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Currently Browsing: contemporary romance
Oct
1

Review: Long Shot by Hanna Martine

Review: Long Shot by Hanna Martine Long Shot Author: Hanna Martine  Reviewer: Una Rating: A-, 4 Stars What I’m Talking About: Long Shot is the premier novel in the new Highland Games series by Hanna Martine.  In short, for a non-contemporary lover like me – I loved it!  I mean, seriously, what’s not to love; men in kilts showing off skills and serious muscles = melt! As I have said before, I prefer my romance with some paranormal or fantasy element blended in, if not at least some murder or mystery.  I typically do not read strict contemporary romance.  However, when I saw that Ms. Martine was starting a new series with men in kilts, I thought I would give it a shot.  I thoroughly enjoyed her Elementals series and thought this might be interesting.  Boy, am I glad I volunteered. The story of Leith and Jen was engaging and well grounded.  The usual complaints that I have for contemporaries was blessedly missing.  This book shares the story of a young love that ended quite badly, which is then reignited by outside circumstances.  And due to these circumstances, they are then forced to work together and therefore work through the issues that divided them.  It was thankfully not predictable even though we do have a happy ending.  Their journey was passionate, good and bad as well as heartwarming.  The physical passion between them sizzles as the sexual tension grows and then flames. Both Leith and Jen have their own demons and issues each needs to deal with – that they think they have overcome.  But until faced with each other – they come to realize they still have much to resolve.  Jen’s relationships with her sister, niece and mother are quite troubled.  However, it seems that most of the “issues” are between Jen and her mother and Jen and her sister.  Although I felt some back-story was glossed over a bit in this element, I really admire how Jen and her sister were able to bridge their gap. It was interesting to watch Jen finally look at herself; where she has been, where she is, and where she is going.  Her personal journey to self-realization was a long time coming.  Without a close knit circle of friends, it is not surprising that Jen has lost herself in work in order to fill herself with something even at the expense of her family. In contrast, Leith’s issues are different.  He is the town’s golden boy.  He was...
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Sep
27

Review: So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl

Review: So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl So Tough to Tame Author: Victoria Dahl Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A, 4.5 stars What I’m Talking About: I never thought I would be enamored with a cowboy as much as I am Walker Pearce.  Victoria Dahl continues my love affair with Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in So Tough to Tame, the third title in her Jackson series. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Ms. Dahl’s Jackson Hole.  It was fabulous to have cameos from characters we’ve previously seen, becoming reacquainted with and catching up with their lives.  The handful of scenes involving former main characters was, in my opinion, a little brief and could have expanded a smidge more on what’s going on with them.  I also enjoyed the underlying plot line regarding Miss Rayleen and her verbal-volley partner, Easy, which seems to resolve in this title.  I love Miss Rayleen.  I hope to be as spunky and sassy as she is, at her age!  I also was overjoyed to see Ms. Dahl’s ‘Ability Ranch’ in this title.  As a special education teacher, I love it when kids with challenges are portrayed full of awesomeness and in a positive way – not pitied or shoved in a corner. Charlie Allington – short for Charlotte – was a great main character.  I was so surprised at the plot twist and resolution that revolved around Charlie during the last 10% of So Tough to Tame that I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store more than the normal 10 minutes just to finish.  I loved the way she handled pretty much every difficult situation tossed her direction.  The way she guarded her heart (ineffectively) from Walker was great.  She wasn’t all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns gushing about him when he wasn’t there.  She had other real-world problems to occupy her brain.  This smart character really used her brains to diffuse a potentially volatile situation, and for that alone, Charlie gets points in my book.  Ms. Dahl even managed to stump me over several plot points regarding Charlie.  Kudos! Walker. Pearce.  Mmmmhm.  Rugged cowboy.  Tremendous flirt.  Heartbreaker extraordinaire.  I thought that Ms. Dahl did a fabulous job bringing him to life for her reader.  From his expressions to his emotions, I felt as though Walker were the guy-next-door.  The Mr. Popular in school.  I felt like the plotlines involving Walker, including his dad and his former relationship, were a great parallel to the issues facing Charlie and established both characters as individuals with...
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Sep
6

Review: No Reservations by Stephanie Julian

Review: No Reservations by Stephanie Julian No Reservations Author: Stephanie Julian Reviewer: Twimom227 Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: The second story in Ms. Julian’s marvelous Salon Games series begins with the New Year’s Eve party scene from the first book, By Private Invitation, when Kate Song meets Tyler Golden–only this time we see the scene from Kate’s point-of-view (POV). Kate is attending party with BFF Annabelle while Kate’s finance, Arnie, stays home. Soon enough, the book jumps to present day, which lines up with the conclusion of the first book. This is where we discover Kate telling Tyler that she’s broken off her engagement. Tyler Golden owns one-half of the lush Philadelphia hotel, Haven, along side his brother, Jared (hero from By Private Invitation). After his fiancée died two years ago from a brain tumor, Tyler hasn’t felt a big attraction to any woman, until he meets Kate. I’m just going to come out and say that No Reservations is another wonderful story from Ms. Julian’s Salon Games series and one of the best erotic romance stories of 2013. The author knows how to write amazingly erotic sex scenes with tender romance and real emotions at the heart of the story. Tyler and Kate experience an immediate and intense attraction, which they readily explore right from the start. The pair wants to explore and be free with one another, but also to get to know and understand one another. Even with a few reservations, they allow themselves to go after what makes them feel good. I admire that Ms. Julian allows their relationship to grow and progress almost too smoothly right from the start, only tossing in the occasional realistic bump like “is it too soon to call her or have I waited enough time.” There are no huge road blocks preventing the couple from falling fast, which they do. Experiencing the tale from both Kate and Tyler’s POV, we explore their fears and hopes, which seem to mesh so well. Yet, their story isn’t conflict free as Tyler must make a major decision on the future of his career, and likewise, Kate looks to explore her life-long dream of costume design. Overall, their situations and relationship are handled so beautifully. One of the best things in the story is the development of the characters’ emotions. They build organically and without hinderance. The characters mature and grow in such a way that allows me to be part of their world and brought...
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Aug
29

Review: Ningaloo Nights by Tracy Cooper-Posey

Review: Ningaloo Nights by Tracy Cooper-Posey Ningaloo Nights Author: Tracy Cooper-Posey  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A-, 4 stars What I’m Talking About: Ningaloo Nights was my first foray into Tracy Cooper-Posey’s Go Get ‘em Women collection, but not my first journey into the page-scorching erotic romance that I’ve come to know and love from this talented author.  With a heat index of 5 out of 5 (seriously, I was blushing IN PUBLIC while reading this one!), be sure the air conditioning is working, and the ice bin is full! Amazon says this to-the-point novella is around 92 pages.  When I was reading a PDF e-arc, at around the 85% mark, the story ended (I was wondering what was going to happen for the next 15-ish percent…) and there’s previews for other titles by the author… You’re warned   Also, there was one oversight on a plot-point that annoyed me.  This is the ONLY reason this title didn’t earn a 5-star rating.  Aaannnddd… I can’t tell you what it is, because it’s spoilerish. In the remote lands of Western Australia, Mason Hayward is a cool drink of water:  refreshing, satisfying and craved every moment.  While he keeps part of himself frozen and locked away from others, he definitely defrosts for Sherry!  With a completely fractured and fragmented heart, Mason mourns a loss so great that he’s isolated himself from society.  He hides behind a misplaced sense of responsibility, and has enough emotional baggage to fill a FedEx Ground truck.  But, he’s hot.  Incredibly built. And is tender and compassionate.  Seriously.  He’s the perfect hero.  One reason why I love novellas.  We get to see chinks in the armor, but don’t have to go through the whole nasty flaws-to-redemption thing.  The inner conflict we saw within Mason was enough to make the plot strong and character-driven. Sassy New York cop Sherry Abandonato watches the search for her missing sister heat up even more than the Australian wilderness in February.  And she has no desire to put out the flames.  I thought that the author’s choice for Sherry’s last name was interesting.  I thought that Sherry had abandonment issues early on in the story.  With the major losses she’s suffered in her life, and now searching for her presumed-dead sister, she should probably be a blubbering, hysterical mess.  Not so.  As spunky as Sherry is, she is able to give herself over to the care of Mason-the-hottie.  And she’s clearly choosing to let him be her guide on the...
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Aug
15

Review: Just In Time by Addison Fox

Review: Just In Time by Addison Fox Just In Time Author: Addison Fox Reviewer: Nima Rating: A-, 4 Stars What I’m Talking About: Just in Time by Addison Fox is probably my personal favorite of the three books in the Alaskan Nights trilogy.  I was happy to return once again to Indigo, Alaska and the quirky, sturdy denizens who make it their home.  I felt like a local and scoffed along with the rest of the town at the hockey coach from California who couldn’t hack it for an entire winter—lightweight.  Finally we get to focus on the couple with the most history—sweethearts and best friends since kindergarten, Avery Marks and Roman Forsyth.  One of the aspects I especially enjoyed was the flashbacks into their childhood and teenage years where we get to see the intimacy and singularly precious nature of their bond, and why neither of them really moved on from it. Roman and Avery’s story opens with the wedding of Sloan and Walker, their best friends from book one, Baby It’s Cold Outside.  The heat that is always there, smoldering under the surface, throughout the first two books begins to flame up almost immediately.  Because it’s book three, we can accept it knowing the relationship is already established.  This isn’t a couple that hooked up after meeting in a bar.  When they have sex, it is hot because they’ve known each other so well, know what buttons to push; it’s about the relationship, not the excitement of something new. Still, this couple must get to know each other as adults and the people they are now after years of separation.  Both are ready to make changes in their lives for a better future, but can they make those changes together?  The book drags a bit while they try to figure this out.  Roman is especially slow in coming around, believing himself to be noble, after a quick start. This trilogy should be read in order.  There is just too much character development and atmosphere that’s lost without the first two books.  As a little bonus, there is a secondary romance that happens about two-thirds of the way in which just made me smile.  Also making me smile is the humor born of friendship.  My favorite line in the book was, “I have it on good authority Satan wouldn’t wear that shade of lipstick.” As much as I liked this story, I can’t give it five stars because I felt the ending was predictable and...
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Aug
13

Review: Burn by Maya Banks

Review: Burn by Maya Banks Burn Author: Maya Banks Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: I’m sad to see the Breathless trilogy end.  I’ve loved every moment spent with Gabe, Jace and Ash.  I’ve loved getting to know the objects of their desire.  I’ve loved reading about the way they won over their women.  Maya Banks did a fabulous job concluding a fabulous plot arc with Burn. Ash has always been my favorite of the billionaire trio, whose former motto was “play hard and live free,” and it’s no wonder based on his book.  Er, the book written about him.  Ash pretends with the general public – he likes to have himself portrayed as the care-free bachelor billionaire.  I knew from the beginning of Rush that Ash was more than he seemed.  From his horrible family to the way he shared women with Jace, Ash seemed – to me – as though he were the most intense and determined of the three.  I think I was right. The way that Ash went after Josie – how he was up front and honest with her about every aspect of his life was completely refreshing.  Sure.  He’s got one little thing he holds back, but it’s not a deal-breaker.  I love the way he WORKS to develop his relationship with Josie.  It’s real.  Gritty.  Relatable.  The way **all** relationships should be developed.  I may not completely agree with the whirlwind part, but damn it, I know it can happen. Brittany, Ash’s sister, was a minor character in this book.  I’m a little suspicious that this isn’t THE END of the Breathless characters because there’s a loose end with Britt and Kai.  Unless there’s a new series featuring them… **lighbulb**  Maybe that’s the new series Ms. Banks will be revealing shortly….  Set in Vegas with Caro & Brandon…just a theory, just a theory! I think I like Josie better than Bethany or Mia.  She understood the role of a submissive, at least superficially, and had a good head on her shoulders with regard to where she stood with Ash.  For the most part.  What I liked was her ‘artsy-fartsy’.  Creative type.  Her independent streak.  The way she was completely and utterly in love with Ash. The Breathless trilogy certainly leaves readers gasping for air… with the slow Burn of things heating up, Ms. Banks surely is a master in the art of erotic romance.  Can’t wait to see what new things she has...
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Jul
22

Review: Making It Last by Ruthie Knox

Review: Making It Last by Ruthie Knox Making It Last Author: Ruthie Knox  Release Date: July 15, 2013 Publisher: Loveswept Camelot Series, Book #4 Genre: Contemporary Romance, Novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: A hotel bar. A sexy stranger. A night of passion. There’s a part of Amber Mazzara that wants those things, wants to have a moment—just one—when life isn’t a complicated tangle of house and husband and kids and careers. Then, after a long, exhausting “vacation” with her family, her husband surprises her with a gift: a few days on the beach . . . alone. Only she won’t be alone for long, because a handsome man just bought her a drink. He’s cool, he’s confident, and he wants to take Amber to bed and keep her there for days. Lucky for them both, he’s her husband. He’s got only a few days in Jamaica to make her wildest desires come true, but if he can pull it off, there’s reason to believe that this fantasy can last a lifetime. What Nima’s talking about: Ruthie Knox has bookended her Camelot Series with Tony and Amber Mazzara’s story.  Together the novellas represent the blissful beginning of their romance and then the reality of after “happily ever after.”  Making It Last picks up Amber and Tony’s story fourteen years after the first book ends.  We’ve seen them make guest appearances through sibling Caleb and Katie’s romances, but not enough to know more than the fact that they’re still married with children.  We are allowed to assume that their love has given them the answers to wedded bliss, perfect hair, stress-free Christmases, a new car every five years, as well as expert parenting skills that make their lives the stuff of fantasy.  So what’s there to write about?  Knox bravely takes on the romance, or lack of it, inside of real married life. I have to admit to a serious “This is Your Life” vibe that is no doubt coloring my glowing opinion of this story.  I am an exercise instructor, stay-at-home mother of three high maintenance kids (including one with generalized anxiety disorder) who lives in a small suburb of Ohio, all things I share in common with lead character Amber.  I even read the book at the beach with my family, not at a wedding, but a fiftieth wedding anniversary reunion.  There are enough common markers, however, to give most married women with children that same feeling.  We all struggle with fatigue,...
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Jun
25

Review: Carolina Girl by Virginia Kantra

Review: Carolina Girl by Virginia Kantra Carolina Girl Author: Virginia Kantra  Release Date: June 4, 2013 Publisher: Berkley Dare Island #2 ISBN: #978-0425251225 Genre: Contemporary Romance Format(s): Paperback (320 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:      Meg Fletcher spent her childhood dreaming of escaping Dare Island-her family’s home for generations. So after she landed a high-powered job in New York City, she left and never looked back. But when she loses both her job and the support of her long-term, live-in boyfriend, she returns home to lick her wounds and reevaluate her life.      Helping out her parents at the family inn, she can’t avoid the reminders of the past she’d rather forget-especially charming and successful Sam Grady, her brother’s best friend.Their one, disastrous night of teenage passion should have forever killed their childhood attraction, but Sam seems determined to reignite those long-buried embers. As Meg discovers the man he’s become, she’s tempted to open her vulnerable heart to him. But she has no intention of staying on Dare Island-no matter how seductive Sam’s embrace might be. What Ang is talking about:      Carolina Girl is a fun, smart, sassy story about second chances, learning to compromise and ultimately learning to trust oneself and those they love. The characters are completely realistic and charming in their own rights; even the secondary characters are well rounded and engaging, adding depth and color to the story without taking anything away. A rarity in the novels I have read lately. For example, I adore Tom, the dad and his no nonsense way about things. Of course this could be because I grew up in a ARMY home and totally relate to ‘the all for one’ attitude throughout Ms. Kantra’s Dare Island novels. I also found sweet, shy Taylor completely engaging and am anxious to learn more about her in the next book.      Another thing that I thoroughly enjoyed about this novel was the ebb and flow of the writing. Much like the tide of the ocean that the town is centered around, the descriptions and scenery pull you in allowing to see and taste every aspect of this hamlet of a community. For example, there is a place in the novel when Ms. Kantra describes the clouds as the mother of pearl found in an oyster shell, and immediately I found myself sitting on the front porch watching these clouds hover in the sky, tasting the salt air as the tide...
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Jun
19

Review: Fire Inside by Kristen Ashley

Review: Fire Inside by Kristen Ashley Fire Inside Author: Kristen Ashley  Release Date: June 4, 2013 Publisher: Forever Chaos Series #2 Genre: Contemporary Romance Format(s): paperback (335 pages), e-book Book Source: NetGalley About the book: Lanie Heron isn’t looking for love-no surprise, considering her last serious relationship nearly got her killed. So when Lanie propositions Hop Kincaid, all she wants is one wild night with the hot-as-hell biker who patrols with the Chaos Motorcycle Club . . .  For Hop, Lanie has always been untouchable. She’s too polished and too classy for his taste. But when she gives Hop the once-over with her bedroom eyes and offers him a night in paradise, he can’t say no. And he doesn’t regret it when he finds that Lanie is the best thing that’s ever happened to him-in or out of bed. Now the trick will be to convince her of that. What VampBard’s talking about: If anyone forgets to tell me to join the party with a FABULOUS author that can weave a tale like nobody’s business, I’m gonna have a drama!  Kristen Ashley is definitely one of the new-to-me authors from 2013 that is hitting the auto-buy list!  This Chaos Series of hers?  Yeah.  I bought the first book already.  I have to find out about Tack.   Fire Inside is the newest offering in Ms. Ashley’s Chaos Series.  When I read the blurb about this book, I was totally on-board.  I have been looking for a way to pick up something by this author, and the second book in a series usually isn’t too late.  O.M.Geee!  I am not regretting one moment in the reading of this title.   There’s background info from the first book in the series, but I was OK jumping in here (I totally want to go back and read for myself, though!).  Screwed up from the death of her fiancé seven years ago, as well as the near-death stabbing of her best friend, Ty-Ty, Lanie Heron was fighting inner demons.  It was time she stopped.  That’s where the one-night-stand on steroids with Hop Kinkaid comes in.  All the inner conflict both Hop & Lanie endure to be together is simply REAL.  No one is ready – especially the second time around – to open up and let someone in.  It takes a lot of time and patience to win the heart of someone who’s been burned as badly as this couple.  The conflict between Hop & Lanie was INSANE!  I...
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Jun
18

Review: Flirting with Disaster by Ruthie Knox

Review: Flirting with Disaster by Ruthie Knox Flirting with Disaster Author: Ruthie Knox   Release Date: June 11, 2013 Publisher: Loveswept Camelot Series #3 ISBN: #978-0345546661 Genre: Contemporary Romance Format(s): Paperback (448 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: Fresh out of a fiasco of a marriage, Katie Clark has retreated to her hometown to start over. The new Katie is sophisticated, cavalier, and hell-bent on kicking butt at her job in her brother’s security firm. But on her first assignment—digging up the truth about the stalker threatening a world-famous singer-songwriter—Katie must endure the silent treatment from a stern but sexy partner who doesn’t want her help . . . or her company. Sean Owens knows that if he opens his mouth around Katie, she’ll instantly remember him as the geeky kid who sat behind her in high school. Silence is golden, but he can’t keep quiet forever, not with Katie stampeding through their investigation. It’s time for Sean to step up and take control of the case, and his decade-old crush. If he can break through Katie’s newfound independence, they just might find they make a perfect team—on the road, on the job, and in bed. What Nima’s talking about: I have to say, I may not even be rational at reviewing Ruthie Knox any more, but I love being her cheerleader. She never fails to deliver. Flirting with Disaster is the third book in her Camelot series, and she’s proven, once again, her ability to put the reader at ease with humor and then dive in with a serious knife, cutting you to pieces with very real emotion. I want to be Ruthie Knox when I grow up. The plot in this book, the series really, has been slightly more predictable than in previous offerings by Knox.  There is a threat to one of the prominent characters, but it never felt like a real threat to me, I never felt the pressure of it; I was never really worried about something bad happening.  That fact, however, becomes incidental to the genuinely intense emotion between the main characters whom I was worried about.  Would they screw it up?  Could they get out of their own heads enough to communicate?  Communication itself was a legitimate challenge in a way that I’ve never seen presented in any other book.  The point of view flips back and forth between Katie Clark, Caleb’s younger sister from Along Came Trouble, and our unlikely hero, Sean Owens.  Even in rapid fire situations,...
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