Monthly Archives: August 2013

Review: Escape From Obsession by Dixie Lynn Dwyer

Escape from Obsession (The American Soldier Collection #1)

This review originally appeared at Seductive Musings

Review: Escape From Obsession by Dixie Lynn Dwyer

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

I am a regular reader of the “Ménage Everlasting” erotic romances published by Siren Bookstrand, so when I was offered the opportunity to review this new-to-me author, I jumped in with both feet. A MFMM erotic romance featuring three hot and broody military brothers is just the sort of book I love to read, and I had hoped that Dixie Lynn Dwyer’s “Escape from Obsession” would be no exception. Unfortunately for me, what good there was to enjoy in this book was constantly overshadowed by awkward phrasing, excessive repetition and an ending that I found implausible at best.

The story begins several months earlier in New York, when Gia is still Gianna, a young impressionable woman being controlled by her domineering boyfriend, Antonio, who is up to his neck in drug dealing and other major financial wrongdoings. When Antonio attempts to force Gianna to submit sexually to his business partner, Valdere, she realizes she is in a dangerous situation and only manages to escape when another angry business associate crashes into their apartment and the cops show up to drag Antonio off to jail. Gianna moves to Texas, settles in a new job and apartment near her beloved cousin, Teddy, and changes her first name to Gia in an attempt to stay hidden from anyone who might come looking for her there.

Teddy is already in a long term ménage relationship where he shares his wife Deanna with another man. Gia wonders how they can possibly be happy when she is still so horrified that Antonio wanted to give her to Valdere. It’s only when she finally comes out of her self-imposed social exile and joins in the fun at Casper’s, the local sports bar, that she meets a friendly bartender, Garrett McCallister, and realizes that she might be ready to trust a man again. A few days later, she meets Garrett’s brother, Wes, who is the football coach for her cousin’s son Dale, and just as attracted to her as Garrett was. The two brothers then contact their older brother Gunner, a Texas Ranger, once they both realize that Gia might be the one woman they have all hoped to find for a ménage relationship of their own. But Gia is still trapped in her fear of what happened in New York and what might happen again if she lets these men take her as their own.

The McCallister brothers are easily the best part of “Escape from Obsession” but the various ways they are described were also a major frustration for me. We are constantly reminded that they were “commandoes” (author’s spelling) in the “Marine Corp” and that they each have a matching “Royal Commandoes” back tattoo. Although such phrasing kept taking me out of the story, I did enjoy how each of the brothers treated with Gia with patience and love, especially in light of how she was so incredibly afraid to even go out on a real date with any of them. I found Gia’s reactions understandable at first, but as the story went on and on with her continuing to insist that men are pain and that no men could ever be trusted, I got impatient with her refusal to move on and wondered if she’d ever gotten any counseling after her experience in New York.

The other issue I had with “Escape from Obsession” was with the pacing and the plot choices as the story played out. I had a big problem with the moment when Gia decided to finally submit to the McCallister brothers, considering how understandably afraid she was of men attacking her and what had happened to her mere hours before they all had sex together for the first time. But the truly astonishing moment for me came toward the end when all the various threats in Gia’s life converge in a single horrific scene. I found that moment to be so preposterous that I wondered if book length constraints had forced the author’s hand, or if that was the resolution she really intended. At least at the end of it all, we know Gia will be happy and safe with her McCallister brothers, having finally escaped from her own obsession with her unhappy past.


Overall: 2.5
Sensuality level: 4 (MFMM ménage including anal sex, and multiple instances of attempted rape)

Review: Always On My Mind by Jill Shalvis

Always On My Mind (Lucky Harbor, #8)

This review originally appeared at Romancing Rakes For the Love of Romance

{Michele Review} Always On My Mind by Jill Shalvis

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Rating:  5 hearts: Buy it now!

Always On My Mind is the newest entry in the Lucky Harbor small town contemporary series by Jill Shalvis, and a perfect example of why this series stands out in a category filled with so many other excellent competitors. In Always On My Mind, Jill Shalvis employs some of the most familiar romance tropes in such a way that they feel fresh and perfectly chosen to show how the past between its hero and heroine will become their present if they don’t heed the lessons learned this second time around.

Leah Sullivan has returned to her childhood home of Lucky Harbor to help run her grandmother’s bakery while that woman recovers from knee surgery, but doesn’t intend to stay longer than she can help it. In Lucky Harbor, everybody knows everybody else’s business, and the last thing she wants is to be in the middle of all that when her appearance on the reality show competition, Sweet Wars, reaches its final episode.

When Jack Harper finds out that Leah is back in town, he’s not sure if he wants anything to do with her. They had been close friends back when Leah’s family still lived in Lucky Harbor, and only Jack knew how hard her family life had really been. She’d hurt him when she left town and it appeared to him that she’d never really stopped running. Ever since then, Jack had used his dangerous firefighter job as an excuse for never committing to a lasting relationship with anyone. But that didn’t mean that Leah’s return would change anything, no matter what his ideas his mother Dee might have.

It’s clear from how Jack and Leah cautiously circle around each other in public that there’s more to their past than just a close childhood friendship, but it’s only when Leah claims a real relationship with Jack in an attempt to cheer up Dee that all hell breaks loose. The fake/pretend relationship romance trope is one of my favorites, and the way Jill Shalvis executes it in this story is something I haven’t seen very often. Because for both Jack and Leah, pretending they are dating and in love is genuinely painful, and it stirs up emotions that they both had thought were buried for good.

The town of Lucky Harbor with all its familiar characters and goings-on is the perfect setting for Jack and Leah’s story, providing a genuine sense of why each of them made the life choices which first kept them apart and now might finally bring them back together for good. But what I loved best about Always On My Mind was how Jill Shalvis neatly side-stepped the various plot devices that might have been used by a less sure-handed writer. Just because we all know there will be a Happily Ever After ending doesn’t mean that the route there has to be simplistic or obvious. There were several points during the book where I thought something specific was definitely going to happen as the various subplots wound down, yet I was happy to be wrong every time.

It’s rare for a writer with a long-running series to hit it out of the park every single time. But Jill Shalvis has done exactly that with Always On My Mind. I highly recommend it to both longtime fans of the series and new readers, as it’s now officially my favorite Lucky Harbor book.

Favorite Quote:

Leah stopped at the foot of the stage and looked up at Jack. “I was wrong,” she said.
Jack curled a hand around his ear, like he hadn’t caught her words.
“I was wrong,” she repeated.
“Oh, I heard you.” He smiled. “I just like the sound of the words on your lips.”

Review: Deceiving the Witch Next Door by Melissa Bourbon Ramirez

Deceiving the Witch Next DoorDeceiving the Witch Next Door by Melissa Bourbon Ramirez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review.

Melissa Bourbon Ramirez is a new author for me and although I have previously enjoyed many paranormal romance novels, I haven’t read many of late, so I went into this book with no expectations other to be entertained. And entertained I most definitely was! I was pulled all the way through this relatively short but densely packed plot wondering exactly how the author was going to manage to resolve all the dilemmas swirling around their romance without ruining my enjoyment of the story as a whole. Because make no mistake, Storie Bell has had a lot to deal with since she’s returned to town after her departure eight years before. She’s trying to fend off Reid Malone’s advances at the same time she’s trying to reimagine her late father’s decrepit gas station as a combination bookstore/coffee shop, secretly leveraging her magic powers where she can, even as they are inexplicably starting to wane. Meanwhile, Reid can’t forget how he and Storie had nearly come together on that day she left town (a scene we see only part of in the memorable prologue) but he’s sure that all he really wants is what he thinks is hidden somewhere in the building her daddy left her.

The interaction between Storie and Reid is what made this story a compelling read for me, and the way Reid worms his way into Storie’s life despite both of them insisting that there isn’t anything real between them. Storie knew that there was something Reid wasn’t telling her, but with so many other fires to fight all in the short time before the scheduled opening day for her Storiebook Cafe, she was only able to keep at arm’s length for so long before the electricity between them ignited into something more. I loved how completely obvious he was in his machinations, in spite of whether either of them thought that was a good idea or not.

I haven’t always had good luck with books being able to successfully incorporate paranormal elements into a believable contemporary setting, but Deceiving the Witch Next Door manages to stay on track with both the magical and non-magical parts of the story. The way everything comes together in the final chapters was as believable as could be expected, considering Storie is a witch and all. My only quibble was with the loose threads left after Storie’s final confrontation with why her powers had been waning, but I’m hoping that means we’ll be getting another book following up on what was left unresolved. I quite enjoyed reading Deceiving The Witch Next Door, and I’ll definitely be seeking out more of this author’s backlist.

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Review: Too Hot to Touch by Samantha Cayto

The full version of this review can be found at Night Owl Reviews:

Review: Too Hot to Touch by Samantha Cayto

Zoe needs to hire a temporary dishwasher for her Greek diner until her regular guy recovers from a broken arm. Sean needs a temporary job until he begins professional training for a full-time career as a truck mechanic. “Too Hot to Touch” is a short but thoroughly enjoyable story about how these two people discover first lust, then love, in each other’s arms.

Review: Marriage Under the Mistletoe by Helen Lacey

This review originally appeared at Book Thingo:

Marriage Under the Mistletoe by Helen Lacey

Marriage Under The Mistletoe is the second book in Helen Lacey’s Crystal Point series for the Harlequin Special Edition line, and although this was a new author and series for me, I had no issues following the story of Evie and Scott without having read the previous book. (Kat’s note: In Australia, the book is published under the Blush line.)

Evie Dunn is the sensible sister of the Preston family, the one whom others depend upon even as she shoulders the responsibility for taking care of herself and her only son, Trevor, after the tragic death of her husband, Gordon, ten years earlier. Although she believes herself content with keeping her bed and breakfast running smoothly while attempting to be both mother and father to Trevor, the regret of burying her sexual side along with her husband does manage to poke its pointed head up now again.

That poke is never so fierce as when she first lays eyes on Scott Jones, the incredibly sexy American firefighter that she agreed to pick up at an airport several hours away from Crystal Point, and the younger brother of her soon-to-be sister-in-law. Scott is also several years younger than Evie, and the age difference makes her think that any attraction between them couldn’t possibly be mutual. But Evie’s assumption is dead wrong, as they both discover all too soon. Scott is visiting for the next three weeks to attend his sister’s Christmas Eve wedding to Evie’s brother, staying only until the New Year. How could there possibly be anything other than heartbreak if Evie and Scott give in to their heated attraction?

Although I enjoy reading romance in all its variations and genres, there is something special about the perfectly composed category romance. You know as a reader what you’re in for with the standard tropes (long distance lovers, older woman/younger man, and so on) but you also know that when you’re in the hands of a talented author, the resulting story will be an unique joy for you to savour. That’s how I felt about Helen Lacey and Marriage Under The Mistletoe.

All the obstacles in the path of Evie and Scott’s HEA seemed insurmountable at first, and watching how Lacey worked to show how each could be confronted and conquered was both marvelous and completely believable in the context of the story. The primary setting of Dunn Inn, Evie’s B&B, was an especially great way to frame the interactions between the hero and heroine as well as the supporting cast of characters, including the couple’s extended families, Evie’s teenage son and the inn’s various guests. It made me wish I could stay in such a warm and welcoming place, one that lent itself to romances both new and old.

In Marriage Under The Mistletoe Lacey gives us everything we could hope for in a traditional contemporary category romance, and more. I’ll be adding her Crystal Point series to my TBR list for when I want a few quiet hours to experience the joy of falling in love all over again.

Review: Not Until You by Roni Loren

This review originally appeared at Seductive Musings:

Review: Not Until You by Roni Loren

Copies of all eight parts of this book were provided to me by the publisher for an honest review.

Although this is not the first eserial I’ve read, it will be the first one I’ve formally reviewed. With that in mind, this review will consist of a short recap and critique for each of the 8 parts which make up Not Until You, and then a final review for the overall story.

Cela Medina isn’t your average 24 year old woman, not by a long shot. She’s just finished her doctorate in Veterinary Medicine, graduating with flying colors from Dallas University. And thanks to her overprotective family and seven long years of graduate school that barely left her time to sleep, she’s completely inexperienced in the ways of the adult world, especially when it comes to men. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t interested in learning more, and when she decides to seize an opportunity to be with her two hot male neighbors, Cela gets more than she bargained for.

Ian Foster is the self-made millionaire and sometime Dom who we met in “Still Into You” when he had hoped to start a BDSM relationship with Jace’s little sister, Leila, who was taking a break from her marriage but ultimately chose her husband, Seth, after they both realized they wanted to make things work. In “Not Until You Dare” we know him as Foster, Cela’s next door neighbor who shares an apartment with Pike, a laid back fun loving musician who is as much an opposite personality to Ian as you could possibly imagine. Their friendship provides a welcome counterpoint to the intensity of the relationship that progresses slowly between Foster and Cela throughout the story.

Not Until You: Part I - Not Until You Dare (Loving On The Edge, #3.51)

Not Until You: Part I – Not Until You Dare

In “Not Until You Dare” we get to see how Cela has spent her whole life doing everything her family wanted and had never questioned it, not until she was done with school, looked up and realized that she’d never done one thing fun for herself. She’s heard both her hot guy neighbors having loud sex with women they’ve brought home, and when they offer her the chance to experience it for herself, she decides to make this the one fun thing she’ll do before going home to join her father’s practice and slide back into the good family girl mold for the rest of her life.

I was a big fan of Ian Foster in “Still Into You” and happy to see him get his own story. Despite all her academic achievement, Cela was so sheltered that she almost read more as someone still in her teens, and that grated on me a bit at first. But I loved how Foster and Pike were able to finesse her into admitting all the things she’d never gotten to do, with an eye towards helping her make them happen. “Not Until You Dare is a great introduction to the story and had me looking forward to finding out exactly how their night together was going to play out.

“Not Until You” alternates between two points of view: Cela’s first person and Foster’s third person. The switching back and forth works well for the most part, although I would have preferred first person for Foster as well.

Ratings for Part 1:

Overall: 4
Sensuality level: 4 (no actual sex, just discussion and fantasy thoughts)

Not Until You Part II: Not Until You Risk (Loving On The Edge, #3.52)

Not Until You Part II: Not Until You Risk

After hours of dancing wildly between Foster and Pike at a local nightclub, Cela agrees to go to a hotel with them both, still not quite sure she hasn’t just passed out from all the tequila they had drunk together while filling out her Never Have I Ever list. Foster’s Dominant nature immediately appeals to Cela, and keeps her from panicking as he and Pike give Cela a night none of them will ever forget.

Cela’s ability to submit so completely and quickly drives Foster wild, despite her air of innocence and obvious inexperience. But then he realizes there is one more thing she left off her Never Have I Ever list, and it’s the biggest one of all.

The sexual interplay between Cela, Foster and Pike is a delight to read and the contrast of the two men’s personalities is never more obvious than when they are teaming up to pleasure Cela. But Foster’s reaction when he discovers the extent of Cela’s innocence was frustrating for me to read, even though it did fit in to his belief in how to treat women in and out of bed. The fact that Cela insists that it was all just a one time fantasy fling doesn’t ease his discomfort, and Part 2 ends with that uncertainty between the two of them.

Ratings for Part 2:

Overall: 4
Sensuality level: 4 (M/F/M foreplay, light BDSM)

Not Until You Part III: Not Until You Crave  (Loving On The Edge, #3.53)Not Until You Part III: Not Until You Crave

When Cela, Foster and Pike return from the hotel, they have to deal once again with the real world, which includes Cela’s overprotective older brother, Andre, and Foster’s real concern that what he needs from Cela may be more than she can give. I hadn’t realized until now that Andre is actually one of Jace’s two lovers who we met in “Melt Into You”, the second book in this series. He’s obviously never shared the true nature of his relationship with anyone in his family, but lets Cela know he will respect her decisions even though he’s worried about her well-being. He also warns Foster separately that he had better not mess around with his baby sister.

In Part 3 we also get to see more about Foster the businessman, who made it his life’s work to track down missing children after losing his own little sister to a kidnapper when he was just a kid himself. Both Cela and Foster try to avoid each other, but the pull between them is too great to resist and late-night texting ultimately turns into another sexual encounter which seems like another goodbye, this time for real. Eventually, Foster opens up to Cela about BDSM, the Ranch and his sexual needs as a Dominant, hoping this will scare her off once and for all. She wants to convince him that this is the perfect opportunity for a short term fling since she’s leaving town soon. But Foster is done with flings and one night stands. He wants a real commitment and he’s not willing to settle for less, so it’s goodbye once again as Part 3 ends.

I have to say that the whole hello again / goodbye again dynamic between Cela and Foster was starting to wear on me a bit, especially since they did it so often just in this one part of the story. But by this point, I liked the characters more than their actions, and was still curious to see how they would manage to resolve their differences yet again.

Ratings for Part 3:

Overall: 3
Sensuality level: 4

Not Until You Part IV: Not Until You Trust (Loving On The Edge, #3.54)

Not Until You Part IV: Not Until You Trust

Cela is starting to reconsider her plans to go back home and work for her father. The veterinary clinic where she’s been working part-time would love to have her stay, but she’s not sure what would keep her there now that Foster is apparently out of her life for good. Pike’s visit to the clinic is a welcome distraction and with Foster out of town, she’s more than willing to help Pike get settled in his apartment with the dog he decides to adopt. The moment when Foster arrives home unexpectedly to find Cela attempting to instruct Pike on how to show dominance over the recalcitrant dog is one of the funniest scenes based on gross misunderstanding that I’ve read in quite some time, and shows that Foster is not only still totally hung up on Cela but that she is more than ready to take what he’s ready to give her. And yet after another amazing night of sexual dominance and submission, this time it’s Cela who walks away, afraid of what she’s done and might do in the future.

Meanwhile all the plans that have been made regarding Cela’s future are still in motion, as her father announces he’s bought a house for her that’s right across the street from her parents. When she visits Andre at the loft he shares with Jace and Evan, she discovers the true nature of their triad relationship that he has hidden from his entire family. She also has an illuminating discussion with Jace’s brother, Wyatt, about her planned future in the family business. His experienced perspective helps her reconsider her decision to go along with what her family wants, and she decides that what she really wants is Foster. That’s when she blackmails Andre into taking her to the Ranch to confront Foster in his element and let him know she can stay as long as he wants her.

Another round of Cela and Foster coming together and splitting apart, and I’m wondering if the serial format makes this repetitive behavior more or less annoying. And yet, because I’m a sucker for true love and the Happily Ever After, I’m still ready to find out what’s going to happen next and how Foster will handle Cela confronting him on his home turf.

Ratings for Part 4:

Overall: 4
Sensuality level: 4

Not Until You Part V: Not Until You Beg (Loving On The Edge, #3.55)

Not Until You Part V: Not Until You Beg

Cela is finally ready to take control of her present and future and she’s not going to let her brother or anyone else stand in her way. Foster is determined to try to move on from Cela, if he can just find the right submissive. What he doesn’t realize is that the scene that was arranged for him by Grant, the Ranch’s owner, is with the woman he keeps seeing in every other submissive with whom he tries to forget her. She knows it’s a huge gamble, but the possible payoff for both of them is worth all the risk. Foster wants a committed D/s relationship and that’s what Cela wants to give him. Whether or not they can succeed remains to be seen.

This was my favorite part of the story up to this point, as we finally get to see Foster and Cela working on becoming a real couple in the BDSM lifestyle. Foster works to train her as he would any other woman new to submission and Cela works on learning to trust in Foster and in her own strength and resilience. But the pressure from home and her family isn’t going away anytime soon, and Cela worries that Foster’s protective instincts aren’t really any different than her own family trying to run her life for her.

At least this part didn’t end with one or both of them pushing away the other, and that was a nice change. Instead we are left Foster promising Cela his own brand of punishment for lying to him about not having told her family that she wasn’t going to come home to stay after all. This was the best type of serial cliffhanger – one where we anticipate something really good about to happen instead of wondering why they were apart again when it’s clear it only makes them miserable.

Ratings for Part 5:

Overall: 5
Sensuality level: 4 (voyeurism, public BDSM play

Not Until You Part VI: Not Until You Surrender (Loving On The Edge, #3.56)

Not Until You Part VI: Not Until You Surrender

Cela discovers that she hurt Foster when she lied to him, because it made him believe she wasn’t taking him or their new relationship seriously. She also seems to understand that his concern for her safety and well-being was genuine and not a way to control her the way her father has up until now. Yet when Foster attempts to mark her as his by requesting she wear one of the location tracking ankle bracelets made by his company, she reverts to her original worry that he’s trying to control her life just like her father and asks him for more time to consider his request. Foster, who is equally worried that she’s still not ready for his type of relationship, immediately assumes she’s done with him and has her escorted out of the building. The woman who arrives only moments later asking for Ian (!) confirms Cela’s belief that it’s really all over this time. When Cela finds out the next day that there’s no job available for her at the local clinic after all, she decides that changing her life wasn’t meant to be and prepares to return to the bosom of her loving family with all her future already planned out for her.

For me this was the most frustrating part of the story, not just because they keep making the same mistakes over and over again, but because they actually seem to learn why they are wrong, and then still do the same damn thing again. I really wanted to smack Foster more than Cela this time, as he went right to “oh you don’t love me, so you should leave and I’ll call my reliable sex buddy for comfort” with almost lightning speed. I would have liked to see her stick around and fight for him, but she’s so used to giving in to what her family wants that when it seems like her only option, it makes sense that she would take it. I don’t know how Roni Loren is going to get them back together yet again in a way that doesn’t seem completely insane, but I’m not ready to give up on Foster and Cela just yet.

Ratings for Part 6:

Overall: 3.5
Sensuality level: 4 (outdoor nudity and bondage)

Not Until You Part VII: Not Until You Believe (Loving On The Edge, #3.57)

Not Until You Part VII: Not Until You Believe

When Foster arrives from his out of town trip, he’s shocked to find Cela has moved back home, Pike attempts to school him on just how badly he’s messed things up with Cela and Foster realizes that he needs to find her and try to set things right. Meanwhile Cela is discovering that her planned out life is just as lonely and frustrating as she’d anticipated when she’d originally tried to rebel against her father’s plans. Her father refuses to consider any medical decisions but his own, and she might as well be living in her old room at home for all the independence she has in her aunt’s old house across the street. She tries to forget Foster by going out with Michael, a local dentist whom she had briefly dated in high school, but there’s just no spark between them.

When Cela’s longing for Foster becomes too much to bear, she puts on the HomeSafe ankle bracelet that Foster had given her as a reminder of him. Unbeknownst to her, this activates its tracking mechanism, which provides the impetus Foster needs to finally move to claim what is his. But Cela’s father isn’t going to let her go anywhere with him without a fight.

It’s both ironic and clever that the tracking device that had seemingly split Cela and Foster up for good was now the catalyst for bringing them back together again. Of course they were never going to be happy apart, but there was no way Cela was going to make the first move again after being hurt so badly by Foster’s ham-handed response the last time around. But this time neither one will be denied and when Cela stands up to her father on Foster’s behalf and Foster grovels to her most sincerely in return, it almost makes all the previous shenanigans between them worthwhile. All that’s left now is the triumphant finale where Foster and Cela get to have their happy ending, and I’m more than ready to get there.

Ratings for Part 7:

Overall: 5
Sensuality level: 3

Not Until You Part VIII: Not Until You Love (Loving On The Edge, #3.58)

Not Until You Part VIII: Not Until You Love

After all the misunderstandings and back and forth drama throughout this story, this is where it all comes to its final fruition. Foster has declared his love for Cela and she is almost ready to do the same… when the bottom drops out of Foster’s world. The goal he’s worked toward his whole life – finding out what happened to his kidnapped sister – is suddenly achieved, and that knowledge devastates him completely. When he retreats from everyone and everything, it takes Cela’s complete submission and unconditional love to pull him back from the edge of utter despair.

This was the payoff I was hoping for at the end of this story, where both Cela and Foster finally truly learn from the mistakes they’ve made along the way and grow into the full loving relationship that they both realize they can only find with each other. It’s a beautifully written and heartfelt conclusion with all the emotion and passion that comes from a love so hard won and richly deserved.

Ratings for Part 8:

Overall: 5
Sensuality level: 4 (more intense BDSM including bondage, flogging and anal sex)


In conclusion, I enjoyed reading “Not Until You” and I think the serial format worked well for the story that Roni Loren wanted to tell. I definitely felt the pain of having to wait for each part to become available, but was happy to see that each one had its own individual story arc, as opposed to just cutting off the story when a particular page count had been reached. It was worth all the waiting to get to see Foster and Cela find happiness and I’m glad this format was available for readers to get their story. Roni Loren has outdone herself with “Not Until You” and the included excerpts from “Caught Up In You”, promise an equally great time to come in our next visit to the world of The Ranch.

Ratings (full story):

Overall: 4.5
Sensuality Level: 4

Review: Chains and Canes by Katie Porter

Chains and Canes (Club Devant, #2)

This review originally appeared at Seductive Musings:

Review: Chains and Canes by Katie Porter

A copy of this book was purchased by me for my own enjoyment.

“Chains and Canes” is the latest installment in Katie Porter’s Club Devant series and its intensity and passion more than live up to the expectations set by the previous book, “Lead and Follow”. In this book, a devoted couple discovers that what they do have isn’t nearly as wonderful as what they could have with a person who can provide them with that special spark that they didn’t even realize they were missing.

By all appearances, Daniel and Naya appear to be a couple perfectly in sync. Naya is the gifted but insecure dancer who could take the world by storm if she would only believe more in her own talent. Daniel is the quiet but powerful businessman with his own gift for raising and investing money, and who provides the security and balance Naya needs to keep herself from sinking in self-doubt. The one thing Daniel can’t give Naya, however, is the fulfillment she gets only from submitting herself to a Dominant for the extreme pain which clears her mind and settles her soul. He knows it’s what she needs and craves, but he just can’t bring himself to inflict any pain, no matter what.

When Naya begins her new job at Club Devant, the attraction between her and Remy, the lead choreographer and dancer, is electric. Their first practice dance together is just shy of full-on sexual intercourse, with no heed to who might be watching them on stage. When Daniel sees how Remy dominates Naya so thoroughly just in that dance, he realizes that Remy could be the perfect Dom for what Naya needs….and perhaps even for what he himself has always needed, but never admitted to himself before now. Remy is understandably suspicious when Daniel invites him to spend the evening with him and Naya, and their class differences are no help in calming his concerns. Why would a rich perfect couple want a Cajun river rat like himself for more than just casual sex? And how can Daniel and Naya be the same together again if Remy refuses to stay?

All three of the main characters in “Chains and Canes” were well developed and enjoyable to read about, and it was great to see how they fit in the Club Devant world already established in the first book. We also got to see more about how the club operates and a bit more background on the owner, Declan, and his omnipresent security cameras. Club Devant is a place that I wish really existed, because I’d love to go there and see the shows I read about in the series.

But ultimately for me, the key to my enjoyment of “Chains and Canes” was Daniel. Daniel was the character with the most to lose, and the one who underwent the most changes to his life and sense of self. What made him so compelling was that in spite of all the enormous changes he experiences in this story, he never wavers from who he is and what he wants. He knows he loves Naya and wants to do everything to make her happy. But he also realizes that he feels the same way about Remy, and for the same reasons. His loyalty to them both as well as his own quiet strength of purpose is what made me care for him most of all. I was actively rooting for him to succeed in his quest to protect his loved ones while still being true to his own wants and desires. His journey as a character is truly remarkable, and reason enough to read “Chains and Canes”. I look forward to new intriguing stories and passionate characters from Katie Porter in the next Club Devant book.


Overall: 4.5
Sensuality level: 4.5 (M/M/F menage, several BDSM scenes including caning and anal play)

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Review: Burn by Maya Banks

This review originally appeared at Seductive Musings:

Review: Burn by Maya Banks

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in return for an honest review at

This review may contain spoilers for Rush and Fever. You could read Burn as a stand-alone book, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Now that Gabe and Jace are both settled in committed relationships with the women who fulfill their need for dominance and control, only Ash is left as the last single man standing. The loss of Jace as his regular threesomes partner has been especially hard for Ash, as he’s never really wanted to be intimate with a woman one on one. When he sees the beautiful girl sitting at the cafe with a sketchbook in hand, he can’t help but appreciate her beauty. But when he realizes that the ill fitting choker around her neck is actually a collar, his attention is immediately focused on the possibility of making her his own submissive.

Josie is trying to live a carefree artist’s life after experiencing so much personal pain and loss in her past. She thought that a Dominant/submissive relationship with Michael would give her the caring and support she never really knew as a child. Ash helps her see that she’s been doing all the giving while getting none in return, and he convinces her to try letting him take care of her in all the ways she truly deserves.

“Burn” is the story of how Josie learns to trust and Ash learns how to love. Along the way, we see exactly why Ash has cut himself off from his dysfunctional family and the return of a threat that first appeared in “Rush”, the first book in the Breathless series. By the end of “Burn” we discover just how far Ash is willing to go to protect the ones he loves, and how his need for control has the potential to ruin all their lives if he doesn’t figure out just how far is too far.

After reading the first two books in the Breathless series, I was ready to find out more about Ash, as I suspected that he was equally controlling and Dominant as his friends but was better at keeping it under wraps. The progression of the trust and love between Ash and Josie is somewhat more realistically paced when compared to the previous books, although all three do feature the combination of “insta-lust” and a compressed timeline. My feeling about it is that this works within this series, since these men are in their late thirties and finally ready for a permanent commitment once they find the women who are perfect for them.

When he begins his D/s relationship with Josie, it’s obvious that Ash is trying to learn from the mistakes both Gabe and Jace had made when they were in the same situation, yet he still manages to mess up on the one point that Josie treasured most – her sense of financial independence. Although I understood why she was angry, I was annoyed that she completely flipped out without even talking to him first, but then realized that her actions were necessary to set in motion the final confrontation with the threat to them all that had begun back in the first book. Maybe I’ve just been reading too many Maya Banks books lately, because it seemed like the plot gears were more obvious in “Burn” than in the previous books, and the way the threat was ultimately resolved seemed almost anti-climactic when compared to the build-up toward its end. But the sense of family between all the characters was just as enjoyable as in the previous two books and it was great to see Josie welcomed by all the people Ash considered as his real family. At the end of “Rush”, we see all the characters settled and happy, with all the loose ends tied up in a way that doesn’t feel forced. and that’s part of what makes it a satisfying read.

If you’re new to the books of Maya Banks, the Breathless series is a great place to start. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all three of them and look forward to more great stories from Maya Banks in the near future.


Overall: 4.5
Sensuality level: 4

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Review: Turn and Burn by Lorelei James

Turn and Burn (Blacktop Cowboys, #5)
This review originally appeared at Romancing Rakes for the Love of Romance:

{Michele Review} Turn and Burn by Lorelei James

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Rating: 4 hearts: I loved it

Lorelei James’ Blacktop Cowboys series is one of my personal favorites and one that doesn’t seem to get as much publicity as her more well-known Rough Riders series about the McKay family. It’s the residents of Muddy Gap, Wyoming, who are the real family in this series, and the stories are about the relationships they form with each other and with those lucky newcomers who happen to stumble onto this small but caring community. “Turn and Burn” is the fifth book in the series and the second to feature a couple that we already know from previous books.

Both Tanna Barker and August “Fletch” Fletcher are known and loved secondary characters to those familiar with the Blacktop Cowboys. Tanna is the wildly successful barrel racer from Texas who was a good friend and sounding board to Lainie and Celia earlier in the series. Fletch has lived in Muddy Gap all his life and is now the dedicated but severely overworked large animal veterinarian on whom the whole town depends for the care of their ranch animals.

These two have never met in person until the night when they hook up for some hot anonymous sex in a honky tonk just outside Muddy Gap. Tanna is having the worst year of her life after a tragic rodeo accident just after the loss of both her mother and her childhood home. Fletch is looking for some out-of-town female companionship before returning to his lonely home. When he sees Tanna at the bar, and hears the wild stories she’s telling each man who approaches, he knows this is no ordinary woman and that he must have her for as long as he can. Their amazing night together convinces Fletch that what they have goes beyond mere sex. Now if he could only convince Tanna.

I’m a huge fan of the Blacktop Cowboys series and returning to Muddy Gap is like coming home for me with each new book. I have great affection for all of the characters and was so happy to see Tanna and Fletch find each other and that part of their lives that was missing until then. After all the betrayals and disappointments she’s experienced over the past year, it takes everything she’s got for Tanna to trust in both Fletch and herself, as she finally faces what she needs to do to “get back on the horse”, both figuratively and literally. Fletch has to learn how to cope with his unfamiliar possessive feelings for Tanna and wanting to be the one who heals Tanna from her hurt when all that does is make her want to run from him. Throughout the story, we get to catch up with all the previous characters and see how all the people who have been helped by Tanna and Fletch in the past now get to return that favor with interest. “Turn and Burn” is a wonderful addition to the Blacktop Cowboys series and I’m looking forward to seeing who Lorelei James manages to pair off next in the tiny town of Muddy Gap, Wyoming.

Favorite Quote:

“You’re awful bossy for the one who ain’t in charge.”
“Who says I’m not in charge?”

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There’s another item checked off my bucket list.

I’m in the Wall Street Journal, confessing how many audiobooks I owned as of last Wednesday. (It’s more now.)

Can You Hear Me Now? The New Explosion in Audio Books

What Alexandra didn’t mention in that final quote was that I listened to that book – all 32 hours and 2 minutes of it – on a Palm Pilot. Yes, that was the first book I ever bought on Audible over 7 years ago and I still remember whole passages as though it were yesterday. It’s a fantastic story with a wonderful narrator and it’s still one of the best books I ever “read” that way. The scene where Mr. Norrell shows up the theoretical magicians with his practical magic is especially memorable and I can still quote parts of how the narrator made it come alive for me.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell on Audible