I remember seeing a lot of "meh" reviews of this; I liked it more than that but did find it somewhat... passionless for a romance. I thought it ironic...moreI remember seeing a lot of "meh" reviews of this; I liked it more than that but did find it somewhat... passionless for a romance. I thought it ironic that the hero Mark broke up with a women because he never had any conflicts with her and then went into another similar relationship, based more on compatibility than sparks. This line kind of summed up my dissatisfaction:
"As Mark walked outside with Maggie, he was filled with desire and liking and sympathy, all bound up with a thread of frustration."
This, mind you, is on page 192 of a 211 page, largish print book. There isn't a whole lot of story left for Mark to develop passionate love for Maggie in, and though he claimed he did, I didn't feel it.
It was a well told story, and I enjoyed it as a short library read, but am unlikely to ever want to read it again. Will continue with the series though.(less)
My, this couple certainly has a... complicated relationship. They hate, they love, they betray, they redeem. For a hip modern paranormal romance, this...moreMy, this couple certainly has a... complicated relationship. They hate, they love, they betray, they redeem. For a hip modern paranormal romance, this has a remarkably old-skool, bodice-rippery feel to it. I'm bummed that it didn't really work for me.(less)
I really enjoyed the first three stories in this anthology, all of which were on the paranormal romance...moreOne of these things is not like the others...
I really enjoyed the first three stories in this anthology, all of which were on the paranormal romance side of urban fantasy, just where I like it. I was familiar with the worlds already established in Briggs' and Wilks' stories but think it would have been fine if I hadn't been; Chance's world was new to me, but stood alone perfectly well. Good characters, good conflicts; I actually feel inspired to continue with Wilks' Lupis series, which had previously bogged down for me.
Then Sunny's story went all Laurell K. Hamilton on my ass. The writing was a weird mix of mystic-poetic and feisty vernacular. The backstory was confusing as hell. And the frontstory seemed to be mostly the lead character having lots of sex with different people. I have no idea how erotica slunk its way into this particular anthology but it did not mesh well.(less)
Kate is hired by a researcher to time travel, and gets sent to a future which has no women and exceptionally hot men. The world-building didn't make a...moreKate is hired by a researcher to time travel, and gets sent to a future which has no women and exceptionally hot men. The world-building didn't make a whole lot of sense, but this was a lot of silly fun, if you don't think about it too much. I don't think I've ever read a menage story before, but I would guess that this one, with its two innocent, eager heroes, has quite a different vibe than usual.(less)
This is far too short for the story it wants to tell. The first half is an understated but effective description of how Tom Webb's falls in love with...moreThis is far too short for the story it wants to tell. The first half is an understated but effective description of how Tom Webb's falls in love with Callie Turner, and how Callie is forced to marry a sadistic man who damages her spirit. The happy ending then comes almost out of nowhere, with all of Callie's healing offstage; she goes from broken to all over Tom in just a few pages. Linden did much better with the bad first marriage theme in A Rake's Guide to Seduction.(less)
Phillipa has a problem: she’s slept with her betrothed and knows that she never, ever wants to do it again. But he’s a future baronet and the pressure...morePhillipa has a problem: she’s slept with her betrothed and knows that she never, ever wants to do it again. But he’s a future baronet and the pressure to marry him is intense. When she hears that the princess of a neighboring castle needs a nursemaid, it's the escape route she needs.
At the castle, Phillipa meets Berwick, the devilishly handsome and rather surprising majordomo of the castle. “He has lovely eyes, rather brooding, as if life wasn’t giving him what he wanted. That had to be because he was a butler. He didn’t seem like a butler.”
Wick, illegitimate half-brother of Prince Gabriel from A Kiss at Midnight , has a problem. He’s (voluntarily) a servant, which means ladies are off-limits to him, but he’s too educated to marry another servant. And since his brother’s marriage, he’s been feeling increasingly lonely.
Wick recognizes that has has “a cuckoo in his kitchen”... Miss Damson has a lady’s voice, not a nursemaid’s voice. And “... as he followed Miss Damson’s admittedly delicious figure from the kitchen, he thought, for the first time in his life, that perhaps he could marry a servant after all. If the servant was a lady.” Trouble is, Phillipa really is a lady, and he can’t condemn her to a servant’s life.
This short novella started out well but ended up not thrilling me; I liked the characters, but not the way it played out. There was an unpleasant snobbish element that rubbed me the wrong way. Phillipa’s fiance Rodney seems to get rather a raw deal, and apparently mainly because she’s decided he’s too fat-assed to marry. (Why she didn’t notice this before she decided to sleep with him, I couldn’t tell you.) And the conflict is firstly exaggerated and then done away with too easily. Wick was a sweet character and deserved a better story.(less)
Reread before starting Ruthless. I guess I was exactly in the right mood for this, because I enjoyed it quite a bit more on the second read, despite i...moreReread before starting Ruthless. I guess I was exactly in the right mood for this, because I enjoyed it quite a bit more on the second read, despite its briefness. Short and to the point -- he's bad, she's good, they're made for each other, end of story.(less)
I bought this with some trepidation, not having liked the previous Milan book I tried. However, I absolutely love her intelligent blog posts (http://w...moreI bought this with some trepidation, not having liked the previous Milan book I tried. However, I absolutely love her intelligent blog posts (http://www.courtneymilan.com/rambling...) and commentary, and a dollar didn't seem much to spend to say thank you. I was so glad I took the small chance.
This novella was special, partially because it has such an original plotline and partially because it's (reasonably) plausible historical fiction that speaks so strongly to concerns we have right now. I'm actually currently having an online conversation with people I went to junior high with that fits right in with the themes of bullying, remorse, trust and forgiveness explored here. It's also deeply emotional and touching as a romance. I loved it.
I was curious about this story, since the "second epilogue" of Romancing Mr. Bridgerton seemed to also thoroughly cover To Sir Phillip, With Love; Qui...moreI was curious about this story, since the "second epilogue" of Romancing Mr. Bridgerton seemed to also thoroughly cover To Sir Phillip, With Love; Quinn thankfully doesn't rewrite the same scene but skips ahead in time to when Amanda, Sir Phillip's daughter by his first wife, is 19.
This is a very short, conflict-free, pleasant narrative by Amanda, who describes how she came to meet her future husband. The voice is crisp and wry, with a sweetly sentimental undertone. It could possibly be enjoyed by someone who hasn't read the original book but seeing Amanda interact with her loving father and stepmother is definitely part of the charm. I liked it more than any Quinn I've read in ages and would be interested to see her try a first person narrative again.(less)
I haven't read the book this follows, but still enjoyed it. Zach is a beta wold shapeshifter, facing a lonely night after the wedding of his two alpha...moreI haven't read the book this follows, but still enjoyed it. Zach is a beta wold shapeshifter, facing a lonely night after the wedding of his two alphas -- and lovers. But Mikhel and Taylor refuse to let traditional ideas about marriage come between their triad. Very hot short story, with a happy ending. I thought it was cool to see the perspective of a submissive male in erotica, as well as the perspective of the (seemingly) third of a threesome.(less)
These were all new-to-me-authors, except Lora Leigh. Two of them I liked enough to want to try again.
“Vampire’s Ball” by Angela Knight.
“My father is o...moreThese were all new-to-me-authors, except Lora Leigh. Two of them I liked enough to want to try again.
“Vampire’s Ball” by Angela Knight.
“My father is one of the Knights of the Round Table. And he’s a vampire.”
Really, what more needs to be said. 1 star.
“A Little Night Magic” by Allyson James.
A bit cruder than I enjoy and could have used more time on character development, but I liked the couple. Nummy hero. 2.5 stars.
“Sweet Enchantment” by Anya Bast.
Set in an Immortals-after-Darkish world of modern fae. (They even have a reality show, “Faemous,” though overall it’s darker and more traditional in tone than Cole’s books.) Good reunion story. Will try the next book; the heroine Aislinn is briefly introduced here. 3.5 stars.
"A Christmas Kiss" by Lora Leigh
I don't think I've ever liked a Leigh short story before, but this one is really sweet. 4 stars.
Two loosely-linked novellas. Kind of an uneasy pairing, but each can be read independently.
“Night” by Anne Stuart. I don’t think short stories are Stu...moreTwo loosely-linked novellas. Kind of an uneasy pairing, but each can be read independently.
“Night” by Anne Stuart. I don’t think short stories are Stuart’s format -- her “bad boy falls in love and reforms” shtick really needs more passage of time to be plausible. This has very much the same undeveloped feel as The Wicked House of Rohan. Add in a heist plot, a reunion between father and son who never knew about each other, and some time spent revisiting the characters from the “Catspaw” series and you have a pretty thin story in only 90 pages. Still smooth and enjoyable. 3 stars.
“Day” by Gayle Wilson. Oh, this is the kind of unrequited love story that makes me crazy. He loved her, but didn’t think he should say anything and then his friend called dibs. She loved him, he never said anything, so she married the friend. Argh -- too frustrating, too sad!
That’s not the only reason this is a lot darker than the first story; we also have suspense, gore, torture, self-sacrifice and neo-nazis. I find myself skimming what should have been the most exciting parts. 2 stars.(less)
Not wanting to start any new series at the moment, I only read the Nilani Singh story, which is pleasant, and the Meljean Brook story, which is outsta...moreNot wanting to start any new series at the moment, I only read the Nilani Singh story, which is pleasant, and the Meljean Brook story, which is outstanding. The steampunk elements made more sense to me here than in The Iron Duke and the romance was unique. And the ending -- what a blast. A very touching and clever story.
11/22 Reread Brook's story, preparing to read the story in Wild & Steamy. It still rocks.(less)
The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” provides a nice happy ending for this short m/m romance, which also gives a redemption to one of Brockmann’s big...more The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” provides a nice happy ending for this short m/m romance, which also gives a redemption to one of Brockmann’s biggest asshat characters, Adam. Tony, a young Navy SEAL who is determined in a very engaging way, makes the romance sweet, in a very hot way.
I do have to wonder if Adam can really stop being a lying user so quickly, especially given that his new lover is in an even more dangerous profession than his old one was. (Fear turns out to have been behind a lot of Adam’s behavior.) This was also the first time I really noticed the “preachiness” others have lately complained about in Brockmann’s books; a lot of characters seem to be there primarily to serve as mouthpieces to describe the unfairness and awfulness of DADT -- which I completely agree with, but I would have like more show and less tell. Still a charmer of a story.(less)
“Possession in Death.” This picks up right after Indulgence in Death ends and thar be spoilers. Some comic and romantic moments between Eve and Roarke...more“Possession in Death.” This picks up right after Indulgence in Death ends and thar be spoilers. Some comic and romantic moments between Eve and Roarke, but I prefer Dallas sans woo-woo. And how will she regain her non-believer attitude after this? 2 stars.
“The Other Side of the Coin.” The magic coin from previous Blaney short stories causes a married Regency couple to do a Thorne Smith-style turnabout. Interesting premise, blah story. 2 stars.
“The Dancing Ghost.” How wonderful to see Gaffney writing historical romance again! This story about an amiable ghost-hunter/con-man recruited by an inventive small town spinster to help create a haunted house reminded me a bit of her Crooked Hearts. Sweet and funny, delightful characters. 4 stars.
“Almost Heaven.” A newly dead couple postpone their trip to heaven to try and save their adult daughter from a terrible mistake. Bland and sappy. And I can’t help wondering, (view spoiler)[ What happens when Jake and Christina die and wind up in heaven with his first wife? Do they share? (hide spoiler)] 2 stars.
“Never Too Late to Love.” An isolated woman helps the ghosts of her mother and aunt pass over, while learning how to let people into her heart. I thought this might be too sappy, but it was pretty sweet. 3 stars.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I used to be fond of the short-mystery-with-a-twist story; I don't know if I outgrew them or this collection just wasn't very good, but after the firs...moreI used to be fond of the short-mystery-with-a-twist story; I don't know if I outgrew them or this collection just wasn't very good, but after the first four stories I felt no inclination to read on.(less)
This short paranormal romance was recommended to me because I was looking for a "fated-mate" story in which the mates weren't instantly attracted. It'...moreThis short paranormal romance was recommended to me because I was looking for a "fated-mate" story in which the mates weren't instantly attracted. It's probably as close as I'm going to get, since of course you have to have some kind of attraction to know someone's your fated mate, now that I come to think of it.
Shifters Teddy and Reece quickly recognize each other by smell, but both are initially aghast to see whom fate has paired them with. Reece, who loves tall thin women is appalled that his mate is short and chubby; Teddy, a bear shifter, had expected another bear, not a wolf. But her real issue is the look in Reece's eyes when he sees her: although she's worked hard to love her body and has found no lack of men who appreciate it, it's still very painful to find her fated mate is repulsed by her.
This was a cute, entertaining read. I liked that Teddy fights her attraction, refusing to be involved with a man who doesn't appreciate her. And I sympathized a lot with her sadness, although it irked me that her mate is her physical ideal, as well as the classic tall, broad-shouldered, thin man that almost all romance heroes are. It's considered great for romance heroes to appreciate a plain or large woman, but less conventionally attractive men don't get any love. And I didn't buy how conceited, arrogant Reece changed into the perfect loving mate so fast, and would like to have seen more growth.
Although labeled "erotic romance" this seemed fairly tame to me, other than the fact that it uses blunt language and both characters are sexually experienced and hop into the sack quickly. So a good read for those who prefer their erotic stories on the vanilla side.(less)
I have very mixed feelings about this story. It was undeniably touching, yet put forward a point of view that bothers me. (view spoiler)[Women are alr...moreI have very mixed feelings about this story. It was undeniably touching, yet put forward a point of view that bothers me. (view spoiler)[Women are already expected to sacrifice themselves for their children too damn much, IMO. (hide spoiler)] It was interesting to see Charley's "grim reaper" job from the other side, though.
The introduction to this collection of short stories made me uneasy. Movies, t.v., Darcy getting dripping wet -- there seemed to be very little about...moreThe introduction to this collection of short stories made me uneasy. Movies, t.v., Darcy getting dripping wet -- there seemed to be very little about Jane Austen’s actual words. I wanted to read stories inspired by her books, not by wet t-shirt night Colin Firth.
Happily, “Jane Austen’s Nightmare” by Syrie James cheered me up immensely and was a great start to the collection. Rather than a sequel or retelling, it’s a first person narrative by Austen herself about unexpectedly meeting some of her characters... who have a few choice words for her about how she portrayed them. It’s very funny, with some affectionate bite to it.
Adriana Trigiani pens a charming fictional letter of life advice from Austen as she might write it if she were alive today in “Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane.” “I lament the loss of letter writing in our time. I cannot imagine that a tweet or a post, an email or a text, will provide the great thrill of receiving a letter, written by hand. There is so much to learn about a person from their handwriting, and even more in the depths of the words one chooses to express himself.”
“The Ghostwriter” by Elizabeth Ashton visits the sharp-witted and sharp-tongued spirit of Austen upon a young woman whose lover has left her because he can’t compete with fictional Mr. Darcy. How satisfying to see a sentimental image of Austen dashed by a ghost saying things like “‘Pull yourself together. Your tears have made your complexion blotchy, and your nose is running. Do you often cry? If Charles sees you like that, I’m not surprised he’s left you.”
Ghost-Austen also gives a fascinating insight into some of her characterizations, claiming to have based Lizzy on her beau Tom Lefroy and Mr. Darcy on herself: “Had I been born male instead of female, and in affluent circumstances, I would have been just such a man: reserved, proud, and clever. And no doubt have made some woman’s life a misery. Put him out of your head, or at least leave him on the page where he belongs and, as you say today, get a life.” I don’t know if this is an original idea from Ashton (though Googling leaves me thinking that Tom Lefroy was far more like Mr. Wickham than Mr. Darcy.) but either way, I love it. I think the story pulls a few punches, but it was sharp, and the ending made me laugh out loud.
What’s an Austen-inspired collection without an epistolary story? “Letters to Lydia” by Maya Slate cleverly retells the last half of Pride and Prejudice though the eyes of a minor and quite clueless character, who unwittingly affects the outcome.
The most innovative story in the collection is “Jane Austen, Yeah Yeah Yeah!” by Janet Mullany. I expected a historical from Mullany and it is -- but set in the 1960’s rather than the Regency, where a young teacher helps her students learn to appreciate Sense and Sensibility by showing how it relates to their lives. In the process she makes discoveries about her own life and what she really wants.
The rest of the collection is a mixed bag of sequels, prequels and ghost stories. Some work and others don’t quite capture what they’re aiming for. My most frequent complaint was abrupt, unsatisfying endings. The romantic stories, oddly enough, were the most disappointing -- perhaps because there just isn’t enough room in the short story format to do justice to romance as Austen would do it, with great care and attention to character and detail. But I was genuinely moved by "The Love Letter," winner of a contest to be included in this book by currently unpublished author Brenna Aubrey, in which Persuasion influences a young doctor to try again with his own lost love.
Overall I enjoyed this very much. The writers clearly know their Austen -- many have written other books in a similar vein, or nonfiction about her -- and there are only a few moments that twanged as wrong. Best of all, unlike some Austen-inspired fiction there’s no attempts to portray her classic characters getting it on... and only one dripping wet faux Darcy.
(Reviewed from an e-arc courtesy of netGalley.)(less)
Pure fantasy, and an excellent one, too. I'm not sure I'd call it erotica -- maybe erotic-y? Anyway, just about perfect for a romance reader who crave...morePure fantasy, and an excellent one, too. I'm not sure I'd call it erotica -- maybe erotic-y? Anyway, just about perfect for a romance reader who craves a little hot and spicy, (and there's some sweet, too) with the heat level coming more from the exciting situation than from anything the characters actually do. It's a short, quick read but has everything a story needs, and how many free ebooks can you say that about. Will definitely look for this author again.(less)
4.5 stars. When starting this collection of connected erotic stories, my first thought was “this is going to get old really fast.” A fantasy kingdom i...more4.5 stars. When starting this collection of connected erotic stories, my first thought was “this is going to get old really fast.” A fantasy kingdom in which women, for implausible spiritual reasons, become submissive handmaidens trained to give solace to their clients in pretty much whatever form that takes... well, it seemed like an exercise in wish-fulfillment that was bound to be pretty dull and samish even before the first story ended. Nope -- all three stories were distinctly different and all three worked. And together they formed an effective interconnected narrative.
The story concerns three male friends who deeply love each other, but whose relationships have become damaged; though each falls in love with his handmaiden, the story is also about the healing of their friendships. I was fascinated by the depictions of complicated relationships which are both connected to sexual feelings and apart from them in a way that seemed very balanced and real. I won’t go much into the plot -- but there is one, or rather several, and they’re all interesting. I also really enjoyed the writing: that style of imaginary kingdom formality is hard to do without sounding ridiculous, but it feels just right.
My favorite story is the one I thought I’d like the least, about Cillian, the spoiled wayward Prince who is actually capable of great love and sacrifice. (And surprisingly, since Cillian is devoted to BDSM, it has the least amount of sex in the book... which is actually the point.) It opens with Cillian hoping to replicate Edward’s experience from the first story -- hire a handmaiden who will make his life perfect, give him exactly what he wants, and love him. Instead he gets an exhausted, hungry handmaiden named Honesty, who has her own needs and is feeling doubts about her career. Yet she is exactly what he needs to be able to stop hiding behind his sexual desires and become the person he was meant to be.
Possibly if I’d read more erotica I’d find this much less extraordinary than I did, but this is the first erotic romance I’ve read that really felt like it got it right. My only complaint is that I would have enjoyed more time shown on the development of the love relationships between the three couples. Even so, though I'd classify this as erotica rather than romantica, because more is involved than just monogamous love, my romantic heart was almost perfectly satisfied. (less)
With only 59 pages, and a whole lot of slightly kinky sexxing going on, there’s not a lot of room in this story for character development, yet I found...moreWith only 59 pages, and a whole lot of slightly kinky sexxing going on, there’s not a lot of room in this story for character development, yet I found it unexpectedly sweet. Although we see a bit of each character’s point of view, the main focus is on Adam, a bisexual man who’s loved his best friend Rob forever. Even though they’re close neighbors and friends, Rob’s happy marriage to Shayla has left him feeling like an outsider.
When Rob and Shayla give Adam a Christmas present of an evening with both of them, it seems like a dream come true. Yet Adam knows there will be a down side: “This was a gift. A one-shot deal. It would also change their relationship forever. And no matter what they both said now, he was the odd man out. They would go back to being a happy couple and he would be left alone.
This was a novelty for them. An experiment. For Adam, it was the one and only chance he’d ever have to physically express his love for both of them.”
The evening that follows lightly touches on many sexual themes: Rob and Shayla’s D/s relationship, Rob’s desire to dominate Adam, a little bondage, Rob’s first time with a man, Shayla’s fantasy of sex with two men. Shayla is the weak point here, seeming more like a device to get Rob and Adam together than a real person. As is typical in menage, the men often think about how much they love her and how special she is, but I didn’t feel it.
And a minor quibble, but I was bugged by this comment: “Oh, they didn’t have a BDSM lifestyle, had never gone to the clubs or indulged in the scene... Shayla wouldn’t be able to handle being on display in a room full of people, knowing they could see her, touch her however they wanted.” This seems like an unfair depiction of “the lifestyle,” denying its strong focus on consent and negotiation.
Overall, this was a pretty hot story if you enjoy m/m and don't mind the "gay for you" scenario. I felt a lot of sympathy for Adam and thought it interesting to see menage from the point of view of the person outside the primary relationship. The story ends well, happily yet plausibly.
(I received this as an e-arc for review from netGalley.)(less)
A collection of vignettes related to Balogh's "Mistress" series. The previously cut sections from More Than a Mistress had some meat to them, but the...moreA collection of vignettes related to Balogh's "Mistress" series. The previously cut sections from More Than a Mistress had some meat to them, but the mirroring scenes written for No Man's Mistress and the epilogue for the series were pretty blah. A pleasant nough read if you're a fan of the series, but I'm glad I borrowed it from the library.(less)
I read the Dahl story before beginning the series, though I might as well not have bothered. As (many) others have mentioned, it's not a complete roma...moreI read the Dahl story before beginning the series, though I might as well not have bothered. As (many) others have mentioned, it's not a complete romance, but a "ships that pass in the night" story, and who reads romance for that? It also uses one of the most irritating tropes I can imagine: the woman in a "sexually liberated" job who's secretly extremely uptight. Spare me. Not a bad story otherwise, but again, what's the point?
I had no interest in starting the Lori Foster series and the reviews of the Susan Donovan story convinced me not to bother with that one either, even though apparently it's the only complete story in the collection.(less)