Monthly Archives: February 2014

Release Launch: Cup of Sugar by Karla Doyle

Cup of Sugar cover

Cup of Sugar
© Karla Doyle

Release Date: February 28, 2014
Genre: Hot Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 55,537
Series: Close to Home, Book 1
Price: $2.99

PROMO PRICE: 99¢ between Feb 28-March 7


Nia has one rule—don’t date neighbors. Simple, except the guy next door is single, handsome, and not inclined to close his blinds while naked. When her car dies, Conn takes “being neighborly” to a new level by offering a ride to her long-distance destination. Nia has resisted his looks and charm for months. Surely she can handle a few hours in his truck…

For months, Conn has blatantly put himself on display, hoping his pretty blonde neighbor would tire of secretly watching and come knock on his door for a cup of sugar—or more. No such luck—until an unusual opportunity arises. After a six-hour drive turns into a sweet-and-sexy weekend, Conn wants more than neighborly status with Nia. To get it, he must convince her to break the rule protecting her heart—by putting his on the line.

* * * * *


Nia leaned forward, as close as possible to the windshield, watching Conn inside the motel office. He and a short, older man who was likely the owner had shared a brief conversation. That made sense. Rather than return to the truck, though, Conn pulled his wallet from his jeans. Handed the man a card, then signed something.

That could only mean one thing. She scanned the front of the small building. Four doors, one of which led to the office. Maybe there were more around the back. Plus, this place was in the middle of nowhere—to the best of her knowledge, anyway—so there ought to be plenty of vacant units. Nothing to worry about.

“Hey.” Conn closed the truck door and brushed the snow from his hair. “What do you want first, the good news or the bad?”

“Always lead with the bad, it makes the good look that much better.”

“All right. Apparently, we’ve gone southeast, rather than north, adding about an hour to our drive—in good weather.”

“Which we don’t have.”

“Not at the moment. In fact, the motel owner said they’re predicting another six inches to come overnight.”

She couldn’t help it, a giggle bubbled up and slipped through her lips. “Sorry. It just struck me as, um…” Another giggle escaped, and Conn’s eyebrows rose. “Another six inches to come overnight…under other circumstances, a girl would be excited to hear that prediction.”

Oh god, had she really said that? To the one man she absolutely could not have sex with, while they were parked in front of a motel? Shit, shit, shit.

The damage was done. Conn’s mouth curved into a lethally sexy smile. “Guess I know another interesting fact about you now.”

Heat flared in her cheeks. “And what’s that?”

“You have a dirty mind.”

Whether she confirmed or denied, she’d be in trouble.

Conn didn’t put her through the embarrassment of answering. The torture of leaning across the console area, invading her space with his manly scent and intoxicating pheromones—that he did. He was so close. Close enough to kiss her. Or tickle her ear with his warm breath as he said, “Personally, I predict seven to eight solid inches tonight.”

Oh. Dear. God.

He eased back, grinning as he killed the engine. “The good news is, we chanced upon the only motel in a hundred-kilometer radius before we ran out of gas or landed in a ditch. And it had a vacancy.”

“A vacancy?”

“Yeah, one room left.” As if cued, the red “Vacancy” sign in the office window flickered to black. He held up a plastic fob with a single key dangling from its ring. “And it’s all ours.”
She forced a smile while donning her coat. Sharing a motel room with Conn was definitely not good news.

* * * * *


About Karla:

Karla grew up in a small town on the shore of Lake Erie. She trained and worked in the fashion industry, designing and making everything from swimwear to dog collars for most of her adult life. Karla has since traded her needle and thread for a word processor, and now spends her time writing sexy romances. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with family, friends and her pets, as well as reading and hitting the gym.

Social Media Links for Karla Doyle

‘Cup of Sugar’ Links

Purchase Links
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Review: Hard As You Can by Laura Kaye

Hard as You Can (Hard Ink, #2)Title: As Hard As You Can
Author: Laura Kaye
Series: Hard Ink #2
Genre: contemporary romantic suspense
Publisher: Avon
Format: ebook and print
Release Date: February 25, 2014

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

Publisher Summary:

Five dishonored soldiers.
Former Special Forces.
One last mission.
These are the men of Hard Ink.

Ever since hard-bodied, drop-dead-charming Shane McCallan strolled into the dance club where Crystal Dean works, he’s shown a knack for getting beneath her defenses. For her little sister’s sake, Crystal can’t get too close. Until her job and Shane’s mission intersect, and he reveals talents that go deeper than she could have guessed.

Shane would never turn his back on a friend in need, especially a former Special Forces teammate running a dangerous, off-the-books operation. Nor can he walk away from Crystal. The gorgeous waitress is hiding secrets she doesn’t want him to uncover. Too bad. He’s exactly the man she needs to protect her sister, her life, and her heart. All he has to do is convince her that when something feels this good, you hold on as hard as you can—and never let go.

My Review:

This review contains spoilers for Hard As It Gets, the first book in the HARD INK series. You could try to read Hard As You Can as a stand-alone, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

One of the trends I’ve been noticing lately in romantic suspense is when each book in a series has its own self-contained romance with an HEA while simultaneously continuing a overall story arc which won’t be resolved until the last book. I really like this type of hybrid plot, because then I don’t have to suffer a cliffhanger used to keep the hero and heroine apart just so the reader will feel hooked into reading the next book. Yet, I am still most definitely hooked, because each book gives me a little bit more of the puzzle that will ultimately end with the bad guys brought to justice and the heroes/heroines free to live their lives without constant fear.

In Laura Kaye’s new HARD INK series, we have been introduced to five men who once were the closest of comrades as they fought together in the Special Forces. When the man who had earned their trust through his leadership then betrayed that trust in the most terrible way possible, it was these five who had survived the jungle ambush, only to be betrayed yet again by their own government. After they were forced to resign in disgrace without being able tell anyone why, each of the men went his own separate way. But when the family of the man who had betrayed them were threatened by the same unknown forces which had engineered their dismissals, each of the five come back together to protect those who are now in danger, with the goal of uncovering who was behind their betrayal and find the evidence they need to clear their names.

The first book in this series, Hard As It Gets, told the story of the group’s unofficial leader, Nick Rixey, and how he found the love of his life with Becca Merritt, the daughter of the man whose treachery he could never forgive. Now that the group is all together at the heavily fortified location of Hard Ink, the Baltimore tattoo parlor owned by Nick and his brother Jeremy, their new mission is to find out who paid off Colonel Merritt and ordered the kidnapping of Becca’s brother, Charlie. Charlie was successfully rescued at the end of the first book, but only because Crystal, one of the waitresses at the seedy strip club where he was being held, decided to help them by not sounding the alarm.

Shane owes both his life and the success of Charlie’s rescue to Crystal, but that’s not why he can’t get her out of his mind. Ever since the loss of his beloved sister to kidnappers when he was just a child himself, Shane has been fixated on rescuing other women in similar straits, in the hopes that one day he’ll find his sister. In the brief moments they had shared, Crystal pushed all of Shane’s hot buttons, and not just because she looked like she needed rescuing herself. So when Shane needs to return to the strip club to suss out more information on who is threatening the Merritt siblings, it’s Crystal whom he seeks out, hoping to discover what she knows and perhaps more.

Crystal is counting the days until she and her sister can leave Baltimore and the people who control their lives. Their father owed debts to the powerful street gang that needed to be worked off after his death, one way or the other. Crystal has sacrificed her body and freedom in order to keep her sister protected, so when Shane reappears, the danger he presents overpowers any sense of hope that he could help them both escape. But Shane has never taken no for an answer, and it takes all of his persuasive powers to slowly work his way into Crystal’s life, and eventually, her heart.

I loved how Hard As You Can picked up immediately where the previous book left off, and as its complicated series of events unfolded, I was able to thoroughly enjoy Shane and Crystal’s romance without worrying that the book wouldn’t be trying to wrap everything related to the overall story arc just yet. The reasons behind Crystal’s decisions are unveiled at just the right pace, and the way her life story meshes with what motivates Shane to his own behaviors make it all the more obvious why they would both be drawn to each other even as they are justifiably concerned that it’s a mistake for them both. A reasonable reader could certainly point out that the transformation of their insta-lust into declarations of love by the end of the book might be based more on codependency than a true emotional connection. For me, however, the romance worked, as Laura Kaye showed how both Shane and Crystal were able to move beyond the forced proximity based on mutual peril to an unselfish and genuine love that can only get stronger once the people who threaten them are neutralized. I look forward to seeing how their relationship deepens as the series continues.

If you enjoy romantic suspense with hot alpha heroes and heroines who more than hold their own, you can’t go wrong with Laura Kaye’s HARD INK series. Hard As You Can was just as great a read as the first book, and I can’t wait to see which of these heroes is featured in the next story. 4 stars.


Cover Reveal: Desired by Stacey Kennedy

Publisher: Loveswept
(Random House Publishing Group)
ISBN: 9780553391183
Release date: July 22, 2014

Readers of Fifty Shades of Grey are sure to love Desired, Stacey Kennedy’s latest seductive, electrifying novel of Club Sin, where fantasy becomes reality.

Kyler Morgan, Master at the legendary Club Sin in Las Vegas, knows how to give women what they want—too well. He hasn’t had a real challenge in a long time. Then Ella Snow enters his life. Beautiful, inhibited, and innocent in the ways of submission and domination, Ella is the new blood he’s been lusting after. Soon, the thrill of training her to embrace his world brings forth desires Kyler cannot control.

After ending an abusive relationship, Ella makes a promise to herself to start living life to the fullest. It’s one of the reasons she seeks out Club Sin. Here, Kyler’s every touch is a lesson in liberation, stirring passions that have no bounds. But as she falls under Kyler’s command, Ella discovers that some secrets are so dark they must come to light. Submission alone may not be enough to save her, leaving her Master with only one question: How can he help Ella heal while unlocking the deep pleasures she craves?

Desired is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.

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About the Author:

USA Today Bestselling Author, Stacey Kennedy is an urban fantasy lover at heart, but she also enjoys losing herself in dark and sensual worlds. She lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, who gave her a happily-ever-after. Together, they have two small children who can always make her smile, and who will never be allowed to read Mommy’s books. If she’s not plugging away at a new story, you’ll find her camping, curling up with the latest flick, or obsessing over Supernatural, True Blood, Lost Girl, and Sons of Anarchy.

Loveswept website

Check out the latest release in the CLUB SIN series…

Publisher: Loveswept
(Random House Publishing Group)
ISBN: 9780804178884
Release date: February 10, 2014

Bared is a seductively haunting tale of control and surrender that will tantalize existing fans of the series, while enticing new readers into the passionate world of Club Sin.” ~Eliza Gayle, New York Times bestselling author of SUBMISSIVE BEAUTY

In a novel that’s perfect for fans of Fifty Shades of Grey, Stacey Kennedy returns to Club Sin with another wicked and wild tale of submission, seduction, and love.

At Las Vegas’s exclusive Club Sin, Aidan Knight is the Master, unleashing the erotic yearnings of his submissive lovers. But his dominant façade conceals a devastating loss—something he instantly recognizes in his personally trained submissive Cora Adams. Sworn to unearth her secrets, Aidan uses his seductive skills to ignite her wildest desires until Cora yields to the pleasure she can find only with him.

Cora came to the BDSM club to act out her sub-and-dom fantasies without ever revealing the heartbreak that haunts her. But Aidan’s masterful touch is bringing her closer to the edge . . . and deeper into a world of control and surrender. He refuses to allow her to submit to any other man—nor does she want to. It’s a dangerous game they’re playing. For as they give in to passion, they must lay bare their souls for a love that could heal—and free—them both.

Bared is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.

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Review: Once In A Lifetime by Jill Shalvis

Once in a Lifetime (Lucky Harbor, #9)Title: Once In A Lifetime
Author: Jill Shalvis
Series: Lucky Harbor #9
Genre: contemporary romance
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Format: ebook and print
Release Date: February 18, 2014

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

Publisher Summary:

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis continues with the ninth installment in her beloved Lucky Harbor series.


After a wrenching loss, Ben McDaniel tried to escape his grief by working in dangerous, war-torn places like Africa and the Middle East. Now he’s back in his hometown and face-to-face with Aubrey Wellington, the hot-as-hell woman who is trouble with a capital T. Family and friends insist she’s not the one to ease his pain, but Aubrey sparks an intense desire that gives Ben hope for the future.

Determined to right the wrongs of her past, Aubrey is working hard to make amends. But by far, the toughest challenge to her plan is sexy, brooding Ben – even though he has absolutely no idea what she’s done . . .

Can this unlikely couple defy the odds and win over the little town of Lucky Harbor?

My Review:

It’s fair to say that the Lucky Harbor series is near the top of my comfort read list and books like Once In A Lifetime are the reason why. In it, we finally get to see two of the more intriguing members of the Lucky Harbor community finally find a forever love with the one person everyone there would have picked as their least likely partner.

Back in high school, Ben only had eyes for Hannah, the “good girl” he’d eventually marry and ultimately lose to a drunk driver, while Aubrey was the “hot mean girl” that everyone loved to hate. Ben had never known just how much Aubrey had wished he was hers instead of Hannah’s, nor had he known about the terrible thing she’d done in anger and regretted ever since. After Hannah’s death, Ben lost himself overseas by working in places too dangerous for people without a death wish. Now that he’s back home, it’s Aubrey who will pose the greatest danger if he can’t manage to keep his distance.

Aubrey didn’t have the shelter of a stable loving home that most of her high school classmates took for granted. All she had was her good looks and a mother who wanted her to make the most of them. This helped cement her reputation in town as the unlikeable hot girl, and all she could do was roll with the punches while getting in a few of her own where she could. Just because everyone’s all grown up now doesn’t mean Lucky Harbor has changed its opinion of Aubrey. The recent mess with the town clerk who lied to her about being married while stealing from the town coffers has only sealed her fate as a seemingly shallow woman who can’t be trusted. She has her small tight-knit circle of friends, but she needs more customers if her new bookstore is going to be any kind of real success. When an accidental confrontation with Ben propels Aubrey into an AA meeting, what she hears there helps her embrace that the idea of taking a fearless moral inventory of the wrongs she needs to right, in the hopes of fixing her karmic future. But when the person she hurt the worst is the man she wants the most, Aubrey wonders if she can be happy in a future that doesn’t include him.

Although none of the Lucky Harbor stories can be really described as light and fluffy, it does seem to me that as we get farther into the series, each succeeding book shows more of the darker side of life there. We now meet characters that didn’t always have the warm feelings for a town that on the surface appears nearly perfect, and we see how their Lucky Harbor childhoods are something to be gotten past, not treasured.. For me, this recent change makes these newer Lucky Harbor books even more enjoyable, and Once In A Lifetime is no exception.

Readers have gotten to know both Ben and Aubrey as supporting characters in the previous two books, and been able to form an opinion based on what was shown there. In the eyes of most people in Lucky Harbor. Ben is the martyred widower so tortured by the untimely death of his wife that he nearly died himself in the world’s political hotspots while trying to help those less fortunate. And Aubrey is the snooty hot girl who never ever deserved the benefit of the doubt in high school, nor years later when she was just as taken in by that rotten Ted Marshall as everyone else in town. So naturally when these two finally act on the sizzling chemistry between them, only Aubrey’s best girlfriends worry for her heart, while everyone else assumes she’s nothing but bad news for the beloved Ben.

But in Once In A Lifetime, we discover that neither of these assumptions is true, as Jill Shalvis slowly reveals what shaped this couple into the adults they are now, and how they are actually perfect for each other now in a way they could have never been before. She doesn’t sugarcoat Aubrey’s past behavior, nor does she give short shrift to Ben’s feelings for his late wife and the rawness of his grief at his loss. But she also shows how they can each move toward a shared happy future while learning lessons from their shared past, and the revelations about each of them are what made their ultimate Happy Ever After even more satisfying for me.

It takes a special talent to create a series about a seemingly perfect town, and then show how even that place isn’t always the most welcoming to everyone without ruining the warm feelings readers have for it from the previous books. In Once In A Lifetime, Jill Shalvis continues her winning streak of consistently enjoyable and moving romances between genuinely portrayed human beings, and I can only hope for more of the same in the Lucky Harbor books still to come. 4.5 stars

Release Day Blog Blitz: Hard As You Can by Laura Kaye


Five dishonored soldiers.
Former Special Forces.
One last mission.
These are the men of Hard Ink.

Today is the release day for Hard As You Can, the second book in Laura Kaye’s exciting new Hard Ink series. It continues the story of five Special Forces comrades who were summarily dismissed from duty after nearly dying in the jungle thanks to the duplicity of a man they’d all once trusted with their lives. After months apart, these men have come together once again to protect that man’s family from those who had orchestrated his betrayal and in the process, find the evidence needed to clear their names once and for all.

HardAsYouCan Cvr Final


HARD AS YOU CAN is your second book in the “Hard Ink” series (after USA Today bestseller, HARD AS IT GETS). What can readers look forward to?

Readers can look forward to tons of sexy alpha male goodness, awesome bromance between the Hard Ink men, more antics from the Hard Ink puppy, and another great love story between Shane and Crystal. But readers should also be ready for a book that is darker, more intense, and more emotional. This book pushed me to emotional places that were tough as a writer, and might be tough for readers, too. But I think that just makes the payoff at the end so much sweeter!

Describe Shane and Crystal. What are their best traits? What are their weaknesses?

Shane and Crystal are such an amazing couple to me. They’re each exactly what the other needs. Shane’s best traits are his protectiveness, his fundamental kindness, and his soul-deep loyalty (his southern accent and humor are also right up there!). His biggest weakness for sure is a tragedy from the past for which he blames himself—and it’s something that continues to motivate him in Hard As You Can. Crystal’s best traits are her courage, protectiveness, and selflessness—she’s willing to do anything to keep her younger sister safe. Her biggest weakness is also that selflessness, because the sacrifices she’s required to make are getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

If you could describe your book in a 140 character tweet, what would it be?

When a woman in trouble assists an ex-soldier’s covert mission to regain his team’s stolen honor, he finds a new mission to save her, too

What are you most excited about with this second book release?

I’m really excited to take readers deeper into these awesome characters and into the mystery behind the Hard Ink team’s ambush and discharge!

What books are you reading right now?

I’m almost done with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander (yes, I’m very late to the party but OMG JAMIE FRASER!!!). And I’ve recently devoured and loved Juliana Stone’s Offsides and Shelly Thacker’s time-travel historical romance, Forever His.

What can fans of your “Hard Ink” series look forward to next?

There will be two more Hard Ink books in 2014!

Hard to Hold on To – August 2014
Hard to Come By – November 2014


Ever since hard-bodied, drop-dead-charming Shane McCallan strolled into the dance club where Crystal Dean works, he’s shown a knack for getting beneath her defenses. For her little sister’s sake, Crystal can’t get too close. Until her job and Shane’s mission intersect, and he reveals talents that go deeper than she could have guessed.

Shane would never turn his back on a friend in need, especially a former Special Forces teammate running a dangerous, off-the-books operation. Nor can he walk away from Crystal. The gorgeous waitress is hiding secrets she doesn’t want him to uncover. Too bad. He’s exactly the man she needs to protect her sister, her life, and her heart. All he has to do is convince her that when something feels this good, you hold on as hard as you can–and never let go.

Read an Extended Excerpt of Book 1, Hard As It Gets
Buy Hard As You Can at Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

About Laura Kaye:

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

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Write On Review-a-thon 2/28/14 – 3/1/14

Write On Review-a-Thon
The Write On review-a-thon is a monthly event created and hosted by Brianna at The Book Vixen. It’s 2 days dedicated to getting reviews done, whether you have one review to write or 30+. This edition of the review-a-thon takes place all day Friday, February 28th and Saturday, March 1st. Let’s get those reviews done!

This will be my first Write On review-a-thon! Here’s the list of reviews I need to write:

  1. Hard As You Can by Laura Kaye
  2. Once In A Lifetime by Jill Shalvis
  3. The Dark Affair by Maire Claremont
  4. Bound by Lorelei James
  5. Need You Tonight by Roni Loren
  6. Theirs to Cherish by Shayla Black

I always seem to let my review list pile up until the last minute, but at least this time I’ll have some extra incentive to meet my deadlines. Many thanks to The Book Vixen for hosting this event.

UPDATE: So I ended up adding a book that I have put off for way too long, but it doesn’t look like I’m going to make the 3/1 deadline. Maybe next time I need to sign up for a 3 day review-a-thon!

FINAL UPDATE: I got the last two done but not officially during the review-a-thon period. Better luck next time, I guess!

Blog Tour: Once In A Lifetime by Jill Shalvis

ONCE IN A LIFETIME by Jill Shalvis (February 18, 2014; Grand Central Publishing Mass Market; $6.00)

After a wrenching loss, Ben McDaniel tried to escape his grief by working in dangerous, war-torn places like Africa and the Middle East. Now he’s back in his hometown and face-to-face with Aubrey Wellington, the hot-as-hell woman who is trouble with a capital T. Family and friends insist she’s not the one to ease his pain, but Aubrey sparks an intense desire that gives Ben hope for the future.

Determined to right the wrongs of her past, Aubrey is working hard to make amends. But by far, the toughest challenge to her plan is sexy, brooding Ben – even though he has absolutely no idea what she’s done . . .Can this unlikely couple defy the odds and win over the little town of Lucky Harbor?

Excerpt 1

A few snowflakes floated lazily out of the low, dense clouds. One block over, the Pacific Ocean carved into the harbor, which was lined by three-story high, rugged bluffs teeming with the untouched forestland that was the Olympic Mountains. Around him, the oak-lined streets were strung with white lights, shining brightly through the morning gloom.

Peaceful. Still.

A month ago, he’d been in South America, elbows deep in a project rebuilding a water system for the war-torn land. Before that, he’d been in Haiti. And before that, Africa. And before that … Indonesia? Hell, it might have been another planet for all he remembered. It was all rolling together. He went to places after disaster hit, whether man or nature made, and he saw people at their very worst moments. Sometimes he changed lives, sometimes he improved them, but at some point over the past five years, he’d become numb to it. So much so that when he’d gone to check out a new jobsite at the wrong place, only to have the right place blown to bits by a suicide bomber just before he got there, he’d finally realized something.

He didn’t always have to be the guy on the front line. He could design and plan water systems for devastated countries from anywhere. Hell, he could become a consultant instead. Five years of wading knee deep in crap, both figuratively and literally, was enough for anyone. He didn’t want to be in the right hellhole next time.

So he’d come home, with no idea what was next.

Excerpt 2

It was dark outside when she got back to the Book & Bean, and she stopped short just outside the door.

She’d locked up when she left and turned off the lights.

But the door was unlocked now, and the lights on. She went still, then pulled out her phone and dialed 9-1-1. She didn’t hit send but kept her thumb hovered over call. Taking a step inside, she paused. “Hello?”


The low, slightly rough voice wasn’t what had her heart pumping. That honor went to the fact that there was a man on a ladder in the back of her store.


He was in jeans with a tool belt slung low on his hips, his t-shirt clinging to him. He seemed a little irritated, a little sweaty, and just looking at him Aubrey got a whole lot hot and bothered in places that had no business being hot and bothered by this man at all. “What are you doing in here?” she asked.

“I work here.”

“What are you talking about? Get out.”

“Sorry, Sunshine.” He wasn’t even looking at her, but using some sort of long, claw-like tool to pull down a ceiling tile above the wall she’d been working on. And his tool worked way better than hers.

His movements were agile and surprisingly graceful for a guy his size. Not that he was bulky in any way. Nope, that tall, built body was all lean, tough muscle, and it screamed power. And with each subtle movement, his body made it clear that it knew exactly what to do with all that power. “The owner of this building hired me,” he said. “Said you were making a mess of things because your pride was bigger than your wallet.”

This caught her completely off guard, both the insult and the information. “My uncle owns this building,” she said.

He smiled thinly. “Yep. Happy Birthday.”

“It’s not my birthday.”

“Then happy you’ve-got-a-great-uncle day.”

Excerpt 3

“You’re incredible, Ben, you know that? You’re an insensitive, first-class jerk, and–”

He leaned in. “And what?” he asked, voice dangerously low.

“And…” Stymied at her ridiculous and constant reaction to him, Aubrey put her hands to his chest to give him another shove, but somehow got her wires crossed and she fisted his shirt instead.

“Dare me,” he said softly.

Oh, how she hated how well he knew her. “I dare you to kiss me,” she whispered, and then to make sure he did, she put her mouth on his first…

Excerpt 4

Aubrey got a look at the man she’d inadvertently drenched and stopped breathing. Oh, God. Had she really thought her day couldn’t get any worse? Why would she tempt fate by even thinking that? Because of course things had gotten worse. They always did.

Ben McDaniel slowly stood up from his barstool, dripping vodka from his hair, eyelashes, nose… He was six feet plus of hard muscles and brute strength on a body that didn’t carry a single extra ounce of fat on him. For the past five years, he’d been in and out of a variety of Third World countries designing and building water systems with the Army Corp of Engineers. His last venture had been for the Department of Defense in Iraq, which Aubrey only knew because Lucky Harbor’s Facebook page was good as gospel.

He swiped his face with his arm, deceptively chill and laid-back.

In truth, he was about as badass as they came.

Aubrey should know, she’d seen him in action. But she managed to meet his gaze. Cool, casual even. One had to be with Ben, the man could spot a weakness a mile away. “I’m sorry,” she said.

“Are you?”

She felt herself flush. He’d always seemed to see right through her. And she was pretty sure he’d never cared for her. He had good reason for that, she reminded herself. He just didn’t know the half of it. “Yes, I am sorry,” she said. Her heart was pounding so loudly she was surprised she could hear herself speak. “Are you okay?”

He ran his fingers through a sexy disorder of sun-streaked brown hair. His eyes were the same color, light milk chocolate marbled with gold caramel. It was hard to make such a warm-colored gaze seem hard, but Ben managed it with no effort at all. “Need to work on your aim,” he said.

About the author:
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

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Review: A Certain Latitude by Janet Mullany

A Certain LatitudeTitle: A Certain Latitude
Author: Janet Mullany
Genre: historical erotic romance
Publisher: self-published
Format: ebook and print
Release Date: November 23, 2013

A copy of this book was purchased by me for my own personal enjoyment during a time when it was free on Amazon.

Publisher Summary:

1800—Allan Pendale, lawyer and the youngest son of the Earl of Frensham, is bound by ship for the West Indies, to impart the news to his estranged father that his mother has died. But he also has another mission—to find out the truth of his origins.

Miss Clarissa Onslowe is also on board, traveling to take up the role of governess to the daughter of the wealthy planter Mr. Lemarchand. There is nothing to keep her in England. An indiscretion five years before led to her reputation being ruined; her abolitionist family has disowned her and no gentleman would marry her now. But now she seeks redemption with her family by revealing the truth about the miserable lives of the slaves who work on the sugar plantations.

Clarissa’s previous encounter with love has left her aroused and restless, and Allan is a man for whom lust is a daily pastime; thrown together belowdecks during the long sea voyage, they embark on a sensual odyssey where no desire is left untested. But if they thought their exploration and ecstasy could not be bettered, then there are more pleasures to be taken and boundaries to be broken at their island destination—where “March” Lemarchand, sugar king and master of seduction, awaits them both…

This is a substantially revised version of Forbidden Shores (2007) published under the name of Jane Lockwood.

My Review:

Although I am a big fan of Janet Mullany’s work in contemporary erotic romance (Tell Me More, Hidden Paradise) this was my first experience with one of her many historical novels. A Certain Latitude was originally released under a different pen name, and it would have remained unread by me (even at the temporary price of FREE) if she hadn’t reissued it under the one I already knew and trusted. I couldn’t tell you if what she refers to as “substantial revisions” made this a better book than the original, but I can say that A Certain Latitude far exceeded any expectations I might have had going in, and is as good as any other historical erotic romances I’ve read. What made this book so enjoyable for me was what I’ve now come to expect in Janet Mullany’s work, namely a plot that turns a well-worn trope on its head and scenes of intimate passion which envelop not only the titular hero and heroine but also the supporting characters who enter their sphere with intentions both good and evil.

The notion of “civilized” people devolving into depravity while isolated in a more primitive place where the rules of polite society don’t apply is a trope less commonly found than it once was. It dates back to a time when the “old skool” romances were the norm, and often featured ugly racial stereotypes as a lazy shortcut in lieu of actual character development. But while it’s true that the veneer of civilization began to decompose for Allan and Clarissa even before they reached their destination, it’s clear that what remained was there all along, irrespective of what would take place on the island. It needed only the close quarters of the ship to emerge, and the all-too-knowing encouragement of one dissolute and dominant man to be forced into full flower as they move inexorably toward their shared destiny.

I must emphasize most strongly that A Certain Latitude is a true erotic romance in every possible way. The sexual encounters involving each of the featured characters are absolutely essential to the plot, as well as those which occurred well before any of them had arrived on the island. The scenes we experience as the story unfolds are explicit and unforgettable, with pairings that may shock those unused to such graphic detail. It’s rare to find such unflinching scenes in historicals that are written so well and in such loving detail, although they do exist in the works of Kate Pearce, Robin Schone, Sharon Page, and Maire Claremont. Thanks to A Certain Latitude, Janet Mullany is now a member of that elite list for me, and I’ll be seeking out all her other historicals for another chance to experience that special reading joy. 5 stars

Review: Deceptive Innocence Part 2 by Kyra Davis

Deceptive Innocence: Part 2 (Pure Sin, #2)Deceptive Innocence: Part 2 by Kyra Davis

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.

When we last saw the woman we know as Bellona, she had just discovered that Lander Gable, the man she had targeted as the instrument of her revenge against him and his entire family for the wrong done to her late mother, knew that she was not the woman she had portrayed herself to be. Assuming the worst, Bellona steels herself for the unmasking she has always feared, only to find herself even more tightly connected to this man who could be either her savior or the undoing of all she has worked for. As she is drawn more deeply into Landon’s world and the seedy underbelly of his family’s activities, Bellona starts to question everything that has brought her to this moment in time, even as her feelings for Landon grow stronger and more threatening to her well-being. And when the debts accrued from her recent past collide with her current precarious position, it’s not just Landon that she’s in danger of losing for good.

One of the things I enjoy the most about Kyra Davis’s writing is how she is able to ratchet up the suspense without letting it overwhelm the romance. I was worried for Bellona in every moment, but was always aware that Landon was the key to her happiness, even as her need for revenge sent her down a path that could only end in tragedy for them both. Both here and in her previous serial Just One Night, Kyra Davis has shown that one’s identity is more than just the name we choose, or the way we interact with others, and that a facade is no real protection for one’s heart. Bellona fears Landon because he knows her body so well even as he has no idea who she really is. Yet Landon is just as much of an enigma to her, and he’s made it clear that although he knows their relationship is a pretense on both sides, it’s worth it to him to continue the charade for as long as it will last. The real risk to them both beyond the physical danger is what will happen when the masks are stripped away.

This second part of Deceptive Innocence is full of twists and turns, leaving us with yet another a cliffhanger where it seems all is lost for Bellona. Only the third and final part will show how this can possibly end well, and I love not having any clue what that might be.

Favorite Quote:
I wish we were the man and woman we pretend to be. I wish I didn’t have to destroy him.

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Review: Betting On You by Sydney Landon

Betting on You: A Danvers Novella (Danvers, #4.5)Betting on You: A Danvers Novella by Sydney Landon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

Although BETTING ON YOU is the latest entry in Sydney Landon’s popular Danvers series, the connection between its hero and heroine with the rest of the series is tenuous, at best.

Seth is the charming and successful local businessman from FALLING FOR YOU (book 3) who was used by Beth to make Declan jealous after their relationship-ending fight. Mia is a new character to the series, introduced as an IT specialist working for Danvers on an installation project for Seth’s office. She moves in the same circles as Seth, thanks to her own family’s placement in local society, but is determined to make her own way in the world and not be dependent on them, or any man they might recommend.

When Seth and Mia first meet in the room where Mia is installing computers, their instant connection is obvious, but both choose to try to overlook it for sanity’s sake. But when Mia’s mother uses her charity bachelor auction to throw Seth at Mia in a way she can’t ignore, the result is some incredibly hot sexual encounters that neither of them wish to end. Yet their liaison would be a real threat to Mia’s hard-won job at Danvers for as long as Seth is still a client on the project she leads. They both agree to hold off until the office installation is complete, but during that time, Seth starts having doubts about what Mia might be expecting once they can be together again. Can a real relationship work between them, or is it just too much, too soon?

There’s no denying that Sydney Landon can write great sex scenes between characters that we want to root for. But what was missing for me in BETTING ON YOU was a sense that the hero and heroine really wanted this future for themselves. Seth, especially, was a great disappointment to me in both word and deed. He was the one who had pushed Mia into what he was certain they both wanted, and assured her their desire was mutual. Yet the minute he had to cool his jets and wait until it was safe for both of them, he started behaving like someone who had really just been looking for sex all along, despite everything he’d been saying. Mia seemed more grounded and realistic about what their relationship had actually been, and was hurt by Seth’s behavior but prepared to move on with her life. Yet when he finally realized that he needed to make things right with her, it seemed like her forgiveness was just a little too easily given.

All the problematic elements of this story including the insta-lust and the rushed ending could have been avoided with a longer story, but this is a novella, and those are the traps so many of them fall into. For me, BETTING ON YOU was a nice quick love story with some very well-written sex scenes, but I’m hoping that any future Danvers books will take the time needed to establish a more enjoyable and plausible happy ending for everyone.


Overall: 3 stars
Sensuality level: 4 (light BDSM, semi-public sex)

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