Review: Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon (Billionaire Romance, Book 2) by Jennifer St. George

tempted by the billionaire tycoonSummary: Nic Capitini is about to take his luxury spa resort company public. He needs the launch to be successful not just for business but because he plans to use its success to prove to his mother and sister they can rely on him to be strong enough to protect them from his father (a ruthless man who runs the island Nic is from with casinos and prostitutes.)

The only fly in his ointment is the poor showing of his English spa where a series of strange incidents spells certain failure for his launch. He goes undercover to ferret out the resort’s manager and fire her for poor performance. Only Nic has a hard time finding anything wrong that Poppy Bradford. Everything he could complain about she fixes or has a reason for doing (like ensuring the safety of the guests). He finds himself falling for her instead.

Review: A quick and fun read. There are a lot of suspects who could be behind the sabotages at the Sirona resort. Is it the manager? The assistant manager? An employee who was fired for drugs? A male client stalking the manager? I like Poppy who was capable and strong. She was a smart manager and was doing everything she could think of to make the resort a success and minimize future incidents. She even figures out Nic quick enough and calls him on it. She proposes a deal – let her prove she’s worth not only keeping but promoting and he takes her up on it. The dialogue was fun and snappy. I had a few concerns about her sister’s sudden turn around in behavior but it didn’t pan out to be anything.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon: Billionaire Romance Book 2

Audio Review: Love in the Afternoon by Alison Packard

love in the afternoonHero: Sean Barrett is the sexiest soap star on TV. His father — an amazing actor in his own right — is embarrassed that Sean spent ten years of his life acting for a lowbrow soap, and tries to get him to audition for Hollywood hits. Sean refuses to use his father’s connections in the industry to get ahead and purposefully avoids leaving the soap for greener pastures. He and his father do not get along. Sean sees every attempt to reconnect as an attempt to manipulate him. His father’s pull is so strong others have tried to get close to Sean in order to get close to his father, something Sean finds distasteful. His fame-seeking ex-girlfriend has left a bad taste in his mouth and he’s determined to avoid his sexy new costar at all costs… until he realizes she wasn’t hired for her pretty face but for her acting skills. Then all bets are off.

Heroine: Kayla Maxwell’s biggest career move in seven years has been to accept a contract with daytime’s most popular soap, A New Dawn. It will give her the chance to show her acting chops and perhaps prove to her manipulative ex-boyfriend – also an actor — that she’s more than a bimbo in some B-rated slashers. Things seem to be going well, because the producers are expanding her role and slotting her character as Sean’s character’s newest love interest. But when real terror comes to the set, Kayla doesn’t know what to do. A hateful fan leaving threatening notes for her to quit the show and get out of town has escalated into vandalism and hints at more. Her handsome costar wants to keep her safe and Kayla is inclined to let him.

Review: Found this treasure on Audible for free one day and snagged it. I’m glad I did. I very much enjoyed the narrator. Gia St. Claire did an excellent job and I would listen to another book read by her.

I liked how the lines of dialogue at the top of each chapter reflect the growing attraction and love the two shared as both the main characters and their on-screen personas. I would classify this romance as sweet, despite the crazy fan mystery. I thought Sean and Kayla were great together on and off the stage. I liked the behind-the-scenes-look at filming day time soap operas with new tapings each day and the two’s interactions in the evening studying their lines.

The mystery is pretty good at keeping you guessing who is behind the threats. I won’t give you the choices, but I know I kept bouncing back and forth on it for a good portion of the novel. There’s a significant portion of page time devoted to Sean’s friend, Matt, a baseball player with some serious issues involving the death of somebody (wife, child?). It’s a clear setup for the next book in the series. Perhaps with Kelly, Kayla’s sister?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Love in the Afternoon (Feeling the Heat)

Review: The Exceptions by David Cristofano

the exceptions David CristofanoReviewed by Karin

The Exceptions by David Cristofano is the follow-up to The Girl She Used to Be, which was an Edgar Award-Nominated book. Either book stands alone.

It’s rare for me to find books that I enjoyed so much — and also are different and unexpected. Not really a romance, but a romance. Not really suspense, but definitely mafiosi. Not really romantic suspense, but a bit of terror, which is one-sided, and some well-earned violence, some of which might be over the top, but as you would expect for mafia.

The Exceptions is different, because in many ways it duplicates the first book, but adds additional information.

Melody has been in protective custody under witness protection, from the time she was a little girl. Her parents have been murdered while under protection.

In this book, we become privy to more of the inner thoughts of the protagonist Jonathan (Little Johnny) Bovaro. We see how what happened in his childhood has affected him his whole life. We see how he has loved Melody (under all her different aliases) from that point in time and has seen himself as her protector, which he is in many ways. In some ways, he is like a stalker, for he has watched her from afar, always telling his family, who has ordered him to kill her, that he cannot find her. She, of course, does not know this, so for her, their meeting is only a couple of days. Should she trust him or not? He is clearly able to deliver crushing violence.

And he definitely loves her, which he ultimately proves, and she loves him, just that quickly.

I don’t want to give any of it away, but there are some twists and turns. Some clever surprises. And a good ending. There is even a little door open for perhaps a third book, because Jonathan is told he owes the government agent. Will he come to collect? And what possible story could there be in that? I would definitely read it.

It is definitely a character study, very well done, and he changes under her influence, even though their meeting is in the past in the first book. How it is all resolved is part of the fun. Jonathan proves he is adept at navigating the morass of government agencies, as well as ferreting out the moles, for there are two. Then how to keep her safe — and how to keep him safe, that’s the story.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Exceptions

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What Do Readers Love About Romance?

Guest Post by Kat Martin, author of Against the Storm

It’s a question that dozens of people have tried to answer.  On Valentine’s Day, article after article attempted to explore the concept.  Non-fiction books are written about it, essays are printed.  Internet sites Chat about it.

The truth is there is no single answer.

From the time we’re teenagers, we’re thinking about finding a mate.  When we’re old and alone, our spouse long gone, we’re remembering the romantic days when we fell in love, the days of our lives we spent with someone who loved us.

From the start, it’s a journey fraught with perils.  Today, with people living in cities, the odds of finding the right mate are mind-boggling.  Thousands of bars and restaurants, millions of people all searching for someone.  People turn to Internet dating to improve their chances of finding a person with the same interests…someone they might have a chance to love.

The same journey happens in a Romance novel and it’s fraught with even more peril.  As the reader turns the pages, for a very brief time, he or she gets to feel all the wonderful emotions a man or woman feels when they fall in love.

In my latest book, Against the Storm, the fourth in my AGAINST series, Trace Rawlins is a man who’s had rotten luck with women, especially redheads.  So when Maggie O’Connell, a fiery tempered, red-headed photographer, comes to him for help against a stalker, Trace’s instincts warn him away.  He doesn’t trust her and as some of her secrets come to life, Trace is even more determined to stay away from her–no matter how much he wants her in his bed.

But what if Maggie is telling the truth and she really is in danger?  No matter his feelings, Trace is determined to keep her safe.

The best part about reading a Romance is that from the very first page, the reader secretly knows that whatever perils this couple faces, whatever suffering they endure, will be worth it.

Because by the last page of the book, these lovers are going to get the happy ending they deserve, the forever kind of love.

I hope you will watch for Against the Storm, and that you’ll look for Against the Night and AGAINST THE SUN, coming after the first of the year.

Till then very best wishes and happy reading, Kat

P.S. Would love for you to take a peek at my Against the Storm book trailer, interview (I do these under duress!) reviews, and excerpt.  Please visit my website, enter my contest and why not connect with me on facebook?

Buy: Against the Storm (The Raines of Wind Canyon)

Review: Guarding Suzannah by Norah Wilson

by Karin of Savvy Thinker, guest reviewer

I assume since you are reading this, that you, like me, are a reader. I regret not having more time to read now, but when I do, I want something entertaining and a bit fun. I don’t want heavy duty reading when I want to relax. How about you?

I suspect you are somewhat like me, because romance books enter into the fantasy realm – super rich, good-looking, great lover, happy ending – who doesn’t want all these things! It sure takes your mind off the news.

Guarding Suzannah was an enjoyable read. If I had known how well I would like it, I would have read it sooner! I received assurances before I agreed to read it, that it wasn’t a thriller, but that it is true romantic suspense. When it’s not a Kindle book, I often read the ending and skip sections that are too difficult to read because of the scare-meter. It’s less easy to do with a Kindle, but not impossible. Nevertheless, I really don’t want to read some things – it is too hard to get it out of my mind. I prefer heavier on the romance than the suspense, and this book was just perfect in that department.

The story
Suzannah is a defense attorney who has won more than a few cases, while antagonizing the police, because she likely has won some cases where the defendant was guilty.

The book opens with Detective John (Quigg) Quigley watching her shred the latest police officer on the witness stand, winning her case. And before he knows it, his life is turned upside down, as is hers, while he attempts to keep her safe from an increasingly dangerous unknown stalker.

There are enough twists and turns to satisfy anyone. I didn’t see the ending (and I didn’t cheat and read it first.) It is satisfying, both in how it is set up within the book – and that you don’t see it coming.

Of course, Suzannah and John (Quigg) fall in love. How could they not, with such close proximity. In a way, they each save the other from the life they were leading. Suzannah has never had a satisfying physical relationship and fears she is incapable of it. Quigg is just the lover she should have had.

Have you read this book or any of the others in this series?
I thought the book was well written. I love it when other friendships come into play, as they do here. I want to read the others in this series.

I like military/police/romantic suspense, and this is definitely the best of the best. The villain is villainous. I don’t want to say more to give it away. And his crime is distasteful, though we only hear of it. We don’t witness it. There are some scary moments, but you know Quigg will come through in the end – at least you hope so.

Need more convincing? See my other review of this book.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Guarding Suzannah (Serve and Protect Series)

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Review: The Mists of Time by Susan Squires

The Mists of Time is part of the DaVinci Time Travel Series by Susan Squires. The DaVinci Series is an offshoot of the Companion Series, starting with One with the Darkness. The second DaVinci time travel romance, Time For Eternity, also fits into both series. After that they seem to be separated. I haven’t read enough of either series to know with absolute certainty that this is the case. I saw a few minor references to Time For Eternity in The Mists of Time, but not knowing the full background didn’t detract. You can jump into The Mists of Time as it is a stand alone. Anything you really need to know is explained.

Diana Dearborn is an orphan once more after her father, the last of her adoptive parents’ is dead. She had no idea who she really is because thirteen years of her past are missing. All she knows is that she feels different than everybody else. Diana can find things without thinking about it and hears what people will say before they actually say it. Both are pretty useless talents as far as she’s concerned.

She writes romances for her day job and is suffering from writer’s block on her latest. It’s a story about Gawain, the perfect knight, from King Arthur’s time. If only she could go to Camelot and meet the man she was writing about, then she could bring him to life on the page. A book in her possession leads her to believe that Leonardo DaVinci’s design for a time travel machine might actually exist and so one night she takes that chance and goes in search of a past to become her future.

Gawain was too late to stop Diana from going back in time and now she’s brought one of the most evil megalomaniacs back to the future. He’s haunted by all his failures and is far from the perfect knight history has made him out to be. His latest mission seems to be going to the dogs faster than he can say Mordred.

I found the flaws of the characters got on my nerves after a while. Gawain’s insecurities are a big road block. He’s always worrying. He worries about his attraction to Diana. He worries about lies of omissions. He worries about Mordred. He worries about fulfilling his mission, of pleasing his long dead father, etc, etc.

Diana isn’t much better. She’s afraid of a lot. She’s afraid to make friends, because who’d want to be around someone as freaky as her? She’s afraid of a relationship because she doesn’t believe she’s attractive. She views Gawain as an Adonis among men and herself as something the cat dragged in. And she’s afraid she’s not a very good writer because she hasn’t experienced the kind of love she writes about – or the sex.

Good thing time and space isn’t linear because by the end, both manage to change these parts of their personalities around due to actions and words done in the past. It’s very refreshing. :) Maybe now they can admit to each other how they feel? You’ll have to read and find out!

Rating: 3 Stars

Buy: The Mists of Time

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Review: Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl

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This contemporary romance is about Molly Jennings is erotica romance writer Holly Summers. Tumble Creek, Colorado is just the place for her to get away from her creepy ex-boyfriend Cameron Kasten. It was also just the place for her to indulge in a longtime fantasy Ben Lawson the local police chief and her brother’s best friend. Getting arrested never looked so good. Yummy.

Victoria Dahl is great at ramping up tension – sexual, physical, emotional… I had a niggling feeling about the stalker in Molly’s backyard. Sergeant Kasten, one of Denver’s top negotiators is the easiest choice of bad guy. So is he?

I loved how the verbal tools of a negotiator were used in the novel and how one of them became the title. Very cool. I learn something new with every novel I pick up!

As I am not a huge fan of suspense/thriller romances that are super scary I greatly appreciated Dahl’s restraint on the creepy factor. It’s creepy, but not the “I have to leave a nightlight on and keep my cell phone close” type of creepy. It’s also fun and humorous and quirky. I wouldn’t mind reading The Wicked West by Holly Summers for instance!

To sum up: I liked Dahl’s ability to combine humor, lust, and suspense. I picked up Talk Me Down and read it in a day (keep away from scary romance reader she bites when disturbed) that’s how hooked I was. I wish a few things went down differently, but overall it’s quite excellent!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Talk Me Down

Review: Going Down Hard by Tawny Weber

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Going Down Hard is the sequel to Coming on Strong and follows Belle’s best friend and Mitch’s cousin as they stumble into love. Half suspense – half sexy as sin, Tawny Weber puts out another top notch romance. Weber spins words like a top notch DJ spins tunes. She has a delightfully witty tone that is sassy and spunky; just like the heroine.

Sierra is receiving doctored photographs in the mail. Sexual in nature, they were at first funny because they were so terrible, but then the pervert got good at it. The creepiness just gets creepier as Sierra’s head gets attached to more and more degrading photos. The cops can’t do anything at the moment and with Sierra’s background they’re not likely too. Now the stalker is even threatening to ruin Eventually Yours, the business Sierra and Belle started, by sending pictures to their newest client Family.

That’s when Belle and Sierra decide it’s time to call in the big guns. Reece is an ex-military Kentucky cowboy with his own business in security. He takes the case for many reasons, one of them being Sierra herself. Their last encounter (in Coming on Strong) has left his head spinning and he wants more. Sparks fly, but Reece is persistent in getting behind that tough as nails exterior Sierra exudes to find the real woman.

Despite the heavy topic, I was amused and laughing all the way through. Here’s an example of some of the dialogue and admittedly my favorite piece:

“What reason? What proof?” She would have poked him again except he still held her hand captive.
When he didn’t immediately reply, she accused, “You had nothing. Admit it. Your jealousy meter dinged and you pulled on the Macho Man cape and set out to prove you could be a total idiot.”

Weber’s writing is sure to rile you up and make you gasp…

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Buy: Going Down Hard

Buy on eHarlequin: Going Down Hard