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Currently Browsing: erotic romance
Jun
27

Review: The Cartographer by Tamsen Parker

Review: The Cartographer by Tamsen Parker The Cartographer Author: Tamsen Parker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I can’t imagine Rey’s book being more perfect. If you’ve been reading Tamsen Parker’s Compass series, you know Rey Walter—the kink puppeteer/matchmaker. I’ve always been curious about Rey, but never did I imagine the revelations in The Cartographer. As always, I’m keeping this review spoiler-free. Which means it’s going to be short 😉 Allie Hart is an awesome guy. He hasn’t had an easy life but he’s responsible and committed. Not committed to someone else, though. Like, not romantically. I found myself wanting to slap Allie up-side the head and tell him to let Rey help. **pulls hair** We do get to watch Allie grow, too. I like seeing him overcome preconceived notions and become a fly on the wall when he’s with the people he cares about. I think I connected with Allie because he’s had a rough go of it, but seems to have come out the other side of his battles a better person. Rey? Oh, I love the things we learn about Rey. It’s really nice to see his Dominant, match-making tush again. I think parts of The Cartographer were difficult to read for me because I like to have some semblance of control in my life, but the way Rey handles his own control—at times—is difficult for me. I read the words and I’m the person murmuring to my book, “Oh, honey…don’t do that.” Rey has been instrumental to this series. There’s a REASON he’s the Cartographer—he’s been charting a course for everyone else all these years and it’s finally—finally—time for him to travel the road toward his own happiness. I don’t think there’s many people who can write kink the way Ms. Parker does, either. I love her imagery and the depth of the emotions during a particularly harrowing scene. And, you guys? This book is particularly smokin’ hot. But even more than how hot the sex is, and how intense the BDSM scenes are, there’s so much emotion. It’s been absolutely wonderful watching the development in Ms. Parker’s Compass series, and I’m sad to see the series end. But, this is good news for you—in the even you haven’t picked up this series, yet. IT IS COMPLETE. You may now commence the binge-reading. My Rating: A+ Personal favorite About the Book: Reyes Walter is the man who engineers everyone’s happiness, and he’s never wanted anything else. He’s got a...
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Jun
20

Review: At His Mercy by Shelly Bell

Review: At His Mercy by Shelly Bell At His Mercy Author: Shelly Bell Reviewer: VampBard Rating: C What I’m Talking About: While At His Mercy held promise for me, I struggle with many issues while reading it. I honestly try to leave my ‘editor eye’ out of it when I review a book. It’s…difficult, at best. I overlook typos, usage, and misplaced punctuation all the time. I mean, ARC copies can quite possibly be sent out prior to final proofreading. I know how the publishing industry works. But I struggled with this ARC. Next, a romance title can’t be all about sex scenes. While they’re a nice ‘frosting on the cake’, it can’t be the drift-from-one-sex-scene-to-the-next type of story or that makes it flat-out erotica. While we’re told that there was a veiled romance element in this title, I didn’t actually witness it myself. /soapbox. Okay. A solid Dominant/submissive relationship takes time to establish. If it’s a one-night stand, that’s one thing. However, jumping into a relationship without knowing the other person is just bad form and completely unsafe. I mean, Isabella didn’t let anyone know where she was going!!! For all she knew, Tristan was some psycho wack-job—she’d picked one before, who’s to say she didn’t pick one again? Isabella ranks up there in my Too Stupid to Learn heroines, and I didn’t feel a bit badly at the end for her. /off soapbox Tristan, for being an experienced Dom, is incredibly stupid. There’s lots of reasons, but listing them all would be spoilery. Lastly, there were plot inconsistencies. I can overlook a few here and there, but there were entirely too many going on—so much so, that I actually had to flip back in the book to make sure I wasn’t crazy several times. After all, there couldn’t be THAT many of them in the book, right?!?! Wrong. While I’m really intrigued by the premise for this title and the subsequent title(s), I think I’ll pass. My Rating: C, Finished It – Liked some, didn’t like some About the Book: Angel in his arms . . . Devil at her heels  One last, no-strings night of indulgence. That’s all Tristan wants before he begins a much-needed new chapter in his life. Instead he finds an innocent angel in pink who brings him to his knees. Isabella is done hiding from the world . . . and her haunting memories. Discovering courage in the arms of a perfect stranger, she finally lets go and sheds...
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Mar
22

Review: His Custody by Tamsen Parker

Review: His Custody by Tamsen Parker His Custody Author: Tamsen Parker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I don’t even know where to start. I have to admit I may have had a seriously uneasy feeling at the beginning of this story—until about the halfway mark. But, I trust Tamsen Parker to deliver a deep, thoughtful read that pushes me past my personal limits. And, this title **really** pushed me for a plethora of reasons. There’s a huge age discrepancy between Keyne (pronounced Cain, like Cain & Abel) and Jasper. That isn’t a problem for me, normally. I love me a good May-December romance. This title falls more under the barely legal, though. I deal with teenagers every day, Monday through Friday. I might have gotten a little squicked out. Initially. But I pushed past that and looked at what was really happening in this story. Age took a backseat. Because, really, it doesn’t matter. This. Story. Is. Freakin’. Brilliant. This review, beyond this point, is slightly spoilery. The blurb hints, but doesn’t come right out and say some of the things I’m about to disclose, so if you don’t want any spoilers, go get your one-click on. However, the spoilers aren’t that bad and don’t really reveal a lot you can’t pretty much guess from the blurb. <spoiler> Jasper and Keyne’s parents were life-long friends. Keyne was dating—inseparable from—Jasper’s younger brother. Keyne was the sole survivor of an accident. Yeah. And she was only seventeen, so she needed a legal guardian—and someone to wade through all the emotional stuff something like that would leave behind. My heart literally broke for Keyne. I seriously sobbed a few times. I wondered how Jasper could handle all the crap being thrown at him while wading through his own grief. I wanted to build a blanket fort and snuggle in it with them both. One thing that I thought as I was reading that a tragedy such as this would naturally draw two grieving people together, and I wondered whether that’s what was happening here. Whether something would happen and the spell between Jasper and Keyne would be broken. Because that’s exactly what it seemed like. This magical thing between two people—that when you watch it unfold from the outside, it takes your breath away. <end spoiler> The pacing in His Custody was perfect. I was drawn through every word in the story, and I definitely stayed up reading entirely too late. I was really sad...
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Mar
14

Release Day Review: The Hard Way by Annika Martin

Release Day Review: The Hard Way by Annika Martin The Hard Way Author: Annika Martin Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: NOTE: Although each story in the Taken Hostage by Kinky Bank Robbers is standalone, the romance of the four main characters has developed over the course of the series, with deeply emotional roots and revelations along the way. Additionally, the events in prior books impact the events in this book. For these reasons, I do not suggest starting the series with The Hard Way. The first book in the series, The Hostage Bargain is currenly free! The story opens with the God Pack honeymooning in Rome for the past month. Although they know they cannot stay for long in one place, and in fact had to give up so much of their normalcy in escaping ZOX, the gang indulges in daily routine and the temptations of Rome. However, when Isis learns that her sisters’ farm is in trouble and her eldest sister, Vanessa, is charged with manslaughter, the guys whisk Isis back to Wisconsin. Investigating the alleged crime incognito, the gang promises to save Isis’s family. There is so much to love in this series, and The Hard Way is another wonderful addition. First, the title’s opening sex scene (there is certainly more than one!) is one of the dirtiest yet in the series. And even when the guys are worshipping their goddess, the author always finds ways to slip in her amazing, dark humor. I just died when Thor asks “Um, did you guys just have some sort of mystical butt-f**king experience?” The timing of Ms. Martin’s offbeat humor is always impeccable. I think I laughed out loud every time the group found themselves in the cupid-infested B&B. Loved. It. Next, The Hard Way is emotionally satisfying. Although every book centers on the foursome and their deepening love and commitment, each title tends to focus a little bit more on one of the characters, and in this light, I would say The Hard Way is Odin’s story. But you can’t think of this series as one that has a beginning and end point for each character. While the story looks deeper into Odin’s time as a captive, he’s not suddenly “cured” of his horrors by the end of the story – not even close. However, we witness tremendous growth in the relationship between Isis and Odin as she gets him to open up. She comes to understand that no matter how much she wants...
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Feb
16

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Vacation Hell by Eve Langlais

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Vacation Hell by Eve Langlais Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Princess of Hell Series Book: Vacation Hell Author: Eve Langlais Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Princess of Hell #4 Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance / Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Vacation Hell Vacation Hell opens with Muriel and her family settling into their new lives as parents and lovers. Although everyone is extremely happy, Muriel is being called to the beach, someplace she does NOT like to visit, indicating larger forces at play. Yet with her precocious, meddlesome daughter, Lucinda, driving Muriel to emotional and mental exhaustion, the gang decides a family vacation to the beach is in order. Vacation Hell is the fourth addition to Ms. Langlais’s wild Princess of Hell series. Although the story is mostly standalone, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one – too much of the world is developed over the course of the previous books. With the nature of Muriel’s sexually charged magic, jumping in here may be confusing, and not as emotionally satisfying. The story contained within Vacation Hell is light and short. Keeping in concert with the previous stories, Muriel must take on a new lover to feed a different aspect of her magic. This time she is practically shoved at Tristan, a merman and son of King Neptune, by someone in her own family. I like that Muriel is learning to be more at ease with her needs and the part other sexual partners play in her life. However, I am not happy with the fact that she was placed in the situation via manipulation. I also enjoyed that different than the past, Tristan is not ready to jump into the orgy as easily as her previous lovers. The author has made each male unique, with their own sexual needs, which keeps the stories fresh. After eliminating the “big bad” from the prior books in Hell’s Revenge, the author creates a new story arc that will clearly span into the next book, as there is a huge aspect of this story that remains unfinished by the end of Vacation Hell. Since the ending isn’t a true cliff-hanger, I don’t mind that the story arc continues forward; however, the book is very short, and I felt the plot line was weak. So I would have preferred the author continue the story, creating a longer, more fulfilling book. Ms. Estrella’s familiar performance creates a bit of comfort in this, the fourth title....
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Feb
9

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hell’s Revenge by Eve Langlais

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hell’s Revenge by Eve Langlais Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Princess of Hell Series Book: Hell’s Revenge Author: Eve Langlais Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Princess of Hell #3 Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Hell’s Revenge Hell’s Revenge opens with an overlapping scene from the epilogue of the previous book, Snowballs in Hell in which Muriel discovers her mom is none other than Mother Nature, Gaia. Although she hasn’t visited Muriel since leaving her with her father as a small child, Gaia has returned to inform Muriel that she is pregnant, and both of her lovers at the fathers. Gaia intends to take the child from Muriel. There is so much for Muriel, her lovers, and her father to process, which takes them to Hell to get answers. Unfortunately, there is still the “big bad” after Muriel, and her life, along with her quickly growing unborn child, is in peril. Hell’s Revenge continues the overall story arc about a mysterious, powerful force who is after Lucifer’s kingdom, brining the issue to a head. While the entire story felt short, it was entertaining, and I liked how it wrapped up the storyline. However, in retrospect, the dangers and motives behind the entire three-book plot line weren’t as sinister as they came off in the first book. Some of the events from previous two books don’t every tie into the conclusion of the plot line. Regardless, the story was enjoyable. There weren’t nearly as many graphic sex scenes, and the book focused on the overall plot. One important event from Hell’s Revenge is that Muriel and her family learn more about her powers. Her magic is almost its own entity, and if it is depleted, it will seek out new sources of sex for facets of Muriel’s magic not being fed. For example, it sought out and connected with a vampire to feed the cold and dark part of her magic. Once the magic connects, it is permanent. What does this mean in the long run? More men in Muriel’s bedroom. Once again, Rebecca Estrella provides the narration for the story. One thing that changed in Hell’s Revenge, is that there are parts of the story shared from both David and Auric’s point-of-views. Ms. Estrella uses the same general narrator voice for each character, while continuing to provide a unique voice when each speaks. Overall, her performance is good – with unique and fitting voices for...
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Feb
2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Snowballs in Hell by Eve Langlais

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Snowballs in Hell by Eve Langlais Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Princess of Hell Series Book: Snowballs in Hell Author: Eve Langlais Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Princess of Hell #2 Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Snowballs in Hell One month has passed since Muriel’s encounter with the mysterious Hooded One; the night she nearly died. Her reoccurring, daily nightmares are making her feel weak and worse, shameful. She does not like being afraid of anything. The changes in Muriel are especially tough on her soulmate, fallen angel Auric. He will do anything to protect his love and help her get better. I’m going to say this right up front: Snowballs in Hell is FULL of graphic sex. So much so, that I actually started skimming and forwarding through the scenes. Additionally, due to issues with her sexually-charged powers, Muriel must add another male into her and Auric’s bedroom. While I have no issues with threesomes (also note: this is not a true menáge situation), the way that the threesome came about really irritated me. Honestly, I admired Muriel’s stance on adding another to her existing love life, especially after waiting years for Mr. Right to come along. However, her soulmate felt it necessary to manipulate Muriel into adding another to their bedroom. The fact that Auric blatantly tricks her into the situation made me furious! If the author had instead allowed Muriel to accept her body’s need for sex without the subterfuge, I would have enjoyed the storyline. But the over-the-top emphasis that Muriel would deny herself out of love, which lead to the secret sex plot, ruined it for me. The overall storyline of discovering who is behind the attack that nearly killed Muriel was interesting; however the climatic scene and unveiling of said bad guys left me wanting a bit more. I love how kickass Muriel is, and when she takes charge of her own situations, she’s a wonderful heroine. Add in a touch of humor and sarcasm, and Muriel is one of the best UF characters. However, when she gets wishy-washy, she can be annoying. There was a bit too much focus on whether or not Muriel should sleep with another, but it did tie into the plot. Rebecca Estrella provides a solid and consistent narration. Muriel’s voice is perfect. The array of male voices works for the story. Typically, I tend to enjoy a narrator more by the second or...
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Jan
30

Review: Jacked Up by Samantha Kane

Review: Jacked Up by Samantha Kane Jacked Up Author: Samantha Kane Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Living out his dream of playing pro football, Sam signs on with the Birmingham Rebels after returning from a tour in Afghanistan. Sam, who suffers PTSD, hasn’t been with a woman since his return home over two years ago out of fear sex will trigger his nightmares. Best friend and teammate King only wants what is best for Sam and thinks helping him get laid will help him get over his fears. Heading to the shore for some fun, the pair meets Jane Foster, the perfect girl for Sam. Sam and Jane are completely attracted, but Sam will only have sex with her if King is in the room, to stop him if he starts having nightmares. With Jane on board, the couple has the best sex of their lives, especially when they involve King in the action. However, that was just for one night, and the guys and Jane go their separate ways. Fast-forward to the fall and the Birmingham Rebels are struggling. But an accidental run-in with Jane sparks a fire inside Sam, changing his outlook on life and football. Jacked Up is the third ménage in the Birmingham Rebels series. By now, most of the team embraces the non-conforming relationships and sexuality of the players and coaches, although those outside the team still aren’t as accepting. This openness affords this particular trio the ability to speak more openly about their desires, making the story less about the social issues and more about the individual fears and concerns. I felt that the book was better because the story wasn’t as focused on breaking taboos. Even Sam’s doctor tells him no one cares who he sleeps with. Right from the start, I really liked this threesome. Sam, King, and Jane are all relatable people. I love that they are friends who are exploring and learning. And both males are sweet and kind: good guys. Together, the trio has amazing chemistry! I like that they are normal people who happen to learn they like a bit more kink in the bedroom. Reading the story from all POVs (Sam, King, and Jane), together with the open and honest dialogue, made me love the characters. I loved how Jane wrestles with what she wants and feels when she’s with Sam and King, instead of what she thinks she should like and how she should act. We’ve all experienced...
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Dec
22

Review: Due South by Tamsen Parker

Review: Due South by Tamsen Parker Due South Author: Tamsen Parker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A  What I’m Talking About: Interested in a thrill-of-discovery / new exploration book? Due South might be just what you’re looking for. This is the secret-office-romance trope—and man, I love it. Especially when it’s taboo! The blurb gives us the basis for the plot, but what it doesn’t mention is how DEEP these characters are. Ms. Parker has done a phenomenal job with her other Compass titles, and I didn’t expect anything less from Due South. Here’s a run-down on my connection to the characters. Lucy is the typical corn-belt girl gone to make the big time in California. Her innocence is accentuated as she learns about herself and her sexuality. It’s not that Lucy is completely innocent—she’s not. She just has had less-than-stellar experiences with sex because she’s had selfish lovers. I like Lucy, and I found myself connected to her for a variety of reasons. First, I adore her fashion sense. Stockings and garters should be an every-day occurrence. Second, I admired her because she put her upbringing behind her and allowed herself to form her own expectations—even though sometimes she was at war with herself. Evans. OMG. I may have crushed really hard on his geeky uncertainty and second-guessing his words and actions. But… Oh, mama. The way he could turn on the charm? The way he was so caring right from the start? **swoon** And, that bit about family? Seriously. The man is a catch, and nobody knew! Top it off with his brain? Quadruple-threat, folks. The sex was…thrilling. I really loved the way each encounter was presented, and how the emotional aspect was front-and-center for both Lucy and Evans. Because really, the best sex happens when there’s an emotional connection of some sort. Ms. Parker definitely gave us that connection. An excellent addition to the Compass series—one you won’t want to miss. If you’ve not read the series, this title will function as a stand-alone. My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: Lucy Miller has worked her way up from coffee-fetcher and copy-maker to invaluable assistant. She’s proud of her accomplishments, but she’s looking forward to a break from her demanding boss; a visit home is just the Christmas treat she needs. Diligent and unassuming, Chanoch Evans has avoided relationships not just out of shyness, but because he doesn’t feel like he has anything to offer—most of his resources are devoted to his war-veteran younger...
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Dec
7

Review: In Bounds by Bronwyn Green

Review: In Bounds by Bronwyn Green In Bounds Author: Bronwyn Green Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: After finding out her school principal husband was having an affair with the mother of one of her students, Ivy Wright decided to take an extended vacation helping out her best friend’s family in England. While Ivy enjoys tutoring Charlotte’s children, she hopes that Charlotte’s younger brother doesn’t remember her… the drunken woman with whom he had a hookup in the coat check at Charlotte and Caleb’s wedding reception. Will Darby has been sidelined from his professional soccer (football) career due to a knee injury. With mandatory time off, he’s hoping to re-connect with Ivy, the one woman he hasn’t been able to forget in the past twelve years. And when he sees Ivy again, he knows he needs to explore their mutual attraction… and kinks. In Bounds is another wonderful, sexy romance in the Bound series, a set of loosely connected, standalone BDSM-lite stories from Bronwyn Green and Jessica Jarman. I love that the books, In Bounds included, embrace healthy relationships, focusing on couples that enjoy sex and exploring mutually satisfying kinks. While there may be bumps in the road and issues to overcome, they don’t dominate the pages of the story. Will is a man obsessed. He’s never forgotten Ivy or how much he enjoyed their brief encounter. Twelve years older and wiser, Will has taken the time to learn how to please a woman and what he wants for himself. He’s cocky, but not overly arrogant, and completely direct. He tells Ivy pointblank how much he wants her and what exactly he wants to do to her. Such direct talk is refreshing and thrilling. And while he gives Ivy space to deal with her own issues surrounding her ex-husband’s actions and detrimental attitude, he supports her both emotionally and physically, almost willing her to recover and commit to him. Will is understanding, patient, sexy, and kind… almost too much so. But who doesn’t need a bit of perfection in their lives now and then? Ivy has issues, but she doesn’t dwell. She’s determined to enjoy her time with Charlotte, but as the book progresses, we see how lonely Ivy truly is. She carries her baggage, and Will wants to take it from her. It’s heartwarming to see how much Will gets her to open up and trust again, after some back and forth, of course. While Ivy’s biggest concern during the entire...
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