Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lisa Marie Wilkinson - Stolen Promise

“At the Lowara Gypsy Camp outside Windsor, England, in 1806, a young woman will lose her independence in a common marriage market transaction. Jade knows she is promised to Dimitri, a possessive abuser.

When her father sends her to the arms of another man, Jade finds only slight consolation . . . until she encounters her intended. Evan Dark is a half-Gypsy gentleman—nothing like Dimitri. Caught in a battle between tribes, Jade is a piece of property, the ideal runaway bride. In order to escape Dimitri’s clutches, she sails for Charleston with Evan as his indentured servant. But, engaged to another woman as part of a plantation merger in South Carolina, Evan’s affiliation with Jade can never be more than professional.

Evan must choose between fulfilling his obligation to marry his betrothed or accept his overpowering passion for Jade, a woman his matchmaking Gypsy grandfather deemed the perfect Romany wife. In nineteenth-century America, where insincere tradition meets old money and arranged matrimony in upper-crust society, Evan faces the most difficult decision of his life: Remain loyal to the fiancée he holds in commitment . . . or be true to the lover he holds in his heart.”

Stolen Promise is the second novel of Lisa Marie Wilkinson and from page one it demanded my full attention for this story takes off full steam ahead! Lisa Marie Wilkinson threw me back in time to the early 1800’s, with a great eye for historical detail she took me on a touching journey to the Romany culture with its many beliefs and customs and the every-day-plantation-life of the crème de la crème of Charleston’s society.

With Evan Dark Lisa Marie Wilkinson created a classic hero, he is strong, honourable, dutiful and reliable. As the heir to a large plantation he is used to give orders, but when he finds out his real father was a gypsy he sails to England to discover his roots and learn more about his Roma background. He meets his grandfather who insists he takes a Romany wife from another tribe so an alliance between the tribes can be made. As a man of honour, Evan friendly declines the offer and intends to leave for America where his fiancée and duties are waiting for him, and then he runs into Jade.

Jade is a beautiful, strong, young woman who is trapped in the traditions of the Romany culture. A Romany woman has no rights; she obeys and accepts her fate. Jade has known for a long time she is supposed to marry Dimitri, an abuser. But she refuses to accept this; she wants a better life for herself and her younger sister, away from everything that has to do with her own culture. So she runs away, gets into trouble and Evan saves her. He insists on taking her back to her camp.

On the way back to the camp Evan and Jade experience several charged, breathless moments of undeniable attraction. It also becomes clear that Jade has lived an isolated life in the gypsy camp; she knows little of life outside the camp. Trouble always seem to find her. But she is a real survivor, she is smart and spirited. The gypsies have their own traditions and law, and when they blackmail Evan to uphold the arranged marriage, he has no choice than to play along so he can escape later. After all, a gypsy marriage has no value outside the gypsy world. He is very angry when he finds out that it is Jade who he has to marry, he is convinced she has entrapped him. But he also cares and worries for Jade, he does not like to leave her with Dimitri, so when she makes him an offer to be his indentured servant if he takes her and her sister with him to America he cannot refuse.

And so their fate stays entangled, Evan takes Jade and her sister to South Carolina. Now both sisters have to learn to live in Evan’s world. Evan is a true gentleman, he is very protective of Jade and her sister. Their smouldering attraction keeps growing although both know it can never be more. But Evan starts to have doubts about his upcoming marriage, due to Jade he starts to see his fiancée in a different light. He does not voice his thoughts out loud because he knows his duties; he is expected to marry his fiancée Glorianna so that their two plantations can merge. But he cannot overlook certain things that Glorianna has done or deny his passion for Jade and the way she makes him feel either. He is torn between his duty and his heart.

Wilkinson’s writing is laid-back and smooth, the combination of the romance, suspense, characters and the pace of the story see to it that the story is perfectly in balance. I like it that Jade and Evan meet each other early on in the story so you see their attraction for one another slowly grow into something more meaningful. Both Jade and Evan’s characters are well-rounded; it is very clear what makes them tick. I also enjoyed learning more about the Romany culture, Lisa Marie Wilkinson vividly depicts the gypsy’s way of life and their traditions, and this provides you with a better insight into the gypsy world.

The supporting cast of characters is a mishmash of a charming kid brother, a loyal sister, a brother without a backbone and one malicious viper. All play their own part and add depth to the story. I especially liked his younger brother Patrick, although he is the youngest, he knows exactly how Evan feels and tries many times to push Evan on the right track. The dialogues are witty, full of humour and leap off the pages, especially the ones between Jade and Evan and Evan and his brother Patrick.


“What did you do?” “I placed a curse on him.” Jade replied. “You cursed him with the recipe for hedgehog soup?” ““He should have learn to speak Romanes”, Jade said with a shrug.”

With Stolen Promise Lisa Marie Wilkinson delivered a romantic but fast-paced story set against the backdrop of the gypsy world and the Southern hospitality of South Carolina. It is fluently written and researched with profound characters. This warm, dynamic and spirited story will keep you reading until the very last page!

4 stars

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fire in His Eyes - Stella & Audra Price

Once upon a time dragons and demons peacefully shared this earth with ignorant humans. But all of this changed when the dragons sided with the Ice King against the Fire King. The Ice King lost the battle and the Fire King vented his rage by ordering the extinction of all dragons, only a few dragons escaped his wrath and went into hiding.

Char is a fire dragon who lives in hiding with five other dragons. But lately he is fed up with being in hiding all the time, he wants to start living again. A beautiful woman has caught his eye and he wants to claim her as his own. There is just one problem, this beautiful woman happens to be a demon. How will she react when she finds out he is a dragon, will she betray him or love him? Not to mention that his actions will endanger the lives of his friends...

Get ready for a fire dragon with attitude!

Stella and Audra Price have created a wonderful new world full of demons and a few dragons. They have managed to bring this world to live with feisty characters. You will fall in love with the dragon family home the moment you meet them. Char is the macho guy/dragon who falls head over heals in love with Alcyone. She is a demon who wants nothing more than someone to love. The characterisation of the secondary characters is excellent and makes you eager for more. The dialogues are funny and witty.

Alcyone to Char and vice versa:

“The thought turns you on, dragon? Me and another woman?” “Honestly? The thought of you and me turns me on more.”

Although I really loved this new world that the ladies Price created I found in general that the story was lacking a little depth, especially the first part of the story. The background information of this new world was too succinct and the relationship between Char and Alcyone should have been explored in depth to make it more believable. But this novella is just 171 pages long and my only complaint is that this story has so much potential, that I wanted it to be a full length story.

Stella and Audra Price have created their own unique world and I will definitely want to read more about this charming dragon family, so I am looking forward to read the next fast paced story in this series!

3,5 stars

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hot Cover Alert!

Don't know about you gals, but I think this cover is hot! And I love it that the concept of the cover is the same as the first two in this series. 

Title: Hot Finish
Author(s): Erin McCarthy
ISBN: 0-425-23594-7 / 978-0-425-23594-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: Berkley
Releasedate: August 3, 2010

Hot Finish by Erin McCarthy is the third part in her Fast Track series, it is Ryder's and Suzanne's story. It will be released on August 3, 2010. I so heart this series that the wait for Hot Finish is pure torture!!! Ryder and Suzanne already share a history together and there were some hilarious scenes between them in the previous two parts, like the pie incident!

Here is the blurb:

Not all marriages last forever…

Suzanne Jefferson is broke, which is why she’s given up charity work for wedding planning. Fortunately, she has a high-profile client—and best of all, he’s paid in advance. There are just two teensy problems: The bride is a bona fide bridezilla, and Suzanne’s ex-husband is the best man. At least she thought he was her ex-husband…

But this one might...

Two years after their marriage fell apart, stock car race driver Ryder Jefferson still can’t stop thinking about Suzanne. Which is why he isn’t too upset that, due to a glitch, the two are still technically married. Now he’s imagining easing Suzanne’s woes by satisfying her needs in the bedroom. After all, that’s the one room they never argued in. Besides, with wedding bells ringing all around them, Ryder is wondering if—even though they’d quit the race a few laps too early—they can still come on strong with a big, romantic finish...

And let us not forget the previous two hot covers!

Let's start with the cover and the story that made me fall in love with stock car drivers! 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…”

And part two in this fast-paced series is Hard and Fast!

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…”

My reviews for the two previous parts in the Fast Track series:

And the good news is that more books are planned in the series!

To visit Erin McCarthy's website, click here.

But for now I am waiting impatiently for Hot Finish, august 3 cannot come soon enough for me.

Happy reading everyone!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Moira Rogers - Crossroads

Derek Gabriel comes from a family with physic gifts but had no powers himself until a rogue wolf stripped him of his humanity and changed him into a shapeshifter two years ago. He has no pure bloodlines, meaning he is no shifter by birth, so he is considered a second-class citizen within the shapeshifters community. Derek is not totally in control of his newfound abilities; it makes him insecure and prevents him to fully live his life. He has been in love with Nicole Peyton for a long time, long before his change, but she belongs to the upper class of the shapeshifter’s community and this stops him from asking her out on a date.

Nicole Peyton belongs to the crème de la crème of the werewolf society. Her father is the alpha (leader) of the Conclave and she is supposed to follow in his footsteps but she has no interest to be part of the political scheming of the Conclave and flees to New Orleans to build a different life for herself. She owns a bar and has surrounded herself with a group of loyal friends. She has fallen in love with Derek when she first set eyes on him but he seems to be immune for her charm. Just when she and Derek are finally about to make out and admit their feelings for one another, her twin sister Michelle shows up bringing a truckload of trouble with her. Nicole now has to go back and take her responsibility as daughter of the Conclave’s alpha to help her sister and find a way to keep Derek out of harm’s way.

After reading Crux I was totally in love with the new world and the characters that Moira Rogers created, so I could not wait to return to the loyal pack of friends in New Orleans to read on in this series. Luckily I did not have to wait very long to plunge back into this series because I received Crossroads to review. Crossroads continues where Crux ends and just like with Crux it did not take me more than half a page to be fully absorbed in this story.

One of the reasons Crossroads is an addictive read is Moira Rogers’ writing, it is smooth and fast-paced, full of thorny and witty dialogues between the characters. I especially liked Alec’s snappy remarks and the way the others yank his chain so I was happy to hear that Alec’s story is up next. Another reason why your eyes are glued to the pages is the characters. Most of them we met in Crux, I just love this bunch of close friends, I want to know more about them and see them all get their own HEA’s in their own story. This combined with the fast-paced action that starts almost immediately from page one makes it impossible to put the book down.

The strong attraction between Derek and Nicole was already simmering in Crux and now comes to a full blaze, as a couple I liked them even better than Jackson and Mackenzie. I was afraid that Derek’s character would be snowed under because Nicole is very much alpha, but Derek stands his ground excellent. Nicole might be alpha material but she is also very feminine, nice and she is loyal to the bone when it comes to her friends and family. Derek and Nicole are surrounded by their friends, all of them add something to this story, I loved meeting Jackson and Mackenzie again and learned a little more about Kat and Andrew. Interesting to see how things are going to develop for Andrew, but first I want to read Alec’s story, his story is the one I now am waiting for impatiently.

The suspense in this story comes from Nicole’s sister Michelle and her lover Aaron. They have done something to upset the Conclave. I am not going into details, don’t want to giveaway too much of the story. The archaic Conclave practically rules the shapeshifter’s society, they strongly hold on to their customs, rules and hierarchical structure. It is very difficult to accomplish change, because change means that members of the Conclave have to relinquish some of their power and most members only want to obtain more power and stop at nothing to achieve this.

Although I was captivated by the Conclave and Michelle’s problems I could not help but feel that this dominated the story more than it should. To me it somehow felt that Derek and Nicole’s romance did not appear clearly while in Crux Jackson and Mackenzie’s romance did. Also I missed Marcus in this part, my heart cried out for him and I want to know if he gets his HEA. But the end was very strong and emotional; Derek proves he is a worthy partner for Nicole but not without risking everything. Another character who emotionally risks everything is Luciano, he helps Michelle but that story is not finished, I suspect we will see more of them in the next part, I certainly hope so.

Crossroads has plenty of suspense and steamy interactions between Derek and Nicole. It is a fast-paced, emotional and action-packed read! Crossroads will keep you reading until the very last page!

4 stars