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 fiancĂ© 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 fiancĂ© 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