line: Cole opened the eye that still worked and struggled to figure out how he had ended up on the floor.
Memorable Scenes: Sorry people, didn’t write down memorable scenes, though I know for sure that there were quite a few…I normally jot down these scenes on the Notes App on my iPhone but unfortunately I read this book during an iPhone-less stint and apparently don’t do hand-written memorable scenes notes. :)
Cole Langston is a pilot and a real life hero without making an effort to be one. He’s a sweet, confident nice guy who’s energetic, spontaneous, thoughtful and considerate. He’s also just cocky enough to pull it off without being annoying or arrogant. A ladies-man and commitment phobic until he meets Olivia and realizes she’s “the one.” However, his ladies-man reputation, despite his good and honorable intentions towards Olivia, keeps hunting their new and budding relationship. Throughout the book it comes back to bite him in the ass (almost literally in the form of a crazy ex-fling).
Cole was a character who was difficult for me to peg down. He’s not a hero I could easily fit into a labeled box. He has a dry, subtle sense of humor that made him very attractive and should have made him a hero after my own heart but his sometimes not so fine moments and actions prevent me from putting him on my favorite heroes lists. On one page I’d really like him and find him adorable. On other pages there would be glimpses of a man I had trouble connecting with and this had to do with his attitude towards the women in his past. It’s hard for me to not sound wishy-washy about this but it’s hard for me to explain what I mean. There was just some stuff that he did or didn’t do that I didn’t like/agree with. And then he’d say or do something that made me melt and go all “awww he’s actually really sweet.” I guess I will remain fickle where Cole’s concerned.
Olivia Robison is a neat freak, still living at home and still in college because of some interesting circumstances. She’s a very talented artist who works at an airport store as a clerk to put herself through business school. But business is not where her heart lies, it’s with art. She’s serious, easy-going, undemanding and appreciative of little things. She’s also a dreamer with hopes and dreams for the future despite also being practical and realistic.
Though she’s totally smitten with Cole, Olivia doesn’t understand what he, an adventurous, worldly man, sees in her, a student living with her parents and working in an airport shop.
The next note is literally copied from my review notes but I must use a disclaimer here stating that I honestly don’t remember what the heck I’m referring too. I would have to re-read the book to recall what it’s about and alas I have no time for re-reads so I’m still including it but please don’t ask me what I mean by it… *smile*
Marie Force totally surprised me with her heroine and something (which I won’t disclose due to spoiler-ish reasons) about her heroine. I definitely didn’t expect it and before reading EVERYONE LOVES A HERO I would have even said I didn’t like to read it in a contemporary romance but Force made it work perfectly with the story.
If someone has any idea of what I’m talking about here, please clue me in…LOL And I must remember that since I’m the only person who reads my review notes, it’s okay for me to disclose stuff that may be considered spoiling. *sigh*
The secondary cast contained some very interesting characters. For example, Olivia’s parents: Mary and Jerry. Mary is an agoraphobic hoarder and obsessive-compulsive shopper. Jerry is Olivia’s rock and anchor. Olivia’s other anchor and touchstone was Jenny, her best friend and cousin. There were also some interesting secondary characters surrounding Cole: I loved Tucker (and secretly hope that he’ll have his own book one day) and “Nutty” Natasha, a crazy, stalker-ish past fling of Cole’s I wanted to smack in the face. Finally there was the cute gay couple Victor and Paolo. Victor reminded me so much of a family friend of my parents I called my mom to ask about him and how he’s doing.
Humorous banter was one of the elements that contributed to the feel-good vibe this book oozes. The start was funny, sweet and endearing/touching. In other words, exactly what I expect from my favorite contemporary romance. The sex scenes are smokin’ HOT, making this book a very sexy contemporary, next to being cute and sweet.
With all the sweetness and cuteness and I wondered if the other shoe was ever going to drop. Just when I thought the book was getting too cute I started to hear that eerie JAWS theme in my head while I read how the sugary sweet romance was about to hit a rough patch. And I was glad for the conflicts and complicating factors (Cole’s women-filled past, his behavior and attitude towards them and Olivia’s doubts and insecurities) to the relationship/romance because without them the whole book just would have been too cute for my taste.
The big misunderstanding was completely in line with the development of the story and I even saw it coming. I didn’t understand Olivia’s first reaction as my first move would have been to confront Cole and ask for an explanation or at least give him an opportunity to explain. She didn’t however and this understandably led to the big resolution finale towards the HEA that belongs in romance novels. More importantly, it gave the book the emotional punch to counter the cute sweetness because those last 20-30 pages were heartbreakingly emotional.
Of course it goes without saying that all romance novels I read are romantic but it bears mentioning that EVERYONE LOVES A HERO is one of the most romantic books I’ve read in a long while. Following Cole and Olivia’s falling in love, reading about their first phone call, their first date and their first kiss gave me that warm fuzzy feeling and made me sigh and smile at the same time while reading.
I really loved my first encounter with Marie Force’s work. EVERYONE LOVES A HERO is a cute, sweet and butterflies-inducing contemporary romance written in an easy and agreeable writing style. I adore her voice and can’t wait to start her Fatal Series (romantic suspense series with Carina Press).
Favorite Quotes: Never in her life had Olivia experienced a kiss quite like this –a kiss that made her want to tear off his clothes and have him. Right there. Right now. She whimpered under the weight of the need that blazed through her.
“Finally,” he sighed, turning his head ever so slightly, just enough to capture her lips. He pressed her to the wall and sent his tongue to find hers.
Breathing in his warm, masculine scent, Olivia couldn’t help but smile at the relief in his voice. In a thick Cockney accent, she said, “Am I permitted a quick trip to the loo, my lord?” Cole cracked up. “Only if you hurry up. Your lord’s boner requires your immediate attention.”
3.75 stars! First line: Wine was safe, the perfect complement for any dinner.
Memorable Scenes: - drive to and arrival at the cottage > who'd have tho...more3.75 stars! First line: Wine was safe, the perfect complement for any dinner.
Memorable Scenes: - drive to and arrival at the cottage > who'd have thought that of Ana... - Ana and Taylor watching p0rn > never knew watching p0rn could be described so scorchingly hot
Review: NEVER HAVE I EVER starts with preparations for a getaway to the Adirondacks for the Hudsons. Ana has received an anonymous email about her husband...Which prompts her into showing him her inner bad girl. Taylor has been suppressing his true nature as a shifter due to things that happened in his past and plays with fire when he takes Ana back to a part of his turbulent past. Slowly his sexual dominance returns to the surface and Ana turns out to be more accepting of it than he thought.
Ana is a shy, cautious and organized worrywart. I liked Ana but I’m not sure I would’ve tackled “her problem” the way she did. Taylor, Ana’s husband, at first sight is calm, quiet and gruff but that exterior hides an intense, commanding man underneath who can be sweet and funny as well.
I really liked that NEVER HAVE I EVER tells the story of an already married couple. I always like when I don't have to suspend disbelief to enjoy hot and heavy sexy times, which I normally do when new couples go at just a few pages into the story. The sex scenes in this one are very hot. Both Taylor and Ana know how to crank up the heat level in those scenes. I’d never read a scene in a romance novel this elaborated about a couple watching p0rn before and Alisha Rai definitely wins points there for originality and hotness.
With every page I read it got steamier and more interesting. And speaking of interesting, keep an eye out for Eli, Taylor’s best friend and pack-mate, when you read this book. He definitely made it to my “anticipating this character’s book”-list. I hope to see more of the pack and its members in possible future books. And definitely would like to see Eli's story and find out who's going to be at the receiving end of his alpha hotness and bring him the HEA he's yearning for.
NEVER HAVE I EVER is a very nice and steamy novella that brushed a few subjects like D/s and bondage in a light way. The werewolf stuff was a nice backdrop, but no more than that, as for me the paranormal element was not the strongpoint in this story. It was the emotional impact and sizzling chemistry between the characters that made it a memorable read for me.
Favorite Quotes: She bit her lip, wishing she could just turn off the part of her that worried and fretted and thought everything through three thousand times before settling on something. Vowing to change was easy; altering a lifetime’s habit was harder. (This quote was like seeing into my own soul...this is so me!)
He drifted closer and reached down to unwork the knot she’d made of the apron ties. They were stubborn. Cloth bands, securing Ana’s slender wrists to his metal bedframe… He yelped. Flat-out yelped, like a fucking nancy boy, and dropped his hands. Blinking, he looked up to meet her puzzled gaze.
She actually had to check herself from sighing in feminine appreciation when he walked over to her. When they’d first met, Ana had immediately known that Eli probably never lacked for female company. Forget the fact that he was rich and gorgeous. His walk alone, all loose limbed and easy and confident, was a screaming aphrodisiac to single women everywhere. Hell, not just the single women. She might be madly in love with Taylor, but she could spot a prime male specimen when he sauntered up to her.
“See. We can have it all,” she said, breathless, when they parted. The wild beast and the civilized man; the dark hunger and the tender romance.
First line: The bright yellow safety marker passed behind them as Dara leaned back on the solid wood boards of the chairlift, easing her sk...more4.5 stars!!
First line: The bright yellow safety marker passed behind them as Dara leaned back on the solid wood boards of the chairlift, easing her skis onto the rests.
Memorable Scenes: - first sex scene > good thing I'm read this book during a pretty cold spell or I'd have spontaneously combusted - Jack and Kane discussing erotic romance > I love Viv for this scene - icicles in the hot tub scene > the thought of coldness never crossed my mind
Review: The main characters of FALLING, FREESTYLE are Dara, Kane and Jack. Three lifelong friends who embark on something that goes beyond close friendship. What a delicious, awesome read. It had everything I want in an erotic romance: well-written, steamy hot, funny, emotional and attention-grabbing.
Plain and ordinary is how Dara sees herself. She has a thing for her two best friends but doesn't dare going for either of them for fear of ruining their three-way friendship. She's pure and straightforward, what you see is what you get. I really loved how she handled both men and could match them in practically everything they dished out.
The two main men are Kane and Jack. Kane is a goofy, loud daredevil. He’s the kind of man who throes himself into a situation and then doubles back to think about it…maybe… Jack is the opposite of Kane. He’s solid, instinctive and supportive and is most happy when all is ordered and pristine
Though Kane definitely was a drool-worthy character, it was Jack who made me weak in the knees and that's not just because of my soft spot for heroes with his name. I loved how Kane, the boisterous, dare-devilish character, was the one who had the most trepidation about the ménage (at first) and it was Jack, the more cautious one, who dove in headfirst and was reassuring and encouraging Kane. He was also the more adventurous one in the bedroom, making Kane look the tamer one of the two. This dynamic in the book was just fascinating.
FALLING, FREESTYLE is, without a doubt, my favorite Vivian Arend read to-date, it just ticked all the right boxes: ménage, friends-to-lovers, sizzling hot sex, witty banter and genuine emotions. And when I started trying to picture in my head how certain things would work (using safety harness from skis as improvised handcuffs for example), I knew I had me a winner! The start of the book was more intense than the ending but still it was still the best Vivian Arend book I've read up till now. There was even a little bit of conflict to resolve, which is something that's not standard in her books.
I just love Vivian Arend’s writing. With FALLING, FREESTYLE I was once again drawn in from the very start by the ease and humor in her writing. The banter, camaraderie and chemistry between Dara, Kane and Jack are great and a big positive in this story.
One thing I MUST mention is the Alpine Responsibility Code that was quoted rule by rule at the beginning of every chapter. They were so fitting the stuff going on in the actual chapters, I just loved them and I wonder if there will be something similar, like a Rock Climbing Responsibility Code, in the next book.
The skiing stuff in this book brought memories back for me I'd rather forget. Years ago I discovered at a former job's teambuilding day that involved skiing lessons, in a what might be hilarious to some but in a disastrous way for me, that skiing is not my forte. I think there's still a traumatized ski instructor out there who will run screaming should I ever go down a slope in his vicinity. Still I enjoyed the joy of going down the slopes through Dara, Kane and Jack's characters.
I'm a sucker for the ménage trope as well as the friends-to-lovers trope and with FALLING, FREESTYLE Vivian Arend gave me a lovely combination of both that will definitely go on the favorite list.
Favorite Quotes: "What's the solution? You going to step back and let me show her who's the better guy?" Jack's husky voice sent a shiver racing over Dara's skin.
She took his mouth like she took to the hills, full out, full speed--caution be damned.
"Did I offend your delicate feelings with my wicked proposal?" He leered at her as he rose to his feet. "Hell no, I was just trying to figure out how you managed to avoid suggesting it a long time ago. Two righteous studs at your beck and call for years, and it took you this long to finally come to your senses?"
She tried to regain his lips, but he pressed his finger against them. She growled and muttered against the single digit. "Why not?" Kane cleared his throat. "Because I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy? One step at a time." "I'll totally let you run the bases before you hit a home run with me."
Kane and Jack exchanged glances. "She likes a little restraint?" Kane asked. Jack nodded. "Looks that way. You want to get her legs?" "Hey guys, she’s right here, listening to you...holy--" Kane pulled her knees up and to the side. With no further preamble, he dropped his head between her legs, and suddenly she couldn't breathe.
Sensory overload approached like a freight train, and she let herself go, knowing they would catch her.
He [Kane] crawled on top of Dara and nuzzled her neck. His lips touched the lobe of her ear and he licked it before whispering softly, "I want you. Will you take me?"
Jack came to his side. "Kane? Are you going through Dara's bag? That's dangerous. Women have killed for less--"
(Kane) "You know I've got four sisters. Nothing was sacred when I was growing up. The things those girls talked about when I was around would have scarred a lesser man."
Dara was up to something, and she deserved the right to play this one out as she desired. She lifted her chin and her gaze darted between him and his friend. There was none of her usual submissive softness in her stance, just an all-out sensual burn that threatened to ignite the entire room.
(Dara to Jack) "Kane and I are going in the hot tub to f#ck like bunnies. You want to come?"
Memorable Scenes: - The scene in which Chad confessed to kissing Lauren and Sean's reaction that followed > very powerful and pivotal scene. - The baby shower (not spoiling who's shower) > both emotional (serious talk between Lauren and Keira) and LOL funny - The 3 Sundays > some of the best ménage sex scenes I've read since I started reading erotic romance
The main characters in ANY GIVEN SUNDAY are Sean Collins, Lauren Chase and Chad Watterson. They have been friends forever and at the beginning of this book Lauren and Sean decide to move in together and for various reason invite their best buddy to shack up with them. What they don’t know is that each individually has yearnings he or she is hiding deep down…yearnings that make their living together a lot more complicated than they could have imagined.
Sean is the youngest Collins sibling. He’s impulsive, romantic, outgoing and a heart on his sleeve type of guy. Throughout the series Sean was always an element of tranquility among the boisterous Collins family. He was the one with sound advice and a listening ear for his siblings when they were balancing on the amorous edge.
Chad Watterson is Lily’s younger brother. He’s perceptive, guarded, solitary and an over-thinker. He’s not the most talkative or sociable of men but when he’s in his comfort zone (mostly with Sean and Lily) he loosens up and a different Chad emerges. You might remember Lily as the heroine from SWEET THURSDAY. When I first found and read the blurb for ANY GIVEN SUNDAY I was pretty surprised that Chad was one of the main characters as his reaction to his sister’s relationship with Justin and Killian was pretty explosive. He was considerably younger in that book, but still I was looking forward to all the possibilities this development was going to bring to this book.
The woman in the middle of these two fine specimen of men is Lauren Chase. She’s direct, open, headstrong, chatty and has a steel backbone. From early in their friendship she’s developed strong feelings for both Sean and Chad but she keeps her feelings for Chad quiet as she and Sean pursue a relationship together. What she doesn’t know is that in their friendship she isn’t the only one keeping feelings hidden and unspoken.
The final installment of this series definitely packs a punch. It started off scorchingly hot and actually never let up. Mari Carr held me captive from start to finish with this journey and exploration into secret and hidden desires. It’s all about admitting and submitting to them. She made ANY GIVEN SUNDAY about love between 3 people...pure and simple yet emotionally complicated
Sean caught my attention from the first time he set foot in this series and his story being the last was both fitting and torturous. Mari Carr definitely delivered on the promise for Sean's story! From the first line to the last I was enthralled by this excellent closure to the Wild Irish series. The prologue at the start sets the tone and once again it was all there: the heat, the family dynamics, the relational dilemmas, the humor, the excellent storytelling and the emotional ending. ANY GIVEN SUNDAY may well be the most intricate book of the series. The HEA isn't as cut and clear as in most of the other books.
I'm in awe of how Mari Carr tackled the ménage-theme in this book, she showed the problems and dilemmas and never took the easy way out. Approaching the possibility of à threesome from all angles and not making it mainly a sexually triggered one makes this book a keeper on my shelves and Mari Carr a definite favorite.
It's known m/m is a trope that is not on my erotic romance menu much. I can count the books that include m/m action that I've liked on one hand and there are very few authors who can make me forget my reluctance to read m/m scenes or romance. Mari Carr turns out to be one of those very few.
I've praised Mari Carr in previous reviews about her ability to keep all the books in this series unique and fresh despite known tropes and recurring subjects and themes and with this book she remained true to form. Underneath all the emotional intensity of this book there's still that humor I like so much in the books. It's subtle, giving way for the intricate and heavy emotional struggles
If you thought previous books in this series were hot, brace yourself for this one! To say ANY GIVEN SUNDAY is one sizzling hot book would be the first and biggest understatement of this new year.
Words fail to describe the emotional impact this book had on me and I can't but give this lovely closing installment of the Wild Irish series my highest rating!
Favorite Quotes: Years as best friends had bred a comfortable familiarity. It had also built up some pretty deep-seated need in Sean. If he didn’t get her into his bed soon, he was likely to do himself an injury. Sporting a hard-on 24/7 couldn’t be good for anybody.
Chad felt like a middle-aged accountant whenever he stood next to Sean. He spent too much time indoors. While he was trim, no one would call him built. He certainly wasn’t sporting a six-pack. Shit. He’d be lucky to find just one in his pack and his skin was too pale from lack of sun.
She curled against his shoulder as he engulfed her in his large embrace. For once, she wasn’t trying to solve the puzzle. For once, she gave up all her internal struggles and placed herself in Sean’s capable, strong hands. And for the first time in a long time, she felt happy.
(Sean) He’d tossed and turned and jacked off all night as he lay on the couch thinking about Lauren’s proposition and that damn kiss. She’d reached into his head, pulled out all his naughtiest fantasies and was now offering them to him on a silver platter.
She’d been a fool to listen to Riley’s advice. She’d thought she was engaging in a ménage, exploring some wicked fantasies. With her stupid plan, she’d blown the lid off an ancient, unseen volcano and she had a feeling they were all about to be taken down in the ensuing scorching lava flow.
Sean gave them a shit-eating grin before moving to his knees and crawling forward. He didn’t stop until his face reached Lauren’s and he gave her a long, wet kiss. Chad marveled over how natural their closeness felt. He’d always been a firm believer in personal space…but Lauren and Sean fit in his space.
3 unique stories, loved one of them more than the other two but still a great anthology for contemporary romance readers. Two of them were the prologu...more3 unique stories, loved one of them more than the other two but still a great anthology for contemporary romance readers. Two of them were the prologues to new series that are definitely on my buy-list!(less)