July 31, 2008

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Back cover:
Harmony Lancaster is of the Lion breed, created to be a huntress with a thirst to kill. But the way she seeks justice outside of the law makes her a liability to her own kind. Yet she also possesses information that they need on the existence of the First Leo - who holds the precious secrets of desire.

To save her life, Harmony is paired with Sheriff Lance Jacobs, who tries to tame the killer within her, while protecting the gentle woman he longs to possess. But a dangerous cult leader, bent on destroying the Breeds, could change the way Lance looks at Harmony forever…


Harmony Lancaster escaped the Genetics Council's labs when she was just 15 years old. She was trained to be a cold-blooded assassin called Death. Killing is the only thing she knows and it's what she does best and she continues after her escape but now avenging innocent victims of violence, especially children. When she escaped she took some secrets with her and not only the Council but also the Breeds are after those secrets.
When she is captured by her brother and forced, or we can just call it blackmailed, to work as a Breed Enforcer with a Sheriff’s department somewhere in the desert, her life changes drastically. Especially when she's paired up with her mate, Sheriff Lance Jacobs. He shows her that there is so much more in life than death and vengeance. But Harmony knows who and what she is and she's afraid her enemies will use Lance in order to get to her.
Lance would never have guessed that the passionate woman he picked up in a bar would turn out to be the Breed Deputy he was supposed to pair up with for the next 6 months, much less that she is his mate. But having witnessed his cousin Megan mate a Breed he knows his destiny is inevitable. He accepts his fate and embraces and vows to protect his woman, a woman who has only known deception, pain, death and loneliness. But before the both can embrace their future there are many obstacles to overcome.

This is the second book featuring a Breed female and her human mate. And I'm starting to form a preference for this specific combination. I loved Kane and Sherra in their book and I loved Lance and Harmony in this one.

Harmony is stubborn, independent and strong-willed. She is Death and nobody messes with her. But everyone has his or her weaknesses and Harmony is no exception. She is convinced she has no emotions and is not capable of feeling anything but vengeance. But she's so wrong. The moment she mates Lance she's thrown into an emotional rollercoaster. Feeling things she has never known and doesn't want to accept: fear, hopelessness, lust and even love.
But Harmony is not an unfeeling creature. She has compassion and loyalty within her. Her actions since her escape from the Labs show this but she doesn't believe there is redemption for the innocents she was forced to kill when she was controlled by the Council's scientists and trainers. The good qualities have always been inside her but they have never been allowed to develop until Lance and the mating heat. She now has to deal with her own vulnerability for the first time in her life. She has to deal with having someone's trust and giving her trust to someone else.

Lance is perfect for Harmony. He is strong, dominant and he doesn't buy the emotionless tough attitude she tries to maintain, even with him. He sees the vulnerable and honorable woman the tortured child-soldier has grown into and tries to show her that too. He is determined not to let her run from what she is feeling and he is willing to sacrifice everything for her to be happy.

There were quite some very intriguing secondary characters in this part of the Breeds series. Of course there is Jonas Wyatt. He is turning out to be a key figure in this series and in this book a bit more is revealed about him and not all of it is good. He is still playing his manipulative games and uses everybody, even his sister Harmony, to achieve his goal. Whatever this mysterious goal might be is something I still haven't figured out completely. His manipulations are riding on the edge. Because you know there has to be a logical explanation and some kind of greater-good motive for his actions, it doesn't tip to the wrong side of said edge but they were bordering on the brink of unacceptable by the way he used Lance and Harmony. Fortunately a few tidbits at the end attributed to his redemption in this case.
Throughout the books bits of information on Harmony and Jonas and their relationship are revealed. These bits bring insight into both their pasts and motivations.

And then there is Dane Vanderale. He is connected to Harmony. That's all I can say without spoiling but not even Harmony knows the whole story behind Dane. Despite some very interesting information being disclosed in this book, there's still a lot of mystery surrounding Dane and I can't wait to get to the bottom of it.

Again there is an enemy, Reverend Henry Richard (H.R.) Alonzo, bent on the destruction of the Breed couple of this book, only he's not directly a Council member but he is connected by blood to the Council. And the connection is an intriguing one to say the least. Too bad Lora Leigh just left his character hanging after the confrontational climax towards the end of the book. I wonder if he will reappear in future books.

There are more secondary characters that triggered my speculative and imaginative mind, such as the Breed Mercury Warrant who has been briefly mentioned in several books now, Ryan DeSalvo who is Dane's "partner in crime" and Jess Warden, the Breeds attorney who has a sexual relationship with Jonas.
I also liked seeing a bit of Braden and Megan in this one, which was to be expected Megan being Lance's cousin.

I'm really loving the full-lengths in this series! They give Lora Leigh the space and pages to tell the Breeds' elaborate and intricate stories and past. Well-dosed and perfectly timed she unleashes a great blend of intriguing world building and explicit eroticism. The world of the Breeds unfolds little by little, answering questions and at the same time these answers are creating more and new questions. This is a sure way to keep me coming back for more.

The love scenes again are explicit but as I've said before about MEGAN'S MARK, they are a little bit subtler than the Ellora's Cave-installments. They are intense and amazingly emotional. How Lora Leigh manages to write book after book with love scenes like these and make them all different and fresh and unique is beyond me. But you won't hear me complain!!

Even though the series is a coherent and interconnected unity, no book is the same. One binding component is the mating heat between the Breeds and their mate and even there every couple has its own uniqueness that makes them stand out. Another binding element is the dialogues. They are top-notch and it doesn't matter if they are sexually charged or purely non-sexual. The mutual exchange of smart retorts is what makes these books a delight to read.
Every book has its own side story to melt with the ongoing storylines from previous books. It's these things that make me keep coming back to this series no matter how many other great books I have on my To Be Read-pile!

In this book I detected two ongoing storylines in the Breeds series that have started in earlier books and are being continued. One is about a spy/traitor within the Breeds compound, Sanctuary. This storyline is subtly touched in this book and I'm very curious as to where it will lead and who this person is and what his or her motives are.
The other storyline has to do with the first Leo, the first Breed ever created. This storyline also comes in little doses but in this book there were some revelations that had me picking up my jaw from the floor in shock! These revelations have spiked my curiosity to an all-time high. I must know more! NOW!

The end of this installment shook me to the core and my heart just broke for Harmony and Lance. There just weren't enough tissues to get me through the last 2 chapters. Amazing how Lora Leigh can take me from excitement and being all hot and bothered to intense heart wrenching emotions! She's a master within the erotic romance genre, without a shadow of a doubt!

Lora Leigh has done it again, or should I say she keeps on doing it!! She has delivered another intriguing, erotic, fast-paced, keep-me-addicted installment of her Breeds!


Quotes:
Harmony had admitted long ago she wasn't necessarily a sexual being, despite some of her more animal-like genetics. But this man, he made the feline inside her stand up and roar.

"Ready?" His voice was dark, the rasp of a sexually aroused primal male ready to claim a female.



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July 30, 2008

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Back cover:
Blackmailed into a marriage five years ago, and forced by their overbearing families to consummate that union so it could never be legally questioned, Victoria and Justin Talbot have been more than happy to live apart ever since, although neither one has quite forgotten the one night they shared.

But now Victoria has been forced to come to London in the disguise of London’s most talented and sought after courtesan. Invading Justin’s world, she is on a desperate search to find a missing friend and stay clear of her very angry, suddenly possessive husband. Only this time, one taste is not going to be enough for Justin. He is determined not only to uncover Victoria’s secrets, but to claim her, body and soul.


When her father forces her into a marriage with the Earl of Baybary, Justin Talbot, Victoria Reed resigns and tries to adjust to the idea of a marriage of convenience until Justin leaves her after one pleasure-filled wedding night. Heartbroken she stays in the country running the estate as Justin tells her to. Now, three years later, Victoria has her own reason for coming back to London Society, posing as a courtesan.
The last thing she expected though was finding her husband who proves to be a problem for her one-woman mission.

Since their one and only night of passion, Justin has tried to forget the woman he was blackmailed into marrying, by her father, three years ago. He hasn't quite succeeded but now that she has come to London he's sure he won't be able to. But first he has to discover why his wife has come to London posing as a courtesan.

Victoria is brave and kind but defiant and resourceful at the same time. She has learned, not in the least because of the way Justin abandoned her, how to fend for herself and take care of her business and the people she cares about. Beneath her strength there is a sense of vulnerability and innocence that make her a character you can easily empathize with. Little by little her life after Justin's abandonment is disclosed and you understand the motivation for her actions.

Justin is passionate, masculine, intelligent and seductive. He has made some decisions in the past concerning Victoria that may seem harsh but he too has understandable reasons for his actions, which Ms Petersen discloses in small amounts throughout the story.

The chemistry between them is explosive and immediate. Despite their respective reasons to maintain some emotional distance toward each other, they are drawn to each other like bees to honey and they can't resist the pull. They try to conceal their feelings but in the very sensual and tantalizing love scenes their hearts and feelings are laid bare to one another.

There are quite some secondary characters but they fit in the story nicely. Like in the LADY SPIES-series friendship is an important theme in the book and I hope to see some of the characters supporting Victoria and Justin take center stage in their own stories. If I am not mistaken some set-ups were already made but I will have to wait for the next book to see if I was right.


I have been a fan of Jenna Petersen's work ever since I read SCANDALOUS. She captivated me with that book and enthralled me with her LADY SPIES-series. Now she has thrilled me further with his book. It gave me everything I loved in the other books and more. It had great characters with a full-bodied story between them. It has a secondary plot next to the romance that holds the attention without distracting from the main couple.
The search for the villain in the story and the conclusion of the plot were truly perfectly done. It was the combination of the sensual romance and the wonderful and carefully executed storyline that made this one of Jenna's best novels so far.

This book reads like clockwork! Before I knew it I was at the end of this lovely story. The writing style is easy and fluent, it's fast-paced, the dialogues are witty and smart, the characters are wonderful and endearing and the plot is set up really well and provides plenty mystery to intrigue and captivate the reader.
In short, a fast-paced story that I finished in the bat of an eye because I couldn't stop reading it.


Quotes:
Their bodies ground together, warring and merging at the same time. It was a battle for pleasure, a battle for truth, a battle for everything being waged between them.

Justin and Victoria:
“Do you remember how you are to approach Alyssa?”
“I have not forgotten in the last five minutes, I assure you. I am your erotic plaything, not touched in the head, if you remember.”



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July 28, 2008

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Back cover:
Falling for a demon can be hazardous to your heart.
Riana Dumain is a fully trained Sibyl, a warrior priestess battling evil whose practical magic keeps her grounded in earthly science--and desires. She knows that gorgeous NYPD detective Creed Lowell is dangerous, and possibly a foot soldier for the evil Legion cult, using his badge and drop-dead looks to consolidate demonic power.

Creed's low profile Occult Crimes Unit pulls Riana and her two sister Sibyl into the case of a politician's son, murdered in a ritualistic sacrifice. Soon, Riana's instincts prove true. Creed, the hottest half-human she's ever known, a demon in bed and out, is guarding a trapdoor to hell. And unless Riana can find a way to tame her mystery man's treacherous inner self (and her heart), all of Manhattan may be enveloped by darkness.


Riana Dumain is the leader of her Sibyl triad fighting the evil "Legion" in New York, an enemy who is out to destroy all Sibyls. The Sibyl triads form the Dark Crescent Sisterhood, female warriors of the Dark Goddess. They are blessed with elemental powers. Riana is the mortar and the earth Sibyl, she is specialized in research and investigation. Cynda is pestle and the fire Sibyl, specialized in communication through wind chimes and mirrors. Merilee is the broom and the air Sibyl, specialized in the gathering of information and archiving. They come from their respective Motherhouses where the eldest and wisest Mothers trained them. Riana comes from the Russian motherhouse, Cynda from the Irish and Merilee from the Greek.

They protect the New York Upper Eastside against any supernatural evil that may threaten them. When a break-in in a museum and the brutal murder of a Senator's young son brings up more questions than the Occult Crimes Unit officers Andrea (Andy) Myles and Creed Lowell can answer, they seek Riana's triad's help. Soon they discover that the Legion is behind both crimes and they are turning up the heat for the Sibyls and everyone associated with them.
This is the start of a cooperation that will reveal more than the ones responsible for the crimes. It's the start of an action-packed battle filled with unexpected twists and turns and in the middle of it all Creed and Riana have to fight more than the enemy in order to have their HEA.

The attraction between Creed and Riana is instant and hot. Both characters are fleshed out very well, along with the secondary characters.
It's clear very early in the story that Riana and Creed want each other and this desire grows into a deep love but they have a lot of obstacles to overcome before they can be together: The Legion, Creed's "other" demon half, Riana's triad-sisters who disapprove of Creed, the crimes they have to solve.
Both Creed and Riana have a healthy dose of self-mockery. They are not afraid to question their own sanity in some circumstances, especially concerning each other.

I truly adored Andy (Creed's partner). She really held her own, being the only "normal" human between all these supernatural and elemental beings. I loved her attitude and her sharp-edged wit. She had some lines at exactly the right moments that put a smile on my face. I hope she will have an even bigger part in the next books of the trilogy.

When this trilogy was mentioned as a suggestion on the RealmsOnOurBookshelves-messagebord it appealed to me right away because of the combination of suspense, paranormal/supernatural and romance it promised. I can honestly say that Anna Windsor certainly delivered on that promise. This is the kind of book that keeps you reading and won't let you go, even when you're not reading it.

I have this big weakness for emotional and character-driven books and this book that's very plot-driven and action-filled has given me the best of both worlds. I can't mention a single thing that bothered me or didn't sit well with me. I can only praise Anna Windsor for her hero and heroine, her plot and world building, her secondary characters, her pace and conclusion and her writing style and timing.
It has everything I want and need in a book and everything forms a harmonious entirety. Suspense, conflict, humor, passion, the paranormal elements, pain and sex, all of them are mixed in the right proportions. Every element on its own intrigues and entices but put together they utterly captivated me like few books have been able to do.

Though the basic components for the book are well known and written by many authors before her, Anna Windsor manages to be refreshing with her contribution to this genre that is being overflowed with new authors and new series.
This is not the first book I've read where the hero has an "other" inside him (think J.R. Ward's Rhage or Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld, or Grimm of Moning's Highlanders) but Windsor gives it an amazingly different twist, which I won't give away here due to the spoilerish nature, you'll have to read it for yourself.

The world Anna Windsor builds up in this first book of the DARK CRESCENT SISTERHOOD-trilogy is an intriguing one to say the least. She has managed to create a world of supernatural beings and kick-ass female warriors. She combines this world with witty banter, steamy love scenes and thrilling suspense. She held me entranced from the first page to the last and in the end had me craving the next book like nothing else.

This first taste of the DARK CRESCENT SISTERHOOD has left me hungry for more, craving the next installment, which I'm sure will grace my bookshelves shortly and will be read as soon as it arrives.

If you're looking for an escape into a refreshing paranormal world of demons, half-demon cops, female warriors with elemental powers and a battle against an enemy that is utterly evil, you won't regret picking up BOUND BY SHADOW. It has it all and then some. I have the utmost admiration for what sprouts from Anna Windsor's imagination. This is top-notch storytelling, leaving me completely spellbound and awaiting the next book by her hand with eager anticipation.


Quotes:
Russian mustard. So sweet you want the whole jar, so fiery it'll burn you inside out if you eat it. Figures. Just like her.

God, but she was killing him, stroking that contraption and talking about power, and tasting and smelling and feeling...Any second now, his aching c**k would give up and just fall the hell right off his body.


Rating: 10 out of 10
July 22, 2008

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WICKED INTENT (book 4)

Backcover:
Control has meant everything to Tally Raines. Control of the office she ran as Jesse Wyman’s secretary, and now control of Lucian Conover’s office as well.
But Lucian isn’t content to be controlled by his fiery secretary. As a matter of fact, Lucian thinks she needs to loosen up and let the sexy, sensual woman hiding beneath her cool exterior free. And he will dare her to do just that… With a little help.


From the moment Lucien and Devril Conover meet Tally Raines, they both know she is the only woman for them. But convincing her of this is going to be one hell of a job. Lucian does the preliminaries by insisting that she becomes his personal assistant after his the merger between his and Jesse Wyman's companies. Then he starts his game of seduction and persuasion, one step at a time.
But Tally drives a hard bargain and doesn't give in without a fight.

Tally is smart-mouthed and sharp-tongued. She is stubborn. She's had a thing for Lucian for a while but is too stubborn to admit it, though she did not like seeing him as the third with Jesse and her friend Terrie, not that she would ever admit that to him.
Another heroine in this series with control-issues who is about to be dominated by passion, desire, need and love, in this case provided by two men: the twins Lucian and Devril, they have an inseparable natural bond that entails that the woman who chooses one of them as her life-partner will automatically get the other one included in the package.
This is why they search for the perfect woman who is willing and able to take on both of them. They are two halves of a whole...differing in coloring like night and day but similar on the inside and together they form male perfection. In character they also differ. Lucian is the social and ever present one; Devril is the quiet one on the background.

At first for me it was Lucian who was the hero in this story and Dev a secondary character being the third in the ménage, albeit permanently. In the beginning Lucian is the character who is most fleshed out, along with Tally's but later (in the second part) Lora Leigh gives Dev the center stage in a crucial scene and this changed it for me. They are both the heroes, nothing secondary about Dev at all.

Both Tally and Lucian want the other off-balance in order to maintain the upper hand and alone Lucian would not be able to convince Tally to take a chance on him and his brother. It's the combination of them both that brings Tally to her knees but she certainly does not give in easily and tries to suppress her desires and fantasies, which she knows they can fulfill. But she has an emotional secret, linked to her need for self-control, she doesn't want them to discover, fearing it might turn them away from her. She tries to turn the tables on them and does this in a magnificent way even if it means sealing the deal on her own feelings for them.

There are few secondary characters, but that is a recurring thing in this series, it's carried mainly by the primary characters and their emotions and battles with their desires and needs. Terrie as Tally's best friends plays a part in Tally's decision how to proceed with Lucian and Devril, Jesse, Terrie's husband makes a quick appearance and there's a very small set-up for the next book with a scene at The Club with the heroine of that book.

In this book, the second part was the best. There everything came together emotionally when Tally finally lets go and admits her own flaws and her feelings to herself and decides to take action, the part where Lucien and Dev will no longer let her hide behind her precious control.

The first part felt like it was rather preparing for this part, laying the groundwork for the second and more emotionally intense part. Normally Lora Leigh does this more fluently than in this book but I can imagine it was hard to make the story work in the mere 140 pages it counts. Because it's still a story that's more than some explicit sex scenes put together. It has depth, emotion and intensity and is very character-driven.
This series is all about combining intense contradictory emotions and the desire to control, dominate with explicit and graphic love scenes that underline those emotions and desires. Lora Leigh is a master at it.

Though I liked the previous book in this series better I still enjoyed this story, even if the idea of a permanent three-way relationship is not something that I would endorse, Lora Leigh does give the reader a story with all the elements to understand that there could be people who do accept that as a way of life. Because of Lora's writing style, which is easy, flowing and fast-paced you keep on reading and because these stories aren't very long (an average of between 120 and 200 pages) you go through them in a heartbeat, looking forward to the next. Every story is a build-up for the next introducing future characters with just the right amount of mystery to entice you.


Quote:
“Do you really think you can control me with sex, Lucian?” she asked him, her voice cold, filled with loathing. “Do I really appear to be such a twit that all you have to do is f**k me to handle me? You have another thing coming.” She punctuated her words with a forceful jab of her finger into his hard, muscular chest. “No one handles me. No man controls me. Not now. Not ever.” He glanced down at her finger. Slowly. A second later his gaze speared into hers once again. “I’ll control you, Tally,” he told her, the tone of his voice whispering of a sexual dominance, an excitement she had only imagined before. “We’ll control you, and I promise you, when we do, you’ll beg for it.”




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SACRIFICE (book 5)

Backcover:
Kimberly has run from Jared for a year now, sensing the weakness he could be to her future. But she never expected the sacrifice he would make for her. One that will rock her soul, and destroy the very foundations of all her beliefs. Her sexuality, her heart, and all she’s fought for in the last six years will be tested when an assignment takes her to Jared’s farm, and into his bed. There she will learn the true meaning of hunger, of love…as well as the deception and the lies that have governed her life for so long. Anything worth having is worth sacrificing for. Kimberly is about to find out if she can pay the price, and risk not only the inheritance that should be hers, but also her heart to the one man who can still the fires that rage in her soul.


Kimberly Madison's father married Jared Raddington's mother a year ago and the relationships in the Madison-household are complicated ones. Kimberly and her father are battling out a fight that started years ago and Jared and his mother are in the middle of it. But Jared has a thing for Kimberly, he wants her bad and he has plans for their future.
To release the tension of what her father puts her through she has become one of the very few single female members of the Club and once every three months she goes there to have her fun. But when Jared also joins the Club and circumstances throw them together, everything changes

Determination is Jared's middle name. He's determined to get Kimberly to admit she wants him.
Jared not only wants Kimberly out of passion but he wants to give her the freedom she's desperately seeking. A freedom he has the power to give her if she only would let him.
Stubborn is Kimberly's middle name since she's not giving him an inch in his passionate pursuit of her. There is too much at stake for her, but also for him.
Kimberly is on a path to self-destruction because of what the conflict with her father is doing to her.

Jared's mother Carolyn Raddington Madison and Kimberly's father Senator Daniel Madison are two of the few secondary characters in the book. They are the ones with the biggest supporting roles but still the focus is mostly on Kimberly and Jared.

The third in this book is Ian Sinclair; he is the owner of The Club and hero of book 7 in the series. But the whole ménage-thing is secondary in the story, where in previous books the story was kind of centered on it, here it's just a small element in the whole of issues Jared and Kimberly have to deal with.

I liked the previous installments in this series best. This one left me with a feeling of something missing...the intensity between the characters I did find in the previous ones. Maybe it was the complications Kimberly and Jared encountered and the way they dealt with them and the issue between Kimberly and her father. I can't go into details because it would spoil too much of the story but I didn't connect with both Jared and Kimberly the way I did for example with Tally, Terrie, Lucian, Jesse, Ella and James from the previous books. Also the balance between the erotic scenes and the emotions was a bit more tipped toward the eroticism in this one, this is not necessarily a bad thing but it is the perfect balanced out mix of the two that makes me a fan of Lora Leigh's writing and in this book it was not quite there.

Though this story has the same elements as all the previous stories in this series: the Trojans, the Club, the dominant alpha hero, the fierce and stubborn heroine, the explicit and graphic love scenes and the struggle for control and dominance, it has a totally different feel from the previous books. I think it's because of the much more complicated journey to happiness Kimberly and Jared have to undertake. There are obstacles in their way that make the issues of the previous couples seem like child play. Also it's the first in the series with a plotline besides the relationship between the hero and heroine. But it's a very small one and unfortunately it's just not worked out properly. There's a hint of it but it's brushed off in favor of the sexual and relationship-issues between Kimberly and Jared and the problems between Kimberly and her father.

Still Lora Leigh has delivered another heart wrenching, scorching hot and emotionally satisfying story of love conquering any obstacle, no matter how big it might be. The end certainly proved this, regardless of the fact that it wasn't as fluently put together as the previous books. The end made up for all a lot that I missed throughout the book and Lora Leigh provided an emotional and believable solution to the issue between Kimberly and her father.


Quote:
He managed to stay silent, just barely, by clenching his teeth and jerking her robe from a nearby table. She was pushing him though. Before he could wrap it around her shoulders, she jerked it from his hands and shrugged it on with deliberate provocation. A slow, teasing move that made him want to growl with the need rising like a hungry beast in his loins.



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July 16, 2008

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BACKCOVER:
Damien Knight is proud, aloof, and tormented by memories of war. 

Though living in seclusion, he is named guardian to a fellow officer's ward. Instead of the young homeless waif he was expecting, however, Miranda FitzHubert is a stunning, passionate beauty who invades his sanctuary and forces him back into society. Struggling to maintain honor and self-control, Damien now faces an ever greater threat: desire.


A bold, free spirit, Miranda has witnessed the darkest depths of Damien's soul--and has seen his desperate need for love. But before she can thaw his unyielding heart, she must endure a terrifying nightmare of her own. . . .


With Napoleon still imprisoned but his threat of war still lingering, Damien Knight returns home a celebrated war hero but no one knows the demons he faces with his fight against the darkness and cruelty of war that lingers inside him. He isolates himself on the estate he's inherited along with the honorary title as a courtesy to his late father and tries to adjust to the "normal" life. But then word comes that one of his fellow officers is murdered and he has become the guardian of said officer's ward. Little does he know what monumental changes this will bring in his life.

Miranda is the quintessential abandoned illegitimate child who has had no one to care for her or protect her. She has learned to take care of herself and has the utter conviction that she will make something of her life regardless what cruelty is thrown at her. She doesn't need a guardian who will only see her as a burden. But she didn't count on the warm and welcoming Knight family and neither did she expect that it would be Damien Knight, the tormented, battered warrior, who would melt her into opening her heart for him.

Damien is a complicated and intricate character. War has him on the verge of a mental breakdown with a kind of post-war trauma. This causes him to retreat both physically to his remote estate, as well as emotionally from his siblings and friends. He doesn't want to appear in Society until he's cured of these torments that can be triggered by the slightest things, such as fireworks or champagne corks popping.

Miranda is vivid, sparkling, defiant and vibrant despite her suffering at the School for Girls she grew up in after her parents' deaths. She has the ability to bounce back from anything and takes every adversity in stride, turning every bad thing into something positive.
With Miranda Damien is torn between his duty and honor and his promise to his fellow officer and his desire to have Miranda all to himself. She is a breath of fresh air and color in his darkened life. Despite his feelings for her and hers for him, he keeps pushing her away for her own protection. He doesn't want to taint her with the demons that haunt him. But Miranda wants none of this and persists in offering him her love and care to try and help him overcome his trauma.

Again the secondary characters form important supporting roles for Damien and Miranda and in the process some elaborate glances are given of some of the heroes and heroines of the previous books. It was nice to see how their lives have progressed since their own stories. Lucien, being Damien's twin plays an important role in assisting Miranda in her quest for Damien's heart but Bel and Alice also have their parts in introducing and escorting Miranda in the Ton's society.

The fact that the book starts with an important secondary character to the plot and this first chapter had me enthralled right way, says enough for how Gaelen Foley's characters have the ability to captivate and fascinate. The plot next to the romance is one where the reader is in the loop, knowing exactly who and why but the outcome and conclusion of it is the thing that makes it stand out and enrich the romance.

Gaelen Foley just keeps on writing these wonderful books in this series! This was another one that blew me away! I knew Damien was more than I suspected in LORD OF FIRE but this totally surpassed my expectations.
The story and feel of this book are very different from LORD OF FIRE, which is logical because Lucien and Damian are two totally different personalities and so are their heroines. This book was darker, more tormented but again it all utterly mesmerized me; the characters, the plot, the romance and Gaelen Foley's writing. It's outstandingly good.

Mixing historical facts with intense emotions her writing sparkles and sizzles, touching the wide range of emotions that are present in everyone's lives no matter what time period or what class they are from. But Gaelen Foley also manages to write books in a series that each have their own touch and feel but are still connected through the characters. She does this in way that is really amazing. I've read series where the basics of course are the same but the books are so similar in build up and plot that they become interchangeable. This is absolutely not the case with this series.

Every book is unique, every hero has his own issues to deal with and every heroine also has hers. Every plot, every couple and every romance has it's own uniqueness and that's what makes this series an excellent one and has me singing it's praises. Now if I only had the time to read all the remaining books in this series right away, one after the other...But alas, I will have to take them slow in between other books because unfortunately I don't have that luxury.



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BACKCOVER:
THE FIRST RULE OF BODYGUARDS:
The daughter of a wealthy businessman, Jillian Kincaid grew up with bodyguards shadowing her every move-and she hated it. Now a TV anchorwoman, she refuses to let another hired thug follow her around. Not even when she begins to receive terrifying death threats. Not even when the bodyguard is the darkly seductive Nolan Garrett...

NEVER FALL IN LOVE...
Trained in Special Ops, bodyguard Nolan Garrett has been hired by Jillian's father to keep her out of danger. But it's clear from the start that Jillian isn't going to make his job easy. Far from the spoiled princess he expected, Jillian is tough, independent, and totally sexy. And she's fighting him every step of the way.

WITH THE WOMAN YOU'RE PROTECTING.
As Jillian's stalker raises the stakes, Nolan must keep her close if he wants to keep her alive. But being so close can only turn up the heat that's been simmering between them-a heat that could explode into passion at any moment...


Nolan Garrett's life has hit rock bottom. Guilt over many things has him drinking it away when he finds a new purpose in life by being Jillian Kincaid's bodyguard, at the request of her father and as a favor to his brother. Though he sees it as being forced and unwanted he is determined not to let anyone down again who is depending on him. This new purpose has the potential of changing his life forever.
Jillian Kincaid is also determined, determined to make a life for her own without the smothering protection from her high profile father. She doesn't want some bodyguard following her like a shadow. But death threats issued by a stalker and her father's tenacity force her to accept Nolan, but this doesn't mean she's going to make it easy for him.

Jillian is stubborn, feisty and not easily taken off her guard by anything. At first she sees the threats as some kind of sick joke on her but soon she understands that they are for real and she copes with it as well as she can. She also isn't fooled by Nolan's attitude towards her, she sees in him what he tries very hard to deny.

Cindy Gerard also does a great job with Nolan, she paints a perfect picture of a hardened and tough ex-military who has seen war and death and has trouble keeping his feelings professional and his focus on his job to protect his client. The dilemmas he faces and battles are described with a reality that shows Cindy Gerard’s great writing skill, descriptive talent and thorough knowledge or research of the subjects touched in the book.

Neither Nolan nor Jillian is what the other seemed to be expecting. Nolan isn't the stoic, arrogant, smart-mouth bodyguard he pretends to be. He's fighting guilt and shame and fighting the fact he doesn't think he deserves someone like Jillian to like him, let alone love him.
Jillian isn't the pampered socialite she seems to the superficial eye. She's strong-willed and compassionate with a huge longing for independence from her father. These hidden sides are what surprises them and attracts them to each other.
I loved the interactions and the dynamic between Jillian and Nolan. They were sarcastic and feisty. Neither giving an inch, nor giving into the simmering feelings between them.

There is a very big cast of secondary characters. Mostly connected to Jillian; coworkers, friends, family. And of course Nolan's family. Nolan is the youngest of the Garretts, with Ethan and Dallas as his older brothers and Eve as his twin sister. The glimpses from them have bumped up my anticipation level for their own books to an amazing high.
Despite the many secondary characters, they are never bothersome and it's easy to keep track of them because of Gerard's clear and vivid writing style. They all complement the story and the main characters in their own way.

Cindy Gerard is great at fleshing out the characters, complete with background, motivation and the rollercoaster of emotions running through them. Her lively description of emotions like anger, fear, lust, confusion, hate and love make the book a terrific read.
Despite some flashback scenes on Nolan's part, the book is extremely fast-paced (I read it in almost one sitting), it's filled with nail biting suspense and heartbreaking romance. The love scenes are absolutely not explicit but certainly well written and explosive in attraction and sensuality.
Slowly but surely it builds up to an all-consuming climax, providing a perfect fit for the thrilling suspense plot that builds up in the same exceptional way. Both are well dosed and the suspense plot keeps you guessing as to who Jillian's stalker is and why. The answers to this are both horrifying and heart wrenching at the same time. But as with all the characters in this book, again the motivations and background are fleshed out in an amazing way.

This was my first taste of Cindy Gerard's writing and I must say I'm longing for more. With this book she has put herself in the higher ranks of the romantic suspense genre on my bookshelves, giving me the emotional ride I search for in the books I read.


Quotes:
He snorted.
"So sorry," she bit out with the sweetness of alum, "but you're going to have to translate that one for me. I'm not fluent in brooding male grunting."

He almost lost it then. Almost forgot everything he knew, about right, about wrong, about who she was and who he wasn't. He almost tipped her face up to his to see if that amazing mouth tasted the way he knew it would. Of sex and hunger and a salvation a man like him had no business seeking from a woman like her.



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BACKCOVER:
Cursed with the extraordinary power to feel other peoples’ emotions, Megan Fields has tucked herself away in a remote corner of New Mexico, working as a small-town sheriff’s deputy. She finds solace in the silence and heat of the desert. But when Breeds begin dying on her watch,
Megan realizes that the secrets from her past can’t stay buried forever. Someone is out for blood - her blood.

An arrogant Feline Breed, Braden Arness broods with feral intensity. His mission to solve the mysterious murders brings him to Megan, a woman who accosts his senses like no other. Only with him can she let down her guard - and surrender to the insatiable hunger that wracks her body. But as they team up to hunt the elusive killers, Braden and Megan find themselves becoming the prey…


After the short story on Breed Enforcer Tarek Jordan (in the Anthology HOT SPELL) this is the first full-length book in the Breeds Series. It centers on Megan Fields, a deputy sheriff who is hiding in the desert from a gift she considers a curse, she’s an Empath and is unable to block other people's feelings. She feels their fears, angers and frustrations as well as all other emotions. After trying to go follow her dreams of being in law enforcement, she has to give it up because her inability to block the emotions she senses causes danger for herself and others. When the Genetics Council targets her, Braden Arness is sent in to protect her and to help her find out why she's targeted. She discovers that with Braden there's peace from the emotions, but another complication rises when they find out she is his Breed mate

Megan is feisty, brave, not easily scared, sharp-tongued, challenging and defiant. She gives Braden hell when he tries to dominate her and tell her what to do. Her gift isolates her from others, both literally and figuratively. From relationships and men, from family, friends and colleagues. I loved Megan; she is just as fierce as all the other females mated to the Breeds.

Braden is a Breed Enforcer, a trained assassin who has turned his training in the Labs to the good of the Breeds, taking down people who are a threat to the Breeds.
Megan and Braden's interactions sparkle from the very start and it only gets fierier throughout the book, fueled by the danger they find themselves in. Though they are both alpha personalities they complement each other to the extreme. Together they work the best, even if they irritate the hell out of each other and fight the mutual attraction and the mating heat to the limit. They both life for adventure and freedom, despite their constricting circumstances, for Braden it's being a Breed, created to kill and not to be compassionate or have human feelings and longings. For Megan it's being an Empath and driven to hide herself in a desert where she can live without fearing other people's emotions.

There are many secondary characters, mainly other Breeds and Megan's family members. The most important ones are the Head of Breed Affairs, Lion Breed Jonas Wyatt, the senator who is after Megan, Macken Cooley, her cousin Lance Jacobs (who is the hero of the next Breed book) and Dr Elyiana Morrey.

The glimpses of Jonas Wyatt I got from previous books were just the tip of the iceberg. He is calculating and manipulative and plays an important role in this book, one that prepares me to expect much more of him in the future books.

Elyiana Morrey is a Breed doctor who conducts the tests on the Breeds, their mates and everything concerning the Mating Heat. She is interesting to say the least and there is much more to her than you would guess at a first glance.

In this book the Genetics Council is made more specific in the form of Megan's enemy, Cooley. In the previous installments the Genetics Council was a nameless, faceless threat, always hovering in the background but now it's starting to have names and people representing the Council and making it more tangible.

This Breed story takes place in 2023, nearly ten years after book 1, placing that book in about 2012/2013. It was nice to have a more specified timeline; this was something that didn't become very clear in the previous books.

Lora Leigh again did not fail to please me with this installment of the Breeds; being the first full-length book it's more elaborate, with much more plot to it than the previous parts. This did not mean that the explicit and graphic sex scenes were lost in it. They were masterfully imbedded into the plot, as functional as in all the Breed books.

It was a delight to read with everything I'm used to in this series: action, humor, sex and emotions.
In every book there is more development concerning the Mating Heat and this one brought some additional information that broadens the knowledge on it a bit further. This part of the books remains intriguing and gives this series it's uniqueness I admire so much.
There is a surprising outcome of the plot I really didn't see coming but I should have known that Lora Leigh would give the plot a nice twist and she surely knows how to keep me wanting more, especially with the more than intriguing epilogue that only raises questions I most definitely want answers to!


Quotes:
Megan and Braden:
"I don't want or need you. And next time you manhandle me, I'm going to shoot you."
"You try and shoot me, and I might have to bite you again."
"Keep your damned vampire teeth to yourself and let me go or I'm going to scream bloody murder on your ass. This is called harassment, you know. Sexual harassment."
Hmm, that's not sexual harassment, baby. When I decide to get sexual, trust me, you'll know it."

That just felt way too good. Good enough that she couldn't still the hard exhalation of breath that nearly turned into a whimper of greedy need. Talk about a banquet. A smorgasbord of hard, tight male flesh.



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July 15, 2008

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BACKCOVER:
THE SINS OF THE PAST
When Hannah Wentworth flees her life in San Francisco to join her sister D’Anu witches in Otherworld, she vows to help them conquer the evil bent on destroying the human realm. But the only one who can help her happens to be the king of the Dark Elves. The father to her nemesis, Rhiannon of the D’Anu. And the one man Hannah can never, ever trust...especially because of her dangerous attraction to him.

ARE COMING TO LIGHT…
Garran knows that the beautiful, headstrong Hannah is wary of him for having banished his people to a life underground. But now Garran can right that wrong by helping her and the other gray witches in their dangerous battle in San Francisco—even if doing so means sacrificing the passion he’s found only in Hannah’s arms…


IIn this fifth installment of the Magic Series the battle against the demon god Balor, demon goddess Ceithlenn and the black magic warlock Darkwolf reaches a turning point that can only be called mind-blowing. It forms the background for a love story that unfolds between Garran, king of the Drow (Dark Elves) and Hannah Wenthworth, gray witch of the D'Anu. How is Hannah to trust a man who has betrayed her sister witches in the past and how is Garran to prove to Hannah that he is willing to do what is needed to right his wrongs of the past? Their journey to the answers for these questions and to their happy end is filled with dangerous battles, resistance from friends and family, sacrifice and unconditional love.

Hannah is the witch of the Coven who is the most distant and detached from the others, she always keeps her distance and the only other witch who can push her buttons is Rhiannon (the reason for this becomes clear in this book). With Hannah everything is about being in control of her life and her emotions. This is caused by her loveless childhood.

Garran is the king of the Dark Elves and though he made some appearances in previous parts of the series, in this one you really get to know him and his motivations for previous actions.

Both Garran and Hannah are complicated and intricate characters due to their personalities, responsibilities and history. They both need someone strong to understand what drives them and what their desires are. They find that someone in each other.

There are more scenes for the secondary characters and multiple points of view (POV’s) are employed. In the other books this was also the case but much less frequent and less in volume. The amount of pages Darkwolf, Ceithlenn and Jake McGregor (captain of the human Paranormal Special Forces) have is considerably higher than in the previous books. This, however, is never bothering and their POV's are needed for the completion of the plot.
There is no separate POV for Rhiannon (the heroine of book 3) but because of her connection to Garran she has an important secondary role in this one.

Darkwolf remains an ambiguous character. Every time I thought I had him figured out, he surprised me with actions I did not see coming. He's fighting his own battle and his only allegiance, despite that it sometimes may seem different, is to himself, his own quest for power. He remains an enemy who's a power to be reckoned with and I can only guess what he has in store for the Alliance in the last book.


The way McCray builds this world and plot and lets her characters roam around in them is praiseworthy. It's fast-paced, action-filled, unpredictable and compelling throughout the entire book, but especially in the last half.
The romance between Hannah and Garran fitted in nicely, providing variation to the exciting, nerve wrecking plot.
The love scenes are very explicitly erotic but again fitting perfectly with the story and the characters. Also they are well dosed into the story, not too little, not too much. Just like in the previous books.
The fighting/battle sequences are amazing. McCray combines the witches' magic, the Fae warriors' swords, the Dark Elves' arrows and the human guns into scenes that came of the pages so lifelike that they are absolutely exhilarating.

Again I immerged myself in the world of the D'Anu witches, the Fae Warriors of the D'Danann and this time another group was added to the mix: the Dark Elves (Drows). Again I immensely enjoyed reading the ongoing plot in the series, the battle against the evil goddess Ceithlenn. The direction the ongoing plot takes at the end of the book didn't quite take me by surprise but I do wonder how everything is going to be worked out at the end of the series.

With every book this series gets better and more intriguing. Existing storylines are expanded, new storylines are woven in, questions are answered but at the same time new questions are raised. This book in the series is clearly setting up the ending of the series with a bang. More alliances are formed, allegiances change sides, actions are taken that puzzle me but I'm sure everything will be explained in the next and final installment.

Though this book fits right in the series with the ongoing plot and the romance and the eroticism, it had a slightly different feel to it compared to the previous books.
One thing is the multiple POV's I mentioned before but also the tone and setting is more grim and there's a lot more action. For me this all contributed to the overall impact of the book. I liked this one the best in the series so far, though I think (hope) the final book in the series will close it with a blast. The ongoing plot is building to an amazing climax, one I'm both anticipating and fearing.
Anticipating because I really want to know how this battle is going to end.
Fearing because I know that with the next book the series ends and I won't be able to loose myself in this wonderful, magical, erotic world Cheyenne McCray has created.



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BACKCOVER:
After years of preparation, he has baited his trap well, luring the depraved members of Society into his devil's playground so he can earn their trust and uncover their secrets. Yet no one in London suspects that Lord Lucien Knight is England's most cunning spy, an officer who has sacrificed his soul for his country. Now an unexpected intruder has invaded his fortress of sin, jeopardizing his carefully laid plans--and igniting his deepest desires.
Beautiful, innocent Alice Montague finds herself at the mercy of scandalous Lord Lucien. But as he begins his slow seduction to corrupt her virtue, Alice glimpses a man tormented by his own choices, a man who promises her nothing but his undeniable passion. . .


The background for this wonderful historical love story is the time when Napoleon has been imprisoned on Elba and the threat of war is still lingering.
Lucien Knight is a secret agent for the English Crown with many secrets to hide. He uses the country estate he's inherited from his father to attract other spies and pry information from them.
Alice Montague is a lovely, gently bred, young woman, living a quiet life but feeling restless, longing, wanting and waiting for something but she doesn't quite know what.
Circumstances brings them together in a time that is dangerous and they find in each other what they were unknowingly looking for: the soul mate that answers to their deepest desires. But before they can truly live in peace they have secrets to unveil, enemies to destroy and relatives to fight.

Alice is much more than meets the eye and a perfect match for Lucien. Underneath her meek and placid behavior there’s a fiery and passionate woman who will not let anything or anyone rule her. She is caring and sweet but she has a will of her own.

Lucien totally took me by surprise and from the first moment my heart broke for him. He is intelligent, cunning, wicked and sly, he knows how to seduce and manipulate but he's also lonely and lost, looking for someone who will see him as more the other Knight twin, next to his twin Damien who is a celebrated war hero. Lucien feels disconnected with Damien. He tries to come across as cynical and hard but deep inside he's very lonely and feels he will always be less than Damien for various reasons.
With Alice Lucien is completely thrown of his usual game of seduction and manipulation. He wants her to really want him. All of him, his good and his bad sides. Alice sees in him who he truly is and accepts that.
The same thing goes for Alice. People see her timid ways as prudish virtue but Lucien sees her inner desires and her longing for freedom. He sees her goodness and wants to revel in it.
There were numerous scenes between Alice and Lucien that brought tears in my eyes, speaking to my deepest emotions.

The secondary characters are complementary and a true addition to the main couple and the plot. There is Caro, Alice's sister-in-law, who is a selfish and malicious woman but without her Alice and Lucien would never have met. There's Damien, Lucien’s other half, the eldest of them. He has his own secrets and issues and I'm very curious to learn more about them in his own book. There's Harry, Alice's sweet little nephew who melts everyone’s heart, there are Lucien's young rogues, 5 young men in training to be spies just like Lucien and of course there's Lucien's archenemy, Claude Bardou, a French spy and the only one ever to capture and torture Lucien.

This book mesmerized me from the first page to the last. Gaelen Foley wrote a compelling historical romance that brings you back to London in the 19th century. A story with characters that have depth, background emotional motivation and a lot of issues to work out.

This series by Gaelen Foley is an undiscovered treasure on my bookshelf. It has, at least the first two books, everything I want in my romance novels; a couple that is perfectly matched, both emotionally as romantically, a thrilling, exciting plot, the historical facts are masterfully embedded into the story and the author knows how to keep my attention throughout the entire book, from the beginning to very end.

The emotions in this book had me in a very firm grip. Most present was the heartfelt loneliness both Lucien and Alice felt and the way they find the other to fill in the missing pieces in their lives. It's a heartwarming story with loneliness, pride and redemption as the main themes.

Every thing was right in this book: the plot, the characters, the pace, the emotions, the romance, the passion and the combination of all of the above put together. I was captivated, moved and entranced by it all. Even more than with the first book in this series, which I really adored.
The Knight Miscellany Series is one to treasure and a keeper on my bookshelves!


Quotes:
Alice and Lucien:
"Why must you kiss me?"
"Because I cannot bear waiting for you to kiss me."
"You actually expect me to kiss you?" She retorted in breathless indignation.
"Expect it? No. Desire it? Yes" He gave her a lazy half smile. "With every fiber of my being."

Lucien and Alice:
"You are mine now. Forever. Everything I have is yours. My body, my heart, my name."
"Lucien, my dark angel." She cupped his face between her hands and stared into his eyes. "I want your secrets."
"No, you, don't"



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In Behind Closed Doors and Standing in the Shadows, Shannon McKenna introduced the McCloud Brothers: intense, rugged, super-sexy, and deliciously sensual. Now, Davy McCloud is about to meet a woman he can't trust--or live without . . .


Disillusioned P.I Davy McCloud has learned the hard way not to follow blind impulse when it comes to women. He'd rather
play it safe, and keep his life simple, calm and uncomplicated. But he's prepared to make an exception when Margot Vetter shows up to teach at the gym next door. The luscious, mysterious woman stirs a hunger he hasn't felt in a long time, as well as a fierce protectiveness he can't quite explain, especially when her background check reveals she's hiding secrets--secrets of the ugly, deadly kind.



Margot is at the end of her rope. It's bad enough that she's broke and on the run, framed for a murder she didn't commit. Now, she's being terrorized by a malevolent stalker. The only person she dares to turn to is buff, scarily gorgeous Davy McCloud, a man who seems like nothing on earth could intimidate him. But Davy has questions of his own, and the closer she gets to him, the more Margot discovers that she can't hold herself back from this enigmatic, sensual man in any way.

Neither of them expected passion to flare this quickly--or to drag them into a danger as real as their love. Margot's past has finally caught up with her. And for Davy McCloud, life is about to get more than complicated . . .It's turning deadly. .



From the moment Davy McCloud sets eye on Margot Vetter (Margaret Callahan) he knows he's looking at trouble and we're not only talking about a Margot being framed for murder, stalked by some crazy assassin and his manipulative brother who's seeking power and world-domination.
Davy knows his life, always on a tight and controlled leash, is going to be turned upside down by the strong and willful Margot.
Margot has never gone for the big, silent dominant types but Davy stirs something in her that makes her change her mind about that. When they pair up to tackle the problems in Margot's life they both discover that those problems are the least of their worries compared to the emotional thunderstorm they unleash in each other.

Margot is smart-mouthed, compassionate and a very different type of heroine compared to the previous books. She's out there, strong and willful from the very beginning.

Davy is the most quiet of the McCloud brothers. But there is so much more to him. He is the responsible one, the one that never lets down his guard, the one to keep everything and everyone together. The responsibilities bestowed upon him ever since he was a small boy don't permit him to let go and feel what he wants and needs to feel, to allow his control to make room for caring about anyone but his brothers. He's definitely as tormented as the other McCloud brothers by their weird upbringing, if not to say even more tormented because of him being the eldest boy. He doesn't waste words or time on pleasantries, humor or fun. He's very intense and dominant, but Margot doesn't bow down to him, she gives as good as she gets, even it means putting herself out there to be hurt.
Margot takes his control away and forces him to feel and care. He fights this with all he can but it's a losing battle. She rips him wide open and leaves him vulnerable like he's never been ever before.

Davy and Margot are perfect for each other. They have so many similarities and yet they are so different. Each one able to bring out unwanted emotions, they long for deep inside, in the other. They are straightforward, open, direct and honest. But where Margot is light-hearted and has an amazing ability to bounce back and go for it all, Davy is stern and silent, thinking that as long as every emotion is under control, nothing can go wrong and nobody gets hurt.
They both push each other's buttons, both consciously as well as unintentional, making each other feel and say things they don't want to. They ignite feelings in each other that scare them both. They both have control issues, however their motives for wanting control and exert dominance are very different.

The "bad-guys" in this book were absolutely evil and terrifyingly scary.
In every one of her books I've read so far there's been something McKenna amazes me with. In this one it was her knack for writing psychopaths to the teeth, life-like psychopaths such as Marcus and Faris. The way she describes them and their motives, the way she describes Faris' thought patterns, left me awestruck. I even started to believe in them myself, as horrifying as they were.
Marcus was the true evil one, he is so deranged, depraved it really scared me. He pulls all the strings with his mind games and mind control over Faris. These characters really had me wondering where McKenna comes up with this. At the same time I was admiring her thorough research that gives her books the depth and the compelling characters I like so much.

I got a nice taste of previous main characters with glimpses of Erin, Connor and Raine and a bit more of Seth. But also former secondary characters as Sean, Tamara, Miles and Cindy made an appearance, the one more lingering than the other. Every secondary character performing their supporting roles, giving Margot and Davy the back-up needed and putting them in the spotlight when it counted.

The youngest McCloud, Sean, is very intriguing. The tidbits on him were very promising to say the least. If I go by what I've learned about him in this book and the previous ones, I can't wait to know what is behind his cheerful and happy-go-lucky exterior. As it was, Davy also blew me off my socks turning out to be much more intense than I ever thought.

The intriguing first chapter sets the stage for a true Shannon McKenna book, filled with thrilling suspense, fast-paced action and heart wrenching emotions. Paired up with some steamy erotic scenes I took it all in and savored it.
The suspense plot is set up perfectly, nicely dosed, disclosing small amount of details along the way, building up to a climax that the reader sees coming but still blows you out of the water. The fighting sequences between Davy and Faris are mindboggling and so lifelike I was cringing in my seat while reading them.
The love scenes between Margot and Davy were tantalizing, breathtaking and spine tingling. They portrayed their characters and dilemmas so well they were a true addition to the character-development of both of them.
This book kept me riveted to the pages, not wanting to let go for a single second. Everything was right: the incomparable plot with its mind-blowing conclusion, the strong and well-written characters, both primary and secondary and the heart throbbing romance. It all fit together perfectly.
The end had me goose-bumped and teary-eyed. The balance between plot, character-development and the erotic romance is as I've grown accustomed to by Shannon McKenna: exquisite!


Quotes:
Then she'd strip him naked, rub him down with oil, knock him onto his back and ride him of into the sunset. At a hard gallop.

Sean to Davy about Margot after Davy asks Sean if he's put the moves on her:
"I've tried, sure. Any straight guy with a pulse would try. (…) She just wasn't into me. It's just like when I got that crush on my high school French teacher. She just sort of pats me on the head while I pant and drool."(...)"I think it's you she likes."



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This book was released on July 1st and I reviewed it for REALMS ON OUR BOOKSHELVES


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He can bear any pain but the thought of losing her…
Reyes is a man possessed. Bound by the demon of pain, he is forbidden to know pleasure. Yet he craves a mortal woman, Danika Ford, more than breath and will do anything to claim her—even defy the gods.

Danika is on the run. For months, she’s eluded the Lords of the Underworld, immortal warriors who won’t rest until she and her family have been destroyed. But her dreams are haunted by Reyes, the warrior whose searing touch she can’t forget. Yet a future together could mean death to all they both hold dear. . .


Reyes is the Lord of the Underworld possessed by Pain. He must ease his torment by hurting himself physically; only physical pain brings him relief from his demon. Emotional pain doesn't count. He has a heart wrenching choice to make, between his love for Danika and his loyalty to the Lords. He tries to prevent his fellow Lords from getting hurt and at the same time his every action is motivated by his feelings for Danika.

A holiday to Budapest, in memory of her grandfather, has changed Danika's life forever. She used to be safe and protected in the cradle of her family. Now she's alone, on the run for her life and used as a pawn by both sides in the search for Pandora's Box. She proves to be a key figure in this search. She has to make a choice too between her loyalty and love for her family and her new and unwelcome feelings for a warrior possessed by a demon. Soon she realizes that she is not capable of betraying or hurting Reyes, not even for her family.

I read this third book of the Lords of the Underworld without reading book 2 and though I did miss some details on the main plot, this didn't prevent me from enjoying this story, but still I would recommend reading the series in order for complete enjoyment.

Gena Showalter promised us dark and intense and I have to say that she does that just as well as she does fun and witty. With this book she has underlined the saying that pleasure and pain go hand in hand.
The book had a really raw, dark and intense feel, even more than THE DARKEST NIGHT, and it worked for me. There was no other way to tell Reyes and Danika's story. Their struggles don't leave much room for wit or bantering although I did have an occasional smile at some of Danika's internal dialogues when her jealousy would rear its ugly head.

For me this was a novel of conflicting feelings and interests, choices and dilemmas. Not only for Danika and Reyes but for Sabin and Paris, who also have their difficult dilemmas to deal with.

Showalter also knows how to capture the essence of the Lord and his demon in throughout the entire book. THE DARKEST NIGHT depicted Maddox's raging violence and THE DARKEST PLEASURE oozes with Reyes' agonizing pain. I was truly moved by the utter desperation for peace Reyes showed. He knows Danika is the woman for him from the start because she is the only one who can calm both him and his inner demon. I was also impressed by Danika's strength and determination.

The Lords, expanded by a few other interesting characters, mainly form the secondary cast. The war with the Hunters and the search for Pandora's box intensifies in this book which make the Lords more desperate. The camaraderie and bond is still there but there is a lot at stake and this is portrayed in the dialogues and the interaction between the Lords. Paris and Aeron monopolized my attention on every page they appeared and to say they were intriguing is a major understatement. Also, Sabin was another Lord who certainly held my attention. Their scenes really have me anticipating what's to come.


The first part of the book sets the stage for the fast paced, action-filled and mind-blowing climax in the second part of the book.
The plot is intricate and compelling and Gena Showalter did a great job in carefully and meticulously building up the world and the plot. She interlaced several subplots with the main plot, offering a promise of intriguing things to come. The build-up of the story is done perfectly, disclosing just enough to make me hunger for the next development.
Every time I thought I had the plot figured out, a surprising twist was thrown into the mix or a totally unexpected turn was taken. At the end of the book I can only guess where Gena Showalter will be taking me in the next installment of this series and I also know my guesses won’t come even close.

THE DARKEST PLEASURE turned out to be a terrific part in a series that's darker, more intense and more promising with each new installment.
This series is a definite keeper for me, combining mythology, romance and action in one compelling package!


Quote:
He was Reyes, a combination of man and demon, drawing and repelling her at the same time. He was right and wrong wrapped in the same sensual package, with a kiss and a flavor that transported her at once to the heights of heaven and the depths of hell.



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July 12, 2008
This book was released on June 24th and I reviewed it for REALMS ON OUR BOOKSHELVES


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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?


With Rohan du Luc as their fierce and ruthless captain the Blood Sword Knights form William the Conqueror's most feared death squad. They march into Rossmoor, Lady Isabel of Alethorpe's home, and claim it and its inhabitants.
Lady Isabel is not about to let this happen and resists with all her might. But a woman alone (her brother, father and betrothed went to battle) can only do so much. So she allows the Norman to take over her manor and village. Soon Rohan's claim is also laid upon the lady herself and she is tempted to give in to this enigmatic knight who surprises her every time she let's down her guard. But he is still the enemy...Can a Saxon lady give her trust and her heart to a Norman knight who is out for blood?

Rohan is every bit the knight, hardened by suffering and battle. He tells it like it is and is bold and direct. He is fiercely loyal to the people he trusts.
Isabel is the quintessential medieval maiden, the lady of the manor. Loyal and dutiful at any cost, willing to fight for her people and offer them protection and support. But she's also intelligent and fierce and compassionate. She knows how to pick her battles and when to cooperate in order to survive.

Rohan is tempted by Isabel's strength and innocence and Isabel is impressed by Rohan's commanding presence and slowly more feelings of respect and admiration develop between them. But Rohan does not welcome his feelings for Isabel to the point he starts to lash out at her every time they threaten to thaw his cold hart. Isabel takes it in stride and parries him verbally just as hard, despite her treacherous bodily response to him.

I was familiar with the concepts of brotherhoods of warriors in the paranormal genre but with the Blood Swords Karin Tabke has created an intriguing and promising band of mercenary knights who are there for each other at all times, womanizing, drinking, conquering and bantering. I loved the interactions and the camaraderie between the knights. Both their history and future are fascinating and I hope we will get to read all their stories.

The secondary cast is an enrichment to the story, some have crucial roles in the plot, others are more important regarding the development of the main characters, but they are all complementary in their own way.

From the first page of the prologue, I felt swept back in to time, taken to the past, medieval times where brave knights endure horrifying times in enemy prisons, staring death in the eye after endless torture. Where the Saxons and Normans are at each other’s throats, fighting over crowns and lands. But also where as in all times, past or present, love conquers all. Even between sworn enemies.

If you enjoy the kind of captivating, historically well founded and thoroughly researched medieval romances like Paula Quinn's or Monica McCarty's (as I do) then you can add Karin Tabke to your list! She writes with an authenticity that takes you away to past times. She combines it with a heartfelt and emotional romance and an action-packed and fast-paced plot. All depicted against the background of battle and war.

The basics in this historical romance are known and familiar: A Norman knight takes a Saxon manor and claims its lady to be his. She resists, he chases and she ultimately submits. This books starts as any medieval historical romance, but Tabke's eye for detail and her descriptive talent make it a full, rich and original story, with a mesmerizing and compelling quality to it. There are scenes that were rather bloody, violent and ruthless but they fit the authentic historical feel of the book.

This is a novel of bloodshed and passion, trust and loyalty, conflict and desire, friendship and sacrifice. It's a solid first book in a promising new historical series that has left me waiting for the next installment with a healthy dose of eager anticipation.



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Pearl
Netherlands
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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