Archives for April 2013

Review: Tempting the Beast

Reviewed by Jen
 

I think I have found my new guilty pleasure read. This book was totally over the top, borderline porny, campy… and yet, I totally enjoyed it.

Our heroine is Marinus, a journalist who works with her father and seven brothers for some kind of publication that is never explained. (The brothers also apparently have other professions, which I didn’t entirely get, either, but lets just go with it…). Anyhoo, the family is investigating Callan Lyons, a genetic experiment created by a blend of human and lion DNA. Before she died, his mother sent them proof of his background, hoping they could help protect him against the powerful scientists and soldiers trying to get him under their thumbs.

Marinus is drawn to Callan before they even meet, and he is all too aware of the beautiful woman stalking him. It starts as a game of cat and mouse between them, but at a certain point they can no longer deny the attraction between them. In fact, they realize it’s not just lust drawing them together, but a biological imperative.

That’s when the sexual element goes into overdrive. Marinus goes from virgin to porn star in 10 seconds flat. Every few minutes, we’re treated to a description of the state of her vagina. It’s often weeping, frothing, clenching, creaming… or my personal favorite… making a silent plea for satisfaction. The sex is frequent, varied and descriptive. These two literally can’t get enough. Oh. And did I mention that Callan has a penis barb? Scary as it sounds, it apparently makes for super awesome orgasms.

So basically, the story follows the progression of their mating frenzy and struggle for dominance over each other. This, as Marinus tries to get Callan to go public with his hybrid brethren… and some folks are trying to kill them. Not deep, not progressive. But a fun ride regardless, especially if you just embrace the cheese factor.

And apparently, there are like 1000 books in this series, so I can enjoy them for a long time to come. Bring on Sherra’s book. That’s got to be next, right???

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon
Tempting the Beast
by Lora Leigh
Release Date: November 24, 2003
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave

Review: Cupid’s Test

Reviewed by Shelly

This is a pretty short and fun read (about 22 pages or so) from a new to me author. Cupid is being tested by the Tooth Fairy to see if he can really make people fall in love.

Coming from two very different backgrounds Jay and Lilly are the chosen two for the test. If this story was longer, I’m pretty sure I would have liked it a lot more than I did. Both Jay and Lilly are feeling the stress of work and each have decided that the best thing to do is to go away for a long weekend. Circumstances (or is it Cupid?) force them two together and things take off from there.

There are several moments where I thought this story was going to get a little deeper in the rationale for both Jay and Lilly’s fundamental beliefs, but it didn’t and I was disappointed. I can’t give away too much because it’s a short read. I’ll admit that the start was great but I’m not a fan of introducing a mindset that leaves me, the audience, with the impression that one character has done all of the capitulating.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B-

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Cupid’s Test
by Megan Grooms
Release Date: February 2013

Review: Cowboys & Vampires

Reviewed by Jen

This first installment in the Venom Valley world is a genre bending, entertaining ride.   It’s male/ male romance against the backdrop of old west meets vampire with a bit of necromancy thrown in. How could I NOT give it a try?

With the death of his adopted mother, Josh learns the hard way that he can raise the dead.  And once they’re reanimated, only a shot to the head can put them back down. Unfortunately, a witness caught him putting a bullet in one of the zombies, turning him into a wanted man.  Knowing no one will believe his story about a walking corpse, he goes on the run.

Dex is Josh’s best friend and the object of his fantasies. He’s also a lawman, and once that witness I told you about comes forward, he must scramble to find Josh to get answers.  Dex adores his friend and has no idea that he shares the attraction.  (Once they meet back up, however, nothing is left to the imagination.)

In the meantime, there’s a vampire plaguing the town of Belkin’s Pass and targeting the local brothel.  He is intrigued by Josh and ends up pursuing him as well.  (That leads us to a fabulous face off of vampires vs zombies… but I digress.)   There’s a lot going on in a novella sized story, with at least three POVs, plenty of action, and sexual situations, both real and imagined.

I enjoyed the book overall. It was different. I liked the mishmash of genres that usually steer clear of each other. But I’ll admit that some of my enjoyment was in the slight campiness of it all.  I liked the main characters, though I never felt like we got to know them deeply.  I felt like Dex and Josh jumped in the sack really fast after years of never revealing their feelings to one another.  And there is still a lot we don’t know… specifically about Josh’s past and side character Glory’s spirit lover.

There are multiple sort-of hypothetical sex scenes… kind of imagined sex scenarios in the characters’ heads.  They would think about the dirty things they would do to each other –or wanted to do.  One such scene would have been more than enough, IMO.  The actual sex scenes were good and satisfying, though I was amused at how many different euphemisms I read for a… er, back channel.

Be warned: this story is not self-contained.  There is a gnarly cliffhanger at the end.  But the good news for folks who want to keep reading: this is a re-release of book one in the series… and book two has already been written. Bait will also be re-released under a new title, Stakes & Spurs, though I’m not sure on the date.

Rating: B

*Book provided by publisher for review

Cowboys & Vampires
by Hank Edwards
Release Date: April 17, 2013
Publisher: Wilde City

 

Review: Chasing Mrs. Right

Reviewed by Allison

Ian didn’t want a Welcome Home party. He wasn’t ready and he didn’t know half the people in the club anyway. After 10 years active duty, there are things you can’t unsee. And those things mess with a man. But, as he fled the scene, he bumped into a miracle on legs (sexy ones at that.) The woman he ran into and subsequently patched up had a unique talent – she brought him peace. A simple touch could calm his anxiety like nothing before.  He knew she was special and he had to keep her in his arms longer. A one night stand is a good start…

The strange but beautiful man that ran Roxanne over and proceeded to bandage her scrape, lit her on fire like never before. He made her feel things she never thought she would.  He made her want. Best thing to do for a commitment-phobe like herself? Get him out of her system. All she needed was just one night. Love would only lead to pain and hatred anyway, but lust on the other hand was fun. And her plan was working magically…until he said his name and she realized that she was in bed with her best friend’s older brother.

Ian and Roxanne had a LOT of growing to do. They both had inner demons to fight: his, a product of war and hers, a product of a very selfish and unhappy mother. Even though Ian was dealing with “almost PTSD” (even though I’m not sure that you can almost have something like that) he came around to the idea of he and Roxanne a lot quicker than she did. She did her best to push him away, convinced that it would only lead to tears and heartbreak. He seduced her into spending more time with him and then won her heart by opening up, trusting her, and needing her. It was hard at times to watch someone push the best thing in their life away so fervently, but I was also glad that they didn’t get over such huge fears so quickly either. I think the “I love you” came a bit too quickly, but it certainly wasn’t easily which made up for part of it. Still, through all the misunderstandings, Ian and Roxanne are a couple you root for and pray they see the light, so they can be the gooey happy couple hiding in the corner pawing at each other at parties.

This was a good follow up to the first book in Ms. Robert’s series, Wrong Bed, Right Guy. I really enjoyed visiting with our first couple since Ian is Elle’s brother, we get a glimpse life after their “HEA”. These stories are solidly entertaining reads, very spicy, and my favorite part – the MAN chases the WOMAN! Pretty refreshing change of roles in romance.  I love that she tells us that not all men are afraid of commitment, nor are all women ready to hop into marriage at every turn! I’ll definitely be tuning in for the next chapter to see who Nathan (also introduced in Book 1) is bringing to Elle’s wedding!

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Entangled

Click to purchase: Amazon
Chasing Mrs. Right
by Katee Robert
Release Date: March 25, 2013
Publisher: Entangled

Review: Love of My (Other) Life

Reviewed by Shelly

Don’t be fooled by the cover, I have no idea what the cover even has to do with the story. When I first started reading I was reminded of The Time Travelers Wife. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t even get past the first three chapters of that story; surprisingly this is a far sight better story to me. Tessa Barnum is a 30-something divorcee, existing without a direction. Her co-op apartment is two years behind in fees and she’s working part-time hours with the elderly. Painting… the one passion she has… was diminished by her increasing frustrations with her ex-husband and her art instructor. One day while minding her own business and running late to her part time job, Tessa is approached by a disheveled Brian Tennyson who claims that they’re married ‘in his world’.

There were a lot of things that I liked about this story, but the pacing wasn’t one of them. I thought it was a bit slow in the beginning and Tessa was a bit too old to be so adrift in her life. Also, I’m not sure about that whole parallel universe concept thingie and the way it blends into a romance story, because I’ve rarely seen that work out with an HEA that was, in fact, happy. What I did like was the witty dialogue and the development of the two main characters. Even though the story takes place in a few days, Slatton was able to develop a redeeming story that was interesting to read.

Tessa is quite the hot mess when we meet her – she’s got a good heart but she feels, rightfully so, beaten down by the choices she’s made. Then, Brian comes in with his far-fetched pick up line. It’s rightfully hard for Tessa to believe Brian’s fantastical story and the way he makes her feel. (If she had, this review would not be so kind.) He’s got her doing things that she wouldn’t normally do, but there’s such an inherent connection there that leaves Tessa not knowing which way is up.

Brian, on the other hand, reminds me of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, just absolutely 100% nerd until he gets passionate about something. Then he becomes even nerdier. The tech talk was a little distracting until I just started treating it as if I’m watching Star Trek. The chemistry between Brian and Tessa was well done and even though the time frame was short the sex scenes were believable, especially when Brian ‘reads’ Tessa’s sexual state – that actually had me laughing out loud.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Parvati Press via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Love of My (Other) Life
by Traci Slatton
Release Date: January 31, 2013
Publisher: Parvati Press

Review: Werewolves Be Damned

Reviewed by Jen

Nexi thought she was just a regular human woman.  She didn’t even know supernatural creatures existed… until werewolves attacked her home and killed her parents. That’s when her life changed forever.  The Guardians who arrived on the scene filled her in on the missing pieces.  Not only are there paranormal beings; she is one, herself.

Nexi is actually part Guardian, part witch.  When her mother was killed, her father opted to bind her abilities and have her raised in the human world.  But once the secret is exposed, Nexi opts to embrace her true heritage –her gifts and her magic– so she can wreak vengeance on the wolves who killed the couple who raised her.

Kyden is one of the Guardians who rushed to save Nexi that fateful night. And ever since, he has been drawn to her iron will and take-no-prisoners attitude.  When the opportunity arises for him to train her, he jumps at the chance. Suddenly, their cantankerous relationship turns into something more fiery.

As Nexi trains and gets stronger, we learn about some malevolent force rallying supernaturals to great violence.  Nexi’s parents were only the beginning. She must work with Kyden to figure out who is behind it all –and why it feels like it all has something to do with her.

I had mixed feelings about the book. I thought the world-building was interesting and I liked the premise.  Stacey Kennedy does a good job setting up the Otherworld and its various factions.  I found some of the secondary characters intriguing and I’d like to see more of them… (Valor, anyone?)  The sexual tension between Nexi and Kyden is hot… and though it took forever for them to seal the deal, the sex is pretty good.

However, I never felt a deep connection to the main character.  Nexi seems kind of one-note throughout the book: revenge at all costs… which eventually morphs into the two-notes of revenge at all costs plus I love Kyden.  I know there is more to her than that; and I would have liked to see it. On top of that, I felt like her relationship with Kyden progressed really fast, making the depth of their connection hard for me to believe entirely.  In fact, a lot of things seemed to develop quickly or easily, like Nexi’s ability to accept the supernatural; her ability to fight; and her friendships and connections to other members of the Otherworld.

There were obviously some sexual developments that happened between Nexi and Kyden off-page, which were alluded to when we jumped from their initial contact to even more intimate terrain. And while we’re talking sex… I never got a satisfying explanation on why Nexi was a 25 year-old virgin.  She’s hot and there’s nothing apparently wrong with her; plus she doesn’t have any moral or religious reasons we know of.  I just don’t buy it.

Overall, I found the book a pretty good read.  I liked it, but I didn’t love it.  I’m curious if future books in the series will continue to focus on Nexi or on other characters in the Otherworld.

Rating: B-

*ARC Provided by Entangled 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Werewolves Be Damned
by Stacey Kennedy
Release Date: April 15, 2013
Publisher: Entangled

Review: Star Crossed

Reviewed by Shelly

Picking up immediately after the first in the series left off, Star Crossed continues the story of Clay Powers’ family. This time the story is about his sister (by choice, not blood), Juliet ‘Jules’ Conner and her starcrossed lover, Romeo Wellings. I know what you’re thinking – not another Romeo and Juliet story, it’s been done! Well heck yeah it’s be been done, but Moon has her own spin on it and it’s quite good. But make sure you like your drama – all day, e’ryday.

If you’ve not picked up Defy the Odds, I would definitely recommend that you pick up a copy because it’s really good and Moon doesn’t rehash anything from Clay and Melody’s story to bring you up to speed. Jules is the sheriff, Wyatt’s, twin. They’ve been inseparable since birth and despite their hijinks you could feel the underlying affection they have for each other. In the small town of Garnet, Jules is also a volunteer Sheriff’s deputy, the town’s only lawyer and along with her brothers she co-owns the MMA training center. She’s the kind of fighter who will kick your butt while wearing a Gucci suit. But even with her enviable wardrobe and loving family, there’s very little that excites Jules enough to see a future not living without her twin for the rest of her life.

And in comes Romeo Wellings. Romeo was Clay’s championship fight opponent in Defying the Odds. Raised by their poor mother, Romeo and his brothers (Nova and Tino) did not have the best start in life and this was further complicated by Nova and Tino’s thug of a father taking them into his home while they were at an impressionable age. Romeo has a lot of guilt and remorse about the way things went down during that time and this sets the stage for an interesting adaption of the Shakespeare’s tale of the Capulets and the Montagues.

Romeo and Juliet, as Romeo likes to call her, are a fun couple to know. Separately they were really quite interesting, complicated and had well rounded personalities but together – oh dang, talk about combustible (in a good way). Their relationship didn’t start in the conventional way. You see folks, Jules’ brother Clay issued to Romeo a heck of a beat down in their caged fight but when Clay’s girlfriend Melody was attacked by her psycho ex-husband, Romeo stepped up and saved the day (that’s from book 1). And from that point on, it’s hard for any sane person (except for Wyatt, but that’s another story) to dislike Romeo including Jules.

There’s a ton of sex between these two — I think I’ve hit my max on gratuitous copulations – so much so that somewhere during the second half I asked myself if Jules was truly interested in Romeo as a person or she just didn’t want to be alone. But thankfully, Moon brought me back around to her way of thinking. Comparatively, this is a darker story than the other and the violence count is high and frequent; keep in mind my earlier suggestion because without the back story that the UFC fighters are a little special in their own right, you might question the survivability of some of the injuries but thick skulls and strong wills prevail.

In the end, Jules and Romeo reminded me that sometimes true love doesn’t always look pretty and flowery. Sometimes you’ve gotta get your hands a little dirty and fight for it. Speaking of dirty — I can’t wait for Wyatt and Tabitha’s story. I think that might rock my world even more that this one did.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B+

*Provided by Loose ID via NetGalley 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Star Crossed
by Kele Moon
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Publisher: Loose ID

Review: Big Bad Beast

Reviewed by Jen

When I first got the whiff of a pairing between Ric and Dee a few books back, I was really excited about the idea.  But when I got to know Dee a little better in the last installment and watched her interaction with Blayne, my excitement started to wane a bit.  Frankly, she was kind of a bitch and I have a hard time rooting for characters who aren’t likeable.  My opinion of Dee did improve in this book, but this wasn’t among my favorites in the series.

It got off to a slow start.  We spend a lot of time with Ric making cow eyes at Dee and her pretty much blowing him off.  Then, she suddenly decides to take him up on all of his flirting, and it kind of feels out of the blue.  We find out in her POV stuff that she has always found him attractive, but her move to go for it with him was abrupt and seemed out of left field.  Regardless, once the two of them finally started a romance, the book began to pick up some steam.

For those who aren’t familiar with the characters, Ric is a master chef who also runs the local hockey team and helps lead a shifter crime fighting force. (A multi-tasker.) He is also supermodel gorgeous and has been completely head over heels with Dee for as long as he has known her.  Dee is a trained killer, a former Marine, and country girl.  (Yes, we’ve returned to the hillbilly Smith pack for this one.)  She also works for Ric’s “Group.”

As the story begins, the Group is still investigating the human organization kidnapping shifter hybrids and forcing them to fight.  And that storyline runs throughout the book.  The Group and the investigation are just kind of the background framework, however, for getting Dee and Ric together.  I felt like the relationship development was ok –not as good as the last two books.

But the best parts of this installment were the same things that I have found consistently enjoyable about every book in the series. 1) The same core group of characters plays a prominent role. We get to continue following their lives and (mostly) enjoying their quirks.  Each one of them is so clearly defined and stays true to who they are, book after book.  2) The sex is great.  And 3) The laughs are big.  Sometimes, we even get the sex and humor tied in together.

She was stupidly falling for a Van Holtz. The enemy wolf of her Pack. Her daddy hated Van Holtzes the way Dee hated the taste of zebra. Since she could crawl, he’d been warning her about staying away from them, never trusting them, and outright killing them if they got too close.Well… how could the man be any closer? He’d pushed her onto the bed and had buried his face into her pussy, licking and sucking his way into her heart. Turning her inside out, making her come again.  It just wasn’t fair.

How was she supposed to fight this? And, as she came all over his face, her entire body writhing on his bear-size bed, she wasn’t real sure anymore that she wanted to fight this.

Because, in the end, the man did make a hell of a waffle…

I know some of my fellow readers love, love, love these books.  I think, in this case, the characters just didn’t speak to me much. Dee was hard to relate to and not all that likeable.  This, while Ric is basically perfect and a little flat. For me, they series is fairly good. But as I’ve said before, don’t expect anything deep or with a lot of substance.

It’s light, funny, sexy, and over-the-top.

Rating: B-

Click to purchase: Amazon  
Big Bad Beast
by Shelly Laurenston
Release Date: May 1, 2011
Publisher: Kensington

 

Review: The Submissive

Reviewed by Shelly

When I read the book blurb for this story, nothing jumped out at me saying no – I’ve read blurbs before where I not only say no, but HELL NO, and this wasn’t one of those at all. Maybe I should have dug a little deeper when the Goodreads description starts by telling me ‘…seductive and scandalous has enthralled million…’ but we all know that both of those things are in the eyes of the beholder. And this beholder expected something different that what I got.

Book blurb:
Abby King has a secret fantasy. New York knows Nathaniel West as the brilliant and handsome CEO of West Industries, but Abby knows he’s more: a sexy and skilled dominant who is looking for a new submissive. Yearning to experience a world of pleasure beyond her simple life as a librarian, Abby offers herself to Nathaniel, to fulfill her most hidden desires. After only one weekend with the Master, Abby knows she needs more, and fully submits to Nathaniel’s terms. But despite the pleasure he takes in Abby’s willing spirit, the Nathaniel hidden behind the rules remains cold and distant. As Abby falls deeper into his tantalizing world of power and passion, she fears that Nathaniel’s heart may be beyond her reach—and that her own might be beyond saving…

After I started reading I thought I was reading the wrong book – I double checked and yep, I’m reading the right one. Abby King does have a secret fantasy alright, but to me, it has very little to do with being submissive and instead has everything to do with being a sexual servant. I don’t want to call it being a slave because to me (and Merriam-Webster) a slave is involuntarily dependent on another and everything about Abby screamed use me, use me, which is fine, but that’s not even in the ballpark of what I find seductive.

I had so many problems with this book, they’re too many to list but I’ll give you top three.
1) Even though Nathaniel’s and Abby’s arrangement weas only on the weekend, he told her what to eat, what kind of exercises to do and how much sleep to get during the week. To me none of that is okay at any given day, time or universe.
2) If Nathaniel allowed Abby to sleep in his bedroom in his home, she slept on a palate on the floor. If I was okay with that, I would have lost my ever-loving mind.
3) I’m not sure what universe Abby lives in, but it’s not the same as Nathaniel, because while these and other similar things are going on, she’s wondering when he’s going to tell her he loves her. I know this is fantasy but goodness alive, make me wanna believe in your fantasy.

For kicks and giggles there’s a #4) Abby and Nathaniel having sex at a football game, surrounded by spectators, during the half-time show. Folks, I think (scratch that I know) I’m pretty opened minded – the plot can be sketchy, but if the people are likable, I’m in. Last, but not least, the last quarter of this book read completely opposite of the first three-fourths. I’ve since seen mention of the similarities with FSoG; I didn’t read that so I have nothing else to say there.

Overall, I just didn’t understand who would fantasize about being treated the way that Nathaniel treated Abby. I didn’t like anyone in this story, not one. As a matter of fact, I’ve never given an F to a story before but there’s a first time for everything.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: F

*ARC provided by NAL for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Submissive
by Tara Sue Me
Release Date: February 7, 2013
Publisher: NAL

Review: Defying the Odds

Reviewed by Shelly

Doesn’t every great romance start with some pie? You might have your doubts, but Melody and Clay will disagree. This is a new author for me and I was really afraid I wouldn’t like the book, but this stuff had me reading/ crying/ eating peanut butter sandwiches (don’t ask) at 3am in the morning because I couldn’t put it down. What the heck?!

Melody Ryan is down on her luck; she’s left the big city where she and her abusive ex-husband lived. Being from a small town, Melody knows that there was no way that she can stay where they lived, but she can’t go back home either, so she does the next best thing. She finds someplace in the middle. That place turns out to be the small town of Garnet where they grow their men big and broad – oh boy do they. While working in the all-day diner as a waitress, Melody sees Clay ‘Powerhouse’ Powers sitting by himself and offers him a slice of pie – on her dime. Clay is immediately smitten because girls don’t give him things.  They might want him to give, but they don’t.

In a good way, I couldn’t get over Melody’s matter of fact attitude about her past. Its a hard reality to face but she’s strong, brave, cautious, and still has that innate innocence about her that I found absolutely charming. It’s rare that a storyteller will use the metaphor of the boiling frog and apply that to the victim of abuse – I thought it was well done. I think that somewhere along the line Moon must have done her research for the subject matter. But I digress.

UFC heavyweight champion Clay is a big man, 6’5″ – 260lbs of pure fighting muscle, with a bad attitude; and thank goodness he’s very accepting of his short comings and has no real need to change. By the way, did I tell you he’s awesomely cool? And I thought he and Melody rocked it out something fierce. He’s a good foil for her and it doesn’t hurt that she’s got some dimples and a sweet smile that he can’t get enough of. I felt a little jealous of Melody because Clay has some overt testosterone manliness and muscle that she and I both think is the best thing since sliced bread. But what I especially appreciated about these two is that they didn’t jump into bed together. When they do it’s off the chain hot – ¡ay caramba!

Some of my favorite moments are between Clay and his best friend Wyatt. There’s some pretty smart and engaging dialogue that made me laugh out loud and even tear up a little. These two brothers loved each other and the routine they’ve developed over the years that takes the place of ‘I love you’ is quite memorable. Wyatt’s twin Jules’ story is next and I’m really looking forward to reading more about these guys.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B+

*Provided by Loose ID via NetGalley 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Defying the Odds
by Kele Moon
Release Date: December 20, 2011
Publisher: Loose ID