Monthly Archives: October 2013

Review: The Wrong Billionaire’s Bed by Jessica Clare

The Wrong Billionaire's Bed (Billionaire Boys Club, #3)The Wrong Billionaire’s Bed by Jessica Clare

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review. The full version of this review can be found at Night Owl Reviews.

When Reese first meets Audrey in a hilarious scene involving a hot tub and a naked woman, it seems impossible that they could ever fall in love with each other. But Jessica Clare shows us each step of how Reese gets behind the walls Audrey has lived behind for so long, and how Audrey comes to see that Reese, not Cade, is the man she’s meant to be with. Their intimate scenes are at first fun and then serious, but they are always hot and exceedingly well written. The payoff of all the characters’ plotting and motivations is an ending that is touching and real without losing the sense of humor that runs through all three books. I loved “The Wrong Billionaire’s Bed” and I’m eagerly anticipating the next book in the series. 4.5 stars

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Review: Snowbound with the CEO by Shannon Stacey

Snowbound with the CEOSnowbound with the CEO by Shannon Stacey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Romancing Rakes for the Love of Romance.

Rating: ~4 hearts: I loved it!

One of my favorite romance tropes is the office romance with characters who are secretly attracted to each other, and when one of those characters is the boss, the ultimate revelation of the secret is all the more appealing for me. In SNOWBOUND WITH THE CEO, we get the caring and considerate boss and his efficient executive assistant, neither of whom dares make a move on the other for fear of ruining their successful work relationship. It takes the intervention of Mother Nature to force them together in a secluded hideaway where they finally feel safe enough to make the next move toward happiness.

Adrian Blackstone is the adorable CEO with a heart who never dared acknowledge his attraction to his assistant until he saw her off the clock at the hotel bar after they were both stranded by a fast moving blizzard. Rachel Carter has been crushing on Adrian for over a year but knows that doing anything about it would end the best job she’s ever had. The protected bubble of their forced hotel stay helps them finally act on what they both want. But when the roads are clear and they have to return to the real world, what seemed so clear before might not be what they can actually have.

SNOWBOUND WITH THE CEO is much like a category romance in its setup, plot, and conclusion, but because this is Shannon Stacey, the writing never falls into cliché. We get to see why the hero and heroine are so drawn to one another, and why their return to the office makes them both behave in ways that each completely misinterprets as a rejection of the other. The misunderstandings are understandable and never too frustrating, making the ultimate resolution between them all the sweeter at the end. As an avowed lover of epilogues, I was also quite happy with the one presented here. My only real dissatisfaction with the story was that it was so short, even shorter than the category romance which is so strongly resembles. But the length doesn’t prevent SNOWBOUND WITH THE CEO from being yet another satisfying read from Shannon Stacey, and I’ll continue to read pretty much anything she writes.

Favorite Quote:

She tried to pull away, but he held her fast. “Whoa. First, your job is not in jeopardy. You are invaluable to me. You could probably whack me over the head with a wine bottle and steal my wallet and I wouldn’t fire you. Second, I like the Greek god thing. And third, since I’ve only heard you call me Adrian in my mind — sometimes when I’m dreaming and sometimes when I’m in the shower — I want to hear it from you more often.”

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Review: Wicked and Dangerous by Shayla Black and Rhyannon Byrd

Wicked and Dangerous (Wicked Lovers, #7.5)Wicked and Dangerous by Shayla Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Night Owl Reviews. The full review can be found here.

The connection of “Wicked All Night” to her Wicked Lovers series is tenuous at best (Decker works for the Santiago brothers whose love story was told in “Ours to Love”) but the fast pace and scorching hot sex scenes of that series are more than present here and I was a happy reader all the way to the whirlwind ending. 4.5 stars

“Make Me Yours”
Although I wasn’t familiar with this author or series, the quality of the writing and the story kept me riveted all the way through. My only frustration came from how Ryder would continue to push Lily away even though they both knew they could never be apart forever. But I was entertained enough that I will be seeking out the first book in the series (“Take Me Under”) to read about the other characters living in Moss Creek, Louisiana. 3.5 stars

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Review: Unbound by Cara McKenna

UnboundUnbound by Cara McKenna

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

In a genre filled with dominant billionaire alpha heroes, Cara McKenna’s UNBOUND bucks the current trend with one of the most wonderfully developed beta heroes I’ve ever read and a fully realized heroine more than capable of giving him exactly what he needs, even at possible cost to her own future happiness.

Merry’s life has been turned upside down by the death of her beloved mother and her own dramatic weight loss. Not knowing what to do next, she decides that a solo hike through her mother’s home country of Scotland will be an excellent way to make a break between the old and the new, and perhaps come to some conclusions about her future. Everything is going great until Merry drinks the wrong sort of water and in her weakened state, literally stumbles across the cottage in the middle of nowhere where Rob is hiding from the world.

Rob has a whole list of very good reasons why he’s deliberately isolated himself from everything and everyone, and those reasons don’t go away just because a nosy and overly talkative young lass from America can’t leave him be. But Merry likes his looks and demeanor, and is determined to discover why such a soft spoken and good looking man would want to be a hermit. As their mutual curiosity soon grows into desire, it’s not certain whether Rob and Merry are prepared to handle the aftermath when all the secrets he’d hoped were buried forever begin to emerge.

I’m not sure how I can discuss how much I loved this book without sounding like the worst sort of fangirl. Cara McKenna is near the top of my auto-buy list and when I found out she was writing the story of a beta hero who was also a hermit, I knew this was a story I needed to read. One of the things I loved about UNBOUND was that although Merry’s extreme weight loss was part of the motivation for her trek through Scotland, it wasn’t a major focal point in the book, as so often happens with this type of character development. Compared to Rob, Merry is actually in a good place emotionally, which is how she’s able to recognize Rob’s melancholy and help him get past his sense of shame in confronting his deepest desires. It’s Rob who ultimately makes this a five star read for me, as Cara McKenna slowly uncovers why he needed to hide and how Merry helps him see that it’s time to embrace civilization — and love — once again. Their love story is both passionate and poignant, and the ending made me cry. UNBOUND is a perfect example of why Cara McKenna continues to be one of the best writers working in any genre today.


Overall: 5
Sensuality level: 4 (D/s role play including light bondage and verbal humiliation)

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Early Review: Ivan’s Captive Submissive by Ann Mayburn

Ivan's Captive Submissive (Submissive's Wish, #1)Ivan’s Captive Submissive by Ann Mayburn

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Full disclosure: I have met Ann Mayburn in real life and she is just as nice a person as you could hope to know. I’ve read most of her backlist and consider myself a big fan.

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

“Ivan’s Captive Submissive” is the first in the new “Submissive’s Wish” series by Ann Mayburn and if this story is any indication, readers who love BDSM romance are in for a real treat. Submissive auctions aren’t a new idea, but the details of how the Submissive’s Wish Charity Auction works puts a new twist on the tried and true setup by adding a philanthropic facet to the outcome. Each submissive is still “sold” for outrageous sums to thoroughly vetted Masters and Mistresses, but the bulk of the money goes to the submissive’s charity of choice, with a fractional remainder paid out to the submissive once the week of service has been completed.

Gia Lopez has worked hard for the small measure of success she’s earned in spite of her humble beginnings and family heartbreak. Being able to raise a huge amount of money for herself and her local pet shelter while getting a week with a real live Master seems like the opportunity of a lifetime for her. She has been carefully trained as a submissive by a skilled married couple but this would be her first real world experience serving her own Master. But would anyone actually bid on a newly trained submissive with a wicked temper and a desire for forced seduction?

Ivan is the mysterious and handsome Dom who wins Gia’s service for a week with an extraordinarily large bid. As we eventually learn, Ivan can easily afford that and anything else Gia might desire, including an elaborate staging of what Gia believes is a real kidnapping but is really just Ivan’s attempt to give her the fantasy she’d said she really wanted. Can any true relationship, even a D/s one, really be forged out of such a traumatic beginning? Or is Gia fooling herself that Ivan thinks of her as something more than a temporary amusement?

One of the things Ann Mayburn does best is write a scene between a Dom/me and a submissive that is both incendiary and intense. Even when Ivan is pretending to be Gia’s kidnapper instead of the Master who bought her, he is still a fascinating and irresistible character, one that any woman would want to dominate her if she were so inclined. GIa’s mind may insist at first that she’s just experiencing Stockholm Syndrome but her body is completely on board for wherever this ride will take her. Ivan and Gia’s intimate scenes together only become more impassioned after the kidnapping ruse is abandoned and they start forming a more tender bond with one another. This emotional bonding between the hero and heroine is what I’ve come to expect as a regular reader of Ann Mayburn’s books and “Ivan’s Captive Submissive” did not disappoint in that category.

There were, however, a few issues I had with the story that were troubling enough to keep me from giving it a higher rating. The main problem I had was with Gia herself. We’re told that she has a quick temper and we definitely see that excitability in play several times throughout the book. High spirits are one thing, but for me it seemed that she was always looking for something to be offended or angry about. While that worked well in a remarkable scene where she lays direct claim to Ivan in front of other submissives who would dare attempt to touch him in front of her, Gia’s tendency to snap was especially problematic for me in the penultimate scene of the book.

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I was also concerned that Gia really didn’t know all that much about Ivan, other than that he was incredibly wealthy and had a large extended family in the immediate Moscow area. We the readers are told that Ivan has family connections with both the Russian underworld and spy agencies, but it wasn’t until nearly the end of the book before Gia indicates that she even knows his last name. Gia’s worries about committing herself to this man are more than understandable and I was relieved that the book ended with a Happy For Now, because neither of them is quite ready for anything beyond that yet.

Those issues aside, I did enjoy reading “Ivan’s Captive Submissive” and will definitely be reading the next book in the series. Ann Mayburn always writes heroes that make me swoon and I can’t wait to meet the next winning bidder at the Submissive’s Wish Charity Auction.

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Review: Lady in Red by Maire Claremont

Lady in Red (Mad Passions, #2)Lady in Red by Maire Claremont

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review at Romancing Rakes for the Love of Romance.

Maire Claremont is a new author for me, but when I saw the blurb of LADY IN RED, I couldn’t wait to get started reading it. I was immediately sucked in to the plight of Lady Mary Darrel, a woman starved and bedraggled, pleading for help at the doorstep of a London brothel as her last best hope for rescue. She was abused and misused at the hands of those doing the bidding of her monstrous father, the one who had locked her away in a madhouse after she’d witnessed his murder of her beloved mother. Her escape came at a great cost to herself and others, and now her incipient freedom might do likewise to those who will help her seek her vengeance.

When Edward Barrons sees Mary bathing upstairs in a whorehouse bedroom, he initially mistakes her for one of the working girls. After she sets him straight in a most direct fashion, it’s her spirit that calls to him as much as her only slightly diminished beauty. As Duke of Fairleigh, he has the power and social standing to protect her from her father, but only inasmuch as she will allow. As Mary begins to recover and prepares herself to take revenge on those who have harmed her, she and Edward start to bond in a way which could end in their mutual happiness if only they can confront their individual demons in time to see the light.

LADY IN RED was an intense read for me, one where I was so captivated by Mary and Edward and the terrible danger they were in that I was actually afraid to finish the book, deliberately putting it aside after reading a rare happy moment so I could finish it the next day. I especially enjoyed the presence of Edward’s cynical friend, Viscount Powers, who was just as damaged as Mary and Edward, yet was in a unique position to commiserate more fully with them individually than they were able to with each other. Once Mary is set on the path of revenge by Edward, the story hurtles along toward that dread goal, picking up speed along the way and sending me down a foreboding path of not knowing how it all could possibly end well for anyone. Reading THE RED LADY was a fantastic rollercoaster ride of emotions and I’m still experiencing a well-earned book hangover days later. I’ve already bought the first book in the Mad Passions series, THE DARK LADY, to read next, and I’m very pleased to see that Viscount Powers will be the hero of THE DARK AFFAIR. Maire Claremont is now one of my very favorite historical romance writers, and I have LADY IN RED to thank for that.

Favorite Quote:

“Why are you so afraid?” she whispered.
“I am afraid of nothing,” he snapped, bracing his palms on the mantel.
“Fear and I are intimate acquaintances, Edward. You are in its bed.”

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Audiobook Review: Covet by Tracey Garvis-Graves


Title: Covet
Author: Tracey Garvis-Graves
Narrated by Kathleen McInerney, Scott Aiello
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Length: 9 hrs and 9 mins
Release Date: 9/17/2013

A copy of this audiobook was provided to me by Audiobook Jukebox for an honest review.

COVET is the story of a woman trying to hang onto the life she has and a man who wishes he could have that life — and her — for his own. Claire Canton’s husband Chris was out of work for over a year, and for a man who defined himself by the ability to provide for his family, the results to him and their marriage were devastating. It was only when Claire insisted he get treatment for his depression and he finally found a new job that things started to turn around, however slowly. But when the new job takes Chris away from home for days on end, the loneliness threatens to overwhelm Claire completely.

Officer Daniel Rush once had a version of the life Claire is fighting to keep, complete with a woman who looked very much like her. When he pulls Claire over for a burned out taillight, it begins a chain of events leading to a dangerous friendship, one that could sever the last threads binding Claire to her husband and family forever.

When I read COVET earlier this year, it affected me so strongly that I started crying at about the halfway point and continued crying all the way to the end. The story is so perfectly described and beautifully written that I felt everything Claire was experiencing as though it was my own life. I wanted her to find the happiness she’d thought she’d once had, but I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for Chris and I was rooting for Daniel the whole way, as shocking as that may sound.

But the great thing about this audiobook presentation is that there are both male and female narrators, and Scott Aiello’s voicing of both Chris and Daniel’s points of view provided the extra nuance I needed to understand both men much better than I had before. I appreciated how he was able to clearly delineate between the two men so that I never had a problem knowing who was speaking, even when the chapters went directly from one to another in the story. As Claire, Kathleen McInerney provides the majority of the narration for COVET and does a wonderful job of conveying just how lonely and sad Claire has been in her marriage and how her relationship with Daniel was both the best and worst thing that could have happened to her. Ms. McInerney is also skilled at voicing the various female friends in Claire’s life, as well as the children, which can often sound forced with a less talented narrator.

The talents of both narrators in COVET not only made the story even more enjoyable for me, they gave me new insight to all three of the main characters and made the best book I’ve read this year even better. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Review: The Training by Tara Sue Me

The Training (The Submissive Trilogy, #3)The Training by Tara Sue Me

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

This review may contain spoilers for The Submissive and The Dominant, the first two books in the Submissive trilogy. You could read The Training as a stand-alone book, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

After the riveting start in The Submissive and a somewhat tepid retelling of the same story from the hero’s POV in The Dominant, we now get the touching conclusion to Abby and Nathaniel’s love story in The Training. Our hero and heroine have finally realized that they should give their chance at love one more try, and they both work hard to overcome their doubts about themselves and each other. During this time of reconciliation, Nathaniel and Abby learn to harmonize their need for a part-time Dominant/submissive relationship with their fragile new status as boyfriend and girlfriend, but the road to the perfect balance is not easy, and it takes some help from Nathaniel’s mentor in the BDSM lifestyle to show them the way forward.

Although I loved The Submissive, I found The Dominant somewhat less enjoyable since it was basically the same story, although I did appreciate being able to understand what had gone before from Nathaniel’s point of view. What helped make The Training a success for me was having both Abby’s and Nathaniel’s POV available, each moving the story forward rather than simply recapping what had already been described from the other’s perspective. I got a much better handle on their individual concerns and motivations, and was relieved that the author was able to avoid the spectre of “head-hopping” which derails so many books with multiple first person narratives. Best of all, the ups and downs that occur between Nathaniel and Abby throughout The Training only help to make their Happy Ever After even more enjoyable when they finally get that happy balance that they’ve worked so hard to achieve together. (And yes, I did cheer when I saw there was an epilogue. I love epilogues and this one was sweet.)

The Training is a satisfying conclusion to the Submissive trilogy and I recommend it to readers who love a tender romance along with their kinky sexy-time reads.


Overall: 4
Sensuality level: 4 (heavy BDSM including anal sex and caning)

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Review: South of Surrender by Laura Kaye

South of Surrender (Hearts of the Anemoi, #3)South of Surrender by Laura Kaye

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Romancing Rakes for the Love of Romance.

This review may contain spoilers for NORTH OF NEED and WEST OF WANT. You could try to read SOUTH OF SURRENDER as a stand-alone book, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

SOUTH OF SURRENDER continues Laura Kaye’s Hearts of the Anemoi series with the story of how Chrysander Notos, Anemoi and Keeper of the South Wind, stumbles on the one human woman who will love him for himself while trying to save his brothers and the world from the inevitable war between the Winds.

Laney Summerlyn may not consider herself truly happy with her life, but she has found contentment in the routine of caring for injured horses at the Maryland farm left to her by her late grandfather. Although her sight is nearly gone, thanks to the progression of Retinitis Pigmentosa, she can get around fairly well in her familiar surroundings and what she can’t do alone, her good friend Seth Griffin can assist her where she’ll allow him. But her sense of security is ripped away forever on the night when a violent windstorm ends with what appears to be a Pegasus crashing down through the ceiling of her barn. In the morning, the winged horse has transformed into a man whose presence Laney can’t stop desiring. But that presence has also put her in terrible danger from Eurus, Keeper of the East Wind, who has vowed to destroy all his fellow Keepers and anyone close to them.

Chrysander is the last Anemoi brother who believes he can still reach his rogue brother Eurus to keep him from destroying everything in his path. When Eurus responds by nearly killing him in a fight in the sky over Laney’s horse farm, Chrysander’s life is saved only by her ministrations. Their mutual attraction is immediate and powerful, yet Chrys believes he can only keep Laney safe by leaving her. But Eurus has already witnessed their desire for each other, and will stop at nothing to ensure that everyone he believed has wronged him will pay with their lives.

I was glad that I had already read the first two books in the Hearts of the Anemoi series because SOUTH OF SURRENDER contains significantly more development in the ongoing story of the war between the Keepers of the Winds. I was already vested in wanting to know the outcome of the ongoing war between the brothers, especially with all the terrible things Eurus has done, including murder. But I did wish that there might have been a bit less mythological exposition and a little more development in the romance between Chrysander and Laney. It was great that she was able to show him that there was such a thing as true lasting love by the way she never hesitated to put herself in harm’s way for his sake. Yet it would have been nice to have seen more grounding in that selflessness beyond the fact that she was just that nice of a person combined with what seemed to be insta-love for both of them.

SOUTH OF SURRENDER is at its best when it shows the enduring love between each of the Anemoi brothers and the women with whom they have chosen to share their lives. They provided the perfect examples for Chrysander and Laney to see that a god could truly be happy with one woman, goddess or human. It remains to be seen how much happiness will remain, however, when the final confrontation with Eurus takes place in the next book in the Hearts of the Anemoi series.

Favorite Quote:

Their connection — the way they fit together, the way they complemented one another, the fundamental feeling of rightness he felt when he was with her — he couldn’t deny it any longer.
Whatever happened. Whatever was right or wrong. Whether the world woke up in the morning or was going to bed for the very last time. He loved Laney Summerlyn to the very center of his being.
The fierceness of the feeling simply wouldn’t be denied.

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Review: I Only Have Eyes for You by Bella Andre

I Only Have Eyes for You (The Sullivans, #4)I Only Have Eyes for You by Bella Andre

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Romancing Rakes For The Love Of Romance.

I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU is the fourth book in Bella Andre’s best-selling Sullivans series and the first with a Sullivan sister as the heroine of the story. The two youngest Sullivan siblings are twin sisters named Lori and Sophie, but their brothers usually refer to them as ‘Naughty’ and ‘Nice’. It’s difficult enough for Sophie Sullivan to establish an identity independent of her wild and unpredictable twin. But when Jake McCann, the man she’s been in love with all her life, continues to behave like another one of her six older and overprotective brothers, Sophie decides to finally make him see her as someone who is capable of being an adult woman worthy of his attention.

Jake McCann is the best friend of Sophie’s brother Zach and practically a member of the Sullivan family after hanging out at their home throughout his troubled childhood. He owed them all so much for looking after him when his own family had let him down, and so would never allow himself to consider making any moves on either Sullivan sister. Yet he can’t help but notice how beautiful Sophie has grown and how much he would like to be with her if she’d only been anyone else. She deserved better than a guy from the wrong side of the tracks who’d had plenty of sex but would never make a real commitment to any woman.

It’s during the wedding of Sophie’s brother Chase that Sophie makes her move, playing up her appearance so that she looks just as seductive and glamorous as her twin. What Sophie doesn’t know is that over the past several months, Jake has already become aware of her as a romantic interest, despite every instinct telling him it could never work out between them. So when Jake sees the new grown-up Sophie in the way she wanted, not even Sophie’s brothers can douse what ignites between them after the wedding is over. The repercussions of what happens on that night will ensure none of their lives will ever be the same.

I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU was so heartfelt and dramatic that it actually had me worried Sophie and Jake might not find their way back to each other in time to enjoy their happy ending. Bella Andre helped me appreciate why they each behaved as they did, even though their actions were often frustrating, and it was gratifying to see them slowly work through all their issues to build a true relationship out of what had begun as a single night of passion.

I’m a big fan of all the Bella Andre Sullivan books, but this was the first one that really affected me more than any of the others. I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU is a poignant love story that tore at my heart and made me cry, and I loved every minute of it.

Favorite Quote:

“I love you, Jake McCann. Always.” She felt the wonder, the magic, the beauty of knowing true love had been waiting for them all along. “Forever.”

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