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Currently Browsing: contemporary romance
May
7

Review: Mercy by HelenKay Dimon

Review: Mercy by HelenKay Dimon Mercy Author: HelenKay Dimon Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Sizzling romance and an intricate plot put HelenKay Dimon at the top of new-to-me authors for 2014. She’s on my auto buy list, and someone restrain my one-click finger, or I’ll pick up her entire backlist. I was less than 25% done with Mercy, the first title in Ms. Dimon’s Holton Woods series, when I announced on Goodreads that **everyone** should go preorder this title. When a book is good enough to keep me up most of the night, it’s good stuff. I liked the way all the details made their way into the story, but there wasn’t an info dump. The beginning of a detailed novel oftentimes has at least a couple areas that give me important stuff I need to know to effectively read the book, and I was impressed to not find one. The action started IMMEDIATELY, and the pace was quick throughout. Every time I thought I was going to find a lull, nope. Makes it difficult for me to put down the Kindle to sleep. And eat. The characters totally made this novel, and were crafted to exist. They were realistic, believable, and drew their first breath the minute I started reading. The five major characters that we saw in this title impressed me. I want to see more of them, and I’m really glad there will be another book before the end of the year (Only, slated for October 2014), so I get to revisit these characters. Mercy took place, primarily, within the walls of a nightclub. Two residences were established, as well as meeting rooms and offices. The heroine for this fabulous journey was Becca. This girl has more guts than… someone twice her size. She was the awesome kick-ass woman that doesn’t normally need someone to take care of her. I wonder if we can get a YA book about Becca. She’s a great role model for kids (especially girls!) that have overcome adversity. Becca’s also one of those characters a lot of people are able to identify with. Seems as though she’s on a super-secret CIA hit list, and they’ve got one attempt under their belt. The rest of her special ops team is also on the list. I admire Becca. When she could have headed underground and basically disappeared, she went to Jarrett, knowing he would help her. Because they had the whole trust vibe going previously,...
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May
6

Review: My Wicked Masters by Ann Mayburn

Review: My Wicked Masters by Ann Mayburn My Wicked Masters Author: Ann Mayburn Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: The fourth title in Ms. Mayburn’s excellent Club Wicked series focuses on a few familiar faces. Rhiannon Mirga, known at Club Wicked as Goddess, has been a server at the club for three years. She’s known by her icy demeanor and for her issues with anger management. What isn’t known by many is that Rhiannon has a horribly painful past, which keeps her locked up and afraid to open up to others. The story also features best friends, Masters Liam and Rory, whose backstory is told in the wonderful novella, My Wicked Trainers. The pair are the best submissive trainers at Club Wicked, but they are considering a temporary break from action. The pair have been best mates for years, but their undenied mutual attraction is tearing them apart. It is only after hearing Rhiannon’s pleas for help that the pair decide to give it one more try. Early in My Wicked Masters, we learn that Rhiannon is not all that she appears. Her lack of self-confidence and inability to trust others becomes blatantly clear to the reader, and fortunately, some of the submissives at the club. At their urging, she approached Masters Liam and Rory, and it is in this scene that we see glimpses of the woman Rhiannon is meant to be as she pleads with the pair to take her on. The entire scene is very emotional and well written. We see the difference between Rhiannon and Goddess, and so do the men. Rhiannon is a likable character, one I rarely took issue with. However, I did get frustrated with how quickly Rhiannon would become Goddess and assume the worst of Rory and Liam. It’s not that she just assumes the worst, it’s that she is so rude and mean to two men who have never given her any reason to doubt them. Her jealousy of other women was too over the top at times. I’m so glad that the men didn’t usually let her get away with her reactions. However, it is Liam and Rory’s story that steals the show. Since we are privy to both males’ POVs, we learn early on that each as an undying attraction and love for the other. It is so heart-wrenching to see how this denial is tearing apart the best friends. It is only through their at first competitive but then mutual love...
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May
5

Review Frisky Business by Tawna Fenske

Review Frisky Business by Tawna Fenske Frisky Business Author: Tawna Fenske Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Tawna Fenske is a new author to me.  Frisky Business is her third romantic comedy, and it was well-timed because I needed a good laugh—and a few audible groans.  It’s clear that Fenske has a very naughty sense of humor.  Given the preponderance of sexual innuendos, suggestive jokes, and eye rolling puns, I can only imagine what she didn’t include.  I can picture her sitting at her computer in stitches, appearing mental to the cat on the ledge and, heaven help them, anyone walking by the open window.  Main characters Will Barclay and Marley Cartman are sharp, quick-witted, and creative. This slightly silly, sometimes a little over-the-top, story was a sweet read.  There is a lot of teasing going on throughout the plot while Marley and Will try, but can’t seem to get together.  Great chemistry pushes at both of them hard, but something or someone always obstructs their path.  It’s probably better that way, however, because it’s strictly against company policy for boss and subordinate to date. As Marley starts her new job handling donor relations for a wildlife sanctuary, she is undeniably attracted to the president of the board, Will Barclay. While Marley is trying to ignore him, she sets out to date “Average Joe” in the hope of finding a man less self-obsessed than the wealthy, money-focused men she’s dated to this point, especially including her ex-fiancé.  Even her own father would have her marry for money and be well kept rather than for  her own happiness.  Unfortunately, Marley’s ability to pick men is just as bad with the blue collar crowd.  I kind of wish one of these hard working men had been a more viable, less flawed potential match, increasing the tension over who she would eventually choose. Will is not without his issues either. He’s been deceived in the worst way, but can’t escape the reminder of it either.  He just doesn’t trust any woman.  He’s been burned, and it’s easier to be alone than to risk being hurt.  Marley makes him question that position—and want to put her in several positions.  See, now I’m doing it.  When you read Frisky Business it can’t be helped—just don’t call your mother while you’re in the middle of it or something very naughty may come out of your mouth.  Maybe it does anyway.  Ok, I’m going to stop now.  Go read the...
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May
1

Review & Giveaway: Giving In by Maya Banks

Review & Giveaway: Giving In by Maya Banks Giving In Author: Maya Banks Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Maya Banks is always an author I enjoy reading. I look forward to her titles, and she’s pretty much an auto-read for me. What I like the most about what she’s putting out lately is that I get a whole trilogy within a year’s time. I. Get. The. WHOLE. Story. This makes me happy! Ms. Banks’s Surrender Trilogy has definitely been on my list of anticipated titles for 2014, and I can’t wait to read the final installment, due out in August. I think what I enjoyed the most about Giving In was the growth and change in the main characters. The over-all story arc was complimentary to the previous title in the book, and I can see where the conclusion of the trilogy is heading. We saw Joss and Dash, the couple from Letting Go, the first title in the Surrender Trilogy; while their arc definitely ended with their title, we saw how achieving their HEA solidified their bond and allowed them to extend their love beyond their own little world. Chessy and Tate – the couple of focus for the last title in the series, Taking It All, had more growth in their plot arc. Which makes me chomp at the bit to get my hands on this book. I was a bit nervous as I started to read Giving In. I strongly encourage readers to pick up the first title in the trilogy before reading this one, as there’s quite a bit of set-up contained in that book. I was nervous about how Kylie would be pushed to her limits by Jensen. I was nervous about how Jensen would relate to Kylie. I was even more nervous about how the dynamic between them would play out in the office, as Jensen was a new partner in the business her deceased brother, Carson, and Dash had formed. The business seemed to be an integral part of how Kylie defined herself, and I saw the potential for a complete train-wreck pulling out of the station as I started this book. I shouldn’t have worried. Ms. Banks had a phenomenal plot developed surrounding these two damaged characters that had me laughing, crying, and saying OMG. The tender intimacy between these characters made me pull Mr. VampBard a little closer, and appreciate our own relationship even more. As the story opens, there’s a huge business deal coming...
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Apr
22

Review: Catching Cary by Megan Slayer

Review: Catching Cary by Megan Slayer Catching Cary Author: Megan Slayer Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Can a formerly famous singer find real happiness with a younger man he just met who’s trying to escape his past? He just might in this short, sexy read about mistakes and second chances. Stuck in what seems like an eternal holding pattern, but for very different reasons, Layne and Cary are both ready to move on from their current situations. While neither of them is looking for a relationship, they don’t realize how lonely they really are until happenstance and bad karaoke bring them together. Easily read in a single sitting, with everything a story needs for a happily ever after, Catching Cary has it all covered: a likable main couple, drama, explicit sex scenes, and the bad guy even gets his comeuppance in the end. While the story itself progressed just as I expected it to, this is still a sweet tale, with plenty of heat between the main characters and a happy ending, too. If you’re looking for a quick m/m read with a feel-good resolution, then Catching Cary might be the perfect addition to your list. My Rating: B+: Liked It A Lot About the Book: Sometimes giving into fate gets you to the place you most want to be.  Cary Hazard walked away from his life as the front man for the band, Cascadia, to embrace a quieter existence in Zero. With no celebrities and no one wanting things from him, he’s happy. He’s also lonely. He wants to find that one special person to warm his nights and love him tattoos and all. Will he find what he wants or end up alone again or will the hunk at the Eight Ball bar be his saving grace?  Layne Stevens has a past he’s not proud of.  He’s looking for redemption, but not in the hands of a former star. If he can stay in the shadows, he’s happy, but lonely. The man singing at the bar has his full attention. He wants to wrap himself up in the guy’s strong arms. Will he be able to open up and offer his heart or will the truth destroy everything he holds dear? It’s a matter of catching Cary. Release Date: February 4, 2014 Publisher: Decadent Publishing Series: Zero, Ohio #4 ISBN: # 978-1613336519 Genre: LGBTQ, m/m, Contemporary Erotic Romance Format(s): e-book Book Source: Publisher Purchase Info: Catching Cary (Zero, Ohio...
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Apr
17

Review: Straight Shooter by Heidi Belleau

Review: Straight Shooter by Heidi Belleau Straight Shooter Author: Heidi Belleau Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Austin Puett is straight. He has to be, right? He plays on his college hockey team, can take a hit with the best of them, and is even next in line to be alternate captain. There’s no room in the game for anyone who’s not one hundred percent heterosexual. His life would be great if only he wasn’t about to be kicked out of his house and lose his job for being intolerant of his flamboyant roommate. And, if all the homophobic trash talking in the locker room didn’t turn him on so much. Each story in the Rear Entrance Video series revolves around the young men who work at the video store/sex toy shop and the difficulties they endure as they struggle to understand and accept their emerging sexualities. Straight Shooter is Austin’s story, the abrasive, obnoxious, homophobic jock who is so determined to convince himself that he’s unwaveringly straight that he’s offended his roommates to the point that he’s about to be kicked out of their house. Since his roommate’s aunt owns the video store where he works, he just might be out of a job, as well. When his roommates have finally had enough, they issue Austin an ultimatum: accept Bobby as he is and stop acting like a jerk or move out. But, Austin’s main problem isn’t really Bobby or his other roommates. It’s that he’s been lying to himself for years about his own sexual inclinations, and the inability to reconcile that truth with who he thinks he has to be in order to be accepted is tearing him apart. It is at this point that Austin’s journey really begins, and Ms. Belleau once again does what she accomplished so handily in the previous story—systematically picking apart the need for classifications and definitions of sexuality until the characters finally begin to live for themselves. Master Puck, or Liam Williams, is a fantastic character as well, and Austin’s evolution wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for him, especially in the earlier stages of their relationship. Porn star, pro-Dom, and former hockey great in his own right, Liam is the perfect one to make Austin see that he needs to stop punishing himself for having a kink that’s not-quite-straight. He’s the only person to accept Austin at face value and help him navigate his way through the desperation and shame that have...
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Apr
10

Review: Wildflower Wedding by LuAnn McLane

Review: Wildflower Wedding by LuAnn McLane Wildflower Wedding Author: Luann McLane Reviewer: Ang Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Let me start by saying I love Cricket Creek. I love the quaintness of the small town and the southern charm it exudes. I love picking up one of the Cricket Creek novels because I know it will be like going home to the small southern towns I grew up in. I can picture myself walking down Wedding Row, enjoying the sights and smells of the river-walk, enjoying a friendly and fantastic meal at Wine and Diner, and can even picture myself hanging with friends on karaoke night at Sully’s. All of these things are why, despite a major issue I have with every novel, I keep coming back to Cricket Creek. I was truly hoping that in this novel Ms. McLane would finally fix my issue with her books, but alas it didn’t happen, and true to her style ,we are introduced to two great couples with only one getting their happily-ever-after at the novel’s close. This makes me insane. Ms. McLane makes it look like if you are over 40 you can’t find love, redemption, happiness again.  Which seems like a HUGE oversight on her part since a lot of the people reading her novels are over 40 and looking for the love they maybe didn’t find the first time around. Just like Tony and Trisha, two middle-aged divorcees who learn that sometimes second chances are exactly what every fairytale needs. At least that is what I’m hoping they learn, but we never really know since their ending is cut short for Gabby and Reese’s story. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning. Wildflower Wedding is a sweet, steamy, sexy story with great, solid characters. It contains two wonderful love stories where the characters learn about redemption, love after betrayal, and second chances. Gabby and Reese, our twenty-somethings, find their second chance with one another after years of being apart. They learn that what we see is not always what we get, which can be a very good thing. For Gabby she learns that strong and steady doesn’t need to wear a tie, and for Reese, he learns that sometimes jumping in with both feet is exactly the course of action one needs to find closure with the past. Ms. McLane does a great job with these two characters. Their story is strong, steamy and full of fun and chemistry....
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Mar
31

Review: Penance by Ann Mayburn

Review: Penance by Ann Mayburn Penance Author: Ann Mayburn  Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I have been eagerly awaiting Penance since finishing its predecessor, Still, last spring, and I’m happy to say that was everything I’d hoped for and more. Beginning with a heartfelt note from the author about the importance of honesty and self-acceptance, Michelle and Wyatt’s story picks up with a trip back to Michelle’s hometown of Chicago, and a closer look at the history that has shaped her to this point. Michelle has become an even more complex character in this story, and while I expected there to be some dark days for Michelle and Wyatt, I was unprepared for the extent of Michelle’s issues and the demons she’s been fighting for so long. As a military surgeon, she held lives in her hands, had many people depending on her, and therefore had to be invulnerable under the worst of circumstances. As a Domme, she feels like she has to be perfect in order to be worthy of Wyatt’s love and submission. But, that becomes impossible as she faces not only the unattainable expectations of her mother, but also the relentless guilt she feels over the death of her fiancé and former sub. Her PTSD might not be the same Wyatt’s, but it’s very real, and it’s been destroying her for years. Additionally, unlike others who have achieved various amounts of success with traditional therapies, only one thing has ever worked to give Michelle any kind of peace: penance. For Wyatt, who is still dealing with his own PTSD, watching his Domina, the woman he loves, fall apart is excruciating. Worse, he has no idea how to help her at first because she’s hidden that part of herself away so thoroughly and for so long. One of my favorite things about Penance is that there’s no magic cure for what ails Michelle and Wyatt. There’s pain, denial, and guilt, but there’s no hero to rush in and make everything okay in an instant. Instead there is acceptance, understanding, and forgiveness, along with lots of love and hope. Wyatt proves beyond any doubt that he is the perfect sub for Michelle, and that he’s strong enough to give her what she needs so that she can be the Mistress he deserves in turn. I very much like that Ms. Mayburn has created a series where BDSM is presented as a safe, vibrant, multi-faceted way of life that is not...
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Mar
27

Review: Hope Ignites by Jaci Burton

Review: Hope Ignites by Jaci Burton Hope Ignites Author: Jaci Burton Reviewer: Nima Rating:  B What I’m Talking About: Hope Ignites is the second installment in the Hope Series.  I like small town romances because they are full of unique details and quirky characters that make them relatable and fun.  Like the first story in this series, Hope Flames, the dogs are ever-present players which provide a certain continuity between books.  Main character Logan McCormack’s brother, Luke and his fiancée Emma, from Hope Flames, make appearances and it was good to check-in with them too. Logan McCormack is not just a country boy and the ranch he runs is not just the family homestead.  It’s a forty-five thousand acre working cattle ranch.  That’s roughly seventy square miles or the whole city of Madison, Wisconsin.  How about the entire country of the Republic of the Marshall Islands?  Logan doesn’t often leave the ranch and as a loner by nature, he likes it that way.  He comes off tall, dark, handsome, and broody.  *swoon* He does have a soft spot for his housekeeper, a mother figure in his life, who keeps him and the ranch hands fed.  When a movie production company rents out a portion of his land as an alien planet, his housekeeper twists his arm into driving her out to watch the filming.  The star of the sci-fi thriller, Desiree Jenkins, catches his eye.  Desiree is the current A-list “it girl” in Hollywood, a Jennifer Lawrence type, who catches everyone’s eye.  He assumes she is high maintenance and dismisses the impulse to engage her entirely.  He will be happy when both she and the crew are gone. In fact, after watching filming for some time, he criticizes Desiree’s rifle handling skills. What Logan doesn’t know is that Desiree is tired of the glitz, the glamour, and the pressure of her industry.  She loves the openness of the ranch and its pace.  She also likes Logan.  More to the point, she pursues Logan in a refreshing display of feminine decisiveness.  Knowing that there is an expiration date on this fling, Logan gives into his desires and flames erupt.  Burton excels at flames. I liked both Logan and Desiree.  I felt they were actually well matched with mature perspectives on love and life.  Occasionally Logan fell back into his broody behavior and failed to communicate well, but Desiree was uncomplicated and straight-forward with hers.  There were plot complications, but not a lot of angst in this...
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Mar
6

Review: Carolina Man by Virginia Kantra

Review: Carolina Man by Virginia Kantra Carolina Man Author: Virginia Kantra Reviewer: Ang Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Let me start by saying I really really wanted to like this novel. I completely enjoyed the first two in the series, and after reading the teaser in the back of Carolina Girl, I was anxious to get this book in my hands. I grew up in a military home where my father was gone so much during the first thirteen years of my life that I have very few concrete memories of him during that time. I was excited to see how Ms. Kantra was going to handle the stresses of a military family and a father-daughter relationship that was extremely fragile and new, including child abuse recovery. I know she has the talent to make it a poignant, sweet and interesting piece of work because she has dealt with similarly difficult topics in her others books beautifully. Unfortunately Carolina Man fell flat. At first, I thought the reaction I was having might be me and not the book, because I would be remiss to say that this book didn’t trigger anything for me. It brought back memories of the days when my dad was gone, and we would fear for his safety. It trigger long buried emotions connected with my abusive ex-husband, and it triggered a completely normal hatred for those that prey on children and steal their innocence. So after reading the book one time through, I put it down for about six weeks and then came back recently to read it again. Nothing had changed for me, other than I didn’t react to the triggers the way I had before. The writing was still weak. The gorgeous scenery that was as much a character as the people in the first two books was missing. The banter and dialogue that I have come to expect from Ms. Kantra works wasn’t there. For all its potential, it simply didn’t grab me and pull me in the way I expected it too. The intense emotional connection that I had to the Fletcher family in the first two books was weak as best. For example, there was a great scene when Taylor and her dad, Luke, go out and sit on the beach to really talk. I went into the scene waiting with baited breathe that this would hold the magic, the connection. It was a perfect set up with the inky sky, the sea, the stars,...
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