What I Read Last Week

Oh so many things are going on in Tracyland but you would all be bored to tears to hear it all so I'll give you a a couple of good tidbits.

My youngest had an eye appt. since she was having problems seeing the board at school.  Though the prescription will be weak she will still need glasses. She, being the stylin 8 year old that she is, picked out some adorable glasses.  As soon as we pick them up I will pass pictures along.

Then when I went to visit and have lunch with my parents on Saturday it snowed!  I know for a lot of you this is not exciting but since that's an unusual occurrence I thought I'd share. :)  This is what the road leading to their house looked like from the storm the night before  

and this is what it looked like when we got out of lunch.  It was actually coming down pretty steadily while we were eating lunch and this was just 45 min. worth. By the time I left their house my youngest was having a great time throwing snowballs at her grandpa! 

So what did I read this week:

First I started off with yaoi.  I've had this since Kris was here (yes, back in Nov!) and I was sucking at reading it and getting it to Chris who was next in the swap.  So these became my Tracy's TBR challenge reads for the week as well since I've had them so damned long.  So I first I read I Can't Stop Loving You vol 2 by Row Takakura.  Kyouji is at a mountain retreat doing his monk training when he's accused of murder. Yu comes to see him and gets involved.  It was cute but odd at times. 3 out of 5 

Next was Thunderbolt Boys Excite vols. 1 &2 by Asami Tojo.  These were stories about models and frankly I thought they were a bit ridiculous and it was all I could do to keep reading.  They were drawn well, though. 2 out of 5 for both.

Then I read Incubus vols. 1, 2 & 3 by Yayoi Neko.  This was an interesting story about Lenniel who is half human and half demon who lived with Judas in the demon world but then Judas had to leave and lost all of his memories.  Lenniel has finally found him again but Judas is madly in love with his professor.  Judas also has serious self-esteem issues which he comes by after everyone, including his parents, constantly putting him down.  There's also a second story with a demon who is a butler for a rich family and the young master who he loves and loves him back.  It's quite good at times and others, not so much. :)  Vols.1 & 3: 3.5 out of 5, vol. 2: 4 out of 5

After that it was The Swing by Lissa Matthews - a book I read for The Book Binge.  This was a decent story about a man and a woman who are deeply in love but haven't been together because she was once married to his now dead twin.  Sounds creepy but it was actually a very good short story that was quite emotional.  4 out of 5. My review is here.

River Marked by Patricia Briggs - another Book Binge Book - and so damned good.  I really loved Briggs' writing and all of the wonderful scenarios she comes up with for Mercy and Adam to get involved in.  This followed Mercy and Adam on their honeymoon (no, not a spoiler!) and they have to end up fighting beasts and meeting others that they never expected to meet.  No, I'm not telling any more.  I don't want to spoil things.  Suffice it to say that it's great.  I loved every bit of it and am sad that I'm done reading it. 5 out of 5
So has anyone read any of her other series and if so which did you read and what did you think?

I finally picked up How To Woo A Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries.  This is book 3 in the Hellions of Halstead Hall series and it was good.  This was Minerva's story and she is still pissed that her grandmother is making her grandchildren get married so she decides to advertise in a ladies magazine for a husband.  Giles Masters, a friend of the family, shows up to try to win her hand but she thinks it's all pretend and he really wants to marry her.  Great romance and of course humor and intrigue as well.  Good stuff. 4 out of 5

Last on the list for the week was All or Nothing by James Buchanan. This was book 3 in the Taking the Odds series and it was a good one. Buchanan writes so well that I get drawn into the story and next thing you know it's over!  How the heck did that happen? lol  Brandon is visiting Nick in Vegas the week between Christmas and New Year and he's brought his daughter, Shayna, along.  She's not thrilled to be at Nick's, nor with Brandon and she's got the attitude to prove it.  When Shayna is taken life goes on the emotional roller coaster from hell.  Such a great story and I certainly hope there are more books about Nicky and Brandon in the future.  5 out of 5

My Book Binge review that posted since last week:
The Swing by Lissa Matthews

Happy Reading

Saturday Song

This week's song was chosen by youngest daughter.  Not that I don't love the song but it wouldn't have been my first choice - Jessie's song, When Somebody Loved Me, from Toy Story 2 is sad! But the little miss insisted and it went something like this:

Her: You need to put up Jessie's song for your song on Saturday.
Me: Oh I need to, do I? Why?
Her: Because I got glasses this week.
Me: Uh, all you did was get the exam - you haven't actually started wearing the glasses.
Her: Yes, but it was traumatic and you need to be extra nice to me and that's the song I want.
Me: It was not traumatic and I'm always nice to you!
Her: I know that but I'm trying to get the song played.  Work with me here!

Yes, I repeat, she's 8! lol  So because her week was SO traumatic *snort* here's her pick:

Men (NSFW)

It's been a busy and rough week and I haven't had a chance to post.  So for your viewing pleasure here are some men to keep you occupied.  Enjoy

What I Read Last Week

And here we are again...another week has gone by.  How do they do that so fast? lol

It was a crazy week again this week.  My oldest daughter is going through some stuff and it's stressful to say the least. But hey, we're all hanging in and that's wonderful! :)

This week was the week of the haircut for me.  I got my hair cut on Tuesday and loved it...until I started doing it myself (it always looks better when the stylist does it!) and then I realized that it really wasn't cut like I wanted it. It was a great cut, just not what I was looking for.  So I went and got another hair cut (I know, no hair cut for 6 months and then 2 in one week...shocking!) and I love it!  I think I got the weight of a small child cut off of my head with all of the many inches that were cut off the back and the thinning of my hair. I wish it had all been at once so that I could have donated it all, but unfortunately since it was done in stages I couldn't. :(  

First there was the "before" picture and if you ask me the back looks like some sort of animal pelt.  How did I walk around with that much hair? lol It was just damned BIG! Of course since I usually put it up into a ponytail about 4 hours of wearing it down each day I didn't notice it that much.  For as crazy as it was down it turned into quite a nice tail. lol  I didn't get a picture of the in between cuts - sorry.

Here is the final result.  She went a little short on my bangs but since they grow super fast I have no other complaints at all.

I need to work on styling it but it's all good! So enough about my hair - on to what I read this past week:

I started off reading Duck! by Kim Dare for my TBR Challenge Review (through Wendy the Super Librarian) and it was really good!  I posted my review already so if you're interested you can read it here.  4.25 out of 5

Next up was Seducing the Governess by Margo Maguire.  This was my first read by this author and I really liked the book.  This review also posted already so you can read it here if you'd like. 4 out of 5

Next up was Immortal Champion by Lisa Hendrix. I read this one for The Book Binge but it's a series that I've been following since the first book (this is book 3). I really like the mix of medieval romance with the addition of magic and paranormal aspects mixed in.  This was Gunnar's story and though it was heart wrenching at times it was really good. You can read my review here at TBB. 4.25 out of 5

Next was another book for The Book Binge called Cottage by the Stream by Gail Wolfe.  A woman heads to Scotland because she is hiding from a man who's stalking her and out to kill her.  She ends up being thrown into a world of fey, Star-Children, Watchers and Druid's. I really liked the premise of this book but it didn't end up working for me.  2 out of 5

My next read was Not Knowing Jack by KA Mitchell.  This was an incredibly intense book that I certainly wasn't prepared for what I got.  The book follows Jack and Tony who've been together for a little over a year but they never really talk and thoroughly get to know each other during that time.  Jack has some huge secrets and when they come back and start to bite him in the ass Tony isn't pleased to have been left in the dark.  I knew from the blurb that the relationship between the two men is tested but, wow, that was intense.  You really have to read it to understand and I don't want to give any spoilers but it was really good.  I wanted to smack Jack around a couple of times - ok, a lot - but in the end it was good to see the men work it all out. (That's not a spoiler!  I mean, come on...it's a romance - you know full well there's gonna be an HEA!) 4 out of 5

For my Tracy's TBR challenge read this week I picked up the Burning Up anthology by Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, Virginia Kantra and Angela Knight.  I only ended up reading all the way through the Singh and the Brook stories and they were wonderful!  The Knight...I just couldn't get into it though I normally like her writing.  The Kantra I read a few pages but just wasn't feeling it.  I had read 1 book from the Children of the Sea series and it really wasn't my thing so I passed on that one.  Anyway...for what I read - the Singh and Brook...5 out of 5!

Another Tracy's TBR challenge read was Must Love Hellhounds by Meljean Brook, Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh and Ilona Andrews.  I had read the Brook story back in Oct. of 2009 but hadn't read the rest of the stories.  I really liked the Singh story - getting to see how Sara and Deacon got together in her Guild Hunter series.  The Brook of course was great again and though I don't read that Andrews series the story was good.  I liked the Harris (my first read by her) but it was probably my least favorite of the bunch.  Overall with it's highs and lows I'll give it 4 out of 5.

My Book Binge reviews that posted this past week:
Moon Burning by Lucy Monroe
Immortal Champion by Lisa Hendrix

Happy Reading!

Review: Seducing the Governess by Margo Maguire

A Proper Governess Should Never. . .

Assist a handsome stranger, alone on an unfamiliar road . . . unless the rake happens to be her new employer.

Take a position in a crumbling manor . . . especially if the household staff has been replaced by unruly former soldiers.

Allow her young charge entree to her heart . . . for once done, it will be impossible to maintain proper distance.

Permit her charge's uncle a breathtaking kiss under a star-lit sky . . . henceforth she will most certainly lose composure whenever he is near.

And above all, she should never, ever fall completely, irreversibly in love with her employer . . . for nothing good can possibly come of it.

Mercy Franklin was desperate after the death of her mother and decided to advertise as a governess. She only had one reply and so she took off for the Lake District. She’s not exactly sure she can do the job since she’s just a vicar’s daughter and hasn’t done anything like this before but she’s determined to do her best.

Mercy is a bit surprised when she sees the hall for the first time. It’s falling down around their heads, dusty and dirty. Emmaline, her charge and the current earl’s niece, is a quiet and reserved 8 year old who hardly speaks. On top of that the earl himself isn’t a thing like she would imagine an Earl would be like – but Mercy finds him extremely handsome despite the scars on his face. Mercy knows that she needs to stay far away from the man but she keeps finding herself in his presence. The earl is a bit harsh but Mercy finds that she enjoys verbally sparring with him and the tension between the two of them is extremely high. Mercy finds herself falling for the earl while the earl can’t seem to stay away from her either.

There are other issues going on with all of the Ashby Hall’s’ residents. The earl is trying to deal with the deaths of his two older brothers, the fact that he's now earl and must try to marry to beget an heir,the demise of Ashby Hall and its lands and the lack of coin to get the whole place back to its shining glory (and a dowry if he does marry would come in quite handy). Emmaline despite her young age is dealing with the deaths of her parents as well as the deaths of her uncle and aunt after that. I believe she finds it hard to trust anyone as she feels that they might leave her – just as the earl feels. Then there’s Mercy who is dealing with the death of her mother too soon after the death of her father – but her mother told Mercy, just before she died, that she was indeed not her daughter and they had taken her in when she was three years of age. Even though she eventually reads her “mother’s” journal and is understandably upset by the insensitivity of it she feels adrift not knowing who she really is or where she came from.

Throughout the book there’s also another story going on at the same time. This one is of a dying duke who has decided that he needs to find his two granddaughters who he so callously sent off to be placed with other families as he wanted nothing to do with them after the death of their parents. Now he wants to make amends, find the girls and bequeath to them the monies and lands of his that are unentailed. We follow Captain Gavin Briggs as he seeks to follow a 20 year old trail and find the girls. But there’s someone else who is looking for them as well and the other person doesn’t want the girls found at all – they’ll stop at nothing to keep them hidden.

This book is really the first part of a two part story and frankly I’m very interested to read the second part of the book. Now, because of the two part issue I think that there were some things that I would have liked to have seen accomplished in this book…like Mercy (who you know from minute 1 is one of the dying duke’s granddaughters) meeting her grandfather and dealing with that mess as well as coming to terms with the family that raised her, that weren’t and I can only assume...and hope, that those things will be dealt with in the next book.

That being said I really enjoyed this story. I thought that the tension between Mercy and Nash was wonderful and compelling and I kept turning pages to see what was going to happen next. Once the pair started the sexual part of their relationship – even though they weren’t married (scandalous, I know!) the story moved pretty quickly and things were wrapped up in about 30 pages but that was ok – it worked!

A quick, easy read that was quite enjoyable. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for the second part!

Rating: 4 out of 5

This book releases on 2/22/11

Saturday Song

A great song by John Mayer - Dreaming with a Broken Heart

Review: The Perfect Scandal by Delilah Marvelle

If there is anything Tristan Adam Hargrove, fourth Marquis of Moreland, has learned to avoid, it's scandal. For the dark and dashing lord is not only an honorable gentleman who would never seduce a woman for his own gain, he is also the author of How to Avoid a Scandal, the infamous red book that has swept like wildfire through the better part of London society.

When a raven-haired beauty arrives as his new neighbor, he knows better than to succumb to the desire he feels. He knows little about her—only that she is high born, a protégé of the Crown and completely unsuitable for the base passions he hides from the world. If only he had never glimpsed the vulnerable beauty one fateful night. If only her lips were not so ravishingly red. If only it were not already too late to save her and himself from the untamed passion he is about to unleash in the name of love.

Lord Moreland is a very regimented man. He has specific places that he goes on specific days and he doesn’t appreciate variation in his schedule. he does this so that he'll have control over his life as we learn later in the book.  So he’s a bit perturbed when he goes for some air outside his London townhouse one night and he sees his new neighbor across the street brushing her hair, in her nightgown and robe, sitting in the window where any passerby can see! He may have been perturbed but he’s also intrigued by her.

The woman, Zosia, knows exactly what she’s doing – trying to get Lord Moreland’s attention! Now that she’s got it she wants to keep it, but he doesn’t seem to be participating the way she would like. You see she is a Polish woman who is from the royal line but has been sent to London to find a husband. She is a “guest” (more like a prisoner it seems sometimes) of the King of England and must find a husband before the end of the season or she will be sent to live her life out as a nun. She is determined to find a husband who has a seat in the house of Lords so that she can use that man’s voice to fight for the plight of the Polish people. The King, however, seems to be sending her nothing but untitled men!

Moreland eventually comes around to visiting his neighbor and finds that there’s really more to her than meets the eye. You see, not only is Zosia a beautiful woman, but she’s also witty, intelligent and from all appearances accepting of his uh, quirks. Zosia is an amputee and I think because of the events in her life since that amputation she is more tolerant of some things. She’s certainly more understanding of Moreland when he reveals his desire to hurt himself. You see, Moreland is a cutter – a recovering cutter but a cutter nonetheless. He feels that no one can accept him as he is so he’s more than shocked when he reveals himself to Zosia and she’s not repulsed by his admission.

Beyond each of their personal idiosyncrasies however, there’s more going on with Zosia and the reasons that she’s in England. The King knows and though he thinks to protect her from scandal it’s Moreland who comes to the rescue.

Wow! This book was filled with the unexpected, I have to say. First of all I was impressed with Ms. Marvelle and her choice of heroines. Not only is Zosia Polish but an amputee and I knew from the start that she was going to be a very strong personality.  She'd have to be with all she'd gone through in her life. Then with Moreland being a cutter – holy mack! She really wasn’t afraid to go there and as a reader I have say I greatly appreciated it.

Zosia and Moreland really were great together. I truly loved their relationship until matters started getting sticky and Moreland knew that the plan he had made to get Zosia to safety wasn’t going to work. At that point I felt that he gave in too quickly but I guess we wouldn’t have had the ending we did if he hadn’t! lol And I did like the ending.

Oh! And if you’ve been reading the whole series you’ve been reading the little advice bits from the How to Avoid a Scandal book that plays a role in each of the heroine's lives. Well you get quite a surprising reveal in this book about that little advice manual and it’s quite wonderful – humorous too!

Overall I really liked the book – and have liked this whole series. Delilah Marvelle hasn’t been afraid to touch upon some subjects that I can’t remember reading about in historical romance novels before – sex addiction, a type of sexual slavery, cutting and amputation – and I’ve certainly appreciated her originality in the stories. I’ll definitely be reading more from Ms. Marvelle in the future.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

TBR Challenge Review: Duck! by Kim Dare

When I saw this month’s theme of “Ugly Ducklings (Heroes and/or heroines who aren't "pretty")” I truly didn’t think that I’d have a problem finding a book to read in my TBR. Well guess what? I did. I looked hither and yon and it took me a while and a few emails to friends to get suggestions but I finally came up with the book. Yay! There are a ton of books that I’ve read in the past that have had plain jane/john characters or scarred heroes that would have been perfect for this – unfortunately it wasn’t a re-read challenge! lol

So my pick for this month was Duck! by Kim Dare…my first read by this author. It’s a pretty literal ugly duckling story and while Ori isn’t exactly ugly as a human he isn’t exactly pretty either. The more I think about ugly duckling theme the more I realized that to me any one of us could be considered an ugly duckling as each of us have our own views on what’s beautiful or rather who’s beautiful. A man I find attractive might not be attractive to my friend. It’s all a matter of finding someone who you find beautiful on the inside and that makes them beautiful on the outside.

Raised among humans, Ori Jones only discovered he was an avian shifter six months ago. Unable to complete a full shift until he reaches his avian maturity, he still can’t be sure of his exact species.

But with species comes rank, and rank is everything to the avians. When a partial shift allows the elders to announce that they believe Ori to be a rather ugly little duckling, he drops straight to the bottom rung of their hierarchy.

Life isn’t easy for Ori until he comes to the attention of a high ranking hawk shifter. Then the only question is, is Ori really a duck—and what will his new master think when the truth eventually comes out?

Ori’s working in the nest. This is, from what I gather, a type of club for avian’s but I think it also houses different avian’s in varying degrees of rank and maturity. Ori completed a partial shift a while back and from what the elders saw they guessed he was going to be a rather ugly duckling.

One night in the restaurant Ori is being tormented by a group of crows when the harassment is put to an end by a hawk shifter. The hawk, Raynard, takes matters into his own hands and decides that he will take Ori to be his servant in his house. Ori is at Raynard’s house for a time and is making headway into cleaning up the dust and disorganization (Raynard had inherited his uncle’s house and it was in sad shape) when Raynard decides to make Ori his submissive. Raynard doesn’t make that decision lightly and since Ori is starting to have feelings for his boss and he really is a submissive he’s more than willing to be whoever he needs to be in order to remain close to Raynard.

Their relationship was a quiet, intense and loving thing. Ori really gloried in pleasing his master and his master loved him. But then Ori goes before the elders for his first full shift and things change. Ori comes out of his shift and his master is gone, people are touching him and they keep calling him “sire”. Ori wants nothing more than to put his submissive’s collar back on and go home with Raynard but his life has to change based on his shift. But can Ori and Raynard ever get back what they had?

This was such a good book. I’m not normally one to read books with BDSM involved (although I have read several that have been really good) but this one was so loving I was completely drawn in to Raynard’s thoughts whenever that aspect of the relationship was being written about. Raynard’s care for Ori and yes, the love that came through, was very compelling and I couldn’t put the book down!

Now I think I would have liked to have seen more explanation as to the role that Ori was supposed to play after his first full shift. Obviously we get some indication about how things should be and how he’s revered for his species through hints and actions, but I really didn’t have a clue as to what was expected or him after the shift. Ori didn’t have a clue either and I think both of us would have liked more information on that! lol

In the end Raynard and Ori loved each other for who they were and their relationship really spoke to me of everlasting devotion - I just loved that! This was a really great book that I will definitely be reading again.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

What I Read Last Week

Greetings all!

Hope you had all had a wonderful week last week.  My was...interesting.  I'll leave it at that as I'm sure you have no desire to hear my woes.

On a good note - my little one went to a father/daughter dance with my hubby.  They were so cute together!  I don't have a picture of the two of them together but I will eventually as I guess a "couples" photo was taken while they were there.  I'll post that when I get it.  I did take this one though - so cute!

So on to what I read this past week:

I started off with His Darkest Embrace by Juliana Stone.  This is the second book in the Jaguar Warriors series.  This is the story of Skye who is an eagle shifter and Jagger who is a jaguar shifter and their romance.  Of course their people have been enemies with each other for forever so it makes things a bit hostile between them.  I read this one for The Book Binge and you can read my review here if you'd like.  3 out of 5

Next up was The Guy Next Door by Lori Foster, Susan Donovan and Victoria Dahl. This was a book with 3 novella's in it.  The first two stories were about the guys who literally lived next door from the women but the third was more about a woman who found the boy next door type attractive.  All good stories.  You can read my review here if interested. 4 out of 5

After that it was The Perfect Scandal by Delilah Marvelle.  This was a great story about a Polish woman who is in England to find a husband and the Marquis who she's attracted to.  Great book. I'll be posting my review this week. 

My Tracy's TBR Challenge read for the week was One Night in Boston by Allie Boniface.  This was a story that brought 3 people together after - you guessed it - one night in Boston.  Maggie is about to lose her business and her home (all the same building) if she doesn't pay back mortgage.  She decides to ask her step-brother, Dillon, for the money but she hasn't seen him in 6 years.  She enlists the help of an old friend in Boston and heads to a ball that she hears Dillon is to attend.  But when she arrives she finds the love of her life that she let go 10 years before. But the flame is not dead for either Maggie or Jack.  I liked the basic story of the book.  It was hard to read at times because of all of the flashbacks that Maggie, Jack and Dillon were all having and sometimes I found it hard to try and piece the story together - it got a bit easier after a time.  I liked Jack and Dillon but Maggie was a bit annoying, I must say.  She wanted control of everything and I didn't blame her on some subjects but on other issues I just wanted to smack her.  Like breaking up with Jack way back when because she couldn't have children and that's not what he needed in his life.  How about you tell him you can't have children and then let him decide if it's something he can handle?  I also felt that the ending was wrapped up a bit too easily without knowing how it all played out.  I was left with the assumption that love would conquer all and we all know that doesn't always happen. :) 3.5 out of 5

After that it was The Admiral's Penniless Bride by Carla Kelly.  This was a total impulse buy and I'm so glad I bought it.  Sophia is a paid companion who is a coin away from the workhouse.  She takes the mail coach to Plymouth from Bath but when she arrives the lady she is to be companion to has died.  With no money to get back to Bath and no work available she decides to spend her last coin on a cup of tea.  Admiral Bright is waiting at the Drake hotel for the woman he is about to marry for convenience reasons only.  He decides to take the bull by the horns and ask Sophia to marry him as he needs a wife and she obviously needs someone's help in a desperate way.  But she has a secret from her past that may ruin everything.  This was just a sweet romance that was heartwarming.  Both the Admiral and Sophia had such big hearts and good souls and I loved reading about them not only helping each other but other people in need as well.  There was some angst - you know that secret of Sophie's had to come out - but overall it was a charming love story. 4 out of 5

Last on the list for the week was Moon Burning by Lucy Monroe.  This is book 3 in the Children of the Moon series and told the story of Barr who is now Laird of the Donegal clan (previously of the Sinclair clan from the last book) who is a wolf shifter and Sabrine who is a raven shifter.  Another good addition to the series.  I read this for The Book Binge so I'll let you know when my review posts. 4 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:

Happy Reading!

Review: The Guy Next Door by Lori Foster, Susan Donovan and Victoria Dahl

Warning the review for the 3 story in this book contains spoilers

Ready, Set, Jett by Lori Foster

A vacation from her no-strings romance with her sexy next-door neighbor. That's what Natalie Alexander needs to get her head—and heart—together. But her solo trip south turns into a disaster when gorgeous Jett Sutter turns up with another challenge.

Natalie and her neighbor, Jett, hit it off right away in the flirtatious-omg-your-so-hot kind of way. They eventually begin a sexual relationship with no strings attached – but Jett wants more. He wants to get to know Natalie and even though he knows some of her background, because he’s a private investigator, he wants to know who she is deep down inside.

He devises a plan and ends up tying her to the bed one night during sex. She’s forced to talk to him and Natalie – the one who never opens up to anyone – finally decides that they can try and take their relationship to the next level. But has their relationship moved up one step on the ladder or did it shoot straight to the top?

This was a very cute story. I adored Jett and what we saw of his sisters and loved that he really tried patiently to break Natalie out of her self-imposed shell. Jett was adorable and I loved reading about the two together.

Part of the story was that Natalie, who had a close relationship with her sister, couldn’t reach said sister via phone. It was left up in the air because apparently all of the stories in this book are set-ups for upcoming series. While that was frustrating I loved that Jett and Natalie’s romance was brought to a nice HEA.

Gail's Gone Wild by Susan Donovan

Single mom Gail Chapman insists on chaperoning her teenage daughter's spring-break trip to Key West. But she never expects to face temptation—in the hunky form of Jesse Batista, the mysterious man in the cottage next door.

Gail puts her foot down when her seventeen year old daughter wants to head off to Florida on spring break with her very voluptuous friend. She does decide that Florida is a place she could head to herself and takes the girls with her to Key West. There are tons of things she wants to do as she hasn’t had a vacation in a long time.

Gail meets her neighbor, Jesse, on the first day that they arrive and though they don’t hit it off immediately they are soon inseparable. Jesse is hiding who he really is though and when Gail finds out she’s not a happy woman.

Another cute story. I thought it was wonderful to see Gail spreading her wings and having some fun for once. She was quite a bookworm when at home and being a single mom she hadn’t gotten out much in the past few years. Jesse was good for her as he was fun and liked to try new things. I didn’t care for the fact that Jesse was trying to hide who he really was but I understood the reasons behind the decision.

Just One Taste by Victoria Dahl

All-work-and-no-play businessman Eric Donovan won't be distracted by a "businesswoman" who's all wrong for him. Beth Cantrell owns a women's erotica shop! And she has a juicy little secret. Can she tempt him to put pleasure before business for once?

At a business convention Eric sees a woman who's so understated in her sexuality that he’s drawn to her. He finally decides to stop and talk to her and Beth thinks that Eric is actually his brother, Jamie, who has a reputation with the ladies. Eric, thinking that he can finally be someone who takes the bull by the horns, decides to leave Beth in the dark about his real name and who he is. (Oh, I wanted to shake Eric to bits! Wrong decision!)

Beth is hiding something as well. She works at what would be considered a high class sex shop and loves it. But everyone believes that because she works there she's a highly sexual person - which she's not.  Her friends also believe if she did choose a man that she would choose the same type that all the employees do…a man with tattoos and piercings. Beth actually goes in for the preppy hottie. Beth wants Eric – the man she thinks is Jamie – she just doesn’t want anyone to know about it. Eric thinks he’s ok with the secrecy but is he really?

I must admit that I normally don’t care for stories where someone is lying about who they really are to this degree. Despite that fact I was into this story and was totally anxious to see how it all played out – how Eric would admit the truth, how Beth would take it, etc. Imagine my surprise when it ended! No resolution – at least no HEA. No honesty and coming clean. I was shocked and frustrated to say the least.

From what I understand this book will have a resolution in the trilogy that Dahl is writing about the Donovan family. But dangit I’m impatient and want it now! Lol Despite the unfinished business of the story I really liked it. Eric and Beth were great together and incredibly steamy together.

Overall a good read by three great authors.

Rating 4 out of 5

This book releases on 2/15/11

Saturday Song

A little Jay Brannan for your listening pleasure this morning.  You Can't Have It All - such a great song.

Review: RiverTime by Rae Renzi

Casey Lord needs a break. Her great-on-paper boyfriend, Reed, is pressuring her to marry him-but she's not sure if he sees her merely as an asset to help his political career. A river-rafting trip in the remote wilderness provides the perfect opportunity to clear her head. Until a flash flood sweeps Casey away from her group-and straight into the arms of Jack, a mysterious man also stranded by the flooding river.

Jack won't tell Casey his last name, and her innocent questions about his life are met with evasive answers. Yet they have to trust each other to survive, and as the pair await rescue, their uneasy truce slowly blossoms into friendship-and love. They agree to keep secret whatever differences may separate them in the real world.

When rescue finally arrives, will it spell an end to their budding relationship or can they find a way to stay in RiverTime.

Casey is separated from the rest of her tour group in the Grand Canyon due to a flash flood. She survives but is stranded on a small beach. She’s trying to get settled when she notices something in the water. When she investigates she discovers that it’s a man and he’s unconscious. She hauls him out and saves his life.

The man is known as Jack. He tells Casey nothing about where he came from, how he got separated from the rest of his group or what he does in real life. They begin a friendship but Jack’s sulky and difficult and Casey’s not sure what to make of him. But as days go by they discover more and more about each other and after a few highly sexual moments Casey creates RiverTime. No one but Casey and Jack exist in RiverTime and whatever happens in RiverTime doesn’t exist in the real world, or does it? The pair fall in love and when it comes down to it they want to stay on their little beach forever. Jack swears that even though they’re in RiverTime that he won’t stop loving Casey even when they’re back in the real world.

After 10 days Casey and Jack are rescued but immediately Jack seems to turn into a different person. He’s let off at the airport where he seems to be met by…his wife? And is that his daughter running up to him? Oh boy. Casey is highly disillusioned and heads home to yes, her boyfriend. (Oh what a tangled web we weave…) Still in an almost dreamlike state Casey accepts Reed’s proposal and gets married.

The truth behind the matter is that Jack hasn’t been anything but legally married to his wife for a couple of years. He’s not had sex with her and he dislikes her intensely because of her manipulations…but he’s still married to her. Jack wants nothing more than to eliminate the marriage but his wife is threatening to take his daughter away and he’ll not stand for that. Jack wants Casey for keeps but is frustrated to no end when he finds out she married Reed.

On top of the problems that Casey and Jack have with their individual marriages, and the problems are massive, someone is trying to kill Casey. Will the two ever find happiness and if they do, will it be with each other?

The first part of the book had me hooked. I was completely sucked into Casey and Jack’s plight with them being stranded and having to try and survive. They did have food from the river tour that Casey had been taking but there were other necessary items that were needed. Jack was a great help even though he wasn’t the sweetest being on earth, at first.

When the pair got back to reality I hated Jack more than a bit. I hate infidelity in books and I have to admit I almost stopped reading at that point but the story still had me and I couldn’t put the book down. Jack and Casey – though their time together had been short – had created a bond together that was quite strong. I wanted nothing more than for all of their issues to be done so that they could be together.

I did think that the suspense plot interrupted the romance just a tad – I mean the romance had so many issues already, did I really need one more thing to deal with? But when it came down to it I thought it all came to a satisfying end. The plot wove in Casey’s work as well as her husband (creep) and it just worked.

Overall a good story. I believe this is Ms. Renzi’s first fiction novel and I have to say it was well done.

Rating: 4 out of 5

This book will be available from Carina Press on 2/14/11

Review: Hammer & Air by Amy Lane

There will always be a Hammer and an Air...

Graeme and Eirn have no words for what they are to each other. Children, clinging together in a crowded orphanage; friends, battling back to back in a school yard; and bedmates, finally bridging the gap between sleeping next to a body and allowing it to touch you in the night—all of these roles are summed up by just their names: Hammer and Air.

The innocent exploration of their newest roles is brutally marred when a violent, ill-tempered master threatens Eirn, and Eirn's "Hammer" kills the man in a fair fight. The two run off into the wide world with only each other for safety. It's difficult to forge a good life with only a blacksmith's hammer and a printer's cleverness, but together, Hammer and Eirn will learn to negotiate the dangers of magic and motion, of sex, obsession, and tenderness, and of the word that can make sense of it all—one word they must earn for themselves

Graeme aka Hammer and Eirn grew up in an orphanage together. On the first day Eirn was there Hammer stood up for him on the playground and they’d been together and best friends ever since. They shared their treasures, as small as they were, and their bed. Eirn worked at the printers and Hammer at the smithy’s. They realize when they get older that they've both been having the same feelings towards each other but hadn't acted on them.  They finally figure out that all they want is to be together and lead a quiet life.  When Eirn’s print master sells his business the new master believes he can take Eirn’s submission for granted things get a bit crazy. After the master strikes Eirn, Hammer takes matters into his own hands and kills the man.

Hammer and Eirn take off but they soon discover that the posters around each town are for the arrest of both of them. They take to the forest for cover, heading to the western kingdoms. After a run in with a cougar Hammer is hurt and feverish and Eirn tries everything to help heal him. They eventually start to travel again but Hammer is still not out of the woods health wise and winter is starting to set in.  They stumble upon a cottage that’s in the middle of nowhere. It has a bed, running water and eventually they realize, it’s magical. The cottage helps heal Hammer by giving Eirn the supplies and food he needs to help his friend and lover recover.

When they are there, staying the winter, a large bear comes to visit. They are frightened but then they figure that since the cottage is enchanted why wouldn’t the bear be as well? The bear did knock, after all. They let him in and he just hangs out a while. After a time the bear starts to turn into a man every morning and he wants Eirn to service him. Now Hammer being who he is thinks that he is not good enough for Eirn and he wants Eirn to have options so he semi-encourages Eirn to take the man/bear up on his offer.

The boys make plans during their time at the cottage to build a home just like the one they’re in. During the winter season they shovel snow, read fairy tales from the books that the cottage provides and become closer emotionally day by day. Eventually they decide that it’s time for them to go. But the bear wants Eirn for himself and he’s not ready to let him go with Hammer. The Bear/Man finally realizes that though he thought that he was there at the cottage to get and keep Eirn he was there for a different reason entirely.

This is an amazing story. Hammer and Eirn’s love for each other and their thoughtfulness with each other was so moving. Eirn would always think that they needed better words to express themselves but they always managed to do it just fine in the words they had and the deeds done for the other, imho.But when they do find the words it's beautiful:

You're mine. I couldn't love you if you weren't bigger than princes and braver than knights. You're perfect. You're my Hammer, forever and ever and ever….”
*sigh* Just good stuff!  The story was incredibly moving. The cottage – omg I never thought I would cry over a cottage as if it were a living being but that’s how Amy Lane wrote it. I found myself in tears at how it cared for the two boys. The story was about both of the boys coming to realize who they were and what they wanted in life as well as the deepening of their love through trial and tribulation. The very first line of this post says it all.

There will always be a Hammer and an Air... 

I can’t say enough good things about this book but it’s one I will be re-reading time and again.

Rating: 5 out of 5

What I Read Last Week

Pretty quiet week this past week.  The most excitement we had was my girls getting their hair cut - big event in Tracyland. lol  I took my youngest because she had attempted to cut her own.  I have to say that she did a damned good job but it still needed fixing.  She figured if she was going to get a little cut then she wanted a new style.  She pulled one off the internet and off we went (oldest was in Saturday detention at the time - oh joy).  Here was the end result. (you can see all the hair that was cut off in the background of picture on the left - it was a lot!)

Then when we went to pick up my oldest she wanted her hair cut as well.  We went home and ate lunch and watched a movie and then she too picked a style off of the internet and away we went.  My girls don't have a regular stylist they go to but the one that cut my youngest's hair did such a good job and subsequently cut my oldest's as well I think she'll be their new girl. She did a fabulous job with both girls incorporating the pictures to fit their tastes and their hair.  This is the oldest. (and yes, if she smiled her face would crack, in case you were wondering *sigh*) but she was thrilled with the result even though she doesn't show it:

I think they're both adorable!

I’m not sure if I mentioned it perviously but before I went down to Holly’s a couple of weeks ago I took the bull by the horns and went through my TBR and tried to be brutally honest with myself. I had a lot of books that I had gotten from book swaps or that people had sent me and I had to ask myself, “am I really going to read this any time soon…or ever”? Well when it was all said and done I’d taken almost 100 books off of my shelves. I took them to Holly’s and let the girls take whatever they wanted. I then took them to my friends Jen and Jenn and let them go through them and then I donated about 50 books to the library. So this Sunday I spent some time (ok, a long damn time) going through all of the books on my shelves that were left over as well as all of the books on my stick drive where I keep my ebooks and added all of the books that I have, that I haven’t read, to my Goodreads TBR. I ended up with 601. That’s just wrong – especially since I’d just gotten rid of 98 or so! lol There were also some ebooks that I had read that weren’t rated on Goodreads so I did that too. One more thing that I get to mark off my to do list!

So on to what I read this past week:

FYI - I completely failed on my Tracy’s TBR challenge read for this past week. I’ll try to do better next week. *hangs head*

I started off with Passion: Erotic Romance for Women edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel.  This was a collection of short erotic romance stories.  Some were really good - some disturbed me a bit but overall it was a good set of stories. I read this for The Book Binge and will let you know when my review posts. 3.5 out of 5

Next up was Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt.  The story of Temperance who runs a foundling home with her brother, Winter, in a very bad part of the city.  Temperance is approached by Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, who wants Temperance help him find someone since she knows the area of London, St. Giles, very well.  Temperance helps Lord Caire but she gets more than she bargains for since there's a powerful person in St. Giles who doesn't want Lord Caire finding the killer of his mistress, and wants Temperance out of St. Giles completely.  I loved this book.  I thought it was so well done with the romance as well as the suspense portion of the book.  Then there were the secondary characters that we got to meet - one that stood out the most, Silence, Temperance's sister.  Her story was heart wrenching and I ached for her by the end of the book.  So good! 5 out of 5

My next read was a novella called Arctic Winds by Sondrae Bennett. This was the story of a fox shifter who is shunned by her skulk (fox pack) and has been on the move for the past 4 years. She makes her way into a town but since she has a cold can’t pick up the scent and the fact that she’s landed right in the middle of a wolf pack town. And who wants her from the minute he catches her scent? The alpha of the wolf pack, of course. The story covers their romance and it was cute. 3 out of 5

Next up was Primal by Lora Leigh, Michelle Rowen, Jory Strong and Ava Gray.  This 4 story anthology was a good one.  I hadn't read either Strong or Rowen so they were new to me.  I really liked all of the stories except the Strong one didn't agree with me very well but even that was well done.  I read this for The Book Binge so will let you know when my review posts. Overall rating 4 out of 5

RiverTime by Rae Renzi was my next read.  This was a really good story about 2 people who are stranded in the Grand Canyon, what they experience and how that experience changes their lives when they get back to civilization.  I'll be posting my review this week so keep your eyes peeled. :)

I was so excited that my copy of Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt came into the library since I'd just finished the previous book in the series.  This book was just as good as the first.  The romance between Hero and Griffin was just wonderful and again the secondary characters were great.  We got to read more about Silence, we got to know more about Hero's brother who's a Duke and her sister - Phoebe.  Poor Phoebe, I certainly hope we get to know her a little better in future books.  This also included an excerpt to Silence's book which releases in Nov. and I just can't wait to read it! 5 out of 5

Last for the week was Hammer & Air by Amy Lane. This was an amazing story/fairy tale that is about 2 boys from an orphanage who find themselves on the run. The more I think about this story the more I think I need to review it so I think I’ll post it on Wednesday.

My Book Binge review that posted this past week:

Happy Reading!