Favorite Quote: “I’m going to tell you every filthy fucking thing I want to do with you and to you. Because I only know what gets you off. I want to learn what turns you on.”
Trix escaped Sector Five four years ago, allowing everyone there to believe she was dead. Now living in Sector Four and officially an O’Kane, Trix is clean with a new name, a new family, and the life she has always wanted. Except for missing the man she left behind in Sector Five, Trix is the happiest she’s ever been. When she is kidnapped in broad daylight, she is shocked to find herself back in Sector Five and face to face with the one man she never stopped loving.
Finn has been slowly killing himself everyday since Trix disappeared. Believing Trix is dead, all Finn wants to do is annihilate Sector Five and then find a place to finally let it all go. When he is called into his boss’s office and sees Trix, he vows he will do everything he can to get her back home safe and sound. Easier said than done though when politics places a bounty on both their heads.
Finn knows getting Trix home will be the easy part. Leaving her there and having to return to Sector Five may drive the final nail in his coffin. As Finn and Trix fight their way to the O’Kanes and safety, they also have deal with the blazing addiction that has roared back up between them. An addiction neither of them managed to kick in their time apart. With a sector war brewing on the horizon, Finn and Trix are once again caught in the crossfire and this time neither may make it out alive.
I am a huge fan of Kit Rocha (aka Moira Rogers) and I even have the coffee mug, flask, and temporary tattoos to prove it. The Beyond series is pure erotic decadence layered in sex, violence, and freedom as Rocha slowly evolves and expands their post-apocalyptic world and the people who inhabit it. Action packed with intriguing well plotted storylines and an ongoing arc that takes this erotic dystopian romance from common place to extraordinaire in both writing and presentation. This series celebrates the choice of freedom in all aspects of life. A much needed voice in our dodgy political climate of late. Strongly character driven, Rocha builds strong, intelligent, loyal men and women who promote and embrace the idea that your lifestyle and choices are nothing to be ashamed of. Ménages, orgies, exhibition, voyeurism, and some erotic BDSM all balance well with the main conflict(s).
The strong romantic element in this series continues to surprise me. The underlying premise of sexual promiscuity should overpower it but in reality it only reinforces the multiple layers of love and respect that exists between everyone. The men in here are alpha times infinity but Rocha digs beneath their barriers and shows us gentle, sexy, protective men who can treasure and protect their friends, family, and lovers without crushing their spirit. There is a strong theme of equality between the sexes. Even in the rare D/s scenes, you understand exactly what the term “power in the submission” means. It is a gift and it’s treated accordingly.
The heart of the story is the second chance romance between Trix and Finn. A sexually raw and heart wrenching journey that forces our protagonists to view and forgive the actions of their past in order to have the future they want. In the past, their times together were a drug fueled coupling that occurred under a heavy layer of fear and distrust. Both lived with the knowledge that everyday could be their last. Each did what had to be done in order to survive and still suffer from the shame of past decisions. Especially Finn. As Sector Five’s enforcer, he was tasked with some incredibly vile acts that have left a permanent stain on his soul. Seeing Trix alive and healthy only compounds his feelings of guilt and shame that he wasn’t able to get her out sooner. Also, a small part of him fears he may have unintentionally kept her there with him for his own selfish needs.
He hadn’t saved Trix’s life. She’d saved her own.
Finn also has to deal with the general distrust from Sector Four. Though most know the condition Trix was in when she was found, no one knows the whole story. To the O’Kane’s, Finn is the enemy. In their love and concern for Trix, Finn is regarded with suspicion and in some cases, outright hatred. Finn deals with it; accepting and welcoming it as penance for his crimes. Even with the seriousness of the conflict, Rocha tosses in some humor that helps to combat the somber tone of the story. While Trix understands her family’s reluctance to accept Finn, she doesn’t hesitate to slap back when their concern becomes a little too intrusive.
“This is horse shit.” She tossed a glare over her shoulder at Jasper as she dug a lace-edged handkerchief from her pocket. “The next time you’re giving it to Noelle in some dark corner somewhere, I’m going to come kick you in the balls. See how you like the interruption.”
Poor Jasper. *giggle*
The chemistry between Trix and Finn is a heady explosive mixture of lust, love, and guilt, all compounded by the danger they are in. Their attraction to one another was never in doubt but the reasons for it are. Trix fears falling back into their old trap but Finn pushes to show her that they have both grown from their time apart and this second chance is their reward.
Four years and a world of distance hadn’t stopped them from winding up right here at this very moment. He’d thought she was dead, and that hadn’t stopped him from picking her up when she’d stumbled back into his life.
Nothing would stop him, and she needed to hear it so badly that her throat ached. “Say it,” she whispered against his skin. “Just once.”
“I’m not going anywhere, “he promised. Low and rough. “I’ll never leave you.”
The ongoing arc picks up where it left off in book four and keeps expanding, adding new subplots and characters to an already volatile mix. We glean more knowledge from other sectors and the men/women who rule them along with clues towards what looks to be a glorious bloody finale. Plenty of time is spent with previous characters further reinforcing the concept that Sector Four is one big family and everyone is in everyone’s business. I always enjoy seeing how past heroes and heroines are getting along and am pleased when authors give us peeks back into their lives, allowing us to experience the evolution of their characterization in relation to the storylines.
The luxury of being a simple bootlegger was long gone. From now on, Dallas O’Kane was a man preparing for war–and not the messy-but-confined brutality of a sector war. In his gut, he knew where the real danger lay.
Kit Rocha’s Beyond series is my addiction and I can’t wait for my next fix.
A single event in the small town of Madison forced the disappearance of a girl and boy. Years later, a body is found that blows open a secret so darkA single event in the small town of Madison forced the disappearance of a girl and boy. Years later, a body is found that blows open a secret so dark and wicked, the town isn’t sure it will ever recover. A young women knows the time has come for her to come home and let the town know exactly what happen that fateful night. Sweeter Than Sin is a dark and gritty romance suspense that brings together two addicts whose childhood ties are buried beneath a twisted sea of lies, betrayal, and deception. Shiloh Walker further divulges into the arc, expanding the scope and breath of the secrets this town has hidden for years. Your heart will break for the pain and agony some have experienced though Walker offers hope to readers that the evil has been identified and being dealt with accordingly. Emotional turmoil and angst are the basis on which a tragic romance is built. Two people unable to let go of the past have risen from their self inflicted penance to find one another when their need is greatest. Twists and turns will shock readers as Walker begins to put unravel the ties that bound this town to silence and the truth begins to pour out. I recommend reading the first in this series as the arc n on going and events in book two are contingent on the events in book one-Deeper Than Need. ...more
Fans of Nalini Singh’s dark and sensuous Guild Hunters series have waited impatiently for Ashwini and Janiver’s story. We were briefly introd4.5 stars
Fans of Nalini Singh’s dark and sensuous Guild Hunters series have waited impatiently for Ashwini and Janiver’s story. We were briefly introduced to them in the Angel’s Pawn novella, where we learned that their “frenemy” status belays a deep attraction played out in a continuous game of catch me if you can. Ash, a hunter for the Guild, has spent years hunting Janiver, a sexy infuriating vampire who often escapes his contract with his master just to get Ash to chase him. Singh builds their relationship slowly throughout the series, giving us teasing little clues as to their whereabouts and their growing feelings for one another.
“Stay with me. I’ll show you things that’ll make you laugh in delight, scream in passion, cry for the sheer joy of it.” (Angel’s Pawn)
One of the most compelling aspects of this series is the complex and in-depth characterization of the players that grows as the series does. Violence permeates the atmosphere, as all manners of supernatural beings and humans fight for supremacy in a world that is essentially ruled by archangels, beings of unimaginable power who only grow stronger in their inconceivable life spans.
Each book looks deep into the protagonists' state of mind (and world) to draw out a complicated array of emotions that humanize them, at least to some extent. Not an easy feat when many of them are hundreds, if not thousands of years old.
Favorite Quote: “Who has two thumbs and just came twice? This girl. Holy crap.”
Robin was the quintessential party girl until a onOriginally posted at
Favorite Quote: “Who has two thumbs and just came twice? This girl. Holy crap.”
Robin was the quintessential party girl until a one night stand throws her for a loop. Disgusted with herself, she has stopped drinking, stopped partying, and is looking to complete her next semester from her parents house. She doesn’t want to be “that girl” and hates that she can’t even talk to her friends about it.
Phoenix just got out of jail; broke and homeless. Crashing at his cousins’ house, he knows he needs to get a job and get out. When he meets Robin, he is instantly bowled over by how sweet and talented she is. She is the girl he always wanted but never thought he was good enough for.
As Phoenix and Robin spend more time together, Phoenix sees she is carrying a huge secret but hesitates to push her. When their pasts collide, neither are prepared for the explosive aftermath.
Believe is the third book in Erin McCarthy’s True Believers series. A new adult series that revolves around a group of friends and their issues with drugs, alcohol, and relationships. In Believe we meet Robin and Phoenix. Robin, one of Jessica’s (Sweet) and Rory’s (True) best friends, has been noticeably absent all summer. When she sleeps with her best friend’s boyfriend at the end of school, she undergoes a complete transformation and avoids everything and everybody who could trigger a relapse. Three months later, she meets Phoenix. Phoenix, Riley and Tyler’s cousin, has just gotten out of jail after a six month stint. He has anger issues and this time they landed him in jail. While he isn’t the perfect guy for her, there is a connection between them that allows them both to forget their pain and disgust for awhile.
Entertaining and emotionally satisfying, Believe doesn’t have quite the external drama the first two books had. While there is some, the conflict here is more internalized. Robin and Phoenix have issues that affect their views of themselves. McCarty’s signature clean writing style and a easy to follow storyline(s) makes it incredibly easy to become involved in this book. Heavily character driven, we easily fall in love with our hero and heroine from their first meeting.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” “What?” I almost dropped my paintbrush. “No. Why?” His phone slid across the table toward me. “Then give me your number.” “Why?” I said again, which was a totally moronic thing to say. But I didn’t get any vibe he even liked me, let alone was interested in me. For the first time, I saw the glimmer of a smile on his face. The corner of his mouth lifted slightly before he controlled it again. “Why do you think?” For a split second, I felt like myself, and I said the first thing that popped into my head. “So you can send me honey badger videos?” I joked, because it seemed like a safer response. He was just out of prison, and he had just broken up with his girlfriend ten minutes earlier. So not a good idea to get involved with him. I wasn’t up for dating anyone, let alone him. “Yes. And kitten memes.” “Well, in that case.”
McCarthy does a nice job of characterizing Robin and Phoenix as individuals and as a couple. Both protagonists are easy to sympathize with. Phoenix’s childhood involved a co dependant mother whose next fix was more important than taking care of her child. Robin, whose childhood was much better though she has a critical grandmother whose comments are nasty; uses parties and drinking to avoid dealing with her body issues and to boost her self confidence. Both learn that they are worth far more than their face value. The dual POVs enables us to see what each are feeling and thinking at pivotal moments. McCarthy takes their relationship slow, allowing them time to get to know one another and form a trust bond that supercedes their past behavior.
“I want you to remember that forever. Because I will.”
Though I felt the romance happened fast-insta love is never an easy sell-a part of me understood their need to cling to one another. Neither has ever had a relationship that didn’t involve some pretending on both their ends. No game playing and prime communication between our couple made the story more enjoyable in my eyes. The sexual scenes are bittersweet and sexy. The storyline and romance blend together effortlessly, elevating each other with a few plot twists to add to the overall tension.
We see plenty of past characters-Jess, Riley, Rory, and Tyler. I enjoyed their interaction and the outside observations and influence they bring. Seeing where they were at in their relationships and the hints given towards the future assures us they are all working hard towards their HEA. We also see a deviation from the past trope of the bad boy boyfriend the parents hate. Phoenix’s mom and Robin’s parents are rarely seen and when they are, they are there only in a supportive role.. Although, we do see the love/hate dynamics that affected the first book, True. Phoenix loves his mother but realises early on he can’t protect her from herself anymore.
The climatic moment that blows everything wide open isn’t so much a shocker as it is sad. Robin pays a heavy price for her drinking problem but it also frees her to move on with her life. Her guilt was like an albatross hanging from her neck. She may have lost a friend but she gained her sense of self back. The subplot involving Phoenix and his troubles seemed to come out of left field and resolved rather quickly. It didn’t really served a purpose.
While I enjoyed the story overall, I did have a few issues with it. One, Robin’s grandmother. I don’t subscribe to the notion that advanced age allows you to be cruel and I was surprised this wasn’t explored further.
Two, Jessica. I liked her well enough in True and Sweet but she became extremely judgemental in here and I was confused where this stemmed from. She makes noises about Robin leaving their room mate, Kylie, high and dry when Jessica does the same thing. She comes off jealous of Phoenix and I wasn’t buying the custody battle excuse. She didn’t want to share her new found family and it showed. Does this mean no relatives of the boys can ever come to visit? She’s also extra harsh with Robin after the big reveal; even after seeing evidence that it wasn’t all Robin’s fault.
Three, Robin blacked out from too much alcohol and woke up in bed with Nathan. She remembers basically nothing. It was essentially date rape and that aspect is never addressed.
Regardless of my misgivings, Believe is a sweet new adult love story that takes us journey of friendship, self discovery, forgiveness, and love. McCarthy continues to entertain with the third installment of True Believers series. She also includes a brief excerpt from book four, Shatter, which releases in June 17, 2014.
Mandi: A lot of things worked for me in this book, and a couple of things didn’t but overall I really enjoyed this one. This time Samantha Young gives us a lighter, less broody hero in Nate. When he was eighteen his one true love died of cancer, and now many years later he is still hung up on that relationship. He sleeps around…a lot…but never commits because he is still in love with Alana. Included in his group of friends (who are those from previous books – Braden and Joss, Cam and Jo) is Olivia, a librarian who is best friends with him. They’ve never crossed the romance line. Olivia’s mom was really sick when she was in her prime dating twenties, so now she feels awkward and embarrassed around men. She has no confidence when it comes to flirting or dating so she turns to Nate for help. She asks him to teach her how to flirt, kiss and eventually have sex. While I usually roll my eyes at this trope, I think it works really well in this book. The scenes become quite intense and emotional. Tori, do you feel the same way?
Tori: I agree wholeheartedly. While the first two installments were decidedly more emotional and darker, this one was lighter; in both the storyline and the characterization. Olivia and Nate were fun-as individuals and as a couple. I loved their “Which would you…” game. They had wonderful dynamics and dialogue. Olivia’s inner rants were hilarious and Nate’s cocky bad boy attitude was acceptable because you could see from the beginning he cared for Olivia. I admit I had some problems with Nate’s fears concerning attachment and commitment. It was unbelievable for me. I’ve always been vocal that pining for someone for 10 years is a bit ridiculous. I had a problem with Joss for the same reasons. The past can shape your life but when it takes it over, I find it hard to believe you can’t move on. I did enjoy how Nate and Olivia react to one another once they decide to carry out Olivia’s plan. Their chemistry almost made my e reader combust. There is a good balance between the physical and emotional. Speaking of Joss, is it just me or is she getting more irritating? lol
Mandi: First Nate – I had a hard time believing he would be SO caught up in a dead past love, especially when it took place when he was so young. Maybe I just needed more about that story to make it stick. I can see Nate a player, but not so forlorn over the past relationship.
Tori: Yes, perhaps if we had seen that relationship, it would have been easier to buy into Nate’s reasons. As it was, I didn’t see Nate pining for anyone. It felt like an excuse.
Mandi: Now Joss – I’m so not a fan of Joss. I guess I liked her in book one but man she is prickly. I’ll give credit to the author – she sure writes her consistently. But if she wasn’t in anymore books I’d be fine with that. Speaking of supporting characters, I just love the group Nate and Olivia hang out with. Cam, Jo, Braden, Joss *mutters*, and it looks like we get Hannah’s book next. I like that this author continues the story of her previous characters and that we get to see the hero and heroine hang out with friends, not just with each other. It feels more like a full, well rounded story.
Tori: I don’t mind prickly but Joss has always felt like a bit of drama queen to me. As in, “Let me make it all about ME…” But yes, kudos to Young for making her constantly irritating. :P Seeing a strong presence of previous characters adds a nice flow to the arc. We aren’t left wondering what everyone else is up to. I really liked that Olivia and Nate had such supporting parents. Olivia’s dad and both of Nate’s parents maintained a strong presence in their lives which helped to guide them over the hurdles they encountered in their relationship. I am looking forward to Alex and E’s wedding and of course, Hannah’s story. Poor Hannah. lol She will have a rough time falling in love with all the protective males in her future. Also looking forward to Cole’s story. Who IS his mysterious friend and why can’t they be together?
Let’s talk about the lurrrrvvveee scenes. Woo wee. Nate may not have being in a relationship down pat but he certainly has the physical parts well covered. I enjoyed watching him learn right along with Olivia. Some of their scenes left me feeling a bit… flushed.
Mandi: Yes, the love scenes are so intense in this one. For as laid back and flirty as Nate is, he is one sexy beast. I love how he builds up Olivia’s confidence in the bedroom. I really, really wish we had gotten his point of view in this book. I needed to be in his head at times, and I was disappointed that we miss that. I feel as though only having Olivia’s point of view didn’t work for me as well as in the previous books.
Overall, I think this is a sexy book and Samantha Young continues to write well done contemporary romance.
Tori: Agree. This book wasn’t just Olivia finding her groove, but also Nate making peace with the past and moving forward. I too would have like his POV. It felt a little unbalanced as though one main character was mute. I too would have loved being in his head, especially after his penis head moment.
Samantha Young’s winning streak continues with Before Jamaica Lane and I look forward to reading more from her. Her enchanting couples and delicious romances make her books an auto buy for this reader.
Tori’s Favorite Quotes: "Don’t hide from me." He bent his head to whisper over my lips. "Ever."
" I like him, but I sound like Rain Man every time I try to talk to him." Nate made a choking noise in the back of his throat. "Are you laughing?" He cleared it and answered shakily, "Never." He was so laughing.
Mandi’s Favorite Quotes: “It’s a manwhore miracle.”
“My mum always said if you can’t say something nice, say something memorable.”...more
Favorite Quote: When a woman says she fine, an intelligent man runs in the opposite direction.
Ex Nex Agent William Thorne was violently altered mentally and physically when he risked his life to save his best friend. Slowly going insane by the changes affecting him, William knows he must find Holly Evernight before he loses his grip on reality forever.
People are trying to kill SOS agent Holly Evernight and she has every reason to believe William Thorne is one of them. After all, it’s her invention that is slowly killing him. When he confronts her at home, Holly pushes aside her fear and strikes a bargain with him. She will help heal him if he will protect her from the assassins who are stalking her.
William agrees as her touch seems to soothe the madness within him. But someone wants Holly dead and if William doesn’t figure out who it is, he will lose his only hope at salvation.
Evernight, the fifth book in Callihan’s dark and thrilling Darkest London series, drops us back down the rabbit hole from the first page. As this book references and expands upon events that happened in book four, Shadowdance, I wouldn’t recommend starting the series here.
Romance is the key element on which this series is built while the the fantasy aspects play hard and fast. Outstanding world building and the dynamic characters breathe life in this series. Callihan keeps the main premise of the arc intact while she expertly injects new subplots; heightening the drama and suspense as she slowly begins to pull the individual pieces together towards the series finale.
The originality of her characters and their individual stories is what keeps me hooked. There are no clear cut good and bad and we are often shown that some feel the means justify the end. The lines between good and evil are blurred; giving credence to the knowledge that sometimes heroes and villains are only separated by a series of degrees. Smooth writing, fast pacing, and engaging dialogue keeps you on your toes to the very end. Multiple sub plots are rich in subterfuge and adventure as you submerge yourself into the decadent and dangerous lives of the amazing individuals who exist in here.
William and Holly’s story started from tragedy in Shadowdance and continues on as such in here. Both used as pawns in a brewing supernatural war that is larger and more ominous than we have been led to believe. Holly was kidnapped and forced to place one of her inventions, a mechanical heart, in William at the instruction of an insane man. This invention is slowly killing William and keeps in him excruciating pain. This places Holly and William at direct odds because William thought Holly was a willing participant in his torture and now he feels she must pay him his pound of flesh.
When they ripped out his heart, and he had finally succumbed to blissful oblivion, he held on to one thing: his hatred of his tormentor and the one with the angel’s face and devil’s mind. Evernight.
A majority of the book focuses on Holly and William’s relationship. William blames Holly for his torture yet he must stay with in her reach in order to alleviate his pain and madness. Holly also feels responsible for his torture and has chosen to separate herself from the world out of penance and fear. Holly’s and William’s chemistry sparks white lightning from their first scene. Forced to work together, they slowly learn more about one another and begin to form a bond that deepens the more time they spend together. William’s sexual innuendos and flamboyant nature is the perfect foil for Holly’s more reserved and sardonic nature; adding humor in this otherwise somber tale of betrayal and deception.
“Let me see if I have this correctly,” he said struggling not to crow, “you are going to rub your hands all over my body…” -she narrowed her eyes in distaste, which only made him grin reach epic proportions- “slowly and thoroughly-”
“Really Mr. Thorne.”
“While my part in it is to lie here and take it?” His cheeks ached from smiling. “Is that the plan?”
Callihan does an epic job of blending the suspense of the story with the emotional journey of William and Holly. Non stop action speeds the story along as you frantically absorb all the nuances and shifts. The plot was remarkable in it’s elements and I found myself riveted as the story slowly revealed itself. Callihan’s clear and concise writing leaves little confusion with the convoluted and multi-layered storyline. With each scene we watch William and Holly face their demons and overcome internal obstacles while dealing with external factors that try to stop them. Neither plot nor romance is sacrificed. They balance and complement each other through the entire arc; merging together towards the end.
“I’ll never be truly safe.”
“None of us are. It is a sacrifice to the life we choose. That does not mean we must live it in fear.”
Engaging word play creates a story you cannot put down. The supporting characters are intense, well developed, and intertwine with our protagonists to give us a rich, full bodied story. Much that has been played out behind the scenes comes into the light. Everyone here has an agenda and doesn’t always play by the rules. There are plenty in here to love and hate with abundance. We learn much more about Adam; his particular story has been waiting to be told since he was first introduced, and the additional powerful supernatural beings who are finally making themselves known. Alliances are made as enemies come out of the dark, threatening the well being of all those involved.
As we headed towards the ending I found myself gripped with tension. Callihan plays it close to the vest. The ending is a phenomenal mixture of hope and despair; wrapping up the main conflict and introducing new pathways for the arc to follow. Once again Callihan leaves me both satisfied and wanting more. Evernight contains the perfect balance of action, suspense, intrigue, and romance that makes this series a must read for all noir PNR aficionados.
Callie Brown is a high blood. An orphan whose parents left her at Valhalla, this gifted necromancer who is often called in to read a murder victim’s last thoughts. When she is called to a crime scene of a young woman whose death speaks of the paranormal, Callie finds her powers blocked and receives a message from a man who’s similar powers out shine hers.
Duncan O’Conner, a human cop, has seen this type of kill before and looks forward to seeing his favorite High Blood again. Though carrying alot of emotional baggage, Duncan has worked with Callie before and wants more than just a working relationship. When Duncan learns that Callie is unable to read the victim and getting threatened by an unknown High Blood, his protectiveness goes into hyperdrive and he finds himself willing to do anything to keep her safe.
Born In Blood is the start of the new paranormal suspense series by Alexandra Ivy. High bloods (humans born special paranormal abilities) live in a domed city, invisible to the human eye, called Valhalla. High bloods, considered freaks by the more prejudicial humans, are often called in to help the wholly human population when crimes are committed by other high bloods.
An interesting premise that promises an action packed PNR suspenseful storyline, a new world to explore, and unique engaging characters. Unfortunately, all this couldn’t make the book work completely for me. I was bored at times reading it. While it offers something new, it doesn’t always keep its promise. The beginning starts out incredible slow as Ivy builds the world and storyline for us. The romance takes up a considerable portion of the storyline but the action is placid. Everytime Callie and Duncan would start something, it fades to an unrelated scene. Same with the main conflict. You get plenty of scene time but just when you expect the action to start, you switch to another scene. I never got enough of one particular plotline to appreciate or become engaged with what was happening. The last quarter picks up speed but again, we are denied fully action packed scenes. Even the climactic ending to the main conflict is resolved off screen then discussed.
Regardless of my issues, there were aspects I liked. The world building is interesting. Ivy takes her time describing the political and prejudicial racism that is present in the world. I liked the symbolism behind a mystical city called Valhalla. It’s hierarchy is deceptively complex and I enjoyed meeting the various occupants whose coming stories are hinted at. Callie’s bff is a humorous force to be reckoned with and I feel for her hero. The villain and plot line develops nicely. There is an twist that comes out left field that amps the suspense, I just wish it had finished with more of a bang.
I enjoyed Duncan and Callie. Both are intelligent, loyal, nice people. Duncan has a sexy protective alpha vibe going that Callie has no problems dealing with. Likewise, Callie likes Duncan and while not submissive to him in the least, she doesn’t mind his chest beating moments. In fact, she teases him when they happen. No real heavy baggage for them to work through. Duncan into Callie and vice versa. We don’t see them from the very beginning, when they first met, so any conflict we see now is minor. The attraction is full blown from page one and the only thing left for them is acting on it. Even that is a minor hurdle for them. Lots of sexual tension and steamy chemistry. Both Callie and Duncan have their moments of insecurity that affects their lives and the job they’re on but that only serves to add a sense of realism to their character make up.
All in all, Ivy’s newest series offers a promise of exciting things to come in the future. Engaging characters and a unique world is the appeal that almost solidifies this. It has a faint superhero feel to it that is a refreshing change from the shifters/vampires that normally populate PNR. While I wasn’t completely taken with this installment, my interest is tickled enough to look towards book two, title and release date to be announced.
Favorite Quote: ”But trust me when I tell you, living in the past will bring you nothing but misery. Now is all that matters.”
Gideon Montrose has spent centuries mourning the loss of his one true love. Bound indefinitely to the Seelie King, Gideon serves without question or mercy; using his fairy powers and skill as a merciless warrior to carry out the king’s commands. When his king charges him with finding the person behind a recent rash of fairy dust thefts, Gideon obeys without question. But when he catches the culprit red handed, he can’t believe his eyes.
Known as Robin Hood back in the day, Arabella Locksley spent her days thieving from the rich and her nights in the arms of Gideon Montrose aka Little John. Having supposedly fallen to her death 500 years ago, now she’s back and with a multitude of secrets clouding her eyes and no ready answers for Gideon.
Gideon is duty bound to turn her over to his king but his heart demands answers. How is she alive? Where has she been all this time? And why did she never try to find him? As Gideon works to discover what happened so long ago, he finds himself involved in a series of mysterious thefts and deaths that all seem to lead back to Arabella.
Ever After is the fourth installment of SeRine’s Transplanted series. A series based on the premise of what would life be like if some fairy tale, nursery rhyme, and literary characters suddenly found themselves transported from fantasy to reality. Well-plotted and cast with strong and dynamic characters, Ever After is a paranormal romance filled with suspense, betrayal, dangerous antagonists, and a heavy dollop of humor and romance.
Strongly character driven, SeRine expands her world using her characters lives; adding dimension, personality, and some tongue in cheek dialogue. SeRine takes a very liberal route in the retelling of certain fairytales; giving us a modern updated version of what we all read as children. She twists the stories, giving her characters a voice to offer readers a different version of how events really transpired…directly from the source(s).
Though multiple storylines intertwine and expand, giving us a juicy mystery that is rather convoluted in it’s make up, this is still primarily Gideon’s and Arabella’s story. Gideon has been briefly mentioned in previous stories; the king’s right hand man, trusted advisor, and eventually best friend. An Unseelie warrior who is the last of his people and became bound to the man who helped destroyed them all.. Portrayed as a hard somewhat merciless man, ReSine explores Gideon’s rich backstory and we learn the events surrounding how he became bound into service and the love he lost so long ago.
Arabella’s backstory is equally heart wrenching and compelling. Intelligent, loyal, and quite spirited, Arabella has used her wits to triumph over tragedy throughout her life. Both she and Gideon are self sacrificing; willing to do whatever they can in order to help someone. You never doubt her love for Gideon, especially when you learn she has been shadowing him for years, only staying away when she saw he was in what appeared to be a serious relationship.
Second chance romance is a favorite trope of mine and SeRine does a beautiful job of setting the stage of Gideon’s and Arabella’s reunion. Even with the sparks between Arabella and Gideon instantly burning hot and bright, regardless of all the lost time between them, Gideon moves slowly, wary of Arabella and everything that seems to be happening around her. I do admit it took me awhile to like Arabella. She comes off slightly selfish in the beginning. She refuses to tell Gideon exactly what’s going on and only comes clean when he grows tired of her omissions and threatens to leave her.
I enjoyed the liberties SeRine takes with the legends of Robin Hood and Arthur Pendragon. We see plenty old and new friends; ReSine uses them to expand and wrap up some ongoing storylines from the series. The conflict and subplots are action packed and a bit nerve racking as the SeRine plays her hand close to the vest. The ending resolves itself perfectly and leaves just enough open so we have no doubts we will be seeing more of this couple and world in the future. Readers who enjoy an action packed retelling of fairy tales and the show, Once Upon A Time, are sure to enjoy SeRine’s version of “Happily Ever After.”
Favorite Quote: She felt like she’d been waiting her whole life for him, only she hadn’t realized it until the very second their gazes locked.
Trinity Ewing, a former ad exec from New York, needed a fresh start for her and her young son so she purchases a house, sight unseen, in the small town of Madison, Indiana. Once she arrives, she realizes the house needs some major repairs which leads her straight to the town handyman, Noah Benningfield.
Noah Benningfield, a former preacher turned carpenter, carries some heavy burdens that all revolve around the house that Trinity bought. Years ago, Noah’s girlfriend went into this house and never came out. The only clues to her demise were a set of bloody fingerprints left smeared across a window. Noah has blamed himself for her possible death and only in the past few years has begun to get his life back on track.
Trinity is a breath of fresh for Noah and the feeling is mutual. To Noah, Trinity is everything he has ever wanted in his life but knows that he may not be what she needs. When a skeleton is discovered in Trinity’s house, the rumors fly fast and hard and Noah finds himself caught between the past and present.
As the secrets of this small town begins to spill out of the shadows and into the light, Noah and Trinity find themselves standing on the cusp of a scandal so shocking…no one will escape the aftermath.
Shiloh Walker’s Deeper Than Need is the first book in her newest romance suspense series-Secrets & Shadows. Set in the small town of Madison, IN, Walker weaves her magic in a dark and suspenseful tale of lies and atrocities set amongst a seductive romance. Slow and steady, Walker builds her world: layering it in pain, sorrow, heartbreak, and fear as she delicately sets the stage. Dynamic flawed characters only add to the overall somber emotional tone of the multi plotted storyline. Each new revolution serves to add tension and suspense as we are given clues to the secret that traps this small town in it’s clutches.
Trinity Ewing and Noah Benningfield are strong characters; together and separately. Loyal, intelligent, and prone to taking on the problems of others. Each has secrets that they fear will cause the other to run away. The chemistry literally lights the pages on fire from the moment these two first meet.
Noah Benningfield made her tongue stick to the roof of her mouth and her hands got all sweaty just thinking about him.They’d met just a few short weeks ago, saw each other in passing while he set up everything for the renovations on her house. A few meetings here and there, a few phone calls.
Not much, right?
So why did she keep waking up, hot and sweaty from all of those dreams? The hottest, dirtiest dreams, where he ran those rough, calloused hands over her, where he pressed his lips to her neck, skimmed them down, down, down…
I like how realistic they and their problems were. I also enjoyed how Walker doesn’t impede their romance with huge hurdles or misunderstandings. The slow steamy sexual heat and tension these two generate will leave you panting as you watch them hurdle personal and external obstacles and dance their way in to each others arms. The romance isn’t prevalent but rather a soft silent stream of consciousness that flows beneath the main storyline. A touch of humor winds through the story with Trinity’s four year old son, Micah. His curiosity had me giggling at times.
Forcing herself to breathe, she managed to say, “Micah, that’s enough.” “Would you cuss if you’d got burnt there?” he asked. Obviously, he didn’t see the warning on her face. Of course not. He was too busy thinking penises. Boys and their toys…and she’d already learned that a male’s fascination with the penis started pretty young.
The mystery is chilling as we began to piece together what is happening and it’s connections to Noah’s past. Walker doesn’t inundate you with any gruesome details but instead uses the players in this tragic play to tell us their stories. Each one giving us small clues that begin to paint for us a bleak picture. An extensive secondary cast has you looking over your shoulder and wondering who’s walks with the angels and who is fully submerged in the darkness that is the soul of this town. Ms. Walker does not make it easy for you. She uses Deeper Than Need to set up for the other books in the series so you’re being introduced to new characters and subplots throughout.
I will warn that even though the romantic conflict is resolved and set on the right path but the mystery is not. Though not a fan of cliffhangers, this particular one does nothing more than whet my appetite for the second in the series, Sweeter Than Sin, which releases in September 2014. With this latest release, my belief only continues to solidify that Shiloh Walker is a master when writing dark and brooding romantic suspense. If you want more of this town and the residents who live there, Walker released a steamy sexy novella trilogy earlier this year that centers around the Bell siblings and the disappearance of their mother. You don’t have to read the trilogy in order to read Deeper Than Need.
Favorite Quote: “People believe what they wish to believe.”
Lady Georgiana, our heroine, fell from her lofty social pedestal when she bore a child outFavorite Quote: “People believe what they wish to believe.”
Lady Georgiana, our heroine, fell from her lofty social pedestal when she bore a child out of wedlock and was forced to disappear from Society. She has come to terms with this and found her own way to get back at those who snubbed her while cheering her demise. For years, Georgiana has played the London ton for the fools they are by offering them a jewel encrusted rope with which they could hang themselves. But now the time has come for her to take her place in Society again; opening herself back up to the scorn and ridicule she knows will be heaped upon her in order to secure her child’s future.
Our hero, Duncan West, is an interesting choice in a hero for the Lady Georgiana. Not because he’s a tradesman or a secret partner in the gaming hall, but because one of his gossip rags is what has forced her back into the public eye. Duncan, a newspaper magnate, owns several publications, one of which published a nasty little cartoon that not only mocked Georgiana, but also her daughter. Meeting Lady Georgiana places him in a perplexing and somewhat uncomfortable position. He is intrigued by her beauty, intelligence, and strength while ashamed of what his paper has said about her over the years. When he learns of one of her secrets; he offers to help her secure her desire of a proper marriage if she helps him obtain some information from Chase that he needs to get out from under an unscrupulous enemy’s thumb.
The last installment of Maclean’s The Rules of Scoundrels series gives readers the story they have been waiting on; the unmasking of the infamous Chase. The most mysterious of the four founders of the popular and decadent gaming hall, the Fallen Angel. Those who’ve read the whole series have been given little clues throughout to Chase’s identity but it’s only here that MacLean announces her well kept secret.
I found Don’t Judge a Lady by Her Cover to be more light than the previous installments. While our hero and heroine follow the prescribed premise of the series by having suffered in the past, they are not as emotionally or mentally damaged as we have seen in previous characters. The storyline is more internal based; focusing on Lady Georgiana’s internal conflicts and secrets. MacLean’s smooth verse and witty dialogue glides readers easily through the story, taking us back in time and then slowly leading us to the present, making sure we understand exactly what is at stake. Dynamic characterization provides us with easy recognizable friends and foes. Lush physical and emotional descriptions keep us firmly engaged as we follow our hero and heroine down the rocky path that leads them to their destiny.
‘He laughed low and deep, the sound rippling through her. She did not like that, either, the way he seemed to catch her off guard when she was her most guarded. ‘
I have enjoyed Lady Georgiana since first meeting her but in here my admiration skyrocketed. She is a fabulous strong lead, especially for a historical. As a young lady of this era, even being the daughter of a duke, she has no real power. The choices in her life would have been at the commands of her father and then her brother. Yet she shows remarkable initiative and strength as she plots and triumphs on her own path of empowerment. She not only broke the rules, but she redefined them to make them work for her. By aligning herself with three others who had also been disgraced and hurt by Society only showcases her deep compassion.
‘She had partnered with three fallen aristocrats, each stronger and more intelligent than the rest of Society, each ruined without question.’
Duncan is an enigma. He is remarkably astute in some areas yet as clueless as those around him. A sexy alpha male whose ability to make or break someone socially contrasts beautifully with his need to protect the one person whose actions make him money. I was disappointed at times when he would fall back too often on the prescribed notion that Georgiana has little options and is being forced into certain situations even though Georgiana reassured him often she is fine. His anger and jealousy at her secrets impeded his judgement at times.
As the story unfolds, the chemistry between our hero and heroine simmers with playful flirting, steamy glances, and faint touches filled with longing. It’s a slow emerging romance due to the original plans of Georgiana and her issues from the past. Love, she has learned is not real but an illusion some use for their own gains; often at the expense of others. Their chemistry is a solid presence, slipping into your subconscious from the start. No petty games are played not are we inundated with overly dramatic misconstrued events that take forever to clear up. The sexual tension builds admirably as they banter and fence around their attraction.
“No doubt our contretemps will be in the papers tomorrow, she said, letting the accusation into the words.
“I see my reputation precedes me.”
“Should mine be the only one?”
Vibrant secondary characters are bursting from the seams of the book yet you never feel overwhelmed. We see various characters from previous books and meet a few new ones. I enjoyed seeing where the other “scoundrels” are at in their lives and learning even more about ‘Chase’s sometimes unscrupulous deeds and deals that are made even more astounding now that readers know who Chase really is. Caroline was a dream and quite humorous in her questioning of her mother’s views and actions. The inclusion of additional subplots is well done and blends well with the main storyline.
The ending is a mixture of suspense and surprise as MacLean ties up all the loose threads and ends the series on an original and beautiful note that assures us the last ‘scoundrel’ has finally found the happiness they so richly deserved.
Favorite Quote: “I want to completely give in to sin and not worry about the consequences.”
Marina Knight came to this party for one thing only: to slap Gage Emerson in the face. Poised to snatch up her family’s real estate empire, the sexy tycoon is on the verge of making an enemy for life—even if he can make her melt with a single kiss …
When Gage discovers that the alluring woman before him is the key to his latest acquisition, claiming her as his suddenly doesn’t seem quite so cut-and-dried. To get what he wants, he must get to know the fierce woman willing to face him down—as she steadily steals his heart.
Gage’s persistence and intense passion war with Marina’s determination to protect her family. As they delve deeper into an affair they didn’t see coming, Marina’s torn: Will she lose her heart to Gage—or everything she holds dear? (Goodreads)
Monica Murphy’s Billionaire Bachelor Club trilogy is based on a trio of commitment shy billionaires who make a million dollar bet. The last man standing wins one million dollars. Crave, book one, is Archer Bancroft’s story. He is the first to lose the bet but his loss is really his gain in the form of Ivy Emerson, his soon to be wife.
Torn, second in the Billionaire Bachelors Club series, is an enemies to lovers trope. Gage Emerson, Ivy’s brother, is a successful real estate tycoon and he has been steadily buying up Napa Valley. He has his eye on some some prime real estate that the Molina family owns and isn’t above using their money issues against them to get it. The Molina’s are considered royalty in Napa Valley but certain bad investments have made them land rich but cash poor. Marina Knight, a Molina on her mother’s side, runs an organic bakery and wants, no, needs to prove to her family and herself that she can make it a success. Unfortunately, the bakery is one of the key pieces of property Gage wants. When these two hard working driven characters come together, it’s a stunning explosion fueled by lust and hate.
If we didn’t hate each other so much, I’d believe she was made just for me.
Gage is a playboy of the worse kind though he has sworn off ladies at the moment. A workaholic; some past nasty relationships and the need to expand his empire has him placing his business first and foremost. Charming though abrupt and not the best at small talk, he has what I like to refer to as foot in mouth syndrome. Especially when he meets Marina Knight. She comes to a party looking to confront him once she learns he is the one looking to buy up her bakery and the surrounding properties. One look at her and he’s a goner. Especially when she doesn’t play hard to get. In fact, she doesn’t make a play for him at all. As he’s making small talk with her, attempting to get to know her better, he makes the mistake of talking business and inadvertently insults her family. Marina gets angry, storms away, and Gage begins the chase.
I’m the idiot who’s drawn to her despite her obvious hate-or at the very least, disinterest in me.
Not one for over dramatizing or creating overly angst driven story lines, Murphy creates dynamic characters who love, laugh, fight, and experience life to the fullest. Torn hit some of my buttons. Its fast pacing, engaging dialogue, and super steamy love scenes made for enjoyable reading.
Gage and Marina were like oil and water but that only made watching their journey from enemy to lovers more entertaining. There is a lot of friction between them and it heats up more than just the sheets. Gage wants the Knight properties but he wants Marina too. Marina is equally attracted to Gage but she wants to make her bakery a success and protect her family’s legacy. Gage tries to work the alpha dominant mojo in here but it won’t work on Marina. She is independent, stubborn, loyal, and extremely snarky. Gage can’t control or anticipate her and that drives him insane. Gage’s inability to think before he speaks will leave you laughing as he puts his foot in his mouth repeatedly throughout the book. I think everyone winces when he opens his mouth around Marina.
“…I hold my breath, afraid he might say something to ruin the moment. Thank god he keeps his big mouth shut.”
A lot of antagonism ramps up the sexual tension to unbelievable levels as Gage and Marina begin their dance. Their chemistry is off the charts as this couple can only seem to fit when they are making love. There they can forget they are on opposites sides and give in to the craving that consumes them both.
I want to undo those bows and watch her panties fall away from her body. Then I want to get down on my knees and bury my mouth between her legs. I know she’ll taste hot and wild. I wonder how many flicks of my tongue will make her come.
Fuck, I’m beyond eager to find out.
Gage has a hard time understanding what drives Marina. His money and power means nothing to her. She just wants someone to appreciate her for who she is. We watch as they each had to learn to give in order to make their relationship work. Gage had to learn to stop working so hard and just live. He also needed to consider other people’s happiness before his own. Marina needed to learn to let down her walls and trust her own judgment.
Though I enjoyed Torn overall, I would have liked seeing more of them when they weren’t fighting. Their chemistry is HAWT but the emotional side was harder to buy into. This story moves fast and we didn’t have the background that Archer and Ivy did so it felt a little less developed than book one. Plus the misunderstanding the forces them to really look into their feelings for one another was a bit silly to me. Both were wrong but the crimes didn’t warrant the punishment in my opinion. Lack of communication was a huge problem in this couple. The ending is dramatic and resolves into a happy for now for Gage and Marina and clues are given to how our last bachelor will fall and to whom.
I’ve always enjoyed Jennifer Haymore’s lush and emotionally plump historical romances. The House of Trent series has been particularly enjoyable as it builds upon the trope of impossible connections forming between unlikely candidates. A seductive and somewhat somber series that divulges into the scandals and secrets of an aristocratic family.
The Scoundrel’s Seduction is the third book in Haymore’s historical romance suspense series-The House Of Trent. Focusing on the first born, Samuel Hawkins, we finally learn the reasons behind his quiet deadly nature and frequent disappearances. Though the first born, his illegitimacy forbid him from inheriting the title when the former Duke passed away. Employed as a spy for the Crown, Sam lives his life where he feels the most comfortable- in the shadows.
Our heroine, Lady Elisa Dunthrope, escaped to England as a child when her family fell victim to the guillotine’s kiss during the French Revolution. Pushed into marriage at a young age by her uncle, she has suffered for her French heritage and her husband’s dreams of grandeur. Dreams that lead him to betray his country. After seeing her husband murdered before her eyes, Elisa is dragged into a deadly game of cat and mouse where everyone wants her dead. Her only hope is a man whose very nature demands he never trust her.
The story starts out with a heavy hand towards action and intrigue when our hero, Samuel Hawkins, is forced to take prisoner the wife of the man he just assassinated. A spy for the Crown, Samuel learned that Lord Dunthrope was selling secrets to the French. The verdict for this treason? Death. However, no one expected Lady Dunthrope to be in residence. As a witness to the murder, Samuel can’t let her go. Now Samuel has to figure out how how involved she is in this conspiracy and what to do with her once he gets his answers.
While I liked it overall, I found it didn’t engage me. The storyline moves extremely slow and the majority is filled with Sam and Elisa getting to know one another and pontificating on the benefits and drawbacks of their growing attraction to one another. Samuel wants her from the beginning but unable to prove or disprove her loyalties leaves him unsure if he should act on it. He’s also put out a little that Elisa doesn’t seem to be grieving for her late husband or even particularly upset that Samuel murdered him. The plotlines are predictable with very little tension or apprehension. I expected more action and conflict because of the spy storyline.
The characters are well developed but I felt like I they were missing something. Both were extremely even natured people. Their back stories are revealed in a matter of fact way; interjected at the appropriate times to ensure the reader understands the reasons behind their actions. It’s acceptable but not inspiring. Even the conflicts between them are low key and easily overcome. The “insta love” aspect is prevalent and while the chemistry between them is believable, I wanted more emotional involvement. I wanted Elisa to rage at being held captive and once more not in control of her life. I want Sam to get angry about his childhood and the seemingly intractable situation he now finds himself in. It was all very ce la vie.
The romance itself is delicious with plenty of whispered promises, steamy touches, and passionate love making. I liked that as both had been married before so no games are played and they are very honest with one another. Elisa isn’t forced to play the blushing virgin and Samuel doesn’t have to hold back his desires. Elisa has no issues with telling Samuel how much she wants him and boldly initiates their love making at times.
Haymore intertwines the main storyline with the ongoing arc concerning the disappearance of Sam’s mother-Duchess of Trent. Fortunately, this is resolved and in all honesty, was the most interesting part of the story. We learn the reasons about why she left and it makes sense though I’m at a loss to understand why certain things were done the way they were. We spend a fair amount of time with the Trent siblings but again, something was missing. I didn’t get the same connection with them as in her previous installments.
For me, the story really picked up in the last 25%. The story moves fast and furious once the Duchess is reintroduced and the villains behind spy ring reveal themselves and make their move. The ending is justifiable though anti climatic as we knew what would happen from the beginning and nothing was really left to the imagination or chance.
Though I will continue to read Ms. Haymore’s romances and am looking forward to Esme’s story, this was not my favorite installment in this series.
Favorite Quote: “It’s a message from the duty manager at the donut shop apologizing for the lack of long tasty phallic shaped éclairs. Apparently they don’t get baked until later in the day,” [...] “Since you failed to believe me when I explained this to you yesterday. I thought you might be more inclined to believe it if it came from a higher authority in the donut world.”
Jimmy Ferris, the gorgeous and unpredictable lead singer for the famous rock band, Stage Dive, is used to the world being handed to him on a silver platter. When his drinking and drug use gets out of hand, the band gives him an ultimatum…get clean and stay clean or he’s out of the band for good. A stint in rehab gets him on the right path but unresolved issues from his past almost guarantee he will backslide unless he has some help.
Enter Lena Morrissey.
Lena has issues of her own but one of them is not taking any crap for a certain overly entitled rock god. Lena has one job and one job only…to keep Jimmy on the straight and narrow. So what if all her girly parts tingle when Jimmy’s around, can she keep things professional?
As Lena and Jimmy spend more time together, the chemistry between them sparks like an out of control wildfire, bringing out the best and worse in both of them. When Lena decides to lay all her cards on the table and tell Jimmy how she really feels, Jimmy reacts badly and shoves Lena right out the door. Now Jimmy will have to bare his heart fully if he wants to get Lena back for good.
I adore Kylie Scott’s uber funny and sexy rockstar romance series-Stage Dive. Though each book focuses on one couple’s romance, the arc is on going and each book picks up where the last one left off. I would start with book one-Lick-to get the full experience.
While Mal is by far my favorite male character in this series, Lena takes the top female spot hands down. Lead is a feisty romantic contemporary that sings with snark and laughter yet holds a deep pocket of vulnerability and fear as a young woman who’s hired to babysit an out of control rock star falls in love with her difficult hero and struggles to try and keep their relationship platonic.
Fate shifting beneath your feet should feel big. For instance, mood lighting and dramatic music would be well within keeping. Instead, I got a cranky cold blue stare from a guy in a sharp suit. [...]The man was beautiful. Devastating in the way that only something so completely out of your reach that it doesn’t even occur to you to try and grasp it can be.
Lena left from home and family after she catches her boyfriend cheating on her with her sister and now they are getting married. She doesn’t want to deal with the drama so she applies for a PA job with Stage Dive’s manager only to discover he makes Courtney Love look sane. In the midst of being fired by him, Mal steps in and convinces Jimmy to hire her as his sobriety companion and assistant.
“You don’t seem very impressed by me, Lena. Am I not impressive to you?”
“Sure you are. I guess I’m just a bit busy getting fired right now to fully appreciate the magnitude of the moment.” Hands on hips, I looked him in the eye. “But, rest assured, later I’m going to freak right out.”
He leaned against the door frame. “I’ve got your word on that?”
“I’m trusting you here.”
“And I appreciate that, Mr Ericson. I won’t let you down.”
He gave me a huge grin. “You’re a bit of a smart ass, Lena. I like that.”
Jimmy, lead singer for the band, hit rock bottom in Lick. He and his brother, David had a hellacious childhood and Jimmy choose to go the self destructive route, causing even more problems between him, his brother, and the band. At the end of Lick, David put Jimmy into rehab in hopes of saving his life. Lead picks up at the funeral of Mal’s mother and Jimmy is clean. Lena has been with Jimmy for a couple of months and is beginning to see he is more than a spoiled over indulged man that the tabloids delight in writing about.
I laughed throughout this entire book. Lena is definitely the star of the show and her internal and external monologues concerning Jimmy, the band, and life in general will keep you in stitches.
“Britney Spears. Give me strength.”
I liked that Lana isn’t damaged or carrying any really heavy baggage. Her situation at home is a problem but not enough to pitch her into a never ending pit of emotional despair. Her strength, determination, and intelligence makes a perfect foil for Jimmy’s capricious nature. She and Jimmy get along fairly well until her crush begins to show itself and Jimmy starts to notice. Lena’s use of humor to diffuse the situation is at a premium as she struggles to keep her feelings in check.
“You are looking at me weird all the time.”
“No, I’m sorting your email. A different thing entirely.”
“Oh, look. Lingerie Girl has sent you another picture. A demi-bra this time. Hot pink with tassels. I think the tassels are a nice touch. She’s even attached a video of her making them swing. So thoughtful.”
“But what if she says something important?”
“She’s a complete stranger sending me pictures of herself nearly naked dancing and bending over furniture.”
“Yes, today we have a washing machine. Very sexy in a domestic erotica sort of way. A powerful statement about feminism, I think. This woman is deep.”
Jimmy is a trainwreck for much of the book. Though a virtual succubus on stage, once the lights go out, he becomes a rude and crude prima donna. His dysfunctional childhood and on going issues with his mother keeps him emotionally cut off from everyone. A mercurial man who despite his every attempt to chase you away, gradually reveals a softer side that wants what his brother and friends have but feels he doesn’t deserve. You eventually begin to see the many layers of Jimmy and the reasons Lena has fallen hard for him.
“The thing is, you’re never going to have much of a life being at my beck and call. You’re better off away from me, and I know that, and still I don’t care. That, Lena, is who I am.”
The romance is very slow to develop. Even though Lena readily admits to her deepening attraction to Jimmy early on, she never allows that to interfere with her job. She genuinely wants Jimmy to succeed in his sobriety. Scott gives Lena and Jimmy ample time to get to know one another on a personal level; first establishing a firm friendship before pushing beyond the boundaries and introducing the added intimacy of sex. The chemistry is outstanding, even when in it’s early stages. Sexual tension pulsates through the book as Jimmy struggles to keep Lena confined to the box he has placed her in. Jimmy’s answer to Lena’s crush in the beginning is to push her towards other men. Great in theory…terrible in reality. Jealousy rears it’s ugly head more than once much to readers delight.
Old friends join the fray to offer advice, laughter, and run interference between our lovers. The push and pull between Lena and Jimmy sizzles with taunt hostility and the band, especially Mal, offer comedic interventions to offset the drama that seems to naturally generate between these two.
"He held the pup in front of his face. “Killer, tell daddy where the bad people touched you.”
I absolutely adore this series and have found that each installment only serves to further cement my love for this band and Ms. Scott’s writing. A small contention with this story is I would have liked to have heard more from Jimmy. He was naturally reluctant to share emotionally so I felt at times that just relying on Lena’s POV didn’t always translate Jimmy’s feelings or the reasons behind some of his actions well for the reader. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed Lead and I can’t wait to read Ben’s journey to true love. I expect that will be a wild, wild ride; especially if he falls for who I think he will.
Mal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast—at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. Mal doesn’t plan on this temporary fix becoming permanent, but he didn’t count on finding the one right girl.
Anne Rollins never thought she’d ever meet the rock god who plastered her teenage bedroom walls—especially not under these circumstances. Anne has money problems. Big ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a wild life-of-the-party drummer couldn’t end well. No matter how hot he is. Or could it?
Tori:Rockstar bad boys are a guilty pleasure of mine. The more intense and outrageous they are, the more I am attracted to them. I think it’s the combination alpha/beta personality and the usual secret that causes them to act the way they do. The push/pull relationship between the hero and heroine combined with heroes often self destructive behavior draws me in everytime. The emotional dialogue is often compelling but it’s what’s not said but implied that pulls me into their sphere.
Play is a sweet new adult romantic contemporary that focuses on the relationship between an out of control rock star and a down on her luck young woman. Ms. Scott uses her skills to paint an engaging, quite humorous,and at times heartbreaking picture of first love as she builds a swoon worthy romance on a false premise. Not a trope I normally go for; it works well in here. Though told from primary from Anne’s viewpoint, we do get in depth dialogue between both protagonists, enabling the reader to see both sides of the story.
Anne Rollins has just been royally screwed. She just discovered her roommate, her supposed best friend, has skipped out owning months of back rent. No one but Anne is surprised by this turn of events. Lauren, Evelyn’s (Lick) best friend, invites her to a Stage Dive party to help take her mind off what just happened. When Anne arrives, she meets Mal and the fireworks start. Anne has had a crush on Mal for years and has dreamed of meeting him but never quite imagined it like this.
“Your cheeks have gone all rosy. Are you thinking rude thoughts about me, Anne.” “No.” “Liar,” he taunted in a soft voice. “You’re totally thinking of me with no pants on.” I totally am.
Mal is having a rough year. Personal issues has him almost acting bi polar with his manic behavior. Drinking and partying too much, Mal knows he needs to slow down before he crashes and burns. Meeting Anne and feeling an instant connection has him invading her life and home, offering her a position of his pretend girlfriend. With Anne Mal doesn’t have to play the “rock star”. She brings him a sense of peace and tranquility he so desperately needs while he encourages her to take chances and have fun.
From there the laughs just keeps coming. Anne and Mal are fantastic characters whose personalities explode off the pages. Individually and together, they instantly steal your heart and you become heavily invested in their story. Both of them have some serious baggage that not only affects their relationship, but their lives in general. I liked that Anne wasn’t your average star struck groupie. She carries on with her life as normal…well as normal as one can with a 6 ft plus totally hot rock star living with her. She continues working and doesn’t take any crap from Mal. She knows when to push and when to back away.
What did you think Mandi?
Mandi: This book surprised me. I read and enjoyed Lick and I think as soon as I was done I tweeted Kylie Scott and demanded Mal’s book. What surprised me is the type of hero Mal really is. In Lick he was silly and made me laugh – and while in Play he is silly and made me laugh he also is not your typical rock star hero. He almost has an immature vibe but at the same time is very sexy. I honestly don’t know how this author played both sides so well. I laughed out loud so many times in this book, swooned at how sexy Mal is and yet felt deeply for him and what he was going through. Anne is great too – she gets Mal. She really, really gets him and that just made it all work. Even though he is a lot to take when they first meet (and yes I’m using Tori’s quote above just expanding)
“Are you thinking rude thoughts about me, Anne?” “No.” “Liar,” he taunted in a soft voice. “You’re totally thinking of me with no pants on.” I totally was. “That’s just gross, dude. A massive invasion of my privacy.” He leaned in closer, his breath warming my ear. “Whatever you’re imagining, it’s bigger.” “I’m not imagining anything.” “I’m serious. It’s basically a monster. I cannot control it.” “Malcom – “ “You’re pretty much going to need a whip and chair to tame it, Anne.”
Tori: I loved that this wasn’t an insta love romance. Though they have to play off they are in a committed relationship, Scott gives Mal and Anne ample time to get to know one another. The chemistry between them sizzles HAWT (limos for the win) but neither was pushing for sex. Mal and Anne’s witty banter gives rise to friendship and more as they spend more time together. Both are givers though Anne more so and that balance resonates through the book. From their first meeting, you know they are destined to be together. I also enjoyed that any misunderstandings were easily carified. Neither protagonists are true emotional black holes, wallowing in self pity and wanting to be the center of everyone’s attention. I seriously just loved them both to pieces. *laughter* I wish I could list all the scenes that made me laugh but then I would be pretty much retelling the entire story.
Mandi: I liked that Anne is honest with Mal. She calls him on his bullshit when she can tell he is bullshitting – with Mal it’s hard to tell.
“God, you confuse me. I don’t think my head has stopped spinning since you walked in the door.” “You can be confused later. But come on my face now, please?”
I liked how things play out with Anne’s good friend Reece too. Reece can’t decide if he has feelings for Anne, and the jealousy that arises plays out well.
And yes – I have about 50 quotes highlighted I want to share.
Tori’s favorite quote: “A biter and a screamer. And you seemed like such a nice quiet girl. I’m shocked”
Tori’s Grade: B+
Mandi’s favorite quote: “I’ll sleep with Anne.”
“No you won’t.”
“Yes, I will.” He raised a hand high. “For I am, Malcolm, Lord of the Sex!”
Almost halfway in and that was more then enough to know that I and this book would not be bff's and make babies together. An unattractive heroine wDNF
Almost halfway in and that was more then enough to know that I and this book would not be bff's and make babies together. An unattractive heroine whose manipulative, narcissistic, drug abusing, sex addictive, and victim screaming left me struggling to feel even one iota of sympathy for her. I don't mind self destructive protagonists as long as I can A. See some growth or B. The spiral is well deserved. In this instance the heroine is a huge hot mess and she enjoys being a huge hot mess. She uses her past to enable her destruction and when you call her on it, it's never her fault.
The writing is a struggle to read as the story is told from the heroine's screwed up head. It's over saturated purple prose addicted to speed. I don't even want to get into the misspellings, slang/text talk, and the appalling lack of punctuation. I found it hard to believe this chick's mind was this much of a cesspool. Even broken clocks will hit the correct time twice a day.
As this was originally a movie script turned book, I think this is a perfect example that the vision of the author is better served on the silver screen. ...more
Sometimes in our search for Mr. Perfect, we don’t always see Mr. Right Now standing in front of us. In Jay Crownover’s third installment of her Marked Men series, Rome, we meet Rome Archer and Cara Lewis. Two people who should be all wrong for one another discover just how right they can be together.
Rome Archer, a war veteran, finds himself at a loss when he returns home, discharged from the only life he’s known for ten years. Used to wearing many hats in his life-big brother, strong son, peacemaker, perfect soldier-he’s unable to define himself anymore and struggles to find a place and reason in his new life.
Cora Lewis, the tell it like it is receptionist and piercer at the Marked, has her life all mapped out. Though fun and seemingly carefree on the outside, on the inside she is determined that her next boyfriend will be a drama, baggage free man with whom she can have a relationship with.
When these two meet, the sparks fly and both are certain they do not need the other in their life. But fate doesn’t always give us what we think we want. Sometimes is gives us what it knows we need.
Rome is a romantic contemporary built on opposites attract. The opposite attraction trope is a favorite of mine. I enjoy watching the author convince me that two people who seem completely and utterly wrong for one another are actually perfect for each other. Crownover does a fabulous job of setting up the main characters, expanding on their personalities and their back stories, taking a considerable amount of time letting us get to know them and see the extreme differences between them. As the story progresses, Crownover gently starts to cut through the external artifice and we begin to see what she sees-that our protagonists are indeed perfect for one another.
The main conflict is a mixture of past and present, building a solid storyline. Rome is not only suffering from PTSD and mourning the loss of his military life, he’s also still grieving the loss of his brother and the guilt he carries from the last time they were together. Cora has her issues that leave her feeling lost and unsure. A military brat who was dragged from port to port, she has a strong need for family and control. A Crownover addresses their issues and creates an engaging read that fills you with strong emotions as you watch Cora and Rome fight through the pitfalls of life. Multiple storylines, some continued from previous books, build slowly and allow the players involved to deal with and heal past issues that have frozen them at certain points in their of lives. Emotions run the gauntlet as old wounds are reopened and allowed to heal. Things are said that hurt but set the pace for a new beginning.
Crownover does well in creating multi dimensional characters, expanding and evolving their lives and the world they live in. Not one of them is perfect though each one is a vibrant personality that takes command and dominates the scenes they are in. She writes with such intimacy that we are instantly drawn back into their lives as if we never left. I like we aren’t promised a happily ever after. Her stories always leave off with the promise of more to come and that works because no one’s journey is ever truly over.
Strongly character driven; it’s the steady dialogue and interaction that keeps you entertained throughout the book. We see old and new faces; each one an important part of the storyline. Rule and Shaw are adjusting to being a couple while Jet and Aryden try to survive their time apart. We see more of Mr and Mrs. Archer and meet a new character whose cameo helps to lay some ghosts to rest.
This series continues to entertain me and I recommend it to everyone who wants a romantic contemporary new adult series with realistic characters, angsty romances, strong friendships, and interesting lives that will keep you waiting for each installment. Even though this could be read as a stand alone, it does help to read the first two books in the series- Rule & Jet-in order to fully understand and appreciate the underlying issues and character dynamics that permeate the on going storyline.
Favorite Quote: “Don’t go there again [...] We know how this ends.
Colleen O’Rourke found her one true love as a teenager and lost it when she and the boy she loved had a fight that led him to marrying someone else. Now ten years later, he is back in town because of a family emergency and Colleen finds herself torn between wanting to keep hating him and wanting a second chance with him.
Lucas Campbell has never felt wanted by anyone except Colleen. Raised by his uncle’s family after his parents pass away, he was always made to feel like a fifth wheel. Colleen was his saving grace but when his fear gets the better of him, he makes some questionable choices that causes him to lose Colleen. Called back to Manningsport he sees a chance for him to try and repair the damage he did so long ago. But Colleen’s mistrust is strong. Unless Lucas can prove to her that this time he’s willing to fight for her, he will once again lose the only woman he has ever loved.
Waiting On You is the third book in Kristan Higgins’s Blue Heron series. A frothy humorous light hearted small town romance tells a tale of love, loss, and second chances. Fast pacing, witty dialogue, and laugh out loud scenes takes on a journey into the lives of two people who are given another chance to recapture what they lost so many years ago. Higgins’ interjects our protagonist’s back story through little memory snippets to show us what happened to tear them apart and how it could happen easily happen again. Multiple subplots intertwine throughout, allowing the reader to meet more residents of this little town and see what our protagonists have been up to during their long separation. The characters are all delightfully quirky and wonderfully flawed with a deep vein of realism running through them. The story is written in an enjoyable conversational style with engaging laugh out loud dialogue that will keep you entertained all the way to the end.
We first met Colleen O’Rourke in book one (The Best Man). Best friends with Faith Holland, Colleen and her twin brother Connor run the local watering hole and have provided much entertainment in their dealings with the local clientele. Colleen, a self professed matchmaker, works hard to make sure cupid’s arrow flies in the right direction and has an impressive success rate. It’s her own love life that Colleen can’t fix. Her heart was shattered years ago and she has never really moved on. When her first love blows back into her life, Colleen is at a loss on how to act. She still loves him even though she tries hard to deny the attraction.
“Hell’s to the no, Lucas,” she hissed. “You’re not here for me. You’re back to help your uncle, and then it’s bye-bye, Manningsport, back to Chicago and your swanky life there. So don’t you dare kiss me. Don’t you dare, Lucas. I’m not about to become some little fling you have in between the important chapters of your real life. Been there, done that.”
Colleen is pure joy who keeps on giving as we watch her interact with her friends and family. I loved her in the first two books and Higgins’s builds her in a way that showcases all her facets perfectly. Sexy, smart, and a genuinely nice person, she tends to use humor to keep herself from letting people get too close. She was shattered by what she felt was Lucas’s abandonment and had thought that pain was long buried but Luca’s return brings back all those emotions and memories rushing to the forefront. The pain we feel coming off her breaks your heart at times
“What’s wrong with me?” she asked. “I have this thing for men who reject me.”
Lucas is a bit of an enigma. He too is a master at deflecting his emotions, revealing only so much of himself to avoid being hurt. A building projects manager who is getting ready to leave his mentor and ex father in law to strike out on his own, he comes home to help his uncle who is like a father figure to him. Quiet and watchful, he always strives to do what is right even at the risk of his own happiness. You never doubt for a moment he truly loved Colleen when they were together but circumstances and his own emotional issues overwhelmed him…so he chooses to run.
“… it came back to him like a tidal wave, what it had been like to be loved by Colleen O’Rourke."
Colleen and Lucas’s reconnection is filled with enough heat and snark to leave you laughing as these two waver between ignoring one another and striving to drive each other insane.
There are actually three story lines about love in here that intertwined; romance, friendship, and family. I did at times feel the other storylines overwhelmed the main story. Between Lucas’s uncle and Colleen’s parents, the book struggled with all the competing sub plots. As Colleen and Lucas begin to get closer, they indulge their passion but do not share what’s in their hearts. They have some serious issues that I never felt they addressed beyond a singular level. We learn what happened through flashbacks and internal thoughts but neither made much effort to have that one on one conversation to explain the emotions behind what led up to their relationship demise. It was as if once they reconnected, they only wanted to move forward and forget that awful time.
The sparks between our couple flames back up from their first glance. Their chemistry is smoking hot and shows us that in this area, they never had a problem. Higgins’s doesn’t push them back into a relationship and that works well for the overall theme. The sexual tension is at a definite premium.
“What seems clear,” he murmured, stepping a little closer so that they were almost touching, “is that this is going to happen. You and me. It’s just a question of when.”
The secondary characters are all well fleshed out as they add delish snarkiness and humor to the story. The town is a virtual plethora of laughs and giggles. Colleen’s mother is hilarious in her struggle to find happiness and I loved the relationship Colleen and Conner have with one another. There is so much love and snark between them.
“So this mystery waiting on you woman, Con, she must be dying to meet your beloved twin.” “Not really.” “She is. Admit it.” “We’ve been on three dates, Colleen.” “Sex?” “No comment. And you’d better not be sleeping with Lucas.” “Really! So you’re doing it. Good. Is she blonde? I bet she is. She is, isn’t she? Lovely. You know, Con, for a while, I thought you were gay. Figured you and Jeremy would make a great couple—”
Lucas’s all encompassing love for his uncle and cousin is wonderful to see and I like that his feelings of inadequacy were eventually resolved.
Though I enjoyed the story overall there were some sticky points. Lucas’s inability to open up at times drove me nuts. He would answer a question with a question, avoid certain topics all together, and a scene towards the end almost had me tossing the book down in anger. His feelings of insecurity comes back to bite him in the arse and he didn’t do anything to convince me this wouldn’t happen again. I just never felt he truly understood the depth of the pain he caused Colleen. I felt Higgins’s barely scratched the surface of Lucas’s and Colleen’s issues and the secondary story lines cast too long of a shadow over the main storyline.
Regardless of my issues, Waiting On You is a fun romantic romp that engages you to the end. I am looking forward to more from Higgins and her Blue Heron cohorts.
I have read but opted not write a review for every story in this anthology.
Stolen Goods by Shannon K. Butcher. In a world poised on the brink of an alien take over, a man hires a renowned thief to help him recover a magical artifact that could spell the end of humanity if it falls into the wrong hands.
Stolen goods is a well written novella with a strong storyline, personable characters, and lots of action. Butcher gives our characters somewhat complicated pasts that are addressed in the story and adds to the faint sexual undercurrents flowing through it. The main conflict is ripe with tension and horror as Butcher gives us a front row seat to what we as humans have to look forward to if our couple doesn’t win this battle. Enjoyable all the way around and I hope Butcher writes more on this couple and their unique skills.
The Girl With No Name by Chris Marie Green. When a young lady awakens in a strange room with no memory and wearing a pair of unusual knee high boots, she finds herself playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse as she struggles to recover her memory and stay alive.
This is my first time reading Ms. Green but not my last. Green’s incorporation of nature, magic, and the price for using it is interesting, especially when applied to our heroine. The story reveals well as we start out in the unknown and each clue leads us deeper into the mystery that surrounds our heroine’s memory loss and the reasons she is running. Interesting side characters and a possible love interest let us know our heroine isn’t fighting alone. Fast pacing and a kick arse heroine made this a joy to read.
The Devil’s Left Boot by Faith Hunter. Two young witches take a missing person case from an old enemy. Their investigation leads them into the town’s past and into the arms of an insane vampire whose appetite for Christian Louboutin is only matched by her appetite for blood and chaos.
I like Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series so I was excited to read a novella that revolves around the witch family that Jane has a love/hate relationship with. Word of warning, this story exists mid series and may spoil those who haven’t read book four-Raven Cursed. Witches, vampires, and a baby goat provide action, suspense, and humor when these two witches find themselves in a quandary that only Jane can get them out of when they stumble on their town’s bloody past and become more in touch with the dark side of their magic.
High Stakes (Chicagoland Vampires, #8.5) by Chloe Neill. Cadogan House guard Lindsey adores her boss Luc but the chains of her past leave her unable to commit to a relationship with him. When her past comes calling, threatening her family, Lindsey travels back to her beginnings and lays some ghosts to rest for good.
Fans of Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire series have watched as Luc and Lindsey have danced around their attraction for years. Luc has done everything possible to make Lindsey his but with no avail. She is too stubborn and scared to give that much trust to one person. High Stakes is a short novella that finally tells us of Lindsey’s turbulent past and seems to hint at good things for her relationship with Luc.
Red Really Isn’t My Color (Black Wings, #2.5) by Christine Henry. The many greats grand daughter of Lucifer isn’t really big on family reunions or her family period but when Lucifer makes a request, she can’t refuse. Charged with recovering a pair of cursed red dancing shoes from the fairies leads Madeline Black into a battle with the Queen of Fae’s top assassin.
Having never read Christine Henry, this short story seemed the perfect way to ease myself into her series. Red Isn’t My Color plays off Hans Christian Andersen’s moralistic fairy tale-The Red Shoes. Mayhem follows our winged warrior as she confronts the Queen of the Fae’s right hand man and finds herself set up as a well shoed sacrificial lamb. Our heroine triumphs but is forced to use a side of herself that leaves her fearful of the consequences. A well plotted storyline with equal parts humor and that resolves fully but leaves faithful fans with hints towards the future.
Snakeskin (Trickster series, #0.5) by Rob Thurman. Making a deal with the Trickster can have unforeseen consequences as a customer learns the hard way.
Thurman’s Trickster series is a favorite of mine, right behind her Leandros series. The heroine, Trixa Iktomi, is a trickster; a semi divine shape shifter. Youthful in appearance and dangerous in reality; Trixa gives her customers what they ask for but often manipulates the results. In Snakeskin, a prequel set about ten years prior to book one, Trixa uses her skills to give a murderous black widow her heart’s desire. Humor reigns supreme as Trixa teaches a valuable lesson on the evils of greed.
Kicking It is a fun anthology that offers readers a variety of kick arse heroines in a collection of action packed stories by some of Urban Fantasies hottest authors to date. Though some stories are stronger then others, the collection as a whole is an engaging read sure to enchant.
Favorite Quote: “Oh, please don’t raise your standards for me, Kilroy. Just like I won’t be lowering my standards to a fame-hungry megawhore like you.”
Lili DeLuca, daughter to a temperamental Italian chef, wants to attend the MFA but her family comes first. When tragedy strikes close to home, Lili finds herself putting her dreams on hold and managing their small restaurant. Lili sees a change to change things when famous celebrity chef Jack Kilroy challenges her father to a televised cook off.
Jack Kilroy has learned the hard way that being a celebrity is nothing but constant headaches. Meeting Lili puts a spring back in his step when he realizes this beautiful woman isn’t even remotely impressed with his fame and fortune. But Lili sees him as the enemy and proving her wrong will be the hardest job Jack has ever undertook.
Making Lili his though proves to be difficult when his rabid fans plaster inaccurate and unflattering pictures and gossip about Lili all over the internet. Can Jack convince Lili to follow her dreams with him by her side? Or will she decide the heat is just too much to handle.
Feel The Heat is the first in Kate Meader’s Hot In The Kitchen series. A comedic foodie romance with an enemies to lovers trope that sparks more heat than a flaming flambe in the battle for love. Meader brings the public’s love of reality cooking shows to print with a hero when the personality of Gordon Ramsay matches wits with a heroine whose full body figure and love of food appeals to the temperamental celebrity. Multiple storylines are defined by humorous content, witty repartee, and naughty hijinks.
“I can’t believe I’m finally getting to touch it,” she whispered in mock awe. “Jack Kilroy’s illustrious member.” “My what?” “It’s just that you’ve been so stingy. Not letting me play with it, telling me I had to wait. I assumed it must be gold-plated or bejeweled-”
Lili was a contradiction. She excels in naughty talk and sexy clothing but has a low self esteem when it comes to her body. Bullied as a child for not conforming to what society deems attractive, she has learned to settle for less throughout her life. Jack’s intense attention leaves her confused. A gorgeous sensuous man who has dated some of the world’s most beautiful woman…she can’t seem to grasp why he wants her. Her family doesn’t help with their lack of support concerning her photography and dreams of graduate school.
I really liked Jack. A testy, flamboyant, emotional drama queen, he lives like he cooks-with flair. Lili’s animosity towards him in the beginning confuses him. He knows his larger than life persona on the internet and TV isn’t the most flattering but it’s not him. He’s worked very hard for what he has achieved and as he has gotten older, the limelight doesn’t shine as bright anymore. He has his own dreams and wants to find someone special to share them with. And that someone special to him is Lili.
The secondary characters are a rambunctious bunch whose own wants and needs cause some heat of their own. Lots of giggling and eye rolling is involved when these characters come into play. Lili’s sister Cara, who is also producing Jack’s show, has her own reasons for getting Jack into their parent’s restaurant and learns a lesson about minding one’s own business. Lili’s dad is a stereotypical Italian dad whose own imagined failings make him resent having to rely on Lili so much. Jack has his own problems with a younger sister who won’t stay put and an adorably cute manwhore of a sou chef who wants his own career out from under Jack’s shadow. Several potential story lines are set up in here, waiting for a book of their own.
One aspect I found interesting and appealing is the fact that Jack is the one who refuses to settle for a commitment free affair. He’s the romantic in this book. Lili comes on to him strong after some heavy duty flirting, hinting for some vigorous bed sport and he gently but firmly shoots her down. She, of course, believes it’s due to her looks and flounces away angry and hurt.
“I didn’t stop you because I’m not attracted to you or to teach you a lesson [...] A lot of women who meet me are only interested in screwing me because I’m on TV. After a while, casual sex becomes really old.”
Jack refuses to be “used and then discarded.
The romance blends well with the storyline. Jack is trying so hard to win the hand of the daughter of the man he’s trying to beat in a cook off. There is drama that can only seem to be found in restaurants and a few side plots that pop up and place our lovers on opposite sides of the stove. T
Though I enjoyed the story over all, the constant push and pull from heroine become repetitive and dragged the story down at times. It seemed Jack spends lot of his time chasing after Lili and explaining himself. They get together, they separate, they get back together, they separate again.
The ending wraps everything up nicely and our couple is finally able to let go of their past issues in order to embrace a future together. Feel The Heat is a quick enjoyable romantic contemporary that heats up nicely.
DNF-cover and premise promised a powerful YA dealing with demons, mental illness, and grief. Unfortunately the story itself failed to engage me with uDNF-cover and premise promised a powerful YA dealing with demons, mental illness, and grief. Unfortunately the story itself failed to engage me with unlikable characters, the faint premise that anti psychotic drugs cause more harm then good, and a heavily padded storyline. ...more
Sibling Rivals by Summer devon Favorite Quote: “How did it feel to hold the man he’d loved? Rather suffocating was the answer.
Colin never suspected thSibling Rivals by Summer devon Favorite Quote: “How did it feel to hold the man he’d loved? Rather suffocating was the answer.
Colin never suspected that when he followed his boyfriend Mark home for the holidays, he would end up alone on Christmas. When Mark Stevens decides to come out of the closet, Mark’s parents kick him and Colin out of their home and that ends their relationship. Colin stays in contact with Peter, Mark’s younger brother, though and ends up offering Peter a place to stay when he begins graduate school.
Peter Stevens has always been a ladies man but even he can’t deny the intense attraction he felt towards Colin when they met two years ago. When he gets a chance to stay with Colin while in school, Peter decides this is the perfect time to test that attraction and see if Colin feels the same.
Colin is attracted to Peter but has misgivings towards starting a relationship with him, especially when Mark comes back into the picture wanting another chance. When tragedy hits, Colin finds himself wondering if the Stevens brothers are worth the risk.
Sibling Rivals is an uncomplicated romantic male/male contemporary by Summer Devon. Sibling rivalry, a faint love triangle, humor, and minimal emotional angst makes for a fast read. Two brothers vie for the love and attention of a college professor who has already been burned by one of them. Mark Stevens, the “good” brother dated Colin in college but couldn’t handle the fallout after he revealed his sexual orientation to his parents. Peter Stevens, the “incorrigible” brother, feels a sexual connection to Colin when they meet but waits until he is out of his parents house to do anything about it.
While one part of me enjoyed the somewhat simplistic straightforward romance, another part of me felt the story’s simplicity is what caused the story to fail in development; both in character and storyline. Told in alternating POVs (Colin and Peter) we are told how the romance evolves and how they are feeling but I never felt any real heat or the passion from any of them. It was if they were just going through the motions. Colin tells Mark he’s not interested anymore but it was polite and non confrontational. As if he was ordering tea. Colin and Peter hook up and while the sexual antics are hot, the chemistry between them screams convenience. Even Mark and Peter’s rivalry doesn’t seem real because we don’t really see actual scenes from the past that support it. Mild teasing but nothing that reflects the accusations Mark makes against Peter. Once again we are told but not shown.
Peter was the most emotional and the best fleshed out of the three. A funny playful young man who acts younger than what he truly is. He’s honest yet there is a lack of cohesiveness. He has an innocence to him that is appealing yet doesn’t seem to mesh well with Colin’s seriousness. Colin is English and seems to be built with the English stereotypical “stiff upper lip.” He’s calm, cool, and collected. I was never able to connect with Mark because he seems more of an annoying plot device than an actual person. He has faint excuses (to Peter) as to why he left Colin originally but explains nothing to Colin. Merely tells him over and over that he misses him and wants him back. He blames Peter because Colin isn’t reciprocating his feelings and we never really learn if he ever gets over the rejection.
The main conflict rears its head and forces both Colin and Peter to look deep inside and do some soul searching. While Colin does, I really don’t see the same from Peter. We do see him mature emotionally when faced with the intractableness of mortality, but I never saw where he had any deep emotional epiphany concerning his relationship with Colin or his own sexuality. Peter’s sexuality is as fluid as water and I found it odd that he never had one single moment of angst or conflict concerning it.
Regardless of my issues with the storyline and characters, Sibling Rivals is a fast read whose bits of humor and heat will make a afternoon fly by fast.
Favorite Quote: “Never ask someone to tell you who you are. You tell them.”
Jessica Sweet doesn’t want to go home to her uber religious parents for the summer but her sublet won’t be available for her to move into for a week. When she is unable to stay with a friend, her nemesis, the sexy cocky Riley Mann, offers her a place to stay with him.
Riley has enough going on with trying to keep custody of his younger brothers, he doesn’t need a ditzy debutante cramping his style, but he also can’t leave her with no place to live. As Jessica and Riley spend more time together, they realize that their first impressions of each other were wrong and soon they fall into a comfortable routine that develops into deeper feelings. But while Jessica has never had a problem sleeping with a guy, she doesn’t know how to handle a relationship without sex.
Jessica finds herself in a difficult position concerning her future and Riley when her parents find out about her deception. Can she let go of her fears or will she lose the only man for her?
Sweet is a sexy, romantic, emotional coming of age new adult that uses a different approach to the defining romance than the usual NA offerings. Crisp writing, indulgent humor, and a smooth flowing storyline makes it incredibly easy to become fully invested in this book. Heavily character driven, we are instantly engaged with our hero and heroine from first contact. Jessica, our heroine, was first introduced in book one, True. She, along with a friend, set up their roommate Rory to lose her virginity to her now boyfriend, Tyler Mann. Jessica has issues in that she is unsure of her place in the world. Her ultra conservative religious parents place unrealistic expectations on her and punish her when she realistically fails. Because of this, Jessica doesn’t place a lot of value on herself. With an innate fear of rejection, a friends with benefits relationship works better for her. She has no expectations and can’t be disappointed or more importantly, can’t disappoint anyone. This is not to say she has no respect for herself, because she does in spades. She doesn’t take any crap about the way she lives her life.
“I don’t need to be judged, Riley.”
She is strong, intelligent, loyal, and honest. She also has an incredible amount of snark that makes for some funny scenes.
“You think the air freshener smells worse than this room did?” I was in awe. In my opinion it already smelled better from the ocean breeze mister and the air blowing in through the open window. “This thing smells like dead old lady.” I laughed. “It’s called ocean breeze.” “No ocean I’ve ever been to smelled like that.” “How many oceans have you been to?” He grinned. “None.” “Have you smelled dead old lady?”
Riley is a fascinating contradiction in his make up. He is just like Jessica in some key ways. He too is loyal, intelligent, and honest. He works hard and has had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders for years. He and his brother Tyler protected their younger brothers from their mom’s drug addiction while struggling to keep her from killing herself. Now with his mother gone and Tyler’s drug arrest, he is having to go for custody of the boys all by himself. The reason I say he’s a contradiction is that the persona he shows the world doesn’t match what’s inside. Gorgeous, tattooed, with a cocky ego, you instantly think he’s a player but that is the furthest thing from the truth and in this way he and Jessica are very different. Riley doesn’t believe in sex just to scratch an itch. No friends with benefits. No one night stands. Riley believes sex should only occur between two people after they have developed a relationship that has a chance of going somewhere.
“I rolled my eyes. “So having sex now, pre-relationship or dating, would have made us friends with benefits and we can’t have that.” “No! We’re not actually friends, you know. You can’t be friends with someone you want to have sex with, you just can’t.” “You’ve been saying we’re friends all week! So if we’re not really friends, then you want me to be a booty call, clearly.” “No, damn it. A booty call is someone you just have sex with, nothing else. No hanging out, no conversation. You just text and make plans to hook up.” “I’m guessing you don’t spend the night either.” “No, of course not.” He sounded frustrated, which was exactly how I felt. “You’ve given this so much thought it scares me.” I tossed my magazine on the floor and myself on the bed. “You’re worse than a girl and I’m done with this conversation.”
McCarthy builds the romance between Jessica and Riley very slowly. Though their chemistry is apparent from the beginning, they both struggle with their friendship; especially Jessica as this is uncharted territory for her. Jessica is confused by Riley’s no sex edict and finds herself struggling not to fall back into her old habits.
“I’m sorry,” I said. In the dark room, he leaned over and gave me a half smile. “Vodka happens. No big deal.” That wasn’t what I meant. I was trying to tell him that I was sorry for being me.
Watching them each let down their barriers and let each other in was interesting to watch. McCarty uses their personalities to show us that even with their much different backgrounds, they are more similar than they first imagine. I liked that they communicated their feelings to one another and neither let the other get away with deflecting. Though the romance remains the main element of the storyline, McCarthy intertwines it with the multiple plot lines, using them to further develop Jessica’s and Riley’s relationship and guide it along the path to love.
“I want to be important to you. Special…Do you know how stupid I feel saying that? I think my balls just dropped to the floor.”
Character development is at a premium as we watch Jessica and Riley grow and become more comfortable with themselves without changing the basic elements that makes them so enjoyable. I liked that neither felt they really had to change in order to be with each other. The changes they make are internal and are more reflective than extreme. Riley’s love for his family is heartwarming and Jessica fills a void he didn’t even know existed. Jessica learns to love herself and to stop trying to please everyone else.
Though we don’t see as much secondary character interaction in here as we did in True, we still get some moments with Tyler, Rory, and of course, Riley’s mischievous brothers. All of them add depth, humor, and realism to the story. I enjoyed watching the grand reveal between Jessica, Riley, and Tyler. I honestly can’t imagine how I would have reacted in that situation. It does give Jessica some insight into Riley and herself. She learns that her actions have consequences regardless of her intentions. Riley learns that snap judgments are not cool and sometimes you shouldn’t ask questions if you don’t want to hear the answers.
Sweet is a wonderful love story that takes us on a journey filled with love, laughter, growth, and angst to led us to a respectable HFN. Though some may be incredulous at the ending, I found it keeping in the way Riley thinks. McCarthy continues to entertain with the second installment of True Believers series. She also includes a brief look at book three, Believe, which releases in January 2014.
Welcome to the roaring twenties. Illegal booze, speakeasies, and sexual/economic freedom made for golden times as the world prospered after Word War One. Gangsters and G-Men battled in the streets as the public turns a blind eye to the law of prohibition.
Aida Palmer, a beautifully freckled hot tempered spirit medium, works at the popular nightclub, the Gris-Gris, where she entertains crowds with her gifts. Aida is not a fraud or charlatan. Her gifts are true and because of this, she finds herself helping one of the top bootleggers in the city, Winter Magnusson. Winter, a handsome giant of a man, has come to see Aida’s boss, Velma Toussaint, a known witch, when he finds himself overrun with ghosts. Velma sends for Aida and between the two of them, they discover he’s been cursed. Aida gets rid of the ghosts while Velma un hexs Winter but it leaves him still with a huge problem. Who wants Winter out of the way?
Winter hires Aida into helping him rid his home of more ghosts and soon they find themselves entangled in more than just a mystery. Attraction sparks between them and the flames only get hotter as this pair of unlikely lovers chase clues from the seedy underbelly of Chinatown to the glittering homes of the Pacific Heights upper crust. As they get closer to discovering the root of Winter’s problems, they discover that they each have their own personal demons to exorcise if they want a relationship in this world.
Bitter Spirits is the first installment in a historical PNR series by Jenn Bennett. Set in the 20’s, Bennett pays homage to the roaring twenties while adding a unique twist by introducing ghosts, zombies, and magic to the era. Luscious world building paints an intriguing portrait of San Francisco’s landscape during the 20’s while strong well defined characters and an intriguing action packed storyline engages the reader to the end. Humorous banter and a sweet sexy romance blends well with the hint of danger that permeates the story. Our protagonists, Aida Palmer and Winter Magnusson, control the story from the start and our journey begins with a bang.
I thoroughly enjoyed Bitter Spirits. A fun book whose pacing and tempo is spot on. The beginning starts out a little slow but the set up of the storyline and arc holds your attention. Though touted as a PNR, I felt the storyline was decidedly stronger on the romance side than the paranormal. The paranormal aspects are used more as plot devices and elevate the story rather than hold equal footing. What makes the story for me are the characters.
Aida, a profitable medium, doesn’t define herself by her gifts. She is independent, modern, and generally content with life. Her life is filled with friends though she keeps herself emotionally distant at times. She has some personal baggage she carries but it doesn’t weigh her down. Orphaned at an early age, she learned along time ago that the only one she can really depend on his herself. Winter is the same as Aida in some ways. His scarred face hints at a dark past which he hides with his gregarious personality and business. Born into a rich family with strong ties to bootlegging, he continues the family legacy, even allowing them to make some decisions for him which weren’t in his best interest. This causes him to harbor guilt and a distrust of people in general; especially women. But Aida intrigues him from the get go and he finds himself having to do something he hasn’t had to do in a while. Chase a woman. Both are opinionated, jealous, stubborn, fanatically loyal, and will give their lives for the right person. Their scarred imperfections only endear them to the reader.
Their romance builds slowly, allowing for a believable journey and resolution. I enjoyed that Winter and Aida get to know one another and enjoy their time together before becoming intimate. Their playful bickering was fun to watch and made for some laugh out loud moments. As they become more intimate, Bennett writes some wonderfully sensuous and subtly erotic scenes that had me wanting a bootlegger for myself.
A cast of viable well defined secondary characters only serve to further endear you to the story. Velma, Aida’s boss and owner of the Gris-Gris is a bit of a mystery with her magical powers. I do hope Bennett has a book planned for her. Winter’s man servant Bo is a wonderful side kick and I look forward to seeing exactly what parts he will play in the future. Meeting the various other crime bosses and bootleggers makes the era seem even more alive, especially the integration of the Chinese tong. The mystery of Winter’s curser resolves fast and furious with some interesting subplots. My only wish was that the villain had been integrated more into the story. As I stated earlier, the romance is heavy in here and maintains a strong presence, regulating everything else to a distinct second place.
Bitter Spirits is a wonderfully entertaining story in bribed with magic, history, and a charming romance. I look forward to the second installment, Grim Shadows, set to release June 3, 2014, which is the story of Winter’s brother, Lowe.