December 31, 2009

Back Cover:
Raw, animal magnetism...

...is a big red flag to prim and proper office manager Jane Morgan. After a rough childhood with a mother who liked her men in prison-jumpsuit orange, Jane changed her name, her look and her taste for bad boys. So why is she lusting for William Chase with his tattoo-covered biceps and steel-toed boots? The man blows things up for a living!

She gives herself one explosive, fantasy-filled night with Chase. The next day it's back to plain Jane and safe men.

But when her beloved brother becomes a murder suspect, it's Chase who comes to her rescue. And Jane discovers that a man who's been around the block knows a thing or two about uncovering the truth…



Note from reviewer:
You all know I try to include memorable/funny/arousing quotes in all my reviews and you’ll also note that, except for one, they are missing in this review. That is because with LEAD ME ON Victoria Dahl managed to get me to writing another separate Quote Post while breaking the all time record for most quote markers in one book. I had stopped doing the Quote Posts as they are pretty time consuming but for this record breaking book I will make an exception and do one, once more. As I am seriously lacking time right now I promise to have the LEAD ME ON Quote Post up early in the first week of January 2010.





And now for my review:

Victoria Dahl has a sense of humor that strikes a cord with me. Every. Single. Time. Every. Single. Book! With LEAD ME ON the giggles started at page 10 and set the pace for the most of the book!

Quote:
But even his promising career couldn't make her forget the fact that he made love like a rabbit. (...) She'd tried to let it go. She really had. A man couldn't be judged on the depth of his thrusts alone.


Victoria Dahl had me laughing, panting, frowning and even tearing up right there in the end. All these feelings make for a great read and that is exactly what LEAD ME ON was for me. In this final installment of the Tumble Creek Trilogy Victoria Dahl puts it all out there for us to read, judge, challenge and enjoy.

Reading about Jane and how she wanted to separate her past from her present gave me the Superman vibe: Conservative business persona from the present by day, including the glasses and wild, wanton, dirty little sex pot by night, or let’s say with Chase! She has kept her good girl act up for 10 years but the right man, Chase, makes her want to drop her act, even if she has a really hard time actually doing that because she doesn't want to go back to being the girl she used to be and Chase makes her want to lose her self-imposed inhibitions. There was a moment I was a bit disappointed in Jane and though I understand why she did what she did in that scene and that it was part of her characterization but I still wanted to slap her silly.

Jane fits right in with Victoria Dahl's other heroines in the Tumble Creek Trilogy. I'll even go as far and say she's the boldest one of the three. Molly (heroine book 1) has nothing on Jane. I think people who didn't like Molly will like Jane even less, but since I loved Molly, I loved Jane too. Especially when she shed her "respectable" restrained persona and allowed the true Jane to surface and she finally embraced her past and stopped trying to hide the person she was and stopped trying to deny where she was from.

There will be readers out there who aren't going to like Jane because of some of her actions, her views on life and the things she sometimes does or says. I did like her, a lot. Fear, disappointment, and self-preservation drive her to overcome her crappy past. She is driven by ambition to leave a past she is not proud of behind her. Underneath that ambition she is vulnerable, caring and loyal. She may seem superficial, materialistic and snobbish and with her background, her high and mighty attitude seems wrong but Victoria Dahl pulled it off and made me like Jane as much as I liked her other heroines. Jane's fight with and ultimate surrender to love was beautifully written. Jane's groveling, which was totally justified and called for made me like her even more than I did before. And just when I thought I'd dodged the bullet on the emotional-make-me-cry stuff, the lovely and talented Ms. Dahl had me tearing up right at the end, with a smile plastered to my face.

As I am writing this review, I discovered that I didn't write down many notes on Chase. This doesn't mean Chase wasn't a very major factor in my liking this book. Chase is the man every woman dreams about, whether you're a good or a bad girl! What woman can resist that big, tattooed demolition man who gets excited when he blows things up and who knows how to make a woman feel like a woman? I sure couldn't and Chase has taken his rightful place next to Ben (hero book 1) on my favorite heroes list. Chase is a straight forward as they come. I love how Victoria Dahl switches the traditional roles in her books and puts the men in the position of wanting a decent, respectful relationship, whereas the women are only looking for a tumble in the bed. And without compromising femininity, masculinity and true romance she gives them all want they wanted and more!

In the secondary characters department Victoria Dahl scored once again too. I hated the ex, Greg, really he was the ass of all asses! But I loved Grandma Olive, Chase's dad, Jane's step dad Mac and of course Quinn and Lori. Even Molly, whom I really wasn't expecting to make an appearance, made it to this party, right at the very end and was her usual extravagant self.

As with the other books in this trilogy, there's a side plot next to the romance, this time it's the story thread of Jane's brother being arrested for something he didn't do. I liked that in all three books of the trilogy the sub plots are all different and tackle different subjects within law enforcement and suspense. A suspense writer Victoria Dahl is not but she does a great job in fusing the plot and the romance together. The balance is perfect for contemporary romance and since that is what she writes, no complaints or critique from me there.

This book had a bit of everything: humor, fun, emotional stuff, hot sexing and some soul searching. I really laughed out loud when the fry selection process came up. (OMG I eat my fries exactly like Jane does!). I got flustered at the scene on the biker bar parking lot and my heart ached for the stuff Jane went through as a child/teenager. I absolutely love the role that parents play in the formation of the characters in Victoria Dahl's Tumble Creek books. The parental influence, the way they were brought up, all contribute to the three-dimensional feel to the characters.

If you are tired of the fluffy and the PC you need a dose of Victoria Dahl’s Tumble Creek books. When you peel of the layers of humor and the hot sex you’ll find that each and everyone deals with real issues, real people and stuff we sometimes don’t want to deal with but have to. LEAD ME ON was the perfect example of this with serious emotional stuff seeping through next to the Victoria Dahl signature style of sharp, snappy and laugh-out-loud funny humor, proving that her writing is about more than naughty heroines, sex-on-a-stick heroes and salacious sex scenes.


Rating: 9.0 out of 10
December 30, 2009


On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted by BookChickCity and was inspired by Kristi at The Story Siren. It allows us to share the books we haven't bought yet but are waiting to be bought and devoured.

My wishlist is endless and I will try to regularly share some of the books on it. Some posts will concentrate on a certain release date or on a certain author, debut author or on new series, ongoing series or on certain (sub)genres. I will try to vary, depending on time available to do the post.

This week my "On My Wishlist" focuses on a few upcoming releases in March! One of them is a sexy erotic romance, the other a contemporary romance. Both of them include a sexy chef and both of them have preceding books that I haven't read yet but hope to read them and catch up before these releases fall on my doormat.




When Lilah Jane Tunkle fled her dull life in Virginia for the bright lights of New York City, she didn’t expect to wind up a nanny to a gorgeous celebrity chef’s ten-year-old son. Working for the delectable Devon Sparks is a sure-fire recipe for disaster, especially after Lilah gets a tantalizing taste of his perfectly seasoned kisses …

Devon’s not sure he can handle one more surprise ingredient in his life—he quit his popular TV show, his culinary reputation is on the line, and now the son he barely knows is back for seconds. Lilah’s Southern sass is supposed to keep the boy in line, but soon enough she’s teaching Devon a thing or two about homespun food…and turning up the heat.


Author: Louisa Edwards
Title: On the Steamy Side
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's
Release date: March 2010
Series: Recipe for Love, book 2

Other books in the series:
1. Can't Stand the Heat




He can’t control his desire.

Luc Traverson’s entire future is planned out—but there is one very sexy obstacle in his path: Alyssa Devereaux . She’s a former exotic dancer turned strip club owner and restaurateur. Recently, Alyssa and Luc shared one night of wild abandon that left Luc terrified by his loss of self-control—and Alyssa desperate for more.

And that’s just the way she wants it.

Fulfilling a promise, Luc is the guest chef for Alyssa’s restaurant debut. The sight of her makes Luc wild, so how can he survive a week without letting loose and ravaging her—especially when she’s begging for it? Luc’s desire for her explodes when he realizes he isn’t the only man desperate to have her. But one of the others is deadly. And that’s not the end of Alyssa’s secrets…which are as dark and mysterious and enticing as her fantasies.


Author: Shayla Black
Title: Delicious
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Publisher: Berkley Heat
Release date: March 2010
Series: Wicked Lovers, book 3

Reviews of previous books in the series:
1. Wicked Ties
2. Decadent (TBR and reviewed)
4. Surrender to Me (release in March 2011)
December 29, 2009

Back Cover:
After spending four years abroad, Trinity MacKenna has returned home to her family's ranch in southeastern Arizona. Everything in her life is going just the way she planned it—a home in London, a brilliant career, and she's practically engaged to a gorgeous English gentleman. But when Trinity meets Luke, the cowboy turns her perfect world upside down. Everything about him is virile and sexy, dark and dangerous—and definitely not part of Trinity's carefully arranged plans.

From the moment Luke Denver sees the sensual strawberry blond, he knows he's got to have her. Luke is intrigued by Trinity's combination of sophistication and innocence, boldness and shyness. Even when Trinity tells him she's taken, Luke doesn't let that stop him, because he's determined to make her his...no matter the cost.


When trouble of cattle rustling started at the Flying M Ranch, DEA special agent Luke Denver was placed there undercover as ranch foreman Luke Rider. With the arrest of the rustlers and their accomplice at the sheriff’s department they thought the trouble was over but now there seems to be a turf war going on and illegal aliens (UDAs) are smuggling drugs over the border. Luke and his fellow agents have to try and figure out which of the ranchers is in the middle of it all and while investigating he stumbles upon Trinity, Skylar MacKenna’s (owner of the Flying M and Luke’s boss – heroine book 1) little sister. The attraction is explosive and instant. He knows he has to have her and sets out to do just that. Software designer Trinity has returned home for her first visit after living and working abroad for years and while practically engaged she’s having second thoughts about her relationship. When the ultimate specimen of cowboys, Luke Rider, steps into her life, she is confused and frightened by her hefty reaction to him and knows she will not be able to walk away from him with her emotions unscathed.

Luke is a loner. He is has this dark, sexy and dangerous aura but he is also confident, dedicated and a take-charge kind of guy. When he puts his mind to something, he WILL have it. And he’s decided he wants Trinity. Trinity, always standing in her sister Skylar's shadow as the little ugly sister, has transformed from ugly duckling to beautiful swan but this hasn't changed the fact that she's still insecure. Despite her fits of insecurity that hit every now and then she is strong, sexy and confident yet vulnerable. Her feelings for Luke are confusing to say the least because she has an almost fiancé and she is not planning on staying in Arizona for long but the chemistry between them is one that can’t be denied.

When ZACK (book 1 of this series) came out the blurb hooked me and I couldn't wait to read it. However it was a disappointing read because I had trouble with the plot of the book. The content of the book, in my opinion, didn't concur with what had been presented in the blurb. Find the link to my review of ZACK at the end of this review to read my exact thoughts on it. After that first book I still was curious and intrigued enough by Luke's character, and his role in that story, to order LUKE but I wasn't as dying to read it as I had been for ZACK. When it arrived I did put it on the TBR-shelf and in plain sight, instead of on its regular spot on the shelves alphabetized by author, thinking I'd get to it somewhere in the course of 2010. However, a few days before Christmas, every time I looked at my TBR-shelf, this book was calling to me, luring me, enticing me, until I finally decided to pick it up.

As with ZACK I loved the characters, the romance and the love scenes but a few things were off for me, which I will get to later in this review. Still in LUKE I did like the plot a lot better than in ZACK. The strength of LUKE lies in the sizzling chemistry between Luke and Trinity. The scenes with them together sparkled and held my attention firmly. Sadly the scenes with them apart felt a bit flat and these were the points in the book where my attention would wander off. I was tempted to skim these parts and to me this shows again (as with ZACK) that the plot is the least appealing element of the books in this series, even if the plot in LUKE was considerably more my cup of tea than the one in ZACK.

Even though I tended to zone out in some of the plot scenes, it still was a fairly unpredictable plot that was worked out and wrapped up well. And I don't think we've seen the end of things. This thread of the plot arc has been resolved but I am sure another thread of it will be picked up and continued in the next book of the Armed and Dangerous series: CLAY. Even if I wasn't blown away by either ZACK or LUKE I did love revisiting Zack and Skylar and seeing how they were doing after their HEA and I'm sure I haven't seen the last of them and Luke and Trinity either.

I was a bit worried when I read the back cover of this book. Trinity is engaged and Luke doesn't care that she is a woman committed to another man. However, rather soon it's clear that Trinity is not really engaged and she's not sure she wants to continue her relationship with her English boyfriend, even before she meets and kisses Luke. She breaks up with her boyfriend after the kiss and although the way she does this is acceptable, in my opinion, it was not the best way to end a relationship.

No matter how much I loved the hot and explicit love scenes or how much I melted (and had to wipe the drool of my chin) at Luke's sexual confidence and his "liquid-hot Texan drawl" there were a few things that bothered me in the sex scenes. The first is the lack of protection. Despite Luke's insistence of not going "all the way" the first time they are together because they don't have protection at hand, the first time they really go at it there is not even the thought of protection. True, they both realize afterwards that they were stupid enough to forget protection in the heat of the moment, which made it better...until they just forgot again the next time.

The second is a specific sexual act Trinity does that just didn't do it for me...I am not a prude, far from it, but this really put me off and she does it repeatedly during the love scenes and at Luke’s command too.

The third thing was during their first time all-the-way scene. Trinity has her very first experience with anal sex and she goes: "Oh this feels so good!" This just didn’t sit well with me. Luke is a well-endowed man, there's no real preparation and she feels no pain or even discomfort whatsoever? Nope, I did not buy that. So even though there were some really great and hot sex scenes: voyeurism under the tree, hot tub and chaps is all I'm saying, some things just didn't work for me, especially in the second half of the book.

Up till now Cheyenne McCray hasn't been able to wow me with the Armed and Dangerous series as she did with her Magic series but still I liked this book better than I liked ZACK and contrary to my closing sentence in the review for ZACK, after reading LUKE, I am certain I will look out for the books that are to come in this series as some of the secondary characters in LUKE provided some intriguing and enticing tidbits of information for me to be curious to their stories. Even if it didn't wow me, if you like your hero hot, masterful and confident, your suspense set up and played out well and your romance sexy and sizzling and you don't mind some weird nipple play, LUKE will provide some pleasant and heated hours of reading.

Quotes:
With his long black duster swirling around his legs, he looked dark and dangerous, like an Old West gunslinger who'd come to town to track down his prey.

He knew he should have some moral battle inside, but the reaction was too strong, too deep. This woman, oh, yeah, she was his. He had claimed her at Nevaeh's and he was claiming her again, right there under her sister's tree.

"I can satisfy you in more ways than you can imagine." He leaned forward and nuzzled her ear, and then ran his hot tongue along the row of earrings. "Now," he murmured, "back to where we left off." That's all the man had to do -talk in that deep, sensual drawl, and she'd do just about anything for him. Anything at all.


Rating: 7.0 out of 10

My other review(s) in the ARMED AND DANGEROUS series:
Armed and Dangerous: ZACK (book 1)
December 27, 2009





In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren


As it is the day after Christmas (here in the Netherlands we have 2 Christmas days) I've decided to also list my Christmas presents...One of which was a romance novel, gifted by my hubby, which I will list at the end of the post with the books. My jaw just dropped when I opened that present...actually it contained two books, but as I'm lacking in updating my wishlist and hubby really came to my blog and looked at my wishlist in order to buy me some books, he bought me a book that I'd already received but hadn't taken of the wishlist yet. But I was so surprised that he actually got me books that I don't care and it WAS my own fault for not keeping the list updated. He is, however, going to exchange the duplicate book for another one (I gave him a list this time...) tomorrow.

So back to the point...Below are the pictures of what I got for Christmas this year from hubby (the tea package was from my mother-in-law, even though we said no gifts, she still brought hubby and me something when the family came to our Christmas Brunch yesterday)











And now the books:




BOOK RECEIVED FROM HUBBY



Author: Patricia Grasso
Title: Marrying the Marquis
Series: The Kazanov Series, book 7/Flambeau Sisters series, book 3
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: December 2009
Xmas gift from hubby!!!!
Daughter of a wealthy duke, Blaze Flambeau has no shortage of gentlemen vying for her hand in marriage-yet all she desires is her independence. She'd much rather devote her energies to caring for her prized thoroughbred than to the fortune hunters who knock down her door. But her father is ready to see her wed, so he makes her a bargain: she may participate in the racing season only if she gives each suitor a fighting chance at her heart.

One man, however, makes Blaze a far more scandalous proposition: her reputation or his bed! For Ross MacArthur, Marquis of Awe, knows something that could ruin her, and he will not hesitate to use it to win her. Blaze cannot let the Scottish rogue have his way-or her innocence-but never in her life has she been so tempted. Perhaps the Marquis's scheme doesn't pose such a dilemma after all...






OTHER BOOKS RECEIVED



Author: Susan Crandall
Title: Sleep No More
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: January 2010
Bought (via The Bookdepository)
DANGER NEVER RESTS
The night was always Abby Whitman’s enemy. As a young girl she walked in her sleep, and one night, started a fire that scarred her sister for life and left Abby with unbearable guilt, and a loneliness that echoes within her

AND EVIL NEVER CLOSES ITS EYES
Now Abby has begun blacking out again—with apparently fatal results. A car accident has killed the son of a prominent family. Even though the evidence seems to exonerate her, Abby is plagued by doubts—and soon by mysterious threats. A young psychiatrist, Dr. Jason Coble, is intrigued by Abby and offers to help her explore the dark recesses in her mind. Through this terrifying journey, Jason’s interest turns to passion, and he yearns to give her the love she craves. But first, Abby must trust him—and shed light on secrets that will rock this Southern town and reveal a danger that threatens them both.



Author: Elisabeth Naughton
Title: Stolen Seduction
Series: Stolen Trilogy, book 3
Genre: Romantic Adventure
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: December 2009
Bought (via The Bookdepository)
The individual who collects all six statues and deciphers the code locked within will be awarded controlling interest in Roarke Resorts.

YOUR PARTICIPATION IN THIS ENDEAVOR IS A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH.
Hailey Roarke was never interested in her family’s fortune. That’s why she became a cop. But with her father and now her cousin dead, she’s suddenly on the wrong side of a police interrogation. The only way to clear her name is to solve the riddle before the real killer. Without getting killed herself.

Detective Shane Maxwell can’t deny the spark of lust he feels every time Hailey is near. But the woman is clearly hiding something. Trusting his gut—and the heat in her eyes—he joins her on an elaborate global treasure hunt staged by her late father. Caught between a sizzling seduction and a maniacal murderer, for Hailey and Shane the biggest reward of all will be making it out alive
.
December 24, 2009

Back Cover:

JOURNEY TO AN EROTIC FUTURE UNIVERSE OF PASSION, DANGER, AND DECEIT…

As a lieutenant in the Federation Military Corps, Sera Ayers is more accustomed to giving orders than taking them. Now she must obey the one man she can’t stand—and can’t stop thinking about.

With the enemy Imperialists gaining ground, a new covert team is assembled by Ash Walker. Ten years ago, Sera had lovingly submitted to Ash’s dominance in the bedroom. And when he was forced into a political marriage, she chose to leave him rather than becoming his mistress. But his marriage is now over, and Ash wants Sera on his team—and back in his bed.

The third team member, Brandt Pela, has an elegance to match Ash’s savage sexuality. And when their undercover plan requires Sera to pose as Brandt’s lover, it ignites a passion among the three of them more dangerous than their mission...


When Ash Walker recruits his former lover and the woman he shunned for a political marriage 10 years earlier for his and Brandt Pela's latest undercover Federation op, he has a reunion, rekindling of their past relationship in mind. Sera Ayers, however, initially wants nothing to do with him but she accepts the orders to join his team. Sera has to pose as one of the men's concubine but she adamantly refuses to play Ash's concubine so they agree that she'll pose as Brandt's concubine. The team is sent to scout on Nondal, a ‘Verse suspected to be the starting point of Imperialist attacks on Federation outposts.

Sera is outspoken, direct, doesn't waste time on unimportant issues or take crap from anyone, strong-willed, skilled. Her cover for the op is Sela Carter, concubine. Ash and Brandt are opposites in both appearance and demeanor. Ash is impulsive, explosive, short-fused, and dominant yet gentle and caring. Brandt is diplomatic, a mediator, seductive, and kind yet forceful. Their cover for the op are to form as little of a threat as possible by posing as spoiled, rich, good-for-nothing playboys, caring about nothing but spending money and pursuing their pleasures.

I must honestly admit that, especially in the beginning, I fell for Brandt much harder than I did for Ash because of Brandt's more laid back and mediative character. Ash’s more raw and unapologetic character did give me pause at the start especially where getting back Sera was concerned. Probably because I was relating to Sera's hurt and he sometimes came across as the rich spoiled boy, used to getting his way, he was supposed to portray for their covert op. Ash's actions in the past seem unforgivable to Sera. However, he redeemed himself beautifully in the course of the story. I began to like him more when he decided to take a step back and take it slow with Sera and I really started to melt for him when he showed more gentleness. By the time I’d read the first third of the book, Ash had grown on me and I liked him as much as I did Brandt from the beginning. Pressure from his family and his sense of duty led Ash to marry Brandt’s sister Kira and hurt Sera in the process by turning his back on their love. His deep, almost desperate, love for Sera and the impact of his harsh decision 10 years back made his earlier behavior more acceptable for me.

The balance of the triad was done very well and the three of them are a perfect match. I really liked Sera's character and personality. Even in her role as Sela, the concubine, she didn't lose her strength, fire or independence. Brandt was the connecting element that brought and kept Ash and Sera together. His seductive charm complemented Ash’s rough and raw charisma perfectly. Together they are a force no woman in her right mind could ever fathom to resist. Kudos to Ms. Dane for her characterization skills.

Quote to illustrate Sera's personality:
"I'm well aware as Brandt's best friend, you'll be allowed to show me sexual attention in Nondal. I will tell you right now to keep it to a minimum, or you'll be drawing back a bloody stump. Don't use this to manipulate me."

With an explosive and attention-grabbing start UNDERCOVER is a fascinating, intricate story, fraught with subdued emotions that are bound to come to the surface in an explosive way. The world building is done subtly and almost imperceptible. This is something that is highly appreciated by this reader. Lauren Dane didn't overwhelm me with massive info dumps but gave me relevant bits of information in the appropriate places, nicely mixed with dialogue, action and eroticism. She sets up the world and the plot in a simple and easy to understand manner. It mixes smoothly with the explicit and scorching hot sex she writes so well. The wrap-up of the plot was done nice and clean, just as the plot had been throughout the whole book.

The first sex scene was an m/m scene, which was unexpected but done so tastefully and fitting the characters that it didn’t bother me and the two male characters in this book immediately intrigued me. The sex scenes are very explicit yet done with such refinement they never go too far. The following quote reflects exactly how I feel about the whole m/m thing and why I am more of an m/f/m reader. Thank you Lauren Dane!

Sera: "Look I'm all about the boy-touching, let's make that clear. As long as I'm involved, I can watch, and you can come back to me, I'm on board."

Although this first book in Lauren Dane's Federation Series has a few elements that are situated on the outskirts of my comfort zone: m/m sex scenes and a futuristic setting, it totally worked for me and after just a few pages I was completely taken in by a wonderful story with strong characters, a very well executed plot and some erotic scenes that made my glasses steam up real good. I just couldn't stop reading this book. I had planned to read another book (in a different genre) at the same time and alongside this one but I couldn't. This book took possession of all my attention and left no room for any other book to the point I had to put the other book aside.

After just two books read, Lauren Dane is well on her way to form serious competition for my favorite erotic romance authors, regardless the subgenre (contemporary, paranormal or futuristic) and she is one of the few authors who writes m/m scenes I can really appreciate despite m/m not being one of my favorite tropes. The books by her hand that I have read so far are intense, emotional and scorching hot and with UNDERCOVER she added an intriguing plot arc that holds it ground amongst the avalanche of hotness. She does sexy and emotional in a perfect mix like few authors can.

Lauren Dane sets the pages on fire with this emotional, fast-paced and erotic futuristic ménage story. Her characters are strong, sexy and very well written. If you like scorching hot without pulling punches, a great set of characters and just the right amount of plot to let those characters shine, UNDERCOVER deserves a place on your reading list and on your bookshelves.

Rating: 8.8 out of 10
December 23, 2009

Back Cover:

ALEX LOVELL MAKES PEOPLE DISAPPEAR. TURNS OUT, SHE'S NOT THE ONLY ONE.

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 cop 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 Austin PD detective — Alex embarks on a mission to uncover the truth.

As far as homicide cop Nathan Deveraux is concerned, no body means no case. But as much as he wants to believe that Alex's hunch about Melanie's murder is wrong, his instincts — and their visceral attraction — won't let him walk away. As a grim picture of what really happened begins to emerge, Nathan realizes this investigation runs deeper than they could ever have guessed. And each step nearer the truth puts Alex in danger of being the next to disappear....





Private investigator and computer expert Alexandra Lovell is specialized in aiding people who don't want to be found. Let's call it a civilian (cyber) witness protection program. She is very good at it but when she finds out one of her clients, Melanie Bess, has really disappeared she suspects foul play, especially when she finds out Melanie came back to Austin, where danger lurks around every corner for her. Alex calls in the help of Nathan Deveraux, a detective with the Austin Police Department, whom she met in the line of duty about 7 months earlier. He promises to help her and look into it but his promise complicates things more than it facilitates them since the main suspect in Melanie's disappearance is a fellow policeman who is well-liked and respected. Alex only has suspicions and very circumstantial evidence to go on and there Nathan’s hands are pretty much tied. When she enlists the service of the Delphi Center, a privately funded forensics lab and base of "the Tracers", things come to the surface that put both Melanie and Alex' lives in danger and Nathan must act quickly to save them.

Next to the suspense in UNTRACEABLE, which was great as always in Laura Griffin's books, the characters of Alex and Nathan are on the top of my list of what I liked most in this book. Alex is sarcastic, tough and sharp-tongued, but underneath the outer sharpness there's caring and warmth too, especially for those less fortunate than her. Nathan is rugged, cynical, straightforward and unapologetic. And together they create both sensual and verbal sparks that I really liked. Their road to a HEA was complicated not only by Melanie's case but also by their different backgrounds and their expectations of themselves, each other and their relationship.

Both Alex and Nathan first made their appearance in Laura Griffin's Glass Sisters series. At the end of book 1 (THREAD OF FEAR) of that series I really thought Nathan was going to be Courtney Glass' hero in book 2: WHISPER OF WARNING but reading that book I soon discovered I'd been totally off-base with my speculations. When Griffin put Nathan and Alex together in WHISPER OF WARNING secondary characters I didn't dare to speculate again but I was thrilled to find out they were the first hero/heroine couple in this new series, The Tracers. I loved their chemistry in WHISPER OF WARNING and in UNTRACEABLE, which takes place about 7 months after WHISPER OF WARNING, Griffin combined that chemistry with some top-notch suspense. As with all Griffin books the suspense is extraordinary good. The first page of this book grabbed me by the throat and never let go until I reached the end.

By chapter three I was completely immersed in the suspense. The set-up in the first two chapters promised all the intrigue, twists, complications it delivered on in the rest of the book and the chemistry between Nathan and Alex was definitely tantalizing and promising too. This is the third series of Laura Griffin I'm reading and yet again she surprises and amazes me with a totally unique vibe. Even if this series is sort of a spin-off from the Glass Sisters series and set in the same world with the many known characters and the same police department, Griffin manages to deliver a first installment of a series that definitely stands on it's own as far as the suspense plot arc is concerned. Where the focus in the Borderline series was on drugs and drug trafficking and the focus in the Glass Sisters series is on murder investigations, The Tracers series is very much into forensics and corrupted law enforcers. Despite the emphasis on different aspects of law enforcement, in all three series the romantic story arc is always subtle and intense, fitting the main characters and their development throughout the books. The romance in UNTRACEABLE was subtle and sprinkled with some complicating elements which were linked to both Nathan and Alex' backgrounds and personalities.

I really love this new series and I am definitely ready for more as there were some secondary characters who certainly spiked my curiosity and interest with their roles in UNTRACEABLE, for example: Troy Stockton, John Holt and Mia Voss. I hope future books in this series will feature them at least.

At almost every page turn there was a surprise waiting for me. The suspense plot was unpredictable and excellently put together. Griffin kept me speculating and guessing constantly and right till the end. Something I liked in Griffin's writing of the other books made this one great for me too: Dosed bits of plot information and stuff that seems unrelated come together to form a great suspense plot. Once you're in the flow of the story it's hard to tear yourself away from it. I just had to keep on reading and speculating on the information given. Trying to decide if the suspect was truly the bad guy, what the motives were and how it all connected. The conclusion was one I didn't quite see coming, which of course is a very good thing, as I don't like predictable suspense novels. And even though the wrap-up felt kind of rushed and I expected more information on some things, which now leave me with lingering questions, I still very much liked the twist given to the plot.

Again Laura Griffin did NOT disappoint me. I love her crisp, clean and smooth writing and I love anything to do with forensic science and law enforcement. This made UNTRACEABLE an absolute winner for me.

Quote:
And then it was all good, only good, only pleasure, as they moved together in a blissful rhythm, his hands stroking up her back, then down again. They were together, completely, and with that wonderful friction, she felt the knot of loneliness deep inside her start to come loose.


Rating: 8.7 out of 10
(ROOB-rating: 4 stars)
December 22, 2009
Yesterday hubby and I went for a walk in the snow and even though I am NOT a lover of snow and cold (I would love to move to and live in a country -tropical island- where there is warmth and sun all year long)...still it was a lovely sight: houses and nature all covered in white and crisp snow, people enjoying walks, children playing and making snowmen...A short impression of our walk (and lunch):





















December 20, 2009
This week no "In My Mailbox" as I didn't receive a single book in the past week *sob*. This rarely happens but there are indeed weeks that no books arrive and while I should be happy (relieved) with that because my bookcases are overflowing, the bookaddict in me can't help but feel a bit sad about that...

I was sick a while back and didn't have the energy to read and didn't read a single word for more than 2 weeks! In that period of time I did however work on my wishlist for 2010 as my inner list and order loving persona was twitching at the fact that 2010 was approaching and I didn't have my wishlist sorted out but having notes and scribbles of release dates, author names and book titles all over the place, on sticky notes, in notebooks, on random pieces of paper and in an incomplete worksheet in Excel... *gasp*
So I took the laptop with me to bed and started sorting everything out. Visiting author sites, fantasticfiction.co.uk and amazon.com to get some much craved order.
While doing this I stumbled on something that made me cringe....

In historical romance my preference definitely goes out to medieval romance. Something about Knights, Vikings, Saxons and Normans attracts me to no end. Therefore I have a collection of Julia Latham (aka Gayle Callen) medieval historical romances on my bookshelves. I've have read a bunch of the Gayle Callen books but the Julia Latham medievals, sadly, are still unread...I'll spare you all my usual mantra about unread books and Mt. TBR and get to my point.

Here are the covers of Julia Latham's first three books:





Then the first book of her new series: Raised to Be Bladesmen





And then the cover of the second book of the new series, this book comes out in January 2010:






This last cover is SO different from the rest I really had to look a few times before I really believed it was a Julia Latham book, let alone in the same series as TAKEN AND SEDUCED!
I first thought she had changed publishers but no, she's still with Avon?
I must say I really prefer the other covers over this last one. Don't misunderstand me, there's nothing wrong with this last cover, it's just so...I don't know old-skool, eighties-nineties, and it really doesn't give me the urge to buy it as much as the other covers did...

What do you think? 
December 16, 2009


On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted by BookChickCity and was inspired by Kristi at The Story Siren. It allows us to share the books we haven't bought yet but are waiting to be bought and devoured.

My wishlist is endless and I will try to regularly share some of the books on it. Some posts will concentrate on a certain release date or on a certain author, debut author or on new series, ongoing series or on certain (sub)genres . I will try to vary, depending on time available to do the post.

This week my "On My Wishlist" focuses on historical romance and some debut authors in that genre whose books come out in the beginning of 2010. I am not a "drool-over-covers" person but I really, really like these ones.


She’s his last chance at future happiness…
He just doesn’t know it yet.

A gifted fortune-teller from a humble background, Jenny can make even the most sophisticated skeptic believe her predictions simply by batting her smoky eyelashes. Until she meets her match in Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely, a sworn bachelor and scientist.

He just didn't know it yet

Broodingly handsome, Gareth is scandalized to discover his cousin has fallen under the spell of "Madame Esmerelda," and vows to prove Jenny a fraud. But his unexpected attraction to the fiery enchantress defies logic. Jenny disrupts every facet of Gareth's calculated plan - until he can't decide whether to seduce her or ruin her. Now, as they engage in a passionate battle of wills, two lonely souls must choose between everything they know.and the boundless possibilities of love.


Author: Courtney Milan
Title: Proof by Seduction
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: HQN
Release date: January 2010
Series: Not able to find any info on this



Courting History with Romance
Millicent “Missy” Armstrong is entering her fourth London Season, but not for lack of suitors. Since her debut three years ago, Missy has received twenty marriage proposals. But she is interested in only one man—her brother’s best friend, James Rutherford. As a child, Missy looked up to James. As a grown up, her admiration has blossomed into the longings of a beautiful, sensuous woman—and she won’t rest until James admits his love—and desire—for her…

James Rutherford rues the day he let his physical weaknesses get the better of him by kissing Missy. His best friend has made it clear that Missy is off limits, and though he’s avoided her for three years, he hasn’t forgotten the feel of her soft lips pressed against his—and it seems neither has she. For no matter how much James tries to discourage Missy, he keeps winding up in her arms, sharing heated caresses that promise the most delirious pleasure...


Author: Beverley Kendall
Title: Sinful Surrender
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Kensington
Release date: January 2010
Series: Unnamed "sexy Victorian-set" Series - book 1
Future books in the series:
2. The Gauntlet (release TBA)



The Weston siblings have been blessed with Shakespearean names and an affinity for impropriety. Prepare to fall in love while discovering how the Westons are won.
ISABELLA IS DETERMINED TO MARRY JAMES…
Isabella Weston has loved James Sheffield for as long as she can remember. Her come-out ball seems the prefect chance to make him see her in a new light.

JAMES IS DETERMINED NEVER TO MARRY…
James is stunned to find the impish girl he once knew has blossomed into a sensual goddess. And if he remembers his lessons, goddesses always spell trouble for mortal men.

A COMPROMISE IS CLEARLY NECESSARY.
When Izzie kisses James, her artless ardor turns to a masterful seduction that drives him mad with desire. But, no stranger to heartbreak, James is determined never to love, and thus never to lose. Can Isabella convince him that a life without love might be the biggest loss of all?


Author: Sara Lindsey
Title: Promise Me Tonight
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Release date: February 2009
Series: Weston Family Series - book 1
Future books in the series:
2. Tempting the Marquess (Release: June 2010)
3. A Rogue for All Seasons (Release: October 2010)
December 13, 2009




In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren



Author: Chelsea Cain
Title: HeartSick
Series: Gretchen Lowell - book 1
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: August 2008
Bought (via The Bookdepository)
A LIVING NIGHTMARE

Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful and brutal serial killer. In the end, she was the one who caught him…and tortured him…and then let him go. Why did Gretchen spare Archie’s life and then turn herself in? This is the question that keeps him up all night—and the reason why he has visited Gretchen in prison every week since.

A DEADLY OBSESSION…
Meanwhile, another series of murders is tearing up the Portland streets. Archie seems to be getting closer to solving this high-profile case…until he finds himself in a fatal collision course with the killer—one that inevitably leads him back to his former captor. Gretchen may be the only one who can help do justice. The only thing she can’t do, this time, is save Archie’s life.



Author: Chelsea Cain
Title: Sweetheart
Series: Gretchen Lowell - book 2
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: August 2008
Bought (via The Bookdepository)
Portland detective Archie Sheridan, the former head of the Beauty Killer Task Force, hunted Gretchen Lowell for years before she kidnapped him, tortured him, and then let him go. Now that she is behind bars, Archie is finally piecing his life back together. He’s returned home to his ex-wife and their two children. But no matter how hard Archie tries, he just can’t stop thinking about Gretchen…

SWEETHEART

When the body of a young woman is discovered in Forest Park, Archie is reminded of the first corpse he discovered there a decade ago: it turned out to be the Beauty Killer’s first victim, and Archie’s first case. Then, the unthinkable happens: Gretchen escapes from prison, and once the news breaks, all of Portland goes on high alert…but secretly, Archie is relieved. He knows he’s the only one who can capture Gretchen—and now he has a plan to get out from under her thumb once and for all. Even if it means becoming her last victim…



Author: Sasha White
Title: Primal Male
Series: sequel to SEXY DEVIL
Genre: Erotic Romance
Format: Tradesize Paperback
Release date: December 2008
Bought (via The Bookdepository)
Surrender to your wildest instincts…

PRIMAL POWER
An empath with the ability to sense others’ emotions, Drake Wheeler has survived by keeping his own feelings shut off from the world. But nothing has prepared him for the sudden smoldering need that overtakes him in the presence of pureblood shape shifter Melissa Montrose. Even more surprising—he can’t sense anything around the sultry bookstore owner…except for his fierce urge to take her here, now, over and over again…

PRIMAL HEAT
Melissa has lived her life in a small town, hiding her family’s mysterious birthright. A fling with the sexy tourist who wanders into her bookstore seems like a delicious, temporary diversion, until Drake touches her in exactly the way she craves, teasing and tempting every inch of her body into explosive ecstasy. Drake’s obviously a man with secrets, but Melissa’s got a few of her own, and she’s going to show him just how wild and raw pure, primitive desire can be…



Author: Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter
Title: Deep Kiss of Winter
Series: Untouchable is part 8 in Kresley Cole's IMMORTALS AFTER DARK series. Tempt Me Eternally is part 5 of Gena Showalter's ALIEN HUNTRESS series
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format: Bookclub Edition Hardcover
Release date: October 2009
Bought (via Hard to Find Books/Rhapsody Bookclub)
Untouchable
A BRUTAL VAMPIRE SOLDIER ABOUT TO KNOW LOVE FOR THE FIRST TIME...
Murdoch Wroth will stop at nothing to claim Daniela the Ice Maiden--the delicate Valkyrie who makes his heart beat for the first time in three hundred years. Yet the exquisite Danii is part ice fey, and her freezing skin can't be touched by anyone but her own kind without inflicting pain beyond measure.

A VALKYRIE ACHING TO BE TOUCHED...
Soon desperate for closeness, in an agony of frustration, Murdoch and Danii will do anything to have each other. Together can they find the key that will finally allow them to slake the overwhelming desire burning between them?


**********


Tempt Me Eternally
Gena Showalter delights with her newest Alien Huntress tale, an explosive story of a warlord hungry for pleasure and the one woman would would deny him . . .

Aleaha Love can be anyone—literally. With only skin-to-skin contact, she can change her appearance, assume any identity. Her newest identity switch has made her an AIR (alien investigation and removal) agent and sends her on a mission to capture a group of otherworldly warriors. Only she becomes the captured. Breean, a golden-skinned commander, known for his iron-will, who is at once dangerous and soul-shatteringly seductive, threatens her new life. Because for the first time, Aleaha only wants to be herself. . . .



Author: Karen Marie Moning
Title: Dreamfever
Series: Fever - book 4
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: Bookclub Edition Hardcover
Release date: August 2009
Bought (via Hard to Find Books/Rhapsody Bookclub)
MacKayla Lane lies naked on the cold stone floor of a church, at the mercy of the erotic Fae master she once swore to kill. Far from home, unable to control her sexual hungers, MacKayla is now fully under the Lord Master's spell. In the New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning's stunning new novel, the walls between human and Fae worlds have come crashing down. And as Mac fights for survival on Dublin's battle-scarred streets, she will embark on the darkest-and most erotically charged-adventure of her life.

He has stolen her past, but MacKayla will never allow her sister's murderer to take her future. Yet even the uniquely gifted sidhe-seer is no match for the Lord Master, who has unleashed an insatiable sexual craving that consumes Mac's every thought-and thrusts her into the seductive realm of two very dangerous men, both of whom she desires but dares not trust.

As the enigmatic Jericho Barrons and the sensual Fae prince V'lane vie for her body and soul, as she rallies the sidhe-seers to fight an impossible battle, and the power of the Dark Book weaves its annihilating path through the city, Mac's greatest enemy delivers a final challenge...

It's an invitation Mac cannot refuse, one that sends her racing home to Georgia, where an even darker threat awaits. With her parents missing and the lives of her loved ones under siege, Mac is about to come face-to-face with a soul-shattering truth-about herself, and about the world she thought she knew.


The books above are the ones I picked out to highlight as I received a bunch (14 in total!!!) this week.  Find below first a few books I ordered but I've already have or read in another format



Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Title: To Desire a Devil
Series: Legend of the Four Soldiers - book 4
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Bookclub Edition Hardcover
Release date: November 2009
Bought (via Hard to Find Books/Rhapsody Bookclub)
*Bought the mass market paperback thinking I couldn't wait for the Hardcover to arrive from overseas, but because I was distracted by other books I now have both formats on the shelves, paperback stilll unread...(I know, I am crazy when it comes to books...)




Author: Lauren Dane
Title: Undercover
Series: Federation - book 1
Genre: Erotic Romance
Format: Tradesize Paperback
Release date: December 2008
Bought (via Hard to Find Books/Rhapsody Bookclub)
*I received a copy of Relentless via Mad and being an obssessive in-order reader I had to read Undercover first but didn't have a copy of it. I knew Leontine had a copy so I borrowed it from her and read it and because I liked it so much I now have my own copy! Yay!




Author: Gena Showalter
Title: The Darkest Whisper
Series: Lords of the Underworld - book 5
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format: Bookclub Edition Hardcover
Release date: September 2009
Bought (via Hard to Find Books/Rhapsody Bookclub)
*The story with this book is similar to the Elizabeth Hoyt book: couldn't wait for the Hardcover from overseas to be ordered and to arrive before reading. With the only difference that the mass market paperback of this book WAS read immediately when it arrived.



And finally some category romances, mostly on recommendation by some twitter friends:

Flashback by Jill Shalvis
She's Got It Bad by Sarah Mayberry
Home For the Holidays by Sarah Mayberry
Hot For Him by Sarah Mayberry
Amorous Liaisons by Sarah Mayberry
Have Mercy by Jo Leigh
December 9, 2009


On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted by BookChickCity and was inspired by by Kristi at The Story Siren. It allows us to share the books we haven't bought yet but are waiting to be bought and devoured.

My wishlist is endless and I will try to regularly share some of the books on it. Some posts will concentrate on a certain release date or on a certain author, debut author or on new series, ongoing series or on certain (sub)genres . I will try to vary, depending on time available to do the post.

This week my "In My Wishlist" focuses on a few books coming out in January 2010, which I haven't ordered yet but am dying to get my hands on.



Former Army sniper Mercy Gunderson debuts in the first book in a gripping new mystery series by the Shamus award winning author, Lori Armstrong.
Mercy Gunderson is a straight shooter with a hard edge. On medical leave from the Army, she returns home to South Dakota, which isn’t much safer for her than Iraq. Arriving just after the death of her father, it is up to Mercy to decide what to do with the family ranch. Trying to deal with her irresponsible sister and nephew and feeling guilty that she didn’t make it home soon enough to see her father one last time; Mercy is suddenly pulled into the local community when the body of a Native American boy is found on her land. But nobody seems to be doing anything about it, especially not the local law enforcement.

When tragedy strikes again, Mercy is ready to throw all her energy into her own investigation, and she’s out for revenge. As she digs up the truth behind the shocking crimes, Mercy uncovers dark and dangerous secrets and must race to stop a killer before everything she’s fought for is destroyed forever.
Author: Lori Armstrong
Title: No Mercy
Genre: Mystery
Release date: January 12th, 2010
Series: Mercy Gunderson Mysteries - Book 1
Other books/reviews in the series:
2. Mercy Kill (Release TBA)




Seduction takes a delightful, daring twist as Nicole Jordan's irresistibly sensual Courtship Wars series continues.

Dangerously sexy nobleman and former spymaster Rayne Kenyon, Earl of Haviland, has no interest in love. He merely desires an heir to carry on his title and therefore must have a wife. Rayne makes a surprising choice of brides by settling on the plain spinster daughter of a fellow spy who once saved his life. Yet spirited, witty Madeline Ellis proves much more than he bargained for.

Dazed by Rayne's smoldering kisses, Madeline knows that she's at last found love – with a man determined to avoid it. Once wedded, she decides to take fate into her own hands. Maybe, just maybe, she can kindle the fires in Rayne's heart by turning her plain, ordinary self into a dazzling temptress. With a little help from the Loring sisters, the earl's artless new wife becomes a beautiful, bold seductress in their marriage bed. But who could imagine that a simple marriage of convenience can suddenly be flooded with danger, desire, and unexpected love?

Author: Nicole Jordan
Title: To Tame a Dangerous Lord
Genre: Historical Romance
Release date: January 26th, 2010
Series: Courtship Wars - Book 5
Other books/reviews in the series:
1. To Pleasure a Lady
2. To Bed a Beauty
3. To Seduce a Bride
4. To Romance a Charming Rogue (Mini-review is upcoming)

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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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

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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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