Monday, August 29, 2011

Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

“But you’re— you’re—”

“A virgin?” There was a note of amusement in his voice. “True. But just because I don’t believe in poaching out of season doesn’t mean I can’t hunt.”

As I’m sitting here trying to write this review, I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved Unclaimed. So much passion, so much wisdom, so much hope, so much truth, so much… just… so very much!! And quotes? Literally pages worth of quotes I’d love to share with you. Some that took my breath away, some made me swoon, others made me cry.

So, where to begin? Well, if you’re a fan of historical romance, you know how unfair society could be towards “fallen women.” That double standard that literally ruined lives, sometimes for a single “transgression,” while yet allowing men to get away with anything and everything, the more debauched, the better! I adored this book because it took that very issue and stood it on its ear, showing it from an entirely different point of view. I absolutely adored Mark Turner, whose book A Gentleman’s Practical Guide to Chastity, had become an overnight sensation, garnering a near cult-like following of men and women passionate about giving up sex! In fact, so great was his stardom, even Queen Victoria had heard about the book and bestowed Knighthood on Mark!

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how entertaining a book about a male virgin would really be, but leave it to Courtney Milan to make it work! I cheered Sir Mark in his convictions, his reasons for choosing abstinence and his often humorous determination not to be swayed.

Jessica Farleigh was a fallen woman who had reached the point of desperation, and decided to do whatever she had to in order to survive. She had no desire to find herself on the streets again, so in this instance, survival meant seducing the infamous virgin, Sir Mark Turner, in to giving up chastity, and then publicly ruining him by giving away all the details of their night of passion. Having been hired to do so by a ruthless, power hungry politician who wanted Mark destroyed, the money she’d earn if she succeeded would make it so she’d never have to sell her body again. Tired, bitter and desperate, she didn’t care what it would cost the virtuous Mark Turner.

I really am having trouble explaining all the reasons I loved this book. Humor, passion, seriousness... I've decided I'll just share a few of my favorite quotes, in hopes that they can show you why I adore this story so much. It was so hard to choose which ones to include, though, because they’re all so, so good, and so true!

“If you were any other man,” she said softly, “I would think that you had just threatened to seduce me.”

“Worse.” He leaned down, close enough to whisper. “I threatened to like you. I suspect seduction would be easier for you to understand.”

A small smile touched her lips. “Sir Mark, there’s no need to threaten me with anything so drastic as like. Mere acceptance would be sufficiently shocking.”

“A man who is sufficiently strong in his own right need not be jealous of power in others.” He glanced at her. “I know ugly men who insist on ugly wives, believing that they will not stray.” He shrugged. “For myself, I’ve always wanted a beautiful woman.”

She let out a little laugh. “Because you are so beautiful yourself?”

“Because I intend to win her affections to me, mind and soul.” And then, as if in an afterthought, he added: “And body. I definitely look forward to winning her body.”

“It cheapens what I’ve accomplished,” Mark said, “to imagine me a saint. To believe I am untempted, that I pass through this life without feeling lust or want or desire. I said it in the first chapter of my book, and yet nobody seems to believe me. Chastity is hard.

“I hadn’t thought—”

“I want. I lust. I desire.” He scrubbed his hand through sandy blond hair at that, shaking his head. “No. You’re right. You don’t deserve euphemisms. I want you. I lust after you. I desire you.

She might have been the only woman in the world, pinned by his gaze.

“But what I don’t do is act.”

“You’re a duke’s brother. A knight. And I’m a whore.”

He grabbed her wrist. “Don’t call yourself that. I wouldn’t let anyone else talk about you that way— why should I let you?”

“Very well. Call me a fallen woman, then.”

“Do you think that matters to me? My mother used to say that there was no such thing as a fallen woman. You just had to look for the man who pushed her down.”

The bottom line - With Unclaimed, Courtney Milan has outdone herself, and it has become one of my all time favorite historical romance novels. I loved seeing the desire to be chaste from the male perspective - both the humor and the seriousness of it. This story is heartwarming and heartbreaking, romantic and passionate. And don't be concerned that it's a "holier than thou" pulpit pounding tale, far from it. Mark's reasons for his chastity are made very clear, and they'll have you cheering him just as I did. Ms. Milan had me laughing out loud, sighing and wishing it would never end. And visiting with Ash and Smite… so much fun! Unclaimed, is definitely an addition to my Keepers shelf.

This ARC ebook was provided free of charge by in behalf of Harlequin. This had no influence on my rating or my review.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Liberating Lacey by Anne Calhoun

Liberating Lacey is one of those stories that takes you by surprise because it’s been labeled erotica so many times that you go into it expecting nothing but a heaping helping of crazy hot sex. Well, let me just tell you - you certainly do get that, but you also get so much more!

Lacey Meyers is a successful businesswoman whose husband of 15 years has dropped the D-bomb on her. She tried everything she could think of to save the marriage, including spicing up their sex life. Unfortunately – or fortunately as the case may be, she was the only one interested in saving that sinking ship. So here she is, 36 years old and single again, and on the advice of her very best friend, Claire, Lacey decides to test the ‘casual hook-up’ scene. Claire drills into Lacey’s head that she needs to keep it light – that it’s only about sex, and nothing more.

Hunter Anderson is a 28 year old hot, no-strings-attached edgy cop and when he meets this beautiful, sexy woman who’s looking for a no-strings-attached night of passion, he’s not about to turn her down. He’s done this before and he knows the score – keep it light – it’s only about sex and nothing more.

Hunter and Lacey don’t even make it out of the bar’s parking lot before they’re making hot, wild monkey love, and over the next several weeks it becomes clear that their sexual chemistry is off the charts. It’s a win-win situation for both of them, until the one thing neither of them expected to happen did – their “it’s only about sex and nothing more” relationship starts turning into something more.

This is one of those rare books that you can call an erotic read or a great romance and either way you’d be right. Anne Calhoun did a fabulous job of giving us two amazing people who, each for their own reasons, are feeling vulnerable and who are protecting their hearts. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Hunter, even though he was at times callous. In fact, Hunter holds a place of honor on my "Heroes I'd Do Ten Way To Sunday" shelf! And Lacey was such a wonderful, compassionate woman, how could I not adore her too?

The bottom line - This is so much more than just an erotic read. I was laughing one minute and tearing up the next. I wanted to hurry and finish so I could see Hunter and Lacey get their happily ever after and yet, I didn’t want it to end. I’m so glad to have discovered Anne Calhoun and can’t wait to read more of her writing. I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed this story and if all of her books are this good, she’ll be an auto-buy author for me!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sweet Release by Pamela Clare

Sweet Release is the first book in the Blakewell/Kenleigh trilogy, and I don’t even know where to start when reviewing this story, so I’ll skip the plot synopsis and keep it short and sweet. It’s a tale filled with adventure, passion, and romance that will stay with you long after you’ve read those final words. No matter the genre, Ms. Clare knows how to bring her characters to life making them so much more than just names and words on the page, and Alec and Cassie are among my favorites. They are people of honor and integrity who aren’t afraid of hard work. They’re the kind of people who built this country, the ones we read about in our history books - those who have become heroes and legends.

The bottom line – Whether they’re hanging out of helicopters trying to rescue the heroine, or picking tobacco on a Virginia plantation, I can’t get enough of the men and women from Pamela Clare’s stories and find myself constantly on the edge of my seat waiting to see where life will take them next. And hot? Sweet Mary!! Can this woman write some hot, sexy scenes!

I have very few auto-buy authors on my list, but Ms. Clare is one of them. If you’ve read her books then you understand why, but if you haven’t you need to fix that fast because you’re missing out on some wonderful stories!

Oh, and great news!!! If you’ve been trying to track this book down with no success, it’s now available on, and in ebook format for $2.99, and worth every penny!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Real You

Don’t be afraid to see yourself
As the you-that-you’d-like-to-be,
No matter how far removed from the real
The you-of-your-dreams may be. 

Keep dreaming the dream-hitch a ride on a star,
Hold tight-never let yourself fall,
And one day you’ll find that the you-of-your-dreams
Is the you-that-is–real, after all. 
~~Author Unknown to Me

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lord of Rage by Jill Monroe

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess who only really lived when she dreamed. Then one day she woke up surrounded by three glowering bears. With patience and love she tamed the fiercest, and with a kiss transformed the beast into a prince.

Jill Monroe takes pen in hand (or fingers to keyboard) to bring us the second installment of the Royal House of Shadows series, Lord of Rage. This is the story of Princess Breena of Elden, and Osborn, the oldest of three Berserker brothers. If you read the first book, Lord of Vampires which was written by Gena Showalter, you’ll recall that Breena is Nicolai’s sister and like her older brother, she was magically transported away from the tragic massacre that claimed the lives of her parents as well as many of the people of Elden. As this story opens, Breena finds herself lost in a forest, being drawn in a particular direction, but not fully understanding of where or why. The words revenge and survive keep playing through her mind, and so do the memories of her warrior, the man who had awaken her body to sensual pleasure – but only in her dreams.

Ten years before the attack on Elden, on the night of his Bärenjagd, Osborn left childhood behind and became a man. In an ancient ritual that not everyone survived, he journeyed to sacred land looking for the bear he’d do battle with. If he survived, Osborn would become a Berserker, a being both revered and feared for his terrifying strength and killing abilities. He knew that one of them would die this night, and Osborn didn’t plan to be the one.

When he and his father returned to their village after the ritual, they found it under attack by Elden's vampires. It was a well planned attack, taking place when the men were away with their sons who were completing the same ritual as Osborn, and even though they returned as Berserkers, they were too late. On that night Osborn vowed to hunt down and kill all of those responsible for the massacre of his people.

Believe it or not, all of the above takes place in the prologue and first chapter!

Now fast forward to the present time of the story and Breena finds her way to a small cottage, and in Goldilocks and the Three Bears fashion, makes herself right at home, only to be rudely awaken by a gruff man who she recognizes as her dream warrior! Her memories have been slowly returning and she knows that this is the man who can help her get the revenge she so desperately needs.

I really enjoyed the world Jill Monroe created, and while it's very different from that of the first book, it's supposed to be! Each of the royal heirs has a different power or ability, so it stands to reason the worlds in which their stories take place would be different, too.

As for the characters, Osborn, Breena, and Osborn's brothers, Bernt and Torben, I think one of the reasons shorter books seldom get more than 4 stars from me is because there isn't enough time to develop the players into people I really care about. That said, I know that the next books in this series are about the royal heirs, Dayn and Micah, but I wish they were about Bernt and Torben, who I became very fond of. I'm hoping we'll see more of them in the next two books, or perhaps a spin off or a series extension. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed!

Now, while I know the Berserker part of the story told in this book is fictional, it captivated me none-the-less because I've always been interested in ancient traditions and rituals, and the deep meanings they hold within different cultures. As I mentioned, Osborn goes through his Bärenjagd and I appreciated the reverence with which this scene was written. I have such a profound respect for these ages old customs, and while they often ended in violence, they weren’t just for sport. Even though he came out the victor, Osborn felt the weight of what he’d done as he realized it was much harder to take a life than he had thought it would be. But his father’s guidance and wisdom would stay with Osborn for as long as he lived and I'm including this quote because it speaks volumes as to the man Osborn would become.
“It was harder than I thought. I didn’t think I’d feel this way,” Osborn blurted out for no reason he could guess. He regretted his rash words instantly.

That was a boy’s sentiments. Not a man’s. Not a warrior’s.

“It’s not supposed to be easy. Taking of a life, any life, should never be something done without need and compassion.” He stood, slinging his pack over his shoulder. “Guide me to the bear. We must prepare it.”

They trekked silently together, crossing into the sacred land to where the bear had taken its final breaths. His father taught him to honor the bear in the ancient ways, then they set to work.

“Now you possess the heart of the bear. As a warrior of Ursa, you will carry the bear’s spirit with you. Your ber spirit will always be there, waiting silent within you, ready for your call. The strength of the bear comes to you when you wear your Bärenhaut,” his father told him, lifting up the bear pelt. “Do not don your pelt without thought and careful consideration. You will be able to kill, Osborn, and kill easily. But only with honor.”
The bottom line - Lord of Rage is an entertaining installment to the Royal House of Shadows series, but it started strong then hit a plateau that lasted through most of the book. I enjoyed the training scenes, and getting to know Osborn's younger brothers was one of the highlights of this book for me. The ending felt a bit anticlimactic but I was still left wanting to know more about this family! I want to see them come together and, in the end, triumph over the evil which has invaded Elden.

This ARC ebook was provided free of charge by in behalf of Harlequin. This had no influence on my rating or my review.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey

“I have the magic penis, so I get the keys, remember?”

Yours to Keep is the third book in the Kowalski Family series and my first taste of Shannon Stacey’s writing. It turned out to be one of the sweetest, most amusing contemporary romances I’ve read in a long time, and I’m definitely going to be picking up the first two books in this series. And in case you're wondering, reading this one out of order didn't diminish the story at all.

Although I think it would be a fairly common theme, I don’t recall having ever read a book with the “fake fiancé” storyline. I was expecting this to be a light, no-strings-attached-on-my-part read and was pleasantly surprised to find it more than that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely an easy, feel good story, and to my surprise I found myself totally invested in Emma and Sean, as well as Emma's Grandma Cat and Cat's long time friend, Russell Walker, who also had a budding romance. The secondary cast of characters played by friends and members of the family on both Sean’s and Emma’s side helped fill out the story and gave it such a feeling of unbreakable, loving ties that I was reminded of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series, one which I absolutely adore!

I really enjoyed the scenes in which Sean and Emma justified the arrangement, then fought against the feelings that were clearly developing for both of them. Those moments were both funny and heartbreaking as neither one of them could seem to let go of their stubbornness. And the sticky note messages they left for one another because neither could seem to voice what they were thinking were both funny and heartwarming

I want to go on and on about the story, but I know I'd end up giving away too much, so I'll just close with some of my favorite quotes:

“Oh yes, Sean Kowalski. Your amazing kisses have made all rational thought fly out of my besotted brain. If only you could fill me with your magic penis, I know we’ll fall madly in love and live happily ever after.”

The truck jerked and she glanced over to find him glaring at her. “Don’t ever say that again.”

“What? The madly in love or the happily ever after?”

“My penis isn’t magic.” His tone was grumpy, but then he smiled at the windshield. “It does tricks, though.”

“The only trick your penis needs to know for the next three and a half weeks is down boy.”

“You look me in the eye, young man, and don’t you dare lie to me. Do you love Emma?”

“Yes,” he said through gritted teeth.

She released his face and he rubbed his jaw. “Well, that’s a start. And I’m going to guess you didn’t tell her that before you packed your stuff and moved out.”

“I don’t know what I’m doing. Other than not getting any sympathy.”

“If you’re looking for sympathy—”

“I know. It’s between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.” So they’d all heard. Many times. “The brownies are good, though.”

He tilted his head up to look at her. “This whole month was crazy, with all the pretending, but somewhere along the way it stopped being a lie.”

“Did you go getting ideas about me, Sean Kowalski?”

“I did, and it was one hell of an idea, too. I love you, Emma. I think, deep down, that’s what I wanted to write on that blank sticky note I left on the mirror, but I wasn’t ready yet. I’m ready now. I love you and I want you to marry me. For real.”

Honestly, if you’re looking for a fun, romantic, sexy, heartwarming story, give Yours to Keep a try. You won’t be disappointed!

This ARC ebook was provided free of charge by in behalf of Carina Press. This had no influence on my rating or my review.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Touch of Crimson by Sylvia Day

Can a love that transcends death survive a war between angels, vampires, and lycans?

We're about to find out!

A Touch of Crimson is the first book in the Renegade Angels trilogy and takes us on a journey that has spanned millennia. The trilogy chronicles the power struggles among Angels, Lycans, and Vampires as they vie for supremacy. It’s a story of love, loss, and love regained, only to be lost again.

Adrian Mitchell has been keeping Fallen Angels, AKA Vampires, in check for centuries. As head of an elite Special Ops Seraphim team, he’s a Sentinel respected for his ability to lead and keep things running smoothly. Lately however, there seems to be a change in the day to day operations of not only the “bad guys” but the “good guys” as well. If Adrian doesn’t do something about it soon, all Hell could break loose. Now that alone could make for a decent story, but add Lindsay to the mix – the reincarnation of the love of his life, a woman who has died over and over again at Adrian’s hand – and it becomes more than just good read, it’s a great story. Sacrifice or selfishness, it’s up to the reader to decide, but you have to be willing to hang tough through a slow start.

As can be the case with the first book of any new series/trilogy, I felt the story was bogged down by the necessary world building and character introduction, and while there are many things to love about this book, be forewarned, it takes a long time to get to them. I often found myself setting it aside after only reading a chapter or so, moving on to read something else and yet interested enough to keep coming back for more. It was about 25-30% of the way into the story before it really grabbed my attention and by about 40% of the way through I hard time putting it down.

Maybe it’s just my imagination, but there seems to be quite a few books coming out about Fallen Angels, Nephalim, Watchers, Vampires… all in one story. They happen to be my favorite PNR sub-genres, so I get excited when I find them all rolled into one story. In addition to those races listed, A Touch of Crimson also has Lycan, who are indentured - a nice word for well treated slaves - to the Sentinels, those angels who have not fallen - yet. I’m not usually a big shifter fan but the controversial alpha, Elijah, got my attention in a big way and he and his story alone will be enough to keep me reading this series.

The bottom line – this book is a good start to a promising trilogy. It was sexy, exciting, action packed and emotional, and I’ll definitely be reading the next book, A Hunger So Wild, Elijah’s story!


This book was provided to me by in behalf of Penguin Publishing. This had no influence whatsoever on my rating and review