Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!!



Wishing everyone

a

warm, loving

and

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And for those

who

can't wait....



Friday, December 18, 2009

Susan Lyons - Wild Ride To Love Series part 1 - Sex Drive



Prof. Theresa Fallon’s ex-husband gave her good reason to swear off men. But when, on the long flight from Sydney, Australia, to Vancouver, BC, she’s seated beside one of Australia’s ten sexiest bachelors, she has reason to question that decision.

Thriller writer Damien Black is very attracted to the sexy but standoffish professor, and it’s a challenge to persuade her to enjoy his special brand of in-flight entertainment. From there, it’s not all that big a step to enjoying a stopover together in Honolulu. Not to mention, a little sex on Waikiki Beach!

To the prof’s surprise, her sex drive hasn’t disappeared. It was only waiting for the right man to awaken it, and Damien is definitely that man. And the same very well might go for her heart…

For the cynical Theresa and the far-too-experienced Damien, this journey is a special one. To their mutual surprise, they’re on a wild ride to love!


I never read any of Susan Lyons books before, but when the request from ROOB came to review Susan Lyon’s Sex Drive I could not say no. Since I am warming up fast to erotic contemporary romance with a touch of chick lit, this sounded like a fun read. I mean, who doesn’t want to be seated next to one of Australia’s ten sexiest bachelors on a long flight?? Of course I have never been that lucky, I always ended up being seated next to snoring, grumpy old ladies. So I opened the book and the story captured me immediately, for this is one hot read!

This story starts in a shop at the airport where Prof. Theresa Fallon is searching for bridal magazines, her baby sister is getting married and she promised to make all the arrangements necessary for a lovely wedding. So as a real academic she is digging up all the information she needs to make this wedding a success when while talking to the clerk she puts her foot in her mouth and has a real embarrassing moment with this hot guy who stands behind her in the line. This hot guy turns out to be her ‘neighbor’ on her long flight home. Damien Black who is seated next to her is immediate intrigued by Theresa even if she is giving him the cold shoulder. Although the pretty air hostess almost literally throws herself at him, he finds the fact that Theresa does not recognize him and her intellectual look far more appealing and immediately starts his seduction.

Sex Drive is a slow-paced and character-driven story. Slow-paced and character-driven because it mainly revolves around the development of Theresa’s and Damien’s relationship and their characters, but they have enough fireworks going on to keep your nose in the book. Theresa is a real career woman, all work and no play. She is very responsible and serious. She has the annoying habit of voicing her thoughts and she is a perfectionist who is impatient when others don’t measure up to her expectations. She is also vulnerable when it comes to men; she does not have a lot of experience in the love department, sees herself as a plain Jane and was betrayed by her ex-husband who used her brain to climb the academic ladder.

Then you have Damien Black, what to say about him? He is hot! He is the hot-sex-on-a-stick type of man; he turns women’s heads everywhere. He can have any woman he wants; he is a celebrity author of paranormal thrillers and is one of the sexiest bachelors in Australia with his tattoos and pitch black half long hair. He is part aboriginal and is very comfortable in his own skin; he knows how to deal with women, it comes natural to him. He is also very likeable and therefore it is impossible not to fall in love with him, he is delicious!

I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about the concept of this series, three sisters finding true love on their way home to their baby sister’s wedding. My main concern was the timeframe for setting up a believable romance. This whole story takes place in approximately three to four days; it made me wonder if Susan Lyons could pull it off to create a believable romance within this timeframe. Theresa and Damien are complete opposites in every way, however, we all know opposites attract. But I did buy into their romance, because they spend all their time together, on the plane and during their stopover in Honolulu. Besides hot sex they have many in-depth conversations and discover that they have a lot in common. What started out as a playful one-night flight adventure turns into something more meaningful and deeper during their stopover in Honolulu.

Little by little they tell each other bits and pieces of their lives. They provide each other with fresh insights, mostly about themselves, simply by speaking out loud their observations about one another. Therefore Theresa’s and Damien’s characters are very rounded. For example, Theresa points out to Damien that he should use his celebrity status to raise awareness for the injustice the aboriginals have suffered since he is part aboriginal himself. Damien turns her words back on her, claiming she only publish her articles in academic journals instead of telling the “real” world her points of view and so reach a larger public. They challenge each other in many ways and they realize that they both need to make some changes so they can grow into better, whole persons.

The sex scenes are scorching hot; at first they are raw and full of lust. Like the ones on the airplane, while it is obvious that Damien already is a member of the Mile High Club and knows exactly how and where to have sex on a plane, Theresa has never done anything like this in her life. Further in the book they change when their affections for one another grow and instead of just having sex they make smokinhot love. The one thing I like about these scenes is that you see the change in Theresa, she gets more comfortable with her own body by the hour and that is thanks to Damien.

Every chapter is told either from Theresa’s point of view, or Damien’s, this gives you a good insight in Theresa insecurities and Damien’s confusion for falling in love for the first time for real. The only secondary characters that pass in review are two of Theresa’s sisters and her parents, but only at the end of the book. Though it is very clear from Theresa’s musings that the four sisters are very different they do have this family bond.

From the first to the last page Sex Drive is one hot read! Flying has never been so much fun! I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was fanning myself from time to time, I am looking forward to read about the wild rides of Theresa’s sisters!

Sex Drive is hot, hot, hot!

4 stars

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kathryne Kennedy - My Unfair Lady

High-spirited Summer Lee Wine has but one wish, to marry the man she loves, a man who belongs to the upper class of New York. Although she is rich, his family does not approve of her. Born and raised in a frontier town, Summer has no clue about the rules and etiquette of New York’s upper class society. To win his family over she has travelled all the way to England to become a real lady and to get herself presented to the Queen of England. To help her become a proper lady she has enlisted the help of a real duke and the more time they spend together the more Summer realizes that her heart is no longer loyal to the man she left behind in New York…

The impoverished Duke of Monchester is well known for his cutting remarks and despises rich American title hunters. He cannot afford to refuse the deal Summer has offered. Besides, it will be quite a challenge to turn this savage girl into a proper lady for her American fiancé. She is unlike any woman he has ever met and is fascinated by her. For the first time in ages he is having a good time and he actually discovers that he likes her unladylike behavior. He does not want her to change for she is simply irresistible just the way she is…


The first thing that came to mind when I read the title and the blurb of My Unfair Lady was the movie My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn, in which Eliza Doolittle, a simple flower girl, takes speech lessons from professor Henry Higgins so that she can pass as a lady. As I was already familiar with Kathryne Kennedy’s work, she also writes the fabulous Relics of Merlin Series, I was eager to read My Unfair Lady.

Set against a Victorian England background the story is set in motion with a rather unusual, but witty meeting between the high-spirited Summer Wine Lee and the haughty Duke of Monchester. It was clear from the start that this was going to be a sparkling and emotional read, full of hilarious and funny moments but most of all a bit different than the average historical romance story. It did not take me long to be totally absorbed in My Unfair Lady.

Summer is raised in a little frontier town, she is bold, outspoken, wild and passionate about everything she does. She takes in every critter in need, therefore her party consist, amongst others, of a Chihuahua and later on in the story also a monkey and a fox. She wants to change into this proper lady for her fiancé, but she has no clue how to behave accordingly. In society she is clumsy, she has several hilarious Bridget-Jones-moments, she acts before thinking and has a twangy accent. She has no style for fashion, the only thing she has going for her is her graceful walk.

The Duke of Monchester, Byron, is a handsome, bossy and arrogant man. He wields his tongue like a sword. Thanks to his father, who left him nothing but a title and two estates in desperate need of funds, his livelihood now depends on entertaining his close friend, the Prince of Wales, with gossip about the ton. His family has money but does nothing to help him; they display a phony affection for him.

Although there are several other colorful characters, which all fulfill their part, this story really is character-driven. Two people, who at the surface have nothing in common with each other, are brought together by circumstances. Both Summer as Byron need to reconnect with themselves. Byron has changed from a warm and caring person into this cold, heartless man. Occasionally Summer manages to break through the thick wall he has built around himself and then the old Byron surfaces for a while. She makes him realize that he doesn’t like the person he has become and he wants a better life, a different one. As for Summer, she pretends she wants to change for her fiancé, but she really can’t forgive herself for something that she has done in the past and therefore wants to change. Byron tries to help her to accept and love herself for who she is.

They really are a perfect match and in many ways they are more alike than shows at first sight. Like their love for critters. With every faux pas that Summer makes, Byron makes it right. Their attraction is instant; it shimmers and grows with every page. They fall in love with each other without realizing it. The love scenes are bold and passionate, their interactions sparkling. Of course they encounter many roadblocks, both together as apart. But throughout the book they grow into better and whole persons.

The romance and turning-Summer-into-a-proper-lady plotline is interlaced with a little suspense. Someone is after Byron’s life and for once it is not the heroine who is in trouble but the hero, and of course Summer comes to his rescue. But it doesn’t make Byron a wimp, he really is a strong character and my fear that Summer’s character would overshadow Byron’s was unfounded. They both are strong and very likeable. The end of the story is very emotional, heart-wrenching but also perfect!

With My Unfair Lady Kathryne Kennedy delivered another beautiful, sparkling and emotional story with unconventional, but lovely and lively characters. Her writing is smooth, addictive and fast-paced; she has the gift to make a story come to live in your mind’s eye. Her books are unique and in a league of their own, I am already craving for her next story!

4 stars

Friday, November 27, 2009

Meredith Duran - Written On Your Skin


The society beauty who saved his life...

Beauty, charm, wealthy admirers: Mina Masters enjoys every luxury but freedom. To save herself from an unwanted marriage, she turns her wiles on a darkly handsome stranger. But Mina's wouldbe hero is playing his own deceptive game. A British spy, Phin Granville has no interest in emotional entanglements...until the night Mina saves his life by gambling her own.

The jaded spy who vowed to forget her...

Four years later, Phin inherits a title that frees him from the bloody game of espionage. But memories of the woman who saved him won't let Phin go. When he learns that Mina needs his aid, honor forces him back into the world of his nightmares.

In lives built on lies, love is the darkest secret of all...

Deception has ruled Mina's life just as it has Phin's. But as the beauty and the spy match wits in a dangerous dance, their practiced masks begin to slip, revealing a perilous attraction. And the greatest threat they face may not be traitors or murderous conspiracies, but their own dark desires....

Meredith Duran has fast become one of my favorite authors in the historical genre, I love the way she pens down a story, the words are so flowing it reminds me of a beautiful love song. She knows how to blend a passionate and emotional romance with a captivating suspense plotline. When Phin was introduced in Bound By Your Touch I wanted to know more about this tall, handsome but very haunted man. Well I got my wish, but when I finished his story I really had mixed feelings about it. This story did not blow me away like the previous two books of Meredith Duran.

Since the blurb gives an accurate vibe of the story I am not going to write a summary. When I closed the book it bothered me that this story did not blow me away, because I really wanted it too... First of all, this is a character-driven story, Duran always pens down strong characters, characters that grow and heal during the book. Phin I really love, he is hero material, tall, dark, brooding, handsome and mysterious. He was forced to spy in the past but now that he is a member of the peerage, he has left the spying business behind him. However, the past still torments him; even now he never lets his guard down, not even with his best friends.

It is Mina that rubs me the wrong way. I found her annoying from start to finish. I do understand where she is coming from, she witnessed and experienced domestic violence first hand, she vowed to never be suppressed again by a man, now she seeks independence and freedom for herself and her mother. She truly is a strong and smart woman, very sophisticated on the outside but very insecure and suspicious on the inside. When her insecurity prevails she lashes out to protect herself, but does this in a very annoying and immature way, over and over again. She seeks Phin’s help but completely ignores his advice and endangers her own safety because she needs to be in control.

Phin acts rather arrogant and bossy towards her, it scares him that she can break down the walls he has build around him so easily. But he does have her best interests at heart for his honor demands it and he owes her, for she did safe his life once. Mina and Phin’s attraction for each other radiates from the pages, Meredith Duran has written hot and sensual sex scenes, but the bedroom seems to be the only place where Phin and Mina let down their guard and control. I found it very annoying that Mina fought Phin every step of the way, playing games like a child to get her way.

While in Duran’s previous stories the suspense plotline is strong, surprising and thrilling, I cannot say the same for the suspense plotline in Written On Your Skin. It starts very exciting and intriguing in Hong Kong, but fades completely into the background when Mina and Phin hook up again. Their romance and interactions dominate the story, there is a lot of talk about this dangerous man, the villain, but not once does he make a real appearance. At the end of the story there is no big bang and the suspense part ends very weak, like a balloon that deflates slowly.

I cannot say that Written On Your Skin is a bad story, not at all. Meredith Duran’s writing is melodious and compelling, that alone raises the story to a higher level. I love her writing, it is rich in detail and every page is steeped with passion and emotions. The sex is page-melting and her characters are profound and deeply passionate. This story did not blow me away because Mina’s character could not charm me and imo the suspense part was very weak.

However, when Meredith Duran’s next release Wicked Becomes Her hit the shelves I will devour it on the spot for her writing is addictive, beautiful and breathtaking.

Friday, November 20, 2009

In the Spotlight: Paula Quinn

As some of my blogfriends know, Paula Quinn is one of my favorite historical romance authors! I fell in love with her writing and the way she portrays her main characters, the romance and the action. With every book she has penned down the ultimate medieval hero, exactly the way I like them. Paula also has an pechant for writing hot scenes that always involve water, a lake, the sea etc., you can find these scenes in every one of her stories (five so far) and I love those scenes. It was/is a long wait since Paula's latest book was released in 2008, but her new book, yay!, Ravished By A Highlander will be released on April 27, 2010. And yes, I already hit the pre-order button! This will be the first book in her new series Children of the Mist, here is the blurb:


FORBIDDEN LOVE

Davina Montgomery is no ordinary English lady. For her own protection, she’s been locked away from society, her true identity the Crown’s most closely guarded secret. Until a shocking betrayal—and a bold rescue—land her in the arms of a fierce Highlander, a powerful warrior whose searing gaze and tantalizing touch awaken her body and soul.

UNDENIABLE DESIRE

As the firstborn son of a powerful Scottish laird, Robert MacGregor has no loyalty to the English throne, but he’s not the kind of man to leave a woman in distress, even if she is English. He vows to deliver Davina to safety, unharmed and untouched. Yet one stolen kiss leaves them both smoldering with desire… and desperate for more. With Davina’s secret threatening to destroy his clan, Rob must choose between everything he holds dear and the one woman he can’t live without.

Series: Children of the Mist (book 1)
Releasedate: 27 april 2010
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical (Medieval) Romance
ISBN: 978-0446552387

Yes this blurb definitely is raising my bloodpressure and I can't wait to get my greedy hands on this one!

The Children of the Mist will be about the children of two couples we have already met before, Callum and Kate from Laird of the Mist and Graham and Claire from A Highlander Never Surrenders. Robert MacGregor is the son of Callum and Kate, the heroes from Laird of the Mist. This is one of my favorite books, I still swoon when I think of Callum and Graham...

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My reviews of her previous books:

Laird Of The Mist
A Highlander Never Surrenders

Paula also wrote the Risande trilogy, this trilogy made me fall in love with her writing in the first place.

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My reviews of Brand, Dante and Gareth:

Lord Of Desire
Lord Of Temptation
Lord Of Seduction

Anyway, I will be counting down the days till the release of Ravished By A Highlander and if Robert is even half as yummy as his father Callum is then we will be swooning over another sexy MacGregor!

To visit Paula Quinn's website, click here.

Who is your favorite historical romance writer?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Teaser: My Unfair Lady - Kathryne Kennedy


My Unfair Lady from Kathryne Kennedy will be released on December 1, 2009. I had the honor of reviewing this story for ROOB.

With My Unfair Lady Kathryne Kennedy delivered another beautiful, sparkling and emotional story with unconventional, but lovely and lively characters. Her writing is smooth, addictive and fast-paced; she has the gift to make a story come to live in your mind’s eye. Her books are unique and in a league of their own.

Click here and go to the Recently Updated page of ROOB to read my full review.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hot Cover Alert


Lauren Dane's new cover for Insatiable is hot, hot, hot!

PHANTOM CORPS:INSATIABLE
Berkley Heat
ISBN: 0425224643
Genre: Futuristic, Erotic Romance
Length: Novel
Release Date: July 2010

Blurb:

"With tensions between the Federation and Imperial ‘Verses rising, one woman may hold the key to victory. The dangerous mission to smuggle her out of Imperial Territory falls to Daniel Haws and his team, the ultra secret Phantom Corps. This elite squad of the Federation Military is the only one trusted and skilled enough to remove her from under the watchful eye of her father, the Supreme Commander of the Imperial ‘Verses.

Carina is used to wearing a mask. Her father and his men think her little more than a pretty prize to be won by a man more ruthless than the rest. When he announces his intention to marry her to one of his henchmen, a man known for his cruelty, Carina knows she has to move as soon as possible to get out. But getting secret information to the Federation has served her well for years and she appeals to them for help.

She expected rescue from a man who’d been her enemy. But she wasn’t prepared for just how intense her attraction to Daniel Haws would be. Born as adversaries into different ranks, and on the run for their lives, they now need each other to survive–by holding on to the only thing they have in common: a growing desire that is dangerous, irresistible, and insatiable…
"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jill Shalvis - Double Play



“Getting to first base is a cinch… But getting home will take a grand slam…”

“Pace Martin is the ace pitcher for the Pacific Heat. He’s got the arm, the experience, and the wins. He’s also got the pain, the pressure, and the possible end of his career looming over him. The last thing he needs now is a
distraction, even if it comes in the form of a tough, beautiful, tell-it-like-it-is writer who sees past his defenses.

Holly Hutchins knows a good story when she sees one, and the tall, dark, and slightly attitude-challenged Pace Martin fits the bill. But when she realizes there’s more at stake than just a win, she starts to see the handsome, broad-shouldered jock in a different light.

Pace and Holly begin a seductive game, but in the face of unexpected betrayal and challenges, they’ll have to find the courage to swing for the fences…”


Lately I am reading more and more contemporary romance stories, I like to change genres to avoid reading slumps and contemporary romances are fun and easy to read. After reading the blurb of Double Play I knew immediately that this was a book I wanted to read. I pre-ordered it and shame on me, I totally forgot about it until I found it on my doormat. But my to-be-read-pile demanded of me that I read other books first. Then Stacy posted a great post on her blog about Double Play and I just had to read it.

I never read any story of Jill Shalvis before but I will now! I have to restrain myself because I really want to buy her whole backlist now; I had so much fun reading this story. From the first chapter this story takes off full speed, set against the backdrop of the baseball world with many temptations and secrets we meet Pace and Holly. I immediately fell in love with Pace, Jill Shalvis sure knows how to portray a baseball team full of hunk-a-licious, muscular, sexy men. The testosterone vibe flows from the pages in large waves! I knew from the start that I was in for an emotional and hot read for it was clear from page one that Pace is in the midst of an emotional turmoil and has to deal with it.

Pace is the pitcher of the Pacific Heat, a baseball team with great potential. Pace feels the pressure because he is the star of the team. A shoulder injury could not come at a more arduous time than now so he tries to hide it. Pace lives and breathes baseball, so this injury is his worst nightmare. The last thing he needs is some annoying and nosy reporter doing a series of articles on the team. Pace has always been uncomfortable with all the attention, he does not understand why people want to know more about him, he is arrogant and has a bit of an attitude. But underneath this layer of arrogance is a man who is intelligent, caring, charming and afraid, afraid that if he can’t play baseball his life is meaningless.

Holly Hutchins is a tell-it-like-it-is reporter. She has good instincts and can smell a secret a mile away. She had a troubled youth and only has one close friend. She practically lives out of her suitcase as she follows her story wherever it takes her. She had no luck with boyfriends in the past so she decided that she could live without one. She is no quitter; she is nosy and very persistent. She is also annoyed that she has butterflies in her stomach every time the subject of her first article in a new series, Pace, happens to be around.

Of course Holly gets her interview, and they get to know each other better and better, the attraction is growing and soon they do a lot more than just talking. While Pace is enjoying their blossoming friendship and working through his problems, Holly finds it increasingly more difficult to keep her distance, to stay neutral and write her articles. She has become friends with most members of the team but she also has to dig up the dirt on them, and of course she finds it. Now she struggles to balance her newfound friendships, writing her articles on baseball issues and at the same time maintaining her professional integrity.

What I like about Pace and Holly’s relationship is that they learn from each other that not everything is as black and white as they think. Holly shows Pace that there is more in life than just baseball and that he is so much more than a baseball pitcher, Holly learns that she does not have to be ruthless to tell a story and that not all secrets have to be revealed.

Furthermore I loved the way Jill Shalvis takes you by the hand and introduces you to the world of baseball, a world dominated by males. All of the secondary characters are charming and appealing, the baseball team is as close as a family, and they look out for one another, all that testosterone makes your heart beat faster. The kids pull at your heartstrings and then you have Sam and Wade. What to say about Wade? Let’s just say that he can come over any time! Jill Shalvis knows how to set up a story, at the end of Double Play I was craving for the next part in the series.

With Double Play Jill Shalvis rocked my boat! I really fell in love with this story, the writing is fluent and smooth, it is witty and has characters to die for. The plot is fast-paced and the romance is hot and steamy. With Double Play Jill Shalvis delivered me everything I am looking for in a contemporary romance and then some more!

4,5 stars

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Erin McCarthy - Hard and Fast - Fast Track Series 2

“An experiment in romance…

New to Charlotte, North Carolina, stock car racing country, graduate student Imogen Wilson meets Ty McCordle, a driver who inexplicably has her pulse racing. After an encounter at the track with a woman whose main goal in life is to marry a driver, Imogen realizes she’s hit on the perfect topic for her sociology thesis. If she follows the rules on how to get a man, can she steer her way into the hearts of the drivers and establish their dating- and mating-patterns?

… that’s testing the limits of passion.

Although sexy and reckless Ty is the ideal test subject, Imogen knows she can’t pursue him for the sake of science. Yet he’s the one who’s chasing after her, and Imogen realizes that she actually wants to be caught. A Southern gentleman like Ty won’t disappoint – he will satisfy her curiosity and make all the risks worthwhile…”

After reading Flat-Out Sexy it was a long wait till the release of Hard and Fast. I was never one for the car racing romance theme, it just did not appeal to me. Until this series, now I found myself waiting and eying my mailbox for my copy like a dog who eagerly awaits the return of his boss. The seed for the attraction between Ty and Imogen was already planted in Flat-Out Sexy so with Hard and Fast I could pick up where Flat-Out Sexy left off.

Because of the familiarity with the characters I was immediately pulled back into the story, enjoying and devouring every word. Ty is an easy going, likable, handsome guy who has made a name for himself in the stockcar racing business. Stockcar racing is his passion. He dates bimbos because they are low maintenance, all they want from him is a few moments in the racing spotlight and hot sex. He feels this attraction between him and Imogen and wants to give this relationship a serious go. He hides that he is dyslexic, he is ashamed of it and is very resourceful in hiding it, only one person knows about it. Because of his dyslexic he cannot wrap his brains around Imogen’s name and he playfully keeps calling her Emma Jean. Normally if a hero keeps forgetting a woman’s name it would irritate the hell out of me but Ty gets away with it, even if he weren’t dyslexic.

Imogen comes from a complete different background. Born and raised in New York she is a real city girl, she feels and is an outsider in Charlotte. She is a honest, loyal and hardworking woman but also lonely. She feels drawn to Ty but don’t know why, she realizes that if she wants to test her thesis that this is her change, so why not mix business with pleasure. I must say that I had some problems with Imogen’s character. I do like her but she has this tendency to over-analyze things, she has this need to explain everything with facts and science and therefore she sometimes comes across as someone who is not in touch with this world. So at first I could not wholly connect with her.

Opposites attract. And Ty and Imogen are complete opposites. They also let each other experience things they normally would not do. Imogen has persuaded Ty to read Shakespeare and Imogen has agreed to go camping with him. The camping trip is romantic but also has some hilarious scenes. It is funny to read how Ty sometimes totally do not understand Imogen’s scientific points of view but he is trying to make her feel more at home and less uptight. The love scenes are even more hot and sexy than the ones between Elec and Tamara. Especially the scene where Ty takes Imogen against the wall is breathtaking and scorching titillating.

The recurring characters in this story are also layered and rich, Tammy and Elec, Ryder, Suzanne, Elec’s family. Every time you turn a page you get to know them a little better, it incites you to even know more about them. These characters are like a safety net for Ty and Imogen, they are always there for support, to show their love and they always poke their noses into everything in kind of a funny way but they do so without dominating the story. It is going to be pure torture to wait for their own stories.

There is something about Erin McCarthy’s stories that turns you into this craving addict. This series leaves you all warm inside and has this feel-good vibe, it cheers you up. Erin McCarthy knows how to put a smile on your face and enchants you with this character-driven series. Her writing is fluent and fast-paced; she knows how to create different layers and depth in this series through her characters. Her characters all have so much more depth to them than they show at first sight. They grow and undergo changes while the story progresses. The dialogues are sometimes hilarious, making you laugh out loud or they are so hot you need to cool down before you can continue and sometimes they are simple so emotional that you need to get rid of that lump in your throat.

Quote:

“Nikki was using Ty for fame and fortune. Imogen wanted him to recognize that at the same time she didn’t want him to suffer hurt feelings. “I can see that,” he said slowly. “I know exactly why Nikki is involved with me. It’s for my money and her share of the racing spotlight. It doesn’t exactly bother me because I know it is what it is, and I am not in any danger of falling in love with her.” His knee bumped Imogen’s when he shifted in his chair. “But the truth is, I want to be some woman’s work boots, not her high heels.” “Work boots?” What was sexy about that? And did women have work boots? “Yeah. You know, the boots she pulls out when she wants to get down and dirty, hiking or gardening or boating or painting the kitchen. The ones she relies on and trusts and lives her life hard and good and on her terms in. Her favorites.”

With Hard and Fast Erin McCarthy lives up to the high expectations I had after reading Flat-Out-Sexy. Although Ty and Imogen are not my favorite characters in this series, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and loved this story. This series is getting better and better and is definitely one of my favorite contemporary romance series, one you will reread every once in a while!

PS Look at those covers of Flat-Out-Sexy and Hard and Fast!!!!! Wowwwww!!!!!!

4,5 stars

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Meredith Duran - Bound By Your Touch

“Beauty is as beauty does…

Silver-tongued Viscount Sanburne is London’s favorite scapegrace. Alas, Lydia Boyce has no interest in being charmed. When his latest escapade exposes a plot to ruin her family, she vows to handle it herself, as she has always done. Certainly she requires no help from a too-handsome dilettante whose main achievement is being scandalous. But Sanburne’s golden charisma masks a sharper mind and darker history than she realizes. He shocks Lydia by breaking past her prim façade to the woman beneath… and the hidden fire no man has ever recognized. But as she follows him into a world of intrigue, she will learn that the greatest danger lies within – in the shadowy, secret motives of his heart.”


Meredith Duran’s debut novel, The Duke of Shadows, blew me away and is considered one of the best historical reads of 2008. That story grabbed me by the throat and made quite an impact on me. The writing, the characters, the plot, I devoured every word on every page. The expectations for her next story were high and I knew the minute I got my hands on Bound by Your Touch that everything on my ridiculous huge to-be-read pile had to budge for this book. When I read the synopsis I had my doubts if this story could equal her debut novel, after all Miss Duran had set the bar so high with that one. So a bit skeptical, but open minded, I begun to read.

And of course my doubts were put to rest for Meredith Duran wrote yet another fantastic story. Lydia Boyce is considered a blue-stocking and a spinster. She does not possess the great beauty her two sisters have and has thrown herself into her father’s business, as his representative she sells Egyptian artifacts to support their family and her father’s research in Egypt. She adores her father and trusts him completely. Then at a meeting where she tries to raise funds for her father’s research the viscount of Sanburne steals her spotlight and from that moment on her life will never be the same again.

James, viscount Sanburne, has but one goal in life, to antagonize his father as much as possible. He always wants to outwit his father with ancient artifacts and now some blue-stocking is telling him his newest artifact he solely bought to outdo his father is a fake. James is a jaded man, seen it all, done it all. He is more drunk than sober and nothing can hold his interest. But Lydia piques his interest, keeps him entertained whether she likes it or not. When Lydia realizes that this fake artifact was shipped by her father she must investigate it, but she cannot do that without involving James. At first this is just another game for James to entertain himself, but that soon changes as he truly wants to help Lydia in more ways than one. In the end they both get more than they bargained for.

Miss Duran’s writing is classic, elegant and refined but at the same time she knows how to stir up all those raw emotions that will give you a lump in your throat. Her writing is sometimes lyrical and you could say that this has become a trademark of Miss Duran. It is also fluent and therefore reads like clockwork, there are not many writers who can describe a simple kiss or a love scene the way she does. The way she sketches the first time that James and Meredith make love left goose bumps all over me and I almost forgot to breathe. Those scenes are put to paper with such intensity, and so poetical you forget the world around you.

Bound By Your Touch starts with a prologue that immediately captures your attention. It provides you with an insight why Lydia is the way she is. Here she is laying her heart bare to the man she thinks she loves only to be jilted by him and then to her humiliation he marries her sister. It is a life-changing moment for Lydia. But after this sizzling start it really took me a couple of chapters to immerse in this story and I was afraid that the story could not hold my attention. But I was hooked the moment James and Lydia decide to join forces so they can solve the mystery that surrounds the fake artifact. Their encounters are sassy, hot and breathtaking.

Both Lydia and James got hurt in the past, betrayed. Lydia got ditched and society labeled her an old spinster, so she acts the part accordingly. But James makes her betray her role, her body reacts to him in ways she did not know existed and she realizes she feels more alive than ever but she also cannot shake off her role as an old spinster. It makes her a bit uptight and she struggles to break free from the role society pressed upon her. James also plays the devil’s advocate when it comes to her father’s business but Lydia simply refuses to have doubts, because her father and his business mean the world to her.

Sanburne has it all, the looks, the title and the money and property that come with it. He has this cold war going on with his father; he cannot forgive his father for what he has done. Therefore he plays the rakish son to embarrass and hurt his farther. It oppresses him that one day he has to follow in his father’s footsteps. Lydia is like a breath of fresh air to him and she constantly surprises him. Both Lydia as James grow more balanced during the story, both have issues to cope and deal with, they are like a mirror to one another. They help each other to understand themselves better.

At first you suspect that James is the one who has to come around. However, in the end it is not him but Lydia who has trouble with facing the facts in her naivety. Beneath his rakish façade James is a very strong, honorable and caring man. Lydia helps him to peel back all the layers he has created around himself to numb the pain and to face his demons so he can let go of the past. But she does not allow him to return the favor because she is too headstrong and won’t listen to reason. While James finally figures things out and try to set things right Lydia somehow cannot face the truth. And that annoyed me big time, for she is so smart and is willingly ignoring all the signs.

Their conversations are lively, so full of wit, sarcasm and banter. They are fast-paced and certainly lit up the first half of the story. The second half of the story is much more emotional as of course the relationship between James and Lydia changes into something more meaningful, their feelings grow for one another although they playfully try to hide these feelings. I love the way Meredith Duran portrays her characters, how she interlaces a character-driven love story perfectly with a strong suspense plot. The suspense plot is less impressive and more predictable than the one in DOS, but it still is believable and exciting. Of course there are many additional characters and they all play their part, some obvious and some not so obvious but they all blend into the story.

Bound By Your Touch is another winner. Her elegant and classic, but intense style of writing adds something special to this story. It allows the emotions to scream of the pages, the love scenes are moving and the plot is addictive. After a stunning debut Duran has written a worthy successor that met my expectations. Bound By Your Touch did not knock me off my feet the way The Duke of Shadows did but still Duran’s writing leaves you aching for more. Bound By Your Touch is steeped with historical details; it is emotional and sensual rich. Her characters are rounded and Duran has a gift to capture the romance with her writing so it comes to live.

Duran has become an auto buy author for me.

4 stars

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Winner of the Pamela Palmer giveaway...

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And the winner is....

Stacy


There were 16 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

Stacy
Kimmyl
Mieke
Leontine
Pearl
Kristie(J)
Throuthehaze
Maija P
Beleth
Carol L
Loretta Canton
Natascha
Book City Chick
Eva S
Mandi
Etirv

Timestamp: 2009-09-02 14:01:37 UTC

Stacy I will contact you for details via e-mail.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pamela Palmer - Desire Untamed & Giveaway

“They are called Feral Warriors – an elite band of immortals who can change shape at will. Sworn to rid the world of evil, consumed by sorcery and seduction, their wild natures are primed for release…”

I can’t even remember where I first discovered Pamela Palmer’s Feral Warrior series. I must have read about it somewhere when I was blog hopping, I read an excerpt and she totally had me hook, line and sinker. Since the first three books were going to be released back-to-back I knew I had a lot to look forward to if this series could grab my attention. I took Desire Untamed with me on holiday to the South of France and read it at the side of the swimming pool while enjoying a typical but incredible French view of a valley full of wine ranks. But this incredible view soon lost my interest the moment I opened Desire Untamed.

What can I say? This book really took me by surprise. Right from the start it is packed to the rafters with fast-paced action, a strong and adorable heroine, a hot feral warrior leader and his eight fellow feral warriors, all hot and sexy as well. Well, if those guys don’t grab your attention from page one, the story certainly will. This story is one addictive read! Pamela Palmer’s writing is fluent, it possesses a certain easiness that lures you easy and willingly into this new world she has created. Her writing even reminds me a bit of Kenyon’s style.

Already I can hear the cynic book-addict think. Another band of warriors, another world to save, read it all yet. But in my opinion Pamela Palmer has succeeded in creating a whole new world that stands out in the crowd of the many paranormal reads. The days that only Kenyon and Ward dominated the paranormal genre are behind us. Lots of others have tried to follow in their footsteps, but we had a tsunami of paranormal series and the reader got submerged. But still some writers have come up with incredible new paranormal series that stand out in the crowd. I think that Pamela Palmer has created a new world that is new and exciting, it will certainly appeal to many readers.

This story starts in the kitchen of Kara McAllister, a vibrant but average woman of 27. She takes care of her terminally ill mother. Then this Lyon guy walks in claiming that she is their chosen one and that she isn’t human. A series of events take place in one night, Kara’s mother dies and she is attacked by strange creatures, Lyon saves her. Kara has but one choice, to trust Lyon and go with him for he is the only one who can keep her save. She now has to embrace a new life and a complete different world full of rituals she is not prepared for.

The Therian race is similar to the human race except that they are immortals and they have enemies. Nature channels its energy through the chosen one, also called the Radiant, to the guardians, the Feral Warriors. This enables the warriors to hunt down the Daemon remnants, called the Draden, who snuff the life from Therians and humans alike. The warriors also protect the chosen one. Kara has to live in the same house as the nine warriors and it does not take her long to figure out that those nine men are shape shifters. Lyon has not told her the whole truth because Kara still thinks very much like a human and she has to come to grip with her new status in life but this of course does not happen without a fight.

Immediately there is this strong attraction between Lyon and Kara. As the chosen one she is mated to one of the feral warriors, the Pairing Ceremony points out Kara’s mate. Of course the ritual does not go as Kara had hoped and this is where all the trouble starts. Some old evil has come back to haunt the feral warriors and threatens the Therian race. Kara is right in the middle of things. Lyon wants to help her but it is not his place to do so therefore he has this inner battle going on, the beast in him roars to protect her with his life. The man in him has a duty to do as leader of the warriors. But passion and raw desire lead the heart of the man as well as the beast and soon they have to battle this ancient evil for their survival depends on it as well as their untamed desire for one another.

So Lyon is this huge, tall man with broad shoulders and thick, bulging biceps. He has tawny hair that hangs in waves to his shoulders and has amber-colored eyes. He is fierce, loyal, bound by honor and dutiful. It is easy to figure out what animal lives inside of him. Kara is an average looking, blond woman who always have felt a bit different than others. She is headstrong, feisty and courageous. The relationship between Kara and Lyon starts with a bang. There is no slow beginning; their attraction is instant, like it was meant to be. Their interactions are intense, hot and steamy. The raw, animal-like attraction radiates from the pages. Their sex is rough and untamed, but also full of passion, tenderness and emotions.

Because Kara believed she was human up to the moment she met Lyon, Lyon has to explain everything about his world to her. So as a reader I got introduced to Pamela Palmer’s new world step by step and was not overwhelmed with lots of information and details all at once. At first I had some trouble with the pace in the first half of the book, everything happened so fast and Kara had to deal with so many things at once that some of them were hard to believe, like the way Kara dealt with her mother’s death. I found that part very annoying. But once Kara arrives at the Feral Warriors house everything falls into place, the pace and story are more in balance then.

At the house I got introduced to all the warriors, they all have their own character and Pamela Palmer did an excellent job in interlacing the animal side of these warriors into their characters. They all have their own history, but they all are loyal to their duty. With a unique vibe they fill the pages with their interactions, snappy retorts and hilarious humour. It will be fun to read how they will fall for their mate, if they fall at all of course.

So the only problem I had with this story is that it really feels like an introduction part. The plot is intriguing and promises lots of action, turns and twists for the future. We get to know the world and the main characters, those sexy warriors. But while the focus is on the story I felt that Lyon and Kara got the short end of the stick. Their characters felt a bit flat, they were not as rounded as I wanted them to be.

But Pamela Palmer did lure me into her new world and her warriors enticed me to read on in this series for the plot is exciting and those warriors are hot from the first to the last page!

So far there are three books in this series:

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Giveaway

I thought it would be fun to give away one of the books in this series. So if you would like to meet those sexy warriors (Lyon, Tighe, Paenther, Jag, Kougar, Hawke, Wulfe, Vhyper and Foxx), all you have to do is leave a comment at this blogpost, if necessary your contact info and what part in this series you would like to receive. One lucky winner will receive a copy, it will be send to you via The Book Depository Store. Winner will be announced wednesday 2 september 2009. This contest is open for both European residents and non European residents.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sophie Renwick - Hot in Here

She wasn’t his dish – until someone turned up the heat.”

“Celebrity chef and infamous ladies’ man Bryce Ryder can’t believe the thoughts he’s having about his old friend Jenna McCabe. She’s always been the shy girl next door, but when having some bad publicity threatens everything he’s built, Jenna gets down to business – and shows a side of herself that is take-charge and totally irresistible.

Soon things are heating up in and around the kitchen – and all of Jenna’s secret fantasies about Bryce start coming true. But will she be the one to tame his heart, or is the sexy chef just indulging another one of his cravings?”


I first heard of Sophie Renwick through the grapevine. Book blog land was and still is buzzing about her new upcoming Annwyn series. After a few clicks of my mouse I ended up at her website and I knew this new series would be on top of my wish & buy list. Of course the hot pictures and profiles of the men helped too. Then I discovered that she just released a contemporary romance story called Hot in Here, a new series about the delicious Ryder brothers. The excerpt of Hot in Here reminded me a bit of Bella Andre’s “Red Hot Reunion” and I liked that one very much. Hot in Here immediately grabbed my attention and I did not look up from my copy till I had finished the story. What a fun, easy and heartwarming read!

Of course you can’t go wrong when the ingredients of this spicy story are a drop-dead gorgeous alpha male, a “normal” plain Jane, hot sex and great food. Sometimes it is just a relief to read an uncomplicated love story, no mysteries or murders to be solved, just two people falling in love and dealing with their emotions. Sophie Renwick keeps the storyline straightforward, simple but believable. As a reader you will feel the connection with Bryce and Jenna right away for they are both hardworking, normal people.

Jenna McCabe is a vibrant, young woman with a healthy appetite and a healthy size. She owns her own marketing business. She has been in love with Bryce Ryder for ten years and now has to try and save her friend’s reputation. But she is tired that he does not see her any other way than as his friend so she has changed her strategy with him. She now plays the role of a playgirl who just wants to have some fun, Bryce does take notice and soon she is in way over her head. Jenna is honest and loyal and playing this game is totally out of character for her and dangerous too for it involves her heart.

Bryce Ryder is rich, handsome and a famous sexy cook who has millions of housewives drooling over him. He is also emotional damaged; his wife married him for the money and took off with half of his assets. The only place he ever called home was the farmhouse of Jenna McCabe’s family. Because of a stupid remark he made his business and reputation is in trouble so he turns to Jenna for help. Jenna is Jenna but there is something different about her, the whole new confidence thing is getting to him. He finds her irresistible and realizes that she is the solution to his problem, but he falls hard and fast for her.

When Jenna finds out he used her to solve his problems she is hurt. Now Bryce has to come up with his best recipe ever to save their relationship and show her that he really means it and wants to build a future with her. Jenna’s and Bryce encounters are witty and funny. Jenna can’t believe it is finally happening and Bryce can’t believe he has never noticed her before like this. They both are dealing with unfamiliar feelings and Bryce actually has to work hard to conquer Jenna. Not something his big ego is used to, he is forced to take a long, good look at himself and realizes that he has been in love with Jenna for ten years. Jenna was always there he just realizes what others already knew for ten years: that they belong together.

Jenna’s family adds warmth to this story; they love each other unconditionally and help each other out. Bryce’s family is coldhearted; he and his brother Trey do not have warm feelings for their parents. Sophie Renwick is hinting throughout the story that some chemistry is going on between Trey and Jenna’s sister Sarah but of course they certainly do not see it that way. I guess we will just have to wait for Trey’s story to find out their history.

Of course as in every romance Bryce and Jenna have to overcome all kinds of roadblocks. Trust, emotional betrayal and honesty are hot items in their relationship. Also Jenna’s insecurity and other family stuff come floating up to the surface and cause trouble. Sophie Renwick has created characters that are easy to love, her writing is fluent and she knows how to visualize hot and steamy sex scenes with words. I love it that her characters are normal, down-to-earth people and grow into better and more whole persons towards the end of the story.

Hot in Here has whetted my appetite for more of Sophie Renwick’s writing; it is a fun, sexy and warm read!

Quote:

“He tried to remember that this was Jenna McCabe, high school friend. Jenna was not a sex kitten behind a red wrap blouse. Jenna was safe, and he liked temptation. Jenna was … Shit, he thought, watching her run her tongue along the sword in slow, erotic flicks. Jenna was hot as hell and he was getting singed.”

4 stars

Friday, June 19, 2009

Erin McCarthy - Flat-Out-Sexy

She met him at the racetrack…

…which was the last place Tamara Briggs wanted to find a man. Even a deeply intriguing, seductively sexy man like Elec Monroe. Tamara is a single mother now after losing her daredevil husband in an accident – and she’s not about to get involved with another driver and put her kids or herself, through that again. Besides, Elec is young enough to be her… younger brother.

Now things are moving a little too fast…

But he sure does get her heart racing. And after she is tricked into a blind date with him, Tamara gives in to her passion. Things screech to a halt, though, when he asks to meet her children. Whatever happened to wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am? Suddenly Tamara has to decide how big a risk she’s willing to take to experience the thrilling, terrifying power of true love…”


Last fall I was surfing the net for new releases and both the cover as well as the title Flat-Out Sexy immediately caught my eye, I devoured every pixel of that hot, delicious cover and after I read the synopsis my curiosity was piqued. Contemporary romance does not grace my shelves in abundance so I decided to give this one a try. As soon as I read the first sentence “I’VE met teenage girls with more testosterone than that man has.” I knew I was sold. I literally devoured every page in this fast-paced story and still wanted more when I closed the book.

Flat-Out-sexy has that feel-good vibe that will leave you all warm inside the same way movies like Bridget Jones, Notting Hill and Love Actually do that for you. And just like those movies that you can watch over and over again, this is a story you can read over and over again without getting bored because you crave that feel-good vibe. Erin McCarthy created a very strong and appealing cast of characters, combined it with a passionate romance and set this story against the backdrop of the dynamic world of stock car racing.

So what is it about this story that will make you fall in love with it? The main characters for starters, Tamara (Tammy) and Elec. They are very down-to-earth characters, especially Tammy, she is easy to relate too. She has insecurities that every woman who has children or is 30+ can identify with. Tammy is a widow and mother of two children. Her late husband Pete, a famous stock car driver, died in a wreck over two years ago. She is a strong, smart, independent woman in her early 30’s, but she is no beauty queen. Time and two pregnancies have left their mark on her. But after two difficult years of taking care of her children and work she is ready to start dating again.

But unaware she chooses a man that is safe (boring) and knows nothing of the racing business. And of course he doesn’t light her fire at all. Not even a spark. Leave it up to her best friend Suzanne to point this out not so subtle and that she deserves better. Then at a party Tammy literally bumps into Elec and a hot and sexy one-night-stand follows. Elec Monroe is the rookie. A promising newcomer in the fast world of stock car racing. He is charming, handsome and … six years younger than Tammy.

Elec has deliberately been dating the bimbo-type because he does not want to commit himself to a woman. He has his reasons for this, but he knows that Tammy is the one he has been searching for, now if only he can convince her that he is serious about their blossoming relationship and that he is in it for the long run. Tammy is using the age difference as a shield and also has issues with the fact that he is a driver. But he is patient with her, gentle, fantastic with her kids and they have great sex. The issues they have to overcome are easy to relate to, their conversations are recognizable and they are witty and sassy.

Erin McCarthy knows how to keep your nose deep in the book with a big smile on your face, for she created a strong circle of friends and family to complete this story. They do not steal the spotlight for McCarthy knows how to balance her story but they certainly enrich it, add to the feel-good vibe. The Monroe family and Tammy’s in-laws are all loving and caring but you will fall head over heels in love with the close circle of friends that surrounds Tammy and Elec. Erin McCarthy introduces us to future main characters Ryder and Ty, they are both drivers and are hunk-a-licious!! They enjoy the good life, are loyal to their friends and add a lot of humor to this story, I can’t wait to read their own stories. Then you also have Tammy’s friends Suzanne and Imogen. The three of them discuss literally everything and their conversations reminded me of Carrie and her friends of Sex and the City.

The plot is simple, woman meets man, they fall in love and have to overcome several obstacles. Erin McCarthy does a fine job at outlining the world of stock car racing including the groupies who follow the drivers everywhere, only in the racing business they are called pit lizards. And of course one of them causes great trouble for Elec and Tammy. Throughout the story I was really rooting for Elec and Tammy to have their HEA. Their love scenes are spine tingling and hot, sometimes they were also funny. What I also like is that Erin McCarthy lets Tammy’s children play their part in the story, but it does not affect the sensuality of the story at all. The characters are rounded and the end was exactly as I hoped for.

I enjoyed every minute reading Flat-Out-Sexy, this story has easily become one of my favorite stories. It is a funny, feel-good, emotional and sexy read. Erin McCarthy’s writing is fluent, fast-paced and easy to read. The characters are down-to-earth, fleshed-out and utterly enchanting. Erin McCarthy has written a fabulous contemporary romance that suited all my needs. Hard and Fast is part two in this series and I can’t wait to dive into that story.

All I can say is that Flat-Out-Sexy is really a Flat-Out-Sexy read!!

4,5 stars

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jean Johnson - The Mage - Sons of Destiny Series 8

“The Eight Son shall set them free:
Act in Hope and act in love
Draw down your powers from above
Set your Brothers to their call
When Mage has wed, you will be all.

Eight brothers, born in four sets of twins, two years apart to the day – they fulfill the Curse of Eight Prophecy. Though no longer trapped in exile, their growing family faces new problems. The worst of those troubles now falls upon the last of the Sons of Destiny…

Hope, Morganen's foretold bride, has finally arrived on the island. She hasn't been telling the full truth about herself, and the consequences will stretch further than even she anticipates. Just as Morgan gets used to Hope's Revelation, new enemies arrive on the Isle, seeking to steal away the brothers' chance at creating a new nation. During the attack, an old foe resurfaces and strikes amid the confusion, kidnapping the final bride-to-be.

Either Morg will rescue Hope and help his family complete the Prophecies of the Seer Draganna and the last Duchess of Nightfall, carving a new kingdom in the process...or their enemies will be free to slaughter them all....”


From the start it was clear that this series would only be eight parts long and with the release of the Mage the end of the Sons of Destiny series is finally known. Therefore with mixed emotions I picked up my copy of The Mage, I really wanted to know Morg’s story because he is one of my favorite characters in the series and of course how the series would end. At the same time I felt a bit sad because it was also the last time I would return to Jean Johnson’s world, Nightfall Isle and those sexy twins.

The story begins with a flashback, we get to know Hope better (Morg’s destined bride-to-be), who she really is and how she met Kelly. As some readers might already have guessed, Hope is not from Kelly’s world. This flashback covers a time period of five years, the years that Hope spent on Earth and explains how she got there.

Hope is actually the Duchess Haupanea of Nightfall who lived 200 years earlier on Nightfall and then magically disappeared. Now that she is back she has no intentions to claim her Duchy again, she wants to be a chocolatier. It is hilarious to read how she and Kelly devour their chocolate while the others don’t even know what chocolate is. Hope is levelheaded, practical and smart but also a bit insecure for once again she has to start her life all over again. First on Earth and now on Nightfall, for the Nightfall she once knew is gone. She also used to be a Seer for the God Nauvea, but it looks like her Goddess has forsaken her.

As the youngest brother, Morg has some insecurities of his own; he feels he is just plain looking in comparison with his brothers. He is the even-tempered one, the reasonable one, the diplomat of the family, except when it comes to Hope he cannot think straight and is jealous. He is in love with her but is astonished when he discovers who Hope really is and all of a sudden he feels like he doesn’t know the woman he loves at all. He feels hurt that she did not take him into her confidence about something so significant as who she really is. Hope has to make up for that, but he soon finds out that she still is the Hope who he fell in love with.

The Mage is by far the most romantic part of the series. For two-third of the story the courting between Morg and Hope takes center stage, there is lots of witty banter going on between the two of them that made me smile, the incident with the shorts is hilarious and Hope gives Morg a piece of her mind about it. The love scenes are provocative erotic and sensual, they involve a lot of food and liquid chocolate and they made my heart beat faster and faster. What woman wouldn’t want to trade places with Hope when Morg licks off the chocolate from her body! These scenes certainly put my imagination in overdrive.

Quote:

“Hope found herself quickly overwhelmed. Morganen didn’t just kiss her as a man who wanted a woman; he kissed her as if she could give a drowning man his breath, a starving man his food.”

“Well, am I as good as chocolate? Or am I even better?”


The one thing I noticed immediately is that there is a lot more interaction between the characters and less lengthy descriptions of certain things than in part 7 The Flame. The oh so familiar bickering between the brothers, their typical humor and rivalry is uplifting. All the characters we come to love and know pass in review, but the spotlight really is on Morg, Hope and Kelly. The witty banter between the characters, the humor and the love scenes make this story a fluent and fast-paced read.

After 200 pages the pace of the story changes and the overarching plotline takes over. It is in the last part of the book that all the plotlines come together and get unraveled. Basically the grand finale of the Sons of Destiny series is split in two. An old enemy resurfaces suddenly and kidnaps Hope, time is running out and now Kelly has no choice then to send Morg to his old homeland Katan to diplomatic solve the issue and to get Hope back safely. Only Katan does not co-operate and now we get to see how powerful Morg really is. At the same time Kelly has to start the resurrection of the Convocation of the Gods to get the approval of the Gods to become an incipient kingdom. There are too many schemes and attacks going on to delay it any longer.

But for me the end was not the big bang I was waiting for. It is not spectacular; all the plotlines come together and get unraveled neatly. The convocation of the Gods is funny and witty, it is quite a happening for all Nightfallers, it is Nightfall’s history in the making. But the end is too smooth; all the threats from the past are solved to simple. Yes, it is all obvious and it all makes sense but for my taste is it solved too easily. The other thing I struggled with was that in the end Morg became more and more interesting and that his new found position in life raises more questions for me than answers. The entire end is just not spectacular enough to satisfy all my cravings, it would have been nice to read an epilogue in which we return to Nightfall a couple of years later to see how everyone is doing.

Though perhaps I put my expectations for the end too high, The Mage is still a great and enjoyable read and Morg & Hope are fantastic characters. The story is rich and layered because of the storylines and previous parts in the series, the characters have grown more rounded with each part and I will miss all of them! Jean Johnson has created a world that is unique and entrancing. The Corvis twins have earned their permanent place on my bookshelves and I will always have a soft spot for Jean Johnson’s Sons of Destiny series.

4 stars

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kathryne Kennedy - Enchanting the Beast - Relics of Merlin 3

It is the year 1861, where magic rules Victorian England, where the amount of magic you possess is based on your rank, where commoners don’t own any magic, where shape-shifters are immune to magic and therefore see through every spell crafted by the peerage to maintain their superior social status. This makes them unloved by all but the Crown. For the Crown needs the shifters to protect the relics of Merlin, these relics each contain a magic so strong that it cannot be equaled by any other kind of magic. If a relic ends up in the wrong hands the outcome will be incalculable, therefore they must stay hidden and forgotten.

Sir Nicodemus (Nico) Wulfson, Baronet of Grimspell Castle, has come to London to seek help for his brother Roy who is being haunted by ghosts. Nico does not believe in ghosts but his brother’s health is at stake and so he is looking for a convincing charlatan who can help his brother. Phil seems to be exactly the person he has been looking for and he quickly secures her help. But the instant attraction he feels for her makes the wolf in him roar and now he is haunted too for he cannot think about anything else but making her his own, his mate.

Lady Philomena (Phil) Radcliff has always been a bit of a misfit among the peerage for she can see and talk to ghosts. She earns her living with séances and she cannot refuse Nico’s generous offer. So she packs her things and leaves for Grimspell Castle to hunt the ghosts who disturb the peace at the castle. She soon discovers that the ghosts are upset about something and that she is not only the hunter but also the prey of one very persistent, drop dead gorgeous wolf that wants to claim and mate her...

Every once in a while you get addicted to a series that truly stands out in the crowd between the many historical, paranormal and other romance series out there. Kathryne Kennedy’s Relics of Merlin series is such a series. It has this unique vibe; it is refreshing and totally addictive to read. Part 1, Enchanting the Lady, got me hooked on this series, Double Enchantment made the addiction worse and as expected, this part Enchanting the Beast, had me spellbound once again.

Phil is a beautiful lady, 40 years of age. She is independent, headstrong and bold. She is also considerate, courteous, a bit lonely and she always wanted to be a mother. The men in her life couldn’t handle her talent and always left and over the years her wish to be blessed with children of her own evaporated. Never in her life has she felt the attraction she now feels for Nico, but she struggles with the age difference. She is afraid that Nico’s infatuation with her is only temporary and she uses the age gap as a shield to protect herself from being hurt again. But by doing so she denies herself what she wants most, to be loved by someone.

As a baronet Nico is a shape-shifter. He is tall, handsome, has beautiful multicolored hair and has this devastating wolfish smile. He acts and moves like a predator, this makes him very intimidating but all of this comes natural to him for his were-form is a wolf. As the alpha male of his pack he emanates masculine, raw power but he is also gentle, tender and protective. His past still haunts him every night and the beast in him is fighting to get a hold on him. Phil soothes the wolf in him and makes him feel peaceful. Nico and Phil’s interactions are intense, sizzling and dynamic.

Quote:

“What are you?” He didn’t ask what she meant. “Surely you ‘ve guessed? My were-form is a wolf, Lady Philomena Radcliff. I eat young girls for dinner.” And he turned on his heel and left. Phil shuddered to think of what he did to older women.

Although Nico and Phil steal the spotlight, there really is a variety of energetic secondary characters that all add their own unique input. The story is really soaked with a multi-colored collection of shape-shifters. Many different were-forms pass in review, the villagers, Nico’s pack-members and Sarah who is Phil’s loyal servant, they all are shape-shifters. Then there is Tup, the ghost of a street kid, he is also Phil’s spiritual guide. He will steal your heart. Phil is convinced he needs her for a reason but it is really Phil who needs Tup but she does not realize that. Another character that caught my eye is Edwina, the wife of Roy. She is really an annoying and spoiled young woman.

I must admit that I expected a similar story based on the previous parts in the series and although I liked it right away it took me a bit by surprise. One big contrast is that this story takes place in the country and not the city. The plotline is also built up differently; the relic does not appear until ¾ of the story. While reading I was wondering when the relic would emerge, I realized later that it was there the whole time, only it is very well hidden in the storyline. A murder complicates things further for the main characters and spice up the story even more, the romance plot develops slowly but believable despite the age gap. All these plotlines are linked and brought together perfectly in the end. The end was spectacular, surprising and satisfying.

Kathryne Kennedy knows how to pen down a historical setting and blends this effortlessly with magic, myth, suspense and romance. By doing so she gives the whole story a fairy-like vibe and the many magical creatures like the stickmen who live in the enchanted forest and the hay-fairies add to this vibe. Kathryne Kennedy keeps you spellbound with her fluent writing, lively and witty dialogues and rounded characters.

Enchanting the Beast is bewitching, fast-paced, action-filled and moving. Once again, Kathryne Kennedy has delivered an outstanding part in the Relics of Merlin series. I truly enjoyed reading it and I am curious what she will dish out in future parts. It will be a long wait for the next part.

Enchanting the Beast is sure to enchant you for it is a phenomenal read!

4,5 stars

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Vanessa Kelly - Mastering the Marquess

After the death of her father and stepmother, Meredith Burnley took on the responsibility of looking after the estate and her half-sister Annabel. When her uncle shows up she knows he is up to no good. He wants her to marry his son, if she refuses Annabel will be put in an asylum. Since he is Annabel’s legal guardian he has every right to do so. Meredith has now but one choice, with the help of her servants she runs to their estranged grandparents’ home.

Annabel’s grandmother welcomes them with open arms; her family has influence, respectability and is part of the Ton. She also knows the solution for all their problems; Annabel must marry her nephew, Stephen, who is the Marques of Silverton. But love seems to have something different in mind, for Stephen is bewitched by the bold and independent Meredith and Meredith is not quite as indifferent towards him as she wants to be, for he is the most handsome man she has ever seen. He wants to claim her for himself but dutiful Meredith will never allow her feelings for him to blossom if only for Annabel’s sake and besides she is just a shop girl, not a member of the Ton.

Stephen is the ultimate hero for every romance reader who loves the Regency genre. He is tall, handsome, a little arrogant and commanding but he also takes care of his family and is true-hearted. As a young man he fell in love and was rejected and ever since he has made sure that his heart never really got involved in any of his amorous adventures. Now at the age of 35 his whole family is pressuring him to get married, but there is just no woman he can picture himself with for the rest of his life.

Meredith is bold, pride, opinionated and very independent. She has not had an easy life so far and is a real country girl; therefore moving to London is not so easy for her. She wants to see her half-sister settled into a safe, new life and has no expectations for her own life. She learns quickly that she doesn’t fit in with the Ton and since her father made his fortune in trade she is considered just an ordinary shop girl.

Against the background of the continuous scheming and cruel society of the Ton, both Stephen and Meredith struggle with the pressure of what is expected of them. Annabel’s introduction to the Ton needs to be flawless and while Annabel seems to have no trouble taking up her rightful place next to her grandmother, it is Meredith who has trouble with all the strict rules of the Ton and she makes mistakes. Stephen is determined to help both Annabel as Meredith but struggles with his duty and loyalty towards his family, his passion for Meredith and the pressure of society.

Throughout the story you see the changes mainly Meredith has to make. Meredith has to adjust to the strict rules of society, she has to give up some of her independence and accept that Stephen’s love for her is real. Although this story has a fast-paced historical suspense plot, it is really a character-driven story. The development in the relationship between Meredith and Stephen is the pivot on which this story really hinges.

Vanessa Kelly knows how to create a superb various cast of characters. Young Robert is a nephew of Stephen and sees him as a mentor. Their interactions are hilarious and Vanessa Kelly writes witty dialogues that feel really English because she uses phrases as “old chap” and “my dear”. The Earl of Trask is Stephen’s closest friend and he is very intriguing and certainly hero material, I would love to see him in a story of his own. The dialogues between Stephen and Meredith are heated and they leap off the pages. The real threat and danger comes from Meredith’s family and Vanessa Kelly does an excellent job in making you take an instant dislike to them.

Vanessa Kelly’s debut story Mastering the Marquess is a solid and classic historical read. The only thing that bothered me a little is that it is definitely not an innovative story and it could easily be overlooked among the many new releases in the regency genre. That would be regretful, for Vanessa Kelly immediately pulled me into her story with her fluent writing. She knows how to create a drool worthy hero that reminds me of Stephanie Laurens’ heroes and her dialogues are spicy and radiant.

Mastering the Marquess will most certainly enchant every romance reader out there!

3,5 stars

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jean Johnson - The Flame

“The Seventh Son shall he decree:
Burning bright and searing hot
You shall seek that which is not
Mastered by desire’s name
Water shall control the Flame

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 that it’s his turn to look for a bride, the seventh-born brother burns with curiosity and anticipation…

Koranen of Nightfall is tired of the Curse – in his case, a destructive flame that courses beneath his flesh. His brothers have wives and lovers, but all Koranen has are blistering reminders of a touch that burns… unless he can find a woman able to endure the literal heat of his passion. Then the Aquamancers arrive, at last affording Koranen the chance to find his Destined bride.

Ostracized for being too good at her job, Danau is resigned to her punishment: never knowing love. But fire and water always create steam, and things do get steamy as Danau and Koranen gradually realize they were meant for each other – even as Nightfall’s future becomes flooded with more trouble than either of them could have imagined.”


Of the eight brothers, Koranen undeniably is the hottest guy around on Nightfall Isle. But he did not really catch my eye until The Song where Jean Johnson described Koranen in his forge as a hot, lean, muscled guy wearing only a loin cloth. And now with The Flame his own destiny is finally known. Jean Johnson takes us back to Nightfall to follow the twins’ journey to find their true love and to create an incipient kingdom.

After two very humiliating experiences in the love department Koranen decided to stay away from anything that has to do with love so he cannot hurt anyone with his burning touch. For years he watched his brothers making out and enjoying themselves but now his own time has come to experience with love. He is kind, generous, understanding and a real gentleman but also lonely and frustrated, he cannot wait to passionately practice what he has learnt in theory.

Danau also had a humiliating experience with love, only she had the misfortune that her former boyfriend broadcasted her defect to the world. Now she only focuses on her work and she has given up all hope of ever experience love again. She avoids physical contact with anyone because she does not accidently want to frostbite anyone. Danau is very prickly and businesslike, a social outcast. She is very lonely for she does not have any friends and she hungers for what she cannot have. Love.

I have to say that I had real trouble with finishing this story, of all seven stories so far The Flame has the most characteristics of a true Fantasy story. For me it also felt different than the previous stories in this series. The first 100 pages were very fast-paced with lots of witty banter between the brothers and their destined brides, they are very well-matched. When the four aquamancers arrive it is very interesting and sometimes hilarious to follow Koranen’s courting adventures in discovering who his destined bride is. But as soon as he discovers that Danau is the one the focus of the story shifts to the fixing of the desalinator (a machine that provides the isle with fresh water).

There are now 3,000 people living on the isle and they all need fresh water. The plans to create an incipient kingdom are coming along nicely with lots of practical problems of course. And so we get a lengthy description of every detail that has something to do with the desalinator or the plans for Nightfall. This is where the story slows down, all the other characters fade into the background while we watch Koranen and Danau fall in love and their attempts to fix the desalinator. The problem I had from this point on with this story was that the romance plotline did not work for me. It was too sweet and I missed the raw passion and intensity that one would expect from two people who both had to do without love for so long. Furthermore Koranen was too much the gentleman and he gave in to Danau too many times. I did not feel the connection with them the way I did with other couples in previous parts of this series.

Another thing you would expect while reading the last but one part in this series is a serious further development in the ongoing plotline, but there really isn’t any serious development going on. Yes a few pinpricks here and there regarding the attempt to resurrect the Convocation of the Gods and a murder takes place, but these mini plotlines are not deepened enough and therefore do not add anything to the story and that is annoying. The romance part is not strong enough to counterbalance the lengthy descriptions of fixing the desalinator and the lack of serious developments in the ongoing plotline.

Fortunately we can count on matchmaker Morganen to put in a frequent appearance. His interactions with Danau regarding a dress are gawky and hilarious. Kelly is also a force to be reckoned with, but especially in the second half of the book I miss the banter between the other brothers. The three other aquamancers spice up the story, they all have their own disposition. Reuen is a real bitch, Chana is a real flirt and Amati is gentle. Koranen sure has his work cut out for him in his dealings with them!

So this story was definitely not what I expected and it did not knock me off my feet. For me it lacked certain intensity and the descriptions of things were too lengthy for my taste. I did not feel the emotional connection with the characters and I missed the action between the brothers. To me it feels like this part is too isolated from the rest of the series, it was an enjoyable read but nothing more. I do hope Jean Johnson is going to end this series with a phenomenal bang; the Corvis brothers certainly deserve that!

2,5 stars

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Meredith Duran - The Duke of Shadows

From exotic sandstone palaces...

Sick of tragedy, done with rebellion. Emmaline Martin vows to settle quietly into British Indian society. But when the pillars of privilege topple, her fiancé’s betrayal leaves Emma no choice. She must turn for help to the one man whom she should not trust, but cannot resist: Julian Sinclair, the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn.

To the marble balls of London...


In London, they toast Sinclair with champagne. In India, they call him a traitor. Cynical and impatient with both worlds, Julian has never imagined that the place he might belong is in the embrace of a woman with a reluctant laugh and haunted eyes. But in a time of terrible darkness, he and Emma will discover that love itself can be perilous – and that a single decision can alter one’s life forever.

Destiny follows wherever you run…

A lifetime of grief later, in a cold London spring, Emma and Julian must finally confront the truth, no matter how hard one tries to deny it, some pasts cannot be disowned… and some passions never die.


OK. Right from the prologue this story had my full and undivided attention. I immediately surrendered myself to this story and was thrown back in time to the exotic sceneries of British India in the late 1850’s. Before I was even halfway through this story I realized that I discovered a real treasure that would leave me deeply impressed and utterly in awe. You don’t get to read a perfect and powerful love story like this every day and therefore it will linger in your mind long after you have closed the book. I can honestly say that it has become one of my favorite novels that I will re-read from time to time.

Meredith Duran takes you back in time to a period when England ruled over India, but England’s grip is not so firm anymore and rebellion hangs in the air just waiting for the right moment to strike. Most members of the British Indian society are so arrogant to believe that nothing will happen to the mighty society so they ignore all the signs. Well, their pride will have a fall. It is against this setting that you will meet Emma and Julian.

Emma is a rich, educated, young heiress who has come to India to marry her fiancé Marcus. But she soon discovers that the man she fell in love with is gone for good, she cannot trust Marcus for he frequently strays and is not discreet about it either. He does not love her, he only wants her money. She likes to paint and to learn more about the Indian culture but that is not allowed, proper English ladies do not mingle with Indians. Then she meets Julian and their attraction is immediate, he warns her for the rebellion and guides her through the pits of society for she does not really fit in with the British Indian society. Then the rebellion starts and Marcus betrays and leaves her, in order to survive and escape the Indians’ wrath Emma has to trust Julian with her life.

Julian is the heir to the Duke of Auburn, he is rich, handsome and also part Indian. Like Emma he is an outsider too for the Indian society thinks of him as British and the English only accept him because he will be the Duke of Auburn one day. The rejections in his past by both worlds have made him cynical and kind of a loner. He has tried over and over again to warn the English authorities for the rebellion to avoid bloodshed but no one wants to listen. The instant Julian meets Emma you feel the connection between them; they start as friends who share a certain loneliness and a love for the Indian culture. He does not sugarcoat things for Emma who is still young and naïf, circumstances throw them together and during their long journey towards safety their love starts to blossom while the world around them falls apart.

But one single decision changes everything and in the middle of the rebellion they get separated and cannot find their way back to one another. Misunderstandings keep them apart until fate throws them together again in London a couple of years later. For both of them it seems like a lifetime separated the persons they are now from the ones they had been back in India. Time apparently does not heal all wounds and Emma and Julian have to come to terms with their past and their future.

Duran’s book grabbed me by the throat and while I breathlessly followed the many ups and downs of Julian and Emma’s emotional journey, my own emotions run parallel to theirs for the length of the story. Meredith Duran’s writing is fast-paced and smooth but most of all it is rich in details, emotions and intensity. It is also very expressive which makes it easy to visualize the story and by fits and starts it is even poetic, turning every page into a lyrical masterpiece!

The book is divided in two parts; the first part takes place in India and the second part in England. During this story we see Emma change from a young, innocent, radiant woman into this bitter woman who is not fit to hold a candle to her younger self. The mutiny, the betrayal and the horrors she had to endure still haunt her every day. Julian’s masculinity radiates from the pages; he always keeps his feelings and emotions in check except when it comes to Emma. There is a whole cast of secondary characters that surround Emma and Julian, they all have their own input to the story but Marcus is the most important one. He is like a bad penny that always turns up. His life is so interlaced with Emma’s that somehow she does not get rid of him and he is trouble with a capital T.

The combination of the plotlines, historical facts, the characters, the romance, the suspense and the pace of the story is superb and unique. It is all perfectly in balance. The romance permanently sizzles from the pages, the suspense is brilliantly intertwined and towards the end of the story all the plotlines come together to be unraveled in a breathtaking, exciting and satisfying grand finale. What more can you ask for!

The Duke of Shadows is a stunning debut novel that will absorb you in a heartbeat and leaves you breathless at the end. It is one of the best historical novels out there. Meredith Duran has set the bar very high to surpass herself with her next novel. This story has captured my heart and I will always cherish it for it truly is a perfect read!

5 stars