April 30, 2008

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The Midnight Man
It's been seventeen years since bad boy Simon Riley hopped a freight train out of town and Ellen Kent's given up wondering what happened to him. Running a successful bed and breakfast in Oregon's LaRue River Valley hasn't left her a lot of time for fantasizing about the one who got away. She's put aside her dreams of midnight kisses and secret passion . . . until an unexpected visitor knocks on her door. Simon is back. She had no idea that he was a famous photojournalist, working in war zones around the world. But the man is everything she wants in a lover--and more . . .

The Midnight Hour
Dogged by trouble, Simon swore he'd never return to this backwater town, even to see El Kent. But he had to come back to investigate his uncle's sudden death--and he must face the demons of his past. El's lush beauty still tempts him beyond belief. He knows he can satisfy her most hidden desire, to the point of complete abandonment and total ecstasy. And he's hungry for the sensual tenderness that only she can give--hungry for her.
The last thing Simon would ever do is hurt El, but someone is forcing his hand. Someone who will stop at nothing to keep the past dead and buried--even if it means silencing the woman Simon loves . . .

Simon and Ellen have known each other since they were kids and they were each other's first loves. Circumstances lead to Simon leaving his hometown and Ellen behind but his uncle's death brings him back. In the meantime Ellen is engaged to be married into the town's most influential family but she is not happy and Simon's return leads to not only a reunion of childhood friends but also to the rekindling of a love that was never forgotten. Little do they know that they have a lot to overcome before they can be together.

Simon is a loner, he had a terrible childhood and the only person who cared for him was Ellen and left he her. He is seductive and manly. But he is also endearing in this grieve for his uncle and his feelings for Ellen. His youth was awful and his only link to goodness or comfort was Ellen. Now he's back and he's guilt ridden for leaving Ellen behind all those years ago and for dragging her into his troubles now that he's back.

Ellen is persistent and a bit insecure, which she masks with her compassionate nature, she's caring and determined when she believes in something or someone. She has always had a weakness for Simon and after losing her virginity to him when she was a teenager she knew she would never love anyone as she did him. After Simon left town and her she picks up her life and moves on. When he returns she can't believe he's back to turn her world upside down and she's not ready to forgive him just like that for leaving her.

I love the development of McKenna's heroines. They start rather insecure and sometimes a bit timid but during the book they develop into strong-minded and determined women who don't take any crap from no one, not even the hero. This was definitely the case with Ellen. Her persistence is unstoppable and she manages to show Simon what it's like to be loved and cherished and she convinces him to accept these feelings.

McKenna's heroes are something else! Each one of them (at least of the three books I've read) has had terrible things to deal with and still they have the will to go on and find and accept love from the women in their lives. They are alpha to the bone with just the right amount of dominance to make them into drool-worthy men. This goes for Simon too. Underneath his alpha behavior is a man who's been hurt and rejected so many times he doesn't dare to recognize Ellen's feelings of love as they are meant to be. He thinks she pities him and feels sorry for him and he certainly doesn't think he's worthy of her love.

The secondary characters are equally well written as the main couple. Again their actions are perfectly motivated and meaningful, even those of the less likeable secondary characters. Most of them are not there just to fill the pages but have a genuine and important part in the plot and therefore you get a deeper glimpse of their reasoning and behavior. I love it that McKenna manages to give characters that seem very bad (in the sense of evil) in the beginning means to redeem themselves and they turn out to be more likeable than you think at first. She did this in the first book and again in this book.

The third McKenna book I read again was able to stir my emotions in a big way. Again it was typical McKenna in the sense of characterization, character-development and intensity. The attraction between hero and heroine is amazingly intense and sensual. The love scenes are highly erotic and tastefully written.

Again the plot is known to the reader but for me that didn't make it less exciting. How everything unfolds at the end was still surprising enough to keep me turning the pages. The suspense plot it a bit less intense and thrilling than in the McCloud books and the focus is less on the suspense in this book but McKenna more than makes up for that with the characters and their intensity. Simon, Ellen and several secondary characters are great, well-rounded characters with lots of depth to them. Their story is carefully told in a fast pace and it's easy to relate to them and their pasts.

So even though this book was less focused on the plot, it was still an amazing read that kept me enthralled. McKenna's writing style is very appealing to me. The way she combines plot, strong well-rounded characters and eroticism is unique in my eyes. The backgrounds and motivations of her characters have a similar theme in all the books but still each book has it's own unique feel because in each one the focus is on a different aspect of the characters or the plot.

Another great story delivered by Shannon McKenna that left me aching for more of her wonderful heroines, her delicious and tormented heroes, her intense love stories and her love scenes that set the pages on fire!

He wore a thin, crumpled, white linen shirt buttoned halfway up his golden chest. His face was shadowed with bad-boy beard stubble. That indecent, give-me-sex-now smile on his face would be more appropriate if he were lounging stark naked in bed.

"You're doing it again El. Your angel act. Sweet and selfless. Sacrificing yourself on the altar of my lust."
"I love the altar of your lust, Simon Riley. I want to drape a nice quilt over it, toss on some pillows and make it into my permanent bed."

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April 29, 2008
I'm leaving for a short city trip to Berlin, Germany tomorrow morning!
I won't be back until Sunday evening.
I don't know if I have time to read, since we're going with some friends and we've got a lot of fun and sightseeing planned.

But just in case I'm bringing along 4 books:

Return to Me - Shannon McKenna (currently reading and I don't think I'll be able to finish it before tomorrow since I still have all the packing to do tonight)
Dream Chaser - Sherrilyn Kenyon
Moving Target - Cheyenne McCray
If You Desire - Kresley Cole
April 25, 2008

Prepare yourself to be swept off your feet by strong, intense, compelling characters; a mythical, thrilling, action-filled plot with unexpected twists and turns; heartfelt romance and scorching passion.

Click on the cover and go to the "Recently Updated" page to read the full review!
April 22, 2008

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Spirited beauty Lilian Loring believes that love is too risky a venture and marriage is best avoided entirely — even if her unwanted suitor comes as deliciously packaged as Heath Griffin, the Marquess of Claybourne. The charismatic rogue has never had a woman discourage his advances. But after a show of resolve, Lily melts under Heath's sensuous kisses. Indeed, perhaps that is why she decides to hide out in the last place a gentleman would look for a lady: a house of scandalous repute.

In bold pursuit, Heath discovers his enchanting spitfire cheerfully instructing the demimonde in the art of deportment and manners. Now the thrill of the chase is exceeded only by his powerful need to possess Lily as his bride. For Heath, victory in their game of passion means nothing less than winning Lily's elusive heart…

When she meets the Marquess of Claybourne, Heath Griffin, Lilian (Lily) Loring is immediately intrigued by him and the attraction is undeniable no matter how much she would like to ignore it. Heath slowly but surely chips away at her defenses and makes her realize that not all noblemen are what the general opinion says of them. Lily finds it more and more difficult to resist his charm, passion and allure.
What starts as a pursuit of pleasure, turns into a game of cat and mouse that eventually leads to a deep and heartfelt love match.

Lily is the "misfit" of the Loring sisters, not only different in coloring with her dark complexion, eyes and hair next to her fair sisters, but also in her personality and demeanor. She is the one considered the spitfire, hellion and hoyden. She refuses to be subdued into the conformity of the "ton." She chooses her own path in life. She is vivid and vibrant, unconventional and compassionate. She is very outspoken and says exactly what's on her mind. She has a profound view of marriage and why she would never want to be trapped in one. In her eyes marriage leads automatically to unhappiness. This is something she grew up with, something she saw in her parents' marriage.

Heath has the reputation of being a heartbreaker. He is adventurous and daring. But he also has a big heart and tries to do good by the people he cares for. He is so enthralled and fascinated by Lily, he is determined to show her marriage and love doesn't automatically lead to hurt and being controlled. It can also be passion and pleasure. At first for Heath it's the thrill of the chase that makes him pursue Lily. She is the first woman who doesn't fawn over him for his status or his appearance. But when he gets to know more of the person Lily is behind her defiant and spitfire fa├žade, his feelings for her grow deeper and more sincere.

Heath's persistence and Lily's stubbornness are truly endearing. I understood Lily's aversion to marriage and why she kept resisting Heath's courtship of her because she was the sister most affected by their parents' disastrous marriage. Being dominated, being at the mercy of a man is her biggest fear and she'll do anything not to end up in such a situation. Even if it means denying herself happiness with a man who truly cares for her and has no intentions of dominating her.

Lily and Heath carried the story in the best way possible, being amazing primary characters. But I must say I also loved the secondary characters. They were well fitted into the plot and added to the compelling character of this book. There were some characters that in my opinion were screaming for their own book and I hope Nicole Jordan will hear their pleas and write their books too.

Though the basic structure is the same for all three books, each book has its own character and feel. Of course this is due to the different personalities of the heroes and the heroines and their backgrounds. Each book also has a different plot alongside the love story. The recurring theme of the poor example set by their parents' marriages is also present in this most recent book of the series.

The story besides Heath and Lily's romance is one that holds attention but doesn't take over the complete book. It's there to give the romance the body it needs to become more than just a mere tale of passion and love and turns it into a full, rich and colorful love story. In fact I can honestly say this is one of the best-written and plotted regency romance I've read in a while with love scenes and sensual attraction that are truly tantalizing! It was the most heart-stirring book of the three. The balance between intense emotions and the sensuality was exquisitely done.

Where the previous books in the trilogy didn't reach the level of Jordan's Paradise or Notorious Series, this one absolutely did and surpassed them by a landslide!
This was Nicole Jordan at her best. Intense, passionate and sensual!

The final battle of the Courtship Wars has been fought and there are only victors to reap the passionate spoils!
This book was the one I anticipated the most in the trilogy and that anticipation was thoroughly and utterly satisfied.

He kept his body pressed against hers while his lips found her ear. "I could make you scream with pleasure, Lily. But in the end, all that would be engaged are our bodies. It is your heart and mind I want. Your very soul."

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April 16, 2008

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Fueled by pain and rage over a shattering betrayal, the warrior Rio has pledged his life to the war against the Rogues. He will let nothing stand in his way--least of all a mortal woman with the power to expose the entire vampire race. But now an ancient evil has been awakened, and a stunning darkness is on the rise.

For journalist Dylan Alexander, it began with the discovery of a hidden tomb. Suddenly she is at the center of a gathering storm of violence and secrets. But nothing is as dangerous as the scarred, lethally seductive man who rises from the shadows to plunge her into his world of dark desire and endless night. Here she is powerless to resist Rio's touch, even as she uncovers a shocking link to her own past. Now Dylan must choose: Leave Rio's midnight realm, or risk it all for the man who has shown her true passion and the infinite pleasures of the heart . . . .

Rio is a Breed Warrior ready to give up on everything and everyone, including himself, after over a year of futile attempts to recover from severe injuries to his body and mind after a betrayal that hurt not only him but also the entire Order of Breed Warriors he once embraced as his family. He is suicidal and full of self-hatred and doesn't care about anything anymore except for ending his sufferable life. But then a journalist stumbles into the assignment his fellow Warriors left him to handle, he has been dragging on for months and now because of her discovery he has to go after her to secure the secrets of the entire Breed. His life has purpose again.
Dylan Alexander is an unknowing Breedmate, Her reporter curiosity and Breedmate gift lead her to a story that will change her life forever. Having known rejection and solitude in her life she has learned to be independent and cares only about her mother whose weak health is threatening the fairly decent life she has managed to build. Until on a tour of Europe, the discovery of a cave and an extraordinary man starts a string of events she could never have dreamed up for the newspaper she works for.

Dylan is curious, cynical, smart and stubborn. She is used to handling everything on her own and taking care of her mother. But then she meets Rio, a man who fascinates her while she should feel revulsion, if not for his physical appearance then for his emotional deficiencies. Slowly Dylan starts to accept what she is, the world she belongs to and her feelings for Rio.

Rio is a broken man, both emotional and physical. Betrayal has left scars on both his mind and body and his past and present both touched me deeply. We met Rio in the first book of the series and he's been appearing in every following book. The disclosures of little bits of information on his recovery (to know from what I recommend reading the previous books in the series) held me until I could read his own story and have a chance to get the whole picture on Rio. I knew Rio was damaged from reading the previous books but it wasn't until reading his own story that I realized to what extent.

Both Dylan and Rio are proud and defiant and their story is set up gradually and carefully, which I found perfect because especially Rio had some issues to deal with before he could commit to his feelings for Dylan.
Despite the fact that the story is set up gradually and carefully, it's still written in a pace that kept me going back to the book every minute I could.

Again the secondary characters play their perfect roles, enhancing the story with their appearances and actions. Two new warriors who were briefly mentioned in MIDNIGHT AWAKENING were fleshed out a little bit more and prove to be some interesting characters. I hope Lara Adrian will write their stories too. Sterling Chase remains an enigma, and a very intriguing enigma too. For me he and Nikolai are the warriors whose stories I anticipate with the most eagerness. The agony of waiting for Niko's book (VEIL OF MIDNIGHT, Dec 08) has begun with the glimpses of Niko I had in this book, they only made me crave his book more!

I can imagine some readers will find this story the least of the books up until now and I don't agree with that. I think this book has the purpose of setting up a twist in the ongoing plot and Lara Adrian did a great job with it, without taking the focus away from Dylan, Rio and their feelings. For me the balance between romance, plot, action and characters was flawless and provided a fluent, fast-paced and captivating story as a result.
After reading MIDNIGHT AWAKENING I thought I knew where Lara Adrian was heading with the ongoing plot of the Rogues and other enemies of the Order but she again she has managed to surprise me at the end with some mind-blowing disclosures en I'm certainly curious as to where she is taking us next in this mesmerizing world she has created in this series.

In my eyes with the Midnight Breed Series, Lara Adrian has created an amazing world within the vampire romance genre that really stands out in the plot department. With every book more information is disclosed, more elements and characters are added and you get better acquainted with the existing characters. Each book is unique in plot, intensity and character development, despite the similarities that glue the series together and each main couple has their own issues and Lara Adrian provides each hero and heroine ways of coping with these issues and each other. The perfect mix of all these elements is what makes this series a keeper for me

Book 4 of the Midnight Breed was everything I expected it to be! Lara Adrian has been on my auto-buy list since the 2nd book in this series and with MIDNIGHT RISING she has only secured that spot more. With her fluent and accessible writing style and the fascinating ongoing storyline Lara Adrian pulled me deep into this enthralling world with its unique band of vampires, their mates, their allies and their enemies.

"Dylan. Get away from the goddamn door."
I can smell you, Dylan, and I want to... taste you. I want you, and I'm not sane enough to keep my hands off you if I were to see you right now."

He drew from her with a needy intensity, his fangs grazing her skin, his tongue creating a demanding, delicious friction with each hard, wet pull at her vein.

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April 15, 2008
This book was released on April 1st and I reviewed it for REALMS ON OUR BOOKSHELVES

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John Parker-Roth cannot believe that marriage is necessary for his happiness. He would far rather pursue his interest in horticulture, but if one day he should find a female who shared his passion for flowers-a level-headed, calm sort of female-he might reconsider. Certainly the lovely young woman who has just tumbled into his lap will not do, as she possesses neither of those admirable qualities. Yet Miss Margaret Peterson does have many things in her favor. To begin with, she is a true English rose, blushing a delectable pink. And she is not entirely clothed. Her full mouth begs to be kissed. If only she would not wriggle so. Oh, dear. He cannot ignore the sudden vision of her in his bed, but he must.
What? Is Meg actually asking him to kiss her? Well, well, well. John Parker-Roth is a gentleman, first and foremost. And he cannot turn down a lady's request.

John Parker-Roth (Parks) and Margaret Peterson (Meg) met each other in Lizzie and Robbie's book (The Naked Earl) and were immediately drawn to each other and not only because of their shared interest in horticulture. But both are reluctant to give into their feelings. Then things change quickly when Parks saves Meg from a determined and unwanted suitor in a dark corner of a garden. This lands them in a delicate situation and they are discovered by the ton's biggest gossip.
Parks does the honorable thing and offers for Meg but Meg declines not wanting to trap him when he was just being her savior. Her begins the song and dance of courting between two people meant for each other. Their love story unfolds in the midst of balls, house parties, meddling friends and relatives and under the watchful eye of the ton.

Meg is a lovely heroine; she is strong-minded, determined and intelligent. She is practical in her reasons for choosing a husband but goes about it in a way that's not very sensible and that's is where her friends and relatives come in and draw the line.
Parks is the epitome of properness and decorum. He seems only to be interested in horticulture after a not so successful venture into the marriage mart. But then he finds Meg who ignites very passionate feelings in him and not only because she's interested in horticulture.
The characters were all very well developed and lovely. Parks and Meg sparkled and sizzled together! Their chemistry brings out the wilder side in them and that was a delight to read.

The secondary characters were all equally complementing to the romance between Parks and Meg. Old friends from the previous books make their appearance and are even developed further in this book, though they never take over the focus from the main couple. Although some pages were dedicated to secondary characters and their own romances, this never bothered me. On the contrary, it made the book more appealing.
Along with the familiar secondary characters, there are some new ones who contribute to the humor that I liked so much in this book. No laugh-out-loud humor but witty bantering and funny situations that fit right in the whole feeling of the book.

There is no other real plot in the book other than the developing romance between Meg and Parks and the circumstances that lead to their marriage. The book is character-driven more than action-driven, focusing on Meg, Parks and everybody interfering in their relationship. No mysteries to solve, no thefts, no threats. Just the journey of two people finding love and companionship, sprinkled with a healthy dose of humor and sensuality, which I truly enjoyed reading.
Despite that there was no other plot than the romance, it still was fast-paced and hard to put down. I finished it before I knew it and with a satisfied feeling. The writing style is uncomplicated and easy to read but still fitting the Regency-period it's set in.
MacKenzie manages to take it up a notch with every book, keeping it refreshingly original with each one being different in plot and romance. But still they are kept together by the recurring (secondary) characters.

If you like an uncomplicated and fun Regency read I do recommend The Naked Gentleman. It's witty, it's endearing and it's very sexy. It will most definitely keep you entertained for a few enjoyable hours. The first line of the opening chapter plastered a smile on my face and it stayed there until the very last page.
Sally MacKenzie again hasn't failed to please me with this fourth installment of the Naked Nobility-series. I can't wait for the next naked nobleman and his heroine.

Meg: "Lady Dawson, I have been trying to explain. Mr. Parker-Roth and I do not converse." The man is too busy doing other things with his tongue to have a conversation.

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April 13, 2008

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Something happens when the beast within is teased and tempted. Something dangerous. Something inescapable. Something so irresistible no woman would want to run from it.
Whether transforming beneath a cool blue moon, prowling the streets with feline grace and bloodred talons, or panting with pleasure, the shifters come alive to fulfill your wildest fantasies...

Angela Knight - Mad Dog Love
Interstellar empress Zarifa Lorezo desperately needs protection against the royal assassins who are out for her blood. She decides to buy a bodyguard -- a powerful werewolf slave named Rance "Mad Dog" Conlan.
She soon realizes that despite his slave collar, Rance is a very dangerous man -- and not just because he can turn into a seven-foot wolf.

This is the story of Rance Conlan, a genetically engineered werewolf from the Freeworld and Zarifa Lorezo, the empress of Throneworld. The story is in a futuristic setting (year 2450). Slavers have captured Rance and Zarifa, in need of protection, buys him to escort her on a mission for her freedom.

According to Angela Knight this is a werewolf story, but in an entirely different universe from the Mageverse series. Since I have not read anything in that series yet and Angela Knight is a new author for me I was able to make my review without comparing both worlds.
As said this was my first encounter with Angela Knight's writing and I must say that although at times it was a bit too Star Trek/Star Wars for my taste, I still enjoyed this lovely tale of passion and betrayal.
The main characters were good together, having more to them than met the eye and even if it was short I did get a good picture of their personalities. There were some intriguing secondary characters, adding to the futuristic feel of the story and the plot was surprising.

I think I'm going to have to make time for the Mageverse series soon because this little taste of Angela Knight's writing certainly does ask for more.

She might own him, but just now, he owned her. Her body danced to his tune, her breathless voice begged for the pleasure only he could give.

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Lora Leigh - A Jaguar's Kiss (part of the Breeds Series)
I could not find a back cover/synopsis for this story but in the book itself was a little explanation about the origin of the Breeds. A small summary:
They were created, not born. Trained, not raised. Humans genetically altered with the DNA of the predators of the earth: wolf, lion, tiger, cougar, jaguar.
Now they are banding together, creating their own society fighting to hide the only secret that can destroy them. The secret of mating heat, the chemical, biological and emotional reaction of one Breed to the man or woman meant to be his or hers forever. It's their Achilles' heel, their strength but also their weakness.

This is the story of Natalie Ricci, a non-Breed teacher and Saban Broussard, a Jaguar Breed; he's Cajun and a Breed Enforcer.
When Natalie is given a position as the first non-Breed teaching Breed children in a public school, Saban is assigned as her bodyguard to escort her to her new job just outside Breed headquarters. When Saban lays his eyes on Natalie he knows she is his mate. Saban binds her to him in a way that takes away her freedom of choice.
Natalie, who is not familiar with the ways of the Breeds and is just coming from an ugly divorce from a controlling husband, doesn't give in with out a fight.
The outcome is inevitable, even when her ex-husband, instigated by the Breeds enemies, comes to cause trouble.
Natalie and Saban are great together and perfect for each other. Saban is alpha, protective, possessive and determined. Natalie is fierce, intelligent and independent. She has a dry sense of humor and despite the strong, initially physical, attraction between them she gives Saban a hard time in convincing her she is his mate.

Lora Leigh describes Natalie's struggle and Saban's determination in a very emotional and captivating way. She gives this short story an unexpected and fascinating depth. Same goes for the love scenes; they are spine tingling.

In the anthology this story had the biggest page count and though the story was masterfully set up and worked out at the end I was really craving more.
The concept of the Breeds, their abilities and everything that surrounds them is truly appealing to me in this novella.
This story is part 15 in the Breeds series and although I have read other Lora Leigh books, it is my first encounter with this series. It made me want to go for the full-length books immediately to get acquainted some more with this -to say the least- fascinating world.

Natalie, after Saban has bound her to him against her will: " I don't care if Coyote's are swarming Sanctuary with grenade launchers. Get some of those badass Breeds you prize so highly out here to collect him, or I'm going to kill him. And after I kill him, I'll hang his mangy, worthless hide in my front yard to show everyone else exactly how it's done.

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Alyssa Day - Shifter's Lady (part 4 of the Warriors of Poseidon)
Alpha were panther Ethan is finally starting to make an edgy peace with the first Atlantean to encroach upon his territory. But will he need to make room in an even rockier terrain -- his heart -- when the Atlantean's beautiful sister Marie arrives and disrupts every facet of Ethan's well-ordered existence?

Marie has decided to visit her brother (Bastien from part 2) on the surface and meet his new life mate, Kat. She travels to the preserve where they live but when she arrives Bastien is summoned to join the search for Justice (if you want to know what happened to Justice you have to read Atlantis Awakening or this novella). So Marie is left alone with Kat and a very intriguing were panther, Ethan, a shape shifter who ignites something inside her she never has experienced before.

Marie is the First Maiden of the Temple of Nereids of Atlantis. That’s a mouthful but it comes down to being the head midwife of Atlantis. She has always led a bit of a passive life. Devoting her life to the Temple. Even though it's a dangerous time on the surface, outside Atlantis she decides to visit her brother and not even Alaric can persuade her not to go.
Ethan is the Alpha Male of the Big Cypress panther pride. Once he had his eyes set on Kat Fiero and thought she would be his mate but that was before Bastien came along. He is searching for the person or creature that is attacking and killing panthers in his pride. The discovery of who and why is surprising and the issue is solved in a thrilling climax. Marie makes his world turn on its axis the moment he first sees her.

The chemistry between Ethan and Marie is instant, explosive and very sensual. I was afraid at first that Marie wouldn't be the fierce, brave heroine that Riley, Kat and Erin were but I was wrong. She really stood her ground with Ethan, giving him a run for his money. Still as much as I loved Marie it was Ethan who stole the show for me in this novella. All male, all panther, all alpha and of course he possesses the signature quirky, dry sense of humor all Alyssa Day's heroes have.

It was great to see Bastien and Kat again, their story was also a short one in an anthology so to see how they were doing after their story was very welcome.

I have but one complaint about this novella. It was TOO darn short!
In the mere 67 pages there were smile-inducing moments, inner thoughts and dialogues. Sensual love scenes, a breathtaking fight scene and the humor were once again trademark Alyssa Day: exquisite. I can't but praise Alyssa Day's witty writing style.
Both the wit and the chemistry provided some many quotes I wanted to share but if I used them all it would be half of the story. I found it very difficult to chose just two when normally in novella-reviews I have trouble even finding one. For me this says a lot for Alyssa's writing.
I absolutely adored this newest installment in the Warriors of Poseidon series. I love the world, I love the characters, and I love the action. I'm not favorable to short stories but I loved this one. Alyssa Day is one of the very few authors who manages to pull that of.
And even if this story had a different feel to it because it was more about the shape shifters than the Atlanteans, it still fits right in the series. The ongoing plot from the full-length books doesn't return in this story but to be honest I didn't really miss it.

Marie smiled up at him, and the bottom dropped out of his world.

Marie: "Must I have the same talk with you that I have had with my brothers so many times over the centuries? The one about individual responsibility? Where I explain in very simple words that I am no fragile Atlantean flower to be cared for and coddled in a hothouse?"
Ethan: "Simple words might be a really good idea, beautiful, because I'm having a hell of a fight with my inner cat right now, who wants to carry you off, strip you bare and lick all of that deliciously creamy skin of yours."

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Virginia Kantra - Sea Crossing (first part of the Children of the Sea series)
Emma March, seduced and left with her reputation ruined by the Governor of the girls' school where she is a teacher, decides to leave England, go to Canada and try to build a new life there. But then the ship wrecks in a storm and she falls overboard.
A seal saves her and from then on her life takes a whole other direction than she had in mind.
Griff(ith) is a Selkie (seal shape shifter) and the warden of "the Sanctuary", where the adolescent selkies are taken for their "change". He is sent off by the prince of the sea to find a teacher for these unruly young seals. He finds Emma and brings her to the Sanctuary.
Both Emma and Griff feel the powerful attraction between them, but Emma is reluctant to act on it because of her previous experience with men.
She decides to stay on the island and teach the children but she keeps Griff at a distance.

For me this was the least appealing story in the anthology. My connection with the characters wasn't really there although Virginia Kantra has a lovely writing style and this novella really holds potential for the full-length novels that will follow in this series. But I really don't know what to make of the whole of it. The story didn't have a real plot. It's mostly about the feelings between Griff and Emma and normally I don't have anything against that because I love a character-drive story as much as action-driven stories but the chemistry just wasn't there for me. This can be because the concept of a seal shape shifter being new to me. I'm used to wolves, dragons and felines. These are a very different kind of shape shifters. I couldn't conceal the alpha behavior with a seal, but that can be just me.
This being said I must say that the story was nicely paced, the chemistry between Emma and Griff and the love scenes were great. The characters could have been fleshed out a bit more but since it's a novella that is to be expected.

Still I am curious as to how the full-length books in this series will turn out. Maybe I will give the first one a go just to make sure that the feeling I had with this story is because it's a story in anthology.

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In conclusion I have to say that with the exception of the last novella this was an anthology that surpassed my expectations and one of exceptional quality compared to other anthologies I have read. The novellas had potential and focused my attention on authors I didn't know yet and a series I'm dying to get into. And the novella in the series I did already know didn't disappoint either.
It is most definitely an anthology worth having on your bookshelves if you have a thing for shifters!
April 12, 2008

"Sally MacKenzie manages to take it up a notch with every book, keeping it refreshingly original with each one being different in plot and romance."

Click on the cover and go to the "Recently Updated" page to read the full review!
April 9, 2008

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He is the guardian of hell, more monster than man.
She is the goddess of oppression, more angel than woman.
Together they will enter the flames to battle a horde of demon lords -- and discover a passion unlike any other...
Discover the origin of the dimOuniak and the demon spirits trapped within.

Because the story is too short to do a satisfying short summary of my own without spoiling most of it's content, the synopsis above from the website will have to suffice as a summary and I'll go straight to my opinion of this prequel to Gena Showalter's new paranormal series.

The Lords of the Underworld Series centers around the demons that were released from Pandora's box. I had the advantage of already having read the first full-length novel in the series and then it's nice to have this prequel that explains how Pandora's box came to be.
Geryon (Guardian of Hell) and Kadence's (Goddess of Oppression) love story is an added bonus for me and to be completely honest nothing more than that.

Being a huge Gena Showalter fan and obsessive in having series complete I had to have and read it and I really liked it as far as you can really like a story as short as this one. However I can imagine people not liking this novella, readers who could have done without it and I wonder if this prequel may deter people, who aren't already into Gena's writing, from this new series because it doesn't have all the elements I love about Gena's writing. All I can say to those people is: try the first full-length novel before you put this series aside.

Because it's a novella of only 63 pages it could never have the depth of a full-length novel and truthfully I didn't expect that. Still I really liked this prequel. What it lacked on the humor and bantering I love in Gena's books, it made up for it in its intensity and for me it was an emotional treat!
The feelings both Kadence and Geryon experience are so intense they kept me glued to the screen.

In short, I loved the story and liked knowing the origin of Pandora's box and the demons that house inside the Lords of the Underworld but I think this novella is only a must have if you're a Gena Showalter fan and if you're not sure about it, skip it and go straight for the full length books in this series.

She was the break of dawn in the bleakness that was his life. She was refreshing ice in smoldering heat

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April 4, 2008

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Ex-FBI agent Connor McCloud can never forget the day he was set up to die at the hands of trusted friend and fellow agent Ed Riggs. Hard justice and loyalty to his badge have cost Connor what he wants most--Ed's shy, studious daughter, Erin. He can never have her now, but her beauty still haunts and torments his every waking hour and his most fevered erotic dreams. But now that his old enemy, Kurt Novak has returned, Connor is prepared to do anything to protect the vulnerable young woman from a killer who has vowed a brutal payback . . . a killer with a predator's lethal patience.

Erin has been harboring secret fantasies about Connor McCloud since she first laid eyes on him--but that was before his testimony sent her father to jail. Her world is falling apart and it's all she can do to hold her family together. But now Connor is knocking on her door, telling her she needs his protection, whether she wants it or not. He won't give up and he won't stay away. He's sworn to guard her life with his own and his fierce protectiveness awakens long-buried feelings--and a fiery sexuality deep within her soul . . .

The devastation Erin has to deal with after her father's imprisonment would bring anyone to her knees, but not Erin Riggs. After her father is arrested for murder and betrayal she assumes the responsibility for her mother and sister while trying to make something of her life. She has never forgotten Connor McCLoud, the man she fell in love with when she was a young girl, and now he shows up offering his protection against the man who ruined her family.
Since the death of his partner and his own severe injuries Connor McCLoud has been going through the motions of life without consciously living it. The only thing that brings him back to life is the threat on Erin Riggs's life. She is the woman he's loved since she was a teenager and the only woman he's ever cared about and now the man who is responsible for his injuries and his partner’s death threatens her. While trying to protect Erin they can no longer deny the feelings between them and so two star-crossed lovers who find out that even the impossible dreams can come true, although to get to that point they must avoid being trapped by the man plotting the downfall of his enemies, starting with Erin and Connor.

Connor is a true contradiction. He is rude, harsh and bossy one moment and tender protective and gentle the next. But he's a character I enclosed in my heart immediately. He is honorable and tries to do the good thing. Erin is a perfect match for him. Not taking any of his crap when he goes all macho on her.
Erin is very orderly and disciplined and extremely dutiful to her family. She puts their needs above her own. But she is not meek or shy. When necessary she knows when and how to stand her ground. Her feelings for Connor make her lose the tight grip on the life she's created for herself since her father's imprisonment. He triggers the anger and fears she desperately tries to suppress with control and discipline.

The lead couple and their problems are realistic and lifelike. It's very easy to relate to them, to understand where they're coming from, what motivates their actions and this is something I really like in books.
McKenna portrays her characters with all their flaws and insecurities as well as their strong qualities. It's not all fun and loving; they also have arguments and discussions and have to work through them in a very confrontational way. For me this is what makes her characters so great.
And the way she pens down the bad guy in this book...The man is pure evil and seriously disturbed. His methodical, calculating and psychotic behavior scared me in some parts.

Not all the characters are what they seem, or what you're inclined to believe they are at first. There is so much more than meets the eye and this goes for both the lead couple, Connor and Erin, as for a few secondary characters.
And then there are the McCLoud brothers. Three extraordinary men. In the first book I was introduced to them. In this book I got to know them better. Sean is the proverbial pain-in-the-butt younger brother. Always pestering his older siblings. Davy is the proverbial sensible and grounded oldest brother: self-contained, stern and responsible. Both are very intriguing in their own way.
I loved the brotherly banter between the McCLouds. They work together like a well-oiled machine in crisis situations, complementing each other, sticking together and being there for one another when the dirt hits the fan.

This was another breathtaking book. The suspense was killing, the passion was steaming and the characters were compelling! After my first Shannon McKenna book I was pleasantly surprised at her masterful writing. After this one I'm utterly convinced. She knows how to build the suspense by creating such a malevolent and evil character it gave me goose bumps but still she manages to keep it on the good side of repulsion. You just keep on reading and reading. She alternates the suspense with scorching love scenes that are explicit yet not graphic and she tops it of with strong and appealing characters, a well-rounded romance and just the right amount of action.

McKenna's writing entrances and captivates me. Her characters, both main and secondary have a magnetic pull by the way she pens them down. Her strong characterization combined with highly erotic love scenes and thrilling suspense kept my heartbeat at high-speed level.

Lip gloss was diabolical stuff, calculated to make a guy think about sex. Moist, lush lips, ready for kissing, for licking, for---

She slid out from under the quilt, slapping his hands away. "I have to take another shower," she said. "You stop that right now, Connor. Be good."
"I'm always good, baby. Want to see?"

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April 1, 2008
As of this month I want to make a summary looking back on what I did the previous month books-wise. This can be about anything concerning the books I've bought, read, reviewed, discovered etc.

March has been a good month readingwise! Where December and January were terrible on the bookreading-count due to many personal circumstances and February was back to average, this month I was on fire!
This was a result of more time to read because the problematic circumstances are clearing up nicely plus amazing and compelling books that kept drawing me to them every spare minute.

- I discovered some new (at least to me) and promising authors: Sydney Croft, Deborah Cooke, Jaci Burton, Jami Alden, Alyssa Brooks. Their books are either on the wishlist or were ordered. These discoveries were all made cruising along several author's blogs and websites so if you want to keep your wishlist manageable I do not advise you to do that. My wishlist hasn't been manageable for over a year now, I don't think that's ever going to change *wink*

- I re-acquainted myself with Nicole Jordan (one of the first authors I read in English) with the first two books of her lovely new regency trilogy: The Courtship Wars Trilogy

- I went on a shopping spree (partially sponsored by hubby dear and some giftcertificates from my employer for an online bookstore) buying romantic suspense like crazy: Cindy Gerard's Bodyguard Series and Marliss Melton's Navy Seals Series

- I was blown away by my first Shannon McKenna-book. A book that had been on my shelves and TBR-pile, together with her other books, for over 6 months and I'm really kicking myself for not starting on this author sooner

- I indulged myself in the medieval paradise created by Paula Quinn reading her Risande Trilogy. Again books that were on my shelves and TBR-pile for a long time: I'm almost ashamed to say it but for nearly a year. All I can say is: If you have anything by Paula on your shelf, READ IT! You won't be disappointed!

- I dove deeper into the magical world of the Magic Series by Cheyenne McCray...a series that's really starting to grow on me and I'm liking it better with every book

- I read two ARC's for REALMS ON OUR BOOKSHELVES: Book 4 in Sally MacKenzie's regency Naked Nobility Series and the first book of (my favourite author)Gena Showalter's new paranormal Lords of the Underworld Series. As soon as they're placed on REALMS ON OUR BOOKSHELVES I'll let you know.

- I won a goodiebag in the Easter-contest organised by the ladies of REALMS ON OUR BOOKSHELVES with lots of bookmarks, coverflats, collectorcards and other goodies including this wonderful and very appropiate button:

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I close this month with utter frustration of not having received Midnight Rising by Lara Adrian yet. I pre-ordered it, it was released on March 25th and I still haven't got it. I did the same with Midnight Awakening (the previous book) and got it the day after release but unfortunately no such luck with Midnight Rising.
And this is one of the few books I really was anxiously anticipating. Usually I have previous books of a series on the TBR-pile but not with the Midnight Breed Series, I have read the previous three and am dying to continue...

I start April right in the middle of my second Shannon McKenna book: STANDING IN THE SHADOWS and I can say that's a very nice start and I hope April will be as good a reading-month as March has been.

Nice to meet you!

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39, married to my real life romance hero, addicted to TV shows, reading romance novels and Twitter. I'm a chronic (e)book hoarder and my absolute favorite genres within romance fiction are contemporary romance and romantic suspense, but I don't shy away from historical, paranormal or erotic romance either. Even the occasional (urban) fantasy romance, futuristic and sci fi romance may make it to my Mount TBR. This is my corner of the world wide web where I let you know what books I'm hoarding, reading and reviewing.
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Pearl has read 10 books toward her goal of 50 books.

On My TBR Shelf

  • Unforgivable - Laura Griffin
  • Snapped - Laura Griffin
  • Darkness at Dawn - Elizabeth Jennings
  • Sizzle and Burn - Alexis Grant
  • No Mercy - Lori Armstrong
  • Animal Magnetism - Jill Shalvis
  • Crazy for Love - Victoria Dahl
  • Kink - Saskia Walker/Sasha White
  • So Sensitive - Anne Rainey
  • Dark Taste of Rapture - Gena Showalter
  • The Darkest Secret - Gena Showalter
  • Vampire in Atlantis - Alyssa Day
  • Vampire Dragon - Annette Blair
  • Captive Spirit - Anna Windsor
  • Chosen by Blood - Virna DePaul
  • Rebel - Zoe Archer
  • Stranger - Zoe Archer
  • A Taste of Desire - Beverley Kendall
  • Mistress by Midnight - Maggie Robinson
  • To Desire a Devil - Elizabeth Hoyt
  • To Tame a Dangerous Lord - Nicole Jordan

Digital TBR Next

  • Driven - Jayne Rylon (reread)
  • Shifting Gears - Jayne Rylon
  • Beg Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Tempt Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Jazz Baby - Lorelie Brown
  • Playboy Prankster - Pamela Britton
  • Just Like That - Erin Nicholas
  • Sweet Inspiration - Penny Watson
  • Breathe - Donna Alward
  • My Gigolo - Molly Burkhart
  • Scent of Persuason - Nikki Duncan

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