Archives for August 2012

Review: Coveted

Reviewed by Allison

Natalya Stravinsky is a lone wolf. She has always been a bit OCD, but when the love of her life, Thorn, leaves her, she’s thrown into a depression that makes functioning difficult to deal with. Her escape is through the only thing she feels like she can control; her environment & her Christmas ornaments. Her disease makes her appear weak to the rest of her pack & they end up shunning her. Her family members are the only ones who moderately tolerate her. However, when a neighboring pack sets their sights on her New Jersey territory, they go for the weakest link first – Natalya. Fighting for not only her life, but her sanity, Natalya has to either grow up or give up.

I liked the bits of Russian culture the author used to add authenticity, especially how she called her grandma “babushka” – so cute! However, I felt like it was more about her OCD then the actual danger the invading pack posed. As interesting as it was to see life from that point of view, I ended up feeling insensitive because I just wanted her to GET OVER IT & fight the SOBs who threatened her family.

I did feel like she was stronger at the end and had grown some, not only with her OCD, but as a person which was nice to see. I really enjoyed the assortment of characters from her therapy group, especially the yummy wizard, Nick! They both make strides together in conquering their obsessions. I’d like to see where they end up if she can finally get over the ever-present-but-never-touching Thorn.

Towards the end it felt a little too stream of consciousness for me, but the story was interesting enough that I’ll probably read the next one.

Rating: C

Click to purchase: Amazon
Coveted
by Shawntelle Madison
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Ballantine

Review: Sins of a Virgin

Reviewed by Jen
 

Madeline has spent the past 10 years of her life as part of a trio of spies. Plucked from the gallows, she was trained in stealth and seduction. She did her job well, but when her usefulness came to an end, she was pensioned off with a sum she would never be able to live off of. Her only resources are her beauty and her ability to read people. She puts both to work, with an outlandish plan to raise funds.

After six months of setting herself up as an unattainable courtesan, she puts her virginity up for auction.

Gabriel is a Bow Street Runner who has devoted the last seven years of his life to finding his twin sister’s killer. Now, he has been assigned to work for Madeline. She needs him to investigate the men who are bidding in her auction. While he is tempted to turn her down at first, he comes to realize that he can use the job to investigate some of the same men he considers suspects in his twin’s murder.

Though he sees how lovely she is, Gabriel has no intention of falling for his new employer. He watches with a mixture of awe and disgust as she beguiles suitor after suitor with practiced ease. But then, in unguarded moments, he catches glimpses of the real woman behind the mask and he can’t help but want her.

Madeline wants Gabriel too, but she can’t take her eye off the prize. She won’t grow old in poverty. Things become even more complicated as someone begins making attempts on her life. Surely it is someone who knows her from her past. Each brush with death pushes her closer and closer into Gabriel’s arms, but can they really have any kind of future together?

I liked Madeline. She is tough and smart and practical. Mercenary, even. I liked Gabriel too, for the most part. He’s a good man, though a little judgemental. He has honor. I just didn’t love the progression of their relationship. For one, it took more than half the book before they even kissed. It was so drawn out just for them to make their first tentative step. Beyond that, their circumstances made it difficult for me to feel warm and fuzzy. Madeline is, after all, lining up a liason with another man for the whole book. And Gabriel’s opinion of her is often less than flattering.

Not to mention, I figured out the villain less than halfway through the book.

Things did pick up once Madeline finally shows Gabriel who she really is. But it takes so long to get to that point. –I didn’t dislike it, but it didn’t do much for me either.

Rating: C

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
Sins of a Virgin
by Anna Randol
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Avon

DNF: Sweet Talk

Reviewed by Allison

Olivia MacKenzie is an IRS agent with an agenda – to prove her father’s a crook who steals people’s investments & ruins people’s lives. When she inadvertently gets caught up in an FBI investigation while doing research on who else might be involved in his schemes, she meets Grayson Kincaid, sexy FBI agent. The two have instant attraction & even though they end up entangled in a case together, eventually they become entangled in bed. But, Olivia has quite the list of enemies that she is constantly fighting against, so the question is will she live long enough to see where it goes?

Unfortunately, as much as I love the cover, I could not finish this book. I made it about halfway through.

I normally LOVE romantic suspense, so I was really excited to try this book not only because I was in the mood for some action but to try a new prolific author such as Ms. Garwood. However, I found the dialogue stale, the story was boring, the timeline was too staggered & while I could see myself learning to like the characters, they, too, fell flat.

I’ve heard good things about Garwood’s historical romances, so I may try one of those but it’s not high on my to-read list.

Rating: DNF

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Sweet Talk
by Julie Garwood
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Penguin

Review: Enslave

Reviewed by Jen

Andreu has no desire settle down and fall in love. He wants to revel in the vampire lifestyle, enjoying blood and sex on his own terms.  In fact, he plans on opening his own vampire-erotic club –one like his brother’s Vampirerotique– where he expects money and success to roll in at his feet.

Varya doesn’t even think she is capable of a relationship. After all, she is a succubus and love isn’t in their vocabulary. She sneaks in Vampirerotique, hoping only to be titillated by the sexy stage show. But instead, she spots Andreu in the theater and is instantly enthralled.  She must know what it’s like to kiss him, though she knows better than to consort with a vampire.  Andreu is just as captivated by her and when they finally come together, neither wants it to end.

Somehow, though, Andreu is able to find the control to pull away. From then on out, the two are constantly fighting the pull to succumb to their desires.

This book is hot. Really hot.  From the sexual interactions between Andreu and Varya to the onstage performances, Felicity Heaton pulls no punches and burns up the pages.   The chemistry between Andreu and Varya is fantastic, but their fast-track to love is a bit too… well, fast.  Both characters are likable. And Andreu is just the right amount of snarly alpha without going too far. He straddles the line once or twice, but he has self-control and ultimately puts Varya first.

I found myself very intrigued by some of the secondary characters, like Payne and (especially) Snow. As a new reader, it was very obvious I was jumping into an established series because previously featured couples do appear. And I will admit, I was a little overwhelmed trying to take in all of the characters through Varya’s eyes at the beginning of story. Then the sexual element took over and I was sucked in.  I did mention the really hot sexy times, right?

Overall, I enjoyed it. A fast, easy, sexy read.

Rating: B-

*ARC provided by author for review  

Click to purchase: Amazon
Enslave
by Felicity Heaton
Release Date: August 4, 2012

Review: Forbidden

Reviewed by Jen

Mallory is an honest, honorable and loyal ladies maid with a dream of one day opening her own confectioner’s shop.  She has no idea she is the long-lost heiress to the Templemore title.  She was kidnapped as a child on the night her mother was murdered and her grandfather has been looking for her ever since.

If Mallory were never found, Henry would have inherited the estate. He is tasked to track her down and figure out if she truly is the missing Lady Marguerite. He ensconces himself into her life to better judge her character. Henry is taken with Mallory right away… and she can’t believe this wealthy gentleman would want anything to do with her.  A walk together, a dance, and a few feverish kisses later, she finds out the truth of who Henry is and why he is there.  She feels angry and betrayed and vows never to be so foolish again.

Of course, it’s not so easy to get away from Henry. He is her grandfather’s godson and he goes with her meet the old man and become part of the family.  It’s a difficult transition from maid to heiress, and although she has tender feelings for her grandfather, it’s really Henry who makes her feel alive in her new surroundings.  The anger she has for him makes their interactions even more incendiary. There is passion between them… flirtation and banter… and fear.

Henry is determined never to fall in love again. A horrible first marriage cured him of any romantic illusions about matrimony. The thing is, Mallory refuses to marry without love.  So as she begins to fall for him, he isn’t able to give her what she really needs for a future.

I liked Henry.  He’s almost too good to be true in that he is willing to give up the inheritance he would have gotten to do the right thing by Mallory. This, even before he knew her.  He’s got some emotional baggage, but it doesn’t make him cruel, just… closed off at times.  Mallory is sweet and genuine and–it turns out– quite passionate.  The sexual tension and the love scene between her and Henry were very, very good.

I didn’t love that they were pushed into a relationship decision by external circumstances late in the book.  I also think I would have liked more loose ends tied up with Mallory’s father. But overall, I enjoyed the story. There’s a small mystery/danger side arc that managed to surprise me before all was said and done. And I liked the romance.

This is book six in the Scandalous Women of the Ton series.  Mallory has been a recurring character in previous books, but this can be read easily as a standalone.

Rating: B-

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Forbidden
by Nicola Cornick
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Publisher: HQN

5 for Friday – August 24

Congratulations on making it through another week!  I’ve now come down from my AAD high and am already anxiously awaiting RT in May. (Yes, I am a planner.)  As if I wasn’t already excited enough about Kansas City, now I hear RT2014 will be in NOLA!  I can’t wait.  I still have some AAD books to give away, so make sure to check out the contest at the end of the post.

5. I really enjoyed Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld spinoff, Wicked Nights.

This week, she released the blurb for book two in the Angels of the Dark series: Beauty Awakened.

His name is Koldo. He is scarred, powerful, his control legendary-and he lives only for vengeance, determined to punish the angel who viciously removed his wings. But if he yields to the forces of hatred, he will be kicked from the heavens, eternally damned.
She is his last hope. Nicola Lane was born with a defective heart, yet this fragile human shows surprising strength as demons stalk her every move, determined to end her. She is the key to Koldo’s deliverance…and his downfall. Though he fights duty, destiny and his first addictive taste of desire, his toughest battle will be the one for Nicola’s life-even if he has to sacrifice his own…

No sign of a cover yet. Beauty Awakened is scheduled for release February 26th.

In other Showalter news, Gena announced the title of her next Lords book, The Darkest Craving. Kane’s book will be out next July or August.

4.  Kim Harrison has revealed the cover for the next Hollows book, Ever After.

The ever after, the demonic realm that parallels the human world, is shrinking. If it disappears completely, so does all magic. It’s up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to avert catastrophe and keep life from changing… for the worse.While saving the world is important, it isn’t Rachel’s only motivation. There’s also the small fact that she caused the ley line to rip in the first place, setting off a chain reaction of unfortunate events. That little mistake has made her life forfeit unless she can fix it. It’s also made her more than a few enemies, including the most powerful demon in the ever after—a terrifying entity who eats souls and now has an insatiable appetite for her. He’s already kidnapped her friend and goddaughter to lure her out, and if Rachel doesn’t give herself up soon, they’ll die.

But Rachel has more than a few impressive and frighening skillls of her own, and she isn’t going to hand over her soul and her life without one hell of a fight. She’s also got a surpise: elven tycoon Trent Kalamack. With this unlikely ally beside her—a prospect both thrilling and unnerving—she’s going to return to the ever after, kick some demon butt, rescue her loved ones… and prevent an apocalypse before it’s too late. Or, at least that’s the plan..

I didn’t love the last book like I loved Pale Demon, but I have high hopes for Ever After. It releases January 22. If you can’t wait until January for your Rachel-fix, Harrison is releasing a compilation of Hollows short stories, including a new one about Trent & Jenks kidnapping the baby! Into the Woods is out October 12.

3. Just a little tidbit for fans of the Charley Davidson books.  Darynda Jones has announced a change in the title for book five. It was originally supposed to be Fifth Grave Off the Beaten Path, but it’s now Fifth Grave Past the Light. I like the new one! Fifth Grave isn’t out until next May, but book 4, Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet releases in October.

(I can’t wait to see where that series goes next. I am so mad at Charley’s dad!!)

2. As sad as I was to see Kelley Armstrong end her Otherworld series with Thirteen, there is now reason to celebrate!!  Armstrong announced Thursday that Space, a Canadian sci-fi channel, has ordered 13 episodes of a tv show based on Bitten!!

Can we get this channel in America? I must watch this show. Who could possibly be hot enough to be cast as Clay?

1. And finally, the premiere for the new season of Sons of Anarchy is just two weeks away.  This is one of my favorite shows, people!  In honor of Jax and the boys, help yourself to these new trailers.

 

The season premiere is September 11th on FX.

Oh yeah… I promised you a giveaway! Fill out the Rafflecopter form to win a copy of both books in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series by Phillipa Ballantine and Tee Morris. That’s Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair. Contest is open to entries in the US & CAN.

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Review: Blade Song

Reviewed by Jen

OK, Urban Fantasy fans, listen up. I have a premise for you. It involves a woman with a magical sword. She is part human, but has supernatural blood in her veins.  Though she is not as strong as some of the paranormal beings around her, she is more than she appears. She is often underestimated. She’s a bit cut off, emotionally. Her childhood was miserable, filled with training and bloodshed.  She’s sort of a gun for hire now… well, a sword for hire.  And her life begins to change with the arrival of a sexy, powerful cat shifter who can’t resist her strength and her spirit.

Sound familiar?  No, I’m not talking about Kate Daniels, though it’s hard not to see the parallels there.  Our heroine’s name is Kit Colbana. She is half human, half-aneira –which is sort of an Amazon race.  Her father was never in her life and her mother died when she was young, leaving her in the clutches of an evil grandmother who tortured her for years.  She ran away as a teenager and has started a new life for herself.

The agency she owns isn’t doing well. Between that and a vampire who won’t stop stalking her, Kit is just about ready to pull up stakes again when Damon (see “sexy, powerful cat shifter” above) walks into her office with a job. The nephew of his Alpha is missing and the pack wants Kit to solve the case.  Despite Damon’s cocky and obnoxious behavior and despite the cats’ reputation as crazy, she takes the case to save the boy.  She has no idea at the time that her life will depend on her success.

The Cat Alpha is as mad as a hatter and when she meets Kit, she lets her know in no uncertain terms what failure will mean. Damon is assigned as her bodyguard as she investigates the case.  And, of course, he ends up being much, much more.

I liked this story very much.  Even though it seems familiar in some places, it didn’t really feel like a Kate rehash.  Kit is damaged in a way Kate isn’t. She perseveres through grim determination.  She gets beaten down, but her survival is her victory.  I really enjoyed watching the evolution of her relationship with Damon.  He is such an ass at the beginning, but I could see him changing with her. She earns his respect and affection by simply being who she is and by never giving up. And when we learn more about his backstory, so much of his behavior makes sense.

The world-building is solid here and the characters are fleshed out. I admire Kit and her fortitude –and I commiserate with her inability to keep her mouth shut. Damon is sexy and deliciously Alpha –though he pushed me close to my limits at the beginning.  My only small complaint was the speed in which they make a key decision in their relationship. It happened awfully fast for something so monumental, but at least they weren’t tossing around “I Love You’s” quite yet.

The action was intense. And while the motivation for the kidnappers didn’t exactly tread new ground, there were enough surprises to keep me engaged. The villain reveal was pretty cool. And the writing was fast paced and very engaging. I will definitely read the sequel. Very good.

Rating: B+

Click to purchase: Amazon
Blade Song
by JC Daniels (Shiloh Walker)
Release Date: August 1, 2012

Review: Take It Like a Vamp

Reviewed by Shelly

Shy and reserved Casey Meyers has had a crush on her neighbor Nick Christos since she moved into his building. Nick, a vampire, has also been crushing on his human neighbor Casey since she moved into her Aunt Teddie’s condo nine months prior. Once these two get together, interesting things start to happen and quite a few secrets are revealed. Casey hasn’t had much luck with men, unless you consider bad luck. She always been a bit of a loner and these bad relationships haven’t helped her self-esteem one bit. First, let me say this – ANY story that begins with a woman removing her Spanx after a crappy date – I’m automatically giving extra points for that!

Okay, now on to the good stuff. What really worked for me was that this is a well-told story, considering the relationship itself was condensed. There was good character development, conflict, dialogue and all yummy things that made me turn the page. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments when I thought the angst was a bit overdone but those happened in the beginning of Casey and Nick’s relationship; as far as I know that’s common in most if not all couple’s relationships.

I enjoyed Casey. She was likable and someone I could really relate to. Yes, she had some issues but they weren’t over-the-top and Nick was no better. Although he was an 800-year-old werewolf/vampire, he had quite a bit of baggage in the name of Alvinia, the dreaded ex. This chick was the epitome of bad and I really wish she had more scenes in the book. There are some things that Nick does that don’t support what we would consider the normal vampire, but to me there were plausible and you’ve got to consider that (1) this is fiction and (2) it’s not my story to tell.

There were a lot of other secondary and fun characters: Mason – Nick’s human assistant, Aunt Teddie – Casey’s aunt who used to be her uncle, Linc – Nick’s (werewolf) best friend who’s also a clothing designer and Bennett, Casey’s human assistant and best friend. I’m hoping for a follow up with Linc and Bennett because I felt a little tension that could make an interesting read.

The sex scenes between Casey and Nick weren’t explicit, but they were good nonetheless.

Overall, this was a good book. I really cared about Casey and Nick and definitely wanted them to have their happy ever after. And just in case you’re wondering, Candace, Linc and Bennett told me that they’d like their own story.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Entangled Publishing

Click to purchase: Amazon
Take It Like a Vamp
by Candace Havens
Release Date: July 21, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Review: The Druid Stone

Reviewed by Jen

I love dark stories about the fae.  And this definitely fits the bill.  The Druid Stone is haunting, disturbing, stirring, and sexy all at once.

Sean has been having the same horrific dream over and over again for more than a year.  In it, he relives the grisly torture and murder of a man in Ireland nearly 100 years in the past. He’s seen doctors and shrinks, he’s tried drugs of all kinds, but every night the dream comes back with the same brutal clarity. He’s come to believe that he was cursed by his great-grandfather, who gave him a mysterious stone he can’t get rid of.  Research leads him to Cormac, a Druid, and he hops aboard a plane to Ireland, hoping he can get the curse removed.

Cormac is a man damaged by the mysterious disappearance of his lover 10 years ago.  He does his duty with his magic, but lives his life with meaningless one-night stands with random men.  When Sean shows up on his doorstep, he thinks the man is a flake and sends him on his way.  But thankfully, when Sean is targeted by the Fae King, Cormac is there to rescue him.  Of course, at that point, the Druid realizes his mistake.

The story follows Cormac and Sean as they try to unravel the mystery of the stone and figure out the identity of the man dying in Sean’s dreams.  This, as the two men realize a growing attraction between them.

I definitely enjoyed the book.  The authors do a great job presenting the Fae as twisted, selfish, and downright scary.  The mystery was good and the resolution was very interesting.  But just as good is the characterization of our two male leads.  Both men are deeply scarred by their past. The depth of their issues is slowly revealed over the course of the book and it wreaks havoc with their growing feelings for one another.  Their friendship is believable. The sexual tension is great. And the love scenes are hot.

I did have a couple of issues. One is the fact that these two fell in love in a week.  I can suspend my disbelief for a lot of things in Urban Fantasy, but this is just one of my biggest romance peeves. Sexual attraction, sure. Affection, absolutely. Hope for a future, I’m all on board. But when people profess to love each other in seven days, I can’t do anything but roll my eyes.  And that’s a shame, because almost everything else about the relationship clicked for me.

My only other problem was that there were a couple of times that I got confused about what was going on in the Fae realm.  I didn’t entirely understand what was happening, especially in the “dreaming” parts. I got the impression it was supposed to be disjointed, due to the unreality of the realm, but I found myself re-reading a couple of parts, looking for a clarity I didn’t find.

Overall, though, I did like this one.  It was just the right amount of darkness.  It was surprising and sexy and… different.  It was good.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Druid Stone
by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Release Date: August 6, 2012
Publisher: Carina Press

Giveaway: A Notorious Countess Confesses

I am a huge fan of Julie Anne Long’s Pennyroyal Green series. They are fantastic historical romances and they are so, so funny.  Julie’s next book, A Notorious Countess Confesses, isn’t out until October. But you can win it before you can buy it!!   Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This contest is open internationally!

She rose to spectacular heights…

From Covent Garden to courtesan to countess, beautiful, fearless, shamelessly ambitious Evie Duggan has riveted London in every role she plays. But the ton never could forgive her scandalous—if shockingly short—marriage, and when her star plummets amid gleefully vicious gossip, the countess escapes to the only legacy left to her: a manor house in Pennyroyal Green.

He never expected to fall so hard…

He has the face of a fallen angel and a smolder the devil would envy, but Vicar Adam Sylvaine walks a precarious line: resisting temptation…and the wild Eversea blood in his veins. Adam’s strength is tested when scandal, aka the countess, moves to Sussex. But when a woman who fiercely guards her heart and a man entrusted with the souls of an entire town surrender to a forbidden desire, will the sweetest sin lead them to Heaven…or make outcasts of them forever?

 

This giveaway is closed. The winner is May.

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