Favorite Quote: “Fuck the guy, take the girl, save a soul”
Raze is a medic for Underworld General and a supernatural night club. He is also a seminus demon (sex demon) who has a bit of a problem. He’s gay. Unfortunately, he can only obtain the sexual release he needs to survive with females. 30 years ago he met a succubus, Fayle, who saved his life and now services him when he needs relief. Raze appreciates what Fayle does for him but neither are interested in each other and her possessiveness is beginning to wear on him. Raze has accepted his fate but when he meets a sexy man, he wonders if it’s possible for him to not only have what he needs…but who he wants.
Slake is an assassin for a demon run law firm. He escaped his violent homeland and made a deal with the devil (or someone pretty close to Satan) in order to survive but now finds himself on a deadline. He needs to retrieve a succubus and deliver her pronto or he forfeits his soul forever. The stunning medic he recently met has all his engines firing at full throttle but when he discovers his target, Fayle, is the only thing keeping the Raze alive, he finds himself caught in a trap of his own making.
As Raze and Slake look to find some middle ground, Fayle’s jealousy turns deadly, and suddenly Raze and Slake are fighting for more than their right to love. Now they’re fighting for their lives.
If you are anything like me, you glom Larissa Ione’s Demonica series with an unholy passion. I continue to wait breathlessly for each little niblet Ione releases in this world. When I heard she was writing an MM romance…my grabby hands went into hyper drive. As always, this wickedly dark and gritty paranormal world continues to thrive with it’s dynamic characters, devious plots lines, steamy sexually intense romances, and engaging often humorous dialogue.
Raze and Slake are a delightful addition to this world. Both are intelligent, gorgeous, honorable men who haven’t had the easiest of times. Ione weaves a sensual “lust at first sight” romance and divulges just enough into their backgrounds to help fan the flames of desire and attraction. Delicious love scenes and some unusual but well plotted twists helps these boys towards their happily ever after. Fans will delight in seeing cameos of various beloved characters who pop in and out to help Raze and Slake. My only qualm is the blurb claims Fayle and Raze are best friends but the storyline doesn’t support that. Their relationship is anything but friendly and decidedly one sided.
Once again Ione has given us a much desired and sexy glimpse back into her world and reaffirms that in the PNR genre, she is definitely royalty.
Ballybeg Bad Boys is a series of novellas that spin-off Zara Keane’s original and popular Ballybeg series. This installment was originally released as part of the Romancing the Alpha: An Action-Adventure Romance Boxed Set Anthology.
Her Treasure Hunter Ex takes us back to Ballybeg and introduces us to Katy Ryan and Declan Fitzgerald. Fans of Keane’s will notice that Declan (Dex) is the brother of Seán Mackey, the hero in Love and Shamrocks. Katy and Dex suffered a tragedy that was made worse by depression and a lack of communication. Their relationship ultimately failed and they went their separate ways. When they discover they will not only be teammates but also bunk mates, Dex and Katy set aside their animosity and focus on the job, only to discover the past has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it.
This sexy romantic suspense blends a steamy second chance romance with an interesting mystery revolving around a sunken ship, hidden treasure, and the race to find it. A steady pace with personable characters makes this an easy fun read. I have always been interested in the sinking of the Lusitania and the conspiracies that have surrounded it. Keane’s use of fact and fiction in the mystery only serves to heighten your interest as you root for this estranged couple to reconnect. My only qualm is I felt the couple reconnected too easily for the multiple issues that drove them apart. They didn’t really deal with what happened. They just apologized to one another and decided to let go and move forward from there.
A spin-off of Wright’s popular Phoenix Pack series; this new series focuses on the Mercury Pack which is led by Nick and Shayla -from Carnal Secrets. Just as with her other PNRs, Wright builds an engaging story featuring strong men and women, humor, action, suspense, and some steamy hot love scenes. Smooth writing and strong dialogue keeps the story flowing fast and able to handle the multiple plot lines. Fans will love seeing plenty of old faces from The Phoenix Pack and getting some updates on previous couples. ...more
Girl Wife Prisoner reminded me heavily of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca in its overall construct though the author does attempt to modernize with some basic changes and unexpected twists. Narrated by the heroine (whom is named), we hear her tale of love, loss, deception, revenge, and redemption. We learn of the ultimate sacrifice one can make for love only to discover that the devil is always in the details. This is not a romance in the truest sense of the genre. This is more of a cautionary tale. A tragedy. There is a love story in here but it is used more as a learning experience to show readers the psychological and physical ramifications of lost hopes and shattered dreams.
Noriko, a young woman (approx. 17 years of age) from Japan, arranges to be a wealthy man’s mail order bride in exchange for payment of her beloved father’s medical bills. Filled with trepidation and hope, Noriko comes to her future home with every intention of honoring her commitment and being the “good wife” that her new husband, Drake Blackwell, has bought and paid for.
When she arrives at Blackwell Manor, her husband is nowhere to be found and she is instead greeted by her new husband’s jealous personal assistant and the over zealous housekeeper. She is left to her own devices for days at a time. In her loneliness she goes looking for a friend only to learn that the staff have specific instructions on how to interact with the new mistress. Her introduction and subsequent relationship with Drake does not go as she has envisioned and Noriko discovers her marriage is little more than a gilded cage she voluntarily walked it. A chance meeting with an attractive gardener gives her an outlet for the desolation and loneliness she is feeling but as their friendship turns to something deeper, Noriko finds that everything has a price and sometimes that price is your soul.
Similarities to du Maurier’s Rebecca are seen throughout the story. A young penniless bride and an older wealthy man marry. A home shrouded in sorrow and darkness by it’s former owners. Isolation and secrets are alluded to over the former mistress’s death. The husband never spends the night in bed with his wife. There is a wing that the heroine is warned is off limits. We have a Mrs. Danvers and a Frank-though their roles are revised in here. There’s even a scene where Noriko is tricked into wearing something of the former mistress’s in hopes her husband, Drake, will react negatively. Yet regardless of the similarities, Peach does strive to make this her own with her development of Noriko and the channeling of her youthful voice and strong emotions. She reminds us constantly she is nothing like Mrs. De Winters.
While reading it was very easy to forget Noriko is essentially a child who has been tossed into an unknown situation with no one at her back. She is in a strange country with no friends, no family, and most importantly, no money. She is utterly dependant on her husband who seems to completely ignore her one minute and dominate her every move the next. Though in the beginning she seems at times to be reacting purely on an emotional level, striking out at everyone around her, you soon see she is far more complex and intelligent then she lets on. When she finally lets down her guard, we begin to see the true Noriko and it’s here that the story picks up the pace and it’s similarities to Rebecca ease off. We begin to see the cracks in Noriko’s psyche that Drake’s actions have caused. Peach doesn’t as spend much time as I would have liked in developing Blackmore or its master though. I would have liked to have seen Drake as more than just a prop in Noriko’s evolution. Or devolution as it may be.
The ending surprised me and further complicated my final impressions of Noriko. Rather than ease us in, Peach chooses to go for the jugular, taking us at a whiplash pace of speed and allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions about the events taking place. Noriko’s choices were unusual, extremely dramatic at one point, yet somewhat understandable when the picture is viewed as a whole. Love can make us commit horrific acts when we are driven to the edge of the abyss. The story leaves off on a hopeful note, giving us the impression that Noriko has a chance at the happiness she tried desperately to find at Blackwell.
I made it 40% and had to give up. A confusing story that had a lot going on but wasn't actually going anywhere. DNF-will post thoughts in Sept reviewsI made it 40% and had to give up. A confusing story that had a lot going on but wasn't actually going anywhere. DNF-will post thoughts in Sept reviews. ...more
Devoted in Death is the 41st installment in J.D. Robb’s thrilling futuristic mystery series. Taking place in the year 2061, the series revolves around a tough as nails police lieutenant, Eve Dallas, and her sexy billionaire husband, Roarke. I find it amazing that this series (story wise) has only advanced two years in time. The writing and character advancement are so strong and creatively revealed, you get the impression that years have gone by. Robb perfectly blends Eve’s personal life with her professional one, creating an addictive action packed police thriller with a lush established romance that constantly hums in the background. Though plumb with police procedurals and investigative terms, Robb writes with a liberal hand, making it easy for those unfamiliar with either of these aspects to follow along with nary a hiccup.
Eve has just returned from a much needed tropical vacation with her husband Roarke only to be called out on a homicide. A famous cello player has been tortured and murdered; his body dumped far from home. The only clues are the letters E & D surrounded by a heart carved into his skin. As Eve submerges herself into her investigation, she meets up with an out of town cop who claims he has knowledge of this case. Deputy William T. Banner from Arkansas has been investigating earlier murders whose MO bears a striking resemblance to Eve’s case. Unable to get his chief on board, Banner starts connecting the dots on his own time which leads him to NYC and Eve. Eve invites Banner to join her team as they slowly begin to piece the puzzle together and discover a way to capture this destructive duo.
This installment starts out a little different from previous installments as we are made privy to the villains in the beginning. The storyline revolves around watching how Eve puts it all together to solve the case. Robb flashes between the past and present, allowing us an intimate view of Ella-Loo and Darryl as they make their way towards NYC while Eve and her squad investigate their crimes in present day NYC. Robb gradually intersects the two storylines and merges them together towards the climactic finale. A majority of the book focuses mainly on the investigation of the case with snippets of Eve’s personal life dotting the storyline. Readers will appreciate the continued evolution of Eve as she continues to become more comfortable in her life with Roarke and in her own skin. Though she will never forget her childhood, she is gradually coming to terms with it and letting go of the guilt that has held her hostage for years.
The case itself is interesting in the way it’s presented. The readers are in the know before Eve and I found this caused me to be more heavily invested in watching her use her skills and gut feelings in solving the case. Some violence and sexual assault is alluded to so for some readers this may be a trigger.
Old familiar faces along with some new ones provide entertainment, sweet sigh invoking scenes, and the usual humor. Eve still continues to be confounded by the oft-repeated and taken for granted sayings we all sprout unconsciously. Fans will love the deepened friendship and camaraderie Eve has developed with her squad. The family style atmosphere only serves to further enhance how much Eve has grown in the past two years. The chemistry between her and Roarke is still steamy hot and Robb doesn’t cheat readers out of their private times together-assuring us the honeymoon phase is still going strong. *wink* I love there is a small scene where Roarke experiences some jealousy. It’s nice to see as he is usually in tight control of his emotions and seemingly maintains a level head at all times.
Fans of the series will find comfort in the familiar as Devoted in Death continues the In Death saga with a thrill based storyline, much beloved characters, and a timeless romance.
Cassie Wagner met and fell in love with Gage Hunter, lead singer for the band Engage, while in college. Their whirlwind romance ended abruptly when Gage decided to break up with her before he went on tour. After a few months, he realized his mistake and came back for her only to discover she had left college and disappeared. Now five years later, Gage runs into Cassie at a party but before he can talk to her, she disappears again. Gage has never forgotten Cassie and is determined to gain her forgiveness and pick up where they left off but Cassie isn’t the star struck girl she was back then and she has some forgiveness to ask for.
As Cassie and Gage work to heal the breach between them, an outside force brings danger into Cassie’s life and Gage’s protective instincts go into overdrive. Gage needs this second chance but he won’t get it unless he can stop the growing violence that is stalking Cassie.
Engaging is the second book in Sarah Curtis’s Allure series. I read book one, Alluring, earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed it. You can read my review Alluring HERE. Engaging is about second chances. As with book one, the romance is pretty straight forward in its reveal with a slightly off-center suspense subplot that is used to push our couple towards their HEA. Curtis flips between the past and present to tell Gage and Claire’s story, making sure we understand just where everything went wrong and how they might be able to fix it. Well written with a clear concise storyline, well developed plotlines, and personable characters; I found this one didn’t capture me as much as the first one.
I had issues with the heroine. I never really connected with her. I’m all for making someone work to regain your trust, and mind you me, Gage broke Cassie’s trust, but I’m not onboard with acting the fool out of spite in order to get exact revenge for past deeds. She makes some incredibly ignorant decisions from the moment Gage leaves her. When Gage re enters her life, in her need to punish Gage for his past decisions, she continues to make bad decisions that pretty much had me throwing up my hands in disgust. One decision in particular is unforgivable in my opinion. There are only two reasons to make the decision she made and neither of them were present.
I liked the hero, Gage, much better. Besides being sexy, smart, and alpha; he readily admits to his mistakes. He knew he was stupid for breaking it off with Claire before going on tour. He admits his fear got the better of him and when he sees her again, he does everything possible to make it up to her and prove to her he still loves her. I admit I questioned Gage’s inability to find Claire after he left her. It had only been two months. He’s a rock star and has the money and connections that the average person doesn’t. He could have found her if he really wanted to. But overall, Gage does everything he can to rebuild the trust he lost and that includes being extremely patient with Claire’s antics.
The reconnection is slow going as Claire fights it every step of the way. The chemistry is sizzling. Physically they have no issues at all. It’s emotionally where they have a long uphill battle. I personally felt Claire dragged it out for too long, inventing problems where there were none.
The stalker subplot is well written though it doesn’t blend well with the main storyline. It plays off Claire’s job and addresses a serious problem in the world today. Though Curtis uses it as a glaring plot device to push Claire forward in her life, she never belittles the issues nor uses the violence involved gratuitously. Be forewarned: some may find this aspect of the story disturbing as dog fighting is a violent crime that often does not have a happy ending.
The ending comes at us hard and fast, leaving little time to process. Curtis slams us into our happy place as the subplot and romance wrap up tightly leaving readers with no doubt Claire and Gage have found their happily ever after. While this one wasn’t a favorite, I really dislike one of the tropes used in here immensely, I still enjoyed Curtis’s voice and look forward to book three in this series.
Fans of new adult sports themed romances by such authors as Kristen Callihan, Sarina Bowen, and Elle Kennedy will love Jen Frederick’s newest venture. Sacked is a fun, sexy, humorous, slightly angst filled romance that introduces a couple whose love story is complicated by family obligations. Facilitated by witty banter, adept communication, and delicious sexual tension, Frederick’s takes an all too common trope, adds a few twists, and infuses it with new life.
I have long enjoyed Jen Fredrick’s writing since I first read her collaboration Hitman series with Jessica Clare. Already a popular NA author with her Woodlands series, I was pleased to see her jump on the sports band wagon as this one of my favorite settings in romance. Frederick is a talented writer whose realistic and appealing characters draws me in like a moth to flame. They aren’t perfect and while we do see emotional turmoil, it’s not the eye rolling melodrama used to create unnecessary angst within the conflict. She takes pains to avoid the stereotypical over the top obnoxious behavior usually presented in this genre and instead gives us smart characters whose actions are genuine in reaction to the circumstances and their age. The insta love/lust aspect was a little eyebrow raising in the beginning but the reveal is entertaining; especially as the hero is a virgin for benign reasons and his love interest is a teammate’s sister who avoids football players like the plague.
Knox Masters is the big man on campus. A senior defensive end top NFL draft pick, this talented, dedicated, gorgeous, and intelligent is a likable hero who charmed my pants off. No, not literally but close. *wink* Not to say he didn’t have what I like to call his “guy moments” but he’s not malicious, self-absorbed, or a game player. No heavy or emotional baggage weighs him down. As self-assured off the field as he is on, once he meets Ellie Campbell there is no stopping him. He feels their connection and is determined to do everything possible to get her to see they belong together.
Her. This one.
Ellie Campbell transferred to Western State with her brother Jack for numerous reasons. One reason especially that if it got out could not only hurt her and her brother, but the entire football team. A junior working towards her degree, Ellie doesn’t have time for romance, especially not with one of her brother’s teammates. Plus, she’s already went down that road before and the results are disastrous. Intelligent, witty, and snarky, her affordable nature belays a deep vulnerability that pinches at your heart once you are privy to the reasons behind it. Knox appeals to her more than she would like to admit but her fear of the past repeating itself has her running from her feelings. And him.
Football players and I don’t mix.
Knox and Ellie are a delight together and individually. Frederick’s characterization of them is strong, helped along by intense internal dialogue that further divulges into the personalities of Ellie and Knox. The romance builds slow but steady, infusing the story with yummy sexual tension and laugh out loud scenes that proves Knox and Ellie are indeed destined for one another. I cheered for Knox’s grand gestures and never ending attempts to break through Ellie’s walls. He sees Ellie and no one, besides Jack, ever has before. Ellie’s guilt over her secret drags her down but Knox holds her up every time she stumbles. They have such electrified banter and delectable crazy chemistry. Sexually charged scenes add a nice bite to story.
You can’t help but look at his hands, the heavily veined forearms and the bulging biceps, and wonder whether the parts of him you can’t see are just as big. You can’t watch him move on the field, making fucking magic with his body, and not wonder what it’d be like to feel it flush against your own.
Though the romance is the main theme, Frederick’s intertwines it with some drama laced external plotlines, using them to break down and rebuild Knox and Ellie at a mental level to help them learn what is most important for themselves. A dynamic and rambunctious cast of secondary characters helps keep the story following it’s predestined path and offer clues to the next hero. My vote is Matty or Jack. From the football team attempts to help Knox lose his v-card to Ellie’s brother Jack and his sweet protectiveness towards her, we see a diverse group where laughter and camaraderie are the prime ingredients on which they are built. They certainly kept me laughing with their advice, observations, and attempts to help.
“Are there rules for when you should text a girl?” “Three days unless it’s a booty call, than anytime after ten.”
Of course, the best romances have a happy ending and Frederick’s doesn’t disappoint. Some may be surprised by some her choices but I wasn’t because it summed up Knox and his love for Ellie in a nutshell. I will say I thought the resolution to the“big secret” wrapped up a little too neatly for it being the main conflict. Regardless, Sacked is a fun sexy romance that reads hot and fast. I look forward to spending more time with the Warriors in the future.
I picked up Alluring due to S&M Obsessions tweeting about it. Though I’m not a fan of the billionaire alpha caveman and virginal innocent poor heart of gold heroine trope, there was something about this opposites attract story appealed to me. Formulaic and rather simple, this heavily character driven story focuses on the protagonists and Curtis writes them with style, humor, and a wee bit of drama. Dual points of views gives insight to what our lovers are thinking without rehashing scenes or clunky dialogue. Steady pacing and a clear voice makes this a fast, easy, and sexy read. Though this is a series, each book is a standalone with a HEA ending.
Jackson Cole IS a bit of an alpha caveman but he readily admits it. While he definitely has a possessive obsessive side, he doesn’t strive to make Alexis one of his possession. He doesn’t keep her in the dark about things, is always upfront and honest with her, and doesn’t make demands that will keep her under his thumb. Cupid’s arrow has hit him hard and while he’s a little confused about his feelings, he doesn’t use his new found feelings to create unnecessary drama or push the Alexis away.
“You can’t force me to date you, Jack.”
“I won’t be forcing you. I won’t need to force you. By the time I’m done with you, you’ll be begging me.”
“Why are you doing this? Why go to this much trouble? Surely there are hundreds of women out there more than happy, probably thrilled to spend time with you. You wouldn’t even even have to try. Why don’t you go after them?”
“Because I want you.”
Alexis isn’t your usual poor defenseless heroine. She doesn’t need saving. She wasn’t placed in a situation that demoralizes or causes her to eat ramen noodles for weeks on end (not that ramen noodles are bad-I happen to love them). She works very hard but has friends, a decent apartment, and a small but enjoyable personal life. Strong, forthright, and smart, Alexis is more than able to hold her own against Jack. Alexis knows who Jack is and has seen the women he has dated. She knows his reputation as a one night only lover and is honestly perplexed why he wants to date her. She doesn’t do one night stands, admitting that when she finds the one for her, she will be all in and doesn’t think that the instant gratification of sex for one night is a good enough trade against what she really wants.
“What will I do when you’re gone? I’ve grown so dependent on you.”
I’m not going anywhere, sweetheart.”
You can’t predict the future, Jack.”
“There is no future I see, that you aren’t in.”
The romance builds quickly as Jack chases after and systematically wipes out all of Alexis’s objections to why they shouldn’t date. Jack is very vocal about how he feels about her and what he wants from her. I found it a bit cheesy at times but in a good way. Jack and Alexis are cute and funny together; especially when they don’t see eye to eye. The sexy times are playful and hot with some silly moments that only adds to the fun of them.
God, that mouth of his. Was that going to be her punishment? His dirty mouth, doing dirty things to her body. She could live with that.
Alluring is a sweet, sexy, fluffy read that doesn’t tax the reader with intricate plot lines or deep character reveals. There is no real angst, huge secrets or emotional baggage to overcome. It’s a simplistic romance that did exact what it intended to do-entertain me from beginning to end. My only qualms is the stalker plot line was weak and gratuitous and there were some editing/grammar issues. Curtis has the talent and potential that could be further tightened up with the help of a good editor. I look forward to reading more from her in the future.
Derek Sawyer has it all with a fiance, a good job, a romantic getaway cabin on the lake, and his dog, Gracie. When his best friend and coworker, Victor, sexually assaults him on a business trip then turns around and files harassment charges against him at work, Derek loses everything. Alone and scared, Derek is stuck in a web of fear and shame that is tightening around him every day.
Officer Russ Thomas owns the cabin next door to Derek. Though immediately attracted to Derek upon first meeting him, Russ isn’t about to come between a committed couple. A comfortable neighborly friendship develops between Derek and Russ. When Russ runs into Derek after not seeing him for a few weeks, he notices something is wrong. Gone is the happy go lucky man he has come to know and in its place is a scared and angry man. Having worked with victims of sexual assault before, it doesn’t take Russ long to figure out what has happened to Derek. With Russ’s help, Derek files a police report and restraining order against Victor in hopes of gaining back his life. But Victor doesn’t see what he did was wrong and Derek’s actions only serve to anger him more.
As Russ stands by Derek, being the rock at his back as he slowly tries to recover, Victor refuses to give up and soon Derek finds himself fighting for more than just getting his life back…now he’s fighting to stay alive.
Violated is a thought-provoking and sobering tale that addresses sensitive subject matter. Male on male sexual assault happens far more often than it’s reported and the aftermath for the victim and everyone around them can be devastating. Fessenden effectively identifies and reveals the physical and psychological effects that rape has on the person assaulted and the continued emotional and mental assault they face as they struggle to find justice. The plot line sets up well, introducing us to the players involved and the roles they play in the protagonist’s life. The timeline is revealed in a concise and clear manner with no confusion or questionable scenes. That in itself was part of the problem. Fessenden does a good job of telling you of Derek’s pain, sorrow, and confusion – but the emotional connection I was expecting didn’t happen. I was never able to make the jump from reading to feeling the story through Derek’s eyes and emotions.
A varied character base helps to keep the story moving at a steady place though Fessenden’s focus remains almost solely with Derek. When he does break away to other characters, the story loses itself and becomes even more disconnected. I found Tim and Victor to be weak links and they really shouldn’t have been. They were purported to have strong ties to Derek and I would have liked a more time to have been spent developing them and the reasons why they acted as they did. Instead, Tim and Victor serve as merely plot devices to give the story the villains it needed to push Derek towards his supposed HEA.
Russ had stronger characterization and I liked seeing him and Derek connect first as friends. He tries to give Derek the space and support he needs though his job as a police officer and his attraction foreshadows his need to protect Derek at all costs. He doesn’t push (too much) which I thought was appropriate considering. Again though, I felt as if I was being told of their feelings without seeing it actually happen. This gave the relationship a forced feeling as if the author wasn’t sure of his characters intentions . There were also some scenes that were supposed help us better understand Russ but they don’t really add anything to the story or procure the desired effect. Russ’s adventurous sexual hook ups wants us to see he’s looking for a solid monogamous relationship and his sister’s news hints that he understands Derek better than Derek or we think. Yet, It’s all very awkwardly presented and out of sync with the rest of the storyline.
Regardless of my issues, Fessenden does do justice to this main topic and those involved. He wraps it up in a realistic manner; Derek isn’t magically cured. He struggles until the end but with help is trying to get on with his life and making strides in his recovery. While this wasn’t quite the story I thought it would be as it didn’t solicit the reactions I expected, it is a story that I appreciated for the honesty and compassion Fessenden used in writing it.
Sophia Brown has lost her husband and her passion for life. An accomplished cook and gardener, her daughters enter her in a cooking contest hoping it will help to wake their mother up from her grief. The contest is a televised show that pairs an amateur and professional together with weekly eliminating cook offs. Sophia sees this contest as a chance to start a new chapter of her life. The only problem is her partner. Elliott Adamson
Elliott Adamson is an arrogant, cantankerous, rude Scotsman who thinks Sophia and her ideas are ridiculous. A professional chef who has burned just about every bridge he has crossed sees this contest as his last chance to dig himself out of debt. And he refuses to let a little Vermont nobody hold him back.
As Sophia fights and charms her way to victory, she learns that life often hands us no more and no less than we can handle. Fear, grief, love, and courage, when combined together, can create a taste of heaven.
A Taste of Heaven is a delicious bite of romance and humor as a grief stricken widow finds herself competing in a culinary contest with a grumpy Scotsman. Well written and throughly drenched in humor, romance, and a touch of bittersweet emotions, I found this story to be simply delightful and utterly refreshing.
Penny Watson has a talent for creating stories that appeal to the romantic in all of us. Strong, personable heroines, grumpy redeemable heroes, and a sexy emotional love story that is steeped in humor and realism. Writing of older heroes and heroines, she invites readers to see that love and sex is not just for the young and beautiful. Sophia and Elliott are both in their late 40s, well versed in the highs and lows that life holds in store for us. They have both loved and lost; Sophia is a widow and Elliott is a thrice divorced. Yet they still retain their sexuality and desires. They are older-not dead.
Watson does a fabulous job of introducing and building our protagonists, using the contest and their personality differences to highlight their amusing antagonistic relationship. Humor, infectious banter, and a touch of the whimsical blends effortlessly throughout the story as we watch this delightful couple spar and quibble with one another. Elliott is loud where Sophia is quiet. Elliott pushes where Sophia cajoles. Sophia may be small and fragile looking but she is no pushover. While she is not a professional chef, she has an innate sense of what people like and she butts heads with Elliott time and time again to force him to see what his ego blinds him to.
This competition was her fresh start. And if she had to bully the Scot to get there, then so be it.
Elliott made me laugh as well as wanting to smack him around. A very talented chef, his controlling nature and inability to delegate is his achilles heel. Large, bald, and over-brimming with sarcasm and arrogance, he is unsure what to do about the little “fairy” who refuses to bow before his obvious God like stature. He is a bit of a food snob and seems to be single-handedly spearheading a challenge to make the world like haggis. *shudder*
Let’s get something perfectly clear. This is the Elliott Adamson show. I’m the professional chef. I’m the one with the experience. I’m the one who has everything on the line. Not you. I bark orders. You follow them like a good little girl.
Their antagonism soon turns to compromise, respect, and much more as Sophia and Elliott find a pleasant rhythm together in and out of the kitchen. Light flirting on Elliott’s side slowly stokes the fires of attraction and this couples’ chemistry begins to blaze out of control. Elliott is quite the charmer when he chooses to use his powers for good with his sexy accent and smooth moves. The sexual tension is outstanding as are the actual scenes.
Sophia found himself studying his lips. She wondered what it would be like to be kissed by Elliott Adamson. His lips looked firm and decisive. Nestled within a luxurious beard. Would i tickle? Would he be selfish and seductive?
Enjoyable behind the scenes look at the cooking contest and the small insights into everyone involved gives the story a healthy balance against the romance and keeps it flowing along steadily. From other professional chefs, to temperamental judges, and overly effervescent promoters, Watson captures the frenzy and desperation that always seems to envelop these reality shows perfectly.
A Taste Of Heaven is just that and more as Watson delights and entertains readers once again with her enchanting characters, energetic story lines, and swoon worthy romances.
I was super excited when Molly Harper told me at CMC2015 she was co authoring a new pnr series based on a Russian mob family who just happen to be wolf shifters. So I stalked her until I got a copy. GO ME! A strong, intelligent, sexually free alpha heroine takes the stage front and center as she fights to save the family business from her insane brother and her right to live and love on her own terms in a world where women are nothing more than pretty decorations. Humor and horror go hand in hand as Conrad and Corona build an engaging world that straddles the line between the mundane and the supernatural. Dynamic characters and witty dialogue keep the story moving along at a steady pace. Overall, I enjoyed though there were issues that stood out for me. A bit too much repetition (heroine constantly repeats that she can’t be with the hero due to his family) and there are some plot holes that defied explanation. Regardless, I look forward to reading more of this world.
Favorite Quote: “I saw you, you know. Everywhere I looked.”
Avery Dare lives a quiet life as a popular vlogger. Though she never forgot her first love, Grey Kingston, she knows his fame and lifestyle was never for her. When she receives a ticket backstage for one of his concerts, she attends only to see him wrapped up in a crowd of groupies, proving what she always thought.
Grey Kingston left home at eighteen to fulfill his dream of being a rock star. Now seven years later, he is at the top of his game as lead guitarist and singer for the band, Tangled Royal. He has everything he could he want-fame, money, and all the women he can handle-but not the girl he left behind. Tired and ready for a change, Gray heads back to Miami, hoping he can convince Avery to forgive him and give him another chance.
As Grey weaves his magic once again around Avery and their love for one reignites, there are those out there who don’t want them together. With the paparazzi circling and a stalker starts threatening Avery, she wonders if their love for one another can survive the fishbowl Grey seems to live in.
Dare to Rock is a short steamy second chance romance about a rock star and the girl he left behind. Number seven in Phillips’s Dare To Love series, each book can be read as a stand alone. This series follows the Dare family. The Dares’ are a group of siblings whose father carried on a secret affair for years and fathered four additional children with his mistress. YIKES. This installment is Avery Dare’s story. Avery was particularly hurt by her father’s deception because not only was she forced to deal with the cruelty of the world over the affair at a young age, but her father also asked her to donate bone marrow to one of her step siblings who was dying from cancer, reinforcing that her father loved his new family more than her.
I liked Dare To Rock overall even with it’s formulaic storyline. Phillips’s is a talented writer whose sexy romance contemporary entertains. Engaging characters and dialogue, along with a small suspenseful subplot, keeps the story running fast and smooth though I did feel we were dropped right down in the middle with not much to cling to as the story starts. Avery and Grey’s relationship picks right back up where it left off with little fanfare or conflict. We aren’t given an in depth look at their romance as teenagers nor do we get to see the results they suffered when Grey left. In fact, we barely see or hear anything of what happened to them (emotionally) in those years apart so I never got a good feel for how they were compared to now. Also, while I definitely felt the chemistry between them, I was a little more weary of what kept the attraction alive for seven years of no contact and how easily it was for them to fall back into it.
The sexual aspects of the romance are loud and proud as Grey is dominant dirty talker who loves to show Avery just how much he wants her. Which is all the time. :P Avery matches him sexually deed for deed which made for some nice steamy scenes. They are a cute couple whose connection is easily felt.
“He wanted to own her.To claim and possess her, to brand her so when she walked aout the door, she wouldn’t just smell like him, she’d belong to him. And come back to him.”
Avery and Grey’s reconnection blends well with their separate external relationships. I liked that Phillips’s didn’t isolate this couple to the point where nothing and no one else mattered. Avery has a strong relationship with all her siblings and a job that requires her continuous presence. Grey also has issues with his family that needed to be addressed and a career that didn’t just stop when he went home. Phillips’s gives just enough with the secondary characters so that new fan’s interests are peaked to scour Phillips’s backlist while more established fans will be pleased to see what past couples have been up to. The sparks between Erin and Tyler were HAWT and I hope their story comes soon.
The Dare To Love series are the perfect length and heat level to give even the busiest of readers a nice pleasant respite from the demands of everyday life. I recommend the series to everyone who enjoys a short but sweet romance with low level conflict and complementary characters....more
Favorite Quote: “The truth always come out eventually.”
One man will do anything to discover the truth behind his brother’s death.
One man will do anything to keep it buried.
The answer lies in the hands of one woman who will be forced to choose which is more important…loyalty or truth.
Abigail Wolff, an investigative journalist, turned in her press pass and resignation when a high profile story she wrote resulted in tragedy. Left bereft and guilt stricken over her actions in the affair, she is now works as a content curator for a health website. When she anonymously receives a packet of unclassified documents in the mail, alleging a military cover up in the death of a soldier, she finds herself poised on the edge of an abyss where she may be forced to betray the people she loves the most in order to find closure for a family she feels deserves the truth.
Kimberly Belle has proven she is no one trick pony with this latest release. As strong and heartbreakingly poignant as her debut, The Last Breathe, The Ones We Trust is a complex and thought-provoking drama that delivers a power filled story built on family and filled with grief, love, trust, betrayal. It asks you how far will you go and how much are you willing to give up in order discover the truth. Well researched and smoothly revealed, Belle expertly pulls all your emotions to the surface as you watch two families deal with the tragedy of losing someone they loved and trying valiantly to discover the reasons why.
The story reveals itself slowly, introducing these dynamic characters and their backstories while laying the groundwork for what’s to come. Two stories intertwine in here-one that serves to reminds Abigail of her past mistakes and one that gives her a chance to redeem herself-if only in her own eyes. One aspect I enjoy in Belle’s writing is the honesty she forces from her characters. While everyone would love to be hero and act above the board, we can’t negate the everyday emotions that make up our humanity. Love, lust, fear, anger, and selfishness exist and will always be a prevalent force no matter the situation we are in. Belle addresses these issues, showing us that it is very easy to be both the hero and villain of our own story.
Abigail is a strong, intelligent, forthright woman whose sense of loyalty and honesty are hardwired in her. An army brat, her father, a three star general, instilled strong values in her from day one of her life. Her determination to find out what happened to the slain soldier, Zach Armstrong, leads her to locate the Armstrong family and show them what she received. Unbeknownst to the family, Abigail not only knew Zach and interviewed him once upon a time, but she knows his brother Gabe as well. Mrs. Armstrong begs Abigail to write Zach’s story and bring the truth out in the open even though Abigail has repeatedly told her she is no longer a journalist. When Gabe comes to her, also asking for her help, Abigail is helpless to fight the tide of curiosity and begins her investigation. Unfortunately, her investigation leads her to her father and signs that he not only knows what really happened to Zach Armstrong…but had a hand in covering it up.
As Abigail works frantically to wipe away the darkness that surrounds Zach’s death, Belle uses her investigation to examine all of Abigail’s relationships and the effects her actions are having on them. How do you co-exist with your family whose goals are at odds with yours? How do you maintain loyalty? Should loyalty to family supersede all? How much is trust freely given and how much is painstakingly earned? Each person in here is forced to examine the motivations behind their actions and answer for them.
While the romance isn’t the main focus, it is a strong, sweetly defiant undercurrent that flows through the story. Family takes on new definitions as Abigail begins to form a romantic attachment to Gabe Armstrong. Grief stricken by the loss his brother and the toll it is taking on his family and himself, Gabe is distrustful of Abigail and is unsure if she is truly here to help or hinder his family’s investigation. His growing attraction to her becomes a source of confusion for him that sharpens under the growing evidence that the military wasn’t honest about his brother’s death.
As the mystery swirls around, drawing in tighter and tighter towards the finale, feelings of sorrow and relief overtakes the reader as we learn exactly what happened and why. The ending is bittersweet but hopeful as Abigail and Gabe learn that the truth is often layered in shades of gray and doesn’t always give us the answers we wanted to hear.
Favorite Quote: “I could choose to be miserable or I could choose to be happy. I was going to choose to be happy.”
Isabelle (Iz) Martin has come home to Claremont, NC after leaving Duke University and her boyfriend. Her mother’s death and her father’s depression convinces Iz she is needed at home more than ever. When her father demands she get a job or get out, Isabelle applies at Sawyer’s Auto Repair; owned and operated by the Iron Horseman MC. Isabelle doesn’t care who owns or runs it, however she does care her high school nemesis is a mechanic is there.
Caleb Sawyer is on a fast track to nowhere. A legacy member of the Iron Horseman, he thought his life was all planned out until his girlfriend of five years suddenly announced she has accepted an internship in California. He can’t leave Claremont and she refuses to stay. When he hits rock bottom, he is shocked the person who picks him up is none other than Isabelle Martin. Despite his endless teasing of her in high school, being on Isabelle makes him feel better. She listens without judgement or pity but also doesn’t put up with any of his crap.
After a rocky start, Isabelle and Caleb slowly build a strong friendship that develops into something more as each has something the other wants and needs. But can two completely different people find common ground? Or will the past always come back to stand in their way?
When I was offered Carry Your Heart, I honestly thought I was getting an MC romance. The first few chapters reminded me heavily of SOA fanfic as we get the back story and set to the protagonists and the Iron Horseman. As the story developed, the SOA feeling gradually faded though it still remained in the background. The MC aspect is extremely low-key with the main storyline focused almost exclusively on Caleb and Isabelle. Alternating povs gives us insight into their emotions and actions about the situations they are currently dealing with, without recapping the previous chapter. It becomes a solid contemporary NA romance. This isn’t a stand alone. While no cliffhanger ending, Ryan does warns us this is a trilogy that spans eight years of Isabelle and Caleb’s life.
Caleb is at a low point when he and Isabelle reconnect. His girlfriend is leaving town and he knew nothing of her plans until they were set in concrete. With no time to prepare for what he sees as her betrayal, he spirals down a hole filled with alcohol, drugs, and random women. This inadvertently affects Isabelle as her father is slowly killing himself with alcohol; depressed over his wife’s death. Isabelle’s fears for Caleb going down the same path pushes her to tell him some hard facts about love and loss. Isabelle helps Caleb straighten up which in turn allows Caleb to be there when she needs him most. From that point on, they become each other’s shoulder to lean on and their friendship blossoms into love.
The friends to lovers plot line reveals gradually, allowing us plenty of time to get to know Caleb and Isabelle as individuals and to facilitate their romance. Neither one has ever had a best friend of the opposite sex and Ryan does a wonderful job of bringing their friendship to life. It’s an integral aspect of the story. Smooth writing moves the story along at a steady pace. Lightweight in terms of drama and conflict; self discovery is the theme that permeates the story. Emotionally and physically, the chemistry is there but when it comes to actual sex, the scenes are blurry and vague. As I have a fabulous imagination, this didn’t bother me. :P
An array of secondary characters plump up the story, allowing us to get to know the town, its inhabitants, and the role the Iron Horseman play in it. Here is where the SOA feelings were the strongest. There is much in here to remind you of Charming and the strong hold the MC held on it. I saw Jax, Opie, Gemma, Clay, Wendy, and more in the characterization and storyline dynamics. Ryan does make it her own by keeping her focus mainly on Caleb and Isabelle but I am very curious to see what the next two books in this trilogy holds as the ending hints at an overzealous agent looking into the club and it’s activities.
All in all, Ryan’s debut NA romance is an easy read that doesn’t add ridiculous melodrama or over the top posturing from the men or woman. It has a feel good element to it as you watch this sweet young couple overcome some adversity to find happiness in their lives. Any misunderstandings are dealt with swiftly as this couple knows how to communicate and neither plays games. And, color me shocked, there is no cheating which is almost unheard of for any story revolving around an MC. The only reason I did not rate this higher was the strong SOA similarity. I am hoping that this tapers off and the next book stands on its own two feet. Book two-Carry You With Me-is slated to release in September 2015. I have a feeling that is where the MC will grab a larger part of the storyline.
Favorite Quote: “It’s not going to fit! It’s too big!”
Natalie Reese is a planner. Her whole life is a series of plans, schedules, and to-do lists. Having just turned 30, she has a bucket list of things that must be done now and the number one thing is to lose her virginity. But Natalie isn’t one to go about it in the usual way. No escorts or friends with benefits will do it for her. She doesn’t want the romance or the connection that might form from a sexual interlude. Oh no. She has an agenda. Her plan is to enter therapy and use a sex surrogate to divest her of this pesky problem. No muss. No fuss. Everything is planned perfectly right down to the lie that will get her in the program.
Fate rarely takes us into the direction we want to go…
Dr. Ryan Andrews-a 30 year old sexy, tattooed, intelligent, motorcycle riding soccer player is the bad boy every mama in the world would want you to bring home for supper. Currently working towards his PhD. Ryan’s ex girlfriend got him into the sex surrogate program to help fund his degree. He has secrets that keep him from forming romantic relationships and this job is perfect for him. When he first met Natalie at the local library, he gets a punch of attraction he hasn’t felt in a while, but when he learns she will be one of his clients, he tries to get out of it through no avail. Now stuck together as client and patient, Ryan and Natalie try to keep their attraction at a minimal and follow the rules of the program.
Fate often takes in the direction we need to go…
Ryan and Natalie’s relationship changes from clinical to steamy in very short time but when secrets, miscommunication, and jealous coworkers enter the picture, Natalie and Ryan will have to come clean with one another if they want this relationship to work.
Though listed as book one in a series, The Lessons is touted as a stand alone. Funny, lighthearted, sexy, and a wee bit angsty; Brown does well overall with just a few bumps in the road. Heavily character driven, this quirky heroine and her endearing hero entertain with witty dialogue, engaging internal monologues, and humorous scenes.
The first quarter of the book starts out slowly. I had a hard time understanding who Natalie was and where she was coming from. While I’m all for an OCD list maker (so says the post it note queen of wee little lists) I was confused as to why someone would hire a sex surrogate to lose their virginity to. That’s a lot of work and deception for something that can be down with one phone call and a hundred bucks. As I got to know Natalie better and Brown reveals her backstory, I began to see why she might choose this route. A product of foster care and a whole host of tragedies, Natalie has major trust and emotional issues that for her won’t allow her to choose a relationship that might produce an emotional connection. She honestly feels a professional surrogate will keep it all above board.
“He did not need him to be an Adonis. A pre-screened disease-free surrogate with a penis would do the job well enough…”
The introduction of Ryan as the surrogate and the firming up of the plot line brings the book into better focus. Ryan is delightful. Simply delightful. A beta style hero, he has a charming possessiveness (and dirty mouth) about him that belays his seemingly laid back personality. He has a firm moral stance and professional demeanor that has served him well in the past but meeting Natalie throws him for a loop. He wants her and it really messes with his head and heart. Once we are made aware of his own secrets and tragedies you only grow to like and respect him more.
“My new client was so f*cking hot it was messing with my brain.”
Though the initial setup is decidedly unconventional, Brown builds a believable romance that is appealing sweet, very hot, and dotted with a nice layer of tension. Natalie and Ryan’s romance is fraught with laughter and bittersweet moments as they attempt to navigate their way through this mess they have inadvertently created. I loved watching Natalie discover the joys of sex as she unknowingly falls in love with Ryan. It’s fun to see a character whose first sexual experiences aren’t overly melodramatic or littered with indecisiveness on a physical level. Natalie wants to try it all, discuss it all, and Ryan is 100% on board with it all. I also enjoyed the possessiveness Natalie develops towards her ‘doctor of lurve…’
“Yes, I called him mine. He’d put his mouth on my vagina, and I was a feeling a little territorial about the whole thing. Sue me.”
Overall I enjoyed The Lesson. It’s a quick fast read that hits all the right spots-romance and humor wise. A well developed cast of secondary characters gave the book added depth and more humor to the story and I really hope we see some of them in future installments. I did feel some of the plot devices used to push this couple in the right direction came off a little heavy-handed and manipulative. The external conflict that pushes the miscommunication issue stunned me; especially Ryan’s decision. I was also a little put out that Natalie didn’t seem to think all that much about the risks Ryan was taking for her. Even with the rather fast and anticlimactic resolution, the ending is sweet and fulfilling, wrapping up the story in a predictable but enjoyable manner.
Drive Me Wild is part 3 of a 5 part serial by Shari Slade. These edgy, suspenseful, erotic little niblets are an action packed surprise that gives readers a decadent taste of the dark side of Motorcycle Clubs and the bikers who give their undying loyalty to this brotherhood. The serial focuses on Noah, an enforcer with the Devil’s Host MC, and Star, a waitress whose cousin is in deep debt with the MC. In Ride Me Hard (part 1-review here) Noah is sent to collect payment for the debt Star’s cousin owes the club. Unable to locate Harry, Noah takes Star instead. A connection forms between Noah and Star though the connection is littered with lust and fear as Star is unsure in what manner Noah and the club will be extracting her cousin’s debt.
In Break Me In (Part 2-review here) Noah arrives back to the clubhouse with Star for protection only to put her straight into the line of fire as the Devil’s Host president wants his money and Star’s cousin is refusing to tell him where it is. Star learned along time ago that pain is just an emotion. An emotion that can be twisted for pleasure if you can find right person to share it with. When Noah is forced to get the answers his president wants, the results are catastrophic.
Drive Me Wild is the aftermath of Noah’s rebellion. The MC holds their lives in their hands while also deciding if and who they will send to rescue Noah’s sister who has been kidnapped by a rival MC. Star has begun to believe that Noah may actually care for her and while it relieves some of her anxiety…it also relieves the control she has had over her mouth. *wink*
As everyone knows, in an MC you can bad mouth your old man all you want but it had better be in private behind closed doors. Only a united front is shown in front of the MC. Star strikes out verbally to punish Noah for brushing her off and not allowing her to have her say but that’s okay because Noah knows exactly what Star needs.
“We’re alone now, Star. Do you need to cry?”
“Do we have time?”
“For me to give you something to cry about? I think so.”
He bends me over and pushes my face into the bedspread. The thermal weave I’d studied so closely is rough against my cheek. He holds me there with just the weight of his hand fisted in my hair.
“I’m going to spank your ass until it’s all pink and perfect. Until your pussy is soaking wet and you’re sobbing from it. Until you’re wild and raw.” He yanks my skirt up and my panties down in two brisk tugs. “And you’re going to tell me when you’ve had enough crying, understand?”
I nod, the slight movement jerking at my scalp, sending a fresh wash of pleasure down my spine.
“And if you’re really ruined—if your eyes are puffy and your face is swollen, if you’re fucking wrecked, just the way I like—I’ll lick your pussy until you come so hard on my tongue we both see stars. You can do that for me, baby. Can’t you? Let yourself go like that?”
Tears are already leaking from the corners of my eyes. Relief. I shudder with it. “Yes.”
The bed creaks as he settles beside me and then the first crack of palm to ass vibrates through my body. It’s a sharp heat and then it fades. A second crack, lower this time. A third, to the left. They layer together until my ass is all stinging heat and throbbing. I’m crying in earnest now. From the sharpness of the pain, the sweetness of the ache.
He spanks me again and again. On the end of every blow is a reverb that shoots straight to my clit, the pleasure on the other side of torment. I can feel moisture gathering between my lips every time I squirm and sob into the bedspread.
Everything feels swollen and ready. My pussy, my ass, my clit. God, my clit feels so hard I might come just from this. And I cry some more at the thought of not having Noah’s tongue. I’m crying for orgasms I’ll have and orgasms I won’t. I’m crying just for the sake of crying and it feels amazing. I’m nothing but feelings, dancing on the edge of Noah’s touch. Tender and brutal.
“I’m ruined.” I cry out.
But I’m not. Not nearly. I’ve got miles to go before Noah ruins me fully, drives me completely wild, wrecks me. I don’t know if we’ll have enough time together to get that far, but I’m ruined enough to make him happy in this moment.
Slade opens up further about Noah and Star’s childhoods; especially Noah’s. His blue collar upbringing is at odds with his tough exterior only further proving that all walks of life can be seen in an MC. A huge cliffhanger leaves readers rocking back in shock as we learn that not everyone is committed to the cause and sometimes what you see is definitely not what you get.
When I first saw came across this book-the title, cover, and blurb demanded I read it. A supernatural motorcycle club with a suspenseful storyline? Sign me up.
The storyline focuses heavily on the characters with light introductions to the Inked Menace club members and dual backstories on our protagonists-Cecelia Marks and Lucky Miller. Cecelia is in the witness protection program after she turned her husband in to the Feds for illegal arms dealing. An impromptu decision to get a tattoo leads her to Lucky. Lucky Miller is a wolf shifter. A patched member of a secret shifter motorcycle club- Inked Menace- he went nomad when his girlfriend was murdered. Lucky and Cecelia connect instantly but their collective issues keeps them from making any moves in that direction. When he hears Cecelia has a bounty on her head and two rival gangs are thinking of trying to collect on it, he throws caution to the wind and decides he and his club are going to protect Cecelia no matter what.
Unfortunately what I expected to read and what I read were two different things.
Weak characterization and storyline takes potentially strong, interesting protagonists and makes them clichés. This is a result of the author choosing to use a multitude of plot devices to force the characters into the direction she wants them to go rather than building on the base she initially sets up. Can’t pursue a relationship due to past issues? Then we’ll slap in a situation to make it possible. Unsure sexually where you stand? The mate bond is a surefire way to bypass having to work through all those pesky emotions. Can’t figure out how to address the supernatural elephant in the room? No worries. We’ll just make the other person magical too. So on and so on. There was no real work in developing the story. Rather the reader is manipulated by flash and awe before noticing there is nothing behind the smoke screen.
Awkward dialogue and some odd phrasing made me laugh but not in a good way; knocking me out of story multiple times. The losing of one’s head is referred to as getting you’re neck hacked from your body. The heroine refers to her and the hero having sex as sating their baser desires. Dirty talk from the hero consists of, “you’re so tight that when we’re done you’re gonna squeak when you walk.” *blinks*
The story rushes to the end with almost no time devoted to the main conflict beyond introducing and off the wall resolution. I wished the villain would have played a more active role. The relationship issues are resolved with sex and a single conversation and everything else is “magically” wrapped up with a happy ending for all.
Moonlight on Nightingale Way is listed as the final book in Young’s adult romance contemporary series, On Dublin Street. Based on a group of friends and family, we have watched this group grow and expand beyond what was first introduced in book one-On Dublin Street. Brimming with sexy men and women, humor, angst, real world issues, and much growth in the world, characterization, and from the author herself, I have enjoyed, for the most part, my journey through this series.
Opposites attract and enemies to lovers are always fun tropes to read in romance. Often starting from an antagonistic base, readers laugh and rejoice as the protagonists learn more about one another and find that spark we saw from the beginning. I admit I was uneasy when I read the excerpt to this book at the end of book five. I really didn’t want another story about woman or man whose baggage is so great they are unable to emotionally or mentally move on with their lives; choosing instead to place all their anger on the shoulders on the one person who truly sees them. Luckily for us, this is not one of those stories.
Grace Farquhar is a quiet, intelligent, studious woman who works from home as a freelance book editor. When she finds a pair of thong underwear drying on the landing between her apartment and her neighbor’s, she expects to make her issues known and leave…in a quiet, considerate manner. Unfortunately, her neighbor doesn’t seem like a quiet considerate man. He’s gregarious, big, gorgeous, obnoxious and immediately takes offense at what he deems Grace’s prude-like stance. From there starts a battle of the wills that left me giggling and smiling non stop.
“For the last three nights I’ve had to put up with the constant loud sex from you and your bloody American. I just want peace and quiet. I want some bloody goddamn sleep!”
“Have you got a glass up against the wall?”
“How did you know I’ve been fucking an American?”
“Because. I. Can. Hear. Every. Word. She. Says.”
Logan McLeod was just released from a two year stint in prison for assaulting the man who beat and almost raped his sister. Working as a nightclub manager; all he wants is to catch up on everything he missed during his incarceration. Namely sex. He uses one night stands to avoid commitment and dealing with his issues. When Grace makes her feelings known over the underwear, the loud sex noises, the constant parade of woman, he feels judged and strikes back.
“You don’t have to be so antagonistic, you know. You should consider removing that stick from your tiny arse.”
“You talk down to me. And there’s that pinchy-mouthed look you give me instead of a smile every time you pass me in the hall.”
Pinchy-mouthed? I sniffed at the insult and turned to leave again, not deigning to give him a response.
“And that. That haughty little sniff is extremely fucking annoying…”
I really liked Grace and Logan. Grace with her soft snarky wit and strong sense of self. She escaped her abusive family years ago and has made a life for herself with the help of some close friends. Watching her learn to trust Logan intimately was delightful, especially after he put a roadblock in their way only to discover he screwed up. MEN! Luckily for him he has an ace in the hole-namely his sister and her friends. Logan delights and confounds with his blatant sexuality and obnoxious charm, making the chemistry between them burn throughout the story. Young does a great job of facilitating the romance amongst the backdrop of their personal issues.
“I know good and bad, Logan, trust me. And deep down you do too. And you know you’re a good man. You know it. And I’m not going to tell you any different.”
Emotionally the overall tone is rather lightweight. A bit more formulaic than usual for Young, this engaging romance contemporary can be read alone though it is part of a series. A delightful journey of love and second chances. The fast steady pacing coupled with the slow burning romance is perfect for the overall tone of the story and subject matters at hand. Young’s witty dialogue and dynamic characterization only adds to the over all appeal.
“The horror. How will you ever get your next booty call?”
The main conflict blends well with the subplots. Young injects tongue in cheek humor to help offset the seriousness of the subject matter. Young slowly peels the lid back on Grace and Logan’s problems and begins to systematically and realistically address them using some well placed secondary characters. Logan learns to let go of his fear and guilt over what happened in the past, accepting he paid the price and can move on. Grace learns that she is worthy in all aspects of her life and that sometimes letting go completely is the best way to move forward.
The ending is a bit serendipity in that Logan and Grace both receive the ‘out’ they need to close the book on their respective pasts. It ends rather abruptly; shifting straight into a brief epilogue that gives us small peeks into the lives all the past couples; gifting us with a fond farewell. While I’m sad to see this series end, I’m sure this will not be the last we see of Samantha Young and her wonderful imagination.
Favorite Quote: “I could stay like this all night. Breathing in your scent, never leaving your body.”
Addison Peacock has carried a torch for her college fiance for five years. When he leaves after graduation, promising to return, she is forced to stay due to her father’s illness. Now he’s back-only he’s married and she doesn’t find out till after they slept together. Shattered by his deceit and duplicity, Addison sees hope on the horizon in the fine, fine form of her new next door neighbor.
Damian Walker has his own problems. A car accident destroyed his sports career and took something very precious from him. Damian knows what it takes to get your life back on track and while he’d love to help Addison, he doesn’t have the inclination to be anyone’s rebound. If Addison wants a one night stand, she’s looking at the wrong man.
As Addison and Damian get to know one another better, the future starts to look brighter, but until Addison can let go of her past, all these two can ever be in next door neighbors.
Right Next Door looked in the beginning to be a lighthearted friends to lovers romance about a young woman who discovers the prince charming she waited years for is really a toad and looks to her neighbor for some sexual healing. Only it develops into being far more as we get to know the protagonists at the heart of it-Addison Peacock and Damian Walker. Love, loss, hope, and redemption all swirl together as our protagonists meet and begin their journey. The past plays heavily on the present; foreshadowing their actions and the emotional base on which they react. Both are damaged but Damian has already had ample time to move forward from his tragedy while Addison is just starting the recovery process.
“From here forward I’m going to be like the contestants from American Ninja Warrior-badass, unstoppable, and you better not mess with me because I’m not taking anyone’s shite.”
Their first meeting is like a nuclear explosion going off. Heavy flirting and instant white-hot attraction leaves them both a little stunned. Their chemistry is perfect…only they are not at the right stages on their lives to be together. Damian is looking for forever and Addison is looking for right now. Additional issues in their lives leaves them both weary of emotional intimacy and watching them get from point A to point B is a bittersweet mixture of lust, humor, misunderstandings, and some hot sticky dirty talk.
“I can’t believe you did that behind me.” “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to shoot my shite all over you like that. It was a lackluster attempt at birth control.” “What’s so funny?” “I was only upset I didn’t get to watch you touch yourself. Next time, do that when I’m looking.”
Humor and sorrow fill the pages as Damian and Addison slowly, almost reluctantly, build a relationship from friends to lovers. I wasn’t sure I would like Addison at first. She was pretty passive aggressive concerning her ex boyfriend and tended to demand a lot from Damian without giving as much in return. She also pulls a stunt towards the end that left me questioning her rationale. Despite this, it’s very easy to see why Addison is the way she is. She is caught in a whirlwind as she struggles to define who she is and where she is going after she put her heart and life on hold waiting for the man she loved to return. She never really moved on from that point in her life and deep inside she knew she has to. Addison grows monumentally throughout the story; learns to understand that love is a gift that can bring you pain and joy without destroying you in the process. She also learns to love herself.
“I need to focus on me, as selfish as that is.”
Damian I loved. While he too has some secrets and heavy personal issues he was dealing with, he had no problems being honest with himself and with Addison. He saw her and KNEW she was the one for him and is willing to wait until she realises it too. He had already been down that road of one night stands and meaningless relationships. He wants marriage, the white picketed fence, and 2.5 kids.
“My life is complicated, I don’t do casual, and I don’t play games. I won’t be giving myself away piece by piece. When I find the right woman, it’s going to be all or nothing.”
This is not to say he’s a saint because he’s not. He has his guy “moments” that only serves to push Addison away more than draw her close. Luckily for her and us, Damian is a fast learner and both are equally adept at saying they are sorry.
Pryor does an impressive job of wrangling the main conflict while pushing additional subplots into the storyline. A complex array building that tugs at your heartstrings as readers follow the path set out for them. A well-developed cast of secondary characters further the agendas set out, giving us the information our protagonist can’t or won’t give. Pryor doesn’t pull any punches and makes both Addison and Damian work towards their individual goals. The pivotal moment hurts, I won’t lie, but we are gifted with an ending that more than left this reader happy and comfortable with Addison’s and Damian’s future.
The first in a spin off of Vale’s The Heroes of the Dixie Wardens MC series bring us the boys of the Kilgore Swat Team and tRomance Suspense RATING: C+
The first in a spin off of Vale’s The Heroes of the Dixie Wardens MC series bring us the boys of the Kilgore Swat Team and the women who bring them to their knees. Fans will enjoy seeing Tru’s sister, Reese, and Bailey’s brother, Luke, front and center in a romance suspense that pushes some boundaries reality wise but brings it home with the humor, dominant alpha men, and sensuality that Vale is known for. Reese and Luke are both in Kilgore healing from broken hearts. A chance meeting opens the door to a new life for the both of them if only their respective exes would move on already. Erotic sexual scenes blends well with the storyline as Vale builds the romance. Plenty of action and suspense round out the extremely convoluted conflict which I admit confused me. There was too many plot twists to keep up and by the end I was a little shell shocked. Regardless, Vale continues to entertain me with her strong heroines and heroes who above and beyond for the people they love. ...more
If’s He’s Noble is the seventh installment of Ms. Howell’s ambitious Wherlocke series. An entertaining and somewhat dark series that uses love, humor,If’s He’s Noble is the seventh installment of Ms. Howell’s ambitious Wherlocke series. An entertaining and somewhat dark series that uses love, humor, heroism, revenge, and a wee bit of the supernatural to guide our hero and heroine past adversity and into true love. Action and suspense go hand in hand as two souls come together to stop a mad woman from further destroying a family’s life. This can be read as a stand alone and you do not have to read the others in order to appreciate this story, though previous heroes and heroines drift in and out of the story at random intervals.
Though this series is normally dark in terms of conflict and characterization, this particular installment is lighter than the others I’ve read. I wish I could say this story blew me away me, but I cannot. An interesting premise that never seems to quite gain a strong foothold. The best I can say is that it is vaguely amusing. The protagonists are nice. The plots and subplots are slow to produce and quite predictable. The resolution is understated and anti climatic. Even the villain, who is said to be insane, comes off more ridiculous than scary. There is no sense of adventure within the plot as one would suspect from this series; only mild intrigue. No real anticipation or excitement. I knew from the beginning what the end would be.
Our main protagonists, Lady Primrose Wootten and Sir Bened Vaughn are calm, rational, good-natured souls with a quiet dry wit about them. They meet by chance, with Primrose lost in the woods trying to find her spectacles and horse. She is on her way to find her brother as her father, the Baron has passed away, and her aunt and uncle want to marry her off to an old man in order to gain her inheritance. Bened is a bodyguard, hired to protect the nobility’s heirs. He has just finished up a job in which he is awarded a title and an estate. He meets up with Primrose in the woods on his way to his estate and after hearing her tale of woo has decided he is honor bound to help her. His attraction to her is just a bonus. All very amicable. And that pretty much sums up the entire tale. Amicable. I found neither of them were well rounded or particularly deep. Howell uses more than half the book to build their romance while building up the conflict alongside. Any conflicts, either personal or plotwise, were resolved quickly with little fuss.
Their attraction to one another is well documented and that was part of my issues with the book as a whole. Howell writes very well but the emotions didn’t transcribe the written word. We spend more time being told every thought, emotion, etc…then feeling what has happened. Their chemistry is more like two old friends who become lovers then a passionate new affair. It’s all very comfortable. Each alludes to it with the proper listing of pros and cons of entering into a relationship with one another. Everything about them and the situation as a whole is so well-mannered and civilised.
It’s only when the other characters come into play does the excitement levels pick up. The Whitlockes and Vaughns are a rambunctious group whose gifts and amusing eccentricities offer a respite from the overall blandness. They are a large and unusual family and Howell continues to expand on the two families with each new book. The inclusion of the supernatural is just as potent as always but in here seems to stay in the background, adding to the characters natural inclines without being used as a catchall to save the day. Primrose’s brother Simone had some backbone to him that proved interesting and I enjoyed meeting Primrose’s Uncle Gregory and his partner Frederick. Howell adds a bit of spice to the series by introducing this couple and their relationship.
Overall this was not my favorite in this series. I expected the usual shock and awe and instead felt barely felt a tinge. Regardless, I look forward to the next in the series, if only to see if this one was an anomaly.