Sunday, April 28, 2013

Short Rides by Lorelei James

Short Rides (Rough Riders book 14.5)

By Lorelei James 

Book Blurb:The stories included in the Short Rides anthology are:

King of Hearts* -- Deputy Cam McKay deals with a murder/suicide case on Valentine's Day.

Rough Road -- Chassie, Trevor and Edgard Glanzer spend a romantic weekend away from the ranch and kids celebrating their anniversary...only to return home to face their biggest challenge yet.

All Knocked Up -- Keely and Jack Donohue are having a baby. Given Keely's raging pregnancy hormones, will Jack need to wear a cup in the delivery room?

Lorelei James is an auto-buy author for me. I didn't even know what these stories were going to be about. All I knew was that Short Rides was a collection of updates from the Rough Rider series' characters. 'nough reason for me! 

What a treat it was to have updates regarding some of my favourite Rough Riders characters. These are not stand alone stories. In fact if you have not read the previous books, you would be lost. I look upon Short Rides as a gift from Lorelei James to her fans. She makes us all fall in love with her characters and that she takes time to write updated snippets is pure joy. 

King of Hearts - Cam and Domini's updates
Cam is one of the McKay brothers that are not ranchers. He is the area deputy and unfortunately his job often entails gruesome and unpleasant circumstances. King of Hearts allows the reader to peak into situations that Cam has to face and then follows up on how he in fact does deal with it. Cam and Domini have a brood of adopted children and I love how their stories always touch on the fact that adopted children are just as precious and loved as biological children.

Rough Road - Ed, Trevor and Chassie's update
Rough Road deals with the "gay" issue and the "perverted" lifestyle that the loving triad's children encounter. Now that their first son is in grade 1, he is now starting to get teased at school about having "faggot" fathers and an immoral home life. This story made me spitting mad. I loath "good Christian people" who hide behind their faith to dictate what should or should not be. The hurt. The pain. My heart was in my throat when other kids bullied their kids about something that they cannot control. 
In the end, Rough Road demonstrated how powerful a strong supportive family can be. I almost teared up at the end with happy tears. 

All Knocked Up - Keely and Jack's updates
Keely and Jack are one of my favourite couples. I LOVE the way they talk to each other. So real. Keely's smart ass mouth and with Jack never putting up with her shit makes this pair one of the most realistic couples I have read about. This story made me want to re-read All Jacked Up all over again. 
Keely and Jack have big news on the baby front. I was laughing at them and I was so pleased that I was not them. YIKES!
Once again, a heavy loving family message was at the fore front. 

1000 thank yous Lorelei James for these updates and if you continue to publish outstanding bits of updates like this grouping, you can be sure I'll be right there to snatch them up!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long

Evie Duggan and Adam Sylvaine's book

A Notorious Countess Confesses (Pennyroyal Green book 7)

By Julie Anne Long

Book Blurb:She rose to spectacular heights…
From Covent Garden to courtesan to countess, beautiful, fearless, shamelessly ambitious Evie Duggan has riveted London in every role she plays. But the ton never could forgive her scandalous—if shockingly short—marriage, and when her star plummets amid gleefully vicious gossip, the countess escapes to the only legacy left to her: a manor house in Pennyroyal Green.

He never expected to fall so hard…
He has the face of a fallen angel and a smolder the devil would envy, but Vicar Adam Sylvaine walks a precarious line: resisting temptation…and the wild Eversea blood in his veins. Adam’s strength is tested when scandal, aka the countess, moves to Sussex. But when a woman who fiercely guards her heart and a man entrusted with the souls of an entire town surrender to a forbidden desire, will the sweetest sin lead them to Heaven...or make outcasts of them forever?

I confess I was not really looking forward to reading A Notorious Countess Confesses. I'm not a fan of romances with vicars and when I do read one, it's always the same plot where a vicar needs to tame a wild woman. Okay truth is, religious men don't do it for me. The difference with this book was the added benefit of the fabulous writing of Julie Anne Long who's style never disappoints. I couldn't walk away and not read it after reading all the previous books. 

I admit to hoping that A Notorious Countess Confesses had more humour to offer and my fingers were crossed that the story would be more than a vicar taming the "notorious" woman. I would say that Evie really didn't need all that much taming as it was more her reputation that needed harnessed. 

The story was just okay. Adam did nothing for me and Evie was predictable. I missed the witty banter that the other Pennyroyal Green stories provided. Adam just seemed lust driven and it was a bit lost on me why Adam didn't feel any remorse at all for having pre-marital sex. Is that okay for vicars? I would have thought his morals and values would have been a bit higher than a common rake. 

I was also glad that Julie Anne Long introduced the fact that Adam has a slight healing ability before A Notorious Countess Confesses because if she had just wrote that Adam simply healed Evie's maid by holding her hand and praying, this book would have been a DNF. 

I admired Evie as she was trying to keep her head a float and support the family that seemed to rely on her for everything. She provided some great tidbits of sage advice. 

I am a fan of the happily ever after but the ending was way over the top. It was too perfect. 

In June, book 8 comes out and I can say without a doubt I am very much looking forward to reading It Happened One Midnight. This book will be Jonathan Redmond's and I have liked him for a long time. I eagerly await the release. 

Teasers: "A vicar's job is where he belonged to everyone and yet to no one." 

Monday, April 22, 2013

How the Marquess Was Won by Julie Anne Long

Julian Spenser the Marquess Dryden and Phoebe Vale's book 

How the Marquess Was Won (Pennyroyal Green book 6)

by Julie Anne Long

Book Blurb:The Scandal Sheets call him Lord Ice.
Ruthless, cold, precise, Julian Spenser, Marquess Dryden, tolerates only the finest-- in clothes, in horseflesh, in mistresses. And now he's found the perfect bride, the one whose dowry will restore his family's shattered legacy and bring him peace at last: the exquisite heiress Lisbeth Redmond.
She's about to play with fire...
But one unforgettable encounter with Lisbeth's paid companion, Phoebe Vale, and the Marquess is undone. This quiet girl with the wicked smile and a wit to match is the first person to see through the icy facade to the fiery man beneath. But their irresistible attraction is a torment as sweet as it is dangerous, for surrendering to their desire could mean losing everything else they ever wanted.

Although How the Marquess Was Won is a Pennyroyal Green series book, I think it should have been categorized more as a spin off book. I don't even recall cousin Lisbeth Redmond from the previous books and the story really wasn't about a Redmond nor an Eversea. Granted the setting was in Pennyroyal Green. 

There are lots of stories about a governess/school teacher/companion that have a whirlwind romance that result in a marriage that is above their servitude station.  The Duke/Earl/Viscount/Marquess in these stories follow the exact same story line as How the Marquess Was Won. Having said that, Julie Anne Long's fabulous writing and her character's dialogue sets How the Marquess Was Won well above the others. 

How the Marquess Was Won did leave me with some lingering questions. My biggest ponder is about how Phoebe came to Pennyroyal Green to begin with. The school sounded rather prestigious and the way Phoebe explained her story was that she was wild street child who was captured and whisked away to the safety of the school. Just who was her benefactor that arranged for her education at the school. That great education ultimately lead for her to be a teacher at that very same school. I don't think I missed any clues and it makes me curious. I wonder if the readers will ever find out? 

What makes Phoebe a fabulous heroine is that she has a Jane Eyre vibe to her. She is not beautiful but I gather she is not exactly homely either. She is highly intelligent and has a longing to belong. Phoebe is a wonderful conversationalist and has wit behind her words. I'd love to have a conversation with her myself. She has great comebacks and insight and it was no wonder that the Marquess was smitten. 

Jules is set up as Lord Ice but I never got that frosty feeling from him at all. He seemed like one of the more harder working marquess that I've read about and I got the impression that he was a really good man. I very much enjoyed reading about Jules and Phoebe's interactions. 

Lisbeth Redmond is a bit villainized in the story but I can't say as I blamed her much. Lisbeth is a victim of her spoiled upbringing and if she thought (and was lead to believe) that the marquess was to be her husband, I don't think her attitude was unjust. I suppose she felt the carpet being swept out from underneath her. Now I am not a fan of Lisbeth at all but I did understand where her feelings were coming from. 

Teasers: beaver hat hit, charcoal marquess on her bosom, blue ribbon cat demon disguise, damned forelock

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Since the Surrender by Julie Anne Long

Rosalind March and Captain Colin Eversea's book

Since the Surrender (Pennyroyal Green book 3)

By Julie Anne Long

Book Blurb:A Man of Action . . .
Fearless. Loyal. Brilliant. Ruthless. Bold words are always used to describe English war hero Captain Chase Eversea, but another word unfortunately plays a role in every Eversea's destiny: trouble. And trouble for Chase arrives in the form of a mysterious message summoning him to a London rendezvous . . . where he encounters the memory of his most wicked indiscretion in the flesh: Rosalind March—the only woman he could never forget.
A Woman of Passion . . . 
Five years ago, the reckless, charming beauty craved the formidable Captain's attention. But now Rosalind is a coolly self-possessed woman, and desire is the last thing on her mind: her sister has mysteriously disappeared and she needs Chase's help to find her. But as their search through London's darkest corners re-ignites long-smoldering passion and memories of old battles, Chase and Rosalind are challenged to surrender: to the depths of a wicked desire, and to the possibility of love.

Since the Surrender is probably my least favourite Pennyroyal Green book yet. It didn't have the sparkle, wit or charm that all the previous books I have read. Since the Surrender is book 3 in the series but I've read a good many out of order so really it is the fifth book I read. 

Since the Surrender has a mystery element to it which I enjoyed. I was having a hard time connecting the dots on how their investigation all got started or what led to the infamous "cow and angel" painting in the museum. One day I will have to re-read to see if it made more sense. 

Colin was quite a bit grumbly and gruff compared to the previous good natured Pennyroyal Green men. Understanding he was a victim of the war and a forever military man, the Captain in him was a bit hard to love. I sensed that is why the author perhaps created the much loved 10 year old street urchin, Liam. Liam certainly allowed for a softer side of Colin to seep through the pages. 

Speaking of Liam, I think he was one of my most favourite things about the entire story. Julie Anne Long's version of a street-smart, 10 year old boy was spot on. Liam was the smile that was cemented on my face throughout the story. 

Rosalind was a bit bland for me as a heroine. I wanted to admire her, and I suppose at times I did. I think what held me back was that Rosalind and Colin were unfaithful to Rosalind's husband when he was alive. A kiss is still a kiss and actually for me it was more about all the emotions that were behind that kiss. It seemed to prevent me from liking this couple. They both loved her deceased husband and I am grateful that the author added in that he forgave them. I imagine it is hard to make an adulteress story work and I would say that Since the Surrender told a very convincing story. In the end, I am pleased that Rosalind and Colin did find their happiness. 

Teasers: Mr. Welland-Dowd, Mr. O. McCaucus-Bigg, paying for petty crimes on your back, puppet scare

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Like No Other Lover by Julie Anne Long

Cynthia Brightly and Miles Redmond's book 

Like No Other Lover (Pennyroyal Green Book 2)

By Julie Anne Long

Book Blurb:Now or Never...
It's the last chance for Cynthia Brightly, the ton's most bewitching belle. Driven out of London by a secret scandal, she must find a grand husband at the Redmonds' house party before word of her downfall spreads all over England. Unfortunately, someone at Pennyroyal Green is already privy to the whispers of broken engagements and dueling lovers: Miles Redmond, renowned explorer and—thanks to his brother's disappearance—heir to the family's enormous fortune.
Miles set his sights on Cynthia once, at a time when the ambitious beauty thought herself too good for a second son. But now he's heir apparent, relishing his control. He strikes a bargain with her: he'll keep Cynthia's steamy secrets and help her find a husband among the guests—in exchange for a single kiss.
What could be the harm in a simple kiss? Cynthia is about to discover that it's enough to unleash fierce passion—and that Miles Redmond is most certainly like no other lover in the world.

Oh how I adore the characters Julie Anne Long creates. I'm giving Like No Other Lover a rating of 5 simply because I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard in an historical romance during a particular scene (maybe it was Lisa Kleypas' Scandal in Spring) and just from the sheer joy of loving Miles and Cynthia's story. So maybe there a few other reasons as well but those two are the main ones. 

As with all the Pennyroyal Green books that I have read to date, the writing is simply spectacular. I get so absorb into the stories, so lost in time and grieve when the story is over. Like No Other Lover was just the same. I have read a few of these books out of order and I am working to correct that now. It is so much better to read about each of these couples in the proper order of their romance. I certainly do not mind doing re-reads of the books I have previously devoured. 

Like No Other Lover was like no other historical romance that I have read recently. The entire story timeline occurs during a two week house party (which I normally despise), and there was no villain to thwart the affections between Miles and Cynthia. Thankfully there were no useless mis-communications or mis-understandings between the couple to hold down as the main plot. Miles was an intelligent scientist type of man that wore spectacles yet had a very commanding presence. I LOVED the story. 

I started out not liking Cynthia. I grew to admire her quickly and I was once again reminded of how women in those times were destitute without a husband. She may have had scheming thoughts behind her smiles but her heart got the best of her and ultimately love won in the end.  The parallel between Cynthia's position and the bedroom window spider was not lost on me. Quite relevant considering Miles' affection for the study of insects. Very creative.  

I liked Miles right away but not in a dreamy sort of way. I just seemed to respect him and admired his confidence. His intelligence was really attractive. He was not arrogant at all. 

Okay now my favourite part of the book. I don't want to give away spoilers but let me tell you, the drinking game had me gasping for breath and running for a Kleenex to wipes the tears from my eyes. I had to compose myself. To Julie Anne Long's credit, her humour is always spot on but when she write a scene that is deliberately funny, I break down in a hearty laughter. A very memorable scene for sure. 

Teasers: Spider the kitten, statue of David's penis, secretly entwined hands on a garden bench, "Oh Mr. Redmond. You're so interesting."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens

Honoria Anstruther-Wetherby and Sylvester "Devil" Cynster, the Duke of St. Ives' book

Devil's Bride (Cynster book 1)

By Stephanie Laurens

Book Blurb:To have...When Devil, the most infamous member of the Cynster family, is caught in a compromising position with plucky governess Honoria Wetherby, he astonishes the entire ton by offering his hand in marriage. No one dreamed this scandalous rake would ever take a bride. And as society mamas swooned at the loss of England's most eligible bachelor, Devil's infamous Cynster cousins began to place wagers on the wedding date.
...and to hold.But Honoria wasn't about to bend society's demands and marry a man just because they'd been found together virtually unchaperoned. No, she craved adventure, and while solving the murder of a young Cynster cousin fit the bill for a while, she decided that once the crime was solved she'd go off to see the world. But the scalding heat of her unsated desire for Devil soon had Honoria craving a very different sort of excitement. Could her passion for Devil cause her to embrace the enchanting peril of a lifelong adventure of the heart?

About a year ago I was lucky enough to have won a trilogy of the Cynster sisters. I enjoyed those books and I knew that the trilogy was a spin off of the original Cynster series by Stephanie Laurens. I checked out the series and since this first book, Devil's Bride was originally published in 1998 and the series was still going strong, I just knew I had to read the book that started it all. 

The Kindle copy of Devil's Bride is really expensive at $11.22 so when Amazon had a super deal of only $2.22 I snatched it up. I'm glad I did because it is now back up to $11.22. I guess that just goes to show you, even though it is a vintage romance, they can still be pricey. 

I really enjoyed Devil's Bride although in many places it really dragged on. I kind of contradict myself here because on one hand I am glad that the murder mystery that surrounded Devil's cousin, Tolly didn't have the protagonists easily making the murderous connection and then on the other hand, it sure took them a long time to make the connection.  The reader easily figures out who the murder was and I was really hoping for a surprise where Stephanie Laurens was taking the reader down a path and then surprise us at the end. Unfortunately that was not the case and I was a bit disappointed. 

As much as I adored Devil and Honoria together, I couldn't quite figure out why Devil wanted to marry her so badly from the beginning. He pursues her seductively and eventually the stubborn Honoria gives in. There were times I thought he was wearing her down but ultimately I do believe it was her choice to marry him. 

I felt that there weren't many intimate scenes but the private moments that Devil and Honoria experienced did have a lot of heat. I was excited for them when they finally gave into their desires and I really felt that they were meant to be. 

One thing I really liked about Devil's Bride is that the author Stephanie Laurens included actual locations and street names. I love when an author includes real locations set in with fictional characters. So many times I have read historicals with such vague locations that it was great to make a note of the streets and look on a map. I loved that. 

Devil and Honoria make a great couple and definitely have the staying power and presence to be the head of the entire Cynster family. A fabulous book to start it all.  

Teasers: wood cutter's cottage, cake-eating demon horse, Grosvenor Square,  saved by a flask

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Always Miss April by Maggie Wells

Delavan Cormack and Marilyn Dumbrowski

Always Miss April (Hot Nights in St. Blaise book 4)

by Maggie Wells

Book Blurb:The tender feelings Sheriff Delavan Cormack has for his lifelong best friend, Marilyn Dumbrowski, are the worst kept secret in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone else’s business.
When Marilyn’s teenage son starts acting out, Del uses his badge and their friendship to force the marriage he has wanted for too damn long. What Del didn’t know was the cool, competent ER nurse and hardworking single mom has been keeping a secret that has her burning red hot day and night.
With everything he dreamed of having in the palm of his hand and so much more than he bargained for happening in the bedroom, Del is faced with figuring out exactly how far he’s willing and able to go when he discovers that the power of his love may not be enough to satisfy the woman he adores.

Always Miss April is the forth novella in the Hot Nights in St. Blaise series by Maggie Wells. You can read each novella as a stand alone which is awesome because you can grab any of these monthly stories and enjoy. 

Del and Mari have been friends forever. These couplings are one of my most favourite types of romances to read about. I also loved the fact that Del and Mari were closer to my age since Mari had a teenage son from her previous marriage. I could certainly relate to the difficulties she was experiencing raising a son stuck between being a kid and an adult. 

Del was the town sheriff and Mari was an ER nurse and it was awesome how the entire small town was in support of their rushed marriage. For a novella length story, I felt that there was a lot of history that got covered and I really got to understand and feel for Del and Mari's situations. 

Although the novella is under the erotic genre I'd say that Always Miss April focuses much more on their emotions with a rush of heat included. The story also tackles a medical condition that is often joked about but the author delivers a real life approach. It certainly provided a different view and how it would affect a real marriage. 

Teasers: jail house dreaming, front seat honeymoon, army of silicone soldiers


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Giveaway - "Highbury" Regency Slippers by American Duchess

If you follow my blog, you'll know how much I love historical romances. One of my favourite things about historical romances are the descriptions of the women's gowns and accessories.  So when I seen this giveaway offered from one of my favourite blogs, I just had to share with you!

American Duchess is a super cool website that specializes in historically accurate costuming from the 16th to 20th century. The good news is that American Duchess is having a giveaway for a lucky person to win a pair of "Highbury" Regency Slippers. These lovely shoes are dye-able.  

Below is a Rafflecopter that you can enter in directly. 

The winner will be selected on Thursday, April 18, 2013 by American Duchess.  If you win and have already pre-ordered Highbury, your order will be FREE, you can add a second pair for free, or choose to receive a gift certificate for the value of Highbury, to spend on anything you like in the shop.
*The winner will receive her shoes when the shipment of Highbury arrive in July 2013.  

Would you love to wear the gowns and shoes that the ladies used to wear in the Regency era? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hot, hot, hot: Newer erotic romances for you

USA Today posted a fabulous list of some newer erotic romance releases. 

I have read some of these author's work before and I'm a fan of quite a few them. If you are looking for a book with some heat, check out the link below as I am sure you will find something to titillate your salacious side. It looks like there are lots of different types of erotic romances to choose from. 

(click below)
Hot, hot, hot: Newer erotic romances for you:

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost

Vlad and Lelia's book

Once Burned (Night Prince book 1)

By Jeaniene Frost

Book Blurb:After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person's darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude...until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world's most infamous vampire...
Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all--but whatever you do, don't call him Dracula. Vlad's ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him - a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.

I'm so happy that Vlad is getting his entire little side spin off series from the Night Huntress series. The Night Prince series is off to a great start with Once Burned. If you have not read the Cat & Bones Night Huntress series, you can totally read this spin off series without a doubt. Cat and Bones only make a cameo appearance and they have no relevance to the story at all. It might even be better if you had not read the Night Huntress series previously because this Vlad in Once Burned seemed like a completely different character. 

I know that some fans lust after Vlad. Granted the way he is physically described and immaculately dressed is enough to set off fire alarms but I find his arrogance holds him back on his attraction level for me. That doesn't mean I don't love to read about him. I personally cannot wait to read further into the series where I hope to discover that Leila brings him down a notch or too. 

Together, Vlad and Leila heat up the pages. She doesn't want to be attracted to him nor does she want to end up loving him but the draw she experiences is undisputed.  She knows she has to protect her heart but cannot seem to help herself. Vlad just oozes power and I think that is the main attraction. Well that and he is drop dead gorgeous. I think Jeaniene Frost did a great job of hiding Vlad's feelings towards Leila as the story is told from Leila's point of view and not Vlad's. You know he cares for her and lusts after her but you don't quite get the impression (as of yet) that he is in love. 

Once Burned has some pretty gruesome and highly descriptive torture scenes. I know I winced a few times. Lets just say that Vlad lives up to his claim to fame as Vlad the Impaler. However in this respect, Vlad annoyed me to no end. He is old school in his thinking and I was not a fan of how he treated his loyal people or should I rephrase that and say how he punished his loyal people. Way over the top. He is such a contrast to Lelia's guarded world. 

Lelia has a very unique gift of electrocution and her ability to tunnel back through memories by touching objects was really different. I liked it. I like how that gift was used to interact with Vlad. As such, it certainly demonstrated on another level how perfect they are for each other. 

Once Burned does not end on a major cliff hanger and I do love that book 2, Twice Tempted is now available for me to purchase. Oh how I love to continue on with a series once I start. I am hesitating in purchasing right now though. I think I want to wait until the third book is published so I can read them all together. 

The entire plot of the book was about Vlad and Leila working together to find out who is out to destroy Vlad. The readers find out this information but it is interesting that I only finished the book yesterday and I already forget why the villain was after Vlad. I may have to go back and refresh my memory on that.  

Teaser: the best visual shower scene ever, manacles of memories, horse stall horror, a little bit of blood for medicinal purposes