Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Review: The Darkest Hour by Maya Banks

It’s been one year since ex-Navy SEAL Ethan Kelly last saw his wife Rachel alive. Overwhelmed by grief and guilt over his failures as a husband, Ethan shuts himself off from everything and everyone.

His brothers have tried to bring Ethan into the KGI fold, tried to break through the barriers he's built around himself, but Ethan refuses to respond… until he receives anonymous information claiming Rachel is alive.

To save her, Ethan will have to dodge bullets, cross a jungle, and risk falling captive to a deadly drug cartel that threatens his own demise. And even if he succeeds, he’ll have to force Rachel to recover memories she can’t and doesn’t want to relive—the minute by minute terror of her darkest hour—for their love, and their lives, may depend on it.

What a mile-a-minute thrill ride!  I've read several of Ms. Banks' erotic romances, and none of them have stuck with me like this story. 

Ethan Kelly, mourning the loss of his wife, Rachel, receives a mysterious package in the mail with documentation claiming Rachel is in fact alive. This is exactly the information Ethan needs to get his sorry butt off the couch in the hopes of finding his wife.  His guilt -- both because of the last few months of their marriage and his immediate acceptance of Rachel's death -- is palpable, but he turns to the only people he's confident could help prove if Rachel is alive: his family.

This book was so good, a great start to a new series.  Whether it was the family connection (and the promise of more books) or the romantic suspense genre, The Darkest Hour was exactly what I needed.  I'm looking forward to learning more about the Kellys.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas


One rain-slicked night, six-year-old Holly lost the only parent she knew, her beloved mother Victoria. And since that night, she has never again spoken a word.


The last thing Mark Nolan needs is a six-year-old girl in his life. But he soon realizes that he will do everything he can to make her life whole again. His sister’s will gives him the instructions: There’s no other choice but you. Just start by loving her. The rest will follow.


Maggie Collins doesn’t dare believe in love again, after losing her husband of one year. But she does believe in the magic of imagination. As the owner of a toy shop, she lives what she loves. And when she meets Holly Nolan, she sees a little girl in desperate need of a little magic.


Three lonely people. Three lives at the crossroads. Three people who are about to discover that Christmas is the time of year when anything is possible, and when wishes have a way of finding the path home…

For as much as I loved Ms. Kleypas' The Hathaways and The Travises, I expected to really enjoy this book.  It was a quick read, an easy read, but I found it lacking.  It didn't wrap itself around and make me want to put everything on hold until I finished this book.  The writing isn't as lush or as emotionally charged, something I loved about The Hathaways series.  A disappointment, and I hate saying that about any book.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cover Love

Second in line, first in love

A secret society of younger sons, sworn to aid and abet each other, no matter the scandal or cost.... Their fathers and brothers may rule the world, but they run it . . . and when it comes to passion, they refuse to accept second best.

Searching for hidden treasure, finding forbidden fantasy.

London's most sensual former courtesan, Viola Whedon, is incapable of being seduced-she does the seducing. Until she meets Leonidas Vaughn. Her salacious memoirs have made her the target of half the lords in England, and Vaughn is the only man she can turn to. When he promises to protect her-and to make her beg for his touch-the alluring beauty finds both offers impossible to refuse.

Leonidas Vaughn secretly believes Viola possesses a fortune given to his family by the King of France. So the strong and sexy Vaughn charms his way into Viola's life . . . and her bed. But when their arrangement is consummated, he'll experience pleasure far beyond his wildest fantasies-and realize his heart may need the most protection of all.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman by Lorraine Heath

As the black sheep second son of an Earl, Stephen Lyons has gained a reputation in the art of seduction, but when his wicked ways result in scandal, he joins the army to redeem himself. On the battlefield, he proves courageous . . . until he is seriously wounded. Returning home to recover, he discovers he can't remember the angelic beauty who arrives at his doorstep, his babe nestled in her arms.

Mercy Dawson will risk everything to protect the son of the dashing soldier she once knew and admired. When Stephen offers to do the honorable thing, she is determined that London's most notorious gentleman will desire her and no other. But Mercy fears that what began as an innocent deception could destroy her dreams and their blossoming love if Stephen ever learns the scandalous truth . . .

They are masters of seduction, London's greatest lovers. Living for pleasure, they will give their hearts to no one . . . until love takes them by surprise.

Deception is at the core of this story, though it's innocent and just.  Mercy Dawson is a caring, loving person, and she's been given the most amazing gift: a son.  When she strives to take her son to his father's home, she's shocked to learn his father isn't dead as was rumored; he's very much alive and doesn't remember Mercy at all!

Like Passions of a Wicked Earl, the characters must learn one another again, so we are treated to this journey, which is sweet and passionate.  Unfortunately, the truth of Mercy's deception is revealed, though Stephen ultimately decides to forgive her as her motives, despite duplicitous, were pure.

I cannot wait to read the final book of this trilogy, Waking Up with a Duke (July 2011). 

(A very special thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Mistress by Midnight by Nicola Cornick

A wicked duke’s bed is no place for a lady…

Lady Merryn Fenner is on a mission to ruin the Duke of Farne. A beautiful bluestocking with a penchant for justice, Merryn has waited twelve years to satisfy her revenge against Garrick Farne. Her family name had been tarnished at his hands, her life destroyed.

For twelve years Garrick, Duke of Farne has kept the secret of what really happened on the night that he killed his best friend, Stephen Fenner, in a duel. Now Stephen’s sister is intent on discovering the truth and putting at risk all those secrets Garrick has protected.

When a disaster traps Merryn and Garrick together, white-hot desire stirs between the two sworn enemies. Merryn's reputation is utterly compromised and she is forced to do the one thing she cannot bear; accept the scandalous marriage proposal of the man she has vowed to ruin.

Beware of scandalous women...

The portion of this blurb -- two sworn enemies -- is a little misleading.  Merryn hates Garrick; Garrick, however, is utterly intrigued by Merryn, maybe even moreso after he discovers her identity. 

"Oh?" She raised her brows. "If I refuse to concede, what then? Kidnap? Abduction? Marriage?" She smiled faintly. "I doubt you could get away with murdering two members of this family."

"The marriage option interests me more than the murder one," Garrick said.

She laughed. "So that you could bar me from testifying against you?"

"No," Garrick said. "So that I could make love to you."

He doesn't necessarily want to be attracted or intrigued, but he cannot help feeling responsible for all the hardship Merryn swears the Fenners lived through after the death of Stephen.

Don't misconstrue that Garrick has a savior complex.  He doesn't.  He wants to be honorable and do what's right by Merryn and her older sisters, Joanna and Tess, and that includes returning their family home and funds to them.  Merryn isn't having it and doesn't want anything Garrick has to offer. 

Unfortunately, Fate has other ideas for these two and continually manages to place Merryn in danger with only Garrick around to save her.  That isn't to say Merryn is clumsy or insipid or frail.  Oh no, she's quite the contrary.  At times her ability to take care of herself frightens even Garrick. 

The book leaves some plot threads open (there are more books in this series coming in 2011), though I do hope every party we've been introduced to over the course of this trilogy receives their proper comeuppance. 

(A very special thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Mistress by Midnight.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: Shaken by Dee Tenorio

Thirteen stories up. Two broken hearts. One last chance…

Surgeon Grant Sullivan’s once-perfect life lies in ruins. His daughter is gone—lost in a tragic accident he dare not allow himself to remember—and his beautiful wife now stares at him from across a legal table, insisting she wants nothing from him.

Julia Sullivan lost everything, especially her illusions about her marriage, after the accident. Her grief only seemed to drive Grant further into his emotional shell—except for the nights he turned to her in silent, furious passion. Unable to live like a ghost in her old life, she’s packed up what’s left of her broken heart and is ready to move on. Alone.

Determined to break their stalemate, Grant follows Julia onto the elevator just in time for an earthquake. Trapped for hours in a building pressure cooker of unspoken pain, he’ll do anything to remind her what she’s leaving behind, as deliciously as he can. But giving her what she needs to save their marriage is the one thing that could destroy his soul.

What an emotional story.  I wasn't expecting it, quite frankly.  Then again, the death of a child is a fear most mothers have, so to read about this couple reeling from such an event...well, I almost didn't finish the novella.  The hope of a happily-ever-after for Grant and Julia drew me in.  After such torment and heartbreak, they deserved it, right?  They were going to find each other again, right? 

(They do, in case you were worried.)

A real and honest look at extraordinary circumstances no couple should have to endure and their way back to one another.  It packs a wallop, people. 

(A very special thank you to Ms. Tenorio who provided me with an ARC of Shaken.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: And One Last Thing... by Molly Harper

"If Singletree’s only florist didn’t deliver her posies half-drunk, I might still be married to that floor-licking, scum-sucking, receptionist-nailing hack-accountant, Mike Terwilliger."
Lacey Terwilliger’s shock and humiliation over her husband’s philandering prompt her to add some bonus material to Mike’s company newsletter: stunning Technicolor descriptions of the special brand of "administrative support" his receptionist gives him. The detailed mass e-mail to Mike’s family, friends, and clients blows up in her face, and before one can say "instant urban legend," Lacey has become the pariah of her small Kentucky town, a media punch line, and the defendant in Mike’s defamation lawsuit.

Her seemingly perfect life up in flames, Lacey retreats to her family’s lakeside cabin, only to encounter an aggravating neighbor named Monroe. A hunky crime novelist with a low tolerance for drama, Monroe is not thrilled about a newly divorced woman moving in next door. But with time, beer, and a screen door to the nose, a cautious friendship develops into something infinitely more satisfying.

Lacey has to make a decision about her long-term living arrangements, though. Should she take a job writing caustic divorce newsletters for paying clients, or move on with her own life, pursuing more literary aspirations? Can she find happiness with a man who tells her what he thinks and not what she wants to hear? And will she ever be able to resist saying one . . . last . . . thing?

What a great book.  If you're looking for a lot of laughs in a contemporary romance, you should pick up And One Last Thing...

To be honest, I wasn't certain I would like this book.  The back cover copy sucked me in, and Ms. Harper's wit and smart-ass-y dialogue is fully evident in Lacey, but who wants to read about a woman discovering her husband is having an affair or the aftermath of such a discovery?  It was almost too much -- at first. 

Then she meets Lefty Monroe.  And there's a flicker of a spark. 

Forget the fact that he looks like Wolverine or that he's always awake when Lacey is awake.  Ignore that he -- and his family -- continually discover Lacey in various shades of undress.  Monroe is just a normal guy, something Lacey needs but doesn't want to want at this stage in her life. 

There's a little bit of melodrama ("the big misunderstanding") I could have done without, though I recognize its value as a plot point and a way to push Lacey firmly toward Monroe.  I was also a bit disappointed because the ending felt rushed; I wanted more time with Lacey and Monroe, to see them together in their new relationship, feeling things out.  I can only cross my fingers and hope we'll meet up with Lacey and Monroe again in the future. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review: The Taming of the Wolf by Lydia Dare

He could never lose control...

Dashiel Thorpe, Earl of Brimsworth, has spent his life fighting the wolf within him.  But when the full moon rises, Dash is helpless.  A chance encounter with Caitrin Macleod on a moonlit night inadvertently binds the two together irrevocably, and Dash's implusiveness plunges them both into a nightmare...

She never saw him coming...

Caitrin Macleod is no quiet country lass, but a witch with remarkable abilities.  But when it comes to Dashiel, she's as helpless to fight his true nature as he is.  Her senses overwhelmed, she runs back to the safety and security of her native Scotland...

But Dashiel is determined to follow her--she's the only woman who can free him from a fate worse than death.  And Caitrin will ultimately have to decide whether she's running from danger or true love...

This book features minor characters introduced in the previous two books, Tall, Dark and Wolfish and The Wolf Next Door.  I'd really enjoyed the trilogy featuring the Westfield brothers, but The Taming of the Wolf, while still good, was good in a different vein. 

The major conflict, and what drew me to the series initially, was the fact that the potential lady loves for the Westfield brothers do not know their true natures.  The Taming of the Wolf tossed this conflict out the window. Cait knows exactly what Dashiel Thorpe is -- and she hates him for it.  Of course, she's going on the past experiences of her involvement with Benjamin Westfield, so her preconceived notions of what a wolf is and does don't match Dash at all.  So when she poisons his tea with a sleeping draught, well, there's nothing a wolf likes as much as a good chase.

The Taming of the Wolf also set up what I predict will be the next two novels, featuring Blaire and Sorcha, two witches in Cait's and Elspeth's coven, as the heroines of said books. 

Still, the pacing is fast and though I probably shouldn't, I love the modern tone of Ms. Dare's dialogue.  I plan to keep reading these interconnected novels to see what's going to happen. 

(A very special thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca for providing me with an ARC of The Taming of the Wolf.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: Passion: Erotic Romance for Women, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussell

Love and sex have always been intimately intertwined--and Passion shows just how delicious the possibilities are when they mingle in this sensual collection edited by award-winning author Rachel Kramer Bussel. Be swept away as you travel to Paris and Greece (and Beverly Hills). Get stuck in an elevator, take a bubble bath, and explore nature in some very luscious ways. Indulge in "Big Bed Sex," get geeky with "My Dark Knight," find "An Easy Guy to Fall On," discover why there's "No Risk, No Reward," go to work with "The Efficiency Expert," and "Rekindle" an old flame. Featuring work by talented authors, Passion offers succulent stories sure to quicken heartbeats while appealing to the most romantic of souls.

With contributed stories by Donna George Storey, Jacqueline Applebee, Angela Caperton, Wickham Boyle, Suzanne V. Slate, Isabelle Gray, Lana Fox, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Monica Day, A.M. Hartnett, Annabeth Leong, Justine Elyot, Charlene Teglia, Lizzy Chambers, Saskia Walker, Emerald, Teresa Noelle Roberts, Delilah Devlin, Portia de Costa, and Kathleen Bradean.

What I loved about this collection was that not only were the short stories of quality, but there was such a selection, such a wide range of diversity in subject matter and pairings, a reader would never be bored.  The possibilities -- and the results -- really are delicious! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cover Love

No back cover copy for this book yet, but it features Evan Monroe (the brother of Elec Monroe, who was first introduced in Flat-Out Sexy).  Yowza. 

Regency England has never been so dangerous, so magical-or so hot.

In London society, restless Miranda Prosper is considered unmarriageable. So she's stunned when the handsome Corwin Rathe asks for a dance at a summer ball. But it's more than a waltz-because Corwin is a sorcerer, and he's about entangle Miranda in a web of sexual enchantment, magical intrigue, and breathtaking danger.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is a fairy tale—and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swath of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan's long-time rivals are suspect number one.

But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over in the Edge—and Cerise's life. William, a changeling soldier who'd left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation's spymaster.

When William's and Cerise's missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they'll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.

Sparks completely fly between William and Cerise. 

He wore jeans and a white T-shirt.  His clothes molded to him.  William wasn't built, he was carved, with hard strength and lethal speed in mind.  No give, no weakness.  He had the honed, lean body of a man who was used to fighting for his life and liked it that way.  And he strode to her like a swordsman: sure, economical movements touched with a natural grace and strength.

Their stares met.  She saw the shadow of the feral thing slide across William's eyes, and she stopped stirring the stew. 

They stared at each other for a long tense moment. 

Damn it.  That was not supposed to happen. 

And while watching them admit they like one another is fun, the real action is in the Mire itself.  Their surroundings seems to become a character and, lest we forget, there are several "characters" present in Cerise's family. 

At times Bayou Moon felt more in the gothic tradition of Flannery O'Connor or Carson McCullers rather than straight-up urban fantasy, particularly because of the layers upon layers of subtext.  There is more here than putting William and Cerise together to get from point A to point B or achieve such-and-such goal or even to play out their romantic arc.  This is deep, life-changing (for all characters involved), and damn if Ms. Andrews doesn't do oh so well.  I couldn't put this book down and cannot wait to read what's next for The Edge.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Review: Passions of a Wicked Earl by Lorraine Heath

Known throughout for his prowess in the bedroom, Morgan Lyons, the eighth Earl of Westcliffe, cannot forgive an unpardonable affront to his honor. Discovering his young bride in the arms of his brother was a staggering blow—so he banished the beautiful deceiver to the country and devoted himself to the pursuit of carnal pleasure.

Claire Lyons was an innocent, frightened girl on her wedding day, seeking chaste comfort from a childhood friend. Now, years later, she has blossomed magnificently and has returned to London with one goal in mind: the seduction of her notorious husband. Unskilled in the sensual arts, she burns nonetheless for the kisses too long denied her. And she has but one Season to win back the heart of the rogue she betrayed.

They are masters of seduction, London's greatest lovers. Living for pleasure, they will give their hearts to no one . . . until love takes them by surprise.

I've never read Ms. Heath prior to Passions of a Wicked Earl, but I'm so glad I took a chance.  (Also, hello? trilogy -- it's a no-brainer I'm going to be tempted.)

As the narrative continues, and Claire and Westcliffe become (re)acquainted with one another, I wondered why she never called him by his given name.  I can understand the formality at the beginning of their new relationship but once the seduction begins, once they become intimate, that line was never crossed (to my recollection). 

The interference of Westcliffe's mother -- and her lover -- was also a twist I didn't see coming.  She recognized that Claire could be good for her stuffed-up eldest son, which was nice.  She wasn't as meddling as she could have been, I suppose, so Claire and Westcliffe are able to make their own romantic connections. 

I thought the danger placed on Claire in the final chapters was unnecessary yet necessary because of what it firmly spells out for Westcliffe.  He's made to confront his feelings, and things move forward between the husband and wife from there.

(A very special thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Passions of a Wicked Earl.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Second Chances by Lauren Dane

Ten years ago, Rori Simon left town shy, unattractive and with zero self-esteem. Now she’s back, older, stronger and finally loving herself—and it shows. Hot men are soon knocking at her door, including Jude Callahan, the bad boy who starred in her teenage daydreams…and her adult fantasies.

Jude can’t believe the sexy, confident woman before him is actually Rori! She’s gotten under his skin like no other woman has…and brings out secret desires he can’t resist. He wants to dominate Rori with every fiber of his being. Wants to own her and pleasure her. To cherish her as he makes her his.

Rori discovers she likes being controlled. She also knows Jude is not a one-woman man. Everything changes when she meets Zach Helm. Edgy, sensual Zach knows just what she needs, and before long, she’s in love. Jude watches them together and wonders if he’s lost his chance forever…

Given that I absolutely love Laid Bare and Coming Undone, I expected to feel the same way about Second Chances.  (I also wanted an "in-between" to tide me over until Inside Out releases on November 2.)  Unfortunately, I didn't. 

I wanted to though.  Oh, how I wanted to.

Rori and Jude have some smokin' sexual tension (and their sex is uber hot too).  Then boom!  The flames are doused in the first third of the novella.  Granted it's because of Jude's behavior that the non-couple breaks up, but I was surprised to find Rori be attracted to Zach so quickly.  It seemed almost a case of the pot calling the kettle somewhat black. 

Rori jumps headfirst into a relationship with Zach, a decision Zach eagerly agrees to.  Jude is then delegated to the background, moping and complaining about how he loves Rori, but she's with another man so he's lost his chance. 

I think I just wanted more from Rori, Zach and Jude.  More consideration for the other party, more sincere apologies when necessary, more true reactions when wronged or hurt.  Does that mean more drama?  I don't know.  There was just something missing, and my anticipation of learning their story lessened the more I read. 

I will admit that, given how Second Chances ended and the cover copy for Believe, the sequel of sorts, I am anxious to read Believe to revisit these characters.

(A very special thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Second Chances.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: One Wicked Sin by Nicola Cornick

Lottie Palliser was once the toast of the Ton but now is notorious for being divorced—and penniless. Shunned by society and disowned by her family, the destitute beauty is forced to become a courtesan in a Covent Garden bawdy house. Refusing to oblige her customers, Lottie is about to be turned out onto the streets when a dangerous rake saves her with a scandalous offer...
Ethan Ryder is the illegitimate son of an Irish Duke and a circus performer. He rose through the ranks as one of Napoleon's most dashing cavalry officers—until his capture landed him in England as prisoner of war. Now on parole, Ethan is planning his most audacious coup yet. But he needs to create a spectacular diversion. And having infamous Lottie as his mistress will lull everyone into thinking he's busily bedding her instead of plotting deadly treason. Both Lottie and Ethan believe that their cool heads and selfish hearts will give them the upper hand in their ruthlessly passionate union. Yet their unexpected bond will scandalize even them.
Beware of scandalous women...

Sequels typically don't measure up to the first book of a series.  That's my experience anyway; no matter how much I want to like them on their own, for their own measure and delight, it never happens.  That can be true of One Wicked Sin.

We met Lottie Palliser (nee Lottie Cummings) in Whisper of Scandal.  She was Joanna's vapid friend, who became Joanna's husband's lover for a short while.  She is bold, seemingly wanton, and perhaps without a code of common decency (she also throws herself at Joanna's new husband).  When we requaint ourselves with Lottie, she's in a house for courtesans, divorced by her husband for her affairs, so she offers herself in trade with the only skill she has: she's good on her back.

I knew this would be a 'hard sell' to sympathize with Lottie given her behavior in Whisper of Scandal.  The problem is that we don't see Lottie actually suffer for her sins, so to speak.  She's been a courtesan for several months, but the story picks up when Ethan arrives, looking to claim her as his mistress because of her scandalous reputation.  And, boy, does she ever live up to it.  

Along the way, as happens in romance novels, Ethan and Lottie fall in love.  I wasn't unhappy that she found love, just wanted to see her struggle a little bit for it.    

(A very special thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of One Wicked Sin.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Review: A Season of Seduction by Jennifer Haymore

Although the widowed Lady Rebecca has sworn off marriage, men are another matter. London's cold winter nights have her dreaming of warmer pursuits-like finding a lover to satisfy her hungry heart. Someone handsome, discreet, and most importantly as uninterested in marriage as she is. Someone like Jack Fulton.

A known adventurer and playboy, Jack seems like the perfect choice. There's just one problem: Jack isn't interested in an affair. He needs the beautiful, mysterious Lady Rebecca to be his wife. And he doesn't have much time to persuade her. A secret from Jack's past is about to surface, and by Christmas Day he'll be either married to Rebecca or dead.

Continuing with characters from A Hint of Wicked and A Touch of Scandal, Ms. Haymore presents Lady Rebecca Fisk to us for further inspection.  You see, Rebecca has spent four years "on the shelf" believing she's damaged goods because of her marriage to William Fisk and, damn it!, she's going to have an affair.   A glorious affair that will neither infest her body nor her heart.  That's what an affair is -- the joining of a man and a woman in undeniable passion.  The problem is...Becky has spent four years "on the shelf" believing she's damaged goods, so it's difficult for her to approach the concept of an affair as something frivilous or fun.  But Jack Fulton -- oh, Jack -- he's 100% the right man to have an affair with. 

What I loved about A Season of Seduction (besides Jack) is how similar Becky and Jack are.  Truly.  They are opposite sides of the same coin.  That Becky has money and Jack is a third son bears no consequence on their morals, for they have both done something in their respective pasts which they feel guilty for.  That Jack is currently being blackmailed for this bad thing, and that he wants to marry Becky because she can afford to pay the blackmailer, well, Ms. Haymore gives us a glimpse into Jack's psyche as the novel progresses.  Jack Fulton isn't the most tortured hero I've ever read, but he's certainly a doozy. 

I wasn't happy with the ending for the simple fact it meant the book was over.  Lucky for me, Ms. Haymore's next series (previewed at the end of A Season of Seduction) looks to be amazing. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just One Taste Winner!

Congratulations, jeannenewalker!  Thanks to, you've won an autographed copy of JUST ONE TASTE.  I hope you enjoy it!!

And thanks again to Ms. Louisa Edwards!! 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tell Me a Story...

Today, I'm joined by the articulate and awesome Louisa Edwards.  Ms. Edwards first came to my attention with Can't Stand the Heat, and I've been eagerly inhaling reading her contemporary romances ever since. 

What compelled you to write foodie romances? Was it as simple as “writing what you know” or did you stop and wonder why the heck there weren’t more contemporary romances set in the kitchen (things are bound to get hot, you know)?

LOUISA: Both of those reasons played into it, definitely—I’d been reading every chef memoir and kitchen nonfiction title that I could get my hands on, playing around in the kitchen and cooking my way through Julia Child. So when my agent advised me to set aside the paranormal I’d been working on and write something that I felt truly connected to and passionate about, I realized I’d done all the research I needed to write a culinary romance.

And even though I worried it would never sell because there tend to be certain professions we like our heroes to have, and a chef is not a cop, an FBI agent, or a tycoon—still, I thought I couldn’t be the only girl out there swooning over Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, Tyler Florence, Jamie Oliver, Curtis Stone. . . and it turns out, I was right!

I loved Rosemary from Just One Taste. Her stream-of-consciousness conversations and pop culture references made her so relatable, despite the fact that she’d never properly socialized before. How much research did you conduct for her various scientific hypotheses? They sound absolutely perfect coming from her mouth.

LOUISA: Thank you so much! I had a great time with Rosemary, at least in part because I felt very much like a nerd, growing up. I think she’s relatable because we’ve all had those times in our lives when we feel out of step with what the crowd is doing, as if everyone else in the world is happily doing the Macarena while we fumble along, flailing and looking ridiculous.

All of Rosemary’s hypotheses are either random bits of trivia I’ve accumulated over the years, specific information I looked up (I really should’ve thanked Wikipedia in the acknowledgments!) and completely fabricated, totally made up lies. For instance, in case my other disclaimers aren’t clear—there’s no scientific real life evidence of an aphrodisiac connection between chocolate and strawberries. Unless you count the mood they put you in . . .

One of the things I've enjoyed about your series is the reemergence of secondary characters, particularly Frankie and Jess. I’m sure you’re asked about them often, but any chance they’ll pop up again in future books or in their own novella/free read, a la Violet, the pastry chef?

LOUISA: I’m so glad you enjoyed them. Frankie and Jess are some of my favorite characters I’ve ever written, and now that I’ve moved on to writing the Hot trilogy (Too Hot to Touch, Some Like it Hot, and Hot Under Pressure) I have to say, I’m missing them quite a bit! The Hot trilogy takes place in the same world, so familiar faces will be popping up. But as for Frankie and Jess in particular, I’m hoping to have time to write a short free read for their many fans as a holiday gift. Other than that . . . write to my publisher! If enough people want them to have their own book, maybe they’ll let me write it. Goodness knows, I’d love to have the chance.

Can you dish on your upcoming trilogy? Things still coming together in the mix, so to speak?

LOUISA: It’s definitely a work in progress, but the Hot trilogy, which will be released very close together in late summer 2011, consumes my whole imagination right now. The cast of characters has been such a joy to discover and play with—a whole new group of talented young chefs (more women chefs, this time!) are gathering to throw their knives in the ring of a high-stakes culinary competition. Things are getting hot already . . .

Look for an excerpt of the first book in the Hot trilogy, Too Hot to Touch, sometime in the next couple of months! And if that’s too long to wait, I’ll be posting a new installment in the Violet-the-pastry-chef and Jonathan-the-hot-farmer free read series in the next few weeks. Sign up for my newsletter or “Like” my official fan page on Facebook to stay up to date on all the new, fun stuff posted at my website!

And, remember, I have one autographed copy of my new book for one of you today!

Thank you, Ms. Edwards!  I've got your Hot trilogy on my TBR calendar already -- can't wait!

To be entered to win an autographed copy of Just One Taste, please leave a comment with your name and e-mail address.  Contest is open until 2:00 p.m. EST, Friday, October 15, 2010.   

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review: Just One Taste by Louisa Edwards


Bad-boy chef Wes Murphy is dreading his final-semester cooking class—Food Chemistry 101—until he meets the new substitute teacher. Dr. Rosemary Wilkins is a feast for the eyes, though her approach to food is strictly academic. So Wes decides to rattle her Bunsen burner by asking for her hands-on advice—on aphrodisiacs…


Rosemary is a little wary about working with Wes, whose casual flirtations make her hot under the collar. But once they begin testing the love-enhancing power of chocolate, oysters, and strawberries, it becomes scientifically evident that the brainy science nerd and the boyish chef have some major chemistry together—and it’s delicious…

I'll admit, I was skeptical.  I fangirly squealed Can't Stand the Heat, then felt lukewarm toward Too Hot to Handle.  How would I receive Wes, a "new" character at Market and Rosemary, a scientist not even in the restaurant business, the main characters of Just One Taste

Wes...I'll come back to him.  I may have a little girl-crush on Rosemary. How could one not, with little moments like these:

Pulling that sweater over her head and feeling the static electricity lift every stray hair until she must look like Drew Barrymore on the Firestarter posters--it was like girding her loins for battle.

Well.  Not technically.  That would be more like putting on her underwear, since the term "girding one's loins" came from the Roman era, when soldiers would pull up and secure their lower garments in order to increase maneuverability during the heat of battle.

"And now I'm babbling nerviously inside my own head," she said to Lucille, who cocked her ears curiously from her position ensconced like a queen between the pillows mounded on the hotel bed. 

Rosemary took another sip, then another, and another, while she tried to think of something to say.  "Is this small talk?  Are we doing small talk?  Because I don't excel at that."

The corners of Wes's mouth twitched.  Amusement, Rosemary thought.  Which was an improvement on the tense pitch he'd sported there ever since she came in. 

I really wanted to like Wes a little more and wish I could have, if only because I loved Rosemary so much and thought she deserved a worthy hero. 

It's like when a girlfriend has a new boyfriend she's crazy about and you want to like him too, but you don't, despite the fact that, as outward appearances go, he's a very, very nice guy and seems to adore your friend.  Then, he does something so stupid and/or irritating and/or immature, which causes your friend pain, and you swear the next time you see him, you'll kick him in the junk.  Yet, somehow your girlfriend forgives him and takes him back.  So, you know, it's awkward between you and he now, regardless of the fact that he's confessed his wrongs and made amends. 

That's how life currently stands between Wes and I. 

Regardless, I love Ms. Edwards' voice, as well as her lyrical prose -- she has such a way with the English language.  My fingers, legs, and toes are also crossed Frankie and Jess will make an appearance in a future book, so I'm sticking with her romances for the foreseeable future.

(At least until I have the urge to kick another one of her heroes in the junk.) 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cover Love

For him, life is all music and no play... When Brian Sinclair, lead songwriter and guitarist of the hottest metal band on he scene, loses his creative spark, it will take nights of downright sinful passion to release his pent-up genius...

She's the one to call the tune... When sexy psychologist Myrna Evans goes on tour with the Sinners, every boy in the band tries to seduce her. But Brian is the only one she wants to get her hands on...

Then the two lovers' wildly shocking behavior sparks the whole band to new heights of glory...and sin...

Aboard her privateering ship Seaflower, Captain Imena Leung is the law. Ashore she answers only to her employer, Duke Maxime. They are a powerful couple, with an intense attraction neither can disguise or deny. As a nobleman, Maxime is destined to wed strategically, so his seductive advances must be purely for pleasure. And what self-respecting pirate denies herself any pleasure?

Their delicious dalliance is prolonged when Imena is forced to abduct Maxime to foil a political plot against him. At sea, with a stunningly virile man bound in her private quarters, Imena can imagine--and enact--any number of intoxicating scenarios.

The heat between captain and captive is matched only by the perils that beset Seaflower and her crew. Violent storms, marauding corsairs and life-or-death sex games on a desert island--how fortunate for the seemingly insatiable lovers that danger and desire go hand-in-hand.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Chick City 2010 Summer Romance Challenge

My summer was apparently FULL of romance, thanks in part to Book Chick City's Summer Romance Challenge.  Thanks, BCC!  Let's do it again next summer!!

Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas
The Wolf Next Door by Lydia Dare
Crazy for Love by Victoria Dahl
One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare
Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey
Coin Operated by Ginny Glass
Calling the Bluff by Moira Rogers
Sinful by Charlotte Featherstone
Talk Dirty to Me by Ginny Glass and Inez Kelley
Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare
An Earl to Enchant by Amelia Gray
Long Summer Nights by Kathleen O'Reilly
The Wild Marquis by Miranda Neville
Body Rush by Anne Rainey
Hot Finish by Erin McCarthy
Sex and the Single Earl by Vanessa Kelly
Three Nights with a Scoundrel by Tessa Dare
Coming Clean by Inez Kelley
Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt
The Wicked House of Rohan by Anne Stuart
Wanted! by Vicki Lewis Thompson
His Darkest Hunger by Juliana Stone
Ambushed! by Vicki Lewis Thompson
Just One Taste by Louisa Edwards
Whisper of Scandal by Nicola Cornick
One Wicked Sin by Nicola Cornick

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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