Monthly Archives: January, 2013

Vanilla on Top – CJ Ellisson – 4 stars

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The blurb:

Discover your inner bad girl, and set her free…

Heather Pierce is done being a wallflower, both personally and professionally. Desperate to live a different life for one night, she attends a speed dating event. Maybe here, anonymous unless she chooses otherwise, she can become someone new. When a man way out of her league sits across from her, Heather gathers her courage and takes charge of what she wants, secretly fearing he won’t desire the real person she’s desperate to hide.

Top acquisitions officer and international playboy Tony Carmine is about to close the biggest deal of his career. But then he meets Heather at a speed dating event…and discovers losing control may be exactly what he needs. Her blossoming sensuality occupies his every thought, consuming him with the need to possess the most intriguing lover he’s ever encountered—until he walks into the boardroom and sees Heather on the other side of the negotiating table.

My thoughts:

This was a nice story about learning who you really are inside and what is truly important in life.  Both of our leads learn this as they start to build a relationship out of a steamy first encounter.

Heather is the perpetual good-girl who is a wallflower at work and in her personal life.  You can see where she is more likely to bow down and hide than stand up even for herself.  This is a woman who needs something to break her out of her shell so she can become not only a better worker/lover but also be happy.  She is surprised when a man pushes buttons for her to take charge during a speed-dating event where she not only finds that she likes ordering a man around but man oh man can she order him to pleasure her then walk away leaving him aroused and intrigued.  I enjoyed watching her put the pieces together and start to live a life with meaning plus the self-esteem she never has truly had.  This is thanks to the wonderful man she meets in Tony.

Tony….. sigh… what a wonderful man he ended up being.  We get to see him struggle with his feelings for Heather while at the same time struggling to figure out what he is missing in his life.  You get to see a man who has been driven to succeed at almost any cost but then through his interactions with Heather he uncovers what is truly important to him.  He doesn’t need money or prestige to be happy but instead finding the missing piece of his soul was most important.  He is great when he lets her lead their sexual encounters but he is also wonderful when he pushes her buttons and boundaries when he is in charge.  This is a man I would love to have in my life if it were possible.  He’s confident enough in himself to let the control go and be shared with his partner.

Thanks to NetGalley.com and Entangled Publishing for the chance to read this in exchange for my honest opinion.  I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more.

A Little Harmless Fantasy – Melissa Schroeder – 5 Stars

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The blurb:

What starts out as simple fantasy among friends, becomes an overwhelming need that none of them can deny.

Maura Dillon has always been someone who lived life on her own terms. From the time she in college she knew she had different needs than most of her friends. But she never thought she would find herself torn between two very sexy men, or that they would want to add her to their relationship.

Zeke and Rory have known each other for years. Their casual relationship has spanned a decade, but now that they are living together things are on a whole other level. Add in their mutual attraction for Maura and things are just getting out of hand.

Rory understands their desires and suggests a week in Hawaii. No rules, no limits, no regrets. But as their nights are filled with unimaginable erotic pleasure, there is someone lurking in the shadows. Someone who wants revenge, and will stop at nothing to succeed.

Warning the book contains the following: Two sexy men who are hot for each other and the heroine, more Hawaiian scenery, a Dom who thinks he can control everything, two lovers who know he can’t, and scenes that push even Harmless Addicts over the edge

My thoughts:

Ok, I have to start this off with a wow is it hot!  You have two people hopelessly in love with one man who end up finding that maybe three is better than two.

Mel gives us a strong heroine with a lot of issues to work through but at her core she is deeply in love with her ex-Zeke.  They love each other but Maura knows she needs to have a Dom to be completely happy and Zeke is just not that person.  Love for one another makes them split up as they both know the fundamental need she has would not be fulfilled and neither would be happy as they kept hurting each other.

Zeke has one of the loves of his life back in Rory but he knows something is missing.  You can see the love the two men have for one another and watching Rory with Zeke was beautiful.  Even though there is a lot of pain and angst in their past there is a huge amount of love between these two that shines through the hurt.  Rory proposes a way to get Maura out of Zeke’s system by having them spend the week in Hawaii together as a triad but ends up finding what it was that Zeke fell in love with.  I loved seeing the three of them work through their issues and especially seeing Rory deal with realizing what he is capable of.

This is a very hot read but a huge amount of heart, pain and love behind all the main players actions.  This is a ménage a trois that will work long-term and fulfill each partners basic dreams and needs to an extent most people never find.

I have to thank Melissa Schroeder and Brandy Walker for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.  You want this one…  you truly do.  All three partners have their private moments together and as a part of the triad which is a rare thing to see.

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Haunted Sanctuary – Moira Rogers – 4 Stars

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Ok I have to admit this – I’M A MOIRA ROGERS/KIT ROCHA ADDICT AND I’M PROUD!!!

 

For any that know me this is not a surprise but for others it may be a bit of a shock.  I adore Bree and Donna no matter what hat they are wearing and am looking forward to more from this series.

 

Jay is the local sheriff and an all-around good guy with a bit of a secret.  He’s a werewolf who happens to be an Alpha but without a pack to call his own.  He’s always had a crush on Eden but can’t spill his secret nor does he think it would be possible to walk away from her if he takes a taste so he just keeps his distance while still spending time around her.  I mean this is a small town so being friendly is part and parcel of being sheriff.  After investigating a disturbance at her family property he finds out not only does she know about weres but due to an attack is surprisingly becoming one faster than anyone expected.  These two strong people become an amazing pair not only from a relationship perspective but also become the Alpha pair for a new Sanctuary town that they decide to declare.  If you have read any of their Red Rock series you will understand the concept and appreciate what the pair with helpers is trying to do in the violent world of werewolves.

 

I really enjoyed the length of time between them realizing they both wanted each other and when we finally get to see them consummate the relationship as it made for some fun tension.  Not to mention I laughed out loud so many times at the ways they were interrupted just because you felt so badly for them.  I mean poor Jay had to have immensely blue balls for the sheer amount of near misses..  😉

 

This is not a flowery love story as the world werewolves reside in is bloody, power crazy and demented outside of Sanctuary towns but seeing Jay and Eden work to rescue her cousin from his descent to madness plus how much the others rally around each other was heartwarming to read and feel.  You will get a feeling about a couple of pairs that might be coming down the pipeline and really want all this small motley crew to succeed in their new pack structure.  All of them deserve it considering the hell they have been through.

 

This is a great read and I cannot recommend the authors enough for it and others they have entertained me with over the past year.

 

In the spirt of honesty I received my copy directly from the author as a result of a charity item I won last year.  This in no way colors my review nor was one expected in return.

 

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Introducing – New Contributor – Trish!!

Well, I’ve managed to do it…  I talked my fellow book addict in to posting a review on my blog!  I knew I could do it …  I just had to have patience.

I’d like to welcome my friend Trish to the blog.  She’ll appear periodically and write some reviews or commentary as the mood hits her.  We both read a lot of the same books but have different views at times on some plus she reads some I don’t read and vice versa.  I think you’ll like her opinions and voice so please enjoy!

As an FYI – I’m probably the bigger book pusher out of the two of us as I think I have managed to get her addicted to more series than she has me. *Big cheesy grin* You know like getting her addicted to Demonica, the Kowalski’s, the Sullivan’s and a few other series/authors.  Not like she doesn’t need more to read but hey I’m just trying to be helpful!

*snicker*

Anyway, I love that she’s just starting out and I hope she continues to add more information to my site and share her own love of books with us all.

All He Ever Dreamed – Shannon Stacey – 5 stars

Once again I must bow at the altar of Shannon Stacey and her Kowalski series.  Shannon does an incredible job of creating characters that I can relate to and become emotionally invested in.  The relationships between not just the Kowalski family but also the supporting cast of neighbors and friends draws me in every time and makes me want to crawl into the book and move into the Northern Star Lodge and All He Ever Dreamed is no exception.

In this installment, Josh is finally getting the opportunity to live the life he has always dreamed.  After years of feeling trapped in to managing the Northern Star Lodge on his own after his parents passed away, Josh is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  With the support of his siblings business at the lodge is back on track and Josh is ready to leave Whitford, Maine behind to chase his dreams.

Josh and Katie have been best friends since they were children and Josh has always seen Katie as one of the guys. She has been his football buddy, his barber, and his partner in crime for as long as he can remember.  As if that wasn’t enough, Josh was practically raised by Katie’s mom so to him Katie is a member of the family.  Josh has managed to miss what the rest of the town has known for years.   Katie is madly in love with him and the two of them are meant to be together.  Once Josh realizes that his feelings for Katie go way beyond friendly he has to decide whether to pursue the life he thought he wanted or stay with the woman he loves living the life he has spent years wanting to get away from.

If you are a Kowalski fan, you will absolutely love this latest installment.   I promise it will be everything you hoped it would be and more!

For those of you who have not yet read the Kowalski series, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  This series is a feel good, must read for any romance reader!! In no time at all you will be wishing for a Kowalski man of your own!

My thanks to NetGalley.com and Carina Press for the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.

Beautiful Scars – Shiloh Walker – 4 Stars

Beautiful Scars

Shiloh has a knack for bringing characters who have major flaws and issues to light.  Both of our leads have problems but under everything is a love that has been simmering for years hidden behind friendship and distance.

I just have to start by saying – Marc is a complete and utter ass.  Ok that’s out of the way, we can move on and explain why you’ll still fall in love with him and why Challi has always loved this amazingly frustrating man.  He’s an amazing musician who is back in his hometown for a brief respite before doing what he does best and running back away.  He’s convinced that he is somehow only able to hurt those closest to him and keeps avoiding the people who love him and know him best for fear of driving them away.  He’s got to go to a party and his previous arrangement has decided to leave him the morning of the event to go after something that could be a real relationship rather than an itch scratch arrangement.  He visits his sister who runs a respectable escort service to get someone to act as the buffer for him at the event and that is where the story takes flight.

Challi has always known she loves Marc, truly deeply adores this man with all that she is including all his flaws.  She has always buried it except for 3 disastrous times she asked him out.  Unfortunately for her his inability to see what was under his nose caused her to settle for a man who isn’t even worthy of mentioning by name.  This jerk leaves her at a time where she needed him and this has left her extremely scarred and doubting her own self-worth.  She has shadows that haunt her both physically (not telling you why physically as it plays a part in the amazing transformation Marc helps her through) and mentally.  She hears that he needs a date for this party and persuades Shera to let her do this.  When the two of them spend time together again it erupts in to an amazing night that ends with Marc doing his trademark foot in mouth.

I’m not going to give away the rest as I think you need to go out and read this one to see a beautiful story of love and healing for two very flawed individuals.  My only wish was to see more of them in the future but at the same time I loved the way it resolved and wanting more is just testament to how Shiloh can draw you in to loving her characters.

 

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How to Misbehave – Ruthie Knox – 5 stars

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I have to admit I’m a huge Ruthie Knox fan.  I mean she just has a way to get you to love these damaged heroes and their equally messed up heroines.  In this case we have a heroine who is the epitome of a good girl that wants to be bad and a hero who is a good guy convinced that he’s unworthy of such a good girl.  The insecurities both main characters have made this a quick lovely novella that had a nice amount of heat but a huge amount of heart.

Amber has had fantasies about the contractor, Tony, working on the community center when a tornado warning forces both of them to take cover in the basement of the building.  The dark spooky basement of their building.  While they wait out the storm she helps Tony work through his issues of being in dark enclosed spaces and they discover a mutual attraction burning between them.  After they emerge from the basement they discover her car has been damaged by the storm and he being the good guy he is offers to take her home.  You’ll love his inner dialogue as he tries to do what is right by her even though he wants her so badly it makes him want more than he thought he could ever give.  You’ll be happy to note that she gets to be taught how to misbehave quite thoroughly (huge grin).

Tony has a lot of issues to work through but he doesn’t hide from Amber nor does he try to do like some other romance heroes and blame his issues on the heroine.  He knows what he needs to do but is afraid to take that step and acknowledge that he isn’t his past but has grown up to be an incredibly sweet, nice man.  I loved this novella and cannot recommend it enough to those who love humor, heat plus heart in a quick read.

 

Special thanks to Ruthie Knox, NetGalley.com and the wonderful people at Random House (Sue..  you know you are wonderfully amazing) for giving me the chance to continue my fan girl love for Ruthie’s work in exchange for my honest review.

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Covert Seduction – Callie Croix – 4 stars

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This was a quick intense read for a few reasons.  You have an unknown threat trying to get to the heroine and the intensity that is brought about by a hurting heart caused by a lack of communication between the main pair.  I’m happy we start the story knowing they have a history so the fast pace once they reunite makes sense.  The tension between the two is believable and you feel drawn to both of them as you get to see how they truly feel about one another.

 

Reid is a Navy SEAL who had to leave on a mission that goes to hell.  He’s got a thing going with Becca but because of what happens doesn’t communicate with her during his deployment.  This leaves Becca hurting and not knowing if she means as much to him as she thought she did.  I mean maybe he isn’t as in to her as she was in to him so she decides to try to move on and let it go.  She accepts a date with a co-worker that she really isn’t in to just to try to get out there again.  She’s not 100% happy when she hears from Reid as she heads out the door for this date as she knows her heart is still his even though she thinks he doesn’t want  it.  While coming home from this evening out the car her co-worker is driving is pushed off the road in to a drainage ditch full of freezing water.  You see they have managed to find some secrets that certain people would do anything to keep under wraps.  Thankfully Reid comes along as he can’t just wait until the next day to see Becca so has chosen to drive to her place to wait and try to talk to her.  He ends up saving both of them then taking Becca home.

 

Becca is stunned to see Reid in the flesh but after her brush with death decides to just take what she can from him and to hell with her heart.  While they work out their issues there is still an unknown assailant tracking them.  After another close call she comes clean to both Reid and the police about what they might have found and heads out of town to stay safe with Reid in tow.  While at the safe house a lot of things come out and of course love comes to pass.  Now mind you this is a short story and the heat factor is definitely up there.  Reid is a man who knows what he wants and has also been told by Becca her fantasies which he aims to live out with her for the rest of their lives.  I’d love to have a Reid of my very own as his devotion to her is just sigh worthy.  When he gives her a token it is definitely a scene that will bring tears to your eyes as that token is more meaningful than anything this SEAL could ever give her even with full access to Tiffany’s or Harry Winston…  It made me melt a bit inside.

 

This again is a short hot read but it packs quite a bit of intensity and emotion in it.  Go grab it!!  My thanks as usual to NetGalley.com and Carina Press for the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.

 

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Jar of Dreams – Liz Flaherty – 4 stars

Jar of Dreams

 

The blurb:

For as long as she can remember, Lucy Dolan has been jotting down her hopes on slips of paper and saving them in a pickle jar—her jar of dreams. It was the first thing she saved when the beloved family diner went up in flames, and it’s safely buckled in her beat-up minivan when she lands in Taft, Indiana, to start over. She rents a room and goes into business with her landlady, but then Gert’s nephew comes charging in to “rescue” his aunt.

Boone Brennan will be damned if he’ll let Lucy take advantage of Aunt Gert, who raised him and his sister. Believing that she’s just passing through, he’s deeply suspicious of her—despite the sparks that fly between them.

Just as Boone and Lucy are starting to open up to each other, a series of fires throws Lucy under suspicion. Boone wants to trust her and his feelings, but with the whole town against her, will he stay by her side? Or will Lucy move on and find another place to make her dreams come true?

 

My thoughts:

This was a very well done story with a long build-up between the main pair and a definitely understandable hesitancy from both of them to jump in to any relationship.  I’m looking forward to more from this author and hopefully see the other hinted at pairing find their own HEA.

 

Boone is still living in a world of regrets and what-ifs.  He gets word from his sister that something hinky is going on with his aunt that raised him so goes to his old hometown to get to the bottom of things and put a stop to whatever it is that is going on.  What he ends up finding is a new chance at life and a chance to get back almost everything that he has lost in the last few years.  He is confronted by feelings for Lucy and also made to confront the ghosts of his past in the form of his former best friend.  He learns a lot about himself and what is truly important during the course of this book and at times it made me sniffle but mainly it made me happy to see someone rejoin the true world of the living.  He gains so much from this time in Taft and it isn’t just the new love he finds with Lucy.  It is so much more than that which makes it so very heartwarming to read.

 

Lucy is a lost soul who ends up being rescued by her time in Taft.  She finds a home and family she thought she would never find again but also finds redemption and release there.  She had to watch her father slip away bit by bit to the horrible monster that is Alzheimers.  I felt that the way the author handled telling us about her dad and the horrific way he died was beautifully done with the right amount of realism.  She fights her growing feelings for Boone and doesn’t want to let herself fall for someone that isn’t going to be there long-term.  She’s also tormented by his sister but as we work through the story things take a turn between the two of them and a friendship does develop.  This is a woman who has not had a traditional family and seeing her soak up the love and attention from both Boone and Aunt Gert was fun to see.  Her willingness to believe the worst of herself was hard to see but I understood why she believed what she did even though no-one else did.  She stands up for herself and knows her weakness is she is a people-pleaser even to the detriment of her own self worth.  She’s not stupid nor is she a pushover but you will want her to get all the happiness in the world.

 

This is a sweet story with a bit of heat although not much.  I loved watching the gradual acceptance and love that builds between Boone and Lucy even with the immediate attraction.  This is a believable love story that will have you cheering for both of them while also hoping we get a story of the sister and best friend….  Hint Hint.

 

Thanks to NetGalley.com and Carina Press for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.

Stand-In Star – Rachel Johns – 4 stars

Stand-In Star

 

The Blurb:

As an anthropologist, Holly McCartney is more comfortable in a museum than shopping on Rodeo Drive. She isn’t prepared for the media frenzy on her arrival in L.A. to accept a posthumous acting award for her late sister….or for her sister’s gorgeous friend Nate Devlin to come to her rescue. Though he resents her for some reason, she can’t fight their irresistible chemistry—especially when the paparazzi force her to stay at his mansion.

Photographer Nate only agrees to help Holly survive Hollywood for her sister’s sake, but she soon gets under his skin in a way no other woman has. The more time he spends with her, the more his attraction grows and he finds himself opening up to her in ways he never expected. But will ghosts of the past stand in the way of their perfect Hollywood ending?

 

My thoughts:

This was a story of love and forgiveness which makes you wonder how well you really know those you love.

 

Holly has been guilted in to attending the Oscars by her parents.  You see her estranged sister was nominated for one after her sudden death and they would like a family member there to accept in her memory if she wins.  When you find out why Holly was estranged from her your heart breaks but when you find out the truth as to why her sister made that horrible decision it is just made that much sadder.  I mean I cannot condone what her sister did but at the same time there is a part of me that understood the sheer need that caused it.  I don’t know if I could have forgiven that big of a betrayal but in a twisted way I felt for both of them for the time and love that ended up lost.  Holly is not comfortable in the limelight but finds herself drawn to and falling for our hero.  She truly sees him and not the wealth/fame he has.  They both have a ton of issues to work thru but even in just a week you can sense that there is something true and strong there.

 

Nate is a troubled man.  He was the on/off again lover of Holly’s sister but they never truly loved one another.  It was more a deep friendship that occasionally allowed for a moment of sex to satisfy their needs.  He doesn’t know the whole story of why the sisters were estranged but believes at first that it is all Holly’s fault.  He treats her with scorn but at the same time finds himself extremely interested in her to the point where he lets his true self peek through.  When he has these talks with her we learn how screwed up his childhood was and this causes him to think he isn’t capable or worthy of a real committed relationship.  He keeps pushing Holly until the horrible truth comes out and he realizes that she is truly the wronged party in everything which causes him to finally let the walls down.  Of course it wouldn’t be a romance without stupidity but the ending left me very happy and hopeful that we can see the two of them in a few years time…  I’m hoping that they both get the true happiness and devotion neither of them got from their parents when they were younger.

 

This was a sweet story and I think most will enjoy it although the whole fall in love in 7 days thing does try the limits of belief but in this case I happily went along for the ride.  Special thanks to NetGalley.com and Carina Press for giving me the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.

 

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