Archives for June 2012

AAD Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Jeaniene Frost

Night Huntress fans, hold onto your seats. Once Burned is out this week and I can promise you, it does not disappoint.  The amazing Jeaniene Frost is here to chat with me today. Please help me welcome her to the blog.

Jen: What can you tell us about Once Burned?

Jeaniene: Once Burned is the first book in the Night Prince series featuring Vlad as the hero and a new character named Leila as the heroine. Vlad’s ability to manifest and control fire makes him one of the most powerful vampires in existence. Leila is human, but she has some unusual abilities as well; her whole body gives off electricity and she can pick up psychic impressions through touch. Right now, two books are contracted for this series, with the possibility for more in the future.

A little backstory: When I first started writing about vampires, I swore to myself that I would never touch the Dracula legend because that had been done countless times. Then while I was writing the third book in the Night Huntress series, Vlad popped onto the page. The first thing I knew about him was that he hated the Dracula legend. The second thing I knew was that he and my hero, Bones, were not friendly. I kept trying to take Vlad out of the scene because, again, I was not going to write about Dracula! However, I kept thinking about his character. It was as if he refused to go away. He ended up being a regular side character in the Night Huntress series, yet that still wasn’t enough. The more I thought about Vlad, the more pieces of his story came together in my mind. Finally, I gave him not only his own book, but his own series.S o much for saying “never,” right?

Jen: Vlad is my favorite secondary character in the Night Huntress world. What was behind the decision to give him multiple books, instead of just one, like Charles or Mencheres?

Jeaniene: First, thank you! Second, some stories are best told in only one book, like a movie. Some stories are too big for that and they end up taking place over multiple books, like a TV series. The reason behind the decision to give Vlad a series versus one book was simple: The story I had my head about him and Leila was too big to fit in only one book. That’s only happened before with Cat and Bones, so I pressed hard to give Vlad a series and happily, my publisher agreed.

Jen: I know a lot of fans have made noise about a book for Ian. Do you think that will ever happen? Are there any other secondary characters you’d like to develop?

Jeaniene: I get a LOT of requests for an Ian book. One reader even sent me plot ideas because she wanted the book so badly and thought the issue was that I couldn’t come up with a storyline on my own, heh. First, Ian isn’t ready to be shoved into the hero role yet, and I don’t want to write about him unless he can be a hero. Second, if he ever gets ready, I know exactly who I’d pair him with and I already know the main plot that story would revolve around. So, the issue isn’t a lack of ideas. It’s Ian. If he can grow up a little in the future, I’d love to give him a story. If he insists on remaining a slut, he doesn’t get one since I refuse to write about a hero who cheats on the heroine. I do have hope for him, though. Cross your fingers for him, Ian fans!

As for other characters, yes, I’d love to write about several of them. I’m tied up for the next two years finishing Cat and Bones’s storyline, plus finishing Vlad and Leila’s, so any new character stories would have to wait. By the time my schedule clears, it depends on which character is making the most noise in my head, metaphorically speaking (no, I don’t actually hear voices, so put down the white jacket with the really long sleeves! ;)). The character I can’t stop thinking about usually wins in the new story department.

Jen: Cat and Bones finally seem like they’ve gotten to the point where they are unshakably solid. Does it change your approach to writing their stories now that their relationship is a given? (Does that make sense?) Is it a challenge to keep them fresh?


Jeaniene: It alters things in some ways. Neither Cat nor Bones is going to abruptly change their minds about their feelings for one another, plus they’re past the “does he/she really love me?” stage. However, because their storyline is wrapping up and I have a LOT of things to pack into their final books, I don’t think it will be challenge to keep things fresh. It’s crunch time now and all the little breadcrumbs I’ve been dropping along the way in previous books are about to blow up. I can’t wait to share the final outcome with readers!

Jen: I can’t remember where, but I read something you wrote once about writing married love and your faith. I wish I could put my finger on it now, because I thought it was really interesting when I read it…

Jeaniene: Hmm. It might have been on Twitter when I said I wished that love scenes were not taboo in inspirational fiction.

Jen: That was it!!

Jeaniene: Married couples have sex. They can even have really hot sex (shocker, I know! *wink*). Sometimes I want to read an inspirational novel because it explores my faith in a way that many secular books do not. However, I’m a greedy reader, so I don’t want to give up on a hot love story, too. The two aren’t opposites in real life, but in most inspirational fiction (that I’m aware of, please correct me if I’m wrong!) they seem to be.

Granted, some readers prefer the bedroom door firmly closed no matter what the genre is, and some of the “hottest” books on the market don’t contain sex scenes. I’m not advocating for inspirational fiction or another other genre to always contain sex scenes. I am, however, a fan of variety, and therefore I don’t think secular novels should be the only ones allowed to showcase great sex in fiction. But I could be alone in this opinion. Reading tastes vary, as everyone knows.

Jen: Talk to me a little about writing love scenes. Does it come easily? Would you rather write a steamy sex scene or an action/fight scene and why?

Jeaniene: I’d rather write neither, actually (bet you didn’t see THAT coming!). Sex scenes and fight scenes are difficult and time consuming to write. There’s a delicate balance of emotional/physical/action/reaction in every single sentence. One wrong turn of phrase – or even one wrong word – can ruin the intensity for readers. Dialogue, on the other hand, is fun to write. I can hear what the characters are saying in my head, so it’s almost like taking dictation when I write dialogue.

If you gripe about it, then why do you write sex/action scenes? someone might ask. Well, because I write romance, sex is an important part of the emotional journey for my characters. Just because sex scenes are harder for me to write – or make me blush, as has happened often – it wouldn’t seem fair to readers to shy away from it. Fight scenes equally necessary because my characters live in a dark, violent world. Life and death struggles are going to happen, and again, if I shy away from showing those, I cheat the reader in my eyes.

Jen: Bones is one of the most beloved PNR heroes out there. What is it about him that makes him so incredibly popular?

Jeaniene: I’ve had many readers tell me that they love Bones’s honesty, his openness about his feelings, and his sense of humor. *grin* Descriptions of his body probably don’t hurt, either. But in all honesty, I don’t know why he’s so popular. I’m delighted by it, of course, but there are plenty of other amazing PNR heroes. All I can say to Bones’s popularity is, Thank you, readers!

Jen: Are you working on anything outside of the Cat & Bones world? What’s ahead for you?

Jeaniene: Right now I’m focused solely on novels set in my vampire world, whether it’s Cat and Bones or Vlad and Leila. After that, I’d like to write something entirely new, but then again, I’d also like to write more about side characters in my vampire world. We’ll see which idea/world demands the most attention once I’m finished with my current commitments.

Jen: What are you most looking forward to from AAD in NOLA this summer?

Jeaniene:My grown-up, professional answer? Meeting readers and other authors while talking about the genre I love. However, the inner 8-year-old in me is squealing, “Beignets and haunted tours and ancient cemeteries, yay!”

A big thanks to Jeaniene for taking the time to chat with me.  In honor of the release of Once Burned, I am giving away a copy! To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This one is US/CAN only. In the meantime, be sure to visit Jeaniene’s website and the special page devoted to Once Burned. You can also follow her on Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Scandal Wears Satin

Reviewed by Jen

Nothing matters to Sophy Noirot as much as her sisters and the dress shop they have built from the ground-up.  Their creations are on the cutting edge of fashion and they were just starting to get a foothold in society, when sister Marcelleine made a formidable enemy in the ton.  But they’re holding on, thanks in no small part to the patronage of Lady Clara.

Unfortunately, a scandal lands Clara bethrothed to a fortune-seeking scoundrel and Sophy takes it upon herself to extract her from the situation.  Then Clara runs away, forcing her brother (the Earl of Longmore) to team up with Sophy to find her and bring her home.  It’s that mission which throws them together and sows the seeds of their romance.

I loved Sophy. She manages to be both innocent and jaded at the same time, and in a way that’s totally believable.  She’s lived a hard life but it has made her stronger.  She can read people and adapt to meet the needs of her environment.  She’s a great chameleon, which serves her well in her schemes to rescue Clara from her misfortunes.  Yet, everything she knows about love and sex are intellectual.  Until Longmore awakens something inside her that she can’t ignore.

As for our hero: he was ok.  There was almost too fine a point put on the fact that he’s not too bright and is a bit of a slacker.  He’s also arrogant at times and there were moments I didn’t feel like he showed Sophy enough respect.  The way Loretta Chase describes him physically was quite delicious, but beyond that (and his affection for his sister) I’m not sure what Sophy sees in him.

I really enjoyed their first love scene together, though Sophy’s decision felt a little sudden.  In fact, the sex and sexual tension were quite well done as a whole.  But honestly, I thought all the dress descriptions grew tedious.  And I felt like the sisters burned through an awful lot of money to save a business that’s in financial dire straights.

This is book two in the Dressmaker series and while this could work as a standalone, it would make more sense to people who have read Silk is for Seduction. I liked this installment, but not as much as the other Loretta Chase books I have read.

Rating: B-

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
Scandal Wears Satin
by Loretta Chase
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Avon

Review: Migrations

Reviewed by Shelly

This is a first for me. I think my expectation of erotic romance has room for romance AND erotica but this one doesn’t deliver.

Blurb: Val Hastings, assisted by her do-gooder cousin Sarah Cline, is shanghaied into driving their Aunt Rose across the US to visit her son. What begins as the trip from hell turns into a sexy adventure when they find themselves sharing the interstate with a mysterious, leather-clad biker. Aunt Rose and Sarah are convinced he’s up to no good. But after Val catches him pleasuring himself at a rest area, and he offers her some steamy help to make her journey more enjoyable, she’s convinced he’s her nasty saviour.

Is Hawk, the biker, a murderer, a free spirit, or something else? Whatever he is, animal attraction wins out over caution, as he joins the ladies for a cross-country romp that keeps Sarah and Aunt Rose nervous and Val hotter than her overheating engine.

Review: There is one thing that I liked about this story: there’s a moment when Val realizes that her Aunt Rose and cousin Sally care about her happiness.

There are several things I didn’t like. For me, this story was totally unbelievable as any kind of a romance. No one can convince me that there’s a 30-year-old woman on this earth who meets a masturbating man at a truck stop and does NOT think he’s a pervert and will NOT run a 100-meter dash faster than Usain Bolt to get a way from his crazy ass.

There was a part of the book when Valerie doubted that Hawk had feelings for her, she thought he was slumming; I just wanted to hit her on the back of the head and ask her what the hell did you expect?

And there was a disturbing and, I thought, unnecessary (masturbation) encounter with Hawk and cousin Sally, in the presence of Valerie – I was like shut the front door, this better not be that kind of a book.

I can’t even say that the sex scenes were good. The story just didn’t work for me – neither did the sex scenes. And I’m still trying to figure out what kind of car they were traveling cross country in that would vibrate so much (and the whole car not fall apart) that it could act as a vibrator while you’re sitting in the driver seat.

I hate to be blunt, but if you’d like to read a stroke piece this is it.

Happy reading folks!

Rating: D

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Migrations
by KD Grace
Release Date: May 30, 2012
Publisher: Xcite Books

Review: Lord Atwood’s Lovers

Reviewed by Jen

I’ll admit, sometimes I get a little skeptical about the HEA factor in a menage. What it needs, in order to be believable for me, is a real thread to connect each member of the trio together in a meaningful way.  This story manages to acheive that in my opinion and left me wanting more.

Imogen and Charles Atwood are newlyweds and they are head over heels in love with each other.  Charles was always considered serious and removed by members of the ton but he was so enamored of Imogen, he threw all that aside to court her.  Now that she is his, he can’t keep his eyes –or his hands– off her.

Imogen was a widow when she met Charles and though she loves him completely, she still mourns the death of her first husband and how he pushed her away in their last years of marriage.  She doesn’t want any secrets between her and Charles and she wants to make him happy. So when she learns of a rift between him and his old friend Alex, she wants to help make it right.

She comes to learn that Charles and Alex were once lovers, and she decides on a risky proposition to give her husband everything he wants.

I liked the writing in this novella quite a bit. The relationships worked for me. In fact, I found myself wishing I could have read the story of Charles and Imogen’s courtship as well.  I thought Imogen jumped into the menage-boat rather quickly, but the love scene with the three of them was very hot.  I could definitely feel the love Charles had for both his wife and for Alex, which is important, because it was balanced in the bedroom.

This is really short, only about 40 pages, but it’s just right for a little lunch hour diversion.  I enjoyed it.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Lord Atwood’s Lovers
by Eva Clancy
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Spice Briefs

Review: Guardian of the Night

Reviewed by Jen

Faith is an American doctor in Europe searching for her missing sister, Hope. She is told that a man named Mason LanVal may be able to help in her search. But on her way to seek him out, she is caught in an iron trap that nearly takes off her leg. She doesn’t know it, but local vampires set the trap and others like it to catch animal and human prey. Fortunately, Mason picks up the scent of her blood first and rescues her.

Mason is like a vampire in many ways, but he is stronger and has a greater purpose. He was created to be one of the seven blood knights, tasked with protect the purity of the bloodline and taking down anyone that would abuse its power. He considers lower vampires to be monsters in need of extermination.

Faith is in really bad shape when he finds her and the only way Mason can save her is with a drop of his own blood. He does this and ends up creating a blood bond between them. Mason is inexplicably drawn to Faith, even in her minimal consciousness. And he senses some Otherness in her, which turns out to be a Were ancestry that she didn’t even know existed.

He takes her to the local were pack to heal. And the rest of the book follows Mason as he searches for Faith’s sister and tries to figure out who has made all the new vampires in his area. Meanwhile, Faith must come to terms with her heritage and her strange new connection to Mason.

I didn’t love this one. My biggest problem with this “romance” was the fact that the hero and heroine only spend about 1/10 of the book in each other’s company. It felt like almost the entire first half of the story was spent in Mason’s head. His fantasizing about Faith, his questions about Hope, his bemoaning of his solitary life. It got really old. Beyond that, the world-building was not great. I didn’t entirely get the point of the creation of the seven knights and I didn’t really care. Then you throw Faith’s sister into the mix and it all got even murkier. How the villain plotted her and Faith into his master plan just didn’t make sense without a little ESP on his part. It was just… a mess.

And the romance was kind of lame. Too much pining. Not enough payoff.

Rating: D+

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Guardian of the Night
by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne

5 for Friday – June 22

This week has really flown by! Of course, I spent half of it getting a healthy dose of sunshine and extended family during my vacation at Fontainebleau State Park.  It was gorgeous out there and I was happily surprised that they had wi-fi in the cabins, so I wasn’t completely cut off from the blog and my Twitter addiction.  Hours of play knocked the kids out at night and mixed drinks did the same for the hubs, so I even got a little reading time in!  But there is no place like home and I’m glad to be back with Tumblr you guys.

5. Tuesday is a huge, huge release day.  It’s like the publishers decided to save up a ton of big books to drop on us all on the same day.  Some of the best coming out this week: Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost, Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt, and Wicked Nights by Gena Showalter.

I also enjoyed Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane and Tempest’s Fury by Nicole Peeler.  Oh! And Consumed by Rebecca Zanetti.  But really, those are just the tip of the iceberg.  What big June 26th release tickles your fancy?  Tell me what you’re looking forward to *or* which books you wanna spread the word about.

4. A couple of tidbits from the awesome Jennifer Estep.  The next book in her Elemental Assassin book, Widow’s Web is out in August, but if you can’t stand the wait, she’s got Chapter 1 up on her blog. In the meantime, she has revealed the cover for her next YA Mythos Academy book Crimson Frost.

That one is out in January. And Estep says the name of the book after that will be Midnight Frost (out August 2013.)

3. The amazing Ilona Andrews is giving us a sneak peek of the next Edge book. You can find chapter 1 of Steel’s Edge up on her blog.  This is the last contracted book in the series from what I understand and I must say I am sad. I really was hoping for a Jack and/or a George book. (**sniff**) I shall keep hope alive.

2.  By now, everybody and their mama has seen the Breaking Dawn Part 2 trailer. But you could be living under a rock. Or just itching for a chance to talk about it.  Either way, here it is:

Yes. I will go see it.

1. And speaking of guilty pleasures. Dallas is back.

I was a huge fan of the original recipe Dallas, back in the 80’s.  Of course, I was around 10 years old and I didn’t even realize how much of it I didn’t “get” until I watched the episodes again during a CMT re-airing while I was in college.  So, have any of you seen the new version? Is it worth watching?  Here’s the trailer if you’ve missed it.  I need opinions before I commit.

**Bonus Item**

 
I saw this cover reveal on Harlequin’s Facebook page and Rrraw.

Badly disfigured Lady Isobel Dalceann has fought fiercely to defend her keep, with little thought for her safety. Why, then, has she let a stranger within her walls? While he threatens danger, his battered body marked by war mirrors her own scars and tempts her to put her faith in him.

Marc de Courtenay is a mercenary and a loner, although he is drawn to damaged—beautiful—Isobel. But in taking him into her highly defended, buttressed walls, she has unwittingly given him secrets that will enable him to betray her. What would she do if she were ever to find out who he really is…?

XOXO
Jen

Review: Bound Temptations

Reviewed by Shelly

This is a publication release of two previously released novels, Tempt Me and Beg Me. I’m going to review this novel as two separate review to support the reading experience.

TEMPT ME
Blurb: She’s a temptation he can’t resist…
Roxanne ‘Rocki’ Monroe’s life is full of secrets and hidden heartaches. Cole Stanton would love to heal her pain and chase away the ghosts of her past, but she’s just a complication he doesn’t have room for in his life.
Or so he thinks.
It doesn’t take Cole long to realize he’s more than willing to let temptation get the best of him, more than happy to deal with complications if that’s what it takes to get her.
What he has and what he needs are two different things…and what he needs is Rocki.

Review: This story took me about a chapter to get into, but oh boy, once I did I was in it something fierce. If you like dialogue, then you’re going to really like this story. We are privy to a lot of conversations and for me that works wonders for pacing and continuity.

Rocki, a policeman’s widow, has set up a new life for herself after the untimely death of her husband. She’s a business owner of a place I’d like to visit, Lush & Lace, I’m not going to ruin the surprise and tell you what she offers. I will say that what she sells has a significant part in the storyline.  Suffice it to say, that’s where she meets the bronzed, blonde, and beautiful Cole and his evileen fiancé Mara.

Rocki is not perfect nor is she a size six and that’s what I loved the most about her. She’s got self doubt about doing the right thing, she means what she says and she’s got a best friend who made me laugh out loud on more that one occasion.

When I first met Cole, I didn’t think I would like him at all. He seemed a bit too ‘perfect’ and those are always your psycho stalkers. Well he’s neither perfect nor a psycho and I really enjoyed the sparks that flew between these two. I thought the pace of their romance was believable; the events that went on around them were realistic and really moved the story along.

On to the good stuff, the sexual tension between Rocki and Cole was HOT. Those two could light a page on fire. The sex was enviable and with just enough self-denial to warrant Rocki still in mourning for the life she had with her deceased husband.

Overall, I really enjoyed Rocki and Cole. I would have really liked to find out more about Mara’s story, she seemed ripe for a alpha male to come in and turn her world upside down.

Rating: A

BEG ME

Blurb: Beg me…there had been a time when those words made her burn with desire. But now, there was only fear.
Once, Tania Sinclair’s life was almost perfect…But a couple of tragedies later, she’s barely holding it together. A car accident took away her husband, and an attack from somebody she should have been able to trust has shaken not only her confidence, but it’s also stripped away her fantasies and even made it painful to look back on her memories of her husband without fear.
Two years after her attack, Tania is determined to take her life back and the first step is taking back herself…her fantasies, her dreams, her memories. There’s only one person she can trust to do it, too. One person she wants enough…Drake Bennett, her husband’s best friend.
Warning: This book involves light bondage play, rape fantasy & role-playing. The acts between the hero & heroine are consensual, but they may not be ideal for all readers…
Review: HEED the warning folks, do NOT complain after you’ve read this story that you didn’t know about the rape fantasy and role playing game. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!
This was a really hard story for me to read. It was hard for the exact scenarios in the warning.
I didn’t like Tania. I wasn’t convinced of her rational for asking Drake for his ‘services’. I felt sympathetic that she was attacked and violated, but I just couldn’t seem to invest in her as someone who deserved Drake. I can’t say that I’ve been attacked or violated but I don’t believe I have to be to either relate or not relate to any character for that matter. Maybe the point that Walker was trying to put out there is – it talks all kinds to fill the freeway, we don’t have to understand or like every character but we’ve all got a story that’s just itching to be told. So for that, the author did her job – she made me have an emotion towards her characters.
We need more men with hearts like Drake, men who’ll do anything for their woman. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed his character. He was such a tortured hero, loving Tawny from afar. When he had the chance to prove his love to her by offering his ‘services’ she selfishly overlooked his emotions.  Ya’ll, I was so mad and just when I was ready to throw my hands up and say – that’s it, I couldn’t put the book down because I just had to know what she’s going to do to fix it.
The sex between these two was primarily role-playing games of rape fantasy so I can’t say that I enjoyed them because they did make me uncomfortable. But then again, it’s in that respect that Shiloh Walker has a new fan because I cared enough about Drake and by default Tania that I wanted them to have their kinky and consensual HEA.
Happy reading folks!
Rating: A-
Click to purchase: Amazon
Bound Temptations
by Shiloh Walker
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Hydra Publications

Review: Tempted by the Highland Warrior

Reviewed by Jen

This is the best Highlander book I have read in a long time.  It has such a fantastic tortured hero.  Callum was taken prisoner when he was only 12 years old.  For seven long years, he was tortured. It not only battered his body, but it stole his voice.

One night, Lady Marguerite sees his suffering firsthand.  She is betrothed to his captor, but she takes care of Callum. She nurses his wounds and gives him the first comfort he has known in years.  The two form a connection right away, and even after Callum is sent away to be tortured by someone else, his memories of Marguerite help him hold on to his fragile threads of sanity.

When Callum’s brothers come to finally rescue him, he is gone. But Marguerite makes her escape from her wretched fiance with the MacKinlochs. So when they finally do track Callum down, the two are reunited.   Their time together is brief, though, because her father comes for her quickly and has her engaged to someone else in a heartbeat.  Callum goes after Marguerite, knowing he can’t live without her.

I love Callum so much. He can’t speak, but we hear his thoughts.  Marguerite is his sun and moon… his savior. And she loves him too. They have so many things stacked against them, it seems impossible for them to make it work. But their stolen moments are so tender and so good.  Callum has been through hell, but he will do anything to be with Marguerite.  He is strong, but manages to be gentle with her.

Their obstacles are very real and my heart broke for them when they seemed insurmountable.  I hated Marguerite’s father and (*minor spoiler*) my only (small) complaint was his pseudo-redemption at the end. I couldn’t forgive the things he did and felt like he deserved more consequences for his actions. The sexual tension between Callum and Marguerite was good and I enjoyed the payoff, but it was more about the love there than anything else.

This is book three in MacKinloch series, but I think this would work easily as a standalone.  There’s not much in the way of a brogue, since our hero can’t speak, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a Highlander or a tortured hero story.   I loved it.

Rating: A

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Tempted by the Highland Warrior
by Michelle Willingham
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin

Review: His Heart’s Obsession

Reviewed by Jen

Being in love with another man is no small thing for an officer in the British Royal Navy, especially if the year is 1752. It’s even worse if the object of your affections is head-over-heels in love with someone else entirely. But despite the odds against him, Robert is not ready to give up on his feelings for Hal.

Hal may be crazy about the ship’s captain, William, but William has no idea and favors women, anyway. So Robert makes his move. Hal is shocked by his interest and even questions his sincerity. So Robert vows to prove his love by being the kind of man Hal could respect.

This is a really short story, but it’s one led primarily by emotion. I believed in Robert’s affections for Hal and in Hal’s hopeless crush on William. I liked watching Robert try to better himself and show Hal what love really looks like. I did, however, think Hal was a little hard on Robert. He knows first hand what unrequited love feels like. He could have been a little kinder.

I also wished for a little more sexual payoff. Though I acknowledge what we got was good –and realistic, considering the circumstances. It also reinforces that this is a story really more about the feeling of love rather than the psychical manifestation of it.

Well done, especially considering the brevity of the story, which was less than 80 pages.

Rating: B-

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
His Heart’s Obsession
by Alex Beecroft
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: Carina Press

Review: Starlight

Reviewed by Allison

I’m usually pretty OCD about reading a series out of order, but the cover for this one seduced me – it’s just so luscious & decadent!

In this story of discovery, exploration, & love, I found myself on an adventure with the eldest of the Christie siblings, Alexander, as he searched for a way to protect his feeble infant son, Edmund. The only means of keeping him away from the evil father-in-law looking to steal custody was to complete a challenge set upon him by his own recently departed father in his will. His task was to manage one of his father’s holdings, Christie Textiles in Glasgow, Scotland & if after two years of doing so, he turned a profit then he would be rewarded with *in my Dr. Evil voice* one million dollars. Just the right price to convince a crooked judge that Edmund would be better off with his father.

What he didn’t count on, however, was the spirited Polly Gowan – daughter of a famous labor union rebel, Graham Gowan. Polly earnestly follows in her father’s footsteps & feels passionately loyal to her fellow mill workers, or “her people” as she calls them. Alex sees her as his key to understanding the union, and she views him as her key to keeping anyone from her union in trouble for an explosive fire at the mill as well as a way to find out who did it (hopefully before he does).

Polly & Alex had a passionate fire between them from the moment they first kissed, however as sizzling as the love scenes were, the vocab was a little awkward which didn’t make them flow as well as they should’ve. In the end, it didn’t matter too much because the build up was well worth the wait, especially for the studly Alex Christie (who never lacked in provocative descriptions)

“Energy shimmered off of him, all around him. Or maybe that was just the steam of hot skin meeting cold air. He looked like a pagan god of war descended to earth for a contest among mere mortals. He scrubbed one hand almost lazily through the swath of hair spread over his sculpted chest, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to stroke such primal masculinity. Polly flexed her own fingers. She wanted another opportunity to touch and explore, this time finding her way to that virile torso. What would his body feel like beneath her palms? Against her cheek? Beneath her tongue?”

As the hero, Alex was more than just a sexy lay, he had some real growing to do in this story – I loved how the mill became more than just a means to keep his father in law from his son; it became something that he can take pride in, something he could make his. I enjoyed watching him learn about Glasgow & his employees at the mill, seeing them as real people the more he got to know them. He grew into something his father would be proud of, making he letter at the end that much more poignant.

This tale of loyalty, perseverance, & love not only had an intriguing twist but left me with a smile on my face. I look forward to going back & reading Viv’s story, Alex’s sister, to get to know this compelling family even better.

Grade: B+

*ARC provided by author for review

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Starlight
by Carrie Lofty
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Pocket Books