Requested ARC Review: The Way That You Play It by B.J. Thornton

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: ContemporaryRomance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Hero: Trenton Michael Buckney, Jr.
Heroine: Caroline Curran
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 7, 2011
Started On: June 30, 2011
Finished On: June 30, 2011

The Way That You Play It by BJ Thornton set to release on the 7th of July is a novel that fans of romances who love a bit of music with their romance ought to read. It tells the story of the 29 year old Trenton Buckney who has lost all 3 jobs which he had been working to support his mother and baby sister. From Bibb City Georgia, Trent is down on his luck, a man at his wits end as to what to do to turn his life around whilst deep inside he fears that it might already be too late for him.

31 year old Caroline Curran is a song writer who has been cheated out of everything by her¬†slimy¬†ex-boyfriend who has dumped her for a much younger and happening singer. Caroline might still feel like bawling her eyes out every time she sees the much younger woman’s pictures plastered all over magazines but she is determined to get back every dime he owes her even if it means resorting to less than legal means to get what she wants.

When the beaten down looking Trent turns up looking for her,¬†courtesy¬†of Reyes, the man who seems to be hellbent on making a favorable impression on her and whose motives remain unclear to Caroline, she is¬†taken-aback¬†at first until she hears the magic that Trent’s voice can weave. From then on, Caroline is¬†determined¬†that she would pick up the pieces of her broken professional life and that Trent would be her means of achieving that.

Trent is afraid to let hope rein in and lodge itself permanently in his heart, afraid that everything will come crashing down the minute he lets his guard down and give into what Caroline makes him feel. As his music career moves forward so does his burgeoning feelings towards Caroline until his tenuous control on his emotions break finally, releasing them both to embrace a passion as heady as the beautiful music that they make together.

But Trent’s happiness is a short-lived one when his past actions come calling, forcing him to walk away from the only thing that his heart yearns for in its otherwise bleak existence. Their happily ever after when it comes is a hard won one which makes their union all that much stronger and their story a more wonderful one on all counts.

The Way That You Play It is a great romance that encompasses the struggles of a nearly broken man who emerges a winner through no small feat. Though Trent might not be your typical hero material, he is nevertheless a lethal combination of charm and a body that could provoke a saint to sin. Caroline is just the right woman for a man like Trent with her combination of sweetness and the iron grit that lets her dig her heels in when Trent pushes her away when he actually needs her love the most.

The story between the enigmatic Reyes and Caroline’s best friend Jackie is an interesting one that was left unresolved by the end of the story. I am hoping there might be a story loosely tied with this one in the future that would give them both a fitting happily ever after even though Reyes does come off as a bit of a snob and control freak in this story though he might have had the best of intentions.

The Way That You Play It is a beautiful and different contemporary romance that fans of the genre should give a go just to experience the difference. With two characters who makes you root for them right from the very beginning, The Way That You Play It would make for an ideal summer read to escape reality, one page at a time.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Omnific Publishing

[xrr rating=4/5]

Caliber Seal: GREAT READ!

Review: Smoke in the Wind by Robyn Donald

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Presents, #1104
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ryan Fraine
Heroine: Venetia Gamble
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 1988
Started On: June 29, 2011
Finished On: June 30, 2011

My God! Whoever says that Harlequin stories are only fluff would definitely have a tough time categorizing this title as such. Smoke in the Wind by Robyn Donald is a title that ended up in my TBR pile via a recommendation received from Amazon. I finally gave into my curiosity and sampled my first Robyn Donald last night and boy did I have a hard time letting the story go to catch some much needed shut eye last night because yes once you start reading, this is the sort of book that refuses to let go!

Television reporter Venetia Gamble meets the engimatic and handsome Ryan Fraine whose reputation precedes him as one of the best in her field during a function held to inaugurate the set up of the first private television station in New Zealand. Even though the cynicsm that lurkes close to the surface in Ryan’s eyes tells Venetia that he is a man best left alone, the explosive reaction that he seems to trigger with her baser emotions and seems to return in full makes her a slave to the fulfillment that he alone can give her.

23 year old Venetia has already learnt the bitter lesson of letting passion rule her life when she had been just 18 years old. Fiercely independent and not as sophisticated as she lets on, Venetia plays a dangerous game in perfecting the image that she thinks is what Ryan looks for in a woman though her ploy fails miserably when she falls in love with him only to have him fall for Venetia’s innocent and serene cousin Elizabeth.

Six year later, Venetia has made a life for herself and her five year old son John at her grandmother’s place in Austalia. And it is here that Ryan comes to seek her out, having bought the rights for her book which is to be made into a movie by the man himself. Elizabeth having passed away a year back, Ryan once again starts the dangerous cat and mouse game that they had played before with the passion that swirls between them stronger than ever, refusing to be denied even if giving in is the furthest thing Venetia wants.

With their son to consider, Ryan proposes that she marry him and give him the opportunity to once and for all slake the uncontrollable hunger that rules them both given half the chance. But the hurt and betrayal from 6 years back when Ryan had shattered the very foundation of her being when he had cruelly ended things with her has left its mark on Venetia who is ever more cautious and fools herself into thinking that she would ever be able to say no where Ryan is concerned.

Smoke in the Wind is an intense read that requires a lot from the reader and I revelled in the heady sensations that coursed through me every single minute of the story. Ryan is a hero that is hard to get on board with, his cruel treatment of Venetia because he can’t accept the fact that he is vulnerable to her as she is to him hard to accept. Still I found myself fascinated with his character and came to understand what it is that drives him to be his meanest when he is around Venetia.

Venetia on the other hand is strong, fiesty and independent and vulnerable to the very core where Ryan is concerned. Though she gives as good as she gets, she is no match for the strong connection that is between her and Ryan and has withstood the test of time, distance and immense betrayal and once again it is Venetia that opens up herself to the possibility that this time around with maturity and past mistakes to guide her, she would be able to reap the benefits of Ryan’s affections even if he might never come to love her as he did for his first wife.

If Robyn Donald writes all her stories with unapologetic honesty as this one, I am already a fan as Smoke in the Wind is a romance that fans of ruthless alpha heroes and fans of Harlequin romances ought not to miss. I would have loved to see Ryan brought to his knees and maybe see him grovel a little, hell a lot more but I suppose a gal can’t have everything she wants.

Memorable Quotes

He smelled so good, of warm, aroused male. And taste. On his probing tongue, in his mouth, lingered the faint essence of the wine they had had for dinner, but mostly her mouth accepted his own special flavour, potent, exciting, more precious than the best vintage champagne. And the feel of him, the hard, powerful muscles so pleasurably contrasted with the smooth, flowing silk of the skin over them, a magnificent masculine dichotomy which conquered all that was feminine in her.

‚ÄėYou,‚Äô he repeated, his voice heavy and hard, shaking with emotion he no longer troubled to hide, ‚ÄėI took one look at you and knew that that was it, I‚Äôd spent the last six years with hunger for you eating at my heart.‚Äô

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

[xrr rating=4.5/5]

 Caliber Seal: AMAZING READ!

Review: Now You See Him… by Anne Stuart

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Silhouette Intimate Moments, #429
Publisher: Silhouette
Hero: James Mackintosh Bond
Heroine: Frances Neeley
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 1, 1992
Started On: June 29, 2011
Finished On: June 29, 2011

Its being quite some time since I immersed myself in the magic that Anne Stuart alone can create with her ruthlessly determined and controlled heroes. Now You See Him is one of her much earlier books and a Harlequin romance at that but nevertheless still managed to pack a wealth of emotion into the 200+ pages of the story.

Now You See Him kicks off in quite an unusual way with the heroine Frances Neeley waiting for her to-be lover Patrick Dugan to come home after attending some demonstration in his cause for freedom for Ireland. However, the night does not end amidst a bed of roses but rather in a severe bloodbath as Patrick turns out to be a murderer, a liar and a terrorist for whom Francey had just been a means to an end.

Francey retires to the tiny island of St. Anne’s in the Carribbean to lick her wounds in private and to let the sun, sea and the beach work its magic on her raw, open wounds. When her cousin Daniel Traverse who owns the villa Belle Reste in which Francey is recuperating sends along seemingly harmless Michael Dowde recovering from a near fatal auto accident, Francey almost lets her guard down in thinking that no harm would come to her from Michael even when her instincts scream at her otherwise.

Michael’s mission while he gets back his strength is a simple one. Find out whether Francey is as innocent as she claims to be or eliminate her if else. But what he doesn’t count on is for someone as unremarkable as Francey with her brown hair, brown eyes and heart shaped face to get under his skin right from the initial onset.

When danger comes calling from the terrorist cell which Michael has been trying to hunt down for so long, he does the only thing that the 37 years of his life of living on the edge has taught him; protect Francey with everything he is even though he knows that the threat on his heart from the woman he is on the run with is a very likely possibility. For the first time in his life, Michael who weaves a web of deceit so great to protect Francey and his cover finds himself itching to possess the purity that is Francey, make her his and starts thinking foolish thoughts of a shared future which he has no right thinking.

Francey doesn’t fare any better when she is drawn towards the enigmatic Michael with his erotic looking hands, who fires up her desires unlike anything she has ever experienced. Though her heart warns her to stay away from a man whom she knows is not telling her the truth, Francey knows she would lay down her very life for this man with the many facets, who turns up at the most unexpected moments and who haunts her every waking thought and dreams when he is not around.

Now You See Him though a short novel doesn’t pull any punches nor takes any short cut in the adventure or the romance aspect of the story. Michael who goes by so many names is a man with a dangerous past, who knows that Francey would be far better off without him in the picture. However, he is as much a slave to the desire that unfolds between these two polar opposites, the strength of the growing feelings pulling them together regardless of danger or the consequences.

Michael is a hero who made my heart go aflutter, who made my senses go alive and who made me yearn and crave for his happily ever after. And I loved Francey because she identified with the real man behind all the facades to find Michael a man worthy of her trust and affections. Though many a reader may not like Michael as a hero and the story that unfolded, for me, Now You See Him is just the perfect sort of read to indulge and immerse myself in to escape reality.

Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart’s ICE series and for those who like their heroes a bit ruthless with an edge.

Favorite Quotes

Her tan had faded, she’d lost weight, and the bruises marked her body in the dim light. Stripping off his own clothes, he lay down next to her, drawing her unresisting body into his arms. “I don’t even know what they did to you,” he whispered against her skin, kissing the bruise on her shoulder. “I can see the marks where they hurt you, but I don’t know how badly. I don’t know if you’re ready for this.” He looked down at her, pushing her hair out of her face. “I only know I can’t wait‚Ķ”

And then it wasn’t slow at all. It was fast and hard and furious, the bed pounding beneath them, her hands clawing at his back, her mouth full of anguished entreaties, and he wanted to give her more, more, give her everything she asked, everything she didn’t ask. He wanted to give her his life, his soul, to pour everything into her and exist only in that moment.

Purchase Links: Amazon

[xrr rating=4.5/5]

Caliber Seal: AMAZING READ!

Review: Chasin’ Eight by Lorelei James

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Rough Riders, Book 11
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd.
Hero: Chase McKay
Heroine: Ava Cooper
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: June 28, 2011
Started On: June 28, 2011
Finished On: June 28, 2011

Chasin’ Eight by Lorelei James is the 11th book in her Rough Riders series. The Rough Riders series is one of my favorite western romances not only because sensual material is plentiful in the stories but because Ms. James creates characters whom with their faults and all you still manage to fall in love with at the end of the day.

Chasin’ Eight tells the story of the wild bull ridin’ Chase McKay. Like every single McKay that we have come across in the series, Chase too walks on the wild side too many a time until it all comes back to bite him where it hurts. Suddenly Chase finds himself on indefinite leave from the Professional Bull Rider’s World until he manages to get his act together. With a plan on how to get his life back, Chase heads home to Sundance, Wyoming where he comes face to face with Ava Cooper.

Heiress to the Cooper fortune, Ava is a Hollywood star who experiences the vicious side of the paparazzi when the man she has been going out with for the past couple of months professes to be gay on a public press conference. Humiliated that she hadn’t seen the signs sooner, Ava decides to take a break from Hollywood stardom and go lick her wounds in private where no one will recognize her. That leads her to Wyoming to crash in her friend Ginger’s husband Kane McKay’s trailer out in the middle of nowhere only to be roused from sleep by the most alluring specimen of man flesh she has ever seen.

Too bad that Chase has made a vow to stay off women for a month, otherwise he would have had the beautiful Ava beneath him before he drew his next breathe. But with sex out of the equation, Ava and Chase both strike a deal to try out being friends and keeping each other company in the journey Chase makes across the country to sharpen his riding skills. For the first time, Chase finds himself charmed by the company of a fully clothed woman though thoughts of getting down and dirty are never far from his or Ava’s minds.

For two people who come from totally different backgrounds and lead so different lives, Ava and Chase finds in each other a kindred soul who understands the other and between them an explosive passion that wouldn’t be bound by restrictions any longer. With red-hot passion comes strolling in feelings of the mushier kind, love that could last a lifetime if both Ava and Chase are willing to give it a shot.

Though Chasin’ Eight did not make my favorites list, nevertheless it was a great read which I enjoyed immensely. What I loved most about Chase’s story was how he slowly turned into someone better, climbing up from the rock bottom which he hits at the start of the story. The road trips that Ava and Chase makes across the country served to be where we get to learn more about both Ava and Chase, each of them growing up a little as the miles pass. Undeniably true to trademark Lorelei James style, scenes of passion are smokin’ hot and I loved each and every one of them.

Though this one doesn’t incorporate much of the rest of the McKay brood, this one certainly made me sit up and notice Ben, Chase’s brother who has certainly been hiding some of his very interesting qualities which hopefully will be brought to light in the next installment of the series. Raunchy hot lovin’ with emotional wrangling goodness is what you will find here and this one would definitely make a great summer read!

Recommended for fans of the Rough Rider series. And the good news for those who are new to the series, this one can be read as a standalone!

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

[xrr rating=4/5] 

Caliber Seal: GREAT READ!

ARC Review: Man Law by Adrienne Giordano

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Private Protectors, Book 1
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Vic Andrews
Heroine: Gina Delgado
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 4, 2011
Started On: June 27, 2011
Finished On: June 27, 2011

Man Law by Adrienne Giordano is the debut novel of the Private Protectors series set to be released on the 4th of July by Carina Press. Lately Carina Press has published some very great books which in turn has introduced voracious readers such as myself to a number of fabulous and really talented authors for which I am forever grateful to Carina Press.

Man Law tells the story of the sexy Vic Andrews with his distracting goatee and his unwanted attraction towards his best friend Mike’s younger sister Gina Delgado, a single mother with three kids, who has been a widow for the past four years. Vic is a man who lives by and follows only his Man laws and he screws that up royally when he has mind numbing sexual encounters with Gina in the basement of her house, at the beach and the next time in her kitchen. Though Vic and Gina both brush those off as brain farts, they both know that the underlying attraction that always ignites whenever they are together won’t be brushed aside just that easily.

When one of Vics’s assignments come back to haunt him and the target this time is Gina and her kids, Vic knows that he won’t let anything happen to them as long as he is able to draw breathe from his body. To say that Vic has commitment issues and emotional garbage is to put things mildly. But Gina is determined that Vic decide once and for all whether what they have between them is worth exploring or walking away from. What Gina wouldn’t back down from is that she won’t say yes to a relationship with a man who puts his life constantly in danger, having once already gone through hell after the untimely death of her husband.

What made Man Law such an interesting story was because of the way the author brings in all the characters and let them do their thing. Lily, Gina’s youngest is so adorable that you can’t help but grin at her conversations with Vic who might think he is clueless when it comes to kids but does so very well in that department as well. Gina fights for what she wants and when it is Vic that she sets her sights on, she doesn’t let him that easily off the hook when the last thing he wants to do is talk about how he feels.

The twenty four hour surveillance that Taylor Security pulls off on Gina’s family certainly brings Vic that much closer for the first time in his life to saying yes to commitment, but for Vic that might not be what fate has in store for him when he leaves Gina to hunt down his enemy, knowing that without that final act of vengeance on his part, he would never ¬†be able to look himself in the mirror ever again.

I just flat-out loved Vic’s sense of humor and the way his thoughts filter out to bring a smile to the reader’s face even during the most charged moments in the story. The thing that drew me in the most was that every part of the story felt real from the humor to the teenage crabby issues to the passion and love that flares between Gina and Vic. And if I hadn’t already been half in love with Vic by the end of the story, the last chapter would have convinced me to go all the way as I just simply adored the ending.

Filled to the brim with humor, sizzling sexual tension, romance with a love that grows on you, Man Law is a summer read not to be missed out on!

Recommended for those who love romantic suspense, adventure and romance in one setting.

Definitely looking forward to the rest of the novels in the series.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Carina Press

[xrr rating=4.25/5]

Caliber Seal: AWESOME READ!

Review: Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Series: Psy-Changeling, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Hero: Vaughn D’Angelo
Heroine: Faith NightStar
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 6, 2007
Started On: June 25, 2011
Finished On: June 26, 2011

Now that I have started on my mission to get that much closer to reading Kiss of Snow, the story of the delectable alpha of the SnowDancer’s pack, I am slowly making my way towards reaching my ultimate goal which hopefully I should by sometime next month. The second book in the Psy-Changeling series tells the story of Vaughn D’Angelo, jaguar shifter and sentinel of the DarkRiver pack, a changeling whose animal lurks closer to the surface than most because of what he had to endure at a young age.

Vaughn is a changeling whose far the happier with his single and alone status. For someone who cannot understand the whole lure of the mate for life concept and especially one with a Psy who are famous for their lack of emotions, Vaughn is the one who is most surprised when his jaguar takes an exception towards the sleek and beautiful red-haired Psy that breaks out of her own compound to seek out Sascha, his alpha’s mate.

24 year old Faith NightStar of the PsyClan NightStar is considered the most powerful F-Psy of her generation. F-Psy have the ability to foresee the future and thus this makes Faith who always makes accurate predictions invaluable in the field of commerce for which F-Psy are used for. The one thing that F-Psy are also famous for is their vulnerability to death by clinical insanity which is something Faith has been conditioned to fear all throughout her life.

When dark dreams and visions continue to haunt her and those culminate in the murder of her sister Marine, Faith knows its time to seek out answers for all the questions that seems to plague her of late. Knowing that none of her own kind would be forthcoming with the answers that she requires, Faith seeks the one Psy she knows wont have anything to gain or lose by telling her the truth.

When she encounters the beautiful and lethal looking Vaughn, Faith never factored into the circumstances that Vaughn would be able to reach out to her on a level that is deemed impossible on any Psy. Though Faith has a hard time accepting the sensory overload that even Vaughn’s subtle touches seem to invoke, she can’t help but want more of the same though Faith is torn between the two worlds that beckon her from both ends.

Vaughn knows that he is a goner when he realizes that he is mated for life with someone who can choose to walk away from him, and that breaks his jaguar apart unlike anything else. When Faith finally makes her decision to leave the Psy world behind, it brings the ferocious jaguar to his knees, whose need for sensory stimuli from his mate has him all tied up in knots.

Once again Nalini Singh delivers on all accounts with the second installment in the series and though neither Vaughn nor Faith appealed to me on the same level as Lucas and Sascha did, nevertheless their journey towards happily ever after proved to be an engrossing read. As the stories continue to unfold, I am sure so will the atrocities the Psy Council members are involved in would come forth until the whole Psy world will unravel within itself to bring about a much needed revolution to its race.

Loved the glimpses of Sascha and Luke in this one as well together with Hawke’s minor entry into the story which didn’t go unnoticed. I am pretty excited to read the next installment in the series, this time around featuring a male Psy and a female wolf. Can’t wait to see how things will turn around with the role reversal in play.

Recommended for fans of Nalini Singh and fans of the Psy-Changeling series.

Favorite Quotes

His hair was a thick amber-gold, long enough to brush his shoulders, and his eyes … they were an odd almost-gold, the eyes of a cat made human. There was nothing soft about him, nothing tame. Yet she, a woman who’d never before understood the concept, found him beautiful. It was an inexplicable reaction, one her brain couldn’t accept, going as it did against every rule of Silence.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Book Depository

[xrr rating=4/5]

Caliber Seal: GREAT READ! 

Review: Outlaw Bride by Jenna Kernan

Format: E-book
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Harlequin Historical Series
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Cole Ellis
Heroine: Bridget Rose Callahan
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 1, 2008
Started On: June 23, 2011
Finished On: June 23, 2011

This book caught my eye whilst searching for another book with the same title. The blurb sounded promising enough and within minutes I was engrossed in this tale that tells the story of how 2 people survive against all odds until rescue comes calling.22 year old Bridget Rose Callahan is a woman who is determined that she would brave the harsh conditions of the brutal winter weather up in the Cascades mountain to save the last of her family members, no matter what it is that she has to do to achieve it. At her wits end, Bridget seeks the help of 26 year old Cole Ellis who is on death row, awaiting the hangman’s noose almost as if in anticipation.

What Cole wants more than anything else is to forget his past, his failures and to say goodbye to a world that has dealt him nothing but one blow after the other until he is ready to kneel down and admit defeat. When Bridget seeks him out, Cole doesn’t have a clue as to just to what lenghs Bridget is ready to go through to rescue her family.

Breaking Cole out of prison seems to be the easy part of the rescue attempt as the authorities turn out a full fledged search for the only man who is capable helping Bridget out. There are a lot of hardships that these two go through and added to the story are the accounts of how those that are left behind in the mountains barely make it through. Added to this potent mix is the heady desire that both Cole and Bridget start to feel for each other, Cole a man who has sworn off women and Bridget a woman who swears that no man would get the better of her ever again.

The culmination of the horrific journey towards safety doesn’t mean a victory for everyone as Cole who suddenly very much wants to live again finds himself back in custody and it is Bridget’s bravery that yet again serves as the catalyst that brings them all the happily ever after which they so rightfully deserve.

For me, the best thing about this novel was Bridget whose unwavering faith and courage were what pulled everyone through the tight spots within the story. This is not your average boy meets girl and falls in love Harlequin but rather a story that tells the tale of immense courage with a mix of pretty emotion wrangling material that makes for a good read.

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

[xrr rating=3.75/5]

Caliber Seal: GOOD READ!