ARC Review: Guarded Hearts by M. J. Fredrick

Format: E-bookguardedhearts
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Hero: Ethan Riggins
Heroine: McKenna Spencer
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 5, 2011
Started On: December 2, 2011
Finished On: December 3, 2011

I love books by MJ Fredrick mainly because whether it be contemporary, western historical or romantic suspense, she delivers a romance with a happy ending that clutches at your heart. Guarded Hearts is no exception to the rule and I was ecstatic to receive an ARC of this little goodie from MJ Fredrick last week. Expecting an entertaining read, I wasn’t disappointed as MJ Fredrick delivers well on the romance and the elements of suspense in this novel.

McKenna Spencer is a junior congresswoman who has her heart set on passing a children’s health care bill when her work is cut short late into one night when she receives a phone call from her father to vacate from the building. Her father who is a counterterrorist agent has reason to believe that McKenna’s life is in danger and so she is assigned with a bodyguard who is to stick to her like glue, whether it be night or day.

From the first encounter itself, though McKenna might try telling herself otherwise, she is drawn to the man behind the compellingly good looks, a man who makes her female colleagues’ heads turn just by being in the same room as them. For Ethan Riggins, the mission spells trouble from the start as his immediate attraction to McKenna is a forbidden one on so many levels. But that doesn’t stop him from slowly going out of his mind with wanting McKenna and the answering flare of desire in McKenna’s eyes makes it doubly hard for him to remember why getting tangled up with McKenna is such a bad idea.

Filled with bullet riddled moments one minute and heart thumping variety of over the charts sizzling hot encounters between McKenna and Ethan the next, MJ Fredrick delivers a novel that is hard to put down. And in between all those tense and delicious moments, MJ Fredrick manages to give her characters life, a past which tugs at the reader’s heartstrings and moments of tenderness between the two protagonists that just makes this an awesome piece of romance.

Ethan Riggins was just ultra yummy. I don’t think there is any other word that could describe as effectively what he made me feel throughout the story. He is not superman who switches over to total robot mode in seconds but he is lethal and dangerous when he puts his mind to it, a mind that strays far too much for his liking when McKenna is around. His ability to totally focus on one thing makes him a total hottie, especially so when he turns all that attention on McKenna. And MJ Fredrick certainly knows what she is doing with her tattooed heroes as Ethan too has tattoes on him that would make even a sensible woman swoon.

McKenna is a heroine who has had not the happiest childhood. As a junior congresswoman, her work is her sole focus, and it suites her well enough until Ethan comes strolling into her life. Though she thinks that Ethan is not the one for her, her heart and other vulnerable emotions sing his name, wanting him to be the one who lays claim on her heart and soul. She is stubborn, gorgeous and has a big heart that refuses to back down even when cornered, especially when she has a particular goal that she is working towards. I loved her sense of humor and the fact that she could bring a smile to Ethan’s face just made me a fan of hers all throughout.

Guarded Hearts by MJ Fredrick is a novel that attests to the author’s ability to deliver a well rounded tale of romantic suspense, with two protagonists who would stay with you even long afterwards. Recommended for fans of romantic suspense and fans of MJ Fredrick.

Favorite Quotes

He remained still for a moment, not long enough for her to wonder if she’d made a mistake. Then he took charge, wrapping his arms around her, cupping his hand over the back of her head, loosening her hair from its style so it tumbled against her sensitized skin. His lips were firm, like the rest of him, and demanding, his tongue stroking along her bottom lip and into her mouth. His breath came hot and heavy against her cheek, and his erection pressed against her hip. Raindrops fell from his skin to hers, and she marveled that she could feel the warmth of him in those drops.

Holding his gaze, she lifted her hips to bring him inside her.
He choked out a groan as he buried himself deep, his body pressed against hers, his length filling her, stretching her, more delicious than she’d imagined. He moved in long, sure strokes, deep, measured.
Controlled. Focused.

He lifted his head, lifted her thighs, and plunged into her, deeper, harder than before. He lowered his mouth to the curve of her throat, lips pulling, teeth scraping as he closed his hands over her hips and opened her wider, thrusting deeper. He sat back on his heels and pulled her over him, guiding her, his mouth slamming down on hers, the kiss verging on violent, his fingers tight on her ass and she came again, locking her legs about his hips, holding him deep inside as pleasure rippled through her.

Review: Something to Talk About by M.J. Fredrick

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Press, Incorporated
Series: Standalone
Hero: Noah Weston
Heroine: Ellie Morgan
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 20, 2011
Started On: July 16, 2011
Finished On: July 16, 2011

Something to Talk About is the novel that officiates M.J. Fredrick’s position in my favorite authors list, authors that are must-buy as their stories are so very worth it. There are no blazing guns, no hair raising adventure in this as in the two novels Don’t Look Back and Breaking Daylight by the author that I have read and reviewed prior to this. Rather, Something to Talk About is a contemporary romance that nevertheless packs into it a story that any romance lover ought to read because this is a novel that swept me away on a journey towards a happily ever after that I very much rooted for right from the very beginning.

Something to Talk about takes place in the small town of Winchester Cove, California where 30 year old Ellie Morgan has ended her latest relationship with the golden boy of the town and high school football coach Trey Berenger. Knowing that she wants much more from a relationship than Trey’s self-centered nature allows him to give, Ellie cuts off ties with the man whom she had been seeing for almost a year – a personal best for her where relationships are concerned. What Ellie didn’t expect to happen upon her breakup is for everyone in town to once again start talking around corners, whispering behind her back and painting her in the same light as that of her mother who had left a husband and three children behind 14 years ago and never looked back.

35 year old Noah Weston is just starting to recover from the blow that fate had dealt him when his wife had brutally being snatched away from his life, just when they were happily anticipating a new addition to their family. Almost a year and a half had passed by and Noah was starting to notice the vibrancy that has always been part of his wife Lily’s best friend Ellie who lights up his otherwise grey world with her mere presence. Wary of a desire that seems to grow stronger rather than abate as the days go by, Noah wills himself to take a chance amidst the fanfare of small town life that supports and berates his choice to move on with his wife’s best friend.

Ellie doesn’t recall just when and how her libido and emotions had started going on instant alert whenever Noah is around but Ellie knows that its a passion worth risking her heart for if the answering fire of need that simmers in Noah’s eyes is anything to go by. As their desire explodes and makes each of them embrace new heights in a physical relationship that neither of them was expecting, other emotions start getting involved lending their relationship a fragility that could break the bonds that bind them together so very easily.

With Noah battling his fear of starting over and trusting his heart to guide him in the right path and with Ellie fighting her need to become anything but the center stage of Winchester Cove’s gossip central, both Ellie and Noah certainly lead the reader on an emotionally wrenching journey towards their happily ever after made infinitely that much sweeter because of the fact.

Something to Talk About is definitely landing in my favorite reads of this year as M.J. Fredrick completely took me by surprise with the turn of each page, bringing forth emotions that I didn’t think I was even capable of feeling. Noah Weston with his killer dimples, his intensity that can fry the brain cells of any woman and his quiet strength is a hero worth savoring and worth allowing into your dreams, yes because he is the stuff that dreams are made out of. Ellie is a heroine who made me fall in love with her because she has those qualities that makes a reader root for the heroine right from the very beginning. Beautiful inside and out with a heart that yearns for a love like her friend Lily had found in Noah, Ellie is a heroine who is willing to fight for what she believes in, even with the whole world frowning down on her.

What endeared the story most to me is the way M.J. Fredrick managed to make Noah and Ellie’s love work without sullying up the beautiful relationship that Noah had with his wife Lily, without painting Lily as the good for nothing previous wife who deserved what she got in the end. Rather than doing that, Ms. Fredrick explores the possibility that yes, you can find love in the most unexpected of places and let it be a beautiful one, untainted by a past that is beautiful in its own right. All the secondary characters in the story from the reverend to Noah’s charming nieces to the navel-pierced psychic who manages to catch the eye of the reverend all wormed their way into my heart not to be easily forgotten.

With an epilogue that beautifully ties up everything and made me grin and inwardly smile at the same time, this is a contemporary romance that is definitely worth talking about, worth your time and money and comes highly recommended from the sunny side of life.

Favorite Quotes

He stepped inside and caught her fresh scent from the shower. He wanted to drop the toolbox and pin her to the wall behind the door, taste the dampness of her skin, the warmth of her mouth. He wanted to feel her hands on him, but he kept walking.

She made a small sound in the back of her throat as he slanted his mouth over hers, reining in his hunger to concentrate on the taste of her, the feel of her, the rhythm of her breath, of her heart. He wanted to absorb her, to savor her.

Every now and then he’d look her way and smile and she tumbled, just tumbled right over into love.

Reviewer’s Note: Though Ms. Fredrick didn’t request for a review, she did provide me with a copy of this wonderful romance for which I want to thank her and show her my appreciation. The fact that she gave me a copy had no effect whatsoever on my review or rating of the story. 

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Lyrical Press 


Requested Review: Coercion by Lux Zakari

Format: E-bookcoercion
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Erotica
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Lyrical Press Inc.
Hero: Michael Vartanian
Heroine: Valerie Mercer
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: August 2, 2010
Started On: May 18, 2011
Finished On: May 18, 2011

I didn’t know what to expect when I delved into Coercion by Lux Zakari but I have got to say that it certainly held my undivided attention throughout which had me going from the start to finish in one sitting, just taking a timeout for toilet breaks in between. I was utterly riveted and fascinated with everything that was going on and for the world of me I couldn’t have dragged myself away from the story that unfolded.

I have a hard time defining Coercion as a romance because simply put, this is not a romance novel. But, Coercion is a story that combines the power of love, the ability of mind numbing lust to obliterate everything else and the lengths to which humans would go to possess the ones that they love.

Valerie Mercer is an only child and an introverted and insecure one at that who in her aim to change her life for the better sheds 25 pounds and emerges with a new look just in time for the start of the new semester. Though guys who have never noticed her before seems to be doing the total opposite, the only guy that Valerie wants to be noticed by is the one and only Michael Vartanian, the proverbial bad-boy of Kenton.

Michael is the only son of a Reverend, whose mother just one day upped and left and never returned. Michael doesn’t seem to care about anything in his life apart from being with his on and off girl friend Kim Breza (Breeze) and getting his kicks from indulging in the forbidden.

When circumstances at first drives Michael to seek Valerie, she is more than willing to be driven out of her senses right up against her mother’s car. And though Michael has no intention of returning any of what Valerie so obviously feels for him, time and time again Michael seeks her out, and makes use of her only to discard her once the deed is done. There is nothing on Earth that Valerie wouldn’t do to keep Michael by her side, to earn his love and approval, even if it means going against each and every belief that she has upheld till now.

In the end, there is no happily ever after for either of them, but nevertheless it was a fitting end to the volatile stream of emotions that this novel seems to be able to invoke in abundance, leaving a bittersweet tang in the air, which had me wistfully wishing for a novel that would portray the new Michael that would emerge from what follows the conclusion of this story.

Coercion is a novel that delivers well in the angst department, drawing me in until I was as helplessly ensnared in the story as Valerie seems to be with Michael. Michael is a hero not many readers would be willing to take. But I applaud Lux Zakari for having the guts to come out and write such a hero and send out a huge thank you to Lyrical Press for publishing this novel as it is. Because whilst happily ever afters and rosy kisses at the end are all well and good, Coercion is a novel that rings true to real life in so many ways which makes this book all that much better.

Whilst Michael makes you want to sit back in horrified fascination it is Valerie that you want to shake up well and good to make her see that it is Valerie that gives Michael the ability to screw up her life in more ways than one. In the end, Coercion does leave one with the valuable lesson that in order to be loved for who you are, you need to love yourself for who you are – all that more.

I loved this utterly fascinating piece of work and would recommend this highly to readers who want something a LOT more different than the usual romance novels that your erotica generally delivers. This ones made of much more and if you are a reader like myself this one would leave you definitely wanting more of Michael, no matter how unlikely it may seem. And that is a testament to Lux Zakari’s ability to spin a well rounded tale which certainly lands her in my list of authors to look out for in the future.

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


Review: Moving Target by Rosalie Stanton

Format: E-bookmovingtarget
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novella
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Hero: Nathanial Thornton (Wolf)
Heroine: Anna Winter
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: July 5, 2010
Started On: December 6, 2010
Finished On: December 6, 2010

So, it always tends to happen with me, if I stumble across a new author who has done a good job in convincing me with what I have read that he or she is worth rummaging through their backlist to find yummy reads, I ALWAYS end up doing just that. Firsts by Rosalie Stanton which I reviewed earlier definitely whetted my appetite for more from Ms. Stanton and I ended up getting myself a copy of Moving Target, a short romantic suspense novel that was published earlier this year.

Moving Target is the story of how Nathanial Thornton or Wolf is hired to kill Anna Winter, a job after two weeks of surveillance of his target Wolf is convinced that Anna is not what she has been made up to be by whoever has ordered the hit. From the first moment that Wolf lays his eyes on the stunningly gorgeous Anna with her pretty green eyes and gentle smile, all Wolf can think about is claiming her as his own, knowing that someone like him who has seen the dark side of life too many times to count is not deserving of someone like Anna who walks on the right side of life.

Anna had been working as secretary to Richard Monroe at the US Secretary of Agriculture in DC when she had heard something she wasn’t supposed to, and her fate had been sealed the moment Richard had discovered the fact and fired her. Coming back home to Springfield Missouri to lick her wounds and look for job, the last thing Anna would have expected is to run into the gorgeous as sin Wolf whose ocean blue eyes promise her things that makes her senses all go on high alert.

Wolf with the darkness that has surrounded his life till now finds the light at the end of the tunnel so to say in the arms of Anna who brings peace to his otherwise tortured soul with her acceptance and love.

I liked:

  1. Mmm.. you guys guessed right! Of course Wolf tops the list of my likes for this short novella. I felt my heart literally go aflutter when Wolf came up beside Anna asking her to dance, while promising with his eyes of things that he wants to do to her that just made my knees go weak. The club scene was definitely something! *wicked grin*
  2. Anna. I liked her because she doesn’t wait around fussing and bemoaning about the fact that an assassin who has been hired to kill her is the one who ultimately rides to her rescue when the shit hits the fan. I loved Anna because in spite of everything she still saw the gentleness that resides in Wolf that yearns to show itself, and because she opened up herself to let Wolf in, giving him a chance to embrace the light to escape all the darkness in his life.
  3. Definitely love the cover on this one too!! ^_^

I did not like: None, though I would love to read a full length contemporary or romantic suspense from Ms. Stanton. ^_^

Recommended for: Those who love short romantic suspense with a good dosage of sensuality in the mix.

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