Friday, January 30, 2015

Birthday Month Reading Challenge: Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

The first time Julia Beckett saw Greywethers she was only five, but she knew it was her house.  And now that she's at last become its owner, she suspects that she was drawn there for a reason.

As if Greywethers were a portal between worlds, she finds herself transported into seventeenth-century England, becoming Mariana, a young woman struggling against danger and treachery, and battling a forbidden love.

Each time Julia travels back, she becomes more enthralled with the past...until she realizes Mariana's life is threatening to eclipse her own, and she must find a way to lay the past to rest or lose the chance for happiness in her own time.

I loved the beginning of this book and was happily ensconced on my couch with blankets and pillows reading about a woman who has crossed paths with the same house three times, the third time in a most fortunate set of circumstances culminating in her becoming the owner.  Julia was a great character, someone I would enjoy knowing and calling a friend.  The people of her small village welcome her with open arms (after the local barkeep lets it be known that she is an illustrator of children's books because Julia being an artist had caused a bit of a ruckus and people were waiting to see how eccentric she would be).  Her brother, a vicar, lives relatively nearby.  She meets the handsome owner of a nearby manor and all is well.  Until the visions begin.

Julia begins having visions in which she travels back to the 17th century and becomes Mariana, a young lady whose parents die of the plague and who is sent to live with her uncle and his family.  Said Uncle is a religious zealot of the worst kind and his wife is little more than a body containing a dying soul as he has no kind words or thoughts for anybody.  His sister-in-law also lives there and she is a friend to Mariana.  Julia has no way to control her actions while she is in the past, what Mariana does, so does Julia in the present day which leads to worry and concern.  Julia doesn't want people to see her wandering around like a loony, or worse accidentally walk off a cliff or something.  (I must say, I loved this aspect of the story--about how she truly worried about how to keep herself safe while she is so out of it, and the considerations she had to take into account on behalf of this strange behavior.)  Not sure what to do, she tells her brother about what is going on.  Surprisingly, after a bit he believes her and helps her research reincarnation and tries to find out what he can about Mariana and others that lived with and around her.

It was at this point that I started to feel distanced from the story.  I enjoyed it, but I felt that it became too heavily mired in the past.  I wanted more present day happenings.  But I stuck with it and pretty soon, the past and present started to wrap more closely together so that all I wanted to do was turn the pages to see how it would all end up.  The closer the end came, the less likely it seemed like it could turn out happily for Mariana.  I was nervous, I won't lie.  And then.  Then the past concluded and Julia (and I) knew what had happened.  And I was content with the way things turned out with Mariana.  It made sense.  But the way the author chose to end the story with Julia???  I was not happy about that AT ALL!!  

Caveat: Okay.  Time for  complete honestly...I peeked ahead at the ending when I was about 33% through the book.  I don't do this often...maybe once out of every 30-40 books that I read but sometimes I want to know if I should stick with a book or not.  The ending intrigued me.  I wanted to know how Julia, who was in one place at 33% got to the place where she was at the end of the book.  As I kept reading, I wondered when the journey to that particular end would start to happen.  Answer?  Well, I don't want to get into spoiler territory, but let me say that if I had not read ahead and had instead been blindsided with that ending I would have been BEYOND MAD!! Even knowing it was happening, the way it happened was still majorly unsettling.  I still wonder what happened to one particular character who was left completely dangling out there and who is in for one heck of a surprise if he ever makes it back to town.  The ending to this story absolutely killed it for me.  I am undecided if I want to give the author another chance or not.  The writing was great, but the trust is gone.  

Susanna Kearsley's b-day is Jan. 17 (according to Google)

Reading Challenges
Birthday Month Reading Challenge
Literary Pickers
105 Challenge
A to Z Authors
Around the World Challenge
Full House
I Love Library Books
New to You

I borrowed this book from my local public library.

2015 Reading Assignment Challenge: The Chilling Deception by Jayne Castle

The Chilling Deception by Jayne Castle

GUINEVERE JONES -- Besides being brainy, brave, and beautiful, she had an uncanny way with people. From the moment she found the gold gun in the mauve-and-black marble executive washroom, she knew Mr. Vandyke was in serious trouble. 

ZACHARIAH JUSTIS -- Only the promise of a wild weekend cavorting with Guinevere in the wintry San Juan Islands convinced him to come along to provide security for Vandyke Development. 

But it was business before pleasure when events brought them face-to-face with chilling danger and a dead man determined to avenge the past.

The blurb does a great job bringing you up to speed on this book.  Gwen is temping as Mr. Vandyke's personal assistant and he needs her to accompany him to a meeting in which he is hoping to make a deal on behalf of his company.  However, Gwen has noticed that Mr. Vandyke has been acting nervously and she has answered several calls from his wife that has made her suspect that more is going on than she knows.  So, she convinces Mr. Vandyke that he needs to hire Zac as a guard for the weekend conference.  Zac reluctantly agrees and the three of them are off.  

Zac decides that he can use the weekend to his advantage by spending more time with Gwen, maybe even sharing a room.  This plan is immediately derailed and on the first day, anything that can get in the way of this goal, does.  In addition, there is a smooth-talking pilot, a mysterious shadowy figure following Mr. Vandyke at night, and a past that is fast catching up with one or more of the people involved in the weekend conference.  Gwen and Zac take turns being unsure about where they are in their relationship and all in all you have a rocky weekend that ends somewhat differently than anyone planned.

I enjoyed this second installment in the Guinevere Jones series although not as much as the first.  I felt that it lacked something to tie it all together, it was a little far-fetched that all of the pieces would culminate the way that they did.  However, I enjoyed it enough to continue with the series (two of which are assigned reading for the challenge in February).  

Reading Challenges
Reading Assignment
Literary Pickers
Prequels and Sequels 
Reading Roadtrip
Romantic Suspense
Full House
What's In A Name
I Love Library Books

I borrowed this book from my local public library.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

2015 Reading Assignment Challenge: The Desperate Game by Jayne Castle

The Desperate Game by Jayne Castle

It's hard to keep a small business afloat--just ask Guinevere Jones, owner of a struggling temp agency.  And security consultant Zac Justis isn't making life any easier.  After he blackmails Gwen into helping him solve a computer crime, she finds herself caught in a web of suspense, danger, and love.

Gwen is an amazing character--she is a small business owner and she works hard to keep her business going, even when it means filling in on some of the temp jobs her agency takes on when her small work staff can't make it.  One such job finds Gwen as a waitress at a yuppie bar (this book was published in the 80's) where she sees a man who in her words is ugly and squatting and so she calls him Frog. Frog is in fact Zachariah Justis, the male romantic lead.  Zac has been hired by StarrTech to find out who is stealing from the company--materials are getting rerouted during shipping and the discrepancy in units being shipped vs. units being delivered has recently been found thanks to a new computer program designed by a programmer at StarrTech.  Zac, who has recently started his security consulting business, really needs to be able to resolve this satisfactorily for his client to help get his fledgling business off the ground.  

Gwen, meanwhile, has had interactions with StarrTech that leave her open to blackmail which Zac has no problems using if it means getting what he needs from her.  Gwen is a people person and Zac wants to use this to his advantage believing that the programmers at StarrTech will speak openly around her and she will be able to pass useful information on to him.  What Gwen actually finds out is that the programmer who discovered the inventory problem is now missing, his friend is worried as they were developing a game that would allow them to do what they really love, and that Zac is still a Frog...even after a few kisses.  

I enjoyed The Desperate Game quite a bit;  Zac is a great hero in the fact that he is not an obvious hero.  He is the owner of a new and struggling company, he has been called the Glacier because he is not at all impulsive but rather thinks about everything deeply and thoroughly.  He is determined to succeed but wants to know all the connections between all the clues he and Gwen dig up before he makes a move to do anything else.  Gwen on the other hand is more of a social person and has no problems making intuitive leaps and then waits impatiently for Zac to decide if he agrees or not.  She dives into situations that might get her into trouble while Zac seems to be the ultimate boy scout.  Except, he wasn't quite expecting Gwen and that right there is what works so well about this book.  

Reading Challenges
Reading Assignment Challenge
Genre Decades Reading Challenge
Alphabet Soup
Reading Roadtrip
Romantic Suspense
Full House
I Love Library Books

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What I Read, Week of January 22-28

What I Read, Week of January 22-28

  1. Love Under Two Wildcatters by Cara Covington
  2. Bear's Pup by Bellann Summer
  3. Jack's Sweets by Bellann Summer
  4. Damian's Treble by Bellann Summer
  5. Leo's Pet by Bellann Summer
  6. Commander's Spitfire by Bellann Summer
  7. Gabriel's Pretty by Bellann Summer
  8. Tyler's Transformation by Bellann Summer
  9. Xavi's Wild Ride by Bellann Summer
  10. The Farmer Takes the Cook and the Foreman
  11. Paulie's Protector by Bellann Summer
  12. Blackmailed by Annmarie McKenna
  13. The Desperate Game by Jayne Castle
  14. The Chilling Deception by Jayne Castle
  15. The Beast in Him by Shelly Laurenston
  16. The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston
  17. Beast Behaving Badly by Shelly Laurenston
  18. Big Bad Beast by Shelly Laurenston

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Knight by Kristen Ashley (Re-read #14)

Knight (Unfinished Hero #1) by Kristen Ashley

Anya Gage has learned that to get anything good in life, you have to work for it. She has no expectations, no dreams. Then she finds herself at a party where she doesn’t want to be and she meets Knight. Knight Sebring knows who he is, what he wants and what he likes. And he gets it. But he never expected something as sweet as Anya Gage to wander into his bedroom—during a party he did not expect to be having—to borrow his phone. Knight tries to leave Anya to the life she deserves of white picket fences and a man who watches football on Sundays—good, normal and clean. But when Anya comes to his nightclub and finds herself in a situation, he knows someone has to look after her. He can’t fight it anymore, and he decides that man will be him. Knight teaches Anya that, just as with the bad, in life you should also expect the good. And he teaches her this by giving it to her. But Knight has a dark past and just as he desires Anya for exactly who she is, he fears when she finds out exactly the man he has become and always intends to be, she’ll leave him for good, normal and clean

Knight was my first ever Kristen Ashley read and so it holds a very special place in my heart…it was my gateway drug to the addiction that is Kristen Ashley‘s writing.  I first heard about Knight on one of the blogs that I follow (although I can’t remember specifically which one)…if even one person reads this review and decides to read Knight then I will be so happy that I have paid it forward! 

Anya is ready to leave a party and goes to get her friend…they have a strict “never leave a sister behind” policy only it turns out it is only strict on Anya’s end as her friend is trying to hook up with the apartment owner and is not very nice about telling Anya to just leave already.  When Anya goes to phone for a cab, her cell isn’t working so when she spots a phone in a bedroom, she sneaks in to use it only to run into Knight…the phone’s and apartments real owner.  The party boy hooking up with Anya’s friend is really a dead-beat brother who brings nothing with him but trouble.  Knight proceeds to step in and take over Anya’s life…or at least her evening by driving her home.  Soon after, amazing cell phones show up, her apartment’s seriously lacking security is fixed and other problems in Anya’s life get sorted—all due to Knight.  Knight is the uber-rich, uber-dominant man who swoops into Anya’s life and tries to make it easier and better for her.  He says amazingly blunt things about her beauty and decisions.  Knight’s background has been discussed by many and is a trigger for some but in the overall scheme of things I was able to overlook it simply because EVERYTHING is over the top in this book making it feel unrealistically realistic to me.  I was able to distance myself from things I didn’t want to think about.  Good, bad or indifferent, that’s the truth of the matter.  Also, Anya’s first person narration tends to describe everything in detail which some may not appreciate but I couldn’t seem to read fast enough. 

Reading Challenge

Hard Core Re-Reading Challenge  

I purchased this book with my own funds.

When Darkness Comes by Alexandra Ivy

When Darkness Comes by Alexandra Ivy

It’s been a hell of a day for Abby Barlow. In just a few hours, she’s survived an explosion, watched her employer die, had a startling dream, and now she finds herself in a seedy Chicago hotel with the sexy, unearthly Dante, a vampire she both desires and fears.

For 341 years, Dante has stood as guardian to The Chalice, a mortal woman chosen to hold back the darkness. A terrible twist of fate has now made Abby that woman. Three hours ago. Dante would have used all his charms to seduce her. Now she is his to protect. And he will do so until his very death.

A terrifying plan has been set in motion, one that will plunge Dante and Abby into an epic battle between good and evil – and a desperate race to save their love…

I knew from the first page that I would enjoy this book…we open right in the midst of a panicked Abby trying to figure out what to do while pieces of a shattered Ming vase are scattered on the floor around her feet.  And who should find her before she can cover up the evidence and try to salvage the job that she so desperately needs?  Dante, better known as the current bane of Abby’s existence.  Unfortunately as Abby notes, he doesn’t look like the bane of someone’s existence.  Just as she is convinced things can’t get worse, an explosion rocks the mansion where she works and as you can read in the blurb above, all kinds of dominoes fall into a neat little line that ends up with Abby’s life changed forever as she knows it.  And who is the only one who can help her navigate her new existence and is figuratively tied to her for all eternity?  That’s right.  The bane.  Who calls her Lover.  Which she hates *sure she does*…

Abby and Dante are soon on the run as Abby is the new chalice, a holder of power without any clue as to how to camouflage this power turning her into a metaphorical beacon for all the nasties out there.  Dante, who would have been freed if Abby had not become this new chalice, can’t help but both mourn for his freedom that was oh, so, close and understand that Abby didn’t in any way mean to screw him over.  So he sucks it up without much whining and gets on with finding a solution to the problem.  And that is another huge point in this book’s favor.  Both Abby and Dante have their lives take a seriously sharp right turn and with minimal fussing they get on with it and deal.  I am not saying it is easy, but I never felt Abby went near TSTL-ville nor did Dante become the big broody “I know what’s best so I feel no need to communicate with you puny human” macho guy.  He tried to triage the info that Abby would need in a manner that kept her alive and help her understand her new life without overwhelming her more than she already was and Abby realized that she was in way over her head and (mostly) listened to what Dante had to say and followed his advice. 

In the midst of this, we met very intriguing secondary characters (sequel-bait!), a coven of witches that were partially slaughtered but who still gave you the willies while they were off-screen, a host of beasties that Abby never realized existed (and would have quite happily gone on that way given the choice), and more all written in such a way that they never felt like wallpaper holding scenes together.  Alexandra Ivy’s writing is clean and fast-paced but she still gives a very satisfying amount of gravity and tension while all the characters, even those who weren’t around for very long a depth that made them feel purposeful.  I am looking forward to reading more in this series for sure and am excited to have found such a wonderful new-to-me author right out of the gate in 2015. 

Reading Challenges
Genre Decades
Alphabet Soup
Prequels and Sequels
The Series that Never Ends
105 Challenge
Reading Roadtrip
A to Z Authors
Witches and Witchcraft

New to You (new author and new series)   

I purchased this book with my own funds (at an author signing so it is autographed--hot dog!!)

Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 Reading Assignment Challenge: The Hot Zone by Jayne Castle

The Hot Zone by Jayne Castle

The world of Harmony has its wonders, one of them being Rainshadow Island.  Just beneath its surface, a maze of catacombs hides a dangerous secret…

Halloween—with its tricks and treats—is a dust bunny’s dream come true.  Just ask Lyle, Sedona Snow’s faithful sidekick.  But for Sedona, it’s a nightmare.  Though her new job managing a small hotel and tavern on Rainshadow is helping her move on from her tragic past, a bizarre disaster down in the catacombs has brought a pack of rowdy ghost hunters to her inn. 

And now, Sedona’s ex has arrived on the island, claiming he wants to get back together, just as a newcomer appears to have a strong interest in her.  Cyrus Jones is the new Guild boss in town.  He has his own agenda when it comes to Sedona, but even the best laid plans are no match for the passion that springs up on Rainshadow. 

Sedona meets her dust bunny Lyle when he visits her while she is being held prisoner deep in the catacombs.  She has been experimented on and is worried that a new talent seems to be emerging.  Multi-talents do not have strong track record of maintaining mental stability and after the nightmares Sedona has been experiencing her own future doesn’t look that bright.  Especially when she manages to escape the clutches of her captors and arrives home to find her husband has moved on, filing for divorce mere days after she disappeared. 

Fast forward to Rainshadow Island, Sedona’s new home which is experience some unsettling events.  New creatures are feared to be roaming the underground catacombs and a new Guild has been established to help explore and secure the sites so that alien artifacts can be researched.  A new Guild brings a new Guild boss in the form of Cyrus Jones.  Then things get really interesting when Halloween, new para-monsters, an ex-husband, and other characters both trustworthy and crooked emerge in a fast-paced race to the finish. 

I loved so many things about this book; both Sedona and Cyrus were interesting characters.  Sedona’s dust bunny did what dust bunnies do and stole almost every scene he was in.  Cyrus and Sedona’s relationship developed quickly and I wish more time had been available to them, but their family histories made interesting connections to previous books and characters in the Arcane series.  The one part of the story I was not enamored of was Sedona’s father’s family’s attempt to reestablish a relationship, it needed more time to develop and felt kind of tacked on as a result.  While not much new ground was covered in this long running series, it was another solid entry which I very much enjoyed.

Reading Challenges
Reading Assignment Challenge
I Love Library Books
Full House
105 Challenge 
Alphabet Soup

I borrowed this book from my local public library

Friday, January 23, 2015

Freebie Friday, January 23rd Edition

Freebie Friday – January 23rd Edition

Welcome to Freebie Friday where I will quickly review any freebie reads that I have as part of the I Love Freebies reading challenge.  Up this week:

First Night by Lauren Blakely: This is the prequel to a longer book and introduces Julia, a bartender (and bar owner) and Clay (an entertainment lawyer).  Clay is in San Francisco for some meetings and has been told to look up Julia as she is a great bartender and might be someone that Clay could be interested in.  And boy is she.  Clay walks into the bar and he and Julia instantly connect.  This was a quick read with great writing and some hot interludes between Clay and Julia.  I don’t know if I will follow up with the longer book or not.

The Gallos: The Beginning by Chelle Bliss:  This short story introduces the family involved in the longer series Men of Inked.  This story is narrated by the parents of the main characters of the series books.  I enjoyed this story and thought it did a great job of piquing my interest in the reading more about how this amazing couple’s adult children get their HEA’s. 

I also read an assortment of short fan-fic stories by Xanthe—some I loved, some I DNF'd but all of them proved that she has a heck of an imagination and that I want to read more by her!

Reading Challenges
I Love Freebies

The Mane Event by Shelly Laurenston

The Mane Event by Shelly Laurenston

NYPD cop Desiree “Dez” MacDermot knows she’s changed a lot since she palled around with her childhood buddy, Mace.  But it’s fair to say that Mace has changed even more.  But it’s fair to say that Mace has changed even more.  It isn’t just those too-sexy gold eyes, or the six-four, built-like-a-Navy Seal body.  It’s something in the way he sniffs her neck and purrs, making her entire body tingle…Meanwhile, for Tennessean Ronnie Lee Reed, New York City is the place where any girl—even one who runs with a pack—can redefine herself.  First order of business: find a mate, settle down, and stop using men for sex.  Even big, gorgeous lion shifter men like Brendon Shaw.  But she needn’t worry, because now Brendon’s set his sights on her, the predator in him is ready to pounce and never let go…

The Mane Event is comprised of two stories, Christmas Pride and Shaw’s Tail.  I LOVED Christmas Pride, Dez and Mace’s story.  These two characters were both amazing and their story could have kept going and going and I would have happily kept reading.  I laughed out loud more than once while reading and was so sad when their story finished.  Dez is a cop involved in the investigation of a murder when her childhood friend Mace walks back into her life.  Dez and Mace were best friends until the age of 14 when Dez changed schools.  Mace has recently left the SEALs and has a plan.  Find Dez, marry her, have kids, live happily ever after.  When he actually sees her again and finds she is beautiful, tough and single, he takes it as a full-steam-ahead sign for his plan.  Dez is astonished that this tall Adonis is her childhood friend Mace who used to be small and scrawny but who she felt always saw her for who she really was. 

Dez is tough and takes shit from no one.  She more than holds her own with the many males in her life (her partner, her ex-marine buddies from when she was an MP, and now Mace) and I love her two dogs, Sig and Sauer.  Mace is large and take charge and really personifies the characteristics of a cat which fits his lion-shifter persona.  I think one of the biggest strengths of this story (and the series as a whole) are the wonderful traits that the shifters have that fit their animal counterparts.  As Mace, in true cat form, inserts himself into Dez’s life as if he has every right to be there hilarity ensues.  Between the investigation into the murders and Mace , Dez has her hands full and while she has a take-no-prisoners attitude, it is made clear Dez is human and this puts her in precarious situations with shifters.  She isn’t miraculously able to take on all shifters with no repercussions;  her humanity does have its limitations, but Dez being Dez finds ways to work those to her advantage as well, while also being smart enough to know when to ask for help. 

Mace.  Oh, how I love Mace!  He is smug and sure of himself and delights in tormenting Dez’s dogs.  He also has a great relationship with his friend Smitty and Smitty’s family who are a pack of wolves.  While cats and dogs aren’t normally friends, he and Smitty have had each other’s backs for a long time now and their differences only serve as fodder for pranks and jokes.  Smitty delights in tormenting Mace by flirting with Dez and Mace has no problem slamming Smitty’s face into the nearest hard surface in retaliation.   The relationships between Dez and Mace, Mace and Smitty, Dez and her family, Mace and his, all of these and so many more were so fully developed and well thought out that even those that were of an adversarial nature made total sense.  Even as I write this, I find myself thinking of different scenes and grinning in delight.  I can’t wait to reread this one!

Shaw’s Tail
I liked this one.  I liked it a lot, but it just wasn’t over-the-top wonderful the way that Christmas Pride was.  I loved Shaw (almost as much as Mace) and really enjoyed Ronnie Lee (but not as much as Dez) and while I enjoyed watching them come together, it didn’t make me laugh out loud.  Ronnie Lee wants to settle down as she is used to living large, being banned from the country she is currently occupying and having a good time with any good looking guy she wants.  She is ready to settle down now that she is 30 and she finds this easier said than done. 

For his part, Shaw is tired of being a Pack breeder and is ready to find the one for him.  He decides that one will be Ronnie Lee and begins his seduction, a large part of which involves talking fast to keep Ronnie Lee around.  Shaw has some family issues going on as does Ronnie Lee and once again the various relationships between characters are a strength for this story.  While I enjoyed the time I spent reading this one, I didn’t have the overwhelming desire to begin it over from the beginning like I did with Christmas Pride.

Reading Challenges
Genre Decades Reading Challenge
2015 Alphabet Soup
Literary Pickers
2015 Reading Roadtrip
2015 Full House
2015 What An Animal
2015 New Year Bookish Bingo 
2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

I bought this book with my own funds

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Falling for the Groomsman by Diane Alberts

Falling for the Groomsman by Diane Alberts

Photojournalist Christine Forsythe is ready to tackle her naughty little to do list, and who better to tap for the job than a hot groomsman?  But when she crashes into her best friend’s older brother, Christine realizes her list needs updating.  And fast.  Tyler Dresco took her virginity during the best night of her life, then bolted.  Now that they’re trapped together at a destination wedding, she’s going to get her revenge. 

Tyler has never forgiven himself for how completely he lost control all those years ago.  Being in Christine’s arms had felt right…until he realized what he’d taken from her in the hallway of a cheap motel.  And oh, how she’s making him pay for it now.  The insatiable heat between them has only grown stronger, but every time things heat up, Christine walks away.

With every encounter, things go a little bit further until Christine’s caught in her own trap of seduction.  And before their time’s up, Tyler’s not the only one wanting more…

I loved the beginning of this book, but the middle and the end left me wanting.  Tyler and Christine reconnect with a bang as Christine literally walks right into Tyler at the hotel.  Both of them are there for the wedding of Tyler’s younger sister, Kady, who is Christine’s close friend and former roommate.   We learn that Christine lost her parents her freshman year in college just months before she lost her virginity to Tyler in Mexico, immediately after which he ran away leaving her confused and naked in the motel hallway.  She has never forgiven him for that, and as it turns out, Tyler hasn’t forgiven himself either.  I was fine with the book up to this point, but then Christine decides that maybe it is time for a little payback so she decides to make Tyler want her and then walk away.  I felt this was immature especially as he makes it clear early, and often, how much he has beaten himself up for his choice over the years.  I also felt that this story was rushed as it took place over the course of a few days and I just didn’t believe that these two were in a secure enough place at the end.  Tyler was the stronger character in my mind and the one I liked more.  Christine annoyed me at times with her revenge plot and using other people to try to make Tyler jealous.  I felt that was petty and uncalled for.  I enjoyed portions of this story and am interested enough to read about the other couples in the series as glimpses were given throughout this book.  I really wanted to love this one, but it was only okay.  

Reading Challenges
2015 New to You
2015 I Love Library Books
2015 Contemporary Romance
Literary Pickers

I borrowed this book from my public library

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What I Read, Week of January 16-21

What I Read, Week of January 16-21

  1. All In by Alexa Land
  2. Gathering Storm by Alexa Land
  3. Salvation by Alexa Land
  4. Skye Blue by Alexa Land
  5. Against the Wall by Alexa Land
  6. Feral by Alexa Land
  7. Robin by Sean Michael
  8. Sam by Sean Michael
  9. Mariana by Susanna Kearsley 
  10. Without Reservations by J L Langley
  11. With Caution by J L Langley
  12. With Abandon by J L Langley
  13. With Love by J L Langley
  14. Tin Star by J L Langley
  15. Love Under Two Gunslingers by Cara Covington
  16. Love Under Two Lawmen by Cara Covington
  17. Love Under Two Benedicts by Cara Covington

TBR Challenge 2015: A Stone Creek Christmas

A Stone Creek Christmas by Linda Lael Miller 

This month's category was
We Love Short Shorts!
Stone Creek veterinarian Olivia O’Ballivan communicates easily with animals, but men are another story.  Especially rugged architect-turned-rancher Tanner Quinn.  Olivia’s uncanny bond with his daughter Sophie’s pony, Butterpie, has him questioning her sanity, while she wonders if he’s not just a drugstore cowboy.  Then twelve-year-old Sophie conspires with Olivia to get Tanner into the spirit of Christmas with all the trimmings, including a tree-lighting ceremony and a man named Kris Kringle in a sleigh driven by seven reindeer…and a donkey.  But will a holiday miracle transform the globe-trotting Tanner into a rancher—and family man—for all seasons?

My biggest thought when I finished this book was that while I enjoyed both of the main protagonists, I did not at all believe in their HEA.  Olivia is a vet in the small town of Stone Creek and has an older brother, famous country singer Brad O’Ballivan and younger twin sisters, one a lawyer and one a bed and breakfast owner.  She is close with all of them and they all interfere and help out in each other’s lives as a matter of course.   Olivia is also able to communicate with animals…as in speak telepathically with them.   This was a part of the story that I really enjoyed, mostly because of Olivia’s dog, Ginger who was a hoot.  This ability is the device used to intro Olivia to Tanner when she goes to introduce herself to him as he is her new neighbor.  While there, she “meets” Butterpie, a sad pony who misses her owner, Tanner’s daughter Sophie. 

Tanner is in Stone Creek to build a new state-of-the-art animal shelter and has left his daughter Sophie back east in a maximum security boarding school.  Tanner’s wife was gunned down while he was working on a project in a country that wasn’t always welcoming of westerners and he is fanatical about Sophie’s protection as a result.   Between being neighbors and both being involved in the animal shelter enterprise, Olivia and Tanner are in each other’s company quite often.  However, I never really bought into their relationship.  It really seemed to me that there was an attraction, they had sex and voila…insta-love.  Add in the other characters, a side story involving a Rudolph named Rodney and a Kris Kringle who may or may not be that Kris Kringle and there is a lot going on that further distracts the reader from Olivia, Tanner, and their relationship.  

Reading Challenges
TBR Challenge 2015
2015 Alphabet Soup
Literary Pickers 2015
2015 Reading Roadtrip
2015 Contemporary Romance
2015 A to Z Authors
2015 Full House
2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

I purchased this book with my own funds

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What I Read, Week of January 8-15

What I Read, Week of January 8-15

  1. First Night by Lauren Blakely
  2. The Gallos: The Beginning by Chelle Bliss
  3. The Hot Zone – Jayne Castle
  4. A Stone Creek Christmas by Linda Lael Miller
  5. At Home in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller
  6. The Mane Event by Shelly Laurenston
  7. Boy Princess Vol. 1 by Seyoung Kim
  8. When Darkness Comes by Alexandra Ivy
  9. Capturing Peace by Molly McAdams
  10. Knight by Kristen Ashley
  11. Creek by Kristen Ashley
  12. Shocking Behavior by Jennifer Archer
  13. Omorphi by C. Kennedy
  14. Way Off Plan by Alexa Land 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bookish Bingo Challenge

Great Imaginations is hosting a 2015 New Year Bookish Bingo and I couldn't resist taking on one more challenge...mostly because this isn't a year long.  It runs through to the end of March which is just what I need to keep myself motivated through the beginning of the year.  Also it is really cold right now, so snuggling in blankets while reading is my number one fave way to spend time.  Rules: one book per square and one DNF is allowed.  I'm going to shoot for one bingo and see where I can go from there...

The Velvet Glove series by Sean Michael Part 2 (Re-reads 5-9)

The Velvet Glove is a series of novels and short stories by Sean Michael.  The Velvet Glove is an interplanetary private club that offers every luxury to its members.  Men from all backgrounds can be themselves at the club and find others that fit their needs in order to lead the lives they want.  

In Ghost, Trip hits the ground running in his position as the Velvet Glove's newest doctor when a young sub is brought in in a catatonic state.  Trip reviews footage of the sub's last scene and notices Ghost seems to be reacting to the Top's emotions...following this path, Trip soon finds that not only is Ghost, the sub, empathic, but that Trip is somehow connected to him as well.  Trip takes Ghost in and a relationship quickly develops.  

Connor is celebrating a friend's committment ceremony when he meets Desmond in Connor's Journey.  This is one of the longer stories in the Velvet Glove series and is stronger for it.  Desmond has lived at the Velvet Glove for over 20 years and while he loves his life, he wants a sub of his own that he can make the center of his life.  When he spots Connor sitting at his regular dinner table, he knows he has found the one he's been looking for.  Connor can't believe that this amazing, confident man would want a simple worker such as himself but he decides to take a risk and see where it takes him...and it takes him all the way to his happy ever after.  This story doesn't really have any conflicts, instead it just follows along with Conner and Desmond as they build their relationship together.  

Soaring with Hawk is very similar to Connor's Journey.  Jester, who works the line at a plant, is invited by his supervisor, Hawk to dinner at Hawk's residence, the Velvet Glove.  Jester is happy to agree as he finds Hawk fascinating.  Pretty soon Hawk and Jester are in a relationship with Hawk taking the dominant role.  I really enjoy Jester, who is a sweetheart helping to take care of his many younger siblings.  His mother is a real piece of work and is fun to hate, but we don't see much of her.  After a slight bump in the road, these two reach their HEA.  

Rock Stars and Size Queens is two romances in one.  Angel, a famous singer who is exhausted physically and mentally after his latest tour, is secreted away to the Velvet Glove by his manager, Jax.  Jax knows the Velvet Glove is the safest place to hide Angel while also being a place where Jax can finally look for a sub of his own.  While he loves Angel, he knows their relationship is a business one.  Jax is introduced to Minuet and from the moment he lays on him, Jax knows Minuet is the one for him.  In order to focus on Minuet while also meeting the needs of Angel, Jax hires Roland to care for Angel.  This story goes back and forth between the two relationships but does a good job of balancing between the two story lines.  Minuet thrives on service and is the size queen, while Angel needs someone steady that he can crash against without fear of them faltering and is the rock star.  Roland seems to be the character that we learn the least about, but he is the steady presence that Angel needs.  I do like that Angel is threatened at first by Minuet's presence in Jax's life when Angel has been his focus up to this point as it provides needed depth to the story.

Velvet Blade starts with Gideon entering the Velvet Glove with the intention of moving in for at least a year.  Within the hour, he meets Tybalt a new server and immediately decides that Tybalt is the one for him.  Tybalt is sweet and tries hard, but is struggling in his job to answer to orders from so many people.  Gideon remedies this by having Tybalt focus solely on serving him.  The last third of this story gets surprisingly serious as Tybalt is discovered to be from a group of people whose planet was overtaken and whose refugees are still hunted by the terrorists who attacked their planet.  Tybalt is nearly caught by one such "blue-skinned" terrorist in an outside market and later the Velvet Glove itself is targeted.  This seriousness is a decided turn from the more laid-back style of previous entries. 

The Lady and the Lion by Cynthia Kirk

For January’s Monthly Key Word challenge, I chose to use a variation of the word girl and read The Lady and the Lion which has been in my TBR pile for a VERY long time.   I don’t remember where I got it and neither the cover nor the blurb increased my confidence, but I ended up loving the book, proving once again to never judge a book by its cover!

The Lady: Blaming herself for her husband’s death, archaeologist Charlotte Fairchild had given up her greatest love: Egypt.  Then Dylan Pierce strode into her life.  Reputed to be the infamous “Lion,” he was said to plunder ancient tombs and a woman’s virtue with the same disregard.  But with a kiss as searing as the Sahara and as dangerous as a scorpion, he ignited a passion that rivaled anything she’d felt before.

The Lion: Welshman Dylan Pierce disdained European women and their well-bred sensibilities.  But there was nothing cold or uptight about Charlotte Fairchild.  She was as hot as the Egyptian sun and as fiery as its sands.  Dazzling and mysterious, she embodied everything he loved about Africa.  And loving the English lady would prove to be as wild and scorching as a desert whirlwind.

 I REALLY enjoyed this one!  To be honest, I thought it might end up as a DNF, but I was hooked from the first page when Charlotte pours a visiting English couple their tea, calmly pulls a pistol out of her pocket, and nonchalantly shoots a cobra that has entered their tent in the middle of the Egyptian desert.  Her complete aplomb through all of this was interesting and unusual and I wanted to get to know Charlotte better.  The more I discovered about her the more I liked.  When her husband died, I was happy because he did not deserve a firecracker like Charlotte.  And  Dylan.  Oh Dylan, how I loved you so!   Dylan was perfect for Charlotte.  He takes her seriously and doesn’t take himself too seriously at all and that is exactly what Charlotte needed.  And Charlotte’s family is equally fantastic.  I laughed more than once while reading this book.  This book sped by and while hints were given that a secondary character might be finding love soon, I cannot find any other books that appear to be written this author which is a true shame.  I would gladly read another Cynthia Kirk book as she has true talent! 

Reading Challenges
2015 Monthly Key Word Challenge
105 Challenge (new to me author)
2015 Around the World Challenge
2015 Historical Romance Reading Challenge
2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
2015 New to You

I purchased this book with my own funds…I just can’t remember where.    

Freebie Friday – January 9th Edition

Welcome to the first Freebie Friday where I will quickly review any freebie reads that I have read in the past week as part of the I Love Freebies reading challenge.  Up this week:

Bonded by Sara York: Chris came home to a break-up note from his boyfriend.  In an effort to take his mind off his pain and loneliness, Chris starts hitting the gym…a lot.  On one trip he has in interesting encounter with a man named Greg who sounds like holy hotness and I immediately thought, goody!  Chris’s new man…until Chris has an equally interesting encounter in the locker room with another man named Liam.  Then I was not sure what was happening.  Greg keeps Chris from killing himself after trying to lift too much weight and then it becomes clear that Greg and Liam are involved with each other and interested in having Chris join them.  I liked this part of the story but then more and more pieces were added in and it all became a bit muddled.  Greg was clearly a Dom, Liam was clearly a sub, but Chris was shown at different times as being a bit of both, but not necessarily in a “switch” kind of way, but more as a plot convenience.  Liam also had some serious issues to deal with and I wish more time had been devoted to that aspect as well.  More pages would have benefited this story greatly although I did still mostly enjoy it.

Three Strikes by Piper Vaughn: VERY short story in which Shawn is the floor manager of a customer call center.  He gets another complaint about one of his newest workers, Jeremy; it is in fact Jeremy’s third strike and Shawn is rather relieved to be able to fire him.  Something about Jeremy makes him uneasy.  Jeremy first tries to sexually proposition Shawn in order to keep his job, and then appeals to Shawn’s fairness by asking for a one-week trial…if Jeremy gets no further complaints, he gets to keep his job.  Later in the next week finds Shawn and Jeremy working out late at night in the company gym and hooking up.  After Jeremy’s proposition the week before, this just struck me as uncomfortable and it seemed that Shawn was putting himself in an untenable situation that Jeremy could late exploit if he so wanted. 

Healing Her Heart by Laura Scott: Larissa is an ER nurse who suffered abuse at the hands of her stepfather when she was younger.  Gabe is a doctor who left his former job after dating a coworker ruined his professional reputation.  When a patient comes in who seems to be suffering from domestic abuse, Larissa can’t help but try to do everything in her power to help this woman.  This puts her in the sites of both the woman’s husband and her equally crazy son.  Gabe soon finds himself feeling protective of Larissa as she is the victim of several “accidents.”  Both of them have to figure out how to let go of the past in order to truly move on with their futures.  I very much enjoyed this inspirational romance and will be looking for other stories by this author.

Candy Cane Kisses by Elle Rush: This is the fourth book in a series but I didn’t feel that I was missing anything by not having read the other titles first.  Lindsay just wants her candy cane cookie recipe to work.   Bodey just wants to figure out how to ask Lindsay out after being a love-em-and-leave-em encounter when they were both younger.  Bodey creates an elaborate plan to finagle Lindsay into a date with him…Lindsay cops onto the plan fairly early on and starts changing the rules to suit and amuse herself.  I liked this short story…both Lindsay and Bodey were relatable and enjoyable people.  When Bodey realizes his current plan has been hijacked, he admits that he made a mistake and works to rectify it.  Both characters were mature and fun.  I want to read the other stories in this series and can only hope they are as sweet and enjoyable as Lindsay’s candy cane cookies must be.

Dirty Cop by Kyle Adams: Conrad gets pulled over for speeding, is asked for his papers, yells “Scissors cut paper!” and burns rubber leaving the cop on the side of the road…until the angry cop turns up at his front door.  This was super short but super fun and super steamy.  Also, Princess Leia?  Awesome!

The Book of Prime by Katy Baker: This was a starter to a longer story featuring vampires and immortals. While it was well written and full of action, it was just getting started when it ended (which is the point of this type of story, but I didn’t realize that was what it was when I started reading.)  While I enjoyed this, I will not be following up on the rest of the series. 

Untouchable by Alexis Blake:  Mary Margaret inherits her childhood home when her Aunt passes away.  Finally being able to get home from her latest dance tour and having just found out that her fiance was a serial cheater, she just wants to decide what her future will entail.  Meanwhile, her neighbor turns out to be the boy that broke her heart right before she left for dance school.  He gave her up once to allow her to have the life she deserved and to create one of his own that was more than the troublemaker he had become.  Now they are both grown up and Ryan is determined to finally make Mary Margaret his own for good.  The story was just getting going with some solid foundation building when, boom, Mary Margaret discovers Ryan is a Dom and the story ended. ..I am still deciding if I want to follow up on this one or not.  I probably will, the writing was strong and I liked both of the main characters (and Mutt!).

One Night With Her by Lauren Blakely: Jack is at the hotel to seal a business deal concerning the sales of his company’s latest sex toy.  Michele is there to speak at a conference.  They see each other in the bar and decide to see how far their attraction takes them.  This is another story that is only the beginning and is meant to hook readers into longer, not-free books.  I will not be following up on this one.

Caught up in Her by Lauren Blakely:  Bryan and Nate have just graduated and will soon be heading off to their new jobs but first, they are headed to Nate’s house for a couple of week s to run Nate’s family store.  Helping them is Kat, Nate’s younger sister.  Bryan and Kat soon fall for each other and make plans to explore a relationship when Kat goes to NYU and Bryan starts his new job in NYC.  However, an opportunity comes for Bryan to get a coveted spot at his company’s branch in Paris and Bryan decides that breaking Kat’s heart is for the best as she deserves more than a long distance relationship.  Fast forward five years and Kat is still the one that Bryan longs for.  And then the story ends.  I will probably follow up on this one.  The writing was excellent and I truly liked all of the characters.

Reading Challenge
Read Your Freebies

What I Read, Week of January 1-7

What I Read, Week of January 1-7

  1. Puppy Love by Sean Michael (part of the Velvet Glove series)
  2. Anything for a Byline by Sean Michael (part of the Velvet Glove series)
  3. Two Men for Two Twins by Sean Michael (part of the Velvet Glove series)
  4. Three to Heal by Sean Michael (part of the Velvet Glove series)
  5. Ghost by Sean Michael (part of the Velvet Glove series)
  6. Connor’s Journey by Sean Michael (part of the Velvet Glove series)
  7. Soaring with Hawk by Sean Michael (part of the Velvet Glove series)
  8. Attitude on Wheels by Sean Michael (part of the Velvet Glove series)
  9. Braided by Sean Michael (part of the Velvet Glove series)
  10. Velvet Blade by Sean Michael (part of the Velvet Glove series)
  11. Velvet Song by Sean Michael (part of the Velvet Glove series)
  12. Rock Stars and Size Queens by Sean Michael (part of the Velvet Glove series)
  13. Velvet Need by Sean Michael (part of the Velvet Glove series)
  14. The Lady and the Lion by Cynthia Kirk
  15. Bonded by Sara York
  16. Three Strikes by Piper Vaughn
  17. Healing Her Heart by Laura Scott
  18. Candy Cane Kisses by Elle Rush (Forever Christmas #4)
  19. Dirty Cop by Kyle Adams
  20. Falling for the Groomsman by Diane Alberts (Wedding Dare #1)
  21. The Book of Prime by Katy Baker
  22. Untouchable by Alexis Blake
  23. One Night with Her by Lauren Blakely
  24. Caught up in Her by Lauren Blakely

All books either bought with my own funds or borrowed from my public library