Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lingerie Wars by Janet Elizabeth Henderson

A great start to what promises to be an awesome series!

Lingerie Wars is the first book in Janet Elizabeth Henderson’s Invertary series. It’s poignant, sexy, romantic, and at times, laugh out loud funny!

The Story:

Kirsty Campbell is struggling to find her way in life after a car accident brings her career as a lingerie model to an end. She’s returned to her hometown of Invertary, Scotland, and is trying to get her lingerie sales business up and running. It’s a slow go, though, mostly because Kirsty won’t put herself out there. She doesn’t want to talk about the accident, the disfiguring scars, or how her ex-fiancĂ© didn’t even visit her at the hospital – and worse – ran off with all her money! Nope, Kirsty wants to lay low and try to enjoy a quiet, uncomplicated life in this small Highland town.

Englishman Lake Benson isn’t thrilled with having to travel to Invertary to check up on his sister, Rainne, whom he loaned his life savings to so she could buy a “knickers” shop. He’d hoped fronting her the money would help her get out from under their parents’ control, but Rainne is going through the cash fast, and he needs to find out what's happening. Turns out the store his sister bought came with a “clause” he’d known nothing about – a feisty 86 year old woman who insists on having final say in everything, and Betty’s final say is that sexy lingerie isn't going to be sold in her store. To further complicate matters, Lake learns that his store (yes, he's decided that since it was his money that bought it, it’s his ) has some serious competition in the form of a real lingerie shop run by the gorgeous ex-model, Kirsty Campbell. Lake needs his shop to be successful so he can sell it and use the money to go into the Security business with an old Army buddy, and this is just one more complication standing in the way of him getting what he wants. So what’s an ex-Special Forces guy to do? Declare war! A lingerie war!

My Thoughts:

I love this story! The premise, the hero and heroine, the town, the supporting cast, the writing, the … well ... everything! The romance between Lake and Kirsty is slow to grow, but the sexual chemistry is there and that makes for some yummy reading. Even the secondary romance between Rainne and Alistair is fun to read, and I hope they get a happily ever after too. And seriously, Betty is a hoot! The story is humorous enough as it is, but she really kicks the laughs into high gear. I want to be just like Betty when I grow up!

Without a doubt I’ll be reading more by Ms. Henderson, a very talented author!

4.5 Stars

My thanks to the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Anything But Sweet by Candis Terry


If Charlotte Brooks thinks she and her TV makeover show can turn Reno Wilder’s hometown upside down, he’ll be happy to prove her wrong. The x-Marine has seen too much turmoil and he likes Sweet, Texas, just the way it is. Traditional. Familiar. A little dull. Everything Charli isn’t. But instead of backing off from his scowls like everyone else, Charli digs in her skyscraper heels.


Reno Wilder is a one-man unwelcoming committee, but Charli isn’t budging. It’s clear the gorgeous cowboy needs an overhaul just as much as Sweet. Someone needs to break him out of that gruff shell and show him how fun and rewarding a little change can be.



I need to get down to Sweet, Texas, and find me a cowboy to love!

Anything But Sweet has everything I want in a contemporary romance! It's romantic, humorous, passionate, poignant, and oh, so sexy! The characters are awesome and the story is simple but beautiful, and I really can't ask for more than that! Well, except maybe a sequel! There are some other Wilder brothers in need of some serious loving, and I - selfless wench that I am - volunteer to be the woman to give it to them.

I might write more of a review later, but really... I've said all that needs to be said. Just trust me on this and read the book. Every word, every page, every chapter, start to finish... a wonderful story!

4.5 Stars

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

What a SWEET treat!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

They say that big girls don't cry. But when the chips are down and the dip is gone, what can you do? Pull up your BIG GIRL PANTIES and change your life.

Holly Brennan didn't expect to be a widow at thirty-two. She also didn't expect to be so big. Through her husband Bruce's diagnosis and death, food was the one thing she could always count on. Now, those extra pounds make flying coach more than a little mortifying-especially since she's sitting next to Adonis himself, aka Logan Montgomery, a personal trainer to the country's most famous pro athletes.

Though Holly doesn't make the grade on his first-impression meter, Logan finds himself intrigued by her sharp wit and keen insight-a welcome change from the beautiful bubble-headed dolls he usually dates-and impulsively offers to get her back in shape. Ready to make at least one positive change in her life, Holly agrees.

To Logan's (and her own) surprise, Holly turns out to be a natural in the gym. Throwing herself into exercise, the red head with the blazing wit and welcoming smile slims down into a bonafide looker with killer curves-and a new kind of hunger. Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly into the bedroom where they share their most intense and steamy workouts yet.

But can a man whose whole life depends on looks commit himself to a woman who doesn't fit his image? Now that Holly's turning other men's heads, does she even need Logan anymore? Are they a couple built to last . . . or is this sizzling affair going to burn out fast?


I'll be honest here; I'm a bit sensitive when it comes to stories where "weight" is an issue because... frankly, not everyone is unhappy with their numbers, regardless of what society tells them they're supposed to be. I hate the 'preachy' feel of some books, and the 'you can't possibly be happy the way you are' ignorant, judgmental ideas floating around out there. So, for these reasons, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I began reading Big Girl Panties, but what I got was a laugh out loud, poignant, sexy story.

Holly Brennan is a 32 year old widow who’s found comfort and acceptance in food. She’s gained far too much weight since her husband Bruce’s passing, but feeling lost and alone, food has become her constant, dependable, companion.

Oh, how I love it when Fate steps in!!!

On a plane ride home from wrapping up a business deal, Holly finds herself seated next to a blond Adonis. She feels awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassed, and to hide her awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassed state, she starts talking about herself. Making jokes about her weight, putting herself down... but her seat partner wasn't having any of that.

Logan Montgomery isn’t exactly thrilled when he sees the overweight, frumpy woman approaching. The last thing he wants is to sit by her the entire flight home, but the more she talks, the more Logan realizes that Holly Brennan has bigger problems than just food. Feeling guilty for his initial reaction, Logan offers to help Holly get herself, and her eating habits, back on track, and thus begins a beautiful friendship.

As a woman who carries around more than a few extra pounds myself, I was able to relate to Holly in a big way. She, like me, suffers from insecurities, but her insecurities are not based in self-doubt or low self esteem, but more on her awareness of how others perceive her. For me, this made her a compelling character who I wanted to know better, and I enjoyed every minute of her journey to rediscovering her true inner-self and stepping back into the light of the living.

Logan Montgomery is kind of a stereotypical Hollywood… what word can I use? Groupie? Yes, but not really, because he’s got a huge following of his own. A Hollywood star? I suppose that’s true to a degree, though not in acting or music. He’s actually a personal trainer to the rich and famous and, because of this, he’s got some of that “beautiful people” attitude going on. So, like Holly, I had a hard time trusting his true motives towards her.

But start to finish, watching their relationship grow from one of trainer/trainee to friends to lovers was such a fun experience! My heart ached, my heart soared, I laughed and I cried… I truly enjoyed this story!

I hear this is Ms. Evanovich’s debut novel, and if that’s the case, I’m excited to say we have a brilliant new voice in the contemporary romance genre.

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

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rule by Jay Crownover

Opposites in every way . . . except the one that matters

Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight--A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn’t want--and the only person she’s never tried to please. She isn’t afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won’t listen.

To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess-and his dead twin brother’s girl. She lives by other people’s rules; he makes his own. He doesn’t have time for a good girl like Shaw-even if she’s the only one who can see the person he truly is.

But a short skirt, too many birthday cocktails, and spilled secrets lead to a night neither can forget. Now, Shaw and Rule have to figure out how a girl like her and a guy like him are supposed to be together without destroying their love . . . or each other.


My bookish friends know that I’m not a fan of the New Adult stories. In fact, I’ve sworn you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming into this genre… There’s just way too much drama, too many misunderstandings, more angst than my head and heart can stand… The thing is, at 53 years old, I’ve lived through that pain myself, and having a 33 year old daughter, I lived through her living through it, too. Thankfully my 22-year-old girl has managed to avoid it, and my 19-year-old son has managed to steer clear of hormonal, high maintenance girls. Never thought I’d be so thankful for his addiction to Xbox Live and video games! The drama, the angst, the bickering, the unaccepting parents… yep, I lived through that crap and don’t want to read about it in my romance escapism!

But that said, there was something different about Rule. And I don’t just mean Rule, the man; I mean the whole story. There was something about it that drew me in and kept me reading, even though there were times I wanted to throttle both Rule and Shaw. Their immaturity, their lack of communication, the way they reacted to one another... I found it frustrating on a “been there done that” level. But the more I read, the more I invested in them and wanted to see them grow as individuals so that they could make it work as a couple.

And Rule and Shaw aren’t the only people I invested in! As bitchy as Rule’s mother was, my heart broke for this woman who lost her son, Remy, Rule’s twin brother, in a car accident. I can’t even imagine the grief she’s endured. Hell, my son just left for Uganda on a two year mission for our church and I break down sobbing for missing him… how any mother can stand the anguish of losing a child to death… well, I just can’t fathom that kind of pain. Sure, I wanted to slap her upside her head a few times, too, but in the end, she was another character I couldn’t help but care about and wanted nothing more than to see her heal.

What does this mean for me? Well, I’m not sure I’m ready to just dive right in to the genre, but maybe I’ll snorkel in… you know, slow and easy like… I definitely want to read more in this series. I want to see how things work out for Rome, Rule’s older brother, and I’m truly looking forward to revisiting Rule’s mom and dad to see how they’re changing as parents, now that their family is mending.

The bottom line: I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Rule. It’s not without flaws – some minor editing issues and times when the story dragged a bit – but overall, poignant, cute, romantic and sexy… definitely an entertaining story.

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

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan

Miss Jane Fairfield can’t do anything right. When she’s in company, she always says the wrong thing—and rather too much of it. No matter how costly they are, her gowns fall on the unfortunate side of fashion. Even her immense dowry can’t save her from being an object of derision.

And that’s precisely what she wants. She’ll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.

Mr. Oliver Marshall has to do everything right. He’s the bastard son of a duke, raised in humble circumstances—and he intends to give voice and power to the common people. If he makes one false step, he’ll never get the chance to accomplish anything. He doesn’t need to come to the rescue of the wrong woman. He certainly doesn’t need to fall in love with her. But there’s something about the lovely, courageous Jane that he can’t resist…even though it could mean the ruin of them both.


Another Brilliant Brothers Sinister Story!!

Without fail, Courtney Milan writes the most amazing historical romance novels. They’re stories that draw you in with characters who come to life and make you wish to be part of their world. The stories have so much truth to them, such depth, and yet, because of the characters, there’s much humor and passion as well.

The Heiress Effect is the second book in the Brothers Sinister series, and is Oliver Marshall’s story. Oliver, you might recall, is the “bastard” son we first learned of in The Governess Affair, a short, thoroughly delightful introduction to the series. I do recommend reading these in order because though each storyline is different, the relationships, the family dynamics, etc., all build upon one another and play a big part in why these “brothers” do the things they do.

In case I haven’t yet made it clear, I love this story! Oliver is such a great character. He’s honorable, smart, caring, sexy… everything a romance novel hero should be. But he’s also troubled, and that makes him even more appealing. The decisions he faced, the choices he made – he’s definitely an imperfect man, trying to become “someone” in a world that demands perfection, but it’s his imperfections that made him perfect for the outrageously improper Miss Jane Fairfield.

Jane is one of the most awesome heroines I’ve read in a very long time. Her devotion to friends and family, her quirky way of taking on the world and her willingness to be the mockery of “proper society” all made me absolutely adore her!

The Bottom Line: Honestly, Ms. Milan is one of the best storytellers in the genre, and if you haven’t yet read her writing, you’re missing out on some fabulous reading! Fans of amazing historical romance authors such as Pamela Clare, Lisa Kleypas, Eloisa James, and Sarah MacLean, you really must give Courtney Milan a try. You will not be disappointed!

My sincerest thanks to Ms. Milan for offering me a copy of this delightful, poignant, sexy story in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

To Sin with a Viking by Michelle Willingham

I adore Michelle Willingham’s Viking and Irish historical romances! They’re sweet, sexy, intriguing, and I love being swept away to those ancient places in time. Her latest book, To Sin with a Viking gave me more of what I’ve come to love about her stories, but was disappointing in a major way.

In her introduction to the story the author says:
Author Note

Sometimes arranged marriages in historical romance end in happily-ever-after. And sometimes two good people are never meant to be together. I wanted to explore the idea of a marriage between a husband and a wife who want to make it work but are unable to connect. And what will happen to them when they meet their true soul mates?

This duet of books, beginning with To Sin with a Viking, explores that theme without trespassing into the realm of adultery. Both Styr and Elena Hardrata deserve a happy ending…but it will not be with each other...
The thing about this statement is that infidelity is not just a sexual betrayal of vows, infidelity can also be manifested through the heart and mind. Such is definitely the case with this story. While sexual intercourse doesn’t occur until after Styr is divorced, there are other physical, sexual, and emotional infidelities taking place between he and Caragh, and so I was horribly disappointed in them as people.

This is so out of the norm for this author, so by no stretch of the imagination am I thinking of giving up on Ms. Willingham’s stories. I have every intention of reading the next book, but I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed this one. In fact, it broke my heart. As brilliant as the characters are, as poignant as the story is, dishonoring ones vows, however it’s done, is as unacceptable to me in my romance reads as it is in real life.

Had there been zero infidelity, this would have easily been a 4 read, but I cannot, in good conscience, overlook what took place between Styr and Caragh and rate it more than 2 stars. That said, other reviewers have given this story 4 stars and higher, so please, if infidelity isn't an issue for you, read To Sin with a Viking. There's much to love about the story, so you'll probably enjoy it!

My thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.   

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Mad Earl's Bride by Loretta Chase

The Mad Earl’s Bride is such a treat! Funny, heartbreaking, sexy, inspiring… this novella delivers it all, and is an absolute delight to read.

The Story:

Dorian, the Earl of Rawnsley, knows he’s dying, and he also knows he’s going insane. His own mother suffered from the same headaches that have begun plaguing him, and she had to be institutionalized just before dying a tragic, painful death. Dorian hasn’t yet begun experiencing the hallucinations that his mother had, but he knows it’s only a matter of time, and he wants to meet his end peacefully and privately.

Much to his consternation, however, his relatives have other ideas.

Gwendolyn Adams is a nurse, and good one at that. And with her family’s reputation for producing hearty, healthy male children, she’s not surprised when the dying Earl of Rawnsley’s relatives ask her to marry the poor man in order to provide him with an heir. She knows life with a lunatic won’t be easy, but that doesn’t scare her off. Gwen’s a woman with a mission and will let nothing stand in the way of seeing her dream come true.

My Thoughts:

Loretta Chase is such a gifted author! There’s just something in the way she tells a story that draws readers in and keeps us coming back for more. She knows how to get right to the heart and soul of her characters and make them more than just words on the page. They are people we connect with, people we feel for, and people we love.

This story was originally published in the Three Weddings and a Kiss anthology in 1995, and while it might be short on pages, it’s not short on feeling. Do I wish we had been able to spend more time with Dorian and Gwen, and even cousin Bertie? Absolutely! But for me, this story lacked nothing.

The Bottom Line:

What more can I say than The Mad Earl’s Bride is such a beautiful love story. And the icing on this already delectable little cake? Spending a few minutes with Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Dain from Lord of Scoundrels.

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

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Kiss of Blood by Pamela Palmer

A Kiss of Blood is the second book in Pamela Palmer’s Vamp City series, and while this too is dark, provocative, and sexy, as is the first book, we see a more compassionate side to both Arturo and Quinn. I became more invested in the beings who live in Washington, VC, and wanted to see them set free from the nightmare that was becoming their lives. Without a doubt, this world Ms. Palmer has created is unique, the characters complex, and once I started, I couldn’t put it down.
From the cover:

One of the few humans who managed to escape the deadly twilight world of Vamp City, Quinn Lennox vows to never return. But the vampires want her back, for only she has the power to renew the magic of their crumbling world and free the vampires trapped within.

When the dangerous and all-too-seductive Arturo Mazza comes for her, Quinn knows she can never trust him after the betrayal she suffered at his hands. But with her beloved brother's fate hanging in the balance, and her own power beginning to emerge, she chooses to risk all on yet another perilous journey back to Vamp City. And though she tries to deny it, her heart begins to hold hope that even a ruthless vampire can learn the meaning of true love.
The truth is, Quinn Lennox only cares about one thing; her brother, Zack, who’s dying as a result of magic poisoning. Unless Quinn can renew the magic that allows Vamp City to exist, the city will die, along with all who reside in it – including Zack. Quinn doesn’t care about the barbaric and bloodthirsty beings who live there, but to save Zack, she must save them as well. And so it continues…

I truly enjoyed this exciting installment of the Vamp City series! Talk about a riveting story! In my review of book #1, A Blood Seduction, I said that I wasn’t sure if Arturo could be redeemed because he was a selfish, self serving, bastard! A gamma hero, through and through. Willing to send Quinn to her death to get what he wanted… for him, the end always justified the means. But in this book, he really is coming around and that makes me very happy.

Will Quinn save Vamp City? Will she and Arturo ever work out their issues? What the heck is happening to Zack?? I’ll have to wait until the next book to find out. Talk about a cliff hanger!!!

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