"Whisper of Sin" by Nalini Singh - 5 Stars But let's face it, I'm a huge Nalini Singh fan so she would've pretty much had to fill a hundr 2/4 ain't bad!
"Whisper of Sin" by Nalini Singh - 5 Stars But let's face it, I'm a huge Nalini Singh fan so she would've pretty much had to fill a hundred pages with the technical manual from her new DVD player for me to not like it ;)
This is a prequel of sorts to her Psy/Changeling series, starring Ria and Emmett and how they got together. I admit sometimes I kept forgetting it was a prequel and kept getting confused as to where the hell Sasha was ;) No seriously though, set around the time the DarkRiver pack was just setting up their construction company (and before DarkRiver and SnowDancer had an official treaty, though that doesn't really weigh into the action), there's an organized crime gang moving into town and terrorizing the folks in Chinatown. Ria, who is of mixed Chinese and American heritage, was attacked just prior to the beginning of the story by one of the thugs who was going to teach her family a lesson for not paying the "protection money" that was demanded of them by raping her. Said thug of course gets his arse handed to him by DarkRiver, but it sparks the interested of Emmett, one of the shifters in the DarkRiver pack. Fans of the series will appreciate the typical humor, especially with Ria's overprotective family, while those new to the series shouldn't be too confused as the Psy (being the most confusing of all the species in the series) are a minor side note in the story. One thing I did not like was the whole bit with Tom. While I understand the need for a rival, things just seemed tied up too neatly as far as that whole situation was concerned. I find it hard to believe he was such a shite all along and nobody noticed until some other guy comes sniffing around Ria and she decides not to just go along with the assumed betrothal.
Overall though, a sweet story typical of the Psy/Changeling series and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Amaris is a Blood Rose -- a mage of sorts whose blood is coveted by vampires due to all the power it contains. Unfortunately for her, she's been badly hurt by vampires in the past (both a previous lover and her abusive, estranged father), and so of course doesn't trust them any further than she can throw them. Raniero is a vampire (the King's lead investigator) who doesn't trust Blood Roses any further than he can throw them, because of his experiences with both his traitorous step-mother (a Blood Rose) and some of the others that he's come across over the years.
Sounds great, right?
Well, maybe not so much. Amaris' sister is being held hostage by the big baddie (who is also working with her jerkwad daddy), and she's forced to help them capture Raniero. If that's not enough, they then decide she needs to seduce him, and so she does -- all in the first few pages of the story.
Now don't get me wrong, some of my favorite stories involve vampires chained to a bed while someone else has their way with them lol However, I am a big fan of Unresolved Sexual Tension (UST) -- it's like a roller coaster in that the buildup is just as much if not more of a thrill than the ride itself.
This story has zero UST. It's like "oh hai I'm gonna jump on your junk now kthxbai" *shakes head* Add to that how their trust issues are rather glossed over, and I'm going to have to say this was my least favorite story in the book. Perhaps I would've enjoyed it more as a novel rather than a short story/novella, where there would've been a chance to watch the characters grow past their prejudices and maybe even ease into the sexual relationship a little more slowly.
“Shifting Sea” by Virginia Kantra - 4 Stars Set in the 1800's in Scotland, Major Jack Harris recently inherited some land he had no idea he was in line for, and has just arrived to set the estate to rights. He's badly scarred on his body from the war, and has a lot of trouble with his leg.
He comes across Morwenna walking along the beach, and within a few minutes has secured an invitation back to her cottage (and her bed), which of course lends itself to the idea that she's the local whore (though unlike one might expect, he doesn't treat her badly because of this assumption)..
Again, not a big fan of just jumping directly into a sexual relationship within a few minutes of laying eyes on each other.. Other than that, I did enjoy this story. Morwenna is a child of the sea, which is an immortal (and very old lol) creature that.. well honestly it's never really explained -- she insists she's not a mermaid but that seems to be the closest explanation. She comes to the land on occasion to experience a different life, and is unprepared for Jack's affection -- the children of the sea don't "love" like humans do, so it's a big adjustment for her, and there are a lot of hurt feelings and misunderstandings between Jack and Morwenna before everything is said and done. Angst fans will definitely enjoy this story, and though I didn't really care for the sudden onset of their sexual relationship, I have to admit it was pretty hot ;)
They definitely saved the best for last! This was my favorite story out of the whole anthology, and since that includes a Nalini Singh story, that's really saying something.
This is apparently the beginning of a new steampunk series for Meljean Brook and it had pretty much everything I love -- a scarred, scary-ass pirate (whose reputation of course covers up a big softie, but ARRRRR! Nobody knows that!), a tough (yet virginal) heroine who is smart and uses her talents and cunning to get out of all sorts of tight scrapes, a creeptastic enemy (who actually has the powers of mind control o.O), and gobs of UST. GOBS. *fans self*
UST aside, the worldbuilding in this novella is simply amazing. It's a Steampunk Romance, set in England seven years after the defeat of the Horde (which as best as I could determine is the Big Baddie which originated somewhere in Asia, and enslaved Europe by infecting people with Nanites called "bugs", which allowed them to control the people using a radio tower for lack of a better term). Ivy, our heroine, is a member of the blacksmith guild which today would make her a computer nerd meets engineer -- she is brilliant at creating automata and pretty much anything having to do with prosthetic limbs (which are greatly needed in this world) and other machinery. She herself has prosthetic arms (as she lost her arms to the Horde), which are covered with mechanical flesh and skin which allows her greater precision and sensitivity in her arms.
In desperation to leave London, she approaches Mad Marchen (the big baddie pirate with a soft spot for our Ivy) because she'd witnessed him showing compassion to his friend as his friend endured the extremely painful procedure of being fitted with his own prosthetic.. Well, he scares the ever-luvin crap out of her, and yet in a fit of stupidity and desperation, she offers up her virginity to pay for passage out of London. Unbeknownst to her, Eben (Mad Marchen) would actually never hurt her, and had actually planned to return to London soon to attempt to court her... One of Eben's frenemies offers Ivy a chance to escape London without sacrificing herself in Eben's bed, and she takes the offer and goes into hiding for two years. .... and then he finds her lol and she's absolutely terrified of him, because of his ferocious reputation.. She of course doesn't realize he has no intention of raping her and instead really respects her and wants to be with her.
Everything in this story just sucks you in -- the tales of slavery under the Horde, the technology exhibited everywhere you turn, the relationship between Ivy and Eben, everything. I SO cannot wait for the first full-length novel in this series, The Iron Duke, due out in October....more
Can't Get Enough = 4.5 Stars (but I'm devouring the entire Dragon Kin series anyway so that was pretty much expected)
Spellbound = 4.5 Stars -- I've neCan't Get Enough = 4.5 Stars (but I'm devouring the entire Dragon Kin series anyway so that was pretty much expected)
Spellbound = 4.5 Stars -- I've never read Cynthia Eden, but I really enjoyed this one. I'm a sucker for men who fall hard and fast (er. pun intended?) and the chemistry between the two was fantabulous :)
Turn Me On = 1 Star literally couldn't finish it. Just not my thing.
"Beauty and the Brute" by Virginia Henley *** Not really my cuppa. 13 year old (rather plain) girl and 18 year old (rather asshatty) boy are forced to"Beauty and the Brute" by Virginia Henley *** Not really my cuppa. 13 year old (rather plain) girl and 18 year old (rather asshatty) boy are forced to marry in an arranged marriage that is to be "a marriage in name only", then she's to go to finishing school and he's to go on a Grand Tour of the Continent. They absolutely despise each other on sight and are quite nasty to each other in the very short time they know each other.
Three years pass and she's turned into a gorgeous (of course), refined young lady (who still hates her husband of course) and he's grown into a (hunky) man with a conscience and who, thankfully, seems to have reformed his nasty ways (and again, thankfully, doesn't seem to have spent his entire Grand Tour whoring it up -- I despise that sort of thing btw).
He comes back to London and sees her, not knowing she's actually his wife, and is immediately in love lust with his estranged wife. She, on the other hand, still hates him and wants revenge, and plans on making him fall in love with her so she can then toss him aside and let him feel some of the hurt and humiliation he dealt her when they first met.
Now, remember, she's 16 and he's 21. That right there is the first strike against them in my book. Yes, yes, that's common in those days and she's probably lucky he didn't demand to consummate the marriage at age 13, and blah blah blah but still. Yuck.
Second, there was a LOT of "cock" and "mons" talk that really threw me off, because for some reason I wasn't really expecting more than maybe a "rod" or "secret place" reference lol Totally my bad, but still, threw me off.
Third, the revenge bit just seemed ridiculous to me. I get that she's 16 and has been pissed off for three years, but I can't help but feel as though she should've just refused to let him share her bed rather than screw his brains out and then be all like "I don't want anything to do with you and was just waiting for you to say you loved me so I could rebuff you and make you feel stupid. So nah."
Yeah, like I said, just not my cuppa. Three Stars
"How to Seduce a Wife" by Kate Pearce ***** This story was SO familiar -- has it been published elsewhere before? I swear to you I've read the whole "pirate fantasy at a brothel" thing between a husband and wife.
I think this was my favorite of the three stories.
Hero and heroine have been married not quite a year, and the hero's dad was a total womanizing/gambling ASSHAT, so despite the fact the hero used to be a hoar himself, he's 100% reformed his ways and become boring as hell very respectful, especially where it concerns his wife and the marriage bed.
She, on the other hand, thought that marrying a man with a reputation like his (that is, one of a total man hoar), would be delightful, especially in regards to the marriage bed.
So the story opens with our hero preparing to very politely visit his wife's bed (having already let her know ahead of time, because, like I said, he's super stuffy and boring considerate like that). Only, things don't go as planned, for when he enters her room, he finds that not only is she not ready to receive him, but she's deep into a gothic novel (where a dastardly pirate is about to ravish the innocent lady HEY-O!) and is quite frankly a bit annoyed at being interrupted.
The conversation that follows is not only hilarious, but REALISTIC to me -- I can easily imagine during those times, a woman who entered a marriage with a man of a certain reputation with the ladies, being a bit disappointed at the lack of enthusiasm and enjoyment to be found in the marriage bed. I mean, c'mon ladies, if you married a man who known for his sexual prowess, and he never even bothered to disrobe you or engage in ANY foreplay, wouldn't you be put out (hehe pun intended)?
So presented with the revelation that his Wife is also a *gasp* Woman, our hero sets out to seduce and please her, even going so far as to take her to a bawdy house where they can engage in the pirate/lady fantasy straight out of her favorite gothic novel.
LOVED this story, even if there was the slight squick factor in being taken to a "pleasure house" that your husband used to frequent before you got married (IDK, that just woulda bugged me -- even knowing he had "a reputation", I don't think I'd want it rubbed in my face that he used to go to these places, but that's just me). 5 Stars
"Not Quite a Courtesan" by Maggie Robinson **** Not as good as "How To Seduce A Wife", it was still a good story.
Our heroine is a buttoned up, older (late twenties) widow, who'd had a VERY bad experience with a fortune hunter -- in trying to escape her oppressive life, she ran off and eloped at a young age with a fortune hunter, who was not only lousy in bed, but who also ended up getting himself killed climbing out of his mistress' window (and having been shot by the irate husband).
Her young cousin has eloped with a young scoundrel fortune hunter, and while Pru (our heroine) is desperately trying to protect her, it seems that nobody wants her help or even wants her around (ungrateful chit).
The fortune hunter's brother is a dealer in erotic antiquities, which result in some absolutely hilarious discourse, and there's a ruby ring made to look like a vajayjay and an ivory dildo, hay fever, and just a lot of fun all around. Very enjoyable story. Solid 4 Stars
So, overall rating for the anthology? I say 4 Stars. I could've completely skipped the first, but the second and third make it a worthwhile read....more
I really enjoyed this one -- it wasn't her "usual" (that is, it seemed to have nothing to do with the Night HuNight's Darkest Embrace - Jeaniene Frost
I really enjoyed this one -- it wasn't her "usual" (that is, it seemed to have nothing to do with the Night Huntress series, at least not that I recognized), but it was still quite good.
What worked for me: *Wings. Oh mama, I love me some wings *sigh* *I liked the world building -- it was thorough enough that you got the basic gist of things without bogging the story down with superfluous details that made you want to throw the book at the wall. *Hot sex and betrayal. I do love me some hot sex and betrayal. *smacks lips* *I really liked Raphael's mama lol
What didn't work for me: *The whole eating the souls of lesser demons thing was a little hinky for me.. I mean, how long does that last? Is it like me, who needs a chicken sammich or a mochachino every 3 hours or I feel like I'm starving, or is it more like a "holiday feast" deal where you can get away with munching on them a couple times a year? That needed to be cleared up to me a bit because, yeah, population issues, especially since full-blooded demons are rather rare.
Overall though, I honestly forgot it was a short story as I was reading it, which I say as a compliment, since most short stories feel rather rushed to me, especially when they're not already part of an established series. 4 1/2 Stars
Mated -- Shayla Black -- part of the Doomsday Brethren series.
SO not my cuppa tea. Hero is a manwhore, knocks up the heroine, abandons her knowing she's pregnant, continues to be a manwhore, and then tries to be all like "but I did it for your own good"?? Yeaaaahhh. No.
What worked for me: *um... hang on, I'm thinking.. yeah, I got nuthin.
What didn't work for me: *Hero is a manwhore, knocks up the heroine, abandons her knowing she's pregnant, continues to be a manwhore, and then tries to be all like "but I did it for your own good" lol
*I do NOT like the whole "sex recharges magic" theme in my romances because that invariably leads to rampant promiscuity on pretty much everyone's part, which is really REALLY not my thing.
*Obviously a part of a series, I was pretty lost as to who was the bad guy, who were the good guys, and why the hell they were fighting. Probably much better if you've already read the series though, so keep that in mind.
Overall: 1 Star BUT I'm not a fan of the series -- I think fans of the series would appreciate this MUCH more simply because it's a major character that they've already been introduced to, and will be desensitized to the slut-factor.
This is apparently part of a series (Moon Chasers) but I feel that it did fairly well as a standalone. While it certainly did its job as a "teaser" of sorts and made me want to read the series further, I don't feel like I missed anything in not having read the series.
What worked for me: *I liked that the heroine is emotionally strong. I agreed with the hero that most women would've been a big watery mess of self-pity, but she wasn't, and I enjoyed that about her. She certainly had a lot to pity herself over -- mother with Alzheimer's, best friend was brutally murdered in front of her, she's bitten by a werewolf, kidnapped by a nutcase vigilante, and now locked in a basement with the understanding that in a month when she "turns" at the next full moon, she'll be killed.
*LOVED that when she was about to be killed, she emphatically stated "My name is Lily" -- humanizing herself which is exactly what you're SUPPOSED to do in that type of crazy situation, but an action that is almost always ignored in novels.
What didn't work for me: *They fell right into bed VERY shortly after meeting. I know, I know, it's a short story so the timeline is often rushed for things like this, along with the fact that lycans/werewolves/whatevertheycallthem are very sexual beings and that's part of this series' schtick, but still, not really my thing.
OVERALL ANTHOLOGY RATING: 4 Stars, despite the atrocity of the Shayla Black one LOL ...more
Winter Wishes is an anthology including three amazing authors of Paranormal Romance, each with a Christmas or winter theme. Out of the three authors iWinter Wishes is an anthology including three amazing authors of Paranormal Romance, each with a Christmas or winter theme. Out of the three authors included, I'd only ever read anything by Moira Rogers, and was very pleasantly surprised to discover that she was well-matched in talent and creativity by the other two authors.
Tangled in Tinsel by Vivian Arend 4/5 Stars Five miles of leather-clad leg is all it takes to lure Kyle Branegan out from his carefully hidden lifestyle as part of the Cougar Corp, a secret branch of the Shifter Enforcer League. He's hoping for a night of fun and frolic, cat-style, no strings attached. With a sultry swing of her hips, Eloise Scott tangles him up in her ball of tricks, and just when he thinks he's about to get lucky, she cuffs him—naked—to her bed.
An undercover cop in the human police force, El's been given a top-secret mission to keep the big cat under her paw until he's needed to testify in court in the New Year. Her decision to take him home for a quiet Christmas in her sleepy hometown turns out to be far more interesting than she expected. Her parents are suddenly rich, her old boyfriend is sniffing around and all six-feet-plus of sexy cougar male is sleeping in her bed.
And that's before they announce their fake engagement...
What worked for me: *The UST in this story was SCORCHING. Vivian Arend is apparently the Mistress of Tease, because just when you think things are coming together for the couple, *BAM*, something happens to throw you off.
*I really liked the idea of not only shifters being known about and accepted in society (if a bit begrudgingly), but of the identity crisis of sorts that some shifters go through trying to balance their Beast and Human sides, especially when it comes to working with humans. This felt realistic to me, and made for an interesting read as we watched El struggle to embrace her cat while remaining a cop on a human-dominated force.
What didn't work for me: *The underlying plot was a bit "out there" for me. A single female shifter is assigned to keep a male shifter in "protective custody", and is allowed by her supervisors to bring him home to her family for the holidays? That seemed a little too implausible for my tastes.
*I didn't feel as though El and Kyle got a Happily Ever After, but rather ended up with a Happily For Now ending. El is a bit of a commitment-phobe, so the ending fit with her personality, but was a bit unsatisfying for this citizen of Romancelandia.
Overall? A solid 4/5 Stars
No Angel by Vivi Andrews 5/5 Stars When Sasha's boyfriend, Jay, is sucked through a fiery vortex to Hell, an angel reveals that Sasha's been chosen as the Champion of Virtue in the battle for his immortal soul. As a perennial offender on Santa's naughty list, Sasha can't believe she's anyone's idea of a girl fighting on the side of the angels. But if she doesn't save Jay, he'll be stuck in Hell forever!
Jay—aka Jevroth—isn't surprised to find himself back in Hell. His visa to visit the mortal plane expired three months ago, but to steal more time with Sasha he's been ignoring his mother's demands that he come home to spend time with his new stepfather: Lucifer.
Sasha has until dawn on the twenty-fifth of December to fight the Legions of Hell and rescue Jay, or be trapped there for eternity herself. But now she must decide if the lying son-of-a-demon is even worth saving...
I will admit, I didn't really want to read this story when I read the blurb, and the only reason I did was because I wanted to be able to review the entire anthology honestly. Let me tell you -- I'm SO glad that I did! Believe it or not, this almost ended up being my favorite story in the anthology! Had the Moira Rogers story not been so good, this one would've justified my 5-Star rating by itself. It was quirky, funny, surprisingly action-packed, romantic, and sweet.
What worked for me: *I adore stories where "Others" are a recognized part of society rather than hanging on the fringes. Rather than vampires and werewolves, however, this world is populated by Angels (also referred to as the Heavenly Host) and Demons. The Angels made themselves known in the Dark Ages and brought about the Renaissance, and the Demons got the short end of the stick and were banished back to hell. As Sasha says, neither side is purely Good or Evil, but rather the Angels had a better PR agent. I love that the angels are just as likely to walk the streets of L.A. in designer jeans and cowboy boots as they are to wield a flaming sword and dress in the full toga-and-sandals regalia.
*While I found his behavior a bit implausible, I really liked Luc.
*The little twist as to why Sasha was the one who was chosen as the Champion of Virtue.
What didn't work for me: *As mentioned, Luc's behavior seemed a bit out of character to me. I can't see the devil actually acting like that, an in a way, it seemed a bit anticlimactic.
A twenty-first century ice age dulls the magic that emanates from the earth. Shane Sullivan is a lone wolf above the freeze line. He has no desire to join the packs that range closer to the border, where feral instincts can turn a man into a monster. Not until the winter solstice, when he stumbles across a dying witch who needs his help to get back to her people—and her magic—in the south.
Nadia is a powerful woman in her own world, but she's been drained by her escape from captivity in a northern lab. She knows it's foolhardy to trust a werewolf, but he's her only chance to survive the vast white wilderness. The farther south they travel, the harder it is for Shane to keep the beast within under control, and as their mutual attraction intensifies, Nadia's no longer sure she wants him to.
This story is the entire reason I requested this anthology. I'm a Moira Rogers fangirl to begin with, so I was fairly certain that I'd enjoy it, and I wasn't disappointed.
What worked for me: *Tortured hero, who had been unwillingly turned into a werewolf during an attack that killed his lover, rescues a warrior witch from freezing to death after she escaped torture by scientists who had kidnapped her and dragged her to the frozen north, where the earth is asleep and magic doesn't work. Greatly weakened, Nadia literally depends on Shane for her survival despite not knowing if she can trust him.
*For some crazy reason, I do love self-loathing in a man. Shane despises the fact that he's a werewolf, and in fact lives so far north of the freeze line because that is where earth sleeps there and his wolf slumbers with it. Were he to live in the south, his beast would be given to rise, and he fears that he wouldn't be able to control it and would either hurt someone, or would become hunted as a monster.
*I really enjoyed the fact that Nadia wasn't weak. Certainly, she was wounded when Shane first came upon her, but as they move south, she regains her strength and proves herself to be a not only a capable warrior but a powerful witch as well. I like that even as her powers and strength return, however, she remains real -- a woman of deep emotions and integrity.
*I absolutely adored how the earth actually spoke to Nadia when she reconnected with her magic
What didn't work for me: *Honestly, there wasn't much that I didn't like about this story. If I had to list something, it would be the fact that there wasn't much information given on "the scientists" other than their fear and abuse of the witches. I would've enjoyed reading more about their movement as well as about other witches that had survived (or not, as it were) their experiments, but of course that couldn't be thoroughly explored in a short story or novella.
Overall, I was very pleased with this anthology. I would suggest that anyone reading not skip any of the stories based on the synopsis alone -- I almost made that mistake with the second story and am very glad that I forced myself to start it.
I highly recommend this anthology for any fan of paranormal romance. A very solid 4.5/5 Stars. ...more
Mistletoe at Midnight By LB Gregg Owen McKenzie has traveled to Vermont to spend an old-fashioned Christmas with his family when he finds himself stayMistletoe at Midnight By LB Gregg Owen McKenzie has traveled to Vermont to spend an old-fashioned Christmas with his family when he finds himself staying at the same inn as his first love. Owen is disconcerted to realize he's still attracted to Caleb Black but refuses to pursue him. Caleb left him once, and Owen's not going down that road again.
Caleb is ready for a second chance with Owen and gets it when fate and the matchmaking McKenzies conspire to strand the two men in a rustic cabin during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve. Can Caleb convince Owen to rekindle their romance so they can stop spending their holidays apart?
What worked for me: * The backstory was awesome. I could just picture the two of them in their teens, both a little shy and insecure, both crushing HARD on the other, and then *BAM* Relationship OVER, and neither one of them ever really fully moving on.
What didn't work for me: * I don't like love triangles, and honestly I couldn't help but feel bad for Owen's ex. I don't feel like he deserved to get the shaft like he did (hahahaha pun SO not intended)
* I really hated how Owen's family kept manipulating him. Sure, they only wanted the best for him, but dang. Really?
Overall though I really enjoyed this one. 5/5 Stars
Nine Lights Over Edinburgh By Harper Fox
Detective Inspector James McBride is riding high on the belief that he's about to bust a human-trafficking ring. But just five days before Christmas, his unorthodox methods catch up with him and his world comes crashing down.
McBride tries to concentrate on his new day job as security for the visiting Israeli ambassador. He even starts to feel a renewed sense of self-worth when the leader of the Israeli team, the aristocratic Tobias Leitner, takes a bullet for him in the line of duty. But he can't forget the trafficking case, especially when his investigations result in the kidnapping of his own daughter! McBride has no one to turn to for help-no one, except Toby.
Can these two very different men work together to bring about a holiday miracle-and heal one another's heart in the process?
This one just wasn't really for me, which is a shame, because it definitely had elements that I enjoy in a story.
What worked for me: * Mmm-mmm-MMM! I do love me a man in uniform, and even though one is a slightly out-of-shape, alcoholic, almost-washed-up cop, let's just say both McBride and Leitner are definitely enough to get my motor runnin! * I love how the kidnapping was handled, as well McBride's realistic relationship with his ex-wife
What didn't work for me: * I don't like love triangles in my romances. I really felt like McBride's "relationship" with his partner was completely unnecessary, and only added gratuitous angst to the story.
* I didn't particularly care for the fact that McBride was an alcoholic. I accepted it because it made him "who he was" as a character, but if I'd had a preference, that wouldn't have been a part of him.
Overall, 4/5 Stars
I Heard Him Exclaim By Z.A. Maxfield Who Likes a Skinny Santa?
Steve Adams's heart hasn't been in the Christmas spirit ever since doctors put a stent in it and ordered him to clean up his act. No longer filling out his Santa suit or allowed to make merry, he's forgoing the holidays this year and heading to Vegas to indulge in the few vices left to him: gambling and anonymous sex.
His road trip takes a detour when he encounters Chandler Tracey, who's just inherited guardianship of his five-year-old niece. Overwhelmed, Chandler's on his way to deliver Poppy to his parents. But fate has other plans and, after car trouble, Chandler and Poppy accept a ride home with Steve. Though the heat between the two men is obvious, they put it on simmer while they band together to make Poppy's Christmas as perfect as possible.
Steve soon comes to believe that while Chandler is the right person to look after Poppy, someone needs to look after Chandler. Fortunately, Steve knows just the man for the job.
I admit, when I first read this anthology, I skipped this story. So, to be fair, I did go back and read it before reviewing it.
I have to say I'm not sure what on earth made me skip this the first time I read this anthology, but I can definitely say that skipping it was a mistake.
This story was incredibly sweet. I've never read anything by Z. A. Maxfield, but I can say I'm definitely a fan now.
What worked for me: * I don't normally like children in my romance novels, but I liked Poppy. She was understandably traumatized by her history, but I loved how she opened up to Steve.
* I could SO identify with Steve's fear of being a parent. I have two children and not a day goes by that I don't worry at least a little that I might "screw things up", so his insecurities felt very real.
* I loved Steve's family's tradition of decorating houses lol
What didn't work for me: * I did feel as though Steve and Chandler moved a little fast, but that's just one downfall of having a short story where the main characters meet for the first time during the story. Unless there's some shared history between the two, they almost HAVE to move quickly in order to stay within word count.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this story. 4/5 Stars
Icecapade By Josh Lanyon On the eve of the new millennium, diamond thief Noel Snow seduced FBI special agent Robert Cuffe, then fled into the dawn. Now a successful novelist, Noel uses his capers as fodder for his books, and has modeled his hero's nemesis (and potential love interest) on Cuffe. Though he leaves Robert a drunken phone message every New Year's Eve, Noel hasn't seen or heard from him in a decade.
So he's thrilled when his former lover shows up at his upstate farm one Christmas Eve. Elation quickly turns to alarm when Robert accuses Noel of being responsible for a recent rash of diamond heists. Robert is all business and as cold as ice: it seems his only interest in Noel is to put him behind bars.
Innocent of the crimes, and still as attracted as ever to the oh-so-serious lawman, Noel plans a second seduction-providing he can stay out of jail long enough!
Now, I am a Josh Lanyon FANGIRL. I absolutely ADORE his writing style, and this short story was no exception.
What worked for me: * I loved the "flirtation" by Noel in the writing of his books * How hot was what Robert said to Noel after he steadied him when rescuing the llama (don't laugh. There is indeed a llama rescue in this story) * All the neighborhood goings-on that kept interrupting Noel and Robert were absolutely hysterical
What didn't work for me: *NOTHING! Josh Lanyon always delivers with humor, sass, a touch of angst, and of course, sweet/hot luvin' ;)
So, where does that leave me for the whole anthology? I have to say a very easy 4 Stars, and I would highly recommend it for fans of M/M romance who are looking for something that's in the spirit of the holidays....more
This is a quickie version of my review. For the full version, please visit: The Romanceaholic
The Guy Next Door anthology brings together three of the hThis is a quickie version of my review. For the full version, please visit: The Romanceaholic
The Guy Next Door anthology brings together three of the hottest contemporary romance authors of our day, Lori Foster, Susan Donovan, and Victoria Dahl.
Some readers have complained that Ready, Set, Jett was incomplete, but I felt that Lori Foster did a good job in finishing out Jett and Natalie’s story with only a hint of a teaser of the next book in the series. Gail Gone Wild was the only one in the collection that didn’t feel as though there was “more to come”, since it was complete with an epilogue, and I appreciated that. Just A Taste felt much too much like a prequel teaser that really should have been given away free on the author’s website in my opinion rather than packaged into an anthology that forced readers to pay for it.
Overall, I did enjoy reading this anthology, despite the many issues. Therefore, I’m going to go with a final 3.5/5 Stars...more
I'll be honest. I had this book for quite some time before I actually finished it. Even though the premise appealed to me, I had a hard time getting into it, especially at first. I'm not certain if I was simply not in the mood for historical erotica, or if it was something about the writing that put me off, but this is probably the longest it's ever taken me to review a book in years. However, once I got into it, I was pleasantly surprised.
Sacred Vows by Amanda McIntyre - 2.5 Stars
I had a hard time getting into this one. To be fair, it was the first book in the anthology, and as such, had to set up both the mythology of the Garden, as well as stand as its own story.
Overall, I hate to say it, but I really wasn't very impressed. I did like the author's writing style, and the love scenes were very tasty, but I never really connected with the characters themselves. I think my biggest problem may have been that I simply wasn't into the time period, or the conflict between English and Gaelic at that time. Unfortunately though, even though I enjoyed the writing style, since I wasn't really able to get into this one, I have to say 2.5/5
Perfumed Pleasure by Charlotte Featherstone - 4 Stars
I enjoyed this story much more than the first one. Charlotte Featherstone has such an amazingly lush writing style. All of her works that I've read are so earthy and rich, and the chemistry and angst between her main characters are always incredible.
Between the forced betrothal to Edward, and Joscelyn's scars and feelings of unworthiness, the romance felt the strongest and the love scenes were delightfully erotic without being crude. 4/5 Stars
Rites of Passion by Kristi Astor - 5 Stars
I can honestly say that this one was my favorite of the entire book. I'd not read any works by Kristi Astor before, but I can confidently say that this one will not be my last.
While this book as a whole got off to quite a shaky start for me, once I got into it, I was very pleasantly surprised with just how much I enjoyed it overall. All three stories were very hot, and I thoroughly enjoyed the recurring theme of the May Queen and the Green Man in the garden. Even though the first story wasn't really my cuppa tea, the next two more than made up for it, settling in for 4/5 Stars overall....more
While none of the stories actually blew me away, I loved that the overall theme was the Hero In Pursuit and Unrequited Love. Combining those two themes with other favorites such as a Virgin Hero, a Reformed Rake, and Arranged Marriages, definitely added to my enjoyment.
(Stories Individually Rated and Reviewed on The Romanceaholic)
Six bite-size stories for under $2? You really can’t beat that, and this anthology is perfect when you need a quick pick-me-up but don’t have time to sit down to a full-length novel. The best thing about this anthology, however, is that there’s something for everyone, with both contemporary and historical stories, and even one with a possible hint of the paranormal....more
Expected Release Date: September 1, 2009 (Available Now!) Publisher: E-ScThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
Expected Release Date: September 1, 2009 (Available Now!) Publisher: E-Scape Press Imprint: N/A Author’s Website: http://www.elizabethhanbury.com/ My Source for This Book: Gift from the publisher Part of a Series: Interconnected stories rather than a series Series Best Read In Order: Work well as standalones Steam Level: Warm
(Reviews for individual stories are posted on the blog)
Overall, this was a delightful collection of connected short stories. While the Love At First Sight theme is far from a favorite of mine, I loved Ms. Hanbury’s writing style, as well as her heroines. Spunky and determined without being true hoydens, it was understandable that our heroes would fall for them, albeit, perhaps not quite so quickly
Available from Amazon on Kindle for around two dollars, this is perfect for readers who are tired of some of the overly smutty stories being pushed by publishers these days, and a very enjoyable way to spend the afternoon by the pool.
Expected Release Date: August 2, 2011 (Available Now!) Publisher: Self PuThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
Expected Release Date: August 2, 2011 (Available Now!) Publisher: Self Published Imprint: N/A My Source for This Book: Amazon.com
The Blushing Bounder by Meljean Brook
Author’s Website: http://meljeanbrook.com/ Part of a Series: Yes, Iron Seas 1.5 Series Best Read In Order: Yes Steam Level: Steamy
Contable Edward Newberry and his wife, Temperance, are "bounders", people whose ancestors fled England when the Horde first attacked, and now that the threat are over, are returning to England. In this universe, while the New World still follows the social mores of what we would call the Regency era (ie a woman's reputation is everything, and any kind of contact between the sexes is frowned upon without a proper chaperone), but England is much more relaxed and practical about such matters.
Temperance was a governess in Manhattan City, and formed a very sweet (and very chaste) friendship with Constable Newberry, whose blushes never failed to charm her. However, she fell very ill with consumption and made the decision to invest the small inheritance she'd gained from her grandfather into a quiet hospice setting at a sanatorium. As she was about to leave, she realized Edward had come to say goodbye to her, only, Edward had different ideas. He kissed her, of all things, which immediately set into motion a hasty marriage and banishment to the awful and filthy city of London.
Temperance might have been able to forgive him, had he merely been overcome by passion, but when she asked him shortly following his marriage if he had planned all of this -- their marriage, his receiving her inheritance, and their move to London -- he confirmed that it had indeed been his plan.
Now dying and miserable, Temperance despises her new husband (though she can't help but to notice the nice fit of his trousers or the way his broad shoulders fill a doorway every now and again), and she merely wants to find some quiet enjoyment before she dies.
Things are never as simple as that, however, because Temperance witnesses a murder in the alley below her bedroom window, and worse, the murderer got a good look at her as well.
Willing to do absolutely anything to protect the woman he adores, Edward puts both his life, and his heart, on the line.
Overall, I of course loved it. In fact, the entire reason that I bought this anthology was I read the EXCERPT ON MELJEAN BROOK'S WEBSITE and got sucked right back into the world of The Iron Seas. While I think that new readers might be fairly lost, any fan of the series will definitely appreciate the cameos and references to other characters, as well as the insights as to the lives and attitudes of bounders.
That said, however, this story could also serve as an admirable intro into the world of The Iron Seas for readers who haven't had the opportunity to read earlier works. Of course, I personally think new readers should immediately go out and read both Here There Be Monsters and The Iron Duke instead, but I'm a bit biased on that front because I enjoyed both of those stories so much.
Recommended for fans of steampunk done the right way, of being forced into a marriage of convenience, and of allowing yourself to finally embrace the love that's been waiting for you all along.
Keywords: Meljean Brook, Steampunk, Steam Level: Steamy Forced Marriage, Marriage to Avoid Scandal, Plain Heroine, Spinster Heroine, Serious Illness or Injury, Series Best Read In Order, Virgin Hero, Virgin Heroine
Vixen by Jill Myles
Author’s Website: http://jillmyles.com/ Part of a Series: No Series Best Read In Order: N/A Steam Level: Hot
Miko is a were-fox, or, as her mother Japanese mother prefers, kitsune. Just like vixens in the wild, were-fox females tend to be extremely promiscuous, needing more than one mate to satisfy their needs.
Determined to avoid mimicking her mother's harem of men, Miko lives in the middle of nowhere in Texas. Her theory? Since she can't control herself around men, the best thing to do is to avoid men altogether.
However, when a local (and illegal) fox-hunting group forms, her mother sends along two very sexy cat-shifters to protect her until the hunters can be stopped. Now, forced to live in close quarters with not one but two extremely desirable men, Miko knows that she can't choose between the delectable Sam and Jeremiah, and luckily for her, she might not have to.
Overall, this one was a lot more enjoyable than I'd anticipated. I'm not typically a fan of polyamory simply because I don't find it realistic, but the fact that Jere and Sam had previously been in a polyamorous relationship made things much more believable to me. Add to that the danger of the fox hunters, and the delicious sexual tension throughout, and this one gets a solid 4/5 from me.
Author’s Website: http://authorcarolyncrane.com/ Part of a Series: Yes, Disillusionist Trilogy 2.5 Series Best Read In Order: Worked well as a standalone Steam Level: Steamy
Sophia Sidway is a memory revisionist. She has the ability to remove a person's memory from up to a day prior, and to replace them with very realistic memories of her choosing. While she cannot replace emotion, she's become a master of designing replacement memories to coincide with the emotions of the original memory, making her talent both amazing and incredibly dangerous. The daughter of a notorious mob boss, Sophia has used her powers for all sorts of evil over the years, including ruining the life of her one true love, Robert.
Now, she's so very tired of it all, and seeks the Monk, a mysterious and dangerous Disillusionist, known for being able to "reboot" criminals and send them on their way as productive citizens.
Unfortunately for Sophia, the only man who knows how to contact the Monk turns out to be the one man she thought she'd lost forever. Facing Robert is one of the most painful things that Sophia has ever had to do, but she is willing to do absolutely anything to put an end to her life as a revisionist, even if it means opening up old wounds.
WOW. Simply. Wow. While I purchased this book solely for Meljean Brook's story, The Blushing Bounder from the Iron Seas universe, I have to say that this story would've made the purchase worth every penny. I have never had the pleasure of reading Ms. Crane's Disillusionist trilogy (an oversight I intend to rectify as soon as possible), but this story was able to grab me and draw me into a world of dark crime, incredible powers, harrowing danger, and lost love.
An incredibly solid 5/5 Stars, and no joke, I would rate it higher if possible.
Keywords: Carolyn Crane, Estranged Lovers, Serious Illness or Injury, Steam Level: Steamy, Urban Fantasy, Part of a Series, Secret Identity, Tortured Hero, Tortured Heroine.
Overall, this anthology is a must-have for fans of paranormal romance. It literally has something for everyone: steampunk, shapeshifters, urban fantasy, polyamory, forced marriages, and estranged lovers. It runs the gamut from a virgin hero and heroine to a rather promiscuous heroine and everywhere in between.
Only $2.99 at Amazon, I would gladly have paid that price for any one of these novellas by themselves, so for all three, this is an incredible bargain, that fans of PNR would be fools not to purchase.
Author’s Website: http://larissaione.com Part of a Series: Yes, Demonica 5.5/Lords of Deliverance 1.5 Series Best Read In Order: Yes Steam Level: Steamy
Official Blurb: When a wave of violence forces shapeshifter Vladlena to go undercover, her first stop is a haven of vice—with a dangerously sexy vamp in charge. Both Vladlena and Nathan are hiding something, but they can't conceal the lust that simmers between them . . .
While newcomers to the series will likely not appreciate the cameos and references of minor characters from the series, as a fan, I thoroughly enjoyed them. The pacing was well done, though of course, the relationship was a bit rushed, but that's the case in almost every novella you'll ever read, so that didn't bother me at all.
Recommended for fans of shifter heroines with nothing to lose, of vampire heroes consumed by the need for revenge, and of taking down a malicious criminal boss with explosive action.
Darkness Eternal - Alexandra Ivy
Author’s Website: http://www.alexandraivy.com Part of a Series: Yes, Guardians of Eternity 7.5 Series Best Read In Order: Yes Steam Level: Steamy
Official Blurb: After being held captive by one vampire for four centuries, Kata had no intention of taking another one to the underworld with her. Yet even in the pits of hell, there's no ignoring the intoxicating desire awakened by his touch. . .
A neutral point, I'm still unsure how I feel about the Jinn's actions in the end. I can't say more without being a spoiler, just suffice it to say on one hand it was bittersweet and on the other, it seemed totally effed up.
While I don't think this story will work well as a standalone, I definitely recommend it for fans of the series (if for nothing more than the fact that it will likely feature somehow in the next novel).
Kane - Jacquelyn Frank
Author’s Website: Part of a Series: Yes, Nightwalkers 1.5 Series Best Read In Order: Yes Steam Level: Steamy (?)
Official Blurb: Kane knows Corrine was meant to be his. . . just as he knows that truly possessing the lovely human is forbidden. But on the night of the Samhain moon, the beast in every demon is stronger than reason, and Kane's hunger is more powerful than any punishment. . .
This one was a huge disappointment to me, because I love Jacquelyn Frank's novels. Drink of Me, Seduce Me in Dreams, Seduce Me in Flames, those have long been favorites on my PNR list. I admit, I've never read the rest of the Nightwalker series (which, I think this is more like a prequel to some of the stories already out?), but to be honest, if this story is typical of it, I'm glad I've avoided it thus far.
The mind reading and mind control just didn't appeal to me, as it seemed too invasive and too much like rape (physical and psychological). Perhaps it's simply because I'm such a private person, but I just can't find anything sexy about it.
To be perfectly fair, it may simply be a matter of needing to have read the rest of the series first. The other stories in this anthology all felt to me as though they wouldn't stand as well on their own, so I imagine this one is no different. Having not read the original series, I think that may have put this story at a slight disadvantage with me.
As such, fans of the Nightwalker series will probably enjoy it, simply because it's a side story involving what is apparently a major character from the series. For me, however, this was a big fat DNF.
Dragon on Top - G.A. Aiken
Author’s Website: http://www.gaaiken.com/ Part of a Series: Yes, Dragon Kin 4.5 Series Best Read In Order: Yes Steam Level: Steamy
Official Blurb: Escorting the highborn Bram through deadly Sand Dragon territory will try Ghleanna's patience. . . and her resolve. For Bram is determined to enhance the journey with a seduction no female could resist. . .
While neither a positive or negative point, readers unfamiliar with the series should realize that there is an enormous amount of very casual violence in this series, and this story is no exception. There is near-constant blood and gore and fighting, treated as though it were nothing at all. While this doesn't bother me, I do think some readers may be put off by it.
I admit, G.A. Aiken's Dragon Kin series is a guilty pleasure for me. I don't typically like bold, brash, and frankly, bitchy heroines, but these stories always have a way of beautifully blending casual violence and roughened edges with something slightly vulnerable and turning it into a thing of wonder.
Recommended for fans of brash heroines, beta heroes with a penchant for scars, and of dragon shifters finally opening their eyes to see what's been right in front of them all along.
All four of these stories, I felt, would not work well as a standalone. Even having read three out of four of the series before, I was slightly lost on occasion, especially with Dragon On Top, even though that was one of my favorites.
Overall, this anthology was a bit of a let-down for me. While I of course greatly enjoyed Larissa Ione's Vampire Fight Club, if for no other reason than I'm a fangirl of the entire Demonica Universe, and I also enjoyed G.A. Aiken's Dragon on Top as a total guilty pleasure, Darkness Eternal by Alexandra Ivy was a bit of a disappointment, especially since I have read and enjoyed the entire series. Rounding it out with one of the rare DNF's for me was Kane by Jacquelyn Frank, which was incredibly disappointing as a fan of her other novels outside of the series Kane is set in.
In the end, I would recommend this anthology only for fans of a specific series. I personally consider myself a fan of all four authors, and of three out of four of the series, and even I couldn't really get full enjoyment out of the collection.
Technically my rating is going to be an average of 2.75, but as I always round up, final rating 3/5 Stars....more
Expected Release Date: December 5, 2011 (Available Now) Publisher: HarleqThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
Expected Release Date: December 5, 2011 (Available Now) Publisher: Harlequin Imprint: Carina Press My Source for This Book: Netgalley Official Blurb:
Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband’s love. A man learns that love isn’t always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.
Stories also available for purchase separately from Carina Press.
Overall, this was an incredible winter anthology, and I adored every single story. It’s not often that I read an anthology where each story can stand so well on its own, but I would have gladly purchased each story individually, and never regretted it for a moment.
The only “downside” really is that there was no clearly overwhelming “Christmas” theme to any of them. For me, this worked out beautifully, because I was unable to read it before the holiday, and instead simply enjoyed it as an outstanding “winter” collection.