Archives for May 2013

Review: At Last

Reviewed by Shelly

The cover doesn’t do this story justice because Stone’s debut novel is so much more than just a day at the beach. I was completely impressed with the way the writing got me going from happy to sad to shedding a tear. After being unceremoniously dumped at the church on her wedding day, both of Susan’s best friends recognize that the only way to make her feel better is get away and go on the planned honeymoon. Kevin has been in love with Susan since the first day he met her in college, and the last thing he wants is to be alone with her on her honeymoon trip in the beautiful tropical Cancun. Can Susan overcome her past to enjoy a future with Kevin?

While in college, Susan and Kevin (along with Liz) became fast friends and have pretty much stayed that way except that Liz doesn’t like Kevin (not even a little bit). Back in the college days, Kevin let his feelings toward Susan show by asking her out, but she promptly dismissed him and even went so far as to make fun of non-jock-like body. She did concede to friendship and for that Kevin was grateful and happy. After college, Kevin’s moved away. He now lives on the other side of the country, but still corresponds with Susan enough that he considers her his best friend.

This is a hard review for me, because I didn’t like the heroine — nope, not even a little bit — but I liked the hero enough that he made the story completely worth it. I thought Susan was shallow, completely self-centered and just plain ole not nice. There wasn’t a lot said about the ex-fiancé, but I couldn’t really blame him for dumping Susan, just the way he did it. Here’s some of my rant on Susan’s callousness towards others: Kevin escorts her down to Cancun and never once did she think to tell him thanks for doing that; she allows Liz to verbally degrade Kevin even after Susan and Kevin share some intimate moments, Kevin didn’t man up either but that’s another story; Susan doesn’t know that her assistant Jill is married with a daughter – how do you miss the photos on the desk and the wedding ring on Jill’s finger? How am I supposed to feel sympathy and empathy for someone who clearly doesn’t care about anyone but herself?

Don’t worry – I’ve not let Kevin off the hook. But I sure did like him a lot more that I liked Susan. He’s the guy next door — smart with the big heart. You know great things will happen to him, but he has to grow into his hotness. I couldn’t figure out why he loved Susan because her actions towards him were not lovable. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the way he developed from being a doormat (to both Susan’s insensitivity and Liz’s diatribe about his sexuality) into the man that Susan felt was deserving of her affections.

What I liked about the overall story was that it captured my attention and kept it – took me about a day to read. Never once did I think to put this book down and not find out what happens. The storyline was smart and the dialogue was on point. I found myself turning the page to see what’s going to happen to whom, because I just didn’t see it turning out well. But don’t worry HEA fans, Stone has you covered. The sex scenes were well done and I kept hoping for more of Kevin’s shirtless goodness.

If there’s a follow up, I really hope it’s for Liz and she gets knocked on her butt something good.  Something with Lance sounds good because I’m hoping she misjudged him because of his chosen career.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B-/C+

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
At Last
by Ella Stone
Release Date: April 6, 2013

Review: SEAL of Honor

Reviewed by Carrie

What is it about military men that get the blood pumping?

I will come right out and admit it – I am a sucker for a hot alpha Navy SEAL. Something about the combination of quiet strength, cocky confidence and unwavering need to protect all wrapped up in a body that is physically honed to perfection.

SEAL of Honor is the first in a new series by first time author Tonya Burrows and it’s a good one. Gabe Bristow is still ornery over having to leave the SEALs after an accident leaves him with a medical discharge. Floundering without the security of the Teams, his best friend Travis Quinn, also a former SEAL, convinces Gabe to join up with an A-Team-like group of men to rescue an American businessman kidnapped in Colombia.

To further complicate matters, the kidnapped businessman’s sister, Audrey, shows up to try to put her 2 cents in. It was a little odd that the reason they too her on was because she was fluent in Spanish when they already had a linguist on the team, but easily overlooked. There is a true progression of character for Audrey throughout the book. At first, I found her naïveté mildly annoying. For instance, when she and Gabe are surrounded by guerillas in the jungle and trying to escape, she was horrified that Gabe was going to kill a cow to cause distraction. Really? A cow was more important than evading death?

Fortunately, as the story progressed, Audrey put on her big girl panties and started to deal. By the end of the book, Audrey was no longer looking for someone to rescue her, but being proactive for herself. I liked that she was a good companion to Gabe. Her sweetness tempered all his stern childhood and military upbringing. The sexy scenes were a bit stilted, but I believe that will smooth out in later books. I also liked that their HEA wasn’t some long drawn out affair and I really hope that readers will get short updates about Gabe and Audrey later in the series.

Burrows does a nice job setting up the men for further books in the series. All of the men are outcasts from their former governmental-type jobs who, under the command of Gabe, begin to gel into a true unit by the end of the book. I’m very interested to see where the stories go, especially the badass explosives guy, Ian Reinhardt. Burrows hints to backstories of the men, and if you are a fan of tortured heroes, keep an eye on this series.

Grade: B

*ARC Provided by Entangled via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Seal of Honor
by Tonya Burrows
Release Date: May 27, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Review: Valkyrie Slumbering

Reviewed by Shelly

My first L VanHorn story, but not my last… and while it’s a novella it definitely drew me in. Kyra’s on a revenge quest. Her father’s been murdered and the need for justice is high with her. Along the countryside she meets Grim who has some (if not many) secrets and skill (both on the off the battlefield) and is on his own personal quest.

This story took about a chapter for me to get in to, but once I was in – I was on board for the adventure. I must give one single warning before going on. This is meant as the beginning of a series, and judging by this installment,they’re going to connect and more enjoyable if read in sequence. This one ended in a cliff hanger so it’s no stand-alone and I would definitely recommend sequential reading.

Kyra is a tough one – she has her feminine traits but she can kick some butt when she needs to. I liked her quite a bit but if I had my druthers I want to see more dialogue between these two. There are a lot of inner thoughts which is usually so one-sided, it’s from Kyra’s point of view. I can’t wait to read more about Grim. He’s the strong, unselfish and kinda chivalrous, in an ole school Viking way.

Best part and what I really liked about this story is the world building that VanHorn has started. The scenery and correlation to myth is vivid – really pretty awesome stuff and fun. So for that alone I can’t wait for the second story in the series. For such a short story, there are a few sexy times and while they were good (don’t judge) I think I would have liked to see this couple show some restraint. But hey – when in Viking land you gotta live everyday like it’s your last!

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B-

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Valkyrie Slumbering
by L Vanhorn
Release Date: March 2, 2013
Publisher: Inferno Publishing

Welcome New Reviewers

It’s with great pride and excitement that I introduce, not one, not two, but three fantastic new reviewers for the site.  I am stealing their info from the About Us section since you probably don’t make it over to that page too often.  Please take a moment and say hi to Carrie, Jaimie, and Janell. Make them feel welcome!

Also, I want to say thank you to all of the amazing applicants who contacted me about the position(s). There were so many great responses.  You guys are the best.

Carrie cut her teeth in romance with V.C. Andrews and Danielle Steele but now welcomes everything from paranormal romance to historical fiction.  A lover of angsty reads, gratuitous swearing and tortured heroes, she is never without a book and only buys purses that are big enough to hold her kindle.

She resides in the Chicago area with her husband & two children.  She can often be found tucked into the corner of her local pub with a book and a beer.

Carrie joined Red Hot Books as an Associate Reviewer in May 2013.  You can find her alter ego on Goodreads & Twitter.  Her email is rottenbanana76@yahoo.com
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Jaimie is an avid reader who, after only reading true crime, mystery and thrillers until the age of 30, now reads and loves just about every type of book.  The Twilight series was her first experience with genres she previously refused to try and the book collection quickly spun out of control after that.

She lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her three kids and works full-time during the day in the field of Copyright Law.  Jaimie joined the blog as an Associate Reviewer in May 2013. You can find her on Goodreads & Twitter and you can email her at jaimiescrazylife@gmail.com
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Janell became a hardcore reader when she had a new baby and a Kindle app. Now she’s That Mom, the one sitting in her car, reading a book on her phone, waiting to pick up her kid from preschool. Her love of romance novels is surpassed only by her love of cake. She mainly reads Contemporary and New Adult, although she’s had long dalliances with Regency and Cowboy romances. She’s also trying to write a New Adult book, so if you want to see her flail, ask her how it’s going.

Janell joined the blog as an Associate Reviewer in May 2013. She lives north of Seattle with her husband and two sons and works really hard at not having a day job. You can find her on Goodreads, Twitter, or Google+ (Janell Sutherland) –Her email is janellsutherland@yahoo.com.

Review: Inferno

Reviewed by Jen

I was thisclose to dropping out on this series. I’m not usually a YA reader, but I make a few exceptions with authors whose adult series I enjoy.  Reading the Nick books seemed like a no-brainer since it is so intimately entwined with Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter books.  But the early installments were just too young for me.  The characters, their thoughts, the dialogue, even the way they were treated by the adults seemed even younger than their chronological ages.  It alienated me. It felt like there just wasn’t enough growth.

I’m glad I gave it one more shot.  While this is still nothing like the Dark Hunter books in the romance department, I finally feel like we’re seeing the characters evolve and mature.  There is a minimum amount of Cherise (who I have grown to truly dislike reading,) far fewer “gah”s, and less ruminating from Nick in general about being a misfit kid.  Now before you do too much celebrating, there is still a big old message (not even a little bit subtle) about being true to yourself and fighting bullies.  But still… improvement.

As the book begins, Nick is dealing with the revelation that Kody is not who she appears.  She may be, in fact, an assassin sent to kill him.  Of course, we the readers are privy to who she really is and why she is there, but this is a tough pill for Nick to swallow. He breaks up with her, feeling heartbreak for the first time.  Thankfully, the teen angst is only a small part of the book.

The larger arc centers on someone targeting both Nick and his father, trying to get to the Malachai mojo.  It gets a little complicated with all of the players. But it’s got a good amount of intrigue and momentum.  What I liked about it, is that the series arc actually moved forward in a big way.  I felt like as much actually happened towards moving along the series arc in this book –as in all the previous ones combined.

There are a lot of cameos and shout-outs to Dark Hunter characters and how they fit into the big picture. There are explanations and flash forwards.  It’s a fun ride. And Nick is so much less annoying.

I think the Epilogue is going to garner some mixed reaction.  It’s clearly the set-up for the next book, but I hope it’s not the subject of the entire installment.  For me, that would be a complete throwaway.  I won’t spoil it, but IMO, it equates right up there with an entire book that’s a “dream” and will have no real impact on the series as a whole.  But I will give Kenyon the benefit of the doubt and give it a try. After all, she came through in this one.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by St Martin’s 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Inferno
by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin

One More RT Giveaway

I’ve got one more giveaway of RT goodies for you. This one is for Accidentally Wolf by Erin Flynn and The Turning by Erin R Flynn. US/ CAN.

Special Agent in Charge, Seraphine Thomas, lives for her job at the FBI. One of the youngest female agents with her own team, she thrives in undercover work to make the city she loves safer. But Sera’s on-track life is thrown into chaos when she’s attacked during a bust gone bad and is left figuring out what it means to be a werewolf.

Right away, she learns that she’s more powerful and able to do things that she shouldn’t be able to do so quickly after her transition. The rules of her old life don’t seem to apply to much now that she’s a shifter, and knowing who she can trust is even more complicated.

When she’s transferred to a special branch of the FBI made up of paranormals policing others of their kind and given a promotion, things start looking up—until her abnormal level of power creates a list of enemies for her before she’s even learned who her allies are.

Graduate medical school, start competitive internship, don’t get cut from the program, become a surgeon. It was a great plan. One Kelly Murphy loved and had dreamed of most of her life… And it was blown to hell in a night with an uninvited bite.Now she’s missing three days of her life, trying to handle her freaked out best friend and parents who called the police when she went missing, all as she realizes she’s not the same person she was before. She’s different. Like has FANGS different.

When HE shows up on her doorstep claiming to know what happened to her, Kelly’s not sure that makes things any less confusing. But at least he can guide her, right? Either way, she has a plan and a choice she didn’t make won’t stop her… Even if she might have the urge to bite her patients from now on.

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Review: Bear’s Gold

Reviewed by Shelly

After leaving her putz of an ex-boyfriend, Riley Gold is going back home. She’s had it with loser men and the only comfort she can handle right now is with her family. On the way home she has some car trouble (running into a tree doesn’t help) and has to seek the help of strangers. She meets stranger and bear shifter Theo Kodiak after knocking on his door. Theo is raising his four year old twin boys in Den County. His wife had been dead for three years and the First Moon Festival is fast approaching where he hopes to claim a new mate; will he be able to keep Riley considering she’s only human?

I’ve read a few of Hines stories in the past and while they’ve been okay, this one really sucked me in. This is a take on the Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Hines does a fine job with her storytelling. A preschool teacher, Riley has a quirky yet likable character. I found myself sympathizing with her and rooting for her to find where she belongs. She’s a wanderer who can’t seem to find a place where she’s comfortable, can settle down and call home. After the immediate and mutual attraction that she feels with Theo, Riley thinks she’s found that place, but then secrets are revealed and things start falling apart.

What a bear of a man Theo turns out to be! He’s a good father and productive member of Den County. He also happens to drawn to Riley like a bear to honey, but he knows that despite their explosive chemistry she’s leaving as soon as her car is drivable.

I’m not going to burst a bubble here, but there’s no great adventure in this – no high emotions (other than love and happiness), anger or guns ablazing –and the bad guy isn’t a bad guy at all, just a dude who’s made some really bad decisions. Instead of action adventure, we’re on a journey with Riley as she has to do what we all do – finding your happiness where you can.

There’s a pretty hot and heavy sex scene that really burned up the pages and made me a tad bit jealous of Riley – oh, to have that kind of focus put on you, such bliss. And yes, in case you’re wondering the twins steal every scene they’re in, rambunctious yet adorable.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon
Bear’s Gold
by Yvette Hines
Release Date: November 30, 2012
Publisher: Romance Management, Inc

Associate Reviewer Wanted

It’s with some sadness that I’m announcing Allison is leaving the blog. She’s got a lot going on in her life and there’s just no room for blogging right now. I still have the wonderful Shelly here to help me with all of my menage, erotica and BDSM needs. But I’d like to bring on another reviewer to help out too!

Primarily, I’d love to find a contemporary romance reader.  That doesn’t have to be the only genre you review, but it would be a great help.  If you also like older YA, NA, f/f, romantic suspense or any other romance subgenre that I don’t usually feature, I’d be happy to use that as well.

Do you review on Goodreads, Shelfari, or Amazon? Are you ready to jump into blogging –or to drop the responsibility of your own blog? If you’re interested, fill out the form below and we’ll take it from there. If not, I’d be grateful if you help me spread the word. 

*Update* I have had so many great responses, I am taking down the form while I sort through them. Thank you so much!

RT Giveaway Number 2!

Here’s the second giveaway I promised you. More of my RT goodies: The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson and Abducted by TR Ragan. This one is also US/ CAN.

The portal to an alternate world was the start of all her troubles – or was it?When Eve Carpenter lands with a splash in the Thames, it’s not the London or England she’s used to. No one has a telephone or knows what a computer is. England’s a third world country and Princess Di is still alive. But worst of all, everyone thinks Eve’s a spy.Including Major Harker who has his own problems. His sworn enemy is looking for a promotion. The general wants him to undertake some ridiculous mission to capture a computer, which Harker vaguely envisions running wild somewhere in Yorkshire. Turns out the best person to help him is Eve.

She claims to be a popstar. Harker doesn’t know what a popstar is, although he suspects it’s a fancy foreign word for ‘spy’. Eve knows all about computers, and electricity. Eve is dangerous. There’s every possibility she’s mad.

And Harker is falling in love with her.

Elizabeth Gardner (Lizzy) is seventeen-years old when she tells her parents she’s going out with her girlfriends. Instead, she meets up with her boyfriend, Jared Shayne. As she walks home beneath an inky black sky, her perfect night becomes her worst nightmare.Fourteen years later, Lizzy is a licensed PI known as the ‘one who got away’. When she’s not searching for runaway teenagers, working on insurance scams, or talking to her therapist, she’s at the local high school teaching young girls to defend themselves. But her world is turned upside down for the second time after she receives a call from Jared Shayne. He’s an FBI special agent now and he needs her help. Lizzy has no plans to get involved. Not until Jared tells her the kidnapper left her a personalized note.

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Review: Any Duchess Will Do

Reviewed by Jen

You can’t go wrong with the Spindle Cove series. This fourth installment throws together an unlikely pair, but it totally delivers on everything I have come to love about these books.  It’s charming; it’s sexy; it has superbly drawn characters; and I completely believed in the romance.

Griffin York is a wealthy and successful duke known more for his debauchery than anything else.  His mother is desperate for him to marry and produce an heir, but she is having no luck convincing him to give her a grandchild. So she takes him to Spindle Cove with an offer in hand. He can pick any woman there and she’ll turn make her into a duchess inside of a month. If she is successful, Griff will propose; if not, his mother promises never to pursue the issue again.  Thinking himself quite clever, he chooses the least likely duchess he can find: a serving girl named Pauline.

Pauline has no social graces, but she works hard and cares deeply for her disabled sister. When Griff makes his offer, she decides to ride it out. He even sweetens the pot by offering her cash to foil his mother’s plans. Unfortunately, neither counted on how quickly they would fall for one another.

Obviously, this is Pygmalion-esque, but there are other things going on to give it a fresh feel. Most notably, that includes the real reason Griff refuses to wed.  It’s not a big shocker or anything, but his circumstances give his character much more depth –and make him very sympathetic.  True, he is an asshat at times, but it was never so much that I couldn’t forgive or understand why he was acting the way he did.  Dare has crafted an emotionally fragile man who simply doesn’t know how to deal with his own tragic loss.  And it’s very satisfying to watch Pauline help him face his demons and allow hope back into his heart.

Pauline comes a long way in a short time, and I didn’t completely buy that she would progress so much in just a few days. However, it was easy to push that away because I enjoyed the romance so much, I just wanted to concentrate on that.  The sexual tension is good. The payoff is hot.  –I loved that she wasn’t a virgin and I equally loved Griff’s reaction when he found out.

All in all, I really liked this one –and would definitely recommend.  You don’t have to read the other Spindle Cove books to jump in. Though we do revisit some of the characters and events, this works great as a stand-alone.

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
Any Duchess Will Do
by Tessa Dare
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Avon