Review: A Passion for Pleasure (Daring Hearts, Book 2) by Nina Rowan

passion for pleasureHero: Sebastian Hall, former rake and musician, is a second son with two options available to him regarding his future. The first has been decreed by his father and the second is a favor for his brother. Since Sebastian refuses to marry and become a patent office clerk, he is now in pursuit of a mechanical device that could help in the war.

Heroine: Clara Whitmore was a former student of Sebastian’s and would have loved a flirtation with the man. Now, she is a widow desperately wishing to be reunited with her son. Sebastian just might be the answer to her prayers. She will give him the papers on the device if he will marry her.

Review: I figured out early on in the story why Clara’s father refused to give her access to her son and he wasn’t very kind to his grandson (huge understatement). Both father figures of the main characters were cold, and Seb’s mother was unnecessary. I loved the musical references and the dialogue between Clara and Seb. My favorite scenes include Clara’s proposal to Sebastian and the piano lessons Sebastian gave Andrew.

[Rating:3]

Buy: A Passion for Pleasure (A Daring Hearts Novel)

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Review: Never Seduce a Scot (The Montgomerys & Armstrongs, Book 1) by Maya Banks

20121209-092710.jpgReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Graeme Montgomery is to marry a woman per his king’s decree. Eveline Armstrong can tell her father Tavis is very upset. She’s speechless. When Graeme comes to wed Eveline, I would have loved to have been present. I can almost imagine the pageantry.

I love how Maya gives us a character that has a disability. Growing up and watching historical pieces, people that were “different” were shunned. But Maya shows that they aren’t pariah but someone who can be accepted. They have feelings just like everyone else.

Eveline shows that having a disability should not stop you from doing anything. If you set your mind to something you can accomplish anything – let your disability be a part of you but not define who you are.

Maya shows her readers that women weren’t usually taught to read and write during that time period. And any teaching to be done was done by a priest. But Maya also reminds us that not all priests were old. It will be interesting to see if we will see this priest in other stories.

Maya’s sex scenes are very descriptive. They are not done in a raunchy way but are very sensual. The characters give us hope that opposites can attract. Lovers can come together and have that HEA. The families may have history but that shouldn’t stop them from having any type of life together. When love is involved, anything is possible.

I’m glad to see that Eveline’s disability wasn’t cured miraculously. I would have been very disappointed with Maya if she had done that. In year’s past in romance novels, it seemed that everyone was always so perfect. It’s nice to see that is finally changing. If you read the “Acknowledgements” at the end, you will understand her inspiration – a very touching tribute.

I went to Maya’s web site, http://www.mayabanks.com/, and noticed that she has a book two that will be coming out. Bowen, Graeme’s brother, will have his tale told in Highlander Most Wanted. The book is expected to come out on February 26, 2013 and I can’t wait. I hope you enjoy this first book as much as I did.

[Rating:4.5]

Buy: Never Seduce a Scot: The Montgomerys and Armstrongs

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My Favorite Tropes: Physical Disabilities

Guest Post by Carla F.

I love stories in which the hero or heroine have a physical disability (blindness, deafness, unable to walk, etc.). The H/H has an additional barrier (a large one) to reaching their one true love. Sometimes he/she will use their impairment as shield to keep the love of their life away because they don’t feel worthy enough to be loved. Thank goodness that doesn’t work! These types of stories reinforce the belief that love conquerors all and the feeling that you will be loved no matter what your flaws are.

My weakness for some reason is those H/Hs who are deaf. So sorry that this list is a little bit heavy with that type of disability.

A Hearing Heart by Bonnie Dee (Western) – If you don’t grab a box of tissues when reading this, then you are tougher than I am. In 1901 Nebraska schoolteacher, Catherine Johnson, saves deaf stable hand Jim Kinney from being beat up and drug down the street by villains. Once she realizes that he cannot read and write, she offers to help him with his education.

The Bargain by Mary Jo Putney (Regency) – I would have put this one on my Marriage of Convenience list if I could have remembered the name of it. Fortunately, I found it for this list. Lady Jocelyn Kendal wants to keep control of her inheritance so she makes a bargain with Major David Lancaster, who is dying from the wounds he received at Waterloo. Marry her, and she will see that David’s governess sister is provided for once he has passed away.

Look What Santa Brought by Annmarie McKenna (Contemporary) – Her ex-boyfriend will not move out of her apartment and leave Tara Patrick alone. Her best friend’s blind brother, Scott Wyatt volunteers to be her “pretend” boyfriend, but he wants it to be for real.

Moon Craving by Lucy Monroe (Historical Paranormal) – It has a shape-shifter hero and a deaf heroine. Naturally, I loved it. Abigail has been deaf ever since falling ill when she was a child. She has hidden her shameful “affliction” from everyone in the castle except her immediate family. She is then forced to marry Talorc, Laird of the Sinclair, and knows that if he finds out that she is deaf he will cast her aside.

Dancing in the Moonlight by RaeAnne Thayne (Contemporary) – After losing part of her leg in the Afghanistan war, Lieutenant Magdalena Cruz returns home, and wishes that everyone would leave her alone. Dr. Jake Dalton has always been in love with Magdalena and has no intention of granting her wish.

Artistic Appeal by Andrew Grey (Contemporary GLBT) – Divorced and still partial in the closet, lawyer Brian Watson, falls for deaf art restorer, Nicolai Romanov.

Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas (Regency) – Gypsy Kevin Merripen has loved Winnifred Hathaway ever since the Hathaway family took him in when he was a child. Kev has never felt that he was good enough for Win and resists her temptation. When Win comes down with scarlet fever Kev nurses Win back to health, but the illness leaves her weak. She decides to travel to another country for treatment. When she returns, she brings with her a suitor.

Three Nights with a Scoundrel by Tessa Dare (Regency) – Susan S. mentioned this one in her Reformed Rakes list. Deaf heroine, Lily Chatwick’s brother Leo is killed in a London alley. Family friend, Julian Bellamy wants to find the killers, and he wants to find Lily someone to marry so that she will be taken care of. Lily is only interested in Julian, but he doesn’t think he is worthy to marry Lily because of his secret past.

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen (Regency) – Injured when a villain tries to strangle her to death, Olivia loses her voice. Lord Bradley knows that Olivia overheard a secret that could ruin his life. He gives her a post at his home so that he can keep an eye on her. When she recovers her voice will she reveal his secret?

Special Mention: GLBT/Mystery author Josh Lanyon has many heroes who dealing with some kind of physical disability. He is definitely a go-to-author for those who like GLBT and this trope. Plus the stories are also excellent police procedures/who-done-its. Some of his books are:

The Adrien English Mysteries (Contemporary) – Ariden contracted rheumatic fever as a child and has damage to his heart. The series follows the bookstore owner/mystery writer as he solves murders with the help of his sometimes romantic interest, closeted LA police detective Jake Riordan. Books in the series are:

Fair Game (Contemporary) – Elliot Mills was an FBI agent involved in a shootout that left him with a crippling knee injury. Now a college professor, his father has asked him to look into the disappearance of a friend’s son. This means that Elliot will have to work with Agent Tucker Lane who is his ex-lover.

Don’t Look Back (Contemporary) – Peter Killian is injured when he interrupts a burglary at the museum where he is curator. He wakes up in the hospital with amnesia and is being accused of being the thief by Detective Mike Griffin.

The Dark Farewell (Historical) – In post-WWI America Spiritualist medium Julian Devereux suffers from epilepsy. Newspaperman David Flynn doesn’t believe that Julian can see dead people, but then Julian starts getting messages from victims of a serial killer.

No matter how much I love this trope. There are still some books that just don’t grab me. Two of them are:

Life, Over Easy by K. A. Mitchell (Contemporary GLBT/Paranormal) – An accident ends the diving career of John Andrews, and now he suffers from vertigo and double vision. I love K. A. Mitchell’s books in general. This one started out interesting, but then took a turn with ghosts/paranormal that I wasn’t expecting or welcomed.

Dark Symphony by Christine Feehan (Paranormal) – Antonietta is a blind musician whose family is in danger. This is one of Feehan’s Carpathian books. I was looking forward to Brian’s story since he appeared in Dark Desire, which is my favorite of Feehan’s books. I think though that I had reached saturation with the series, and it was too weird for me.

Do you like these kinds of stories? Can you recommend some?

Photo Credits: sludgegulper

Review: Three Nights with a Scoundrel by Tessa Dare

Three Nights with a Scoundrel is the final installment in the Stud Club trilogy by Tessa Dare. Of the three men making up this exclusive and revolutionary club, I was uncertain if Julian Bellamy had what it took to be a hero because his character was fairly off-putting in the first two books. He had his vengeance mission going for him and he certainly cared about the girl but there didn’t seem to be much else to him. Was I ever wrong. Julian Bellamy has a whole other very secret side and we as readers get to learn all about it.

The vengeance mission is finally concluded in Three Nights with a Scoundrel. I fully recommend reading the first two novels in the trilogy if you’re the type who wants to get the full long arc of the vengeance mission. To recap what it is: Leo Chatwick, founder of the Stud Club, was found murdered. Four people witnessed it: the two brutes that beat him up, his companion who he was arguing with just before the brutes showed up, and the whore he’d paid to accompany him for the evening festivities. Of the three heroes, Julian is the most consumed with finding Leo’s killers and it’s been a long and twisting route to get to the final chapters.

He’s also been promoting that Lady Lily Chatwick needs to be married. He tried to get the heroes from the first two novels to do it, but they fell for their own heroines. He tried twisting the arms of other gentry. In the end he had to face the fact that he loved her and wanted her for himself – which is why his efforts never worked, because he was sabotaging them from the start by picking men he knew in the end would not ask for her hand or that she wouldn’t accept even if they had. That’s because she’s subconsciously wanted Julian all this time and only after a mind-blowing kiss does she let herself dream it might be possible.

Lily was a very big reason why I liked the book so much. She’s lost her hearing due to an illness and has learned to cope. In the book she makes even bigger efforts to break out of her comfort zone and attends social gatherings for the first time on her own without her brother there to subtly help her keep track of conversations and people. She’s very brave and very genuine of heart. Tessa Dare doesn’t undermine her efforts by miraculously healing her of hearing-loss (something that happens a lot with damaged characters especially with hearing and blindness).

Loved the pet bird too.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Buy: Three Nights with a Scoundrel

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Review: The Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale

The Prince of Midnight was recommended to me by Anime June while guest blogging about My (Not-So-Secret) Favorite Romance Character Types because the hero was damaged and delicious.

I believe this romance also fulfills my lust of big age differences. I can’t remember how old the heroine was (17 maybe?) but the hero’s retired at 33, painting and sculpting in an old castle in France with Nemo a tamed wolf for company by the time Leigh Strachen tracks him down to help her avenge her family’s brutal destruction and murder.

Sophocles Trafalgar (poor guy, luckily he goes by the initials S.T. most of the time) Maitland is a partially deaf ex-highwayman who couldn’t walk a straight line if his life depended on it. When caught in an explosion he lost not only part of his hearing but also his balance. He’s prone to headaches, dizziness, and nausea.

S.T. is a completely charming, dashing, tripping all over himself hunk of a hero. He’s the romantic in the relationship as the heroine is an emotionally walled-off ice princess. With Leigh constantly sneering at him, holding him in contempt, mocking his efforts, and telling him he’s useless I’m surprised S.T. stuck with her, but he does because he knows she’s been hurt and needs a champion.

In fact the more she puts him down and humiliates him the more S.T. is determined he is to go with her, protect her, and prove her wrong. He wants to be her hero and against all odds he manages to steal her ice cold heart and warm it with his own.

There’s some religious cultism in the novel, which one should be aware of before starting. The bad guy, the Right Reverend James Chilton, sets himself up as some great religious man with a direct line to God. He has convinced through trickery, showmanship, and charisma the rest of the town—which consists mostly of TSTL females and a dozen or so men—to follow him and do all that he says. It reminds me Jonestown Massacre where everybody was following Jim Jones blindly and drinking the Kool-Aid. Lucky for Chilton’s followers, the Prince of Midnight was there to protect them from their own stupidity.

The Prince of Midnight is an emotionally intense read as both the hero and heroine have transformations. I almost cried reading S.T.’s pleading to not pour acid in his remaining good ear. When Leigh found out and beat the crap out of the Dove of Peace for following this order I cheered her on… it was so sad thinking that Leigh finally admit to herself and to S.T. that she loved him only for him not to be able to hear the words.

Another intense scene which comes earlier in the novel is his taming two badly mistreated horses. He does it once on his own and then instructs Leigh on how to do it with the more hurt of the horses. When the abused horse begins to trust her, she cracks and falls to pieces realizing she loves the horse… and possibly though she won’t admit it yet, S.T. too.

It’s too good to miss. Thanks AJ!

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Buy: The Prince of Midnight

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