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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Review: A Certain Wolfish Charm by Lydia Dare

Note: This is a re-post of a review I wrote on GoodReads.

Format: epub (purchased)
Release Date:
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook 

He gets crankier and crankier as the moon gets full...
The rules of Society can be beastly-especially when you're a werewolf and it's that irritating time of the month. Simon Westfield, the Duke of Blackmoor, is rich, powerful, and sinfully handsome, and has spent his entire life creating scandal and mayhem. It doesn't help his wolfish temper at all that Miss Lily Rutledge seems not the least bit afraid of him, and in fact, may be as untamable as he is...
A woman whose charm is stronger than the moon...
When Lily's beloved nephew's behavior becomes inexplicably wild, she turns to Simon, the boy's cousin and guardian, for help. But Simon's idea of assistance is far different than hers, and Lily finds herself ensconced in his house and engaged to the rogue.
They both may have bitten off more than they can chew when each begins to discover the other's darkest secrets...


I found Lydia Dare by accident, someone had mentioned that the books were a great read while I was skimming Twitter and being a curious sort I had to take a peek. Well I was surprised to find that the books were Regency Paranormals! I was hesitant at first because while I adore Paranormal romance, my favorites are Historical Romance, particularly Regency and I was afraid that the Paranormal aspects would over power the time period itself and it would feel like I was reading a Contemporary Paranormal instead of a Regency.

I was wrong and glad to be so.

From the very first chapter I was intrigued. Lily Rutledge is the type of female character I enjoy reading about. She seems to have the weight of the world on her shoulders, years earlier her sister and brother-in-law died in a carriage accident, leaving Lily the responsibility of raising their young son Oliver, the Early of Maberley on her own with little help from the boy's guardian, Simon Westfield, the Duke of Blackmoor except for the funds he sends her every time she writes him a letter. Lily is frustrated and worried due to the startling changes she is beginning to see in her now 12 year old nephew, increased appetite, alarming growth and the aggressive mood swings that seem to plague him more often.

At her wits end, she gathers Oliver and heads to London to confront the Duke in person for his negligence. Then the adventure begins!

Almost immediately it was clear that this book would be different from what I expected. The fact that the Westfield men were wolves was a strong point in the story but it DIDN'T dominate the whole book. It is clearly a Regency novel, down to the wardrobe and vocabulary which I enjoyed very much.

Simon, The Duke of Blackmoor is a handsome, charming man with a secret, every full moon he turns into a wolf and his attraction to Lily is threatening his family secret, yet the more time he spends around her, the more he wants.

The book is entertaining, and also serves to introduce more characters who will have their own stories told in the other books.

I highly recommend this book and the others in the series to those who love Regency and Paranormal or who are like me and prefer Regency but have a soft spot for wolves and other creatures of the night.

Rating: 

Review: Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Format: Bound copy (purchased)
Release Date: May 1, 2007

He watches her from across the crowded dance club, a sensual black-haired stranger who stirs Gabrielle's deepest fantasies. But nothing about this night--or this man--is what it seems. For when Gabrielle witnesses a murder outside the club, reality shifts into something dark and deadly. In that shattering instant she is thrust into a realm she never knew existed--a realm where vampires stalk the shadows and a blood war is set to ignite.

Lucan Thorne despises the violence carried out by his lawless brethren. A vampire himself, Lucan is a Breed warrior, sworn to protect his kind--and the unwitting humans existing alongside them--from the mounting threat of the Rogues. Lucan cannot risk binding himself to a mortal woman, but when Gabrielle is targeted by his enemies, he has no choice but to bring her into the dark underworld he commands.

Here, in the arms of the Breed's formidable leader, Gabrielle will confront an extraordinary destiny of danger, seduction, and the darkest pleasures of all . . . .


This series is what raised my standards for paranormal romance. I picked up this book after seeing it advertised on one of the weekly magazines. I was insanely curious about it since I've always had a thing for vampires and because of the blurb. It didn't help that the hero is named Lucan, which happens to be one of my favorite names ever.

One of the many things I loved about the characters that Lara Adrian created was that they each have their own special "ability" that can be useful to their ultimate goals: To protect humans and bring down the Rogues. The males of course are vampires with immense strength, speed and healing abilities and the females, that have fallen in love with some of the secondary males in this book are extremely special. They are, along with Gabrielle, a genetic miracle. They each have a small mark, a crescent moon with a tear
drop that identifies them as a Breedmate, a female that can carry a vampire child, and who has her own unique gift such as mind reading, dream walking ect.

I loved all the twists and turns this book had in it. Just when you think you've figured out the secrets of Lucan and Gabrielle, there's a surprise that you just didn't expect.

Lucan is one sexy vampire male, definitely one of my favorites ever. He's a total alpha male in every sense of the word. Gabrielle is more than a match for him, even though she's human she's tenacious and once she decides she wants to help Lucan fight his demons, not even he can stop her.

Kiss of Midnight has it all, vampires, hot sex, love, great characters, and action. Lots of action. The fight scenes between the vampires is intense, bloody and well written. The villains are more than a match for Lucan and his men, and at times it even seems like they are going to lose the fight to save humanity. This book introduces you to a whole world of possibilities and characters who will later have their own books. As soon as I started reading Kiss of Midnight I just couldn't put it down, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in an edgy paranormal romance with a hot hero and a kick ass heroine.


Rating:
Find Lara Adrian:

Purchase Links:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: The Wolf Who Loved Me by Lydia Dare

Note: This is a re-post of a review that I wrote for GoodReads. 
Format: epub (purchased)
Release Date:
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

Regency England Has Gone to the Wolves!
Lady Madeline Hayburn Has Money Problems...

Specifically, she has so much of it that she's dogged by fortune hunters, including her bewilderingly attractive, penniless neighbor, with his wild nature and uncouth manners...

Weston Hadley Has An Identity Crisis...

Specifically, he's just turned into a wolf while Madeline was watching. Now it's up to the regal lady to tame the wild beast...if she can...

This series certainly has come a long way since the first book (A Certain Wolfish Charm) was released. I was very excited to read about the first of Dash's half-brothers who I found delightfully amusing, albeit a bit childish for grown men/lycans but I guess that was part of their appeal.

Weston Hadley is one of three penniless brothers who just so happen to be Lycans, and if that secret isn't bad enough, he's also secretly enamored of Lady Madeline Hayburn who's dowry has drawn almost every titled fortune hunter to her home. Oh and she's the daughter of a duke as well. Weston knows he has no chance in hell of ever having Madeline as a wife so he doesn't even try. Then fate intervenes. On the night of the full moon, Madeline walks in on him changing into his wolfish alter ego and naturally, runs away screaming. Weston manages to stop her from alerting everyone within hearing range but that doesn't erase the fact that Madeline now knows his secret. His only two options are to either marry her, so that his future will be tied to hers, or kill her. Without thought, he kidnaps Madeline and begins a race to Gretna Green in order to secure her silence. Weston knows he only has the duration of the trip to Scotland to convince Madeline to marry him or risk his secret being made public.

Let me start off with the fact that I loved Weston already caring for Madeline, and that it was Madeline that needed to be convinced to step down off of the pedestal that her family had put her on and grasp her chance at happiness and a real life.

Second, Weston maintained his character. I've read books where one or both characters are introduced in a previous book but when it's their turn to be leads, they seem drastically different. Not so here. Weston is still somewhat a reckless, immature and impulsive character in need of guidance. Especially in the presence of his twin Grayson. Weston changed just enough to be the man Madeline needed but not too much where he was a boring character.

Madeline on the other hand changed drastically and for that I was grateful. At first she seemed like a victim of her breeding and social status but then she kind of got on my nerves after being dirtied and having to travel without the luxury of a maid and the best accommodations. I had to remind myself that it wasn't her fault that she had never been without. It was hard, but I managed. Then Madeline began to change, she began to realize she was merely existing in her previous life and that with Weston to stir up trouble, she was living. She was able to let her true personality come out without fear of him scolding her or telling her that ladies didn't curse, or jump out of windows.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book, and can't wait for the next one!


Rating: 

Review: A Week to be Wicked


Format: epub (purchased)
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook
When a devilish lord and a bluestocking set off on the road to ruin . . . time is not on their side. Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove's confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.

Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be . . . anywhere but Spindle Cove.

These unlikely partners have one week:

to fake an elopement
to convince family and friends they're "in love"
to outrun armed robbers
to survive their worst nightmares
to travel four hundred miles without killing each other

All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.

What they don't have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.

Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble. And maybe . . . just maybe . . . everlasting love.


The second book in The Spindle Cove series was definitely my favorite by far. Minerva Highwood is the type of character that you want to pity because of her awkwardness and "unnatural" love of education but you just can't because underneath all that awkwardness and general disinterest with ribbons, dancing and gowns is a brave young woman just waiting to come out. She's heard so often that she's hopeless in the marriage market from her own mother no less, that Minerva believes it and finds solace in her geological pursuits. Until she becomes concerned that her elder sister Diana, who is a generous, kind soul, may end up accepting a proposal from Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne. Minerva is convinced that Colin would make her gentle sister miserable so she comes up with a plan, convince Colin to run away with her to Edinburgh, a false elopement to the residents of Spindle Cove but in reality a trip to the Royal Geological Society of Scotland so that Minerva could present her latest findings to those she considers colleagues.

From the very moment they interacted (A Night to Surrender), I just knew they were going to continue pushing each other's buttons and this book didn't disappoint. Colin cannot seem to remember Minerva's name, calling her every other possible name (Miranda, Mariane, Matilda etc) until later when it becomes obvious he does it just to annoy her.

The two of them spend almost every waking moment together trading sarcastic remarks and insults which makes the book even more entertaining. At times they are like two bickering children who need a time out if only to give the reader a chance to catch up to and understand their quick jabs at one another, particularly Minerva's as some of her jabs contain geological references that aren't immediately clear. In fact, they bickered so much, I was starting to wonder how in the heck they were ever going to fall in love with each other!

One of my favorite moments of the book is when Colin and Minerva are spending the night in a London coaching inn and Minerva discovers that she has brought along the wrong journal. She left her geological journal back in Spindle Cove and instead brought a false journal that was meant to prove to her family that she had secretly been enamored of Colin for quite some time. Of course Colin takes the journal and begins reading it aloud and teasing Minerva mercilessly like a child. The journal is so detailed and so distressing to Minerva that I couldn't help feeling a little embarrassed for her. It was funny though to picture that particular scene and it remained with me throughout the whole book. In fact, that whole night at the coaching in is highly amusing.

The more serious moments of the book are rather endearing as well. For all their bickering and insults, Colin and Minerva are quite similar, they both hide who they really are from the world in order to protect themselves. The actual conversations between the two are quite revealing and being able to take occasional peeks into Colin's mind made me like him more and more. As the story progressed I found myself unwilling to put this book down, not for conversation with my family, food or even errands. Much to my dismay, I finished this book within two days.

A Week to Be Wicked will definitely be going in my "To Be Reread As Often As Possible" pile. I can't wait for the next book in this series but I have a feeling that Colin and Minerva will always maintain a special place in my heart. 


Rating: 
Find Tessa Dare: 
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Tiger by Laurann Dohner


Warning: This review contains words that some may find offensive. It is not my intention to offend but to give you a fair idea of what this book contains so that you may better judge if it is for you.

Format: epub (purchased)
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Purchase Links: Ellora's Cave l Kindle l Nook 

Zandy's had too much to drink and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. She knows she's going to die. When her eyes open again, a beautiful man-creature is holding her in his arms. He is just too tempting to resist-her fallen angel. She wraps herself around his body, determined to have him. Reality crashes in when he turns out to be flesh and blood. She's just molested a New Species.

Tiger's shock quickly turns to intense passion when the small human female kisses him. She's trying to get his clothes off and wants to share sex with him but she's lying across the hood of his Jeep and he's engaged in a task force operation.

Sigh, Tiger, Tiger, Tiger. What can I say? I've been waiting to read about Tiger since I first met him in Fury. He was smart, funny, charming and hell bent on NOT taking a mate. Throughout the New Species series, Tiger became more and more sure that he would never take a mate, especially a human one. So I knew that the woman he fell in love with would have to be unique and a little on the crazy side to take on Tiger.

Enter Zandy Gordon. Goodness even her name is unique. It took some getting used to her name since it's the first time I've ever met a character with that name, but she's definitely one of a kind. When the reader first meets Zandy, she's a little down on her luck, she refuses to sleep with her boss and he's making her life hell, so she decided to drown her sorrows at Mickey's Bar and Grill. Big mistake. A bar fight breaks out and Zandy's caught in the middle! She soon finds herself being crushed under the weight of some of the fighting patrons and believes she's going to die. Until help arrives.

Tiger and his NSO team have been called upon by the local sheriff to help break up the bar fight. Once Tiger realizes that under a bunch of drunken bodies, is a human female his protective instincts kick in. He literally throws the bodies off of the Zandy until he gets to her. Once he frees her however, she isn't breathing. After administering CPR, Tiger carries Zandy outside, where she believes she's died and Tiger has come to escort her to hell. Thinking she has nothing left to lose, she practically molests him in public! The whole scene should be amusing but instead it's hot, really, really hot.

Fast forward a few weeks and Zandy's been fired from her job and is waiting to be interviewed for a new one, with the New Species. She gets the job at the incoming mail department, sorting through fan mail, hate mail and threats. Hoping she doesn't run into Tiger, she heads to lunch and just when she thinks luck is on her side, in walks Tiger and he looks just as good as she remembers.

The two begin what they foolishly think is a sex only relationship and it is rather entertaining to watch these two become more emotionally involved. Especially Tiger. He's in denial throughout most of the book, it's kind of like watching someone with an addiction. He refuses to admit he's got a problem. It's more of a pride thing really, he's been so adamant about not wanting to take a mate, especially a human and has given his mated friends such grief that he knows any interaction/relationship with Zandy is bound to bite him in the ass if it is made public.

At the same time, things heat up in a bad way for the New Species, news of their leader and public figure Justice North's mating and marriage to a human woman (Book 4, Justice) has people in a frenzy, especially the hate groups, who mistake Zandy for Justice's mate, Jessie. After an attack outside of the gates of Reservation, Zandy is forced to stay in the human housing within the gates where she is attacked yet again by a human intruder (This poor woman really can't catch a break). You might be thinking, "She sounds like one of those wimpy female characters that's always in trouble and the male has to always save her to prove how macho he is."

Well you couldn't be more wrong.

Zandy's a strong female character but because she's human and is New Species friendly, that just makes her a really easy target for the Anti-New Species groups in the book. Each attack on Zandy also serves to bring Tiger closer to accepting the fact that he has it bad for her, that he's falling in love with her and that if he keeps fighting it, one day he might just lose her to the hate groups and he will have never told her or shown her how he felt and how good it could be between them. Added to the life threatening attacks is the fact that there's another New Species male interested in Zandy. Tiger doesn't have much time to make up his mind on whether he wants to keep the no-strings attached relationship with Zandy, or take the chance and see if he and Zandy could have something more precious together.

What I love about the New Species males, besides them being really tall, buff and well, talented in the bedroom is their frankness. They don't bullshit you, they tell you how it is and sometimes it comes out wrong, you have to remember that they were locked up and denied basic interaction that didn't pertain to experimentation. They can be funny without trying, because they have animal instincts and behaviors that while natural in the wild, are a bit strange and mortifying coming from a man, as Zandy finds out constantly.

This book contains more sex scenes than the other previous books because, well, it's Tiger and unless you've read the previous books where he appears, you won't get what I mean.

However, don't think that the amount of sex between Tiger and Zandy deludes the storyline, it doesn't. This is and erotic romance but it isn't smut, it isn't porn and it isn't something to be ashamed about reading. Tiger and Zandy are two very interesting characters, who have their reasons for wanting a purely sexual relationship and yes, the sex scenes between them are, wow, really hot. But that's what you get when you read Laurann Dohner's New Species series. Hot, fog-up-your-glasses scenes mixed with a strong storyline, lovable characters and humor. It really can't get any better than this.

I cannot wait for the next book in this series, or for Vengeance's story, if anyone deserves a loving mate, it's that poor man. There is a particularly heart breaking scene between Vengeance and Tiger in this book and you find out just how broken Vengeance is over the loss of his mate, and how he desperately misses her. He is the poster child for what happens when a New Species has a mate and she is murdered. *sniffle* Make sure you have some tissues for that scene.


So what are you waiting for? Go and grab the ENTIRE New Species series by Laurann Dohner, you won't be disappointed.

Note: This book, and the other New Species books (and I'm sure plenty of erotic romance books) use swear words as well as the words "cock," "pussy," and other words in reference to genitalia that some find offensive. I don't. I just wanted to warn you :) Happy reading. 

Rating: 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review: Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

Format: Bound copy (won on GoodReads)
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in mystical, beautiful, Friday Harbor, Washington.  She is stunned and blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal:  her fiancĂ© Kevin has left her.  His new lover is Lucy’s own sister.   Lucy's bitterness over being dumped is multiplied by the fact that she has constantly made the wrong choices in her romantic life.   Facing the severe disapproval of Lucy's parents, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, a local vineyard owner on San Juan Island, to "romance" Lucy and hopefully loosen her up and get her over her anger. Complications ensue when Sam and Lucy begin to fall in love, Kevin has second thoughts, and Lucy discovers that the new relationship in her life began under false pretenses. Questions about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings are explored as Lucy learns that some things in life—even after being broken—can be made into something new and beautiful.

The Friday Harbor series centers on three brothers, Mark, Sam and Alex Nolan who, throughout their childhood had been used as pawns in their parents' tumultuous marriage, and are now content to live their lives separately with no commitments to each other or women. To worsen matters, they have been dealt a devastating blow; their sister Victoria was killed in an accident and has left her young daughter, Holly, in Mark's care (Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor).

Rainshadow Road is the second book of the series and focuses on Vintner Sam Nolan and glass artist Lucy Marinn.

Lucy thought she had it all, a home in Friday Harbor, a job creating beautiful glass works and a boyfriend she believed was her soul mate. Then in one moment, reality comes crashing down. She finds out her boyfriend Kevin has been cheating on her... With her own sister! Feeling betrayed, Lucy begins to question herself and her ability to make romantic decisions, so when Sam Nolan begins "romancing" Lucy at the request of her cheating ex, she doesn't know what to make of it.

Neither Sam nor Lucy want to begin a relationship but they can't help the sparks that fly between them or the circumstances that are forcing them to spend time together.

I really enjoyed this book, Lucy was more realistic to me as a female character, what she was going through and her doubts were legitimate and ones that almost every woman has felt or thought in at least one moment of her life.

The book was well paced, Sam and Lucy were likable characters and I liked seeing Mark Nolan again too. I loved that Sam wasn't always as confident with regards to Lucy as he liked to believe, he had his moments of insecurity and flat out panic which made him more human to me instead of some perfect demi-god who always knows what he wants and pursues Lucy out of selfishness.

As I said in my review of Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, this book is NOT like Lisa Kleypas' historical romances but that doesn't mean Rainshadow Road isn't a good book. It is, just in it's own way. Don't pick up either book expecting it to read like her historical romances because it doesn't. What it does do is engage you with two really likable, hurting characters who find themselves stumbling through life, first apart and then together even when they don't realize it.

My only criticism, and really, it's more of a personal opinion at that, is the way Lucy forgave her childish, whiny and all around annoying sister Alice, for what she did. In all honesty, if that had been my sister that had gone behind my back with my boyfriend, well, she wouldn't have any teeth or hair left. It's a trust thing :)

I recommend this book to those who like emotional angst, likable characters and witty dialogue.

Rating:


Thursday, April 19, 2012

May 2012 Releases!

Since most of you already have a list of this month's releases and the month is almost over, I thought I'd get a jump on next month's releases.

1. The Last Boyfriend (Book 2 of the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy) by Nora Roberts

Release Date: May 1, 2012

Summary:
Owen is the organizer of the Montgomery clan, running the family’s construction business with an iron fist—and an even less flexible spreadsheet. And though his brothers bust on his compulsive list-making, the Inn BoonsBoro is about to open right on schedule. The only thing Owen didn’t plan for was Avery McTavish...
 
Avery’s popular pizza place is right across the street from the inn, giving her a first-hand look at its amazing renovation—and a newfound appreciation for Owen. Since he was her first boyfriend when they were kids, Owen has never been far from Avery’s thoughts. But the attraction she’s feeling for him now is far from innocent.
 
As Avery and Owen cautiously take their relationship to another level, the opening of the inn gives the whole town of Boonsboro a reason to celebrate. But Owen’s hard work has only begun. Getting Avery to let down her guard is going to take longer than he expected—and so will getting her to realize that her first boyfriend is going to be her last…
 
2. Sparks Fly: A Novel of the Light Dragons by Katie MacAlister
 
Release Date: May 1, 2012
 
Summary: Hell hath no fury like a ticked-off dragon…

Ysolde de Bouchier has a lot on her plate, which isn’t unusual considering her Light Dragon mate Baltic is still at odds with just about everyone, starting with his former guard Thala and her outlaw posse, right down to his dragon god father. Ysolde herself fairs no better, since the First Dragon has her in his sights as well, demanding that she right past wrongs…and her time to do that is quickly running out.
With the help of some familiar friends, Ysolde sets into motion an elaborate plan that will have repercussions throughout the mortal and immortal worlds. But when a member of her family is held hostage, no one is safe from the fire of her rage.

3. Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal by Grace Burrowes

Release Date: May 1, 2012

Summary:
Lady Maggie Windham has secrets

And she's been perfectly capable of keeping them...until now. When she's threatened with exposure, she turns to investigator Benjamin Hazlit to keep catastrophe at bay. But Maggie herself intrigues Benjamin more than the riddle she's set him to solve. As he uncovers more and more of her past, Maggie struggles to keep him at a distance, until they both begin to discover the truth in their hearts...

4. An Night Like This by Julia Quinn (Smythe-Smith Quartet)

Release Date: May 29, 2012

Summary:
Anne Wynter might not be who she says she is . . .

But she's managing quite well as a governess to three highborn young ladies. Her job can be a challenge—in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play that might be a tragedy (or might be a comedy—no one is sure), and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he's the first man who has truly tempted her, and it's getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.

Daniel Smythe-Smith Might be in mortal danger . . .

But that's not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family's annual musicale, he vows to pursue her, even if that means spending his days with a ten-year-old who thinks she's a unicorn. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril,he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending . . .

5. Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh

Release Date: May 29, 2012

Summary: 
Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past--one as unpredictable in love as it was in war. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to a desperate woman who belongs to another.

For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.

Their coming together is an inferno...and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realize that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both.

6. The Proposal by Mary Balogh

Release Date: May 1, 2012

Summary: Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has seen her share of tragedy, especially since a freak accident took her husband much too soon. Content in a quiet life with friends and family, the young widow has no desire to marry again. But when Hugo, Lord Trentham, scoops her up in his arms after a fall, she feels a sensation that both shocks and emboldens her.

Hugo never intends to kiss Lady Muir, and frankly, he judges her to be a spoiled, frivolous—if beautiful—aristocrat. He is a gentleman in name only: a soldier whose bravery earned him a title; a merchant’s son who inherited his wealth. He is happiest when working the land, but duty and title now demand that he finds a wife. He doesn’t wish to court Lady Muir, nor have any role in the society games her kind thrives upon. Yet Hugo has never craved a woman more; Gwen’s guileless manner, infectious laugh, and lovely face have ruined him for any other woman. He wants her, but will she have him?

The hard, dour ex-military officer who so gently carried Gwen to safety is a man who needs a lesson in winning a woman’s heart. Despite her cautious nature, Gwen cannot ignore the attraction. As their two vastly different worlds come together, both will be challenged in unforeseen ways. But through courtship and seduction, Gwen soon finds that with each kiss, and with every caress, she cannot resist Hugo’s devotion, his desire, his love, and the promise of forever.

7. Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas

Release Date: May 1, 2012

Summary: When the Duke of Lexington meets the mysterious Baroness von Seidlitz-Hardenberg on a transatlantic liner, he is fascinated. She’s exactly what he’s been searching for—a beautiful woman who interests and entices him. He falls hard and fast—and soon proposes marriage.

And then she disappears without a trace…

For in reality, the “baroness” is Venetia Easterbrook—a proper young widow who had her own vengeful reasons for instigating an affair with the duke. But the plan has backfired. Venetia has fallen in love with the man she despised—and there’s no telling what might happen when she is finally unmasked…

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Erotic Romance: I gave it a second chance



Ask the "Romance Gods" and you shall receive. Sort of.

I love asking for romance recommendations on the various communities I belong to on the internet (I've lost track really) and I've gotten some REALLY great recommendations based on my personal likes and I always check out each and every recommendation that is given to me, whether I think I'll like it or not. Well, last week I almost made the mistake of overlooking a great author and a great series.

Why? Two words. Erotic. Romance.

Now why should those two words make me slam on the Google breaks you ask? Because believe it or not, I was left bug eyed and with a bitter taste in my mouth from an encounter with an erotic romance book years ago. What I THOUGHT was a romance novel recommendation from a "friend" turned out to be an erotic romance, and I use the word "romance" lightly because from what I could remember, this book was pure sex, no real plot or character development and the female character was basically a washed up, dull, witless woman who let the male do whatever he wanted to her, regardless of her feelings. It was, in short, a horrible story and I almost kicked my "friend's" ass for it. I never finished that book and that day I learned the difference between romance and erotic romance. I never wanted to pick up anything labeled "Erotic Romance" ever again. That was 8 years ago.

Fast forward to last week and I asked for more recommendations. Usually I ask for Historical/Regency Romance but I occasionally receive Contemporary or Paranormal suggestions. I was reading all the suggestions, and most of the authors I had heard before, until I reached the last suggestion.

Laurann Dohner, New Species series.

I hadn't heard that name or that series before so I googled them and found out she was an erotic romance writer.

I immediately I wrote back to the person who suggested her that I never read erotic romance for the reasons already mentioned. She quickly pm'd me and said "Please just give her a try, it's not what you think it is. The stories are strong and she has very likeable characters, it meets every one of your criteria except for the Historical aspect. I had read on your profile that you also like Paranormal Romance and I really think you'll like the series."

She went on to plead her case until I finally caved and said "Okay, I'll try it but if it scars me or pisses me off, I'm sending you my shrink bills!"

So I picked up the first book in the series, "Fury" and well, hot damn it WAS different than what I had come to expect! It blew my preconceived notions out of the water and into outer space. I fell in love with Fury and Ellie. My heart ached for Fury and what he and his people endured for years at the hands of cruel people. The release of the New Species into the free world and their struggles to cope with sudden freedom was heart breaking, especially when I read what some, if not most of them had to endure. It was more than just a bunch of hot, erotic sex scenes (which are steamy, but not degrading to the female character), it was a real story, with two characters who have to overcome personal obstacles, earn each others trust and protect each other from others who would see them dead.

After reading "Fury" I went on the second book, "Slade" and was even more impressed. It had humor! I mean, honest to goodness, funny stuff that had me giggling even when the jokes were of a sexual nature. The heroine, Trisha was one tough cookie and didn't take crap from any human or New Species, even the one she was so desperately attracted to.

So here I am, a week after I started reading the New Species series and I am almost caught up. I have two more to read until I have to wait until the next release which makes me one sad Panda.

I was so happy to be wrong about erotic romance and will be looking for more reads just like Laurann Dohner's New Species series. I hope, if you haven't given it a try, you at least give Laurann Dohner a chance, and let me know what you think!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

Format: epub (purchased)
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

The first book in a new contemporary series by Lisa Kleypas, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is the beginning of new lives for 3 brothers who have just lost their only sister in a car accident. In a surprising twist of events, the eldest brother, Mark Nolan, finds himself the guardian of his niece as per his sister's wishes. Realizing that his condo and way of life is unsuitable for six year-old Holly, he quickly packs up and moves in with his protesting brother Sam.

Fast forward about six months later and Holly still hasn't spoken, until a trip to a new toy store and a chance meeting with its owner, Maggie Conroy. With only a few words, Maggie has Holly talking again, much to Mark's surprise and dismay, because he's already in a relationship. Maggie is not only attractive but obviously very good with children. To make matters worse, Christmas is closing in fast and Holly has already written to Santa and what she wants both shocks and saddens Mark, she wants a mom for Christmas.

Mark, trying to give Holly what she wants and needs, begins to contemplate marriage, to the wrong woman. What ensues is a story of 3 broken people who help heal each other in order begin new, happy lives together.

Let's get one thing straight, this is NOT like Lisa Kleypas' historical romances. Where her historicals have plenty of passion and angst in them, 'Christmas Eve' has less passion and more emotional angst. It's more relate-able and realistic. I can honestly say that this is a book that men can read and even relate to because of Mark and his clueless way of trying to raise a little girl after spending his whole life looking out for only himself and never having had the experience of a warm, loving family. Mark's heart is in the right place ALL of the time, it's his execution that needs work desperately. He wants to give Holly a stable family life but instead of looking for the right woman for both of them, he immediately latches onto the woman he's been seeing, never really thinking if she would be good to Holly. That's something that men and women can relate to. The need and desperation to find a parental figure for a child in their care that can sometimes lead to missing the right one all along.

I was surprised that I liked this book as much as I did. I don't read contemporaries all that much and this one is so different than what I'm used to. Although it is classified as a romance novel, I don't particularly think it reads as one. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor reminds me of a Lifetime movie, which isn't always a bad thing. It has the right balance of human emotion, drama and angst, and even if there really isn't passion between Mark and Maggie until nearly the end of the book, it is still a heartwarming story about two lonely, broken adults and the broken child who brings them together to heal.

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