Review: Cinderella and the Sheikh by Teresa Morgan

cinderella sheikHero: Sheikh Rasyn (Ra-sin) Al Jabar has no interest in becoming the next ruler of his homeland, Abbas in North Africa. He decides a Western wife will surely raise the country’s hackles and get him out of the line for succession. When he spies Libby, he thinks he can fulfill his desire to leave the throne and get pleasure out of the arrangement too. He puts on his most charming face and goes in for the kill.

Heroine: Libby Fay is working as a waitress at Hotel Scheherazade in very posh upscale Manhattan. She earns big tips from the wealthy clientele. Waitressing for Libby allows her to wait on people who need a little tender loving care (TLC). She feels that she makes people’s days easier. Growing up, she and her mom would play restaurant, and that’s when she found her calling. This job is the best job she’s ever had and she’s not about to mess it up for a playboy sheikh… even if he’s devilishly handsome and charming to boot.

Review: Libby is no fool. She doesn’t feel Rasyn’s attentions are genuine. He’s only just met her – how can he be in love with her? When he proposes marriage on the first “date” she’s floored. She doesn’t love him, why would she marry him? She says “yes” to help him save face, but an inch given is a mile taken with Rasyn. Twice in the novel, Libby’s mom provides the push to allow Libby to open up to Rasyn. First, he looks at Libby like her father looked at her mother… and then later when her mom asks if she ever gave her heart a chance to love Rasyn. I liked Rasyn’s line about not marrying a man you love, but marrying a man who loves you. I thought that was great! I also like how his plan to bring in an uncultured Western woman backfires. She’s genuine and kind which draws people to her. So while she makes social gaffs like he expected, their results are anything but catastrophic. Poor Rasyn.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Cinderella and the Sheikh (Hot Contemporary Romance)

Review: The Pretender to the Throne (Call of Duty, Book 3) by Maisey Yates

pretender to the throneHero: Xander Drakos is the rebel wastrel prince of Kyrnos. He left the country after his mother’s death. He blamed himself for her death as much as his father and brother did. He pushed his feelings away and drowned his sorrows in all the wrong places, never healing. Now he’s back in the country to finally do his duty as heir-apparent and take over the throne from his ailing father. Just one problem… nobody particularly wants him back.

Heroine: Layna Xenakos was permanently disfigured by acid in the unrest that occurred when Xander left the country. She’s hid herself in a nunnery, believing the lack of vanity makes her a better humanitarian. But, she does care deeply about her appearances—she just buries her feelings and locks them away. That is, until Xander walks back into her quiet life asking her to pick up their relationship as if he never left… to help him win the people over again. Well good luck, he’s going to have to win her over first.

Review: This was a different romance than your usual fare, because it is the heroine that is scarred and not the hero. Layna in a nunnery reminded me of Sound of Music (or maybe I’ve been looking for Sound of Music ever since I got the Blu-Ray and went to Salzburg.) I also thought it was interesting that both of the main characters had spent the time apart hiding from the world. Yes, I know Xander was out in it and living the wild life, but he wasn’t really active in it. He used the club scenes and gambling scenes to hide from himself. Overall, I liked it, but wanted to like the characters a little more than I did. I didn’t really connect with them.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Pretender to the Throne (The Call of Duty)

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Review: When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

when beauty tamed the beastReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: These days kissing a man isn’t anything to write home about, but back in Regency times, merely touching a man meant ruin for the lady in question? In When Beauty Tamed the Beast: A Regency Tale, Linnet Berry Thrynne has been caught kissing a prince of all things, and the ton thinks she has slept with him – the product of their union in her womb, a royal child. All she can do is agree to marry another man, or be a woman considered the worst marriage material around.

Review: The fleeting kiss she had was with Prince Augustus Frederick, the Duke of Sussex. He had courted her, but not asked for her hand in marriage. Linnet had, without realising it allowed herself to be kissed by a sinful womaniser (who had been married once, but a woman who wasn’t deemed good enough for him). As far as her parents are concerned, what’s done is done, and they order her to marry Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, an ill-tempered hulk of a man nicknamed the “Beast.” As she is to be wedded to him, what can she do to better her situation?

Linnet isn’t as naive as one would expect. She doesn’t know what impotence is, but she does know a beast of a man when she sees one, and she sees that in Piers. She soon finds he isn’t as nasty as she has been led to believe by the ton as he had had an accident when he was younger, it has since left him unable to father a child, something most men take for granted when they have the right working equipment. He has a right to be unhappy, and sad at his own predicament, but acts more grumpy than outright cruel, which isn’t in keeping with the books blurb on him being a “Beast.” By page 72, Piers is already being nice to her, so it is up to the reader whether they think he is going to be a beast or a pushover.

Good bits:

  • Prufrock, Piers’s butler – he always has something funny to say to his angst-ridden master.
  • Piers being unable to perform in bed – not for the want of trying though!
  • Everyone thinks that Linnet is with child, even though she only kissed the prince – hilarious.

Bad bits:

  • Spending too much time on minor characters.
  • Piers’ teaching session when he first meets Linnet.

It is written in a comical way, and still keeps the Regency theme through the story, and has lots of sensual scenes in it as well. Eloisa James is the author of such raucous hits as The Duke is Mine and A Kiss at Midnight, and this one is just as fun.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: When Beauty Tamed the Beast

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Review: City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte

city of dark magicReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Sarah Weston is a music grad student who has been offered the job of a lifetime. Nicolas Pertusato is the man that is taking her to her dream job. He’s also something of a tour guide. There are several other characters that lead us on a tour through Prague and Lobkowicz Palace.

While at the Palace, Sarah meets Prince Max. He is a man of mystery even though he is her boss. We have a story here that has suspense, mystery, and the paranormal. Then I’m sorry to say that this book just drew me in and I couldn’t stop reading it. Everywhere I went, this book came with me. I just could not put it down.

I work at an Academic library and could relate to the fact that Sarah’s love is music. I work with a woman who is our liaison with the music department. One thing I missed was having music to listen to while reading this. Had I had some, it was have enhanced my reading enjoyment even more.

So, for you, I could do no less than go to the librarian and ask her what music you should be listening to as you read this book. Below is a list of her suggestions:

  • Haydn, Symphony no. 104
  • Haydn, Cello Concerto no. 1 in C Major
  • Mozart, Symphony no. 40 in g minor
  • Mozart, Requiem
  • Beethoven, Moonlight Sonata
  • Beethoven, Fur Elise
  • Carl Maria von Weber, Der Freischutz, the Huntsmen’s Chorus
  • Paganini, Violin Concerto no. 1

If you are not into classical music, she also suggests that you might like to listen to some Czech or Slovak folk songs. I was very disappointed that I wasn’t listening to any of these suggestions as I was reading this book but I’m hoping that you will try some of her suggestions.

If you love to travel and you ever plan on going to Prague, I’m hoping you will take this book with you. I thought it would make a pretty good travel guide as you enjoy your vacation. I’m sure that it wasn’t Magnus’ original intention but it has me wanting to take the time and go explore Prague with my book with me when I go.

Personally, I feel that this is a book that would be best in paper form instead of e-book. I just loved turning the pages and seeing what Sarah, and all the other characters, had in store for me. I’m hoping you will feel the same way. I just loved Magnus’ words drawing me in and enjoying the feel of the paper as I turned the page. I went to M. Flyte’s web site but could not find that there are any other books in the works but I’m hoping to see more adventures with Prince Max and Sarah.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: City of Dark Magic

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GIVEAWAY: Lynn is giving away her print copy of this book! Enter by leaving a comment. Open to US readers. Last day to enter: May 19, 2013.

Audio Review: Royal Seduction (The Royal Princes of Ruthenia, Book 1) by Jennifer Blake

Royal SeductionHero: Prince Rolfe of Ruthenia, is ruthless in his pursuit of clearing his name and tracking down the traitor who murdered his older brother. Though he’s seen his brother’s mistress across ballrooms in Europe, he’s never gotten close enough to get a real good look. When he finds Angeline Fortin at a ball in Louisiana, he mistakes her for her cousin and won’t listen to her when she says otherwise. When she is caught alone, he kidnaps her and her innocence is only proven when he claims her.

Heroine: Angeline Fortin, is a poor relation in her aunt’s home. To protect her cousin from the dashing, but dangerous prince, they engineer a trip through the woods to the convent nearby. On her return to her aunt’s she is caught. Escape proves impossible and with one quick tumble her whole world alters its course. What is in store for her now? Surely she isn’t meant to be the prince’s mistress for the rest of her life?

Review: If you’re not into bodice rippers from the eighties avoid this one, if they are your cup of tea you might give Royal Seduction a try. My greatest dislike of the book was the cousin and her storyline which leads up to her character death. The girl was apparently at turns either a sex-addicted fiend, using sex as a way to manipulate her situation, or a victim who was raped a lot. I can’t say enough how much I disliked this part of the book. What saves the book is that the cousin is not the heroine, and the real heroine and hero are very compelling. Be warned though, because the first sexual encounter between the heroine and hero is a rape, not a forced seduction. That comes later. The prince’s men tell the Angeline at every turn that her life now is to be Rolfe’s mistress, not to expect marriage. Of course she never asks Rolfe and he never says what he’s thinking either. The misconception almost separates them for good.

Narrator: Melissa Reizian Frank has a very southern voice, which totally jarred me upon first beginning the story. Nothing about the blurb indicated it took place in America. I thought it would take place in Europe and I nearly quit right then. I find it very hard to listen to southern accents, when the narrator sounds far older than the age of the heroine. It’s a personal listening preference.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Royal Seduction (The Royal Princes of Ruthenia)

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Review: Velvet by Xavier Axelson

Velvet by Xavier AxelsonReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Medieval times are the setting for this novel. It is Axelson’s first full length one, and it isn’t about to disappoint. Young Virago is a royal tailor and works at court, taking over the previous tailor, his father, who was killed in an accident. He knows he has to keep up the family trade as a lot of folk are relying on him for court fashions. He has a deep longing for Prince Duir even though he played with him as a child, he loves him, but as it is a forbidden love, he has to keep it a secret. When Virago gets a new cloth sent to him from outside of the kingdom, he is amazed at its beauty and feel. He finds it is called velvet, and it takes his breath away, just as Seton, the court lute player fuels his deep passion for another man to be alone with.

Review: As Virago is around court, his new position allows him to converse with royalty just as his father had, and in one way it is good as he gets to be around Prince Duir, his one true love, but he doesn’t see him as he should – Duir isn’t the sort of prince to be trusted as once his father gives him the position of king, he becomes cruel and unworthy of the title. The velvet Virago gets sent to him seems to have a life of its own. It is an entity that invites the fulfillment of urges, both good and bad, and even those never before known.

There is a sense of foreboding, and duality about this story as Virago lives and works around great privilege, but also gets to see the horror of what his true love, the now King Duir is capable of – murder and slaughter are seen as nothing to him, yet Virago still has a rose-tinted view of him. The king soon has an interest in Seton even though Virago has also fallen for him, so that could inspire a menage situation. There are so many opposites in this story, it is what makes it wonderful to read. Virago is prepared to take the rough with the smooth when dealing with the king, while he likes the smooth love he has found from being with Seton. Love is at the root of all this, and it is a true, honest love, but it is questionable whether it is a lingering one.

It is interesting that Xavier chose the name Virago as it is taken from the Latin words Vir for virile man, and ago to apply to a woman, which means a woman who displays male qualities. Virago in this is a virile man once he is exposed to the velvet, but also with the help of Seton, he can come to realize not everyone is as nice as he imagines.

Naughty Bits: They are nice and steamy! As I mainly read LGBT novels written by women, I found this an interesting diversion from the norm. The idea of opposites attracting, and also showing two sides of a series of people made it easy to identify to the characters. The writer is able to take the reader to his chosen world and let them enjoy it while shocking them too.

What’s the verdict? There are things that aren’t explained much, like Virago’s past, but that doesn’t make you like the story any less. This is a sensual and erotic page turner for those rainy days off.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Velvet

Men and Wolves and Myths, Oh My…

Stephanie JulianGuest Blog by Stephanie Julian, author of Goddess in the Middle (Forgotten Goddesses)

I’m a huge mythology fan so when I realized that GODDESS IN THE MIDDLE, the third book in the Forgotten Goddesses series, was going to be a ménage, I knew I had to come up with two strong men.

Amity, the Etruscan Goddess of Health, is being chased by the minions of Charun, God of the Underworld, who wants to consume her powers so he can break free of the underworld.

She’s going to need all the help she can get to beat Charun. She’s not exactly built to handle an attack by blue-skinned demons with razor-sharp teeth and claws. She’s a healer, not a fighter.

Enter cousins Remy and Rom. They’re actually tracking the demon that’s after Amity and they plan to seduce her so they can be there to catch the demon when it attacks her.

Since I knew I was going to need to two heroes, I didn’t have to look very hard to find the perfect names for my heroes.

Romulus and Remus are the legendary founders of Rome, the sons of a Vestal Virgin and Mars, the God of War (or the demi-god Hercules, depending on who you’re reading). They were raised by a wolf (score! I mean, come on, my heroes are werewolves) and they grew up to become kings.

Okay, so most of the rest of the story isn’t all heroics and glory (we’re talking myth so there’s lots of blood and betrayal and raping and pillaging) but I could ignore all that because I had a great foundation to launch my characters from.

And they really are great guys. Remy and Rom are strong, heroic, loving, loyal and when they decide that Amity is their woman, they give her everything they’ve got. And more.

Here’s a little taste of GODDESS IN THE MIDDLE

“Rom, knock it off.”

Rom turned and found Remy staring at him with stormy eyes and a scowl on his scarred face. Grown men had been known to run the other way when Remy turned that look on them.

Rom glared back at his cousin. “Get dressed before someone sees you, scassacazzo. I don’t want to get stopped by the police with your dick wagging all over the place.”

Remy just raised one brow before he took his sweet time pulling on clothes as Rom buckled Amity into the seat. She seemed to have fallen asleep, which was fine by him.

Dressed, Remy moved forward so he could let his hand stroke along Amity’s disheveled hair.

Rom started the Jeep, wincing at the loud growl from the engine. Vaffanculo, he needed to get this thing tuned up so it didn’t make so damn much noise. Or maybe he’d finally buy a new car since they wouldn’t be battered and bloody so damn much now that they’d killed the demon.

“And there you go again, thinking too damn much.” Remy’s voice held just the right note of sarcasm to fire up Rom’s ire. Remy was the only one who could do that so fast.

Rom prided himself on being relatively calm, cool, and collected during most situations.

Even in a fight, he never let his emotions get the better of him. Remy had enough for both of them.

One of them needed to be thinking ahead to the aftermath. Remy often lost himself in the fight, in the heat of the battle.

Even in the thick of things, Rom was thinking ahead to how to dispose of the bodies.

“It’s a damn good thing one of us actually does think.” Rom deliberately poked at Remy to see what he’d do.

Remy surprised him. He only gave Rom the finger then returned his attention to Amity.

“Why the hell didn’t she tell us who she was?”

Buy: Goddess in the Middle (Forgotten Goddesses)

Review: The Legend of Lady MacLaoch by Becky Banks

The Legend of Lady MacLaochReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This story was written in the first person.

The action starts right from chapter one. Rowan is a fighter pilot whose luck has run out. Then it jumps to the present. Cole, Nicole Ransome Baker, is our narrator. She’s home from college to attend a family member’s funeral. She then starts to think about the family’s heritage.

How many of you have ever wondered about your ancestors? Have you looked at your family tree? Have you ever wanted to trace your roots back as far as they could go? Have you ever traveled to find out the answers?

Cole has arrived in Glentree Scotland to get some answers. There she meets some very interesting characters. Becky paints quite the picture – makes me want to travel to Scotland to see what I would find. But in a way the author is a travel agent – their story telling takes us to places that we may never visit except in our mind.

Cole’s on a walk to find Castle Laoch and whom should she come upon but Rowan. And it’s certainly a memorable meeting. They are both a force to be reckoned with. Becky has me hooked into the story and wondering what will happen between Rowan and Cole. I couldn’t put the book down – I kept saying “one more page” and then “one more chapter”.

Rowan seems to be a man with issues – can Cole help with those? There’s one scene where Rowan asks Cole to accompany him to the gardens. I could almost picture a different era and him all decked out in his kilt. There’s also a clan gala – I somehow missed my invitation in the mail.

In my area of the country, we have the Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival (http://www.glasgowlands.org/info.html). This is their 19th year and it will be held in Florence, Massachusetts. If you are in my neck of the woods on Saturday, July 21 you may want to check out the festival. I just may make it there myself this year.

I would love to see this book made into a movie so that I could see the book play out before my eyes. Rowan is the perfect hero – he’s a strong man that protects the woman character. I also love that Becky hasn’t filled the book with lots of sex.

There is sex in the book but it’s done at a point in time where our couple realizes what they mean to each other. I think if she had more than she did, it would have ruined the story for me. We also get to see how crazy some people will become when they think a family curse is involved.

If you love this book as much as I did, you will want to keep your eyes open for Becky’s newest book, “Forced”, it will be coming out this summer. She also spices up her story with a little mystery and intrigue which just makes it that much harder to put the book down.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Legend of Lady MacLaoch