Review: One Mad Night Anthology by Julia London

one mad night

One Mad Night

Chelsea Crawford and Ian Rafferty are high profile ad execs in cutthroat competition for a client. When a major winter storm puts New York City on lockdown, the two rivals have to make it through the night together-oh, the many ways in which opposites attract…

Review: Julia London is an author I love to read. In this book, I really enjoyed Chelsea and Ian as a couple. They were competitive, and tried to one-up each other all the time, but they weren’t nasty about it. They played fair which was sexy. Even when the outcomes weren’t what one or the other wanted they would use the defeat to push forward and do better next time. Their chemistry sparkled and as I read I wanted them to hurry up and kiss already! Good thing they get snowed-in because it gave them both the push they needed to succeed at love.

The two leads were very likable. Ian had a very strong sense of right and wrong. He likes to win but he doesn’t like to win by default or get handed things. Chelsea wasn’t whiny. She had a lot of dignity and high standards.

Rating: ★★★★★

The Bridesmaid – Bonus Novella

Kate Preston has just moved to New York. Joe Firretti is contemplating a move to Seattle. When the weather wreaks havoc with transportation systems, Kate and Joe meet as they are both trying to rent the last car available… As Kate races to make her best friend’s wedding, and Joe races to a life-altering job interview, it looks like together is the only way they’ll make it at all

Review: This book was not in the digital ARC I received.

Buy: One Mad Night: A Novella

Get into bed with Julia London (a delicious author interview) to learn more about the author and this book in particular!

Audio Review: Once More, My Darling Rogue (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, Book 2) by Lorraine Heath

once more my darling rogueHero: Drake Darling isn’t his real name, but it’s the one he uses. Drake’s father was an awful abusive man who murdered his mother. Drake watched him hang. He was taken in by a nice well-to-do family and raised as one of their own, even though he wasn’t. He can charm any woman, but Lady Ophelia Lyttleton. She knows what he is and makes sure he knows it too.

Heroine: Phe (Ophelia) loses her memory in an accident she can’t recall. She doesn’t even really know who she is, but the man, Drake, who says he’s her employer makes her feel safe. She likes that feeling even if the rest of what he says seems false. How can she be a servant? She doesn’t even know how to do the basic things a servant does!

Review: This book started off very strong for me and kept it’s pace right up to the last portion of the book. Then the story kind of nosedived and hit concrete instead of landing in the pool. I didn’t like that the author made the heroine a victim of incestuous rape in order to make her likable. Not to diminish the horror of it, but the whole thing reeked like a cop-out. I liked the heroine perfectly fine when she was an uppity chit with airs and so much pride she became a snobby ill-bred person around the hero. She could have been a product of her upbringing like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. She even had lovely Emma undertones as her personality was revealed in little pieces here and there as her memory loss allowed her to flourish away from what society demanded of her. It’s really too bad because for me it took the book from a five star rating and plummeted it. For somebody else it might work.

Narrator: At first I didn’t really like Helen Lloyd as she narrated the heroine’s part. Her voice didn’t quite jive, but as the story progressed I learned to like her. James Adams had a very nice voice and I liked listening to him a lot. It’s always fun to listen to men narrate romances.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Once More, My Darling Rogue (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, Book 2), Once More, My Darling Rogue (Audio Book)

Review: Twisted (Eternal Guardians, Book 7) by Elisabeth Naughton

Tempted.inddReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Cynna is a spectator of an interesting fight.  Nick is fighting for his survival without losing who he is.  Almost right away this author shows how ugly the beast of sexual and mental abuse is.  I found that even though this is part of a series, you could read this book by itself.  But if you want to know more about the Guardians, you’ll want to stay true to the series.

If you’re someone that likes Mythology (one of my favorites in English class) you’ll see that it’s combined with a group trying to protect us humans and half-breeds.  You might even recognize some of your favorite gods and those you loved to hate.  If you like some action in your read then this book will be perfect for you.  On top of that, Elisabeth adds a mystery into the mix that will heighten your reading experience – who doesn’t love a good mystery.

An interesting character to watch out for is Ari – you’ll understand when you meet him.  But he also makes me curious – what’s his story.  Nick gives the readers hints but I still found myself wanting to know more.  Both of the main characters are strong willed but for different reasons but that doesn’t stop them from realizing how much they need each other.  Once you get involved in the story, you will find it hard to put down – there’s just no good stopping point because something else will come up that will grab your attention.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: TWISTED (Eternal Guardians Book 7)

Get into Bed with Lauren Layne (Author Interview)

lauren layneKeira: Only With You features an enemies-to-lovers trope. What is your favorite aspect of enemies-to-lovers plots?

Lauren Layne: From the moment I discovered romantic comedies, enemies-to-lovers became a favorite. Actually, probably THE favorite. But it’s not until I started writing my own romance stories that I figured out why: instant-conflict. Have you ever picked up a romance that had exquisite writing, relatable characters, but you just couldn’t get into it? It’s probably because there wasn’t enough conflict; not enough “stuff” keeping the two characters apart. With the enemies-to-lovers plot, there is so much anticipation on the page because these two people don’t like each other … and yet they DO. It’s like the Holy Grail for sexual tension.

The other reason I love enemies-to-lovers? It’s a great set up for fun banter. Banter is my favorite thing to write, and when my two main characters are at odds, I get to write lots of it!

Keira: It also features an office romance and a romance where a main character dates a sibling’s “ex”. Both can be tricky to navigate without coming across tacky and I think you hit a home-run. What were you most aware of as potential pitfalls while writing this book?

Lauren: I so appreciate you saying that these elements worked for you, because you’re correct … getting them right was HARD. As far as the office-romance goes, I’ve always been a sucker for them, but I’m also a feminist, so it was really important for me that Sophie wasn’t the little woman who was pushing papers, in awe of her big, important boss. In order to give a modern-take on the boss/secretary romance, I tried to make it clear that Sophie’s job choice was very deliberate. She was in charge of her life, she was calling the shots. And I’ve worked as a receptionist at a big company; it’s freaking hard, important work!

As far as the “dating of the sister’s ex,” that was even more difficult. I really have to credit my agent with helping me get that part right. In earlier drafts, I skimmed over it TOO much, so it wasn’t believable. In later drafts, I went too far the other way, and made Gray and Brynn too much of a thing. Finally, FINALLY I found the happy in-between phase. I think. I hope.

Keira: Gray has a gut reaction to meeting Sophie. She reminds him of his ex-fiance in her appearance. He’s introverted and awkward around people, failing at the most basic social niceties – in other words, he sticks his foot in it a time or two. What was something Gray said or did that he felt most embarrassed by later?

Lauren: Ha. Poor, poor Gray. But really, don’t we all know a few real life Grays? Those people who have a GREAT heart, but for whatever reason, are really, REALLY bad at showing it?

As far as “in the book” moments that he regrets: that in-the-elevator meeting with Sophie, for SURE. Not only was he guilty of a snap-judgment, but he’s guilty of saying it out-loud. Major no no. As far as moments in his past that the reader doesn’t get to see? I definitely picture him being an absolute disaster asking a girl to prom :)

Keira: How do you define love? What does it take to be with someone for the long-haul?

Lauren: You know, this is such a great question, and one I think about  lot, not only because my chosen career is writing love stories, but because of my personal life. My husband and I met at 15, started dating at 17, married at 23 … basically we’re a recipe for “married too young,” but we’re 31 now and seem to get happier every day. And sometimes I’m like, “How? Why? Why does this work SO well for us, and not everyone?” I think the difficult answer to this question is that it’s just not the same for every couple. For us, it’s definitely laughter. We make each other laugh SO much, every day, so the relationship rarely feels like work. But that’s just our personality; it’s not the way everyone works. We have friends in successful relationships that are all about shared goals. Or adventurous spirit. Or dedication to family.

I think what makes a relationship work for the long-haul is figuring out what brought you together in the first place and watering the hell out of that seed so that it continues to grow. But at the same time, give each other room to grow and change. And you know what? Be interesting. A significant other that has his/her own thing going on is SEXY.

Keira: What makes a sex scene in a romance? (And I think I know where you might go with this question – banter and anticipation – which Only with You has in spades!)

Lauren: Ha, you caught me! A sex scene without build-up is to me, just a description of body-parts touching other body parts. Snooze. Anticipation is everything. I recently read Screwdrivered by Alice Clayton, in which the hero/heroine don’t even kiss until the last 95% of the book, but it’s one of the hottest books I’ve read all year, because it’s been building the ENTIRE STORY.

I tend to look at structure of movies when I write; romantic comedy screenplays can tell us a lot about pacing. With the exception of Friends With Benefits storylines, rarely do you see the main characters getting it on until at LEAST halfway through. And THE kiss at the end of those movies? It’s everything.

Keira: In what ways would the story have changed if Sophie wore the sensible shoes instead of the boots?

Lauren: You know … GREAT question! I’ve never even thought about it, because those darn boots were in my very earliest conception of the story. I think, likely, Sophie and Gray would have exchanged polite smiles and never seen each other again (well okay, Sophie would have drooled, and Gray wouldn’t have smiled, because he’s Gray). But you get the idea … these characters are SO opposite, they really needed “exceptional circumstances” to bring each other together. Or in this case, exceptional footwear!

Keira: What’s the next Best Mistake?

Lauren: Next up is the story of Sophie’s uptight sister, Brynn. It was a really tricky one to write, because in book 1, she verges on being slightly unlikable. She’s rigid, a little prissy and self-absorbed. But honestly? Brynn’s books is one of my favorites because of these flaws. She’s my most imperfect heroine, and I think that makes her story so real. Made for You (October 28th) is the only book of mine that I’ve gone back and read “just for fun.” I love it that much :)

Layne_Only With You_MM[1]About ONLY WITH YOU

Getting mistaken for a prostitute is not part of Sophie Dalton’s life plan. Not that Sophie even has a life plan. She’s perfectly happy being everyone’s favorite party girl. But then a Las Vegas bachelorette party goes awry, and an uptight businessman gives Sophie a new label: hooker.

Unfortunately, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay there. When the same jerk who mistook her for a prostitute shows up as Sophie’s new boss and her perfect sister’s new boyfriend, Sophie’s carefree existence is turned upside down. Grayson Wyatt may have infiltrated family dinners and her professional world, but Sophie’s not about to let a judgmental prude anywhere near her personal life.

As Gray’s icy stares give way to quiet smiles, Sophie realizes that the one man she’s been so desperate to get away from just might be the one she wants to keep around forever.

Buy: Only with You (The Best Mistake)

Layne_Made for You_MMAbout MADE FOR YOU

Three years ago, Brynn Dalton made a rare error in judgment and had a one-night stand with the one man she swore would never get into her designer panties. Will Thatcher was exactly the type of sexy playboy that good girls like Brynn stayed away from. And when Will moved across the country just days after their fling, Brynn vowed to put him behind her, even as the memories haunt her.

Now Will Thatcher is back, and just in time to see Brynn’s perfectly structured life begin to crumble. Her job is dull, her social life is tedious, and Brynn’s perfect cardiologist boyfriend doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to get to Tiffany & Co. More than ever, Brynn needs her childhood nemesis to keep his distance.

But Will isn’t content to be Brynn’s dirty little secret any longer. This time, he’s out to show Brynn Dalton that the imperfect man might just be the best mistake of her life.

Buy: Made for You (The Best Mistake)

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne writes contemporary romance for Grand Central Publishing (Forever) and Random House(Loveswept).

After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Lauren moved to New York City where she now writes full time.

Lauren graduated from Santa Clara University with B.S. in Political Science that she has yet to put to good use. She lives with her husband and plus-sized pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.

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Review: Blood Torn (Blackthorn, Book 3) by Lindsay J. Pryor

blood tornReviewed by Sharon S.

‘Vampires might bite, honey, but lycans tear.’

Jask Tao, lycan leader, rules his pack with absolute dedication and demands the same loyalty in return. In the world of Blackthorn, where respect is a rare commodity, Jask has earned his – few dare to cross him, and fewer survive to tell the tale.

When he captures Sophia, a rare serryn witch – whose blood is lethal to vampires – Jask knows just how valuable she can be. Despite her fiery nature, he also can’t shake the feelings that she rouses in him – feelings that he thought died along with Ellen, his mate.

Sophia knows she has to escape from Jask’s lycan compound – and fast. Inheriting her sister’s serryn powers can only mean one thing – that her family is at risk. She’ll have to get past the dangerously attractive Jask first but, scarred by memories of her mother’s murder, Sophia won’t ever give up.

Sparks fly between Jask and Sophia but, as both her family and the pack come under threat, they might just need each other if they, and their loved ones, are going to stay alive…

In this thrillingly sensual novel, Lindsay J. Pryor returns to the shadowy dystopian world of Blackthorn, where tensions are rising, the risks are high, and the most powerful loves are formed in the face of great danger.

This is the third book in the sexy action filled series Blackthorn. I am surprised I hadn’t heard of it since it has every thing I love. It is one of those fun series that blends the world building and grittiness of urban fantasy with the sexy love story found in paranormal romances. Even though this is book three I was able to understand and enjoy Jask and Sophia’s love story, but I felt a little lost with the series arc. Only because there were so many other characters involved from the first two books. I will be checking out the other books so I can find out what happened with those couples.

I am pretty hard to impress in the paranormal romance department. I need some meat to my story (heehee, that kind too) and strong over bearing personalities. Blood Torn contained my two favorite romance tropes, forbidden love and enemy to lovers. Jask is a tortured werewolf alpha in the best possible way (swoon). The mythos Pryor created for the werewolves in her world is full of danger and heartbreak. Turning isn’t something they want to do and this fact is being used against them. Sophia is a witch, but still human, and has a destiny forced on her that she didn’t know about. They are both alphas and broken on the inside. I loved watching them one up each other even cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Even though I couldn’t get enough of them, the author went over the top occasionally.

It is the dark world Pryor created that really draws me to the series as a whole. You could even call it a dystopian. Vampires decided to make their presence known to humans 80 years prior and they brought the werewolves with them against their will. The “others” have been segregated into an inner city by a scared human race. How close to the inner city a human lives in dependent on their money and social status. The elite living gated off in the suburbs.

Definitely a series I will be following and one urban fantasy fans and paranormal fans can enjoy.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Blood Torn (Blackthorn)

Review: Lakota Honor by Kat Flannery

Lakota HonorReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This story takes place in the 1880’s.

Nora Rushton is a woman who has a secret that she keeps hidden from others. There’s a creep in town and he’s definitely the villain of this piece – I can picture him having a mustache that he twirls the ends of every day – and his name is Elwood Calhoun. Kat does a great job in creating this character because I really disliked him.

I’m happy to say that if he lived today, our judicial system (I would hope) would throw the book at him. He also has a son named Joe. Joe is what would be considered simple back then and you have to feel sorry for him. But at least Nora likes him.

Otakatay is on his way to Willow Creek. Otakatay has a very a painful past that he can’t forget. If you’re a sensitive person, you may find that Otakatay’s flashbacks will bring a tear to your eyes. There are certain things that just seem to touch your heart and this is one of those stories.

You also have to feel sorry for the life that Nora has but she still makes the most of it. She’s stronger than I probably would be in the same situation. The reader will also be reminded about the worth of money back then. Think of all you have now and then imagine if all that was gone and you had to make due with what was available in that time period – would you be able to cope?

I love how Kat has made this story to be what I feel is historically accurate and wondering as to the amount of research that was involved. It’s shameful but we can’t hide from our past – we can only learn from it. But Kat shows that love is possible even when the odds seem to be against you.

The author gives the reader a perfect ending to a great book and it’s done with no sex. Which goes to show you that sex does not always make for a great book. But it’s the author who makes a great storyteller. And it leaves you wanting to know what she has coming out next.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Lakota Honor

Review: The Best Man (Blue Heron, Book 1) by Kristan Higgins

best manHeroine: Faith Holland was jilted when her fiance’s best friend outs him as gay at the wedding. Ever since, Faith keeps stumbling upon all the wrong men in her quest for love and marriage. The book opens when Faith is on date three with a guy that turns sour fast when his wife shows up and shouts obscenities at her. She has no intentions of returning to her Blue Heron, her hometown, to face her ex, but then her sister calls and tells her about a gold digger who is making plays at their father so she rushes home… only to get pulled over –

Hero: Police Chief Levi Cooper broke up the wedding because he knew it would make Jeremy miserable in the long run and he wanted the best for his friend. He’s never been a fan of Princess Super-Cute (hated this nickname, and Levi never gives her another one) so it wasn’t for her benefit and he couldn’t care less if she forgave him for it. After a disastrous month-long marriage to a woman in the forces, Levi is determined to only date women who will stay and Faith is certainly not that woman.

Review: I liked the friendship between Levi and Jeremy, and I also liked how Faith and Jeremy were able to shift gears into being friends. It seemed important if the three of them were going to live in the same small town. The best scene was Faith stuck in the bathroom window –

“Is there a problem here ma’am?”

“Nope, just taking in the view.”

“Me too. Nice night isn’t it?”

“It is. It’s beautiful.”

“What happened to your shirt?”

“I, um…I had a wardrobe malfunction.”

“I see. […] So, what happened?”

“I flushed my sweater down the toilet.”

“That happens to me all the time.”

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Best Man

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Review: Seduction of a Highland Warrior (The Highland Warriors, Book 3) by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

Seduction of a Highland WarriorReviewed by Zarabeth

It is abundantly clear that this book is written by a woman who loves the Highlands (and Highlanders :P) of old. I loved every time she painted the picture of the landscape, the horizon, or the men in this book.

And her characters are just as well-written. Lady Marjory Mackintosh and Chief Alasdair MacDonald are your quintessential highland characters so I enjoyed them greatly. He is strong, bold, honor-bound, and incredibly stubborn. She is fiery, brave, superstitious, and also incredibly stubborn.

Their love alternates from dripping with passion to crumbling under the weight of their clan enmity. Of course the Mackintoshes and the MacDonalds have been at war longer than anyone can remember but Marjory and her friends have a plan to bring everyone together sealing the King’s Peace Treaty with a marriage pact. I believe this is the 3rd and final book of that trilogy though it easily stands alone. So its up to Marjory to finish things or let everyone down.

It is obvious to all that Alasdair wants and desires the beautiful Marjory, but can she seduce him into marriage despite their clans’ history? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Which I recommend you do!

Marjory’s seduction of Alasdair has some magnificent points of sexual tension where you can almost feel the heat from his body. But a much more serious threat could also keep them apart, or perhaps seal their fates together.
Read Seduction of a Highland Warrior to find out if our ladies win out!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Seduction of a Highland Warrior (The Highland Warriors)

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