I picked this up on a whim after hearing Grace Draven lavish praise upon it. Thoroughly enjoyed. A well written pnr with just the right amt of darknesI picked this up on a whim after hearing Grace Draven lavish praise upon it. Thoroughly enjoyed. A well written pnr with just the right amt of darkness and humor.
Frankly, the cover, the premise, and heroine were the only good things about this book. I was fully expecting some fun, sexy, and lightweight escapismFrankly, the cover, the premise, and heroine were the only good things about this book. I was fully expecting some fun, sexy, and lightweight escapism. Instead we get a hero who's a complete arse, a cast of boring stereotypical characters, a narrative that flips between somewhat engaging and a bad porn script, and a storyline that had so much potential but fails on all levels. ...more
Favorite Quote: “Any pizza is personal-sized if you believe in yourself.”
Tallulah Corentine expected some down time after cheating death a few times in her last assignment but her employer isn’t the most considerate of bosses. In fact Seth, the God of Storms, isn’t considerate at all. When Tallulah is contacted by the Seattle PD about a body, she’s dismayed to find a child bearing the mark of Seth has been murdered and fears her old boyfriend Prescott, the right hand of death, has had a “hand’ in it. Tallulah soon learns that this is one of eleven murders that span the countryside. All soon to be clerics to the gods and goddesses.
As every cleric and priest in North America make their way to Las Vegas for the annual Convention of the Gods, Tallulah worries that they have all just painted a huge target on their backs. With the help of a demi-god, a teenage stowaway, and a man who just screams “bad luck” Tallulah has to discover and stop this killer before they strike again.
Driving Rain is the second in Sierra Dean’s delightfully dark and amusingly suburban-like urban fantasy series that pairs a smart mouth cleric for the God of Storms with his son, a gorgeous demi-god trying to find his footing in this new to him world. A heavy character driven base fuels the story with snappy wit infused dialogue, an intriguing mystery, and some forbidden romance as it flows smoothly along towards the end. Fans of the show Supernatural are sure to enjoy this series as the heroine, Tallulah, reminds me heavily of Dean Winchester and like Dean, her job is thankless, painful, and often done under duress. Leo, her current unwanted sidekick, is a shoe-in for Sam (Dean’s long suffering brother).
“No, I don’t need sidekick . I don’t need an assistant. I work alone.”
Unlike book one, this installment is pretty low key action wise and not filled with constant danger. In fact, I really felt this installment was extremely calm; focusing on more on emotional internal issues. Tallulah is extremely excited for the annual Convention of the Gods. Not only is it a three-day long party, it will give her a chance to see Cade, the bad luck priest of Audra and a romantic interest, and her twin sister Sunny, a cleric for Apollo. She hasn’t seen her twin in over five years and any attempts to stay in constant touch with her would have drawn unwanted attention to them. Family, companionship, and love are the three things Tallulah misses the most that are denied to her due to the rules for clerics. The gods and goddesses don’t like being second best to anything or anyone so any relationships beyond their own temple are forbidden.
“I felt a pang, thinking of the life my sister and I might have had if not for the stupid marks we’d been born with. I hadn’t even had a chance to imagine being something else because I’d known my whole life this was my fate.”
Tallulah Corentine is the type of urban fantasy heroine I love. Strong, intelligent, loyal, and fallible. Born with a special mark that announced to the world she was a vessel for a God, her future was decided without her knowledge or input. Tallulah is a cheer-worthy urban fantasy heroine. Her love of American muscle cars and 80s hair metal bands give her an amusing and decidedly human edge. Tallulah has been with Seth since her parents handed her over to his temple as a child and while she resents 99.9% of her time spent working for him, there is that 1%-that single moment when her life feels more of a gift than a curse.
“In my whole life I’d never had people cheer like that for what I did. I felt…I felt special. I felt seen.”
A series of plotlines hold your attention while keeping the main storyline flowing smoothly. We learn Tallulah is still dealing with the fallout from her last gig and she has been charged by a God to find the person responsible for killing the cleric. Deans use of time travel in the resolution of the main conflict was surprising (we don’t see much time traveling anymore)but felt a tad lazy in its attempts to resolve a previous plotline. I’m curious to see if Dean writes in a paradox for Tallula to solve in the future.
Dean brings back her dynamic secondary cast to help Tallulah with an introduction of a few new faces to help. One such new face hits Tallulah hard in the heart as she tries to show a teenager that being a cleric is anything but the glamorous and fun money making gig she seems to think it is.
“So it’s a take your juvenile delinquent to work day, then?”
I love the dynamics with which Dean infuses her characters. These well developed entities are so deliciously layered that you aren’t sure what their game is but you can’t wait to find out. This world is so open to more exploration. Dean has not even begun to tap into it’s potential for new adventures and new characters in which to help Tallulah carry them out.
Through Driving Rain takes a different route than book one, it still offers fans the action, suspense, humor, and unpredictability that we have come to expect from Sierra Dean. I do wish the villain had been a bit more involved in the story. The reasoning behind the murders was sad but I felt there was more to it then we were told. Regardless, I loved revisiting with Tallulah, Leo, and the rest of the gang and getting a deeper, more personal look into the emotional side of Tallulah. I look forward to the next book in the series-Highway to Hail-which is slated to release early 2018.
Favorite Quote: “Give her hell, Sam Hamilton. And try to look less serial killer and more solid citizen. Smile, why don’t you?” He forced a smile at her. Willie blinked. “Eh, maybe not.”
Sam Hamilton has been feeling about lonely since his best friend found his soulmate. When he meets Ivy Stephens, a young lady who is interested in adopting one of the strays he helps to rehome, Sam falls hard and fast. But Sam has some serious baggage in his life. Baggage that will do anything to make sure Sam’s attention stays firmly on them. As Sam and Ivy grow closer, Sam is worried Ivy may be too nice to fit into his life. But Ivy soon proves to Sam and everyone else that being nice doesn’t mean she can’t get down and dirty when she needs to.
Zero to Sixty is the third installment in Marie Harte’s sexy and humorous Body Shop Bad Boys. This series spins off her McCauley brothers series with its focus lasered on the Webster Garage and the four gorgeous, sexy, commitment-phobic mechanics who work there. There is some character/storyline crossover but it’s mild and not invasive. Each book can be read as a standalone though previous romance storylines carry over.
Harte introduces Ivy Stephens to Sam Hamilton with a bit of a meet cute. Ivy is out searching for a stray puppy (Cookie) she has been taking care of on and off. Sam is also out looking for Cookie. They run into one another and Sam agrees to keep Cookie at his home until Ivy can talk to her landlord about having a pet. Sam decides the best way to get to know this gorgeous woman better is to vet her for Cookie’s sake through a few “dates.”
“Ah, just so we’re clear, we don’t give dogs away to just anyone who wants them.”
“I mean, puppies are popular. We’d have no problem getting him a good home. A friend of mine was asking about this little guy just the other week.” She frowned. “I have a good home.”
“If you’re not busy tomorrow night, we can grab a beer or something. Talk about plans for Cookie.”
I reviewed the first two books in the series- Test Drive and Road Assistance-and thoroughly enjoyed. Harte does a wonderful job of individualizing the characters and storyline so you don’t feel as if you’re reading the same romantic set up with just different names. This installment felt softer and less conflicted than the first two. The same engaging narrative, sexually enhanced romance and endearingly characters are present but Harte chooses to leave the dramatics by the curb and gently walk this couple to their HEA.
Sam is the best friend and roommate of Foley Sangers (the hero of Road Assistance). Also a mechanic at Webster’s Garage, Sam was pretty much raised by Foley’s mom, Eleanor, his own mother an abusive addict. Single, gorgeous, and ripped, Sam is honest to a fault and a total gentleman despite what his size and mannerisms suggest. A bit of a loner, Sam’s relationships with the opposite sex consists mainly of hook ups. The most important things in Sam’s life are Foley, Foley’s mom, and his job.
Ivy is a massage therapist who stays to herself. Intelligent, good looking, and a genuinely nice person, Ivy is also a bit of a loner as her family has all but abandoned her for reasons unknown and her last serious boyfriend used her to get through school then dumped her. Ivy doesn’t carry a chip on her shoulder like Sam does. She is content with herself and her life.
Harte takes Sam and Ivy’s relationship slow, allowing them the time to get to know one another using an appealing mixture of trepidation and awkwardness. Opposite attraction romances are the best and Harte does this one with justice. Fantastic dialogue, dry humorous wit, and a layered storyline allows readers to see beneath the surface and experience first hand the emotional issues they are dealing with. Ivy has pretty much laid her demons to rest but Sam is still struggling with his childhood, his time in prison, and general feelings of unworthiness. Ivy sees Sam and accepts him as he is because she understands the root of his pain. She is someone he has unknowingly been searching for. I love the humor she uses to help defuse his guilt and shame.
“So there you have it. You’re dating an ex-con.”
“Can I ask you something personal?”
“Is it true every prisoner makes license plates? Did you wear black and white striped uniforms? Have a ball chained to your ankle? Break up rocks with an Acme pickaxe?”
“You watch way too much TV.”
The sexual role reversal in here is interesting and works with the overall tone of story. Ivy is the one who not only sets the parameters of their relationship but also initiates the initial sexual aspect. She instinctively understands that Sam has some confusion between intimacy and sex and gives him all the power as she sets out to seduce him.
“You said I can touch you, right?”
“Yeah, don’t stop. Just keep petting me, baby.” He blinked at her once, then shut his eyes and groaned. “I’m gonna sit…right…here.” He shook, then sat unmoving, breathing hard.
“God, you’re gorgeous.” She stroked him from his chest to his belly button, never having been so close to perfection before. Then, because she figured the poor man had suffered enough, and her underwear would never be salvaged if she kept stringing this out, she unsnapped his jeans.
He started, his eyes remaining closed.
“You still okay?”
He swallowed. “Yeah.”
Barely a whisper, but he’d given consent.
Of course, no Harte book would be complete without the antics of the rambunctious Webster mechanics and various other characters from this series. They all step in, unasked, to help Sam deal with these new feelings of his and to explain why Rays wasn’t the right choice for a first date. Harte introduces a few new characters whose personalities fit right in with this bunch and I hope we see more of them in the future.
Zero to Sixty is a lightweight romance contemporary brimming laughter, love, and family. Perfect escapism for the romance lover in all of us. Looking forward to book four, Collision Course, which is Lou’s story. *fist pump* Release date is 10/27/2017.
Favorite Quote: “Ironman sounds suspicious to me. What are the others?”
“There’s Thor, the Hulk,” he began.
“Sounds like porn.”
The 44th case in Lieutenant Eve Dallas’ murder book opens to Eve and Roarke nearly hitting a young lady who walks out in front of their car. Naked, bloody, and obviously injured, they take her to the nearest hospital where they learn her name is Daphne Strazza, wife to renowned surgeon Dr. Anthony Strazza. A quick case of the house shows the husband is dead, brutally beaten to death, and the house robbed. The only clue they can get out the traumatized Daphne is that it was “the Devil.”
As Eve and Peabody investigate, they learn that this one in a string of related crimes where couples are targeted and terrorized by a masked intruder but the first where a death has occurred. They also learn that Dr. Strazza may have been a wonderful surgeon, he was a terrible person and his wife was a victim of abuse before the crime even occurred.
As Eve races against the clock to find and stop the person responsible for these heinous crimes, she must also deal with flashbacks from her own childhood as she realizes the similarities between herself and Daphne Strazza are greater than she first suspected. But that doesn’t stop her from fighting for all the victims in this case. Even the ones who don’t seem to deserve it.
“No matter your race, creed, sexual orientation, or political affiliation, we protect and serve. Because you could get dead.’”
“Even if you were an asshole. We added an addendum on”
I’m a huge fan of J.D Robb’s In Death mystery/thriller series. While in no form or fashion can these mysteries be considered cozies, there is a certain appeal to the familiarity of the world and the characters who preside in it. Eve is a formidable heroine who has captivated readers from the beginning. We have watched her evolve from abused child to top notch cop through her memories. We have witnessed her falling desperately in love with her husband Roarke and eventually learning to not only accept the fact she deserves love but have seen her fight for that love. We have watched her make lifelong friends, develop pseudo family bonds with an older trust confidant, and finally grow comfortable in her own skin.
“The gods, she decided, had opted to mix together all the best elements of warrior, poet, angel-the fallen variety to add some spice-and then deemed he’d love an unsociable, badass murder cop.”
This is one of Robb’s darker mysteries with a healthy dose of suspense and intrigue. I want to note that there are triggers in here that may distress some readers. Per usual, Eve and her team use their skills and knowledge to try and find a serial rapist before he strikes again. The pacing and dialogue flow at a comfortable speed and I enjoy the ease at which Robb flows between Eve’s personal life and her professional one. As the nature of the crimes committed speaks personally to Eve, we see the connections made and the flashbacks that plague Eve. She forms a personal connection with female survivors; especially Daphne Strazza.
“You came here. You asked to help someone. You are no weak sister. “
Old friends along with some new ones take readers through a gauntlet of emotions-making us laugh, rage, and shed a few tears as Eve hunts her prey. Eve’s continued mangling of familiar sayings only adds to the feelings of comfort and familiarity. The softer storyline allows readers to spend more time with the NYSPD and the family style atmosphere only further enhances how much the story and characters have grown. The romance and chemistry between Eve and Roarke is still blazingly hot and Robb doesn’t cheat readers out of their private times together.
The ending was intense but predictable. I figure out early on who the villain was and everyone knows Eve ALWAYS gets her ‘man but regardless the journey was a solid read. Echoes in Death is a welcomed addition to the series, giving readers a suspenseful mystery to help solve and a dynamic couple whose love affair continues to capture our attention even 44 books in. I love visiting NY with Robb and look forward to the next installment.
I picked up Mack Daddy on a whim. The title and cover caught my eye and I am a sucker for a good second chance romance. Mack Daddy tells us thGrade: C
I picked up Mack Daddy on a whim. The title and cover caught my eye and I am a sucker for a good second chance romance. Mack Daddy tells us the story of Mac (McKenzie) and Frankie. College roommates whose friendship turns to something much more but circumstances made it impossible for them to be together. Now 8 years later, Mack and Frankie are given another chance at love but again the circumstances aren't quite right. Will they let this opportunity pass again or will they finally seize their destiny?
Ward begins the story in the present while giving us the background of this couple's relationship using the past. Ward's humor shines through and I found myself quite amused for the first 1/2 of the book. The second half wasn't as entertaining. The pacing slows down dramatically and I found Mack and Frankie's reconnection extremely verbose and somewhat repetitive. The leads seem to get stuck in a rut. I was put off by Ward's attempts to describe someone with OCD. The last 10-15% introduces a huge twist that is nothing more than a plot device to help smooth over any lingering feelings of dislike over Mack and Frankie's emotional/mental cheating and I really felt it cheapened the story.
All in all an okay story but definitely not one of Ward's better endeavors. ...more
Favorite Quote: “Nothing ruins a dinner party like expertise.”
Edward (Ward) Reeve is a wealthy inventor and the illegitimate son of an Earl. He has recently gained guardianship of his two younger half siblings (Lizzie and Otis) after his mother passed away. Due to the children’s unusual upbringing, they were raised in a traveling theater troupe, Ward needs a governess immediately in order to get their education up to par and prepare them for their entrance into society.
Mrs. Eugenia Snowe is a widower who chose to open a business centering around governesses after her husband passed away. Her registry has a waiting list that spans months and her governesses are much in demand by the ton. A lady by birth and marriage, Eugenia is not nor has ever been a governess and does not care that she is looked down upon by certain members of society for her “work.” She is content in her life.
After a Snowe governess deserts her post at the Reeve household, Ward comes to the registry and mistakes Eugenia as a former governess, assuming no lady of rank would ever run a business. He sets out to seduce her into coming to work for him. He wants her for his siblings and his bed.
Eugenia agrees after some amusing sexual persuasion and a minor kidnapping and soon finds herself falling for Ward. But Ward’s own scandalous childhood has him demanding only the best for Lizzie and Otis. He will do whatever it takes to keep any more taint and scandal from darkening their lives. Even if it means giving up Eugenia.
I have long enjoyed Eloisa James’ historical romances. Her penchant for writing strong, intelligent, forward driven heroines and heroes who often buck the social norms of their time makes her stories an absolute delight to read. I also enjoy reading about the offspring of previous favorite characters all grown up and ready for a romance of their own. Fans will be pleased to see Seven Minutes in Heaven reintroduces us to Eugenia Snowe and Edward Reeves whom we met as children in the original Desperate Duchess series. As always, James’ pens a charming adventure that brings together two intelligent, spirited, and witty protagonists for a swoon-worthy romance.
Eugenia and Ward are a joy to get to know both as individuals and as a couple. Their chemistry sparks at their first meeting and only flames higher the more time they spend together. Though an unlikely match, their relationship flourishes and deepens as they become further acquainted with one another. While Eugenia’s beauty and widow status are what initially attracts Ward, it’s her charm, passion, intelligence, and genuine caring of his siblings that soon captivates him. He gradually realizes that the face she presents to society only serves to hide a complex woman. Ward is also not what Eugenia initially thought him to be. He has a strong sense of convention, conviction, and compassion behind his devil may care attitude that only strengthens her attraction as she uncovers his many facets. As she spends more time with him, she realizes that he may be exactly what she needs.
This wasn’t making love. This was making fun.
Amusing and tantalizing love scenes are used to tease the reader and show deepening affection that is slowly building between them. I do adore a couple who can have fun in and out of bed and this couple excels-the french letter scene is hilarious. They have a romantic sensual way about them that reassures the reader that they could very well have a very happy future together.
Had she just promised to be indecent with him at a later time…out of the carriage?
His wanton grin confirmed that she had.
“Just a minute,” she said hastily.
“I would wait a lifetime for you, Eugenia.”
The main plotlines are pretty low key in terms of conflict. Grief is the base on which this story is built. Everyone in here is mourning something. Though Eugenia has been widowed for seven years, she deeply loved her husband and still grieves for him. I like that James did not vilify him in order to facilitate her relationship with Ward. The children grieve the loss of their parents, acting out in unusual fashions as children often do. Ward himself not only grieves for what the children must have gone through (he knows what their mother was like) but also for his own childhood that never let him forget he was a bastard.
You’re wretched nuisances, but you’re my nuisances.
I admit a part of me was irritated at the hamfisted way the main source of conflict was handled. One conversation-one sentence-would have resolved the whole thing but James chooses to continue with the misconception and drags it out far longer than necessary.
A personable cast of secondary characters round out the story, adding depth and a sense of continuity. Lizzie and Otis are delightful and James’ does an excellent job of allowing us to see the damage done to them and Ward’s attempts to help them heal. He truly loves them and even though he makes some mistakes, everything he does is out of love. I enjoyed seeing cameos from previous characters (Mia, Villiers, India). It’s always nice to see where everyone is at in their lives after their initial stories are told.
The resolution wrenches the heart but James quickly sets our hero straight with some outside help. He does an excellent job of groveling and Eugenia stays true to herself and her heart to the very end.
Seven Minutes in Heaven is another winner from Eloisa James that gives readers a joyful and heartwarming story of love, laughter, forgiveness, and family.
Cross My Heart is a sweet and sweet quick read that focuses on Liam Cross and the woman who steals his heart-Isis. Told from Iris's point of view, IriCross My Heart is a sweet and sweet quick read that focuses on Liam Cross and the woman who steals his heart-Isis. Told from Iris's point of view, Iris and Liam meet at his brother Lee's restaurant though his being a cop makes her instinctively weary. Homeless, she does the best she can and keeps to herself though the Cross family quickly recognizes a fellow survivor and slowly begins to absorb her into their family. Well written with engaging dialogue and a plausible storyline, Cosway takes her time fleshing out Iris and building the romance between her and Liam. A hint of steam gives the story some heat and Conway is sure to end the story with an HFN and hints to the last book and brother-Trevor. ...more
Favorite Quote: “This is so good. Thanks for making me shower.”
On the heels of Higgins’ entertaining and thought-provoking If You Only Knew, Higgins revisits her sleepy little town of Cambry-on-Hudson, New York in On Second Thought. Using the dysfunctional O’Leary family and the timeless topics of love, loss, family, and second chances, Higgins builds a story on the relationship between two half sisters who, despite their murky history, find themselves growing closer as they bond over their mutual losses and unknown future.
Kate O’Leary wasn’t looking for love when she met her husband. At 39 years old, Kate played the dating game for years only to discover as she got older being single wasn’t a death sentence. She meets her husband Nathan while photographing a wedding and after a brief courtship, they marry. Four months later, Nathan dies in a tragic accident. Kate is utterly shocked by how fast she found and lost at love and now is unsure where to go from here.
Ainsley O’Leary has been with her boyfriend, Eric Fisher, for eleven years. She has loved and cared for him through the good and bad times and fully expects him to finally pop the question at a party they are throwing to celebrate his being cancer free for 18 months. After her brother in law’s accident, she is stunned when Eric uses Nathan’s death as an excuse to move on. Without her.
Lost and homeless, Ainsley moves in with Kate and attempts to help her cope with losing Nathan while trying to understand herself how the man she loved for so long could toss her away like trash. As Ainsley and Kate both stagger through the stages of grief in their own way, they learn more about themselves, each other, and the people around them.
I have been a fan of Kristan Higgins’ writing for years. Her entertainingly flawed characters, small town eccentricity, complicated romances, and underlying base of realism provides a wonderful sense of escapism for those who enjoy a hearty laugh as they watch these characters navigate the pitfalls of love as they struggle to find their footing in the world. I like this new direction that Higgins’ is taking in her writing though I can’t place it firmly in one genre or the other. Higgins’ focus on Kate and Ainsley’s life learning journey together into the next period of their lives harkens to women’s fiction while the various romances that decorate the story are a nod to the contemporary. Either way you choose to view this story, it is a must read for all fans.
Alternating the narrative between Kate and Ainsley, we flash between the past and the present, gaining insight not only into their personal lives but also the relationships they have cultivated along the way. It’s interesting to see certain scenes from both perspectives and the different ways they chose to respond. Both have adopted certain coping mechanisms as adults in response to their chaotic childhood; Kate is somewhat reserved, using her camera as a shield while Ainsley is a people person who chooses to be as indispensable as she can in order to prove her worth.
Higgins layers Kate and Ainsley’s feelings with plenty of laughter, sorrow, pain, and honesty. You can feel the range of emotions these women are experiencing and share with them every step of the way. Kate is furious at Nathan for dying so suddenly and feels guilty for that anger. She’s not only mourning the loss of his life but also the loss of her own. She gave up almost everything tangible in order to be with him and now he’s left her alone in a life she only felt a part of because of him. She struggles to stay connected with his family only to realize that grief is the only thing they have left in common.
Ainsley’s is not only mourning the loss of her lover but also her relationship with his parents. Her own mother died young and she was raised by Kate’s mom and her dad. Her father was not around much due to his job, her siblings were much older, and she always felt like a burden to her stepmother so Eric’s parents became the family she always wanted. She is angry at all the time she invested into the relationship, the things she took for granted, but mostly with Eric’s careless treatment of her. He broke it off with no warning and then blogged about it for the whole world to see. She was humiliated and hurt by his actions.
Kate and Ainsley’s journey is bolstered by a strong and vibrant cast of secondary characters contributes their own stories, adding the necessary pieces to the puzzle until the full picture evolves. We meet friends, bosses, exes, and family members in casual, seeming innocuous settings only to be shown later their impact and how much the past can affect our futures. I loved meeting the people who had a hand in creating the women Kate and Ainsley are today and I enjoyed seeing some familiar faces from If You Only Knew.
Once again Higgins’ thoroughly entertains and delights while tugging at your heartstrings as she invites readers to share in her latest release, On Second Thought.
Fans of the hit show Empire and deliciously outrageous soap operas will gobble up Lisa Marie Perry’s latest erotic offering like it’s their last suppeFans of the hit show Empire and deliciously outrageous soap operas will gobble up Lisa Marie Perry’s latest erotic offering like it’s their last supper. Featuring a hip hop record company on the brink of failure, a pair of siblings reunite to take back the company that was stolen from them by their so called friends and lovers. Though the romance is a strong element, readers will willing ride this crazy train through all the drama of heartbreaking betrayal, firefueled revenge, blistering hot erotic sex, and a crazy cast of characters who you will love to hate and hate to love....more
Favorite Quote: “Well, you know how we Americans are. Rebelling against the crown since 1776.”
Crown Prince Colin Sinclair and his royal siblings are forced to flee to to the United States after a coup in their country results in the assignation of their parents. Settling in Charlotte, NC Colin becomes the official caregiver with some help from friend. When their cover is blown and plastered all over the tabloids for the world to see, their country offers Colin a deal. Marry a princess of their choosing and the Sinclair family will be allowed to return home. But Colin is tired of being at the mercy of his country’s government. Taking matters into his own hands, he proposes marriage to the one person who has held his heart for ten years.
Della Hughes may have met the Sinclairs under less than happy circumstances but over the years she has grown to love them all, especially the oldest, Colin. Della doesn’t believe in fairy tales or happily ever afters but when she learns her prince charming is REALLY a prince, she is shocked. Willing to do anything for this family, Della agrees to a marriage of convenience but when the honeymoon goes from fake to real, Della isn’t sure she can walk away at the end, Or if she even wants too.
Royal Scandal is the first book in Marquita Valentine’s Royals in Exile series. Set in the US and the Isle of Man (a real country-part of the British Crown), the story revolves around the Sinclair family and their fight to regain their heritage. I’ve been enjoying the new trend of royals falling for commoners romances that have been trending the last few months. It is for me the ultimate modern fairytale. Lightweight and humorous, this friends to lovers romance is relatively low in angst and conflict with a surprisingly bite of heat. Valentine focuses on Colin’s and Della’s romance foremost but effortlessly blends in the history of happened to their parents and the cause while advancing each sibling’s story to prepare them for their own stories.
The story opens with Colin and his brother Theo trying to console their colicky youngest brother. Valentine gives us the bare bones of what is happening and sets the stage for the romance to come. When one of the family bodyguards informs them they have a visitor, Colin is shocked by a gorgeous and bold young woman demanding to know why her family is being evicted from their home. Colin realizes that his family’s need for privacy is forcing the caretakers out onto the streets. He let them stay and gains a friend in the process. Della Hughes. The book then jumps forward ten years in time which dismayed me a little. We are told of the depth of the friendship Della and Colin holds and everything she has done for the family but I would have enjoyed seeing some of it play out. Della essentially adopts the role of “mother” to the babies and helps Colin with the older ones during that time.
I liked Colin and Della. In fact, I liked all the siblings. Each one is individually fleshed out and Valentine makes sure we see their differences and the possible snags that may hamper their futures. Colin is the oldest and he takes his responsibility seriously. Exiled at age nineteen, he assumes the parental role over all of them (Theo- age seventeen and the twins, Charlotte and Imogen-age fourteen) though the ones that depend on him most are the two youngest Sinclairs. Aiden, age fifteen months and Pierce, age four months who are some seriously cute kids. Though fashioned somewhat as plot devices, Valentine characterizes them in a way that you instantly forgive her. Colin is seriously overwhelmed but I liked that he isn’t portrayed as a martyr. He has fallen for Della hard but doesn’t want to ruin their friendship. Especially since his future remains uncertain and he has not been completely honest with her about who he really is. Intelligent, understated, loyal, and funny with sexy dominant side that comes out later on.
“Do be a good girl and sit very still while I wash you.”
He tweaks a nipple and desire makes me whimper.
“That’s yes, your highness.”
Della is his perfect match. Also smart, sexy, loyal, and funny, she gives as good as she get and isn’t one to play games. The chemistry is sweet and steamy with some nicely done longing and sexy internal thoughts. The added bonus of their history together only adds to the overall appeal. She too fell for Colin years ago but feels he only sees her as a friend. I love the relationship she has with Colin and his family. It has a separate quality to it that didn’t seem dependant on the attraction between her and Colin.
The marriage is the pivot of the story and its pacing increases two-fold. This couple does a rapid about-face, going from platonic and willing to suffer in silence for their love to full frontal lust filled mattress dancing. While Valentine expands on the romance, she also expands on the somewhat machiavellian plot behind the family’s exile. The two storylines start out running parallel and slowly begin to intertwine. I enjoyed watching Colin and Della’s love for one another truly blossom and grow once they got out of each other’s way and the political machinations were interesting. Unfortunately, the storylines begin to compete against each other. I felt the seriousness of exile plotline cast a small shadow over the romance.
I also had an issue with Colin’s omission of some important details. Some things he remained tight-lipped about for too long while others he allowed Della to make her own assumptions about, knowing when she found out she’d be furious. And she was. I think she deserved a bit more groveling and explanation on his end though overall his reasons were understandable.
The ending gives Colin and Della the happily ever after they both deserve and a nice little epilogue to clue us into the next Sinclair sibling’s story.
Royal Scandals is altogether a royally fun and flirty romance that engages and satisfies despite the few issues I encountered. I am looking forward to the next in the series, Royal Affair, which is set to release March 7, 2017.
Safe Bet takes us back into the lives of this series dream couple-Drew and Fable-with a few additions. Readers of the series will remember WadeGrade B
Safe Bet takes us back into the lives of this series dream couple-Drew and Fable-with a few additions. Readers of the series will remember Wade (childhood friend of Owen’s) and welcome newcomer Sidney. Wade was recently signed to the SF 49ers and Sidney has been hired on as a nanny/personal assistant after her parent’s cut her off for lying about her activities. When a series of random circumstances set off rumors that Drew and Sidney are having an affair, Drew and Fable come up with the ultimate plan-Sidney and Wade will pretend date for a week and set the paparazzi straight. Only, when Sidney and Wade get to know each other better, all bets are off.
This is an adorable romance contemporary with a hint of spice. Little angst and steamy chemistry surround two young adults just starting out-one who questions the legitimacy of his dream and the other who is still discovering theirs. A faint coming of age feel to the narrative blends well with the storyline. I enjoyed the fact that while both characters had a past, neither were judged for it. Murphy spends ample time with previous heroes and heroines-letting us see how their lives have progressed since their stories. Fans may sense the recurring theme of fake relationships and find this HFN just as enjoyable though somewhat short. ...more
The date is 1963 and two elves compete for prestige and honor at a job fair after college graduation. Felecia Eloytrisk Cambri (Trisk) and Trenton Kalamack (Kal), have despised one another for years. An argument at the job fair ends up with both of them chastised and no longer top recruiting prospectives. Trisk is offered a job with Global Industries, a human laboratory. Her job is to monitor the lab tests the humans are running, reporting anything of interest back to the elven conclave. When a fellow human scientist, Daniel Plank, develops a biological virus to be used in war, Trisk uses her skills to tweak it so it doesn’t affect any Interlanders (supernaturals). At the same time, she herself creates a strain of almost indestructible tomatoes to try and help end hunger. When Kal is brought in by the conclave to “check” over Trisk’s work, his ego gets the best of him and we are left with a killer tomato that systemically begins to wipe out the human race.
Fans of Kim Harrison’s epic urban fantasy series The Hollows and its itchy witchy heroine, Rachel Morgan, will want to jump on Harrison’s’ newest release, The Turn. This prequel introduces the world, creating a light background bridge of information for first time readers while giving long time fans a chance to see how it all started and get some answers to lingering questions.
Fans will remember that the decline of the human population, the initial reveal of the supernatural community, and the subsequent chaos that followed for YEARS all boiled down to a virus that was blamed on tomatoes. T4-Angel tomatoes to be exact. The Turn explains the hows, the whys, and most importantly, the WHOs that set all this into motion.
Action packed with plenty of intrigue, mystery, a machiavellian like series of plot lines, and Harrison’s winning dialogue keeps pacing smooth and steady. The genre seems to split between UF and mystery/thriller with a strong dose of corporate espionage. Harrison doles out the information is a manner that instantly draws you in and holds you hostage till the end. Strong characterization and dialogue engages as Harrison builds her cast of players-using new and familiar faces. The balance between the story and the characters is well maintained-neither overpowering nor sacrificing for the other. Fans may be disappointed to see that while a romance does slowly develop, it’s awkward and added more for the convenience of the story rather than an organic pairing.
I loved getting to meet the faces behind the events that made up the basis of The Hollow series and also seeing some very familiar faces. Trisk is utterly brilliant in her makeup and showcases the strong and appealing heroines Harrison is famous for. Kal is an egotistical jerk who you will love to hate. Trisk and Kal’s relationship is very similar to that of Rachel and Kal’s son, Trent. Their antagonism is so prevalent in the story it is the fuel that powers everything. It was interesting to see that Trent got his elitist attitude honestly thought there are some things revealed that will cause some to look at the little cookie maker a little differently. Daniel was a delight and I wish we could have gotten to see what became of him. It was great to see Quen, Cormel, and others who held huge roles in Rachel Morgan’s world. Reading this story really made me miss this series.
Though tragic in ways that we know can’t be fixed, Harrison offsets the seriousness with humor, love, and shows us that in times of great need, people will rise to the occasion. She leaves us with a viable ending that leads us into world we came to love and I’m thrilled Harrison choose to revisit it one last time.
Boone Price and his brothers are or rather were roughnecks-oil drillers. When they discover oil on their property, the money flows in as fastGrade: C-
Boone Price and his brothers are or rather were roughnecks-oil drillers. When they discover oil on their property, the money flows in as fast as the oil gushes out. Now a billionaire, Boone finds he’s more than ready for the respect that should come with his new found wealth. When it doesn’t, he decides what he needs is some class in his life. Enter Ivy Smithfield. Blonde, gorgeous, and intelligent with legs that don’t stop, Boone has found his trophy wife. But Ivy has a few secrets of her own. And she is positive that Boone will drop her in a heartbeat when he finds out the woman he wants doesn’t exist.
Dirty Money is the first in a romance contemporary series that follows the four Price siblings as they look for love in all the wrong places. This spirited romance requires a definite suspension of belief and some common sense as Clare introduces a rambunctious storyline with some raunchy lovin’ and characters who go all out and then some for love. Boone and Ivy come out strong but soon dissolve into a puddle of misunderstandings and temper tantrums. Ivy’s lying drags the storyline down and I found Boone’s attitudes on money and women tacky as the story wore on. I think the series has plenty merit, I’m just not sure it’s for me.
Home Tears offers fans a look at a different side of Tijan's writing in a contemporary that alludes to love, loss, secrets, forgiveness, and redemptioHome Tears offers fans a look at a different side of Tijan's writing in a contemporary that alludes to love, loss, secrets, forgiveness, and redemption when a young woman returns home after 10 years to heal from a tragedy only to learn she isn't the only one in need of healing....more
Sosie Frost is the queen of secret baby romances but I don't think I've ever seen one where the baby is a secret from the mama. LOL Deja Vu is a cu3.5
Sosie Frost is the queen of secret baby romances but I don't think I've ever seen one where the baby is a secret from the mama. LOL Deja Vu is a cute romance contemporary about a young pregnant woman who is hit by an ice cream truck and wakes up in the hospital with no memory. The book deals with her attempts to recover her memory while struggling to be a single mother and trying not to fall for the sexy cop who wants to help her. Frost does an excellent job with the amenia storyline though I felt it constricted the story in that the heroine could only evolve as much as her memory allowed. The heroine's wit and general good nature is a hit and watching her with the baby is hilarious. The conflict was convoluted and I questioned not only how long it took to resolve but some of the actions of the hero. Not my favorite from Frost but still entertaining. ...more
Favorite Quote: “Magnificent. Irritating and utterly disrespectful. Totally off limits. The enemy.”
Nico Toscani is the Las Vegas crime boss and the bastard son of the former Don. When his father was brutally murdered, the family voted his uncle in as the new Don instead of him. Nico watched his father being gun down in cold blood by the Cardano family and has carefully planned his revenge for years. But all his plans come to a screeching halt when Mia Cardona walks in his office.
Mia Cardano is a mafia princess unlike anyone has ever seen before. An eclectic mixture of punk rock and geek, Mia disavowed her heritage in order to escape her destiny and struck out on her own as a security system hacker. Hired to break into and analyse Nico’s casino for security flaws, a handsy security guard and her retaliatory reaction gets her caught. Taken to meet Nico, Mia is both attracted and repulsed by everything Nico stands for. She has worked to long and too hard to cut her ties with the mafia. Mia leaves with the battle lines drawn and knows despite their attraction, nothing can come of it if they want to survive.
Nico is the first in Sarah Castille’s dark and steamy mafia romance series. Set against the glittering backdrop of Sin City, a couple from rival crime families unwillingly fall for one another and now have to find away to survive the backlash that is coming. Sexy, smart, gritty, and surprising humorous, Castille walks us into the inner sanctum of the Costa Nostra and lays bare the politics and seedy dealings of this complicated world that relies on bloodlines, honor, and antiquated ideals to excuse its horrific crimes.
Heavily character driven, there are three points of view used to tell the story and Castille takes her time to identify all the players involved and their connections to one another. She effortlessly slips in key background information that allows readers to understand instantly the reasons behind the character’s actions without feeling as if we are being crushed by massive amounts of unnecessary information.
Nico and Mia are two of a kind, both having suffered at the hands of their families. Nico was raised to run the Toscani empire but being born on the wrong side of the sheets places him in a precarious position. Forced to kowtow to his uncle and cousin, he has to play nice knowing that at any moment, they could legitimately take him out and the family wouldn’t bat an eye. He has quietly built his own empire, waiting for the day he can take over the family and exact his revenge for his father’s death. Gorgeous, deadly, and seemingly heartless, Nico is everything that the mafia embodies but there is a small part of him that just wants to be free of his responsibilities and ties.
Mia, like Nico, is a product of her environment. Groomed to be a quiet and biddable mafia wife, Mia broke away from the life when her father had her boyfriend murdered right in front of her. Starting her own company has given her the independence she craves though she stays close to her family in order to protect her younger sister, Kat. Mia is such an appealing combination of strength and vulnerability. Strong, loyal, intelligent, and a fighter…Mia stands toe to toe with everyone, demanding equality. Carrying some serious baggage, she isn’t weighed down not discouraged by it. She is a force of to be reckoned with.
The romance, though slow to develop, is fueled by combustible chemistry and intense sexual tension. Unwanted attraction is the best of tropes. Steamy scenes and titillating dialogue with a distant lack of over the top dramatics and episodes gives credence to their feelings. They try to stay out of each other’s path but like magnets, they are constantly drawn back into each other’s orbit. Nico is torn by his attraction to Mia. To fall for her means a possible war and to give up his plans for revenge while Mia has always been firm that she will never allow herself to be drawn back into this world willingly.
“Are you afraid you might fall for me?”
“I’m afraid you won’t let me go.”
She was right to be afraid.
Nico is perfect in his dominance because it is tempered by genuine concern and affection. He wants Mia and her safety and happiness is what drives him. Mia also isn’t one to play games. She is comfortable with her sexuality with no hang ups or distractions to keep her from falling for Nico. Castille catalogs the changes this couple goes through as the succumb deeper to their desires. Nico begins to lose some of his old-fashioned views concerning women and Mia realizes not all men are like her father.
“Mia, tesoro…non era mia intenzione ferirti…I never wanted to hurt you.”
Steady pacing and a multi-level storyline keeps the story moving at a swift pace and the action at a premium. Castille has an appealing voice that hooks you right into the story. The romance and conflict move in tandem, playing off one another seamlessly. Energetic narrative keeps readers firmly engaged as Castille moves her players around like a champion chess player. Betrayal and revenge are the foundations on which this story is built and everyone has an agenda. Violent undertones only serve to further legitimize the subject matter while interjections of humor help to soften the blows coming.
“Oh. My. God. I can’t believe you did that. Prostitution is illegal in Nevada unless you’re a licensed brothel.”
“Hacking into your husband’s phone to find out his location is also illegal, but I didn’t see you batting an eye about doing that… How’s that black hat feeling today?”
“It wasn’t really a black hat hack. I was doing it for a good reason, so I’d say it was more gray.”
“It’s illegal. Therefore, it’s black. Your Mafioso husband has turned you towards the dark side.”
Dynamic and engaging characters round out the story, adding authenticity to the danger that lurks in the background. Both Mia and Nico’s families are stereotypical wiseguys but they both have a strong network of friends and protectors who watch out for them. Nico’s bodyguards are surprising softhearted for capos while Mia’s bestie-Jules-has no problems donning a black hat when it comes to helping Mia. I do hope Castille chooses to revisit a certain undercover cop whose loyalties are tested.
Nico is a roller coaster ride of action packed drama, intrigue, betrayal, and deception that leaves the reader on the edge as Castille unfolds the arc and drops clues to what the future may hold. Though we end on a positive note for our hero and heroine, the story itself is far from over. The next book is Nico’s capa-Luca- and his fall from grace. It’s set to release May 2017. Though this is my first time reading Castille, it definitely won’t be my last. Fans of enemies to lovers will definitely enjoy Sarah Castille’s newest series-Ruin & Revenge.
LAPD consultant Sophia Ross is handed the opportunity of a lifetime when she comes to the UK to fulfill the terms of a will. Upon arriving, Sophia realizes that there is more at stake than a little breaking and entering. Sophia has landed right in the middle of an ongoing war between the Light and Dark Courts.
Nikolas Sevigny, a Daoine Sidhe knight of the Dark Court, has been in exile for centuries along with his fellow knights. Unable to return home to Lyonesse, he has been searching for a way to reunite his people in order to stop Isabeau, Queen of the Light Court, from destroying them all. He will use anyone and anything to win this war. Even at the expense of his own happiness.
Nikolas sees a way to get what he wants through Sophia though she refuses to be anyone’s pawn. As their animosity rises, so does their attraction to one another. When Isabeau unleashes her fiercest fighters to stop Nikolas and Sophia, they will have to set aside their differences and band together if they want to survive what is coming.
Moonshadow is the first in a new trilogy that spins off of Harrison’s best-selling Elder Races. Set in the UK, Harrison expands on the ongoing dark Fae demesnes storyline that has weaved itself in and out of the main series. Easily read as a standalone, new and long time fans will able to sink right into this new world and character influx with nary a bump.
I’ve been a huge fan of Harrison’s since she released Dragon Bound and introduced us to the Elder Races. This explosive series gave PNR a much needed shot in the arm with its fantastic world building, dynamic characterization, and an arc brimming with suspense, intrigue, humor, and plenty of sexy romance that has kept me enthralled ever since. I was pleased to see Harrison diving into the Fae demesnes and their long standing war. The clues and engaging bits of information she has dropped throughout the series hinted at an epic storyline well worth the wait. Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that impressed with this first installment.
The story opens with Sophia in America. She is doing a reading and in a vision, she finds herself face to face with an unknown, gorgeous man. She disrupts the vision and wonders how and why this man was able to see her and if this is an omen about her future.
Sophia Ross worked with the LAPD as a witch consultant until she was shot multiple times while on assignment. On an indefinite leave of absence and unsure what to do with her life, she meets with Dr. Kathryn Shaw and learns that she has been named in Dr. Shaw’s late father’s will. If she can gain entrance to the Shaw family mansion in the UK within in 90 days, she will own it, all of its possessions, and the land free and clear. Built as a monument of victory on a broken crossover passageway (a gateway between Earth and the other worlds) the family abandoned the home when ‘it’ stopped letting people enter. Sophia jumps at the chance to learn more about her origins and leaves immediately for the UK. Her arrival drops her into the middle of a war when she rescues an abused dog and meets Nikolas Sevigny.
Nikolas Sevigny is the leader of the Daoine Sidhe Knights of the Dark Court. Considered abominations because of their multiple bloodlines, the Queen of the Light Court has made it her mission to destroy them all. Trapped on Earth centuries ago when Queen Isabeau’s Captain of the Hounds, Morgan le Fae, destroyed their only way of getting home, Nikolas and his remaining knights have searched tirelessly to find a way home while avoiding death. When he scents a familiar fae he’s been looking for, the trail leads him to Sophia.
Tempers flare….wills clash…and a destiny awakens…
Moonshadow takes place in a relatively short span of time. It was hard to narrow down an exact time frame because of the time shifts between Earth and the other worlds. I estimate everything occurred in a two week span-give or take a few days. I found this short time frame didn’t allow for the storyline nor the romance to evolve as naturally as I expected. It was very rushed and forced in some places. The development occurs on a singular level, not allowing for any real depth or exploration. We are given the bare bones of the conflict at hand and the characters involved. This book essentially sets up the world and conflict, staying in the present and leaving me feeling there was so much missing. The flow was off , the pace uneven, and the narrative choppy.
The romance also wasn’t a sell for me. I adore the trope of antagonistic attraction, something Harrison excels at, but this is one time I felt it didn’t work. Sophia is very independent and self-sufficient. Nikolas’s autocratic behavior rubs her the wrong way and she reacts in a sarcastic and at times a juvenile manner. The brief background we learn about her does explain the basis of her nature but she goes overboard and by the end, I was exhausted by her.
I couldn’t see why this couple fell in love. From their first meeting to their final declaration of love, I felt they were more infatuated with one another than anything else due to being forced into a volatile situation and having to depend on one another. While I could understand the attraction; both are intelligent, loyal, hard working, and extremely self-sacrificing, there wasn’t enough time for them to get to know one another much less fall head over heels. Sophia repeatedly refers to Nikolas as an arsehole and snarks at him when she feels he is ordering her around. She claims to dislike him and initiates sex with no strings, then gets angry when he agrees and distances himself. Her insults are framed as foreplay.
Nikolas is not much though I understood his reasoning better. He is much older than Sophia and has been fighting one war or another for most of his life. He knows the dangers around them and while he tends to react with anger over Sophia’s actions, it’s out of concern for her well-being.
As always, Harrison writes some steamy, chemistry boosted, love scenes and while I enjoy them greatly, I will admit I am prejudiced against the word spurt. It’s a whimsical word that works well (in my opinion) in erotic and or comedic romances but felt very out of place in the seriousness of the storyline and characters.
A cast of interesting secondary characters are brought in to round out the story and I’m looking forward to seeing each shine in their predestined roles. Many new faces and some old ones make an appearance. We meet the other knights and the Puck (Robin) holds a strong place in the story. The most intriguing character to me was Morgan la Fae. Harrison hints a few times that there is more to him than what meets the eye and I’m interested in seeing how and even if she redeems him.
All in all Moonshadow was a disappointment when compared to the jewels I have read from Harrison. I’m hoping this is just an anomaly and the second book in this trilogy takes us back to her normally exceptional works.
Favorite Quote: “Tell me what you need.” “An orgasm would be nice.”
The 12th installment in Jaci Burton’s best selling Play By Play series gives readers a sexy, sweet, and humorous romance between two people whose trust has been broken by those they cared about. More laid back than previous books in terms of conflict; food and family are the main ingredients that are used to create this spicy/sweet romance.
Our protagonists, Flynn and Amelia, are extremely similar in their character makeup. Both are intelligent, loyal, and witty with a lack of the usual deep seated emotional baggage that often sparks tension and misunderstandings in these romances. Hard working and well liked, their personalities and humor mesh well together throughout the story, helping to push their blooming romance along at a smooth and steady pace. Flynn appreciates that Amelia seems to enjoy his company for him-not what his career can bring her. Amelia likes that Flynn respects her, trusts her, and doesn’t feel she needs changing.
Dual points of view allow us insight into their thoughts and emotions concerning the developing romance. We learn more about Amelia’s divorce and how it affected her views on relationships. Burton doesn’t make it easy for Flynn to convince Amelia to trust him, which pushes him to bring in his secret weapon-his family.
The storyline is relatively straightforward and predictable. Burton’s smooth writing and engaging helps to balance the daily ins and outs of the restaurant and the football team with Flynn’s low-key courtship of Amelia. I never felt as if the story was being rushed or crammed with information. He wants Amelia to give them a chance and he spends his time teasing, cajoling, and subtly pushing his way into Amelia’s life and bed. Amelia isn’t sure she can trust him. Fear for her job and her heart if things go bad keeps her walls up. She slowly begins to open up to him; first in bed then in her heart.
The love scenes were more playful and less scripted in this installment, though I’m still seeing a continuation of repetitive phrases during sex. Amelia’s dirty mouth was a pleasant shock as it strikes a nice contrast against her polite and reserved outer persona.
“You’re very beautiful, Amelia.”
“Thank you. Now fuck me.”
Burton uses the family fueled atmosphere of the Sabers and the Cassidy’s to draw Amelia out and help Flynn press his suit. We get to spend time with previous couples along with Flynn’s siblings, significant others, and parents. They are a warm engaging group who embrace Amelia whole heartedly, giving her the sense of family and stability she’s been yearning for. The sibling’s bickering offers readers some amusement as does Amelia’s relationship with her bff-Laura.
A misunderstanding towards the end pushes Flynn finally face his own issues but it was very melodramatic and seemed to come out of nowhere. The grovel is well done but again, the whole scene felt tossed in at the last moment and didn’t seem to mesh with what we had seen of Flynn or the story’s overall tone.
Burton’s Play by Play series continues to offer amicable, low key escapism with sexy sports heroes and the woman who steal their hearts.
You always know you’re going to get a dark, gritty, sexy, angry and complicated romance when you pick up a M. O’Keefe book. Damaged men and women who carry more baggage than Samsonite reluctantly find one another and embark on a journey towards their redemption…if they’re brave enough to accept it. She doesn’t always offer her readers a HEA, but she does offer enough hope to assure readers the couples involved have a very good chance at making it. O’Keefe’s newest venture-Bad Neighbor- embraces all that and more when an angry illegal back room fighter falls for a shy illustrator whose life has taken a turn towards the unknown.
Charlotte, a professional illustrator, is forced to downsize tremendously when her twin sister, Amber, gets into some trouble and goes on the lam. After selling her condo and giving most of the money to her sister, Charlotte moves into a run down apartment complex in a seedy part of town and attempts to reestablish her life as best she can. Shy and introverted, Charlotte is shocked when she meets her neighbor-the rude, grumpy, and utterly gorgeous Jesse.
Jesse, a backroom fighter, also lives at the apartment complex. His first meeting of Charlotte tells him three things. She’s beautiful, she’s hiding something, and she’s not for him. He’s also hiding a few secrets of his own. Secrets that could hurt them both if discovered. Jesse pushes and pulls at Charlotte, blowing hot and cold with each new encounter. So Mandi, what did you think of the initial setup?
Mandi: OMG this set-up is my candy. Innocent heroine in hiding. Intimidating, grumpy – wait – asshole hero next door who just happens to be an illegal fighter. He is described as “thick” with sweaty abs.
*peeks out window and looks at elderly do-gooder neighbor* Damn it! I don’t have a “bad neighbor.”
I feel like O’Keefe not only sets-up a bad boy hero, but she goes there with him. He has depravities. He is not nice. He can be a SUPER jerk. But at least he admits it:
This was sex, Sex the way it was in movies. And books.
I felt primal all of a sudden, and I realized that I was kissing the way he was kissing me. My hands were fisted in his shirt. I sucked on his tongue. Bit his lip. I ate him like he was an avocado and I was starving.
My back hit the fridge because he’d pushed me there. His hand cupped my chin, lifting my head as he backed an inch away from my mouth.
“I’m sorry I’m a dick,” he whispered, his breath washing my lips, my face.
Apology accepted, Jesse!
And on the other side, Charlotte, although in hiding and a little scared, is so cute. When she sees Jesse, she is a little fearful by how masculine and raw he is – but her fantasies start coming to life in her head. Leading a safe, romantic life, Charlotte is not used to being near and attracted to such an intense person. Her safe little fantasy about the fruit stand boy down the street gets thrown out the window.
“Bedroom?” he asked, jerking his thumb toward the shadowed doorway beside my kitchen.
I opened my mouth to say what but nothing came out.
Was this the fruit stand fantasy coming true? Was this…possible? He said bedroom and I just led him in there and we went at it? Was that how these things worked?
(He just wanted to fix her doorknob – like her actual, metal doorknob!)
Tori, did you like the chemistry between Jesse and Charlotte and how their romance plays out?
Tori: I love the sexual tension that O’Keefe begins building from the first time Jesse pushes Charlotte’s futon threw her apartment door. It’s a hot, pulsing, earthy entity that screams (or maybe that was me) DO ME!! DO ME NOW!! Jesse pushes Charlotte’s boundaries; locking onto the sexuality she keeps buried and gives her an outlet in which to embrace and express herself with no shame.
“I was right, he whispered. You’re so fucking soft.
It’s …they’re…” I made some gurgling sounds of despair and tilted my face away.
“Fucking perfect,” he said.
The romance itself blossoms almost under the radar; completely unconventional but no less uninspiring. Seeing Charlotte and Jesse slowly open up to one another is both sweet and sad; neither thinking they have anything to really offer one anyone. It’s here where the similarities between them shine the brightest. Both of them have spent their lives being dragged into their siblings messes; caring for them instead of themselves. Though Charlotte is more forthright in her attempts to care for Jesse (OMG-the curtains-I DIED), he does things that alert us to the fact that Charlotte isn’t just a novel new flavor for him.
“I want to see you again, and you’re hungry, So, I can feed you.”
Even though the story has a darker tone overall, with all the secrets and the slow reveal in just how intertwined Charlotte and Jesse’s lives are, I love the bits of humor and spontaneity that interject themselves in an organic manner. Charlotte is such a shy, introverted woman yet they have the such dynamic chemistry, the dialogue just flows right along. When she boldly makes sexual demands of Jesse, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the vision in my head. It was akin to seeing a cute blond-haired cherub suddenly start cursing like a sailor in the middle of church.
What did you think, Mandi? Did you appreciate the humor and spontaneity that was added? Did it feel natural to you, too?
Mandi: Yes! For what I would categorize as a “dark erotic” there are a good number of scenes that made me smile and chuckle. I thought O’Keefe did a nice job with the illegal fighting atmosphere and although the suspense may not have been my favorite part, it was light and didn’t overshadow the story. I am excited for the next book which will feature Jesse’s brother. Oh, do I have questions!!
Before I go, I have to mention the orgy! Well – what I call an orgy. Jesse says there must be five people for it to be an orgy and there were only four – two and two participating. But damn it – it was a fun scene. You’ll have to read it to enjoy it – but I will leave you with a naughty quote (put under spoilers because naughty)
There is a HEA although it’s kind of abrupt and I maybe not the most solid of HEAs. But I definitely recommend this one.
Tori: I agree, Mandi. I think O’Keefe did an excellent job of blending Jesse’s fighting and the reasons for it with the suspense plot line though I felt it was a little weak. The romance is definitely the main focus of the storyline and I loved that we had plenty of scenes to laugh at while watching this couple find their place together in the world. Staying in the present keeps the story moving at a solid pace but I felt we lost something by not really getting to know the other two players in this story whose actions put Charlotte and Jesse in the place we met them. I too felt the ending was rushed I personally felt Charlotte forgave Jesse to easily for what he did but she does make her point in cheer worthy manner so all is well. While we aren’t given a solid HEA or even HFN, I am looking forward to book two and hope we see more of Charlotte and Jesse.
The first in Bowen’s and Kennedy’s WAGs series spins off their popular Him series. Him introduced us to Wes and Jamie and Us gave us their epGrade: B+
The first in Bowen’s and Kennedy’s WAGs series spins off their popular Him series. Him introduced us to Wes and Jamie and Us gave us their epic love story. Now the time has come for Wes and Jamie’s wedding and who better to pull it off then Jamie’s sister, Jessica? But Jessica has some problems. She is suffering from a career ennui and a certain obnoxious, happy go lucky hockey player has decided they are perfect for one another. What’s a girl to do when the good boy she wants ends up being the bad boy she needs?
Good Boy is a hilarious, sexy, and all around fun opposites attract that reunites us with Blake and Jessica. Witty banter and laugh out loud scenes will keep you in stitches as we watch Blake attempt to woo Jessica the best way he knows how-with bawdy come ons and lots of inappropriate touching. Personable characterization and a well developed storyline keeps the reader heavily engaged. Two subplots help us to see a more serious side to Blake and Jessica and goes deep behind the various speed bumps we see impeding their relationship. Fans will adore spending more time with Wes, Jamie, the family, and the entire hockey team as we watch Jessica and Blake score the biggest goal of their lives-true love....more
Lucy Miller and Chanoch Evans have worked together for years but have done nothing more than pass each other in the hall, murmuring the occasional sorry and excuse me. Lucy, a transplant from a small ultra-religious town, came to California seeking fame and fortune behind the camera. When that didn’t pan out, she took a secretarial job and slowly worked her way from coffee maker to the boss’s right-handwoman.
Chanoch Evans, whom everyone refers to as just Evans because they can’t pronounce his name correctly, works for the same company and has always had a bit of a crush on Lucy but his innate shyness has him keeping his feelings well under wraps. He doesn’t feel he has anything to offer her at this time in his life, especially since his time and paycheck goes towards helping his family.
When a once in a lifetime chance appears...will Lucy and Evans be brave and seize the moment? Or will they let their fear overrule their desire?
Office romances are a dime a dozen, but in the right hands they can go from commonplace to extraordinary. Tamsen Parker proves this, and more, in the fifth installment in her Compass seriesm, Due South. Parker gives a reader humorous, sincere, and erotically adorkableromance when she pairs together two office colleagues who are asked to stay and work through the holidays
While this series is normally high in energy with intense personalities and heart-pinching angst, Parker takes a decidedly different approach by introducing us to two quiet and shy individuals who find themselves sharing a voyeuristic moment when they inadvertently catch their employer indulging in some afternoon delight with her husband.
“You know I’ve always wanted to fuck you at your office.“
“But you’re such a hard task master whenever I do come to pick you up, there’s always someone still here, and when I drop you off, you’re raring to work. I know you’d bite my head off if I suggested it.”
“There’s no one here now, sir,”
Yes, there is. There so is.
From that illuminating moment, our couple learns something about the other. That the shy, retiring persona they project at work hides the sexual creatures they really are. They decide to take advantage of their attraction and the relative seclusion of the empty office to be the adventurous, bold people they feel they can't be around everyone else. “What if you...weren’t you?”
He starts, but then it seems as though the sun comes up and shines on his face. “You mean like pretend?”
“Yeah. Pretend. Like we could still be Lucy and Evans, but braver.”
My breath speeds up and I bite my lip. “Yeah. Sexier.”
Lucy and Evans are a couple for whom the reader will develop a soft spot for almost instantaneously. Using witty dialogue and the perfect blend of awkward sensuality, Parker builds a charming and outrageously sexy relationship that gradually blossoms into something far deeper with each new encounter. We first met Evans when he has to call Reyes Walter for help on how to get his boss, India Burke, on a plane to New York. Reyes offers Evans some interesting advice on dominance which ignites a small flame in Evans.
Evans is an entertaining mixture of a gangly teenager experiencing his first lustful thought and a quiet, intense man who is comfortable in his own skin. His bouts of insecurity only further serve to endear him to you.
“If I kept a sword in my office, I’d throw myself on it. As things are, I’ve only got some pencils that are in desperate need of a sharpening, a ruler, and some paperclips. I couldn’t even injure myself in a dignified manner.”
Lucy is his perfect match. A delectable treat made of sugar and spice with her prim and proper attire that masks her inner strength and sexual confidence. Intelligent and forthright with a sweet personality, Lucy opens up to Evans, wanting to explore all her desires and fantasies with him. “You said more. Like more kissing or more other stuff? What else can I do, Lucy?”
Oh. My mind races with the possibilities. Everything. He could do everything.
Due South is a fun and lighthearted erotic romance that allows two introverts the freedom to step outside of their perceived roles to explore their sexuality and life choices without judgment or censure. Fans of Tamsen Parker and adorably awkward couples will undoubtedly fall in love with Lucy and Evans; cheering them on their journey from beginning to the end.
“I get the feeling Lucy and I are the same in some ways. Like we’re both nervous and shy and it’s hard to find a place in the world where that’s okay. But I feel as though it would be okay with each other.”...more
Stein once again builds an intriguing, heavily characterized story that is far more complicated than originally suspected. Lydia finds herself the victim of assault though she is saved from rape by one of the men who broke into her home. When her roommate pressures her to go to group therapy, she meets Isaac whose ability to erect barriers gives him what she wants-emotional & physical immunity from the world. She asks him for help and soon they are spending time together. When the attraction between them becomes too much to bear, Lydia and Isaac begin a relationship but there are things Isaac hasn’t told Lydia…things that may very well destroy her.
I am a huge fan of Stein’s work. Her writing skills and intuitive voice are instantly appealing. This particular series has been a roller coaster ride for me. I wasn’t a fan of book one but book two blew me away. I find this one landed right in the middle. I enjoyed the setup and hint of suspense that intertwines through the story. Wonderfully paced narrative and dialogue gives our couple the dynamics in which to meet and develop a realistic relationship. My main issue was the lack of connection I felt between them. Of course, the elephant in the room is responsible for that but I found even after Lydia learns the truth, I still didn’t feel they belonged together. An abrupt ending that leaves their fate up in the air only solidified my feelings....more