Audio Review: Potent Pleasures (Pleasures Trilogy, Book 1) by Eloisa James

potent pleasuresHero: Alexander Foakes, Earl of Sheffield, looks just like his twin, and like his twin, he’s a rakehell. His twin is just more charming. Alex meets a mysterious lady at a Cyprian’s ball, seduces her, takes her virginity (surprise!), and follows her too late to discover who she is… fast forward and now he’s a father and a widower, having married a woman who cheated on him repeatedly. He’s got ISSUES.

Heroine: Lady Charlotte Daicheston allows her friend to badger her into going to an ill-advised and unchaperoned party with a “parson” who gets the two women drunk and tries to make out with the friend. Charlotte spies a handsome stranger and her passion the alcohol overrules her natural inhibitions. She finds out she likes sex, but a lady shouldn’t, and she berates herself for it. She’s got ISSUES.

Review: The cover! Oy! Terrible. The original in paperback isn’t much better (which I realized too late that I owned, although unread).

The heroine’s situation in how she met the hero should be a lesson for all. Please be aware if the person you are with has been incapacitated by alcohol. Don’t assume just because you do not know them that this is normal behavior, not even if you’re at a ball/party/bar. Ask permission. Pay attention.

Now when Alex and Charlotte are behaving like rational people the story is great. I love his persistent courting of her. I love how he tenderly cares for her before and after his proposal. I love when the twin comes back and the rumors start flying. BUT when they’re not behaving well, it’s all kind of wack-a-doodle… and it’s mostly Alex who is the dunderhead. I normally love angst, and big misunderstandings, but Alex crosses a line. For that, this romance shows it’s age.

Narrator: I listened to and rejected a lot of audio books because of Susan Duerden’s narration in the offered sample. Somehow I accidentally chose this book without realizing she also narrated it. I’m happy to say that her sample pieces aren’t the end-all be-all of her voice work and that she was better than my expectations.

[Rating:2.5]

Buy: Potent Pleasures (The Pleasures Trilogy)

Review: Bedding the Wrong Brother (Bedding the Bachelors, Book 1) by Virna DePaul

bedding the wrong brotherSummary: Melina Parker has been dumped again for being the opposite of what a man desires in the bedroom. She doesn’t understand what she’s doing wrong. Enlisting the help of one of her close friends, a trusted playboy with a heart of gold, she plans to get practical hands-on experience to improve her future performances. Little does she know that Max Dalton plans to substitute his twin brother Rhys for the sexual teaching/awakening.

Review: Max got in the way of Melina and Rhys when they were in high school and has felt bad ever since. Rhys hasn’t ever really moved on, so when Max is propositioned by Melina to turn her into a sex diva he jumps on board in hopes of making amends. It’s little work to convince Melina to drop the spectacles and push his brother into the hotel room. Once the door is shut the rest is on them. This story starts off very sexy but derails a bit as the story progresses. I found future scenes between the two lacking that initial heat and passion. A lot of time is devoted to unraveling the threads of the past, getting over hurt feelings, and then figuring out if the relationship is worth it. (Max and Rhys are traveling magicians; Melina wants 2.5 kids and a white picket fence.)

[Rating:2.5]

Buy: Bedding The Wrong Brother (Bedding the Bachelors, Book 1)

Review: The Lady in Question (Effingtons, Book 7) by Victoria Alexander

lady in questionHeroine: Lady Philadelphia (Delia) Wilmont is the identical twin sister of Cassandra Effington. Delia is considered the sensible sister while Cassie is the reckless sister. So it comes as a complete shock to everyone when it is Delia who invokes a scandal by running off and marrying a rake. Before society can get over the scandal, her husband dies and makes her an infamous widow. When she finally returns to society, it is not as herself, but as her sister. For one glorious evening she is in the arms of the handsome Viscount St. Stephens. He seems wonderfully familiar, but she’s not sure why.

Hero: Viscount Anthony St. Stephens is an agent for the crown and has for the past little while been serving as Lady Wilmont’s butler… in disguise, of course. Delia could be in danger because of the actions of her late husband (who also happens to have been a good friend). Anthony is also in her house in order to discover clues as to why Lord Wilmont behaved as he did. Why did Wilmont marry Delia when the job only called for flirtation? All too soon the viscount understands and wants to marry the lovely widow himself…

Review: Loved the trumped up angst. Delia is afraid to reveal she’s the scandalous sister to Anthony, but Anthony knows because he’s the butler of her household. He’s at first in a position where he can’t tell her who he is without compromising the mission and then later can’t tell her without ruining their relationship.

I liked Anthony’s time as Gordon, the elderly butler. He and Delia were able to become friends through his actions. He gained her trust (for a little while) and at times was avuncular in his role trying to assist her in her daily decisions. They have very few walls between them as Gordon and Delia. This worked for me because we, as the reader’s knew Anthony was far from avuncular in his true regard for Delia and Delia was blissfully unaware of the whole quagmire until it is revealed.

The one glaring error I felt came when Anthony so easily trusted Delia’s uncle, the duke. As a spy there must have been some way to confirm the man’s position and loyalties. This whole “trust me because I say I am who I am” didn’t work for me. It especially didn’t work because Delia’s uncle was the whole reason behind Wilmont’s mission to woo Delia in the first place. Get close to the Effingtons and discover if they are loyal or not to the crown.

It’s a sweet romance with a lot of great moments.

[Rating:4]

Buy: The Lady in Question (Effington Family)

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Ten Reasons to Date Your Ex’s Brother

Unwrap Me1Guest Blog by Samantha Spencer and Carolina Jordan

We know. The above title might seem a bit strange—what with the whole bro-code, surely dating your ex’s brother is taboo, right? Especially a twin brother, such as in our sassy holiday romance, Unwrap Me. But see, we think there are a few reasons when this code should be ignored—when you should embrace what you really want, societal rules be damned. And here’s our handy-dandy top ten list of reasons why we think it’s okay for you to shuck those rules…and we’d love to read your ideas in the comments!

  1. Hey, you’ve already done the whole, “meet the parents” thing, so that’s one less nerve-wrecking experience you have to go through. Win!
  2. If the brother happens to be a twin brother like Brody/Blake, you’re clearly digging the whole gene pool already. Just because one of them is a jerk, it doesn’t mean the other is too.
  3. In fact, you’ve seen how well he treated his previous girlfriends. And now, you want your own knight in black leather
  4. Speaking of exes, you’ve heard from them all about his sexy and highly creative use for Nutella, and you’re dying to experience that for yourself
  5. Remember those old double-mint gum commercials? Sometimes double the trouble is really just double the fun.
  6. You’re thinking of the family—their parents won’t have to cut you out of any precious family photos. By keeping it in the family, you’re doing everyone a favor, really.
  7. While you were with the wrong brother, you got to know the right one. You formed a friendship and shared inside jokes. He supported you when your own boyfriend didn’t. And you couldn’t help wondering how different it would be if you were with him.
  8. When times were better, you probably imagined your first name attached to his anyway…what woman doesn’t? So why should you give up the last name you’ve grown to love? Now you can keep on envisioning it as your own one day.
  9. Because if you were to be really honest, you secretly wished it was he who had asked you out to begin with
  10. And the number one reason you should date your ex’s brother …drum roll please….Because clearly, he’s the better brother.

And here’s an excerpt from a scene in a karaoke bar in Unwrap Me to show you that Brody would agree with and whole-heartedly approve our list:

“But you know the song All I Want For Christmas?”

Brody nodded, confused. He knew it, but he was pretty sure only a chick sang it.

Reading his face, Peyton explained. “Last year, Mariah Carey redid it as a duet with Justin Bieber.”

The horror of the situation crept over him. “You’re making me Justin Bieber?”

“Hey, the boy can sing,” she said, defending the pop idol. “And he happens to be plastered on every teenage girl’s room in America.”

“Because that’s my fantasy, to be the star of every love-struck girl’s daydreams.” Brody rolled his eyes, but couldn’t help smiling. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had this much fun just hanging out with a girl. But Peyton wasn’t just any girl. He looked across the table and held her gaze. Lowering his voice, he said, “But I wouldn’t mind starring in a few of yours.”

Okay, the line was cheesy; he knew it. He wasn’t Blake, full of shitty canned lines that were as heartfelt and genuine as a Hallmark card. Brody always shot it straight, and when it came to women, he never worried about the whole pick-up line thing. If he liked someone, he told them. If he wanted them, he went after them. The only reason he didn’t go after this woman years ago was out of respect, however undeserved, for his brother. Actually, it was more like man code than respect. But now, all bets were off.

Because Brody had never wanted anyone as much as he wanted Peyton.

Unwrap Me by Samantha Spencer and Carolina Jordan

Sometimes double trouble is anything but…

Out of sight is truly out of mind. At least that’s what Peyton Wagner hoped when she accepted a teaching assistant job out of town, and away from her abusive ex, Blake Hunter. But as Peyton soon discovers, her new job comes with unexpected and deliciously tempting surprises. When her past and present collide in a shocking yuletide twist, Peyton has to choose between playing it safe, or risking it all for the chance at a new future with Blake’s brother Brody, and the gift of true love.

About the Authors: Samantha Spencer grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland, loving to read anything magical. Now living in Ontario, she’ll forever be a dreamer, a believer in the happily ever after of it all, dizzying romances, and swoony guys. Oh, and kissing–lots and lots of kissing.

Carolina Jordan grew up in New Orleans, where she watched soap operas with her grandmother and stayed up late sneak reading her mama’s favorite romance novels. Now an adult, she’s still addicted to romance, staying up late reading and rereading her favorite romances, only now she is able to do so openly.

They also both love writing middle grade and young adult fiction under the names Shannon Duffy and Rachel Harris.

Of Triangles and Twins

Waltz with a StrangerGuest Blog by Pamela Sherwood, author of Waltz with a Stranger

Hello to everyone on Love Romance Passion–thank you for having me visit today!

My hosts have asked me to talk about twins in romance, and to address the question of whether it’s looks or character that win the heart. My instinctive response is to assert that character always carries the day–but looks can certainly attract attention. Not just good looks, either, but any appearance that’s out of the ordinary. And when two people resemble each other as closely as Aurelia and Amy Newbold, the twin heroines of Waltz with a Stranger, looks can be a source of great confusion as well.

My first exposure to twins in fiction was a junior novelization of The Parent Trap that I found in my fourth-grade class library. On mentioning it to my mother, a teacher and former children’s librarian, I was promptly directed to the book that inspired the film, Erich Kästner’s Lisa and Lottie, which I found richer and much more satisfying. (Yes, that’s a recommendation.)

As I read on through the years, I encountered still more pairs of twins. The double duos of Antipholus and Dromio, who cause such pandemonium in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. Alexandre Dumas’s Corsican brothers, formerly conjoined twins who literally feel each other’s pain. Harry Potter’s Fred and George Weasley, and Padma and Parvati Patil. And in the romance genre, Georgette Heyer’s Evelyn and Christopher Fancot in False Colours. Mary Jo Putney’s Kit and Kira Travers in Dancing on the Wind, and later Kyle and Dominic Renborne in The Wild Child.

I continue to find identical twins fascinating: two siblings–mirror images–who could be best friends or bitter foes, staunch allies or fierce rivals. And sometimes all of the above! But twins are also individuals, who can differ in tastes and temperament. The tendency in fiction is to polarize them–the good twin and the bad twin, the shy twin and the bold twin.  But the dichotomy between twins is seldom that simple. The shy twin may have unexpected reserves of courage and strength, while the bold twin may be more vulnerable and insecure than anyone suspects.

A triangle involving twins lies at the heart of Waltz with a Stranger–which is fitting because a poem about such a triangle was one of its main influences. Tennyson’s “The Sisters” tells the story of a man who inadvertently courts identical twins, with tragic results. Significantly, there is no villain in that triangle: only three well-intentioned young people muddling through a complicated situation and, sadly, getting it wrong. My goal was to take a similar situation, create a triangle in which all the parties were fully realized sympathetic characters, and make it come out right–for everyone.

Aurelia, the primary heroine, may be the most sympathetic of the trio: the quieter, more thoughtful sister who strives to reclaim the person she was before a riding accident left her scarred in body and soul. Her sense of self is on shaky ground, partly because she is no longer the mirror image of her twin, a circumstance that has defined her until now. Even after she regains some of her confidence, she must contend with more heartache on discovering that the man of her dreams–who won her heart when they shared a secret waltz in the conservatory–is now engaged to her twin.

Amy, Aurelia’s twin, may be the “other woman,” but she’s no villainess. More outgoing and confident than Aurelia, she is also the practical one, who leads with her head rather than her heart. Her poise and assurance, however, hide a vulnerable core. Too often stung by social snubs in the past, Amy is determined to make a brilliant marriage, not just for her own benefit, but for her family’s–especially Aurelia. While not in love with James, Amy likes and respects him, and intends to be a loyal wife and a perfect countess once they’re married.

Meanwhile, James–the hero–is caught between love and honor, and his genuine feelings for both women. Amy’s vivacity charms him, while Aurelia rouses his tender, protective side. But after he inherits an earldom and all its attendant responsibilities, it is assertive, ambitious Amy who seems the clear choice for his countess, rather than her sister, “fragile as a glass butterfly.” James is unprepared for the revitalized Aurelia who returns to London ready to take on the world–and equally unprepared for the desire she stirs in him. Only by gaining a deeper understanding of both women’s characters–and of his own heart–can he resolve the conflict that threatens to destroy all their happiness.

So, do you have any favorite romances in which twins play a major role? Or that contained well-constructed triangles that made you sympathize with all three parties?

Buy: Waltz with a Stranger

GIVEAWAY: 1 print copy of Waltz with a Stranger up for grabs. Open to US and CAN. Enter by telling us about your favorite twin romance!