Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: At Last

Reviewed by Shelly
 
The cover doesn’t do this story justice because Stone’s debut novel is so much more than just a day at the beach. I was completely impressed with the way the writing got me going from happy to sad to shedding a tear. After being unceremoniously dumped at the church on her wedding day, both of Susan’s best friends recognize that the only way to make her feel better is get away and go on the planned honeymoon. Kevin has been in love with Susan since the first day he met her in college, and the last thing he wants is to be alone with her on her honeymoon trip in the beautiful tropical Cancun. Can Susan overcome her past to enjoy a future with Kevin?

While in college, Susan and Kevin (along with Liz) became fast friends and have pretty much stayed that way except that Liz doesn’t like Kevin (not even a little bit). Back in the college days, Kevin let his feelings toward Susan show by asking her out, but she promptly dismissed him and even went so far as to make fun of non-jock-like body. She did concede to friendship and for that Kevin was grateful and happy. After college, Kevin’s moved away. He now lives on the other side of the country, but still corresponds with Susan enough that he considers her his best friend.

This is a hard review for me, because I didn’t like the heroine -- nope, not even a little bit -- but I liked the hero enough that he made the story completely worth it. I thought Susan was shallow, completely self-centered and just plain ole not nice. There wasn’t a lot said about the ex-fiancé, but I couldn’t really blame him for dumping Susan, just the way he did it. Here’s some of my rant on Susan’s callousness towards others: Kevin escorts her down to Cancun and never once did she think to tell him thanks for doing that; she allows Liz to verbally degrade Kevin even after Susan and Kevin share some intimate moments, Kevin didn’t man up either but that’s another story; Susan doesn’t know that her assistant Jill is married with a daughter – how do you miss the photos on the desk and the wedding ring on Jill’s finger? How am I supposed to feel sympathy and empathy for someone who clearly doesn’t care about anyone but herself?

Don’t worry - I’ve not let Kevin off the hook. But I sure did like him a lot more that I liked Susan. He’s the guy next door -- smart with the big heart. You know great things will happen to him, but he has to grow into his hotness. I couldn’t figure out why he loved Susan because her actions towards him were not lovable. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the way he developed from being a doormat (to both Susan’s insensitivity and Liz’s diatribe about his sexuality) into the man that Susan felt was deserving of her affections.

What I liked about the overall story was that it captured my attention and kept it – took me about a day to read. Never once did I think to put this book down and not find out what happens. The storyline was smart and the dialogue was on point. I found myself turning the page to see what’s going to happen to whom, because I just didn’t see it turning out well. But don’t worry HEA fans, Stone has you covered. The sex scenes were well done and I kept hoping for more of Kevin’s shirtless goodness.

If there’s a follow up, I really hope it’s for Liz and she gets knocked on her butt something good.  Something with Lance sounds good because I’m hoping she misjudged him because of his chosen career.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B-/C+

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
At Last
by Ella Stone
Release Date: April 6, 2013

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review: SEAL of Honor

Reviewed by Carrie
 
What is it about military men that get the blood pumping?

I will come right out and admit it – I am a sucker for a hot alpha Navy SEAL. Something about the combination of quiet strength, cocky confidence and unwavering need to protect all wrapped up in a body that is physically honed to perfection.

SEAL of Honor is the first in a new series by first time author Tonya Burrows and it’s a good one. Gabe Bristow is still ornery over having to leave the SEALs after an accident leaves him with a medical discharge. Floundering without the security of the Teams, his best friend Travis Quinn, also a former SEAL, convinces Gabe to join up with an A-Team-like group of men to rescue an American businessman kidnapped in Colombia.

To further complicate matters, the kidnapped businessman’s sister, Audrey, shows up to try to put her 2 cents in. It was a little odd that the reason they too her on was because she was fluent in Spanish when they already had a linguist on the team, but easily overlooked. There is a true progression of character for Audrey throughout the book. At first, I found her naïveté mildly annoying. For instance, when she and Gabe are surrounded by guerillas in the jungle and trying to escape, she was horrified that Gabe was going to kill a cow to cause distraction. Really? A cow was more important than evading death?

Fortunately, as the story progressed, Audrey put on her big girl panties and started to deal. By the end of the book, Audrey was no longer looking for someone to rescue her, but being proactive for herself. I liked that she was a good companion to Gabe. Her sweetness tempered all his stern childhood and military upbringing. The sexy scenes were a bit stilted, but I believe that will smooth out in later books. I also liked that their HEA wasn’t some long drawn out affair and I really hope that readers will get short updates about Gabe and Audrey later in the series.

Burrows does a nice job setting up the men for further books in the series. All of the men are outcasts from their former governmental-type jobs who, under the command of Gabe, begin to gel into a true unit by the end of the book. I’m very interested to see where the stories go, especially the badass explosives guy, Ian Reinhardt. Burrows hints to backstories of the men, and if you are a fan of tortured heroes, keep an eye on this series.

Grade: B

*ARC Provided by Entangled via NetGalley


Click to purchase: Amazon
Seal of Honor
by Tonya Burrows
Release Date: May 27, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Publishing

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Review: Valkyrie Slumbering

Reviewed by Shelly
 
My first VanHorn, but not my last and while it’s a novella it definitely drew me in. Kyra’s on a revenge quest. Her father’s been murdered and the need for justice is high with her. Along the countryside she meets Grim who has some (if not many) secrets and skill (both on the off the battlefield) and is on his own personal quest.

This story took about a chapter for me to get in to, but once I was in – I was on board for the adventure. I must give one single warning before going on. This is meant as the beginning of a series, and judging by this installment,they’re going to connect and more enjoyable if read in sequence. This one ended in a cliff hanger so it’s no stand-alone and I would definitely recommend sequential reading.

Kyra is a tough one – she has her feminine traits but she can kick some butt when she needs to. I liked her quite a bit but if I had my druthers I want to see more dialogue between these two. There are a lot of inner thoughts which is usually so one-sided, it’s from Kyra’s point of view. I can’t wait to read more about Grim. He’s the strong, unselfish and kinda chivalrous, in an ole school Viking way.

Best part and what I really liked about this story is the world building that VanHorn has started. The scenery and correlation to myth is vivid – really pretty awesome stuff and fun. So for that alone I can’t wait for the second story in the series. For such a short story, there are a few sexy times and while they were good (don’t judge) I think I would have liked to see this couple show some restraint. But hey – when in Viking land you gotta live everyday like it’s your last!

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B-

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Valkyrie Slumbering
by L Vanhorn
Release Date: March 2, 2013
Publisher: Inferno Publishing

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Welcome New Reviewers

It's with great pride and excitement that I introduce, not one, not two, but three fantastic new reviewers for the site.  I am stealing their info from the About Us section since you probably don't make it over to that page too often.  Please take a moment and say hi to Carrie, Jaimie, and Janell. Make them feel welcome!

Also, I want to say thank you to all of the amazing applicants who contacted me about the position(s). There were so many great responses.  You guys are the best.



Carrie cut her teeth in romance with V.C. Andrews and Danielle Steele but now welcomes everything from paranormal romance to historical fiction.  A lover of angsty reads, gratuitous swearing and tortured heroes, she is never without a book and only buys purses that are big enough to hold her kindle.

She resides in the Chicago area with her husband & two children.  She can often be found tucked into the corner of her local pub with a book and a beer.

Carrie joined Red Hot Books as an Associate Reviewer in May 2013.  You can find her alter ego on Goodreads & Twitter.  Her email is rottenbanana76@yahoo.com
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Jaimie is an avid reader who, after only reading true crime, mystery and thrillers until the age of 30, now reads and loves just about every type of book.  The Twilight series was her first experience with genres she previously refused to try and the book collection quickly spun out of control after that.

She lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her three kids and works full-time during the day in the field of Copyright Law.  Jaimie joined the blog as an Associate Reviewer in May 2013. You can find her on Goodreads & Twitter and you can email her at jaimiescrazylife@gmail.com
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Janell became a hardcore reader when she had a new baby and a Kindle app. Now she's That Mom, the one sitting in her car, reading a book on her phone, waiting to pick up her kid from preschool. Her love of romance novels is surpassed only by her love of cake. She mainly reads Contemporary and New Adult, although she's had long dalliances with Regency and Cowboy romances. She's also trying to write a New Adult book, so if you want to see her flail, ask her how it's going.

Janell joined the blog as an Associate Reviewer in May 2013. She lives north of Seattle with her husband and two sons and works really hard at not having a day job. You can find her on Goodreads, Twitter, or Google+ (Janell Sutherland) --Her email is janellsutherland@yahoo.com.

Review: Inferno

Reviewed by Jen
 
I was thisclose to dropping out on this series. I'm not usually a YA reader, but I make a few exceptions with authors whose adult series I enjoy.  Reading the Nick books seemed like a no-brainer since it is so intimately entwined with Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter books.  But the early installments were just too young for me.  The characters, their thoughts, the dialogue, even the way they were treated by the adults seemed even younger than their chronological ages.  It alienated me. It felt like there just wasn't enough growth.

I'm glad I gave it one more shot.  While this is still nothing like the Dark Hunter books in the romance department, I finally feel like we're seeing the characters evolve and mature.  There is a minimum amount of Cherise (who I have grown to truly dislike reading,) far fewer "gah"s, and less ruminating from Nick in general about being a misfit kid.  Now before you do too much celebrating, there is still a big old message (not even a little bit subtle) about being true to yourself and fighting bullies.  But still... improvement.

As the book begins, Nick is dealing with the revelation that Kody is not who she appears.  She may be, in fact, an assassin sent to kill him.  Of course, we the readers are privy to who she really is and why she is there, but this is a tough pill for Nick to swallow. He breaks up with her, feeling heartbreak for the first time.  Thankfully, the teen angst is only a small part of the book.

The larger arc centers on someone targeting both Nick and his father, trying to get to the Malachai mojo.  It gets a little complicated with all of the players. But it's got a good amount of intrigue and momentum.  What I liked about it, is that the series arc actually moved forward in a big way.  I felt like as much actually happened towards moving along the series arc in this book --as in all the previous ones combined.

There are a lot of cameos and shout-outs to Dark Hunter characters and how they fit into the big picture. There are explanations and flash forwards.  It's a fun ride. And Nick is so much less annoying.

I think the Epilogue is going to garner some mixed reaction.  It's clearly the set-up for the next book, but I hope it's not the subject of the entire installment.  For me, that would be a complete throwaway.  I won't spoil it, but IMO, it equates right up there with an entire book that's a "dream" and will have no real impact on the series as a whole.  But I will give Kenyon the benefit of the doubt and give it a try. After all, she came through in this one.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by St Martin's 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Inferno
by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Publisher: St Martin's Griffin

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

One More RT Giveaway

I've got one more giveaway of RT goodies for you. This one is for Accidentally Wolf by Erin Flynn and The Turning by Erin R Flynn. US/ CAN.

Special Agent in Charge, Seraphine Thomas, lives for her job at the FBI. One of the youngest female agents with her own team, she thrives in undercover work to make the city she loves safer. But Sera’s on-track life is thrown into chaos when she’s attacked during a bust gone bad and is left figuring out what it means to be a werewolf.

Right away, she learns that she’s more powerful and able to do things that she shouldn’t be able to do so quickly after her transition. The rules of her old life don’t seem to apply to much now that she’s a shifter, and knowing who she can trust is even more complicated.


When she’s transferred to a special branch of the FBI made up of paranormals policing others of their kind and given a promotion, things start looking up—until her abnormal level of power creates a list of enemies for her before she’s even learned who her allies are.


Graduate medical school, start competitive internship, don’t get cut from the program, become a surgeon. It was a great plan. One Kelly Murphy loved and had dreamed of most of her life… And it was blown to hell in a night with an uninvited bite.

Now she’s missing three days of her life, trying to handle her freaked out best friend and parents who called the police when she went missing, all as she realizes she’s not the same person she was before. She’s different. Like has FANGS different.

When HE shows up on her doorstep claiming to know what happened to her, Kelly’s not sure that makes things any less confusing. But at least he can guide her, right? Either way, she has a plan and a choice she didn't make won’t stop her… Even if she might have the urge to bite her patients from now on.


Read more »

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Review: Bear's Gold

Reviewed by Shelly
 
After leaving her putz of an ex-boyfriend, Riley Gold is going back home. She's had it with loser men and the only comfort she can handle right now is with her family. On the way home she has some car trouble (running into a tree doesn't help) and has to seek the help of strangers. She meets stranger and bear shifter Theo Kodiak after knocking on his door. Theo is raising his four year old twin boys in Den County. His wife had been dead for three years and the First Moon Festival is fast approaching where he hopes to claim a new mate; will he be able to keep Riley considering she's only human?

I've read a few of Hines stories in the past and while they've been okay, this one really sucked me in. This is a take on the Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Hines does a fine job with her storytelling. A preschool teacher, Riley has a quirky yet likable character. I found myself sympathizing with her and rooting for her to find where she belongs. She's a wanderer who can't seem to find a place where she's comfortable, can settle down and call home. After the immediate and mutual attraction that she feels with Theo, Riley thinks she's found that place, but then secrets are revealed and things start falling apart.

What a bear of a man Theo turns out to be! He's a good father and productive member of Den County. He also happens to drawn to Riley like a bear to honey, but he knows that despite their explosive chemistry she's leaving as soon as her car is drivable.

I'm not going to burst a bubble here, but there's no great adventure in this - no high emotions (other than love and happiness), anger or guns ablazing --and the bad guy isn't a bad guy at all, just a dude who's made some really bad decisions. Instead of action adventure, we're on a journey with Riley as she has to do what we all do - finding your happiness where you can.

There's a pretty hot and heavy sex scene that really burned up the pages and made me a tad bit jealous of Riley - oh, to have that kind of focus put on you, such bliss. And yes, in case you're wondering the twins steal every scene they're in, rambunctious yet adorable.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon
Bear's Gold
by Yvette Hines
Release Date: November 30, 2012
Publisher: Romance Management, Inc

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Associate Reviewer Wanted


It's with some sadness that I'm announcing Allison is leaving the blog. She's got a lot going on in her life and there's just no room for blogging right now. I still have the wonderful Shelly here to help me with all of my menage, erotica and BDSM needs. But I'd like to bring on another reviewer to help out too!

Primarily, I'd love to find a contemporary romance reader.  That doesn't have to be the only genre you review, but it would be a great help.  If you also like older YA, NA, f/f, romantic suspense or any other romance subgenre that I don't usually feature, I'd be happy to use that as well.

Do you review on Goodreads, Shelfari, or Amazon? Are you ready to jump into blogging --or to drop the responsibility of your own blog? If you're interested, fill out the form below and we'll take it from there. If not, I'd be grateful if you help me spread the word. 

*Update* I have had so many great responses, I am taking down the form while I sort through them. Thank you so much!

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RT Giveaway Number 2!

Here's the second giveaway I promised you. More of my RT goodies: The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson and Abducted by TR Ragan. This one is also US/ CAN.

The portal to an alternate world was the start of all her troubles – or was it?

When Eve Carpenter lands with a splash in the Thames, it’s not the London or England she’s used to. No one has a telephone or knows what a computer is. England’s a third world country and Princess Di is still alive. But worst of all, everyone thinks Eve’s a spy.

Including Major Harker who has his own problems. His sworn enemy is looking for a promotion. The general wants him to undertake some ridiculous mission to capture a computer, which Harker vaguely envisions running wild somewhere in Yorkshire. Turns out the best person to help him is Eve.

She claims to be a popstar. Harker doesn’t know what a popstar is, although he suspects it’s a fancy foreign word for ‘spy’. Eve knows all about computers, and electricity. Eve is dangerous. There’s every possibility she’s mad.

And Harker is falling in love with her.


Elizabeth Gardner (Lizzy) is seventeen-years old when she tells her parents she's going out with her girlfriends. Instead, she meets up with her boyfriend, Jared Shayne. As she walks home beneath an inky black sky, her perfect night becomes her worst nightmare.

Fourteen years later, Lizzy is a licensed PI known as the 'one who got away'. When she's not searching for runaway teenagers, working on insurance scams, or talking to her therapist, she's at the local high school teaching young girls to defend themselves. But her world is turned upside down for the second time after she receives a call from Jared Shayne. He's an FBI special agent now and he needs her help. Lizzy has no plans to get involved. Not until Jared tells her the kidnapper left her a personalized note
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Read more »

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Review: Any Duchess Will Do

Reviewed by Jen
 
You can't go wrong with the Spindle Cove series. This fourth installment throws together an unlikely pair, but it totally delivers on everything I have come to love about these books.  It's charming; it's sexy; it has superbly drawn characters; and I completely believed in the romance.

Griffin York is a wealthy and successful duke known more for his debauchery than anything else.  His mother is desperate for him to marry and produce an heir, but she is having no luck convincing him to give her a grandchild. So she takes him to Spindle Cove with an offer in hand. He can pick any woman there and she'll turn make her into a duchess inside of a month. If she is successful, Griff will propose; if not, his mother promises never to pursue the issue again.  Thinking himself quite clever, he chooses the least likely duchess he can find: a serving girl named Pauline.

Pauline has no social graces, but she works hard and cares deeply for her disabled sister. When Griff makes his offer, she decides to ride it out. He even sweetens the pot by offering her cash to foil his mother's plans. Unfortunately, neither counted on how quickly they would fall for one another.

Obviously, this is Pygmalion-esque, but there are other things going on to give it a fresh feel. Most notably, that includes the real reason Griff refuses to wed.  It's not a big shocker or anything, but his circumstances give his character much more depth --and make him very sympathetic.  True, he is an asshat at times, but it was never so much that I couldn't forgive or understand why he was acting the way he did.  Dare has crafted an emotionally fragile man who simply doesn't know how to deal with his own tragic loss.  And it's very satisfying to watch Pauline help him face his demons and allow hope back into his heart.

Pauline comes a long way in a short time, and I didn't completely buy that she would progress so much in just a few days. However, it was easy to push that away because I enjoyed the romance so much, I just wanted to concentrate on that.  The sexual tension is good. The payoff is hot.  --I loved that she wasn't a virgin and I equally loved Griff's reaction when he found out.

All in all, I really liked this one --and would definitely recommend.  You don't have to read the other Spindle Cove books to jump in. Though we do revisit some of the characters and events, this works great as a stand-alone.

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
Any Duchess Will Do
by Tessa Dare
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Avon

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

RT Giveaway. Better Late Than Never


Yes. I know it's been almost a month since RT, but in my defense, it has taken me almost this long to realign my life from being away for a week. That being said, you've probably heard from all the other attendees by now about how many books were just there for the taking. I tried not to go crazy in accepting the freebies, but some came in handout bags. Others are literally put in your hands by authors.  And still others, I have no idea how I ended up with.

So, fabulous people, I am sharing some of my bounty with you.  I'll post a few giveaways this week to spread out the goodies. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form if you want to enter to win. This is US/ CAN only, though, due to shipping costs.

The first two books I am giving away are Immortally Yours by Angie Fox and For Her Pleasure by Maya Banks. Check out the deets.

IN THE WAR BETWEEN THE GODS… 

No one patches up the incoming wounded like Dr. Petra Robichaud. Recruited by the gods for her uncanny medical skills, she’s the best M*A*S*H surgeon in the army. Along with a nosy guard sphinx,vegetarian werewolf, and otherparanormal paramedics, she bandages soldiers who are built like Greek gods (literally). But when one sexy immortal ends up on her operating table—half dead and totally to-die-for—Petra’s afraid she’ll lose her patient and her heart…

NOTHING IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN LOVE

Commander Galen of Delphi is one gorgeous but stubborn demi-god. When his spirit tries to slip out of his fatally wounded body, Dr. Petra has to slip it back in—unwittingly revealing her ability to see ghosts. Now that Galen knows her secret, he’s convinced she’s part of an ancient prophecy. If the oracles are right, Petra could lead Galen’s army to peace. And if he seduces her on the way to hell and back? Heaven knows—all’s fair in love and war…

Three novellas. Two interlocking stories. One sizzling read.

Nice set up: one spirited woman in Kit Townsend, and two hot buddies, Ryder and Mac, who take turns giving Kit what she needs. It's the perfect no-strings triangle and while it doesn't exactly follow the rules, neither does Kit. But when love unexpectedly throws these three friends for a loop, can they still have a happy ending?

And then there's Mia Malone, a sweet Dallas girl who had big dreams for the future when she first met Texas Ranger Logan Kincaid. That fairy tale was a lifetime ago. Today, framed for drug possession, she's forced to work undercover at a strip joint where several working girls have disappeared. Then in walks Logan-her protector, savior, and lover.


Read more »

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Series Reading Order: Dark Protectors

This is the reading order for the Dark Protectors series by Rebecca Zanetti:

*Denotes short story/ novella

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Review: Fated

Reviewed by Jen
 
Ever since I read Rebecca Zanetti's Consumed (the fourth book in this series) more than a year ago, I've been dying to pick up the backlist.  The world-building was so great in that book (and then in book 5, Provoked) that I really wanted to see where it all began before continuing with the series.  I waited, though, because I thought $12 was a bit too pricey to pay for a two year-old ebook.  Thankfully, a sale, coupled with a Kobo coupon, put this in a more reasonable price range --and I finally got to reading.

I'm glad I didn't pay full price.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that I finally got the chance to learn more about the history of the series.  This book lays all the foundation for what lies ahead. Unfortunately, I had issues with the romance that kept me from enjoying this installment as much as I have the others I've read in the series.

Cara is a scientist and single mother with a special psychic ability.  As the story begins, she and her daughter Janie are kidnapped by a sexy vampire named Talen.  It seems the bad vampires, the Kurjans, are aware of Cara's gifts and they want to kidnap her and her child to force them into mating with their warriors.  Instead, she is forced to mate with Talen to ensure their safety.  --It's not rape or anything. Cara and Talen are physically attracted, but things have to progress much further and faster than she wants.

In short order, Cara goes from knowing nothing about the supernatural world to learning all about the vamps, shifters, and their age old wars. And we, too, learn it all along with her.  We find out what the Kurjans are plotting and see their plan as it all begins to unfold --and meet some of the fantastic characters that will feature heavily in future books.  All good stuff. Lots of action, hot sex too.

But I had a serious problem with the balance of power between Cara and Talen --or the lack thereof. There is a certain expectation of "alpha" in most paranormal romance, but in the successful ones (for me) the heroine manages to find her own power in the relationships.  Yes, it's usually more subtle than the hero's power, but they each have a chance to win some of the battles. Here, Cara never gets to win.  It's all Talen's way and he never gives an inch.  I appreciate that he loves her and she holds his heart or whatever, but he controls everything, including, at times, her body and her will.  He orders her around. He "punishes" her.  I'm just not down with that dynamic.  It's also got some of the more eye-rolling PNR tropes, like the heroine having an orgasm on demand --and sex so good she blacks out.

I'm glad I didn't read this book first because I likely would not have continued with the series.  But I know I liked the later installments, so I will keep reading. I know they get better.

Rating: C-

Click to purchase: Amazon
Fated
by Rebecca Zanetti
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Publisher: Brava

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Series Reading Order: Breeds

The reading order for the Breeds series by Lora Leigh is kind of hard to pin down. Leigh provides a reading order list, which I will give your here. But keep in mind, these books were initially distributed my multiple publishers and were only later incorporated into one big series.  For example, the "Wolf Breeds" and the "Feline Breeds" were done separately and later merged together under Ellora's Cave. When Berkley picked them up, they became just "Breeds."  The original order for the Wolf shifter books was different than they are now listed as part of the overall series.  As a result of the merger, there are some timeline disparities.  I'll try to share the original order as well as the overall order and you can decide what works best for you as a reader.

  • *Creation (Breeds 0.5)
  • Tempting the Beast (Breeds #1) (Feline #1)
  • The Man Within (Breeds #2) (Feline #2)
  • Elizabeth's Wolf (Breeds #3) (Wolf #4)
  • Kiss of Heat (Breeds #4) (Feline #3)
  • Soul Deep (Breeds #5) (Feline #4)
  • *The Breed Next Door (Breeds #6)
  • Megan's Mark (Breeds #7)
  • Harmony's Way  (Breeds #8)
  • Tanner's Scheme (Breeds #9)
  • *Wolf's Hope (Breeds #10) (Wolf #1)
  • Jacob's Faith (Breeds #11) (Wolf #2)
  • Aiden's Charity (Breeds #12) (Wolf #3)
  • *In a Wolf's Embrace (Breeds #13)
  • Dawn's Awakening (Breeds #14)
  • A Jaguar's Kiss (Breeds #15)
  • Mercury's War (Breeds #16)
  • *Christmas Heat (Breeds #17)
  • Coyote's Mate (Breeds #18)
  • Bengal's Heart (Breeds #19)
  • *A Christmas Kiss (Breeds #20)
  • Lion's Heat (Breeds #21)
  • Styx's Storm (Breeds #22)
  • *Primal Kiss (Breeds #23)
  • Navaro's Promise (Breeds #24)
  • *An Inconvenient Mate (Breeds #25)
  • Lawe's Justice (Breeds #26)
  • Stygian's Honor (Breeds #27)

*Denotes short story/ novella

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Review: Their Taydelaan

Reviewed by Shelly
 
I’ve read quite a few of Clark’s stories and although I have been content with them in the past, this story left me with this feeling of ‘wait, wait, where’s the rest of it?’ This is part of a series, but it’s not promoted that way. The blurb didn’t hint of that either, but it was interesting enough that I took the plunge. While reading this, I felt that I missed too much to really understand the world or the characters.

This is a pretty short read (about 20K or about 40 pages ePub version). During a visit to see her sister in the hospital, Jade literally bumps into a man, Mitchell, who’s her Taydelaan – a genetically matched mate. I’m not sure how the matched genetics came into play because they’re from two different planets. Mitchell is Zachary’s husband and they’ve been waiting for their Taydelaan for quite some time. Three months after the hospital incident, Jade continues to dream of Mitchell and Zach but doesn’t understand why. After agreeing to go to the christening of her sister’s daughter, Jade, she can physically reconnect with Mitchell, meet Zachary, and finally find out the meaning behind her dreams.

Jade is hard and a little cold. I think she’s been through some things, but I’m not sure what. I was hoping to find out and that would have probably help in making her a more likable character. I definitely saw something I liked in her, but it didn’t all come to fruition. Surprising to me, even though this was a quick read (and maybe because it was) I expected to see more interaction between the three but to my dismay, there was more between the guys and not enough about Jade. Jade’s strained relationship with her sister might have explained some things, but I’m not sure because it wasn’t explained.  Maybe the reason for the tension was in another story.

Mitchell and Zachary were nice guys but I didn’t see why Jade ended up with them because she didn’t like them. That back story was missing and Jade going from ‘I don’t like you’ to ‘I want to have sex with you’ was so hurried it left me unable to enjoy the story. I felt so rushed, but that’s nothing new with my feelings with reading this author. I’ve forgiven it in the past because the premises were good for some of the stories.  But this one just felt flat for me.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: D

Click to purchase: Amazon
Their Taydelaan
by Rachel Clark
Release Date: April 12, 2011
Publisher: Siren

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: Harley on the Rocks

Reviewed by Shelly
 
I was going through my TBR list and decided to give this one a go. It turns out that I should have read this one way sooner that I did, because it was good. After meeting her new neighbors (Davis and Koijirou), Harley’s develops a growing friendship with them. Davis and Koi are two fellas in love and happily committed to each other. There are no car chases or run away bad guys, just a very sweet story about friends with benefits.

The way that Harley meets Koi had me cracking up – what falls out of her bag is almost as embarrassing as female products falling out. What a great ground-breaker it was! After finding out that Davis and Koi are married and technically ‘safe’, Harley finds a comfort in their friendship that rivals any friendship she could have with a girl. After some time passes in their relationship, the guys jokingly suggest that they could be friends with benefits and Harley enthusiastically decides that’s a great idea. She forgot the rule about being careful what you wish for because then she has to decide which is more important – the friendship or the sex. Oh yeah, the angst begins.

I liked all three of these characters, but my favorite was Koi. Not that he was the glue, because I think that Harley did a fine job with that. He just seemed to pop off the page a bit more to me. He works at a dojo as an instructor (not sure which martial art form he specialized in) but the contrast between structure and poise and the boyish enthusiasm that he exhibits around Harley was infectious and sweet.

Davis is the muscle of the two; he’s a redhead with the temper to match and very much a joy to get to know. Although he’s bigger than Koi he still can’t beat him in a fight and the exchanges about that are some of the funniest moments in the story. What I liked a lot about this story was that the focus was primarily on Harley and the issues and hurdles she needed to get over to make all three of them a family. The guys were already ‘out’ per se so Harley was the wild card. One of those hurdles was her family, especially her mother – oh what a waste of human flesh she was. Her grandmother was completely adorable and provided the driving force for Harley’s upbringing and, in turn, her morals and sense of being comfortable in her own skin. Well done there.

The chemistry and sex between these three was definitely present. Actually there wasn’t a lot of action between the two guys -- it was largely between the three. The only complaint I had was that the end seemed a bit rushed, but thank goodness that didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment I had reading this.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B-

Click to purchase: Amazon
Harley on the Rocks
by Zenobia Renquist
Release Date: February 3, 2011
Publisher: Changeling Press

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: Online Menage

Reviewed by Shelly
 
This is my first Kingston story and it was an okay read. I’m starting to question my sanity for reading these shorter stories because the majority of the time, I feel like I’m getting half a story. This is an m/m/f where the attraction started online. Alexis Thompson works as a graphic artist and for the past six months, she’s developed a crush on one of her company’s clients, Tyler Daniel. Tyler is in a gay relationship with Ryan Cooper. Unknowingly, Alexis and Ryan are online friends (supposed BFFs, but I don’t know how that can be if you don’t know each other’s real names). Finding out that the love of his life, Tyler, has kissed someone named Alex, Ryan is just beside himself with the what-if’s that could happen. Interesting idea, but I just didn’t feel it... neither the chemistry nor even vested in any of these characters.

A little new to me and a different way to deliver dialogue was done through texting and IM’s -- which I’m not fond of because I think that’s fine to say ‘hello’ and a quick ‘how ya doing’ but it’s no way for a couple or three to communicate.  It just kinda seems like an easy way out to have a misunderstanding between one or more characters. I’ll take the old school way of in-person, thanks.

I can’t give you too much, but it’s a cute read about a couple of guys who’re in a committed relationship and after so many years of ‘missing something’ they decide that the something is Alexis. Alexis is actually a pleasant and likable character, but I did have a problem with her breaking up with one boyfriend one day and jumped in bed with these two by the next. Just sayin’.

Ryan ‘Big Red’ was a nice guy and although the more physically imposing of the two, he was the softer hearted one. Tyler, although still likable, was more gruff and domineering. I think the story line left me with too many open questions about Ryan and Tyler’s background and how they got together. Also, there were some timeline questions between Ryan and Alexis online friendship that were confusing to me and threw me enough to make me re-read.

Overall, this was an okay story, not anything great, but not bad either. So if you’re wanting a little sexting in your m/m/f story – this might do the trick.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: C

Click to purchase: Amazon
Online Menage
by Sara Kingston
Release Date: January 1, 2012
Publisher: Siren

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Buried Bones

Reviewed by Jen
 
I really enjoyed Good Bones and had no idea a sequel was in the works... so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out about this book.  It picks up where the last story left off, following the relationship between neighbors Chris and Dylan.  The feel stays very true to the first book, though the men have new challenges to face.

Chris has come to terms very well with finding out Dylan is a werewolf and accepts his lover as he is.  Dylan has concerns about Chris' safety around him in his other form, but we learn quickly that is really not what they have to be worried about.  It seems there is a ghost haunting Dylan's house.   The guys have to figure out who the specter is and what he wants while they try to put their relationship on more permanent ground.

In the meantime, both guys have some issues they have to work on within themselves.  Chris has to come to terms with his difficult childhood and the father who abandoned him. Dylan has to figure out how being a werewolf fits in his life --and whether he can share his secret with others.  This, as he struggles with a big new project at his architectural firm.

I wasn't sure how I felt about a ghost coming in to the story. Yes, these books are supernatural in nature. But Good Bones was much, much less a werewolf story than a love story.  The wolf thing played a part, but it was secondary to what was happening between Dylan and Chris emotionally.  The supernatural does have a bigger role here, but I am happy to say that at the heart, Buried Bones is a relationship story too.

Things between Dylan and Chris are still pretty new.  Both guys have some insecurities about their future and how to ensure they stay together.  Chris is still the more vulnerable of the two, but I found that it presented itself a little differently in this installment. He was so sure he wasn't good enough before; that he was unworthy of Dylan.  Now, I think he is more emotionally invested. He has opened his heart and allowed himself to believe that Dylan loves him.  But instead of the heartbreaking statements he made in the past, now he makes a jab or a dig about it; his words are less desolate and more barbed.  I feel like he still doesn't see the worth in himself that Dylan sees, but he is moving away from being the wounded bird we first met.  He is trying to stand up for himself, instead of offering to take anything Dylan will give him.

I enjoyed watching these two move their relationship to a deeper level.  And Lord knows, the sex is hot. But with Chris' growth in the relationship, I didn't have the same gut-punched feeling that made me want to jump in the last book and give him a hug. It is a good journey, though.  I'm glad I got a chance to revisit these characters and see them take things to the next level.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Dreamspinner Press


Click to purchase: Amazon
Buried Bones
by Kim Fielding
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review: Saved by His Submissive

Reviewed by Shelly
 
Where should I begin? This story is centered around a group of Doms who happen to be Special Forces, or is it a group of Special Forces who happen to be Doms? I’m not really sure, but I don’t think it matters much in the end. Garrett Wyatt is a tormented man. Since his fiancé’s kidnapping and subsequent death, Garrett has hidden beneath his devil may care attitude. Sage Weston is a tortured woman. She was kidnapped by human traffickers and has been held in captivity for the past year. During what he thinks is a routine rescue mission, Garrett is unexpectedly reunited with Sage. Can these two find each other in spite of the trials and tribulations of their time apart?

This was a slower paced story than I would have liked. I felt like I was learning more about the couple’s individual internal shenanigans and about Sage being held captive than I was about Garrett and Sage as a couple. A majority of the story happens while someone is under duress. That probably shouldn’t be an issue, but this story isn’t long - about 145 pages (pdf version).

Garrett was way too alpha for me - I can take a modicum of grunting, snarling and growling, but jiminy crickets – use your words, man. The relationship between he and Sage was strained to say the least, and I can’t say that I was invested in them as a couple. By the time it was for the sex scene to roll around, I was over it. There were a few things that didn’t add up for me. But if I go into them, I’ll give spoilers and I don’t want to do that.

Sage is a very strong woman. She’s a survivor. Her stubborn nature does what it takes, mentally and physically, to survive so she can fight another day. But surprisingly, that’s not what I most liked about her. The most important thing about Sage is her smarts. You can be many things, but if you know how to use your brain, you’re bigger and better than your opponent, be they friend or foe. And here’s where I had a problem. Sage is a very smart person, she’s an RN, she’s a Sergeant, and she went through basic and survived. Heck, she survived over a year as a captive and despite all of that, Garrett treats her with kid gloves when the bad guy comes knocking. She’s not weak, why treat her like she is?

One of the other unsettling things for me was that the majority of the story felt dragged out and blasé. There’s only so much internal shenanigans from both Sage and Garret that I can tolerate. Last but not least, I have a golden rule that’s not negotiable, I don’t like cheating. This is not a spoiler because it happens on page 36, Garrett gives his affection away to someone not Sage. Dressing it up as role playing is not cool with me because Sage didn’t know about it.

Even with all that, the story is good enough that I’m looking forward to the next story... only if it’s Zeke and Rayna, I really liked her.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: C

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Saved by His Submissive
by Angel Payne
Release Date: March 1, 2013

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Erica's Choice

Reviewed by Shelly
 
I’m not sure where to start because I’m still amazed that I was so captivated by this story. This was a good book. Lee’s brilliant usage of dialogue worked to not only move this story along, but also to provide just enough kink to entertain the average gal. The majority of the m/m/f stories that I’ve read have an established relationship where a couple is looking for a third. That couple could be either m/m or m/f, this story is different in that these three are not involved in any relationship and they have to make it up as they go along. Sweet!

Reserved and conservative Erica Shannon discovers something that rocks her world. She’s not sure how she’s going to manage that, but she also realizes that it’s time to stop sitting on the sidelines watching life pass her by. Visiting the local bar, Erica walks in and sees her two dream men who she’s been checking out (on the sly of course) for the past several months. Firefighter Corey Wachawski has had his eyes on Erica for a while too, but it’s not until his friend and fellow co-worker Dale Griffin threatens to make a move on Erica, does Corey finally man up and introduces himself to the woman of his dreams; to add more spice, little does Corey know that Griff has his eyes on both Erica and his fellow firefighter. Oh my goodness, it's already soap-opera-ish and I'm just at the beginning - could this read get any sweeter? I thought, for sure, probably not. But do not fear folks, it does get that much better.

I found this book as I was looking for a story that would capture my interest without any flash and this one did the trick. It’s a simple story of three people who choose to be in a relationship. There’s no grand design with hidden agendas (other than some hot sex and sweaty bodies) and complicated storylines, instead it’s a story of falling in love and the angst and heartache that finding your forever-after entails. I found myself drawn to and rooting for each of them for different reasons. Lee does a remarkable job of finding and conveying the strengths and insecurities of her characters.

Erica has a past filled with heartache and abandonment. Even though Corey and Griff treated her like she’s best thing since sliced bread, her fears kept her from making them the family that Corey dreamed and wishing for. The relationship between the three was sweet, yet complicated, and definitely endearing. Like Erica, Griff had his own demons to bear. As the only one with experience as part of a triad, Griff was my favorite not because of his history but because he knew the bad that could happen and he still tried. There’s some really good stuff there.

The chemistry among the three was hot and heavy, the sex scenes plentiful and passionate. I don’t know if Lee’s got anything more in her arsenal like this but I can definitely say that this one is a winner.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B+


Click to purchase: Amazon
Erica's Choice
by Sami Lee
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Samhain

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: Soul Deep

Love the Photoshopped hair
Reviewed by Jen
 
I'll say this about the Breeds books: they are consistent.  The very same things that were so good in the previous installments are good here, just as the same things that bothered me before are back again.  It's an intensely sexual ride with a reluctant female and the alpha-hole mate who loves her.

In this case, our hero is a coyote shifter named Kiowa.  He has been serving as a stealth bodyguard for the president's daughter, protecting her against those who would use her against her father to shape the Breeds political agenda.  He is called into action when he witnesses her kidnapping. He saves her, but that is only the beginning of their story.

Amanda is unconscious during the rescue, but for some flimsy reason, Kiowa has her tied up when she wakes. When she tries to scream, he silences her with a kiss and thus begins their mating.  From the the first taste of his tongue, Amanda is unable to fight her intense attraction to her captor/ savior.  And they proceed to get busy right away... never mind the fact that she is still tied up.  From there, they end up moving to the protection of the other Breeds, where they both learn what their frisky funtime really means for their future.

The sex is crazy hot.  Crazy hot.  But it made me uncomfortable at times when I let myself think about how little say-so Amanda had in the matter.  She is also into a little bit of pain and submission, which isn't my thing, but it didn't bother me too much because she really took the lead on that side of their sexual relationship.

Kiowa is a lonely soul, suffering from a miserable childhood filled with emotional abuse and isolation.  There is no part of him that believes Amanda will ever love him, and for me, that was his saving grace.  It's hard not to feel for a hero that feels unworthy of love, even if he is an asshat sometimes as a result.

This is not deeply emotional or thought provoking.  It's a hot sex book.  And it does its job well... even if we were subjected to an overabundance of the word honey (honeyed heat, honey and spice, and so on.)   I think it popped up 19 times. But who's counting??

Rating: B-


  Click to purchase: Amazon
Soul Deep
by Lora Leigh
Release Date: July 1, 2008
Publisher: Ellora's Cove

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Review: Dragon Heat

Reviewed by Shelly
 
I didn’t know what to expect when I started this story, considering that it’s a relatively new author. I always hope for something good, but you just never know. Phoenix you’ve got yourself a new fan.

Draconian demigoddess, Zoricah, is on the hunt for the killer who has been taking out both dracos and vampires. The bad guys have finally done the unthinkable and taken one of Zoricah's and she doesn’t have a lot of time to get her people back alive. Using her only option, she enlists the help of Tardieh, the Vampire King who she’s helped out in the past. Will these two put their differences aside and do what’s right for their people?

This was a fun, sexy, solid story. There are a couple of issues that could be solved with some stronger editing, but they didn’t take away from the story. Phoenix’s world building for the existence of dragons and vampires was well done. I found myself pleasantly enthralled with the imagery. Born into a world where their differences made them enemies, Zoricah didn’t let that stop her from helping Tardieh escape from a brutal imprisonment that he suffered by the hands of an unknown assailant. It’s too bad that Tardieh’s trust of her was based not on her actions but by tradition.

I thought these two were really well suited and I found myself rooting for them as a couple. Zoricah was a strong leader, fighter and woman, but not so strong that she couldn’t and wouldn’t take the advice of her most trusted warriors. Her ‘girls’ as she called them - which of course totally reminded me of Charlie and his angels – were well suited and provided the levity that she needed to continue by not taking herself too seriously and still getting the job done. The Vampire King, Tardieh, was actually a nice guy. He has his special moments of needing a verbal take-down or two, but overall I must say he was surprisingly and pleasantly likable. His guards added a nice foil to Zoricah’s girls and I can definitely see a future where they’re flushed out with their own stories.

The chemistry between Zoricah and Tardieh was smoking hot and although it moves along pretty fast, there’s the backstory of their acquaintance that makes their romance not seem so rushed. Taken as a whole, this was a good effort and I very much look forward to more from this author.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B+

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Dragon Heat
by Ella J Phoenix
Release Date: April 6, 2012
Publisher: Cobblestone Press

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: Beyond Eden

Reviewed by Shelly
 
I’ve had this story in by TBR for a long while now and have been hesitant to read it because, to me, the premise is sensitive and I wasn’t sure how this would work out. I’ve read other BDSM stories and for the ones I enjoyed, the overarching theme has been ‘sane, safe, and consensual’; one or two out of three doesn’t work – it has to be three out of three for me. The premise and promise of this story was good and I still think that the story itself was good; it was the telling that I had trouble with.

I didn't and still don't understand some of the details in this story. I mean I get that it’s fiction but it has to pass my single rule for all stories --- it has to make sense. Thank goodness there’s a category warning so I pretty much expected something that I might or might not be comfortable with to happen. Eve, Paul and Danny were all unlikable and let me not even get started on them as cheaters -- one of my big nos. Each of them thought that Paul cheating on his fiancé was justified because in the words of Paul, she's the c-word. I’m calling bullcrap on that because the woman was the nicest person and did absolute nothing to warrant the treatment that she got from Paul or any of the other two.

Who did I dislike the most of the three? It's a tossup, but Paul was my biggest problem. You can't treat people like you treated Trisha and it be okay. Yes, you have a pain fetish that you can’t tell anyone outside of the BDSM world about, but you didn't even give your fiancé a choice and, by the way, use a condom if you're going to lie.

As Danny is introducing Eve to the lifestyle and she’s going along just fine, everything is hunky-dory but she pauses to ask Danny if she needs a safe word because, hey she’s not stupid, just a novice. That jerk of the century has the nerve to say to her ‘Nope’…’if you trusted me, you wouldn’t have asked for it. I’m disappointed’ --- seriously, asshat, where’s the safety and trust in that? So other than getting up and leaving, which she clearly doesn’t want to do, because she’s asking you for guidance Mr. Professional Dom, how is she supposed to communicate to you that she wants to stop or take a break? When Eve continues to talk, Danny tells her she doesn’t have permission and BAM! he moves her right into puppy play immediately followed by being tied up and gagged. There’s some verbiage that Danny uses for his explanation for tying up Eve, and I just couldn’t believe he was saying that to someone’s first day on the job, per se. Talk about no learning curve.

Keeping with the idea of Eden, these are three of the most beautiful you’ve ever seen. But the only person who knows he’s beautiful is Danny, so apropos for Satan. So beautiful in fact, Danny can get any man or woman he wants as easily as a wink or a smile. Paul’s pain fetish and feeling of low self-worth is so deep he can't separate his work life from his home life. I didn't see evidence of that but I was told that, so I guess I should just go with it. He chose his profession as a lawyer because his self-worth is so low that he knows that’s all he deserves (sorry if you're a lawyer.) He constantly punishes himself but I don’t see him doing that, I’m only told. There's a scene of Danny whipping Paul to a bloody mess which was the only pain scene in the story and it was very rough to read, even Eve in her own sweet (insert sarcasm) way contributed on that one.

One of my biggest problems with this story was that for the majority I was told after about the things that each person would do, making everything seemed detached for me. I would have liked a lot more seeing of the actual actions that happened either between the threesome/twosome or individually. By the time things started getting a little interesting and feelings started coming to the surface, it was more than three fourths of the way through and too late for me to care.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: D

*ARC provided by Loose-ID via NetGalley 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Beyond Eden
by Kele Moon
Release Date: September 8, 2010
Publisher: Loose ID

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: Summer in Napa

Reviewed by Shelly
 
This is what I would consider a slow burn, there’s nothing that jumps off at you. Instead it’s a nice, well-paced story. Picking up a few months after Kissing Under the Mistletoe --which is Gabe DeLuca, the oldest brother’s story-- this continues with another DeLuca brother. If you’ve not read KUM (get your minds out of the gutter) you’ll be okay reading this one because Adair didn’t write this as being dependent on that storyline; however I would definitely recommend Gabe’s story – it’s good.

Talk about getting your hand caught in the cookie jar, it seems that Lexi Moreau’s husband didn’t get the memo that you don’t diddle with your staff when your wife is in the next room – What a tool! After finding said tool in flagrante delicto, Lexi has finally reached the point of no return. After a quick amicable divorce, Lexi returns to her beloved hometown of St. Helena, where she hopes to restore her dream and turn her grandmother Pricilla's patisserie into a bistro. Eligible bachelor and town playboy Marco DeLuca has always had a thing for his best friend’s (afore mentioned tool's) girl. Although he’s been pretty good in the fifteen years since meeting Lexi, the gloves are off and it’s time to set some things right.

Let me just say that Lexi is a complete and total likeable girl. She kinda tall and she can’t seem to stop eating the cream puffs, but then again, Marco likes her just the way she is – gotta love that. There were moments where I laughed with Lexi and Abby’s antics – they’re such good friends that there’s no such thing as personal space -- they get all in the each other’s business. The progression of Lexi from being the victim of her own good deeds to finally seeing herself as someone who deserves better was awesome to see. There were moments where I wished she would beat down that loser of an ex, including a scene where I could swear I felt the air leave the room. (I might have shed a tear or ten.)

Marco underwent the bigger change, though. If you read the first book, the impression he left me with was one of ‘I can’t wait ‘til he gets his’ and does he ever deliver. Usually these roles are reversed in romance novels where the heroine seems to be angst filled, but this time Marco was the nail biter. His friendship with his best friend, Lexi’s ex, guided so many of his decisions that ended up hurting Lexi that it was sometimes painful to read.

Did I like these two together? Yes, I definitely did. Did the chemistry work? It sure did, like I said earlier theirs is a slow burn so don’t expect wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am. There’s is a true romance relationship where they get to know each other as they are today, not as they were in high school and definitely not through the rose colored lenses. Well done, Adair.

Before I go, I have to say something about the secondary characters. Gabe and Reagan do make appearances. Is it greedy of me to have wanted to see more of Reagan interacting with other people than Gabe? That might a slight yes. The grandmothers are back – ChiChi is still commanding the room; Pricilla and her wardrobe are still stuck in leisure suites and concert T-shirts, you can try to picture that in your head but don’t do it too long, your brain might stay that way. Remember Abby? She’s the DeLuca sister who married another winner by the name of Richard. There’s nothing funnier than when she has to post the newspaper notices for Richard before she can divorce him. Oh my goodness, I almost cracked a rib when I read them. The other two DeLucas, Nate and Trey make their presence known and the testosterone that’s running rampant as those two try set their own stamp in the family business is very high. I think (and hope) that Nate’s story is next – go get ‘im Frankie.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B

*ARC provided by publisher for review 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Summer in Napa
by Marina Adair
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Montlake Romance

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Marie Sexton


Hi there and welcome! I’m Marie Sexton, and I’m thrilled to be able to share my excitement over my latest release with Riptide Publishing, Never A Hero. Never A Hero is available now, and today I have a little game that fellow Tucker Springs author L.A. Witt introduced me to called “Fact or Crap”. I hope you enjoy! Follow me on the virtual book tour for Never A Hero all week for more exclusive details about the book, the Tucker Springs series, and more. Plus, leave a comment below with your name and email address, and you could be one of three lucky winners to receive a $5 gift card to Riptide. Simply leave your comment by 5/17 at 11:59pm to enter.

Tucker Springs: Fact or Crap

Eight of the statements below are fact, but two are utter crap. But which two? Leave your guesses in the comments below. Everybody who has at least one correct answer will be entered in the drawing.

1. Tucker Springs is named for the lovely mineral hot springs located just outside of town.
2. The layout of the Light District is based on Old Town Fort Collins (Fort Collins, Colorado being Marie’s home town).
3. Never a Hero features a sandwich shop called The Vibe, which is based on the real-life restaurant Avogadro’s Number in Fort Collins, Colorado.
4. Second Hand started out as a single-author book, by Marie Sexton, but was later handed off to Heidi Cullinan to finish.
5. June Reynolds (Nick’s sister in Never a Hero) was inspired by the 8-year old daughter of one of Marie’s closest friends.
6. Dirty Laundry was originally a free short story, which Heidi later expanded to be part of the TS universe.
7. Nick’s dog Bonny was based on Marie’s not-so-good dog, Padawan.
8. Mojo, from Second Hand, was based on Marie’s brother-in-law’s dog, Tank.
9. June’s arm had to be amputated after a motorcycle accident when she was seventeen years old.
10. The next book in the series, LA Witt’s After the Fall, will feature Nathan (Michael’s receptionist from Where Nerves End).

*****

Never a Hero is available now from Riptide, Amazon, and all major book outlets. Never a Hero is part of the Tucker Springs universe, but can be read as a stand-alone novel. For more information about Tucker Springs, visit www.TuckerSprings.com.

Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway. 

Find out more at http://MarieSexton.net, or download the Marie Sexton app, available free for Android or iPhone.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: The Charmed Fates

Reviewed by Shelly
 
When I read the blurb for the first in the series of the Charmed Trilogy, I would have never guessed Wenrick’s would take me on such a roller-coaster of adrenaline. Each installment is absolutely better than the last and this story is no different; this story is so much darker than the others -The Charmed Fates - is my favorite in the series.

Enjoyable to say the least, Wenrick’s writing style is captivating - there’s just enough dialogue that carries the story along quite well. One of the many things I like about her is the way that she conveys the passage of time. I’ve noticed that a lot of writers in this genre don’t express this in real time (days, weeks, etc.); this author does and it’s one of those quirky things that helps me believe that even in their paranormal world, these characters are subject to something that mutually affects us.

It’s been about a year since Olivia Greyson was involved in a horrific train accident, lost her best friend Sarah, and met Daywalker Caleb Wolfe. It’s during that time that she found out that she’s a Charmer, a Dhampir, whose talents are a wanted commodity amongst the most powerful in the community of vampires. Since she’s spent time and trained with her guardians at The Oracle, strengthening both her physical and mental self, Olivia is becoming a formidable warrior.

The Walker Coven - Olivia, her mate Caleb, her grandfather Jax Walker, and her good friend and fellow Dhampir Gemma - are living under the radar, always on the lookout for the dark and evil vampire, Luther Davin. Since their mating, Olivia and Caleb have gotten closer, but in this the final installment of the series, their relationship will undergo some significant challenges complicated by Olivia’s insecurities and Caleb’s need to protect. These two are still as hot as a couple. Olivia by herself continues to impress me in her maturity and the way she handles her business, especially with Caleb. Jax and Gemma’s relationship will see some incredibly happy times and undergo heartache that could shatter even the most patient soul. Jax couldn’t be any more perfect as a mate for strong-willed Gemma and as Olivia’s grandfather.

The Brethren are back - Alec is hunky and cankerous as usual, that foul-mouth delectable Lucas takes a more prominent role and I liked it just fine. The GLD (good looking Dhampir) Phin and his love Maya are as cute as ever, and the biggest horndog ever in the history of horndogs Kane is bringin’ it and bringin’ it well – fighting to keep Davin from increasing his power.

Now on to the bad guys, and boy howdy are they bad. At one point in the book, I was close to jumping to the end because I was so mad at Wenrick. I couldn’t believe what was going on – I was like ‘NOOOOOO way!!!’. But that’s what make a good writer isn’t it?  The antagonists are just as well written as the protagonists. Davin in all his ugliness and evilness has been trying to get Olivia to come over to his side for quite a while now. With the increasing dangers to Olivia’s safety, the tension in the coven increases to a boiling point. If that’s not enough to drive the sane insane, Caleb’s 600-year-old maker Celeste shows up because she wants her Caleb back and will do whatever she needs to do to make that happen. Celeste is awesomely bad, twisted, a complete and total megalomaniac.

In the end, I relished this story individually but I gotta tell ya, I thoroughly adored the series and I’m so glad that I read it. Thanks Wenrick! I look forward to more from the ‘Men of Brahm Hill’.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: A+

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon 
Learn more about the series & Enter the giveaway here
The Charmed Fates
by Christine Wenrick
Release Date: February 8, 2013
Publisher: Red Tree Publishing

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Interview & Giveaway: Christine Wenrick


Shelly is a big fan of Christine Wenrick's Charmed Trilogy.  Check out this Q&A they did together!

Shelly: Hello, Christine. Let me start out my saying that I’m a big fan of your work. When I got the chance to do this interview – I was thrilled. So that being said – will you tell us a little about yourself and what (or who) started you on the course of being a writer? 

Christine: Thanks, Shelly! I wish I could say I knew I was destined to be a writer all my life, but that’s not the case. I dabbled with writing in college but have been working as a commercial interior designer until four years ago when I decided to write my first novel, The Charmed. I think, like any author, you have to have something that inspires you, and for me it was the ending to this first book. I had a crystal clear image of that ending . . . and nothing else. LOL. So I basically started writing towards that end. Probably not the easiest way to write a book, but it worked out OK.

Shelly: One thing I noticed when I read the first story, The Charmed, was that even though this is a vampire story, you’ve somehow brought a unique and uncommon perspective to the subject. How’d you do that?

Christine: That is certainly a compliment. An uncommon perspective to a vampire story is hard to do these days, but it may be the sense of isolation I put the characters and the reader in at the beginning of the series. I knew I wanted an adult story, a very intimate and personal story between Caleb and Olivia. To me that meant isolating them from the world we see every day, but in a way that makes sense or is familiar to present times. Then you can create those moments of tug and pull, the quiet ones where very little is being said but you can feel the force that is drawing them together. If you can feel passion between two characters in the things they don’t say—the moments outside of the love scenes—then you’ve done your job as a romance writer.

Shelly: Which character, in any of the books, was the hardest for you to write? 

Christine: Great question!!! I would say Jax, the coven leader. He has lived for centuries and his character needed to reflect that kind of depth and breadth of life experience . . . and, of course, pain. For me, he represented the emotional soul of the trilogy and as such is one of my favorite characters.

I had several challenges, mostly because when I started I didn’t know much about the piano. But in writing Olivia’s character it was clear that music was at the center of who she was. It’s how she expresses herself best. The hardest part was making sure that held true throughout all three books and did not get too far sidelined by the other events happening to her.

Shelly: I thought Maya was a gem – she’s sometimes come off as meek but when the tire hits the road she’s something else. Which character would you say is most like you?

Christine: Maya is a fun character. One of my favorite things to do is bring a character along for several books so the reader can watch them grow and mature. You will see that with Maya as well.

As for me, I’m not sure I’m really like any of my characters, more like a mix of them. I might latch on to one thing that it similar to me and build a character from there. For example, Olivia will doggedly focus on something once she believes it’s the right decision or course of action. I can be like that.

Shelly: I enjoyed the flow of dialogue - was it a conscious process that the cursing/swearing would be at a minimum for this series?

Christine: Actually, yes it was. Although I myself can curse just as easily as the next person, I’m just not a huge fan of words that can jar a reader out of the story, especially when they’re repeated a lot. Of course, that’s a really difficult rule to follow when one of your characters is a curse-a-holic (Ahem, Lucas . . .)!

Nowadays people curse, men especially it seems, so it needs to be in there. I just try to pick and choose the right moments and infer the rest.

Shelly: What story are you working on now?

Christine: I am putting the finishing touches on book three in my Men of Brahm Hill series, which is a connected five-book series to The Charmed Trilogy. It has taken me longer to write than I hoped because of my obligations for The Charmed, but I am so excited where this series is going I spend just about every hour I can getting it out of my head and onto paper. The first book in the series, Someone Else’s Skye, will be available this fall, and to get the most out of all the little nuggets I have left for the reader I recommend starting from the beginning with The Charmed.

As part of her tour, Christine is is giving away a $50.00 Amazon Gift Card and a signed copy of The Charmed to one lucky winner that follows the tour. Enter to win.

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