Saturday, October 30, 2010

Skin Tight by Ava Gray

This book scared the buhjeezus out of me! And I loved every minute of it!!!

You know, we all have our fears, our worse nightmares. For some of us, it’s the Bogey Man, for others it’s Bloody Mary. What takes place in this book is one of my own fears. Now, it’s not a horror novel in the ghost, demon, vampire, or “I’m going to kill you and eat your parts” sense of the word, but this book made me cringe more than once, just the same. A cross between Christine Feehan’s Ghostwalkers and the TV series, Heroes, it’s a story about people with too much power and money, who will stop at nothing to gain more of both. And call me a crazed conspiracy theorist if you want to, but I believe the very things portrayed in this book are taking place, somewhere in the world – and it scares the hell out me that anyone can have such little regard for human life.

I read and loved Skin Game, but wow, I never saw the storyline take the turn that it did in Skin Tight. Addison Foster was one nasty piece of work in that book and I couldn’t imagine how I would ever come to see him as a hero, but I was wrong. Mia Sauter didn’t strike me as a woman I could accept as a strong heroine, either, but I was – one again – proven wrong. I found both to be very compelling, sympathetic characters and it didn’t take long for me to be cheering them on in their shared mission to find and “exterminate” the bad guys.

Seriously, I could go on and on and on, but if I do, I know I’ll end up giving away too much, so I’m going to force myself to stop now, other than to say that the Skin series by Ava Gray is one of my best discoveries of 2009/2010 and I anxiously awaiting the next book, Skin Heat, due to hit the stands on January 4th, 2011.

Knowing what Gillie’s ability is, I wish things could have turned out better in the end for Lexie, but as is often the case in the real world, we don’t always get the happy endings we want. But that knowledge didn’t stop me from sobbing like a ninny when her end came, without the happiness.
***End Spoiler***

Reading order and book covers because they are just so sexy looking I can’t stop myself from posting them: 

 1. Skin Game (Skin, #1)  2. Skin Tight (Skin, #2)  3. Skin Heat (Skin, #3)


Friday, October 29, 2010

Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione

“UGH? Your hospital is called ‘ugh?’ Oh, that’s precious.”

I’m not going to go into a lot of plot detail, because honestly, there are already so many wonderful reviews out there, so I’ll just briefly share my thoughts on this book which is an awesome start to a great series.

The underlying story line of good vs. evil, with a very gray area defining them, has been done over and over by many authors, but very few have done it this well! And I was more than a little surprised because it can’t be easy to carve your own niche in a genre where everything’s been done to death, but Ms. Ione has created a world unlike any other, and I’m thrilled to have finally taken the leap into that world known as Demonica.

Saving the lives of demons, vampires, werewolves and any other number of species, is all in a day’s work for Eidolon, the head of Underground General Hospital. A demon himself, he knows what a bad rap his race has gotten, and so he tries to be fair in his treatment of everyone, including Tayla Mancuso, a demon-slayer who has been brought into Eidolon’s hospital, barely alive. Torn between saving her life or killing her, or saving her life so his brothers can kill her, Eidolon finds himself drawn to her at the most inopportune time in his life – just as he’s about to go through a horrific transformation that will make him one very dangerous Seminus demon.

Tayla Mancuso is a demon-slayer who takes her work seriously. Having witnessed her own mother’s murder at the hands of a demon, Tayla has made it her life’s mission to rid the world of as many of the monsters as possible. But as luck would have it, she’s landed in a hospital - a demon run hospital at that - and all she wants is to get out of there as quickly as possible. Oh, and to have wild monkey sex with her doctor. There were several laugh out loud moments in the book, like this one when Tayla has been unconscious and is finally coming out of it. Though her mind is foggy, she’s been admiring the doctor who has been working to save her life and says, "I'll bet you could make a woman throw out all her toys." Had she said that out loud? The cocky grin on his face told her that yes, she'd verbalized her runaway thoughts.

As I said, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on plot details, so I’ll close with another favorite snippet, a quick exchange which also takes place between Eidolon and Tayla:

She had a feeling he was messing with her, but it didn’t matter. She couldn’t take the bite. Not until she asked the vital questions that had been bugging her since she woke up.

“So, uh, where am I exactly? And what do you plan on doing with me?”

“You’re at Underground General Hospital. As you can probably guess, we specialize in nonhuman medical care. Our location is secret, so don’t ask.”

“UGH? Your hospital is called ‘ugh?’ Oh, that’s precious.”

The bottom line – If you enjoy PNR and are looking for something a little different than what we usually find in this genre, I would encourage you to give this book a shot.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley

Where can I find an "I LOVE LIAM" bumper sticker?

Pride Mates was a great start to a new series! The introduction into the Shiftertown world and hierarchy was interesting and never boring, which is no small feat for the first book in a series. The way the characters were developed and introduced into the story made me feel like I was meeting new friends, and not reading a who’s who of the Shifter world.

I loved Liam! I loved him so much that I want an I LOVE LIAM bumper sticker. He was such an awesome alpha, but also a wonderful man. Dylan, Sean and Connor will be excellent heroes in upcoming books, there’s no doubt about it.

My biggest problem with this book is that, as I said, it’s the first book in the series, and the only book of the series currently published. When I found that out, I was a tad miffed. Why can't these authors write faster?? Oh well, what’s one more series to have to wait impatiently for?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This fallen angel can fall on me, anytime!

Talk about yummy goodness. I'd love to trace each and every one of this angel's feathers with my tongue.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dark Slayer by Christine Feehan

What was I thinking?

I’m a huge Christine Feehan fan. I love her writing, the way she describes emotions, personalities and tortured heroes and heroines. The last several books have focused heavily on the Carpathian’s deep relationship with Mother Earth and I absolutely love that Ms. Feehan can make me feel that same bond through their words and actions. But, the stories had begun to be somewhat predictable (probably because I read the first 19 back to back) and my adoration of the Carpathians began to fade, so much so that I put off reading this book for over a year.

And don’t I just want to kick myself now!

Some of you will understand this, and some of you won’t, but not since Zsadist walked across the pages of Lover Awakened and into my life, have I found such tortured souls as I have in Razvan and Ivory. Their betrayals at the hands of those they loved and trusted, their loneliness, and their uncompromising sense of honor in the face of unimaginable horrors was both heartbreaking and heartwarming – and dare I say it? I believe that in Razvan I might just have found a tortured hero almost as near and dear to me as my beloved Z. And if you don’t know who I’m talking about, you really need to read The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. Really!

And Ivory. Wow, what an amazing heroine she turned out to be. She's strong, determined, honorable and one of my all time favorite heroines. And she is probably the only person in the world who could ever relate to Ravan’s suffering and be able to understand his level of self hatred, because she herself has so much of the same emotions. And one of the things I most loved about her, was that we didn’t spend ¾ of the novel hearing about how she didn’t want to be Razvan’s lifemate, that she wanted to be her own woman! How she didn’t need any male, and blah blah blah. She knew that she could be herself and his lifemate. I LOVED that she accepted Razvan for who he was and who he wasn’t, knowing that he accepted her in the very same way.

I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a Carpathian novel this much in a long time. We get to revisit so many of the earlier characters and see how they’ve grown. How much they’ve learned! I laughed, I sighed and I cried like a baby. Dark Slayer has totally rekindled my love of the Carpathian people who continue their struggle to to defend and ensure the existence of their race, and do so while maintaining their honor and not losing their souls to the dark.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

IT IS A TRUTH universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains. Never was this truth more plain than during the recent attacks at Netherfield Park, in which a household of eighteen was slaughtered and consumed by a horde of the living dead.

This book, very simply put, is Pride and Prejudice meets Dawn of the Dead. It’s the classic story, rewritten to include zombies, also known as “unmentionables” and “the sadly stricken.”  I felt that the author, Seth Grahame-Smith, did a wonderful job of integrating zombies into such a beloved classic, and I found those to be my favorite parts of the book. This story had me smiling and even laughing out loud because I loved the dry, tongue in cheek humor found throughout this book.

In some ways, this is a tough review to write because I enjoyed the idea of the story more than I enjoyed the story itself, and  I can't stress enough that that was no fault of the author. In fact, the entire problem was my own. For the first 1/3 of the book, I had such a hard time reading and understanding the Austen era writing – the day to day language – and often found my mind wandering because I just couldn’t seem to follow along with the story. I’ve only read small parts of the classic itself and from what I could tell, Mr. Grahame-Smith stayed true to the original story, and that made the incorporation of those poor “dreadfuls” all the more fun, and kept me reading even though I was, as I said, having a hard time following the dialogs.

I think the best way I can give you a true idea of what I’m trying to convey is to share with you some of the more memorable moments:

1. This scene takes place while Elizabeth is staying at Netherfield Park during Jane’s convalescence:

The day passed much as the day before had done. Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley had spent some hours of the morning with the invalid, who continued, though slowly, to mend; and in the evening Elizabeth joined their party in the drawing room. The card table, however, did not appear. Mr. Darcy was writing, and Miss Bingley seated near him, was watching the progress of his letter and repeatedly calling off his attention by messages to his sister. Mr. Hurst and Mr. Bingley were at piquet, and Mrs. Hurst was observing their game.

Elizabeth took up the oiling of her musket stock, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and his companion.

2. This takes place during a dinner with Elizabeth and 2 other main characters, one of whom is turning into a "dreadful," but for some odd reason, only Elizabeth notices it.

As dinner continued in this manner, Elizabeth's eye was continually drawn to (deleted to avoid spoilers), who hovered over her plate, using a spoon to shovel goose meat and gravy in the general direction of her mouth, with limited success. As she did, one of the sores beneath her eye burst, sending a trickle of bloody pus down her cheek and into her mouth. Apparently, she found the added flavor agreeable, for it only increased the frequency of her spoonfuls. Elizabeth, however, could not help but vomit ever so slightly into her handkerchief.

3. During a dinner being held at Netherfield Park, Bingley is annoyed because his kitchen staff hasn’t come to clear away the dishes. He went down to the kitchen to find out what was keeping them and discovered that his staff had become dinner for the “unmentionables.” He goes back upstairs to get Mr. Darcy’s help cleaning up the mess, and Elizabeth Bennet, a highly skilled slayer, insists on coming along to help:

Mr. Bingley led the two of them down a hidden staircase and into the cellar, which was divided into two halves by a long corridor, one side belonging to the servants' quarters and armory, the other to the exercise parlor and kitchen. It was in the latter that a most unfortunate sight awaited them.

Two adult unmentionables, both of them male, busied themselves feasting upon the flesh of the household staff. How two zombies could have killed a dozen servants, four maids, two cooks, and a steward was beyond Elizabeth's comprehension, but she knew precisely how they had gotten in: The cellar door had been opened to let in the cool night air and relieve the oppression of the woodstoves.

"Well, I suppose we ought to take all of their heads, lest they be born to darkness," she said. Mr. Bingley observed the desserts his poor servants had been attending to at the time of their demise-a delightful array of tarts, exotic fruits, and pies, sadly soiled by blood and brains, and thus unusable.

"I don't suppose," said Darcy, "that you would give me the honour of dispensing of this unhappy business alone. I should never forgive myself if your gown were soiled."

"The honour is all yours, Mr. Darcy."

Elizabeth thought she detected the slightest smile on his face. She watched as Darcy drew his blade and cut down the two zombies with savage yet dignified movements. He then made quick work of beheading the slaughtered staff, upon which Mr. Bingley politely vomited into his hands. There was no denying Darcy's talents as a warrior.

"If only," she thought, “his talents as a gentleman were their equal."

4. I wish I could post more and more scenes, but I’ll stop with this final, sweet, heartwarming snippet which takes place after Elizabeth and Darcy have finally declared their affections for one another:

As they made for the house, Elizabeth and Darcy happened upon a herd of unmentionables, no more than a dozen in number, which had quartered itself in a garden not ten yards from the road. The creatures were crawling on their hands and knees, biting into ripe heads of cauliflower, which they had mistaken for stray brains. Elizabeth and Darcy laughed at the sight, and for a moment, resolved to keep walking-as the zombies had failed to take notice of them. But, sharing a glance and a smile, the pair realised they had stumbled onto their first opportunity to fight side by side.

And so they did.

The bottom line – if you found <i>Pride and Prejudice</i> an agreeable read, and your senses wouldn’t be overly offended by the liberties taken by Mr. Seth Grahame-Smith’s inclusion of “dreadfuls” throughout the story, I’d encourage you to give this a try. You might just like it as much as I did.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Until You by Judith McNaught

I really enjoyed this story. I wasn’t sure what to expect after having just read Whitney, My Love which could have been entitled A Tale of Misunderstandings and People Who Are Too Bullheaded To Even Consider Talking Things Out, … but I digress.

Until You was a pleasant surprise.  I enjoyed the storyline and thought Stephen was very charming before he became an ass—but he wasn’t too big an ass considering his bride had left him at the altar. He did wait several hours, hoping she would return. When she didn’t and when he learned where she had gone, he decided to put the past behind him and move on and under the circumstances, who could blame him? But honestly, we could see that he wasn’t really moving on with his life, he was merely going through the motions.

I liked Sherry and couldn’t fault her for being a runaway bride when she learned the truth of who she was. She was so ashamed of what she had learned, humiliated by the way she learned it and then toss into the mix that which Charise was threatening to do to her and the Westmorelands—well,  what was a girl in her shoes to do, I ask you?

One of the things I most appreciated about this story was that Stephen, when presented with the facts, was willing to risk being humiliated once again and arranged to have Sherry brought to him so he could convince her to marry him. There wasn’t a lot of long, drawn out anguish (well, not compared to Whitney, My Love there wasn’t) and things were resolved relatively quickly.  I loved the dramatic entrance of Stephen and Sherry as man and wife into the dowager duchess’s birthday ball, and the sweet and very funny reuniting of Sherry’s family – especially Stephen’s reaction to Rafe, who I believe is deserving of his very own story.

All in all this was, in my opinion, a great read. Not light and fluffy but not overly dark and torturous, either—which after reading Whitney, My Love was a needed and most welcomed change of pace.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lover Mine by J.R. Ward

I’ve tried for months to write a review that would do this book justice but I have so many thoughts and feelings running through my mind that I can’t seem to form a coherent paragraph, much less an entire review! So after months of trying and failing, this is the best I could do. Please allow me to present to you –

My Random Thoughts Raview with Spoilers Aplenty:

Last time I checked, the WARDen wasn’t yet claiming to walk on water, so I see no need to critique her writing style, lack of perfection or editing issues, or the occasional minor inconsistencies. Rather, quite simply put; this is about my thoughts on the many storylines and how this book made me feel which I’ll just say right up front was captivated, fascinated, mesmerized and enthralled. I didn’t think it was possible, but I’m more in love with the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s world and the Brothers themselves than I was before. And yes, even those Brothers who aren’t Brothers, yet.

At first I was annoyed with the page time devoted to the paranormal investigative crew. I just wanted to read about the Brothers, especially John Matthew, and of course, Xhex. But, and I should have known that this would happen, by the time we reached the end of the book it was clear what their role was and I thought it was a rather ingenious way to bring Murhder back into the fold. And now that Xhex knows exactly where he is, I wonder how he’ll be brought into the story. That is one story I can’t wait to read!

Blay and Qhuinn, collectively known as Qhuay, were just as annoying as ever. Well, let me restate that. Qhuinn was just as annoying as ever. There were several times I wanted to slap him right upside his head. I still think that Blay is too good for him, and that Qhuinn has a lot of ass kissing to do before I’ll ever accept him as Blay’s happily ever after. I suppose that eventually we’ll find out why he’s such a bastard to Blay most of the time, so rather than hold a grudge, I’ll wait for his story when, at last, I’ll come to love him. I have a feeling their story is going to be huge based on the buildup we’ve been given.

How many times have we heard that men and women just can’t communicate? Well, I love how Xhex doesn’t need John Matthew’s words to know what he’s thinking or feeling. Her sympath ability tells her everything he cannot, and what’s more, she feels it exactly as he does so there’s never any miscommunication going on. For a long time I had never really felt that she was a compelling addition to the BDB cast of characters, but Lover Mine changed all that like I knew it would. She’s strong and independent yet fiercely loyal. She’s compassionate, yet takes no crap from anyone. She’s sexy and beautiful on the inside as well as the out. She is, in short, John Matthew’s other half that makes their perfect whole. Or, as John Matthew sees it; 'She was the missing piece to his puzzle, the twelfth in his dozen, the first and last page of his book.'

Speaking of John Matthew *sigh* I’ll be honest here; I had a hard time thinking of him as a Warrior. He was still the pre-trans JM I grew to love and I was worried I’d never see him as anything more than that, but by the end of Lover Mine I saw him as what he’d truly become: A male of worth. I loved how we got a closer look into the deeper side of him.  The aggressive, alpha male who wanted to protect his female, and when he felt that he failed, no one or nothing was safe – not even the treadmill ;)

Zsadist, my favorite Brother of them all. Another *sigh* How far he’s come from the days of keeping secrets, hiding his embarrassment of a past he hadn’t chosen and that he’d had no control over. I loved seeing him get real with JM, open up and finally let it be known that they have more in common than JM had ever realized. I hope they get tight.

Oh, how I enjoyed Darius’ journal entries and watching as he and Tohr became such close friends. It was great getting a chance to really meet Darius – to see what we’ve been missing. And I loved how he took care of Tohr when no one else would and how things have really come full circle, haven’t they?

The Scribe Bitch…errrr….ummm… I mean Virgin (like any of us believe that crock of crap anymore) I’m still not liking her. I think it’s time she retire to wherever it is that old, useless Scribe Virgins retire to and let someone else take over – Oh, let’s say No’One perhaps, who would then be too busy trying to repair the previous Scribe Virgin’s screw ups to get involved with Tohr and ruin his and Wellsie’s happily ever after. Note to the WARDen:  feel free to use that story line for No’One. I won’t ask for any credit or royalties, whatever it takes to keep her away from Tohr. Hey, I’m just sayin’…

Lash – ha! He was on top of the world there for awhile, wasn’t he? Thinking he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Whatever. Amazing how quickly and easily the mighty fall… or should I say, fall apart!! **wink, wink**

Payne!!! I loved getting to know her better. I think she’s going to be such a fantastic addition to the story. I can just see her now, trying to help her twin, Vishous, cope with finding out he’s got a sister. Won’t it be interesting to see how that plays out? V had just begun rebuilding that relationship with his mother and now… WOW! That’s going to be some major drama I don’t want to miss!  I’m thrilled that we’re going to get to see Manny in the next book, too. That’s one man who’s been lurking in the wings too long. I want his story, and soon!

And how could I have almost forgotten Layla?!? That poor girl needs to get laid, end of story.

Some of my favorite quotes from this book, though there were many, I’ll only list a few.

**“No, you’ve got it all wrong, John.” Reading his emotions, she shook her head and eased back. “You’re not half the male you could be because of what was done to you. You’re twice what anyone else is because you survived.” -Xhex

**“Motherf**ker. Bastard ass motherf**ker. C**ks**king rat-bitch bastard motherf**ker!” –Blay (I tried using this on my kids to get them to clean their rooms. It didn’t work and the buggers tried to ground me from Goodreads! Hmmmph! Teenagers.)

**‘When she orgasmed, she said his name. Twice. And didn’t it make him glad that even though he had no voice, his ears worked just fine.’ -JM

**‘You are so beautiful, he mouthed. But of course she couldn’t see his lips. Guess he was going to have to show her.’ -JM

**‘There was broad consensus in the room for the plan, as well as some cheap shots involving Lash’s ass and various kinds of large-bore instruments of impact: size-fourteen boots being the most likely to come to pass, but hardly the most creative. For example, John seriously doubted Rhage could in fact park his GTO in the guy’s sun-don’t-shine. Or would want to.’

Once again I’m in awe of the WARDen’s writing ability and how she can consistently give us such deeply compelling characters who we truly do care about. The story lines are so varied and so many, it’s amazing to me she can keep them all straight! And not only keep them straight, but have them become interwoven book after book.  My only complaint is that she’s not writing fast enough to keep my Black Dagger Brotherhood hunger sated. Oh, that and the fact that Zsadist is still with that Bella chick and hasn’t yet realized that I’ll make a much better shellan than she ever could.

The Story of Son by J.R. Ward

The Story of Son is found in the anthology, Dead After Dark, and was my introduction into the Black Dagger Brotherhood world a few years ago. After reading Michael and Claire’s story, I had to run out and buy the entire series and it turned out to be my favorite PNR series of all time.

There’s something so compelling about the race of vampires that the WARDen, J.R. Ward, has created. They are incredibly strong males and females, both physically and emotionally, though sometimes it takes awhile for them to find and accept that inner strength.

In the story of Son, we meet Son, a 68 year old male who is half human, half vampire. We learn that he has been imprisoned in the basement of the estate they live on by his mother, Miss Eliza Leeds, since he was 12 years old. Once a year, his mother, has a female brought to the house and held captive for a few days so Son can feed.

Claire Stroughton, Miss Leeds’ family attorney, is the latest “victim” brought to the house to feed Son, then be released like all the other women who have been brought to him over the years. She finds such tenderness, such innocence and such passion in Son that she can’t help but want to rescue him from the heartache and imprisonment he’s endured for so long and spend the rest of her life loving him.

I was so very happy when Claire took the first step toward making him feel like a real person and  not just an animal meant to be caged up when she gave him a real name; Michael.

One thing that readers of the BDB series will likely question immediately is Michael being able to survive off of feeding only once a year, when we know the warrior vampires require feeding much more often. There’s no indication that Michael is, or will ever be, a Brother. As I said before, he’s a civilian vampire and a half human one at that. I’ve never seen it addressed anywhere by the WARDen as to how often a half human, civilian vampire needs to feed, so it might be very possible that this isn’t an inconsistency at all.

I’m hopeful that this is a question someone can get an answer to either on her own Message Boards or during a BDB chat.

Sugar Creek by Toni Blake

In the sequel to One Reckless Summer we finally meet Rachel Farris, the friend who had left Destiny, Ohio to make a life in Chicago where she’s a talented, successful ad agent. We also get to know Mike Romo, Destiny’s “by the book” police officer who, with his good looks and gorgeous body, seems to have captured the eye of just about every woman in Destiny. Returning home to help her grandmother with this year’s apple harvest, Rachel finds herself being pulled over and ticketed for speeding. This is where the story begins and in a decades old family feud to rival that of the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s, Mike and Rachel face off in a battle of wills to see who will end up owning the Farris family’s apple orchard – Mike Romo, whose family believes the orchard is rightfully theirs, or Rachel Farris who doesn’t really want it, but doesn’t want Mike and the Romo clan to have it either.

I felt like it started a bit slow, but the background story was interesting. Not many authors can pull this kind of back-story writing off, where there is so much detail given. The problem I had with it however, was that I was so interested in finding out what was going to happen with Mike and Rachel, that I didn’t really have the patience to read each and every word of Grandma Edna’s and Giovanni Romo’s story.

There was a lot of sexual and emotional tension between our hero and heroine that gradually escalated into some crazy hot sex-capades which they both denied was anything more than physical attraction. It didn’t take long though, before they were both stunned to realize that despite generations old bitterness, they really were attracted to each other – not just physically, but to the real person on the inside.

Spoiler: Mike had spent years dealing with the emotional baggage – the guilt over the loss of his little sister, Annie, who went missing while he was supposed to be watching her. He was only about ten years old himself at the time and probably shouldn’t have been left in charge of his younger siblings in the first place but, even as an adult he still just can’t forgive himself. This is one of those times when, even though I wish everything could have been set to rights and the mystery of Annie’s disappearance solved, we know that real life doesn’t work that way and yes, even though this is a fictional story, sometimes it’s refreshing, albeit painful, to see that not everything turns out the way we’d like it to and after so many years of not knowing, to have wrapped that up in this book would have been too convenient, unbelievable. However, that said, at some point in the series I’d like for Mike to at least find out what happened to his sister, and even his brother, because while we all know that life doesn’t always give us the closure we need, as I said before this is a fictional writing and it would be nice to know. End Spoiler

I’m hooked on Toni  Blake’s Destiny Series and am anxiously awaiting the next book, Whisper Falls due out in January 2011.

One Reckless Summer by Toni Blake

This is yet another “first read of an author new to me” and I really wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this story, but having read some great reviews I knew to look forward to, at the very least, an entertaining read. Well, I got that for sure, and much, much more. There are so many things to love about One Reckless Summer, I'm just not sure I can list them all. It’s a story about unconditional love, about not judging people until you’ve gotten to know them and given them a chance to prove what kind of person they really are, and about not allowing other people’s opinions of you to affect you so much that you change the person you are.

Jenny Tolliver was Destiny Ohio’s “good girl,” a nick name she had never resented until her husband had an affair because Jenny was too “good” for the kind of sex he wanted, so “good” in fact that he couldn’t even bring himself to  tell her about the kind of sex he wanted. He called her a modern day June Cleaver, and from that point on, Jenny couldn’t stand being thought of as a “good girl” anymore because being a “good girl” had destroyed her marriage – at least that’s how she saw it. And yes, I'm overusing the term “good girl” because that’s what the people of Destiny did, too. She was never just Jenny; in fact, they used the term “good girl” so much that Jenny and I both wanted to scream.

Mick Brody was the opposite of Jenny Tolliver – he was Destiny’s “bad boy.” His parents were alcoholics who fought all the time and his brother was rotten to the core, so… it just stood to reason that Mick was the apple that didn’t fall far from the tree, right? So who could blame the fine folk of Destiny for not trusting him, for thinking so poorly of him? Trouble, that’s what he was.  What they didn’t know was that yes, he was a boy who was headed down the wrong path, but when he saw which direction said wrong path was taking him, he took control of his future, left Destiny where he knew he’d never be given the chance to amount to anything in the eyes of its residents, turned his life around and became a good, hard working man.

It was quite by accident that Mick and Jenny bumped into each other one night and it was lust at first sight—or maybe they sensed something of themselves in one another, that connection that only someone else grieving, someone with a shattered heart would recognize in another person. Their relationship immediately became purely sexual, or so they kept telling themselves and each other. Normally, this kind of “no strings attached” sexual relationship doesn’t do anything for me, but in this case it was so painfully clear to me that they needed each in such a primitive way, needed that physical connection of one human being to another, someone to help them through the loneliness and the sorrow they were both feeling, that I couldn’t fault them for the way they found it.

Spoiler: There were many instances where I cried for the heartache Mick had to endure watching his brother slowly, painfully die, but this one scene, after Wayne had passed and the pain of waiting for him to die was over, had me sobbing.

As he looked at his brother’s limp, lifeless body, he wondered who would remember Wayne—who would remember that he could be funny, that’d he’d been good at math, that he’d liked horses as a kid but had never ridden one. It would be like Wayne had never existed—and due to the circumstances of his death, Mick couldn’t even give him a decent gravestone to mark his passing.

Despite the fact that Wayne couldn’t hear him anymore, he heard himself say, “I’ll remember you,” just before the tears flowed down his face.

Several years ago was diagnosed with a deadly form a cancer and had begun wondering if <i>I</i> would be remembered when I’m gone. Would I be missed? So reading Mick’s thoughts, and his words, brought all that back and made Wayne’s death personal – truly heartbreaking, not just for his physical and emotional struggle with dying, but for Mick who had to watch, unable to do anything more for the brother he so loved than try and ease his passing. End Spoiler

This was such an amazing story, and I’ll be honest, loaded with very passionate sex. The thing is, this is one of those books where the story itself was so, so good that it didn’t need the sex to keep it emotionally charged because it was the people, Jenny and Mick, who made this book so poignant. Through their understanding, compassion and the need to love and be loved for who they truly are, they captured a place in my heart and made me laugh, cry, and yes, I did a lot of fanning myself.

I’m definitely reading the next book in this series, Sugar Creek.