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

Click to purchase: Amazon or Enter to Win
Starlight
by Carrie Lofty
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Pocket Books

Guest Post & Giveaway: Carrie Lofty

Romance and…Soccer?

By Carrie Lofty

As I write this, I’m watching the Spain vs. Croatia game in the UEFA 2012 European Championships. A little…obscure for an American romance writer to talk about? Maybe. Just hang with me for a bit.

The true definition of love, in the long run, is putting up with or even appreciating your partner’s faults, quirks and tastes in a way still keeps your relationship is a-ok. We all know that in real life, happily ever after is an ongoing process!

Roughly fifteen years ago, I decided that in order to date the Englishman who would be become my husband, I needed to learn about soccer. Oh. First lesson: football. I sat through drawings that explained the offside rule, tables that explained the relegation and promotion process, and brackets that explained the World Cup—a major math brain challenge. If it weren’t for Excel, I’d never keep up.

This wasn’t an endeavor for just one guy, by the way. I was learning the language of a huge part of the world. To marry an Englishman and understand British and European culture, I needed to speak this language. Or at least fake it. (I shall speak with said language throughout this post.)

Two years ago during the 2010 World Cup…I saw a man. I will not tell you this man’s name, because that would ruin the illusion. Readers will always see characters differently than their creators do. But this man…


I had been searching for an actor or model or whomever to represent, in my mind, Alexander Christie, the hero STARLIGHT, the second of my Christies series of Victorian romances. No one matched! No one was him. He needed to be a gentleman by day and an animal at night—the sort who howls toward the sky when someone finally shows him the moon. And of course, he needed to be hella hot.

My chance sighting of a starting member of the Spanish national side was an instant fit. I was in love…kinda literally, but mostly literarily. He just was Alex. Thus began my obsessive quest to find pictures! I learned he can wear the hell out of a suit, and that he’s a rough, scheming, hardcore b*****d on the football pitch. Win!

The accidental connection between football and STARLIGHT even inspired a scene where Alex is challenged by his lady fair’s Glaswegian friends to a friendly game of footie after a church picnic. Had STARLIGHT been a medieval romance, the challenge might’ve been a joust or an almost-but-not-quite-friendly swordfight. Football was growing by leaps and bounds in the late Victorian years, primarily because it was easy for working men to play. As my husband always says, “All we needed was a ball and jumpers [sweaters] for goal posts.”

In a roundabout way, my ambition fifteen years ago not only helped me communicate with my husband about the Beautiful Game, but it added an extra level of depth to a book I would write more than a decade later. Alex is “rough posh.” He is an astronomer who can get down and dirty with the roughest characters in Glasgow. In other words, he’s just the sort of man who needed a footballer as my inspiration.

And then there’s real life love. My darling husband went so far as to buy me the national jersey [uniform] of this particular footballer as a present. The problem, though? By the time you read this, England will have played in their final group stage qualifier for the European Championships. If all goes according to predictions, they will meet one particular team during their quarterfinal match later this week… Spain.

Oops.

What’s next for me: After RT BookReviews 4½ Star Top Pick  STARLIGHT hits the shelves, I’ll be looking forward to the release of HIS VERY OWN GIRL, a historical romance set in World War II. It’s not women’s fiction. It’s not literary fiction. It’s a genuine romance, complete with sexy times and a happy ending. Look for it September 4th as a Pocket Star digital original novel. I cannot wait to see how readers respond!

I’ll also be launching a new co-written pseudonym, Katie Porter, with my long-time friend and critique partner, Lorelie Brown. Our “Vegas Top Guns” series of contemporary erotic romances will launch from Samhain on July 31 with the release of DOUBLE DOWN, which is also a RT BookReviews 4½ Star Top Pick. Two more from the series, INSIDE BET and HOLD ‘EM, will follow in August and September. You can learn more about these and future books at our website.

Where to find me:

Twitter: @carrielofty
I’d like to give away a copy of STARLIGHT, and I’ll ship anywhere. Just answer the question: Have you ever done or learned something in order to better communicate with your significant other? And for any of you who follow international football, I’ll welcome guesses as to my inspiration for Alex. That’ll be interesting!
Thanks again to Red Hot Books for having me!

This contest is closed. The winner is Crystal.

Review: Portrait of Seduction

Reviewed by Jen

Greta is a 20 year-old orphan who lives off the charity of her uncle. But she earns her keep, painting forgeries for him.  And she bides her time for the day he will arrange a proper marriage for her, as he has long promised.

During a family trip to the opera, Greta finds herself at the wrong place at the wrong time, and is taken hostage by a political zealot.  Her life is saved by an unlikely hero… the valet of one of the other guests.  Of course, no one realizes that Oliver is much more than a valet. He is really half-brother to Christopher, the man he pretends to serve. He’s actually undercover, using his position as an overlooked servant to learn political secrets. He and Christopher are worried about the future of their Austrian home and know it’s only a matter of time before Napoleon advances there.

Despite his much lower station, Greta is drawn to Oliver in a way that she can’t deny. And through a series of events, she ends up a guest in Christopher’s home. At that point, things escalate quickly between them.  Unfortunately, they both expect their love affair to be fleeting.  Greta has been promised to a man of her uncle’s choosing and Oliver knows that she is far beyond his reach.  But this is a love story, after all… and the fun is in watching the two of them break down the walls between them.  That, and watching their amazing sexual chemistry unfurl.  We’re also treated to some action as the story progresses, surrounding Greta’s forged paintings and a shifty man from Oliver’s past.

I really enjoyed this book. Both characters were so sympathetic.  I liked them both and found myself very invested in their relationship.  The sex was hot, especially seeing Oliver take the dominant position, despite his subservient role in the outside world.  I was grateful, too, that it didn’t cross over into BDSM (which I don’t really enjoy.)  It was just right for my taste.

Some of the secondary characters had clear backstories of their own. After a little digging, I found that they were featured in a previous work, Song of Seduction. But I never felt like I was missing anything.

All in all, it was a good book with hot sex, romance, and a happy ending.  4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Portrait of Seduction
by Carrie Lofty
Release Date: May 2, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press