Review: The Best Laid Plans by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookthebestlaidplans
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Super Romance
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ethan Stone
Heroine: Alexander Knight
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 9, 2010
Started On: November 2, 2010
Finished On: November 3, 2010

Yes, Sarah Mayberry has done it yet once again, stringing all my emotions taut enough to form a permanent lump in my throat which refused to melt away until I read the beautifully done epilogue which was just sheer perfection. Reminds me why even though this title’s release date was said to be the 11th of this month, when I found out that the Kindle version was already available, I basically put everything else on hold and grabbed myself a copy – knowing that I would be safe in Ms. Mayberry’s hands. Sigh! And I can’t wait for her next book though I am still reeling from the remnants of emotions left over from this one.

The Hero: Ethan Stone or Pretty Boy as his brother Derek calls him is a man so scarred by the immense betrayal that his ex-wife Cassie had left him reeling in after she had walked out on 12 years of being together, 8 of which they had been married that Ethan has lost his faith in the concept of marriage and happily ever afters with anyone else. At the age of 42, Ethan is one of the youngest partners of Wallingsworth & Kent and a family lawyer that makes him a witness to the ugly side of people who have sworn to love till death do them apart, which makes him further wary of trying to start anything serious with a woman. Ethan’s younger brother Derek and his wife Kay together with their children Tim and Jamie is the closest to the family life that Ethan so badly craves even now during unguarded moments. Described as being tall, dark and handsome with a fallen angel’s face and dark blue eyes, Ethan sets many a female heart aflutter wherever he goes. His one vice is his love for good food and wine which is a constant source of amusement with his family, Ethan is a man who cooks to relieve stress – and oh boy, can he cook! Now why can’t we ever land someone like him! Sigh!!

The Heroine: Alexander Knight (Alex) or slow poke as Ethan calls her is also one of the youngest partners at Wallingsworth & Kent and one of the best corporate lawyers around. Being calm, cool and efficient with whatever Alex chooses to do has been her motto in all the hardships that her life had dealt her. Growing up never knowing her father, Alex had just been 12 years old when her mother Rachel Knight had had an accident fracturing her skull which had left her needing constant care and attention which had turned the tables around on the lone parent and child. But a determined Alex had seen it through and cared for her mother until her imminent death and then put herself through law school to land a partnership at one of the most prestigious law firms in Melbourne a mere seven years after graduation. With jaw length dark hair, wide mouth and eyes too large to be conventional Alex too has had her fair share of betrayal from Jacob, the man she had lived 7 years of her life with, hoping that his initial dislike at the matter of having kids together would fade away with time until the topic had come to be a matter of discontentment and anger between them until Jacob had left her life 18 months ago.

Storyline: It is when Alex runs into Jacob with a baby in his arms, the Jacob who had even refused to discuss the possibility of having a child with her that stuns Alex into thinking about the best years of her life wasted with a man who hadn’t really loved her enough to want to share everything with her. And when it hits too close to home that the family and children that she has so badly craved for all her life might not happen with her eggs dying up on her in a couple of years, Alex is driven to do what she always does – take charge of her life and turn it around and work for what she wants. When in a moment of weakness Alex confesses all of this to her partner and racquetball buddy and the star of her crush Ethan, everything starts to change. Knowing that meeting someone, dating them and finally being able to broach the subject of children and the possibility of having kids together would take more time from her than she has, Alex does the only thing left to do – contact a sperm bank and decides to become a single mother, a fact Ethan learns about which propels him to offer himself up as the sperm donor.

The First Encounter: There is no part in the story that mentions how and what happened when Ethan and Alex had first met, but rather describes the moment that Alex had first seen Ethan walking towards her with the senior partners at her law firm after being lured into working for Wallingsworth & Kent. Something deep inside her had fluttered at the mere sight of him and in her heart had called out “Hello heartbreaker”.

Time period: This story has a contemporary setting and takes place in Melbourne, Australia.

Awareness between hero and heroine: Though both Ethan and Alex acknowledge the fact that they both find the other attractive, neither Ethan nor Alex feels inclined enough to mess up the friendship between them by making things complicated by wanting more from the other. Ethan had instinctively known that Alex deserves much more than he is willing to offer and works hard to keep things on a platonic level between the two. And though Alex knows that Ethan is the most handsome and compelling man she has ever met, Alex is a woman who is far too practical to throw herself at a man who she feels she is better off being friends with.

The turning point: When Alex breaks down in front of Ethan and Ethan is witness to the deep yearning in her voice as Alex talks about the babies and the family that she so wants, something inside Ethan refuses to let him forget but rather taps into his long locked away desires for a family of his own. But marriage and relationships are not for Ethan and he proposes the next best thing, he would provide the sperm for his and Alex’s baby and take an active role in his child’s life and plans it in such a way that only two lawyers can. But the best laid plans as always have a way of backfiring on them in the best possible way in the end.

Ending: It wasn’t by any means a smooth road to happily ever after for these two. Though Alex acknowledges the fact that she has fallen completely in love with Ethan and Ethan confesses to falling for Alex as well, there are still obstacles between them, namely the deep emotional scars within Ethan that has to heal before he is able to make a full commitment to the one woman who means everything to him. I just loved the ending of this story. *sniffles*

Likes: One of the first things that drew this book to me (apart from it being a story by one of my favorite Harlequin authors of course) was the beautiful cover of this novel. The cover just touches something deep inside of me, which depicts a scene from the novel before things get complicated between Alex and Ethan. I just love the way Ethan is bending towards Alex as if to whisper sweet nothings in her ear (a gal can hope always *wink*). The next thing that drew me in was the depth of character development in this story. Ms. Mayberry always does a splendid job with her characters that draws you in right from the very beginning of the story. And she has once again proved to me why I just adore her books. I also loved the fact that the obstacles that both Ethan and Alex faced in attaining their happily ever after wasn’t solved with a quick rip of the band-aid off the wound that has been festering inside Ethan for years. Just loved Ethan from his head to foot and ahem all that in between. I just wanted to hug him and face his ex-wife with a sword of my own whilst I was at it! Yes, fiercely protective I am of my Ethan!

Dislikes: I was a bit disappointed with the lack of steam between Alex and Ethan in the 1st half of the book though it totally goes with their characters and the story that unfolded. But I just had a craving to see Ethan lose all control for Alex and just give me something to sigh and moon over in between!

Recommended for: Those who love Harlequin romances, Ms. Mayberry would never steer you wrong though if you are looking for hot and frequent lovin’ you aren’t going to find it in this one. Just enough emotion to punch you in the gut!

Favorite Quotes

“Idiot,” he said.
Then he lowered his head and kissed her once, very hard, on the mouth.
He looked as surprised as she was when he lifted his head. For a moment they stared at each other, then Ethan’s gaze slid to her mouth again.
“Alex,” he said so quietly she almost didn’t hear him.
He lowered his head again. This time his lips were gentle on hers, the pressure more a question than an expression of frustration. For a moment they stood together, neither of them moving, joined only by their mouths and his hand on her arm. Then she parted her lips the tiniest fraction. The merest hint of an invitation. He sighed and slid his hands to the nape of her neck and opened his mouth over hers.

Ethan found him in the kitchen, pouring himself a more conservative Scotch. He met his brother’s eyes and took a deep breath.
“I appreciate the concern but I’m fine,” he said.
Something warm and wet fell onto his hand. He looked down at it. It took him a moment to understand that he was crying. He put down his glass.
“Jesus,” Derek said, and then his brother’s arms were closing around him and he was being held tightly and couldn’t keep the rest of the tears from falling.
He fought them every step of the way until Derek gave him a shake.
“Cry you big dickhead. It won’t kill you.”

When is the next title from Ms. Mayberry going to be out? I so want it, like now?

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



Review: Personal Research by Cari Quinn

Format: E-bookpersonalresearch.jpg
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Hero: Nunizo McGinty
Heroine: Elena Thomas
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: September 17, 2010
Started On: September 20, 2010
Finished On: September 20, 2010

I just had to go and buy this book after reading a review posted on Goodreads by Sparklybearsy which made me smile all over and tingle in anticipation about reading this story which seems to have hit every craving spot on when one indulges in a bit of erotica now and then!

Elena Thomas, 25 years of age, works as a secretary at the McGinty, Haylor & Smith law firm. By day, she writes legal briefs, but at night and sometimes at work, she writes down scenes of her heroes and heroines indulging in wall banging, off the charts hot sex, as an erotic romance author. With two parents who are both college professors, Elena had grown up in an environment that had taught her to suppress all her emotions one way or the other. Being someone who suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder, the one place where Elena lets go of the tight rein on her emotions and sensual nature is when her fingers fly over the keyboard, creating situations between her characters hot enough to make a girl salivate.

Nunizo McGinty is the nephew of Mike McGinty, one of Elena’s bosses. Half-Italian and half-Irish with amazing eyes, rock-cut cheekbones a firm jaw and distractingly full lips, I wish there was an IT guy or two around my workplace like him *wink*. Nunizo comes to America to visit his Irish side of the family and to obtain his Masters degree in English language. Dabbling in IT had been a side hobby of his and helping out his uncle at his law firm just gave him the excuse to hang around and salivate over the gorgeous and buttoned up red headed beauty who in his mind he called Bella, because it means beautiful, absolutely magnificent. *Swoons!*

Elena knows that she has a hankering for the new IT guy who seems to be popping around a lot the last two weeks. His smoldering gaze alone was enough to pin her down in her chair and one day, whilst Nunizo is servicing the printer that seems to be in direct sight of Elena’s workstation, her ogling session results in her accidentally sending pages of her newest novel to print.

Nunizo is surprised and more than pleased when he finds out just how wicked an imagination his Bella has and is determined that he would be the one who would make all her wild bottled up fantasies into a reality. Somehow a relationship that starts off based on physical need alone develops into something more, and changes Elena’s views on life and how she sees herself.

As most of the readers of this novella have pointed out, the opening line itself made me smile because it certainly was an attention grabber to say the least. The scenes between Nunizo and Elena are hot, hot, hot and made me want an Italian whispering sweet nothings in my ears (if you know what I mean!) *bawdy wink*

Great read for a novella, with a yummy hero and equally great heroine and enough smexing to last me until the next book? And I totally loved the comedic feel at times, Elena’s thoughts definitely made me laugh out loud a time or two. Elena as the chastised sexy bunny and Nunizo as Mr. Tall, Dark and Sinful! And don’t you just love the expression on the face of the guy on the cover! Sigh!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo | Jasmine Jade



Review: Indecent Suggestion by Elizabeth Bevarly

Format: E-bookin
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Blaze, #189
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Turner McCloud
Heroine: Becca Mercer
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: July 1, 2005
Started On: July 26, 2010
Finished On: July 27, 2010

Indecent Suggestion is a book that I have been eying ever since I discovered my love for the theme where best of friends turn into lovers. So finally when the e-format was published I managed to get myself a copy and sink into the story that I had been waiting for so long.

Turner and Becca have been friends since childhood and they had managed to stay together and go so far as to work for the same company and work as a team to land advertising projects for their company. One vice of theirs ever since they became teenagers had been their desire for smoking. The opening chapter of the book had me wondering whether the hero and heroine were already going at it even at the start of the book, but I later realized that the chapter was all about their mutual craving for a cigarette.

Thus, it is this mutual craving that they cannot seem to let go of that lands Becca and Turner at a hypnotherapists place upon Turner losing a bet that he could go without lighting a cigarette for 24 hours; a bet Turner loses at the last minute because he doesn’t want to give into the intense craving he has had for his best friend ever since they were teenagers, a fact that he had become adapt at hiding from Becca all too well.

The hypnotherapist, thinking that Becca and Turner are the married couple who have been having problems consummating their marriage puts them under and suggests to them a codeword when heard would drive the couple into a frenzy to have uninhibited sex with one another.

Though Becca and Turner had at moments in time succumbed to light petting sessions back in college and one night after an office Christmas party, Becca had always halted things before they got out of hand, out of the fear that sex would drastically alter their friendship and inevitably destroy what they had between one another.

So it takes Becca completely by surprise when she suddenly starts having cravings to get horizontal with Turner at the oddest moments. Though Turner cannot believe his good fortune when Becca comes onto him at the most inconvenient times imaginable, Turner resists giving into what his body has been clamoring for all his life.

But with like a fire set ablaze, this one burns out of control and its not long before Becca and Turner are having the time of their lives burning up the sheets. And throughout the weeks that follow, Becca comes to realize that it had been foolish of her to have kept Turner at bay for so long and she comes to realize that she might actually be in love with Turner and may have been in love with Turner all this time.

But things turn a bit confusing for Becca and Turner when they realize what the hypnotherapy session has really accomplished and it is up to Becca to convince Turner that what she feels for him is as real as the sun that rises from the East every day and that her love for him would continue to thrive for as long as they live.

I found it tedious at times to read through the numerous detailed sex scenes in the story cos I felt that the character development did not really take place along with the intense love scenes described very well by the author. If the character development had been done a bit more, I would have loved this story and it most probably would have ended up in my re-read pile.

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Review: Can’t Get Enough by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookcgeno
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Blaze, #221
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Jack Brook
Heroine: Claire Marsden
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication:  October 1, 2005
Started On: July 24, 2010
Finished On: July 26, 2010

This book was out of print when I first discovered Sarah Mayberry’s writing style and I guess this was the first book that I had shipped to Male’ because the e-format of the book wasn’t out then and I couldn’t seem to dissuade myself from forgetting about getting my hands on the book. I went as far as even emailing the author in hopes of finding out whether the e-format would be available anytime soon to which she replied that it was up to the publisher to decide when and if they would release the book in e-format.

So when I stumbled upon this book in one of the book shelves at home, I decided to go ahead and re-read this (as if I don’t have plenty of books already on the to-be-read pile) and I have to say I enjoyed the book immensely even the second time round.

Claire Marsden and Jack Brook work for the same company and right from the very first moment that Claire lays eyes on the handsome, charming and devilish Jack, her lips form a perpetual straight line of disapproval. His whole effortless charm and the way the female population tend to swoon around him grates on every nerve that Claire has and it gives her a great jolt of pleasure every time that she gives him the icy cold shoulder wherever and whenever she encounters Jack.

Jack for the world of him couldn’t understand why Claire gave off the dislike vibe so much when around him. Jack sees Claire as someone who is so uptight that he mentally imagines her as someone who would likely iron her underwear. And the tight little frown that she always has whenever their eyes meet makes Jack wonder whether the woman was born with a set of lips. Jack thinks Claire could use with some loosening up and Claire thinks Jack could use with someone bringing him down a peg or two from the high horse he is on.

But things change drastically when these two are stuck in a sweltering elevator for hours. Suddenly Claire notices that Jack is not at all what she imagined him to be and that what her best friend had talked to her hours before about Jack being pretty good in the bedroom department keeps flitting through Claire’s mind. Jack is thrown for a loop when he realizes that Claire is actually HOT and that he is panting like a dog in heat when Claire strips down to her bra and skirt to escape the stifling heat. Before they know it, Claire and Jack have the best sex of their lives and right after gets rescued.

Jack, who is frighteningly commitment phobic knows that Claire is not the sort of woman who would opt for a casual role in the hay but would want more than he is prepared to give. Claire who was brought up by her father, had for all of her life tried to win his attention by trying to be the best in everything as she possibly could. Starved for affection and love, Claire can’t help but want Jack to show her that what she experienced in the elevator with him is not a one time thing but the forever kind of thing.

Jack wants to avoid Claire at all costs but the fact that they are forced to work together on a project does not help matters along. Jack wants nothing more than to strip Claire of her boxy suites and bury himself in her hot little figure and lose himself in the red hot sensations that Claire evokes. Its a battle of the wills with these two right from the start which makes this book one hell of a read.

If you want to read a romance with witty dialogues between the characters with enough sexual tension to blow you away, this is the book for you. Highly recommended for those who love the Harlequin Blaze line.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo



Review: The Bedroom Business by Sandra Marton

Format: E-book
Read with: Microsoft Word
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Presents, #2159
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Jake McBride
Heroine: Emily Taylor
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 1, 2001
Started On: July 4, 2010
Finished On: July 4, 2010

I have been hankering to re-read this novel lately because I kept remembering just how I much I enjoyed the sparring verbal matches that take place between Jake and Emily. Jack is a self-made millionaire who is enjoying life as he always wanted to. The one thing that hampers his lifestyle are the women who inhabit his bed fully knowing that he is not the forever kind of guy and still going ahead and demanding something more from him. Thank God he could always rely on his straight-laced assistant Emily who has smoothed over his life many a time since she started working for him.

Growing up with two beautiful sisters and feeling like the odd one out because she had always been shy and more interested in books and studying than the opposite sex, Emily thinks of herself as the average brown mousy type of woman. No wonder she has been feeling restless and lonely of late because it had been ages since she had tried going out on a date. But the one thing Emily knows with gut wrenching certainty is the disdain she feels for men like her boss Jake who thinks they are the next best thing since sliced bread for women.

However from the minute one of Jake’s acquaintances turn up to see him and declare that he found his secretary who always dressed in brown tweed suites alluring and sexy, Jake can’t help the protective and possessive instincts that rise up deep within him. For Emily hearing Jake confirm what she sees herself as is the last straw for her and she decides to accept the impromptu offer to have dinner with Jake’s friend.

Jake doesn’t understand how he has turned into this seething mass of green-eyed jealousy overnight and fights the caveman instincts that arise in him whenever other men except him notice Emily. And it doesn’t help matters when Emily practically melts whenever Jake takes her in his arms which in turn creates havoc with Jake’s emotions. The continuous arguments that crop up between the two as they fight not to succumb to the alluring attraction between them is one to be savored. I found myself laughing out loud several times and whilst Jake is the type of hero who can melt you on the insides, Emily is a heroine you can relate to and root for.

What starts out as lessons in seduction for Emily certainly backfires on Jake and it is one enjoyable ride that Ms. Marton takes us on till Jake and Emily ultimately find happiness with one another. I guarantee there is never a dull moment within the pages of this book. Highly recommended for those who love Harlequin romances.

My favorite scene of the book would have to be when Jake traps Emily inside the elevator and what takes place next is just steamy hot!

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Review: The Italian Doctor’s Wife by Sarah Morgan

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Medical Romance
Series: Harlequin Presents
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Nico Santini
Heroine: Abby Harrington
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 20, 2010
Started On: May 30, 2010
Finished On: June 2, 2010

Although I read romances of various genres, medical romance is one that I tend to stay away from. I remember that the last time I read a medical romance was way back in the 90’s when I first started reading romance books. Back then, maybe it was because of my reading preferences at the time, I found myself bored with the whole aspect of medical romances where doctors fell in love with nurses.

I picked up this book with that thought at the back of my mind, that most probably I would give up reading this book halfway through. But to my pleasant surprise I found myself intrigued by the various medical literature to be found in the book, which might have something to do with the author having being a nurse herself.

This story is about nurse Abby Harrington who chooses to have a baby through an anonymous donor at an insemination clinic. To Abby’s shock, Nico Santini, the eldest brother of Abby’s best friend Lucia, who is one of the most successful pediatric heart surgeons, seeks her out and drops the bombshell that he is the father of Rosa.

Nico thinks that he donated the sperm to a couple in their late thirties and instead is angered to find out that he was betrayed into thinking that by his own sister and thinks Abby to be in cahoots with Lucia in deceiving him. Nico plans on filing for custody of Rosa thinking Abby to be an unfit mother to raise a child of his, when he is  ultimately proved wrong by just how loving Abby is with Rosa.

However the tabloids somehow find out that Abby and Nico have a baby together which propels Nico’s proposal for Abby to marry him. Abby agrees to the marriage in terms of it being a marriage of convenience but to her immense surprise and pleasure finds out that Nico has other plans in mind.

I found this story to be a charming one where misunderstandings were resolved by conversing like rational adults rather than swimming in a pool of them until the reader is ready to scream in frustration. And of course the vivid details of open heart surgery procedures carried out proved to be quite informative and made this story though short an interesting read.

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