March 18, 2010

  1. The image above links to the International Heat blog, it will take you to the beginning of the tour where the prizes and the links are also listed.
  2. In order to be eligible for a prize, readers must leave a comment on every blog on the tour, you can find the list our all the participants below my review.
  3. The winners of the prizes will be announced on the International Heat blog by the evening of March 18 and also on our Heat Wave yahoo group.

My contribution to this Global Warming blog tour is a review of the Cougar Challenge Series. I'll tell you: if these books don't warm you up a little, nothing will...

Why this review and this series?
When I was approached to participate in the International Heat-Global Warming Blog Tour, my contribution to the tour was supposed to be a review of a red-hot read. I thought a long time about what to review. As I didn’t have the time to read a new book by one of the International Heat authors and the books of International Heat authors I had read, were already reviewed on the blog, the only thing that came to mind was the Cougar Challenge series that I read in January because A) some of the authors are members of the International Heat Blog and B) This series defines red-hot read!!

Before I start my review of the Cougar Challenge I must make a confession first: I once was sort of a cougar. I was a 26-year-old dating an 18-year-old. At that age it didn't work out. The guy was sweet and all and the sex was hot!!! But we were at very different stages in life and no amount of sweetness or hot sex can make up for the fact that it's annoying when your working your but off trying to make ends meet, your boyfriends' only concern is that his college hours are interfering with his time to play videogames. With this in mind I was very interested in reading the Cougar Challenge books when I stumbled over the series, mentioned on Mari Carr’s website.

Premise of the series (taken from Ciana Stone’s website):
The Cougar Challenge
They went to the RomantiCon convention because they loved erotic romance. They left as friends. Seven women who will challenge each other to break away from the drudgery that holds them captive, to walk away from the past and into a new future.
Come join these seven women as they discover that there's still a lot of living - and loving to do. And see what happens when they find themselves smack in the middle of some sizzling hot situations with younger men who remind them that there's still plenty of fire in the furnace.


So without further ado, find below my review of this hot series!


Play it Again, Sam by Samantha Kane

Cover Blurb:
Monica Allen is one cougar who isn’t ready for retirement yet. She’s always been attracted to younger men, even married and divorced one. She thought she was through with them for good. Then she meets a group of like-minded dies at Romanticon, and they form a blog celebrating younger men, Tempt the Cougar.
After another lonely Friday night, Monica challenges her friends to find a younger man to make their fantasies come true. Why shouldn’t she have a younger man if that’s what she wants? She doesn’t have to marry him—been there, done that, threw away the tee shirt. But for a night of hot sex? Hell yes.
Sam Lincoln refuses to be just a fantasy. He’s a graduate student with a yen for older women and he may have just found the one to make his own fantasies come true. With a little help from his roommate Josh, Sam fulfills Monica’s deepest desires. Can he convince this sexy cougar to give him a chance at happily ever after?


Tells the story of Monica Allen (38), an assistant director HR and Sam Lincoln (26), a grad student/bartender.

This was a very hot story with a threesome theme. The story is told from both Monica and Sam’s POV and the only true secondary character of importance was Josh, Sam’s roommate and best friend and the third in the threesome.

In this first installment of the series Monica sets out to find a one-night stand with a younger man and after a wild night with 2 of them finds a keeper in Sam who has always had a thing for older women. Sam allows Monica to have the night of her life with both him and Josh but soon it’s clear that Sam wants exclusivity with Monica.

If you like one confident woman, two hot younger men and a wonderful story with scorching sex, look no further: PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM is the one for you.

Rating: 7 out of 10


Beauty of Sunset by Lynne Connolly

Cover Blurb:
Edie Howard is facing the public for the first time in years, and it’s crisis time. She can’t compete with her former self, top supermodel Sunset, so she visits a plastic surgeon. It’s time for a change. John Sung takes one look at Edie and knows he can’t operate on her. He signs off as her doctor and makes her a bet – if he can make her love her body as it is, she won’t have the operations.
John’s bet involves close examinations—and torrid, sleepless nights. Their passion is far more than either expects, and John begins to wonder if he’ll ever get enough of this woman. Edie just counts her blessings. She knows it won’t last long. Why would he want her when she’s ten years older than he is.

Tells the story of the English Edie Howard (45), former model: Sunset/Adelaide and Dr. John Sung (35), a famous plastic surgeon.

In this installment Edie, a former model is not satisfied with how she’s starting to look at age 45, so she seeks the help of a plastic surgeon. However when John meets her for her first consultation he is convinced she doesn’t need any surgery because she is gorgeous the way she is and they make a deal that if he can also convince Edie that he likes her body the way it is, she won’t go through with the surgery.

This was a more emotional story with no elaborate sexual themes. As the majority of the story is told from Edie’s POV, I did miss having more of John’s POV but despite that I felt John’s intensity and passion. He made both Edie and me shudder. Underneath the intensity there's insecurity lingering, left over from his past and when he thinks Edie's hurt him, he lashes out, pretending their affair meant nothing to him.

If you’re looking for a story that’s both emotional and hot, Lynne Connolly knows how to deliver that and just with one-on-one, mostly vanilla, sex scenes.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10


Winters' Thaw by Dalton Diaz

Cover Blurb:
Forty-one and divorced, Elizabeth Winters is determined to figure out what the big deal is about sex. Research brings six incredible women into her life, and a blog challenge is born. She’s going to meet all of her needs with a younger man, if she can let her inner feline out to play.
Thirty-year- old Kevin Springer loves solving puzzles, and “Elle” has him aching to fit the pieces. She’s hiding something, and he’s determined to get it out of her. Especially when he realizes he wants more than her offered no strings attached wild night.

Tells the story of smart and straightforward Elizabeth Winters (41), an OR nurse and sexy, laidback Kevin Springer (30), and engineer who plays bass in a band in his spare time and has a wicked sense of humor,

In this installment Elizabeth takes up the cougar challenge when she decides to visit a bar to see the band of her co-worker's husband play. The bass player catches her attention and vice versa. They set out for a no-strings-attached we'll-see-how-long-it-lasts fling as Elizabeth is only out for a good sexual experience and Kevin wants to stay away from heavy commitment. But no-strings isn't an option when they also connect on a non-sexual level.

Again this was a pretty vanilla story told from both POVs. With the easy and light writing style it was very fast read and not only because of the modest page count. Diaz's writing reads very easily. Too short, wanted more on Elle and Kevin. Felt like an extended prologue. A very good one at that!

Dalton Diaz delivered a novella filled with subtle humor alternated with sizzling, beautifully written sex scenes.

Rating: 8 out of 10


Hot to Trot by Desiree Holt

Cover Blurb
Buying a ranch on eBay was the wildest thing Autumn Kelley had ever done. Past forty, she’d pretty much written excitement out of her life. But then she discovered the ranch came with a foreman who made every pulse in her body pound and who could give her an orgasm just by looking at her. As if that weren’t enough, he had a friend equally as mouth-watering, and the two of them took Autumn on an erotic trip that outdid any fantasy she could every have imagined. If sex with one hot boy toy was fantastic, then sex with two at the same time took her over the top. But what will she do when she comes down from the orgasmic high?


Tells the story of inhibited but not shy Autumn Kelley (41) and the quintessential cowboy Mitchell Brand (32)

In this installment Autumn decides to start a new life by buying a ranch, on eBay no less, a rundown ranch in the middle of nowhere, Texas. She wants to go from old, boring and conservative to adventurous, wild, sexy and impulsive. And wild, sexy and impulsive is what she finds on the ranch where Mitch introduces her to some hot nights with the help of his friend Randy. To Autumn and Randy it's a roll in the hay but Mitch develops feelings for Autumn and wants commitment.

This was a very explicit and hot story with a threesome/ménage theme, which was told from Autumn’s POV exclusively. I really missed Mitch’s POV because now I only got to know him through Autumn’s POV and their dialogues and that kind of made the story a bit one-dimensional.
I liked the story but I also wanted a bit more on the emotional level. Do not get me wrong, it was hot, absolutely, however for me, the story kept at the surface with the focus more on the sexual part of erotic romance

If you like your erotic romance red-hot, a cowboy who has the dirty talking part down pat and you’re not looking for deep emotions than you will love HOT TO TROT!

Rating: 6.5 out of 10


Assume the Positions by Mari Carr

Cover Blurb:
Damn Cougar challenge!
Rachel’s thankful for the new friends she met while attending an erotica-book convention. They instantly connected and began sharing the relationship woes unique to older single women on their Tempt the Cougar blog. Then Monica issues that challenge… How is Rachel going to convince a younger man to have sex with her? Hell, even she doesn’t want to look at herself naked. To control her growing angst, she makes a list of eligible men then… Nothing. It’s been too long and her divorce was too painful. She’ll never be able to do this.
Ethan, one of Rachel’s physical therapy patients, is pissed when he learns of the challenge. Not because he finds it silly—because he’s not on Rachel’s list! So he does what any self-assured young stud would do. The luscious police officer gives her a copy of the Kama Sutra then asks her to make a new list.
And assume the positions…


Tells the story of down-to-earth, modest and sensible Rachel Bridges (37), physical therapist and stubborn, intuitive and competitive Ethan Russell (28), police officer

In this installment it’s Rachel’s turn to take up the cougar challenge. Normally she’s the happy-go-lucky one but a bit down lately as she would like to be more adventurous and daring/wild. She's been dealt a bad marriage card with an ex who used her to get through medical school and then dump her for a young, blond nurse. They say Mr. Right just doesn't come knocking on your door but in Rachel's case he came walking into her office at the right time. The challenge Ethan lays down for Rachel involves more than just plain having fun with a younger man, she has to make a list of Kama Sutra positions she’d like to try out with him.

This story was again pretty vanilla, with just the Kama Sutra to spice it up, but let me tell you: it was definitely spiced up! Not in the least because of Ethan. I must say he’s the hottest cougar victim of the bunch, with Kevin (Winters' Thaw, Dalton Diaz) and Lee (Cam’s Holiday, Ciana Stone) a close second and third. Even though this story too was told exclusively from the heroine’s (Rachel’s) POV it bothered me less than in Desiree Holt’s installment because I got to know Ethan’s character really well through Rachel and the sense of humor they both had. I really connected with Rachel! Maybe it's the age (37 too) and her love for lists which I vehemently share.
I loved the pace and the humorous, light undertone in the writing. Mari Carr has an agreeable and easy writing style that reads very smoothly. ASSUME THE POSITIONS is one of my favorites of the series. I loved everything about it and could’ve read hundreds more pages of Ethan and Rachel.

This book makes you wanna get the Kama Sutra and check out some of those positions. If you’re looking for truly the sexiest and spine tingling sex scenes, ASSUME THE POSITIONS won’t disappoint!

Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Sin on Skin by Mari Freeman

Cover Blurb:
Wild women do…
That’s the theme for the friends Stevie Jones found at an erotic-romance convention. But as the women share their experiences with younger guys on their Tempt the Cougar blog, Stevie discovers she’s the least wild of the bunch. Finding a younger man isn’t the problem; after a lifetime of unfulfilled desires, Stevie needs a younger ‘alpha’ man. In the meantime, getting a tattoo is an easy, safe way to begin ramping up her wild side.
Tattoo artist Errol knows instantly what Stevie needs, and it’s not just a bit of ink. He’s hot, young—and he’s just invited Stevie to his private BDSM club. Before you can say “green light”, Stevie is experiencing things she’d only read in her favorite erotic novels. Sinful toys, spanking benches and voyeurism are just some of the stops on what will become the wildest ride of her life.

Reader Advisory: This hot little number contains a scorching scene in which the heroine becomes a plaything for others—three others, in fact—including one very demanding Domme.

Tells the story of self-proclaimed science geek, independent Stevie Jones (44), head of a pharmaceutical lab and pharmaceutical project manager and charming, seductive and confident Errol (32), tattoo artist (Sin On Skin) and BDSM club owner (Sin City)

In this installment Stevie's idea of going wild is getting a tattoo, but she'll soon discover that getting a tattoo is just the start of a very wild ride into Cougar land when her tattooist is a skilled and intense Dom, taking Stevie step by step along the way to ultimate submission.

This is a BDSM - Dom/sub themed story told from Stevie’s POV only.
It was very well written and I was intrigued by the way Mari Freeman describes the D/s scenes. I loved the explanation of the nuances of the Dom/sub lifestyle.

However, the group angle (especially the f/f part of it) was new to me and not something I prefer in my erotica reads, it was on the fringes of what I'm comfortable with. Also, the usage of a certain word that I don't like kept pulling me out of the rhythm and intensity of the story. I understand the context within it was used called for it and it fit, but the word just rubs me the wrong way and that's MY problem, it doesn't affect quality of the writing.
That being said it was the novella in the series that in which I had the least emotional connection with the characters. When I finished I still didn’t have the feeling I got to know Stevie and Errol. Therefore I must conclude that it was the least favorite of the series for me.

SIN ON SKIN started very promising, hot and great but along the way due to some sexual topics that are not my thing it fizzled to an average read. Still if you are comfortable with these topics I think it will be a novella you can really appreciate and love.

Rating: 6 out of 10


Cam's Holiday by Ciana Stone

Cover Blurb:
Fantasies about being with a younger man? Before her husband left her for a younger model, they wouldn’t have crossed Cam’s mind, but now she has plenty. After meeting a group of ladies at RomantiCon, Cam and the women form a blog celebrating younger men—Tempt the Cougar. Then they challenge each other to find a younger man to make their fantasies come true. It’s not a husband hunt. It isn’t about love. It’s about a night of hot, steamy sex.
When Lee Holiday enters Cam’s life, he seems like the right man for the job. A personal trainer, he makes it clear he’d love to ring Cam’s bell. And ring it he does. Repeatedly. Cam’s found sexual nirvana. Only Lee’s not going to be happy with a short-term, sex-only relationship. He wants the whole nine yards and is out to prove to Cam that he’s more than just a holiday from her normal life. He’s the man of her dreams.

Tells the story of quick-witted and lonesome Camille "Cam" Stockton (42), events planner and seductive and masterful Lee Holiday (32), personal trainer

In this installment Cam’s ex-husband and his new trophy wife have left her with low self-confidence and lonely despite her work and friends. When her ex’s new wife taunts her once again, this time at the gym, she uses her personal trainer to prove she’s still attractive. What she doesn’t know is that Lee is very much attracted to her and what should be a obligatory date to a fund raiser Cam has organized, turns into much more. Because of fear and insecurity she doesn't want to accept that she's fallen in love with Lee and keeps pretending it's all about sex and having a good time while it lasts.

This story just briefly touched the D/s theme, with Lee being very masterful and a natural Dom. Not the one who lives the lifestyle fully but who is naturally dominant. The banter and flirting between Cam and Lee was the perfect counterpart to the hot and explicit love scenes. If you know my reading preferences, and me, you know I like a dash of humor in my reading and the scene where Cam receives the torc is very funny. I would totally do the same thing and be just as befuddled


This last installment of the series for now was told from both POVs. Something I really liked because it made me feel really connected to the characters again. And after an emotionally less intense installment with CAM’S HOLIDAY I was treated to the kind of erotic romance I prefer: hot AND emotional, leaving room for the development of feelings besides the sexual aspect. Ciana Stone has a smooth and easy writing, which I took an immediate liking to. She was the only author of these seven that made me wanna grab some tissues because of the beautiful and emotional ending. Felt the least like it was a prologue to me but more finished and well-rounded story.

Gyms and me don't go well together but this story made me want to run to the nearest gym and find me a Lee of my own. And I’m sure I am not the only one after reading this story.

CAM’S HOLIDAY was the perfect ending to the first stint of this series and one of my favorites of these 7 novellas.

Rating: 9 out of 10

====================================
Overall opinion of the series:

I thoroughly enjoyed these adventures in Cougar land.
I read the 7 books that are published at the moment back-to-back from the moment I started the first one and enjoyed the series and would recommend it to everyone looking stories within a series that are all different. Some are emotional, others humorous, other more erotic but they all are, without a doubt, hot and scintillating.
I loved these 7 books and am looking forward to further installments in this Cougar Challenge Series by some new and fresh contributors.

Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Favorite Quotes:
From PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM:
“Exactly! You have nothing in common. What are you going to talk about?” Monica actually pulled the phone away from her ear and stared at it incredulously for a moment before she put it back to her ear and snorted. “I have no intention of saying much more than ‘right there and harder”.

From BEAUTY OF SUNSET:
“I love how you left that little bit of hair there.”
“It’s called a Brazilian.” He smiled. “I know. But on you it’s called heaven.”

From WINTER’S THAW:
There were a few single guys dotting the barstools but there were reasons they were alone. Like the guy who had to be approaching sixty who kept winking at a small posse of young women as he pointed to his chest. His T-shirt read, Free Mustache Rides. Not only was he gross, his lip was bare.

From HOT TO TROT:
And then she caught sight of a hunk straight out of the wettest wet dream, the most mouthwatering specimen of manhood she’d ever laid eyes on, heading toward her from the barn.

From ASSUME THE POSITIONS:
Heat crept to her face at his question. Her ex-husband’s idea of dirty talk was wanting to know if she’d showered before coming to bed.

From SIN ON SKIN:
More than anything else, though, was the fact that Stevie Jones would never be able to let go like that. How could she be a strong, independent woman if she wanted to besubmissive to a man?

From CAM’S HOLIDAY:
"Lee Holiday was, by far, the sexiest man she had seen in a long, long time. But it was more than his appearance. An aura of power and an unspoken promise of pleasure seemed to hover around him like an intoxicating cloud."

Blog tour (you don't need to go in order, but you do need to comment at all of them to be eligible for a prize.)




What are the prizes?
Prize one:
Waiting for Wednesday ebook by Mari Carr
Autographed print copy of Dream Machine by Jayne Rylon
Only Yours ebook by J.R. Patrick
Choice of backlist ebook by Rhian Cahill or ARC of Coyote Home
Prize two:
Choice of ebook backlist by Jambrea Jo Jones
Death, The Vamp and his Brother tote bag, plus winner's choice of Lexxie Couper ebook.
Choice of backlist title by Dawn Montgomery 
Autographed copy of backlist print title by Nicole Austin
Prize three:
Bath and Body gift bag courtesy of T
Choice of backlist title and a package of TimTams from Jess Dee
Rodeo Heat by Desiree Holt
 Prize four:
Choice of backlist title from Amanda Young
$10 gift card to Amazon courtesy of Valerie Tibbs
Choice of backlist ebook from Vivian Arend

34 comments:

Jenn Graham said...

WOW, I just wanted to say thanks for reviewing the Cougar series. I had never heard of the series or the author before and the books were hot! I am going to go look them up right now and see about getting a couple of them to start off! Thanks again!

molli said...

Hmm....I think my TBB list just got longer.
hugs
molli

s7anna said...

I loved reading the books in this series...I still haven't read a couple of them but the ones I read were sensational.

Happy Reading
Anna
s7anna@yahoo.ca

Andrea Becraft said...

The books look like an excelent read I might just have to add them to my too be read pile. Which is never ending but thats the way I like it!

robynl said...

I want to join the Cougar Club and be a member, lol, after reading the reviews.

Donna said...

Everyone likes different things. Sin on Skin was my favorite. All were good.

POV isn't usually an issue for me. I assume the author chooses POV for the good of telling the story. But I'm not a pro, just a reader.

Cathy M said...

Thanks for highlighting this series, Pearl. I see some favorite authors here, and now have a couple more books to add to my wish list.

Nancy G said...

I have this rebate coming that is marked for this series. Thanks for letting me know I have a real treat in store.

Rhonda said...

I have a couple of these and added the others to my tbb list.

joyremsonjohnson said...

Thanks for the thorough review of the Cougar Series.

Anonymous said...

Definitely can't wait to read this..it will be my first cougar stories ever. lol

Heather P

dor said...

This tour is amazing. What a hoot.

Hilda said...

ahyaiyai have added these to my TBB list!!
Thanks for the reviews

kaisquared said...

Thank you for your reviews, especially the quotes. Another great tour stop!

Yvonne said...

I've only read three of the series but I am loving them so far.

Leontine said...

I took my tea break while reading your International Heat blogpost LOL These Cougar books give you a diversity in smut and characters. I can tell you've had fun with the entire series. While I haven't read any book that has older woman- younger man theme, I'm looking forward to my first experience :)

Leni said...

Thanks for the reviews. They help me find out about new books.

Fran Lee said...

Glad you like the Cougar series!

Meandi's corner said...

great reviews. Put a few on my TBr list

-----jennifer mathis

Karin said...

Great reviews. I've been wondering about the series and your reviews gave some really good insight.

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

I really enjoyed Play it again Sam!

flchen1 said...

Thanks for the review of the series, Pearl! I've got some of them on the TBR and need to add the rest!

--Fedora

Natasha A. said...

Excellent reviews, thank you!! :D

Maria said...

I have 2 of these books in my tbr...look forward to reading them now...

Katy said...

This series has been on my wish list for a month, and now I really want to read them!

live2read_nyy(at)yahoo(dot)com

booklover0226 said...

It's time to remove the series from my wish list and into my cart!

Thanks,
Tracey D

Lisa J said...

Thanks for the reviews. It helps to have another opinion before buying a series.

Jean P said...

Most definitely looking for these books

joder said...

I love cougar stories and these all sound great! Lots of books to add to my wishlist.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Sue A. said...

The one good about getting older is that just means there are more younger men for you to choose from. I'm definitely gonna give these cougar stories a shot.

Beth said...

Thanks for the reviews. That was a good idea putting the all in one post.

april3025 said...

definitely love the cougar story there's just sometime to be said for a younger man :)

lindseye said...

What is that quote "So many books, so little time" as my TBB and TBR lists grow by leaps and bounds.

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone for participating in the blog tour it is now over the names have been gathered and the winners will be announced later today. T

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

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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