Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: Angel's Flight

This anthology features a collection of short stories in the Guild Hunter world. Three have been previously published. The last is new.

Angels' Pawn - Throughout the first three Guild Hunter novels, we get little teasers about the hunter Ashwini and her constant foil, the sexy Cajun vampire Janvier. But in this short story, we get to see the two of them in action.  Though Ash is usually hunting Janvier, here they are working together to bring in a vampire at the center of a power struggle.  The whole thing serves as a little slice of life for the Guild Hunter, but it also showcases the sexy dynamic between Ash and Janvier.  This isn't a story with an HEA. It does, however, leave the door wide open for the possibilities between these two. I hope they get their own story one day. The backstory on Ash alone would make it worthwhile.

Angel's Judgment - This is our chance to see Sara and Deacon when they first meet and fall in love.  When the story begins, Sara is trying to decide whether she will accept the position as the new Guild Director. (Chronologically, it happens before the events of Angels' Blood.) As she works a case, trying to find a killer who is targeting vamps, she is paired with Deacon.  He is known within the Guild as The Slayer, investigating rouge hunters and delivering punishment when necessary.  They work together to find the guilty party, and grow close in the process.  Sara has always been just a background character for me in the series, but this story gives her more depth.  And Deacon is hawt!  A great novella, filled with action and awesome sexy-times.  Definitely a keeper for fans of the series.

Angels' Wolf - Poor Noel.  Back in Archangel's Kiss, he was the vampire savagely beaten and tortured to send a message to Raphael.  His body has now healed, but he may never recover from the emotional damage.  As this story begins, Raphael sends him on a mission to Louisiana, to help the angel Nimra figure out who is trying to kill her.   Nimra is very powerful, striking fear in even the most brutal angels.  But Noel finds there is a gentle spirit behind her fierce reputation.  It was strange seeing such a soft angel, when almost all the others in the series have this vein of inhumanity.  But I did enjoy watching her breathe new life into Noel's broken spirit.  By the time the story ends, we finally get an idea of who he was before his attack.  And it's clear that through love, he'll one day be whole again.

Angels' Dance - Set 400 years in the past, this story gives us the chance to watch Galen and Jessamy fall in love. Jess is a teacher at the refuge, loved and respected by all, but the ancient angel has never known a man's touch. She is thousands of years old, but her malformed wing has kept her grounded and isolated. Galen recognizes that there is more to her than just a teacher and historian. He sees the woman beneath. And he takes her to the skies... exposes her to the world. He awakens feelings in her that she never thought she would have. This is all happening as Galen works to prove himself worthy of entering Raphael's service. Also at the same time, there is turmoil in Cadre with a missing archangel and an attempt on Jessamy's life. But the real draw is the love story that develops between Jess and Galen. They are wonderful contrasting characters, proving how much opposites attract. A lot of time passes over the course of less than 150 pages, but it only adds to the depth of their feelings. Very satisfying.

Overall rating: 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by Berkley
Click to purchase: Amazon
Angels' Flight
by Nalini Singh
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Berkley

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: The Darkest Seduction

Reviewed by Jen
Let me start out by saying that I am a huge, huge fan of the Lords of the Underworld series. And like everyone else, I have been anxiously awaiting the story that would give poor Paris his HEA. This book gave me all the things I wanted –and even worked in some amazing surprises—but it didn’t quite live up to its potential for me.

The biggest problem is simply that the book is bloated. It's too long and stuffed with too much stuff. I was excited when I first saw how thick it was, but it was actually a hindrance to the storytelling. The first 100 pages or so really dragged. It didn’t feel anything like the snarky, snappy, and sexy series I love. It was a portrait of a miserable Paris and a miserable Sienna, each enduring their own tragedies as they dream of a reunion. This could have been streamlined enormously and still conveyed the same things. It isn’t until Paris finally tracks down his long-lost woman, that the book becomes engaging at all. Maybe around page 150.

Once Paris and Sienna are together, you can start to see the sparks. And in their interactions, the book has some of its best moments. After all, their reunion is what we’ve all hungered for. But Paris has changed so much, he is almost unrecognizable from the character we once knew. I know he’s been through a lot, but I would have liked to see a few more glimpses of the suave Lord of Promiscuity. This guy is supposed to be the end-all, be-all Lothario and he just didn’t deliver. Yeah, the sex is hot, but no more so than with any of the other Lords.

We’re introduced to a slew of new characters, from the annoying Lord of Narcissism to three random Lords stuffed in a castle turret. I could have done without all of them. We also get a healthy dose of Zacharel, which is no doubt designed to set up Showalter’s new Angels of the Dark series. And I’ll admit… I’m intrigued.

There were some things I really did enjoy. Surprisingly, I liked the Galen and Legion sidestory and I find myself really rooting for these two to make a go of it. We got the set-up on Kane’s story with the female Horseman. And we got a few new teasers on the enigma that is William the Dark. Oooh—and Ashlyn finally has those babies. Hallelujah!! That woman has been pregnant for like, 10 years. All of that was great –as were the fantastic developments on the Cronus/ Rhea front… and a shocking tidbit about Strider’s history.

Yet, the book didn’t quite satisfy. Maybe it’s because it took too long to get to the good stuff. Maybe it’s because Paris isn’t Paris anymore.  I don't know.  It wasn't bad.  It just wasn't everything I hoped it would be. 3 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by Harlequin

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Darkest Seduction
by Gena Showalter
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin

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AAD Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Boone Brux

Boone Brux joins us today for our latest AAD Author Spotlight.  Boone lives in Alaska, where she lives with her husband and twin daughters. She has a soft spot for the paranormal --especially demons.  Please help me welcome her to the blog!

Jen: Shield of Fire is your debut novel. Tell me a little about the journey to get it to print.

Boone: This has been a long haul, mainly because Shield was the first full-length novel I ever wrote. It started out as a historical and through many rewrites, finally became a fantasy romance. I have to admit, my poor editors had their hands full with this story. They did a stellar job guiding me through the process. It was such a learning experience.

Jen: For new readers, could you talk a little bit about the world of the Bringers and the Bane?

Boone: The story takes place in the land of Inness. A thousand years before the Demon Bane besieged the land and began building their army by stealing human souls and converting them to demons. The queen beseeched the Bringer King to open the Arch of the Mystics and rid her land of the Bane.

Jen: Do you have a little snippet you could share?

She made no move, only stared at him. After several torturous seconds, she reached for the hem of her shift, and pulled the garment over her head in one quick motion. His eyes opened and he sat up, no longer interested in pretending.

Ravyn gasped and crushed the shift against her breasts. He pushed back the covers and stood, his naked body lit by the moon’s glow. The whites of her eyes rounded but she didn’t retreat.

He refused to accept her embarrassment—not with him—not ever. With only inches separating them, Ravyn’s desire and apprehension rippled along his skin. The beast stirred.

He’d give her one chance to leave. “You shouldn’t be here.”

She nodded. “I know.”

He took a step toward her. “I can’t give you what you seek, Ravyn. I can’t be who you need me to be.”

She stepped toward him. “I understand. Please don’t send me away. I want this.”

His honor faded with her words. He pulled the crumpled material from her hand and exposed her naked form. Heat radiated from her. He stepped closer, but she wouldn’t meet his eyes.

“Don’t hide yourself. Not from me.” He tipped her chin so she would look at him. “Do you understand?”

She nodded, but her posture remained stiff. He trailed a finger across her shoulder, down her breast, and over her nipple. The tips pebbled under his caress. Ravyn sucked in a breath and grabbed his hip for support. He loved the way she responded to him, the way her body nearly sizzled under his touch.

He palmed one full breast and rolled the extended nub between his thumb and index finger. She answered by arching into his hand. With tentative strokes, Ravyn smoothed her fingers across his torso. Her light touches delivered spikes of pleasure through his body as her nails scraped across his flat nipple. He wrapped his free arm around her back and pulled her close, needing to feel her body. His erection pressed fully against the soft skin of her stomach.

Ravyn tilted her head to look at him, her lips parting in an invitation—one he instantly accepted. Mouths met and tongues danced. This part she’d learned well. No inhibitions muddied the execution of her kiss. She matched him stroke for stroke and moan for moan. The beast pushed against him, wanting more, needing to take control. Rhys held the urge to dominate at bay and sank into their kiss.

Jen: (*fans self*) Wow. Will the next book feature Jade and Luc? Will we learn more about Ravyn’s parents/ history/ mysterious look-a-like?

Boone: Yes, Kiss of the Betrayer focuses on Jade and Luc. Those two are a couple of mischief makers. Neither one makes the wisest choices, so they tend to get in trouble. Plus Jade hates Luc, for reasons that will be revealed in the book.

Anybody who has a significant part in the series will have their character arc grow and will hopefully have their story tied up either at the end or before the last book. There will only be one dangling threat, which I won’t say anymore about. (Mimes locking lips and throwing away the key.) So yes, you’ll find out about Ravyn’s parents later in the series. The look-a-like woman will be revealed within the next two books.

Jen: How many different types of Bringers are there? Will they all eventually end up with those awesome tattoos?

Boone: There are four different types of Bringers: The Shields, who have groovy tattoos on their backs of dragons or phoenixes, or any other creature I may want to throw in there. Shields protect and serve.

There are the Redeemers, who have sun tattoos on the palms of their hands. They’re healers, but can be brutal when yanking a soul back from death or healing injuries. They really aren’t the gentle womenfolk of lore.

There are the Tells, who have a single line tattooed from underneath their lip to the indent above their chin. They know things, not mind reading, but are rather like a medieval Magic Eight Ball. The sense when things are false or which direction someone traveled, but they don’t know specifics.

Last is what Ravyn is, which I can’t tell you about yet, sorry.

Jen:  Tell us about Everything Erotic Anthologies—Just how dirty are we talking about? (**Wags eyebrows*)

Boone: Read them with a fire extinguisher.  There are some seriously hot, down and dirty scenes. Thus the erotic title. I’d never written erotica before I teamed up with this incredibly talented group. Wow, what a lesson. I learned so much from them, which definitely carried over into chapter seventeen in Shield of Fire.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Boone: I love Janet Evanovich, Darynda Jones, Karen Marie Moning, and Christopher Moore. These are my “I’ll buy anything they write” authors.

Darynda is actually an AAD author I think. Lucky me. I’m going to stalk her.

Jen: I'm totally going to stalk her too. Do you write full time? How do you spend your day?

Boone: I do write full-time, though that term is relative. I have ten yr. old twins, so writing full time often times means make our lunch and drive me somewhere.

I am lucky to not have to punch a time clock. I try to write while the kids are in school. The balance between actual writing and all the other stuff, like promo, still eludes me, but I’m getting better. Summer gets a bit tricky. I try to squeeze in exercise because my butt is growing with all the sitting I do during the day. I usually have a coffee date twice a month with a writer friend.

Other than that’s it’s just the glamorous life of a writer, cooking, cleaning, mentally flogging myself for not having enough time for everything.

Jen: What are you most looking forward to from AAD in NOLA?

Boone: I answer this question the same way because I really mean it. I’m looking most forward to talking to readers. I have tons of writer acquaintances, but seeing readers in their element is sure to be a learning and rewarding experience.

I’m also looking forward to the suffocating heat. Okay, I say that now and may change my mind by August, but it’s 11 below out this morning. My skin hasn’t seen daylight for months. Can’t wait to sink into the hot, moisture laden air of NOLA.

Boone is generously giving away a copy of Shield of Fire.  Just fill out the Rafflecopter form to enter.  In the meantime, be sure to visit her at her website!

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: By a Thread

Reviewed by Jen
I have to admit, I was worried. When Jennifer Estep wrapped up the Mab Monroe storyline in the last book, it felt like it could be the end of the Elemental Assassin series. Then I head two words that made me shudder: road trip. Few authors can take their main character out of the familiar environment and make the story work. But let me tell you right now, not only did Jennifer Estep make it work, she's given us the very best installment in the series to date.

After Mab's death, Gin thought her life would get easier. But thanks to Jonah MacAllister, Gin's identity is no longer a secret. And every day, a new thug is showing up at the Pork Pit to challenge her. So Finn convinces her to take a vacation. Gin jumps in the car with Bria, back to her sister's home town, hoping to leave the violence behind. She also hopes she can bridge the growing gap between her and her sister.

I must say, Bria really ticked me off here. She is so judgmental of Gin; she blames her for things that are not her fault; she basically acts like Gin is beneath her. Very reminiscent of Donovan Caine in the earlier books. --And speaking of Donovan-- He is suddenly back in the picture as Gin finds herself in the middle of a conflict involving one of Bria's old friends. The woman is getting pressure from a vampire crime boss to sell her restaurant and Gin can't help but to try and help the woman who was like a sister to Bria for years. The woman who also happens to be involved with Donovan... who is still a complete toad.

This book is fast paced and full of action. But what makes it so good is that its also full of emotional turmoil in Gin's life. She has to learn hard lessons about the limits of her power. She must decide how much crap she is willing to take from her sister. And she needs to figure out where her heart lies. Is Owen the only man for her? Can she let go of her old feelings for Donovan? Do I ever stop wanting to punch him in the 'nads?

The absence of Mab and the change of venue gives the series an infusion of new life. It feels fresh without trying to reinvent the core of the series. It brings back all my favorite characters (and even some better left to rot beneath a bridge.) It is unpredictable. And it managed to make me worried, angry, sad, hot, happy, and triumphant, all in equal measure. I couldn't have been more satisfied and I wouldn't change a thing about how it all played out. I can wait to find out what's next for my favorite assassin. 5 stars.

*ARC Provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
By a Thread 
by Jennifer Estep
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Pocket Books

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review: The Husband Hunt

The Madison sisters are back to find a happy ending for the last among them yet to be married. We first met Lisa back in The Countess and it was obvious, even then, that Robert would be the man for her. Unfortunately, Robert is the only one who doesn't see it.

Two years have passed since the events of the last book. And while Lisa has grown older, Robert still sees her as a little sister. Lisa is tired of waiting for him to come around so she decides that she will finally come out and choose another man to focus her affections upon --her search is on for a husband.

Before she can put her plan in action, she is drugged by a local madam and nearly handed over to a mysterious "suitor." Thankfully, Robert saves the day at the last minute, but the suitor gets away without making his identity known. Now Robert must keep Lisa safe until he can ferret out who is after her. And of course, that means he gets a front row seat for her husband hunt.

It doesn't take long for Robert to began seeing Lisa differently. I really liked watching him succumb to his desires for her. But he had some decidedly lame reasons why he wouldn't get married, which kind of annoyed me. Lisa's impetuousness bordered on stupidity once or twice, putting her in unnecessary dire straits. And unfortunately, the identity of the suitor was really obvious from early on. Overall though, I did enjoy the book. Lynsay Sands injects humor into her romances, which I like. And the sex was good. I also liked that Sands managed to ultimately tie in the dangerous "suitor" part of the storyline with the plots of the previous books.

We do get our happy ending --and a satisfying conclusion to the series. 3 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Husband Hunt
by Lynsay Sands
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Avon

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Review: Cera's Place

Reviewed by Jen
The Civil War took a lot out of Union soldier Jake Tanner. He lost a dear friend on the battlefield. And his wife and child succumbed to illness while he was gone. The only reason he hasn't given up on life is to keep a promise to find his friend's daughter. But when he finally does locate the girl, he is set on a path to truly living again for the first time in years.

The girl in question works in a San Francisco saloon, run by the fiery Cera. Jake is smitten with the tough and savvy businesswoman right away. But she is gun shy, after her last failed relationship. She also has her hands full with a handful of dastardly men in the city who are kidnapping Chinese girls and forcing them into slavery. She takes the cause onto herself, which quickly puts her in danger. Cera and Jake must work together to bring down the slavers before the slavers can get to them.

Cera is a tough and capable woman with a difficult past, but she wards off Jake's advances almost a little too adamantly.  Meanwhile, Jake is smitten with her at the speed of light.  And they are in Love in just days. (You know this is a personal peeve of mine.) Jake had the potential to be a tortured hero, but he didn't entirely pull it off.  Instead, when he makes his big sacrifice for "Cera's own good," it feels abrupt and unnatural.  In fact, a lot of their relationship felt abrupt... and its progression felt a little stilted.  It went from "I don't like you," to "My body may want you, but I don't," to "I really enjoy sleeping with you," to "I love you" and so on, in blocky increments. 

It's not a bad story, but I guess I just didn't feel very invested in the characters and I didn't really connect with the romance.  Not the best fit for me.  2 1/2 stars.

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Cera's Place
by Elizabeth McKenna
Release Date: December 19, 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Giveaway & Read Along: Kiss of Midnight

Lara Adrian released her first novel in the Midnight Breed series back in 2007.  The books have gone on to great success.  In fact, book 10, Darker After Midnight, came out last month to rave reviews.  But for some reason, I have never read this series.  The folks at Dell are helping me change that.  Thanks to an awesome Facebook contest, I'm part of the Midnight Breed Ambassador Program.... which isn't only good for me, it's good for you too.  The publisher has provided me with 10 copies of Kiss of Midnight, the first installment in the series.  And I'm going to share (most of) them with you!

He watches her from across the crowded dance club, a sensual black-haired stranger who stirs Gabrielle's deepest fantasies. But nothing about this night--or this man--is what it seems. For when Gabrielle witnesses a murder outside the club, reality shifts into something dark and deadly. In that shattering instant she is thrust into a realm she never knew existed--a realm where vampires stalk the shadows and a blood war is set to ignite.

Lucan Thorne despises the violence carried out by his lawless brethren. A vampire himself, Lucan is a Breed warrior, sworn to protect his kind--and the unwitting humans existing alongside them--from the mounting threat of the Rogues. Lucan cannot risk binding himself to a mortal woman, but when Gabrielle is targeted by his enemies, he has no choice but to bring her into the dark underworld he commands.

Here, in the arms of the Breed's formidable leader, Gabrielle will confront an extraordinary destiny of danger, seduction, and the darkest pleasures of all . . . .

I'm giving away 7 copies on the blog (and I'll do a couple on Twitter.)  Then I'm opening up the floor to hear what everyone thinks about the book.   You can all share your opinions on Kiss of Midnight (including links to your blog, Goodreads, etc if you like) --whether you're a winner, just a new reader, or even if you read it ages ago.  The contest will run for a week.  And the post for everyone's reviews will be up on April 2nd.    I'm excited about trying something new and hopefully, some of you will take the plunge with me!!

Unfortunately, due to shipping costs, I have to limit this giveaway to followers in the US & Canada.  But everyone is invited to read along and share opinions on the book.  Thanks again to Dell for providing the prizes!  I can't wait to get started.

Read more »

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Review: Eternal Captive

Holy wow. This book was really, really good. I'm so glad I didn't give up on this series, because each book has gotten progressively better.

Lucian is the youngest of the Roman brothers, and he is destined to follow in his father's footsteps as the next Breeding Male. He'd rather die than live as such a rutting beast. But he can keep his fragile hold on sanity, as long as he can keep himself from having sex with Bronwyn, the one woman with whom he has shared his blood. Of course, he wants her like he has never wanted any other woman, but he is determined fight his attraction.

Unfortunately, the villain of our story has other ideas. He forces Lucian and Bron together in another reality, knowing the two of them will eventually give in to their desires. And sure enough, they do. And Lucian begins to transform, but they find hope for his salvation.

I'm not going to spoil the details. But I will say I loved their romance. Both Lucian and Bronwyn fought it so hard, which only made it that much sweeter when they gave in to their feelings. Wright has crafted such fantastic characters here and I was completely invested in them and desperate for them to find happiness.

The side stories were great as well, from backstory on Nicolas' twin and the other rejects... to the heartbreaking Syn and Juliet... to the amazing set-up for Gray and Dillon's book. It was all just golden. --Plus the sex was really hot. Did I mention the sex? (**fans self**) I loved the resolution to Lucian and Bronwyn's story. I just loved it all. Well, all except for that ubiquitous "c-word."  5 stars.

*Cunt count = 38

Click to purchase: Amazon
Eternal Captive
by Laura Wright
Release Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group USA

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: Eternal Kiss

Thank you Laura Wright, for reading my mind.  Almost all the major issues I had with Eternal Hunger have either disappeared or drastically improved with this definitely superior sequel. 

This second installment in the Mark of the Vampire series focuses on Nicolas, another son of the Breeding Male who has been forced into early maturity by the order.  Like his brother Alexander, he has led a tortured life. Only this time, we see the effects of his misery. In fact, it colors almost everything he says and does. 

Nicolas' mother was a drug addict and a whore, who pimped her son out at a very early age.  So not only did he endure the stigma of his father, but he lived in shame... forced into acts no child should endure... until he was rescued by his brother Lucian.  Now, he seems to live a normal life, but he has never really let go of the dark side of his life. He considers himself dirty and unworthy and still debases himself behind his brothers' backs.

Shortly after his forced maturation, Nicolas is approached by a woman, claiming to have rescued his son from the man who killed the boy's mother.  Nicolas is skeptical about the boy's parentage and Kate's motives.  But she sacrificed a lot to save the child, running away from her last two months of parole to deliver the boy.  Now Kate and Nicolas are thrown together to track down the Impure who killed the child's mother, before the Order forces Lucian to become the next Breeding Male.

It was a great romance, with two characters who are both so broken and flawed.  The sexual tension and payoff are explosive.  Learning about Nicolas' history is heartbreaking, but that just makes things so much more gratifying when he finally finds love.  (I do wish we would have gotten a little more insight into why he was still leading his second life, however, rather than having us draw our own conclusions.)

More is revealed in the ongoing arc surrounding the Impure revolution and the power behind it.  We learn more about Gray (a favorite of mine from the last book) and his journey toward a real life and --hopefully-- love with Dillon.  And there's a great ending, clearly setting up a story for Lucian and Bronwyn.    But despite the side plots, I felt like our main couple and their relationship got the attention they needed.  I felt much more invested in them than I did with Alex and Sara.

A couple of other tidbits: I'm glad this book had a glossary... It needed one!  But there is still frequent use of the "c-word" --which I guess is just a word the author likes and I'm going to have to get over it.  Overall, though, a big improvement & a solid installment in the series.  Can't wait to get started on Lucian's book. A little more than 4 stars.

Click to purchase: Amazon
Eternal Kiss
by Laura Wright
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Publisher: Signet Eclipse

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review: Eternal Hunger

Alexander and his brothers want nothing to do with others of their kind. They escaped 100 years ago from their vampire communities, anxious to be free of the oppressive rule of the Order... and of the fear and disdain heaped on them because of their father. And while their new lives have been good ones, it all comes crashing down when Alex goes through his vampire maturation a century ahead of schedule. The transition takes away his ability to live in the sun and centers his life on finding his one true mate.

Sara stumbles across Alex while he is going through his transition, saving him from the sunlight that could have killed him. The two experience an attraction, a bond, neither can deny. Circumstances band them together as Alex works to locate the dangerous Impure (vampire-human hybrid) who is wreaking havoc on vamp culture... and to keep Sara safe from the psychotic human trying to kill her.

There is a lot going on and sometimes I felt like it took away some of the attention from the romance. From the problems Sara is fighting with her brother, to the Impure plot, to the mysterious female cutter in the psych ward, to the crazy stalker, and the pureblood vamp vying for Alexander's attention... I think I would have like things a bit more streamlined. It IS the first book in the series, though, and I realize there is much foundation the author has to lay. I just felt like with so much going on, every element ended up stretched a little thin.

For instance, Alex had the potential to be a really good tortured hero, but the depth of his torment was not as deeply explored as I would have liked. His misery and lifelong rejection could have been an angsty gold-mine, but instead, it was a relatively small point.

We were treated to some pretty good sexual tension, and the payoff was good --I just wish we didn't have to wait so long for it. (And frankly, I wish she didn't use the word "cunt" so much.)  I liked the dynamic between the brothers and enjoyed the hints at the relationship possibilities between Gray and Dillon as well as Lucian and Bronwyn.

I also liked the interesting spin the author puts on vampire culture, where the vamps are actually kind of prudish as opposed to super-sexual. The world building was clear and easy to understand... and I look forward to seeing where she takes the series next.  3 stars.

Click to purchase: Amazon
Eternal Hunger
by Laura Wright
Release Date: September 11, 2010
Publisher: Signet

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Series Reading Order: Mark of the Vampire

This is the reading order for the Mark of the Vampire series by Laura Wright:

* Denotes short story/novella

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    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Review: Blame It on Bath

    Reviewed by Jen
    Caroline Linden hasn't let me down yet and this latest book is no exception. It picks up as a companion story to One Night in London, though I think it would still make sense as a standalone. The premise to the series: after the Duke of Durham's death, his three sons find out that his marriage to their mother may have been invalid. A blackmailer claims to have proof that the Duke was married to another woman first and never divorced. With their legitimacy and estate at risk, the sons now must find out who the blackmailer is --and stop him before he ruins their future.

    This story follows the efforts of the youngest son, Gerard. He plans to track down the blackmailer and silence him by whatever means necessary. But as a third son, he knows that even if he is successful, he'll need a wealthy bride to keep up his standard of living. Enter Katherine. She's heard about the scandal surrounding the Durham family and she presents herself to Gerard for marriage. She is a very wealthy widow, albeit a plain one, who has nursed a secret affection for him for years. Of course, he doesn't remember the one time they met years ago, but her offer and her sizable funds prove to be irresistible.

    After a quick wedding, the two of them head out for Bath, so Gerard can continue his quest. Katherine, or Kate as he calls her, is quiet and kind of awkward. But Gerard quickly indoctrinates her into the ways of passion. They connect quickly in the bedroom, but Kate finds herself longing for a deeper connection with her husband. It's a pretty straightforward love story, as Gerard slowly realizes what a hidden gem his wife really is. In the meantime, Kate must learn to stop hiding behind the careful façade that she built to deal with her unkind mother and uncaring first husband. She must also learn to trust in Gerard and believe in her own worth.

    I know I have said it before, but one of the reasons I like Caroline Linden books is because she doesn't rely on standard tropes to advance her stories. I never find myself rolling my eyes or annoyed by unnecessary misunderstandings. We're just watching two people grow and learn what it means to love. Oh yeah, and the sex is hot too.

    We don't get much further in the blackmailing arc, but the story sets up Charlie's book nicely, where we're sure to see a resolution. I'm also happy to say that we got an appearance from Margaret, the heroine from "I Love the Earl." We get her perspective on the scandal surrounding her brother (the Duke) and we see how her HEA played out. I enjoyed this one. 4 stars.

    *ARC Provided by NetGalley

    Click to purchase: Amazon
    Blame It on Bath
    by Caroline Linden
    Release Date: February 28, 2012
    Publisher: Avon

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    AAD Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Samantha Kane

    Joining us for today's AAD author spotlight is Samantha Kane, whose erotic historical menage stories are hot enough to curl your toes.  Please help me welcome her to the blog!

    Jen: Tell new readers about the Brothers in Arms series.

    Sam: Brothers In Arms is a Regency historical menage series. The series is based on a group of veterans from the Peninsular War (part of the war between Britain and France in the early 1800's). Most of the men are suffering from some level of PTSD or physical injuries from the war. During the war the men became very close and paired off as lovers or best friends who shared women in bed. After the war they can't or won't give up the close relationship between them and end up finding a woman who can love them both and accept a non-traditional marriage. Each book contains m/m sexual situations as well as m/f and m/m/f.

    Jen:What do you think draws readers to menage stories?

    Sam: The titillation of the forbidden. The idea of two men for one woman, sort of having your cake and eating it, too. ;-) You get double the romance hero, double the conflict, double the emotion, double the excitement. It's a great romance book squared.

    Jen: What are your thoughts on m/f/m versus m/m/f?

    Sam: Well, they're not interchangeable. They are completely different stories. I like to say that in any menage, m/m/f or m/f/m, you have four romances. Hero1/heroine, hero2/heroine, hero1/hero2 (in m/f/m this could be a bromance, friendship), and hero1/heroine/hero2. You have to give each relationship attention and a complete story arc, or the HEA just doesn't work. But clearly, if the two heroes are not lovers, or in love, then it completely alters the nature of two of the four relationships in the book (hero1/hero2 and hero1/heroine/hero2). I prefer a m/m/f menage, because I just don't find it realistic that two men would be naked in bed together and not be sexually attracted to one another. If you're going to get naked and horizontal with someone, you've got something going on. IMHO.

    Jen: My husband teases me mercilessly for the dirty romance novels I love to read. What kind of reaction did you get from your husband/ family when you decided to start writing them? Does anyone in your family read your books?

    Sam: My husband has always supported me 100%. He was the one who encouraged me to write my first erotic romance. I discovered Ellora's Cave and saw in the Romance Writers Report (the monthly Romance Writers of America magazine) that EC was looking for menage/gay romance. I told him, "I think I could write that." And he said, "Sure you can! Do it." And so I did. He was my first reader and my first fan.

    I didn't "come out" as an erotic romance author until after my second book was released. Brothers in Arms was very popular from the first book, The Courage to Love, and when the second book, Love Under Siege, was as successful, I wanted to brag about that success. There were some shocked reactions, and quite a few family members have not read my books because they find it hard to reconcile me with what I write. But overall there has been overwhelming support from my family for my writing career.

    Jen: Can you give us a little teaser/ snippet from your latest work? (We like it dirty please, m'am.)

    Nick tapped lightly on the door. It had been left ajar, so both he and Oliver assumed this was it. If not, they would have to do some quick explaining.

    The door was yanked open and a disembodied hand came out of the interior darkness and grabbed Oliver’s arm, yanking him inside. Oliver laughed and in turn grabbed Nick and dragged him right behind. Once they were in there he only got a quick impression of Vanessa before she slammed the door and they were all lost in the dark.

    “Are you mad?” she hissed. “Knocking on the door? What if someone heard?”

    “Well, just in case they didn’t, it’s a good thing you slammed the door behind us so they’d be sure to hear that,” Oliver drawled with a thread of laughter beneath his words.

    Vanessa moaned as if in pain. “I’m not very good at this sneaking about business,” she confessed in a miserable tone. “Perhaps this was a bad idea.”

    “It was a brilliant idea,” Oliver said soothingly. “Now where are you?”

    Nick felt a hand on his hip and he caught his breath at the thrill that shot through him. Here in the dark he could enjoy Oliver’s touch without anyone noticing or caring. He stepped closer, but Oliver patted his buttock and pulled away.

    “That’s the wrong person,” Oliver quipped lightly. “Ah, there you are, my dear,” he purred, having obviously found Vanessa. There was some rustling in the dark and then a soft, fragrant shape was pressed against Nick.

    “Oh,” Vanessa said softly. She squirmed, and Nick forgot his disappointment over Oliver moving away. He bent his knees and pressed his hips into Vanessa’s soft bottom. He gave a little rub and a slight moan escaped him.

    “Oh,” she said again, and the wonder and uncertainty combined in her voice hit Nick hard and his heart was suddenly pounding in excitement, his cock hard. The transition had been so quick he ached from it. He hadn’t been this aroused from a simple touch in a very long time. Was it the thought of Vanessa’s innocence? Her trust in them? More likely simple anticipation. He’d seen the fire in her. Now he wanted to taste it—to possess it and be consumed by it.

    Vanessa made a little distressed sound and started to move away. Her steps were clumsy and Nick could tell that Oliver was blocking her retreat.

    “Don’t,” Nick rasped. He reached out and put his hands on her hips, holding her against him. “Please don’t.”

    “Open the door,” Oliver demanded. “It’s too dark. I want to see you two.”

    “No,” Vanessa gasped. “They’ll see.”

    “Who? There’s no one up here but we three.”

    Oliver’s argument was sound, but Nick wanted it dark for reasons of his own. “No,” he said. He wrapped one arm around Vanessa’s waist and with the other found Oliver’s arm. “No. Leave it be. I like the dark.”

    For a moment they all stood still, their harsh breathing cutting the air. There was heat arcing between them, and Nick felt like the conduit. He was burning up inside. Giving in to temptation, he leaned down and breathed in Vanessa’s scent. His nose found her hair and he followed the curve of her cheek down to her neck. When he put his mouth on her sweet-smelling skin she whimpered.

    “Kiss me, Vanessa,” Oliver whispered. “Please.”

    Her neck arched under Nick’s lips as she tilted her head up, and he nibbled on the taut tendon along the side. He felt her tremble under his hands. And then he heard it. Heard the sound of their lips meeting, the gentle sounds of a sweet kiss. His fingers tightened on Oliver’s arm and he pulled Vanessa closer against him.

    “Have you never been kissed before, pretty Vanessa?” Oliver murmured.

    “I…yes, yes, I’ve been kissed,” she stammered breathlessly.

    “Not really kissed,” Oliver said. His hand brushed Nick’s cheek as Nick nibbled on Vanessa’s ear. Oliver pulled his hand back, and it hovered near Nick’s face for a second before he brought it back again and finished the caress, just a fleeting touch. Then he must have used his other hand to caress Vanessa’s cheek. She sighed and tilted her head as if leaning into his hand.

    “What does that mean?” Vanessa asked softly.

    Nick pressed his finger against the corner of her mouth. “Open up,” he whispered. “Let Oliver taste you. And you can see what love tastes like.”

    “Love has a taste?” she whispered skeptically. He liked the feel of her mouth moving against his finger and he slid it along her lower lip, outlining it. His breath caught when her tongue dashed out to lick her lip and found the pad of his finger. She gasped lightly and he slid the tip of his finger into her mouth, just a little, and then dragged it over her lip as he took it out, pulling her lip down slightly.

    “It has many flavors,” he told her kissing her cheek down to her jaw. “But I don’t think we’ll get to all of them tonight.”

    “Why not?” Nick was amused by the haughty tone in her voice, as if she were affronted that they had the temerity to withhold something from her.

    Oliver laughed. “We don’t have the time or space to do things properly here,” he told her. “But what we share tonight will make you crave another taste, I promise.”

    “I think it is you two who crave, not I,” she said coolly. She tried to slide out from between them, but neither he nor Oliver budged an inch. There was no way she could move.

    “Why are you angry, little dove?” Oliver murmured. “Don’t fly away.”

    “I am not angry.” Her words said one thing, her voice another.

    Nick was confused. What had they done? “Don’t play games,” he told her roughly. “Speak plainly. If you don’t tell us what we did wrong, we won’t know not to do it again.”

    She stilled between them. “Is it that easy?” she asked incredulously. “Just tell you, and you won’t do it again? 

    You are very unusual men if that is all it takes to mend your ways.”

    “Mend what ways?” Oliver asked patiently.

    Vanessa sighed, clearly defeated. “You seek to make me crave you. Why? What do you want from me?”

    Her question was like a blow to Nick. He hadn’t realized what it must be like for her. Did she have no friends, no lovers, who wanted her just for herself? Was she so accustomed to being used and deceived she could no longer see the obvious? “You. We want you. Like this.”

    He turned her face to his with two fingers on her jaw and pressed his lips to hers. In the dark he missed, his lips only half covering hers, but she drew in a sharp breath and it gave Nick the opportunity to slide over her open mouth and lick inside. He didn’t kiss her like she was an untried virgin, but as if they were already lovers. Some instinct told him that was the way to have her. Not with kid gloves, but with assurance and vigor. Vanessa wanted to be craved, not wooed. She wanted to be possessed, not have a man ask permission with delicate kisses. If they wanted this to work, and right now Nick desperately wanted this to work, then they couldn’t afford to give her time to have second thoughts.

    Vanessa responded as he’d known she would. She opened her mouth and let him in, and once she’d learned how to kiss him back she battled to dominate the kiss. He didn’t let her, and he could feel how his mastery aroused her. Her breath was quick on his cheek, her heart pounding beneath the arm he had wrapped around her, as she moved restlessly between them, seeking more but not sure how to get it.

    She tasted like champagne and sweets. Her mouth was small, her teeth straight and smooth against his tongue. He wanted to lift her up and throw her down on the nearest soft bed, mount her and fuck her until she admitted he owned her. He wrapped his hand around the back of her head and held her mouth to his, breathing her air and drinking her desire until she whimpered.

    It wasn’t until Oliver put his arm around him and buried his hand in Nick’s hair and forcibly pulled him away from her that Nick realized how rough he was being. “I’m sorry,” he gasped. “Damn, you just…you feel so good.”

    Oliver kept his hand in Nick’s hair, although his hold was gentle now.

    “How do I taste?” Vanessa asked, as breathless as he was.

    “Taste?” Nick asked stupidly. He was having a hard time thinking with Vanessa in his arms and Oliver’s hand petting him like that.

    “Do I taste like love?” she asked. “Did I do it right?”

    Nick found her hand pressed up against Oliver’s chest and he dragged it down between his own legs. He pressed her palm against his erection. “Yes, you did it right. Feel how right.” He thrust into her hand and held his breath, waiting to see how she’d react to his crudity.

    She cupped her hand around him and her fingers explored the length and width of him. He groaned and grabbed her skirt, trying to yank it up.

    “Nick,” Oliver said roughly. He grabbed Nick’s wrist, stopping him. “Don’t.”

    “Do,” Vanessa said, her voice unsteady. “I want you to touch me.”

    “Damn me,” Nick murmured. “Yes.”

    “May I kiss you again, Vanessa?” Oliver asked. He sounded hesitant, which was so unusual for Oliver in these situations it momentarily took Nick’s mind off getting under Vanessa’s skirts.

    “I wish you would,” she responded with an ingrained politeness that made Nick smile. Then she added, “Just like Nick, please,” and Nick began pulling up her skirt again.

    Jen: (*fans self*) You also write some sci-fi and contemporary romance. Do you like the variety or do find yourself pulled back to regency and/or menage subgenres?

    Sam: I find myself pulled back. I love sci-fi and contemporary, don't get me wrong. And I think I have a pretty good voice in both. But my first love is historical romance. As for menage, the only menage series I have is Brothers in Arms. I wrote one contemporary m/f/m menage-Play It Again, Sam-but that's was an exception to jump start a new series at EC. I don't see myself writing another menage series anytime soon. When I think of a m/m/f relationship, it's always within the confines of the Brothers In Arms world. When that changes, well, we'll see.

    Jen: What are you working on next?

    Sam: I have a couple of new projects in the works. I've recently signed a contract with Bantam for a new mainstream Regency historical series called The Saint's Devils. The first two books, The Devil's Thief and Tempting a Devil, should be out at the end of this year. I'm very excited about this new series, and this new direction in my writing career. I've also co-authored an alternate history steampunk series (historical and sci-fi mixed together-I love it!) with Mari Freeman that we're hoping will be picked up soon.

    Jen: Do you get to go to many conventions? Have you ever had a geeky-fan moment meeting another author?

    Sam: I try to get to two or three conventions a year. I'll be at the Romantic Times Booklovers' Convention in April, possibly the RWA convention in July, Authors After Dark in August, of course, and a great little writers' con called The Writers' Police Academy in September. At my first convention, RT in Houston back in 2007, I met Kate Douglas my first night in the bar. She took me around and introduced me to people and I ended up sitting at a table with Kate and Robin Schone having drinks and talking books. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. And the next night I met Kate Duffy, who was with Kensington and probably one of the most powerful editors in romance at the time, and we had drinks and a great conversation. Oh, and I met Charlaine Harris in the elevator, lol. I swore at that con that I would try to attend as many as possible.

    But that didn't really answer the question. Um, my geeky fan moment was meeting Lee Child at Book Expo America, which is an industry convention. He was signing books and I gushed about how much I loved him and had my picture taken with him. It's on my website. I'm such a dork. And when I met Jessica Andersen and then asked her to introduce me to J.R. Ward at RT in 2010. Another geek moment also immortalized on my website.

    Jen: What are you looking forward to most from AAD in New Orleans?

    Sam: The workshops at AAD last year were some of the best workshops I've ever given or attended. I'm really looking forward to more of the same this year.

    Samantha is generously sharing a copy of Love's Surrender to one lucky winner.  Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. To learn more about Samantha and her work, be sure to check out her website.

    Read more »

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    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Review: Pack and Coven

    Reviewed by Jen
    Harry is an independent werewolf, who has no desire to join a pack. But the local female alpha has different ideas. After her husband gets carted off to jail, she tries to force Harry to step up. He doesn't have many options, until June steps forward.

    June is a witch, but her kind keep their existence a closely guarded secret. In fact, she has hidden behind the disguise of an old woman for years. She and Harry have been close friends, but he had no idea about who she really was or what she really looked like.

    The story basically follows the pair as they first try to escape, and then try to hide from the pack. During their time together, their long-standing affection turns into more. There's some sex to spice things up and there's some shifter violence too. But try as I might, I just couldn't connect with this story. Maybe it's because it was hard for me to believe how quickly Harry was able to shift his feelings from his elderly friend to the sexy witch he wants to get busy with. Maybe it was the way June kept acting like an old lady throughout the first half of the book, worrying about her housecleaning and clucking over bad language.

    I don't know. The relationship just didn't feel real, despite the characters' history. The villain was one dimensional. The coven members came off as clumsy and stupid. They weren't likable. The pack wasn't likable. And the ending was rushed.

    I'll give the author credit for an interesting and original take on the origins of her witches. But this book was just not a good fit for me. 2 1/2 stars.

    *ARC Provided by NetGalley

    Click to purchase: Amazon
    Pack and Coven
    by Jody Wallace
    Release Date: February 20, 2012
    Publisher: Carina Press

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    Sunday, February 19, 2012

    Review: The Tattooed Duke

    Her job as a writer is the most important thing in Eliza's life. But she hasn't had many stories published in the paper lately. The scandalous return of the Duke of Wycliff might change that. Her boss has given her the assignment to get the gossip on Wycliff --and put together a titillating article-- or consider her career as one of the so-called "Writing Girls" to be over. She accepts the challenge and decides to go undercover as a maid in his household.

    Wycliff has been away from London for many years, exploring the world.  He's traveled the seas, been to exotic locations, and experienced different cultures. The stories of his exploits are legendary. Now that his father is dead, he must take over the dukedom, but his passion still lies in exploration. More than anything he wants to return to his travels and become the first Londoner to journey to Timbuktu and back.

    As a maid, Eliza has unfettered access to the duke and she quickly begins amassing information for her column.  But she never expected the attraction that begins to burn between her and Wycliff. As a relationship grows between them, she must weigh her ambition with her growing feelings for her subject... because her scandalous articles are wreaking havoc on his already tenuous reputation.  Add to that, a nefarious man from her past, the duke's financial troubles, and his jilted ex-lover and things grow even more complicated. 

    I liked the story overall. Eliza is spunky and it doesn't take long for her conscience to catch up with her.  Wycliff is sexy and worldly and free thinking. I was happy to find a heroine who was not a prim miss --one who works hard to take care of herself and direct her own life.  However, I did have some issues.

    I felt like the amount of time it took Wycliff to figure out Eliza's identity was ridiculous.  In addition, I thought the character development was only slightly beyond superficial.  Other than a desire to escape the confines of London and to indulge his wanderlust, we don't see much depth to Wycliff. We do get a better glimpse into who Eliza really is, thanks to the unveiling of a major event in her past. But speaking of which, the resolution to Eliza's personal obstacle to their relationship was dispensed much too easily.  And there was no sex until the very end. 

    This is book three in Maya Rodale's Writing Girls series.  And while some of the previous couples are secondary characters, this works very easily as a standalone.  3 1/2 stars.

    *ARC Provided by NetGalley

    Click to purchase: Amazon
    The Tattooed Duke
    by Maya Rodale
    Release Date: February 28, 2012
    Publisher: Avon

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    Saturday, February 18, 2012

    Review: Love's Surrender

    My goodness, there is quite a bit of steam stuffed into these 100 pages! The story follows former soldiers Oliver and Nick as they seduce the virginal Vanessa into a threesome. The men have been sharing women for quite some time, but they have never acknowledged that there is an attraction between them as well. Once Lady Vanessa accepts their advances, however, that begins to change. And the sensual possibilities among the three of them are endless.

    OK, the sex was hot. Especially when Nick and Oliver give into their feeling for one another the first time. I actually was drawn more to their relationship with one another than anything Vanessa had to offer. It's not that there's anything wrong with her, but they have only known her for a few days. The entire span of the story takes place in less than two weeks --and I'm just not a subscriber to the insta-love thing. But Oliver and Nick have been together for years. Their relationship was much easier for me to believe and accept thanks to their history together.

    The menage wasn't the most believable true-love story for such a whirlwind affair, but I definitely enjoyed it for a little naughty fun. 3 1/2 stars.

    *Book provided by author for review

    Click to purchase: Amazon
    Love's Surrender
    by Samantha Kane
    Release Date: December 7, 2011
    Publisher: Ellora's Cave

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    Friday, February 17, 2012

    My Favorite Books of 2012

    I'm approaching my "Best of" post for 2012 a little differently than I did last year. Instead of trying to stretch my brain at the end of the year to recall which books I loved best --perhaps months after I read them-- I'm keeping a running post this year that I will update as we go along. They're listed by the month of publication.


    by Kristen Callihan
    It's part historical, part paranormal, part faerie tale and all good. This original take on the Beauty and the Beast theme was a big winner for me at the beginning of the year. It appears to be just a marriage of convenience between Miranda (the daughter of a merchant) and the enigmatic Lord Archer... but it's so much more. Our hero, Archer, is dark and mysterious. He wears a mask covering his face and he is deliciously tortured. The heroine is strong and loyal and the perfect woman to help tear down his walls and save him in every way that matters.

    Click to purchase: Firelight

    by Darynda Jones
    This third installment in the Charley Davidson series is easily the best yet. It's action packed, sexy and so funny! If you're not familiar with the series, Charley is the grim reaper and a PI. She is irreverent and snarky. And she is in love with Reyes, someone --er-- more than human. Theirs is a rocky road, but it's so great to watch them stumble toward each other. A great twist at the end of this story has me panting for book 4.

    Click to purchase: Third Grave Dead Ahead 

    by Jennifer Estep
    I was really worried when I finished Spider's Revenge. After all, that book resolved the major conflict facing Gin Blanco throughout the course of the series. It was the perfect swan song... the logical conclusion to Gin's story. But then Jennifer Estep delivered this: the best book yet in the Elemental Assassin series. The story follows our favorite assassin as she takes her little sister on vacation and learns that the Spider never truly takes time off. It's fast paced, emotional and unpredictable. Very, very good.

    Click to purchase: By a Thread


    by Thea Harrison
    As much as I loved Dragon Bound and Storm's Heart, this latest edition of the Elder Races series is officially my favorite of the bunch. It centers on Khalil the djinn and his unlikely relationship with Grace, the young Oracle raising her sister's children. It's not a big, epic action book. It's a love story. It's sexy and it's romantic. Khalil is a fabulous hero. Harrison doesn't even try to make him human, and perhaps that is part of the reason why he is so captivating. I'd recommend this for fans of the series, but it would still be enjoyable for new readers.

    Click to purchase: Oracle's Moon

    by Stacia Kane
    I want to kick myself when I think about the fact I almost gave up on this series during the first book. Because it is now one of my top UF series of all time. This book proves once again what an amazing talent Stacia Kane has. She has created a heroine who is fundamentally broken in a way that may not ever heal. And Kane stays true to that, never giving in and simply fixing her. Here we see Chess trying to just be happy, now that she has accepted her love for Terrible. But they have many more twists and turns --and obstacles to overcome. Throughout the story, I feel what Chess feels. I watch her running toward her own destruction and basically turn my insides into something resembling a pretzel. But I couldn't put the book down and I mourned it when it was over. (Not to mention, I think I may be in love with Terrible, myself.)

    Click to purchase: Sacrificial Magic


    by Abigail Roux 
    The Cut and Run books are, hands-down, my favorite m/m series.  And this book proved that Abigail Roux has what it takes to knock my socks off, even without longtime writing partner Madeleine Urban.  It has such fleshed-out characters, they almost feel like real people I know. There is tenderness, rocking-hot sex, action, danger, mystery and humor.  This story brings Ty and Zane to a whole new level in their relationship, while incorporating characters from the Urban & Roux book Warrior's Cross... a genius idea that pays off in spades.  If you want to give m/m a try, start at the beginning of this series. If you're already a fan, I promise you, this installment does not disappoint!

    Click to purchase: Armed & Dangerous

    Lethal Rider
    by Larissa Ione
    If you asked me before I read this whether I thought I'd ever find pregnancy sex, sexy, I would have given you an unreserved "no." But Larissa Ione manages to do it here. And the sexy times are only a small part of what makes this book so good.  The world-building is amazing, the characters are engaging, and the plot kept me on the edge of my seat.  This is easily the best installment in the Lords of Deliverance series to date. Ione makes it even better as she incorporates her fantastic characters from the past.  It's really, really good.

    Click to purchase: Lethal Rider


    by Jeaniene Frost
    Part of me will always hold a soft spot for my beloved Cat & Bones, but the last few books haven't really jumped out and grabbed me like the older ones.  I am happy to report that the magic I have missed is firmly in place with this Vlad spinoff.  Vlad is a sensational hero; cocky without ever being a dick to his heroine. The pacing is great and the sex is HOT.  Fans of the Night Huntress world won't want to miss this one.  And I think it would be an easy jumping in point for new readers as well. 

    Click to purchase: Once Burned

    by Elizabeth Hoyt
    I didn't just love this book because it had a virgin hero.  Or because he was a mild-mannered school-master by day and a masked vigilante at night. It wasn't just the off-the-chain sexual tension or the uber-hot lessons in seduction. It was all of those things and more that made this historical romance a book that I could not put down.  I loved watching the stoic and repressed Winter break out of his shell as he fell in love for the first time.  (*swoon*)

    Click to purchase: Thief of Shadows

    by Michelle Willingham
    This is another story made amazing by a fantastic hero.  I say all the time that I am a sucker for a tortured hero and that's true, but some are done better than others.  And Callum is done right!! He spent the past seven years in captivity. His torture ravaged his body and stole his voice. But the kindness showed to him by his captor's betrothed saved his sanity. Once he becomes free, he never gives up on the woman who touched his heart and changed his life. Go buy this book. Seriously.

    Click to purchase: Tempted by the Highland Warrior  


    Stars & Stripes
    by Abigail Roux
    I debated with myself about adding this one since I already have one from this series on the list. But the God's honest truth is that I loved this book so much that I couldn't live with myself if I left it off. The feel is very different than Armed & Dangerous. There is external conflict, but this is so much more a romance.  I am so invested in Ty & Zane and in their relationship and I feel like this book is a payoff on all the drama up to this point.  The sex is as hot as ever.  And it made my heart all mushy. Excellent.

    Click to purchase: Stars & Stripes


    by Anna Campell
    I am such a sucker for a good Beauty & the Beast story.  Jonas Merrick is such a wounded and broken, scarred hero.  Branded a bastard and living a solitary life, his heart is awakened by the beautiful, innocent Sidonie. She agrees to give him seven days to seduce her, in order to clear her sister's gambling debts. There is no way either of them can know how deeply they will change each other's lives forever.  It's sexy and it pulls on the heartstrings.  A fantastic historical romance.

    Click to purchase: Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed

    I'll keep adding as the awesome books come in. Please share your 2012 favorites in the comments below!

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