Short & Sweet Review: Risk the Night by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookriskthenight
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Constantine
Heroine: Madison Mary Banks
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 13, 2013
Started On: April 16, 2013
Finished On: April 16, 2013

Hero: A man who calls himself Constantine, a termination specialist or otherwise known as an assassin.

Heroine: Madison Mary Banks, a reporter whose looking to do a story on men who lead lives as the one Constantine does.

Storyline: Its Madison’s need to seek the story that she wants to do on assassins that brings these two together. The attraction they have for eachother is immediate, fierce and undeniable.

Time period: Risk the Night has a contemporary setting and is told from both the hero and heroine’s points of view.

Likes: The fact that Risk the Night is a novella by my favorite author Anne Stuart is reason enough for a cause to celebrate. I loved Constantine, whose real identity is revealed close to the very end of the story; not that it makes much of a difference to the man he is. Constantine is lean, sexy and lethal and utterly too gorgeous for a woman like Madison to attract, or so she thinks. But the story that unfolds as a result of that burning need to possess & be possessed is one worth delving into.

And on a side note, all the while I was reading this book, the song Assassin by John Mayer, one of my favorites by him, kept repeating on a loop inside of my head. And it made the read all that much more enjoyable.

Dislikes: The only qualm I had with the story is that it was short. But then again Anne Stuart does a remarkable job in giving just enough tidbits for a book of this length to be enjoyable.

Recommended for: Fans of Anne Stuart who like myself cannot get enough of her books and her ruthless heroes.

Final Verdict: Lethal, hot and potent. Left me begging for more!

Favorite Quotes

And when she opened them he stood there, on the narrow little balcony. He was soaking wet, the rain running down his stark, beautiful face in rivulets, plastering his white shirt to his chest. He was there, as she somehow knew he would be.
He was everything she hungered for, everything that was wrong. She looked into his eyes, and her body convulsed in a tiny, shocking climax.
She was in deep trouble.
He pulled her, and she didn’t fight him. Pulled her out onto that narrow sliver of a balcony, out into the driving rain, and kissed her, his mouth hot and heavy on hers, wet, demanding. It was a lover’s kiss. The kiss of man who was ready to climax, and her hands, the ones that should have pushed him away, clutched his shoulders, holding on, as she surrendered to him.

“Let go,” he said, his voice a mere whisper. “Don’t fight it. Take it. Take me.” He bit her earlobe again, hard, and she cried out, sliding to a darker level of hell, shuddering in the final, building response that made no sense, she had come already, too many times, she didn’t want this, she was afraid …
And then the last barrier fell, and she tried to scream, but no sound came out as she tumbled into the darkness, free falling, her entire body shaking apart. She clawed for something to hold onto, but he fell with her, his silent, choked gasp echoing in her ears as everything went black.

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

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Requested Review: A Touch of Confidence by Jess Dee

Format: E-bookatouchofconfidence.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Samhain
Hero: Jack Wilson
Heroine: Claire Jones
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: October 2, 2012
Started On: March 16, 2013
Finished On: March 29, 2013

Hero: Jack Wilson, a high school English and history teacher whose one single passion has always been teaching who finds himself in uncharted waters when he has to take over the reins from his grandfather at his property management business.

Heroine: Claire Jones, shares ownership of the Li’L Books and Bits with her two sisters Maddie and Julia.

Storyline: Wanting to expand their business since Li’L Books and Bits is doing so well, Claire has a deal to rent out an ideal space for their second shop through Wilson Property Management when things go all awry and the space that should have been rightfully theirs goes to someone else because the new sexy giant who turns up to takeover the day to day arrangements of the business mucks things up on the first day of his job; who turns out to be none other than Jack Wilson.

Time Period: A Touch of Confidence is set in the present time and is told from both Jack and Claire’s points of view.

Likes: It’s being a while since I’ve read anything by Jess Dee and I found myself falling in love all over again with the way she writes. Jess is an author who always does a superb job out of her storytelling and A Touch of Confidence is no exception.

One of the things I loved about the story is that Claire is a plus-sized heroine with a bunch of her own insecurities to deal with. Picture perfect heroines get tiresome after a while and meeting Claire was a refreshing change from the books that normally make their way to my reading pile. I loved how Jack dealt with Claire’s insecurities when it comes to her image and  the sense of confidence that he instills in her in every way.

I loved the give and take factor entwined in the story. Both Claire and Jack have an equal amount of presence in the story and both their natures fit in together just perfectly. I just love it when that happens and the story that unfolds focuses equally on both characters.

And the heat! Oh my stars the heat! You’ve just gotta read to find out for yourself what I mean.

Dislikes: I felt the ending of the story was a bit abrupt. I was thinking that there would be a couple more pages to smooth out the ending.

Final Verdict: Heat, a hero that quotes Shakespeare and the unwavering strength of love; Jess Dee’s remarkable talent shines through – as always!

Favorite Quotes

Claire yanked at his shirt, pulling the tails from his pants, letting her hands creep beneath the cotton.
Holy shit. Hot male flesh pulled taut over rippling muscle.
He felt so damn good, a moan of appreciation escaped her throat. Jack kissed her harder, more thoroughly, and Claire couldn’t get enough of the wet heat of his mouth.

He tore his mouth from hers, panting hard, but didn’t stop their erotic dance. His eyes brimmed over with lust, with a hunger so raw it sent a hot chill up her spine.
“I swear, Claire, I may only have known you a day, but it feels as though I’ve been waiting for you my whole life.”

She meant to be polite. Honestly. But the second she caught a whiff of his aftershave, of that gorgeous, woodsy scent, her manners scattered, her words vanished and instinct took over. She grabbed his tie, yanked him forward, and stole his lips in a blistering kiss.

He buried a second finger inside her, loving the smooth slide, glorying in the spasm that ripped through her inner walls, trapping his fingers for just a second.
“Oh, dear God. That feels good.”
Fuck, she was wet. So wet. So tempting. He rubbed his thumb over her clit, and his name tore from her throat.

“When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” – Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.

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

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Review: What Not to Expect When You’re Expecting by M.J. Fredrick

Format: E-bookwhatnottoexpectwhenyouareexpecting.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Rick Cassidy
Heroine: Bailey Summers
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 1, 2013
Started On: February 25, 2013
Finished On: March 12, 2013

Hero: Rick Cassidy, middle school history teacher who hires on as the new bartender at Summers to help along his brother and his family to make ends meet.

Heroine: Bailey Summers, owner of the bar and going through a surrogate pregnancy for her brother Mitch and his partner Dean.

Storyline: When Bailey hires Rick as the new bartender for the duration of the summer, she has no idea the complication that her life would become in more ways than one. The timing could not have been worse for her to meet someone that she finds alluring enough to turn her back on all those steadfast rules that she clings on to because she is so very good at being alone and taking care of herself rather than leaning on someone else from time to time. For Rick, Bailey is a complication he would not do without and when these two get up close and personal with each other even with all the odds stacked against them, well, that’s the part of the story that packs an emotional punch that is hard to forget.

Time period: What Not to Expect when You’re Expecting is set in the present time and is told from both Summer and Rick’s points of views.

Awareness between Rick and Bailey: From the moment Bailey and Rick meet, even with all the complications that exists in each of their individual lives, there is this tangible connection and awareness of the sexual and emotional variety that springs forth between the two which paves the way to lend the story some very delicious moments.

Likes: I loved Rick. There is no escaping the fact that Rick is one of the most giving heroes I have ever come across. Its hard not to fall in love with a man who is hot, has a tribal tattoo on one of his biceps and is there for the woman he wants even when his life dictates otherwise. The patience that he exhibits is one I wish I had sometimes and needless to say you need to read the story to get the full effect of Rick into your system and I tell you once you’ve done that there is no turning back.

As always I loved the emotional impact that MJ always leaves behind with her stories. There is always so much heart in all of her stories, and she takes on some very interesting tropes to base her stories on. Acting as a surrogate mother for Bailey’s brother and his partner might be one of the most selfless and giving acts one can perform but that doesn’t mean that Bailey doesn’t have her fair share of doubts and agonizing moments throughout the pregnancy about whether she is doing the right thing for herself. And MJ explores these aspects in depth that lends this story that unputdownable quality.

Dislikes: I wouldn’t say that I disliked how Bailey turned out because there were moments when I could actually glimpse the wonderful and caring person that she is on the inside. But there were times I wished she would open up, just a little bit so that Rick would get a woman who is deserving of all that patience and love he has in abundance.

Recommended for: Those who love contemporary romances that feature slightly unusual tropes. This one’s really good! And for fans of MJ, I know you would know what you are getting yourself into when you indulge in one of her books.

Final Verdict: What Not to Expect When You’re Expecting is a novel that throws a lot of messy emotions into the mix and delivers a read that would keep you engrossed till the very end.

Favorite Quotes

She’d barely turned around when Rick pulled her close, peeling one strap down and kissing his way to her nipple. She gasped and held his head close as desire pinged off every nerve before centering between her legs. She trailed her fingertips down his chest and inside the waist of his trunks, finding him hard and hot, at odds with the rest of his water-cooled body. He groaned against her breast and stretched the leg of her suit to reach her. She bit her lower lip to keep from crying out as he stroked her, then pushed his fingers into her, filling her, thrusting deep, again and again.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Smashwords

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Requested ARC Review: Most Likely to Succeed by Kate Davies

Format: E-bookmostlikelytosucceed
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Most Likely To…, #1
Publisher: Carina Books
Hero: Nathan Barrow
Heroine: Kelsey Moore
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 25, 2013
Started On: March 7, 2013
Finished On: March 8, 2013

Hero: Nathan Barrow, works in disaster stricken countries for an international relief organization. Doesn’t care much for mixing in with the “right” sort of company & is always focused on the task at hand.

Heroine: Kelsey Moore, works at her mother’s flower shop since high school. Basically thinks herself to be stuck in a rut from which she would never find an escape from.

Storyline: Its the 10 year reunion of Kelsey and Nathan’s batch in high school and Tess, one of Kelsey’s best friends is putting everything she has into making the reunion one that is bound to shake things up. Kelsey who had crushed big time on her high school lab partner Nathan finds a golden opportunity in scratching a 12 year itch she has had for him. For Nathan, it is something that keeps pushing him to return to his hometown that has him looking forward to the reunion and of course bumping into Kelsey is one of the topmost things on his agenda.

Time Period: Most Likely to Succeed takes place in present time in the small town of Silverton and is told from both Nathan and Kelsey’s points of view.

Awareness between Nathan and Kelsey: Nathan hadn’t noticed much back in high school apart from the fact that Kelsey had been his one steady friend and the lab partner who sometimes pushed him to have a little bit of downtime from studies every now and then. The reunion opens his eyes to a side of Kelsey that he has not noticed before, an altogether alluring side that makes him want to get horizontal with her and never come up for air. The sexual tension between Nathan and Kelsey is very much a part of the developing storyline, their attraction that makes them both ready to explore the feelings of a stronger variety that emerge later on.

Likes: Though a novella, I felt that Kate Davies did a decent job out of tying up all ends in the romance that buds and fosters between Nathan and Kelsey. Both Nathan and Kelsey are likable characters. For Nathan, Kelsey is the woman who excites him and completes him every single way. And for Kelsey, Nathan is the man who makes her look deep into herself and start realizing her worth as a person; not as the person who lost her way after high school as she likes to think. And of course, even before halfway into the story, I was practically itching to learn more about each character that I encountered along the way and I can’t wait for the rest of the novellas to come out!

Dislikes:

Recommended for: Fans of contemporary romances and reunion romances. And of course, fans of Kate Davies.

Final Verdict: Great storytelling by Kate Davies. Cannot wait for the stories of Tess and Bree which I am certain would leave me begging for more!

Favorite Quotes

And then she was grabbing his shirt collar and tugging him down for a searing kiss, and he stopped thinking altogether.
Groaning into her mouth, he backed her up against the door, slamming it shut behind them. He pressed into her, her soft breasts tight against his chest and his groin easing into the sweet spot between her legs. She moaned and spread her legs as wide as her tight skirt would allow.

Kelsey moaned, wrapping her legs around his waist, hooking them together at the ankles as she rose to meet his thrusts. Her short nails scratched at his back, slipping through the sheen of perspiration that had blossomed. She lifted her head and nosed at the spot where his shoulder met his neck, latched on to it with her mouth and sucked.
Somehow, the knowledge that she was tasting him, marking him, drove him even closer to the edge.

 

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Requested ARC Review: All the Way by Jennifer Probst

Format: E-bookalltheway
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Hero: Gavin Luciano
Heroine: Miranda Storme
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 4, 2013
Started On: February 26, 2013
Finished On: February 28, 2013

Hero: Gavin Luciano is sexy with a take-charge dominant attitude that can make any heterosexual woman go weak at the knees and then some. Coming from an Italian family, Gavin is a man who has always been determined that nothing would ever prevent him from living his life and following his dreams as he sees fit – even at the cost of losing the only woman he has ever loved.

Heroine: Miranda Storme, as the name suggests is a feisty heroine if ever there was one. She is a food critic, a famous one at that, a name she had earned for herself fair and square when the one man who had invaded her heart had left her reeling when he had walked away from her without a backward glance. Bold and beautiful, Miranda is a heroine that is hard not to fall in love with.

Storyline: Gavin returns home to help his family’s ailing restaurant Mia Casa and runs into Miranda, the woman who still has the ability to take his breathe away. Gavin knows that it had been a mistake to walk away from the best thing to ever happen to him. But then winning Miranda back is not as easy as he thinks it would be as he navigates the minefield of seething emotions on both ends to conquer the woman he loves, once & for all.

Time Period: All the Way takes place in present time in New York and is told from both Gavin and Miranda’s points of view.

Awareness between Gavin and Miranda: If there is anything that Jennifer Probst excels at, and believe me she always tells a darn good story; it is the sense of awareness & heat that she creates so well between her characters which always leaves the reader begging for more. There is always a thread of sensuality spun into every scene that Gavin and Miranda appear in that sometime spins out of control and for most Jennifer leaves it up to the reader to imagine their inevitable conclusion.

Likes: There are so many things to love about All The Way. I started out reading thinking this would be just another one of those second chance romances where the heroine would play hard to get at every turn and get on my nerves. But no, there is none of that as Jennifer always creates such lovable characters in each of her stories. Miranda has good enough reason to be leery of Gavin and the second chance he offers at being a couple. At the same time I could understand Gavin’s reasons for leaving before though he could have done a better job out of it. But the fact we are all humans means we all make mistakes, sometimes of gigantic proportions that seems irreparable.

One aspect of the story I loved was the ruthless determination which Gavin puts into winning Miranda and her affections back. And by ruthless I don’t mean that he strides into the room and kisses Miranda senseless and all’s right in their world again. Hardly that. There is so much underlying emotions within the story that if Gavin had been any different, the way he won Miranda over would not have been believable at all.

I liked the fact that both Gavin and Miranda had matured enough during their time apart to understand the nuances of a relationship that makes it work and long lasting and that is exactly what Gavin tries to prove to Miranda though hiccups are encountered along the way.

And dear me, I loved Miranda’s friend Andy and of course Gavin’s well rounded family that gave me a couple of good pauses and much needed hilarity from the otherwise at times intense read.

Dislikes: For some reason though I can’t put my finger on it, I felt that in the end Gavin was the one who ended up making all the ‘sacrifices’. Perhaps sacrifice might not be the right term to use because he had changed along the course of the 3 years he had been away and his priorities had changed. But I’d have loved to see Miranda meet him half way in making their relationship work for the second time around.

Recommended for: Fans of Jennifer Probst & fans of contemporary romances, Italian heroes and second chance romances.

Final Verdict: A well rounded, sizzling story of two people whose karma lies in their entwined lives. Jennifer Probst hits all the spots with this one.

Favorite Quotes

She bit down on his lip. Her nails curled and dug into his biceps. He groaned and caressed her breasts, flicking her nipples with his thumbs, urging them to tighten and swell and obey his command. She arched.
With a growl, suddenly he lifted her up from the stool and placed her on top of the bar. Never breaking the kiss, he devoured her mouth and pushed her thighs apart. Swollen and ready, she sank into a pit of greed and lust, her body craving release and dominating her usual control.

Fear choked her and she moved to push him away, her mouth open to tell him no.
But it was too late.
Gavin surged inside of her with one strong thrust.
Fire.
Fullness.
Completion.
He interlaced his fingers through hers. Stared deeply into her eyes.
And moved. Again. And again.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Short & Sweet Review: The Lady’s Scandalous Night by Jeannie Lin

Format: E-booktheladysscandalousnight
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Tang Dynasty, #2.5
Publisher: Harlequin Historical Undone
Hero: Wei Chen
Heroine: Yao Ru Jiang
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 1, 2011
Started On: February 19, 2013
Finished On: February 20, 2013

Hero: Wei Chen, no longer a common soldier of General Li’s army, is a trained swordsman and a trusted bodyguard.

Heroine: Yao Ru Jiang, known as River. She is the younger sister of Yao Ru Shan who served in the army alongside with Wei Chen.

Storyline: Both Wei Chen and River have known each other for a long time – through their mutual acquaintance who happens to be River’s brother. Though both have never laid eyes on each other, they have spun dreams about each other & fantasized about the day they would finally meet.

First Meeting: Wei Chen and River meet each other when Wei Chen turns up at River’s village seeking them out, to notify them that he is bound by duty to kill River’s brother.

Time Period: Story is set in Tang Dynasty, China in 759 AD. Story is told from both River and Wei Chen’s points of view.

Awareness between Wei Chen and River: Jeannie Lin is a true master in creating sexual tension and delivering beautifully vivid scenes to complement all of that. And though novella is really short, Jeannie still manages to make the connection & awareness that exists between Wei Chen and River right from the very start believable.

Likes: As always, a book by Jeannie Lin is a treat to read. I love her writing style. And I know I always say that in my reviews. But that is one reason why I keep going back where she is concerned.

Dislikes: I wanted more! Much more than a novella is capable of offering. Story’s ending seemed rushed.

Recommended for: Fans of the Tang Dynasty series by Jeannie Lin. And of course for anyone who loves historical romances Jeannie Lin is definitely a treat. If you love books by Courtney Milan or Sherry Thomas, you should definitely try out Jeannie Lin.

Favorite Quotes

The pleasure rose and took him over until he could think of nothing but thrusting deeper into River’s welcoming body. He tangled a hand into her hair. Her legs curved and locked about his hips. They became nothing but shapes and sensation in the darkness.
River. His River. The reason why he’d come all this way. One final, fierce thrust and he spent himself into her.
Afterward, they lay together unmoving, skin flushed and damp with sweat.
“I dreamed of this,” he murmured, letting his head sink onto the curve of her shoulder. “I dreamed of you.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Harlequin

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Requested ARC Review: Bad Kitty by Cari Quinn

Format: E-bookbadkitty
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Erotic Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Hero: Patrick Nolan
Heroine: Nikki Carson
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 7, 2011
Started On: September 24, 2011
Finished On: September 24, 2011

The Hero: Patrick Nolan, older than his twin Easton Nolan by six minutes works in the construction business. A man who works with his hands, Patrick has his eyes on the sexy new assistant of his brother.

The Heroine: Nikki Carson works as an assistant to Easton Nolan at Nolan Real Estate. Though partying hard had been the life she had led before, Nikki becomes more goal-oriented and wants to make her life mean something after she gets the job of being Easton’s assistant.

Storyline: Nikki has a serious crush on the hot as sin twin brother of her boss. Though she knows it ain’t wise to muddy up her work life by making overtures to the boss’s sexy older brother, Nikki can’t help but say yes to the wicked proposition that Patrick puts forth on the night of Halloween at the annual Halloween party. Patrick goes on thinking that Nikki has no clue as to whether it is Patrick that she was actually with that night and a repeat performance is certainly in order if Patrick wants to come out with the truth.

First Meet: There is no indication of how or when Nikki and Patrick first meet. But I am assuming it happened during one of those times Patrick had turned up at his brother’s office for something or the other which had sealed both their fates from that moment on.

Time Period: Bad Kitty has a contemporary setting and is told from both Nikki and Patrick’s point of views.

Awareness between Nikki and Patrick: With a Cari Quinn book, you are always guaranteed a scorching hot read with enough sexual chemistry between the hero and heroine to set even your surroundings on fire. Both Nikki and Patrick are super aware of one another, both looking forward to the night of Halloween once again when they would be able to indulge in their fantasies involving one another to their heart’s content.

The turning point: Though Patrick thinks that Nikki doesn’t know the true identity of the lover with whom she had such a clandestine encounter against the basement wall, Nikki has been biding her time, wondering why Patrick continues to act like nothing earth shattering happened between them.
When Patrick finally manages to blurt the truth out, it was a moment of hilarity and tenderness both that turns things around for Patrick and Nikki.

How the relationship grows: There is not much time for the growth of Nikki and Patrick’s relationship as Bad Kitty is such a short novella. However, the book ends with the conclusion that the future shines bright for both Nikki and Patrick and it might not be a moment too soon before we hear wedding bells?

Likes: That fact that Cari Quinn is the author is always enough to entice me to open the glossy covers that grace her books and delve into the stories of the sexy and raunchy fun underneath. But mind you, her stories aren’t just about having a good time in bed, the shower or the outdoors – you name it, and Cari Quinn has the talent to deliver it. But time and yet again, Cari proves to her readers how much she values the emotional aspect of erotica and delivers characters that are both likeable, endearing and sexy – all at the same time.
For me Patrick’s character was the lure that charmed me enough to succumb to his enticing good looks and of course the heart of gold underneath all that.
Patrick makes for a very yummy hero, who has more than a few tricks up his sleeve when it comes to winning over the woman of his heart.

Dislikes: I found myself a bit disappointed with the lack of details of both Nikki and Patrick that would have made this novella much better all around. Though the sex was off-the-charts and trademark Cari hot, I would have loved to know just a bit more about both Patrick and Nikki. And maybe toss in a bit on Easton and Nikki’s best friend Julie as well. *winks*

Recommended for: Fans of Cari Quinn and fans of red-hot short erotic novels!

Momentous Scenes: Nikki and Patrick’s first sexual encounter. Plenty of ice ladies, that’s all I’m willing to divulge at this point.

Favorite Quotes

Patrick was the living embodiment of naughty. He sweat for a living—he worked on houses while his slick, polished brother sold them—and his swagger served as a convincing argument that he knew how to make a woman sweat when the lights were off, too.

She braced one palm on the wall and used the other to bring him inside her more forcefully, tearing away the last bit of civility between them. Her body yielded under his pummeling strokes. Stretching around him, drawing him in that much farther. She couldn’t get close enough.

Purchase Links: Wild Rose Press

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Short & Sweet Review: Forbidden Fruit by Rosalie Stanton

Format: E-bookforbiddenfruit.JPG
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Publisher: Noble Romance Publishing
Series: Standalone
Sensuality: 4.5
Hero: Reece
Heroine: Ashlynn Sweeney
Date of Publication: September 12, 2011
Started On: September 12, 2011
Finished On: September 12, 2011

Storyline: Ashlynn and Reece are step-siblings. Ashlynn has lusted after and has been in love with Reece ever since she had laid eyes on him. The only thing that Ashlynn is unaware of is that Reece also just might feel the same way about her.

First Meet: Ashlynn lays eyes on Reece for the first time when her mother marries Reece’s dad when Ashlynn had been 9 years old.

Time Period: Present day.

Awareness between Ashlynn and Reece: This very short story is told from Ashlynn’s point of view and her awareness of Reece which is a fact of her life starting from 10 years back hits an all time high during the story when Reece comes home for a semester break.

The turning point: When Ashlynn walks in on Reece pleasuring himself whilst watching porn and Reece realizes this fact, there is no turning back from the gauntlet that Reece throws her way; which might just change her life forever!

How the relationship grows: There is not much relationship growth in the novel though the interlude between Reece and Ashlynn certainly ends on a happy note and allows the reader to conclude that the love they have for one another would be a long lasting one.

Likes: Whether it be a short or a full length novel, Rosalie always manages to hold my undivided attention with her books and this one is no exception to the rule. I loved both Reece and Ashlynn though I didn’t get as much of them as I would have liked.

Dislikes: Knowing that Rosalie can do amazing things with full length novels, I just wish that she would write a full length contemporary romance one of these days. And this could have been really, really good if it had been the one. There was one little thing that irked me throughout Reece and Ashlynn’s sexual interlude; that Ashlynn kept thinking she was doing the dirty with her stepbrother. For me, that was a little bit of a turnoff because I wouldn’t want the heroine to be thinking about practicalities when she is immersed so deep in the web of sexual desire and wanting for the man she loves more than anything.

Recommended for: Those who love books by Rosalie Stanton. This is a short and smutty read to squeeze in in between your heavy reads.

Purchase Links: Noble Romance

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Short & Sweet Review: Ice Blue by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookice blue
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Ice, Book 3
Publisher: Mira
Hero: Takashi O’Brien
Heroine: Summer Hawthorne
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: April 1, 2007
Started On: November 16, 2010
Finished On: November 17, 2010

I have finished the 3rd book in my crazed craving for the “gamma” heroes that Anne Stuart creates so effectively, i.e. those heroes that you hate to love. Her stories aren’t definitely for the ideal romantic, but rather who can take the darker side of their heroes and still love them in the end. Its a good thing that there are still 2 more books in the Ice series left for me to go through. Hopefully by the end of the 5th book my hunger for “gamma” heroes would have been fed and appeased – or not!

The Hero: Takashi O’Brien is definitely not your average romance book hero. Though he is described as one of the most beautiful males the heroine has laid her eyes on with his high perfect cheekbones, exotic eyes of an indeterminate shade on a narrow face with a rich full mouth and hair long and silky black, Takashi is different such that he is half-Japanese and half-American. I have certainly never come across a hero who is a mix of Japanese and American in a novel before and that makes Takashi doubly appealing from my point of view. A member of the Yakuza family, one of Japan’s organized crime family, Takashi is one of the most valuable assets of The Committee headed by the cool and level-headed Isobel Lambert. Takashi had grown up with a grandfather who had never approved of him, mainly because of his tainted American blood and the eventual suicide of his beautiful and self-absorbed mother. Known as the King of Death, readers of the Ice series first come across Takashi in the 2nd book of the series Cold as Ice which I reviewed earlier. Having barely survived from the tortures inflicted on him by a mad man who had been hellbent on driving the world into financial chaos, Takashi has promised himself that he wouldn’t ever hesitate on doing what needs to be done on a mission, no matter how difficult.

The Heroine: 28 year old Summer Hawthorne, daughter of the beautiful, vivacious and self-absorbed Lianne, has an advanced degree in Asian Art and works as a junior curator at the Sansone Museum in California. Summer has had a less than ideal childhood when she had faced the dark and perverted side of human nature when she had just been around 5 years of age. It is her Japanese nanny Hana Hayashi who had mothered her, disciplined her and showered her with unconditional love, something her mother had never had the time for. The untimely death of her nanny in an accident had thrown Summer into a tailspin and she had attempted suicide the scars of which she carries till today. Summer thrives on keeping her emotions in check, a tight rein on her feelings something which she has learned to do since the last time she had broken down and cried her heart out when her nanny had died. With blond hair, blue eyes and average looks and slightly overweight in mannequin standards, Summer likes the quiet in her life something which she works hard to cultivate. The only person Summer cares more than anything else is her half sister Jilly who gets her own story in the 5th book of this series.

Storyline: Summer holds in her possession a Hayashi Urn left with her by her beloved nanny for safekeeping, something which The True Realization Fellowship, a religious cult group based in Japan would kill for. Shirosama, the head of this worldwide spiritual movement is determined to acquire the Hayashi Urn at any cost as it is a vital part of his plans on cleansing the world and being reborn as the holy man he is supposed to become. Powerful enough to initiate the launch of several deadly attacks simultaneously all over the world to fulfill his purpose, Shirsama comes under the radar of The Committee for his nefarious plans on wiping out more than half of the world’s population to fulfill his madman mission. When Summer is kidnapped on her way to her car after the opening reception of the Sansone Museum by Shirsama’s followers, Summer who has no inkling of the powerful artifact in her hands barely survives the attempt when rescue comes in the form of deadly Takashi O’Brien who spins her world out of control from the first get go. Though Summer doesn’t know it at first, it is Takashi’s mission is to obtain the original Hayashi Urn and then kill Summer, the only person in the world who knows the location of the holy shrine which Shirsama needs in order to fulfill his affairs.

The First Encounter: Summer and Takashi’s first encounter takes place when Summer is rescued by Takashi after being thrown into the trunk of a limo by Shirsama’s goons who have orders to bring Summer in alive, to coerce the information he requires by using whatever means necessary.

Time period: This story has a contemporary setting and takes place in the US, Japan and later in the UK.

Narrated in: The main story is told from Takashi and Summer’s point of  view though there is a mix of other points of views of other main characters within the story as it unfolds.

Awareness between the hero and heroine: Takashi O’Brien is a man who is known for his brilliant talent in seducing whatever he needs out of his mission. When a man of such lethal beauty whose interests lie in perfect mannequin like women finds himself helpless in his fascination for a bedraggled looking woman who is supposed to die at his hands, Takashi is at a loss as to how to control his wayward emotions. Summer whose childhood had scarred her from wanting physical contact with a man though she had tried hard with her 3 month boyfriend Scott, Summer is shocked to realize that the feelings coursing through her for a man so unlike any she had ever come across is desire to possess and be possessed in his powerful arms. The thing that I love most about the Ice series is this constant hum of awareness between the characters which heightens to unbearable levels before it explodes into the most rousing acts of coming together between the hero and heroine.

The turning point: Though Takashi is determined that he wouldn’t fail on his mission to kill Summer, the fact that he is reluctant to and he cannot go through with any of his subtle attempts on her life is a major turning point for a man like Takashi. Though he doesn’t want to admit it to himself, Summer gets under his skin in more ways than one. Things reach their heady conclusion and point of no return after the first scene of seduction where Takashi is determined to wreak havoc on Summer’s emotions and finds himself for the first time ever in loss of control of his feelings which was one of the best parts of this story.

Ending: Of course, a happily ever after for Takashi and Summer.

Likes:

  1. Takashi O’Brien. Anyone who has read my reviews on the past 2 books of the Ice series would know that I gave my heart unconditionally to Bastien Toussiant, hero from the 1st book, Black Ice in the series. Takashi comes in a close second plance to Bastien with his ruthlessness but a tenderness deep within him that refuses to be ignored when Summer comes into the picture.
  2. Summer Hawthorne. Though some readers found her to be lacking I found her refreshingly likable. Summer is a heroine who knows when to fight and when to accept what Takashi rouses in her 28 year old dormant set of emotions.
  3. Loved the scene where Takashi loses his legendary control, without even being aware of it. Mmm.. sign me up for the next American-Japanese hero ladies!
  4. Loved the ending! Brought forth a lot of emotions in me which I revel in as a reader.
  5. Loved the continuous unending adventure that never ceases to entertain in these books. There is a perfect balance of romance, adventure and pure evil in Stuart’s books that is a heady combination.

Dislikes: None.

Recommended for:

  1. Fans of romantic suspense who can stand gamma heroes.
  2. Fans of Anne Stuart.

Favorite Quotes

The feel of her body against his shook him to the core. He stared down at her, his hands on her neck, and he did the unthinkable. He leaned down and put his mouth against hers.
He felt her shock vibrate through her, but she didn’t pull away. She closed her eyes and let him kiss her, passive, accepting, and he realized in the short, endless time he’d known her he’d never kissed her. Never more than the brief touch of his mouth against hers.
And suddenly that wasn’t enough. It would never be enough. He stopped thinking, pulling her up from the bench and turning her in his arms. He caught her face in his hands and kissed her, full and open-mouthed, and her response was instant, powerful, the compliant woman vanishing. She put her arms around his neck, pulled him down to her and made a low sound of need as his tongue touched hers.

She’d shut herself off again, and as the morning light filled the car he let himself watch her. She was pale and drawn, with violet patches beneath her eyes, the scattering of golden freckles across her nose. She’d managed to braid her long hair again, but it was coming loose, tangling on her shoulders. He wanted to untie her hair and bury his face in it, breathe in the smell of it.
Hell, it probably smelled of smoke and ashes from the explosion they’d just barely managed to outrun. Her skin would smell of fear. But he wanted to drown in it anyway.
He was insane. Out of his fucking mind, and she had no idea.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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Short & Sweet Review: Breathe by Donna Alward

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd.
Hero: Jace Willow
Heroine: Anna Morelli
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 2, 2010
Started On: November 5, 2010
Finished On: November 5, 2010

Though I have never tried any of Donna Alward’s books, I have had her title Sold to the Highest Bidder in my TBR pile for quite sometime now. And whilst I was browsing through Samhain Publisher’s website last month looking for new releases (not that I don’t have enough books to be read already), I found myself interested in this story and have been looking forward to its release since then. And I have got to say I am quietly impressed on all fronts with this story as it delivers what it promises and more with this quick page turner which I loved from the start to finish.

The Hero: Jace Willow, now owner of the Two Willows Winery grew up dirt poor with two parents who had always struggled to make ends meet and to provide for him the best they could. When Jace’s father is hired by the rich Italian Roberto Morelli to look after his stables, Jace lives vicariously through his children Alex and Anna Morelli who live a life of luxury that Jace can only dream about. Roberto had always made Jace feel that he would never be good enough and that resentment alone was enough for Jace to equal happiness with being successful and being able to provide for his family all the little as well as extravagant luxuries in life. Alex had been his best friend whilst Anna had been close as well but she had always meant something more to Jace until the summer that everything changes between them.

The Heroine: Anna Morelli had grown up feeling cossetted and stifled with expectations from her rigid and controlling father all her life. Anna’s mother had walked out on them when she had been quite young and it had been Alex who had being her savior back then. But when Jace had come along, Anna’s world had revolved around Jace and a friendship that was frowned upon by her father had bloomed into something much more the summer when Anna had barely turned 18. But when Jace leaves her to pursue his dreams of getting rich and making a name for himself, Anna does the one thing that she regrets more than anything else in her life. She ups and marries her father approved Stefano for whom she bears her two adorable children Matteo and Aurelia.

Storyline: When Stefano dies leaving Anna a widow with two children in his wake, the role of the grieving widow that she is forced to play when grief is the furthest thing from what she is feeling makes Anna run towards the one man she knows that she can count on. Jace is taken aback to find his beautiful Anna, the one woman whom Jace would lay down his life for at his winery with her two children looking for a place to regroup from all that had happened to Anna till now. Resentments that Jace had long since thought buried come to the surface making a situation fraught with tension that much harder to deal with making this story one of the most angst filled reads I have read of late – a fact which I loved.

The First Encounter: There is no mention of how or what happened when Anna and Jace had first met each other. But rather there are flashbacks and memories of a past that had built a strong and everlasting bond between two people who are definitely two halves of one soul.

Time period: This story has a contemporary setting and takes place in Canada.

Awareness between the hero and heroine: Though the sexual zing between Anna and Jace doesn’t take center stage in the story, nevertheless its subtlety makes the read one worth sinking into. With flashbacks into a time when the only thing that had mattered to both Jace and Anna had been each other, the awareness between Anna and Jace never ceases all throughout the story.

The turning point: Though at first Jace resents having his life intruded upon by the love of his life and her two children when Jace had been one who was adamant on the fact that he doesn’t want children, the move into his house and the close proximity between all of them proves to be Jace’s undoing. The deep hurt, resentment and anger that Jace had stored up all through the years reach its culmination and the healing process begins as a result of which Jace and Anna get a chance to make their love work, a second time round.

Ending: Jace and Anna get their happily ever after and a beautifully done epilogue had me satisfied on all ends by the time the story was through.

Likes: I loved all the characters within the story. Jace who had been hurt so bad when Anna had married another, who still opens up his door for the woman he loves more than anything in his life, who has a twisted vision of what is actually important in life was one of the best things about this story. Anna too drew me into her character, made me sympathize with what she had gone through and I loved her for the fact that she reaches out to Jace whose wounds are festering on the inside and had enough courage to face whatever it was that kept them from communicating truthfully with each other. And I just adored both Matteo and Aurelia who just invaded right into my heart right from the very first moment. The title is so very appropriate for the story such that there was so much emotion packed into it that I forgot to breathe at times or tended to hold my breathe in as two people who are definitely made for one another tried in their own ways to show the other that nothing means more to them than making the other happy.

Dislikes: None.

Recommended for: Those who love a romance that has so much emotion packed into it that you cannot help but hold your breathe in hoping against hope that the hero and heroine gets their happily ever after – and soon before you pass out!

Favorite Quotes

“Matteo, you’re in charge of helping your sister.” Jace issued the instruction while Anna stared in surprise. He handed them a plate with crackers, tiny pieces of cheese, and baby-sized pieces of proscuitto. He fixed a similar plate for Anna, only in adult proportions, and then one for himself.
It was simple. It was perfect.
A flurry behind them announced a family of loons taking off from the river. Matteo pointed at them with a finger and Aurelia’s mouth made an “O” in response. Jace looked at Anna and smiled.
And damn near broke her heart.

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

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