Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why Buy the Cow? January's Free Reads

So, let's talk about the free reads that I knocked off of my Kindle for the month of January...

  1. You Don't Need a Doctor - Julia Talbot (downloaded for free from All Romance) very short -15 pages-ish - but enjoyable for what it was which was just a glimpse into a doctor's life when a shifter comes through the emergency room doors.
  2. Wrong Turn - Taylor Law (downloaded for free from All Romance) The first book in the Shenandoah Pack series, this short - around 45 or so pages - story was cute.  This was definitely a case of me wanting more from a story and I will be looking into further books in this series.  Jesse Rohan is on his way to visit a friend when he swerves to miss a white wolf sitting in the middle of the road.  His car ends up mostly off the road very close to the edge of a cliff.  While trying to get his rear wheels un-stuck from the mud, a deluge of rain and mud sweep him off the edge of the cliff.  The white wolf sees the mudslide and worried for the man who was driving the car that missed hitting him, goes to check to see if he got away safely.  Instead he finds Jesse buried in the mud...and realizes that Jesse is his mate.  There was a lot of story packed into these few pages which was both good (kept the pace quick) and bad (I felt that parts of the story could and should have been expanded upon).  
  3. A Year at 32 September Way - Mary Ylisela (downloaded for free from Amazon)  I got to about the 10% mark and decided this one wasn't for me.  It was well written, I just did not care for one of the main story lines.
  4. Wrecked - Elle Casey (review here)
  5. Wild Mustang Man - Carol Grace  (downloaded for free from Amazon)  I just did not care for the female lead so I deleted it at the 10% mark
  6. Wild Desire - Lori Brighton (review here - downloaded from Amazon)  I have to admit, I did not expect to like this one as much as I did...I used to be convinced that I would not like historical romance and then I read one, loved it, and proceeded to go on an 18 month historical romance binge.  That binge ended almost a year ago and I still find myself hesitating to pick up a historical simply due to overload.  However, I need to get past it because the past several historicals I have read, I have really enjoyed.  If I could simply stop telling myself what I will and will not like and simply read I would have a lot fewer problems!  Short story, long, I read it and I enjoyed it a lot.
  7. With This Kiss - Victoria Lynne (review here - downloaded from Amazon) I loved this one!
  8. Witchy, Witchy - Penelope King (downloaded for free from Amazon)  Tried this one, not my cuppa.  Deleted at the 10% mark (seems to be my magic number for deciding whether to keep or not).
  9. The Witch's Dream - Victoria Danaan (downloaded from Amazon)  I started this one, saw it was a sequel, found I had the first book - My Familiar Stranger and tried it...Loved the very beginning and then found it had a weird rhythm with random info-dumps and point of view changes.  The info-dumps didn't always answer the questions that I had I ended up deleting both of these books.
  10. Winter's Retribution (downloaded from Amazon)  I began this one and saw that it too was the second in a series.  However, I enjoyed it enough to download a sample of the first book to try.  I haven't gotten to it yet but hope to soon.  A keeper for now...
  11. Winter's Daughter -  Kathleen Creighton (downloaded from Amazon)  I liked the beginning of this book and then it began to feel like a social reform story more than a romance--not a problem but not what I was looking for.  It might have gotten better but with so many books in my Kindle queue I don't always stick around for the long haul...Deleted around the 15% mark.
  12. Wrangler Butts - Red DirtWriter (downloaded from Smashwords)  Could have been a fun story about two college guys (teaching assistants?) who work together and start to fall for each other...Instead poor grammar and an intense focus on the physical made this story much less than it could have been.  Great idea, poor execution.  I deleted it around the 10% mark.
  13. My First but Not My Last - Gavin E. Black (downloaded from Smashwords)  A very short read about Connor who is recovering after being dumped by his girlfriend and later picks up a hot DJ on the beach--a DJ named Jake.  Connor decides to take Jake up on his offer to go back to his place...and never regrets it.
  14. Beowulf and Roxie - Marisa Chenary (downloaded from All Romance Ebooks)  I almost decided to do a full review on this one but had just enough issues with it that I decided not to.  This book was choppy in parts creating an uneven rhythm.  Roxie is out with her friend Candice, at Candice's insistence, when she gains the attention of the hot bartender.  Later she stumbles in her heels and the bartender in question, Beowulf, saves her from a fall.  Beowulf was super alpha to the point that he would just sling Roxie over his shoulder and cart her where he wanted her to go.  Roxie lacks confidence at times but at others seems to have no problems getting in someone's face even when it is not a smart action to take.  There is a shifter storyline to this book and that led to a problem I had (and a potential spoiler, you have been warned): a wolf who thinks that Roxie is his reincarnated mate turns out to be her great, great, etc. grandfather...I found that to be, well, ew.  I finished this book because it was entertaining but at times it read somewhat like a train wreck.
  15. Wild Card - Moira Rogers (downloaded from Amazon)  This is the first in a series about Ginny, a rancher who values her independence but who has been given a hard time by some of the shifters in the area who have gone as far as vandalizing her fences and are beginning to scare her.  Local alpha, Jack, is interested in Ginny and very motivated in making sure those making her life miserable are shown the errors of their ways.  This was a short read but fun--very steamy.  
  16. A White Cougar Christmas - Eliza Gayle (downloaded from Amazon)  A short story about Niki, a white cougar shifter, who heads into a bar looking for action--and settles on a fight which is soon interrupted by Dean who is interested in showing her some action of a different sort.
  17. Wild Passion - Lori Brighton (downloaded from Amazon) The sequel to Wild Desire focusing on Colin's half sister Adelaide and a treasure hunter named James.  Really enjoyed this one.  It is a novella but tightly plotted and action packed with some great emotional scenes as well.
Woo-hoo!  Seventeen titles is a great start to 2013...I wonder what is in store for February?

Embarrassment of Riches January Up-Date

planetpooks is hosting the 2013 Embarrassment of Riches reading challenge.  The goal is to read books off of the TBR piles with a side challenge of finally following through on these sample digital downloads that so many of us having filling up our e-reading queues.  I am going to try for platinum (50+) level in both areas.  Let's see what kind of a start I made in 2013: 

TBR Books Read

  1. Branded by Fire - Nalini Singh
  2. Blaze of Memory - Nalini Singh
  3. Bonds of Justice - Nalini Singh
  4. Play of Passion - Nalini Singh
  5. Rescue My Heart - Jill Shalvis
  6. The Sweetest Thing - Jill Shalvis
  7. Head Over Heels - Jill Shalvis
  8. Opposites Attract - Anthology
  9. Wicked Appetite - Janet Evanovich
  10. Wicked Business - Janet Evanovich
  11. Wrecked - Elle Casey (ebook)
  12. With this Kiss - Victoria Lynne (ebook)
  13. Wild Desire - Lori Brighton (ebook)
  14. Wicked Gift - Sean Michael (ebook)
  15. Beowulf and Roxie - Marisa Chenary (ebook)
  16. Warrior's Cross - Madeline Urban and Abigail Roux (ebook)

Digital Samples Read
  1. Zero at the Bone - Jane Seville (bought and reviewed it here)
  2. Wyatt: Doc Holliday's Account of an Intimate Friendship - Dale Chase(added to maybe buy collection)
  3. Wrong Bed, Right Guy - Katee Robert (added to I Want to Buy collection)
  4. Widdershins - Jordan L. Hawk (bought and reviewed it here)

Not too bad!  Sixteen books off of the ole TBR pile and four more digital samples taken care of...reading those can get expensive as I usually want to buy them!  Oh's a great addiction to have.  I hope that later months are as successful as this one was.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville

Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville
Published by Dreamspinner Press, 2009

After witnessing a mob hit, surgeon Jack Francisco is put into protective custody to keep him safe until he can testify.  A hit man known only as D is blackmailed into killing Jack, when he tracks him down, his weary conscience won't allow him to murder an innocent man.  Finding in each other an unlikely ally, Jack and D are soon on the run from shadowy enemies.  Forced to work together to survive, the two men forge a bond that ripens into unexpected passion.  Jack sees the wounded soul beneath D's cold, detached exterior, and D finds in Jack the person who can help him reclaim the man he once was.  As the day of Jack's testimony approaches, he and D find themselves not only fighting for their lives...but also fighting for their future.  A future together.

This book is intense!  It took me several nights to read it (I so wanted to call in sick to work to finish it...but didn't...barely!) and oh, what a wonderful way to spend some evenings.  Jack witnesses a murder in a parking garage and soon finds himself in protective custody, waiting to go on the witness stand to put the Dominguez brothers away.  He loses everything--his life in Baltimore, his work as a surgeon that he has spent 14 hours in school to earn, his friends.  All gone as is life is put on hold to keep him safe.  One afternoon he comes into his safe house to find a stranger with a gun.  This is it--he's been found and is about to die.

D is a hit man with an interesting conscience.  He has built a vault in his mind that holds all of his emotions, tragedies from his past, horrors that he has witnessed, everything is kept locked up tight.  His handler offers him various hits but D has his own criterion for those that he accepts.  D would not have taken Jack's hit normally; Jack was a good guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.  However, D finds himself blackmailed into the job when his handler is beaten and a file of photos following D's activities from the last six months surfaces.  But when Jack walks into his apartment, D finds that he can't follow through with the hit.  He takes Jack on the run with him, trying to keep them both safe until he can find out exactly who he is trying to keep them safe from.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jack and D go from grudging acquaintances, to friends, to lovers and more.  Watching D learn to navigate his emotions and deal with issues that have been locked up tight for years was beautiful and, at times, painful.  Jack was so perfect for D...he was honestly curious about D but soon came to care and that caring was so evident.  Even when he was rebuffed he kept coming back, peeling away the layers to find the man hidden inside.  Jack is also dealing with a lot of heavy emotions as he comes to terms with all that he left behind and the realization that he might never get it back.  Together, D and Jack work through the many issues facing them and they are a couple that will stick with me for a very long time.  With all that they have gone through, their happily ever after isn't all bright and shiny--there are shadows, things that weigh on them and probably always will--and that reality makes me believe in it all the more.  

I have read that the author is working on a sequel for Jack and D...I will be first in line!

This book rates a 5/5.  

I purchased this ebook for my Kindle with my own funds. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk

Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk
Published by Author in 2012

Some things should stay buried.

Repressed scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has two skills: reading dead languages and hiding in his office at the Ladysmith Museum.  After the tragic death of the friend he secretly loved, he's ruthlessly suppressed his desire for another man.

So when handsome ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty approaches him to translate a mysterious book, Whyborne wants to finish the job and get rid of the detective as quickly as possible.  Griffin left the Pinkertons following the death of his partner, oping to start a new life.  But the powerful cult which murdered Glenn has taken root in Widdershin, and only the spells in the book can stop them.  Spells the intellectual Whyborne doesn't believe are real.  

As the investigation draws the two men closer, Griffin's rakish charm threatens to shatter Whyborne's iron control.  When the cult resurrects an evil sorcerer who commands terrifying monsters, can Whyborne overcome his fear and learn to trust?  Will Griffin let go of his past and risk falling in love?  Or will Griffin's secrets cost Whyborne both his heart and his life?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison

Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison
Published by Berkley, August 2011

During the rule of her murderous Dark Fae uncle, Thistle "Tricks" Periwinkle found sanctuary among the Wyr in New York.  Her ethereal beauty and sparkling personality won the hearts of the public, but after her uncle's death, there are those who don't want to see her ascend to the throne...

Able to wield thunder and lightning, Wyr sentinel Tiago Black Eagle has ruled the skies for centuries.  His massive build and thunderous power make him one of the Wyr's best weapons.  And he's the one sent to protect Tricks when she's almost assassinated in Chicago.  

Soon, both Tiago and Tricks will fall prey to the stormy hunger that engulfs them -- a passion that will shake the very foundation of all the worlds...

After reading Dragon Bound, I had no idea how Thea Harrison would be able to follow up with a sequel of equal measure...I mean Dragon Bound was so good!!!  But, I am so happy to say, that Storm's Heart is just as wonderful.  I have read this book a couple of times now and every, single time I marvel at the wonderful relationship that she builds between Tiago and Tricks.  The  two of them face seemingly insurmountable odds -- she's getting ready to ascend the Dark Fae throne and Wyr interference will not be tolerated.  He's been the head of armies that have been warring in the most volatile parts of the world for centuries and now he is a personal bodyguard to a 200 year old PR rep with a penchant for pink lipstick.

Tricks, now known by her given name, Niniane knows she is in trouble.  She is venturing into court intrigue not know who to trust and battling memories of her family's slaughter when she was 17 years old.  She is leaving behind all those she knows and loves, who have sheltered her for the past two centuries, knowing that their assistance at this time would be viewed as an imbalance of power not only to the Dark Fae but to all the demesnes.  Before she can even get back to the Other land, she is attacked in Chicago, an attack which is filmed and put on YouTube.  This film is seen by Tiago, and right or wrong, he is going to find her and protect her.  

I love watching the relationship between Tiago and Niniane evolve.  At times adversarial, and at others unbearably tender, the evolution was so heartfelt and real and I loved every minute of it.  We see not only their growth together, but also Niniane's growth as she develops into a ruler that will be able to handle bringing a fractured, and at times abused, society back to its potential.  She is figuring out who to trust, building alliances with other leaders, and finding out how far her uncle's treachery spreads.  Tiago, meanwhile, is working to find out who is behind the attacks on Niniane and is determined to protect her even if it means quitting his job as Drago's sentinel.  When he decides he is keeping Niniane, nothing will be allowed to stand in his way--not politics, not doubts, not threats--nothing.  All of his determination (and it is considerable) is focused on keeping her safe and keeping her in his life.  Watching him fall in love and discover all the layers that Niniane has was beautiful.  He had so much faith in her abilities and loved her strength but was there whenever she needed to lean on his.

This book rates a 5/5.  

This book is a part of my personal collection and was purchased with my own funds.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
Published by Berkley, May 2011

Half human and half Wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the Wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies.  But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful--and passionate--of the Elder Races.

As the most feared and respected of the Wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed.  And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they've ignited in each other. 

Pia knows she must repay Dragos for her trespass, but refuses to become his slave--although she cannot deny wanting him, body and soul...

Dragon Bound is such an amazing book!! I have read this book before, as well as the second, but wanted to re-read them both in preparation for getting caught up with the series.  I am so glad I revisited this book.  Wow, the world building that takes place in this story is fantastic but even it pales when compared to the characters that Thea Harrison created in Dragos, Pia, and the other Wyr who work for and with Dragos (oh, and can't forget Tricks!)  

Pia is having a really bad day--blackmailed by her ex-boyfriend who betrayed her in the course of some power games he was playing with some really bad people into committing a crime against Dragos Cuelebre--she knows her life isn't worth spit and that her best bet is to run hard and fast leaving everything and everyone she knows behind.  All her life, her mother had told her to hide who and what she was, and the one time she let something slip--to her bottom feeder ex--she just hopes she gets to live to regret it.  She heads to Charleston hoping that hiding in the midst of the Elven High Court might buy her some additional protection--Dragos would be breaking all kinds of treaties if he came into their lands without permission--something he is unlikely to be granted.

Dragos, being the fearsome predator that he is, in conjunction with his anger that anyone or anything would have the audacity to steal from him wastes no time in hunting Pia to ground.  But.  She isn't what he expected.  He finds himself amused, bemused, confused.  And he likes it.  After a couple of centuries of boredom, Pia is refreshing, unpredictable.  Not to mention resourceful which gets Dragos in a bit of trouble with the Elven High Council--this bit of trouble later compounds some much bigger trouble that Dragos and Pia get into when they are rather forcefully abducted by Goblins and taken into the Other land (pockets of land that are more magical but which don't support technological devices).  

And this is all within the first 100 pages.  The rest of the book continues to zoom forward at breakneck speeds as Pia strives to find her feet in this new life with Dragos and all that that entails.  Dragos is old and autocratic and yet with Pia, he really tries to meet her halfway--he's not afraid to bend and compromise and there was something so sexy and heartwarming about his efforts.  And the scene where he proposes?  and gives her the ring?  Hahahahahahaha!  So stinking funny and yet so perfect because while he is trying, he doesn't magically become perfect or even all that domesticated.  He can't undo his eons of existence and the ego that comes with being a head honcho for much of it.  

I loved the world that Thea Harrison created with all of its politics and intrigues.  It felt real and yet there were never any info-dumps.  All of the information was seamlessly woven in with the characters and their thoughts and actions.  This is an amazing book and if you have not read it, I sincerely urge you to do so.  If you have read it, pull it back out to revisit.  You won't regret it!

This book rates a 5/5.

This book is a part of my personal collection and was purchased with my own funds. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh

Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh
Published by Berkley, March 2009

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she is the best -- but she does not know if even she is good enough for this job.  Hired by the dangerously beautiful archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, Elena knows failure is not an option -- even if the task is impossible.

Because this time, it's not a wayward vamp she has to track.  It's an archangel gone bad.  

The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other -- and pull her to the razor's edge of passion.  Even if the hunt does not destroy her, succumbing to Raphael's seductive touch just might.  For when archangel's play, mortals break...

Elena Deveraux is a born hunter who is really good at what she does.  So good, that when the archangel Raphael needs the best, her name is the one that comes up.  Without further ado, he summons her and Elena does not have the option of dismissing or ignoring this summons.  Mortals who ignore the wishes of an archangel don't have rosy futures.  When Elena grudgingly meet with Raphael, the outcome is even worse than she thought it could or would archangel has gone bad and Raphael needs Elena's skills to track him.  

Elena has the ability to scent vampires.  Uram, the archangel who has been fallen prey to blood lust has developed his own sick, acrid scent, which Raphael can use Elena to track.  The archangels all control different areas of the world, with Raphael overseeing Manhattan and the surrounding areas.  His power is unquestionable, his wrath fierce, and his retribution swift and brutal when earned.  If word got out that archangels could succumb to this blood lust, it could have far-reaching and disastrous consequences so Raphael threatens the lives of all those that Elena holds dear if she tells what her task is for Raphael.  This, of course, does nothing to endear Raphael to Elena.  In fact, for much of the book, Elena and Raphael's relationship is very rocky and at times even contentious.  

The power imbalance between Raphael and Elena was very interesting--he seemed to hold all of the cards leaving Elena to suck it up and deal--and yet it never seemed as if Elena was completely helpless.  She is a very strong woman who has overcome something horrific in her past although only glimpses of the memory are given here and there.  This emotional strength supplemented her physical strength in a way that helped to keep the power imbalance from getting too far out of alignment.  The more Raphael was around Elena the more she would challenge him--something few mortals and immortals ever did.  Quite simply, Elena engaged Raphael's curiosity and then his respect.  As a fellow archangel told Raphael, she was making him a little bit human.

Uram, meanwhile, was a nasty piece of work.  Elena discovered a few kill sites and the descriptions were brutal--I cringed at times at the graphic nature of the writing during these scenes.  The seriousness of what would happen if Uram was not found and disposed of (something only another archangel could do) was clear--literally hundreds, if not thousands, of lives would be lost in the most brutal of bloodbaths and if enough time passed and Uram gained enough strength, he could get to a point where his demise might not be possible at all plunging the world into a blood bathed nightmare.   

The world building in this book was fabulous and the hierarchy of archangels, angels, vampires, humans, and hunters fascinating.  I am looking forward to another foray into this world.

This book rates a 5/5.  

I checked this book out from my local public library.

Friday, January 25, 2013

What I've Been Reading (Jan. 19 - Jan. 25)

This week I suffered from a head cold (okay, suffered might be a bit strong...I was more inconvenienced by it than anything else) and went to bed earlier than usual a few nights which might have affected the amount of reading I did this week.  However, I continue to have great book luck this year with some more great titles (and I got on a Kindle kick and was able to get through quite a few samples, freebies, and languishing titles that really needed to be read...only about 2,000 more to go...oh, dear.)  On to what I read: 

I started my week with Dream Eyes by Jayne Ann Krentz (review here).  I love Jayne Ann Krentz (and Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick)...she was one of my first major gloms as a romance reader and I fell in love with her work.  Her writing as Amanda Quick is what convinced me that I really did like historicals (although for a long time I convinced myself I didn't).  Now, I know that sometimes here books can read very similarly to each other but I don't care because I love them.  The last Krentz title that I really remember thinking was AMAZING was White Lies and while this one didn't live up to that one, I still really enjoyed it. The first chapter was fantastic and I zipped through this one in an afternoon.  It will definitely be going on my keeper shelf.  

Next up was Wrecked by Elle Casey.  This was one of my freebie downloads hiding out on my Kindle and I was so glad that I finally got to it.  I was sucked right in and really enjoyed all of the characters, some of whom started out somewhat stereotypical but none of whom stayed that way.  I have downloaded a sample of Reckless, the sequel and can't wait to to read it.  

With This Kiss by Victoria Lynne was a great historical featuring a Beauty and the Beast theme.    I reviewed this book here.

The Prince with No Heart is an erotic fairy tale written by Emma Holly.  Prince Augustin lives in Madrigal, a magical kingdom.  At birth he was cursed: robbed of his heart.  Another fairy tried to soften the blow with a "blessing," an "untiring sword."  Prince Augustin has found that both the blessing and the curse have both positive and negative effects on his life. Princess Violet has been spelled by a werewolf vying for her hand--he has fated her to suffer from insatiable desire.  Desperate not to succumb to the werewolf who terrorizes her people, she goes looking for a champion.  A meeting with a fairy nets her a plan (complete with magical objects) to gain the help of Prince Augustin.  I enjoyed this tale by Emma Holly and found it be a great length--about 120 pages--for the story being told.

Wild Desire by Lori Brighton (review here) was a fun, fast-paced adventure caper.  After finishing it, I went to Amazon to see other books in the series and was able to download Wild Passion (free at the time of this post), the third entry in the series.  A novella in length, this story captured the same spirit of adventure as Wild Desire.  Wild Passion features Adelaide, half sister to Colin from Wild Desire, who is after one of the statues being hunted so she can sell it to finance medical care for her mother.  Adelaide and her mother live in extreme poverty in Paris after Adelaide's mother fell for the wrong man and was cut off by her family.  Also after the statue is James, a treasure hunter who has his own shadows in his past.  I very much enjoyed James and wished at times this story had been expanded into novel form simply so I could spend more time with him.  

Wicked Gift by Sean Michael was a gift to myself while I was feeling poorly with my cold.  I discovered Sean Michael last year and have happily been working my way through his books ever since.  This is a newer title featuring a devoted couple, Kono and Alec.  Alec's roommate from college, Swan, is a Dom and Alec knows that Kono has sub fantasies that he would love to live out.  Alec loves to watch so he figures that a week with Alec will be the perfect gift for both himself and Kono.  What Alec doesn't expect is to have Swan recognize some of his own deeply repressed desires such as being made to submit.  Swan meanwhile has his own hopes that this week will show Alec and Kono how perfect he is for both of them and how much he wants them both in his life.  Watching these three men begin to see how much more this gift is giving all of them than they expected was beautiful.  Also refreshing was the value all three men placed on honest, up-front communication.  There was a lot at stake: love, commitment, friendships, trust, and every effort was made to protect those while also opening up avenues for growth and the potential for more.  Another winner by Sean Michael.  I am so glad that he produces new works quickly and consistently...I can never have enough of his storytelling!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: With This Kiss by Victoria Lynne

With This Kiss by Victoria Lynne
Published by Dell, 1999

Beauty and the beast--they were the scandal of the ton....

All eyes feasted on the beautiful flame-haired gambler in London's most infamous club.  But Julia Prentisse was interested only in the rake-turned-recluse whom they now called "The Beast."  She lured him out of the crowded club to a deserted warehouse, where she made her scandalous offer: If he married her and protected her from her uncle, she would help him find the arsonist who had ruined his life.

An act of heroism had left Morgan burned, scarred for life.  But Julia's bold gaze lit other fires he had long suppressed.  And now this glorious stranger was his bride.  But when he tried to claim his husbandly rights, she demanded a three months grace--three months to know a stranger's mind, to touch a stranger's soul, to go where no woman had ever gone before.  Into his lonely heart...With This Kiss.  (Summary from

I downloaded this book for free from Amazon in July of 2012.  I read it this past weekend and shook my head at yet another fabulous read that has been sitting on my Kindle, unread, for so long.  See, I have a small (okay, large) problem.  I am addicted to downloading free books from Kindle (so many of them turn out to be so good!) which means that my reading queue on the Kindle is sitting at a couple thousand books (and/or short stories and samples).  That in turn means that while I might be really excited about a story line when I download the book, it quickly gets lost in the masses.  I literally sat down this past weekend and started from the last book (alphabetically by title) on my Kindle and began working my way towards the front.  I didn't get very far in terms of numbers but I did finally read some great books including this one.

The blurb on this book is excellent and does a great job setting up the story so I will simply fill in a bit...Beatrice needs out from under her Uncle's thumb as he is getting ready to marry her off to one of three very poor choices in men.  He has two daughters of his own that we wants to find good matches for and Beatrice is in the way (plus, she has some scandal attached to her name due to smuggling on her father's part).  Beatrice has also been receiving letters from Lazarus, the arsonist who terrorized London a few years ago killing some and injuring others, including Morgan.  Beatrice knows that he has a vested interest in seeing Lazarus stopped and so offers him a proposal so outrageous that she is surprised when he actually accepts. 

Morgan has retreated from life since the fire that left him scarred both physically and mentally.  Beatrice engages his interest in a way that not many things have in a long time.  He agrees to her plan and they are married.  He wants an heir and to make sure Lazarus is dead and Beatrice can help him with both...but first she will turn his world inside out (for the better).  Beatrice writes a very popular column, The Tattler, that blends in the need for societal reforms in with gossip of the ton.  One of the first times Morgan really gets to spend some time with his new wife is when she goes "undercover" to get information for her column.  She insists he dress as a chimney sweep and they go off to the stews.  Morgan's eyes are opened a little bit to the true depths of his wife that day (although he is also shown first hand some of the dangers that she has courted as well).  

Morgan and Julia's relationship grows slowly but steadily as they both want to work at their marriage--Julia wants love and Morgan wants a child to love with a mother that he can respect and enjoy being married to.  Watching them both let go of some of their protections and open up to each other was beautiful and I felt the author did a spectacular job of showing, not telling this growth.  The identity of Lazarus, who begins increasingly frequent attacks, was a surprise to me as I had fallen for some red herrings.  The conclusion of the book was satisfying and there was an epilogue which some might find to be "too sweet" but which I thoroughly enjoyed.  

I rate this book a 4.5/5.

Review: Wild Desire by Lori Brighton

Wild Desire by Lori Brighton
Published by Zebra, 2011

First He Drove Her Mad
In what feels like a moment, Beatrice Edmund goes from being a proper lady cooped up in a stuffy Scottish castle to traveling miles from anything she's ever known, in the midst of the wildest adventure of her life.  And at the center of that adventure is the most infuriating, puzzling scoundrel on Earth. She cannot take her eyes off him.

Then He Drove Her Wild
Colin Fitch cannot deny he's drawn to Beatrice--but lust is all he could possibly feel for the sharp-tongued minx.  Still, if there's a chance she can help him stop the madman he pursues, he must withstand her obvious disapproval.  Yet withstanding the longing he feels for her is growing more troublesome by the second...And Colin has never been terribly good at staying out of trouble...  (Summary from

I downloaded this title for free from Amazon in 2011 and finally got around to reading it. I am so glad I did!  This was such a fun book...although there were times I could definitely tell it was part of a series and I didn't have the whole back story.  Beatrice has lived in a Scottish castle with her grandmother for years with no friends, feeling like an outcast, never stepping a toe out of line.  Now she is in India with her cousin Leo and his wife, Ella and Ella's cousin Colin.  Colin could not be more different from Beatrice.  He's an American who thrives on adventure and can't quite figure out why Leo would want his stuffy cousin along on this one.  

There are some paranormal elements to this book that I thoroughly enjoyed even when I did not thoroughly understand who exactly could do what.  I do know that Colin has the ability to heal the sick and injured although it drains him physically and mentally to do so.  Ella seemed to have an affinity for animals and Leo and Beatrice's blood is needed to help in the finding of statues that have something to do with the future of the world.  Even with some lingering questions in my mind, I zipped through this book, laughing out loud along the way.

Colin is a fabulous character and parts of this book definitely reminded me (at least in spirit) of Loretta Chase's Mr. Impossible.  Beatrice and Colin find themselves attracted to each other for reasons they can neither name nor comprehend but as they spend more time together and see new facets of each others' personalities mutual respect is established.  That is not to say that there are not still times when one would have cheerfully throttled the other (and in fact, Beatrice firmly put Colin in his place at one point rather than acting like a wounded-woe-is-me-he-done-me-wrong victim).  

This is definitely a road-trip book as Beatrice and Colin travel (and at times are chased) all over India in search of temples and hidden statues.  I enjoyed the setting as it is not one I have read a lot of.  There was also mention of riots on the part of some of the native Indians against the Brits and I thought it added some great tension to the story.  I need to go back now and find the first book in this series to see what I missed out on!

This book rates a 4/5.

Review: Wrecked by Elle Casey

Wrecked by Elle Casey
Self-Published by Author

An ill-fated Caribbean cruise and four teenagers: a nerd, a jock, a mouse, and a beauty island, a treehouse, some nefarious and death...fear and and laughter.  Follow Jonathon, Kevin, Candi, and Sarah as they find their typical high school lives and their worlds totally Wrecked.

(Summary from

This was a free download from at some point and I finally got around to reading it...and now I wish I hadn't waited.  I really enjoyed this YA adventure/romance story.  Two families are going on a cruise, Sarah and Kevin's father is desperate to get his hands on an invention created by Jonathon and Candi's father.  There are some applications of this invention that could bring in big money in some shady dealings.  Sarah has no interest in going on this cruise, she wants to stay home and spend time with her boyfriend, Barry...until she finds him in a compromising situation with Gretchen, Sarah's brother's girlfriend.  Even with this setback to her plan, Sarah is not crazy about spending time with Jonathon or Candi, neither of whom are in Sarah's social circles.  To further complicate matters, there is no love lost between Sarah and her father who are locked in a cold war with each other.  Kevin isn't crazy about the idea of the cruise either but figures that free buffets and cruise chicks can't be all bad.  

Meanwhile, Jonathon and Candi have their own reservations about the cruise.  Jonathon is fairly socially awkward.  Candi has long yearned to be in Sarah's social circle and hopes to use the cruise to develop a friendship with her...and if she happens to catch the eye of Kevin, the recipient of her crush for the past two years, so much the better.  Things get off to a rough start on the way to the cruise itself, however, when the four teenagers realize they have been assigned rooms next-door to each other, things begin to change.  Kevin realizes that there is more to Jonathon than he first gave him credit for, and Candi begins to see glimpses of a nice girl hidden deep under Sarah's careless attitude and sarcastic comments.  

Before these new friendships can be completely cemented in place, a storm arises causing damage to the cruise ship...The four teens, the only ones who board their lifeboat when  the alarm sounds, are cast adrift in severe weather with rogue waves and the few supplies they were able to gather (at Jonathon's level-headed insistence).  Eventually, and not without some mishaps, the four teens wash ashore an island and then the real work begins.  Each of them have to come to terms with their new reality and none of them remain unchanged.  The relationships that develop between them, both familial and romantic, felt realistic and unrushed. The evolution of their characters into who they are when all of the trappings are stripped away felt realistic and fair.  None of the characters suddenly became perfect nor were their lives easy although I was amazed at how well they managed to survive considering their backgrounds before the cruise.  

I very much enjoyed this book and felt the author did a great job of balancing humor and action.  There were times when parts of the book felt a little predictable but it did not lessen my enjoyment of it in any way.  I was excited to see a sequel, Reckless, available at Amazon.  I have downloaded a sample and have a hunch that I will be sucked back into the world created by Elle Casey before long.  

This book rates a 4.5/5.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Review: Dream Eyes by Jayne Ann Krentz

Dream Eyes by Jayne Ann Krentz
Published by Penguin, Jan. 2012

Gwen Frazier is no stranger to ghosts.  She sees them in pools of water, windows, mirrors--any reflective surface--at the scene of violent deaths.  But finding justice for the dead is something she's not trained to do and a luxury she can't afford.  What pays the bills is her work as a psychic counselor who sees auras and interprets dreams. 

The death of her friend and mentor, Evelyn Ballinger, brings Gwen back to the small town of Wilby , Oregon, and brings back memories she would rather forget.  Two years ago, a killer stalked the members of one of Ballinger's research studies--including Gwen.  She survived, but two others didn't, though the deaths were attributed to natural causes.  The apparent suicide of the killer closed the case, yet Gwen knows otherwise.  And now, she's a suspect.

Enter Judson Coppersmith--a man of startling power and disturbing energy.  Sent by a friend to help Gwen, the psychic investigator arrives in Wilby barely in control of his own talent and his own life, haunted by urgent dreams.  His attraction to Gwen is primal, but there are secrets he must keep to protect himself from surrendering to her completely.

As their investigation into deaths past and present draws them ever closer to danger, Gwen finds herself going too far--into dreamscapes, into decades of deception, and into the fires of a desire too strong to resist...

The first chapter of Dream Eyes sucked me right in...It was like reading old-school Jayne Ann Krentz and I loved it.  Locked in an underwater cavern whose entrance has been blocked, Judson Coppersmith is desperately trying to survive a cavern system that has claimed countless lives.  He is running short on air, has a dead flashlight, and is not at all sure he will come out is a roller-coaster ride of a chapter.  From there we are dropped into Gwen Frazier's point of view as she converses with the ghost of her dead mentor.  The sheriff is not thrilled to get a call from Gwen saying she has found a dead body--after all, she has called him in that situation before, at least twice.  

Gwen is left with Evelyn's, her murdered mentor's, estate--part of which is a very large cat named Max.  Between trying to find out why Evelyn was murdered, determining if this murder tied into those from two years before, and deciding what to do with Evelyn's estate, Gwen is feeling rather frazzled and in need of help.  Judson Coppersmith to the rescue.  Now that Gwen's best friend and pseudo-sister Abby is marrying Judson's brother Sam, Judson is the perfect candidate to lend a hand.  It also doesn't hurt that Judson's family are extremely concerned about his well-being after a consulting job that went fatally wrong and hope that helping Gwen will get him out of his funk.  

I very much enjoyed the interactions between Gwen and Judson, along with glimpses into how Abby and Sam are doing.  We see more of Judson and Sam's dad, Elias, and Abby and Gwen's "brother" Nick who really would have made a world-class jewel thief.  Using clues that Gwen and Judson discover in one of Evelyn's mysterious inventions, along with the help of Nick and the Coppersmith family, the mysterious events slowly begin to merge into a modern day murder scheme with ties to the past.  

I enjoyed Jayne Ann Krentz's latest work although the majority of the book did not quite live up to the amazing first chapter for lost some of its steam at times and I felt that the ending was a little convoluted for my tastes, but I did enjoy Gwen and Judson.  I really loved seeing more of Nick and would love for him to get a book all his own.  There were also quite a few mentions of Gideon Barrett, the son of Elias Coppersmith's rival, and I wonder if he might end up being paired up with the last Coppersmith offspring, Emma.  I have a feeling there is more to the Barretts than we have been let in on at this point.   

This book rates a 4/5.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What I've Been Reading (Jan. 12 - Jan. 18)

Man, oh man, 2013 has been good to me book-wise so far.  I have read some excellent titles and am really anticipating a wonderful year in literature land.  Let's see what I read this week:

I started the week off with Tangle of Need which I thoroughly enjoyed (see my review here).  This title may end up being one of my favorites in the series; I have really spent a lot of time thinking about this entry in the Psy/Changling series since I finished the book.  Riaz and Adria were wonderful characters who dealt with some very serious situations in a way that left me feeling both empathetic and satisfied.  Nalini Singh is a goddess and I have got to get started on the Guild Hunters series.  

Next up were two short stories from an anthology called Opposites Attract that I read for my TBR January Challenge.  I enjoyed them both but probably won't reread them.

Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood was a pleasant surprise as I have read mixed reviews about this one in blog-land.  I enjoyed this book quite a bit (see my review here) and am looking forward to reading about the other pipsqueaks.  

Trust Me on This by Jennifer Crusie (review here) was fantastic!! I picked up The Cinderella Deal at the library when I saw in on the shelf...I can't believe there are so many of her older titles that I haven't read.  I am thinking I might need to go on a Crusie binge...I have tried Bet Me before but didn't enjoy it.  However, I must be missing something based on the rave reviews I see everywhere.  

Alpha One by Cynthia Eden was a fun, fast read and I already have Guardian Ranger on hold at my public library.  I very much enjoyed Eden's foray into the Harlequin Intrigue line and hope she writes many more.  I will gladly pick up any that I see if they continue to be as enjoyable as Alpha One proved to be. (review here)

Impact by Tiffinie Helmer is the third book I have read in her Wild Men of  Alaska series.  Skip Ozhuwan and Wren Terni have a strained history--she used drugs to escape a harsh reality and Skip pressed charges after a drunken assault.  His testimony put her in jail rather than on probation.  They haven't spoken in five years until now when Skip's sister, who happened to be Wren's best friend growing up, insists on having them both attend her wedding.  Wren and Skip have to fly together on a bush plane to get to the small Alaskan town where the wedding will take place. On the way, the pilot has a heart attack and the plane goes down.  Skip and Wren must not only find a way to survive the harsh Alaskan climate, but Skip is also determined to use this forced togetherness to get Wren to see the potential for them finally having the kind of relationship she wasn't strong enough to have before.  First love is powerful, but so was the hurt both suffered at the hands of the person who loved them.  This was a short story but I very much enjoyed it.

Lastly I read Wicked Appetite and Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich (reviews here and here).  Lots of over-the-top everything in this book but I ate it up with a spoon and was left wanting more!  

I can't wait to see what fabulous books are in store for me this week (hint, I was super excited to see a copy of Jayne Ann Krentz's newest, Dream Eyes, on the 7-Day Checkout table at my library this morning!)   

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich

Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich
Published by Bantam Books, 2012

Lizzy Tucker's once normal life as a pastry chef in Salem, Massachusetts, turns upside down as she battles both sinister forces and an inconvenient attraction to her unnaturally talented but off-limits partner, Diesel.

When Harvard University English professor and dyed-in-the-wool romantic Gilbert Reedy is mysteriously murdered and thrown off his fourth-floor balcony, Lizzy and Diesel take up his twenty-year quest for the Luxuria Stone, an ancient relic believed by some to be infused with the power of lust.  Following clues contained in a cryptic nineteenth-century book of sonnets, Lizzy and Diesel tear through Boston catacombs, government buildings, and multimillion-dollar residences.  On their way they'll leave behind a trail of robbed graves, public disturbances, and general mayhem.

Treasures will be sought and the power of lust will be unmistakable as Lizzy and Diesel attempt to stay ahead of Diesel's black sheep cousin Gerewulf, his medieval minion, Hatchet, and a dark devotee of chaos known only as Anarchy--all involved in an ancient game of twisted riddles and high-stakes hide-and-seek.

Whew!  Another winner by Janet Evanovich.  I went into this book expecting funny antics and lots of action and boy, did I get both.  It is October when news of the Luxuria stone and a man who has been on its trail surface...when the man in question is found thrown from his fourth floor apartment with a burned hand print on his neck.  While the hand print points to Wulf, the messiness with which the man was dispatched does not leaving Diesel and Lizzie unsure of who or what is responsible.  

Soon Lizzie and Diesel (and Glo and Carl) are on the trail of a string of clues that lead them all over Salem, Boston, and Cambridge.  Hatchet, with his sword in hand, is devotedly serving Wulf and doing all he can to prove his worth but generally is proving to be a big nuisance (although there was one incident in this book that made me view Hatchet much differently).  Wulf continues to enigmatically and unexpectedly show up and Lizzie continues to feel a pull towards him.  We also see another side to Wulf in this book and I felt he was a more sympathetic least for now.  

Carl continued to amuse and there is something to his character...he is too "human" to be just a monkey.  I am curious to see what develops with his story.  Glo also continued to crack me up--she wants to be a wizard so badly and her spells that go awry provide some great humor.  Poor Clara though.  I felt that her employees were always leaving her for this reason or that and then she gets physically injured!  But that wasn't as bad as it could have been, I believe that at least one house, one store, and two cars burned to a crisp in this book.  Yikes!

This book rates a 4.5/5

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich
Published by St. Martin's Press, 2010

Life in Marblehead has had a pleasant predictability, until Diesel arrives.  Rumor has it that a collection of priceless ancient relics representing the Seven Deadly Sins have made their way to Boston's North Shore.  Partnered with pastry chef Lizzie Tucker, Diesel bullies and charms his way through historic Salem to track them down--and his criminal mastermind cousin Gerewolf Grimorie.  The black-haired, black-hearted Wulf is on the hunt for the relic representing gluttony.  Caught in a race against time, Diesel and Lizzie soon find out that more isn't always better, as they battle Wulf and the first of the deadly sins.  

(Summary from

This book is such a great time!! I loved it!  Lizzie has recently inherited a house from her Great Aunt Ophelia which she loves although it needs more work than her bank account can sustain.  She works in a bakery, Dazzle's, in Salem with two great gals, Clara and Glo.  Glo is attracted to the possibility of  magic, has recently purchased a spell book, and always follows her whims which leads Lizzie into being the recipient of first a one-eyed cat named Cat 7143 and later a monkey named Carl.  I really liked Clara but I loved Glo--she is definitely the type of friend who brings adventure into your life (whether you want it or not!).

Lizzie first encounters Wulf, when he beckons to her at the bakery and when she goes out to meet him, takes her hand in his, places a fingertip to the back of it, and leaves a blister-burn mark.  Then he takes off.  Not too long after that Diesel turns up...and then never really leaves.  Lizzie isn't too sure that she believes Diesel when he tells her that she is an Unmentionable who can feel the power of enchanted objects.  And that he needs her help to find the stones in which the seven deadly sins have been housed.  First up is the Gluttony Stone which has been divided into pieces and given as part of an inheritance to various members of the More family.  Diesel needs Lizzie to help him find the enchanted objects which make up the missing stone. 

The various ways in which gluttony are represented are very creative and the way that Lizzie reacts when she is too near the charms had me laughing out loud.  Janet Evanovich has a way with zippy dialogue and hilariously funny one-liners and I very enthusiastically turned the pages of this book way past the time I should have turned the lights out and gone to sleep.  I especially enjoyed the shopping trip to the grocery store with Diesel, Lizzie and Carl, the monkey, who they tried to pass off as a very hairy child.  Oh, and when Glo found a broom that she was convinced she could spell to fly--hee, hee, hee!

I was never so thankful to have a sequel than when I reached the last page of Wicked Appetite...I immediately pulled out Wicked Business--be watching for a review of it soon!

This book rates (a very enthusiastic) 5/5.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

TBR Challenge Review: Opposites Attract an Anthology

For January's TBR Challenge, hosted by Wendy at The Misadventure's of Super Librarian, the theme was: We Love Short Shorts.  I looked through the old treasure trove that is my TBR shelf and found an anthology, Opposites Attract featuring stories by Lynn Kurland, Elizabeth Beverly, Emily Carmichael, and Elda Minger.

I ended up reading two of the four stories and enjoying them both. On to what I thought...

Icing on the Cake by Lynn Kurland
Published by Jove, July 2000

He's a writer working on his new novel, and baking wedding cakes on the side.  She's an Alaskan wilderness buff more experienced at fending off grizzlies than men.  But she's about to discover the joy of coming in from the cold.

Sam has left behind his large trust fund to follow his dreams of writing and cooking.  He is renting a cabin in Alaska and has become known as the go-to guy for wedding cakes. 

Sydney is tired, mud-spattered, and just wants to sleep in her own bed when she discovers that her new roomie is not a her, but a him.  After a less-than-stellar first meeting, Sam and Sydney settle into compromise.

Soon, however, Sam is seeing something in Sydney that no one else sees and he wants to figure out how to convince her that he is just what she needs.  Sydney, determined to become the woman she thinks Sam wants, tries to become everything she isn't.  While a simple conversation would probably have solved a lot of problems (and cut the page count by quite a bit), I still enjoyed this story and was entertained.  There was one bit towards the end that was not my cuppa that was used to drive the characters apart before finally letting them come together but overall it was a fine read.  

This story rates a 3/5.

Pride and Prejudice by Emily Carmichael
Published by Jove, July 2000

A double-booked hotel room during a prestigious show pits a cartoonist and her pet Papillon with an award winning Border Collie.  What ensues is a sexy battle of wills.  And it's winner takes all...

Josie is a cartoonist who features her pet Papillon, Priss, in a comic strip that is run in some of America's most well-known newspapers.  Scott trains dogs in obedience and herding, using his own Border Collie, Iowa, as an example of what dogs can do with proper training.  When these two are double-booked in the same hotel room, they have no idea the big changes that are coming into their lives. 

Josie is go-with-the-flow, finds the humor in everything and has some issues with organization.  Scott is disciplined, orderly, and uses obedience championships as an opportunity to gain new business.  Josie enters Priss in the "beauty pageant" half of dog shows for larks.  The dialogue between these two (as well as the internal monologues featuring their thoughts of each other) was a lot of fun.  Another cute feature to this story, is that of having Priss and Iowa take turns sharing their perspectives of their own developing relationship as well as the stealthy ways they work to get their humans together.

This story rates a 3.5/5.

I enjoyed participating in this month's TBR Challenge theme and am already looking forward to February: Recommended Read.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review: Alpha One by Cynthia Eden

Alpha One by Cynthia Eden
Published by Harlequin: Harlequin Intrigue # 1398

"Julie's Missing.  You have to get her back."

The minute he got the message, undercover agent Logan Quinn sprang into action.  Getting Juliana James out of Mexico alive was the Elite Ops covert agent's only priority.  But once the senator's daughter was safely back in their Mississippi hometown, Logan had a new mission: to get another chance with the woman he couldn't lose again. 

Juliana had never forgotten the day, ten years ago, when Logan left her heart in pieces.  Now he was back in her life, sworn to protect her from the ruthless weapons dealer who wanted her dead.  As passion blindsided her--Julie realized how much she'd risk for one more day in Logan's arms.

Cynthia Eden has written a tightly plotted, fast-paced, humdinger of a romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.  Julie is being held somewhere in Mexico after being kidnapped from the beach--her only lifeline is a fellow prisoner who has helped keep her sane with whispered conversations through the days and nights.  She is waiting for the day when they don't come for John but instead take her.  She has listened to the screams and wonders how long until it is her turn and if she will ever get out...

Logan has always tried to protect Julie and nothing is going to change that now.  He's brought his team to Mexico to get Julie back from the madman, El Diablo, who is connected to Julie's father and who will do anything to get Julie back.  Along with his team, Logan will do what needs to be done to protect Julie, although if he could figure out a way to use her to lure in El Diablo, he wouldn't be adverse to the idea.  After all, he would be right there to protect her...

I enjoyed the interactions between Logan and Juliana.  Juliana, in particular, was very level-headed.  She was caught off guard at various times by either events or information that changed how she viewed her history with Logan and/or his motivations in helping her in the present.  And yet, she never used these occasions as a reason to go haring off on her own or otherwise act out of character.  Instead, she focused on the big picture and tried to control what she could while figuring out how to live with the rest until a time came when she was safe and could then deal with the rest.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the February release of Guardian Ranger which will feature one of Logan's team mates.  

This book rates a 4.5/5