Friday, July 29, 2011

Eagerly Anticipating


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: What a Goddess Wants by Stephanie Julian


Tessa, Etruscan Goddess of the Dawn, is losing her powers and now there's an Underworld god determined to run her down. She needs a hero and fast, because only sexual energy can give her power. So she seeks out Caligo, whose sexual prowess is legendary...


Caligo is a fabled Cimmerian warrior determined to stay away from spoiled goddesses who trample hearts after they've had their fun. But there's something irresistibly hot and inviting about Tessa and he knows he's her only change to escape the encroaching darkness...

I've never read Ms. Julian's work, so I was happy to give this erotic paranormal a try.  And when I say erotic, I mean erotic.  Cal finds an sleeping Tessa in his house, where he proceeds to strip her naked and tie her up...and the sex doesn't slow down.  It wasn't necessarily out of place within Tessa's and Cal's growing relationship -- the pair also uses sex to "recharge" Tessa, so to speak -- but at times I felt it wasn't necessary for the plot and would have almost preferred conversations to the loss of clothing. 

I did enjoy the world Ms. Julian created with the Etruscan goddesses, and I hope to learn more about them and the secondary cast of characters in future books of this trilogy.  What a Goddess Wants is a lighter paranormal where there is the threat of death, but it's an not overwhelming fear, though it is what brings Tessa and Cal together in the first place.  It's a quick read with a lot of sex and a bit of conflict.  Mix them together and you've got a lot of fun. 

(A very special thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca who provided me with an ARC of What a Goddess Wants.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Burning Down the Spouse by Dakota Cassidy

If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen...the latest from national bestselling author Dakota Cassidy!

After discovering that her famous chef husband was cheating, Frankie Bennett lost her mind-on live TV. Now Frankie is broke, unemployed, and hiding out in her aunt's retirement village. That is, until Maxine Henderson-Barker-reformed trophy wife and owner of Trophy Jobs Inc. employment agency-arrives to give Frankie a much needed kick in the pants.

Soon, Frankie lands a job as a prep chef at a Greek diner in New Jersey, home to the world's best meatloaf and an owner who resembles an exquisitely chiseled Greek statue. Falling into bed with Nikos isn't the best idea, but after years of living in a man's shadow, this ex- trophy wife is ready to get busy cooking...

The second in the Ex-Trophy Wives series, Burning Down the Spouse might be better that You Dropped a Blonde on Me.  Perhaps I sympathized more with Frankie and her live television freak-out on the set of her ex-husband's cooking show.  The set-up is similar to You Dropped a Blonde on Me in the guise of a cheating spouse, but Frankie and her reaction (both to the cheating and the "tabloid scandal" that followed) put her in a better light than when I read about Maxine's plight in comparison.

As Frankie regains her confidence, she holds her own in any situation, be it listening to Maxine's crazy advice, Jasmine's unusual friendship, or Nikos' (and his family).  Where can I find a Voula of my own?

I had to roll my eyes at the "Big Misunderstanding" between Frankie and Nikos, though it did lower Nikos' perfection a bit, so maybe he needed to be taken down a notch.  But I loved that Frankie plotted and planned in order to clear her name. And the subplot romance between Jasmine and Simon -- more please!

I cannot wait to see who will be the next member of the Ex-Trophy Wife club.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: Linette, the Lioness by Lavinia Kent

Regency England just got real(ity)

Episode 2: The One with the Fake Baby

Rumors abound – everyone has heard that Linnette, the Dowager Duchess of Doveshire is pregnant. Beautiful, young, with more freedom than any respectable woman should want, Linnette is no stranger to a little gossip. But her friends can’t help her brave the fallout, because this time Linnette has done something naughty…

Linette, the Dowager Duchess of Doveshire, is haunted by the scandal sheets proclaiming that she's pregnant.  Her lover, James, the new Duck of Doveshire, doesn't know anything about the rumors, only that he has Linette in his life again after an eight-year absence, and he means to keep her there.   

The novella is bookended by The Maids, so we're given a recap of sorts at the beginning and a foreshadowing of who the next novella will feature at the end.  There's "staged" drama, thanks to Linette and her rivalry with Elizabeth, and while it doesn't ring as true as it would on the television series, its intended meaning is there (which also lends a bit of comic relief).

Another great installment of The Real Duchesses of London!

(A very special thank you to  Avon, Harper Collins and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Linette, the Lioness.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: Kathryn, the Kitten by Lavinia Kent

Regency England just got real(ity)

Episode 1: How Kathryn Got Her Passion Back

Kathryn, Duchess of Harrington, has the perfect life: a handsome duke for a husband, riches to spare, a house in Mayfair, and the right group of friends. The only thing she doesn’t have is her husband in her bed. But she’s about to change that. Enlisting the aid of her best friend, Linnette, who knows about these things even though she’s a duchess herself, Kathryn begins her seduction plan.

But Linnette knows a secret and it involves Kathryn’s husband. And, when that comes out, Kathryn’s marriage isn’t the only thing at stake. Can you say Afternoon Tea Catfight?

This novella certainly piqued that part of my brain which deems it necessary to watch reruns of "The Real Housewives of Orange County".  It was a fun and a quick read, and I'm looking forward to discovering who is behind the paintings of the respective Duchesses.

There is drama -- real and enhanced -- just like in the "Real Housewives" television series as well as catty smugness displayed by various characters a historical romance reader may not be used to.  That's part of the fun, I think, especially if you've found yourself pulled in by any of the television installments.  The narrative addition of The Maids helps to keep the mysteries and the plot moving; I wonder if any of them will be featured in another Avon Impulse series. 

This novella and perhaps the series is perfect for summer reading entertainment. 

(A very special thank you to Avon, Harper Collins and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Kathryn, the Kitten.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review: Going Cowboy Crazy by Katie Lane


Faith Aldridge wants answers. Bramble, Texas is the only place she can find them . . . as well as Hope, the identical twin sister she never knew she had. But the townsfolk reckon that shy city-girl Faith is really her long-lost sister Hope, back in Bramble at last. And they're fixin' to do whatever it takes to heat things up between her and Hope's long-time flame, Slate Calhoun. If that means rustling her car, spreading rumors like wildfire, and reining in some explosive secrets, well, there's no way like the Lone Star way . . .

But Slate's no fool. The woman in his truck may look like Hope, yet the way she feels in his arms is altogether new. He's determined to keep this twin in his bed and out of his heart. Trouble is, the real Hope is headed home, and she's got her own designs on Slate. If Faith wants to avoid heartbreak, she'll have to show a certain ruggedly handsome cowboy that this crazy-impossible love is worth fighting for.

Bramble, Texas, is a small, small, small town, and Faith Aldridge has come there for some answers about her past.  The townsfolk recognize her immediately -- she's the spitting image (aside from her haircut) of her twin, Hope, who's Bramble's sweetheart -- and they are so happy to have Hope back from her five-year stay in Hollywood.  Since they finally have Hope where they want her, they scheme to keep her in Bramble and to marry her high school sweetheart, Slate Calhoun.

Slate is surprised to see "Hog" returned, with a spiffy new haircut, but once he kisses her, he realizes "Hope" isn't who she says she is.  He just cannot stay away from her, which surprises both of them (well, all of them, once the real Hope arrives in Bramble). 

Gone Cowboy Crazy was a fun contemporary romance, though there were eye-rolling moments along the way.  I never thought of Slate as a cowboy, regardless of the fact he favors Western wear shirts, so the title is a bit misleading.  The blind eye the inhabitants of Bramble turns to the fact that Faith is not Hope yet they continue to call her Hope despite being corrected numerous times, and the "big misunderstanding" which drives Faith from Bramble were a little frustrating, but I can recognize the Faith/Hope "confusion" is for comic effect.

And please tell me that D.J. Qualls is not the perfect Kenny Gene.

(A very special thank you to Love To Read for Fun, Forever, and Hachette Book Group who sponsored the contest in which I won a copy of Going Cowboy Crazy.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review: Notorious by Nicola Cornick

When the ton's most notorious heartbreaker…

Dangerously seductive and sinfully beautiful, Susanna Burney is society's most sought after matchbreaker. Paid by wealthy parents to part unsuitable couples, she's never yet failed to accomplish her mission of diverting a groom-to-be. Until her final assignment brings her face-to-face with the man who'd once taught her an intimate lesson in heartache….

Meets London's most disreputable rake…

James Devlin has everything he's always wanted: a title, a rich fiancĂ©e and a place in society. But the woman who's just met his eyes across a crowded ballroom threatens it all. Not because she'd once claimed his heart, or that every sinuous swirl of her ball gown takes his breath away. But because the secrets she carries could cost him everything. To put the past to rest once and for all, Dev just might have to play Susanna at her own wicked game….
Let the seduction begin!

For the past two years, he's been celibate and engaged to Lady Emma Brooke, thanks in part to her dowry and connections, both of which can provide a stable life for Devlin and his sister, Francesca.  When he's introduced to Lady Caroline Carew, he's very surprised to be reacquainted with his ex-wife whom he thought to be deceased, Susanna Burney.  Susanna as Lady Carew has set her cap for Francesca's intended, Fitzwilliam Alton.

The years apart, a supposed annulment, and a purported death do nothing to diminish the passion between Devlin and Susanna.  Because he values his sister's happiness above all else -- even above his own -- Devlin is tasked with keeping Lady Carew distanced from Fitz in order that Chessie may solidify her claim to his heart.  Unfortunately, Fitz's parents do not want a marriage between their only son and Chessie, which is why they hired Susanna to seduce him away.  It's relatively easy for Susanna to accomplish this task, given that Fitz is spoiled and conceited and not good enough for Chessie.  That Susanna and Devlin cannot stay away from one another while she hopes to gain and keep Fitz's favors matters not.

She had a body made for sin and he would take it and tomorrow he would send her back to Fitz knowing that she bore the marks of his possession on her...

I had feared the subplot featuring Chessie would be more sinister in nature and while it was a means to an end, I don't pretend to suppose she will be completely happy with her life.

It was so nice to visit the scandalous ladies (and men) of the ton again after an eight-month absence, and I'm looking forward to doing so again with Desired (November 2011).   

(A very special thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Notorious.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cover Love

England, 1888. The trees are green, the birds are singing, and in 200 years demons will destroy it all. Unless Joan, a rough-around-the-edges assassin from the future, can take out the dark magician responsible. But to get close to her target she'll need help learning how to fit into society.
Simon has his own reasons for wanting to destroy Alex Reynell, and Joan may be his perfect revenge. But as each day passes, Simon is less sure he wants her anywhere near Reynell. Because no spell in the world will save his future if she isn't in it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: Taken by Fire by Sydney Croft



A product of genetic manipulation, Melanie Milan shares a body with her malevolent sister, Phoebe. A sleek, blond predator with a heart of pure darkness, Phoebe puts their body through the wicked underbelly of sex for thrills—when she’s not igniting her pyrokinetic skills for an evil organization bent on taking over the world. Melanie rarely gets out to play—much less fall in love. But that changes when rival ACRO agent Stryker Wills shows up, with a mission to terminate the woman who torched his partner.

An operative with rare abilities, Stryker soon realizes that the woman he’s about to kill isn’t the murderous fire starter he’s been hunting. But he does want her. Melanie, with the power to ice anything in her path, is heating things up in ways that are setting fire to his blood. As long as Melanie stays in control, she is his best ally to bring down her sister and stop hellish havoc from being unleashed. Walking a tightrope of longing and hate, Stryker and Melanie begin to understand that true power lies in sweet surrender to each other, to the flames between them, to the erotic adventure that’s joined their hearts and abilities to become their salvation—and perhaps the world’s.

What a great ending to a remarkable series!

When I first read Riding the Storm, I was shocked -- in a good way -- about the erotic nature of the story.  It wasn't what I'd expected at all.  But it was so.  Very.  Good.

As this series progressed, we're introduced to more characters within the ACRO world, characters I came to care deeply about.  That Taken by Fire brings them back, at least those connected with the original trilogy, is a nice way to round out the series.

But, boy, were there some tense moments.  Ms. Croft isn't pulling any punches in this finale, and the angst and action is at a fever pitch.  The ending is worth those few fingernail biting instances, though.  A great series from beginning to end.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

I Think I Love You...

Game of Thrones

I haven't read the books, had honestly never heard of them until the HBO series, but now I cannot stop thinking about these characters.  I've gone so far as to stalk forums for speculations and I've read each book's synopsis on Wikipedia.

Obsessed much???

Specifically, I wonder if all the questions I have -- who is Jon Snow's mother?  why is his last name Snow if he wasn't born in the North?  will Jon ever discover the truth?  who is going to bring the Lannisters to justice and restore the peace to Westeros?  -- will be answered and if the open plot threads will be tied up once all the books have been published.

I have A Game of Thrones on hold at my library, but I'm quite intimidated by the multiple points of view, the sheer number of characters and their connections/allegiances.  I think my brain might explode, though I believe I have a good base for keeping everything straight, thanks to this pre-reading binge.

What I really really want to know about is Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.  Somebody point me to that prequel.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Review: Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine Heath

Renowned for his bedchamber prowess, Ransom Seymour, the Duke of Ainsley, owes a debt to a friend. But the payment expected is most shocking, even to an unrepentant rake—for he’s being asked to provide his friend’s exquisite wife with what she most dearly covets: a child.

Living for pleasure, they will give their hearts to no one . . .

Lady Jayne Seymour, Marchioness of Walfort, is furious that such a scandalous agreement would be made. If she acquiesces, there must be rules: no kissing . . . and, certainly, no pleasure.

Until love takes them by surprise.

But unexpected things occur with the surprisingly tender duke—especially once Lady Jayne discovers the rogue can make her dream again . . . and Ransom realizes he’s found the one woman he truly cannot live without.

To say I loved Waking Up with a Duke would be an understatement.  It consumed me from the moment I began it.

There's so much anger and guilt simmering around Jayne, Walfort, and Ainsley.  Jayne blames Ainsley for Walfort's accident, which caused her to lose her child, her husband, and any future child they might have together.  Ainsley carries his love of Jayne and Walfort's secret in silence, as well as the guilt for causing an accident he has no concrete memories of.   Walfort is withering into nothing from the loss of his legs, and he's stopped touching or even really looking at Jayne as a result. 

"I'll consider your debt paid in full if you get my wife with child."

And so Walfort lays a path for Ainsley to have Jayne, despite both men believing Jayne would never agree to such a scheme. 

Ms. Heath does an excellent job with the entire tangle of emotions as Ainsley and Jayne embark on their month together in the country and their longing for one another when they part.  Their entire spectrum of feelings pop from the page, and everything they feel is palpable and true.  She even makes Walfort a little bit likeable (I felt some sympathy for him) when he realizes that Jayne has fallen in love with Ainsley. 

A wonderful, wonderful, wonderful end to a trilogy I'm so sad to see completed.  Waking Up with the Duke had me on the edge of my seat, tears in my eyes, until the end.

(A very special thank you to Avon, Harper Collins and NetGalley who provided me with an ARC of Waking Up with the Duke.)

Review: In the Heat of the Bite by Lydia Dare

Chivalry is far from undead...

Matthew Halkett, Earl of Blodswell, is one of the few men in the ton who can claim to be a knight in shining armor- because that's precisely what he was before being turned into a vampyre. When he spies a damsel in distress in the midst of a storm in Hyde Park, his natural instinct is to rush to her aid...

But not every woman needs to be rescued...

Weather-controlling witch Rhiannon Sinclair isn't caught in a storm-she's the cause of it. She's mortified to have been caught making trouble by the imposing earl, but she doesn't need any man-never has, and is sure she never will...

But when Rhiannon encounters Matthew again, her powers go awry and his supernatural abilities run amok. Between the two of them, the ton is thrown into an uproar. There's never been a more tempestuous scandal...

I was a little disappointed in this book.  Given "clues" in the previous book of the series, It Happened One Bite, I assumed the heroine for the next novel would be Sorcha, the youngest witch in the coven.  When I learned the heroine would be Rhiannon, I was quite surprised, simply because we the reader don't know much about her, other than her magical abilities concerning the weather.   Turns out, she had a lot to deal with: neglectful father, younger sister, hateful aunt.

Matthew, the Earl of Blodswell, also has problems: he's a vampire who's started having chest pains when he spies Rhiannon having a temper tantrum in the park.  Then his fangs won't distend, except for Rhiannon.

(Sing it with me now -- "Rhiannnnnon...")

There didn't seem to be much conflict between Rhiannon and Matthew, or perhaps I didn't believe it.  All reasoning for why they shouldn't be together is the same as that in It Happened One Bite with Blaire and James, except any sexual tension that might be present because Blaire fights her attraction to James isn't because Rhiannon gives into hers.

No one was turned; no one got into a fight.  In the Heat of the Bite felt like a "filler" book, and I almost believe Rhiannon and Matthew would have been better served as a secondary romance over the course of these last three books.  But I plan to read the final book in the series, Never Been Bit, to see Sorcha get her man and hopefully witness Elspeth give birth.       

(A very special thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca who provided me with an ARC of In the Heat of the Bite.)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

I shall be celebrating with my family and fireworks and food.  Hope your Fourth of July is as spectatular!! 
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