Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kiss Me Anthology


Sometimes anthologies are perfect for my mood, and this collection of three fun, romantic, and sexy contemporary stories were exactly what I've been looking for!

The Trouble With Sexy by Codi Gary

This was a fun, romantic, sexy story about a boss and his employee who become friends, then much more. I enjoyed this and felt the author did a great job of giving us an awesome story with wonderful characters. We get a happily ever after that didn't feel rushed, which can sometimes be an issue with novellas, but not this one! There are a couple of others characters who are just begging to have their stories told, and I hope it happens. I'm looking forward to more by Ms. Gary!

Are You Lonesome Tonight by Cheryl Harper

Julie Dillon and Luke Pearce are co-workers on their way home from a business trip when they find themselves snowed in, sharing a hotel room themed after anything and everything Elvis. It’s such a fun story! I wish Julie had been less grumbly, but in the end she came around in a very clever way, and that's what matters most! Ms. Harper writes a cute, witty and definitely steamy story!

Love, Guns, and Heart Shaped Chocolate by Jaclyn Hatcher

This story isn't at all what I was expecting, but awesome, all the same. Katie had planned to spend her Valentine’s Day alone, watching movies and drowning her sorrows in chocolate, but her best friend’s brother has other ideas! Before they know it, they’re running for their lives in this fast paced romantic suspense that’s plenty sexy, and fun! Logan and Katie are great together, and with other characters, Will and Tracy, there's the potential for more exciting reading!

Three debut authors, three thoroughly entertaining Valentine's Day stories!

My thanks to Avon Books and Edelweiss for providing me with a copy of this anthology in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nautier and Wilder by L. Leigh and J. Burton




I was so, so pleased with both stories in this book! They're exciting, romantic, sexy... yep! I'm very pleased!
Nauti Siren by Lora Leigh:

My synopsis:

Piper Mackay just wants to live life on her own terms, without her meddling, overbearing, obnoxious brother Dawg, and cousins Rowdy and Natches, dogging her every step. But as it often does for those Mackays, danger lurks around every corner and they're not about to willingly leave her unguarded. Jedediah Booker agrees that Piper needs protecting, but he doesn't want to suffocate her or hold her back, but convincing her he's not like the others isn't going to be easy. He wants her safe, but he wants her in his bed, and his life.
It was such a treat to revisit those Mackays! It's been awhile, and it's nice to see that some things don't change... those Mackay men are just as... well... obnoxiously overbearing - and sexy - as ever! And I love it!
Riding to Sunset by Jaci Burton:

My synopsis:

Jed Templeton is the newest member of Wild Riders, a group of Harley riding undercover agents headed by General Grange Lee. When the General's sister goes missing, Jed is assigned to keep an eye on her daughter, Elena Madison. To keep her safe Jed has to concoct a bunch of lies because Elena doesn't even know she's got an uncle, nor does she understand the possible danger they're all in. There's an undeniable sexual attraction between she and Jed, but once Elena learns the truth about why he's in her life, she has a hard time believing that she's nothing more than a job to him.
Oh, how I loved this story! You know, I've only read one of the books in this series, and it was a while ago, but I'm DEFINITELY going to go back and read the others. So exciting, so sexy!

For those wondering, these stories work VERY well as stand-alones, and as for the wait... it's been LONG, but well worth it!

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine

Kiss of Temptation by Sandra Hill



Is it lust?

Ivak Sigurdsson is dead . . . well, sort of. Guilty of the sin of lust, he's been given an unusual penance: spend eternity as a Viking vampire angel, or vangel, fighting Lucipires, Satan's vampire demons on earth. Now sequestered in Angola Prison as a "spiritual advisor," Ivak is finding all these centuries of celibacy depressing, to say the least. But then, along comes southern belle Gabrielle Sonnier. Is she a reward for his good deeds, or a temptation sent to rattle his lustsome brain?

Or is it love?

Gabrielle, a lawyer, begs Ivak to help get her brother out of prison. Aided by the Cajun LeDeux family and their chief looney bird, Tante Lulu, Ivak reluctantly agrees. And while he alternately tries to seduce and save Gabrielle before the Lucipires run rampant, they both begin to wonder if it's really only lust, or something more.

***************

 Kiss of Temptation is the third book in Sandra Hill’s Deadly Angels series, and given that I’m a big fan of Vampires and Fallen Angels, when I saw that this book encompasses both, I was more than a bit excited! But then toss in Demons, Vikings and Archangels, and I'm sold!
This is a fun, steamy, easy to read story, something you can enjoy on a road trip, a day at the beach, or curled up on your living room sofa. Ivak and Gabrielle are quirky, likable people/beings trying to make the world a better place by righting wrongs, and ridding humanity of Lucipires – demon vampires who infect their victims with the need to sin. Once a major sin has been committed, Lucipires, or Lucies for short, kill their victim before they can repent, damning them to hell.

In her Deadly Angels series, Sandra Hill has created a very unique world, one I enjoyed spending time in. The traditions, the people... truly entertaining. But, I have to be honest – at times the humor was more silly than funny, and distracted me from the story. With so much going on, I could have done with less of the ‘ha-ha’ in order to spend more time exploring the incredibly exciting Vangel world.

I'm looking forward to reading more in the Deadly Angel series.

My thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Immortal Ever After by Lynsay Sands





A kiss doesn’t mean eternity . . .

Valerie Moyer doesn’t believe in vampires—until she is kidnapped by a fanged psychopath! After escaping her bloodthirsty captor, she’s through with creatures of the night. Until she finds herself under the protection of the darkly handsome Anders. Not only is she expected to accept that Anders is immortal, but also that she is the woman destined to be his life mate!

. . . Or does it?

Anders felt a connection to Valerie from the moment he cradled her bruised body in his arms. But before he claims her, he must destroy the vampire who almost stole her from him forever. His job would be easier if Valerie didn’t fight him every step of the way. Still, Anders loves a challenge, and the green-eyed beauty is worth fighting for!

*****


Immortal Ever After is the 18th book in Lynsay Sands’ insanely popular Argeneau series, and a fun, exciting, sexy story! I’ve read more than my fair share of the paranormal romance genre, most especially vampires. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about these tormented souls that draw me in and keep me coming back for more. This is my first taste of Lynsay Sands’ writing and I was very pleased! This world she’s created is exciting, and the characters are intriguing, compelling, and very sexy. It’s not often that I fall in love during my first read of a series, but I fell - and fell hard - for the Argeneau world.

I usually hate coming into a series mid-way because I either end up lost or cringing at the information dump we have to endure. Thankfully, I was neither lost nor cringing because Ms. Sands did a great job of giving us the Argeneau world background without making me feel like I was reading a text book. The story is well written and through dialog between characters – old and new – she imparts everything new readers need to know to feel like we’re part of the story, not just reading about it.

Anders is such a great guy! I can see why everyone loves him, and anyone who’s been anxiously awaiting his story will be very happy! He’s so much fun… open but shy, strong but vulnerable, and not just sexy but super sexy! He’s the kind of vampire I want for my very own!

Valerie is a great heroine. What she’s endured would break most women, but not her. Even though everything she ever thought she knew about the world around her has been turned upside down, she holds it together and does what she has to to survive.

The bottom line: In case you didn’t get it, I really enjoyed this book, and while it was my first experience with Ms. Sands’ Argeneau series, it most certainly will not be my last!

My thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of this story I exchange for an honest review.
 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Duke Diaries by Sophia Nash


Available February 26th.

The latest duke to be undone by drink in Sophia Nash’s Royal Entourage series is also the newest, titled for services rendered to the Crown. Caught in bed with his archenemy’s still-innocent sister the morning after the most outrageous bachelor party of the century, Rory Lennox, the Duke of Abshire, knows his goose is cooked. To make amends he enters into an engagement with her to hold society at bay, but tangles with his growing attraction for this fearless, plucky lady.

Verity Fitzroy is one of five plain sisters of the premier duke, Candover. And while she’s always been fascinated by Abshire, she has far too much pride to marry a gentleman against his will. She insists that she will break off the engagement at the end of the season, even if it renders her unmarriagable.

Meanwhile, a series of entries from a discovered diary begin appearing in a London paper. These entries detail the most scandalous, most shameful exploits of The Royal Entourage. With the French Revolution so fresh in the minds of the populace, these tales of excess could incite the country to a revolt. Speculation is that Abshire recorded his friends misdeeds, but Verity knows who the real culprit is, and the truth could destroy any hope of happiness she has with the duke. But when a series of mysterious accidents takes place, Abshire and Verity must each make peace with the past to discover a passionate love that will transform them forever.

****************

These past few months I’ve had the pleasure and the honor of being one of the current Avon Addicts, a group of women who spread the word and share our love of Avon Books and its incredibly talented authors. The thing I’ve most enjoyed about my time so far as an Addict – aside from having the chance to work with our lovely and fearless Avon Addict Leaders, Jessie Edwards, Caroline Perny, and Pamela Spengler-Jaffee – and also aside from having met some incredible women and fellow Addicts – has been being introduced to a world of amazing authors whose writing I’ve not yet had the opportunity to read, and such is the case with the very talented Sophia Nash.

The Duke Diaries is the third book in Ms. Nash’s Regency period Royal Entourage series. It’s at times light, and at other times moving. It's romantic, it’s sexy – an absolutely wonderful story!

For me to truly enjoy a book, certain things must happen... first and foremost I have to feel a connection to the characters, especially the hero and heroine, and I did. From the start I found Rory Lennox, the Duke of Abshire, and Verity Fitzroy, one of the sisters of Rory’s sworn enemy, to be such wonderful characters. They’re thoughtful, sensible, quirky, passionate, people who I couldn’t help but care for and, as the story progresses, fall in love with.

Another must is that the story has to be entertaining and keep in interested in a way that has me turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning because I can’t get enough. And yes, I got that, too. I understand this series is a historical twist on “The Hangover” which I had never heard of before, but whatever – for me, it’s a unique story that had me laughing, sighing, fanning myself, and hoping for an outcome that would work for everyone, most especially Rory and Verity.

Secondary characters who don’t feel secondary can be difficult to manage, but Ms. Nash pulled this off with flying colors, and this is yet another 'something' I hope to find in my reading. Let’s face it, the heroes and heroines aren’t often the only people on the pages. They need a strong supporting cast of friends and family, otherwise the story can feel a bit… thin. But toss in characters whose presence enhances the story – makes it richer – and I’m going to be happy, if not downright giddy!

And lastly, but most importantly, I need a love story I can believe in. Rory and Verity had to work for their happy ending, and I mean work hard. Through their trials and their triumphs, they earned it, they deserve it, and I know they treasure their future together.
I'm happy to tell you that The Duke Diaries gave me everything I crave, everything I hope for, and then some.

From a historical standpoint, the inclusion of “Prinny” and his demand that the men of his ‘royal entourage’ make restitution for their scandalous behavior – however hypocritical he might be – brought another entertaining layer to the story and had me Googling The Prince Regent to see just how excessive his excesses were. Other authors have used Prinny as a side character in their novels, but the way Ms. Nash brought him into the story… as I’m sitting here writing about it, I’m grinning yet again. I quite enjoyed his meddling and hope to see much of him in Ms. Nash's future stories.

Just a quick note for those who might be wondering; because the author did such a fantastic job of setting up this story, I had absolutely no problem reading it out of order. That said, the series premise is so fun, so entertaining, that I’ll most certainly be going back and reading the previous books, Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea and The Art of Duke Hunting, as well as all the books to come.

The bottom line: The Duke Diaries is a well told story of unwavering devotion. It's about faith and trust, honor and integrity, and falling in love despite the odds. It's about letting go of the past and looking forward to a future filled with happiness, adventure, and that once in a lifetime happily ever after.

Many, many thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of The Duke Diaries in exchange for an honest review. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it’s been!

The Duke Diaries goes on sale February 26th. For more information on this story, please visit: Avon Books - The Duke Diaries by Sophia Nash

And while you’re there, take a look around. You’ll probably find that many of your favorite authors are Avon authors.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Highlander Most Wanted by Maya Banks




In Highlander Most Wanted, a reclusive woman content to live in the shadows shows a Highland warrior the true meaning of love.

Genevieve McInnes is locked behind the fortified walls of McHugh Keep, captive of a cruel laird who takes great pleasure in ruining her for any other man. Yet when Bowen Montgomery storms the gates on a mission of clan warfare, Genevieve finds that her spirit is bent but not broken. Still, her path toward freedom remains uncertain. Unable to bear the shame of returning to a family that believes her dead or to abandon others at the keep to an imposing new laird, Genevieve opts for the peaceful life of an abbess. But Bowen’s rugged sensuality stirs something deep inside her that longs to be awakened by his patient, gentle caress—something warm, wicked, and tempting.

Bowen seizes his enemy’s keep, unprepared for the brooding and reclusive woman who captures his heart. He’s enchanted by her fierce determination, her unusual beauty, and her quiet, unfailing strength. But wooing her will take more than a seasoned seducer’s skill. For loving Genevieve, he discovers, means giving her back the freedom that was stolen from her—even if it means losing her forever.
 *****

Highlander Most Wanted is the second book in the Montgomerys and Armstrongs series. It picks up right on the heels of the first book, Never Seduce a Scot, and while I truly enjoyed that story, I loved this one!
This is one of those rare stories that truly is the perfect blend of romance and passion, despair and hope, trials and triumphs. It's the story of a woman whose world has been turned upside down, her heart and soul destroyed by a man so despicable, there's no doubt that he truly is evil. And the most heartbreaking trial of the story is also one of its triumphs, but I won't go into detail because I'd be giving away too much, and I wont deny you the experience of learning it for yourself. But, I will say that there were times I despised Genevieve for the same reasons I ached for her. This woman so hated, so scorned and mistreated by the McHugh clan is one of my favorite historical romance heroines ever, because despite her year in hell, they never broke her, they only made her stronger.

There were a few times I was sure I'd have to reach through the pages and throttle Bowen Montgomery! Stubborn, so devoted to his clan that I wanted to kick his man bits because I was sure he was too proud, too blind to see the truth right in front of his face... and then he'd stop, think, and realize that not everything is always as it seems. Honorable, compassionate, strong and sexy as sin, Bowen is a hero worthy of a woman like Genevieve.

The bottom line: I really can't say enough good things about Highlander Most Wanted. It's an exciting, sexy, poignant story about never giving up, never losing hope, and never turning your back on love because, in the end, love is all that matters.

My sincerest thanks to Netgalley and Ballantine Books for allowing me a copy of this book in return for an honest review. It was such a pleasure, start to finish.
This is a graphic I put together after reading this story, but knowing I had to wait to post the review. My heart was so filled with emotions that I created a heart made of the words this story is about. I was incredibly flattered - and honored - when Ms. Banks contacted me asking if she could add it to her website. It means so much to me that it meant that much to her.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sea Glass Winter by JoAnn Ross

 

He was used to getting what he wanted. And what he wanted was her.

From the cover: As an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist, Dillon Slater had one of the most dangerous jobs in the military. Now, he’s enjoying the pace of life in Shelter Bay, where he teaches high school physics. He still gets to blow things up, but as the school basketball coach he also gets to impart leadership skills. His latest minefield: fifteen-year-old Matt Templeton—and Matt’s irresistible mother…

Claire Templeton moved herself and her troubled teenage son to the small town of Shelter Bay. Oregon, to escape the bad influences at his school in L.A. But when his attitude earns her a visit from the handsome basketball coach, she wonders if this role model might be too much of a temptation—for her. Because though she isn’t looking for a relationship, she can’t seem to resist Dillon’s playful charm. But what she doesn’t realize is that Dillon isn’t playing games—he’s playing for keeps…  

*****


Sea Glass Winter is the fifth book in JoAnn Ross’s Shelter Bay series. It’s a sweet, sexy, heartwarming story, one I truly enjoyed!

I’ve read several of Ms. Ross’s earlier books but hadn’t yet ventured into this series. Reading this book without having first read the others wasn’t much of a problem… although, we do revisit the characters from the first four books and there’s a lot going on with them, so given the choice, I’d read these in order.

This story is similar in ways to other contemporary romances I’ve read in that the characters are often, for one reason or another, single parents. In this case, the child is fifteen year old Matt, nicknamed “the phenom” for his crazy basketball skills. At the rate he’s going, he’s guaranteed to be picked up by a major college or university – if not straight into the NBA. We spend a lot of time with he and his teammates, and much of that time is watching him grow from the spoiled “star” he was at Beverly Hills High, to a young man who understands that, as clich├ęd as it sounds, “there really is no “I” in team.”

I enjoyed Claire and Dillon… especially Dillon. As far as I was concerned, Claire was taking way too long to get with the program and just give in to her lust for him. There were a couple times when I imagined him just throwing in the towel, walking away and saving himself the frustration, but in the end, when it all worked out, it was great!

As I said, we see a lot of the earlier characters, and knowing where their stories have taken them (now) makes me want to go back and read their books, too. That said, flipping back and forth between so many side-stories... well, I'd have preferred to spend more time getting to know Claire and Dillon... but maybe that's because I didn't have the investment in the earlier couples that I would have, had I read the books in order.

The bottom line: I really enjoyed this story. The relationship between Claire and Dillon wasn’t all angsty or dramatic. It was peaceful, it flowed… it felt real. The storyline itself was also nice. No one getting blown up, no terrorists threatening to take over the world… just a pleasant, feel good, small-town-life story, and sometimes that’s exactly what I'm looking for.

This book was reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Scandalous Viscount by Gaelen Foley


Sebastian, Viscount Beauchamp, lives by a code of honor, and now honor dictates he must marry Miss Carissa Portland. He has no regrets over stealing a kiss from the adorable little busybody--a fitting punishment for putting her delectable nose where it didn't belong. But now, caught in a compromising situation, he knows he must make her his bride. He's faced danger before--but nothing like this!

Carissa is not a gossip--she's a "lady of information." And all she was trying to do was warn the rakehell Beauchamp away from an irate husband. But even she can't flaunt Society, and while her head tells her that Beau's a notorious scoundrel, her heart--and her body--are captivated by his dangerous charm. But when Carissa next goes snooping, the secrets she uncovers about the Inferno Club may prove even more hazardous than falling in love with her own husband.

 *******
 
My Scandalous Viscount is the fifth book in the very popular The Inferno Club series, and true to form, Gaelen Foley has penned a romantic, sexy, exciting tale that kept me up far too late into the night, unable to put it down!
If you’re a fan of historical romance, as I am, then you’ve probably already had the pleasure of reading the written art of Gaelen Foley. You know what I mean when I say that her stories have a level of substance to them that is often lacking in this genre. That’s not to say that they’re heavy, or angsty beyond bearing, but the characters aren’t just words on the page. They become living and breathing people – people I want to know better. I want to know what compels them to do the things they do, their thoughts, their actions - and Ms. Foley gives me that, and more.

I have to admit, I'm a hero driven reader, and Sebastian, Viscount Beauchamp, is my kind of hero! Sexy, exciting, witty, and with a sense of vulnerability about him that makes me want to steal him away and keep him for my very own. I often feel sorry for the heroines of any book I read, because I tend to make them work harder for my affection than I do the hero. That said, Carissa, while there were moments I wanted to throttle her, turned out to be a wonderful heroine, the kind of woman I would want for Sebastian’s happily ever after - if I can't have him for myself, that is.

The bottom line: My Scandalous Viscount has everything I love in my historical romance reads; excitement, intrigue, romance, passion, humor, and most of all, amazing characters whose lives and loves, and whose trials and triumphs keep me completely invested and coming back for more!

My thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. What a pleasure it’s been!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Holly Lane by Toni Blake




Toni Blake’s Destiny series is the perfect blend of contemporary and erotic romance, making each story tender, feel good, and incredibly sexy. I guess I'm pretty demanding, but even in my erotic reading I want a believable story and a good solid relationship with people I can care about. I want to feel an emotional connection - to laugh when they laugh, to cry when they cry, and to sigh when they sigh. Well, Holly Lane gave me all that, and more.

From the cover:

The weather outside is frightful, but kisses by the fire are so delightful …

Sue Ann Simpkins is working hard to rebuild her life and find some holiday spirit. A weekend away from Destiny in a cabin on nearby Bear Lake seems like the perfect Christmas gift to herself—until her ex's best friend, Adam Becker, shows up at the door, claiming the cabin is his! And if that's not trouble enough, how had she never noticed how gorgeous he was?

Alone for the holidays and forced to play a reindeer at the local department store, Adam's been feeling rather Scrooge-ish himself. But finding the smart, sexy woman he's admired since elementary school waiting in the house he rented is helping to brighten his humbug mood. And when a sudden snowstorm strands them together in very close quarters, leading to one very hot night together, Adam soon realizes that what he really wants for Christmas is a second chance at love. Now all he has to do is convince Sue Ann…

I’m being totally honest when I tell you that Sue Ann was not a character I ever thought I’d care about because she just seemed so perfect… too perfect, in fact. Perfectly dressed, perfectly married to a perfect husband, being everyone’s perfect friend with a perfect life - perfect, perfect, perfect… So even when I heard about this story, even when I learned that her perfect world was falling apart, I still wasn’t sure what to think, whether or not I’d become invested in her enough to care what happens. Boy, was I ever a fool to doubt Toni Blake’s ability to not only make me care, but to make me care deeply.

From the very first pages my heart broke for Sue Ann who’s learned that her husband has fallen in love with another woman and wants a divorce. She never saw it coming, and now she has to not only put her life back together, but find a way to build a future for her and her daughter, Sophie. So, was the perfect Sue Ann really perfect? Nope! Did I want to slap her silly sometimes because she was being too stubborn? Yep! But these things, her imperfections and her stubbornness... they were actually part of what made me love her. Her struggles, her heartbreak, her trials and triumphs… I was right there with her, cheering her on, getting to know this woman who was able to overcome her own insecurities and was capable of accomplishing anything!

If you've read much of her writing, you know that Toni Blake has a knack for taking everyday characters who’ve just been floating around the peripherals of a story, of bringing them in, and making them shine. That’s exactly what she did with Adam. What an amazing man he is! Understanding, compassionate, caring, hard working, unconditionally devoted – and of course, sexy as sin! I enjoyed watching him put his own past behind him and open himself up to the possibility of loving again. And it was a delight having the opportunity to see he and Sue Ann grow closer as their relationship transformed from one of friends-since-childhood to lovers, and then to something more.

Another real treat was visiting with Jenny and Mick and getting a glimpse into their married life. They have come so very far together, and their future is looking brighter and brighter.

The bottom line: Holly Lane is a Christmas story, it’s true, but this much love, this much happiness, hope and passion should be celebrated all year 'round. I’m so very glad I finally took this off the shelf and spent this Valentine's Day surrounded in the magic of Christmas in Destiny, Ohio.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Anything for You by Jessica Scott


Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison has spent a year recovering from his combat injuries. A year spent in the arms of the woman of his dreams. But loving Jen comes with a price: every time he touches her, he faces the uncertain fear that loving her might mean losing her forever.

Jen is a breast cancer survivor and with Shane, she’s found a man who loves her despite her scars. But her scars may be too much for their love to survive.

As their love grows, so does the risk to Jen’s life. And Shane must make the toughest decision any man can make to save the woman he loves.

*****

Anything for You is a short, sweet, touching story, revisiting Shane Garrison and Jen St. James from Because of You, the first book in Jessica Scott’s Coming Home series. If you haven’t already read Because of You, I would strongly encourage you to do so before reading this story, as it’s a continuation of Shane and Jen’s developing relationship.

If you’ve read the books in this series, you know that the draw is how honest these stories are. They’re what life is really like for military men and women who have to face the same things we do. It’s not always about blowing up terrorists or saving the world from corrupt leaders… these are real stories about real people making the same life decisions that real people make, and that means that I connect with the characters, every single time.

Anything for You is a very tender story about loving a cancer survivor. Shane’s concerns, his fears that Jen might get sick again one day don’t stop him from loving her, but they are coming between them in one of the most painful ways any couple can imagine. Ms. Scott tells this story in such a way that my heart broke for them both because I could completely feel where they’re coming from. This is an issue that many cancer surviving couples have to deal with, and there’s no right or wrong to it. Just supporting one another, and living and loving with everything in you because the future gives no guarantees of what’s to come. So, while the choices they had to make, and the things they may one day have to face broke my heart, it gave me such hope and so much happiness for them, and that's what matters.

Ms. Scott, thank you so much for writing this story…for all the books in the series, but especially this one. I know what it's like to wonder, "will it come back?" It's not fun, but it's always there, always a possibility, and everyone's stories deserve to be told, especially the "real" ones. This is life. This is love. This is real. So yeah, thank you.

Anything for You was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Agent of Desire by Charlie Evans


Adrenaline junkie Jessica Booker joined the CIA to take on bad guys and flirt with danger. And with perks like sleeping with hot foreign men added into the mix, well…it’s a pretty sweet deal.

Now in Paris, she’s about to take on her second assignment as an official agent but is caught off guard when her new partner turns out to be Sims, a sexy CIA instructor. Sims was hard enough to resist in the classroom—in the field, he's a dangerous distraction. To make matters worse, Jessica’s target is a gorgeous Frenchman who manages to put her in the most compromising positions—positions she doesn’t altogether mind.

With rogue agents, classified secrets, and tempting men at every turn, this mission will prove to be the first real test of her skills, both in and out of the bedroom.

*******
 
Agent of Desire is Charlie Evans’ debut novel, as well as the first book in her Jessica Booker series. It’s a fast paced, entertaining, and sexy story.
This is told in the first person, from Jessica’s POV. There are a lot of things I liked about this book, including the way it unfolds, and all the twists and turns that kept me trying to figure out who the bad guys really are. It's nice to get this kind of story in which the heroine is the lead, and to see what is normally a man's world from a woman's perspective.

Another thing I really like about it is the heroine. Jessica is a strong, intelligent woman, though she does make some mistakes – trusting the wrong people, to start with – but still in all, a great heroine. She’s got an attitude that screams “don’t fuck with me” but she knows when she messes up and isn’t afraid to admit it. Not all heroines are as honest with themselves as Jessica is.

It's not always easy to tell a story in first person POV and still be able to get inside the hearts and minds of all the characters involved and, I'm sorry to say, that's something I missed in this story. As much as I enjoyed Jessica, I didn’t feel the connection – the draw – between her and the other players.

The hard thing about telling a tale from this point of view is that we're only going to get what the narrator (Jessica) gives us, and I really do think that’s where my inability to connect to anyone but her stems from. We got plenty of what's going on inside her, but not enough of what the others are feeling. In my opinion, with this being an erotic story, the sex scenes would have felt sexier had I gotten more of a reader/character connection.

The bottom line: Ms. Evans is definitely a talented writer and I enjoyed this world she's created. Agent of Desire is an impressive debut novel and start to the Jessica Booker series.

My thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

All He Ever Dreamed by Shannon Stacey



Josh Kowalski is tired of holding down the fort—better known as the Northern Star Lodge—while his siblings are off living their dreams. Now that his oldest brother has returned to Whitford, Maine for good, Josh is free to chase some dreams of his own.

As the daughter of the lodge's longtime housekeeper, Katie Davis grew up alongside the Kowalski kids. Though she's always been "one of the guys", her feelings for Josh are anything but sisterly. And after a hot late-night encounter in the kitchen, it's clear Josh finally sees her as the woman she is.

Katie's been waiting years for Josh to notice her, but now that he has, she's afraid it's too late. Giving her heart to a man who can't wait to leave town is one sure way to have it broken. But Josh keeps coming up with excuses not to leave—could it be that everything he's ever wanted is closer than he could have imagined?

*****

All He Ever Dreamed is the sixth book in Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski Family series and, start to finish, I couldn't put it down!

A little back story: I’ve absolutely loved every book in this series, but there’s been something about Josh that has been tugging at my heartstrings since I first set eyes on him. He’s the youngest of the Kowalski siblings and as each of the others left home to build their own lives, Josh’s life has seemed less and less in his control. Everyone’s assumed he’d run Northern Star Lodge, but they never asked if that’s what he wanted to do. He was becoming more and more frustrated and bitter, but then one day he got a lucky break – literally. He fell off a ladder and broke his leg. As his siblings come home to help with the lodge, they start to see that Josh isn't as happy to be there as they thought he was, and this is when he finally tells them how he really feels about being left behind to run the family business.

So that brings us to now...Josh’s story, and it’s every bit as emotional as I had expected, and Josh is every bit the honorable, devoted – and very sexy – man I knew he would be! There were times I wanted to smack him right upside his gorgeous head and knock some of the stubbornness out of him, and other times I wanted to bring him home and love him all better! Such a great, great man he’s turned out to be.

Katie Davis – I adore Katie. Her mom, Rosie, has been the Northern Star's housekeeper forever, so Katie grew up with the Kowalski kids. She’s been Josh’s best friend for as long as she can remember, but that friendship became something more - to her. She fell in love with him. Katie knows that in Josh’s eyes, she’s just “one of the guys” and she’s sure he’ll never see her any other way, but with a little encouragement from friends and family, she decides to pull out all the stops and make him see that she’s all woman, she’s all his, and always has been! And this made for some very funny, very romantic, and very sexy reading!

And as always, these stories wouldn't be nearly as fun as they are without revisiting the rest of the Kowalski friends, family and neighbors! It's always such a treat to catch up with them. They are caring, devoted, amazing people, people I can’t get enough of!

The bottom line: Contemporary Romance fans, Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski Family series is not to be missed! These stories are sweet, sexy, emotional tales that are guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face and a sigh in heart!

My thanks to Carina Press and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review. It’s been an absolute delight!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Red Diary by Toni Blake



Sun, sand, and one woman's private fantasies recorded in a seductive red book . . .

Prim and proper Lauren Ash has a secret side no one else sees—she records her sexual fantasies, in intimate detail, in a very personal book meant for her eyes only.

When hired-hand Nick Armstrong finds the red diary, he's shocked…and aroused. Never before has he come across anything so private—or so sensual. And given the way the Ash family has hurt his, he soon begins to see this as a potent weapon for righting an old wrong. Wouldn't it serve the haughty Lauren right if he used her own fantasies to seduce her, make her fall in love, and then break her heart?

But there's much more to Lauren than Nick expects, and before he quite realizes it, he's opening himself—and his heart—to her. Can Nick let go of the past and surrender to Lauren, body and soul?

*****
The Red Diary

This is one of Toni Blake’s earlier novels, written in 2004 and recently re-released. It's a very steamy read and while there were things I loved, there were things I didn’t love, but still, all-in-all, an enjoyable story.

The plot:

Lauren Ash is the daughter of Ash Builders owner, Henry Ash. On the outside she’s prim and proper, but Lauren has a naughty secret – her red diary, in which she pens all her deepest, most erotic fantasies, never in her wildest dreams thinking that anyone else will ever read them.

Nick Armstrong is the owner of Horizon Painters, and he has a secret too. His company has been hired to paint Lauren’s house and Nick takes the job himself, wanting a glimpse of her life – a life that should have been his. But twenty years ago Lauren’s father cheated Nick’s father out of his half of the business, and now just a glimpse of the life he missed out on isn’t enough. Now Nick wants revenge, and he thinks he might just have found the way to get it – Lauren’s diary.

The characters:

Nick is a likeable character - very sexy, very smart - though I wasn’t completely on board with his reasons for wanting revenge, or the way he was going about getting it. But, he’s a man with a lot on his plate: running his own company, and helping support his sister Elaine and handicapped brother Davy. And he's got a lot on his mind: the grudge he’s been holding onto, one that’s turning him into a bitter, angry man.

Lauren’s character started out very weak, in my mind. She was easily led around by her friend, Carolyn, never really standing up for herself or making her own wants known. As the story progresses, she becomes a much stronger woman, but still, I never really connected with her.

The story:

As I said, this is a very sexy story, but the things I most enjoyed about it had nothing to do with sex, or our hero and heroine. What tugged at my heart and kept me turning the pages was the tragic story of Nick’s younger brother, Davy. He’s got such a sweet boy's heart and soul, trapped in a man’s body, after suffering a horrific, brain injury. It was the time I spent getting to know him, his likes and his interests, that really had my attention. What an emotional side-story his is.

The bottom line:

I'm a huge fan of Toni Blake's Destiny series, as well as her H.O.T. Cops series written as Lacey Alexander, and while I really did enjoy The Red Diary, I didn't love it. I had issues with Nick's sneaking around Lauren's house, reading her diary and plotting his revenge on this woman who had nothing to do with her father's deception. I also had issues with Lauren, in general. I found myself more interested in the secondary story-lines than that of our hero and heroine.

My thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of The Red Diary in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Wicked Ties by Shayla Black



She didn’t know what she wanted until he made her beg for it...

Morgan O’Malley has seen a lot of kinky things as the hostess of a cable sex talk show. But she’s never met a man like Jack Cole before. A self-proclaimed dominant, he’s as alpha as a male can get–and good for Morgan to have around when an obsessed stalker ratchets up his attempts to get to her.

Though Jack is a bodyguard, Morgan feels anything but safe in his presence. Because slowly and seductively, Jack is bringing her deepest fantasies to the surface. And when he bends her to his will, what’s more shocking than her surrender is how much she enjoys it–and starts to crave his masterful touch. A willing player in Jack’s games, Morgan knows that his motives aren’t pure, but she has no idea how personal they are…

*****

I haven't been posting reviews of truly erotic stories here, for reasons I won't go into, but I've decided to remedy that and what better way to start than with Jack **swoon** Cole's  story.

This story is not recommended for readers under 18.

Wicked Ties is the first book in the erotic Wicked Lovers series, and when I started this book I figured it would be just another sexy read by Shayla Black. WOW! Was I ever wrong! Not about the “sexy read” part, but about the “just another” part of the “sexy read” comment.

Jack Cole is a bodyguard, an alpha male and self proclaimed Dominant. He’s given the opportunity to appear on a cable sex talk show and discuss his sexual proclivities with Morgan O’Malley, the skeptical host of the show. She’s not buying into the whole Dom/sub thing, and Jack's hints that she might actually like it if she tried it. She expected to have to deal with an arrogant, bossy male at their first meeting at a trendy, outdoor cafe, but what she wasn’t expecting was to be shot at. Things quickly go from fun and games, to life or death, but lucky for her, Jack knows his stuff and gets her safely out of the crosshairs. So, this is where the story really takes off as Jack does whatever he has to, to both protect and seduce Morgan.

Having been instantly captivated by the story and finding Jack so incredibly attractive, I was surprised by my reaction to Morgan, who I think was just ok. I didn’t “connect” with her on any level, really and I often found her more than a tad annoying. However Jack…*sigh* … Jack was amazing. I can’t even put my finger on what it was about him that was so compelling, so demanding, so… perfect.

When reading an erotic book like this I don’t expect much in the way of storyline or character development but I have to say that Wicked Ties has it all. Fantastic story, amazing characters, incredible sexual tension… I couldn’t put it down and in fact, Wicked Ties turned out to be one of my favorite reads in a very long time and Jack Cole has a place of honor on my Top Heroes reading shelf.

Sexual Content: Yes. That is to say, this book contains just about everything except m/m. This story is not recommended for readers under 18.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dancing on Coals by Ellen O'Connell


After escaping robbers intent on murder, Katherine Grant says, "I jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Before long I'll be dancing on the coals." The highwaymen were the frying pan; the handsome young Apache who saved her from them was the fire; and the coals? Gaetan.

Rage against the enemies of his people has consumed Gaetan from boyhood. The only use he ever found for any white was to test the sharpness of his knife. Forced by his brother to endure Katherine's company, Gaetan tries to deny what he sees—the white woman has a man's temper and a lion's courage. She has an Apache heart.

In spite of hate, distrust and fear, surviving in the rugged country of southern Arizona and northern Mexico forges a strange bond between Katherine and Gaetan. When the bond turns to love, can they admit it? Can they bear the consequences?

*****

Well, as usual, I’m late the game. So many of my friends have read this book and raved about it. They’ve nudged me, telling me it’s amazing and that I had to read it. Every so often I’d get a reminder that I had it sitting here, just waiting for me to pick it up… and still, I put it off. But, I finally did it and, as usual, my friends were right.
I’m just going to share a few thoughts with you, since there are already so many wonderful reviews on this book.

When I read a book I want the time I spend to be worthwhile, so I’m always looking for stories that make me forget that I’m just reading a book. I love it when I’m swept away to another time and place, living a life very different from my own, a life I’d never otherwise get to experience. That’s what Dancing on Coals was like for me.

For the few days I spent reading this story, I’d close my eyes and try to imagine what it was like to be a lone woman in an unfamiliar land, finding myself living with a people whose traditions and ways of life were completely foreign to me. What it was like to have the wind whipping through my hair while on horseback, riding faster and faster, as if my very life depended on it, because it did. Seeing the ocean for the very first time. Falling in love with someone I had every reason to hate, and being thankful for all the horrible things that happened to me because without them, I would never have met him.

This is a tale that is, at the same time, both ugly and beautiful. It took me places I’ve never been, made me feel things I’ve never felt. And most importantly, it's a beautiful love story, and I can’t ask for more than that.

Ice Blue by Anne Stuart


 Museum curator Summer Hawthorne considered the exquisite ice-blue ceramic bowl given to her by her beloved Japanese nanny a treasure of sentimental value--until somebody tried to kill her for it. The priceless relic is about to ignite a global power struggle that must be stopped at all costs.

It's a desperate situation, and international operative Takashi O'Brien has received his directive: everybody is expendable. "Everybody." Especially the woman who is getting dangerously under his skin as the lethal game crosses the Pacific to the remote and beautiful mountains of Japan, where the truth can be as seductive as it is deadly....

*****

Ice Blue is the third book in Anne Stuart’s popular Ice series, and another exciting, sexy story. This time we're taken on wild ride as The Committee seeks to thwart a crazy villain’s attempt to “cleanse the world” with fire.
Well, I gotta tell you, there’s something wildly addictive about these books – in a twisted kind of way. The villains are always very ambitious in their evil plans for world domination, or as is the case in Ice Blue, True Ascension. In a note from the author, Ms. Stuart gives us a little background to this story:
The True Realization Fellowship and its leader, the Shirosama, is very loosely inspired by the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan and their charismatic leader, Shoko Asahara. Most people remember the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subways twelve years ago, when terrorist attacks were less common, and there's something about cults, Jonestown and the like, that are macabre and fascinating. Believe it or not, the real characters were just as badly behaved as my fictional ones—sometimes more so. I simply used Aum as a jumping-off point to create my own delusional madman.
And what a madman he is! Knowing there are really people out there who believe they are "chosen" to cleanse the world added an element of evil to the story that was chilling.

I still can’t believe that I fall so in love with these “heroes” who are willing to do whatever they have to do to complete their mission, and I do mean “whatever” they have to do. This includes sacrificing the heroine to the bad guys, or as the case may be, in order to make sure the bad guys can’t get their hands on her, killing her himself! Luckily, Fate always steps in just in the nick of time and creates a diversion that allows the hero to put off the inevitable… until the inevitable is no longer, and he realizes that he’s screwed. Because that’s what falling in love is. Screwed.

Okay, so I’m speaking in generalizations here, this is true, but so far every hero in this series is amazing and I love them for the same reasons I hate them. They’re sexy and they know it. They’re smart and they know it. They’re without heart and conscience and they know it… and they use all of these things to their advantage. So do you see why I have the Love/Hate relationship with these men that I do?

Thankfully the heroines are not TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) though from time to time they do walk the edge. They’re strong, independent, compassionate, wise and insightful. And they have to be all of these things to bring their men out of the dark world they exist in, and into the light. But don’t worry, these gamma males never lose their edge, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I absolutely adore Takashi and Summer. They’re a perfect match in every way, even more than I could have imagined. Apart they are amazing, but their strengths and their weaknesses complement one another and together they make a perfect, complete whole.

I'm so looking forward to reading more of this series!