Favorite Quote: “This woman could be my downfall. Could make me forget who I am. All I am.”
Raya Rivers came to Hux looking for sex. Hot, filthy, erotic sex with no commitment or emotional involvement. She has recently suffered an emotional blow and just wants to taken high up on the mountain then left alone. And who better than the club’s resident commitment-phobe?
Drew Davis is a forty plus workaholic who is quite content being unattached. As a single dad, he enjoys spending time with his daughter, his friends, and at Hux, an all inclusive sex club. When Drew is notified that someone at Hux has requested his particular skills- he is well known for his chains and cold, detached attitude- he goes in expecting a pleasant interlude and is shocked by the force of his connection to a woman he’s never seen before and probably never will again.
The more time they spend together, the harder they both fall, but neither were looking for love or happily ever after. When Drew’s fears get the best of him, Drew will have to learn to trust again or lose Raya forever.
All I Am will seduce and delight fans of Malpas’ This Man series, especially those who love any mention of Jessie Ward. This short full bodied novella gives readers an emotional and heartfelt erotic romance when cupid’s arrow hits one man when he least expects it. Told entirely from the male perspective, we are given an intimate look into Drew’s life and thoughts. This single dad is very private and selective about who he allows into his life and therefore his daughter’s, Georgia. After the stunt his baby mama pulled, Drew’s trust in women is at an all-time low.
'I don’t trust women.'
Meeting Raya Rivers is a blow Drew never saw coming. The chemistry between them left this reader’s Kindle smoking as their first club scene sets the stage for more to come. Intense sexual tension and kinky playtime keep you on edge as Drew fights his feelings for Raya and what she represents.
'I can’t think past simply getting her naked. Putting my hands on her skin. My lips on hers. […] A need in me, a desperation I’ve never experienced before, robs my mind of rational thought.'
Plenty of humor comes in the form of Sam and Jessie, Drews two best friends, and Drew’s little girl. As Drew is the only single one left, he’s had a front-row seat to Sam and Jessie’s relationship dramas for years and now get to benefit from their collective wisdom. And what wisdom it is. *laughs out loud* I love the easy and obviously close friendship they share. These three would do anything for each other and it shows.
“There’s not a chance in hell we’re getting through there.”
“You just need to be creative.” Sam produces two passports, a pair of boarding passes held between the pages.
I balk at him horrified. “Where the hell did you get them?”
“I borrowed them.” He shrugged like he hadn’t just committed a crime. […] “Don’t worry, I’ll give them back.”
Drew’s relationship with his daughter is adorable and I love how he thinks of her first and foremost before committing to anything. He really needs to do something about his baby mama. *nods head knowingly* She makes crazy look sane.
The ending is a dramatic affair that requires Drew to be one hundred percent honest with Raya and lay his heart out on his sleeve without knowing if it will be enough for her.
“You did something to me that’s never happened before, and it scared me. […] I should have had has more faith in you. In us. “
My only issues with this story were I do wish the ending hadn’t been so rushed or Georgia used so obviously as a plot device. Regardless, All I Am was an enjoyable visit back into Malpas’ This Man series.
An interesting tidbit: I believe we meet the heroine of Malpas’ next full length novel-The Forbidden– in here. Malpas has firmly said this is NOT a spin-off of this series so we shall see. I’m excited to read it and will post my review closer to the release date (August 8th)
Sight Unseen is a compilation of five romance novellas; each written by a well-known author. The catch is none of them signed their name to their story. Each author was given the chance to write out of their comfort zone, freeing themselves and the readers from any preconceived notions or expectations. Each story is approximately 8 chapters long and deals with a variety of topics. As a fan of each author, I found myself paying far more attention than normal to see if I could detect who wrote what.
Lost That Feeling Grade: B-
Alma is an amnesic witch who spelled her memory loss after she was captured and sent to prison during a failed rebellion against the King. Months later, she is being rescued by her supposed partners in the rebellion. Now she has to figure out who they are, who she is, and why she sought to erase her memories in the first place.
Lost That Feeling is a well plotted fantasy with an interesting use of amnesia in both the development of the heroine and the romance. Engaging narrative and a smooth pace keeps the reader hooked though the story ends abruptly and the romance is more an element and doesn’t even make itself known till the very end.
“Never cast on yourself…you’ll never see yourself clearly.”
A Clear View of You Grade C+
Kate Marsh is trying to earn money towards her Ph.D. working as a psychic even though she is a firm disbeliever of anything magical or the supernatural. A man seeking her services offers her $50,000 to help him locate an item that has passed into her mother’s hands; a well-known mystical being. Unfortunately, Kate is on the outs with her mother and believes her to be nothing more than a charlatan and a cult leader. As Kate helps North reclaim his item and begins to work through her animosity towards magic and her mother, she learns a thing or two about the world and her place in it.
A Clean View of You is an interesting urban fantasy story that follows a young woman through a sort of coming age that deals with her personal growth and discovery. Strong and amusing character driven dialogue goes far in setting up the story and romance though I personally felt the story was too cluttered for such a short time span. The reluctant romance builds slow and ends more on a promise than an actual done deal.
“Don’t hate the player…hate the game.”
Free Grade: B
Wren Masters loves her hometown and her father but when it becomes clear her father’s motorcycle club is engaging in illegal activities, she has to decide if she will turn the other cheek or turn them in. Luckily, the club’s accountant, Brad, steps in to help her with her decision and its consequences.
Free was my favorite of this collection. A modern romance contemporary that focuses on a tough young woman who feels her entire whole world is limited to the small town she lives and the choices she has to make when her life implodes. An impressive full bodied story with a well plotted backstory and yummy tension fuel romance. I like that the author chose to take us all the way to the end and leave us secure in Wren and Bead’s future.
Chariot of Desire Grade: C-
The 70s were a time of sex, drugs, and rock and roll but one popular band hits a roadblock when their lead singer decides to clean up his act by joining a religious cult that forbids sex, drugs, and singing about them. Can the band survive the change or is it time to go their separate ways?
Chariot of Desire was the weakest of the anthology for me. Set in the 80’s, this contemporary shows us a selfish rock star whose wake up call and subsequent reply places unfair demands on the other two members of his band. The head hopping and time jumping was abrupt and the story drifts along seemingly unsure the exact direction the author was trying to go. The romance was non-existent and the story ends on an ambiguous note.
“I miss the seventies.”
The Heart is a Universe Grade: B
Vitalis, the Chosen One, has known her whole life she was destined to sacrifice herself to save her planet but as she gets closer to the date of her death, the more she questions the whole ritual and the reasons behind it. A marriage proposal from the planet’s most eligible ruler, Eleian, interrupts her escape plan and creates even more questions. Most importantly…why would a man who could have anyone, marry a woman who only has 16 days to live?
The Heart is a Universe is pure sci-fi fantasy that draws freely from mythology to create an layered and complex world. The limited time frame doesn’t distract or shackle the author; the evolution of Vitalis and Eleian’s romance is sexy and bittersweet in it’s development and blends perfectly with the external conflict. A few unexpected twists amp up the tension as we count down towards D-day with this couple. The ending was not what I expected and left me with a question or two but overall an interesting conclusion.
“I’m not looking for a worshipper.” “I do not recall saying that I planned to worship you, my lady. But I am willing when we are alone and unclothed. “
Though I have my suspicions, I was unable to determine without a doubt who wrote what which really got me thinking. How much more comfortable and accepting are we of some stories because we know who wrote them and how does that translate into our reviews?
Engaging and imaginative, this collection delivers on its objective though there was a sense of disconnect to a couple of the stories. Some leaned more towards their sub-genre then to romance, ending far too soon for the romance to be considered more than just an element to enhance the story. Regardless, this fast, quick, and easy read certainly entertains.
Favorite Quote: “I’m not saying you don’t have the God-given right to be neurotic, but must you exploit that privilege?”
Riley Porter, a raven shifter, has found a home for herself and more importantly for her kids with the Phoenix Wolf Pack. Though she knows not everyone is thrilled with her being there, she never expected to wake up in bed after an impromptu party and copious amounts of tequila with her most vocal dissenter…the very sexy Tao Lukas.
Tao doesn’t like change and nor many people. As the head enforcer for the Phoenix Pack, his job is to sniff out danger before it happens and his nose is saying Riley isn’t being completely honest about why she left her pack. But the sexual tension that has been building between them has become impossible to ignore and after Tao gets a taste of Riley, he admits his feelings for her are deeper than just a one time fling.
Riley agrees to give their attraction a chance and see where it leads, even inviting Tao to come with her to her uncles’ anniversary party. When Riley’s uncle is shot, her secrets begin to come to light, putting her and the pack in danger. As Tao works to discover who wants to harm Riley and the pack, he realizes that he will do whatever it takes to keep his family and his mate safe.
Though this is the 6th book in a well-established series, the storyline is inclusive enough to stand on its own. Enemies to lovers relationships are always fun to watch unfold and this couple certain provides plenty of entertainment-vocally and sexually. I’m glad Wright decided to go with Riley’s story next. I’ve been waiting to know more about her since first meeting her during Savage Urges. Riley is a raven shifter who left her flock for reasons and ends up in the Phoenix Pack by way of Makenna Wray. Strong, intelligent, loyal, and delightfully snarky, Riley fits in perfectly with this pack with her playful ways and deadly skills. Her two kids-Dexter and Savannah-are quite funny with their little quirks and habits.
Though I wasn’t too keen on Tao at first, he’s been rather quiet in the background, I soon realized he was a perfect match for Riley. A grumpy dominant through and through, he has a way of cutting through the artifice and telling you exactly how it feels. A bit rude and crude at times, he does what he wants when he wants with one hundred percent focus and precision. Riley infuriates him, annoys him, confounds him, and tempts him like no other. He gives her plenty of room to grow but refuses to allow her to shut him out like she does the others.
I love that Wright’s PNRs are so modern, sexy, and fun. There aren’t any of the strict and obviously misogynistic rules in here regarding females, different species fraternization, or mating that you find in some of the other shifter stories. The males and females are equals in every way and while the males may devolve into some alpha melodramatic moments when they find the one they want to be with, there are lines they know they can’t cross and still live to talk about it. The females in here aren’t pushovers and don’t put up with anyone’s crap.
“Hit me,” Tao repeated, sensing just how on edge she was. “You’re gonna snap if you don’t get it all out of you. Don’t worry; I can take a punch from an itty-bitty thing like-motherfucker!”
Two intriguing storylines intertwine with the romance, using Riley’s past and an external source to expand the character base and strengthen what is already in play arc wise. I was a little shocked at how easily Riley and Tao fall into a relationship after we are told of Tao’s antagonism towards Riley. Riley has some misgivings when they wake up in bed together but Tao basically just tells her to deal and she does. The fiery chemistry between them does help to create a more believable venture. Their attraction for one another is seen and felt in every scene they appear in; encouraged by some seriously steamy and bold love scenes. I love a couple who has fun in and out of bed and this couple definitely does.
“I’m thinking about f*cking your mouth, to be exact.”
“Of course you are,” she said drily. “You’re a boy. Boys are delusional.”
He smiled. “You’re not going to let me feel what it’s like to slide my cock in your mouth? That doesn’t seem fair. I go down on you all the time.”
“Oh, I won’t deny you eat p*ssy like a champ.”
He laughed. “Like a champ?”
“Totally. But you know, over seventy percent of erectile dysfunction cases are caused by having too many blow jobs.”
“They are not.”
“They could be.”
I did have some issues. The two plotlines were weak and not as developed as some seen in previous installments. There were just too many questions left unanswered and it was hard to get involved with either one as most of the investigations were done off screen. I wish we had been given a bit more information and about the Raven shifters. Wright stayed rather vague about them as a whole. There were also some sexual aspects that were not sexy. Scooping out cream is not a sexy phrase or act. If you can scoop anything out of your vagina, you need medical treatment. Also, anal sex without lube is not sexy. Telling someone they’ll enjoy it and not to worry, is not sexy or consent. I need to hear/read the words. Lastly, I’m tired of Greta. Her time spent as the series antagonist has gone from mildly amusing to irritating. I’m not a fan of letting elders verbally abuse the people around them.
The ending comes at us hard and fast as the pack is attacked on multiple fronts and Tao and Riley have to fight to the death to protect the pack and each other. All in all, Wright continues to entertain with this series and despite my issues, I’ll still recommend these as enjoyable fast reads with sexy and snarky heroes and heroines who kick ass and always willing to cross the line for those they love.
Favorite Quote: “…I sort of felt like I was working less with a detective, and more with an undercover superhero or something. The dark, gritty, complete asshole kind of superhero. “
Detective Andreas Ruffner is a veteran cop whose unorthodox methods and suspicious behavior has garnered him a reputation in the department. A reputation that has IA breathing down his neck, looking for anything to bring him down. Having already gone through more partners than you can shake a stick at, he is not surprised when his Captain tells him he has a new victim lined up.
I was so sick and tired of Captain Hamilton assigning me partners under the guise of mentorship, making my investigations more efficient or whatever other excuse he came up with on any given day.
Newly minted Detective Darren Corliss comes from law enforcement family from his brother-a former DA, to his stepfather a newly retired police commissioner. Fresh off the street, being approached by IA to be their informant puts him on edge; especially after his first day of work with his new partner ends with a questionable bust.
“I answered his questions already. Now I want you to answer mine.”
Corliss and Ruffner soon find a middle ground and Ruffner lets Corliss in on his current assignment. As Corliss and Ruffner investigate a series of deaths that all seem to lead back to their case, a tense and unwelcome sexual attraction begins to bloom between them. Can Corliss and Ruffner keep things professional between them? Or will the heat between them get a little too hot to contain?
I picked up Risky Business after I read the blurb for book two and wanted to read it. I’m a sucker for police dramas; especially when there is an unwanted attraction and questionable behavior. Risky Business has all that and more. A strong police procedural with tantalizing hints of mystery, intrigue, and romance. Witt and Z. choosing to make the romance a pleasant side feature gives readers more time to appreciate the intricate nature of the storyline and the characters themselves. The first half starts out slow as our boys get to know one another but once they find their groove, the pacing and energy picks up considerably.
Witt and Z do an excellent job of characterizing Ruffner and Corliss, personally and professionally. Ruffner is an older cop; mid-40s, bi-sexual, currently single and the father to a passel of kids ranging from ages 24 to 4. He has been accused of being dirty and using drugs. A shite-stirrer of epic proportions, Ruffner has bad boy written all over him. Corliss is the direct opposite. In his 20s, gay, clean cut, and single, he is just starting to make his mark in the police department. Extremely close to his family. A bit of a rule follower; while he’s not one to tattle, he won’t hesitate to ask questions and demand answers. A bit impulsive at times, Corliss’s heart is in the right place. Though you definitely get the “good cop/bad cop” vibe from this setup…this is a partnership and Corliss makes sure Ruffner understands that.
“If we are going to be partners, we might as well be on a first name basis…”
Engaging dialogue, a personable auxiliary cast, and the dual narrative take readers directly into the heart of the story. I enjoyed getting down and dirty with the investigation and the sexual heat generated by these men only adds to its edgy appeal. Ruffner suspects almost everyone around him and plays things pretty close to the vest. Taking down a crime syndicate isn’t easy, especially when it appears to have its tentacles in every aspect of the city’s structure from the lowest street dealer to the highest political offices. Things aren’t what they seem though and the Machiavellian style plotting is genius. The highs and lows keep you firmly in its grip. A series of secondary plotlines spread out from the main arc to assure us this isn’t the last we have seen of this couple.
Though the romance isn’t a main building block of the story, it certainly adds a spiciness to the mix. I enjoyed the slow steady burn of Ruffner and Corliss’s attraction to one another. I was worried the May/December aspect of their age would become an issue but it doesn’t. They are both intelligent, hardworking adults and the organic nature of the situation made me far more comfortable with this relationship evolving.
We had rocketed right past hot and heavy into this hospital bed ain’t gonna survive what we’re about to do.
The ending leaves us comfortable with both Corliss and Ruffner’s professional and personal relationship. The HFN seems solid and mystery fans will love trying to solve this one before Ruffner and Corliss do.
A little after hours delight becomes much more when two antagonistic colleagues embark on a sensual erotic journey that leads to them both opening upA little after hours delight becomes much more when two antagonistic colleagues embark on a sensual erotic journey that leads to them both opening up and dealing with their pasts in order to have a future together. Emotionally bittersweet with engaging dialogue and strong characterization, Loren once again writes an erotic romance that captures the heart and soul of the trope....more
Enjoyable fast read. A strong romance is paired rather a rather weak conflict. I love the characters and their dialogue. So much humor and smexy times Enjoyable fast read. A strong romance is paired rather a rather weak conflict. I love the characters and their dialogue. So much humor and smexy times. My one wish is for Vale to either commit to the subplots or just leave them out. She often has multiple going in the story and gives just enough to infer they have a specific purpose to the story. Then they either fade to nothing or are resolved with no real intent. ...more
Favorite Quote: “You can’t treat girlfriends like props, brother. Not even fake girlfriends.”
Meet Oakley Ford.
Nineteen-year-old heartthrob and celebrity pop star Oakley Ford is ready to make the leap to a serious musician but his antics on and off the stage has made him persona non grata among record producers. He wants the very best to produce his next album but unless he cleans up his act, it’s a no go. His manager decides what Oakley needs is an image overhaul and the first step is finding him a noncelebrity, all-American girlfriend.
Meet Vaughn Bennett.
Vaughn is a seventeen-year-old waitress who is helping to raise her two younger siblings with her older sister Paisley. She graduated high school early and put off college to help out when their parents were killed in a car accident. When she is first approached to pose as Oakley’s faux girlfriend, she says no. That is until she finds out the obscene amount of money they will pay her. Money that will take the financial burden off Paisley and set up her brothers’ college funds. Of course, she will have to get rid of her own boyfriend and learn to hide her dislike of Oakley. It’s only for a year and it’s not like they are going to fall in love for real.
From their first meeting, Oakley and Vaughn lock horns and butt heads. As their prickly animosity grows into a heady attraction, Oakley and Vaughn will discover a lot about themselves and each other.
Right before I started When It’s Real, I read an article about Harry Styles and how his new supposed girlfriend (food blogger Tess Ward) was being ripped to shreds by 1D fans. I remember thinking what the hell is wrong with these people? Why would they set out to make this person feel terrible and how hard it must be for her to read the awful things they are saying. Watt addresses this behavior and young celebrities in general and makes you wonder how much of what we see and hear is real and how much isn’t.
“Are you talking about April Showers? That was fake? Oh man, I believed in ShOak. My childhood dreams are crushed.”
When It’s Real is a standalone YA romance contemporary that offers up a cute and amusing story of self-discovery and growth when a teenage celebrity falls for a young woman who isn’t impressed by him or his fame. It had a bit of a Pride and Prejudice vibe to it which I enjoyed. Watt takes an antagonistic relationship and slowly turns it into something wonderfully real between our protagonists. They focus on love, loss, and choices; showing us two teenagers who were forced into adulthood and the different ways they’ve dealt with it.
I’ve drunk, smoked, ingested and experienced nearly everything the world has to offer in the past five years. Am I already the washed up pop star before I hit my twenties?
The story is pretty straight forward. The trope is predictable though the journey is entertaining. Heavily character driven, the lack of drama and ridiculous antics give us real people with real issues. They are easy to relate to. Their joys, fears, wants, and needs are laid bare and we are allowed to experience with them the everyday growing pains of life. Told in dual narrative, the execution flows smoothly and the dialogue is appealing. We are never left to guess at our protagonists’ emotions and thoughts. They are refreshingly honest with one another and themselves.
“You realise there are millions of girls out there who would kill to be sitting beside me right now?”
“Yeah? Then why are you paying me to do it?”
I enjoyed meeting Vaughn and Oakley. Both are intelligent, hard working, snarky teenagers who act like teenagers. Vaughn has a little bit of a drama queen in her that manifests during stress while Oakley just tends to act out when upset. Their chemistry builds slowly, fueling the romance and we get to enjoy the show. Watt doesn’t use tired cliches or insta love to facilitate this romance. Their evolution from enemies to friends to lovers is slow and steady, requiring this couple to spend time together getting past their respective negative first impressions to discover their connection.
“You’re the one person in my life who wants nothing but me and it’s terrifying and awesome at the same time. Don’t ever leave me.”
Solid secondary characters round out the story. Vaughn’s family is an integral part of the story, offering a lifeline to Oakley and Vaughn to cling to in their quest to find common ground. Oakley’s staff maintain a solid presence and reveal all how invasive and intrusive. We have the users, abusers and jealous exes to add a little spice to the story. An enjoyable secondary romance blossoms behind the scenes and after the one and only real bout of over the top melodrama, we are left with a satisfactory HFN.
I will admit I did have a couple of issues I couldn’t overlook. Vaughn’s boyfriend was a glaring plot device and I admit I was shocked he wasn’t utilized more to create conflict. I also had an issue with Vaughn and her drunken misstep. Her actions were out of character, her explanation was weak, and Oakley’s instant acceptance was odd. It felt very out of place in the storyline.
While When It’s Real isn’t a dramatic or high energy ride, it is an enjoyable lightweight read that will appeal to those who prefer more a sweeter laid back romance....more
The first in Weatherspoon’s erotic Beards and Bondage series introduces readers to a sexy dominate recluse who embarks on a relationship with the younThe first in Weatherspoon’s erotic Beards and Bondage series introduces readers to a sexy dominate recluse who embarks on a relationship with the young woman he saved after she and her brother were attacked on a trip. The intense erotic interludes blend well with this couple’s eager exploration of the unknown and their unconscious need for understanding and forgiveness. Humorous and slightly awkward dialogue only adds to this romance’s appeal....more
**spoiler alert** Originally posted at SmexyBooks-
Favorite Quote: “Believe me when I say that I have desired you since that day you upbraided me as a**spoiler alert** Originally posted at SmexyBooks-
Favorite Quote: “Believe me when I say that I have desired you since that day you upbraided me as a trespasser. It is convenient that you desire me too.
Adam Penrose, Duke of Stratton, has arrived back in England on a mission. He is determined to discover the reasons behind his father’s suicide. With his two best friends, fellow members of the Society of Decadent Dukes, he begins to pick through the rumors and innuendos, putting together a story that smacks of betrayal, deception, and jealousy. He finds his plans derailed when his eye and heart is captured by a gorgeous woman…who just happens to be the daughter of the family he suspects helped to destroy his.
Lady Clara Cheswick is an independently wealthy daughter of an Earl. She has no need for marriage or the trappings that come with it, especially to a man who may be looking for vengeance against her family. Unsure of Adam’s true intentions, she wonders if his desire to marry her is due to his thirst for justice. Chloe decides to do a little investigating of her own soon discovers nothing beats the thrill of a mystery and being courted by the most dangerous man in London.
The Most Dangerous Duke in London is the first in a new trilogy by Madeline Hunter. Entitled the Decedent Dukes Society, Hunter follows three best friends as they maneuver their way through society and marriage-minded mamas in search of justice. Written in a traditional and appealing form, a spicy romance balances well with an intriguing mystery, encouraged by Hunter’s subtle humor and biting wit. A firm pacing, dynamic dialogue, and an informative yet unburdened setup place the reader gently into the know with no unnecessary filler.
Adam Penrose has returned to England after a lengthy stay in France with a deadly reputation and a need for revenge. He and his mother fled there after his father’s death to escape rumors of treason. Believing the rumors were started by the last Earl of Marwood, Adam is surprised when the Dowager Duchess of Marwood contacts him about a truce, proposing an alliance through marriage. Introduced to the youngest sister as this potencial mate, it’s an energetic meet cute with the older sister, Clara, that begins a humorous and mildly antagonist game of cat and mouse as our hero tries to discover the reason behind their family feuding and nurture the attraction between them.
“My sister is both lovely and bright. She would make a splendid duchess, of course, only not for you. I am relieved you lacked decisiveness.”
“Do not blame me for the delay in knowing my mind on the matter. There I was, making my decision about a lovely dove, when a black crow flew by and distracted me.”
Crow? Why, the—
“Then the crow flapped her wings in my face and turned her tail to fly away.” He walked over until he loomed above her. “I never stand down from a challenge, Lady Clara.”
Adam instigates himself into Clara’s life rather boldly, showing up unexpectedly with little gifts and pushing for dates. The easy and witty banter between them amuses to no end Clara finds herself attacked from all sides when her family keeps congratulating her on her brilliant catch and Adam informs her they are going to marry.
Her hackney coach waited behind the duke’s carriage.
He gazed hard at that hackney. “Why are you not using the family’s equipage?”
“I chose not to.” She descended the stone steps and aimed for her coach.
“You are going to a secret assignation, I assume. One that you prefer the family servants not know about. There is no other explanation for using a hackney instead of a family carriage.”
She truly wanted to hit him with her package for saying that within hearing of the footman waiting to hand her into the coach. She settled herself on the seat while the footman closed the door. The duke rested his forearm on the window’s edge and waited while the servant walked away.
“I will not demand an explanation now,” he said. “However, if you are going to meet a man, that liaison must end immediately, now that we are engaged.”
She stuck her face to the window. “We. Are. Not. Engaged.”
The chemistry that ignited at their first meeting only continues to gather fuel and burn brighter with each new interaction as Clara begins to fall for his charms. Though she clings firmly to her intentions of not marrying him. She has very good reasons for wanting to maintain her independence. She publishes a monthly news journal and desires to keep her inheritance in her hands. She also witnessed how her father treated her stepmother, showing her that marriage reduces women to nothing more than a child and servant in their own home.
I decided I would not live like that if I had the choice. And I did have the choice. Of all the privileges of my station, that has been the greatest one.
Adam and Clara were a delightful couple to engage with. Intelligent, witty, and formattable, both are of the same social standing so the normal conflicts we might see are here are nonexistent. No social or economic issues to resolve. No dark or sordid baggage to unpack. Humorous dialogue and ripe sexual tension keep the storyline and the romance flowing slowly forward. I liked the strength in Clara. While she abides by societies rules in public, she refuses to be bulldozed by anyone.
The romance is a slow burn regardless of the hero’s assumption of marriage. He encourages Clara’s sexual education, not in order to compromise or force her hand, but to show her all the delicious delights that can be found in the bedroom…and beyond.
“Do you want me to kiss you?” he asked.
“Of course not. You are the last man I want kissing me, I assure you.” She refused to look at him and continued trying to pull away.
“That is not true. Let us be honest with each other in this if nothing else.” His head dipped and his lips hovered over hers.
Her breath caught. Heavens, but he was beautiful. And exciting. Even that darkness seduced. Thrills kept spiraling through her, begging to have excuses to become something more powerful.
“Part of the fun is the anticipation,” he said quietly, imprisoning her with his gaze. “Although there is always the danger of it building to a fever.” His lips brushed hers, ever so faintly, but enough to create a starburst of sensation.
It was a terrible tease. A provocative promise.
He released her and stepped back. She stood there speechless, and utterly defeated, shocked at how he had used her own words against her to imply they shared some sympathy on sensual matters.
As their assignations heat up, so does the mystery surrounding Adam’s father’s death. With Clara’s help, the secrets that shroud the feud are lifted and reveal a sad and sordid tale. Clara knows Adam’s affections aren’t altogether altruistic. She knows he seeks revenge and he seeks it against her family. Hunter does an excellent job of allowing her and Adam to see beyond their own wants to what their actions may do to the other.
…thinking about Clara kept interfering with the righteous anger he had carried back from France. Her blind loyalty to her father, seen again just this afternoon, mattered now, even if it had not at first. When he first decided to pursue her, it had been an impulse born of lust and revenge, an oblique way to prod old enemies by taking possession of that family’s most privileged and prized daughter. Now he envisioned her hurt if he discovered things that impugned the late earl.
Layering the intrigue and suspense, Hunter gives voice to the various individuals involved and the reasons behind their actions. While I was able to figure out the who and what… the why came as a surprise.
There were two scenes that bothered me. One was Adam coming into Clara’s bedroom without an invitation and staying even after he realized his mistake. The second was Clara’s grandmother implications that a woman’s desire smells like fish water. I have no idea why people say that. It’s gross and derogatory.
Regardless of those two mild irritations, Hunter continues to entertain with her latest historical romance and I look forward to reading more about these Decadent Dukes.
Favorite Quote: “One of these days you’re going to say my name, and you’re going to say please, and then you’re not going to be able to say anything at all.”
Awkward can’t even begin to describe this couple’s relationship. Anne Calhoun brings the heat when she reconnects Riva Henneman with the man she fell in love with seven years ago. Ian Hawthorne. The only problem is he was the undercover cop who busted her for selling drugs on the local college campus and then blackmailed her into becoming his CI.
Riva ends up leaving college after her arrest and now manages a farm to kitchen restaurant that teaches urban kids how to eat and cook healthier. She is shocked when Ian walks through her door. When she learns he has arrested one of her kids and wants to use him like he used her, she jumps in and offers to give Ian the bust of a lifetime. The top man behind the drug ring.
Ian Hawthorne knows what it’s like to have his dreams derailed. A former navy seal candidate sidelined by cancer, he is now a Lieutenant in the Lancaster PD and up for a promotion. The guilt he feels over his actions concerning Riva seven years ago rides him hard. He knows he strong armed her into being his CI and put her in danger in order to boost his own career. He also fell in love with her but knew the power dynamics were all wrong and he refused to lose his job over her.
She’d always been his, the power he had over her as close to owning another human being as possible, and therefore never his. Riva had never chosen him.
Now seven years later, he’s surprised to see her and even more shocked when he learns she’d held out on him. He agrees to her terms, only this time they will go undercover together. And when he gets what he needs, he will once again have to turn her loose and this time hope she comes back to him.
Turn Me Loose is the 6th book in Anne Calhoun’s Alpha Ops series and continues with the drug running/corrupt law enforcement subplot from book five-Going Deep. Each book can be read comfortably as a standalone though there is character and scene cross over from previous books. I found this one more balanced and emotionally tight then the last book. Well written with an intriguing suspenseful plotline and enlightening dialogue; it’s the main protagonists and their journey of growth and second chances that is the main theme of the story. Calhoun works her magic in creating two characters whose inability to act on their feelings for one another is more than a just stubbornness or a few simple issues to overcome. Calhoun interjects pieces of their past into the story, showing readers exactly what happened and where they stand now.
“Would it make you feel better if I crossed that line? Give you plausible deniability?”
Riva Henneman learned at an early age to never show fear and to do as her father bid her to do. When she was arrested and her father washed his hands of her, she handled it all on her own. A born protector, Riva sacrifices herself again in order to help one of her kids, Riva will have to go back under Ian’s thumb again which brings to the surface all the resentment and distrust she has harbored towards him since the arrest. Though she understood and agreed with the arrest, she freely admits she was breaking the law, she chafed at the leash he put on her and the subservient role she was forced to play.
He pointed, she walked. He insisted, she gave in. He judged, she swallowed her pride. Seven years ago he held all the power in his hand, because helping him was the only thing that stood between her and prison. She’d resented him with every cell in her body, and wanted him just as badly.
Ian Hawthorne was raised in a law abiding family. A police officer with a chip on his shoulder, he used what and who he had to as he made his way up the chain of command. Older and wiser, he is a mess of emotions when he and Riva connect again. He’s thrilled to see her again, their attraction rearing it’s head as if they had never parted, but angry she kept something this important from him. He feels betrayed though he knows deep down he’s reacting more from the heart than the head.
The lie of omission stung more fiercely than it should have, and not just because she withheld critical information about known illegal activities. She’s withheld a key piece of information about herself. […] He’d taken care of her and she’d lied to him.
The romance is deliciously slow-burning and brimming with angst and anger as Ian and Riva delightfully poke and jab at one another in attempts to hide their fear and longing. The chemistry smolders heavy as they each struggle to deal with the changes in their relationship. It’s a strong part of the storyline and complements the conflict It was very easy to get caught up in the emotional currents of these two lovers. Calhoun gives this couple plenty of time to work on their issues; attempting to heal and move on from their past relationship and dealing with the imperfect power balance that still exists. Snark tinged humor and lushly satisfying sexual scenes help to offset the razor sharp edge of tension riding this couple and give them a push when they got a little mired down in their thoughts.
“You have to call me Ian. Say my name.”
The only sounds in the apartment were the soft hum of the ventilation system and her heart pounding in her ears. Their strange, strained relationship was so intimate in so many ways, but she’d never used his first name. “Ian.”
Her head snapped up. “Ian.”
“Good. Now use it conversationally.”
“Fuck you, Ian.”
“Wow That sounds different when I use your name. Lieutenant Hawthorne has the right to coerce. Ian doesn’t.”
Though we aren’t inundated with a lot of action in terms of the main conflict, we already know who the villain is, Calhoun still ratchets up the tension and intrigue as Ian and Riva work to bring down a drug kingpin. One whose connections to Riva spell danger and possible death to more than just these two if Ian’s cover is blown. I enjoyed seeing some familiar faces from previous books and learning of some possibly new couple hookups in future books.
Once again Calhoun writes a romance that digs deep into your heart, creating a relationship between you and the couple, making the outcome personal. Turn Me Loose is a must read for those who love their romances sexy, dark, and uncertain.
Not bad for first in a series. A solid sexy PNR with an interesting world and storyline though I wish the world building and character development hadNot bad for first in a series. A solid sexy PNR with an interesting world and storyline though I wish the world building and character development had been stronger. Both stall at a certain point. Looking forward to the next in the series which looks to be about the hero's brother.
We met our hero, the genetically ill Alastor Vega, book one, He, along with various other leaders, all met in Ash Valley to broker a peace treGrade: B
We met our hero, the genetically ill Alastor Vega, book one, He, along with various other leaders, all met in Ash Valley to broker a peace treaty. The treaty was broken by Vega’s power hungry brother and now a reluctant and Alastair must muster forces and the strength to defeat his brother before he destroys them all. He receives some help from Dr. Sheyla Halek, a physician and feline shifter who follows him into battle to ensure he stay alive. As allies and enemies turn and battles rage Alaster and Sheyla grow closer and eventually succumb to the blazing hot chemistry that burns between them. Their relationship is doomed from the start unless they are willing to fight for what they want and need-each other.
I thoroughly enjoyed book one of this series-The Leopard King. A paranormal romance with a strong fantasy base, Aguirre introduced us to a world of shifters, politics, and magic. I was pleased to see the world building was increased and we learn more about the various races and their history. Flowing informative narrative, strong and concise plotlines, well-developed characters, witty dialogue and some surprising racy sex scenes. Seems our couple likes some kink in their connection. *wiggles eyebrows* Alaster and Shelya fit well together and Aguirre moves their romance at a comfortable speed with very little conflict. Action packed with pinches of suspense and intrigue, I am looking forward to book three-The Wolf Lord-blurb and release date to be announced....more
Favorite Quote: “Maybe I can still make a great life for Brenna and me, here.”
Twenty-four year old single mother Catherine Wright never wanted to be the focus of her hometown’s attention again. That proves impossible to avoid when she risks her life to save a man from a burning car only to discover he is Brett Madden, a famous pro hockey player. Now she has to worry about her past being rehashed again, this time within her daughter’s hearing.
Catherine manages to keep her identity a secret until a townie outs her and Brett show up on her doorstep, eager to thank her for saving his life. What starts out a grateful friendship begins to grow into something as the chemistry sparks between Catherine and Brett. But Catherine has already been burnt badly by someone’s promises and she doesn’t trust the attraction growing between her and Brett because what can someone as special as him see in a nobody like her?
I will admit Until It Fades surprised me. As a long time fan of K.A. Tucker’s, I was shocked by how lightweight and predictable this story was. Tucker’s usual stories tend to be darker in conflicts and characterization. Though our heroine has had a tough row to hoe, she has survived with only some minor scrapes and bruises with some help from some friends.
Catherine Wright has lived in the small town of Balsam all her life. An affair with her high school English teacher (part of the town’s founding family) when she was sixteen led to her ostracization by the town and a huge falling out with her parents. At age eighteen, she moves out, secures a job waitressing at a local truck stop and discovers she’s pregnant. Now twenty-four, Catherine still works at the same job and with some government help, she is raising her little one all on her own.
Tucker tells Catherine’s backstory in great detail and merges it in with the present, taking up a lengthy portion of the story. I liked Catherine. She is honest in everything that has happened and the part she played in it. She spends quite a lot of time examining her relationships with her parents, her mother in particular, her siblings, the town, her friends, and even her own daughter. We learn she finally understands that it was the teacher who was in the wrong and that while the town wasn’t kind to her as a teen, it has grown and changed, just as she has, and quite a few of the townsfolk didn’t blame her for what happened.
Organic humor and an engaging narrative keep the story moving along though the romance is VERY slow to build. Catherine doesn’t trust anyone including herself and keeps our hero at arm’s length for most of the book. While I appreciated the realism behind Catherine’s emotional and mental struggles with everything that has happened, I found Brett’s attraction to Catherine questionable. Tucker makes sure to announce on several occasions that Brett’s attraction is unaffected by gratitude but I don’t see how it wasn’t. They don’t spend much time together and I never felt they got to know one another beyond a singular level. I felt a large part of that problem was the fact that Tucker spends so much time developing and characterizing Catherine and her inner circle. she seems to skimp on everything else-Brett and the romance.
A vibrant and personable cast of secondary characters adds to the energy of this storyline. Catherine and her daughter Brenna are a dynamic duo and I love how strong Brenna’s role is in here. Misty and Keith are Catherine’s best friends and it shows when they come to her rescue when she needs them most even if she doesn’t think she needs help. Catherine’s parents have their come to Jesus moment and I enjoyed seeing Catherine and her mother grow from their child/adult relationship into one of equal standing. I really wish the teacher who ruined Catherine’s life would have played a bigger role especially with the twist we get towards the end.
The ending is one in which fairy tales are written. Brett sweeps Catherine off her feet and takes her Brenna to the castle she drew about in her sketch book and they live happily ever after.
While I liked Until It Fades, it wasn’t a deep, meaningful, or particularly memorable book. It was a sweet opposite attraction romance with a low-key romance and some play on class differences. The perfect beach book.
At the end of Lost Without You, we left Tommy and Beth on the run from Bates and Beth’s mother. Tommy knows they need a safe place to regroup and to explain things to Bates; especially when Beth’s mom goes on national television and claims Tommy kidnapped Beth. Beth has the perfect place for them to hide though once Tommy understands the significance of the place and it’s owner, he may never want to see her again.
“Rough was what I deserved from him. I needed him to punish me for the lies he didn’t know about yet.”
Where I Belong is the emotional conclusion to Tommy and Beth’s story and The Duet duology, though it is not the end of the arc. Remember, there are three more people who owe a debt to Bates for his help all those years ago. Tommy and Beth have reached a safe place and now it’s time for them to tell the truth to each other and themselves. We’ve already learned of Tommy’s horrific childhood in Lost Without You. In here, we learn Beth’s.
“You’re still that boy, waiting for your mom to come home, just like I’m still the girl waiting for my mom to hear me.”
Beth became Jada as a way to cope with the abuse from her mother and the horror she experienced at St. Judes that terrible night. Her mother, a famous child psychologist, used drugs and threats to keep Beth complacent and calm. When Beth bucked against her control and ran away, her mother had her arrested and sent to St. Judes. Afterward, Beth learned to hide and bide her time till she was old enough to leave without fear of arrest. Jada is tougher and edgier than Beth. She can handle anything thrown at her and allows ‘Beth’ the luxury of hiding and manipulating the truth in order to save her sanity.
“I was living on a wire that ran in a vicious circle. All at once.”
Focusing on the present, O’Keefe opens Beth and Tommy up with the skill and precision of a surgeon. We have played witness to their most painful confessions and now the fragile connection they have forged is threatened by more lies and omissions. Tommy and Beth’s journey broke my heart over and over though I admit to connecting easier with Tommy. His love for Beth is like a shining beacon of hope he clings to like a liferaft. He has signed his own death warrant in order to protect her. His every action and declaration slayed me a little more. He is definitely the more honest of the two though once you hear Beth’s story, the real one, I better understood some of the choices and decisions she made.
“We both screwed up. We were both scared. We lied and we kept secrets and we’re just…we’re going to stop.”
Sexually, this couple forges an unbreakable bond that in it’s lust and love will never be broken. No matter how many lies they tell themselves. New experiences and old resentments flow through them like a benediction.Though I enjoyed this aspect, I did feel that O’Keefe relied on it too much as building material and a growth chart of sorts for the story. We spend an inordinate amount of time with them in bed together and not enough time on the conflict. Which, in my opinion-resolved far too easily. Also, Bates uses the same threat in here as he did in the Bad Neighbors series with Jack which disappointed me a little.
O’Keefe ends on a positive note in terms of our hero and heroine. givings us the answers to most of the questions we were all asking, and leave us wondering on some others. Simon’s up next on the chopping block and I look forward to learning more about his backstory and who he will be rescuing. I have a feeling I know who his heroine will be but I think I’ll keep it to myself and see if I'm right. ...more