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

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review: Whisper of Scandal by Nicola Cornick

One whisper of scandal and a reputation dies…
Lady Joanna Ware is the darling of the Ton, a society hostess who has put behind her the misery of her unhappy marriage to a philanderer. Until her late husband bequeaths to her joint care of his illegitimate child…

Alexander, Lord Grant, is an explorer lauded as a hero and adventurer. He scorns the Ton and wants no family ties. Until his best friend bequeaths to him joint care of his illegitimate child…

Joanna and Alex disagree from the moment they first meet, so how are they ever to stay civil long enough to join forces and rescue the orphaned baby girl? Saving Nina takes them from the celebrity salons and balls of Regency London to the frozen wastes of the North Pole and tests both of them - and their emotions - to the very limit. For what will happen when their bitter hostility turns to an equally passionate desire?

Beware of scandalous women...

At first glance, Whisper of Scandal is a classic he said/she said book.  The she in question is Lady Joanna Ware; the he, her deceased husband, Lord David Ware, Alexander's best friend.  Alex believes everything David ever said about his marriage and almost nothing Joanna says in defense or rebuttal.  So Joanna leaves him to his incorrect and biased opinions.  She's content to never see him again until David manages to toss them together via a guardianship for his illegitimate daughter.  Only then does Alex begin to see David -- and Joanna -- in a new light.

Desperate for a child, even an illegitimate one, Joanna spares no expense in seeking to retrieve the girl from her homeland.  Joanna's progress is hampered, naturally, by Alex, who believes she's not fit to take such a voyage on her own. Following a run-in with her late husband's heir, Joanna proposes she and Alex marry, an action that would help both of them equally (she would be given the protection of Alex's name, and he could count on her to provide an adequate home environment for his underage cousin, Chessie, and perhaps an heir).  When they do marry, I immediately thought of Alex's earlier statement to his cousin Devlin:

I would make the devil of a husband.

I knew then that Alex and Joanna would find their way into one another's hearts. 

The truths that confront them on their journey to the North Pole do test their new marriage and their unconfessed love, and their respective paths toward this love, particularly Joanna's, are so heartbreaking.  A lovely, lovely historical romance not to be missed. 

(Special thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Whisper of Scandal.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Review: Ambushed by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Morgan O'Connelli hated the restless lifestyle she'd had as a child. All she wants now is to create a real home in small-town Wyoming. So first she hangs up her real-estate agent shingle…then she promptly borrows the horse of the hottest cowboy in town!

Cutting-horse champion Gabe Chance is blown away by the feisty redhead who unexpectedly lands right in his bed…and, soon enough, his heart! Morgan's perfect for him in every way. Until he realizes that while she's turned out to be everything he never knew he wanted, he's got everything someone in her profession has ever wanted…his family's ranch.

And that's a legacy he's just not willing to give up—not even for the sexiest woman he's ever fallen for….

Gabe is totally ambushed throughout this novel: first by his brother, Jack; then by his mother, Sarah; then by old friend, Morgan, a spitfire who's completely his type.  (Morgan is described as top-heavy, yet I found myself wondering just how top-heavy she was, and if she might be a full-figured woman.  I imagine she's not, though that's something I'd love to see more of in romance novels.)

A few days into their relationship, lots of assumptions about their future are being tossed about, from Jack, Sarah, and even Gabe and Morgan.  Her resolve to not get married and have children based on her family life is a big issue, one that she seems completely set on following, going so far as to break up with Gabe.  Then Gabe, after a discussion with a drunk Jack, decides to tell Morgan they could have children together or not have children together, but they'll continue living in the same town thereby not repeating her family's pattern of living in a caravan.  And Morgan is a-okay with this! 

I can understand Morgan's desire not to want her children to grow up as she grew up, always on the go, a new town every year or two.  However, it irritated my feminist sensabilities when Gabe tells her they'll stay put after they're married, and she's suddenly willing to forget (or ignore) all the thoughts she's had during the course of the book about not maintaining -- or starting -- a long-term relationship with Gabe.  I wish she'd stuck to her guns a little more, given that this is the second in a three-book series, but I realize the final book is reserved for Jack's and Josie's romance, so we needed a complete HEA here for Morgan and Gabe.  And since they're planning their wedding in two weeks, I imagine they'll get it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review: His Darkest Hunger by Juliana Stone

Jaxon Castille: jaguar shifter, warrior, assassin. He has long hungered for the chance to make his former lover, Libby Jamieson, pay for her deadly betrayal. After three long years he's finally found her. The hunt is over . . .

But the Libby that he finds is not what he expected. She has no memory of their tumultuous affair, of her treachery, of anything beyond her own name. A shadowy and deadly clan has marked them both for death, and in an instant, he game changes: the hunter has become the hunted.

On the run, with the ghosts of their past between them and a dark, desperate hunger quickly reclaiming their bodies and souls, Libby and Jaxon must discover the truth behind the dark forces working against them. Together, they must grab hold of a destiny that has the power to either heal them or destroy them.

But the truth is far more shattering than anyone could imagine . . .

I was really surprised by how quickly I fell into this book.  There's action, adventure and intrigue almost immediately -- something I really look for in my paranormal romances since becoming tired of them (due to overindulgence) in 2007.  Beyond the standard vampire or shifter sub-genres, I hadn't anticipated any other kind of shifter, which is what drew my initially attention to His Darkest Hunger

There are some slow spots in the middle, particularly where Jaxon and Libby are fighting their respective attractions for (and love of) the other.  Just admit it, already!  You're hot for one another and in lurve.  Another problem I had was the ending.  Yes, there are two more books in this series, but there was no wrap-up or sense of closure for this book.  The secondary characters were interesting, so my fingers are crossed they will remain on the scene throughout the series.  I do hope that we're clued in on what happened three years earlier, the singular event which prompts Jaxon's vendetta against Libby. 

All in all, a pretty good debut for a new author. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review: Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt

From the New York Times bestselling author of To Desire a Devil comes this thrilling tale of danger, desire, and dark passions.


Infamous for his wild, sensual needs, Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, is searching for a savage killer in St. Giles, London's most notorious slum. Widowed Temperance Dews knows St. Giles like the back of her hand-she's spent a lifetime caring for its inhabitants at the foundling home her family established. Now that home is at risk . . .


Caire makes a simple offer-in return for Temperance's help navigating the perilous alleys of St. Giles, he will introduce her to London's high society so that she can find a benefactor for the home. But Temperance may not be the innocent she seems, and what begins as cold calculation soon falls prey to a passion that neither can control-one that may well destroy them both.

Ms. Hoyt is on my automatic buy list because she never fails to disappoint.  I love the fairy tale inserts, the hero's and heroine's interactions, and the sexual tension between them -- Hoyt is a master at sexual tension, I think.  While it took me a little longer to get into this book, the end was well worth it, especially for moments like these between Temperance and Claire.

"Flattered though I am by your martyrish impulses, Mrs. Dews, I have no need of your help. Bed and a brandy will no doubt see me right."

"Really?" Temperance eyed the idiot man, swaying on his own doorstep. Sweat dripped down his reddened face, the hair at his temples was plastered to his head, and he literally shook against her.

In one swift move, Temperance elbowed him in his wounded shoulder.

"God's blood!" Lord Caire doubled over, choking.

"You," gasped Lord Caire, "are a vindictive harpy, madam."

"No need to thank me," Temperance said sweetly. "I'm merely doing my Christian duty."

"Why?" she asked urgently. "Why did you make me watch? Why me?"

"Because," he murmured, "you draw me. Because you are kind but not soft. Because when you touch me, the pain is bittersweet. Because you cradle a desperate secret to your bosom, like a viper in your arms, and don't let go of it even as it gnaws upon your very flesh. I want to pry that viper from your arms. To suckle upon your torn and bloody flesh. To take your pain within myself and make it mine."

It was strange. Another man had just kissed her on the mouth, but this pressing of lips with Caire was entirely different. His mouth was firm and warm, his lips stubbornly closed against hers. She placed her hands on his wide shoulders for leverage and leaned a little closer. She could smell some kind of exotic spice on his skin--perhaps he'd rubbed it on after shaving--and his mouth tasted of heady wine. She licked the seam of his lips, once, gently.

(See the sexual tension??? Amazing, heady stuff!)

I cannot help but hope we see Temperance's sister Silence again in the series, whether it be with her own book or as a minor character.  Such a strong woman with a great sense of love and a moral compass to be named Silence.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cover Love

To most people, the realm of magic is the stuff of nursery rhymes and dusty libraries. But for Capt. Gabriel Huntley, it's become quite real and quite dangerous...

In Hot Pursuit...

The vicious attack Capt. Gabriel Huntley witnesses in a dark alley sparks a chain of events that will take him to the ends of the Earth and beyond—where what is real and what is imagined become terribly confused. And frankly, Huntley couldn't be more pleased. Intrigue, danger, and a beautiful woman in distress—just what he needs.

In Hotter Water...

Raised thousands of miles from England, Thalia Burgess is no typical Victorian lady. A good thing, because a proper lady would have no hope of recovering the priceless magical artifact Thalia is after. Huntley's assistance might come in handy, though she has to keep him in the dark. But this distractingly handsome soldier isn't easy to deceive...

Sassy, beautiful Fia MacLean wants nothing more than to leave Scotland for London and present her plays to Queen Elizabeth. However, the very night she attempts to run away from Duart Castle and her overprotective cousin, Laird Duncan MacLean, she knocks Thomas Wentworth, an English earl on a spy mission, right off a window ledge, and the two begin a journey toward love. Though some elements will be confusing for new readers, anyone can appreciate the espionage subplot and the delightful banter between spitfire Fia and quick-tongued Thomas. Colorful secondary characters, especially Thomas's bombastic best friend, add humor and charm. An open ending may strike some readers as weak, but others will be moved to seek out Hawkins's MacLean Curse and Hurst Amulet series, to which this is a prequel.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review: Tempting the Fire by Sydney Croft



Deep in the Brazilian rain forest, a team of Navy SEALs has been nearly wiped out by something sinister and superhuman, sending shock waves through the Agency for Covert Rare Operatives (ACRO). Now ACRO agents Sela Kahne and Marlena West head to the world’s most unforgiving jungle to find and kill a mythical monstrosity with a taste for human blood. But to succeed in their mission, they will need the help of two men, each hiding his own dark secret.

Sela is an expert on cryptozoology with a sideline skill that could prove invaluable: When she makes love to a man, she engulfs his innermost thoughts. Teamed with Marlena, Sela makes contact with the lone SEAL survivor, Chance McCormack. Meanwhile, Logan Mills, the man who rescued Chance, leads his private company on a hunt that has nothing to do with saving lives. Soon, Sela will put her supernatural charms to work on Logan, determined to extract information about the creature they are seeking. But in this sweat-drenched realm of danger and deception, Logan is more than just a passive target. He has the power to lead a highly trained seducer into a jungle without any rules, without any limits—and with no end to the heat.

And this is a very good story.  Whew.  I was worried after my less than happy thoughts about Taming the Fire.  For whatever reason, I didn't enjoy it, so I was skeptical about Tempting the Fire.  (From a money standpoint, it's hard for me to convince myself to spend $15 on a book when I wasn't gung-ho about the previous book, no matter how much I've enjoyed the author's other offerings.)  Tempting the Fire, however, likens back to the first three books of Ms. Croft's series, and the result is scorching. 

We're introduced to new ACRO agent, Sela.  She's an interesting mix of confident and timid.  When she's paired with Marlena for an operation to the Brazilian rain forest, well, Sela believes Marlena will work sexual magic while she uses her smarts to obtain ACRO's desired result.  The mission, of course, isn't that simple.

As we go back and forth between Sela, Marlena, Chance and Logan, we're reunited with Annika and Creed.  [This may have been what Taming the Fire was missing: a core couple from one of the first three books, characters we already knew and were interested in.]  Their relationship has never been easy, though that's part of their charm.  Add Annika's involvement in Sela's and Marlena's mission, and things get dicey quickly.

If you're a fan of the paranormal (and some mighty sexy romance), I wholeheartedly suggest this author.  It's action from the word Go, whether that be on the battlefield or in the bedroom.
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