May 31, 2008

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The first collection of the super-sexy, beautifully written stories that put Shannon McKenna in the forefront of hot romance!
Shannon McKenna writes blazing hot heroes and her readers know it. Men who are hard and handsome. Potent and protective. And so, so sexy. Ready for real lovers who want to get wild? They're ready for you.
Presenting three of the best . . .

A powerful man on a motorcycle makes a tantalizing promise . . . and a willing woman learns the ultimate lesson in pleasure in SOMETHING WILD

It started out as a not-so-innocent flirtation, but Annie Simon can't resist the powerful man on the motorcycle . . . or his tantalizingly erotic promises. Long-haired and leather-clad, Jacob Kerr is strong, sexy, and determined to give her the ultimate lesson in pleasure, if she's willing. And all she can say is yes . . .

A masterful hotel CEO introduces his lovely date to a suite seduction she'll never forget in MELTDOWN

All Jane Duvall wants is to bag another big account for her headhunting firm, even if it means stealing a key employee right out from under sexy hotel CEO Michael "Mac" MacNamara's gorgeous nose. But Mac can tell that the luscious, elusive Jane is up to no good. He has to find out what game she's playing--even if it involves giving her a very private tour of the hotel's finest suite, where she can take whatever she wants from him--and he'll give her everything he's got in the process . . .

And a sexy billionaire invites a massage therapist to his mountain hideaway for a sensational session just for two . . .in TOUCH ME

Tess Langley's been hurt by love before. That's why the voluptuous brunette prefers to keep her look low-maintenance and concentrate on her work as a massage therapist. She can tell by the scratch marks on gorgeous Jonah Markham’s back that the rich playboy is exactly the sort of man she should avoid, but when he offers to pay her an outrageous sum of money to tend to his guests at his luxurious mountain hideaway, she can't say no. Except Jonah has no intention of sharing Tess with anyone else, and though he's promised to be a good boy, she has no idea just how good he can be . . .

I was going to review this anthology story by story but decided not to since then it would be three reviews with similar things in it so I've decided to combine it all in one review.

First I must start by taking a deep bow and lay myself at Shannon McKenna's feet. She is the queen of erotic romance, the empress of intense emotional characterization be it her brooding, dominant, sexually aggressive and in-your-face heroes or her strong-minded, feisty, take-no-crap-from-men and bring-it-on heroines. I must also admire her for even pulling of making me feel the same intense feelings reading her short stories as I feel reading her full-length books.
Okay that being said of course the full-length books that take it to a much deeper level, having time and pages to work out and deepen out plots and characters but these stories definitely came close, especially MELTDOWN and TOUCH ME.
The men had me panting, all hot and bothered. The women had me sympathizing and rooting. "You go those men what you're made of but don't hesitate to enjoy the pleasures of a dominant alpha!"

The dominant alpha behavior of the men, both in and out of the bedroom, is perfectly countered by the women's fierce resistance. The men like to be in control but the women show them that you can't control feelings; attraction and you certainly can't control love. The men have a hint of rudeness to them but in a good way. They know what they want and just go for it, no sweet courting but pure and direct seduction...the kind of seduction that makes a women surrender her whole being to them...mind, body and soul. The women don't give in meekly but give as good as they get, stripping the men to their vulnerable core.

Underneath the sexual tension and chemistry a battle of wills takes place in each story, where the main characters tries to fight the hold the other one has on his or her feelings. Along the way their attraction and sexual play and the battle of wills fuse them into a deeper and emotional bond and love. Even though this process goes rather quick (because let's not forget we're talking about short stories) it fit in the stories like a glove due to McKenna's masterful writing skills. McKenna has a magnetic, tantalizing way of describing feelings and sensations, both emotional and sexual.

The stories hardly had any (sub)plots beside the romance between the hero and heroine, the focus is on the main characters and there are few secondary characters. Except for MELTDOWN, the stories are centered on the meeting, the instant chemistry, the sexual and emotional battles and the falling in love of the primary characters, with an occasional mention of people surrounding them.

If I had to rate the three stories separately I would give SOMETHING WILD 3,5 stars, MELTDOWN 4,5 stars and TOUCH ME 4 stars.
This rating reflects the degree in which I liked the stories but also it was MELTDOWN that came the closest to the full-length books' feeling. It had some intriguing secondary characters, a hint of a plot and the MacNamara brothers (Mac and Danny) really give the McCleod brothers a run for their money. This is not an easy task because the McCleod brothers for me are intense, passionate and utterly alpha.

Shannon McKenna is well on her way to making herself indispensable on my bookshelves and even taking a prominent place on them. To say I love her writing style is the understatement of the year. I adore it, I crave it, and I’m on the border of worshipping it.
Even in short stories she manages to keep the intensity, the emotions and the sexual play on a high. Her love scenes make me want to melt in a puddle of lust. They are explicit but beautiful and emotional, layered and just as intense as her heroes, heroines and the stories/plots.

Do I have anything else to say about this book? Oh yeah! Buy it, read it, enjoy it...and let yourself be swept of your feet by Shannon McKenna and her delicious characters and writing.

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May 30, 2008

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Callan Lyons is a genetic experiment, one of six fighting for freedom and the survival of their Pride. Merinus Tyler is the reporter who will tempt him, draw him, until the fury of the "mating frenzy" locks them into a battle of sexual heat they cannot escape.

The evil Genetics Council is hot on their trail. Leaving a trail of their own of deception and blood. Callan will use his strength to try and save them both...and do all in his power to keep his woman in the process.

Merinus is a feisty young woman, she grew up with 7 brothers so she knows how to deal with dominant males, but even her brothers couldn’t prepare her for the raw and animal dominance of Callan but she is not giving into Callan or the frenzy without a fight.
Callan is the dominant alpha-leader of the Breed Pride that escaped the Council’s scientist-labs and the Council now hunts him. He is protective of his fellow-Breed and possessive of Merinus once he acknowledges that she is his mate.

In this first installment of the Breeds I learned a lot about the origin and history of the Breeds. How they were created, bred to kill and how some Breeds have survived the hunt to destroy them after they refused to be killing machines for the Council. Also the "mating frenzy" is explained, how one kiss between pre-destined mates triggers a animal frenzy of lust and arousal that can only be doused by a mate-induced climax and how only a the pregnancy-hormone can ease the frenzy.

The chemistry and tension between Merinus and Callan flares from the first moment. The battle for dominance between them is strong as Merinus doesn't give Callan an inch and tries to provoke the beast inside him. She defies and taunts him until he loses control and gives her what she wants: the real Callan, both man and animal and not the subdued and controlled person Callan tries so hard to be.

Callan and Merinus both struggle with the powerful pull they have on each other, especially when it's strengthened by the mating frenzy. It's more than just a sexual need…it soon develops into an emotional need and connection that proves impossible to sever let alone fight or ignore, no matter how hard they try.

I found this story a well-balanced mix of intense and emotional erotic romance and intriguing and perfect world building wrapped up with an ending that was filled with breathtaking information, revelations and the only right conclusion to this story.

The word that kept coming to mind throughout this book was: intriguing. Concepts, characters, story…they were all very intriguing and I wonder what is in store in the next books in this series. Towards the end there's a scene with Sherra that has me hungering for her book. Her hero is Merinus' brother Kane and the hints to their history makes me wonder how their story is going to turn out.

Lora Leigh does a great job of setting up a world within the erotic paranormal scene that has body to it and a lot of potential to become a series that's a keeper on my bookshelves.
The only thing that nagged me a little bit in this story was the name of the heroine. It sounds too masculine and I kept thinking of the Dutch male name Marinus every time I read her name. But this is really a minor thing, absolutely of no consequence for my overall opinion of this story.

This first book in the Breeds definitely lived up to my expectations! Giving me the dominant animal alpha male I love, the fierce strong heroine I admire and the steamy, hot love scenes I enjoy.

"I love you, Callan" His heart broke. He felt it shatter, the pieces slamming into his soul as she stared up at him, her eyes slumberous, her body filled with need, her life more in danger than she could know, and still she whispered those words to him.

"Do as I want."
"Make me."
"Don't do this, Merinus. I don't want to hurt you."
"I want all of you. Man and beast," she whispered when he jerked back in surprise from her rough caress. "I won't submit to you any longer." The beast howled in joy, the man trembled in pleasure.

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May 27, 2008

When a writer knows how to intrigue me with a subject that is not to my taste I can't but applaud her and her writing. Kat Martin was able to do this with Season of Strangers

Click on the cover and go to the "Recently Updated" page to read the full review!
May 24, 2008

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Lady Emeline Gordon is the model of sophistication in London’s elite social circles, always fashionable and flawlessly appropriate. As such, she is the perfect chaperone for Rebecca, the young sister of a successful Boston businessman and former Colonial soldier.


Samuel Hartley may be wealthy, but his manners are as uncivilized as the American wilderness he was raised in. Who wears moccasins to a grand ball? His arrogant disregard for propriety infuriates Emeline, even as his boldness excites her.

But beneath Samuel’s rakish manner, he is haunted by tragedy. He has come to London to settle a score, not to fall in love. And as desperately as Emeline longs to feel this shameless man’s hands upon her, to taste those same lips he uses to tease her, she must restrain herself. She is not free. But some things are beyond a lady’s control…

Emeline knows all the rules of the English society and she abides by them. But then she meets Samuel, a man unfamiliar with refined manners who does exactly as he pleases. He is a man who is dangerous to her feelings, the feelings she has always kept hidden deep inside and never showed anyone. She is sharp-tongued and quick-minded but hides it behind a façade of being a sweet and respectable widow of the ton. Samuel is the only one who sees through this, he recognizes and accepts her and makes her forget all the rules she has set for herself. He triggers something in her that makes her want to relinquish the control over her emotions to him. She tries to fight it but it's too strong and Samuel is too determined and alluring.
Samuel's feelings have been numbed by a massacre of his regiment in the War. His only goal is to seek out the traitor responsible for the betrayal and the subsequent massacre. When he uses Emeline and her contacts in the ton to find this traitor he discovers she is the only woman who can make him forget his self-doubt and guilt. Her intelligence and fierceness warms his heart and the voyage to England brings him more than just closure to the trauma of the massacre. He finds a real and passionate love in a woman who couldn't be farther from his reach.

It had been a while since I read something by Elizabeth Hoyt (I read THE SERPENT PRINCE, the last book of the PRINCE TRILOGY, in the summer of 2007) and after closing this book I realize how much I missed her wonderful stories and compelling, intricate characters and romances.
She has proved with this book once again for me why she is one of my favorite authors of Regency historicals. She masters the talent to bring a two people together who seemingly have absolutely nothing in common and who are terribly mismatched. This time Emeline and Samuel being on opposite sides of the society's scope. She is a sophisticated and refined lady of the ton. Samuel is an unpolished self-made man of the Colonies.

Like in the PRINCE trilogy every chapter starts with part of a fairytale. This one is called "The Legend of the Four Soldiers" and this book tells the part of "Iron Heart" The fairytale shows parallels with the actual main story. I love this in Elizabeth Hoyt's books.

I love her characters because they are contrary to the stereotype heroes and heroines. They have something special that appeals to me as a reader and her writing style is so refreshingly down-to-earth and pure, raw in comparison with the many sweet and flowery romances in this genre. It's this refreshing and unique writing style that has Elizabeth Hoyt on my auto-buy list. She combines simplicity with emotional depth in her characterization making them uncomplicated yet intriguing at the same time.

The buildup of this particular book was just perfect in my eyes. The story and romance developed slowly and compelling, building up an intense romance, spiked with a mystery plot.
She introduced future main characters in the series without taking away the attention from Emeline and Samuel's story. And the romance and love scenes were amazing. She worked up the developing feelings and sexual tension between Samuel and Emeline to an explosive and very erotic first love scene. I truly didn't mind having to wait for it until well into the second half of the book.
Hoyt found the perfect the pace needed for this story: Not fast-paced but not slow either. The exact blend of plot and romance to keep me enthralled.

All I can say is sit back, relax and indulge in this delightful, passionate story that rises above the genre to offer an emotional read that shines in its intensity and simplicity.

He shoved her bodily against the wall and pinned her there like some unfortunate moth. Then he bent his head and, avoiding her mouth, bit her neck, just under her ear. And her body –her idiot, traitorous body– responded, going all soft and warm.

Samuel: “I was cold without you, Emeline. You're the light that keeps me warm inside. If I left you, I think I'd freeze into a solid block of ice."

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

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An immortal warrior cursed to die every night, only to awaken the next morning knowing he has to die again. A mortal woman with a power beyond imagining...

All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To end the nightmare, she has come to Budapest seeking help from men rumored to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she’ll be swept into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member – a man trapped in a hell of his own.

Neither can resist the instant hunger that calms their torments. . .and ignites an irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to destruction—and a soul-shattering test of love...

The first thing I experienced after finishing this book was the inability to form coherent thoughts in order to review what I'd just read. I was prepared to be amazed by Showalter again, as she's done with all her books and series, but amazed doesn't even begin to cover it.
If you're looking to escape into a delectable world of demon-possessed warriors, hunters and gods out to destroy them and the strong, lovely women who can control them, you have to add this first book of the Lords of the Underworld to your MUST-read pile immediately.

Thousands of years ago a number of guards of the King of Gods decided to take matters into their own hands and released the demons in Pandora's box out of spite and jealousy. The gods punished them by bonding each one of these immortal warriors to one of the demons from the box. Maddox houses the demon Violence and since he was the one to kill Pandora, he is cursed to die every night in the same way Pandora died and come alive again in the morning. Since Maddox knows he'll die every night, he fights a continuing battle to control the demon inside him who is bent on destruction. Then he stumbles on a human woman, that's stronger than Violence and helps him control the demon: Ashlyn Darrow.
She is a para-audiologist, who feels she is cursed, since she has the ability to hear all conversations ever held in a location: past, present and in all languages. In Ashlyn's search to get rid of the maddening voices, she finds the Lords of the Underworld and the one person that can silence the voices with his mere presence, the immortal warrior Maddox.

The first meeting between Ashlyn and Maddox left me mesmerized and set the tone for the rest of their thrilling journey of love, belonging and companionship. This journey ended in a beautiful, heartbreaking grand finale that had me in tears. Maddox' agony is heart wrenching. Yet he has compassion and he struggles to control the violent demon inside him.
There's a contradiction in Ashlyn, she is special because of her ability but she craves normality. She is brave and courageous but at the same time insecure. This insecurity lessens because of Maddox' feelings towards her. She has a wry sense of humor she uses to keep her sanity, both with the voices she hears and in dealing with Maddox and the other Lords. They are both lonely; Maddox because of the possession and Ashlyn because of her ability. Also, they both crave what everyone does: love, acceptance, and belonging.

When I read Gena Showalter was coming out with a new paranormal series I wasn't sure what to expect. There are so many paranormal series on brotherhoods of warriors out there and we've also read so much about the gods, cursed warriors and the battle between good and evil. But this all couldn't have prepared me for what Showalter dishes out in this first book of the series. She has taken a known myth and the familiar concept of a brotherhood of warriors and created an opening salvo of a series that left me wondering what the heck just hit me...I should have known she would give these familiar and known concepts her own unique twist, combining the things I like about her books so much: an accessible writing style, an action-filled and unpredictable plot and characters' emotions that take you on a rollercoaster ride all the way to the last page. Events and twists in the plots are fast-paced. Just when you think you've grasped the direction everything is going in it shifts and leaves you wondering what's next. You're not given a chance to sit back and breath. Every time you think you can, the next turn in the plot takes you to the edge of your seat. I was thrown into a maelstrom of events and emotions that kept me glued to the pages, feeling bereft in the end because it had come to an end and I really needed more.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Showalter’s writing style is so fluent, action-filled, vivid and imaginative it's like watching the events on a screen. With The Darkest Night it wasn't any different. In the fighting scenes I could see the blood flying from the pages and in the love scenes I could see the sparks sizzle between Ashlyn and Maddox. The fighting scenes (as in the Alien Huntress series) once again are exquisitely depicted and the love scenes are elemental, raw, explosive and sensual. Both Maddox and Ashlyn exude a need for each other that is so intense, it borders desperation.

The concept of the Lords of the Underworld is intriguing to say the least. They are created out of punishment, doomed to be possessed by an evil demon from Pandora's box. As if that isn't enough, they are cursed with a contradictory way to relieve themselves of the torment of what housing their demons causes them. If you thought you knew cursed and tormented heroes before, think again because their suffering is nothing compared to what Maddox went through in this book or what the other Lords will have to face in future books.
This first book is just the beginning and the foundations for future books are laid in the secondary characters and their interactions.
The cast of secondary characters is very, very promising. I was captivated by all of them and they were complementary to Maddox and Ashlyn's story throughout the book, occasionally allowing us a peak at things to come. I can't wait for the stories of the other Lords of the Underworld. I loved the Lords! Their camaraderie is strong despite their torment and the curses they have to live with. The term split personality takes on a whole new meaning in this series. I was fascinated by each one of them and of course I have already picked my favorite Lords: Reyes, Aeron and Paris.

Just when I thought Showalter couldn't throw any more surprises at me, she did. And not only surprised me, but captivated, enthralled and enticed me with a book that had it all! 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.

Maddox: "You are mine, woman, and I am yours. Until you, my life was desolate. I existed but I didn't truly live. Now I live, even in my death."

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May 13, 2008

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Burning vengeance . . .
Ethan MacCarrick was a heartbreakingly handsome rake until a powerful nobleman ordered him brutally beaten and his face scarred for a crime he didn’t commit. Ethan’s reprisal—bankrupting the nobleman and forcing his exile—does little to appease his wrath. Ten years later, a haughty, mysterious beauty enchants Ethan—the daughter of his enemy. At last, Ethan will have the revenge he’s craved; he’ll promise her marriage, seduce her, then cast her aside.

Bitter hardships . . .
When Madeleine Van Rowen’s family was suddenly plunged into destitution and dishonor, she steeled herself against further heartache. She never weakened, never trusted, until a towering, scarred Highlander relentlessly pursues her, breaking down her defenses.

At what price forgiveness?
The passion between them burns hotter than Ethan’s fury, and soon he finds he can’t let her go. But when Madeleine uncovers the truth about him, can Ethan convince her to accept all he now offers—when he once destroyed everything she had?

Ethan MacCarrick has only lived for his revenge on the family responsible for his scars, both physically and emotionally. Since that terrible night his life changed forever he has been cold and determined. This combined with his scarred face and the curse that hangs above him and his brothers, he believes he'll never want or need a woman, much less that a woman would ever want or need him. Until Madeleine van Rowen, the daughter of the two people who ruined his life but whose lives he ruined in turn. His plan to seduce her and cast her aside backfires at the very first move and he is doomed, doomed to fall hard and deep at the hands of the woman destined for him, just as his brothers did.
Madeleine Van Rowen has been forced to lead a terrible life in the slumps of Paris after Ethan's justifiable revenge on her parents. She goes to London to seek her last chance of finding a, preferably rich, husband so she can live in some measure of safety and security and escape the horrors she deals with everyday. Little does she know that that safety and security is going to be provided by the very man that set her terrible life in motion.

Ethan is a complicated and fascinating hero. He is a man of contradictions. A brutal, cold and calculated man that at some points I didn't even really like but still could admire since the motivations for his actions were legitimate and his revenge was something that had to be acted on, the only thing was that Maddy was caught in the middle. On the other hand his harshness and coldness is compromised by his feelings for Maddy, feelings he fights with all his might and desperately tries to ignore and deny, but this is truly a lost battle. I've said it before: when the MacCarrick men fall, they fall hard and deep and Ethan's fall was enormous.

I thought I had read my fair share of intimidating, coldhearted and detached heroes on a vengeance, but I hadn't encountered Ethan yet. He sets them all to shame. But beneath this cold-heartedness and detachment he has donned for self-preservation there is a very passionate and caring man who can only be brought to the surface by Maddy and her feelings for him. He has never cared for anyone but his brothers and now he finds that a woman, the woman whose life he ruined when she was just a little girl, has crept under his defenses and under his skin, never to leave again.

And then Maddy.... she has shot straight to the top of my favorite heroines list. What a woman! At only 21 she has gone through so much and still she bounces back every time, picking herself up and going on despite all the horrible things life throws at her. Her life is unbelievably deplorable and the things she has gone through just sent shivers over my whole body while reading. Yet she survives thanks to her courage, wit and spirit. She never gives up, knowing somewhere, someday her luck will change and she will have a better life. She is smart and she counters Ethan on every move. She doesn't let him corner or dominate her. She is resilient, brave and resourceful. A true heroine in every way.

When she discovers Ethan's role in her past, she is crushed, devastated but of course it wouldn't be a true romance if there wasn't a happily ever after. And here I must applaud Kresley Cole's talent. As she did in the whole book, the whole trilogy actually, she didn't rush it but wrote an ending with forgiveness and redemption in the most beautiful way, heart wrenching and honest, bringing tears to my eyes.

The attraction and chemistry between Maddy and Ethan is instant and flaming hot! I was surprised the pages didn't catch flame reading some of the love scenes. Kresley Cole knows how to write some amazing scenes where she doesn't even go all the way but the sensuality of them is something I've seldom read. Ethan is really wicked in the best sense of the word and in the beginning he really tries to bind Maddy to him by pleasure and Maddy is fearless and eager to learn how to please Ethan. Erotica eat your heart out is all I can say.

Another winner by Kresley Cole. A book I will always treasure in a trilogy that has tilted my world on its axis.
I suspected Ethan MacCarrick's story was going to be good, but truly this book shook me to my core. From the prologue to the epilogue the story was intense, sensual, heart wrenching and breathtaking. A story of seduction, trust, betrayal and redemption. A story of struggle and hardship but also of passion and love.

Kresley Cole has a descriptive and vivid writing style with a talent for displaying emotions that will almost rip your heart out. Be it from anger and disbelief or from the compassion and sorrow. She was able to lure and capture me into a world with characters that kept me enthralled and mesmerized. She mixes characters, plot, history, scenery and romance in a way that I can only call perfect and masterful. I just couldn't stop reading.

In the span of 356 pages of this last book in the trilogy she put all it all together, especially emotionally. I went through the whole scope of it: I was outraged with Ethan and some of the things he did, I felt sorry for Maddy and the harsh life she has led, I was holding my breath for them both to accept their feelings and each other, I laughed at their smart and witty bantering, I was aroused by their love scenes and I cried and cried when they realized how they both had been wronged by the same people and in another occasion I won't disclose here because of the spoiler’s nature of it. But if you read this book and you can keep away from the tissues at that point, I guess you must be one tough cookie.

IF YOU DECEIVE for me is a true keeper that sent me on that rollercoaster of emotions that I crave so much in the books I read. In my opinion it deserves nothing but my highest praise and admiration.
And now, in awe, I proceed to Kresley's Cole paranormals (The Immortals After Dark series) and hope they will rock my world as hard as the MacCarrick Brothers did.

"Well I see now why you wouldn't take of your mask." She tilted her head. "You had to cover the ten-inch-long scar twisting across your face"
His eyes narrowed. "Aingeal, there is only one thing on my body that's ten inches long and, if you'll recall, the scar is no' it."

"I look at your wee body and reasoned thought leaves my brain. So if you want to see a man lose his mind, you'll come to me and let me touch you some more."

Rating: 10 out of 10
May 10, 2008

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From broomsticks to black magic, leather-clad warriors to love potions gone wrong, here you’ll find four stories of supernatural sex and suspense from some of today’s hottest bestselling authors.

MaryJanice Davidson - The Majicka
Life’s a bit crowded for Ireland and her roommates—a fairy, a werewolf, a vampire, and now a zombie…especially when a mysterious man walks through the door. Will there be any room left for love?

Ireland Shea is an unknowing guardian of the Magick (a Magicka). She lives with a vampire, a werewolf, a faerie and a mage spelled into a car. Micah is new Magicks tutor. He teaches them the ropes. When he goes to Ireland to tutor her, he finds her in the middle of saving a Dryad from being killed. Micah tags along, they save the Dryad, fall in love and live happily ever after.
This story was really not for me but I think MaryJanice Davidson fans will like it. It just was not my thing despite being a pleasant and funny story. There's a lot of funny bantering and sarcastic dialogues but there was just too much going on and to little pages to explain it all, which left me with a rushed and dissatisfied feeling. For example I still don't know what a Magicka does exactly or what Micah role exactly entails other than that he is the tutor. There is a lot of humor in the story but just not my kind of humor and I missed the balance between humor and romance a bit. I like humor in books and the wittier, the more I like but there also has to be some kind of balance and in my opinion this story lacked that balance. I had the feeling the author was trying to outdo herself in the funny department, trying to see if she could make every sentence funnier than the previous one. Because of this the focus is too much on the funny part and less on the storyline/plot and that combined with the lack of explanation and background on certain things and characters hasn't won me over for MaryJanice Davidson. I was never really attracted to her books and unfortunately this story hasn't changed that.

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Lori Handeland - Voodoo Moon
For Devil’s Fork–based FBI Agent Dana Duran, the only way to fight a supernatural serial killer just may be to embrace life. But little did she know that voodoo could be so viciously sexy…

FBI Agent Dana Duran is sent to Devil's Fork to investigate a string of unexplainable murders. When she arrives there it turns out that voodoo is involved in the killings. Subsequently the voodoo-shop owner Julian Portier is the main suspect and Dana finds herself in an investigation that will change her life forever!
This was a story in first person narrative from Dana's perspective and as I've mentioned before in reviews this is not my favorite narrative. There are very few authors who can enthrall me with it and I must say that Lori Handeland turned out to be one of them.
In this short story Lori Handeland delivered well-rounded and believable characters, a strong and sensual romance and a very original plot and the outcome of whom and why and how they dealt with him was fascinating to say the least. Despite the fact that it was short I didn't have the feeling I was missing something or the usual dissatisfied feeling I have when reading anthology-story.
The story was utterly captivating, exploring the voodoo scene with well-researched accuracy. The story was able to keep my attention and I kept on reading breathlessly, anxious for how it all was going to unfold, sad when I finished it because I didn't want it to end.

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Cheyenne McCray - Breath of Magic (part 4 in Magic Series)
San Francisco’s witches are in an epic battle. But even if Sydney can use her sultry ways and ancient Druid powers to save the world, can she risk losing her heart to handsome warrior Conlan?

Sydney Aline, one of the gray witches of the San Francisco D'Anu Coven has stayed behind with a handful of D'Danann warriors to find the warlock Darkwolf and his Fomorii companion Junga. The rest of the Coven and warriors have gone to Otherworld to round up allies to fight the evil goddess and god who threaten to destroy San Francisco. One of the D'Danann warriors who has stayed behind is Conlan. He is a proverbial playboy; he enjoys the pleasure of women but never commits to them. Sydney finds herself attracted to this warrior but doesn't want to give in to those feelings because of his playboy ways. But in the middle of the search for Darkwolf and Junga the attraction between them grows into something more. Conlan discovers that Sydney is not just another pleasure partner for him and Sydney has to admit to deeper feelings for Conlan.
This was the story I was most anticipating in the anthology and to be honest I was a little bit disappointed. The full-length books in the series were amazing and captivating but despite the fact that the story was pleasant and fitting in the series there was something lacking for me that I did find in the books. I can't pinpoint it exactly but I didn't feel the chemistry between the hero and the heroine. This can be because of the limited page-count which forces the romance plot, not giving them time to build up the sensual tension and a relationship in which they can grow. I would incline to think that because in the books this was present and that's what made me like the books so much. So I'm going to blame it on the fact that it's an anthology-novella.
Again, and even in this short story, the plot thickens. McCray brings answers to some questions from the previous books but she also raises more new questions.
The storyline from the books continues. This time concentrating more on Darkwolf though. He does some remarkable things that make you wonder what his true goals ultimately will be. I hope to get answers to this in the two future books that will conclude the series.
I like this series and this short story, despite the weaker main couple, is another addition to the continuing plot, setting up the next full-length novel. All the elements were there, just with a bit less depth and intensity.

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Christine Warren - Any Witch Way She Can
A desperately lonely witch decides to take matters of love into her own hands when she casts a cosmic personal ad…only to find that the perfect formula for love is a strange brew indeed.

Miranda Berry (Randy) has had it with her single life and the lowlife men that pass through it. She wants a worthy mate and what better way to get one than to use a little magic to help things along. But little does she know that this little magic is going to bring her not only her the man of her dreams in the form of male witch Michael Devon but also a whole lot of trouble.
This story certainly took me by surprise. I wasn't familiar with Christine Warren's writing so I didn't know what to expect. But what I got was a well-written, delightful story with witty characters, a lovely romance and even a little villain-plot worked into it.
I really loved everything about this story. This one had the perfect balance between humor and romance I mentioned in my review of another story in this anthology.
The fluent and easy writing style and the extremely witty characters, especially Randy, and the magical elements pulled me into the story deep and fast.
Randy is adorable and chaotic, trouble has no problems finding her and many times this is her own fault. Michael is one hot witch, very capable and calm. He’s the perfect match for Randy. The plot involving Randy's grandmother and someone trying to sabotage her was a nice touch to the story, giving it that little bit extra to make it a well-rounded story with lots of laugh-out-loud moments.
This taste of Christine Warren's writing certainly has intrigued me so I'm going to look into finding more of her writing and see if I enjoy that as much as I did this story.

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This was an anthology with for me different level of stories. I liked the Handeland and Warren stories best because these were the stories with the best-written mix and balance between humor, characters and story. The McCray story was not bad but just didn't live up to my expectations, proving once again that writing amazing books doesn't automatically mean writing great novella's and the Davidson story just wasn't my cup of tea, proving that my gut-feeling when choosing books/authors is something I really can rely on and in this aspect I'm glad that these kind of anthologies exist. They are the perfect way to find out if an author's writing style agrees with you or not.
May 9, 2008

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He tried to run . . .
In his youth, Hugh MacCarrick foolishly fell in love with a beautiful English lass who delighted in teasing him with her flirtatious ways. Yet he knew he could never marry her because he was a second son with no prospects, shadowed by an accursed family legacy. To avoid temptation, Hugh left home and trained as an assassin.

She tried to forget him . . .
Jane Weyland was devastated when the Highlander she believed would marry her abandoned her instead. Years later, when Hugh MacCarrick is summoned to protect her from her father’s enemies, her heartache has turned to fury—but her desire for him has not waned.

Will passion overwhelm them?
In hiding, Jane torments Hugh with seductive play. He struggles to resist her because of deadly secrets that could endanger her further. But Hugh is no longer a gentle young man—and toying with the fever-pitched desires of a hardened warrior will either get Jane burned . . . or enflame a love that never died.

The first book in the MacCarrick trilogy rocked my world and blew me away and this one didn't allow me to come back.

Hugh MacCarrick has had an obsession for the lovely Jane Weyland for over a decade now. An obsession he can't give into because of the curse he and his brothers live under: they will only bring harm to the women they bind to them. But then an old friend turned enemy threatens her life knowing it would deeply hurt both Hugh and Jane's father. Because of this threat Jane's father orders Hugh to marry his daughter and take her away in hiding until they catch the enemy. Hugh has to find a way to protect Jane without giving in to his feelings.
Jane secretly claimed Hugh as being hers from the first time she laid eyes on him, when she was thirteen and he was eighteen. Now 14 years later she has her chance when circumstances force them into a marriage so Hugh can protect her. But who will protect her heart from Hugh or Hugh from her?

Of the three MacCarrick brothers Hugh is the middle one, the steady and quiet one. The one who thinks before he does and the one who does nothing irrational or impulsively. This comes in handy in his profession: an assassin for the Crown. He is a solitary, rugged man, brooding, intimidating and utterly masculine.
He has but one weakness: his feelings for the lovely, English Jane Weyland.

Jane is charming, outspoken and independent. Lately I've been reading books with amazing heroines and Jane is no exception. Fearless, witty and ready to taunt and tease Hugh to the point of desperation.

Contrary to the hostility between Court and Annalía in book 1, between Hugh and Jane there has always been friendship to go along with the very strong attraction to each other. An attraction Hugh has never acted upon because of his profession, the curse and the fact that he thinks he's not worthy of her. Hugh really tries to resist but he succumbs to Jane's seductive lure and his own powerful feelings.

Jane in love with Hugh but won't let him intimidate her. She doesn't give him a moment's breath and really stood her ground in all circumstances. The battles of will between them ultimately lead to undeniable passion because when the MacCarrick brothers fall for a woman, they fall hard and deep!

Again I really have nothing but praise for this book. The main couple is strong and they are easy to admire and love. They have great personalities; they know their own minor points and are not afraid of showing their vulnerability. The love scenes are utterly intense and very erotic. The plot is compelling and complementing. The secondary characters are brought into the story at precisely the right moments and offer nice contribution to the whole story. The bad guy is evil at his worst and saddening at his best. The focus of the book is mainly on the relationship between Hugh and Jane and how they eventually come to accept each other and their feelings but the plot surrounding the threat on Jane's life is nicely set up and rounded off in a perfect way.

The third and final book in the trilogy is Ethan story, the eldest brother. In book 1 and 2 you get little glimpses of him that really stirred my imagination and I can't wait to read his whole story. There is so much more to him than meets the eye. He is going to be the cherry on the pie of this trilogy for me!

Kresley Cole has again delivered an amazing tale. One that kept me mesmerized and glued to the book every minute I could.
This is turning out to be a trilogy that is a true must if you like either Kresley Cole or Highlanders and one that makes me want a MacCarrick brother of my own to sweep me of my feet!

Jane to Hugh after their engagement:
"You've made it clear that you don't want this marriage," she said. "So before you go forward with this madness, consider– how much can you after day?"
He swallowed. "Prepare yourself, darling." (…) Over her shoulder, she said,
"Because I'm about to make your life a living hell.”

Hugh to Jane when he can't resist her teasing and tempting anymore:
"You think that I'll react the same way to your teasing as I did years ago?"(...)."In the past I was young and honorable. Now I'm old enough to know what I need and dishonorable enough" –he softly tugged on her nipple with his teeth making her gasp and arch into his mouth– "to take it."

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May 6, 2008

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Ani King left her entire life behind when the Russian Mafia brutally murdered her family. The Witness Security Program has kept her safe for two years, but with one simple phone call her cover is destroyed—and there is only one man left who can save her.

Protecting the brave, beautiful Ani became more than just a job a long time ago for Deputy Marshal Daniel Parker. And now, just days before the trial where she’s slated to give a damning testimony, the criminals who want her dead are on her trail. To keep Ani safe, Daniel has to keep her close—and her enemies closer. Because soon there’s nowhere for Ani to hide…but in his arms.

Anistana King (Ani) is the star witness in a trial against the Russian Mafia family that killed her family. She has been in witness protection for the last two years but one mistake leads the Russians to her and now she must literally run for her life until she can testify at the trial.
Daniel Parker is the U.S. Marshal assigned to Ani. When he finds out her identity has been compromised he does everything in his power to keep her safe until her testimony can put her family's murderer behind bars. And the criminals will do everything to keep Ani from testifying.
But the stakes are higher than just the trial and the testimony. In the two years they have known each other they have fallen in love so it's not just their lives at stake but also their hearts and Daniel's job are on the line.

Where I had doubts and wasn't undividedly enthusiastic about the first romantic thriller I read by Cheyenne McCray, she really outdid herself with this second one.
Maybe it was because of the subject change. The other book was about a protecting a woman who escaped a cult and MOVING TARGET was about protecting a star witness for a trial against the Russian Mafia. I've always been fascinated by everything to do with law, law enforcement and trials so this plot was really right up my alley.
Suffice to say that I absolutely liked this book better than CHOSEN PREY

What goes for the plot also goes for the characters if I compare the two books. I loved Ani way more than I did Lyra and the inconsistence in the character development that bothered me in CHOSEN PREY wasn't present in this book. The characters were great and especially Ani. She was strong, incredibly brave and resilient. She didn't hesitate to put Daniel in his place when she thought he had done something unforgivable in her eyes but she was also woman enough to forgive him when it turned out it wasn't his fault. And I could just picture Daniel as the Deputy Marshal in his black suit and dark glasses guarding Ani. He was endearing in his feelings for Ani, but a strong and capable professional at the same time.

The focus of the book is mainly on the primary couple, there are some secondary characters that play a role in the plot and they are well written but not deepened out. This didn't bother me though because with the plot and the characters there was plenty to keep my attention in a tight grasp throughout the whole book.
The research McCray did into WITSEC (witness protection), U.S. Marshals, law enforcement and court law was thorough and very impressive, providing a believable and very realistic plot. It was an action-packed book with car chases, bullets flying and cars exploding, nothing was shunned to try and get Ani eliminated before she can point her family's killer. And all this action was perfectly mixed with the romantic aspects of the book, creating a nice balance between heart-pounding and fast-paced action and erotic, lascivious love scenes. The chemistry between Ani and Daniel was sizzling and very explicit as I'm used to by Cheyenne McCray.

Though in my opinion the Magic series still has points over the romantic suspense books I must say that I truly enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more along this line by Cheyenne McCray.

Sensations combined to put her on overload. Perspiration coated her body. Fire licked at her veins. Heat burned beneath her skin.

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May 4, 2008

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Xypher has one month on Earth to redeem himself through one good deed or be condemned to eternal torture in Tarturus. But redemption means little to a demigod who only wants vengeance on the one who caused his downfall.

Simone Dubois is a medical examiner with a real knack for the job. Those who are wrongfully killed appear to her and help her find the evidence the police need to convict their killers. But when a man appears and tells her that she’s more than just a psychic, she’s convinced he’s insane.

It was bad enough when just the dead relied on her. Now’s there’s the seductive Dream-Hunter Xypher who needs Simone’s help in opening a portal to the Atlantean hell realm to fight insatiable demons. The future of mankind is at stake-and so is her life. The only question now is: Who is the bigger threat: the demons out to kill her, or the man who has left her forever changed?

We first met Xypher in DEVIL MAY CRY and right away I was intrigued by his character. Still I didn't have very high expectations for his book after the slight disappointments in reading DMC and UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR. But I must say it was a lot better than I expected, I was pleasantly surprised by Xypher and Simone's story. Though honestly I must say that again it weren't the main characters that attracted my attention the most. This really has become a recurring thing with the last few books I've read by Kenyon. In DREAM CHASER it was Jaden who mesmerized me. I really want to know more about him and what drives him. More than I wanted to know how Xypher and Simone were developing. And although I think this is a disturbing development this doesn't take away the overall good feeling I had reading this book.

The chemistry between Xypher and Simone is there from the beginning but all through the book I couldn't ditch the feeling of having it at my fingertips but never being able to grasp it fully. I missed the fiery and unstoppable attraction between hero and heroine I loved so much in the DREAM HUNTER and the early Dark-Hunter novels. Those spine-tingling love scenes that had my heart beating fast and goose bumps rising on my arms. I came close to this feeling in the second half of the book but by the time it really kicked in, the book ended.
This doesn't diminish however the fact that I really liked both Xypher and Simone. Their characters and development really appealed to me on an emotional level. Xypher transforming from being coldhearted and detached, living only for his revenge to someone who cared so much for Simone he would do anything to keep her safe. The way he secretly enjoys the attention and care Simone has for him was truly endearing and in those moments I really felt for him and the suffering he had been through.
Simone transforms from a lonely workaholic with a ghost as her best friend, going through the motions of life into someone who had everything to live for, finding love in the place she least expected it. She takes the discovery about whom she truly is in an amazingly brave way, showing exactly how strong a character she is. What she went through was heart wrenching and combined with Xypher's suffering the two of them made me grab a tissue a few times.

One of the things I loved about DREAM CHASER was that the humor "Kenyon-style" was back in full force. I missed that in the previous books so I really loved the bantering between Simone, Jesse and Xypher. Another thing I liked was the cameo appearances by Dark-Hunter characters and elements: Acheron, Stryker, Daimons, Julian, and Katra. That and the story being brought back to New Orleans scored big time for me, bringing the Dream-Hunter and Dark-Hunter worlds together in a fast paced, witty and action-filled book, with lots of new and intriguing elements that offer promising prospects for the future.
I was dazzled by the many different demons and their characteristics, making both the Dream-Hunter world and the Dark-Hunter world much more complicated but richer at the same time, even though I'm still missing the amazing feeling that vibrated through me reading the first few Dark-Hunter novels. Still I'm confident that Kenyon has lots of good vibes in store for us with Acheron.

I have to give Kenyon credit for a very entertaining book she has provided with DREAM CHASER. Unfortunately romance didn't have the upper hand in this book, which is also a disturbing development in the last few books for me, but she more than made up for that with the plot, the action and let's not forget her knack for sarcastic bantering and smile-inducing humor.

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May 1, 2008
April has been an average to good reading month, I read 3 paperbacks, 2 tradesize paperbacks, an anthology and an eBook-novella. This makes 7 books...that's a bit better than an average month so I'm not complaining.

I started and ended this month with Shannon McKenna and I must say, the more of her books I read, the more I get pulled in by her amazing writing skills and characters. Both in STANDING IN THE SHADOWS with which I started the month as with RETURN TO ME with which I ended the month.

In the ARC-department I read Kat Martin's SEASON OF STRANGERS which will be coming out in June. So watch out for the ARC-review on REALMS ON OUR BOOKSHELVES in the month of May.
Both the ARC-review on Sally MacKenzie's THE NAKED GENTLEMAN and the one on Gena Showalter's THE DARKEST NIGHT were placed on the REALMS-website.

I also read the prequel to the The Lords of the Underworld Series by Showalter, this was an eBook novella (THE DARKEST FIRE) that can't be missed if you're a Gena Showalter fan.
And being a huge Gena Showalter fan I was overjoyed when I received the ARC of THE DARKEST PLEASURE to review for REALMS ON OUR BOOKSHELVES! This book is is book 3 in the series and will be coming out in July. I will be reading it the coming month...

There was also some frustration this month...I pre-ordered Lara Adrian's MIDNIGHT RISING, book 4 in the Midnight Breed Series in the beginning of February, knowing it would be released March 25th and then March 25th came and went and no MIDNIGHT RISING, after 3 weeks....3 whole effing finally arrived on my doorstep and I can tell you this has been one of the most frustrating waits for a book in a long time...the last time I remember being this anxious was when LOVER REVEALED by JR Ward had been delivered to the neighbours on a Friday afternoon because we weren't home and then the neighbours went away for the weekend before I picked the book up....
But luckily MIDNIGHT RISING arrived and I have read and reviewed it.

This was a month with the focus on paranormal and contemporary/romantic suspense genre. The only historical I read was the third book in the Courtship Wars Series by Nicole which the saying "it's not about quantity but quality" certainly applies! It was the best regency romance I've read in quite a while! I loved it and was glad to find out that the series isn't ending here but will have at least 3 more books.

In the new discoveries-department I rediscovered Lora Leigh in the form of her Breeds Series, this discovery was made while reading her anthology novella in SHIFTER, I bought that anthology mainly for the novella in Alyssa Day's Warriors of Poseidon Series but was pleasantly surprised by Lora Leigh's story, so pleasantly that I started collecting the books in the Breeds Series immediately, some in eBook, others in print...

And through Monica McCarty's Blog I discovered a new medieval series by Karin Tabke:
The series is called Blood Sword Legacy this is what Karin Tabke says about it:
Bound by a brotherhood forged in the hell of a Saracen prison, eight Blood Swords—mercenary knights for William the Conqueror—set out to claim their legacies the only way they can: by right of arms, by right of victory, by right of conquest.

Book 1:
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Release: June 2008
The year is 1066. William, bastard Duke of Normandy, has claimed the English throne by right of conquest. To quell the Saxon unrest, William sends out his most trusted knights to secure the land. One of those knights is his cousin, Sir Rohan de Luc, known far and wide for his bloody deeds as The Black Sword. . .

Bold and courageous, Saxon maiden Isabel of Alethorpe is the only one left to protect the people of the manor and its lands. When Rohan de Luc seizes Alethorpe, he offers to spare the life of Isabel's young squire in exchange for her willing gift of the charms of her body. Betrothed to another, she vows to that while he may take her maidenhead, her heart will remain her own. But even as her lips say no, Isabel's traitorous body is awakened to desire by the seductive attentions of this potent invader. Can she remain true to her own people, or will Sir Rohan's skilled touch capture her unwilling heart as surely as his prowess with his sword captured her father's lands?

Book 2:
No cover or blurb yet
Release: December 2008

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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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