(Early arc review) I picked this one up on a whim when I saw another reviewer singing it’s praises on Twitter. The Rule Book**spoiler alert** Grade: B
(Early arc review) I picked this one up on a whim when I saw another reviewer singing it’s praises on Twitter. The Rule Book is a light-hearted romantic comedy that follows a young woman as she starts her very first adult job right out of college. Hired on as a second assistant for a social media consulting company, her struggle to keep her head above water while NOT falling for the antichrist aka the CEO is hilarious; especially when she keeps breaking all 700 of his must be memorized rules. Add an overly affectionate dog, a drama queen of a first assistant, and an elevator that tries to eat people and you have a winner.
While I enjoyed the slow moving romance and mild drama inspired storyline, it’s the heroine, Lainey Taylor, who really steals this show. Intelligent, hardworking, and delightfully self-deprecating; her internal monologue and witty snark kept me cheering as she heroically and hilariously struggles to get over every hurdle set in her way. A cast of amusing eccentric secondary characters only adds to the overall appeal. If I had one issue, it was how stubborn and clueless the hero was. Frankly, I found his “jump first ask questions later” attitude baffling for a supposed CEO of a fortune 500 company. Regardless, The Rule Book is a fun romantic adventure that will definitely have me reading Ms. Blackwood in the future...more
Favorite Quote: “Don’t you like parties?” “The last party I went to, I came face-to-face with my husband’s mistress.” “Then this one will be much better.”
Carmen lost her husband three years ago. Since then she has merely been going through the motions of life. Her brother in law, Rennie, decides to pop in at Christmas on the excuse he is taking a break, but in reality, he thinks it’s time for Carman to start living again. When Carmen’s best friend Nancy thinks her husband is cheating on her, Carmen and Rennie head down to her house, help her discover the truth, and bring her and her mother, Rose, back to London with them for a little R&R.
Once back in London, Nancy and Carmen find themselves looking for love in all the wrong places while rediscovering pieces of themselves in an attempt to put their lives back together once and for all.
The One You Really Want is classic Mansell with it’s light hearted humor, outrageous situations, clever, witty, dialogue, and lovely romantic tones. This particular title is a reprint. It was originally published in 2006. Unlike her later novels where the focus remains steady on one couple’s romantic journey with various secondary characters added to amplify the message(s) being given, this one chooses to focus on two women who are each dealing with a life altering experience. Mansell uses these two best friends to provide an interesting look at the various types of relationships we forge in life as they both decide to take a chance on life and love again with a few pitfalls along the way.
I enjoyed this one far more than I thought I would. The biggest draw of Mansell’s writing is her characters. She infuses a sense of realism into their personalities and situations; allowing you to connect intimately with them. They make bad decisions, say dumb things, and act inappropriately at times. Just like all of us. You’re never really sure what these engaging people are going do or where they will end up until the very the end. There are actually three main storylines in here that intertwine. Each one is given equal time with no sacrifices to the others. Any love scenes are completely off page but the story is strong enough without them.
Carmen and Nancy are delightful women whose intelligence, wit, and general love of life keeps the story flowing smoothly as we are pulled into their wake. I loved that Nancy isn’t given a fatalist attitude because her husband cheated on her. She knows it wasn’t her fault and doesn’t blame herself in any form or fashion. She dusts herself off and prepares rather easily for the next stage of her life. Finding her way proves harder than she imagines when her crush friend-zones her and she is inadvertently dragged into her boss’s turbulent love life.
Carmen’s issues run a little deeper. She and her husband had been together since they were teenagers. He was the love of her life. His rise to fame in a rock band and subsequent descent into drugs, which led to his death, left her in a precarious position. Her drowning grief was compounded by her vulnerability. Her wealth and her husband’s fame leave her with few to rely on for comfort and she finds herself unable and unwilling to move on. She is forced to lie about her wealth and identity, creating a barrier that works against her when she is ready to finally be free.
The secondary characters add delicious snarkiness and humor as they all scramble to find their place in this often capricious world. I laughed more than once at the dynamics between Rennie (Carmen’s brother in law) and Nancy’s mother, Rose. They could give Vegas a run for it’s money with their quirky and fast hitting one liners. A neighbor and his teenage daughter will leave you rolling your eyes affectionately as he struggles with becoming a full-time parent, a jealous girlfriend, and his daughter’s outrageous attempts at matchmaking. There are some bittersweet moments as Mansell divulges into the lengths one goes to keep family happy. Some fun misunderstandings only add to the overall appeal of these crazy, mad Brits.
Multiple storylines run rapid throughout here, each one seemingly random but the ties that bind them all together become increasingly more visible as we move closer to the conclusion. Various characters are at impasse in their own individual relationships and Mansell does an excellent job of showing us that sometimes we need to ride out the storm before the calm sets in order to make sure we are able to handle what life has to offer us.
The One You Really Want is a fun, quick read that hits all the right spots; humor and romance wise. Even with the multiple storylines and influx of characters, you aren’t left feeling overwhelmed or confused by what’s happening. Mansell easily captures the spontaneity of the characters and smoothly takes us from one situation to another with no bumps or lag time. The conclusion is sweet and fulfilling as Mansell wrap-ups the loose ties and gives everyone the answers they had been seeking the whole time. My only disappointment was that we weren’t able to see beyond the initial happy for now. Everything wraps up rather fast and then abruptly ends.
Jubilee Hamilton is a former campaign manager whose last three clients lost their elections. Her boyfriend has left her and now she is being evicted from her home. She dreads having to go home and face her critical parents-or worse-her older sister. When she receives notice she is the sole inheritor of her great-grandfather’s ranch, she hightails it to Texas, determined to make it on her own. She begins to wonder what she’s getting into though when she hires a grumpy cowboy to help her run the ranch.
Charley Collins had it all as a rich rancher’s son but a couple of bad decisions cost him his family and his inheritance. As a single father trying to survive the weight of a town’s disapproval of him while he raises his daughter, he finds himself both annoyed and intrigued by his new boss. But trust is a rare commodity for a man and woman who has both been betrayed by family, friends, and loved ones.
Lauren Brigman, the sheriff’s daughter, is on spring break from college. Unhappy she is stuck at home rather than on the beach in Cancun, Lauren has plenty of time to reflect on her relationship with her mother, an unrequited crush, and an old childhood friend whom she is reconnecting with. When her father is injured in the line of duty, Lauren takes a step back and discovers the only person who can make her happy is herself.
Fourteen-year-old Thatcher Jones keeps to himself, doing a little of this and that in order to survive. When he is unwittingly pulled into a murder mystery, he finds his survival depends on a man and woman whose journey towards trust and forgiveness mirrors his own.
Jodi Thomas’s small town contemporaries are a favorite indulgence of mine. Smoothly written with appealing characters, Thomas weaves a cozy tale that digs deep beneath the facade of small-town living; examining the love, laughter, pain, and heartbreak that exists there. Though I haven’t read the first two in this series, I was able to read this one with no issues in comprehension of the character histories or the arc. As with her Harmony series, (which I have reviewed here), each book tends to focus on one couple’s relationship while advancing other character’s stories.
Lone Heart Pass has a healthy dose of mystery, suspense, and quite a few humorous surprises as it builds a solid base on which to reveal the main conflict. Told from four points of view, strong opinions and emotions hold sway as you watch these people deal with the matters at hand in a world that doesn’t really hold them in high esteem. Three main storylines circle around each other, intersecting at key points as their ties to one another become visible. Each character’s personal journey is a lesson in the strong hold the past can have on you and how learning to forgive and let go can free you for an incredible future.
Strongly character driven; the steady narrative and witty dialogue keeps you entertained throughout the book. Ms. Thomas excels at creating characters that dig deep into your heart. She infuses a sense of realism into their personalities and situations; allowing you to connect intimately with them. They make bad decisions, say the wrong things, and act inappropriately at times. Not one of them is perfect though each one is a strong presence that takes command and dominates the scenes they are in. I like that everyone featured isn’t guaranteed an instant happily ever after. Each story always leaves off with the promise of more to come, allowing for Thomas to build strong lasting relationships that aren’t always based on romance but also on friendship.
I’m looking forward to the next book in the series and plan on reading the first two if only to get some background on the characters of Ransom Canyon I met in here. Thomas’s writing continues to delight me and I recommend her to everyone who enjoys small town contemporaries with intriguing characters, charming romances and strong friendships that will have you waiting anxiously each new visit.
Kendrick, an uncollared rare white tiger and Guardian, has been in hiding his people for over 20 years. When their den in infiltrated and his clan is forced to run, Kendrick struggles to find a new place for them to live free of the shifter towns and the dreaded collars forced on them by the humans. A chance meeting with a gorgeous human scares Kendrick as he can’t afford any distractions from his mission but he can’t seem to stay away from her. When he is forced to defend his life from a rogue shifter in front of her, Kendrick knows he must let her go for good.
Addison Price, a waitress at a local dinner, looks forward to the nights Kendrick comes in with his sons. Her little crush on Kendrick turns deeper when he saves her and the boys from a gun wielding killer. When they are to part ways, Addison makes the decision to go with Kendrick and the boys, offering babysitting services in exchange for his protection. As Addison learns more about Kendrick’s history, her feelings towards shifters change and she is willing to do whatever it takes to help Kendrick and his boys find a safe place for them and his people to live freely. But someone doesn’t want Kendrick safe and they will do whatever it takes to stop him.
Some small spoilers if you aren’t current with the series.
We first met Kendrick in the novella Bear Attraction. Bear shifter Rebecca (bear shifter) and Walker (human liaison between humans and shifters) were forced to work together when Rebecca is caught on restricted land in shifter form. In their investigation into finding a suspected kidnapped human, they find and force Kendrick to destroy his den and scatter his people into the wind for safety. His and his people’s cover’s blown, Kendrick made a deal with Dylan. In exchange for Dylan’s help in keeping his people safe, he agreed to help Dylan solve various problems. When Kendrick is attacked by his some of his own people, he knows it’s time to find a new den and bring his people home.
White Tiger is the eighth installment in Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series. A strong paranormal romance that delivers well-developed characters, suspense-filled plots lines, sensual romances, and witty dialogues. Well crafted, the balance created between the sexy romance and the heart pounding action is always spot on. Evolving world building allows for easy comprehension even though each book and the series as a whole is multi-layered. Filled with multiple characters and plotlines that further expand the arc and take us in new directions; you will find yourself devouring each page as each book garners us bigger clues and dangerous situations, leading us towards the series finale.
This particular installment reminded me of an earlier installment-Tiger’s Magic. Kendrick is an older more stable version of Tiger. He is what Tiger would have been if he hadn’t been isolated in a lab for most of his life. Strong, intelligent, stalwart, and loyal to the core, both alpha males will fight to the death for those they love and care for yet chose not to broadcast their dominance over others. They both just want to live in peace and avoid the politics that often is inflicted on their kind. Addison is also a lot like Tiger’s mate Carley. Human, smart, gorgeous, full of life, practical, and also loyal to the core. She has no heavy baggage or deadly secrets. What you see is what you get. Like Carly, Addison always fights for the underdog and will do whatever it takes to keep those she loves and cares for safe.
“The second you’re done with Seamus, you find me and tell me what’s going on. Don’t make me come looking for you, now, you hear?”
The chemistry and sexual tension between Kendrick and Addison is hot and heavy with lots of sexual tension though the romance builds very slowly. Kendrick doesn’t want the added distractions and he is afraid he will hurt her with his shifter strength. I loved that the mate trope wasn’t used. Kendrick had to get to know one Addison; learn to trust her before embarking down that road. I also enjoyed that Addison wasn’t a pushover or instantly “in love” with Kendrick either. She questions his actions and offers opinions and objections when needed. As always, there are no closed bedroom scenes. Addison in essence “chases” Kendrick while he struggles not to give into his desires. Once Kendrick accepts he can’t stay away from her, the physical aspects catch up with the emotional ones.
“I want it hard and fast, basic and raw. I want you on the ground, against the wall, you riding me, me on you, locked together, inseparable. I want you groaning my name while I shout your, and I want you begging me to never stop. “
The main conflict blends perfectly with the romance as Ashley reveals the reasons behind the assassination attempt on Kendrick and the person(s) responsible. The action and intrigue further deepens as familiar faces from past installments enter the scene while some new faces are introduced that add depth, humor, and further expansion the world. I liked meeting Kendrick’s seconds, especially Seamus and his family, and learning more about his past. Kendrick’s sons are adorable and soften the hardness of Kendrick’s personality while giving Addison and Kendrick a bridge on which to build their romance. Zander Moncrieff has to be my favorite new character, besides our protagonists. A healer whose reluctant heroics and dry humor hide the darkness of his gift. I can’t wait to see more of him.
Zander was a polar bear shifter, a creature as rare as the white tiger. Still more rare, he was a healer, the gift of the Goddess running strong in him.
He was also batshite crazy.
There are also some fabulous subplots that will leave you ready for more of this world as Ashley gives us clues to future storylines and updates on concern certain couples.
The ending is an intense, emotional roller coaster ride of deception, betrayal, and redemption as Ashley wraps up the main conflict in a satisfactory manner. Ashley continues to be a favorite romance author; whether it’s paranormal or historical. I recommend this series to all readers who love their heroes and heroines to be kick ass, sexy, funny, and always willing to cross the line for those they love.
en Davis, a drummer in a famous British rock band, hasn’t been interested in anyone romantically since he lost his wife in an auto accident. His interest from that day on was in nothing but his music and random hook ups until he meets the band’s beautiful new clothing stylist.
Julia Jones gave up on men when her ex-boyfriend went from controlling to violent. A very talented clothing designer, Julia chooses to put all her focus on her career until she meets the very determined Ben Davis. Gorgeous and sweet, Julia is powerless to resist his charms.
Innocent flirting turns into hot steamy nights of passion with both parties falling hard and deep. But when an incident endangers Julia, Ben’s reaction sends Julia running away. Can Julia trust Ben will never hurt her? Or will she close her heart off to the one man who opened it back up?
Marry Me is a short, sweet, and sexy novella that brings two love shy individuals to their happily ever after. Ben is a total sweetheart-a bad boy rocker whose stage persona is nothing like the one woman man he really is. I didn’t connect with Julia as well as I did Ben. She gave off a lot of mixed singles which made it hard to see what she really wanted. Witty dialogue helps to build the connection between them; allowing readers to see their growing attraction.
The romance is pretty straightforward and to the point. It has a very strong scripted feel to it. Couple meet, hero pursues, heroine is indecisive, they finally meet in middle, sexy shenanigans commence, the requisite misunderstanding, heroine finally listens to her heart, all is forgiven, the end. I think I would have enjoyed it more had we been able to see some emotion infused scenes from their respective pasts or their memories of what happened. Instead we get some light narrative on it that doesn’t match some of the extreme reactions the characters have (especially Julia)
Nicely written sex scenes round out the story. Stivali doesn’t skimp on the details and I liked that both parties were fully invested and sexually adventurous. It’s two people making love; a steamy emotional blend of give and take. This was the strongest element in the book.
Stivali wraps it up pretty quickly with a predictable conflict which is solved with minor fanfare. Marry Me is a decent enough romance and good for a quick pick me up but nothing I would write home about.
Knox Callaghan has been at Devil’s Rock for eight years for murder. Due to be released soon, he is counting the days till he can walk free again and keeping his head low. Tall, dark, and deadly, no one messes with Knox… no one except the new infirmary nurse. A woman he instantly knows is too good and pure for someone like him.
Briar Davis doesn’t want to be at Devil’s Rock but when her boss asks for volunteers to come with him to the prison to help out until they can hire a new medical staff, she reluctantly agrees. When Knox is brought in for an injury, the attraction between them is instant, but Briar has no interest in a convict. A hostage situation in the infirmary changes Briar’s mind, especially when Knox risks his life and freedom in order to save her life.
Briar learns when she returns to the prison that Knox has been granted an early parole for his heroics. He is now free and she knows she will never see him again. But Knox can’t resist the sweet temptation that Briar offers. When one kiss leads to more, Knox must decide if she is better off with him or without him.
All Chained Up by Sophie Jordon is the start to a new series (Devil’s Rock) that revolves around a group of incarcerated men and the women who help to free them from their demons. A gritty, forbidden tinged romance that takes two broken individuals and paves a way to their healing. Smooth pacing and well-developed characters help to create the story that focuses on the balance between the characters’ evolving emotions and the romance unfolding.
Knox Callaghan is a strong, silent, gorgeous man whose impressive size and brusque personality makes him an island all onto himself. He regrets the decision that landed him in prison. It not only cost him everything, it also placed his younger brother, North, into the same situation. A former HS football star, Knox was a shooting star that burned up when it slammed into the earth with one rash act. In his grief over a family member, he willingly gave up his freedom. The guilt and disgust of what he did weigh heavily on him though a majority of that is because his brother got caught up in his need for revenge. Now close to the end of his time, he just wants to get out and attempt to make amends to his family who he feels he let down. A pretty nurse who is completely out of his reach is just one more thing to brood on.
He’d learned that lesson at twenty…when he had kissed his freedom goodbye.
Briar Davis is a nurse who has been the repeated victim of abuse. A survivor who keeps to herself, she has worked hard to rise above her childhood and just wants a happy life, similar to what her older sister has found. Quiet, compassionate, and seemingly malleable, Briar has a hidden streak of steel that reveals itself slowly throughout the story. She is looking for safety and security-two things a convicted felon in prison can’t offer her. Yet, his soul speaks to her and her innate need to protect rises to the surface when she sees he is the victim of violence.
Prison romances aren’t an altogether much seen trope only because it’s difficult to facilitate a romance in that type of situation. Also, strong characterization is required to convince the reader that a romance with a rightfully convicted felon can be not only possible but believable. Jordan does an excellent job of introducing the attraction in a seemingly difficult situation then creating a viable plot device to open the door for that attraction to morph into something more realistic. She makes sure we see both points of views and that the initial consensus upon our protagonist’s meeting is that the attraction is not only unwanted but faintly disgusting (at least on the side of the heroine). It’s only after the hero’s heroic actions does the heroine begin to see the hero through a different lens though she understands the attraction is largely physical and that she may be looking at him through eyes of gratitude.
She cried for what had happened, for what she had almost become. A victim. Just like her mother. And she cried for Knox Callaghan.
I enjoyed watching Knox and Briar not only take a chance on each other once Knox is released but also the journey of self discovery they each went through. Knox carries a lot of guilt and he feels he will only contaminate her with the same stigma that follows him if he tries to be a part of her life. Certain scenes only serve solidify this in his mind. Briar also struggles with her own past, not wanting to go down the same road as her mother and end up trapped in a no win situation with a violent man. I think the storyline could have benefited from a deeper examination of this couples backgrounds and the events that lead them to this crossroad.
I do wish the balance between the sexual relationship and the romance itself had also been better. I will be honest and say the relationship is almost solely built on sex. A lot of hot, delicious, up against the wall, well written, chemistry explosive sex. Knox’s commanding nature resonates through Briar very nicely however there wasn’t much growth seen between them as a couple. The sex almost overtakes over the story, not leaving enough room for readers to see when the tides turned and caused their relationship became more emotionally based.
I can be patient. I spent years in prison waiting to be free. Waiting, even though I didn’t know it then…for you.
A variety of secondary characters rounds out the story, adding depth, humor, and hints to future storylines. North, Knox’s brother, helps to vocalize the desolation and sense of helplessness Knox feels while his aunt and uncle provide a much needed soothing touch. Briar’s neighbor is a bright spot in her life as she helps to facilitate Briar’s relationship with Knox while Briar’s sister’s meddling leaves much to be desired. An interesting character, Reid, jumps out at you even though his page time in almost nonexistent. A lifer and the leader of a prison gang at Devil’s Rock, Reid offered Knox and North protection in return for their show of strength. He is slated to be the next hero and his story is inserted rather clumsily towards the end, stealing away from the pivotal moment that solidifies Knox and Briar’s future together.
All Chained Up opens the door to a new and intriguing world that regardless of some issues, has me looking forward to seeing where Jordan takes this series and it’s characters.
Favorite Quote: “Look, it’s too early in the morning for your commitment issues.”
Ramsey is a well known and seemingly jaded guitarist with the band Toxsin. His fame, fortune, and rumored sexual prowess has not only made him a legend but also the target of a scorned groupie. When he tosses her aside after a one night stand, she gets her revenge by getting him intoxicated and having an inappropriate tattoo placed in an intimate area. Upon discovery, Ramsey and his band mates happen upon a young tattoo artist who fixes the tattoo and gains not only Ramsey’s gratitude but his interest. In order to explore this chemistry between them, he offers her the job of a lifetime.
Jewel came to Seattle to fulfill her dreams of becoming an artist. Currently working for a master tattooist who uses her skills and talent to make a better name for himself, Ramsey’s offer to tour with the band to increase her exposure is a dream come true. Worried that if she acts on her attraction to him, it may leave her nothing more than another notch in his bedpost, she strives to keep things professional between them. After all, Ramsey is not looking for forever but right now. But Ramsey is hard to resist and his passion for her and her art may be her undoing.
Rock Steady by Dawn Ryder is the second in her erotic romance contemporary series-Rock Band. While I haven’t read book one-Rock Me Two Times-that in no way impeded my understanding of this story or the characters involved. Heavily character driven, the story focuses on the romance between a famous rock star and a struggling artist. A fast read with two determined characters, an interesting storyline, and some very steamy love scenes; I did find myself raising an eyebrow or two at some of the antics of the characters and the direction the storyline took. Frankly, I found I liked our hero and heroine better as individuals than as a couple.
The story starts out well with fairytale overlay. Innocent and down on her luck heroine saves rich sexy hero. He rewards her by taking her away from her dreary poverty tinged life and giving her a shot at obtaining all her dreams. Not bad but not altogether unique either. This feeling changes gradually when you see that Jewel isn’t looking for her prince charming to save her. I liked Jewel for the majority of the book. She is a college graduate who had the courage to strike out on her own. Smart, sexy, talented, and brutally honest, she wants to make it on her own and stands firm in that regard. That means not allowing Ramsey to pay her way or give into any one night stands with him. She sees beyond his rock star persona and wants him to see her the same way-as someone worthy of more than a quick sexual release.
“I’m getting the feeling personal boundaries are something you struggle with.”
Ramsey is written as the anthem for rock stars. Gorgeous, talented, charismatic, and oozing sexuality from his pores. His misdeeds and escapades leave the tabloids with more than enough fodder. This is not to say he isn’t serious about his music because that is one of the few things in life he takes very seriously. He sees Jewel and wants her so he creates a reason to keep her. But as he gets to know her, he realizes that she wants and deserves more from him then a quick ride and so begins his journey into self-awareness and redemption. A rocky journey that is punctuated by his unconscious efforts to sabotage his burgeoning relationship with Jewel. I do applaud Ryder for keeping Ramsey in character. He doesn’t have a singular moment where he becomes instantly tamed. He makes mistakes over and over and over again as he struggles to understand and accept his growing feelings towards Jewel.
“I’m not changing for you.”
“I didn’t ask you to.”
Ryder showcasing the rock star experience through Jewel’s eyes. We see the lavish lifestyle, nosy paparazzi, and nonstop groupies. Jewel finds herself swept up and ill prepared for the crazy non stop accusations, insinuations and lies concerning her and the band. Jewel’s skepticism and low self-esteem come through strong in her narrative. The strengthening chemistry between her and Ramsey only produces more anxiety as Jewel feels herself being sucked deeper into his orbit and fears she is losing pieces of herself. Even with Jewel’s hesitation, the sexual tension is edgy with innuendos, jealous foreplay, and eventually an explosive release.
A plentiful cast of secondary characters insert themselves into the relationship, offering advice and some amusement as they attempt to help push forward a relationship they deem as worthy. From Ramsey’s band mates to his record label producer, everyone has a finger in this pie and make their thoughts known. We are introduced to the antagonist that started it all rather late in the game. A plot device whose characterization predictable-the iconic groupie who places too much value on herself.
I did have some issues. The tattoo plotline took serious liberties and was blatantly manipulative. The romantic aspects were overshadowed by the sex scenes. Their relationship essentially ran on physical attraction. We never see any true romantic gestures. Ramsey especially annoyed me because he kept doing the same things over and over in order to force Jewel to reassure him that she cared enough about him enough to stay. And while Jewel would take him to task over it, she kept excusing and forgiving his behavior.
Rock Steady is a lightweight opposite attraction erotic romance with the classic redemption of the bad boy trope Predictable and formulaic, you won’t become heavily invested, but it will fill a lazy day.
Favorite Quote: “Let’s talk about why you’re really here.” “Sex. I want your body.”
Lar Delancey has spent his life under the thumb of his Uncle Frank, a mob boss. After Lar learns some interesting secrets about the past, he now wants out to start his own agency that offers their services to the highest bidder but has to do one final job to be free. He has to assassinate the person who had his cousin and brother killed. He is shocked when he discovers the target is an ex-girlfriend who supposedly died in that same explosion that killed his family members.
Moira Collins is an intelligence agent. Her family was all killed in a suspected IRA bombing and she was raised by distant family members. Eventually she was co-opted into the British Intelligence Agency. Five years ago her mission was to gather information on the Delaney’s and she used Lar to do it. She fell in love with him but knew nothing could come of it. When she is abruptly pulled off the mission and sent on suspicious hiatus, she decides to use her contacts to discover who killed her family and why before she leaves the agency for good.
Final Target is a spin-off of the Bellybeg series. Different than its parent series, this series is darker with its violence, mystery, and suspense. Set in dual locations, Dublin and Boston, it focuses on the Delaney family and their history with the Irish criminal underworld. Heavily character driven with a strong balance between the romance and the main conflict, Keane builds an intriguing crime/spy-driven plot line that uses the past and the present to bring closure to a pair of lovers. Strong narrative, engaging suspense, and just the right amount of humor will keep readers hooked till the end.
Lar and Moira were minor characters introduced in two separate books and series. Readers first met Lar in Keane’s original Bellybeg series-Love and Shamrocks. The very sexy, bad boy, baby daddy of Clio Havlin; he is painted with a very prejudicial brush by Clio. We met Moira in book one of the Bellybeg Bad Boys series novellas-Her Ex Treasure Hunter. A spy who used her looks and wit to gain her admittance onto a treasure hunt. She was a very bad girl in that one. :) I was intrigued by the small amount of information we were given about both of them and excited when I learned Keane was pairing them together for their own story.
The cop versus the criminal. Lar is an enigma with his criminal history and dubious morals. He never claims to be a saint nor does he make apologies for his part deeds…yet you can see the heart of him when he interacts with his daughter. He has an honor code, it’s just skewed. Moira seems like an upstanding citizen compared to Lar with her extreme loyalty to the agency and her zest to capture the bad guys…but her morals are just as suspect as Lars. She too has crossed multiple lines and committed some questionable deeds; the only difference is she is granted autonomy from the government. They are perfect together. Like two pieces of a puzzle.
The chemistry only increases your feelings of this couple’s compatibility. It is an appealing mixture of hot combustible heat and sexy playtime. I love a couple who can laugh and enjoy each other in and out of bed. Their reconnection starts out slow, neither trusting the other. Too many secrets and lies separate them but their sexual attraction is a like a magnet that pulls them to one another regardless of their intentions. Well written sex scenes add to the overall appeal. All I can say is VIP room. WHEW!
A dynamic cast of personable characters help to round out the story and explain the deep and long standing history that exists between Lar’s and Moira’s family. Lar’s daughter makes an appearance and I like she is developing a stronger relationship with him. Lar’s family is a rambunctious lot whose noses get into everything. I loved meeting his cousins and I suspect their stories will come next. Keane trots out clues and details selectively, keeping readers on their toes as we learn more about who was behind all the murders and why. Everyone in here has a secret and some of them are quite shocking. A second storyline flows underneath the main one, setting up the next book and hero (and hopefully the heroine I want).I admit I am very interested in seeing where this particular plotline leads.
Final Target was all in all an enjoyable read that offers readers a hot second chance romance and an intriguing and suspenseful who dun it mystery. There were times when the sheer amount of information, especially concerning Ireland’s past regarding the IRA, the Sinn Fein, and then Orangemen, made it a wee bit confusing to sort through. Regardless, I like this new series spin off and am looking forward to the next book in this series-Kiss Shot-set to release in July.
I thoroughly enjoyed Dangerfield’s Degree of Control and when she told me Locked Box was even hotter, I was all BRING. IT. ON. Locked Box is just as sexy, humorous, sweet, and erotic but with a more serious tone. It addresses marriage, infidelity, age, and class barriers. When an older extreme alpha cop and young IT person are accidentally locked in the evidence room, it opens the door for the hero and heroine to toss aside their insecurities and misconceptions to act on the passion and desire they feel. Emotionally and physically hot, this couple’s chemistry is an inferno that burns in all the right places. Told from the heroine’s POV, we learn that she has crushed hard on the hero for a long time but she knows he’s married and keeps her feelings to herself. Hero is in the midst of a divorce (he just has to deliver the papers) so this is actually not a prelude to cheating, don’t worry. The back story between this couple adds some convoluted layers to the relationship and the main conflict, elevating it from a simple romance with erotic scenes to a strong sensual romance with some mild angst and drama. Dangerfield is definitely on my authors to watch for list.
A repeated derogatory word (at least in my opinion) and some stereotyping in characterization made me uncomfortable. Narrative was clunky and there weA repeated derogatory word (at least in my opinion) and some stereotyping in characterization made me uncomfortable. Narrative was clunky and there were some issues with tense and scene development. All this at just 14%. Unsure if the story levels out or not but the track author seems to be on doesn't look to be for me. ...more
DNF. Stone Walls started out interesting enough. Two damaged protagonists are thrown together on a blind date neither of them are interested in beingDNF. Stone Walls started out interesting enough. Two damaged protagonists are thrown together on a blind date neither of them are interested in being on. Some snark, some attraction, and off we go. Then it begins to go down. First off, the heroine's bff is annoying. Seriously annoying and not in a cute way. She keeps pushing this couple together who have both told her in no uncertain terms they aren't interested. Nothing matters to her but what she wants. I don't think getting hit over the head with a 2X4 would get the message across.
Then we have the hero. He has his reasons for not wanting to get serious about someone, but he is a game player no matter how much he protests. He teases, cajoles, and tempts but then steps back with each time claiming, "this is not what I want." Umm, ok, then stop chasing the heroine. I pretty much reached my limit when he kept calling the heroine a bitch because she calls him out on his games and she wouldn't do what he wanted her to do, no questions asked. All she wants is a why but because she asks, she's a bitch. NO THANK YOU.
I liked the heroine. She too has legitimate reasons for not being a great place for a relationship but unlike him, she's not chasing after him. She doesn't go looking for him then demand he keep his distance because she's not interested. *sigh*
I liked the suspense elements and the writing is strong and flows well. It seemed to be building up to a point where the hero and heroine have far more in common than they thought in reference to their pasts. However, I didn't get that far because of the hero and heroine's bff. ...more
Favorite Quote: “His cock was going to be disappointed this morning. It thought it was going to get sex.”
Professor Charlotte Girardet is currently teaching at a small university in British Columbia while working on her book in an effort to secure a position at a larger more prestigious university. She has no time for relationships until a sexy, rugged security guard invades her class and her life.
Justice Cooper leads a relatively quiet life. A former hockey player, he now works security at the university, occasionally auditing classes that strike his fancy, and spends his days off with his son. Charlotte appeals to him on a sexual and an intellectual level. He recognizes the loneliness inside of her and he pushes for them to spend more personal time together.
Charlotte struggles to balance her professional obligations with her deepening relationship with Justice. She was badly betrayed by a previous lover and is wary of allowing someone the chance to hurt her again. Justice also struggles with trust issues. His ex-wife divorced him out of the blue and is now pushing for a reconciliation. Their attempts to heal their wounds together and move forward is interrupted when a series of attacks on campus places Charlotte in danger
When Time Falls Still was a pleasant surprise. A woman set on path to which there is no deviation from finds herself questioning her life goals when an enigma of a man enters her life with every intention of becoming a permanent resident. Margriet’s voice produces a smooth flowing narrative, intriguing sexual tension, and a well-plotted romance that takes it’s time developing as Margriet sets out to address and resolve the internal issues of the protagonists while flirting with a light suspense filled subplot.
There is a quietness to the story that contrasts perfectly with the emerging emotional undertones and intense passion that envelops the protagonists. Charlotte and Justice are well matched, likable characters whose still waters run deep. Both are intelligent, loyal people who have been hurt in life by love. It was interesting to see how similar they choose to live their lives yet with such different results. Charlotte chose to leave her family and put all her energies towards her goals while Justice gave up his goals and choose to adapt his life around his family who need him.
Charlotte has a life plan that ends with her achieving tenure at a prestigious university. All her work and education have been stepping stones towards this goal. When she first meets Justice, she is both annoyed and confused. He is not part of her plan and is a distraction she doesn’t want or need but his attention flatters her and his intelligence calls to her. Still reeling from a broken relationship where her trust was used against her, she finds herself unable to accept Justice’s motives as completely pure. So she offers him a friends with benefits affair that is to end when she leaves the university in a year.
“I thought English professors were suppose to be romantic.”
Romance. Love. That’s what hurt you. Sex, on the other hand, was just sex. “Not all of us, “Charlotte said.
Justice agrees to her proposal though he is looking for much more than that with her. He too has been hurt in the past though he is more than willing to take a chance with Charlotte. His reaction to her is deafening and he wants to further explore the feelings she invokes in him. Though some may think him unambitious, Justice knows exactly what he wants and what he doesn’t. His hockey career was more of his father’s dream then his and he doesn’t need a degree to define his intelligence. His divorce sent him into a tailspin and the only thing that matters to him now is being there for his son. He is a proverbial rock in a storm; dependable and stalwart and that suits him just fine.
As they begin their delicate dance, the sexual tension between them is a tangible force that demands frequent indulgence as they seek to learn more about each other outside of the bedroom. A friendship develops between them, almost reluctantly. Old fears begin to rear their ugly heads, leaving our lovers wondering if this relationship stands a chance at all. Margriet defines these fears, allowing readers to hear Charlotte and Justice’s internal thoughts, so that we can understand the reasons behind some of their actions. Both fear the strength of their attraction-each wondering if they can afford to become this attached to someone after what has happened to them in the past. I liked that communication was at a premium for this couple. Misunderstandings were cleared up in an adult manner.
The suspense plot line was interesting though it becomes evident early on it is merely a plot device to help push Justice and Charlotte together. Margriet spoils the story herself in the blurb so we know what will happen to Charlotte. I wish she would have left us in the dark on that aspect to build up the suspense and mystery.
The ending wraps up the storyline in a pleasurable climatic manner, leaving readers secure that this couple has all the necessary ingredients for a long lasting relationship. Though this is my first time reading Margriet, it won’t be my last. I enjoyed her voice and the blending of the sensual romance with the realistic issues facing a new relationship.
This is currently available in paperback. The ebook version releases April 4, 2016.
Recently I was discussing romantic comedies with some friends, and I was recommended this series by Has from the blog Book Pushers. Similar to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series Emma Hart delivers the same strong family oriented storyline chalked full of humor, mystery, over the top dramatics, and a strong antagonistic romance but without the dreaded love triangle and a competent heroine.
I enjoyed Twisted Bond though I did have a some issues. Hilarious hijinks galore as Hart blends a sexually tense VERY slow burning romance (slow as in there is no resolution to the romance element) with an intriguing multi-faceted whodunnit jam-packed with mayhem and murder. Standing in the middle of all this is Bond. Noelle Bond. PI extraordinaire. Noelle is a heroine you can’t help but enjoy all the while rolling your eyes at her antics. Intelligent, snarky, full of life, strong-willed, and alpha to the core. She doesn’t take any flack from anyone and always says exactly what’s on her mind. Single and loving it, the only man who makes this gun touting, cupcake devouring, clothes horse burn with lust is her worse enemy.
Detective Nash is the lead homicide detective for Holly Wood sheriff’s department. He despises Noelle and makes no bones about it. An alpha male from head to toe, he has a very low opinion of women that spills over onto Noelle frequently. When his murder investigation coincides with her client investigation, he goes to extreme lengths to keep her out of the loop, forgetting she has three brothers on the police force. Watching Noella and Drake verbally battle one another will keep you in stitches though at times it got a little to verbally violent (especially on Drake’s end). They volley insults at one another with the skill and speed of professional pitcher; zinging them left and right until the tension becomes so unbearable that kissing each other is their only recourse.
“I’d advise you not to work against me, I have no problems putting you in cuffs.”
And I have no problem spending the night in lock-up for impaling your penis with my stiletto.”
An eccentric cast of supporting characters only adds to the overall appeal. Noelle’s employees are a lively bunch whose antics (and cupcake demands) keep Noelle busy while she solves crimes and evades her overbearing Nonna who is convinced that Noelle will only be happy when she is married and pushing out babies for her husband. Preferably an italian catholic husband. Noelle’s brother and father have her back in every way; especially when a certain detective crosses a line that leaves the men in her family up in arms.
“Remember Officer Bond, that I’m your superior.”
“Remember, Detective Nash, that you’re not my superior, and I’m more than certain that mine will accept me defending my sister after the way you treated her last night. So, until you are my superior, step back and stay the hell away from my her.”
“The way I treated her? I was doing my job, Bond, and I was utilizing the resources available to me.”
“La famiglia e tutto, “ Devin says, ignoring me entirely. “Family is everything. Do your job, but don’t fuck with my sister while you do it. She’s the only woman in town who demands respect, and by fuck, Detective, I’ll die makin’ sure she gets it from everyone who thinks they’re above it.”
The mystery is a solid device, moving fast and sure as Hart gives us plenty of clues, evidence, and misdirection to make sure we never see this villain coming. The ending resolves the mystery but leaves readers unsure of the path Noelle and Drake will be taking.
Overall I enjoyed this first installment. The strength of the story is the characters. Noelle and her family are over the top entertaining and Hart does a fantastic job on the mystery and it’s development. As I stated earlier, I did have some issues. At times I felt Drake’s and Noelle’s bantering became abusive-especially on Drake’s part. I found his reasons for the intense dislike he harbored for her bordering on ridiculous. I could understand Noelle’s dislike as it was in reaction to Drake’s treatment of her but we really don’t get a clear reason to exactly why Drake almost hates her. I found the shooting of the foot excuse a bit too mild for his actions towards her. Also, the repetitive nature of the author telling us how great Noelle was with guns annoying. I want to add I have already read book two, Tangled Bonds, so I know that both of the main issues are toned down considerably. YAY.
Certain words and stereotypes used made me uncomfortable. Also found the narrative clunky and issues with tense. And this just by 14%. I'm going to stCertain words and stereotypes used made me uncomfortable. Also found the narrative clunky and issues with tense. And this just by 14%. I'm going to stop here because unless there is a major turn around, the track this book is taking isn't for me. ...more
Favorite Quote: “Look kid, I’m not raising a zombie so you can send it to buy beer.”
Kincade Strange is a 27-year-old freelance voodoo practitioner living in Seattle, WA. Hard-pressed for funds and pulling seances for bored, rich kids, Kincade finds herself in the middle of a mystery when she happens upon a zombie who was a famous artist while alive and whose animation looks to be the work of her former mentor. Zombie raising is illegal in the United States, forcing Kincade to hide the zombie in her home until she can figure out how he died, who raised him, and why. When zombies and voodoo practitioners begin to turn up murdered around Seattle and seem to be tied to her new roommate, Kincaid finds herself trusting no one. Especially when it looks like she is the next victim.
Fans of Charish’s The Adventures of Owl series are sure to enjoy her newest Urban Fantasy series that introduces us to a unique heroine whose voodoo brings all the zombies, ghouls, and ghosts to her yard. This suspense laced atmospheric adventure is heavy on the world building as Charish introduces us to a supernaturally enhanced Seattle that houses a voodoo practitioner heroine, a host of intriguing supernatural entities, and a multi-layered mystery that leaves you guessing till the end. Well written with an undercurrent of anticipation, Charish carefully layers the world and characters, giving readers ample background while setting up the main storyline and building subplots to be addressed as the series unfolds. A diverse abet secretive cast of secondary characters offers drama, humor, and insight to both the world and the story as each one offers clues to the mysterious happenings,
Kincade Strange is your average urban fantasy heroine-low key, magically enhanced, reluctantly heroic, and broke. Her ability to travel the Otherworld, a name for the space in between life and death, gives her an added edge but we learn it’s not without its problems. A loner seemingly stuck in a rut with a secretive, painful past and abandonment issues. Her sidekick is the ghost of a famous grunge era musician (think Kurt Cobain) whose drinking issues are only surpassed by his love of video games. On a current “break” from her detective boyfriend who’s boss made him choose his job or his girlfriend, Kincade isn’t feeling the love like she used to. I enjoyed getting to know Kincade. Her intelligence and loyalty is underscored by her willingness to jump straight into the deep end when she is faced with a problem-regardless of the consequences. Dry wit and an ability to accept she was wrong shows the potential for Kincade’s character growth is abundant.
Humor and horror walk hand in hand as two separate but equally important storylines intertwine and reveal together-why a famous artist was made into a zombie and who is murdering the zombies and practitioners. Both are interesting and blend well together without taking each other over. Well plotted with a hint of suspense, horror, and plenty of action, Charish allows the reader to follow along with her characters as they discover who/what is stalking the supernaturals of Seattle and why. Strong investigative procedural actions infiltrates this storyline, giving a realistic vibe to this fantasy. I liked that there was a healthy amount of trial and error to be seen with no one whipping out a magical wand or has an undefeatable super power to save the day. Ingenuity and common sense rule even though bad decisions are made and failures are seen. The humanization of the supernaturals gives readers a common ground on which to empathize with the characters and events playing out.
A small romantic element is seen though we arrive at the end of it-not the beginning. Prejudice and discrimination is an issue Kincaid and her comrades face daily and this is a huge part of her problem with her on/off again boyfriend. Especially when she has to learn of his decisions second hand. A cast of diverse secondary characters are complex in nature and personality, yet easy to relate to. Some add to the overall bleakness of the landscape while others are shining lights illuminating the story. Everyone has their own agenda and their background stories add depth and humor to the story. I look forward to learning more about them.
There were a few minor issues I had problems with though I do feel they will iron themselves out as the series progresses. One is a standard problem I hate in any story-the “need to know” plot thread. It creates some drag in the story as Kincade walks blindly into multiple situations that could have been better resolved had she got all the information she needed up front. I also would have enjoyed more in depth information on Kincade’s voodoo training and her relationship with her teacher. Even with my questions, I do feel Charish has written another winner.
Similar in design to Kit Richardson’s Greywalker series, fans of dark urban fantasy are sure to enjoy this new and entertaining paranormal investigative style series.
Favorite Quote: “How can I save you when you’re the one saving me?”
Jonah and Vivi have been through the gauntlet but have survived and are trying to deal with being in a relationship that isn’t just built on their sexual fantasies. When an accident occurs while indulging in their play, Jonah takes it far more serious than warranted, causing Vivi to realise the war still wages inside of him. On its heels, his younger sister, Rebecca, is mugged, and he is further demoralized and feeling impotent to protect the ones he loves.
Asking For More is a short novella that peeks back into Jonah and Vivienne’s lives and shows us how they are handling their deepening relationship. Told from Vivi’s POV, we learn how they are doing and what advancements they have made since book two-Begging For It. Confessions were made and issues brought out into the open that gave readers hope that Vivi and Jonah had a real fighting chance. In here we see that Jonah still fights the darkness inside of him. He continues to have problems dealing with what happened in the past and in dealing with his sexual needs. He wants more with Vivi but is unsure that is possible.
While this wasn’t quite what I expected, I wasn’t overly disappointed. This novella isn’t really a story but a glimpse into Vivi’s and Jonah’s feelings. Pace mixes some sexually intense scenes with an emotional catharsis of sorts as Vivi shows us she is learning there is a time for games and a time for quiet loving. She is also learning to pay more attention to the emotional clues Jonah gives her as to what he needs out of their relationship to feel safe and secure. She has become more dominant in asking not only for what she wants from Jonah but also giving for what Jonah needs from her.
Two small subplots are added to the mix which help our couple further learn to cope with the new life they are embarking on. One being Jonah’s sister whose own issues she is slowly working out on her own and a miscommunication between Vivi and her two best friends.
The ending is like a soft sweet soft caress. Even though these two people still have a long way to go and may never be free of the demons that they harbor inside of them, they are slowly learning to conquer the demons rather than continuing to let themselves be controlled by them.
Us picks up about not long after the end of Him. Ryan Wesley and Jamie Canning are happily in love and starting their new lives in Toronto where Wes has achieved his dream of playing for a pro hockey team while Jamie is offered a job coaching hockey in a youth league. But it’s not all rainbows and snuggles. Though they both agreed to keep their relationship a secret from the public till after the hockey season is over, it didn’t seem that much of a hardship when they had the sanctuary of their home. When a nosy and noisy team mate of Wes’s moves in next door and infiltrates their lives, that promised bit of privacy is gone and tempers begin to flare. As Wes and Jamie start to drift apart, they wonder if they can withstand with the world is throwing at them.
Readers were utterly charmed by the first book in this series-Him. A deliciously sexy, bittersweet, and humorous friends to lovers contemporary that uses the bond of friendship and hockey to build an even deeper connection while dealing with family, friends, homosexuality, and the consequences of when their relationship is discovered.
I admit to being a little worried when I heard there was a sequel coming out. Sequels based off of a popular romance that ended on a definite happy note often run the risk of becoming a recap of previous events with a few minor changes or a loaded gun shooting manufactured drama at us left and right. Luckily, this sequel suffers from neither issue. Us is a continuation of Jamie’s and Wes’s love story; the next chapter in their lives. The same charm, humor, and delicious sexual heat saturates this story as Bowen and Kennedy use alternate POVs to pour Wes and Jamie’s hearts out. They deal with not only the everyday ins and out of their lives but also the fact that unlike most couples, they have to hide their relationship. This places undue stress on them. Add in the fact that Wes’s job takes him away for long periods of time, leaving Jamie feeling even more isolated than he already does, and it all adds up to further problems. Emotions run the gauntlet as Wes and Jamie feel the mounting pressure but find themselves unable to communicate effectively beyond the bedroom.
We might be awful communicators lately, but turning each other on has never been a problem for us.
Mild angst and drama begin to slowly fill the storyline as their relationship begins to show some cracks. Bowen and Kennedy do a fabulous job of painting a realistic picture of the issues this couple is experiencing. Wes is flourishing his rookie year on the hockey team and while he wants to tell the world that Jamie is his, he doesn’t want his relationship to overshadow the team. Jamie finds solace in his coaching job but a homophobic fellow employee only adds to his insecurity and increasing anger. These restrictions are isolating them with no social outlets to fall back on. There is no mingling of their friends for fear of what they will inadvertently reveal. Wes and Jamie truly love one another and it shows but they are still learning one another. Both choose to push aside their issues, using excuses to avoid dealing with the problems at hand until a serious event breaks through their barriers and forces them to confront all their anger and fears.
“I think he blames me for everything.”
Though Jamie and Wes are the heart of this story and I loved watching them learn to be a couple and fight for their love, I have to say that a new character, Blake, completely stole the show for me. I don’t think I have laughed so hard over an auxiliary character. His enthusiasm and friendly nature outweighs his obliviousness as he wiggles his way into Wes and Jamie’s lives like a lovable obnoxious puppy. Of course, he more than proves his loyalty and friendship when Wes and Jamie need help and Blake jumps in with no questions asked. Plus, his fear of sheep is adorably weird. Jamie’s parents and siblings are rocks in their corner and Wes’s teammates give him the support and continued friendship he feared he would lose once the season was over and he made his announcement.
“Swear to god, Wesley, sheep are the devil.”
The ending is a mixture of heartfelt sighs, a few tears, and some healthy laughter as Wes and Jamie discover that their coming out wasn’t the catastrophe they feared. They triumphed over one of the greatest obstacles in their relationship and we are once again left with the feeling that this couple has what it takes to go all the way.
Favorite Quote: ”So, daddy, huh?” “C’mon. Blue-Eyes, don’t be like that. You kept screaming ‘more’ and it was the dirtiest thing I could think of.”
Charlotte (Charlie) Bell is a yoga teacher whose sexual desires play in the deeper end of the pool. She wants to be controlled and dominated in the bedroom. When she breaks up with her boyfriend whose need for control was everywhere BUT the bedroom, she goes looking for a partner to give her what she needs.
Enter James Hunter
James, a corporate suit, is a gorgeous playboy whose has some pretty dark desires all his own. When a relative sets him up with Charlie, he knows she is a little too innocent and too good for the likes of him but that won’t stop him from enjoying being the first to bring out her submissive side.
As Charlie and James embark on a sexual based relationship only, the lines drawn between them begins to blur and they find themselves
Degrees of Control is a sexy, sweet, humorous erotic romance by debut author Eve Dangerfield that focuses on the dynamics of the characters and their issues rather than the BDSM the storyline is built around. A fast read that flows along at a steady clip with just few stumbling blocks along the way. Heavily character driven, Dangerfield builds an engaging heroine and hero whose attraction to D/s opens the door to infinite possibilities if they can just get out of their own way. The low key angst and drama is a definite plus for this subgenre.
Charlie is an appealing mixture of contradictions whose recent break up affords her the ability to begin to explore her sexual kink. Charlie has masochistic tendencies. She likes pain with her pleasure. A partner being harsh and forceful to her during sex is what she gets off on and she is tired of feeling ashamed for those desires. She tells her best friends who decide to help her find a man to indulge in her fantasies with.
I really liked Charlie. She is an environmentally conscious vegan who teaches yoga. Her tiny stature and baby blues eyes scream push over but in reality, she is very firm and assertive when she needs to be. She is someone who is comfortable with themselves. She owns her sexuality and though uncomfortable with her desires, she works hard to get what she needs without any excuses or a need to be coerced in order to validate those desires.
“I know what you want, darlin’. You go on and ask me nicely and you might just get it.”
James was a little harder than Charlie to pin down. A former football player and model turned CEO, this smooth-talking Texan is a stereotypical gorgeous man who can get any woman he wants and does. Though the story starts out on the assumption he is a Dom, he’s not. He’s just a guy who likes being in control in the bedroom. Cynical, hard, and extremely crude, he comes off as a complete jerk (especially the first time he and Charlie meet) but as the story reveals, we go deeper into his head and learn his issues stem is from a childhood trauma he is unable to let go of. Meeting Charlie is an eye opener for him. She isn’t like anyone he’s ever met. She’s sweet and intuitive but unlike most of the women he’s met, she has no hidden agenda to change him or lead him down the wedding aisle. She brings out the protectiveness in him and he has no idea how to handle that.
I have no idea what I am doing with her, none at all.
The romance gradually builds. The relationship starts out as strictly sexual and James gives Charlie exactly what she has been looking for. James calls, Charlie comes (heh), and that is the extent of their relationship. Though some may balk at the loosely handled BDSM aspects, this book is not about BDSM -it’s about the couple. Dangerfield doesn’t seek to give us lessons in this particular lifestyle. It’s an element that the author uses to build a romance around two people who like the same things and choose to explore them together.
“So what’s the problem Blue-Eyes? Why can’t we be friend?”
She stared at him for a moment, then laughed. “Okay but I expect all my friends to tie me down and call me a slut. Is that going to be a problem?”
As they spend more time together, Charlie and James become friends. The chemistry grows hotter as the scenes grow more personal. Witty banter only engages the reader more as James grows to enjoy spending time with Charlie out of bed and goes out of his way to “date” her even though he doesn’t date. As they get closer and Charlie slowly digs into his past, seeking to find common ground between them, James’s protective barriers aren’t working anymore and he finds himself struggling to regroup. He has a moment and it is the catalyst that forces him to open up about himself and his trauma. I loved that Charlie saw her feelings for him growing and choose to address it rather then hold it inside and fret about it in silence.
A personable cast of secondary characters adds humor to the storyline. Charlie’s friends stand firm at her back and even though they don’t understand the appeal of her fantasies, they champion her and them.
“Why are all these guys so tall?” Charlie asked. “They’ll make me look like a toddler.”
“You specifically requested someone tall! I’m just meeting your demands.”
Charlie groaned. “Sophia, please stop talking like a pimp.”
“No. Tonight that’s what I am, your pimp.
James is an ocean onto himself. He doesn’t really have anyone in his corner. Charlie is one of the first people who actually looks beyond his playboy exterior and sees the man behind the hype. Soon we begin to see him through her eyes and we realize his past caused far more damage than we assumed and your heart hurts for him. He grows on you and goes from being an emotionally stunted man to a sweetheart who wants everything Charlie is offering. He just needs to find a way to free himself from his past.
There were a few areas I had issues with. I found Charlie’s instinctive need to see the good in people more than naive; it was dangerous. Also, some of the dialogue at times was awkward and addressed some issues we weren’t made privy too.
Regardless of my issues and the predictable plot, I genuinely enjoyed meeting Charlie and James and watching their relationship and themselves change as their emotions engaged. This is a stand alone so story ends on a good note with no lingering questions or issues.
I unfortunately had to dnf this arc. The formatting is atrocious. While I expect a certain amt of editing and formatting issues with arcs, this particI unfortunately had to dnf this arc. The formatting is atrocious. While I expect a certain amt of editing and formatting issues with arcs, this particular draft is a mess. Random line breaks, random paragraph separations, words running together, no chapter identifiers, and the color pink used to denote number line breaks and bled over onto the text at times. It is unreadable without significant effort. ...more
Favorite Quote: “A kraken? In a sinkhole in Nowhere, Texas? Really?
Camille (Cam) Ellis is a particular type of faeOriginally posted at SmexyBooks.com
Favorite Quote: “A kraken? In a sinkhole in Nowhere, Texas? Really?
Camille (Cam) Ellis is a particular type of fae species called a Gemini. Born with a twin, this pair has the ability to mimic others and their powers for a brief amount of time. Cam also has a special power all her own. She can tell a person’s species by a touch. No glamour can fool her. When Camille loses her twin in an accident, she drifts along in life until offered a job with the Earthen Conclave-a sort of supernatural FBI. Now an investigator, Cam uses her gifts to solve crimes committed by supernaturals. In the middle of a standard investigation, Cam is shocked when the sibling of one of the murder victims instigates himself into the investigation and her life, demanding answers.
Cord Graeson, Beta of the Georgia Warg Pack, wants justice for his sister and will do whatever it takes to get it…even if it means using Cam. When another victim is found, Cam knows she has a limited amount of time to act before they strike again. In order to get the answers she needs, she will be forced to used to use her gift in a way that will drag her back into the past and force her to confront some things better left forgotten.
Hailey Edwards once again takes us on a fantasy fueled adventure filled with magic and plenty of action packed suspense in her newest work-Dead in the Water. Book one in the Gemini series, fans of Edwards’s Black Dog series will recognize the world and some of the characters as these two series are related. I don’t feel you have to read the Black Dog series in order to read this one as they are not dependant on one another for growth and/or comprehension. But if you want to understand certain events and characters referenced in here, then that would be the place to visit after reading this book.
I’ve been a fan of Edwards’s work since her Araneae series. One aspect of her writing I enjoy is her ability to take the mundane and with a few changes, turn it into something unique and unexpected. She builds dynamic character bases, using common mythology but takes it one step further using previously unseen species or imbibing currently known species with skills and know how that offers readers something new in the paranormal world. They are filled with life, personality, and a sense of humanity; Camille is a perfect example of this. I’ve never heard of any fae referred to Gemini but Edwards’s characterization leaves no room for doubt of their possible existence through Cam’s well crafted though stingily given history. I love how her family is portrayed as being similar to the Irish Travellers; traveling in a caravan of RVs from spot to spot and never settling down in one particular place for too long. Additional interesting characters dominate this series and provide some needed humor from a sexy, bossy Warg to a deadly pack of fae hedgehogs.
I enjoyed meeting Cam though I would have liked a little more fleshing out of her character. We only get the basics and I felt there was a lot left unsaid. I’m looking forward to Edward’s stripping away the protective layers around Cam. Cam has been trying to atone for her sister’s death and this has led her into police work. She feels that by using her gifts to save others, she can keep families from suffering what she and her family went through. A loner by nature, she exists in her own bubble until this case offers her some much needed friendships that help to bring her out of her shell and navigate the outside world a little better. Though a little indecisive at times, she has a strong protective instinct and when push comes to shove, she’ll do whatever needs to be done. Even at the expense of her own sanity or life.
There is a small hint of possibility that develops between her and the warg-Cord Graeson. A confirmed alpha male, he is determined to find his sister’s killer and demands Cam help him. There is strong chemistry between them though some of Cord’s actions are suspect and we are left unsure if the reaction between them are real or manipulated by Cord’s revenge. I did enjoy their banter.
“You don’t play fair.”
“Fair doesn’t taste like bacon.”
I couldn’t argue with that logic.
Cam certainly holds her own against Cord’s more demanding personality. I will enjoy watching them come to some sort of understanding, especially in light of the stunt he pulled at the end. I admit I laughed.
The story begins with a bang and continues on in that fashion. The mystery is well plotted, brimming with suspense, intrigue, and horror. A supernatural serial killer is slaying their away across the country and the Conclave always seems to be one step behind them. The strong police procedural element blends well with the paranormal aspects. Thierry and Shaw (Black Dog series) make an appearance, leading me to believe the series will continue to overlap with one another. Even though this is a full length novel, it has a serial feel to it as some aspects are resolved while the main mystery is not and continues on into the next book. The next book releases in just a few months which intensifies the serial feel of it.
Dead in the Water is a great start to a new series and I’m looking forward to seeing what Edwards’s has in store for Cam next.
Keep On Loving You is a second chance romance that promises a lot but for me didn’t deliver. The beginning is promising. A woman sees her first love at her sister’s wedding. The man who walked away from her ten years ago and never looked back. She doesn’t fall at his feet or try to push to recreate the past. She treats him like a person she used to love and now no longer does. Which is to be expected. There is anger, frustration, and pain in her actions and voice. She can sort of understand why he left but can’t understand or forgive that he never came home. All she got from him was a series of postcards over the years signed with a Z.
I really liked Mac. She’s a strong, loyal, take charge woman whose heart was broken but she survived. She took over as head of the household when her parents died and focuses most of her attention of the happiness of her siblings, making sure that unlike her, they will get everything they desire out of life. Strong on love but not money, she started her own business and is forever looking for ways to make more. Living in a town where everyone discusses the “legend of Zan and Mac” like it happened yesterday, I really felt for her. She claims her love for him is why she hasn’t moved on but there is much more to it than that. There is also the fact that no one will let her forget her first love so she can’t move on.
As the story evolves, the pacing gradually slows to a limp and drags its way to the end. Ridgeway does a good job providing the background for this couple; letting us see how they were in the past and their future potential. There is a solid base on which to build this story-the problem is the hero. Zan never developed for me. I never felt, even at the very end, that we ever got to know him. The emotional connections never surfaced. He felt like he was place setting in the script. We are told throughout the book how he feels about things but there are no real scenes given to show it. He didn’t seem to have a wide range of emotions.
The dialogue between Zan and everyone further intensified my ambivalent feelings towards him. Everything that comes out of his mouth is almost in code and he is the master of deflecting. While we can feel just how deeply Mac was hurt over Zan’s actions and the way it stunted her ability to form any other romantic connections, Zan remained locked up tight. No matter how many times Mac tries to get answers from him, he just brushes aside her concerns and works on trying to get her into bed. He wants everything to be like it was 10 years ago and couldn’t seem to understand that time didn’t stand still when he left. That no one stopped what they were doing to wait till he decided to grace them with his presence. And the whole time he’s sending conflicting messages by telling her he’s leaving again while acting confused and hurt she struggles against wanting to reconnect with him. Overall, I found him selfish and dense. So very, very dense. The postcards were the most powerful indicator into his mindset. He didn’t love her enough to stay but he made sure she could never, ever forgot him.
The story is saved from complete failure, somewhat, by the Walker family. They are all getting married and we are included in their lives as they plan, live, and love. The feeling of family is strong and that is part of the lesson Zan needed to learn. All the Walkers, with the exception of Mac and her older brother Brett, welcome Zan back with open arms. They missed him and the possibility of him staying for Mac makes them push them for a reconciliation even though they are not in possession of all the facts. They bring a small amount of humor and excitement to this story that it is desperately missing when the focus in on the main protagonists. There is also a small side romance that was stronger and produced a stronger emotion from me than the main romance.
The ending is nothing more than a single lightbulb moment where Zan finally gets it. Zan finally admits his feelings and does what he should have done years ago and Mac finally gets her happily ever after. I only wish she could have found it with someone else who actually deserved her.
Chelsea Camaron’s 7th installment of her action laded and emOriginally posted at SmexyBooks-
Favorite Quote: “Lo sienti, mi amour, lo siento.”
Chelsea Camaron’s 7th installment of her action laded and emotionally packed Hellion MC series deviates from her usual storyline. In this installment, she focuses all her attention on one couple and their troubled marriage. Camaron does a fantastic job of examining the physical and emotional separation that can occur in any long term relationship and dissecting its causes. Every relationship has it’s highs and lows. Add in kids, work, family, and the little things that require your attention day in and day out and it’s quite easy to fall into a rut.You wake up one day wondering where the passion and heat that brought you two together has disappeared to. No punches are pulled in here. Camaron doesn’t downplay her couple’s narrative or thoughts in order to make the story smoother for them and us.
Ruby, Vida, and her brother Julio grew up together in poverty in Mexico. They left and came to the United States in order to make a better life for themselves. Ruby and Vida found the Hellions MC and never looked back. Ruby rose in the ranks and he and Vida present a strong front in and out of the club. A series of scenes shows us the discontent that has been brewing and that eventually comes to a head in their marriage. Rudy forgets that Vida is more than just his “old lady and wife”. She is also mother, a caregiver, homemaker, and a woman with her own needs and desires. Vida discovers she has gradually lost a part of herself as the years have passed-becoming more of an extension of her children and Rudy. The pivotal moment where it all comes out in the open is heartbreaking but necessary. Like a festering wound, the lancing is painful but it allows for the healing to begin.
I enjoyed meeting Ruby and Vida and watching them fight their way back to solid ground. Both are strong, loyal, passionate people who aren’t ones to back away from a fight. It took Vida a little longer to get her “groove” back but when she did-look out. Rudy didn’t stand a chance when the girl he fell in love with shows him the woman he is thinking of letting go of. The heat and chemistry between them is strong; the love and confusion over their separation is a palpable force that comes off the pages in waves.
External issues within the MC and Ruby and Vida’s own family all push their way into the marriage and force Rudy and Vida to start working together and not dwell too long on their hurt feelings. I loved how intuitive the MC was to Ruby and Vida’s feelings and the advice and help they offered. Too often in MC romances, marriage is treated like another cog in the MC wheel and not a separate component that deserves respect and nurturing. In this series, Camaron always brings the conflict, angst, humor, and emotional tone that makes her characters so engaging and stories so entertaining; but in here we see a more serious side to Camaron, giving us the feeling that this story and couple’s journey may hold a deeper meaning for her.
The balance between the conflict and the subplots was perfect. The blending flawless and neither felt as if they were competing against one another other. The arc is slightly expanded and new characters and storylines are introduced. I hope we see more of Vida’s brother in the future, along with an update as to how Ruby and Vida are faring. Even though this is part of an ongoing series, it could easily be read as a standalone.
Heated Ride was an enjoyable, heartfelt ‘ride’ that made me take a long, hard look at aspects in my own long term marriage (15 years) and how easy it is to lose ourselves in the motions and take our partner for granted....more
Favorite Quote: “I fear no fate for you are my fate…”
Caleb Martin and Isabelle (Iz) Sawyer are finally in a good place together. Iz has gotten her father into rehab for his drinking, is back in college taking the art classes she wants, and has found love with Caleb. Caleb is gaining status in the club and is ready to take the next step with Iz. When an unexpected event occurs, this couple takes it in stride, secure in their love for one another.
But life has a way of getting in the way when you least expect it. Choices are made that lead to some serious and heartbreaking consequences. When two people hit rock bottom, the only thing left to do is to claw their way back into the light and find their way home.
Carry You Home is the conclusion to Carry Your Heart. Second chance romances are my kryptonite. There is something very addictive in seeing a romance gone wrong and the efforts the couple will put into making it right again. Especially if the author keeps the plot realistic, allowing us to not only follow along but actually relate to the couple and the sheer amount of work relationships take. What I truly enjoyed was the lack of formula in this sequel. This is an emotional journey fueled by choices and charged with love, loss, regret, guilt, and forgiveness. Well written with a smooth storyline, intriguing conflicts,and multi layered characters; Ryan forces our couple to take leaps of faith as they look deep inside themselves for the answers to their questions.
Picking up right where book one left off, Caleb and Isabelle have truly committed to one another. When Iz discovers she’s pregnant, her emotions are all over the place. She has just gotten to the point where her art is being noticed and she experiences what all soon to be parents wonder- how much of her life will change and how much will she have to give up for her expanding family. She is also having to deal with Caleb making decisions for the both of them without consulting her. Isabelle is independent by nature and she is beginning to feel as if her choices are being taken from her.
Caleb adores Iz but you can see he still has abandonment issues and this shows in his thoughts and actions. He’s a provider and a protector. Her pregnancy is a God send for him because in his mind, it further strengthens the ties that already bind them together and assures him to some extent that she can never leave him.
Told in alternating POVs, we are able to see their thoughts as their worlds begin to shatter. Ryan deepens the characterizations of Caleb and Iz; showing them as individuals; and allowing us to see the fear that traps them and the risks they are each willing to take to be free. A pattern begins to form, cluing the reader into the underlying issues that were swept aside and are now demanding to be heard.
This is not your typical MC romance story. Thought the MC features a larger more action packed role in this sequel, it is still one of many elements that has chipped away at this relationship. The strong emotional base leaves the reader with a heavy heart as we watch our couple try to understand what went wrong in order to move forward. Especially Caleb. He learns a very hard lesson in here as he begins to see the long term damage his actions have caused. While we could say his poor choices were the beginning of the end, he cannot be blamed for it all. The event that was the catalyst was merely one of many in their path towards destruction.
I really enjoyed how Ryan doesn’t give them an easy fix to their relationship. The characters have to work hard to repair the damage they each played a part in creating. It’s a time of self awareness and reflection. You can feel the anger, resentment, confusion, and hurt rolling off of them but they both realize that until they are happy with themselves, they’ll never be happy together. The emotional and mental baggage that each carry is finally out in the open and the author allows that to happen in a realistic manner. It’s painful as you watch these two struggle to find their way back to themselves and each other.
All in all, I enjoyed this contemporary romance saga. It is an easy read that manages to capture the bittersweet pinch of love and loss without indulging in ridiculous melodrama or over saturated purple prose. I did feel at times the dual narrative slowed down the story. Being privy to every thought and action is nice but very time-consuming. I also found one particular scene between Caleb and the MC a little unbelievable.
Regardless, Carry You Home maintained it’s feel good theme, even with the emotional theme, as you watch this couple overcome adversity and learn that sometimes you have to lose everything in order to appreciate what you had.
Redemption of a character isn’t an easy task. Especially if the author did an exceptional job of convincing the reader that the character in question was nothing more than as presented. Madlyn Robicheaux is such a character. In book one of this series, Sweetened With A Kiss, Callihan introduced us to Madlyn and made sure we knew she was the villain of the storyline and we would despise her. And we did. She belittled her dead fiancee’s sister, Jen, convincing her that the love of her life only felt pity for her and wanted her for her money. She helped her grandfather kidnap, drug, and then try to have the Jen’s marriage annulled so they could gain control over her fortune. She has maneuvered, schemed, lied, and if all else failed, crushed her opponents.
But as the old saying goes, there are three sides to every story. Your side, their side, and the truth. And Callihan is here to show us the truth of Madlyn Robicheaux- The Red Queen. With a lot of help from the oh so sexy Jared Marshall.
The Fall of the Red Queen is a romance contemporary drenched in heartbreak and pain that blows apart the preconceived notions that have been built by the first two books. A story of love, hope, redemption, and second chances. I highly recommend reading the first two books of the series, at least –Sweetened With A Kiss-as it provides the backstory to the events taking place in here and offers an interesting contrast to the characters we thought we knew to what we are learning now. The long game that Callihan has been creating is finally coming to an end with some explosive revelations. All the pain, sorrow, and cruelty the Red Queen has caused can be summed in one word…love.
“Emotion was a weakness he’d exploit in a heartbeat.”
Madlyn had her life all planned out at age nineteen until tragedy takes everything from her. From that day on, she has be forced to make difficult choices; choices that could spell life or death for people she loves. And every time she is forced to choose, she loses another piece of her soul. As a mother, I fully understand the emotions that have guided Madlyn. I would do anything for my daughter, even if it meant burning the world down around me. And while I fervently wished Madlyn would have had someone to lean on in the past, I’m so glad that Jared finally arrives to help.
“She’s been happy once. She didn’t expect to be or want to be again.”
Jared has always had it pretty easy. As the baby of the family, his every wish has been granted. From his music to his baking, Jared has been free to pursue his dreams up to a certain point. With his father slowly removing himself from the family law practice, Jared is suppose to come on board and help his brother Grant…unless he can convince Madlyn to take his place. Then he will be free to live his life as he chooses.
“Be a good messenger boy. Go back and tell your daddy I said no.”
Let the games begin!
The chemistry between Madlyn and Jared zings off the pages from their first meeting. Jared starts out poking and prodding Madlyn, wanting to see what’s beneath her icy exterior. The result is a hot fiery sparks that nip your fingers as we watch their insults turn to foreplay and the resulting passion take them both out of their comfort zones. Jared never expected to actually be attracted to her but the die is cast and the couple embarks on a journey that will leave them all a little battered and bloody when all is said and done.
“Don’t fuck with me, Madlyn.”
“But I want to so very much.”
Well matched in crucial ways; they are both victims of family ambitions and feel forced to push aside their own dreams in order to maintain the peace, it’s their contrasts that intrigue the reader. Tattooed & pierced Jared brings laughter and fun into the straight-laced & tightly buttoned up Madlyn’s life, something that has been sorely lacking. She feels so undeserving of it all and the lengths she has gone to punish herself is heartbreaking. Madlyn in return doesn’t put Jared in a box and sees the intelligence and hard worker beneath his laissez-faire exterior.
I loved that Jared doesn’t allow his personal feelings over past events to completely color his perceptions of Madlyn. He is a perceptive man and he sees the chinks in her armor. He pushes her to reveal more of herself, with each interaction and both suffers and marvels over her strength and perseverance. Even when she pushes him away, he’s always there for her.
“Tell me you’re not trying to save me.”
“I don’t want to save you. I don’t want to change you. You’re perfect”
The story flows at a steady pace, spilling the past and the present from Madlyn’s eyes so we understand exactly what happened 10 years ago and why Madlyn did what she did. My heart broke, I won’t lie. I had some suspicions but seeing it all spelled out in black and white was still shocking. As Madlyn and Jared work through their attraction, Madlyn is still maneuvering behind the scenes and gearing up for the final battle. Lush revealing dialogue helps to blend the romance with the conflict, making sure neither is overpowered or regulated to the corner.
While there were some odd phrases that didn’t come across as I think the author intended and sometimes the character changes weren’t always crystal clear, the story was what I had hoped for and more. Callihan not only made me understand Madlyn but completely won me over to her side. She sacrificed everything for love and finally won her redemption.
This anthology is perfect for new to erotic romance readers looking for samples to well established fans looking for a quick fix or new to them authors. Most of these stories is based on a previous, ongoing, or just starting out series which has made my (Tori’s) TBR list a little longer. These quick, short, erotic niblets hit the spot as we see all manner of kink from m/f/m and f/f, virginity auctions and incest, and new love and second chance love. I have not read the entire anthology, rather picked a few to highlight that I enjoyed.
Sole by Alessandra Torre. Torre give us a small peek into the life of the Hollywood cinderella couple we met in her best selling Hollywood Dirt-Cole and Summer Mastsen. Not as sexually explicit as the rest of the stories, Torres brings plenty of laughter and love as Cole and Summer get ready for their three-year old’s birthday party. From chickens getting swimming lessons to Hollywood’s top elite learning to slip and slide, Torres shows us Hollywood’s ‘it” couple is still going strong both in their love and marriage.
Heartbreak by Skye Warren is a dark romance that prequels Better When It Hurts. Those who read BWIH knows Blue was unbelievably angry with Hannah and sought to punish her for what he deemed was the ultimate betrayal though his never ending love for her tempers that anger and transforms it into a sexual odyssey of pain and pleasure. Thought provoking and tinged with sorrow, readers will see the reasons for what Hannah did and understand that sometimes the only way to save someone you love is to let them go. An emotional short that tears at your heart.
Naughty Wishes by Sarah Castille. A husband surprises his wife of 15 years with a special birthday present but can he tamper down his dominance to ensure her needs come first. While I enjoyed the fact this sexy romance with it’s scorching hot menage scene was between an older married couple, the best part of the story for me was the communication between the husband and wife and the wife’s nervousness over the whole situation. Her internal dialogue has me giggling as she struggles to accept the idea of bringing another man into their bed with normal thoughts about her body image, her dental hygiene, and her dog’s perchance for crotches. A fun lighthearted story that celebrates new beginnings.
Sympathy for the Devil by Cynthia Rayne is a quick intense story about a woman who escapes her abusive husband only to be found by the devil himself. A single moment of time is captured when fear, loneliness, and the unmistakable bond of a mother’s love all blend together into an emotion acted upon only to be made a memory never to be spoken of again. The eroticism isn’t a physical deed but rather more the action of a hit man with a blood stained soul who seizes a single chance of redemption. An interesting story that captured my attention though it left me wanting more.
Decadent Knights by Julia Skyes A young woman is rescued from a sadistic dom only to stay trapped in the nightmare she lived for two years. Her rescuer and new master is determined to free her from her prison with the help of a friend. This dark erotic romance is ripe with tension, love, sorrow, and hope as we watch a women struggle to find her identity after being a victim of sexual abuse. Her master sets up an incredibly hot menage scene in order to show her that the scars she wears are not brands of shame but badges of courage. Their full story can be read in Knight Impossible, #4.
Fans will love Bounty, the seventh installment in Ashley’s Mountain Man series and Deke Hightower’s story. Chalked full of all the things thatGRADE: B
Fans will love Bounty, the seventh installment in Ashley’s Mountain Man series and Deke Hightower’s story. Chalked full of all the things that drew me to this series in the beginning, I was more than pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Bounty. The slow burning romance was very sweet and sexy but this story shines as a contemporary too. Emotionally gratifying with Ashley’s signature humor, camaraderie, strong family dynamics, and engaging characterizations. Cameos by previous beloved characters in the series are plentiful. Of course, no Ashley story is complete without some H/h antagonism, high octane sexual tension, and a small suspenseful subplot. Deke and Justice are another Ashley couple fans will love.
The premise of Desrochers’s Outside the Lines is intriguing. The children of a mob boss are forced into WITSEC after their father is sent to prison anThe premise of Desrochers’s Outside the Lines is intriguing. The children of a mob boss are forced into WITSEC after their father is sent to prison and turns state evidence. Unfortunately by the 35% mark I couldn’t go on anymore. Up to that point we are submerged in the mundane with no action, little forward movement, and repeated dialogue from by hero about how they ended up in this situation and how he is to blame for it all. The flow was sluggish and the character development almost nonexistent. I did enjoy meeting the heroine-she seemed to develop far quicker than the hero and his siblings. Desrochers tries to maintain the mystery and suspense that surrounds mafia stories by giving little away (hence the repeated scenes) but the resulting lack of action only made it boring and unappealing.DNF review to come...more
Favorite Quote: “I did what I wanted to do from the very beginning.”
Irish has hovered on the edges of this series since book one. We don’t know much about him beyond being an enforcer for the Wind Dragons but we do know might get us killed. When he meets a sexy redhead at the local watering hole, he turns on the charm only to find himself firmly rebuffed. Lucky for him though, this unknown beauty leaves a little of herself behind…now all he has to do is wait for her to show back up and she’ll be all his.
Valentina just wants to stop hiding and live her life. Tired from running from an abusive ex boyfriend-she’s not looking for another bad boy-but Irish proves beneath his dark exterior lies a heart of gold. As Valentina spend more time with Irish and his motorcycle club (MC), she begins to finally feel safe and happy. But her ex isn’t going to give her up without a fight and he’s willing to take out everyone to get her back.
I’ll admit when I first received Dirty Ride in the mail, I thought maybe Pocket Star was now sending sample galleys because the book was so tiny *laugh* When asked to review, I hadn’t realised it was a novella. Any misgivings were quickly overcome as Fernando builds a steamy, sexy, suspenseful full-bodied story that engages fully despite the short length. Dynamic characters, solid background, and a fast flowing pace brings the plotline and romance together in a believable fashion.
Irish and Tina are well-developed characters whose chemistry clicked instantly for me. Irish’s particular brand of alpha dominance is born of a protective nature so he doesn’t come across as obstinate or unbendable as some of the other members. He’s a tarnished white knight and exactly what Tina needs. Tina is his perfect match with her strong will, fearless nature, and ability to handle any situation.
“I’ve been through a lot and I know how to handle everything, including you. It’s worked up until now.”
“Guess I’m smarter than other men.”
“Or maybe other men can take a hint…which would make them smarter.”
“You callin’ me stupid, darlin’?”
“I’m not calling you anything. But if the shoe fits, feel free to wear it.”
The suspense plot blends well with the romance; interweaving as Fernando amps up the danger and intrigue that dances along the edges. Fernando adds fuel to the fire with her explicit passion filled sex scenes. Irish and Tina’s connection is further strengthened by their dialogue which flows effortlessly with plenty wit and humor. Plenty of familiar faces of the club are seen as Irish pushes for the MC’s protection of Tina. Though the story ends a little abrupt with the climatic resolution of Tina’s stalker, Fernando leaves enough clues to assure us that this won’t be the last time we see this couple.
Dirty Ride was a fantastic peek back into this world and I cannot wait for the next full-length story-Rake’s Redemption. I have a feeling his comeuppance will be one for the books. ...more
Ben Knight has been itching to find his own happily ever after as he watches his friends succumb to love, marriage, and babies. When a dear friend tells him his soul mate is coming and he’s already met her before, he’s shocked when he is called to the scene of a crime and runs into Kate Morrison; a social worker he had an interlude with a few years ago.
Kate Morrison is reeling from the sudden deaths of her sister, Margo and Margo’s fiance, Donald. Made to look like a suicide/murder, Kate is convinced there was foul play involved and she knows exactly who it was. Now the sole guardian of their young son, Alex, Kate vows to not stop until their murderer(s) are brought to justice.
To make matters worse, Donald’s ex-wife and son are not only contesting the will, but trying to get custody of Alex and his trust. Kate and Ben will have to learn to trust one if they want a chance to explore their mutual attraction before the killer strikes again.
Everything She Wanted in the fifth installment in Jennifer Ryan’s Hunted series. Easily read as part of the series or as a standalone, this installment centers around Ben Knight whom we met in Saved by the Rancher. Ryan begins her story in a rather unusual fashion, choosing to negate the mystery by showing us the crime, the identity of the killer, and the reasons behind the murders right off the bat. Rather than use the mystery as a separate entity, Ryan instead chooses to essentially spoil that aspect and focus instead on the romance and lets the police investigate off scene; giving our protagonists ample time to build a relationship.
Heavily character driven, Ryan sets the scene and immediately introduces us to our protagonists-Ben Knight and Kate Morrison. Steady pacing keeps us firmly moving along as Ryan slowly combines some action and drama with a steamy chemistry drenched romance. As we already know the where, when, why, and how…we now watch as the hero and heroine (along with some friends) do everything possible to bring the killer to justice.
Ben and Kate are perfectly matched. Both are intelligent, proactive, protective warriors who champion the underdog and their jobs reflect this- Ben’s an attorney who helps battered women and children and Kate is a social worker who works with disadvantaged children. I loved the fierceness in this couple both in their personal and professional lives. Kate steals the show though with her strength and independence. This is no mary sue waiting for a white knight to save her. She is more than able to save herself and proves it repeatedly. Having rose above her own traumatic childhood, she now does everything possible to make sure other children aren’t ‘tossed’ away like she was.
The romance reveals slowly but firmly with the right amount of sexual and emotional tension. I appreciated that Ryan doesn’t make this an ‘insta love’ connection. Though the chemistry is well established from their first time seeing each other again, she uses Ben and Kate’s past to push past the awkward meeting stage, giving them a base on which to deepen their acquaintance and move into something deeper and more meaningful.
A cast of familiar and new faces dot the landscape; facilitating subplots and helping to see justice served. Characters from previous books all step in to offer advice and guidance; giving Ben and Kate the family they both desperately crave. A plethora of children are present, used as strong plot devices to not only draw out Ben and Kate’s maternal instincts but to also help cement the growing relationship between them.
Some twists and turns keeps you engaged though I found my attention waning at times because I knew what the end result would be even if I wasn’t sure how it would all go down. The villain(s) of the piece weren’t developed enough to hold my attention on their own, especially since I already knew what they had done. The anticipation and suspense were missing for me so the overall appeal remained low-key.
Everything She Wanted is a nice escape from the everyday world with a little bit of everything to appeal to the masses but if you’re looking for a high impact romantic suspense that will keep you guessing till the end, this isn’t it.