Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: Barefoot in the Sun by Roxanne St. Claire

When running is all you've ever known . . .

Caught between fight and flight, Zoe Tamarin has always picked flight. Since she was rescued from a nightmare childhood by her great-aunt Pasha, they've been on the move, never staying in one place long enough to risk exposing their precarious past. But now that they've reached the sun-baked shores of Barefoot Bay, Zoe may have to stay and fight-for her aunt's life . . . and for a love she ran from years before.

Sometimes the bravest act of all is to stand still.

Oliver Bradbury came to Florida to start over, as both a doctor and a father to his eight-year-old son. He never expected life to hand him a second chance with the woman he lost years ago-but one look at Zoe Tamarin and he knows he'll do whatever it takes to prove that this time, he can be the man she needs. But when demands of family and friendship threaten to shatter their rekindled passion, Oliver must heal Zoe's lifelong wounds with more than hot kisses . . . but will that be enough to keep her from flying off with his heart?

Barefoot in the Sun picks up where the second book of the series, Barefoot in the Rain, left off.  All the books are able to stand alone, though.  

I was surprised by how deep this book goes, or how serious Zoe's past was.  We know from the two previous books that Zoe has secrets she's never revealed to any of her friends, but what's revealed about Zoe and her great-aunt Pasha wasn't what I would have ever expected.  

Perhaps the romance isn't central to this story because we learn Zoe and Oliver had already fallen in love years earlier.  Despite their time apart, they are able to rekindle their love rather quickly.  Zoe's "flee first" mechanism is one that's been programmed into her by Aunt Pasha, and at times, I became so frustrated with this.  There has to be a point in life when you stop running, when you confess the truth, despite the knot in your gut cautioning you not to.  I'm glad Zoe finally confessed the truth of her secrets to Oliver and her friends, and that Pasha didn't suffer for her role in protecting Zoe. 

(A very special thank you to Forever Romance, Hachette Book Group, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Barefoot in the Sun.)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: Playing to Win by Jaci Burton

Someone’s going to have to let down their guard…

Football star Cole Riley is notorious for doing as he pleases—on the field and off. He parties hard and fights harder, but if he doesn’t clean up his act, his career is over—so Cole reluctantly agrees to work with image makeover consultant Savannah Brooks. He’s not used to being told what to do, especially by some (admittedly hot) Southern belle. As for Savannah, she’s not convinced she can transform this cocky (and aggressively sexy) force of nature. But she’s determined to give it her best shot.

When the sparks start to fly, Savannah lays down the ground rules: no personal complications. If she can turn off the tingle she feels every time Cole gives her a hot stare with his gorgeous baby blues, he can turn off his desire as well. But for two people determined to have it all, a hands-off policy can only last so long before one of them yields.

Playing to Win deviates from the three previous Play by Play books in that one of the main characters is a distant relative -- cousin -- of Mick, Gavin, and Jenna Riley.  The original Riley family is still seen in Playing to Win, but they aren't the whole focus.   I was skeptical, because to me it seemed like a way to extend the series, and I wasn't convinced I would enjoy it.  I'm so glad I took a leap of faith.  Playing to Win is a good book, and a good addition to this on-going series.  

Cole Riley is selfish with a capital S.  He has a promising career ahead of him, but he regularly does whatever he wants without considering any repercussions.  He blows through life hard and fast and almost refuses to accept any help or advice.  He reluctantly agrees to work with Savannah Brooks, an image consultant.  

Though Savannah is attracted to Cole, and vice versa, she keeps their relationship strictly professional.  That, however, doesn't mean she can stop fantasizing about him at every turn.  

I would have liked to have known more about why Cole acted the way he did at the beginning of the novel, but overall, I enjoyed Playing to Win, and look forward to continuing this series. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Review: If You Give a Rake a Ruby by Shana Galen

Her Mysterious Past is the Best Revenge...

Fallon, the Marchioness of Mystery, is a celebrated courtesan with her finger on the pulse of high society. She's adored by men, hated by their wives. No one knows anything about her past, and she plans to keep it that way.

Only He Can Offer Her a Dazzling Future...

Warrick Fitzhugh will do anything to protect his compatriots in the Foreign Office, including seduce Fallon, who he thinks can lead him to the deadliest crime lord in London. He knows he's putting his life on the line...

To Warrick's shock, Fallon is not who he thinks she is, and the secrets she's keeping are exactly what makes her his heart's desire...

This series just gets better and better.  If You Give a Rake a Ruby is the second book of Ms. Galen's Jewels of the Ton series and focuses on Fallon, the Marchioness of Mystery.  Warrick Fitzhugh is chasing a mystery in terms of an investigation for the Foreign Office, so he enlists Fallon's help.  The two spend more and more time together, and as luck would have it, they fall in love. 

I really enjoyed Fallon and Fitzhugh's banter throughout the book.  I also liked that Fallon's childhood in St. Giles is able to be of use to her once more.  But what I really enjoyed was Lily, the Countess of Charm, and her actions to help Fitzhugh with his investigation.  It will be interesting to have the mystery of the diamonds finally solved and Lucifer unmasked in the third book, Sapphire's Are an Earl's Best Friend (March 2014). 

(A very special thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of If You Give a Rake A Ruby.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: The Love Shack by Christie Ridgway

Return to USA TODAY bestselling author Christie Ridgway’s Crescent Cove, California, where the magic of summer can last forever…

Globe-trotting photojournalist Gage Lowell spent carefree childhood summers in Crescent Cove. Now that he desperately needs some R & R, he books a vacation at Beach House No. 9—ready to soak up some sun and surprise old friend and property manager Skye Alexander. Their long-distance letters got him through a dangerous time he can’t otherwise talk about. But when he arrives, the tightly wound beauty isn’t exactly happy to see him.

Skye knows any red-blooded woman would be thrilled to spend time with gorgeous, sexy Gage. But she harbors secrets of her own, including that she might just be a little bit in love with him. And she’s convinced the restless wanderer won’t stay long enough for her to dare share her past—or dream of a future together. Luckily for them both, summer at Crescent Cove has a way of making the impossible happen…

We move back to the core characters who'd grown up at Crescent Cove, focusing on Skye and Gage.  We finally learn what has Skye so jumpy, though I had predicted something similar at the beginning of the second book when she's startled in the office.

Both Gage and Skye are suffering from PTSD, and while Griffin was experiencing a type of trauma related to his grief and what he'd witnessed in Afghanistan, both Gage and Skye are alike in that the trauma was directly inflicted upon them.  

The secondary love story features Teague and Polly, both of whom we've met in the first book, Beach House No. 9.  

Overall, The Love Shack was a wonderful addition to the series, and a great way to return to the core characters of Beach House No. 9.   I was sad to see this series end, despite the fact that I felt like I'd been punched in the gut while reading.  It's that emotional and that good. 

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

Friday, April 12, 2013

Review: Lush by Lauren Dane

USA Today bestselling author Lauren Dane delivers a second serving of sexy in her new Delicious novel, in which taste and temptation make up a sweet recipe… 
Mary Whaley has her hands full running a successful catering company and overseeing her supper club. She has everything she ever wanted—or so she thought. When she meets ridiculously hot and very dirty rock star Damien Hurley at her friend’s engagement party, the attraction she feels is overpowering—and she isn’t about to deny herself.

Damien is used to a hard and fast life. He and two of his brothers started a band when they were fresh out of high school—then they hit the big time and stayed there. He’s also a legendary madman on the stage and in the bedroom. But when he meets Mary, something clicks, and the bad boy starts thinking he may have finally found something good.

What begins as a series of fleeting trysts soon gets much more complicated. Damien can’t figure out why Mary doesn’t want more from him. And before long, it’s Damien who wants more from Mary. But it turns out Mary is no stranger to celebrity news, and he’s got a very big job ahead of him: proving that he’s worth more than a one-night stand…

Series readers will pick up almost directly at the end of Tart.  That is not to say you cannot follow the progress of Mary and Damien's relationship without having read Tart or any of The Brown Siblings books.  Lush is an erotic romance you really need to read -- it's that good! 

Mary Whaley isn't looking for love or romance despite the fact that her best girlfriends have all found both.  She has several businesses to run; she's ultimately very happy in her life.  She meets rocker Damien Hurley at Gillian's engagement party, and sparks fly.  Mary's attraction isn't one-sided either.  Damien has fallen hard and fast for her.  

One of the main aspects I loved about Lush is the fact that Damien is pursuing Mary.  He's not making grandiose gestures, he's not making false promises to simply get into her pants -- he genuinely wants a relationship with her, and it surprises everyone, including himself.    I stated on Twitter that Damien Hurley might be as awesome as Brody Brown (hero of Ms. Dane's Coming Undone), but it's a close call.

The Big Misunderstanding is a bit predictable, but it didn't overshadow my serious love for Lush.  This has been my favorite of the Delicious series.  Focused strictly on Mary and Damien's oh-so-hot chemistry, Lush is a great way to end the series on a high note.   

(A very special thank you to Penguin, Berkley, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Lush.)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: A Shot of Sultry by Macy Beckett

Welcome to Sultry Springs, Texas: where home can be the perfect place for a fresh start.

For West Coast filmmaker Bobbi Gallagher, going back to Sultry Springs is a last resort. But with her career in tatters, a documentary set in her hometown might be just what she needs to salvage her reputation. She just can't let anything distract her again. Not even the gorgeous contractor her brother asked to watch over her. As if she can't handle filming a few rowdy Texans.

Golden boy Trey Lewis, with his blond hair and Technicolor-blue eyes, is a leading man if Bobbi ever saw one. He's strong and confident and—much to her delight—usually shirtless. He thinks keeping his best friend's baby sister out of trouble will be easy. But he has no idea of the trouble in store for him...

Bobbi Gallagher is the long-lost sister of Luke Gallagher, who just happens to be the best friend of Trey Lewis.  Bobbi's arrival in Sultry Springs has a main purpose -- filming a reality show -- and a secondary purpose -- reconnecting with Luke.  The siblings have lived very different lives, and much of Luke's memories of their mother are mentioned in the first book of this series, Sultry with a Twist.  
I suppose I wanted more from the siblings, especially since Bobbi claims she wants to know Luke, but most of the plot centers around the reality show, Sex in the Sticks, and sets up Colton (the second reality show contestant) as hero for the third book, Surrender to Sultry (August, 2013).

I really thought I would like Bobbi as the narrative progressed, and while she and Trey have chemistry, there was something off about both characters.  Trey wants his mother to stand up to his father (or divorce his father), yet he objectifies Bobbi.  Bobbi continually lies, then feels sorry for herself when her lies are revealed.  These characters are a mess, but they don't seem to learn from their past mistakes or behaviors.

A Shot at Sultry was an okay addition to this series, certainly not as good as Sultry with a Twist, but I am curious to learn more about Colton and the runaway preacher's daughter in Surrender to Sultry.    

(A very special thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of A Shot of Sultry.)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Review: Thrill Ride by Julie Ann Walker


Ex-navy SEAL Rock Babineaux is as Cajun as they come—spicy, sexy, and more than a bit wicked. But would he actually betray his country? Even his best friends on the special-ops Black Knights team aren't sure they can trust him. Now the target of a massive manhunt, Rock knows the only way to protect the team—especially his partner, Vanessa—is to run...


Rock might think he can outmaneuver them all, but he hasn't counted on how stubborn Vanessa Cordero can be. And she refuses to cut him loose. Sure, her partner has his secrets, but there's no one in the world she'd rather have by her side in a tight spot. Which is good because she and Rock are about to get very tight...

Thrill Ride certainly lives up to its name.  It's a little over-the-top, a little crazy, and a little unbelievable, but a great addition to Ms. Walker's Black Knights series. 

Rock and Vanessa have amazing chemistry in Rev it Up, so I was surprised that the series didn't immediately pick up where book 3 had left off. The story is fast-paced, if a bit unbelievable, but I could suspend my belief because I wanted the Black Knights to find Rock and to help save his life.  

Secondary characters Bill and Eve continue to deny their attraction to each other while using Eve's vacation home as a base, and I'm looking forward to hearing more of their story in book 5, Born Wild (November 2013).    
(A very special thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Thrill Ride.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Eagerly Anticipating -- April 2013


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