Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: Redline Lover / Undercover Lover by Charlene Teglia

When it comes to cars, former race driver Adam Richards knows how to maximize performance. Love? It doesn’t come with a maintenance manual, and it’s just as well. The secrets he’s hiding behind his partnership in a racing garage don’t lend themselves to lasting relationships. Now that Maggie Parker is back in town, though, he’s got a few ideas to make her purr like a finely tuned engine.

Life taught Maggie that men don’t stay. Leaving Adam before he got bored was supposed to protect her from heartbreak…only it didn’t work. If helping her sister was the only reason for coming home, she might have got away unscathed. But the story she’s been assigned to write is going to bring her within scorching distance of her old flame.

Adam is as irresistible as ever—and just as stubborn. He won’t give her a story, but his offer of a no-strings fling is one she can’t refuse. Passion pushes them to the limit, sparking Maggie’s belief that loving Adam is worth the risk.

Until she digs deeper and discovers some things just don’t add up…

The first in the series, I actually read Redline Lover second.  I liked it, and I wanted more of Adam and Maggie.  This is erotica rather than erotic romance, I think, because we don't see Adam and Maggie fall in love -- we see them reconnect with sex.  Lots and lots of sex.  Things move fast between Adam and Maggie, so Redline Lover felt more like a setup of a longer story arc rather than something to be enjoyed and let go of once finished. 

When Anne Parker yanks open her front door, she’s armed and ready to aim cold fury at her ex. Instead, she finds herself staring up at Pete Crenshaw, a man as disarming as he is dangerous to her battered defenses. A man whose touch sends her I-remember-sex hormones soaring into the red zone.

Those hormones sure have picked a hell of a time to surge, though—with New Year’s around the corner and the ex suddenly making noises about worming his way back into her life.

Pete’s been biding his time. More accurately, lying in wait for precisely the right moment to take their relationship from friends to lovers. He’s aware of Anne’s trust issues, but it’s time to make a move before she has a chance to do what she does best—overthink it.

Her ex isn’t just back to make another play, though. He’s after secrets Pete and his partner hide under the cover of their garage business. Pete finds his heart caught between Anne’s safety and the secrets he’s sworn to keep—unless he can find a way to preserve both…

Thanks to Undercover Lover being free for Kindle, I downloaded a copy to my iPhone and was pleasantly surprised.  I've never read Ms. Teglia and because I felt I was missing the bigger picture, I bought Redline Lover too.  My feelings about Undercover Lover is the same song, second verse: Liked it.  Needed more from it.  As there are 2 more installments available from Samhain, I may have to continue this in the hopes of meeting up with Adam, Maggie, Anne, and Pete again.  There's more of their respective stories left to tell (I hope).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review: Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare

The daring members of the Stud Club are reckless gamblers and no strangers to risk—until love raises the stakes in Twice Tempted by a Rogue.

Luck is a double-edged sword for brooding war hero Rhys St. Maur. His death wish went unanswered on the battlefield, while fate allowed the murder of his good friend in the elite gentlemen’s society known as the Stud Club. Out of options, Rhys returns to his ancestral home on the moors of Devonshire, expecting anything but a chance at redemption in the arms of a beautiful innkeeper who dares him to take on the demons of his past—and the sweet temptation of a woman’s love.

Meredith Maddox believes in hard work, not fate, and romance isn’t part of her plan. But when Rhys returns, battle-scarred, world-weary, and more dangerously attractive than ever, the lovely widow is torn between determination and desire. As a deep mystery and dangerous smugglers threaten much more than their passionate reckoning, Meredith discovers that she must trust everything to a wager her heart placed long ago.

For as much as I loved One Dance with a Duke, I felt a bit more lukewarm toward Twice Tempted by a Rogue.   (If memory serves, I had the same experience with the second book of Ms. Dare's previous trilogy.)   The problem is I cannot quite put my finger on what specifically I didn't like. 

Rhys isn't the "average" hero for a historical novel.  He's quiet, not necessarily reserved but not flashy like a true member of the ton.  He doesn't converse or even feel comfortable in society.  He's the muscle, an accurate description given to him in One Dance with a Duke.

And Meredith isn't your "average" heroine.  She's not in danger; she's not seeking a husband.  She's actually quite content with her life and has a plan for the future of the inn she inherited from her late husband.   Despite being relatively happy, she has a problem, though she doesn't know it -- Meredith is wishy-washy.  Now, to be fair, she may not have been wishy-washy until Rhys returns to their small community.  But after it's determined who Rhys is and what his life goals are, boy...

(Okay, maybe Meredith is what I didn't like...)

Rhys and Meredith have moments, serious moments, full of sexual tension, written as only Ms. Dare can write them.  Her prose is so descriptive, so fluid, it's like listening to a symphony.  Each part comes together effortlessly and right on cue.  And it's exactly what you needed, just the right amount, even if you consciously realize.  So while I love (love, love) her writing, Twice Tempted by a Rogue fell flat somewhere along the way.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review: Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

She harbors a secret yearning.

As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or seriously courted…and she has resigned herself to the fate of never finding love. Has the time come for the most unconventional of the Hathaway sisters to settle for an ordinary man — just to avoid spinsterhood?

He is a world-weary cynic.

Captain Christopher Phelan is a handsome, daring soldier who plans to marry Beatrix’s friend, the vivacious flirt Prudence Mercer, when he returns from fighting abroad. But, as he explains in his letters to Pru, life on the battlefield has darkened his soul — and it’s becoming clear that Christopher won’t come back as the same man. When Beatrix learns of Pru’s disappointment, she decides to help by concocting Pru’s letters to Christopher for her. Soon the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher develops into something fulfilling and deep…and when Christopher comes home, he’s determined to claim the woman he loves. What began as Beatrix’s innocent deception has resulted in the agony of unfulfilled love — and a passion that can’t be denied…

The final book featuring the Hathaways, and I'm going to miss them so much.  We've seen Beatrix grow and mature throughout the course of the series, yet she's never lost her naivete or innocence.  As she's grown and watched her sisters (and brother) marry, I wondered if Beatrix would ever find someone to love her for herself, as she was, without trying to change her into what Society deems a proper young woman should be.  I'm so glad she found a tolerant and loving man in Christopher.

Christopher, however, is not without his issues, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder.  The war changed him and while he is a highly decorated soldier, he would love nothing more than to blend in with the woodwork.  Luckily, Beatrix can spot a soul in trouble -- whether human or animal -- and is able to help.

The one aspect I didn't like was the use of 'deception' to describe Beatrix's letters.  Yes, she did sign Prudence's name, per Prudence's request, but I never felt it was Bea's intention to deceive.  She was moved by Christopher's original letter (while Prudence was not), so she resolved to write back to him.  And Beatrix, for all her good intentions, fell in love with Christopher via his letters, then decided to put a stop to the correspondence.  Maybe deceit is too harsh a word, though I cannot think of another to replace it.

Still, I've enjoyed the Hathaways and will certainly miss them.  An excellent series by an amazing historical romance author.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: Talk Dirty to Me by Ginny Glass and Inez Kelley

"Tell me what you want. Talk dirty to me."

Biologist Nora MacGregor is frantic when she loses her dissertation notes on female sexuality-and some very personal fantasies. Then a sinful stranger calls with a wicked proposition: if she talks dirty to him, he'll return her notes, page by page. "James" allows Nora to explore her deepest desires and challenges her clinical ideas about sex. But James can't give her the loving touches she finds in her budding relationship with Dr. Jarod Reed.

Jarod seized an opportune moment to fulfill his desire for Nora by becoming the mysterious James. While the anonymous, erotic phone sessions are unforgettable, Jarod longs to tell Nora he wants more than just talk. But how can he confess his deception without it costing him the chance to make their fantasies a reality?

When I finished this novella, my initial thought was "What?"  Then, when I read it a second time, I revised that notion to "I need more!"  Both are true, for what it's worth -- I couldn't believe the novella ended in the manner it did and, because it ended in the manner that it did, I needed more. Quite the pickle...

This is a sexy, little contemporary, a quick read, but one that I enjoyed very much -- twice!  Looking forward to more books from this writing duo and more Dirty Laundry.

(A special thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Talk Dirty to Me.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Review: Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey

When Keri Daniels' editor finds out she has previous carnal knowledge of reclusive bestselling author Joe Kowalski, she gives Keri a choice: get an interview or get a new job.

Joe's never forgotten the first girl to break his heart, so he's intrigued to hear Keri's back in town—and looking for him. Despite his intense need for privacy, he'll grant Keri an interview if it means a chance to finish what they started in high school.

He proposes an outrageous plan—for every day she survives with his family on their annual camping and four-wheeling trip, Keri can ask one question. Keri agrees; she's worked too hard to walk away from her career.

But the chemistry between them is still as potent as the bug spray, Joe's sister is out to avenge his broken heart and Keri hasn't ridden an ATV since she was ten. Who knew a little blackmail, a whole lot of family and some sizzling romantic interludes could make Keri reconsider the old dream of Keri & Joe 2gether 4ever.

Never having read a book by Ms. Stacey, I wasn't certain what to expect.  Once I finished Exclusively Yours, I shouldn't have worried.

What a wonderful story.  Sweet, a little bit sexy, yet wholeheartedly (and wholly) passionate.  Real characters and true-to-life situations (with the exception of Joe's ex-girlfriend, because that seems somewhat ... odd ...).  This is one of those stories that sticks with you, minor issues and all, long after the end.  I enjoyed it very much. 

And where is the sequel featuring Joe's little brother, Kevin? 

(Thanks to NetGalley and Carina Press for providing me with an ARC of this novel.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Review: Sinful by Charlotte Featherstone

In Victorian England, vice of every kind can be purchased, and Matthew, the Earl of Wallingford, makes certain he avails himself of every possible pleasure. Bored and jaded, he is as well-known for his coldness as for his licentious affairs with beautiful women.

While these numerous dalliances fulfill Matthew's every physical need, they secretly leave him numb and emotionally void. Until one night when he finds himself beaten, eyes bandaged and in the care of a nurse with the voice of an angel—and a gentle touch that soothes the darkness in him and makes him yearn for more.

Yet Jane Rankin is a lowly nurse, considered shy and plain by most. There is no place for her amongst the lords and ladies of the aristocracy—despite Matthew's growing craving for the fire that burns behind her earnest facade. And then there is Matthew's secret. A secret so humiliating and scandalous it could destroy everyone he loves. A sin, he fears, not even the love of a good woman can take away…

After reading Addicted, I couldn't wait to crack open Sinful.  Ms. Featherstone's prose so lush, her heroes so tortured -- it makes me absolutely giddy to read more books written by her.   We first meet Matthew, Earl of Wallingford, in Addicted, and he's such a coldhearted, aloof bastard.  There's a distinct edge to him which we certainly learn more about in Sinful.

Wallingford isn't like his friend Lindsay.  Oh yes, he's damaged goods, angry, smug, almost drowning in self-hate, but he hates others too: his father, his step-mother.  So he lives life in total debauchery, until a mugging leaves him temporarily blinded and in the care of Jane Rankin.

Jane is intrigued by Matthew and how someone of such obvious quality ended up in the hospital where she works at night.  When they meet in real life once Matthew has recuperated, she doesn't meet Matthew; she meets the Earl of Wallingford. 

Tension is high between them, yet Jane is able to break into Wallingford's heart.  He is better for it, and worse for it.

While not a page-turner like Addicted, Sinful does grip the reader, specifically with all the peeling away of Wallingford until he's simply Matthew.  And I was so pleased to read the additional epilogue available to Ms. Featherstone's newsletter subscribers.

(A special Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Sinful.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tell Me a Story...

I'm thrilled to be joined today by Inez Kelley and Ginny Glass.  Ms. Kelley and Ms. Glass have written a very hot little series for Carina Press called Dirty Laundry, and they were gracious enough to accept my request for an interview.  So, without further adieu --

How did you come together as writing partners?

GIN: Actually, we met at Romance Divas (a writer’s forum) and we just clicked. We’re both pretty similar – filthy minded strumpets and serious jokesters.
INEZ: Not me, I am innocent as a newborn baby… something. She lured me to the darkside with cookies.

The inspiration behind the Dirty Laundry series is...?

GIN: All the secret, naughty, angsty things that people keep hidden – wanting the taboo person, craving the kinky sex, giving in to the love that you’re scared to ask for.
INEZ: The idea of romance shorts around a laundry setting was the brainchild of someone I have forgotten. At one time, there were several authors who wanted to contribute. I was asked to join and brought Gin into it. (Okay, so I lured her, fine, have it the truthful way) Then for various reasons, everyone abandoned the project. But Gin and I stayed. We liked our stories too much, made them hotter and deeper and knew we had a good thing on our hands.

What do you like best about the partnership? 

GIN: Everything. Inez is hilarious, brilliant, encouraging, brilliant, dedicated, and brilliant. She’s not just my writing partner, she’s an amazing friend, great sounding board and fabulous person.
INEZ: What Gin said

And worst?

GIN: Hours. I work a crazy busy day job and I would love to dedicate myself to writing during the day time. As it is, I’m squeezing every possible writing moment out of my nights and weekends.
INEZ: Never enough time. The two of us have a million ideas and like 15 minutes of time.  I think Gin needs to come down with a serious case of the bubonic plague when my kids’ school year starts and stay home for like a month to recuperate. Yeah, that sounds about right.  *snicker*

Ms. Kelley has written the final novella of the Dirty Laundry series.  Tell me a little bit about that.

GIN: It’s hot. Like burn-your-screen hot. I’ll let Inez give you the details – I think my glasses just fogged up answering this question.
 INEZ: Oh, well. I can share a bit.
The title is COMING CLEAN and it is a m/m/f ménage. Yeah, boy parts touch. Boy howdy do they touch! But it is real, too. Any married couple has issues to overcome when they open their bed to a third and Grant and Vivi are no different. Vivi worries she could lose her husband to his lifelong friend, the one who has been secretly in love with him for years. As a straight man, Grant has to re-evaluate his sexual boundaries and define what he can and can’t do. Their best friend Cade has his own insecurities as well. He knows he is an outsider and may screw something up by screwing his friends.

It is a whole plethora of secrets revealed and as the tag line says, COMING CLEAN never felt so good.

Oh, and if you have a minute, check out this page! It gives the rundown on all the Dirty Laundry Stories to date!

Any plans for additional co-writing productions?  What's next on the horizon for your individual writing careers?

GIN: I think we have at least three more Dirty Laundry books in various stages – another cowrite and two more solo books. Who knows after that?  I have a full-length fun contemporary going out for submissions, a paranormal project waiting in line and a zillion other ideas! I even might talk Inez into ANOTHER themed series.

INEZ: Wait, what? I knew about the Dirty Laundry series additions. I have my own full lengths gnawing at me-- a final in my fantasy series and a few contemporaries. A new series? Themed? … hmm… Here, have a cookie and tell me more, Ginny.

Aren't they fun?  Thanks again, ladies!  I'm looking forward to Coming Clean and more Dirty Laundry in the future.  

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review: Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas

He is everything she wants to avoid…

For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters — a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges’ older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response — and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.

She is not at all what she seems…

Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine’s respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever — unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires…
Leo Hathaway, meet Hugh Grant; Mr. Grant, meet Leo Hathaway, Lord Ramsey.  I think the two of you would get along smashingly. 

Now that the introductions are complete, let's get down to brass tacks: discovering exactly what Leo and Catherine Marks have to talk about when we last saw them in Tempt Me at Twilight.  I literally screamed when that moment arose.  Leo had been so guarded, flip at times yes, but deeply hurt and troubled by the circumstances that have befallen his family, especially those caused somewhat by him.  Marks is someone he loves to antagonize; he loves to see her riled up.  And you know what's said about boys who tease certain girls...

Catherine Marks has a secret, two of them actually. Well, maybe three, because she doesn't like the feelings she's been feeling for Leo.  This moment seals the deal, so to speak:

Their cantankerous relationship could not resume as usual after something like this. It had been set on a new track with an unknown destination, and Leo was certain that neither of them were going to like where it led.

One reason I thought Leo and Hugh would be perfect together is thanks in part to lines like this:

"Tell me our legal issues. And use small words. I don't like to think at this hour of the morning. It hurts."

I so enjoyed Leo and Cat's romance, and am looking forward to what I assume will be the final Hathaway book, Love in the Afternoon, but how I'm going to miss them!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cover Love

When you have no alternative, then you call in L.O.S.T. Because with the Last Option Special Team, it’s do or die. . . . 

It’s Jax Cassidy’s first mission for L.O.S.T.—one that will give the former cop who went rogue a chance to prove herself. Her assignment: gain the trust of assassin Marcus Cross . . . eliminate him . . . then take down Marcus’s mentor, Joseph Lazarus, a man with a bold eye on the White House. But the woman who’s known by her team for being a femme fatale succumbs to passion, only to discover Cross’s deadly secret. He’s a vampire, and Joseph Lazarus is his creator.

Left for dead by his platoon in the violent hills of Afghanistan, Special Ops sniper Marcus Cross was given a second chance at life. His newly heightened skills make him the perfect killing machine, and as Lazarus’s right-hand man, he’s quickly rising to the top of his dark empire, purging enemies with speed and precision. Only when dangerous beauty Jax Cassidy is sent to bring him in does he begin to question Lazarus’s motives and his own actions. But when Jax’s life is threatened by the one thing that can destroy them both, Marcus must make a bitter choice—her death or his.

Ambitious and feisty Josephine “Joss” O’Malley has spent years fighting to keep her mother’s map-making company alive. Just when she finds herself considering taking a risky next step with bad-boy entrepreneur Rogan Reynolds— whose generosity has helped keep the business afloat—Joss meets dark and mysterious Hugh Hawksmoor. Hugh’s deft touch and old-world seduction stir Joss’s desires like a storm at sea, and she has no clue that he has sailed three hundred years into the future to avenge the death of his brother at the hands of her father. Or that she holds the key to a map that will help him undo the destructive changes her father wrought in the past. When Hugh lures Joss into a treacherous journey through time, there’s not a twenty-first-century trick that can save her. But when she applies her own instincts to a course she thought was set, she discovers that the high seas hold some scandalous surprises.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Review: Coin Operated by Ginny Glass

Elijah Elliot and Beatrix London's fledgling ad agency is under siege. Not from outside competition but by Eli and Bea's unspoken lust for each other. As their unsatisfied cravings to dominate and submit bloom into vivid daydreams, the office becomes a minefield of frustrated needs and dangerous desires. Now something's gotta give or their partnership is going to self-destruct.

When Bea unveils a racy new light bondage ad campaign for their key client, she pushes Eli to cross the line he's drawn between them—the one that keeps him from doing all the hot, sinful things she imagines he's capable of...

I wasn't certain what to expect from Ms. Glass.  A debut author, an unknown -- a lot of variables that could backfire.  Ultimately, I believe she'll be an author to watch.  Coin Operated, however, left me asking "And then?" and wanting more from Eli and Bea.  

The prose wasn't as emotional or as intense as I thought it might be, given the layers of BDSM in the novella.  There were moments, of course, early on -- during their respective fantasies, specifically -- when I believed in their connection and desire for one another.  When I reached the end though, I didn't feel 100% fulfilled; I felt like something was still missing.  Maybe I wanted to see their continued exploration of Eli's and Bea's relationship in and out of the office, I'm not sure.  That being said, I'll certainly read Ms. Glass' next release and hope to see more from her in the future (straight-up sexy contemporary, perhaps?). 

(Thanks to NetGalley and Carina Press for providing me with an ARC of this release.)
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