Monthly Archives: June 2014

Review: Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews

Scandalise MeScandalise Me by Caitlin Crews
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

SCANDALIZE ME is the second full-length book in the Fifth Avenue series, where each story takes place in a continuing timeline of how those who lost their friend Sarah Michaels to suicide ten years earlier are now working together to avenge her death by bringing down the man who caused it. You could try to read this book as a standalone, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Hunter had once loved Sarah, once intended to marry her, but they had split up just before she’d jumped off the roof of a NYC skyscraper on Christmas Eve. Now it’s ten years later, and Hunter is doing his best imitation of a man punishing himself for a death he couldn’t prevent. Zoe was a victim of the same man who had pushed Sarah to suicide, but she has managed to survive by focusing on her plan for revenge. Hunter will be the perfect tool for her retribution, but what will they do when their shared need to settle the score conflicts with their growing need for each other?

I was quite impressed by AVENGE ME, the first book in this series by Maisey Yates, and am happy to say that Caitlin Crews has continued that perfect mix of romance and suspense in SCANDALIZE ME. As terrible as it was to find out what had happened to Sarah, it was even more so when Zoe became the face of all the victims still alive and suffering from what had been done to them by a man still beloved by the public. But Hunter has been a victim in his own way as well, and it’s only when Zoe makes him an accessory to her devious plans that he, too, can begin to find some peace from his past and take positive steps toward a happier future for them both, if only she’ll have him.

The ability of these two characters to find love in the middle of all the sadness and horror is remarkable, and the way Caitlin Crews balances romance with tragedy is pitch perfect. SCANDALIZE ME shows how choosing to live in the face of such monstrosity is still better than the alternative, and how that decision can lead you to a love more powerful than evil. It’s heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time, and sets up what should be a fantastic conclusion of the overall story in EXPOSE ME, the final book in the Fifth Avenue series.

Favorite Quote:

“Be my equal, the woman who knows that if she’s damaged, then Jesus Christ, so am I. Be worth feeling all of this crap, Zoe.” He could taste the ferocity on his own lips, copper like blood. “I want you, not whatever this is, that you can hide behind when it gets tough. You’re not a martyr and I’m not a hero. Let’s be who we are.”

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Review: White Collared by Shelly Bell

White Collared Part One: MercyWhite Collared Part Two: GreedWhite Collared Part Three: RevengeWhite Collared Part Four: Passion





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

If you read my reviews with any regularity or follow me on Twitter, you’ve already heard how I’ve soured on most serial romance novels, especially when some seem to go on forever, with a total cost well beyond the price of a comparable full-length novel. But as with so many other romance trends I claim to dislike, there is always another writer out there who can prove me wrong and make me love the thing I’m convinced is no longer for me. Today that writer is Shelly Bell and the romance serial in question is WHITE COLLARED.

Nothing I hate about most serials is here, as Shelly Bell and her publisher have done everything right. There are only four parts to this romantic suspense story. They have been released only a week apart. And each only costs 99 cents in the US. Normally I try not to let cost influence the content of my reviews (because hello, I’m often fortunate enough to get an Advance Review Copy) but when the entire story can be purchased within one month’s time for under $5 USD, I think it’s notable enough to include here as another point in its favor.

Still, just because it’s affordable and a reasonable length and you don’t have to wait months for a conclusion doesn’t mean you should go out and read it all yourself. What does mean you should go out and read WHITE COLLARED is that it’s an amazingly addictive erotic romance between two characters from entirely different worlds who meet under terrible circumstances and then must track down an unknown killer so they can live long enough to find their HEA. And when I say it’s amazingly addictive, I mean exactly that. I was given the opportunity to read the first part before deciding to review the entire story, and was hooked so completely that it was all I could do not to jump up and down until I received the other three parts the next day.

Kate Martin is a determined young lawyer with a secret past she thought she’d buried for good. She may be crushing on her handsome boss, Nick Trenton, but they both need to keep clear heads if they’re going to exonerate Nick’s good friend, Jaxon Deveroux. Jaxon’s wife has been found tortured to death in their mansion while he’s allegedly been out of town on business, so naturally he’s the only suspect. Kate first meets her new client as he’s being interrogated by the police, and he soon has her head in a spin. It’s wrong that Kate is so attracted to a man being accused of the worst sort of murder, and yet it’s all too obvious that the feeling is mutual. She knows Jaxon can’t be guilty, but if it wasn’t him, then who did it? Their deepening attraction could be as potentially fatal to Kate as the danger that threatens to engulf them both. But who wanted Jaxon’s wife dead, and why does this person seem to know so much about what Kate would like to keep hidden forever?

I’m always a bit skittish about romantic suspense stories, if only on account of so many misplacing the romance along the way, but also because I don’t have a particularly strong stomach for excessive violence. So i was even more wary about WHITE COLLARED, until I read the scene where Kate meets Jaxon in the police station. From that point on, until the very last page of Part 4, I was gone – hook, line, and sinker. Every moment, every flashback, every interaction down to the most seemingly innocuous detail is essential to the story. It seemed like both Kate and I were over our heads at first, but as she did her best to juggle her desire for Jaxon with her still-active attraction to Nick, all while working to find the real killer, I just let myself sit back and enjoy the ride. Even when I was sure I’d figured out whodunit, WHITE COLLARED wasn’t content to let me gloat in comfort, throwing a few last curve balls near the end that almost made me change my mind more than once. Best of all, when the murder mystery is solved, it still isn’t all neat and tidy, as there are more than a few villains in this story, and only one of them murdered Jaxon’s wife. WHITE COLLARED reminded me of the Glenn Close / Jeff Bridges movie “Jagged Edge” but with an entirely different sort of ending, and I loved every minute I spent reading it.

I will warn readers that there is some hardcore BDSM in this story, and a few scenes between the hero and heroine that may appear to flirt with dubious consent. But it is not torture porn by any stretch, and Kate’s consent was made obvious at least to my own satisfaction as the story progressed. If such themes are not what you prefer in your romance reading, then you should probably pass. But if you enjoy seeing good defeat evil in the middle of a white-hot sexually charged romance between a perfectly matched Dom and sub, then WHITE-COLLARED is the story for you. I hope you enjoying inhaling it in large satisfying gulps as much as I did. 5 stars for all four parts.

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Release Day Review: The Saint by Tiffany Reisz

The Saint cover

In the beginning, there was him.

Gutsy, green-eyed Eleanor never met a rule she didn’t want to break. She’s sick of her mother’s zealotry and the confines of Catholic school, and declares she’ll never go to church again. But her first glimpse of beautiful, magnetic Father Søren Stearns and his lust-worthy Italian motorcycle is an epiphany. Suddenly, daily Mass seems like a reward, and her punishment is the ache she feels when they’re apart. He is intelligent and insightful and he seems to know her intimately at her very core. Eleanor is consumed—and even she knows that can’t be right.

But when one desperate mistake nearly costs Eleanor everything, it is Søren who steps in to save her. She vows to repay him with complete obedience…and a whole world opens before her as he reveals to her his deepest secrets.

Danger can be managed—pain, welcomed. Everything is about to begin.

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Tiffany Reisz author pic 2014
Tiffany Reisz lives with her boyfriend (a reformed book reviewer) and two cats (one good, one evil). She graduated with a B.A. in English from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and is making both her parents and her professors proud by writing BDSM erotica under her real name. She has five piercings, one tattoo, and has been arrested twice.

When not under arrest, Tiffany enjoys Latin Dance, Latin Men, and Latin Verbs. She dropped out of a conservative southern seminary in order to pursue her dream of becoming a smut peddler. Johnny Depp’s aunt was her fourth grade teacher. Her first full-length novel THE SIREN was inspired by a desire to tie up actor Jason Isaacs (on paper). She hopes someday life will imitate art (in bed).

If she couldn’t write, she would die.

Twitter (@TiffanyReisz)



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

This review may contain spoilers for previous books in The Original Sinners series. You should absolutely NOT read THE SAINT until you have read all the previous books in the series in order.

Now that the Red Years are at an end, Tiffany Reisz takes us back in the White Years to the beginning of the Original Sinners that we’ve heard about, but never read in detail until now. THE SAINT is the first of these books, where the history of Nora, Søren, Kingsley, and all the other assorted characters in their shared past will finally be told.

Even though THE SAINT is primarily about the past, it still takes place in the time after the events of THE MISTRESS, thanks to the framing device used by the author to present it as a story Nora tells a new man in her life. There’s also a strong implication that someone close to Nora has died recently, but we don’t find out exactly who that is until the very end of the book. Beyond that, there’s really nothing more I can say about THE SAINT without spoiling the fun of discovery. It’s a tribute to Tiffany Reisz’s skill at manipulating the events of this richly detailed world of hers that there were so many new things to learn about when Nora met Søren and Kingsley even after all that we’d been told in the previous books. And frankly, if you weren’t Team Søren before now, I can’t see how you could possibly resist him by the time you finish reading THE SAINT. But I’m biased like that.

In any case, THE SAINT is a must-read for everyone who has read all the books before it, and it’s just as good as all the rest. For me it was like coming home again to the kinky family I’ve grown to love, and as always, being left wanting more in the best possible way. If you’ve come this far with Nora and the men in her life, I’m sure you’ll feel the same. 5 stars


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Review: Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan

Suddenly Last Summer (Hqn)Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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


SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER makes me wish yet again that the Snow Crystal resort in Vermont really existed. I would sit out on the deck of my lodge suite and just admire the view all day, especially if it included any or all of the O’Neil brothers. In this book, Sean O’Neil is so appealing as a romance hero, especially once he realizes how wrong he’d been about everything, including his grandfather, and how he can be a positive force in Elise’s life instead of just another man she has to push away. Elise was a decent heroine in her own right, although she did start to grate on me after a while with her over-the-top über-French drama about how it was all her fault about Walter and the inevitable delay in opening the new restaurant in the resort’s old boathouse. I think part of my reaction was because this is now the second romance I’ve read in the past year with a passionate French chef heroine named Elise. While that’s not this book’s fault, I am hoping very hard that this is not a new romance trend.

I also had a problem with one of my personal reading pet peeves: inconsistent condom use. There was a specific point where one was explicitly referenced the first time they had sex, but never again thereafter, despite several scenes where I would have expected there would have at least been a passing mention. Considering how adamant both the hero and heroine were about never settling down or having children, I was worried about the possibility of an unintended pregnancy throughout the rest of the book, so I was quite relieved when that did not happen.

Beyond those minor issues, Elise and Sean were a joy to read when they let themselves just enjoy the moment and be honest about their true emotions. I loved how he handled the fallout from their final Big Misunderstanding, and when they finally shared their feelings for one another, their HEA was worth every moment of earlier doubt. SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER is a worthy followup to the previous book in the O’Neil Brothers trilogy, and I’m so glad that there will be one more book in this series so we can see Tyler and Brenna get their own happy ending, too.

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Review: Naughty Bits Part III: Bound to Please by Joey W. Hill

Naughty Bits Part III Bound to PleaseNaughty Bits Part III Bound to Please by Joey W. Hill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

So much happened in this penultimate installment of NAUGHTY BITS that it’s hard to know what to cover in this review. Madison has become more comfortable working in the shop and being around Logan, yet there’s still the nagging feeling that she’s not quite ready to submit completely to either one. Now that the reality that her sister Alice isn’t ever coming back has finally sunk in, Madison is ready to move past all her previous failed relationships toward a new life where she embraces the submissive self she’s denied for all these years. But first, she needs to try just one last thing, one more variation that will require the full cooperation of Troy, Mistress Slade, and Logan himself. Because how can Madison be entirely sure she should be Logan’s submissive if she hasn’t tried being a Domme first?

Logan must be the most patient man that ever lived, for he never hesitates to do everything Madison needs to give her the confidence to choose him as he has already chosen her, as she was already chosen for him by Alice. That’s really what BOUND TO PLEASE is all about: showing the reader the value of choice and full consent, both by demonstrating it in its full flower, and also by proving its innate value when we see another relationship entirely absent of consent. It’s an essential lesson for both Madison and the reader, and provides the sense of security required for both Madison and Logan to take another step closer to the happy ending waiting for them in the final installment. Their HEA may be inevitable, but it won’t be a sure thing until it finally arrives. And after these first three fantastic chapters of NAUGHTY BITS, Part IV is sure to be just as amazing.


Overall: 5
Sensuality level: 4

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Review: The Billionaire Submissive by Joely Sue Burkhart

The Billionaire Submissive (Billionaires in Bondage)The Billionaire Submissive by Joely Sue Burkhart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Joely Sue Burkhart is one of the writers I wish would release more books each year because I enjoy reading them so much. Her Connaghers series is one of my favorites in contemporary BDSM romance, so I was thrilled to hear that she was starting a new Billionaires in Bondage series with this first title, THE BILLIONAIRE SUBMISSIVE. Sure, it’s an overplayed trope, but who better to breathe new life into it than someone who has already established her credentials in the BDSM romance field? After reading this book, I can say without hesitation that Ms. Burkhart has more than validated my confidence in her ability to make the BDSM Billionaire trope her own, with a story that’s as beautiful and touching as any romance I’ve read in a long time.

The premise of THE BILLIONAIRE SUBMISSIVE is as simple as its title, and as complex as its hero and heroine. Donovan Morgan has learned the hard way that only money and power can get you what you want, and even then, they aren’t always enough. He has employees all over the world at his beck and call, but what he really needs is to serve at the feet of a woman worthy of his submission. As a public figure, Donovan can’t just wander into any BDSM club, or show up at a local munch, so he asks his trusted private investigator to find the best and most trustworthy Domme in the immediate vicinity. But when his ace PI uncovers a woman who could be more than just the perfect Mistress, Donovan will soon discover that true submission is only part of what he needs, and just the start of what he wants to give her.

Lilly Harrison is a stained glass artist by day, Dominatrix for hire by night. Both feed her soul, but only one pays the bills. When she first meets Donovan under his pretext of hiring her for an elaborate window design project, Lilly senses the submissive inside the bossy billionaire. But when she realizes why she’s really there, it’s only against her better judgment that Lilly decides to take a chance with Donovan and all the possibilities he brings. Their sexual connection is instant and undeniable, but a happy ending is far from certain, and the road there could break them both as easily as the stained glass in Lilly’s window. It will take everything they’ve got before all the delicate and jagged pieces come together for their hard-won Happy Ever After.

I’ve read dozens of billionaire BDSM romances, and more than a few with a FemDom theme, but THE BILLIONAIRE SUBMISSIVE is currently the only one where every aspect has clicked perfectly into place for me all the way from the first page to the last. Both Donovan and Lilly are fully realized individuals who aren’t forced together by external events, but who agree to an exclusive D/s relationship in spite of Donovan’s initial heavy-handed tactics and Lilly’s reluctance to make him her sole client. As their story unfolds, we get both points of view without ever being bogged down in superfluous descriptions, or confused by excessive head-hopping. Best of all, their romance is shown as an ongoing work-in-progress throughout the book, with the natural give and take that any two people with reasonable boundaries and expectations would experience, albeit one where the woman is dominant in the bedroom and the man is dominant outside it. Lilly is never awed by Donovan’s wealth or status, but learns to accept that he will never allow her to jeopardize her own safety and well-being. In turn, Donovan learns that you can’t force love and trust; you can only show yourself worthy by giving it without question in return. And when some terrible misunderstanding threatens to derail everything near the end, Joely Sue Burkhart once again avoids manufactured drama, instead giving us the ultimate scene of trust between Donovan and Lilly that demonstrates all they’ve learned from each other and proving their love and trust is both genuine and mutual. Their HEA is as real and as beautiful as the glass window Lilly has created for Donovan’s office building, only infinitely more precious. That ending and the journey to it is why THE BILLIONAIRE SUBMISSIVE is now officially the best FemDom romance I’ve ever read, and my best romance for this year so far. I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in this series.

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Review: Summer Rain (Love In The Rain series), ed. by Sarah Frantz

Summer RainSummer Rain by Ruthie Knox

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

SUMMER RAIN is a new anthology of short stories by an all-star list of romance writers where each story has three things in common with the others. The first feature tying them all together is at least one scene where rain appears to play a key role in the plot. The second characteristic they all share is that each and every one is beautifully written and deeply touching. And the final, most important aspect of every story in SUMMER RAIN is that they were all donated by their writers and editor so that 100% of all profits from the sale of this anthology could be donated to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States.

As with any large collection of stories, even ones with such impressive credentials such as these, it’s likely not every story would be to every reader’s preference. But I have to admit that at least for me, I loved them all so much that I had to stop reading for a while after each one, so I could wallow in a lovely book hangover before moving on to the next. These may be relatively short stories, but each packed such a visceral punch that there was no way I could read them all in a single sitting like I usually do. More than one left me in happy tears at its end, but none left me unsatisfied, though it would have been nice to follow a few of the romances beyond what was provided here, if only to enjoy being in their world for just a bit longer.

I know I haven’t been very specific here about what is in each of the stories in SUMMER RAIN, but that’s because I want every reader to experience the same feeling of discovery I had, without any expectations other than the knowledge that you’ll be reading something very special. SUMMER RAIN is a wonderful way to help people who have suffered from sexual violence, but it is also a collection of achingly beautiful romances so good that I bought my own copy. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars.

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Review: Avenge Me by Maisey Yates

Avenge Me (Fifth Avenue Trilogy, #1)Avenge Me by Maisey Yates
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

AVENGE ME is the first full-length novel in the Fifth Avenue series, where each story revolves around the suicide of Sarah Michaels, and the long-term effects of her tragic death on those who were closest to her. In this book, it’s been ten years since Sarah killed herself, and although her three best friends from college meet every year to commemorate the sad anniversary, it’s only now that justice might finally be close at hand. Austin Treffen, the last one to hear from Sarah and the son of the man they believe responsible for her suicide, has received an anonymous note claiming to have proof of his father’s guilt. So when he pretends to reconcile with his family at the company holiday party in an attempt to get more information, the last thing Austin expects is to be swept off his feet by a beautiful woman. But when that woman turns out to be Sarah’s younger sister, the two of them may have to choose between their desire for each other and their need to avenge the dead woman who still haunts them both.

I’ve always been a fan of Maisey Yates’s category-length romances, but AVENGE ME was a revelation in how well she was able to set a tone of impending danger and maintain it flawlessly over nearly three hundred pages. The true violence has already taken place before our story begins, but as we learn more about Sarah from her friends and her sister Katy, the loss feels recent, even as more details about Sarah’s final days are revealed. But even though Sarah is ultimately what brings Austin and Katy together, it’s their budding relationship which is front and center, as it should be in any true romance. What I especially enjoyed about AVENGE ME was how it wasn’t just sexual chemistry and their common loss that made the hero and heroine so well matched, but how they had both been damaged by their dysfunctional childhoods despite the vast financial gulf between them. Although it’s obvious to the reader that Austin and Katy belong together, it’s not a sure thing that they will permit themselves to embrace a shared future, and I was genuinely concerned that there would be some sort of cliffhanger somehow that would keep me from the HEA that I needed to read and they deserved to have. Any romance writer that can make me worry about the happy ending when I already know there IS a happy ending is uncommonly good at writing romance, and that’s what Maisey Yates has done in AVENGE ME. If the next two books in the Fifth Avenue series are half as good at maintaining this degree of delicious uncertainty, I am going to be a very happy reader.

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Review: The Payment Series (Prized, Possessed, Purgatory) by Cassandra Carr

The Payment Series (Prized, Possessed, Purgatory)The Payment Series by Cassandra Carr

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review at Night Owl Reviews, where you can find the full text.

Review excerpt:

Just because Payment was a rough read for me doesn’t mean it couldn’t be enjoyable for others. But please heed the disclaimers and be aware that this is not BDSM-lite by any stretch of the imagination. There are hundreds of graphic sexual acts forced upon its heroine, including grossly unsanitary ones that you might not otherwise expect. They work within the context of the story, but they may not work for all readers. Be sure you know what you can handle before you decide.

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Review: Flying by Megan Hart

FlyingFlying by Megan Hart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Megan Hart was one of the very first writers I found when I started looking for quality contemporary erotic romance books in the past few years, and she’s still one of the best. To be fair, what she writes is more erotic women’s fiction than romance specifically, since there is absolutely no guarantee that any of her books will have a true Happy Ever After for her main characters, but enough of her books have qualified that she’s one of my favorites in the genre. However, and I’ll acknowledge this is on me more than her, her last few books haven’t been as enjoyable for me as her earlier works, and I was becoming concerned that I might have to stop reviewing her books, as we just didn’t seem to mesh well anymore.

So it was with some trepidation that I started reading FLYING, although the blurb made it sound like something I would absolutely love. I’m so happy to say FLYING is Megan Hart back to where I love her – ripping my heart out for a heroine who could just have easily been me, in a situation that only she could make me understand and want to see end in a better place than where it began.

Stella is hanging on to her sanity by her fingertips, and it’s only by spending weekends away from home with strangers she picks up on airplanes and airports that she can temporarily forget all the loss in her life. Matthew starts out as yet another sexual escape for Stella, but ends up being someone who could make her break all her rules, including the one about never letting another man into her heart.

I had a tremendous amount of sympathy for Stella and refused to judge her for how she had chosen to cope with what had happened to her family. So when she found herself falling for Matthew, I was more worried about how she could possibly survive another loss than about any repercussions in her real life. But as damaged as Stella might be, Matthew is even more, and although I loved them together, I was so proud of how she finally called him out for not valuing her as much as she had him, and how she forced him to take the next step toward a genuine relationship with her if that’s what he really wanted. So when she went on to finally deal with all the dangling ends in her real life after the events which had blown it apart, I was cheering and happy even before the surprise happy ending, because I knew that she was going to be okay with or without Matthew.

The only problem I had with FLYING was what kept me from giving it a full 5 star review, and that’s the deliberate use of the third person present voice for all the scenes where Stella is living through one of her “flying” sequences. I realize that was done to help set those off from her “real” life, and it definitely works in that respect. But that type of writing is extremely difficult for me to read, and when the entire first chapter of the book was in that style, it took me several days to finish, resisting my impulse to DNF the whole book at that point. Once the second chapter began in third person past voice, I was able to read and enjoy the rest of the book without issue. It’s likely most other readers won’t have this problem reading third person present, but if you do, just hang in there and finish that first chapter, because FLYING is definitely worth every effort.

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