Saturday Song

I'm not normally a fan of Justin Timberlake's songs but this one, for some reason, just really gets to me every time I hear it. Just love it.  Here's Mirrors for your Saturday enjoyment. :)

 

Review: Things Good Girls Don't Do by Codi Gary

Good girls don't steal.
Good girls don't visit sex shops.
Good girls don't have one-night stands.

For Katie Conners, being a good girl just isn't worth it anymore. It used to mean getting the life she always wanted. But that was before she got dumped and her ex got engaged to his rebound. So, after a bad day and one too many mojitos, Katie starts making a list of things a girl like her would never do, not in a million years . . .

As a tattoo artist with a monster motorcycle, Chase Trepasso isn't the kind of guy you bring home to mom and dad.

And when he finds Katie's list in a bar, he's more than happy to help her check off a few items. Especially the ones on the naughtier side . . .

Katie's more than tempted by Chase's offer, as long as they keep things uncomplicated. But as they spend more time together, she may just wind up breaking the most important rule of all: Good girls don't fall in love with bad boys.


It’s been 8 months since Katie’s live-in boyfriend cheated on her and moved out. She’s wanted to tell him how she really thought about him but never did. When she receives an invitation to his wedding (Jimmy and Katie were together for almost 7 years and he never proposed!!) she doesn’t want to be by herself. She heads off to the local bar and while sipping mojitos she decides that she needs to make a list of all the things she’s always been told NOT to do. You see Katie was raised by a wonderful mother but she was always holding Katie to a certain standard – one Katie lived up to. Katie however is a bit sick of “being good” or at least letting the townspeople walk all over her because she’s always too nice to tell them how she really feels.

Katie ends up with 10 things on her list but never plans on accomplishing any of them. That’s until Chase – the hunk who owns the local tattoo parlor – shows up and while just joking around takes the list. Katie’s mortified until Chase shows up at her house and offers to help her accomplish her list. Katie decides to take him up on it and what starts as a joke turns into something deeper for both of them. Unfortunately not everyone loves the “new Katie” and they certainly don’t care for Chase hanging around her as they feel he’s the one being the bad influence on Katie.

This was such a sweet book! I really loved both Katie and Chase and loved them together as well.

Chase was such an unknowingly sweet guy. He said he wasn’t romantic but he was always performing sweet gestures with Katie that he didn’t realize could be labeled romantic. He was kind, smart, humorous and not afraid to stand up to the townspeople. He did have some demons in his head telling him that he wasn’t good enough for Katie but he totally was and I loved it when he eventually realized that himself.

Katie was a great character. She was considered goody-goody but she didn’t want to be. She didn’t want to be rude or nasty but she didn’t want to be someone who could be walked all over either. She had been like that for too long and she wanted to find a happy medium between the two. She had doubts about Chase at first but soon got over them. I loved seeing the two of them with their pillow talk as it just seemed such a normal thing to do.

There was a part of the book having to do with Chase’s mother and I have to tell you that was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever read. Chase realizing how much his mother loved him even though he never knew before was just heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time. The way the whole thing was written was so well done.

I really liked this book a lot and definitely recommend it. It wasn’t too long and can be read in just a sitting. If you need a good book to pick up you should keep this one in mind.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Codi Gary

Book Spotlight: Blue Hydrangeas by Marianne Sciucco (+ a Giveaway!)

A nursing facility is everyone's solution for what to do about Sara, but her husband, Jack, can't bear to live without her. He is committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. He and Sara retired years ago to the house of their dreams, and operated it as a Cape Cod bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas. Jack has made an impossible promise: He and Sara will stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings. However, after nine years of selfless caregiving, complicated by her progressing Alzheimer’s and his own failing heart, he finally admits he can no longer care for her at home. With reluctance, he arranges to admit her to an assisted living facility. But, on the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days, and he is unable to follow through. Instead, he takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Jack closed his eyes in frustration and counted to ten.

Sara had emerged from the bedroom in an outfit made for raking autumn leaves. A knitted cap that had seen better days sat lopsided over her uncombed hair. She wore one of his old sweaters, frayed at the wrists and coming apart under one arm. She clomped through the house in a heavy pair of work boots. Where did she find these ridiculous garments? He thought he’d sent that sweater to the Goodwill long ago.

He glanced at the clock and sighed with exasperation. They had errands to run: the pharmacy, the post office, the market. “Come on, Sara. I can’t take you out dressed like that,” he said.

“What’s wrong with it? This sweater will keep me warm, and these boots are good for walking.”

“It’s summer, that’s what’s wrong with it. Today’s a scorcher. It’s eighty degrees and only half-past nine. Put on a pair of shorts and a blouse and let’s go.” He reached for her cap. “And get rid of this.”

She blocked his arm, grabbed the other, and gave him a nasty pinch. “I can’t go anywhere without my cap,” she cried, darting away.

Jack yelped in pain. Clutching his aching forearm, he chased after her through the dining room, the kitchen, the living room, and back again, before facing off at the single step leading into the family room. Again, he reached for the cap. She lunged forward to deliver another pinch and they lost their balance, falling over the step. Sara landed on her right hip with a terrific bang. Jack landed on top of her.

That’s it, he thought, afraid she’d broken a leg, hip, or worse. He pulled himself upright, groaning as his stiff joints protested. He tried to stand her, a tiny, wiry woman, but she felt like dead weight and resisted his efforts, howling like a wounded dog. He bent over her, and with his strong but gentle hands grasped her right leg and cautiously checked its range of motion.

She clawed at him and screamed, “Let go of me, you old fool, I’ve hurt my leg.”

He removed his hands and tried to stand up but she pulled him back down on to the floor.

“I’ve hurt my leg,” she cried. “I can’t get up.”

“I know,” he grunted, breathless from his exertions. “I’m trying to help you.”

She wouldn’t let him go, but he needed to call for help. He struggled to pull himself free and wrenched his own back, sending a violent spasm up from his lower spine to between his shoulders.

“Good God,” he cried, and she released him.

He staggered to the phone and called the paramedics. Then he dropped down on the floor beside her and spoke to her with soothing words.

“It’s all right,” he said. “Everything’s going to be all right.” He stroked her face, her hair, and repeated this mantra until she settled down. When she had quieted, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a tiny vial of medicine, and placed a little pill under his tongue to quell the ache in his chest.

Jack felt wiped out, unable to go on. Their day-to-day battle with Sara’s dementia exhausted him. It was a relentless battle of small hopeful gains alternating with frequent devastating losses. Just that morning, she’d awakened at three and slipped out of bed without making a sound. The clatter of pots and pans in the dead of night dragged him out of a deep sleep, and he stumbled into the kitchen to find her hard at work brewing pots of coffee and baking blueberry muffins.

Years ago, it would not have been unusual. They had operated their home, Blue Hydrangeas, as a bed and breakfast for almost a decade, but Sara had forgotten they’d closed for business a few summers back.

Jack played along with her frequent lapses in memory to maintain peace in their home. It was demanding, discouraging work, and at the end of some days he felt ready to give up. But, when morning came things always seemed better and he gave each new day another go. The days rolled into weeks, months, and then years, and here they were, together at home, just the two of them with Sara’s Alzheimer’s.

He knew it was important to keep her in the present, but in the middle of the night he didn’t have the energy. She ignored his desperate pleas to go back to bed, insisting she had work to do. Wary of starting an argument, he poured himself a cup of strong coffee and waited for the muffins to bake. When no guests came down for breakfast, her disappointment broke his heart.

When the ambulance arrived, he anxiously watched as the paramedics attended to Sara. She shouted at them as they examined her, slapped at their hands, and threatened to call the police. They handled her with grace, administered a mild sedative, and bundled her onto a stretcher and into the ambulance.

Jack insisted he was fine and refused their attention. He did not want to waste time getting Sara to the hospital and demanded they leave immediately. He’d wait for the doctors in the Emergency Room to check him out. He climbed into the ambulance behind her and it raced them to the hospital, lights flashing and siren blaring. Sara fell asleep on the way.

A few hours later, the doctor released Jack from the ER. X-rays of his back had turned out fine. An electrocardiogram revealed no new changes. His blood pressure was way up, but after a dose of intravenous medication it returned to a safe level. The ER doctor told him to follow-up with his primary care physician in the morning, prescribed muscle relaxants for his back pain, and advised him to take it easy.

Sara was not so lucky. Her right hip and leg were intact, but she had suffered severe bruising and the leg was swollen and tender. It was difficult for her to bear weight. The doctor also discovered she had a serious urinary tract infection and was dehydrated. He admitted her to the hospital for a few days of intravenous antibiotics and fluids. In the morning, she’d start physical therapy.

Jack went along with the nurses and orderlies to help settle Sara in her room. When they left, he moved a chair over to the side of the bed, and waited while she pulled up the covers and shifted around trying to get comfortable. After she stopped fidgeting, he held a cup of cranberry juice to her parched lips and offered her the straw.

“What are we doing now?” she asked, her voice cranky with exhaustion.

“We’re going to have lunch,” he said. It was well after noon.

“Here?” she asked, before taking a long sip of juice.

“Yes.”

“What is this place?”

“It’s the hospital, Sara. We’ve been here before.” Her long snowy hair matched the pure white of the linens. He finger-combed the tangled mess, trying to make her look more like herself. At home, he brushed it every night, one hundred strokes, until it shone like silk.

She nodded and sucked down the last of the juice. Jack placed the empty cup on the table.

“Are we staying here all day?”

“You’re staying here. I’m going home.”

“I don’t want to stay here. I want to go home with you.”

Jack squeezed her hand. “Maybe tomorrow.”

“Why do I have to stay?” Her eyes turned dark, the way they did when she was gearing up for a fight.

“Because Dr. Fallon wants you to stay,” he said in his don’t-argue-with-me tone. “You need medicine, Sara.”

“I have medicine at home.”

“Not this kind of medicine.” He pointed to the intravenous tubing and bags of fluids and antibiotics hanging on the tall metal pole next to her bed.

“I don’t see what all the fuss is about,” she said, plucking at the sheets. “I feel fine.”

A cheerful nursing assistant entered the room, providing a welcome distraction. “Hello, Mrs. Harmon,” she said. “Back with us again?” Jack recognized Verlaine, his favorite nursing assistant on the hospital’s staff. She carried a food tray and placed it on the overbed table within Sara’s reach.

“What have we here?” Verlaine asked, opening the containers of food. “Chicken, white rice, and steamed carrots.” She cut the chicken and vegetables into bite-sized pieces. “And you’ve got milk and a bowl of chocolate pudding.” She spread a napkin over Sara’s chest and boosted the head of the bed up so she could reach her food. “Anything else I can get you?” she asked with a beautiful smile.

“No, thanks,” Jack said. Sara had started eating, seeming to have forgotten he and Verlaine were still in the room.

“Take care, Mr. Harmon,” Verlaine called as she left them alone.

Jack watched Sara eat. Dr. Fallon had made it clear that a proper diet was important to maintain Sara’s stability, and Jack took meal times seriously. She had a good appetite, although sometimes he had to prod her into eating anything at all. She often left meals unfinished and sometimes hid unwanted food behind the couch or at the back of a kitchen cabinet where it turned bad before Jack found it. However, for this meal Sara was settled in and eating happily. His own stomach rumbled, reminding him he had not eaten since the blueberry muffins earlier that morning. He’d also missed his noon medications.

“Honey, I’m going down to the cafeteria to get some lunch.”

Sara was concentrating on her pudding and did not look up.

At the elevator, her case manager, Allison, approached him. Her job was to assist patients and their families with arranging the aftercare that followed a hospitalization.

“Mr. Harmon, I’m glad I ran into you,” she said, all business. “We need to talk.” She was a strapping woman, mid-forties, with a kind face and a no-nonsense attitude.

“It’s a beautiful day, Allison. You should sneak out and take a walk,” Jack said, sidestepping her. “I won’t tell,” he winked. The elevator doors opened and he moved forward.

Allison refused to let him get away. She took him by the arm and led him into her office. “Has anything changed at home since your wife’s hospital visit last month?” she asked.

“Oh, no,” he explained, smiling. “My grandson Derek is still staying with us.”

Allison said, “Your grandson works full-time.”

“Well, yes, of course,” Jack said, “but he helps out when he’s home. I also have Mrs. Wright, my housekeeper, coming in every morning, and Margie, Sara’s companion, is available whenever I need her. Then there’s our good friend, Rose Fantagucci, just down the road, and you know my son and his wife are a short ride away up in Boston. I’ve got it all covered.”

The case manager frowned. “That’s not enough, Mr. Harmon. Your wife needs dependable twenty-four hour care.”

“But I’m there twenty-four hours. I never leave her alone.”

Allison sighed. “Full-time caregiving is a tough job. We’ve talked about this before. It’s time, Mr. Harmon. This is too much for you. Sara should be in a place where her needs are met twenty-four seven. One person can’t possibly fulfill that responsibility.” During Sara’s many hospitalizations the case managers and nurses had questioned Jack’s ability to care for his wife. Today it was Allison’s turn to convince him that an alternative living arrangement was in Sara’s best interest.

“You mean a nursing home,” Jack said, gagging on the words. The thought sickened him. So many of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s finished their days in nursing homes, and he was determined to keep Sara with him for as long as possible. Forever. He’d never consent to an arrangement that would take her from Blue Hydrangeas.

“Not a nursing home, Mr. Harmon,” Allison explained, “but an assisted living facility, where Sara will receive around-the-clock supervision by people trained to meet her special needs. Think of it as a bridge between living at home and living in a nursing home.”

“You’re not fooling me,” he said. “It’s the same thing. Either way, we’ll be separated, and I promised Sara we’d stay together in our home no matter what.”

“You might consider assisted living for yourself as well, Mr. Harmon, given your heart condition - -”

Jack wouldn’t let her finish. “This is nuts,” he said. “I’m perfectly capable of caring for Sara on my own. I love my wife. Don’t worry about us, Allison. We’ll be all right.” He patted the case manager’s arm.

“Mr. Harmon, this isn’t about love,” she said. “It’s about your wife’s care and safety. Love is not enough.”

“You’re very kind, Allison, and I appreciate your concern, but I’ll let you know when I’ve had enough. Right now, I need to get some lunch.” He walked out of her office.

After dining on the cafeteria’s daily special he returned to his wife. She was sleeping peacefully, her face devoid of any stress. Jack stared at her for a long while, seeing vestiges of a young Sara, remembering the first time he had seen her fifty-seven years ago. Sara was nineteen, a blue-eyed beauty with rich auburn hair and tiny freckles splashed across her tiny nose. The face he saw now was older and well seasoned, but at seventy-six she was still a beauty.

The auburn hair had turned snow white and covered her shoulders like a silken shawl. Her blue eyes still sparkled like jewels, but now tiny lines framed them. He smiled, thinking of how she lamented those wrinkles, blaming herself, a redhead living her life in the sun. She had taken care, but her love for the outdoors, the ocean, and her gardens had gotten the better of her. Jack thought the wrinkles added character, a testament to a life well lived.

Her hands, though, revealed the most about her. Once as soft as rose petals, they had become calloused and worn by her life’s work. As a commercial artist, she had dipped them into oil paint and turpentine for decades. And, when her hands were not commanding a paintbrush they had dug deep into the earth, creating a spectacular garden that reaped awards from gardening groups throughout New England.

Jack loved those hands, and held both of them in his own. Over the years, he had lavished her with exquisite jewelry, but these days she wore one simple gold band on her wedding finger, delicately inscribed with the words: “Always, my love. Jack.” He stroked the ring, gazing at her with a mixture of love and grief. The last nine years had been tough and promised to get tougher. He sensed change, and loss, and death ahead and it filled him with fear deeper than he had ever known. The realization that one of them would die, would leave the other, paralyzed him. How could he live without her? What would she do without him?

“Oh, Sara,” he whispered, a catch in his throat. Tears formed in his eyes and he brushed them away. He did not know whom he pitied more: Sara or himself.

He pulled away from her bedside and went home to call their son.

This book is available at http://www.amazon.com/author/mariannesciucco

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Vampire With the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrelyn Sparks

He's Out of Control

Dougal Kincaid has something to prove. After being injured in a battle with the Malcontents, he's ready for active duty protecting unsuspecting mortals from these villainous vampires who want to rule the world. But first he has to get control of himself . . . because just the sight of a certain lovely doctor has his injured hand doing some peculiar things, not to mention the sizzling sensation that burns along his dragon tattoo.

Vampires? Vampires?! As a scientist, Leah is having trouble believing that these immortal creatures exist. But there they are, standing in front of her, asking for help in solving a genetic puzzle that can save mankind. There's even one in a sexy kilt! Just one look into Dougal's gorgeous green eyes sets her pulse racing. But can she trust him—and the overwhelming desire that refuses to be ignored?


Geneticist Leah Chin is brilliant and loves science but the paranormal, namely the fact that vampires actually exist, is making her lose her mind. She can’t fathom that these people are actually, well, people. Shouldn’t they all be evil? She soon finds that she’s wrong on many counts and actually finds herself attracted to Dougal Kincaid, a gorgeous Scottish hunk of man in a kilt.

Dougal is captivated by Leah from the first moment he sees her. He sees hints of his first love, Li Lei, who he lost to death 300 years prior. Yes, he sees Li Lei but he starts to fall for Leah for who she is, not who he thinks she once was. When the fight between the vamps and the demon Darafer ramps up, the vamps and scientists find themselves in Japan, then China, trying to save mind-controlled soldiers and villagers from certain death. Unfortunately Darafer’s got it in his mind to control Leah and in the end he may change both Leah and Dougal’s lives forever.

This was a sweet story between Leah and Dougal. I love Dougal and his fierce protectiveness on the outside and his soft gooey loving inside. He really was a kitten when it came to Leah. He was very tender with her and I loved seeing him fall in love. Leah took a bit more time to love as she was just more analytical but eventually I wrapped my mind around the two of them together and moved on.

The part of the story having to do with Darafer and his minions was decently written although after not having read any of the most recent books in this series I wasn’t privy to all of his evil deeds. He was an evil demon – that kind of spoke for itself, if you know what I mean. :)

Now near the end Dougal makes a really bad decision that affects not only himself but Leah as well – in a big way. I can’t say that I thought his decision was a good one or even well thought out but I kind of understood it. I did think that when it was all said and done Leah forgave him waaaaay too quickly but I guess the author felt that they’d each suffered enough.

The story was sweet, cute and a decent read. I wasn’t completely bowled over by any of it but it was a nice romance.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Kerrelyn Sparks

Review: The Trouble With Being A Duke by Sophie Barnes

Sometimes happily ever after…

Anthony Hurst, Duke of Kingsborough knows the time has come for him to produce an heir. But first he must find a bride. When he meets the most exquisite woman at his masquerade ball, he thinks his search is over…until the breathtaking beauty runs off. With few clues other than her figure, her scent, and the memory of her kiss, Anthony must find his mystery lady.

…needs a little bit of help.

Isabella Chilcott can scarcely believe it: she is finally at the Kingsborough Ball. As a child, she dreamed of dancing a waltz here and now, thanks to a gorgeous gown she’s found in the attic, Isabella is living her fairytale fantasy. And she’s waltzing with the Duke of Kingsborough himself! But she must escape before he discovers her secrets…for she is not who she pretends to be, and falling in love with Prince Charming is the last thing she can allow herself to do…


Anthony Hurst and his family have been in mourning. His father died just over a year ago after years of pain and suffering and Anthony and his mother, who was always by her husband’s side, need to move on. It’s hard on all of them but Anthony knows that they can’t live in the past. To get his mother to start trying to live again, Anthony talks his mother into hosting one of her infamous Kingsborough Balls and while she still mourns, her days are taken up with organizing the event. Anthony also looks at the ball as an opportunity to find a bride – which is surprising to everyone as up until his father got sick he was a notorious rake. His father’s death, however, shed light on the fact that life is fragile and Anthony realizes he shouldn’t wait any longer to marry and produce an heir.

Isabella has always dreamed of attending a Kingsborough ball. She used to watch the fireworks that they had at midnight and dream of how romantic it would be. She loves fairy tales despite how her mother tries to discourage her from doing so and the ball has always felt like the biggest fairy tale of all. Isabella isn’t living a fairy tale though. She’s been courted by a Mr. Roberts who is Isabella’s father’s boss and her parents are anxious to see the two married. Isabella and her family are pretty poor but Mr. Roberts could change that as he is a carriage maker and quite wealthy. The problem is – Isabella doesn’t like him. She’s willing to do what she needs to do for her family but Mr. Roberts is dour and controlling. When Isabella and her sister Jamie hear that a Kingsborough ball is going to occur Jamie talks Isabella into attending saying that this will be the last time she’ll actually be able to attempt this because she’ll soon be marrying Mr. Roberts (though he hadn’t actually proposed yet). She wears the gorgeous gown that they found hidden in the attic (a dress they were never allowed to talk about) and sneaks into the ball with the help of a relative. She is blown away by the beauty of the ball – the d├ęcor, the gowns the ladies wear, the men in their finery – but nothing is as beautiful as the Duke of Kingsborough. When she meets him she is enthralled and they can’t seem to spend enough time with each other.

Anthony is enthralled with the masked woman who he knows wasn’t actually invited. Anthony’s family figured it out but as Anthony was so taken with the woman his mother didn’t actually throw her out. Isabella tries to talk herself and Anthony into believing that nothing could work between them (without telling him that she’s poor) because she’s practically engaged. That “practically” has Anthony on alert as that means she’s not yet taken. After a wonderful night Isabella escapes but Anthony isn’t willing to give up and searches the nearby town for her. He finally finds her but her parents as well as Isabella aren’t open to his suit and turn him down. Luckily Anthony doesn’t give up easily as he knows this is the woman for him.

Isabella knows that she has to marry Mr. Roberts but she doesn’t understand her mother’s hatred of the aristocracy. Because of this she’s told she can’t marry the duke even though she has fallen in love with him. Between her parents and some vicious rumor spreaders Isabella fears that Anthony will be scared off and she longs for nothing more than to be with him forever.

I loved Anthony’s character and actually thought it was amusing that he kept digging himself into a deeper hole with his family and Isabella’s family almost every time he opened his mouth. That part wasn’t intended to be humorous, I’m sure, but I guess I could see how he was screwing up and loved how made amends. Yes, he had been a rake but he had changed his ways and while his fascination with Isabella might have started off as lust it soon turned to love and Barnes did a great job of showing us that transformation.

Isabella was a bit harder to like. I very much enjoyed her personality at the ball but after that I was concerned by her wishy-washyness. I know this stemmed from the struggle she was having with her feelings for Anthony as opposed to her feelings of obligation & loyalty to her family but I found her hot and cold attitude to be a bit grating. That being said, once she finally admitted to herself that she loved Anthony things smoothed out considerably and was quite enjoyable.

From this story I believe we will get book 2 in the series as there was an incident at the Kingsborough ball, not involving Anthony or Isabella, that kind of went nowhere. I came to the conclusion that the future story will probably run simultaneously with book one. Not a bad idea but a bit odd to have such a major event happen in this book and then have it almost ignored for the rest of the book.

This is charming story about secrets, family obligation, more secrets, and of course, love and romance. It had humor blended in with the deeper emotions and I love it when those two mix, it just makes for a great story.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Sophie Barnes 


What I Read Last Week

How is everyone? What have you been up to lately? Tell me everything!

Things here have been...interesting. My oldest daughter is trying to feel her oats and in the process is making me feel..mental. Ah the joys of having a 15 year old. All I can say on the matter is if you're the praying sort please put us in your prayers cuz we can use all we can get.

On to what I read this past week:

First up for the week was Freefall by Tess Oliver. This was a book I saw on Goodreads and was interested. The story is about a tattoo artist and his relationship with a girl who already has a boyfriend but the boyfriend is controlling and well, whack. It was an interesting and good book but I definitely had some issues with it. You can read all of my thoughts on the story here in my review. 3.5 out of 5

Next up was The Vampire With the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrelyn Sparks. Dougal is a vampire who was once in love. His love died but when he meets geneticist Leah Chen he believes that she may have the soul of his dead love. He does fall in love with Leah – whether she's Li Lei or not but he doesn't believe he's the best person for her. Leah has a problem believing that vampires can be good people but eventually she does especially when she realizes she's falling in love with Dougal. I'll post my review of this one this week so you can read my thoughts on the book. 3 out of 5

To All The Rakes I've Loved Before by Anne Barton is a novella that has our heroine Amelia taking a beaten man into her home when her mother's away. Amelia nurses Stephen back to health and they realize they have feelings for the other. It was a sweet story and though it all happened rather quickly I thought it was well done. 4 out of 5

Unexpected by Maisey Yates is the story of Kelsey who wants a child and finally does something about it by having in vitro. Cole finds out that his sperm was used accidentally and that he's now going to be a father. Kelsey and Cole try to come to terms with the fact that they will be co-parenting but also with the fact that they find themselves falling in love. It was a cute story that I had more than a few niggles with but it was a decent read. 3 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)

Unbound by Cara McKenna has Merry hiking across part of Scotland but falls ill and seeks help from Rob who is a recluse. She brings him out of his shell and they find compatibility sexually with Rob as the submissive. Rob's got his shame to deal with about his alcoholism and the fact that he never dealt with it – more just ran away from it. It was a decent read that I thought was well written but I personally wasn't a fan of the sex scenes on a certain level. My biggest issue was the end of the book when they fall in love but we see no solid HEA. Very disappointing. 3.5 out of 5 (read for Book Binge - FYI: releases in October) 

Last for the week was To Sin With A Viking by Michelle Willingham. This story has Styr and his wife Elena heading off to Ireland to start a new life. They have a tumultuous marriage and Styr hopes that this new life will give them what they need to get things on track. They are attacked when they hit land and taken hostage. Styr by Carragh who just wanted to save her brother from certain death at Styr's hands. After a while she lets him go and agrees to go find her brother, his men and his wife with Styr. Throughout their time together they find themselves falling in love but of course he's married. I liked the story and I liked the h/h to a point. Unfortunately I don't normally read books about infidelity. Styr kisses Carragh a couple of times and does touch her sexually in a minor way - but it's the emotional infidelity that really got me. I just wish that this could have been a story of the two of them without the wife involved – it would have been great. 3 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Ad-Dick-tion Volume 3: 10 Tales of Hot Male Obsessions by Various Authors
Lover at Last by JR Ward

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

Here's a great Hinder song for you to listen to this fine day: Should Have Known Better.  Enjoy!

 

Book Spotlight: Shooting Scars by Karina Halle (Book 2 in The Artists Trilogy) + a Giveaway!

Sometimes the right choice can be the deadliest.

When Ellie Watt made the ultimate sacrifice for Camden McQueen, she never thought it would be easy. But walking away with her ex-lover, Javier Bernal, in order to ensure Camden’s safety has brought a whole new set of dangers. With Javier’s plans for Ellie growing more secretive by the moment, Ellie must find a way to stay ahead of the game before her past swallows her whole.

Meanwhile, Camden’s new life is short-lived. Fueled by revenge and pursued by authorities, he teams up with an unlikely partner in order to save Ellie. But as Camden toes the line between love and retribution, he realizes that in order to get back the woman he loves, he may have to lose himself in the process. He might just turn into the very man he’s hunting.

(Told in dual POV from Camden and Ellie.)



Excerpt:

She was in my dreams again, Ellie. Only this time, the fire that consumed us came from within. I was in a black, cavernous room with no walls, no windows, and a floor made of ebony satin. She was lying at my feet, naked and curled up, sleeping.

Her eyes opened and she saw me. She smiled. I could barely bring my eyes away from her body. She was curved in all the right places, places that felt like home to me, like the area underneath her ass were it melted into her thighs, or where her full breasts swooped up into her soft arms. Her nipple ring sparkled, diamonds now, and I felt myself grow instantly hard, wanting nothing more than to tug at it with my teeth. She groaned with so much pleasure when I had done it before. I’d give anything to hear that sound, even if it wasn’t real.

She turned over onto her back, her breasts inviting me for a taste. Beckoning me with her finger, her sly look almost undid me. I was naked as well, my erection impressive. I’d heard that I was a “big boy” from many women and looming over Ellie like this, seeing the raw hunger in her eyes, the anticipation, I couldn’t have been more grateful. I was petty, even in my dreams.

I dropped down to my knees and crawled over her, pinning her body between my limbs, the contrast of the dark hair of my legs to the milky white of hers, the cherry blossoms more delicate and vibrant than ever. I brushed my cock against the fine hair of her pubic bone, pressing it up against her belly, a heavy weight between us. Her breath quickened, mine deepened. I wanted nothing more than to thrust it inside of her, feel her warmth, her wetness, her tight grip that felt better than heaven.

I reached under her back and with a deft move, flipped her over and pulled her up so she was on all fours, back arched, ass widening beneath me. She wiggled it, just slightly, and the sight nearly made me come. I was a hair trigger.

I licked my fingers, then trailed them down the slit of her ass, feeling her pucker before dipping them down into the lake of her cleft. She was so fucking wet, so wet for me. I drew the moisture up and swirled my finger into her, one then two. I hadn’t known Ellie long enough in an intimate way to know if she was into anything anal. But it was a dream and I didn’t care. I’d have my way with her and she’d love it.

My breath hitched and she let out little fluttery moans that made my balls tighten. I slowly edged myself into her, feeling the heat and the impossible tightness, the taboo, the dirtiness. The wonderful, mouth-gaping dirtiness. We both cried out as I thrust in deep, my cock being squeezed until I couldn’t handle it anymore.

Then something changed. A wave of cold came out from the darkness and along with it, the shadowy silhouette of a man. There was only shape to him and thick substance, like a figure had been sculpted out of black tar and clay. The chill he brought made me stop dead, my fingers resting softly on the cheeks of her ass.

The man came closer and still he had no features. Ellie’s head was up and watching him, like a playful cat, while I remained lodged inside her. He stopped right in front of her face and she reached for him with one hand, taking his black erect appendage into her mouth and crying out with pleasure.

I shut my eyes tight, willing myself to be the one she was sucking off. My dreams could be somewhat lucid when I wanted them to.

When I opened them, it had worked. My cock was in Ellie’s mouth, her tongue running and up and down the underside. But now, the black shape was where I had been, pounding her hard from behind. I watched, unable to stop Ellie from sucking me off, not wanting the pleasure to end, while watching the blackness as it spread over her. I came loudly, spurting into her mouth, which she swallowed happily. Then she came, the pounding coming to a climax.

The man of black matter smiled. A flash of white teeth against the abyss.

Then he was gone.

And she was gone. 


About the Author

The daughter of a Norwegian Viking and a Finnish Moomin, Karina Halle grew up in Vancouver, Canada with trolls and eternal darkness on the brain. This soon turned into a love of all things that go bump in the night and a rather sadistic appreciation for freaking people out.

Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently splits her time between her apartment in downtown Vancouver and her sailboat, where a book and a bottle of wine are always at hand. She is hard at work on her next novel. 


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Review: Freefall by Tess Oliver

After leaving high school, with a hard won diploma and the title of most likely to break hearts, Alexander "Nix" Pierce has left his wild, out of control years mostly behind him. A small inheritance from his grandfather has given him the funds to open up his tattoo shop, Freefall, and he has started to pull his life together. Aside from trying to keep his best friend, Dray, from killing himself in the fight ring, and his slight obsession with a pin-up model he's never met, Nix's life is going smoothly . . . until Scotlyn James, the object of his obsession, walks into his shop.

Ever since a tragic accident killed her family and left her alone in the world, Scotlyn James hasn't spoken one word. Up until now she didn't care that she had no way of talking to people. Her awful aunt would never have listened, and Lincoln Hammond the arrogant, selfish man who pulled her from the streets of Los Angeles wouldn't hear her words if she could speak. But when Lincoln insists she get a tattoo to cover up a scar on her side, Scotlyn meets the artist, Nix Pierce. And now she longs for her voice. Now she has found someone who will hear her.


Scotlyn James has lived a hard life. She was in an accident where her whole family died and she hasn’t spoken since. After living a short time with a bible thumping aunt she ran away and lived on the streets and did what she had to do to survive – which wasn’t always pretty. She was saved by a rich man who took her off the streets and gave her a home. She cared for Lincoln but she didn’t love him. As the time went on he got more and more controlling and she starts thinking about the future and what she will do when she leaves him. Scotlyn has a long scar on her torso due to the accident and as it bothers Lincoln (because she’s not perfect) he arranges to have a tattoo drawn over the scar. This is when Scotlyn meets Nix.

Nix is the owner of the tattoo studio called Freefall. He was basically in a freefall with his life when he decided to purchase the shop and his life settled down. He still has crazy friends but the stream of women and the destructive lifestyle has stopped. He’s a good man who takes care of his grandmother who has Alzheimers and tries to take care of his friends as well – who aren’t all over the destructive lifestyle. When he meets Scotlyn he knows it’s destiny as he’s carried her a pinup picture of her in his wallet for a year. They are instantly attracted to each other but Lincoln isn’t going to let Scotlyn anywhere near Nix as he can tell that there’s a vibe between them.

Nix arranges for Scotlyn to sit with his mother during the day and help her write her memoirs before she loses her memories for good. Scotlyn is thrilled to be doing something independent and she also sees Nix without Lincoln’s interference. Lincoln, however, is not giving up control of his woman and with his shady business deals he’s involved her more than she ever thought.

This is my first time reading this author and I have to say that I there was a lot about her style of writing that I liked. She wrote likable characters who just average every day citizens and I liked that about them.
 

The instant connection between Scotlyn and Nix was great. The tension could have been cut with a knife and though I don’t normally like stories with infidelity I could see how they might go too far – even with Scotlyn still attached to Lincoln. The romance itself didn’t bowl me over because there actually wasn’t much of it. There was the connection and then it was like they were just together. Don’t get me wrong, some of the conversations they had were very sweet and touching I just wish there had been more of a “getting to know” period. I think this would have been beneficial to me as a reader as well as there were things I would have like to know like….how old were these people? I didn’t have a clue. With everything that Nix had lived through I would think 25-28. Maybe? Scotlyn? I have NO CLUE. We knew how old she was when she ran away from her aunt and she mentions that she probably wouldn’t have seen her 18th birthday with Lincoln saving her but how long ago was that? Also, Nix had no clue what Scotlyn’s last name was. I found this strange. He even says in the book:
You own my heart, and yet, I don’t even know your last name.

IDK, sometimes it just seemed too far too fast for me. They were great together, don’t get me wrong, but I think I needed some more time in there without the insta-love.

Now there were some secondary characters that I really liked. Dray, Nix’s best friend, was kind of an ass who was a fighter and seemed like he was purposely self-destructing. Nix’s friend Grace, who worked at the tattoo parlor, had a thing for Dray but he wouldn’t admit his feelings about her. Then there was Clutch who was close to be a self-made millionaire but was just one of the guys. He was tormented by a 17 year old that he actually really liked but he wouldn’t let himself go there because of her age. He denied it and himself constantly. Again, it would have been nice to know how old Clutch was to Taylor’s 17. Clutch went to school with Nix so were they the same age? Was the reason he had a hang up about Tayor’s age (besides the fact that she wasn’t legal) because he was so much older than her? I don’t have a clue. 


Lincoln, no doubt about it, was a complete ass.  I think way down deep in his black, black heart he cared for Scotlyn but he saw her more as a commodity to be used and controlled than anything else.  I was more than happy to see Scotlyn away from him in the end but I can't say I really believed that he would give her up that easily - even after everything went down.  It kind of was wrapped up to easily for my liking. 

In the end there was more to like here than there wasn’t. It was definitely a compelling story as I sat and read it all in one sitting. The characters undeniably led a much different lifestyle but that was fun to read about as well. While I think the romance could have had more to it I liked the book and would absolutely read more from this author in the future.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Tess Oliver

What I Read Last Week

Hello!

Well this should have been a “normal” week for me (whatever that means) what with school starting, etc. but it was far from that as it turned out. My youngest was to start school on Wednesday and of course she’s the one that wants to go to school. Unfortunately she woke up on Wednesday with a high fever. Needless to say she was very upset. She still had her fever on Thursday but it was up and down. On Thursday when I got home from work she was just waking from a nap and she felt like the rays of a thousand suns had been beating down on her. After trying to cool her with cold compresses (which didn’t work) I took her to the urgent care and lo and behold she has strep. She’s been on antibiotics since Thursday night and was feeling better almost as soon as the next morning. Today ended up being her first day of school and she looked adorable, of course. (I had to catch her off guard while she was getting out of the car as she didn't want her picture taken.)



My oldest started school on Thursday and she wanted nothing to do with pictures. I guess when you’re in 10th grade you’re just too cool for first day pictures. (Why do they take selfies all the time and post them on instagram and facebook but when Mom wants to take a picture of them they cringe?  These and other questions.
) I’ll sneak one soon when she’s least expecting it. lol So far she likes her classes and teachers – well, except for Modern Civ which she says is the most boring class in the universe. I told her to give it time it may get better. I never did for me when I was in school but it could happen. :)

I finally went to the Ortho about my shoulder. He said I had no rotator cuff tear or issue and no biceps tear – which is awesome. He said the reason that the physical therapy didn’t work was because they were treating me for the wrong thing. Wonderful…not. He said it was a highly inflamed frozen shoulder with some bursitis thrown in for good measure. He gave me a cortisone shot (in more places than the FP guy did) and told me what exercises to do to “unfreeze” myself. We’ll see how it goes.

To say my reading suffered is putting it mildly. I managed to read even less than last week and I didn’t think that was possible. lol

I started off the week with Along Came A Spider by Kate SeRine. this is book 3 in the Transplanted Tales series and it was a good one. The story was about Trish Muffett who gets attacked and is saved by Nicky Blue – the man she’s been in love with for 100 years (literally). Nicky and Trish end up looking for Vlad Dracula together and trying to bring down the bad guys. I really like the world that SeRine has built here and am looking forward to reading more. You can read my full review here. 3.75 out of 5

Next up was Highland Vow by Hannah Howell. This was the story of a girl who had been in love with a man for years and was determined to have him for life but he thinks himself in love with someone else. It was a good story but I think I still need to punch the hero a bit. lol You can read my review here. 3 out of 5

A Simple Twist of Fate by HelenKay Dimon was last for the week. This was Beck Hanover’s book and he falls for Sophie Clarke who is their cleaning lady. Sophie isn’t actually there for cleaning though, she’s there to try and find some jewelry that was taken from her aunt when she was conned by Beck’s father. There’s obviously angst but it all ended well. A good story but slow in some places. 3.5 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)

 



My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh
Guardian Demon by Meljean Brook
Smokin’ Hot Firemen: Erotic Romance Stories for Women edited by Delilah Devlin 


Happy Reading!


Saturday Song

We As Human is a band that isn't exactly new (their first album was in 2006) but I've just really taken notice of and I'm really enjoying the music.   Here's Strike Back for your listening pleasure. :) Enjoy!


Review: Highland Vow by Hannah Howell

Ten years ago, young Elspeth Murray rescued a wounded young knight and lost her heart forever. Now a stunning beauty and gifted healer, she is reunited with Cormac Armstrong when he saves her from an unwanted suitor. But Cormac is promised to another, a woman who has blinded him to her ruthlessness. Now Elspeth must battle against the odds to claim a man and a love she will not be denied.

Cormac is stunned by the desire Elspeth's kiss awakens, tries to resist -- and fails -- the temptation she offers. A man of honor, he is torn by his pledge to another and his growing need for Elspeth. Blinded by duty and indecision, he is unaware that he is a pawn in a clever and deadly trap from which Elspeth is desperate to save him. But by the time he understands her gift of selfless devotion will it be too late to claim his perfect love?


When Elspeth was just 9 years old she helped save a knight from certain death. The knight, Sir Cormac Armstrong, stayed at her parents keep for 2 months and in those months Elspeth’s infatuation just grew. Now it’s 10 years later and Cormac finds her kidnapped by a man who plans to rape then marry her – a man who was courting her and is pissed off because Elspeth turned down his offer of marriage. Cormac gets Elspeth away from danger but he knows they won’t be far behind.

Elspeth knows from the first moment she sees Cormac again, and kisses him, that he is the one. Cormac has vowed his love and loyalty to a woman name Isabel who is not worthy of him. Elspeth decides that she will do everything in her power, while they travel to Court, to show Cormac that he should choose her rather than the murderous Isabel. Elspeth thinks that she’s won the fight but when Cormac sees Isabel again the words that pass his lips anger and sadden and Elspeth and she decides it’s time to call it quits.

I have to say that I really love a good road romance. I think there’s something about the isolation, especially in medieval romances, that brings the h/h together in a special way. This was an unexpected road romance since the blurb really didn’t let on that the couple would be traveling for most of the book and that was a nice surprise.

Cormac was to me, for most of the book, a besotted fool. And not for the right woman either. Yes, Elspeth was nudging him in the right direction but the fact that he could look at all the facts of Isabel and still want the woman – or even believed he wanted the woman - made me want to crawl into the pages of the book and smack him multiple times. I really liked the guy, I did!, but he was almost delusional for most of the book – talking himself into believing facts that weren’t in evidence. Say, like, Elspeth tells him that she wants no commitment, just continuous rolls in the hay. Cormac didn’t seems sheltered but the fact that he would believe a woman such as Elspeth would do that made me look at him sideways. He also believed that Isabel was a good person, despite the fact that he had been strung along for 10 years and that all 4 of her husbands had died in mysterious ways. I liked how he made amends at the end though and I though he did truly love Elspeth so that was a bonus. :)

Elspeth, I thought – gave up too easily on Cormac once he was in Isabel’s presence. She had worked so diligently to sway him to her way of thinking but yet the first time she sees Isabel and Cormac together she heads home. I wanted her to stay and fight, especially after she’d just told her cousin that that’s exactly what he planned to do. I understood that her heart just couldn’t take the beating, though, and was happy she didn’t make Cormac grovel too too much.

Overall it was a good story. It was definitely a slower read at times but a good steady story none-the-less.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Hannah Howell

Review: Along Came A Spider by Kate SeRine

When Trish Muffet is attacked at a grisly crime scene, the last person she expects to come to her rescue is Nicky “Little Boy” Blue. But since walking away from everything two years before, Nicky’s been doling out vigilante justice as “The Spider,” taking on the vicious predators of the night in hopes it’ll lead him to his ultimate target – Vlad Dracula. And he needs Trish’s help.

Although Nicky’s renegade style goes against everything Trish stands for, she’ll do what she must to bring Dracula down. With danger stalking her, Trish knows the only person she can count on is the one man who has the power to leave her breathless. There’s no way she’s letting this spider frighten her away… 


Trish Muffet works for the FMA – the Fairytale Management Authority – and is just leaving a crime scene when she's attacked by vampires. She kind of gets her butt kicked but is saved from certain death by Nicky Blue. He is masked but something he says tips her off that it's him. He ends up asking for her help to locate Dracula. He's been acting as the vigilante called “The Spider” for a while on his own but now he seeks out Trish's help trying to find Dracula – the man who killed his wife, Juliet (yes, Capulet). Trish agrees and while they're on the case the connection that they felt upon meeting (over 100 years before) just gets stronger.

Trish has been in love with Nicky since she met him. She has a gift for seeing into people's souls and when she looked into his she saw all of the love he was capable of giving. Nicky, it's insinuated, fell in love with Trish at that moment as well and has lived his life thinking about her. Unfortunately there are forces out to separate the two but Trish isn't letting Nicky go this time.

I have to say that there was a lot going on in this book but it didn't feel overwhelming. Dracula was up to a lot of mischief with different people and a group called The Agency (kind of Men in Black types) was giving the FMA and all of the Tales grief. Add on top of that the relationship between Nicky and Trish and you've got a three layer cake. Lol 

I liked the relationship between Nicky and Trish for the most part. They started sleeping together pretty quickly but they'd known each other for many years. I thought Nicky was very sweet to Trish and loved seeing his softer side. There wasn't a whole of romance per say but the relationship was built in nicely with the other parts of the story and it all seemed to fit with the characters personalities. 

I think the whole idea of fairytale characters, nursery rhyme characters and characters from literature all coming over from Make Believe into our world (which they call the Here and Now) is just a fun idea. The misconceptions of the characters based on their “tales” that were written are amusing to uncover and I think that SeRine does a nice job of it. I look forward to reading more in this series.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Kate SeRine

Review: The Devil of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney

For Virginia Traylor, Countess of Barrett, marriage was merely the vehicle to buy her father a title. Widowhood, however, brings a host of problems. For her husband deliberately spent the money intended for Virginia and her in-laws, leaving them penniless—unless she produces an heir. Desperate and confused, Virginia embarks on a fateful journey that brings her to the doorstep of the only man she's ever loved...

He's known as The Devil, but Macrath Sinclair doesn't care. He moved to a tiny Scottish village in hopes of continuing his work as an inventor and starting a family of his own. He bought the house; he chose the woman. Unfortunately, Virginia didn't choose him. Macrath knows he should turn her away now, but she needs him, and he wants her more than ever. Whatever game Virginia's playing, Macrath intends to win—one wickedly seductive deed at a time... 

Virginia is in a pickle. Her husband of 9 months is dead and her and her in-laws, who she's come to know as family, will be kicked out with no money as soon as the new Earl takes his place. Should she take the chance that she will be able to find work or will she take her mother-in-laws suggestion and get pregnant by another man and pass it off as her dead husband's heir? Virginia chooses option B and heads to Scotland to see her once and only love, Macrath Sinclair. 

Macrath and Virginia had fallen in love the year before and planned to get married. Unfortunately Virginia's father didn't want him in the family for many reasons. Instead he contracted for Virginia to marry an Earl who ended up hating her. Now Virginia is in Macrath's home and they realize that even though time has passed they still love each other. Macrath sees her in his home forever but after only a day, Virginia leaves again.

The plan works and Virginia ends up giving birth to a bouncing baby boy who then becomes the eleventh Earl of Barrett. Of course Macrath knows nothing of the baby as Virginia never told him she was pregnant. Of course Macrath can't leave Virginia to go back to her life now that she's free so he eventually goes to see her in London and finds out the baby's his. When Virginia's sick and out of it he takes the baby back to Scotland but of course she follows but he's not about to give up his son – ever.

I've only read about 5 books by this author and the majority of those I really liked. This one was no different. I think she does a lovely job writing her characters and they draw me in and I end up wanting to read more and more. Of course all those burly Scots in her books are wonderful! Lol

In this book I really liked reading about Virginia's strength. Did she make some big mistakes – oh yeah, most certainly, but she learned from them and tried not to make them again. She was incredibly stubborn but not so much that she couldn't see when she was wrong. I did think that she could have gone to Macrath and asked him to help her and her deceased husband's family after he died and I know he would have helped but then we wouldn't have had the book, would we? :)

Macrath was part stubborn fool, part romantic, part sensitive father. I really enjoyed reading about him and frankly the fact that he couldn't stay away from Virginia endeared him to me. He wasn't so pigheaded that he thought “she left me once after she was a widow, why try again?” He swallowed his pride (ok, it took him months!) and went to see her hoping for the best. He really was a great character. 

Overall I really liked the story and can't wait to read more about Clan Sinclair.

Rating: 4 out of 5



Karen Ranney

What I Read Last Week

Well it was another interesting week around Tracyland. With hubby still gone – he got back this past Saturday – I felt like a freakin taxi service running my oldest and her friends around. And of course none of them live nearby, it’s always to the other side of town and back which shoots about 40 minutes. *sigh* No time to read (or do anything else for that matter)! lol The kids start school this week so I know things will calm down now *crosses fingers* 

When I said there was no time to read I wasn’t kidding. My first book of the week was Guardian Demon by Meljean Brook. This book was so so so so good I didn’t want to put it down but with my schedule it ended up taking almost 5 days to read it. It was sheer unadulterated torture. lol The wonderful think about Meljean’s books is that there’s so good that it doesn’t lose any of its punch when you have to put it down for a while. This was Michael and Andy Taylor’s book and I loved every moment of it. I can’t say enough good things about it and think everyone should read it. :) 5 out of 5 (read for Book Binge – my review will post on 8/14/13, fyi) 

I then read a very short story in the Iron Seas series by Meljean Brook called The Hook. Very short – like 5 pages, very good with Mina Wentworth and Constable Newberry. You can read it here on Meljean’s website by clicking here. 4 out of 5

Next was The Devil of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney. The story is about Virginia and Macrath who fall in love but then Virginia’s father contracts her to marry someone else. After about 9 months her husband dies and when the new earl takes over her and her in-laws (all women) will be left destitute (the husband was a true bastard). The mother in-law and Virginia devise a plan to get pregnant and pass the child off as her husbands. You can see where this is going, can’t you? Yep, she has Macrath’s child but doesn’t tell him about him and then when he finds out he takes the baby. This was a really great story and I loved the characters and the way they were written. You can read my full review on Wednesday. 4 out of 5 

Fighting Fate by Linda Kage is a New Adult read about a girl who goes to college and ends up falling in love with the guy who killed her brother. That sounds bad but it really was a true accident and he suffered from it as well. The story was really good and though there was a lot of tragedy to read about, most of it was in the past. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series when they’re released. 4 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)

That’s it! I know – there’s hardly anything there. Oh well, I’ll hopefully have more time to read now that hubby’s home. :)

 

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid


Happy Reading! 


Review: From the Ashes by Daisy Harris

When an accident burns down Jesse’s apartment, he’s left broke and homeless, with a giant dog and a college schedule he can’t afford to maintain. And no family who’s willing to take him in.

Lucky for him, a sexy fireman offers him a place to stay. The drawback? The fireman’s big Latino family lives next door, and they don’t know their son is gay.

Tomas’s parents made their way in America with hard work and by accepting help when it was offered, so he won’t let Jesse drop out of school just so he can afford a place to live. Besides, Jesse’s the perfect roommate—funny, sweet and breathtakingly cute. He climbs into Tomas’s bed and tugs at his heart. Until Jesse starts pushing for more.

Their passion enflames their bodies but threatens to crush Tomas’s family. Tomas is willing to fight for Jesse, but after losing everything, Jesse isn’t sure he can bear to risk his one remaining possession—his heart.


Jesse is devastated when he comes home one afternoon and finds his building on fire. Yeah, that’s what he gets for renting from a couple who have a meth lab in their basement. Firefighter Tomas Perez is there to help him at the scene and starts to feel an attachment to Jesse even though he doesn’t know him from Adam. He wanders with him after the fire and eventually realizes that Jess isn’t planning on calling anyone to help him. Tomas offers him the couch in his small house and Jesse takes him up on it.

Jesse moved out of his parents house just 2 months prior after having saved up money to go to school and live. Now it’s all gone and he’s not sure what he’s gonna do. He likes Tomas but he’s a bit confused as to why the guy wants him around. Jesse is hot for Tomas, and at times Tomas seems to feel the same but while Jesse is enjoying being out and proud Tomas is in the closet and has some issues with the gay part of his life.

Soon the two are practically inseparable but Tomas’s family doesn’t know he’s gay – or so Tomas thinks – and then there are the guys from the fire station. Tomas refuses to come out to even his homophobic brother, Diego, and this causes strife between Tomas and Jesse. Jesse’s just not sure he wants to continue a relationship where he has to hide all the time.

A different kind of story where the two hero’s are thrown together almost immediately. Tomas really wants to be with Jesse but he has some deep seeded issues about two men being together and what part of sex constitutes love and which part constitutes just plain sleaziness. He’s had blow jobs from guys in back alleys but those weren’t men he’d loved and having Jesse do that seems wrong. The problem was that Tomas couldn’t just come out and tell him that as he was just trying to find his way. Unfortunately things like that never stay a secret and when it comes out it causes friction between the two men. Tomas’s refusal to come out to even his brother was another cog in the wheel of their relationship that was broken and at one point we didn’t know if it could be fixed.

Jesse was a character that I’m not sure I knew all that well by the end of the book. I liked him a lot and I liked him with Tomas but it seemed that he wasn’t satisfied with his place in life with Tomas and that confused me. One minute he would seem content and then in another he would be acting uncertain with people about his place. This is book 1 in a new series and hopefully we’ll get to read more about Tomas and Jesse and their life and how it’s going in subsequent books.

Rating: 4 out of 5 

 
Daisy Harris

What I Read Last Week (Finally!)

Oh my goodness I’m so behind! Between my hubby being gone (he’s on his yearly trip to Sturgis) which means I'm a single mom and my boss coming back from vacation I’ve been one busy girl. I’m finally getting this post up – better late than never, right?

The excitement for last week was…my oldest got her hair colored and is now a blonde. Wow. I can’t believe how different she looks. I really like it but yet am having a hard time getting used to it. I loved her hair color before because it had so many different shades in it. Ah well they all grow up. This home dye job was a chore as we colored her hair and since she’d previously had a purple semi-permanent in it some of her ends turned green. Lovely. lol Besides that it looked good though! :) My hairdresser fixed it up and 3 hours, my right arm and half of my left leg later voila – a blonde. lol

Here’s before and after:




And here's a picture of her in black and white that I just love cuz she's got a true smile on her face:


My first read for the week was Dead Sexy Dragon by Lolita Lopez. This is the first story in a new series and it’s a novella. The story was about a centuries old dragon that is in heat when his dead best friends sister shows up and needs his help. You can guess what happens but we also learn a lot of back story so I liked it. I’ll post my review for this one soon. 3.75 out of 5

Can’t Help Falling in Love by Bella Andre is book 3 in The Sullivan series and is Gabe’s story. He tries not to fall for a woman that he saved from a fire because he doesn’t date his rescue victims and Megan doesn’t date men with dangerous jobs. That works out for a while but soon Gabe is intent on changing Megan’s mind. This was the best book of the series so far – good stuff. You can read my full review here on Book Binge and there’s a giveaway going until 8/15/13 – I think) 4 out of 5  

Ad-Dick-tion Vol 3 by a variety of author (see them here) was a mostly m/m erotic romance short story anthology. I really liked most of the stories with a couple that I could have done without. I liked reading stuff from new-to-me authors. 3.75/4 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)


Destiny’s Surrender by Beverly Jenkins is the story of a prostitute who has a wealthy man’s baby. She tries to save her child and herself by seeking his assistance but ends up married to him instead. I really liked the story. I was surprised at some things and loved others. My first read from this author. 3.75 out of 5 (releases 9/24/13)

Salvage by Meljean Brook is a novella found in the Enthralled anthology. I do plan on reading the other stories but this one I HAD to read. It was the story of Georgiana who has been left time and time again by her husband who is out on his boat doing salvage work. He sends money home but this time has been gone 4 years. She’s just DONE with the man. He unexpectedly washes up on shore by their house and she nurses him back to health with the intention of then getting a divorce. Unfortunately – or fortunately – they get abducted by airship pirates first. This was so very good! I loved Thom and Georgiana both. I loved the situation they were in because it brought them closer. I loved the awesome senses of humor that Brook gives her characters. Can you tell I loved it? lol If you don’t read any others in this novella I definitely think no one should miss this one. 5 out of 5

Last for the week was Demon Marked by Meljean Brook. I was getting ready to read Guardian Demon and thought that I should refresh my memory of events leading up to that book. This was just almost as good as the first time I read it. Ash – a Halfling (part human, part demon) was such an original character and I loved seeing Nicholas come to terms with the fact that what he believed about demons was wrong when it came to Ash. Good stuff. 4.5 out of 5 (it only went down half a point from my original rating)

 


My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries
Can’t Help Falling in Love by Bella Andre

Happy Reading!