Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: Velocity

Reviewed by Jen
 
I haven't always been comfortable with everywhere Amelia Gormley has taken Derrick and Gavin.  When I started the series, there was barely a whiff of where these two would end up sexually, and suffice it to say, they ended up outside of my comfort zone.  I read book two, Acceleration, and realized they were entering the BDSM zone and then had a decision to make. Keep reading the series or write it off?  The thing is, Gormley did such a good job making me invest in the characters, I had to keep going. I had to see how their story would end.  And while their brand of kink still doesn't do it for me, I am glad I chose to see it through.

The past two books followed these two men as they began their journey into relationship and ramped things up to a fever pitch. We've seen their failings and weaknesses, hunger and joys.  And this final installment is all about whether they'll have their happily ever after, and what it might look like.  Among other things, that includes finding out Gavin's HIV status and dealing with his horrible ex.

The story moved pretty fast. I read it all in one sitting.  What I liked about it is that the relationship is really evening out.  The last book had these guys consumed with sexual fire. And while the sex is a vital part of their dynamic here, the focus is really more on trust and commitment.  Derrick is a lot less emo.  Gavin is (somewhat) less neurotic.  And the power between the two of them felt a lot more balanced. One of the things that really bothered me about Acceleration was that I felt Gavin held all the cards.  Maybe it was in part because he dominated Derrick in the bedroom, but in other ways too.  Here, Derrick got to take the reins some, both sexually and with emotional empowerment.  I needed to see this balance to feel better about their future.

The sexual element focused less on the humiliation factor and more on the pain than the last one.  Take that as you will. Neither appeals to me.  But I do acknowledge that the author uses the dominance and submission as a tool for these two to work out their emotional issues.

When all was said and done, though, I was satisfied with the conclusion. I think I'd recommend the trilogy to contemporary m/m romance fans, especially if you think BDSM is hot.

Rating: B

*ARC provided by author for review


Click to purchase: Amazon
Velocity
by Amelia C Gormley
Release Date: March 2, 2013

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Review & Giveaway: Island Bound

Reviewed by Shelly
 
I couldn’t wait to read this book. Just because I don’t review a lot of AA novels, doesn’t mean I don’t read ‘em. This is a story of a couple whose marriage has collapsed and is on the verge of divorce. Joshua and Christy have known each other since she was a teenager; he’s six years older. At the time, Joshua worked for Christy’s father. After getting close, this couple definitely had some ups and downs prior to and during their marriage.

After eight years of marriage, Christy has moved out of their home. Joshua decides that enough is enough when he gets the divorce papers three months later. It’s time to bring his wife home. What a great premise right? It wasn’t until the last chapter that I started getting interested in this story.

These two had a lot of growing as a couple to do. I never understood what Christy saw in Joshua other than his looks and same with Joshua’s feelings towards Christy. Basically, Christy came across as a spoiled little rich girl who resented those, including her husband, around her. Joshua came across as a guy who’s trying to get the girl, but his motivation confounded me. I don’t know if he was more afraid of failure or of losing Christy. I so wanted to enjoy this story but the description of this marriage was so very formal and I didn't understand what would change once the Island get-away is over.

I mentioned that it wasn’t until the last chapter when I started liking these characters and unfortunately by then it was too late for me. There was a sex scene in this one with an adequate mention of ‘channels’. But again, I think I could have appreciated it more if I cared for the characters.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: C

*Book provided by publisher for review


Click to purchase: Amazon
Island Bound
by Kiru Taye
Release Date: January 16, 2013
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
The author is giving away a randomly drawn $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter. Don't forget to leave your email address!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: A Devil's Touch

Reviewed by Shelly
 
They’re back and are burning up the pages. Ludovic and Diana have been married for three months.  She’s in her last month of pregnancy – you get the idea that they’re not the most conventional couple of their times – but hey, it happens.

Well, I’m happy to say that Ludovic has not changed a bit. He’s still up to his eyeballs in love with Diana and that’s a good thing because Diana is feeling the ungainly effects of her advanced pregnancy. Even better, she’s still a strong woman, not willing to fall prey to Ludovic’s charm without a little bit of attitude.

I really enjoyed the glimpse – and may I say tease – into Ludovic and Diana’s marriage. For those of us who want to know - the sex scenes where much more explicit than the last story which I think is appropriate for Ludovic’s nefarious deeds (he’s no saint) and where they are in their relationship. There were some old friends who made appearances along with some new friends that I hope to see in the next installment.

If you enjoyed any of The Devil DeVere series, pick this one up – you won’t be disappointed.

Happy Reading folks!

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
A Devil's Touch
by Victoria Vane
Release Date: February 14, 2013

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Review: Lord of Darkness

Reviewed by Jen
 
It's been two years since Megs has last seen her husband.  She and Godric didn't marry for love.  Her brother knew his darkest secret --that he was the mysterious and deadly Ghost of St. Giles-- and used that information to blackmail him into the marriage.  Megs was pregnant and her fiance, dead. She needed a husband.  But sadly, she lost the baby right after the wedding and quickly went away to the country to convalesce.

Now she is back in London with two missions: to track down her lover's killer and to convince her husband to give her the baby she's always wanted.  Neither task will be an easy one.

Godric has never gotten over the death of his first wife, Clara.  Moving on --even with his new wife-- feels like a betrayal of his first love.  But when he finds out that Megs is plotting to ferret out a killer in St Giles, he agrees to father her child, to keep her distracted and to keep her safe.  Of course, despite their best intentions to stay true to the memories of their lost loved ones... they end up falling for one another.

I liked Godric a lot. He loved his Clara so much.  It was nice to see a hero who isn't a rake. He isn't an alpha. Not a virgin. Not a brother's best friend. Not even a duke or an earl.  He's 37 years-old.  He's known love and loss and sacrifice.  He fights for the downtrodden. And he mourns.  He's so serious and sad, but he hasn't lost his humanity. He generously welcomes Megs and her entourage into his home.  He gives her everything she needs and he never lets her down.

Megs has a harder time letting go of her past than Godric does.  Maybe it's because he is older and more mature that he can allow himself to open his heart again.  But though she is a little slower on the uptake, Megs does come through.  The love story is sweet and the sex is satisfying.

There is also a scintillating set up for the third Ghost's story, featuring Artemis and the Duke of Wakefield.  I am intrigued in her and her twin's story --and I am excited to find out what Wakefield's single-minded focus is.

Another solid installment from a great series.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Forever via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Lord of Darkness
by Elizabeth Hoyt
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Forever

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: Beauty Awakened

Reviewed by Jen
 
This book was almost great.  It pains me to say that, because the parts of it that were good were very, very good.  But the two issues I had with it really took away from my overall enjoyment.

This second installment in Gena Showalter's Angels of the Dark series features Koldo, and though I wasn't that excited to learn he was getting his own book, he ended up a really good tortured hero.  He was raised by a mother who hated him and cut off his wings. Then he was abandoned to be tortured and kept by his evil father, until he was eventually freed to fight on the side of the angels.  He has never known love or tender emotions from anyone.  But that changes when Nicola enters his life.

Nicola and her twin sister were both born with heart problems and both face an uncertain future.  But when Koldo comes across them in the course of another mission, he can't ignore how he is drawn to Nicola. He makes it his task to free her from the demons who foster her illness and to teach her how to fight their influence.  And in the process, they fall in love.

I think what I liked best about the story is how effortless the romance is between Nicola and Koldo.  I can see how and why they fall for each other. There is no great misunderstanding or hurtful mistake one has to forgive the other for.  Koldo just wants to be loved and Nicola is the balm to his tattered soul.  It hit my romance happy buttons all over.

Unfortunately, the book failed big time in the sexual arena. Usually Showalter's books really deliver with the sexy times. Here, I reread their first sexual encounter three times and I'm still not sure what the hell happened.  It was that vague.  Then, when they finally do seal the deal (a measly one time) again, the language is vague and totally unsatisfying.

"Nicola," he said, and finally --finally-- claimed her...
Hesitantly, he leaned down and kissed her again.  Softly, gently.  It didn't take long to renew their passions, and then, oh, then, they wed in body, as well.  She yielded to him without reservation, accepting him, burning for him, loving him, enfolding him in her arms, crying his name, begging him for more, nipping at his lips.

They wed in body?? Who is this author and what has she done with Gena Showalter's sex scenes?  This was a total missed opportunity, since Koldo is a sexy virgin hero who is just exploring his sexuality for the first time.

My second big issue?  It's a little too... religious isn't the right word.  But it felt dangerously close to having a "message."  The angels have been a part of the Lords of the Underworld series for some time now, but not until this book did it have more of a traditional ring for me.  Essentially in the sense that it is faith in the Most High that can make or break you in this book.   It felt like PNR with a little bit of an inspirational bent.

The romance was really good though, as was the construction of the characters.  I felt like I knew them and I was 100% invested in them. So much so, I might have given it an A, had it not been for the disappointing sex and the feeling that I was supposed to find God when it was all said and done.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Harlequin


Click to purchase: Amazon
Beauty Awakened
by Gena Showalter
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Anne Calhoun

Hey, Baby…What’s Your Type? 
by Anne Calhoun 

Ty Hendricks, the hero in my latest release, UNCOMMON PLEASURE, is a very specific type of man. He’s a former Marine struggling under a terrible burden of guilt, a loner, working on oil rigs for thirty days at a stretch, then drinking and sleeping his way through the available female population when he’s not off-shore. He loves to dance, and bears more than a passing resemblance to Sawyer from Lost. He’s emotionally shut down, and he’s teetering on the edge of becoming exactly what he never, ever wanted to be.

Sean Winthrop, the other hero, is Ty’s mirror opposite. He’s a Naval Academy graduate with a brilliant military mind who’s on leave after a tour in Afghanistan. He got his twenty-two Marines home safely, and is solidly grounded in family and duty. He avoids dancing at all costs, and while he’s perfectly capable of handling the physical and mental demands inherent in being a grunt, he’s much more comfortable in the library. His only regret in life is breaking up with the woman he had a passionate, whirlwind affair with before he deployed.

Which one would you choose? Does the dark, tormented soul appeal to you, or the more cerebral, thoughtful geeky type? I’m a sucker for Sean, frankly, but so far reader response is coming down heavily in Ty’s favor. Comment with your favorite hero type to win a copy of UNCOMMON PLEASURE! 

This contest is closed. The winner is Kassandra.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

My Most Anticipated Books of 2013

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I am so late on this post!!  I've already read several of my big OMG upcoming releases.  Like Kim Harrison's uber-awesome Ever After.  That one came out back in January.  Elizabeth Hoyt's Lord of Darkness. Kristen Callihan's Winterblaze.  Patricia Briggs' Frost Burned. Jennifer Estep's Deadly Sting (don't even talk to me about Owen, y'all.)  But I refuse to believe I am too late.  Some of my most anticipated books of 2013 I'm still, well, anticipating.  Here's a look ahead.

Lover At Last, JR Ward. (Releases: 3/26.)  This one is the motherload folks.  Frankly, my numero uno, wet-my-pants most anticipated book of the year.  And it is only a month away.  I put in a vacation request at work for the release day months ago.  I kid you not.  This 11th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series finally gives us the Qhuinn and Blay love story that JR Ward has been teasing us with for years.  I want this book like I want my next breath.  It is going to epic.  (Or I may never get over my disappointment.)

Twice Tempted, Jeaniene Frost. (Releases: 3/26.)  I absolutely adored the first book in Vlad and Leila's love story.  I've been a longtime fan of the Night Huntress world and this new romance has really given the series an infusion of excitement.  I thought it was awesome that Frost chose not to rush an "I love you," in the last book.  The wait will make Vlad's fall even sweeter!

Wrong Ways Down, Stacia Kane. (Releases: I have no idea and it's killing me!!)  I absolutely love the Downside series, and that is thanks largely to Terrible, one of my favorite heroes of Urban Fantasy --or frankly, any genre.  This is the novella from his POV, set between Unholy Ghosts and Unholy Magic.  Just reading the excerpt on Kane's website makes me want to read the whole series again.  This was supposed to release on Valentines Day, but now there's no word on when it's coming out.

Cloak & Silence, Sherrilyn Kenyon. (Releases: I have no idea and it's killing me!!) Another novella that was supposed to be out on V-Day and got pushed back.  This is Kenyon's first stab at m/m and it features two guys from her League series.  It takes place around the same time as the second half of Born of Silence.  I am very excited for this one.

Touch & Geaux, Abigail Roux. (Releases: April 8.)  The Cut & Run series is not just my favorite m/m series, it's one of my favorite series in romance. Period.   The last book was so happy and wonderful and in this next book, Roux promises to rip the rug right out from under us.  I am terrified.  And if I thought I could get this book today, I would camp outside of Roux's house in a pup tent.  --Yes, really.

Heart of Obsidian, by Nalini Singh. (Releases: June 4.) It's got to be Kaleb's book, right??  Fans of Singh's Psy-Changeling series actually stalked the author's website just to see the cover on this one.  (I may have been one of those people.) The cover art did not disappoint.  It's still another couple of weeks, though, before we get the blurb. Marketing genius, ladies and gentlemen. But it could only work on a series this well loved.

Entwined With You, by Sylvia Day (Releases: June 4.)  This book was supposed to be out in December, and knowing it was coming soon was the only way I could reconcile myself to leaving Eva and Gideon when I finished the last book. They are so dysfunctional and angsty and sexy.  It's one of the only contemporary romance series I read.

Styxx, Sherrilyn Kenyon. (Releases: September 3.) I'll admit, I've been kind of on the cusp of quitting the Dark Hunter series, but this 23rd installment has the potential to bring back the magic of the early books.  It's supposed to be kind of a companion piece to Acheron, telling his twin brother's story.  I've missed Ash and the Olympic/ Atlantean mythology.  Plus, Styxx looks like a tortured hero and Kenyon does those so well!

Dark Lycan, Christine Feehan (Releases: September.) This is the first book in the Dark series trilogy featuring Skyler and Dimitri.  I have been waiting for these two to get together for so long, that I honestly had given up on Feehan ever writing their story.  Dark Lycan isn't actually "their" book. That will be Dark Wolf, out in January, but I am intrigued/ anxious about how this all will play out.

Burned, Karen Marie Moning. (Releases: I have no idea and it's killing me!!) I had serious reservations about Dani being able to sustain the lead role in not one, but three books in the Fever world.  But Iced was really, really good. And while I really don't want to see a Dani/ Ryo pairing,  KMM has never let me down.  However this plays out, I have no doubt that I will be satisfied when it's over.  That's the highest compliment I can pay an author.

What about you guys?? Which books are you dying for in 2013??

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Review: Winterblaze

Reviewed by Jen
 
There are so many things I like about the Darkest London series. I love the dark atmosphere and gothic feel of these books.  The characters are engaging and interesting.  The sexual tension and payoffs satisfy.  Each story maintains the tone and core characters, but they still manage to stand apart from each other... each with very different kind of romance.

This book features Poppy, the third and eldest of the Ellis sisters.  Unlike the first two book, our couple is already an established one here. Poppy and her husband Winston have been married for 14 years, and they are very much in love.  But at the end of Moonglow, Winston was attacked by a paranormal being, which opened his eyes to a world he never knew existed.  A world his wife is very much a part of.  As long as he has known her, she has hidden not only her ice elemental abilities, but the fact that she runs an organization which polices the rogues of the supernatural community.  It's too much for him to handle, and walks out on her.

As the story begins, it's been three months since the two of them have been apart.  Each is miserable without the other, but neither knows if they can forgive the other for the hurt caused.  A demon puts an end to their separation when he threatens Winston to get to Poppy.  Without spoiling the details, Poppy and Win must work together to meet the demon's demands or their lose something more precious than either is willing to sacrifice.

It's not often I can get really invested in an established couple. I'm really more a fan of that first blush of attraction and feeling you get with a new relationship.  However, I thought Kristen Callihan really made this love story sing.  First of all, I loved the flashbacks.  We do get to see the beginning of this relationship.  But even better is the way that the roadblocks between Winston and Poppy in the present create a believable threat to their future.  The sexual tension is still phenomenal (something that is usually the first thing to go with a married couple story) and I found myself rooting hard for these two to make it to the bedroom.

I liked both characters a lot.  Winston is not the paragon we first thought him to be and I like seeing his flaws.  By the same token, we find that Poppy's deceit isn't as cut and dry and we thought either. She tried to do the right thing, and through the course of the story we learn how her choices were taken away.  Everyone has made mistakes, but all for honor or love.

I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to address the secondary characters.  Archer, Miranda, Ian, and Daisy are back. (And we learn more about the sisters and what makes them so special.) But the real scene stealers are Mary, the Ghost in the Machine, and Jack Talent, Ian's shapeshifting valet.   Clearly, they are the focus of the next book, Shadowdance, and their setup is amazing. Their scenes here have me foaming at the mouth to read their story.

I'd say this book is about on par with Moonglow for me. I liked it a lot, though a shade less than I loved Firelight.  Maybe Firelight will just always be my favorite. But this is very, very good and I would definitely recommend it to fans of the series.  And for those of you who haven't tried these book yet... what are you waiting for??

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Forever via NetGalley


Click to purchase: Amazon or Enter to Win
Winterblaze
by Kristen Callihan
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Forever

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Deleted Scene & Giveaway: Winterblaze

Guys, you know I love Kristen Callihan's Darkest London series. Book three, Winterblaze is out tomorrow!  To whet your appetite, I am excited to share a deleted scene from the book!!  Check it out below the blurb. And after that, enter the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win your own copy of Winterblaze. (US Only please.)

Once blissfully in love . . .

Poppy Lane is keeping secrets. Her powerful gift has earned her membership in the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals, but she must keep both her ability and her alliance with the Society from her husband, Winston. Yet when Winston is brutally attacked by a werewolf, Poppy's secrets are revealed, leaving Winston's trust in her as broken as his body. Now Poppy will do anything to win back his affections . . .

Their relationship is now put to the ultimate test.

Winston Lane soon regains his physical strength but his face and heart still bear the scars of the vicious attack. Drawn into the darkest depths of London, Winston must fight an evil demon that wants to take away the last hope of reconciliation with his wife. As a former police inspector, Winston has intelligence and logic on his side. But it will take the strength of Poppy's love for him to defeat the forces that threaten to tear them apart.
Now check out the deleted scene. It's a sexy one!! Don't say I never gave you anything.

Read more »

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Tangle of Need

Reviewed by Jen
 
This was not the best romance the Psy-Changeling series has to offer. Not by a mile. But I really still enjoyed the book.  There were so many other really great things going on, mostly with the characters we have already grown to know and love.

OK, let's talk about the romance first.  We first met Riaz back in Andrew & Indigo's book.  His life sucks in a big way, since he met his mate and she is already happily married to someone else.  He's come back to the den to lick his wounds and take solace in the pack.  Our heroine is Indigo's aunt, Adria.  She has finally broken up with Martin, her longtime partner in a highly dysfunctional relationship.  She was too dominant for him and he made her pay for the disparity with passive aggressive cruelty. Now she is starting over, but is afraid to risk her heart.

There's an attraction between Riaz and Adria right away, but Riaz feels like being with another woman is a betrayal to his true mate.  He punishes Adria for his attraction to her and constantly tries to put distance between them. It made him hard to like.  Eventually, they go the "friends with benefits" route, but feelings start to creep in, which ends up terrifying the both of them.

Riaz isn't a bad guy. He's stuck in a miserable position, but he treated Adria like garbage for a good chunk of the book.  It didn't make me a fan of their relationship. She was always trying to guard her heart, and who could blame her? She KNOWS another woman was meant for him.  It's also hard for the romance lover in me to know these two can never mate, even with the poignant reminder that humans have love without mating all the time.  Even though you know they'll end up together, it was just kind of a bummer for the most part.

Where the book shines, though, is when it puts its focus on the secondary characters.  We get to see a lot of Hawke and Sienna as they enjoy mated bliss. Their mating ceremony was amazing. It made me cry!  We also get a healthy dose of Mercy and Riley --another one of my favorite couples.  And we get to see them all come together as friends. The scenes with Riley and Hawke are among the best in the book. I laughed a lot. I felt so connected to these characters and their lives.  It was great storytelling.

And my review wouldn't be complete without a shoutout to the ongoing Psy storyline involving Kaleb, the Arrows, Pure Psy and the ghost.  The ending was phenomenal and I can only hope and pray that Kaleb's book is next! I can't wait.

P.S. "Pupcub" is now my favorite word. Ever.

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon
Tangle of Need
by Nalini Singh
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Publisher: Berkley

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Review: Perpetual

Reviewed by Shelly
 
This is my second novel for this author and I couldn’t wait to read her latest creation.

Mercy Green is immortal. You would think that’s enough to keep her out of the limelight and away from getting discovered but no, not her. Mercy doesn’t really mind being immortal because she’s had enough time to come to grip with that means. What really keeps Mercy from enjoying life is that she just doesn’t care anymore. After many long years – centuries of living a boring and unvaried life, she’s become jaded and apathetic towards humans. She has no interest in finding any other immortals such as herself either. How long can she go one not caring about anything or anyone? Anyone except Adam, that is.

Adam is a just another human who Mercy works with at the local Birchwood Creek animal shelter. With his appreciative and optimistic love of the world around him, Mercy finds herself drawn to the unfettered kindness that Adam projects. He’s a nice guy who does what he had to do so he can also spend time doing his real passion – painting.

This was a hard read for me. It’s told in first person, and for me that always poses a challenge because of the limited view that I get into other characters. Along with that, I thought the first half of this book was slow. It’s Mercy and only Mercy. Due to the choices she’s made you would think it would be hard to feel pity for her, but I found myself doing exactly that. She’s led an extremely lonely life in a world where there are many people around her. What a hard thing to impose on oneself.

Adam is a great guy who seems genuine in his affection for Mercy. But he’s had a troubled past and I wonder how much influence his past will have on his relationship with Mercy. Maybe the second book will answer that question for me.

It’s not until Mercy is attacked at her home do things finally start getting interesting and worth the read. She finds herself the pawn in a game where she doesn’t understand the rules or even the participants. While going about her business one day, in walks some other immortals, like Nick. What a character he is – looks like a teenager but has the mouth of an 80 year-old man in a room full of candy stripers ready to give a sponge bath - total perv. I thought the secondary characters were really interesting and fun to get to know. There’s Emily, the 1980’s teenager with the strength of Goliath; and Ben the leader of the pack. They provided a good rounding to the story. The bad buy is totally awesome and does some things that made my jaw drop in awe.

In the end, the story was a good one and I can’t wait to see what the second story has in store.

Happy Reading folks!

Rating: B-

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Perpetual
by Michaela Debelius
Release Date: January 7, 2013

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: Night Resurrected

Reviewed by Jen
 
I'll be honest.  I didn't really want this book.  I didn't like the idea of Remy with Wyatt, and frankly, I wasn't ready for him to move on from his wife and kids.  I started grumbling about it when I saw the writing on the wall in the last book.  But while I did have some problems with the romance, I did eventually get to the point where I was ok with Wyatt moving on from his old life.  That doesn't mean I still didn't have some issues, but I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would.

The story begins with Wyatt tracking down Remy, who is making her way to Envy.  The stone her grandfather gave her is becoming a beacon for the zombies, so their journey is difficult.  The problems are exacerbated when Dantes the dog gets hurt and Ian the bounty hunter joins their party.  The story follows their trip as well as the continuing efforts of the Strangers as they try to get their hands on Remy and what we learn is the so called "mother stone."

Let's talk first about what I liked about the book.  It felt like a real return to the old vibe of the series.  It was more about the post-apocalyptic and zombie stuff than the dolphins and cultists and the Atlantis mythology that were so prevalent in the later installments.  I LIKE the zombies and the apocalypse stuff so that was a definite win.  It reminded me of the early books of the series in that way.  I also really liked revisiting the couples from the early books.

What I didn't like... in a word... was Wyatt. I understand his angst. I really do. But he was such a dick to Remy.  It was not her fault that he was attracted to her, but he sure did make her pay for it.  Every time he felt a connection to her, every time he gave in to the temptation to touch her or kiss her, he would slap her down.  And that went a long way to sapping the large pool of sympathy I had amassed for him from the loss of his wife and kids. 

Joss Ware did give me a great surprise that went a long way helping both him (and me) move on from his loss.  I liked how she helped ease his pain... and I liked the the emergence of his gift.  I thought Remy was a fairly good heroine, though even with the healing mojo she received, I felt like she got over her abuse a little easily.

The overall story arc is moving along, but it feels like it is drawing to a close. I am just hoping we get an Ian book before it's all said and done. I still feel like there is a redemption story in there, even if it's not with the woman I had envisioned.

Rating: B-

*ARC Provided by Avon


Click to purchase: Amazon
Night Resurrected
by Joss Ware (Colleen Gleason)
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Avon
  

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: Ascending Hearts

Reviewed by Shelly
 
I enjoy fairy tales as much as a fat kid loves cake. I can't get enough of them because they inevitably make you use your imagination and the lessons they teach aren't a bad perk either. This story tackles 'Jack and the Beanstalk' where Jack is still a young lad, Jack's mom loves him and the Giant is super mean - ah, the good ole days.

'Fee-fi-fo-fum, 
I smell the blood of an Englishman, 
Be he live, or be he dead 
I'll grind his bones to make my bread'.

The differences (outside of the m/m content) in these stories are vast, so be prepared. Jack lives in a town that thinks he's the devil incarnate because of his red hair. It's so bad that his father left his mother because of it - or so his mother would have Jack believe. I think it was because of her 'sparkling' personality but hey, who really knows? One day, Jack comes home to find that his precocious cow and only friend had been sold by his mother to the local butcher. So Jack makes a deal with the butcher for his cow but to repay this debt, Jack will need money and he doesn't have any. The only thing left to do is climb the beanstalk because that's where the treasure is - at the castle high above.

At the top of the beanstalk lives Rion, who isn't a giant by any stretch of the imagination. Instead he's just a guy who's the guardian of his family's treasure. It's a lonely existence for him but as he's chosen this as his duty. What can he do but to stay the course and protect what his siblings have chosen not to?

All of this sounds like an interesting story, and I'm not sure why all the pieces didn't connect for me. I liked Jack just fine, but I just couldn't get into his plight. I also had a problem with his past sexual relationship with his sister's husband. After having grown up so close to his sister, what made that relationship go so south? There's always a reason for someone's actions and I didn't know a lot of Jack's whys. Lots of questions.

Rion was a likable kinda a guy. Just trying to keep his word to his father and do what he believes is the right thing. I didn't understand Jack's insistence to not listen to that, and actually I started to resent Jack for being so uncompromising in his desire to 'get away'.

I didn't feel the chemistry between Jack and Rion. I know that they liked each other.  I could tell they did by the amount of sex they had, but I just couldn't feel it.

In the end, it was an okay story for me, but it certainly didn't make me want to read further in the series.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: C

*Book provided by author for review 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Ascending Hearts
by Keira Andrews & Leta Blake
Release Date: January 2, 2013
Publisher: Ellora's Cave

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review & Giveaway: The Naked Truth

Reviewed by Shelly
 
Single mom Abigail Reese is working at a strip club to provide for her young daughter. One night while she’s working, she sees her one and only one night stand, Josh Carter, in the audience. It turns out that Josh remembers her too. Josh doesn’t waste any time reacquainting himself to Abigail but he inexcusably gets her fired while he’s at it. This is a very nice and sweet short story about accidentally finding the one who got away and all the good things that could happen.

While in law school Abigail got pregnant and didn’t finish in order to raise her child. I liked Abigail; I admired her dedication to her daughter and always putting her first. I would have liked to know a little bit more about her especially why she chose a private pre-school when she didn’t have the funds to support the tuition.

Billionaire Josh Carter, although he could have any woman he never forgot Abigail and after their unconventional reunion was focused solely on her. I would have liked to know a little bit more about his thinking when he first met Abigail.

Because this is a short story, I can’t give away too much but I will say that if you’re looking for a short read this would be a good choice. It’s mentioned that they have sex but we don’t get to read about it which I was okay with because of the short time frame.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B-

*Book provided by author for review


Click to purchase: Amazon
The Naked Truth
by Lacey Wolfe
Release Date: January 18, 2013
The winner of the giveaway is Erin!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review: Beautiful Bastard

Reviewed by Allison
 
Chloe Mills works for the most frustrating, expectant, gorgeous man ever, Bennett Ryan. He is a beautiful bastard. He should be grateful as she's the only assistant who has stuck around for over a week. Even as she tries to climb the corporate ladder, he makes life hell for her day after day.

And then it gets worse.

One day while presenting a project, Bennett can't take it any more and completely ravishes her - not that you'll find her complaining. Until she gets back to her desk that is. She berates herself over and over and swears it was a one time thing. Until the next day...up against a window... in his office... where anyone could look up while walking on the street and see. HOT. However, after this one, he's such a bastard and so smug that she swears up, down, and sideways that this is IT. No more.

Needless to say, as much as these two hate the lustful control they have over each other, they absolutely cannot keep their hands off each other. In the car, at the office, in the elevator, you name it. But it all changes when they head to a business conference together - it's certainly not all business and the tone of their relationship begins to change as they realize what's between them is not just their white hot passion.

Not only were these two burning up the pages, but I absolutely loved how they came into themselves growing as people and accepting the inevitable fate of their love. He was definitely an ass, but isn't it better when they realize they don't have to be? That she loves him anyway?

Between the panty hoarding, the whenever/wherever sex, their sweet, developing relationship and the reality of the still existent corporate "glass ceiling", this book was hot AND kept my interest all the way until the end.

Rating: A

*ARC Provided by Gallery Books via Netgalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Beautiful Bastard
by Christina Lauren
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Gallery Books

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Review: The Djinn's Dilemma

Reviewed by Jen
 
This story started out really strong for me.  I am pretty sure it had a lot to do with the hero.  Rukh is a sexy half-djinn assassin who ends up falling for his mark.  Sarah is nothing like the scum he is usually hired to kill.  She is a good person with a bright aura. And he realizes that he must figure out why she has been targeted if he going to be able to save her life.

Ruhk is very, very sexy. He's also broody, with just the right amount of angst.  I like that Sarah is willing and able to not only accept her attraction to him, but to reach out and grab what she wants.  The sexual element between these two burns up the page and I was 100% on board until a little past the half way point of the story.  That's when I felt like it kicked into overdrive.

Once Rukh decided to come clean, the pacing started to feel too rushed. Sarah accepted everything so quickly and made arrangements so fast it made my head spin.  Then, the climax happened without nearly enough build.  And the big reveal on Sarah's heritage felt like it came out of nowhere.  I felt like this story could have been so much better if it had been more developed, especially in the second half.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, because I did.  Especially the sexy times. I just think a little more of a build toward the events in the conclusion could have gone a long way to making it better.

Rating: B-

*Book provided by author for review


Click to purchase: Amazon
The Djinn's Dilemma
by Mina Khan
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: Changes In Autumn

Reviewed by Shelly
 
As an ex-cop working in animal control, Autumn Reynolds is used to some strange animal situations. But when one of those animals, a werewolf, shows up at her secluded mountain cabin with a gun shot wound, all of Autumn's training and instincts are put to the test. Connor Grayson is Alpha of his pack but after suffering a life threatening injury he finds himself on the run from one of his own.

This novella is my first from Charles and although I liked it enough, I'm still left wondering about a lot of the 'whys'? It felt like a day in the life of Autumn and Connor.

Autumn is a no-nonsense ex-cop who values animals and had to give up her career because of an on the job injury. Now she's recouping and trying to come to grip with the changes in her life. I enjoyed the promise of what Autumn's character could be, but I was disappointed because I didn't know more about her. I didn't buy that she could be a good cop with the qualifications that cops have and not question more of what was happening to her.

Like Autumn, I though that Connor's character had such great promise, but I felt short-changed in finding out more about him and his pack. The sex between these two was early and frequent.

Overall, I liked this novella but I just didn't think it was the complete story of the individuals that made up this couple.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: C

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon

Changes in Autumn
by Renee Charles
Release Date: October 24, 2012
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

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Review: Dark Secrets

Reviewed by Jen
 
Haidyn thought he had what it takes to be part of the Arcane Guild. His gifts lie with magic, but when he first tried to join the Guild, he just was not strong enough. Too ashamed to return home a failure, he struck out on his own, and eventually ended up using his abilities to become a prostitute.  That was six years ago.

His life isn't exactly happy now, but he has become wealthy in his trade.  Things are... passably ok, until he finds out his long lost love has married one of his most depraved clients.  He wants desperately to save her from the misery he knows the lawman will inflict. But does he have the power to help her?  And will she even want him in her life once she finds out what he has become?

This book is hard to read at times. While Haidyn does not actually have sex with his clients, he must endure some demeaning and disturbing things to get the job done.  And while the lawman does not physically get to act out his sick fantasies on him, seeing their sessions play out on the page is uncomfortable reading.

This is book two in Shona Husk's Arcane series, though the only thing it has in common with book one is the world building, which is pretty interesting. It has that alternate-world fantasy feel that seems both futuristic and distant past at the same time.   Unfortunately, the romance element doesn't hold up.  Haidyn and Anisa have a history, but nothing in their present shows me any feeling between them.  It's more like she has no other choice to get away from a horrible situation.  That's not much of a love story.  They're not even together very much at all.  Anisa is the real victim in the story. First Haidyn abandoned her, then she got married off to a monster.  At least Haidyn chose his own path.

It was ok.  I preferred Dark Vow to this one.

Rating: C

*ARC Provided by Carina Press via NetGalley


Click to purchase: Amazon
Dark Secrets
by Shona Husk
Release Date: February 18, 2013
Publisher: Carina Press




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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: Kiss of Snow

Reviewed by Jen
 
I really hoped this book would be good.  There was so much build-up. What has it been, nine books??? Book after book of a snarly Hawke and an equally snarly Sienna.  Sexual tension.  A forbidden relationship.  After all of the teasing, it could have been so anticlimactic.  But is wasn't. (*Swoon*) I loved this story.  It met all of my expectations, kept me glued to the pages, and left me feeling utterly and completely satisfied.  Need more convincing? Keep reading.

As the story begins, Hawke is at his breaking point.  He needs sexual release, but there is only one woman he wants.  Unfortunately, he is still convinced that Sienna is too young for him. She's got other ideas.  She decides to go for broke and demands that he fish or cut bait. She shows him what he's missing, hoping that he finally decides to take what he wants.  And boy, does he.

Hawke still struggles with his feeling throughout the book.  He still feels a bit like a dirty old man for pursuing a 19 year-old (though I was never really clear on how old HE is. I'm thinking early 30s?)  Beyond that, he feels like she deserves things he can't give her. He is convinced he met and lost his mate as a child and that there is no hope he'll find that connection again.  In the meantime, Sienna is struggling with her growing powers. We finally learn what it means to be an X-Psy and why she is so dangerous --to both herself and others.

The dance between these two is just so great. I'm not usually a fan of a big age difference, but the tension and delivery on this romance pushed that aside.  It's so sexy and exciting and emotional.  I love Hawke.  He tried so hard to do the right thing, denying himself what he wanted.  But when he finally let himself have it --have her-- it was Sofa King hot to watch his passion unleash.  Sienna is a completely worthy heroine.  So full of fire (*snicker*).  The pairing is just made of awesome.

In the meantime, in true Psy-Changeling fashion, there is plenty of other conflict afoot.  Members of the Psy council are trying to crush the changelings.  We have to figure out, along with the Changelings, who the real enemies are.  In addition to a great battle, there's a sweet b-romance between Sienna's uncle Walker and Snow Dancer healer, Lara. (I would have liked a little novella or even a book on these two.) And! We rule out one of my contenders for the identity of the Ghost.

This is my new favorite in the series.  I don't know how Nalini Singh will top it, but I am happy to keep reading to see how she will try.

Rating: A


Click to purchase: Amazon
Kiss of Snow
by Nalini Singh
Release Date: May 31, 2011
Publisher: Berkley

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: Captured


Reviewed by Jen
 
Kenya Wright continues her Vampire Kings series with this second installment that feels just a little dirtier than the last.  It picks up right where the story left off in Escape.  Brie has discovered that her family has moved on and she has left with Samuel, determined that their relationship is only temporary.  But he has other ideas. Her blood is changing him from a Prince into a King and she is the only queen he wants.  He can't imagine letting her leave him.

The decision gets put on hold, however, when the Silent King sends out his guard in force to search for Brie. They almost kill Samuel's adopted mother in the process. From then, Samuel and Brie only grow closer and closer as they work side by side to evade the King's men and figure out why they want her so much.  Of course there is more to it than that, but I don't want to give away any of the big reveals.

I don't know that I enjoyed this installment quite as much as the first. I think my biggest hiccup came with Samuel's uncle Ian and the way he sits on the fringe of the sexual element of Samuel and Brie's relationship.  There is definitely a voyeuristic thing going on there more than once. And while that might wet somebody's whistle, it squicked me out a bit.  It also bothered me some that the story went on to villainize Brie's husband.  I felt like this was done to "make it ok" that she moved on. But I was already ok with it.  This just made it too easy, belittling the struggle she has already faced in letting him go.

I did enjoy learning more of the backstory of the Silent King, Ian, and even Samuel's mother.  Plus, we get a bit of an origin story on Brie and those who share her bloodline.  The book is surprisingly dark in places,  which gives it a little more depth, as well.

The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, which always frustrates me a bit. But I am interested enough to want to keep reading and see where it goes from here.

Rating: B-

*ARC provided by author for review


Click to purchase: Amazon
Captured
by Kenya Wright
Release Date: February 6, 2013

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Review: Loose Ends

Reviewed by Shelly
 
This is a perfect example that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, yes, I'm guilty of that too. I’m really hoping that Loose Ends is the beginning of a series because it’s a good beginning.

That being said, these few pages introduced Lauren and Jonathan – a couple of twenty-something’s who went to college together. Lauren has had a crush on Jonathan since meeting him but during their years as friends, boyfriends would come and go but Jonathan was never one of them.

At a class reunion, Jonathan and Lauren run into each other and sparks fly. The big question to be answered- will this time be different? I certainly hope so. For those of you who might be expecting an HEA, don’t.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B

*ARC provided by author for review


Click to purchase: Amazon
Loose Ends
by Lucy Felthouse
Release Date: January 16, 2013
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: A Fallow Heart

Reviewed by Shelly
 
Have you ever read a story and just feel the dread in your spirit that when the story ends you’re going to still want more? That’s the way I felt when I read this story. Talk about an emotional roller coaster, but I couldn’t stop turning the pages wanting the ride to go on and on.

Since they were children, farm-boy Cooper Gerhardt has always had a thing for rich girl Jo Ellen Rawlings. Ten years ago, he had a single glorious moment with her but then tragedy hit and that moment went away. Cooper only wants those around him to be happy and has never forgotten Jo Ellen and he doubts that he ever will. Jo Ellen is so eaten up in her guilt that she’s let that be the marker by which she lives her life. Watching these two finally collide was like pulling off a bandaid. You know it’s gonna hurt but it’s gotta be done.

Although the basic premise of this story is not new – poor boy loves rich girl-- the way that Kage tells this story makes it stand out from the rest. I’m the world biggest fan of a well thought out plot. From exposition to denouement, this story had me going. The development of the characters, not just Coop and Jo Ellen, but all of the secondary characters was well done. If you’re thinking that there is a single ‘perfect’ character in this book, I’m here to tell you that each of them has faults and fears, and that’s what makes for an interesting read.

Coop and Jo Ellen were wonderful as individuals and even better as a couple, each has their own burdens and crosses to bear, and I couldn’t choose which character I liked more because they were both extremely likable and I felt for each of them. I must give props to Kage on this – thank you for not once mentioning her ‘long flowing locks’ or his ‘hard rock body’. I also want to say THANK you for letting Jo Ellen see Coop at the water well in that lip-smacking scene of Coop trying to cool off from that hot sun. Oh my, I do declare.

Emma Leigh, Jo Ellen’s sister, was as tomboyish and cantankerous as they come but could not have been a better sister. Oh, if we could all be so lucky. She knew when to push and when to back down. Their brothers Grady and Caine were – well brothers, you know how they can be, surly but lovable. I would really like to see more about the town folk of Tommy Creek especially B.J. Gilmore, Cooper’s friend. She’s got some secrets and I think I know who they might be about but…

As this isn’t classed as erotica I didn’t expect explicit sex scenes and I didn’t get any. I’m not saying they weren’t good, because they were. They wouldn’t make you blush, but they wouldn’t leave you wondering what happened either.

In the end, I didn’t want the story to end. I look forward to more from this author. Really well done.

Happy Reading folks!

Rating: A

*ARC provided by author for review


Click to purchase: Amazon
A Fallow Heart
by Linda Kage
Release Date: December 27, 2012
Publisher: Secret Cravings Publishing

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Review: Stand-In Star

Reviewed by Allison
 
Cultural anthropologist, Holly McCartney, is flying into LA from Sydney, Australia in order to attend the Academy Awards in her sister Daisy's stead. The popular actress died in a car accident and is up for Best Supporting Actress. However, Holly is the opposite of prepared for the amount of paparazzi attention (damn you, Lady Gaga, for making me think of your song every time I see that word!)  She is close to completely freaking out the moment she steps off the plane - only to be saved by a dangerously handsome man that claims to be Daisy's friend, Nate Devlin. Nate just wanted a look at the sister who abandoned his friend and only showed up when she was nominated for an award, so he was fully prepared to hate her. However, the minute he saw her, even though he actively disliked her, he also couldn't help but be drawn to her... and ended up saving her. For Daisy's sake of course.

After convincing her to not only take a ride from him, but to stay at his house for her safety, they're stuck with their awkwardly growing desires and a complete misunderstanding about the drama of the sisters' divide.

The tension was written very well in this story, both emotional as well as sexual. Even though the whole timeline was under two weeks, the author took good care of her characters, sharing what needed to be shared at exactly the right time, not revealing the truth until the story called for it. In such a short time, Holly went through such a roller coaster of emotions, it was almost hard to read. Self doubt, guilt, anger, grief, joy, love, determination - but it also made her more human and more relatable.

I also really enjoyed Nate's sister, Bec and her adoring boyfriend, because I love when the couple in question has a solid couple they can use (consciously or subconsciously) as an example.

Even though I'm not a fan of fast timetables nor of the Hollywood stereotypes, this story was well written, emotionally fulfilling, and an absolute blast to read. I will definitely be on the look out for more books by Ms. Johns!

Grade: B+

*ARC Provided by Carina Press via NetGalley


Click to purchase: Amazon
Stand In
by Rachael Johns
Release Date: January 7, 2013
Publisher: Carina Press

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Review: Between

Reviewed by Jen
 
This book was a hot mess. I hate to be so unkind, but it's just the truth.  The premise sounded great.  Hell, there's a dragon on the cover. I love dragons.  But it was just a disaster.  Here's the blurb:

Vivian Maylor can’t sleep. Maybe it’s because she just broke up with her boyfriend and moved to a new town, or it could be the stress of her new job at the hospital. But perhaps it’s because her dreams have started to bleed through into her waking hours.

All of her life Vivian has rejected her mother’s insane ramblings about Dreamworlds for concrete science and fact, until an emergency room patient ranting about dragons spontaneously combusts before her eyes—forcing Viv to consider the idea that her visions of mythical beasts might be real.

And when a chance encounter leads her to a man she knows only from her dreams, Vivian finds herself falling into a world that seems strange and familiar all at once—a world where the line between dream and reality is hard to determine, and hard to control…

OK. The book started out as advertised.  We're even introduced to a sexy potential love interest.  Not only does Vivian recognize Zee from her dreams, the enigmatic bookstore owner recognizes her the same way. In fact, he's been painting her image for years.  There's a mysterious, villainous woman who is trying to steal objects that are part of Vivian's birthright.  All this, as Vivian begins to get clues to the mysteries of her past and her family heritage.

But it all starts to go really wonky when Vivian starts passing between worlds.  There is a dreaming world, a waking world and a between (which apparently is where all the bad stuff happens.)  In addition, there are two versions of multiple people --a dream version and an awake version, I guess.  This all got so confusing.  We follow Vivian as she passes between worlds and meets other versions of Zee and her smarmy ex-boyfriend Jared.  Zee is still named Zee, but Jared is named Gareth. Why, I don't know.  Both men have dreamed of her. But if you dream in the dream world, are your dreams the awake world?  Is there another version of Vivian?  Or is she the same Vivian when she dreams?  Are the two Zee's different versions of the same man? What about Jared/ Gareth?

How real is the between?  There is this ongoing thing about Vivian knowing whether she was awake or asleep by seeing if she is wearing her necklace.  But it really didn't help me understand.  People are injured and killed in the real world by what happens in the between.  Vivian is worn out by her exertions there, but that makes me question --if you are made exhausted by your sleep, how do you rest?  Are we back to dreaming in the dream world?  It makes my head hurt.

And then, there's the rape.  I honestly don't know if that happened in the dream world or the between. If it was "real" or not.  But the physical trauma followed Vivian out of the "dream."  So who raped her? Was it Jared? A dream Jared? One different from Gareth?  Is he responsible? All of this just sort of gets swept away, and barely acknowledged.  But the main character was raped.  Wasn't she?  It doesn't seem like a small question.

None of this even touches on the larger story surrounding the Queen and her endgame.  She was so one dimensional in her evil plan.  And the ending?  No romantic HEA, though I don't entirely understand why. It seems like the door is open for more story, but no way am I going to touch a book two.

Rating: D

*ARC Provided by Ace

Click to purchase: Amazon
Between
by Kery Schafer
Release Date: January 28, 2013
Publisher: Ace

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Star of Wonder

Reviewed by Shelly
 
If you’ve not read the genre description (BDSM & Fetish), please do because it’s there for a reason, and let me tell you folks, Payne means it.

I didn’t read any of the other installments in the series, so I can’t say how this relates or compares to those. What I can tell you is that I didn’t feel as if I missed anything while reading this one.

During a party for military personnel, Chicago Bazillionaire Dante Tiere serendipitously meets Lieutenant Celina Kouris. For Dante, it’s lust at first sight. For Celina, it’s complete and total resentment for his playboy status and wealth. This might be surprising, but it goes downhill for these two from here. You could feel the sparks and that’s part of what works for me. Celina possesses utter dislike for people like Dante – she’s got some issues she has to work around to get where she needs to be. On the other hand, Dante sees this beautiful person that he can’t wait to get to know better.

I really enjoyed the writing of Payne, her dialogue is very smart and witty, and I particularly liked Celina’s. Having grown up in a house full of men, Celina does have a bit of a potty mouth, but not anything that we’ve not all said ourselves. And in her defense, she is Navy. She definitely had her faults, but who wants a perfect heroine? I know I certainly don’t. I have to mention my thoughts on her resentful attitude towards Dante outside of the bedroom – I can’t blame the woman, considering her background and let’s face it – she just met the dude.

Oh Dante, Dante, Dante... he’s such a man’s man, alpha male, hoorah kinda guy who really just liked the smart girl in the plain Navy uniform. He was a great match for Celina; she was his someone who he could share his thoughts without coming off like a wimp and even better, someone who would show her how to be a better her. Gotta like that.

Celina’s friends, Lieutenants Eve Pascal and Reiley Young were true wing-men/women when it came time for Dante to start handling his business with Celina. What a riot they were! Her brothers Nik, Dylan and Cam – holy cheese and crackers Batman! – are they getting their own stories? Say yes, please.

In the end, I really liked this story a lot. It was a quick read and kept me entertained all the way through. I’ll admit that a couple of the sex scenes are long and I did find myself getting a little uncomfortable with some of the paddling and flogging but other than that – all good. Nothing wrong about that. I didn’t judge, just handle ya business.

Last but not least, beyond the BDSM warning, I just saw this as a story about a couple who find that they like a little extra spice in the bedroom. Different strokes for different folks, now go get your kink on!

Happy Reading folks!

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Star of Wonder
by Angel Payne
Release Date: December 12, 2012
Publisher: Loose ID

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Review: Dirty Laundry

Reviewed by Jen
 
Adam is a young man dealing with serious problems. He has crippling OCD and he has just gotten out of an emotionally destructive relationship.  He's trying to navigate living on his own while trying to remain functional with his illness. It's a real struggle.

As the story begins, he is accosted by some homophobic bullies at the laundromat, when a muscle-bound cowboy swoops in to save the day.  Denver saw what was happening and put the hurt on the frat boys.  And somehow, though neither would have ever expected it, he and Adam end up getting busy inside the laundromat once everyone else was gone.

With his strength and dominant nature, Denver makes Adam feel safe like no one ever has.  And Adam's naturally submissive nature turns Denver on to the nth degree.  Though Denver never thought he would want a relationship, the more time he spends with Adam, the more that changes.

Adam is sure once Denver sees the depth of his neurosis, that would be the end of things. He wants desperately to hold on to the man who makes him feel so protected, one who allows him to let go and just feel.  But the truth must come out, and it turns out Denver has issues of his own.

I'm not a fan of BDSM, primarily because it usually makes me feel like the submissive partner is degraded.  And while it's still not my brand of kink, I can say this book never made me feel that way.  The D/s relationship was a central theme of the book (and there was some pain and bondage) but the author really did a good job of showing what Adam gained out of the relationship.  Denver never humiliated him, never treated him as less.  He was never, ever an asshole.  He treated Adam with love and respect at every turn.  And for that, I honestly could put away my dislike for the genre. It's still not my cuppa, but here, for these two particular men, done in this particular way, it didn't push my buttons.

Was it realistic?  I have no idea.  Could domination and punishment really help a man with mental illness get over his tics?  I want to say probably not.  And the sex in public didn't feel real for someone with Adam's issues.  In addition, I felt like the connection between these guys was really intense, really fast.  But overall, I did enjoy it.

Rating: B-

*ARC Provided by Riptide via NetGalley


Click to purchase: Amazon
Dirty Laundry
by Heidi Cullinan
Release Date: January 28, 2013
Publisher: Riptide

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: A Cast of Shadows

Reviewed by Jen
 
I am definitely a fan of this series, but I have to say I was surprised when I realized who the hero of this story would be.  We first met Brynmor in A Feast of Souls, and to call him an unlikely hero would be an understatement.  He bought his wife. He killed her lover and ate his heart.  He gave her child away.  Oh, and he's dead. (Did I mention he's dead?) And sharing the body of a wolf with the animal's permission.  Kind of hard to envision a happily ever after there.

Daraja is on a quest in the woods to seek her future when Brynmor's pack mistakenly believes she has killed one of their own.  Brynmor is taken with her and wants to help her prove her innocence to the animals who want her dead.  He presents himself as a normal man tasked with caring for the wolves, and an attraction begins building between them.  But it's only a matter of time before the truth of his situation comes out.

I won't get into more detail because I don't want to give the story away.  I will say that there were parts of the book that I enjoyed. I really like this world, though we only see it in a limited context in this novella.  It's interesting to see Brynmor evolve and finally let go of all the hurt and leftover angst from his previous life.  And there is a surprising amount of sexual tension going on for a dead guy who sometimes shares a body with a big dog.

I did have a little bit of trouble with how easily Brynmor was able to take human form. It didn't seem to gel with my understanding of how the whole body sharing thing worked.  And if he's using the animal's energy, it seemed like an awfully big drain for a long term arrangement.  I also felt like Daraja accepted the whole ghost thing rather easily.  I know the people in these stories are quite spiritual, but still...

Overall, it wasn't quite the hit for me that the two full length novels were, mostly because of the nature of Brynmor's existence.  But it was still an enjoyable read.

Rating: B- 

*ARC provided by author for review

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A Cast of Shadows
by Hailey Edwards
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Samhain

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: How Beauty Saved the Beast

Reviewed by Jen
 
These novellas are like little pieces of crack.  They entice me, they consume me, then when I am soaring on the high it gives me... it's over... and I'm left fiending for my next hit.  Which doesn't come for five long months.  I'm already getting the shakes.

First of all, if you haven't read How Beauty Met the Beast, start there.   You're lucky. You can read these two back-to-back.  For returning readers, this one picks up a couple months from where the last book left off.  Jolie has been training with Hauk and is now embarking on her first mission with the Underlight.   A near-death incident throws the two of them into an embrace that almost leads to more. From there, their relationship begins to evolve from friendship into something more.

Basically, this installment is all about how Jolie's feelings are changing and how Hauk copes with it. Yes, there is still action and violence, betrayals, magic, and secret cults.  But let's be real, people. This is about Hauk and Jolie. I want to see these two together so bad it hurts!!

Jax Garren has created this amazing, wounded, powerful, vulnerable hero with Hauk.  She doesn't pull any punches with his appearance though. He is horribly disfigured and she paints such a stark picture of his looks, there is no fooling yourself about how bad it really is.  Which makes it all the more poignant.  It makes you adore Jolie because she sees the man, not the scars, the piercings, and the tattoos.  We'd all like to believe we could do the same, but could we?  If we really could, the story wouldn't have the same kind of impact.

It's not perfect. I had a hard time with the misunderstandings on both sides.  But then I remind myself what a short period of time passed in these pages.  I just want them together, and I want it now! (*whimpers*) And May is so far away....

I couldn't put it down.

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Carina Press via NetGalley


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How Beauty Saved the Beast
by Jax Garren
Release Date: February 11, 2013
Publisher: Carina Press

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