Monday, July 30, 2012

Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis

Forever and a Day (Lucky Harbor, #6)

My rating: 

From the blurb:


Grace never thought she’d be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh’s loveable mutt to caring for his rambunctious kids. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad…

With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family–until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “good bedside manner.” Josh and Grace don’t know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day…

This was my first foray into the fun that is Jill Shalvis. It probably won't be my last.

And while this is #6 in a series, it completely stands on its own, so I never felt as if I was missing any crucial information.

Forever and a Day is a cute, fun, steamy romance story, infused with humorous dialogue, a bit of angst and drama and nicely fleshed out characters.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Giving It Up by Amber Lin

Giving It UpGiving It Up by Amber Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the blurb:

Allie prowls the club for a man who will use her hard and then ditch her. Hey, it's not rape if she wants it. Instead she finds Colin, who looks tough but treats her tenderly, despite her protests.

He tempts her, but kindness and a few mindblowing orgasms aren't enough to put her back together again. Allie has no hope for a real relationship. Two years ago her best friend betrayed her in the worst possible way – she’d be stupid to trust a man again. Besides, she has her daughter to think of, the only good thing to have come from that dark night.

But when her rapist returns, threatening her sanity and custody of her daughter, Allie turns to Colin. Under his protection and patient touch, Allie begins to heal and learns to hope. Colin’s no saint, though, and his criminal past draws danger of its own. Allie must fight to protect her child and the man she loves, hoping her newfound power will be enough to save them all.

It took me a day to figure out what I want to say about this book.

It ain't your typical erotica/romance, that's for sure. It'll pull you out of your comfort zone. It'll make you scratch your head in confusion, grit your teeth and ball your fists in anger. It'll make you worry and rant and shake your head in disbelief. The heavy and dark topics covered in the plot are not what you'd expect in a romance novel. It's not a light-hearted, feel-good story, with lots of steamy scenes.

In short, this is a book you ought to read.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Upcoming Blog Tours and Giveaways

August 3rd, 2012 - Peter Golden, author of Comeback Love - Interview, Review and Giveaway (sponsored by JSKCommunications)

August 25th, 2012 - Emma Elliott, author of A Thin, Dark Line - Interview and Giveaway (sponsored by The Writers Coffee Shop Publishing House)

September 1st, 2012 - Sydney Logan, author of Lessons Learned - Interview and Giveaway (sponsored by The Writers Coffee Shop Publishing House)

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A.N. Roquelaure

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (Sleeping Beauty Series #1)The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A.N. Roquelaure (aka Anne Rice)

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I've heard lots about this trilogy, good and bad. It's been touted as great BDSM story, an erotic fairytale and a great read. There were voices that said it's vile and horrible. There seemed to be no middle ground

Curious, I requested the books on Netgalley when Penguin made them available as a re-release.

Curiosity killed the cat. I should have remembered that old adage.

Despite my usually high tolerance for kinky stories, I struggled through this book, with my teeth clenched and my fists balled in anger. I felt sick to my stomach on many occasions, especially when Prince Alexi tells the tale of his own abuse and degradation.

Whoever claimed that the story told in this book has anything to do with BDSM ought to look up the term and learn that one of the key elements of BDSM is the ability to make it stop, with a safeword that ends either the scene or the relationship. It's also supposed to be sane, safe and consensual.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Need (Finding Anna, part 2) by Sherri Hayes

Need (Finding Anna, #2)Need by Sherri Hayes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From the blurb:

As Brianna comes to terms with the realization that she is no longer a slave, she must figure out what she wants for her life. Forgetting her past isn’t an option. It is an integral part of who she is now, and it will forever shape her view of life. The one thing she knows is that she cannot imagine her life without the man who saved her, but can she be what he needs?

Stephan never imagined falling in love with the woman he rescued, but the thought of her no longer being part of his life is physically painful. The scars from her past continue to haunt her, and he is helpless to stop them. All he can do is try to help her work through the traumas of her past. Can he be everything she needs and help her move on?

I was fully prepared to give this book 2 or possibly even 3 stars, even though about 50% of it was originally posted online as a Twilight fanfiction called Finding Bella. I more or less expected this, when I requested the ARC, but I wanted to see what the author had done with this story.

Until I got to the end and the cliffhanger with which I was left.

Seriously??? SERIOUSLY??????

I realize this book is the second one in what's advertised as a 4-part series, but this is not fanfiction where cliffhangers are to be expected, because the next chapter will go up in a week or so. This is a published book, one that needs to be able to stand on its own. One that should have a beginning, a middle and an ending that leaves the reader satisfied, yet wanting more.

I'm too angry right now to write up the rest of the review, but I will return to this later to talk about the writing and the story itself, so my words will not be influenced by the rage I'm feeling at the moment.

ETA 7/20/13 5pm:

I feel sufficiently calmed down to return to this review to finish it.

Need is the 2nd installment of the Finding Anna series. It begins exactly where the first book ended, and we are following along as (Bri)Anna starts to lose a tiny bit of her fear, and comes to rely more and more on Stephan, starting to trust him to keep her safe.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bound Temptations by Shiloh Walker

Bound TemptationsBound Temptations by Shiloh Walker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From the blurb:


She’s a temptation he can’t resist…

Roxanne ‘Rocki’ Monroe’s life is full of secrets and hidden heartaches. Cole Stanton would love to heal her pain and chase away the ghosts of her past, but she’s just a complication he doesn’t have room for in his life.

Or so he thinks.

It doesn’t take Cole long to realize he’s more than willing to let temptation get the best of him, more than happy to deal with complications if that’s what it takes to get her.

What he has and what he needs are two different things…and what he needs is Rocki.


Beg me…there had been a time when those words made her burn with desire. But now, there was only fear.

Once, Tania Sinclair’s life was almost perfect…But a couple of tragedies later, she’s barely holding it together. A car accident took away her husband, and an attack from somebody she should have been able to trust has shaken not only her confidence, but it’s also stripped away her fantasies and even made it painful to look back on her memories of her husband without fear.

Two years after her attack, Tania is determined to take her life back and the first step is taking back herself…her fantasies, her dreams, her memories. There’s only one person she can trust to do it, too. One person she wants enough…Drake Bennett, her husband’s best friend.

Bound Temptations is an anthology made up of two previously published books by this author, Tempt Me and Beg Me. Both books deal with widows, but that's the extent of the similarities.

Hot Coco by Cindy McDonald

Hot Coco (Unbridled Series #2)Hot Coco by Cindy McDonald
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From the blurb:

HOT: Coco Beardmore 
NOT: Coco's calamities 
HOT: Mike West's fantasies 
NOT: Mike's reality

That's right, Coco Beardmore is sizzling hot and she's landed in Mike West's lap. The problem is Coco's middle name is chaos! Her driving skills are a real bang--into Mike's horse trailer, and her sultry seduction will set the room on fire--the kitchen that is.

What's worse are her Thoroughbreds' ability to mimic their owner's habit of screwing things up. It's enough to drive a normally calm and collected Mike West to the very edge.

But Mike's not the only one having problems with women. His father Eric has taken on more than he can chew, and he's about to get spit out by two women: one that he's in love with and one that thinks he's in love with her. Oh yeah, things are hot around Westwood Thoroughbred Farm... and someone's about to get burned!

Hot Coco is a hot mess. There is no clear protagonist, instead it's a hodge-podge of main characters from the start. Based on the blurb, I expected this book to be about a romance between Coco and Mike. Not so.

We meet Coco Beardsmore, described as a hot chick, clutzy as all out, leading with her boobs and causing havoc wherever she goes.

We meet Doug O'Connor and his daughter Margie. He's described as an old grump, while her description leads us to believe that she's unattractive, mousy, and shouldn't be touched with ten foot pole.

We meet Mike West, horse trainer, who seems to think more with what's in his pants than what's in his head, and thus takes on clutzy, hot, boobylicious Coco's horses to his barn. He has a younger brother, Shane, who also wants into Coco's pants, thus leading us to believe there's gonna be a brotherly fight about who's gonna get the girl.

Actually, scratch that bit about it being Mike's barn - it's his father's barn. Meet Eric West, widowed for ten years, possibly having a thing for hot nurse Jen, but unwilling or scared to act on it.

And then there's Kate West, sister to Mike and Shane, and Scott, who works on the O'Connor farm as stable hand and has a thing for Margie. And Ava, Mike's ex-wife, Carl Lugowski, local cop/homicide investigator, Dan Quayde, local a$$hole, and a bunch of other, minor, one-dimensional characters who don't really bring much to the table.

Bunch of bumbling fools, all of them.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Path of Petals by M.A. Stacie

A Path of PetalsA Path of Petals by M.A. Stacie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From the blurb:

Griffin Holt arrives in England intent on selling his deceased father's house and returning to America as soon as possible. Griffin is a workaholic, annoyed at this forced change of routine. When he gets lost and can't find the guest house he should be staying in his frustration multiplies. He follows a constant line of blossom trees, hoping to find at least one signpost. Instead, he encounters an odd, bohemian woman twirling in the road and showing no signs of moving. 

Rain Teslar knows who the man in the car is, the whole town does and they've been waiting for years for him to return. He just doesn't realize it. 

Rain instantly strikes up a friendship with him, though it isn't reciprocated at first. Each day her carefree nature annoys him a little bit less, and her help with unraveling the secrets of his past has him seeking her comfort. However, if Griffin's new life is to be a fresh start, changes have to be made—changes neither of them are willing to make.

3.5 stars, rounded down for various spelling and punctuation errors.

A Path of Petals is at its heart a love story between two very different people. Griffin Holt is a 35 yo business man, divorced, rigid and controlled, abrasive and in need of removing the stick up his ass. Rain Teslar is 24, a free spirit, a little kooky, tattoo'd, with a lip ring, dancing through her life and taking nothing too seriously. She embodies everything that Griffin hates.

Upon Griffin's arrival in the sleepy little town of his deceased father, their world collide. Griffin is initially mostly annoyed by Rain (as was I, because that girl apparently has never been taught any personal boundaries), but his annoyance soon gives way as he loosens up his rigid stance on things. As the novel progresses, they develop a friendship that turns into a sweet love story.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wraith by Angel Lawson

WraithWraith by Angel Lawson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the blurb:

Adjusting to her new home and school after an abrupt move, Jane just wants to be like everyone else at school. Although she does manage to make one friend, Evan — sixteen, charming and protective. Evan is everything a girl could want in a best friend, with one minor caveat: He’s dead. 

Caught somewhere between life and death, Evan is tied to Jane and the living world, unable to complete the journey to the other side. She thinks he’s here to be her friend, to take care of her, and that’s why no one else can see or hear him. 

That is, until a new boy shows up at school after a rumored stretch in juvie. Connor can see Evan and is not convinced that the ghost is completely honest. Past experience taught him how ghosts tend to need something from the humans they connect to and Evan, despite his arguments, isn’t any different.

4.5 stars really. This was incredible, but I had to take off some points for the lack of proper proofreading.

I'm not usually one for ghost stories, but the blurb for this book caught my eye. Well, that and the fact that I 'know' this author from another medium. So, my expectations for this were a) somewhat apprehensive because of the ghost mentioned in the blurb, and b) pretty damn high because I knew I was in for a riveting story.

Well, lemme tell ya, Angel exceeded my expectations, and this is a ghost story I absolutely loved.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Theory Of Attraction by Delphine Dryden

The Theory of AttractionThe Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the blurb:

Camilla can set her watch by her hunky rocket-scientist neighbor who jogs past her window each day. She relishes each glimpse of his shirtless abs, and is dying to see more. But it’s hard to connect with a man who doesn’t seem to know she exists. Ivan feels at home in the lab, not in social situations. When he finally approaches his attractive neighbor, it’s not for a date—he wants tutoring in how to behave at an important fundraiser. Ivan doesn’t expect the chemistry between them to be quite so explosive, and is surprised when Cami actually accepts his proposal to embark on a series of “lessons”. Cami soon discovers Ivan’s schedule isn’t the only thing he likes to be strict about—he needs to be charge in the bedroom as well. She’s shocked at how much she comes to enjoy her submissive side, but wonders if a real relationship is in the equation…

3.5 stars, rounded up because I'm feeling generous. Slightly spoilerish review below.

The idea behind the book was lovely, and that's what drew me to request it from Netgalley, after I read the blurb. The execution, while not bad, also wasn't as in depth as I had hoped.

Ivan is a rather good-looking hot-nerd scientist, with some strong OCD tendencies, and what could possibly be called a mild form of autism or Asperger's syndrome, though at no time in the book do we get an actual diagnosis. He's socially awkward, but highly intelligent, and as the book progresses, we see his extreme intellect and his ability to read people in action. He just doesn't think to apply the latter unless prompted, or unless he knows it would help.

His neighbor Camilla, from whose perspective the book is written, is a likable, socially apt, sweet and kind young woman who's been lusting after her handsome neighbor for a while. She knows that the object of her affection has a rigid schedule to which he adhers (there's that OCD raising its head), but what she doesn't know, and certainly doesn't expect, is that Ivan is secretly a Dom.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey - A parody by Fanny Merkin aka Andrew Shaffer

Fifty Shames of Earl GreyFifty Shames of Earl Grey by Andrew Shaffer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This satiric, snarky, sarcastic, over the top story based on the mega-bestselling Fifty Shades of Twilight Grey nails all the key points of absurdity of the book it parodies, as well as the Twilight saga from which it came. And then some.

The cover alone is hilarious, especially the hand holding the cup with the pointer, middle and pinkie finger extended. If you don't know what that hand gesture means, please look it up under "shocker" on!

From the first few lines, I was laughing, giggle-snorting and crying (because I was laughing so hard).

"I'm Edward Cullen. I mean, Earl Grey." [quoted from the original chapters posted online.]

And it only gets better from there. The parody starts out much like the fanfiction/published novel by introducing us to Bella Swan Anastasia Steele Anna Steal (!!) who is preparing to interview bazillionaire enterprise mogul hot stud Edward Cullen Christian Grey Earl Grey as a favor to her sick friend Rosalie Hale Katherine Cavanaugh Kathleen Kraven (who in this parody is a 38 year old perpetual student-slash-journalist alcoholic pothead).

The author immediately reminds us of the origin of FSoG by casually and humorously mentioning the actress who portrayed Bella Swan in the Twilight movies. Bella Swan Anastasia Steele Anna Steal appears to be quite the airhead, naive and virginal, a notion that is nearly instantly invoked.

The parody follows along similar plot lines as the fanfiction-turned-published book, but continually makes the key scenes and themes ever more ridiculous. For example, Bella's Anastasia's annoying lip-biting habit in FSoG is turned into Anna constantly picking her nose. Instead of an inner goddess, she has an inner guidette. Thankfully, her subconscious is just that in this parody - sub-conscious.

Edward Cullen Christian Grey Earl Grey has a list of fifty shames instead of being fifty shades of effed up. And what a list it is. He shops at Wal-mart on Saturdays, likes bondage with handcuffs, and professes his love of BDSM (Bards, Dragons, Sorcery, and Magick). Pointy prosthetic elven ears included. He also has a fascination with Tom Cruise, and you just wait until you see who his adopted father is. I nearly choked from laughter when reading that.

All the main characters from the 'book' are present - Jacob Jose Jin (who is a Brony, wants Anna to be his and might even be offered a contract to publish his My Little Pony fanfiction as an original novel, via a small Australian vanity press *snickers*), Anna's mom and stepfather, her distant father as well as Earl Grey's biological mother.

The first sex scene, in which Anna loses her virginity, will have you howling with laughter.

And then there's the infamous tampon scene. Never have I laughed so hard and for so long as when I read that. Tears of laughter were running down my face.

Fanny Merkin aka Andrew Shaffer intelligently, with tongue firmly in cheek, uses perfectly timed zingers in almost every paragraph to not only poke fun of the ridiculousness of the 50 Shades book, but also to reference things that those who know the history of the fanfiction-turned-international-book-sensation hype will easily pick up.

I wish I could quote from the ARC but I'll have to wait until the final published version is available.

Just know, that if you loved FSoG, you will likely get a chuckle or five out of this parody. You should read it.

If, on the other hand, you hated the original book or the fanfiction from where it came, you'll be laughing your butt off, and this is definitely the book for you.

Very well done, Mr. Shaffer. Thanks for the hours of laughter from your utterly brilliant book.

I am one of the lucky ones who were provided with an ARC from the publisher (mine via NetGalley). Thank you, Perseus Book Groups and DaCapo Press.

View all my reviews

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sh*tty Mom: The Guide for Good-Enough Moms by Laurie Kilmartin

Sh*tty Mom: The Guide for Good-Enough MomsSh*tty Mom: The Guide for Good-Enough Moms by Laurie Kilmartin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was cute, to be sure, but it didn't really give me anything much that I don't already know or do with my own kids. It's mostly a lot of common sense, to be honest, and about not buying into every hype there is. Babies and small children (and teenagers) don't need designer sheets, toys, food, drinks, sippy cups, strollers etc. Unsolicited advice or stupid questions from strangers should be dealt with appropriately. Lower your expectations when it comes to traveling with your kids, and plan ahead (again, with common sense). Keep 'em busy, whether that means via TV or electronic devices or even a pacifier. Drop them off with the grandparents when you can - it'll keep you sane. Organized sports - good for your kid, sucky for you. How to deal with your amorous husband when all you want to do is keep your legs closed. And more such gems.

Some of the things mentioned in this book were a little iffy - such as leaving your sleeping kid strapped in the car seat when going into a convenience store. Yeah, I don't think so. In most states, that's against the law and you'll find yourself in some really hot water if a cop shows up while you do that or, G*d beware, your car gets stolen with your kid still inside it. Children are not a device to prevent car theft.

The chapter titles are hilarious and gave me a good chuckle before I even started reading. The writing is snarky and sarcastic, humorous and witty, though on occasion it gives off a somewhat condescending vibe that I didn't quite agree with.

I guess the intention of the book is to make us moms feel better about doing the best we can, even if our best isn't always what 'societal expectations' demand. In that, it succeeds.

A great book for expectant and new moms. Those of us who've been around the block a time or two will get a chuckle or five out of it.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

View all my reviews

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Darkest Day by Britt Bury

The Darkest Day (Immortal Heat, #1)The Darkest Day by Britt Bury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the blurb:

Izel Campbell was raised to believe she is an immortal Fionn with the magical skills of persuasion. But when she travels to Scotland to visit her ancestral home, Izel discovers that she is actually the world's last living human. Forced to run for her life, Izel crosses paths with Kelvin Kerr, the Campbells' greatest foe-and the most magnificent warrior she has ever seen.

A thousand-year-old battle chief of the Kerr clan, Kelvin lives only to avenge his father, who died at the hands of the bloody Campbells. Honor demands he kill the Campbell heir, but when he learns that the lovely Izel is both Campbell "and" human, Kelvin is torn between duty and desire . . .

HOLY COW!!! Britt Bury, you're my new favorite! HOT! HOT! HOT!

Are you ready for gushing? Here goes:

A stunning debut in the PNR genre, The Darkest Day delivers a mighty punch - I couldn't put this book down. And even though it's the first in what I hope is going to be an amazing series, it does not suffer from what many first books do - info dumping. Information trickles in as the book progresses, and fits the scenes in which it comes. Also, possible future characters are not endlessly introduced but merely mentioned, almost in passing. They serve a function in this book, but are not delved deeply into - only hints of their possible futures are given. The author skillfully weaves teasers of things to come into the main story, and what a story it is!!!

From the first moment, upon introduction to Izel Campbell and Kelvin Kerr, the story takes the reader on a wild ride, with witty and engaging dialogue, descriptive scenes, fighting, action and a love story that is almost too hot to handle. The UST was panty-damaging, and as the two main characters grow closer, yet fight their undeniable attraction, the heat between them almost had my poor Nook melting in my hands.

If you liked Kresley Cole's IAD series or J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood, this is the book for you. It's chockful of hot, dominant alpha male who's matched with a female that gives as good as she gets.

I adored both Kelvin and Izel - she is an amazing female lead, smart, sassy, witty and doesn't back down from a challenge. He is the ultimate alpha male, yet soft to the core when faced with his fated female, willing to lay down his life to protect her. Their romance is at the center of this book, going from mortal enemies to annoyed travel companions to lusting for each other to a love that burns everything in its wake. Even the drama is not for the sake of drama, but fits nicely into the story and is never overdone. Their verbal sparring was engaging and grin-inducing, and OMG, the love scenes!!! The chemistry between the two was utterly amazingly written, and I squirmed in my chair numerous times as they gave in to their passion.

It is by far the best PNR debut novel I've read in a long time, and I am salivating for the next installments of this series. I'd love to see what happens to Ian and Alistair and Ramsey, and yes, even Andrew.

Where do I sign up??

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley - thank you sooo much!

View all my reviews

Rosebloom by Christine Keleny

RosebloomRosebloom by Christine Keleny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the blurb:

Rose, a precocious young girl in 1930's Wisconsin, runs away from home to avoid going on to high school and what she sees as a certain path to marriage and motherhood. What she seeks is adventure. What she finds is much more.

Rose takes a job on the River boat "Capital," and is thrown in to the lives of the varied people and towns of the Mississippi, from Prairie du Chien to New Orleans.

"Rosebloom" takes place in a time in history that buffets Rose between the great depression and the coming wave of WWII. She gets herself into situations that test her reslove and teach her not only about herself but about the world of others, which she would have never known if she hadn't left her small farm in Southwest Wisconsin.

Rosebloom tells the story of Rose Krantz, a 16 yo girl growing up in southwest Wisconsin during the Depression. Knowing that her family is overburdened, she decides to run away from home to seek adventure. Upon signing up to work on a river boat, she begins to realize that the world she knows and the 'real' world are two different things.

The author skillfully weaves historical facts into her book, and it's easy to tell that a lot of research was done prior to writing this novel. I also found that Ms. Keleny took on some rather difficult subjects, such as racial tensions and prostitution, and handled them very realistically and very responsibly, yet managed to capture the voice of a young, naive girl whose optimism and genuine friendliness sets her apart from the people of her time.

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