Cowboy Casanova can be read as a stand alone book. I know sometimes when people see that it is the twelfth book in a series, that is the first thing they wonder.
There was buzz about Cowboy Casanova on Twitter. I heard Twitter folks squeeing over that Cowboy Casanova was going to be a BDSM themed book. I was a bit puzzled because to me, lots of the McKay men were already well on their way with ropes, bondage and toys. So I was quite curious about what made Ben and Cowboy Casanova different.
To me the obvious difference is that Ben is an actual club participant at a BDSM club, The Rawhide Club and very much in sync with his DOM self. He does hide that fact from his family but the man knows how to wield a whip and to be domineering. Just to add, I'm not a fan of the whip or whipping so the cover (as hot as it is) made me quite wary if I'd be into this Dom McKay story.
Overall, I did like the book but I am wondering if I liked it because of the history I have with the McKay family. Would I love this book and rated a 4 star if I didn't know the entire history? Probably. But there were some issues that I had with the story to go along with the long list of things I did like.
One of the main issues I had with Cowboy Casanova was in regards to trust. Trust is a main central core component of a D/s relationship. With Ben being as experienced as he was, I felt he didn't live up to his end of the bargain. He lied numerous times to Ainsley and he hid his growing feelings toward her. Yes I get that it wouldn't make such an interesting read if it was all sunshine and roses but the lies left me uncomfortable if not a bit frustrated. I did appreciate that Ben knew from day 1 what Ainsley's hard rule was and he never did brake that. (Even if he did use it to manipulate her by placing that one tail whip in her sight at a sensitive moment)
I liked Ainsley. A lot. She was a great woman who didn't dwell in the past regarding her ex-husband and held a responsible position as the president of Sundance's newest bank. She knew she wanted more from a relationship and she was willing to give Ben a 30 day trial to see if being a submissive was her thing. I feel she gave it her all. She questioned a few things when she was uncomfortable but was always willing to give it a go. She kept her reserve and her emotions in check and was quite realistic.
Ok now the good stuff. The play scenes and the love scenes were sweltering hot. Each one was excellently choreographed, full of emotions and completely what you'd expect from the amazing writer that Lorelei James is. Her standard is so high that I usually can't read another erotic romance for at awhile afterwards because most other books just don't compare. The dialogue was spot on, the descriptions and Wyoming scenery made me feel as I was right there and Lorelei James went ahead and planted seeds for further plot bunnies in future books. This is why I keep coming back to the Rough Rider series. As long as she keeps writing them, I will continue to keep buying them.
I also love that the Rough Rider series is based around the McKay family and she does include lots of family issues. They may be one huge family but they don't necessarily all get along as sweetly as most fictional families do. It certainly makes the stories that much more realistic.
Teasers: public club scenes, bathroom mirror show, kitty cat wood carving, bank loan fiasco (less)
The Sweetest Thing is book 2 of the Lucky Harbor series. It could be read as a stand alone but why would you? You'd be missing out on Simply Irresistible and that would be a shame.
The Sweetest Thing is really a double entendre because the book itself was the sweetest thing. My favourite type of contemporary romance is when the protagonists have a history that began years earlier. What a treat this book was for me because Tara and Ford's passion started way back when they were only seventeen years old. Unfortunately that passion resulted in an unwanted pregnancy, an adoption and then the ultimate end of their young love.
Tara is the Steel Magnolia of the three sisters. She is quite bossy and takes a bit longer to warm up to. The reader has to look past the hardened outside to see the warm lady inside. She is protective of her sisters, works two jobs to keep them all afloat and maxed out her credit cards to get the B&B up to par. Her sisters easily see past the stubborn barrier and so does Ford.
I finished The Sweetest Thing a few days ago and I am still pinning for Ford. He is funny and oh so sexy. Think about this for a moment. How many hunky heroes have you read that pulled off funny AND sexy? Not many, right? Ford is a gold metal Olympic Sailor and he has the Olympic body to go with that prize.
Tara had divorced two years earlier from her sexy NASCAR driving husband. Guess who shows up in Lucky Harbor claiming he still loves her and misses her? What a fun love triangle The Sweetest Thing ended up being. The little competitions the men conjured up to out do each other made my cheeks hurt from smiling. All the shenanigans kept the residences of Lucky Harbor glued to Facebook lurking for constant updates.
Even though The Sweetest Thing is brimming with fun loving goodness, there are still plenty emotions filled with forgiveness and understanding. Once again Jill Shalvis wrote a perfect balance of happiness and affection all mixed together with a long overdue reprieve. So much more than just a romance story.
Teasers: Abs contest, apple tree battle, sailing, adoption closure, recipe card quotes for life (less)
I made the bold statement yesterday to my friend that Lucky Harbor series has become my favourite contemporary romance series. Big statement for an avid book reader. I then looked up to my book shelf at all my hundreds of favourite books and promptly re-confirmed. Yep it has earned top spot especially after reading Head Over Heels.
Jill Shalvis has created a cast of characters that I want to know more about and a town I want to visit.
Chloe and Sawyer's book was fantastic. In the first two books Chloe had a snarky, blunt attitude with a free spirit personality that I loved. I was so worried that when I would read her book that her individuality would be modified to fit the typical heroine. It was not so and I'm was so happy about that.
If Chloe is not hang gliding, climbing under rusty barbed wire fences rescuing dogs or hopping from city to city - spa to spa promoting her homemade beauty products, you could find her at the Bed and Breakfast she shares with her sisters. Not far from her asthma inhaler, Chloe grew to be more mature in this book without sacrificing her lifestyle. What a complex character she really is. Not a boring moment.
Of the previous lead male protagonists of the Lucky Harbor series, Sawyer was much more quiet and reserved. He didn't have the snappy witty comebacks that Ford did or the sexy charm of Jax. Sawyer was the town sheriff and serious. He was also seriously hot. Chloe seemed an unlikely match yet in the same breath, they were so perfect for each other. He would probably be one of the few men that could take Chloe just the way she is. That was so attractive.
Another character that deserves a mention from Head Over Heels is Chloe's best friend, Lance. Lance has CF. A few years ago I lost a very good friend to CF so there were many emotional spots within Head Over Heels that brought streaming tears pouring down my face. Thank you to Jill Shalvis for not shying away from including characters that have a disease. It was also wonderful to read Lance having a shot at having a girlfriend.
If the first book, Simply Irresistible was about trust, and the second book, The Sweetest Thing was about forgiveness, I would say that Head Over Heel's theme was acceptance. From Chloe's asthma, Lance's CF, the sister's support of the new day spa, Sawyer's relationship with his cranky old father and then having it all wrapped in a wonderfully romantic package, acceptance nicely rounds out the plot theme. It's hard not to give spoilers on a book that I loved so much.
Teasers: Sister's mud bath by moonlight, paint hand prints, outdoor shower, angsty drug bust(less)
For fans that have given up on the books my advice is , don't. The seventeenth book and Explosive Eighteen were both really great. Not as awesome as her earlier books but still are great reads that are sure to put a smile on your face.
My review of the 18th Stephanie Plum series does contain spoilers. They are light spoilers but none the less, they will give away some of the story. So if you don't want to see truly what I loved about Explosive Eighteen without ruining it for yourself, pass for now. * * * * * * My favourite thing about Explosive Eighteen is that Stephanie doesn't favour Ranger or Morelli more than the other. She has them both! And she does it in such a way that Stephanie doesn't come out looking like a floozy. Stephanie recognizes that her morals have taken a back seat and she feels guilty about it. It is hard for me to agree with her because I'm the girl cheering her on. Go Steph! Don't choose. Take 'em both!
With most of the books there is a mystery to be solved and I liked the one in Explosive Eighteen. The beauty of reading a book in first person is that we the readers don't know how the mystery is progressing along or how it will end either. We are learning right along with Stephanie.
Of course Explosive Eighteen continues with Stephanie's slip ups and her lack of experience at catching the skips. Some very funny slip ups and Lula continues to add humour to every scene she is in.
Explosive Eighteen has the return of Stephanie's nemesis Joyce Barnhart and she is marginally civil in this book. Grandma Mazur makes a few appearances but is not a dominate character. Ranger and Morelli each get the same amount of air time and you have a group of villains after Stephanie.
Speaking of villains, there is one crazy dude named Razzle Dazzle that may be internationally known but he ends up being no match for Stephanie. I love when Stephanie takes care of herself and outsmarts these criminals. I was pleased with how she fought this crazy criminal. I was proud.
Explosive Eighteen was a perfectly enjoyable read and what a treat to get two books in one year.
Teasers: Hawaii honeymoon, underground garage attack, love potion, mystery photograph(less)
According to Goodreads, Devil in Winter is Lisa Kleypas' most popular book. Oh yes, that is a very accurate assessment. Devil in Winter was a fabulous historical romance. It is the 3rd book in the Wallflower series. I had not read the two previous books, Secrets of a Summer Night or It Happened One Autumn but you can bet that I will be reading them soon.
I don't like reading books out of order but I had a gift card and out of the Wallflower series, Devil In Winter was the one I wanted to read the most. It can be read as a stand alone but I really felt I missed excellent points and story plots from the previous book, It Happened One Autumn. It appears that Sebastian was a main carry over cast member and his actions in It Happened One Autumn is what sets the main stage in Devil in Winter.
Sebastian is a rake of all roguish rakes. He is selfish, sarcastic and even a bit witty. Now although he held those less than satisfactory qualities, I found the smile he put on my face with his comments, allowed me to forgive him a bit more than I probably should. Of course, not having read, It Happened One Autumn my view may have been different.
Evie is a red headed wallflower and by all accounts she seems to be the most shy of her group of friends. The reason I chose to select the graphic at the top is because that is exactly how I pictured her. I thought it was a near perfect representation of what I imaged. I love when the cover art matches the characters closely.
From a personality perspective, I liked Evie. Women of the time (London 1843) rarely had opportunities to make life decisions for themselves. Evie concocted a plan and as outrageous as it was, it was a means to an end. It was rather brilliant if not desperate.
Devil in Winter will go down as the best loss of virginity scene. It was emotionally charged and moving. I loved it. It was right then that I fell for Lord St. Vincent. It was also then that Sebastian fell for Evie too.
I think it would be hard to redeem a character from a previous book that was not well liked. Sebastian did a nasty action in It Happened One Autumn that shouldn't be easily forgiven. I totally love that Lisa Kleypas didn't take the normal easy route and give Sebastian a wicked abusive up-bringing to explain his behaviour. Sure he had some sad moments but he was spoiled as he admitted and instead of harbouring on why his character was rakish, the story more focused on his changing behaviour. I really liked that. I also liked that it wasn't just an overnight change but rather a gradual change.
A couple of things that I think Devil in Winter did miss out on. I thought there would be more attempts from Evie's wicked family to abduct her. I just really wanted them to really pay for what they did to her. Also, I was curious why there was no lawyer or will reading ceremony. Maybe because it was not needed since all was left to Evie by her father but for some reason, I felt it was missing. Also, it didn't really feel winter out to me. It was a cold carriage ride back from Scotland but that was about it for the winter season.
Evie was the best thing to happen to Sebastian and visa-versa. They were perfect for each other's souls. They didn't intend it go that way but I loved how hard their feelings hit each other. What a pleasure Devil in Winter was to read!
Teasers: hot brick for carriage ride, an early Cam from Mine Till Midnight was in the book a lot (squee), flirtatious billiard game, emotional shaving scene
*Update* Just read it again and I loved it even more this time around as I have now read all the books in order. Amazing series. Highly recommend!(less)
What a wonderful trilogy the Travis Series was. Each of the books, Sugar Daddy, Blue-Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger were all completely different storylines and could be read as stand alones. (but don't do it cause you'll miss out)
Smooth Talking Stranger was Jack Travis' turn at a story. Jack Travis the millionaire playboy may have been a big time ladies man in the past but once he met the cute Ella with her short bob haircut and toting around a new born baby at his office, he knew he was a goner.
Ella was a complex character. She grew up with a dysfunctional mother, a timid sister and confidence issues of her own. The family of women had no idea what a good man was and after years of therapy, Ella turned her life around. It was interesting that she wrote an advice column where she couldn't easily take her own advice.
Early on in the story, Ella had a boyfriend, Dane and he is what makes me think some environmentalists and vegans are a strange group of people. He wasn't abusive at all, he was just so disconnected. He was so worried about saving the world instead of taking care of the his direct reality. As an example, Ella said that he would be more concerned about saving an orphaned penguin rather than caring for Ella's abandoned nephew.
That brings me to little baby Luke. An innocent born to her mentally unstable sister, Ella basically puts her entire life on hold while she cares for him. What a hard position Ella found herself in. I admired her greatly for her taking that burden on. Not many people could have a new born baby dropped on their laps. With no caregiver experience at all, she takes charge and begins a novice investigation to find the baby daddy. That search is what brings her to Jack's office. That's where Jack starts to become a Smooth Talking Stranger.
What a whirlwind of romance mixed with sleepless nights full of baby feedings, getting the baby daddy to daddy up while Ella is learning to trust her feelings towards Jack. There was never a doubt to me that Jack wanted Ella since the first meeting.
Smooth Talking Stranger was once again in first person so I struggled right along with Ella. Ella seemed to be stuck in exboyfriend's world regarding relationships, marriage and her own feminist beliefs. Ella was comfortable and not a risk taker in love.
Smooth Talking Stranger was such an evenly paced romance all set in a believable tone. The nice slow build had me pinning for Jack and just wanting Ella to go for it! Take a risk!
Teasers: “I respect you," he murmured. "and your views. I think of you as an equal. I respect your brains, and all those big words you like to use. But I also want to rip your clothes off and have sex with you until you scream and cry and see God." -Jack Travis (less)
When Blue-Eyed Devil was drawing to the end, I put it down. I didn't want it to end. That doesn't happen very often to me. What a fantastic book.
Blue-Eyed Devil invoked a lot of emotion out of me. I could feel my face heat up in anger and I even felt a heartbeat in my cheeks. Yeah, I got that angry with a couple of the characters. It is not what I would consider a nice feel good romance. It's way deeper.
You could read this book as a stand alone but I would not recommend it as I think the readers need to appreciate the background story.
The readers were introduced to Hardy Cates in Sugar Daddy. The readers get a lot of history about Hardy from that first book. Oh man I fell hard for him. He is the quintessential hero package. I was so disappointed with Hardy's behaviour at the ending of Sugar Daddy and felt so torn because I loved him so. Blue-Eyed Devil redeemed him 100% in my eyes. If you read Sugar Daddy and then missed out by not following up with this book, you really should consider reading it.
We also get a wee glimpse of Haven in Sugar Daddy. Not really enough of an impression to form an opinion on the reader so Blue-Eyed Devil was practically a blank slate for her. That blank slate changed quickly. Oh. My. Heart. After she married shortly after the beginning of the book to an unknowingly abusive man, I felt her growing desperation and isolation. As much as I don't normally understand how females can remain in an abusive marriage situation, I found Lisa Kleypas did an exceptional job taking her time explaining how Haven ended up to where she did. As the Travis' Series is written in first person, I was tormented right along with Haven.
Isolated from her family and in a different city, Haven eventually has a breaking point after she is eventually battered and beaten so badly that she is rescued by her brother Gage. None of that information is a spoiler because it is predicable she does get out from under her husband's narcissistic clutches, and she tries very slowly to regain her life. Slowly.
I say slowly because the romantic relationship that develops between Hardy and Haven is kept to a crawling pace. It needs to be in order to help her with her much needed healing. I think that is what sets Blue-Eyed Devil apart from other romance books that use the "abused female saved by male hero" plot line. It is never believable that a woman can get over the amount of abuse that Haven went through without consequences, hardships and panic attacks.
Blue-Eyed Devil doesn't have a lot of romantic dinners, sexy dates or scenes with a lot of heat. Like Sugar Daddy, Blue-Eyed Devil seemed to be more like a story of healing, reclaiming your life, strength and courage. It was a fabulous read that had me all tied up in knots, weeping and cheering for the heroine like I never had before. Blue-Eyed Devil is not all doom and gloom it was just really moving for me. Stellar writing by Lisa Kleypas.
Teasers: I must warn you that there is a rape scene, intense brotherly love, an elevator rescue, a boss from hell(less)
One of the best books with witty character banter I have read in a long time. I could read have read Marcelline and the Duke of Clevedon talk all day long. That was one of the best things of Silk Is for Seduction.
I also really like the story theme. I think historical shopper keepers, servants, nurse maids etc, often get the back burner to the elite Dukes, Earls and Ladies. I want to read about their lady maids too. In Silk Is for Seduction, the main character Marcelline Noirot is a seamstress managing her own dress shop. She is quite fabulous. Smart, determined, smart, loving mother, smart, loyal to her sisters and not to mention smart. In fact all her sisters are brilliant. What a wonderful series this Dressmakers series will turn out to be. These ladies know what they want and they know how to use all the tricks of their trade to get them there.
The Prologue provided an excellent set up to the entire story. The reader is treated with the perfect amount of information to understand where the Noirot sisters came from. However when the first chapter ended I was totally confused who was who. I feel way too many characters were introduced too quickly. Unfortunately once I was into the story a few chapters, I had to go back a re-read the beginning so I could have a better understanding of who all the characters were to one another. I really dislike when too many characters get introduced to quickly.
The poor Duke didn't really know what hit him once he was introduced to the exotic beauty at the opera. Sowing his wild oats in Paris the last thing he expected was to become infatuated with the witty Mrs. Noirot. The two days the pair were acquainted in Paris was probably some of my favourite chapters in Silk Is for Seduction. The verbal sparring and each trying to out wit one another in cards and betting was both humourous and flirtatious. A perfect set up to launch their romance.
As Marcelline was doing everything she could to win over the ladies of England and encourage them to order their dresses in her shop, she was completely transparent to the Duke about her intentions. And although Duke was perfectly aware of his obligations, he just couldn't resist her. I love that almost for the entire book, the Duke didn't even know her first name. He had to keep referring to her as Noirot. I found that amusing.
As much as I loved Marcelline, I am still not sure what I make of the Duke. Oh yes, he was lovable, kind, handsome and he was well matched with Marcelline but I think he lacked a certain manly something. I can't quite put my finger on it. Regardless, the moment he sat Marcelline's adorable daughter upon his lap and let her hold the horse reigns, he had won me over. Fabulous writing. I can't wait for the next book.
Teasers: diamond stick pin wager, Steam Boat ride from hell, raging fire, "But for tonight, I love you."(less)
Suddenly You opens with one of the best paragraphs I have read in a long time. (here) The good and gentle Miss Amanda Briars was sitting with the scandalous Madam, Gemma Bradshaw* trying to determine what sort of man she wishes to purchase for her 30th birthday...to loose her virginity to. And there you have it. That is how Suddenly You grabbed me and didn't let go until "The End". *One quick mention about the brothel owner Gemma Bradshaw is that she is a carry over figure from the Bow Street Runners book, "Worth Any Price". It was a delight to read about her again.
The thing is, as much as I loved the opening paragraph, it gets even more delicious. Exactly how Amanda and Jack meet each other will probably go down in my books as one of the best first meetings ever. It was my favourite part of the entire book.
Suddenly You is a stand alone book (not part of a series) that is not based around a Duke, Earl or even a Baron. Jack Devlin is a savvy business man in the publishing industry and Amanda is a best seller author who can financially support herself. It was such a breath of fresh air to read about a woman who was not dictated to marry, forced by her family to marry or was tricked to marry. With the exception of never experiencing a man in her bed, she seemed quite content with her life. But having said that, Amanda did have a low self esteem issue and that is one part of her personality that was annoying to read about over and over again. Even though she was characterized as having frizzy hair, short legs and a rounder body I do think that her self esteem issues stemmed more from the lack of social experience with men. For her early "coming out" years and then the following subsequent years afterwards, she was the sole caretaker of ailing parents living far from London society.
Jack was an easy character to understand. As a reader you understood his drive and ambitions. He was not a careless rake that had bedded a lot of ladies. (another excellent character bonus) Jack was a determined man that wanted to build a publishing empire and Amanda was the one thing that softened him. I adored how the pair carried on and bantered. Highly enjoyable.
With neither character overly fond of marriage, the conflict of the story was centered around that wedded flaw. At times it was a bit frustrating with the lack of communication between the couple but I could easily overlook that since that was the main conflict of the story. Amanda and Jack did not have an easy time of coming together as a couple and even afterwards they still continued to experience ups and downs. I loved how everything about their lives finally came together.
Teasers: male prostitute selection, lots of blushing, memorable carriage ride, historical cradle robbing *giggles*(less)
Anytime there is a book where a band is involved and music is part of the plot, I perk up and can't wait to read it. Then when the heat level gets turned up between the band members, it's a combination that is sure to make sweet music on paper.
I really liked Four Aces. I simply adored the how the three male members of the band met Stacy at the coffee shop. It set the tone of the story off perfectly.
The band members names are Jason (Jace), Trace and Pace and the female singer is Stacy (Stace). Oh yes, notice their names all have "ace" in them. It does make it a bit confusing to know who is who and honestly after awhile I just gave up. Although it is catchy to have the "Four Aces" as an idea for a story, I did not like that I was constantly confused on who was who.
What I did really like is that there was an actual story here in this short novella. Four Aces is not constant erotic from page one. Instead you get to know the characters and learn a bit about them in such a short time. You even get to meet one set of their parents and get a true understanding of what great guys these three band members are. The reader can also get a true sense of their wonderful friendship.
In addition to learning a bit about the men, Stacy has a bit of history brought into the story too. She is a down to earth girl and I really liked her.
The climax of the story is at the conclusion where the group gets together intimately. It was written very naturally and even believable. That's hard to pull off for a quad. Because the author spent most of the story getting to know the protagonists, the reader feels happy for them and hopes it all works out for them. Four Aces felt like a story of an emerging relationship between the group and then an added mix of sexiness brought in for good measure. You can read an exerpt here on author Suzanne Graham's website here.
Teasers: hot chocolate, band contest, area rug intimacy(less)
I loved Toy Training. It was a short (about 5,400 words) that had me smiling from the beginning to the end. I think I enjoyed the story more because Minerva and Danny were mature characters. I love that Vee Michaels recognizes that not every erotic novel needs to be about a twenty something couple.
I adored the internal conversations that Minerva kept having with herself during this 2 hour sex toy demonstration class. I loved that she was embarrassed of being embarrassed and admitted that to herself. Sex toy embarrassment is totally relatable to many readers. I giggled that Minerva showed up to attend this toy demo class in sunglasses and a hat.
Minerva’s nerves were getting the better of her as she clumsily held onto the toys and discovered their uses. For a short story the actions flowed by easily and I felt it was much longer than the 20 pages or so that it was. Toy Training was a hot little number with a happy ending. Minerva and Danny have already overcome the new dating awkwardness and ready to tackle their new relationship. (with the classroom bag of toys in their hands)
Teaser – Words to live by from Minerva “Who knew my vagina could be so...magical?”(less)
Soul Possession by Maya Banks - 3 stars M/F/M story
I am a big fan of Maya Banks so I was excited to dive into this anthology. I have to be honest and say, out of the 3 stories, Soul Possession was my least favourite.
Poor Jessie had a rough night. Fired from her waitress job after being accused of stealing, her bum knee acts up, she is whisked away from the bar by two gorgeous cops for a threesome and the next day is brought into the station under the suspicion of murdering her former boss. Now that's a heavy duty 24 hrs!
The two hot detectives Rick and Truitt have been drooling over Jessie for a long time. They have flirted mercilessly with her and both have fantasied about her. But since they both want her, they are interested in a threesome. As much as I love reading menage, this group seemed a bit off. I think it would have been more plausible if Rick and Truitt were bi-sexual rather than two very alpha type males willingly and openly share Jessie. I understand that the story is an anthology so it needs to be quick but I just didn't fall for the quick love and openness of the relationship. Even the intimate scenes seemed way too fast for me. I've read outstanding menage by Maya Banks before so I know how spectacular her scenes can be.
Wanted by Karin Tabke 3.5 stars M/F I have a Karin Tabke book on my shelf somewhere and now after reading Men Out of Uniform, and Wanted, I need to go dig it up and read it. Excellent writing.
The first chapter starts off with a F/F/M threesome with Colin but that is only to set the reader up with the type of cocky bugger that Colin is. Couldn't have asked for a better set up.
Colin is going deep undercover with no police back up to bring in the ex-wife of a notorious gangster to testify against him. Turns out that Sophia is really Colin's one and only early love from high school, Maria. Prior to her being forced to marry a mob boss, Sophia/Maria gave her virginity and a night of passion to Colin and that memory has held her together through all the years of abuse.
Colin and Sophia's first meeting starts off in an adrenaline rush as the mob is out to get Sophia for testifying. Guns shooting, diving in cold water and barely escaping with their lives, Colin and Sophia don't even realize at first who they to each other.
I liked them playing dumb and neither admitting who they are from each other's pasts. A lot in the way of appearance have changed over time since high school.
Colin is all "I'm going to protect you" and Sophia is all "don't bother I'm going to die". As they are dashing across the country to make it back in time for her to testify, Colin and Sophia become reacquainted and that means some smoking hot sex scenes for the reader.
The only thing that I didn't like about this story is I really really, yeah really hate in stories where the heroine decides to do something really stupid and not logical. Sophia does that in this book and when she did, the story fell a rating notch for me. So that is why I am only giving a 3.5 instead of a 4.
Taking the Heat by Sylvia Day = 4 stars M/F Taking the Heat would have been so much better as a full story. I liked this couple enough that I wanted a full story. I adore when the protagonists have a past together. They are some of my favourite reads. So when Taking the Heat has Layla and Brian having a past relationship dating back to when she was 16 yrs old and he was 22 yrs old, I sat back ready for a good read. It did not disappoint. Taking the Heat was my favourite of the anthology.
Layla and Brian have been separated for years and their reunion is an explosion. Okay I mean literally. The SUV she is about to climb into with the officers assigned to protect her while she is in the witness protection program explodes. Brian (who is a special secret undercover cop) dove on top of her and sheltered her from the flying debris. They both barely escape with their lives and an across country trek leads them from divey motel to motel.
I really liked Layla. She has some really great lines and I adore her snark. She has the ability to make the big bad cop Brian squirm and I loved it. There are some excellent steamy scenes as Layla and Brian rekindle their love for each other. There are some heart warming forgiveness conversations for making wrong early decisions in their relationship. It made the love more real and the conversations were genuine.
Of all three stories this one tugged at my heart the most and I connected with the Layla and Brian. I really enjoyed their journey. I was sad when I was seeing that Taking the Heat was coming to an end because I wanted more of the pair. I was a tad disappointed with how quickly the story ended. It just seemed to drop off and end. (less)
I'm a super big fan of Lorelei James. When she has a new release, I simply click to buy on my Amazon account. I don't even read the book blurb. There are only a handful of authors that have that sort of status to me. In my opinion, nobody writes cowboy romance like Lorelei James.
Wrangled and Tangled was such a great book but I have to admit, I was annoyed with the two romance stories in one book. That approach didn't bother me in her book Rode Hard, Put Up Wet. But it really annoyed me in Wrangled and Tangled. Both stories were excellent but I didn't want to keep up with the ping ponging between each of their stories. I'd get really engrossed with Renner and Tierney and then BAM, next chapter was Abe and Janie. I felt like I constantly had to re-warm up to the couples over and over again.
The stories themselves were excellent. So much so that if I read Rennie and Tierney or Abe and Janie had their own book, I would have rated 5 hearts each. But with the constant back and forth, it downgraded the flow of the book for me.
Wrangled and Tangled starts off with Abe and Janie's story. The previously married couple meet up again when Janie returns to the Split Rock Resort. Old feeling resurface and both tread carefully. It was a great plot line on how Lorelei James had Janie temporarily move back into Abe's home and a great turn of events that kept Janie at the family home.
I appreciated how Abe did a lot of admission that he was not the best husband first time around and it wasn't until an excellent confrontation by Abe near the end of the book that Janie finally realizes that she too was not the best wife. I was seriously cheering Abe on while reading that speech. Go Abe!
Rennie and Tierney was my favourite couple story of the book. I loved that Teirney wore glasses and was smart yet inexperienced. It was awesome reading how they constantly battled each other and then all that passion finally bubbled to the surface. Keeping their passionate affair discreet lead to interesting locked door meetings and google eyes across the rooms.
Each of the couples had smoking hot intimate scenes and I enjoyed reading how their love for each other bloomed perfectly for each couple.
Teasers: first time, toys, community dance, Mud Lilies (less)
I just love these short Exotic Gems from Resplendence Publishing. I especially like when Brynn Paulin writes an Exotic Gem because I just love her writing.
After Erik accepts bet dared by his two friends, he walks up to a complete stranger (a man) and kisses him lips to lips, tongue to tongue. What he thought was a cool three hundred bucks knocked his socks off and made him stagger out of the Vegas bar they were all in.
I enjoyed All In, because it was a story about a male's sexual preference discovery and his "first time". I love reading about romance adult"first time" stories.
You wouldn't think with a quick short story I would feel a connection between Erik and Joel but it was completely believable that Erik was shocked and excited to find out he really wanted to pursue Joel sexually.
Their intimate scene was exciting and super sexy. I wanted to Erik to walk away comfortable with his decisions and not feel shame. I really liked that the author, Brynn Paulin did that to Erik. I also liked that she wrote that his one night of lust did not lead him to all of sudden date tons of men. All In was a great sexy read. Not to give away the ending, but I loved it.
Teasers: Clark Kent, bounty hunter and handcuffs (less)
Well as you can see by my last 5 book reviews, I've been buried in the Mercy Thompson series. I also must add, I've been loving this urban fantasy continuation story dearly. So let me tell you how hard it was to decide whether to even purchase River Marked or not. You see, I like all my books to match on my shelf. Every Mercy Thompson book I had got was paperback. River Marked is currently available in either hardcover or Kindle BUT there is the kicker. On Amazon the hardcover of River Marked is $16.43 and the Kindle copy of River Marked is $15.65 and the paperback is not coming out until next year. So what is a girl to do??? Yep I was frustrated. $15.65 is way above what I allow myself to spend on Kindle books. Reading on Kindle is my favourite way of reading books. I dislike holding hardcovers. So I decided I need my Mercy and Adam fix and went against my rules and paid $15.65 for a Kindle copy but I was and still am pretty grumpy about it!
I know none of the above is the author's fault but it is still a thorn in my side. I suppose the publishing world is laughing in my face because I went ahead and bought the Kindle version.
River Marked is exactly what I was craving for since I started to read the series. A book solely dedicated to Mercy and Adam. River Marked started right off with their "surprise" wedding and dove right into their honeymoon. I loved it! I am super excited that the next books in the series are the continuation of Mercy and Adam as a married couple. I just think the series will get better and better.
River Marked is different from the other books aside from Mercy and Adam being married. The cast is absent from this book since the duration of River Marked they are on their honeymoon. Now camping is not my personal favourite place to have a honeymoon but clearly a perfect spot for Adam and Mercy.
Just to make their honeymoon even more interesting, the readers learn a lot about Mercy's heritage, her father and some troublesome fae are thrown in for good measure. I love that even though they are on their honeymoon, the author Patricia Briggs still takes time to insert newlywed arguments to make it even more realistic. I love the scene where they had a very common argument that new couples experience and Adam tries to make it up. I have to insert it because it makes me smile. (they are in their wolf and coyote forms)
"He dropped a second rabbit at my feet and lay down in front of me, nose on his paws and his ears flattened. Nothing says you're sorry like a dead bunny." Loc 1126-27
Regarding Mercy's heritage, I am still deciding how I feel about it. It was a lot of information to absorb. The lowdown about her biological father was a bit confusing to me. I think that Patricia Briggs wrote it that way to be confusing. I am still on the fence about it. I did love reading about the new character, Coyote. I loved his personality and his wit. It was not what I was expecting at all.
The villain this time around was a river monster that gave me the heebie geebies about underwater creatures. If the River Devil was not scary enough, Patricia Briggs threw in the fact that the creature enjoys eating children the most. It was heartbreaking to read about.
The battle that Mercy fought with the River Devil was heart pounding and I admit to going back and re-reading. I was reading it so fast that I had to go back to absorb it once I knew how it all ended. Poor Mercy sure takes a beating in her books.
All in all a great book but perhaps not as good as the previous ones. I am super excited that Adam and Mercy are married and I look forward to their many adventures. That was undoubt the best part of River Marked for me was the solidification of them as a couple.
Teasers - wedding butterflies, not so cute otters, Wal-Mart smackdown, magic fae staff moves on??? (less)
Hellion and the Highlander was my favourite of Lynsay Sand's medieval Highland series. There was just something so heartwarming when the talkative Lady Averill nurses the gravely injured Kade back to health.
Lady Averill has red hair and in the English medieval times, red hair superstitiously meant that the person had a devil temper. Couple that with the strawberry birthmark on Averill's cheek, she was turned down for marriage quite a few times.
Kade's injuries left him blind for awhile so all he got to know of Averill was a sweet docile lass that took much care in nursing him back to health. Once Kade gained his site back, he was strongly attracted to her beautiful red hair but wished she had a stronger demeanor. She'd never last in the harsh Highlands as sweet as she was.
One particular night Kade witnessed Averill's hot tempered side and he was a gonner. He immediately asked for her hand in marriage and her father eagerly accepted.
Once back into the Highlands at the Stewart holding, there was trials and obstacles that Averill had to overcome. One was putting up with drunken in laws. It was a tough situation as Kade needed to take over as laird and have his clan accept him. He was gone for many years and the clan was in complete disarray.
As Kade took over as laird of the Stewart Clan, there was someone trying to kill him. It was certainly quite a mystery as there was no obvious villain to point the finger at.
In no time at all, Kade and Averill fell in love but not admitting it to each other. I loved that the couple are married at the beginning of the book and the entire story is of how they fall in love and work as a team. Highly enjoyable.
Teasers - adorable Laddie, wet chemise on horseback, Averill & Evelinde meet, chest of treasure(less)
I thoroughly enjoyed Devil of the Highlands. I was craving a light hearted historical romance and Lynsay Sands delivered. I've read four of Lynsay Sands historicals and I adore her whimsical light humour and her heroines.
The Devil of the Highlands , Cullen, isn't really a devil. His reputation hails from the attitude of having people believe what they may and he does nothing to encourage nor discourage the devilish stories. His sole concentration is the well being of this men and clan.
The first encounter between Evelinde and Cullen is so awesome that my cheeks hurt from the smiling. I am not going to spoil it and I'd rather just share that it is the perfect beginning to having the couple fall in love with each other.
Evelinde is adorable and has endured a lot of verbal abuse by her step mother. In fact, it is her step mother who asked the king to marry off Evelinde to the legendary Devil of the Highland. Her hopes of Evelinde receiving beatings from her husband certainly back fire.
There is a bit of mystery in Devil of the Highlands as somebody seems to want to harm (if not death) to fall onto Evelinde. The mystery is who? And why?
Great book to read about historical times within the Scottish Highlands. I can't wait to dive into the last book The Hellion and the Highlander.
Teasers - river meeting, actions speak louder than words, Evelinde in a tree, harrowing cliffs (less)
Another fun historical read by Lynsay Sands. I kick myself for reading them out of order because Taming the Highland Bride is book 2, not book 1 like I had thought. I should have checked Goodreads first instead of the inside covers. Oh well. I have book 1 The Devil of the Highlands and I also already have book 3 The Hellion and the Highlander so I'll just have to step back one book and start it.
Taming the Highland Bride was a very enjoyable read that included a bit of a mystery too. Someone was out to hurt or kill Alexander and unfortunately Merry was even a suspect. It was creative to have the villain so obvious yet there was always a thought that perhaps that person was not necessarily the true villain. Right up until the end when I saw I only had a few pages left, I still wasn't sure who the culprit was.
Poor Merry grew up having the need to take an adult role her entire life. Her father may have been Laird Stewart but due to his drunkenness and his lazy sons, Merry seemed to be the true laird of the clan. She really didn't have anyone to rely on before.
Not having the need to depend on anyone, made it difficult to accept Alex and even something as simple as heeding his advice of taking her time to walk after dismounting from a horse made her suspicious.
Since someone was constantly out to hurt Alex, Merry seemed to save him from peril more than a few times. Being a brave warrior, that was hard for him to accept that his hero was his tiny wife. It was nice to read how smart Merry was in each of these rescue situations.
I enjoyed the journey of their blooming love and was piqued by the mystery of who was out to get him. Excellent read and I can't wait to step back to book 1.
Teasers - Stewart Shrewd, big claymores, draining the dragon, genius horse rescue by Merry (less)
The Mercy Thompson series continues strong with Silver Borne. I love that the story revisits a subplot from a previous novel and focuses on the secret fae book that Mercy was given by Phin, the bookstore owner. I had been curious about that fae fairy tale book and Silver Borne did not disappoint.
I have to admit I really needed Sam's story line to take a turn as he was beginning to become a bit of a bother to read. I wanted him to stop holding Mercy hostage so to speak. His presence and his continuing to live at her trailer just seems to hold her back from moving forward with Adam. Her guilt, her worry and her care for him made her hesitant. I was super pleased to see some advancement in that respect.
Silver Borne also gave the reader a lot more insight into the pack life. With each book the readers learn more and more. I find it all so interesting. I also love to read as much about the Fae as possible. I find them all so fascinating. Since Silver Borne was a Fae based book, I simply loved it.
The challenge for Adam's Alpha's spot was awesome to read. I knew that Adam would still come out on top but it didn't prevent me from biting my nails. Once again Mercy was able to steal the spotlight but I was cheering her on with her actions.
I am feeling a bit sad because I only have one more book to go before the end of the series as it is published to date. I am forever a fan and I will continue to follow each and every Mercy Thompson book published.
Teaser - Alpha challenge, bye bye trailer, "Snowball", silver garland in the white snow(less)
Allow me to introduce you to an amazing new urban fantasy series. Chosen is book 1 and November can't come fast enough until I get book 2, Hunted into my hot little hands.
Every once in a while a series comes along and grabs you. For me, Chosen did just that. I contemplated booking a vacation day just to have alone time without kids so I could read without interruption. I just didn't want to put down my Kindle. As it turns out I was able to sneak in some free time at home and during kids sports practices so I got plenty of quality reading time in. Well if you count staying up until 2AM on a work day.
When I started to read Chosen, the first line grabbed my attention. "Emma bolted out the door of the rundown diner, pulling her five year old son behind her. She broke into a cold sweat that had nothing to do with the humid July heat." Right from the get go, my interest was perked and I wanted to know, what, why and how right away. Chapter one was so chalked full of action I think I forgot to breath. I wanted to know what was going on and the little boy Jake had me so curious.
My curiosity didn't stop for chapters and chapters and once I got to fully understand what was going on with Jake and Emma, it was a wow factor.
Will is a perfect hero because he doesn't start off being the hero or shall I rephrase that and say, Will didn't start off intending on being a hero but he immediately adapted to the role. With Emma and Jake on the run, they needed Will and I think Will needed them just as badly. Once the pair got over their impending need for each other, they were a perfect match.
There is an explosion scene that blew my mind. The pain and despair scream through the pages and I my vision got more than a little blurry.
Because Will, Emma and her son Jake ended up on a cross country chase, there was no down time. The book just kept moving and moving and scene after scene was knit together tight and seamless. There were no "filler" scenes and each scene and chapter had a purpose to move the story forward.
I became a fly on the wall watching Emma and Will allow each other to experience their feelings grow for each other. She was not willing to trust so easily and he was not willing to become emotionally attached. Their emotions were true to their characters and in the end the way they ultimately depended on each other was a wonderful evolution to be a part of.
Since Chosen is a series I love that Will, Emma and Jake's story will continue on in the next book. I am truly at a loss to predict how this predicament is all going to play out. The story ending is a bit angsty and a cliffhanger and I've already contacted the author to beg ask me to get an ARC because I can't wait. I need to know the next step in this journey. Once this series is completed (I think it is a trilogy) it will be a stellar combo pack to purchase.
Teasers - awesome car chase, betting target practice, Bad Men, prophecy (less)
What a witty and fun read The Deed was. Poor Emma was so naive that she didn't understand what consummating the marriage meant exactly. Sure her husband slept with her one night but the only noise coming from the bed chamber was his snores.
Emma's misunderstandings about many different things made me chuckle quite a few times. After two years of marriage and with only one night of sleeping together Emma is desperate to have a child. She takes her plight to the king to see if he could order her husband to bed her. That time in court explaining her dilemma to the king was probably the most humourous part of the book. Here is a sample from last Tuesday's Teaser where I shared a few lines.
Although the king does side with Emma, by the time the deed was to be completed, her husband passes away. The king then orders a knight, Amaury de Aneford to marry her. Of course Amaury hears about Emma's visit to see the king and immediately thinks that Emma must be an old hag.
The bumbling antics these two encounter with their super quick wedding and then their growing love for each each made for a delightfully lovely read. I enjoyed from page one right until the end.
You'll enjoy reading all about their growing care and love for each other and you can't help but have Emma win your heart over. The only thing I wish I could understand more clearly is why her first husband decided not to bed her. It seemed to be left in the air a bit and perhaps left to the reader to determine that answer.
I am happy to have purchased this book during a time where proceeds are donated to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Avon sponsored the Kiss and Teal campaign.
Teasers - black clothes, head injury, damiana concoction, moat swimming(less)