Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Daniel's Decision by Nicole Flocton

Title: Daniel's Decision
Series: Emerald Springs #4
Author: Nicole Flocton
Published:  May 5/14 by Crimson Romance
Length:  165pgs
Format:   ecopy
Genre:  contemporary romance
Shelf:  review
Rating:   ★★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Meet Daniel, the fourth of five unforgettable characters in the Emerald Springs Legacy.

Life in the small town of Emerald Springs, Washington, is anything but slow and peaceful. An old feud between former business partners Whitman and Sanders keeps competition on a high burner, fueling resentment, renewing rivalries … and love. Now someone is trying to bring down Emerald Tea Farm, and it’s up to both families to protect their future while still wrangling over the past.

Daniel Whitman has a plan to turn their hospitality retreat into a high-end eco-friendly resort, but his father and brothers think the timing is wrong. Against family wishes, he heads off to Australia to an award-winning eco-spa to test their services. He is immediately attracted to marketing manager Rochelle Harris but pushes it aside to concentrate on discovering what has made this resort so successful.

Rochelle is a career woman, whose mother who frittered away every single penny her father earned, putting him into an early grave. Now Rochelle’s sole goal is to get to the top of her field and become financially secure so she won’t need to rely on anyone. What she doesn’t need is a sexy, attractive American distracting her from her plans.

The more time they spend together, the more the attraction grows. Then a disaster back home makes Daniel realize he has to step up to his responsibilities. But is Rochelle prepared to take the risk and relocate halfway around the world—and can Daniel open up and let someone be a true partner in his life?

My Review:

This was a brilliantly heart-warming novel. Flockton had me captivated with her intriguing storyline and wonderful scenery. Not only did I enjoy revisiting Emerald Springs, but I feel like I’ve been to Australia. Flockton`s well laid out plot draws you in, both to the romance at hand and to the story of Emerald Springs in general. The suspense in the series is really starting to ramp up with this instalment. Tensions run high and emotions get away from you. It all combines into a read that you won`t be able to put down (I devoured it in a couple of hours).

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Daniel much better in this instalment. He went from being the ‘brooding brother’ from the rest of the series to a very enjoyable character in his own right. I couldn’t help but feel for and understand him. And the female lead that he was paired with was the perfect counterpoint. The contrast and similarities between these two well-developed characters really draws you in to their world and their lives. I also enjoyed seeing their interactions with the rest of their families. As a supporting cast they rounded out this lifelike novel very well.

Overall, this is a must read novel for those who enjoy romance. I wouldn`t hesitate to recommend it, or this new to me author, to anyone.

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Riding Hard & Riding Home by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Title:  Riding Hard
Series:  Sons of Chance #15/Harlequin Blaze #808
Author:  Vicki Lewis Thompson
Published:  June 17/14 by Harlequin
Length:  224pgs
Format:   ecopy
Genre:  contemporary romance
Shelf:  Netgalley
Rating:  
★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Sometimes a cowboy needs a second chance…

Some mistakes can't be undone. After making the absolute worst decision of his life, horse veterinarian Drake Brewster will do whatever it takes to make amends with his best friend. And it starts with a summer at the Last Chance Ranch. But not everyone is thrilled about it…especially bartender and psych student Tracy Gibbons.

Tracy sees the world in shades of right and wrong—and what Drake did was Very Definitely Wrong. Worse yet, her promise to babysit a horse sanctuary means relying on Drake. And that's where Tracy finds herself in a serious dilemma. He's the one person she can't trust, but she wants Drake something fierce…and the feeling is fiercely mutual! But if she climbs into the saddle, will she be ready for the ride?

My Review:

Thompson has crafted a remarkable tale that combines self-reflection with hands on ranch action. Subtle meets vivid in her writing, creating a real life experience for the readers. Thompson actually uses symbolism throughout this novel to draw her readers towards certain conclusions or events without stating it outright. Oh, and the hat. Thompson killed me with the hat. It was absolutely priceless. And the symbolism was perfect. I also love how she alludes to previous events at Last Chance Ranch and in the surrounding areas without stating it outright. This allows readers to start reading at this instalment without losing a blink. It also adds a sense of nostalgia for returning readers.

I enjoyed every moment spent getting to know the characters that carry this story forward. Not only does Thompson develop them in the past and present, but we also see what they want for the future. The supporting cast gets little to no development within the pages of this novel. The assumption is that readers had met them previously. Even if you haven’t read about them in the past, you get to know them well enough to serve their roles in this story, especially since this story is focused almost solely on the main characters.

All in all, this scrumptious novel is a must read for all those who enjoy romance, cowboys, and some good old southern charm.

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Title:  Riding Home
Series:  Sons of Chance #16/Harlequin Blaze #807
Author:  Vicki Lewis Thompson
Published:  July 15/14 by Harlequin
Length:  224pgs
Format:   ecopy
Genre:  contemporary romance
Shelf:  Netgalley
Rating:  
★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Perfect is good.

Imperfect is even better…

City-slicker lawyer Jeannette Trenton is about as welcome at the Last Chance Ranch as a rattlesnake at a square dance. She's there to atone for one major mistake. But Jeannette's pretty sure righting her big wrong does not include thinking lustful thoughts about the ranch's new cowhand….

Zach Powell knows Jeannette's type—a wound-up-tight perfectionist with one eye on her email at all times. Heck, that used to be him. She needs to shake it loose, face her imperfections and allow herself to make mistakes. There's definitely no mistake about the wickedly sexy vibe between them. This gal is gonna have to "cowboy up"…or miss the ride of her life!

My Review:

This was definitely an intriguing love story. Thompson uses the age old city girl falls for country boy but throws in one heck of a twist. She also does so with a flair for life, and for second chances. She adds in a touch of heat and creates a winner. Thompson has a knack for storytelling that draws you into this captivating world & keeps you there throughout her intriguing tale.

The characters in this novel are quite unique. In spite of all of their similarities they are quite different individuals. Thompson develops them so seamlessly and fully that you feel that you know them personally. It makes it quite easy to get into the story. You feel like you’ve been invited into the family. These are such strong characters that they carry the story on their own. The supporting cast is an additional bonus.

Overall, this is the type of story that not only takes you on a joy ride & warms your heart, but also one that makes you think about your own life in a new life.

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Dirty Deeds by S.E. Jakes

Title:  Dirty Deeds
Series:  Dirty Deeds #1
Author:  S.E. Jakes
Published:  Jan 13/14 by Riptide Publishing
Length:  94pgs
Format:   ecopy
Genre:  m/m romantic suspense
Shelf:  netgalley
Rating:  
★★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Two seasoned operatives finally meet their match: each other.

Cillian works for the mysterious Special Branch 20: an organization that runs black ops commissioned by the British government. His specialty is deep undercover assignments with virtually no support. He’s been alone for so long that he no longer knows anything else.

Mal’s also used to being alone. Wanted in several states and even more countries, he’s not allowed in the vicinity of any of his former Navy SEAL teammates. And his current assignment is to track Cillian in order to discover the spook’s endgame. Except he’s no longer sure which one of them is getting played.

Cillian isn’t about to let the mission that’s consumed him for the past several years crumble because an outsider is poking around where he doesn’t belong. But Mal forces his way through Cillian’s defenses—and into his heart—exposing a devastating betrayal that could destroy them both.

My Review:

Dirty Deeds is a sinfully decadent read. This novella was hot & suspenseful while at the same time remaining fun & enjoyable. Jakes has a well written, approachable style that makes it easy for her readers to lose themselves in the pages of the story. She brings forward aspects of life that one rarely thinks of and wraps them up in an intensely gratifying suspense that will keep you on your toes. Jakes balances heat & power with vulnerability to create the perfect thrill.

I love how you get to know the main characters in the present with just hints at their path. They are both well developed with an air of mystery to them. I felt a connection with the main character right from the beginning of the story. His intensity increases the intensity of the story as a whole. Also, the fact that she places two alpha males together ramps up the storyline. They must balance who they are with each other alongside who they are by themselves.

It was a quick read that I couldn’t put down. One small word of warning, however. Jakes leaves us with a definite cliff-hanger (and one large book hangover) at the end of this one. So, as much as I’d qualify this as a must read, if you’re not a fan of cliff-hangers, I’d suggest waiting for the rest of the series to be released.

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Wild Ride by Juliette Jones

Title:  Wild Ride
Author:  Juliette Jones
Published:  Feb 21/14 by Juliette Jones
Length:  135pgs
Format:   ecopy
Genre:  erotic romance
Shelf:  review
Rating:  
★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

For Lacey Callihan, things couldn’t get much worse. She’s working a dead-end job, living with a dead-end boyfriend and stuck in a dead-end town. When Lacey’s boyfriend steals her life savings and hits her for questioning him, it’s the last straw. She skips town in her rust-heap of a car – which she can only pray will get her as far as Texas. And it does. Spluttering to a final stop just as she crosses the border. But when two ultra-hot cowboys pull up in their convertible red Mustang and offer her a ride, Lacey has a feeling her luck is about to change …

My Review:

This novella is well and thoughtfully written. Jones’ tone makes the story feel personal on many levels. She invites you into the story as if you were there with the main character. She creates an amazingly hot story that is also believable. Jones tells the story of these three individuals while allowing your imagination to run wild with the possibilities. I did, however, feel a bit disjointed in the epilogue. Don’t get me wrong, it was a brilliant wrap up to this fantastic tale, but the tone of the story changed drastically. It was enough to make me stop and do a double take.

The main characters in this novel were quite well developed for a novella. Jones lets you know them in the past and in the present. You can also see who these people see themselves as being, and how they see each other. This all melds together to give you a cohesive picture of these individuals. You also understand how they came together as a group. The supporting cast was minimal, but also not necessary to the plot. The characters that Jones developed suited their purpose perfectly.

Overall, this is definitely a story that lives up to its name. It is, without a doubt, a wild ride. I’d thoroughly recommend it to any who enjoy a quick, hot read.

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Monday, 21 July 2014

Guest Post with Sarah Daltry

Today, you all get to spend some time with Sarah Daltry.  Have fun and enjoy yourselves!

It might be because I have a background in theatre, but for me, a novel is an entire production. It’s about the story, but also the cover and the teasers and the trailer, and especially the title. I suppose it’s also my background in literature and poetry that makes me go for these artistic titles that don’t say much about the story, except symbolically, and thus lead people to pass by the books, because it doesn’t spell everything out in three words.

The series is called Flowering, so every piece of it is named for a flower. Except “Her Brother’s Best Friend.” It really started with that short erotic story, which is SHORT. It’s maybe eight pages, but people seemed to like it, so I thought… maybe there could be a novel here. There wasn’t. Not exactly. The novel I set out to write in Forget Me Not, which was a novel, then a novella, and then a novel again, was not what came out. From that novel, the series was born and, although I have some issues with my writing in that one, I feel like it, in a lot of ways, represents the series as well. My writing, like Lily, was immature. I have revised a bit, but it’s not my strongest work and I wonder if it hurts me when trying to market the series as a whole. However, I tend to feel like people who like the series understand its place in the series and I leave it at that. Lily isn’t perfect to readers, even though she’s been raised to be perfect, but that’s kind of the point of the book. She has no idea who or what she is – but she has to make all these choices and also is expected to know what she wants.

Forget Me Not is a flower, obviously, but it’s multifaceted as a title. Lily and Derek are at different schools and, at first, it’s a plea to him that he remember her. They were supposed to work as a couple. Of course, life isn’t that simple, is it? The other piece of the title I think is important is that it’s about remembering who you are. When Lily ends up with Jack, she’s in this whole whirlwind of a mess between the two guys (and it’s not cheating, for the record, as the conversation with Derek certainly could be read as a breakup or at least enough of a fight for her to see it that way). She ends up making a tough choice, which may not seem like much to people long past their college years, but the decision is that she’s going to pick herself. She’s going to figure herself out and I think the book is just as much about that – not forgetting who you are despite how everyone else sees you.

In Jack’s story, I chose Lily of the Valley, because first of all, you have Lily. She’s pretty important to the story! There is also the literal valley, at their secret spot toward the end of the book. Most importantly, though, the flower is a symbol of trust and second chances, which I think are key to the novel, and it’s also a symbol of kindness, something that Jack finds in Lily.

Star of Bethlehem brings to mind the holidays, and the story is set at New Year’s. It is also a symbol of hope and of reconciliation. In many ways, new conflicts arise during the novella, but at the end, Jack and Lily are still letting go of some of what has brought them pain and looking at a new start.

The orange blossom is recognized as a symbol of marriage and fidelity and, although the wedding doesn’t take place during Orange Blossom, the main question in the novel is whether a happily ever after will be possible for Jack and Lily, given the circumstances that surround them. And I think they both show their fidelity in the novel.

Ambrosia is reciprocal love and what better symbol for a wedding?

Finally, there’s Alana’s story – Blue Rose. A blue rose is rare and the flower symbolizes both mystery and love at first sight, two things that are somewhat relevant to Alana and Jack, but more significantly, the blue rose is the unattainable. For Jack and Alana, they are just too broken together to be able to be more than friends, and that is something that they both have to face. In addition, since they’re young and they both don’t really have much else in their lives, they don’t understand how love is not enough to heal them, but it’s because their love is something different. They are both looking for the impossible in the other – but in the end, they’re looking at the wrong person.


Anyway, the entire series is called Flowering, because it’s about growing. When we set out for college and into our adult lives, we are planting seeds, but it’s through experiences, through the people we come to know, and through love, that we not only grow as people, but that we grow into the people we hope and want to be as well.

About the author:


Sarah Daltry writes about the regular people who populate our lives. She's written works in various genres - romance, erotica, fantasy, horror. Genre isn't as important as telling a story about people and how their lives unfold. Sarah tends to focus on YA/NA characters but she's been known to shake it up. Most of her stories are about relationships - romantic, familial, friendly - because love and empathy are the foundation of life. It doesn't matter if the story is set in contemporary NY, historical Britain, or a fantasy world in the future - human beings are most interesting in the ways they interact with others. This is the principle behind all of Sarah's stories.

Sarah has spent most of her life in school, from her BA and MA in English and writing to teaching both at the high school and college level. She also loves studying art history and really anything because learning is fun.

When Sarah isn't writing, she tends to waste a lot of time checking Facebook for pictures of cats, shooting virtual zombies, and simply staring out the window.


About The Flowering:

Flowering is the story of Jack and Lily. They’re college kids with their own issues, who manage to find each other. What starts as physical attraction and sexual awakening becomes so much more. Jack is troubled, with a past that makes it hard for him to see the future. Lily comes from a perfect world where she’s expected to play the role she was given. When they’re together, though, Jack becomes someone even he cares for, and Lily becomes whole.

This series is about growing up, about “flowering” into the person you become. It’s also about love and how it starts with one chance encounter and turns into a lifetime. Jack and Lily don’t have it easy, but they have each other. They’re not billionaires or rock stars or undercover agents; they’re just college kids looking to be a little less alone in the world.

Now complete in one volume. Includes the short stories, "Her Brother's Best Friend" and "Morning Glory;" the novels, Forget Me Not, Lily of the Valley, Blue Rose, and Orange Blossom; and the novellas, Star of Bethlehem and Ambrosia.



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Hiding Places by Ellen Parker

Title:  Hiding Places
Author:  Ellen Parker
Published:  June 9/14 by Crimson Romance
Length:  183pgs
Format:   ecopy
Genre:  romantic suspense
Shelf:  review
Rating:  
★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Mona Smith’s plans to finish her culinary education are on hold and replaced with the need to economize and work hard. A warning from her brother -- a local drug kingpin intends to collect money she doesn’t have -- prompts her to flee Minneapolis with only the possessions she can fit into a backpack. At the airport baggage claim she begs a ride with a stranger, willing to risk time with an outsider over the drug dealer’s certain reputation.

Yesterday, Linc Dray was rejected by the final prospect on his list. Unless he’s legally married within thirteen days, he can’t inherit his grandfather’s farm. Years of work and dreams, including expanding a tiny apple orchard to commercial size, will be lost. When Mona sprints into his life pleading for protection and transportation, he hesitates. Is she a clever con artist or the solution to his dilemma?

Mona sees how Linc’s location and occupation offer her advantages … if only they didn’t come with a marriage proposal. A public marriage, he insists, for legalities and show. She requests two days to consider the deal.

The budding trust between Mona and Linc is tested when a renter on the farm is murdered. The obvious clues point to Linc. Can they prove the real killer framed him? And what are they going to do about the inconvenient emotions invading the marriage of convenience?

My Review:

Parker tells a tail that is light and entertaining with a good dose of ‘what will happen next.’ She draws you in with a believable yet unimaginable tale wrapped up in a solid yet inviting package. Her insightful yet fluid descriptions paint a vivid picture of the story, while adding to the action and forward pace.

The characters in this novel were quite the intriguing pair. Individually, they were your average man & woman. Sure they had some intriguing issues, but nothing to make them unreachable or unattainable. Together, however, they make quite the explosive pair. Getting to know them as they get to know each other gives you an intimate look at the ins and outs of their lives. The supporting cast is also perfect for the story. They give you further insight into the main characters, while also adding to the story.

This was a great introduction to Parker’s work. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others, or to pick up another one of her novels.

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16 Lighthouse Road by Debbie Macomber

Title: 16 Lighthouse Road
Series: Cedar Cove #1
Author: Debbie Macomber
Published: May 28th 2013 by Harlequin MIRA (first published January 1st 2001)
Length:  368pgs
Format:  ecopy
Genre:  contemporary romance
Shelf:  bought
Rating:  ★★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Olivia Lockhart
Cedar Cove, Washington

Dear Reader, You don't know me yet, but in a few hours that's going to change.

You see, I'm inviting you to my home and my town of Cedar Cove because I want you to meet my family, friends and neighbors. Come and hear their stories—maybe even their secrets!

I have to admit that my own secrets are pretty open. My marriage failed some years ago, and I have a rather…difficult relationship with my daughter, Justine. Then there's my mother, Charlotte, who has plenty of opinions and is always willing to share them.

Here's an example. I'm a family court judge and she likes to drop in on my courtroom. Recently I was hearing a divorce petition. In my mother's view, young Cecilia and Ian Randall hadn't tried hard enough to make their marriage work—and I actually agreed. So I rendered my judgment: Divorce Denied.

Well, you wouldn't believe the reaction! Thanks to an article by Jack Griffin, the editor of our local paper (and a man I wouldn't mind seeing more of), everyone's talking.

Cedar Cove—people love it and sometimes they leave it, but they never forget it!

See you soon…

Olivia

My Review:

What a vividly real story. Macomber develops this world with a downplayed vigour that draws you right into the heart of Cedar Cove. I also appreciate the fact that although this town is very well developed throughout this first novel of the series, Macomber doesn`t reveal all of its secrets, leaving more to be explored in future instalments of the series. Through this town she tells a brilliantly crafted tale that will go straight to your heart. Macomber evokes your imagination and your emotions throughout. By the end you are left with a sense of completion & happiness while still needing to return to the town of Cedar cove for yet another adventure, making this the perfect introduction to a series that stands out in the crowd.

Getting to know the characters in this town is priceless. Although there is a `main couple` who`s story we live alongside them, readers also get to know many other individuals from the town. Macomber`s cast is as varied as the town itself. You can`t help but be drawn to a favourite character and to try to insert yourselves in the lives of those you`ve come to know so well. (Yes, I definitely found myself trying to give individuals advice more than once). Macomber doesn`t simply develop her characters, but also the town itself. I love how the town of Cedar Cove becomes a character in its own right. It comes alive under Macomber`s careful tutelage.

This is a well written and solidly put together novel that will worm it`s way into your heart. The town and characters are absolutely unforgettable. This is a must read for romance enthusiasts.

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Sunday, 20 July 2014

Chemical Attraction by Christina Thompson


Title:  Chemical Attraction
Series:  Chemical Attraction #1
Author:  Christina Thompson
Published:  August 28th 2012 by 48fourteen
Length:  314pgs
Format:  ecopy
Genre:  thriller with romance
Shelf:  review
Rating:  ★★★★★


Blurb:

FBI Agent Joe Roberts wants that instant chemistry with a woman like the ones his sisters have with their husbands. After years of searching, he finds it with Dr. Madeline Pierce. The problem—she’s his contact on a dangerous case.

When Madeline discovers an extensive operation of meth production and distribution within her medical research facility, Joe goes undercover as her boyfriend to determine the degree of company involvement. They determine the meth is financing a volatile nano-drug.

The small West Michigan farming town is in turmoil over horrific animal attacks. Someone is experimenting outside the laboratory. Are human test subjects next? With the help of Joe’s sister Eva, who works at the local clinic, and her law enforcement husband, Joe and Madeline hunt for this new bio-weapon. Will they give in to temptation? She thinks he’s playing her like the men from her past. He needs to convince her otherwise.

My review:

Thompson has a natural writing style that somehow adds to the intensity of the story. She doesn’t employ any gimmicks other than good, old-fashioned storytelling in a modern light. She lays out her scenes in a very vivid and visual manner, allowing her audience to immerse themselves in the beauty of the scenes while being caught up in the suspense of the story. Thompson masterfully keeps her audience on their toes, taking them on twists and turns that you’d never imagine while keeping them fully and completely engaged in her exquisite story. And at the same time, steamy romance melds its way into the mix.

Thompson’s characters are off the hook as well. Although they are caught up in off the charts events they are also human. Family and humanity reign in this novel, while each character still remains true to themselves. Somehow Thompson shows how her characters are able to go above and beyond without ever betraying what makes them intrinsically themselves. Now, that isn’t to say that all of her characters are stellar citizens. There is also a very strong representation of the darker side of life. These characters are developed in such a manner that they send chills down your spine. I’ll never be able to look at a man with a red tie the same way again.

Overall, this was a fast paced and suspenseful novel that kept me on my toes throughout. It was a brilliant introduction to Thompson’s writing that has definitely sparked me to read more of her work. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one to anyone.

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About the author:

Christina Thompson, a retired acupuncturist, enjoys writing about the physical science, the emotional workings of our mind and heart, and the spiritual energy that taps into our passions.

Her degree in biology from Nazareth College in Kalamazoo gave her a love of science and a background into the physical realm of the body. Her diploma in Traditional Chinese acupuncture from Midwest College of Oriental Medicine taught her that the mind and spirit affect the body in powerful ways.

She teaches at the Reflexions Plus Holistic Center on many topics including massage therapy, acupuncture, Feng Shui as well as other modalities of Chinese medicine. She currently resides with her husband, Kraig, in West Michigan.

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Her Vengeful Scot by Christina Phillips

Title:  Her Vengeful Scot
Series:  Highland Warrior Chronicles #2
Author:  Christina Phillips
Published:  July 4/14 by Ellora's Cave
Length:  252pgs
Format:   ecopy
Genre:  historical romance
Shelf:  review
Rating:  
★★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

To avenge his sister’s honor, he must destroy the woman he wants most in the world…

Ordered to remain in Pictland, Cameron MacNeil fights the lust that consumes him whenever he encounters the aloof princess, Elise. Not only is she a cursed Pict, she belongs to the man he has vowed vengeance upon.

Despite her reputation, Elise has no interest in men until she meets Cameron. Lacking the famed Scots charm, his blunt ways enchant her and he ignites a passion she long thought dead. When she is freed from her difficult marriage, Elise places her trust in the tough Scot warrior who has stolen her heart.

Bound by blood oaths, the only way Cam can protect Elise from political schemes is to make her his bride. When Elise discovers the truth, she fears everything she knew about her husband was a lie. All she can do is trust her goddess was right and Cameron is her one true love.

My Review:

This novel is emotional and heartfelt. Phillips invites you in to the world of long-ago and masterfully tells a gripping tale of love, loss, and forever. The eloquence of her descriptions provides a fascinating look at life in the Pictish cort. There is a mysticism that pervades the story as a whole, enchanting you. Phillips combines all of this in an intriguing package, telling a story that stands for all times. 

Watching Cam getting knocked from his ‘holier than thou’ perch into the realm of reality was priceless. And my heart definitely went out to Elise. Getting to know these two characters so intimately, after having known them only on the surface in the first novel of the series was amazing. Phillips digs right down to the core of who they are and what makes them tick. I enjoyed understanding what makes them tick and where their public facades come from. They were both a case of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. These characters really made the story for me.

Phillips’ evocative writing style will draw you back in time and take you on the ride of a lifetime. I would definitely recommend it to romance enthusiasts.

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Forbidden Falls by Robyn Carr

Title:  Forbidden Falls
Series:  Virgin River #9
Author:  Robyn Carr
Published:  December 20, 2009 by Harlequin Mira
Length:  371pgs
Format:   paperback
Genre:  contemporary romance
Shelf:  bought
Rating:  
★★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

VIRGIN RIVER IS ABUZZ WITH THE NEWS THAT A STRANGER BOUGHT THE TOWN'S ABANDONED CHURCH ON EBAY. THE BUYER, A YOUNG WIDOWED REVEREND, IS A LITTLE LIKE THE BUILDING ITSELF: IN NEED OF SOME TENDER LOVING CARE.

Noah Kincaid arrives ready to roll up his sleeves and revitalize his new purchase, but he's going to need some help. An ad in the local paper brings and improbably candidate his way.

"Pastor's assistant" is not a phrase that springs to mind when Noah meets brassy, beautiful Ellie Baldwin. With her colorful clothes and even more colorful past, Ellie needs a respectable job so she can regain custody of her children. Noah can't help but admire her spunk and determination, and she may just be the breath of fresh air he needs.

The unlikely duo may come from two different worlds, but they have more in common than anyone would have expected. And in Virgin River lasting happiness is never out of the question.

My Review:

What a uniquely priceless premise for a novel. It`s not something I could have dreamt up in my wildest dreams but Carr definitely makes it work. She melds romance with suspense, real life with possibilities. She creates an unforgettable story that I couldn’t put down. Carr takes this unique novel and places it in a town like none other. Carr’s intricately visual descriptions allow you to walk through this town alongside everyone. Sure, on the surface it’s a small town, but the people in it bring it to life.

I love how natural all of the characters in this novel are. They`re not necessarily your run-of-the-mill characters, but they`re definitely real and the type of people you feel like you could get to know. There are so many intertwining stories in this novel. Carr develops the entire town, not simply a couple. And as a reader, you come to love all of them.

Honestly, if I had a peeve with this novel it would be the length of the chapters. I hate putting a book down in the middle of a chapter and Carr tends to write with rather long chapters, making it difficult for me to find a place to put the novel down, but easy to read it in little more than one sitting.

As a whole, this was a brilliant tale that drew me right back into Virgin River. Carr masterfully weaves the tales of this community together into one, unforgettable whole.

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Saturday, 19 July 2014

Shadow of Temptation by Jessie Donovan

Title:  Shadow of Temptation
Series:  Asylum for Magical Threats # 2.5
Author:  Jessie Donovan
Published:  May 26/14
Length:  131pgs
Format:   ecopy
Genre:  paranormal romance
Shelf:  review
Rating:  
★★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

An undercover agent about to crack…

Two years of living a double-life has taken a toll on Sabrina Ono, but if she plays her cards right, her assignment should be finished within the week. However, just as she starts planning her final moves, a man she once called friend shows up wanting revenge.

A man with an unusual power…

Jorge Salazar is a Shadow-Shifter. After being forced to work for a sociopath for nine months, he strikes a deal to escape, but there’s a price for his freedom—he must capture the leader of a Feiru terrorist group and turn him in. Unfortunately, the only person who can help him succeed is the woman who not only betrayed his biggest secret, but also broke his heart.

As the pair work against the clock to bring down the terrorist group and save another group of innocents from dying, an unexpected attraction builds. Will Sabrina and Jorge’s secrets be too much to overcome, or will their feelings be able to heal past wrongs?

My Review:

Donovan’s upbeat and fast acting writing style draws you in to this novella right from the first page. There is a dark undercurrent to the entire story. It not only highlights the plot and action of the story, but also draws you towards the main characters and how they view themselves. Donovan’s use of acronyms and agents speaking in code really make you feel like you’re in the middle of a secret op.

Donovan’s characters are so inviting that you feel as if you’re part of their lives. Both the recurring characters and the new ones spark your interest as well as your compassion, and sometimes your ire. I also appreciate how they are more than human, but strive to be themselves. Family and friends are intensely important to everyone, and Donovan makes you feel like you belong. And I mean, honestly, how can you not love a cameo from Neena?

Overall, this was a fantastic addition to the series. I loved getting to know the characters better, as well as DEFEND. This is a phenomenal read for anyone who enjoys the supernatural but wants a bit of a different take on the subject.

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Love and Shenanigans by Zara Keane

Title:  Love and Shenanigans
Series:  Ballybeg #1
Author:  Zara Keane
Published:  May 17/14 by Beaverstone Press LLC
Length:  376pgs
Format:   ecopy
Genre:  contemporary romance
Shelf:  review
Rating:  
★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Vows in Vegas...True Love in Ireland.
Three days before leaving Ireland on the adventure of a lifetime, Fiona Byrne returns to her small Irish hometown to attend the family wedding from hell. When she discovers the drunken vows she exchanged with the groom during a wild Las Vegas trip eight years previously mean they're legally married, her future plans ricochet out of control. Can she untangle herself from the man who broke her heart so long ago? Does she even want to?

Gavin Maguire's life is low on drama, high on stability, and free of pets. But Gavin hadn't reckoned on Fiona blasting back into his life and crashing his wedding. In the space of twenty-four hours, he loses a fiancée and a job, and gains a wife and a labradoodle. Can he salvage his bland-but-stable life? More importantly, can he resist losing his heart to Fiona all over again?

WARNING: This book features a crashed wedding, a labradoodle with attitude, sexy times, and love and laughter, Irish-style.

My Review:

Keane had me laughing from the first page to the very last. She also works some very heartfelt and touching moments into this remarkably unique tale. Her writing style is smooth and the story flows steadily forward. The storyline itself was captivating and unique. She had me guessing throughout. I appreciate the fact that, although definitely one of a kind, the romance within the story was genuine, even if it was just as off kilter as the characters themselves.

The main characters in this novel are absolutely priceless. They definitely drive the story. They were easy to get to know and easy to connect with. I appreciate how the author shows both sides of the story. Having the ‘inside scoop’ from each of them heightens the excitement and enjoyment of the tale. I appreciate the fact that the main characters are down to earth. The fact that they are surrounded by individuals from all walks of life, connected by the small town they grew up in adds to the fun of the story.

Family, friends, hardship, and lore all make an appearance in this loveable & captivating novel. It was a phenomenal read that I would recommend to those who enjoy second chance romances. I know I certainly did. I cannot wait to read the second novel in this series.

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Promo Blitz ~*~ Time of Possession by Jami Davenport

Time of Possession - Week Blitz
By Jami Davenport
Seattle Lumberjacks #5
Contemporary Romance
Date Published: June 30, 2014

CRUNCH TIME

Supposedly undersized for the NFL, Brett Gunnels went off to do a stint in the US Army right out of high school. Returning damaged yet stronger and more determined than ever to prove himself, he was picked last in the draft. Mr. Irrelevant, they called him. The last few years as a backup quarterback have given him no opportunity to compete for the starting job. That’s why he has a chip on his shoulder the size of Puget Sound.

Estelle Harris is engaged to a man she doesn't love, working a job she hates, and fooling everyone including herself in the process. Her love of animals is the only thing that gives her purpose—a love she shares the Lumberjacks’ reclusive quarterback. And then their mutual friendship turns a hot, dark, forbidden corner and there's no going back.

True love is like football. It’s not always how long you have the ball. It’s what you do when you get it.

About the Author: Jami Davenport

An advocate of happy endings, Jami Davenport writes sexy romantic comedy, sports hero romances, and equestrian fiction. Jami lives on a small farm near Puget Sound with her Green Beret-turned-plumber husband, a Newfoundland cross with a tennis ball fetish, a prince disguised as an orange tabby cat, and an opinionated Hanoverian mare.

Jami works in IT for her day job and is a former high school business teacher and dressage rider. In her spare time, she maintains her small farm and socializes whenever the opportunity presents itself. An avid boater, Jami has spent countless hours in the San Juan Islands, a common setting in her books. In her opinion, it is the most beautiful place on earth.


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Friday, 18 July 2014

Blind Redemption by Violetta Rand


Title:  Blind Redemption
Series:  Blind #3
Author:  Violetta Rand
Published:  June 25/14
Length:  200pgs
Format:  Ecopy
Genre:  Historical Romance
Shelf:  review
Rating:  ★★★★★

Blurb:

The past is something he’d sooner forget…

Aaron McNally hates his past. Banished from his home for betrayal, he trades his tartan for a Norwegian title and sword to win back his honor.

She has a warrior’s heart…

It’s difficult for Kara Dalgaard to act like a lady, even when her father demands it. After the handsome Jarl Aaron McNally arrives at her home recruiting for the king’s army, she’s forced to participate in a cruel deception to humiliate him.

Drawn to his strength and passion, she quickly regrets what she’s done. But duty comes before happiness.

Aaron wants a second chance at life—and Kara is everything he’s dreamed of. But the past always has a way of catching up with you. Will Kara trust him or condemn him to a life of loneliness?

Excerpt:

When Kara entered the water, her toes curled. It was freezing. There was a flash of amusement on her companion’s face as her teeth chattered uncontrollably. She swam several yards, then submerged herself, snorting and choking as she resurfaced. Water dribbled down her chin. Amelia wasn’t as adventurous and stayed close to the shoreline. Kara treaded water as she admired the dark woods across the lake. Nothing pleased her more than being outside. Free to explore, free to do as she wanted without her brothers harassing her. She thought she saw movement, but realized it was nothing more than flickering sunlight and shadows. The pleasure of the moment dominated her senses. Nothing could ruin it.

As she floated on her back half dozing, the thundering sound of approaching horses shattered her daydream. She twisted around and searched wildly for Amelia who disappeared into the woods. Kara rushed to reach the shore.

Please …

But before her feet hit land, six riders surrounded Amelia who was now standing at the edge of the forest. Kara froze. She’d stupidly left her weapons by the horses. Now they had no chance of defending themselves or escaping. Two riders dismounted, striding toward her.

“Come out of the water,” the largest demanded.

Unwilling to shame herself by allowing these strangers to see her naked, she crouched in the shallow water. “Turn around first.”

“If you don’t comply, I’ll pluck you out like a wet rat.” There was nothing friendly about this man. His companions chuckled.

Silence ensued as everyone seemed to contemplate Kara’s next move. She’d not risk Amelia’s safety by disobeying. But, what if she could swim to the other side of the lake and find help? Without clothing or money? Never. Swallowing her pride, she looked up. The dark features of the man who demanded she come out scared her.

“Now,” he reminded. “If I wanted to rape you, you’d be on your back by now.”

She was trying not to overthink things, but failing miserably.

“Drit,” he yelled, then rushed her.

The moment his boots hit the lake, Kara filled her mouth with water, then shot up, spitting in his face. “Merciless beast.”

He wiped his cheek, his hot gaze sweeping over her body. She refused to tremble. Animals like him thrived on fear. Without warning, Amelia intervened. She ran to beach, offering her cloak.

“Put it on and I’ll rip it off you. Do as I bid, now, and get out of the water.” He glared at Amelia. “You, move.”

“I have a duty to my mistress.” Amelia jutted her chin.

“Stay out of my way. Challenge me again and I’ll punish you.” He shoved her to the ground and then grabbed a fistful of Kara’s hair. She struggled to free herself, only to be dragged to land, then into the forest next to her horses. The blanket and food Amelia had laid out was untouched. He pointed at the coverlet. “Sit.”

Kara obeyed. Fear filled her mind and heart. “Who are you?”

His dark eyes sparkled like a wildfire. “Erling Solheim, an avenging god, I assure you.”

“Devils aren’t gods.”

He slapped her face. “You’ll learn quickly enough that I have no patience for a sharp tongue. Do as I tell you or you’ll be bruised from head to toe before sunset. Understand?”

Kara nodded in comprehension.

“Where are your clothes?”

She pointed; her sword and shield were on the ground nearby. By Odin, she wished she had her weapon in her hands.

“Lying to me about your clothing? You need discipline already. Your gown, where is it?”

“I dressed as a boy for my protection.” She sucked her cheeks in.

He gave her a smug smile. “I believe you. You’re Erik the Bald’s daughter.”

Kara gasped. “How-”

“The trees have eyes and ears.”

“And atrocious manners …”


My Review:

Political and emotional turmoil run rampant throughout this captivating novel. Rand’s writing is subtly intense. She draws you back in time while painting this world before you in vivid Technicolor. I love the way that Rand looks at Norse mythology and how she works it into the story. She doesn’t stop to explain things to her readers but rather shows them via the actions of the characters. It all combines into an amazing trip back in time.

I love that the male lead is far from perfect and has a sordid past. At the same time, he knows it and is trying to get beyond it by working on who he is. His hot headedness leads to some entertaining moments and makes him an intriguing alpha-type lead. Combine this with a very opinionated, utterly uncouth warrior princess and you have the perfect cast for this tale.

This is definitely the best in the series so far. I fell in love with the characters, the land, and the story. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a historical romance, whether or not you’ve read the series. It can easily be read as a standalone, even if the background from the previous novels does give some extra context.

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About the author:

Violetta Rand holds a bachelor's degree in Environmental Policy and a master's degree in Environmental Management. Serving as an environmental scientist in the state of Alaska for over seven years, she enjoys the privilege of traveling to remote places few people have the opportunity to see.

Violetta has been "in love" with writing since childhood. Struck with an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, at five, she wrote short stories illustrated by her best friend and sold them in her neighborhood. The only thing she loves more than writing is her wonderful relationship with her husband, Jeff. She enjoys outdoor activities, reading whatever she can get her hands on, music, and losing herself in the worlds she enjoys bringing to life in the pages of her stories.

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Once Upon a Wager by Julie LeMense

Title:  Once Upon a Wager
Author:  Julie LeMense
Published:  May 12/14 by Crimson Romance
Length:  300pgs
Format:  ecopy
Genre:  historical romance
Shelf:  review
Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This is the best type of historical romance. LeMense takes her readers back in time in a most accurate & catching manner, rather than simply writing a modern story with an old date attached to it. The writing and the tone of the story match perfectly with the time period in question. I appreciate the fact that she didn’t jump right into said time period, but rather took the time to develop it. The story itself took me a bit to get into while the author set the tone & scene of the story. That said, once I was drawn in I could barely put the novel down. LeMense’s descriptions bring this story to life in vivid clarity. Her solid storyline kept me coming back for more. She is a brilliant storyteller, having me in fits of laughter and bouts of tears in turn.

LeMense develops the type of characters that you can easily picture. The major players in this story are solidly developed. One does not find holes in their development. More than once I found myself imagining being in the main character’s shoes. As much as I loved her, I regularly found myself wanting to yell at her, to exclaim that if she’d just listen…

Overall, this was a captivating novel that drew me back in time. It was a brilliant introduction to this author’s work that has me wanting to read more. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others.

My Review:

This is the best type of historical romance. LeMense takes her readers back in time in a most accurate & catching manner, rather than simply writing a modern story with an old date attached to it. The writing and the tone of the story match perfectly with the time period in question. I appreciate the fact that she didn’t jump right into said time period, but rather took the time to develop it. The story itself took me a bit to get into while the author set the tone & scene of the story. That said, once I was drawn in I could barely put the novel down. LeMense’s descriptions bring this story to life in vivid clarity. Her solid storyline kept me coming back for more. She is a brilliant storyteller, having me in fits of laughter and bouts of tears in turn.

LeMense develops the type of characters that you can easily picture. The major players in this story are solidly developed. One does not find holes in their development. More than once I found myself imagining being in the main character’s shoes. As much as I loved her, I regularly found myself wanting to yell at her, to exclaim that if she’d just listen…

Overall, this was a captivating novel that drew me back in time. It was a brilliant introduction to this author’s work that has me wanting to read more. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others.

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End Of The Innocence by Alessandra Torre

Title:  End Of The Innocence
Series:  Innocence #3
Author:   Alessandra Torre
Published:  Mar 23/14
Length:  276pgs
Format:  ecopy
Genre:  contemporary romance
Shelf:  review
Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

He thought I owned him. He thought he loved me, that I was enough. But this animal, this sex god who could drive me crazy and steal my heart in the same breath, he would never fully be mine. It was impossible. No one ever owned a God…

One year. I have one year to find out more about this man I am marrying. More about his family. More about our sex, and all of the dirty, delicious places it will take me.

I thought I’d spend this year making a decision. I never thought the decision would be taken from me, snatched right from my naive little hands.

Adult-content rating: This book contains content considered unsuitable for young readers 17 and under, and which may be offensive to some readers of all ages.

My Review:

This well written novel captured my imagination. Torre’s voice meshes perfectly with the storyline, keeping you focused on what’s happening and trying to guess what will happen next. Heat and suspense combine to create a uniquely racy read that I definitely enjoyed. The ending of this novel was definitely shocking. Torre writes a HEA that is far from typical. It is without a doubt a HEA, but it lacks the sense of ‘perfect’ that you find in so many romance novels. It is much more realistic. Also, the fact that the novel isn’t over in the blink of an eye add to this realism. It was definitely a quick, racy read but it also took place over the span of a year. The fact that the characters took their time in their relationship really brings it all home.

The flashbacks to previous encounters really draw you in and heighten the excitement of the story. They also give you a deeper insight into the main characters themselves. You really get to see and understand how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking in certain situations. But Torre’s character development doesn’t end there. She takes the characters we’ve come to know and love (or hate) in the first two novels of the series and continues to make them grow. Some characters change based on their experiences, others we just get to know in a much more rounded way. This widely varied cast combines to create an unforgettable extended family.

Overall this was a great ending to the series. It was bittersweet at times, suspenseful at others, and hot throughout.

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