Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Lady Always Wins by Courtney Milan


Nobody has ever come close to taking the place that Virginia Barrett had in Simon Davenant’s heart. As a child, Ginny was his best friend and comrade-in-arms. As a young lady, she became his sweetheart. But when his parents discovered their growing affection, they threatened to cut Simon off without a penny if he married her. And when Simon planned an elopement, Ginny refused: She wasn’t going to marry a poor man. Ever.


In the seven years since they last saw one another, Ginny has been married and then widowed. Simon has built an empire as a railway financier. When they meet again, there’s still that same delicious, playful attraction between them. But only Simon knows how tenuous his second chance really is. Everyone believes that Simon is wealthy. In truth, his company has been taken over by a hostile competitor and he is ruined. He knows from bitter experience that Ginny won’t marry a poor man. And so he has three days until the news becomes public—three days to seduce, woo, and marry the woman he cannot forget, or risk losing her…and this time, for good.


 Courtney Milan is one of those authors who never fails to deliver. Her tales are romantic, witty, sexy, and always have a lesson to be learned with true love as the ultimate reward.
Ginny and Simon are a delightful pair and their teasing banter and efforts at one-upmanship made this a fun, witty story. Then toss in their undeniable passion for one another and a lovely happily ever after, and you have Courtney Milan’s winning recipe for a truly enjoyable read!

My thanks to Ms. Milan for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. As always, it was a pleasure!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Half Moon Hill by Toni Blake

Trying to escape her troubled past, Anna Romo has come home to Destiny determined to carve out a place for herself. When she buys the old Victorian house on the hill with the intent of furnishing it into a Bed and Breakfast, she’s thrilled by the possibilities.

Ex-biker-gang member Duke Dawson is as much a fish out of water in Destiny as Anna, but he’s handling it fine until an accident scars not only his body but his mind. When Anna stumbles across him in an old cabin in the woods near her newly acquired house, at first she’s terrified. But they work out a deal - she’s willing to keep his solitary living arrangement a secret if he’s willing to help her with some of the heavy lifting at the house.

Working together on the rennovations, romance brews between Duke and Anna. That is, until war hero Jeremy Sheridan returns home in a blaze of glory and sets his sights on Anna. Suddenly torn between the outgoing and charming Jeremy and the intriguing Duke, Anna’s heart is torn between two paths and left with only one solution.


This sixth book in Toni Blake’s Destiny series is a sweet, poignant, sexy story. Even though I adore this series, I was a bit apprehensive about this book because, to be honest, I had a bit of a problem with Anna in Willow Springs, and wasn’t sure I’d feel much differently about her now.

Hah! Silly me! I should have known better, because this is Toni Blake, after all.
Anna’s story is sort of a two-parter, told between Willow Springs and Half Moon Hill, and as I said, I really didn’t like her much in the previous book, but upon reevaluation, I guess it’s not so surprising, after all. I mean, there wasn’t a lot to get happy about with her coming between Logan and Amy at every turn, and even though Logan was somewhat clueless, Anna was not. She knew about Amy and still made a move on Logan, and that did nothing to endear her to me, so yeah… wasn’t sure I’d be able to get behind her story, this soon, but what I learned about Anna changed that.

If you’ve followed the series you know that Anna is Mike and Lucky Romo’s little sister, the one who went missing when she was just 5 years old, leaving her family without answers as to what had become of her. Well, she finally came home in Willow Springs and did everything she could to fit in, find acceptance, and come to grips with her past while facing her future. To me she seemed selfish, arrogant, ungrateful… but in truth, she was just lost, and that’s what I learned about her, and why I was able to come to care about her.

Duke Dawson is such a fantastic hero, but everything about him makes you want to run for cover - he’s gruff, crass, scarred inside and out, and looks like he’s devolving into a caveman. His story, which comes out in bits and pieces, is heartbreaking! I’m not sure many women would be able to love a man like Duke, but with Anna’s past, with all she’s been through, she’s able to see the man he truly is. Over time, she finds the chink in his emotional armor and sets him free, and for that reason alone I care about her and respect her.

This is a really nice addition to the series, and I truly enjoyed spending a lot of time with the other couples. In addition to watching Anna and Mike work out their problems and become the family they should have always been, there are a couple of side stories that were tugging at my heartstrings, and I love how they all worked out.

The bottom line: Toni Blake is such an amazing storyteller! The Destiny books are very sexy, some bordering on erotic, but there’s so much story there… so much life and love! Even with all the passion and sex, Ms. Blake's stories never fail to evoke deep, powerful emotions, and I know that once I've turned the final page, I'll be left with a smile on my face and a sigh in my heart.

My thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of Half Moon Hill in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

All Or Nothing by Dixie Lee Brown

All or Nothing is the first book in Dixie Lee Brown’s Trust No One series. It’s got action, adventure, bad guys, good guys, mafia thugs, arms dealers, sassy female characters, sexy male characters, and even an awesome dog. In fact, it’s got all the things I need to enjoy my romantic suspense reads and yet, this time, it wasn’t quite enough.
From the cover:

Someone wants Cara Sinclair dead. One minute she's halfheartedly enjoying an Oregon Coast casino, and the next she's being chased by hit men. Rescued by a total stranger, Cara must decide whether she can trust her safety to this Joe Reynolds and his team of ruthless mercenaries. The more time she spends with Joe, the more her desire for him grows. But can he truly protect her, or is she placing them all in mortal danger?

Joe agreed to protect Cara as a promise to a dying man. He never expected to feel such heat between them, or her total lack of faith in him. Now he must convince her that her only hope lies with him. Because Joe is starting to realize that he won't be satisfied with just saving her life . . . now, he wants it all.
Sounds like a great story, doesn’t it? Well, the potential was definitely there. The writing is good, the premise is compelling, and most of the characters are appealing people whose stories I want more of, especially Joe who I loved!

So what’s the problem, you ask? Well, for many readers there might be no problem at all, but this is my review, my opinion, so I’ll give it to you straight as I can.

Heroines who, because of their stubborn, unthinking, foolish actions, put the heroes in danger, time and time again... well, that’s the nail in the coffin of any story for me. Despite Cara’s knowledge that her step-brother is a cold blooded killer who had even put a hit on her, and despite the fact that her ex-husband is a mafia bad boy who wants her dead – or as his personal punching bag – she continually puts herself and those people trying to protect her in danger. Nothing, and I mean nothing chaps my hide faster than that.

The bottom line: I’m so frustrated because, like I said, the writing is good, the premise is awesome, and most of the characters are intriguing people I want to know better. I kept waiting for Cara to redeem herself, but in my eyes, she never really did. I so, so wanted to love this story, but sadly, I didn’t. Am I willing to toss in the towel? No, but I sure hope the next heroine is worthy of the hero.

All or Nothing was provided by Avon Books in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

With This Kiss: Part Three by Eloisa James


Today's Avon Affair Review: 


Lieutenant Colin Barry returns from the wars injured in body and spirit, knowing that he has no right to steal Grace from the arms of her fiancé. Yet the same warrior's spirit that won so many battles at sea is prompting him to throw propriety to the winds, imitate his pirate father, and simply take what he most desires!


Romantic, poignant, and sexy, this third and final installment of With This Kiss is a delight, start to finish! And not only does Part Three give us Colin and Grace’s happily ever after, which was wonderful to watch as it played out, but the epilogue gives us a fun peek at their children and possible future stories – and reading that was almost as much fun as reading the finale to Colin and Grace’s story.

Ms. James created some lovely greeting cards to go along with each installment of the series. Here they are:

 My thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of With This Kiss: Part One, Two, and Three, in return for an honest review.

Be sure to check in with these sites as some of my fellow
Avon Addicts are also participating in The Avon Affair:


Monday, March 25, 2013

All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

Mel Bartholomew is famous for his Square Foot Gardens, and in All New Square Foot Gardening, he gives us the tools we need to have the garden of our dreams. Pictures, easy to follow illustrated instructions, tips and tricks... regardless of the level of your gardening expertise, this is a must have book!

We live in the High Desert of Southern California where the soil is either sandy or like clay. We haven't had much success with our gardens in the past, but this year we got serious and decided to go with container gardening, and we are so, so glad we did!

Because of the harsh climate here we decided to use cinder block instead of wood for the containers. Not only will it hold up better, it's cheaper! We also had rich, garden soil brought in to replace what nature gave us.

The openings along the sides of the cinder blocks will hold marigolds, strawberries, chives, and other plants that don't require a lot of room. The marigolds will help deter certain pests, while also attracting bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies which will help pollinate the plants. 

 Our  Grandsons Helping Out!


4x4 Planter Squared Off and Drip Lines Ready to Use

This area will have tomatoes and pepper plants. It's our salsa container! 
Our Square Foot Garden Ready to Plant!

 I'll update with photos throughout the season, so stay tuned!

Tactical Strike (Bagram Special Ops) by Kaylea Cross

 The mission of a Combat Controller is to deploy by the most feasible means available into combat and non-permissive environments. Combat Controllers are Special Tactics Operators who establish assault zones while simultaneously providing air traffic control, fire support and command and control communications in the joint arena. Additionally, Combat Controllers expertly employ all terrain vehicles, amphibious vehicles, weapons and demolitions. First There.
—Combat Controller mission statement
Tactical Strike is, without a doubt, the best military romantic suspense story I’ve ever read, and Bagram Special Ops, the best military romantic suspense series out there. The first book in the series, Deadly Descent, was intense, exciting, emotional, romantic, steamy… I really didn't think anything could top it. Well, I was wrong, because Tactical Strike is all that, on ‘roids!

Straight up? Kaylea Cross is an amazing writer. Somehow she's able to take something I've never experienced and make it real. Make me feel it. Dread it, want it, hate it, love it, crave it... whatever "it" is, I feel it. And this isn't just jogged memories... maybe I can explain it this way...

If you’ve spent any amount of time at the beach, in the water, you know what the push and pull of the tide feels like against your legs. You know exactly what it's like to have the sand washing away beneath your feet, the slight imbalance as the waves roll in and back out… So, if an author describes that in a story, it’s more clear to your imagination because you've lived that. It's a memory that you draw on and it's your experience filling in the gaps in the author's words. Now, stay with me, I'm getting there...

I’ve never known the terror of being chased through the mountains while terrorists are shooting at me. I’ve never had friends die while I watch, helpless to do anything. I’ve never suffered the biting pain of having no shelter in a snow storm, no idea what that level of cold feels like... I've never experienced any of the kinds of things these people have and yet, swear to all that's holy, I felt like I was right there living it. My heart was racing, my hands sweating, my mouth dry... I felt it. And the passion? Burn up the pages and again... heart racing, fanning myself... yep, I felt it. The romance, the uncertainty of it all, I haven’t been as engrossed in a military romance – hell, any romance – in a long time. I started reading and couldn't stop.. just. Couldn't. Stop!

Ryan Wentworth and Candace "Ace" Bradford are incredible together. Ryan's easy going flirtation and subtle seduction, his attempts to get "Ace" to drop her guard a bit - and her resolve to not get involved - to keep her distance... watching Ryan work his magic and make that resolve crumble... so, so good. Their chemistry and their intensity and how it combusted in their first time making love together is one of the most sensual, amazing scenes I've read.

The bottom line: I'm just rambling. Three days I've been writing this review and there's so much to say that I can't find the right words to say it all, so I'll stop. Except to say, read this series. You won't be disappointed.

For anyone wondering; No, you don’t have to read Deadly Descent first to appreciate this story. Now, that doesn’t mean I think you should skip Deadly Descent, quite the opposite. It’s one hell of a story and we meet Ryan and Candace there, getting a small glimpse into their attraction, their dynamic. That carries over to Tactical Strike, and had I not known “Ace “and where she’s coming from going in to this story, I might not have warmed to her as quickly as I did.

My thanks, truly, to Carina Press and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this amazing story in return for an honest review. Start to finish, incredible.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sins of a Ruthless Rogue by Anna Randol


Today I'm reviewing Anna Randol's Sins of a Ruthless Rogue! 


When apprentice Clayton Campbell discovers his employer is embezzling funds from his investors, he prepared to put a halt to it. But his plan is betrayed by his employer’s daughter, and he is framed and sentenced to hang. Fate instead hands him to the British Foreign Service.

Now released from his duty to his country, Clayton is free to seek revenge on the family that destroyed him. Then his enemy’s daughter approaches him for help deciphering a code she claims to have found in a dead man’s gallows confession. The code reveals the plans of a violent Russian spy ring long ago disbanded. His investigation into the cold, troubled palaces of Russia thrusts both of their lives into danger, and sparks fierce passion he’d thought forgotten. But is this tempting woman really the innocent she seems or a cold-hearted vixen pursuing a plan of revenge more intricate than his own?

When Clayton Campbell walks back into Olivia Swift’s life, she is elated—for a moment. But it becomes clear Campbell wants nothing but her ruin. Yet she cannot blame him, after all, it was her betrayal that sent him to the gallows. Time has carved the shy, awkward lad into a cold, ruthless man. A decade of poverty has taught her she’d be a fool to allow him close. But when she discovers a threat to his life, she sees a way to repay her debt. When she brings him the information, he makes it clear all he sees is another betrayal. He gives her an ultimatum—either prove the threat is real or pay her debt with her body and soul.


Sins of a Ruthless Rogue is the second book in Anna Randol’s Sinners Trio. It’s an exciting tale of betrayal and forgiveness, all wrapped up in a story which proves that love really can conquer all – if you'll only give it the chance!

To say this story has everything is to say the least. Rogues and revolutionaries, treason and torture, murder and mayhem, blackmail, scandal, revenge… spies, agents, thugs, assassins, princes, princesses, czars, peasants… seriously… this story has it all, including a believable romance and some steamy lovin’. It’s a uniquely intriguing tale with compelling characters, and I loved every minute I spent reading it!

And speaking of compelling characters! The first glimpse we're given of Clayton and Olivia are as a young, engaged couple. Clayton is a noble, honorable idealist, and Olivia a fairly naive, spoiled young woman. They both think they're doing the right thing, for the right reason, but in the end, both are devastated. When next we see them, it's ten years later, and they are so far removed, so very different from the people they had once been. Both have been betrayed in one sense or another and they've learned that it's safer to trust no one but themselves. And this, believe it or not, in my opinion, is where the beauty of their love is born.

One of my favorite things about this story is the happy ending which, because it wasn't easy to get there, felt so real! So believable! To have any hope of surviving this deadly mission, Clayton and Olivia have to trust one another enough to share their secrets, and to put the past behind them. Trust... no relationship is worth having - or can survive - without it, and that's the lesson they have to learn. And their happily ever after, once they got it, was hard fought and well deserved.

Anna Randol is a unique, fresh voice in historical romance, and I am so looking forward to reading more by this very gifted writer!

My sincerest thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of Sins of a Ruthless Rogue in exchange for an honest review. It's been such pleasure!

And be sure to visit the other blogs participating in the Avon Affair:

A Tasty Read
Rusticating In The Tropics
Toot's Book Reviews
S.O.S. Aloha
The Book Queen's Personal Book Palace
Romancing The Readers
The Book Cellar
The Romance Reviews
Tempting Reads