Review: The Pretender to the Throne (Call of Duty, Book 3) by Maisey Yates

pretender to the throneHero: Xander Drakos is the rebel wastrel prince of Kyrnos. He left the country after his mother’s death. He blamed himself for her death as much as his father and brother did. He pushed his feelings away and drowned his sorrows in all the wrong places, never healing. Now he’s back in the country to finally do his duty as heir-apparent and take over the throne from his ailing father. Just one problem… nobody particularly wants him back.

Heroine: Layna Xenakos was permanently disfigured by acid in the unrest that occurred when Xander left the country. She’s hid herself in a nunnery, believing the lack of vanity makes her a better humanitarian. But, she does care deeply about her appearances—she just buries her feelings and locks them away. That is, until Xander walks back into her quiet life asking her to pick up their relationship as if he never left… to help him win the people over again. Well good luck, he’s going to have to win her over first.

Review: This was a different romance than your usual fare, because it is the heroine that is scarred and not the hero. Layna in a nunnery reminded me of Sound of Music (or maybe I’ve been looking for Sound of Music ever since I got the Blu-Ray and went to Salzburg.) I also thought it was interesting that both of the main characters had spent the time apart hiding from the world. Yes, I know Xander was out in it and living the wild life, but he wasn’t really active in it. He used the club scenes and gambling scenes to hide from himself. Overall, I liked it, but wanted to like the characters a little more than I did. I didn’t really connect with them.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Pretender to the Throne (The Call of Duty)

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Review: The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine (Sydney Dovedale, Book 1) by Jayne Fresina

most improper miss sophie valentine

Wanted: one husband, not too particular. Small dowry, several books, sundry furnishings, and elderly aunt included. Idlers, time-wasters, and gentlemen with other attachments need not apply.

Herione: Sophie Valentine is a spinster by choice. She had an offer once but when she saw him make googly eyes at a maid after their indiscretion in the billiard room, well she knew she couldn’t accept. Sophie wanted someone to look at her the way her ex-lover looked at that maid. Could she ever find that? Impossible now that she is ruined! Scarred from the night, literally, her sister-in-law takes every opportunity to let her know that even if she wasn’t turning 30, was free from scandal, her scar would make her non-marriageable.

Hero: Lazarus Kane has been looking for Sophie since the night she jumped from the balcony and caught herself on his ladder, leaving her scarred. When he overhears someone discussing her ad, he knows where to find her and he makes haste to be the first applicant. Will she accept him? To further his suit he takes up residence down the driveway from her brother’s place and spends much time outdoors, shirtless (very scandalous, but the ladies loved it!) Time is ticking and Lazarus only has so much.

Review: Sophie was very immature for a thirty year old spinster. She climbed trees, read naughty books inside books on sermons, swapped kisses with a stranger, etc. (All this makes her very improper, but not very spinsterish.) She claims to want a solemn upright marriage but the girl is clearly looking for someone willing to break rules with her. Lazarus is the man for the job. He wants to break rules because he is socially beneath her in terms of class and education and has a time bomb over his head which could kill him or imprison him, whichever comes first.

I never really got why Sophie wasn’t jumping at the chance to be with Lazarus, considering her terrible home life with her sister-in-law and controlling pompous brother. The whole bait and switch with the ad seemed wrong. She’s not picky until the guy shows up at her doorstep. Me? I’d be relieved it is not some old guy, but apparently that was what Sophie was hoping to get.

Then Hartley shows up, the man that ruined her and then went on to have an affair with a maid, and he wants to marry her too. I was aggravated with Sophie for entertaining it. Why should she be okay with Hartley now when she wasn’t then?

My favorite scene was inside the schoolhouse when Lazarus gives Sophie his lessons in passion. Hot.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine

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Review: Heart of Vengeance by Tracy Cooper-Posey

by Susan S., guest reviewer

High praise for Cooper-Posey’s Heart of Vengeance. A touching love story of two lovers willing to risk it all (titles, lands, imprisonment, torture, even death) just to be together.

Summary:

Ah, Lady Helena of York, beautiful daughter of the late Earl of Wessex. Pretty Saxon maiden with the most beautiful blue eyes-you’ve ever seen. While she may look angelic, this is a knife carrying, strong heroine who can expertly yield a bow and arrow. She’s going to find her father’s killer come hell or high water! And when she does…well, you’ll have to read the novel to find out.

The plan: Helena (heroine) will pose as Lady Isobel of Brittany; a Norman. Lady Catherine and Sir Hubert Fitzwarren will be sponsoring her return to court. Nothing! Absolutely nothing, will stand in Helena’s way. She simply must find the man responsible for all her anguish. That the Fitzwarren’s plan to marry her off, well…she’ll cross that bridge when she gets there.

Who’s Stephen, Count of Dinan, Earl of Northumbria, often referred to as the Black Baron? Stephen, yes, he’s what I like to call, the law of unintended consequences. The one’s Helena didn’t foresee. When their paths cross, a continued acquaintance would be foolish, not to mention deadly. She’s posing as someone she’s not, and he’s seen as trouble to be avoided. A medieval bad boy, no wonder he appealed to me! Helena has a bit of a trilemma on her hands: 1. How to keep her real identity concealed/ avoid drawing the present king’s ire 2. Steer clear of marrying a repugnant man named Savaric/ circumvent the future king’s wrath, and the most troublesome of the three 3. Can she stay away from a noble knight who’s stolen all she had left…her heart?

Who said a woman’s life was easy?

Recommendations: Do you fancy stories with dashing knights, beautiful maidens, and forbidden love? Did the characters and power plays in The Lion in Winter appeal to you? In the movie Romeo & Juliet (the 1968 version, of course) did the clandestine meetings between lovers make you gush? If so, I recommend you pick up a copy. Same goes, if you read romances in “any” subgenre, but more specifically historicals, romantic suspense, and medieval love stories.

Historical Elements: I’d like to touch on a key point; accuracy. 1. King Richard’s use of kingdom’s resources to support his crusade (check). 2. King Richard married Berengaria (check). 3. As well as Richard’s use of Château Gaillard (check).

My Thoughts: Reading is subjective, yes. But, I’m convinced the author’s beautiful story, coupled with historical accuracies intertwined in such a way, you couldn’t possibly debate its winning outcome.

Complaints: Yes, I have them.

Number one, it’s a single title. I want a Vengeance Series! Can’t I get Marked by Vengeance? Where William of Worcester is the hero; all grown up. Secondly, Robert of Loxley (my goblet clashes against the table) I want him. Sorry, I forget myself, strikethrough. Replace the word him, with more. Or, more of him!?

Comedic Element: Stephen doesn’t know Isobel’s real identity, and she’s not telling, so he calls her not-Isobel.

Where shall I place this novel? In my re-read pile, of course!

Rating: 5 Stars

Buy: Heart of Vengeance (Kindle), Heart of Vengeance (Paperback)

eBook, 2010, Cerridwen Press
Medieval Historical Romantic Suspense, 227 pages.
ISBN# 978-141-992-4040

Review: The Guardian by Margaret Mallory

Summary: Ian MacDonald was one of four boys who sought a prophecy from the clan witch. She told them all about the women they were going to marry, what a joke! They wanted to know about the glories of their future battles. Ian was told he’d marry twice: once in anger and once in love.

On the trip back from meeting the woman of his dreams, he finds a 13 year old Sìleas escaping from her keep to run away. He takes her with him and they’re caught sharing a bedroll and forced to marry. Ian is not just mad, he’s furious!

The day after the wedding he runs off with his three friends and doesn’t come back for five years. When he does, he plans to end the marriage, but then he sees his wife. It’s clear she is no longer the awkward girl she was, but a beautiful woman and the pride and joy of his family. The trouble is, she wants nothing to do with him!

Review: This second chance romance features a very strong and likable heroine. She has had to endure much while waiting for Ian to wise up to what a great catch he’s got in her. Her love has been unrequited for so long she can’t really see Ian coming around and winds up making a supremely stupid mistake as part of the angst section of the plot and what’s worse is aided by someone who really ought to have known better too. Luckily for them both Ian is more than capable of pulling the two out of the situation with minimal damage. You’ll swoon when he sneaks into their bedchamber that first time *g*. On the series/trilogy side, I’m pleased to say that all of the male leads who are getting a romance of their own are very worthy guys. You’ll want to root for them too.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Guardian (Return of the Highlanders)

PS – As a complete side note how do you pronounce the heroine’s name? I’ve been pronouncing it something like: SIGH-Lee-uz

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Review: Lucifer’s Daughter by Eve Langlais

by Susan S., guest reviewer

Summary: It’s not easy being…

Auric: He was thrown out of heaven for questioning their ways, and going against the grain. He’s a fallen angel with a Mega trilemma on his hands. In order to return to heaven’s good graces he’ll have to do a good deed. Like slay Lucifer’s daughter. Problem #1- if he takes Muriel’s life, he’ll lose her love. Here’s where the dilemma begins, problem #2-if Auric doesn’t rob her life, he’ll never regain his angel wings. And finally, problem #3, turning this into a trilemma, if he disobeys Lucifer and doesn’t stay away from Muriel he’ll have hell to pay. Literally! And really, who wants to anger Big D on purpose?

Satana (Muriel) Baphomet: Ever heard the saying the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? Well, this apple didn’t just fall far from it; it landed in an entirely different forest, on a completely different world. She’s the perfect daughter. Always earned straight As, and an unwed virgin waiting for love. Is that so wrong? Yes. It is! Her father is he with many names: Big D, Lucifer, Satan, Hades, Beelzebub, etc., etc. Sin is a requirement, not an option!

When a sexy dark-haired stranger walks into Muriel’s bar, will it signal her descent into sin? Or Auric’s eternal damnation.

Review: Lucifer’s Daughter is a smokin’ hot novella. And not just because it came from the fiery depths of hell. Bwah-ha-ha! I love double–entendres in romances! This story’s got `em. It’s also funny-as-hell, pun intended. There were two scenes I really enjoyed. The first is when three hot guys order a beer at Muriel’s bar, Nexus. Three different guys, three different requests. Funny stuff. The second was when Satana tries to contact her dad on the phone and she hears a pre-recorded message. Loved the recording.

There were unanswered questions that left me wanting answers. Who is Muriel’s mom? Who’s the unidentified antagonist who seeks to overthrow hell? Why couldn’t the antagonist gain access to her memories? Maybe book two holds the answers I seek. There’s a possibility I may have inferred my second question, but don’t really know for certain.

Recommendations: Recommended for readers who enjoy stories about opposites attracting. Also for anyone who reads erotica, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and angels and demon stories.

To Be Continued: Book two, titled Snowballs In Hell, is currently available for your reading pleasure. It promises 3x the fun. Translation: Sexual content includes threesomes.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Lucifer’s Daughter

Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, Copyright 2010, eBook, Novella, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Demons Romance, Pages 78. ISBN# 978-1-59578-740-8.

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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Review: Enemy Within by Marcella Burnard

Any sci-fi fan would love Marcella Burnard’s futuristic romance Enemy Within. This novel is quick to throw you into wordbuilding that is both competent and exciting. It combines a badass hero with an equally badass heroine, but the heroine is more fragile than she appears.

Alexandra Rose Idylle (Ari for short) is super tough on the outside, but on the inside she feels like mush. Her history is a tragic one – having recently endured 3 months capture by the enemy bug-like aliens of the Armada. Upon her release, she’s stripped of her command as Captain because she can’t be trusted due to the fact that the Chekydran is known for reprogramming its prisoners. She can’t even trust herself… something is different. It’s a daily struggle to prove her humanity to herself and she does it in anyway she can… including saving the lives of the men who take over her ship!

“Space pirate” Cullin Seaghdh (Shaw) recognizes Ari immediately, even though he’s never spoken to her before in his life. Her story is legend, but he knew of her prior to her successful release from the Chekydran after being accused as a spy. Ari is of great importance for the successful completion of his mission – but the young Captain isn’t about to go down without a fight. It’s a challenge he can’t resist to play and though he constantly messes up during the course of his seduction, he’s willing to make things right over and over.

The romance between hero and heroine is very sweet and very intense. They trade sexy banter as fast as they wield their weapons. For the first time ever the hero cares… he’s no longer the second in command guy, he’s much more and he sees much more in her. He wants to heal her and hold her and take care of her. She has never really felt attraction before and thought she couldn’t ever feel again after her experience at the hands Chekydran.

There were parts out of my comfort zone, mainly the polytheism and torture Ari suffered and suffers. It was disquieting. She has PTSD flashbacks which when she’s in the thrall of make her very dangerous as she react violently to them. She can’t sleep because of the nightmares. She hates to be touched and flinches from contact. Cullin is gentle with her, but her fragility is heartrending. It’s a good thing Cullin is a master of the Art of the Blade, otherwise breaking down Ari’s barriers might have been impossible.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Enemy Within

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Review: First Love Cookie Club by Lori Wilde

The First Love Cookie Club: Is a club for women who all married their first loves. This year they focus their attentions on Sarah Collier and Travis Walker because although they never dated they’re 100% sure they’re each other’s soul mates due to Sarah’s brave announcement at Travis’ wedding years back. It doesn’t hurt that Sarah is also Travis’ little girl’s favorite author. Must be destiny with that much coincidence!

Favorite Scene: I’ve got to be a nut because my favorite moment in the whole book is learning Sarah’s kismet cookie dream and its subsequent fallout at Travis’ wedding to his now ex-wife. My heart just broke for that fifteen year old girl.

I also thought it was sweet when Jazzy, Travis’ daughter, secretly put kismet cookies under Sarah’s and Travis’ pillows in hopes of bringing them together.

Meet the Heroine: She’s a published author who’s afraid her first novel is a one hit wonder. The extreme success of the Magic Christmas Cookie has left her paralyzed to write more. She’s on her last deadline extension when a request from a sick girl brings her back to Twilight, the home of the worst experience in her life… total abject public humiliation at Travis Walker’s wedding. That day combined with the loss of her Gram, her distant relationship with her parents, and a jerk from college has closed Sarah off from love. She hasn’t risked her heart in so long that the small town friendships and romantic couples surprise her at every turn.

Meet the Hero: Travis Walker was the bad boy in his youth. He ran wild trying to cope with his mother’s death and his father’s withdrawal. Getting his girlfriend pregnant and marrying her in a shotgun wedding was the best thing that ever happened to him. It made him grow up. His daughter is the pride and joy of his life. He’s devoted himself to her and trying to find a way to make her well. And while his wife couldn’t handle Jazzy’s illness and walked away from them, Travis’ heart isn’t closed off.

Recommendation: If you’re a fan of the Ugly Duckling turned Swan theme, love small town romances, holiday romances with miracles.

Do not read: If you don’t do well with kids being sick. The little girl in this book suffers from severe asthma and it lands her in the hospital regularly.

Spoiler: The girl in the story almost dies, and I was actually worried she would despite this being a romance novel which should be happy endings with rainbows and unicorns.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The First Love Cookie Club

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