Thursday, January 29, 2015

Review: Edged Blade (The Colbana Files) by J.C. Daniels

In the year since her life was torn apart, Kit Colbana has slowly rebuilt herself. There’s a promise of hope in the relationship with the alpha of the local shapeshifters and she no longer comes screaming into wakefulness. Life’s not perfect but then again, when was it ever?

When her best friend Justin comes to her for help, there’s little question as to what her answer will be. Witches are disappearing and Justin won’t rest until he has answers. Soon, they learn that it’s not just witches who’ve gone missing, but vampires and shifters, too.

Unlikely alliances are forged as Kit and Justin found themselves drawn into a twisted web of lies and betrayal. As the clock counts down and the culprit behind recent disappearances is revealed, those Kit loves the most become the target of somebody who will kill to protect an ugly secret.

Kit’s come a long way from the broken woman we saw now nearly a year after her attack. It’s been a slow road to recovery and while she’ll never be the same Kit, she’s getting pieces of herself back and that includes rebuilding her relationship with Damon, the alpha of the shapeshifter clan. She’s ready to be with him again, but he’s still cautious and, just one of the many reasons I enjoy Kit, she takes matters into her own hands. Maybe my favorite part of Edged Blade was seeing Kit and Damon reconnect completely and Kit being able to reclaim that part of her life again.

Kit’s best friend Justin needs her help and he provides the suspense storyline to Edged Blade, along with plenty of action. Non-humans (NH) of all kinds are going missing and the clues are pointing to some higher ups in the NH world and it shakes up the local groups when the truth comes out. I actually didn’t find this storyline, the NH’s going missing, to be all that captivating. It’s really just a setup for a longer, more drawn out storyline that will continue beyond this book. We get a fun, big reveal at the end of Edged Blade about a certain someone and J.C. Daniels has a way of leaving us always wanting more.

While the missing NH storyline wasn’t my favorite, I loved the personal and emotional progress Kit makes here. She’s facing her fears and for the first time really since her attack and capture at the hands of a demented vampire, she puts herself in the presence of other vampires. She even finds a tentative friendship of sorts with another vampire, one who knows all too well what she’s feeling as he too went through something similar. Kit always deals quite a bit with Justin, not only with this case but with his feelings for her that never went away. To Kit, he’s her best friend, but to Justin, Kit means so much more so not only is Kit dealing with her own emotions to everything going on around her, but she has to contend with Justin’s feelings as well. What I loved about all of this is she makes her feelings very clear. There’s no (frustrating) love triangle in the making, thank God! As I mentioned at the start, one of the aspects about this series that I really like and connect to is the relationship between Damon and Kit and it’s full steam ahead between these two now.

Edged Blade introduces us to a new suspense/big bad that has the potential to get really, really interesting in future books. The ending here leaves a lot more questions rather than giving us answers and I’m already anxious to get the next adventure for Kit and Company.

Rating: B

Release Date: February 3, 2015
J.C. Daniels: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
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*eARC provided by author for review* 


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy (Smythe-Smith #4) by Julia Quinn

Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can't be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family's infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She's the type of girl you don't notice until the second—or third—look, but there's something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she's the one.

Iris Smythe–Smith is used to being underestimated. With her pale hair and quiet, sly wit she tends to blend into the background, and she likes it that way. So when Richard Kenworthy demands an introduction, she is suspicious. He flirts, he charms, he gives every impression of a man falling in love, but she can't quite believe it's all true. When his proposal of marriage turns into a compromising position that forces the issue, she can't help thinking that he's hiding something . . . even as her heart tells her to say yes.

Richard Kenworthy needs a wife and fast. We don’t know why initially he’s in such a rush to get married. Only that he needs to quickly find the right kind of woman and he thinks he has in Iris Smythe-Smith. The fact that he sees her first at the annual (and still tragic) Smythe-Smith musical and he still wants to meet her should have warning bells going off all over the place. Iris is definitely skeptical and being someone who observes and notices everything, she knows right off that Richard isn’t telling her the truth. But he courts her and after a very short time asks her to marry him. When she asks for time, he kisses her knowing full well that they’ll be caught, they are, and now with Iris being compromised, she has no choice but to marry him. She leaves the only home she’s ever known for Richard’s estate and meets his two sisters, one of them being the reason for his hasty marriage.

I feel like the majority of the books I’ve read lately have me torn in one way or another and this is no exception. I adored Iris. She’s smart, witty and nothing gets past her. She may not be as outrageous as some of the other heroines we’ve come to know in this series, or as crazy as her sister Daisy is (who I love as well), but she’s still written in a way that had me feeling for her even knowing that whatever it is that Richard’s keeping a secret was going to crush her. When it does, my heart went out to her and above anything else, I wanted Iris to be happy, somehow, someway.

Richard, for as good of a guy he truly is, he still deceives Iris for much of the story. Sure he does it for what he believes to be a valid reason and he’s trying to be the best big brother and guardian to his two younger sisters that he can, but he still lies. His secret is also the reason that our hero and heroine don’t do much more than kiss and mess around for nearly the entire book. No actual sex until the last dying page (pretty much) of the book. I need more romance! More stolen moments! Just more! Because of that, I just never really believed that these two people fell in love. It’s not just the absence of sex, there just wasn’t a strong connection between them and that was mainly due to Richard keeping the real reason that he married Iris a secret for so long. He even goes so far as to admit that he didn’t marry her for love or any of the reasons he should have. The problem was, I never believed that he actually did fall in love with her, even after he declares it.

I was let down with this latest Smythe-Smith story. It lacked that fun/humorous factor that other books in this series have. Iris is fabulous and I enjoyed getting to know her. I just didn’t think that Richard was a worthy hero for her. Sure, I get that he’s trying to do right by his sister with his big marriage scheme, but being a great big brother doesn’t automatically make a great hero. The connection between Iris and Richard was lacking and I was left wanting more for them and their relationship.

Rating: C

Release Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Avon
Julia Quinn: Webpage | Facebook
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*eARC provided by publisher for review* 


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review: Playing Dirty (Bad Boys Undercover #1) by HelenKay Dimon

As an elite Alliance agent—the joint undercover operation of MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, and the CIA—Ford Decker lives for the adrenaline. But when he befriends sexy property manager Shay Alexander in hopes of finding her cousin, a known national security threat, Ford crosses the line, getting to know her better . . . in bed.

After being burned by her last relationship, Shay wants to take things slow. Yet she can't keep her hands off the drop-dead gorgeous hottie who's moved into her apartment building. So when Ford's identity as an undercover agent is exposed, his betrayal cuts deep. Shay never wants to see him again, but Ford can't let her go, not when her life is still in danger. He will sacrifice everything to protect her, then be prepared to walk away from the only woman he's ever loved, even if it breaks him.

Ford Decker is in the middle of a mission, to find vials of a substance that if released, will cause mass death and destruction. His target is a young man and Ford’s current mission is to get close to this guy’s cousin. He gets more than close to her, they start sleeping together after knowing each other a very short time. This happens off page however as we join their story a few weeks into their casual, but becoming more, relationship. Ford hates what he’s doing but the mission comes first.

Shay has been burned by an asshole boyfriend in the past. She knows she’s moving too fast with Ford, but the guy is irresistible and the sex is amazing, so she keeps on seeing him even though his unusual schedule as a “computer programmer” makes her raise an eyebrow, she doesn’t really think twice about it. She is worried about her missing cousin however and in her attempt to find him, she finds herself in the middle of danger when her cousin’s troubles and Ford’s mission come crashing down on her.

When a story starts out with the hero lying to the heroine and continually saying or thinking that he needs to come clean, he needs to tell her the truth, but holds back – I have a hard time buying in. This was the case here, especially when the lies continue through the majority of the book. Perhaps if Ford had come clean about who he really was and what he was doing a little sooner and let that play out more, it might have worked for me. But as it was, I just kept waiting for the big reveal and the blow up that was to come. It does, Shay’s hurt and for me, she gets over Ford’s deceit WAY too quickly.

So obviously the relationship portion didn’t work so well for me, the lies were hard to get past. But I did like getting to know this team of undercover agents. It’s a little confusing at first trying to keep track of who’s who and what their role is in the organization. I’m fine with that as it is a new series and things have to be setup. I liked all the different backgrounds of these men and women and the suspense portion of the book worked me. The story was interesting, the characters had my attention and I do look forward to seeing where Dimon takes the series from here.

For Ford and Shay, while they were interesting on their own, I really didn’t like how big a role Ford’s lies played throughout much of the story and as a result their relationship fell a bit flat. I do still find myself interested enough to want to see where this series goes and learn more about these men and women that make up this undercover Alliance.

Rating: C-

Release Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Avon
HelenKay Dimon: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
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*eARC provided by publisher for review* 


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Review: Nothing Between Us (Loving on the Edge #6) by Roni Loren

From the New York Times bestselling author of Need You Tonight comes a steamy Loving on the Edge novel that proves watching is only half the fun…

Unlike the heroine of her popular thriller series, Georgia Delaune can’t afford to take risks or push sexual boundaries—unless you count spying through her neighbor’s bedroom window, and never missing a single move he makes.

Colby Wilkes is more than willing to put on a show for the alluring woman next door. But his dominant side aches to show her the pleasures of submission up close. As a counselor, Colby is sensitive to Georgia’s fears. As a Dom at The Ranch, a private BDSM retreat, he’s the perfect teacher to unleash her passion.

But just as Georgia lowers her emotional barriers, an unexpected complication arrives: a bad boy musician from Colby’s past who adds fuel to her heated imagination. Now, the lonely author has two gorgeous men eager to fulfill every fantasy she’s ever written—and one she’s never dared to dream…

Georgia Delaune is hiding from a dangerous man, her ex-boyfriend, who she’s supposed to take the stand against during a trial that’s coming up. The big problem is, Georgia suffers from debilitating panic attacks brought on by her ex and his stalker behavior, which is just the tip of what he’s put Georgia through. She struggles to leave her house and for the past year, she hasn’t. She forces herself to go out and run errands once a week, but has to be medicated to do so. She can’t let anyone into her home, and she’s been living a very lonely, isolated life, stuck inside while the world lives around her. But, she’s found a way to live vicariously through her next door neighbor, Colby, by spying on him. Yes, she knows what she’s doing is horrible but when she realizes the type of sexual life that Colby’s living, she just can’t put the binoculars down. She’s also a writer and her books have taken on a steamier angle since she started spying on her sexy neighbor. While she thinks she’s being secretive, the reality is Colby knows exactly what she’s doing, and has been giving her a show for months. He’s had enough of their silent game and wants to get to know his neighbor on a much more personal level.

Colby is a counselor at an alternative high school and when one of the students he counseled tries to kill himself, everyone is quick to the throw the blame at Colby for not catching the signs. He’s not at fault, but it brings up things that happened in Colby’s past with another student when he was a teacher trying to help a teen, Adam Keats, come to terms with an abusive father, bullying at school and his sexuality. While no teacher/student lines were ever crossed, Adam left a suicide note, disappeared and once again, accusations were made painting Colby in a bad light. He left that job, went back to school to become a counselor and is now right back in a similar situation, being blamed for something that’s not his fault. Now on leave from his job, he has nothing but time and puts that time to use by getting to know Georgia better. What he didn’t expect was to randomly cross paths with the missing Adam Keats, who’s now 23 and barely getting by working day to day in construction and doesn’t have a place to call home. Colby takes him home and gives him some help whether Keats wants it or not and a lot of questions from the past come rushing forward. Keats is still confused about his sexuality, he’s straight, but being around Colby brings up a lot of feelings he’s not sure he wants to acknowledge. Colby too starts to realize that he’s feeling something more for Keats and it’s a struggle because he still sees him as his student even though they’re both older now. Toss into the mix Georgia who, even though she’s lived a solitary, single life for a year, is desperate to find the woman she once was. She’s attracted to both men, both men are attracted to her and to each other and they start a relationship that could either be the best thing any of them have ever found, or it could destroy them all.

I’m split on my feelings about this book. I really liked Georgia’s story and her struggle in dealing with her ex’s actions and how Colby and Keats help her get past her panic attacks and anxiety. She has great chemistry with both Keats and Colby, but I found myself more drawn toward her and Colby then I ever did with all three of them together. I also enjoyed Colby and seeing his own struggles with desperately wanting to get his job back and seeing how much helping the kids he works with means to him. What I had a hard time with was Keats and his past relationship with Colby.

Colby and Keats did nothing inappropriate when they were teacher/student. That’s made perfectly clear, but it was a relationship that I couldn’t get past when they started to act on their attraction to one another. I just couldn’t separate their previous relationship with the one they were trying to figure out in the present. I think a lot of that has to do with Colby and Georgia being in their 30s and Keats being 23. The age difference didn’t work for me here for some reason as it felt a lot bigger than maybe it really was. I just didn’t buy in that Keats, even though he comes across as a mature 23 year old, would really “fit” in the relationship dynamic that plays out on page.

Ultimately, I’m torn about how I feel about Nothing Between Us. I’d say give it a read for Colby and Georgia’s story, not only their personal relationship but what they’re each dealing with outside the bedroom. Although Georgia’s storyline with her ex is a bit predictable, I got caught up in her own personal struggle in dealing with the trauma she went through. But I had a hard time buying into the triad relationship they have with Keats. He’s a sweet guy and an interesting character, but he just seemed too young and I couldn’t let the teacher/student relationship go.

Rating: C

Release Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Berkley
Roni Loren: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
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*eARC provided by publisher for review* 


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review: Broken Open (Hurley Brothers #2) by Lauren Dane

Beyond passion. And beyond their control…

Five years ago, Tuesday Eastwood's life collapsed and left her devastated. After an empty, nomadic existence, she's finally pieced her life back together in the small Oregon town of Hood River. Now Tuesday has everything sorted out. Just so long as men are kept for sex, and only sex…

Then she met him.

Musician and rancher Ezra Hurley isn't the man of Tuesday's dreams. He's a verboten fantasy—a man tortured by past addictions, whose dark charisma and long, lean body promise delicious carnality. But this craving goes far beyond chemistry. It's primal. It's insatiable. And it won't be satisfied until they're both consumed, body and soul…

Ah Ezra, Lauren Dane can write one sexy, hot hero and Ezra is all that. He’s a recovering drug addict, falling into hardcore drugs when the band he’s in with his brothers was making it big years ago. He destroyed friendships, he tested his family and when he hit rock bottom he put himself into treatment and has been on the sober path ever since. But it’s a daily struggle for him, he’s never forgiven himself for the way he treated his family and friends and never wants to let them down again. So he goes almost overboard with beating himself up and being everything that everyone needs him to be. He’s also worried about his addictive personality, especially when it comes to Tuesday. He was so all-consumed with the drugs, and then after he got clean, he was obsessive about working out, or working his farm, that addictive drive is hard for him to control, in all aspects of his life. When Tuesday blows his world up, he goes for it initially but those old fears make their way into his head and he’s worried that she’ll become another addiction that he loses himself in.

Ezra, in his relationship with Tuesday, initially holds back. He’s scared of how much he wants her in his everyday life. But she’s patient and lets him work through his issues, with no pressure. In that way, she’s a solid heroine for him.

For as good as Tuesday is for Ezra, I had a hard time warming up to her. There really wasn’t a specific reason why, I just found her to be a bit boring. There’s a lot of talking in this book. A lot. To the point where it was all talk talk talk and not much was actually happening. I love a good friendship scene as much as the next reader, but when it’s just chit chat and the women talking about how awesome they are, or how great this or that is, it got old frankly. I was much more interested in Ezra’s personal struggles than I ever was for Tuesday and her constant chattering with her best friend.

I really did enjoy Ezra and seeing his relationships play out on page, especially between him and his brothers. But overall I found the story to be slow and at times boring. I did like the hints we got at the ongoing story for the last Hurley brother who’s dealing with his own brand of family angst. I’m curious to get the details to fill in those blanks. But I just wasn’t completely taken with Broken Open. Ezra’s sexy, that’s the word that kept popping up in my mind whenever he came on page, but it wasn’t enough to keep my attention from start to finish. A good read, but not my favorite Dane book.

Rating: C

Release Date: November 25, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Lauren Dane: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
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*eARC provided by publisher for review* 


Friday, December 26, 2014

Review: Say Yes to the Marquess (Castles Ever After #2) by Tessa Dare

Your presence is requested at romantic Twill Castle for the wedding of Miss Clio Whitmore and . . . and . . . ?

After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She's inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother—even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride's cold feet?

● He starts with flowers. A wedding can't have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.
● He lets her know she'll make a beautiful, desirable bride—and tries not to picture her as his.
● He doesn't kiss her.
● If he kisses her, he definitely doesn't kiss her again.
● When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.
● And no matter what—he doesn't fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.

Clio Whitmore has been the butt of jokes with the ton for 8 years. Nicknamed “Wait-more”, she’s the girl who’s engaged to a man who’s made her wait for eight, long years while he’s been off working, or doing who knows what. Clio’s tired of it and after inheriting a castle, she’s decided to take hold of her life and start to do things for herself. No more waiting for Clio “Wait-more”, she has huge plans to start a brewery at her new castle, but she just needs one simple signature to get things started. She needs Rafe, her fiancĂ©’s brother, to sign the papers ending their engagement. With Piers unable to attend to his business at home, Rafe has the power to sign for him, but he refuses and Clio needs to convince him to do it. Rafe has other plans that include getting the long awaited wedding planned just in time for Piers’s return. But Clio has had feelings for Rafe since they were young. What she doesn’t know is that Rafe has felt the same way but his feelings about his own worth, never having the approval of his father, and never being as good as his brother, weigh heavy on him. He’s convinced himself he’s just a brute, a prize fighter who has nothing to offer Clio. So he’s determined she get what she deserves, a good, solid man in his brother. Clio, however, disagrees.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit, although I will admit that it took me to about the midway point before it became a ‘can’t put it down’ book. It does take a little bit for the story to pick up speed, but once Clio and Rafe start to act on their feelings for each other, I couldn’t get enough. I loved what Clio gives Rafe: love. He’s never felt it, his family never showed it and he was basically estranged from them, especially his father. He’s never had someone love and care about him, just for him. He’s either been wanted for his fighting skills or…that’s it, in his mind. Clio has been there on the sidelines of his life for years and never let him completely slip away. She wrote him many letters, sent him many invitations, none of which he responded to, but the act stuck with him. He tries to resist her but once he’s in, he’s not letting her go for anything.

For Clio, gah, my heart went out to her. To be the joke for so long, to be kept waiting and waiting, I loved that she finally had enough and she made real plans for her future. She knows going into the brewery business, and being a woman, isn’t going to be easy at all. But she’s smart, she’s studied hard and without the support of her family, save her adorably awkward younger sister, she’s had to believe in herself because no one else has. But Rafe listens to her, he respects her and she’s desperate for that in her life. Add in the fact that she wants Rafe, period. She wants him in her life, she wants him as her husband, business partner, she just wants him and I loved seeing her get everything she wanted after being pushed to the side for so long.

Rafe and Clio have some sexy scenes together. Clio has never been kissed before Rafe does the honors (I hated Piers a little more just for that fact alone), and Clio wants to be wicked – Rafe has no problems with that and they have some very wicked scenes together that had me grinning! There are fun supporting characters introduced, namely Clio’s sisters, her youngest sister Phoebe stole my heart with her big, supersized brain, her awkwardness around people and what’s considered proper conversation and what’s not. I can only hope to get a story about her in the future. And then there’s Piers, the absent fiancĂ© who does eventually return and his reasons made me go from hating him to being interested. We don’t get a lot of details about what exactly Piers has been up to for the past eight years, but it’s enough to have me wondering if it was a setup for him being the hero in an upcoming book. I’m intrigued to say the least.

But the story is all about Rafe and Clio and their romance that I adored. After a slightly slow start, I couldn’t get enough of these two once they got together and the sparks starting flying. Clio is strong and ready to live life for herself, Rafe is tortured and convinced he’s a man not worthy of Clio and together is when they both came alive, in life and on page.

Rating: B+

Release Date: December 30, 2104
Publisher: Avon
Tessa Dare: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 


Monday, December 22, 2014

Schooled (The Mastered Series #2.5) by Lorelei James

From the author of Bound and Unwound an all-new novella in the New York Times bestselling Mastered series.

When Amery Hardwick first met martial arts master Ronin Black, she wasn't ready for the level of his sensual artistry or his need for extreme control. Nor was she prepared for the primal urges it released in her. Amery and Ronin were made for each other.

When they married they were certain their future would be a fulfilling journey of love and passion. But happily ever after is never so simple. Six months later, while in Japan, Ronin is training with his sensei, while Amery is consumed by her own burgeoning career and a culture shock with which she is struggling to adapt.

Now, from the heady pleasures of Tokyo bondage houses to the unyielding family traditions pulsing with every beat of Ronin's heart, Amery and Ronin find the limits of their relationship tested once again, and shocked to discover what they're willing to do in order to save it.

Schooled catches us up with the now newly married Ronin and Amery as they take an extended vacation/training trip to Japan. It’s a chance for them to get away, for Ronin to immerse himself into his rigid training for three weeks and for Amery to meet Ronin’s family, specifically his hard to please Grandfather.

I’m not normally a huge fan of short stories, but I found the length of Schooled to be just about perfect for Ronin and Amery, they’re pretty intense and there had been a lot of sex, a LOT of sex scenes in their previous two books. So to have a short story that while yes, still packed with sex, there was plenty of time given to Ronin and what he goes through with his training and for Amery to meet his family. I’d have liked more time to have spent between Amery and Ronin’s Grandfather, that scene was built up but happened very quickly on page. Less time about Amery whining about being alone while Ronin was training and more time on the interactions between her and Ronin’s mother and Grandfather would have been interesting to read play out as well.

Steamy, erotic sex – check. The sex scenes in Schooled are what you’d expect if you read the first two books. There’s a detailed rope scene, plenty of various sex scenes and yeah sure, it’s hot, but I found myself more bored than anything else. Not exactly what you want to experience reading an erotic novella I suppose.

Schooled is a quick, short read and fans of Ronin and Amery will enjoy getting a glimpse of their married life. I liked the story but can’t say I was blown away by anything. I am, however, very excited for the next full length book in this series, centered around Ronin’s sister.

Rating: C+

Release Date: December 2, 2014
Publisher: InterMix
Lorelei James: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review*

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