Thursday, November 24, 2011

Requested Review: Double Strokes by Kat Black

Just what is a good girl supposed to do, faced with the wicked temptation of not one bad boy, but two?

No matter how hard good girl, Gemma Trent, tries to run from the mistakes of her past, she can't seem to escape the memories of two hard-bodied, hot-blooded rowers, and the shameful things she let them do to her one crazy night five years ago in the college boathouse. Perhaps only by facing up to those mistakes can she prove that she’s no longer that sort of girl, and finally set herself free.

As determined as Gemma seems to be to smother the truth of her passions, Nathan Hunter and Ben Pearce—having already had her slip through their callused fingertips once—are equally committed to fanning the embers and rekindling the fire they suspect still smoulders deep inside. Now that they have her within reach again, all they have to do is convince Gemma to put her own self-imposed prejudices aside, and remind her just how good it feels to share.

Kat Black - Double Strokes

Ebook: 32 pages
Erotic Contemporary Romance (ménage M/F/M)
Release date: 12 September 2011
Total-E-Bound Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-85715-699-0

Main characters: Nathan Hunter, Ben Pearce and Gema Trent

First line of book:“In one of the bustling spectators' enclosures set up along the Thames riverbank for the annual Henley Royal Regetta, Nathan Hunter milled with a group of  old university rowing club peers, reunited for final days of the world-famous competition." 

Five years ago Nathan Hunter and Ben Pearce were students and rowers for their university. Gemma Trent had made up a perfect third of their crew, she had called the strokes and kept Nate and Ben on course. They were good friends but after the crew of another rowing team walked in on their threesome experiment everything had changed. Gossip had spread like wildfire, Ben and Nate were considered heroes but Gemma was spurned and had to flee to Scotland to finish her degree. The three of them never felt that intense passion again with anyone else and now for the first time in years all three of them are together at the annual Henley Royal Regetta. Can Gemma be persuaded to give their threesome another try to rekindle their fire and finish what they started?

Before reading this story I had my doubts about Double Strokes because it is such a short story. I wondered if it was possible to create a believable erotic story with only 32 pages, but Kat Black did just that with Double Strokes. Kat Black’s brisk and fluent writing made sure I fell for this story hook, line and sinker.

I loved the dynamics between Gemma, Nate and Ben. Gemma came to the Regetta to prove she has moved on, that she has grown out of these feelings for Ben and Nate. She is beautiful, likeable and sensitive. Nate and Ben are like day and night, both are tall and athletic but the comparison ends there. Ben is blond, bright and fair. He is charming and easy with a playful sensuality. Nate is the complete opposite; he is dark, intense with a fiery passion and he is the brooding (caveman) type. Together they make sure Gemma experiences her sexual awakening and they give her what she has been missing in her life. The sex is explicit, smoking hot and intense and I loved how it also mirrors the personalities of Gemma, Nate and Ben.

Kat Black’s characters leap off the pages, especially her two men. I love the raw, sexual potency of the pair. Double Strokes worked for me because Gemma, Nate and Ben already have a common past. Before the grand finale Kat Black skillfully blends their past and the present together so I understood Gemma’s insecurity, her hesitation and cravings very well, but also Ben and Nate’s perspective is crystal clear.

Double Strokes is a fabulous, sensual ménage story, I could have read on for hours but I ran out of pages way too fast!

4 stars

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Requested Review: Primal Heat by Donna Grant

“Being an American in Britain isn’t easy. For Krista, it’s downright hard especially when she’s plagued by erotic dreams that increase as Halloween approaches. So when she’s given a dare by her co-workers to pluck a rose from the most haunted house in Cardiff, she agrees never thinking it would be more than a scare tactic.

As a Tracker, all Orrin wants to do is capture the Were’s before they feed off the people of Cardiff, but when he lands on Earth and discovers the woman he’s been sharing dreams with is there, he can’t help but find her. All he plans to do was talk, but the lust that flares between them leaves no room for talking.

But the Were’s have come for more than food. They’ve come for Krista, to claim her as the mate to their leader. To resist their seduction is futile. Unless a Tracker is involved.”

Donna Grant - Primal Heat
Ebook: 52 pages
Paranormal Romance

Re-issued novella

ISBN 13: 978-1906811211
Release Date: Oct 2011

Main characters: Krista Evans & Orrin Black

First line of book:
"“How could I be so stupid?” Krista Evans asked herself for the hundredth time since exiting."

My review:
Krista Evans just moved from the States to Cardiff, Great Britain. She has left her old life and foster family behind to move to an unknown city. She has no logical explanation for her move besides the overwhelming need to be in Cardiff and now she is having strange, erotic dreams of a man. She is young, practical and independent.

Orrin Black is a Tracker for his people, the Acanti. He comes from a different planet and roams across the universe in his quest to track and kill the enemy of the Acanti’s, the Weres, to protect the innocent. He is called to Earth by the woman of his dreams, his mate. It can be no coincidence that the Weres are also in Cardiff; they are after the woman of his dreams as well. He cannot let that happen. Orrin is an adventurer, loyal, protective and a real warrior.

Primal Heat is up and running from the start, Donna Grant captivated me with likeable characters but even more with her creation of a whole new world besides Earth and a different set of rules that comes with that world. Unfortunately there was not much room to explore this world any further since Primal Heat is only 52 pages long and focuses on Krista’s and Orrin’s adventure. For the story it was not necessary to provide more information but Donna Grant does such a good job in creating this new world that I soaked up every word and it whetted my appetite for more.

Primal Heat is fluent and fast-paced; it is a mix of paranormal and sci-fi with a good dose of hot smex. It is a quick but addictive read, as a reader you want to know more about the link between Orrin and Krista. Their attraction is strong and their love scenes are steamy and hot. Primal Heat has the perfect balance of suspense and romance, it played out perfectly and left me completely satisfied as a reader, it would be nice to read more Acanti stories in the future. Primal Heat is another, thrilling page-turner by Donna Grant and a real treat for her fans and every other romance reader out there.

Favorite quotes:

"“I take it she left before you got back.”
Orrin gave a jerk of his head. “These damn modern women. Had this been a hundred years earlier, she would have listened to me.”
“You aren’t making things better.”"

“You don’t understand what you do to me, Krista, but with you, I’m the man I’ve always wanted to be. With you, I’m the man I always should have been.”

4 stars

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Requested review: Gloria Schumann - Called Home

“Emma Benson's view of life was crafted as a child by the death of her brother, the abandonment by her father and later, the man she trusted she would marry. A teacher by training, she forgoes her chosen path to save the Wisconsin farm she calls home from financial ruin.

A tornado threatens damage, but David Schlosser—back in town after years in New York writing best-selling novels—could ruin her neatly tended life. He's looking for the charms of the small town he once rejected and finds more than he bargained for. He risks everything to get what he wants.

The storms of life throw Emma and David together and into the world of a criminal determined to ruin their plans by any means necessary. Robbery and near death connect Emma and David to their nemesis and during the throes of securing life and limb they make every effort to resist falling for one another.”

Gloria Schumann - Called Home

Ebook: 333 pages
Contemporary Romance

Release date: May 8, 2010

Savant Books and Publications
ISBN: 0-9841175-7-1
ISBN: 978-0-9841175-7-4

Main characters: Emma Benson & David Schlosser

First line of book:It felt like home and yet it didn’t.”

Until now Emma Benson’s life has not been easy, all the important men in her life left her. Her relationship with the man she loved ended, her brother died when she was young and she saw how her father walked away from her and her mother. She left Wisconsin to be a teacher but came home to help her mother save the farm she grew up on from financial ruin. She does not need another man in her life telling her what to do, these days she only relies on herself to avoid another disappointment. She did not bank on David Schlosser to be so persistent to help her and the fact that he is so attractive to her does not help her case either.

David Schlosser could not wait to get away from the small town he grew up in, determined to make something of himself he went to New York to become a successful writer. Now, years later, he is a successful and famous writer but he is tired of the fast life in the big city. He craves for the charms of the friendly, little town he grew up in, he goes back to buy himself a place he can call home. He ends up seeking shelter from a tornado at the Benson farm where he meets Emma. He cannot get her out of his mind but she has made it clear she wants nothing from him, but David is not one to back down from a challenge. So now he is not only hunting for a place to call home, he is also determined to make Emma his.

Emma is a headstrong, fierce, outspoken, prickly and too-independent-for-her-own-good kind of woman. She has learnt the hard way that she can only rely on herself so she will never ask for any help when necessary. She is distant and does not really participate in life to avoid emotional pain.
David is a well-balanced person. He is kind, honest and successful. He is at a point in his life that he knows exactly what he wants and goes for it. He is very patient with Emma and seems to know exactly what she needs; it was very easy to connect with David because he is so laid-back.
And then there is Nancy, Emma’s mother. Nancy is a lovely, caring and hardworking lady who lost her son and had to raise Emma on her own while running a farm. Although she had a tough life she is never bitter and always tries to make the best of things. She is getting older and needs help, but she is shrewd enough to know that David will be good for Emma so she pushes Emma and encourages David.

Called Home has a suspense part and a romance part, and though the focus of Called Home is on the romantic development between Emma and David, the romance goes hand in hand with the suspense. The changes in Emma’s and David’s relationship are slow and subtle, but would imo not have been possible without the suspense part. Some thug attacked Emma in the bookstore where she works in the evenings, after this happens the attacker continues to threaten her. This leaves Emma vulnerable and she allows David to help her and protect her, it opens the door for them to become closer.

Emma and David are at very different points in their lives. While David is financially secure for life and has the career as a best-selling thriller author he always wanted, he came home voluntarily to create a home for himself. Emma came home because she was needed at the farm, to help her mother. She has given up her passion to teach and does not live her life the way she had hoped or planned. She struggles to save the farm but also with herself.

Without the attack Emma would have kept the wall around her heart firmly in place, now David can slip through the cracks of that wall to get through to her, to convince her that he won’t leave her. There are no steamy love scenes in Called Home, but the story does not need it and I did not miss them at all. There is the undeniable, smoldering chemistry between David and Emma and there are plenty of stolen kisses to back up their romance.

There are not many secondary characters besides Nancy, but there are a lot of town folks who pass in review. I love how they all add to the charms of a rural, little town where everyone knows each other’s business and everyone looks out for another. Gloria Schumann has a keen eye for details and somehow she manages to bring to life a whole, small town with its shops and inhabitants.

The story is even-paced yet it pulled me in instantly. As a reader I got dropped in the kitchen of the Benson farm at page 1 and at once I connected with Emma, Nancy and David while they tried to survive a tornado. And though I had a pretty good idea how this story would develop it did not stop me from reading and it had a few surprises here and there. I loved how this story is about “normal” people and their struggles with life, I loved following Emma and David on their journey towards happiness, not once was it boring and I believed in them as a couple.

This is the first story of Gloria Schumann that I read, but it won’t be the last. I love her voice, the fluent writing and her keen eye for details and characters. All the characters in this story are “real” and belong to that little town, their actions fitted in the story perfectly. The romance is beautiful and the heart-wrenching. Called Home is a must-read for readers who love a classic romance with a touch of suspense!

4 stars

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Requested Review: Finding Felicity by Monica Marlowe

Finding Felicity - Monica Marlowe

Ebook: 252 pages
Contemporary Romance

Release date: 2 August 2011

Eternal Press
Digital ISBN: 978-1-61572-447-5
Print ISBN: 978-1-61572-448-2

Main characters: Madeline O' Connor & Anthony Lamberti


“Madeline O’Connor was happy. Or was she? When she learns that her estranged sister is gravely ill, she leaves behind her life in Manhattan to be at her sister’s side in Italy. There, she discovers an ancient Benedictine monastery that accommodates travelers, and she decides to stay there, among the monks. Everything in her life turns upside down when she falls for Brother Anthony Lamberti, a soft-spoken Italian completely different from the men she knows in New York. Together Madeline and Anthony find love for the first time, and learn that life and love always find a way. Loving Anthony creates a new life for Madeline. A new life she would never have imagined and yet is perfect for her in every way.”

My review:

When Monica Marlowe asked if I wanted to review her story I said yes because I liked the Italian vibe that surrounds it. But it took me a while to get into the story because of the switching between the past and the present. All these different characters were introduced and it was obvious they were all connected somehow, but as a reader I did not know how. So that was a bit confusing for me at first but at the same time it kept me on the edge of my seat because after a few chapters I understood the connections between the characters but I had no clue in what direction Monica Marlowe would take me with this story.

I was not prepared for the emotional roller coaster ride. I really had a love – hate relationship with Finding Felicity. When I finished it I had this lump in my throat for quite a while and I actually cried. Now, that is not like me. There were parts that I loved but also parts that I hated and I totally did not grasp the actions of the heroine. The story grabbed me by the throat and urged me to think about certain aspects of life. To me this is not the average light and fluffy romance, it does not have the usual happily ever after and I truly had mixed emotions about it. It left me pondering about certain views of life.

Businesswoman Madeline O’Connor is very much in control of her life. She lives for her business, her staff is her family and she is a great boss and a kind person but has no personal life at all. At the request of her nephew Jonathon she goes to Italy to visit his mum, her estranged sister Carrie who is seriously ill, a sister she has not seen in seven years, a sister she cannot forgive for falling in love with her husband. A sister who got pregnant by her husband. And here she meets Brother Anthony, a friend of her sister Carrie and her nephew Jonathan, she immediately feels this deep connection with him, he feeds her soul, shows her to look at things from a different point of view and with that forces her to scrutinize her own life. She starts to question everything in her own life that has happened. Although she knows it can never be she falls in love with Anthony.

Anthony has been abandoned by his mother and was left at the doorstep of the monastery. Father Marco found him and raised him among the monks, they have set him on the path to a monastic life, but lately he has become restless, questioning himself, his faith and wonders if it is not time to leave the monastery. He has great insights, has no need to be anything else but himself. But his feelings for Madeline confuse him, it tears him up because he cannot be a man for Madeline and still serve God as a monk, he does not know any other life than the sheltered monastic one he has lived so far.

For me it feels like the whole story is based on making choices, choices that altered the lives of many loved ones involved. The secondary storyline of Father Marco shows that wonderfully. As his story slowly unfolds it is clear that he would not be a servant of God today if he would have made a different choice in the past, one that involved a woman he loved very much. Also the being at the right place but at the wrong time is a leading factor in this story, it left me upset and constantly pondering the “but what if?” question. But as many people in real life the characters of this story are trapped in their own lives, choosing what is safe and familiar above the unknown.

Finding Felicity is a fascinating entangled web of tragic relationships and choices made. While I easily understand the choices of the secondary characters (Father Marco and Carrie) I could not grasp Madeline’s decisions. The choices she made in Italy did not match the in-control-business-woman from New York, which I found strange and annoying. Who would leave a sister who is on her deathbed to be with a man, and then a little later ends up in the bed of yet another man. I could not wrap my head around that or the fact that she so easily switched men and claims to be in love.

As for Anthony, he made some strange choices too. His struggle with his feelings for Madeline and his love for God is heart rending, so are his decisions. But at least I understood them and they were consistent with his character, which does not mean I agreed with every decision he made. But at the end of the story he writes a letter to one of the characters explaining his actions, this left me completely satisfied yet at the same time it tore me to pieces.

But still I loved Anthony the most in this story, he made Madeline a better person just by showing her that there are other points of view about certain things, he teaches her about forgiveness and he forces her to think about what she really wants from life and if she is on the right path. When Madeline goes back to New York she expects to just pick up her life again, but she can't because she has changed. She looks more closely and different at things and she wants different things from life. Madeline’s love for Anthony has made him a better person as well, but in the end meeting Madeline is not so life-altering as vice versa.

I did not like the way this story unfolded, I was so hoping for another twist in this story but it did not happen and once again my heart broke into a thousand pieces at the end. And yet again the question “What if” crossed my mind. At the same time I was a bit overwhelmed by everything the characters had to face. I mean things as death, cancer, faith, betrayal, adultery, infertility, a plane crash, war, religion and homosexuality; for me it was all a bit too much.

And although I wanted a different ending for Finding Felicity because I felt a deep connection to most of the characters and wanted them all to be happy (in a way they are happy just not the way I wanted it), I admire the direction Monica Marlow took with her story; it took guts to write it the way she did. I love how all the characters and the choices they made are connected with one another. There is a happily ever after just not the one I hoped for as a romance reader “pur sang”. Finding Felicity is beautifully written and touched me deeply, it took me on an emotional journey and lingered in my mind long after I finish it.

4 stars

Friday, September 16, 2011

Requested Review - Dangerous Desire by Diane Escalera

Dangerous Desire - Diane Escalera
Contemporary Hot Romance

Release date: 18 July 2011

Lyrical Press

Digital ISBN: 9781616502959
Print Edition - Coming October 2011
ISBN: 9781616503079

Main characters: Cruz Santino & Sienna Diaz


Sometimes you have to lose one thing to find another.

Sienna Diaz is desperate to find her missing beagle, no matter what it costs. She hires Cruz Santino, the best—and hottest—in the business. He’s an ex cop, dangerous on many levels, which comes in handy when all evidence indicates her beloved pet was snatched to use in a dogfighting ring.

Cruz will do whatever it takes to find Sienna’s lost pet, but he also wants results from the smokin’ hot attraction between them—and he isn’t above breaking his own hands-off-clients rule to get there. However, until he brings her beloved beagle home safely, he won’t have Sienna's undivided attention...and affection.

My review:

First line of story:

"What a crappy day. If one more thing went wrong, Sienna Diaz would scream so loud she'd pop an artery."

When Sienna Diaz comes home from work she discovers her house has been trashed and her beloved dog, Zola, is missing. Desperate as she is, she hires Cruz Santino, an ex-cop who now tracks down missing pets for a living. He quickly discovers that her dog was stolen for a purpose, to be bait in the dog fighting industry. Sienna will do whatever it takes to get her pet back but cannot fail to notice what a hot guy Cruz is and the way he stares at her, their attraction is mutual. Three years ago she got divorced and since then her love life has been nonexistent. Perhaps it is time to revive it and Cruz might be the right man for the job.

Cruz Santino cannot take his eyes off the hot woman who has hired him to find her missing Beagle. The attraction between them is explosive and he is determined to explore it further, but finding her pet has to be his top priority. As the illegal dog fighting industry attracts lots of thugs and criminals Cruz decides to keep Sienna at his side so she is safe. While they search for Zola they also explore their explosive chemistry together and Cruz discovers that Sienna might be the one for him. Now he only has to convince her that he is the one for her.

I really liked the blurb of this story but I wasn't so sure about the hawtness of this story. A pet detective... first thing I thought of was Ace Ventura, mmmm Jim Carrey, no offense, but he is not very hot in my book, but Ace Ventura is no match for Cruz Santino. The guy is hot with a capital H! In no time the two main characters, Sienna and Cruz, whisked me away to sunny Florida and held me captive with their romance till the very last page. What a pleasant, hawt surprise this story turned out to be. I loved it!

Sienna Diaz is a character many readers will easily connect with. She is in her late 30's, divorced with a full-grown daughter away at college. The last three years of her life have been all about creating a new life for herself. So far she has played it safe, thankful for finally having some inner peace. She somewhat lost herself in her marriage and is now finding her true self again. She is fiercely independent, sassy, witty, and direct. But she is also a great mom, compassionate and caring; she is in control of her life. So when Cruz enters her life and she feels this strong attraction to him she knows she has to act on it.

Cruz Santino is a very likeable character; it is very easy to fall in love with him. He used to be a cop but lost his motivation to continue and quit to start his own company Top Dawg. He runs his office together with his younger brother. Their brotherly banter cracked me up. Cruz has many different layers; he is very much an alpha male, very protective of the ones he loves. He radiates power, control, raw appeal and has a steely exterior. All of this conceals a much gentler side that is only reserved for certain situations. He is easy to get along with and his relationship with Roman, his dog, is touching and mirrors what kind of guy Cruz really is. Ambitious, always in control, responsible and loyal to the bone. Yet also very caring, honorable and laidback. He knows what is important in life, but building his business took up all his time leaving no room for love.


"Her eyes slowly drank him in. Good God. He had the sexiest bod she'd ever seen. Taut and tan, his muscles were chiseled in a way that gave his dimensions beautiful symmetry. Tori would 've been impressed. She'd always preached about the importance of muscle balance. Some men took it to the extreme. Not Cruz. He sported a tapered waist with shredded abs, V-shaped torso, and arms that made her drool ---."

Basically Dangerous Desire has two plotlines, the romance and the suspense part. The whole story takes place in approximately 4 days and it is only 194 pages long. Yet Diana Escalera manages to create a believable story, it is fast-paced and off and running from page one but it did not feel rushed to me at all. I was afraid that the missing pet angle would be laughable and too simple to create a thrilling suspense part but it had dept and was thrilling right up to the end because the story takes you to the dark, twisted world of the dog fighting industry, a pet’s owner worse nightmare. Both the romance and the suspense part are in balance, I love how the secondary characters like Cole, Dan and Tori easily blend into both parts of the story, giving the story an extra dimension.

From the moment Cruz and Sienna meet you feel the mutual attraction rolling of the page, you could say it was love at first sight for them, but it really was lust at first sight. Love came a little later, which is why I totally believed in them. I love the fact that Sienna is five years older than Cruz and that this is not an issue between them at all. Miss Escalera fabulously builds up and releases the tension between Cruz and Sienna with hot, erotic scenes and I love how they grew closer with every bit they got to know about each other. The sex scenes are sexy and hot and it clear that they belong together.

This story was a fabulous reading experience for me. Miss Escalera’s voice is thrilling and full of passion. I am looking forward to read more of her work. Fast paced and fluent, witty and moving, Dangerous Desire is sizzling hot from start to finish.

4,5 stars

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ashley March - Seducing The Duchess

Ashley March - Seducing the Duchess
The Bridal Pleasures Series Part 1
Paperback: 302 pages
Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: October 5, 2010

Publisher: Signet Eclipse
ISBN: 978-0-451-23236-6

Main characters: Philip Burgess & Charlotte


It was just another scandalous night…

Gambling. Carousing. Flirting. Charlotte, Duchess of Rutherford, will do anything to create a scandal large enough to force her husband to finally petition for a divorce. Once madly in love with Philip, she is now determined to escape from their less than civil marriage and the reminders of his betrayal.

Until he stole her away…

Philip Burgess, Duke of Rutherford, is not a man to tolerate regrets. He wed Charlotte for revenge, not for love or convenience, knowing she would come to hate him. But he never expected he would one day find himself craving her attention or desiring her company….

And gave her something more…

Philip is no longer the cold, deceitful man she married years ago. And when he promises Charlotte a divorce if she will help him become a better husband for another woman, she wonders if she truly wants to lose him—and if Philip may still possess her heart after all…

My review:

Most lingering quote:

“It was a clever wager. And a very foolish one, to tempt her indifference and her discipline.” “I seem to remember we were supposed to swim together,” Philip called from the edge of the pond. “No, I merely said it would be a swim in the nude.” --- “I never said I would join you.” He gave her a rueful grin over his shoulder, then planted his foot in the water. “”

Seducing The Duchess in brief:

The ninth Duke of Rutherford, Philip Burgess, married Charlotte to take revenge on Charlotte’s brother who eloped with his fiancée. He never loved her and told her that the morning after their marriage, they went their separate ways. Three years later Charlotte wants to cut all her ties with Philip to get away from his betrayal and her own hurt, she wants a divorce. Knowing how he hates scandal she creates one after another by playing the harlot, still Philip will not give her one. But Philip falls in love with her and plots to win her heart again. He promises to give Charlotte her divorce if she teaches him to become a better husband for someone else.

What got me hooked (or not):

To be honest, I had a hard time focusing on this story; it did not grab me at all. The constant bickering between Philip and Charlotte was tiresome and repeatedly. It got a bit better for me after page 200 but still I felt no connection at all with Charlotte. I read it without feeling any emotions, without any affection for the key-characters.

The harlot: Charlotte, Duchess of Rutherford:

Charlotte was only 19 when she fell in love and got betrayed by Philip. Now she is 22 and she plays the harlot perfectly to force Philip to divorce her. She is quite contradictive in her behavior, on the one hand she is a temptress, detests Philip, does everything that is considered improper and is confident and in control of herself, Charlotte created the temptress to shield herself against the hurt of Philip’s betrayal and rejection. But on the other hand she is not in control at all, she is still the innocent girl of 19, she is insecure and ruled by her fear to get hurt again by Philip, yet she knows she is still in love with him but does not trust him at all. She is constantly at odds with herself.

The haughty duke: Philip Burgess, ninth Duke of Rutherford:

Philip is the classic example of an arrogant duke and as a reader we cannot really blame him for it either. From the cradle he was raised by his grandfather to be superior to others, to be a duke and behave as one is deeply ingrained in him. It is not in him to behave in a looser manner but he wants to change because he doesn’t want to become the spitting image of his grandfather, a man he hates. He falls in love with Charlotte and wants to gain her trust because he had to admit to himself that the only time he feels truly alive is when he is with Charlotte. It is interesting to see how he deals with his inner conflict and fights against himself.

The Romance:

This romance felt like the movie The War Of The Roses, I did not feel the love between them because of the constant sneers and bickering. I felt some compassion for Philip, he really tried hard to overcome his past and to change, and for me he was much more in balance than Charlotte. Charlotte just tired me, I understood her but felt no compassion for her. I only felt the romance and the deeper connection between them in the last few chapters when they finally both admit things to themselves and grow up.


Another thing that makes it hard to keep focused on the story is that nothing really happens. The only storyline is the relationship between Charlotte and Philip. There are no interesting side-characters, the whole story pivots on Charlotte and Philip and their character development, which is a bit tedious and repeating. And the end was rather abrupt, it would  have been nice to read an epilogue.

Cover Love:

For me it is important that a cover is consistent with the story, it is the cherry on the cake. It has to have the right vibe and has to be yummy. A cover together with the blurb is what catches the eye of a reader. The cover of Seducing the Duchess matches the story perfectly and I love the red in it, it is a typical historical romance cover.


I cannot say this story is a real page-turner, not for me. Too much of the same bickering and not enough progress in the storyline, it was slightly boring. But Seducing the Duchess is a debut novel, and I could taste the potential in Ashley March’s writing. The writing is fluent and her dialogues are spicy and full of wit, the characters’ thoughts are penned down beautifully and I will certainly give Ashley March’s next novel a try.

3 stars

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Arc Review: Untamed Highlander by Donna Grant

Donna Grant - Untamed Highlander
Dark Sword Series Part 4
Paperback: 325 pages
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance

Release Date: April 26, 2011 

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 78-0-312-53347-2

Main characters: Hayden Campbell & Isla



Druid-born and magic-blessed, Isla is one of the deadliest she-devils ever to serve the forces of darkness. As an immortal Highland warrior, it’s up to Hayden Campbell to destroy her and her kind. But for Hayden, Isla is more than a sworn enemy. She is temptation...


Taking Isla captive, Hayden hopes to avenge his kinsmen who died by Druid magic. But when he looks into Isla’s eyes, he sees the secrets of her past. When he touches her skin, he feels the passion in her soul. And soon Hayden comes to realize that this beautiful, beguiling woman is not his enemy at all—she is his destiny. And, even as the forces of darkness conspire against them, their love will conquer all...

Note: For your overall reading enjoyment I suggest strongly to read this series in order because of the ongoing plot and world building.

My Review:
In a world where the forces of darkness plot to rule the world with black magic, a small group of warriors refuses to align themselves with this evil. These immortal Highland warriors all have an archaic god inside them, each has a different power, and they were turned by the forces of darkness but escaped. Now they have joined forces to defeat the evil Deirdre who created them and just when they thought that the battle was won… it starts all over again.

For Hayden Campbell brings home a survivor of the battle, the wounded Isla. Forced to serve Deirdre as a drough Isla shares a connection with her and therefore knows Deirdre has not been destroyed, that they are just in the midst of the calm before the storm. But Hayden not does feel calm at all; he cannot reconcile his budding feelings for this drough with his vow to kill any drough he comes across. But Isla is not his enemy; she is just another victim of Deirdre’s hunger for power. Their passion for one another is something he thought he would never experience, but their love is fragile and Deirdre’s hold on Isla is strong, maybe too strong...

With Untamed Warrior we return to Donna’s Grant fabulous world of the Dark Sword Novels. It is already part 4 in this unique series and Donna Grant created another rich and layered story by blending myth, history, fantasy, suspense, romance and paranormal elements perfectly. Once again Donna Grant had me fall for her story and hero hook, line and sinker from page one, her writing is smooth, fast-paced and addictive with a capital A.

All of the warriors are scarred by their past thanks to Deirdre. But Hayden Campbell is consumed by his hatred for droughs, he can think of nothing else. It was interesting to follow his emotional journey, how he battled with himself to deny his attraction for Isla and his need to protect her versus his need to protect his newfound family (his fellow warriors) and his aversion for droughs. Hayden has the god of massacre inside him, Ouraneon. He has the power to call up and control fire. He hides behind a wall of bluntness but deep down he is very lonely. He copes with his affection for Isla by doing the hot/cold routine; he kisses her passionately then completely ignores her. My heart cried out for Hayden as I so wanted to see him happy again.

Of all the women introduced in this series Isla is by far the most tortured one. Almost 500 years she has been Deirdre’s prisoner, to safe her family she was forced to do Deirdre’s bidding. Forced to serve the black magic for so long Isla hardly knows herself anymore. She is haunted by the awful things she has done and keeps to herself. She is smart, fierce, courageous and her magic is strong. She only survived Deirdre’s cruelty for so long by showing no fear and no emotions. Yet Hayden confuses her, he shatters her self-control to pieces.

I love how Donna Grant builds up their romance. Their attraction is clear and instant from the start, it rolls of the pages in huge waves. Their inner struggle is moving, both have flaws, both lash out, their honesty and bluntness emotionally hurts the other, yet they can’t stay away from each other. They understand one another so well, they recognize the loneliness in each other, and their connection is so deep that it is unbreakable. Their love scenes are passionate and intense. And even though the odds were against them, I was rooting for them! I felt they were a perfect match in every way.

For me the emphasis in Untamed Highlander is on the romance between Hayden and Isla. The ongoing plotline of the battle against Deirdre and her evil is there but more in the background. That does not mean there are no new developments, Isla provides the warriors and reader with new information and as a reader you can feel that change is coming. Still the story is perfectly in balance and reads like clockwork. And I love the dialogues between the warriors, they are full of wit. Each warrior has his own charms and makes you crave for more Dark Sword stories!

Untamed Highlander is a powerful, passionate and emotional read. Hayden will linger long in your heart after you finished this story. I loved the emotional journey of Hayden and Isla, their romance is intense, dark and addictive from start to finish! Next stop in the Dark Sword Series is Shadow Highlander, Galen’s story, it will be released August 30, 2011.

4,5 stars

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cherise Sinclair - Club Shadowlands

Cherise Sinclair - Club Shadowlands
E-book: 155 pages
Masters of Shadowlands Series Part 1
Genre: BDSM Contemporary Erotic Romance

Publisher: Loose Id
ISBN: 978-1-59632-133-5
Release Date: January 13, 2009
Main Characters: Jessica Randall & Master Z (Zachery)


Her car disabled during a tropical storm, Jessica Randall discovers the isolated house where she's sheltering is a private bondage club.  At first shocked, she soon becomes aroused watching the interactions between the Doms and their subs. But she's a professional woman—an accountant—and surely isn't submissive . . . is she?

Master Z hasn't been so attracted to a woman in years.  But the little sub who has wandered into his club intrigues him.  She's intelligent.  Reserved.  Conservative.  After he discovers her interest in BDSM, he can't resist breaching her walls and unleashing the passion she keeps hidden within.

My review:

While searching for new authors to devour I stumbled across the website of Cherise Sinclair and with the subtitle “Dominant males, Sizzling tales” she had my attention immediately. Miss Sinclair is an erotic romance author who writes emotional, erotic romance with a touch of BDSM, after I browsed through her backlist I bought a few books of her Masters of Shadowlands series and started in part 1, Club Shadowlands. I finished it the same day and it left me craving for more, right then I knew I had to read all of Sinclair’s books for I totally fell in love with her writing.

Shadowlands is such an emotional, sexy and naughty read that I could not stop reading, I immediately fell in love with the characters of Club Shadowlands. Still I find it difficult to review this story, I always have trouble writing a review of a story I like very much, but I am going to give it a try anyway. So here a few thoughts why I liked it so much that I now want to read all of Miss Sinclair’s sizzling tales.

This story is only 155 pages and the focus is on the blossoming relationship between Master Z (his name alone makes you week in the knees) and the very-innocent-to-the-BSDM- lifestyle Jessica Randall. After a series of events she ends up at Club Shadowlands and discovers that she is very drawn to this lifestyle and Master Z. She wants to explore her submissive side further and Master Z is more than willing to oblige her, he finds her very intriguing.

A lot of BSDM stories are very intense to read and are not in everyone’s comfort zone, others are such a light read that you can hardly call it a real BDSM story. But Cherise Sinclair manage to keep the story light yet profound and totally believable, we follow Jessica on her emotional journey to discover and accept her submissive nature step by step, therefore the balance of the story is perfect.

The urge to read on without missing a single page is so strong because of the great characterization. You cannot help falling in love with the characters; Jessica’s insecurities, her struggle to understand the rules of the lifestyle and to admit that she is submissive is gripping. Master Z is really classy, very masculine and totally in control, he emanates power, danger and discipline. He introduces Jessica to his lifestyle and knows exactly what she wants and needs even before she does. He protects her and nurtures her submissive side. Their chemistry is explosive, the BDSM scenes are intense and breathtaking and though the pivot of this story is their budding dom/sub relationship, Sinclair expertly adds little details of Master Z and Jessica’s daily life so you know they are a perfect match in every way.

At the same time she introduces us to some other Masters of Club Shadowlands, all different yet they emanate the same power and control as Master Z does. I got a little taste of what is yet to come in this series, they are sexy as hell and made my mouth water, I cannot wait to read what they have up their sleeves for us. I really like how Cherise Sinclair pulls us into the world of Club Shadowlands. She gives us such an insight in how a sub/dom relationship works; trust and obeying the rules are of crucial importance in such a relationship.

Sinclair’s voice is addictive, her writing is smooth and her characters are real and jump of the pages, and although this story is only 155 pages she manages to create a rich, emotional story that has dept and passion but at the same time is not too heavy to read. I love how she takes you one step at the time deeper into the world of BDSM.

If you like your stories sexy, hot and certainly not vanilla then Club Shadowlands is right up your alley, my only complaint... it is too short!

4,5 stars

Monday, March 7, 2011

Donna Alward - Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle

Donna Alward - Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle
Paperback: 187 pages
Contemporary Romance
Publisher:  Mills & Boons
ISBN: 978 0 263 88834 8
Release date: October 2010
Main characters: Wyatt Black & Elli Marchuk


The cowboy…
After a hard day’s ranching, Wyatt Black wants to kick back with a cold beer. But when he steps onto his porch he has unexpected company – his tiny abandoned baby niece!

His doorstep baby…
Against her better judgment, his neighbour Elli Marchuk agrees to help Wyatt for a few days.

And the girl next door!
Elli soon falls in love with baby Darcy, but it’s her grouchy, gorgeous protector who’s got her head over heels….

Wyatt Black has no clue what to do when he finds his baby niece Darcy abandoned on his porch. He is a rancher and knows nothing about babies. Fortunately his neighbor Elli Marchuk is willing to help him with baby Darcy till he has figured out what is going on here. Wyatt and Elli fall in love with baby Darcy and she is their number one priority till Darcy’s mum returns. They feel attracted to one another but both carry a lot of emotional luggage and this stands between them.

To be honest, I had low expectations when I started this story. Why? Because it is a novella, it is only 187 pages long or perhaps better said short. Me and short stories are usually not a good combination, I almost always miss a certain depth in the characters or plotline and it usually feels rushed. But Donna Alward pleasantly surprised me with Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle. It is a beautiful, even-paced, emotional and solid read about two people who try to heal themselves and leave their past behind.

The story works for me because it is not rushed. The whole story takes place in approximately 2 – 3 weeks; it is even-paced and only deals with the relationship of Wyatt and Elli. So no complex plotlines or lots of characters, just a classic love story between two people. Because the storyline is pretty straightforward the strength of this story lies in the character development of Elli and Wyatt. Both are strong, likeable and totally caught in the maelstrom of emotions that baby Darcy brings along.

Wyatt is a rancher, handsome, strong, and a bit blunt sometimes but also gentle, caring and responsible. He had a lousy childhood; his father drank and beat him and he took care of his mom instead of the other way around. To compensate his father’s absence and lack of responsibility he always felt the need to fix things or people and still does. He tries very hard not to be like his father, but his parents’ marriage has scarred him. Having Darcy in the house makes him realize he is nothing like his father and that he is worthy of a family.

Elli is a strong and caring woman who lost her baby; on top of that she has lost her job and got divorced. Now she tries to pick up the pieces of her life and tries to figure out what to do with it. The last thing she needs is to fall head over heels again for a rancher and take care of a baby. But taking care of Darcy is forcing her to face her grief and start living again instead of hiding from the world. And while spending time with Darcy and Wyatt she discovers what she really wants out of a relationship.

I was really rooting for Elli and Wyatt, I so wanted them to be happy and have their HEA. Thanks to Darcy they both had to scrutinize their lives, they helped each other to fathom things about themselves so that they can move on with their life. At the end of the story both have a better understanding of themselves, making them well-rounded characters. Elli and Wyatt’s conversations are vivid and some were very recognizable, making the story only more real. Do not expect steamy love scenes, there aren’t any and I did not miss them. This story does not need it for it is packed with real-life emotions.

With this story I now have Donna Alward on my radar. Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle is a powerful, emotional and classic love story. It kept me captive and rooting for Elli and Wyatt to the last page. It is feel-good romance at its best and I loved it!

4 stars

Monday, February 28, 2011

Arc Review: Monica Burns - Pleasure Me

Monica Burns - Pleasure Me
Erotic Historical Romance
Paperback: 352 pages 

Publisher: Berkley Trade
ISBN-10: 0425238792
Release date: 1 March 2011

Main characters : Baron Garrick Strattfield & Lady Ruth Attwood


Youth and beauty are a courtesan’s greatest assets. At forty-one, Lady Ruth Attwood appears to have lost both, as her latest lover just abandoned her for a younger mistress. Struggling with the knowledge that she’s no longer considered desirable, she’s uncertain whether to be offended or flattered when a younger man makes her an unusual offer. In need of funds, she agrees. But then she does the unthinkable. She falls in love.

Despite his reputation as a man’s man, Baron Garrick Stratfield has never been with a woman. His physical impairment is such that he knows not even a whore will touch him, and he needs a mistress who’s willing to be kept without sharing his bed. But passion is just a delicious kiss away because his new mistress is wreaking havoc with his senses. Worse yet, someone is not only out to ruin his reputation, but frame him for murder.

My review:

Pleasure Me is the first historical romance I read by Monica Burns, I was already familiar with her Order of Sicari Novels and I loved those. So I wondered if her latest historical romance could mesmerize me in the same way as her paranormal romances. I guess I was not prepared for Baron Garrick Strattfield; he knocked me off my feet with his raw, intense, masculinity right from the start. And I immediately felt sympathy for Lady Ruth Attwood and was vexed on her behalf, in only 18 pages (the first chapter) I went through a whole range of different emotions, so yeahhhh this story had my undivided attention.

Lady Ruth Attwood is a 41 year old courtesan. She fears she is no longer attractive since her last two lovers have left her for younger women. She struggles with the fact that she is considered old and now has to figure out how to proceed with her life. Then she meets Baron Garrick Strattfield who is obvious younger than her, the attraction between them is instant, but she keeps her distance. Having a younger lover is just “not done” in the Ton, but Garrick makes her an offer she can’t refuse.

The undeniable attraction is obvious from the moment Garrick and Ruth meet in the entryway of some party, and it only grows stronger throughout the story. But both have to deal with their personal issues, and these issues stand in the way of forming a deeper connection. Another thing that stands in their way of finding happiness is the Ton. Breaking the rules of the upper class society equals social ruin so Garrick and Ruth are under a lot of pressure. I love how Monica Burns brings Ruth and Gareth to life and puts them through the emotional wringer to find and accept themselves and each other. Their dialogues are emotional and full of controlled passion; you can feel their sexual tension from start to finish.

Both Garrick and Ruth have insecurities. From page one it is clear that Ruth is hung up about her age and the fact that all the men in her life leave her. Her father’s refusal to acknowledge her forced her to become a courtesan. She is smart, independent, compassionate and very stubborn. But most of all she is a real classy lady with her heart in the right place and although she always longed for a family of her own, she knows that will never happen. To protect herself and Garrick from further heartache she keeps throwing her age in Garrick’s face to stop him from getting any closer. But does that stop Garrick at all, nooo and it made me love him even more.

Now Garrick’s masculinity rolls of the pages in huge waves, a real alpha male, very protective of the ones he loves, fierce, honorable but also gentle. Yet he has to live with an embarrassing birth defect and his uncle has humiliated him to the bone for it when he was a kid, because of this he has never shared a bed with a woman and denies himself the chance to find true love and happiness. So he overcompensates by trying to be the best in everything else he does. Garrick pulled at all my heartstrings and I was rooting for him the whole time!

As Pleasure Me is a character-driven story mostly focused on Garrick and Ruth, I found it refreshing to read that Ruth is the one with all the experience and that Garrick is the virgin in the bedroom. It was touching to see how their trust in one another grew page after page and how they slowly broke down each other’s walls. Pleasure Me is not the average historical romance read, it is intense, passionate and emotional. You don’t have to be a historical romance lover “pur sang” to enjoy it; I dare to say it is one of the better upcoming historical releases.

The secondary cast of characters enhance the story even more, most of them linger a bit in the background yet somehow as the story enfolds it turns out that some of them have influenced the lives of both Garrick and Ruth profoundly in the past and continue to do so in the present time. The plotline is straight yet invigorates around page 220 when it becomes clear that someone is out to ruin Garrick. I loved how Monica Burns effortlessly interweaves all the pieces of the plotline and the characters to a fabulous, hot read. Her fluent, smooth writing had me hooked from the start. The epilogue ends the story perfectly and left me completely contented and with a big smile on my face.

Monica Burns is an author to keep your eye on because Pleasure Me is breathtaking, intense and sheer passion with a capital P!

4,5 stars

Monday, January 3, 2011

Arc Review: Immortal Champion - Lisa Hendrix

Lisa Hendrix - Immortal Champion
Immortal Brotherhood Series Part 3
Paranormal Historical Romance
Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Berkley
ISBN-10: 0425239217
ISBN-13: 978-0425239216

Release date: 4 January 2011
Main characters : Gunnar & Eleanor de Neville

He faces a future of cold uncertainty, until her warm embrace…

Part of a Viking crew of warriors cursed by an evil sorceress, Gunnar the Red must toil through eternity as half-man, half-beast, living out his days as a great bull, while his nights are spent in human form. And though he keeps mostly to the wilds, his heart yearns for the simple comforts of man—and the chance to redeem a tragic past…

Seeking refuge from a bitter winter in the welcoming hall of Richmond Castle, Gunnar rescues two maidens when a blaze erupts—and his destiny is forever altered. For one of the young women is Lady Eleanor de Neville, who is immediately entranced by her rescuer. Her kiss of gratitude—the brief touch of her lips against his cheek—awakens a longing in her soul. And even when she is betrothed to another, Eleanor never forgets her courageous knight.

When Gunnar rides back into Eleanor’s life, she is consumed by undeniable passion. And though his body surrenders to her every touch, Gunnar’s heart remains imprisoned by the curse—and only the magic of the truest love can save him…

My review:
Nine Norse warriors were cursed for eternity by the dark magic of the sorceress Cwen after they had killed her son in a raid for treasure. They were forced to spend half of each day as humans and the other half as beasts, each warrior a different beast. But hopes shines on the horizon for the curse can be broken by finding true love and their amulet. Two warriors broke the sorceress’ curse already, now Cwen is furious and has vowed to never ever let the remaining seven warriors undo her spell. To make life even more unbearable she has immersed England in a true, harsh winter. And so starts the story of Gunnar, son of Hrólfr, also known as Gunnar the Red, cursed to spend his days as a great bull and his nights as a human…

Although Gunnar and his fellow warrior Jafri usually keep to the wild, the cold winter forces them to seek shelter and warmth at Richmond Castle, Jafri during the day and Gunnar at night. Gunnar tries to keep a low profile but when a fire occurs he immediately helps and saves two young damsels in distress, Lady Eleanor de Neville and her cousin Lucy. Eleanor is immediately taken with him but Gunnar leaves the same night knowing he cannot stay any longer. But the Nornir (fate-spinners) have woven their life-strands firmly together and so they meet again four years later. Eleanor is no longer a girl and she and Gunnar are consumed by their passion, this convinces Gunnar that he has found his true love at last, but Eleanor is promised to another man. Political scheming, misunderstandings and honor keep them apart, yet once again the Nornir throw them together. But love alone does not break the curse and ends Gunnar’s torment, not if Cwen has anything to say about it…

If Lisa Hendrix had lived in the past, she probably would have been a skald in the Viking Age. There is something about Hendrix’s voice that pulls you straight into her story, from page one she throws you back in time to the 14th century and thanks to her keen eye for historical details it feels very authentic. With a fluent, even-paced, but stunning storyline she kept me intrigued and she urged me to keep on reading Immortal Champion by blending a great, emotional charged romance with a fascinating legend and paranormal elements. It was a wonderful ride through a range of emotions; I already loved Hendrix’s first two stories in this series and Gunnar’s story made me fall in love all over again with the Immortal Brotherhood.

Of course I am a bit biased, I love a good historical romance and when I read the words Viking, curse and brotherhood in a blurb I am sold. Besides the thrilling ongoing plotline, Lisa Hendrix really has me hooked with her characters, each of her Norse warriors make me week in the knees. Her heroines are not annoying or completely helpless; neither are they G.I. Janes (I hate that). They are spirited and smart. Hendrix’s characters are three-dimensional, they feel real and they take you with them on their emotional journey to find their HEA.

I was so rooting for Gunnar and Eleanor; they had so many obstacles in their way to find each other. Gunnar is the kind of hero you fall in love with immediately, he is betrayed by love and his curse weighs heavy on his shoulders, his torment is heart-wrenching. He is a real warrior; strong, loyal, honorable and full of hope to one day break his curse. He is mysterious yet always in control except when it comes to Eleanor.

And Eleanor is a great heroine, she has her own bucket full of trouble. As a lady in her position she tries to make the best of her life but she is just another pawn in her father’s wheeling and dealings. She is loyal to her family, is smart, resourceful, bold and fearless. She learns quickly to outwit her father. I loved the chemistry between her and Gunnar, as a reader I got a good sense of their inner-workings, their insecurities, issues and desires. They are perfect for each other!

There are many secondary characters enhancing this book. The sorceress Cwen remains a mystery to me but throughout the story it becomes clear that she is regaining power again as years go by. Gunnar’s fellow warriors Brand, Ari, Jafri and Torvald drop by and I have a feeling that Brand and Ari are going to be important characters for future parts in this series. Eleanor’s family is well represented, some of them are very warm and likeable others are not. And then you have Lucy and Percy, not only are they good friends of Eleanor but they are also very important for Gunnar’s hea. I loved their part in the story.

The plotline of this story is fabulous, a perfect mix of myth, history, magic and romance. With each book we learn a little more about the brotherhood’s curse and Cwen. And yet it looks like breaking the curse is going to be more difficult and complicated with each book. There are many details and little sub plotlines within the plot and somehow they all come together at the end of the book, therefore it is impossible to put the book down!

Lisa Hendrix has penned down another winner with Immortal Champion and I already crave for the next part in the series. Let’s just hope we get to read the stories of all remaining warriors.

So Immortal Champion in a nutshell: brilliant, mesmerizing and addictive to the very last page! A must-read!

4,5 stars