Thea Moretti is the walking dead. At least she believes she is. She’s trying to be…
Thea drowns out the world around her with ever constant ear buds blasting angry music, the anonymity a crowded city gives, and meaningless sex with Ronan O’Rourke. Thea has been using Ronan for no-strings-attached sex for the better part of a year now. Losing herself in bodily passion with no emotional ties. But as Christmas, and the second anniversary of her husband’s death, approaches feelings Thea had long thought dead and buried are brimming just under the surface…made stronger by a certain sexy fireman.
Ronan O’Rourke is no stranger to grief. A job as a fireman that takes him daily to some of the worst moments in people’s lives, a loss of a close family member on September 11th, and the more recent death of a best friend, Ronan too wandered around New York as a shell of a person. Until the fateful day when Thea chose him to use for her sexual pleasure. That was the day Ronan joined the living again. As Christmas approaches Ronan is no longer content to let Thea drift through life. He’s seen how much she has to offer, knows how much she has to live for. And if it’s a battle between grief and love, Ronan intends to be the last man standing.
Armed with the spirit of the season, the beauty of New York City at Christmas, and a menage e trois. Ronan will show Thea, and all readers, that it’s not just enough to be alive…you need to learn to live…
I found this novella during a mini-reading-slump about a week ago. Usually this close to Christmas I’m chomping at the bit for Christmas Romances. I Eat. Them. Up. But, alas, this year nothing was calling to me. The synopses seemed forced rather than jolly and not too many reviews had me clamoring for an impulse click.
Until Breath of Embers.
Wow. You can purchase this novella as part of a holiday anthology (Red Hot Holiday) or as a single title for 2.99. This novella was just what I needed. Technically categorized as an erotic romance the amount of feeling and emotion in these pages surpasses many a chick-lit or general romance title.
People, I teared up during this read!
No sex scene was gratuitous. Each one gave me deeper insight to the characters. To see Thea fighting so hard to stay emotionally dead with her husband. To see Ronan fighting so hard – not to erase the memory of Thea’s lost love – but to show her that she’s not dead physically or emotionally. Learning how Thea was as responsible for Ronan’s own rebirth after the loss of those close to him. Watching Thea realize that she has something special in her life. Something worth living for. Oh my. The scenes were lovely and enthralling both in and out of the bedroom.
“I’m not trying to fix it for her…There is no fix for this. She has to endure it, and somewhere along the line she has to learn to live again. Surviving isn’t the goal. Living is. This is a battle between me and her grief, and I’m going to be the last man standing.” (Ronan, 196)
Calhoun has managed quite a feat. An erotic romance as delicious for its sex (hello, expensive lingerie store sex!) as its emotional breakthroughs (candles and carols). And I must bow down to the woman who created a threesome that brought a couple closer! rather than distancing them apart. Never was a scene so hot and heavy from both the sexual side and the emotional side. Filled with Christmas scenes that don’t feel forced or fake. this one is a must read during the Holiday Season. Perfect for the erotic romance regular as well as the fist-timers. Well written and beautifully developed characters abound.
Rating: 5/5 An emotional erotic that is a must read for the Holiday Season(less)
“…if you’re going to step on people to reach the top, you might as well do it in stilettos!” (Bella, 128)
Lucy Butler has always been a wallflower. Shunned in middle school for her braces, befriended in high school only for her Photoshop and camera skills Lucy seems to have been made only to support the more popular people among us. Freshly graduated from college with a major in photography Lucy is ready to separate from the pack. She’s going to get an internship with the most famous fashion photographer around and Lucy’s not taking No for an answer.
But breaking into the ranks of celebrity isn’t a position Lucy is prepared for. She’s lived life in the middle; being shot to the top of American Royalty is a dizzying place for poor Lucy to be. It’s a world filled with beautiful people, shopping sprees, hot musicians, and drugs. Drugs that keep this celebrity-encrusted world spinning. Lucy will find herself in a perilous position. She’ll be privy to the finest information the gossip rags could never tell you…she’ll also fall so deep into the glittery world of drugs and fashion she might never dig herself out.
A debut tale written by a woman who has lived this life, Kingsley will have you hanging on her dramatic memories, and dying to figure out who this tale was based on…
This book is a total beach read. Seriously folks, it’s the candy corn in your fall reading world. It’s like US magazine in novel format. At the beginning of the book all I could think was “Where was this book when I was 17?!” I would have LOVED it. As it stands my adult reading of the tale became more enjoyable when I decided to enjoy the good bits and ignore everything that wasn’t working – heck the author was, why couldn’t I?
Perhaps that last line was snarky…
But, this book is about 80% snark. It’s as if fashion, snark, and The Devil Wears Prada had a baby. That baby would be this book. Kingsley has a wonderful and entertaining voice when she’s writing what she knows or what she enjoys. Each chapter where in the heroine Lucy falls deeper and deeper into the celebrity-encrusted drug-laden world gets better and better. The characters are rich, the writing is sharp, and the exploits will make you want to rack your brain for the real celebrity Kingsley is talking about. But resist that urge to Google Kingsley’s previous life as a celebrity friend. Kingsley’s virtual life is tighter than Fort Knox. Even as a professional librarian I gave up the hunt. *Sigh*( I have a fierce hope Bella was really Brittany Spears…)
Anyway – Between the nuggets of Pure Goodness there were some stretches of, well, not goodness. You can see where Kingsley is a new author in the following:
The Secondary “Friend” Characters were flatter than pancakes and non-existent except when Lucy ‘needed’ them. The friends Lucy pines for, wants to brag to, are generally stand-ins with which to measure her ‘celebrity life’ to the normal life of an L.A.young thing trying to break into the biz. To cut them would have strengthened the tale. They never felt real to me anyway. Time Passage – Warning: There is no accounting for how much time passes in Lucy’s world. Chapters range from beginning either days or moments after the previous chapter to months later with a rare hint at how far we are apart. Don’t be surprised if you start a chapter thinking it’s a day later only to find that weeks have gone by! Using holidays, weather, time stamps – seriously, anything! would have moored the reader chronologically. It was frustrating not knowing the speed at which Lucy’s story was progressing. I did love that this read falls into the “New Adult” category. I personally would have eaten it up in the older teen/new 20′s space. If you love gossip rags you’ll eat this story up! I ended it excited to see what a second, more focused, effort would be from this author. With some practice she could be a great Chick Lit go-to.
Rating: 2/5 Snarky, fun romp through the dark side of celebrity culture – A debut author to keep an eye on.(less)
The reviews are right about this read: the voice of the book (really the juxtaposition of Mrs. Randall and Mr. Mirkwood’s voices) are utterly unique....moreThe reviews are right about this read: the voice of the book (really the juxtaposition of Mrs. Randall and Mr. Mirkwood’s voices) are utterly unique. Mrs. Randall’s [Martha's] character shouldn’t be someone readers like. She’s cold, stiff, and hell-bent on gaining absolutely no pleasure inside or outside the bedroom. And she’s not an iceberg that melts quickly. She spends almost the whole of her month-long daily baby-making activities distancing herself from her body’s ability to enjoy sex.
Mr. Mirkwood [Theo] on the other hand is a sensualist. Charming, witty, a lover of women, and a lover of beauty for beauty’s sake. On the surface you want Martha to fall for him. You expect her to fall fast and hard for a man who is making it his day job to bring her pleasure. Any other romance heroine would have given into the pleasure an experienced rogue can provide…Not Martha. Nope. She’s a holdout – this woman can maintain focus like no one you’ve ever seen. And while I find her to be – restricted – I understand her need to feel special or unique to a man/lover. While, like most women, I wouldn’t feel as insulted to have my body or beauty praised (quite frankly the practical talk of sheep wouldn’t turn me on, lol) what Martha wants is an emotional connection from a man who is seemingly only interested in a bodily one. All that practical talk of sheep, roof fixing, and crop rotation is really Martha connecting with Theo on an emotional level that should (seriously) come far before sex.
Ultimately, it is Martha’s emotional isolation that breaks down Theo’s immaturity and forces him to grow up and gain a conscience. He wonders…if he’s not good at pleasuring women…If he can’t do that – What is he worth? Martha unhinges him and he blossoms because of it. Theo’s sudden caring and leadership in turn break through the ice wall Martha has built around her heart.
By the end of the story you realize it took the mismatched pair to make the best of each other. To push each other to places they wouldn’t have traveled otherwise. They both end up being better people because of it.
And it must be noted that simply because Martha doesn’t want to enjoy sex, that there isn’t a healthy dose of the erotic spun throughout the book. I’m really not lying when I say Martha does nothing to ‘help’ Theo in the bedroom. He gets über excited when she touches his back at one point! However, Martha’s lack of participation causes Theo to come up with some pretty sexy fantasies involving Mrs. Randall herself and a few other women to help him fulfill his sexual errand. Lots of mirror work comes into play, and as Mrs. Randall thaws and becomes Martha its heartwarming (and then fraught with sexual tension) as we see how she begins to try to please Theo and how inspired and hopeful Theo becomes toward her. Theo is nothing if not a character with a bottomless amount of hope.
Rating: 5/5 Can’t stop my admiration for the voice of this novel and its unique premise and plot flow. (less)
First off I have to say I had a hard time swallowing the concept of a hidden pregnancy and amnesia. Bryony kept said pregnancy a secret because when R...moreFirst off I have to say I had a hard time swallowing the concept of a hidden pregnancy and amnesia. Bryony kept said pregnancy a secret because when Rafe left her island home he promised to come back to her. And Rafe never called, texted, or returned because he had amnesia. Rafe suffers from short-term amnesia, meaning he’s only forgotten the last 4 months or so of his life rather than the whole thing. Conveniently, the only space of time he’s known Bryony. Did I mention the amnesia occurred because of his plane crashing on his way back to New York from Bryony’s island home. No need to worry, mere months later Rafe only suffers from amnesia…no major physical injury attained during the PLANE CRASH.
This is where I have to remember that I read, only a month ago, a story in which a time traveling Scottish Laird saves a woman and baby in a plane crash (no injury sustained) with only the sheer power of his arms. This is only one of the major tragic events that befall this couple within their single week together – falling in love. I thought it helped support their instalove. I must give Bryony and Rafe a little leeway…Maybe if one of them was a magical time traveler?…
But back to the story. I think I’m torn because:
A. This is actually not the weirdest romance plot I’ve ever come across…contemp or otherwise, so why can’t I let these dramatic plot points go?
B. The author has a good base for a story. The character motivations are clear and understandable.
I think for the amnesia to have worked for me the author needed to take it further. Rafe openly admits he thinks it’s a little ridiculous that he suffers from the ailment. But he fails to remember Bryony in any way. No smell recognition (perfume, hair, etc.), no touch recognition, no “feeling in the bones”, nothing. Yet, the author makes Rafe instantly protective of her. It just didn’t fit. You can’t say you have no connection to someone then play the “instinctively protective” card and the “no connection” card at the same time. Further, to start the book with a prologue of time on the island…or the plane crash…Bryony waiting by the phone. Giving the reader some basis for their relationship would have been extremely helpful from a plot point of view. I do realize that later in the book things turn out differently than we expect, but I still think a prologue could have been done.
This lack of prepping the reader for major plot points continued throughout the book. It was as if the plot was nothing but major scenes with none of the downtime to develop emotions or deeper understanding of the characters. This disappointed me because in all honesty as wild as the plot sounds Banks really could have made it work. The plot points were there, character motivation was good she just didn’t have the finer details down.
The strongest relationship in the whole book was Bryony and her grandmother. There was smooth dialogue and genuine warm feelings between the two. Rafe and Bryony were a rushed romance…which you think makes sense because of the whole amnesia thing…but then the ending kinda blows that theory out of the water and you’re left scratching your head as to how they fell in love so quickly…
If I take this book with a grain of salt (as is my vow in this experiment) it was an easy evening of reading. At less than 200 pages I was on a roller coaster of pleasant trashiness. And one to be honest, I enjoyed enough to continue on with the series. It really is Banks’ ability to create a solid story idea – even if the execution fails a bit – that is deliciously trope filled. It’s like watching day-time reality tv. Pretty rough, but I dare you to look away.
Rating: 2.5/5 You can’t possibly refuse a few short hours of your day to a title like Enticed by his Forgotten Lover…you know you gotta read it. (less)
I read this one because my friend Tara (who has her own ‘green’ themed blog GreenCycledDesigns) checked it out of the library. Having finished said bo...moreI read this one because my friend Tara (who has her own ‘green’ themed blog GreenCycledDesigns) checked it out of the library. Having finished said book ridiculously quickly, she dropped it off in my library with the enticement of at least an hours worth of laughter to be found in the pages.
She wasn’t lying! Even with no plans on the horizon to start my own family I couldn’t seem to put this book down. It’s not a masterful work of literature, it’s even better…An honest-to-goodness conversation with your funniest girlfriend. And while the laughter you’ll have over picturing Jenny McCarthy herself pissed at her husband for wanting to watch Playmates on a TV reality show in the chapter entitled “Die, Model B*tch, Die! (Hating Skinny People)” you’ll forgive her for being one of those genetically blessed people in her 9 to 5. Especially after she admits:
“…I couldn’t take it. He said I was being silly, considering I had been a Playmate once myself. Well, if I had known what the sight of a Playmate did to women during pregnancy, I would have done us all a favor and been the fattest and hairiest Playmate of all time.”
And while her dear, loving hubby still refuses to change the channel after some not-so-good-natured tantrum throwing Jenny follows up with sage advice:
“…so I resorted to the only thing I knew would work. I began crying. It worked. We switched to the Disney channel.
Another effective strategy and one that feels devilishly good is this: While your husband is getting undressed at night, look in a magazine and shout out, “Damn! That George Clooney has a fine a$$!” See how he likes it.”
Let me tell you, this is by far the tamest of her anecdotes. I won’t even begin to quote the chapter on pregnant sex which involves an analogy involving pigs, pastures, dogs, and farmers…honestly laughed for a good 5 minutes after that. Or when she goes to see a “butt doctor” when concerned about her bodily functions; Tears, I tell you, Tears from laughter.
This one is worth picking up. If a girlfriend has it, or you see it in your local library take a few minutes and give it a little look. The 3 page chapters and conversational voice will have you at hello. Take the hour (and a glass of wine if you’re not carrying your own bundle of joy) and listen to a funny girl tell her story. This book isn’t the most informational…but I’m willing to bet it’s the most honest and enjoyable.
Rating: 5/5 It was funny, scary, then hilarious again. Like chatting with your funniest girlfriend!(less)
I had high hopes for this book in the beginning. I liked the idea of Sadie Quill’s character. A woman who was not only decently haunted but also physi...moreI had high hopes for this book in the beginning. I liked the idea of Sadie Quill’s character. A woman who was not only decently haunted but also physically scared. Sadie is very conscious of her scars. A beautiful woman naturally she now has scars covering her entire back and one arm. Because they extend to her hand some are always visible.
I liked that Chapman created a character who was haunted by something realistic (the deaths of her sister and father) and also a woman who was dealing with a real physical flaw…Not just clumsy-ness or a slightly more endowed waistline like most other ‘slightly-flawed’ romance heroines.
Then it all just went paranormal; ‘magical’ if you will. You know the Highlander series is going to be about time-travel, quick marriages, and lots of magic sprinkled in its pages. But Chapman went and messed with the scars. Used magic on them and then took magic away from them. Stop here if you plan on reading this one…because the next paragraph is going to get spoiler-y…
I thought that when Chapman took away Sadie’s scars with healing magic it was a cop-out. I wanted Sadie to have to deal with this physical manifestation of her issues. To realize that she was beautiful and desirable with or without this flaw. To find the self-worth she had been lacking for so long. I thought that was going to be the point of the scars. Morgan’s love was just going to reinforce…push her toward the edge of seeing herself in a new light.
Nope. Magic Morgan accidentally ‘heals’ said scars and then even wishes himself that Sadie had fallen in love with him pre-healing so she’d know he loved her with or without them. Now, here’s where I’m going to get a bit edgy. First, Morgan’s a bit of a wank for thinking he wished she had her scars. I mean, doesn’t the girl deserve the perfect skin magic accidentally gave her? Especially if he only wants her to have them to prove what a good man he truly is.
I kinda wanted her to still have the scars too. It felt too easy that she could give it all up. Hide her past trauma so easily…never having to deal with it emotionally. So what is an author to do? Apparently create a situation where Sadie has to give some magic back (yep, you can do that with magic…just trade it off) to save Morgan but in exchange those scars are coming back.
Bam. Take that Sadie. Coming off the euphoria of losing the scars. You almost lose the new hubby and then gain those emotionally charged scars back. Talk about getting hit hard. I think the book would have been stronger had Sadie simply had to deal with her baggage based completely in reality. In order to accept the rushed marriage, magical elements, and a burl of wood that heals when hit with water…I need my characters emotions to be based in reality. Insta-love aside, I need all baggage to be handled with care and realism.
Rating: 2/5 The way the scars were handled bothered me too much.(less)
Can I tell you how much I loved this story? I really felt like the characters had time to circle around each other. I didn’t feel like their romantic...moreCan I tell you how much I loved this story? I really felt like the characters had time to circle around each other. I didn’t feel like their romantic progression was rushed. And can I just tell you how cute this romantic progression is? Calliope is a quirky girl who knows what she wants and sets out to get him. The potential awkwardness that could result from a woman dating her sister’s ex-husband is dispersed by Calliope’s enthusiasm. Just watching Wyatt’s bear-like nature melt under Calliope’s love and attention was lovely Too cute. I wanted to eat this story up. It was so good, I need to stop myself now before I continue to gush…One of the best of the book for sure.
Ahh! I hate/love books like this. Ones that end with a *gasp*. They’re not lying when they tell you this book is “The Social Network meets Gossip Girl...moreAhh! I hate/love books like this. Ones that end with a *gasp*. They’re not lying when they tell you this book is “The Social Network meets Gossip Girl”. It’s deliciously good. And now I’m going to list the reasons why…
1. College Loving that this book takes place in college. Not that I don’t enjoy reading about the plight of the high school student, but I’m excited to be entering the world of college…where hook-ups and drinking abound…without the fear of high school ramifications. I’m ready for my teens to be a little more adult. The fact that they’re attractive and super smart is a major bonus.
2. Tech-Geeks So very cool. I couldn’t write more than simple HTML code if I tried. Throw in the word algorithm and you left me miles behind. But to watch Amelia type away like some crazy-genius of a computer geek is very fun. The power this slight girl holds in the books is awesome. Add to this she’s all moral and ethical. Like the going green movement of the tech-world…she’s like a hippie-code-geek. And something tells me her morality vs. love for her brother are going to cause more than a few gut wrenching decisions.
3. Rich People Ahh, what would a Gossip-Girl-like novel be without the powerful elite. But we don’t delve into the overdone Manhattan crowd, nor those preppy New Englanders, we’ve even set aside the Orange County and their housewives. Turn your eyes to Silicon Valley’s corporate sugar daddies and their overly spoiled children.
It was so cool to see a different crowd, with different financial motivations and barely an ounce of family money. The greed is so very different in the land of computers. But no need to worry, there’s still a ton of name dropping, mansion owning, finery to feed the voyeuristic need. Guilty Pleasure Abounds! lol
4. The Twins Amelia and Adam Dori are going to cause a lot of trouble. She’s too smart and he’s too driven. They’ve come to this book with a past involving prison time…and their status as orphans only adds to the mystery. Hayes has given herself some plot leeway by keeping their past from the reader. It allows them to simultaneously be the victim as well as the villain. And again…these two are going to tug at the heart! You like them both, but they’re coming from such different viewpoints…not too hard to see where they’ll clash.
This read was a breath of fresh air. A brand new viewpoint on our favorite type of YA guilty pleasure.