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.
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