Sunday, November 30, 2014

Review: Blaze of Memory

Blaze of Memory
Blaze of Memory by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing Emotional Journey

"Nothing is stronger than the will of the human heart."

THE STORY: Dev Santos who heads the Shine Foundation which protects the descendants of the Psy who chose not to submit to Silence a century ago finds a woman unconscious and tortured. She has no memory of who she is but Dev suspects that she might be a Trojan horse sent to bring him and Shine down. Katya Haas was mentally destroyed by one of the Psy Council members. Her mind was reprogrammed to murder and Katya fears that Dev is correct and that he is the target. Desperately trying to regain her sanity and her identity, Katya is also attracted to the man that she may have been sent to destroy.

OPINION: I loved this book. It was deeply emotional and concentrated intensely on Katya and Dev. It was an intensely beautiful story of two people who cannot trust and yet end up falling in love. The story of what Katya's purpose was remained a taut and interesting storyline. I fell in love with these characters. Katya is so broken in the beginning of the story that I rejoiced as she struggled to take control of her own life. The story is so well written that even as I knew that there must be a happy ending somewhere, I was completely absorbed into the story such that I could not imagine how the story could end up on a positive note. Such an intense book that never faltered.

WORTH MENTIONING: The journey that this book takes is amazing. I ended up crying for about 50 pages because it was so emotional.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. It is one of those books I love despite and because it ripped my heart out.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BLAZE OF MEMORY is the seventh book in the Psy-Changeling series. This book can be read independent of the others in the series although Singh is no longer repeating the basic information about the world she has created so a new reader may not understand the relationships and rules involved.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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Review: Branded by Fire

Branded by Fire
Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Strong Hero and Heroine

"Do you want to claw at me, kitty-cat?"

THE STORY: BRANDED BY FIRE brings the alliance between the DarkRiver leopards and the SnowDancer wolves to a critical point. The two changeling groups have been increasing their alliance as the novels have gone by. In BRANDED BY FIRE, Mercy Smith, a leopard sentinel and Riley Kincaid, a wolf lieutenant finally give in to the attraction that has been burning between them for a while. Their relationship has many complications. First, there is the natural problems of a wolf and a cat being in a relationship. Second, there are the potential conflicts in loyalties with the two packs. Third, both Mercy and Riley are dominant changelings and Mercy especially worries how they can manage a relationship between them.

OPINION: I loved this book because it was at its heart really about how a strong independent woman builds a relationship with a strong, independent man. While the story is dressed up in paranormal trappings, the heart of the story is universal. Because of the nature of the story, this book felt more personal and intimate than some of the others in the series that interact more with the overarching story of the series. I loved the sexy, witty dialogue between Mercy and Riley. The two are smart and clever and I loved how they fight and love one another.

WORTH MENTIONING: For fans of the series, there are some beautiful scenes in this book between Sascha and Lucas. For those scenes alone, I would have read this book.

FINAL DECISION: I really enjoyed this book because it deals with the changelings and the relationship between the two packs. I also really enjoyed how Singh dealt with a strong woman character and let her have a relationship where she was not only an equal partner, but a strong soldier as well.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BRANDED BY FIRE is the sixth novel in the Psy-Changeling series. The more I read of these books, the more I believe that a reader must start with the first novel in order to appreciate the breadth of the world and story that Singh has created.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Review: Hostage to Pleasure

Hostage to Pleasure
Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Complex Paranormal Romance

"If he was going to be held hostage to this unwanted compulsion, then she was damn well coming along for the ride."

THE STORY: Dorian Christensen is a leopard changeling who cannot shift into his leopard form. A sniper and sentinel for the DarkRiver leopards, he is tormented by the murder of his sister by one of the cold Psy. When he meets Ashaya Aleine he is attracted and feels guilty about it. Ashaya is Psy and has been working for the Council to create technology to create a hive mind. When she manages to defect, the question is what are her motives.

OPINION: I really like the continuing Psy story and I was happy that Dorian gets his happy ending here. I thought the story was complex and Singh doesn't shy away from the complexities of good and evil and endings that are not perfect. The motivations of characters are murky and it is especially interesting that readers are left to guess at who can be trusted. I liked Dorian and his story was particularly compelling. The relationship between Dorian and Ashaya was interesting but I felt less connection between them than with prior characters. My liking of the story was more intellectual than emotional. Both Dorian and Ashaya reveal more information about the changelings and Psy. I did like their story, but I did not feel the emotional kick with this story that I had with the others in this series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of the series will get cameos from the prior couples who have important roles in this story.

FINAL DECISION: The story between Dorian and Ashaya is complex and interesting. Singh finds new ways to keep her series interesting. I liked this book although it was not as good as the previous books in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HOSTAGE TO PLEASURE is the fifth Psy-Changeling book in the series. The story is independent of the other books in the series, however, there is an overarching story that is threaded through all the novels and a reader who has not read the previous books in the series may miss this overarching story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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Review: The Rosie Effect

The Rosie Effect
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Orange juice was not scheduled for Fridays."

THE STORY: Don Tillman and his wife Rosie have been married for almost a year. Since the first book, the two have moved to New York and begun a new life together. Their world begins to fall apart when Rosie announces that she is pregnant. The pregnancy begins to erode their relationship as both begin to experience doubts about themselves and one another.

OPINION: I was impressed with the original book in this series THE ROSIE PROJECT because it used the unfamiliar mind of Don to demonstrate the universality of the experience of love. This book continues that theme because it is not unusual for a pregnancy and the other stress in a new marriage to cause conflict and division. While Don acts unusual an gets himself into very funny situations, Rosie and the other characters also withhold information, act irrationally and makes false assumptions. While I liked this book and it continued the romantic comedy feel of the first book, this book was not as successful as the first. Some of that is because the novelty of the first book is difficult to recreate. Also, the progress that Don makes in the first book has to be somewhat unwound in order to create the drama in this book. That being said, there are some beautiful moments in this book. Don's drawing of his child's size and development each week was so poignant and beautiful. Those special moments made me happy that I waded through pages of the book that I found unnecessary. I wish the book was a little shorter and tighter because I think this would have been amazing. It ended up being merely good.

WORTH MENTIONING: As readers of the first novel know, Don has Asperger's Syndrome although he doesn't realize it.

FINAL DECISION: For fans of THE ROSIE PROJECT, this book is a nice sequel. It is not successful and the book is too long, but I enjoyed the second visit with Don and Rosie.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE ROSIE EFFECT is the sequel to THE ROSIE PROJECT. Readers should start with THE ROSIE PROJECT. This sequel is highly dependent upon the events in the first book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in order to provide an honest review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Review: The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Funny and Poignant Story

THE STORY: Professor Don Tillman is looking for a wife. His problem is that he has never had a second date, doesn't have many friends and has deep social problems. The truth is that Don has Asperger's but doesn't realize it although all around him know. Don goes through a very scientific way of choosing a wife and when he meets Rosie Jarman, he eliminates her because she doesn't meet his exacting requirements. However, Don can't stay away from Rosie and he gets involved in helping her find the identity of her father. Through their adventures, Don begins to change and grow and stretch himself in ways that he never expected.

OPINION: This book is a romantic comedy. It is funny and yet poignant at the same time. Don is at the same time incredibly capable and also incredibly clueless. I especially like that this book raises of question of what is normal. Every character in this book has problems and the book demonstrates that all people are on a spectrum. There are not normal and abnormal people. All people are strange and love is complicated for everyone. The respect that all characters are given makes this book special.

WORTH MENTIONING: THE ROSIE PROJECT is told in the first person which makes the story very interesting since the reader is given only Don's perspective on events. The reader has to evaluate his observations in navigating the story.

FINAL DECISION: I found this book to be incredibly interesting. Being immersed in Don's perspective means that the reader cannot trust his observations but rather has to piece the reality together. I really enjoyed this challenge. Don is adorable.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE ROSIE PROJECT is the first book in the series and there is a sequel called THE ROSIE EFFECT

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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Review: At The Billionaire's Wedding

At The Billionaire's Wedding
At The Billionaire's Wedding by Maya Rodale

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great Anthology For Fans of Rodale's Bad Boy Billionaire Novellas

For fans of Rodale's Bad Boys & Wallflowers series, AT THE BILLIONAIRE'S WEDDING tells the story of Jane and Duke's wedding in England. Beginning with a prologue telling Jane and Duke's point of view, there are four short stories about their wedding. I was impressed by the stories because even though they are about a small event, they give different views of the same event. That makes the stories more interesting than I generally find these anthologies.

Overall Rating: 4.25

THE BEST LAID PLANNER by Miranda Neville: Wedding planner Arwen Kilpatrick travels to England to inspect a possible wedding site. There she meets Harry Compton, handyman. I liked the story that is heavily focused on Arwen's point of view. I don't know if someone who hasn't read the Bad Boy Billionaire series would be invested in this story. There really isn't much romance between the couple. Having read the story of Duke and Jane, however, I liked this adjunct story. Rating: 4 stars.

WILL YOU BE MY WI-FI? by Caroline Linden: Archer Quinn, lawyer for Duke Austen, is invited to Jane and Duke's wedding. He reluctantly goes and finds that their location has no wi-fi and only limited cell service. Natalie Corcoran is looking for peace and quiet while she writes a cookbook. She is annoyed with all the traffic for the manor house next door. When Archer comes by wanting her wi-fi password, Natalie reluctantly agrees. Thus, starts a sweet romance. I liked this story a lot. Natalie and Archer are a cute couple. I liked the integration with the main Jane and Duke story and yet this story is apart. I found myself wishing that the story was longer because I was genuinely interested in these characters. Rating: 4.25 stars.

THE DAY IT RAINED BOOKS by Katherine Ashe: Librarian California Blake has a fairy godmother who helps her bookmobile project and gives her tickets to the wedding of the year. What Cali doesn't know is that Piers Prescott desperately wants to meet her and so has arranged things to do so. Cali is determined not to like him because his family's heartless business. At the wedding, Piers does his best to woo reluctant Cali. Will they survive when Cali finds out her mysterious benefactor is PIers. I liked this story because PIers is a sweetheart. He does his best to help Cali and when she rejects him he doesn't abandon her but instead works to show her how much he loves her. Rating: 4 stars.

THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU FALL IN LOVE by Maya Rodale: Roxanna Lane comes to her best friend's wedding with her boss lover Damien Knightly. Tension arises when Damien asks Roxanna to write and post photographs of the pre-wedding activities for their online news site. At the same time, the two are realizing that their relationship has gotten more serious than they expected. I really liked this story. Readers of the Bad Boy Billionaire will recognize Roxanna who was instrumental in Jane and Duke's romance. This was my favorite story of the anthology because it was the one where the characters from the contemporary novella series appear most prominently. Rating: 4.25 stars.

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Review: What a Wallflower Wants

What a Wallflower Wants
What a Wallflower Wants by Maya Rodale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Serious Story, Almost Didn't Like It

"No one ever came to save Prudence in her hours of need."

THE STORY: Prudence Merryweather Peyton aka Prude Prudence aka London's Least Likely to Be Caught in a Compromising Position knows that she will never marry. During her first season, Prue was raped. Now in her fourth season and the only unmarried woman amongst her friends, Prue has decided on a marriage of convenience. On the way to her elopement, the coach carrying her and her fiance is stopped by a highwayman. When her fiance abandons her to her fate, Prue finds herself walking to find a town. There she meets John Roarke, Viscount Castleton. John is a very protective man who is concerned about Prue. When the two are trapped by a storm in an inn, they begin a tentative relationship. Prue has deep fears because of her rape but John has great caring and sympathy for her and Prue begins to blossom. The two end up falling in love, but when they return to London, Prue finds out that John has secrets of his own that might destroy them both.

OPINION: The first half of this novel was amazing. I thought that Rodale did a good job of depicting Prue's response to the rape. I also loved John and his loving and caring treatment of Prue. I did have a very difficult time believing that she so quickly ended up having sex with John after four years of not dealing with her rape. When John's secret was revealed, I really did not like this book. I disliked it so much that I almost abandoned the book. I thought his betrayal of Prue by lying to her was unforgivable. In the end, while I understood the parallel that Rodale was trying to make with Prue presenting a false front to others and John doing the same thing, I did not feel that that worked in this case. John completely betrayed Prue knowing how vulnerable she was. He could have told her the truth or if not that, he could have refrained from sleeping with her until he told her the truth. I ultimately put that aside to enjoy the rest of the story, but I never stopped being annoyed by John's behavior and it reduced my appreciation of the book.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book has a serious storyline about rape and its aftermath. Readers should know this going in.

FINAL DECISION: This is a book that I respect but couldn't ultimately like enough to want to read again. I was so annoyed by John's deception that even as I appreciated much about the book, I was taken out of the romantic storyline and ended up unhappy. I still give the book 4 stars because it is a good and important story well done, but the character of John is so important to the story that I have desire to revisit.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHAT A WALLFLOWER WANTS is the third historical novel in the Bad Boys & Wallflowers series which consists of three historical novels and three contemporary novellas about the fictional "writer" of the historical series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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Review: The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants

The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants
The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants by Maya Rodale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Conclusion to Duke and Jane's Story

The three part contemporary novella series concludes with a more serious entry than the prior two novellas.

THE STORY: Duke and Jane seem to finally made it. At the end of the second installment, Duke has publicly declared his love for Jane. Things turn dark when Jane is almost assaulted by her ex-boyfriend. The repercussions from that event make Jane question herself and threaten her relationship with Duke.

OPINIONS: Taking on such a serious subject in a novella is difficult and only works because it is clear that Duke and Jane have already resolved most of their personal conflicts from the prior two novellas. I thought that the attempted assault story was handled tastefully and I appreciated that Rodale did not make the story a stereotype.

WORTH MENTIONING: While Duke and Jane's story concludes here for the series, readers get a chance to read about their wedding in AT THE BILLIONAIRE'S WEDDING, an anthology written around their wedding.

FINAL DECISION: I recommend the entire Duke and Jane series as an easy read that is enjoyable.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHAT A GIRL WANTS is the 3.5 book in the Bad Boys & Wallflowers series. This novella concludes the contemporary story. The historical novels are written as the work of Jane, but a reader can read the contemporaries and the historicals independent of one another. A reader should read the other two contemporary novellas before reading this one because the stories are dependent on one another.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 3.75 stars.

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Review: The Bad Boy Billionaire's Girl Gone Wild

The Bad Boy Billionaire's Girl Gone Wild
The Bad Boy Billionaire's Girl Gone Wild by Maya Rodale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part Two of Jane and Duke's Romance

THE BAD BOY BILLIONAIRE'S GIRL GONE WILD is the second part of the three part contemporary story of Jane and Duke. In part one, Jane and Duke end up in a fake engagement in order to help Duke get funding for his project and to get Jane a date for her high school reunion.

THE STORY: Jane and Duke ended part one with Jane going to meet her ex-boyfriend who she thinks she might still love. THE BAD BOYS BILLIONAIRE'S GIRL GONE WILD begins right where the other book left off. Jane and Duke's relationship is uncertain and hits a snag when Jane gets her romance book published (THE WICKED WALLFLOWER). People begin to guess that Duke and Jane's engagement was fake just like the one in Jane's romance novel. Jane struggles with trying to untangle her love life and also deal with the publicity of her high profile.

OPINION: I didn't like this installment as much as the first although I still like Jane and Duke's relationship. I thought that Jane was rather annoying and clueless about the impact that her romance would have on Duke and his career. While she is angry that he wants to distance himself from her romance novel, I thought she was rather oblivious about the fact that her actions harmed Duke. She seemed selfish to me and I liked her less because of it. At the same time, I liked Duke more because he is clearly enamored of Jane. I laughed out loud at his sending pictures to Jane while she was on a date with her ex.

WORTH MENTIONING: The connection between the contemporary novella and the historical romance WALLFLOWER GONE WILD was more tenuous in this pairing.

FINAL DECISION: I like the story of Jane and Duke and want to read the conclusion, but this installment wasn't as good as the first for me.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is book 2.5 in the Bad Boys & Wallflowers series. It is the second book in the contemporary novella trilogy. I recommend reading the first novella before this one since Duke and Jane's story has been divided into three parts. It is not necessary to read the historicals to enjoy the contemporary novellas.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.75 stars.

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Review: Wallflower Gone Wild

Wallflower Gone Wild
Wallflower Gone Wild by Maya Rodale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Liked it More than the First Book

"Perhaps happily-ever-after was not for her."

THE STORY: Lady Olivia Archer, aka Prissy Missy, aka London's Least Likely to Cause a Scandal is determined to cause a scandal to protect herself from having to marry the murderous Mad Baron. In her fourth season, Olivia has not found a husband and now her parents have made the choice for her. She is to marry Baron Phinneas Cole by their fiat. After she discovers that Phinn believes her docile and scandal free, Olivia is determined to scare him off by living a scandalous life: eating too much, drinking too much, keeping company with rogues and rakes, wearing inappropriate dresses and makeup.

Phinn has come to London to find a second wife. His first wife died and he has been tarred with suspicions of her murder ever since. He has also come to build the Duke of Ashbrooke's Difference Engine (continuing the story from the first novel in the series, THE WICKED WALLFLOWER). Despite Olivia's antics, Phinn sticks by her to Olivia's distress.

OPINION: I liked WALLFLOWER GONE WILD better than the first book in the series. While Olivia was a bit silly because she so quickly believed all the negative things about Phinn and never gave him the chance to prove himself, I found many of her antics funny rather than annoying. I liked Phinn and thought him sweet. He was really patient considering how ridiculous Olivia was acting. My only compliant was that I never really got a great connection between Olivia and Phinn. It seemed more like a sweet caring relationship rather than a torrid love match. I liked much of the book enough to overlook that and fill in with my own imagination.

WORTH MENTIONING: I think that the contemporary versions of the stories, the novellas about Jane and Duke increased my liking of the historical novels because I want to know what will happen in the contemporary novels to be the inspiration for the historical ones.

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed WALLFLOWER GONE WILD better than the first book in the series. The book is not one that stays on my mind after it is finished, but I enjoyed the story and would recommend it as an easy read.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WALLFLOWER GONE WILD is the second book in the Bad Boys and Wallflowers series. The book can be read as a standalone although it has a continuing story of three wallflowers.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Review: Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover: The Fourth Rule of Scoundrels

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover: The Fourth Rule of Scoundrels
Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover: The Fourth Rule of Scoundrels by Sarah MacLean

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliant Conclusion to the Rules of Scoundrels Series

“Men see what they wish to see.”

THE STORY: Lady Georgiana Pearson was only sixteen when she gave herself to a man who she believed she loved but who abandoned her leaving her pregnant. Utterly ruined, Georgiana has secretly resurrected herself into the most powerful woman in Britain. At the tender age of twenty, she founded The Fallen Angel recruiting as her partners three men who had also fallen from the grace of the aristocracy.

“She might never again be accepted by society, but now she held the power to destroy it.”

For years, Georgiana has had three different roles: Georgiana, sister to a duke and a fallen woman; Anna, the madam of the Angel and the most famous whore in London; and Chase, the mysterious man who holds all the secrets of the Angel and the aristocracy. At the beginning of NEVER JUDGE A LADY BY HER COVER, Georgiana is reluctantly seeking out a husband. She wants the respectability of a title to protect her daughter Caroline’s future prospects and as a result has had to re-enter society.

“She was like no woman he’d ever known.”

At a ball, Georgiana “meets” Duncan West. Unknown to West, the two have actually interacted for years. Chase and West have been partners of a sort in the secrets of London. The two have sent messages back and forth dealing in the secrets of the ton. Anna and West have also done some mild flirting as Anna acted as messenger for Chase. It is meeting, Georgiana, however, that most intrigues West.

Duncan West is “brilliant and powerful and handsome as sin.” A newspaper magnet, West owns five newspapers and magazines known throughout Britain. (Readers of MacLean’s other books will recognize West’s publications. West himself appeared in ELEVEN SCANDALS TO START TO WIN A DUKE’S HEART along with the prior books in the Rules of Scoundrels series). A self-made man, West has dangerous secrets of his own that he is working feverously to keep hidden. Considered an unofficial fifth partner in the Fallen Angel because of his critical rule in controlling and disclosing the scandalous information that the Angel trades in, West knows nothing about the roles that Georgiana plays for the Angel.

“He was a man, and men saw only that for which they were looking. And still he seemed to see into her.”

Almost immediately in the story, West discovers part of Georgiana’s connection with the Angel. Thus begins a dance between Georgiana and West where each discloses and conceals truths about themselves while making deals and trades and also falling in love with one another. West agrees to help Georgiana capture a titled husband at the same time that the simmering attraction between them begins to consume them both.

OPNION: NEVER JUDGE A LADY BY HER COVER is a book I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since I read it – twice already. Georgiana is a heroine that is so incredibly unique and brilliant. Determined, driven, witty, sarcastic, ambitious, smart and loving, protective and caring, Georgiana is a woman on par with the men of the Fallen Angel. My favorite part of this book might be her relationship with Bourne, Cross and Temple who clearly care about her and yet treat her as a strong, independent partner and not a woman that has to be protected. They treat her as an equal and MacLean has written Georgiana as their equal. Duncan at first wants to protect Georgiana and yet as he gets to know her, he also learns to respect and ultimately be in awe of what she has done with her life.
Georgiana is not a weak young woman who needs to be rescued. She is the linchpin, the creator, the originator of the Fallen Angel. She has been so integral to the happy endings for others (her brother Simon, Bourne, Cross and Temple) sometimes to her own detriment that her journey to happiness had special meaning. Georgiana is a woman who has made herself strong and yet is not hard. She gives everything to those she loves. That trait, which led to her ruination, also makes her capable of having a forever type of love. By the end of the book, the girl who wanted so much to be wanted, is shown as a woman who has the loyalty and love by more people than she would have imagined.

The relationship between Georgiana and Duncan is truly a match of equals. The clever and witty repartee between them urged me to return to their interactions again and again to re-read them. The two are on guard with one another and the tension created by the fear that each has of disclosing their weaknesses while at the same time deeply hungering to reveal themselves to one another drives a great deal of the emotional angst of the story. While stories based upon the keeping of secrets from the other can be quite tedious an annoying as the reader yells – “just talk to one another already” – this is NOT one of those books. The secrets that Georgiana and Duncan are keeping have the power to utterly destroy them. To disclose secrets is to give power to the other. As the two begin to build trust between them, the secrets are revealed. By the time the ultimate secret, Chase’s identity, is revealed, it feels like the proper time.

I greatly appreciate the heat level of NEVER JUDGE A LADY BY HER COVER. The book is sexy and hot, but not gratuitous or crass. The heat level is high but always grounded in the emotional intimacy of the characters. Plus, there is a very sexy scene in an indoor swimming pool.

This historical feels incredibly fresh and new. Georgiana does not react in stereotypical historical heroine fashion. The opening where Georgiana and West meet is one of the most amazing scenes I have read. All readers of historical romance have read the scene where a heroine is being savaged by gossips in the ton. What was unusual is Georgiana’s reaction. She does not simper or whine or fear. Instead, she is incredibly strong and dark in her reaction. I loved the reaction of Georgiana and it is a risk for MacLean to make her heroine vengeful in those circumstances – but entirely within the character of the woman who created the Fallen Angel.

As a lover of dark, angst filled romances, this book was a tumultuous emotional ride. MacLean’s writing goes deep inside the emotional journey of her characters and drags the reader along. The focus is always on the characters and their connection to one another. The story is painful and funny and sexy and empowering. The writing is at turns brisk and lush declarative and evocative. Rather than reading like a high school English paper, this book is more like poetry or stream of consciousness. MacLean uses all the tricks of a master writer who knows how to break the rules that schoolchildren are taught to increase the tension and flow of the story. It is a book that I could not put down and immediately wanted to read again.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of the Rules of Scoundrels series and her Love By Numbers series will be pleased with the amusing cameos MacLean gives of the lives of the heroes and heroines from those books. By using the excerpts from West’s newspapers, MacLean gives readers updates on those characters, glimpses into their lives, that don’t interrupt the flow of the story.

FINAL DECISION: NEVER JUDGE A LADY BY HER COVER is a winner of a book. Dark, emotional, fresh with a hero and heroine who are strong and smart and clever. A fan of the series, I was worried that this book would be a disappointment because I expected too much. Those fears were unfounded. While Pippa and Cross remain my favorite couple, NEVER JUDGE A LADY BY HER COVER may be the best all around book. I highly recommend the entire series. I've already read this book twice and look forward to revisiting the story for a long time.

CONNECTED BOOKS: NEVER A LADY BY HER COVER has been a long time in the making. Georgiana was first introduced in MacLean’s Love By Numbers series. Readers meet her as a pregnant unwed teenager in TEN WAYS TO BE ADORED WHEN LANDING A LORD and then as a new mother in ELEVEN SCANDALS TO START TO WIN A DUKE’S HEART. She, of course, also appears in the first three books of the Rules of Scandals series although readers do not know her true identity. This book can be read independent of the others but readers who really want to enjoy this book should start at the beginning of Georgiana’s story in TEN WAYS TO BE ADORED WHEN LANDING A LORD. MacLean has created a world where every one of her books inhabit the same world. Readers can start with her New Adults Novel THE SEASON, read the three books of her Love By Numbers series, and then the four books of her Rules of Scoundrels series and see cameos by characters throughout. A small spoiler that Lady Sophie who appears briefly in this book will be the heroine of her next book THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN.

STAR RATING: Unreserved 5 stars! Immediately a keeper.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: The Bad Boy Billionaire's Wicked Arrangement

The Bad Boy Billionaire's Wicked Arrangement
The Bad Boy Billionaire's Wicked Arrangement by Maya Rodale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Liked the Novella Better Than The Historical

THE BAD BOY BILLIONAIRE'S WICKED ARRANGEMENT is the contemporary version of THE WICKED WALLFLOWER. I ended up liking this contemporary novella better than the historical novel.

THE STORY: Jane Sparks accidentally announces her engagement on Facebook to Duke Austen, playboy billionaire. Duke decides that he can use the engagement to his advantage to help him get funding for a project by giving him a better image as a settled engaged man. Jane is getting over the love of her life and realizes that she can throw off the dull Jane label. While she knows that this relationship cannot last, Jane still ends up liking Duke a great deal.. She is also using her life to write a historical romance novel using her life as a basis.

OPINION: This novella is part one of a three part novella series about Jane and Duke. Readers beware that their story is not complete at the end of this novella. I really liked the characters of Duke and Jane. I thought they sparkled in a way that i didn't feel in the historical novel equivalent. The story is incomplete and is merely a beginning, but I liked how the two characters interacted and I want to read more.

WORTH MENTIONING; Readers of the historical novel THE WICKED WALLFLOWER will see the inspiration for that book in the characters and situation that Jane finds herself in.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this novella better than the historical and would read this one again.

CONNECTED BOOKS; This is book 1.5 in the Bad Boys and Wallflower series but can be read independent of the historical novels.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 4 stars.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Archer's Voice

Archer's Voice
Archer's Voice by Mia Sheridan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Intriguing Characters

THE STORY: Archer Hale was involved in something tragic when he was seven years old. As a result, he was left an orphan and unable to speak. People in town have avoided and ignored him for years and there are many suspicions but not much knowledge about what he has been doing. After the death of his uncle Archer periodically comes to town for supplies, but doesn't interact with people. One day he meets Bree Prescott who is running from her own past. She has come to town to hide from the day that her father was murdered and she was almost raped. Archer and Bree run into one another and Bree is the first person in years to actually interact with Archer (because of course, she doesn't know who he is). That begins a series of events where Bree pushes herself into Archer's life and opens his life up to more than the solitude he has been living for years.

OPINION: I liked this book. The strongest part was how Bree makes a place for herself in Archer's life. He has been alone for a long time and Bree shows him that he wants to have more than he has. Their love story is incredibly sweet and gentle. There are two other stories involved as well: the story of what happened to Archer and his parents and the story of what happened to Bree and her father. If the book were those stories alone, however, I would never have been interested in the book. The beauty of the book is how Bree and Archer unveil themselves to the other and build such a beautiful, loving relationship.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of virgin heroes should take a look at this book.

FINAL DECISION: The book reads New Adult to me in that Archer and Bree are really beginning their adult lives in this book, but I enjoyed the beauty of Bree reaching out to Archer and helping him bridge the gap between him and the outside world.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is part of the A Sign of Love series, however, it is a standalone book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review: Matt Caldwell: Texas Tycoon

Matt Caldwell: Texas Tycoon
Matt Caldwell: Texas Tycoon by Diana Palmer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Classic Diana Palmer

Part of Palmer's long running Long, Tall Texans series, this is the story of two decent people who have to deal with misunderstandings to find happiness together.

THE STORY: Leslie Murray has a horrendous past that she is hiding from. She was almost raped as a teenager and then shot in a salacious event that the press is still interested in. She just wants to have a quiet life. When she does to work for Matt Caldwell's business, he is determined not to trust her. He misunderstands her confused responses and having been burned before by a woman believes Leslie to be manipulative and deceitful. When he finds out the truth about her past, he needs to earn her trust that he unknowingly betrayed.

OPINION: I enjoyed reading this book. It was a simple read and typical of Palmer's type of book. Although I was somewhat annoyed by Matt's insistence on misunderstanding Leslie, I thought that he redeemed himself well and I liked that the book resolved all the loose ends of the story. The book isn't deep and I don't think it is one that I would put on a keeper shelf, but I enjoyed it while I was reading it.

WORTH MENTIONING: While it is not necessary to have read other books in the series to enjoy this one, fans of the series will be pleased with the little updates and cameos that Palmer works into this book.

FINAL DECISION: This book is classic Diana Palmer: innocent woman who is treated poorly because of mistakes and assumptions made by the hero. This book is what I expect when I read a Palmer book. It falls in the middle of her books for me. I've read better but I enjoyed the story in this one.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MATT CALDWELL is the 22nd book in the Long, Tall Texans series. The books can be read as standalones.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.75 stars.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: The Wicked Wallflower

The Wicked Wallflower
The Wicked Wallflower by Maya Rodale

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Liked the Story, Ultimately Didn't Connect with the Characters

THE WICKED WALLFLOWER was a disappointment to me. I really wanted to like this book since I had many people I respect recommend it. Ultimately, I really liked the premise of the story, but never felt any connection with the characters.

THE STORY: Emma Avery is a wallflower known as the Buxom Bluestocking and has experienced four seasons without being married. She is dreading the upcoming Lady Penelope's Anniversary Ball for her school because she worries that she will be the only woman there unwed. One evening, Emma and her friends are drinking sherry and dreaming of marriage when they write an engagement announcement for Emma to the handsome and scandalous Blake Auden, Duke of Ashbrooke. Unfortunately, the announcement gets sent to the newspapers and Emma finds herself engaged to a man she has never even met. Ashbrooke decides that being engaged to Emma will benefit him because he needs capital for the difference engine he is building (a type of computer) and being engaged to Emma may help him with investors or he might be able to win the Fortune Games. The Fortune Games were devised by his aunt who brings family members together annually to compete to be named heir to her fortune.

OPINION: I really wanted to like this novel. The situation was really interesting but the actual characters were not compelling enough for me to want to read this book again. I had a difficult time finishing this book because I really didn't care about the main characters. I was annoyed by Emma's continued attachment to another man who we also don't really know. I also did not believe that a man who was so against marriage quickly changed to be in love with Emma. I didn't feel a connection to the characters and I didn't feel their connection to one another. I didn't hate the book, but I wouldn't read it again.

WORTH MENTIONING: The Wallflower historical novels are connected with contemporary novellas where the heroine is writing the Wallflower novels from her own romance.

FINAL DECISION: The idea of this book was much better than the ultimately reality. I really liked the premise of the book and was excited to read it. Ultimately, I didn't fell that either Emma or Ashbrooke popped for me as characters. The lack of connection made the book difficult to finish because I didn't ultimately care about the resolution of the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE WICKED WALLFLOWER Is the first book of the Wallflower Trilogy (that actually have 3 historical books and 3 contemporary novellas).

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review: Mine to Possess

Mine to Possess
Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Emotional Journey Through Pain to Love

The story of two people who have loved one another most of their lives and yet have tremendous pain to overcome to find love together.

THE STORY: Clay Bennett is a leopard changeling who was raised as human by his mother. Clay is often viewed as cold and detached for a changeling. He has missed his childhood friend, Tally, for twenty years. As children, they had a special bond that was shattered when Clay killed Tally's abusive foster father. Talin McKade spent the best days of her life with Clay as a child. When he killed to protect her, Talin ran from Clay going as far as having him told that she was dead. Twenty years later, she has come to Clay to ask for his help. Street children are disappearing and ending up dead. Talin is determined to find the remaining kidnapped children but needs Clay's help. The anger and pain between Clay and Tally threaten to destroy any connection between them and yet the beauty of their memories brings them together.

OPINION: This book is deeply emotional and painful. Tally's abuse at the hands of her foster father had an incredibly negative influence on her life. MINE TO POSSESS slowly reveals the different ways in which she has had to live with the effects including her rejection of Clay and her deliberate separation from other people. Singh does not flinch from Tally's pain filled life including her sexual promiscuity. I believe Tally to be incredibly strong to have survived and rebuilt her life. Her reunion with Clay allows her to not just survive but to find happiness and joy. Clay has his own demons to deal with. His childhood also scarred him. His mother wanted to deny his leopard and as a result, Clay is at risk of going rogue and losing himself to the leopard part of himself. The DarkRiver leopards have made Clay one of them even when he would like to be apart. He has missed Tally and when she reappears in his life, he is understandably angry at her deception. It is difficult to read how abrupt and cutting he is with her, but he is also striking out in pain at her denial of their connection. The acceptance and understanding that builds between the characters throughout the novel is deeply moving. Singh has created an amazing world, characters and series and I can't stop turning pages.

WORTH MENTIONING: I'm a big fan of Singh's incorporating characters from previous books into the story. This is not a series where a couple is paired off and never seen again. She has a large cast of characters that make appearances big and small throughout each of the books.

FINAL DECISION: The romance between Clay and Tally is so complicated and layered. I love the pain and the beauty of their love. While not my favorite characters of the series, I think the book overall is my favorite because of the deeply emotional nature of the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MINE TO POSSESS is the fourth book in the Psy-Changeling series. It can be read independent of the other books, but readers should be aware that there is an overarching story that connects all the books and is being slowly revealed as the series progresses.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

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Review: Caressed By Ice

Caressed By Ice
Caressed By Ice by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Incredibly Angst Filled Story Where the Hero and Heroine Heal Each Other

Singh has created an incredibly detailed world involving the Psy who have excised emotion from their people and their society who rule the world of humans and changelings (animal/human shapeshifters).

THE STORY: Judd Lauren is a former Psy assassin who now lives with is family with the SnowDancer changeling wolves. He is cold and has no intention of breaking Silence to admit emotion to his life because he knows that it will turn him into an indiscriminate killer. He is working with other Psy to destabilize the governing system of the Psy. Brenna Kincaid was tortured and almost killed by a Psy serial killer. Her mind was broken and raped by the Psy and Brenna is still discovering what the effects are. The changeling wolf has been changed by her experiences and she fears what she is becoming. When she dreams of a murder that happens and she feels joy in the killing, Brenna fears that she will also become a killer like the Psy who tortured her. Neither is looking for a relationship and yet Judd and Brenna and constantly drawn to one another.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. Both Brenna and Judd are damaged people. While others insist that they cannot help one another, their mutual pain brings them together and gives them an understanding of what the other is dealing with. This is one of those books where the pain and emotions of the characters are put on display in such an intimate fashion that the reader goes on the emotional rollercoaster that the characters are on. The book is intense and difficult to read at points. Singh, however, shows her characters in the darkness but does not leave the reader there. The beauty of CARESSED BY ICE is the light and joy brought to the characters through their relationship. I love books that rips open emotions and then bring the characters into the beauty of love. Brenna, especially, is incredibly strong and her ability to overcome and fall in love with Judd is amazing. I especially liked in this book the alternating point of view between Brenna and Judd. Singh does a fantastic job of changing her tone to suit each character and the emotional journey of Judd was compelling as well.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of the virgin hero will find an interesting variation here.

FINAL DECISION: I think this is a fabulous book. It is incredibly moving and emotional and I highly recommend it.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CARESSED BY ICE is the third book in the Psy-Changeling series. The book can be read independent of others in the series although the world building that is done depends upon the overarching story being developed throughout the novel. A reader can start here, but I recommend starting at the beginning to appreciate the overarching story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

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Review: Christmas Alpha

Christmas Alpha
Christmas Alpha by Carole Mortimer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Different Type of Book From Mortimer

Longtime readers of Carole Mortimer should be aware this this book is sexier and more explicit than her previous books.

THE STORY: Eva Shaw is a delivery person and brings a package to a house when the door is answered by a half dressed man who instructs her to undress and go to another room and lay down. Eva is shocked to realize that this man believes her to be a call girl. Finn Devlin has been stalked by an ex-girlfriend and is in hiding. When Eva and Finn are trapped together by a snowstorm, the heat between them rises.

OPINION: I liked this story as one time read. The characters and the plot were not compelling enough to compel me to read it again, but I did not regret the time and money I spent on it. The sex in this book is more explicit than previous Mortimer books and I thought that the transition was a little awkwardly expressed in this book. I did like the beginning situation between the characters and I was really interested in the first half of the book. Once the book became focused on the stalking story, I was less interested because I don't think that the book had the length to fully develop as a suspense story.

WORTH MENTIONING: I loved the beginning of this novella which kept me guessing about what was going on.

FINAL DECISION: I appreciate that Mortimer is stretching out into a different type of romance. The beginning of this novella was a really good setup. I did feel that as the book went on, I was less interested in the outcome of the stalking story than I should have been. The tension just didn't seem to build up in a way that made me want to turn pages. I liked the new direction Mortimer is taking with this series and I want to see how she develops.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CHRISTMAS ALPHA is the first of the ALPHA series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Review: Wanton Christmas Wishes

Wanton Christmas Wishes
Wanton Christmas Wishes by Kate Pearce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Six historical short stories that are definitely erotic romances. Overall rating: 4 stars.

HIS TO COMMAND -- Monica Burns. Part of her Self-Made Men series. Charlotte Clayworth ad John Fordyce were childhood friends until one evening when they got trapped together during a snowstorm and they discovered something more than friends between them. When John stated that they would marry because he had compromised her, Charlotte refused. The two separated for twenty-five years. Upon meeting again, John decides that he has waited too long for Charlotte. I found this story disappointing. The majority of the story was in the past and the resolution of the story was too quick for me. I also didn't like that their separation occurs merely because neither is willing to say that they are in love with the other. Rating: 3 stars.

THE KISSING BOUGH -- Madelynne Ellis. Viola Marsh was ruined when she was found with two men. She is only allowed out once a year to join the Christmas festivities. This Christmas she meets Percy Gilling and Lord William Ricborough. The two have heard about Viola's ruination and believe that she is exactly who the two of them have been looking for to complete their menage. I liked this story. I didn't get any romance in the story since Percy and Will look for Viola purely on her reputation and the story between them only spans a day. Putting that aside, however, the characters were interesting together. For a short story, it was an interesting read. Rating: 3.5 stars.

HAMISH -- Samantha Kane. Book One of the 93rd Highlanders. A menage story. Captain Hamish Fletcher is injured during the Crimean war. While being treated he encounters an old friend Dr. Phineas Harper. Phin and Hamish has an encounter when they were younger. Just at the point that Phin has found a woman to love and marry, widow Edith Lambeth, Hamish's return makes him question what he wants. I liked this story because there was an attempt to build a relationship between the characters. The complicated emotional connections between the characters are well done considering how short the story is. This is one of the better stories in the collection. Rating: 4 stars.

ALL A MISTRESS WANTS -- Eliza Lloyd. Eloisa Larkin has been the mistress of Adam Forester, the Duke of Sterling for four years. She has decided to end their relationship because she is in love with him and he is still in love with his wife who died five years ago. Eloisa's attempts to end the relationship shakes Adam out of his complacency. I really liked this story. Loved the characters and the set up for the story. I was somewhat disappointed with the quick resolution of the story that was necessary because of the short length. I wish the story was longer because it was a great beginning. I only wish that we could have gotten more about Adam's change of heart. Rating: 4 stars.

A CHRISTMAS KISS -- Jess Michaels. Amelia, the Countess of Blackgrove was happy because she married the man she loved until she learned morning after her marriage, that her husband Stephen married her only for her money. Six months later, Stephen has lured her to spend a week with him where he intends to woo her. Can Amelia ever trust him again? I liked this story because the conflict was kept short and contained which suited the length of the story. This was more emotional than erotic which I also enjoyed. Rating: 4 stars.

LOVING MICHAEL -- Kate Pearce. The story of Michael Waterstone, who returned from the wars in a wheelchair. He is approached by Angelique Delisle who is an ex-courtesan who intends to make him her last project. The story is 2.5 of the Diable Delamere series. I have not read the other books in the series and didn't feel the lack. I really ended up liking this story. Pearce manages to pack a lot into this little story. Again, I think this would have made a great full length novel, but I enjoyed the characters, the situation and the resolution. Rating: 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in order to provide an honest review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Review: Visions of Heat

Visions of Heat
Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fabulous Entry in the Psy Changeling Series

The story of a woman isolated from the world and the man who draws her to discover more about herself than she could imagine. Singh's Psy-Changeling series is a paranormal romance series where the Psy are a race that has eliminated emotion from their people. They coexist with humans and changelings (half human, half animal).

THE STORY: Faith NightStar is an F-Psy. She foresees the future for the business interests of her family and the Psy. She has been isolated since she was three years old. Something has changed and she foresees a murder. Faith begins to have questions. In her investigations, she runs into Vaughn D'Angelo, a jaguar changeling who is a sentinel with the DarkRiver leopards. Faith and Vaughn are drawn together again and again. They end up hunting another Psy murderer who seems to be threatening Faith in her mind.

OPINION: VISIONS OF HEAT is a compelling book. The combination of the cold, emotionless Psy and the sensual, emotional Changelings make a great deal of tension. This disparity in how the characters see the world make this a true different worlds story. I loved the character of Faith. For a woman who has been isolated her entire life, she is not weak. She grows and stretches throughout the story and I appreciated that. I also really liked that Vaughn knows that she is a strong woman even when Faith doesn't. One of my favorite scenes is where Faith is fighting the evil that surrounds her and sees that Vaughn has watched over her but not interfered. When she asks why, he says that he knew that she could handle it. Although admittedly dominating and possessive, Vaughn is empowering in surprising ways. The plot of the story develops the overarching story of the series, but is also self-contained and doesn't require that a reader be familiar with prior book in the series. Finally, I love the very sensual, lush way that Singh writes in this book without being purple prose. It reflects the life of the changelings and I really appreciate how she changes in tone depending on what part of the world is being discussed.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of SLAVE TO SENSATION will be happy to know that Sascha and Lucas play important roles in this book.

FINAL DECISION: I have been very impressed with this series. The writing, characters and plot have been excellent and I recommend it.

CONNECTED BOOKS: VISIONS OF HEAT is the second book in the Psy-Changeling series. I reader does not have to read the first book in the series, although the story will be better appreciated with the background of that book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Review: Darian Hunter: Duke of Desire

Darian Hunter: Duke of Desire
Darian Hunter: Duke of Desire by Carole Mortimer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Liked the Characters and the Plot

Continuing the story of dukes who help the English in their battles against Napoleon and the women with whom they fall in love.

THE STORY: Darian Hunter, the Duke of Wolfingham is incensed when he finds out his younger brother has been seen with Mariah Beecham, Countess of Carlisle. Mariah has a very bad reputation. She is rumored to have had numerous lovers before and after her husband's death. When he confronts her, he is intrigued by the strength of the woman and attracted to her despite himself. The two are shocked when it is revealed that they have both been acting as spies for the British crown. They are needed to act as lovers at a house party in order to discover an assassin. Mariah has no intention of becoming involved with Darian. She was forced into marriage by her husband and doesn't intend on becoming involved with anyone again. The two, however, cannot resist one another and as secrets are revealed, the two realize that there is more to the other than they thought.

OPINION: While I found the story adequate, I think that the characters and the story had more promise than was realized. Mariah's backstory was heartbreaking and I think that there was not enough attention paid to how she made the transition to a strong woman. Her actions and her words were contradictory and I just didn't feel that her character was developed enough to explain her contradictions. I think this was just too big a story to be contained in the length of the novel. There are too many things happening and there was not enough emotional depth or character development to support it. The book is a good one time read but doesn't have staying power.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are small cameo appearances by the heroes of the other novels in the series, but not enough to be satisfying.

FINAL DECISION: While I liked this book, it wasn't as good as the second book in the series. The subject matter was full of angst, but the treatment of the subject matter wasn't as deft as the prior book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is the third book in the Dangerous Dukes series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review: Slave to Sensation

Slave to Sensation
Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fabulous, Unique, Emotional Paranormal Romance

The story of a world where the Psy, a cold emotionless race, rules over humans and Changelings (a type of animal shapeshifter). What happens when a Psy and a Changeling fall in love.

THE STORY: Sascha Duncan is a 26 year old Cardinal Psy. The Psy were conditioned to remove emotion from their makeup. Sascha has a secret. She is falling apart because she feels emotion. She has been hiding that fact for years and fears that she is losing control and will be sent to rehabilitation where defective Psy are essentially erased. As part of her job, she begins working with Lucas Hunter, a leopard changeling. Lucas and his pack are searching for a Psy serial killer (who isn't supposed to exist because of the Psy conditioning). Lucas believes that he can use Sascha to discover the killer. Something about Sascha, however, attracts Lucas and he is determined to find out everything about her.

OPINION: I loved this book. I really felt the fears of Sascha as she discovers her true self and I loved how she claims her own identity by the end of the book. Lucas is sexy and playful and Singh's depiction of him just makes a reader want to reach out and pet him. I was impressed with the world building that Singh does. She depicts the world without droning on and on about the details. She world serves the story. I was instantly enthralled by the story and wanted to know the outcome not only of the romance but also the plot itself. Although Sascha is at a difficult part in her life, she is strong and determined and immensely likeable. I admire strong heroines who are also likeable. The romance was sexy and sweet. There was absolutely nothing about this book that I didn't like.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are two prequel novellas to this book. They can be read before or after this book.

FINAL DECISION: SLAVE TO SENSATION was a surprise to me. Singh has created a unique world with great characters. I was instantly sucked into the story and couldn't stop turning the pages. The story has emotional depth and I believed in the characters and their world. I highly recommend this book and can't wait to read more.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SLAVE TO SENSATION is book one of the Psy-Changeling series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Review: Whisper of Sin

Whisper of Sin
Whisper of Sin by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Novella Prequel to Psy-Changeling Series

THE STORY: Ria Wembly is attacked. She is saved by leopard shapeshifters known as changlings. Emmett is a leopard changeling and he immediately knows that Ria is important to him. He is determined to find out who is trying to hurt Ria and to eliminate that threat. Emmett is possessive and dominating and Ria lives with a family that has tried to control her for too long. Can she deal with Emmett?

OPINION: I liked this novella. Singh has created an interesting world and set of characters and I look forward to reading the actual novels in the series. The story between Ria and Emmett is fast and intense. I really enjoyed the glimpses into her family who are a unique bunch. I recommend this novella whether or not you have read the other books in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: I read this book before any of the major novels in the series. While I suspect that there are lots of cameos by characters that appear in the series, I did not feel that I had missed anything. I understood what was happening in the story.

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this story and can't wait to read the full length novels in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This novella is 0.6 of the Psy-Changeling series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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Review: Rogue Spy

Rogue Spy
Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Deeply Moving Historical Spy Romance

The story of two people trained to be spies against England, ROGUE SPY is another complex, deeply moving historical romance by Joanna Bourne. ROGUE SPY continues Bourne's series of novels about the spies in the years surrounding the French Revolution.

THE STORY: Camille "Cami" Leyland is "dutiful niece, British subject, codebreaker and French spy." She is cache: one of the children trained as spies and killers and sent to England as spies for the French Revolution. Cami has spent ten years masquerading as the niece for codebreakers for the British government. Cami's world comes crashing down when she receives a blackmail note demanding that she turn over a code or her identity will be revealed. Although Cami has not actively spied for France, she knows that she must leave but she has to travel to England to find out the identity of the blackmailer in order to protect her "aunts".

In London, Cami runs into Thomas "Pax" Paxton. Cami and Pax were fellow caches who knew each other as children. Pax was sent by the French to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Having been revealed as a spy, Pax has returned to England with his confession. Although Pax has been loyal to the British for years, having rejected his mission, he doesn't know what will happen to him. Cami's appearance presents Pax with another dilemma: will he betray the service again or will be betray Cami.

OPINION: ROGUE SPY is a well plotted, deeply emotional book. The uncertainty about the motivations of the characters gives the story much momentum and the slow unveiling of the true natures and emotions of two people steeped in deception is compelling. The complexity of the story is marvelous. Bourne doesn't play games with her plots. They are gritty and realistic and definite page turners. What I like best about ROGUE SPY is the emotional depth of the characters. Pax and Cami have lead honest lives for years and yet they are tainted by the lies that their childhood forced upon them. Pax has been an assassin for the service for years. The lives he has taken have made him world weary and in some ways much more vulnerable than Cami. In many ways, she takes care of him at the point of his life where he is most vulnerable. The book manages to give readers are great spy story while also delving deeply into the emotional lives of these characters. Fans of the series will also be pleased at the appearances of Doyle and Hawker.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book also does some role reversal with a virgin hero and a sexually experienced heroine. Because of the lies they live, Cami knew that she would not marry and instead decided to seek sexual experience as a substitute. Pax, knowing that he could not bear to lie to women that he cared about, decided to be abstinent. In this book, they find in each other the one person they don't have to lie to. This gives their relationship intellectual, emotional, sexual honesty that is quite beautiful.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. Although it is not as good as THE BLACK HAWK, it is also not as tortuous a journey for the characters. This is my second favorite book of the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ROGUE SPY is the fifth book in the Spymasters series. Readers should note that the books are not in chronological order and that ROGUE SPY occurs during the events of THE BLACK HAWK.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC from the author. I was not asked or required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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Review: Sweet Fortune

Sweet Fortune
Sweet Fortune by Jayne Ann Krentz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Classic Krentz

A classic Krentz from the early 1990s, SWEET FORTUNE is the story of a hardheaded business man and a free spirited woman.

THE STORY: Jessie Benedict is the quirky daughter of an obsessed business man who destroyed his marriages and his family because of his dedication to his business. She has had a string of jobs where she ends up getting herself fired. She now has a job as an assistant to a psychic. Her family wants her to marry her father's new business consultant and CEO Sam "Hatch" Hatchard so that Hatch can take the family business big time and also keep it in the family. Jessie has no intention of marrying a man like her father. Hatch wants Jessie and he intends on showing her that he is different from her father and that he appreciates all of her quirkiness.

OPINION: This book is a nice Krentz. It is not one of her best, but I liked the quirky nature of Jessie. The book is straightforward and the romance is not particularly complex, but I like the variety of characters in the story. I also liked the plot of the story and the resolution of Jessie's wandering spirit is satisfying. This is not a book that I yearn to pick up again and again, but it was an enjoyable read.

WORTH MENTIONING: A common theme in Krentz books and this one in particular is family and the complexity of relationships. The book is populated by unique people who coalesce around Jessie. Krentz's older heroines are often family makers in that they take the people around them and create a family.

FINAL DECISION: I like these older Krentz books. The characters are not what would be written now, but that doesn't bother me. I enjoy the more alpha males brought low by quirky women stories that Krentz writes and this is an enjoyable one.


STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Review: Wyoming Strong

Wyoming Strong
Wyoming Strong by Diana Palmer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lots of Pain and Angst...But Ends in Love

The story of two people who fight and argue and then, of course, fall in love. The characters in this book are both scarred by the past and manage to claw and hurt one another but manage to find the way to love.

THE STORY: Wolf Patterson and Sara Brandon met when they were involved in a fender bender. The two got off on the wrong foot and have been at odds ever since. Wolf is tormented by the betrayal of a woman he loved who taunted him and then tricked him into killing innocent people. He doesn't trust women. Sara was almost raped by her stepfather at age 13 and is fearful of men as a result. She has filled her life with travel and activities but doesn't trust men. These two damaged people were enemies from the start. What they don't know is that they are best friends online and have been for years. They both play World of Warcraft and have worked together and talked through issues without knowing their true identities. The question is how much pain will the two inflict on one another before they realize they are meant for one another.

OPINION: I really like angst filled stories and this one has plenty of angst and drama. Wolf is a complete jerk to Sara. He hurts her tremendously but that is where the healing for these two characters begins. I liked that Wolf is not cured but rather the two begin counseling. The story is a bit overdramatic, but is enjoyable. I really liked Wolf and Sara and enjoyed how they change one another's life for the better despite the fact that they come from a place of hurting one another. The writing is clean and quick moving. The book is not at the level of some of the great romance novels, but for Diana Palmer, this is one of her better efforts.

WORTH MENTIONING: Diana Palmer has a couple of tried and true character archetypes and storylines that she populates with intriguing personalities. Fans of Diana Palmer will recognize her storytelling techniques. Sometimes her books can seem repetitive, but I enjoy them anyways.

FINAL DECISION: I liked sss book because I really enjoy the angst filled stories where two deeply hurt people break free of the past through love.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is book four of the Wyoming Men series, however, it is only tangentially related to those books and is actually better described as the sequel to TEXAS BORN which tells the story of Sara's brother and his ward. That book's timeline overlaps with this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.

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