Review: When the Rogue Returns (The Duke’s Men, Book 2) by Sabrina Jeffries

When the Rogue ReturnsHero: Victor Cale just recently learned of his wife’s whereabouts after she abandoned him and said their marriage was a mistake. She left him to face the consequences of the crime she and her family colluded to and executed so effortlessly under his nose. He plans to confront her and seek justice for all the injuries they and she inflicted on him through their perjury. His broken heart is at the top of that list.

Heroine: Isa Cale, hiding under an assumed name, Sofe Franke, is angry and frightened when her husband shows up in Edinburgh ten years after he deserted her. Why is he there? Why now? What does he want? Does he know of their child? Does he want to trick her or force her into illegal activities again? Well, he’s about to find out that Isa is not the timid little mouse he married. She’s got teeth and she’s willing to do what it takes to protect her daughter.

Review: It’s clear from the beginning that the hero and heroine are laboring under a big misunderstanding. A decade spent apart and a series of lies has torn their fledging marriage into two and two hearts are grieving for the loss of a love they both thought was true. Their double-speak when they first meet again is quite entertaining. Victor’s reaction to Isa’s feelings, about the pet name he gave her, is particularly heart-wrenching. He did not realize he’d been so misunderstood! He’s quick to come up with an alternative. Both are unique to the heroine and I love that. What great about this novel is that Sabrina Jeffries knits both hearts, both characters, slowly back together. Trust is a big issue for them both and it’s a delight to see them work through the fabrications and make amends for back judgments in the past. It’s also nice to know that even while they trust, they did both still have doubts and had to fight to overcome them time and again. It made for a realistic read. I also enjoyed that the story took place outside of the usual London setting. Not a book to be missed!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: When the Rogue Returns (The Duke’s Men)

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Review: The Secrets of a Lady (The Jordans, Book 1) by Jenna Petersen

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

In Regency times women never shined, or did anything out of the ordinary in society, but Audrey Jordan does, and she isn’t in the slightest bit ashamed. In fact, she loves her new life as a spy, even though it can get her in a lot of trouble. Her reason for her turning to a life of investigating and espionage is her love for Griffin Berenger, her brother’s best friend.

She comes to find out later that he is an unhappy man after losing his wife. It doesn’t help that she has teamed up with her brother to investigate his neighbour; a man who they think might be involved in a plot to assassinate the Prince. While she is a guest at Griffin’s residence, she has the time to relive the feelings she had for him, and the way she felt about him just by being in his presence.

The question is will Griffin feel the same way about her as she does him?

Also can she stay alive with her continued investigation of the potential assassin?

The reader can really get into the feelings Audrey has, when she was at Griffin’s wedding to Luci. She felt the waves of despair come over her, the pining for him, although she was reminded by her mother that it was useless, she still had for him. Griffin isn’t to blame for how she feels, though. He has no idea that she pines for him, even loves him. He has never known it since he has been around her as a friend before. Audrey finds it more annoying and heart-rending that he has found love from someone like Luci, as they both have an equal loathing of each other. She wonders if he can see the sort of person she is, but the reader might guess that her hatred of Luci is jealousy burning within her.

The tables are turned later when Griffin and Audrey share a drunken kiss, and Luci finds out, much to her distress, and ever since vows to hurt her in the worst way possible, but after her death and his brother’s revelation about her, he feels nothing but sadness of how he disappointed Audrey from the very beginning. He has only known the lovely and charming Luci, but found once they had married that she was nothing like the woman he originally wed. She was scornful and full of wrath, spreading harsh rumours about Audrey so that it meant no man would want to marry her. The utter humiliation of this, plus the fact he had married without her was too much and she had to leave for home, after her season had passed. Griffin has only one chance to make peace with her and tell her how he feels, but as his brother reminds him, he can’t mess it up, or it will hurt her all over again.

I liked the situations Jenna put the characters into. She has a great way with words and knows how to spin the most intriguing tale and make it into a best seller. The way she had her kissing Ellison in the hansom cab made Griffin fume with jealousy, but even when they argue, I would have to say in a way he had it coming, after all she was just playing the role of spy, and the kiss had meant nothing to her. Even better though is what Griffin is thinking:

Griffin downed a second drink and stared at the fire crackling in his bedroom. Rage and jealousy coursed through him and he hated himself for both. Once again he had been knocked from his orderly existence by a woman.

Audrey in the arms of another man was just too much to contemplate. It was bad enough with Ellison, but he could console himself with the knowledge that her relationship with his neighbour was only part of her job. But the man who had been holding her in Griffin’s sitting room was something very different.

Something personal.

The reader finds out more than enough, as Griffin is reminded of how his former wife Luci had acted one day:

He had found her curled up on the settee in the lap of a young merchant. They’d broken their kiss the instant he entered, the young man apologizing as he tried to find the nearest exit. Griffin had let him escape with only a well blackened-eye and a promise never to return or tell stories.

His wife had watched it all with a bemused smile. She’d never risen in fear or tried to explain her actions. Even after the man was gone and Griffin towered over her, demanding an explanation, she had only laughed. She’d actually laughed.

“What I do is my business, Griffin.”

From that remark, Griffin knows his wife is no longer his alone, and this is only the start of his despair, so when she is gone, and he is left with Audrey, the one he spurned before, he can no longer see her in the arms of another man, as it sends him so mad with jealousy – whether she did it as a spy or not, for him it doesn’t matter.

This novel shows how Regency women could be if they tried, but at the risk of their own reputations with men. It is well worth reading as it is different from the normal Regency titles out there. The characters are believable, and can be incensed at the drop of a top hat!

This novel is the first in a series of Regency romances. There will be other volumes following in the coming months such as; The Temptation of a Gentleman (The Jordans Book 2) in October, and The Desires of a Countess (The Jordans Book 3) in November.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Secrets of a Lady (The Jordans), The Secrets of a Lady (UK)

Review: Healing Luke by Beth Cornelison

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Healing Luke is a modern day retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. It’s quick and lighthearted with a few gems revealed towards the end on love and relationships.

Luke Morgan was on a boat when it blew up leaving him with burns, one eye, and no thumb on one hand. He feels his life is ruined forever and is scarred to go to his occupational therapist for fear of failing. Angry and bitter, Luke is sinking fast and his brother and dad have no idea how to help him cope.

Abby Stanford is visiting Florida on what should have been her honeymoon. She’s doing all the trips and outings they had planned, including snorkeling alone. She meets Luke and is surprised and hurt by his antagonism. An occupational therapist herself, albeit with a different focus than what Luke needs, Abby longs to be useful and to help.

Luke watches his brother Aaron flirt with Abby and jealousy rears its ugly head. He wants Abby for himself but is no longer confident of his appeal to women and to one woman in particular.

I loved the workings of the Morgan family: Luke, withdrawn and wounded; Aaron, flirtatious and outgoing; Bart, quiet and unassuming. Abby was such a great fit with them and I really enjoyed seeing that in a romance.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Buy: Healing Luke

Review: Texas Tangle by Leah Braemel

This contemporary erotica is a wonderful way to pass a few hours. It takes place in Texas and is about the coming together of a permanent threesome between two men and the woman they both love.

Braemel does an excellent job exploring the mind spaces of all three characters including their fears, motivations, and love.

Nikki Kimball’s life is a wreck all thanks to her good-for-nothing brother and her lousy ex-husband. Her childhood ill equipped her to understand the freedom and joy found in being responsible for personal happiness and because of that she’s had none until the two heroes come along.

Dillon Barnett and his foster-brother Brett Anderson have shared fists before over the luscious Nikki back in high school. It nearly destroyed them then and even now after all these years and her marriage to another man Brett’s just learning to trust the friendship between them again fully. One or the other will lose out because they’re forcing Nikki to choose. But what if they didn’t? Could they possibly both love the same woman and not rip each other to shreds? It doesn’t seem possible because jealousy is what ruined everything before.

I found it a little hard to believe Nikki would be so adventurous at first because of how lousy her marriage was. After the miscarriage things fell apart rapidly and she stayed out of cowardice. Her husband, Wade, cheated on her constantly. He was supposed to be her only lover before Dillon and Brett come along and he honestly didn’t come across as a considerate sounding bloke.

The love making other than that was steamy and sexy. There’s some alone time, voyeurism, three way action (one time double penetration – that was woo-dang smoking hot), and lots of cuddling. Go ahead and spice your bedroom up with this read. You’ll thank me later.

Rating: 4 Stars

Buy: Texas Tangle

Review: Too Sinful to Deny by Erica Ridley

by Susan S., guest reviewer

There are three things guaranteed to bring me pleasure: vanilla-flavored coffees, Godiva, and a great read. This was a great read!

Background: Miss Susan Stanton made her debut as a secondary character in Too Wicked To Kiss; where she befriends Evangeline, the heroine from book one. The sequel stands alone, but reading the earlier installment will explain more about Susan’s downfall from Polite Society, and her failed attempts at marrying a wealthy gentleman.

What to Expect:

You can expect Ridley’s signature humor, a great murder mystery, and a Regency set historical romance with a paranormal twist. There’s also scandalous unladylike behavior from the heroine and temptation-laced kisses from a sexy rakehell.

What Not to Expect:

If you’re looking for a replica of book one, you’ll be doused in ice water; a real shock-to-the-system. Too Sinful To Deny is to Too Wicked To Kiss, as a red fan is to a red apple. It’s not the first time I see a sequel completely dissimilar from the first book, but it’s the first time I felt it’s happened to a successful end.

Recommendations: Recommended for romance readers everywhere.

Summary: Miss Susan Stanton, heroine, drowned in the frigid waters of London’s Thames River; only to regain consciousness with a newfound gift. She sees…and hears…dead people. A most inconvenient gift! Since, most discarnates pop up at the most inopportune moments. Always expecting her to do some task or another.

Her penchant for gossiping forces her parents to send her to the desolate town of Bournemouth. It’s in Bournemouth where she meets a discarnate named Timothy; it’s Timothy who’ll set certain events into motion. One involving a dark and dangerous smuggler named Evan Bothwick, hero.

With missing corpses, disappearing pirate ships, talking ghosts, and jealous rivals, is there any time for romance? Of course! Evan kisses Susan the first time, and she punches him in the ribs. Then, he kisses her a second time, and the blackguard disappears out a window. Will the third kiss be the charm? I know! But, I’m not telling. There’s a discarnate over Miss Stanton’s left shoulder pressing a finger to his very blue, very dead lips. I take that to mean he’s signaling me to remain silent on the matter. And since he’s a pirate, albeit a dead one…I’m going to do what he asks.

Review: Two things I loved about this novel: character development and the opposites attracting aspect of the love story. Just imagine the sole heiress of a wealthy baron associating with a rakehell who happens to be a smuggler. Susan shouldn’t be associating with Evan. As for Bothwick, he should be tumbling around with a wench. Oh, but isn’t something more tempting, if it’s…forbidden?

Regarding the character development, we have an innocent, impulsive young-lady of three and twenty who grows up emotionally. Although change of habit doesn’t alter her nature entirely, she does learn how it feels to be on the receiving end of gossip. An unpleasant experience to be sure! Evan does some growing up of his own, and learns to think of someone besides himself.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Too Sinful To Deny

ARC, Historical Romance, Kensington Publishing Corp., April 2011, Print Pages 344. ISBN-13# 978-1-4201-0994-8.

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Review: Down on the Boardwalk by Suzanne Rock

by Sandra Scholes, guest reviewer

Gwen Anderson is a captive in a dangerous world when a rival werewolf gang has kidnapped her and thrown her into a cell. Eric Wright of the infamous Wright pack interrogates her only to find little in the way of vital information from her. From this he gains no advantage other than to try and use her amazing gift, her psychic ability to see into the future. Previously Eric had given her sanctuary within his pack as a favour due to her not belonging anywhere else, but her time for being useful is running out and Eric needs to get results if he is to keep her. She wants out, but it will cost her – until a chance encounter with two men changes her life forever.

Tony and Nico are thrown into her cell and both form a lasting bond with her away from their captors, one that makes her heart beat fast, and loins stir when they are around. Gwen finds she loves the both of them, but Tony and Nico act as rivals even though they are from the same pack, and they need to know what is going on about their leader’s rival in order to take him down. Gwen can use her abilities to help them both, but she wishes they would get over their petty jealousy first if true love is to spark between the three of them.

Gwen forms an almost instant bond with Tony at first, and would love to be his mate, but she has a concern in the back of her mind that he knows she is already mated to another man, one she doesn’t love – and for her that makes a difference. For Tony, however, he finds himself attracted to her just as easily, and takes the opportunity to mate with her regardless, as though it were the most natural thing in the world to do.

The relationship she has with Tony has a depth to it that hurts her inner wolf soul so much she continues to doubt herself even though Tony and Nico are sure she is the woman for them.

Down on the Boardwalk is a heated and deeply erotic treat for those who like what Loose Id publish. It is highly sensual, kinky and shows the result of were mating between strong werewolves. Never has a horror genre been so sensually written.

Rating: 4 Stars

Buy: Down on the Boardwalk (The Kyron Wolf Pack)

Review: Mail Order Mix-Up by Pamela Toth

This is the first book, I believe, of a trilogy called Winchester Brides. The second book is Cattleman’s Honor and the last is Man Behind the Badge.

Rory Mancini wanted to get the hell out of Brooklyn. When Charlie Winchester, the man she’d been writing letters to for a while in response to his mail order bride advert, offers her a chance to fly out and meet him she jumps on it. He’s to meet her at the bus stop in

Waterloo, Colorado, but what awaits her is a couple of old men sitting on a bench staring at her. When a truck roars up and it’s Charlie’s brother saying he’s gone off to who knows where, Rory is equally terrified and royally pissed off. She has hardly any savings and the man she came out to marry disappeared.

Travis Winchester can’t believe that his brother could be so foolish as to bring a woman out here and slink away. Rory doesn’t look like a girl who’d like living out in the middle of nowhere. She’s too flashy for that even in her eastern style western duds. When he learns she can cook, he’s relieved. She’ll be able to fill in for his cook and feed the hungry men he employs to keep the ranch running. He wonders how long she will stay and figures like every other woman, including his mother, it won’t be too long before she flees for civilization.

I thought it was a pretty sweet Western romance. Travis must learn to trust and share his feelings. Rory must learn perseverance and honesty. They’re two lonely hearts, with a series of bad knocks, that find love and solace in each other… but one is too stubborn to give in and the other wonders when the other shoe will drop. When Charlie comes back a whole new series of challenges crop up.

There were some parts of the story that got repetitive that could have been paired down, but overall it was quite enjoyable. The sex scenes lean more to the mildly sweet or chaste side of the scale, if that makes a difference for anyone.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Mail-Order Mix Up (Silhouette Special Edition)

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Movie Review: Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Heavy on Spoilers. Ye be warned!

Lines I Wish Were in Eclipse and Dearly Missed:

In order of how much I wish they were in the movie…

  • “Deal’s Off.” – Edward to Bella.
  • “But, if I had been able to take your place last night, it would not have made the top ten of the best nights of my life. Dream about that.” – Edward to Jacob.
  • “You are in trouble. Enormous trouble. Angry grizzly bears are going to look tame next to what is waiting for you at home.” – Bella to Edward’s voicemail.
  • You can hold me hostage any time you want.” – Bella to Edward.
  • “The way you regard me is ludicrous.” – Edward to Bella.
  • “Sometimes I think you like me better as a wolf.” – Jacob to Bella.
  • “I’ll be back so soon you won’t have time to miss me. Look after my heart — I’ve left it with you.” – Edward to Bella in a note.

Scenes I Wish Had Made It:

  • Jacob Black remembering how Bella looked when Edward was gone; inflicting a wounded look on Edward.
  • Alice Cullen kidnapping Bella.
  • Bella telling Jacob why she loves Edward and telling Jacob he’s such a big hypocrite.

Great New Lines Found Only in the Movie:

  • “A virgin. I like Edward a little bit more now.” – Chief Swan to himself.
  • “Let’s face it; we both know I’m hotter than you.” – Jacob Black to Edward Cullen in presence of Bella Swan.

Things the Movie Did Great:

  • Jacob’s wolf – it was very emotive.
  • Taylor Lautner had great delivery. Especially liked his, “You’d be better off dead. I rather you were.”
  • Everything Edward and Bella. Swoon. The meadow scenes, the bedroom scenes in his and hers bed, the proposal, etc. Be still my heart – please!
  • Edward’s jealousy! Fabulous and yummy. Okay, Edward in general. Robert Pattinson is great as usual.
  • The tent scene – pretty cool. It was different than how I thought it would go down but I liked it. Wish we had seen Jacob getting ripped from the sleeping bag by Edward though.
  • Kristen Stewart finally looks and sounds comfortable as Bella. The hair/makeup and wardrobe was all right; there was never a moment that I thought – that’s more Kristen than Bella as I have in the previous films.
  • The epic werewolf vs vampire fight. Fabulous!
  • Rosalie’s and Jasper’s and tribal flash backs.
  • Jasper and Alice as a couple.

Most Anti-Climatic and Most Anticipated Scene:

Bella breaking her hand against Jake’s face. It wasn’t as big a deal (the kiss, the punch, the consequences) as I thought it would be. Probably in part because of the spoiled bit between Edward and Jacob that was in a bunch of trailers as a result of the kiss and face punch.

(Yes, I did just slip a New Moon movie joke in there. :))

Did you miss…

Jacob practically nude near the end? Tell me what you think of those thighs! They’re like tree trunks. I bet Edward really wished he had pants on right then… tehe.

Conclusion: I need to watch this about 5 more times to pick everything apart properly.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Buy: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse