Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kimberly Dean - In Her Wildest Dreams

Reviewed at request of author for

Shea Caldwell is drop dead gorgeous, she is a successful business-woman and a brilliant research scientist. She is very much in control of her life. So far her life was great but now her past has caught up with her. In her childhood she used to walk in her sleep, always waking up in strange places and not knowing what she had done, until that one frightful night when she had done something horrible, something that still weighs heavily on her delicate shoulders. Now strange things are happening again and her biggest fear has come true, for she is sleep-walking again…

Derek Oneiros is a Dream Wreaker, a spirit of the night that bestows dreams on sleeping humans. During the day he runs an intelligence services agency and Shea is one of his clients. He is attracted to her but thinks she is taken, he knows that she does not sleep well and she does not confide in him why. Derek is appalled when he finds out that a malicious and strong Somnambulist is harassing her in her dreams, how could he and his fellow Dream Wreakers have missed this? Determined to help Shea he claims her as his own so he can watch over her at night, but is he in time to save her from the claws of the Somnambulist…

In her Wildest Dreams from Kimberly Dean is the second part in her Dream Wreakers series. It takes off with a fascinating prologue that immediately demands all your attention and it keeps your nose in the book till the very last page. Kimberly Dean’s story is graciously, easy and speedy to read, she attracts your attention with fluent written plotlines, great characters and steamy love scenes.

Derek Oneiros is the prototype of an alpha male, he is successful, always in control and very good looking. He is also called the Machine, for he never fails and he never breaks the rules of the Oneiroi. But Shea has slipped passed his defenses and now he is willing to break every single rule to keep her safe, except that she won’t let him for she likes to be in control herself. He has to find a way to gain her trust and at the same time he needs to keep his night-job a secret.

Shea Caldwell is beautiful, successful and always in control. She carries an awful secret with her and this secret has motivated her to become a research scientist so she can help other people. She also has erotic dreams of Derek at night. Now that her somnambulist has returned she fights hard to stay in control, she is very strong and independent but also very feminine. Her relationship with Derek slowly changes from a work-related association to an amorous adventure.

Kimberly Dean’s band of brothers creates a vivid and lush picture in your mind’s eye. These tall, muscular and sexy alpha males are the Oneiroi, the gods of sleep. They protect the human race in their sleep against all kinds of evil and of course they do this in secret. Their weekly breakfast meetings are something to look out for, the brothers are all well-matched. Their wicked bickering and alpha attitude is comical and will make your knees buckle.

Other characters that play an important part in this story are Shea’s business-partner Phillip and their two secretaries Lynette and Tamika. They are all powerful, unattached characters and they complete the book. The story has two different plotlines but they are connected to one another. They are packed with action and fast-paced to read. The only thing I found a bit annoying was the grand finale, all through the book the suspense is building and building and then it all ends in a rush.

Kimberly Dean has based her series on the old Greek myth of the Oneiroi, the gods of sleep and she easily blends this with an erotic romance, sexy characters and a touch of suspense. Kimberly Dean and her Dream Wreakers series have fully grabbed my attention and I am looking forward to return to her sensual dream world!

Dreaming was never so desirable, Kimberly Dean will get you hooked on her sexy dream wreakers really fast!

3,5 stars

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kathryn Smith - A Seductive Offer

A proposal of marriage she could not refuse...
Lord Braven has saved Rachel Ashton’s life twice, it seems – when he snatched her from the icy Yorkshire river… and when he offered to marry her. Now the desperate miss will be rid forever of the repulsive husband-to-be horrid stepfather has “ sold” her to. But though both agree their marriage is in name only, Rachel finds she cannot dismiss her burning need to taste the sweet kiss of her dashing benefactor.

A passion they could not resist...
Having a real wife is unthinkable, since Braven must never love again. And as long as this sham marriage is not consummated, his heart will remain safe – and his secret can go untold. But the exquisite beauty tempts the haunted lord unmercifully with her deep lavender eyes and sensuous full lips. How can he resist this most perilous desire, when his heart swears it would be more dangerous still to deny himself the ecstasy true love?

A Seductive Offer is the first part in the Friends trilogy, it takes place in Yorkshire in the Regency period, but that is the only thing about this story that is really Regency, the time period. Kathryn Smith, as always, writes fluent plotlines and her writing is easy to read but I have to be honest, as much as I love her Ryland Brothers series and her paranormal series Brotherhood of Blood, this story could not hold my attention and it was quite a struggle to finish the book.

The main plotline is about domestic violence, Rachel’s stepfather is the violent type and her mother often has to suffer for it. Rachel is desperate to find a way out for her mother and herself, her mother claims she married again for Rachel’s sake so they could have a good life. But they would have been better off if her mother had taken a job as a seamstress then living with a wife beating bastard. Though I know that women in that time period had not much influence, the mother is so passive and resigned to her faith, it made me want to scream. Somehow Rachel irritated the hell out of me, yes she is courageous and bold and she tries to fix things, but she could have done something to help herself and her mother so much more previously.

The other plotline is Braven’s guilt. The death of his best friend’s sister haunts him, he feels guilty, feels that he could have prevented it. So he drinks himself thoroughly plastered day in, day out so he won’t feel anything. He does this throughout the story and I kept waiting for him to man up, yes he does take charge of things again and he stands up to the evil and wicked stepfather but for the story it is too little and too late. He marries Rachel so he can help her and her mother and because it is time for him to get married. But with Rachel’s mother always in the picture there is hardly any romance going on, the old saying two is a party but three is a crowd certainly applies here.

Julian and Gabriel are Braven’s best friends and they both have their own story in part two and three of this trilogy. They have come to visit Braven and soon I caught myself that I was much more interested in reading their stories than in finishing this one. Although Rachel tries in her own way to make something of her life, Braven‘s character is just to washed out to enjoy. Perhaps it is just me but I did not like the whole domestic violence plotline, it wasn’t fleshed out well enough for my taste and the end of the story was almost an anticlimax.

So does that mean this is a bad story? No. It just did not charm me, it just went on and on without grabbing me. I like my heroes to be strong or that they undergo a certain change that makes them grow strong, I missed that in this story. But I am certainly not discouraged to read the other two stories in this trilogy for I know Kathryn Smith writes great stories, only A Seductive Offer could not enchant me.

2,5 stars

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bella Andre - Red Hot Reunion

Ten years ago Emma Holden was an upper class, proper and good girl. In college, she and Jason Roberts were complete opposites but also very much in love. But her parents never liked Jason, for he did not belong to the upper class and therefore was not fit to date their daughter. Dutiful Emma, who always wanted to please her parents, was swayed to dump Jason for a respectable but tedious jock from their own social class, leaving Jason behind with a broken heart.

Now ten years later Jason is a famous celebrity, he has his own cooking TV show and has been voted sexiest bachelor of the year twice, so he can get any woman he wants. He is living a fast and grand life but it is still Emma who occupies his heart. He wants revenge for what she did to him, he is determined to go to the college reunion Emma has organized, meet her and make her fall in love with him all over again, make her crave him and then leave her heartbroken the same way he was all those years ago.

But Emma is not a good girl anymore, ten years and a divorce later she realizes she has not lived at all. Now she ready to participate in every erotic adventure that Jason throws at her, stirring up their passion to unknown and unexplored heights. Now who is making who fall in love all over again…?

The characters of Bella Andre’s story Red Hot Reunion demanded my full attention in an one-sitting read. Just like in Take Me, Bella Andre writes about daily life and creates situations that are very obvious. It is always fun to read something that isn’t far-fetched and that could actually happen to you, it makes you feel connected to the story right away. She keeps her characters “normal” and her stories are always fast-paced, effortless to read and real page turners.

Emma Holden has lived her whole life the way her parents have dictated. She has been on a diet like forever just because her mother likes thin people. Now she is divorced and for the first time in her life she realizes that she has become a replica of her mother. Even her house is decorated the same as her mother’s house. All the important decisions in her life have been made for her. But no more, for the first time in her life she stands up against her parents and do things she wants to do. And she wants Jason, letting him go was the biggest mistake of her life for he makes her feel alive and she hasn’t felt alive since the day she left him.

Jason Roberts is a self-made man, from scratch he has build an entire cooking empire. He is rich, good-looking and nice, women adore him, in short he is on top of the world. But the wound Emma inflicted all those years ago is still there, the fact that he wasn’t good enough for her or her parents. He has tried to ignore his feelings for her for ten long years, burying himself in his work. He realizes he needs closure, but when he sees Emma again all his old feelings come rushing back. Their encounters are hot and sizzling but while Emma tries to clean the slate and wants to start over again in more ways than one, Jason can’t get passed his hurt and still wants to lash out.

As secondary characters you will meet Emma’s parents. It is clear that Emma’s mother wears the breeches at the parental home, her father has nothing to say. Emma’s parents, especially her mother, are cold and only care about keeping up appearances. Emma’s parents and her ex-husband Steven give a good insight on why Emma has become the person she now hates. Kate is Emma’s best friend and also the complete opposite of Emma, she is in total control of her life. Rocco works for Jason but is also a close friend and he acts as Jason’s conscience. The plot is simple and fluent, it is all about love, betrayal, forgiveness and getting back in control of one’s life.

Jason to Emma and vice versa:

“Who are you?” “The same girl you knew back in college.” “No way. The girl I knew never would have fallen to her knees to throat me.” “Funny, seemed like you liked it to me,” she found herself able to tease. “Hell yes I liked it, he replied.

With lovely characters and heart pounding sex scenes Bella Andre has written yet another sizzling, hot winner. Red Hot Reunion makes you crave for your own college reunion! Bella Andre’s books are as addictive as chocolate, it takes just one bite to make you crave for more. She has become one of my favorite erotica authors and I can’t wait to read her Bad Boys of Football series.

4 stars

Saturday, October 18, 2008

J.R. Ward - The BDB - An Insider's Guide - BDB Series

Novella Father Mine

Zsadist (Z) has a hard time getting used to being a father. He actually ignores his daughter and he is not doing well in the mental department, his past is haunting him again and he has nightmares. Bella has tried over and over again to reach out to Z but she just can’t reach him and wonders if their love is strong enough to survive. She has her own after-pregnancy-insecurities to deal with but knows that Nalla’s well-being has to come first, so she gives Z an ultimatum, either he cleans up his act or she and Nalla will be leaving…

This 81 pages long novella takes place approximately two months after Nalla’s birth and Phury’s story Lover Enshrined. It basically covers the problems Bella and Z have as a couple getting used to family life. Of course with Z’s past and his shame for it, this is not so easy. The interactions between Bella and Z are intense and full of emotion. The romance radiates from the pages and all the brothers show their faces in this story.

The plotline is simple, the brothers, the lessers and the relationship of Bella and Z. Once again I was completely wrapped up in that special vibe I remembered from the first three books, that same vibe that made me fall in love with the BDB series in the first place. It is brilliantly written and it is a remarkable example of Ward’s romantic writing skills, because we already know that she outshines in writing unique plotlines. This short novella left me completely satisfied and not once did I have the feeling it was too short, but yes it did leave me hungry for more.

An Insider's Guide

In the Brotherhood Dossiers Ward explains from her point of view how each of the six books were realized and why and how she wrote the things she did, it is really very interesting to read. The personal questions and the interviews with the brothers are funny and gave me many light bulb moments. For example did you know that Wrath is into fly-fishing, Rhage practices yoga, Butch builds rocket models and Phury paints them?

The deleted scenes are truly an addition to this Insider’s Guide, it is regretful that some of the scenes did not make the final cut but Ward explains clearly why they did not end up in the book. Although there is one romantic scene between Cormia and Phury that would have made up for a lot of the romance that I did miss in Lover Enshrined. But like Ward explained, it did not really fit in the timeline of the book, but all these scenes are great to read.

This guide also contains the Slices of Life and the brothers on the board interactions, now some will say that this is old stuff that they already read on Ward’s forum. True, but… Ward’s forum is huge and then the interactions are interrupted with all those enthusiastic posts from the cellies. I like it that I don’t have to search for them on the board and that they are now on paper and not interrupted. Besides you never know if they stay on Ward’s board forever… I enjoyed reading them and yes the BDB-vibe was overwhelming!

The interview with Ward is hilarious, she did not have to say anything because Rhage and Butch completely took over and then, of course, the other brothers had to step in as well, yeah the interview is full of sexy bickering alpha males. There is also a heartbreaking interview with Tohr and Wellsie, the signs of the Old Language, Ward’s favorite quotes from the books and some other fun stuff.

So if you don’t mind reading some stuff that was already posted on Ward’s forum, An Insider’s Guide is a great read. Father Mine is a great short story and the deleted scenes are a great addition. It is great to read how Ward’s point of view is on certain scenes and to have all those little facts neatly organized on paper. Very important to point out is that this guide is very readable and hilarious, it belongs in your Black Dagger Brotherhood selection of books. The bonding scent of the BDB is all over this book, creating that special, addictive vibe that wraps around you like a warm blanket, it will entertain you for many hours, just read it!

4 stars

Friday, October 17, 2008

Alexandra Benedict - Too Scandalous to Wed - Too Trilogy 2

Unwilling to taint any woman with the terrible secret hidden in his heart, Sebastian, Viscount Ravenswood, has sworn never to marry. Luckily, whimsical Henrietta Ashby was never much of a temptation for the devilishly handsome rogue – until now. Suddenly, Henrietta has learned to seduce him with a bewitching charm… and clandestine midnight kisses.

Henrietta would go to any lengths to catch the eye of the man she’s long loved from afar – even seeking the help of the most notorious courtesan in England! But as Sebastian’s secret follows them from the ballroom to the boudoir, and his diabolical enemy plots revenge, will Henrietta risk her life to offer him a passionate redemption… or will he prove to be too scandalous to wed?

This is part two in Alexandra Benedict’s Too trilogy, the heroine of this story, Henry, we already met briefly in part one of this trilogy. Alexandra Benedict has written another classic, historical romance full of passion, danger and entanglements. What hallmarks her writing is that it is very laid-back to read, her storyline is always fluent and her characters are appealing and very well fleshed out.

Henrietta (Henry) Ashby has had an unusual childhood, her father raised her as a boy and calls her Henry, since he only has daughters and no sons. Therefore he has allowed her many more liberties than his other daughters and that is also the reason that she is still not married. Well, that and the fact that she has been in love with the Viscount of Ravenswood for as long as she can remember, but he only sees her as his sister-in-law. She is headstrong, opinionated, loyal to her friends and family, she knows what she wants and she is very smart. Now the Viscount has returned from his journey abroad she is determined to lure the hero of her dreams in her passionate embrace. She is fierce but also innocent and she soon discovers that the real world is not as romantic as she thought.

Sebastian, Viscount of Ravenswood, has always been fond of the Ashby family, he is also very much aware of the fact that Henry is smitten by him. So he went abroad for a couple of months hoping that on his return she would be married and settled, but he has no such luck and now she somehow looks different but he seems to be the only one who has noticed, all of the sudden little, innocent Henry turns out to be quite a temptation. Sebastian’s heart is black and he is a real rogue at least that is what he believes. He does not believe in a blissful marriage for his parents did not give a good example. He knows that his brother will produce an heir so he shakes off his responsibilities as a Viscount and he indulges in all the vices he can think of, he drinks excessively, has many amorous adventures at the Hellfire Club and completely ignores the rules of society. But losing Henry’s admiration hurts more than he thought and now he wants it back.

Sebastian’s brother Peter and the whole Ashby family make a great addition to the story, they all love Henry and Sebastian very much and you can feel their solidarity. Of course there is always a villain in a story and this one is quite deranged. But most of the space on the pages is filled with Henry and Sebastian’s relationship. You will see their characters grow, Henry’s change from an innocent girl into young woman and Sebastian’s belief that he truly can be a gentleman and not just a rogue and that he is worthy of true love. Henry gives Sebastian a run for his money in the seduction department and she drives him crazy with her stubbornness, so much that he, the rogue, seeks advice from a courtesan to win her back.

Henry to Sebastian:

“I am afraid we’re in a terrible fix.” Sebastian followed her gaze- and his heart shuddered at the sight of the mistletoe. “My lord, I do believe I owe you a kiss.”

“But you and I are friends”, she said next, eyes slanted in demure innocence. “And it wouldn’t do a’ tall if I kissed you on the lips… instead I will kiss you where you’ve never been kissed before.”

Alexandra Benedicts knows how to throw you into ecstasies with her stories and she provides you with a warm, classic but refreshing love story that will steal your heart. Curl up at the couch with Too Scandalous to Wed and you will disappear into the regency realm and enjoy many hours of first-class reading!

4 stars

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sophia Nash - A Dangerous Beauty

Rosamunde Baird has lost everything and has no choice but to accept an invitation to spend a season with a dowager duchess and her clandestine Ladies Club. Determined to stay in the shadows and live quietly, she has sworn never again to come face to face with adventure and temptation, two things that brought her ruin years ago. But then the Duke of Helston dangles before her the very things she craves most…

Mysterious Luc St. Aubyn has a much-deserved reputation for exuding blistering passion at night and frost in the morning after. What demons drive this audacious war hero to hide secrets about the dowager’s club and his devilish dictionary? When he’s blindsided by his reactions to a virtuous siren, he has no choice but to reveal all during a scandal that will doom them… or save them, if only they dare to believe in love.

Sometimes while reading a story, you just instantly know that you have a new favorite among the many books you have read. Well, here I thought I was just going to read another nice regency story, I was wrong, this story blew me away. Yes, it is very much regency, all the principle ingredients are present, a roguish duke, a lady in distress, lots of gossip and of course as always the upper level of London’s society, the ton. But it is the unique combination of characters, plotlines and the brilliant and fluent writing of Sophia Nash that gives this story an unique and refreshing vibe that exceeded my expectations.

Rosamunde Baird is not the typical virginal, innocent regency heroine we all have grown accustomed to. As a young girl of 17 she was seen kissing Henry St. Aubyn, her father who had placed her on a pedestal did not want to listen to her explanation. To avoid scandal they were forced to marry, but Rosamunde knew that Henry did not love her so she escaped with another man and married him. After her father disowned her, her darling husband turned into a dictator who controlled her every move, when he perished he left her penniless. The only one who supported her, was her sister Sylvia.

Rosamunde who used to be a passionate, vibrant young lady full of life changed into a submissive, obeying person. She withdrew herself from society who already shunned her and vowed to live a quiet life together with her sister Sylvia who stood by her. But underneath this quiet façade she is still that passionate, vibrant and strong young lady who needs her father’s love and acceptance of society. Now she is about to be kicked out of her home and she has no choice then to keep her head high, face the rejection of the ton and accept the invitation from the same family that caused her downfall so many years ago…

Luc St. Aubyn is the kind of man you drool over, he bears the emotional scars of his upbringing. The dukes in his family were all first-class dictators and his father was no exception. He loves books and likes to write, but his passion for books was quelled by his father. He joined the navy just to provoke his father, never thought he would end up being the Duke of Helston, for both his father and his older brother Henry passed away. His greatest fear is to become like his father, therefore he has vowed to never marry or get involved with a woman other then on an one-night-stand-basis. Except he forgets all his intentions when it comes to Rosamunde.

He dotes on his grandmother Ata, the duchess dowager. Ata is a very strong character in this story, she is cunning, social and a real matchmaker, this old lady will steal your heart and she is as important as Luc and Rosamunde for this story. She has found happiness late in life after the dictatorship of her husband and son ended. She has made it her mission to help other widows find happiness again or peace of mind. Luc fulfills all her wishes but she doesn’t know that they are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Luc to Ata and vice versa:

“Give me that. You ‘ve never limped a day in your life.” “I carry it to keep gentlemen away from the ladies in my club. Do I need to remind you that Mrs. Baird is recently bereaved?’ “Bereaved? Don’t you mean relieved?”

The love between Ata and Luc manifest itself in the sarcastic and cynical bickering, it is hilarious. They both use humor and sarcasm to deal with everyday life and they value people for their character not their title. It is them against-the-rest-of-the-ton and they bend the rules of society and get away with it. The interactions between Rosamunde and Luc mirror their personalities, they simmer and grow more intense with every page you turn but always have this mocking undertone.

The cast of secondary characters is fantastic, the ladies of the widow club are charming and I am sure we will meet them again in their own story. Sophia Nash is also great in outlining the ton and all their gossiping and prejudices. There are many characters in this story, for example Rosamunde’s family, and they all enrich it, they give you a good insight how society worked in the regency period and how fragile a woman’s reputation was, once it was lost it could not be retrieved.

I love the way Sophia Nash writes. It is fluent, easy to read and utterly compelling. The plot is uncomplicated but still surprising. Rosamunde, Luc and Ata have to face the prejudices of society, the persistent gossips, rejection and a mysterious disease. On top of this all Luc and Rosamunde have to deal with their impossible attraction to one another and they are trying against all odds to restore Rosamunde’s rightful place in society. But the one thing that makes this story special is the sarcastic humor that you can find on almost every page, it keeps the story playful to read and makes you laugh out loud.

A Dangerous Beauty is one of those stories that you will cherish forever and will read over and over again. Sophia Nash’s unique writing combined with fantastic and well fleshed out characters, a compelling plot and hilarious humor will keep you spellbound to the very end. I loved and devoured every page! I am eager to find what the future holds for the other members of the widow club.

5 stars

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lisa Marie Rice - Dangerous Lover

Caroline Lake has been down on her luck for the last couple of years. After her parents died in a car accident she found out that there was no money left due to bad investments of her father. Now she only has her bookstore and her parental home, the last is in desperate need of renovation. To boost her income she takes in boarders but even that is not working. Until on Christmas Eve a tall, dark and dangerous man enters her bookstore and wants to rent a room. Against her better judgment she agrees and he turns out to be the perfect boarder and … lover. For the first time in years she feels happy and carefree. But Jack is too good to be true for he is not who he claims to be and danger follows him wherever he goes…

Jack has spent years in the army and the security business to serve his surrogate father. Now that his father has departed this life and he has taken care of some business that went terribly wrong Jack is free to pursue his own dreams. He has sold his father’s company and is therefore a rich man, he heads to a little town called Summerville to find the one woman he has dreamt of for the last twelve years. The one woman who was nice to him when they were teens and who doesn’t even remember him. He finds Caroline easily and they have this immediate connection with one another. But the enemy is closing in and Jack is about to lose Caroline forever for she is his weak point…

Dangerous Lover is the first book that I have read from Lisa Marie Rice and all I can say is WOW! From page one this book held me captive right to the very end. Lisa Marie Rice’s writing is easy, accessible and it reads like clockwork.

The main storyline tells you the romantic part, the relationship between Caroline and Jack. Caroline could use a break from her money problems, once she was an upper class girl now she struggles to make her monthly payments to the bank but she is always willing to help other people. Jack wants nothing more than to take away Caroline’s problems and love her, to make her his as he has dreamt of for so long. But he is not completely honest with her about his past and it does not take long before Caroline starts to doubt him.

The second storyline provides you with the suspense part of the book. Jack’s former colleague Vince Deaver is coming to town and it is not a social call. He is malicious and a real soldier, he will stop at nothing to get want he wants and he wants Jack’s head on a platter. Your imagination will run riot for Miss Rice is capable to vividly describe every little detail, the love scenes are heated and moreover she knows how to outline her characters to perfection. Caroline’s character is sympathetic, Vince will send shivers down your spine but it is the way she has described Jack. This tall, muscular soldier will make your head spin!

There are not many supporting characters in this story, the most important one is Sanders. He is Caroline’s ex-boyfriend. He is the typical rich guy who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he is used to getting his way and doesn’t know the meaning of the word “no”.

Miss Rice does a great job in building up the suspense, you know Vince is coming, you know Jack should watch his back, you just keep flipping the pages waiting for disaster to happen. The only thing that annoyed me and almost literally gave me a cold shower was the end, it is very abrupt and left me unsatisfied. For me, the story is not finished for I am dying to know if Caroline and Jack fare well, therefore an epilogue would have been most welcome.

All I can say is that I enjoyed this story very much, except for the end. Miss Rice knows how to portray her men and Jack has become one of my favorite heroes. Now that Lisa Marie Rice lured me into her world full of suspense, romance and irresistible men, I am eager to read Dangerous Secrets and once again get swept of my feet.

4 stars

Friday, September 19, 2008

Michelle Styles - An Impulsive Debutante

Lottie Charlton is eager to have her first season; her family expects her to marry well, preferably someone with a title. Social appearances mean everything to Lottie and her mother. Then at an assembly she meets the fascinating Tristan again and out on the terrace he kisses her passionately. They get caught in the act and to avoid a scandal she must marry him, unfortunately he is just a mere Mr., cousin to Lord Thorngrafton. She is determined to use his connection to Lord Thorngrafton to improve their social status, but he is not interested in improving his social status and he gives her an iron band as a wedding ring! On their homeward journey she learns that social status is really not so important and that her husband means a lot to her. Only then she discovers that Tristan is not who he claims to be…

After the death of his uncle and a long stay abroad, Tristan Dyvelston is back on English soil. He is now Lord Thorngrafton and has an one-track mind, to rebuild the family estate and make it prosper again. It turns out quite differently than he had planned and thanks to his own actions he is now married to Lottie, who covets a title and her social status. Due to a misunderstanding she doesn’t know that he has a title and he does not undeceive her. He wants to find out if she can truly love him and not just for his title, so he pretends to be without a lot of means. But his deceit weighs heavily upon him for Lottie turns out to be everything he ever looked for in a wife…

The first chapter of this book kicks off with a pleasant, sometimes brusque conversation between Tristan and Lottie at a graveyard. It immediately grabs your attention and it sets the tone for the rest of the story. Michelle Styles writing is easy and compelling to read, her characters are fleshed out well and as always she has an eye for accurate, historical details. She does not overwhelm you with lots of supporting characters and difficult storylines. She keeps it straight and light to read and makes sure that at all times the romance takes precedence.

That does not mean that her stories are shallow or common, Michelle Styles gives her stories depth by making her characters undergo changes and grow stronger throughout the story. The hero of this story, Tristan, has his past to deal with. He does not want to end up as his uncle and is determined to restore the family estate and name. But he tips the scales with his scheming and deceit when trying to find out if Lottie truly loves him and not his title, and so almost end up as his uncle. Still, it is simple to see where he is coming from and therefore it is easy to connect with him. He is a very likable guy.

Lottie Charlton is the typical result of her mother’s upbringing. She is always busy with improving her social status and appears to be shallow. It takes a rude wake-up call from Tristan for her to grasp that there are more important things in life than her social status. For the first time she sees beyond her nose and realizes that she is not a better person just because she is wealthy. She also possesses a great inner-strength for she easy accepts all the drastic changes in her life, tries to make the most of things and she is always attentive.

The character development of the main characters is the pivot on which this book hinges, therefore the interactions between Lottie and Tristan are crucial for the story. Their interactions are energetic, passionate and powerful. The secondary characters really stand back, you will meet Lottie’s family at the beginning and at the end of the story, the same goes for her friends. This story is really all about Lottie’s and Tristan’s relationship.

Once again, Michelle Styles has written a solid, uplifting romance. This story is so easy and light to read, once you start you can’t stop. It is an emotional laden romance with captivating characters, witty and brisk dialogues and a fluently written plot. It is a great read for everyone out there who enjoys a good historical!

4 stars

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bella Andre - Take Me - Carson Brothers 1

Secretly, Lily Ellis has always been in love with Travis Carson. But the twin-brother of her best friend Luke has always ignored and rejected her for she does not have the perfect size. Now her beautiful sister and fashion designer has persuaded her to model a plus-size dress, the dress is gorgeous and makes her feel beautiful as she walks confidently down the catwalk. Searching in the crowd for Luke to support her, she finds Travis instead. During a hot and steamy night all her dreams and fantasies come true, but she realizes that if she truly wants to win his heart she has to beat him at his own game by protecting her feelings. The perfect opportunity comes along when a business deal takes them to romantic Italy and the passionate cat-and-mouse game begins…

Doing his brother a favor and taking his place to watch and support Lily when she walks down the runway is in his opinion a waste of his time, but when Travis sees this stunning beauty walking down the catwalk he immediately knows he has to have her. After a wild and amazing night he wakes up alone, he can’t believe Lily just left after what they shared. She wasn’t supposed to leave first, he is supposed to be the one to leave first! He wants to see her again, he can’t stop thinking about her, but he is not in the habit of chasing women. So he comes up with a proposal she cannot refuse. What better way than to spend a few days alone with Lily in Italy under the cloak of doing business to satisfy his lust and get her out of his system..

This is the first book I have read from the hand of Bella Andre and it was quite an addictive read, I could not put the book down until I knew if this story would have a happily ever after. Bella Andre writes a fluent storyline filled with every-day situations and female insecurities. Her characters are so real that they could actually live next door to you and that is exactly why this book keeps you hypnotized and glued to your chair.

Lilly Ellis is a big girl, her weight makes her insecure and she lacks of self-confidence. Without even knowing it, her weight influences many of the important decisions she has made in her life. She dreams of having her own business as an interior designer but clings to her crappy job at a furniture shop. Why? Because it is safe and familiar. She prefers to be the grey mouse in the crowd, unnoticed, so she doesn’t get hurt by biting words and gets rejected.

Travis Carson is everything a woman wants in a man. Handsome, successful, a little arrogant and very muscular and sexy. Everything he wants he gets, it all comes natural to him. But there isn’t one woman that has actually touched his heart, he hides his feelings behind this thick wall of arrogance. Travis and Lily make a charming couple, they are intense, sometimes a little naughty and they create a sensual fire-works right from page one.

As important supporting characters you will meet Janica and Luke. Janica is the “petite” younger sister of Lilly, she is a fashion designer and Lilly’s most fierce protector. She will do anything to see Lily happy and more self-assured. Luke is a doctor and Lily’s best friend, he is the spitting image of Travis, only nicer. He loves his brother but he really does not understand his brother’s “attitude” problem. All of Bella Andre’s characters are compelling and entrancing, it is so easy to connect with them. They make this book such a great read.

Lilly to herself during a dinner:

“Why can men eat as much as they want? Why do I always worry about eating in public? Who am I trying to impress? Travis? He’ll never be impressed by me, so why am I depriving myself of the best food I’ve ever seen?”

The plot is easy and fluent, it speaks of love, trust and confidence. It is about two people who need to come to grips with certain aspects of their lives. They need to overcome several obstacles and as it turns out it is not Travis but Lily who needs to learn and deal with the fact that the biggest obstacle in her life is herself.

Take Me from Bella Andre is a great read! The characters are delicious and yes, Lily and Travis have stolen my heart. The plot is very recognizable and it is so easy to connect to this story that it is guaranteed an one-sitting read. Bella Andre has left me craving for more, so needless to say that from now on Bella Andre is a regular dish on my reading menu!

4,5 stars

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Jean Johnson - The Storm - Sons of Destiny Series 6

The Sixth Son shall draw the line:
Shun the day and rule the night
Your reign’s end shall come at light
When Dawn steals into your hall
Bride of Storm shall be your fall

Eight brothers, born in four sets of twins, two years apart to the day – they fulfill the Curse of the Eight Prophecies. Though no longer trapped in exile, their growing family faces new problems. Now the sixthborn son must find a way to trust his Destined Bride…

Out of the eight brothers, Rydan is the only one who does not embrace his destiny. He is determined to fight his prophecy with might and main. So when he is asleep in his most shielded haven of refuge and awakes with a start, he is shocked to find himself on top of a real woman, Rora. He kicks her out of his refuge and brings her to his twin, convinced that she is his destined woman. Only then he discovers that not one but two women have arrived at Nightfall and that Rora is his bride to be. Bent on not fulfilling his prophecy he retreats to his refuge but she keeps seeking him out and so much the worse, he can’t get her out of his head. But fulfillment of his prophecy means he loses everything he worked so hard for and he can’t let that happen…

Together with her sister, Rora has fled her homeland to protect her secret. She has unusual strong powers and other mages will do anything to control them. Her powers have guided her and her sister Mara to Nightfall. When she meets Rydan under very passionate circumstances, their attraction is immediate. Her powers show her what the others cannot see, namely Rydan’s secret. She sees what torments the handsome mage and why he lives as a recluse, away from his family. If only she can persuade him to trust her and let her help him before his secret destroys him. Ironically it turns out that he is also the only one who can help her with her secret…

Right from the start of this series the two brothers who caught my eye immediately were Rydan and Morganen. Rydan’s story is part 6 in the series and it was a long wait before I could read his story and ease my curiosity. So the second the book fell on my doormat I plunged into the story, eager to discover if Jean Johnson could come up to my high expectations. The answer? Yes she did and in my opinion she has surpassed herself with The Storm!

With this story all the pieces of the puzzle regarding Rydan fall into place. Rydan is the most complicated and tormented brother of the eight, he cannot be in the company of his family for long for his inner beast will not tolerate it, causing him unbearable pain. Therefore he lives like a recluse, shuns the daylight and is very lonely. He does not give his trust easily for he has learnt the hard way that most people cannot be trusted. But underneath all this pain there is a real, honorable and gentle man who needs someone to love him and help him domesticate his beast.

Rora carries a Font of her own inside her, this is very rare and it gives her immense powers. Therefore she can See aura’s and Feel emotions. She is tired of getting away from mages who covet her powers, she wants to start over and live a normal life and unlike her sister she does not want to hide behind the walls of her homeland’s customs. She is kind and gentle and she takes things as they are, she does not dwell on the past.

Romance reigns supreme, for the greater part of this story takes place in Rydan’s haven of refuge, the romance between Rydan and Rora is touching, innocent, sensual and well-developed. I adored them as a couple, their love scenes were spine tingling. Rora is just perfect for Rydan. I like the way the plot always takes unexpected turns, this time the emphasis is on the magical fountains. As always Jean Johnson’s world building is detailed, Rydan’s underground refuge is sketched to perfection and the magic fountains come to life thanks to a very vivid description.

But most of all I love the interactions between all the brothers and their wives, the bickering between the brothers, always trying to outdo one another, the collision of characters and the matchmaking schemes of Morganen.

Rora to Rydan and vice versa:

“Now, what is your favorite color? Black?” “Green, actually.” “I wear black to annoy Dominor. It is a very difficult color to clean without having it fade, or stain anything else that may be washed at the same time with it…and I look intimidating in it.”

“I like it when you laugh. You Look like a flower in a bloom, with all those happy colors streaming out of you. And your voice… I like how deep it is.” “Very few men like being compared to a flower, woman,” he groused.

The Storm is absolutely my favorite part in this series so far. It is the perfect mix of a touching romance, a mysterious hero, plenty of banter and a magical and dazzling world. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I am counting the days till Koranen’s story hit the shelves so I can get my regular fix of delicious twins!

4,5 stars

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Julia London - The Book of Scandal - Scandalous 1

The Earl of Lindsey, Nathan Grey, is also called Libertine Lindsey for he lives a flippant live in the country. When he hears rumors, involving his estranged wife Evelyn, that could destroy the good name of the Lindsey’s, he immediately takes action. He travels to London to remove his wife far away from all the gossip. When he finally lays his eyes on her after three years of separation he is in shock. The young and meek girl he once knew as his wife is now a bold and breathtaking woman. Against her will Nathan takes her home and there the painful past rushes back into their memories to haunt them both. Still, his stunning wife also invokes a passion inside him that he had long forgotten. He is determined to win her back and to protect her against the gossip, but he has no clue how vicious and fatally those rumors really are…

Lady Evelyn Lindsey has not a word to say for herself when out of the blue her estranged husband shows up and forces her to leave London on account of some gossip. She swears to him that the rumors are not true, nevertheless he won’t listen to her. He wants to save their marriage, well, if he thinks she is going to make this easy for him after all the rumors she has heard about him, he is seriously mistaken. She is going to fight him with might and main for their marriage is over. But Evelyn had forgotten how attractive Nathan is and how charming he can be. As danger stalks them she can do nothing else but to rely on Nathan and he turns out to be simply irresistible…

Sometimes all you need in a superb, fast-paced story is a little danger and a strong hero and heroine. The Book of Scandal by Julia London is such a book. From the moment you start to read this story it haunts you and will not let go until you finished it. This story will take you on a long, emotional rollercoaster ride from the first to the very last page!

The stunning plot of this story is based on true historical facts, namely the marital woes of the Prince and Princess of Wales back in 1795 and the threat of the Princess of Wales to publish royal secrets. Julia London interlaces these facts with a powerful romance, an emotional loss and a stunning conspiracy. Her skillful writing will make sure that you are lost in the pages and keeps the story flowing and pleasant to read.

The main couple who will take you on this gripping journey are Evelyn and Nathan. Nathan is definitely not who he appears to be at the surface, he is not the rogue everyone seems to think he is. That is just a façade, he really is a honorable and kind man. He is very much in love with his wife, he just does not realize it. Evelyn lived a sheltered life and used to be meek and naïf, she has learned by bitter experience that life is not always fair and has grown into a beautiful, self-confident lady. Their interactions are steamy and shimmering and the pages are filled with wit, bickering and humor.

This story also shows you how shaky the foundation of a basically good relationship can be without communication. After the death of their son Evelyn had shut herself off from everyone, she is not able to reach out to Nathan. Nathan deals with his grief in his own specific way. After they have been separated and both grown stronger you see the change in them, because now they are able to communicate and be completely honest with one another.

The secondary cast of characters is very colorful and well-developed. They give this story more depth. These characters give us an insight how society worked back then and how most of them only looked out for themselves. How they are most willing to believe vicious rumors without giving them a second thought. As it should be, the main focus of this story is on Evelyn, Nathan and the skilful written plot. The only thing that was a bit vexing was the end. I would have preferred a short epilogue at the end to round things off better.

Julia London provides you with an emotionally charged tale that is peppered with spine-tingling passion, well-defined and charming characters and a masterfully written plot. Curl up with The Book of Scandal for it will touch your heart and fire your emotions.

4 stars

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sherry Thomas - Private Arrangements

The richest heiress of England, Gigi Rowland, wants to snatch herself a husband, a duke no less, and she will stop at nothing to achieve it. All her plans fall through when her duke dies before the wedding. Then she meets Camden Saybrook and their attraction is immediate, however, Camden has promised to marry another lady. Gigi is not the person to let things drift so she schemes to make sure the other woman is out of the picture. Camden and Gigi marry and Gigi has their whole life meticulously planned. But the morning after the wedding all her plans crumble to dust when Camden confronts her with her scheming and abandons her…

Camden Saybrook has never been in love before until he meets Gigi Rowland. He has never been happier in his life then during their courtship. Then one day before the wedding he finds out that Gigi has taken matters in her own hands and that their future is based on manipulation, he feels hurt and betrayed by the one woman who means everything to him. The thought of being around her sickens him and he seeks vengeance. He leaves her right after the wedding night, determined to never lay his eyes on her again..

Ten years later… Gigi has built a life for herself and she is very happy with another man, she wants to be free to marry him, so she asked Camden for a divorce. When Camden receives her letter he is in shock, he finds out that he really does not want to divorce Gigi so he returns to London with his own demand. He wants an heir and only if she conceives and gives birth to his son will he release her…

Private Arrangements is first novel by Sherry Thomas and it is an astounding read. I was expecting yet another typical historical story and therefore I was completely knocked of my feet by it. Sherry Thomas’ writing is like a breath of fresh air, there are no sugar-coated interactions whatsoever, it is raw and intense and that makes you cherish and devour every single page of this book.

Her family is rich and lacks nothing but there is one thing they don’t have, a title. Gigi is ruthless to achieve this, she does not think of the consequences for others and thinks that everything can be bought as long as she gets what she wants. Camden has taught her a valuable lesson, now ten years later Gigi has matured into this beautiful, gentle woman and has left all her scheming behind her. But she also is strong and determined to find happiness again, she will not be intimidated by her husband just because she made a mistake in the past.

Although he is a gentleman, his family is poor. Camden is a handsome, honorable and likeable man who stands by his word once he has given it. He takes care of his family and friends, he values honesty and trust. So when he finds out that Gigi has manipulated him to get married he can no longer be with her. Their interactions are heated, blunt, cynical and sometimes rude. They almost scream from the pages and still you want to read more.

Gigi to Camden and vice versa:

“You want an heir from me? Now?” “I couldn’t stand the thought of bedding you before now.” “Really?” She laughed, though she’d have preferred to smash an inkwell against his temple. “You liked it well enough last time.” “The performance of a lifetime,” he said easily. “And I was a good thespian to begin with.”

As side-characters we get to meet the charming but dominant mother of Gigi, Victoria. She is already scheming to find her daughter another duke just in case that Camden and Gigi cannot work out their problems. We also meet the Duke of Perrin, who is more interested in Victoria than in Gigi, he sees right through her schemes. So maybe Victoria’s dream may come true after all, their interactions are hilarious. And then there is Freddie, the man Gigi wants to marry. He is a nice, shy guy who likes to paint, but everyone except for Gigi can see that in the end he cannot make her happy. The characters all have their own flaws, but they are all charming and their flaws make them come alive and therefore become very real.

The settings are beautifully described, basically this story has a main plotline, Camden and Gigi who are of course in the spotlight and then you have a subplot, namely Victoria and the Duke of Perrin. The only thing that some readers may find a bit annoying is the constant to and fro between the past and the present, that makes it a bit difficult to keep up with the main plotline.

There is a new writer on the block and her name is Sherry Thomas! Her writing is one of a kind, she gives new meaning to the traditional historical novel by displaying an unusual, heated romance, raw emotions and blunt interactions. Her plotlines are original and her characters are to die for, Private Arrangements is a compulsory read for romance lovers!

4,5 stars

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sandy Lynn - Kiss and Tell

Boxers or briefs?

Willow is having a bad day. To get her sister to stop harassing her, she agrees to play a silly game – but only once. When a muscular hunk walks past her, Willow’s mouth waters and she knows she’s found the perfect man to ask her embarrassing question.

Seth is shocked when a beautiful woman sits on his lap. He’s amused when she begins asking him questions. But he’s aroused when she kisses him. Taking her back to his home, he sinks his teeth into her – and is addicted. Imagine his surprise when he finds out she holds his life in the palm of her hand.

What’s a vampire to do when the woman he needs for his survival runs screaming from him!

Kiss and Tell is the first part in the Bloodmates series by Sandy Lynn and it is an accelerated read. It is pleasantly fresh and different, because for a change we meet a vampire who is not tormented by his past or any other thing. Seth is a handsome looking man with a good head for business, he loves women and he simply enjoys life.

Willow is a beautiful woman who is having a lousy week, she lost her job. She has a bad track record when it comes to men. She is honest, independent and bold. She is just another young woman who enjoys a night out on the town while trying to forget her problems for a while. When she approaches Seth to play her sister’s silly game she has no idea how life-changing her actions are, especially for Seth. Life will never be the same again.

The instant attraction between Seth and Willow vibrates from almost the very first page in this story. Their interactions are sometimes hilarious and sometimes heated, they entice you to read on. Sandy Lynn’s writing is easy, vivid and smooth. Her characters are rounded and charming.

Seth to Willow and vice versa:

“Why do you bite your lip?” She was embarrassed by his question, the answer an awkward one. “It’s just something I started doing.” “Tell me?” he asked gently. With a sigh she relented. “One of my exes complained that I was too...vocal. It was...embarrassing. So, I’ve just bitten my lip to keep my moans inside ever since.”

Once Seth has sampled Willow’s blood, no other woman’s blood can satisfy his thirst. They are bloodmated, only Seth doesn’t know that such a thing is possible and now he needs Willow for his survival. As for Willow, she is flabbergasted to discover that vampires really do exist. They have quite a few obstacles to overcome. I would have preferred it if the second half of the book was explored in depth a little more, but the storyline is refreshing, original and straightforward. No bad guys, no evil to fight, just a nice guy who happens to be a vampire and meets a lovely girl, who turns out to be his bloodmate.

As supporting characters you will meet Jason, he takes care of Seth’s businesses. He is a down-to-earth guy and knows that Seth is a vampire. He is intriguing and only wants what is best for Seth. Then there is Willow’s sister, she is very high-spirited and protective of her sister. They round off the story nicely.

Kiss and Tell is a delightful read. It is hilarious and it made me laugh, at the same time it kept me enthralled. It is a nice combination of a heated romance, the-sexy-vampire-next-door-kind-of-guy and a touch of chicklit. I can’t wait to find out what Sandy Lynn has in reserve for us with the next part in this series, for Kiss and Tell is a funny and hot read!

3 stars

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jean Johnson - The Cat - Sons of Destiny 5

The fifth Son shall seek the sign:
Prowl the woods and through the trees
Before you in the woods she flees
Catch her quick and hold her fast
The Cat will find his home at last

Eight brothers, born in four sets of twins, two years apart to the day – they fulfill the Curse of the Eight Prophecies. Though no longer trapped in exile, their growing family faces new problems. For the fifthborn son, it is getting his Destined Bride to trust him…

Watching his older brothers fall in love one by one, Trevan realizes that he cannot avoid his destiny nor does he want to. Unlike his eccentric twin Rydan, Trevan is more than ready to meet and court his destined bride. He misses the company of a lovely lady, after all he was the womanizer in the family before they got exiled. So when Amara finally arrives at Nightfall he can’t wait to start his courtship, except there is one problem, she does not trust mages. Courting a woman who is arrogant, haughty, bad-tempered and a natural shapeshifter is not easy, especially when she constantly changes her shape and flees. However, Trevan is determined to unravel all her secrets for she is his destined bride. He is not called the Cat for nothing and the Cat likes a good challenge…

Amara of the Shifterai is tired of being on the run for mages who are after her sister’s powers. To protect her sister they have left their homeland and their lives behind them. Her sister has led them to Nightfall, claiming they will be save there but Amara is not so sure for the isle is heaped with mages. The people of Nightfall seem nice but Amara has been protecting her sister for so long that she is on her guard. Trevan catches her eye but their cultural differences confuse her, still she feels drawn to him. Can she truly trust him with her most shielded secret?

Yes! Once more we travel back to the Isle of Nightfall to meet those sexy warriors again and to witness how Trevan fares with catching his bride. Jean Johnson knows how to grab your attention, the moment you open the book you return to the same sentiment of the former parts that is so characteristic for the Sons of Destiny series. This special vibe alone compels you to read on and on.

Only this time not one but two women, Amara and Arora, arrive on the isle. Matchmaker of the family, Morganen, cleverly intervenes to make sure that Rydan, who is determined to fight his destiny all the way, does not meet his destined bride before Trevan does. Rydan's story will be told next in The Storm, it takes place at the same time as this one.

Trevan’s intended bride Amara is not a very likeable person at the beginning. She has been on the run for so long that she does not trust anyone but herself and her sister. Back home she was a princess and she has a hard time accepting that she can never return to her homeland and claim her rightful place. She lashes out at everyone, even her sister, for she feels she had to sacrifice a lot to keep her sister safe.

Trevan is not always rated at his true value by his family. He is good with wood and his brothers turn to him for advice when it concerns women, but he is also good in creating new artifacts and that is often overlooked. He and his younger brother Koranen are rather frustrated over the lack of female companionship and he feels that his happily-married-brothers could be a little more understanding towards him and his brother about this.

Like in the previous parts of the series the world-building is extensive. For example, we get a lengthy description of the Shifterai, Amara’s world and its culture. This makes it easier to understand the cultural clash between Amara and Trevan, it supplies the reader with several, hilarious incidents. As for the storylines of The Cat, you could say the main focus is on Trevan and Amara, then we have the progress on Nightfall as an incipient kingdom and of course the mysterious actions of Rydan and Morganen. The plot thickens more and more with each part.

But what does it for me every time in this series are the highly amusing interactions between all the characters and the curt bickering between the brothers. These interactions counter-balance the extensive (but not tedious) world-building, they are easy and fast-paced to read and they are a key-element in your craving for wanting to flip the pages swift as an arrow.

Koranen and Morganen:

“Gods in Hell! Does anyone mind if I just drown myself, right here, right now? Because I would be a lot less frustrated if I were dead!” Morganen slapped the back of his twin’s head. “Knock it off, Brother! And watch your language. Your woman is coming, I promise you that.”

With The Cat Jean Johnson has delivered once more an original, magical and scintillatingly tale full of delicious twins! She left me yearning for more, fortunately we have three more stories to look forward to. The Sons of Destiny series gets better and better with each part!

3,5 stars

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jasmine Haynes - The Fortune Hunter - Fortune Hunter Series 1

How to refuse a daring and tempting proposition that offers the one thing she cannot resist…

Faith Castle is a kindergarten teacher and the heiress of Castle Heavy Mining, it is her heart’s desire to have children of her own, but with children usually comes a husband, Faith has yet to find one. However, she is just average looking, wears a size 8, on a bad day a size 10 and lives in a town full of blond Barbies with the perfect dress size, so finding an eligible man is not so easy. Then she meets Connor Kingston, he is tall, dark, and handsome and he sure knows how to kiss, he offers to marry her and all he wants in return is to be CEO at her father’s company. She makes her own demands, she wants a baby and his fidelity – in return he wants a no-holds-barred sex life. This indecent proposal could work for both of them as long as she does not fall in love with him, but can she shield her heart from him?

Connor Kingston has not had an easy childhood, he is determined to climb the corporate ladder and reach the top fast before he is old and grey, to do so he needs to marry an heiress. But he cannot picture himself married to a senseless, skinny Barbie doll, when he meets Faith he knows she is the one. He also notices that she is very insecure of herself while she has no reason to be; to him she is absolutely gorgeous. He wants to free her from her insecurities and raise her sexual self-esteem to the highest level possible. He believes in lust but not in love, nevertheless Faith gets under his skin and soon he wonders if lust is all he wants from Faith, maybe being a CEO is not the jackpot after all…

From the first page this story takes off at full speed, it urges you to keep on reading and you almost wish that it is never-ending. One of the reasons The Fortune Hunter reads like clockwork is the cast of characters. They are intriguing, scheming, bitchy and versatile. The main characters, Connor and Faith, will steal your heart in a split second.

Connor is handsome, tall and virile. He had a difficult youth and wants a better life. He doesn’t believe in love and thinks that lust is much better. He does not like the emotional stuff getting in his way. He is looking for the right woman for his proposal, he is an honest and hard worker, the what-you-see-is-what-you-get type.

Faith is an average looking woman with all the usual female insecurities, all she really needs is a nudge in the right direction to blossom. Most of Faith’s insecurities are very obvious and most women will recognize themselves in her, therefore it is very easy to connect with her. That doesn’t mean that Faith is a pushover or jaded, she is actually one of the few heiresses in town who has a reason to get up every morning, she works as a teacher. She is just insecure when it comes to men.

Of course Faith’s family and friends are against their marriage and soon it is them-against-the-world. But both are committed to their marriage and Connor does his best to free Faith of her sexual barriers. Little by little she changes and let go of her insecurities, the chapter where Connor orders Faith to buy a vibrator is hilarious, she comes up with all these excuses not to buy it, but Connor insist on her buying it anyway. Every time he pushes her a bit further, he is persistent in showing her how beautiful she is. Their interactions are building up from hot, to hotter, to extreme steamy and hot but without getting crude. They shimmer throughout the book making you flip the pages faster and faster.

The colorful cast of secondary characters spices the story even more. The true friendship between Faith and her best friend Trinity, who looks like a model, is heart-warming. At the surface Trinity looks like a futile and shallow woman, but she isn’t. Jarvis, Faith’s father, also plays an important part. He is all about business and protecting his daughter, no matter what it takes, but in doing so he forgets to see Faith as a real and adult person who makes her own decisions. We also get to see how cruel society is and how gossip can destroy relationships.

The plot is fast-paced and full of little twists and obstacles that Faith and Connor need to overcome. Connor has to deal with scheming and backstabbing people and has to learn that true love and trust might not be such a bad thing. Faith needs to learn to stand on her own two feet and to defy her bossy farther and friends. She grows more comfortable in her own skin with every page!

If you are looking for a story that raises your blood-pressure pronto, this is the one to read! Jasmine Haynes writing is easy and compelling to read, her storylines are flowing and her characters are well-developed and charming. This is one story that is almost too hot to handle, make sure to have plenty of cold water at hand to cool down!

I am looking forward to read Show & Tell, Trinity's story.

4,5 stars

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Alexandra Benedict - Too Dangerous to Desire - Too Trilogy 3

After the death of his wife, Adam Westmore has withdrawn himself from society and lives a solitary-minded life near the beach, alone with his memories and guilt. Then one day when he walks down the beach he sees this woman throw herself of the cliffs into the icy sea. Without hesitation he dives in the sea to save her and takes her home. Evelyn is running from her depraved fiancé who is forcing her to marry him, so Adam offers to protect her. This stunning beauty with exquisite eyes is stirring up all these feelings inside him, making him feel alive again. But he cannot act upon these feelings, for he will always be faithful to the vows he made on his wedding and isn’t it much too dangerous to desire the bride to be of a powerful and indignant man…

Convinced that the only way to escape her malicious fiancé is to perish, Evelyn Waye jumps of the cliffs into the water. When she wakes up she finds herself in a cottage with a strange, handsome man. He offers her his protection and she accepts for there is something about him that makes her want to stay. Due to her cursed beauty she is weary of men, but Adam is kind, gentle and the more time she spends with him the more she desires him. Still, Adam has his own demons to fight and can she truly trust a simple cottager to keep her safe from harm and the Prince of Darkness who hunts her…

I was really looking forward to read Too Dangerous to Desire, the third and final part in Alexandra Benedict’s Too trilogy. Adam was such a thrilling and startling character at the end of part one (Too Great A Temptation) that I was curious to know what would become of Adam. Would he finally find inner peace and gets his happily ever after? I was not disappointed, soon I was pleasantly diverted and deeply absorbed in this great story and it urged me to keep on reading till I finished the very last page.

This story begins with a prologue and this prologue immediately threw me back in the same sentiment and vibe I had while reading the first part of this trilogy. You get to read certain scenes from part one again, only these time you will read them from Adam’s point of view. Miss Benedict is rich in details and description and she has the writing abilities to create a very vivid picture in your mind’s eye. She combines this freely with a good flowing story line, rounded characters and a touching romance, giving the story a certain emotional depth.

One of the things you will perceive when you read this book is the character development of the main couple, Adam and Evelyn. Especially Evelyn’s character endures a transformation, at the beginning of this story she is scared and afraid for her life, she even thinks she is better off dead. Adam builds up her self-confidence, teaches her to overcome her fears and to take back control of her life. Adam is a caring and protective man who is consumed by the guilt he feels towards his late wife and his actions against his brother Damian. He has vowed to stay faithful to his wife and therefore lives in the past. He cannot accept the past, therefore he is not able to move on with his life. Adam and Evelyn will pull at all your heart strings for it is so easy to connect with them, their interactions are gripping and sensual.

Once again, as secondary characters we meet the Hawkins brothers. If you did not fall in love with them in part one, you sure will now! They are definitely alpha male material and so hilarious, it is good to know they have convinced Alexandra Benedict to give them their own series. I can’t wait to read their stories as well. You also meet Damian and Belle again and they rock! Then there is the very depraved and obsessed Prince Vadik of Moravia, now he will certainly give you the creeps. This author sure knows how to create a cast of characters you will adore!

Alexandra Benedict has yet to write a story that I cannot appreciate. Too Dangerous to Desire is masterfully written, refreshing and a powerful read. It effortlessly blends romance, characters of debt, wit and action to perfection. This story is a real keeper and will enthrall even the most demanding romance reader. Alexandra Benedict’s Too trilogy defines the best of what the historical genre has to offer!

4,5 stars

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Paula Quinn - A Highlander Never Surrenders

This is an advanced readers copy review, the release date for Paula Quinn's new and hot book is July 29, 2008!

Graham Grant is the first commander of the MacGregor clan. He is a skilled warrior and a real rogue, in his opinion lasses are for caressing, bedding and leaving. He accompanies his friend Robert Campbell, who has to find the elusive rebel Connor Stuart. Instead of Connor they find his sister Claire, she is on a fool’s mission to save her sister. Graham wants to help Claire, but helping her is dangerous and it could mean committing treason. The hunter and rogue in Graham crave for her surrender, only Claire seems to be immune to his seductive smiles. The more she fights him the more he wants her and soon he realizes that he may be the one that has to surrender, but he can never claim her for she belongs to another man...

Claire Stuart is determined to save her sister and herself from forced marriages. The man who holds her sister is her sworn enemy and the warrior in her wants to kill him. Even if it means she has to walk straight into the lion’s den. Then she meets Graham, he appreciates her skills with a sword but will not allow her to continue with her dangerous plan before they know all the facts. She tries to escape him more than once, and as he sees through her every move he tears down the walls around her heart. Nevertheless, she will not submit to any man and Graham cannot give her what she wants most from him, for a Highlander never surrenders…

While reading the fabulous Laird of the Mist by Paula Quinn the sexy warrior Graham Grant caught my eye. I was eager to find out what kind of woman it would take to capture the heart of this dazzling rogue. So when A Highlander Never Surrenders fell on my doormat I immediately plunged in the story, as always Paula Quinn did not fail to deliver a tale that urges you to flip the pages faster and faster. This heart-rendering story is captivating from the beginning up to the end!

A Highlander Never Surrenders is the second part in the Mist Trilogy and it takes off a couple of years after part one, The Laird of the Mist. The one thing I perceived immediately is the different vibe of this story in comparison with former Paula Quinn stories. Not only is this story steeped so much more with historical details, it is also set against the backdrop of a political unstable and revolting Scotland and has a political storyline. Paula Quinn blends this with well-rounded characters and a fierce and sensual romance, balancing the stunning plot and romance perfectly.

Graham is the hero of this story, he is a warrior to the backbone and he knows no fear for death. He is a sinful creature who firmly believes that there is no place in a warrior’s life for a wife. His heart has never been touched till he meets Claire, but he does not know how to deal with all these unfamiliar and new emotions. Now his heart is torn in two, for he can’t have Claire without committing treason and he has to choose between his duty and love.

Claire is not the average heroine, she is a trained and skilled warrior and has to stand her ground in a man’s world. She has a hard time combining her femininity with her sword, she has yet to find a man besides her brother who accepts her just as she is. She is also dedicated to her family and the royalist rebellion and does not take orders very well.

Paula Quinn has the writing abilities to make her characters come alive and to create dazzling interactions. She paints a very vivid picture in your mind’s eye, the emotions roar from the pages and you can feel the tension between Graham and Claire develop from a single spark to an all consuming fire that cannot be extinguished. You will fall in love with this dynamic couple for they are so easy to connect with.

An important secondary character is Robert Campbell, he is Graham’s best friend and a true knight, he is always defending someone’s honor. He is excellent with a sword but not so good with his fists, therefore he is always in trouble, the witty banter between Robert and Graham is hilarious. You also get introduced to the other Stuarts, Claire’s brother and sister. Connor is elusive and mysterious and Anne is beautiful, very feminine, smart and the complete opposite of Claire. All these lovely characters are well-drawn, they enrich the story and guarantee a warm, fast-paced and delightful read.

Once again Paula Quinn knows how to stir together all the right ingredients to create a superb, perfect, medieval story. A Highlander Never Surrenders is packed with endearing characters, history, passion and danger. Satisfying from the first to the last page, this story will leave you hungry for more!

This breathtaking story is another winner from the talented pen of Paula Quinn!

4,5 stars

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Alexandra Benedict - Too Great A Temptation - Too Trilogy 1

Once he was a notorious sinner, he was called the Duke of Rogues, but when his brother dies at the hands of pirates, Damian Westmore has only one thing on his mind…revenge. He is forced to take a job on board a merchant vessel when he is broke and needs to return to London. Never in a million years did he anticipate to join the same crew who killed his brother or come across a stunning siren, who just happens to be the captain’s sister. She stirs up all these emotions he has kept in check for so long and there is no denying their attraction for one another. How is he to strike down the pirates without hurting the feisty siren, the one who touches his heart…

Determined to be a pirate and to escape a dull life on the mainland, Mirabelle Hawkins has stowed away on board her brother’s pirate vessel. The infamous captain Black Hawk and her three other brothers are not happy to see her but decide to give her one chance to prove herself, provided that she is no distraction to the crew. From the moment she meets Damian she knows he is a temptation too great to resist. She cannot avoid him on board the ship nor can she reject his touch and kisses, but Damian is not who he appears to be. How can she give in to her desire for the one man who is bent on destroying her family…

Too Great A Temptation by Alexandra Benedict is the first part in the Too trilogy and it pleasantly surprised me for it was such a joy to read. From the first page I was immerged in a captivating story that demanded my full attention till the very last page and left me hungry for more. This story has a typical historical romance vibe, but at the same time it is refreshing and fast-paced to read.

A great part of this story takes place on board a pirate ship and this author lures you into her world with her superb writing skills. With a keen eye for detail she describes the day-to-day life on board the vessel, the struggle of being a woman in a man’s world and she builds up the underlying tension between her main characters to perfection. The dialogues sparkle, are snappy and full of wit. The plot is simple and human, but it keeps you enthralled.

You will immediately fall in love with the mesmerizing and charming characters in this book. The main characters are Damian and Mirabelle (Belle), they are well-drawn and rounded, giving their romance a depth that will resonate with the reader. Damian is easy to figure out, he used to be a sinner all the way but he is weighed down by the guilt over his brother’s death. Now he has to clean up his act and is trying to redeem himself by avenging his brother. Belle is not your average type of heroine, she is a feisty, pretty woman who speaks her mind and wants to be a pirate. However, most of all she wants to be accepted by her brothers and belong somewhere. Belle has to be assertive otherwise her overprotective brothers will completely carp her. Their interactions are dynamic and curt, they brighten up the pages.

Damian to Belle and vice versa:

“You speak your mind most freely. It’s not what a proper miss would do.” “And what do you know of a proper miss, Damian?” “I know enough to suspect an innocent maid would never speak of things lustful … which leads me to believe you might not be a very innocent maid.” “Who I am is none of your affair.” “But you are my affair, Damian.”

The secondary characters immediately caught my eye. Belle’s brothers are hilarious, witty and they supply you with lots of snappy bickering. James is the leader, William is the even-tempered one, Edmund and Quincy are the youngest of the lot and are always at each other’s throats, they don’t care about propriety or order. Your heart cries out for Belle who has to deal with her overprotective, “loving” brothers. With secondary characters like these Hawkins boys you will keep flipping those pages faster and faster.

Quincy to Edmund and vice versa:

“What is the matter with her?” wondered Quincy. “I don’t know,” said Edmund, his attention back on his finger. “Maybe she’s having her monthly courses.” Quincy looked back at his brother. “I’m going to knock your teeth out for putting that thought in my head.”

With Too Great A Temptation Alexandra Benedict has written a story you will remember long after you have finished it. This story is the perfect combination of a heart rendering romance, fast-paced action, captivating characters and witty dialogues. In short, Alexandra Benedict provides you with top-notch reading material!

4,5 stars

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Gena Showalter - The Darkest Kiss - LOTU 2


A long time ago a group of immortal warriors, protectors of the gods, opened up Pandora’s box and unleashed a horde of demons upon the world. The warriors were punished severely, they were forced to house the demons inside themselves. Now the gods look down upon them, humans fear them and they are hunted by Hunters. The only way they can free themselves is to once again lock up the demons in Pandora’s box, however the box is missing and time is running out for they are not the only ones in search of the box...

Lucien is the leader of the Budapest warriors and the keeper of the demon Death, to keep the demon inside him satisfied he is forced to take souls to the hereafter. Tormented over the death of the woman he once loved, he avoids love and women all together. Then he meets Anya and she stirs up all these feelings in him he thought were long gone, but is she for real? To make matters worse the new cruel king of the Gods, Cronus, blackmails him to take her soul, if he does not obey his warriors will pay the price. Now he is forced to choose between his warriors and the one woman who makes him feel alive ...

Anya is the goddess of Anarchy, she cannot love a man completely because of her curse. She has never known any pleasure and as a result of her mother’s actions she is scorned by the other gods and is treated like an outcast. For the first time in her life she feels a strong attraction for a man, Lucien, if only he would see her for who she really is, but Lucien also represents danger and death. The king of the gods, Cronus, is chasing her, for she possesses something he wants and she is not willing to give it up. Now, thanks to Cronus, the one man she craves is coming after her to take her soul. How is she to change the mind of the keeper of Death? If only she could make him love her and trust him enough to tell him her secret...

The Darkest Kiss is the second part in the Lords of the Underworld series by Gena Showalter and she sure brought it off to create a new series that is unique, refreshing and exciting to read. The story immediately grabs your attention and does not let go until you know the whole story and then it leaves you craving for more, more of those sexy, muscular warriors.

Gena Showalter created a whole new world that is magical, dazzling and dangerous by mixing elements of the Greek mythology with hot looking, tormented warriors and of course a heart rendering love story. She carefully builds up this new world with pieces of information without overwhelming you, making sure that the romance is in the spotlight. At the same time she is dropping hints about other future story lines, that alone will leave you hungry for more!

The main couple in this story is Lucien and Anya. Lucien is a tormented warrior who feels responsible for the cruel fate that is bestowed upon him and his warriors because he was the one to open Pandora’s box all these centuries ago. Now he is completely numb for he does not want to feel any emotions or get his hopes up for anything. Anya is a beautiful, radiant woman who is a little rebellious, likes a little mischief and fights her own battles, she quarrels with the gods all the time, but she is also lonely and wants to belong somewhere. You will immediately sympathize with this couple, their interactions are leaping off the pages and will make your heart beat faster and faster.

The supporting cast of family, friends and enemies is very diverse. The warriors all have their own personalities and demons. They are prepared to die for one another and some of them will have their own story in the future. The Hunters have but one goal in life to rid the world of the warriors and find the box. And then you have the many different gods and mythical creatures, who like to play pitiful games and are only looking out for themselves. This concoction of all these various characters gives this story a certain depth and diversity. It is refreshing, original and a joy to read.

The Darkest Kiss is fast-paced and intriguing, filled with many well-drawn passionate characters, a superb plot and a sizzling hot romance. This reviewer cannot wait to return to the compelling, seductive, mythical world of Gena Showalter and those hot, sexy warriors. The new Lord of the Underworld series is just as addictive as chocolate!

4,5 stars

Thursday, June 5, 2008

J.R. Ward - Lover Enshrined - BDB 6


Fiercely loyal to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Brotherhood's bloodlines alive. As Primale of the Chosen, he is to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished.

As his first mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body but his heart for herself-she sees the emotionally scarred male behind all his noble responsibility. But while the war with the Lessening Society grows more grim, and tragedy looms over the Brotherhood's mansion, Phury must decide between duty and love.

Lover Enshrined is the sixth part of the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series (BDB) and features my favorite BDB warrior, Phury. It was a long wait after Lover Unbound so the minute I had the book in my hands I plunged right into it, only to rise to the surface to eat and breathe. Miss Ward is a gifted writer because so far she has always been able to bring about a BDB fever every time a new part of this series was about to hit the shelves.

Since the fourth part of this series, Lover Revealed, Ward has taken a different road with her stories, less romance, more plotlines and action. Lover Enshrined confirms that Ward continues to travel down this road. Lover Enshrined basically has several different plotlines and in this book she constantly switches between these plotlines which made it difficult to immerse completely into the story.

So what is it about Miss Ward’s stories that keep millions of romance readers utterly spellbound? It is that special BDB vibe, the interactions between those sexy warriors, the rituals, the ceremonies and the romance with their heroines. This is exactly where the shoe pinches. In this story, that for a big part takes place in the Mansion, you would expect lots of BDB interactions, well just as in Lover Unbound you’re craving for this vibe but will not be satisfied, only at the very end of the book do we see some brotherly interactions and can we feel that vibe again.

Phury is the hero in this story, he has to deal with his own paltry past and his guilt towards his twin, Zsadist. He is always sacrificing himself for the others, he is emotionally tormented by all this. Then there is this Primale business to consider and his celibacy, he is on this downward spiral and is completely lost. Towards the end of the story he is outlined as a junkie and although he makes a strong recovery and finally finds inner peace, I cannot help but feel he was wronged by the Warden, for the other Brothers completely turn their backs on him. I thought this was entirely out of character for everything the Brotherhood stands for.

Cormia is this sweet young lady, but she really is unworldly. She has no clue to how the world works, she only knows the world of the Chosen. Being a Chosen one is not really her thing, throughout this story, just as Phury, she finds out who she really is. The attraction between Phury and Cormia is nice but certainly not spectacular, their romance was just not explored in depth and the love scenes lacked intensity. However, I do like the twist Ward has given to the Primale plotline, it certainly showed that Phury has great leadership within him.

What keeps this story interesting are the different plotlines with all these secondary characters. The plotline with John Matthew, Quinn and Blay pulls at all your heartstrings and gives you a little of that BDB vibe you so crave for. Rhevenge’s plotline is interesting and the war with the Lessers and the Omega gets so much more intense, for the Omega plays out his master card which means a whole lot of problems for the Brotherhood. Also, Lassiter finally makes his attendance, now that particular male is going to be trouble with a capital T. Ward has done an outstanding job with the plotlines and she leaves you guessing what will going to happen in the next parts of this series.

But with all these interesting and emotional gripping plotlines going on, you can’t shake the feeling that the romance between Phury and Cormia is completely snowed under. The balance between the romance and the other plotlines has completely been thrown out the window, you do not get connected with Phury and Cormia as a couple, simply because they did not get enough pages in the book to tell their romance.

So we can say for sure that Ward has taken a different road with the last two parts of this series, Lover Enshrined confirms this. The road she travels now will not lead back to that special BDB vibe we have come to know and crave. This story will certainly leave you with mixed feelings, we will just have to except that the romance part plays second fiddle as of now and move on. Needless to say that Ward excels at writing superb plotlines with a twist. I am eager to read what the future will bring for the Black Dagger Brotherhood, only time will tell.

3 stars

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kathryn Smith - Taken By The Night - Brotherhood of Blood Series 2


Friday, the 13th of October, 1307
By order of the King of France, six mercenaries, raided a Templar’s keep to find the Holy Grail. They found a cup and all six drunk from it, except that the cup they drunk from was not the Holy Grail but the Unholy Grail. Their doom was sealed with this one action, for who drinks from the Unholy Grail becomes a son of Lilith, or better said, a vampire...

London, roughly at the turn of the century, 1900
Saint has come to London at the request of his good friend Madeline, who runs the notorious brothel Maison Rouge. Two of her girls have been murdered in the same way Jack the Ripper used to slay his victims and she wants him to investigate the murders discretely. But he also has to deal with Ivy, the daughter of Madeline, who had a crush on him as a young girl, she wants to avenge her friends but she puts herself at risk to do so. He knows better than to get involved but when another murder occurs he cannot stand by doing nothing when Ivy is in danger. He does not want to have feelings for her, he has suffered too many losses in the past and it hurts too much, but how can he resist such a passionate and courageous woman who would move heaven and earth to protect the people she cares for...

Ivy Dearing is determined to find out who killed her friends, she is quite sceptical about Saint helping them, all she knows about men is that they don’t keep their promises and always leave. As a young girl she had a crush on Saint and now after all those years she still has feelings for him. Together they investigate the murders and not only do they discover a conspiracy that has to do with Ivy but they also discover each other, they cannot deny the attraction between them. Given that Ivy is in grave danger Saints wants to keep her close, but she doesn’t want to be owned or claimed by any man, let alone Saint. She only wants a brief affair for she knows he will be leaving soon, but her heart totally disagrees and aches for him...

This is the third novel in the Brotherhood of Blood Series and it is yet again another fast-paced read and a real page turner. This time Kathryn Smith takes us to gloomy England and she has pulled it off once more to give this book a total different vibe then the two previous parts in this series. This is also one of the reasons this series is so much fun to read because it is so versatile.

The setting of this story is London and Kathryn Smith, as always, is capable of painting a vivid picture of the posh neighbourhoods and shabby alleys, she has described the Maison Rouge in detail and gives us a good image of the day-to-day life in a whorehouse. The plot of this story tells us yet another piece of the main plot that rises to the surface in each story of this series, it is cunning, intriguing and it leaves you craving for more. All you have to do is wait for the next part in the series to get another piece of the puzzle.

With Saint Kathryn Smith has created a tormented, seductive vampire who enjoys life but does not want to get involved with anyone, it hurts him too much to keep losing the people he loves. Ivy Dearing, the heroine, is this bold, strong-willed woman who has an odd hobby, she likes to photograph people in erotic poses and she wants to live an independent life, living at a whorehouse has taught her that love does not exist. The interactions between Saint and Ivy are intense, snappy and passionate.

Saint to Ivy and vice versa:

Tell him no.” “Why?” Face impassive, he turned the full force of his gaze on her. “You know why. Because you belong to me.” Her delicate jaw tightened. Not quite the declaration she had been expecting, obviously, but what kind of declaration did a man make to a woman who claimed not to believe in love? “Belong to you? You ass.”

This story has an engaging cast of secondary characters. For instance there is Justin Fontaine, he courts Ivy, he is cordial but has a hidden agenda. The staff of the Maison Rouge feels like a warm and loving family and then there is Ivy’s father, he is a nobleman who does not acknowledge Ivy as his daughter. And the mysterious Order of the Silver Palm gets mentioned again, this Order is obviously aiming at the Brotherhood of Blood, but the big question is why?

From page one this story captivated me and urged me to keep flipping the pages as fast as I could. Taken by the Night is yet another enthralling story that you will enjoy reading and leaves you hungry for more. I cannot wait to sink my teeth into another part of the Brotherhood of Blood series!

4 stars