Monday, May 21, 2012

Requested Review: Diane Escalera - Still Hot For You

Diane Escalera - Still Hot For You

Ebook: 77 pages
Contemporary Hot Romance
ISBN: 9781616503628

Lyrical Press, Inc
March 2012

Main Characters: Shay & Dylan La Costa


Desperate times call for desperate measures. And Shay LaCosta is pretty desperate. She's wrecked her blissful marriage of five years by demanding she and her husband Dylan have a baby. What the hell was she thinking? She knows she was wrong and she’s ready to set things right, if only Dylan will let her. Bet he can’t shun her Booty Camp offer: delicious, white-hot sex in exchange for what’s going on inside his brain.

Dylan may be macho and stubborn, but he really does miss his wife. A little of Shay's pushing gets him past their estrangement and into her web of seduction. She seems to have an erotic week mapped out to perfection, and who is he to complain? Their marriage is meant to be, so they'll fight with each other, and they'll fight for each other.

First line of the story:  “His kiss was slow. Deep. Erotic. Just like she had imagined repeatedly in her head, only this time it was real, and undoubtedly the hottest make-out  session of her life.”
There is something about the characters in Diane Escalera’s stories that I can’t resist. Dangerous Desire was the first story I read of her, Cruz and Sienna held my attention captive all the way to the end and though Still Hot For You is a much shorter story, only 77 pages long, it was the same with Shay and Dylan. I love these stories because the romance and the emotions of both heroine and hero come to live so vividly.
Shay and Dylan have a good life together; both are focused on their career. Shay has wrecked her happy marriage by demanding they have a baby as soon as possible, she should have known that Dylan does not respond well to demands. Her biological clock began to tick louder and louder when she turned 29 and she could not help herself. Now she knows better, she and Dylan have plenty of time to get pregnant, but their relationship has gone awry. It is time to fix their relationship so she and Dylan get their physical and emotional connection they once shared so easily back.
Dylan La Costa has his career and life mapped out, he works hard to achieve his goal and thought Shay felt the same way. So a baby does not fit in his carefully mapped out life for some years and now he finds himself estranged from his wife. How did that happen so fast? They are civil towards each other but that’s it, he truly misses Shay but has no clue how to turn the tide. When Shay starts her seduction he let himself be seduced, he wants his wife back.
Both Dylan and Shay are easy characters to like, it was love at first sight for them, but they come from very different backgrounds. Shay’s parents are rich; she never lacked for anything material wise but did not get a lot of attention or love from her parents. She is beautiful, strong and independent and worked hard for her career, her parents do not approve of Dylan because his parents are poor. Dylan’s family is not wealthy but they are close and affectionate. Dylan is the carpenter with faded jeans and a motorcycle (drool!), his masculinity radiates from the page; he is smart, ambitious, has his own construction company and is very much in love with his wife. He wants a better life for himself and Shay, but feels he is financially not secure enough to start a family yet. Sigh, falling in love with him was so easy!
Though the story is short it isn’t rushed or lacking depth, for me it felt like I was reading a chapter out of Shay and Dylan’s life. Their problems are easy to relate to, imo Shay and Dylan have been so focused on the future, grown so serious that they have forgotten how to have fun and live in the here and now. Shay wants to fix their relationship and commits herself to a booty camp, that may sound shallow but it gets them talking again about all kinds of stuff, the past, the present and the future. It is hilarious to see how every-day-life sometimes gets in the way of the romantic moments but it also made things believable and slowly they break free from their all-work-no-play-routine and find their way back to each other.
Though the storyline is simple, a couple trying to save their marriage, Shay and Dylan are not. Their attraction is obvious, that never was the problem, and therefore their sex is steamy and hot. Shay and Dylan are well-rounded characters with many layers and they have many Mars-Venus moments in Still Hot For You. I love it how Diane Escalera shows us how different Shay and Dylan think about certain things and have no clue how the other feels about it, their conversations are emotional and touching.
Diane Escalera’s writing is smooth and addictive, her characters amiable, hot and sensual. I found it refreshing to read about two characters who were already in a romantic relationship. Shay and Dylan’s journey to find their way back to one another is gripping, sensual and hot. Still Hot For You is an emotional, witty and sensual read; I loved it from start to finish!
4 stars

Monday, February 27, 2012

Requested Review: Cera's Place by Elizabeth Mckenna

Blurb: Life hasn’t been exactly kind to San Francisco saloon owner Cera Cassidy, but she has built a successful business and a family of friends. She carries the reputation of a tough woman with a big heart, along with a derringer in her skirt pocket. One summer night, she discovers that the neighborhood thug is kidnapping Chinese girls to sell to the local brothels. Outraged, Cera vows to bring him to justice, but he’s not going to let anyone interfere with his livelihood.

Jake Tanner, a scarred ex-soldier haunted by his Civil War experiences, is on a mission to fulfill a friend’s dying wish. The trail has brought him to Cera’s door. Captivated by her Irish beauty, he is more than willing to join in her fight – if only she would let him.

Elizabeth McKenna – Cera’s Place

Ebook: 185 pages
Historical Western Romance
ISBN: 978-1468110272

Main Characters: Cera Cassidy & Jake Tanner

My review:

Cera’s Place is up and running from the getgo and right away it was obvious that this was not the typical historical romance with a knight in shiny armor and a damsel in distress in need of rescue. For a historical romance it has unusual strong female characters and a dominant suspense part. I was eager to discover where this story would lead me, instantly I liked Cera and I never was good at resisting scarred, handsome characters like Jake, yet because of the leading suspense part I wondered how much space was left for the development of the romance between Cera and Jake as the story is only 186 pages long.

As a successful saloon owner Cera stands her ground in a world dominated by men, she is fierce, bold, caring, loyal to her friends and has a strong sense of justice. She lives her life on her own terms, when she finds out that the town’s villain is kidnapping Chinese girls to sell to local brothels she vows to bring him to justice, but her sense of justice puts her and her friends in serious danger. In the midst of all these troubles Jake Tanner walks into her saloon and immediately she is drawn to him like a moth to a flame.

Jake stole my heart the moment I met him. Though the war is over Jake is still a soldier through and through and he is on a mission to fulfill a promise he made to a friend and fellow soldier who died on the battlefield. His mission brings him to Cera’s Place and she stirs up feelings he thought were long dead. He is compassionate, loyal, protective and persistent in everything he does. I loved the combination of skills, persistence, vulnerability and emotions in Jake. He is very much the tormented hero, still dealing with the pain of his past, trying to pick up his life again. It is hard not to like him!

Both Cera and Jake are strong-willed, fiercely independent, and no strangers to loss and grief. Hurt by the man she once loved Cera guards her heart and keeps all men at bay. She tries to do the same with Jake but he is too persistent and isn’t going anywhere. He slowly gains her trust and bit by bit she falls in love with him but she is scared to give her heart to another man. Jake has lost his wife and child, he is scarred by the war physically and mentally and that frightens him but Cera captivates him, he wants her but is afraid he is not good enough for her. Jake and Cera are appealing characters you can easily relate to and their romantic struggle and scalding attraction tugged at my heartstrings, I so wanted to see them both happy.

Elizabeth McKenna’s writing immersed me deeper and deeper into the story and she delivers a beautiful, intriguing tale. Cera’s employees are all strong women, all very different but scarred by their pasts yet they are all determined to create a better life for themselves. As secondary characters they entertain, add humor and give this story more layers and a certain depth without stealing the spotlight from Jake and Cera. Still Jake stands his ground between all these women as a true hero! The only problem I have with Cera’s Place is that the suspense part dominated the story and although it is well developed and has a good pace I felt the romance part was snowed under. For me the romance moved too fast at times, I felt that I missed certain scenes/parts of Jake and Cera’s romance. As a romance reader I would have loved to see that part more deepened and more equal to the suspense plotline.

But I loved Jake and Cera’s emotional journey for justice and love, they touched my heart and I was rooting for them. Elizabeth McKenna delivered a powerful and captivating read with Cera’s Place. Supported by a striking and witty cast of characters Cera’s Place is entertaining, it is a thrilling read that kept me riveted to my chair from start till finish!

4 stars

This review will also be posted at Romance Book Craze.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Requested Review: Soul Survivor by Misty Evans

“Haunted by tragedy, FBI profiler Rife St. Cloud is driven to find the person who brutally attacked six women. Unfortunately the only survivor, Keva Moon Water, has no memory of what happened, and the evidence makes her the prime suspect.

Keva cannot die. She has waited a thousand years to be reunited with the man she loves, whose soul sleeps within Rife. Though he refuses to believe her claims of immortality, there’s no denying the passion that burns between them. Keva desperately hopes their sexual connection will be enough to awaken Rife’s memories of the love affair that started a war and bound their souls together for all eternity.

But when Keva’s own memories come trickling back, she realizes that a future with Rife depends upon confronting the mistakes of the distant past…”

Misty Evans - Soul Survivor

Lost Worlds Series Part 1

Ebook: 171 pages
Paranormal Romance
Carina Press
ISBN: 978-1-4268-9178-6

Main characters: Rife St.Cloud & Keva Moon Water

First line of book:
“Hundreds of Virgin Marys stared at Rife St.Cloud from every surface inside the old church, their serene eyes in direct contrast to the bloody bodies of the six dead women at his feet.”

Keva Moon Water is cursed with immortality after a spell that went wrong. She used to be the Chieftess and Shaman of the Salt Coast Clan. She has waited a thousand years to be reunited again with her soul mate, the man she loves, whose soul sleeps within Rife St.Cloud, only then will the curse end. There is a problem: Rife St.Cloud does not remember her and he has come to investigate the murder of her beloved sisters and she is the prime suspect.

Rife St.Cloud is a FBI profiler on a mission, to catch as many murders as he can. He does not believe in magic or any other paranormal activities. He believes in what he can see and touch, but the moment he lay eyes on Keva his instincts tell him she is not the killer he seeks. He feels this strange deep connection with her and has visions of a life in the far past, yet what she tells him makes no sense at all.

Enann is the son of the Red Fire chief and was supposed to marry Keva, but she rejected him and performed the ceremony with his half-brother Kai, whose soul has now awakened in Rife St.Cloud. Now Enann has used his evil powers to find a way to travel through time to take Keva back in time to do her duty and have his revenge.

Keva realizes that no cop or FBI agent can catch the killer of her beloved sisters, only she can. To save Rife/Kai she has to face the consequences of her past mistakes and try to fix the mess she created.

Soul Survivor is the first part in the Lost World Series by Misty Evans, and she had me hook, line and sinker right from the start. Two soul mates destined to be together yet cruelly separated find their way back to each other; yes that has my romantic heart racing. The plot of Soul Survivor is different and refreshing and drops us right in the middle of the action. A murder scene where Keva rises from the dead because she feels her soul mate is near, the mystical vibe that surrounds the scene and the masculinity of Rife St.Cloud that rolled of the pages in huge waves just the way I like it had my full attention immediately. And yet I had no clue where this plot would take me.

So as the plot unfolds it is clear that the rites and traditions of the Salt Coast Clan play an important part in Soul Survivor. Bit by bit Misty Evans takes us further into Keva’s mystical world where the past is back to haunt the future. I love how she combines the mystical elements of Native American lore with the romance and the suspense and though the story is fast-paced from the start it does not feel rushed, somehow the pace and different elements all fit in the story perfectly.

And though the romance between Rife (I love his name!) and Keva develops rather quickly, which is normally a minus point with me, it did not bother me in this story. I guess it is because they already shared a history in the past and their chemistry for each other in the present is obvious because their souls recognize each other. Their interactions are intense and at all times there is this sensual undercurrent between them. This and the fact that Evans convincingly let Rife struggle to come to grips with all that has happened, which is consistent with his character, made me believe it all.

The only other key-character that plays an important part in Soul Survivor is police chief James Chee, Rife’s grandfather. As a descendant of Native Americans he has a healthy respect for everything mystical and he is the one helping Keva to discover what is going on and to show Rife that not everything is as black and white as Rife wants it to be.

The second-half of the story had me mesmerized, Keva travels a thousand years back in time to face her mistakes and stop Enann from doing more harm. She comes face to face with her younger self and Kai, she has to save lives without altering the past, and then she has to return to the present and face the murder investigation. It sounds far-fetched but when you are engrossed in the mystical world of Soul Survivor it all makes sense and every little piece of the puzzle fits perfectly in the plotline.

Misty Evans kept me on the edge of my seat till the very last page and managed to create a believable story with a satisfying ending. She blends an intricate plotline of past and present easily with the mystical stuff, the thrilling suspense and the passionate meant-to-be-romance.

Soul Survivor is an addictive, fast-paced romance with a strong mystical vibe. I loved it! I can’t wait to read what Misty Evans has up her sleeve for us with the next part in this series!

4,25 stars