Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Forever And A Day by Jill Shalvis (Lucky Harbor #6)

Books from Jill Shalvis always make me feel like I'm visiting really good friends. There is true comfort, a sense of camaraderie and just plain silly joy that comes from reading one of her stories. I could add that I'm a big fan, but that's probably glaringly obvious at this point.

That said, Forever And A Day, while it still managed to hook me early and reel me in, did not end up being a favorite, as the other books in this series have.

Grace Brooks found her way to the charming seaside town of Lucky Harbor after the disappointment of what should have been a new job and a new start in Seattle. After four months in Lucky Harbor, her finances were dwindling and she was despairing of ever finding a job in her field. Taking on temporary jobs around town meant she eventually found her way into the life of Dr. Josh Scott, single father, caregiver to a handicapped sister and town heartthrob. What's a girl to do when a temporary job suddenly becomes so much more?

Dr. Josh Scott worked, worked...and then worked some more. In between, what little time he had was devoted to his five year old son and his twenty-one year old sister, who was confined to a wheelchair after a car accident which killed their parents years before. A new puppy for his son, nicknamed the Antichrist, and a slight mix-up with flyers, meant the lives of Dr. Josh Scott and Grace Brooks were about to collide. What's an overworked single dad to do when his dog walker/nanny suddenly becomes so much more?

Forever And A Day was a sweet, snappy, sexy, fast-paced read. Josh and Grace were an engaging couple, one the reader could feel for and cheer on. The story was simple, but lovely and easy to read. I have to add that this was a very good story about family, responsibility and knowing when to say when. We also saw some old friends in this installment, and fell a little more in love with the town of Lucky Harbor

So, then, why only four stars? Why not five? For me, personally, I was not overly fond of reading the rather caustic relationship between Josh and his sister Anna. I could understand it, but it got old after only a short time. Mostly, though, my main disappointment was the lack of the author's special brand of humor. Don't get me wrong. There were some humorous moments in this book. However, when Jill Shalvis is 'on', her sparkle, her whit, can light up a story. It leaps out at you with abandon. For me, this story just didn't leap with that much-loved abandon. The sparkle was somewhat toned down. It may be that I'm in the minority on this, and that's okay. The great thing about reading is that it allows for a whole variety of opinions.

I will say, though, in the end, even when, in my opinion, this author isn't *quite* on, she still manages to give us a book that is so worth reading.

Thankfully, we have at least three more stories to come in this series. And, with Jill Shalvis writing them, I know we're all set to continue this wonderful visit with old and new friends alike!


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Breathe by Kristen Ashley (Review #2)

My goodness, what an emotional book Breathe turned out to be. I haven't read a book by Kristen Ashley that had me in tears as much as this book did. Mostly, that was due to the heartbreaking and deeply moving side story of a young boy named Malachi. The story of Malachi was captivating, intriguing, and heartbreaking while uplifting. I loved the way his story shed additional light on Chace's and Faye's inner characters. The romance that developed between them was beautifully woven to include Malachi's story, making Breathe a very emotional and touching read.

I can't gush enough over Chace and Faye as a couple. I adored them together. Chace proved he was a true hero in every sense of the word, and Faye proved to be a shy but darling Sci-Fi geek with an inner strength that was awe-inspiring. In my opinion, Faye is one of the best heroines Kristen Ashley has written to date. While I loved them individually, together is where this couple truly shines. Their relationships centered on the theme that love, forgiveness, acceptance, and friendship can heal and conquer all. They brought out the best in each other and were a true joy to spend time with.

I can't end this review without sharing my favorite scene of the book, which involves a simple hug between Chace and Faye. It takes place early in the story and is simple in nature but huge in substance. It crystallizes Chace's deep-rooted need for love, acceptance, and loyalty; virtues he's given to others but rarely, if ever, experienced himself. In this simple but poignant hug, and without saying word, Faye gives Chace all that he yearns for–and more.

The epilogue was touching and heartwarming in a way only Kristen Ashley can achieve. Breathe has much to offer its readers. Great humor, a steamy romance, intriguing suspense, fabulous characters, a superb plot, and an amazing epilogue. Kristen Ashley is truly a gifted storyteller. I highly recommend this book to all Kristen Ashley fans.

Song Note: Demons, by Imagine Dragon, reminds me of Chace. In fact, when I listened to the words I got chills. The song seems to sum up his initial feelings about himself, his view of world, and Faye. Not to mention, it's one FRAKING fantastic song (I couldn't resist use the word just once in my review.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lord of Fire and Ice by Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe


Story Rating 4 Stars
Character Rating 4 Stars
Romance Rating 5 Stars
Heat Level 4 Stars
Action Level 3.5 Stars
Overall Rating 4 Stars

Official blurb from Mia Marlowe's website:

His duty is to fulfill her every desire...

Brandr the Far-Traveled has seen the world and a good many of the beautiful women in it. His bed skills are the stuff of steamy legend, his sword sings death, and he can call up fire from thin air. No one ever thought he could be enslaved through trickery and forced to wear the iron collar of a thrall—least of all him.

Until all she desires is him...

Katla the Black isn’t just called so for her dark, silky hair. His new mistress has a temper as fierce as a warrior’s and a heart as icy as the frozen North. But inch by delicious inch, Brandr means to make her melt...

I really liked this story. It was a romantic historical Viking book with just a touch of paranormal to it. The story line was very interesting and kept me turning the pages. The hero Brandr was a fierce Warrior who had the element of making and controlling fire. During this book he said some really romantic things to Katla and I fell in love with him too. Katla the heroine was a motherless widow who was very strong and ran her late husband’s farmstead successfully. Both characters were very nicely done and fit perfectly together. The chemistry between these two sizzled on the pages and the love scenes were VERY sensual.

Of course with any Viking story you always get some villains. The ringleader of the bad guys was extremely evil. The end battle was where we got to really see just what Brandr's fire element could do. I kind of felt this part was rushed and once it was done the book ended too fast. It was a shame because the rest of the book was very good. I would have LOVED to have had an epilogue. Oh, it ended well, but could have been so much more and that could have made this book a 5 Star rating instead of the 4 stars I gave it.

All and all Lord Of Fire And Ice was a very good read, and I really look forward to reading more books from the writing team of Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Breathe by Kristen Ashley

5 Fraking Fantastic Stars

Angels deserve heroes and heroes deserve angels.
So true, so true... Faye and Chase were each other’s destinies and I loved reading their story!

I had big anticipation for Breathe because the Colorado Mountain series is what really started me on my Kristen Ashley crazy reading obsession. I had read Rock Chick years ago when it first came out. I loved it and KA’s style, but she didn’t have any other books published at the time. It seems now I can hardly get through a week without reading or rereading a KA story to get my fix.

Her typical elements were all there. It started with a bang, Chace had his share of A-hole moments to get my juices flowing and it had a hot, stirring romance between a virgin and a broken cop. The courtship was very arousing because of Faye’s inexperience and Chace’s he-man qualities in the bedroom. I still blush occasionally when KA writes her sex descriptions and dialog. Sometimes Chace’s choice of words were shockingly direct and made me flinch…in a good way.

Faye has to be one of my favorite KA heroines. She was innocent, vulnerable and sweet; family oriented, dedicated and such a big, fat LIAR! I loved her backbone! Faye had a brand of quiet that was strong and fierce and boy, could she grandstand when she got pissed. A couple of scenes I was cheering her on, thinking you go girl! She went all Clint Eastwood, I could just hear, “Go ahead, make my day” coming from her sweet, little librarian mouth. All the girls were back from the previous stories helping Faye get her man. Also the best was a lesbian giving man dating advice, how profound. Let me say, Twyla’s advice was right on…”how to unf**k a man, f**k him.” Simple and (un)sweet, gotta love it.

There was a murder mystery to solve which was introduced in Lady Luck. This was my only slight criticism because I didn’t really care about it. There wasn’t a huge plot development or new information to make me overly concerned. I think mainly it lacked my interest because there was another side story that overshadowed it so greatly. Malachi/Miah was a homeless boy that totally stole the show. His story had me holding my breath with anticipation. His life was harsh and brutal and I was so into finding out about this fierce, broken boy that my focus was completely surrounding his circumstances. He brought out my emotions several times. It was heartbreaking, but yet beautiful in how Chace, Faye and her family took care of him.

The story was also about Chace’s evolution. He had a lot to overcome from the ending in Lady Luck, going from bad cop, worse husband to hero. I knew eventually all those wonderful attributes I have to have in my heroes; possessive, confident, protective, as well as, gorgeous, sexy, and all alpha, would reveal themselves in Chace.

So yes, the story structure was familiar, with amazing characters, mystery and violence, and at times the hero’s crude dialog was present, but “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is my motto. You won’t be disappointed if you are a fan of Kristen Ashley, with her alpha heroes and her style of writing.

KA did a great job in tying everything together so perfectly from beginning to end. I don’t want to elaborate too much because I would have to reveal some big spoilers and connections, but let's just say they were big and they made all my insides warm and my smile huge.

The epilogue was so precious and just how I like my endings. It was like the energizer bunny…it kept going and going and giving and giving until my satisfaction was guaranteed. I mean let’s face it, I never want a KA book to end, I am too in love with the characters so it was perfect for me to have a gazillion happy endings.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Devil You Know (DeVere #3) by Victoria Vane

5 Devilishly Delightful Stars!! Victoria Vane does it again; she’s three books strong into this series, and I can’t get enough!

In the first two books in the series Ludovic DeVere had a hand in orchestrating the pairing of the couples that were featured. This time he’s in the spotlight, the story takes us back in time and we learn what lead him to lead to his wicked ways. At this point his best friend Ned, is blissfully married to Annalee and they are expecting their second child. Her cousin Diana Palmerston-Wriothesley accompanies them on a visit to DeVere’s estate. Little does Diana know that her host will light a fire within her that will burn long after she leaves Woodcote Park.

I was surprised by some of the turn of events, particularly those relating to Diana’s husband, Reggie. One would have believed that the circumstances were different, as was implicated in the previous book, but now we know what brought about his untimely demise. It caught me off guard.

DeVere is the “Rico Suave” of his time. He’s charming, shrewd, debauched and quite honorable when need be, although the thought of that makes him cringe! He’s also shamelessly amusing and more than once his thoughts and words had me laughing out loud.

“Should you later grow chilly, dear lady, you need only whisper the word, and I shall command every hearth in this monstrosity be lit. I would rather set my entire house aflame than cover such a magnificent…” His gaze raked over Diana’s bosom with an appreciative gleam. “… gown.”

Always looking out for everyone’s well-being *snicker*! Ludovic is reminiscent of one of my favorite characters, Matthew Wallingford of Sinful, yet he is UNIQUELY DeVere!

Victoria Vane’s writing is like the finest of chocolates. It melts in your mouth, it consumes you as you enjoy its sinful decadence, and long after it’s gone it stays with you. Just delicious!! The Devil You Know is beautifully written and depicts the Georgian time period both in setting and superbly crafted words, which is fast becoming the author’s trademark. The intimacy that ensues between DeVere and Diana left me breathless; it’s naughty, sexy and passionate. The book is also filled with witty dialogue, and although this is a novella, it’s a substantial story. The ending leads us and teases us right into the next book. I can hardly wait!!

**We were given a copy of this book by the author for a fair and honest review**


Monday, July 23, 2012

Down in Flames by Sarah Ballance

Jack Gellar and Molly Coleman have been best friends since they were little but when Jack lost his family, he gravitated towards a different kind of clique and left Molly behind. Jack became famous in his little hometown for being a notorious womanizer and he sets his sights on Molly, his childhood friend. Molly doesn’t want to be another one-night stand for Jack, so she rejects him and he leaves for college. What little there was left of their friendship seems lost forever….until Jack returns.

All this happens before the first page of Down in Flames. We meet Molly and Jack when Jack returns to Jefferson Heights. What Molly doesn’t know is that the incident years ago really had an impact on Jack and he hasn’t forgotten his Molly. He is back for her.

Obviously Molly doesn’t trust Jack at first which is understandable. Unfortunately for Jack, the way to Molly’s heart is rocky. The problem isn’t on the emotional level in this book but more the interference of several people make it hard for Jack to get closer to Molly. An ex-girlfriend wants to dig her claws in Jack and bind him to her for life and she is one crafty woman. Also, Jack’s reputation is still going strong in Jefferson Heights and it’s hard for Molly to believe that he has changed. This sounds more dramatic than it actually is. Molly wants to believe in Jack, so she does make an effort. Down in Flames is not the story of a man trying to convince a reluctant woman. Molly genuinely wants to be with Jack as much as he wants to be with her and her trust issues are quickly resolved. I loved that part about the book. It is what kept me reading until the very end because Jack and Molly belong together. Even I was convinced of that very early on. The characters are endearing and lovable and there is some serious sizzle between Jack and Molly.

I have liked everything I’ve read by Sarah Ballance so far. She writes a great contemporary romance as well as romantic suspense (check out Run To You). Down in Flames is another example of her great writing and even though it is short, the characters make their way into your heart. I’m really looking forward to new releases and hope she considers writing a full-length novel sometime.


The Siren (The Original Sinners #1) by Tiffany Reisz

5 Head Spinning Stars!! Although some of the subject matter in this book was not always comfortable to read about, I was ENTHRALLED and had to keep reading. A book that does that is worth 5 STARS from me and then some!!

si•ren: a seductively beautiful or charming woman, especially one who beguiles men, aka Nora Sutherlin.

I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this book, nor how to write a review that gives The Siren and Tiffany Reisz the proper adulations. There are circumstances in this book that arise that I would normally condone, but the author makes us comprehend and accept that not all situations warrant the same handling. The unconventional, the taboo, is justified in a way that the pain of the characters is your pain and in their shoes you would probably resort to the same extreme measures and means to alleviate and re-gain control over your life. Or, to help someone find their way back…relieve them of their anguish…give them something to live for. I'm making sense and no sense at all and that is exactly how this book made me feel. Turned my thinking topsy-turvy, what was so wrong in my mind became so right. The writing is nothing short of BRILLIANT!!!

It delves into the darkest realm of BDSM, but isn’t overrun with play by play action like most books in this genre. Oh, that’s not to say that the book doesn’t have its erotic scenes in the BDSM setting or otherwise, but it’s not the focus of the story. You get a taste of what these characters are about, yet it's not excessively graphic. It’s the main element in the story; however it takes a back seat. This book deals with inner turmoil, self-discovery, acceptance and sacrifice.

Front and center is one Nora Sutherlin, one of the most compelling characters I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about. An erotic book author, she is charming, thoughtful, caring, determined, inquisitive, funny and hides a secret only known to those who are a part of “her world”. Zachary Easton, much to his dismay, has been assigned to edit Nora’s book. In his eyes Nora’s books have no worth and are a waste of his time. All that changes as he comes to understand Nora and the alternate world that she rules. As the layers of Zach’s snooty façade are peeled back we find a man in pain and in need of what only Nora is capable of giving him. Wesley, oh Wesley… so much more mature than your nineteen years. It’s a fine line that he teeters on with Nora, theirs is a true love, but are they meant to be lovers? Their relationship was compelling to say the least. The one character that I wanted to abhor, hate, despise, ended up being the one that seized my attention and gained my respect…Soren!! How could someone with such authority and position do what he does and come off like a saint?! His initial appearance in the book had me gaping, eyes wide, breathless, I wanted to throw myself at his feet, do as he commanded, and then follow him to hell and back!! Tiffany Reisz what have you done to me???

If you don’t like to think outside the box or have an open mind, then this is not the book for you. BUT if you can be objective, deal with the unexpected, then strap yourself in, throw caution to the wind, throw your arms in the air and The Siren will take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride that is guaranteed to make your head spin and turn your world upside down!!

I’ve posted partial lyrics to the song Pain by Three Days Grace. In my opinion it expresses what some of the characters in The Siren are feeling, it kept playing in my head as I was reading and could be the book's anthem.

You're sick of feeling numb
You're not the only one
I'll take you by the hand
And I'll show you a world that you can understand
This life is filled with hurt
When happiness doesn't work
Trust me and take my hand

Pain, without love
Pain, I can't get enough
Pain, I like it rough
'Cause I'd rather feel pain than nothing at all

Anger and agony
Are better than misery
Trust me I've got a plan
When the lights go off you will understand

I know
That you're wounded
You know
That I'm here to save you
You know
I'm always here for you
I know
That you'll thank me later

Pain, without love
Pain, I can't get enough
Pain, I like it rough
'Cause I'd rather feel pain than nothing at all

Adam Gontier/Three Days Grace

ARC courtesy of Harlequin Publishing via NetGalley


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sea of Dreams by Kathryn Le Veque

This book had such potential and the first 30% was a 5 star read. What could have been a great book, was filled with one too many melodramatic moments. Less would have been better. There was enough to go on just dealing with the love story between Beck and Blakesley, his job as a S.E.A.L commander, and the effect it had on him and his family.

The relationship between Beck and Blakesley heated up at warped speed, yet it felt right! The author wrote a tender, passionate, intimate scene that had me squirming and misting. Then for the rest of the book, when it came to the loving, it just faded to black. Why she gave us that great scene early on and never gave us more is beyond me, she wrote it SO WELL!! There were some unbelievably emotional scenes in this book that drove the story, many times had me in tears. She made Beck and the situations that he faced feel so real. Then, in my opinion, she ruined the book by adding some unbelievably crazy stuff that had me rolling my eyes. Too much time on this nonsense and then the ending felt rushed. Some of the time-lines didn't make sense, a few grammar issues needed to be addressed, but the book was free, so I'm going to look the other way where that is concerned. Had the focus remained on Beck and Blakesley trying to blend a family, their love for each other, and the hardships that military families face...this book would have been a winner.

I would love to see the author re-visit the writing of this book, edit out about 75 pages or so, and release the book again, although I know that won't happen. She has a way with words and knows how to play on the reader's emotions. There was some great dialogue and the military aspect of the book was well-thought out.

In any respect I thank Kathryn Le Veque for the free read and am intrigued enough by her writing that should this be a continuing series, I would consider reading another book.

Free on Amazon 7/20/2012


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Looking Forward To: The Devil You Know by Victoria Vane

So what are we looking forward to?!?!  What book has us salivating, spinning cartwheels, chomping at the bit, doing the yippee skippee…why it’s The Devil You Know, the third book in Victoria Vane’s fun, sexy, witty series, The Devil DeVere!!  Now we find out how and why The Devil got his name!! Coming July 27th!

Check out this awesome video for the first book in the series, A Wild Night’s Bride and see what the buzz is all about!

The Devil You Know is the first part of a two part story about Viscount Ludovic DeVere. We have fallen in love with The Devil in A Wild Night’s Bride and have been anxiously waiting for his story. Finally, the release of The Devil You Know is only six days away! Also, The Devil You Know is supposed to be darkly erotic, a little different in tone from the first two books in the series. We are definitely looking forward to this change. We already loved the funny and witty style of the first two DeVere books but The Devil calls for something dark and mysterious. Very intriguing!
If you want to know more about Victoria Vane, you can go to her website. She also writes great historicals under the name Emery Lee.

Steffi and Karla

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blackfoot Affair by Doreen Owens Malek

I was pleasantly surprised by this freebie! I will admit the cover is what lured me to read it, but once inside the book, the story captivated me. It had an interesting plot, some intriguing characters including one Jackson Bluewolf, a Native American and adviser on a case where the government is trying to stake claim to an Indian burial ground. Hired to represent the opposing side is Marisa Hancock, an attorney from Maine, who is conflicted on her feelings about the case and Jackson. Although they are pitted against one another in the courtroom, the sparks fly when they cannot deny their attraction and pursue a relationship.

Jackson could be a real jerk and his tendency to fly off the handle started to annoy me, but then he would do something sweet and he was back in my good graces. Marisa finally set him straight; although I wish she had been a little more feisty, held her ground and let him suffer, like he did her. However her assistant, Tracy, more than made up for it with her spunk and snark, a very enjoyable character!

The intimate nature of the book is more suggestive than graphic. The writing got somewhat muddled in the middle of the book, veered off course with dialogue that was more filler than anything. I love dialogue, but I found myself willing the book on. Bottom line, not a bad read, enough of an interesting story to hold your attention, and it was free. The author's writing intrigues me enough that I will definitely read another one of her books.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Past Came Hunting by Donnell Ann Bell

When Mel was still really young, she didn’t make the best decisions. One of those was unconsciously being involved in a robbery. Mel was innocent but still involved in the crime, so she was arrested and served her time. Now, she is a widow with a teenage son and she doesn’t want him to know about her past. Unfortunately, the cop that arrested her years ago is her new neighbor. Mel wants to protect her secrets and keep her son from finding out about it but that isn’t easy when her past pretty much lives right next door. Even worse, her son befriend Joe’s son. The teenagers’ friendship forces their parents together, if they want to or not.

The Past Came Hunting is Donnell Ann Bell’s debut and I approached this book without having any kind of expectations. I was pleasantly surprised about the unusual storyline and the twists and turn of the suspense plot kept my interest. I really liked Donnell Ann Bell’s style of writing. Also, the characters and their situations seemed very real and approachable. I felt like Mel and Joe could be my neighbors, even though I wouldn’t want to live close to them seeing as they both attract criminals. Joe and Mel’s relationship starts out quite slow which is to be expected considering their past. Still, they have good chemistry and I enjoyed reading about their romantic journey.

The Past Came Hunting is a really enjoyable romantic suspense read that kept me interested and excited about Donnell Ann Bell’s upcoming releases. I keep checking her author’s page and hope that she comes out with a new book soon. Highly recommended!

Find Donnell Ann Bell here

The Past Came Hunting was provided by the published, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.