Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Novel Seduction by Gwyn Cready

Why I read it: Mandi from Smexy Books recommended this one to me a while back and I picked it up on special from Dymocks a while ago.  Of course, on special still meant $9.99 but I was having a "support your local bookstore" moment.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  When snobbish book critic Ellery Sharpe screws up at Vanity Place magazine, her boss assigns her the ultimate punishment: write an ode to romance novels, a genre she considers the literary equivalent of word search puzzles. To make matters worse, he hires her sexy former party boy ex, Axel Mackenzie, to shoot the photos.

Axel really wants the project to succeed. For one, the magazine will double his fee if he convinces strong-willed Ellery to write a story no woman can resist. Besides, getting Ellery to fall for romance novels might be just the push she needs to believe people can change...even him. At his sister’s advice, Axel gives Ellery a copy of Kiltlander, a much-adored romance whose warrior hero is utterly irresistible.

To her dismay, Ellery finds herself secretly falling in love with the story — and with Axel, who’s drawing his own lessons from the book’s compelling hero. With her carefully crafted image of herself crumbling and her dream job on the line, will Ellery risk it all to make the leap from tight-lipped literati to happily-ever-after heroine?

What worked for me (and what didn't):  No prizes for guessing what "Kiltlander" represents :)  Referenced too, is an historical (I'm not sure what that was based on, if anything) and a paranormal romance/urban fantasy too which is kind of a cross between the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (except with a Sisterhood, which was refreshing) and Twilight.  The book stands as a defense of romance novels, while at the same time taking a gentle poke at some of the more outrageous aspects.  The scene where Ellery and Axel are testing the contortions required for some of the sex scenes are pretty funny.  I mean, who hasn't wondered "can they really do that?" at some stage during a love scene?  :D

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Virgin's Revenge by Dee Tenorio

Why I read it:  I was offered a review copy and the blurb looked fun.

What it's about:  (from Goodreads) If you can't beat 'em...seduce 'em

Amanda Jackman’s love life is the stuff dreams are made of...which is fitting, because it’s all in her head. Thanks to six oversized, overbearing brothers who treat her like the family jewel, she’s lived in a padded little box.

Determined to get a life before she needs a padded little cell, she sets out to throw off the yoke and live on her own terms. Except she seriously underestimates the lengths to which her brothers will go to keep her safe and sound.

Cole Engstrom’s life might just be at an end. Cornered by all six of the massive Jackmans—men he normally considers his friends—he learns he’s their choice to marry their sister...or else. Make that first choice, but not the last.

Rather than watch Amanda’s brothers club their way through potential mates, Cole figures it’s best to just play along for a while and buy her some time to find a man of her own. It’s a good plan. Until Amanda figures it out—and decides he’s the one to relieve her of her “sheltered little virgin” status. One seduction at a time...

What worked for me (and what didn't):  Amanda has crushed on Cole for years but thought he only viewed her as a "little sister". Cole has had the hots for Amanda for almost as long but thought she was off limits because of her big tough brothers.  It is only when they are forced together by the machinations of the eldest brother Locke, that the chemistry which has been kept under wraps for so long ignites.   This book takes the "big mis" and kind of turns it on its head.  Part of the fun of the story is that every time either Cole or Amanda have a plan, almost immediately, the other finds out about it and re-plans accordingly.  The device made those aspects of the story fun rather than annoying.  Also, there was no malice to the deceptions.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley, narrated by Carolyn Bonnyman

Why I read it: I enjoyed The Rose Garden on audio recently and picked this one up on special from Audible.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  From the winner of the Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize, this mesmerizing, suspenseful, and richly atmospheric tale of time travel draws us into the heart of a heroine we won't soon forget...

The first time Julia Beckett saw Greywethers she was only five, but she knew at once that it was her house. Now, twenty-five years later, by some strange chance, she has just become the new owner of the sixteenth-century Wilshire farmhouse. But Julia soon begins to suspect that more than coincidence has brought her there. As if Greywethers were a portal between worlds, she finds herself abruptly transported back in time. Stepping into seventeenth-century England, Julia becomes Mariana, a beautiful young woman struggling against danger and treachery, and battling a forbidden love for Richard de Mornay, handsome forebear of the present squire of Crofton Hall. Each time Julia travels back, she becomes more enthralled with the past, falling ever deeper in love with Richard... until one day she realizes Mariana's life threatens to eclipse her own--and that she must find a way to lay the past to rest, or risk losing a chance for love in her own time.

What worked for me (and what didn't):  The blurb above does a fairly good job of letting you know what the book is about without revealing any massive spoilers.  And there are some massive spoilers I will be avoiding - to know them early would truly spoil the impact of the book's surprising ending.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon Stacey

Why I read it: I'm a fan of Shannon Stacey's Kowalski series.  I think she writes really good, fun, sexy contemporaries.  I picked this one up at NetGalley in the Editor's Choice Vol 1 edition.  I'm not sure if/when I'll get to the other stories - the main reason for my interest was this novella.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  Anna Frazier is used to living life at 100 mph, but being downsized out of a job in the financial industry has her permanently stalled. With nowhere to go, go, go, Anna hails a cab to her grandparents' neglected New Hampshire camp to plan her next move. It seems like a good idea—until she realizes there's no takeout to be had and the boy next door has grown into a sexy but surly recluse.

Cameron Mayfield knows he can kiss his peace and quiet goodbye when Hurricane Anna blows in. She was loud and bossy as a ten-year-old—and besides developing some attractive curves, she hasn't changed. Cam's not looking for a relationship, especially not with a woman like Anna. He nearly broke down on that road once before. So why can't he stop thinking about her?

It's not long before their sizzling attraction leads to smoking-hot kisses. But as the days get shorter, Anna must decide if she's found a new road to happiness, or just taken a detour.

What worked for me (and what didn't):  I'm a hero-centric reader and I think Shannon Stacey writes excellent contemporary heroes.  They're realistic.  They talk and act like men - they hate shopping and dithering over which plants to buy (flowers are flowers after all)  or which particular shade of white to paint a window trim.  They're also funny and sexy and good guys.  Cam has withdrawn from the rat race after seeing it kill his father.  It cost him his marriage but he's found peace at Askaskwi Lake and he's not going back to that "gotta-get-ahead-no-matter-what" world.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hell on Wheels by Julie Ann Walker

Why I read it: Jane from Dear Author tweeted the other day that she was enjoying In Rides Trouble, the second book in this series.  I requested it and this one from NetGalley.  Of course, being me, I started on book 1. 

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  He’s the bad boy she’s always wanted...

Nate “Ghost” Weller has loved Ali Morgan nearly half his life. But he’s done something so heinous he’s convinced she’ll never forgive him if she discovers the truth, so he keeps his feelings and his secrets to himself. Then she blows into town with a mother lode of bad guys on her tail and Nate can’t deny she’s in serious trouble. Unfortunately, he’s the only one who can help her.

She’s the good girl he’s kept at arm’s length...

Ali knows Nate as the most solemn, aloof man on the planet. Sadly, he’s also the sexiest. For years she’s avoided him, unable to stomach his dark scowls and brooding silences… especially when she secretly yearns for his touch. Now she must rely on him to save her from the malevolent shadows ghosting her every move. When the bullets explode, so does their passion. But can love really conquer all? Or are some things just too terrible to forgive?

What worked for me (and what didn't): This is a fast paced, spec-ops group types series, very much in the vein of Tara Janzen's Steele Street (Crazy) series  (except with bikes not cars) or Cindy Gerard's BOI's.  Lots of over the top alpha male action - both romantically and in terms of plot.  A certain suspension of disbelief is required to buy into the super seekrit spec-ops group disguised as a custom bike facility, but really, if you're not prepared for that, why would you even pick up the book?  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sharing Hailey by Samantha Ann King

Why I read it: I picked this one up at NetGalley because I liked the blurb.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  Hailey Anderson's deep, dark secret? She's been madly in lust with her overprotective brother's two best friends for years. Gorgeous woodworking artist Mark Allen and sexy doctor Tony Adamo have no idea they star in her fantasies every night.

After a nasty breakup with her abusive boyfriend, Hailey's looking for a little distance. Headed for a two-week Hawaiian vacation with her brother and his hot friends, Hailey can't wait to feast her eyes on Mark's and Tony's rock-hard, ocean-slick bodies. Even if she can't touch.

But instead of treating her like their little sister, Mark and Tony have a surprising proposition: a monogamous ménage à trois. The three of them—and no one else. Both men want Hailey and have agreed to share her. The red-hot reality is even better than the forbidden fantasy. Until Hailey's ex threatens their newfound happiness…

What worked for me (and what didn't): There was much about this book I loved.  The connection between Tony, Mark and Hailey was clear from the start - they have been best friends for many years.  Even though in the blurb they're described as her brother's best friends, really, they are hers also.  Living in the same city, they hang out regularly - although less so since her relationship with Daniel began.   The book begins shortly after her breakup with Daniel.  It took her a long time to realise he was bad for her, but when he started getting violent - pushing her, shaking her and leaving bruises, she called it quits.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O'Shea

Why I read it:  My friend Chris recommended this one on Goodreads and when I saw it on NetGalley, I snapped it up.

What it's about:  Rue is a hairdressing student working part time in a bar who takes a walk on the wild side and tried the hetero sex one night.  Surprise surprise Natalie turns up pregnant.  She doesn't want the baby and Rue, having been abandoned by his own parents, cannot bring himself to reject his child, so agrees to take her.  After baby Alice is born, Natalie signs over her parental rights to Rue and bows out of the picture altogether.  

Desperate for help with child care, Rue approaches his neighbour, Erik, a sci-fi writer who rarely leaves his house.  Told in the alternating 1st person POV of both Erik and Rue, this is the story of how, the cobble together a kind of family, together with Rue (and soon Erik's) BFF, Dusty (totally non sexual with Dusty, BTW).  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Party of Three by Daire St. Denis

Why I read it:  I picked this short story up from NetGalley, intrigued by the blurb and thinking I might finally try a little of the f/f.

What it's about:  (from Goodreads)  Determined to end a long dry spell, Tina is thwarted by her best friend, Des, who scares off the only eligible guy at their party. But Des more than makes up for it when she and her boyfriend, Josh, invite Tina to their own intimate celebration. The encounter awakens cravings Tina didn't even know she had. She's intrigued when the couple asks her to join them for two days of sun, sand and steamy sex in Santa Barbara. She should say no. But she doesn't...


The erotic weekend is beyond amazing. But there's something deeper developing between the trio-something Tina is not yet ready to explore. After all, their party of three can't last forever-can it?
What worked for me (and what didn't):  I've considered reading some f/f romance for a while now but hadn't got around to it.  I must admit it's always been a bit mysterious to me and so I was curious.  When I saw this one pop up on NetGalley, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to finally try some f/f -  even though there's an "m" involved too!  Most of the menage I have read is m/f/m so a f/f/m menage also intrigued.  If the story had've stuck to what I believed it would be from the blurb, I think it would have been much more successful for me.  The sex scenes between Desi/Tina/Josh and Tina/Vixen were well written and very hot (although there was an alarming lack of condom use on Josh's part).  I'm interested in trying more f/f romance now, so I guess something in the book was successful for me. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beginnings and Ends by Suzanne Brockmann

Why I read it: I've read and enjoyed all of the Troubleshooters books and I'm a fan of Jules and Robin so I downloaded this one as soon as it was available.

What it's about:  (the blurb from Goodreads)  After years of playing the tormented actor, Joe Laughlin, on the hit television show Shadowland, Hollywood star Robin Chadwick Cassidy is ready for a change. Joe’s character embodies the real demons of Robin’s past—his struggle with his sexuality, his battle with alcoholism—and portraying the part has taken a heavy toll on his personal life. Robin’s husband, FBI agent Jules Cassidy, has noticed the strain and will do whatever he can to make Robin happy. And what Robin has in mind will forever transform his career, his marriage, and his family.

What worked for me (and what didn't): It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out what the beginning and end the title speaks of is - the end of the series and an addition to the family.  I really don't think that's a massive spoiler.  And, it's not that you actually see much of the latter in any event.  If the story had been more about the "beginning" and less about the "end" I think I would have enjoyed this one a lot more.  I didn't have massive hopes.  I was never expecting an A read - the story is only 38 pages long after all.  I expected a vignette maybe - a Jules and Robin slice of life.  What I got however, was a lot of stuff about Shadowland - a fictional TV show set in a fictional world.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

May Reads

on Paper/eBook

Let's Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) - B+.  If you've ever visited you'll know what to expect here.  It's funny, with some poignant and moving bits too, but mostly it's just really funny.  You will probably need tissues - from laughing so hard - and people will look at you strangely if you read in public.  Also, very cool cover.

Lord of the Fading Lands (Tairen Soul #1) by CL Wilson - A-.  See my full review here.

Lady of Light and Shadows (Tairen Soul #2) by CL Wilson - A.  I don't want to say too much about the plots in the last books because I dont' want to spoil it for new readers.  But, if you read the first book and like/love it, you will love the rest I think.
The epic love story upon which the fate of the world hangs continues in this second book of the quintet.  Ellysetta has started to forge soul bonds with Rain and as their wedding draws closer, the Eld Mages step up their efforts to capture her.
Even better than the first book, I was forced into very late night reading because I just could not put this book down.  The last 100 or so pages are so packed full of drama and action that I just had to keep going until Rain and Ellysetta were safe.