Audio Review: A Passionate Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson

passionate affairSummary: Charley Lambert wants the perfect life and thinks she has the perfect career. Which is great for her because she is a workaholic who lusts for her boss. He’s hot, they click, and he’s a damn good flirt. But it’s been seven years! So when she breaks her leg, finds out her boss is getting married, and must take time off from perfect job – Charley searches for something to fill the void. Her friends guide her to the perfect hobby – providing online dating help to the luckless women out on the web. She does their flirting for them and they get to meet the guys they think are great. Charley’s friend and roommate, Sam is an actor wannabe who loves women and junk food. They’ve friend-zoned each other long before the story starts. He helps her with her get her business started. It’s fun and smooth-sailing until Charley falls for a guy she’s helping another woman snag.

Review (with spoilers): So it was clear to me from the start of the sequence for the online-dating that Sam was going to be perfect for Charley. They both just didn’t know it. I never liked Charley’s boss (what kind of guy claims to like a woman for seven years and never ask her out and what kind of woman waits seven years to be asked out?) – and his behavior and general smarmy attitude just didn’t work for me. Sam was very immature at the start and grows into a better guy through a series of events in the novel. My favorite sequence was Charley falling in love with Sam and Sam with Charley but both thinking they were falling for a stranger on the internet and ghost-writing for a client. Loved it.

Narrator: Cathleen McCarron’s voice is very distinct and so is the Scottish accent. On one hand she was a great narrator lending Charley some maturity when needed and levity when needed. On the other hand Cathleen was sometimes difficult to listen to as it seemed like she read slower in certain parts.

[Rating:3]

Buy: A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger

Review: Ravishing the Heiress (Fitzhugh Trilogy, Book 2) by Sherry Thomas

ravishing an heiressHero: Fitzhugh is an impoverished Earl, who recently inherited his earldom. If he doesn’t wed for money he and his family will be doomed to live in poverty forever. The idea of a loveless marriage does not appeal to him in the slightest as he is in love with a beautiful woman… but he can’t provide her with the life she deserves and she isn’t as wealthy as he needs. So, for the love of duty and England, he will marry Millie instead.

Heroine: Millicent (Millie) is a sardine-canning heiress. She’s not gentry, she’s not beautiful… and she isn’t Isabelle. She agrees to marry Fitz knowing that he doesn’t love her. She proposes that they abstain from consummating the marriage for a few years and then get together long enough for them to beget an heir. Fitz thinks that is a great idea because he can’t imagine wanting to sleep with his wife and proposes an extension of the abstinence plan.

So, of course, the beautiful Isabelle returns freshly widowed and ready to start an illicit affair with Fitz just when the married couple plans to consummate the marriage.

Review: My big issue with this book is the flaunting of adultery as the hero cheats and screws his way around London. He’s even willing to abandon his wife publically for a calculating harpy, just because his younger self thought he was in love with the woman. Ugh. I did however, like Millie, even if she took the role of doormat. I got her as a character. She loved Fitz at first site, is a young teenage girl, and believes she’s causing him more harm than good by being married to him. Sure it is a bit delusional, seeing as she’s bringing way more to the marriage with successful businesses and wealth while he’s only bringing a title and some land… but… that’s Millie. The hero has very few redeemable qualities and uses his broken heart as an excuse to behave awfully. What I didn’t understand was why Isabelle wasn’t given the cut-direct several times over? She’s clearly not “high society” even if she married well because she relentless pursues a scandal broth that would consume her, Fitz, and her children. In short, if Millie got a very determined admirer who honestly made her feel special and gave her the idea to run away from her loveless marriage, I might have enjoyed the story better.

[Rating:2]

Buy: Ravishing the Heiress

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Audio Review: The Naked Earl (Naked Nobility, Book 4) by Sally Mackenzie

naked earlHero: The Earl of Westbrooke, Robert “Robbie” Hamilton, has no trouble getting “it” up. No, the problem lies in keeping “it” up. This road block is tied to a humiliating moment in his youth and he’s unable to let the incident go. Just when things begin to heat up — like seeing the inebriated and naked Lizzie in her room — the memory will crop up and the excitement turns to frustration.

Heroine: Lady Elizabeth “Lizzie” Runyon, is the younger sister of Robbie’s best friend, James. She has been in love with Robbie most of her life and would like nothing better than to marry him. When he falls through her window (escaping across the rooftop from a calculating marriage-minded spinster), during a house party, she takes advantage of his naked state and her own, by stealing innocently passionate kisses.

Review: When the guests come running to her door, he begs her for silence and so while she could have kept him all to herself, she does as he asks, which I think takes guts. Of course, Lizzie feels Robbie will come around properly to ask for her hand and is flummoxed when he does not. There was a lot of potential with the book and where it fell flat for me was the passion fizzled at its highest points (and I don’t mean when it fizzled for Robbie as those were some of the better moments in the book because you could really feel his anxiety and frustration over his reactions or lack thereof). Robbie really wanted to be the man he felt Lizzie deserved and needed/wanted. The best-friend’s-sister or brother’s-best-friend trope is a tough one for me to warm up to, but I found myself rooting for the two quite early in the novel. The momentum just didn’t keep up with my expectations.

Narrator: The narrator was exceptional and one of the reasons it was so easy for me to get involved in the romance. I would recommend listening to Terry Donnelly if you get the chance. She’s very good at the intimate moments and keeping characters straight and reads very lively and with emotion. (4.5 of 5 Stars)

[Rating:2]

Buy: Sally MacKenzie Bundle: The Naked Earl, The Naked Gentleman, The Naked Marquis, The Naked Baron, The Naked Duke, The Naked Viscount, The Naked King

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Review: The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen

The Secret of Ella and MichaReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Ella and Michel have always been the best of friends since childhood, but one night changes everything and Ella leaves Micha for a new life at college. There she wants to forget those past events with her former boyfriend, but when summer break comes, Ella has to think about where she can stay, and finds she has only one place to go, her own home, and with Micha living next door, she fears the horrible memories of what happened in the past may come back to haunt her all over again. Micha, on the other hand is determined to win her heart, and doesn’t care what it takes to do so.

The Secret of Ella and Micha was originally self-published in October of 2012, selling 84,000 copies during the first month of sales and over 200,000 copies since. It got to number 2 on the New York Times ebook bestseller list and number 2 on Amazon.

The Secret of Ella and Micha is a dual viewpoint story set out in small chapters using their first names so the reader can tell who they are reading about. Jessica Sorensen also uses popular music most of the way through the story to give readers a track listing they can listen to while reading. This can give them a better understanding of the book’s characters and the way they think. This novel is designed for readers who like an upbeat romance novel set in modern day, and deals with modern issues among older teenagers.

Micha admires Ella’s personality, the way she stood up for others when they were kids and her fiery nature – she has often been able to arouse him, and although he would never admit it to anyone, she is the only woman who can do that. When she returns to her home for the summer holidays, he is shocked to see her and even more amazed when she refuses to talk to him even though he has waited eight months to ask her why. For Micha, Ella was his first love, and as far as he is concerned, his only love. He can never feel this way with any other woman. Ella still loves him, but has to realise it, and what better way to rekindle their love than to be his next door neighbour – again.

I admired the honesty that the author put into this story, and the realism the characters had. I could actually believe that there were characters like Ella and Micha out there, as these acted as though they were living and breathing. This is definitely one for the keeper shelf. Also in the same series are The Forever of Ella and Micha and The Temptation of Lila and Ethan.

[Rating:4.5]

Buy: The Secret of Ella and Micha

Review: The Importance of Being Emma by Juliet Archer

being emmaReviewed by Carla F.

Our heroine: Emma Woodhouse is the new Marketing Director at Highbury Foods. She is embarrassed to remember the teenage crush she had on older family friend, now brother-in-law, Mark Knightley. Her father who is the head and owner of Highbury Foods wants Mark to be her mentor. Just what she doesn’t need is Mark telling her what to do (again)!

Our hero: Mark Knightley has recently returned from his job in Mumbai for the family owned Donwell Organics so that his father can go on an around-the-world cruise with his second wife. He has also taken his father’s place as a non-executive director at Highbury Foods. He gladly agrees to be Emma’s mentor. However, he surprised to see her all grown up with beautiful curves and great legs.

This retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma has all the romance of the original plus it has a very appealing modern heroine. She is still the Emma that we recognize who believes that no one is better at matchmaking than her. However, she is also a college graduate who is ready to inject some new life into the family business that has been run conservatively by her father. I also liked the fact that she has been sexually active and that her growing attraction to Mark is not just one of romantic feelings.

Besides Emma’s and Knightly’s story, what made the original novel so much fun was the cast of quirky characters. They are here as well. One that stood out for me was Emma’s temporary PA Harriet Smith who is definitely not one of the upper crust. Another one was Emma’s father who worries by his health and diet so much that he won’t eat anything made by his own company.

Archer has brought all the charm of the original, updated it, and made it into enjoyable friends-to-lovers story.

[Rating:4.5]

Buy: The Importance of Being Emma (Darcy & Friends)