July 31, 2009


Jacket Copy:

WELCOME TO A WORLD WHERE NOTHING IS WHAT IT SEEMS AND EVERY TOUCH IS ECSTASY
When Alexandria’s car goes off the road in a terrible blizzard, she has no idea night will bring a powerful rescuer and the start of an ecstatic sexual awakening. The moment Xandi wakes in Stefan’s muscular arms, feels the heat of his body pressing against hers, she feels no fear. Instead, she allows herself to be taken by one who is more than a man, whose primal nature is never far from him. As their connection grows, and as Xandi gradually loses her sensual inhibitions, experiencing pleasures she never dreamed possible, she is drawn deeper into Stefan’s mysterious world, meeting the alluring beauty, Keisha, as well as the dominant and sometimes ruthlessly commanding Anton, who can have any man or woman he wants…in any way he wishes…


WOLF TALES comprises 5 parts. The first 4 parts focus on the introduction of the main characters: Xandi Olanet, Stefan Aragat, Anton Cheval and Keisha Rialto. Part 5 is called THE GIFT and, as I suspect, is the closing part of this introduction of a group of characters that will play important roles in future books of the series.

The Chanku are a poly-amorous, female oriented (it’s the alpha female who leads the pack), ancient race of Wolf shifters. They were thought to be almost extinct with the few Chanku left scattered all over. Powerful wizard and Chanku Master Anton, who learns of his heritage by accident, is locating the ones left in order to bring them back together and rebuild the once powerful race. In this first installment of the series we get acquainted with Stefan, Xandi and Keisha. They are the first members Anton discovers and brings into the Pack.

I am starting this review by expressing my utter disappointment in this first book of the series of which I had high expectations and now have been forced to dial that down a bit. This book did not bring me the things I look for in the books I read, not emotionally, not in the plot and not even in the eroticism. I think what bothered me most was the way things were set up in this book. First impressions are important and the first look I got was hot, heavy and very explicit sex with an absolute stranger, without exchanging a single word within the first 10 pages of the book. This set up bothered me and made a rocky start to say the least.

Throughout the entire book I had the feeling something was missing and I am very frustrated because I can’t exactly put into words what it was. But I will give it a try. As I have mentioned often in other reviews I like my erotic romances to be more than just a string of erotic scenes held together by a meager or non-existent plot and I was very afraid it was going to be just that with WOLF TALES after the first few chapters. But about 20-30 pages into it started to get better and a story began to unfold in between the sex scenes. And just when I thought all wasn’t lost after all there was the scene that was the absolute deal breaker for me. Stefan being forced into sexual submission, practically raped by Anton was what went beyond my comfort zone and I can honestly say I can take a lot when it comes to erotica but rape is not one of those things.

The fact that I kept on reading and finished this book after that scene was solely because I hate not finishing books and because this was a book I chose for my reading challenge. If this hadn’t been the case this would have been a DNF for sure because at page 10 I was ready to give up and at page 60 I was completely done with it. This was not a book for me.
I kept putting the book aside, only able to read small portions at a time. This rarely happens to me when I read. I missed characterization, background, connection and emotional development. It was all over snowed under by eroticism to an extent that is not what I look for in erotica. But I kept on reading and despite my misgivings it got a bit better after Anton’s explanation of the Chanku culture and Stefan and Xandi’s roles in it. At least this offered me some background and motivations for some to the events that were taking place. Preferably I would have liked this explanation earlier and a bit more elaborate though.

For the first time ever I actually skimmed through some of the sex scenes. I did not skip them but did not read them as intensely as I normally do either. Why? They just didn’t do it for me and there were just too many of them. As I have stated before in reviews I prefer quality over quantity when it comes to sex scenes and these felt too forced and too detached to me. This is not the type of erotic romance that I crave. It was too sexually aggressive and I couldn’t emotionally connect with the characters. Sincerity obliges me to admit that I missed intensity that is able to captivate me.

Another thing that bothered me was the easy acceptance by the characters of the events, the mental connections and sexual acts. I understand that it might work that way in a pack of wolves with the alpha male/alpha female stuff but a little reluctance or hesitation or doubt would have made it a better and more acceptable book for me. I was definitely not in sync with the kindred-spirit stuff because I just didn’t “feel” it all. It was all mentioned but it didn’t resonate with me. From the first this book and I started off on the wrong foot and with the lack of background and foundation for the characters and events in the beginning it just never got back on track completely.

I enjoy ménages, I enjoy M/F/M stories and even F/F doesn’t really bother me but still the poly-amorous ways of the Chanku kept bothering me. Why? Maybe because of the disconnection and detachment I felt from the beginning. Things happen and are accepted so fast that for me they lost their credibility. Everything was too easily accepted and kept too much on the surface making it unable for me to feel emotionally connected to the characters or the writing.

The things that bothered me kept getting in the way of letting me enjoy the rest of the story, which definitely had potential. The world of the Chanku is fascinating and I think with a bit more emotion and character development it can be a background for great stories. I will definitely give the following installments a try since I have heard that it gets better along the series and I have read a novella (in an anthology) of the series which I really liked, so I am not giving up on Kate Douglas’s WOLF TALES series and will consider this a small bump in the road to more satisfying reads.


Quotes:
She should have been terrified. Should have felt some sense of fear, well aware she was essentially acting as an agent in her own abduction. Instead she was pure anticipation and untempered lust. Her body ached with the need for him.

“Open your eyes, Stefan. Look at me the way you want me to see you. Please? Open your eyes.”
Slowly his breathing eased, and he settled himself between her legs, then he looked at her. There was a wild gleam in his amber eyes, a look that told her he was close, so close, to the edge of whatever kept him human, whatever remnant of his soul controlled the beast.




July 28, 2009


THIS WEEK'S BOOK-LOOT:


Watch Over Me - Lucy Monroe (The Goddard Project, book 4)
Fair Game - Jasmine Haynes (Fortune Hunter Series, book 3)
Hard and Fast - Erin McCarthy (Fast Track Series, book 2)
Endangered - Kathleen Dante (En Series, book 3)
Taming the Fire - Sydney Croft (ACRO Series, book 4)
Blood Deep - Sharon Page (Blood Series, book 3)


TODAY'S RELEASES THAT ARE ON MY ORDER LIST:

Especially looking forward to:

Tessa Dare - Godess of the Hunt

Tara Janzen - Breaking Loose (Steele Street-Loose, book 4)
Andrea Kane - Twisted (Mass Market PB)
Shannon McKenna - Tasting Fear
Allison Brennan - Cutting Edge (F.B.I. Trilogy, book 3)
Elisabeth Naughton - Stolen Heat (Stolen, book 2)

Stephanie Laurens - Mastered by Love (Bastion Club, book 8)
Meredith Duran - Written on Your Skin
Alexandra Benedict -The Infamous Rogue (Hawkins Brothers, book 1)


Jeaniene Frost - Destined for An Early Grave (Night Huntress, book 4)
Brenda Joyce - Dark Lover (Masters of Time book 5, Rose Trilogy, book 3)
Alexis Morgan - Dark Warrior Unbroken (Talion Series, book 2)

July 23, 2009



YES! I've done it! I am participating in Galley Smith's Harry Potter's Reading Challenge. When she mentioned it on Twitter I knew this was my chance for an incentive to read all the Harry Potter books in English. I have read the books you know, but in Dutch.

I think it was one of my sisters in-law who pointed me to the Harry Potter books somewhere in 2002. She knew I love reading and during one of the many conversations on a family birthday she told me she was reading her oldest son HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE as a bedtime story.
I was fascinated but soon the conversation took a different turn, we changed topics and I forgot about it. Until, while at work, speaking to a colleague again about books and I remembered my SIL's recommendation. I told my colleague about it and she urged me to read the book. She had already read all available HP books at that time and said I was missing out on a great series. I went out and bought every HP book available in Dutch (up to and including HP and the Goblet of Fire were out then) and devoured them, after that every new release was bought and read immediately and thoroughly enjoyed. I loved the world of magic, evil and teenage shenanigans.

Then in 2006 I started reading in English and soon I bought the Harry Potter books in English too, but with so many other books discovered I shelved them figuring that since I'd read them in Dutch they weren't high on the reading list. Years went by and movies came out which I went to or bought the DVD of and it wasn't until the mention of this challenge that I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity to finally read HP in the language it was written in!


THE CHALLENGE!

The challenge will run from August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2010.

This will give me plenty of time to read and review both the books! I am also going to try and watch the movies right after reading the book and maybe make a comparison in the reviews. Below is my tentative HP reading challenge schedule

AUGUST 2009 - NOVEMBER 2009:
Sorcerer’s Stone
Chamber of Secrets
Prisoner of Azkaban




DECEMBER 2009 - JULY 2010:
Goblet of Fire
Order of the Phoenix
Half-Blood Prince
Deathly Hallows


I want to thank Galley Smith for this WONDERFUL idea and am very happy to be a participant in it!

July 21, 2009
To unearth a centuries-old secret, an archaeologist must team up with the rakish thief who's stolen both an ancient relic and her heart...



Back Cover:
Oh, is he handsome. And charming. And sexy as all get out. Dr. Lisa Maxwell isn’t the type to go home with a guy she barely knows. But, hey, this is Italy and the red-blooded Rafe Sullivan seems much more enticing than cataloging a bunch of dusty artifacts.

After being fully seduced, Lisa wakes to an empty bed and, worse yet, an empty safe. She’s staked her career as an archaeologist on collecting the three Furies, a priceless set of ancient Greek reliefs. Now the one she had is gone. But Lisa won’t just get mad. She’ll get even.

She tracks Rafe to Florida, and finds the sparks between them blaze hotter than the Miami sun. He may still have her relic, but he’ll never find all three without her. And they’re not the only ones on the hunt. To beat the other treasure seekers, they’ll have to partner up—because suddenly Lisa and Rafe are in a race just to stay alive.


A few weeks ago I was the lucky wench to win a copy of Elisabeth Naughton's STOLEN FURY on a giveaway at the Nobody Writes It Better Blog. It came in last week, signed and sealed so to speak!
Needless to say I was a happy camper, but there was on dilemma: I had bought a copy of STOLEN FURY when it came out (book horder that I am!!).

Since I have started dabbling in the world of holding blog contests instead of only participating in them every now and then, I thought I would make someone else as happy with my own bought copy. Due to enormous TBR pile it is still unread and brand new!
And for the fun of it I'm throwing in some STOLEN HEAT, book 2 in the series which releases July 28th, goodies (bookplate, magnet and bookmark) in the mix too.

"What must I do to enter?" I hear you asking...

To enter just comment on this blogpost or tweet/RT it on Twitter using the hashtag #contestpearl

Contest closes Friday, 31 July 2009 at midnight CET and the winner will be randomly drawn from all entries on Sunday 2 August 2009 at the latest.

Have fun!

And the winner of thePuppies-Contes is.....drumroll please......

Dottie!!! who came up with the names DUCHESS & DEVIL


Please email me at mbarten72 (at) upcmail (dot) nl or DM me on Twitter (@Pearl_ROOB) with your addy and which of the three books you would like to receive.

Because I appreciate amount of entries I decided to draw another winner from all the entries and RTs on Twitter:

And that winner is.....another drumroll please.....

@Susi_Sunshine

Please email me at mbarten72 (at) upcmail (dot) nl or DM me on Twitter (@Pearl_ROOB) with your addy and which of the three books you would like to receive. I would like to ask you to send me your first AND second choice of books since Dottie has first choice because her names were chosen.

Hope you all had fun with the contest and stay tuned for another contest coming really soon. A copy of Elisabeth Naughton's STOLEN FURY will be up for grabs. Keep an eye on the blog for it!
July 13, 2009
Jacket Copy:

UNEXPECTED DESIRE…
It’s been ten years since clean-cut, sexy-as-hell police officer Todd Keenan had a white-hot fling with Erin Brown, the provocative, wild rocker chick next door. Their power exchange in the bedroom got under his skin. But love wasn’t in the cards just yet…

Now, life has thrown the pair back together. But picking up where they left off is tough, in light of a painful event from Erin’s past. As Todd struggles to earn her trust, their relationship takes an unexpected and exciting turn when Todd’s best friend, Ben, ends up in their bed—and all three are quite satisfied in this relationship without a name. As the passion they share transforms Erin, will it be enough to help her face the evil she thought she had left behind?


Release date for LAID BARE: August 4, 2009

LAID BARE is a wonderful story that depicts an emotional and erotic journey to happily ever after and it totally took me by surprise. Sometimes you stumble upon treasures where you least expect them. I must admit that I wouldn't have jumped up to review this book if it wasn't for a glowing endorsement from Ann Aguirre on Twitter when Lauren Dane was offering the eARCs of it. I had heard of Lauren Dane's writing via fellow ROOB-reviewer Leontine whose raving reviews put Lauren Dane on my to-watch list but I hadn’t had the compelling urge to reading her work yet. There were other books whose pull on me was much harder. Now I stand corrected though, because after reading LAID BARE I know I will be reading more of Lauren Dane's work soon and I am glad I have some of her books in my possession already.

Back to LAID BARE and my review of it. It is the story of Todd Keenan and Erin Brown. They meet when rock chick Erin becomes Todd's neighbor and clean-cut cop Todd is inexplicably drawn to Erin even though she is not his type. He watches her from afar and doesn't approach her because he doesn't want to give into the feelings of sexual dominance that pummel him every time he sets eyes on her. For Erin the situation is similar, she is intrigued by and attracted to Todd but he is so not her type. After some encouragement and baiting by her brother, Erin decides to take a chance and makes the first move. They hit it of big time and it's all hot and heavy until Todd breaks up with Erin after a few months for fear of the intensity of their relationship and the man he becomes when he's with Erin, a man who answers easily to his dark sexual urges when he was raised not to do so.

Ten years later their paths cross again when Todd moves back to Seattle after moving to Boston for a fresh start and a new career. He has gone through a marriage and divorce, has been in a coma after getting shot on the job and after his rehab decides to go back to his hometown to start a security consultancy company with his longtime friends Ben and Andy “Cope” Copeland.

Erin's life hasn't stood still in those ten years either. Her career as a rock musician took a flight and with that came fame and a very traumatic experience, one that almost destroyed her completely: she lost her only child in crossfire with an obsessed, murdering lunatic stalker. After that terrible experience she disappears from the limelight and is happy running her café, writing songs and doing studio work for her brother’s band.

The actual story starts when Todd coincidentally wanders into Erin's café. Erin has never been far from his mind during his failed marriage and he has learned to accept the man he really is, the man he was with Erin. Todd becomes determined to make up for his mistake of breaking up with her but he is not aware that her loss has changed the way she used to go through life. While Todd embraces his feelings for Erin and wants to act on them without reserve, the trauma Erin went through has caused her to be reluctant in giving her affections. The road to their HEA is a complicated and difficult one, but it's also one that pulls at the heartstrings and provides a lot of scorching moments.

There is so much more to this story than I could summarize without giving away too much. Some of that "more" is the fact that even though Erin and Todd's relationship starts with just the two of them, it eventually evolves into a three-way relationship with Todd's best friend Ben Copeland. This part of the story is wonderfully done by Lauren Dane and very believable. It is set up gradually and effortlessly imbedded in the story, easing the reader into it alongside the characters and making it easy to accept the M/M part of it. For a reader like me, with no fascination for M/M erotica and little to no experience with M/M sex scenes, the ones in LAID BARE were perfect. While I don’t care much for M/M erotica the concept of M/F/M erotica does fascinate me and I must say Lauren Dane’s M/F/M action in LAID BARE ranks pretty high on my scale.

Next to the sizzling erotic scenes Lauren Dane wrote some very likable characters in this book. Erin has a free spirit that even a traumatic loss could not destroy. Though she went through a rough time after the loss of her child, she didn't lose her straightforward, candid and direct character. She is very comfortable with her sexuality, doesn't hide her desires and is willing to go for the unconventional.

Todd's true character doesn't come out until the reunion part of the book. In the first chapter he is the perfect gentleman, nice and controlled, keeping his emotions on a tight leash. Before his return to Seattle he has learned that life is to short and precious to hide his true character and out comes the man he always was: sexually confident and a bit bossy, giving into the desires that were always inside him.

Ben is the glue that keeps both Erin and Todd in check. He is as bossy, protective and dominant as Todd is but in a way that is more smooth and easy going. His character developed the most during the story. Going from Todd's best friend to being Todd and Erin's lover was a logical step but one he has to come to terms with, with both himself and his family.

It's not only Ben who has to find his way and place the relationship, so do Todd and Erin. They accept it but there are moments in the story where they seriously think about the consequences of their choices. I loved Lauren Dane's believable portrayal of this in the book. I was so glad she kept it realistic and genuine, making the three-way relationship something that they did not carelessly commit to and something hard to accept for some family members instead of everybody magically and easily accepting it.

If I ever read a book where the balance between the characters, both between hero, heroine and the characters supporting them, was perfectly done then LAID BARE was it. The secondary cast comprises mostly family members of Erin, Todd and Ben and a few people from their past and present environment. Their interactions have a hint of witty banter in them, even when the dialogues take on a heavy emotional tone. Even in painful and emotionally distressing dialogues there is that hint of banter no matter if it is dialogue between Todd, Ben and Erin or one of them with a secondary character. I really liked this and it made the book richer in depth and made it an erotic romance that is so much more than a string of erotic scenes interspersed by a plot.

Even though Todd and Ben took center stage as leading male characters, their brothers also most certainly caught my attention. From Lauren Dane’s website I understand that Erin's older brother Brody has his own story due in January 2010 but I would also love to see a story on Erin’s younger brother Adrian and I hope Ben’s younger brother Cope will get his own story too.

It's difficult to capture in words what this book did to me as a reader. I think it should be read to be experienced. I started out admiring how good Lauren Dane was in describing the attraction and sexual tension between Erin and Todd and before long I was completely swept away by the way she combined emotionally complex feelings and situations with erotic scenes that melted the pages. What kept coming to mind while reading was that this was an exceptionally hot and emotionally intense read. On one page I would be moved to tears by situations and dialogues that just broke my heart and on the next I would be fanning myself at the sizzling eroticism. And all in a pace that kept me glued to the pages. Lauren Dane took me from one emotional and erotic high to another, with deliciously witty dialogues and banter in between the highs.

The richness and layering of the story came not only from the secondary characters and the dialogues. The things that also did it for me were the characterization, the eroticism and the perfect combination of the two. I really got to know Erin, Todd and Ben, knew their fears and desires, their insecurities and their likes and dislikes. Next to that I was treated to some original erotic scenes that were tastefully and lascivious at the same time. It takes a talented author to capture that exquisite balance and make it work without tipping the scale to either side. This all made LAID BARE a full circle story that excelled in eroticism and character development.

For me LAID BARE was a unique blend of deep emotions, raw sexuality and storytelling capable of keeping me reading until the last page was read and making me crave more now that I've reached the end. It was sweet, funny, sad and intensely erotic, all packaged in a book worth savoring.


Quotes:
The intricate tattoo on her belly connected to the one covering most of her back. The tree of life. On her belly lay roses and ivy. They embodied her. Sharp, barbed and yet beautiful and essential. Sweet and intoxicating.

He looked at her. Into her. She felt bare to her bones. His scent rose from his skin, heady and warm. He smelled different than she remembered. This was . . . She leaned in just a bit, giving in to her needs . . . deep and dark. A man who worked with his body; clean sweat, sex, alluring, something she wanted to lick.

“You’re thinking, Erin. It’s like a movie, watching your face. Don’t run from me. I’ll come for you. I want you and you want me. Let yourself have it.” His whispered breath was hot on her ear and it sent a shiver down her side. She nearly dropped her beer from fingers gone nerveless. How did he get her so well?



July 12, 2009


On our short break to Belgium (2 day trip to Mechelen and Leuven) hubby couldn't resist the machines at the fair in Mechelen. He announced quite arrogantly that he was going to win me something. I thought it was all talk to justify the lure of the machines but my surprise was great when within he few minutes he indeed won me something...and a few minutes later another something, so behold the new additions to the B-household. One is a boy and one is a girl (duh! blue and pink accented hooded jackets...LOL). Aren't they cute?



Now for the contest part: I call them the twins for lack of creativity to name them and need some help in that department. So twitter me or leave me a comment with name suggestions for the twins. The prize is one of the books below. If you enter via Twitter don't forget to add the hashtag #contestpearl to you tweet!

Photobucket Photobucket
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There are a few simple rules to this contest:

  • You can enter via Twitter (#contestpearl) or via a comment on this blogpost.
  • You can enter only multiple times since it will not be a random draw.
  • To enter you must provide names for both puppies. You cannot just enter with one name only.
  • Contest closes on Monday July 20th 00:00 CET. Winner will be announced at the latest on Wednesday July 22st.

Have fun and can't wait to see some names!



Nice to meet you!

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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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  • Unforgivable - Laura Griffin
  • Snapped - Laura Griffin
  • Darkness at Dawn - Elizabeth Jennings
  • Sizzle and Burn - Alexis Grant
  • No Mercy - Lori Armstrong
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  • Crazy for Love - Victoria Dahl
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  • 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

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  • Driven - Jayne Rylon (reread)
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  • 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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