Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookthebourbonkings
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Bourbon Kings, #1
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Hero: Jonathan Tulane Baldwine
Heroine: Lizzie King
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 28, 2015
Started On: July 09, 2016
Finished On: July 25, 2016

The Bourbon Kings is the first novel in a sweeping saga that tells the tales of the lives of the four siblings of the Baldwine family. It is not a simple story by any means. With multiple threads of the story happening at once, The Bourbon Kings is a novel that does justice to the reader by delivering a page-turner that is difficult to put down.

Jonathan Tulane Baldwine (Lane) returns home to the news that his mother might be at death’s door – not his birth mother, but the woman who raised all four of them with love and affection that was so glaringly absent from their lives. Lane, who otherwise had no inclination of returning, finds that his love for the woman that he had hurt beyond redemption by marrying another is still very much the owner of his heart. Furthermore, Lane also finds that the family is at the precipice of a change that could devastate them all, a change that could leave them all defenseless in the wake of it, if Lane were not to take up the reins as required.

Lizzie King swore to herself that she would never be taken in by Lane or anyone who looks as good for that matter. But the minute Lizzie’s paths crosses with that of the son that has returned, she finds that she is as helpless in the wake of want, desire and love that courses through her as much as Lane. The family politics that Lizzie has always stayed away from as an employee of the manor is what turns the tables for Lane and Lizzie, the knowledge that nothing was as she believed it to be when it comes to the deep and dark secrets of the family.

The Bourbon Kings is not a story that tells the tale of Lizzie and Tulane’s tale of love alone. It sweeps through the lives of the 4 siblings, Edward Westfork Bradford Baldwine, Virginia Elizabeth Baldwine otherwise known as Gin and Max, the one known as the free spirited sibling, the only sibling who didn’t make an appearance in the debut novel.

Edward is the hated son, the eldest who faced his nightmare at the hands of kidnappers in South America. Edward is a character that you feel for deeply, helpless at being unable to do anything much but read along, horrified at the extent of the betrayal that had basically crippled his life.

Gin being the only female sibling, is the one that carries the scars of having given birth to a daughter that she had felt ill-equipped to look after  with basically no support I am guessing, from whom she is pretty much estranged. Gin’s true love remains forever lost to her because of a decision that she is “forced” to take in the heat of the changes that comes to the family dynamics. A decision that had my heart do a dive because of the imminent sorrow I felt for her and the only man she has ever truly loved – the father of her daughter. It once again made me feel helpless as I could basically feel the horror that Gin’s life is going to be, a horror perhaps of her own making, which nevertheless does not make it any easier to swallow.

While Lane and Lizzie’s obstacles remained to be the broken trust that had shattered Lizzie in a way that she had never gotten over since Lane left the estate after his marriage and the woman who pretty much is still Lane’s wife who still lives on the estate, it is the events that takes place within the family, the deaths that came that had Lane reeling from the impact more than anything else that turns all their lives upside down. The fact that their entire family business is at peril, the name of the richest and oldest families in the bourbon making business facing the imminent threat of being dragged through the muck being the reason that requires Lane to step up and fill in the shoes that had been Edward’s role up till the moment he had cut ties from the family.

This being my first J. R. Ward, I was a bit apprehensive and pretty much excited to finally delve into something she had written. All because Ms. Ward is a name that you come across multiple times if you are lover of the romance genre. I found mixed reviews up on Goodreads for this book, perhaps given the fact that most of Ms. Ward’s fans are those of her urban-fantasy/paranormal series known as The Blackdagger Brotherhood of which I became a fan right after I finished The Bourbon Kings.

Talent of the kind that can juggle multiple lines of stories in one setting and deliver on each and every single one of them leaving the reader begging for more is one of the rarest in the world of books, especially when it comes to the romance genre. I found myself totally captivated by the immensely complex and yet profoundly broken and beautiful tale of love, lust, betrayal, jealousy, suspense and heart wrenching pain that Ms. Ward has created with this series. I became a fan from page one itself.

Looking forward to the next installment in the series, Angels’ Share, which has already come out. I can’t wait to see where Ms. Ward takes these characters that have embedded themselves in my heart from the get-go.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Sweeps you off into a setting that delivers a riot of emotions of the page turning kind!

Favorite Quotes

“You need to go now,” he said in a tight voice.
Yes, she told herself. I do.
And yet for some crazy reason, she whispered, “Why?”
“Because if I wanted you when it was just a game”—that stare of his locked on her mouth—“in my current mood, I’m desperate for you.”

He never thought he’d get this again, and though he would have liked to do a slow-and-sweet, he couldn’t. Too desperate.
He was rough with the waistband of her shorts, tearing at the button, the zipper, ripping them down her legs. And then he slid his hand between her thighs, pushing her cotton panties out of the—
Lizzie called out his name in a hoarse voice that nearly made him come right then and there. And as her fingers bit into his shoulders, he stroked her harder.
“Hurt me,” he growled as she dug into him. “Make me bleed …”

Lifting Lizzie up off the floor, he relished the way she locked on to him with her powerful arms. One tearing jerk of the zipper on his slacks and his arousal was ready to go. He split her underwear in two, and then—
The roar he let out into her neck was like that of an animal, but he paid no attention to the sound. The slick hold of her sex was a sensation he felt over his entire body, and he orgasmed immediately. So long … so long, that he had dreamed of her, and regretted what had happened, and wanted to do things differently. And now he was where he had prayed to be: With every pumping release into her, he was rewinding time, putting things back to rights, repairing the wrongs.

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

awesomeread

ARC Review: Hush by Anne Frasier

Format: E-bookhush.png
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Penguin Putnam
Hero: Max Irving
Heroine: Ivy Dunlap
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: September 24, 2010
Started On: December 28, 2014
Finished On: January 4, 2015

“It’s happening again,” was all he said. It was all he had to say.

Criminal profiler Ivy Dunlop receives the call that she had been waiting for for the past sixteen years, since the murder of her son at the hands of a serial killer dubbed as “The Madonna Murderer”. Ivy had barely escaped death herself and has been awaiting the day when she would be able to avenge a loss that has left her with its blazing mark on her.

Chief Homicide Detective Max Irving doesn’t like it when he is ordered to “babysit” the criminal profiler from Canada. Its not like they weren’t receiving enough assistance from agencies already. But Ivy’s unique insight into the killer owing to her relationship with the case makes Max change his mind.

Hush is not a romantic suspense but rather a full on suspense novel that has the bare elements of a connection forged between the leads Max and Ivy that leaves readers like myself begging for just a tad more. I had no idea when I picked this up to read that Anne Frasier is in fact Theresa Weir, whose books I have previously enjoyed.

The writing style is evocative, drawing you deeper into the dark spell that the killer weaves. A killer with definite mummy issues, The Madonna Killer’s sudden re-emmergence after a long hiatus leaves the police reeling in its wake, trying to do their best with the limited resources to unravel who the killer is.

Though Ivy has studied criminal psychology and is considered a criminal profiler, her limited experience in the field shows when she turns up to assist Max in the case. Max himself has his own issues going, with his son Ethan, whose background itself lends an edge to the story.

I loved the descriptive writing, the haunting expressions. The backstories were told in a manner that left my heart aching and I wanted so much more for the characters before the story was through. There were certain unfinished threads to the story when it ended, and I don’t mean any sort of romantic elements since the story isn’t categorized as one to begin with. That made the story feel a little less well rounded though I enjoyed the sadistic and creepy killer brought to light with the “reel-you-in” style of writing by Anne Frasier.

Recommended for fans of suspense novels.

Final Verdict: Hush is a novel that is procedural without sounding dry & leaves you wanting more!

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

greatread

Score Sheet Review: Worth the Trip by Penny McCall

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Penguin Group
Hero: James Aloysius Jones, III
Heroine: Norah MacArthur
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 2, 2010
Started On: January 24, 2012
Finished On: February 1, 2012

CATEGORY SCORE GRADE
The hero 90 A
The heroine 70 B
Story line 90 A
Emotional Intensity 90 A
Story’s ability to suck me in 70 B
Heat & Sensuality  85 A
Conflicts within the story 80 A
Writing Style 90 A
Quotable Factor 70 B
Satisfaction with the ending 80 A
Overall Grade 81.5

Score Sheet Summary

Meet Norah MacArthur, a psychology professor at the Midwest School of Psychology who has got the whole nerdy, studious professor thing perfectly laid out. Beneath the boxy suites that she wears lays a heart that has encountered too many a betrayal from a father who is one of the best conman that the state has ever seen. With him being released from prison after 15 long years of his sentence, Norah expects that all those who had wondered about the 50 million dollars worth of stolen goods that had made her father famous would come out of the woodwork with the news of his imminent release. But never in her wildest imagination does she foresee the man FBI sends her way, churning up her perfectly stoic emotions and placing her on uncharted waters.

Enter James Aloysius MacArthur, III otherwise known as Trip Jones who is charming, sinfully good looking and has got the determination to hunt down the treasure that had eluded law enforcement officials for far too long. Trip knows that the only way he would ever get Norah’s father to crack under pressure is to keep Norah by his side. But when the threats against Norah start piling up, Trip’s mission becomes a doubly risky one all the while aiming to keep his heart and emotions intact around the bristly Norah who makes no qualms about showing him what she thinks of Feds and him specifically.

And so the two opposites butt their heads together, each never thinking of the possibility that beneath all the ruffled feathers lies a passion that is worth fighting for, and from that mutual desire for each other might stem a love that could defy all odds stacked against them.

It was certainly different reading about the heroine who had major issues about commmitment and trust in general, understandable when growing up with a father like hers which were bound to leave some emotional scars behind. Trip proved to be the easier character to get to know, not just because of the sexy cover this book totes, but because he has an easy charm about him that just invites a person to move in and get to know him. But don’t make the mistake of thinking he is some pansy who can be wrapped around one’s little finger, far from that. For me, Trip Jones proved to be the factor that kept me turning the pages, his intense passion & need for Norah that is so much a part of the wicked banter these two indulge in the reason I didn’t give up on the story.

Recommended for fans of Penny McCall; her outrageously sexy hero and the banter is reason enough to add this to your book pile.

Favorite Quotes

[Trip] “You’re a pain in the ass. A wordy pain in the ass.”
“Here are two more words for you. Interfering jerk.”
“Stubborn idiot.”
“Government patsy.”
“Bookworm,” Trip shot back, and then he had her up against her car, his mouth on hers, his hands on her body, taking as much of her as he could get. She came right back at him, curling her hands into his shirt, trying to drag him closer, which was impossible since the only thing between them was a couple of thin layers of clothing and enough heat to cause spontaneous combustion.

 A bolt of lightning speared down into the lake, followed by a clap of thunder so loud Norah swore she felt the lighthouse quake.
“Jeez,” she said, shrinking back against Trip and not feeling stupid about it because it was nice to have a strong man around at a time like this. “Did you feel that?”
“Like the earth moved? That was nothing.” And he spun her around and took her mouth.

She got to her knees, running her nails lightly along his chest, loving the way he groaned, loving how his breath wheezed out when she took him into her hands, loving him, even when he reared up and said, “Now,” and took her waist in his hands and pushed her onto her back. She didn’t object or take offense. Words were beyond her, too, as he surged into her, hard and fast, and she forgot how to breathe and how to think. 

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

[xrr rating=4/5]

Caliber Seal: GREAT READ!

Review: Whispers in the Dark by Maya Banks

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: KGI, Book 4
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Hero: Nathan Kelly
Heroine: Shea Peterson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 3, 2012
Started On: January 6, 2012
Finished On: January 7, 2012

The 4th book in the KGI series is a bit different from the previous 3 books in the fact that there is an element of paranormal added to the mix of suspense and romance that makes up the series. Whispers in the Dark tells the story of the youngest Kelly brother who happens to be Nathan Kelly, who gets captured during his last mission in Afghanistan and goes through hell at the hands of his captors.

Nathan’s savior comes in the form of Shea Peterson who reaches out to him in his darkest hours, when Nathan is ready to give up all hope that he would ever escape or be rescued from the nightmare that has become his life. Shea is a woman who has telepathic abilities that allows her to communicate with Nathan. The way their connection is forged during the toughest time in Nathan’s life makes the bond between them a powerful one. But once Shea knows that Nathan is going to be safe in his family’s hands, she disappears from his life, leaving a very much devastated Nathan behind who keeps questioning his very sanity, wondering whether the woman whom he cannot forget was a figment of his imagination that had been born out of his need to survive.

Six months later, Shea once again reaches out to Nathan, this time in her hour of need which of course Nathan responds to at a speed that baffles his family members who have been trying valiantly the past few months to bring the Nathan they remember back to life. From then on, it is the Kelly’s that band up together to protect the ones they consider their own, Shea being extra special because it had been her doing that had brought Nathan back safely from the throes of Hell. 

Unlike some readers who were offended by the paranormal element that is part of this book, I enjoyed the difference that element brought to the story. For me, the connection between Nathan and Shea seemed to be that much stronger and more believable because they have been through so much together, being there for each other when they had both needed it the most. 

Nathan Kelly is a typical Kelly hero. He is uber protective and when he forges that connection with Shea, there is no turning back for him, ever. Every Kelly hero is so endearing to most romance readers because they are alpha heroes who aren’t jerks, and they have protective instincts that just wraps up the heroine in this cocoon that seems to be a safe haven from the rest of the world. And as always, the best part about a KGI book is to experience the Kelly family as a whole, how they stand up for one another no questions asked and how they are there for one another unconditionally. The bits I loved the most were the banter between the brothers that brought a smile to my face every single time, even during those most tension wrought moments. 

Shea is the type of heroine that Maya Banks creates so well. They are kind, generous and giving and have an inner strength that shines through from the very beginning and Shea is no exception to that rule. The fact that Shea is on the run for her life doesn’t stop her from helping Nathan out, even she doesn’t know him from Adam, and that is one reason why I loved her character from the beginning.

I loved the scenes of passion between Shea and Nathan which were brought to life marvelously by the author. The one thing that didn’t work for me was the bit of rehashing of the growing feelings between Nathan and Shea. For me, the connection that Maya forged between them was already real and deep enough and I would have loved the story more if more elements regarding Shea and what she was running from had been included so that the pace of the story would never falter. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Whispers in the Dark and consider this a great installment in the series of which I am looking forward to the rest of the books to be published later this year and early next year.

Recommended for fans of the KGI series, fans of alpha heroes whose protective nature knows no bounds and those who are fans of Maya Banks.

Favorite Quotes

He inhaled her scent, uncaring of the blood and dirt and grime that permeated her hair and clothing. He was holding her. Finally holding her.
“You’re real. You’re real.”
She pulled away, looked up at him, the same answering emotion shining in her blue eyes. With a groan, he lowered his mouth to hers. He couldn’t hold back. Nothing in the world would have kept him from kissing her in that moment.
He was overcome.

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

[xrr rating=4/5]

Caliber Seal: GREAT READ!

Pick of the Month Reads – September 2011 & Giveaway!

So, like the previous two months, I found myself picking two books that made fantastic reads for me, which I undoubtedly highly recommend to each and everyone who loves romances! While I managed to get the Q&A session with these posts ready for Pick #1, getting the answers from the author of Pick #2 didn’t prove to be doable.

Pick #1: The Dragon & The Pearl by Jeannie Linthedragonandthepearl.JPG

Author Jeannie Lin is one of a kind. I say this because for one thing she writes romances that are based in China during the Tang Dynasty. The prose she sets for her novels is an excellent one, one that the reader is helplessly drawn into, unable to let go until you have read every last morsel of the  story.

The Dragon & the Pearl was released by Harlequin on the 21st of September 2011. I was lucky enough to grab an ARC, having waited on tenterhooks for the release of Li Tao’s story. Li Tao’s character first appears in the novel Butterfly Swords which was released on October of last year. I managed to get Ms. Lin to answer a couple of questions regarding her latest release, which quickly made its way towards my favorite reads for the year 2011 and in turn became one my picks for the month for September 2011!

MBR: I have been hooked onto your books ever since I stumbled upon The Taming of Mei Lin. What made you venture into the unique setting of China to base your romances on? And the Tang Dynasty in particular?

JL: I grew up watching huge epic series based on the novels of Jin Yong (Louis Cha) and they just captured my imagination. These stories were the one thing that we shared across generations in my family: My grandmother, my parents, and me, my brother, my sister and all the cousins knew these tales. I always tried to explain what they were to my non-Asian friends, even trying to show them the episodes while I translated, but it was so hard to share with them what I loved so much. When I started trying to write my first novel, I think at the heart of it I wanted to be able to share this childhood love of the martial arts epics with people who hadn’t seen them yet.

The choice of the Tang Dynasty came from another historical series that revolved around the life and reign of Empress Wu and then the sequel about her daughter, Princess Taiping. I loved everything about that series: the costumes, the high drama, the intrigue. Most of all, it was the many empowered women of the Tang Dynasty that inspired me. As I researched Chinese imperial history, the more I learned about the Tang Dynasty, the more I felt it was the perfect place for adventure and romance.

MBR: At first when I picked up The Dragon & The Pearl, I thought to myself that Li Tao’s dangerousness would be mellowed to suite the requirements of the average romance reader. But, I was pleasantly surprised and later wowed by the fact that Li Tao remained true to his persona whom we come to know of in Butterfly Swords.
How did he emerge as a character into Butterfly Swords at first? Is he based on any real life person you might know of? And what made you decide not to let him be cast as just a villain but paint him in shades of grey so that he could have his own happily ever after in the end?

JL: His character development in Butterfly Swords is an interesting one. I very loosely plot my books and the last part of Butterfly Swords indicated that Ai Li and Ryam would be captured by the villain and there would be a showdown. That was it. So as I wrote the first half of the book, I wondered to myself who was this guy? My heroine had never met him, but she hates him because she’s learned he’s a traitor. I wondered would I make him cowardly? Would he be scheming and self-centered? Would he be old and fat and gross? It’s so easy to make a villain especially nasty so everyone knows he’s supposed to lose. In romance, the villains are often greedy, vengeful and shallow. They may leer and try to force themselves on the heroine. None of that was working for me.

The hero of Butterfly Swords, Ryam, was struggling with issues of worthiness and Ai Li was struggling with issues of duty and honor. In order to give them a worthy opponent, I decided I had to make him in many ways better than they were, though still a villain. Some of my favorite wuxia characters were villains or morally complex characters so following in that tradition, I created Li Tao with actually a deep sense of honor — only it was his own. It’s so easy to see what way the heroine should go when her family is forcing her into marriage with someone’s who is truly nasty, but what if Ai Li’s adversaries were well-meaning parents and a man who was by all rights, a bigger and more magnificent figure than the one she had chosen with her heart? That would truly be a test of love and conviction.

He’s not based on any real person I know, but a lot of his stubbornness and sense of conviction reminds me of my husband. (Shh….he doesn’t know). I think all characters should be gray as that’s more realistic. I didn’t intend for Li Tao to be a hero in a sequel to near the end of the writing of Butterfly Swords. In order to truly create this villain as a compelling character in so short a time, I experimented by plotting the last part of Butterfly like the beginning of a romance–only it was the heroine meeting the villain instead of the hero. If you track the events of the end game, you’ll actually see very familiar elements: Ai Li and Li Tao meet, they fight, the sparks fly. She accuses him of being a traitor, he accuses her of being impetuous and reckless.  If she hadn’t already had her adventures and fallen in love, this could have been the beginning of a hot romance! My sister recognized it immediately and told me that  Li Tao had to be my next hero.

MBR: You have a talent for creating heroines of the most unusual calibre, who nevertheless have that inner courage and fire deep inside that makes them very worthy as heroines.

JL: Ling Suyin actually is the only character that appears in all three of the manuscripts I’d written prior to publication. (Butterfly Swords was #2, BTW). She was inspired by the historical character of Yang Yuhuan who was better known as Yang Guifei (Precious Consort Yang) and one of the Four Beauties of China. I had thought about her character a lot in the other books where she was just a secondary, and though she didn’t get as much time front and center, I had in my head that she was a lot more complex that she appeared. I do a lot of daydreaming to figure out characters before I try to fit them into a story and all the little twist and turns that her life had taken kind of emerged as I tried to form why she was the way she was. All the surprises felt right–like an “Ah, that explains it” moment.

MBR: Looking forward to many more such great reads from you.

Author Jeannie Lin has very graciously agreed to giveaway a copy of The Dragon & The Pearl, whether it be an e-copy or the print version which is up for the winner to decide.

And so that brings me to my pick #2 for the month of September 2011

Pick #2: Lethal by Sandra Brownlethal.jpg

As most of you all already know, I am a HUGE fan of Sandra Brown. I still remember reading my first Sandra Brown back in the 90’s which turned out to be French Silk. From then onwards, I always made it a point to seek out her books whenever I could.

Though her later books have been disappointing in the fact that the story is more focused on the suspense aspect than the development of romance between the hero and heroine, with Lethal, Sandra Brown proves that she hasn’t forgotten nor has strayed far from knowing how to deliver a good dose of romance with the suspense aspect of the novel.

If you are fan of Sandra Brown like myself, this one’s a must-read!

GIVEAWAY!!! GIVEAWAY!!!

This post’s giveaway includes a copy of Jeannie Lin’s The Dragon & the Pearl and a Kindle copy of Lethal by Sandra Brown.

Giveaway rules are simple!

  1. Open a page of the current book that you are reading. (If you are not reading a book at the moment, open a page of the book that’s nearest to you.) And give me 3 sentences from the page you open up. Please mention the book title and author as well.
  2. Mention which book you would like to win. If you don’t mention the book you are entering for, you would not be entered for the giveaway.
  3. Leave a valid e-mail address for a way to contact you in case you are the winner!
  4. Help spread the word about the giveaway! Tweet and earn 5 extra entries, recommend this post on Facebook & earn 5 extra entries. And don’t forget to mention in your comment whether you have tweeted or recommended the post on Facebook.
  5. Like my page on Facebook to gain 5 extra more entries. If you are already a member of my page, just state so and you would gain your 5 extra entries.
  6. Giveaway will end at 00:00 hours Maldivian time on the 7th of October 2011. Winners will be contacted soon after and announced.
Thank you all so much for being a part of MBR’s Pick of the Month posts! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Review: Heaven Can’t Wait by Pamela Clare

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: I-Team, Book 1.5
Publisher: Penguin Group
Hero: William Fraser
Heroine: Melisande Charteris
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 2, 2010
Started On: January 15, 2011
Finished On: January 15, 2011

I first came across this title whilst searching through the list of published novels by Ms. Clare after I finished racing through the novels in the I-Team series at breakneck speed. Though by the time I had finished Naked Edge on October last year this title had already been released in Kindle format as a standalone from the Catch of the Day anthology this title was previously released in, I didn’t find out the fact until December last year. Thank God for the fact that someone thought of releasing this as a standalone because otherwise I would have forgone reading this delectable and delicious and entertaining novella by Ms. Clare.

Heaven Can’t Wait is a story that takes place between the 1st book in the I-Team series Extreme Exposure and the 2nd book in the series. For the world of me I can’t remember running into Lissy and Will in Extreme Exposure maybe because Reece Sheridan seemed to steal every vital thinking cell in my brain with his forceful personality in the story. Regardless of whether you have read the I-Team series or not, you can still pick this novella and read it as a standalone.

32 year old William Fraser (Will) is the sports columnist at Denver Independent and a football commentator as well. Raised by a single mother, Will had never known his father. At school Will had excelled at both academics and sports which had earned him a full scholarship to the University of Colorado. Will had been on his way to building a lucrative professional career in football when his knee had been shattered ending his dreams of making it big in the world of football. Graduating with a degree in history only to find out that his mother was dying of lung cancer, Will had been left alone when he had had to say goodbye to his mother a year after he had said goodbye to professional football. Devastatingly handsome with gorgeous blue eyes, Will has had his fair share of women and had almost given up hope of finding someone meaningful to share his life with when things hit it off with Lissy.

Melisande Charteris (Lissy) is the only daughter of wealthy attorney and his trophy wife John and Christa Charteris. Their cold and loveless marriage had worked its charm over Lissy who has a strained relationship with her mother who tries to impose her bitterness about men, marriage and love on her daughter. The fashion editor at Denver Independent, Lissy had at first taken an instant dislike towards Will when they had first been introduced when Will had joined the staff of the paper as the new celebrity sports columnist. Thinking Will to be just another brainless jock with ridiculous good looks, Lissy had turned her nose at him only to have her whole perspective of Will do a 180 degree turnabout when Will helps her after she injures herself whilst out running.

This story kicks off right in the middle of one very hot lovemaking session between Will and Lissy who are to tie the knot in 2 weeks time. The scorching hot chemistry between Will and Lissy burns right through the pages even from the first encounter itself and it is because of Lissy’s mother Christa’s meddling that Lissy starts doubting what she has with Will. As a result, Lissy proposes a bet between them that they go through the next two weeks without sex in the pretense of making their wedding night more meaningful and romantic. Not one to turn down from a challenge, Will accepts the bet and all bets are off when these two engage in a battle of sexual wills to seduce one another and see who is the first to break and admit defeat which makes this novella a highly enjoyable one.

I liked:

1- Will Fraser. Simply put, I wouldn’t mind having him convince me that going without sex with him is just plain wrong. Sinfully delicious is what he is. ^_^

2- Lissy. She is the type of heroine you root for right from the very beginning. With her insecurities that come into play during the story which she overcomes with determination towards the end, I loved her teasing nature, the way she loves Will and is willing to admit when she has wronged him. She is the best kind of heroine.

3- The incredibly sexy Scrabble game that took place! I will never look at a Scrabble board the same way ever again! ^_^

4- I loved how Ms. Clare put so much into such a short novel that made this one as meaningful as her longer novels. That takes a lot of talent which Ms. Clare has definitely got in spades.

5- Loved revisiting the I-Team once again! Always a plus point.

6- Enjoyed the conversations that took place between Will and his buddies. Several laugh-out-loud moments there.

I disliked: None

Favorite Quotes

Her breath came in shudders. Her lips were parted, her eyes closed, her hands clenched into fists in her lap. When her head fell back onto his shoulder, he did what he’d wanted to do all night. He kissed her full on the mouth – and she kissed him back.
It seemed like forever since they’d kissed like this with lips and tongues and teeth, and he found after the first kiss that he wanted more. With a groan, he took her beneath him, pressed her back onto the cushions, kissed her harder, deeper.
She arched against him, wrapped her legs around him, moaned into his mouth, a sweet feminine sound that made every muscle in his body tense and sent his mind reeling with urgent, throbbing lust.

Recommended for: Fans of Pamela Clare and fans of short and hot contemporary romances.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

[xrr rating=5/5]

Caliber Seal: OUTSTANDING READ!

Review: Fragile by Shiloh Walker

Format: E-book
Read with: Kindle For PC & Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Fragile, Book 1
Publisher: Penguin Group
Hero: Luke Rafferty
Heroine: Devon Manning
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 3, 2009
Started On: June 24, 2010
Finished On: June 24, 2010

I read Fragile in early 2009 when the title was first released. Reading the second book Broken of the series focusing on Luke’s twin brother Quinn Rafferty earlier  this year when it was released in March had me wanting to re-read and re-visit the characters of Fragile, a story that had always left a deep impression on me since it is that good a story.

Fragile is the type of story that defines why Shiloh Walker is a favorite author of mine who definitely rates at the highest on my auto-buy list. My friends kept teasing me because I was in such agony when Broken was first advertised to be released and I guess anybody who has read Fragile would understand my fascination with Quinn Rafferty and I have no doubt many of those who have read Broken would agree with me that he is one sigh worthy hero.

This does not mean that Luke Rafferty on his own is not sigh worthy himself. For me, I think I enjoyed Luke’s quiet intensity a bit more than Quinn who is a bit more darker and edgier than Luke, which is quite understandable based on the fact that whilst Luke and Quinn are twins, they were separated at birth when their mother who is a drug addict fled with Quinn just so she could punish their father. Their mother had gone underground not to be found no matter how much Luke’s father had tried to find them, and in the end, it was the inevitable death of their mother by drug overdose that brought Quinn back into Luke’s life. Luke had never known till then that he even had a twin and the first few pages of the book bleed raw emotion when these two first meet, a belligerent and abused Quinn with Luke who had got the better end of the deal when he ended up with his father.

Years later, Luke and Quinn are both serving in the army in Afghanistan when a round of bullets rip through Luke’s leg ending his stint in the army. By then Luke had already tired of the continuous stream of violence that never seemed to end. So trading in his combat gear for hospital scrubs seems to fit Luke like a glove and it is there that he encounters Devon, a social worker who doesn’t come to the hospital with the best of patients.

From the get go, Luke is fascinated with Devon and although she doesn’t seem like she knows that Luke even exists, Luke can’t help looking out for her while on duty. Devon though she doesn’t let it be known is warily interested in Luke. Sexually abused when she was young and being lost in a dark place for a long time until a social worker had pulled her out of it and helped her, Devon has her own hang ups surrounding her.

To Luke Devon is as fragile as a piece of well spun glass and wants to protect her from all evil elements but Devon on her own is a force to be admired. Though Devon knows Luke is a complication that she best avoid, the intense awareness and attraction between the two doesn’t rest until they end up together. The best part of the story for me was the fact that Luke seems  to take so much care with Devon and it just touches the right places in my heart to read through such a wonderful character.

Though Devon and Luke’s relationship progresses and ultimately fall in love with one another, there are forces around them that create havoc on their relationship. Stalked and nearly bludgeoned to death doesn’t seem to be the end of the upheavals in store for Devon and Luke. Someone more sinister than the likes anyone could imagine continue stalking Devon until it eventually drives Luke and Devon apart. The pieces only fall in place at the very end and its a long and tough road for Luke and Devon until they find peace and happiness with one another.

This story ends off begging for Quinn’s story to be told. And it is a testament to Ms. Walker’s ability that these two stories are so wonderful that it begs to be read from start to finish in one sitting.

If you haven’t already read these two books, buy them, find yourself some quiet uninterrupted time and lose yourself in the two Rafferty’s that would individually charm and seduce you with the turn of each page.

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

[xrr rating=5/5]

Caliber Seal: OUTSTANDING READ!