October 31, 2011
From national bestselling author Lauren Dane comes a white-hot new series of a dangerous family legacy, and sensual paranormal passions played to the death on the knife-edge of darkness…

Meriel Owen, next in line to control the largest organization of witches in the country, is asked to investigate the owner of a notorious club reportedly siphoning magic from the font of the Clan. It’s a direct violation of the Clan Code of Conduct, but one look at Dominic Bright and Meriel’s willing to make a deal. One taste of the sexually feral outlaw witch, and she’s eager to go further: he’s her bond mate, a legal conduit into the world of Clan witches and their magic.

Playing by the rules isn’t Dominic’s style, but bonding with Meriel—night after explosive night—is. However, Meriel has unwittingly invited someone else into her world: Dominic’s mother, a dangerous and poisonously influential magic addict whose lust for death and power corrupts all she touches. Now her shadow is closing in on Meriel, her Clan, and the man Meriel loves, and it’s casting them all into the inescapable heart of darkness.

Author: Lauren Dane
Series: Bound by Magick, book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year of release: 2011, November 1
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Won an ARC at author’s Blog

First line: Meriel sat, taking notes as her mother spoke from the head of the table.

Memorable Scenes:
- Dominic apologizing to Meriel after he shut her out when he found out his true heritage > very moving and first time I saw the vulnerability that was lurking beneath Meriel's tough exterior.

Meriel Owen is the witch next in line to lead the Owen Clan, the crown princess so to speak. She is shrewd, compassionate, stubborn and up-front. But she’s also powerful and perceptive. She says what she thinks and though she may have a soft and compassionate side, when necessary she can be tough as nails.

Dominic Bright is an outclan witch who likes to play on the edge. He’s bold, rebellious, cocky and self-sufficient. He can also be a bit bossy and has enough self-assurance to pull of arrogant without going over the top.

The chemistry between Meriel and Dominic is scorching and tantalizing. From the moment they met on the page the sparks flew between them. I really liked the dry, subtle humor of both Meriel and Dominic, which made their dialogues interesting and entertaining to say the least.

Some interesting secondary characters are introduced in this first installment of the series. Some of these characters I’m sure will definitely have their own books further along in the series, others are already at the place where they form a secondary supporting cast for the main couple in HEART OF DARKNESS but also those in future books.

HEART OF DARKNESS wasn’t all about the romance. It also had some good world-building, it was not too complex but still very intriguing. To me, a reader who is not into too heavy world-building and likes her paranormal romances focused on the romance with the paranormal lightly weaved into it, HEART OF DARKNESS was a great read.

However I can imagine that readers who like their PNR and UF dark, will find this one too light for their taste. What I also loved about the plot part of HEART OF DARKNESS is that the overall main plot will presumably span several books in this series but this first book definitely had its own rounded plot-arc that will have its place in the overall plot. I really liked how the plot was set up and executed in this first installment.

I like that no matter what genre Lauren Dane books I read, they always have this distinctive recognizable style I like. With HEART OF DARKNESS it was no different. Her straightforward, direct and unapologetic writing appeals to me in both her contemporary and paranormal settings. I loved the vibe of this book. It had something laid-back and easy about it, but was still exciting, intriguing and compelling.

What I liked most in HEART OF DARKNESS was the chemistry between Dominic and Meriel, which led to awesome dialogues and some steamy love scenes . Combined with good, clear and not too descriptive world-building and the great characterization of both Meriel and Dominic I just loved reading this book and I look forward to whatever else Lauren Dane has to offer in this series.

Favorite Quotes:
Dominic Bright in the flesh was a punch to the gut. A sensory wallop of total and unbelievable hotness.

She continued her approach, steadying legs that may have buckled had she been a lesser woman, stopping finally when her thighs touched the table. The scent of his magick hung about him like a heavy cloak. And fed her like she’d been starving.
“Mr. Bright, you’ve been a very naughty boy.”
“So I’ve been told a time or two. I take it you’re Clan Owen here to spank me.”

She was everything all at once but he never felt as if he’d lost part of himself. Just more of something else added to that. She hadn’t made him whole, she’d simply snapped all the missing pieces together and in doing so he was whole.

This was part of what they were together. Meriel made his blood sing, made his magick rise, made him hard and short of breath.
This was everything.

October 28, 2011

Forty-something divorcée Cate Roberts was always a pushover when it came to her little sister, but agreeing to pose for the cover of Zoe’s romance novel might be taking it too far. Especially when she’s confronted with the male lead, Bo Gaddis. It’s a good thing that Bo is gay, and much too young for her, because Cate could easily see herself falling for the embodiment of every romance lover’s dream man.

Bo never renounced the rumor that he was gay. In fact, it helped his career, and helped him stick to his strict rule about sleeping with his co-model. That’s about to be tested though, because Cate is everything he wanted in a woman. If only he can convince her that age isn’t a factor, and he’s not only straight, but very attracted to her.

Author: Olivia Brynn
Series: standalone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Self-Published
Year of release: 2011, June 22
Format: eBook
Source: Received a copy from the author for review

First line:
Cate groaned into the phone.

Memorable Scenes:
- the photoshoot > hot-hot-hot with awesome sexual tension

COVER STORY is a very short story (56 pages) but it was an example of great things that come in small packages. I loved Cate and Bo, I loved the plot (shooting a romance novel cover), I loved Olivia Brynn's easy, fast-paced, clean and crisp writing and the trope (cougar) is one of my favorites too!

My first taste of Olivia Brynn's work, though short, was definitely a blast. I was never that interested in the covers but this book might have made me perk up and pay more attention to them now. And Olivia, any time you want to write a story on Keith, I’ll run to get and read it ;)

Favorite Quotes:
"We're going to get pretty intimate in the next few hours." He raised one eyebrow. "I don't like to get naked with a complete stranger."
Keith snorted. "Liar. You'd take your clothes off to order a pizza."
"No one's talking to you."

Bo laughed. "Keith likes the blonde bombshell beach babes."
"Not anymore." Keith pulled the tie out of his hair and shook it loose. "I've switched to brunette bombshells. They don't break your heart."
Keith grinned. "My body is made to please, but my heart is off limits. That's why it's still intact."

"Now, we'll start by getting used to me being close to you. Try touching me."
She raised both hands to cover the dark circles of his nipples. Hot. His skin was so warm. She curled her fingers, denting the smooth flesh of his pecs.
"That's right," he growled. "Learn me. Don't be shy. Nothing is off limits to you."

If his heart didn't slow down, he'd probably have a stroke, and his palms were sweating like a pre-teen at his first dance. For the first time, he'd forgotten his role. Gay model. Women are more comfortable when at their most vulnerable, when the stranger manhandling them is gay. Less pressure. Less fear. He knew that. He'd come to terms with it as part of the job. Ironically, he'd put himself in a closet for these women, but fighting attraction had never been so damn hard.

"I don't know what you did to me, but I don't think I can walk out of this room without tasting your mouth." (Bo)

Everything about Bo assaulted her senses to the point of infusing her with an electric jolt of need.

October 26, 2011

It was meant to be a one-night stand. One night of passion. Scorching hot. Then Beth Cantrell and Eric Donovan were supposed to go their separate ways. That’s the only reason he lied about his name, telling her he was really his wild younger brother. Hiding his own identity as the conservative Donovan. The “good” one.

But passion has its own logic, and Eric finds he cannot forget the sable-haired beauty with whom he shared one night of passion. When Beth discovers that Eric has lied, however, she knows he cannot be trusted. Her mind tells her to forget the blue-eyed charmer. If only every fiber of her being did not burn to call him back.

Author: Victoria Dahl
Series: Donovan Brothers Brewery, book 3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: HQN Books
Year of release: 2011, October 25
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Requested an e-ARC for review from publisher through NetGalley

First line:
Beth Cantrell hadn't thought about him in almost six months.

Memorable Scenes:
- Cairo and Beth's 'wax talk' > priceless
- scene in the entryway of Beth's house after drinking wine with Beth's dad > OMG beyond hot

Beth Cantrell is the manager of erotic boutique the White Orchid. Even though she has this exciting job she thinks of herself as neither cool nor hip or spunky She is self-concious and doesn’t want to be seen as a novelty or held to other people’s standards or expectations.

Eric Donovan was an interesting character. He is serious, intense and quiet. Controlfreak is an understatement when it comes to describing him and he hates being wrong or ashamed. Eric was a complex character for me. I never really disliked him, but I did not approve how he treated his siblings in their books and in his own book, definitely in the beginning I thought he didn't own up to what he'd done...

However I did understand where he was coming from. He felt like he had to work extra hard to prove himself and to be the parent to his siblings, always setting the right example and when the opportunity arose to be a little wild and wicked albeit under the assumption of his brother's name and reputation he thought it wouldn't hurt. He's also pretty quick on drawing conclusions and accusing his siblings of stuff without giving them the benefit of the doubt. Not a fine trait to be honest. As I said, Eric was a complex character because on one page I'd have the urge to smack him and on the other I would feel sorry for him and sympathize.

I read the anthology story in THE GUY NEXT DOOR where Eric and Beth's story started so I was waiting for the confrontation when Beth found out Eric had lied to her. And it was awesome. I loved how stunned Eric was when he realized he was found out and Beth's fury of having been lied to. Sparks flew in that scene and I was looking forward to how this was going to pan out. However in the first part of the book I felt there was more attention given to the sibling bickering and drama because of Eric and Jamie's not so good relationship than there was for Beth and Eric's romance.

And man, as rude and condescending as Eric was in BAD BOYS DO, Jamie was obnoxious and bratty in REAL MEN WILL, especially in the first part of the book.

Though I liked this book better than Tessa’s book I didn’t like it as much as I did Jamie’s. Once again I missed the humor, the spark that makes Victoria Dahl's books stand out to me from other contemporary romances. It really wasn’t a bad book and it's well-written as Victoria Dahl knows her brewery/hospitality stuff and the sexy times are hot but when you don't mesh with the characters and you miss the spunky humorous vibe, like me, it still misses the mark a bit.

Favorite Quotes:
[…] she suddenly felt as if she’d swallowed a heart that was way too big for her chest. She wanted him to touch her so she could turn to him. At the same time she wanted to edje around him and run away.

She knew from experience that a first kiss said a lot about how a man would perform in bed. For example, that guy two years ago who’d immediately thrust his tongue down her throat…that had been his level of restraint and subtlety during sex, as well. Foreplay had been something along the lines of “Brace yourself, I’m coming in!”

Eric swallowed hard. “My office is this way.” He gestured toward the hallway and she glared at his hand as if she wanted to snap it off.
“We might want to stay out here. Whoever you are, you’re less likely to end up dead if there are witnesses.”

He tried to think of something witty to say. Or something sexy. Or just a few words that might make sense when strung together. But his brain had gone into Neanderthal mode at the husky appreciation in her voice.

October 24, 2011

The scream Lena Riddle hears in the woods behind her house is enough to curdle her blood—she has no doubt that a woman is in real danger. Unfortunately, with no physical evidence, the local law officers in small-town Ash, Kentucky, dismiss her claim. But Lena knows what she heard—and it leaves her filled with fear and frustration.

Ezra King is on leave from the state police, but he can’t escape the guilty memories that haunt his dreams. When he sees Lena, he is immediately drawn to her. He aches to touch her—to be touched by her—but is he too burdened by his tragic past to get close? When Ezra hears her story of an unknown woman’s screams, his instincts tell him that Lena’s life is also at risk—and his desire to protect her is as fierce as his need to possess her.

Author: Shiloh Walker
Series: Ash Trilogy, book 1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Year of release: 2011, October 25
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Received a digital ARC from author for review

First line:
Her name was Carly Watson. The final hours of her life were brutal.

Memorable Scenes:
- Lena and Ezra's first love scene > awesome, awesome scene!
- Ezra's declaration of love > awesome! Not some sappy all-of-a-sudden-in-the-middle-of-nookie epiphany but a heartfelt, almost involuntary, spontaneous outburst
- the stuff that happened after Hope and Lena went shopping > OMG OMG OMG!

Lena Riddle, chef at Running Brook Inn. She lost her eye-sight but despite her blindness she is perfectly able to take care of herself. She’s confident, outspoken and quick-tempered.

Ezra King is a police detective on leave due to an injury on the job. His past involves being betrayed by a woman he loved and trusted both personally and on the job. This leaves him guilt-ridden and untrusting of women. He’s sharp and direct.

I loved the chemistry between Lena and Ezra. It was hot but still had this laid-back ease about it. That is, until the first love scene...everything they (especially Ezra) were holding back came out full-force and made it a memorable scene. The romance was perfect! The love scenes were sizzling hot and scorching. Ezra was a (dirty) talker and he and Lena were perfectly balanced and matched. What more could I want?

As is usual in romantic suspense there are a lot of secondary character introductions and quite some walk-ons and mentions. I wondered how many of them will survive to appear or star in future books. While reading and getting introduced to these intriguing characters I kept wondering how it all fit together because I just knew Ms. Walker wasn't introducing these secondary characters and giving them POVs just for the fun of it.

I really liked how Shiloh Walker inserted the multiple men into Lena and Hope’s lives. Lena had Ezra, Law and Remy. Hope had Remy and Law, though Law was more protective in a friendship kind of way than really smitten with her. I definitely liked how Ezra and Law were circling around each other, scoping each other out while vying for the same woman but again Ms. Walker did an awesome job of keeping it all focused on the main romance.

The first page immediately grabbed me and I wasn't let go until the very last page. The suspense is gritty as heck. Mind-blowing good! The last few romantic suspense novels I read didn't have the villain POV and reading IF YOU HEAR HER, which does, made me realize once more how much I like that. For me it adds another layer to the suspense, which I like a lot.

While reading and enjoying this book I was analyzing the different POVs and that of the villain to see if I could deduce who the villain could be...adding suspects to my list, crossing suspects off when the villain's POV would give me little pieces of information that didn't fit certain suspects. Now THAT'S a perfect romantic suspense!

Shiloh Walker's writing never fails to amaze and captivate me. Her suspense is awesome. Her characters, both primary and secondary, are fleshed out with back-stories and great characterization, giving them depth and likeability (and making them horrifying in the case of the villain). The romance is in perfect balance with the suspense.

I was at about 65% into this book when a friend asked me what I thought about it as both she and I were anxious for this book to come out and both ecstatic when I got an ARC. When in answer all I could do was make unintelligible sounds and weird sighing and grunting noises I knew this was a book headed to another 5-star/perfect 10 read. Individually the suspense and the romance were awesome! Put together and combined with the characterization, back-stories, intertwined character connections and Shiloh Walker's brilliant emotionally gripping writing style they turned IF YOU HEAR HER into the nearly perfect read for me.

That is until I got to the end, because when I got there I wanted to kill and hug Shiloh Walker at the same time. The ending could have made this a perfect 10 read but because it did not give me what I wanted, I have no choice but to give this book an almost perfect read stamp. I am not telling what it is that I wanted because that would spoil this book. All I can say is that Shiloh Walker is a brilliant and evil genius when it comes to romantic suspense and the start of this trilogy!

Favorite Quotes:
His mouth came down on hers, easy and light, keeping it slow at first. She opened for him and shuddered as he traced his tongue along her lower lip. He tasted like coffee and chocolate cheesecake and man. Delicious.

Looking at her mouth had him all but drooling for another taste, just like looking at her body had him wanting to touch. No. Forget want. Need. He needed to touch.

Don’t you “Hello, Lena” me, she almost snapped. She managed to bite it back simply because she didn’t want him to know she’d been looking forward to him calling her . . . like he’d said he would. Bastard.
“You okay, Lena?”
“Oh, I’m just peachy,” she drawled, resisting the urge to cross her arms over her chest. Just the sound of that low, sexy drawl had her body doing bad, bad things—her nipples beaded up, her belly went hot and loose, and her heart was racing.
Sexy, so damned sexy, the sort of voice a woman wants to hear murmuring in her ear during just the right moment— hell, with that kind of voice, any moment would be right.

“He talk to himself a lot?” Ezra asked, trying to distract himself. It was either that . . . or lean in and press his face against the curve of her neck. She smelled good, something light, almost citrusy, but not quite. Female, and sexy. Completely delicious.
Friends, he reminded himself. They were just going to be friends. F#ck . . . that smell was killing him. He desperately wanted to find the source of it and just start licking it right off her skin.

[...]and his hands . . .whoa. He could do things with his hands that just might
be illegal in some countries. Then there was his mouth— his mouth could almost put his hands to shame and if she wasn’t careful, she just
might start whimpering in need if she thought about it too much.

“I started to fall for you that night, Lena. I guess it’s why I backed away . . . maybe I didn’t think I could handle it.”
“And what makes you think you can handle it now?”
“Oh, I’m pretty sure I can’t. But then again if I wait until I can handle things, then I never would do anything,” he murmured, rubbing his lips against hers.
“Things happen when they happen, not when you’re ready for them.”
She sighed against his mouth, a smile curling her lips. “That sounds kind of . . . well, romantic, Ezra. Never would have thought it of you.”
“Hmmm.” Lifting his head, he smiled at her. “Oh, I can get plenty romantic.”

October 21, 2011

Kane has to convince his best friend Nadine of two things. First, it’s time for her to stop mourning her deceased fiancé. Second – and most importantly – Kane has fallen in love with her.

Nadine knows if she can move past Justin’s death, the tentative feelings she’s denying Kane will blossom. Only she can’t seem to move on. Desperate, she turns to a psychic for help so she can say the final goodbyes she’d been denied years before.

For one night, Kane, Nadine and Justin will face the grief threatening to break down a friendship and turn to a love that will make them whole again.

Author: Dee Carney
Series: standalone
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Noble Romance Publishing
Year of release: 2009, February 12
Format: eBook
Source: Received an e-copy from author on a dare because I said on Twitter I don’t like romances with ghosts in them.

First line:
He ignored the silence at their table.

Memorable Scenes:
- first chapter > starts off with a nice voyeurism scene
- the love scene > heartbreaking, beautiful and hot at the same time

Dee Carney sent me this book after I was saying on twitter that I don't like romance novels with characters that are ghosts and that even mentions of ghosts in a back cover blurb will stop me from buying or reading a book.

I really liked the opening chapter. It set the stage and immediately gave me a great first look into the main characters and their personalities. I still don't like ghosts in my romance but I have to give it to Dee Carney that she wrote a wonderful story and her approach to the whole ghost plotline seemed quite original. I say seemed because obviously I haven't read enough romances with ghosts in them to be able to make a comparison.

LETTING GO is an emotional coworkers & friends-to-lovers romance that didn’t blow me away but it still worked for me despite the ghost. This says a lot about Dee Carney and her writing skills.

Favorite Quotes:
Nadine forked through fluffy grains of arroz con pollo. “Are you going to tell me what’s going on or not?”
“I’ll catch you up even though the blood is leaving my head to race toother parts of my anatomy unknown to you.”
“Kane!” She could let that last bit slide, but having to hear about a growing erection teased her neglected libido. At the same time, it flummoxed her. The anatomy they discussed belonged to Kane, of all people. His grin widened. “I’m just sayin’, if what I say doesn’t make any sense,you know why.”

October 19, 2011

Patrick didn’t think it would be a big deal to kiss his best friend Brandon. Hell, they’d done crazier things to avoid a bar fight. He was totally unprepared to be wildly turned on, the kiss opening up new avenues of pleasure he’d never dreamt of—Patrick, after all, was straight, even if Brandon wasn’t.

Destiny’s never been afraid to ask for what she wants. When she sees Patrick and Brandon together, she knows exactly what she wants—the three of them in bed together, preferably with her in the middle of a hot, naked-man sandwich with her two best friends.

When Brandon finds himself hunted by an unknown enemy, the three friends find themselves fighting for their lives—and their hearts.

Author: Samantha Wayland
Series: standalone (as far as I know)
Genre: Erotic Romance, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Year of release: 2011, July 6
Format: eBook
Source: Received the ebook for review from author

First line:
He should have just stayed home.

Memorable Scenes:
- Destiny's little experiment with Brandon > my heart broke for Brandon at his realization that he was alone, had no one who was "his"
- the scene at Patrick's house after Brandon's attack > I teared up
- Captain Sullivan's reaction to Patrick's confession about loving both Destiny and Brandon > gotta love that man!

Destiny Matthews is a marketing executive with commitment issues. She’s take-charge, outspoken and tough but she has a soft core and her heart is in the right place.

This ménage has two heroes. First we have Brandon, who is bi-sexual. He’s also restraint, and stubborn but can be volatile when pushed to far.

Second we have Patrick who is straight, or at least he’s always thought he was straight until one kiss turns his world upside down. He’s kind, explosive, and outgoing. He’s also quick-mouthed and only shows his sweet side in private

Brandon and Patrick are both police officers and longtime best friends. Patrick seemed to be the binding factor in this ménage. Both Brandon and Destiny have (secret) crushes on him. Brandon tries to contain his attraction to Patrick and hides his unrequited love in favor of their lifelong friendship. Destiny and Patrick have been lovers off and on but it has always stayed on a sexual level.

While Patrick is the binding factor that brings them together, Destiny is the glue that keeps them together. She's the calming element when the guys' explosive tempers rear their heads. I clicked most with Destiny and Patrick.

This is an emotionally complex and intense story. Three lives with their different individual connections to each other are intricately woven together through some major attraction, explosive chemistry and deeply rooted love. Samantha Wayland has made a very good first impression on me. However there were some things that didn’t completely work for me.

I had a bit of trouble getting into the story but that lasted about a few chapters and had to do with the fact that the story opened with and at first focused on the m/m part of the m/m/f ménage. As known I'm not a m/m romance reader but do enjoy m/m/f romances when the woman is the focal point of the ménage. DESTINY CALLS started with just Brandon and Patrick though and that threw me back for a bit. However once Destiny entered the scene I was completely engaged...And more importantly, the story needed the opening it had as the whole dynamic between the friends and the development of the ménage hinged on it.

I believed in the Destiny/Patrick and Brandon/Patrick sexual and emotional connections, but in the beginning I had trouble believing in the Destiny/Brandon connection since there was no obvious foundation in something past fond friendship, contrary to the foundations that were present between respectively Brandon and Destiny with Patrick.

However sex scene wise I believed it all and gobbled it all up once I accepted that Samantha Wayland was going to tell this story as she saw fit and it wouldn't be conforming to my notions of how a m/m/f ménage should be. And the way she saw fit, was the way to go because that was the only way to let the story run its course towards the HEA that I ultimately what want to see in the end. And whatever I might have found not to my liking in this book, it was never the hot, rife with raw emotions, love scenes.

Next to the intricate and emotionally complex romance there's suspense as well (well duh, Brandon and Patrick are police officers). I started believing it was going to involve the arrest a mob kingpin. But there's also a violent attack on Brandon and this turned out to be the major element in the plot. Though there is a lot happening in this book, the pace was slow and not slow in a bad way, but just not fast-paced compared to everything happening.

Even though I'm still not a fan of too much m/m action and focus in m/m/f ménages and for me there wasn't enough focus on the female in the triad somehow this book still worked for me because of the raw emotions and emotional struggles that the characters went through to accept each other and all the consequences that went with that.

After finishing this book it stayed with me for quite some time as I couldn’t exactly form my final thoughts on it. Even though it had that m/m focus I am not fond of, it still made a big emotional impression on me. She definitely pushed some buttons with me and made me think about what I like and don’t like in ménages and I will definitely be looking for more books by Samantha Wayland.

Favorite Quotes:
God, Brandon tasted good. Familiar and different. The strength of Brandon’s arms, his sheer size, his flavor and texture. It was like Patrick’s first kiss all over again. A world of discovery in one lip-locked moment. Heat poured through him, thrumming with rough need.

She sat watching him [Patrick], her heart filled with compassion, her body humming with desire. His face was a mask of confusion and shock.

Patrick’s tongue stole over his, his lips yielding, responding, working at Brandon’s mouth. Each touch, each parry of Patrick’s tongue sent electric shocks zinging through Brandon’s body. He acquiesced, giving the kiss over while sinking deeper into it. It was so sweet. So good. Patrick ran a thumb over Brandon’s jaw and he let his eyes close, simply losing himself in kissing Patrick.
[...] Three days of jerking off hadn’t even come close to easing the ache. But this. His blood sang on its way south, his head spun from its rapid retreat. Every nerve ending was on full alert, gathering in sensations, swamping him with data.

He stared at her, achingly aware of his need for her, his desire that couldn’t be spent with one orgasm. Especially since he’d come in his pants like a freaking teenager. Jesus. (Brandon)

Brandon wanted to reach out, to shout his denial at the loss of contact, but stopped himself. He couldn’t pressure Patrick, no matter how the need beat at him. He had to let Patrick set the pace, even if Brandon wanted to fall to his knees and beg.
Come to that, if he were to fall to his knees in front of Patrick, there were a few things he’d like to do while he was down there.

She backed toward the door, her hand up. “No. I have to go. Don’t look at me like that! I can’t miss this meeting.” Dropping her hand, she clutched the handle of her briefcase. “I swear to god, Patrick, stop looking at me like that. It’s not fair.”
Brandon covered his mouth with one hand, doing a fairly poor job of hiding his laughter. They both knew what they’d done to her. Jerks. Mouth-watering, hunky, sex-god jerks.

He knew he should say something to make Brandon believe it would all be worth it, but he didn’t have the words. He had never been more acutely aware that being the one with the big mouth wasn’t the same as being the one who knew the right thing to say.

October 17, 2011

No one said coming home would be easy. But for Dante Renaldi, it's murder.

Before the Special Forces hero has even unpacked his bags from twelve years of active duty, he's embroiled in murder—corpses bearing the brutal trademark he's seen only once before—on the worst night of his life.

The last time Detective Anna Pallino saw Dante Renaldi, they were in love. Now, he's part of the connection to a string of fresh homicides and a horrible assault Anna only survived thanks to him.

More than anything, Anna wants to trust Dante. But as the bodies and the coincidences stack up, Anna will have to decide, and fast: Is the man she owes her life to the very same one who wants her dead?

Author: Jaci Burton
Series: The Killer series, book 1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: MIRA Books (Harlequin)
Year of release: 2011, October 18
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Received an ARC from author for review

First line:
He shouldn't have come home. (chose first line of Ch 1, not the prologue)

Memorable Scenes:
- the prologue > I was immediately hooked
- the love scenes > there weren't many but those that were there were exquisite
- suspense wrap-up scene > nail-bitingly awesome

Anna Pallino is headstrong and fierce, sharp, tough and tenacious. Ever since the attack 12 years ago she has PTSD-induced panic attacks but she doesn’t let that hinder her in any way. I loved Anna as the heroine of THE HEART OF A KILLER.

Dante Renaldi is protective and mysterious. I connected more with Anna than with Dante and this was probably because of this air of mystery that surrounded him and the way he kept his feelings close to himself.

The romance is subtle as the focus in THE HEART OF A KILLER is more on the suspense but the subtlety did bring that perfect balance between romance and suspense I look for in romantic suspense novels. The love scenes are excellently done, though there aren't many the ones that are in the book are plenty sexy because of the simmering chemistry between Anna and Dante. They fit the romance perfectly and follow the characters' emotional path throughout the book seamlessly.

As usual with romantic suspense, there are quite some secondary characters. They way Jaci Burton used all these characters in the plot was awesome. She really surprised me with some of the twists and choices and I love to be surprised when it comes to secondary characters. Gabe, one of Dante’s foster brothers, especially intrigued me and I hope he'll get his own story in this series.

The prologue immediately grabbed me and set the pace and premise: gritty and action-packed yet with room for a little romance. Within 50 pages I was totally immersed in the suspense that was brilliantly set up from the start. It was not too mysterious and not too revealing either, giving me enough rope to form suspicions, some of which were spot-on, yet leaving room for some utterly unexpected turn of events.

This is my first encounter with Jaci Burton's full-length work. I read some contemporary e-novellas some years ago. Since then I bought her backlist as I liked her writing style and I’m so glad my intuition was right. In THE HEART OF A KILLER she does a great job of penning down a romantic suspense with just the right amount of gritty, nail-biting suspense to keep you breathlessly in its grip. Yet, there is the counterbalance of an emotional romance that was built up gradually yet held firm in the turmoil of the suspense.

As known I read quite some Romantic Suspense and I must say that THE HEART OF A KILLER, though light on the sexy (in terms of quantity...), and subtle on the romance, is engaging in the heart-wrenching emotions and has an awesome suspense plot. Not only the plot itself (serial killer copycatting an accidental manslaughter from 12 years before and now after the people involved) was impressive, but also the execution of it. The way it was written, it kept me in its grip from the prologue, throughout the investigation right to the moment it was all revealed and wrapped up.

I totally loved this book and I’m now anxiously waiting for the next romantic suspense from Ms. Burton. All the right buttons were hit by voice, writing-style, pace and plot leading the way but romance, trope and heat-level were very close behind them. My first taste of it has definitely left me craving more.

Favorite Quotes:
He laid his palm against the door above her head, his body hot and enticing as he stared down at het with sea-blue eyes that made her want to dig her teeth in to his shirt and rip it off, then bury her face in his neck and lick the bead of sweat that had formed there.

Though she would have clocked other men for grabbing her, she melted against him. Dante’s body was familiar to her. She couldn’t help herself, she had to touch, to test her reaction. She slid her palms along his biceps. Hard muscle and soft skin eased across her hands, making her tingle in places that just flat out never tingled.

That’s what he wanted. Anna engaged, listening to the needs of her body instead of walking through the motions of sex as if it was a road map. She had a lush, beautiful body that was made to be loved, and he knew she’d either had lousy lovers in the past or she just hadn’t allowed any man to take his time and giver her the attention she deserved.

Her mouth tempted him, always had. Besides the sassy things that came out of it when she spoke, she had full, sweet lips and she knew how to kiss. She wasn’t tentative about it and she’d always thrown herself fully into a kiss. He loved a woman who did that.

“Everything I am is here for you to see, to touch, to taste,” he said, rising up to meet her again as he took her hands in his. “I won’t hold anything back from you.” Dam him for his honesty, for letting her see the naked truth in his eyes. His fingers dug into her hips and he dragged her against him again, taking her so close she had to bite down on her lip to keep from catapulting over the edge.
“It’s only fair to give me the same, Anna. Let go.

October 14, 2011

Blondes have more fun? Pfft. Bad Girls have more fun. Rebecca Gabel was accused of being a bad girl and she discovered life was easier (and more fun!) to live up to the reputation than try to deny it. But now with a new comer who’s taking her up on her suggestions, Rebecca is a little out of her element. There’s talking the talk…and then there’s having to walk it.

Grant Iverson recently inherited land from his mother, so he’s arrived in Apple Trail, Arkansas to check the place out and see if there are any treasures hidden there. What he doesn’t expect to find is a woman full of curves and a mouth of pure sin, but whose eyes reflect nothing but curious innocence.

Author: Keri Ford
Series: Uninhibited in Apple Trail, Arkansas – book 5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Year of release: 2011, August 26
Format: eBook
Source: Bought via the publisher’s eBookstore

First line:
“You’re pregnant, aren’t you?”

Memorable Scenes:
- Scene at the pond > hot and kind of a turning point

Two people with totally opposite romantic goals (Rebecca wants to flirt it up and have some sexy fun, Grant wants to settle down and calm his cavorting ways) end up finding what they didn't know they wanted in each other. Bad boy wants to go good, good girl wants to go bad.

I loved this installment of the Apple Trail series and enjoyed Rebecca and Grant but it was not the best of the series for me. The middle part seemed to stay on the surface a bit...not going deeper into the layers of Grant, Rebecca and their budding relationship. The end however gave me what I was looking for, but it seemed as if I missed an important chunk of the story before the final few chapters.

Reading this book once again made me look at the trap of having too high expectations. I loved the previous books a lot and built my expectations of this book on them, which is why I think it fell a little bit short for me

Favorite Quotes:
No. She blinked and dragged her chin off her knees. Not just damn, but day-um. Tall. Tanned. Tattooed. Shaved head down to a dark shadow over his head. Black grease smeared over his white tank that just barely—oh, what the hell—that wasn’t even coming close to hiding rippling, pouring, drool worthy muscles of his chest and abs and holy hell, look at those thighs in those jeans.

If being wrapped in and around this warm wall of rock was any indication, she would certainly forget for a bit and have loads of memories to take home.
Very, very good memories. Like how being pressed to his rippled, chiseled chest and abs caused her thighs to tingle and tighten. His rock hard chest was unforgiving against her sensitive nipples. His hips rocked against her pelvis. He didn’t merely kiss her with his mouth, he kissed her with his body. Where their skin touched, delicious tingling sensations chilled and heated her all at once.

She shimmied her shorts off her hips and gravity took them and his eyeballs from there down the curves of her legs to the ground.

Grant was coming toward her. Water splashed around his knees…then thighs as he walked toward her full of purpose. She shuddered, thinking of his purpose on that four-wheeler ride. Every. Long. Hard. Thick inch of purpose in his jeans that had been sandwiched to her ass through every bump and hole on the trail. She swallowed and dipped lower in the pond to cool off.

“You whimper. You cry. You get choked. You arch and your legs twitch against mine. Your hips rock into me hard enough I’m about to come in my shorts. Your head falls back and your lips thrust up. You are a sexy woman, Rebecca and not because of some damn rumors I’ve never heard of before. It’s all you. So yeah, shh and let me hear you. Listening to you get hot for me is one of the best things I’ve ever heard in my life.”

October 13, 2011

Black Ops, Inc. operative Luke –Doc Holliday– Colter is taking some much needed down-time, making his way across the Peruvian Andes via rail, when banditos attack the moving train in the midnight hours. It soon becomes apparent that robbery is not their intent but the abduction of super model Valentina, who is traveling incognito while recovering from a public scandal involving her ex-husband, high profile US Senator, Marcus Chamberlin.

Luke whisks Valentina off the train in a daring escape but the two of them become the targets of a relentless manhunt. Enlisting the aid of Luke's BOI teammates, they soon discover that Val’s intended abduction is linked to a plot put in play by an international gun smuggling alliance. The BOI team led by Luke, with Val along as a necessary pawn, must race halfway around the world to thwart a ruthless attack that would not only result in a devastating loss of life but destroy a tenuous peace the US and her allies have established in a vastly unstable part of the world.

Author: Cindy Gerard
Series: Black Ops Inc., book 6
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Pocket Books
Year of release: 2011, July 19
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Received an ARC from author for review at RWA Nationals in NYC

First line:
Luke Colter's number one rule of self-preservation: Don't ignore the itch.

Memorable Scenes:
- Luke and Val's escape from the bad guy shooters on the mules > I was holding my breath and at the same time thinking 'Doc makes a sexy cowboy'

Luke 'Doc Halliday' Colter is charming, gentle, protective and witty.
Lately he’s been questioning his job, whether he should keep doing what he does (coincidentally Wyatt was thinking the same in the previous book.). Then on the way home from his holiday during his one break per year, he runs into trouble and cannot stop his protective instincts from kicking in.

Hollywood star actress Valentina (Val) is sarcastic, tenacious and sassy. She’s trying not to depend on or need men for her happiness and safety as all they've done is hurt and use her but circumstances drive her right into the arms of knight in shining armor, Luke. Colter Good thing he's a good guy and a former Navy SEAL. When Luke prevents the kidnapping of Valentina during a train ride on one of the last days of his 2-week leave from BOI, they escape to Buenos Aires where the other BOIs join in to find out who is after Val and why.

The love scenes are hot and I love how Cindy Gerard keeps them original and fresh in every installment and how every romance is unique to the main characters at hand. I also liked the element in the romance where Val is the big movie star Luke had a crush on when he was younger. It gave the romance something extra, making it yet again different from the other romances in the series.

In this book there are some introductions of interesting secondary characters that were added to the original BOIs and with this series ending after the next book I'm hoping Cindy Gerard is going to start a new series with these men. My interest was definitely piqued by not only former naval pilot Brown but also the guys assigned to protect Val, Santos in particular.

The plot of WITH NO REMORSE takes us from Peru via Argentina to the USA and Sierra Leone and takes place almost a year after the end of RISK NO SECRETS and within 10 pages I was in the middle of exciting action and ready to enjoy Doc's story to the fullest. If there were things that should be noted in the less positive column of this review it would be that the references to movies/TV shows were cute but I'm not sure it doesn't date the book and Val's constant references to Luke as Indiana Jones started to become bothersome at one point.

Again Cindy Gerard created a different, unique plot for an installment of this great series. I also suspect the plot of the next book has it’s origin in the end of this one and I also think the overall wrapping up of a story line that started in SHOW NO MERCY (book 1) and was deepened out a little bit in the previous book (RISK NO SECRETS), was being geared up in this one for the next book as well. I love that!

Though I'm normally not quick to figure out the plots I must say the one in this book I had my finger on it from the start, knowing who was involved and why. And because I'm not the best at guessing these things in the romantic suspense books I read I think it's safe to say Cindy Gerard took the predictable and easy road there. However, despite the predictability the suspense still kept me at the edge of my seat as reading how the BOIs take down the bad guys is still a sight to behold and in the end there were some twists I didn't totally see coming. Those last 60-80 pages were breathtaking and awesome and totally in line with what I'm used to in this series.

Cindy Gerard writes mesmerizing romantic suspense. The balance in the mix between the suspense and romance is perfectly done and once I start reading a BOI book I just can't stop because when it's not the plot keeping me on the edge of my seat, it's the romance making me keep reading on thinking 'just one more page, one more chapter.'

WITH NO REMORSE is another great installment in this series and I'm sad to know that the next book is the final one. I've truly fallen in love with this series and Cindy Gerard's writing. I'm running out of words to describe how much I love the romantic suspense that Cindy Gerard writes. She blends mind-blowing military stuff with edge-of-your-seat suspense and hot, satisfying romance together so well, her books are highly addictive and impossible to put down once you start them. When I think Romantic Suspense I think Cindy Gerard!

Favorite Quotes:
And when he undid the buttons of his shirt, then whipped it off and handed it to her with a clipped, “Cover up with this”, her argument lost its steam.
That wasn’t all she lost when she was suddenly face to face with the lean, muscled breadth of his chest. Her power of speech took a hike as she sat like a mute and stared.

Luke took a moment to grieve for his balls, which were taking a hammering on the boniest backbone he’d ever had the misfortune to straddle. But when a barrage of automatic weapon fire cracked across the ground beside them, the state of his balls took a backseat to the danger to Valentina’s life.

Luke was going insane.
Break-out-the-anti-psychotic-drugs, dust-off-the-lobotomy-kitts, and lace-up-the-straitjackets insane. All this lush, sexy woman pressed against him was more than he could take.

Well, hell. He wasn’t gone yet. To make certain she understood that, he strode straight to the bed, leaned down, cupped her nape in his palm, and pulled her up to him. Then he kissed her like tomorrow might not come and he wanted to experience every nuance, every sigh, every sweet wanton response from the mouth that he wasn’t sure he could ever get enough of.

He made love to her with a tenderness he hadn’t known he was capable of expressing. With a reverence that he hoped showed her that this wasn’t about sex. This was about communion. This was about seekers who hadn’t even known they’d been searching. About lost souls who had defied fate and found themselves in each other.

Everything had seemed clear in the intimacy of the night, in the heat and intensity of the most profound emotional and sexual experience of Luke’s life.
Then morning, the bitch, showed up and muddied the waters again.

“Now let’s try that again. Ask my wife nice,” Reed ground out, butting his chest against Luke’s, “and maybe I’ll let you sleep in the same bed as your teeth tonight.”

“You’re my heartbeat, Val. You’re my reason for being the man I need to be. With you, anything’s possible. Without you…without you, I’m not the man I want to be.

October 12, 2011
Accept no substitute…for love.

Jessica Martin is determined to earn a permanent teaching position at Summit High School. That means hard work, dedication, and even volunteering extra time to direct the school’s Shakespeare play. Which leaves no room for romance—especially with a co-worker. She didn’t factor in the school’s sexy security officer and the delicious fantasies he inspires.

Former cop Tom Cameron likes his job. Or he did, until the new substitute busted his orderly life right open. Now, he can’t seem to avoid her—deserted hallways, empty theaters, classrooms after dark—but he’s got too many skeletons in his closet to risk his heart again. Asking her out to distract her from the play’s, well, drama is a friendly gesture. Nothing more.

Their chemistry could melt down the science lab, and before long they’re burning up the sheets off-campus. And uncovering raw emotions—a stark reminder that love isn’t in their curricula. When a troubled student goes over the edge, though, the need to stop a tragedy brings them right back where they started—face to face with fate.

Warning: This book contains sexy encounters in classrooms, inappropriate use of school facilities, backstage shenanigans, and illicit activities on a ferryboat.

Author: Kate Davies
Series: standalone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Year of release: 2011, February 22
Format: eBook
Source: Bought via Samhain eBookstore

First line:
Jessica was late.

Memorable Scenes:
- the scene at the pizza place > Very funny and cute, Jessica's friend Ana is a hoot!
- the school dance scene > the beginning of this scene reminded me of the movie GREASE complete with it's own Cha Cha DiGregorio (the annoying Gabrielle) LOL and the end was a great HEA + conclusion to the plot

This is a contemporary romance with a capital R! I loved the romance between Jessica and Tom. The built-up was very well done, going from small sparks of attraction, to smoldering sexual tension and sizzling chemistry to a sweet and lovely HEA.

The plot was good though a bit predictable but I really liked the high school setting and co-workers to lovers trope of this cute novella. Lately I've been reading books heavy on either the eroticism or the emotional intensity and to me the sweetness and normal guy/girl-next-door vibe of TAKE A CHANCE ON ME felt like a breath of fresh air!

TAKE A CHANCE ON ME is a perfectly balanced, well-paced and sweet contemporary that I really enjoyed a lot and loved it for bringing me back to my high school days...

Favorite Quotes:
He hadn’t consciously decided to live a solitary lifestyle, but that’s what had happened. It wasn’t a bad life, he supposed. He had a nice apartment in a quiet part of town. He could eat cold canned spaghetti over the sink and not worry about getting hell for it. He never had to share the remote control. He could sprawl across the bed without someone complaining how he was on her side.
Of course, there was also the silence. The half-empty closets. The embarrassing moments when he turned to comment on an article in the morning paper and no one was there. The times he woke in a cold sweat in the middle of the night and reached blindly across the king-size bed, only to find empty space.

It had only been for the briefest of moments, but he had a feeling that the inadvertent glimpse of creamy smooth skin and lace-trimmed bra would be on a playback loop in his mind for the rest of the evening. Perfect.

All she’d done was place her hand on his. A brief physical contact. Nothing more. So why was his hand still—tingly, for want of a better word? And he didn’t even want to think about the tingles still echoing in other more personal parts of his body.

“ Some discontent? She would have ripped my toenails out if given the chance.”
“So don’t wear open-toed shoes.”

Not that he was willing to concede that he was in love. It was too soon, too new, too overwhelming to consider that possibility. But the fact remained that Jessica had pulled him out of his self-imposed shell, and he was no longer interested in crawling back inside.

October 11, 2011
Twelve years of chasing bad guys didn't erase beautiful Sophie Baylor from Wyatt Savage's memory. If he had another chance, he'd never let her leave. So when she tracks him down from El Salvador and begs for help, he doesn't ask questions -- he just goes.

Sophie is grateful her daughter survived a kidnapping attempt, but she won't forgive herself until the girl who was mistakenly abducted is safe. Wyatt is the only man brave enough to take on the mysterious terrorists behind the crime; and the one irresistible man she wishes she had never let go.

Sophie knows Central America's steamy jungles and sticky politics better than anyone. Yet she refuses to hide in fear. Then she becomes the enemy's number-one target. Wyatt lost her once, and he won't lose her again -- even if he has to fight, kill, or die to save her.

Author: Cindy Gerard
Series: Black Ops Inc., book 5
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Pocket Books
Year of release: 2010, May 25
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Bought via The BookDepository

First line:
The old cargo van caught Sophie's attention the moment she stepped outside the Baylor Middle School's double front doors.

Memorable Scenes:
I seem to have developed a habit of not writing down memorable scenes in this series. I guess I’m too engrossed in reading to write stuff down. *headdesk*

But I do remember without notes the scene in this book where Sophie, Wyatt and the other BOIs go to some bars in a shady area of San Salvador to ask some questions. Sophie and Wyatt get outnumbered and in trouble and the BOIs come barging in the bar…guns blazing > That scene was so freaking awesome! And the epitome of what the BOIs stand for! (I’ve included a quote from that scene in my fave quotes too)

Sophie Baylor Weber is middle school principal. Sophie is decisive and compassionate but also tough and tenacious. Once she makes a decision she sticks by it and tries to make the best of it, even if she knows deep down, she could have made a different choice. Her love and commitment to her daughter is praiseworthy.

Wyatt 'Papa Bear' Savage is one of the BOIs. Lately he’s been feeling restless and doesn’t know how long he’ll be able to do the work he has been doing for his entire professional life. Wyatt is take-charge, solid and levelheaded, but he also has a soft, charming, seductive side that comes out with the woman he’s loved forever.

Wyatt and Sophie have a history of 12 years and their romance is a complicated one. Sophie was married to Wyatt's former best friend Hugh (a CIA operative turned private contractor turned mercenary). Though Wyatt set sight on Sophie first, it was Hugh, with his overwhelming personality, who snatched her up. However, the marriage is rocky and ends after several years, leaving Sophie with no other options than to contact Wyatt when trouble comes knocking on her door in the form of a failed attempt to kidnap her daughter.

I love how every couple in this series has their own story rife with unique to them complications. Sophie and Wyatt's story is not one of the simple boy-meets-girl in the midst of the danger that brings them together. They have a past in which Sophie chose the other guy (Wyatt's best friend) over him so to speak and then later finds out she made the wrong choice. And for Wyatt, though he accepted her choice, there hasn't been a single woman who could hold a candle to Sophie or make him forget her. This made for a romance filled with tension, sizzling sexual chemistry and their HEA was a hard-earned one.

Again the banter between the BOIs and their women hit full-force the moment several of them got together on the page. It's one of the elements of this series I enjoy immensely. I also love that the couples from the previous books come back, some books focus on some couples more than others, and play a part in the plot or you catch a glimpse of how they are doing after their HEA.

The plot in RISK NO SECRETS centers on child abduction and street gangs. The plot was a little predictable as in I figured out who the villain mastermind’s helper was pretty quickly. However the predictability was blown away by the awesome action it packed (will get back to that later) and the way the suspense plot was set up and executed.

Cindy Gerard writes action, gunfights like nobody's business. While reading her books I can almost see and feel the bullets fizzing by. Seriously, I'm not a violent person but I'm definitely in awe of the way she describes the gunfight and shoot-outs with the bad guys scenes, they are exciting and as breathtaking as any of the sexy scenes. Combine the vivid action images with some sizzling heat and chemistry between the main couples and there you have the essence of romantic suspense in a nutshell and Cindy Gerard captures that essence perfectly.

RISK NO SECRETS is a romantic suspense novel filled to the brim with action, suspense, romance and heat. To counteract the sometimes gruesome action, the suspense-filled plot and the evil villains, there is love: impossible love, puppy love, lost love, new love, old love and found-again love…all from both the main couple and the secondary characters.

Favorite Quotes:
Fried chicken. Peach pie. Meddling.
Yep, Wyatt thought as he spotted the dust trail of another vehicle bearing down on the Savage place. He’d hit the Margaret Savage trifecta.

Wyatt reined in a sharp twist of jealousy. Only years of practice in covert ops kept him from showing the slightest reaction while he contemplated the pain he could inflict by driving his knee full force into the Latin Casanova’s cojones.

Wyatt knew she had never been aware of the effect she had on him. If she had she’d be running scared, because that simple action –so alluringly female, so unconsciously sensual– had his gut clenching and his mouth going bone-dry.
It had always been that way when he was around her. His sense viscerally alert, his emotions raw to the point of bleeding, He wanted to lunge across the room, yank that wet dream of a dress above her waist, and bury himself hard and deep inside her. No finesse. No romance. Just lust. He wanted to consume and overwhelm and possess. And then, only then, did he want to settle her, gentle her, and make her achingly aware of how much he loved her.

“I know a way that you could make me smile.” He tilted his head and grinned his best come-hither grin.
Her fingers continued to fly over the computer keys.
“That’s because you’re easy.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
She turned to look at him then, graced him with an indulgent smile. “Darling man, right time, right place, it’s a wonderful thing.” She kissed the air in his direction. “But for now, put it on ice, loverboy. […]” (Reed and Crystal, my fave BOI couple!!)

Then in charged the cavalry, with Green leading the way, an AR-15 assault rifle rammed against his shoulder, his finger jammin’ on the trigger. Joe dropped to his knee, clearing the path for Mendoza, Jones and Doc to burst in behind him, firing a couple of M-4s and a lone AK.
Jesus! They were a sight.
“I ever tell you guys how pretty y’all are?” he asked with a tight grin as the tension started to uncoil from his chest by slow turns.
“Only every time we save your sorry ass.”

“I need you,” she mouthed against his skin.
She needed him? Christ. He was the one in need. Deep need. Dark need. Insatiable need of everything about her that made her woman, and wanton and willing in his arms.
He groaned when her warm mouth opened against his throat trailing long, lingering kisses that were as much suction as consumption, as much greed as giving.
Lord God above, she was eating him by inches, and he was powerless to do anything but lie there and et her feed until there was nothing left of him but memory.

She was fire. Burning, licking heat. He was steel. Forged, unyielding strength. Together they were hot, molten, unappeasable.

October 10, 2011

Ensnaring the ultimate bad boy has its risks…and its rewards.

It’s not easy being Hades. Constantly guarding his world against other meddling and ambitious deities is stressful work. So when a naked goddess falls directly into his lap, along with the news that he has to shelter her for the indefinite future, he is less than thrilled. Particularly since he can’t help but lust after the beautiful female.

The Underworld isn’t the first place Persephone would pick for a vacation—who in their right mind would choose a dark palace over sunshine and flowers? Yet from Hades’s first touch, the dark, sexy ruler fascinates her and has her thinking a fling might be just the thing to while away her confinement.

But trust each other? Not a chance. Until the day comes that Persephone must leave…and they realize that trusting each other is the only way they’ll ever meet again.

Warning: Contains an arrogant god, a stubborn goddess, horny deity nookie and enough supernatural friction to set the Underworld on fire.

Author: Alisha Rai
Series: standalone (for now)
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Year of release: 2011, October 11
Format: eBook
Source: Received an e-ARC from author for review

First line:
Hades, also known as the extremely badass Lord of the Underworld, was accustomed to souls dropping into his kingdom.

Memorable Scenes:
- Persephone's talk with Cerberus (the tawny and middle heads) > I laughed out loud
- Persephone’s return after her time back on Earth > moving and hot!

Persephone is the Goddess of vegetation. She has little to no control over her powers and is sent to the Underworld through a scheming deity. She’s spunky, defiant and tenacious. Though she knows Hades is sexually attracted to her but not happy with her presence, she gets in his face all the time. I liked that about her.

Hades is the ruler of the Underworld. He’s ornery, sarcastic, gruff and contrary. In any other hero these traits would be annoying as hell (he he he) but Hades pulls them off because you just know that deep down he has a heart and cares. He’s also talented in the dirty talk so he was a hero who fits my favorite list perfectly.

I loved Persephone's feistiness and Hades’ dry sarcasm. The sex scenes were not only explicit and scorching but also well balanced with the romance and plot. The romance was build up more gradually than the sexual attraction but I liked this build-up a lot.

An honorable mention has to go to Cerberus, Hades’ companion hellhound and then especially Bob…I seriously still crack up when I think of the dialogues with Bob. He stole the show and I hope that if Alisha Rai writes more in this world and we catch another glimpse of Hades and Persephone, Cerberus will make another appearance too. If I had a favorites list for secondary characters he would definitely be on it.

As always I love Alisha Rai’s fluent and fast-paced writing as the humorous undertone is invariably incorporated in it. Though my preference goes out to her contemporary work I also enjoyed this second paranormal romance of hers I’ve read. It's short and sweet and I loved how she interpreted the myth of Hades and Persephone. She took some creative liberty and I really liked how she adapted the myth!

HOT AS HADES is everything the title promises: a quick and hot read that is a must-read for readers who love the mythology and romance combination.

Favorite Quotes:
Her little stubborn chin lifted in an annoyingly regal manner, as if she was the one in the throne and not naked and subdued in his arms. “Release me, or suffer.”
“Suffer what?”
“Suffer…my wrath.”
“Aren’t you cute.”

Pretty and stupid, she tsked. They always went hand in hand, it seemed. Though Hades didn’t seem quite as idiotic as Narcissus. That moron regularly had to be rescued from lakes when he tried to make out with his own reflection.

He was going to die of blue balls before Zeus got this female out of here. He should have materialized some nuns’ habits for her.

“You talk to my lady in that tone again, I’ll rip into your cloud and shove your lightning bolt up your ass. Do you understand?”
Persephone bit her lip to keep from laughing, particularly when Zeus cleared his throat and muttered a very indistinct, “Fine.”

October 9, 2011

Note from Reviewer: There is no specific blurb for the individual stories so I’ve included a small summary paragraph in the verdict. This is the blurb of the Anthology:

New York Times bestselling authors Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love and Cindy Gerard and rising romance star Laura Griffin mix seduction and suspense in three irresistible romantic adventures.

From sultry international jungles to the rugged terrain of the American southwest, join the larger-than-life, scorching-hot alpha heroes of the Bureau of American Defense, Black Ops Inc., and the U.S. Navy SEALs for the pulse-pounding, heart-racing, toe-curling excitement. They’re cool under pressure, steamy under the sheets, and when the enemy strikes, there’s not a lethal mission these gorgeous men can’t handle...

Title: LEAVE NO TRACE (found in Anthology DEADLY PROMISES)
Author: Cindy Gerard
Series: Black Ops Inc, book 5.5
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Pocket Books
Year of release: 2010, September 28
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Bought via The BookDepository

First line:
It had become too much about the scotch, Cav admitted with brutal honesty.

This story opens with David 'Cav' Cavanaugh on the verge of leaving the CIA, literally on the night before he's going to give notice. His former partner Wyatt Savage calls in his help to find Wyatt's family friend Carrie Granger who's gone missing in Myanmar. The novella tells the story of this rescue mission

LEAVE NO TRACE is a nice addition to the series with two earlier minor secondary characters as the main couple. Cindy Gerard's trade-mark action-packed and fast-paced writing style shines through on every page. Though the characterization, romance and emotional intensity had to give way to the plot/suspense it was a good read.

Favorite Quotes:
“Why is it that every time the phone rings and I hear your voice, I feel a knee-jerk reaction to say ‘wrong number’ and hang the hell up?”
“I need your help.”
“Ah. That would be the reason.” (David and Wyatt)

“Sorry,” he gritted out again and tried to shift some of his weight off her while reaching between them and making a careful adjustment to his package.
Bad move.
Very bad move.
The warm naked flesh of her belly pressed against the back of his forearm. The heat of her mons and the sweet cleft between her parted thighs cradled the back of his hand. With only the most minor of adjustment he could be there. Right there. Inside her. And his stupid dick was totally on board with the idea.

“So be warned, Carrie Granger. The next time I kiss you, you’re going to end up naked and flat on your back, and it’s going to take an army to keep me from making certain you never feel the need to say sorry again.”

October 8, 2011

Dr. Clara Evans’ life has taken a turn for the worse. With a failed marriage behind her, Clara has only a bottle of wine and a romance novel for company on New Year’s Eve while waiting for the dreadful year to end.

Her lonely celebration is disrupted when her best friend Jackson Philips shows up and she couldn’t be more delighted. Tall, muscular and handsome, what’s not to love about the bighearted firefighter?

It’s not until she steals a desperately needed kiss for luck at midnight that secret desires and hidden heartaches rise to the surface, igniting an inferno of passion that burns hot enough to overwhelm even the most seasoned firefighter.

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

First line:
“Firefighters are the hottest.”

Memorable Scenes:
-hallway table scene > can I say hot?! Red-hot!
- epilogue > loved this perfect ending!

A KISS FOR LUCK is a friends-to-lovers novella that gave me a great first taste of Kele Moon's writing and it definitely makes me crave more. Granted, there were a few eyebrow-raising moments (to do with Clara's marriage) but they were all obliterated by the excellent writing and the scorching sex scene(s) that were wrought with emotions.

And with a vocal hero named Jackson, Kele Moon had this one in the bag from the moment I started reading the first page and I was sad to come to the end as I could've kept on reading about Jackson and Clara forever!

Favorite Quotes:
She was breathless, stunned and overwhelmed with the rush of longing invading her senses, making her blind to everything but the need for more of him. If he could do this to her with one kiss she would never have to fake anything. With Jackson she would want it to last forever.

For the first time in years she felt vibrant and alive. Everywhere he touched she burned. Shivers and gooseflesh followed his caresses. Her senses where overwhelmed with him and she would have done anything to keep him there with her.

She shattered instantly, bucking against his mouth and fisting his hair tightly as her whole body shuddered in climax. She screamed from the ferocity of so much passion uncoiling at once. Pleasure ricocheted through her, filling her with tingling warmth when it finally passed. Dazed and sated, her eyes blinked open to see Jackson staring up at her in awe and surprise

He tilted his head back, closing his eyes as the hot water ran over his face and his libido raged, careless of the complexities of his now drastically altered friendship with Clara. Remembering her standing in his bedroom, wanting her again with a hunger that was all consuming, he wished he had the balls to jerk off and ease some of the tension that wasn’t subsiding despite their activities earlier.

It was Clara. She made him burn in a way that was wild and rare and he wanted to capture this feeling and keep it forever.

“Tell me. Say it. Beg for it and I’ll give it to you.”

October 7, 2011
Bold, blonde Defense Intelligence officer B. J. Chase isn't exactly thrilled when she's summoned from personal leave to investigate an alarming national security breach -- until the suspicious death of a government official blows her covert mission sky-high.

Gorgeous Black Ops bad boy Raphael Mendoza always feared his family's dark history would haunt him. But he never expected it might hold the key to dismantling a rogue weapons system. Now with cool B. J. Chase posing as his hot babe fiancée, he returns to his uncle in Colombia to convince him he can be trusted with the family's dirtiest business secrets.

Carrying out a deception among ruthless killers brings Rafe and B.J. too close to ignore the smoldering heat between them. Now, they must work together as the closest of partners as the countdown to international catastrophe closes in....

Author: Cindy Gerard
Series: Black Ops Inc, book 4
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Pocket Books
Year of release: 2009, September 23
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Bought via The BookDepository

First line:
B.J Chase had worn her black tank top and khaki shorts for too many hours to count in the Venezuelan climate, where the heat and humidity were often measured in terms of ripe, riper and for God's sake, take a shower."

Memorable Scenes:
Once again review notes with no memorable scenes written down. I’m sure this is because I read this book on vacation in June. I have very little review notes to go on as it is… I suspect I was too immersed in the story while basking in the sunshine to take the time to write extensive notes. And believe me, I am now fiercely regretting that.

B.J. Chase is headstrong, tenacious and a spitfire. She’s also sarcastic, self-reliant and sharp. She’s weary of friendships and trusting others, which made her seem cold-hearted and a tough cookie but deep down there’s vulnerability to her despite her hard-ass attitude. She has this one-of-the-guys vibe about her, which she pulls of splendidly with the BOIs.

Raphael 'Rafe' Mendoza has had a tough childhood but instead of falling into the lure of crime, he’s sided with the good guys. Rafe is smooth and charming but don’t let that fool you because he is also commanding and direct. He is intriguing because there’s so much more to him than meets the eye. And I have a soft spot for Latino heroes (especially when they start spewing the Spanish endearments *melts*) so Rafe had me at ‘hola’!

If there’s a romantic suspense author who never fails to please me with her books (especially the ones in this series) in both romance and suspense, it’s Cindy Gerard. In FEEL THE HEAT the plot takes you from Venezuela to the US, to Colombia and back to the US in the span of almost 400 pages and I loved the trip. The plot is that there’s a suspected traitor at NSA and B.J. is sent in to uncover it. When they discover Rafe's family might be an in, Rafe and B.J. go in undercover posing as an engaged couple.

In FEEL THE HEAT I was treated to not one but two romances and I loved both. The primary romance was hot and sizzling with restraint chemistry. BJ and Rafe start out on a bit of the wrong foot but the attraction between them in undeniable and inevitable. Their romance sizzled and having to play an engaged couple under the scrutinizing eyes of Rafe’s family absolutely contributed to the sensual tension between them.

I’m not going to say too much about the secondary romance because it would be too spoilery but it was sweet and endearing, a tentative testing of the waters before jumping in headfirst. I adore Cindy Gerard for giving me these lovely multiple romances in one book that never get in each other’s way but rather complement one another.

FEEL THE HEAT is another installment in this series that is was awesome to read. It had all the things I like of this series and in my romantic suspense reads: the heat, the action, the great characters, the camaraderie among the BOIs, the glimpses of the former couples, the introduction of new intriguing secondary characters and a suspense plot that was tight.

If you’re looking for something fast-paced, action-packed and sizzling hot, you can’t go wrong with this 4th installment of the BOIs.

Favorite Quotes:
This guy had the look –they all did– the skills, and the “no one can touch me” attitude. And if not CIA, then a close equivalent: badasses with a license to kill, thrill and wreak havoc wherever they decided havoc needed to be wreaked.

Her scent lingered. So did the mental image of her standing where he was now standing, naked under the shower spray with clouds of steam fogging up the small room.
Het got hard just thinking about it. So hard that he ached. Hard. For an ice princess who would rather have busted his balls than, well, than do other, much more pleasurable things involving those same balls.

When he backed her up against the wall and pressed his hips deeper into her she made a sound in her throat that damn near buckled his knees.
It was a sound of total submission, without restrictions. A sound of pleasure and invitation and of a longing so desperate and demanding it stole his breath.

“All right, cara. I’ll respect your boundaries.”
She eyed him warily. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. But so you know, when we get out of this, if we get out of this. I’m going to blow so many holes in that wall you’ve built around your heart that you’ll have no choice but to let me in.”

Since these guys never did anything halfway, they’d all shown up dressed to the nines. In camo and face black they were imposing. In jeans and T-shirts they were hot. But in white tie and black tux, the lot of them were beyond description.

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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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