Sunday, February 28, 2010

Upcoming Giveaways

Starting March, we'll be having contests and giveaways! We can schedule all we want, but life is full of surprises, so we may have more than the following giveaways.


We're still finalizing the details, but the contest and giveaway for The Battle Sylph will be either the week of March 8 to 13 or March 15 to 20. Stay tuned!

Contest and giveaway for Something About You may be in the week of March 22 to 27.


Author Madison Blake will be with us for an Erotic Romance Indulgence week on April 12 to 17! She'll be giving away a copy of book 1 of her Gem Immortal series entitled Perhaps Love and celebrating the release of book 2 Pleasure Trap.

Friday, February 26, 2010

REVIEW: A Dangerous Beauty by Sophia Nash

ISBN 9780061231360
Series: The Widows' Club, Book 1
Genre: Historical Romance
(c) June 2007, Avon Books, HarperCollins
Sophia Nash's website

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

"Exciting historical read, with the right combination of action and romance"

Sophia Nash is a new-to-me author. I first picked up her book, The Kiss (review to come), because I was intrigued with the characters' situation, that of friends becoming lovers. When I learned that it's the second book in the series, I searched out A Dangerous Beauty, the first one.

And I wasn't disappointed.

A Dangerous Beauty is an exciting read, with the right combination of action, romance, angst, humiliation, yearning, betrayal and ostracization.

I like that Luc St. Aubyn, Duke of Helston, recognized his feelings for Rosamunde Baird quite early in the book, but that he was hindered from his declaration by things that he believed are important to Rosamunde but that which he couldn't provide for her. It was his stance that the St. Aubyn family owed Rosamunde quite a bit for the things she had suffered in the 8 years of her nightmarish marriage, so the aforementioned belief coupled with his need to make amends made him think that the best thing he could do for her was to stay away from her. There was also his grandmother's hope for him, which ran contrary to what he wanted. Selfless, yes, but a bit presumptuous of him. The least he could've done was ask. Well, in the end, he did ask, but it was a reflex reaction and Rosamunde did well to reject him.

Actually, they each have their own preconceived notions of what the other wanted. Perhaps if they talked? But I guess the time wasn't ripe then. Still, the last time they made love, the scene was so touching I wanted to cry. It was also told from Luc's point of view, which made it doubly heart-wrenching.

I've never seen a heroine so ostracized and who suffered so much, except for the heroine in Ain't She Sweet? by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, perhaps. So why do I like this? Because it makes my heart ache and break for Rosamunde and when that happens, it's a good thing. I then root for her and am glad to see the comeuppance of those who dealt with her badly. When my bloodthirsty needs are satisfied by the hero, the book leaves me with feel-good sensations.

I'm just a bit surprised that there wasn't more interaction among the widows, but merely superficial conversations. Or maybe, the reason was because Rosamunde came into the club late and hadn't been with them enough time to form the bonds of friendship. She did have a friend though, her younger sister Sylvia, who sacrificed her youth to stay with Rosamunde in an nightmarish marriage. I did find that funny, but I soon forgot about it in the rationale that the sisters were close and Sylvia was a very loyal sister.

I certainly wouldn't mind reading more about Luc and Rosamunde, and I hope they're featured in the rest of the series. I just have one beef about this story and it's a spoiler, so I'll blank it out.

I understand that Luc thought Rosamunde wants nothing to do with him and only wants to return/be reconciled to her family. Also, he was fully convinced that St. Aubyn men don't make good husbands, hence he sought to spare Rosamunde. And being a filial grandson, he sought to fulfill Ata's wish for a grandchild/heir by proposing marriage to Grace Sheffey, since Rosamunde hasn't borne a child in her 8 years of marriage to her first husband.

Now, my question is this: What if Grace had said "yes"? Then there would have been no HEA for Luc and Rosamunde. If he had really loved Rosamunde, why didn't he fight for what could be and ask Rosamunde her opinion of the matter (or if she even loved him)? Why did he succumb to Ata's wish, even if he didn't love Grace?

For me, that's one weak point in an otherwise excellent story.

Update March 14: Received a response from Ms. Nash some days ago on my question/concerns above. To avoid spoilers, I'll have to blank this out as well. Read at your own risk!

Your rationale is absolutely correct for our modern age, however, I could not discount the mores of the Regency era when honor (and living up to a promise or a word) was everything to a gentleman. You see, Luc believed that there was an unspoken understanding that he would one day offer for Grace. He thought Grace and Ata believed this. And they did. It was hinted out loud when he asked Grace for the use of her townhouse to give a ball for Rosamunde. He was also certain that Rosamunde wanted nothing to do with marriage ever again as she had said it to him. And she had no reason to marry again. She was restored to her father and to her family. So yes, a modern day man would probably try to figure out a way around all of this but a Regency era aristocrat with a high moral standard probably would not. Remember how Mr. Darcy could not bring himself to address Eliza Bennett when he first returned with his friend who proposed to Jane (in Pride and Prejudice)? He, too, believed Eliza would not have him, and did not love him...This is an example of another man who, at first, gave up hope before finally gaining the courage to ask her to marry him - just like Luc did in the end.

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

Thursday, February 25, 2010

REVIEW: The Club by Sharon Page

ISBN 978-0-440-24490-5
Genre: Historical Romance
(c) March 2009, Bantam Dell, Random House
Sharon Page's website 

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Links (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook 

"Riveting and hard to put down! If you're looking for a historical romance that is unique and with substance, this is it!"

Enter into a world of dark pleasures and darker intrigues.

Jane St. Giles, Lady Sherringham, is on a mission to rescue her best friend, Del, who has gone missing. For this, she has to enter The Club, a place of sin and decadence, a place of which she is out of her depth. She is surprised to find that Christian, Earl of Wickham and Del's brother, has followed her and together, they made an uneasy pact to find Del. But when Del is found, Jane finds to her dismay that she is losing her heart to Christian, a man who determines only to teach her the pleasure she had never found in her husband's arms.

Expecting the usual historical romance, I was shocked and surprised to find that The Club much more. Instead of the usual balls and soirees and musicals, light flirtation and determined matchmakings by the mamas, The Club deals with the story of women abused by their husbands and the existence of a sexual club catering to the desires of married couples where anything goes (but the main couple didn't partake). It is different and it is certainly not gentle reading (not only because of the happenings in the club but also the subject matter of the book).

Jane and her friends typify the kind of woman who stayed with their abusive husbands--wanting to run yet in the end not finding the courage to do so, scared yet not having anywhere else to go. I think it is even harder for women in historical times for under the law, they are the property of their husbands. Their spirits are crushed and they learned to be quiet, to be invisible, to obey and do whatever their husbands wanted in order to escape their punishing hands. To these women, the death of their husbands could only signify freedom.

For Jane, the death of her husband was a relief, and she looked forward to a simple and contented life with her meager savings. Her crushed spirit started to mend, and because of her experience with her husband, she determined to save other women from such a fate. Her friends and even Christian referred to her as "crusading Lady Jane". However, Christian's appearance in her life showed her that not all men are the same. With Christian, she dared to do things, knowing he wouldn't hit her even if he were angry at her. The way he protected her and kept her safe warmed her heart and made her want to stay with him, but she'd vowed never to marry again. She didn't want to put herself under the control of a man again. Before Christian's re-entry into her life, she only sought for survival, but with him, she dared to risk her heart again.

However, Jane, no matter how crusading she is, is not one of those annoying TSTL (too stupid to live) heroines. Her heart prompts her to rescue the people she loved, even if it puts her in danger, and she is courageous when the going gets tough, but she knew when to obey Christian when it counts. As for Christian, he appears to be a rakehell hero who breaks marriages and even kills a man in a duel, but underneath it all, he has a good heart and well, appearances are deceiving.

Still, I wonder why historicals almost always portray the hero to be the sort of man who goes from bed to bed. Even if he beds only women who sought him out and who are unhappy in their marriages and whose husbands have mistresses, he is just the same as the husbands, even if he has a good motive of bringing the woman pleasure that is missing in her life. Don't heirs to dukedoms and earldoms have better things to do? Like learn estate management and how to take care of their tenants so they can take over when their fathers died? Or maybe, estates run themselves under the management of a good steward.

Anyway, finding Del led to discovering that a greater mystery and more evildoings abound. I especially like the way the author foreshadowed who the ultimate villain would be, yet in the end, she still managed to surprise me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

REVIEW: Sleepless At Midnight by Jacquie D'Alessandro

ISBN 978-0061231384
Series: Mayhem in Mayfair, Book 1
Genre: Historical Romance
(c) June 2007, Avon
Jacquie D'Alessandro's website

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, BookDepository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

"Wildly romantic, this book is a must read for all romance lovers!"

It's official. Barring my liking Confessions At Midnight (which I haven't yet read) more than this, Sleepless At Midnight is my absolute favorite book in the series. And after first reading books 3 (Seduced At Midnight) and 4 (Tempted At Midnight), which are both great reads, that's saying a lot!

What do I like about Sleepless? Mainly the not-a-(classic)-beauty heroine. It is rare that we find this kind of heroine. Too often, she's gorgeous, beautiful, lovely, pretty, etc.

Sarah Moorehouse could never be called a classical beauty, because according to the hero, her features are mismatched--too big eyes, too small (pert) nose, too lush lips, etc. Having a stunning sister (Carolyn) and beautiful (Julianne) and pretty (Emily) friends, it's a wonder Sarah isn't insecure or, worse, bitter. But no, Sarah has accepted that gentlemen will never "see" her, nor will they ever ask her to dance. She has instead devoted herself to her plants and books and sketches.

And though we all aspire to beauty, not a lot of us can identify with the gorgeous, perfect, sexy heroines we read about and whose faces and figures grace the covers of books. On the other hand, it's so easy to identify and sympathize with Sarah, because we've all been there, we've gone through what she has, we've all resigned ourselves at one point or the other to accept ourselves as we are, and we've gone through the same wonder and amazement of discovering there's someone who loves us as we are. After all.

And knowing what Sarah is and what she believes of herself, I also can't help but root for her as she began her romantic journey with Matthew and experienced the thrill of falling in love with a man worthy of her.

The hero who sees beneath the surface. When Sarah and Matthew had their first conversation, Matthew wasn't bowled over by her looks. Yet, something about her touched him, such that he couldn't get her out of his mind. He was drawn to her, and he was jealous when he saw her having fun with another man. And in his eyes, she was beautiful. He compared her once to a Botticelli painting, which I don't know anything about, but which must be good. (I googled. Here are the images.) I like how his friend described him toward the end, that whenever he talked with Sarah or even looked at her, Matthew lit up from within as though he'd swallowed a candelabra.

Logan Jensenn also saw beneath the surface, but too bad for him, Sarah doesn't like him in that way. Not only did she only feel this intense attraction toward Matthew, but they also have similar experiences in their past that drew them to one another, that created a bond of understanding between them, that allowed their souls to commune with one another. Perhaps then, this is the beginning of love.

There are, however, inconsistencies in this book and in TAM that I've discovered, a curse of having read and loved TAM a lot. One that I spotted is that I was under the impression from TAM that Emily's parents' marriage was a love match, which was why her mother wanted the same for her. However, in this book, it stated that Emily's father has expensive mistresses, which was one of the reasons for the family's dire financial straits. (Maybe it was a love match from the mother's POV only? *snicker*) Another inconsistency, this time within this book itself, is that at first, it was mentioned that it was Julianne's mother and Emily's aunt who were in attendance at the house party. Later on, Emily could be seen saying something about her (Emily's) mother and Julianne's aunt, who were both at the party. Now, we know from SAM and TAM that Julianne does not have an aunt while Emily most assuredly has.

Despite the inconsistencies above, which caused me to pause and read the passages again to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me, I enjoyed this book very much, so much that I'm giving it the highest rating.

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, BookDepository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

Monday, February 22, 2010

REVIEW: Seduce Me in Shadow by Shayla Black

ISBN 9781416578444
Series: Doomsday Brethren, Book 2
Genre: Paranormal Romance
(c) September 2009, Simon and Schuster
Shayla Black's website

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

"Teeming with magic and mayhem, adventure and romance!"

Due to a mishap in his childhood, Caden hated magic and decided to live among humans. However, he went back when his brother Lucan needed his help, only to find himself embroiled in a war among magickind as Matthias, an evil wizard, has come back from his exile, more powerful than before.

A powerful artifact called the Doomsday Diary has been stolen from Bram, the leader of the Doomsday Brethren, an underground force dedicated to battling against Matthias. Moreover, a human, Sydney Blair, was seen reporting about magickind's battle and Caden was sent to find out more about how she knew about these things and to stop her from continuing. The attraction that sprang up between them was a complication Caden didn't need, nor did he welcome the instinctive urge to take her as his mate. But when Sydney found herself in trouble, he couldn't deny the need to rescue and protect her.

As I was reading, I thought some elements of the story sounded familiar. And I realize what they reminded me of: Harry Potter. The arch enemy, evil wizard Matthias back from his exile (Voldemort coming back after being defeated ages ago), but the Council, a group of elderly wizards, wouldn't believe the rumors and even wanted Bram to squash them (Ministry of Magic [?] doing much the same thing in HP book 5, I believe). A rogue group of wizards banded together and called themselves the Doomsday Brethren to fight against this evil (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), a pitiful few against Matthias and his Anarki (Voldemort and his Death Eaters). The only thing not in Harry Potter is the matter of the wizards and witches needing sexual energy to recharge their magic.

It's best to clarify that I haven't read book 1, so I don't know if I'd have the same impressions if I'd started the series in sequence. That aside, Shayla Black made this series her own with her unique characters and the particular adult dilemma the characters faced in their fight against evil and their own internal struggles.

Sydney, for all that she's human, is fascinated by magic. When she stumbled into magickind, she takes to it like fish to water, despite the dangers the Brethren are facing just then. I like that she's smart and ethical, that despite being a reporter, she knows the danger to magickind if she reported certain news ahead of time, so she didn't and had no intention of doing so. However, her zeal to help the Brethren overcame her common sense at times and thus, she unwittingly put herself and others in danger.

Caden MacTavish is the typical guy who denies his feelings for Sydney to the death, in part because of his brother's experiences. That I can empathize with, though he comes across as a man who isn't willing to risk his heart. But then, what man or woman is? Only someone who hasn't loved before or one who has witnessed terrible tragedy in a person close to him.

However, there is one thing that made me want me to wallop Caden over the head with something hard. His irrational fear and denial of magic. I understand the childhood trauma he has witnessed, and this might have a bearing on his definitive stand against magic. However, when he instinctively called magic to save Sydney, he should've realized that magic can also be harnessed for good. Accidents do happen, but magic in the hands of an untrained wizard like him would do more harm than good. If nothing else, I think he would've wanted to learn to use and control his magic to protect Sydney. I think this part of his denial went on a bit too long.

Still, action and adventure abound in this story, making for an exciting read. In my opinion, it isn't necessary to read the first book in the series, as past important events were highlighted in the story without info dumping.

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble 
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Reading Challenge Update

Carole here. Since I'm the one charged with keeping tabs for the Reading Challenges, I'm happy to announce that Silver's almost there for Erotic Horizon's Erotic Romance Reading Challenge. Shana better read faster to catch up, but well, she technically has the rest of the year to do that.

Check the books read. Updated as of today.

But gah! Silver still has a loooooooooong way to go to complete J. Kaye's 100+ Reading Challenge (books updated up to today). A daunting task for me, but I'm sure my very good pal Silver can do it. Especially now with nothing to distract her...

*waves pom poms*

Go Silver!!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

REVIEW: Firsts by Rosalie Stanton

ISBN 978-1-60737-468-8
Genre: Erotic Romance
(c) November 2009, Loose Id

Buy Links (ebook): Loose Id, Fictionwise

"A beautiful love story!"

Samantha and Thorn have been friends since they were kids, when Thorn and his dad moved in to Samantha's neighborhood. While Thorn has been in love with her since they were three, Sam had no such feelings, treating Thorn like the best friend that he was, until the day she proposed for him to take her virginity. Then, she started to see him in a whole, new different light.

Rosalie Stanton writes a beautiful story of first love. Packed with much emotion and sexual tension of the good kind, the story swept me away with the burgeoning of romantic love between best friends, fraught with all the uncertainties and hopes of a new romance. The sex scenes are sizzling hot and I love the circumstances in which Thorn finally declared his feelings. I agree that it's certainly much better than if he'd declared while they were in bed where the sincerity of his love could've been misunderstood. This way, there was no doubt in Sam's mind that he truly loved her and that he's not just speaking because of the sex. I love this book and the author's voice so much I'm looking forward to her future offerings.

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links (ebook): Loose Id, Fictionwise

Thursday, February 18, 2010

REVIEW: Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

ISBN 978-0-425-22674-2
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy, Lawyer Romance
(c) March 2009, Berkley Publishing Group

Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

"Witty and laugh-out-loud funny! Not to be missed!"

Julie James pens a novel that is witty and laugh-out-loud funny with engaging characters who battle out the ongoing war of the sexes in the courtroom and elsewhere.

Payton Kendall works hard and wins every case as she tries to make partner in the firm. However, she has a good competitor in the person of J.D. Jameson, the man who has his office across the hall from her and with whom she could barely exchange a civilized word. For the last eight years, it has been thus with him, as each tries to get one over the other. When they were asked to work together on a certain case, they discover nice things about each other and their relationship was on the first step toward changing for a different one. But all bets are off when they learned only one of them will make partner.

Payton is a competitor to the core. She never backs down, thinking that she's only a woman or some such nonsense. She believes her capabilities are equal to that of J.D. and that she deserves to be made partner. Yet, she is at the same, feminine. She's an irresistible heroine for women everywhere.

For his part, J.D. believes in the saying "one good turn deserves another". As a competitor for the position of partner, J.D. is no slouch. He's a formidable lawyer who's won every case, and he works very hard, even staying into the night in the office. And because of his overflowing work schedule, he does date occasionally, but he's not the playboy or rakish hero that we read about in every other book. It's a refreshing change.

Though the story plot (and the resolution of their dilemma) is an old one, Ms. James was able to write it in a way that felt new and unique. I find myself laughing out loud (I did already say that, huh?) at their antics several places in the book, and their internal monologue is just priceless.

Ms. James presents opposing views about a woman's position in the employment opportunities aspect in the two characters. I never saw it before from J.D.'s point of view, that because an applicant is a woman and because the employer wanted to be politically correct, she may get the job even if there's a man who's as equally qualified. As J.D. said, "Men have to be twice as good at what they do to remain competitive in the workplace. Women just have to stay in the race." Not that I agree, but it did make me look at things from another perspective.

There is one thing I did find exception to. Aside from the fact that we never did find out what J.D. stands for, J.D. has this ongoing issue with his father. And it's to prove himself to his father that he could make it on his own that J.D. wanted to be made partner on his own merit (his father's a judge). However, after the first half of the book, we didn't find mention of his father again, not in J.D.'s internal monologue nor did his father make an appearance. I don't know if I read too much into it or maybe it's just the usual parents-will-always-disapprove-of-what-their-children-do, because I kept expecting a resolution with his father toward the end that never came. Despite that, I enjoyed Practice Makes Perfect so much Ms. James is on my auto-buy list. In the meantime, while waiting for Something About You (which I pre-ordered!), I can amuse myself with Just The Sexiest Man Alive.

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

REVIEW: Playing For Real by Madison Blake

ISBN 9781419918544
Genre: Erotic Romance, GLBT, Menage a trois
(c) November 2008, Elllora's Cave
Madison Blake's website

Buy Link (ebook): Jasmine Jade

"Scorching hot, unbelievable sexual tension!"

Shelli Madison enjoyed her deep and close friendships with Adrian Greene and Ethan Hunter, and she couldn't be happier when the two men fell in love with each other. However, one night at her company's dinner opened her eyes and heart to new feelings about her best friends. But Shelli was torn by her lust for them, as she didn't want to lose their friendships. Until the night the men forced her hand and engaged her in a delicious game that Shelli couldn't, and had no wish to, resist.

Ms Madison keeps me in tenterhooks all throughout the book! She creates these believable characters and places them in angst-and-sexual-tension filled situations that has me with my eyes glued to my laptop as I scrolled down to read as fast as I could (after I ran to the freezer for some ice cubes, of course). Adrian and Ethan are amazingly hot and hunky, and the way they try to seduce Shelli... Whew! I wish I were in her shoes. Ms Madison also imaginatively creates an erotic version of the game Chutes and Ladders (or Snakes and Ladders) and I know I'll never look at that game the same way ever again.

If there's a sequel, I'm getting it. In fact, I'm looking forward to reading Ms. Madison's other books.

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Link (ebook): Jasmine Jade

Monday, February 15, 2010

Random Thoughts: The Dearth of Lawyer Books

No, this does not refer to books on law, which we know there are a lot, if you'll just take a look at that particular section in the bookstore. I'm referring to lawyer romances, where either the hero or heroine or both are lawyers and their story revolves around a law case or their practice as lawyers. Okay, The Firm by John Grisham comes to mind, but it's not a romance, so it doesn't count.

I did a research in my library and in Amazon and I came up with only a few books that I'm interested to read. These are:

1.  Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James (contemporary) - I've got this book! Review coming soon!

2.  Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James (contemporary) - Yup, got this too! Review coming soon.

3.  Ties That Bind by Kathryn Shay

4.  Lawyers in Love by Shawn Lane (contemporary M/M)

5.  Tell No Lies by Julie Compton (contemporary) - I don't think this is a romance per se, since the hero is a lying, cheating jerk, but a reader's endorsement makes me want to read it. By the way, in case you're wondering, "courtroom drama" are the magic words.

There's a Harlequin I remembered reading, where the main characters are on opposing sides, but I forgot the title, sorry. Oh yes, there's also this series by M.J. Rodgers where, although the main characters are lawyers, there's no courtroom drama involved, and I want courtroom drama. Pleeeease. Maybe I should go watch Boston Legal. No, I haven't watched it yet. I've always been more of a bookworm than a couch potato.

Anyone's got any recommendations?

Friday, February 12, 2010

REVIEW: The Man by Mechele Armstrong

ISBN 978-1-60737-486-2
Series: Settler's Mine, Book 5
(c) December 2009, Loose Id
Mechele Armstrong's website

Buy Links (ebook): Loose Id

"Sexy and sizzling hot, full of emotions and angst"

Years ago, Colton left Michipi on Settler's Mine for reasons of his own, despite the fact that she was his mate. Now, with another mate (Larkin) in tow, he's come back to claim her. Having her heart broken when he left, Michipi didn't dare believe Colton's promises again and it seemed her worst fears came true when, in giving her and Larkin time to bond, they couldn't find Colton anywhere afterwards...

Mechele Armstrong writes sizzling hot intimate scenes with the emotional development to back it up. Though Michipi felt betrayed by Colton's leaving years ago, deep within her, she still loved him and longed for her mate. Thus, his re-appearance rendered her with conflicting emotions, especially when she realized he'd found another mate on his travels. I like that though she was eventually convinced with his good intentions when he left her before (I won't reveal why so you can enjoy the story), she was understandably hurt and doubtful when he disappeared once again. Michipi, as a heroine, is strong yet flawed, and her deficiency is one which we can all empathize with as love brings with it the heights of ecstasy and the lows of uncertainty and doubt.

Overall, the story is enjoyable, with its mix of romance and action. I haven't read books 1 to 4 of this series and this in no way detracted from my enjoyment. That said, I would've loved to know more about Larkin. He is refreshingly simple about love and how a mate should behave and I think, naive, because some things cannot be so easily forgiven and forgotten.

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links (ebook): Loose Id

* Note: The review copy was supplied by the author.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

REVIEW: Entwined by Fate by S.A. Price

ISBN 978-1-60767-077-3
Series: American Ophidians, Book 1
(c) 2010, Tease Publishing
S.A. Price's website

Buy Links (ebook): All Romance Ebooks

"A fabulous world about sexy snake shifters, action, adventure and romance!"

Elise Rizdon has long believed her mate John Merrick to have perished fifteen years ago while on a mission. But missing women and an evil cult threatening the American Ophidians' existence brought him out of hiding and into her life again. Having made a life for herself all these years, Elise didn't know whether she dared trust him once more and risk having her heart broken all over again.

S.A. Price created a fabulous, believable world about sexy snake shifters (ophidians) and the evil that stalked them. Action and adventure, subterfuge and political machinations peppered the entire book. Elise's position, for example, as Archon (leader) was undermined due to the appearance of John Merrick, leaving her with conflicting feelings about his re-emergence from the dead, not the least of which was betrayal at his long silence.

The main romance centered around Elise and Merrick, with two secondary romances featuring their "subjects". I felt that the book at 144 pages (uncorrected ARC) was too short to give justice to the development of the romances, especially the secondary ones, which didn't feature much conflict, or if there was, it was solved quite easily. Another issue I had with the story was how easily the main villain (Christof) perished and not even at the hands of the good guys (no satisfaction for the reader after the build-up throughout the story). Even the ensuing possibility that he might not be dead and then was confirmed so was done in the background. Nevertheless, I find myself caught up in the story and rooting for the good guys, hoping they'll be able to defeat the bad guys in time to rescue the missing women.

Rating: 3 stars

Buy Links (ebook): All Romance Ebooks 

* Note: The review copy was supplied by the author.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SNEAK PEEK: Breaking Daylight by M.J. Fredrick

ISBN 978-1-60504-869-7
(c) January 2010, Samhain Publishing 

Buy Links (ebook): Samhain Publishing, Fictionwise

Blurb from Publisher's Website: 

Touching her crosses the line…and shoots his code of honor all to hell. 

Sergeant Alex Shepard is all about getting the job done. That single-minded purpose helps him forget the fact he hates the jungle as he leads his Special Forces team in search of Honduran drug lord Santiago Saldana. His quarry eludes him, but the woman left behind in the compound is the next best thing. Saldana’s mistress—an American woman who clearly puts her own pleasure over right and wrong.

Isabella Canales has been Saldana’s prisoner for four long years. Worse, he’s taken away her most precious possession. Except Alex doesn’t believe a word of it. The clock is ticking, and she’s frantic to do anything to convince him to take her home. Even agree to serve as bait to draw Saldana out.

As they push through the tangled jungle dodging bullets and ambushes, Alex fights his growing respect for Isabella’s determination—and an attraction that’s impossible to resist, whatever she’s done. But Saldana never lets go of what’s his. And betrayal is his deadliest weapon…

Exclusive Excerpt (provided by the author):

“Where did you get these boots?” He motioned to the footwear that was out of proportion to her body. 

“I borrowed them.” She swiped the back of her wrist over her forehead. “I didn’t have clothes for this." 

“Who did you borrow them from?” 

He inspected a fallen tree, looking for snakes or anything else that might be using the log as a hiding place. Tossing his pack down, he motioned her to sit. She looked at him warily, then did. He reached for the laces, but she drew her feet back, the quickest he’d seen her move in hours. For the first time he saw that her pants were too big as well, rolled at the hem and at the waist. She was tiny, and these were men’s clothes. 

“Saldana’s clothes?” He squinted up at her. 

“No.” She folded her arms over the loose waist and dipped her head. “No, if he knew they were missing—” 

“Someone you trusted?” 

She shook her head. “If he found out someone helped me, it would be terrible for them. I couldn’t ask anyone for help.” 

“Well, you’re not asking me.” He gripped the heel of her boot in one hand and untied it with the other. 

She sucked in her breath when he tugged the boot, and he looked up at her. She was in real pain. This wasn’t going to be good. 

Blood had soaked through the thick white socks—three pairs, she’d had sense enough for that. 

“Jesus.” He peeled the socks gently, one at a time, feeling her tense with each layer. If there was this much damage after only walking this morning—the outer sock was little more than a rag—what were her feet going to look like? Hell, he knew. What he didn’t know was how he was going to deal with an injured woman in the middle of the jungle with no transportation. 

He peeled down the third sock. Her ankle was so small he could wrap his fingers around it. It was ripped to hell, the skin over her Achilles tendon shredded and the flesh over her anklebone where the heel of the boot had rubbed. The tops of her toes—tipped with red nail polish—were raw. 

He rested her heel on his thigh, then gave the same attention to the other foot. Only after he dragged his pack over did he look at her face. She had braced her weight on her hands behind her, her whole body tense as she stared at her feet. 

“I thought nothing could hurt as bad as stilettos.” 

That comment surprised a grin out of him. “Yeah, you wouldn’t look too great in them now.” He pulled out the peroxide, gauze and antibiotic lotion. “You’re going to have a hell of a time walking and we’ve got a long way to go.” 

She stilled. “You can’t leave me here.” 

He sat back on his heels and sighed. The objective had changed on the mountain—get her back to the States. But how was he going to make that happen when her feet were in this shape and he was on his own? He couldn’t protect her and get her out of here. He’d have to stash her until he could do both. “They won’t hurt you. We’ll get you to the road, they’ll find you, take you back.” 

“To Santiago.” Her voice rose in panic. “If he knows I left on my own—” 

He dragged a hand over his hair. “You tell him we took you.” 

She shook her head violently. “He’ll know. There’s no way you could get in, and I’m forbidden to leave.” 

“Ever?” He opened a new bottle of water, splashed a bit over each foot, soaking the thigh of his BDUs, and he passed the bottle to her. 

She took it but didn’t drink. “In four years. I even—” She stopped herself, pressing her lips together. 

“Even what?” 

She shook her head, her gaze following a trail of ants on the jungle floor. He cut a strip of gauze, cleaned her wounds with gentle swipes and dabs, applied the antibiotic and started wrapping her foot. “If you give it an extra layer or whatever I could make it,” she said. “It already feels a lot better.” 

“Your socks are bloody rags.” He looked up. “I have to send you back.” 

“You can’t!” 

She shot forward and grasped his wrist. Her dark eyes were pleading. The kind of eyes that could make a man do anything. He turned his gaze down. 

“You don’t know what he’ll do to me.” 

He pulled his wrist away. “Your choice. You went with him.” 

She reached for her pack and dragged it close as he wrapped her other foot with less gentleness than the first, needing to get her away from him. But God, how could he make her walk on these feet? 

“You’re not going to leave me all by myself?” 

Damn, she was about to cry. “We’ll find a village. I’m not going to leave you in the middle of the jungle. But even that won’t be easy.” He held out his hand. “Give me that.” 

She pulled her pack closer, protective, wary. 

“I need to stuff the toes or something so your feet won’t have room to slide around.” 

"I don’t have anything.”  

He tugged the pack free, frowning at her determination to hang on to it. What was she hiding? “I already saw the vibrator. Not that you’re likely to be embarrassed by something like that.” He unzipped the pack and pulled out a brightly colored silk dress, something fine and expensive, something Rebecca would never wear. No, she liked soft colors and cotton, and had probably never paid more than fifty dollars for a dress. This garment was probably worth four times that, at least. 

The goddess whimpered, her gaze focused on it. 

He grabbed the garment by the shoulders, took just a moment to imagine how the fabric would mold to her body, and ripped it in two. 

You would have thought he’d stabbed her in the heart, the way she cried out and reached for it, trying to pull it from his grasp, too late. 

“What the hell?” he demanded, holding it away. “It’s a dress.” 

But the woman who’d refused to cry when she was in a truck on fire, or hanging off the side of a mountain, was sobbing over a dress. Jesus. 

He snatched up her boots, one at a time, and shoved the fabric inside, wadding it in the toes. Then he held out each boot expectantly. Lower lip trembling, she took them, eased her sore feet inside and laced them up. 

He stood, backing away and grabbing his pack, not taking his gaze off her. Goddamn, he’d never understand women.

Buy Links (ebook): Samhain Publishing, Fictionwise

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

REVIEW: England's Perfect Hero by Suzanne Enoch

ISBN 978-0-060543-13-6
Series: Lessons in Love, Book 3
(c) March 2004, Avon Books, Harper Collins

Suzanne Enoch's website

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Links (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

"Heartwrenching and romantic"

A year or so has passed since the ladies have written down their "lesson plans" and both Georgiana and Evelyn have fallen in love and married their "students". Lucinda Barrett has watched from the sidelines with some envy, and so when it came her turn, she chose someone she wanted to marry, someone who would give her a simple, amicable life and who would also be in good terms with her father (a war hero), someone who was so gorgeous he turned young women's heads--the Duke of Fenley's 4th son, Geoffrey Newcombe.

But then, there was Robert Carroway, the younger brother of Georgiana's husband, who'd been wounded in the war and who was so traumatized by his experiences that he shunned all contact with Society, because noise and crowds bother him. Yet, he was drawn to Lucinda, for her peace and serenity, and he decided if he wanted to become "normal" again, he needed help. So, he made a trade with her, and in exchange, he would help her snare her desired husband.

Robert Carroway is definitely not your typical historical romance hero. His scars and wounds go deeper than a past betrayal at love or a rakish reputation, and they are not the type to be easily solved with the magic of true love. Yet, love does help, for thoughts of Lucinda enable him to go through some of his worst times. I love how he overcame his own trauma in order to help Lucinda with her lessons. I think the scene wherein he danced with the other ladies at the ball is one of the nicest and heartwrenching scenes in the book. It would be so so so easy to fall in love with such a guy.

He also has his own lessons to learn, and one of these is to ask for help from family and friends, people who are concerned about him. I love the supporting cast that Ms. Enoch brings into this book, Georgiana and Tristan, Evelyn and Saint and the entire Carroway clan, especially Edward. I originally didn't like Bradshaw for the comment he made to Robert at the start of the book, though he was merely trying to help, but he more than redeemed himself later on in the story. I like how Ms. Enoch portrayed the dynamics of the Carroway family--realistic and heartwarming.

I like how he and Lucinda were friends first, and I like seeing how their friendship developed into something more, especially for Lucinda, who hadn't really set her sights on him. I like how Lucinda is a dutiful daughter, and most especially, I like how she sees Robert for what he is--a man tormented by his experiences of the war, yet a man nonetheless.

Lucinda was torn with her feelings for Robert and what she envisioned she wanted in her life, which includes providing her father with a son-in-law he could get along with. Yet, it is no secret that there was bad blood between Robert and her father. Despite Society's insinuations about Robert and even her father's admonition to stay away from him, I like how Lucinda never wavered in her estimation of Robert and how she was strong enough to stand with him at a time when most people wouldn't have.

Suzanne Enoch has truly penned a gem in this story that is both heartwrenching and romantic and that celebrates the power of love.

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, BookDepository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Links (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

* Oldie But Goldie reviews are reviews of books published before 2005 and which garner at least a rating of 4 stars.

Monday, February 8, 2010

REVIEW: Nightkeepers by Jessica Andersen

ISBN 978-0-451-22437-8
Series: Final Prophecy, Book 1
(c) June 2008, Signet Eclipse, Penguin Group
Jessica Andersen's website

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

"Great angst and conflict, and incredible worldbuilding. A must read!"

If you were like me and thought "I've watched 2012 and I don't need to read a book on the Mayan doomsday prophecy", you'd have missed out on a lot. Just the prologue of this book alone packed quite a huge punch and, though I thought I wouldn't like the book much, I was soon so caught up in the story that I used whatever free time I could snatch to read.

Strike knew he was a Nightkeeper, one of the few left to defend mankind should the end come at the Great Conjunction as it was foretold. At the same time, he hoped that his father's sacrifice twenty-four years ago to close the barrier was successful. No such luck. Not only is the end time coming, but how was he to win the war with so few of them (those who had escaped the massacre)? To top it all off, he may need to sacrifice Leah, the woman he's come to love, in order to save the world.

Jessican Andersen delivers on this book with its great angst and conflict, incredible worldbuilding and believable character development. Strike was the one who grew the most as he struggles with his birthright, his duties and responsibilities and his love for the one woman he needed to sacrifice to save a world that didn't know they needed saving. Leah was a bit overshadowed as the reader was pulled into the Nightkeepers' world and facts were revealed about their magic system and hierarchy. Learning about the world that Ms. Andersen created is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the book for me. (Could be why I also love to read fantasies.)

As I said, the prologue hooked me in with the action, the tension, the possible romance and the eventual heartbreak. The author's portrayal of duty over love was so on the dot that it was the first time I felt it so keenly (as compared to other books). There's also a longer prologue at the author's website, but I feel that the shortened prologue made a bigger impact on me as a reader than the longer one.

After Strike knew there were other Nightkeepers in the world, people whom he could call to join him in the fight to save the world, he began assembling his army. Short screen time was given to several of these Nightkeepers and their winikin (bonded servants to the Nightkeepers), but instead of feeling as though these were introductions to future couple pairings, they added depth to the world that Ms. Andersen was trying to portray. The changing group dynamics was also done well, in my opinion.

A problem I have with the story is the resolution of Strike's quandary with sacrificing Leah. Since this book is a romance, I don't think it's a spoiler if I say there's a happy ending and Leah is saved with Strike managing to save the world at the same time in this battle. Maybe I was reading too fast (and too lazy to re-read) but I was a bit confused as to how this came about.

Another problem is the way the characters sometimes were controlled by forces outside of their control, meaning the gods or the demons or what not. Like they did something but they don't want to do it and it's not them doing it as there was something else controlling their body. I'm not sure I like this device being used so often in the story, especially when the character's actions were needed to move the story forward. But then, if you look at it from another angle, Strike is just an emissary of the gods, just as the human Zipacna is a representation of the crocodile god from the underworld. The real battle of good vs evil is between the gods and the demons, and this could be used to justify the way both good and evil powers sometimes manipulate their pawns.

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, BookDepository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

Thursday, February 4, 2010

SNEAK PEEK: The Man by Mechele Armstrong


ISBN 978-1-60737-486-2
Series: Settler's Mine, book 5
(c) December 2009, Loose Id

Buy Links (ebook): Loose Id

Blurb from Publisher's website:

Colton returns to Settler’s Mine searching for his mate who he’d abandoned years before. He’d been on his way earlier, but once he and Larkin mated, they couldn’t keep their hands to themselves and it delayed his trip.

Michipi has made a new life for herself at Settler’s Mine and doesn’t want to trust Colton again, no matter how sincere he seems. Especially with his new mate receiving all the perks of the heartstone glow that she never got.

While Michipi enjoys being the subject of being two men’s desires and what they have to offer, however good they both are she can’t get past Colton’s past betrayal and denies the future of their mating. When an old enemy resurfaces to make an attempt on Colton's life, Michipi is forced to realize that she needs both men in her life. But has the knowledge come too late, and at too high a cost?

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, male/male sexual practices, menage (m/m/f with homoerotic content). 

Exclusive Excerpt (provided by the author):

"You look delectable." Larkin set down his bag and started over to her. 

"Doesn't she?" Colton's eyes ate her up. He'd hardly been able to stop touching or talking to them since the ordeal. It was as if he'd been about to lose all that he wanted. That had made life that much sweeter. 

For her too. 

"What did you bring back?" She stood up from the chair in front of the mirror. The room had a dresser, night table, and a mirror over a second smaller table. A bed. Mustn't forget the bed. 

"Some fruits. Pasta." Larkin stopped and went back to the bag. "You must be starving." He dumped the contents on the dresser. 

She was. "You guys must be too." 

None of them had eaten in a while. 

Colton's low voice almost startled her. "I'm only hungry for one thing." His stormy, passionate gaze rocked her. 

She met his stare. "What's that?" 

"Both of you." 

Her heart skipped several beats. "Oh?" 

He nodded. 

"Oh." She closed her eyes for a second as swirling emotions overwhelmed her. She wanted to be the source of such passion for them both, and apparently she was. She'd never expected to hear it announced like this. So blatantly. 

Larkin grabbed a fruit from the dresser and moved to the table. He pulled out a knife and started peeling. 

Colton stared at him with a frown. "What are you doing?" 

"Getting ready." Larkin didn't pause in his actions. 

"For what? A feast?" Colton's voice snapped. He was on a thin trigger. They all were. 

She smoothed down her skirt so that the wrinkles didn't show as much. "Maybe some food will do us all good." Her stomach twitched. If she'd be able to eat anything. She was suddenly nervous, and the food seemed a good way to put off the inevitable. 

Colton's face fell, but he nodded his assent. Blew out a breath and straddled a seat nearby where Larkin worked. 

Larkin grinned. "I think we can combine some things." He motioned with a finger to Colton. 

Colton's eyebrow rose. 

She gasped with the dawning of comprehension. Surely he didn't have in mind what it seemed? At least to her? Her mind must be wicked to be going down this path. Must be the influence of Colton and Larkin. 

Larkin finished peeling the large red fruit. "It's a Darjeeling. Sort of tastes like an apple if you've ever had one. But it's much softer. Pliable." He slowly wound the knife around the middle. "It does have a core, though." He cut out the entire midsection, making a perfect hole in the fruit. "Where certain things will fit." 

A large hole in a large fruit. 

Where certain places of a man's anatomy would fit perfectly. 

"You've got to be kidding me." She ran a hand through her hair, which remained down. 

Colton looked back at her. "I don't think he is." He blew out another fast breath. "He's inventive. You'll find that out." 

"I'm not kidding." 

She looked to Larkin as he began peeling the second fruit. "You want eat.that.from." She couldn't bring herself to say the word.

***Adult Warning*** Only those 18 years old and above may continue to read.

"Our cocks? Yep, I do." Larkin grinned again. A full-bodied one that curved his whole face. "It will get you some food and get us a blowjob." He waggled his eyebrows at both her and Colton.

Colton shook his head and shrugged at Michipi. A light smile graced his lips. He stood up and began undoing his pants. His cock would be free momentarily.

Her mouth went dry. She'd get to see him again. Larkin too. And get to taste. She tittered. She'd only given oral sex a couple of times with Colton a long time ago. Would she remember how?

She was going to do this. Have two men at the same time.

Her mates.

The men she couldn't go wrong with.

Her body drooped in relaxation.

Colton took off his boots and dropped his pants.

Yeah, he was as big and hard as she remembered. Beautiful. Dripping. And she'd soon be tasting

Buy Links (ebook): Loose Id
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