From the moment I put down Liberating Lacey, I was a Calhoun fan for life. She writes such amazing characters and the smut factor in each and every book of hers I’ve read has been off the charts. Given the blurb of this book, I just knew that Thea and Ronan would have some amazing sexy times ahead of them.
Thea is grieving over the death of her husband, and her move to New York City allowed her to get lost in the crowd where no one knows her name. She can blare her rock music in her ears, work long hours, and have carefree sex with Ronan without anyone hovering over her. She doesn’t want anything lasting with Ronan, and although she knows he is starting to want more from her, she doesn’t know if she can give it to him.
Ronan loves having sex with Thea, but their physical, no-strings attached romance is starting to feel empty to him. He wants more, and despite Thea’s claim otherwise, he can see that deep down she is ready to move on. His only problem will be finding a way to convince her that she can still love her husband, and love another as well. With sex as their deepest connection, Ronan will use every trick in the book to show her that sex with him is more than just sex, it’s a second chance at love.
I was a little disappointed that this book didn’t have nearly as many BDSM undertones as most Calhoun’s books. Don’t get me wrong, there is lots of sex, and most of it is pretty kinky. But I think that Calhoun has such an incredible voice for dominate heroes and submissive heroines, and I would have liked to see that play out more in this story. I was a little worried that this would end up being a menage book that wouldn’t sit well with me, but the way that aspect of the story played out, I never even once felt like it was a true menage book! I absolutely enjoyed all the smutty times Ronan and Thea had, and given the frequency of them…well that was just the icing on the cake.
As part of the Red Hot Holiday Anthology from Carina Press, this was a novella length story, and yet it felt as if it was a full length story for me. There was so much development on Thea’s part from start to finish, and so much seemed to progress with her relationship with Ronan that I never FELT like I was reading a novella. It was short and yet felt as if I got a full-length book. I love when stories can do that!
I felt so awful for Thea, and yet I loved the way Ronan was able to pull her out of her head, out of herself and into the land of the living. Thea really was almost zombie-like in the way that she just went through life, never really living. I was desperate for her to feel something (almost as much as Ronan was), and once she finally came to, it was like she was opening her eyes for the first time. I loved the way Ronan used their kinky sex as the way to show her just how important HE was, and not the sex in general.
All in all this wasn’t my favorite Calhoun book, but another stellar novella! I thought that the sexy times with Ronan and Thea were just as hot and engaging as her more BDSM based stories, and the different kinks were fun to read about. I loved both Ronan and Thea as characters as well, and hated saying goodbye once the novella ended. Calhoun fans are definitely in for a treat with this story! I give Breath on Embers a B(less)
MinnChica: I’ve been a long time fan of both Vivian Arend and cowboys, so when Viv WROTE cowboys, I was sold. I’ve adored this series since the first book, but was especially excited to see what would happen with Matt, especially after the way he was treated by his long-time ex-girlfriend. I have to say, sometimes stories where the hero falls for the sister of his ex-girlfriend doesn’t work for me, but this one totally did. I LOVED Matt and Hope together. They didn’t go into a relationship easily, and were hesitant to screw up their friendship, but man-oh-man where these two so perfect for each other!!
E: I LOVED this book. Ms Arend took some tropes that don’t always work well for me because they are prone to being used as shortcuts and she worked the heck out of them. Matt didn’t just jump from one sister to the next but was given time to heal. Hope was also scarred by her sister’s actions and didn’t want to get involved with Matt despite her attraction to him. I really enjoyed their first “meet cute” and thought that they second encounter was just as much fun.
MinnChica: Yes, I loved that they both had time to come to grips with Helen’s betrayal of them before jumping into anything serious. I also have to admit that after reading this book, I have a new fondness for bathtubs. *wink wink* There were so many wonderful moments between Matt and Hope in this book. I loved that the friends to lovers aspect was also very prevalent in the story. It was obvious that they didn’t want to jeopardize their friendship with any kind of serious romantic relationship either. Everything in this story was handled wonderfully!
E: This was really a great friends to lovers story. I have mentioned when talking about other stories that the hero and heroine’s journey was too easy but I didn’t quite know how to verbalize what was missing. After hearing a rather successful author talk about needing to have three types of conflict in your story; internal, external and romantic I realized that one or more of those had been missing. Thinking back on how much I enjoyed this story I noticed that Ms Arend included all three in Rocky Mountain Desire in a great combination. One of the other things I really enjoyed about this book is that Hope wasn’t sitting around waiting for someone to come rescue her. She figured out how to achieve her dream despite Helen’s actions and she REFUSED to let Helen ruin it.
MinnChica: Oh I agree completely. I absolutely LOVED Hope! She didn’t put up with any BS, whether it was from Matt or Helen. She knew what her dream was and she went for it – in both her business and her professional life. I loved that she took her circumstances in life and ran with it. When Helen abandoned her to the business, she did what needed to be done to get her business successful and running under a one-woman operation. When Matt pushed her, she pushed right back and fought for what she wanted from life. I loved that she was a sweet and loving and somewhat docile character, but that she also didn’t become a pushover!
E: When I am reading a contemporary one of the things I need is a strong female character and Hope certainly provided that. Another thing that I need is a strong male character who loves the heroine because her strength is such an intrinsic part of her. He doesn’t have to be the uber alpha male but secure enough so that he isn’t threatened by her independence and doesn’t depend on her to take care of him. They are partners who encourage and support each other. Matt was perfectly wonderful at that. Yes, he ran into Hope’s independent streak a few times but he learned. He also never gave Hope reason to think that he wanted Helen instead. I think he totally stole my heart when he called Jaxi to ask if she would provide some back-up to Hope as she dealt with a rather messy situation instead of insisting that he take care of the issue.
MinnChica: I usually like my heroes to be absolute Alpha males, but I have to agree that a man who is secure enough to let his leading lady take the reigns for awhile can be totally sexy. Matt was one of those heroes who wasn’t necessarily an uber-alpha, but he was one who was able and willing to sit back and let Hope handle her life as she saw fit. He let her take care of herself without trying to coddle her. I adored that about him. He might have become my favorite of the Coleman brothers!!
E: Depending on how you count I have been waiting either *counts on fingers* two years and seven months or just two years for this book to be released. Even though I complained bitterly that I had to wait for the revision and re-release of the first two Six Pack Ranch books, Rocky Mountain Heat and Rocky Mountain Haven, Ms Arend made the wait worth my while. As I mentioned on Goodreads Matt has become my favorite hero of this series. I had all the conflict, the strong characters and I can’t forget the sense of community and family that tied it all together. Plus we had a glimpse of poor Travis who is still dealing with his issues… I give Rocky Mountain Desire an A.
MinnChica: All in all I think that this has become one of my favorite Cowboy series out there, right up there with Lorelei James and Mari Carr/Jayne Rylon. The romance between Hope and Matt was sweet and sexy and everything in between. The on going relationship between Matt and his brothers is always built and developed more and more in each book. I can’t wait for Arend to write more in this series, and hope she does so soon so that we don’t have to wait long for another glimpse into the Coleman boy’s lives. This series is a must-read for cowboy lovers! I give Rocky Mountain Desire an A-(less)
Publisher: Berkley Publish Date: Out Now How we got this book: Purchased
Has: I have heard so much early buzz about Dragon Bound that I had to pre-order it because it sounded so good. And for once the hype really lived up to the reality when I read the book.
MinnChica: I couldn’t agree more. Mandi sent me an extra copy of this book, and I was so psyched to actually read it. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. Amazing!
Has: I adored this book; it had everything I loved and wanted in a romance, such as great characters, world-building, diaglogue and sensual tension. I couldn’t stop reading it because I literally inhaled the whole book and had a very late night due to it.
MinnChica: This was probably one of the best paranormal romance books I’ve read in a long time! It had all the right elements!
Has: Definitely! It really felt that Thea Harrison who has put so much thought and imagination into her world-building that it actually made the whole setting feel fresh and fun. I have to admit before I read Dragon Bound, I was pretty burned out on PNR and UF because so many books felt so samey and tired. But the elements that she combined in Dragon Bound was so engaging that I actually feel more open now to those genres.
MinnChica: I think the one of the things I loved best about this was the main characters. Between Pia and Dragos, I was in love by page 5!
Has: Oh the book had me at hello when Pia is introduced in the beginning turning the tables for her ex aka The Shit and does it with style. But I was totally truly and evocatively in love when Dragos has his taste test with cherry slurpees and twizzlers.
MinnChica: That was one of my favorite parts. There were so many great scenes where Dragos tried to act like the times, and had me cracking up. Pia trying to bring him up to date. All their conversations and interactions were classic. Their banter was just so fantastic! At one point Pia had me cracking up saying:
So is that your long, scaly, reptilian tail, or are you just happy to see me?”
Has: And their tension was fantastic! It was so palpable right from the get-go and I loved how it evolved, with Pia really showing that she is Drago’s equal even though he is much more powerful and older than her. I also liked how the mating trope was used without diminishing their issues or problems which is one of my gripes about this plot point.
Thea Harrison really had a great grasp in conveying Drago’s otherness and contrasting it with Pia’s more human-like and vulnerable aspects and I liked how they brought out each other’s hidden quirks of personality. It really made their romance come alive. It was truly sparkling and the dialogue? I can go on all day how magical that was. It is so hard to write great diaglogue but this was fantastic and one of the factors of the book. This extract really sums up what Dragos was really like:
‘He rested his cheek against her head and rubbed her back. “I am cursed with a terminal case of curiosity,” he said. “I am jealous, selfish, acquisitive, territorial and possessive. I have a terrible temper, and I know I can be a cruel son of a bitch.” He cocked his head. “I used to eat people, you know.” ‘
MinnChica: Definitely! That was one of the things I liked too, that even though they were thrust together as “mates” they still chose to be together. Plus, the dialogue in whole between all the characters, was amazing! Rune, Tricks, Graydon, Tiago….loved them all. The scenes between the guys were great as well. I love the friendship between them, full of snark.
“I said you wouldn’t like it. “So you did.” He slam-dunked the Slupree. “Apparently you will be watching the tapes for someone with no taste.”
Has: I think that was due to the focus on the relationship and the fact they were both different types of shifters. The dichotomy of the vegan shifter being mated with a predator one was brilliant and showed how much of a difference there was. Which again shows the attention to world-building but also how that brings out the fun aspects as well conflict and tension. I loved the beginning especially when Dragos who is initially hunting her for being a thief which soon morphs into hunting and stalking his potential mate. Love it!
MinnChica: Yes! The shift between him being obsessed with her for being the only person to steal from him, to being obsessed with her for HER.
Has: Exactly! And it was an effortless shift from that viewpoint. I think it really added to the sexual tension. I know I keep harping on it but it was wonderful and I loved how protective he was with her but without molly-coddling her. There is a key scene where she is helpless when they are captured by goblins and lays it out straight that he is unable to get them out and potentially she may get hurt but wants her to remain cool and calm. But he promises that he will get them out when he gets his strength back. I loved that part! It was realistic and showed that she was resourceful and helpful to their predicament because she also helps their escape.
MinnChica: That was great. Although my favorite scene was the one where Pia and Tricks get drunk together. The way they bonded over all the craziness that is their life. I just adored it!
Has: That scene was wonderful! The touches of humor was pure fun! It made a good book into a standout one and Dragon Bound is a fantastic debut *sigh*.
MinnChica: Agreed! I think that Dragon Bound is probably my favorite debut of 2011, as well as one of my favorite books of the year. There were just so many elements that made this a book that everyone can enjoy, regardless of what kind of genre is your typical read.
Has: Same here. Although I do have a very minor gripe about the ending which I felt for all the buildup, the problem was easily diminished. But I don’t think this really detracted from the story. In fact for a first book of a series especially one with a complex world. It was damn well perfect.
MinnChica: All in all, I thought that Dragon Bound was absolutely fabulous. It was funny and sexy, fast paced and engaging, and probably one of the best paranormal reads of 2011. I think that Harrison created an incredible series with The Elder Games, and I personally can’t wait to read more.
I give Dragon Bound an A.
Has: Dragon Bound is so definitely on my top ten list – scratch that make that top five – for best book I read this year. For me it was a book that gives you the giddy sensation in your tummy that is a great read and with a well thought out and imaginative world, sparkling dialogue and a great romance. I predict that Dragon Bound and its sequels will be a series that will become a firm fan fave and will also top other reader’s lists of books this year. Dragon Bound has sucked me in from the start and I am eagerly awaiting for its sequels!
Publisher: Berkley Publish Date: Out Now! How I got this book: review copy from publisher
The KGI series was probably my most anticipated romantic suspense series ever. I love the dynamics between the Kelly brothers, and think that Banks writes an incredible story, however this one really just didn’t work for me. I’m not a huge fan of genre jumping, and this book committed one of my cardinal book sins: bringing in paranormal elements to a non-paranormal world.
I was anxious to see what would happen with Nathan, one of the twins and youngest Kelly brother after he was captured by the enemy. While I understand why the book went the way it did, especially with the paranormal elements, I just had a hard time getting on board with the extra-ordinary in an ordinary world. Putting that aside for a minute, I think had the book not had those elements, it would have been an A read for sure.
I’ve been a big fan of the Kelly brothers, and that didn’t change in this book. The brothers continue to have a wonderful and incredible dynamic together, and even as their wives got involved with Nathan and Shea, they each had their own strengths to lend to the situation at hand, and yet came together as a family when they were needed most. I loved getting a glimpse into the lives of the past couples, and hope that Banks continues on this trend of showcasing more of the Kelly family throughout the series.
I thought the suspense was well done as well. In the beginning Nathan was still in captivity with the enemy, and I wanted to cry for him at every page turn. But once he got out and healed a little, he went right back to being that hardcore trained soldier, coming through for Shea when she needed him most.
I will admit that the relationship between Shea and Nathan was probably my favorite aspect of the book. Because of the paranormal element, they had a deep and true connection to one another, and despite the fact that their declarations of love came on somewhat quickly, it was also believable and true to their relationship with each other. I really loved these two together.
All in all this is a hard book for me to rate because despite the fact that I hated the paranormal elements in the contemporary world, everything else was wonderful. The suspense was well done, the characters pulled me in and had me falling in love, the romance was so well done and sexy. It was just the one HUGE elephant in the room that had me hesitant. I give Whispers in the Dark a C.(less)
Publisher: Kensington Publish Date: Out Now! How I got this book: review copy from publisher
Dani’s debut urban fantasy novel was one that caught my eye and had me hoping I was going to find my next crack-a-licious UF series.
Sloan is not only insanely smart, but also just a little bit insane. Her life is erratic and crazy with her mentally ill mother, chemist room-mate and her brand new job at the FBI. Working for the new paranormal division, Sloan has a hard time believing, but jumps right into the fray of things. When the first case takes weird after weird turn, Sloan will have to use everything in her arsenal (including some resources from her past she would like to forget) to solve this case.
When things turn from weird to even weirder, Sloan gets pulled into the thick of things and realizes that this case is becoming more and more personal as the days go on. With her sexy partner tempting her at every turn, her arch enemy getting promoted to her team and her personal life crumbling each day, Sloan just might be able to survive another day.
While there were quite a few things I really enjoyed about this book, there were also a few things that I felt were lacking. For a debut novel, there were a lot of great things going on. Sloan was a fun and snark character and although her IQ is off the charts, her lack of streets smarts leaves a little to be desired. But it provides for some awesome comedic relief. However, for those readers who don’t like an endearing but clueless heroine that takes awhile to pick up on social clues, this book wont be for you.
I also liked the set up for the series. I think it’ll be a fun and fast paced series that will encompass a lot of different paranormal creatures (I don’t think I’ve ever read about the particular kind of vamp we had in this story – so fun), and the series has a lot of room to grow and change and morph. I also didn’t feel as if the love triangle was too much. Instead, it felt more relaxed and believable. I just hope it doesn’t get stretched out over time.
I do think that the pacing was a little slow at times, which surprised me a bit given just how much plot was going on. It felt as if there were about 20 different story-lines going on at once, and while most of them did eventually tie in, they still felt disconnected and choppy to me. It did become a little difficult to follow along when there were so many different things going on in each and every scene.
There were also moments that I really didn’t feel the love connection between Sloan and JT. Yes, things developed VERY slowly for these two relationship wise, but there were moments when I just wasn’t sure why they were together, what about each other attracted them. Yes the physical lust was there, but the emotional connection came much later (if at all really).
All in all I think this was a strong urban fantasy debut with a lot of room for growth and improvement. I look forward to reading more about Sloan and JT, I think the paranormal aspects will be unique and refreshing to read. This book seemed to mix a lot of mystery and suspense into the plot as well, so that was great fun as well. I give Blood of Eden a C+(less)
Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: Out Now! How I got this book: eARC from NetGalley
When I first heard that Kaylea Cross had a pen name to write more steamy erotic stories, I hunted down that name and continue to keep an eye out for any new stories she writes. When I finally was able to sit down and read Touch Me, I couldn’t put it down!
Alex is home on leave, healing from an injury while fighting overseas. Although he wants to be back fighting with his team, he is also looking forward to finally getting a chance to show Tianna that they are meant to be together.
Tianna is just getting over a failed marriage from a man who beat her down emotionally. She doesn’t think she’s ready to venture out into the dating world again, until Alex comes home. Around him she can open up, be more herself, and get back to a point where she is happy in her own skin. But will Alex be enough to help pull Tianna out of her shell and gain enough confidence to take another chance at love?
I absolutely adored this story, even though it was shorter than I normally like. I’m always a sucker for the macho Alpha hero who is head over heels in love with his leading lady, and Alex was the perfect hero. He was strong and confident and alpha to the core, but at the same time he was also gentle and caring and ready to protect Tianna by any means necessary. I really liked that he was so willing to stand by her side and help her pick up the pieces of her somewhat broken life, but he was willing to let HER do the work, without being an overbearing jerk about it. There wasn’t one single thing about Alex that I didn’t love and adore.
While I didn’t connect with Tianna as quickly, I did care for her as more of her story came out. Her history with her husband and why their marriage dissolved wanted to make me cry. Tianna had a lot of growing to do, and while we don’t get to see too much of that in the story, Croix does a good job of showing it in the little subtle things. I do wish that Tianna would have just talked to Alex when she was scared instead of running away and trying to put as much space between them as possible.
All in all I thought Touch Me was a wonderful short story. It was full of smokin’ hot sexy times, but it also had a deeper emotional connection between the hero and heroine. It was both sweet and sexy and fun to read. I just wish we could have had a little longer time with these two. I give Touch Me a B(less)
Publisher: Valley Publishing Publish Date: Out Now! How I got this book: review copy from author
I’m a huge fan of my paranormal romances as well as romantic suspense, so when I got a request to read Tuesday’s Child, I was pretty excited to see how Mayer pulled it all together. While I would have been happy with a little more to the paranormal aspect, I was very happy with the way this story turned out.
Sam has had visions her entire life that are horrific and traumatizing. When they continue to get worse and worse, she decides it might be time to try and turn to the police to see if she can help find the killer. So despite the horrible history she has with law enforcement, Sam sucks it up and tries everything in her power to stop the killer.
Brandt has used a psychic in the past to solve crimes, but is a little hesitant about Sam. When all her details check out, Brandt knows that Sam has a direct link to their murderer. But when someone in the police department tries to get the public involvement, Sam gets put into the direct path of the killer, and Brandt will do anything to save the woman who has come to mean so much more to him than he ever imagined.
I really enjoyed the suspense part of this book, I felt as if the villain was definitely creepy. Mayer did a wonderful job of keeping me on the edge of my seat, wondering what victim would be next and how creative and creepy the next murder would be. It was especially freaky being in Sam’s vision while she witnessed each and every murder, felt each stab, endured every moment of torture. That portion of the story was so well done and left goosebumps on my arms after a few different scenes.
Individually I really liked Sam and Brandt. Sam was so strong for dealing with the visions, and at the same time she wasn’t perfect. She was beaten down, disheartened and frustrated with her powers. Brandt also had a few flaws that endeared me to him, he was hesitant to believe in Sam, but also fiercely protective of her once he witnessed her vision first hand. He stood by her, had her back at every turn. Despite the fact that I really enjoyed the characters, I didn’t feel their love connection as strongly as I would have hoped. While they went through the motions of being together, I didn’t FEEL it. I hoped for a lot more depth to their relationship, and it didn’t get to that point for me.
All in all I was pleasantly surprised with this story. I liked the paranormal aspect, and while it felt a little subdued to me, I think non-paranormal fans could really enjoy this story as well. The psychic aspect was prevalent, but very realistic at the same time. The mystery around the serial killer was well done too. I would have liked to see a little more mystery and investigation on Brandt’s part, but I enjoyed the way it all wrapped up and came together. I think Mayer has wonderful potential with this series, and I will be looking into the next book for sure. I just hope that the next will have a little more focus on the romance aspect.
Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: Out Now! How I got this book: NetGalley
After the first book in the 8th Wing series I was anxiously waiting to get the next book, especially once I realized it would feature Celene, the pilot who was taken hostage in the first book. As much as I enjoyed the story, there was something that was missing from this one that made the Collision Course so special and unique.
Celene is desperate to get revenge on the people who disabled her ship, took her hostage and tried to sell her as a sex slave. When she realizes that the only way to find the traitor is to work with Nils, the golden boy of the engineering department. Nils isn’t what Celene is used to working with for a partner, but once he proves himself, she grudgingly accepts him.
Nils has always had a crush on Celene, and now that he has the chance to prove NerdWorks can be in the field as well, he will do anything to have a successful mission. Each day he is with Celene, the two grow closer and finally the sexual tension is more than they can both take. But when the mission gets critical, they are both going to have to step up their game to make it home alive.
I had such high expectations for this story, and while it was still really good, it didn’t live up to all my hopes. Unlike Collision Course, I felt as if this story was really choppy. There were times it seemed as if scenes ended quickly, blurred together in ways that didn’t always work for me and didn’t seem to flow as seamlessly. While I liked the overall plot and story, it felt as if the journey itself from start to finish was like a really rough hike, instead of a leisurely stroll through the park. I had to work at following along and enjoying the story.
I also felt as if the romance wasn’t as believable either. I really liked the change in dynamic from the first hero and heroine to Celene and Nils. While Celene is a top ranked soldier, she is also put up on such a high pedestal that she doesn’t ever get the chance to feel like a real woman. And Nils is a complete geek, caring more about working with computers and components than people. I liked them together once they really came to care for each other, but I still don’t really see how they got there.
I am still interested in the overall world-building and hope that Archer continues to write more books in this series. I’ve been a fan of these space-opera style romances, and think that Archer can tell some incredible stories within this genre.
All in all I was a little disappointed, but also went in with some VERY lofty expectations. I think the book had a great overall story and Archer fans wont be too disappointed. However, I also didn’t think that it lived up to awesomesauce that was the first book in the series.