ARC Review: Run from Fear by Jami Alden

Format: E-bookrunfromfear
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Trilogy, Book 3
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Jack Brooks
Heroine: Talia Vega 
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 1, 2012
Started On: February 25, 2012
Finished On: February 28, 2012

Run from Fear by Jami Alden is the much coveted 3rd book in the untitled trilogy that showcases Jami’s remarkable ability in delivering romantic suspense the way we readers crave them. Anyone who has read the 1st book in the series entitled Beg for Mercy would have encountered the larger than life Jack Brooks and definitely craved to learn more about the man behind the intimidating figure. I belong in the said group and when I saw this title up for grabs at Netgalley, I quickly seized my chance get my hands on a copy. Though I was disappointed in the book when compared to the previous 2 books in the series, Jami Alden still manages to deliver a decent romantic suspense that makes for a none too shabby a read.

Talia Vega is slowly making a life for herself in an affluent corner of California, having survived one of the most horrific incidents a woman can ever go through. Two years of her life spent in hiding with her younger sister Rosario in tow means that Talia appreciates the freedom that life has offered her with the death of the man who had made her a slave of his in every way. Talia’s regrets in life are many, and the way she looks at herself and comes up lacking is one of the many scars left behind with many more, some of them even physical in nature. Talia’s only aim is to give her sister everything she has got to give and though she feels those tendrils of unease coursing through her every now and then, she lets them slide through never knowing that her days of enjoying peace, serenity and order in her life are quite numbered.

Jack Brooks is ex-military and works in the security business. From the moment Jack had encountered the sexy siren version of Talia, Jack had been a goner. And watching Talia pick up the pieces of her tattered life and come out fighting the demons that must haunt her just makes Jack feel emotions of a stronger nature towards a woman who already has him on a dangerous edge. Jack stays on the sidelines, never letting Talia know just how much he is affected by her, and only re-enters her life 2 years later in order to severe the ties that binds him to her, or so he tells himself.

But so it happens, danger is never too far from Talia and Rosario and once again Talia is the focus of a stalker who would stop at nothing to complete a legacy that he claims to be rightfully his. Jack once he learns of the danger is as unmovable as a ton of steel and whether Talia wants it or not, Jack is around to stay until he can once again breathe easy, knowing that Talia and Rosario would remain safe from the clutches of mad men.

As always, Jami Alden does a superb job out of creating a villain, whose vicious thoughts alone is enough to give a person the shivers of the bad variety. But knowing who the villain was right from the very start somehow stole all the glory from the suspense aspect of the story, though the nature of the villain’s fascination with Talia and how he goes about securing access to Talia is one that was splendid.

Talia was a tough nut to crack. Though she is beautiful, smart and independent, she has a lot of self esteem issues, understandable when throughout her life men had deceived and made use of her. Talia is not ready for a relationship, especially not with someone like Jack who makes her feel uncomfortable and tingly all over, all at the same time. Talia is cautious with whom she gives her trust, and comes across as a bitch sometimes and makes life pretty much miserable for Jack who adores the very path that she walks on. And maybe it was because of that reason that I couldn’t like Talia much though she makes for a strong heroine in most of the ways.

Now, Jack Brooks is the type of hero that I salivate over all the time. I like larger than life heroes and Jack is one of them whose sheer size is in direct contrast with his gentle nature. He has “knight in shining armor” syndrome, something that had been triggered due to the abuse he had witnessed and gone through as a child. And when it comes to Talia, Jack’s over protectiveness is something to behold, his utter lack of control around Talia something to be savored. His gentleness around Talia who is skittish as a newborn colt when it comes to expressing sexual desire was one of the best aspects of his character. I totally fell for him because Jack is a man who is willing to do anything, and I mean literally anything to be with the woman he loves, to protect and cosset her and give her the life that he feels she deserves. 

So, even though certain elements within the story didn’t work that well for me, Run from Fear still made for a great read, Jack Brooks’ character the reason I am bumping the rating from the “good read” range to the “great read” range. 

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of Jami Alden. Jami certainly knows how to deliver on heroes that would appeal to the female readers and Jack Brooks is no exception.

Favorite Quotes

[Jack] “Don’t kid yourself for a fucking second that I don’t feel anything for you.”
Her lips parted in shock, but before she could get a word out, he covered them with his own. She made a high, startled sound in the back of her throat.
Pleasure, red, blinding, exploded through him at the first taste. Sweet, spicy, better than all his fevered imaginings. Her lips soft and giving against him, her tongue delicious and moist as he sucked it into his mouth.

She couldn’t deny him anything. She reached behind her and unhooked the bra, leaving breasts completely bare to his stroking hands.
Her mouth sought his, licking, sucking, leaning into his touch as she tried to tell him without words how much she wanted him, needed him. How desperate she was for his touch, how she’d needed him, needed this, all along and hadn’t even realized it.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BoB | Book Depository

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Review: Bluestone Homecoming by M.J. Fredrick

Format: E-bookbluestonehomecoming
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Welcome to Bluestone, Book 1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Leo Erickson
Heroine: Trinity Madison
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 31, 2012
Started On: February 17, 2012
Finished On: February 25, 2012

M. J. Fredrick has a talent for creating characters that one can always relate  to. The romance that sizzles is always an added incentive to seek her books out because I for one am always certain that if the book is written by M. J. Fredrick, I wouldn’t ever have a reason to regret my purchase.

Bluestone Homecoming is the debut novel in a series centered around the small town of Bluestone. Leo Erickson is the hotshot war correspondent that had always felt the need to get away and had done so as soon as he could from his hometown Bluestone. And now Leo is back, the first step he takes in making amends towards his son Max whom he had left behind, too taken up on his own grief after the death of his wife to take care of his son’s needs. 

Trinity Madison is the Bluestone Elementary School counselor and is the daughter of a Reverend, still paying for her one indiscretion during her youth, one which her family still hasn’t forgotten and won’t let her forget or forgive herself. When Leo comes into town, her emotions take a leap in a direction it hasn’t for the past 8 years and Trinity is both scared and in anticipation of what could come out of a brief fling between herself and Leo with Leo uncertain of how he wants to proceed with his future.

Leo never takes into account how he well he might settle into small town life, especially with the way Trinity makes him feel deep inside as if he could once again be happy and have a second chance with his son with whom he has a difficult time at first. But Trinity’s secret when it comes out, would it have the power to drive them apart or would Leo be the man Trinity believes him to be deep in her heart, the man who would save her from her endless guilt and give her the love and support that she needs to move on with her life.

Bluestone Homecoming starts out a bit slow, laying down the foundation of the series, introducing the reader to the wholesome and charming and sometimes intriguing characters of Bluestone. Once the story picks up pace and things start happening, Bluestone Homecoming definitely pulled me in and charmed the socks off of me. Leo and Trinity both being likable characters made for an endearing couple, the attraction between them somehow sweet and sizzling hot at the same time. Leo’s relationship with his son Max was one of the most beautiful aspects of the story. That initial awkwardness and the pain both of them have never let out since the death of the woman who had meant the world to them is one that had my heart going out for them. 

Bluestone is a town that has been hit hard by the financial climate and it was heartwarming to see all of them band up together to find a way to generate more income for their small community. Leo finds his footing and his place in Bluestone through this process of helping the town remake its image, in getting involved with ordinary day-to-day life that somehow ends up being moments that he starts savoring once he gets into the groove of things.

Though the ending was a bit rushed, I decided to forgive M. J. because she has got the next book out already and Quinn and Lily’s book which I am counting on to be explosive and already my most favorite couple from the series would be out latest somewhere in March. Couldn’t ask for a better birthday present for myself if Lily and Quinn’s story turns out to be everything I expect it to be and I am certain M. J. won’t disappoint.

Great introduction into a heartwarming series whose characters, the scene and the setting worms their way into your heart before you know it.

Favorite Quotes

He closed the door behind her and turned, blocking her view of the surprisingly neat room to crowd her against the door. “I’ve wanted to do this all week. Even dreamed about it this morning.” And he touched his lips to hers.
She curved into the warmth of his body, wrapping her arms around his shoulders, her fingers tunneling through his hair as he dipped his tongue between her parted lips, stroking, playing, teasing. 

The next thing she knew, he’d turned her so her back was against one of the wider trees. He stroked the hair back from her jaw and kissed her, his mouth hot and hungry. She returned the intensity, her arms around his shoulders, her fingers in his hair, her body pressed against him as if just that could ease the ache coursing through her. His hands molded her waist, bringing her closer, his tongue stroked between her lips in a rhythm that made every nerve sing.

He lifted his head and looked into her eyes as he tugged at her shirt, pulling it from beneath her, pulling it over her head until she lay beneath him in her bra, and an insubstantial one at that. His nostrils flared as he took in the sight of her in the dim light, and he trailed his fingertips over the slope of her breast to touch her extended nipple. She held her breath in anticipation as he paused, then rolled it between his fingers. When he bent his head, she closed her eyes, and let the heat of his mouth become the focal point of her world.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Smashwords

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Review: Once a Good Girl… by Wendy S. Marcus

Format: E-bookonceagoodgirl
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Medical Romance
Series: Madrin Memorial Hospital, Book 2
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Kyle Karlinsky
Heroine: Victoria Forley
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 1, 2012
Started On: February 19, 2012
Finished On: February 19, 2012

25 year old Victoria Foley is a perfectionist when it comes to everything that she does. Always the good girl whose childhood had been the furthest thing from ideal, Victoria’s only rebellion as a teenager had come when she had gotten involved with the bad boy of the town and ended up pregnant at the age of sixteen.

26 year old Kyle Karlinsky left home under duress and is now back, partly with the intention of showing those who had thought he was good for nothing that things had turned out quite well for him in the end. Holding a doctorate in Physical Therapy, Kyle is surprised when he encounters Victoria at the Madrin Memorial Hospital working as a nurse and not as the doctor that she had dreamed of becoming ever since he had known her.

The biggest surprise of all comes from the fact that Kyle is a father to an 8 year old boy and the fact that Victoria had never deemed it important enough to seek him out to let him know. Naivety and mistakes on both sides in believing the lies that had been fed to them both to drive them apart comes out into the open to clear up the air, but would Kyle be able to convince the prim and proper Victoria that his wild and impulsive nature is just what she needs in her life forever and ever?

Wendy has a way of writing heroes that are heartwarming, sweet, sexy and endearing and Kyle is no exception. Kyle has a lot of hurt bottled up inside of him, anger at the double standards that had existed in his hometown that had always found a reason to blame him for anything bad that happened. I loved him for his innate kindness, that inner strength that refuses to back down from a challenge, and of course his understanding of the woman who brings a whole new meaning to the word complex, but whom he loves with every fiber of his being.

Victoria is a heroine who is a bit hard to get into. She is ambitious, there is no question about that, but her love for her son surpasses any other ambition she might have and it is her desire to give him a sound future that has her juggling a hectic career amidst the hurdles of being a single parent. She is fiercely loyal and independent and has a painful past from which she still suffers, something that Kyle with his gentle yet searing touch heals and that was indeed one of the defining moments of the story. I loved the beautiful marriage proposal tucked inside the epilogue and cannot wait for the 3rd book in this series to come out.

If you loved medical romances with heart, give Wendy S. Marcus a try. She is an author who definitely knows what she is doing.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BoB | Harlequin

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Review: The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst

Format: E-bookthemarriagebargain
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Marriage to a Billionaire, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Hero: Nicholas Ryan
Heroine: Alexandria Maria McKenzie
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: February 14, 2012
Started On: February 18, 2012
Finished On: February 18, 2012

All romance lovers out there, make way for the superbly talented Jennifer Probst who has succeeded in earning herself an auto-buy spot on my already long list of authors whose books I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase. Not only do I immediately purchase Jennifer Probst’s books, but I stop everything I am reading at the moment and plunge into her books with an enthusiasm that tells a story of its own.

27 year old Alexandria Maria McKenzie (Alexa) is in a bit of a dilemma. She needs a husband, preferably with $150,000 to spare and she needs it fast. Brushing aside her ideals and her image of the perfect husband to share her life with isn’t easy for Alexa. But she will do it because she is willing to do everything in her power to rescue her family home. And so Alexa casts a little love spell, all the while feeling a bit silly but nevertheless hopeful that Mother Earth would send her way, a man who would meet all those qualities that she wants in a man together with that wad of cold hard cash to give as well.

30 year old Nicholas Ryan (Nick) is in a bit of a fix as well. Nick has a fortune at his fingertips, but his Uncle Earl had changed all the rules of the game at the last minute and left him hanging. His dream of owning Dreamscape, the architectural firm that brings out all his emotions and creativity in one stride would belong to him, only if gets married before the stated time is up. Nick is a man who doesn’t believe in happily ever afters, large families and the strength of a love between two people that defies all odds and logic. And he is certainly the direct opposite of what Alexa envisions as a husband for herself and nor is he too thrilled to know that his only viable option of a wife for a year is none other than his childhood tormentor Alexa herself.

14 year since that humiliating experience that had broken Alexa’s heart, she meets an altogether more controlled and formidable Nick, whose cold and hard way of looking at a marriage leaves a lot to be desired. But Alexa is desperate enough and thus she enters into a bargain which would give them both a marriage in name only, merely a business transaction on both sides, cold and aloof right from the onset until the 1 year period is up and both parties go their separate ways. But neither Alexa nor Nick thinks of those messier emotions that could botch things up, or those tendrils of desire that slowly erupts, leaving them both wanting more and brings in the possibility of that elusive thing called love that could last a lifetime.

Jennifer Probst surprised me with The Marriage Bargain. I was already in high anticipatory mode when I started on the book, knowing that Jennifer would not disappoint me. What surprised me, and all in a good way I must add, was the thread of humor that was introduced into the book right from the very beginning. Humor and red hot passion is an unbeatable combination in any romance novel and I was a goner from the first chapter itself.

Alexa was a character I loved right from the very beginning. Her sense of humor, her loyalty and kindness, the way that she gives everything she has got with no expectations of gaining anything back in return were some of those traits that drew me towards her in the same way way that Nick continued to be as the story progressed. Alexa is a woman who is comfortable with who she is, a woman who is helplessly drawn towards her husband as she had been when she was much younger and more naive, already in love with a man who had no illusions about love and happily ever afters. And Alexa’s well rounded family certainly makes for a heartwarming addition to an already character driven story that proved to be of the unputdownable kind. 

Nick *sigh*, Nick is a character I am going to be remembering for a long, long time. He is a man torn between the desire he feels for his altogether too alluring for her own good wife, a woman who confuses and befuddles him as no other woman ever has and his need for control that remains to be a thing of the past when Alexa steps into his life. He has no intention of staying around after the one year period is up  to see where  their relationship could go, already convinced that he would never make a good husband, a conviction born out of a childhood that had seen the endless battles of war waged between his parents.

The sexual tension that Jennifer so cleverly weaves into the story is of the scorching variety, the tingles and jolts that the reader experiences right along with Nick and Alexa one of the best parts of the story. Jennifer has a talent for building up the tension until it is an either do or die impasse that the characters reach, and the reader cannot help but be drawn towards the magic that unfolds that just left my throat parched, in dire need of a cool, tall glass of iced water to smooth things over. Without gushing further on this aspect, I will just let my quotes section do it for you.

And don’t let me forget the verbal warfare between Nick and Alexa, Nick finally meeting his match in every way. A woman who doesn’t back down, a woman who brings those little bits of color to his otherwise stark and empty life, showing Nick that life as he had known it is no longer an option for him. It is Alexa’s patience when it comes to Nick, the way she draws the inner soul inside of him that years to embrace those emotions which Nick is afraid to name that just makes this one of the best romances I have read in a long while.

A passion that is explosive as the love that unfolds is tender, a beautiful happily ever after that encompasses everything; Jennifer Probst delivers a fiery and wild romance that goes straight to your heart.

Highly recommended!

Favorite Quotes

[…] Some parts were totally inappropriate. The corded length of his arms. The broad shoulders and chest that stretched and molded the fabric. The deep bronze of his skin as if he had been lying in the sun for hours. The animal litheness of his movements. He had grown up, and he was no pretty boy. Nick Ryan was all hot-blooded man—and still looked at her as Maggie’s little playmate. 

“Your mother’s coming,” he said.
“I know—she probably heard us arguing. Do something!”
“What?”
“Anything!”
“Fine!” He grabbed her around the waist, dragged her body flush against his, and ducked his head. His lips crushed hers as his hands wrapped around her tightly so they were plastered against each other, hip to hip, thigh to thigh, breasts to chest.

She expected a precise, controlled kiss to calmly show her mother they were lovers. Instead she got hot testosterone and raw sexual energy. She got warm lips melded over hers. His teeth nipped. His tongue burrowed inside and plunged in and out with sheer command, bending her back over his arm to take every last drop of her resolve.

He’d been ready to push her away, and then she’d grabbed him at her mother’s call. Wasn’t his fault he gave in to instinct to save their ruse.
Until her hot, wet mouth opened under his. Until her sweet taste swamped his senses, and the maddening scents of vanilla and spice made him want to howl at the moon. He finally knew she approached sex the same way she approached anger—no holds barred—no prisoners taken. Demanding. Punishing. Passionate.

She waited as he perused the room, skated over her, stopped, then came slowly back.
Their eyes met.
Alexa hated clichés, and what she hated most was becoming one. But at that moment, her heartbeat thundered, her palms sweated, and her belly dipped and plunged as if on a rollercoaster ride. Her body went on full alert, begging him to come to her, promising him surrender. If he told her to go home, get in bed, and wait for him, Alexa was sure she’d follow his instructions.

Nick stood alone and watched her.
A strange emotion bubbled up inside of him. Since he’d never experienced it before, he couldn’t seek out a name. There was little left in life that touched him, and he admitted he liked it that way.
Tonight, something changed.

Nick knew the moment she realized her robe had dropped. Knew when the knowledge she was naked hit her full force. Watched her lips purse a small circle of horror right before sanity hit to make her reach for the robe.
Nick used his two-second time span to make a decision.
Her fingers started to yank up the material when he blocked her motion, lowered his head, and stamped his mouth over hers. Shock held her immobile and he used the time to his advantage. One quick thrust parted her plump lips and allowed him entry—entry to every slick, feminine heated corner of her mouth. Drugged on the taste of her, he circled her tongue with quick, urgent strokes, begging her to give it all back to him.
And she did.
Full power.

He closed the distance another tight inch. Her breasts pressed against his chest, and her nipples were hard little points stabbing out of the scarlet material, begging to be freed. Her breath came in ragged gasps, her perfume swamped his senses. He grew hard, and her eyes widened as his full length throbbed against her leg in demand. 
“I’m calling your bluff, baby.” 
Pure shock registered on her face as he removed one hand from the wall to casually unbutton his shirt, slide off his tie, then grasp her chin with a firm grip. 
“Prove it.” 
He stamped his mouth over hers, not giving her a chance to think or back off or push him away. He invaded her mouth, plunging his tongue inside the slick, silky cave, then closed his lips around the wet flesh and sucked hard. 
She grabbed for his shoulders, and made a little moan deep in her throat. 
Then she exploded.

He tenderly mated his tongue with hers, stroking, tracing the swollen flesh of her lips in an action that bespoke pure humbleness. And when he opened his eyes and looked into hers, she sucked in her breath as he finally let her in, let her see it all, and gave her what she needed. 
The truth. 
“It’s always been you. I don’t want anybody else, I don’t dream about anybody else. It’s only you.” 
She cried out as he buried himself to the hilt inside of her. Her body opened and accepted his swollen length, hugged him deep and demanded more.

He surged upward and paused at her entrance. 
“Look at me, Alexa.” 
Half drugged, she opened her eyes and gazed at the man she loved with every part of her being, waiting for him to claim her, waiting to take anything he could give. 
“It’s always been you.” He paused as if to be sure she heard and understood the words. Intensity gleamed within amber depths. He gripped her fingers, as if trying to speak beyond words. 
“And it will always be you.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BoB

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Score Sheet Review: Catch Me by Jennifer Probst

Format: E-bookcatchmejp
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Series: 1 Night Stand, #89
Publisher: Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
Hero: Rick Steele
Heroine: Tara Denton
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: February 16, 2012
Started On: February 18, 2012
Finished On: February 18, 2012

 

CATEGORY SCORE GRADE
The hero 85 A
The heroine 85 A
Story line 90 A
Emotional Intensity 80 A
Story’s ability to suck me in 90 A
Heat & Sensuality  95 A
Conflicts within the story 90 A
Writing Style 95 A
Quotable Factor 80 A
The Ending 80 A
Overall Grade 87 A

Score Sheet Summary

Jennifer Probst always tells a good story. That unbeatable combination of likable characters, searing heat and sensuality that just melts you right on the spot and beneath all that her ability to convey the story that she has to tell is one of the reasons why I flat-out adore her books.

Catch Me is a very short and quick read that is part of the 1 Night Stand series from Decadent Publishing. Rick Steele is a man who refuses to allow himself to acknowledge that he is lonely, that he misses that elusive something which he doesn’t want to name. Rick allows himself to be talked into indulging in a one night stand, arranged by the infamous Madame Evangeline’s 1Night Stand dating service.

Tara Denton is a woman who has been scarred both on the inside and the outside by her previous boyfriend. Looking for a man who would teach her to look beyond the fear that cripples her whenever she tries to initiate physical intimacy, Tara doesn’t envision the “Thor” like personality that obliterates everything else that surrounds her to be the man to break past her barriers.

Their attraction towards one another is an immediate one that brings down the walls of resistance that Tara has built around herself. But one thing remains certain in Tara’s mind even as she gives herself over to the man whose tender, demanding and evocative touch brings her pleasure beyond anything she has imagined; that come morning she would leave because she doesn’t want to be beholden to any man ever again.

It was seeing Rick through Tara’s eyes that made me fall for him – big time. From the moment Tara envisioned Thor, I was hooked line and sinker. Tara’s vulnerability reached out to me from the very beginning and I wanted all good things for her, things I knew that Rick would be able to give her once she gave herself up to his magical touch. And Rick did that and much more, giving her the space she needed in order to believe in herself and her ability to be loved and desired by a man who wanted to love and cherish her until death does them apart.

Recommended for fans of Jennifer Probst and fans of red-hot novellas! You cannot go wrong with a Jennifer Probst.

Favorite Quotes

He waited one beat. Two.
She lifted her head.
A strange longing rose up and caught him in a chokehold. Her eyes widened as they locked with his. The anxious worry he glimpsed deep in their depths caused a protectiveness to surge from within. His second thought centered on what she would look like when he thrust deep inside her and brought her to orgasm.
He hardened instantly. Son of a bitch. It was going to end up being an interesting night after all.

[Rick] “Do you know how beautiful you are?”
Disbelief shimmered in her eyes. “Thank you, but—”
He closed the distance between them. She gasped as he grabbed her hand and laid it on his straining erection. “This is what you do to me. From the moment I laid eyes on you I wanted you. By the end of the night, you’re going to believe it, sweetheart. Make no mistake.”

He wanted to make her scream with delight, to cry his name as she orgasmed until she couldn’t remember the last time another man ever laid a hand on her. Possessiveness was not a natural part of him, but he didn’t fight the urge. Instead, he embraced the basic male tendency to hunt. Conquer. Claim.

[Rick] “Tara.”
The sound of his voice snapped her away from the memories. His command brooked no argument as he looked up from between her spread thighs.
“Eyes on me.”
His voice told her not to think, dominated every part of her soul, until she couldn’t fight him, and she slipped firmly back into the present. 

Purchase Links: Amazon | Smashwords | Decadent Publishing

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ARC Review: Time Out by Jill Shalvis

Format: E-booktimeout
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Blaze Publisher Series
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Mark Diego
Heroine: Rainey Saunders
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 19, 2012
Started On: February 11, 2012
Finished On: February 17, 2012

I am finding out that whether it be a short length or a full length novel, if it is Jill Shalvis that holds the steering wheel, there is no wrong turn the story can take. Time Out which is set to be released sometime within this month is one wild and enjoyable ride, a romance that just completely reeled me in and I couldn’t have found a better way to drop off to sleep afterwards, dreaming of a Mark that was all my own to do whatever I please with. *sigh*

Rainey Saunders has just turned thirty years old and is single, looking for that special someone. She and her best friend Lena both work at the North District Rec Center in Santa Rey, a small mid-California beach town. Rainey is a bit of a control freak, has the frizzy hair thing going for her and has a heart of gold that shines through right from the very start. She might have a hard time connecting with anyone in her dating life the way she did when she was dumb and crushing so hard on the delectable Mark Diego when she was just 16 years old. But she is way past that crush, or so she tells herself until Mark walks in, more delectable than ever, tempting her to take just a little bite out of him to satisfy all those cravings that practically fall all over themselves trying to get closer to him.

34 year old Mark Diego is the youngest, most popular NHL head coach in the country. With fame and fortune in his hands, Mark doesn’t allow himself to feel those niggling bouts of “emptiness” that hits him once in a while. Mark has always been ambitious, wanting to rise above the poverty in which he had grown up. Wanting to teach two of his players a lesson Mark makes his way towards his hometown, not at all expecting his life to take a totally unforeseen turn when he butts heads with the altogether grown up and too alluring for her own good Rainey who pierces through the rough and tough armor of his to lay siege on his heart.

The story that unfolds is what only Jill Shalvis herself can deliver. Though Rainey keeps reminding herself that she doesn’t want anything to do with Mark, her hormones keep sending the opposite signal, and time and yet again, both Mark and Rainey finds themselves in one clandestine position after the other which serves to be such a feast for the senses. There wasn’t one part of me that wasn’t clamoring to swallow Mark Diego in all his glory in one big gulp or should I say I wanted to savor him in nibbling bites so that the whole feast would last for a lifetime.

The thread of humor that is always a part of a Jill Shalvis book is there in this story as well, and the underlying issues that are much serious in nature also makes their impact on the reader as Jill takes the reader through stories of families hard hit by ravaging forest fires, abusive fathers and all that is brushed under the carpet by people who are mostly at the receiving end of such violent physical and emotional abuse.

The only thing that I was a teeny bit peeved about was the abruptness of the ending of the story. Though Jill managed to deliver that happily ever after I was clamoring for right from the very start, Mark and Rainey’s story ended a bit too hastily for my taste. But apart from that, everything in this story, and I mean everything was top notch, the type of contemporary romance that is too far and few in between these days. 

Delivering a Harlequin Blaze as it should be, Jill certainly packs a punch with Time Out. Intense and sexy as sin with characters of the caliber that only Jill can create, Time Out comes most highly recommended from the sunny side of life!

Favorite Quotes

“It’s good to see you as well,” she said, her mouth against his ear, her lips brushing the lobe.
He went still at the contact, then instead of trying to pull free, merely folded her into his arms, trapping her against him. And damn if her body didn’t burst to life, as if all this time it’d been just waiting for him to come back.
“Yeah, you’re different,” he murmured, doing as she had, pressing his mouth to her ear, giving her a shiver. “The little kitten grew up and got claws.”

At twenty-one, Mark had been long and leanly muscled, not a spare inch on him. Rainey’s gaze ran down his thirty-four-year-old body and she had to admit he was even better now. In fact, the only way to improve on that body would be to dip it into chocolate.

Her hands tightened on him. “I mean it,” she said. “We’re not doing this.”
“Define this.”
“We’re not going to be friends.”
“Deal,” he said.
“We’re not going to even like each other.”
“Obviously.”
She stared into his eyes, hers turbulent and heated. “And no more kissing—”
He swallowed her words with his mouth, delving deeply, groaning at the taste of her. He heard her answering moan, and then her arms wound tight around his neck.
And for the first time since his arrival back in Santa Rey, they were on the same page.

“Mark.” She fisted her hands in his hair and pulled his mouth to hers, her entire world anchored on his finger. When it slid inside her, she thunked her head back against the door and panted. Then his thumb brushed her in a slow circle.
She cried out against his lips, arching into him, yanking his hair. She couldn’t help it. She was going up in flames. He merely pressed her hard to the door, locking her in place. Continuing the torture, he added another finger. She came hard and fast, the power of it sweeping over her like a tidal wave. 

His gaze swept over her, hot and approving, as he lifted her up. “Wrap your legs around me— There. God, yeah, like that—” His voice was a low command, caressing her as much as his hands. “Hold on to me.” Then his mouth crushed her own as he pushed her back against the door.
She threaded her hands into his hair as he thrust deep inside of her. He made a rough sound of sheer male pleasure, his fingers digging into her soft flesh as she rocked into him. Again he thrust, slowly at first, teasing until she was begging. It was glorious torment, hot and demanding, just like the man kissing her.

The kiss ignited like a rocket flash. Not that this surprised her. Everything pertaining to Mark seemed to burn hot and fast. Frustration, lust…
His mouth was rough, hot and hungry on hers as he pulled her closer, taking control. She heard herself moan, kissing him with helpless desperation. If dessert was her usual drug of choice, it’d just been replaced because she couldn’t seem to get enough of him.

With a smug smirk, he kissed her again, then slid into her. Pleasure flooded her, so intense it arched her back and had her crying out, clutching at him. The teasing and fun vanished in a blink, replaced by something so intense she could hardly breathe. Mark’s eyes were dark and sultry, and she reared up to press her mouth to his. He took control of the kiss, making her melt into him all the more as he buried himself in her over and over, deeper, harder, faster, the entire time holding her gaze with his, letting her see everything she did to him.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Harlequin

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Score Sheet Review: Midnight Run by Lisa Marie Rice

Format: E-bookmidnightrun
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romantic Suspense
Series: Midnight, Book 2
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Hero: Tyler ‘Bud’ Morrison
Heroine: Claire Parks
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: February 18, 2004
Started On: February 15, 2012
Finished On: February 15, 2012

 

CATEGORY SCORE GRADE
The hero 90 A
The heroine 90 A
Story line 90 A
Emotional Intensity 90 A
Suck Me In Factor
100 A
Heat & Sensuality  100 A
Conflicts within the story 90 A
Writing Style 90 A
Quotable Factor 70 B
The Ending 80 A
Overall Grade 89 A

Score Sheet Summary

Stopping after reading just one Lisa Marie Rice book is an impossibility for me. Midnight is a series that I have read completely out of order and because of that very reason I am able to say that Midnight Run sort of reads like a mix of the 3 books in the series put together. 

Bud is a cop, working undercover at a dance club in Portland known as The Warehouse when he sets his eyes on the beautiful Claire Parks. Bud is a tough, larger than life, total alpha hero who succumbs to the lure of the gentle and altogether too pretty for her own good Claire. Though Claire might be the last virgin in Portland, she has no intention of staying that way for long and its a weekend of decadent pleasures that Bud introduces Claire to, each and every encounter bringing the deeper emotions to the surface as their lovemaking grows more explosive as the weekend goes on.

Midnight Run is a book that is a feast for the senses. I say this because there wasn’t one non-tingly nerve in my body as Bud came into the picture and practically depleted the oxygen levels in the room with his take charge attitude in bed and out of it that serves to be a major turn-on. Though Claire is no pushover, it is always with pleasure I welcome heroines that Lisa Marie Rice creates, no feminists clouding up the story with their attitude in her novels.

The one disappointment for me was how the story ended. There was a lot of angst towards the end, and for me there were some “issues” that needed to be resolved between Claire and Bud before their happily ever after could begin. Of course, the love they have for each other is an unquestionable one, but I would have loved to see a bit of a prolonged ending to a story that had me reading the book in one sitting, giving my mind that much needed relaxation from the cloudy atmosphere of politics that is the current Maldivian environment.

Recommended for fans of the author and fans of the series.

Favorite Quotes

Yes, she, Claire Parks, who by all rights should have been dead these many years, her bleached bones rotting in the cold ground, was turned on. Waves of heat rolled through her body in liquid surges. The heat became almost incandescent in her breasts and in her loins, but her entire body burned and tingled with heat and life.

The rest of what she wanted to say was lost in his mouth. A red mist rose in his head. Fast as lightning, he picked her up, stripped her, pulled off his sweatshirt, pushed his sweat pants down—he deliberately hadn’t put on underwear, either—and embedded his c#ck in her. Just shoved it in because he’d die if he didn’t have his cock in her now.

With any other man, Claire would have been a little afraid, his expression was so fierce and dangerous-looking. She wasn’t frightened. This was Bud. He would never hurt her. “Why are you asking?”
Bud shifted his hips, pushing forward, moving even more deeply into her. “I want you to be comfortable,” he whispered, “because this is the position you’re going to be in for a long, long while.” His gaze held hers. “I’m going to fuck you all night.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BoB | Ellora’s Cave

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