January 31, 2010

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Author: Hank Phillippi Ryan
Title: Prime Time
Series: Charlotte McNally, book 1
Genre: Mystery
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: 2007 (re-release in 2009)
Bought via The Book Depository

Could an innocent e-mail offer really result in murder, mayhem and a multimillion-dollar fraud ring? The last person to ask is dead, but that won't keep Charlotte McNally from poking around. Face it, in the cutthroat world of television journalism, this seasoned reporter knows that she'd better pull out all the stops or kiss her cushy job (and that means her life) goodbye.

But all too soon her investigation leads her straight to Josh Gelston, who is a little too a lot too handsome. Could she trust a word he said? Charlie might have a nose for news, but men are a whole other story. Which means she is putting her job, life and heart on the line.…

Author: Allison Brennan
Title: Original Sin
Series: The Seven Deadly Sins, book 1
Genre: Supernatural Thriller
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: January 2010
Received for Review from Meryl L. Moss Media Relations

Haunted by chilling memories of demonic possession and murder, Moira O'Donnell has spent seven years hunting down her mother, Fiona, whose command of black magic has granted her unprecedented control of the underworld. Now Moira's global search has led her to a small California town that's about to become hell on earth.

Tormented by his own terrifying past and driven by powers he can't explain, ex-seminarian Rafe Cooper joins Moira's dangerous quest. But Fiona is one devilish step ahead. Hungry for greater power, eternal youth, and stunning beauty, the sorceress is unleashing upon the mortal world the living incarnations of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Together with a demonologist, a tough female sheriff, and a pair of star-crossed teenagers, Moira and Rafe are humanity's last chance to snatch salvation from the howling jaws of damnation.

Author: Kristan Higgins
Title: The Next Best Thing
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: February 2010
Bought via The Bookdepository

Lucy Lang isn't looking for fireworks...

She's looking for a nice, decent man. Someone who'll mow the lawn, flip chicken on the barbeque, teach their future children to play soccer. But most important... someone who won't inspire the slightest stirring in her heart...or anywhere else. A young widow, Lucy can't risk that kind of loss again. But sharing her life with a cat named Fat Mikey and the Black Widows at the family bakery isn't enough either. So it's goodbye to Ethan, her hot but entirely inappropriate "friend with privileges" and hello to a man she can marry.

Too bad Ethan Mirabelli isn't going anywhere. As far as he's concerned, what she needs might be right under her nose. But can he convince her that the next best thing can really be forever?

Author: Jill Shalvis
Title: Slow Heat
Series: Pacific Heat, book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: February 2010
Bought via The Bookdepository
After a woman claims she’s pregnant with Wade O’Riley’s love child, Major League Baseball’s most celebrated catcher and ladies’ man is slapped on the wrist by management and ordered to improve his image. His enforcer is the team’s publicist, the tough and sexy Samantha McNead.

When Wade needs a date for a celebrity wedding, Sam steps up to the plate as his “girlfriend.” But given her secret crush on him and that one awkward night a year ago in a stuck elevator with too much scotch, the whole thing is an exercise in sexual tension.

Wade is thrilled when the pretense turns into an unexpected night of hot passion. But the next day Sam is back to her cool self. As a catcher, Wade’s used to giving the signals, not struggling to read them. Now, to win the love of his “pretend” girlfriend, he needs a homerun–even it involves stealing a few bases…

I had the pleasure to receive an e-ARC of this book for review but of course had to order the print book too. You can read my review of this book here

There were 23 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

  1. Kati
  2. Maija A.
  3. skyla11377
  4. justpeachy36
  5. Jennifer M
  6. pattepoilue
  7. Sarah
  8. Julie
  9. Angelique
  10. Mandi
  11. RKCharron
  12. tetewa
  13. QLady48
  14. Tena
  15. INCiDeNT
  16. Victoria
  17. Smokinhotbooks
  18. Spav
  19. Emily
  20. Wanda
  21. Trin
  22. Marissa
  23. Tori Lennox

Timestamp: 2010-01-31 02:17:29 UTC

Congratulations to Kati and I will be in touch with you to get your mailing address.
Thanks to all who participated in this giveaway!

Clearly some participants did not read the rules to this giveaway thoroughly because I stated that if you did not leave a way for me to contact you I would re-draw. I had to re-draw 2 times before I found a winner who left a way for me to contact her. The 2 first ones did not leave their email address in the comment and did not have a blogger profile with an email address.
January 30, 2010

Back Cover:
Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all--and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire--and a suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about--except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

When the granddaughter of a US senator is killed in a vicious way, lieutenant Eve Dallas gets assigned to the case. It's a case filled with mystery and secrets and when Eve starts falling for Roarke, the wealthy billionaire suspected of the murder, she knows things are going to get a lot more complicated. But then more women are murdered and the necessity to find the killer is more imperative than a budding romance between Eve and Roarke...

Eve Dallas is a police officer in New York who has the reputation of being tough, stubborn and analytical. She is great at her job despite, or maybe thanks to, her own not so happy childhood. She is smart, practical and has a wicked sarcastic streak. She doesn't need or want pampering or luxuries. She's satisfied with the basic necessities in life and is happiest when she can do her job and contribute to society by catching criminals. Eve is a tough woman who doesn't show weakness but still she is not hard or cold. I found Eve extremely likable and there was never a moment where her character annoyed or irritated me.

Roarke is a very enigmatic character. He is aloof, guarded, confident and used to getting his way. He too has had a childhood that was anything but pleasant, something that isn't deepened out in this book but the hints were most certainly given. Roarke comes of as very mysterious but at the same time he's very direct and doesn't hesitate to go after anything he wants and in this case he wants Eve. I had heard a lot about Roarke before reading this first Eve Dallas-book and he absolutely met the picture I had formed of him. The way he pushed Eve over her emotional boundaries and got her to open up was a joy to read.

Despite their aloofness and tough exterior behavior both Eve and Roarke have this air of vulnerability that they reveal only to each other. This made them characters I found delightful to read about and combined with the chemistry between them that was palpable throughout the book it made their romance a good counterweight for the exciting and intense suspense plot.

The romance and the suspense complemented each other perfectly and they were a flawless combination of action and emotion. Emotion was provided in the romance between Eve and Roarke and the action came with the unpredictable and exemplary executed suspense plot.

This is the first romantic suspense I've read that takes place in the future, my guess is that it's set around 2050-2060 but despite of all kinds of high tech gadgets, appliances and methods of transportation both on and off earth, the feel of the book isn't downright futuristic. But for the fact that things we find normal in these times like guns, fresh meat and coffee are seen as rare and valuable in Eve's world and time, it could have taken place in the present day and reads just as easy as romantic suspense books that are set in our time.

I also liked that along the course of the investigation of the case you not only get to learn more about Eve and her life and struggles but there's also a very extensive portrayal of the murder victims and their backgrounds.

Inherent to romantic suspense there are lots of secondary characters in the victims, witnesses, suspects, law enforcement people and media. But there were also a few secondary characters taken from the personal environment of Eve and Roarke.
Despite the amount of secondary characters and the plot the focus remains on Eve and Roarke in a very subtle way throughout the story. I can only praise J.D. Robb on the characterization of both Eve and Roarke and for letting them take their place in the book in a very natural way.

From start to finish J.D. Robb’s writing mesmerized me. It kept me enthralled and engaged through the characters, the romance and the plot which all contributed to the enjoyment I had in reading this top-notch romantic suspense.

His voice was smooth, with a whisper of the charm of Ireland over it, like rich cream over warmed whiskey.

It stunned him how much he could want her still, baffled him that she could be blind to how helpless he was under the clawing need for her. It infuriated him that she could, simply by existing, be his weakness.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10
January 28, 2010

Release Date: February 2, 2010
Back Cover:
After a woman claims she’s pregnant with Wade O’Riley’s love child, Major League Baseball’s most celebrated catcher and ladies’ man is slapped on the wrist by management and ordered to improve his image. His enforcer is the team’s publicist, the tough and sexy Samantha McNead.

When Wade needs a date for a celebrity wedding, Sam steps up to the plate as his “girlfriend.” But given her secret crush on him and that one awkward night a year ago in a stuck elevator with too much scotch, the whole thing is an exercise in sexual tension.

Wade is thrilled when the pretense turns into an unexpected night of hot passion. But the next day Sam is back to her cool self. As a catcher, Wade’s used to giving the signals, not struggling to read them. Now, to win the love of his “pretend” girlfriend, he needs a homerun–even it involves stealing a few bases…

When a publicity scandal surrounding Wade threatens the Heat's endorsements, Sam and Wade are forced to form a couple for a month to keep any more rumors at bay and generate good press for the Heat. But pretend soon feels pretty real and when family members are thrown in the mix, the pretend-relationship propels into a real one, with all the struggles, insecurities and emotions that accompany any true relationship.

Wade is the Heat's catcher. He's laid-back and easygoing, sharp-witted, and underneath his charming veneer there's a vulnerable, loyal man who's had to struggle to get where he is now. He's hiding a lot of hurt behind the surface of a dumb jock. He's stubborn and a smart-ass and there's a lot more substance to him than he lets on. Wade is afraid of commitment because he's been let down, hurt and disappointed every time he's offered it, and his playboy image plays right into it. He's afraid to take his budding feelings for Sam further because he's afraid she wants commitment and he doesn't know how to offer it to her, afraid to let her down as he's been let down.

Sam is the Heat's publicist. She's a woman in a man's world; growing up with dominant males she is used to insensitive alpha males and comfortable with men. She is sexy, tough-as-nails and the epitome of a strong, confident woman. She is comfortable in her own skin yet afraid to give herself to the man she wants. Afraid he can't offer her the commitment she wants and needs. Afraid to give in to her feelings and watch him walk away and leave her broken-hearted.

The supporting cast was big, but they were never too much and comprised of mostly family members and players and staff of the Heat. I absolutely loved seeing Pace and Holly again and their interactions (offering advice and support) with Wade and Sam. But the same way Wade made an impression in DOUBLE PLAY, Gage made himself known too in that one too and in SLOW HEAT my fascination with him has grown even more! I want Gage now. And I am ecstatic to find out that Jill is writing his book next in this series!

It was hard not to have a good time with Gage. He was a mix of his Latino father and supermodel mother, and within the confines of baseball, possessed a will of sheer steel that served him well. Outside the sport, like today, he let loose a little bit, and attracted nearly as many women as his players did.

And there were more secondary characters I loved, if not in another, more endearing way. Tag, Sam's nephew, was a great addition to the story. His whole situation gave the story a turn I wasn't expecting and made it just a tad more profound than light-hearted. And then there was Wade's dad, I didn’t expect him to make an actual appearance but he did and I wouldn't have wanted to miss his role in the story either.

I just loved SLOW HEAT. If there was ever a book I read that is funny on one page and heart-breaking emotional the next, it's this one. Ever since I read DOUBLE PLAY I was longing for the story between Wade and Sam. Both of them made an impression with just the hint that was dropped subtly by Jill Shalvis in that book and now that I have gotten my wish granted I can say I my expectations were met and exceeded. And let me tell you, if the first chapter doesn't have female readers drooling all over Wade, I don't know what will. It definitely had me wiping the drool of my e-reader...but then again, I fell for Wade from the moment he showed up in DOUBLE PLAY. If you don't end up loving Wade after SLOW HEAT, something is definitely wrong with you. Seriously wrong.

I love Jill Shalvis' writing! It flows easily and smoothly. Before you know it you're entranced and before I knew it I was captivated by the story of Sam and Wade. The humor is subtle and charming, the banter between Sam and Wade is exhilarating and the chemistry between them is hot and spine tingling sensual. The love scenes are a great mix of intensity and fun and they're hot, really hot. Sam and Wade get it on in a bathroom, a car, on the couch, on the beach, in the shower...really anywhere but in a bed. That was quite remarkable and fun to read. And like in DOUBLE PLAY there was a case of underwear napping again. A different piece of underwear this time, but it was just as funny.

Next to the romance and the hot scenes, Jill Shalvis again proved to be my teacher of all things baseball. With the Pacific Heat books she makes baseball interesting, exciting and even hot! And she makes me look up more sports (baseball) romances out there. The baseball quotes at the beginning of every chapter were great and some were very amusing. But I also loved seeing the baseball games through Sam's eyes. Those scenes were amazing and fun, and the "Powder-puff" inning at the charity baseball game was hilariously entertaining.

What could have been a clichéd kind of a rich, pampered, girl born with silver spoon in her mouth and a boy from wrong side of the track story is lifted to something much more by Jill Shalvis' witty writing and her ability to convey emotions and portray character depth in a story with true to life and extremely likeable characters. Slowly and thoroughly, through dialogue and action, the reader gets to know the Wade and Sam hiding behind their outer masks. SLOW HEAT was perfectly balanced and it was fun and witty with the right amount of emotional stuff. And the end was just wonderful! It made me tear up and my romantic heart just soared!

Wade smiled. It was his professional smile, the one that could melt a woman’s panties at fifty paces and make men wish that they had half his athletic prowess, and it was a charmer. She knew its potency, braced herself for it, and still felt her panties begin to melt.

His hair was still damp, and because he was on the wrong side of a haircut, it lay against the nape of his neck. He smelled like himself, which was to say amazing, and his opened shirt kept giving her a peek-a-boo glimpse of those rock-hard pecs and eight-pack abs that could make a grown woman weep with wanting. The muscles bunched as he reached out to tug on her hand. Though she wanted to remain far, far away so that she didn’t actually fall to her knees and try to lick him like a lollipop, she allowed him to pull her down next to him.

"Funny thing about ten-year-olds. It’s hard to keep your distance.”
“Yeah, especially with that one. He’s got a way of worming right in.” He pressed a hand over his heart. “Here.”
She worked at not melting and failed miserably. “Are you just trying to butter me up?”
“No, I’m not crazy about butter. I’ll whip-cream you up though. Anytime.” She shook her head even as her knees wobbled at the thought.

Rating: 9 out of 10
January 27, 2010

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" was inspired by last night's Twitter announcements: 2 covers and a contest. These are all books I'm looking forward to, especially the Lauren Dane book. Cope captured my heart the minute he set foot in LAID BARE and as I am now reading COMING UNDONE I treasure every page his name is mentioned *sigh* His cover is just gorgeous and utterly lickable. This from me, a reader who isn't easily swayed by covers, says a LOT!

The first in a brand new paranormal series beginning in 2010
THERON – Dark haired, duty bound and deceptively deadly. He’s the leader of the Argonauts, an elite group of guardians that defends the immortal realm from threats of the Underworld.

From the moment he walked into the club, Casey knew this guy was different. Men like that just didn’t exist in real life—silky shoulder-length hair, chest impossibly broad, and a predatory manner that just screamed dark and dangerous. He was looking for something. Her.

She was the one. She had the mark. Casey had to die so his kind could live, and it was Theron’s duty to bring her in. But even as a 200-year-old descendent of Hercules, he wasn’t strong enough to resist the pull in her fathomless eyes, to tear himself away from the heat of her body.

As war with the Underworld nears, someone will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Author: Elisabeth Naughton
Title: Marked
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Love Spell
Release date: April 2010
Series: Eternal Guardians, book 1

Future books in the series:
02. Entwined (release: August 2010)

Welcome to The Blades of the Rose.
To most people, the realm of magic is the stuff of nursery rhymes and dusty libraries. But for Capt. Gabriel Huntley, it’s become quite real and quite dangerous…

The vicious attack Capt. Gabriel Huntley witnesses in a dark alley sparks a chain of events that will take him to the ends of the Earth and beyond—where what is real and what is imagined become terribly confused. And frankly, Huntley couldn’t be more pleased. Intrigue, danger, and a beautiful woman in distress—just what he needs.

Raised thousands of miles from England, Thalia Burgess is no typical Victorian lady. A good thing, because a proper lady would have no hope of recovering the priceless magical artifact Thalia is after. Huntley’s assistance might come in handy, though she has to keep him in the dark. But this distractingly handsome soldier isn’t easy to deceive…

Author: Zoe Archer
Title: Warrior
Genre: Historical Action Adventure
Publisher: Zebra
Release date: September 2010
Series: Blades of the Rose, book 1

Other and future books in the series:
0.5 The Undying Heart (Prequel in the anthology: Half Past Dead)
02. Scoundrel (release: October 2010)
03. Rebel (release: November 2010)
04. Stranger (release: December 2010)

Ella Tipton is a survivor. In the wake of an attack that left her nearly dead, she’s spent each day putting her life back together. Once vibrant and outgoing, she’s needed to reclaim the best parts of who she was while retaining the hard won lessons. There hasn’t been room for any romantic entanglements, even if she were ready. Still, it didn’t mean she had to stop sneaking looks at Mister Tall, Dark and Tattooed himself.

Security professional Andrew Copeland isn’t quite sure when his jones for the lovely and decidedly skittish Ella developed. He’s known her for years, has watched her triumph over the pain she’d been dealt. Cope is no stranger to women, but he knows the nervous flush he gets every time he talks to her is different than any attraction he’s had in the past. Determined to get Ella to let him in, Andy does the one thing he can think of to get close: he offers her hands-on training in self-defense.

While Ella’s sure he’s just being nice, the prospect of being able to touch him and gain the tools to push away the last vestiges of her fear is more than she can resist. Soon enough, Cope shows Ella his feelings are far more than friendly and re-ignites something deep inside her. Before long desire and love turn them both inside out.

Author: Lauren Dane
Title: Inside Out
Genre: Erotic Romance/Sexy Contemporary
Publisher: Berkley Heat
Release date: November 2010
Series: Connected to LAID BARE and COMING UNDONE

Reviews and future books in the series:
01. Laid Bare
02. Coming Undone (released: January 2010, reading it now, review to come soon)
04. Adrian's book (to be contracted)
January 26, 2010

Back Cover:
They were caught in the crossfire between danger and desire...


Chris Waldron, an elite U.S. Navy SEAL, is used to getting out of tight spots. But all his years of training can’t prepare him for the crisis he now faces. When a mission to rescue a kidnapped ambassador and his wife goes tragically awry, an FBI hostage negotiator is killed and Chris finds himself at the center of the ensuing investigation. Leading the charge is the blistering hot special agent and onetime lover who has re-ignited their mutual attraction.

Jamie Michaels is determined to keep things professional with Chris Waldron this time. But seeing him bruised and battered in that hospital bed has rekindled all those feelings she thought she’d left behind during their brief, passionate encounter in Africa. Now Jamie must keep her craving for danger at bay as she spearheads a search for the truth that just may blow Chris’s career to bits—and put them both in the crosshairs of an unseen enemy.

Note from reviewer:
If you have not read TOO HOT TO HOLD please read on with caution and at your own risk, as there may be spoilers concerning characters who first appeared as secondary characters in that book.

Chris Waldron, a Navy SEAL sniper, wakes up in a US military base infirmary in Djibouti after a Joint Task Force hostage rescue operation goes awfully wrong. People are killed, both hostages and members of the Task Force. Circumstances surrounding the Op are suspicious and the sole two survivors are Chris and Cam, a Delta operative. Then Jamie Michaels, the woman Chris had an intense but brief affair with 2 months earlier when they were on a mission to save his brother and her sister, turns out to be the FBI agent leading the investigation into the death of the FBI negotiator who was part of the Task Force. They said goodbye in Congo 2 months before but before long it's clear that their affair had some profound consequences. Soon Chris and Cam are both cleared but that doesn't mean the story ends there. It's just the beginning as Jamie’s past catches up with her and threatens everyone she has ever dared to love.

Chris has been a SEAL for years, his skills as a sniper are honed to perfection but personally he has trouble dealing with his psychic abilities. He has trouble accepting and integrating his "gift" into his live. He feels haunted by it because it's something he can't control and it’s hard to deal with the less pleasant part of his gift when he foresees bad things about people dear to him. He may seem laid back but the intensity comes through nice and clear. Determination and stubbornness linger just beneath the surface, waiting to erupt when triggered.

Jamie is practical, logical and stubborn. You would think Jamie is just an FBI agent like any other, but nothing is further from the truth. Traumatic experiences in her youth make that she is always on her guard and vigilant. She has built a wall of protection around herself and her feelings. Chris has a very hard time trying to penetrate that wall. She can't trust other people. No one...but she wants to trust Chris and ultimately she has to trust Chris.

To say I loved HOLD ON TIGHT would be a huge understatement...I really have no words to express what HOLD ON TIGHT did to me. Books like these are why I read. Even thinking about the end of HOLD ON TIGHT, tears jump back into my eyes at the beauty and completeness of it. I am still speechless and in awe. It was the perfect combination of suspense, romance and action, with just the right amount of unpredictability to it. It is an ode to strong women. Women, who make it through the most horrible things but still manage to come out on top, live and love. It was the sublime conclusion to a wonderful trilogy.

There are many secondary characters and again and consistently multiple story lines and POVs are part of this book. Where in HARD TO HOLD and TOO HOT TO HOLD they were good, didn't bother me and gave the books that something extra to make them great books. In HOLD ON TIGHT I wouldn't have wanted to miss any of them, the book would not be complete without the multiple POVs. They were so perfectly executed that I am still wondering what hit me. The plotlines were once again threaded throughout the book to come together and fall into place in the very last part of the book. Few of my hunches turned out the way I thought they would. For example, the PJ (Jamie's sister) and Saint (Chris' CO) hook-up. I called this one the minute PJ entered the scene and showed up at Jamie's doorstep, way before she and Saint even met. Or who was threatening Jamie. But these two were about the only ones I called right. Unexpected revelations and twists made the end extremely fast-paced and filled with action. I just couldn't stop reading as I went from surprise to laughter, from fear to anger and from arousal to tears.

Yet again the multiple POVs and storylines really worked for me and made for a coherent trilogy that was set up in the first installment, developed further in the second part, only to end in a well-rounded, perfect third and closing book. I loved that the POVs are all elaborate enough to really get to know the characters, their feelings, their backgrounds and their pasts. I've said it before in the reviews of the other books comprising this trilogy: they enrich and layer the stories and make them so much more than SEAL meets girl, they avert danger, fall in love and live happily ever after. The love scenes, all of them, had a sense of urgency, desperation and intensity, which made them fit the rest of the book and the characters perfectly.

I loved the equality between the women and men in this trilogy. The men stand behind their women, the women stand behind their men. They handle things and deal with their problems, external or internal, together and there's no overpowering or dominance. They are all strong and brave people but not overly so. In TOO HOT TO HOLD Stephanie Tyler surprised me with the action and suspense. In HOLD ON TIGHT it was with the powerful emotions and the characters that she blew me away. She showed me the men and the women behind the tough military and law enforcement façades. She took me into their lives and heads and showed me their fears, hopes, dreams, insecurities and desires. She made them realistic and believable, which is a remarkable feat and it was carried out to perfection. The combination of strength and vulnerability in all the main characters is written so perfectly that I am still in awe.

HARD TO HOLD, TOO HOT TO HOLD and HOLD ON TIGHT are three very different installments of this trilogy. On their own they are great books to read but together they form that consistent and complete whole to make the trilogy utterly commendable. Initially I had a very hard time deciding which of these books I liked the most but after finishing HOLD ON TIGHT I can honestly and profoundly declare it my favorite of the three. Hands. Down. The small things that kept HARD TO HOLD and TOO HOT TO HOLD from being perfect reads, weren’t present in this one. No inconsistencies; not even the smallest one. An enticing little bit of bad guy POV I missed in HARD TO HOLD. The brotherly connection I missed in TOO HOT TO HOLD was back full force and I welcomed and loved it. The brothers were amazing together, their bond deepened more and became even stronger than in the previous books.

In this book there is no primary hero/heroine couple. It revolves around a group of people who are all equally important to the plot, no matter if they had a large or small word count in their POV. And two couples formed the foundation of both that plot and more importantly, the romance. Neither is more or less important than the other. Both couples took up their own space in my heart, broke it and then put it back together with an ending that was just perfect. I have no other word for it. It was closure to a beginning that was made in HARD TO HOLD, expanded in TOO HOT TO HOLD and perfected in HOLD ON TIGHT.

All added up I couldn't do anything but rate this book a perfect read. It definitely deserves the 10 out of 10 and contrary to many other perfect reads this time it didn't give me a hero to add to the favorites list, but a heroine...and not even the one mentioned on the back cover of this book: I am adding PJ to my favorite heroines list. For me she was the character who stood out the most in this book, and believe me, that is saying a lot because all the others weren't too shabby either. PJ is an enigma. She seems to be harsh and volatile but there is something about her that makes her likeable at the same time. To me she is the female equivalent of Nick: aloof, tough and straightforward but underneath there's a caring, soft woman who is searching for something that lasts, someone who will love and accept her. Someone she won't feel the urge to run from scared of messing up their lives. She finds this someone in Saint. Saint who totally blindsided me as I wasn't impressed by him in HARD TO HOLD but in HOLD ON TIGHT he just took my breath away in every sense of the word.

I am literally feeling sad to leave these all the couples from these three books behind now that the trilogy is completed. I secretly hope to get glimpses of at least the brothers and their women in Stephanie Tyler's next SEAL book as it's about Cam and loosely connected to this trilogy. I am beyond ready to venture further in this military romance world Stephanie Tyler has created. This first taste definitely has sparked a craving for more.

With the Hold trilogy Stephanie Tyler has made me a devoted fan and an extremely satisfied and happy reader. She has given me a trilogy to hold dear and treasure forever.

There were two things Chris knew well: his rifle and a woman’s body. With either he could spend hours studying their intricacies, their individual quirks and hot spots…their flaws. He knew when either one was going to jam up and let him down or settle in to give him the shot of his life. Rifles and women –he loved them both, and not necessarily in that order.

“What do you want, Jamie?”
“You,” she whispered. “Can that just be enough for now?”
“Yeah, that can be enough.”
She watched his face carefully. “You saved my life.”
“And you’re saving mine right now. Every time you touch me or say my name, you make me feel human again,” he said quietly. “So go ahead, make me feel.”

A bit of PJ and Saint:
Tonight he didn’t bother to get up, laid with one arm over his head and the other hand moving up and down his rock-hard erection. Even without looking, he knew she was there in the dark, watching. It was hot and dirty and he wanted her to do more than watch, wished she’d push her way into the room and into his bed, the way she’d pushed herself unwittingly into his life, just when he needed someone the most.

She moaned into his mouth, tried to remember, how long it had been since she’d actually kissed someone, and couldn’t.
But she knew no one else had ever kissed her like this, like they owned her. Saint had everything it took to back up that claim –and more.

Rating: 10 out of 10


The Giveaway:
Question: The Hold Trilogy contains books that have multiple POVs. I adored this in these books and now I'm curious: Do you like multiple POVs? If so, what do you like about them? If not, what is your reason for not liking them? If you've never read books with multiple POVs, would you want to?

The rules are really simple. Answer the above question(s) and one random commenter will receive a brand new copy of HOLD ON TIGHT. I received it last week but as I also received a copy for review from Stephanie Tyler I decided to give my copy away to a random commenter on this review. The giveaway is open to anyone, worldwide, who answers the above question. No answer, no entry for the giveaway...

You have until Saturday January 30th to comment. I will draw a winner on Sunday January 31st.
Please leave a way to contact you, either in your blogger profile or in the comment. Please note that if I do not find your email in your profile or the comment, I will select another winner.
January 25, 2010

Back Cover:
Together, they’re an explosion waiting to happen

He's an elite Navy SEAL living a risky double life. She's the gorgeous reporter hot on his trail.

Nick Devane’s life is one big, classified secret. Until Kaylee Smith busts his covert world wide open, threatening to blow his cover. Digging around where she doesn’t belong could get them both killed…especially when the beautiful journalist uncovers top-secret information that could set off a global disaster if it falls into the wrong hands. Nick can’t let that happen, even if he has to battle deadly mercenaries and an irresistible attraction that is all consuming…

Kaylee didn’t expect her search for her missing ex-husband to lead to this sexy and dangerous SEAL. Now she’s teamed up with Nick on a mission that takes them into deepest Africa--and into the middle of a massive government cover-up. With rogue agents hot on their trail, Kaylee’s going to unearth all Nick’s secrets. Before they both vanish without a trace. Before the passion burning between them sets off an explosion no one may survive…

Kaylee Smith is an investigative reporter and the widow of an Army Ranger who saved Nick Devane's life 6 years earlier, Aaron. When Kaylee gets a mysterious phone call from someone claiming to be Aaron she seeks out the last person who saw him alive: Nick. She wants Nick to help her find out what happened to Aaron and why she is being targeted. Nick is very reluctant to help Kaylee, especially when he discovers she's a journalist. Nick has deep and dark secrets to hide and a reporter is the last person he wants sniffing around him, no matter how strong the attraction between them might be. But when two agents try to kill Kaylee, his protectiveness overcomes the need to keep his secrets hidden and he accompanies Kaylee to Africa, to the last place where Aaron was seen alive. Kaylee and Nick get involved in a situation that is far more complicated and dangerous than they could ever imagine and they encounter both unexpected enemies and surprising allies.

Nick and Kaylee have more in common than they think. They both enjoy hotwiring cars and taking them for joyrides, they both have a wild streak and distrust authority and therefore both have had their brushes with the law.

Nick is a navy SEAL and a wild child. He is curt, aloof and has a disdain for clothing, to which I absolutely had no objections; the more naked Nick, the better. Solitude is another thing he can't handle well and he tries to avoid it by living fast and loose. Stephanie Tyler told me Nick was a PITA to write; well he certainly wasn't to read. Admittedly, he is stubborn, headstrong, rebellious and obstinate but underneath the cool, nothing-touches-me attitude there's a really sweet man. He’s protective of whom he cares for and tender and caring when he thinks no one is noticing.

Kaylee is strong and bold. She has guts and a defiant streak. She's impulsive and was 18 when she married Aaron to escape a life of neglect and hardship. But early in Kaylee's POV there are hints that her marriage to Aaron wasn't a happy one but it was better than the life she had before so she stuck with it.

TOO HOT TO HOLD is the follow-up to HARD TO HOLD and what a follow-up it is. I was smitten with Nick from the moment he set foot in HARD TO HOLD and was dying to read his book. When it finally arrived I dived straight in and only came up for air when really necessary. This book had a totally different vibe compared to the first book of the trilogy. Nick is very different from Jake and Kaylee is very different from Isabelle. To be completely honest, I connected more with Isabelle than with Kaylee, which is one of the reasons I loved HARD TO HOLD more than TOO HOT TO HOLD. But where the connection with Kaylee was lacking, the one with Nick definitely made up for it.

Same as with HARD TO HOLD in this second book of the trilogy there are multiple POVs and storylines. It comprises no less than 9 POVs; with Nick and Kaylee's being the two most important and prominent ones and the ones with the highest count. But there are more and very intriguing storylines; two of them are 2 secondary romances. One is continued from HARD TO HOLD and rounded off in this book. The other is the start of the romance between Nick's brother Chris and Jamie, an FBI agent who plays an important role in the storyline surrounding Aaron. This storyline around Aaron is enticing, and intriguing from the start. You want to know what the deal is there. Is he really dead or just missing? What did he do 6 years ago to leave Nick so shaken up? What did he do to Kaylee during their marriage? These where a few of the questions that immediately popped into my head while I was reading and they all get an answer.

While some readers may find the multiple POVs and storylines distracting or bothersome, I didn’t, I really loved them. The multiple POVs and storylines in these books gave them a richer feel, they are not book-filler storylines and they are excellently executed. Seemingly unimportant or unnecessary side plots or POVs all come together at some point because they are all connected in a way and every POV plays a connecting or clarifying role towards the major plot and the romance in some manner, not only within one installment but some also covering the whole trilogy, starting in book one going into book two and connected to side plots in book three. Without them the books would be as emotionally powerful to me as they are now.

Stephanie Tyler has the talent to connect and weave the plots and POVs together like few authors are able to. And she leaves no question unanswered and no loose ends. With every turn of the page a new surprising development came at me, throwing me for a loop or confirming some of my lingering speculations and I wanted to whisper: "and the plot thickens...” Some of my hunches were correct but there were others where I was totally wrong. For example I was way wrong with my hunch about Aaron and Clutch, while reading one of the secondary POVs, but what it ultimately turned out to be was so much better than my hunch.

As you will notice I don't tell much about the plots in this book. That's because anything more elaborate than I've already told would spoil the fun of discovering and disentangling the plotlines and the connections between them. Suffice to say that nothing is what it seems, unexpected and unlikely alliances needed to uncover what is going on and betrayal comes from where you least suspect. Because of the connecting plotlines and some of them cover more than 1 installment I do advise people to read this trilogy in order. If not it could be confusing and I you do read in order the enjoyment of Stephanie Tyler's writing and talent will be so much greater. She is making this trilogy a tight-knit whole and still each book has its own romance and primary plot preventing them from being carbon copies of each other.

One thing I missed in the first part of the book was Chris and Jake. Because of the prominent presence of Nick and Chris in Jake's story I was expecting the same in Nick's story but they did not make an appearance until over 100 pages into the book. I loved the brotherly banter and the vibe it gave to HARD TO HOLD and missed this for a great part in TOO HOT TO HOLD. Fortunately not long after I was missing the banter and the brothers, Chris and Jake did make an appearance and the brotherly interaction I missed appeared again, making me a very happy reader.

Though less emotional than HARD TO HOLD, Nick's story did create lumps in my throat several times. It was just a little bit less intense than with Isabelle and Jake and I think this is because what Isabelle went through was so traumatic it gave HARD TO HOLD that more urgent and intense vibe. TOO HOT TO HOLD is scorching hot from the start. The sexual tension between Nick and Kaylee is just as instantaneous as it was between Jake and Isabelle but Nick and Kaylee are in a situation where they can act upon it immediately and do they ever!

This is not to say TOO HOT TO HOLD was less captivating, by no means! I was fooled a bit by the slower pace in the first part of the book but in the last part, when all the little pieces came together and everything fell into place in a fast-paced and action-packed conclusion, I was as enthralled by TOO HOT TO HOLD as I was with HARD TO HOLD. At the end there was closure and a HEA for Kaylee and Nick but for Jamie and Chris things are just getting started and I'm more than ready to see what will happen with them in HOLD ON TIGHT.

With TOO HOT TO HOLD Stephanie Tyler has kept herself in the upper regions of my romantic suspense/military romance favorites. If you like action and intrigue, if you love to tackle a story from multiple angles and if you like your heroes stubborn, hot and wild, then you shouldn't miss TOO HOT TO HOLD because it brings you all this and more.


If she’d been writing an article about him, she could already picture the opening paragraph:
Every bit the warrior. Tall, broad shoulders, an aristocratic face –handsome…and it is as though Nick Devane should be modeling menswear instead of running around the world with weaponry.

He noted the black leather pants and the vintage AC/DC T-shirt the second he’d laid eyes on her, and yes, Kaylee Smith might just be the most dangerous thing he’d run across on a non-mission basis. Part angel, part hellcat, and shit, it was not cool when he realized that one night wouldn’t be enough time with her, not even close.

This has nothing to do with Aaron,” he told her before he brought his mouth down on hers, swept her into his arms –and the surge of desire was enough to make her knees buckle.
The man tasted like sin, something she shouldn’t need or crave or want. Something she couldn’t resist.

Little bit of Jamie and Chris:
So the CO had gotten rid of her by sending in the distraction. And Chris was distracting, so much so that she wanted to freeze time and just stare at the way one of his eyes was a deep cerulean blue and the other an intense green –eyes that made him look slightly unbalanced but somehow handsome in a crazy, rock star kind of fashion.

Rating: 8.8 out of 10
January 24, 2010

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Author: Shiloh Walker
Title: Broken
Series: Sequel to FRAGILE
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Printed galleys (will be released in Tradesize Paperback)
Release date: March 2, 2010
Received for Review/Won in an ARC contest at the author's blog

The national bestselling author of Fragile returns with a luscious new blend of sex and suspense.

The hardest battles are fought within...

Quinn Rafferty is working as a bounty hunter for a private detective agency in St. Louis when a new neighbor catches his eye. He's drawn to her-but he has his own soul to mend before he can worry about anyone else.

Sarah McElyea is on the run, but not for the usual reasons a woman goes on the lam. She has a plan for her future. And as much as she finds herself attracted to her gruff, tough neighbor, she can't risk telling him the secrets she's hiding.

But Quinn must get closer to Sarah when she turns out to be the target of his new missing persons case, and both Quinn and Sarah will have to expose their true feelings-as well as their fragile hearts-if their love is to survive.

Author: Ben Elton
Title: Chart Throb
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Format: Tradesize Paperback
Release date: 2006
Bought at a book fair

"Chart Throb" is the ultimate pop quest. Ninety five thousand hopefuls. Three judges. Just one winner. And that's Colin Simms, the genius behind the show. Colin always wins because Colin writes the rules. But this year, as he sits smugly in judgement upon the mingers, clingers and blingers whom he has pre-selected in his carefully scripted 'search' for a star, he has no idea that the rules are changing. The 'real' is about to be put back into 'reality' television and Colin and his fellow judges (the nation's favourite mum and the other bloke) are about to become ex-factors themselves. Ben Elton, author of "Popcorn and Dead Famous" returns to blistering comic satire with a savagely hilarious deconstruction of the world of modern television talent shows. "Chart Throb" is about one winner and a whole bunch of losers.

Author: Megan Hart & Lauren Dane
Title: Taking Care of Business
Series: Prequel to NO RESERVATIONS
Genre: Erotic Romance
Format: Tradesize Paperback
Release date: 2008
Bought via The Bookdepository

One conference, two friends, two men who know how to take care of business.

After leaving the wrong man, Leah Griffin’s not ready to look for the right one. All she wants is to survive the conference she’s planning and spend some time with her best friend Kate Edwards. She’s not expecting the conference services manager to be so tall, dark and handsome…or so eager to please. It’s Brandon Long’s job to make Leah happy, but after a scorching interlude in her hotel room, neither can deny business has become pleasure.

Smart, driven and successful attorney, Katherine Edwards has spent her life making the right choices. Directly counter to those right choices, she’s involved in a long distance, secret love affair with a co-worker. Charles Dixon is a bad choice she can’t help but make – over and over. A conference and a promotion bring Kate back to Pennsylvania and suddenly, Dix wants far more than a few nights in random hotel rooms. He wants something permanent and Katherine has to figure out if sometimes a wrong choice isn’t exactly what a woman needs.

Author: Larissa Ione
Title: Ecstasy Unveiled
Series: Demonica Series, book 4
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: January 2010
Bought via The Bookdepository

Lore is a Seminus half-breed demon who has been forced to act as his dark master's assassin. Now to earn his freedom and save his sister's life, he must complete one last kill. Powerful and ruthless, he'll stop at nothing to carry out this deadly mission.

Idess is an earthbound angel with a wild side, sworn to protect the human Lore is targeting. She's determined to thwart her wickedly handsome adversary by any means necessary-even if that means risking her vow of eternal chastity. But what begins as a simple seduction soon turns into a passion that leaves both angel and demon craving complete surrender.
Torn between duty and desire, Lore and Idess must join forces as they battle their attraction for each other. Because an enemy from the past is rising again-one hellbent on vengeance and unthinkable destruction.

Author: Christine Feehan
Title: Street Game
Series: Ghostwalkers Series, book 8
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: January 2010
Bought via The Bookdespository

For Mack McKinley and his team of GhostWalker killing machines, urban warfare is an art. But despite a hard-won knowledge of the San Francisco streets, Mack knows from experience that too many things can still go wrong. Danger was just another part of the game - and now he's come face-to-face with a woman who can play just as tough.

She's Jaimie, a woman with a sapphire stare so potent it can destroy a man. Years ago she and Mack had a history - volatile, erotic and electric. Then she vanished. But now she's walked back into Mack's life again, as a spy with more secrets than are good for her. Against all odds, she's hooking up with Mack one more time to take on an enemy that could destroy them both, or bring them back together in one hot, no-holds-barred adrenaline rush.

Author: Annette Blair
Title: Naked Dragon
Series: Works like Magick Series, book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romanctic Comedy
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: January 2010
Bought via The Bookdepository

In Salem, human magick has thinned the veil between the planes to a permeable mist, forming a portal into the city, allowing time travelers and chameleons of the universe to enter there.

Bastian Dragonelli, once a Roman warrior turned dragon, is the first of his legion to be returned to earth, a man. So his brothers can also be saved and sent to earth, Bastian must reclaim the magick of Andra, Goddess of Hope, who sacrificed hers to transform him. He must seek his heart mate and make her quest his own. But the dark, powerful Killian, Sorceress of Chaos, who turned his legion into dragons and skewed his transition back into a man, is hot on his heels.

McKenna Greylock, the last non-magickal descendant of Ciarra, a witch who survived Salem's hanging times, needs a jack-of-all-trades to help turn her dilapidated Victorian into a bed and breakfast so she doesn't lose her home and her family's centuries-old legacy.

Enter McKenna's cousin, Vivica Quinlan, Ciarra's most magickal descendent, owner of the Works Like Magick Employment Agency. Vivica has a gift for matching human employers with magickal employees. Like Ciarra before her, Vivica knows when magickal supernatural ancients are about to arrive. She greets them and acclimates them to life, and to making a living, in Salem.

Besides Killian's threatening presence, Bastian's life is also complicated by McKenna, his guardian dragon, a troublemaking fairy, and a case of culture shock. Bastian also has a problem with his man lance. It won't behave at all the way he remembered it should. Not at all...

Author: Judi McCoy
Title: One Night with a Goddess
Series: Goddess Series, book 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance (with a dash of Paranormal)
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: May 2007
Bought at a book fair

I admit life's been very sweet on Mount Olympus these past few centuries . . . until now. Zeus is convinced that I'm not doing enough as the Muse of Happiness, and I have to prove myself by spending a year among mortals. Now I'm working as a wedding planner. In Chicago.

Helping these lovebirds find happily-ever-after is one thing, but putting up with Matthew Castleberry is another story. The sexy doctor thinks I'm out to fleece his grandmother, my boss, and he's made it very clear he intends to keep an eye on me. His gaze may be more heated than wary, with promises of sensual delights . . . so perhaps I'll give him one unforgettable night with a goddess. But what if one night isn't enough for either of us? If I fall in love, I might never get back home to Mount Olympus!

Author: Julie Garwood
Title: The Secret
Series: Highlands' Lairds, book 1
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Release date: May 1992
Bought at a book fair

Judith Hampton was as beautiful as she was proud and loyal. Her dear Scottish friend from childhood was about to give birth, and Judith had promised to be at her side. But there was another, private reason for the journey from her bleak English home to the Highlands: to meet the father she had never known, the Laird Maclean. Nothing prepared her, however, for the sight of the Scottish barbarian who was to escort her into his land...Iain Maitland, Laird of his clan, a man more powerfully compelling than any she had ever encountered.

In a spirited clash of wills and customs, Judith reveled in the melting bliss of Iain's searching kisses, his passionate caresses. Perplexed by her sprightly defiance, bemused by her tender nature, Iain felt his soul growing into the light and warmth of her love. Surely nothing would wrench her from the affection and trust of Iain and his clan...not even the truth about her father, a devastating secret that could shatter the boldest alliance, and the most glorious of loves!

January 20, 2010

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 the upcoming release of the first book in a new series by Allison Brennan. She normally writes romantic supsense/crime fiction but her new Seven Deadly Sins series is considered Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy. I like to call it Supernatural Thriller as she does herself. I pre-ordered the book as soon as I heard about it and can't wait to read it as I am a sucker for thrillers/crime solving and love a dash of paranormal too.

A coven of witches well versed in the black arts unleash the Seven Deadly Sins on earth - as incarnate demons with an agenda. Raised a witch in her mother's powerful coven, Moira O'Donnell ran away when she learned her mother planned to sacrifice her to be "mediator" between the underworld and all united covens. Forsaking her power after her lover was killed by magic, she must stop her mother from controlling the Seven Deadly Sins or the balance of power between the worlds will shift forever to the dark side.

Author: Allison Brennan
Title: Original Sin
Genre: Supernatural Thriller
Publisher: Ballantine
Release date: January 26, 2010
Series: Seven Deadly Sins, book 1

Future books in the series:
02. Carnal Sin (June 22, 2010)
A coven of witches well versed in the black arts unleash the Seven Deadly Sins on earth - as incarnate demons with an agenda. When straying men are murdered, Moira and Rafe Cooper, an ex-seminarian battling demons of his own, confront a succubus who's far more deadly than they imagined.
03. Mortal Sin (September 28, 2010)
No cover or blurb available at this time
January 17, 2010

This ebook will be released on January 19th with Samhain Publishing
Back Cover: 
Pushing the sensual limits can set off all kinds of alarms…

Inheriting her grandmother’s home is a dream come true for web designer Maxine Turner. She’s looking forward to a little freedom from the constant demands of her beloved, crazy mob of a family. When vandals expose just how vulnerable she is living alone, she seeks help.

Ryan Claymore’s well-thought-out life was wrenched out from under him when responsibility for his special-needs stepbrother landed on his shoulders. Going from military man to businessman hasn’t been easy. He counts himself lucky he’s found Maxine to trade his security-system knowledge for her web site expertise.

The red-hot chemistry that sizzles between them comes from out of the blue, and they both fight a losing battle to resist. Even the secret Ryan hides isn’t enough to keep Maxine from working her way into his heart—and his bed.

But something else might tear them apart. Whoever seems determined to destroy her home, and her sanity along with it.

Warning: Realistic multiple orgasm sex scenes, men getting in touch with their emotions, brothers being—well—brothers, and a very tempting back porch swing…you have been warned.

TURN IT ON was my first unsolicited and non-win ARC request and I'm pretty proud of that. When Vivian Arend asked if I was interested in reviewing her upcoming new contemporary release I jumped at the chance. First because it was a contemporary romance, a genre, which holds a dear place in my reading heart and second because I had Vivian Arend on my radar for a while but an earlier opportunity to sample her work hadn't occurred yet.

TURN IT ON is the story of Maxine Turner and Ryan Claymore. Ryan used to be in the army but family circumstances forced him to retire his commission and start a security installation firm. Maxine runs a PR and advertising/web design business with her twin brother and she has just inherited her grandma's old home. But strange things are happening at the place and when her and Ryan's paths cross professionally because Ryan hires Turner Networking Team, she decides to use his expertise and hire him in turn to install a security system in the old house. From the start sparks fly between them that have nothing to do with the jobs they're doing for each other but their respective familial responsibilities are threatening the budding feelings.

Ryan is truly a good guy, he may seem a bit gruff but that's just the outside. He is caring, loyal and very romantic. He left the army to take care of his handicapped half-brother who was gravely injured in a car accident that killed his mother. I was impressed by Ryan's care and love for his brother and the way he tried to adjust his life so he'd be and remain able to do so. The portrayal of Carl and his disability was beautifully written and touched my emotions deeply.

Maxine is a charming, vibrant, independent young woman. She has a good life, working and enjoying it, though she sometimes wishes her family would realize that she is a grown-up woman capable of living her life as she wishes to. Despite her confident demeanor she has a kind of sweet shyness over her. Not the innocent kind but just enough to let her inhibitions and a little bit of inexperience shine through. Ryan is the one who helps her overcome this with his sexual confidence and straightforwardness.

I loved Ryan and Maxine. The chemistry between them was hot and immediate. The sex scenes were sexy and alluring. Ryan has a romantic heart but he's also pretty intense, sexually. He goes for what he wants. He doesn't embellish and is pretty explicit about how he wants things. I love that in a hero.

Family plays a big role in TURN IT ON. Both on Ryan's side and on Maxine's. With Ryan it's the responsibility for Carl and the fact that Carl is the only family he has left. With Maxine it's quite the opposite. She has a huge family and all the members of it make demands on her and it's hard for her not to let them run her life. For a story of that isn't overly long there were many secondary characters, some just walk-ons but others playing their part in either the romance or the plot. Of the secondary characters Carl, Maxwell and his wife Natasha were the ones who captured my attention and interest the most. As the back cover copy indicates there’s a small suspense plot threaded through the romance. It was a little bit predictable and guessing who the perpetrator was, was easy but as the plot wasn’t the focus of the book, that didn't bother me much.

My first encounter with Vivian Arend's work was a very nice one. TURN IT ON is a very sweet and moving contemporary romance in which emotional moments alternate with hot and sexy ones. The instant chemistry didn't only occur between Maxine and Ryan but also between Vivian Arend’s writing and me. I was pulled into the story from the get-go and was captivated by the smooth, easy and seductive writing style and story.

TURN IT ON is about taking chances, living life and enjoying special things and moments in it. It's the kind of contemporary romance I love to read. The romance is captivating and emotional, the characters are easy to relate to and the physical attraction is hot. Vivian Arend's writing style is one I am very partial to after reading TURN IT ON and I've already gotten myself some more of her work while waiting for the book on Maxwell, the other Turner twin.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Due to illness this week's in my mailbox won't be in the elaborate format I normally use to do it and I'll just list the covers for you. I promise next week I'll be back to my usual format with the blurbs and book info.

ARCs Received for review:

  • Random by Craig Robertson was received through BookChickCity for the Thriller/Suspense Challenge
  • Hold on Tight by Stephanie Tyler was sent by the author for review.


  • Scoundrel's Kiss by Carrie Lofty I won in a blogcontest

Bought via the Bookdepository:

  • Guilty Pleasure by Lora Leigh
  • Fragile by Shiloh Walker
  • What a Scoundrel Wants by Carrie Lofty
  • Midnight Resolutions by Kathleen O'Reilly
  • Face Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan
  • Air Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan
  • I'm Watching You by Mary Burton
  • Dead Ringer by Mary Burton
  • Dying Scream by Mary Burton

January 15, 2010

...Pulling off the ultimate con... if they can keep from pulling off their clothes.

Keely McKay knows Jack—and Jack Donohue is a certified pain in her Wranglers. The lone girl in the prolific McKay family, Keely needs another man giving her orders like she needs a hole in her boot. What she does need is a restoration specialist so she can open her physical therapy clinic—and prove she’s left her wild-child days behind. That means dealing with buttoned-down, uptight Jack.

Jack is this close to securing a career make-or-break project, until he learns his lack of marital status puts him out of contention. When the notoriously hot-tempered and hot-bodied Keely begs him for help, he proposes a crazy idea. He’ll oversee her project—if she acts the part of his loving fiancée.
Their sizzling lust makes it all too easy to go from butting heads to knocking boots—but outside the bedroom they’re as mismatched as ever. The McKays remind Jack of the humble upbringing he left behind, and cowgirl Keely feels she doesn’t measure up to Jack’s big-city lifestyle.

When the dust settles, Jack and Keely must face the fact they’re not fooling anyone but themselves—or they’ll risk losing the real deal.

Warning: this book contains one hot-blooded cowgirl and one cool-headed businessman in a stripped-down, revved-up game of sexual truth or dare.

Since Jack Donohue is Keely McKay's brother Carter's best friend and Keely dated Jack's little brother Justin for a while, they have known each other for a very long time. They had a short tryst at Colt and India's wedding reception but the way that ended just made things worse. The farther they stay away from each other, the better. Unfortunately no can do because it turns out Keely needs on Jack to make her dream of opening a health care center in Sundance come true. A certified architectural restoration specialist is required and Jack is the only one available. In turn, Jack needs Keely in order to be considered for a prestigious project. The committee overseeing this project is very conventional and traditional and Jack's lack of marital status is an impediment. Jack suggests a trade-off. She pretends to be his fiancé so he can get the project and he oversees and approves her restoration. Easy peasy...if not for their clashing personalities and the undeniable chemistry between them.

Let me start by setting the scene for you: Keely McKay detests Jack Donohue with a vengeance. Jack thinks Keely is a pain in the ass! I loved their "nicknames" for each other: Keely has GQ and Jack-off for Jack and Keely goes by cowgirl and buttercup for Jack. But the chemistry between them is off the scales and somewhere along this book things start to change emotionally too.

The jerk who’d left her high and dry at her brother’s wedding reception three years ago. Jack Donohue. That bitch fate had a nasty sense of humor.

Jack Donohue believed he’d adequately prepared himself for meeting Keely McKay. Boning up on his sarcasm. Practicing his disdain. Confident those reactions would prevent his instantaneous red-hot jolt of desire.

“Maybe you’re afraid I can make you fall in love with me for real.” “Make me fall in love with you? Dude. The only thing you make me want to do is punch you in the face.”

When I started SHOULA BEEN A COWBOY I already had ALL JACKED UP on my digital shelves because I only got around to reading Cam's story after ALL JACKED UP was released. I was planning to read it somewhere in the beginning of 2010 but of course my plans got all screwed up because the moment I finished SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY I knew I had to read on and I started Keely's story immediately! Ever since I read RODE HARD, PUT UP WET and Jack made his entrance on the Rough Rider stage, I was smitten and I was hoping with all hopes that Lorelei James would pair him up with the only female McKay sibling and wild child: Keely. When I found out in the end of 2008 that my wish was being granted, I was in heaven and it was so lovely reading SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY and knowing that the next book was going to be Keely and Jack's.

Keely is hotheaded, sexy, sharp-tongued and quick-witted, but she's also very perceptive. In the previous books, where her brothers all found happiness, it was Keely who always set them straight when they were behaving all stubborn and alpha and it was Keely who pointed them in the right direction when the women turned their lives upside down. Reading SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY I found a deep respect for Keely in how she supported Cam through the tough rehabilitation period and how she kept him on track. Keely is very confident and sure of herself and her needs, but she's also a true people-person, she is caring, dedicated and driven. Very few things get to her but when they do, it throws her for a loop and she makes some questionable decisions. It speaks in Keely’s favor though that her intent is never to hurt, only to strike back when being hurt.

She was meeting a man. A man she didn’t know. A man she’d never spoken to. A man who held her entire future in his hands. No man ever had that much power over Keely McKay. She’d made sure of it. Even with five older brothers, and a dozen older male cousins, she’d always been the queen bee. Using her stubbornness to get her way, not her feminine wiles.

Jack is ambitious and driven. He caught my eye the minute he briefly appeared in RODE HARD, PUT UP WET and for a good reason, which has been proven in this book. He may seem the sophisticated city slicker, but deep down he's as raw and as wicked as the McKay brothers are and he's the perfect match for Keely. No need to explain further why this is another Jack that's been added to my list of favorite heroes! There were moments in the book where I did think Jack took his ambition and drive a bit too far but that was effectively taken care of in the end of the book.

Keely is good at reading people but Jack totally throws her off balance and keeps her on her toes with his unpredictability. They are very much alike. Both have drive and ambition, albeit for different reasons and with different prospects. Both want to be successful without having to depend on others. Both are trying to prove that they are more than their outward appearance may show and both of them are want to prove themselves worthy of their own lives without being judged or babied by their family. Jack and Keely do sarcastic verbal sparring like no other hero/heroine I've ever read! They take verbal fighting to a whole other level and verbal blows are an understatement where those two are concerned. In the beginning I was afraid that the edgy bantering would die a slow death once they fell in love and acknowledged those feelings but luckily it didn't. Sure, it wasn't as nasty and harsh as it was at first but they kept the banter and word fights going, even when the feelings started to emerge.

Jack through Keely's eyes:
Jack Donohue was a total contradiction. Polished, yet rugged. Confident, yet not overtly cocky. Professional, yet an air of wildness surrounded him. Down to earth, as well as aloof. Smokin’ hot, yet ice cold.

Keely through Jack's eyes:
Despite her sexual appeal, the sweetness she masked beneath insults, her thoughtfulness, her ambition, her sly sense of humor and her tendency to give all of herself to those she cared about, Keely was not the type of woman he expected he’d spend his life with.

As with all the Rough Rider books, the McKay family plays an important role in ALL JACKED UP, which of course isn't a strange thing with Keely being the youngest and a girl on top of that. The protective urges of the alpha male, and the McKays are all alphas, every single one of them, were all over the place. I loved Carson's initial reaction to Jack and the engagement, it was priceless!

Her father wasn’t so tactful. He demanded to know if she was pregnant.

And then there was the scene at the engagement party where all the McKay brothers tell Jack, one by one, that they'd gut him if he ever hurt Keely. But the most memorable example of the McKay brothers in full force was the scene where they all come for Jack (after the conflict between him and Keely reaches its climax) like 5 gunslingers from the Old West, coming for blood, coming to avenge their baby sister and after that they go and console their baby sister and offer her support. I have only one baby brother who'd defend my honor to the death (I'm sure of that) but man, I wouldn't object to some gunslingers for brothers.

As with all the previous books Lorelei James consistently offers the loyal readers of this series a look into the lives of the previous heroes and heroines, treating us to glimpses of how they and their families are doing and growing. And growing they are. Let me tell you, the McKays are one fertile and expanding bunch. I’ve lost count of the number of kids these couples have happily produced and/or adopted.

I don't know why I am even surprised but Lorelei James once again treated me to a totally different type of book compared to the previous ones in the series! As emotionally hard and tough as SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY was, ALL JACKED UP was more light and fun with lots of banter, arguing, lusting but as with all the other books also a lot of chemistry, family dynamics and genuine characters who touch your emotions in every way. Will there ever be a Lorelei James book that doesn't make me cry in the end? I highly doubt it. I don't know how she does it and I really thought to dodge the bullet with ALL JACKED UP since it was a little lighter in tone than the other books in this series, but no way...tissues were definitely needed.

Even though ALL JACKED UP started slow, both on the heavy emotions and on the hot stuff, it worked up to the pack-a-punch and scorching hot Rough Rider book I am used to getting from Lorelei James. I’m reiterating for the umpteenth time that she just doesn't disappoint with this series. Every single one is a hit and every time I think she can't come up with something better she outdoes herself and gives me another gem of a book to add to the collection of favorite books AND another hero to add to the favorite heroes list.

Jack clamped his hands on her butt. Keely shrieked but he held tight, jerking her lower body to his. “An ego isn’t the only thing that’s big about me, baby. Want to ride on the Jack-hammer? Guaranteed to rev you up all night long.”

The sexual cynic inside him laughed that only a hard-up moron became excited by stroking Keely’s cute kneecap.

That sneaky bastard.
Damn. Her entire body—blood, muscles, tissues, bones—felt as if he’d zapped her with a cattle prod. Wobbly knees, dry throat, rapid heartbeat, damp panties, haywire responses from a simple touch? Damn embarrassing. Jack had stroked, whispered and teased until she was mere seconds from mounting him.

“Oh joy, my life is complete.” She spoke against his throat. “If you would’ve pulled a no-show, I would’ve tracked you down and castrated you, Jack-off.”
(...) “I guarantee if you ever put your hands on my junk again, chopping it off will be the last thing on your mind, buttercup.”

Keely caught him looking again, and not so subtly scratched her cheek with her middle finger. His dick stirred and he grinned at her. Yeah, he had it bad that it turned him on when she flipped him off.

Then she and Jack were face to face. His wild eyes didn’t fit his matter-of-fact tone. “Say you’ll let me do every dirty thing to you I’ve ever fantasized about.”

She focused on him, slouched in a straight back kitchen chair. The glow of the backlighting gave Jack an attractively dangerous look. Barefoot, with his pristine shirt unbuttoned; his sleeves were rolled up, exposing his thick forearms lightly dusted with dark hair. Clutching a glass of amber liquid in his hand, he reminded her of James Bond—a gorgeous professional male, but ruggedly raw and masculine beneath the polished exterior. His face was shadowed, masking his emotions. But the aura surrounding him wasn’t the cool and collected demeanor of a patient man. No, the air crackled with the energy of an animal ready to pounce.

“Here’s the God honest truth. I’ve avoided getting tangled up with you because I’ll give in to you, Jack. I’ll give you everything you demand from me in bed, every part of myself I’ve never shared with another man. I’m a strong-willed woman. I’m used to calling the shots with men. But when I look at you, I have the overwhelming need to…surrender. I’ve felt the sexual heat shimmering between us since I was sixteen and I had no clue what it was.”

The self-admission was not the shock to his system he’d imagined. He suspected he loved her all along and he’d fought it, creating elaborate excuses and lying to himself that sex and circumstance made him feel this way. But as Jack looked at her, he really saw her. Her. The woman who owned him. He’d found the once in a lifetime, bone deep, straight to the soul kind of love he’d never believed in.
He kept kissing her until she responded with the sweetness, goodness and heat that filled the empty part of his soul. He hadn’t understood the depth of the missing piece until she came into his life.

*) Using the same Quotes-disclaimer here as in the SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY review: There are much more quotes in this review than I am used to include in my reviews but I really couldn't leave 'em out! I had even more but unfortunately I don't have the time to do a Quote Post at the moment. I have saved them because you never know if there might be some more time in the future to do some Quote Posts of the Rough Rider series. For now enjoy these and let them entice you to read the whole story of Keely and Jack!

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

My other reviews in the Rough Rider series:
1. Long Hard Ride
2. Rode Hard, Put Up Wet
3. Cowgirl Up and Ride
4. Tied Up, Tied Down
5. Rough, Raw and Ready
6. Branded as Trouble
6.5 Strong, Silent Type
7. Shoulda Been a Cowboy

Click HERE to visit Lorelei’s website

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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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