Review: Because of You (Coming Home, Book 1) by Jessica Scott

because of youReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Book covers can be a great source of titillation, and this one isn’t half bad either as the sight of a hot guy in combat pants showing his tattooed naked back gets the reader right into the story, or at least it did with me.

Shane is a mixed-up guy who serves in the army as a sergeant, but has a bad private life. With a failed marriage, being a bad son and an even worse father, he doesn’t give himself much hope for a good life when he comes back. After several years in the army, he is finally going to Iraq, in charge of his men. He has to look out for their best interests, and it is noticeable from the story that he is under a lot of pressure to perform.

Jen St. James and Shane have a smooch before he goes off to Iraq, hoping that she might be the one for him after only five months being divorced. He feels as though he might not mess this relationship up if she gives him the chance to break the habit of a lifetime. Jen has recently had a mastectomy, and feels uncomfortable in most of her clothes. She is safe after the cancer scare, but it has left her with a complex about how other men view her. She would love to look sexy in clothes again, and doesn’t realize that most people don’t notice she has only one real breast.

In the story Carponti acts as a means of getting Shane to open up when he is at his worst point emotionally. He is upset about the way his wife left him, and the divorce in general, and all he wants to do is get Shane to have a bit of down time where he can have fun and share some special time with his men. This though is the last thing he wants to do, and little does he know who he will find who he can share a special moment with. Carponti is Cupid and does a great job of it too.

The writer has made sure that the two main characters have their own problems to cope with, and that they can help each other out. She could give him a hand with his uncertainty that life will get any better after the divorce, and he can help her with her lack of positive self image. It didn’t help when Jen’s ex boyfriend once announced to everyone in a bar that she only had one breast.

Jessica Scott impresses the readers with her storytelling ability. She gives readers a chance to read a novel that is more than a romance, but a story of the brief lives of Jen and Shane who are two unhappy people who meet in a most unexpected way. They can help each other find love and that love can heal all in many ways. This is something that we can truly feel in this novel as; Because of You is a riveting read.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Because of You

Review: Just Remember to Breathe by Charles Sheehan-Miles

Just Remember to BreatheReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Pre-law student, Alex Thompson wants to make something of her life; she studies hard and needs to forget the boy who broke her heart before. Dylan Paris returns from his stint in Afghanistan, hurt and injured and intends to never tell Alex he has even come home. This doesn’t work however, when he and Alex end up on the same work study program, and have to work together, and cope with each other’s foibles.

Review: Professor Allen going on a leave of absence from the work study program is only one problem Alex has to face, for the rest she is on her own – with the past coming back to haunt her. How she treated her former boyfriend back then doesn’t make her proud of what she did, and even though she was drunk at the time, she still remembers the words she said to Dylan. Dylan on the other hand remembers that drink led him to dropping out of school early, and having to get further education later as a disabled war veteran. He also wishes he hadn’t come back home, as there are so many bad memories there. Alex is shocked at seeing him for the first time, but once this initial shock is gone, she has to accept she said a few things she shouldn’t, and Dylan has to accept he did things a little wrong when he ran out of her life so easily. No one is going to admit their failings so easily though, and that is half the fun of reading this story.

Charles writes the book well, as each chapter has a separate title plus a name, so you know who’s thinking what, and who it’s about. He puts the emotions of both characters into the novel: Alex’s regrets over her words before, and her second chance at making a go of their relationship now that he is back in her life. Dylan has seen a lot of pain, death and anguish in the war, and has to learn to enjoy life again away from it, and only one person can help her – the one woman who he never wanted to see again.

I liked the character development in the story, and the fact that Alex has to understand what horrible experiences Dylan had in the war before she can truly help him recover from it.

Extra thoughts: Charles isn’t new to writing books that are gripping and insightful on people who have worked in the military. From Republic, Insurgent, Prayer at Rumayla, two non-fiction books and several short stories, he is quite the authority on this subject when dealing with the harsh reality of war, and the sensuality of love. He uses his knowledge and understanding of the military and disabled veterans and puts it into his writing. He also works doing outreach and public affairs for a law firm which represents disabled veterans.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Just Remember to Breathe

Review: Desert Heat: A Story of Samson & Delilah by Micah Sheehan

Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This story starts when Delilah is just a child and a family tragedy occurs. We also see that she kills someone. We first see Samson walking barefoot through the desert in search of a woman who can handle his lust. At this point, Samson and Delilah have not met but their families both want the same thing for them – to get married. The reader will also notice that Samson has quite the sexual appetite.

While reading the first couple of chapters, you wonder if the story was going to be all about Samson and his visits to a brothel. It takes a while before we see Delilah since her mention in chapter 1. Then it’s to see her make a bargain with the devil. The story does not change from the original telling.

According to the publisher it is listed as a historical romance. But to me it’s the Bible story with a lot of erotic material put into it. Violence gets to be a common theme throughout. It is more a work of dark fiction.

The reader relies on the author to paint a picture of what the surroundings and people look like. Micah does a great job with his descriptions. However, that was not enough for me to like this story. I like a good erotic story but thought that the sex scenes just didn’t flow with the telling of Samson and Delilah.

If you are a religious person, this story may offend you. There are also references of God that appear in the story. For others, this story may have you getting your Bible out to see how it was originally written. This story may appeal more to male readers. Women readers may not see the romance.

The title Desert Heat is somewhat misleading. I was hoping that the author would put a different spin on the story – would have liked it more if that had happened.

Spoiler: The story ends the same way as in the Bible. Sorry.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: Desert Heat

Review: Desert Nights by Kitti Bernetti

by Carla F., guest reviewer

Summary: Sheikh Ashmit bin Sultan al Nashan is sent by his father the King to rescue an English schoolteacher, Russ Edwards, who is being held in the desert by terrorists. When Ashmit finds the chained Englishman in the terrorist camp, he is overcome with lust. This is unacceptable! He is stunned and appalled that he is attracted to a man. His duty has always been to marry the beautiful Ashwarya and have an heir for the throne. Until then, his father has said that he must remain a virgin. Purity “in mind and body is essential to maintain the authenticity of our bloodline.”

Russ cannot believe how beautiful his rescuer is, and he doesn’t understand why he is so cold one moment and definitely not cold at all in the next.

Review: It was fun reading a gay version of the typical Sheikh romance novel. Like those it has the intelligent, handsome, and sometimes arrogant leader/prince of a mythical non-Muslim country falling in love with a foreign commoner. At first I had trouble dealing with the idea that a King would send his heir to the throne out alone to save a foreigner from terrorists, but it fits into this type of story. (Later is it is revealed that the King had a very good reason for wanting his son to do this.)

Ashmit definitely has issues, but it is understandable considering how he was raised to believe in his duty to his father and country. I liked how his plan for dealing with his pending marriage allowed him to fulfill that duty.

Hot scene: There’s a temple in the desert that has some interesting carvings and an alter.

Overall: A quick fun read suited to those who like Sheikh and/or LGBT stories.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Desert Nights, Desert Nights (UK)

Review: Whispers in the Sand by Barbara Erskine

by Master Llama, guest reviewer

Summary: After recently being divorced, Anna Fox, a Londoner in her 30’s decides to cheer herself up by going on a river cruise down the Nile, as her grandmother, Louise, did before her. Anna brings two of her grandmother’s possessions on the boat- an ancient Egyptian scent bottle and her grandmother’s diary. However, what is supposed to be a relaxing Egyptian cruise turns into a chilling mystery, as Anna discovers secrets about her grandmother and Egypt. Not to mention the two men who seem very interested in her grandmother’s scent bottle and diary, and maybe even Anna…

Review: Overall, I enjoyed this book, and thought it was a good summer read. The fact that it was set in Egypt made the book more interesting to me, and I learned a lot about Ancient Egypt. I also enjoyed the romance, although the outcome of it was easy to predict.

What I liked:

  • The Ancient Egyptian History
  • How Louise’s (the diary) and Anna’s stories are interwoven
  • The Characters (except for Andy)

What I didn’t like:

  • The plot involving the scent bottle- it was a little far fetched to me
  • The character of Andy- he was annoying, and you could tell immediately that he was bad, but for some reason Anna couldn’t.

Rating: ★★★½☆ stars, because even though I enjoyed it some of the plot was far fetched, and at almost 500 pages it dragged a little in the middle.

Buy: Whispers in the Sand, Whispers in the Sand (UK)

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Review: Desert and Destiny by Isabel Roman

by Susan S., guest reviewer

Roman nocked her arrow, drew back an imaginative bow, took aim, released her words, and hit bull’s eye dead-center!

Desert and Destiny stands alone, and is book three from The Dark Desires of the Druids Series.

Get ready to save a camel and ride a magicker. Yes, I did say that. Go ahead, you can read it again if you’d like. This is erotica, after all!

I felt Roman’s third installment had more. More suspense, more magick, more sex and just flowed better than its predecessors. Lucien and James are still my favorite male characters, but WOW-E-WOW, Gareth can sure rock a heroine’s world. Get ready to pant, plead, scream and whimper because he knows the term foreplay.

Gareth Moore, hero, has just witnessed a murder. As master of his Druidic line and magicker, he knows time is of the essence. Sir John Corwin, witch hunter, is angrier and more desperate than ever. His greed and hatred knows no bounds. He wants the box and he’ll kill…again for it. Which is why Gareth enlists the aid of an Egyptologist at the British Museum in London. Her name is Arabelle Bahari, heroine. Moore and his fellow magickers are relying on Arabelle’s expertise with runes and hieroglyphics to unlock a jeweled box. If she succeeds, it’ll lead them to a book that’s believed to be over 400 years old. Well protected by magicks, after all-it conceals all Druidic knowledge.

Gareth thinks Arabelle only wants a sexual relationship. Arabelle thinks his heart belongs to another. And Corwin can care less…he wants them all dead. It’s a race to the cavern chambers in Egypt! Will anyone make it there…alive?!

Recommendations: If you enjoy historical, erotica, paranormal romances, happily-ever-afters, magick, mystery, and getting caught up in a great series, then there’s a high probability-this book is for you.

The ending will leave you with not one, but three surprises. HEA indeed, this’ll be a re-read for me-no doubt! Will I read book four, titled Temptation and Treachery? Is there an M in the word magick?

Rating: 5 Jeweled Boxes

Buy: Desert and Destiny (Dark Desires of the Druids 3)

eBook, Ravenous Romance, Fantastica, Copyright 2009, Historical, Erotic, Paranormal Romance.
ISBN-13# 978-1-60777-108-1. (Soon to be released in paperback format on September 2010.)

Sheik Romance and the Passion of Arabian Nights

genre

There are many fictional desert kingdoms in Sheik romance. In these desert romances the handsome and enigmatic sheik or prince finds love with the white woman for her sass and zeal of life. She is usually American or English. Powerful and very masculine he domineers her despite her Western background.

Did you know the term bodice-ripper comes from Sheik romance?

The very first Sheik romance/s contained a rape scene. In an article published in 2006 by the Chicago Tribune, staff writer Patrick T. Reardon, writes, “this pattern of kidnap-rape-love, rooted in a pre-1980s cultural belief that unmarried women shouldn’t go looking for sex, involved ‘forcing pleasure on women.’ For their own good, apparently.” Of course in these rape fantasies the heroine never truly suffers or afterwards is traumatized. The experience is a passionate one on both ends and eventually ends in love.

Interesting Fact: The Biblical Dinah was raped – or not – and when Shechem asked for her hand in marriage, he was told only if he and all his compatriots were circumcised. While they were recovering, Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, killed them all. To take a woman, then ask for her hand, was one way to ensure you could marry her, especially if the two of you were interested in each other, and the match might not otherwise be received. (Gen: 30-34).

The Sheik:

In desert romances, the male lead is darkly exotic with dark eyes, handsome features, and tawny sun-kissed bronze skin. He’s been educated at Harvard or Oxford and has learned to tolerate or prefer Western culture, ingenuity, and technology. Almost always, he is forward thinking and Westernized to some degree.

Possible Plots:

Some themes in Sheik romance include marriages of convenience, kidnapping, and rescues, similar to Highlander romance.

The Lure Behind the Desert/Harem Fantasy:

Sheik romance like Paranormal romance has risen in the last few years. In an age where chivalrous princes are nearly nonexistent, Sheik romance offers a modern prince to romance readers. He’s a little bit wild, more than a little dangerous, but very much in love with his heroine. Combine this irresistible masculine force with the exotic and (most times fantastical and fictional) lands of Africa, the Middle East, and the East and it’s magic in the making.

Difference between a Sheik and a Sultan:

Abstractly, the word sultan means strength and authority. A sultan is like a king. Some basic research shows that lands under or previously held under sultan rule could be found anywhere in the East or Middle East.

Lands held by a sheikdom are usually solely Arabic. A sheik in Arabic means “elder” and refers to the elder in a tribe or lord of a tribe. Also it can be in reference to Islamic study and is a title earned upon completion of studies. But in desert romances the title is used as the official title of the Bedouin tribe leader and for nobility.

*You can also spell Sheik with an ‘h’ as in Sheikh romance or sheikhdom.

Review: Bella and the Merciless Sheikh by Sarah Morgan

I just finished reading this amazing Sheikh category romance by Sarah Morgan. Oh my goodness, this is a book to glom! There’s so much to love about the book…

The Heroine: Bella Balfour has the public image of a bad girl. Her recent media explosion landed her smack dab in the desert for a forced retreat as punishment. If you looked sassy up in a dictionary you’d find Bella there. She’s perfect and her terrible jokes are pretty funny if only because you can image the hero’s eye-rolls in response. Her father couldn’t have picked a better spot to strand her because the resort took away her laptop, cell, ipod, makeup, and hair products. The threat of another cup of herbal tea and more hours spent in boring introspection and meditation are enough to inspire a jailbreak.

What I liked about Bella is her very believable transformation from the spoiled socialite into the fiercely independent woman. Without the armor of her bad girl reputation, deep vulnerabilities are exposed. Bella is keenly aware that nobody likes her, that she doesn’t have any true friends, that men only want her for sex. For once she’d like to be desired for herself, flaws and all. When she’s back inside city limits all she wants is to be given a chance to prove to herself and others that she’s not a mess.

The Hero: Sheikh Zafiq Al-Rashid loves the 5 days he gets every year to vacation in the desert and put aside his responsibilities. It’s the only time he gets to relax and enjoy peace, quiet, and most importantly solitude. This year his trip to a quiet oasis is foiled by a chance encounter with an unconscious dehydrated woman and a horse… his most prized mare to be exact. Determined to rescue and then punish the horse thief, Zafiq is unprepared to handle a conscious Bella.

What I liked best about Zafiq as a Sheikh hero he was that he prized self control above all else and realized in the face of Bella that he had never truly tested his control. A quality he thought he had a lot of ended up being something he had surprisingly little of. Usually the heroine is the virginal miss who appears so virtuous until she’s tested by the hero and winds up having very loose morals in most cases. So the fact that it’s reversed (even if the quality in question is different) is wonderful. I liked how it came to play in the category.

He also hates socialites because of how his father acted around his stepmother. He finds love to be a weakness and has literally expunged from himself as many emotional ties as possible, with the exception of perhaps his siblings. He doesn’t understand how to act like a man in love or how to act in a relationship and it’s bittersweet at times to see his reactions to Bella. He can be as merciless and arrogant and prickish as any alpha hero, but inside he’s just a lovable uncertain mess.

Don’t miss out! Go grab yourself a copy!

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Bella and the Merciless Sheikh

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