Review: Sugar by Lauren Dane

Reviewed by Sara

“Sugar” is Lauren Dane’s sequel to her 2013 short story “Cake” and is definitely not a standalone story. It is, however, an interesting peek at a great couple that I was happy to connect with again.

Gregori and Wren have been together for years, but only now have situations, personal circumstances and Wren’s career aligned to make marriage a possibility. Together, marching to the beat of their own drum, they decide to elope and spend a week living the high life in New York City. Unfortunately, mechanical difficulties ground their flight and storms make travelling forward to New York an impossibility. The two find themselves stranded in Iowa. Instead of giving up on their wedding they quickly tie the knot and embark on a roadtrip honeymoon. Over the course of their travels they meet some interesting characters and encounter some highs and lows, but the focus of the trip is always on each other and their changing life together. [Read more…]

Review: Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled by Lauren Dane

Reviewed by Sara

Book 1 of Lauren Dane’s Whiskey Sharp series, Unraveled, follows the story of Maybe, a tattooed, punk rock, drummer and hairstylist. She’s a straight shooter, irreverent and blunt, but she’s also highly compassionate and committed to her friends and chosen family. Maybe lives in Seattle with her sister, who has a traumatic past, is estranged from her parents and is ready to take it to the next level with her bearded, tattooed and Russian boss Alexsei.

The characters in Unraveled, both main and background, were great with tons of description and backstory. Maybe, her sister, friends and neighbors are described in a way that makes them jump off the page. They’re multi dimensional and vibrant and the kind of characters that you want to go hang out with. [Read more…]

Review: Alpha’s Challenge by Lauren Dane

Reviewed by Jen

I had high hopes for this book. Alpha shifter romances can be super-sexy. And in this case, it also seemed like it might be a forbidden love kind of deal because the Alpha in question, Cade, is falling for the sister of his greatest enemy. He’s a guy who has always put his pack first and now finally has something for himself in Grace, the selfless doctor who is willing to put herself on the line to go against her family and do the right thing. [Read more…]

Review: Heart of Darkness by Lauren Dane

Reviewed by Jen

I had high expectations going into this book –A– because I have heard great things about Lauren Dane and –B– some of my other bookish friends gave it generally positive reviews. While I didn’t actively dislike it, unfortunately, this wasn’t a winner for me. The worldbuilding is solid and pretty interesting, but I failed to connect with the characters and I didn’t feel invested in their romance.

Meriel is a powerful witch and the heir apparent to her family’s clan. The only thing that is holding her back from reaching her potential is the fact that she has not found her bondmate and ascended with him. Finding her magical other-half happens pretty quickly, though, when she goes to investigate a loner witch who is using her family’s magical font without permission. [Read more…]

Review: There All Along by Lauren Dane and Megan Hart

there all alongReviewed by Jen

This two story anthology features novellas by Lauren Dane and Megan Hart. The blurb says they are set in futuristic worlds, though I felt like the Hart story had a more sci-fi feel, and Dane’s had a more Old West flavor.

Land’s End – Verity Coleman is tired of putting aside what she wants to please others. Married off to an abusive husband at the age of 14, becoming a widow was the best thing that ever happened to her. For the past few years, she has been nursing a crush on Loyal, the lawman who travels into town every few months. But she’s ready to act on her feelings and seize the opportunity to get out of the town that’s stifling her.

I liked Loyal. He’s not exactly the strong, silent type, but he’s close. He’s kind of a big gruff man who has never settled down, never had any roots. But he looks forward to the days he gets in the young widow’s company. He dreams of her. He wants her. But he thinks he’s no good for her. (One of my favorite tropes!) I really enjoyed watching her break down his resolve and seduce him into the kind of relationship they both wanted.

The story did drag for me at times. Occasionally, I was tempted to skim the narrative to get back to the parts where the romance was unfolding. Verity and Loyal had great chemistry, though. And their love scenes are smoking hot.

Rating: B/B-

By the Sea of Sand – I enjoyed this sci-fi romance story a bit more than the first novella. Set in another world, it focuses on Telia, a woman with a young son, who takes in wounded soldiers to heal. She thought she was a widow, until her latest soldier turns out to be her husband, Kason, who was taken by the enemy. The bad guys altered him somehow, suppressing his memories. And Talia can’t clue him in without possibly setting off an implanted trigger in his mind. Kason has to remember on his own, or the results could be disastrous.

The connection between them is clear and immediate, even without Kason’s memories. These two are hot together, which was great. More than that, though, I really felt how difficult it was for Talia to have her husband back, but as a different man. At the same time, Kason’s frustration was tangible… and anyone could see how much these two needed one another.

The danger plot with the aliens was ok. My only complaint about the story was that I felt the resolution was too easy after all the build-up. But that wasn’t enough to detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon

There All Along
by Lauren Dane and Megan Hart
Release Date: December 3, 2013
Publisher: Berkley

Review: Marked by Kit Rocha, Vivian Arend, and Lauren Dane

markedReviewed by Carrie

Ooooh lord, this anthology might set your e-reader (and panties) on fire!  I’ve said before that I don’t care for novellas, but some of my favorite authors have been cranking out some great ones!  Let’s break it down.

Beyond Temptation
by Kit Rocha (Grade: B)

This is set in the dystopian world of Sector Four.  It works ok as a standalone if you haven’t read the other books, but you really should because they are that good.  [Read more…]

Review: Drawn Together

drawn togetherReviewed by Jaimie

Drawn Together is the final book in Lauren Dane’s Brown Siblings series and she saved the best for last!  While I’m really sad to see the series end, Dane did the series justice and ended it in a way that will satisfy her loyal fans.  Throughout all of the books we have seen and heard a lot about Raven, the mysterious, bitchy best friend of Erin and Brody.  While she could be downright vicious to outsiders, Raven was always fiercely loyal to the two Brown siblings.  I just “knew” there was an incredible story waiting to be told about her and Dane did not disappoint. [Read more…]

Review: Unconditional

unconditionalReviewed by Jaimie

The Cascadia Wolves series was my first experience with Lauren Dane’s work and since then I have devoured everything she has written.  While I love all her books, this series holds a special place in my heart.  We have seen brief glimpses of the wolves in the De La Vega Cats and Bound by Magick books but I was really excited to return to the world of Nina, Cade, Grace, et al.  The wait was worth it – Unconditional was an excellent addition to the series and it sets up stories for the other two series as well!

Police Officer Michelle Slattery is woken up one morning by a frantic call from her best friend’s mother reporting that there has been a struggle at her friend’s apartment and that she is missing.  As a witch, Michelle is vaguely aware that witches are being targeted all over but she has no idea how bad the situation is. [Read more…]

Review: Tart

Reviewed by Allison

Juliet Lamprey is the owner of the hottest bakery in town, Tart. Since she’s joined forces with her best friends to include a catering business and art gallery, she’s busier than ever. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t get lonely. She’s been in love with her best friend Cal Whaley for what seems like a lifetime (he was her first kiss at 14,) but he refuses to act on what they have for fear of ruining their relationship. So, when sexy cowboy Gideon Carter moves back into town, she not only lets the sparks fly, she encourages them. They quickly fall into each other’s lives and in love…much to Cal’s dismay.

He realizes he missed the boat on any chance he might have had with Juliet, but decides to try to convince her anyway. He catches her one night out behind Tart after closing up…and kisses her. She tries to stop it, but it’s the moment she’s been waiting for her entire adult life – and it’s as wonderfully amazing as she thought it would be! Except, she has a boyfriend.

Ever the honest girlfriend, she yells at Cal for his shitty timing and insists that she tell Gideon that night. Cal insists on coming along (since it’s his fault and everything) and everyone is ready for the argument of the century when she confesses…until Gideon suggests something neither of them considered. He doesn’t want to lose her, but he knows how long and how much Juliet has wanted Cal so he doesn’t want her to be unhappy. He and Cal have both been with men (convenient, eh?) and have known each other practically all their lives, so why not simply share Juliet? An intriguing proposition indeed!

I know not everyone is a PM fan, but I love them. I love the intricacies of dealing with everyone’s emotions, I feel like it would make you more emotionally aware. One one hand, it’d be twice the exasperation with the male persuasion, but wouldn’t double the affection be worth it? I like that she had Gillian’s sister-in-law, Erin, (I really need to read the Brown siblings series now!) to talk to about the societal views of their situations because everyone other one I’ve read, there was no support network. I loved that they were so accepted in their circle of friends, even if their family (hers was the WORST) didn’t see it the same way.

I have to say, as far as attitudes about their arrangement went, Gideon’s grandfather stole the show:

“I’m an old man, Calvin, I don’t bother to beat around the bush. I don’t much care for judging what people get up to in the bedroom, long as everyone there is on board. But I can see your heart. You wear it on your sleeve. You love my grandson and he loves you right back. And her too. So what difference does it make to me that there’s three of you instead of two? Or that two of you have the same equipment? I’m going to die soon enough; I don’t need to carry anyone else’s choices. I just need to love my family. If you were bad for him, I’d show you just how well I can still throw a punch to the face. But you’re all right. For a lawyer.”

I really didn’t enjoy the changing POV within the same paragraph as it annoys the crap out of me, but I was grateful to be given bird’s eye view of each character as they dealt with their unique situation. The story was a solid one and I will definitely be continuing with this sizzling yet romantic series!

Rating: B+

Click to purchase: Amazon
by Lauren Dane
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Berkley

Review: Cherished

Reviewed by Allison

I really wanted to read Lauren Dane’s Tart that recently released, but you know me – I had to read the first one first! It’s compulsive, I swear. The first Delicious tale is part of a BDSM “duology” by Maya Banks & Lauren Dane.

Exiled by Maya Banks

A true piece of fantasy, Ms. Banks takes us to a hidden island where we find Prince Alexander exiled and lying in wait to take back his country from the militant rebels who stole his kingdom. We discover that while he’s been in exile, he’s been helping a woman named Talia, whom he met when she served at the Palace. He’s been keeping a rather proprietary eye on her, sending her money to pay for her mother’s cancer treatments, her schooling, and her apartment. The only thing he asks in return is that she come without questions when he finally calls upon her.

The long awaited day has finally come, Talia gets her summons and though she feels ashamed for making such a bargain, Talia can’t regret her choices since they guaranteed her mother a second chance at life. So, anxiously, she goes with the guard sent to bring her to her Prince. Full disclosure, she knows exactly what he expects, even more so after she arrives and he sits her down to spell it out. The terms: 6 months, full obedience, he –and only he– will take her innocence, but she is to serve he and his four trusted guards. In exchange, she will live in Heaven on Earth – she will be pampered, cosseted, and cared for. Like I said…a true fantasy!

She has issues with complying to his demands at first, but after she learns to trust each man, a bond forms between the five of them. They make her first time meaningful, and anytime after that is just as tender, even with the underlying commands. What I love about the way Maya Banks does BDSM is that it isn’t about the whips or chains or even commands, it’s about what each person needs and the give and take you can find in any relationship. It’s more about trust than anything else.

Xander does eventually get the chance to take back his throne, but in attempting to protect Talia from the rebels, goes about their separation the worst way. However, their time apart and misconceptions just makes the reunion that much sweeter and you can’t help but fall in love with all four men.

I think that if Ms. Banks had set this story in any other setting it would have been ridiculous and unbelievable, but since it was a fairy tale from the start, for some reason it was easier to just go with it, no matter how fantastical it got. I loved the writing, it was HOTT as hell, and I highly recommend it!

Grade: A

Sway by Lauren Dane

This book was the reason I read the duology and honestly I was kind of disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it was hot. But I really liked Daisy and the story seemed kind of stilted. I feel like I should go back and read the Brown siblings books to know the other characters better since the Delicious series is a spinoff.

Daisy is a 20-something free spirited dance instructor and artiste while Levi is a 40-something lawyer with a reputation to protect. Even though he wants to stay away, he is drawn to Daisy like a moth to a flame and can’t keep his hands off her. She is subservient without thinking about it and he can’t stop thinking of her. The question he ends up asking himself, is she worth it?

Again, it was hot – but I didn’t feel the connection. I read it, but I couldn’t feel it, I wasn’t convinced. I’m all for dirty words, but sometimes it felt over the top, crude even, and it didn’t fit the scene right. I want to read Tart anyway because I like the characters, but I will definitely go in with lower expectations.

Grade: C

Click to purchase: Amazon
by Maya Banks and Lauren Dane
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Berkley