May 30, 2011
Growing up poor on New Chicago’s meanest streets, Ava Sans had two options: be the predator, or be the prey. No contest. Now, working for Alien Investigation and Removal, she’s been ordered to capture the biggest, baddest warrior of all—a vampire too beautiful to be real, with the ability to manipulate time. Once the leader of the entire vampire army, McKell has been deemed savage and unstable, spurned even by his own kind.

To McKell, humans should be nothing more than sustenance. Yet the petite, golden-skinned Ava is a fascinating contradiction—vicious yet witty, strong yet vulnerable, lethal but fiercely loyal. Against his better judgment, McKell craves that loyalty, and much more. When the chase leads to seduction, McKell and Ava will race to discover the truth about his past. But the answers will come at a price, even for a woman who thought she had nothing left to lose. . .

Author: Gena Showalter
Series: Alien Huntress, book 5
Genre: Futuristic Romance, Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Pocket Books, Simon and Schuster
Year of release: 2010, October 26
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Bought via The BookDepository

First line:
"And I thought you were rough. Those girls are..." Dallas Gutierrez shuddered.

Memorable Scenes:
-McKell stopping time to punch Johnny in the face repeatedly > hilariously funny
-scene in the car while going to Noelle's house with their captives > McKell and Ava set that car on fire!
-the bargaining and rule-setting when McKell decides to move in with Ava > typical Gena vibe and humor

Ava Sans is young, stubborn, fearless and witty. She’s an AIR (Alien Investigation and Removal) trainee. She’s also tough, crude, grew up on the streets and not the damsel in distress type. She can handle anything thrown at her. But she also has a loyalty and vulnerability that prevent her from being a harsh bitch of a heroine.

Victor McKell is a ruthless and proud vampire warrior. He’s possessive, unstable and psychotic. He has the ability to stop time and freeze people in time, in short bursts. He's as tough and rough as Ava and they're perfectly matched for each other.. He too, has this thin veil of vulnerability that endears him and makes him a hero I utterly enjoyed reading.

There were a few moments in the book where I feared the secondary cast would take over the focus of the book. For example I found it weird that the book started in a POV that was neither Ava’s or McKell’s but Mia Snow's, now head of AIR. Also, the stuff surrounding secondary character Dallas Gutierrez seemed to hold my attention more than the main characters at a certain point. Then again, this might be me.

And there was a scene in the story where McKell's time-stopping ability confused me as I didn't understand the logic behind it that time and I couldn't explain how the time had elapsed for the characters other than McKell. This puzzled me and took me out of the story for a minute. Fortunately these moments didn’t linger and I enjoyed the interactions and chemistry between McKell and Ava that were excellent.

It had been a while since I read the last Alien Huntress book, SEDUCE THE DARKNESS, and though the details of the overall ongoing plotline had turned a bit fuzzy in my memory, I very quickly caught on again after the first few chapters of ECSTACY IN DARKNESS. Although I absolutely enjoyed this installment of Gena Showalter's Alien Huntress series the end had me frowning a bit. IMHO it was too much of an easy and quick way out. The resolution to the part of the ongoing plot featured in this installment was just not what I would have liked to see, it was too convenient.

However, my faith in Gena is firm as a rock and I know she’ll come back with a vengeance and make up for it in the next installment, which I am definitely looking forward to. I know the last word hasn't been said and the last unexpected twist hasn't played out yet in this ongoing overall plot.

Gena Showalter writes make-out scenes like few other authors do. They're sizzling hot, unintrusive to the plot and a joy to read, and one of the reasons she's in the league of my favorite authors, on the auto-buy list from the moment I read my first book written by her. She also has the ability to infuse heat into her books without having actual sexy scenes. I was almost at page 400 (of a total of 502) when Ava and McKell finally did the deed but strangely this didn't bother me at all whereas in other romance novels the lack of ...let's call it consummation detracts from the romance and occasionally frustrates me. And the consummation scene itself was awesome and sizzling hot and worth every page read waiting for it. McKell outdid himself :)

Though a little lacking in the execution of the ongoing plot in this installment, I must say the main couple, the sizzling sensuality and the secondary characters all contributed to my utter enjoyment of yet another entertaining book in this series. The Alien Huntress series is another example of Gena's talent to write great individual romance within an ongoing plot that gets more intriguing with every new installment. I’m so ready for the next one!

Favorite Quotes:
He had pale skin and a face that proved God had an A game. And why the good Lord would have chosen to deviate from that formula and create other faces, she would never know. If everyone looked like this man –like fevered whispers in the dark, forbidden chocolate, and sin it its most tempting incarnation –crime would have ceased long ago. Or maybe never even started.

Her voice…as close to sex as a man could get without actually removing his clothing. Sure he’d considered it “sweet” before. After lying in his cave all day, replaying their interaction through his head over and over again, however, he’d realized that sweet obviously equaled dirty to his body.

He let their tongues continue to play, to duel, to roll and thrust, sipping, feeding, driving them closer and closer to a ledge they might later wish they’d never built. For it was a ledge of their own making, one that promised a torturous fall, a fatal landing.

“Where’s Sans?” the handsome brother asked with a leering grin. “At home in bed?
The ugly one punched him in the back of the head.
Noelle offered the speaker a deadly grin. “One day, Dear John, you’re gonna wake up, and your penis is gonna be resting on the pillow next to you. Not that you’ll notice its absence, small as it is.”

(Ava to McKell) “Thank you,” she said, fighting those stupid tears again. “Even though I understand where you’re coming from, I’m still asking you to heal him. Not because he deserves it, but because it’s the right thing to do. And because, if he gets better, we can take turns kicking him in his man junk without any feelings of guilt.”

May 27, 2011

The last day of Apple Trail Week has arrived...*sniff* I hope everyone had as much fun as Keri and I had with this week and I want to thank Keri for all her hard work in making this week happen because without her contributions I only would have had 3 reviews. Today she has another awesome guestpost for us in which she shares some interesting information on what's in store for us next in Apple Trail. I pre-read this post and all I can say is: Bring on these books and that Bald and Tatt’d + those triplets are sooooo mine LOL

Give Keri a warm welcome and enjoy her post!

Thanks for having me today…and all week!!! Up next in Apple Trail, we get a little more on the town and the people in it! Mike Gable is the man in charge of Apple Trail and he keeps an orderly, calm town…that is if you don’t count Tiffany McBride.

Tiffany has kept Mike’s tail in knots since they were in high school. But he’s not the only one. As much as Tiffany grates on Mike’s skin, he’s under hers just as much. When these two finally admit their attraction for each other, the pages are lit on fire.

I had a lot of fun writing MAKING HER NIGHTS. When I was writing it, I was all but keeping permanent flushed cheeks because the sexual tension is just off the charts hot. I kept writing thinking, this is the hottest book I’ve ever written. I got to the end…and there’s two (2 ½ if you count that tease moment) of sex scenes. Turns out there’s less sex in Nights than in any other book in the Apple Trail series so far but it reads so hot because the tension is just off the charts.

My editor is calling this her favorite of the series so far and she’s already said she wants more! Should be out around June 20th.

After MAKING HER NIGHTS is SATISFYING HER TASTES and I gotta tell ya, I am so excited for this one! The heroine is in-your-face direct with what she wants and the hero (who I was calling on twitter at one point, Bald and Tatt’d) (note from Pearl: I'm ALL over this hero...*sigh*) is so taken with her. But one of my favorite parts of this story is what it led me to! While there are only six books in the Apple Trail series, I am so not done with this town because of this book!

The hero of Tastes is the youngest of four brothers who are ancestors of the founders of the town Apple Trail. I’ve pitched the idea to my publisher and these three older brothers (triplets!) are planned for Summer of 2012! Currently they’re titled (and might change!) ROUGH PLAY, ROUGH RIDE and ROUGH TUMBLE. They’re scheduled to be a little bit longer than Apple Trail novellas and I can’t wait to dig into them next month.

And finally, last for Apple Trail is Jessie McBride. You’ve seen her in every book so far in some form or another. Either directly by name or mentioned as a “blonde”. She’s got a huge heart that’s taken some hard hits over the years, but there’s a man coming her way who has enough patience to put a smile on her face.

Pearl, thank you thank you so much for having me all week, for the reviews---you’re awesome! Can’t wait to give away some books and stuff! Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered!

By commenting on this vlog or one of the other posts this week (every comment is an entry) your name is thrown in the hat to win the following prizes:

- one autographed print copy of Uninhibited in Apple Trail, Vol.1 --open to international residents
- eCopies of Through The Wall, On The Fence, In The Hay. --open to international residents (Winner's Choice)
- 2 Apple Trail Jars --US residents only
May 26, 2011

It’s been a White Picket Fence life for Nicolette. Charming, but tedious. She graduated high school, raring to go. Nothing is ever as easy as it seems though. The fear of being stuck in a rut, living a dull day-to-day life keeps Nicolette from settling on a career, despite her six years of college. When the chance arrives for her to housesit, she takes opportunity by the horns for a little playtime. She would experience life and find something that would make her happy.

Drew knows exactly what he wants. To run the family construction business. Too bad his dad doesn’t think he’s ready. They make a deal. Drew will help his cousin put up a new fence and after he’s learned hard work, the construction business is his. Drew's not sure learning how to string fence line together will see him suitable for a career of paper pushing, but he’ll do it.

When Drew meets the wanna-be-free-spirited Nicolette, his determined thoughts of what he’s always worked for begins to sway. Nicolette’s finding the fun in life. But their relationship is temporary. A week tops.

Author: Keri Ford
Series: Uninhibited in Apple Trail, Arkansas, book 3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Year of release: 2011, April 18
Format: eBook
Source: Received an e-ARC for review from the author

First line:
“You’re changing your degree.” Ted shook his head. “Again.”

Memorable Scenes:
- Nicolette's dancing skills > I might have snickered...and snorted
- Drew telling Nicolette exactly what he wants to do with her > *fans self* and Nicolette's reaction to it > made me smile in recognition
- Nicolette googling sex > burst out laughing and scared hubby to death

Nicolette 'Lette' Jones is free-spirited and restless. She decides to use her stay in a strange town to try out and do a few things she's never done before. What surprised me about this book was that Nicolette was a virgin. I loved how Keri Ford ingeniously incorporated that into the romance with her usual humorous note and voice.

Drew Hamilton is steadfast, determined, laidback and quiet, but it's the quiet ones people! He is a naughty dirty-talker and that’s just the way I like them!

IN THE HAY is my favorite Apple Trail book so far. The humor I love so much shines through in the entire book and is paired with some genuinely emotional stuff. LOVE that! I laughed out loud several times while reading this book but I also got a little teary-eyed at the end.

What I love about this series, besides the humorous writing, the subtle yet sexy sensuality and the wonderful characters, is the small-town feel and how everyone is connected in some way: Nicolette and Drew are cousins to former main characters in this series and hero and heroine of the second book make an appearance in this book too. With each book you get to know more people in Apple Trail and start to feel like they could be living right next to you. I also met the main couple from the next book and I can’t wait to read their story. Going by what I read in this one, it’s going to be explosive.

Keri Ford's writing is like a scalding bubble bath. It seeps into your pores and makes you feel all fuzzy and comfy and hot, very hot. This book just made me happy! It was funny, endearing and steamy! I will not be able to see or hear the word pineapple and not think back to this book. Thanks for that Keri!

Favorite Quotes:
She gripped the edge of her enchilada plate and sent it flying across the table to crash into another chair where an explosion of melted cheese, sauce and whatever else was in that thing flew into the air and rained to the floor. Satisfaction bloomed in her chest and pulled out a smile. Now that she enjoyed and could do again.

That burning hot kiss in the bar had lit her head on fire and singed down to her curling toes.

His thumb rolled over her nipple and, oh, God, just like that. She arched off the ground against his body, wanting more.
Not knowing what to do, she combed her fingers through his short brown hair as he took her in his mouth. Teeth nipped her and she tugged at his soft strands, wanting to voice something, anything to get him to do that again, but words were gone. She existed only in a state of tingling need, craving his touch.

“I can’t work with you saying this dirty stuff in my ear.”
He tried to look offended. “I haven’t said one dirty thing.”
Her hand flicked up I the air. “It’s not what you’re saying, but how.”
He grinned. “You’re hearing things. If I wanted to be dirty, I would just say I want to reach under that short skirt you’re wearing and see if you’re wet and waiting for me.”

He leaned against the barn door and watched her walk out of his life. An itch to call her back crawled up his throat, but he swallowed it down. There was no room for a woman like her in his life now and she deserved what he couldn’t give.

May 25, 2011

Today I have a special treat for the loyal Apple Trail Week followers: A Vlog. Not by me because I am camera shy, would die of stage fright and most importantly, you don't want to see me on me, you really don't! No, I have the pleasure of introducing you to the wonderful Keri Ford herself. She'll read a scene from IN THE HAY and I'm sure that, like me, once you've heard Keri speak, you will not be able to read the Apple Trail books without hearing that lovely, southern accent.

Sit back, relax and enjoy!

If the link above doesn't work for you, you can also access the video-blog directly by clicking HERE

By commenting on this vlog or one of the other posts this week (every comment is an entry) your name is thrown in the hat to win the following prizes:

- one autographed print copy of Uninhibited in Apple Trail, Vol.1 --open to international residents
- eCopies of Through The Wall, On The Fence, In The Hay. --open to international residents (Winner's Choice)
- 2 Apple Trail Jars --US residents only

May 24, 2011

If Shellie Chambers has to hear one more condescending comment from her mother about life or men, she might scream. She packs up and takes a trip to see her long-missed high school friend, Riley. He’ll know exactly what she needs to loosen up. But instead of the girl-chasing jock she remembers from their youth, Riley’s gone country, keeping up a farm of his own.

Riley Hamilton has settled down on a farm his uncle left to him. Not the life he ever envisioned, but after getting a girl pregnant in college and then watching helplessly as the baby was aborted, he learned the hard way it was time to settle down. Shellie’s reentry into his life reminds of his wild past and it’s a fight to ignore the tempting woman Shellie has become.

Author: Keri Ford
Series: Uninhibited in Apple Trail, Arkansas, book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Year of release: 2011, February 21
Format: eBook
Source: Bought via Smashwords

First line:
There was no way around it. Catching Mr. Right was damn hard work.

Memorable Scenes:
-the four-wheeler scene > wow!
- bathroom scene > double wow!

Shellie Chambers and Riley Hamilton are childhood friends. The last time they saw each other was 6 years ago but when her mom is driving her bat-shit crazy, Shellie seeks refuge with the friend she knows will pull her back from the ledge. But devil-may-care, good-times Riley has transformed into responsible and controlled Riley while Shellie is determined to have a little fun.

I did not take very extensive notes on Shellie’s character but do remember she was another female character I really liked. Keri Ford has a knack for writing likeable heroines I easily connect with and having read the third book in this series I know this is something that this isn’t just a fluke of the first two books.

I met Riley in the first book of the series and was immediately drawn to him. He’s careful and intense. One little thing I did miss was a little more background on the change in Riley as I would have loved to know the cause for the change was, but that's me nitpicking.

Like THROUGH THE WALL this book was pretty short so both the stories in this series were fun and quick reads and left me wanting a little bit more when finished. However by bringing the characters back in the next books keeps you connected and I like those little peeks into how they’re doing.

I really like Keri Ford's voice and style. It's easy, fluent and fun and every time I read her stories she puts a smile on my face. In the span of 8 chapters Keri Ford gave me a wonderful character-driven story with likable and developed characters, subtle humor and enough sexual tension to set the pages on fire.

Favorite Quote:
And at that moment, Riley’s hand dropped to Shellie’s thigh. His large palm covered the top of her leg, his long fingers rested between her thighs, and she completely lost her train of thought. He wasn’t doing anything suggestive or dirty under the table, but it was just that his hand was on her, warming her and zapping her words before they could even reach her tongue.

By commenting on this review or one of the other posts this week (every comment is an entry) your name is thrown in the hat to win the following prizes:

- one autographed print copy of Uninhibited in Apple Trail, Vol.1 --open to international residents
- eCopies of Through The Wall, On The Fence, In The Hay. --open to international residents (Winner's Choice)
- 2 Apple Trail Jars --US residents only

May 23, 2011

It's Apple Trail Week on Pearl's World of Romance and today I have the pleasure of welcoming the lovely Keri Ford herself to share with you all a favorite excerpt from one of the Apple Trail books. Make sure you comment on the post as each comment is thrown is in hat for some great prizes, offered by Keri:

- one autographed print copy of Uninhibited in Apple Trail, Vol.1 --open to international residents
- eCopies of Through The Wall, On The Fence, In The Hay. --open to international residents (Winner's Choice)
- 2 Apple Trail Jars --US residents only

Please help me give Keri a warm welcome and get this Apple Trail Week rolling!

Thanks for having me this week!! I am so excited to be here and talking about Apple Trail, and even better, watching others talk about it. The chance for interaction is awesome, so if anyone has any questions on anything, drop it in the comments! I’ll be checking in!

The excerpt below is from THROUGH THE WALL and I really like it cause it’s when Stephanie (heroine) really overcomes her nerves and asks for what she wants. This moment is what this entire series is all about. Taking that step out of your comfort zone, thumbing your nose at what someone might think and just going for it. While for some, that’s a not a big deal, for others, you just don’t do that kind of thing! Why your Great Aunt May might hear about it and she’ll tell her bridge club crew and then the whole town will be knowing all your business and before you know it, your momma can’t show her face in church.

This is from the first chapter, but it’s a changing moment for Stephanie mentally. A moment of, I’m in it now, like hell am I backing out!

Parker squeezed her against his side, hugging her close and then loosened his grip. “Well, here I am, at your service all night long.”
That was a loaded statement if she’d ever heard one. If she had ovaries worth some salt she’d yell, okay! But she didn’t. Instead, she swallowed again and fumbled around for a polite way to ask for dirty-ish sex. She was pretty sure there wasn’t one. Well, bock-bock and cluck the walk home or take a risk. She was going to do it. “Parker, I need some help.”
He didn’t wait a beat. “I’m all yours, doll, ask away.”
She nodded and walked, drawing him away from the barbeque and the crowd, steering him toward home. Home was an apartment across the street, so it wasn’t much of a walk. Which meant she better get it out before they crossed the double yellows in the middle of the road. She would never voice her question out loud once they were inside the building where all the neighbors might hear. Plus the middle of the road offered the added bonus of being able to run anywhere if he laughed. Like head-first into a car.
He hugged her against his side, gently jostling her. “Never known you to be so quiet.”
Parker was right. And she needed this. She pulled in a deep breath, stopped right there in the middle of the dead Sunday afternoon road and stared right into his eyes. “I want rough…er, sex.”
He looked at her for a long moment and finally he chuckled. “Funny.”
There was her way out of this conversation. She could laugh with him and that’d be it. But she didn’t want out. “I’m not being funny.”
“Uh-huh. And how much did you have to drink?” He tugged on her hair. “Not like you to drink this much.”
“I’ve only had a few.”And she was feeling darn sober at the moment. “I’m serious.”
His mouth dropped and his arm fell away from her shoulder. His eyes drifted closed as he shook his head. “We’ve never...”
She was in deep now, she wouldn’t back away. The margaritas were a help. Ding! Point two for having four. She swallowed and sucked in a deep breath. “I know. I want to. To find out.”
His mouth snapped shut. His jaw tightened, giving her the first sign of just how big of a mistake this might be, but she refused to give up, so she forced onward. He had to at least think about it. “I want something more than plain vanilla. Nothing extreme like cherry blizzard blast, but maybe a little chocolate with syrup.” She rubbed her neck. “And a little squirt of whipped cream.”
Or a big squirt.
He wasn’t looking at her. In fact, he had turned away until his tight jeans curving along his nice ass faced her. The sun blazed down even hotter on the pavement somehow or maybe it was embarrassment burning her through and through. That scent of melting tar? That wasn’t from the hot sun on the pavement but her body catching fire from her blush.
Noise and laughter from the barbeque carried over and echoed off their apartment building and back to them. Which meant, their words could also go back to the barbeque. They weren’t quite as alone as she’d like, especially with a couple of kids coming down the sidewalk toward them. Sweat trickled down her temple and she shifted her feet, kicking a stray rock from the road. There was no breeze or shade. She was sitting under a heat lamp while her future paced about in front of her trying to figure out if she was indeed serious or drunk off her ass.
Parker stopped and stared up at the bright blue sky. “Why me?”
Liquid courage pushed her on. “We’ve been neighbors for months now. Our beds are on the same wall.” He was turning. She could picture his slack-jawed mouth and yep, there it was, right along with big eyes. Not quite horrified, but then, he didn’t exactly looked thrilled. She squared her shoulders and forged ahead. “Well, I think, from what I’ve heard, that is, you could help me.” Before he could say anything, the hum of an engine revved. She glanced back and saw a truck headed their way. Parker put his hand to her back and steered her off the road, toward their building. So much for being in the street to put her out of her misery should this little chat get any worse. And one thing was for certain, this conversation was surely going to get worse.
Parker was shaking his head again. “No. This isn’t a good idea.”
She shrugged, trying to maintain this casual I’m-so-cool-I-can-ask-for-sex look. “It would just be a couple of… encounters.”
“Encounters,” he echoed with a shake of his head. “No. We’re going to our apartments and we’re going to forget this.”
She shook her head. “I’ve never had anything exciting. It’s always been just a rub over my hip, a stroke down my thigh and that’s it. And that was okay, but I want more. I want to be used and—” “I don’t want to hear this.” He jabbed his key in the main door and pulled it open for her.
She stopped in front of him and held him there in the doorway. The blast of the air conditioning slapped her with a whole new sense of drive. She could do this. She could push through. Maybe if she put her chest against his, and slid her leg up his thigh, but she hadn’t drank quite enough for those kinds of moves. “What I’m saying is, it was always the same. Eighty percent of the time, I’ve been on the bottom.”
“Not listening.” He put his hand to her back and turned her in the building.
But he was listening. He wouldn’t be wiping at his brow and tugging at his shirt otherwise.
“I’m not asking for a lot, just something up against a door. Or in the shower. I don’t want to be chained up and beaten with a whip. I just want a little something more. I need this, Parker.”

*Behind the scenes*

-THROUGH THE WALL was just a stroke of luck. I had never wanted to write short. It just wasn’t my thing. Tell an entire story in so FEW words? Terrifying. But I was in a hard place with my writing at the time. I didn’t know what to do, what direction to take. So I decided to write something short and just have fun with it. And, that’s where THROUGH THE WALL came from.

- THROUGH THE WALL was never intended to be part of a series. I purposely wrote it to be self contained. My publisher told me to pitch more when I was ready, so I looked at this story, looked at what I could do with it and BAM—Apple Trail, Arkansas was born with a few edits.

-My editor flagged the line about bock-bock asking if I meant something else and I replied with no, “I mean bock-bock, like chicken speak.” I couldn’t hardly type it for laughing, because it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever said before and just knew she was going to write me off as crazy.

About the Author:
Keri Ford was raised in South Arkansas on a farm surrounded by family, horses, cows, donkeys, ostriches, emus, chickens, ducks, Canadian Geese, and enough dogs one would think they were a pound…and then she bought a Cosmopolitan when she was twenty-two. She doesn’t recall the fantastic sex tip that drew her to the magazine, but she vividly remembers reading an excerpt of Christina’s Skye’s Code Name: Princess. One elevator scene and quick thought of, I didn’t know people wrote stuff like this… and her life would never be the same.

You can find and connect with Keri here:

May 22, 2011
This review is the prequel of my APPLE TRAIL WEEK that will run from today until Friday May 27th. There will be reviews of the first 3 Uninhibited in Apple Trail, Arkansas series, guestposts by the author Keri Ford with a vlog on Wednesday and of course there will be prizes...lots and lots of prizes, graciously offered by the lovely Keri Ford. I hope this review will whet your appetite for the coming week and you'll come back tomorrow for one of Keri Ford's favorite excerpt from this series and to find out what the prizes are and how you can win them (one hint: start commenting on this review *wink*).

Stephanie Faulker doesn’t want wild and raunchy, just a little spice. She’s been hearing her neighbor’s nightly sexcapades through her bedroom wall and she wants a turn!

But Parker Madison isn’t so easily swayed. He wants Stephanie all right, but not just in the bedroom. He wants commitment and long-term, not a quick roll.

Short-term does not lead to long term. Or can it….hmm…we’ll have to wait and see what these two can do!

Author: Keri Ford
Series: Uninhibited in Apple Trail, Arkansas, book 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Year of release: 2010, December 20
Format: eBook
Source: Bought via Smashwords

First line:
Summer in the south was like living in a sauna 24/7.

Memorable Scenes:
- breakfast scene > This scene made a lasting impression on me.

Neighbors, friends and coworkers Stephanie Faulkner and Parker Madison are about to take their friendship to another level at Stephanie’s instigation. She wants Parker and isn’t taking no for an answer.

The star of THROUGH THE WALL for me was the heroine Stephanie Faulkner. Most of the time it’s the hero who stands out for me in the stories I read and in this book, while Parker isn’t too shabby, Stephanie definitely stole the show. She’s smart, sweet and determined.

Keri Ford was a new-to-me-author, once again found via Twitter. I saw a mention of her debut at Turquoise Morning and once I read the blurb I was a goner. Contemporary romance with a friends-to-lovers trope? I didn’t know how fast to hit that buy-button and I’m so very glad I did because it led me to a lovely read.

One thing that really stood out to me in THROUGH THE WALL was the humor that was there from the very start. I really like Keri's voice a lot and she made me instantly like Stephanie. As far as tropes go…you say: friends-to-lovers and I immediately say: Yes, please! And Keri Ford's THROUGH THE WALL is one of the better ones I've recently read with this trope.

My first taste of Keri’s Ford’s work has certainly left me wanting more. THROUGH THE WALL was a quick, enjoyable and well-written story even if the ending was rather sudden. Still, in the short span of the story Keri Ford managed to put her Apple Trail series on my radar and I'll definitely be looking out for the future books.

Favorite Quotes:
She licked the last bit of salt from her now empty plastic cup and eyed the fine piece of hardened, tanned flesh prowling through the crowd. Yes, prowling. Parker took long strides, his eyes always searching and looking around; his mouth perfectly kicked up in this little grin that made the butterflies in her belly smile.

Parker breathed and continued working at talking himself out of it. A few moments of fun. Catch a bit of ass and apparently, possibly, spank some of it, too. Not how he’d wanted Stephanie Faulkner all these years. She was supposed to be a slow and torturous unwrapping. Hours spent learning each creamy, soft inch of her skin. Time taken to see what set her off and what made her beg and ache for more.

May 20, 2011
More wild thing than man…
Zeke Noble has escaped from a secret facility; he has no idea why he was abducted, but the experiments were cruel, soul-killing, and they changed him forever. Now free, his natural affinity with animals has evolved into a dark and dangerous instinct, a curse that costs him too much of his humanity. But he has to rebuild his life, or his tormentors win. To that end, he goes looking for work and finds so much more.

Born to be wild…
Veterinarian Geneva Harper finds herself reluctantly drawn to the lean, mysterious young man to whom the wild is second nature, but she has troubles of her own. She’s the black sheep in an old moneyed Southern family, and she never had any interest in learning the family business, or being the good debutante daughter.

Though Zeke’s wanted Neva for as long as he can remember, their attraction can never go anywhere. They both know that for different reasons. But when a killer starts leaving behind a trail of victims, Zeke’s need to protect her is as fierce as his desire to claim her as his mate. And love may be the only thing that can save them both…

Author: Ava Gray
Series: Skin Series, book 3
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year of release: 2011, January 4
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Received a digital ARC from author for review

First line:
All the animals were gone.

Memorable Scenes:
- Neva listening/spying on Zeke’s self-pleasuring > this was an important scene to the romance and for the balance between Zeke and Neva…not to mention it was HOT

Zeke Noble is one of the escapees from the underground facility from SKIN TIGHT. Zeke is something else. He had my admiration from the very start of this book with the way he tried to cope with what had been done to him and getting back his life. He has an affinity with animals because of what was done to him. His quirkiness made him extremely likeable and a memorable character in this series. I really loved how Zeke talked in short sentences and few words. It wasn’t an abundance of words and yet they conveyed so very much. Can’t praise Ava Gray enough for her creation of Zeke.

Geneva 'Neva' Harper comes from money but decided to become a vet and work for a living. She has a problematic and complicated relationship with her parents especially since her twin brother Luke disappears without a trace. She’s self-sufficient, emotion-driven and a fixer. She’s also a caretaker, always making sure other people’s (and animal’s) needs are taken care of and thereby losing sight of her own needs.

In the beginning of the book I did feel it was a bit less intense or fast-paced than the previous two books in the series. It felt less powerful or intense than books 1 and 2 but this doesn’t mean I enjoyed it less. I loved reading Zeke and Neva’s story and was intrigued by the serial killer angle in the suspense. It took me a while to finish SKIN HEAT but this had nothing to do with the book. A limited amount of time to read made it a slow read, not the book itself. I was forced to read it in small increments of a few pages at a time, which gave me time to slowly savor every bit of it.

The suspense part and the romance part did feel like two completely separate parts of the book until the very end, when it was all brought together with Neva and her family as the connecting factors. Every time I was reading the suspense stuff, the killer’s POV or Emile Herbert’s POV I would have the feeling I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting to find out the why of it all and see how everything was connected. And I must say it wasn’t until right before the ‘big reveal’ scene that I knew the why and who of the suspense plot.

SKIN HEAT is the book in the series up till now with the least paranormal feel to it. To me it felt more romantic suspense-like than the first two books. At least it did right until the end, at that moment Ava Gray reminded me that this series does have paranormal elements and they cannot be denied. Ever since the first book in this series there has been the discussion of whether the books are paranormal or romantic suspense. To me they are romantic suspense with a paranormal element but quite frankly I couldn’t care less in what subgenre to put these books because there’s absolutely no doubt that SKIN HEAT and its predecessors qualify as romance with a capital R.

I’ve said it before and will say it again: Ava Gray's writing mesmerizes me. From the very first page I'm drawn into the characters, their story and the writing. These books should be turned into a movie or TV series. They're written creating such a vivid and imaginative imagery that I can effortlessly picture them on a screen.

The suspense plot with the serial killer, Zeke’s back-story and his paranormal abilities all take a backseat to the beautifully written romance between Neva and Zeke. That was what made this book memorable to me and made me enjoy it just as much as I did the previous installments despite the slightly less powerful impact it had on me. Ava Gray is on my keeper shelves, on my auto-buy list and she’s there to stay. Bring on the next book, please Ms Gray!

Favorite Quotes:
Back then, he’d thought she looked like a fawn, all legs and eyes. Now she had curves, the kind that made a man want to see how deep the softness ran.

He didn’t think there was a word for what he felt for her, some awful mix of adoration and helpless longing. And it knotted up inside him, leaving him mute and sick with the impossibility of it.

“You like this?” She knew the answer. She just wanted to hear his voice again, raw with passion.
“Love,” he growled. “Love.”
He imbued that one word with impossible layers of meaning—somehow, spoken so, it became endearment, demand, and declaration.

May 18, 2011
Having all of her is the only thing that will satisfy him...

Shawn Griffin and Rachel Cooper have been best friends practically since birth, thanks to their families’ close relationship. But for the past few years, Shawn has been fantasizing about getting his best pal in his bed. When she announces she’s taking a trip to reconnect with an old lover, Shawn knows the time has come to put up or shut up. If she wants to go to New York City, fine. But he’s coming with her.

Rachel doesn’t know what to think of Shawn’s sudden interest. Determined to live life on her own terms, she refuses to fall right in line with her wealthy family’s wish that they get married and have perfect little babies. She just didn’t count on how determined her seemingly laid back -- and extremely sexy -- best friend would become after setting his sights on what he wants. Her, over and over again.

But when tragedy strikes, Rachel begins to wonder if she’ll lose not only her lover but her best friend too.

Author: Cari Quinn
Series: standalone (as far as I know)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
Publisher: Loose ID
Year of release: 2011, February 15
Format: eBook
Source: Received an e-ARC from author for review

First line:
She had a choice to make. To go or to stay. To have an incredible adventure or to stay snuggled in the soulless crypt of her comfort zone.

Memorable Scenes:
- Shawn’s skills with handcuffs > clever thinking there ;-)
- Every.Single.Sex.Scene > pages could’ve easily caught fire is all I’m saying! And the best thing is I wouldn’t have noticed as I was enthralled by the sexy, sexy scenes!
- BEYOND MEMORABLE: The elevator scene!!! I never thought I would ever say this but Cari’s elevator smexing scene trumps ANY office smex scene I have ever read! There! I said it!

Rachel Cooper and Shawn Griffin have been best friends forever, since they were in diapers. When Rachel’s contemplating to visit an ex on the other side of the country to have a sexual fling and some closure Shawn surprises her by telling he’s going with her. Shawn’s been in love with Rachel for years and when she tells him his plans he decides enough is enough and now is the time to show her he’s the only man she needs.

Rachel resists taking her relationship with Shawn beyond either friendship or just sex for several reasons. For one, she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship with emotions. Another reason is her natural resistance to doing anything her parents expect from her, her rebellion against her parents so to speak. Third is fear. She has loved once and he hurt her so she shields herself from it as to not risk the chance of getting hurt again. Rachel doesn’t do love, at least that’s what she thinks, but Shawn sneaked up on her and nestled himself in her heart way before she’s ready to admit it.

Shawn and Rachel are very alike. They both compartmentalize things, they’re both stubborn and tenacious. I loved the banter between them. They are very comfortable with each other, which I guess is one of the reasons I love the friends-to-lovers trope so much.

The romance in INSATIABLE was built up excellently. Shawn was quicker in accepting what was between him and Rachel as he’d acknowledged his feelings for her much earlier. And Rachel, though slowly giving into the chemistry and her changing feelings (from close friendship to sexual interest to love), she remains hesitant and doesn’t jump in with both feet. I really liked that Cari Quinn took this road as nothing bothers me more than overnight changes of heart or sudden epiphany moments that make a story feel rushed. Well, there was nothing rushed about INSATIABLE. Thank you for that, Cari!

Cari Quinn’s sex scenes are so awesome I can’t even find appropriate adjectives to describe them or how I feel about them any more. If anyone deserves the title of author of the hottest sex scenes ever, it’s her. But the sexy scenes aren’t what solely attracts me to her books and keep me coming back for more. Her characters, especially her heroes, are terrifically written. The chemistry and dynamics between her characters, their dialogues, their histories and their personalities…All of it comes together perfectly and smoothly and more importantly it works oh so well for me I just drown in the books and don’t want to come up for air.

Cari Quinn hit all my emotional buttons with INSATIABLE. Next to the sizzling scenes there are also emotional moments of doubt and self-recrimination that caused lumps in my throat. It’s known I have a soft spot for books with heat, emotion and humor. INSATIABLE ticked every single one of those boxes for me. And wow, I was totally shaken up at the end of this story. Not only did something unexpected throw me for a loop, the ending also definitely touched a personal reality for me. I was tearing up through the entire last chapter and literally and loudly bawled at Rachel’s speech during a certain event. (Won’t say which event as it will spoil the powerful ending of this story). This last chapter, even knowing there had to be a HEA, had me worried for a while about how this was going to be wrapped up and I must say Ms Quinn hit it out of the ballpark with the end.

I love reading Cari Quinn’s books so much once I start a book of hers I can’t put it down and INSATIABLE definitely was not an exception to that. With INSATIABLE she gave me stuff like himbo, hit-and-run sex and nibblicious butt. Just for that she deserves an extra point for this book.

I don’t think I can come up with any fresh new words to praise Cari Quinn’s writing. I’ve complained about the short length of her stories before and with INSATIABLE this complaint has been completely taken away as I was treated to a well-written rounded story with enough pages and room for more back-story and depth to the characters than in her shorter stories.

There wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like about INSATIABLE. It aroused me, it made me laugh and it made cry. The perfect triad for a perfect read!

Favorite Quotes:
He’d cajoled her to come with him to this thing, but she wasn’t dancing with him. Nope. She preferred to dance with the first himbo who twirled the pretty pink umbrella in her mixed drink. (LOVE LOVE LOVE Cari for introducing me to the word ‘himbo’ here. I laughed out loud, really hard, when I read it. Brilliant!)

His hooded green eyes offered wicked delights his equally naughty lips promised to fulfill, if a woman didn’t exhaust herself on the fantasy before she’d sampled the reality.

Air swept over her fevered skin as he tugged down the zipper, but she didn’t stop him. He’d flipped a switch inside her, and now he kept his finger on the button, playing her expertly.

Then Rachel walked into the room, her short geisha girl outfit revealing a mile and a half of leg, and his muscles locked as if he were a wolf that had just scented its mate.

She’d known Shawn all her life, and until two days ago, she’d believed, perhaps naively, that she understood him better than anyone. She knew what to buy him for his birthday—books on architecture or a gift certificate to his favorite art store, so he could buy his preferred brand of sketch pads and blue pencils —and how to make his favorite kind of peanut butter sandwich, with strawberry jelly and banana on extra-dark toast. But she didn’t know this dangerously tempting man who’d just stared at her as if he wanted to swallow her in one greedy, finger-licking gulp.

“What are you looking for then?”
“What I’ve already found.” He took a breath. Let it out again. “I love you, Rachel.”
When her expression didn’t change, he let out a self-deprecating laugh. “Capital L, Rach. The big kahuna. Not best-pal love, but the I-want-to-eat-tropical-fruit-drizzled-with-honey-off-your-breasts-and-make-love-to-you-all-night kind. Get my drift?”

May 17, 2011

When two strangers meet by chance, their shared ecstasy challenges cultural differences and changes the course of their future.

Two societies have lived apart on a remote planet for generations. At the top of the Dwelling live the Aerotaun, people who have built wings to help them fly. The bottom is occupied by the Marimar, hearty swimmers who live and feed by the sea. Because of the mystery surrounding their ancestors’ landing, suspicions and distrust thrive between the cultures.

Until a taboo encounter occurs on an isolated beach.

Ariana, an Aerotaun, cannot resist the seductive allure of the forbidden Andreus. Their few days alone ignite sexual exploration and uninhibited ecstasy. But when Ariana finally learns the shocking secret about their purpose on the planet, she must decide if her heart belongs with her people or the sexy Marimar.

Warning: This title contains the following: explicit sex and graphic language.

Title: TABOO
Author: Leslie Dicken
Series: I have no information on whether this book is part of a series so I’m classifying it as a standalone
Genre: Futuristic Romance, Erotic Romance (Light) Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Year of release: 2011, May 17
Format: eBook
Source: Received an e-ARC for review from author

First line:
He was forbidden.

Memorable Scene:
-scene at the lagoon where Andreus finally takes Ariana > the build up to it made it an impressively climactic scene

TABOO is my first encounter with Leslie Dicken’s work, despite having two of her historical romances on my digital bookshelves. After reading TABOO I know I want to read those soon though because this first taste of her writing has left me wanting to read more.

Before receiving a review copy of TABOO I talked to Leslie Dicken on Twitter about this book because having read the blurb I was convinced it wasn’t going to be a book that would completely fit my reading preferences. I thought it was an erotic fantasy romance and though I don’t shy away from erotic romances, I have learned, reading romance over the years, that fantasy romance is not quite my cup of tea. However, when Leslie Dicken mentioned that TABOO was more light fantasy and science fiction romance-ish, I started to get more and more intrigued by the book as the title had already captured my attention.

Though TABOO classifies as a sci-fi/fantasy erotic romance I couldn't escape the historic vibe Leslie Dicken’s writing gave off. The writing style was agreeable and fluent and I was soon immersed in the story of Ariana and Andreus but I did find the writing to have a historic feel to it, especially in the wording and sentences.

Though the start was slow and it took me a chapter or two to get into the story, it remained fascinating and intriguing and soon I was curious as to how the story would unfold. Once I got past the first two chapters I had little trouble envisioning the world Leslie Dicken created in this story and found the mix between world building, eroticism and plot to be nicely balanced. I also really liked how Leslie Dicken set up the world within this book, with the two different people and the star-crossed lovers trope.

Although I do think the story was too short for extensive characterization, I really liked the characters and their backgrounds. In that vein, I must also say the plot, the eroticism and the world building made a bigger impression on me than the characterization.

The love scenes were explicit and sexy and the sexual tension was built up excellently towards the scene where they finally fully give in to the chemistry between them. At first I wasn't sure I liked that Ariana is betrothed to one man and lusting after/attracted to another and the one thing I didn't really like was the way this was also not addressed in the end when Ariana never really tells her intended she wants out of their betrothal but does get her HEA with Andreus.

The story focuses mainly on Ariana and Andreus as there are hardly any secondary characters. If I counted them correctly there were two on page secondary characters who appeared extremely briefly and there was one mention of a secondary character but that was it. Understandably because as I’ve mentioned the plot, eroticism and world building didn’t leave much room for characterization and it’s not more than logical that too many secondary characters would take away even more space for Ariana and Andreus to be thrive as main characters.

TABOO is a character-driven and sensual fantasy-ish science fiction romance that, after a somewhat slow start, managed to capture and keep my attention with its excellent writing and fascinating plot and world building. I loved the original and refreshing setting and backdrop for the romance and I really enjoyed the sexy, sensual love scenes. This first taste of Leslie Dicken’s work certainly won’t be my last.

Favorite Quotes:
“Tell me,” he whispered in a voice thick and gruff. “Did your lover kiss you like this?”

She slipped the tip of her tongue out to taste him. His flavor was raw and wild, like the sea he tried to tame.

“Make me well,” he whispered against her mouth. “So I may ravage you again.”

A small tug of male pride curled his lips. He’d have her screaming before it was all over.

May 16, 2011
She was made for sin. Sin was something he knew intimately.

Bestselling YA author John Murphy is the acclaimed Master of Monsters. But when the door creaks shut, the monsters master him. His haunted past has destined him to hell, but he won’t let that get in the way of enjoying his present or his delicious new neighbor. Enthralled by her, his secrets begin to unravel and the pages of his latest manuscript are written by his deepest fears…and in blood.

Pastry chef owner of The Sugar Shack, Livvy Andrews is as sinfully sweet as the confections she makes and just as irresistible. Her hidden passions erupt when a spicy new neighbor moves in next door and she is powerless against the lure of a man familiar with the erotic delicacies of life. She realizes there are more layers to him than she imagined, each one a delicious or frightening discovery. As lust turns to love, Livvy will master the monsters John keeps in the dark— but at what price?

Author: Inez Kelley
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Year of release: 2011, January 31
Format: ebook
Source: Requested from publisher via NetGalley

First line:
A splash of bloody red in the bleu sky fluttered like a shapeless bird before landing on his forearm. John plunked the box down and picked up the silky red bra.

Memorable Scenes:
- Kitchen scene at 4th of July get-together > hot
- Frosting scene at the Sugar Shack > beyond hot
- The scene with Emily at the Salvatori picnic > Go Livvy!
- Livvy’s “one-woman show” performance for John > scorching doesn’t even come close to describing it.

First off I want to apologize to Inez Kelley for this totally sucky review of an awesome book. I read this book months ago and immediately rated it 10 out of 10, a perfect read because of the huge emotional impact it had on me. However the impact didn’t translate into review notes because as I sat down to finally write this review, I discovered I had only 3 little paragraphs of notes about this book. How am I going to go on and on and on about this incredibly amazing book in my review with just 3 paragraphs of notes about 3 to 4 months after finishing the book. This is not how I roll, people…So sorry Inez, I wasn’t more prolific in taking notes of why SWEET AS SIN is such a brilliant book and the following review is all I can do to convince other readers to buy and read this compelling and touching masterpiece you created.

John Murphy is a YA author. He’s intense, has sarcastic wit and he’s provoking, but beneath all that is a caring, gentle, broken man. When I read the blurb and the beginning of this book I was apprehensive about his character and didn’t know if I was going to click with him. But somehow he crawled inside my head and I can honestly say it was difficult and emotional but I slowly but surely fell in love with this man Inez Kelley created. And it was in a way I really didn’t expect. It was trough the snippets of his book that he touched me the deepest and I never thought I’d ever say it but if this YA book was ever a reality I would definitely read it. There! I said it…and I am NOT a YA reader, absolutely not!

Livvy Andrews is a pastry chef and owner of the Sugar Shack. I adored Livvy from the very start. She is cautious, nurturing, caring and vivacious. A character you root for and wish to see get her HEA. The way she handled John and everything that came along with him was admirable and earned her a spot on my favorite heroine’s list.

The secondary characters were equally awesome as the main couple. They were there, picking up the pieces, offering a willing ear and creating fun moments. I wouldn’t have missed them all for the world, as they were just as important to the overall feel of this book as John and Livvy were.

I shouldn't be surprised that once again I'm in awe of Inez Kelley's powerful writing. She creates magic with words and sentences. The magic she creates with words never ceases to amaze me and I’ve only read her (erotic) contemporary romances. Her words create the perfect mix of heat, humor and emotion. Smiles, tears and hot flashes alternated while reading SWEET AS SIN, each one trying to get to the forefront and trying to claim me.

I suspect now that whenever I hear the phrase “ How hungry are you?” in the near future I’ll think back to this book and that scene. The scene was pivotal, sizzling hot and mesmerizing. Thinking back, I get tingly all over again.

Thank you Ms Kelley! Thank you for this wonderful book that broke my heart and almost left me speechless. My heart broke for John and for Livvy. The amount of tissues I needed to get through this book was daunting. When I reached the last page I was emotionally drained, my eyes were red and swollen from the tears running down my face but most of all, my romantic heart was whole again, happy and satisfied.

Favorite Quotes:
Her treacherous body responded to his scrutiny with a whorish force. Pure animalistic lust flared, and she fought the primal urge to preen for him. Arrogant sexy bastard.

She was too mouthwatering to be ravished. He wanted to savor her spice until it burned him, let her sweetness flood his bitter soul until his teeth ached with it.

“You, I want your sugar, Livvy, melting on my tongue.”
Erotic, naughty and exactly the right ones to say, his words painted a picture that plunged her body into shivers of anticipation.

John was all the seven deadly sins personified. LUST blazed most forcefully, carving his features with demonic beauty. PRIDE bowed his mouth as he watched her tongue skate across her bottom lip. Only GLUTTONY could describe the hunger in the gaze raking over her body. SLOTH slowed his movements tormenting her with his absolute control, but WRATH battled in his expression, urging him to possess her. Rapturous GREED heated his skin and he took her mouth in primitive passion. His tongue darted into her mouth and ENVY coveted her very breath. chose Aurian as the winner of a copy of PROMISES IN THE DARK.
Congratulations Aurian! An email has been sent for your address details so I can get your copy to you as soon as possible.

Thanks everyone who visited and read the review, and entered the giveaway.

May 13, 2011

Two guys. A girl. One incredible game of pool…

Scarlett wants to escape, even if it’s just for a little while. So she heads to Southern Comfort, where she’ll find a certain marine she can’t get out of her head. And she knows he won’t be alone.

Michael spies the uptight woman of his dreams the minute she fights through the crowd. She’s sexy as sin and he can’t take his eyes off her while she flirts over some liquid courage. When she finally heads his way, it’s time to find out if she can live up to her end of the fantasy.

Red-hot chemistry may call the shots, but once you take the double hit… The game is on.

Author: Eve Cassidy
Series: Standalone, part of Ellora’s Cave EXOTIKA line
Genre: Erotica, Erotic Romance, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Year of release: 2010, September 2
Format: eBook
Source: Bought via Jasmine Jade eBook store

First line:
Scarlett Bailey approached the entrance to the bar with equal parts trepidation and excitement.

Memorable Scenes:
The scene just before the pool game starts > hot!

Quick & Dirty-review:

Interesting stuff on a pool table, a little bit of dirty talk and the fulfillment of a fantasy.

Normally I break this part down into hero and heroine but because the story was so short I didn’t get an extensive enough picture of the characters to send them through my usual character analysis so I’m sweeping them all up together in one short paragraph

The main characters of this story are the commanding and forceful Sergeant Michael Conner and Scarlett Bailey. Scarlett is a passionate wicked woman underneath the veneer of a straight-laced marine, looking for a good time with the man she's longed for, ever since she was placed in his unit.

I need to read more of Eve Cassidy's work to be able to form a founded opinion but this short story definitely made me want to taste more

- set up of the story and build-up of the sexual tension
- the unexpected twist at the end of the story

- the shortness of the story that didn’t leave room for exploration of the characters

Extremely short (only 32 pages) but very hot ménage story with an unexpected little twist at the end. Liked it but would love to read 'the whole story' on Michael and Scarlett.

Favorite Quotes:
Then she spotted him in the form of snug jeans riding low on his waist and a black . . . between her thighs and her skin tingled clear to her scalp.

He looked up just in time to see her lick it, slam it and suck it on a tequila shot and his mouth watered at the sight.

May 11, 2011

Single mom Lizzie Bea Carpenter learned long ago that no white knight was coming to save her. A hardworking waitress at the local diner, she's raising her daughter to be like the independent women in her "Enemy Club"--high school rivals turned best friends, promising to always tell each other the whole truth and nothing but!

Yet part of Lizzie wishes she did have a man's help, just for small stuff, like fixing up the house. Her fairy godmother must have been listening, because Dante "Tay" Giovanni soon appears. He's sexy, kind, and offering assistance--no strings attached.

Slowly, steadily, Lizzie's heart opens. But the grip of the past is fierce, and nothing in life is ever really free. Tay has his own tragedies to overcome, but if he can, he'll fix more than Lizzie's home. He'll show her just how sweet it is to be loved by him.

Author: Sophie Gunn
Series: Enemy Club Series, book 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Year of release: 2011, January 1
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Received an ARC from the author for review

First line:
For over a week the envelope sat on the dining room table unnoticed, buried under a stack of birdseed catalogues and household bills like a bomb waiting to go off.

Memorable Scenes:
- The scene where Tay tells Lizzie about the accident > this scene hit an emotional button while the rest of the book was pretty lighthearted and fun

Lizzie Bea Carpenter is a single mom, trying to wing her way through life, supporting herself and her daughter, working as a waitress. I really liked Lizzie. Her relationship with her daughter Paige was depicted in a realistic way (as far as I can judge that from a daughter’s POV, as I’m not a mother).

Dante ‘Tay’ Giovanni caused a deadly accident by running a red light. He’s ran away from his life and is now trying to redeem himself by helping others, trying to escape his past and his memories. Tay is mysterious and guilt-ridden. He has a complicated past but he also has a big heart, is a fixer and wants to be helpful.

My first encounter with Sophie Gunn’s work was a truly pleasant one. I utterly enjoyed reading HOW SWEET IT IS. I was effortlessly pulled into the lives and problems of Lizzie and those who surround her. The easy, crisp writing style definitely contributed to my enjoyment but I also loved the premise and the depth in the characters, their background stories, the small town setting and the impact it had on the romance and story.

I loved the humor in this book. There was a layer of subtle humor throughout the entire book and sometimes that subtle romance would evolve into straight laugh-out-loud moment or put-a-big-grin-on-my-face moments.

Sophie Gunn had a knack for keeping you hooked and curious to know how certain events are going to turn out and I really liked that. The way she combined the main story with the multiple side-stories, without taking away the focus from the main characters, kept the book fast-paced and moving full steam ahead.

Though Tay’s guilt-ridden and self-punishing attitude started to get on my nerves a little at some point, it didn’t bother me immensely because it was needed to make the resolution believable and give it the power of impact it eventually had. It also contributed to the realistic feel of the book and separated it from the fluffy light contemporaries making it a little darker without losing its humorous tone.

Reading this book left me with a warm fuzzy feeling. HOW SWEET IT IS is a lovely, endearing and sweet contemporary romance that any contemporary romance reader can’t help but warm up to within a few pages. It’s about redemption, forgiveness, and the ability to let go and move on, about looking toward the future instead of back to the past. And when you flip the last page, you’ll emit a satisfied sigh, awaiting the HEA for the next member of The Enemy Club.

Favorite Quotes:
“You don’t know what I want.”
“Neither do you, obviously. But I have a feeling it has something to do with this place.”
“Here? Why?”
“I don’t know, but I think you do. Isn’t it kind of obvious, Liz? You do the opposite of what you want because you think it’s right. But I don’t give a shit about right or wrong. I don’t even believe in right or wrong. Just in the truth and being honest. Come on, talk to me Lizzie.”

Then she leaned down and kissed him ever so gently on the corner of his lips. He didn’t move. His eyes were on hers, intense and unreadable.
So she kissed the middle of his lips, softly, lingering on the warmth. She felt the presence of his body under hers, totally still, as if venom from her kiss had paralyzed him.
She stood up again and went back to her chair. They looked at each other across the room.
“Wow,” he said. “That was a surprise.”
“I did it because I wanted to do it,” she said. “And because I don’t give a crap about what you want. I’m going to fix you, Tay, whatever the hell you say. Because I want you. And I’ve decided to get what I want, no matter what it means to anyone else.”
For once he was speechless. “I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.”
“I’m not so sure I care what you think.”
And then, to her utter relief, he smiled.

May 9, 2011
The higher the stakes, the hotter the game.

Ana Hudson enjoys her picture-perfect marriage to the love of her life. Everything is pleasant, easy—and satisfying. Then an anonymous e-mail arrives filled with lurid pictures of Taylor’s youthful exploits, leaving her wondering if she really knows him at all. More importantly…does she know herself?

Driven to uncover the truth and push the limits of their sexual boundaries, she convinces Taylor to arrange a weekend getaway to a friend’s luxury cottage in the mountains. It’s the perfect place to get her husband to spill his secrets—and show him there’s a wealth of kinky fantasies hiding inside his good girl.

Taylor’s spent years suppressing his animalistic side, hiding the not-completely-human DNA that once drove him wild. Except now his once quiet, reserved Ana has launched a campaign to destroy every inch of his hard-won control.

With the snowy wilderness containing his darkest memories surrounding them, and his old pack-mate dropping in to give them a few pointers, the sexual battle of wills gets fierce.

Warning: Contains a brooding, dirty-minded, not-quite-human hero, a sweet not-quite-good-girl heroine, a howling-hawt car ride up a mountain, a chase through the snow followed by an erotic adventure with sports equipment, oral sex, anal sex, and a M/F/M ménage scene that will leave you panting.

Author: Alisha Rai
Series: Reynolds Pack, book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Erotic Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Year of release: 2010, December 14
Format: eBook
Source: Received e-ARC from author for review

First line:
Wine was safe, the perfect complement for any dinner.

Memorable Scenes:
- drive to and arrival at the cottage > who'd have thought that of Ana...
- Ana and Taylor watching p0rn > never knew watching p0rn could be described so scorchingly hot

NEVER HAVE I EVER starts with preparations for a getaway to the Adirondacks for the Hudsons. Ana has received an anonymous email about her husband...Which prompts her into showing him her inner bad girl. Taylor has been suppressing his true nature as a shifter due to things that happened in his past and plays with fire when he takes Ana back to a part of his turbulent past. Slowly his sexual dominance returns to the surface and Ana turns out to be more accepting of it than he thought.

Ana is a shy, cautious and organized worrywart. I liked Ana but I'm not sure I would’ve tackled “her problem” the way she did. Taylor, Ana’s husband, at first sight is calm, quiet and gruff but that exterior hides an intense, commanding man underneath who can be sweet and funny as well.

I really liked that NEVER HAVE I EVER tells the story of an already married couple. I always like when I don't have to suspend disbelief to enjoy hot and heavy sexy times, which I normally do when new couples go at just a few pages into the story. The sex scenes in this one are very hot. Both Taylor and Ana know how to crank up the heat level in those scenes. I’d never read a scene in a romance novel this elaborated about a couple watching p0rn before and Alisha Rai definitely wins points there for originality and hotness.

With every page I read it got steamier and more interesting. And speaking of interesting, keep an eye out for Eli, Taylor’s best friend and pack-mate, when you read this book. He definitely made it to my “anticipating this character’s book”-list. I hope to see more of the pack and its members in possible future books. And definitely would like to see Eli's story and find out who's going to be at the receiving end of his alpha hotness and bring him the HEA he's yearning for.

NEVER HAVE I EVER is a very nice and steamy novella that brushed a few subjects like D/s and bondage in a light way. The werewolf stuff was a nice backdrop, but no more than that, as for me the paranormal element was not the strongpoint in this story. It was the emotional impact and sizzling chemistry between the characters that made it a memorable read for me.

Favorite Quotes:
She bit her lip, wishing she could just turn off the part of her that worried and fretted and thought everything through three thousand times before settling on something. Vowing to change was easy; altering a lifetime’s habit was harder. (This quote was like seeing into my own soul...this is so me!)

He drifted closer and reached down to unwork the knot she’d made of the apron ties. They were stubborn.
Cloth bands, securing Ana’s slender wrists to his metal bedframe…
He yelped. Flat-out yelped, like a fucking nancy boy, and dropped his hands. Blinking, he looked up to meet her puzzled gaze.

She actually had to check herself from sighing in feminine appreciation when he walked over to her. When they’d first met, Ana had immediately known that Eli probably never lacked for female company. Forget the fact that he was rich and gorgeous. His walk alone, all loose limbed and easy and confident, was a screaming aphrodisiac to single women everywhere. Hell, not just the single women. She might be madly in love with Taylor, but she could spot a prime male specimen when he sauntered up to her.

“See. We can have it all,” she said, breathless, when they parted. The wild beast and the civilized man; the dark hunger and the tender romance.

May 5, 2011

Sam Kelly was her first love.
The last person Sam Kelly expected to pull wounded from the lake was Sophie Lundgren. Once they shared a brief, intense affair while Sam was undercover and then she vanished. She's spent the last months on the run, knowing that any mistake would cost her life and that of her unborn child—Sam's child. Now she's resurfaced with a warning for Sam: this time, he's the one in danger.

Now he's her last chance.
Sam has too many questions to let her slip away again—like why she disappeared in the first place. This time he vows not to be seduced. But one look in her eyes, and the passion burns again, and Sam knows he’ll do anything to keep her and his child safe. However, Sophie’s dark past is more dangerous than he imagines, and the only way for either to survive it is to outrun it.

Author: Maya Banks
Series: Kelly/KGI series, book 2
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year of release: 2010, December 7
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 332 pages
Source: Received a digital ARC from the author for review

First line:
He was waiting for her as soon as she opened the door to his hotel room.

Memorable Scenes:
- First chapter > Maya Banks didn't hold back with this opening and immediately set the tone like only she can
- Bathroom scene with Sam, Sophie and their unborn child > I totally choked up, so beautiful
- Sophie telling about her mother > I bawled like a baby!

Sam Kelly is loyal and intense. Falling for someone while undercover is very out of character for focused, stoic and responsible Sam Kelly but it's exactly what happens. His carefree life comes to a complete end when his affair ends in a pregnancy and everyone around him, including his unborn child, are in grave danger. His intensity and sense of loyalty shine through and come in handy facing this situation he’s suddenly thrown in.

Sophie Lundgren is strong, self-reliant and feisty. Despite her delicate and petite appearance she's a tough cookie and resourceful. She's learned early in life to not show any weakness but throughout the book there were moments of fragility and vulnerability that made me love her as much as I loved her for her fierceness and strength. Sophie gives as good as she gets. She doesn't take crap and does what she must to survive and protect her unborn child.

I could argue that Sophie should've been more upfront with Sam and should've told him the whole story when she went to him for protection but that would've taken away a lot of the tension and anticipation of the suspense plot so I won't hold it against Maya Banks for writing the story like that.

NO PLACE TO RUN starts out more like an erotic romance than a romantic suspense, as it is very hot and explicit from the first page. However, you’ll hear no objections from me there as Sam left a lasting first impression on me. I already knew from her Sweet Series that Maya Banks can write some hot and steamy stuff in a contemporary setting and I am very happy to see she also does this in a romantic suspense setting. This will make me come back for more every time.

At first glance the suspense may seem predictable because a lot of information is known to the reader and there's no unknown bad guy lurking around to make you guess but this didn’t bother me in the least as I knew the suspense was waiting for me around the corner. And just when I was thinking that I was missing some suspense and action other than Sophie and Sam trying to stay safe, the action kicked into gear and nail-biting events started following each other in a fast pace. And it’s awesomely written too. Early on you learn the identity of Sophie's father, a fact that is crucial to the suspense plot and from then on it's a rollercoaster of events and action that kept me at the edge of my seat and not wanting to stop reading.

I really love how Maya Banks writes male characters, family dynamics and brotherly banter. I really enjoyed reading about the other brothers and their backgrounds. This book had less multiple POVs than the first book in the series, which gave it a very different vibe too together with Sam and Sophie’s story being so very different from Rachel and Ethan’s. These very different stories make this series stand out for me and make me wish there are many, many more to come.

I have absolutely NOTHING I didn't like or that bothered me about this book! I cried, I smiled, I bit my nails, and I feared, I was outraged, I lamented and I went all 'awwww', all in the span of these 300+ pages. With the KGI series Maya Banks has turned me from avid fan to a devoted one, writing Romantic Suspense I love to read and rave about.

Favorite Quotes:
(Garrett) "We're in fucking Mexico trying to set up a buy with Alex Mouton, and lover boy takes time out to have some hot fling with a waitress in one of the local watering holes."
Donovan shrugged. "So? He still has a dick. Bound to use it sometime."

(Sam to Garrett) "Look, I know you're a suspicious bastard. I'm having my share of what-the-fuckitus at the moment myself, but until I hear what she has to say, I'm reserving judgment."

Sainthood. He deserved sainthood.
Not only had he stood in the bathroom with a very gorgeous, very naked woman, but he'd calmly discussed getting her things like a bra and underwear without batting an eyelash.
Give him bombs, grenades, blood, guts and gore, but bras?
Now, where the hell was he going to get her a bra?

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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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GR Reading Challenge

2011 Reading Challenge

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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