Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wicked Beat by Olivia Cunning

Olivia Cunning delivers the perfect blend of steamy sex, heartwarming romance, and a wicked sense of humor in her wildly popular erotic romance series, The Sinners on Tour. Wicked Beat, fifth in this racy rock 'n' roll series, is the hottest yet.

From the moment he lays eyes on Sinners' new soundboard operator, drummer Eric Sticks is completely smitten. Rebekah Blake loves the uninhibited fun she's having and thrives on Eric's daring in the bedroom, but she's got good reasons for not committing. Through role play, voyeuristic games, and lots of sex talk, this pair of kinky lovers must overcome their inner demons to have the perfect relationship they both secretly desire.


I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that Olivia Cunning is probably not for me. I really liked the premise of this story, and combined with all the good things I'd heard about this series in the blogosphere, I figured it'd be a slam dunk for sexy fun times with a HEA. Unfortunately I couldn't find it in me to really connect to either of these characters. 

I'll try not to be spoilery, but Rebekah's focus on whether she was 'broken' or 'weird' came off as too whiney for me most of them and her initial antics with both Trey and Eric seemed destined for hurt feelings. The two find their way back to each other with some pretty hot help from Trey but then things just kept going - and going, and coming, and going until I just didn't understand why the story wasn't finished. I also felt like a couple of the most important supporting characters, Issac (Reb's ex-boyrfriend) and Rebekah's mom, weren't fully fleshed out as individuals nor their actions adequately addressed by the people they harmed.

I think for someone who's looking for a story where the bedroom antics come first and the rest of the story second, then this book would work for you, but personally it's not my style. 

Overall Feeling - C-

Series - 1) Backstage Pass 2) Rock Hard 3) Hot Ticket 4) Wicked Beat 5) Double Time

*Title requested from NetGalley*

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing by Tielle St. Clare

Blinded by a crazed doctor, Reese knows he has no chance of ever finding a mate...what good is a blind werewolf to anyone? But when an accident puts him in the path of a sexy veterinarian, Reese can’t control his wolf’s desire to have the lovely human.

Kieve couldn’t be more surprised when a neighbor brings him an injured wolf. It only takes a few minutes to realize the affectionate animal is someone’s pet and not a wild creature. While he searches for the animal’s owners, he begins having the strangest dreams—a hot sexy man in his bed, making love to him, and then turning into the pretty wolf right before his eyes. It’s clearly a sign he needs to get laid.

Reese tries to stay away from Kieve. It wouldn’t take much for his wolf to imprint on the delicious doctor. But Reese’s past isn’t finished with him yet and if he doesn’t find a way to deal with it, he’ll have no future with Kieve.

So after finishing Let Sleeping Wolves Lie I just had to buy A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing. Even though he hadn't been at the center of the last book Reese was intriguing, the blind werewolf who refuses to bottom to anyone, and I wanted to learn more about his backstory while he found his HEA. I think though that it was exactly his backstory that made this book not quite as good as the last for me- there's just so much going on that it's hard to tackle it all in a format as short as this. Reese has a lot of violence and abuse in his past, due to his time in captivity by a crazy scientist, and when people start popping back up from it he's forced to deal with it all incredibly rapidly.

Now that's not to say Kieve doesn't do as much as he can to help. I applaud Clare for writing a hero that works to not only respect Reese's boundaries and soft spots, but to push them when needed, in ways that only Reese can say are appropriate. Communication is an even bigger necessity than in Wolves but I would have liked more pages to really explore the emotional ramifications of sustained sexual and physical abuse. It would probably not have been as 'fun' to read as steamy eroticas usually are, but I think it would have been truthful to Reeses's history and his future with Kieve.

Overall Feeling - B-

Series - 1) Let Sleeping Wolves Lie 2) A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan

Miss Jane Fairfield can't do anything right. When she's in company, she always says the wrong thing--and rather too much of it. No matter how costly they are, her gowns fall on the unfortunate side of fashion. Even her immense dowry can't save her from being an object of derision.

And that's precisely what she wants. She'll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.

Mr. Oliver Marshall has to do everything right. He's the bastard son of a duke, raised in humble circumstances--and he intends to give voice and power to the common people. If he makes one false step, he'll never get the chance to accomplish anything. He doesn't need to come to the rescue of the wrong woman. He certainly doesn't need to fall in love with her. But there's something about the lovely, courageous Jane that he can't resist...even though it could mean the ruin of them both.

I don't think I've read a historical quite like what Courtney Milan has crafted here with The Heiress Effect. When Jane and Oliver come into each other's lives there is so much malevolence - so many reasons and people determined to not only see each them fail, but be destroyed. It's a strange way to feel about a romance, let me tell you. 

As things slowly change and evolve between the two of them, even when they start to work together to face their enemies, it took a while for me to accept that things might actually work out ok for everyone. The turning point for each character, that moment when they realize their own strength after all that time of feeling helpless, is really moving. I'm used to reading historicals about strong women and the alpha rakes who fall for them, but Jane and Oliver, while strong, are beaten down by life and finding the ability within themselves to overcome that and fall in love? It's really fantastic to read. 

Milan does a great job writing characters who are full of different facets and motives, who are moved to their actions because of a myriad of reasons. It makes Jane and Oliver's HEA that much more satisfying and I've love find out what happens next for The Brothers Sinister.

Overall Feeling - A-

Series - 1) The Duchess War 2) The Heiress Effect 3) The Countess Conspiracy 4) The Mistress Rebellion

*Title requested from NetGalley*

Monday, August 19, 2013

Let Sleeping Wolves Lie by Tielle St. Clare

When something tall, dark and yummy crosses Dex's threshold, his inner Omega wolf goes on full alert. Instinct tells Dex he's met his mate but the man seems less than thrilled at the prospect. And has totally suppressed his inner wolf.

Maddock has no intention of getting involved with any man, especially a little hottie who's a little nuts. The guy actually thinks he's a werewolf and that Maddock is one as well.

But resisting temptation is harder than he imagined. The full moon is on the rise and instinct can't be denied forever.

This can’t end well.

I haven't read a true erotic novel in what feels like forever and is anyone really surprised that the woman who got me to come back to it is Tielle St. Clare? She almost feels like a part of my youth, lol, since it was my time at Duke (stuck without a public library and far away from bookstores) that had me stumbling onto the Ellora's Cave website. I feel as if it's only Tielle St. Clare that can have me totally invested in a completely over the top gay werewolf and pair him with an 'only kinda sorta gay' werewolf who doesn't know he's a werewolf. Anybody confused yet?

Let Sleeping Wolves Lie is a quick, sexy erotica that has just enough emotion for me to make it believable. Maddock isn't perfect and even though his and Dex's bedroom antics are OFF THE CHARTS (seriously - o_O) that doesn't mean that magically they'll find the perfect partner in each other. Both have to admit to their feelings and work hard to become someone the other can connect with and ultimately that's what had me hooked (and invested enough to immediately buy book two).

Overall Feeling - B

Series - 1) Let Sleeping Wolves Lie 2) A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing
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Friday, August 16, 2013

*NEW* Excerpt: Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston

*From Shelly Laurenston's August 2013 Newsletter

Back Cover Copy: Livy Kowalski has no time for idiots.  When you shapeshift into a honey badger, getting through life’s irritants is a finely honed skill. Until she gets stuck housing her nutso cousin and dealing with her dad’s untimely and unexplained demise.

That’s where Vic Barinov comes in—or his house does. Vic can’t step outside without coming back to find Livy devouring his honey stash and getting the TV remote sticky. It gets his animal instincts all riled up. But he’ll have to woo her at high speed: all hell is breaking loose, and Livy is leading the charge…

EXCERPT: (Unedited/Unproofed)


Coming From Brava
April 2014

As always, Livy’s plans did not turn out as she’d hoped. Although she’d planned to be back in Manhattan the night of her father’s funeral or, at the very least, early morning after, she’d ended up staying another full day in Washington. Although she’d helped her mother contact the many life insurance companies so that she could lay claim to Damon’s money only because it meant her mother most likely wouldn’t bother Livy for the next few…years.

Her mother often forgot how annoying she found Livy until she had to spend some “quality” time with her only child. Then all those memories came flooding back and Livy didn’t have to worry about seeing her mother—or putting up with her—for ages.

And despite Livy’s suggestions that she leave, Toni insisted on staying. Which, in the end, was good. Because the woman knew how to get people through an airport as quickly as possible.

“Sit here,” Toni said, pushing Livy down by her shoulders so that she sat on the one piece of luggage she’d brought with her. “I’ll get a taxi and we’ll be out of here.”

Toni went off and Livy rested her elbow on her knee, her chin on her fist, and gazed off across the busy streets surrounding JFK Airport. As she waited, obscenely long legs and massive bodies began to march by her.

She didn’t move or anything, but she did notice the squealing girls and the crowd of people following the full-human males walking by. It was around that time she heard a low male voice bark, “I am not a football player. Now get out of my face.”

For the first time in days, Livy smiled. She couldn’t help it. What exactly did the man expect? He was seven feet and two inches tall. Nearly four hundred pounds. And even with that handsome face, wickedly sharp cheekbones, and dark brown and gold hair that hung in ragged layers almost to his shoulders—he was terrifying looking. Of course people thought he was on a national sports team. Their other option was murdering serial killer from a “Friday the 13th” movie.

Livy waited until Vic was a few steps from her before asking, “Hey, mister. Can I have your autograph?”

Snarling, Vic replied, “I am not a—Livy?” Vic stopped right in front of her, gazed at her. “What are you doing?”

“Selling my ass on the streets for a few bucks.”

“Times that tough?”

Thankfully, Vic had learned how to deal with what very few called Livy’s sense of “humor” not long after they’d met. Which was good because Livy really didn’t know how to not ask people strange, disorienting questions. As an artist, she found their confusion fascinating.

“Tough enough,” she replied. “Hi, Shen.”

“Hey, Livy. Like your hair.”

Livy smirked at Shen’s running joke. As a honey badger, she had black hair with the white streak off to the side while Shen, as a giant panda, had white hair with big swipes of black through it. He was also munching on that damn bamboo crap. With his fangs, he was clearly a predator. But for whatever reason, although they had the digestive system of carnivores, giant pandas ate bamboo. The problem was that pandas needed a lot of bamboo in order to survive. A lot. So every time Livy saw the man…he was eating.

Still, it was fun to watch him hang around poor Vic Barinov. The hybrid didn’t know what to do with the sweet, but sometimes chatty, six-foot panda who was nearly as wide as he was tall. Something else Livy and Shen had in common. Massive shoulders on relatively smaller human bodies than most shifters were used to. Oh. And they were both Asian. Well, as Jake liked to say, “Livy is half Asian, half Polish and allllll honey badger!”

Livy, however, had much less in common with Vic, but they’d worked together once when helping Toni rescue her baby brother from Delilah’s cult.

“Before we go any further,” Vic said to Livy, “my house?” 

“What about it?”

Vic raised an eyebrow.

Livy rolled her eyes. “I haven’t been back since the last time you threw me out.”

“I didn’t throw you out. I asked you nicely to leave so I could call the contractor to fix all the holes you’d put into it.”

“I had to get inside, didn’t I?”

“But you have your own place.”

“I ran out of honey.”

“So you came all the way out to Westchester for honey?”

“You have really good honey.”

Vic blew out a breath. “Just tell me if I’ll be facing holes when I get home.”

“No holes.”

“Do I have any honey left?”

“Yes. You have honey left.”

“I don’t know why I’m getting the tone. You’re the one who keeps eating all my honey.”

Livy smirked. “When you have rum-infused honey in your cabinets—you’re asking for it.”

That made Vic smile, something he didn’t do very often. Then again…neither did she.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Winning Season by Alison Packard

Kelly Maxwell has finally landed her dream job as publicist for the San Francisco Blaze. But the team's newest member, handsome bad boy catcher Matt Scanlon, is refusing every interview. She's got to get him to open up before the season ends, or she may not be back next year. And after everything she overcame to achieve her dream, Kelly's not about to let that happen.

Matt Scanlon just wants to be left alone to rebuild his life and his career. After a year of masking the pain of a recent loss with hard partying and fast women, he finally hit rock bottom and was traded to a team he's loathed his entire life—a team with little to no chance at the post-season.

Butting heads is getting Kelly and Matt nowhere but annoyed, and with the team's schedule on the road, they can't avoid close quarters—or their surprising attraction to one another. As the season winds down, Matt finds his growing feelings for Kelly have brought his numbed emotions back to life. But when betrayal shatters their fragile trust, winning it all seems more impossible than ever.


I haven't read such a fun 'enemies to lovers' romance in a while - Kelly and Matt have reasons for their animosity, though I guess Kelly has a bit of a stronger case, so when they're forced back to face to face by work circumstances the sparks are immediate. Kelly isn't a woman who'll just back down from Matt's attitude - she gives as good as she gets and even when Matt starts to act like less of an asshole she still doesn't let him forget his past actions. Their relationship evolves very honestly, such that when kisses and sexy times start happening it doesn't feel inconsistent with who they are as individuals.

Balanced out by friends and family as interesting supporting characters, The Winning Season is a romance about redemption and overcoming the kind of emotional devastation that never really leaves you. I recommend it as a stand alone, because even when Kelly's sister has page time (the heroine from Love in the Afternoon) you don't really feel like you're missing anything.

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - 1) Love in the Afternoon 2) The Winning Season

*Title requested from NetGalley*
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Monday, August 12, 2013

Her Favorite Temptation by Sarah Mayberry

Two people facing crossroads in their lives discover friendship and love in this touching novella by fan favorite Harlequin Superromance author Sarah Mayberry.

Leah Mathews has always been the good sister, the favored one who could do no wrong. But as her thirtieth birthday looms, she's ready to step out of her parents' shadow and make changes in her life. Shes even more inspired by the sexy musician who moves in next door and his seize-the-day attitude. And tempted to take comfort in his arms...

Will Jones is facing the prospect of losing the career he loves--and possibly his life--to a sudden illness. When he meets Leah, he feels a powerful connection to her, and flirting with a smart, beautiful woman seems like the perfect way to spend the weeks before his risky operation.

But as their relationship heats up, Leah still doesn't know the truth about Will's situation. Will their bond be strong enough to face the challenges yet to come?

I've never read a book by Sarah Mayberry before but when Dear Author speaks highly of someone's work (and it's available for free on Amazon) I figure that it's good enough of a reason for me to try it - especially when it's a genre I already enjoy. Her Favorite Temptation is a fast, familiar read with two people who don't know quite what to do with their own lives or their sudden feelings for each other. It's one of those few titles where deliberate deceptions (a couple of them in fact) don't entirely derail the romance; there are very good reasons for why Will doesn't tell Leah exactly who he is and they work here. Leah is smart enough that even though she's hurt initially she's willing to listen to his reasons and ultimately be his rock when his mysterious illness starts to have real life effects.

It's a good all around heart-warming type of romance, and while I wouldn't say there are any big surprises the feelings between Leah and Will feel real and their HEA authentic to what they're both dealing with, health and family wise.

Overall Feeling - B

Series - 1) Her Favorite Temptation 2) Her Favorite Rival (Sept 2013)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Stone Guardian by Danielle Monsch

Gryphons flying past skyscrapers? Wizards battling it out in coffeehouses? Women riding motorcycles with large swords strapped to their backs? All normal sights since the Great Collision happened twenty-six years ago.

Well, not normal for everyone. Larissa Miller may have been born after the Great Collision, but as a history teacher who lives in the human-only city, she has never come into contact with any other race or species, nor has she wanted to. Her life is as ordinary as it gets - that is, until one day she walks out of her apartment and is attacked by a mob of Zombies, only to be saved by a Gargoyle.

Gargoyles trust no one outside their Clan, but due to a cryptic prophecy, Terak, Leader of the Gargoyles, has been watching over the human woman for months. While he can find no reason why the woman has been singled out, something about her stirs every protective instinct within him. When the attack confirms that the threats against her exist and are real, he convinces Larissa that though their races have never been allies, the best chance of discovering why she has been brought into his world is by working together.

In the course of their investigation Terak becomes entranced by his little human. But when he discovers why Necromancers want her and the great reward that awaits him if he betrays her, he must choose between the welfare of his Clan and not only Larissa’s life, but the fate of this New Realm as well.

After finishing Magic Rises I was still on a bit of an urban fantasy kick so Stone Guardian was a welcome addition to my 'new series' to watch list. Even though Monsch doesn't come out with something shocking or world altering here, she has crafted a very entertaining story with main characters that you care about. 

Larissa can't think of any reason why she'd be the target of so many paranormal beings all of a sudden but to Gargoyle Terak it doesn't matter - he's going to protect her no matter what (and not let his feelings get in the way! Argh! Manly!). When circumstances force the two to introduce themselves the result is both logical sparks filled; Larissa doesn't magically acquire fighting skills or the ability to turn people into flowers, she has to lean on Terak for his battle prowess and from that he's able to enjoy the opportunity to be a kinder version of himself. When the two of them finally act on their attraction things heat up very quickly and while the ending is a little obvious (though maybe only to the people like me who've read an overabundance of paranormal romance) it was satisfying and definitely has me interested in finding out what happens next (Larissa has brothers! Shadow-y military type brothers! And bad guys with bad weapons! Count me in :) ). 

Overall Feeling - A-

Series - 1) Stone Guardian

*Title requested from NetGalley*

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

July in Review (is it Fall yet?)

It's so weird to me how a week can take forever to go by but suddenly I turn around it's August. AUGUST. I've been lamenting the heat for so long I think I can finally see Fall on the horizon and you know what that says to me? Blazers and sweaters and BOOTS - all the wardrobe pieces that have been relegated to the back of my closet because 100* temperatures and high levels of humidity.

Also - water gun fights in Central Park. It's a good thing.

Still Summer has been the season of some really great book releases and July was no exception. I've reconnected with the love I once had for Harlequin Presents titles (hey there Lucy Monroe!) and my favorite Urban Fantasy series had its first release in two years (I'm talking about you Ilona Andrews ;) ).  It's been a bit of an emotional whirlwind, but one that's left me upbeat and optimistic about what to pick next (don't hate on my for not catching up with the Peter V. Brett series ok? I'm still trying to get over reading the first one).

True Love by Jude Deveraux (A-)
Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Royal Treatment by MaryJanice Davidson
Royal Mess by MaryJanice Davidson
Kamikaze by Moira Rogers (Mini Me)
Marked by Elisabeth Naughton (B-)
Hunter's Season by Thea Harrison
The Wicked by Thea Harrison (B)
Hot as Hades by Alisha Rai
It's a boy! by Victoria Pade (C+)
Prince of Secrets by Lucy Monroe (A+)
Yours, Mine, and Howls by Kinsey W. Holley
Indexing by Seanan McGuire (A)
Never Deal With Dragons by Lorenda Christensen (C+)
Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews (A+)

And which lovely books should you make sure to pick up for yourself? Well they're both parts of series but I consider what comes before both these titles to be just as enjoyable: Prince of Secrets and Magic Rises!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

Atlanta is a city plagued by magical problems. Kate Daniels will fight to solve them—no matter the cost.

Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.

Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…


Ilona  Andrews writes a mean urban fantasy story. Six books in and even though Kate and Curran have mostly found their happily ever after, nothing has gotten stale. Their romance is imperfectly perfect, mostly because both of them are more than a little crazy and as such they can push each other's buttons pretty easily. In Magic Rises the external stressors on them become increasingly aggressive as they voluntarily place themselves in dangerous, violent situations on behalf of the most vulnerable in their pack, the young. You wouldn't think that two people choosing to put themselves into what they can already predict will be a trap to be so shocking and compelling, but Andrews knows how to pace the story and the overall arc of the series so well that almost nothing seems extraneous or misplaced. 

Magic Rises is an incredible installment in one of the very best series out there, Urban Fantasy or not. Even supporting characters shine in their work and readers come to care about their futures just as much as Kate and Curran's. Highly recommended (though please start from the beginning - it's worth it).

Overall Feeling - A+

Series - ... 4) Magic Bleeds 5) Magic Slays 6) Magic Rises 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Never Deal With Dragons by Lorenda Christensen

Consoling a sobbing dragon and serving pig buffets are just part of the job for Myrna Banks. Working for a mediation firm, it's her job to get humans compensated for damages caused by the dragons who now rule. But her "typical" day is interrupted by Trian Chobardan, an old flame who sneaked out of her bed two years ago, taking her heart and a handful of classified documents with him.

Myrna would love to show Trian the door, but he's been sent by North America's reigning dragon lord for help negotiating a truce with a powerful rival to avert war. Myrna agrees to help, even though she'll be stuck with Trian as a partner.

As the two work together, Myrna finds Trian to be surprisingly supportive—and still irresistibly attractive. Though her brain tells her not to forget his betrayal, her body feels differently. When they learn the enemy dragon lord is planning something no one could have imagined, Myrna has to learn who she can trust before she loses not only her heart, but her life.

I have to admit to being torn about this one. I'm not going to argue the semantics of whether I'd actually call this a romance or not, the world building and origin story Christensen created for the dragons is cool enough to stand on its own, but I think this book does make a good case for why endings are so damn important. I like Trian and Myrna - each of them have ambitions and loyalties and when those drive them apart it takes some honesty from them both to move forward. Spicy dialogue, a bit of bitterness, the dance the two of them play balances well with the dragon politics and terrorist plot. 


I can't stand it when good heroines go stupid. I don't want to delve too deep and risk spoilers, but when a heroine ignores obvious signs of deception and suspicious behavior in favor of the status quo it drives me crazy. Especially when, like here, there's been so much time spent showing how the heroine is strong and more competent than most of the people she works with. What purpose does this serve? I could tell immediately when things started going wrong and I expected Myrna to do the same - yeah we could say as the reader I have more knowledge with devious plots than she does but it still just felt like needless misdirection. 

Ultimately I felt like this was a good story that could have been better if the ending had gone down a different way.

Overall Feeling - C+

Series - None (at this time)

*Title requested from NetGalley*