Monthly Archives: April 2014

Review: Hard Time by Cara McKenna

Hard TimeHard Time by Cara McKenna

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

In a landscape filled with billionaire Doms and their blushing virgin submissives, HARD TIME is a refreshing alternative, thanks to Cara McKenna’s unerring ability to take any guy in an otherwise completely undesirable situation and transform him into a legitimate romance hero. This time the hero is a convicted felon and his heroine is the town librarian working part-time at the medium security prison where the hero has been locked up for nearly beating another man to death.
Annie Goodhouse had a comfortable middle-class life she took for granted until the day when her worthless boyfriend crossed the line into abuse, puncturing her eardrum with a smack to the head when he was drunk and she was convenient. Her self-recrimination at letting it happen spurred her to get as far away from her ex as possible. And there isn’t a place farther both in distance and existence than the cold and impoverished town of Darren, Michigan.
Now years and miles away from her old life, Annie has given up on men and sex with them, although she feels the loss now and then. The last place she expected to rekindle her desire was at the Cousins Correctional Facility on her first day as its new part-time librarian. But there was something different about Prisoner 802267. In a room of frightening faces, he was an irresistible flame and she was the moth who should have known better. Annie can’t help being drawn to him, not only because of his good looks and polite behavior, but because as a prisoner, he won’t be able to control her in the way a free man could. But this was someone who had not only tried to kill another person, but still insisted that given the same situation, he’d do it again. So why is Annie even considering letting him into her head and her heart?
After nearly five years behind bars, Eric Collier is ready to stop being a number and start being a better man, one who deserves a woman like Annie. His single-minded pursuit of her is clearly ill-advised and incredibly risky for them both. Still, Eric’s ten year prison sentence ensures that they can never exchange more than heartfelt letters and furtive glances. But when Eric receives an early parole, he and Annie must learn how to begin and sustain a real relationship on the outside. As they deal with all the obstacles between them and happiness, they are soon confronted with the same forces which sent to Eric to prison before, now threatening to send him back. It’s up to Annie to convince Eric not to make the same mistake twice, even if it means losing him for good.
What I loved the most about HARD TIME was how Cara McKenna immediately set up my anticipation for what would happen and then made me believe that it could. The opening list of the prison’s rules of behavior became a framing device for Annie’s descent into madness as she violated nearly all of them in pursuit of her passion for Eric. And in this book, Cara McKenna also somehow turned the simple act of selecting clothes to wear into an erotic experience. Eric is no Dom, but his ability to dominate Annie with her full and ongoing consent just by asking her to wear a specific color or item of clothing was more sexually explicit for me than a hardcore BDSM scene. McKenna’s writing here is just that good.
Although I was happy to be back in the same world as McKenna’s previous book, AFTER HOURS, I didn’t mind not having an update on the hero and heroine from that book. I was completely caught up in the illicit nature of Annie and Eric’s secret romance behind bars, and the major adjustments they had to make once they were able to openly acknowledge their love. Cara McKenna books are always a treat for me, but this one was so lyrical, so emotional, so real, that I couldn’t put it down for more than a few minutes at a time.
Books like HARD TIME are why I make a point of not throwing around 5 star reviews for every book I love. Because I want it to mean something when I do. Cara McKenna’s HARD TIME is a five star read in every possible way, and it will be near or at the top of my Best Reads of 2014 by year’s end.


Overall: 5
Sensuality level: 3.5

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Review: Naughty Bits, Part I: The Lingerie Shop by Joey W. Hill

Naughty Bits, Part I: The Lingerie Shop (Naughty Bits #1)Naughty Bits, Part I: The Lingerie Shop by Joey W. Hill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Serial novels have been a popular trend in romance for a while now, and frankly, it’s one I’ve grown tired of. These days I’m limiting myself to serials written by my favorite authors, and with no more than five parts. NAUGHTY BITS qualifies on both counts, although I’ll admit I would probably waive the five part rule for Joey W. Hill. She’s one of my all-time favorite writers of contemporary BDSM erotic romance, and this first installment, THE LINGERIE SHOP, has already assured me that her talent for plot and character development will lend itself well to this new format.

As you might expect, most of THE LINGERIE SHOP is setting up the premise for why our heroine finds herself running her late sister’s sex boutique in Charlotte instead of being back in Boston at her boring but safe finance job. Madison and her sister Alice had exceptionally close until the day Alice pushed too hard about Madison’s sex life (or lack of one) and Madison responded by moving away and avoiding all contact. It took Alice’s terminal illness and subsequent death to force Madison back to Charlotte and the shop she’d always mocked. Now all Madison has is the store, her memories and her regrets. But Alice’s bequest extends beyond the building and its contents. She’s also made sure that Madison will finally find sexual submission with a man who can make it all happen. It’s now up to Madison to decide if she’s ready to finally accept the gift her sister always wanted her to have.

The man that Alice has found for Madison is Logan Scott: hardware store owner, woodworker, and sexual Dominant. Even before Madison knows who Logan is and what he will mean to her, she’s mesmerized by his looks and demeanor. She knows he represents what she’s always both wanted and feared. Logan knows Madison been too afraid to embrace her submissive desires, but that the decision must be hers, and hers alone. All he can do is point her in the right direction and hope that he can earn her trust along the way.

In THE LINGERIE SHOP, we see how Madison had always been threatened by Alice’s embrace of her own sexuality, even though Alice was right about why the men in Madison’s life had never measured up. We also see how Logan had fit into Alice’s life and why he is the perfect man to help Madison embrace her hidden self. By the time we reach the end of this first part of NAUGHTY BITS, we have a good idea of how our heroine got here and what our hero has to do to make her his by the end of the final installment.

What I loved best about THE LINGERIE SHOP was how it neatly avoided the problems that have made me burned out on serial novels in the first place. So many of the serials I’ve read have consisted of a relatively simple plot, doled out in tiny portions that either end on an insane cliffhanger, or at what appears to be a predetermined page length, regardless of where the story is at that point. But THE LINGERIE SHOP has absolutely none of these problems. First of all, it’s well over a hundred pages, qualifying as a novella in its own right. And it ends at a logical stopping point, after Madison has used Logan’s offering of the erotic cards and handcuffs, and sets the stage for THE TRAINING SESSION, Part 2 of NAUGHTY BITS. I can’t wait to see what happens next.


Overall: 5
Sensuality level: 3.5 (several BDSM-related discussions, brief descriptions of BDSM club activity, heroine’s solo sexual activity and related thoughts/dreams)<

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Review: Once Upon a Billionaire by Jessica Clare

Once upon a Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club, #4)Once upon a Billionaire by Jessica Clare

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

Jessica Clare’s Billionaire Boys Club is a relatively new romance series that I’ve enjoyed from the very beginning, with a 5 star read for me in its second book, BEAUTY AND THE BILLIONAIRE. So it’s with great sadness that I have to say ONCE UPON A BILLIONAIRE was so not of the same quality that if it had been the very first book, I probably wouldn’t have continued with the series. Although the romance ended up in the right place when all was said and done, its ill-conceived hero and heroine affected my enjoyment of their HEA to the point that I almost feel guilty for having liked any of it at all.

Griffin Verdi, aka Viscount Montagne Verdi, younger brother of the Duke of Calcaire in the ruling family of Bellissime, is a member of the Billionaire Boys Club, but that’s all due to his own financial skills, not his royal bloodline. His snooty family all but disowned him after he moved to America, but they’re still happy to spend the money he sends them. All he asks in return is to be left alone with his work and his passion for archaeology, but even that is more than they can manage. Now that he’s required to attend his beloved cousin’s wedding as she becomes the first Bellissime Crown Princess to marry a commoner, it’s just Griffin’s bad luck for his sole personal assistant to be too sick to accompany him there. Desperation forces the proud billionaire to turn to his good friend and fellow club member, Hunter, for help. And payback is what prompts Hunter’s girlfriend, Gretchen, to surprise Griffin with the one woman who could unsettle him to the point of madness.

Maylee Meriweather may hail from a no-account Arkansas trailer park, but that doesn’t mean she can’t handle her boss’s last-minute call to help Griffin on his trip. She doesn’t have the fancy clothes, fancy laptop, or fancy anything to keep up appearances in Griffin’s circle. All she has is a can-do attitude, plenty of gumption, and an otherworldly ability to take away a person’s pain after a burn or other related injury. But when nervous flier Maylee mixes mojitos with her “happy pills” on Griffin’s private plane, her bedraggled appearance and drug-induced behavior threaten to end any chance of them getting along before they even land at their destination. Still, there’s something about Maylee that Griffin can’t seem to resist. If he could just manage not to insult her with every word out of his mouth, they might find something together that goes well beyond their temporary working relationship.

The plot of ONCE UPON A BILLIONAIRE is a fairly standard romance trope: egotistical billionaire is thrown together with a sweet tempered woman totally below his standards, they clash on superficial differences but eventually succumb to their mutual physical attraction, ending up with an HEA only after the prerequisite Big Misunderstanding. It’s light and fluffy and utterly predictable, unlike the last two books in the series, and yet that’s not what bothered me so much. What made me nearly stop reading more than once was how both the hero and heroine were so broadly defined that it bordered on offensive in some spots.

Let’s begin with our billionaire hero, Griffin Verdi. From the first page of ONCE UPON A BILLIONAIRE, he comes across as the worst sort of condescending rich guy, barely civil to the other men he considers friends, and outright rude to Hunter’s girlfriend, Gretchen. It’s true that Gretchen gives as good as she gets, but it’s not like Griffin isn’t capable of basic courtesy to anyone not in his inner circle. Or is he? We’re led to believe that this innate boorishness stems from his royal upbringing, and yet he has a constant inner monologue about how much he hates his own relatives taking advantage of him and others without even so much as a simple thank you. So why wouldn’t he try to behave better than the people he resents? I suspect it was all in support of the conflict between him and his intended heroine. And yet for me, Griffin was nothing more than a faded copy of a Harlequin Presents hero. The arrogance and incivility were there, but any compelling reasons why a woman would find him irresistible in the face of such nonsense were missing in action. Even so, Griffin’s portrayal wasn’t half as problematic as what was in store for Maylee, the woman he supposedly learns to love.

Maylee Meriweather isn’t just from another world, she’s from an entirely different universe. Any woman not born and bred as royalty would be a challenge for Griffin, but a hick from the sticks is beyond the pale. Yet what I objected to wasn’t the extreme contrast per se, but the way Maylee was written as a cartoon character straight out of Dogpatch USA. She’s already a personal assistant to another billionaire, but she dresses like a bag lady and keeps track of her boss’s schedule on Post-It Notes. Every other word out of her mouth is “Lordamercy!” and she loves to tell everyone she meets that she was named for her Nana and PeePaw. Later we learn that her younger sisters are named Alabama and Dixie after their Daddy’s two favorite songs. (What, no brother named Skeeter?) Best of all, Maylee is a self-proclaimed “burn talker” who helps injured people by asking them to give the pain to her as she rubs the location of their burn. (Of course she is.)

This ongoing litany of outrageous personal details prompted a constant side-eye from me as the book went on, especially once it became obvious that Griffin would have been a complete jerk to Maylee without them. It really wasn’t necessary to portray her as an egregious example of nearly every possible stereotype of young women born and raised in the American South. And yet all that was missing by the time we met Maylee’s beloved drooling hound dog in Mama’s trailer back home was a moonshine still in the backyard and a visit to the local Waffle House. But because Maylee is the personification of the sweet but naive girl fresh off the turnip truck, she’s also able to win over every other person she meets with her kind and considerate demeanor, and even manages to help the Crown Princess of Bellissime herself with a curling iron burn on the night before the big wedding. Maylee also secretly hands out cash tips to everyone providing services to Griffin on his behalf, even though we’ve already been told that she’s barely getting by financially due to her need to send most of her salary to her family back in Arkansas. It’s this deep-seated kindness that ostensibly makes Maylee such a great personal assistant in spite of all her shortcomings in appearance and social behavior. It’s also apparently why she continues to take care of Griffin in spite of the cruel way he treats her right up until he decides she’s worthy of his affection after all.

Just because Maylee also gets the good end of the sweet Southern girl stereotype doesn’t make the rest of it even remotely acceptable. And just because Griffin finally pulls his head out of his ass after seeing himself in his mother and brother’s poor treatment of Maylee doesn’t mean his earlier abominable behavior is in any way excusable. There’s a way to depict a romance between a hero and heroine from vastly different worlds without potentially insulting readers, and then there’s what this book did. But I’m not quite ready to give up on the Billionaire Boys Club series, and I’m hoping very hard that the next book, ROMANCING THE BILLIONAIRE, will be a triumphant return to form. I don’t think I could handle this level of disappointment again.


Overall: 3
Sensuality level: 3

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Review: The Submission Gift by Solace Ames

The Submission Gift (LA Doms, #2)The Submission Gift by Solace Ames
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the author and the publisher for an honest review at The Romance Evangelist.

I enjoyed reading THE DOM PROJECT earlier this year, and was glad to see that there would be additional books in the LA Doms series. But I did worry (because I’m a worrier) that the loss of the previous book’s co-author might somehow have an adverse affect on the series going forward. The good news is that THE SUBMISSION GIFT isn’t merely the equal to its excellent predecessor; it’s even better, with what I believe to be one of the most realistic portrayals of what it means to have a truly polyamorous relationship in the present day.

Before we even meet the person who will change their lives forever, we see how the past year has tested Jay and Adriana’s marriage. The car accident that nearly took Jay’s life has wreaked havoc on their finances, their love life, and their peace of mind. Even now, Jay is only able to handle the most basic tasks involving physical effort, and has to be ever mindful of what he can and cannot do. Meanwhile, the bills aren’t going away, and Adriana struggles to provide financial stability while laboring in a demanding work environment where the hours are long and her co-workers are trying to sabotage her on a daily basis. But she still has needs in the bedroom that Jay just can’t fulfill, so when an unexpected windfall from the insurance company provides the means, they agree to use the money for something they’d always discussed doing: paying a professional Dominant to share their bed for a night or two. What they didn’t expect was someone like Paul, a man whose rightness for them would surpass any fantasy. But when a series of unconnected events expose still hidden secrets, it will take all three of them working together to transform this fantasy into a lasting relationship that can survive their new reality.

I’m a big fan of menage romances, but I’m also aware that many aren’t exactly what one could call true to life. They tend to take place in lovely fictional towns where everybody accepts menages, or where one or more of the involved characters has enough money to let them exist untouched by any possible controversy. But in THE SUBMISSION GIFT, the triad relationship begins as a financial transaction between a somewhat non-traditional couple and a part-time rent-boy. Even before their first sexual encounter, every one of these three characters is already living on the financial edge, and where they live and love is present-day Los Angeles, in neighborhoods far from the rich and famous. So when Jay and Adriana and Paul make the decision to commit to each other publicly, the direct effect on their day-to-day lives will be immediate and significant.

Even before Paul entered their lives, Jay and Adriana already had to deal with those who thought that their marriage was a sham just because Jay was, as he put it, “a bi guy on the femme side.” But this loving couple soon realizes that Paul is as intrinsic to their happiness together as they are to each other. So when Paul’s hidden past is revealed at the worst possible moment, Jay and Adriana must make the hard choice between reaffirming their love and trust in him, or letting him go for their own security, if not their long-term contentment. It’s to the author’s credit that she never hesitates to show us every ugly moment of doubt, and never flinches from the ugly facts of what these three people will face if they choose each other. But as we see how Paul fills the gap between what Jay and Adriana have and what they need, it’s clear that their unconditional love and determination to make it work will be more than a match for whatever life has to throw at them next. THE SUBMISSION GIFT is a gift to readers who love romance in all its permutations, and it made me believe that a polyamorous relationship could work in a world outside the borders of fictional Romanceland.

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Release Day: East of Ecstasy by Laura Kaye

It’s release day for Laura Kaye’s EAST OF ECSTASY!

EAST OF ECSTASY is the final book in her Hearts of the Anemoi Series. See below for a note from Laura and an excerpt!!


East of Ecstasy Excerpt:
By Laura Kaye

You guys! I can’t believe release day for East of Ecstasy is finally here! This is the final book in my Hearts of the Anemoi series, which includes: North of Need, West of Want, and South of Surrender. The Anemoi were wind gods the Greek associated with controlling the wind, weather, and seasons. In East of Ecstasy, hero Devlin Eston is the heir to the East Wind which has long been associated with unluckiness, misfortune, and, thanks to Devlin’s father, even evil. Devlin himself has been the victim of father’s evil, and thereby finds himself an outcast among his own divine family. In this scene, heroine Annalise Fallston—who gets visions that she’s forced to paint in order to quiet them in her mind—sees Devlin for the first time.

Here’s what she says:


Forcing the chaos in her mind away, Anna dipped her brush into the gray and stepped to the canvas.

Motion captured her attention from the corner of her eye.

The Dark Man, the subject of her recent paintings, stood in the doorway and leaned against the jamb.

Anna jumped and her pulse raced, but this time, anger flooded in instead of fear. “I will deal with you on my own damn terms,” she said, taking a perverse amount of pleasure from putting a figment of her imagination in its place. Because that’s all he was.

He didn’t move or speak. Not that he could, since, you know. Figment.Of.Imagination.

Anna rolled her eyes, done with being scared and so pissed to have to do this again that she was nearly out of her mind. “I’m doing your damn painting already. So just leave me alone.” She cut her gaze back to the expanse of white, but the desire to see if his image would still be there if she looked again drove her to distraction.

Finally, she gave in and…he was still there.

Completely still. Blatantly scowling. Totally unfathomable.

Was this a vision? Another image she’d have to paint?

Her heart tripped into a sprint, and she couldn’t look away from him. Like the compulsion that forced her to paint these images, Anna couldn’t help but return his stare and memorize his masculine features. The sharp angles of his face, the harsh set of his mouth, the dark shadows around his even darker eyes.Black eyes. Blades of black hair hung low over his forehead and just touched the hooded shirt he wore under his short, scuffed leather jacket. He’d crossed his arms over his chest, and the position caused his biceps to bunch up under the worn leather. In fact, everything about him appeared worn—the coat, the threadbare jeans, the scuffed boots. None of it struck her as the kind of shabby chic you could buy in some upscale store for a small fortune, either. The whole effect was rough.

Dangerous. Deprived.

Deprived? What a strange way of describing him. But as Anna’s gaze swept over him again, the thought stuck. For his height, he seemed thin, with his lean hips, clad in old black jeans, a trim waist, and pronounced cheekbones. Her fingers twitched around the nearly forgotten paintbrush. What would it feel like to cup that harsh face in her hand?

Anna gasped and tore her gaze away. She had to blink to pull herself out of the haze of thoughts.

Frustration surged through her and tensed the muscles of her shoulders and neck. She didn’t want to be working on another of these paintings as it was, so the last thing she needed was to lose a bunch of time daydreaming. Or would it be daynightmaring?

As she stared at the blank canvas, the image of the shackled man behind the prison bars filled her mind’s eye.

Definitely the latter.

Curiosity pulled her eyes to the left again. The doorway was empty.


So, did you have a favorite line from the excerpt? Thanks for reading!


EOE RDL banner


The final chapter in the award-winning and bestselling Hearts of the Anemoi series…

She’s the only one who can give him the strength to save them all…

Annalise Fallston made peace with postponing her big-city dreams to care for her ill father, but lately she’s been filled with a restlessness not even her beloved painting dispels. Worse, the colors don’t speak to her as they always have, and all her efforts produce dark, foreboding images of a dangerous man and a terrifying future.

Devlin Eston, black-souled son of the evil Anemoi Eurus, is the only one who can thwart his father’s plan to overthrow the Supreme God of Wind and Storms. But first, Dev must master the unstable powers he’s been given. Distrusted and shunned by his own divine family, he never expected to find kindness and passion in the arms of a mortal.

But Devlin’s love puts Annalise in the path of a catastrophic storm, and in the final Armageddon showdown between the Anemoi and Eurus, sacrifices will be made, hearts broken, and lives changed forever…or lost.

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Anemoi box set

Catch up on the whole series with the Hearts of the Anemoi box set featuring the first three books: North of Need, West of Want, South of Surrender!

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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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Review: East of Ecstasy by Laura Kaye

East of Ecstasy (Hearts of the Anemoi, #4)East of Ecstasy by Laura Kaye

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

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


This review may contain spoilers for earlier books in the Hearts of the Anemoi series. You could try to read EAST OF ECSTASY as a stand-alone book, but I would strongly recommend that you read the previous three books first.

After all the life and death struggles for the brother-gods of the Anemoi, those who seek to stop their brother Eurus from destroying all in his path have come together for the final battle between good and evil. We have already met the good Anemoi, and seen them fall in love with human women as they work against Eurus, he who controls the East Wind and seeks to wipe out humanity along with his fellow gods and goddesses of Nature. EAST OF ECSTASY is our formal introduction to Devlin, middle son of Eurus, and one who may be good or evil, depending on who is telling the story.

In previous books, we saw Devlin from afar as he appeared to be doing his terrible father’s bidding, and heard how the other Anemoi believed him to be a threat to their cause. But in EAST OF ECSTASY, we discover that appearances are not as they seem, and that Devlin himself is the key to any hope of success in defeating Eurus before all is lost. But before Devlin Eston can find redemption, he has to find love. And that love comes from a woman who may contain more than a mere spark of divinity herself.

Annalise doesn’t look or act like anyone else in her family, or anyone else in their part of Maryland. Her countenance is almost colorless, including her pale gray eyes, and although she’s a gifted painter, the only time she can actually experience color is when she’s in the middle of creating a new work of art. When she spots Devlin hiding in her studio, it’s a toss-up as to who is more surprised, as no one has ever sensed his presence when cloaked in invisibility before now. But that’s just the start of all the unusual abilities Anna manifests in the initial moments after he reveals himself to her. It’s clear that Anna must be a descendant of one or more divinities, but when her parentage is revealed, even the Anemoi are taken aback. Yet it’s Anna’s concern for Devlin’s well-being that makes her valuable to their cause, and to him. Love can’t cure all, but it can be the missing element that helps a wounded hero heal in time to save the world.

Devlin would never consider himself any kind of hero, wounded or otherwise. Though he may be a god, his father Eurus is a stronger one, and that strength has been used against Devlin as the worst sort of weapon. Devlin has been judged unfairly by those unaware of just how greatly he has suffered at the hands of the one who should have loved and cared for him. And like so many other victims of parental abuse, Devlin has taken blame for his father’s evil deeds upon himself in the mistaken belief that somehow he personally could have prevented all the death and destruction. When Anna shows Devlin that he can love and be loved, it causes him to lash out at her at first. But Anna is resolute, and her unwavering need to show him he deserves better is what helps both him and those who should be his allies come together in shared purpose to stop Eurus from carrying out his plan to destroy the earth with a powerful storm unleashing all four winds. The question remains, however, as to who will survive among the Anemoi and their loved ones before success is finally theirs.

EAST OF ECSTASY is a wonderful payoff for loyal readers of Laura Kaye’s Hearts of the Anemoi series and an enjoyable romance in its own right as the abused and misunderstood Devlin finds the one woman who can see beyond his ingrained defenses to the gentle soul who has been starved for love his whole life. Even though the events of the past few books have taken place in only a few weeks’ time, the ultimate outcome never feels rushed or truncated. The final battle is just as fierce as I had anticipated, and the road to the Anemoi’s happy ending had me crying both sad and happy tears in turn.

I wasn’t a big paranormal romance fan when I began reading this series back at its start. But through the previous three books, Laura Kaye made me a believer in the Anemoi, and this final entry, EAST OF ECSTASY, is her crowning achievement.

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Cover Reveal: Hard To Hold On To by Laura Kaye

Laura Kaye is thrilled to share with you the cover to her next Hard Ink book,
Hard to Hold On To
which releases on August 19, 2014! Check it out:

HardToHoldOnTo hires Edward “Easy” Cantrell knows better than most the pain of not being able to save those he loves–which is why he is not going to let Jenna Dean out of his sight. He may have just met her, but Jenna’s the first person to make him feel alive since that devastating day in the desert more than a year ago. Jenna has never met anyone like Easy. She can’t describe how he makes her feel–and not just because he saved her life. No, the stirrings inside her reach far beyond gratitude. As the pair are thrust together while chaos reigns around them, they both know one thing: the things in life most worth having are the hardest to hold on to.

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Hard to Hold On To on Goodreads

And don’t miss the other Hard Ink books, now available:

Hard As It Gets
Hard As You Can

A Note from Laura:

Hey guys! I am so excited about Easy’s book that I can hardly wait for August to get here! Easy’s character was a total surprise to me. When I initially plotted out the series, there were four surviving members of the Army Special Forces team and therefore I planned for and sold four book in the series. But then, when I sat down to write Hard As It Gets, all of a sudden the story demanded there were actually five guys, and Edward “Easy” Cantrell was born. And I’m so glad! Because Easy’s character is a totally tortured hero, which I adore writing! So I’m super happy that we added his story and this novella into the series, and I can’t wait for you to learn about Easy in Hard to Hold On To! Is it August yet??? xo, Laura

Praise for the Hard Ink Series:

For Hard As You Can:

“TOP PICK! There is a sinister and desperate edge to this tale that will keep readers glued to their seats. Kaye has dark romantic suspense nailed!” ~ RT Book Reviews Magazine

“Hard As You Can is another five star read. The characters Ms. Kaye has created are wonderfully broken and the drama is gritty, but the burgeoning romance and the tight-knitted relationship of the team leaves you with a sense of redemption. A must read series!” ~San Francisco Book Review

For Hard As It Gets:

“Edgy, sexy and full of suspense! A great read from a great new author!” ~ #1 NYT Bestselling Author J.R. Ward

“Sizzling romance… The intriguing tattoo parlor and military background will appeal to fans of Suzanne Brockmann and Lindsay McKenna.” ~Publishers Weekly Review “Kaye’s depiction of sexual tension and her sex scenes are masterful and this will appeal to fans of Maya Banks’ KGI and Julia Ann Walker’s Black Knight’s series.” ~Booklist

Laura Kaye cropped

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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Review: Bound To Be A Groom by Megan Mulry

Bound to be a GroomBound to be a Groom by Megan Mulry
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.

Although I’m a big fan of Megan Mulry’s contemporary romances, this is my first time reading one of her historical romances, but if BOUND TO BE A GROOM is any indication, I’ll be adding them all to my To Be Read list. This book featured something I haven’t seen too often in erotic romance, and especially in historical erotic romance: a true MMFF polyamorous relationship. And to her credit, Megan Mulry made it work for me in this unusual context, although I’ll include the disclaimer that what I know about the year 1808 in Spain and England would fit on a grain of rice.

As our story begins, we meet Anna Redondo, the unacknowledged by-blow of her mother’s affair with a visiting English diplomat while still married to the Conde de Floridablanca. Anna has been locked away in a Spanish convent for most of her life, now newly released to attend her friend Isabella’s wedding. Then it’s off to a lifetime of servitude as a lady’s maid in the King of Spain’s court. Anna has other plans for her future, and they all involve Pia, her best friend in the convent and secret lover. Anna intends to become a noted courtesan to raise the money to keep herself and Pia together forever, but needs to learn the ways of men (and rid herself of her pesky virginity). So when a handsome man catches her eye in an all-too-knowing way, Anna presses her advantage, and changes her future forever.

Sebastian de Montizon didn’t expect to find his future bride at the wedding of his friend Javier de la Mina, but when a sweet little convent girl turned out to be the Domme of his dreams, how could Sebastian possibly resist? He’ll do anything to keep her happy, including sending for Pia to be an essential member of their new household. But when the three meet up in England with Lord Farleigh, a mysterious duke from Sebastian’s past, can their unconventional relationship expand by one more without ruining what they already have together?

The one word description that came to mind when I finished reading BOUND TO BE A GROOM was voluptuous. This book is all about sensual pleasure in a way not often found outside of erotica proper (as opposed to erotic romance, which this most definitely is). There isn’t too much worry about whether each additional member of this polyamorous relationship will be able to fit in properly, but there doesn’t really need to be, either. It helps that there are clearly two Dominants and two submissives in the mix, and that no lasting jealousy ever rears its head as they try out various pairings and positions. The only time I even briefly questioned its plausibility was when Farleigh’s mother was so understanding about his proclivities, but hey, she’s a mother who loves her son dearly, so why not? I’m not going to look too closely when the interactions between the two heroes and heroines are as interesting and well-written as these, with an elevated sexual excitement that (figuratively) steamed up my Kindle. Even the prerequisite baby epilogue (another detail that differentiates this from regular erotica) provided a lovely end to the story without losing its innate naughtiness to standard romance conventionality. I can only hope there will be more adventures to come in this unique series, as I’d love to read them all.

Favorite Quote:


“Yes, darling? You like that, don’t you?” She tapped the crop a few times against her palm, testing its resistance.

“Yes,” he whispered.

“What a fine instrument you are.” He wasn’t sure if she was talking to the crop or to him.

Then she began.

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Release Day Blog Tour: Dare to Desire by Carly Phillips


Title: Dare to Desire

Author: Carly Phillips

Release Date: April 10th, 2014



Dare to Desire



Quarterback Alex Dare, had it all — an all-star football career with the Tampa Breakers and his choice of willing women — until a severe injury forces him into early retirement. When he is offered a ground-breaking position with a rival team, he’s intrigued, but there’s a catch. He’ll be working alongside the same woman he hasn’t been able to get out of his head for too long.

Social worker Madison Evans grew up in foster homes and knows first hand what it means to have-not. She isn’t impressed by Alex Dare’s wealth or charm. Not since she fell hard for him once before, only to discover she was just one of his too-easy conquests. This time around Madison refuses to succumb to Alex so easily.

But Alex wants Madison. And if there is one thing Alex does well, it’s to get what he wants. The playboy athlete must prove he’s got game in more places than on the field. He means to prove that he’s a changed man but no sooner does he begin to break through Madison’s defenses when a new opportunity comes knocking and threatens her new-found trust. Can he make Madison take a risk and dare to love?


Without replying, Ian opened the door. They stepped into the room, and Alex laid eyes on the one woman he hadn’t been expecting to see. The same woman who’d haunted his dreams and sidetracked him from many of his nightmares.

Madison faced him head on. Her shoulders drawn back, golden-blonde hair pulled away from her face, she didn’t back down from his stare. She wore a pair of black slacks that hugged her curves and a white silky-looking top that clung to her generous breasts. And those unusually blue eyes frosted over at the sight of him.

“Alex, I believe you know Madison Evans.”

Blindsided — and his half brother knew it — Alex strode up to her. He inhaled her familiar fruity scent, which only served as a reminder of the hot times he’d spent breathing her in as his cock moved inside her body. Her effect on him was potent, and even the most common expressions failed him.

“Alex,” she said, her cool tone bringing his head out of the desire-filled fog he’d found himself in.

“Hey, Angel,” he said, using the endearment he’d started calling her during their brief time together. Another sign he’d had it bad, whether he’d wanted to admit it or not.

Her head whipped up, her eyes narrowing and settling on Ian. “This won’t work.” She turned to go.

Alex still had excellent reflexes, and he grabbed her arm before she could stride past him.

She glared.

He didn’t look away, determined to win this battle of wills. This potential job, which had interested him on an intellectual and emotional level initially, suddenly felt even more important, and she was the reason.

“We need to talk,” he insisted.

“I have nothing to say.”

“Ian’s proposition said otherwise.”

Madison looked over his shoulder in search of Ian and frowned. “Well, the traitor is gone. No big surprise there.”

Smart man, Alex thought. “If I let you go, will you stay long enough to discuss this position Ian and Riley want me to take?”

She let out a frustrated puff of air.

He took that as a yes and released her.

“Us working together is not a good idea, and somewhere in that thick head of yours, you know that.”

“Because we slept together? More than a couple of times?”

She set her jaw. “That was a mistake.”

Ouch. That hurt, he thought, and filed away the why to deal with later. “I want to know more about this training program and what my role in it would be.”

“Why? You can’t possibly be interested.”

“It sounds more like you don’t want me to be interested.”

She rolled her shoulders back even farther, stiffening her posture. “You’re right. I don’t. This is a serious project that could help a lot of people and have far-reaching positive repercussions for years to come. I need a partner willing to go all in. And let’s face it, I’ve seen your staying power. It’s nonexistent.”

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About the Author

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New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips

N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips has written over 40 sexy contemporary romance novels that today’s readers identify with and enjoy. After a successful 15 year career with various New York publishing houses, Carly is making the leap to Indie author, with the goal of giving her readers more books at a faster pace at a better price. Her Serendipity books will still finish up in January/February 2014 via Berkley as planned. Carly lives in Purchase, NY with her family, two nearly adult daughters and two crazy dogs who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. She’s a writer, a knitter of sorts, a wife, and a mom. In addition, she’s a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers. You can find all information about Carly at her website and other social media sites …

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Review: Dare To Desire by Carly Phillips

Dare to Desire (Dare to Love, #2)Dare to Desire by Carly Phillips

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review at The Romance Evangelist.

Although I’m familiar enough with Carly Phillips to have several of her earlier books on my To Be Read list, DARE TO DESIRE is the first book I’ve read from her. In this second book of her new self-published Dare To Love series about the children of a man who had a second family while still married to his first wife, the hero is the oldest son of the woman his father took first as mistress, then as wife once their relationship was publicly exposed.

At the beginning of DARE TO DESIRE, Alex Dare is still dealing with the fallout of being one of the previously “secret” Dare siblings while continuing to excel in his successful career as a NFL quarterback. He’s even snagged a lovely lady to share his public and private time, although her friendship with his half siblings could be a liability if he ever tired of her company. Overall, things are going along pretty well for Alex, until that fateful Thanksgiving Day game when he ended up at the bottom of a dogpile on the field. It was bad enough being in the hospital and finding out that his risk of permanent injury would force an early retirement. But then he had to go and kick Madison out of his room and life when all she had done was stop by to see if he was okay. Now it’s six months later and after pushing nearly everyone else out of his life, Alex gets a call from Ian, his oldest half sibling, with an opportunity that could not only get him back in the NFL, but also back in with Madison, the woman he should have never let get away.

Madison Evans knew all too well that most people couldn’t be trusted to stick around, especially the people who claimed to love you. As a social worker, she’s made it her life’s work to help kids with the same problems she’d had in her own childhood, and won’t have her head turned by money or influence. Yet she couldn’t resist when Alex turns on his considerable charm, and had only herself to blame when it was all suddenly over after his career-ending injury. Now that the husband of her good friend Riley has offered her the chance to set up a new mandatory post-career education program for his NFL team, Madison is excited about being able to change lives outside the narrow confines of social work. But when her new boss Ian Dare sets her up to work with Alex, Madison has to decide if she can handle working directly with the man who broke her heart, and if he’s really changed enough to earn her trust a second time.

One of the things I especially enjoyed about DARE TO DESIRE was how I was able to work my way through all the intricate relationships between the two Dare families and their associated friends, even though this was the second book and my first read in the series. The fact that Alex was childhood friends with Riley, Ian’s wife, has helped smooth the way between the two men somewhat, but it will still take time for them to get past all the hard feelings stirred up when their father divorced Ian’s mother to marry Alex’s mother.

As a new reader to the series, I hadn’t seen Alex in action as his earlier self-centered manwhore self, other than in the brief prologue when he dumped Madison while still in his hospital bed. But it was apparent from her memories that at least from her perspective, he’d only been a nominally good boyfriend before their breakup. Sure, the sex had been frequent and amazing, but he hadn’t been particularly considerate whenever he was approached by strange women any time he and Madison had been out in public together. So just because the two of them still find each other irresistible shouldn’t and doesn’t mean all is forgiven on her part.

In DARE TO DESIRE, Alex is fortunate to have multiple chances to show Madison he’s changed by how he treats her while working on their new shared project and how he helps her out with the court case being brought against her by her foster brother. And as Madison slowly warms to the idea of reuniting the man she still loves back in her life for good, the ties between Alex and his family of half siblings are also strengthened, extending the joy of the story’s happy ending beyond Madison and Alex to their shared loved ones as well. The richness of its family background is what elevated DARE TO DESIRE beyond a basic romance for me and it’s why I’ll be reading the first book and all the other ones to come.

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