Review: Forbidden by Nicola Cornick

As maid to some of the most wanton ladies of the ton, Margery Mallon lives within the boundaries of any sensible servant. Entanglements with gentlemen are taboo. Wild adventures are for the Gothic novels she secretly reads. Then an intriguing stranger named Mr. Ward offers her a taste of passion, and suddenly the wicked possibilities are too tempting to resist.

Henry Atticus Richard Ward is no ordinary gentleman. He's Lord Wardeaux and he is determined to unite Margery with her newfound inheritance by any means—including seduction and deception. But when the ton condemns the scandalous servant-turned-countess and an unknown danger prepares to strike, will Margery accept Henry's protection in exchange for her trust?

Margery sells sweet and confections to the whores at the local brothels and gets paid in their cast off clothing. She then takes that to her brothers second hand store and he pays her for them. She’s saving her money from that as well as her position as a ladies maid to eventually open her own confectioners shop. One day when she’s in one of the brothels she runs into a man who is gorgeous and charming and though she finally spits out that she’s not a lightskirt he still kisses her and wow, it’s memorable.

Another day the man is waiting for her when she leaves her employers house on her evening off. They go to dinner and he introduces himself as Henry Ward. They have a wonderful time and Margery is pretty smitten. They actually end up in a near compromising position but stop before it goes too far.

The next day Margery is called down to her employers parlor and she’s just sure that she’s about to be fired as someone has discovered what she did with Henry. What she discovers instead is that she is an Earl’s long lost granddaughter. She of course scoffs at this information as she knows it can’t be true. She was raised with three brothers as the daughter of a blacksmith. Yet, she has memories that don’t quite fit in with her life in the Mallon family.

She is whisked off to the Earl’s estate and is now Lady Marguerite. She’s not sure what to do with herself and not sure who she is any longer. Her great-aunt isn’t all that nice and neither is Henry’s mother. Henry of course, as far as Marguerite is concerned, can go hang. She’s pissed off that he deceived her to gather information about her and her past but….as much as she hates him she also really likes the guy when she gets to know him further.

The story is about Margery’s life as a Lady and her romance with Henry, that despite all appearances, is quite steamy. We also get someone trying to do Margery harm and Henry’s having none of that.

I really liked this latest installment in the Scandalous Ladies of the Ton series. Margery was quite a woman to put up with all she did from start to finish – with her grandfather as well as relatives and those men who came to court her. No one from the Ton could quite completely accept her because of her background but she just didn’t let that stop her from being true to herself and who she was. I really liked that about her.

Henry was quite a cold fish for the most part but the guy had hidden depths. He knew that Margery was forbidden to him because he didn’t want to be seen as a fortune hunter. (He was the heir apparent until Margery was found.) But the more time he spent with her, and despite the fact that they seemed to frustrate the hell out of each other, he loved her. He tried to fight it and he did make a mess of things sometimes but despite that he came out looking pretty good in the hero department.

In the end the book was quite entertaining. Margery and Henry were great together and I loved reading about them.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Nicola Cornick

Review: Love, Hypothetically by Anne Tenino

Paul's been called many things—graduate student, humanities tutor, jock-hater, even broke—but "forgiving" isn't one of them. When the new women's softball coach at Calapooya college specifically requests Paul to tutor his athletes, Paul's forced to put aside his strict "no athletes" policy for the sake of his paycheck.

Enter Trevor Gardiner, former Major League Baseball player and Paul’s high school boyfriend. Yeah, that one—the guy who sacrificed Paul for the safety of his closet and his future career. But Trevor’s come out and retired from baseball, and now he’s looking for forgiveness and a second chance.

There’s no earthly reason Paul should give him one, but he keeps letting the man state his case. And touch him. And take him sailing. The waters are far from smooth, though, and Paul says awful things to Trevor he isn’t sure he means. Now Paul has to decide: apologize and forgive Trevor for everything, or chalk it up as revenge and move on.

Paul is a tutor and is pretty upset when he gets called to the office of the new girls’ softball coach. He DOES NOT tutor jocks – even female ones! He heads over to tell the coach this fact and he finds that the new coach is his old boyfriend from high school. Well, Paul considered Trevor his boyfriend as they were constantly fooling around in Paul’s car. But Trevor? Not so much. Then, when they were caught in a possibly compromising position, Trevor serves Paul up on a platter and saves himself and his future. Or so he thought.

Trevor knew that he wanted to be a baseball player and possibly make it into the major leagues one day. He couldn’t do that if he was out and proud so he hid himself in a closet until he just couldn’t stand it any longer. He now works for Calapooya College and he wants Paul back. He knows that he’s the only man he will ever truly love, but he also knows that he fucked up royally nine years earlier.

Paul is all about the NO! No I will not tutor jocks. No I will not forgive Trevor. No I will not let myself be lulled into giving Trevor a second chance. Well, and then the yes…Yes, I will lie to myself and say that I’m completely over Trevor. Paul is a headstrong guy and when Trevor puts himself out there looking to rekindle their relationship and to seek forgiveness, Paul doesn’t want to give that forgiveness. But Trevor is in earnest and soon Paul’s thinking that maybe he should rethink things himself.

This was a fun book. Paul was in Tenino’s book, Frat Boy and Toppy, and I did not like him AT ALL. I thought he was mouthy and opinionated, brash…but the one thing he wasn’t was forgettable. When I saw that Tenino has written his story I couldn’t wait to read it.

Paul is still mouthy and brash and headstrong but we get to see what was behind his jock issues and he had a reason to be the way he was. When Trevor betrayed him his senior year he was devastated and understandably so. I felt horrible for him and could understand his hesitancy to forgive Trevor out of fear. Paul works his thoughts out with friends and of course it can’t be about him so he gives hypothetical examples. lol I’m pretty sure he knew he wasn’t fooling his friends at all.

Trevor, I think, had been having a pretty tough life when it came to being gay. He had to be pretty far in the closet and he just wasn’t happy. Even playing baseball didn’t do it for him and he knew that what he needed was Paul. I loved that he had the fortitude to come back and seek Paul out. It took guts and I had to admire him for it. Paul wasn’t an easy sell by any means but Trevor was persistent.

In the end we got a sweet, sexy, fun, funny, touching reunion story that I loved reading. If you read Frat Boy and Toppy, or even if you didn’t this is definitely worth reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Anne Tenino

Review: The Reluctant Amazon by Sandy James

The last thing Rebecca Massee expects on her wedding day is to go from jilted kindergarten teacher to Amazonian Earth warrior. But when she causes an earthquake after her groom says I don’t, she discovers that not only does she possess incredible powers, she is one of four lost chosen sisters who must fight to keep humanity safe from rogue gods and demons. Luckily she has help: ruggedly handsome Scottish warrior Artair MacKay, her protector and teacher.

An immortal, Artair has trained countless warriors for more than four hundred years. He understands Rebecca’s confusion at the new world she’s been thrust into and worries she is too emotionally vulnerable, but that doesn’t stop his growing feelings for the beautiful and fearless woman.

When an evil force threatens to destroy the Amazons, Rebecca must claim her full powers--but they come at a cost. Can she sacrifice the man she loves if it means saving the world?

Rebecca is about to be married. She’s pretty shocked when she heads down the aisle to the altar and her fiancé gets cold feet and calls it all off. She shows the man exactly how she feels about his actions and then an earthquake rocks the church. On her way out she bumps right into a large man in a kilt – not something you see every day. He asks her to go with him without explanation and she’s so pissed at her circumstances that she accepts. As the man with the Scottish brogue takes her toward a dilapidated van Rebecca starts to have second thoughts. She has no idea who this is and what the heck is she doing leaving with him anyway. Despite her arguments the Scot gets her into the van and they take off with a woman named Sparks.

When Rebecca finally gets Sparks to pull the van over and tell her exactly what’s going on she is shocked. The Scot, Artair MacKay, tells her that she is one of four Amazons who have come into their power that day. She is Earth and there is also Air, Water and Fire. There are four Amazon’s per generation who can be brought forth to fight and protect humanity when it is needed. Artair also tells her that the Amazon’s were created by Goddess’s. What? Yep, they’re real – along with almost every other mythical creature ever heard of. Rebecca is more than a bit blindsided by this information but ends up going along with them to this place they call Avalon.

Rebecca soon meets her “sister” who is another Amazon and they start to train to fight and be great Amazon’s. Rebecca is missing her life but the longer she is at Avalon she realizes that this is who she is meant to be.

The problem is that some of the Amazon’s from the previous generation, Sparks’s sisters, are missing and Sparks can’t feel them like she’s always been able to. She’s afraid that something and someone horrible has them and she might be too late.

Along with the evil that Rebecca and the other Amazon’s are facing - because it is truly evil – Rebecca is becoming closer to Artair. But being with your trainer is a big no-no and against all the rules and that poses some large problems. Not as large as Rebecca finding out that not only is she an Amazon but so much more than that – and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

I have to say when I heard the title of this book I kind of thought, “Amazon? Do I want to read a book with Amazon’s?” but I should have known that Sandy James would come through for me. From the moment that I started reading I was hooked. The initial scene with Rebecca at her wedding is hilarious and I wanted more. There was really never a dull moment in the story when I wanted to put the book down.

The great thing about this story is that we totally have a great mix of contemporary and fantasy. The book is set in modern day America but the fact that Avalon exists, and moves around so that no one can find it, as well as the fact that all of those mythical creatures, Gods and Goddess’s exist was too good. I loved the blend of real…and not. The characters were engaging, the evil was sufficiently evil (lol) and I couldn’t put the book down.

If you like a good romance with some great fight scenes then this is a book that you must read. Oh, and liking Amazon’s doesn’t hurt, but it’s completely not necessary. You’ll like these just fine.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Sandy James

Until There Was You by Jessica Scott Sneak Peek

About a month ago I read Because of You by Jessica Scott which was the first book in her Coming Home series. I just loved the book and I'm really looking forward to the next story in the series. Today you get a sneak peek at Until There Was You which comes out October 8th. Enjoy it, I know I did!

UNTIL THERE WAS YOU by Jessica Scott, Excerpt

What I Read Last Week

Well here we are on Monday again. I don’t understand how this keeps happening so quickly every week! lol

I went back to work on Wednesday but am still under the weather and pretty sick this weekend. I’m at work today just dreaming about home. :)

My youngest had a belt test this past Saturday for her Danbo belt. It’s the last belt before she hits black and I was so proud of her! I took a lot of little mini videos and then thanks to a great little app on my iPhone I was able to merge them all together into one video. In this test she had to break a ton of boards and even one with her head! OMG that scared me but she did a great job. I’m embedding that video but there are also a couple of sparring vids on my youtube channel if you want to watch them.

Other than that not a lot happened this week so on to what I read:

I started off the week with About That Night by Julie James. I swear this book must have gotten lost in the shuffle but I was so excited when I unearthed it. This is the story of Rylann who is a US Attorney and Kyle who is an ex-con (he shut down Twitter for 48 hours) and how they fall in love. It was a really great book which is what I expect from Julie as she writes so well. I read this one for Book Binge and will let you know when my review posts. 4 out of 5

Next was a reread for me – The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook. I loved this book the first time I read it and it was no different this time. I wanted to refresh my memory on events and characters before I delve into books 2 & 3 (I know, I can’t believe I’m that behind either). If you haven’t read this steampunk book then you should cuz it’s oh so good. 5 out of 5

My next read was Archangel’s Storm by Nalini Singh that I read for Book Binge. This is a great addition to the Guild Hunter series. In this book we get Jason’s story. Jason is Raphael’s spymaster and is in one of the other Archangel’s courts to try and find a murderer. He meet Mahiya and the man who never thought he could feel again, does. Now he doesn’t turn from dark to light and change personalities and that’s what I loved about the story. He was himself only better and Singh kept his character true. Very good story. 4 out of 5

After that I picked up But My Boyfriend Is by KA Mitchell. This is book 4 in the Florida series and one of the men is the brother of Aaron who was in Collision Course. Dylan’s twin, Darryl, is beaten up because the bashers thought he was Dylan. Darryl was saved by good Samaritan, Mike. Mike and Dylan have a connection and though they quickly getting off in the bathroom, Dylan is in complete denial as to the fact that he’s gay. This one was very angsty but oh so good. I really liked Mike a lot and thought he was extremely patient with Dylan and his constant denials about his sexuality. Definitely worth reading, especially if you’ve read the others in this series. 4 out of 5

Nothing of a Son by LA Witt was next and this was an unusual read for me. I don’t normally read m/m historical romance but this sounded so good. The story is about a soldier, Daedalus, who asks a Duke for shelter from a storm. The duke allows him in but warns him about touching his two daughters. But Daedalus is gay and when he sees the duke’s son, Rauman, he is completely smitten. Rauman is also head over heels for Daedalus. They fall into each others arms but know they can’t be together forever. This was a good historical read. I didn’t get to know the characters that well so I felt I was missing something in the end. The story is more of a HFN story but was still good. 3 out of 5

Turn to Darkness by Jaime Rush was my next read. This is a spin-off from her original Offspring series. I haven’t read any of the other stories but I didn’t feel too lost at all with what was going on. Shea was hurt horribly 6 years earlier but none of her friends know about it. She hides behind baggy clothing. This doesn’t stop her friend Darius from liking her but he wants to possess her and frankly it’s a bit creepy. Then there’s Greer who she really likes but tells herself she doesn’t. The story revolved around Shea and Greer coming to terms with what they were to each other as well as the father’s of Shea and Greer coming to kill their offspring. It was an interesting story and I think I may want to go back and find out more about the “Darkness” which seems kind of like a strange magical ability. 3 out of 4

Love, Hypothetically by Anne Tenino is a follow up to Frat Boy and Toppy that I enjoyed so much. Paul was the nasty ass roommate that couldn't keep his trap shut about jocks. We all thought he had a stick up his ass but apparently there was a very good reason for the way he acted. I'll review this one later this week.

Last for the week was Forbidden by Nicola Cornick. This story was about Margery who is a ladies maid and quite happy for the time being. She wants nothing more than to save enough money to start her own confectioners shop. She meets Henry and is quite charmed by him...until she finds out some important information. I'll review this later this week and tell you more then.

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
A Perfect Stranger by Jaden Skye
Echoes at Dawn by Maya Banks

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

Well I just heard this one today but it was so good I just had to share.  This one is slow and wonderful and I hope you like it as much as I did.  Here's Adele singing Make You Feel My Love.  Enjoy!

Review: The Way to a Duke's Heart by Caroline Linden

Destined to be a duke, Charles de Lacey has led a life of decadent pleasure, free of any care for propriety or responsibility. It comes as a terrible shock to learn that he might be stripped of everything, thanks to his father's scandalous past. He has no choice but to find the blackmailer who would ruin him—and his only link to the villain is a woman who may be part of the plot…

To save his fortune and title, he vows he'll stop at nothing—in fact, he's all too eager to unravel the beautiful, tart-tongued Tessa Neville. She intrigues him and tempts him like no other lady ever has. With only his heart to guide him, and keenly aware that his entire future is at stake, Charles must decide: is she the woman of his dreams, or an enemy in disguise?

Charles de Lacey isn't thrilled with how things are going in his life at the moment. His father has died, and even though they had had a falling out Charles is sad at the fact that he was so stubborn and can now never reunite with him. Then there's the fact that their father was being blackmailed and though he's the heir that will or will not become a Duke, depending on the information that is found, he really doesn't want to do any of the grunt work himself. His two brother's have done a lot of the investigating but now their each married and want to spend time with their wives, which Charlie understands.

He heads to Bath to see one of his brothers and get the information that has been found out so far. When he's there he hears that the man he is searching for has contacted one of his fellow hotel mates. He's not sure if he's found a connection to his blackmailer he decides to befriend and the ladies and then follow them to a rural country town. In befriending the ladies though he gets closer and closer to Tessa and she's not at all as he expected. She's forthright, yes, but she's also funny and kind, generous and smart and he falls directly in love with her. He starts to rethink his life, what he's doing with it and how he lives it. Self-inspection is much harder than he thought it would be.

This is the third book in the Truth About the Duke series and it was a really great finale. We got a great romance as well as finally figuring out who the blackmailer was and what the motive was behind it all.

First we got to know a bit about Tessa who is a single woman (widow) and she's traveling to get info for her brother, a marquess, about a canal project that he's thinking of investing in. Tessa has a great head on her shoulders and has run her brothers estate for years. She was hurt in the past by a man and had decided that she would never again trust a man. When she meets Charlie the first thing she thinks, and says out loud is that he's indolent. When she realized that he's heard her she's mortified and this tinges her view of him for days after. Now I really didn't care for Tessa at first because of this because of standoffishness. It seemed rude and pretty uncalled for just because she was completely embarrassed but luckily she snapped out of it eventually.

Charlie was charming and Tessa couldn't resist him for long. Though Charlie was, at first, trying to get info from Tessa he soon realized that he just wanted to be with her. When Tessa comes to him he's thrilled and accepts her with open arms. Though Tessa isn't sure that she wants more Charlie knows that Tessa is the one for him, forever. I loved that Charlie was so sure about his feelings for Tessa. He knew he had to take it slow because Tessa was a bit skiddish but when he let loose he was a force to be reckoned with and I loved it.

Now as I said we do get to finally find out who the blackmailer is and exactly what their motive is and that was quite satisfactory. I liked how it all wrapped up in the end and brought a great finish to the series. So far the books that I have read by Linden have been great and she hasn't disappointed me at all. Linden has definitely become an auto-buy for me.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Caroline Linden

Review: The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James

Theodora Saxby is the last woman anyone expects the gorgeous James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, to marry. But after a romantic proposal before the prince himself, even practical Theo finds herself convinced of her soon-to-be duke's passion.

Still, the tabloids give the marriage six months.

Theo would have given it a lifetime…until she discovers that James desired not her heart, and certainly not her countenance, but her dowry. Society was shocked by their wedding; it's scandalized by their separation.

Now James faces the battle of his lifetime, convincing Theo that he loved the duckling who blossomed into the swan.

And Theo will quickly find that for a man with the soul of a pirate, All's Fair in Love—or War.

James Ryburn is more than pissed off at his father. His father is telling him that he has to marry Theodora Saxby (James calls her Daisy) because his father has not only practically bankrupt the Duchy but he’s embezzeled some of Daisy’s fortune as well. In order to cover his crimes The Duke is putting his foot down with James. James is just 19 and not ready to get married. He and Daisy were raised together and really consider each other siblings but James can’t find his way out of the predicament that his father has gotten them all in to. James decides that he must marry Daisy and he does love her as she is his best friend, he just never thought of her in a sexual way before.

He decides to force her hand and ends up kissing Daisy behind a screen at a musicale that the Prince is attending. When they are caught they of course have to get married. James is stunned when he finishes kissing Daisy. He has never felt anything like the kiss they shared and starts seeing her in a different way. For Daisy the kiss is one of enlightenment and after the pair is married they share a passionate time together…in the two days they are together.

All good things must come to an end and Daisy and James’s marriage is one of them. Daisy finds out the truth about the reason that James proposed and though James loves her now she can’t see that because her anger. She orders the Duke out of the house (and he has to go or else she’ll reveal him for the criminal he is) and tells James that their marriage is no more. Not only that but she tells him to leave the country and good riddance to him. She does allow him to have the ship that belongs to the Duchy and James takes off on that ship the next day.

James is heartbroken but doesn’t want to make Daisy more miserable by going back to her. He learns to live life on the sea and eventually teams up with his cousin to become a dread pirate. When he learns of his father’s death, and starts to think about all he’s missed by being gone he decides that James Ryburn no longer exists and he will stay on the sea forever. Daisy can just declare him dead and the Duchy can pass on to James’s next of kin. Seven long years later, and James shows back up again but Daisy isn’t any closer to accepting him. She has her own little organized world and James plays no part in it. She especially can’t give him the passion she once did as she’s just not that person any longer. Can James break through the crusty outer shell that Daisy has grown in order to get back the woman he loves?

Oh, where to start???? I’ll begin with James. Now, some people would think that James was a complete bastard. Did I? No. Yeah, he had moments of complete and utter stupidity but at the beginning of the book he’s just trying to do what’s right. Could he have done things differently, come out with the truth of the situation to Daisy and trust her to help? Absolutely. But then we wouldn’t have had the story we had, right? lol I think that James could have stood up for himself a bit better when Daisy was verbally thrashing him for the part he played in it all and that would have gone a long way to smoothing things out when he returned.

He did have a little pity party for himself while he was out sailing the high seas but that was completely understandable. He loved Daisy as so much more than a friend and didn’t want to see her unhappy. He truly felt that she would not be happy to see him so he stayed away. Was it the right decision – uh, no. But it was what it was. When he returned to England and to Daisy he wanted nothing more than to be with his wife and I loved that he knew to tread lightly even though he wanted to rush in and force the issue. What I loved most about James was that he loved Daisy so much inside and out. He thought her beautiful and as she was described as so very plain I adored the fact that he didn’t see her plainness.

Now there’s Daisy. From what I read she was not an attractive woman. In fact the newssheets went so far, after James and Daisy were married, as to call her the Ugly Duchess. How sad for her. It completely broke my heart that people could be so cruel but I know that it happened all the time back then. The ton took pleasure in laughing at others. I understood why Daisy reacted the way she did to James when she discovered the truth but after that I thought she went a bit to the extreme. She took over the running of the Duchy, both before and after James’s father died, and she did an extraordinary job with it. She pretty much redesigned her life and made a name for herself in England as well as Paris. The thing she didn’t do was remain soft. She hardened her heart in such a way that when James returned she couldn’t even think about letting him into her life. She was organized to the extreme, almost OCD about things and though she did it for order and control it ended up controlling her.

While this story didn’t work for me as well as some other Eloisa James books have I still enjoyed it. I didn’t care for the fact that James and Daisy spent about 50% (at least I think that’s what it was) of the book apart as it’s hard to have a good romance when the hero and heroine aren’t together (unless they’re writing letters, of course), but it was still entertaining.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

Eloisa James

Review: A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare

After years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove--but she never stopped yearning for love. The very last place she'd look for it is in the arms of Corporal Thorne. The militia commander is as stone cold as he is brutally handsome. But when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorne steps forward as her fiance. He claims to have only Kate's safety in mind. So why is there smoldering passion in his kiss?

Long ago, Samuel Thorne devoted his life to guarding Kate’s happiness. He wants what's best for her, and he knows it's not marriage to a man like him. To outlast their temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her tempting body and lock her warm smiles out of his withered heart. It's the toughest battle of this hardened warrior's life...and the first he seems destined to lose.

Kate is visiting another town for several reasons when she runs in to Corporal Thorne from Spindle Cove. He saves her from a mean man in the street and eventually offers her a ride home on his horse as she's missed the last coach out of town. During the ride Kate gets to know Thorne a little better and the man who has been the bane of her existence for the past year suddenly become quite attractive. Not only that but they share a very hot kiss on their trip which has Kate reeling.

Upon their return Kate is told she has visitors. Thorne insists on being with her to protect her from whoever these people are. The people are the Gramercy family. They are they to tell Kate that they believe that she is a member of their family and if it's proven that she is it means that she's the daughter of a Marquess. Wow. This is quite shocking for Kate as she grew up in an orphanage and has had no idea who her parents were and how she came to be at the orphanage. Thorne doesn't like this odd Gramercy family from the get-go. When they ask who he is he states that he's her fiance and shocks not only the visitors but Kate as well. After conversing Kate and Thorne agree to an engagement but they won't marry as Thorne is planning on leaving for America in a few weeks' time.

The Gramercy family decides to stay in Spindle Cove to get to know Kate and to gather proof that she is indeed their relative. While getting to know the Gramercy family better she also gets to know Thorne better and in a strange turn of events finds that he has information about her past and where she came from. Kate, who had been falling in love with Thorne is torn between her desire to be part of a family - something she'd never had - and her desire to be with Thorne. She wants to go to America with Thorne but how can she do that and get to know her new family at the same time. On top of that, the head of the family isn't too thrilled with Thorne and wants Kate to marry him. Oh decision, decisions!

Oh how I love Spindle Cove! For such a small serene place there is never a dull freaking moment! I've come to adore this little town that Tessa Dare has created.

In this story we have Thorne. He is a man who has had one hard life. Though he did a wonderful deed when he was a young boy, that one deed changed his life forever, and not in a good way. Because of his past, and some of it not so distant, he is withdrawn and quiet. He has had a thing for Kate since he first saw her but stayed away so that he wouldn't make a move. He felt that since he was such a bad person Kate deserved someone much better than him. Reading about men like this always breaks my heart because of course he's made himself better and is not really a bad person at all. He has a good heart and though he may have made some bad mistakes in the past and may not know all the proper ways to go about things he is kind and thoughtful to the core. I just loved this strong, silent man! (Although he did talk quite a bit with Kate which was great.)

Kate was the perfect person for Thorne. She saw beneath the quiet exterior to the soft inner part of Thorne and I loved her insight. Kate was also someone who thought herself not worthy. Not that she wasn't a good soul but she has a port wine stain on one of her temples and because of this people have looked down on her for years. I though it was wonderful that Thorne thought that Kate was beautiful despite what she felt was her complete imperfection.

The romance in this book was excellent. It had its quiet moments, it's exciting moments, it's sexy and hot moments and all wrapped together it was just a wonderful story. I can't wait to see what happens next in this supposedly sleepy little town.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Tessa Dare

What I Read Last Week

Well let's see - the girls started school on Thursday and they are both thrilled.  The youngest got a male teacher and so far she really likes him (for the whole 2 days she was in class).  My oldest loves her schedule and her teachers - hopefully it will stay that way. :)

I'm home today with a thick head, sore throat, ear ache and temperature.  Boohoo. lol  Oh well, whatcha gonna do, right?

Ok, on to what I read last week.  Sorry, I think these descriptions will be abbreviated because of my head so if something doesn't make sense just laugh and carry on. :)

First up for the week was Highland Bride by Hannah Howell.  This is a book that Holly sent to me and I'm so damned glad she did.  We talked about it over coffee the morning we were leaving RWA and I'd almost forgotten about it when it showed up.  Such a great medieval romance!  You can read more about the book and my review here. 4.5 out of 5

Next was Savage: Daughters of the Jaguar book 1 by Willow Rose.  This was the story of a boy from Denmark who ends up in Florida to study for a year.  His next door neighbors are odd but he ends up falling in love.  Too bad they're not like other people.  You can read my full review here. 3 out of 5

Next up was A Perfect Stranger by Jaden Skye.  This one I read for Book Binge (the review will post this afternoon) and it was one that didn't work for me in so many different ways.  The story is about 1 woman in particular but the series is about Tom's River (I think it's supposed to be in Wisconsin?) and it's a huge soap opera.  We get to know the citizens of Tom's River and frankly I wouldn't want to know any of them except the character Hunter and he was a drifter that wasn't from there.  The story was mostly about a woman whose husband disappears without a trace and then the character stories fan out from the people in relation to the woman.  A very character driven story.  If you like soap operas then this might work better from you than it did for me. 1 out of 5

Of Eternal Life by Micah Persell was another one I read for Book Binge.  This story is about a woman who just graduated from med school and is recruited to supposedly help refurbish an old military hospital to help the locals.  Instead they have no patients and are just in the lab constantly.  She comes across a naked guy in the supply closet that she feels strangely comfortable with and he ends up kidnapping her and they head across country running from the bad guys.  This was an interesting story as it was mostly a contemporary read but definitely had a bit of the paranormal involved when it came to finding the Garden of Eden and eating from  a tree.  Pretty entertaining in the end. 3.25 out of 5  You can read my full review here.

Next up was The Way to a Duke's Heart by Caroline Linden.  This is the last book in The Truth About the Duke series and we actually get to know the heir apparent, Charlie, quite well.  He's investigating more to try to find the person who was blackmailing his father and the clues lead to a man who is currently searching for investors in his canal project.  Charlie thinks that some woman, including our heroine, Tessa, might be in on the scheme and he tries to ingratiate himself into their lives and follows them to the boondocks.  What he finds is that his heart is on the line - oh and he finds out stuff about the blackmailer too. :)  Good story - I'll review this one next week. 4 out of 5

Hard Tail by JL Merrow is the story of Tim who is basically laid off and then his wife leaves him.  Right after that he finds out his brother was in an accident and Tim ends up taking over his brother's bike shop til he's back on his feet.  Tim ends up having feelings for the bike repairman, Matt, but Matt's in a relationship with someone.  This is a really great story of two men trying to find their way to each other and it was wonderful.  It was fun, emotional and humorous and had a serious issue involved as well.  I've only read 3 books by Merrow so far but I definitely need to read more.  Her books are always fabulous and I haven't read one I didn't like so far. 4.5 out of 5

Mummy Dearest by Josh Lanyon is the first book in the XOXO Files series.  We meet Drew who is in Wyoming to view a mummy in order to get published.  He runs into trouble with both his live-in boyfriend (as the boyfriend didn't want him to leave...for his own selfish reasons) and with a film crew who is at the museum to film.  Drew and the film crew end up working together and then Drew and the host of the show, Fraser, have a little alone time together.  When they are watched, chased and run over by a mummy they think that maybe there's more going on in the museum than they originally thought.  This was a cute story  that had me laughing out loud at times.  I felt horrible for the way that Drew was treated by his boyfriend and wanted nothing more than for Drew to get together with Fraser...and I got my wish.  I'm looking forward to reading more in this series. 4 out of 5

Last for the week was The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James.  This is the story of childhood friends - in fact they grew up in the same house and they end up marrying.  They marry, however, because of the boy's criminal father and though James does love Daisy and vice versa she's not happy when she finds out the facts behind the marriage.  This was a good book but there was a lot of it that didn't work for me.  I'll post my review either later this week or next.  3.25 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Now or Never by Michele Bardsley
Of Eternal Life by Micah Persell

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

Here's Thousand Foot Krutch with Be Somebody. Such a great song. Have a great Saturday!

Review: Highland Bride by Hannah Howell

Though she has yet to be courted by any man, spirited Gillyanne Murray decides the time has come to visit the dower lands gifted to her by her father’s kinsmen. She arrives to find the small keep surrounded by three lairds, each one vying for her hand…and property. Though resolved to refuse them all, the threat of battle on her threshold forces her to boldly choose a suitor: Sir Connor MacEnroy, a handsome, daring knight of few words. As his wife, Gillyanne is stunned by his terse, cold distance—and her own yearning to feel passion in his arms. Now, bringing her healing touch to a land and a keep ravaged by treachery and secret enemies, she dares to reach out for the one thing she fears she may forever be denied…her husband’s closely guarded heart.

Gillyanne Murray is determined to keep the dower lands that have been given to her by a kinsman. When approached by three handsome lairds telling her that she will marry one of them it kind of gets her back up. She decides that she will battle the three lairds, as she know they’ll be back with their armies, but she basically wants no bloodshed. She comes up with wonderful and clever ways to thwart the lairds in their attempts to occupy her castle and tries to buy time so that her father can arrive and fix everything – she also has fun doing it. Unfortunately she finally realizes that the lairds will never give up and that her father won’t be there in time so she capitulates and decides to marry one of the lairds – the tall good looking one. (She may be coerced into marrying but she’s not stupid!)

Gillyanne is rushed off directly to the church and no time is wasted to put her on a horse and head for Connor MacEnroy’s keep. Gillyanne isn’t thrilled with the situation but tries to make the best of it. When Connor stops on the way to his lands to tup her in a crofters cottage (after he unceremoniously kicks out the inhabitants) Gillyanne is not happy. Then they arrive at the keep and Connor heads inside to tell of how he won the “prize and how studly he is, etc. Unfortunately he leaves his very short wife on the horse with no way to get down. When she finally gets help she head into the hall to see her husband being mauled by one of the local whores and Connor’s current leman. Gillyanne has reached her boiling point and tells her husband in no uncertain terms that if he can have a mistress then she can’t possibly be made to stay faithful either. She grabs Connor’s brother and heads off to bed him but is stopped by her husband. He manhandles her and takes her up to their chambers where they have a frank discussion. She says that she believes that the vows of marriage are sacred and those vows should not be broken. Connor has been told by his uncle that the baser desires of a man are to rough for a wife and therefore they should be gentle with the wife and indulge their rougher desires on their lemans. Well Gillyanne is having none of that and tells Connor that SHE is the one he needs to desire and that she can take what he’s dishing out. Connor is thrilled when he finds out that she’s absolutely correct and comes to desire his “wee wife” as he puts it, more and more.

Now Connor and his siblings, in fact his whole clan, have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. His clan and the other two clans (the ones that were fighting Gillyanne) has been at war and massive amounts of clan members had died during that time, including the parents of all the current lairds. Connor became laird when he was just 15 and despite an incredibly rough time they managed to rebuild their lives and their castle. This made Connor a hard man. He felt he needed to be hard in order to lead his clan through the incredibly hard times. That’s all well and good but because of that he unfortunately doesn’t know how to be soft toward Gillyanne. She does almost everything that she can think of to get him to like her and care for her and while he responds to her sexually in a big way he doesn’t carry any of that with him during the day and she feels almost ignored.

Gillyanne being who she is makes the best of things despite those in the castle that want her gone and make several attempts to get rid of her. But she also knows in the back of her head that although she’s married to Connor the marriage can be dissolved because of coercion. Can she get Connor to care for her outside the bedroom as well?

This is my first full novel by Hannah Howell (I'd only read a vampire novella in an anthology before this) and Holly recommended it to me. Not only recommended it but sent the book to me…how could I not read it? I’m so glad I did because I just loved it. I haven’t read a fabulous Scottish medieval romance that I liked this much in years.

The main attraction in the book, for me, was Gillyanne. She was wonderful. I love a heroine who has a temper and isn’t afraid to use it. Now saying that, there were times when Gillyanne kept her mouth shut about certain things and frankly this made me like her all the more. A woman who knows when to keep her mouth shut is a good thing, imho. She was clever and kind and even though Connor didn’t pay any attention to her when they weren’t in the bedroom she was fiercely loyal and wouldn’t let anyone say anything bad about him.

Connor and Gillyanne were great together. I loved their scenes when Connor got some insight into how things should be when he had been taught otherwise. He wasn’t opposed to learning but there were some things he wasn’t willing to do – like be soft for his wife.

The story has a small suspense story running through it and that was interesting as well. I thought it was a little too easy for Gillyanne to save the day but I can’t say I disliked that part altogether that much either.

Overall I loved the book and yes, Holly is sending me the rest of the series so I can read those as well. I think I have a lot of Howell and her lovely Scots in my future.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Hannah Howell

Review: Savage by Willow Rose

The year is 1983. Christian is 22 years old when he leaves his home in Denmark to spend a year in Florida with a very wealthy family and go to med-school. A joyful night out with friends is shattered by an encounter with a savage predator that changes his life forever. Soon he faces challenges he had never expected. A supernatural gift he has no idea how to embrace. A haunting family in the house next door. A spirit-filled girl who seems to carry all the answers. An ancient secret hidden in the swamps of Florida. One life never the same. One love that becomes an obsession. Two destinies that will be forever entangled.

Christian is incredibly smart and is excited about being in Florida for a year to attend medical school. He doesn’t really want to be a doctor but that’s what his father told him he would be and therefore that’s what he’s doing. Not that he heeds everything his father says but it was just easier not to argue.

On the first night that Christian is in St. Augustine he hangs out with a group of people, including the daughter of the family he’s staying with, and ends up being viciously attacked by alligators. He’s saved and dragged to shore by a jaguar. During his recovery he hears voices and sees visions and thinks he’s going crazy. He’s looking at life in a whole new way and appreciating it that much more because he experienced his death and then rebirth. He’s also obsessed with jaguars and everything about them. It starts to take over his life and because of his new psychic strangeness his host family is getting more worried about him by the day.

He sees the family that lives next door and is pulled toward it. He’s been warned that they are druggies and that the father was part of a drug cartel before he died and that he should stay away from them. What he finds is several generations of women who are more than they seem from the outside. They are part of a Indian nation that is supposedly extinct but is not and they have differing psychic powers as well. Christian falls in love with a daughter, Aiyana, as she’s so beautiful and helps him with his new psychic powers - but fate has a different outcome of their relationship than either of them expect.

This was a very different type of read for me and one I wasn’t really expecting to like all that much. While I thought it was good it wasn’t the great paranormal read I was expecting.

Issues I had with the book:

The story starts off with Christian telling us the story in first person POV and then skips around a bit in the first chapter (and a few other times during the book) to being told to us by Christian from the future like he’s thinking back on his life. It just got to be confusing and I kept having to go back and figure it out. After a while I got used to the small interjections from the “older” Christian but it was still odd.

Because the author is from Denmark originally herself I think she wrote how she speaks. Because of this there were few to no contractions in the book and at first it made it very hard to follow. I guess I expected that from Christian as he was speaking a different language than his mother tongue but with the kids from Florida I just couldn’t see them as too realistic as they didn’t talk like they were in their early twenties.

I think my biggest issue with the book was that the writing would go off on explanations of a subject that Christian was thinking about and it was more information that you ever wanted to know. It really pulled me out of the story and I didn’t like that at all. I guess it was supposed to show us that Christian was thinking in-depth about things but to me all it did was add page count. At the beginning of the book it was an overabundance of info about the 80’s. I think the author was trying to set the stage for the story but other than that first part nothing else in the book screamed 1983 to me – it could have been 2012. Another time was when Christian was soaking up all he could about jaguars as one had saved his life. I understand why he was doing it and getting tidbits of info about the jaguar would have been fine but we got pages and pages of info that frankly seemed a bit superfluous. There was another bit about the Timucua Indians but I won’t get into that – just know it was long and contained an inordinate amount of information.

While Christian had been a complete bastard when it came to women when he first came to America (for reasons having to do with the death of his mother) he quickly changed he ways after he met the neighbor Aiyana. He knew almost immediately that she was the one for him and he loved her family to pieces. I thought it was great to see the change in him. He did however revert back to his shallow self at another time but it was due to a broken heart. He ends up trying to console himself for losing Aiyana by sleeping with his host family’s daughter, Heather. She’s been hot for him from day one but he basically uses her for sex. Their first time together had me raising my eyebrows and rolling my eyes a bit and not liking Christian all that much after that.

Aiyana and her family were strange and wonderful. They loved life, they saw people for who they truly were and they had an abundance of love to give. I know it sounds almost fantasy-like but it was great to think that there was a family out there like that and I enjoyed every part that I read about their family. Aiyana was definitely in love with Christian but knew her duty to her people and had to fulfill her part in the future. I didn’t care for that but I admired her strength in seeing that through.

Now the story itself IS told by an older Christian and it doesn’t really tell us everything. The lives of Christian, Aiyana, her family and what happens to them all is pseudo-summarized near the end of the book so we’re definitely left hanging when the author gives us this:

More than ten years would pass before Aiyana's prophecy would come true and our paths crossed again.

The book leaves things very open to the next book in the Daughters of the Jaguar series. While I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t get more from the romance between Aiyana and Christian I knew that there was more to this story – I just wanted it THEN and was annoyed & frustrated that the book was so long (about 440 pages) and yet I didn’t get the entire story. It’s not a fast read at all and I have to admit I did skim at times (mostly when Christian went off on his information finding quests) which was unfortunate. Although part of me wants to know what happens I don’t think I’ll have the patience to read the next two books. Sad but true.

Despite the many issues I had with the book I did like it to a point. The book is very character driven but does have a few action scenes that get the old heart pumping. If that’s the kind of book you like then you might like this one.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Willow Rose

TBR Challenge Review: Real Men Do It Better Anthology by Carrie Alexander, Susan Donovan, Lora Leigh & Lori Wilde

This month in the TBR Challenge we were instructed (ok, it was only suggested) to read an erotic novel. I found that I really don't have many of those hanging around. Sure there are some on my flash drive with all my ebooks but quite frankly I was too damned lazy to go searching. Lol I saw this book on my shelf and realized that when I originally got it in 2008 I only read Lora Leigh's novella. I decided that since it said, right on the cover, “four steamy novellas” that it would qualify for this challenge. So here are my thoughts about whether real men really do make it better.

In Carrie Alexander's HIS BODY ELECTRIC, an aloof stranger arrives at Karen Jaffe's farmhouse seeking shelter at the height of a violent lightning storm. Strange events follow--the power goes out, every clock stops, sparks fly from the visitor's fingertips. Alone in the dark with him, Karen uses her skills as a phone sex operator to seduce the mystery man, uncovering the secrets and erotic pleasures of HIS BODY ELECTRIC.

Karen is on her Iowa farm when the skies open up and the rain pours down. Thunder and lightning accompany the storm and Karen rushes to get the animals in the barn. On the way back she runs into a stranger who is seeking shelter from the storm. He's a bit odd but oh so cute and since she's been by herself for so long she's kind of got sex on the brain. Keeping her hands off of Gabe is pretty difficult and eventually they give in to their attraction in an electrifying way.

This was a pretty darned cute novella. I really liked how the story was laid out and the way the author had the couple getting to know each other a bit before falling into bed together. Ok, it wasn't like they knew each other for long, really only hours before they made their move, but it worked for this erotic novella. There was a little bit of the unusual in this one but it worked.

In Susan Donovan's BED AND BREAKFAST, a stressed-out corporate dynamo with designer boots and a bad attitude is sent to the New Mexico mountains to "get centered" or not come back to Los Angeles. She arrives at the rustic Windwalker Lodge north of Santa Fe, only to find the place in the middle of a renovation and the hunky owner in a pair of lounge pants with no shirt and no idea she was coming. She plans to leave on the first available shuttle the next morning, but one of the area's notorious rains washes out the bridge, and she's stuck. Though resistant at first, she eventually lets the beautiful setting and the extraordinary man give her a new perspective on life, love, and especially sex.

Kate is having a bad life. Seriously, it has been one hit after another and she needs to de-stress. Her boss sends her to a retreat in new Mexico to relax and “find herself.” She's nothing but bitchy when she gets dropped off at 1 am and when she's not immediately let in and continues that way for a couple of days. She soon finds out that her assistant got the dates mixed up and she's a month late for her planned pilgrimage. Oops. Jorey lets her stay the night (on his bed since all the guest rooms are being remodeled and are demolished) but when a rain storm keeps Kate at the lodge she finds that there's more to finding herself then she thought. She's also found a man she could love but how will that work when she lives in LA?

This was another cute novella that had a bitchy heroine to start. She soon got to relax and get a bit centered but it takes her a bit to get to that point. When it did happen it was almost too extreme but I could see how it might happen in reality. Jorey, our hero, is someone who was living the same kind of fast-paced life as Kate was when reality hit him in the face with a medical issue a few years back. Now he runs the lodge and is more than happy with his life. I think what I liked about Jorey was that even though he was more spiritual/fruit and nut (if that makes any sense) than I normally like in my heroes he accepted Kate for who she was. Of course he wanted her at peace, but he didn't try to push his ways on her too much. He was a caring and sensitive man while still being quite manly. You gotta love that in a hero.

In Lora Leigh's FOR MAGGIE'S SAKE, Maggie Chavez from Leigh's sexy Navy SEALs series is in protective custody with a member of her former lover's SEALs team. Joe, her ex-lover, thinks Maggie is hiding information from him about a powerful drug lord and the deaths of some SEALs. He intends to seduce her and get the information before she can sell it back to the drug cartel. But when a member of the notorious crime family captures Maggie and holds her hostage at gunpoint, Joe realizes how wrong he is, and only he can save her life.

Joe and Maggie were lovers at one point. Because of a misunderstanding, and some stupidity on Joe's part, they parted ways and Maggie ended up married to Joe's best friend Grant. Now this is a novella that is part of the Tempting SEALS series and apparently Grant was a bad guy – now he's dead. He wrote journals and in those journals he completely implicated Maggie as being part of his criminal activities. Now she's under suspicion from the police and the bad guys are after her thinking she knows too much. Joe ends up taking her to a safe house and while there the pair work out their differences.

I read this novella in 2008 and frankly I could remember about 3 pages of it near the end. Lol I kept thinking, I read this? Really? When I got to those 3 pages a switch flipped in my head my memories came back. :)

While they're at the safe house they finally start talking about their past. They argue and argue and they both see that they've made mistakes. I liked how we saw Joe coming off his high horse a bit as he thought he'd done nothing wrong and that their breakup had pretty much all been Maggie's doing. Of course they end up sleeping together and working things out but they have to go through some hard times, including facing death, to come to their HEA. The story was more intense than I was expecting after reading the first two books in the anthology but it was good. You gotta appreciate Leigh's alpha males but this one wasn't such an ass and I liked that. Maggie was a bit whimpier than I expected a man like Joe to be in love with but she had been through hell with her husband so I cut her a little slack. lol

In Lori Wilde's SIREN'S CALL, Annie Grave is back in her hometown, St. Augustine, looking after her grandfather's dive shop as he lies bedridden with a broken hip. Though she is a Harvard MBA with a high-powered finance job in Manhattan and a boyfriend on the brink of proposing marriage, she's never forgotten her first love, sun-bronzed dive instructor Duncan Stewart--or the day years earlier when she lost her virginity to him and he told her it was just a fling. But what she doesn't know is that Duncan has regretted that decision every day since. Afraid of not being able to hold onto a smart, sexy, beautiful woman like Annie, he pushed her away and ran away from St. Augustine. But now she's back, and so is he, and he's cooked up a plan to win her back. After all, what girl could resist the lure of buried treasure, and a hot, handsome Scotsman to guide her on the hunt?

Duncan and Annie met when he was 16 and she was 13. Even though Duncan liked Annie immediately he didn't do anything about it. They became friends and over the years Duncan planned to make himself a better man and then make his move on Annie. When they eventually sleep together Duncan realizes that he's holding her back and hurts her in order to make her live the life that she should, instead of giving up college to stay with him.

Annie has been hurting for 5 years after Duncan's betrayal of her feelings. Now he's back and says that he has a treasure map to a legendary idol that her parents died searching for. Annie tells herself that she wants nothing to do with the man and she's practically engaged to a nice man back in New York, but she can't seem to keep herself away. For Duncan this is a plan to finally get Annie where he wants her – in his bed and in his life – permanently. If he has to use an idol that is supposedly an aphrodisiac to get her, he'll do it.

This was a lovers united story but since Duncan had hurt Annie so much she wasn't exactly thrilled with his return to town. Now secretly she's in love with him but is unwilling to face being hurt again. Duncan didn't exactly go about getting Annie back in the most honest way – ok, it wasn't honest at all, but he was so desperate that he'd try just about anything to get her back in his life. It was a cute story and definitely hot – the hottest in the anthology, imho.

Actually the Alexander, the Leigh and the Wilde were all pretty steamy in different ways. The Donovan had sex involved but it wasn't anywhere near as erotic as the others. Overall I liked all the stories in their own way. They each brought a different view of erotic romance to the table and I found them all to be good stories.

Overall Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Carrie Alexander
Susan Donovan
Lora Leigh
Lori Wilde

What I Read Last Week

It was a much quieter week this week – thank heavens! lol I did have to register my oldest for High School which was a bit painful for me – emotionally, not physically – but I made it through. Both girls start school on Thursday and they’re both excited.

Not much else happened – of which I was completely thrilled with so I’ll get on to what I read this past week:

My first read was for Book Binge and it was a historical called When You Wish Upon A Duke by Isabella Bradford. The story was about an Earl’s daughter who had been living in the quiet countryside with her sisters and mother after the death of her father years earlier. The oldest daughter is shocked when a man of business shows up and lets her know that she’s been engaged for most of her life and to a Duke no less. While Charlotte isn’t sure what she should expect she’s thrilled when she meets the duke and he is all that is kind and handsome. The duke is thrilled with Charlotte as well but he has some past issues that keep the pair from moving to a deeper relationship. I really liked this book a lot. I liked the characters and the fact that they weren’t hateful to each other but attracted and kind to one another. The duke issues weren’t as bad as I thought they would be, when revealed, but I could see why he would have them. Overall it was a good story. 4.25 out of 5

Next up was One Real Thing by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox. In this story we have two friends – one taking care of the other when he’s hit rock bottom and coming to realize that he loves his friend in more ways than one. The other friend who is thrilled to be helped but tormented by the feelings he’s always had for his good friend. They help each other in many different ways throughout the book and it’s very good. I really liked both the men in this story and liked the story itself. I did think that the story ran on a bit long after the I Love You’s were said – just pages of the reaffirmation of their love, really, and it got a bit old. I also didn’t really care for the odd and semi-sudden appearance of submission by one of the men. It was touched upon earlier in the book but not enough for me to think that level of submission would appear. Maybe it was just me. *shrugs* Still a really good story and definitely worth reading. 4 out of 5

The Reluctant Amazon by Sandy James was next. This is the first book in a new series by Sandy and it was darned good. Rebecca is a Kindergarten teacher and was planning on getting married until her fiancé left her at the altar and she then finds out she’s an Amazon. What? lol It’s much more in depth than that and I’ll go into it more when I post my review later in the month. 4.25 out of 5

A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare was next and it was Oh. So. Good. I love her Spindle Cove series and she didn’t disappoint with this book. The story revolves around the local music teacher, Kate Taylor, and Corporal Thorne of the local militia. Kate’s an orphan but then is possibly a Marquess’s daughter. She hates Thorne, but then she loves him. Oh it was so good. I’ll post my review next week of this wonderful book. 5 out of 5

Pyromancer by Amanda Young was my Tracy’s TBR Challenge read for the week. This is the story of Christian who has some weird powers having to do with fire. He can sometimes control it but he can supposedly hurt someone when he gets too emotional . He’s not been with a man for a long time and decides to call and escort service. He gets hooked up with Tanner and after that one night can’t stop thinking about Tanner. He ends up helping Tanner after he gets beaten up and the two end up in bed together. They have communication issues about what their relationship is and it causes great angst. I liked this book and the whole premise behind it all. The problems I had with the story were that A) We’re told that Christian can hurt someone with his powers when he gets too worked up but we never actually see that. He gets plenty worked up with Tanner during sex but the powers never appear to be a problem. B) We have to wait until the end of the book to find out that Christian has no clue why he has the powers – he just does. It would have been lovely to have known that ahead of time. I didn’t feel that that info should have been held back. Besides those niggles I really liked the story and read it quite quickly. 3.5 out of 5

Last for the week was the Real Men Do It Better anthology by Carrie Alexander, Susan Donovan, Lora Leigh and Lori Wilde. I read this one for my monthly TBR Challenge and will post my review on Wednesday.

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Wild Texas Rose by Jodi Thomas

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

I don't think I've had the Foo Fighters on here before, if I remember correctly.  They have a sound that I really like.  Here's one of my favorites by them - Learn to Fly (and it's fun to play on Rock Band. lol).  Enjoy!

Guest Author + a Giveaway: Annie Nicholas - Different Kinds of Nerds

Please welcome Annie Nicholas to the blog.  Annie is the author of the Vanguards series and is here today talking about different kinds of nerds.

1. A foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious: "one of those nerds who never asked a girl to dance".
2. An intelligent, single-minded expert in a particular technical discipline or profession.

Just like I’ve said to my children, there is nothing wrong with being a nerd. It just means you’re not like everyone else.

Annie’s Fun Classification of Nerds and Geeks and Dweebs
(please remember these are my definitions lol)

Hopeless Romantic: Someone in love with love. The hero in The Alpha is modeled after this idea. He secretly hoards romance novels under his bed and has kept his virginity for his one true love. Gotta love him.

Computer Geek: Someone more into electronics and can communicate better in html than with words. The Beta’s hero is totally in this category. He’s not crazy about socializing, which is odd for a wolf shifter, yet uses his computer skills to aid the pack.

Quiet and Shy: Socially inept, usually the person in the corner at parties. The heroine of The Omegas falls in this class. Sugar, who appears in all the books, is a librarian who is taken by storm by a Nosferatu warrior vampire.

Incurable Child: Goofy, always trying to make everyone laugh even at their own expense. Sees the world as their playground. Omegas in Love has a hero whose greatest passion is to create Rube Goldberg machines. (An apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a very simple task.) He’s fast with a joke, even if they’re horrid, and a godsend for an abused shifter female.

Emotionally Stunted: (I think we’ve all met one of these in our lives) Immature emotionally, searching for a quick, shallow connection with someone on a short term basis because they can’t deal with more. Yep, I class this in the NERD file because dealing with your emotions is a social skill. LOL Sigma is all about this type.

I like my nerds, geeks, and dweebs. I am one and place myself in the quiet/shy category. What other types do you think there are?

Oh, and remember, nerds rule the world…

Annie is very kindly giving away 1 copy of her new release Sigma (The Vanguards book 5) to one lucky winner.  Leave a comment on this post no later than August 15th at 7:00pm to enter.

To defend and protect, at any cost.

Sam is Sigma of his pack, defender of the innocent and frail. Too bad the one time it mattered most, though the urge to guard the weak runs strong in his shifter blood, he failed to protect his best friend from an attack. Just when his self-confidence can't go any lower, he becomes entangled in a vampire skirmish and is left with an injured female in his arms.

Vampire accountant for Pal Robi, Inc., Clementine can't believe her master would ask her to commit corporate espionage. She’s shot when discovered, but a shifter comes to her rescue. It's as if he's made of her fantasies, and in the few hours with him she lives more than the decades she's spent among her clan.

Hiding with him on the streets of Chicago, in the midst of fighting together to stay alive, can a petite vampire break through her hero’s jaded heart?

WARNING: Hot dominating sex, an action packed evening, and a first date gone all to hell.

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His inner beast grumbled, sulking in the corners of his mind. Ever since Sugar had been attacked on his watch, when Katrina’s old werewolf pack from China had broken into their home, his animal nature didn’t seem interested in the outside world. Even when he shifted to his beast form, it remained distant, not sharing in the hunt, or even sex.

His love for the human female had faded over the years and transformed into something more brotherly, but the rejection still ached. Every woman he’d been involved with took off. Some base instinct kept him from caring about anyone new and he was tired of it.

Shit, even his beast couldn’t stand hanging around him anymore.

All his roommates had shacked up, but he still slept in an empty bed, the one-night-stand wonder. Fuckable, but not worth loving. Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. He tried to believe…

The rehabilitation center night security guard let him park his car in front of the entrance, since Sugar was being discharged. Six weeks in physical rehabilitation, yet she still couldn’t move her left side. The scans showed she’d suffered a stroke after the attack, something that could happen to trauma patients, even young ones.

Daedalus, her vampire lover, was supposed to be picking Sugar up. That’s why they’d arranged a late night discharge, but the vampire had vanished, leaving a note for Sam to take care of Sugar. The asshole didn’t need to write an or else on his message. It was implied. Sam rubbed his temples, his pulse pounding, the sure sign a migraine would be paying him a visit soon.

He and Daedalus had never been on the best of terms. The vampire had discarded Sam when he first started training the pack to fight, and focused only on Eric as alpha. The vampire had known Sam’s feelings for Sugar, yet had still stolen her away. Now, the bloodsucker could barely look at him. Daedalus blamed him for Sugar’s injuries.

The vampire was right, though. It was Sam’s fault. He was Sugar’s Sigma. Spice, his pack’s female alpha and Sugar’s twin, had charged him with shadowing her sister. Not every pack owned a Sigma, not every pack needed one. They protected the innocent or the weak, like orphaned pups or the elderly, who had no children to care for them. In his case, he took care of their token human.

He strolled through the corridor of the rehab center, his footsteps echoing in the quiet, and he waved at the nurses. One offered him an inviting smile. Something he would have pursued a few weeks ago. However, his interest in humans had waned. Too fragile for a shifter.

Annie Nicholas

Review: Sigma by Annie Nicholas

This review contains spoilers from books 3, 4 & 5

To defend and protect, at any cost.

Sam’s self confidence never recovered when he failed to protect his best friend Sugar from an attack months ago. The urge to guard the weak ran strong in his shifter blood. So much his pack gave him the position of Sigma, defender of the innocent and frail. Too bad he sucked at it. On his way home he becomes entangled in a vampire skirmish and is left with an injured female in his arms.

As a vampire accountant for Pal Robi inc., Clementine never imagined her master would ask her to commit corporate espionage. She’s discovered and shot but a shifter, made of her fantasies, comes to her rescue. In the few hours spent with him she’s lived more than the decades spent among her clan.

Hiding on the streets of Chicago, together they fight to stay alive but can a petite vampire female break through her hero’s jaded heart?

Sam's having a bit of a pity party. He's feeling unloved and unwanted and that's not good. He has been assigned to pick up his friend Sugar from her rehab. While on their way home they are almost run off the road by a woman who they quickly realize is being chased and shot at. Not one to leave well enough alone he follows, ok, on Sugar's insistence, and saves the woman.

The woman, Clementine, actually works for Daedalus and has worked for Pal Robi, Inc. for years as an accountant. She is thankful to Sam, especially when he pulls a bullet from back. When gratitude quickly turns to horniness their both more than happy to accommodate the other. They soon realize that neither one of them wants to be separated from the other but there are many issues and a hell of a lot of vampires that might keep them apart, including Daedalus.

Along with Clementine and Sam and their relationship, Daedalus and Sugar are trying to deal with the fallout from book 4 when Sugar was hurt to the point that she really doesn't want to stay alive.

Originally I was asked to read and review this book and started reading it without having read books 1-4. I could tell almost immediately that this was not a good standalone novella at all. I went back and read books 1-2 and then a couple of weeks later 3-5 in one day. While the first two novellas were good the last three really have a great continuing storyline.

There's the story that started in book 3 of someone trying to hire an assassin to kill Daedalus. Robert, who eventually gets with Esther takes her phone to try and track who the original email came from. We don't get to know who that email came from in book 3 but in book 4 more info comes to light. In book 4 the Vasi pack is attacked and Sugar, Daedalus's woman is hurt and almost dies. She's the only human in the house and isn't willing to become a vampire as she feels it will change who she really is. In book 5 she's come home after her surviving of the attack but now she's got a defeatist attitude and that's not sitting well with Daedalus.

The romance's in the previous books as well as book 5 is really abbreviated. The novellas have the couples quickly coming together and for some reason it really works because the rest of the stories are always interesting enough to carry them. I was lucky that I read the books close together and didn't have to wait any amount of time for the next book to come out cuz that might have made me a bit crazy. Lol

While the stories aren't too terribly deep – although book 5 is definitely more so – they're fun and worth the read.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Annie Nicholas

Guest Author: Kira Brady + a Giveaway!

Thanks for having me Tracy! Since the Desert Island Keepers blog started in 2008, I have been waiting to do my author interview. (Tracy: OMG I had no idea!  I'm so sorry!) I never got my chance, but for old time's sake, here are my answers!

Favorite Reading Position
Any way and every way I can get it. I used to read a book a day, but since I had a baby, I'm lucky to read one a month.

Best love song
Forever and Always by Shenia Twain. It was the first dance at my wedding.

Favorite Heroine
Kate Daniels from Ilona Andrews's Kate Daniels series. She's smart, sarcastic, and kicks ass.

Author everyone loves but you don't
I'd have to refrain from saying, but I'll admit I have trouble getting into the old skool books everyone seems to love. I came too late to the romance genre.

If you could be in one book/series/world which would you pick
Meljean Brook's Iron Seas series. I'd get mechanical arms and become an airship pirate.

How old is your inside voice

If you could be a hero who would you be
Curran. Everybody wants to be a cat.

What heroine is most like you
Molly Somerville from Susan Elizabeth Philips's This Heart of Mine. She's a children's book author and illustrator with an impulsive streak, a lot creative, a bit sensitive.

What heroine would you like to be
Kate Daniels.

Favorite book set on a tropical island
Once an Angel by Teresa Medeiros. It's set in New Zealand. The heroine is too young for the hero and absolutely impulsive, but I can't help loving their romance anyway. It's got that magic.

What hero would you like to be your significant other
Rhys Trahaearn from Meljean Brooks's The Iron Duke.

If you were stuck on a desert island what 3 things would you bring
Sunscreen, paper and a pencil so I could write.

Favorite Drink to Bring to the DIK party?
Glögg. It's a scandinavian drink with mulled wine, bourbon, and spices. The characters drink it in the Deadglass stories. :)

What six books would you take on a desert island?
1. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
2. The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle
3. The annotated Peter Pan by JM Barrie
4. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
5. Sabriel by Garth Nix
6. Watership Down by Richard Adams

AUTHOR BIO:A native Seattleitte, Kira spent her childhood hiking the rainy forests of the Pacific Northwest and drying out by the fire with a good book and a mug of something hot. She graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, where she met her real life Prince Charming and promptly dragged him back to sunless Seattle. She fell in love with historic, haunted cities in graduate school. Now she writes about the twisted cities of her imagination, where wraiths and shape-shifters stalk the night and love redeems even the darkest heart. When not writing, she can be found drinking inordinately large mugs of Assam tea, knitting wool socks, and raising a wee heroine-in-training. Her website is

In the first of a dazzling new romantic trilogy, one woman’s courageous search plunges her into a millennia-old supernatural war—and an irresistible passion…

Nurse Kayla Friday has dedicated her life to science and reason. But for her, Seattle is a place of eerie loss and fragmented, frightening memories. And now the only clue to her sister’s murder reveals a secret battle between two ancient mythologies…and puts Kayla in the sights of lethally-sexy werewolf mercenary Hart. He’ll do whatever it takes to obtain the key to the Gate of the Land of the Dead and free what’s left of his soul. But seducing the determined Kayla is putting them at the mercy of powerful desires neither can control. And as the clock ticks down to hellish catastrophe, the untested bond between Kayla and Hart may lead to the ultimate sacrifice.

Tracy: Thanks so much for visiting today, Kira! Congrats on the new book. And to all you readers out there...I read Hearts of Darkness and it was really good! So good that I just decided, as I'm typing this, that I'm gonna give away an ebook copy of this book to one lucky winner. I can work out details with the winner later. :)  So leave a comment on this post, along with your email address, no later than say...August 13th at midnight (pacific) to enter.