Third in the Thunder Mountain Brotherhood romance series (intersecting with the Sons of Chance series) and revolving around the three foster boys whoThird in the Thunder Mountain Brotherhood romance series (intersecting with the Sons of Chance series) and revolving around the three foster boys who became fast friends. The couple focus is on Finn O'Roarke and Chelsea Trask.
This ARC was sent to me by NetGalley and Harlequin Blaze for an honest review.
My Take This is a sweet, simple story with a believable conflict, and Thompson pulls you right in emotionally with Herb and Rosie's problem and Finn's unwanted desires.
I do adore Thompson's Sons of Chance series, and this installment of the Thunder Mountain Brotherhood simply proves that she keeps on rolling out those cozy romances that make you feel so good. The conflicts are real, and the supportive characters are people you'd want to know.
While Thompson does put a bit of a twist on the I-can't-be-with-you trope, it was an irritating one with Finn protesting too much. Why Finn thinks it can only turn out one way is beyond me. It does reinforce how sad his attitude makes Chelsea.
As for that Alison, well, I agree with Chelsea. She didn't deserve what she took from Finn.
Jack and Josie stepped in (and up, lol) to "refine" Finn's and Chelsea's dancing. Yep, Jack insisted on dancing with Finn *more laughter* while Josie is dancing with Chels. That's not the only collaboration between Josie and Finn, either. They do have beer in common, and I suspect Thompson will make use of it for further Thunder Mountain Brotherhood / Sons of Chance conjunctions.
Mmmm, who knew cowboy skills translated into undressing skills, lol.
I do love that the Chances are business-like, but in a fun way, and very supportive of each other. It's a stark contrast with Finn's need to control every detail of his brewery.
Oh, boy. Thompson gives us all this feel-good cheer with a few conflicts: raising money for Rosie and Herb's ranch and Chelsea and Finn's non-relationship. Then she drops the big one. My heart just broke, and I had to start reading faster to find out if/when it was resolved. I so wanted a happy ending!
The Story All work and no play makes Finn a dull cowboy. Since his divorce, Finn O'Roarke has put all of his time into his Seattle-based microbrewery, unaware that back in Wyoming, his foster parents are on the verge of ruin. Now Finn and his foster brothers are trying to save Thunder Mountain Ranch and only one woman can help them turn it all around.
Marketing guru Chelsea Trask has had a thing for the gorgeous brewer for ages. When they work together at Thunder Mountain Ranch, however, she starts to see Finn's cowboy side. And it's irresistibly hot. Best of all, the attraction that's been sizzling beneath the surface has erupted in some very sexy situations. But is Chelsea falling for the real Finn…or for the cowboy he used to be?
The Characters Finn O'Roarke is a microbrewer in Seattle: O'Roarke's Brewhouse. Alison is his ex-wife. Brad is his brewery assistant. Jeff is his most experienced bartender. Roger is his not-quite-ready substitute.
Chelsea Trask is a PR and marketing whiz secretly in love with Finn. Her mom and dad are college professors: psychology and economics. Beth is her sister.
Thunder Mountain Ranch is where… …the thirteen-year-old Finn landed after his grandfather died. His foster parents, Herb, a retired veterinarian, and Rosie Padgett run a ranch in Wyoming for homeless boys. A new program, Thunder Mountain Academy, is a residential equine education program for teens. Ben Radcliffe teaches saddlemaking (A Last Chance Christmas, 17). Navarre and Isabeau are a couple of their horses. Ty Slater is a former foster child and their legal consultant.
Cade Gallagher is one of Finn's best friends and recently learned he's a Chance cousin. Lexi is his girlfriend, and Ringo is his cat. Damon Harrison is the third of the Thunder Mountain Brotherhood. Philomena "Phil" Turner is a carpenter and Damon's girlfriend.
Last Chance Ranch in Jackson Hole Some of the Sons are in the promotional calendar for the Thunder Mountain Academy and includes Jack Chance sitting on his horse, Bandit (he's married to Josie); Nick Chance is Dominique's husband (she's a photographer), and they have a teenage son, Lester, whom they adopted; and, Gabe who is married to Morgan.
Sarah Chance is the matriarch married to Pete Beckett. Cassidy is Morgan's younger sister and the ranch housekeeper who babysits the grandkids. Alex, Josie's brother, is married to Tyler, who's Morgan's sister.
Lily is a computer genius married to Regan O'Connelli, Nick's veterinarian partner. She also runs an equine rescue operation, Peaceful Kingdom (Riding High, 14). Harley and Wilbur are their potbellied pigs.
Trey Wheeler (also does the vocals) and Watkins are cowboy wranglers at Last Chance who happen to be popular guitar players as well.
The Bunk and Grub is a B&B run by Pam Mulholland who's married to Emmet, the Chance Ranch foreman; Yvonne works for her. Spirits and Spurs is Josie Chance's bar to which Finn shipped samples of his beer.
The Cover and Title The cover shows off a half-naked cowboy in a white hat atop a white horse, one elbow resting on the saddle horn, and leaning forward as he looks off into the distance.
The title is the Kickstarter campaign and the ranch supporters as they're Rolling Like Thunder promoting the ranch's purpose for foster kids and the new riding program....more
Tenth in the Boston General contemporary romance series and also a part of the overall Intrigue's Ultimate Heroes series (it's also Harlequin IntrigueTenth in the Boston General contemporary romance series and also a part of the overall Intrigue's Ultimate Heroes series (it's also Harlequin Intrigue# 1036) and revolving around Dr. Mandy Sparks and the man who tossed her aside.
My Take It's a sweet tale of an outgoing, caring woman, a doctor in an ER, and her boss, a former lover who threw her away.
The conflict is, of course, Mandy trying to ignore what they had. And of Radcliff also trying to ignore what they had in favor of what he believes he needs, is capable of. The conflict that draws them together is a series of muggings that lead to horrifying painful deaths. It's the aftermath of a death that leads to a desperate hunt for the truth. A deadline that kills.
The negative was those few lead-ups about their former sex life. All that hot, raunchy sex that Mandy has never been able to find again, and misses now. Except, I reckon my idea of "raunchy" is way beyond Andersen's, which seems to be "kiss, stick it in a few time (missionary position, naturally), have an orgasm or two, and…phew…"
The whole "secret" premise didn't make any sense. Why keep it all hidden when Radcliff has the resources to really work it? Why would two deaths and one missing person be a reason for pressure to be coming down from on high?
It does have the usual romance tropes, but they didn't jump out at me, mostly because I expected them, I guess. Well, okay, one trope did make me roll my eyes. The one in which Mandy realizes she does still love him. Well, duhhhh…
Yep, that's the worst I can say *grin*, and it is a compelling read. I couldn't put it down…
The Story Dr. Parker Radcliff thought his days of making love to Mandy Sparks had ended long ago...until she walked into his Boston E.R. Keeping their past relationship — and old feelings — secret was a challenge, especially once the beautiful new doctor uncovered a medical conspiracy and became a hot target.
Parker had a reputation as driven and unforgiving, but being Mandy's personal bodyguard became the primary focus of his days...and led to a couple of passionate nights. Now pitting himself against a madman was dangerous but necessary if he was to achieve what he wanted: keeping Mandy safe.
And Parker always got what he wanted — even against a killer.
The Characters Dr. Amanda "Mandy" Sparks loves the challenge of the ER's caseload and struggles to gain acceptance for alternative health options. A doctor who cares, she is trying to make it on her own merits without her famous father's aid. Dr. David Sparks is the plastic surgeon half of Hollywood uses. Kim is a good friend and a nurse in the Neonatal ICU as well as the glue holding the Wannabes together.
Dr. Parker Radcliff, the head of the ER department, keeps himself remote and unentangled since the tragedy of his mother's death and the emotion that led her to it.
Boston PD Detective James Stankowski is in charge of the case. Dr. Gus Robicheau is the pathologist.
Boston General's ER Aimee is one of the desk clerks. Dr. Gina Stuart is one of the ER's head attendings.
The victims include… …Irene Dulbecco, Julian George, and Missy Prieta. Millie Stone had been Irene's friend since childhood. Steve had been Irene's husband.
UniVax Pharmaceuticals is… …led by Anabella "Cutthroat" Cuthbert, its CEO. She does merit that nickname!Dr. Paul Durst is one of its researchers.
Jeremy Deighton is an enthusiastic, upcoming politician.
The Cover and Title The cover is a hero's pose with Dr. Radcliff in blue scrubs, his stethoscope draped around his neck, staring off into the distance. In the out-of-focus background is the flashing reds and yellows of an ambulance. The top third of the cover is a marbled purple with a huge fingerprint and the author's name in a complementing orange and the name of the publisher. A narrow dark royal blue band separates this third from the graphic below while a gradient of reds create a small box, calling your attention to the series information.
The title is Radcliff's bossiness, the Doctor's Orders, or it could be Mandy's persistence…!...more
Seventh in the Children of the Night paranormal romance series and revolving around the Cordova-DeLongpre family of vampires and humans. The couple foSeventh in the Children of the Night paranormal romance series and revolving around the Cordova-DeLongpre family of vampires and humans. The couple focus is on Abbey Cordova and Nick Desanto. Based in Northern California.
This ARC was sent to me by NetGalley and Zebra for an honest review.
My Take It's a cozy read and feels like the 1950s with its doting, concerned parents. While it's a fun read, it is not an A-quality read as Ashley doesn't develop the romance smoothly, the writing itself is lacking in grace, and there's no real depth to the story. Be warned, it's also insta-love.
It's age, how one looks and a feeling of not belonging that drives Abbey's worries while Nick is bored, fed up with having lived too long. It doesn't take much for Nick to change his mind about living, and the real question, for him, devolves to how he wants to live: as a vampire or a human. As for Abbey, the story becomes a vehicle for Ashley to explore the pluses and minuses of being either human or vampire. To explore that human yearning for wherever the grass is greener.
Savannah's thoughts about becoming a vampire are poignant, making me feel how important the little things in life really are. On the other hand, Nick's musings about what he misses about being a vampire are also sweet. It's a two-way street with whatever you've become accustomed to over the years (and years and years and years, lol) seeming the proper way to do things.
Oh, boy, the dreaded she-deserves-better trope…*eye roll*…
"A man who wouldn't look at eleven helpless humans and think of them as lunch."
Oh, brother. Logan's jealousy is so contrived. He should be feeling secure about her love for him, and that scene with Mara licking some blood from Nick's lip is a definite eye-roller with yet more eye rolls needed when Abbey confronts Nick about the lipstick. Sure, you'd think Logan's and Abbey's reactions are reasonable…but just wait until you read the scenes, though…*eyes rolling like a one-armed bandit*…
Two issues I'm wondering about include Ashley stating that Rane is a born vampire and then later she says that he was turned vampire when he and Rafe turned thirteen. So, which is it? Born means when you're born, doesn't it? Then there are all these "uncles". If Rane is her dad, shouldn't some of those "uncles" be "grandfathers" and "great-grands"?
Aww, the new setting for Pearl and Edna is so sweet. And quite fortuitous.
I suspect I'd have gotten more out of the story if I'd read the previous installments. There is a lot in here that's implied and assumes that you know about past incidents.
The Story It's computers once Abbey flips through the list of her abilities with every job seeming to require computer literacy, and it's that visit to the computer store that will change everything for her.
Nick is tired. Alive for better than 2,000 years, he wants to end it. To experience a real death.
The Characters Abbey Marie Cordova is a wanna-be actress struggling in New York City. Rane Cordova, a former magician and vampire, is her adoptive father. Savannah was her human mother who chose the Dark Gift after Abbey graduated from high school. (Savannah's father is William Gentry, and she's a direct descendant of Abraham Van Helsing through her vampire-hunter mother, Barbara Gentry.) Freckles is the horse her parents give Abbey. Serenity is the very high-strung horse Savannah usually rides.
Niccola "Nick" Desanto is over 2,000 years old, but still younger than Mara, the vampire who turned him. He was her first.
Uncle Logan Blackwood, a.k.a., Hektor, is an Oscar-winning director, married to Mara, Queen of the Vampires who is better than 2,000 years old, about whom rumors flew that she was human again. Derek, Mara's son and a werewolf, got married last month to Sheree. Mara is godmother to Abbey, Rane, and Rane's twin brother, Rafe, whose parents are Uncle Vince Cordova and his wife, Cara. Uncle Rafe is married to Kathy. Cara is Uncle Roshan (vampire) and Aunt Brenna (witch) DeLongpre's daughter.
Pearl Jackson, a.k.a., Anita, might have a cure for what ails an old vampire. Edna Mae Turner, a.k.a., Brittany, is her partner and completely unable to keep a secret. (Uncle Rafe turned these two hunters during the War.) James Harkness and his friend, Monroe Taylor, take Anita and Brittany out on a date. Al, the bartender, is a vampire, and Diane is a waitress there.
Dendar is the vampire who turned Mara. Kyle Bowden, a werewolf, had once been married to Mara. Father Lanzoni, a vampire priest, has married many of the Cordova-DeLongpre vampires. (He was a priest when he was turned.)
The hunters include… Louise McDonald and Cindy McDonald Meloni, sisters, were legendary hunters who have been killed. F. Meloni is Cindy's daughter. Thad Rivers is a hunter who kidnaps Pearl and Edna. Cal. Clary and Berta are part of the kidnapping party.
Peter Abbott is Abbey's agent. Zendeya is a witch descended from Zara, the witch who did some altering in the Van Helsing book. Miles Jay Cunningham, an accountant, was the sperm donor with several aliases: Miles Novotny, a warlock in New Orleans; Miles Lightner, a self-proclaimed psychic and healer in Boston; Ace Lightner in Santa Fe; and, a dealer in Atlantic City.
The Cover and Title The cover has the most gorgeous man on it, or should I say 2,000-plus-year-old vampire? Dark hair, stubble on his chin, naked from the waist up with a background of silhouetted trees against a blazing yellow sunset — who wouldn't fall in love? A gorgeous scroll flows across the bottom with the author's name in a serif font and a smaller swirl for the title in a sunset yellow-orange with the name of the series in white.
The title is all about Abbey and her metaphorical capitulation to Night's Surrender....more
I knew I'd read this, but I can't find that I wrote a review, so I'm going on memory here. For all its erotica appeal, it's quite cozy with Katie explI knew I'd read this, but I can't find that I wrote a review, so I'm going on memory here. For all its erotica appeal, it's quite cozy with Katie exploring an English village and becoming aroused by a painting. Then she meets the artist and more. It's quite good, as evidenced by my remembering it two years and 700 or so books later......more
Seventeenth in the Otherworld/Sisters of the Moon urban fantasy/romance series and revolving around the D'Artigo sisters. This story uses a first-persSeventeenth in the Otherworld/Sisters of the Moon urban fantasy/romance series and revolving around the D'Artigo sisters. This story uses a first-person point-of-view with Delilah as the first person.
My Take I remember when I first started reading this series and Galenorn came up with the nine seals — only six have been found so far. I had thought this was the underlying conflict that would tie the overall series together and that the series would end after nine or so books. As you can see, I was so wrong.
It's a combination of impressed and exasperated that it's seventeen books later…and still going strong. It's frustrating because I can see Galenorn going on until the world comes to an end. Our world, not the D'Artigo world since they can presumably live forever. Or close enough. And as long as the story is running, we'll never find all the seals, we'll never defeat Storm Wing?? The underlying conflict will never come to a close?
The impressed part of me enjoys the ongoing saga. I like the characters, for the most part — except when they are being stupid. And Galenorn does a good job of making the never-ending series of calamities that befall the sisters seem realistic for their lives. I gotta say, Galenorn is good with the show. I can never get through a story without feeling wet, cold, or hungry, lol, as well as feeling the warmth of their extended family's love and support. I do have to qualify this with a reminder that Galenorn is an uneven writer. Some are great, some are so lame that I'm tempted to seek a cure for my OCD-ness about reading a series straight through.
I am surprised that "the collar of the Autumn Lord [is] encrusted with rhinestones". I would have thought diamonds would be more in line with an elemental lord. Another quibble is about Henry Jeffries. I thought he had started working for Camille at the Indigo Crescent, not that he was just a customer?
Whoa. The mystery of why Arial's existence had never been mentioned is finally revealed. Talk about Fate, predestination, destiny…
Roz's and Fraale's curse comes up when she appears. I don't really understand why Galenorn tossed this in. It doesn't appear to add anything to the story except extra pages and a lot of melodrama. Seems Mennolly's marriage is also in trouble. Then there's the hot and heavy affair going on that has Delilah all a'twitter. And I have no idea why it upsets her so.
A nice, relaxing (and easy) vacation is "a good movie now and then, a bowl of popcorn…some cookies…a hug from our loved ones. Simple joys…[that] can make a world of difference".
It's not a complex story — the reactions and dialog are fairly simple, but one with lots of action from lightweight to intense — necromancers, ghosthunting, wild and windy storms, possession, curses, home invasions — and the up-and-down emotions of love, maternal urgings, and too many losses.
God forbid, Galenorn miss a topic. Now she's brought in global warming with the Fae campaigning about environmental damage. This should be a future source of fun with the fae getting involved with courts, protests, and habitat protection.
That scene where the house goes wild is not so much scary as crazy. More crazy is how overboard Galenorn goes with all the drama about Daniel's current and past professions as well. The sword also comes in for its share of overdone-ness. The sex, which is always a part of Galenorn's stories varying only in how graphic she gets from story to story, does seem to get into more detail than most.
For all the drama throughout the story, that final ending was rather tame.
The Story It's the grand reopening of the Wayfarer after events in Autumn Whispers, 14, and the festivities are well under way until Daniel rushes in, waving a sword before he gets thrown across the bar by a Viking.
It's a sword that interests too many people: necromancers, ghosts, and the sword's guardians.
The Characters The three D'Artigo sisters are… …half-human and half-Fae and in charge of the Otherworld Intelligence Agency (OIA)-Earthside (in Otherworld, their surname is te Maria). Sephreh ob Tanu is their full-blooded Fae father who is believed to have died two months ago in Autumn Whispers.
Delilah is a busy girl supernatural-wise: a werepanther, werekitty (Tabby), and a living Death Maiden destined to bear the Autumn Lord's child through his proxy, Shade, half-shadow dragon and half-Stradolan (a shadow walker) (they've been together one-and-a-half years). She operates a private investigation agency (when, I don't know), Cat's Eye Investigations. Lysanthra is her sentient dagger. Lash is Shade's sister. His father is on the Jury of the Damned which decides the fates of restless spirits. Misha is a mouse who had helped Delilah. Hi'ran is the Autumn Lord, an Elemental Lord also known as the Harvestman. Haseofon is his temple where the Death Maidens dwell. Greta is Delilah's trainer and the head of the Death Maidens. Other Death Maidens include Eloise, Mizuki, and Fiona. Deliah's dead twin, Arial who shifts into a leopard, also lives there.
Mennolly is short and quite athletic — she was a jian-tu acrobat before she was captured, tortured, and turned into a vampire. She's also the official consort to Roman, the son of Blood Wyne, the vampire queen and Queen of the Crimson Veil. Erin is a vampire Mennolly turned and is considered her "daughter". Mennolly is now married to Nerissa, a werepuma who works with Chase.
Camille is the oldest and a witch and Priestess to the Moon Mother; she's destined to become the first Earthside High Priestess to the Moon Mother. She owns a bookstore, the Indigo Crescent and the Coffee Nook, but Giselle, a demon, runs it. Trillian is Svartan fae, Morois a death-magic-using Youkai-kitsune (Japanese fox demon) and Grandmother Coyote's grandson, and Smoky is a white dragon, a.k.a., Lord Iampaatar, and they are Camille's three husbands. Misty is Camille's spirit cat.
The rest of the D'Artigo household includes… …Vanzir, who is a dream-chaser demon. Roz is an incubus, and their quarters are in the studio. Fraale is Roz's wife and a succubus. Hanna is their housekeeper (see Hexed: Ice Shards, 9.5). Maggie is their baby gargoyle.
Chase and his baby girl, Astrid, live with Iris, a Finnish house sprite, and her husband, Professor Bruce O'Shea, a leprechaun who is the head of Irish Studies at the University of Washington. They have a baby as well, twins actually: Maria and Ukkonen. The Duchess is Bruce's mother and one of the leprechaun nobility. She's actually quite helpful.
Prince Feddrah-Dahns, a unicorn, and Mistletoe, a pixie, are also considered part of the family, even though they visit infrequently.
Daniel Fredericks is their Earthside FBH cousin who is also an international thief and a former member of the International Security Agency (ISA), an agency specializing in black ops. His sister is Hester Lou. Leif Engberg is the wealthy playboy of a client who owns the sword. Karl was the father who impressed Leif with the need to have his own son so that the sword may always be guarded. Davis Jones wrote the article that initiated the drama.
The Wayfarer Bar & Grill is… …Mennolly's baby, which has just reopened after a disastrous fire in Autumn Whispers. The kitchen is fab too, and they've skipped the idea of a B&B. Jenny is the head waitress — and she's thrilled to be out of her stepmother's store (see Priestess Dreaming, 16)! Derrick Means is a werebadger and one of the bartenders. Digger, a vampire, is an assistant bartender. Peder, a giant, is the dayshift bouncer. Lucias, Tavah, and Frith are some of the portal guards.
Friends outside the household include… …Marion Vespa, a Koyanni (coyote shifter) and her husband who own the Supe-Urban Café. Jonas is a werebear. Frank Willows, a werewolf, is the leader of the Supe Militia. Siobhan Morgan is a selkie and married to Mitch, a carpenter. Siobhan has to take over the leadership of the Isle of Man Selkie Pod. Marion is their recently born daughter. Tim Winthrop is a computer programmer and cross-dresser. He's married to Jason Binds who teaches martial arts and is the D'Artigos' mechanic. Wilbur is a necromancer and neighbor who has partnered up with the girls from time to time; Ivana calls him Mad Man. Martin is his dead brother whom he raised as a ghoul. Rhonda and Sandro Lopez are squeaking by with their fruit stand, and that crisis opens another can of possibilities. Carter is a half-demon, half-Titan, a demigod, who has devoted his life to the Demonica Vacana Society. He's fascinated by information. His father was the Titan Hyperion.
Faerie-Human Crime Scene Investigation (FH-CSI) is… …is the police department that investigates supernatural crimes. Chase Johnson is the now-immortal FBH detective who heads it up. Mallen is the elfin medic, who has suffered his own losses. Aswala is the medic who replaced Sharah, Chase's lover and the current queen of Elqaneve (Autumn Whispers, 14). Yugi is a Swedish empath.
The Earthside Fae Queen Courts are… …located at Talamh Lonrach Oll, a.k.a., the Land of Shining Apples. Aeval, the former Queen of Night, is now the Queen of Shadow and Night. Titania was the Summer Queen and is now the Queen of Light and Morning. Morgaine is the third Fae queen, the Queen of Dusk and Twilight. She's also a distant cousin of the D'Artigo girls. Myrddin, the Lord Merlin, was rescued in Priestess Dreaming, 16 and now wields some authority in the Earthside courts. Mordred was Morgaine's son who ran off in Priestess Dreaming.
Ivana, the Maiden of Karsk, is a very scary and powerful Elder Fae who likes "bright" meat, children. She has also helped the girls at various times. A spiritual sadist, she cultivates ghosts in her garden. Feras Dannan is an autumn nymph on the Supe Community Action council who is having trouble with her landlords.
The very wealthy Jay Miles is a necromancer with too great an interest in all the wrong things. He is also a a member of the Loyal Order of Thunderbirds, a group that includes Van and Jaycee (we met them in Harvest Hunting, 8). Unfortunately, he is also a benefactor and a friend to many high society types. The Greenbelt Asylum burned down years ago, but its victims, I mean patients, still haunt the place.
Einar den Blodige, a.k.a., Einar the Bloody, was a cruel, vicious Viking warrior king who was betrayed and yearns to return to ravage the world. Kendell is a local thief on a number or wanted lists who is working with his even more dangerous brother, Aslo Veir.
Iyonah is a nasty witch we first met in Priestess Dreaming. Rataam, a toadsquatter (a mutant version of a goblin), is an unwelcome supernatural as it stinks to high heaven. We won't even talk about the other reasons.
Shadow Wing is the big bad who has been present but unseen from day one. He's a demon lord of the Subterranean Realms who plans to conquer Otherworld and Earthside. Telazhar is his general currently tearing a path through Otherworld.
An FBH is a full-blooded human. The Ionyc Sea is an alternate plane that allows Smoky and Shade to move instantly from one place to another. A devil-wraith eats magic and power and can only be gated Earthside by a powerful ghost controlled by an even more powerful necromancer. Oblition is the total destruction of the soul.
The Cover and Title The cover is green with a grayed-out green background of a tree-lined path, the rain slanting down with Delilah in her short blonde haircut, brown leather bomber jacket, and blue jeans. She's headed away from us down the path and looking over her shoulder, her dagger, Lysanthra, awash in a lime green glow, reflecting so much light that it highlights her jacket. The author's name and the title use the same white Renaissance-looking font in all-caps at the top and bottom respectively. I do appreciate the series name at the bottom.
The title is about Delilah, for she is a Panther Prowling throughout this story....more
My Take I liked this one for its twist on how Matilda and Dante meet. She's a landscape designer who has crA contemporary Harlequin Australian romance.
My Take I liked this one for its twist on how Matilda and Dante meet. She's a landscape designer who has created a lovely rooftop garden for the hospital. An expense that Dante sees as wasteful.
There are some blips that detract from the story. Dante blows hot and cold, but there's an abruptness in this that doesn't feel right. Then there's Matilda's vacillations. Oh, brother. Why do we always have to endure the heroine who can't stick to her guns? He keeps telling her that there can be no relationship, and then she wimps around because the sex is so great and then he turns cold. Well, duh… The only feelings guys generally have about sex is the joy of getting off. They don't need the romantic aspect as much as women do.
No, I don't object to her falling for him, I simply object to her expecting that he will fall in love with her since the sex was good. Gimme a break.
I did enjoy Dante's demand that she stop apologizing. How many times have you wanted to tell someone to stop. To not keep saying "I'm sorry" as it doesn't do any good, or it's not their fault anyway. We often say it as a way of sympathizing and not as an apology.
I liked that Matilda was brave enough to say what she thought. To hold to her pride without letting her hurt Alexis. That Dante could admit he was wrong.
The garden sounds absolutely gorgeous…sigh… I miss my garden.
The Story Rudeness in the hallway. A clash in an elevator. A disagreement over a garden's benefits. Matilda hopes she'll never have to endure his company again. Only to be enticed by Hugh into agreeing to create a special garden for his emotionally damaged granddaughter. Too bad she hadn't realized the granddaughter's father was Dante.
The Characters Matilda Hamilton is a landscape designer who recently left her jerk of a boyfriend, Edward. Most of her work had come through his real estate business and winning this commission from the hospital is a coup.
Dante is a renowned Italian barrister specializing in criminal defense whose wife, Jasmine, recently died in a car crash. His daughter Alexis, who was in the crash as well, is turning inward, having tantrums.
Hugh is a hospital administrator and Dante's father-in-law. Katrina is his cold, standoffish wife determined to keep the memory of her daughter, Jasmine, alive.
The Cover and Title The cover is sweet with Matilda and Dante gazing into each other's eyes with a backdrop that is reminiscent of the Mediterranean with a touch of rocky shore.
The title is a bit odd. Yes, Dante would want a mother for his daughter, but he's certainly not looking. Mistress? Probably as he prefers a relationship in which both sides know there will not be one. So to call this one Wanted: Mistress and Mother is a bit confusing. It's more as though this one was up for grabs in the spare titles jar and no one wanted to spend the time coming up with something....more
Fifth and last in the Lux science fiction romance series for young adults and revolving around Daemon Black and Katy Swartz, his family, and their friFifth and last in the Lux science fiction romance series for young adults and revolving around Daemon Black and Katy Swartz, his family, and their friends.
My Take Think Invasion of the Body Snatchers…eeeeek. Jesus, Armentrout had my heart in my throat as she kept throwing out all sorts of doom-and-gloom. I had no idea how she'd manage to pull off any kind of happily-ever-after, especially after "meeting" the Luxen. I mean, I knew there had to be an HEA, right? I certainly can better understand why Dr. Roth said they were the cause of the war between themselves and the Arum. What a nasty bunch of people!
It's an intriguing switch Armentrout introduces with Dee's reaction to the Luxen mind so different from Dawson's and Daemon's. A terrifying one that contributed to that heart-in-the-throat reaction. Another welcome switch was Luc's announcement that "most of the hybrids and older Origins" weren't thrilled with the Daedalus treatment. No kidding, and at least they could make up their own minds! For such a "smart" woman, Husher is really stupid.
"You're not their mother. You aren't anything but a monster to them."
I'm surprised that the newscaster doesn't make the obvious connection between the amateur video of a Luxen assimilating a man and political leaders.
The point-of-view switches between Katy and Daemon, and despite Armentrout heading each chapter with who is speaking, it's still somewhat confusing. The other negative, a slight one, is the number of clichés Armentrout employs. The positive is that she does twist 'em up.
The are some scenes with despised tropes that made my eyes roll around — not enough to get dizzy, fortunately. Three in particular are the ones in which Katy absolutely insists on heading out to the store and absolutely must join in the fight and save the child. Then there's the captive-versus-dissimulating-lover scene, another eye roll. Yes, there are more tropes, but I enjoyed those. So, sue me. I liked those because Katy was smart in them.
I did enjoy the confrontations between the general and Daemon. I'm not sure I trust that general.
Armentrout tortures us with that scene after Kat encounters the army of Luxen. I thought for sure this was the end for them. Then she sets up another end. Yep, I cried. Then, there's another ending…
While the overall story is intense, there is also a focus on Daemon and Katy making love — in fact, I feel as though the story was split in half. Half was the invasion and how the humans and our Luxen are dealing with it, and the other half is on how Daemon and Katy feel about each other. It is sweet, but it also got a bit tedious in how intensely passionate they got…again and again. No, it wasn't so much the, ahem, ins-and-outs, but of the emotions and the touching. So parents don't really need to worry about anything explicit.
The Story The world is ending. The Luxen have invaded, beings of light dropping from the skies, assimilating, killing critical people within the human population. And Daemon, Dawson, and Dee have disappeared to be with their fellow Luxen.
The Characters Katy Swartz, a book blogger and reviewer, is of high-school age, and yet she has been through so much: a government experiment, torture, death and resurrection. She's also married. To Daemon Black, a Luxen, whose race is the focus of the series.
Dawson and Dee are his siblings; they're triplets. Dawson has bonded with the human Beth as Daemon has to Katy.
Origin are… …half-Luxen and half-human hybrid, the result of government experimentation and abuse. They are incredibly powerful and can read minds. Luc is Origin, and as young as he is, he's very powerful and is owed a LOT of favors! Nadia is a human he loves. Archer is also Origin and was undercover as one of Katy and Daemon's guards at the government compound. He's also in love with Dee. Micah was the little Origin boy who helped Daemon and Katy escape Daedalus (see Origin).
Malmstrom Air Force Base General Jonathan Eaton is the "highest-ranking officer in the United States Air Force". Doctor Ramsey treats Beth.
The Arum are… …a race created to control the Luxen, by eating their energy. Where the Luxen are born as triplets, Arum are quadruplets: one female and three males. Hunter is an ostracized Arum who owes Lucas a favor. Serena is a human woman who is in love with Hunter and he with her. Lore is the brother who stands with Hunter while Sin is the brother who has remained with the Arum. Lotho is their totally crazy leader.
The invaders are… …arrogant and cold alien beings composed of light and capable of great feats and of great strength. Rolland Slone is the name of the mayor of Coeur d'Alene whom the Luxen leader assimilates. Sadi is a sadist, and Origin. She's been on earth awhile and was a Luxen spy. Quincy is one who is too taken by Katy.
Ethan Smith is the earth colony's Luxen Elder — and hiding the rest of his identity. Project Eagle is his baby.
Hybrids can't get sick and are fast and powerful; if they die, or the Luxen who saved them dies, both will die.
Daedalus is a Department of Defense government project that forced male Luxen to mate with mutated hybrid-humans to create more powerful Luxen-human hybrids. It was run by a single-minded, brutal, sadist: Nancy Husher. Dr. Roth was one of their medics.
PEP weapons are pulse energy projectiles, and the only known weapon humans have to kill Luxen, hybrids, or Origins. ARP is the Alien Registration Program.
The Cover and Title The cover is turquoise with streaks of light shooting down from the sky. It's half of Daemon's face staring out at us, his dark hair mussed, a stubbled jaw, and that green eye watching. Katy is in the background, walking.
The title is the focus of the story, the Opposition that rages against the invasion....more
The Stories "Fyre Brand" reads like a paranormal-romance B movie and is not writtSeries: "Surrender" (Bound Hearts, 1; also found in Ties That Bind)
The Stories "Fyre Brand" reads like a paranormal-romance B movie and is not written well, and yet I am intrigued enough to want to know if it's part of a series. One thing you can say for Leigh is that she may be all about the sex, but she does write a story to hold it together.
The Psychic Guardians are determined to control or put down people with psychic power to prevent a repeat of Tyre's reign of terror. One way to control them is to bond them with sex.
"Surrender" starts the Bound Hearts series through which runs a theme of threesomes which focus on the woman's pleasure. The couple focus in this one is on Tess Delacourte and Cole Andrews with Jesse Wyman as their third. It's very soap opera-y and not one of my favorites; I suspect because Tess has such a wimpy attitude. Her mother, Ella Delacourte, is so incredibly uptight and vicious that I just wanna smack her; she'll get hers in "Submission".
The Cover and Title The cover does quickly inform that this has an erotic theme: a nude blonde with huge breasts, wearing cuff-like bracelets and a wide black ribbon around her neck, has one hand cupping a breast and she's bent over with a naked man behind her, his lips kissing her tilted up forehead.
The title is a nod to the two different stories with a Surrender to... the Fire....more
Sixteenth in the de Piaget historical romance series and revolving around the de Piaget and MacLeod families. This story takes place in 1232, and theSixteenth in the de Piaget historical romance series and revolving around the de Piaget and MacLeod families. This story takes place in 1232, and the couple focus is on Isabelle de Piaget and Gervase de Seger. If you're interested, there is a chronological listing of the de Piaget books on my website.
I had wanted to give this a "2.5", but I do usually enjoy Kurland's stories so I'm giving it the benefit of my doubt.
My Take Hmmm, how do I put this? It's a lovely sweet story, and I do love how Kurland blends contemporary dreams with the values and manners of the 13th century and turns it into a riotous romp of delicious tension and crazy romance. It is filled with impossible situations with a known end result that Kurland provides with a twist. Isabelle is a bright woman as well as a naive one. She's generous in wanting to help, and she's a very spunky lady — I adored how she took on the stepmother and the ex-fiancée. Still, I go back to that naiveté and wonder why Isabelle thinks she can go jaunting over to France all by herself.
"I'd like to have it out of the way, if you don't mind. Things to do, you know."
My Niggles Unfortunately, I do have a number of questions for Kurland. For one, I don't understand how Gervase's "coffers are emptying at an alarming rate". His dukedom is rich. He's not off battling anyone nor competing in any tournaments. He doesn't appear to waste money on going to court. Kurland never makes it clear where the money is going, although she subtly infers that his father wasted the ready.
Within one paragraph, Kurland states that Gervase is heir to a vast estate (which raises more questions about that monetary loss) and that his father is dead. As heir, hasn't he inherited?
How can so many people be so unobservant that they can't see that Isabelle is a girl or that her speech, hands, and skills indicate she is not a servant? The way Isabelle is treated after her rescue is clumsy and the writing feels more juvenile than usual. Yes, I did say juvenile. Kurland writes humorous fun stories, and yet there is a juvenile aspect to it at times. She's still well worth reading when you want some escapist entertainment.
I have to confess, I don't understand why Isabelle didn't make herself known to Gervase once her memory came back. Her brother is just down the road a piece. Not telling him does make this more fun, but still rather silly.
What is the pushy de Coucy guardsman doing hanging around Seger? Wouldn't he have ridden off with the master who employs him? I don't see how the names Imogen, Catherine, or Isolde are similar to Isabelle. What's with Nicholas' reaction to seeing Isabelle? It does make great drama, but it's so over the top. If Isabelle is as lovely as Amanda, why are all the suitors disappointed that only what's-her-name is left? How is it that Cook is so terrible and still employed at the chateau? Why does Isabelle have this urgent need to keep "escaping"? If Isabelle's brothers have taught their wives swordplay, how is it that Isabelle never learned?
What can I say? It's an over-the-top gothic romance that manages to be frivolous, idiotic, and still fun in a soap opera sort of way.
The Story Isabelle de Piaget is tired of being protected, tired of being overlooked, and wants some adventure in her life. Only she gets so much more than she bargains for when she loses her memories and ends up in the clutches of a demon who casts spells and terrorizes the populace.
The Characters The frustrated Isabelle de Piaget is the youngest daughter of Lord Rhys and Lady Gwennelyn from Another Chance to Dream, 1.
Isabelle's siblings Miles is Isabelle's twin brother. The boasting, rather obnoxious Robin — he and his wife, Anne (If I Had You, 2) have two children. Amanda is married to Jackson Kilchurn IV (Dreams of Stardust, 3), and they have a daughter and newborn son, Jackson the Fifth. John and Montgomery are the unmarried brothers. Nicholas and his pregnant wife, Jennifer, are at Beauvois in France (When I Fall in Love, 4). They have a son, James.
Joanna of Segrave is her maternal grandmother. Abbess Mary at Caours is Isabelle's paternal grandmother. Sir Etienne de Piaget was her grandfather. Sister Jeanne at the abbey is very good with her hands.
The horribly crushed Gervase de Seger, Duke of Monsaert, has his country seat at Chateau Monsaert in France. The silent and efficient Sir Aubert is his best friend and the captain of his guard. Parsival had been his favorite horse, Diablo is his best warhorse, and Philip is his second-fastest horse. He has six half-brothers: Lord Joscelin is his favorite, and Lord Guy runs the estate. Then there are Lords Lucien, Pierre, Fabien, and the six-year-old Lord Yves who is in need of a smack. His stepmother, Margaret, Duchess of Monsaert, is a nasty woman, unloved by any of her sons. Abelard was his grandfather and had some adventures as a nun. His father, Gaspard, seems to have been an absolute wastrel.
Master Paquier is the nasty, reluctant personal surgeon to Gervase. Mistress Jehanne is the cook; Adele is one of the kitchen maids. Sir Denis and Sir Lucas are the guards Sir Aubert assigns to Isabelle. Master Humber is his prévôt, his forester, and why his forester would be involved in the spring planting, I don't know. Cyon is a page. Master Simon is the stablemaster.
Frédéric, the Duke of Coucy's daughter, Evelyne, broke off her engagement with Gervase after his accident.
Arthur of Harwych is a would-be suitor. Captain Allard is the captain of the ship Isabelle escapes on.
The Cover and Title The cover is consistent with the title. Unrelated to the story. It is a lovely cover with its door-sized wrought iron gate, surrounded by lilac bushes, and opening onto a gravel path bordered with greenery.
I have no idea how the title, Dreams of Lilacs, came about (the only place "lilacs" appear is in the title and on the cover). It would have made much more sense if they had been forget-me-not dreams....more
A short story in the Mastered erotica romance series, 2.5, and revolving around Amery Hardwick and Master Ronin Black in Denver and Japan.
My Take It stA short story in the Mastered erotica romance series, 2.5, and revolving around Amery Hardwick and Master Ronin Black in Denver and Japan.
My Take It starts out as such a lovely fantasy…sigh…a plane with a bedroom and a well-appointed bathroom. A far cry from steerage in today's planes. And useful too since there is a lot of sex in this. In some respects, it seems as though James has strung story simply to connect their bouts in bed, and yet it is well strung and allows the point of the story to unfold.
Ronin's reaction to his grandfather's first questions is not what I was expecting. Seems he's growing up. Nor am I the only one who has noticed this. Amery is also growing as she becomes more comfortable with the idea of public rope play. It's completion and beginning for one and the other.
It's also a combination of honeymoon, playing tourist, and learning Japanese while exploring Japanese culture for Amery, who quickly becomes so incredibly bored. Contrast that with the grueling training that Ronin is undergoing with his sensei. And I'm exhausted.
It's a training that has a bittersweet reveal at the end of it. One which requires understanding and acceptance.
The Story From the heady pleasures of Tokyo bondage houses to the unyielding family traditions pulsing with every beat of Ronin's heart, Amery and Ronin find the limits of their relationship tested once again, and shocked to discover what they're willing to do in order to save it.
The Characters Amery has been married to Ronin Black, heir to a billion-dollar corporation and master of many martial arts as well as a master of kinbaku, for the past six months.
Daichi is Ronin's sensei in Japan and the man who teaches "traditional Japanese jujitsu in its purest form". Yasuji is Daichi's brother and bakushi, Japan's most renowned kinbaku and shibari rope in-command, bmaster; he has been Ronin's rope instructor. Rikya is Yasuji's wife. I had been expecting to meet Masaman, whom James stated was Ronin's sensei in Japan in Unwound, 2, but I guess he was out sick.
Shiori Hirano is Ronin's sister. Jenko is her bodyguard. Nureki "Ojisan" Okada is their horn dog grandfather, and the head of Okada Foods. Tamara Okada is Ronin's mother. Inichi Matso.
Bakushi Iggy claims to be a rope master and is performing at Go, which is owned by Go-jen.
Amery still has her graphic design company, Hardwick Designs, with the shy Molly Calloway now her office manager and new graphic artist. It's possible that Presley Quinn is the new artist, but it was difficult to tell from the text. Cherry Starr writes erotica and loves the covers Amery did for her trilogy.
Ronin's dojo is in the hands of his second-in-command, Knox Lofgren. Yondan Deacon McConnell is Ronin's third, and Molly claims he's being a sadistic instructor. Katie "the Kook" Pettigrew Gardiner, Thaddeus Pettigrew's baby girl, is still working at the dojo while Ivan the Terrific, Max Stanislovsky's son, is working hard. Badass Blue is Ronin's new partner, a master at Brazilian jujitsu.
Mark Beauchamp and Bernie Samuelson are their pilots. Nick is the flight steward. Carver handles their luggage.
The Cover and Title The cover is a soft flutter of deep pink ranging to pale, pale pink chiffon scarves suspended in mid-air.
The title is not what you'd think for a story of erotica, instead "Schooled" is about the lessons that Amery and Ronin each learn on this trip to Japan....more
This is a free short story from Nalini Singh's newsletter that occurs during chapter nine in Kiss of Snow, 10, in the Psy-Changeling paranormal romaThis is a free short story from Nalini Singh's newsletter that occurs during chapter nine in Kiss of Snow, 10, in the Psy-Changeling paranormal romance series that usually revolves around the allied wolf- and leopard-shifters and their very uneasy alliance with the Psy. In "Wild Night", the couple focus is on Tai and Evie, a pair of young wolfshifters.
Singh places "Wild Night" at 10.25 in the chronological list. If you're interested, there is a chronological listing of the Psy-Changeling books on my website.
My Take "Wild Night" presents Tai's point-of-view after Hawk has intervened in the bar fight in chapter nine. It's definitely an oops moment for these young wolfshifters and provides us a peek into Tai's concerns about his dominant wolf overwhelming the submissive Evie. He wants her to make her own choices.
One of the things I love about Singh's Psy-Changeling series is the depth and caring of the characters and the layers and layers of plots in the series. There is the primary theme running through the series of the battle of emotion against pure logic. Sub themes provide interest in the interaction between the different shifter groups as they protect their own interests while looking for help against their shared mortal enemy. The battles amongst the Psy are just as fascinating with the mental powers they have and the conflicting interests each of the Psy council members intrigue and fight over. Then there's the destruction of a core Psy belief and its fallout. Whew…never a dull story.
Providing the individual story plotlines is the focus on a particular relationship which develops into a happily-ever-after by the end of that book. Meanwhile, Singh is building future possibilities for books on down the line, which provides more depth. Yet more depth comes with the shifters' interaction within their own pack, with others, and with individual Psy.
The warmth and compassion in the stories will grab you and pull you in. Then Singh throws in those moral values of responsibility, loyalty, and friendship, and it's an eagerly read storyline that promotes those values and leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy at the end.
"Wild Night" is a beautiful lesson in responsibility and caring for someone you love. Recognizing their and one's own weaknesses and wanting to do the right thing.
The Story Hawke got wind of Sienna's activities at the bar and the brewing fight that could spin out of control. It's an unpleasant end to a wild night, and it gives Tai a chance to think over the relationship he wants with Evie.
The Characters Tai is one of the SnowDancer soldiers and in love with Evie, trying very hard to fight his dominant nature and give her enough space to be sure she's making her own choices.
Evie may be a submissive wolf, but she has Tai wrapped around her little finger. Indigo is her older sister and one of Hawke's lieutenants.
Sienna and Cadence and Amos are Evie's and Tai's friends.
Hawke is the wolf alpha and fighting his attraction to Sienna. Riley and Riaz are more of Hawke's lieutenants.
The Title The title is a peek at the aftermath of a "Wild Night"....more
An anthology of 29(!) short stories revolving around love and murder in a mix of romantic suspense and thrillers with a few paranormal tales.
I primariAn anthology of 29(!) short stories revolving around love and murder in a mix of romantic suspense and thrillers with a few paranormal tales.
I primarily picked Love is Murder up because several authors whose work I follow are in it. It’s an uneven mix of good authors and bad ones. It starts with the really bad stories and gets unevenly better.
The Stories Roxanne St. Claire’s "Diamond Drop" is a potentially cute story of a diamond courier escaping thieves. The end has a wee twist. Predictable and jerky in the writing. The last scene was, pardon the pun, thrust in at the last minute. The story reads more like she suddenly remembered she needed to get it in for its deadline.
Carla Neggers’ "Cold Moonlight" is a sweet romance, although I have no idea where "cold moonlight" comes in as it’s daytime when the action occurs. This story was one of the worst. I liked the characters, and I think it has potential, but…
I’m guessing that Charlie got lost? Is that why Grit got pulled in and is so readily available? What is Elijah’s purpose here? They’re not Secret Service. Yes, I know that Neggers tells us that Grit has an easier time finding Charlie, but why is he trusted to do this? What has Charlie done? The romance that flares up between Grit and Marissa? Oh, gag. Neggers, please spend some time developing romances in the future. Don’t give us this melodramatic claptrap that sounds like a wooden soap opera!
Beverly Barton’s "Poisoned" is another lame story. I’m sorry, but I’ve had food poisoning before and it’s never affected me like this. This was just stupid. Barton compounds it with that insta-HEA.bMy really big question is: if Olivia is so weak, throwing up, terrible stomach cramps, and Jed has caught up to her, close enough to touch her. How is it that she’s able to run away from him and hide? Dumb, dumb, dumb. It’s at this point that I seriously considered giving this up. Then I went and looked at the list of authors still to come.
Robert Browne’s "Speechless" will appeal to adults whose mothers "always know best". It’s clever, although I was also annoyed that "I" never spoke to David but cut him completely out. Browne does provide a nasty twist at the end.
Andrea Kane’s "Lockdown" is an improvement on the earlier stories in this hostage situation during a wedding. Thank god. It’s mostly tell, but Kane at least provides a smooth, flowing story with enough background that it feels complete.
William Simon’s "Spider’s Tango" is a cute blend of two stories. An ex-husband encounters his ex-wife during an FBI operation in which they’re desperately trying to find the kidnapped president’s daughter before the really bad guys get her.
Laura Griffin’s "Night Heat" is heated on at least two levels. One being the hot, humid night and the other being the nighttime rescue operation, for the ambassador’s party has been crashed by terrorists. And Mike Dietz is enthralled by the bravery of one of the party guests.
Sherrilyn Kenyon’s "B.A.D. Mission" finds Sam Garrett coming out of retirement to arrest an old girlfriend. It’s okay. Nothing special. It doesn’t feel like a B.A.D. story, though.
Dianna Love’s "Deadly Fixation" is a paranormal fantasy about a minor character, Devon Fortier, in a race with a bounty hunter to capture a troll with a major spell that could start a war. Interesting conflict even though it drove me nuts with the conflict between Devon and Joleen.
I shouldn’t think Joleen wants to get on VIPER’s bad side…
Patricia Rosemoor’s "Hot Note" is cute enough. A quick peek at a case Shelley must solve that involves suicides by drowning in this paranormal tale.
Jon Land & Jeff Ayer’s "Last Shot" is one for our economic times as a family is being forced into foreclosure. It’ll get your heart racing and the end will have you looking for your own copy machine! Very clever, with me on the edge of my seat, hoping and praying for Molly.
Heather Graham’s "Grave Danger" is too true and the title is a double pun. Graham does a great job of creating a whole story that flows well, even if the love story is a bit quick. She does at least provide some good reason for it. There’s plenty of action in here with movie props, zombies, and an on-the-loose serial killer. And a helping hand from the great beyond!
Mariah Stewart’s "Without Mercy" finds Mallory Russo investigating a cold case when new information comes to light (parents, this provides an excellent reason to know who your child’s friends are!!). Gruesome and heartstopping as the truth comes out.
D.P. Lyle’s "Even Steven" starts with a clear-up as Martha and Tim are planning their move. It’s heartbreaking to read as they look over all that they must leave behind. Their son’s murderer is being released from jail, and they can’t bear to live in the town that will let him out so soon. Lyle keeps you wondering throughout the story until the very end. And justice is served.
Cindy Gerard’s "Dying to Score" is a quickie mission that goes sour for the BOIs when Reed gets hit and is bleeding out. It’s only Tink’s determination that has, so far, kept the bad guys back. It’s a pip, and I always enjoy a visit with Gerard’s BOIs.
J.T. Ellison’s "The Number of Man" is a frustrating blend of annoying, confusing, and scary. I wish he’d done a better job of telling us that Michael is the stalker and his thoughts about dating Caitlyn are his fantasies. Not reality. It would have been better if he’d played up Michael’s mental issues rather than this confusing blend of Michael telling us he’s dating Caitlyn and then distancing Michael from the stalker calls Caitlyn is getting.
Bill Floyd’s "Hard Drive" is a conflict of interest for Howie when his ex-girlfriend is arrested for murder…and he stays mum. It’s an old trope that Floyd does well, even though I didn’t like Howie for his philandering.
William Bernhardt’s "After Hours" is a sexual mix-up with she/hes and he/shes who haven’t a clue. The two primary detectives in this alternate between warm and bigoted with casual exchanges between them. It’s a clever solution to the truth in this case. Nicely done.
Brenda Novak’s "Blood In, Blood Out" was a pip. Two guys who met in prison and befriended each other ended up in WITSEC together. And they’ve been on the run, dodging The Crew ever since. There’s a side story going on with Rex’s relationship with Virgil’s sister, Laurel. It’s a love-hate thing, and Rex is giving up. Very nicely done.
Vicki Hinze’s "Wed to Death" will have you worried and then crying as the wedding keeps getting postponed. It did tick me off that Matthew would be sacrificed if the op goes wrong when he was against it from the very start! All I can say is, emotionally, I’m so glad this was a short story. I’m not sure my heart would have survived if I’d had to read pages and pages!
Julie Kenner’s "The Honeymoon" will blow your mind with the betrayal and stupidity. It’s a sad tale, and yet, most of the ending you’ll feel quite righteous about.
James Macomber’s "Execution Dock" is a wide-ranging adventure with child custody issues setting off this male chauvinist pig who refuses to listen to the truth. And he’ll stoop to kidnapping and murder to salve his pride. Very good. Macomber is going on my TBR.
Alexandra Sokoloff’s "In Atlantis" starts as a typical chick lit that hits on Melissa’s curatorial interests as she shadows a potential art thief. It’s the ending that provides a surprising twist — and had me re-reading it several times because I couldn’t believe it.
Pamela Callow’s "Break Even" finds Eddie Bent, a lawyer whose caseload took a dive, anxious to take on this new case that could bring him back to the top. He’s also too soft for his own good as he too quickly learns. A lot of story for this short story. Nicely done. It sure took me in. Callow does leave us hanging at the end. Well, I think I want to be hanging. I don’t think I like the direction Callow appears to be pointing us.
Debra Webb’s "Dirty Low Down" finds a cocky private eye agreeing to be bait for a serial killer — and all the ways it goes wrong. You’ll laugh, you’ll panic, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief.
Toni McGee Causey’s "Broken Hallelujah" is about vengeance and vigilantes in New Orleans as two "opposing" forces take down the bad guy. Causey does get a lot in this story, and I have to agree with Brown, I want more, even if I am confused about that ending.
Lori Armstrong’s "Holding Mercy" is cute as Mercy Gunderson, FBI agent, tries to meet her boyfriend for a romantic date only to have her law enforcement training kick in. Poor baby. She does get, ahem, satisfied at the end.
Allison Brennan’s "Vacation Interrupted" means law enforcement is never truly on vacation. It’s a good story with a scary stalker who has the law on her side. Fortunately, Lucy and Sean are more interested in the truth.
Lee Child’s "I Heard a Romantic Story" is so incredibly sad. It’s all in a day’s work for our "protagonist" as he waits for his moment and has to sit through hours of the chief’s stream of consciousness prattling, trying to reassure himself about the undercover job his girlfriend is doing. I gotta wonder if the girlfriend knew what the plans were for that day.
The Cover and Title The cover has a white background with the author/editor’s name at the top and a few of the contributors’ names at the bottom. In between is the title writ large and the letters functioning as a window to a red background with a woman in a very low-backed little black dress stepping forward, a gun in one raised hand.
The title is the theme, for Love is Murder is all its possible forms....more
This free short story from Nalini Singh's newsletter falls in at 6.5 in the Guild Hunter paranormal romance series and revolving around angels, hunterThis free short story from Nalini Singh's newsletter falls in at 6.5 in the Guild Hunter paranormal romance series and revolving around angels, hunters, and vampires. The focus is on Sara, Deacon, and their daughter, Zoë. (Their story is in "Angel's Judgment", 0.5.)
Singh states that these free shorts are a peek into the everyday lives of her characters. Some of her shorts are available on her website while others are only available in her newsletter. I suggest signing up! And if you're interested, there is a chronological listing of the Guild Hunter books on my website.
My Take It's not a bad idea to explore your characters, flesh them out in a short story, and intrigue your readers with these "behind-the-scenes" tales.
This is so sweet with a contented family, enjoying their daughter, worrying over what Zoë will want to do with her life. I love that Deacon is so patient with his daughter's wanting to emulate her daddy. I love even more that both her parents praise her battered piece of wood, lol.
I do adore Deacon. He's such a hunk! And Zoë is such a sweetheart. I love her precociousness and that last scene with Slayer, lol, too sweet for words.
The Story A peaceful morning off from the Guild as Sara enjoys the antics of her husband and daughter.
The Characters Sara is the Guild Hunter director. Deacon is her husband and a much-in-demand weapons craftsman. Zoë Elena is their daughter (she's in nursery school). Slayer is their dog.Abel is Sara's deputy.
The Title The title is the reason for the story, our visit to "Zoë's Workshop". ...more
My Take On reading "Weapons Training" and putting together this review, I got to thinking how very smart Singh is in creating these short peeks into the lives of her characters. It's a great way to flesh them out. Make them come alive for her readers. And why waste the effort? Posting them as a free story simply makes sense.
In this one, Jessamy challenges her lover on his disgruntled comment, and it's their back-and-forth that reveals the truth of his anger.
Singh does a lovely tiny story in this, revealing so much about Jessamy and Galen as a couple as they argue, reminisce, and love.
The Story A spat, a difference of opinion about weaknesses and potential as Elena leaves the training grounds.
The Characters Galen is Raphael's weaponsmaster while Jessamy is the librarian, historian, and teacher of their young. Both live at the Refuge, a retreat and the home of angelkind.Elena is consort to Raphael, the archangel of New York City who rules a good chunk of North America. Illium is one of his angels.
The Title The title is the prelude to the dispute as Galen wonders if her "Weapons Training" will be enough....more
Seventh in the Guild Hunter paranormal romance series and revolving around the concept that angels rule the world and areFirst read November 28, 2014.
Seventh in the Guild Hunter paranormal romance series and revolving around the concept that angels rule the world and are the creators of vampires. The couple focus is on Ashwini and Janvier whom we first encountered in "Angel's Pawn", 0.6. If you're interested, I put together a chronological listing of the Guild Hunter books on my website.
This story takes up during the battle in Archangel's Legion, 6, with a special focus on Ashwini, Janvier, and Naasir's activities.
My Take Whoa, reading of the precarious battle Ashwini is fighting inside that skyscraper and her resolve to not be imprisoned again…dang, Singh has definitely caught my attention with that statement. Who imprisoned her before? Why? What scarred Ashwini? What broke her?
Then there's that terrifying rescue and you'll be panting as your heart races. Whew. I need a nap.
In spite of Singh's intriguing me with all these comments about imprisoned, that Ashwini can never be with anyone, etc., she makes me nuts. I always hate it when characters are in that whole denial thing, where they expect to never be happy, etc. Oy.
Singh is setting Illium, Naasir, and Aodhan up for their stories. I suspect Naasir will be the next one up and falling for a hunter or a vampire.
It's so sweet. Here is the Legion, definitely a force to consider, and I love that Elena wants to humanize them. To introduce them to joy. Singh makes me want to cry when Elena works with them in her greenhouse.
Oh, crack me up! That Titus sounds a treat, and I can't wait to meet him. Singh sings his praises so well, lol.
"Mostly they just sigh at the sound of his name and lose their train of thought."
I do like Janvier's remembrance of what one very old vampire friend said about keeping cattle, that "he was tired of the constant round of meaningless seduction, wanted only the intimacy and comfort of family around him." Now that's a reason that makes sense.
It could be the Cajun side of Janvier that makes me see him as romantic, but I suspect it's how he plans his seduction of Ash that sets this idea in place. It's a sad conflict with Janvier wanting Raphael to Make Ash that she might live forever while Ash sees vampirism as a horror, and Singh isn't giving anything away!
When Janvier talks of his family… I wanna eat gumbo and listen to zydeco and enjoy being around family. This joy Janvier takes in his family may not last, for he has no intention of living one minute longer than Ash.
I think this is one of the reasons I love Singh's writing. The characters may be deadly, terrifying supernatural creatures, but there's a hominess about them. A caring for others that touches your heart.
For writers having a hard time with info dumps, read Archangel's Shadow. Singh does a nice job of informing without it feeling like an aside, an oh, yeah, here's some information you should read.
Oh, this is so sweet and so perfect. It's been another build-up, this one of humor as the angels and vampires of the Seven talk up Naasir's idea of a host gift. It seems innocuous until it snaps at Elena and Naasir. And it is perfect. Perfect for Elena's interests and in line with what we've been led to expect from Naasir, lol.
Wow. Ash has her own way of holding a vampire prisoner. Ouch, ouch, ouch.
Even more wows…Janvier has figured out how to talk Ash into what he desires. The Story It's a three-man team whose mission is to piss the enemy off and distract them. It works, even when one of the enemy slices Ashwini wide open. Worse, it makes Janvier tender, soft…kind.
Now, not only must Ash investigate a mummified dog, humans, cattle, are complaining about ill-treatment by their vampire. And now there's a question about Lijuan. Is she dead or is she the creature who is sucking animals into a dry husk?
And Raphael's wings now flame with white.
The Characters Ashwini "Ashblade" Taj is a dyslexic Guild Hunter with a psychometric gift. Honor is her best friend. Dr. Arvan "Arvi" Taj, a neurosurgeon, is Ashwini's brother. Nineteen years older than her and has acted as her father since their parents died when she was nine. Tanushree "Tanu" was/is Arvi's twin sister, but she too is lost. Her father had been a professor literature; her mother was a professor of literature with an emphasis on South Asian texts. The whole family is of a professional bent.
Janvier is a 200 and forty-five-plus-year-old Cajun vampire who now works for the Tower using his ability to charm enemies and make friends wherever he goes on its behalf. The twin kukris he carries were made by Rhys, Neha's trusted general. His mother adored him, and he had two baby sisters: Amelie and Jöelle. Shamiya is the vampire who seduced him.
Raphael is the archangel who rules North America from New York City. He's mated to Elena "Ellie", a Guild Hunter who became an angel (see Angels' Blood, 1). Eve is Elena's younger sister. Caliane is Raphael's mother who only woke recently. She holds Amanat, a lost city that rose to the surface after an eon, and doesn't care for Elena (see Archangel's Consort, 3). At the Angel Enclave where Raphael and Elena have their home, Montgomery, with his larcenous soul, is Raphael and Elena's vampire butler. Sivya is the cook.
The Seven are… …a group of vampires and angels who are Raphael's trusted men. Dimitri is the most powerful vampire in the world and Raphael's second. Honor St. Nicholas, an expert in ancient languages and history, is his wife whom Raphael turned into a vampire for her safety and Dimitri's love (see Archangel's Blade, 4). Dimitri remembers his first wife, Ingrede, and their children, Misha and Catherina. Illium, a.k.a., Bluebell, is one of the most beautiful angels and renowned for his blue wings. Aodhan, a.k.a., Sparkle, is struggling with darkness. Jason is the spymaster; Mahiya is his mate (Archangel's Storm, 5). Keir is an angelic healer. Made by Neha, Venom is the youngest of the seven. Izak is one of the wounded angels. Once he heals he will be in Elena's Guard.
Naasir was the third man, er, vampire in the shadow team in Archangel's Legion. He's one of the Seven and their best scout. I don't recall anything being said about Naasir's mindset before Archangel's Shadow, and it's scarily interesting as well as heartbreaking.Trace is one of the young ones with an interest in poetry and art. Emaya is a combat-trained vampire out clubbing with Mateo.
Sorrow is a woman changed by a mad archangel.
The Guild Hunters are… …bounty hunters. They track the vampires who think they can skip out on their contracts. They also police the vampires…and sometimes the angels themselves. Sara is the Guild Director, and Deacon is her husband and a renowned weapon master (see "Angel's Judgment", 0.5). Saki recommended an oil to help Ashwini with her deep-tissue healing. Other hunters, friends, include Honor; Ransom, a former street kid whose librarian, Nyree, just said yes; Demarco; and, Elena. Vivek runs the computers for the Guild, and he's recovering from being Made by Aodhan. It should give him back use of his paralyzed body. Bracken is the Guild trainer. Hilda is another Hunter.
The Archangels are… …the Cadre. Terrifying creatures of tremendous power who rule huge areas of the world and take almost no notice of the lowly humans.
Titus is a powerful African archangel and an ally; he shares a border with Charisemnon. Galen's mother, Tanae, is part of Titus' army. Elijah and Hannah are a couple and friends of Elena and Raphael's. Favashi is the Archangel of Persia with the heart of a cobra. Neha is the Queen of Poisons and Snakes and rules in India. Janvier was at her court for most of his 100 years. Michaela is a treacherous bitch of an angel who is already clamoring for some of Lijuan's lands. She's sleeping with Astaad's second, Dahariel.
Lijuan is the oldest of the Cadre and rules China; she is the enemy who came against Raphael in Archangel's Legion. She'll drain her people into husks. Her generals include Xi, Alistair, Philomena, and Cornelius. Charisemnon is one of Lijuan's buddies with a new ability to create disease.
The Refuge is… … a neutral retreat for angels to heal, teach, work as well as their home and a sanctuary for their young. Galen is the weaponsmaster ensconced at the Refuge. Jessamy is a handicapped angel who teaches the children at the Refuge and is both the angels' historian and librarian (read their story in Angels' Flight: "Angels' Dance", 0.4). She's also been giving Elena lessons in protocol.
The Legion is… …a repository of power that woke during the battle in Archangel's Legion. They are powerful with wings like bats. They are led by the Primary.
Giorgio and his cattle Giorgio was once a renowned physician. Brooke is the one who complained. Leisel, Marie May knows "Janni", Penelope, and Laura are the rest of Giorgio's stock.
Dr. Shamar is the vet performing the necropsy. Tony Rocco runs an Italian restaurant. Coby is his son. Nic is the doorman at Ash's apartment building. Carl is a nurse at Banli House, a medical and psychiatric facility. Bill Smith is a vampire under contract who thinks he found a loophole. Maeve is the vampire architect tasked with converting the building into a home for the Legion. Silvan is a vampire who dwells in the bayou in Nimra's territory.
The vampire leaders in New York Anais and Severin are the worst offenders.
Cattle are humans who choose to be "kept" by vampires. Vampires are made by the archangels after undergoing lots of testing. Part of the deal is a one hundred-year contract of servitude. Umber is a new drug hitting the streets. Gilded lilies are vampires who are old, wealthy, and bored, so bored that they seek out new sins.
Wildfire, born of the Cascade, is a new angelic gift Raphael now has that he can use with his angelfire. Club Masque is an exclusive and dangerous nightclub for the vampire upper class. Rupert and Lacey are a sweet couple. Flynn and Benita Ko, a nasty sadist, are a couple and work at Club Masque. Adele, who owns the club, is pushing her luck. Louis is a bouncer at Hinge. Khalil is a very dark vampire. Blood-for-Less is the blood café where Ellie has an interest.
Felicity Johnson is a woman with many friends, including Aaliyah, Carys, and Sina. Marta and Bridget are more friends. Taffy is Felicity's cat. Seth is a student and works as the building super. Lilly Ying doesn't want her parents to suffer.
The Cover and Title The cover is a determined Ashwini in her black leathers and a tight black T, one hand fisted on her hip and the other holding a gun pointed at the ground. It's the city at night, fat flakes of snow falling, steam rising from a grate, and Janvier in his leather jacket and jeans, holding a helmet as he half sits on his red motorcycle, waiting for Ash. The rest of the background is a streetlight shining behind Ash, bridge supports behind Janvier, and a windowed building at the very back.
The title is about Ashwini, Janvier — and Naasir, for they are the Archangel's Shadows. ...more
Second in the Straton Family historical western romance series and revolving around the Straton family. The couple focus is on Chandos and Courtney'sSecond in the Straton Family historical western romance series and revolving around the Straton family. The couple focus is on Chandos and Courtney's daughter, Casey, and Damian. It's 1892 in Texas.
My Take How very disappointing. I expected so much more from Lindsey, but most of the story was tell with very little show. I was expecting a story more like A Heart So Wild, 1, in which Lindsey grabbed hold of me and pulled me in. This one? Well, I wanted to read more about Chandos and Courtney, find out how their lives turned out. They've got their HEA even if Chandos finds it boring. As for Casey and Damian, it is a cute read, and I do love a primary protagonist who will not accept second place — yay, Casey! As for love, well, there's that lack of show again 'cause I sure didn't feel it. I didn't feel much at all, really.
There were a number of places where I expected Lindsey to wring out that tension. Then I was expecting to read more about Casey's affection for Old Sam. Casey was all I expected in a Chandos-Courtney offspring — feisty, confident, and good with a gun. I liked her. She was TALENTED and, lol, spunky. I want her on my side.
Chandos, however, was not very believable. I liked that he was willing to give his daughter some space, but his insistence that she was too young…how old was he again when he first rode onto Fletcher Straton land? Then there's that firm expectation that she should up and get married? No. Of course, if she isn't old enough, ahem, to run the ranch, how can she be old enough to get married and start poppin' out kids? *eye roll* Hypocrite much? I do appreciate that Chandos rides out to keep an eye on her, and lets her roll her own way. Which is another lost area for tension.
Lindsey starts out a tiny bit slow as she sets the character of the characters and puts them in motion to encounter each other. It is a trope how they meet, but Lindsey twists it nicely and makes it fun. There are a couple of other tropes that she doesn't twist. They are minor and don't impinge much on the story. There were, however, a couple of tropes that did drive me nuts: Damian being unable to speak about his feelings and Casey running off every chance she gets. Lindsey didn't even try to put a twist on these. If she'd at least have given them some emotion, some show, had her characters agonize about what to do, it might have made a difference. Instead it brings the story down.
What was with Damian's temper? There was one mention that he used to bop kids in the nose when he was young, and his dad had a stern talking to with him, but otherwise nothing. He comes across as a cipher. Rigid, unyielding about his clothes. He seemed to be an intelligent man — and Lindsey TOLD us through his ignorance of camping and riding that he was a dude — but how can he possibly imagine that his eastern clothes will function well in the west? How does he not think that blending in is a better idea? Nor do I understand why he erupts so easily over everything.
It's misinterpretation and a good lesson in why it is so important to communicate clearly. The conflict between Casey and Chandos isn't the only misinterpretation when Damian ends up owing his life over and over again to a young kid he assumes is a bragging cowboy.
"'How dare you be a girl?''I don't think I had much choice in the matter.'"
We do find out that Fletcher died about a year ago, and that Sawtooth is currently in charge of the ranch. I'm surprised he wouldn't be willing to back Casey up. But what happened to Maggie? Not even a mention.
The Story The fate of Fletcher's Bar M Ranch is in question, and Sawtooth has been, temporarily, managing it since Fletcher's death. It's Chandos' attitude that sends Casey out. It's a challenge, and she'll prove she's ready. She'll make her father eat his words!
Damian has his own quest. One of vengeance against his father's killers.
He's destined to keep gettin' in K.C.'s way, although he does have a few surprises for K.C.
The Characters Casey, a.k.a., Kid or K.C., is Chandos and Courtney's seventeen-year-old daughter, and she's feeling her oats. Old Sam is the colt Casey raised and trained from age twelve. Tyler is Casey's older (by one year) brother, who is going to be a lawyer; Dillon is fourteen. Fletcher Straton was Chandos' father and the kids' grandfather. He owned the Bar M Ranch. Chandos and Courtney have been running the K.C. Ranch for years (read their story in A Heart So Wild). Sawtooth was the foreman for the Bar M Ranch before he retired. Dr. Edward Harte is still alive but retired.
Damian Rutledge III, heir to Rutledge Imports, is a know-it-all Eastern dude with absolutely no clue about the wild west. Winnifred, the heir to C.W. & L. Company was the socialite to whom he was engaged. Damian II was our Damian's father. Henry Curruthers was Rutledge Import's accountant.
Out West The fancy (and chatty) Luella Miller of Chicago is trying to get to Fort Worth. Billybob and Vince are the hapless stagecoach robbers. The Dalton gang includes Robert, Emmett, and Grattan Dalton (former U.S. marshals), Bill Doolin, Charley Pierce, and "Bitter Creek" George Newcomb. Mr. Melton is a horse trader. Judge Roy Bean is quite arbitrary and more interested in a buck than justice.
"If one of his pals shoots someone, he figures out a way to acquit them. In one of his … decisions, he ruled that the victim shouldn't have gotten in front of the gun his friend was firing."
Culthers Jack Curruthers is running for mayor. Jed and Jethro Paisley, Elroy Bencher, Candiman, and Mason are no-good gunmen who work for Curruthers. Larissa Amery is the schoolmarm who doesn't like Curruthers.
Sanderson John Wescot is a dentist. Bucky Alcott is a range cook for a local ranch. Pete Drummond is a tenderfoot who now sells firearms.
Chicago Milton Lewis' brother is a mine of information. Margaret Henslowe is a rich widow.
New York City Sergeant Johnson was with the Twenty-first Precinct in New York.
The Cover and Title The cover is a soft gradation from a cold yellow at the bottom up to a soft orange at top. The author's name is the largest text and at the top while the title is smaller and at the bottom. Both use a gold embossed font in all-caps. Separating the text is a deep red, embossed and stylized sun.
The title might be better as "all I need is some show, instead we've got All I Need is You. Maybe Lindsey needs us to accept this story as is....more
First in The Pride romance series and revolving around the Jordan family. The couple focus is on Megan Kimble and Todd Jordan.
This was a free book froFirst in The Pride romance series and revolving around the Jordan family. The couple focus is on Megan Kimble and Todd Jordan.
This was a free book from the author and was nominated for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Romance. I can't imagine why.
My Take Finding Pride is a cute and cozy romance set in the lovely, warm, welcoming town of Pride. I know the town is wonderful because Sanders told me. Yep, this story is almost all tell. If you don't mind a lack of character or depth, then you'll enjoy reading this sweet romance in which we get several happy endings and the set-up for another book in the series.
The major conflict is two-fold: Megan's abusive ex-husband and her inability to tolerate touch. Unfortunately, Sanders went overboard on the abusive ex and barely touched Megan's intolerance for touch. Her fear of touch gets, well, touched on at the beginning and is swiftly overcome. Especially at that moment when I got jerked aback when Megan is annoyed that Todd is treating her so gently. Huh? There is no buildup of tension until the very end when we're suddenly hit over the hand with an anvil. Sanders does nothing to build drama for the penultimate scene. It's more of a la-la-la read as you coast along wondering when you'll finish the story.
There's another opportunity for tension when Iian is interested in Megan, but it goes nowhere. God forbid your heart should race. She gets annoyed that Todd seems to be taking over her life, and he does get a bit stalkerish in his looming over Megan, including some very controlling moments that I expected, falsely, that Sanders would use to create minor conflict. Sanders drops in, at last, a brief note about her father's treatment of his wife. And it's another instance lost when tension and drama could have come in.
The romance is very insta on Todd's part and isn't written well. Those jealous moments seem lame. Like an attempt at tension. Too bad all it induced was an eye roll.
It reads as if Sanders filled in the outline but forgot to develop the issues, to bring any depth, drama, or tension. There's no development of the romance. Near as I can remember, the only bit of show Sanders brought to this was the welcoming friendliness and understanding of the townspeople. And please remember that 's makes something possessive. A mere s added on to the end of most words or names will make it plural.
The Story It's a tragic time in Megan Kimble's life when her beloved brother dies. A time when Megan regrets decisions made for the wrong reasons.
Now she has a chance to start over, if only she can find herself.
The Characters Megan Kimble is a whiz at marketing with a desire for a new life. Matt is the brother who raised her when their parents died. Derek is the abusive ex. Boomer is the cat who wanders in.
The Jordans are Megan's nearest neighbors. Todd Jordan is the oldest brother in the family and has a successful shipping business, Jordan Shipping, in which Matt has an interest. Sara was Todd's first wife. His brother, Iian, became deaf in an accident and is the chef in the family restaurant, The Golden Oar, while their sister, Lacey, runs it. Chester is a black shire horse. Bernard is Lacey's yellow Lab.
The village of Pride Father Michael presided over the funeral service. Patty O'Neil runs the local grocery store. The Henderson sisters — Hanna, Hester, and Henrietta — work at the library. Betty Thomas is a widow, bakes the best cakes, and is the worst gossip in town. Mr. Kent owns the hardware store. Allison Adams runs her mother's antique shop and paints in the dull moments. Seems there are a lot of dull moments.Dr. Stevens is the about-to-retire town doctor; Dr. Aaron Stevens is his son and will be taking over his practice and the Bells' house. Mary is the vet. The Bells live down the road from Megan. Nancy Weber is looking for work. Robert Brogan is the sheriff.
Mr. and Mrs. Buckner with their children, Brian and Bobby, are Megan's first B&B guests.
Mark is a private investigator Todd knows in New York City. Ric Derby owns the Blue Spot Galleries and has worked with Megan in the past. Mrs. Barns is his assistant. Brad Stone is a photographer. Mr. Martin was Megan's boss; I think he's also Jose.
The Cover and Title Megan and Todd are sitting in a golden field and about to kiss under a golden sunset. It's a gorgeous and peaceful moment, a reflection of Megan and Todd's lives.
The title is Megan's discovery, Finding Pride, in the town and herself....more
Eighth in the Her Royal Spyness historical mystery series and revolving around Lady Georgiana Rannoch as she sails off to America.
My Take Georgie's mumEighth in the Her Royal Spyness historical mystery series and revolving around Lady Georgiana Rannoch as she sails off to America.
My Take Georgie's mummy drives me bats. She's so totally clueless when it comes to her own daughter. She's got money up the wazoo but never does anything to help her penniless daughter. Well, except to point out that her daughter could simply take up with a rich man, if only she weren't so huge and homely… So it was a total treat to read about Mummy actually paying for a wardrobe for Georgie. It's also too funny to read how very snobbish Mummy is as she puts down most of the people around her for being so very common. Her, the daughter of a Cockney who starred on the stage.
I do hope she marries Max and that Max loses everything. Nothing against Max, I just want Mummy to be incredibly poor and for Georgie to have money, put that shoe on the other foot.
Aboard ship, it's more of the snobbish and nosy. You'll adore the comment Georgie throws back at Mrs. Simpson, lol. Meoww. Oh, lord, then there's Lady Porter's question of the captain, asking if "ships like this sink very often". I loved the captain's response *more laughter*. Oh, boy, this is followed by Jerry's snide comment.
Poor Georgie. Every time she's about to get some, Queenie shows up to save the day. Then there's the day when Queenie quits. Yeahh! She irritates the heck out of me, although Georgie drives me even more nuts that she keeps her. Then again, I can understand why.
Ya know, Bowen never does explain how the bracelet gets returned. Why doesn't Georgie tell Darcy about that moment of total smoothness when Algie introduces himself to Goldman?
I must say, Belinda certainly surprises me. I thought she had her mind set on one thing, turns out it was the other thing, lol.
Darcy is such a sweetheart. Understanding, loving, and so anxious to make enough money to support the woman he loves the way he thinks she needs to live. It's Darcy who keeps bringing me back. I'm curious to know just what he really does, who he works for. And I'm curious to find out if he ever does make that fortune he wants.
It's a whirlwind trip for Georgie. Wined and dined by movie stars, a fit of jealousy on Darcy's part, murder, mayhem, tension between the stars, and it seems as if everyone on board the ship shows up in Hollywood. Even Darcy gets in on the act.
The Story It's Mummy again. Desperate for discrete companionship on her necessary journey to the depths of America, she arrives with a flourish at Kingsdowne Place (see Heirs and Graces, 7) and drags Georgie off with her.
For once, Mummy forks out for clothes for Georgie, but of course, for purely selfish reasons. It does work well for Georgie and is certainly good for her ego as she's romanced by famous actors in Hollywood while Mummy fills her time with making a terrible movie. Meanwhile cat burglars and murderers are afoot.
The Characters Lady Georgiana Rannoch is the daughter of a duke, a cousin to His Majesty King George and to the Princess Elizabeth, and too poor for words. Queenie Hepplewhite is her very inept maid. Mummy is Claire Daniels, a leading lady on the stage who would have stayed married to the duke except it required she live at Castle Rannoch. Instead she bolted, and she hasn't stopped. She's taken up with one man after another and the latest, Max von Stroheim, wants to marry her. Homer Clegg, a Texan, is her current husband whom she hasn't seen in ages. Granddad, Claire's dad, is a retired London bobby. Claudette is Claire's maid.
Darcy O'Mara is the heir to an impoverished Irish estate, in love with Georgie, and spends most of his time jaunting about the world on secret missions.
Aboard the Berengaria sailing for America Captain Harrison is in command. The passengers include Sir Digby and Lady Porter, Montmorency "Tubby" Halliday is a reporter for the Daily Mail, Princess Promila, Mrs. Simpson (yes, that one), and the klutzy Algie Broxley-Foggett sent to America to become a man.
Cyrus Goldman is the impresario of Golden Pictures, and Stella Brightwell is his mistress and star. Stella was also part of a talented twin act — Gertie and Flossie Oldham. Flossie became Bella Brightwell. Helen Goldman is Cy's wife and lives in New York. Mostly. Juan de Castillo is a member of an impoverished Spanish family. Freddie is Stella's ex. Ronnie Green is Goldman's assistant. Maria is his housekeeper at Alhambra II, the tacky castle Cy is building up in the hills. Jimmy is the gatekeeper.
In Hollywood Barbara Kindell, a gossip columnist, tries to slip inside Georgie's guard. Charlie Chaplin really likes Georgie, all that lovely innocence, unspoiled, and long legs. Dolores Hanford and her husband and friends are some of the tacky nouveau riche. Craig Hart is an international star with an interest in Georgie and a need to get married.
Errol Flynn, Bing Crosby, and Norma Shearer get a mention.
Sheriff Billings is with Ventura County Sheriff's Department. Deputy Hanson will guard the suspect.
Belinda Warburton-Stoke, a.k.a., Mademoiselle Dubois, is Georgie's friend. And no longer welcome at home. Wanda will play the part of Mummy in Reno while Mummy goes off to act.
Kingsdowne Place The dowager Duchess Edwina Eynsford and her half dotty sisters, Princess Charlotte Orlovski (she's into spiritualism) and the wrongly named Virginia, are having tea with Georgie. Edie is the head housemaid.
The Cover and Title The cover is the woodcut design that has appeared on earlier books. This time it's a cruise ship in the background with Georgie in a green suit holding onto her cloche and leaning into a stiff wind. There's a man in a fedora and cream trench coat behind her and a woman with dark hair wearing what looks like a cross between a poke bonnet and a shepherdess hat. The trademark burgundy ribbon with a picot trim spans the lower part of the cover with the title and series information on it.
The title is all about Georgie, for she is the new Queen of Hearts....more
Second in the One-Eyed Jacks romantic suspense series, and it's been 18 months since Killing Time, 1, when Jess Albert first met Ty Brown.
You may waSecond in the One-Eyed Jacks romantic suspense series, and it's been 18 months since Killing Time, 1, when Jess Albert first met Ty Brown.
You may want to re-read Killing Time before reading The Way Home. I spent a good chunk of the start trying to reconcile events in this story with those in Killing Time, even though Gerard does include references to it. You don't have to have read it initially, but a re-read helps if you have. If you're interested, there is a chronological listing of the three series that tie into each other on my website.
My Take Wow, what a twist. The end does turn out the way you expect, but Gerard maintains some suspense to the end. It's all quite convenient.
That said, Gerard will make you ache and want to cry. To wonder at how the greed for power will drive men to commit such horrors. The Way Home switches between terrors: the horrible and the fearful. One is a terror of torture and death as Jeff's memories come back while the other is the more welcome kind. That of a woman wondering about love, falling in love, and not wanting to love another man who loved the danger of being a warrior.
Part of me hated the chapters that took me back to Jeff's situation even though I desperately wanted to read of his escape. For both Jeff and Jess, it's a time of introspection, realizing what they really meant to each other.
"And there she would be alone, surrounded by family and friends."
Rabia and her father are the best examples of a Muslim. The kind who truly follows the dictates of their religion. Their beliefs and their moral code cause them to risk their lives to aid a soldier being sought by the Taliban.
It's Jess and Ty's story that is the standard romance with Jeff being the twist. Have faith, and you'll enjoy a happily ever after. The Story Ty tried. He tried hard but can't forget Jess Albert, her trust. And he goes back to Lake Kabetogama, to woo the woman he can't forget.
Fate intervenes, however, and Ty grieves over the woman he's losing.
It'll be weeks before they finally confess to each other, brutally honest, finally friends.
The Characters Jess Albert, a former ER trauma nurse, runs the Crossroads General Store in Lake Kabetogama where the men in Killing Time picked up what they needed to stage a rescue. Bear is her twelve-week-old Labrador. J.R. is the gung-ho husband who lived for Special Ops and was killed in Afghanistan three-and-a-half years ago.
Tyler Brown was one of the warriors in Killing Time. He runs an air cargo business in Key West. Maya is the woman with whom Ty tried to forget Jess.
Medical Sergeant Jeffrey Albert was thought to have been killed in an IED attack. Rabia is a Muslim woman in Afghanistan who adheres, as does her father, to the truth of the Qu'ran. She's also quite active in the women's movement, teaching at a girls school. A possibility at last now that the Taliban have fallen from power. Too bad they haven't all died out! Her father is Wakdar Kahn Kakar. He is the malik, village representative who speaks for the people to the village council, the shura. Rabia's husband, Rahim, was a policeman in Kabul before he was killed four years ago by a Taliban.
The men in Jeff's unit Fisher, Pat, Simmons, and Blanco were part of Jeff's unit.
A patrol in Khandahar Private First Class Danny Gleason is just putting in his time. Lieutenant Alex Court is in command. Sergeant Winters who will relieve Gleason.
International Threat Analysis and Prevention is… …based in Langley and is Mike Brown's baby (Mike's wife is Eva; he's Ty's brother). It's a front for a covert rapid-response team the DoD wants kept quiet. Peter Davis is the operations manager. Jamie Cooper, Bobbie Taggart, Brett Carlyle, Enrique Santos, and Josh Waldrop are all part of the team. Nate Black and his team will be participating. The BOIs include Johnny Reed, Gabe Jones, Rafe Mendoza, Luke Coulter, and Joe Green. Crystal Reed and B.J. Mendoza will be running the air show from Kandahar AFB.
Dr. Jasper is the doctor tending to Jeff.
Lake Kabetogama (Kabby) Kayla Burke is Jess' summer help. Blake, Lane, and Hailey come in as needed. Boots England is a flirt whose activities don't worry his wife, Marcia. Shelly and Darrin Lutzy are Jess' friends and own Whispering Pines Resort. Albert's Guide Service is owned by Brad Albert, J.R.'s possessive brother. Mr. Latimer was the football coach who got J.R. enthusiastic about the military. Wade Cummings flies fishermen to fishing camps.
The Cover and Title The cover is gorgeous in that snow-filled night as a man walks up the snowy driveway toward a well-lit log cabin nestled amongst the trees. A Christmas wreath adorns the porch overhang and an American flag flies in a salute.
The title is how Ty feels about Jess, that she's shown him The Way Home. It's not exclusive to Ty, though....more
Fourth in the Alpha & Omega paranormal romance series and revolving around Charles and Anna and Charles' father, the Marrok. Wolfshifters all andFourth in the Alpha & Omega paranormal romance series and revolving around Charles and Anna and Charles' father, the Marrok. Wolfshifters all and based in Montana. The couple focus is on Charles and Anna as he fulfills his own wish for Anna with a trip to Arizona. If you're interested, there is a chronological listing of the Alpha & Omega books on my website.
My Take I suspect Briggs is building the base for the next set of dramas for the Alpha & Omega and Mercy Thompson series. The fae lord mentioned in the prologue — I suspect his, um, actions are merely a precursor for what is to come — and that's terrifying. More terrifying is realizing what the favorite prey is of the fae.Then the attack on Chelsea and all the spillage of past cases involving children. And wondering what this escalation from the fae is about after Bran has spent months hammering out a treaty with the Gray Lords. I do wonder if the Gray Lords know about this Doll Collector unleashed on the human world.(I'd sure love to know why he chose his current habitation if that "evil queen" is right about it being his choice.)
Getting into Dead Heat, Briggs builds that tension well as Chelsea's headache worsens. Briggs has quickly painted enough of Chelsea's character that the thoughts she's having don't seem like her at all, and it adds to that tension, the fear building.
"Good-bye tears your heart out and leaves it a feast for carrion birds who happen by."
We learn Anna's strengths in this. It's a quiet learning for us as the dramas unfold. Maggie is a former lover, and she isn't shy about giving Anna a bad time out of her own jealousy. Anna also has to worry about Hosteen who hates Chelsea so much that Anna worries he'll do something to her. And, oh man, it is so much fun to read how frustrated Anna makes Hosteen feel, lol. Omegas are so rare, and Hosteen has no idea.
Briggs is giving the wolves some allies. Agent Fisher is one they bonded with in Fair Game, and for once, the Cantrip agents aren't jerks!
It's actually a lovely story as we enjoy the bond that Charles and Anna share. The inner Charles that Anna helps us to understand — a very clever gambit by Briggs that reveals background information without being an info dump!
"He was her warm safe place in the storm of the world, and she…she thought that she was his home."
We learn from Charles as well as he muses on loss. The loss of friends and the passage of time for him versus those who are humans. If it's worth befriending humans when it only leads to grief. It's a meditation and a case that helps Charles and Anna come to know each other even better.
The Story It's a delicate topic. Children. Female werewolves can't carry a baby to term if they shift at the full moon. Yet Anna wants to try. An attempt that Charles refuses for he lost his mother when he was born. Anna means too much to Charles for him to chance losing her.
It's another type of loss that pulls at Charles to head to Arizona where he encounters yet more losses.
And an insidious fae attack that leaves a family grieving.
The Characters The nearly 200-year-old Charles Cornick is the younger son of the Marrok, his Enforcer, and the investment manager for the pack. Brother Wolf is his other side. Anna is his beloved mate, an omega wolf (see On the Prowl: "Alpha & Omega", Alpha & Omega, 0.5 & Mercy Thompson, 2.5). Anna's father is a lawyer. Jinx is her current horse, the one Charles thinks needs to be upgraded.
Samuel is his child-obsessed brother and a medical doctor. Ariana, a fae, is the mate he lost so long ago (Shifting Shadows: "Silver") and found again. The Marrok is Bran Cornick, the ruler of all the werewolves in North America.
Arizona The eighty-two-year-old Joseph Sani was once Charles' best friend in the world. And still the best horseman Charles has ever seen. Maggie is the woman Joseph married, and she is still in love with Charles. Ernestine and Libby are Maggie's great-nieces. Chelsea Sani is married to Joseph and Maggie's son, Hashké Gaajii Sani, a.k.a., Kage, and they have two children together: Michael and Mackie. Max is Chelsea's son from a previous marriage, and Kage treats him as his own. I do adore Max. He's so levelheaded! Kage works with the family's breeding farm while Chelsea is part-owner of a company that trains people. Ánáli Hastiin is Hosteen, the children's Navajo great-grandfather, Joseph's father, Alpha of the Salt River Pack, and a breeder of fine Arabian horses. He has some strong feelings about witches and hates Chelsea with a passion.
The horses Hephzibah is a witch who only looks like a horse. Portabella and Merrylegs are some of the horses Anna tries. Morales is a stable hand, Mateo is a senior trainer, and Teri is an apprentice.
Wade Koch is Hosteen's second in the pack.
Sunshine Fun Day Care is… …attended by Mackie and Michael. Miss Baird is Mackie's teacher. Ms. Newman is Michael's teacher this year, a very regimented teacher who has got the hots for Charles. Mrs. Glover had been Mackie's teacher until she killed herself. Farrah Edison is the principal. Amethyst Miller is one of Mackie's classmates. Sara and Brent Miller are in the middle of a nasty divorce. Sean McDermit is a janitor at the day care.
Special Agent Leslie Fisher is with the FBI Violent Crimes Unit and worked with Charles and Anna in Fair Game. Jude is her huge linebacker of a husband who now teaches elementary school. Hemmings.
Cantrip is… …a mixed bag. Supposedly, it's a government agency to aid the supernatural. In truth, it's run by men bigoted against the supernatural. Agents Jim Marsden and Hollister Leeds, a geek boy and a changeling, show up at the day care.
Possible fae victims Professor Alexander Vaughn teaches higher mathematics at Arizona State. He's one of the children who escaped some years ago. Officer Darin "Dare" Richards of the Phoenix PD is Alex's partner. Mary Lu Vaughn is Alex's mother, and she believed every word of Alex's story. Sid was Alex's father and his great-grandfather, Archie, was a werewolf who lived with the Vaughns as the family dog.
Judy White is a foster mother to Blair. A young girl Brother Wolf believes has a part to play. Helen's parents and counselor believe she is possessed. Iris is five and her father, Trent Carter, is overwhelmed. Kathryn Jamison is divorced again, and looking. She's also a sidhe-seer with a wearden, a tree-folk fae, living in her garden.
Senator Beauclaire was a Prince of the Gray Lords whose actions in Fair Game caused the fae to retreat to their reservations and cut themselves off from the rest of the world. The Doll Collector is the fae sent out into the human world to wreak havoc.
A fetch is a changeling that isn't a living thing. Ooh, seems that the rest of the world has caught onto the truth that those "jails" the fae were behind are actually their fortresses.
The Cover and Title The cover is a soft surprise with the so-very young-looking Charles, his black tank-top-clad back up against the black bustier-clad Anna. Her red hair is pulled back to reveal the black collar around her neck, her long chandelier-style earrings dangling. Charles' wolf gleams from his eyes, his hair in multiple braids, a leather armband around his bicep. The background is hazy, a starry Texas night of cacti, mesas, and a howling wolf.
The title plays off the horses and racing, for it's a Dead Heat in this race to save the children....more
Second in the Alex Kennedy erotic romance series and revolving around a very bad boy who swings both ways. The couple focus is on Alex Kennedy and OliSecond in the Alex Kennedy erotic romance series and revolving around a very bad boy who swings both ways. The couple focus is on Alex Kennedy and Olivia Mackey and is set in Pennsylvania.
My Take I was anxious to read this story after having read Hart's Vanilla. I wanted to know how Alex hooked up with Olivia. And hear more about all those innuendos that Alex was tossing around in Vanilla, an *ahem with a grin*.
It's insta-love and yet not. They're attracted to each other, but Olivia is wary and Alex is scared but serious. I love how their friendship and then their sexual relationship develops. Dang, Hart is good.
I missed that Olivia was still so much in love with Patrick. I wish Hart had been a touch more obvious there. I suspect part of my distraction was what a jerk Patrick was being.
I adore Olivia. She's upfront about almost everything — there's just that one thing she needs to come clean about. She's comfortable with herself, as is Alex. A good message for anyone.
Olivia is upfront about her religious and color issues, and Hart writes this well enough to make me blush for how rude people can be. I do love that her adoptive family adored her so much. I would hope that every other adopted child out there would have a family as accepting as the Mackeys. Yeah, they have their issues, but they're family issues. Lol, that scene in which Olivia describes discovering she was "black" was hysterical — in both good and bad ways. I can't help loving that I never get a sense of race in Olivia's interactions with her family. Although, now that her mother has embraced Orthodox Judaism, she sounds like she's turned into a jerk herself, too concerned about her own wants and desires than her daughter's.
Wow. Alex is a major jerkwad, but he is honest. You want to hate him for being too honest, too cruel, but you can't help wanting him from Hart's description. Hart did confuse me on his wealth. If he's this rich, why is he slumming it? Moving from couch to couch over the past few years? I inferred (a lot) that maybe Alex was still affected by his family's social level and that maybe this was why he was so low-key? I wish that Hart had slipped in a reference to why he lives this way. Then there are his unexpected responses. They're not what you (or Olivia!) expect from a guy, and it throws you off just before you melt.
Being so damned pretty can be a disadvantage, "for one thing, everyone assumes you already have plans when you don't, so hardly anybody ever invites you places."
Oh, man. Olivia lives in an old firehouse. I am so jealous!
It's a pivotal few months in Olivia's life as she comes to see the truth about Patrick. It's not pretty. I can't believe Patrick can't see what he's doing? He's such a hypocrite. Why doesn't Teddy see this?
Olivia's camera is such a useful symbol in this that Hart uses in multiple ways: voyeur, a shield against uncomfortable feelings, a permission to intrude, realizing a truth, intention, combined with all that Olivia reads in Alex's eyes.
There are tense moments that I think Hart avoids. I don't know if her intention was to keep the story level, to stay within a page count, or if she simply didn't want to delve into those emotions. I also want to know who the shadowy "lady" is who is mentioned a few times. Why does Olivia go off on Alex drinking and smoking a joint? I can understand her wondering, but not to the extent of the excessive reaction she has. That last scene in which Olivia is so angry about Anne and Jamie. One, I'd be angrier about Alex's running off to play than what Olivia learns about Anne and Jamie. And Cam. But then there's her sudden flip when Alex tells her she doesn't have to choose. I don't get that. It's too quick, too easy.
The meet-the-parents events are…enlightening. Alex's father makes Olivia's mother look great.
This is fun, introspective, and a great read.
The Story It's Patrick's Christmas party where Olivia first sees Alex, but she's had her experiences with gay boys. Never again. Except Patrick laying down his law gets Olivia irritated, well, that and the fact that Alex has a very nice butt.
The Characters Olivia Mackey is a photographer struggling to build her graphic design business, supplementing her start with taking school and team photos and Foto Folks. Half-black, half-white, Olivia was adopted by a white half-Jewish, half-Catholic family and is torn by too many competing cultures. Pippa is her unexpected daughter, but her "real" parents are the adorable Devon and slightly suspicious Steven.
Her father is Catholic (his new wife is Marjorie with her own daughters, Cindy and Stacy), her mother is Jewish (her new husband is Chaim Kaplan) and recently embraced the stricter forms of Judaism, and Bert is one of Olivia's two brothers.
Alex Kennedy is H.O.T. and cruel. Since he sold his company in Tempted, 1, he's been working as an international consultant. Jamie Kinney is Alex's best friend; Anne is his wife. They have a son, Cam, who looks a lot like Alex. We first met them in "Tempted and Everything Changes", 1.5. Claire is Anne's sister, and she's married to Dean. Penny is their daughter. His family includes his parents, the vicious, abusive John and Jolene, and his sisters: Tanya, Johanna, and Denise and their assorted children who include Trina.
Sarah Roth is Olivia's best friend, honest, understanding, and unwavering. Jack is the man Sarah is caught up in, but he comes with some unique issues.
Patrick McDonald was her fiancée back in college. Before he came out two weeks before their wedding. Now he works for Quinto and Bates as a lawyer. Sean is Patrick's brother with an interest in Olivia. Teddy has been Patrick's partner for some time. Teddy has a sister Susan with a teenage son, Jayden.
Jerald is another of Patrick's friends and has done modeling for Olivia. Nadia is Patrick's neighbor, and Carlos is her boyfriend. Evan was the man on his knees at Patrick's party.
Scott Church is a famous photographer who does workshops. Sarene is his assistant.
Desiree Johnson was the first black girl Olivia met. Miss Dippold was her second grade teacher. Father Matthew is the priest at St. Paul's. Rabbi Levin is with Congregation Ahavat Shalom and has a nice attitude about blending the secular and the religious. Maybe he could talk to her mom!Gretchen is a Mennonite who wants a boudoir picture like her sister Helen's. Mindy is one of Olivia's coworkers at Foto Flash. Lyle Cullen runs a camera shop. Leah is a friend of Pippa's, and her dads are Chad Kavanagh and Luke. Elle Stewart is his sister and Jewish; Dan is her husband. Dotty is Dan's mother. Guests at Passover include Marcy and Wayne; Elle's mother; and, Chad, Luke, and Leah.
Tovi and Reuben are friends of her mother and her husband.
The Cover and Title The cover background is a rumpled white sheet with Olivia lying upside down and wearing white boyshorts and Alex's white shirt, strategically buttoned. The naked Alex is visible from the middle of his back. He's lying vertically and opposite Olivia. It's sweet with their heads together, Alex kissing Olivia's neck, her head tilted and her multitude of braids in a tangle over his arm.
The title is what happens to both Alex and Olivia. They strip down and get Naked with who they are as individuals and as a couple....more
Vanilla is an in-depth look into the mind of a Domme and how her choices affect how people around her look at her. It's a story with a loose connectioVanilla is an in-depth look into the mind of a Domme and how her choices affect how people around her look at her. It's a story with a loose connection to Morningstar Mocha which has appeared in other Hart stories and includes Hart's Alex Kennedy.
This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Mira in exchange for an honest review.
My Take It's an exploration of Elise's life, her thoughts, and her desires, which makes it perfect that Hart tells this story from Elise's point-of-view. Her inner thoughts predominate in this about her sex life, her family life, a touch of her working life, and what makes her happy. I absolutely adore how much she cares about William, about her family. Most of whom don't deserve her carefulness. Whatever else Elise is, she is well-rounded in her interests nor is she afraid to own what she likes.
The one problem Elise does have is the insecurity that surrounds her from a love affair gone bad. She does make me nuts with her need to punish herself over George. Girl, after all this time, you're still letting him control you? Why would anyone want to be with someone like him? Hmmm, maybe Hart will do a story about "George" getting his comeuppance, lol.
Vanilla explores what Elise likes about the world of D/s against the beliefs held by incredibly rude norms. Elise makes some very excellent points in this, including:
"'…think of how you'd feel if someone started grilling you on what you like to do in the bedroom and then saying something like "weird" or "why would you do that"?'"
I love that this story is kind. I know, it's a weird word to use, not what one would expect to hear in a story about Dominance and submission. It's a great perspective to read about as it helps to make me understand that there are as many (more, really) flavors of sex than ice cream. That it's about what you like. What makes you happy. It's what Elise is about, making both parties happy.
The central conflict of Vanilla is the point Elise has reached in her life, a point where she wants more than what she's been getting. More than an impersonal meet-up that satisfies only one part of her life.
It's this need and insecurity of Elise's that makes her relationship with Niall a conundrum. He's amazing in so many ways; he's so incredibly observant. The way he plans their time together…sigh… I agree that his reaction that night in Baltimore was so wrong, part of his own rude beliefs. They both need to do some communicating and get past their own hangups. God knows the sex is great! And not just with Niall.
I do wonder about Esteban. He sounds so gorgeous, and then there are those scenes which, okay, I can understand that he has needs that need to be met — or not — but I can't help but feel he's wrong in the way he goes about it. Partly it's because he seems to be such a romantic with Elise.
I do love this comment Esteban makes: "'You needed me to kiss you,' Esteban said. 'When you're hungry, you should be fed.'"
I love Elise's attitude about the modeling. And she's right. It's not something personal. It's a job that happens to be one she enjoys.
Elise's family. Well. If my in-laws treated me like Elise's mother and her older sister treat Susan? Nope, ya wouldn't find the body parts. I do like Elise's responses, eventually, to them. Exactly what they need, lol. Then her mother's lies…man…
Evan desperately needs to get a clue. A husband should support his wife (and vice versa) when it comes to the in-laws. Of course, it is consistent with how insensitive and clueless Susan, Jill, and Mrs. Klein are. Makes ya wonder if that's a positive about D/s, that it makes you more aware of the people around you, how they feel. God knows, the other three women in the family are amazingly insensitive.
I liked Elise for her stance on herself, her preferences, but I adored Alex for his cheekiness. There's a mystery about Alex, and I definitely want to read more about him. If only to see if my guesses are accurate. I'm thinking, too, that Elise must be rather desperate if she imagines she can get a crush on a guy because he's wearing pink girl's underwear.
"Sometimes I like peanut butter on a sandwich. Sometimes I like a grilled cheese."
There's even more of a mystery about "George", and Hart plays this very well. I couldn't stop reading this story, as I had to know what that story was all about, and Hart kept dropping those hints and tidbits in a winding trail throughout the story.
The Story She's marking time. She's working at a job she adores. She sits aside and shakes her head about her family. But she cries into her pillow at night. She humiliates herself.
And she's coming to realize what is missing.
The Characters Elise Klein has always liked to be on top. She also likes modeling in anything from vintage clothing to nothing at all. Work-wise, she's Alex's partner, handling the the paperwork. William is the almost-thirteen-year-old nephew whom Elise adores. Evan is her twin brother, and he's married to the unhappy and very rude Susan. Jill is their older sister whom I'd boot out of the family. Sam Peters was the mechanic to whom the Kleins always took their cars.
Niall Black works with Evan.
Esteban needs to be dominated. "George" is the man she loved too much.
Alex Kennedy is a wealthy investment planner who would prefer to not work, and he's married to Olivia, a photographer. Jamie is his best friend; Anne is the wife Jamie asked Alex to seduce in Tempted, 1.
Scott Church is a professional photographer who does photography seminars and prefers to shoot BDSM-themed portraits. Laura is Scott's assistant. Jack, Sarah's boyfriend, is one of his models. Sarah is Olivia's best friend. Alicia is Elise's best friend who moved to Texas; her bad affair is "Mr. Darcy". Jay is Alicia's new boyfriend. A picking-out-furniture one. Nhat is William's best friend.
The Slaughtered Lamb Cubby and his wife, Sonya, are the hosts at this munch. Eric is a local ER doc. Randi is a Domme interested in Niall.
The Cover and Title The background for the cover is soft folds of deep red with a swirl of soft-serve vanilla ice cream crowding into the forefront. The softness is petal-like, a whipped cream feel of a rose begging to be tasted.
The title is all about ice cream, about life. Sometimes you like this flavor and sometimes you want a change. Dark chocolate, mint, Vanilla....more
Tenth in the Play-by-Play romance series and revolving around sports teams in St. Louis, Missouri. The couple focus is on Dr. Aubry Ross and Tucker CaTenth in the Play-by-Play romance series and revolving around sports teams in St. Louis, Missouri. The couple focus is on Dr. Aubry Ross and Tucker Cassidy, a hot (in every way) pitcher.
My Take I had a hard time with this one. No, you perv, not that kind of hard time! It took awhile to get into the story: it seemed plasticky and stiff. Stop that! It was also full of tropes, although Burton did get in some nice twists.
I DO like that Burton portrays the women as career people. Smart with a sense of humor and a sense of honor. It's such a treat. Even better is that Burton has the women all getting on with each other as teasing, supportive friends. Oh, yeah, the guys too *grin*.
Burton's slick too in how she keeps adding on to the series, as she introduces new characters in the background who will move into a more prominent role somewhere down the line. She also keeps the old characters popping up. Not all of them, but enough to keep me informed about how past "friends" are doing *more grinning*.
In All Wound Up, Aubry is following her heart's desire of becoming an ER doctor, and her parents are supporting that choice. Yet it is a choice that Burton uses to present a conflicted clash between Aubry and her dad, who is also the owner of the Rivers.
"…I haven't yet reached the God complex phase of my medical career yet."
I suspect that part of my problem with this is that it's too fast and too easy. Sure, Aubry is kinda desperate for some fun, even if she does have to be talked into it while Tucker is too quick to become interested in Aubry. There's no real "work" in this romance. It doesn't actually get exciting until almost the end when Tucker is trying to work out the threat to his career. Their getting involved in the cooking was too easy too. I'd've liked to see at least one burnt meal!
Tucker's ideas of dates was great. Different and fun. I particularly enjoyed the cooking lesson. Practical, educational, and so tasty. It does make their dating an easier slide into intimacy with a real relationship as opposed to one based only on sex.
And there is a lot of sex in this. A couple spots even got me warm *eyebrow waggle*…*and a grin*…
Oh, brother. That Laura. What a loser! She's dating him for two months and that makes it long enough to move in??
There are a number of missed opportunities to make this more interesting. Some great conflict could have been introduced with the few mentions Aubry makes about men being disgusting pigs. She certainly has the family history for the comments, but Burton goes nowhere with this. It's all tell, and very little at that. That nasty bit of extortion at the end was an opportunity that slid right through too. Another good opportunity to churn up some tension, some drama, and it went down the drain. Then the make-up scene. Wooden and not even exciting enough to be a trope.
I get the part about sibling teasing. God knows my sisters and I and Mom do plenty of that, but Burton overdoes this to a point that I wanna smack someone. Nor does the trash talk amongst the team sound right. There's a stiffness here as well. Will you stop that!?
I have enjoyed most of this series. Shocking because I don't like sports. However. Burton wrote about the no-hitter in a way that got me excited. I felt as though I were there, a very nice bit of writing.
Oh, crack me up! I love those few paragraphs in which Marie wants Aubry to pass him off to her. Just for a quick spin, lol.
Tucker's parents sound like a treat. What parents are supposed to be like! I loved it when Grant told Leo he'd done well, that Leo's his kid…and the proud, happy grin it puts on Leo's face. Sigh.
Some other nice lessons in here include Tucker's comments to Aubry about how it's that second person that always gets results. I'd sure like to know if Aubry tries it out! The bitchfest the residents have at the bar was a nice touch as it provides an important lesson that everyone is pretty much in the same boat. It doesn't matter how brilliant, gorgeous, or talented you are, everyone has the same issues. The quick chat the boys have about knowing when you're in love was sweet.
"You never have to let me go, Daddy. You just have to give me the freedom to let me grow."
The Story It takes a hot and talented pitcher to pull Aubry out of her dating slump…and a few trips to the ER for Tucker Cassidy.
The Characters Dr. Aubry Ross is working her residency in the ER at the local hospital. Clyde and Helen Ross are her loving parents; he's the owner of the Rivers baseball team. Aubry loves her too-patient Aunt Farrah and despises her philandering Uncle Davis. She's not too happy with Uncle Oliver either, not since he attacked her career choice. I'd throw his own life choices back in his face!Jade is a cousin who's gotten engaged to Mark.
Tucker Cassidy is a baseball pitcher who signed on with the Rivers a year ago. His rambunctiously competitive and teasing brothers include his fraternal twin, Barrett, who plays football for the Tampa Bay Hawks; Flynn is the oldest and a quarterback in San Francisco with the Sabers; Mia is their little sister who is so not into sports; and, Grant, another football player, is engaged to Katrina, an internationally famous model. She comes with her own family, a sister and brother: Anya and Leo are still in high school with Leo getting confident enough to go out for sports with encouragement from the Cassidys. Their dad, Easton Cassidy, had been a legendary quarterback (Hall of Famer) with Green Bay for his whole career. Both parents adore their kids and aren't afraid to show it.
The Rivers baseball team includes… …Gavin Riley is the first baseman (married to Liz, another sports agent, in Changing the Game, 2, and they have a two-year-old daughter, Genevieve); Dedrick Coleman (he's married to a lawyer, Shawnelle); Garrett Scott is engaged to Alicia Riley, a physical therapist with the team (see Thrown by a Curve, 5); Jack Sanchez is the catcher; Walter Segundo; Fielding; Trevor Field (is with Haven); Lopez is a pinch hitter; and, Tommy Mahoney is a relief pitcher. Manny Magee is the coach. Phil is the team doctor. Bobby Sloan is the pitching coach.
The hospital Dr. Katie Murphy is Aubry's best friend and a fellow resident in the ER. Marie is the desk clerk; Charlene is the intake coordinator. David is a brilliant resident, the golden god of the ER who is dating a stripper. Rick is another resident who's dating Felicia, one of the nurses. Olivia is another nurse. Max is an intern. Dr. Kenneth Chen is the attending physician in charge, and he scares the pants off all the residents. Dr. Landing is another of the attendings.
Victoria Baldwin is the Cassidy brothers' agent. Madame Sheila seems like the real deal. Brenda is her daughter and receptionist. Patricia is the cooking instructor.
The Cover and Title The cover is a dark brown with peach tones. It's Tucker, shirtless, wearing navy blue sweats just hanging off his hips, a baseball in one hand and a glove in the other with his body facing one way and his head looking back. All that muscle is lookin' good, just don't look too close where hips meet pants. There's something too plastic about those lower muscles.
The title is how Tucker makes Aubry feel, All Wound Up. It's also the situation they're in, with that focus on their careers....more