July 31, 2011

Charlotte, Duchess of Wyre, once held the Queen’s highest confidence—and the technological secret that keeps the royal heart beating. Fearful of what atrocities that Britannia might commit with her research, Charlotte turned to the galaxy’s most infamous assassin, Lord Sigmund Regret, to stage her own death.

Even without the simplest of luxuries, seven years hiding in the Americus colony is preferable to one day in the Tower of Londinium. Until a bounty hunter’s bullet forces her to revive her research. Now the same nanobots that keep the Queen alive also run rampant in Lord Regret’s body. Making his yearly Solstice visits increasingly… intimate …and complicating her courtship with the safe and honorable Sheriff Gilead Masters.

When the Americus colony declares independence, and her humble sheriff makes a shocking confession, Charlotte has had enough. Weary of running, tired of living without tea and silks, she fires a warning shot across Britannia’s bow: cease hunting Lady Wyre, or lose the technological power the crown holds so dear.

Author: Joely Sue Burkhart
Series: Jane Austen Space Opera, book 1
Genre: Science Fiction Romance, Futuristic Romance, Steampunk
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Year of release: 2011, March 29
Format: eBook
Source: Requested and received an e-ARC from the author for review

First line:
“I cannot marry you.” Charlotte Wilder struggled to take a deep breath through the heartache banding her chest, made even more difficult by her corset.

Memorable Scene:
- fight scene with the Raven Guards and its aftermath > can’t tell much about it because of spoilers but it the fight was breathtaking and the aftermath was tearjerking
- scene at the end with Charlotte and her two men > you all know my soft spot for ménages by now
-Not a scene but I found it awesome that the Marshalls’ names were Smith, Wesson, Colt, Gatlin and the their director’s name was Howitzer > these artillery piece association was a touch of brilliance, Joely Sue!

Charlotte Wilder faked her own death to escape her planet. She’s the former physician to the Queen of Brittannia and lost her position in society because she turned to science and military intelligence. Now both she and the man who helped her escape are in danger of being found out. Charlotte, lady Wyre, is proud, determined and extremely intelligent.

Charlotte is the character this novella revolves around. Her two men are Gilead Masters and Lord Sigmund Regret. Gil is sheriff and marshal on the planet she takes her refuge, Americus. He’s a soldier turned lawman and deeply in love with Charlotte. Sig is the man who helped her fake her death and flee from her home planet, Brittania. He’s a gunslinger and assassin, ruthless yet with a weakness for Charlotte.

One man wants to marry her, the other wants her to sail with him and hide from their/her enemies. They will both go to the ends of the universe for her and she doesn’t want to choose between them.

While reading this book I knew this was going to be a review that was going to be one of hardest reviews to write. Why? Because I love this author’s voice and works in other genres but this book just didn’t quite work for me. This was partly because of the genre. Steampunk is a new-to-me genre and going by this novella I don’t think it’s a genre that I will read many books in.

The reason I still enjoyed this book was because of Joely Sue Burkhart’s writing and style. Even in a genre where the technical, mechanical stuff (nanobots, assemblers, living organism handcuffs, life force protecting lockets, etc.) sometimes went a little over my head I still enjoyed the characterization, the plot and romantic aspects of the book. So I tried to read through the tech-y parts, even if I was sometimes puzzled by the futuristic stuff, and enjoy the, fascinating plot, the complicated romance and the characters that are intricately layered and brought together in a great way. Little by little you get to know them and their back-stories and I loved that.

With this series Joely Sue Burkhart has created an alternate world where future and history are meshed and a world where women are the leaders. This made LADY DOCTOR WYRE an interesting read which I enjoyed but I discovered the steampunk genre is not for me as I felt myself zoning out on the technology bits...Fascinating and though different from anything else I've read by Joely Sue Burkhart, I still enjoyed most part of the book.

If you are a lover of steampunk romances I really recommend this book and I do hope there will be more stories set in this world with these characters.

Favorite Quotes:
She’d reluctantly fallen in love with him and those hands, so incredibly gentle in their ruthlessly slow attack against her every resistance without ever once touching her intimately. (Charlotte about Gil)

Masters turned his head and pinned Sig in a hard glare. “Are you telling me you’d kill five hundred men? At once?”
“If I had to get through them to her, most definitely. I’d rip them apart one by one with my bare hands.”

July 29, 2011
Dr. Bastian Talbot and self-proclaimed sex goddess Charlie Pierce heat up the air waves with their flirty banter as radio hosts Dr. Hot and the Honeypot. Off the air, they’re best friends…but Bastian wants to be so much more. He wants Charlie—in bed, and forever.

Problem is, Charlie doesn’t do commitment. Sure, she’s had X-rated fantasies of Bastian, but he was always just a friend—until he impulsively proposes and unleashes the lust they’ve been denying for years. Charlie’s willing to explore where their wild chemistry leads, but she won’t marry him. And he won’t have sex with her until she accepts his proposal, despite her seductive schemes.

What are Dr. Hot and the Honeypot to do? Ask their listeners for advice on how to tame a sex kitten and turn a perfect gentleman into a shameless lover. The Race to Wed or Bed is on…who will turn up on top?

Author: Inez Kelley
Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Year of release: 2011, August 1
Format: eBook
Source: Received an e-ARC from author for review

First line:
“Did you just have an orgasm?”

Memorable Scenes:
- Bastian's self-control at the campsite in the beginning of the book > takes an iron will to resist Charlie on a (sexual) mission
- Bastian's (first) talk with Charlie's mom > I loved this scene as it brought me even more insight in Charlie
- the tape measuring scene > LOL funny
- Bastian's surprise for Charlie's birthday > awwww, I melted...

Charlie Pierce/Honeypot is a radio host who paid her way through college as an exotic dancer. Charlie is flirty, vivacious, hard-headed and straightforward.
Charlie was a character I was on the fence about at first. I loved her vivaciousness and zest for life and her straightforward attitude, but also had a bit of trouble with her dismissal of Bastian's feelings for he, chucking them to the lust pile in a drama-queen type way. Luckily this only lasted for about one page because underneath the sexual bravado was a vulnerable woman, afraid to love and let herself be loved.

While in most of the romances I read I relate to, or click with, the hero the most, I must say that in TURN IT UP it was Charlie who I connected with the best and she was the one who made a lasting impression on me with her back-story and character development. I may be adding another awesome lady to my favorite heroines-list.

(Se)Bastian Talbot/Dr Hot is an ER doctor. He’s quiet, introvert, protective, and iron-willed. His self-control was commendable and yet he was a hero that I didn’t connect as much with as I did with the heroine in this book. Throughout the book he remained a character that was hard for me to get a grip on and he didn’t truly come to life for me until a certain scene with his brother and towards the end of the book.

Charlie and Bastian are co-hosts of a sex-oriented radio talkshow and the best of friends, though Bastian's feelings for Charlie go beyond mere friendship and into love territory. And they're both on the opposite ends of the sex scope. Charlie is into temporary, sexual flings while Bastian wants forever and relationship sex instead of casual one-nightstand sex. I loved reading how Charlie's plan to treat Bastian as a one-night stand, after he declares his love and wants more, backfires slowly but surely.

I love the friends-to-lovers trope and with TURN IT UP Inez Kelley gave me another book to add to my favorites in this trope pile! The flirty innuendos between the radio host personas Dr Hot and Honey and the easy comfortable camaraderie and treasured friendship between Bastian and Charlie were things that really hit the mark with me. And when the two rolled into one, the boundaries getting less distinct, it came together perfectly.

The banter in the radio show was awesome. I really enjoyed these scenes and it felt like really listening to a radio-show. I also loved how Bastian threw the gauntlet during the show, asking listeners to help convince Charlie to marry him and Charlie responding by asking them to help her get in his pants. There was a part about 1/3 to 1/2 in that fizzled out a little and to me it seemed like the pace slowed and nothing happened to move the story forward, however, it picked up with a vengeance short after that.

The secondary cast was diverse and colorful. They gave the story and the main characters that additional oomph that I like so much in Inez Kelley’s work. One of the secondary characters that definitely caught my attention and held it was Caz, Bastian’s brother. I have a suspicion we haven't seen the last of Caz and though some might not find him hero material I'm convinced many of us will disagree with that and I'll await his story with quite some anticipation. After reading more about Caz all I can say is I WANT his book! (Note from reviewer: Meanwhile I have heard from the author that Caz will not have his own full-length book (*crying my eyes out*) but there will be a free short story on Inez Kelley’s website on release day that is Caz’s story).

What I love in Inez Kelley’s writing and especially in TURN IT UP is the dry witty humor, with just enough intensity to keep the fluff away. Sexual heat and urgency make the sexy scenes jump off the pages, the urgency almost made feel like despair and definitely emotional and giving this book emotional depth that shone through the fun, humorous tone of it. The opening line set the tone and reeled me right into the awesomeness that is Inez Kelley's writing. It put a grin on my face that remained there throughout the entire book.

Inez Kelley's SWEET AS SIN was a tough act to follow and though TURN IT UP doesn't have that dark intensity it was another contemporary I enjoyed and it deserves its own praise without comparisons. And since it made me chuckle, sigh, laugh out loud and cry I'd say TURN IT UP is another notch on the my winners-list of Inez Kelley contemporaries.

Favorite Quotes:
What should have been illegal was the way her faded cutoffs hugged her ass. She looked like Betty Boop in mutilated Levis. There was no way a whisper of air could fit between her skin and the denim, but his fingers would love to try. He fisted them tight to maintain control. Down, boy.

Some women turned heads. Charlie Pierce turned entire bodies. More than one man had done a complete one-eighty as she walked down the street. She was a siren and a vixen without apology. Her sapphire eyes stared straight at a man, daring him: if you want to look, then look your fill.
No one knew him better and he couldn’t imagine his life without her. He loved her to distraction.
He wanted her with an obsession.
He treasured her like Fort Knox.
He was in hard-on hell.
She was his best friend, his platonic, nonsexual, do-or-die-for buddy.

The rampant longing in his voice shocked him. Lust-crazed was a sensation he associated with adolescents, not himself. He’d needed before, hungered, thought he’d explode, but never had he experienced this complete red haze of physical want. He ached for her. Good God, he ached. The dull pain would not dissipate. Crossing to the cooler, he fished out a frosty bottle.
Droplets splashed his stomach. The water seared his heated skin. In a frenzied flash, he held the icy glass to his gaping fly. Pain lurched through his groin and he gasped. It helped. Some.
“You’re going to get frostbite and I have plans for that body part.”

“A thing of beauty, huh? Mighty poetic tonight, aren’t you?”
“I’m with you, Honey. That’s enough to inspire poetry in the hardest of hearts. Besides, it’s true. An aroused woman is a beautiful thing.”
“Now, see, I’m not too sure about that. Orgasms cause some seriously painful-looking faces.”
His deep laugh filled the radio room. “That may be, but it’s just the intensity of release. Like jumping off a cliff. You’re not going to be smiling when you hit the ground but the flight down is fantastic.”
“Hit the ground? Dang, Doc, what kind of women are you hanging out with if you equate an orgasm with pulling a Wile E. Coyote off a cliff?”

(Honey/Charlie) "(...) Just remember, you catch more flies with honey, and I’m after one fly in particular.”

Forever wasn’t in her vocabulary when it came to men. Sex was sex and love was fleeting. Bastian was constant.
How could she survive being even closer to him and then letting him go when forever faded?

“I’m not twenty-four anymore. The rose-colored glasses have been off a long time. Can I promise Charlie forever? Not really, no one can. All I can promise is that I don’t want to face any type of forever without her. I’ll die trying to make her happy. That’s the best I can do, but I’ll do it the best I can.”

Twirling to the counter, she clutched the drawstring bag and Bastian’s gasp shivered up her spine.
“Where’s the rest of your dress?”
From her hairline to the top swell of her behind, the air kissed her skin, bared for his eyes. The front may have purred subdued sensuality, but the back screamed reckless temptation. The look she sent him was pure tease.

Forever wasn’t a place. It was who you were with. Who loved you. Eddy might not have been June Cleaver but she’d been there, always, a touchstone no matter where they lived. Now it was Bastian. He was her foundation, her support, her security, her future.
It wasn’t a house.
Bastian was her forever place. The future was whatever they made it, together.

July 27, 2011
Lucas…Playboy. Rebel. Rogue.

No one denies Lucas anything. Women fall at his feet and into his bed at the click of his fingers. His life is charmed, reckless and carefree. He is definitely a bad boy.

Grace Carter knows uncontrollable Lucas could ruin her career, and she won’t tolerate his wayward behavior, despite their chemistry. But working with Lucas is thrilling, and after just a small dose of his magic, even Grace’s prim and proper shell begins to splinter.

Title: THE DISGRACED PLAYBOY (In the UK it was released under the title SHAMELESS PLAYBOY)
Author: Caitlin Crews
Series: The Notorious Wolfes, book 2 (In the UK the series name is Bad Blood Collection)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Publishing, Harlequin Presents line (In UK published by Mills And Boon, Modern line)
Year of release: 2011 July, 19 (UK: May 2011)
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Received an ARC from author for review

First line:
Grace Carter glanced up from her computer, frowning at the figure that sauntered so confidently into her office high above the cold, wet February streets of London, without so much as a knock on her door as warning.

Memorable Scenes:
- Lucas and Grace's first kiss > explosive culmination of the built-up sexual tension between them
- the last chapter > an awesome ending and one of the best I've read in the Harlequin Presents line to-date

Grace Carter is an events manager at department store Hartington who has left her troublesome past behind and is determined not to let any man turn her head anymore. She’s polite and levelheaded but underneath that unflappable and seemingly rigid exterior is a passionate woman waiting to be let loose.

Lucas Wolfe is a shameless flirt and playboy. He’s quick-witted and wears sarcasm like a well-fitted coat. Lucas is a hero you would love to dislike because he’s just that tad bit too cocky and self-assured but you can’t because you see where his attitude comes from and you feel his pain and his need to act like he does. However there were moments where I wanted him to lower his guard and trust Grace a little more.

The build-up of the sexual tension between Lucas and Carter is subtle and excellently done. I was eagerly waiting for that tension to break and the chemistry between them to come to combustion. I loved the verbal banter and battle of wits between Lucas and Grace.

What I also liked was that both of them are complex characters that are so much more than meets the eye. Lucas isn't the useless, devil-may-care playboy persona he shows the world and Grace is not the starchy, proper, all-work-no-play ice queen she wants the world to see her as. Caitlin Crews had this uncanny way to show the reader her characters in a certain way and by making you privy to their thoughts and inner turmoil you see so much more of them than the story tells you.

There aren’t many secondary characters but Jacob, the eldest Wolfe sibling, makes another crucial appearance. Other than him and some co-workers at Hartington, who are more walk-ons than true secondary characters, the book is primarily focused on Grace and Lucas.

The first installment of The Notorious Wolfes had me hooked already and THE DISGRACED PLAYBOY drove that hook a little bit further in. With a complex couple whose characterization was sublimely done, a sizzling romance and an ending that made me tear up I find it hard to be patient for the next book in this multi-authored series. Beware, Abby Green I'm coming for you next!

Favorite Quotes:
“Lucas Wolfe,” she said, as a gesture toward good manners, though her voice was flat.
“All six resplendent feet and then some,” he drawled, his dark brows arching high above his wicked green eyes. “At your service.”

Lucas realized, belatedly, what a powerful asset she had in that voice of hers, so soft and sugary and deadly all at once. A rapier-sharp blade sheathed in honey and cream. It was impressive.

“You can look at me directly,” he said in that low, insinuating, endlessly amused voice, far too close to her ear. “I can’t imagine why you would fight the urge. I am , after all, quite marvelously handsome.”
“I believe the word you’re looking for is conceited,” Grace replied (…)
He laughed, completely unfazed, as ever. “Conceit cannot possibly be the right word, (…) I’ve had independent confirmation in the press for years. I am a glorious male animal. You may as well simply admit the truth.”

“I don’t know who I am!” The words seemed almost torn from him. He pulled back and stared down at her. “Don’t you understand? I want to give you the world, Grace, but I have no idea how to do it.”
“I do not want the world,” she simply said, sliding her hands up to hold his beautiful face between them. “I can get that for myself, if I wish it. I only want you.”
“I am yours,” he said, his words ringing through her, around her, with the force of a vow. “In every way.”

July 26, 2011

Nina Stokes's life is far from picture perfect. For years the small-town artist has waited for the day she'd be able to fulfill her late brother's wishes and hand over his rambling house to its new owner. Yet when a sexy stranger arrives on her doorstep, key in hand, Nina realizes she's not ready to let go of the house and all its memories-not until she gets some answers to what really happened to her brother.

Mick Rivers may be a hard-as-nails soldier, but throwing a woman out of her house isn't his style. Neither is dredging up memories of the past –a past he is struggling to remember. He desperately needs to sell the house, but he finds the brown-eyed beauty with the open heart and warm smile impossible to resist. So instead of moving on, Mick moves in. As sweet summer days lead to sizzling summer nights, Mick must finally face his fears. But can he tell Nina the secrets haunting his heart, without breaking hers?

Author: Sophie Gunn
Series: The Enemy Club, book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Year of release: 2011, July 26 (says Amazon, however author’s website says August 4)
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Received an ARC from the author for review

First line:
Dearest Nina,
You don't recognize this handwriting because a beautiful army nurse named Sally is writing this letter for me.

Memorable Scene:
- the scene in the barn/garage, saving Sylvie the cat > lots of humor in that scene which made me smile incessantly but also felt bad for poor Mick
- All the scenes where the 4 Enemy Club ladies get together > They are all such different personalities and yet they are there for each other in good and bad times, their scenes together are awesome

Nina Stokes is an artist and former yoga instructor. She’s the eternal optimist and may seem a bit naïve but she's also resolute and passionate when she sets her mind to something. She’s warmhearted, accommodating and caring. Her friends think she’s a pushover because she’s not on guard with people and she’s been duped by a con=artist before.

Mick Rivers is an ex-soldier and has a hard time adjusting to non-army life. He also suffers from memory loss and posttraumatic stress-like symptoms after nearly dying on the battlefield. Mick is a straightforward kind of man and having to approach Nina with lies and keeping stuff from her doesn’t sit well with him. But his sense of duty, his loyalty and his honesty are at war because of several reasons. He has a dry sense of humor, is instinctive and loyal to the bone.

Well, chapter 1, a letter from Nina's brother to her, definitely grabbed my attention and I settled in for another lovely and emotional contemporary romance from Sophie Gunn that I was going to enjoy as much as I did HOW SWEET IT IS.

The cast of secondary characters isn’t very big and those who form it also add something to either the plot or the characterization of the main characters so I thought that was neatly done. I like to have secondary characters in the romance novels I read but don’t like to be bombarded with walk-ons so for me Sophie Gunn did a good job here.

I understand that there wouldn't be much of a plot if Mick just told Nina why he needed the money from the house or if he'd just ask her for the item Walt asked him to retrieve in his last letter, but these were 2 little things that kept making me frown throughout the book until they were uncovered. Once these two things were revealed though, I had nothing to frown about and I loved that the plot took a direction I wasn’t expecting at all.

Though both books I've read in this series are very different from each other they have some themes in common. Like HOW SWEET IT IS, this second book also deals with people trying to do the right thing, a member from the Enemy Club keeping something from the heroine and there's money involved. I love how these themes connect the books and yet they are kept fresh and unique in their storylines, romances and characterization.

I really like Sophie Gunn’s writing and how she sets up her characters' back-stories by giving little enticing tidbits at a time that in the end come together to form a full picture of the people they are and their past. The romance in SWEET KISS OF SUMMER is not the main focus of the story and it’s set up slowly and subtly. However there’s no denying that there *is* a romance and a HEA so no complaints from me.

What I love about these books in the Enemy Club series is the combination and contrast of humorous lightness and the heavy emotional stuff that lies just below the surface and give the characters so much depth and likeability at the same time.

SWEET KISS OF SUMMER is contemporary romance that's not only sweet and funny and but also emotionally gripping and unpredictable. If you like small-town set, sweet contemporary romance I’d definitely recommend this series and if you haven’t read book 1 I’d recommend starting there, but to be honest you could also dive into book 2 first as they are excellent standalones.

Favorite Quotes:
The man pulled his T-shirt over his head in a swift, one-armed movement. She ducked low, tried to swallow, pulled the brim of her sun hat low to cover her blush and her ridiculous smile. -The most beautiful man I’ve ever laid eyes on is stripping my driveway. God, I love this town.-

Two thousand six hundred and forty-eight miles in five days in a wasted hunk of metal he had won on a dare, and Mick Rivers felt every one of those miles in his ass.

She was so close, it was all he could do to not sniff her. She smelled like cat treats, M&Ms and wine –a strangely sexy combination.

“(…) But I can’t trust a woman who doesn’t drink coffee. A woman who doesn’t drink coffee is like a woman who doesn’t have sex. It’s not natural.” He lowered his voice seductively. “I make very good coffee.”

(Nina to Bobby) “Back in the day, your idea of romancing a woman was buying a fifth of rotgut whiskey and a few dozen condoms.”

“I will never understand women, “ Mick said.
“That’s our plan, Mick. We have to keep you menfolk on your toes.”

July 25, 2011

One spark could burn her world down.
Six years after her husband’s death, Regina Pace is still just going through the motions, her only pleasure a nightly glass (or three) of wine to dull the ache. Tonight is no exception—until a sensual outdoor encounter with her neighbor’s son, freshly home from college. He’s older, wiser, more devastatingly handsome than she remembered. He’s also fifteen years her junior.

Despite her misgivings, it isn’t long before her nightly ritual includes a long, deep drink of Josh Smith. Ogling leads to touching, then the sparks flare into an erotic encounter that feels wickedly right—and deliciously forbidden.
Yet the intense heat can’t burn away the doubt pestering the back of her mind. That the gap between their ages is too large, even for the most determined leap of faith…

Product Warnings
Features a boy-next-door who won’t take no for an answer, more than one sexual fantasy (including some outdoor self-loving!), and a burning romance that proves age is just a number.

Author: Dee Carney
Series: At this moment it’s a standalone and not part of a series (yet)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Year of release: 2011, June 21
Format: eBook
Source: I received a digital copy for review from author

First line:
I could say some sort of spell kept me transfixed to the spot as I watched my neighbor’s son masturbate, and it would almost be the truth.

Memorable Scenes:
- the roses Josh left every evening > Josh makes me weak in the knees!
- the scene on the stairs > I couldn't breathe...my heart was pounding...I melted into a puddle of aroused goo!
- the sunrise scene > wow!

Quick & Dirty-review:

An older woman ready for love, a younger man who is the epitome of romance, sizzling hot sex, slowly developing feelings, an a-hole of a so-called friend, a lot of hesitation and a lovely ending.

Josh Smith is the younger guy next door. He’s even-keeled and matured when he’s not drunk. He’s an old soul, passionate, headstrong, impulsive, romantic, candid and frank.

Regina Pace is the older woman and a widow of 6 years. She’s the main character whose POV is the backbone of this story. She’s solitary, strong, confident, stubborn and loyal.

- the writing that painted such vivid images in my mind
- the extensive and in-depth characterization
- Josh. Period

- not having Josh' POV, but this is a very minor dislike as even without it this book was great!
- the Lou part, especially Regina’s reaction to Lou when she’s contemplating considering him over Josh.

The first person narrative is not my thing and I think this is the first contemporary erotic romance I've read in 1st person narrative. However, when the writing is good, something like the narrative shouldn’t bother the reader and in this case it definitely didn’t as I love Dee Carney’s writing style and the way she conveys emotions and feelings through the pages.

KEEPING PACE kept me enthralled from start to finish! What an amazing and emotionally rich story full of depth and heat. I loved it so much I wasn't even bothered by the 1st person narrative. If anything it gave me a thorough and in-depth look in Regina's journey back to love.

The very start pulled me right in emotionally. The intensity, Regina's doubts, indecisiveness and hesitation about taking a chance on love with Josh, their fights and tension caused by external elements made this so much more than a breezy and light erotic romance within the cougar trope. The ending left a satisfied smile on my face and I’m now looking forward to my next taste of Dee Carney’s writing.

Favorite Quotes:
I almost took a step back when my brain finally registered what it all meant. A small cry of surprise tried to spill from my lips, but I bit it back in time. Instead, I stood transfixed and watched an amazing specimen of human musculature move with an erotic beauty that took my breath.

Desire swelled within me, and I weakly fought it into submission, though it would not die without a struggle. I saw a hint of lust reflecting in his eyes and prayed I didn’t imagine it.

Damn Josh for shattering my once regimented life and reintroducing me to an existence where I fantasized. As soon as I left the seductive hold of fantasy, reality crashed into me until I couldn’t breathe from the harshness of it.

I wanted his kiss but resisted the temptation to force our mouths to connect. The intimacy of the way we stood now seemed to join us better than any mere kiss could. In our closeness, Josh became the very air I breathed.

I watched his eyes as he revealed me slowly. The amount of want, the anticipation of this moment, bloomed in them. His face became youthful then. One of a boy at Christmas, about to open what he knows will be his favorite present.

“Gina,” he growled. And it was a growl. A low predatory sound sexy enough to make me come right there and then.

“Seriously.” His whispered words held a measure of heat in them. “You’ve got this look… This sultry, seductive, come-hither look.”
“You’re just horny.”

Josh, as always, had impeccable timing. Anyone who looked at him would be able to tell he’d been drinking. Despite the crisp enunciation, his eyelids drooped, and he just had the aura around him. The same kind of aura that put cops on alert when pulling a driver over or nurses disbelieving when they asked exactly how the dildo had become stuck up there.

“Josh!” I cried out. He made me hurt inside, the kind that made my heart swell, and brought me to the edge of a cliff over which I wanted to happily tumble.

A voice in my mind screamed at me. It cried out it did love him. That we both loved him. That when I looked at him, there was more there than youth alone. There was promise and hope for so much more between us. But the voice wasn’t powerful enough to move my mouth, and so I sat in silence when he walked out of my bedroom. The ethereal light from the hallway had somehow become a shadow, embracing him as I would not.

July 23, 2011

Detective Pale Rysen, an Alpha, is determined to secretly rebuild the Wolf packs from the ashes of genocide. When a killer starts picking off young females looking for sanctuary, it’s his job to protect them. Forced to work with a hated enemy, he fears his cover will be blown.

Jade-Scarlet’s membership in the powerful Order of the Sibile has always been controversial. A half-wolf, Jade’s unstable psychic powers are a disappointment to her mercenary handlers. So when the Oracle commands her to work with Pale, Jade must prove herself…even if it means challenging the enigmatic shifter.

Yet Pale triggers more than her curiosity. He sends her into Heat, and the intense sexual attraction could mean losing control of her gifts—something she can’t allow. As the number of victims rises, so does the danger. A murderous darkness wants them both dead. But even if they stop the killer, how long can they fight each other?

Author: Dee Tenorio
Series: Resurrection, book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Year of release: 2010, June 14
Format: eBook
Source: Received a copy for review from author

First line:
Shae trudged through the snowdrifts, her feet sinking nearly to the knee with each step.

Memorable Scenes:
- Jade trying to get Emmitt out of his shock > this scene had me swallowing back my tears, which I barely managed to do...
- the bonding scene > just wow... I have no words to describe what this scene did to me

Jade-Scarlet is an empathic Sibile with the gift of manipulating light and a half-breed Wolf shifter. She’s sarcastic, defiant, giving and loyal.

Pale Rysen is a homicide detective and Wolf shifter. He’s the Alpha of a pack he’s trying to build up after the humans tried to erase the shifters from the face of the Earth. He’s a dominant alpha in every sense of the word, broody and ruthless but also gentle and tender at times.

There are so many reasons Jade and Pale can't be together, yet with their instant and strong chemistry they give the trope of star-crossed lovers a new meaning. Their verbal battles and internal emotional struggles were awesome to read. Jade's defiance triggers Pale's need to dominate and Pale's alphaness grates on Jade's sense of independence, this made for wonderfully explosive interactions that also inadvertently built up the sexual tension between them. The love scenes were sexy and beautiful (I have no other way of describing them) and they matched with the characterization perfectly.

Wolf shifters, witches with special gifts, human law enforcement, a vile serial killer to be stopped and caught, I gobbled it all up! I loved that the world building was clear yet non-intrusive to the plot, characterization or romance. Subtly imbedded into the rest it's set up perfectly, not too much on the forefront and enticing enough to want to know more.

The prologue immediately set the tone. I was fascinated, wondering what was going on and my heart was pounding with excitement. Since I'm terrible at figuring out who the killer is (whether in books, movies or TV shows), this time again I was going back and forth between several characters not homing in on the right on till the very end. As with everything else in this book, I loved the suspense and how it was played out and wrapped up.

Dee Tenorio's writing is intense and packs a tremendous emotional punch. Whether it's character-driven contemporary romance, sizzling erotic romance or dark paranormal romantic suspense, it never fails to keep me enthralled in its emotional grip. I think the intensity also makes Dee Tenorio's books somewhat slow-paced and this is not a bad thing because even though I love reading fast-paced books, the intensity and slower pace give me room to savor her books to the fullest. And savor TEMPTING THE ENEMY I definitely did!

The fact that I added this book to my 2011 favorite reads list immediately after finishing it and the huge amount of favorite quotes I marked (but had to cut as to not make the quotes outnumber the review) should indicate how much I enjoyed this book. I'm so ready for the next installment of Resurrection! And luckily it's waiting for me on my TBR pile and I saw it's Tate's book. I adored the banter between the pack members, especially Tate and Ty caught my attention and I was beyond happy when I found out the next book in this series would Tate’s. He is so much more than met the eye in those short moments he was on the pages...can't wait!

If you're looking for an original and excellently written and refreshing take on paranormal suspense, look no further as TEMPTING THE ENEMY has it all: the heart pounding suspense, the complicated romance, the intriguing world building and the complex, three-dimensional characters. I highly recommend this book to readers who love a strong suspense element in paranormal romance and to readers who love a little (okay, a lot) of dominance in their hero.

Favorite Quotes:
A chair wheeled backward with a squeak, which meant Jorgensen was on the move. A little older than Pale, a lot friendlier and apparently everything women found attractive, Jorgensen rarely had to work to grab a woman’s grateful attention, so Pale knew it wouldn’t take long for this Sibile to become equally captivated. He waited to be relieved. All he felt was a decidedly strong desire to tear out the other detective’s throat and lay it at her feet for a gift.

“I always figured Pale’s mate a girl with as thick a beard as he has,” Tate said, because apparently silence was a fate worse than death. “Never thought he’d find someone as pretty as that.”
“She is pretty,” Ty agreed, “but I always figured his mate would have to be blind. Almost feel bad for her, looking at his ugly ass for the rest of her life. That’s just a damn shame.”

He traced her chin, running his fingers to her throat, watching them wander over the swells of her breasts to the line of the towel. His finger hooked the edge again.
“Pull and I’ll bake you alive.”
A crooked grin revealed one of his fangs. “Strength is a desired trait in a female. Makes a male want to dominate.”
And that grin made her want to be dominated. Her want tightened her throat, because she couldn’t have him knowing what she craved. “Good thing you’re above that kind of stupidity.”

But I have no idea what I am. There’s no magical voice in my head telling me the right thing to do. No idea how to give you what you want.”
“You are what I want.” Did he even know the way his eyes glowed when he watched her? That when his voice was so gruff, she could feel it and all the longing he had in it? That he was stealing parts of her heart with every word? “I want all of you. For always.”
“Then take me, Pale, because I’ll never want anyone else.”
He lowered himself onto all fours at the foot of the bed, slowly crawling toward her, gaze locked on hers.
His movements were sinuous, even with his hard angles and broad muscle. He settled on his belly next to her, then leaned onto his side. He set his head on one hand and lay there. Letting her look her fill as he picked up the ends of her hair and twined them through his fingers. His eyes smoldering, he said only two words. “Prove it.”

July 22, 2011

Sometimes extreme provocation can lead to exactly what you need…
Kelly is focused on the bookstore she manages. Sex is relegated to a list of candidates on her PDA. Only one man pushes all her buttons―her boss.

Fascinated. Spencer is determined to fight his desire for Kelly. For years they’ve bumped heads over the store they both love. But there’s more than one reason a potential relationship is too complicated.

Provoked. When Kelly and Spencer unexpectedly meet up at a sex club, all the rules go out the window. Suddenly there’s only one way this match of wills can end―naked, preferably all night long. In this battle for sexual supremacy, there are two winners—and two losers, when their stubbornness leads to the very thing each dreads most.

Reader Advisory
In a couple of scenes, Kelly and Spencer test “the more the merrier” theory.

Author: Cari Quinn
Series: Unveiled, book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Year of release: 2011, June 22
Format: eBook
Source: Received a digital copy for review from author

First line:
Being called to the boss’s office was never a good thing.

Memorable Scenes:
- Kelly and Spence's first meet in the club > I just overdosed on raw sexual heat and tension. Am I still breathing? I think Cari just killed me...
- the scene working late at the Book Nook > sweet and hot at the same time
- the scene at the club with Paul > *fans self* but it's not helping at all!!

Kelly Crossman is a day manager at one of the Book Nook bookstores.
She’s sweet and giving, yet she knows what she wants and goes for it. Kelly is also smart-mouthed, impulsive and has rebellious streak.

Spencer Galvin is a regional manager for The Book Nook bookstores. He’s controlled and in command, tight-lipped and driven. But he’s also ruthless, honest and has voyeuristic tendencies.

This book is hot beyond words! I'm not ashamed to admit I was in a constant state of arousal throughout the whole thing. But next to the amazing, scorching heat there was also the emotional struggle both Spencer and Kelly go through. Both Spencer and Kelly are far from picture-perfect characters and I really liked that. Their flaws and not so perfect decisions made me like them even more.

Kelly has no trouble acknowledging her feelings for Spencer but she keeps them to herself, afraid to hear Spencer doesn't care to hear them.
Spencer is more complicated. He has feelings for Kelly but his past and need for control prevent him from letting go and going for it. His struggle was torturous to read and there were many moments I just wanted to yell at him to just go for it and stop wasting precious time.

I’m really happy to know that there are quite a few books still coming in this series (4 more if I recall correctly) because the cast of secondary characters was great and offers a lot of possibilities in the future. There was one secondary character I would have loved to punch in the face in this book. Hard! But Cari has assured me she isn’t all evil and she is going to make an effort to redeem her in her own book. I have faith that Cari will make it work, so I’m even looking forward to Diana’s book.

I must admit Cari Quinn pushed me to the edges of my boundaries with the Diana situation. I understood Spencer’s reasoning but still didn't like the direction it was headed in. However, I did like how that particular part of the story was played out in the end and how it contributed to the emotional turmoil in the story.

I think I should just review Cari Quinn's books with an “I love her writing, buy the book!” because I just do. The perfect combination of heat, humor and emotion draw me in every single time and just keep me reading, not wanting to stop for a single minute. Fluent, witty, clean, hot and crisp Cari's voice is one of my top favorites in the erotic romance scene.

I suspected it before but after reading PROVOKE ME, I’m sure. Cari Quinn is trying to kill me with her scorching hot books that are not only sexy but emotional too. Oh well, it’s a great way to go…

Favorite Quotes:
He was brilliant, ruthlessly so. An amazing boss. And his ass was a thing of beauty.

(Alana) “Kel, we’ve been here ten minutes. The line’s getting longer and I’m nowhere near getting any c#ck.” (I just LOVE Alana, if only for this remark of hers)

He wasn’t much better. He was about to suffer c#ck-strangulation from his belt and his sides ached from his rigid stance in the seat. She’d fucking annihilated him with her lips and her hand. Even without sampling that honey-sweet mouth or feeling her bare palm around his erection, he was one tepid fantasy away from coming in his pants.

Every breath he took ravaged his chest. He was on fire, inside and out, his body one massive throbbing nerve. She cried out again, a shrill piercing noise he should’ve worried would wake the neighbors. But there was no room for worry now.

He sounded like a mixture of heaven and hell, wrapped in a thin chocolaty layer of sex-drenched sin.

July 21, 2011
Think a vampire-hunting bloodhound is dangerous? Try threatening his woman.

Wilder Harding is a bloodhound, created by the Guild to hunt down and kill vampires on America’s frontier. His enhanced abilities come with a high price: on the full moon, he becomes capable of savagery beyond telling, while the new moon brings a sexual hunger that borders on madness.

Rescuing a weapons inventor from undead kidnappers is just another assignment, though one with an added complication—keeping his hands off the man’s pretty young apprentice, who insists on tagging along.

At odds with polite society, Satira’s only constant has been the aging weapons inventor who treats her like a daughter. She isn’t going to trust Wilder with Nathaniel’s life, not when the Guild might decide the old man isn’t worth saving. Besides, if there’s one thing she’s learned, it’s that brains are more important than brawn.

As the search stretches far longer than Wilder planned, he finds himself fighting against time. If Satira is still at his side when the new moon comes, nothing will stop him from claiming her. Worse, she seems all too willing. If their passion unlocks the beast inside, no one will be safe. Not even the man they’re fighting to save.

Warning: This book contains a crude, gun-slinging, vampire-hunting hero who howls at the full moon and a smart, stubborn heroine who invents mad-scientist weapons. Also included: wild frontier adventures, brothels, danger, betrayal and a good dose of wicked loving in an alternate Wild West.

Author: Moira Rogers
Series: Bloodhounds, book 1
Genre: I'm not even going to try :)
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Year of release: 2011, March 8
Format: eBook
Source: received a copy for review from the author

First line:
Satira would have been on a horse and halfway into the sunset by now if the lift from the laboratory hadn’t broken.

Memorable Scenes:
- Wilder's grand entrance scene > way to make a first impression and meet, I might even say exceed, the expectations...
- Wilder and Satira's first love scene > wow...Scorching hot!

Nathaniel, Satira’s mentor and the man who raised her, is missing and vampires are trying to get their hands on a new weapons technology he's invented. Satira teams up with Wilder, a bloodhound with no filter and a dirty mouth and mind to find Nathaniel before the vampires execute their evil plans.

I have to be honest and say that when I read the blurb and an excerpt for WILDER'S MATE I didn't get the urge to stalk Moira Rogers for a review copy of it because I've learned that steampunk-ish books are more miss than hit with me, even from favorite authors whose voices I love. So I just went "nah, let's skip this one and wait patiently for the next Southern Arcana book.

Then a certain author came over for a visit and of course we started talking books and this one came up and she highly recommended it to me. I think she saw my lingering reluctance because then she brought out the big guns and mentioned Wilder being a dirty (talking) hero who doesn't have a filter at all...
People who know me will have probably guessed that after this I harassed her into getting Moira Rogers to send me a review copy of this book and the rest is history.
Why did you have to go and do that Alisha Rai? Why? You’ve seen my bookcases…don’t I have enough to read already? Huh, huh?

It's hard for me to describe why I love Moira Rogers' writing. It's probably the co-writing thing and I must say WILDER'S MATE is the funniest and hottest Moira Rogers book I've read to-date and now I’m craving more.

From the start the characters cracked me up with their dry wit and the banter between them. But it wasn't just the humor. The world building and plot was done very subtly and in a way that enticed you to want to know more. I even liked the steampunk-ish elements but that's probably because they weren't overtly present and were just supporting the PNR vibe the book had.

Next to Satira and Wilder there was a supporting cast that was at least as intriguing and impressive as the primary characters. Ophelia, Archer and Hunter come to mind. At first I didn't get Archer's motivation for his actions and couldn't decide if he was one of the good or bad guys...in the end I've decided to place him with the good guys, but still have my doubts about him.
I also loved Hunter and hope he’ll get his own book in the future as he was an even more intriguing character to me than Archer was. (Reviewer’s note from Pearl: I found out after writing this review that the next book in this series is Hunter’s…YAY!)

A few chapters in I was starting to get curious about the Guild and the Bloodhounds... Back-story, why, how etc. and I hoped there would be more explanations about them. There were but some things stayed unclear to me and I loved the romance, plot and action/fight scenes more than the steampunk-ish elements. The things that remained unclear, I’m sure they’ll be explained more in the upcoming books in the series and I was happy the authors took this route as I wasn’t bombarded with the world building and/or info dumps.

Whether you like paranormal romance, steampunk romance, futuristic, historical or western-ish romance, you’ll like WILDER’S MATE. If you like all of the above AND a dirty talking alpha hero who has no filter whatsoever, you’ll love WILDER’S MATE. I’m happy Alisha Rai talked me into trying this book because I have discovered another series by Moira Rogers that I’ll want to read as soon as the books are available.

Favorite Quotes:
“If you brought me with you intending to have a warm body during the new moon, I’m not unwilling.”
Wilder’s jaw clenched. She didn’t think much of him, if she thought he’d plan to take that sort of liberty without asking. “Takes a damn sight more than ‘not unwilling’ to heat my blood, girl.” He grinned because he knew it would fluster her. “I like my women enthusiastic.”
Color rose in her cheeks, but her eyes glinted with stubborn challenge. “It’s a wonder you find any, unless you take care not to speak to them first.”

She was feverish. Wild. Pleasure twisted inside her, dug into her and tossed her about until she found herself clutching at the iron headboard so she wouldn’t fly away.

He put his tongue on her first, licking the delicate ridge of her collarbone. Tasting her skin. She didn’t fight her shiver or her quiet moan. Let him have no doubts about her willingness or the way her body sang when he touched her.

It was his voice that did it, the low endearment, hoarse and hungry. He wanted her— needed her—and the empty, lonely place inside her vanished. Tension snapped, and every muscle in her body tensed at the same time before pure, clean relief flooded her, riding a wave of tempestuous pleasure.

July 20, 2011

Underneath the movie star’s good looks is a man battling with the demons of his past. No one knows the real Nathaniel, they only see the pin-up, the man he pretends to be.

Until one night he is forced to rely on Katie Field, an ordinary young woman from a very different world to Nathaniel’s. She may be starstruck but she isn’t blinded by the bright lights of fame. Can Nathaniel trust her enough to reveal the man behind the mask?

Let the seduction begin…

Author: Sarah Morgan
Series: The Notorious Wolfes, book 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Publishing, Harlequin Presents line
Year of release: 2011, June 21
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Received an advanced copy for review from author

First line:
They were waiting for him to fail.

Memorable Scenes:
- Nathaniel opening up to Katie about his family > throat lump moment
- The days in Rio > with its high point: the sexy scene in the lift *fans self*

Nathaniel Wolfe is a big Hollywood actor. He’s broody, sarcastic and guarded, hiding a vulnerable man beneath his outward bluster. He also lives up to his bad boy reputation with his naughty, bold remarks towards Katie.

Katie Field is a costume designer. She’s down-to-earth, realistic and says what she thinks. She’s a real chatterbox, especially when nerves hit her and I really liked her self-deprecating sense of humor.

A NIGHT OF SCANDAL is the first in a multi-authored series brought by HP: The Notorious Wolfes. The series covers the stories of the 8 siblings born from different mothers and all fathered by the horrible William Wolfe. This first book tells the story of Hollywood star Nathaniel Wolfe and costume designer Katie Field. Circumstances force them to spend the night together, in a very platonic way, but once the press gets wind of it, they’re forced to flee to a private island resort and there the platonic side of their relationship is soon forgotten.

The opening paragraphs hooked me like no book has hooked me in a while. The chemistry, banter and the battle of wits between Nathaniel and Katie were a joy to read. The attraction is undeniably there but both try to not give into it. However when they do give in, the sparks fly off the pages. Ms Morgan definitely delivers on the sensual tension she creates.

I really like Sarah Morgan's voice. Her characters have depth to them and she incorporates humor in her writing, always a plus with me. In less than 200 pages she took me on an entertaining, thrilling and emotional rollercoaster ride. From amusement to anger to tears to sizzling sensuality...they all claimed my state of mind at one moment or another while reading. My first encounter with Ms. Morgan's writing has been an awesome reading experience and an unexpected pleasure.

This first installment has most definitely whetted my appetite for all other 7 stories in this series. I need the to read the other Wolfe siblings' stories and if they're half as good as ANOS was I'll be in romance reading heaven. (Meanwhile I’ve read the second book and it was just as good as this one!)

Favorite Quotes:
It was immediately obvious that she’d renewed her make-up and then scrubbed it off, afraid it would look as if she were trying too hard. Nathaniel gave a humourless laugh. She didn’t need to try. Make-up or no make-up, her mouth was still the same full tempting curve that made a man want to dive straight in and sample the flavour.

“If I leave you here they’ll feed on you like sharks attacking raw meat.”
“If I’m the raw meat in that analogy, then it isn’t a very flattering description. No woman wants to think her thighs would provide sufficient food for one shark, let alone sharks in the plural.

“Where are you planning to go?”
“A journalist-free zone. I need to lie low until the Sapphire ceremony. A deserted island. Sun, sea and se–“
“I am not having sex with you.”
A ghost of a smile touched his mouth. “I was going to say seclusion, but sex sounds good to me. You talk when you’re awake and you talk in your sleep. It remains to be seen whether you talk during sex.”

Katie hurried down the steps. Like Cinderella, she thought, running from the ball. Except that she hadn’t lost a shoe. Both shoes were on her feet, but her heart was in pieces.

July 19, 2011

Maxwell Turner considers his stubborn and resourceful attitude a plus. After all, it usually gets him what he wants—except for Natasha Bellingham. The long-time family friend may be ten years older than he, but so what? He’s plenty old enough to know they belong together. Now all he has to do is convince her.

Over the past few years Natasha’s love life has degenerated into a series of bad clichés. Her biological clock is ticking—loudly. As a proven architect with her own house-design company, she’s financially ready for a baby. Who says she needs a permanent man in her life for that? She just needs a “donation”.

When Max discovers Natasha’s future plans include artificial insemination, he’s outraged. She wants to get pregnant? No problem. He’s more than willing to volunteer—no turkey basters involved.

But there’s one non-negotiable clause: He wants forever. And he intends to do everything in his power—fair and unfair—to make it happen.

Warning: This title contains one younger man ready, aimed and hell bent on giving one woman everything she wants. Includes interludes against the wall, in a Jacuzzi, on a car hood and even—shockingly enough—on a bed or two. Oh, and about that porch swing? Yup…

Author: Vivian Arend
Series: The Turner Twins, book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Year of release: 2011, February 8
Format: eBook
Source: Bought via Samhain’s eBook store

First line:
The doors of the Sugar Shack swung shut behind her and Natasha Bellingham drew a sigh of relief, thankful to get out of the blinding morning sunshine.

Memorable Scenes:
- the dry hump scene at the building-site > wow...
- porch swing scene > double wow...
- ultrasound scene > sweet and emotional

The book TURN IT UP is a prequel to was TURN IT ON. I have fond memories of TURN IT ON as it was my very first unsolicited ARC-review request and it was my first encounter and the beginning of a beautiful bookish online relationship with the fabulous and lovely Vivian Arend. Soon after I reviewed TURN IT ON in January 2010 I discovered (Viv told me) Max’s story was in the making and from that moment on I was anxiously awaiting this story. When it was finally available and loaded onto my e-reader I read it like a starved person at an all-you-can eat buffet and I wasn’t disappointed.

TURN IT UP is the story of Natasha "Tasha" Bellingham. A talented architect who is also a bit of a control-freak and she likes to be in charge and on top of things. She’s cool, unflappable, pragmatic, bossy and let’s not forget as stubborn as they come. Her co-star is Maxwell "Max" Turner who owns Computer-software Company. Max is caring, sweet, laidback, smart and most of all very patient. The man has the patience of a saint and paired with his tenacity Tasha never stood a chance against his persuasive and seductive powers!

Max has been in love and pursuing Tasha since he was 17. When in a drunken stupor she lets it slip she wants to start a family by becoming a single mom he grabs his chance to finally get his woman. Max and Tasha were a perfect match and I really enjoyed their story. Banter and little internal emotional battles alternated with sexual chemistry that just burst off the pages. I was sucked in from first page to the last and rooting for Max all the way.

If you read my reviews or know me well enough to know my reading preferences you’ll be sick of hearing that one of my favorite tropes is the older woman-younger man trope. I have a few others, such as the friends=to=lovers and the ménage tropes and Vivian Arend once again combined two of my favorite tropes into a wonderful contemporary read.

One itty-bitty thing that bothered me in this book was the Lila (Tasha's friend and Max's cousin) situation. I kept waiting for a logical explanation for her behavior and attitude but the only one given was plain age-old jealousy and since I am not familiar with that emotion and think being jealous is a waste of time I couldn’t relate to her very much and took Tasha’s side in the “fight” to the very end.

This is definitely another one of my favorite Vivian Arend books. It had it all: heat and explicitness, pace, tropes I love and main characters I totally clicked with, a hero who shot to the top of my favorites list and last but not least the right amount of back-story and secondary stuff to create a perfect balance. Thank you, Ms. Arend for once again keeping me entertained and for never disappointing me when I open one of your books to read.

Favorite Quotes:
Max sank his fingers into her thick mane of dark hair and let his satisfaction escape in a low moan. God, he’d wanted to do that forever, and last night refusing her sexual advances had taken him to the breaking point. He needed this so badly he felt raw inside, aching with need for a taste of her.

His brain and body fought a battle for which could react the fastest. She was accepting his proposal. He was going to be with the woman he’d longed for his entire life. They were going to have sex and start a lifetime together. And have sex.

Max: “You tell me what you like and I’m game to try.”
“ Jesus . How can you talk while you’re fooling around?”
“I like talking when I’m fooling around. I like to tell you the dirty things I want to do to you. You make me hot.”
Tasha growled at him. “Bastard. I was so close.”
“I know, but you’ll get there again. And again. And again.”

Tasha ached as Max wept, his arms cradling her tenderly. That something inside that longed for a love without end—that place she’d had tied up tight and hidden away fearing it could never, ever be—snapped wide open.

Tasha wiped away the tears flooding her eyes. There was no more denying it—how much she loved him. It had taken far too long to admit it, but it was there, inside her.
No rockets went off, no loud thunderclaps or brilliant fanfare accompanied her realization. Only tightness in her throat, and a building joy to melt the final layers of icy fear that had coated her heart for so long.

July 18, 2011
Delivered from the darkness, a woman finds herself plunged into a passion that is DEEPER THAN MIDNIGHT . . .

At eighteen, Corinne Bishop was a beautiful, spirited young woman living a life of privilege as the adopted daughter of a wealthy family. Her world was changed in an instant when she was stolen away and held prisoner by the malevolent vampire Dragos. After many years of captivity and torment, Corinne is rescued by the Order, a cadre of vampire warriors embroiled in a war against Dragos and his followers. Her innocence taken, Corinne has lost a piece of her heart as well--the one thing that gave her hope during her imprisonment, and the only thing that matters to her now that she is free.

Assigned to safeguard Corinne on her trip home is a formidable golden-eyed Breed male called Hunter. Once Dragos's most deadly assassin, Hunter now works for the Order, and he's hell-bent on making Dragos pay for his manifold sins. Bonded to Corinne by their mutual desire, Hunter will have to decide how far he'll go to end Dragos's reign of evil--even if carrying out his mission means shattering Corinne's tender heart.

Author: Lara Adrian
Series: Midnight Breed, book 9
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Dell Books
Year of release: 2011, June 28
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Received a digital ARC for review via author’s assistant

First line:
The club was private, very much off the beaten path, and for damned good reason.

Memorable Scenes:
- hand-to-hand combat between Hunter and a Gen One assassin> awesome fight scene
- Hunter and Corinne's first kiss > TYPEREND for their romance; tentative, sweet and tender
- the fight scenes > Lara Adrian knows how to write breathtaking fight scenes

This review may contain spoilerish information about the heroine, so if you don’t want to know stuff beforehand, I urge you to not read the review if you haven’t read this book yet.

Hunter is a born and bred killing machine by The Order's enemy but joined The Order instead when the chance was there. He’s seemingly emotionless, deliberate, logical, lethal and ruthless, yet he can also be tender, honorable and even compassionate.

Corinne Bishop was abducted and kept prisoner by the Order's enemy and rescued in previous book of the series. Her Breed talent is sonokinetic energy (sound manipulation). She’s defiant, stubborn and a survivor. There were moments where Corinne stubbornness in pursuing a certain something (spoiler: her son, his whereabouts and thinking he would welcome her and not be the killing machine she rationally knew he must surely have become) annoyed me and I wished she would listen to Hunter instead of clinging to hopeless hope against her better judgment. Yet without this part of her characterization a lot of strength in the emotional element of the plot would've been less strong and maybe even lost. And the way it played out towards the end of the book was brilliantly done and left me with a satisfied feeling.

DEEPER THAN MIDNIGHT starts off action-packed and fast-paced with Hunter and Chase trying to find information on an Enforcement Agency operative suspected of being a mole for the enemy. The tone was set and I settled in for a thrilling read that took me from Boston to Detroit to New Orleans and back to Boston all the while the war with the Order's enemy is taken up a notch and the search for the enemy in order to eliminate him runs alongside the search of a mother for the child that was taken away from her at birth.

The way Lara Adrian continues the on-going plot by tying up loose treads and creating/setting up new ones at the same time and how all the subplots turn out to be connected in some way is just brilliant. It's the one constant aspect that I love in this series.

One element I missed in the first part of the book was the romance. This book is very plot-driven and it felt like the romance was sacrificed in favor of that in the first part of it. I felt the romantic connection being built between Corinne and Hunter but the all-consuming, steamy chemistry that most of the other couples in this series had, wasn't there in the first 10-15 chapters. Reading on I understood the reason for this, with both Corinne's tortured past that left her scarred both physically and emotionally and Hunter's upbringing that was void of emotions and filled with violence, this was the only way their romance could've been written and worked. And I need to say that in the second part of the book the romance took a more prominent place, which made up for the lack of it in the first part.

Not only the camaraderie between the warriors but the closeness and bond between the Breedmates is something that I love in this series and they're becoming more and more tight-knit with every installment. I also love that they don’t disappear into the background after their HEA (as it’s known to happen to heroines in other popular PNR series) with the occasional mention here or there. No, they stay in the forefront, crucial in the overall plot and help their mates in the battle against evil.

Sterling Chase's storyline has intrigued me from the moment he first appeared in this series in MIDNIGHT AWAKENING (book 3). Knowing his book is next is making me giddy as all hell. He's so volatile and on the brink of snapping and giving in to his rage, the lust for pain and the Bloodlust...I can't wait to read his journey to redemption and his HEA. I’m really trying to tone down my expectations for his book as to not be disappointed when they’re set too high but am slightly failing at it as I really, really look forward to it.

Fights, chases, action-sequences...next to the ongoing plot, the back-stories and the intriguing characters, they are the thriving force behind my love for this series. Lara Adrian writes action scenes and plots that resonate with me in a way like few other PNR authors on my shelves do. Even when I don’t click with the characters, which has happened in a few of the previous books, I keep coming back to this series and devouring the books the moment they are available because of Lara Adrian’s writing and the ongoing plot arc that just enthralls me every single time.

DEEPER THAN MIDNIGHT was another great installment in a series that quickly became one of my favorites on my PNR shelf. Though the romance got off on a slow start and the plot was the more driving force behind this part, it was a very satisfying read and I was sad when I reached the last page and realized I have to wait till January to see where the cliffhanger type ending in the overall plot is going to lead us.

Favorite Quotes:
(Chase) He welcomed the agony of his wounds, the fiery kiss of deep pain that
made him feel alive. Just about the only thing that gave him any feeling at all. And, like a junkie, he pursued that feeling with reckless, desperate abandon.
Better than the alternative. Pain was the dark, wicked high that kept him from craving another, more dangerous mistress. Without pain, all he would have was hunger.

And then he was kissing her. Gently, unhurried, he brushed his lips across hers. His kiss was almost tentative, as though he didn't know how to take more than what she was willing to give him. As intoxicating as his mouth felt against hers, it was also sweet, the first time she'd ever been touched so carefully, so full of tenderness. That a formidable male like Hunter could possess such patience and restraint astonished her.

We were born to be his assassins. His Hunters, and nothing more."
"Hunters." The word sounded wooden on her tongue. "I thought Hunter was your name. Is it your name?"
He could see her confusion. Her frown furrowed deeper as she quietly processed all that she was hearing. "Hunter is the only thing I've been called from the day I was born. It is what I am. What I will always be."

July 17, 2011

Everyone loves a hero. That's the problem.

Hero pilot Cole Langston is learning to live with—and enjoy—his newfound fame and the rabid female attention that comes with it until a lucky punch knocks some sense into him and opens his eyes to true love.

When his copilot suffers a heart attack in flight, Cole lands the jetliner in a blizzard and revives the stricken captain. Catapulted to national hero status, Cole has more women vying for his attention than he knows what to do with. They all have one thing in common: they try without success to bring this happy-go-lucky pilot down to earth.

Then comes an airport altercation, a punch to the face, and the lovely Olivia—a shy, timid artist who does what no other woman has ever managed to do: steal Cole's well-protected heart. With women coming on to him everywhere they go, Olivia struggles to believe that Cole is ready for a committed relationship. His biggest problem is getting rid of all his extra ladies before the only one he wants figures out that she's one of many.

Author: Marie Force
Series: Standalone (to my knowledge this book is not part of a series)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Year of release: 2011, February 1
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: won an ARC of this book in a Twitter contest held by the author

First line:
Cole opened the eye that still worked and struggled to figure out how he had ended up on the floor.

Memorable Scenes:
Sorry people, didn’t write down memorable scenes, though I know for sure that there were quite a few…I normally jot down these scenes on the Notes App on my iPhone but unfortunately I read this book during an iPhone-less stint and apparently don’t do hand-written memorable scenes notes. :)

Cole Langston is a pilot and a real life hero without making an effort to be one. He’s a sweet, confident nice guy who’s energetic, spontaneous, thoughtful and considerate. He’s also just cocky enough to pull it off without being annoying or arrogant. A ladies-man and commitment phobic until he meets Olivia and realizes she’s “the one.” However, his ladies-man reputation, despite his good and honorable intentions towards Olivia, keeps hunting their new and budding relationship. Throughout the book it comes back to bite him in the ass (almost literally in the form of a crazy ex-fling).

Cole was a character who was difficult for me to peg down. He’s not a hero I could easily fit into a labeled box. He has a dry, subtle sense of humor that made him very attractive and should have made him a hero after my own heart but his sometimes not so fine moments and actions prevent me from putting him on my favorite heroes lists. On one page I’d really like him and find him adorable. On other pages there would be glimpses of a man I had trouble connecting with and this had to do with his attitude towards the women in his past. It’s hard for me to not sound wishy-washy about this but it’s hard for me to explain what I mean. There was just some stuff that he did or didn’t do that I didn’t like/agree with. And then he’d say or do something that made me melt and go all “awww he’s actually really sweet.” I guess I will remain fickle where Cole’s concerned.

Olivia Robison is a neat freak, still living at home and still in college because of some interesting circumstances. She’s a very talented artist who works at an airport store as a clerk to put herself through business school. But business is not where her heart lies, it’s with art. She’s serious, easy-going, undemanding and appreciative of little things. She’s also a dreamer with hopes and dreams for the future despite also being practical and realistic.

Though she’s totally smitten with Cole, Olivia doesn’t understand what he, an adventurous, worldly man, sees in her, a student living with her parents and working in an airport shop.

The next note is literally copied from my review notes but I must use a disclaimer here stating that I honestly don’t remember what the heck I’m referring too. I would have to re-read the book to recall what it’s about and alas I have no time for re-reads so I’m still including it but please don’t ask me what I mean by it… *smile*
Marie Force totally surprised me with her heroine and something (which I won’t disclose due to spoiler-ish reasons) about her heroine. I definitely didn’t expect it and before reading EVERYONE LOVES A HERO I would have even said I didn’t like to read it in a contemporary romance but Force made it work perfectly with the story.

If someone has any idea of what I’m talking about here, please clue me in…LOL And I must remember that since I’m the only person who reads my review notes, it’s okay for me to disclose stuff that may be considered spoiling. *sigh*

The secondary cast contained some very interesting characters. For example, Olivia’s parents: Mary and Jerry. Mary is an agoraphobic hoarder and obsessive-compulsive shopper. Jerry is Olivia’s rock and anchor. Olivia’s other anchor and touchstone was Jenny, her best friend and cousin. There were also some interesting secondary characters surrounding Cole: I loved Tucker (and secretly hope that he’ll have his own book one day) and “Nutty” Natasha, a crazy, stalker-ish past fling of Cole’s I wanted to smack in the face. Finally there was the cute gay couple Victor and Paolo. Victor reminded me so much of a family friend of my parents I called my mom to ask about him and how he’s doing.

Humorous banter was one of the elements that contributed to the feel-good vibe this book oozes. The start was funny, sweet and endearing/touching. In other words, exactly what I expect from my favorite contemporary romance. The sex scenes are smokin’ HOT, making this book a very sexy contemporary, next to being cute and sweet.

With all the sweetness and cuteness and I wondered if the other shoe was ever going to drop. Just when I thought the book was getting too cute I started to hear that eerie JAWS theme in my head while I read how the sugary sweet romance was about to hit a rough patch. And I was glad for the conflicts and complicating factors (Cole’s women-filled past, his behavior and attitude towards them and Olivia’s doubts and insecurities) to the relationship/romance because without them the whole book just would have been too cute for my taste.

The big misunderstanding was completely in line with the development of the story and I even saw it coming. I didn’t understand Olivia’s first reaction as my first move would have been to confront Cole and ask for an explanation or at least give him an opportunity to explain. She didn’t however and this understandably led to the big resolution finale towards the HEA that belongs in romance novels. More importantly, it gave the book the emotional punch to counter the cute sweetness because those last 20-30 pages were heartbreakingly emotional.

Of course it goes without saying that all romance novels I read are romantic but it bears mentioning that EVERYONE LOVES A HERO is one of the most romantic books I’ve read in a long while. Following Cole and Olivia’s falling in love, reading about their first phone call, their first date and their first kiss gave me that warm fuzzy feeling and made me sigh and smile at the same time while reading.

I really loved my first encounter with Marie Force’s work. EVERYONE LOVES A HERO is a cute, sweet and butterflies-inducing contemporary romance written in an easy and agreeable writing style. I adore her voice and can’t wait to start her Fatal Series (romantic suspense series with Carina Press).

Favorite Quotes:
Never in her life had Olivia experienced a kiss quite like this –a kiss that made her want to tear off his clothes and have him. Right there. Right now. She whimpered under the weight of the need that blazed through her.

“Finally,” he sighed, turning his head ever so slightly, just enough to capture her lips. He pressed her to the wall and sent his tongue to find hers.

Breathing in his warm, masculine scent, Olivia couldn’t help but smile at the relief in his voice. In a thick Cockney accent, she said, “Am I permitted a quick trip to the loo, my lord?”
Cole cracked up. “Only if you hurry up. Your lord’s boner requires your immediate attention.”

July 16, 2011

Abandoned by her wolf shifter father and raised by her human psychic mother, Carmen Mendoza can't deny she's different. She craves things most women shy away from--and she has a trail of shapeshifting ex-boyfriends to prove it.

Working at a clinic for supernatural creatures, she's escaped the notice of her father's legacy-obsessed family. Until they need a pawn in their bid for power. Snared by a vicious spell designed to wake her inner wolf, Carmen's only hope is to trust the one man strong enough to soothe her darkest instincts.

Alec Jacobson was once the heir apparent to the wolves' ruling elite, until he walked away to marry the woman he loved. She paid with her life. He lives as a rebel, a black-sheep alpha who protects the supernatural residents of New Orleans from the wolves' barbaric class system. Too bad he can't protect himself from his need for Carmen.

Yet staking his claim on his enemy's niece will turn his city into a battleground. Unless he can find a way to stop breaking the rules--and start making them.

Warning: This book contains a renegade alpha wolf, a smart empathic doctor, very dirty sex with psychic safe-words, the occasional dominance game in and out of the bedroom, and a group of supernatural citizens ready to take on the corrupt leaders of their world.

Reviewer's note from Pearl:
I read this book way before release date and this should have been an ARC-review but circumstances beyond my control had me writing the review months later and more circumstances caused the belated posting on the blog, which is why I have labeled it as an ARC-review but haven't used it in the title of the post.

Author: Moira Rogers
Series: Southern Arcana, book 3
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Year of release: 2011, January 4
Format: eBook
Source: received an e-ARC from author for review

First line:
Alec wrenched himself out of the path of a flying fist and acknowledged, for the first time in his increasingly long life, that he might be getting old.

Memorable Scenes:
- the love scene at Carmen's place > explosively hot
- the challenge fights > Never thought I'd be so bloodthirsty and enjoy reading them as much as I did

Alec Jacobson is a born wolf shifter. He’s gruff, a commanding and protective straight-shooter who is alpha to the bone. The subtle humor and especially Alec's dry humor made me smile numerous times throughout the book. But there were also moments I choked up at Alec's loneliness and pain that was always there in the background.

Carmen Mendoza is a half-breed wolf and an empath. Apparently I didn’t write much else down about Carmen, which makes me think that I probably was too engrossed by Alec to notice Carmen much. Some heroes do that to me, especially the dirty talking ones.

The love scenes were very hot and absolutely spine-tingling without being overly explicit. They were awesome and not in the least because of Alec's dirty mouth. I absolutely loved the slow, simmering chemistry and banter between Carmen and Alec. It built up nicely to the point of no return and it was one of the elements that kept me reading and not wanting to leave the book for long when I really had to stop because of my pesky non-reading life.

I love the Southern Arcana series. CRUX hooked me, CROSSROADS reeled me in and DEADLOCK sealed the deal. From the first page I was back in the world of alpha shifters and powerful psychics and enjoying myself reading how uber-alpha Alec was romantically brought to his knees by love and Carmen.

As far as the secondary cast is concerned, quite some interesting characters were introduced and took their place next to the familiar ones from CRUX and CROSSROADS. Enough new introductions to assure me this series has the potential of sticking around for awhile. From events and an interaction in DEADLOCK I guessed a future pairing right (as Bree confirmed for me through Twitter) and I can’t wait to read their story.

I really like how Moira Rogers incorporates the family and shifter politics into this series. It’s what keeps it very interesting and also forms a great balance for the romance parts. The different subplots in the book came together brilliantly yet still left some wiggle room for stuff to be played out in future installments and I like it when authors do that in the subtle way it was done in this book.

DEADLOCK had a feel of rightness and ease to it that made it the best of the series for me to-date. Going back to the Southern Arcana world and its characters was like a comforting trip home. And if you haven’t embarked on this series yet, please do…you will not regret adding another addictive series to your paranormal reading palette.

Favorite Quotes:
He kissed the way she'd seen him live, reckless arrogance and power and an intensity that bordered on intimidating.

"Belonging to me means you get what you need, whenever I can give it. Tonight it means me proving that you set off every dominant, animal urge I've got, whether you're stoned on magic or not."

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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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