Review: The Laird’s Choice (Lairds of the Loch, Book 1) by Amanda Scott

The Laird’s ChoiceHero: Magnus Galbraith escapes captivity after putting together the plot to assassinate King James at the hands his captor’s allies. He will warn the king, claim his freedom, thumb his nose at his father and avenge his brother in the process. He doesn’t expect the laird whose land he washed up on to offer his eldest daughter in marriage. Though to be fair, she did warn him.

Heroine: Lady Andrena MacFarlan has great empathy and can sense the true thoughts of man and animals. She intrinsically knows when something is wrong on her father’s lands and feels it when there are intruders. She finds a wounded man, without an inheritance to call his own that is willing to defy an enemy of her father. She knows she will be asked to wed him and Dree finds she is not unwilling.

Review: The romance is nice and slow. It’s a romance that simmers. The hero and heroine go from perfect strangers to wedded couple and develop from there. The paranormal elements are a little vague for me, but if you can ignore it or roll with it, they become part of the story. Author is very good at conveying the historical setting. You know there was lots of research! I liked the glossary at the beginning. That helped!

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Laird’s Choice (The Lairds of the Loch)

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Review: Siren’s Call by Devyn Quinn

by Susan S., guest reviewer

A mystical tale of magick-wielding Mers, a lost civilization, and an evil queen hell-bent on destruction; escapism at its finest!

Siren’s Call is the first installment from Ms. Quinn’s Dark Tides Series.

Off the coast of Maine on Little Mer Island, there’s a mermaid named Tessa Lonike, heroine. Tessa has learned to guard her heart from all men. Humans are not to be trusted! Take Jake Massey for example, he cheated on her the night before their marriage. Yes, humans, especially the male kind can’t be taken at their word.

One night, during an awful storm Tessa spots someone in the distance. As a search and rescue diver she saves his life, hero Kenneth Randall. Now almost a year’s gone by, and Tessa’s about to experience a storm of her own. Kenneth’s back seeking answers. Like, who is the siren haunting his dreams, and who really rescued him that dreadful day at sea? Kenneth isn’t the only one who’s back. Her rat bastard, ex-fiancé has also returned; claiming he has clues to her Mer heritage. Jake believes he can find a lost civilization buried deep in the Mediterranean Sea, the city of Ishaldi.

One man will betray her. Another will risk everything to have her. And when they find Ishaldi, they’ll soon realize-some secrets are best left…at the bottom of the ocean!

Recommendations:

Take a dive if you normally scout the bookstore searching for: paranormals, romances, urban fantasy, books with magick, lore, mermaids, or strong heroines, and the men who love them.

Please keep swimming if you’re searching for a sugary-sweet, singing mermaid.

What/who I loved: I loved hating Jake. Really! There’s just so much to despise. He’s arrogant, self-serving, and downright ruthless. And I enjoyed every minute of him!

Favorite scenes:

There are two actually. First, there’s the apricot brandy scene. Let me say this, the way Kenneth drinks it will turn a woman’s legs to Jell-O. Hawt! Then, there’s the part where Tessa unleashes her power in one wrathful moment…wicked!

If you haven’t read Devyn Quinn before, let me say this, “Her descriptions are vivid.” You’ll also enjoy the malevolent characters as much as her likeable ones. I certainly do!

I was so entertained with the sisterly bickering, that I would’ve been content just reading about Tessa, Gwen, and Addison bickering for 300 plus pages.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Buy: Siren’s Call: A Dark Tides Novel

Signet Eclipse, Paranormal Romance, Aug. 3, 2010, Mass Market Paperback, Print Pages 375,
ISBN# 978-0-451-23093-5, ISBN-10# 0-451-23093-0.

PS If after reading Siren’s Call you’re still thirsting for more, book two Siren’s Surrender is set to release in Feb. 2011. Promising more seductive Mers, and one hunky special FBI agent named Blake Whittaker. The second installment will bring us Gwen Lonike’s story, the middle of the three Mer sisters. Will you surrender to the sirens?

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Review: Dead Again by Tracy Cooper-Posey

by Susan S., guest reviewer

Dead Again is a high adrenaline read. Get ready to run because when the line between right and wrong blurs-you won’t know who to trust.

Recommendations: This is an action-packed read that doesn’t quit. It reminds me of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, of which I’m a big fan of. It will also appeal to readers who generally buy Harlequin Intrigue and Silhouette Romantic Suspense. If you enjoy watching action-packed movies, or more specifically, if you liked Absolute Power with Clint Eastwood then this novel’s for you.

She heard the words, they gave her the news, he was dead. The tall, dark-haired, kind man with a strong spirit. The one who’d helped her survive five days in the Northern Colorado Mountains after the plane crash. Jack Laubreaux, hero, who provided her with food, with hope. Attending her needs, caring for her broken femur, and all the while disregarding his own injuries, and now he’s gone.

Sophie Rosemary Kingston, heroine, has tried to be strong and independent. To forget him, but like a boomerang the memories never fail to return. Almost a decade has gone by. She’s now a single mother of two, with one failed marriage under her belt, and a café to call her own. Life in Montana’s not going to get better; it just is. Well…Sophie has just undergone a severe shock to her system. She’s just seen a vagrant with an uncanny resemblance to Jack, but his name is Martin Stride.

Her meeting with Martin, is about to propel her into a world where those in power corrupt it, and those who uncover it; die. Someone dubbed the Silent Knight is protecting the Irish mafia leader. When all’s said and done, will Sophie and Martin live to tell the tale?

What I loved: This was a fun read for me, since romantic suspense is one of my favorite sub-genres. The announcements at the end were a nice touch; an update of the key players. I also burst out laughing when I read what the hero studied in the University of Chicago. You’ll laugh too! Especially, if you’re following along with the story.

My favorite scene: This scene made my breath hitch. (Sophie walks into a bar, no, that’s not an intro to a joke.) She follows Martin in, unbeknownst to him, of course. Then there’s a moment when their gazes meet in the mirrored wall behind the bar; the scene was nicely written.

What I would’ve changed: I would’ve wanted a different end for the antagonist.

Dead Again was first published as Silent Knight in Nov. 2004, under a different publisher. Now being published as Dead Again by Cerridwen Press, releasing in April 2010. It’s currently unavailable in print, available as an eARC only at this time.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Buy: Dead Again

eARC, Cerridwen Press, Romantic Suspense, 199 Pages. ISBN# 978 141 992 1483.

Review: Too Wicked To Kiss by Erica Ridley

by Susan S., Guest Reviewer

“Huzzah” for this Kensington Zebra debut author! Erica Ridley’s Too Wicked To Kiss is a titillating whodunit set in a London castle. There’s unlit corridors, secret passageways, stolen kisses, and a hero in cravats and breeches, “Oh my!” I may not wield powers of clairvoyance like (Evangeline) Ridley’s heroine, but I’m predicting this author will receive many calling cards from readers.

Are you going to like this historical romance? Ooo…yeah! I received the eARC for review and pre-ordered the paperback from B&N. I simply must procure the paperback for my bookshelf! Just picture me for a second, walking on hot coals repeating, “Hot, hot, hot, hot!”

Evangeline Pemberton is no stranger to heartache. Her mother has recently passed, and she’s just ran-away from her physically abusive stepfather (Neal) who aside from hitting her also entertains lascivious thoughts regarding his stepdaughter. Evangeline’s clairvoyant gift has caused her to shun both friends and the touch of others. Any touch brings about visions either past or yet-to-be along with one hellacious headache. Alone and out of options, she turns to Lady Stanton and her daughter Miss Susan Stanton. They offer to take her to Blackberry Manor in London with “one” simple stipulation; entrap Gavin Lioncroft (hero) into a betrothal contract with Susan. Evangeline’s not sure which of these three options terrifies her more: (1) deceiving an innocent bachelor into marriage with a total stranger (2) the fact that Gavin is a presumed murderer and they’re to stay in his manor for two weeks or (3) that Neal will find her.

When a murder is committed in Blackberry Manor everyone’s suspect, with at least 15 suspects and three with a motive to kill, this whodunit will leave you second-guessing the guilty party until the very end.

Evangeline finds her upcoming deception harder and harder to accomplish. Gavin is stirring passions within her both new and wonderful. Will she entrap Gavin for Susan? Or will Evangeline keep this “sinfully handsome” man for herself?

My favorite character was the hero, Gavin. What’s not to love? He’s a wickedly handsome tease. He protects those he loves; he’s passionate and goes after what he wants. Not to mention, here’s a man who knows how to apologize.

My favorite scene: In the dining room Gavin’s gaze slides down Evangeline’s body and retraces the path back up. He stares boldly and lifts an eyebrow to let her know, he likes what he sees. When she does the same to him and looks up at his face, he winks.

Too Wicked To Kiss is funny, sensual, entertaining and has a happily-ever-after. A must read!

Recommendations: If you like romances, this novel is a must read. I’m also recommending it to readers who like Sherlock Holmes, whodunits, Nancy Drew, mystery, romantic suspense, hot reads, Regency, historical and happily ever afters.

The sequel to Too Wicked To Kiss is set to release in the spring of 2011. Too Sinful To Deny is the story of a gossip-hungry heroine Miss Susan Stanton. Susan is Evangeline’s friend in book one. Something tells me there are lots of changes to come for Miss Stanton and some of which include…pirates!

Rating: 5 Stars

Buy: Too Wicked To Kiss

Zebra Books, An Imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp., Historical Romance, Regency, Paranormal, eARC, Copyright March 2, 2010, pages 451. ISBN (10) 142 010 9936. ISBN (13) 978-1420109931.

Review: Caressed By Moonlight by Amanda J. Greene

by Sharon S., guest reviewer

Let me cut to the chase…SMACK! Did you hear that? That is the sound of Amanda J. Greene knocking it out of the freaking PNR park!

If you like PNR, Regency-lite (I’ll explain this later), intelligent heroines, smexy vampire alpha-males, marriages of convenience, fated love, lots of non-repetitive steamy (not crude) sex scenes and a new vampire mythos then you need to stop right now, and go buy this book (unbelievably only $3 on the kindle) and start reading. (Shoo!)

BUT, if you care to hear me gush about more specific things in the book than keep reading….

I have only read one other Regency book so I am talking out my ass here, but I get the feeling Regencies can be really accurate historically or they can be the other end where the story is set in the 1800s and that is about it. This book I would call Regency-lite. It doesn’t dwell on all those “regency” details, but sticks to the main ideas of the era. I like Regency-lite!

This book is like two different book put together with a little something in the middle. Strange, but it works.

First part of book: we meet Victoria. I love her. She is a smart, but down on her luck woman, who finds herself in the impossible situation of having to find a husband, quick. You know how sometimes a romance heroine hee-haws over her plight and there is all this angst and you just want to slap her upside the head? Victoria isn’t that heroine <G>! She has her little pity party moments, but then she figures out how to fix it, and does!

Dorain Vhlokos is everything I look for in a vampire hero. Smart, sexy, extremely loyal and one of the good guys, but he has a tormented past and a very dark beastly side (his vampire nature) He agrees to the marriage of convenience because he wants to bed Victoria and figures he can help her at the same time (see, good guy ;))

Any way they both realize they are attracted to each other, but neither wants to admit it is anything but a sexual attraction. She doesn’t even know he is a vampire. This part of the book is very romancy and light. I was smiling through this part.

The second part takes place on a ship: (now it might be a little spoilery here depending on what you consider a spoiler, but I am gonna try real hard not to) Here the story starts to take a turn towards the dark. We meet Dorian’s friend Falcon (swoon here, too). The author starts to give us lots of information about the world she has created (done in an expertly manner I might add). We learn more about Dorian’s background. Victoria learns he is a vampire. Love their scenes!!! This is where the fated love theme comes in :)

The last part takes place in Dorian’s homelands: This is where the story is dark. There is betrayal, killing, action and all that good stuff I love about my favorite genre- Urban Fantasy. We get all the needed information about the Rulers of Darkness world and learn more about the characters we are sure to see in the following books of this series. There is a HEA for our couple and we get a teaser about whom the next book will feature (can’t tell you that <G>) and I can’t wait.

I love the names of the characters: Dorian, Falcon, Raphael, Jacque, Victoria, Sonja, Kal, Ven, Dimitri

Here are some of my favorite passages from the book:

Dorian speaking to Victoria:

“I do wish you luck. The sooner you become tired of your marriage bed the sooner you will come to mine.”

Dorian (consumed by his vampire beast) to Victoria

“Then why do you insist on helping me?”

“Because I care for you,” she confessed. “And because it pains me to see you like this, suffering when there is no need.”

“No need?” he laughed. “I could kill you if I took your blood.”

Victoria shrugged. “You could, but I know you wouldn’t”

He took a threatening step toward her. “How can you be so sure? He challenged.

“The man I married would never allow it.”

“If you hadn’t noticed,” he advanced again, “he is not here.”

Her heart was slowing rapidly. He kissed her temple as a tear slipped down his cheek. “I love you.” The words were torn from his heart; his despair was so great that he had not noticed he had spoken them in his native tongue. A language he had not spoken for thousands of years. He wanted to roar his anger, his agony to the heavens, but he did not have the strength, his throat was tight as he continued to chant in ancient Greek ‘I love you’ over and over again.

One long finger dipped into her as his mouth came to mate with hers.

The Ruler’s of Darkness Series:

Rating: ★★★★★ Freaking Stars!

Buy: Caressed by Moonlight (Rulers of Darkness)

Review: Crimson Rapture by Jennifer Horsman

I first heard about Crimson Rapture from a HaBo post over at Smart Bitches: Trashy Books. I can’t remember now if this book was the actual book or just one of the suggestions, but I guess it hardly matters. It sounded cool and I got it immediately from Paperback Swap.

It was originally published in 1986 and definitely has forced seduction in it—the kind where he does it for her own good and because he desires her too much to let another moment pass. There’s a lot of it, but it is well written, so if you’re in the mood for it, I would highly suggest this novel. A warning though… the comeuppance of the uppity bitch in the story is gang rape by the pirate crew which the pirate captain (hero) sanctions because she tried to kill someone (no, not the heroine.)

The story is one of those that goes everywhere (Boston, London, open seas, remote island in the Phillipines, Jamaica) and does everything (kidnapping, monsoons, shipwrecks, runaways, fake marriages, babies, plots and betrayal, and so on.)

It starts when the ship the heroine and hero are on is caught in the doldrums. The heroine is headed for Australia to live with her cousin and his family after her father’s recent death. The hero, Justin Phillips, is locked up in the hold somewhere on his way to his execution. He spies her presence one day and strikes up a conversation. He can’t really see her, but he figures she’s extremely plain.

Christina Marks is actually very beautiful. As the daughter of a reverend she is kind, naive, and innocent.  Also, she is terribly shy except when she talks to Justin through the small opening. She gives him her rations to help him keep his strength up. When the wind breaks and Justin’s crew comes to his rescue he kidnaps Cristina determined to ensure her safety and wellbeing.

The adventure has only begun though and passion can’t be denied.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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Review: Deadly Vows by Brenda Joyce

I saw this on Net Galley and immediately gravitated toward it because of the plotline. Deadly Vows is book 9 in The Deadly Series. Some of you might recognize it as a Francesca Cahill Novel (the name of the heroine) as all the Deadlys follow her as she solves crimes and falls in love.

I picked up the book without knowing any of this however… as a reader with zero background in the series, I think Brenda Joyce did a good job easing new readers into the series. Previous incidents or conversations were alluded to and put in context as needed and as briefly as possible to keep longtime followers from skipping ahead.

But back to the plotline – the heroine Francesca Cahill cannot wait to marry Calder Hart and inadvertently winds up jilting him and breaking his trust when she’s trapped by a thief blackmailing her with a nude portrait of herself – sounds awesome right? It was.

From what I can deduce all Deadlys mix romance and crime solving. Really, I feel there’s something for everyone. The heroine herself is a very contemporary gal while the story is set in New York City around the turn of the century (1902 for Deadly Vows) which means there are still big differences between classes. New York society is akin to English society for Regency lovers. See? Everyone!

There’s a love triangle between Francesca, Calder, and Rick Bragg. To explain the dynamics a little for newbies like me – Rick and Fran met first and were falling in love prior to Rick’s estranged wife showing up and demanding a reconciliation. Francesca cried in Calder’s arms and they fall in love. Rick is the saintly perfect half-brother. Calder is the bad boy billionaire (maybe not that wealthy, but the alliteration was too good to miss. :) ) The half-brothers are very jealous of each other and especially over the relationship Francesca had/has with the other.

Joyce really did a superb job. Francesca chooses the guy I wanted in the end, but hopefully not the end of the series. I am excited that there are eight previous books to read. I better get cracking. ;) If you’re just starting out, reconnecting, or longtime fan here’s the order of the books:

  1. Deadly Love
  2. Deadly Pleasure
  3. Deadly Affairs
  4. Deadly Desire
  5. Deadly Caress
  6. Deadly Promise
  7. Deadly Illusions
  8. Deadly Kisses
  9. Deadly Vows

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Deadly Vows

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Review: Embracing Midnight by Devyn Quinn

guestreview

By Susan S., guest reviewer

Today is a Double Dose of Devyn Day! Back to back reviews!

Embracing Midnight is Devyn at her best. A sinful, sizzling “fast-paced” page turner!

Come…, as I invite you to walk along the darker side of romance. Prepare yourself for the “ultimate” good vs. evil novel.

This novel, solidified for me, the reason why Devyn ranks among my top two favorite authors. Having read most of her books, this is her best novel to date. I can envision its conversion into a movie.

Embracing Midnight will appeal to any and all of the following: erotic romance readers, readers who enjoy romantic suspense, mystery, paranormal, sci-fi, thrillers, and for those readers who enjoyed the movies The Net and Men in Black.

I simply could not, read this book fast enough. My review should simply read (flip, flip, flip). What first appealed to me were the double entendres, and hot sexual innuendos between the hero (Iollan Drake) and the heroine (Callie Whitten).

Callie is a 30 year old blond who’s working for the bureau as an undercover agent. Her cover is working as a waitress at a Goth club. The military taught her how to crack and hack any system in the world. An ability that she’ll have to implement soon enough.

In enters a “mega-hot” 194 year old, motorcycle riding Irish vampire into her life. Who knows just how to please a woman, he’s sex-on-a stick. Together, they’ll learn how easily friends can become enemies, and discover how sworn enemies can change into our best allies.

Drake will uncover her darkest sexual secret, and fulfill her secretly guarded fantasy. His use of the endearment “love” towards Callie was touching. Iollan quickly became my favorite character, with his vulnerability, transformation, and ultimate revenge and redemption. When he reveals the full scope of his powers as the novel approaches its end, you will be left utterly speechless.

The least likeable character was Callie’s bastard ex-lover Roger Reinke.

Favorite scene- When Callie assists Drake in a hot shower.

Embracing Midnight’s fundamental theme was to stand up for injustice and cruelty, by fighting for what “you” believe is right.

There isn’t a rating high enough for this novel, so I’ll have to settle for the 5 star rating, when in actuality in my heart it deserved a 10.

Warning–This plot includes one m, f, m, m scene. Yes, I counted those m’s correctly! There was also a rape scene that lent to the real nature of one of the characters. (Chilling and unexpected revelation)

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Embracing Midnight

Aphrodisia, Kensington Publishing Corp., Copyright 2008
Paperback, 304 Pages.
ISBN-13# 978-0-7582-1654-0
ISBN-10# 0-7582-1654-8

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