November 29, 2009

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Author: Nina Bruhns
Title: If Looks Could Chill
Series: Passion for Danger, book 2
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release date: December 2009
Bought (via Van Stockum)

A kick-ass Yankee cop and her special-ops Cajun guide search the Louisiana swamp for a deadly virus, but succumb to a fever of a very different sort.

Mysterious deaths stalk the bayou. No-nonsense Louisiana State trooper Tara Reeves reluctantly enlists the aid of Marc Lafayette, a too-sexy-for-his-own-good Cajun heartbreaker, to guide her on her search for evidence so she can bring down those responsible. But the source of the deaths is more dangerous than Tara could ever imagine. A foreign terrorist cell, plotting an attack on U.S. soil, is testing a deadly biological weapon in the remote wilderness of the swamp.

But the terrorists aren’t the only ones with secrets…

What Tara doesn’t know is that her sexy guide is part of a covert special ops team sent to destroy the terrorist threat, and Marc is not happy about having to babysit a nosy cop—even one as temptingly beautiful as Tara. But as they search the Louisiana swamp for a deadly virus, they succumb to a fever of a very different sort. Both of them know that love and work don’t mix, a harrowing showdown with the enemy will make their steamy passion boil over…and change their lives forever.

Author: HelenKay Dimon
Title: Holding Out For a Hero
Series: Hawaii Heroes, book 4
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release date: October 2009
International swap with Fatin (Mad from RR@H Novel Thoughts & Booktalk)


Deana Armstrong needs a hero—not for herself, but for the nephew all her money and time can’t seem to get out of jail. Unfortunately, the best hero in all the Hawaiian Islands is set on turning in his badge and getting his excellent butt into another line of work. If that wasn’t enough, Josh Windsor also has a big-time grudge against Deana herself. But if there’s anything being rich, smart, and stubborn has taught Deana, it’s never to settle for second best…

Josh has had it with saving people. He’s had it with getting hauled into court. And boy, has he ever had it with Deana. Or well, he hasn’t had it. Yet. But the more she pops up sounding infuriating and looking good enough to eat, the more her hot bod and her cold case wriggle into his mind. And there’s only so much even a hero can resist…
November 24, 2009

Cover blurb:

Maximum danger.
Maximum desire.
And holding on for dear life…

The Special Ops hero feared nothing -until he met a woman too hot to hold…

Lt. Jake Hansen has survived some of the riskiest missions known to man. But now the wounded Navy SEAL faces his toughest job yet: Smuggling Dr. Isabelle Markham out of Africa without triggering an international incident. Not easy to do when the gorgeous hostage happens to be a senator’s daughter —and about as easy to resist as an oasis in the desert…

If it weren’t for Jake, Isabelle would still be halfway across the world, where rebel forces left her for dead. The Special Ops warrior may have saved her life, but she doesn’t need him to protect her now. Tell that to the ruggedly handsome hunk in full battle fatigues who’s just been assigned Isabelle’s personal bodyguard. Close quarters aside, Isabelle won’t let Jake anywhere near her heart — until danger throws them together again…and nothing in the jungles of wildest Africa could prepare them for a passion this wild. This crazy. This hot….

At the end of a mission in Djibouti, Jake, his brothers Nick and Chris and the other members of his Navy SEAL team are on their way to the extraction point when word reaches them a doctor working with Doctors Without Borders has been held hostage and left for dead. They are to rescue her and get her out of Djibouti. The hostage is none other than a US senator's daughter, Isabelle Markham. When they get to her, she is in very bad shape and the fear she won't survive is great. But they manage to rescue her and with sheer will power Isabelle survives and heals, at least superficially. Two months after the rescue Isabelle signs on as a civilian consultant with the Department of Defense and is placed at the Naval hospital where her rescuers are based. An encounter and renewed acquaintance with Jake is inevitable. Neither is the attraction between them but before they can explore it, it becomes clear that with her rescue Isabelle is not out of danger yet. What follows is a fast-paced, action-packed and heart wrenching and emotionally intricate story of strength, trust, passion and resilience.

I sometimes make fun of my book instincts, that I jokingly call "the gut-feeling" but at this moment I really want to praise it for urging me to immediately put HARD TO HOLD on my wish list when I discovered at the end of 2008 that Stephanie Tyler (half of the writer duo Sydney Croft) had a romantic suspense trilogy coming out this fall. Based on just the Navy SEAL premise and the excerpts hesitation wasn't even an afterthought and once again "the gut" absolutely didn't steer me wrong. Stephanie Tyler rocked my romantic suspense loving boat with an amazing first installment that seriously has me pining for more now.

Jake Hansen is not a man of many words; he is a quiet, rugged man who lives for his Navy SEAL career and his adoptive father and brothers. If there were one man who has had a tormented childhood and was bound to end up with a "good for nothing" checkmark, it would be Jake. With every new thing I learned about his past I grew to admire his outlook on life more and more. He crawled under my skin and I had a hard time letting him go once I finished this book. His crappy childhood didn't take away his sense of right and wrong, however it did affect whom he trusts and lets come close to him and his loved ones.

Isabelle Markham is one hell of a woman. She survives the ordeal of being taken hostage and having to endure horrible things, by sheer tenacity and resilience. Isabelle is a loner; she is not a people person and is satisfied with answering her calling as a physician in order to help the less fortunate. She sometimes acts before she thinks but she is never reckless. Like Jake, her past has left a lasting impression on her; trust is not something she gives easily.

There were so many things I loved about this book I don't even know where to start but let's give it a go.

Jake and Isabelle are one of my favorite couples of 2009, but what I liked most about how Stephanie Tyler portrayed Jake and Isabelle, is that she put them on an equal level even if Isabelle may seem more sophisticated and comes from a different environment as Jake and despite the fact that Isabelle is about 5 years older than Jake. These differences don't affect the balance of power between them. Coming from different angles they still are very much alike in their perceptions of love, trust and life and there are no situations where one has more power in the relationship than the other one. Of course that's what makes them a perfect match, even if they have some obstacles to overcome in order for them to accept each other and their love.

What I absolutely loved was the romantic angle in HARD TO HOLD. It’s built up nicely and gradually and so very intense because of the characters Jake and Isabelle are. Nothing is simple about them or their history/background so it goes without saying that their courtship progresses as complicated and intense as their individual lives have been. If there's one thing that's hard in romantic suspense it's balancing romance and suspense and giving the readers who seek that balance what they want. Romantic suspense needs to be both plot-driven and character-driven and I must say Stephanie Tyler did a great job on this.

Some may find the romance/sex scene ratio a bit askew but in my opinion it was perfect. Considering what happened with and to Isabelle I don't think it would have worked for me if she and Jake had jumped each other from the start and every other chapter. The way Stephanie Tyler handled this was believable, realistic and acceptable to me as a reader. Some books need sex to be excellent, others are excellent without an abundance of steamy scenes, and this is one of the latter. The love scenes are so very fitting and they appear at appropriate moments in the story with the right amount of hotness. Don't get me wrong: there weren't many but the ones that were there were really, really hot. My body still goes into tingly-mode just writing this review and thinking about them.

I also loved that this book is not only about Jake and Isabelle, their love story and their POVs. There are so much more characters and storylines that are part of this world Stephanie Tyler has created. A world I won't get enough of soon and I was happy to find out there are more to come after this trilogy. The multiple POVs give the book a sense of richness and completeness. Information and characters that seem unrelated and multiple small story lines seamlessly clinch together to form a story rich with action and pace, and a story that also works on the emotional department.

I wonder if there will be a continuation of the story between Isabelle's friend Sarah and her mercenary lover, Clutch. Their story line was just as poignant as the romance between Jake and Isabelle. Their secondary romance added depth and variation to the story and the ending of the book definitely left room for some heavy speculating on my part. I'm really worried about what's going to happen to Clutch and I believe Isabelle and Sarah have some issues they need to sort out together too.

There is quite some information on the ways of SEALs, Marines and mercenaries and I gobbled it all up. The military suspense was nicely written into the story and was never distracting or disturbing. Without becoming too technical (or maybe that's because I've read quite some romantic suspense so I am getting familiar with the lingo) Stephanie Tyler takes you into the world of military (rescue) missions, training and weapons. But she also threw some fun non-military stuff in the mix, like a psychic father with uncanny talents or going out and getting into a bar fight or the delivery of a baby in a supermarket isle.

The suspense plot was excellently written and resolved, original and atypical, at least to me. The only thing I missed in it was the POV of the bad guy of the book. As there were POVs of other characters I would have expected his too. Still this is a minor thing because I totally accepted the way the motivation for his actions was ultimately presented. The plot was set up very well with very few twists that I saw coming and mostly ones that totally blew me away because I didn't expect them.

I absolutely liked the brother vibe between Jake, Nick and Chris. Their history is unconventional as is the way they grew up and it's as much fun to read their brotherly banter as it is heart warming to find the love and loyalty they have for each other between the lines. They don't pull punches with each other and form a tight knit band of brothers, able to withstand anything thrown their way. The glimpses of Jake's brothers: Chris and especially Nick really sent the anticipation sky-high. I have this thing where I fall for one of the secondary characters who will have their own books later on in series and trilogies and especially for the ones who seem to be so much more than meets the eye at first glance. This time was no different. I fell for Nick from page 1 where he was mentioned and every time he came into the picture, all thoughts of Jake, not to mention Isabella or their predicaments, were forgotten as I got all dreamy reading about Nick and wondering what his story is. Needless to say I want his book bad. Very, truly and seriously bad. Now Chris shouldn't feel neglected because I also have love for Chris and want his book badly too, but between Nick, him and Jake? Nick wins…hands down.

A few quotes to illustrate the brothers:

Nick hadn't been with a woman since he'd gotten back on U.S. Soil from Afghanistan, (...), and right now Nick craved the kind of release only hot sex --or a good demolition-- could bring.

Chris just laughed. Tonight he wore a white T-shirt, which made the fact that his eyes were two different colors stand out even more. One was bright blue, the other an intense green, and they gave him an unbalanced, slightly crazed look. Once people got to know him, they realized that it wasn't just a look.

Jake made it through BUD/s* because there was no torture they'd put him through that he hadn't already survived. Nick made it through because he was completely desensitized to pain and was constantly searching, craving, for ways to feel.
Chris made it through because he had that little edge of crazy that made it necessary for men like him to succeed.

*BUD/s = Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training

Two itty bitty tiny things kept this book from getting the perfect 10 rating: The previously mentioned lack of bad guy POV and I think I found an inconsistency surrounding Isabella's and her mother's ages and the time she was conceived. I will have to ask the author about this to know what the deal is exactly and if relevant and possible without spoilers I will update this review with an explanation. However, this by no means kept me from utterly and thoroughly enjoying my first taste of Stephanie Tyler's writing. In a genre that is one of my favorites to read, she definitely has left her mark and put herself on my auto-buy and auto-read list.

*Update on the inconsistency: I contacted the author about this and originally the inconsistency was not there in the book but due to editing it sneaked into it. Due to spoilers I will leave it at this and offer no details on it but I am curious if other readers spot it too...

Every once in a while I read books that leave me speechless in a very good way. This is one of those books. As I love to read romantic suspense I have read several of them ranging from blood chilling horrifying to simple and nicely put together, from sizzling hot and steamy to containing a bare thread of romance, HARD TO HOLD however falls in its own category and is to be placed in the higher regions of my favorite lists. I hate to compare authors because I believe every author deserves praise based on their own merits but HARD TO HOLD reminded me of my first (and to-date only) Suzanne Brockmann book I've read, THE UNSUNG HERO.

From the first page I was lost in the world of Navy SEALs, Marine, bad guys, good guys and action, but that was not all. Between the rescue missions, bullets flying, battle wounds and political and personal agendas I was mesmerized by a love story so beautiful and powerful it had me in tears one moment, fanning myself the next and wanting to bud some heads together in another. In conclusion all I have to say is: Keep ‘em coming Ms. Tyler, I’m more than ready for the next brother!

Rating: 9.7 out of 10
November 22, 2009
I am trying to find the easiest way to combine life away from the computer, reading and blogging and you may have noticed I am regularly dropping and/or adding features to my blog. This might come across a bit chaotic but am trying to find what works for me and my blog.

My latest change is that I am putting "Tuesday Treasures" on the backburner for a while because it's very time consuming and I am going to try out the "In My Mailbox" meme (hosted  by Kristi of The Story Siren)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Author: Laura Griffin
Title: Untraceable
Series: Tracers, book 1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release date: December 2009
Received to review for ROOB

Be careful what you look for…you might find it.

Private investigator Alexandra Lovell uses computer skills and cunning to help clients drop off the radar and begin new lives in safety. Melanie Bess, desperate to escape her abusive husband, was one of those clients. But when Melanie vanishes for real, Alex fears the worst and sets out to discover what happened. Using every resource she can get her hands on—including an elite team of forensic scientists known as the Tracers, and a jaded, sexy detective who’s helped her before--Alex embarks on a mission to uncover the truth, one clue at a time.

Homicide cop Nathan Devereaux wants to believe that Alex’s hunch about Melanie’s murder is wrong, but his instincts—and their visceral attraction—won’t let him walk away. As a grim picture of what really happened begins to emerge, he realizes this investigation runs deeper than they ever imagined. And each step nearer the truth puts Alex in danger of being the next to disappear. . . .

Author: Lynn Raye Harris
Title: Spanish Magnate, Red-hot Revenge
Series: -
Genre: Category Romance (Harlequin Presents)
Release date: August 2009
Bought at The Bookdepository

His lover
Five years ago, hotel heiress Rebecca Layton naively loved a dynamic ex-bullfighter with all her heart. Until he betrayed her.

His enemy
Once, she nearly ruined him. And she forced him to make a choice that destroyed far more precious things than hotels. Billionaire businessman Alejandro Arroyo Rivera de Ramirez’s revenge will not be complete until he takes away everything Rebecca holds dear.

His revenge
Not content to steal her company and leave her with nothing, Alejandro orders Rebecca to Madrid and forces her to become his new mistress. He will make her care for him again—and then he will destroy her utterly.

Author: Jill Monroe
Title: SEALed and Delivered
Series: Mini-series: Uniformly Hot
Genre: Category Romance (Harlequin Blaze)
Release date: November 2009
Bought at The Bookdepository

Subject: Nathaniel Peterson, SEAL instructor
Current status: Unexpectedly engaged in a sizzling kiss
Mission: Train the SEALs without interruption
Obstacle: Hailey Sutherland - the best kind of distraction!

Kiss the first man you see. The Fate Delivery Cards were a silly impulse purchase. But thanks to one of the Cards, bed-and-breakfast owner Hailey Sutherland finds herself locked in a scorching kiss with super-hot, wet-suit-clad navy SEAL Nate Peterson. It seems that fate is opposed to Hailey's self-imposed celibacy..

Especially since Nate has picked up his own Fate Delivery Card - and he intends to follow it through.until Hailey is in his bed!

Uniformly Hot!
The Few. The Proud. The Sexy as Hell!

November 21, 2009
This challenge is hosted by BookChickCity

Timeline: 01 Jan - 31 Dec 2010
Rules: To read TWELVE (12) thrillers in 2010


• You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront then you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.

• You can join anytime between now and the later part of 2010.

Contrary to my earlier statements this year (both here, on twitter and IRL) that I didn't want to do reading challenges anymore because I feel the pressure of obligatory reading and reviewing next to all my other (reading) obligations, this was a challenge I couldn't resist and I have a few reasons for it:

First, I don't have to select any books ahead of time, so the sense of obligation is somewhat diminished. This, however, doesn't mean I don't have some books in mind for this challenge specifically and I know this is a challenge that I won't have trouble meeting "deadlines".

My second reason is linked to the first: I think reading twelve Thriller/Suspense/Mystery books will not be a great challenge as I had already planned to read more in that genre, next to the romantic suspense I already read plentily and I suspect the romantic suspense genre also falls under the regulations of this challenge, so this will be a challenge that won't be hard to meet at all.

For this challenge we are supposed to read 12 Thriller and Suspense Books. BCC, through J. Kaye has provided a list of sub-genres that work for this challenge. To view go HERE.

Find below the "work-in-progress"-list of my books for this challenge. Some have been and will be put in the list beforehand, others will be added along the way in the course of next year.

THE LIST: (in random order)

01. Lori Armstrong - Blood Ties - Click HERE for my review
02. Jordan Dane - No One Heard Her Scream
03. Barry Eisler - Rain Fall
04. Stieg Larsson - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
05. Ashley Gardner - The Hannover Square Affair
06. Karen Rose - Have You Seen Her?
07. Chelsea Cain - HeartSick
08. Robert Craig - Random (ARC supplied by publisher via BookChickCity)
09. Allison Brennan - Original Sin - Click HERE for my review
10. Shiloh Walker - Broken Click HERE for my review
November 16, 2009
Time to pimp another "Fave" of mine. I discovered Laura Griffin through ROOB as I had the pleasure and honor to review the two books of her previous series, The Glass Sisters: THREAD OF FEAR and WHISPER OF WARNING . I immediately fell in love with Griffin's writing which is not overly romantic or sensual but the suspense is exquisite and more than makes up for the lack of smut!

I am so happy that she has a new series coming out and the first book is around the corner. This new series, the Tracers series, starts of with UNTRACEABLE and that book features a hero who was a secondary character in both THREAD OF FEAR and WHISPER OF WARNING and a heroine who first appeard in WHISPER OF WARNING as a secondary character. They both made an impression on me and I was thrilled to find out they were going to be the first main couple of the new series.

My copy of UNTRACEABLE, which comes out next week, was pre-ordered months ago and I hope it's fall on my doormat soon. No need to tell you that I am diving into it the moment it does!

Be careful what you look for…you might find it.

Private investigator Alexandra Lovell uses computer skills and cunning to help clients drop off the radar and begin new lives in safety. Melanie Bess, desperate to escape her abusive husband, was one of those clients. But when Melanie vanishes for real, Alex fears the worst and sets out to discover what happened. Using every resource she can get her hands on—including an elite team of forensic scientists known as the Tracers, and a jaded, sexy detective who’s helped her before--Alex embarks on a mission to uncover the truth, one clue at a time.

Homicide cop Nathan Devereaux wants to believe that Alex’s hunch about Melanie’s murder is wrong, but his instincts—and their visceral attraction—won’t let him walk away. As a grim picture of what really happened begins to emerge, he realizes this investigation runs deeper than they ever imagined. And each step nearer the truth puts Alex in danger of being the next to disappear. . . .

Release date: November 24, 2009
Laura Griffin's Website
November 10, 2009
Most of the books listed below I received today, the packages from The Bookdepository just kept dropping and dropping on the doormat and when I was preparing this blogpost another one was delivered by the packages mailman. I have to mailmen, one delivers the mail that fits in the mailbox, the other one delivers packages that don't fit in the mailbox or packages I need to sign for.

Since I ordered my monthly order about a week and a half ago and there were some pre-orders in the works it's quite a list this week, so I can hear Mt. TBR sighing deeply under the weight of new books added to it. But I'll start with books that are going straight to the shelves without having to climb Mt. TBR as they have been read as ARCs:

Read ROYAL'S BRIDE for ROOB and won the ARC for SKIN GAME on Ann Aguirre's blog, read it and reviewed it on the Blog
Fantasy Romance

  • This is book 4 in the Tairen Soul series, of which I have only read the first book: LORD OF THE FADING LANDS.

Romantic Suspense

  • This is a new to me author, as far as I know these are stand alones and her third book: SLEEP NO MORE, is coming out in January 2010

  • I won HOT AS SIN in a contest over at Dear Author and it's book 2 in the Hot Shots: Men of Fire series of which I have yet to read book 1, WILD HEAT
  • THE WRONG SIDE OF DEAD is book two in the Sweet Justice series, I have yet to read a book by this author but have been collecting her trilogies from the moment the first one came out!
  • WAKING THE DEAD is the 3rd book the Mind Hunter series of which I have the other two on the TBR, waiting to be read.
  • SHOW NO FEAR is book number 7 in the Navy Seals series, a series I have also on the shelves but is still unread. Heard on Twitter that this series might be discontinued by the publisher. I still hope it won't come to that. 

Historical Romance

  • TO DESIRE A DEVIL is the final book of the Four Soldiers Series and this is finally a series I am up to date with and as soon as I'm done with my reading for ROOB I am tackling this book by one of my favorite authors. 
  • Another favorite historical romance author of mine is Jenna Petersen, WHAT THE DUKE DESIRES is the first book in a new series by her: The Billingham Bastards and I look forward to this new series!

  • MASTERED BY LOVE is the final installment of the Bastion Club, I have only read the prequel of this series so I have my work cut out for me to reach this final book of the series.
  • THE INFAMOUS ROGUE is the the first full length book of The Hawkins Brothers (there is also the ebook prequel: Mistress of Paradise), this is a spin-off series tied to the Too series and I will sound like a broken record now but still have to read that series too.
  • WITH SEDUCTION IN MIND is book 4 in the Girl-Bachelor series, another series I have but have to start reading

Paranormal Romance

You must have discovered a certain pattern by now with the books that arrived this week so I'll say upfront that these two paranormal romance books are also parts of series I haven't started reading yet, but they are occuping their spots on my shelves, patiently waiting their turn.

  • BIG BAD WOLF is an expanded and updated version of the novel previously titled, Fur Factor, I have only read a novella by Christine Warren which was part of the No Rest For the Witches anthology and was set in the Others series world. After that I bought the Others series, but I think I will reacquaint myself with Warren's writing with BIG BAD WOLF before I start the Others series. 
  • DESTINED FOR AN EARLY GRAVE is the 4th book of the Night Huntress series and you know the drill :)

What books have you received this week? And did they go straight to the reading pile or do you have to play catch up like I do? 

November 6, 2009

Though he is a titled nobleman, Royal Dewar is singularly unlucky ...forced to choose between his soul mate ...and his salvation.

After years abroad, Royal has returned to Bransford Castle to find his father dying and the family treasury nearly empty. Then the old duke wrests a final promise from his guilt-ridden son: that Royal will marry heiress Jocelyn Caulfield and restore the estate to its former glory. However, it is not his fiancée who quickens Royal's pulse, but rather her beautiful cousin Lily Moran.

Penniless Lily knows that nothing can come of their undeniable attraction―but there is a way she can help Royal. Enlisting some questionable characters from her past, Lily concocts an elaborate ruse to recover some of the Bransford fortune from a notorious confidence artist. As the dangerous scheme unfolds, Lily and Royal are thrown together in pursuit of the very thing―money―that keeps them part...

The back cover blurb of this book summarizes the book perfectly so there’s no need to write one just to repeat what the blurb says and I’ll get right down to business. ROYAL’S BRIDE is great historical romance in which I was easily and effortlessly introduced to the Duke of Bransford’s three sons: Royal, Reese and Rule Dewar, whom after their father’s death are compelled to fulfill their father’s dying wishes. This first book of the Bride’s trilogy focuses on the eldest son. He is to marry a wealthy heiress in order to have funds to restore the Bransford seat in its former glory. But things don’t always happen as we wish or plan and when Royal falls in love with his fiancée’s companion, restoring the family’s fortune seems to the least of his worries.

Although the plot of forced marriage and forbidden love lends room for characters who can be annoying, whining etc…Kat Martin avoids that trap and delivers a main couple that is extremely likable despite the initial illegality of their feelings. Royal Deware is passionate, loyal and dutiful. Even when he knows his heart belongs to Lily he cannot put his father’s dying wish aside carelessly. There was a point in the book where I thought he could have restrained himself better physically but on the other hand it would have surprised me if he had, since the whole forbidden love trope would’ve lost its strength and its purpose. Lily is sweet and caring but also toughened by the life she’s led. She doesn’t let anyone walk over her and is not one to impulsively give into her feelings, not even the strong ones she has for Royal. She is genuinely kindhearted and realistic. She’d rather not have Royal in her life than be with him and betray her family, even if that family doesn’t always treat her right.

There are quite a few secondary characters in this book, but it never felt overcrowded or too much because they all had their roles in the plot and/or romance. One secondary character that pleasantly surprised me in terms of character development was Jocelyn, Royal’s fiancée. Throughout the book she grew from a spoiled, shallow and materialistic girl that I really didn’t care for to a woman who earned my sympathy because she too had been pressured into a situation she didn’t ask for and in the end she did turn out to be sensible and mature. And then there were The Oarsmen, a group of intriguing friends surrounding Royal. They are a diverse group of men, all noblemen, some higher ranked than others, but it’s a tight night group who prove loyal friends to both Royal and Lily.

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing 4 books by Kat Martin for ROOB now and I must say that ROYAL’S BRIDE is my favorite of the 4. Even though the premise arranged marriage and forbidden love isn’t new or original Kat Martin wrote a story around it that was definitely refreshing. I loved the way she set up this book. The romance, the forbidden attraction, the plot, the characters, they all complemented each other and together formed an excellent, high quality historical romance. One that is intriguing and complicated and compelled me to keep turning the pages to know not if but how Lily and Royal were going to end up together, because that the were going to end up together was clear from the beginning. I was curious how Kat Martin was going have them deal with the Jocelyn (Royal’s fiancée) situation, the financial problem and still give the reader a satisfactory solution and a HEA. My worries were unfounded because Kat Martin pulled it of perfectly.

With ROYAL’S BRIDE Kate Martin delivered a historical romance I could savor and enjoy with wonderful characters, a refreshing take on an age-old trope in romance novels and a carefully dosed amount of conflict and angst, that was never over the top. She even managed to imbed a suspense plot that did not intrude on the romance at all. In fact, romance and suspense complemented each other perfectly.

Finally, in this book intriguing hints are given in regard to Royal’s brothers Reese and Rule and those hints are enough to make me curious about their stories and whether they’ll be as enjoyable reads as ROYAL’S BRIDE was.

Rating: 8.3 out of 10
(ROOB Rating: 4 stars)
November 4, 2009

Highland Warriors sworn to protect innocence through the ages...

Ian Maclean’s arrogance hides a terrible secret—for decades he was held prisoner by demons. Not a day goes by that he isn’t tormented by his darkest fears of powerlessness. Now he is about to sell to the highest bidder a page he’s stolen from the Book of Power—if one woman doesn’t stop him.

Every Rose woman has her destiny

Slayer Samantha Rose’s latest mission is to recover the stolen page—and get payback from the only man who’s ever rejected her. What she hasn’t counted on is the raging attraction between them—or her growing realization of what Maclean has survived. As the powers of the evil from his past gather, Sam will do anything to help him—even if it means following him into time and facing his worst nightmares with him...

Ian Maclean is arrogant, wealthy, powerful, selfish and antisocial. These are traits that wouldn’t make a very likeable hero but still he is because his behavior and look on life and the world was profoundly altered after he was killed, revived and held captive for 66 years by his demon grandfather and tortured by said grandfather and his demon friends with their perverted games.

Ever since a demon killed her mother and she wasn’t able to safe her, Sam Rose has taken it upon her to hunt and destroy evil. She is the Slayer of the Rose women. When her job for the Historical Crime Unit (HCU), puts her in the path of Ian Maclean, she has to work together with a man she despises and desires at the same time. While they are both trying to use the other for their own purposes, they are forced to face their fears, enemies and feelings.

Ian fears pain and evil and therefore has wrapped himself in a cocoon of aloofness where he thinks no one can reach him. He needs sex to avoid giving into the horrible flashbacks of his tormented and he uses his wealth to prove to himself he is capable of doing anything he wants and doesn’t have to rely on anyone else for his needs. He may seem the sexy, arrogant, careless playboy but underneath that image he’s build for himself, he is a traumatized man who went through horrors during this abduction and is a long way from recovering from them.

Sam seems to be a free spirit, one who lives life her way, liberated, strong, confident, she doesn’t take crap from anyone, especially men. She is vengeful, smart-mouthed and fearless. Beneath her tough outer shell is a woman who tries to protect herself from hurt by pretending not to care about anything or anyone except fighting evil. She doesn’t allow herself to care because caring means pain when she loses them. She has learned to depend only on herself and her own strength.

Sam and Ian are like to peas from the same pod. They both like to be in control, both like to win, losing is not an option and they always get what they want. This makes them clash like crazy, creating a verbal sparring extravaganza even if they are perfect for each other and they are kindred spirits. From the moment they meet, sparks fly and their interactions and dialogues are sizzling. These two take verbal sparring to a whole other level. I loved the way their romance fitted their characters perfectly. It went from pure sexual attraction to partners fighting evil to love. And both went kicking and screaming all the way. They both crave what the other provides but are not willing to admit it, let alone give into it.

Even though there were many secondary characters, the story focuses mainly on Sam, Ian and their enemies. Nick Forrester, who runs the HCU and is Sam’s boss, is the only character who is deepened out a bit more than the others and I really hope he will get his own book, or at least a substantial secondary storyline in the future. There is just so much surrounding him that intrigues me and arouses my speculative mind.

Am glad I stuck with this series throughout some books that I did not enjoy reading so much (books 2 and 3) because if I had given up on it after the terrible second book I wouldn’t have experienced this amazing and almost perfect installment. This fifth book in the series and final installment of the Rose Trilogy within the series was definitely the best so far. There was no confusing time leaping or messed up chronology. It was the first book in the series that I found easy to follow. The characters were great and the plotline was very good, though I am a bit done now with the resurfacing of Moray (the villain of the series). He’s like the soap opera character that just won’t stay dead. Yet again in this book the solution to the problem of Moray leaves possibilities for resurrection so I won’t be surprised if he shows up again in future installments.

Dark Lover is an action-packed romance novel that is all about freedom, taking control back, despair and passion. It represents the potential of the series and shows Brenda Joyce’s writing talent with strong, willful characters and a well written plot, without distracting and confusing time leaping mechanisms, even if the role of the Masters of Time is less present than in the first 2 books of the series.
Contrary to my normal “stick to the series order” advice I tend to give, in this case, I would recommend the first installment of the series and then this one to readers who’d like to sample this series.

And if you don’t read this book for the romance or plot, you should read it just to discover what intriguing body part adornment Ian has and where it is…and I am not talking tattoos here.

Rating: 8.9 out of 10

My reviews of the other books in this series:
November 3, 2009
The old Tuesday Treasures format I initially made, doesn't go well with new lay-out and colors of my blog and as I am pressed for time at the moment because of offline life circumstances I don't have the time right now to make a new, fitting one, so I'm doing a somewhat slimmed down version of Tuesday Treasures and just pimping the books I received over the past week. Received a lot more since I did the last TT but no need to bother you with an endless list. *wink*

Contemporary Romance

Romantic Suspense

Historical Romance

Paranormal Romance


November 2, 2009

Mikhail Faustin is the prince of New York. His authority is absolute, his power unquestioned--and his heart is empty. The pain he carries inside leaves him with nothing to offer a mate. When he discovers that Alya Adad is not only his destined bride but also the source of his misery, his fate is sealed. He must claim the woman he despises most. Or die trying.

Alya Adad is the most powerful of her kind born in generations and a prince in her own right. She's accountable to no man, certainly not to her first lover, Mikhail. Now he has the gall to not only invade her territory, but threaten to take her by force--for a prophecy she doesn't believe in? She'll kill him first.

Their battle for the upper hand is no-holds-barred...until she discovers the one thing his pride didn't want her to know. That she still holds the key to his heart--and his innermost desires. And when a rival vampire clan strikes, letting her guard down is the only way to save him.

After I read the stories on Gregor (BOUND BY BLOOD) and Alexander (CALLED BY BLOOD) Faustin, the wait for Mikhail’s seemed to last forever, even though it was just 4 or 5 months, but from the moment I started reading I was drawn back into the fascinating vampire world Evie Byrne has created for the Faustin Brothers.

Mikhail Faustin is the harshest and most analytical Faustin brother. He isn’t known on the streets as “Iceman”, “Frost” or “Ice” for nothing. He is ruthless, cold, practical and powerful. He respects tradition and doesn’t do sentimental or witty. He is a man of rules and abides by them; compassion is reserved for only his parents and brothers and their wives. I met Mikhail in his brothers’ books and I knew he his story would have to be very different in order to do him justice. All Faustin brothers have distinct personalities and lives and a sweet and moving romance like Alex’ or a witty and fiery one Gregor just wouldn’t do for Mikhail. A meek human bride wouldn’t do either. He needed a woman who would not falter under his ruthlessness and his harsh ways, but one who could give as good as she gets and not be intimidated by him.

In Alya Adad, Mikhail’s former lover and a vampire too, Byrne created the perfect match. She is ruthless, powerful, cruel and power hungry. She has no scruples and is as tough and sarcastic as they come. She is the ruler of the West Coast vampires who are in the midst of a territorial war with the East Coast vampires, ruled by Mikhail. Alya has gotten to the top using all means available and necessary. She has no qualms when it comes to gaining power.

Evie Byrne managed to give all three Faustin brothers their own unique book, bride and vibe. DAMNED BY BLOOD was brutally intense. Neither Mikhail nor Alya budges an inch. They are both fierce warriors and their passion shines through in both their fighting and their loving and this book is a perfect example of the saying: “thin line between love and hate.” While at first I was wondering how their HEA was ever to be achieved with so much complications and resistance between them, I think Ms. Byrne solved this perfectly and absolutely fitting of both the storyline and the characters.

Even though BOUND BY BLOOD (Gregor) is still my favorite of the three, DAMNED BY BLOOD has definitely made a big impression on me too. I was enthralled and fascinated by this book’s intensity and raw, violent feel. It really isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re expecting a sweet and witty vampire romance, skip this book. It’s intense and violent. Mikhail and Alya fight and hurt each other, both emotionally and physically and it takes a prominent position in the story. It almost seems to dominate and takes over the romance, but it was the only way to deliver Mikhail’s story and do it justice. A fluffy romantic story just wouldn’t do here and I was happy to see this.
Evie Byrne pulled it off and in my opinion, she strengthened the romance by staying true to the way she portrayed Mikhail in the other two books.

The vampire world Evie Byrne has created with the Faustin Brothers Trilogy is captivating and refreshingly unique. It’s a paranormal world I haven’t encountered before and I’ve read my share of paranormal/vampire romance. The pull of Evie Byrne’s writing is powerful and comprises dark humor, strong and consistent characterization and a heavy emotional impact. You cannot read these books and remain untouched by world, the characters and the writing. I am sad to have come to the end of this fascinating world and secretly hope Ms. Byrne has more in store for us within this alluring world of unique vampires.

“You think this is my idea?”
“You’re in my house, asshole. Holding the gun you shot me with.”
There was that. Mikhail emptied the semi-automatic in front of her, releasing the magazine and tossing it onto the sofa and carefully ejecting the loaded round.
If he were Alex, he’d say something charming and give her a lopsided grin. Gregor would…well, he didn’t understand what women saw in Gregor, actually. But whatever it was, he didn’t have it. Mikhail knew he was cold and dry and unappealing to women, and he didn’t have any experience at courtship. All he could be was practical.


He pushed back her hair, searching her face. He lowered his head and sniffed her, skimming his nose over her forehead and nuzzling her hair. She couldn’t help but sniff too. The skin on the underside of his jaw smelled good beyond belief.
“You’ve changed.” Mikhail’s eyes shut in ecstasy as his nostrils flared again. “Your blood. Your scent. My God.”
Yes. His scent had changed, too. It had become an airborne drug. She clenched her jaw to stop her teeth from chattering. She wanted to rub her face against his skin. She wanted to cut him open and climb inside.
Mikhail pressed her to the sheets. His mouth slanted over hers. Primal masculine satisfaction radiated from him, body and brain. It flooded her mind. It flavored his kiss. It said, Mine.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

My reviews of the other books in this trilogy:

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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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