Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: Four Nights with the Duke

Four Nights with the Duke
Four Nights with the Duke by Eloisa James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I wouldn’t marry a single one of you . . . even if I were desperate! Even if you were the only men left in all England!”

THE STORY: At fifteen years of age, Emilia (“Mia”) Gwendolyn Carrington fell in love with Evander Septimus Brody, the future Duke of Pinder. When a love poem that Mia wrote Vander became public, Mia was humiliated by Vander and his friends reactions. Mia swore that she wouldn’t marry Vander if he were the last man in England. Thirteen years later, Mia is desperate and decides to blackmail Vander into marriage. Vander agrees to submit to the marriage, but decrees that he will only spend four nights a year in bed with his wife – and only when she begs. What Vander doesn’t know is that Mia has a secret as to why she wants marriage to Vander and it doesn’t have anything to do with wanting to spend her life with Vander. What Vander doesn’t expect is that he might be the one begging for the four nights.

OPINION: Warning! Spoilers included: FOUR NIGHTS WITH THE DUKE begins with utter heartbreak for Mia. She is a woman who ultimately doesn’t believe that she will find her happy ending because of her looks. Vander’s rejection of her when she was fifteen creates a deep scar for Mia. While she insists that she will never forgive Vander, the truth is that she obviously still loves him years later. She doesn’t really plan on having a real marriage with Vander because she doesn’t’ believe herself worthy. She is merely desperate to protect her young nephew. Mia is a strong woman who has been heartbroken again and again. She is willing to sacrifice herself for her nephew’s benefit. I loved her as a heroine. Strong, determined and yet vulnerable. I immediately connected with her vulnerable and I smiled and her nerve and determination to not hurt Vander even as she blackmails him.

Vander is wonderful. I loved him in THREE WEEKS WITH LADY X and is he is adorably clueless in this book. While he is blackmailed into marriage, one gets the sense that he doesn’t fight that hard. He is offered a way out by his friends, but instead he marries Mia. He mistakenly believes that she wants to marry him because she loves him so much (not knowing about her nephew) and is dumbfounded when he realizes that he is mistaken. Arrogant and yet adorably sweet. Vander is a hero that just makes me sigh in appreciation. The best parts of his character are demonstrated through his relationship with Mia’s nephew. I loved how immediately accepting and fatherly he is with the nephew.

The relationship between Mia and Vander is sweet and romantic and at times funny and tragic. Several times Mia and Vander almost got together and then were torn apart by their fears. This book demonstrates how precious their relationship is because so many times they could have been torn apart. By the end of this book, Vander is determined to be self-sacrificing but then realizes that he wants Mia no matter what. He wants her enough to fight for her and no one has ever fought for Mia before.

The writing in this book is lively and clever and deeply emotional. James has a wonderful ability to make her characters complicated and witty but not foolish. The book has numerous “Easter eggs” of references to cultural touchstones that readers can tease out and appreciate if they want but the book is accessible if a reader wants to concentrate only on the story told. In the same manner, James sprinkles references to prior characters and books that will please fans but do not exclude new readers.

This is a book that I loved reading the first time and am sure that I am going to read again and again.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of THREE WEEKS OF LADY X and A DUKE OF HER OWN will be pleased to see appearances by the main characters from those books.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. Deeply emotional, funny and complicated, FOUR NIGHTS WITH THE DUKE is the story of two people who were always meant for one another and had a long road to find one another.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FOUR NIGHTS WITH THE DUKE is the eighth book in the Desperate Duchesses series and the second book in the sub-series Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers. This book can be read as a standalone without missing anything from previous books in the series. Vander, however, appears in THREE WEEKS WITH LADY X and reading that book will give readers the most complete view of Vander.


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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Review: Three Weeks With Lady X

Three Weeks With Lady X
Three Weeks With Lady X by Eloisa James

My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Simply Beautiful

"She simply had to find a man who was sweet and kind, and smart enough to realize that she should be the one to run their household."

THE STORY: Lady Xenobia India St. Claire is the daughter of a Marquess. Orphaned and penniless, India has made her own fortune by working as an interior designer and organizer of households. While she has done well to preserve her reputation despite her "unfortunate" occupation, India has decided to retire and find a husband. She agrees to one last job for her friend the Duchess of Villiers: to renovate the new estate house of Mr. Tobias "Thorn" Dautry, the bastard son of Duke of Villiers who wants the house ready for the woman he is wooing to be his wife. Thorn was abandoned by his mother and now wants a woman who has no ambition other than to be a wife and mother and will be a peaceful influence who will not disturb his life. Thorn and India are not peaceful at all immediately. Their meetings are contentious and also incredibly sexy. The two don't even apparently like one another in the beginning and then they travel to an odd friendship then lust and love.

OPINION: I loved this book because it is filled with angst and a wonderful contentious relationship between India and Thorn. At times, these two stubborn people seem to be trying to do everything to sabotage their possible relationship. Both have abandonment issues from childhood and thus they have serious trust issues. Again and again, one or the other pushes the other away only to be helplessly drawn back.

The pasts of both Thorn and India makes these characters have more dark spaces in their souls and make them incredibly complex. These characters make mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are obviously destructive and sometimes they are only innocent mistakes in judgment. The inability of these characters to recognize their own patterns and missteps actually really works here.

There is something incredibly beautiful of two people who can heal one another and build a strong relationship.

Having read the entire Desperate Duchesses series, I was especially interested in how Thorn makes the same mistake his father does in choosing a wife. (The Duke of Villiers makes a significant plot turn for the book).

Readers get to see a sweet side of Thorn that was evident in his childhood when he takes in the orphaned daughter of a childhood friend. Rose is precocious and funny and creates additional problems for the characters, but she also gives readers a chance to see Thorn's protective loving side at the same time he is fighting intensely with India.

This book is filled with emotions. At times, I laughed at loud: Thorn catching India reading "naughty" books and the interesting decor of the house when India first arrives. At times, I was angry with the characters for their foolish decisions. At times, I was in tears at the deep painful emotions and at the intensely beautiful ones. One of those books that I can't help thinking about and wanting to re-read passages again, I know this is an enduring favorite.

Another point in the book I really liked was the series of letters that Thorn and India send to one another: serious, funny, bawdy, impertinent these letters really allow the intellectual relationship between India and Thorn to grow.

I also really loved how James allows the readers to see into the future of the characters through the Epilogue. I always end up smiling at these. At the end of this one I also ended up crying a little because it was so incredibly beautiful.

WORTH MENTIONING: The hero of the next book in the series, FOUR NIGHTS WITH THE DUKE, is Vander Brody who plays an important part in this novel.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. A hero and heroine who scratch and claw at one another, a seemingly doomed love, and a lyrical beautifully written story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THREE WEEKS WITH LADY X is the first book in the Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers series, which is also a spin off of the Desperate Duchesses series. Sometimes, THREE WEEKS WITH LADY X is also referred to as the seventh book in that series. THREE WEEKS WITH LADY X can be read as standalone. The hero, however, appears as a child in two of the Desperate Duchesses series: THIS DUCHESS OF MINE and A DUKE OF HER OWN. It is not necessary to read either of those books to enjoy this one, but they add to the story of Thorn.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

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Review: Shadow Alpha

Shadow Alpha
Shadow Alpha by Carole Mortimer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enjoyable Sexy Quick Read

"Dair could only hope, for everyone's sake, that no harm had come to this man's sister. Sweet little Katya."

THE STORY: Dair Grayson is connected to one of the underworld families in London. He has spent over a decade trying to build a life away from that life. When he is asked by the head of the Markovic underworld family to help find out what is going on with Katya Markovic Orlov who married into another underworld family as part of an arranged marriage orchestrated by their father. Dair remembers a sweet innocent Katya from when she was fifteen and he was eighteen. Those memories of that sweet girl get him to agree to find out what is happening. When Dair discovers Katya he finds out that her husband has had her placed at a private clinic where she is essentially a prisoner. When he rescues her, the two take off on a world adventure hiding from the forces of her husband's family.

OPINION: I liked much about this book. The relationship between Kat and Dair is hot and spicy. Kat is no shrinking violet despite her history. She is strong and I loved how she and Dair fight and argue and how that quickly turns into sexual heat. Dair is heroic and yet has a dark past. I liked that they have a great connection and I really did believe that they had chemistry between them. This is a shorter book and thus does not have the great development in story and characters that a longer novel would. That being said, I did enjoy these characters and will continue reading the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: My biggest complaint about this book is that for a woman who was terrorized by her husband and lost a child only two months ago, she quickly turned to a new relationship with Dair. Perhaps too quickly for me.

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this book as a quick uncomplicated read. Will it be one I want to read again and again? No. But I enjoyed it while I was reading the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SHADOW ALPHA is the third book in the ALPHA series. There is not necessary to have read any of the prior books in the series. Although characters from Book 2, DARK ALPHA, are mentioned briefly, they make no appearance.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Review: A Duke of Her Own

A Duke of Her Own
A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Duke of Villiers Gets His Happy Ending

"In one swift gesture he turned her hand over and pressed a burning kiss on her palm, a touch so fast she didn't see it, though her hand curled instinctively, as if to protect the kiss itself."

THE STORY: Leopold Dautry, the Duke of Villiers, has been gathering his illegitimate children to bring into his household. Now he needs to find a wife to be a mother to them. He has two choices: Eleanor and Lisette, both daughters of Dukes, they have appropriate statute necessary to help overcome Villiers scandalous behavior. Villiers is instantly attracted to Eleanor but discovers that Lisette is Villiers' idea of a perfect mother. Eleanor has been burned in love before. As a teen, she was in love with a Duke who left her to wed another. She fears that she will always be second choice.

OPINION: This is a complicated romance. There are numerous triangles at work during the story and it is not until the end that things are resolved. I loved Eleanor who is passionate and loving and deserves better than what she has gotten in life. By the end, Eleanor has decided that she will not be second choice for anyone. Villiers eventually grovels and a happy ending ensues (even though Eleanor should have made him suffer more). Long time readers of the series will not be surprised by Villiers poor decisions regarding women since they have been common in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is the first book in the series where the focus is only on one story (since that is the only one remaining).

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. Villiers is man who is trying to do the right thing for his illegitimate children. Because of this and his background, he doesn't recognize how special Eleanor and himself are and he almost makes a horrendous mistake. Eleanor is perfect for him and he eventually realizes it and their ending is incredibly romantic.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A DUKE OF HER OWN is the sixth book in the Desperate Duchesses series. While this book can standalone, I think that it is best appreciated as part of the entire series since the Duke of Villier's story and progression takes place throughout the entire series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.75 stars.

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Review: This Duchess of Mine

This Duchess of Mine
This Duchess of Mine by Eloisa James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Complicated and Sometimes Difficult Book

"Life should not be measured by time."

THE STORY: Jemma and Elijah, the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont, married young. While Jemma was infatuated with her Duke, she was devastated to find her new husband having sex with his mistress just a few weeks after their wedding. Jemma fled to France where she lived for eight years and had several affairs. She returned to England at the request of her husband to produce an heir. A year later (after the events of the prior series books), the two have begun to forge a new relationship. What Jemma doesn't know, however, is that Elijah wanted her to return because he knows that his heart is giving out and he expects to die soon.

OPINION: For me, the premise of the Beaumonts' story has always been difficult because I don't tend to like stories with adultery involved. I also believe, however, that if I choose to read a book, I must attempt to accept and understand the characters. While I never really felt that the excuses Elijah and Jemma have for their adulterous actions were justified, I did feel that their reasons made sense to them and that they, in this book, they attempted to actually get to know one another and build a relationship.

There is a misguided attempt by Jemma to give Elijah another woman interested in him. Luckily that part of the story is short and really highlights that Jemma doesn't really understand her husband. There is a great amount of strategy and plotting between these two. Both chess masters, Jemma and Elijah have a tendency to be more strategic than honest. Chess plays an important part in this story, both in the way that the characters relate to one another and also in a very sexy chess match in bed that has been promised for a long time in the series.

For a book that starts somewhat strategic and cold, it quickly becomes deeply emotional as Jemma discovers that her husband is dying. That information burns away the barriers between these two as they despair about all the time they have lost through their foolish choices.

As an aside, there is nothing I love more than a book that can make me cry when I know that there will be a happy ending.

WORTH MENTIONING: The Desperate Duchesses series has been like a soap opera with numerous couples populating each of the books. After the four previous books all that remains is the Beaumonts (this book's story) and the Duke of Villiers.

FINAL DECISION: Despite the fact that I really dislike stories about couples who have committed adultery, I did love how these two learned to love one another for the first time.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THIS DUCHESS OF MINE is the fifth book in the Desperate Duchesses series. The story of the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont has been an integral part of the entire series. I believe this book is best enjoyed as part of the series and not on its own since much of the couple's journey has already occurred by the time this book starts.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Review: When the Duke Returns

When the Duke Returns
When the Duke Returns by Eloisa James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Married Couple Finding Out What Marriage Is

"He's a virgin."

THE STORY: Lady Isidore Del'Fino has been the Duchess of Cosway for eleven years and hasn't laid eyes on her husband. Married by proxy at the age of twelve, Isidore has been impatiently waiting for her husband to reappear from his travels to Asia and Africa. Having finally managed to lure him back, Isidore is shocked to find out that her husband is a virgin and intends on waiting until they have a "real" wedding to consummate their marriage. Isidore has waited long enough and intends on getting on with her marriage. Simeon Jermyn, Duke of Cosway returns to England finding a sexy, vivacious woman instead of the docile woman he was expecting. He is now not sure if he wants to be married to a woman who challenges his peace and calm.

OPINION: There was much I loved about his book. I adored Simeon and how he thinks that he must keep control of everything. I loved how Isidore challenges his ordered life with her vibrant sometimes chaotic ways. This is a novel about marriage and partnership and accepting one another. My favorite part is how Simeon argues that they both need to change in the marriage for it to be successful, but what ultimately makes their marriage work is acceptance of who they are -- not change.

WORTH MENTIONING: I was emotionally engaged especially with the Beaumont/Villiers triangle.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this story because it was different from the others in the series. The story of two virgins who have been married for over a decade was intriguing and sweet.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHEN THE DUKE RETURNS is the fourth book in the Desperate Duchesses series. The book can be read as a standalone although readers must be aware that there are two other ongoing stories involving the Beaumonts and the Duke of Villiers that have been going on since the beginning of the series and continues here. Those stories are only briefly recapped.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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Review: Duchess By Night

Duchess By Night
Duchess By Night by Eloisa James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Heroine Disguised as a Man

THE STORY: Harriet, Duchess of Berrow decides to throw off her widow weeds to spend time at a scandalous house party. Even more scandalous, she decides to come dressed as a man. There she meets the host, Lord Strange. The two begin to do manly things together like fence and ride astride and gamble. Lord Strange is disturbed because he keeps having improper feelings toward "Harry" and Harriet is perturbed because she begins to have feelings of her own.

OPINION: I loved this book. Harriet has had a tragic story and it was wonderful to see her having a happy ending. She really blossoms in her disguise as it frees her from all the expectations of others and herself. For the first time, she is able to discover what she wants in life. Her relationship with Strange really begins as a friendship that quickly turns romantic. I really like how the two talk about things. Strange is a jerk in the crisis that ultimately leads to the happy ending, but it is short lived and the ending made me so happy that I forgave him.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is the first in the series where the overlapping storylines were not as prominent because the book takes place away from London. There is more focus on the primary couple here.

FINAL DECISION: I keep liking this series more and more. This book is great.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is the third book in the Desperate Duchesses series. This book can be read independent of the others in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.

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Review: An Affair Before Christmas

An Affair Before Christmas
An Affair Before Christmas by Eloisa James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Married Couple Finding Love With One Another

"It was like the tortures of Tantalus to desire someone who never desired him To be married to someone like that was like being tied to a well and never allowed to drink."

THE STORY: Lady Perdita (Poppy) Selby, Duchess of Fletcher has been married for four years. Their marriage on the surface seems fine, but their sex life has been unhappy for both of them. Fletch has loves his wife, but the years have shown him that she doesn't want the passionate relationship that he does. When he contemplates adultery, Poppy decides that they would be better off separated. Their separation shows them that there might be something worth trying to save in their marriage.

OPINION: I love novels about the difficulties of marriage. Poppy and Fletch are likeable characters who truly love one another but have to learn to communicate with one another. Poppy especially has to learn to hear her own voice rather than that of her mother. I liked this book better than the first of the series. There are intersecting stories so the reader needs to be prepared to follow various storylines and characters. Many of those stories are not completed in this book and readers must continue the series to discover the fate of other characters. I enjoyed the saga feel of the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are many criticisms of this book because of the reasons that Poppy does not enjoy sex with her husband. Almost every one of those criticisms boils the reasons down to one. I completely disagree. Sexual disfunction and incompatibility and the inability of women to find satisfaction in their sex lives in a serious and real topic and this book covers a lot of the territory of the reasons: expectations, misunderstandings, ignorance, desire to retain control, lack of communication between partners. This book actually felt real and serious to me, not a joke even if part of the reason seems silly.

FINAL DECISION: I really loved this book because Poppy and Fletch really do love one another but just have to learn to open themselves up to one another in ways that they didn't expect in the beginning of their marriage.

CONNECTED BOOKS: AN AFFAIR BEFORE CHRISTMAS is the second book in the Desperate Duchesses series. This book can be read apart from the first book in the series, but the stories of the characters are interconnecting with characters dropping off only after their happy ending.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Review: Desperate Duchesses

Desperate Duchesses
Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Different Style of Romance Novel with Multiple Stories

"She was a lovely little scrap, for all she'd fallen in love with the wrong man."

THE STORY: Lady Roberta St. Giles sees the Duke of Villiers and falls in love with him because his cold, restrained manner is such a relief after the melodramatic, excessive emotions of her father. She comes to London to try and catch the Duke. There Roberta stays with a distant cousin, the Duchess of Beaumont, who has marital problems of her own. Staying with them is also the brother of the Duchess, Damon Reeve, Earl of Gryffyn. While Roberta is determined to marry Villiers, she can't help kissing Damon.

OPINION: This book is structured differently than a typical romance novel. There are numerous stories that are all occurring at once. It is more like a soap opera than a typical book. This book introduces the numerous characters that have stories in the subsequent books in the series. While I liked Damon, I found his motives somewhat opaque because readers don't get his point of view but rather have to rely on the observations of others. Roberta believes herself worldly, but is actually very naive. I absolutely was fascinated by other characters in the book and want to know their stories. This book also has a different moral sensibility than what historical readers might be used to because this book takes place in the 1780s rather than the more familiar Regency period. Once I cued in on the different structure of this book, I enjoyed it knowing that it was episode one rather than a complete beginning, middle and ending itself.

WORTH MENTIONING: The relationship between the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont who have a book later in the series, THIS DUCHESS OF MINE, steals the show from the hero and heroine of this book.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this book although it was somewhat disorienting because of the multiple stories involved in the book. This is a beginning of a series and not a self-contained book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DESPERATE DUCHESSES is the first book in the Desperate Duchesses series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Review: Deep

Deep by Kylie Scott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


THE STORY: Lizzy Rollins and Ben Nicholson had a one night stand two months ago and now Lizzy has found out she is pregnant. Lizzy is a twenty-one year old college student. Her sister has just married one of the band members of Stage Dive. Ben is the bass player for the band. Although there was chemistry between the two since they met months ago, Lizzy is the sister of one of Ben's band mates and therefore off limits. Lizzy's pregnancy forces Ben and Lizzy to confront their feelings for one another.

OPINION: With flawed characters who make mistakes and have to deal with the consequences of their actions, DEEP is sometimes frustrating and often sexy, sweet and funny.

For those readers who have trouble with repetitive mistakes, warning that Ben has problems that don't go away. For those who have read prior books in the series, that pattern will be familiar. The characters in DEEP struggle with their demons and don't get over their problems easily.

DEEP is not as dark as prior books in the series. In many ways, this book is sweet, but Ben doesn't know how to have a relationship and he badly messes up with Lizzy. While he does make multiple mistakes with her, the reader can also see his growth as a character.

Lizzy is the strong one here despite her youth. She is a survivor who makes the most of her situation. She acknowledges her mistakes. At the same time, she is at times an unrealistic romantic who builds up fantasies in her head but doesn't always ask for what she wants. When her fantasy doesn't happen, she gives up rather than fight.

As with all the Stage Dive books, DEEP is very sexy and hot. This book is also very sweet. Ben and Lizzy build a relationship in parts. I especially liked their texts to one another which just felt sweet and honest. I laughed at the way pregnancy was portrayed in this book.
It felt more realistic than other portrayals and is not just a plot device.

DEEP is not my favorite of the series, that goes to LEAD, but I especially enjoyed the interaction of all the couples in the series. All the characters play important roles in this book so fans of the series will be pleased.

Once I started this book, I couldn't stop even reading late into the night. Readers who have followed the series, will know that something has been going on between Ben and Lizzy. This book answers the questions of what happened and then goes forward giving all the Stage Dive characters a happy ending.

WORTH MENTIONING: DEEP introduces the character of Vaughan who is going to be the hero of the spin off Dive Bar series. He almost stole the show for me.

FINAL DECISION: I recommend this book especially for fans of the Stage Dive series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DEEP is the fourth book in the Stage Dive series. It is not necessary to read the previous books to enjoy DEEP although starting at the first book is the best way to appreciate this one since all the couples have prominent roles in DEEP.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 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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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Review: The Scoundrel's Lover

The Scoundrel's Lover
The Scoundrel's Lover by Jess Michaels

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"You are mine right now, Annabelle. Don't forget that."

THE STORY: Annabelle Flynn wants respectability and intends to use her brother's new dukedom and her dowry to find a titled husband. The Flynn family reputation has felt like a burden to Annabelle. The Flynns biggest problem right now is their brother Crispin who is drinking, gambling and fighting too much. Annabelle's quest to save her brother leads her to the sex and gambling club of Marcus Rivers. Marcus has wanted Annabelle for years and when she arrives at his club, he can tell that she is interested in what she sees there. The two end up agreeing to explore Annabelle's sexuality and yet leave her a virgin for marriage. Things become complicated, however, because Annabelle realizes that the title men she thinks she wants pale in comparison with Marcus.

OPINION: I really liked the character of Marcus in this book. He is a self-made man who runs a naughty club and yet isn't really a dark character. He is actually very sweet. He has wanted Annabelle for a long time but believes that he is not good enough for her. When the two enter their bargain, Marcus knows that it can only be temporary.

Annabelle is a strong woman with deep desires who has made the mistake of thinking that respectability is all she needs in life -- not love and not desire. She takes control of her sexuality. I was especially interested in the fact that she refuses to adhere to stereotypical roles for women all her life. She is educated and when she finds Marcus who appreciates her knowledge, she is seduced by his acceptance of her.

Unsurprisingly because this book takes place in a sex club, there are some pretty hot sex scenes. The emphasis, however, remains on the relationship between Marcus and Annabelle. I think my favorite part of the book is when they are discussing the accounting books of the club. That is where the sexiest part of their relationship is born because they both desperately yearn for someone to accept them.

My only complaint is that I felt that Annabelle too quickly jumped into a sexual relationship with Marcus. The transition felt a little jarring which diminished my overall enjoyment of the book a little.

Readers also get a glimpse of Crispin Flynn's problems in preparation for his book which will be the third book of the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of THE OTHER DUKE will be happy to see Rafe and Serafina enjoying their happy ending.

FINAL DECISION: I liked the characters in this book and I am especially partial to good guy scoundrels. The book is hot. My only complaint is that the relationship between Annabelle and Marcus too quickly becomes sexual and I felt that it was jarring.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE SCOUNDREL'S LOVER is the second book in The Notorious Flynns series. This book can be read as a standalone although the couple from the first book makes an appearance here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 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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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review: Rock Hard

Rock Hard
Rock Hard by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Trust me, Ms. Baird?"
"Not when you smile like that."

THE STORY: Charlotte Baird has hidden herself in ill fitting clothes and a mousey personality. After a horrible incident in her past, Charlotte set about protecting herself in as many ways as possible. Her steady date for the past year is more interested in talking about his hobbies than getting physical with Charlotte and that is the way she likes it. When the failing company she works for hires a new CEO to turn around the company, Charlotte is intimidated by the large athletic strong man. She nicknames him T-Rex as he chews up the upper ranks of the company.

Gabriel Bishop is an ex-professional rugby player who has made a name for himself as a turnaround artist for failing companies. Gabriel is protective of the mouse he sees in Charlotte but it intrigued at the glimpses of the strong woman that he sometimes sees.

OPINION: I loved this book because of the strong, complex characters of Charlotte and Gabriel. Their relationship is incredibly beautiful and I really like that their relationship takes time to develop. I appreciated that the book allows the characters to acknowledge the dangers of office romances and especially boss/employee relationships. While those issues are quickly dismissed, the characters at least do acknowledge those issues.

Charlotte's story is incredibly sad and yet she has survived and managed to create a decent life for herself. I don't want to give away the exact nature of her past as information is disclosed to readers in the same way that Gabriel learns the truth. The scenes are powerful and heart wrenching.

Gabriel is my favorite part of this book. He is an alpha hero and yet is incredibly thoughtful, caring and protective. He is patient with Charlotte and places her peace of mind above his own desires. For sexy good guy heroes, he is one of the best.

Strong characters and relationships are a hallmark of Singh's books. Her characters, including those here, are complex multifaceted people. The relationship between these two people is adult and mature. Charlotte and Gabriel talk through their issues and relationship. They are also sexy and sensual. This book is about Charlotte embracing her own sexuality.

For fans of the Thea and David sexy and funny email exchanges from ROCK COURTSHIP (the series novella) will be pleased that there are similar exchanges of written correspondence in this book. While not as extensive or clever as in ROCK COURTSHIP, there are some sweet and funny moments between Charlotte and Gabriel that made me smile.

WORTH MENTIONING: The events of ROCK HARD take place at the same time as those in the first book in the series ROCK ADDICTION.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book because of Charlotte and Gabriel. Their story made me smile and cry. They are fully realized complex characters. Gabriel especially is a wonderful alpha good guy hero who is sexy and patient and caring.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ROCK HARD is the second novel in the Rock Kiss series. It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give ROCK HARD 4.5 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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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Review: Ask Me Nicely

Ask Me Nicely
Ask Me Nicely by Amy Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Messed up Woman and Sweetheart Guy

"There was something very broken about Sal Kennedy."

THE STORY: Sally Kennedy is a veterinarian who has a series of men that she has sex with only once and then discards. She is living the only way she knows after a horrific accident where she lost everything. Her current roommate, Doyle Jackson, is a temporary employee in her office. The two have a platonic relationship, but the sparks between the two have been evident from the beginning. One drunken night for Sal changes their relationship as Doyle is determined to win Sal's affection and make her see him not as an employee or platonic roommate and not as a one night sex buddy, but as someone to have a relationship with.

OPINION: I loved this book because of Doyle. Sal is really messed up but Doyle is willing to wait for her to recognize that there can be something between them. Once Sal gives him an opening, Doyle is willing to be patient and show Sal that he is interested in the person that she hides behind her shields. He is incredibly masculine and demands that Sal see him as a strong man and not someone that she can manipulate in order to hide her true self.

I liked how the two have a non-traditional dating relationship that Sal resists even as Doyle finds ways to breach her defenses. I didn't have any expectations of this book as I read it on the recommendation of someone else, and I really liked the slow building relationship between Sal and Doyle even as they had very hot sexual encounters. It felt real and painful and ultimately made me smile.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is about grief. Sal's version of grief is dark and self-destructive but allows her to get out of bed in the morning when she might otherwise not.

FINAL DECISION: I really liked this book because of Doyle. He is a wonderful guy who is sweet and understanding and willing to stand by Sal even as she is defensive and broken. He made this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is connected to NO MORE MR. NICE GUY but can be read as a standalone. I haven't read the first book and missed nothing.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Review: Viper Game

Viper Game
Viper Game by Christine Feehan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

GhostWalkers Go In A Wilder Direction

"You got trouble stamped all over you, woman. Any man can see it a mile out."

THE STORY: Wyatt Fontenot has regrets about his decision to become a GhostWalker like his brother. He left home a healer and returned a killer. Enhanced as a super soldier, Wyatt has the reflexes and instincts of a cat. When he returns home, he encounters Pepper who is a sexy, deadly trained assassin who can entranced and kill her prey like a snake. Pepper is trying to protect three little girls who are also enhanced with deadly viper talents. Wyatt and Pepper must determine if they can trust one another and accepts the talents that they have been given and also try to rescue the girls from the man who is determined to destroy them.

OPINION: I ended up liking this book because I really liked the characters of Wyatt and Pepper. They are both pretty messed up people because of their enhancements and both have to learn to accept themselves along with each other. The GhostWalkers series has become stranger as the books have progressed. In the beginning, characters were enhanced with strength and psychic talents. Now we have people crossed with cats, snakes and spiders. I don't mind suspension of disbelief, but there is no doubt that this series has changed from what is was in the beginning.

My other small complaint is that the timeline of this book doesn't mesh with the others in the series. Too much has happened to Wyatt in the time from NIGHT GAME to VIPER GAME to be accounted for in the few years between the two books in the timeline.

This book has dark overtones as the relationship between Pepper and Wyatt is obsessive and possessive because of the characteristics of them both. At the same time, Feehan has lightened the mood by giving us another glimpse of the Fontenot grandmother Nonny who is adorable and makes any book that she appears in. The way that she treats Wyatt and his team just makes the reader smile. The book need smiles because at times it seems impossible that there can be a happy ending in the relationship between Wyatt and Pepper because the two have extreme difficulties to overcome because she has been created to need sex in order to control her.

I also really appreciate that the overarching story seems to be firmly in control again. For several books, the story became to unfocused and confusing that the whole series future seemed in doubt. Now, the story has been refocused on Whitney and most of the extraneous conspiracies have been pared away which makes the series stronger. I look forward to Feehan fulfilling the promises of several couples that she has hinted at including an interesting pairing in this book.

WORTH MENTIONING: I really hoped to see Gator and Flame from NIGHT GAME since this book is about Gator's brother. Alas, there was not even a cameo.

FINAL DECISION: I really liked this book even as I felt that the whole nature of the GhostWalkers series has become more fantastical than scientific. Pepper is a deeply damaged heroine and I love those. I also felt that the series is moving forward after a couple of books that got too complicated and unfocused.

CONNECTED BOOKS: VIPER GAME is the eleventh book in the GhostWalkers series. This one can be read apart from the others because there is enough information here to catch on to what is happening in the overarching story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Review: The Taming of Xander Sterne

The Taming of Xander Sterne
The Taming of Xander Sterne by Carole Mortimer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not as Good as the First Book

THE STORY: Xander Sterne is a billionaire who was injured in a car accident. Sam Smith moves in to act as his caretaker for two weeks. She brings her five year old daughter. Xander doesn't really want Sam there but he quickly becomes entranced by Sam and her daughter. Sam, however, is threatened by her ex-husband who is determined to control Sam but using their daughter against her.

OPINION: I wanted to like this book because Xander's story intrigued me in THE REDEMPTION OF DARIUS STERNE. Unfortunately, I learned more about Xander in his brother's book than I did here. The story and romance was adequate, but I wouldn't pick up this book to read again. I liked Sam's little girl who was adorable and I really liked how the three of them interacted.

WORTH MENTIONING: I really liked the epilogue which gives an update for both brothers.

FINAL DECISION: This book was set up to be a great story: a tortured hero who meets a woman trying to make it on her own and raise her sweet little girl. Ultimately, however, Xander remains too unknown as a character to be interesting which means that the romance is not as good as it could have been.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE TAMING OF XANDER STERNE is the second book in the Twin Tycoons series. This book can be read independent of the other.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

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