ARC Review: Bear Meets Girl by Shelly Laurenston

Format: E-bookbearmeetsgirl
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Series: Pride, #7
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp
Hero: Lou “Crush” Crushek
Heroine: Marcella “Bare Knuckles” Malone
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 27, 2012
Started On: September 23, 2015
Finished On: September 27, 2015

Bear Meets Girl by Shelly Laurenston was a tough read for me to get into. There were those multiple conversation threads that I got lost in and the various characters that appeared out of nowhere which plunged me further into the abyss. I have read a lot of books midway into a series and still managed to get the gist of the characters involved without much of a problem. And those reads have at times even persuaded me to pick up a book that was published before that particular book in the series. But alas, Bear Meets Girl wasn’t one of those reads.

Lou “Crush” Crushek wakes up from a party, not his usual lifestyle mind you, wrapped up in the arms of a woman who instantly puts him on the edge. Marcella “Bare Knuckles” Malone (Cella) can’t help but have a little fun with the uptight polar bear until it all comes to the point where Cella is the one in need of Crush’s help to keep her well meaning family’s ministrations to help find her a “suitable” mate at a minimum.

Amid all this, there is some plot to hurt the bear population, Crush becoming a part of a new police force from his usual undercover work that has him going down in a bit of a spiral towards depression. Crush and Cella are two very contrasting characters, perhaps reason why I was drawn towards the book in the first place after reading the blurb. Cella, while is all out outrageous, Crush is the opposite. Someone who likes to keep to himself, who considers his home the haven of quiet & solitude that he requires after coming home from work. Cella and Crush do make the right fit, but I just couldn’t find myself all that interested in the rest of the story that was happening.

I skimmed through more than half of the story to just read the bits where Crush and Cella are together. Their dialogues with each other were refreshing. Their connection towards each other interesting, something that the author could have worked a bit more on to make the story more enticing. Because the rest of the stuff that was happening in the story just made my head whirl.

So given all the things that didn’t work for me in the book, one might ask, why did I still trudge on through the story? Well, there’s a magic to Shelly Laurenston’s writing that always makes me request her books even though the stories seem to come wrapped in a whole lot of characters and interactions between them, that tends to take away the focus from the main couple in the story. Which I seldom like, if at all. Bear Meets Girl having the exact same problem shouldn’t be a surprise, but then I keep hoping that this would be the time I would be proven wrong. I couldn’t skim through the rest of the chunks of the story fast enough to get to the bits where Crush and Cella were the focus. They make for a great combination. There’s enough spark, charm & adorableness to their coming together that makes it hard not to fall in love with them.

In my opinion, Bear Meets Girl is too seeped in details of all else that’s going on that it detracts the reader from the most alluring factor of the story; the couple in question & how their coming together works. I’m not saying other characters & scenes are not required to make a story more wholesome. No. It’s just that when a story gets bogged down with too much of past characters & extended family & whatnot, the reader who spontaneously picks up a book to read in the middle of a series can get a little lost in the midst of it all.

Recommended for fans of the author & fans of the Pride series.

Final Verdict: Bear Meets Girl; a story worth trudging through only because of Crush and Cella.

Favorite Quotes

She invaded his mouth with her tongue, fingers digging deep into the back of his neck and head, kind of holding him there. Crush’s entire body loosened, his arms falling away from his chest and to his sides, then reaching around her waist and pulling her off the chair. The chair ended up be- tween them, so Crush kicked it out of the way. Keeping a solid grip on her, he returned her kiss. But he wanted more.
Without thought to anything but the demands of his body, Crush pushed her up against his refrigerator, his body pin- ning hers there. He let his hands slip from around her waist and travel up until they could grip her breasts, fingers squeezing while his thumbs circled her nipples through her shirt and bra. Her entire body shook and then her hands were pressed against his chest, pushing him back.

Malone turned, saw them, and ran over. When she was about ten feet from Crush, she launched herself at him, hit- ting him hard, her legs wrapping around his waist, her arms around his neck. “Hi!”
“H—”
She didn’t let him finish, her mouth pressing against his, arms tightening around his neck. And for those few seconds Crush forgot about everyone else.
When she finally pulled her mouth away, Crush still had his eyes closed.
“I’m glad you came.”
Wait. He had? When?
“I was afraid you were going to bail on me.”
Oh! Came as in attend. Got it. He was there. He was okay.
He could handle this. Her. Whatever.
“I promised.”
“You did.” Still wrapped around him, she leaned back a
bit and gave him a once-over. “You’re kind of overdressed.” “I see that now.”

He wasn’t sure, but then she leaned in, sniffed his neck, and gently scraped a fang across his jugular. The last of Crush’s restraint snapped, his hands tightening around her waist. He lifted her up, pulled her in closer, and while staring into her eyes, slammed her down hard on his cock, at the same time bringing up his hips.
The feline roared, her head dropping back, her arms wrapping around his neck. She held on tight, breathing in deep and taking a moment before she looked at him.
Panting hard, they watched each other.
“Well,” she sighed, “that does feel good.”

She knew what he was doing, the tricky bastard. With every twist and tug and tease of her breast, her pussy tightened around his cock like a vise. His growling grew harsher, louder, and the vibration of it against her flesh had her nearly out of her mind. She panted, she mewled, she might have hissed a few times. Then she was coming. Coming so very hard that she cried out.
The bear lifted his head to gaze at her with those black eyes.
“You all right?” And she wondered if he realized he was still growling at her.
Unable to answer since she was still panting, Cella nod- ded.
“Good.” Remaining inside her, Crush slowly stood, releasing her arms so that he could carefully lift her legs and drape them over his forearms. “ ’Cause I’m not really done yet.”

“I need you to calm down, ma’am.”
Cella’s body began to shake, her knees weakening. “What is this?” he asked, fingers pressing, stroking. “Can
you tell me, ma’am? It’s better you come clean now rather than let me find out later. I can help you now.”
She shook her head, unable to find any words with her body unraveling.
“I don’t think you’re listening to me, ma’am.” He sighed, shook his head. “That’s a real shame.”
Cella didn’t know what he was saying, what was going on. She only knew what she felt and what she felt was that monumental orgasm ripping through her, so strong, she nearly threw the three-hundred-pound bear off her.

While Cella tried to get her breath back, the bear removed the cuffs, his hands rubbing her wrists. He stretched out on the floor and Cella collapsed on top of him. They lay in silence for long minutes until Cella admitted, “You have the biggest cock . . .”
Crush laughed, his hand slipping into her hair, massaging her scalp. “Why, thank you.”
“Just felt I should share that.”
“I have to admit, Cella, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of your after-sex pronouncements.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | ARe | eBookMall | iTunes

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ARC Review: I’ll Find You by Nancy Bush

Format: E-bookillfindyou
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Kensington
Hero: West Laughlin
Heroine: Callie Cantrell
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 24, 2014
Started On: September 10, 2014
Finished On: September 17, 2014

I’ll Find You by Nancy Bush is my very first novel by the author. Combining a little bit of romance with a whole lot of suspense, the one thing that had me going was the way Nancy writes. There is that quality to her writing that draws in the reader and compels one to keep on reading. And that held true for me for the first half of the book while the latter half turned out to be a bit draggy and a trifle bit confusing for me to enjoy it as much as I did for the first half of the story.

Callie Cantrell returns to Martinique as a step towards moving on with her life after the death of her son and husband in a horrible accident from which she had woken up to find that her beloved son was no more. Deciding on a date to return back to the chaos that she has to sort out once she heads back to normal life is made doubly harder by the little boy she befriends during the trip, the boy proving to be a valuable part of the journey Callie takes towards finding herself again.

West Laughlin is on a mission. The black sheep of the Laughlin family is summoned to hunt down its apparent heir and West is determined that he would pull no punches where this particular mission is concerned. When he comes down on Callie, West is surprised by the thread of desire that courses through him even when the very thought of all that she has done sends revulsion running up and down his frame.

When Callie encounters West under less than favorable circumstances, Callie is determined to do whatever it takes to protect the boy that West is after. Having had no desire to move on with the opposite sex after the shame of her short-lived marriage, Callie is taken aback by the frissons of awakening that pulls her out of the state of mere existence that she has been living through for the past year. And as Callie and West join forces to determine the exact truth behind so many half truths and hidden agendas, so do the unknown faces behind the curtain move towards the final showdown from which no one might make it out safe.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ll Find You starts off on a fascinating thread. A cult, a mad man hellbent on getting what he considers rightfully his and the unknown force behind an equally evil and nefarious plot that might unravel the whole thing before things reach their ultimate conclusion seemed like just the ingredients for an explosive story. Though I liked Nancy’s writing well enough, towards the end, the story didn’t wow me as much as I had initially thought it would.

Callie and West, both were characters that I liked well enough at the beginning. But somehow, I think, because the focus of the story was more on the villain rather than the main protagonists towards the latter part of the book, the shine to their characters tended to fade away for me. Nevertheless I rooted for them until the very end.

I think the too many threads in the suspense plot turned out a tad confusing in the end, but then again it did deliver some surprising twists to the story that had been hard to predict at first.

Recommended for those who love their romantic suspense low on the romance and high on the suspense factor.

Final Verdict: Delivered a read with some surprising twists towards the end.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | eBookMall | iTunes

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Review: Tell No Lies by Tanya Anne Crosby

Format: E-booktellnolies
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Aldridge Sisters, #2
Publisher: Kensington Publishers
Hero: Ian Patterson
Heroine: Augusta Aldridge
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 1, 2014
Started On: July 31, 2014
Finished On: August 1, 2014

What lengths would you be willing to go to get your share of 37 million dollars worth of inheritance money? Well, turns out pretty much about anything. Even if it means spending time with your estranged family, and letting your dead mother control your family’s actions from beyond the grave.

Of the three sisters, 34 year old Augusta Aldridge is the middle child, the one who gets saddled with restoring the family home. Each of the three siblings gets a task to be fulfilled within a year, which had to be done with the three of them living together in the same house for the duration. Though Tell No Lies does read as a standalone, I think I did miss out on vital aspects of the back story by having jumped straight to reading the second book in the Aldridge Sisters series.

Ian Patterson, falsely accused of the series of gruesome murders that had rocked the headlines of this small town had been a priest before, someone who had been genuinely willing to take on his vow of celibacy because that’s what he had thought he had wanted to be. However, all that changes due to events that had propelled him to travel to Secessionville to seek answers for the questions to which the law enforcement are hard pressed to answer. Being falsely accused of committing the murders, Ian is almost at that point of helplessness when Augusta comes to his rescue.

Augusta knows in her heart that Ian couldn’t have murdered those women. But what if she was wrong? The one point that works in Ian’s favor is the fact that when the last murder had been carried out, they’d been together, lost in a swirl of desire that Augusta craves to taste again. But fear of the repercussions her actions might bring to her family prevents her from coming forward while the real killer continues to hold another victim to toy with.

Tanya Anne Crosby is a new to me author. But right from the start, Tanya’s ease with the words drew me in and I was engrossed in this tale of family secrets, murder and a searing attraction that continued to wreak havoc on my emotions. The only regret that I truly had was that I hadn’t read the first book in the series, Speak No Evil. If you are hearing about this book for the first time, I would definitely recommend that you read book 1 for a more wholesome experience.

As I was reading I couldn’t help but wonder why authors have stopped writing romantic suspense the likes of this one. Some of my favorite reads in the genre have been based in the South, the setting itself lending a charm and a sultry edge to the story that one is hard pressed to find these days. I am definitely going to check out more books by Tanya! Recommended for fans of romantic suspense.

Final Verdict: Great combination of fatal southern secrets, murder and romance. Recommended. 

Favorite Quotes

As he stood there watching Shaw disappear behind the security doors, he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that every last trace of the man he used to be—the man he was trying to be—was gone.
Who was he now?
Someone he didn’t know.
Someone he didn’t want to know.

Wide-eyed, Augusta stared at him. Naked and unashamed, he rested his hand once again on his erection, stroking it seductively, waiting for her answer. His hair fell back behind his shoulders, and the earring in his ear gleamed wickedly. A day’s worth of golden whiskers glittered on his face. He was easily the most beautiful man she had ever known.
Augusta couldn’t have walked away from this moment if her life had depended upon it.
She was lost—body and soul.

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookDepo | B&N | Kobo

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ARC Review: Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston

Format: E-bookbiteme
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Pride, #9
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Hero: Vic Barinov
Heroine: Olivia Kowalski
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 25, 2014
Started On: March 23, 2014
Finished On: March 24, 2014

Book 9 in the Pride series, Bite Me is my very first foray into this series. Having read just one book by Shelly Laurenston prior to this, I knew what to expect from her novels in the sense that I knew that if nothing else, the story would keep me entertained all throughout. Though Bite Me can definitely be read as a standalone, I think that the wholesome experience of all the characters that appear in this book can only be had if you read the series in order.

Half-Asian, half-Polish and a honey badger shifter, Livy Kowalski and her family of honey badgers are considered the most devious of shifters. The fact that Livy stands apart from the rest of her brood and doesn’t believe in the way of life of honey badgers had always been an issue of contention when it had come to her parents and extended family. A photographer by profession whose creative juice seems to have dried up, Livy finds it hard to confide in even the people closest to her the fear that churns in her gut every time she thinks of the loss of her zeal for the one thing that helps ground her. And when Livy finds the truth behind her father’s death, it sets off a chain of events which propels her into the life and arms of Vic Barinov, teaching her a thing or two about herself and her passion for the beautiful shifter who gets her juices flowing in more ways than one.

Vic is a crossbreed,  part grizzly bear and Siberian tiger which makes him unique. Vic doesn’t know why he lets Livy burrow all the way into his home and finish off his precious honey whenever she feels like she needs a place to crash, but Vic would rather not admit that he has a soft spot for Livy, the one person who doesn’t even try to invoke that sort of emotion in anyone. That doesn’t stop Vic from trying to cheer Livy up and in the end finds himself embroiled in a passion as deep as complex as the woman Livy is. And in between, there is of course her crazy family to contend with and the chase to bring the man responsible for Livy’s father’s death to justice.

Though I really enjoyed what Bite Me had to offer, there were times that I felt that story dragged a bit here and there. But what made it all worth it was the witty and sarcastic banter that fills the pages, making it impossible to skip even a single page of the unfolding story. I loved both Vic and Livy to pieces, Vic was a mix of alpha and sweetness with a bit of grumpy hotness on the side. Livy was a heroine of the reticent type, whose very thought processes alone made me burst out into laughter.

Recommended for fans of Shelly, fans of paranormal romances with lots of humor and fans of the Pride series!

Final verdict: One word; entertaining!

Favorite Quotes 

“Livy?”
“Yeah?”
Vic leaned his head back, his chin still resting on her chest. “Some days . . .”
“Yeah?”
“Some days you make me want to drive a railroad spike through my head.”
Then he was gripping Livy’s legs again and yanking her lower half up, his cock pressing against her. He paused. Just long enough to make sure he had Livy’s attention. Then he pulled Livy closer and thrust hard. So hard, so mercilessly, that Livy started coming again. And at this rate, Livy wasn’t sure she’d ever stop.

Holding her tight, Vic turned them so that Livy was underneath him. He braced his arms on either side of her, his big, long body looming over her. “Bring your legs up,” he ordered. “High on my waist.”
When she did, he growled and powered into her, his cock buried deep inside her pussy. Livy’s back arched. Nothing she could remember had ever felt this good.

“You make me want to burrow,” Livy told him, her arms moving down to his waist as she snuggled into his chest. “Usually I want to burrow away from people,” she murmured. “You’re the first I’ve ever burrowed toward.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo | Kobo | iTunes

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Review: Houston, We Have a Problem by Erin McCarthy

Format: E-bookhoustonwehaveaproble
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Florida Doctors, Book 2
Publisher: Kensington
Hero: Dr. Houston Hayes
Heroine: Dr. Josie Adkins
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publisher: October 18, 2005
Started On: May 8, 2011
Finished On: May 13, 2011

Though I have had this book in my to-be-read pile for ages, I finally took the plunge after reading the enthusiastic review that my friend Zahu posted on Goodreads. We both (and I guess more than half of the romance reading population) have a thing for hot and tortured heroes who exert rigid control over their emotions and suddenly along comes the bubbly heroine who seems to bring down the walls of reserve that the hero has built so painstakingly over the years within just a couple of minutes. I absolutely love these types of books and though this book didn’t deliver on all of my expectations, nevertheless it turned out to be one hell of an entertaining read.

33 year old Dr. Houston Hayes has a huge problem that won’t go away in the 27 year old surgical resident Josie Adkins who is driving him completely nuts with her klutziness that brings to light just how much he wants Josie flat on her back, with him on top. Houston has never had a problem with the rules he has imposed on himself to never enter into a long term relationship and to never get involved with a co-worker. But the minute Josie Adkins steps into the picture, all Houston’s heart is capable of telling him is that rules are meant to be broken.

Josie is appalled that she has the Dr. Hayes-induced Dropping Medical Equipment Syndrome whenever she is around Houston. Her friend Sara keeps telling her that its the haze of lust that takes a hold of her whenever she is in Houston’s vicinity that plays havoc on her usual capable self.

When Houston proposes to Josie one single night of passion to get rid of the inconvenience of having the hots for each other all the time, Josie is reluctant because she is not the type to get physical in a relationship without her emotions getting involved. But every inch of Houston from his short black hair, to his gorgeous blue eyes, and all down the length of his muscular, toned body that screams power and control has Josie saying yes to abandoning herself to his lethal brand of seduction that has Josie screaming much more than yes long before the night is through.

But what was supposed to be just one night of passion cracks open the walls of reserve that protects Houston’s emotions and though he would rather die than admit to the fact, being over Josie is the farthest thing that Houston feels. Josie though she promises herself that she deserves someone who loves her and wants to commit to her, nevertheless finds herself falling for the complete opposite of what she needs though Josie is still strong enough to say no where it counts. Houston is a man who has a lot of issues with his past, his childhood playing a major role in how his character is portrayed in the story. For Josie and Houston’s problem to be totally over, they both do a lot of intense soul searching and makes some hard choices before achieving their much needed happily ever after.

I absolutely loved what Erin McCarthy delivers in the humor department in the story. From the first line itself, this book was a continuous laugh fest with Josie’s quirky comebacks and her sense of humor which is evident from the way she thinks out aloud about stuff. Houston is a delicious hero, and yes I say delicious in the best possible way. He is tortured hotness and broodiness in one package and his lethal brand of seduction left me breathless at all times. With borderline erotic sexual content, this book is recommended for fans of contemporary romances that delivers on character development, humor, love and rapid heartbeat inducing love scenes guaranteed to fire up your insides.

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

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Review: The Real Deal by Lucy Monroe

Format: E-bookrealdeal
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Hero: Simon Brant
Heroine: Amanda
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication:  June 1, 2005
Started On: July 28, 2010
Finished On: July 29, 2010

Amanda is a woman who has been wronged on so many levels by her ex-husband Lance. Lance had taken away her confidence in her abilities as a woman, and that failure alone pained Amanda more than she lets on. With a family who blamed Amanda for the divorce, Jillian her best friend is the only person who has ever loved Amanda without any conditions. Amanda’s only intention now is to move ahead in her company Extant Corporation and her proposal for a friendly merger between her company and family driven Brant Computers, if it were to go through without a hitch would land her one step closer to her dream of acquiring a position on the Executive Management Team at Extant Corporation.

Negotiations with the company president Eric Brant had gone so well that Amanda didn’t think that there would be any further problems in going ahead with the deal. That is until she meets the dark, exotic Simon Brant who sets her heart racing and turns her body to mush, a body Amanda had no inkling knew how to behave in the wanton manner it was exhibiting in Simon’s presence.

Simon vehemently opposes merging Brant Computers with Extant Corporation though there is nothing more Simon would like to do than negotiate a different kind of deal with the woman who was so enthusiastically listing out all the benefits of the merger. Simon, a genius and a recluse doesn’t understand and conform to the usual standards of behavior. A man who spends hours lost in his creations, Simon lives on an island where he wouldn’t have to walk around on eggshells thinking he has offended someone with his behavior. Eccentric and with his crabby housekeeper Jacob as his only companion at the beautiful fortress of a house he has built for himself, Simon knows that he wouldn’t be swayed to saying yes to the deal no matter how much Amanda tempted his senses in all the ways imaginable.

Amanda is shocked when Simon walks out in the middle of her presentation without even looking back. But when Amanda realizes that Simon can’t help being the genius he is and gets invited to Simon’s home to complete the presentation, Amanda is determined that she would sway Simon’s mind one way or the other. But its tough negotiating with someone who continuously loses himself to his work and before long Amanda finds herself residing at Simon’s home for better access to Simon when he does surface from his laboratory.

Amanda doesn’t know what to do with the red hot desire that courses through her veins whenever Simon is around. Her marriage of two years with Lance had never really taught her the worth of her beautiful body and that the effect it has on Simon. Simon is determined not to give Amanda the opportunity to addle his brain with sex, sex he knows is going to be spectacular with the woman who tempts him beyond anything he has ever experienced.

But like an explosion waiting to happen, these two finally give in and Simon teaches Amanda  that her body is one worthy of worshiping and that her ex-husband has been the one who has been blind not to see what a treasure Amanda really is. Amanda’s boss Daniel has other plans in his mind and before long Amanda has to face her ex-husband Lance and find out the nefarious plans they have laid out to merge the two companies regardless of the cost personal or otherwise.

I loved this story from the very beginning. Its always interesting to read about men or women who are gifted geniuses and how they react when faced with the heady sensation of falling in love. Simon is a wonderful lead male character, totally alpha that made my insides melt every time. And Amanda is one of those heroines that you can relate to and root for every step of the way. With interesting side characters, red hot passion and a great storyline, this is a book that is not to be missed. Makes me wonder why I have never tried reading a novel by the author before, a fact which I will try and remedy asap.

Highly recommended!

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

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