Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Feeling is Pari-Mutuel by Margaret Ethridge

The Feeling is Pari-MutuelJack & Ellie's lastest story 

The Feeling is Pari-Mutuel

By Margaret Ethridge

Book Blurb:
It's Derby Day in Louisville, Kentucky and the stakes are high. When skittish Ellie jumps the gate and lays her feelings on the line, it's up to Jack to prove to her that the feeling is entirely 

I've been following Jack and Ellie's story all the way from the beginning. Their love adventure began last Christmas in a lovely short story called "Concourse Christmas" which can be found in the wonderful  anthology book called "Believe: Christmas 2010." (an excellent collection of stories.)

Through their journey Jack and Ellie have had to combat a long distance relationship. With states spread between them the reader gets to feel and understand all the disadvantages that goes along with having an attraction with your potential soul mate miles away. They persevered through New Years Eve, a humourous Valentines Day, St Patrick's day and they have found themselves in the middle of the Kentucky Derby. 

Each of the above stories can be found either FREE on Margaret Ethridge's website or in various other anthologies. All of which I've followed along and rooted for this couple to finally share how they truly feel about each other. 

In the last anthology "All Bets are On", Jack and Ellie end on a milestone and an exciting cliff hanger that just needed a sexy elaboration. I was very excited that this darling couple got their own little book and all the adult content that came with it. 

I've grown to love Jack and Ellie and The Feeling is Pari-Mutuel packages up nicely as I was able to glimpse closer into their feelings and their mutual love for each other. The story has adult content but it is what I refer to as "real life" intimate scenes.  No fantasy kink; just the real deal to make you fall madly in love with this pair.  

You could read The Feeling is Pari-Mutuel as a stand alone but it would be so much more enjoyable to get their long distance relationship history. It was a great deal that the author Margaret Ethridge placed some FREE reads on her site. How can you beat FREE? 

The order in which Jack and Ellie's relationship has formed:

"Concourse Christmas" which was part of Believe: A Christmas 2010 anthology

"New Year, New Expectation" - Free Read at Margaret Ethridge's website

"I've Got You to Talk with Me" - Free Read at Margaret Ethridge's website

"Be Mine" which was part of the anthology Be Mine, Valentine's Anthology - review here

"Kiss Me, I'm Full of Blarney" - Free Read at Margaret Ethridge's website

"Going the Distance" which was part of the anthology All Bets are On - review here

The Feeling is Pari-Mutuel - review above 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Hunter's Surrender by Kaenar Langford

The Hunter's SurrenderKing Rochar, Santara and Maddie’s book
The Hunter’s Surrender

By Kaenar Langford

Book Blurb:
Maddie Graham is a bounty hunter who likes to keep a low profile. But her stellar reputation has brought her under the keen eye of the Tentalians who feel she’ll be a fitting brood mare for their king. Little do they realize that kidnapping Maddie will be the easy part. She’s far more dangerous than they thought, and it has nothing to do with her hunting skills.

King Rochar and his consort, Santara, aren’t sure what to expect with Maddie. Living on an all male planet, they’ve been taught to view women as mere vessels for future children. But they soon discover Maddie is as feisty as she is compassionate, and her presence threatens to unravel the very fabric of their civilization when they realize she means much more than they’d ever thought possible. As the moment approaches to choose their destiny, will they fall victim to their sense of duty, or will a new order rise with the ringing of the Soprac bells?

Story contains graphic scenes of m/m and m/m/f sex.

The Hunter’s Surrender is a flaming hot fantasy erotic tale. Yowza! It should come with a label that says, “Warning - Reader will be lost in lust!”

King Rochar and Santara, the beautiful men that they are, live on a planet where there are no females.  The book explains those reasons further however with no females; the men are mostly in happy relationships with each other. The King and Santara are deeply in love with each other as many of the males in their world are. Secretly many of the men had wished to stay and maintain committed relationships with the women they impregnated with their sons. 

King Rochar wants to change this long standing tradition and Maddie is just the women to entice him to change the council’s ruling. So there is the plot. The rest of the story is a ménage lover’s fantasy. Don't try and analyze how Maddie could quickly accept this lifestyle or accept the immediate threesome activity. Just go with the fantasy and enjoy the ride. It's better that way *wink*

The Hunter’s Surrender is a full out and out fantasy book and there is no way to compare the male’s endurance to real life men. So don’t look to The Hunter’s Surrender for a sweet triade book. Look to this story for hot ménage style fantasy sex and then you will get what you are looking for. It’s fairly short. On a PDF it is about 65 pages. I am rating 4 hearts but the heat level is 5. Strongly suggest you only read The Hunter's Surrender if you enjoy fantasy style menage. 

Teasers – killer hot shower smut, major M/M action, major hot M/M/F action, endurance of race horses

Friday, July 29, 2011

Gentle Warrior by Julie Garwood

Elizabeth and Geoffrey’s book

Gentle Warrior

By Julie Garwood

Book Blurb:
In feudal England, Elizabeth Montwright barely escaped the massacre that destroyed her family and exiled her from her ancestral castle. Bent on revenge, she rode again through the fortress gates, disguised as a seek aid from Geoffrey Berkley, the powerful baron who had routed the murderers.
He heard her pleas, resisted her demands, and vowed to seduce his beautiful subject. Yet as Elizabeth fought the warrior's caresses, love flamed for this gallant man who must soon champion her cause...and capture her spirited heart!

One of the reasons I decided to name my book blog Another Look Book Reviews is because I wanted to read novels from the past and still be able to do reviews on them. Take for instance Gentle Warrior by Julie Garwood.  It was published in 1985 and even though I was reading through the yellowed pages of Gentle Warrior, it was a first time read for me. Just to clarify, Julie Garwood is not a first time author for me. I adore her historicals. There are only a few historical romances left that I haven’t read and then there are most that I have re-read. Gentle Warrior is a stand-alone and not a part of a series.

I really liked Gentle Warrior. As a couple Elizabeth and Geoffrey were awesome to read about and I had many smiles while I enjoyed them as newlyweds. I cannot recall one Julie Garwood book where I didn’t care for the heroine or hero. Her ladies crack me up as they are usually so strong and stubborn for the time period. Each of the heroines are different in each book though. Gentle Warrior is set in the medieval times 1086 England.

Let me share a little demonstration of Elizabeth’s character as she is talking with her beloved grandfather.
Elizabeth starts out “ I have not shown my temper once since meeting Geoffrey and have tried to act with great humility” then her grandfather is about to laugh at her and she continues “I have been gentle, obedient wife these past two days.” Love the grandfather’s reaction. Here is his line.
“The strain must be terrible.”

Elizabeth is in a tough situation. Her seven year old brother and she witness their entire family massacred. It was heart breaking. She knows in her heart who is responsible but she can’t act upon it. She requires patience and full trust in her new husband that he will  take care of the guilty parties involved with the murders. As with the time era, men do not share their plans and secrets with wives. Elizabeth needs to show restraint and patience where she doesn’t have any. I felt for the character and even though the reader knows that her husband is doing the investigation she is not left much hope. I thought Julie Garwood beautifully wrote each of those scenes where Elizabeth acted out and the reader felt as though we would want to shake her, yet you completely understood what horror she witness and her frustration.

The love scenes were simply beautiful and very moving. Geoffrey really struggles with his emotions as he becomes overwhelmed with love for the first time in his life. He doesn’t understand the feelings and in his mind, a wife’s role is to bear children not to be affectionate in public. The couple’s teasing is a wonderful game they play and it made me fall in love with them.

I am rating Gentle Warrior 4 strong hearts instead of the usual 5 hearts because although the book was great, it wasn’t the same calibre or great that Ransom or many of the other historicals were. 

Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich

Hard Eight

by Janet Evanovich

Book Blurb:
Fugitive Apprehension Agent Stephanie Plum has a big problem on her hands: Seven-year-old Annie Soder and her mother, Evelyn, have disappeared. 

Evelyn's estranged husband, Steven, a shady owner of a seedy bar, is not at all happy. During the divorce proceedings, he and Evelyn signed a child custody bond, and Steven is demanding the money guaranteed by the bond to find Annie. The money was secured by a mortgage on Evelyn's grandmother's house, and the True Blue Bonds Bail Agency wants to take possession of the house. 

Finding a kidnapped child is not an assignment for a bounty hunter. But Evelyn's grandmother lives next door to Stephanie's parents, and Stephanie's mother and grandmother are not about to see their neighbor lose her house because of abduction. 

Even though Stephanie's plate is full with miscreants who missed their court dates, including old nemesis and violent drunk Andy Bender and an elusive little old lady accused of grand theft auto, she can't disappoint Grandma Mazur! So she follows the trail left by Annie and Evelyn-- and finds a lot more than she bargained for. Steven is somehow linked with a very scary Eddie Abruzzi. Trenton cop and on-again, off-again fiance Joe Morelli and Stephanie's mentor and tormentor, Ranger, warn Stephanie about Abruzzi, but it's Abruzzi's eyes and mannerisms that frighten Stephanie the most. Stephanie needs Ranger's savvy and expertise, and she's willing to accept his help to find Annie even though it might mean becoming too involved with Ranger. 

Stephanie, Ranger, Lula (who's not going to miss riding with Ranger), and Evelyn's lawyer/laundromat manager set out to find Annie. The search turns out to be a race among Stephanie's posse, the True Blue Bonds' agent, a Rangerette known as Jeanne Ellen Burrows, and the Abruzzi crew. Not to mention the fact that there's a killer rabbit on the loose! 

Strap on your helmet and get ready for the ride of your life. Hard Eight. The world of Plum has never been wilder. 

Hard Eight introduces two new characters to the Plum World, Jeanne Ellen Burrow and Albert Kloughn. Jeanne Ellen relationship's with Ranger  seems to be what Morelli is to Terry Gilman. Both having a bit of history behind them and both make Stephanie jealous. Stephanie jealous is so cute. 

As for Kloughn, I couldn’t stand him. Annoying is the best term I have for him. When I go back and re-read the books, I jump over every single Kloughn scene.  Actually that could be said about Valerie and her two annoying kids too. I jump over their scenes as well. 

I laughed a lot reading about all the different ways that Stephanie tried to capture Bender.  Those are probably the only scenes I do read that have Kloughn in them because it is so funny how the old drunk Bender gets away. 

Abruzzi the villain was totally creepy and Janet certainly did not disappoint with her genius plot line. The whole bunny outfit and the antics were really good to read. The kidnap at the end was scary. The snakes and spiders set me over the end of creepiness. 

Okay so the best part of Hard Eight to me was all the Ranger/Stephanie interaction. Hard Eight is probably best known as the book that they “do it”. The lead up to the sex was really hot and flirtatious. I love how Janet writes him so different than Morelli.  I also like how Ranger took his time to get himself into that position of actually finally sleeping with Stephanie.  At the beginning of the book, it is made clear to the reader that Morelli hasn’t spoke to Steph in weeks which totally removes Stephanie from any misgivings about “cheating” on Morelli. Janet makes a few comments regarding that time period to make it very clear to the readers without actually having to spell it out. For that, I thank her. 

Okay so back to Ranger *pauses to compose self* okay Ranger, hot hot hot.  I love how outrightously flirtatious he is with and yet is completely absolved as a “player”. He is not into head games and is very up front with intentions. Sure there are double entendres and such, but he so forth coming.  I love how he plays along with the whole Batman charade that Stephanie has made of him. This line right here spoken by Ranger is one of my favourites in the entire series, “Once you go into the Bat Cave its forever, babe.”*swoons* *melting* The night of passion certainly put a smile on Stephanie’s face and once again I love how Janet somehow manages not to put any comparisons between Morelli and Ranger. She never says who is better at kissing or anything else for that matter.  She is equally complimentary for each man.
The next time that Ranger and Stephanie really talk after their night of passion, I again am impressed how direct Ranger is. No games. He knows that Stephanie and he will never completely be together if Morelli is in the back of her mind so out right tell her that she needs to fix it. He lets it be known, if she waits to long to fix the Morelli relationship, he will be back.  And if the Ranger Morelli camps were ever divided up, they are more divided up now after Hard Eight than ever before. 

Ultimately at the end of the book, Stephanie is once again in the arms of Morelli. However, Stephanie now knows that Ranger’s feelings for her go deep as 
she is aware that he would literally kill for her.

Seven Up by Janet Evanovich

Seven Up

By Janet Evanovich

Book Blurb:
All New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has to do is bring in semi-retired bail jumper Eddie DeChooch. For an old man he's still got a knack for slipping out of sight--and raising hell. How else can Stephanie explain the bullet-riddled corpse in Eddie's garden? Who else would have a clue as to why two of Stephanie's friends suddenly vanished? For answers Stephanie has the devil to pay: her mentor, Ranger. The deal? He'll give Stephanie all the help she needs--if she gives him everything he wants . . .

As if things weren't complicated enough, Stephanie's just discovered her Grandma Mazur's own unmentionable alliance with Eddie. Add a series of unnerving break-ins, not to mention the bombshell revelation leveled by Stephanie's estranged sister, and Stephanie's ready for some good news. Unfortunately, a marriage proposal from Joe Morelli, the love of her life, isn't quite cutting it. And now--murder, a randy paramour, a wily mobster, death threats, extortion, and a triplie kidnapping aside--Stephanie's really got the urge to run for her life . . 

The seventh book in the Stephanie Plum series guided us deeper into the chaotic lifestyle of Stephanie and her family. We finally are introduced to Stephanie’s legendary perfect sister Valerie. Of course what we learn is that Valerie isn’t exactly all the perfect and her two daughters seem a little kooky. To be honest, it is almost as though Stephanie was the normal one in the family now. Grandma described the Plum household as bedlam and it sure seemed that way. Heck, I wanted to get of the heck out of the house myself. 

If you are a big Morelli/Stephanie camper, you were mercilessly teased in Seven Up. There was so much talk of marriage, wedding dress outfitting, wedding date setting and even a hall booked. Morelli seemed to be the one all in favour of this wedding idea and Steph seemed to be the reluctant one. Although things are not all what they seem. 

Stephanie is a free spirit and having Morelli give her an ultimatum was a big mistake on his part. His Italian temper was getting the best of him. I admire Stephanie for recognizing that no woman should “change” who they are for any man. I need to quote the book here because I think there a few lines that all women should live by. “I might be a stay at home mother someday, but I’ll always be trying to fly off the garage roof. That’s just who I am.” Note to young girls everywhere, stick to your guns and don’t change yourself unless you’re good and ready to change. 

In Seven Up Janet was once again changing her Ranger character. Seven Up was the book that made me realise just how far Ranger has come since “One for the Money”. He was just as sexy as ever but in this book we are treated to expensive loafers, cashmere sweaters and the knowledge that he keeps classical music CDs in his car. I have to admit, I like it! Okay so let’s talk about the “deal” he makes with Stephanie pending his required help to bring in the FTA Eddie. *fans self* Whoa, all I can say is WHOA. Janet is simply genius how she took this story line. The various situations that Stephanie and Ranger find themselves entwined were just so sexy and lusty. *wipes drool off of mouth* 

Out of all the scenes that are written, I think the one that I would most want to see on the big screen was in this book. To see Lulu, Stephanie, Maggie and the other wrestler slinging it out in the mud wrestling ring would be priceless. I read that scene over and over and I always have to wipe the tears from my eyes. Of course a close second would be the bitch slapping fight that Grandma Mazur, Stephanie and the other two old ladies get into out in front of Stiva’s. Brings me to tears each time as well. You just have to love the fact that it is Stephanie that ends up with the black eyes and bleeding nose. 

We also got to read about Vinnie a bit more as well. I kinda like Vinnie. His character is cracks me up. I laughed that the shootout resulted in Vinnie having a boner. LOL! 

Okay, in usual Janet style she is killing me with the cliff hanger. Damn that woman can’t just end a mystery without creating a juicy cliff hanger. What a set up! Ranger sneaking back to Steph’s apartment late at night, (with the reader all completely aware of the deal) then needing a night lite so he can “see her” and then having him remove his belt and then....BAM she ends it! Kinda funny she decided to call the 8th book Hard Eight! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Guilty Pleasure #8 - Burning the Bra with no political agenda

There are a few other bloggers that are doing these Guilty Pleasure posts as well. It all started with C.J. Duggan and if you want a bunch of smiles, circle back to her site and see the comments to read other pleasures.

It’s been a hard day at work. I walk in the front door, kick my heels into the hall closet and I start to climb my way up the stairs to my bedroom. However I am multitasking as I make my way to the top. I’ve reached around my back and I’m already unclasping the hooks of bondage. By the time I’ve made it to my bedroom door, I’m lighter, I’m more free, yes, I’m now braless. The only thing left to do is to strip off my work clothes and slid into my favourite T-shirt and yoga pants.

My name is Michelle and my Guilty Pleasure is going braless!

When people think TGIF, they’re pleased that the weekend is here. For me that translates into two glorious days of freedom. My girls can be free of straps, lifting, squeezing and tucking. (that sounds a bit like a BDSM device of some sort doesn’t it?)

Sometimes on the weekend if I have to dash out of the house, I weigh in whether or not I can get away without wearing a bra.  If I decide that I do have to put one on, I literally whine to myself, ‘Do I really need to go out?’  Yes, it's an internal battle. The winter season is super easy and it’s a no brainer. My coat will cover me up and any protruding nipples. It’s not like I have huge bosoms but they’re big enough to draw attention if I’m bouncing along the aisles of Wal-Mart.  

I remember when I was about 12 yrs old and all the girls in my class were getting the trainers. (What exactly we were training I’ve no idea) I sooo wanted one. I built up the courage to approach my mom to see if she’ll buy one. Not that my mom was unapproachable at all, but I was so embarrassed. I was as flat chested as the Canadian Prairies and I knew I didn’t need the contraption.  I just wanted to be like everyone else. Really, it was like a Judy Blume novel. 

Thanks to my wonderful mom she didn’t even smirk and she bought me two. It’s not like I needed to be measured for cup size or anything. A one size fits all kinda deal. I was so proud. I couldn’t wait for Phys-Ed class to start at school so I could change into my gym clothes and show off my new lace bra with the tiny pink bows. I swear that change room was like a fashion show run way. Brings a smile to my face to remember the cuteness of it all.

Well that was then and this is now. My once upon a time white one size fits all, stretchy lace undergarment is now replaced by expensive Le Senza colours of varying lifts and supports and I don’t care if they have pretty pink bows on them or not. When work is done, off it comes.

Do you have a training bra story from years ago that you want to share? Do you let your girls free on the weekend or after work? 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fatal Embrace by Aris Whittier

Fatal EmbraceJess and Michael's book

Fatal Embrace

By Aris Whittier
I received a copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest review

Book Blurb:
High-spirited horse trainer Jessica Stanson stumbles into the perfect job on one of the most elite ranches in Montana. Or at least it would be if her boss, ex-detective Michael Carven, stopped acting like he didn't want her there. Jessica has to prove herself to him on the ranch, and also try to penetrate his armor to get to the man inside.

Michael Carven is a man who has left a difficult past behind him, and now works at his dream job raising horses under the Montana sky. But he knows that the past has a way of coming back to him, and soon enough, it does.

A wave of violence hits the nearby small town of Riverside, nestled deep in the mountains, as a cunning serial killer preys on the population. Against his will, Michael finds himself both drawn into the case and coming to care for his independent new trainer. And if having a killer on the loose wasn't enough, his two worlds collide when Jessica becomes the only material witness in the case. Before it is over, Michael and Jessica will put everything they know and hold dear on the line to catch a vicious, cunning killer - and to protect each other as well.

I received a copy of Fatal Embrace by the author way back in May to complete a book review. It took me a long time to finally read Fatal Embrace as it is now July. I kept putting it off and putting it off because I am a romance book junkie and Fatal Embrace didn’t scream romance to me. However, I did commit to the author that I’d review her book, so Fatal Embrace was added to my vacation reading calendar and I was hoping to just get it off my TBR list.

Now why did I include the above paragraph? Because when I tell you how much I loved Fatal Embrace you’ll understand that I truly liked it and I’m not “giving” this a solid 4 heart rating just because the author gave me a copy to read. My eyes were glued to the pages of Fatal Embrace and I really kick myself for taking my sweet time to read such a wonderful exciting book.

In just the first few lines of Chapter One, I knew I was going to read quality writing and the style was exactly what I prefer to read. I love to read when authors add extra descriptions and actions while conveying an image. There was a scene further in the book where Jessica is so tired but Michael wants her to keep reviewing mug shots. The banter was so real, the actions were so life like that I felt I was with the couple participating in the conversation.

Jessica was a truly a delight as a female lead. I liked her from the get go and I love how she teased and bantered with Michael. She constantly pushed and challenged him to come out of his iron shell. Michael was so emotionally damaged that he was simply existing and not living. As a reader you were experiencing her falling for Michael without being deliberately told how she was feeling. Her gestures, her kindness, her wit, her willingness to know when to leave him alone spoke volumes without having it spelled out to the reader. That is probably one of my most favourite writing styles. Thank you Aris Whittier for trusting your readers to “get it”.

The serial killer hunt was full of angst and suspense. There is a particular scene in Fatal Embrace where there was a storm outside and it was brilliantly written. I was chewing my bottom lip. I don’t read a lot of mysteries so I am horrible at guessing the “who done it” but I loved how it all ended and came about.

The only reason I am not granting a perfect 5 hearts for Fatal Embrace is because of the low heat factor. Not all of my stories need to have intense love making scenes by any means but Fatal Embrace would have spectacular if we had more than one passionate scene. Michael had been so conservative and bottled up in Fatal Embrace that when he finally did let his guard down and his allow his feelings to pour out, the pages burned up. But that was the one and only time. There were other alluded intimate moments but I craved a bit more from Michael and Jessica. Not erotica but more passion. Otherwise excellent excellent book. 

Teasers – stormy weather, rat surprise, slow dancing, late night horseback ride