Review: Waking Up With The Duke by Lorraine Heath

They are masters of seduction, London's greatest lovers . . . 

Renowned for his bedchamber prowess, Ransom Seymour, the Duke of Ainsley, owes a debt to a friend. But the payment expected is most shocking, even to an unrepentant rake—for he's being asked to provide his friend's exquisite wife with what she most dearly covets: a child. 

Living for pleasure, they will give their hearts to no one . . . 

Lady Jayne Seymour, Marchioness of Walfort, is furious that such a scandalous agreement would be made. If she acquiesces, there must be rules: no kissing . . . and, certainly, no pleasure. 

Until love takes them by surprise. 

But unexpected things occur with the surprisingly tender duke—especially once Lady Jayne discovers the rogue can make her dream again . . . and Ransom realizes he's found the one woman he truly cannot live without.

The Duke of Ainsley is visiting his cousin and friend, the Marquess of Walfort, when Walfort puts forth an upsetting proposition. Walfort would like Ainsley to bed his wife and get her with child. You see Walfort who was paralyzed in a curricle accident three years earlier is playing on Ainsley’s guilt since Ainsley was the one driving the curricle at the time of the accident. Ainsley has a serious problem with the request on so many levels but one he is mainly thinking about is his heart. He’s been slightly in love with Walfort’s wife, Jayne, since he met her and he fears that bedding her will send him over the edge – only to send her back to Walfort’s side and have his child claimed by Jayne and Walfort.

But Walfort – as we find out later in the book – is a master manipulator and manages to talk both Ainsley and Jayne into the liaison. He sends them off for a month to get the job done only it ends up not being so much of a job than a pleasure for both Ainsley and Jayne. But what happens when both parties fall in love with the other and know they can never be together? And how does Ainsley handle the thought that he’ll never be able to claim his own child?

I usually don’t read books that deal with infidelity and have infidelity involved but I went into this book after reading and liking the previous 2 in the series and decided to give it a go.

I have to say that I really liked Jayne and Ainsley’s time together once they started communicating – but I just couldn’t stop thinking that it wasn’t real. They could have as much fun as they liked and shared hundreds of small, intimate moments but in the end Jayne was going back to Walfort. I really couldn’t wrap my mind around the whole situation. After they returned home we read about Jayne and Ainsley dealing with life and it just seemed so unfair to me!

I can’t tell you too much or I’ll ruin the book for you but Walfort ended up being a complete ass. I couldn’t see him as a good person in the end and I was pretty glad the book ended as it did. Jayne I liked but I did question her actions at times and her loyalty – not that it wasn’t there…just there was too much of it at times!

Ainsley – oh he was wonderful. He was such a great hero and I just loved him. My heart hurt for him at times and I just wanted to crawl through the book and give him a great big hug.

In the end there is an HEA and it was good. The book overall was a good read and one I’m glad that I decided to read. Heath is a great writer and I will definitely read more of her work in the future.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

What I Read Last Week

Good Afternoon!

It was a good week here in Tracyland. Life was relatively quiet during the week and that’s always nice.

On Saturday my youngest tested in Taekwondo for her next belt level…and passed! Get this – not only did she pass but she got the highest score of all 20 students who were testing and got a trophy! Yay! Go baby, go! To say we were proud of her would be a huge understatement.

And here she is doing some kicks during the test. 

In reading I was incredibly undiversified. I read book 1 of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews a couple of weeks ago so I decided to pick up book 2 and that started me off on a complete Kate Daniels binge. I tried to stop, I did, but I just had to keep going. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve read a series one book right after another. Just a damned good series that gets better and better with each book.

I started off the week with Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews. Kate is asked to retrieve some maps that were stolen from the Pack. The magic that normally comes and goes is heading into a flare where there will be the most powerful magic. She discovers that during this time Gods can manifest and that’s just not something she wants to happen. During the story she also inherits a 12 year old street urchin, Julie. She also discovers some interesting information about Curran and his possible feelings toward her. A really good book that had me turning pages as fast as I could. 4 out of 5

After that I read Winterlude by Tam Ames. You all know Tam Ames, right? Tam is Tam…you know, from Tam’s Reads and Brief Encounters. Yep, she wrote a story and got it published – go Tam! This was about a chance meeting on the street between two men who hit it off. They end up going out on a date and having a bit of an interlude. Will there be more in the future? IDK – hopefully Tam will follow up and let us know! A very good short story that I really liked. 4 out of 5

Saying Yes by Barbara Elsborg was next. This was another short story about a girl whose boyfriend/boss/roommate breaks up with her/fires her/kicks her out because she’s so negative all of the time. She determined to be more of a yes person. When she runs into a man while staying at her best friends apartment she decides to say yes to a whole host of things. Very cute just too darned short! 3 out of 5 (free story at Ellora's Cave)

Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews was next and it was so damned good! This had Kate fighting in something called the Midnight Games and trying to find the people who hurt her friend Derek. The world-building in this series just blows me away and especially in this book with the “new” creatures that were introduced – the Rakshasa – just their dwellings in Unicorn Lane was amazingly detailed…but not in a “omg too much detail” kind of way. Just an excellent book – I loved it. 5 out of 5

Next I pulled out the Must Love Hellhounds anthology and re-read Ilona Andrews story in that book. It was called Magic Mourns and it’s told in 1st person pov by Kate’s best friend Andrea. She ends up retrieving a dead body and facing a hellhound while getting together with werehyena, Raphael. Great little story. I had read this story before when I read the anthology originally but it had so much more meaning now that I was reading the whole series. 4 out of 5

After that it was Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews. This story had Kate facing her very powerful aunt as well as the aunts minions. Curran and Kate are getting closer as well and I love the slow build-up that we’ve gotten over the course of the series and it really comes to a head in this book. Love them together! 5 out of 5

Hexed is an anthology with four different authors but I only read Magic Dreams by Ilona Andrews. This is Jim and Dali’s story and if you’re following the story you won’t want to miss it. Dali is trying to save Jim for a “thing” that’s eating his soul and trying to hide her love for him. A very good addition to the series. 4 out of 5

I had to do a bit of a palette cleanser after that and picked up my ereader and read Old Poison by Josh Lanyon - my Tracy's TBR Challenge read. This is the second story in the Dangerous Ground series. It has Taylor and Will together for Taylor’s birthday but someone who has a very old grudge against Taylor wants him gone. This was another great story in the series and I really, really enjoyed it. Will and Taylor together are just wonderful and I can’t see what happens next in Blood Heat. 4.5 out of 5

And last for the week was, you guessed it, the last Kate Daniels book that was released, Magic Slays. Kate and Curran are searching for a man who is missing and the magic killing device he created. It also has Kate trying to save Julie’s life (her ward). Another excellent read! I just love the writing in this series. It just gets better and better. If you haven’t read this latest installment and have been reading the KD series then you should definitely read this one! 5 out of 5 (I read this for The Book Binge so will let you know when my review posts)

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

I have to say I'm a fan of Train. Their sound and sometimes bizarre lyrics just appeal to me, what can I say?  Here's Drops of Jupiter.

Mini Review: Kathryn, The Kitten by Lavinia Kent

Regency England just got real(ity) 

Episode 1: How Kathryn Got Her Passion Back 

Kathryn, Duchess of Harrington, has the perfect life: a handsome duke for a husband, riches to spare, a house in Mayfair, and the right group of friends. The only thing she doesn’t have is her husband in her bed. But she’s about to change that. Enlisting the aid of her best friend, Linnette, who knows about these things even though she’s a duchess herself, Kathryn begins her seduction plan. 

But Linnette knows a secret and it involves Kathryn’s husband. And, when that comes out, Kathryn’s marriage isn’t the only thing at stake. Can you say Afternoon Tea Catfight?

Kathryn is an innocent. Sure she’s been married for a few years and had even once been pregnant but she really didn’t have any clue about sex. She knew that her husband, Robert, hadn’t been to her bed for 3 months now and she wanted that to end. But how could she accomplish that? She decides to ask her friend Linnette for advice which she gets – but can she really go through with everything that Linnette advises?

On the night that Kathryn is to put her plan in motion she finds out some awful information about Linnette and her husband. Once she confronts her husband can she trust him again and will they ever find that place in their relationship where they can both be happy?

Kathryn was what I think of a typical lady who was brought up in complete innocence and knows absolutely nothing about anything that happens in the bedroom. She even walks out of rooms if the conversation gets too naughty. But when she realizes that there’s more to bed sport than just her “duty” she really opens her mind up to the possibilities. I very much enjoyed seeing her innocent excitement at the possibilities.

Robert we really didn’t get to know as well but knew that he felt he had hurt Kathryn because of the outcome of her pregnancy (which wasn’t good). He was afraid for her getting pregnant again and though he wanted children, he wanted to lose his wife even less. But like a typical man instead of talking to his wife he just ignored the problem like that would make it go away. *sigh* Why do they always think that? Silly, silly men. Of course it just made the problem worse. He loved Kathryn and wanted to protect her he was just going about it the wrong way.

This was a great first story in a series. The ebook was only 95 pages long but I thought it had a terrific blend of love, friendship and a tad bit of suspense. I’m definitely interested in reading the next books in the series (I hear there will be 4 novella’s total) to find out who’s behind everything and how it will all work out.

Rating: 4 out of 5

This book releases from Avon Impulse on 6/28/11

Review: This Perfect Kiss by Melody Thomas

It was the moment she had been dreaming of: a stolen kiss at a masquerade ball with the dashing Camden St. Giles. He may not have known who she was, but Christel would never forget . . .

Nine years have passed since that magical evening. Now Camden, the seventh earl of Carrick, is widowed with a young daughter, a man with a heart in need of healing. And Christel has just stolen on board his ship bound for Scotland. Neither has forgotten the kiss that had set their hearts a blaze. The longer she remains with him, the hotter his desire burns. But as they grasp their second chance at love, will the secrets from his past threaten to destroy the one love true enough to free his tormented heart?

Christel dresses up and follows the man of her heart. He is in the Royal Navy and will be heading back out to sea soon. They share a passionate kiss and Camden St. Giles is entranced. He asks her to dance but then is called into the ball by his grandmother. Christel is waylaid by her half-sister and ends up leaving without further contact with Camden.

Nine years later and both Christel and Camden’s lives have changed dramatically. Christel was sent away to the colonies where her life was fraught with danger and mystery. Camden’s marriage fell apart and died, he was brought before the admiralty to be made an example of and he just wants to be with his 8 year old daughter.

Christel shows up at a London dock seeking passage on Camden’s ship. She had received a letter asking her to return home to become a governess to Camden’s daughter. When Camden and Christel see each other again they discover that the attraction they felt for each other all those years ago hasn’t diminished and they have a difficult time keeping away from each other.

When they return home there are issues between Camden and his brother Leighton and an involvement in a smuggling ring. There’s also some issues with Christel and her past as well as the mystery around the death of Christel’s cousin, Camden’s wife, Saundra. We also have some political intrigue in there that was very nicely written.

The book was very well done and it was one I found I couldn’t put down. There was always something happening and holding my attention but not in a way that I felt there was too much going on. The story just flowed easily from one thing to another so seamlessly.

I very much enjoyed both Christel and Camden’s personalities in this story. They had issues together as well as emotional demon’s from their pasts that they needed to face and work through but they really were pretty sure of who they were. They grew in the book but not to the point where their personality changed completely and I really appreciated that the author kept them true to themselves. 

This is my first time reading Melody Thomas but it definitely won’t be my last. This was such an enjoyable book that I can’t wait to see what else she has to offer.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

What I Read Last Week

Bore da (pronounced Bore-ray dar aka Good Morning in Welsh)

How the heck are ya? Doing well I hope!

This week was an interesting/smell & disgusting one at work as a baby skunk got into one of the buildings at work and stunk up the place. OMG those things smell vile. I mean, I’ve passed areas while in my car that were smelly because of a skunk but I’ve never smelled one up close and personally. Yuk. I stayed in my office but my boss got sprayed and then walked into the office – gross! Needless to say we had to call in professionals and we still have residual smell.

Father’s day was nice as we had my parents, brother and his family, my niece and her boyfriend over for lunch. We also had my sister Ann who lives in Alabama come over since she is on a business trip in San Diego. She totally surprised my parents on Sunday morning at church and my girls were equally surprised. It was just a fun day.

I had a good reading week as well which was nice!

I started off with Make Mine a Bad Boy by Katie Lane. This was a pretty cute book but I had some issues with it. You can read my review here on The Book Binge if you’re interested. 3.25 out of 5

Next up was 911 by Chris Owen that I read for my TBR Challenge for the month. It was a good m/m/m book that I enjoyed. You can read my review here. 3.5 out of 5

This Perfect Kiss by Melody Thomas was an impulse request through Netgalley and I’m so glad that I got it. It was a great story (it releases on 6/28) about a girl of “almost” 18 who is infatuated with a man in the Royal Navy. Cut to 9 years later – both have been married and their spouses have died and they have both lived through many things. They fall back in love but the book is about so much more than that. I’ll be posting my review this week.

My next read was Warcry by Elizabeth Vaughan. This is book 4 in the Chronicles of the Warlands and it was a good one. Be warned – this is not a stand alone novel so if you’re interested you need to start from book 1. This is the continuing story of the blending of the Plains people and the Xyians and has a lot of Lara and Keir in the story…but the story is told more from Heath and Atira’s viewpoints. You can read my review here on The Book Binge is you’d like. 4.5 out of 5

Infinity Pools by LA Witt is book 2 in the Changing Plans series and it was great. The story continues almost immediately from where book 1 ends and tells us about Elliot and Derek and their adventures together. I loved seeing the two men come together although I would have loved to have been in Derek’s head to see what he was thinking. Despite that it was a great book and I’m becoming a huge Witt fan. 4.5 out of 5

Visible Friend by KZ Snow was my next read and it was also great. The story centers around Chris who has been a drug addict for 9 years. He’s now out of recovery and trying to deal with life, staying away from drugs and those old friends who still do drugs and wanting to be with a man. He thinks he starts something with a man from a support group but that’s not what he thought. He also is dealing with a man who he thought was his invisible friend when he was young but now the boy is all grown up and appearing in front of him. This was a really great book and had all the wonderful writing that KZ puts into all of her stories. It was very emotional and I felt for Chris so much with his struggles. 4 out of 5

Last for the week was Undercover by Lauren Dane. This is my first read by Dane even though I have this entire series and the Cascadia wolves series – strange, I know. Anyway the story focuses on Sera who works for the Federation military. She is assigned to work with a covert ops team that includes the man that she was in love with 10 years prior but he ended up marrying someone else. The book has the two men, Brandt and Ash, working with Sera as well as sleeping with her and they all fall in love. I liked the story and the sex was hot but I found my attention waning at times during the story. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series though to see what happens next. 3.25 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that have posted since last Monday

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

I was talking to a friend this week about 80's music. Strange topic, I know but there you have it.  I started thinking about this song and of course it was in my head the rest of the freakin week! lol  Here's a flashback to 1987 for you with Electric Blue by Icehouse.

You gotta love the hairstyles!

Review: Lessons in Indiscretion by Karen Erickson

Widowed Lady Julia Renwick is still young enough to crave a man's touch; but she's too old to think that the Earl of Bedingfield could see her as anything more than a family friend. Garrett Walker is handsome, charming and only 26 years old—the perfect catch for any one of this year's debutantes.

Garrett has no interest in the maidens vying for his attentions. He wants only Julia. With just two weeks left in the season, he makes a bold move by asking her to dance. When she counters with a shocking request of her own, Garrett eagerly agrees.

Soon, they are stealing away for passionate encounters at every society event they attend. Garrett introduces Julia to excitements she never knew existed, and her newfound confidence quickly attracts other eligible men. It's not long before Garrett realizes he must find a way to keep the lady all to himself...

Lady Julia Renwick wants the Earl of Bedingfield in her bed. She’s a little hesitant to ask him to be her lover until the end of the season but she lusts after him enough that she’s willing to risk rejection. When Bedingfield takes her into the garden at a ball and kisses her she sees her chance. Not only does the Earl accept but he wants to begin immediately. But what happens when the season ends and they have to go their separate ways – can they walk away from each other?

This was a short novella that was very sexy and had a great sense of romance. While the author didn’t show us every aspect of the two weeks that the couple was together we get enough to know that the pair is truly falling in love with each other.

Julia is quite taken with Garrett and though she knows they can’t be together permanently because she is older than him and doesn’t feel worthy it certainly doesn’t stop her from feeling more in love with him by the day.

For Garrett’s part he is just so romantic. We’re told he’s a rake but since the story is so short that’s not something we’re shown which is fine – but when he makes his play for Julia it is so touching I just loved it.

From what I understand this is the first in a series by Erickson that will be called the Merry Widows. I’ll definitely be looking for the next book in this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: Collide by Megan Hart

A childhood accident left Emmaline vulnerable to disturbing fugue states that last only minutes, but feel like an eternity. The blackouts are unsettling but manageable…until she meets Johnny Dellasandro. 

The reclusive painter gained notoriety in the ’70s for his debauched lifestyle and raunchy art films. His naked body has achieved cult status, especially in Emm’s mind– she’s obsessed with the man, who’s grown even sexier with age. Today Johnny shuns the spotlight and Emm in particular…until she falls into a fugue on his doorstep. 

In that moment she’s transported back thirty years, crashing a party at Johnny’s place in his wild-man heyday — the night is a blur of flesh and heat that lingers on her skin long after she’s woken to the present. 

It happens again and again, each time-slip another mind-blowing orgy, and soon Emm can’t stop, though every episode leaves her weaker and weaker. She’s frightened by what’s happening to her, but she’s even more terrified of losing this portal to the Johnny she wants so badly. The one who wants her, too, and takes her — every chance he gets.

At the age of 32 Emm has finally moved out of her parents house. With her above mentioned fugue states she's never been able to be on her own. At the beginning of the book she's been fugue-free for 2 years. She's made some friends and hangs out at a local coffee shop.

One day at the shop while talking to a friend she sees Johnny Dellasandro. Being the relatively sheltered woman that she is she has no idea about the independent films that Johnny made in the 70's and the artist that he has become but her best friend quickly fills her in. Emm gets a tad bit obsessed with finding out more information about Johnny and even begins to have fugues where together they play the main characters in her hallucinations, with Johnny playing himself – but his 1970's self that is.

Time after time Emm finds herself having fugues and returning in her head to the 70's and to Johnny where they have a fun and extremely passionate relationship. In real life though she finds Johnny more than disconcerting as he constantly is standoffish. Eventually the man caves to her charm and Emm and the “now” Johnny become an item. But how can Emm tell this man that she's falling in love with that she's having the hallucinations with his much younger self? And really, are the hallucinations just that or are they truly happening?

I don't know if you've ever read a Megan Hart book before, and this may not happen to you, but when I pick one up I have an extremely hard time putting it down. It sucks me in and I just have to read until I finish it! I had to put it down after the first 50 pages because of a previous (really fun) obligation but when I picked it back up I couldn't put it down until I was done. Not only that but I find her books so compelling that I find myself thinking about them long after I've closed the book or shut down the ereader. This book was no different. Very powerful and very thought provoking in so many different ways.

In this story I felt so strongly for Emm for a variety of reasons. She's so happy to be on her own and have friends and be independent but she finds herself lonely at times as well. My heart hurt for her a little bit when Johnny-now was off-putting and shutting doors in her face and she was confused about why it hurt her so much for him to do so. She was also so confused about the fugues hallucinations and exactly what they meant. I wanted so badly for her to spill the beans to the Johnny-now about what was happening but it was such a better story for the anticipation I had because of the waiting.

Johnny. Wow. Johnny, both in the here and now and in the 70's was just one incredibly luscious man. His 70's persona was so laid back and free and easy with many smiles and the attitude of peace he portrayed. The Johnny-now was much more uptight at first but we saw him thaw and loosen up over the course of the book. He was also older – he's 25 years older than Emm – and therefore a bit wiser than his 70's self and I loved seeing both sides of him.

The book is not as intense as some Hart stories but no less potent. It's a story of love, loss, hope and renewal and I very much recommend it.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

TBR Challenge Review: 911 by Chris Owen

Drew is a fireman who loves the rush of his job, and is looking for a roommate to share costs. Scott is a doctor looking for somewhere to live that doesn't leave him rooming with his now ex-lover. The match seems more than perfect when Scott moves in with Drew. It's more than just costs that they share. They find it hard to resist getting to know each other in the most intimate way, and soon things are heating up enough to make even Drew wonder if they can handle the fire.

So what happens when along comes EMT Eric with his blond good looks and boyish smile? He seems like the perfect match for Drew and Scott, but just Eric moving in is not all they have to deal with. Between family strife and physical injuries, the three of them have to face problems that could tear them apart, and ruin more than just their life together, including their careers and their health. Will this twosome be able to become a threesome or does it spell disaster for all?

Drew is a firefighter and at the hospital when he meets Scott who is doing his residency. Scott ends up driving Drew home and coming in for a quick drink. One conversation leads to another and soon Scott is rooming in Drew’s house with him. The attraction between the two men is great but nothing happens with them for a few months until one day Drew can’t take the sexual tension any longer and pretty much gives Scott a written invitation. Once the two get together it’s a done deal. They are perfect for each other and the relationship grows and becomes stronger.

A year or so later they meet Eric, an EMT who attends the regular poker games that are sometimes held at Drew and Scott’s house. When Eric mentions that he is looking for a place to live Drew and Scott invite him to live with them. But Eric is in love with both men and since they’re together he eventually can’t take the emotional highs and lows he feels from being in the house and sometimes hearing the men at night. He decides to move and that’s when Drew and Scott, after talking about it seriously, make their move on Eric and invite him into their relationship.

The three men face tears and disbelief from their families but they are determined to make their threesome work – and they do a great job at it. The trio is loving and devoted to one another and through conflict and injuries they stay strong and true to each other.

This was a pretty low key book in my opinion. Drew and Scott’s relationship kind of slid into home, so to speak, quite easily and once they were together that was it – no worries. Scott and Drew seemed to want the same thing when it came to Eric and even though there was some tension in the house because of Eric’s feelings, that was a pretty easy row to hoe as well. There was an incident when Drew got injured and had some “complications” from that (that I won’t go into because I don’t want to tell the whole book) and that as well was dealt with lovingly which I enjoyed reading about.

The book on a whole was a very nice tale of the relationship between three men who truly love each other and were willing to make things work no matter what.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

What I Read Last Week

Good morning!

Not much happened this past week until Saturday when some of the So Cal Bloggers got together. Wendy, Renee, Nikki, Judith and I met at Renee’s house and then moved over to the Covina Bookstore. For an independent bookstore it had a great romance section. We then went for lunch and then over to Barnes and Noble to check out their shelves. It was a lot of fun and always wonderful to see friends and talk BOOKS! lol I got some great recommendations from Renee and bought a book from a new-to-me author (whose name I can’t remember at the moment. lol). Here we are outside if B & N.

Diet and Exercise – Oy it’s gone to the dogs completely. I’m starting again today with being diligent about the exercise and eating right. I did get on the scale and am up a bit. I had lost a total of 4 pound – which has now only 2.4 *sigh* ah well – just goes to show I can’t fall off the wagon. This proves that left to my own devices I will eat the house. lol

Reading…(if only I was as good about exercise as I was about reading! lol)…it was a good week. I read some good stuff:

First up was Big Bad Beast by Shelly Laurenston. I really like Laurenston’s heroine’s and the men who love them. This story was about Dee-Ann who is one bad ass mofo who you do not want to mess with. Restaurant owner Ric wants nothing more than to mess with her in many different ways. The book is a combination of Rick and Dee-Ann’s relationship, a story of Dee-Ann and 2 others working on a case for The Unit that involves a dog-fighting type setup only with hybrids and a small story of Ric’s father who’s a complete bastard. It was a good story but I had some issues with it. You can read my review over at The Book Binge if you’re interested. 3.5 out of 5

Next was the novella Unlocked by Courtney Milan. What a great story! Evan had a thing for Lady Elaine Warren and wanted him to notice her. He went about it all wrong, however, and ended up making her someone that was laughed at and ridiculed and ended up making him feel like a horrible person. Evan leaves and doesn’t return for 10 years. He’s become a completely different person and would like nothing more than Elaine to forgive him. He knows this isn’t possible but it doesn’t stop him from trying. Such a great novella. Smexy’s review of this book is what got me hooked. 4.5 out of 5

More Than Words Volume 7 by Carly Phillips, Donna Hill and Jill Shalvis is a Harlequin anthology that has stories that are based on amazing women. Three really good stories make up this anthology and it’s just a fun romantic book. You can read my review here. 4 out of 5

Kathry, the Kitten by Lavinia Kent was my next read. This is a novella that starts The Real Duchesses of London series. This was the story of the Kathryn, the Duchess of Harrington, who seems to have the perfect life except she doesn’t actually sleep with her husband any longer. She loves him and wants him back in her bed. She asks a friend for help but there are many other things happening that Kathryn doesn’t know about. This was a great little novella and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ll post a review next week. 4 out of 5 (This is an Avon Impulse that releases on the 28th of this month)

After that I went on a little Anne Brooke spree with the Delaneys. I started off with The Delaneys and Me which is a story about Liam who breaks up with his boyfriend and says some things that put his ex-boyfriends cousins (The Delaneys who are crime bosses) hackles up. He knows he has to pay for what he’s said and what the Delaneys come up with is scary but doable. They tell him that he can get his balls shot off or have sex with them. Yeah, which one do you think he chose? lol This was a short story (35 pages) that was so cute. I really liked the writing and the humor in the story was right up my alley. Yes there are twins in the story but no twincest. 4 out of 5

Next was Entertaining the Delaneys by Anne Brooke. The twins are contacting Liam a few weeks after their first encounter and want Liam to entertain one of their guests. He’s up for it as long as the twins are involved. Again, a funny story that’s quite short (also 35 pages) and pretty darned hot. Same fun humor as the first story which I love. 4 out of 5

The third story in the Delaney series (so far) was The Art of the Delaneys by Anne Brooke. In this story (42 pages) Liam and his boss are helping the Delaneys with a little art scam their running. The twins and Liam get up to a little fun in the gallery and make some decisions about their strange but compelling relationship. Another cute story and I can’t wait to read what’s up next with the threesome. 3.75 out of 5

My Tracy’s TBR Challenge read for the week was Seducing the Duchess by Ashley March. The story is about a duke who kidnaps his own wife. You see he married her for revenge and when she found out – the day after he wedding 3 years earlier – she decided to do everything she could to force the duke into divorcing her. She wasn’t actually as bad as rumor had it and despite her dislike of duke she couldn’t stop loving him. He’s decided he loves his wife and wants her back and with him only. I liked the story a lot but had some issues with the heroine. She wanted her freedom from the duke but it was because of the situation, at least that’s how I was reading it. But when they express their love for each other and he says he won’t divorce her she’s upset that she won’t have her freedom. Why would she still want it? 3.75 out of 5

Getting Off the Ground by LA Witt was a great novella that I very much enjoyed. Elliot is at the airport in Seattle waiting for the planes to get off the ground and in a freak blizzard. He’s going on his honeymoon to Hawaii by himself after he was stood up at the altar. He meets Derek in the airport who’s also heading to Hawaii but he lives on the islands. Derek and Elliot get to know each other and end up spending the night in a hotel room together that’s just amazing. But then it had to end because they’re going different places – or does it? I was little leery of Derek and Elliot’s getting together – even for a night - because of Elliot having just come out of this very long relationship where he was prepared to marry his partner. As the story moves on Witt explained Elliot and his ex-partners relationship in a way that I could accept Derek and Elliot together. I have the next book in the series or I might have been upset at the ending which was a bit abrupt. I’ll dig into book 2 this week. 4 out of 5

Collide by Megan Hart was my next read and it was so good! This book comes out on the 21st and I recommend it. The story of a woman who has the hots for an ex-independent film star-turned-artist-turned-gallery owner but he seems to not want to have anything to do with her. Then she starts having hallucinations about the man but it’s when he was 30 years younger. I’ll post my review this week and tell you more. 4.25 out of 5

Last on the list was a short novella I read for The Book Binge called When, Were and Howl by Jeanette Raleigh. This was the story of a woman who is a shifter but she turns into a mouse when she shifts – the rest of her family are wolf shifters – talk about different. She’s got it bad for her wolf shifter boss and wants more than anything to be able to shift to something besides a mouse. She gets an amulet that allows her to shift into a wolf but then she can’t get back to human. Is it all she’d hoped it would be? It was a cute story but left me hanging at the end of the story which I didn’t care for. I’ll probably read the next novelette just so I can see what happened! 3 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

Strangely I didn't listen to a whole lot of music this week.  I guess I was more in the "thinking" mood while driving than the "listening" mode, for some reason.  Not always a good thing! lol  Anyway, I did watch the movie Serendipity this week - which I've seen about 20 times but still love.  John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale are in this romantic comedy and just something about it gets me every time. Anyway, here's When You Know by Shawn Colvin from that movie.  Have a great day!

Review: More Than Words, Volume 7 by Carly Phillips, Donna Hill & Jill Shalvis

Each and every one of us has the ability to effect change—to make our world a better place. The dedicated women selected as this year's recipients of Harlequin's More Than Words award have changed lives, one good deed at a time. To celebrate their accomplishments, some of our bestselling authors have honored the winners by writing stories inspired by these real-life heroines.

We hope More Than Words inspires you to get in touch with the real-life heroine living inside of you.
In Carly Phillips's Compassion Can't Wait, two high school sweet hearts are reunited years later, as if by fate, and discover that if you believe in yourself and each other, anything is possible.

Donna Hill's Someplace Like Home tells the story of how one woman's dream becomes reality, as three special people learn that it's never too late to form a loving family.

In Jill Shalvis's What the Heart Wants, an honorable man must learn to forgive himself to regain the trust of the dedicated teacher who is the love of his life.

This was a great anthology made all the better because of the women who were behind the stories.

**The first story, Compassion Can’t Wait by Carly Phillips, is based on the work done by Valerie Sobel and her Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation. The foundation helps single mothers, who have children who are dying, pay bills and take care of financial issues so that the parent can be with their child in their time of need rather than having to work and be away from them.

The story itself is about Julia who is a social worker and decides to help a boy whose single mother is trying to deal with her other son who has leukemia. Julia knows that Michael has severe hero worship for Kyle Hansen, the start pitcher for the Miami Suns. Julia and Kyle were once high school sweethearts but due to many circumstances they took different paths and never talked to each other again. Knowing that Julia can put a little sunshine into Michael’s life she bites the bullet and seeks out Kyle’s assistance with Michael. When Kyle and Julia see each other again though, they each know that there are still deep feelings hidden within them for the other – but can they get past the hurt that they feel from the past and move on?

This was a great little story that I very much enjoyed reading. Phillips did a great job showing us the rekindling of Julia and Kyle’s romance but also the emotional aspect of Kyle dealing with Michael and what Michael was going through during this difficult time. A very heartwarming story.

**The second story, Someplace Like Home by Donna Hill, is based on the work that Nancy Abrams does with the Family Reconnect Program. The program helps try and reconnect runaways with their parents so that they can get back home or establish themselves with their family support.

The story was about a social worker, Verna, who had had enough of the system and decided to open Someplace Like Home – taking care of teens who have had problems in the system or cannot find a home. During a seminar Verna gives she connects with Ronald who is interested in volunteering at SLH. Eventually he begins to work at the home and Verna and Ronald begin to date. Only Ronald actually believes, after seeing one of the girls at the home, that she may actually be his daughter – one he had no clue he had. But Verna has mixed feelings about reuniting the daughter and father which puts a strain on Ronald and Verna’s relationship. Can they work through it.

This story was good as well but it didn’t click with me as much as the other two in the book. I loved what Someplace Like Home was doing with the kids and it really seemed to be working. Verna and Ronald’s relationship was good too although we were more told about it than shown. I really had an issue with Verna’s lack of trust in Ronald when it came to “claiming” his daughter. I understood that she had been hurt tremendously in the past by the mother that abandoned her and that it colored Verna’s thoughts – but I think that was my problem. Verna should have been more than happy to get even one child out of the system where they could find a loving parent. Knowing Ronald as she did she should have trusted him. It all worked out in the end but I can’t say I ended the book with a full smile on my face…just half a one. lol

**The third story ,What The Heart Wants by Jill Shalvis, is based on the work done by Victoria Pettibone and Sasha Eden with the WET Risk Takers program. The program is designed to bolster girls’ self–esteem, providing them with leadership tools, and valuable information on their health and well being.

The story tells us of a math teacher, Ellie, who starts a program called PIC (Powerful and in Charge). She helps teens try to see that they are powerful and they don’t have to be punching bags either verbally or emotionally and they can do anything they put their mind to. A fluke meeting puts Ellie and Jack – high school friends – back in touch. Ellie and Jack circle around each other and Ellie finds herself asking Jack for his assistance with PIC and having him teach the girls how to protect themselves through self-defense (that’s his business). The couple seem to be hitting it off but Jack is feeling mega guilt for something that happened back in high school with Ellie – nothing that was his fault at all. He’s also afraid of taking that major step toward the serious relationship.

This was probably my favorite story of the bunch. It was simple and straightforward – not too much angst and a lot of honesty which I love to read about in my romances. Jack was more than aware of Ellie – even when he hadn’t been in contact with her. Ellie, once she met up with Jack again, couldn’t seem to keep herself away from him. I really loved how Ellie just called Jack on things and never let him get away from the hard issues. This was a great story with romance as well as the help that both Jack and Ellie – and Ellie’s program – played in teens lives.

Rating: 4 out of 5

There are also 2 free stories on by Meryl Sawyer and Pamela Morsi that are based on More Than Words recipients as well that you can read here.

Taekwondo Competition

As promised - here are the pictures from the youngest daughter's competition.  It was really gorgeous in Oceanside but unfortunately my camera died before the sun burned off the haze!  It's still beautiful though.  There were quite a few people who attended the competition.  We didn't stay for all of it but I heard it was great.

Here are a few of the amphitheater that I took while waiting for her portion of the comp.

Here's the video of her actual form but it's so bad it's almost embarrassing! I'm pretty sure my hubby was doing jumping jacks while shooting this on his phone.  Or course, my luck, the phone wouldn't let me take it off!  It told me it was too big to attach to send in an email so the only way I could get it off was to turn it into a youtube vid straight from the phone. Unfortunately I couldn't actually edit the damned thing and you'll have to cross your eyes and tilt your head to the left in order to watch. (uh, totally serious people) Squinting might help too.  Of the two girls my little peanut is the one doing her form on the right. (they wouldn't let us get on the side of the mat and we were in a major walkway) *shrugs* whatcha gonna do, right?

It was a fun day and someday I'll actually take a picture with her and her medal.  I know, I'll get the mom of the year award - you're all jealous. 

What I Read Last Week

Another Monday and here we are. Let’s all congratulate ourselves for making it through last week – shall we? Yep, I’m pretty glad I made it through. lol

In blogland – if you’re not following Kassa’s Fan Letter Blog Crawl you definitely should! Some awesome letters are being written to authors and you wouldn’t want to miss out. :)

Diet and Exercise – Only 1 time exercising this week but I think I did ok on my food. I was in a huge hurry this morning and forgot to weigh myself so no news on that front. It was a good week though.

My youngest went to her very first Taekwondo competition this past weekend. It was in Oceanside (about 2.5 hours away) and I was afraid that she would be out of it because we had to wake up so darned early to be there to register and she was really nervous. She did a great job and for her first competition though and got a SILVER MEDAL! Woohooo! Go baby! I was extremely proud of her to say the least. I have a few pictures and my hubby has a vid on his phone (my stupid camera died right before her part in the comp.) so I’ll have tod download those and post them later this week for you all.

So on to what I read last week:

I started with Lessons in Indiscretion by Karen Erickson. This was the story of a widow who is craving intimacy with a particular man. She wants him to become her lover for the rest of the Season. He up for the challenge but what happens when they become closer and the end of the Season rolls around? This was a short novella and a very good one. I’ll post my review next week.

Next up was Keeping House by Lee Brazil. This is the short novella story of a rich twenty year old who is pretty much a free spirit. Mischa’s brothers want him to work for their film production company and that’s just not his bag. The brother’s dare Mischa into finding a job and supporting himself for one year with no help from his trust fund. Mischa takes them on and ends up taking a job as a housekeeper to an advertising exec. He has no clue what he’s doing but he muddles through and does a great job – he also falls in love with his boss. This was cute but too short. I would have liked more time for the men to get to know each other as I’m just not a huge fan of insta-love. 3 out of 5

After that I read Hunter and the Hawk by Gale Stanley. This is the story of Lycans and Vampires who hate each other but they have a treaty that was made hundreds of years ago. Both genetic lines are dying out and one vampire, a doctor, is trying to see if the addition of lycan blood to the vampire blood makes a difference. The doctor, Abbie, sends her brother, Aidan, to talk to the Lycan alpha but he is intercepted by Hunter. Due to many circumstances Hunter decides to help the vamps without telling his alpha and Aidan and Hunter end up being mates who will die without the others blood. This was pretty good but it didn’t really have a conclusion. It’s a continuing story and I hope we get more info about Hunter and Aidan in future books – as well as info on the infertility issues. 3 out of 5 (novella)

Paradise Found by Hunter Raines was my next read. This was an m/m/m ménage story with some BDSM elements to it. It was good but I did find myself wanting more as I read. You can read my review here if you’d like. 3.75 out of 5 (novella)

I was doing the happy dance when I opened my mail and found Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison in there from Holly. I, of course, dove right into it and it was great! This is Tiago and Niniane’s story (Niniane – formerly known as Tricks) and when there is an assassination attempt on Niniane’s life – because she’s going to be taking the Dark Fae throne as their queen – Tiago, who is an excellent tracker, heads to Chicago to find and protect her. The romance was great and while the suspense part wasn’t as good, as a whole, I really liked the book. (This one comes out August 2nd) 4.25 out of 5

My Tracy’s TBR Challenge read for the week was an anthology called Hot Summer Nights by Mary Wine, Karen Erickson, Elle Kennedy and Samantha Lucas. These four different stories told of men and women getting together in all different circumstances for all different reasons. For the most part I liked the stories and the characters. 3 out of 5 overall

Last up was The Rake by Suzanne Enoch (yes Lori, I finally started the Lessons in Love series!). Six years ago Lord Dare had accepted a wager to get a kiss from Georgianna Halley. Dare got that kiss and they both got a night of passion. But when Georgianna found out about the wager – as well as the other wager involving her stocking – Georgianna was pissed! She had thought that the night meant something to Dare but she was wrong. Now Georgianna and her friends have decided that there are some lessons they’d like to teach men and Georgianna wants to teach them to Dare. She has to make him fall in love with her so that she can break his heart when she breaks it off – making him realize how horrible it is and therefore making him a better husband when he marries. But what starts off as Georgianna teaching a lesson soon became Dare and Georgianna falling in love with each other. This was a really good story and I loved seeing this pair come together. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in the trilogy. 4 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
*crickets chirping*

Happy Reading!!

Saturday Song

Today the family is off to see my youngest compete in her first taekwondo competition.  She's only performing her form/kata/pum but it's her first and she's a bit nervous.  I told her that she can do anything she puts her mind to and she can't know how things will turn out until she tries.  Some of the words of Defying Gravity (this version from Glee since you all know I love the show!) hit me with regard to the competition when I was listening to the CD:

It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap! 

Fitting words for doing something she's never done before but knows she can do.  I'll let you know how it goes but I know she'll do a wonderful job!

Review: Paradise Found by Hunter Raines

Paradise is just an illusion...

Or so Philip thinks as he vacations on exotic Anguilla. He should be celebrating the end of law school and the start of his successful career, but he's tired of living a lie for his family's sake. For just one night, he lets down his guard with two men he thinks he'll never see again.

He isn't the only one with secrets. For years, Cameron Drake has suppressed his need for dominance, afraid of hurting his lover, Mark Wilder. But when Cameron's hand meets Philip's ass, there's no more pretending. Mark can't face his conflicting feelings about the ménage; does Cameron want more than Mark can give?

The three of them may have been perfect together but consequences follow them back to their real lives. Will their desire for another encounter shatter the illusions they've built to protect themselves or clear the obstacles to paradise?

Cameron and Mark have been together for a few years and though they love each other deeply their sex life has been pretty ho hum of late. While on their way to Anguilla Cameron suggests that adding a third man to their duo, just for one night, will spice things up. Though Mark isn’t completely sold on the idea he agrees. They meet Philip who is there with friends and Mark and Cameron decide to go for it.

Philip is in Anguilla on vacation – enjoying one last great vacation before he goes to work for his father. His father is in denial about the fact that Philip is gay and wants nothing more for Philip to be “cured” of this disease. Philip knows that once he heads back to Boston to work for his father’s law firm that he will have to completely fake it and make his family believe that he is straight. He’s not happy about that at all. When he is approached by Mark and Cameron he wants nothing more than to be with the two men, but he’s afraid of what that will do to the mind-set he’s determined to have. He heads up to their room with them just for a drink and one thing leads to another.

The three men share a sexy and incredibly hot time together but during the course of their sex play Cameron starts spanking Philip. Both Philip and Mark are a little shocked but Philip loves it. Both Cameron and Mark find that they’ve formed an unexpected emotional connection to Philip as well. The next day Cameron is quiet and stand-offish with Mark and fearing the eminent break up of his relationship with Cameron, Mark has breakfast with Philip where he tells him, in no uncertain terms, to never try to find them after they leave Anguilla. Mark is fascinated by what happened with Cameron and Phillip (spanking) but when he asks Cameron to spank him as well Cameron goes soft and loving with him. Mark is more than frustrated and has no idea what’s going on.

Cut to many months later – Philip is working in his father’s law firm. He’s taking case after case and winning most of them. After a discussion with his father he finally gets his old man to believe that he’s now interested in women – when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. He keeps seeing Cameron and Mark in every male couple he sees and it’s starting to make him crazy – he just can’t stop thinking about the men. He eventually has an investigator friend try to find the two men in LA. But what he finds in the report that he gets back isn’t what he expected. The photos of Cameron coming out of a BDSM club and the knowledge that Cameron and Mark’s relationship isn’t what it once was sets Philip to thinking and he eventually knows he can get them back to where they need to be. But when is all said and done – where will that leave Philip?

This story was not what I expected when I picked this book up at netgalley – it was better. I really didn’t expect it to be quite as emotional as it was and I really liked that characteristic of it.

Let me talk about the men first.
Mark – I really liked him from the get go. He seemed to truly love Cameron and just wanted what was best for their relationship. I was with Mark when it came to being slightly confused about adding the third party into the mix. Adding another man would spice their sex life up – for one night. It certainly wouldn’t help them with the problems they were having in the bedroom, which seemed to be effecting every aspect of their lives. I hurt for Mark because, really, he was so in the dark about Cameron and most of the problems, at least I felt, weren’t his fault.

Philip – I very much liked him as well. Philip was in such a rough spot. On one hand he truly wanted to be the man his father wanted him to be…professionally. But on the other hand he wanted to be himself and be loved for who he was. He also didn’t care for the type of cases he was taking and so was doing pro bono work for a women’s shelter – which made me like him even more. My heart ached for Philip as well because he couldn’t be accepted by his family for who he was – a gay man. When it came to Cameron and Mark I was a bit on the fence as to whether I thought they should all be together. Yes, in the end he was the glue that put Cameron and Mark back together but I ‘m not sure I saw how the three of them would work so well together. By the end of the book, however, Ms. Raines had me believing that it was all possible.

Cameron - While I believe he was a good person deep down I found it extremely hard to forgive him for his deceit – which is what it was when he hid his past so thoroughly from Mark for so long. The lack of honesty in the relationship was taking its toll and even then he couldn’t come out with the truth. He even made an (aborted) attempt to try the BDSM lifestyle again without Mark involved and that just pissed me off even more. I believe that he truly did love Mark but if that was the case why couldn’t he trust him enough to tell him the truth so that they could work on it together? If he had gone 6 months without telling him I may have understood but it had been 3 years and still he remained silent.

When all was said and done I actually believed that the three men would work it all out and the conclusion was quite good. But that being said I think I would have liked to have just seen Mark and Philip walk off into the sunset together…alone. I know, bad Tracy wanting to change the story! lol In the end I liked the writing and will definitely be reading more from this author in the future.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5