Friday, February 28, 2014

The Gift by Julie Garwood

Nathan, Marquess of St. James and Lady Sara Winchester's book

The Gift (Crown's Spies book 3)

By Julie Garwood

Book Blurb:
Child bride Sara Winchester had grown into a winsome beauty, joyfully anticipating the day when her husband Nathan, Marquess of St. James, would return to claim her heart. Charmingly innocent, she dismissed the ancient feud that divided their families, and was totally unaware of his past exploits as the notorious pirate, Pagan. And Nathan was beguiled by Sara's sweet, defiant ways. But her love would soon be tested as a vile conspiracy tries to tear them apart. 

I was most ecstatic the other day when I realized that there were two Julie Garwood historical romances out there that I had not yet read. Even more exciting was that I already owned them and they were sitting there on my shelf just waiting for me. I had seen them for so long I just assumed that I had read them. I love Julie Garwood's historical romances so I felt like I won the lottery. 

The Gift is book 3 in the Crown Spies series. You can easily read The Gift as a stand alone. There is very little character carry over. Regardless of the previous characters involvement with past books, you will not be lost if you read The Gift out of order. 

One of the magical components of a Julie Garwood historical romance is that she often has the bride and groom married near the beginning of the book. The marriage that took place in The Gift occurred right in the prologue and it was one of the earliest aged marriages ever. Nathan was only fourteen years old and Sara was a darling child of four. Of course there was no marital consummation because this forced marriage contract started before Sara could even print. The King, suffering from beginnings of dementia, was tired of the feuding families and arranged this mockery of a marriage. He set up the contract details, married off these youngsters and left the feuding families to deal with the consequences. Ultimately each child was returned to their respective families and for years each family plotted how to get out of the contract. 

Once the reader is done with the ceremony in the prologue, the story's first chapter starts 14 yrs later. 

Garwood's heroines are my most favourite in the historical genre. They are witty, adorable and they are so innocent that they could be viewed to be on verge of being a bit daft. This innocence is exactly the case with Lady Sara. She is a dreamer, an idealist and so darn likable that you have to forgive her constant mishaps. She believes that since she is married to a ship's captain that the men are her "staff". She deducts that since a captain is the master of a ship she equated that station to that of a Lord of a mansion. She has a heart of gold but unknowingly is oblivious to her surroundings. I dare you not to like her. 

Nathan is both patient and yet an overbearing yeller. He scowls and is fiercely protective of her. After their forced marriage as children, neither Nathan or Sara meet again until she is 18 years old. He has no idea what she looks like or what her personality is. All he wants is get married to honour the contract and collect on his due. 

I really enjoyed reading about the pair getting to know each other and ultimately fall in love. Sara made me giggle with her antics and Nathan was a great hero for her to fall in love with. I am rating 3.5 because although the story was cute, it did fall a little bit short of what I come to expect from a Julie Garwood historical. So I am rating The Gift against other Garwood stories. 

Teasers: saving her aunt, away on the ship, dangerous soup, paradise island

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson book 7)

by Patricia Briggs

Book Blurb:
Mercy Thompson's life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman - the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack - has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy's life. But on the edges of humanity, a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more. After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can't reach Adam - or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They've all been abducted. Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from the most unlikely of allies: the vampire seethe.

I just love this Mercy Thompson series. A whole bunch of my favourite books recently came out in paperback and Frost Burned was one of them. I had to endure months and months of avoiding spoilers and book reviews while Frost Burned was only available in a hardcover issue or a really expensive ebook. Frost Burned was worth the wait!

The Mercy Thompson series are not stand alone books. Patricia Briggs provides great little reminders in each story so that the reader can quickly recollect where the last book left off but if you would pick up a book in the middle of the series, you'd not enjoy and understand the detailed and fabulous backstory. 

One of the reasons I totally love this urban fantasy series is the continuity of the married couple, Mercy and Adam. I just love a book collection where the protagonists are strong, happily married and each book is a new adventure. This particular couple is top notch amazing because of the wolf pack mentality that is so ingrained into each book. Whether good or bad,a wolf pack is a wolf pack and the story doesn't deviate away from the characteristics of a pack of wolves. (Just to quickly mention that Mercy is not a wolf shifter but rather a coyote shifter) Patricia Briggs stays true to form and doesn't bend her own rules just to make the story flow in a different direction. 

Mercy once again is the hero of the Frost Burned. She does so by being smart although no one is more surprised by Mercy's brilliance than Mercy. That is another trait that is so enduring about her. She has no idea how incredibly special she is. I could not possibly adore her any more than I already do. 

As always, a fabulous cast of secondary characters adds to action packed and mystical world that Particia Briggs has created. 

Teasers: baby question car crash, ghostly encounters, mating bond communication, silver puke

Monday, February 24, 2014

Smokin' Hot Firemen Anthology by various authors

Smokin' Hot Firemen

By various authors

Book Blurb: 
Who can melt any woman's heart with a single smile? The sexiest icon of all- a fireman!

They enter fiery structures with selfless courage—the very definition of the word “hero.” Women understand their allure... A soot-covered face, sweat dripping from hard, chiseled muscles, the sharp snap of suspenders — yes, only a fireman can make suspenders sexy! Delilah Devlin's burning-hot book includes thrilling stories teeming with gorgeous firemen from some of today’s hottest romance writers. In “Saving Charlotte,” Sabrina York’s firefighting Dom rescues a woman tied to a red-hot bed; from Cathryn Fox comes “Temperature Rising” where a fire chief fulfills some very steamy fantasies; Elle James’s “Chasing Fire” sees a daring smoke-jumper parachuting into the hot zone of a forest fire then setting his girlfriend ablaze with erotic heat; and Magic Mike ain’t got nothin’ on Delilah’s own fireman-turned-exotic-dancer-for-a-night “Johnny Blaze.”

With a list of award-winning authors that includes Ily Goyanes, Shoshanna Evers, Adele Dubois, and Rachel Firasek, Delilah delivers tales of these courageous men sliding down their big poles to steal readers’ hearts! Smokin’ Hot Firemen imagines the romantic possibilities of being held against that massively muscled chest by a man whose mission is to protect and serve...

Ok come on! Who doesn't love a book chalked full of sexy hot firemen? Smokin' Hot Firemen is an anthology of 17 authors that penned some smoking hot stories! There are many different heat levels offered up. I read the various chapters of Smokin' Hot Firemen in-between my regular books. It was like enjoying a constant flow of sexy erotic reads. Did I mention hot firemen? 

Some stories are better than others but overall a decent collection. This review will highlight three of my favourites. 

Lost and Found was written by an author that I had not previously heard of. Nanette Guadiano's story was written in first person and it was amazing. It was a true romantic fantasy. A 36 yr old woman stuck in a life rut, leaves her former boring life, packs up and moves to a small town in Italy to finish the book she started. Enter a blond, tall British fireman hero who has been on an extended vacation and they share a bottle (or two) of wine. The story was almost poetic and very steamy. I loved it!

For me even though a story is a novella length, it has to somewhat believable. Maggie Wells' story, Rescue Me is exactly that. Although Trey and Addison had not seen each other in years, they had a history dating back to high school. Their erotic romp in her kitchen shortly after being rescued/reunited was not only hot but excitingly believable for those who harbour thoughts about their former high school fantasy. 
When I started reading Rescue Me, I forgot it was a novella because I quickly connected with Addi. A bit of humour and a whole lot of sexiness, Rescue Me was my favourite of the book.

Another winner for me was Fire Hazard by M. Marie. Fire Hazard was written in first person and I don't think I even knew the name of the heroine. As she starts to see the faint haze of smoke filling her twentieth floor apartment building and as the blare of alarms pierces her ears, she bravely tries to wrangle her frightened cat into his cat carrier. So far, totally believable. If you have ever tried to wrangle a scared clawed cat hurriedly into a cat carrier, you can imagine the damage he could cause to tender exposed flesh. Thankfully fireman "Jackson" was available to tend to her wounds. *insert giant sized grin here*

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Audiobook Review of It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Coach Dan Calebow and Phoebe Somerville's book

It Had to Be You (Chicago Stars #1)

By Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Narrated by Anna Fields

Book Blurb:
It's Dan Calebow's worst nightmare: Phoebe Somerville, a trendy New York knockout, inherits the Chicago Stars, the football team he coaches. And she wants to help him run it. Phoebe's sure he needs her. He's a sexist, good-ol'-boy jock with a one track mind. She can straighten him out. 
So why should each find the other attractive? Call it the competitive urge, but these two stubborn people play the game for keeps.

The best form of book publicity is word of mouth. My good friend, who has introduced me to so many fabulous books, once again encouraged me to read Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I've been on this recent audiobook kick and I was pleased to see that my library has lots of options for her books. 

I am a football nut so It Had to Be You was right up my alley. I loved it. A great romance and I kept thinking what a wonderful movie this story would make. There was even a suspenseful ending. It Had to Be You is the first book in the Chicago Stars series and I eagerly look forward to reading/listening to the rest. 

Phoebe Somerville was a complex character. Just when you thought you'd understand her character the author, Susan Elizabeth Phillips would provide a memory flashback and you'd want to sob and then change your perception about her. 

Coach Dan Calebow is a man's man and deeply submerged into the boy's club of football. I have to admit, I expected a lot more push back or snark from the coach when Phoebe inherited and took over the Star's NFL Football Club. He had a temper and soon Phoebe knew exactly which buttons to press. Honestly, Phoebe was the smartest "bimbo" I've ever read. That probably was because she wasn't a bimbo at all. A bombshell yes, bimbo no. 

Phoebe's dad was a jerk and one of the biggest, misogynist dolts I've ever read. I can state my opinion and we never even meet him. The story starts out with all the characters attending his funeral. One of the funniest scenes in the entire book occurs during his funeral and I knew from that first chapter, I was committed to It Had to Be You.

It Had to Be You was very enjoyable listen with the one exception. I didn't really care for the narrator's voiceover of Dan's character. It was supposed to be southern accent but I kept picturing an overweight man with big lips. Like a cartoon character. Other than that, I loved it. I smiled a lot and I also got quite angry a few times. Excellent story and it kept me highly engaged. 

Teasers: Pooh the dog, new found sisterly love, scary role play scene, AFC Championship game

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Cat and Bones final book 

Up From the Grave (Night Huntress book 7)

by Jeaniene Frost

Book Blurb:
Lately, life has been unnaturally calm for vampires Cat Crawfield and her husband Bones. They should have known better than to relax their guard, because a shocking revelation sends them back into action to stop an all-out war…

A rogue CIA agent is involved in horrifying secret activities that threaten to raise tensions between humans and the undead to dangerous heights. Now Cat and Bones are in a race against time to save their friends from a fate worse than death…because the more secrets they unravel, the deadlier the consequences. And if they fail, their lives—and those of everyone they hold dear— will be hovering on the edge of the grave.

Well done Jeaniene Frost, well done!

Up From the Grave is the last book in the Night Huntress series. While I am trying to hold back the sobs because I won't be reading anymore full length Cat & Bones' novels, I completely applaud and respect Jeaniene Frost's bravery to end her beloved series. I imagine it is a super hard thing to do when you have created such amazing characters that scores of fans love. Cat & Bones are her babies. Oh how I wish more authors had series where the main protagonists were married and taking on adventures. We need more couples like that in our romance world!

Now comes the hard part for me. How do I write a review telling you how brilliantly awesome this story was without revealing some heavy spoilers????

Up From the Grave was chalk full of action and I think that Jeaniene Frost channelled to her fans some pretty deep emotions. I didn't cry or shed any tears but I felt the mirage of emotions deep down. Many heart strings get tugged. Having said that, there was a lot of anger being spewed and even a laugh out loud moment (surprisingly brought to us by Mencheres). 

I loved that with Up From the Grave being the last book, Jeaniene Frost did a great job of incorporating all of the secondary cast of characters into the story. It didn't feel forced including them all in. Seamless really.  

The intimate scenes were a little on the soft side and I can only recall one scene from memory. I think that that Up From the Grave had so much story to fit in that another intimate scene written in would have felt forced or just placed in for the sake of having another sex scene. I thought it was perfect. Bones was still very romantic and protective of Cat all throughout the story so it never felt off.  

The plot was very clever and the story ended on a superb high note that still left the series open for a possibility of more books or a spin off. 

Teasers: a captured Cat, a more powerful Bones, like mother like daughter

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Winners! Love is in the Air Blog Hop

Great news! 

The 5 winners for the Unforgettable Heroes 8 ebook box set are:


I hope you enjoy this awesome ebook set. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh

Kaleb Krycheck and Sahara Nightstar

Heart of Obsidian (Phy-Changeling book #12)

By Nalini Singh

Book Blurb:
A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained bloodred.
A woman whose very existence has been erased.
A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.
A deadly price that must be paid.
The day of reckoning is here.

Without a doubt, Nalini Singh is one of the best urban fantasy story tellers I have ever read. I don't care which of her series/books you pick up, prepare to be completely and totally sucked in. I just finished Heart of Obsidian (after waiting forever for it to come out in paperback) and I have no words. I can't explain how completely excellent Heart of Obsidian was. Definitely the best read of 2014 so far. I have avoided all spoilers for Heart of Obsidian since it came out so I had no idea what to expect. All I knew is that it was finally Kaleb's story. 

First let me start with saying, THESE ARE NOT STAND ALONE BOOKS. The good news is that the previous twelve books are also awesome so get going if you haven't started the series. If you can't afford to buy them, go directly to your library and borrow them. 

The Phy/Changeling world is complicated to explain in a sole review. Now having said that, the world grows with you so if you start book 1, Slave to Sensation, you will not be lost and an overload of information is not dumped on you. I promise you. 

Kaleb has always been a powerfully mysterious Phy man. As a reader you crave to know more about him and what he is capable of. Each and every previous book that Kaleb was in, the author Nalini Singh only delivered masterfully placed tidbits of information. After reading Heart of Obsidian you get the full story. Brace yourself, as there is a lot of backstory to absorb and thankfully all of the puzzle pieces finally fit. Also allow me to add, I love Kaleb. I. Just. Love. Him. 

Sahara. Wow. There could be no one else for Kaleb other than Sahara. It is so hard to comment on Heart of Obsidian without mentioning spoilers. In fact, I don't want to. If you follow this Phy-Changeling series, you will be blown away with this twelfth book. 

Nalini Singh wraps up the story in a most excellent style. Once I closed the cover, I had a slight panic that this was the last book. I immediately went to her website and was relieved to read that there are more coming. Fantastic! 

Heart of Obsidian is the first book of 2014 that is awarded my 5+. 

Teasers: memories buried in a mind labyrinth, one kiss practically broke a house, Pure Phy returns, the Ghost is revealed!!!!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What I Did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Georgie York and Bram Shepard's book

What I Did for Love 

by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Narrated by Julia Gibson

Book Blurb:
How did this happen? Georgie York, once the costar of America's favorite television sitcom, has been publicly abandoned by her famous husband, her film career has tanked, her father is driving her crazy, and her public image as a spunky heroine is taking a serious beating.

What should a down-on-her-luck actress do? Not go to Vegas . . . not run into her detestable former costar, dreamboat-from-hell Bramwell Shepard . . . and not get caught up in an ugly incident that leads to a calamitous elopement. Before she knows it, Georgie has a fake marriage, a fake husband, and maybe (or not) a fake sex life.

It's a paparazzi free-for-all, and Georgie's nonsupporting cast doesn't help. There's Bram's punk-nightmare housekeeper, Georgie's own pushy parent, a suck-up agent, an icy studio head with a private agenda, and her ex-husband's new wife, who can't get enough of doing good deeds and saving the world—the bitch. As for Georgie's leading man, Bram's giving the performance of his life, but he's never cared about anyone except himself, and it's not exactly clear why.

Two enemies find themselves working without a script in a town where the spotlight shines bright ... and where the strongest emotions can wear startling disguises.

Right off the bat let me tell you that I loved What I Did for Love. I borrowed the audiobook from my library so that I could have a good book to listen to while walking. I fell in love with the story so quickly that I ended up listening to the entire book in two days. I kept sneaking away looking for ways to be alone so that I could plug in the earphones and listen. What I Did for Love is the fourth book in the "Wynette, Texas" series but you can 100% read as a stand alone. In fact, I am surprised that it was part of series. It didn't feel like a series as I was reading. I didn't feel I was losing out on any connecting characters at all. There is nothing about Texas in this story.  

What I Did for Love was my first Susan Elizabeth Phillips book and it will certainly not be my last. In fact, I am checking online directly following my review writing to see if the library have more audiobooks available to check out. 

I am not sure how Susan Elizabeth Phillips did it but she had me falling for a very unlikable "hero", Bram. When I first started listening to the audiobook, I was thinking to myself that this guy is a real jerk. There was nothing I liked about him. Thankfully little tidbits about Bram came to light and by the end of the book, I was in love with him. I'd like to add that it was a nice slow anticipated build up. There was not one moment where BAM! I completely changed my mind about him. 

Georgie was adorable and probably a rarity in the real Hollywood world. She was a childhood star who had a protective father that looked after her earnings responsibly and thankfully Georgie didn't end up a waste case like so many other young Hollywood child stars do. She had a good head on her shoulders. It was very interesting that Georgie and Bram were teen stars together on the same TV show but they really disliked each other. There was a lot of growing up and maturity required by both of them. 

Stories that have the "Hate to Love" plots are hard to pull off and I found What I Did for Love was practically flawless in the storyline. I was completely engaged and I could envision a lot of real life parallels between the fictional Georgie and Bram to quite a few popular Hollywood couples. The paparazzi were relentless and it would be truly exhausting to live that lifestyle. 

The secondary cast of characters really added to the story. Different personalities all around. As there were so many varying personality traits, it made easy listening to the narrator, Julia Gibson. She gave each character a distinct sound and I was not confused with who was to be speaking at any given moment. She did an especially great job of the cook/housekeeper, Chaz. 

Teasers: fake marriage, father/daughter relationship, steamy lingerie shopping scene, SARS house prison

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Love is in the Air Giveaway Hop

Thank you once again to one of my favourite blogs, Under the Covers for a great blog hop. 

February must be a romance book lovers favourite month of the year. Let's celebrate romance all month long!

I want to spread as much romance as possible this blog hop so I am going to give away 5 box sets of eight novels, Unforgettable Heroes, to five different winners in the US or Canada. 

  • This box set will be awarded to US and Canadian winners. 
  • I will be purchasing from Amazon to gift to the winners. 
  • Age 18+ entries please

a Rafflecopter giveaway For WordPress sites (not self hosted)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Honoria Smythe-Smith and Marcus, the Earl of Chatteris

Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet #1) 

By Julia Quinn
Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Book Blurb:
Quinn’s Just Like Heaven is the dazzling first installment of a delightful quartet of Regency Era-set tales featuring the romantic exploits of the well-meaning but less-than-accomplished Smythe-Smith musicians—in this case, a beautiful violinist in the pitiful group who has her sights set on marrying the last unwed Bridgerton…unless her handsome, love-struck guardian has anything to say about it. Bridgerton fans will cry, “Encore!”—as will every reader who adores England’s Regency period and great love stories that are smart, witty, and lighthearted.

I listened to the audio book of Just Like Heaven. I've recently discovered how easy it is to borrow and download audiobooks from my local library. This lending system is perfect for me because when I walk, I'd much rather listen to a book than music. 

I wanted to love Just Like Heaven. It had all the makings of a story that I would fall in love with; but I didn't. I felt it drag by in many spots. Listening to the narrator in her perfect English voice was really pleasant though. 

I completely loved the epilogue of Marcus and Honoria's childhood. I just adore stories where the protagonists have a long history and really know each other. It was an excellent epilogue and reason number one why I was sure I was going to love this story.

As the story progressed, another reason that I was sure that I would love Just Like Heaven is because Honoria really wanted to get married. She wanted to find herself a husband.  So many times in historical romances the heroine is fighting her matrimonial future and it was a breath of fresh air so read Honoria want it. I also liked that Honoria wasn't a wallflower and there wasn't anything unusually different about her. She just wanted a family of her own and that it'd be a great bonus if she loved her husband. 

In her hunt for a husband, Honoria devises a rather silly plan using a man-made mole hole and it had me smiling. It was at this time that Marcus entered the picture and I have to admit that the book was a complete winner for me up until just after this mole hole meeting. It was after here that it started to lose it's whimsical touch for me. 

I did love that Marcus had a sweet tooth. It is about time a man enjoyed eclairs and tarts just as much as women did. Another enduring trait with Marcus is that he does not thrive being the center of attention. He is definitely an introvert and that worked for me. 

The musical quartet part of the book was very long, dragged out and highly boring. As I was listening to Just Like Heaven instead of reading, I was not able to skip forward. 

There was a lot to like in Just Like Heaven but there was also quite a bit that I would have happily skipped over. Because of my desire to skip forward over much of the story, I am rating only a 2.