MinnChica: I first discovered Croix through her alter-ego Kaylea Cross. When I heard she was going to start writing erotic romance through the Callie Croix name, I knew I would have to track down her smutty stories and read them all. I love her military heroes, and her strong heroines. Add in a dash of suspense and lots of smut, and her books are some of my favorite novella erotic reads.
E: I discovered Croix through a certain MinnChica after she arm twisted me into reading Cross for a joint review. Then we ended up doing a joint review of a Croix book, Let Me In, which I enjoyed but I had a few issues with the heroine. So when I saw this title on Netgalley and read the blurb I had to give it a try and I am glad that I did. Over a short period of time she provided suspense, smutty goodness, a strong woman asking for what she wants and a strong man finding the courage to give it to her.
MinnChica: I think I enjoyed this story more than some of Croix’s other erotic novellas, because it seemed to read like a longer book. With her previous Carina Press stories, they each read very quickly, but this story seemed to read like a longer book. I really enjoyed both Becca and Reid, they were both the kind of characters I’ve come to expect from Croix. Reid was a strong and dominate hero who lived up to the military stereotype. And Becca was great as well, strong in her own right and I loved that she made Reid work to gain her trust again.
E: This did feel like a complete story which I certainly enjoyed. I could see Reid’s viewpoint and how he wanted to keep Becca separate from the bad parts of his life deployed. He also trying to deal with a rather traumatic event, his survivor guilt, and the desire to make sure it didn’t happen again. Reid’s job was that of a protector and his protectiveness was not limited to just his job but also people back home. On the flipside Becca was not willing to sit back and wait for Reid to decide he could make time for her. In her mind they had not established any commitment so his lack of communication, especially after she had taken the risk of sending him a rather descriptive email of one of her fantasy’s, meant that she was out of sight and therefore out of mind. Just like MinnChica, I absolutely loved that she made Reid work to get her back. Reid had to learn that just because he had committed in his mind, he had to make sure that Becca was aware of that decision and that he maintained their connection.
MinnChica: I loved getting to see the flip side of both Reid and Becca’s view of their relationship. While, like E, I could see where Reid was coming from with wanting to keep his deployment separate from Becca, I wanted to smack him just a little for not letting her in. While I’m not delusional to think the love of a good woman could cure him, but there is something to be said for having someone to lean on, to trust and to rely on when times get tough. I wanted him to have a little more faith in her and them, instead of pushing her and their relationship to the backseat. I also liked getting to see Becca struggle with not knowing anything about whether or not Reid was safe. Croix did a wonderful job of showing just how frustrating this can be not knowing ANYTHING about the well being of a loved one stationed overseas. While both Reid and Becca were no where close to perfect, their relationship and characters were real and true. I loved that!
E: I completely understood the frustration about not knowing if Reid was alive or not but I also know there is an ingrained need to try to keep the ones you care about protected from harm. It is a delicate balancing act between saying too much and not saying enough. Reid was on the not saying enough side and he needed to learn that complete silence does not work. Once he realized that issue I really liked the intense focus he placed on Becca and trying to get her to understand where he thought they were going. I also liked the snapshots of interaction he had with his Teammates because I could completely see that in action. I think one of Croix’s strengths is showing her characters through their interaction with others because I get a more rounded sense of them flaws and all.
MinnChica: One of the other things I really enjoyed about this story was the mini suspense plot. Usually with novella’s, the sub-plot tends to fall short. However, I thought that Croix did an amazing job balancing the suspense and the romance and the smut. I really enjoyed how it didn’t fall to the wayside, or feel as if that part of the story was an afterthought.
All in all I really enjoyed this novella. I loved Reid and Becca both, thought they were really relatable characters who were devoted to making their relationship work. Add in the super sexy smutty times and I was sold on all aspects of this story. Croix has also done an incredible job writing a novella that feels like a big story in all aspects, I can’t tell you how much that increases my reading experience.
I give Covert Seduction a B+
E: I really enjoyed how Croix was able to give me the complete story feel in a novella. Between the connections the characters had, their struggle towards a HEA, and just the fundamental differences between men and women, military and civilians and I knew this was a romance to enjoy. Throw in the intense smutty times and I didn’t come up for air until I was finished reading. I think with this installment Croix has made my must read pile.
I’ve been a long time fan of Carly Phillips, and with her newest series set in small town New York, she has catapulted herself into one of my all-time favorite contemporary romance authors.
Mike never wanted to stay in Serendipity forever, but when his adoptive father gets sick, Mike returns home temporarily to take over the position of Police Chief. The last thing he expected was to fall back into insane lust with one of his cops, Cara. The sexual tension from their one-night stand is off-the charts, and although Mike is hesitant to rekindle their relationship, he also can’t deny how strong the pull is between them. When Cara comes to him with details of a cold case that points negatively towards his biological father, the two are thrown together on the clock, and off.
Cara doesn’t bother trying to deny her attraction and growing feelings for Mike, but the fact that he doesn’t want to settle in Serendipity is a constant reminder of how things could never work between them. But as they continue to work together, they grow closer as both friends and lovers, and before long Cara finds herself head over heels. As more and more details on their case come to light, Cara holds out hope that Mike will find something in Serendipity, besides her, that will make him stick around this time and give them a real shot at love.
I’ve long been a fan of the Serendipity series, and I was so excited when Phillips announced the next trilogy would feature some of the men in blue. I really liked Mike. Despite his insecurities about his family and where he fit within them, he was a pretty amazing hero. He had his own issues and problems and worries, and yet he was also a genuinely good guy. He cared for his mother, his adoptive father, and his half brother and sister. He wanted nothing more than to fit in somewhere, despite his inability to stay in one place long enough. I liked that he had real issues that made perfect sense within the story.
I also really enjoyed Cara. She was one of those heroines that wore her heart on her sleeve, and had a place in her heart for everyone she meets. She was so sweet and loving and giving and I absolutely adored that about her. I was so glad that she was willing to fight for Mike, that she was patient in giving him space to figure out his place, and yet she also was able to have his back and support him while he made his decisions. I loved the relationship she had with Mike’s younger brother, also her partner on the force. They already had a brother/sister kind of bond, and the fact that he went to bat against Mike FOR Cara was so sweet to see.
I thought the romance was wonderful as well. The sexual tension between them was so steamy, and the fact that they were both hesitant and quick to act on it made it all the more enjoyable. I loved seeing how well they worked together, and how well they complimented each other on the job and off. Poor Mike was a little slow on the up-take when it came to figuring out exactly what Cara meant to him, but when he got it, he did it right.
The mini sub-plot with Mike and Cara and the cold case was also done really well. It helped move the story along quicker, and was a huge factor in helping Mike really find his place, not only in Serendipity, but within his family as well. I enjoyed watching it all unfold, and was even a little surprised by some of the twists and turns.
All in all Phillips has come up with another great story for the small town of Serendipity. I adored Mike and Cara, and Mike’s quirky family. This book had everything I’ve come to love and expect from Phillips: a smoking hot hero, a heroine I can relate to, a wonderful romance, and a few steamy moments to heat up the pages! I’m so excited for the next book in the series, set to feature Mike’s younger sister Erin and town bad-boy Cole! I give A Perfect Fit a B+(less)
I fell in love with Harper not only for her Jane Jameson paranormal series, but also for her hilarious contemporary romance And One Last Thing… When I saw she had another contemporary short releasing, I was more than anxious to get reading!
Sadie has been working at the Tourism Commission since she graduated college, and now that she is a shoe in for the director’s position, she is finally making her dreams come true. But just as she is about to polish off her acceptance speech, big city hot-shot Josh shows up as her competition. Pitted against each other in a big design, Sadie and Josh will have to compete head-to-head for her dream job.
Josh is looking to start over, and the director job will give him the needed experience to pave his own way. He doesn’t understand why Sadie is so set on showcasing the quirky way of life in Kentucky, and knows his classy designs will be a hit with the upperclass. What Josh didn’t expect was to actually start to enjoy spending time with his co-workers, especially the lovely Sadie.
I have to admit, while I absolutely loved and adored everything about Harper’s first contemporary romance, this story didn’t really do much for me. Harper’s brand of humor is by far some of the best in the romance world today, and I really did enjoy reading all the quirky and obscure ideas and stories that Sadie came up with. However, it just didn’t work within the confines of this romantic story.
I wanted a little something more in the romance between Josh and Sadie. Most of the book was spent with the two of them arguing and fighting and acting petty towards one another because they didn’t like the competition the other brought to the position. They never bothered to actually get to know one another, instead began dividing the office staff and competing over every little thing they could possibly think of, down to the morning donuts and coffee. It got to the point where I was a little annoyed by their childish behavior.
On top of the romance being somewhat lackluster, I also wasn’t super impressed by either Sadie or Josh. While I could see why Sadie was so enamored with showing off the “different” parts of her state, I also agreed with Josh whenever he challenged her for being too narrow-minded. I think she let her upbringing cloud her judgement a bit, and had she been my employee, representing my state’s tourism, I don’t know that I would think Sadie would have what it takes to cut it. Likewise, I like that Harper tied Josh’s history into the And One Last Thing… world, however he was equally frustrating with his nose stuck so high in the air, and his inability to see the other perspective.
All in all I was a little disappointed with this Harper novella. I had my expectations set on this living up to the hype of her first contemporary romance, which just didn’t happen. I would have liked more from both the characters and the romance both. I give My Bluegrass Baby a C(less)
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)
Being the lover of all things BDSM, when Loren debuted her Loving on the Edge series, I was super excited about a new series to get attached to.
Grant is the owner of the super secretive and exclusive Ranch, a BDSM resort in the middle of Texas. He is Dom extraordinaire and the one man that no woman has been able to nail down. When he hears a car crash one night, he rushes out to help and finds Charli injured and in need of help. When he finds out that Charli is the younger sister of an old military buddy, he forces himself to stop looking at her as a sexy woman to take care of, and instead a younger sister who needs protection.
Charli doesn’t want Grant to look at her like a younger sister, and when she stumbles onto what really goes on at The Ranch, she is determined to win Grant over in every way that counts. Charli hides her plans under the cover of needing to be more feminine for her job, and she lets Grant teach her how to become soft and womanly and submissive. But the help that Charli needs is more than she expected, and when her life is threatened once again, Grant is forced to deal with feelings he never expected, and the one woman who can make him whole again.
I will admit that I really enjoy Loren’s style of writing BDSM. Although there is the occasional scene that takes place in public, there are also just as many scenes that take place behind closed doors, in the privacy of the couples relationship. While I’ve read plenty of “club” books, it’s always nice to see a couple who also prefers to play without an audience, who prefers to keep their relationship intimate and between the two of them. Despite Grant’s owning of The Ranch, he also likes to keep things private between himself and his submissive, and the vast majority of his scenes with Charli are kept behind closed doors.
I loved their romance. I knew Charli would be in for a hard time, especially as Grant reveals more and more of his dating/romantic history. And despite some of Charli’s TSTL moves, I rooted for her time and time again. I wanted Grant to have another chance at love, and although Charli seemed to be the opposite of what he normally liked, they were perfect together in the bedroom and out! They danced around each other for awhile in the beginning, and the sexual tension between them ramped up to epic proportions. When they finally got down and dirty, it was sexy beyond belief!
For me, the weakest aspect of this story was the suspense plot. I never really understood why someone would want to try and kill Charli for the story she was working on, as it didn’t seem to me like the consequences of the story coming out would be all that horrific for the people involved. So the lengths that her villain went to “get” her just didn’t seem to really gel for me. Although it forced them together, and the threat was very real, it didn’t seem like a super realistic plot point to me, and didn’t work as well as I thought or hoped it would.
All in all I did enjoy this book. I’ve been looking forward to finding out more about the secretive Grant, and his history was more than a little heartbreaking. At the same time, I really did love Charli for being able to bring Grant out of his funk, back into the land of the living. Their romance was full of tension, and was rounded out by some seriously smokin hot sexy scenes. Loren continues to write a wonderful smutty series, and I for one can’t wait for more. I give Fall Into You a B(less)
Mia is hoping that she and Nick can get away for Christmas and go back to her favorite town Lucky Harbor for her aunt Chloe’s wedding. But when Mia surprises Nick with tickets home, he freaks out and Mia is left with a broken heart and no boyfriend in sight. Nick is scared to be placed in the middle of Mia’s family, especially over Christmas. But after one night without her, he knows that he can’t just walk away. But in order to win her back, he will have to work damn hard to get Mia to trust him again, and show her that he wants nothing more than to choose her, over everything else.
I think the original trilogy with the sisters Maddie, Tara and Chloe are still my favorites of the Lucky Harbor books. Getting a chance to see Chloe and Sawyer finally tie the knot, and get a glimpse of Mia all grown up and ready for her own romance was the perfect little holiday treat. However, I want to stress the emphasis on little. This novella is only about 50-60 pages long and reads very quickly.
I have to admit that I was a little worried Mia wouldn’t be able to let Nick back in, especially with her one major insecurity: no one has ever chosen her. She feels so let down that Nick didn’t immediately chose to go with her that she is crushed in ways I could never imagine. However, Nick surprised me by pulling every string and every trick he could think of to win her back.
I adored Nick, he struggled with his own insecurities and what he thought was his dream in life. Yet when push came to shove he was able to evaluate what was really important to him and what he really wanted and was willing to fight (literally) for it. I might have fallen in love with him myself!
All in all this was a super sweet novella. Very short, but a great little Christmas treat for Lucky Harbor fans. Mia was still sweet as can be and a great character to read about and Nick stole my heart by the end of it all. I give Under the Mistletoe a B+(less)
Kayla is hoping that her new role on daytime’s hottest soap opera will help her expand her acting portfolio and give her a chance to be taken a bit more seriously. When she finds out she might be partnered with Sean, only the hottest man in daytime TV and the best actor on the show, she is alternately scared, nervous and excited for the opportunity. Her only wish is that she could get control over her hormones before she and Sean have to get hot and heavy.
Sean loves his job as the hottest man on daytime TV, and his role is one he’s become comfortable with. But that’s about the only thing right in his life – his relationship with his father is strained at best and he is scared to trust any woman after getting burned by them over and over again. Being paired with Kayla on set is something he never wanted, yet after only one scene together he’s drawn to her. When Sean finds out about the threatening letters Kayla’s been receiving, his protective instincts roar to the surface and Sean finds himself sucked into a life he never imagined he wanted.
I think that this may be my favorite debut novel of 2012! There was so much to enjoy with this story, and I was immediately sucked in by sweet and caring Kayla was. I stayed up until 2 am finishing this book, and couldn’t put it down. I can’t even recommend this book enough for fans of contemporary romance. Anyone who likes Jill Shalvis, Carly Phillips, Susan Mallery or Victoria Dahl will probably fall in love with this book as much as I did!!
I adored Kayla. She was so sweet and honest and caring and loving and genuine. She came across as almost too perfect at times, but there was enough vulnerability to her as well that she also seemed to be the kind of woman I would want to be friends with. I could somewhat understand why she didn’t take the threatening letters more seriously at first, and was glad to see that once her friends pointed out how stupid she was for ignoring them, she didn’t do the typical TSTL heroine thing and ignore it all even more.
Sean was one of those heroes that I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with. I wanted to smack him upside the head for judging Kayla before getting to know her. Then once he did and started falling head over heels he became such a real character and person to me that I started to fall for him along with Kayla. But then he had to go and be a stubborn dick about his father, and he went right back to being a bit of a douche-canoe. However, I really thought he did a damn good job of redeeming himself in the end, and the way he went about winning back Kayla was super sweet.
I think the thing I adored the most about this book was the romance between Sean and Kayla. Not only were they both hesitant to get involved personally, but they also had to go along with their soap and their characters involvement on-screen. The fact that Sean fought with the show for a slow buildup in romance on-screen just added to the sexual chemistry they had both in front of the camera and off. Watching them get to know one another both as their characters as well as themselves just added to the intensity of their relationship – it gave their relationship and romance so much more.
I thought the stalker plot was fairly solid. It wasn’t a super intense suspense plot with lots of twists and turns, but it worked well within the story. I was pretty sure I knew who the bad guy would end up being, and while I wasn’t surprised on one front, I was a bit on another. So I count that as being a well done story line by Packard.
All in all I think Packard has become a new favorite contemporary romance author for me. If she can write another set of incredible hero and heroine as well and secondary characters that keep the book engaging and moving, I’ll forever be a fan. I loved the romance and the sexual tension between Sean and Kayla and hope that we can get to see more from this world that Packard has created. Like I said before, I think that this book is probably my favorite debut novel of 2012. I give Love in the Afternoon an A.(less)
I’m always in the mood for a good kinky story or two, so this anthology seemed to be right up my alley. I’ll briefly go over each one.
Tree Topper by Jane Davitt
Martin and Stan are trying to make their BDSM relationship work, but something isn’t happening for either of them, and they’ve become complacent. Things seem bleak until Martin stumbles across Stan’s conversation with an old Dom, and the two are forced to talk it out.
I liked this story, it was short and sweet and to the point. Both Martin and Stan were a little annoying in the beginning, because neither wanted to really trust the other, and the concept of conversation seemed to be foreign to them. I would think that couples in a committed BDSM relationship would have lots of experience with communication, so that was a bit frustrating. But all in all it was a cute overall story with a nice little HEA. I give Tree Topper a B
‘Twas the Night by Ava March
Percy has been secretly meeting Michael for awhile now, and loves their evenings together. He worries though that Michael will tire of him and his insecurities. Michael notices that Percy likes when he takes charge, but also notices that Percy seems to be holding back, so after some coaxing, Michael gets Percy to speak up to his desires.
I’m not a big fan of ANY historical erotica, I don’t know why, I’m just not. I’ve read a few of March’s stories in the past and while the stories are good, they just don’t do much for me. I know these are super popular books though, so March fans won’t be disappointed. I give ‘Twas the Night a C
Fireworks by Katie Porter
Rachel and Emma plan one last night together before Rachel moves to Hong Kong. She is scared to admit that she wants more from her sub Emma, and is ready to let her go instead of fighting for what she wants. But after a powerful evening together on New Years Eve, Emma might prove to Rachel how perfect their relationship can be, here or overseas.
I really enjoy Porter’s books, however this story was a little too much for me. At times I felt like the relationship between these two was just physical, and couldn’t feel any emotional connection. The sexy scenes were also a little too much for me, with there being a lot of smut and not enough romance. I give Fireworks a C-
Candy Caning by LA Witt
Stephen and Nate have a wonderful relationship, satisfying for them both sexualy and emotionally. But every year on Christmas they go to Nate’s family home and suffer through a miserable evening together. But while shopping prior to the big day, Nate sees a large candy cane that would be perfect for some kinky play, and a spice in their already hot relationship.
I think this was probably my favorite story in the book. Both Nate and Stephen are so great, Nate with his desire to always please Stephen, and Stephen with his willingness to do anything for Nate. I loved that their relationship was already solid, and that they built it up even stronger. I will definitely be looking for more from Witt, especially if I can find some longer stuff! I give Candy Caning a B+
Submissive Angel by Joey W Hill
Robert hired Ange months ago, and has been attracted to him ever since. But Ange was beaten and Robert is scared to act of his feelings. But late one night in his store, Robert will finally act on what he’s been feeling for Ange, and explore their sexuality in ways he never thought Ange would be willing to go.
This story seemed a lot less intense than the others in the series, and while I liked the breakup of the other, more intense stories, this seemed to have a little something missing to it. I wasn’t completely invested in Robert and Ange’s relationship, but liked their sexy interlude at the end. I give Submissive Angel a C
Open Return by Elyan Smith
Zach left his small town home over 15 years ago, and now he’s back. Although everyone knew him as Hannah, he is most excited to reconnect with a married couple he left behind years ago. The three of them had forced a bond, and when Zach needed to get his head on straight, he left them with no turning back. But now he wants to see what could come of a renewed relationship.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a transgender story before, and was intrigued by the number of issues Smith tried to tackle in one novella. Unfortunately, I just don’t think she had enough time to smooth over all the issues that were brought forth in this short story. From the relationship Zach had with Laura and Scott to the complications that will undoubtedly arise with their renewed relationship, this felt a little unresolved. However, I was intrigued by the uniqueness of it all. I give Open Return a B-
Ring Out the Old and In the New by Alexa Snow
Evan is petrified to go out in public again, both because of the scar left on his face and the memories of the brutal mugging he endured. Russell knows that it’s time for Evan to get out and move on from the trauma. As his Dom and partner, Russell uses his influence over Evan to get him out on Christmas Eve and back into the land of the living.
This was a really short and simple yet sweet story. Poor Evan was so scared given his history, and yet his trust in Russell and their relationship gets him through his first time out of the house, back on the underground, and facing his fear of getting back into the groove of life. I would definitely be interested in seeing more from Snow. I give Ring Out the Old and In The New a B
His Very Last Chance by Kim Dare
Kinglsey overheard his sub Drew commenting on his lack of romance, and is determined to show Drew that there are ways to be romantic within their heavy BDSM lifestyle. Drew is worried that he did something wrong when he commented on Kinglsey’s lack of romance and is desperate to prove that he meant it as a compliment. One night together will allow them both to prove their point.
I’ve had mixed emotions about Dare’s books in the past, yet I thought this was a great story and good end to the anthology. Most of the story is spent in the bedroom, and the scenes between Drew and Kingsley are pretty sexy! We didn’t really get the chance to know them as characters, however the glimpse into their lives was sexy and sweet. I would have liked to keep reading these two characters so that we could have gotten a better feel for them as individuals. I give His Very Last Chance a B
Overall this was a very unique anthology. There were good stories, and I look forward to another edition next year. While not all the stories worked for me, I also found a few authors that I will be looking forward to reading more of in the future. I give O Come All Ye Kinky a B-(less)
I just recently discovered Warren and The Others series, and although this is only the second book of hers I’ve read, I really enjoy her writing.
Tess is a witch, and not exactly on the best of terms with her family. So when she gets handed down a special mission to reach out to the Council of Others leader Rafael, she is more than a little surprised. But the good little witch that she is goes out to do as she is told. Although Tess knew she would have a hard time getting Rafael to hear her out, she never expected the sexual chemistry between them to rock her to the core.
Rafael never thought he’d be a one-woman kind of man, but meeting Tess has him running in circles. Not only is he stuck trying to figure out what exactly the witches want to meet with him about, after 400 years of silence, but he also is dancing around Tess, trying to figure HER out. As the witches true plan begins to unravel, Rafael and Tess will both be tested in ways they never thought possible, and their future together becomes iffy at best.
I’m definitely intrigued by this series, and love the fact that the books each seem like a stand-alone. Like I said, I’ve only read two in the series, and yet I never really felt like I was missing anything with the overall story arc. Then again, I could just be totally oblivious to what is going on overall. I liked the uneasy feelings between the witches and the shifters, especially once it played into Rafael and Tess’ relationship.
I did like the relationship and romance between Rafael and Tess. It was fun to watch them dance around each other, flirt and try to work out the sexual tension, all the while wondering just where the other person really stood. I loved the fact that although Rafael wasn’t really sure that he would ever be able to settle down and mate, but when he found Tess, he knew just what he was getting himself into, and what he wanted from her. It was sweet to watch them work out all that sexual tension (RAWR), while realizing just how perfect they were together.
I liked the whole kerfuffle surrounding Tess and her grandfather. I felt so bad for the poor girl, because the man was obviously a piece of work. Yet the underlying power plays and backstabbing just made the book that much more interesting. I have to admit though, if I was Tess, I would have backhanded the old bastard a long time ago and never looked back!! The fact that she was willing to put up with so much bull from him had me questioning her judgement at times.
One of the aspects that I thought was somewhat weak in the story was the romantic curse against the jaguar shifters. Although it was touched on quite a few times, it never really worked for me. I don’t know why, it wasn’t like it was a frivolous plot point, however everyone blaming Tess seemed ridiculous and petty.
All in all I really enjoyed this book. I will definitely be looking into reading more from Warren and catching up with the series so that I can have a better understanding of the world as a whole. I really liked all the sexy times between Rafael and Tess, and enjoyed the twists and turns between the shifters and witches. I hope that Warren expands on that more in future books. I give Drive Me Wild a B-(less)
I love the Holiday anthologies from Carina Press, and the contemporary romance one is by far my favorite, year after year!!
First up: The Best Thing by Jaci Burton
I think that this was my favorite novella in the anthology, and not just because we’ve been building up to this story over the course of the series. Burton does such an amazing job telling stories, and Tori and Brody had a lot to go through!
I love that Tori and Brody had to finally face the music of that kiss long ago. I liked that Tori was so cautious and worried that her relationship not just with Brody, but with his family as well, would be ruined if she pursued something further with Brody. I think it really spoke to her good common sense, and made me love her all the more. On the other hand, I adored that Brody was a little clueless about why Tori was acting so differently. And yet once he made the decision to pursue Tori, to make it work with her, he stuck to that decision with a single-minded focus.
I loved their romance. I thought it was so well done on Burton’s part. They eased into things a bit, and didn’t listen to anyone else about their status as a couple. I liked that. I liked that they already had a foundation of friendship to build on, so the quick fall into the sack was something believable and right on schedule. I was literally rooting from them since the first book in the series, and getting to FINALLY see them get their HEA was wonderful and amazing.
All in all I think this is my favorite story in the Burton series, as well as the anthology. I’ve been waiting not-so-patiently for this book, and loved getting the chance to see Brody and Tori finally admit their feelings for one another and take a shot at romance. I hope that Burton will continue either with the series, or create a new series that will keep her in the Contemporary Romance Holiday Anthology, because her stories are some of the best. I give The Best Thing an A
Next: We’ll Be Home for Christmas by HelenKay Dimon
Dimon continues with the third novella in her Holloway series, and the broody and moody brother Spencer. I have to admit that Spencer really was never on my radar before, but now that we got his story… Loved. I loved him so much, and I think that he might be my favorite of all the Holloway heroes.
I wasn’t a big fan of Spencer lying about his name to Lila, especially since he didn’t really seem to want to admit it to anyone. But once he came clean with Lila, and gave her his reasons why, I fell for the guy. I adore the strong and silent type heroes, and Spencer had that down to a T. Not only was he the strong and silent type, but he also came across as somewhat shy, and willing to play hero (as long as no one would find out about it). There were so many qualities to Spencer that I just loved and adored.
I liked that Lila had such a hard time accepting help from Spencer and his family, but that she was immediately accepted into the town as one of their own. The town definitely redeemed itself in my eyes, especially after the horrible way they acted in the last book. I do wish that Lila would have been a little more accepting of everyone’s help, but I could see why she wasn’t. I liked that she was hesitant of starting anything up with Spencer – especially given their first encounter – but once she got to really know him, I’m so glad that she went along for the romance ride.
I thought their romance was great as well. They started on very rocky terms, but as they got to know each other more and more, they really figured out that they were perfectly suited for one another. I loved watching them fall in love, and hope we get to see more from the town of Holloway and these two in the future.
All in all I think this was my second favorite novella in the anthology, and mostly because of how awesome Spencer was. He was such a wonderful hero, and I adored him to the very end. Dimon really did redeem the town in my eyes, and I was glad to have this series go back to a high note for me. I give We’ll Be Home for Christmas a B+
Last: Ask Her at Christmas by Christi Barth
I read Barth’s debut novel with Carina Press earlier this year and absolutely fell in love. When I saw that she would be rounding out this years Holiday anthology, I couldn’t wait to see what she would come up with. Add the friends-to-lovers trope and I was halfway in love after reading the blurb.
I must preface this review with telling you that this novella is cliched and cheesy, and may not be for everyone. I, however, thought it was great. Kyle is completely clueless. Not only to Caitlin’s feelings for him, but to pretty much everything else around him. There were times I wanted to throttle him for being so oblivious. But it did just add to his charm.
And poor Caitlin. So in love with her best friend, and she gets roped into helping him plan his perfect and romantic engagement to someone he doesn’t even claim to love. Talk about pure torture. While I wanted her to smack him upside the head with a clue, I also loved watching her come up with so many different beautiful proposals. I’ve never been to New York City – at Christmas or any other time of the year – but I could SEE how beautiful it was from Barth’s descriptions alone.
All in all once I got past the over-the-top basis of the story, I adored this novella. I am such a sucker for the friends-to-lovers storylines, and Kyle and Caitlin proved just how close they were at every page. When Kyle finally came to his senses and formed the perfect proposal to the perfect girl, I just about melted! I give Ask Her at Christmas a B
Overall I think this anthology is one that contemporary romance readers will want to pick up, especially if Christmas themes are a favorite. I loved that the Holidays played such a crucial role in all three stories, and think that Burton, Dimon and Barth all wrote beautiful stories with wonderful romances. I give the Romancing the Holiday Anthology an overall B+(less)
The overall anthology was a great mix of stories. From the m/m story by Mitchell, to the emotional angst of the Calhoun novella to the fun and sexy, somewhat light-hearted read by Braemel, there is a little something for everyone. However, the stories are also so different that some people may not like one versus another. But for me, I thought it was a wonderful mixture of erotic holiday stories. I give the Red Hot Holiday Anthology an overall B
Wish List by KA Mitchell
I love KA Mitchell. I have a huge girl crush on her, and her stories are always so fun and sexy and fabulous. While Joey and Aaron still have my undying devotion, and are probably my favorite m/m heroes of all time, Evan and Jonah have a great little story to tell as well.
I can admit that one of the things that drives me bonkers in romance books is big misunderstandings. I hate when couples don’t talk things through and just work out whatever it is that is eating at them. Especially when huge drama can be avoided by one little conversation. However, in this case, I can see why Jonah was scared to say something. I just wish that maybe he and Evan would have talked sooner than they actually did…
I was a little surprised by the lack of sexy times in this book. It could be because of the novella length, however I was expecting more from Mitchell. It seemed like the majority of this book was spent on the angst of what if. What if Evan and Jonah broke up, what if Jonah shared his list of sexual explorations he wanted to try, what if Evan revealed some of his sexual dominant past, what if Evan proposed and Jonah never got to complete his list. What if, what if, what if. The sexual tension was at an all time high for Mitchell, but it worked within the story. With the uncertainty on both Evan and Jonah’s parts, they danced a bit around each other, not really sure how to move forward with their somewhat bland sex life, or how to spice it up.
I have to admit, I was a little bummed with the way that Jonah handled everything. Again, I can see why he was hesitant to come outright and talk to Evan, but he also went a little too far for me. Without giving too much away, Jonah looks for answers to all his kinky questions, and I thought he went about it in a way that felt kinda sleazy. For me, he came dangerously close to crossing a line that would have made his character unredeemable in my eyes.
BUT, I was happy with the way it all tied together and ended. The last scene in the book, where they finally connect both physically and emotionally was so intense and so sexy and just so everything. It really tied together the story and solidified the relationship between Jonah and Evan. It put them on not-so-equal footing, but in a place that was perfect for where they both wanted and needed to be.
All in all I really liked this novella. Mitchell kept me on my toes, and kept me guessing as to whether or not I would be able to stick it out with Jonah. However, I should know by now that she would never let me down, and I’m happy to say I loved the end! As always, reading anything by Mitchell has me panting for more! I give Wish List a B
I Need You for Christmas by Leah Braemel
I’ve read Braemel in the past and was glad to see she had a story in this anthology. She does a great job of writing really sexy and yet somewhat subdued light-BDSM romance. I was pretty intrigued by how serious Megan and Ryan were with their BDSM relationship, and loved the way it played out in their relationship. Especially since Ryan was not very Dom-like in every other aspect of his life, and Megan was a strong and confident cop. It was a great dichotomy to their relationship and I loved it.
The one thing every story in this anthology had was some kind of secret or misunderstanding between the main characters. In this, both Megan and Ryan are ready to move their relationship from long distance to living together. They’ve both decided to surprise the other with a big change, so the fact that they danced around the subject through the story drove me a little bonkers. I thought it was super cute, but at the same time wasn’t impressed with the way it came across as forced drama.
I have to admit, I loved the sexy times in this book. The BDSM aspects were well done, and I never felt like it was forced or that the characters were unsure. The scenes were hot, hot, hot and Megan and Ryan were so perfect for eachother. They had this wonderful opposites attraction, and I really liked the way it added to their relationship. When it came to outside the bedroom, Megan really seemed to take on the more dominant role, whereas in the bedroom she was a submissive through and through. It was a great change of pace from the standard female submissive characters I’m used to reading.
All in all I thought Braemel was a wonderful edition to the anthology. I loved the BDSM aspect of Megan and Ryan’s relationship. It was probably (IMO) the best novella in the anthology in terms of smoking hot sexy times. I am going to have to keep my eyes open for more of Braemel’s books in the future! I give I Need You for Christmas a B(less)
I’ve been waiting for Carina’s story ever since she first stepped onto the page in The Marriage Trap. She was so young and bubbly and full of life and I adored her. Now that she has her own story, I have to say that I think this book might be my favorite in the series!
Carina has had a crush on her brother’s best friend, Max, for as long as she can remember. After years of his treating her like a little sister, she has given up and is now determined to work in the family business and finally put Max behind her. Little did Carina know she was going to have to work side-by-side with Max, and that Max would be determined to keep an eye on her every move.
Max never saw Carina as a woman–she was always the little sister of his best friend. But now that she has blossomed into an incredible woman, Max can’t seem to get her out of his mind. He will do anything to keep an eye on her, but fights the attraction between them with everything he has. Until one night in Vegas. And that night leads to something Max never imagined, a shotgun wedding with Carina, and a wife whom he is falling for, who seems to have fallen completely out of love with him.
I really can’t express enough how much I love these marriage of convenience stories. And like I said before, I think this might be my favorite in the series, because Carina and Max spent a majority of the book flirting and dancing around each other before the wedding actually took place. I liked that we had this really intense sexual tension build up before get to that one night in Vegas, and the consequences of the actual wedding.
I still love Carina so much after this story. Although she is a little more jaded in this story then she was in the previous book, she is also more grown up. She knows what she wants, and she isn’t afraid to take it. My heart literally hurt for her that she felt that she had to hide a piece of herself away from her family, and that it took her so long to really come to terms with what she really wanted out of life. I loved that she was somewhat cold to Max, that she made it perfectly clear to him she wasn’t going to hang onto his every word like she did as a young woman. I loved that she was able to make Max squirm by being somewhat aloof and distant.
I was a little worried that Max would come off as a jerk, but I actually ended up really liking his character. His own insecurities over his fate with the company really resonated throughout the book, and I was a little surprised that he had never said anything to Michael before. The way that he tripped over himself whenever Carina was around was great too. It was nice to see a flip-flop with their characters: Max chasing Carina instead of the other way around.
Although the reasoning behind the forced marriage was a little weak, I still loved it. Poor Carina having to face off against her mother and admit that she was still somewhat in love with Max… I would have killed my own mother for forcing me to marry someone she knew I was in love with, whom I felt didn’t love me back. Talk about being forced into a miserable situation! But I loved the way it all played out. How Max was able to finally come to terms with him own feelings, and woo his wife once and for all.
The romance from beginning to end was great. I loved the slow burn and sexual tension from the first major chunk of the book. I loved watching Max dance around Carina while still trying to keep her at an arms length. Once they actually got married, the book was winding down, but I loved the way that Max was so determined to have Carina be happy in their marriage, that I thought his big gesture was so sweet!
All in all I think this is my favorite book in the Marriage to a Billionaire series. Max and Carina were both fabulous characters, and I loved getting the chance to see their happily ever after. The romance was so well done, from the strong sexual tension to the explosion of passion, to the forced marriage and dealing with that fallout. I think Probst has ended this trilogy on a high note, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. I give The Marriage Mistake a B+(less)
From the moment I picked up the first in the Fatal series – Fatal Affair – for free, I’ve been OBSESSED with Force and the Fatal series. I went and purchased books 2 – 5 over the course of a weekend, and am SO glad I found this series. For those of you who have not yet read or started this series, Fatal Affair will be free from all ebook retailers until December 31st. Go out and get your copy now!
Beware that this review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series!
Sam is on a roll of high profile cases solved, and when she catches the murder of the White House deputy chief of staff’s wife (and good friend of Nick), she knows this might be the biggest and most complicated case she’s had to date. Between the missing child and clues that are leading Sam on a wild goose chase, this case is one that is puzzling even to her.
Alongside the confusion of Sam’s case, things with Nick’s career in the Senate are heating up as well. His career is progressing faster and further than he or Sam ever expected, and it’s both thrilling and scary at the same time. Add in the stress of wanting to start a family and this time Sam and Nick might fall under the pressure of their lives.
I am seriously so in love with this series. Although I’ve only read the first 3 or 4 In Death books, there are so many similarities between the two that any Robb fan will be guaranteed to love this series. I especially love that we get the chance to follow Sam and Nick through all the ups and downs, trials and tribulations of a relationship. One of my favorite aspects of ongoing Urban Fantasy series is that we usually get the chance to follow the same couple through thick and thin, and the fact that a romantic suspense series has taken on the same theme has me doing a happy dance every time I crack open one of these books.
The murder in this story was so unique and different. The twists and turns behind the victim and the conspiracy and everything else was such a mind trip. I kept turning each page and thinking… OMG, OMG, where is Force going to go next?! I love – absolutely LOVE – when an author can do that to me. It doesn’t happen often, so when it does, it makes for a reading experience that is so completely out of this world that I’m in a book high for days afterwards.
I think in regards to the romance between Sam and Nick, this book is also one of my favorites in the series. Although they’ve already married and settled into their lives together, they make some big relationship decisions in this book. I love that despite their differences in the way they were raised and their ideas about relationships, these two are still so desperately in love. But Nick and Sam don’t just make an even deeper emotional connection in this book… Force wrote the sexiest (IMO) scene in the series so far in this book. Holy.Smutty.Awesomesauce. Love. Absolutely love love love!
I can’t even put into words how much I adore this series so far. Everything about it is so fabulous. From the ongoing romance between Nick and Sam to their individual characters, careers and situations there isn’t much I don’t love about this series. The secondary characters are all amazing, from the other detectives that work with Sam to Nick’s employees to Sam’s family, every character has made a huge impact on the series and me personally. I love the mystery in each book. Although Sam seems to catch every high-profile case in the DC area, each one feels different. I have yet to pick up one of the Fatal books and be bored. I can’t recommend this series enough!
All in all I absolutely loved this book. I think it might be my favorite in the series so far! The romance, the mystery, the ongoing story lines… everything about these books has me sitting on the edge of my seat and begging for more. I am anxiously awaiting the next in the series. I give Fatal Deception an A(less)