September 30, 2011

Noah Jordan misses the life he once led as a spy so when he's asked by his former superior to head to the countryside and investigate a potential murder, he jumps at the chance. He doesn't expect to meet Marion Hawthorne, a young woman his suspected murderer is interested in taking as his wife.

In an effort to help her... and to get closer to the fascinating lady, Noah asks for her help in his investigation. But as they grow closer, their desire grows and suddenly Noah has a harder and harder time remembering any duty, any promise or any future he ever imagined without her.

Author: Jenna Petersen
Series: The Jordans, book 2
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Self-Published
Year of release: 2011, September 26
Format: eBook
Source: Received an e-ARC from the author for review

First line:
"Get your mind out of the game and into the parlor, Woodbury," Noah Jordan admonished himself as he paced the sitting room of the Ives family.

Memorable Scenes:
- the scene where Noah tells Marion he's a spy > awesome! Both Marion's reaction to it and Noah’s shock at that reaction.
- Marion's escape > breathtaking
- The reunion scene > can't divulge what reunion for spoiler reasons but it was heartbreaking and moving

Marion Hawthorne is a merchant's daughter. She’s a real spitfire, direct, outspoken and spontaneous. She’s also perceptive, vivacious and bold. The life she’s led hasn’t been easy and though her father belittles her and treats her like she’s a commodity she never loses her zest for life.

Noah Jordan is the new Marquis of Woodbury after his father’s demise and has a hard time filling his father’s shoes. At least, in his own eyes. He’s flirtatious and seductive yet honorable. But he’s also adventuresome, passionate and proud. Noah loves challenges and Marion definitely proves to be one.

After a year away from active duty, Noah is asked to go back to the spy business for one last assignment: solve a murder in his shire (Woodsbury). While doing that he stumbles upon Marion who is there with her father for some business. It turns out Marion's father's business is to marry her off to the murder suspect (in Noah’s case) in order to be cleared of his debt to the man.

The secondary characters in this second installment of The Jordans series is not big in numbers but they are all crucial to the plot and the romance in some way or form. I really liked the glimpse I got of Audrey and Griffin (main couple from book 1).

Every time I read a Jenna Petersen historical romance I'm amazed at the vileness of some of her secondary characters and how unlikeable they are. Mostly they are family members and in THE TEMPTATION OF A GENTLEMAN Walter Hawthorne and Josiah Lucas took the prize. They were once again proof that Jenna Petersen knows how to write her villains.

Though I didn't like Tabitha Jordan, Noah's mother, in the first book of this trilogy very much, in this book she has definitely been redeemed. A sad event has made her more tolerant and supportive towards her children and their (love-)lives and that made her so much more likeable to me. The way she advised, reprimanded and accepted was a welcome change compared to her behavior in THE SECRETS OF A LADY.

I really love Jenna Petersen's writing. She balances plot, romance and humor perfectly and once I start reading I don't want to stop as she has the uncanny talent to hook you with both plot and romance. Her characters are lively and have depth to them and she also has the emotional rollercoaster down pat.

THE TEMPTATION OF A GENTLEMAN is a captivating combination of danger and romance with a suspicious death and a potential forced marriage on the side. It was fast-paced with an excellent plot and the romance was heartfelt and though complicated there was no unnecessary drama! I utterly enjoyed this middle book of the Jordans Trilogy!

Favorite Quotes:
"Well..." She placed a fingertip on her chin as if in deep thought. "Do you promise not to molest me while you walk me home, my lord?"
He choked on his surprised laughter, but her question forced sudden, heated images to his mind that he had been fighting with desperation. Obviously this was a losing battle. He was destined to picture the lovely Marion Hawthorne in various states of undress and pleasure.

“I‘m trying to decide if you‘re being serious or if you‘re simply daft. She folded her hands on her lap. I no longer think you‘re lying, though.”
“Well, thank God for that.” With a grunt, he threw himself back into the seat. “I so enjoy being called crazy rather than a liar.”

She pursed her lips as irritation lit up in her eyes. “If you‘ll allow me to finish, I‘ll explain exactly what I did. Then you can scream and bellow like a barbarian.” (Marion to Noah)

If she had her wits, she would have been embarrassed by her wanton display, but her wits had left her the moment Noah had touched her in that secret place where she only dared to wash and not think about. All that was left was the throbbing need for him to release her from the prison he‘d locked her in with hot kisses and shocking touches.

Tabitha‘s demeanor softened. “Control is a tricky thing, Marion. We never have it, even when we think we do. And constantly striving for it only seems to put it further from reach.”

She stared up at him with brown eyes that were wide and clear and full of trust, trust in him. Even in her shaken state, her beauty and good soul were as evident as her worry and fear. And Noah realized, with the strength of a thunderbolt, that he loved her. Not loved her as a friend, but an all-consuming, earth-shaking love that rocked him to the very center of his soul. He loved her and had loved her from the very first moment she‘d stormed around the lake and given him… and his horse… a tongue-lashing.

September 29, 2011

Wanted: willing apprentice to handle indecently arrogant (but incredibly sexy) tycoon

With her family business in crisis, Polly Prince does her best to keep calm and carry on. But hard work alone can't save her London company from a takeover by the infamously ruthless Damon Doukakis…or her traitorous body from the lethal sensuality of her boss!

As his new apprentice, Polly accompanies Damon to Paris to negotiate the most challenging business deal of her life! Worse still, Polly must at all costs resist Damon in the most dangerously romantic city in the world…

Author: Sarah Morgan
Series: 21st Century Bosses
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Books, Harlequin Presents line
Year of release: 2011, September 27
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Received an ARC from the author for review

First line:
"He's here. He's arrived. Damon Doukakis just strode into the building."

Memorable Scenes:
- all the arguments between Polly and Damon > sizzling foreplay, every one of 'em

Polly Prince (not wowed by the name but what’s in a name? The character certainly wowed me) is the executive assistant at her father’s ad agency. She’s a proficient, driven, defiant and very creative workaholic. She’s used to taking care of herself because of an absent father who'd rather chase women half his age then take care of his daughter. When her father’s latest conquest leads to the ad agency taken over by Damon Doukakis, Polly grabs the chance to show what’s she’s worth to the company.

Damon Doukakis is the billionaire media-tycoon who takes over Prince Advertising and his reasons aren’t solely business driven. He has a score to settle with the CEO, Polly’s father. Damon is quiet, calculating and protective of the people he holds dear. He’s volatile under a veneer of calm coolness and he’s ruthless both in the boardroom and outside of it.

After reading and loving A NIGHT OF SCANDAL I was thrilled that Sarah offered me another book of hers to read and my expectations were definitely met with DOUKAKIS'S APPRENTICE.

The twist created by family stuff and something too spoiler-y for me to reveal here as it would take away from the tension between Polly and Damon and the enjoyment of the story offered the base for smoldering chemistry and lots of verbal sparring between them and I loved it. I also loved you see both Damon and Polly fall under each other’s spell, despite their fight against it.

From the first page to the last I was drawn into Sarah Morgan's fast-paced and attention-grabbing writing style and the intriguing premise. This is Harlequin Presents at its best! The tension, the daughter of the enemy-trope, the setting and the emotional back-stories, it all helped turning this book into an awesome read. And the way Sarah Morgan writes kisses? Who needs a full-on sex scene when you're treated to make-out scenes of this caliber! Oh and the full-on sex scenes…they weren't too shabby either ;)

DOUKAKIS’S APPRENTICE was another awesome read! When I read a book in one sitting that says enough. I just couldn't stop reading until I was finished. Sarah Morgan has a knack for great, emotionally layered Harlequin Presents with well-rounded characters that jump off the pages.

Favorite Quotes:
Hauling his gaze away from the seductive curve of her bottom, Damon slammed the lid on that part of him that wanted to flatten her to the boardroom table and indulge in raw, mindless sex.

(Damon wonders when Polly learned to speak French)
Polly flushed. “Just kidding. I promised myself that if a gorgeous Frenchman ever whispered sweet nothings in my ear I wanted to be able to understand him.”
“If he’s whispering nothing it would probably be better not to understand him.” Damon said dryly and his words made her laugh.

The sudden darkening of his beautiful eyes told her he felt it too and rejected the unwanted chemistry as completely as she did. Perversely, that rejection didn’t hurt as much as aggravate. Her emotions spun and suddenly she wanted to press her mouth to his and kiss away the sarcasm and cynicism that flowed from him.

Caught off guard, Polly tumbled headlong into the addictive heat of his kiss, her mouth colliding with his in a fusion of intimacy that was shocking in its intensity. The exploding heat was fierce enough to fuel a nuclear reactor, the hunger so all-consuming it devoured her preconceptions about just how a kiss could feel because this kiss was like no other.

Her sweet mouth seduced his with a slow, sure gentleness that ripped away his defences and sent fire tearing through every part of him.
Balancing on the dangerous knife-edge of a new addiction, he felt his power to control his emotions and actions drain at a frightening rate. The part of his brain warning him to stop this madness right now was eclipsed by the part that reached out greedily for the fulfillment of pleasure.

Watching Damon dance was a sensual feast. Every movement made her think of sex, every glance he sent in her direction was a promise of what was to come.

“I love you.” He spoke the words softly but his eyes were full of passion and heat. “I’ve spent my whole life making sure I didn’t fall in love. Then I met you again and suddenly I didn’t have a choice.”

September 28, 2011

Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London—and he's known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check...until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he's waited for all his life.


But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to be free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark's enemies make her an offer she can't refuse: seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she's sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs…and the love she knows is impossible.

Author: Courtney Milan
Series: The Turners, book 2
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: HQN Books
Year of release: 2011, September 27
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Requested an e-ARC from publisher via NetGalley

First line:
Sir Mark Turner did not look like any virgin that Jessica had ever seen before.
Memorable Scenes:
- the church picnic > wonderful scene
- the shooting party at the Tollivers > the tension and attraction between Mark and Jessica was at its high point here, on the verge of snapping
- Jessica's confession after rejecting Mark's proposal > I cried and my heart broke for both of them
- the duel > AWESOME!!
- Mark at Jessica’s parental residence > I bawled and had to read through my tears

Dire circumstances forced Jessica Farleigh to lead a courtesan’s life. A life filled with hurt and loss. This has made the Jessica a calculated survivor with a big sense of adaptability. So when her survival depends on the seduction of a man who slowly worms his way into her heart, she has some tough choices to make. I don’t know if Jessica is a heroine for everyone but I definitely liked her survivor’s mentality. She did some stupid things but still she tried to sort her way out of them. And the way she owned up to her flaws and bad decisions made her a great heroine for me.

Mark Turner is the author of a practical guide to chastity. What starts as a philosophical work he just wanted to put on paper makes him a famous and much sought after person in London. But it also puts him in the line of fire of petty, envious enemies. Mark is a clever, easy-mannered man of principles. He is gentle yet commanding and he’s tired of people seeing him as some saint who can't be tempted. His ultimate temptation comes in the form a woman out to ruin him. To me Mark was a hero in every sense of the word. He has immediately been added to my list of favorite heroes.

I utterly enjoyed the teasing and battles of will between Mark and Jessica. There were also battles of will in the previous books and I really like that Courtney Milan gives each couple a different type of dynamic, making the romances unique and fresh. I also liked the build-up of the sexual tension towards the explosive first love scene, proving that sexy doesn't have to be explicit or crass. The chemistry between Mark and Jessica is instant and though it offered every opportunity for a quick explosive tumble in the sack, I LOVED how Courtney Milan didn’t take that road.

The secondary cast is supportive in every sense of the word. They are never intrusive, yet play crucial roles in both plot and romance. There are secondary characters you’ll love instantly (Mark’s family), ones you’ll hate on the spot (Weston and the reverend) and those who you just need some time to warm up to (Nigel Parret, James Tolliver and Jessica’s father). I utterly enjoyed having the Turner brothers on the page together. The banter and brotherly dynamic were awesome but the bond between them shone through splendidly as well.

The plot revolves around Jessica trying to seduce Mark into losing his virginity (and virtue) by order of his biggest enemy and rival for a post offered to Mark and Jessica's former protector. But there's so much more going on. There's something that happened in Jessica's past (to do with her former protector) that has made her skittish of men touching her. This is revealed slowly and enticingly with small clues worked into characterization, action and dialogue. I couldn't wait to get to the bottom of it and when I did I was shocked at the cruelty of it and like Mark I wanted vengeance.

There are also Jessica’s and Mark’s back-stories, both slowly unveiled throughout the book and that’s one of the things I love about Courtney Milan’s writing: She doesn’t give you information about the characters and their motivation in one big telling-instead-of-showing info-dump but gradually incorporates the information in dialogues and the characters’ behavior and actions.

I've said it before: Courtney Milan's writing is mesmerizing magic. The pictures she paints through her writing are vivid and almost tangible. In UNCLAIMED she showed and proved this through the beautiful yet succinct descriptions, her spot-on characterizations and the sparkling dialogues. I haven’t read Milan’s first series but after the three stories that I’ve read in the Turners series I know they will be soon devoured as I’m madly in love with her writing.

UNCLAIMED is a historical romance in a league of its own. Its non-beauty makes it beautiful. Its rawness and pureness makes it gripping, its far from perfect characters makes it perfect and Courtney Milan's writing makes it unforgettable and exceptionally emotional.

Favorite Quotes:
"Mrs. Jessica Farleigh, official town disgrace. At your service."
"Sir Mark Turner," he said. "I speak with the tongues of a thousand angels. Butterflies follow me wherever I go. Birds sing when I take a breath."

In the years that followed, she'd learned that the glittering finery was a trap, that the soiree was not endless. It eroded you, piece by irrevocable piece. It made a mockery of love, and if you did not look after your heart with a ferocious care, you'd find, bit by bit, you'd traded it for silk ribbons and baubles on gold chains.

"We've already discussed my sins, Mrs. Farleigh. I am greedy. I am covetous. I am selfish. And one other thing." He leaned in. "I absolutely do not share." (Mark to Jessica)

"There is no such thing as a fallen woman—you just need to look for the man who pushed her."

Sir Mark wanted her as she was, not as he wanted her to be.

She belonged to herself again, body and soul, pleasure and heartbreak. She was every inch hers again, her body reclaimed from those long years of bitter ownership.

Hope is a fickle friend. Gorging on it was like eating too much pudding. All the sweetness would feel wonderful for a few minutes, but once the first heady rush of energy faded, it left you tired and worn through.

For one lovely second, she could believe the promise in his kiss: that this would not fade, that she would wake up to him for a thousand mornings to come. Ten thousand mornings.

"You've always been your own knight," he said, "riding to your rescue. I'm just the man who came along and saw how brightly your armor shone."

September 27, 2011

Clio is not only the muse of history, she has virtually lived her life through books. When a lightning strike sends her through space and time, Clio finds herself in the Old West with no way of getting home and none of her powers. Relying on her book learning is not working out like she’d hoped.

Ace Nevada is an unwilling sheriff who has spent the last year trying to get out of town. When a crazy woman lands in the horse trough in front of a saloon, he finds himself strangely attracted to her. He can’t help himself from sampling her lips or her incredibly lush body.

Clio learns how to be human and Ace remembers what it is to be human. They are two halves of the same whole. Mates. When Clio’s powers return, will their love pass the test of time?

Author: Beth Williamson
Series: standalone
Genre: Historical Romance, Time-Travel, Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Self-Published
Year of release: 2011, September 27
Format: eBook
Source: received an e-ARC from the author for review

First line:
Clio spent most of her time reading books.

Memorable Scenes:
- the opening scene where Clio finds herself flung on Earth and landing in a trough > great opening with lots of humor (and we all know who’s a sucker for humor)

Clio, goddess (and muse of History) travels to from Mt. Olympus to Earth and back in time by accident and ends up in 1875 Peyote, Texas. I really liked Ace and his straightforwardness, gruffness and brutal honesty and I loved the combination of innocence and fierceness that was Clio.

A COWBOY'S MUSE was my first time-travel/historical western/pnr (yup, a mesh-up of epic proportions) in years and though Beth Williamson's writing is definitely something I loved and I certainly want to read more of her work in a contemporary setting, there's a reason I haven't read mesh-ups like these for years: I'm not a big fan of either historical western or time-travel.

However if you love these types of stories don't hesitate to get it and read it because in the short span of 50 pages Williamson delivered a lovely, nicely wrapped up story that had great characters, had lots of humor and was sizzling hot to boot!

Favorite Quotes:
"Somebody get her a towel or something," a deep voice said. "For Chrissakes, stop staring, Billy! Ain't you ever seen a woman in a purple peek-a-boo before?"
"Not like that, Ace. I was hoping to get a look at her–" answered another voice, this one a bit whiny.
"Shut up and get back inside that damn saloon before I shoot you, you stupid cowpoke."

Maybelle swept out onto the porch. Shit. "Ace Nevada! Get your hands offa that girl." Ace pushed Clio off his lap back onto the step where she landed with a thump.
"She kissed me, Maybelle."
Maybelle snorted. "And I'm the Queen of England. Clio! Get yourself back in this house!"
Clio jumped up and darted into the house. He waited for the rest of it.
Maybelle smacked him across the back of his head and ended his waiting.
"Leave that girl alone, Ace. She ain't quite right in the head and she don't need a smooth-talker like you ruffling her drawers." With one last smack, Maybelle went into the house behind his goddess.

There were six men in the room, all ogling, staring at, pawing and flirting with Clio! My woman. My goddess. Some unused instinct buried deep inside his soul howled and clawed its way up out of the darkness. As he watched in disbelief, Clio laughed and touched, touched, the hand of the man to her left.
The man who would soon only have one hand. "What in the hell is going on in here?" he thundered.

September 26, 2011

Olivia Bishop is no fun. That's what her ex-husband said. And that's what her smart bob and glasses imply. So with her trademark determination, Olivia sets out to remake her life. She's going to spend time with her girlfriends and not throw it all away for some man. But when an outing with her book club leads her to a brewery taproom, the dark-haired beauty realizes that trouble—in the form of sexy Jamie Donovan—may be too tempting to avoid.

Jamie Donovan doesn't mean to be bad. Sure, the wild streak in his wicked green eyes has lured the ladies before. Now it's time to grow up. He's even ready for a serious romance. But how can that be when Olivia, the only right woman he has ever met, already has him pegged as wrong?

Author: Victoria Dahl
Series: Donovan Brothers Brewery, book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: HQN Books
Year of release: 2011, September 27
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Requested e-ARC from publisher via NetGalley

First line:
This wasn't a book club; this was a manhunt.

Memorable Scenes:
-Hot tub scene > sweet and hot
- Gwen's jaw drops to the floor scene > so funny
- the mirror scene > smokin' hot
- phone call from Olivia's mom > she was memorable in the sense that I wanted to smack the condescension right out of her!
- the scene where Jamie finally gives Eric a piece if his mind > made me teary-eyed
- Jamie decking Victor > I so wanted to do that myself

Olivia Bishop is a 35 year-old teacher who has decided she is going to take her life in her own hands after living under her ex-husbands thumb, wishes and whims. She’s a planner and a list-maker (hmm, that sounds familiar), proper and prim and competent and calm. She also has difficulty forming friendships.

Jamie Donovan is a 29 year-old bartender and part owner of the Donovan Brewery. He’s a persistent stickler, charming and sweet. But he also has guilt over his past behavior eating away at him. Though Jamie has this aura of being the black sheep of the family, the bad boy with no sense of responsibility, I think this image is more in his mind (and amplified by his older brother Eric’s behavior towards him and regard of him) than that he really is.

Nonetheless, he decides to show his family he's capable of taking things serious and starts following courses on food and beverage management at college so he has a foundation for his plan to turn the Donovan Brewery tasting room into a pub that serves simple meals. Jamie strikes a deal with Olivia. He helps her loosen up and have some fun and she advices him on his plans for the tasting room. I loved how Olivia thought she and Jamie were so different, but deep down with all the superficial layers stripped off they weren't all that different.

I really liked Jamie. He exceeded the expectations I had of him after reading the first book. But I loved Olivia too. At first her hang-ups over the age-difference annoyed me a little but because she stopped making those remarks pretty soon into the story I really warmed up to her fast. I recognized quite a few things from myself in Olivia, which made it easy to relate to her. I think one of the reasons I really liked this book was that certain things about Olivia just struck home with me and I always love books or characters that do that.

This second book of the trilogy was much more to my liking than the first book. For one I liked the romance in this book better because it was the romance that was the centre point of the book. The chemistry and dynamics between Jamie and Olivia were awesomely done and I was happy to see there is no suspense plot to distract from the lovely romance. There are still things going on however but they all fit within the romance-driven storyline and complement it rather than detract from it.

I don’t know what it is with this trilogy but at the beginning of this book I again missed Victoria Dahl's trademark humor. I missed it a lot in Tessa's story and though it got way better a bit further into BAD BOYS DO and my faith in Victoria Dahl's contemporary magic was most certainly restored, I'm a little sad that the humorous note to her writing in this trilogy doesn’t seem to reach the level of her Tumble Creek books.

However, what I missed in humor was more than made up for by emotions. Especially the second half of the book was pretty emotional. Not only did the tension between the siblings (more importantly Eric and Jamie) get kicked up a good notch but also the escalation of the conflict that was brewing between Olivia and Jamie reached its highpoint.

I really hope Eric gets a taste of his own medicine in his book because in these two first books he was a real ass (no other way to put it), especially to Jamie and I couldn't figure out why. There were moments I strongly disliked Eric in this book...but he did some good groveling so in the end so he’s tentatively starting to squirm his way back in my good graces. Someone who will never be redeemed in my eyes is a-hole Victor, Olivia’s ex-husband…Man I wanted to smack that guy right out of this book! But ah well, if I could’ve done that, there wouldn’t have been much of story, would there?

BAD BOYS DO is a cute and sweet character and romance-driven contemporary romance that I really enjoyed because of the trope, the romance and the great characters. After a (for me) rocky start, Victoria Dahl has completely reeled me completely back into this trilogy with this great read and I’m now anxiously eyeing my e-Galley of REAL MEN WILL and can’t wait to see how Eric will get his due.

Favorite Quotes:
Now that the smile was directed at her, Olivia found herself mute. Her lips parted. Nothing came out.
"This is Olivia," Gwen volunteered.
"Hello, Olivia."
Good Lord. How did he make the few syllables of her name sound like a kiss. A deep, slow kiss. Olivia actually shivered.

Boy, she was regretting that generously padded bra now. False advertising and potential daylight nudity did not mix.

"Please tell me he calls you Ms. Bishop while he licks you like a lollipop." (Gwen to Olivia)

He felt strange. Not himself. Not charming and easy and smooth, but mindless and rough. He wanted to find everything she'd never done, just so he could be the one first. He wanted to take her so thoroughly that she'd have no inclination to move on to a third lover, or a fourth.

She didn't know what this grief was. She couldn't love him, not so quickly. She couldn't feel betrayed; he'd never promised her anything. So what was this awful ache?

He hadn't taken anything, because Olivia had given herself, and there was power in that. She was going to take that power and turn it into something amazing. She was going to emerge from this smarter and stronger. But first she was going to cry like a baby and let herself mourn what she never had.

September 25, 2011

Forensic anthropologist Kelsey Quinn goes to a remote Texas border region to dig up ancient bones, but ends up unearthing a deadly secret. When Kelsey’s discovery jeopardizes not just her dig, but her life, she turns to US Navy SEAL Gage Brewer, who may be the only person brave enough—and lethal enough—to help.

Title: UNSTOPPABLE (found in Anthology DEADLY PROMISES)
Author: Laura Griffin
Series: Tracers, book 2.5
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Pocket Books
Year of release: 2010, September 28
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Bought via The BookDepository

First line:
Sometimes they went in with a flash and crash, but Lieutenant Gage Brewer always preferred stealth.

UNSTOPPABLE reminded me of the TV show Bones, with Kelsey being a forensic anthropologist and big hunky Gage sent to protect her. I loved Kelsey and Gage and their romance. The suspense plot was perfect for the length of the story and though it only partially wrapped up, I am sure it will be completely wrapped up in Mia's story (UNFORGIVABLE) who had a small but crucial part in this one.

As usual Griffin writes awesome suspense with subtle romance and the short length of this novella didn't bother me at all. It was well-rounded and well-written and I can't wait to read the next installment in the Tracers series.

Favorite Quotes:
Her pulse skipped as the feel of him, the smell of him permeated her brain. A jolt of raw sexual awareness zinged through her, and she scrambled away.

Gage needed a woman. Soon. Didn’t it figure that the one woman to stir his interest after months and months of celibacy would be the niece of his CO, a woman completely off-limits for some quick-and-dirty fun?

September 24, 2011

Emma Lee Bridges is back in her tiny hometown for the first time in years. Not even twenty-four hours after hitting the landing strip, she’s already forced to face the boy she loved and left behind.

But Jackson isn’t exactly the boy she remembers. Now the sexy owner of a successful mechanic shop, he takes one look at Emma and wants her back—permanently.

The sex between them is downright flammable, the chemistry they share as wild as ever. And this time around, Emma has to decide if she wants to run or stay for good.

Author: Scarlett Scott
Series: standalone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Year of release: 2011, August 5
Format: eBook
Source: Bought via Jasmine Jade eBookstore

First line:
Paradise, Georgia. Emma couldn’t believe she was back after twelve years.

Memorable Scenes:
- the scene in Jackson's kitchen > wait a minute! Did my iPhone just spontaneously burst into flames?

My first encounter with Scarlett Scott's work wasn't a pretty one but that has definitely been set straight with this book. The promise I saw in her writing has definitely been fulfilled. For a novella to completely work for me it needs certain tropes: friends-to-lovers, troubled marriage, reunited love etc. This one had reunited love and therefore worked in the limits of the small page-count

The banter between hero and heroine again shone through. And Scarlett Scott knows how to crank up the heat in the sex scenes! One thing I missed was some sort of epilogue. It's not that it was needed to complete the HEA but I'm an epilogue-addict and love to see the ‘how are they doing further down the road’-scenes.

SHE LIKES HIM BAD is a short and very enjoyable novella that was written with likeable characters that were fleshed out pretty well for such a short story. Moreover the mix between humor, characterization and heat was well balanced and that's just the way I like 'em.

Favorite Quotes:
Do not, she urged her inner vixen, look at the way those blue jeans fit his lean legs. Do not notice how he’s filled out in all the right places. Or how freakin’ handsome he is as a man rather than the boy you once kissed. And above all do not look at his mouth or you’ll think about…
Too late. Her gaze dropped to those sensual lips that were quirked into a crooked grin. She remembered that grin. She remembered those kisses.

The sexual tension was back. She was incredibly aware of him. She could smell his cologne and it made her want to press her nose to his neck and inhale deeply. Maybe lick his skin.

She had only a matter of seconds to try to talk some sense into her wicked, sex-with-Jackson craving brain.

Damn. What was the protocol for morning kitchen sex? (Jackson)

When he stood, he wanted to say something intelligent. Something to make her melt. “What are you doing here?”
Shit. He raked a hand through his hair. Not exactly setting the world on fire with your charm, are you, Jackson?

She narrowed her eyes. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
“Enjoying Emma Lee Bridges standing half-naked on my doorstep, apologizing to me? Hell yes, I am. I thought the day would never come.”
“I’m not half-naked,” she protested.
He crossed his arms over his chest and grinned. “I’m pretty damn sure I can see your nipples right through that shirt. Lord knows I’ve been thinking about sucking them ever since I opened the door.”

“The man I am today is far more ready to be your man than the boy I was twelve years ago, Emma. Time is a beautiful thing. It makes you stronger, makes you learn.”

September 23, 2011
Rancher Rylie Thorn loves everything about men, but she’s positively phobic about commitment. After growing up in a broken family and witnessing too many failed marriages, Rylie knows "forever" is just not in the cards for her.

Sheriff Clay Wayland has been called in to investigate a rash of crimes in the southeastern corner of Cochise County. But one night when he goes into the field to do some observation, he comes across a sensual woman who’s doing some investigating of her own. Rylie immediately sets his blood on fire and he knows he has to have her. And it isn’t long before Clay begins the job of taming this wildcat and making her his. . .for keeps.

Title: CLAY
Author: Cheyenne McCray
Series: Armed and Dangerous, book 4
Genre: Erotic Romance, Romantic Suspense
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Year of release: 2011, April 12
Format: Tradesize Paperback
Source: Bought via The BookDepository

First line:
Rylie Thorn pulled at her earlobe as she guided her battered ranch pickup into the parking lot of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department.

Memorable Scenes:
- chapter 12 in its entirety > both in heat, plot and emotion this was a crucial and memorable chapter

Rylie Thorn is a rancher and from a broken home and dysfunctional family. She’s a wildcat and determined not to follow in her mother's doormat footsteps. She’s stubborn, take-charge and emotionally distant. Though she’s sexually uninhibited she fears intimacy and doesn't believe in love or marriage.

Clay Wayland is the County’s sheriff and his personality matches his job. He’s commanding and goes after what he wants. In this case he wants Rylie.

First sexually tinted scene between Riley and Clay was a bit weird for me (Rylie let’s a stranger – Clay fondle her to a climax outside while peeping Tom-ing her foreman having sex with 2 women) and I had to suspend disbelief to get over it and enjoy the rest of the romance. And yet I think what keeps me coming back to this series is the scorching heat of the sex scenes. In CLAY, unapologetic and in clear, straight language the hot chemistry between Rylie and Clay set the pages on fire.

The plot, which was not the strong point in this installment, revolved around truck thefts along the border. I was hoping it wasn't going to turn out as predictable as I was suspecting from early on in the book and fortunately it wasn’t too predictable but it wasn’t very thrilling either except for the showdown wrap-up scene. The suspense was just less intense than the steaminess in this book.

Cheyenne McCray's writing reels me in. I don't know what hold this series has over me but even though neither book in the series has blown me away so far, any new book released in it never lingers very long on my Mt. TBR. The minute a new release arrives I put it on the TBR shelf but it keeps calling me, enticing me to start reading it and before I know it, I've cracked the spine and started reading...This series is my crack, I tell you! I just can’t stay away from it.

CLAY is another good addition to this very addictive series. The predictability of the suspense was made up for by the scorching sexual chemistry and hot as hell sexy scenes and I'm ready for the next book in the Armed and Dangerous Series. If I may make a suggestion, NOAH would be a great contender and my pick to continue this series with.

Favorite Quotes:
The little wildcat glared at him. She didn’t spit, but she didn’t kill him either. That had to be a win. After a second or two of stripping him down with those hot eyes, she spun and marched out of the control room.

“Fair’s fair.” Rylie gave him a saucy smile, but inside she was a quivering mass of lust. Every cell in her body screamed with need for this man. Nee to have his naked form against hers, need to taste his skin, and need to see if he fit as perfectly inside as he did outside.

“I hate to break this moment, but you think you could unlock these handcuffs?”
“I don’t know.” He propped himself up on both arms and his lips quirked in a grin. “Kinda like you right where I’ve got you.”
“Oh?” Damn but he made her feel all quivery and gooey inside. “What do I have to do to convince you?”
Clay raised an eyebrow. “Of what?”
“That there’ll be hell to pay if you don’t get these things off me now.”
With a soft laugh he rolled off of her, sliding out and leaving her empty without him. “Now supposing I can’t find the key?”
Rylie glared at him. “Supposing I’m gonna kick your ass, cowboy.”

“You are so dead, Clay Wayland,” Rylie muttered as he climbed another set of stairs and she bounced against his back. “Right after I ride you like a wild bronco, I’m gonna kill you.

September 22, 2011

Aidan York has spent ten years mourning the woman he once loved and lost. He's filled the void in the only way he knows—by distracting himself with wild behavior and scandalous trysts. It's a hollow existence, but it dulls the pain. Until the day he encounters a ghost: the woman he thought drowned at sea, alive and as enchanting as ever. . .


When Kate Hamilton sees the man she once hoped to spend her life with, she is hit with a storm of memories and longing. But though resisting Aidan's passion proves impossible, Kate must try not to love him all over again. For her seemingly quiet London life shields a dangerous secret, one that will catch up to her the moment she lets herself fall. . .

Author: Victoria Dahl
Series: York Family, book 2
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Kensington Zebra
Year of release: 2011, August 1
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Bought via The BookDepository

First line:
"Thank you, Mr. York. It's been a pleasure, sir. A pleasure."

Memorable Scenes:
- the kiss after the chess game > poignant turning point in the book
- Aidan's talk with Jude > the humorful banter that lacked throughout the rest of the book was definitely present in this scene

Kate Hamilton (Katie Tremont - Katherine Gallow, yes Kate has quite some aliases) is the heroine of this second installment in the York Family series. Kate's ordeal has changed her from happy and vivacious to quiet and on guard and definitely wary of men.

The hero is Aidan York, the middle York sibling. Aidan is still grieving the loss of the love of his life and he’s a bit cynical. Honestly I was expecting a more tortured hero in Aidan and in the beginning he seemed to be headed that way but from the moment Kate re-enters his world it felt like he turned into this lovesick puppy and his character lost a bit of its strength.

This book contains a complicated yet beautiful and poignant romance. Aidan was led to believe Kate had drowned at sea while Kate married another man and left for the Far East thinking Aidan had abandoned her. Something tragic happened to send her back to England but she's trying to fend for herself and has not contacted her family. Though some may frown upon Kate for some of the choices she makes, I understood her motivation. However I did think she should've told Aidan sooner about her problem.

The love scenes were beautifully written and quite steamy. They were emotional and made the romance part stand out in the book. The mystery of what happened to Kate in Ceylon was intriguing to say the least. With little and cryptic hints every few chapters the entire story eluded me for a big part of the book but I didn't mind. There was more emphasis on romance than on the mystery and I liked that.

Contrary to her contemporaries and the first York book, Victoria Dahl toned down the humorous note considerably in this book and considering the characters and their romance it fit. This doesn't mean there wasn't any humor at all but it was kept subtle in favor of the intricacy of the romance. I thought this was well done, even if I did miss the laugh-out-loud humor I’ve grown used to by Ms. Dahl.

IT'S ALWAYS BEEN YOU is a lovely historical romance that I read with a wistful smile on my face and a twinge in my heart. Simple but wonderful writing with characters that make you root for them both was mixed with a little mystery and a heartfelt romance.

Favorite Quotes:
Granted, he was no longer grief-stricken and angry. But he could not seem to rid himself of the space in his chest that left his heart knocking hollowly around.

He glanced her way and caught her looking, and he smiled. He smiled, and it was as if there were a lamp inside her and someone had just struck the flame.

“[…] But Katie Tremont is not just some jaded, bored wife. She is the woman you used to love. And she is the woman who never once contacted you in the past decade.”
“I’m well aware of that. You needn’t fear for my heart, brother. It’s no longer tender. I’ve spent years banging it against other women’s backs, as you kindly point out.” (Edward and Aidan)

Kate heard a soft sound of want, knew that is was her own quiet moan, and opened her mouth to him. His tongue glided inside. She felt the shock of it as if she’d never been kissed, as if all those kisses they’d once shared had been an invention of her lovesick brain.

She’d kissed Aidan York, after all.
My God, she’d kissed him. Opened her mouth to him. Rubbed her tongue against his as if she’d never spent a day apart from his body. She was supposed to be a married woman, yet she’d licked at his mouth as if she were starving for it.

September 21, 2011

Today is the last day of my Bandicoot Cove Experience, a feature on the Blog beween August 25th and and September 21st with Previews, ARC-reviews and Guestposts from the authors Vivian Arend, Lexxie Couper and Jess Dee. *sniff*

Yesterday was the release day of Jess Dee's ISLAND IDYLLE, my favorite of the series so far! Click HERE for my review of ISLAND IDYLLE.

Today Jess tells us a little about how it all came to be.
Please help me give Jess a warm welcome and enjoy this last post of the Bandicoot Experience for now...

In the beginning, Viv, Lex and I knew we wanted to write an anthology together… and that’s about all we knew. We had no idea where the anthology would be set, who the characters were, and what the common factors tying the books altogether would be. In order to be productive, we’d arrange chatting times on Yahoo Instant Messenger. The point of these chats? To answer all these questions and brainstorm the anthology.

We’d spend hours just trying to find common times to chat to each other, and then have to pretend to be very focused on the books, when we all really just wanted to have a good chat. Sometimes, to help keep all three of us focused on the writing, we’d even make lists in advance: lists of various issues that needed to be discussed during these chats.

I took some time to browse through the earlier emails we’d written, and came across this one I thought I’d share. It’s an email I sent Lex and Viv, focusing on some questions I believed we’d need to find answers to during a chat. I asked the questions and followed each one up with my opinion (in brackets). Lexxie then returned the email with her responses in bold

On 05/09/2010, at 8:19 PM, Jess Dee wrote:

Right, some things I've been mulling over which we can chat about tomorrow.

1) Where is it set?
(On a tropical island? We won't do a wedding, we can have another central plot.)
I reckon a very small but very exclusive island just off the tropical far north Queensland coastline called Bilby Island

2) Are we going with the hotel theme? (I'm very happy with it.)
I love this theme

3) Who is the central character linking them all? Is it a central character, or just a central theme?
(For eg, is it simply the opening of a new hotel, first weekend in the hotel? Or is it Jane Doe's first hotel opening and she's sent out invites to her nearest and dearest to attend?)
I like central character

4) Is the central character one of our main characters?
I'm thinking the central character isn't one of ours. She's the lynchpin that brings ours together

5) Can I have conversations in my book with your characters, and if so, can I send them through to the owner of that character to write an appropriate dialogue?
(I love the idea of that - if you have any clue what I'm talking about.)
If we don't, I will sulk (and if you don't, I will sulk)

6) Are we going to begin each book at the same time, ie one common scene, but obviously the scene will be viewed in three different ways as it will be in the POV of one of our characters.
(Love this idea)
Oooh, I love love this idea

7) Do we have a Central opening line: eg, "I hereby declare this hotel open."
(love this idea)
By the Power of Greyskull....

8) If one of us wakes up in the middle of the night and feels the need to work on the antho, is it ok to completely ignore her, or yell at her to go back to sleep?
If I'm not asleep, talk/chat/work away :)

(Note from Jess, added for blog: This question was targeted at Viv, who has a ridiculous habit of waking up at obscene hours in the night…and writing.)

10) How much junk food can one consume while working on this antho?
As much as one likes (I will most likely consume copious amounts of tea)

11) How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

12) What's big, white and very dangerous when it falls out a tree?
A fridge.

13) What is the meaning of life?
Forty-two (same as the woodchuck question *grin*)

14) Can you tell I'm totally into this idea and already having loads of fun with it?

15) Do you have questions to throw out?
What’s big, white and blue?

BTW - the answer to no. 12 is a fridge. So maybe we don't actually have to discuss it after all. ;)

And finally - just because I love an idea doesn't mean I'm stuck on it.


So, that was the email with Lex’s answers. (She never did tell me what was big, white and blue!)
A couple hours later Viv’s reply came:

Will answer properly once I'm not lying in bed writing on my itouch. ;)

BUT, I had an extra little idea I wanted to throw at you guys. Q#3-- the girl who is opening the resort and invites her friends along. You KNOW we are going to have people asking about her. It would take a little figuring out, but I'm totally game to write an additional 4k or something and come up with a freebie to add to this set.

Could be G1 shows up in our books occasionally flustered, and everyone chalks it up to opening nerves, but it's really that every time she rounds a corner or hits her room she's being fucked silly by HER two lovers.


Sent from my iPod

Nope, Viv never did respond to the rest of the questions. But that was okay. Because her little email sparked a whole new idea, and Kylie Sullivan’s book, Exotic Indulgence was born.

It’s nice to be sitting here now, on the other end of the journey. All four Bandicoot Cove books have released. I sincerely hope the reader’s journey to Bilby Island and Bandicoot Cove is as fun and satisfying as the trip we took while writing the books!


Island Idyll

Adolescent fantasies can grow into very adult realities.

Bandicoot Cove, Book 4

Sienna James has come to Bandicoot Cove to mourn the end of her eight-year relationship with Ben Cowley. The last person she expects to meet is the star of every one of her high school fantasies.

Joshua Lye is not only as appealing as he was in high school, he reveals she was the main feature in his adolescent wet dreams. As kids they never got it together. But they’re adults now, and there’s nothing keeping them apart.

When Ben arrives at the resort determined to win Sienna back, finding another man in her bed kind of throws a spanner in the works. But he isn’t deterred. Rather than admit defeat, he comes up with an alternative plan: Let Sienna sleep with both men—at the same time. Then she can make an informed decision as to which man she wants.

Sienna shouldn’t want to go through with this shockingly sexy plan, but she does. Desperately. Except after the sexual storm passes, she could have it all…or be left holding an empty heart.

Product Warnings
Contains a suggestion beyond risqué, a solution beyond orgasmic, and two men who know how to play dirty. Really, really dirty.

Buy links: Samhain | Amazon |Barnes & Noble

Vivian Arend | Lexxie Couper | Jess Dee | Bandicoot Cove
Paradise Found | Tropical Sin | Island Idyll | Exotic Indulgence
September 20, 2011
Gone But Not Forgotten

Davy…Connor…Sean… Three brothers who have conquered their demons, but they’ve never forgotten their long lost brother, Kev, whom they believed to be dead. When the McCloud brothers discover Kev is alive, they won’t rest until they find him...

Beaten and tortured almost to death, Kev Larsen was found eighteen years earlier in a warehouse alley. He survived his brutal ordeal, but his memories before that night were completely erased. When he nearly dies from trying to save someone from drowning, the brain surgery he has to save his life triggers fragmented, terrifying memories. With only these memories and the name of his torturer to guide him, Kev is determined to unlock the secrets to his past.

Edie Parrish has always been good at not letting anyone get too close to her. If someone were to learn of her unusual gift, her life would be immediately jeopardized. But when Kev Larsen discovers who she really is, Edie has only one choice: to trust him. And soon, Edie can’t resist her consuming desire for him—even though she knows she’ll have to pay a price for it.

Now Kev and Edie must race against time and place their faith in each other to stop a deadly legacy...

Author: Shannon McKenna
Series: McCloud Brothers, book 7
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Erotic Romance
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Year of release: 2010, June 1
Format: 1st Edition Hardcover
Source: Received a copy of the book from the publisher for review

First line:
I am f#cked. (chose to go with first line of chapter 1 instead of flashback-ish prologue)

Memorable Scene:
- The scene in the motel when Edie and Kev are on the run from the bad guys > impressive in every way and the epitome of what I love about McKenna's writing

I need to state upfront that it took me three starts and Kev and Edie to finally get on one page together and meet for me to finally be hooked by this 7th installment of the McCloud Brothers series but when I got there I was totally and utterly hooked. And I was glad I didn’t give up on it in those first 50-100 pages.

Kev(in)McCloud aka Kev Larsen is a daredevil. He’s fearless, arrogant and masterful. Through his characterization and the writing I could feel his despair to remember who he was and all the stuff from his past. There were moments where I thought Kev was a bit too obsessed and going too fast with Edie but these moments were scarce and were also immediately negated by the fact that Kevin would acknowledge (through internal thoughts) the craziness of his feelings and the speed they came about. However that didn’t take away that sometimes I wanted him to be a bit less crazy with his obsession.

Edie Parrish is a graphic novel artist. She’s quiet, shy, artistic, creative and a little tongue-tied. She has a special psychic gift, brought on by the cognitive enhancement experiments done on her in her youth. Edie was awesome. I found her a much stronger heroine that most other heroines in this series and a perfect match for Kev. She developed as a character throughout the first part of the story as she became more mouthy, which IMO was triggered by Kev. I adored the bits where she'd go off on him and yell at him, argue with him and challenge him.

Both Kev and Edie have their flaws but those are also what make them strong and memorable characters that totally fit the rest of this book.

The secondary characters were a mix of old familiar ones (of course Kev’s family members and their spouses) and new intriguing ones like Kev’s adoptive family, especially Bruno but I’ll get back to him later, and Alex Aaro whom I hope will get his own story too.
So about Bruno…He immediately caught my eye as Kev’s foster brother and at one point in the book I was really afraid that McKenna was going to kill him off in the book. Luckily she didn’t because I learned that he’s the hero in the next McKenna book (BLOOD AND FIRE) that’s coming soon. YAY!

Oh almost forgot about another secondary character that really needs a mention: Tam!! It’s known that she is my favorite female in this series. I unapologetically confess my love for her in all the reviews of the McCLoud Brothers books and in FADE TO MIDNIGHT she rocked it even harder. I loved her in this book. LOVED! I also wish I could quote pages 432 and 433 in their entirety to show exactly what I love about her and Shannon McKenna's writing and characterization. But I cannot do that because it would be too extensive and also it would be too spoiler-y. So all I can say is, if you have the book and plan to read it, pay attention to pages 432 and 433.

Shannon McKenna's villains are evil and twisted geniuses and the ones in FADE TO MIDNIGHT fit the bill perfectly. The female villain is depraved too and she really gave me the shivers...and not in a good way. As usual when reading McKenna's villains I was shivering in horror yet undeniably fascinated. The neuroscience stuff went a little above my head at times but as I really enjoyed the suspense and romance it didn't really bother me and I didn't go out of my way to try and understand or make sense of it all.

The way McKenna writes the suspense plots in this series is awesome. Not only the ones in the individual books but also the ongoing overall plot of Kev's disappearance that was there in some way or form in all the books, with a (logically) more in depth look in Sean's book (EDGE OF MIDNIGHT). They are all brilliantly set up. Some (many?) may find McKenna's suspense (and romance) over the top and too much but I love it. In FADE TO MIDNIGHT, like in all the other McCloud books I gobbled it up and relished in the intense reading experience.

The suspense in FADE TO MIDNIGHT, even though I was privy to much more stuff than the characters, still was nail-biting and kept me on the edge of my seat as I was anxiously looking forward to the moment where everything would come together and the villains would get what was coming to them.

FADE TO MIDNIGHT was emotional, humorous and hot. With its intense hero, amazing heroine, awesome secondary characters, heinous villains and excellent suspense it fit the rest of the books in the series perfectly and I’m sad to see the end of this story arc in the series which I enjoyed to the fullest ever since reading the first sentence of BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.

Favorite Quotes:
She reached back, struggling with the fastenings of her shabby white bra. Wishing she had a seductive scrap of silk and lace on. At least the boobs themselves were acceptable, as boobs went. “Who said anything about helping?” She flung the bra onto the sweater, chest out, shoulders back. Displaying herself. Ta da. Take that buddy. Tit power.

“Thank you,” she replied. Her face was so hot, she felt feverish. “The compliments are just super-nice, and I appreciate you being so sweet, but the buildup is driving me crazy. If you don’t kiss me now, I will grab a fork and stab you with it. Or else faint from lack of oxygen.
His laugh rang out, loud and happy. Then he seized her.
The kiss sprang into being fully formed. No lead in, no awkward fumbling, no slow, graceful merging. Just all the sudden, they were twined together as if they has always been, locked into a greedy, devouring clinch like they were starving to get inside each other.

She smiled, her eyes flashing timidly down to his tireless tentpole of a dick. “Are you, ah, cold?
He was a blast furnace. His dick was going to be in a state of permanent inflammation, now that it knew that Edie Parrish existed.

He’d never dreamed how deep it could cut. How hot it could burn. He was wide open to her now. She could slide those slender, cool fingers in between his ribs, grab his heart, and squeeze it out of existence. And he didn’t care. He’d found his angel, She was his. Or more precisely, he was hers. And he was cooked.

Kev dragged her up onto his lap and hugged her. Tears ran down her face, and she was completely unembarrassed. It was good, it was fine. It was wonderful. The she kissed his face, and found it wet.
Her heart opened so wide, she thought it would break, become something she never knew a heart could be. Vast and pure and fearless.

“Your brother catered a surprise meal for us?”
He shrugged. “He desperately wants to get me laid. He thinks that getting laid is the solution to any man’s problems. Common cold? Get laid. Ingrown hairs? Get laid. Pursued by an angry billionaire? Get laid.”

He lay there afterward, shaking. Every time they made love, he felt more naked. More out of control. Carrying on like a crazed barbarian warlord, waving his dick around like a club. But it was all bullshit. The power dynamic between them was brutally clear.
He was on his knees to her. She owned his ass.

“You’re aware of what this will cost me, right? Kev will redesign my skeleton. I’ll be short a head, or missing a couple of limbs the next time you see me. And I loved being bilaterally symmetrical (Bruno to Edie)

September 19, 2011
This pen-ultimate post starts the wrap-up of my Bandicoot Cove Experience (a feature on the Blog beween August 19th and and September 21st with Previews, ARC-reviews and Guestposts from the authors Vivian Arend, Lexxie Couper and Jess Dee). I am sad to see this experience coming to an end (for now). I had a blast reading the books and hosting the authors with their posts. Three awesome authors, each in their own way, with their own writing styles and personalities. I feel honored to have been given this opportunity!

Today marks the day of the last ARC-Review and boy did this book blow me away. Completely and unexpectedly Jess Dee gave me one of my all-time favorite ménage-reads so far and one of my favorite reads this year!

Coming up next:
  • Jess Dee’s Guestpost – Wednesday September 21st

Adolescent fantasies can grow into very adult realities.

Sienna James has come to Bandicoot Cove to mourn the end of her eight-year relationship with Ben Cowley. The last person she expects to meet is the star of every one of her high school fantasies.

Joshua Lye is not only as appealing as he was in high school, he reveals she was the main feature in his adolescent wet dreams. As kids they never got it together. But they’re adults now, and there’s nothing keeping them apart.

When Ben arrives at the resort determined to win Sienna back, finding another man in her bed kind of throws a spanner in the works. But he isn’t deterred. Rather than admit defeat, he comes up with an alternative plan: Let Sienna sleep with both men—at the same time. Then she can make an informed decision as to which man she wants.

Sienna shouldn’t want to go through with this shockingly sexy plan, but she does. Desperately. Except after the sexual storm passes, she could have it all…or be left holding an empty heart.

Warning: Contains a suggestion beyond risqué, a solution beyond orgasmic, and two men who know how to play dirty. Really, really dirty.

Author: Jess Dee
Series: Bandicoot Cove, book 4
Genre: Erotic Romance, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Year of release: 2011, September 20
Format: eBook
Source: received an e-ARC from the author for review

First line:
Sienna James drew her arm back, took aim and flung a flattish oyster-colored shell forward with as much gusto as she could manage.

Memorable Scenes:
- Josh and Sienna meeting for the first time after 12 years > sparks flew in that short delicious scene
- Ben's entrance scene > Wow! That was some first impression
- the scene that followed Ben's entrance > heart-wrenching

A relationship of eight years gone wrong, a high school crush and adolescent fantasies left unfulfilled and a romantic luxurious resort with one man happy to finally discover if the real thing is as good as the fantasy and another man desperate enough to save his relationship by suggesting something risky. The woman looking for a hot holiday fling is in for some good and dirty times. The main characters in this smokin’ hot 4th installment of the Bandicoot Cove series are Sienna James, Joshua Lye and Ben Cowley.

Sienna is friends with Kylie, the resort’s manager and has accepted the invitation to the soft opening without hesitation. Sienna is a determined, bold and sexually inhibited woman who is just coming out of a long-term relationship and ready to dive into the dating-pool again.

Her first encounter with a man after leaving her ex is Joshua, who happens to be the resort’s IT-guy. But Joshua is no stranger. They went to high school together and they had mutual crushes on which they never acted. Joshua has a great sense of humor, he’s direct, a fighter and he’s gentle and considerate but absolutely no pushover.

But if Sienna thought Ben was going stand back and accept her leaving him without a fight, she has another think coming because Ben decided to follow her to the resort and is willing to go to extremes to get her back. Even allowing another man in their bedroom. Ben is mercurial to say the least. He’s a bit forceful yet not domineering. He is commanding, raw and a strategist.

At some point I was hoping Sienna would make Ben grovel more than the little effort he was making before she considered taking him back. It was as if she'd forgotten he was more committed to his career than to their relationship of 8 years. And the minute I was thinking that about Sienna she did me proud and reminded Ben exactly why she'd left him in the first place. Love it when an author does that!

The sexual chemistry between Sienna and the two men was off the charts. And the dynamics between the two men "fighting" over Sienna's affection, challenging each other, egging each other on, was the icing on the cake. It was intense and super-hot. And a very different kind of ménage compared to the themes in the other books of the series. This is what made this book stand out in the series and made it the best one! I will elaborate later in this review why without spoiling, which is very hard

Jess Dee's writing is just mesmerizing. It flows so smoothly and paints vivid images in your mind. It oozes wit and heat with a very down-to-earth vibe to it. The sex scenes are carnal, explicit and dirty in the best sense of the word. They are exquisitely written and I may have found another author trying to kill me with overheating while reading her sex scenes. Thanks, Jess!

I spent a great part of the book wondering if Sienna was going to have to choose between Ben and Josh and if so, who would she choose? In the end an emotional twist that I was expecting and yet dreading made it seem Sienna didn't have to choose at all and I thought that was that. But no, Jess Dee threw a final but major twist at me (one I was secretly hoping for) and she totally gave me what I wanted, taking that uniqueness of her ménage story to an even higher level. Not to mention making me cry my eyes out at the same time.

On top of that Jess also gave me the ending I wanted though I wasn't expecting it because it was not the safe, PC (romance-wise) path to take. So I applaud her for taking it anyway and giving me this awesome reading experience.

ISLAND IDYLLE is a more than worthy addition to the Bandicoot Cove series. With its own unique approach to the ménage theme it was definitely my favorite of the 4 books so far. It’s a perfect combination of explicit, luscious eroticism, heartbreaking emotions and awesome writing skills. It was an awesome, almost perfect, story that just checked all the right boxes with me. It moved me to tears, it aroused me to combustion and it resonated deeply, even after having finished reading it!

I hope the wait for the next Bandicoot Cove book won't take very long as I'm already in withdrawal.

Favorite Quotes:
“Josh?” she asked tentatively.
He nodded. “In the flesh.”
And, oh, dear Lord, what flesh it was. If the teenage Josh had made her blush like a fool, the very adult version made every nerve ending stand to attention. At sixteen, he’d been cute. At thirty, he was full-blown sex on a stick.

He looked downright lickable. Sienna could only thank her lucky stars the waitress arrived with her daiquiri at that moment. Otherwise, she would, without a doubt, have licked him.
Not all over. Just a little sample of his neck. And maybe his lips. And, if she could just get that T-shirt out of the way, then maybe a nipple as well.

Holy f#ck! She’d parted her lips for him, inviting his tongue in, leaving the hot, sweet cavern of her mouth open to his exploration.
Her taste hit him with the force of a cannonball, smashing into his chest, winding him. Sweet and tangy, like strawberries and rum. And salty, like the sea air. Innocence, mischief and…sadness, all rolled into one.

Did he want her sympathy? Tough! He wasn’t about to find it here. “Whose fault is that?” She didn’t wait for his reply. “How the hell do you think I felt all those times you had to work? All those times I pleaded with you to spend a little time together, and you said no? You think the loneliness wasn’t unbearable? You think it didn’t break my heart?” Uh-uh. Too subtle. “You think you didn’t break my heart?” Her hand shook as she pointed at him, jabbing his chest with her finger. “ You broke us. You broke you and me. If you’re feeling a little lonely now, there’s only one person to blame.”
Ben’s groan was guttural. “You’re right. About everything. I fucked up. I broke us. And I was too damn blind to understand it at the time.” He rapped his chest. “It was my fault.”

“Walk away, princess,” he whispered. “If you can.”
She shook her head, but before words could form in her mouth, telling him she couldn’t and she didn’t want to, hands fastened around her shoulders and twirled her around, out of Josh’s grasp.
“She doesn’t have to walk,” Ben snapped at Josh. “I’ll take her.”
And take her he did, straight into another kiss, just as forceful and just as exquisite as Josh’s.

“Kiss him,” Josh said in her ear. “Enjoy his mouth. But when you come, know who gave you this orgasm, because this time it won’t be your fiancé.”
O-orgasm? This time? What the—?
Before the thought could solidify, Ben tore his mouth from Sienna’s. “Touch her—and die!”

Watching Sienna kiss Ben had been a huge, freaking turn-on.
It shouldn’t have been. It should have made his c#ck shrivel up and die. It should have made him want her less. It hadn’t.

“That’s assuming I want to have a threesome with you,” Josh said, just as dangerously as before.
Screw the gentleman act. “Mate, you had your dick buried against my fiancée’s naked #ss, while she kissed me . You and I both know that had Sienna given you the okay, you would have buried it inside her #ss without a second thought. So don’t feed me your crap about me and threesomes.”

“Tell us what you want. You’re in control, baby. Lead us.”
Josh nodded, murmuring in her ear. “I’ll follow wherever you take us.”
The only trouble with their request was that it meant Sienna had to talk, and since she was a raging mass of hormones, a multi-pleasured sack of bones, speech was not all that easy.

“You created the magic, [SPOILER]. Not him. It sparked the second I saw you by the pool and exploded into something undeniable when we made love yesterday afternoon. [SPOILER] got caught up in our magic. Yours and mine. That’s why the sex was so good. It wasn’t about him, it was about us.”

Her heart belonged to him completely. Him, and no one else. And his mouth told her his heart belonged to her—and no one else. Which was a damn good thing, because Sienna was just as selfish as [SPOILER]. She too refused to share.

Buy links: Samhain | Amazon |Barnes & Noble

Vivian Arend | Lexxie Couper | Jess Dee | Bandicoot Cove
Paradise Found | Tropical Sin | Island Idyll | Exotic Indulgence

September 18, 2011
The tougher they are, the harder they fall…

Professional mercenary Dare Macintosh lives by one hard and fast rule: business should never be personal. If a cause appeals to him and the price is right, he'll take the mission he's offered. But then the lovely Molly Alexander asks him to help her track down the men who'd had her kidnapped—and for the first time, Dare's tempted to combine work with pleasure.

Fiercely independent, Molly vows to trust no one until she's uncovered the truth. Could the enemy be her powerful, estranged father? The ex-fiancé who still holds a grudge? Or the not-so-shy fan of her bestselling novels? As the danger heats up around them, the only anchor Molly has is Dare himself. But what she feels for him just might be the most frightening thing of all…

Author: Lori Foster
Series: Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor, book 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Publisher: HQN Books
Year of release: 2011, April 26
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Requested e-ARC from publisher via NetGalley

First line:
Midnight came and went with only the quiet buzz of meager traffic along the beach.

Memorable Scenes:
- Dare confronting Molly's dad about her disappearance and rescue > tough, protective and commanding Dare stole my heart right there
- scene at the lake when Molly decides she'll make her feelings for him known to Dare > memorable for 2 reasons:
1. glimpse of how I wanted Molly to be throughout the book
2. Hot make-out scene
- bath tub scene > carnal, intense and hot! Dare's sexual commands made me weak in the knees. Thank you for this scene Ms Foster!

When Dare Macintosh rescues Molly Alexander after being kidnapped and held prisoner in Mexico, she decides to hire him as a bodyguard while she tries to find out who had her kidnapped and why.

Dare is a mercenary. He’s honorable, down-to-earth and caring and sweet despite his gruffness. Molly is an author of suspense novels. She’s full of bravado, impatient and proud. Molly was a bit harder for me to get a grip on than Dare. I cannot say I liked or disliked her, I just can’t make up my mind because of some inconsistencies in her characterization.

I thought it was a bit strange that with the sisterly bond described in the anthology story READY, SET, JETT Molly doesn't even think about contacting her sister first thing to let her know she's okay. And even when Dare directly asks about that, she comes up with some crap explanation. This is one of the things about Molly that just didn't mesh with the set-up created in the anthology story. And there was more... Also, the picture you get from Molly through Dare's eyes just doesn't match with the actions and characterization of Molly herself.

I liked both the romance and the suspense parts of the book. The romance was well-written and was one of the elements that prevented me from putting the book down once I got reading. The wait for the sexy scenes took a while as the first full-out sex scene appears about halfway through, but once it came they were well worth waiting for.

There aren’t many secondary characters as the secondary cast consists only of a few people close Dare and Molly. This gave the book a clear and crisp feel and it wasn’t cluttered with a lot of secondary characters I had to keep track of. I loved Chris, Dare's PA and good friend. He was so full of dry wit and sarcasm I couldn't help but love him. The chapters in his POV were as surprising as they were welcome.

With the suspense I was wondering at first what angle was going to be taken with the plot as it started at a point in the story I was expecting much later in the book. Once the suspense plot got going I kept guessing who could've been responsible for Molly's abduction. And when I found out who was behind it, though I wasn’t quite sure on the motives at first, it quickly became obvious.
Despite the predictability of the suspense I really liked the concluding scenes and the conclusion of the plot. They were Action-packed and thrilling!

Lori Foster has an agreeable writing style that reads very easily and even if I had some issues with Molly's character I enjoyed the rest of the story and just flew through it. The bit about the disgruntled readers did come across as preachy and I found it didn't fit into that scene. That being said as I'm not familiar with the situation or book referred to in the book I can let it pass by me just remarking that I didn't understand the need for this particular scene/dialogue in the book as far as the plot was concerned.

Enjoyed this first installment of the Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor series, despite the few issues I had with it. The romance was awesome, the suspense was good though a little predictable, especially towards the end but I'm very happy I've got the next two books of this series on my reading pile!

Favorite Quotes:
He opened his mouth and treated her to a tantalizing love bite that sent liquid sensation throughout her whole body. Near her ear, he whispered, " Now, when you think of biting, you think of me, okay."

His jaw hardened. "Push me, and we'll be talking about it on the bed, with me inside you and to hell with what your sister hears."

September 17, 2011

A perpetual wallflower destined for spinsterhood, Lady Elaine Warren is resigned to her position in society. So when Evan Carlton, the powerful, popular Earl of Westfeld, singles her out upon his return to England, she knows what it means. Her former tormenter is up to his old tricks, and she’s his intended victim. This time, though, the earl is going to discover that wallflowers can fight back.

Evan has come to regret his cruel, callow past. At first, he only wants to make up for past wrongs. But when Elaine throws his initial apology in his face, he finds himself wanting more. And this time, what torments him might be love…

Author: Courtney Milan
Series: Connected to Turners series, book 1.5
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Self-Published
Year of release: 2011, May 30
Format: eBook
Source: Won it in a Twitter giveaway done by Jane (Dear Author)

First line:
It had been ten years since Evan Carlton, Earl of Westfeld, last entered a ballroom.

Memorable Scenes:
- Evan's public apology to Elaine > moving and beautiful

UNLOCKED can quickly be summarized in: a house party, a remorseful man, a resilient woman with a steel spine, oblivious mother/parents and mean-spirited family members. Especially the last ones really got to me. I did not like Diana (Evan’s cousin) at all in UNVEILED and that didn't change in this book, not even the attempt to redeem at the end her made me like her. This being said not even my dislike of Diana could ruin this story for me. I love, love, love how Courtney Milan creates magic with her characters.

UNLOCKED is an excellently written, character- and emotion-driven, story that shows how bullying and ridiculing people can destroy them unless they find the strength in themselves to overcome it. UNLOCKED is a perfect mix of characterization, emotion and romance and despite being a novella it had the feel of a well-rounded full-length novel. I’m in love with this series!

Favorite Quotes:
Cold gathered in her hands and a knot formed in the pit of her stomach. She wanted to turn on her heel and run. But she’d realized long ago that running was the worst thing she could do. Deer and rabbits ran, and the sight of their hindquarters usually only spurred the dogs to the hunt.

He had always had deceptively compelling eyes—dark and fathomless. She felt as if she might glimpse hidden secrets if only she peered into those depths. He looked as if he were about to reveal some extraordinary truth, one that would explain everything. An illusion, that. He was nothing more than a snake who could hold her spellbound in his gaze.

Elaine knew her laugh was awful: high-pitched and so loud that people turned to stare at her. When she laughed, she snorted in the most indelicate manner. Her laugh had been the cause of their torment all those years ago. And so when Elaine laughed without holding back, she sent them a message.
You cannot break me. You cannot hurt me. You cannot even make me notice you.

She had every reason to think ill of him. Yet, for all that, some errant corner of his mind paid avid attention to the pale pink ribbon threaded through the neckline of her gown. He couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if he were to pull on it. Would the gown stay up, or…
God. Ten minutes in her company and he was fantasizing about her breasts again.

“I think,” he said to her on this evening, his voice barely audible over the roar of the crowd at the soirée, “that your seamstress needs a new palette.”
A year ago she’d have bristled, hearing an implied insult. Today she smiled at him indulgently. “Why ever is that? Just because I happen to like pink doesn’t mean you must wear it.”
“That wasn’t why.” He grinned. “Although I’ll have you know that I turn out very nicely in pink. And purple. Any man can don white and black. It takes a truly masculine fellow to manage lavender.”

He was talking about friendship, but the way he looked at her… She would crackle like fire if he touched her.

“I’ll be your friend in daylight. I’ll treat you as a comrade in every gas-lit ballroom. But alone, under moonlight, I’ll not pretend that I want you for anything but mine.” (Evan)

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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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