Top picks – 2010

As the year 2010 draws closer to its inevitable conclusion, I thought to myself that I would also celebrate the end in style and pick my favorite reads from 2010 just to show authors from my little corner of the world that their hard work certainly doesn’t go unnoticed and is truly appreciated by this little bookworm from the sunny side of life! I have sorted out a list month-wise from all the books that I have reviewed throughout 2010 (the books weren’t all published this year but I have picked up books that have made my day and brought immense joy to me whilst reading them) and I have to say that I have had a successful reading year when I look at all the great stories that I have managed to indulge in this year! Kudos to all those writers who have made this list. You guys simply put – just ROCK!

January: This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Published: 2001)

February: The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell by Samantha James (Published: 2007)

March: Something About You by Julie James (Published: 2010)

April: Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare (Published: 2005)

June: Miss Congeniality by Shelly Laurenston

July: One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost (Published: 2008)

August: Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard (Published: 2000)

September: Personal Research by Cari Quinn (Published: 2010)

October: Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare (Published: 2008)

November: Lucky’s Lady by Tami Hoag (Published: 1992)

December: Firsts by Rosalie Stanton (Published: 2010)

And before I forget, here’s to 2011 – may there be more books to read than I can ever handle – ALWAYS!

* * * H.A.P.P.Y. 2.0.1.1 FOLKS! * * *

Review: Below The Belt by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookbelowthebelt
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Blaze #404
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Cooper Fitzgerald
Heroine: Jamie Sawyer
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 1, 2008
Started On: December 26, 2010
Finished On: December 28, 2010

Though I have enjoyed reading a couple of sports themed romances (they have been far and few in between) this is the first of its kind for me. Even being not much of a sports buff in reality this book turned out to be delightfully good, no doubt a testament to Sarah Mayberry’s extremely talented writing abilities.

34 years old Cooper “The Fist” Fitzgerald is a heavyweight boxer who has held the position of being the best in the world of heavyweight boxing for 4 straight years before he had been forced to retire owing to a detached retina in his left eye which had occurred during his last fight. Doctors had given him a choice, either continue to fight and lose his eyesight or retire. Being the smart and driven man that Cooper is he had opted to go with the latter and open up his own fighter’s gym and take on fighters to train. Cooper’s childhood had been far from idyllic as he had grown up in a destitute household with a heroine addict for a mother and her constant string of abusive boyfriends who had taken to beating the shit out of Cooper whenever possible until he had left home opting to live homeless rather than subject himself to the constant abuse. At the age of sixteen Cooper had been discovered by the man who had trained and turned him into what he is today and he has never looked back since.

27  year old Jamie Sawyer is the daughter of the infamous Jack Sawyer who had held the title of the heavyweight fighting championship for five years before retiring only to make an ill fated comeback to be charged with fraud for throwing a fight. Jamie who had always worshiped the very ground her father had walked on, in whose eyes he could do no wrong had been devastated by the shock and betrayal that had run its course through her. Jamie had watched as her grandfather who had been a legend himself in the boxing world be shunned by those he considered his friends and died a little inside as she watched the toll it had taken on him. The final straw had come when her father had committed suicide leaving Jamie clutching at straws to make ends meet. And when her grandfather had had a heart attack following his son’s suicide, Jamie had promised her grandfather that she would erase the shame her father had brought on the Sawyer name if its the last thing she did. So Jamie had given up her training in naturopathy, dropped out of Tae Kwon Do club she was so good at and started training in the boxing ring. Sharing a ratty apartment with her grandfather and working long hours as a maid in one of the big hotels in the city, Jamie is a determined and feisty woman who sets her heart on obtaining Cooper as her trainer.

Cooper comes across Jamie at his friend Ray Marshall’s place when he approaches Ray to join his fighter’s gym. At first mistaking her for a housemaid, Cooper is nevertheless struck by instant lust at the sight of Jamie’s hard, fit and toned body in front of him. When Cooper finds out that the reason Jamie is there is to lure him into taking her on as fighter in his gym Cooper flat-out refuses to take her on, not because he is a male chauvinist but because he doesn’t believe that Jamie is serious about fighting and that she has what it takes. And even then, it doesn’t stop him from going to see Jamie fight, identifying the beauty of her moves and finally giving in and taking her on, not understanding the need that drives Jamie.

What takes both Jamie and Cooper unawares is the red hot lust that seizes them and clutches both of them in its throes refusing to let go. Being the commitment phobic logical thinking female Jamie is, she proposes that she and Cooper give in to the undeniable attraction between them so that they can both get each other out of their systems. Wary of even the slightest sign of anything other than just a physical connection, Jamie is not at all prepared for it when Cooper starts falling for her and even lets Cooper walk out of her life as her trainer only to be forced by the events that follow to finally acknowledge that Cooper had invaded into her heart without her knowledge. But even then, Jamie’s driving need to succeed for all the wrong reasons in the fighting world nearly drives these two halves of one soul apart making this a very satisfying read on all fronts.

Likes:

  1. Jamie Sawyer. She is one of the most different heroines that I have come across in the romance world and because of that I loved her to bits. She is strong, feisty, stubborn, determined to win at all costs, loyal to a fault and on top of all that she is so very vulnerable at the very core. But she hides her vulnerability from the rest of the world with the tough facade that she puts up, and it works most of the time that is until Cooper comes into the picture and all that just crashes down at her feet leaving her with no choice but to surrender her heart, body and soul to the one man who would never betray her trust. I liked the fact that Jamie didn’t just become a sweetly submissive woman overnight shedding her tortured soul to become a woman with a sunny personality and smiles all around. Rather she took her time getting there and even then stayed true to her self which is what eventually makes me her biggest fan all around.
  2. Cooper. He is hot, sinfully handsome, wickedly intense and oh my lordy when he is turned on he is sex personified. Cooper’s most endearing quality is his ability to love Jamie for who she is, the way he cherishes her and stands beside her in everything she wants to achieve in this world. Though it hurts something fierce in him to watch Jamie get battered up in the ring, he understands the fire driving Jamie to succeed and win big and at the same time he loves her enough not to give up when Jamie is being too stubborn for her own good. I totally and irrevocably heart Cooper  to bits.
  3. The true Blaze style sensuality in the story. This book packs a punch in the sensuality department and gives the reader all the right kind of tingles in all the right places in the style that I have come to recognize that is just uniquely Sarah Mayberry. From the first blazing hot smexing session that nearly knocked my breathe out to the slow paced actual act itself had me sighing, fanning myself and mooning all over Cooper and his well honed muscles. *gulp*
  4. Mmm.. I totally love the cover. Just wanna run my hands all over that slick, hot body of Cooper’s. *wink*
  5. And I absolutely loved the fact that this story kept me entertained, willing me to turn the pages that didn’t bog me down with unnecessary details of the fighting and kickboxing world and yet still managed to teach me a thing or two about it. As I said at the beginning of the review, Sarah Mayberry is so very talented and this story too is a testament to the fact. Makes me wonder why I kept this in my TBR pile for as long as I did now. *scratches head*

Dislikes: None.

Favorite Quotes

He didn’t want to want her. She didn’t want to want him. But he did, and she did. And if Dean didn’t do the trick tonight, Jamie honestly had no idea how to handle the situation. Human desire was a powerful thing. It had ruined marriages, brought down governments, destroyed dynasties. How in the hell was she supposed to stay strong when she saw the man every day? When he touched her time after time in the course of their work? When –
She caught movement out of the corners of her eyes and nearly groaned with frustration. He was peeling his tank top off, leaving his chest bare.
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.
She forgot to breathe for a moment as he balled his top in his hand and mopped his sweaty chest with it. He was beautiful. Great pecs, amazing abs, those big shoulders. Lucky she was already panting. As it was, she could barely keep her eyes off him.

“I’m not starting my training career by screwing one of my fighters,” he said.
Frustration and need welled up inside her. She knew he wanted her as much as she wanted him. She was so sure that this was what they needed – the release of it, the freedom of it.
She took a last step forward, so close that she could feel the heat coming off his body, so close that her nipples brushed his chest.
“You’re really going to let this go to waste?” she asked, holding his eyes as she slid a hand onto the long, thick ridge straining against the fabric of his shorts.
He felt so big and hard in her hand she almost purred with anticipation.
His jaw tightened as she gripped him through his shorts and rubbed her hand up and down his shaft, once, twice, maintaining eye contact all the while.
He swore and reached for her, hauling her against him and angling her head as he took her mouth in a fierce, no-holds-barred kiss.

“I want to make sure you’re not lying to me,” he said.
She stopped resisting and he slid both hands up to cup her face. He used the pads of his thumbs to survey her features with infinite tenderness, assessing her swollen lip, tracing the cut on her nose, mapping the puffiness around her eye.
“Sweetheart,” he said his voice deep with regret. “Sweet Jamie.”
His touch was so gentle, his concern for her so evident. Wet heat burned at the back of her eyes. The first tear slid hotly onto her cheek and splashed onto his chest.
“Jamie,” he said softly again, then he tugged her closer so that he could kiss her.
It was her undoing, before she knew it, tears were shuddering out of her and he’d pulled her down beside him on the bed to hold her tight.

Recommended for:

  1. Fans of sports-themed romances.
  2. Fans of Sarah Mayberry.
  3. Fans of the Harlequin Blaze line.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo 

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Review: Into the Crossfire by Lisa Marie Rice

Format: E-bookintothecrossfire
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Protectors, Book 1
Publisher: Avon Red
Hero: Sam Reston
Heroine: Nicole Pearce
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: July 27, 2010
Started On: December 24, 2010
Finished On: December 25, 2010

Lisa Marie Rice’s books are all about larger than life heroes that literally makes the pages come alive with their sheer masculinity and uber-alpha protectiveness. And her heroines are always ultra-feminine with a mighty fierce protective nature of their own that can surprise the reader a time or two. And her books always deliver the most sensually well done love-scenes that you can’t help but want more of where that came from. Into The Crossfire is done in classic Lisa Marie Rice style and the 1st book in The Protectors series was definitely a huge hit with me.

Sam Reston, former SEAL and owner of Reston Security is the type of hero any woman would wish to be by her side. As a baby Sam had been abandoned at a dumpster by his drug addict mother like a piece of trash and she had returned back for him when Sam had been around 8 years old spouting nonsense on being a changed woman ready to take charge of her son’s life. Life had been a nightmare for Sam during the couple of years he had spent with  his mother who had used up all state aide on booze and drugs, with the men who had inhabited her life beating the shit out of Sam whenever they got the chance. That era of his life had ended when a teacher had taken notice of what was happening to Sam for him to be placed in a foster home that had been run by a brutal couple. It is there that Sam had met his blood brothers Harry Bolt and Mike Keillor where 3 of them had had each others backs and looked out for one another till they had gone their separate ways. A blown up eardrum had ended Sam’s career as a SEAL where Uncle Sam had taken what he was by nature, refined it and spent millions of dollars to make him into one fine killing machine. A fierce protector of the weaker sex, Sam and his blood brothers band up to protect abused women and give them a fresh start away from the memories of the abusive lives that they had been subjected to till then. Now his own boss, Sam works hard putting scum of the Earth behind bars, going deep undercover for missions at times.

28 year old Nicole Pearce has led a charmed life till now and had grown up in consulates and embassies all around the world with her father’s career embedded in the diplomatic circles. Her father Nicholas Pearce was the most honorable man she had ever known and her parents had been the perfect example of a loving couple until her mother had been taken away in a brutal accident a few years back. Nicole had been enjoying living the single and carefree life working as a translator at the UN in Geneva until she had received the news of her father’s illness. With multiple brain tumors of the inoperable kind, the only thing Nicole’s father had wanted was to move back home to die in peace, something which Nicole moves heaven and Earth to accomplish for the man who has her undying devotion and love. Her love life had practically ceased to exist with all her energy going into starting up her translating business Wordsmith and being there for her father.

It is during one of those deep undercover missions with Sam looking like the worst scum to walk the planet Earth that he encounters classy and beautiful Nicole who at first calls Sam “Lowlife” in her mind. Not knowing who Sam actually is, Nicole pins the prickling awareness that hits her unawares whenever Sam is around to her distaste in his disreputable looks. Nicole is the type of woman that Sam has always stayed away from till now. From the moment Sam sees Nicole it is as if all other women on planet Earth has ceased to exist for him and Sam takes up on an opportunity to coerce a dinner date out of Nicole to woo her into his arms in true Sam style which totally backfires on Sam in the most delicious ways possible. Nicole is in for the surprise of her life when Sam defies everything she lays down on the table and sweeps her into his arms to give her the  most unforgettable night of her life.

It is quite by chance that Nicole is thrust into danger when she holds within her hands a document that can thwart a terrorist attack to be carried out on American soil by a Muslim mastermind working in the Wallstreet. Crippling the American economy and making Manhattan a radioactive wasteland by July 4th is their aim and nothing would sway them in their path towards the ultimate destruction of America and the West. When a ruthless killer known as Outlaw is dispatched to destroy the information and eliminate Nicole the brutal race against time begins for Nicole and Sam in identifying what it is that had painted a target on Nicole’s head. Filled with villains of the creepy kind, a hero who makes your insides go numb from sensory overload and a heroine who you just can’t help but fall in love with, Into the Crossfire is one of the best romantic suspense novels of 2010 for me.

Likes:

1- Sam Reston. I don’t even know where to start with what he made me feel all throughout the book. Ms. Rice has done a splendid job in creating Sam as a fierce hero who wouldn’t hesitate to die for those whom he loves. His sheer masculinity just leaps at you from the pages making you want to rub your hands all over him.  His utter focus on Nicole and the way she calls to that elusive something deep inside of him and because Sam doesn’t hesitate to claim her as his and treat her right, Sam earns all the love reserved for romance heroes and then some deep within my heart. ^_^

2- I loved the sensations that coursed through me as I read through each and every encounter between Sam and Nicole. I don’t know how Ms. Rice does it but I practically forgot to breathe through Nicole and Sam’s first encounter of the against-the-wall variety as Sam blazed through and Nicole urged him to put to an end the sensory overload that had begun in earnest right from the very beginning of the novel. I think the name Sam has something to do with hot-as-sin against-the-wall-encounters. Brings back good memories of Sam and Jaine going at it in Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard. ^_~

3- Nicole Pearce. She is beautiful, classy and down-to-earth as they come. Her fierce love for her father and her undying loyalty towards him during his last couple of painful days left made her one of the most endearing heroines that I have read about. Totally loved her! And yes, she is perfect for the silent and strong Sam in every way!

4- Tthis story left me begging for Mike and Harry’s story to be told. Harry’s story “Hotter than Wildfire” is to come out next March and I literally am rubbing my hands together in glee at the mere thought of it!!

Dislikes: Sometimes the numerous references to Nicole’s dying father and the circumstances that had forced her to give up her wonderful life and come to her father’s aide gets to be a bit too much. Yes, we all know that Nicole’s father is sick, terminally ill and that she had given up everything to come take care of him. Repetitive explanations of the circumstances gets a tad tiring after a while.

Favorite Quotes

Trembling, feeling as if she were stepping through an invisible barrier into another life, Nicole entered.
The house smelled good — of clean textiles and lemon polish and the sea breeze coming in from an open window, white cotton curtains billowing with the wind coming off the ocean.
A hiss, a metallic whump behind her and the door was closed and locked.
She was in.
She was going to do this.
Oh yes.
The next second her back thumped against the door and Sam Reston’s entire weight was against her as he kissed her wildly. Not the fragile, tentative kiss in his car. Oh no, this was as if he were trying to inhale her, while punching his skin through hers. A deep kiss, wild, going on forever.
Oh God, his taste! Like a fresh mountain stream pumped full of male hormones, calculated to drive any woman wild. His mouth ate at hers, coming at her from various angles, as if one weren’t enough. And it wasn’t.

Recommended for:

  1. Fans of Lisa Marie Rice.
  2. Fans of contemporary romantic suspense with a high dose of sensuality. I definitely loved this one!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

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Review: Command and Control by Shelli Stevens

Format: E-bookcommandandcontrol
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Holding Out for a Hero, Book 2
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd.
Hero: Trevor Wyatt
Heroine: Megan Asher
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: December 21, 2010
Started On: December 23, 2010
Finished On: December 23, 2010

My first book by Shelli Stevens was Dangerous Grounds, the first book in the Seattle Steam series which I read long before I started this review website of mine. But Dangerous Grounds has always lurked somewhere at the back of my mind as a book that I enjoyed immensely and I just might give in and revisit Gabe and Madison one of these days. So when I found out by following Ms. Stevens on Twitter that her latest release is all about a tortured hero who needs healing in all the ways possible, I didn’t hesitate to get myself a copy and indulge. And indulge is what I did as this short story delivered on all fronts and made all my senses come wonderfully alive with the raw sensuality between Trevor and Megan.

The story kicks off when Trevor walks into a coffee shop in his small hometown of Wyattsville to overhear the most notorious gossip in town declare that his ex-fiance Megan Asher was getting married. The streak of possessiveness that strikes through Trevor when he hears that someone else might claim his Megan is overwhelming to say the least. And it is with all this jealousy and possessiveness lurking close to the surface, almost ready to explode that Trevor confronts Megan to find out whether there was anything to the rumors floating around town.

Megan can’t believe it when without any warning Trevor walks in demanding to know whether the news that she was getting married that was circulating around town could be at all true. It is true that Megan had been the one to walk out on Trevor and their engagement but it had been Trevor who had really left their relationship after coming back injured from tour duty in Afghanistan, a man too haunted by memories that he had refused to let go or get professional help for him to heal. But leaving Trevor and trying to get over him certainly hadn’t worked at all when all Trevor had to do was just walk in for all her senses to come alive and slap her on her head for walking out on him.

With Trevor determined to win back what he rightfully considers as his, the heat is on as two people who have always shared a combustible passion between them fires up the pages in this delectable read. But compatibility in bed and out of it and a love that can last a lifetime certainly doesn’t seem to be enough when Trevor still ends up walking out on Megan afraid that by staying he would only end up hurting her. And it is Megan who remains undeterred in her conviction that she would help exorcise whatever ghosts that haunted Trevor and move them closer to the happily ever after that they both so much deserve making this book a lipsmackingly good read.

Likes:

  1. Trevor Wyatt of course! Was there any doubt in any of your minds about that? ^_^ Sexy, broody, tortured to the max and a possessive streak a mile wide when it comes to Megan, Trevor just makes my heart go thud, thud and my knees all wobbly with his mere presence. From the opening scene itself, everything feminine within me rejoiced in Trevor’s jealousy over the mere idea of anyone else claiming his Megan as their own. I definitely loved me some Trevor!
  2. Megan Asher. She definitely lives up to her character as in she is beautiful, smart, knows what she wants and doesn’t hesitate to work for what she wants no matter what happens which turned out to be her most endearing quality. Megan was wise enough to know what Trevor needs so that their relationship would have a standing chance  the second time round. Her plan to help Trevor certainly worked out well enough for her and for me as well. ^_^
  3. The hot, hot, hot sensuality between Trevor and Megan. I think my Kindle heated up a degree or two as Megan and Trevor, both with their take charge attitudes just simply combusted after a 1 year separation. Car smexing, shower smexing and smexing of the kinkier variety takes place, all very hot and all very well done!
  4. I loved the tidbits of Trevor and Megan’s shared past that made their forays into the story. Lent this story something extra of the wicked variety as well as in terms of character development.
  5. Command and Control certainly made me sit up and take notice of Kate and her crush on Todd Wyatt the youngest Wyatt of the 3 brothers. I have certainly added Flash Point, the 3rd book in the Holding Out for a Hero series which is to be published on March 2011 to my wishlist.

Dislikes: Though I know novellas are supposed to be pretty short, I just felt the ending was a bit too rushed. Of course things ended on a happy note but I would have loved it more if the ending had been just a tad longer.

Favorite Quotes

Trevor groaned and slid a hand into her hair, holding her head still as their lips met and parted, then his tongue slid deep to rasp against hers.
Heat exploded inside her, rocketing through her blood and making every one of her nerve endings tingle. She kissed him fervently, fumbling to undo the buttons on his shirt.
Tearing his mouth from hers, Trevor said, “We should go inside.”
“That would take too long.” She leaned down to bury her mouth against his neck. Her tongue flicking out over the pulse, finding the familiar salty taste of his skin she’d been craving for over a year. The taste of Trevor.
She closed her mouth around his flesh and sucked, wanting to leave her mark as if she were a sixteen-year old girl claiming the quarterback.

Recommended for: Fans of contemporary erotica. This one is hot and sizzling good!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo | Samhain

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Review: Collateral Damage by J.L. Saint

Format: E-bookcollateraldamage
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Plus Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Silent Warrior, Book 1
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd.
Hero: Jack Hunter
Heroine: Lauren Collins
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 14, 2010
Started On: December 18, 2010
Finished On: December 23, 2010

Like any reader, I am a bit apprehensive when it comes to trying out new authors, though that doesn’t stop me from trying out books on authors that I have never heard of because just sometimes, delving into the unknown certainly pays off when you find a book such as this one where the pages literally turn themselves with the fast paced action, romance and adventure that this one delivers – in spades.

Sergeant First Class Jack Hunter with more than 20 years of military experience under his belt also known as DT i.e. Double Tap because of his accuracy with headshots, wakes up in the ICU at the Walter Reed Medical Centre when the last mission where he had led his team members Rico, Pecos and Neil into the terrorist ridden areas of Lebanon where a group had kidnapped and held hostage the daughters of the Israeli Prime Minister and the US Ambassador had gone totally wrong. With Rico and himself seriously injured and Neil dead in the strike that had taken place, Jack is a man torn apart by the nightmares about the mission gone wrong and pieces that don’t seem to fit together. The one thing that Jack who has a strained relationship with his 6 year old daughter Livy after the hellish nightmare of a 7 year marriage with her mother Jill had ended up in divorce knows is that there is more than what meets the eye in what went down in Lebanon. With all his senses screaming at him to make sense of the blond and blue eyed American he had shot dead whose body had not turned up makes Jack all twitchy on the insides and makes him push himself to the limits to get back to the field before the shit hits the fan.

Lauren Collins with her 6 year old twin sons Matt and Mitch is just a month away from finalizing her divorce from Bill Collins the one man she had thought had been her Prince Charming who had later turned out to be the stuff made from nightmares. Right after Bill had taken up a job at BioLogics, a company that deals with invention of green technology as their PR executive and turned all secretive, their marriage had hit the rocks only to plummet deeper into abysmal when Bill began a string of extramarital affairs that had finally decided the fate of their marriage. And when Lauren receives the dreaded phone call in the middle of the night informing her that her husband had been shot dead in what appeared to be a random act of violence right after which her home is invaded by a masked gunman hellbent on searching for something Lauren has no clue of whatsoever, she barely manages to escape with her and her sons lives intact.

When the rough and tough looking six foot Jack Hunter with his square jawed and chiseled looks turns up on her doorstep commanding all her bedraggled hormones to take notice and clamor for his attention, he turns out  to be her only savior from danger that lurks wherever she turns. Lauren has no choice but to trust Jack with her and her sons lives as they race against time and try to piece together the cutthroat world of murder and mayhem that Bill had thrust his family into. As red-hot passion burns strong and sure like wildfire between Jack and beautiful Lauren so does a mad man’s thirst for world dominance that knows no bounds as he would go to any lengths to thwart those who stand in his way to prevent him from executing the perfect plan which would give him total power served on a silver platter.

Likes:

  1. Jack Hunter. He is broody, tortured and hot as sin!! I always love myself a tortured hero who knows what to do with his God given talents in pleasing a woman! And that’s not the only thing that drew me to Jack. He is loyal and wants to do right by what is his though he has had a hard time of things for the last couple of years. And on top of all that, he is black ops military. *sigh* Jack is utterly swoon worthy ladies, I solemnly swear by this! *swoons*
  2. Lauren Collins. She is perfect heroine material for the rough and tough Jack Hunter. With her sons she is the fierce mother tigress protecting her cubs, with Jack she is vulnerable and strong at the same time and what makes her unique is she doesn’t stand down and let Jack take all the control but rather she is an equal partner where she and Jack are concerned. Loved Lauren to bits.
  3. This story opened up my eyes to a lot of things that can go wrong with the precariously balanced “peace” that we take for granted in this world. Just add to it bad guys who are unscrupulous enough and have the means to manipulate the West and  the Islamic world as that happened in this story and you would have a global catastrophe of major proportions on your hands. Being a Muslim myself, I was a bit apprehensive when I started out reading and encountered the scene where Muslims had kidnapped the daughter of the Israeli prime minister. And I thought to myself, please don’t let this story be something where Muslims are portrayed as less than human and I was really glad of the sensitivity with which Ms. Saint handled the issue. There is no overly judgmental stuff going on in the story which brings home the hard truth of a war that was started by the Bush administration which has already cost the common man a lot more just a pretty penny from his pocket. Kudos to Ms. Saint for pulling this off so well.
  4. I liked the secondary stories that were taking place as the story unfolded. I liked how Ms. Saint didn’t overly make the story about the secondary characters, which is sometimes what happens when an author tries to juggle too many characters and their stories in one novel. She has laid the foundation nicely for this new series the rest of the books which has already landed on my auto-buy list. I am really looking forward to reading the story of the Delta Team commander Lt. Col. Roger Weston and Mari, the Muslim widow of Neil who dies in the op that is the starting point of this series and story.
  5. The cover. Believe it or not, the cover was what drew me to the story in the first place. I make it a point to surf through Samhain Publishing at least once a month to find out titles that might interest me. And when I looked into the eyes of the guy on the cover, I was baited enough to read through the synopsis and I have since then been looking forward to its release date which was earlier this month. This one definitely ends up on the fabulous cover list!  ^_^
  6. The creepy villain and his ever more creepy chimpanzee. Gives me the shivers of the bad kind even thinking about his warped mind. But he was a villain who certainly delivered enough to label him as one of the creepiest villains ever and lends the story the edge that it so well receives from him on the danger and adventure front.

Dislikes: As always the lack of a proper epilogue does rankle but not overly much since I hope I would be getting to see a bit of Jack and Lauren in the next couple of books in the series. ^_^

Favorite Quotes

Jack clasped her shoulders and turned her to face him. A fierceness had sharpened his chiseled features. His green eyes burned. “Bill Collins was a fool and completely unworthy of anything to do with you. Don’t waste any more of yourself on his stupidity.” He slid his thumb along her bottom lip, sending fiery need right to her core. Her stomach clenched and her body wept for more. “Another time, another place, I’d back you to that wall right there, or any place you wanted to go, and do everything in my power to wipe him from your mind.”

She grabbed his hand. He pulled her up and something happened. There was a shift in the inches of air separating them. Every nerve she had stood up and said, “Hello, baby,” to the obvious flare of desire in his eyes when he looked at her. His need seemed to equal the desperation of her own. She opened her mouth, imagining his kiss, imagining his firm lips claiming hers. The fire in his green eyes blazed white hot.

He caught on that she wasn’t focused on wanting answers anymore. Her gaze was on his chest, and hunger was in her eyes. She lid her palm down from his shoulder to touch the bruising by his left nipple.
The purplish injuries had faded to a yellowish-green, but the extent of the trauma he’d suffered was still visible. He gritted his teeth and tried to suck air into lungs that he had forgotten how to breathe. He grabbed her wrist, intending to pull her hand from his chest. Instead, he groaned and pressed her palm deeper into his skin. For just a moment, he told himself. It had been so long since he’d been touched, so long since he’d accepted physical comfort from someone else that he literally did not have the strength to pull away. That’s all his attraction was to her. He was a starved man and she was an appetizing woman.

Recommended for: Fans of romantic suspense who love books filled with non-stop adventure and red-hot passion!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo | Samhain

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Review: A Man for All Seasons by Heather MacAllister

Format: E-bookamanfoallseasons
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Blaze, #583
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Tyler Burton
Heroine: Marlene Walters
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 1,  2010
Started On: December 19, 2010
Finished On: December 21, 2010

The question utmost on my mind after finishing up this delectable, spicy and funny holiday romance is “Where on Earth has Heather MacAllister been all my reading life?”. I mean seriously! This book tickled all my funny bones unlike any story I have read of late and the funny bones weren’t the only ones that Ty tickled with his wickedly inappropriate thoughts about his friend Marlie who all of a sudden turns into a sexy siren that calls to his libido to carry her off into his cave and have his wicked way with her.

Marlene Walters or Marlie as she is known as is two years younger than Tyler Burton (Ty). Marlie and Ty’s parents are really close friends and so when they had been young Ty had ended up being Marlie’s reluctant playmate on several joint family vacations. Ty had always felt that he had got the worse end of the deal when he had always ended up babysitting Marlie and watching out for her when he would rather have hung out with kids his own age and as he grew older and his interest in the female populace had skyrocketed he would rather have spent his time wooing the girl who he fancied at the moment.

Years later, Marlie is all grown up, works from her home as a computer geek and is paying off her mortgage on her home, the mortgage a present from her ex-fiance who had just upped and left quoting that he just couldn’t handle it anymore. And when Ty whose house is under construction needs a place to stay, Marlie is more than happy to share and rent her home to live together. A year and a half of living together, Marlie discovers that certain things haven’t changed even with time and distance; her fascination with Ty, her friend who views her as nothing more than a pesky being who inhabited his childhood.

But things take an interesting turn when Ty in the guise of impressing his then girlfriend Axelle ends up buying Marlie twelve dates thinking that keeping Marlie busy dating them would get Marlie out of the house long enough for him to cozy up with Axelle. But what happens is the farthest thing from Ty’s mind when with a little makeover Marlie knocks his socks off, literally squeezing the very air out of him by making him realize that what he had been searching for all his commitment phobic life had been right under his nose all this time.

Likes:

  1. The uniqueness of this friends to lovers story. What makes this tale so unique is the way the story is told. Never does a moment go by that doesn’t make you want to grin from ear to ear or makes you want to laugh out loud in merriment. Witty dialogue alone is not what makes this book special, the story is mostly told from Ty’s point of view which certainly makes for an interesting read when his emotions and libido goes on full red alert and starts noticing Marlie for the delectable woman she is, the woman who is the ONE for him. And Ms. MacAllister certainly pulls no punches in delivering enough emotion to make you giddy once you are done! A delectable read indeed is this one. ^_^
  2. Marlie Walters. She is far from being perfect and at the beginning she is as sloppy as anyone can get which made me relate to her on a whole new level. I understood where she was coming from and that made this book the instant winner it was for me. I loved Marlie’s thoughts and her bubbly nature which fully complements Ty’s more serious and orderly nature.
  3. Ty! *Sigh* The guy just makes me go weak at my knees with all those wicked thoughts that races through his mind  each and every time that he tries to deny what he feels for Marlie. And when Ty does come to realize that it is Marlie with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life with, I found the way he tried to go about convincing Marlie of his intentions so cute and endearing.
  4. The sizzling sexual zing in the story. Though this book doesn’t pack a bunch of sex scenes of the explicit nature, I had a lot of fun reading and feeling the chemistry between Marlie and Ty skyrocket to unbearable levels with every encounter. That makes this book a Blaze worth indulging in!

Dislikes: None! Though I would have loved me an epilogue! Would have lent this story the perfectness it deserves.

Favorite Quotes

He was barely aware of Axelle slipping away and reappearing on the other side of the table to murmur in Paul’s ear. To do so, she had to stand right next to Marlie and Ty unwillingly compared the two women.
Axelle was tall and thin and darkly exotic. His type.
Marlie was creamy and lush. And jiggled. Not his type.
Right then Marlie’s gaze connected with his and his blood began to simmer.
Why? Why is she
not your type?
He couldn’t remember.

Ty took the brakes off his desire and it raced through him.
Angry Marlie-on-the-kitchen-floor was completely unaware of the cataclysmic shift in their relationship.
She looked up, and then straightened. “Is that all you plan to do? Stare down my dress? Or are you going to help me fi-”
Ty planted his hands on either side of her face and kissed her.
He hadn’t planned to kiss her, hadn’t even thought about kissing her. He hadn’t allowed himself. He’d just acknowledged a general desire that he had no intention of acting on, and refused to dwell on specifics.
Except while his mind had been keeping things fuzzy, his body had been very clear about what it wanted and who it wanted it with.
Marlie.

Recommended for:

  1. Fans of Harlequin Blaze titles.
  2. Fans of holiday romances.
  3. Fans of contemporary romances with enough humor and sexual zing to warm your insides through a cold wintry night. I loved this one to bits! ^_^

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo | Harlequin

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Format: E-bookheartoffire.JPG
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: None
Hero: Ben Lewis
Heroine: Jillian Sherwood
Sensuality: 3.5
First Published on: July 1993
Started On: 18th December 2010
Finished On: 18th December 2010

Review: Heart of Fire by Linda Howard

Format: E-bookheartoffire
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Pocket
Hero: Ben Lewis
Heroine: Jillian Sherwood
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 1, 1997
Started On: December 18, 2010
Finished On: December 18, 2010

Jillian Sherwood, daughter of the archaeologist known as Cyrus “Crackpot” Sherwood grows up with the love for archaeology and lost civilizations instilled into her long back when she had been just a young child fascinated by the stories of long-lost civilizations she had learnt of whilst sitting in the warm security of her father’s arms. When her father had died when Jillian had been 14 years old in the Amazon jungle on the expedition which would have proved once and for all that Cyrus didn’t have his head up in the clouds as all his colleagues and the rest of the archaeological community believed him to be, Jillian follows in his footsteps to become an archaeologist herself, something which becomes twice as hard for her because her father’s reputation lingers even long after his death.

The final straw comes when Jillian is overlooked as a possible candidate for the Ouosalla dig in East Africa, the biggest new archaeological find in decades funded by her employer Frost Archaeological Foundation. Even though Jillian is more than qualified to attend, she is not even considered because of her father’s reputation, which brings forth the burning desire in Jillian to actually delve into her father’s fascination with the Anzar theory of the Amazon being named for a band of warrior women who had lived deep within the jungle, this fascination of his which had played the main role in Cyrus being labeled as a “misguided” fool.

When Jillian’s half brother Rick Sherwood learns of the probable treasure, the “Empress of the Heart”, a big fat red diamond that supposedly exists in the lost city of Anzar civilization, its not long before Rick teams up with the unsavory Steven Kates who agrees to fund their expedition to find the city of Anzar. Because only Jillian knows the secret of the coded message left in her father’s books, they have no choice but to take Jillian along. It is in Brazil that Jillian first comes across the six foot tall, potentially lethal Ben Lewis who is to be their guide in the rough trek through the Amazon jungle and its river for the next two months or so.

From the moment Jillian lays eyes on the rough around the edges Ben, she instinctively goes on the protective mode knowing that here was a man who would be lethal to her heart, body and soul if she were even to give in an inch. Ben is more than surprised and a little bit aggravated as well to find his unexplainable fascination with a woman who does not even remotely fit in with the usual type of women he carouses around with. And though Ben tries to tell his wayward libido otherwise, his body clamors to possess Jillian as his own and brand her his. His practiced seduction techniques certainly do not seem to work on the cool and collected Jillian, who makes it her self appointed mission to not give into Ben’s caresses which leaves her senses begging for more of where that came from.

I liked:

  1. Ben Lewis. Its tough not to like a man who oozes sexuality from just his mere presence in the story. *fans self*
  2. Jillian Sherwood. Linda Howard knows exactly what we want from her characters and she certainly doesn’t disappoint us with Jillian. Independent to a fault, vulnerable and loyal and a stubbornness that makes Ben grit his teeth every now and then, Jillian and her acrid sense of humor certainly makes for an enjoyable heroine.
  3. The witty banter between Jillian and Ben. My God, I laughed out loud several times during the story, especially the parts where things never seem to go as Ben plans them with Jillian. She constantly manages to surprise and infuriate him with the lack of interest she shows towards his advances, a fact that just continues to aggravate and arouse Ben more and more throughout the story.
  4. The explosive passion between Ben and Jillian. One reason why Ms. Howard’s books always rate a re-read is the fact that she delivers in spades in the romance, adventure as well as the sensuality department in her stories. The scene where Ben claims Jillian in the middle of a thunderstorm amidst the downpour in the jungle made my senses all go on red alert! *mmmm..*

Dislikes: Umm.. nothing much but I felt that I didn’t get to learn more about Ben and his past which I yearned for throughout the story. Though the lack of his past didn’t in anyway diminish the full force of his personality, I would have loved knowing more about him than just his hyperactive libido which makes its presence known right from the very beginning. *wink*

Recommended for: Fans of Linda Howard and fans of jungle trek themed romances.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

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