Tag Archives: Different Worlds

Review: Call On Me by Roni Loren

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: Call On Me by Roni LorenCall on Me by Roni Loren
Series:
Published by Penguin on July 7th 2015
Genres: BDSM, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Erotic Romance, Erotica, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 448
Goodreads
four-stars
The new Loving on the Edge novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Nothing Between Us and Need You Tonight… Oakley Easton wants two things: to be a good mom to her daughter and to ditch her less than ideal night job. Hooking up with bad boy drummer Pike Ryland? Not on the agenda. She needs a promotion. Not sex, tattoos and rock ’n’ roll.Pike isn’t about to let Ms. Prim and Proper shut him down so easily, especially when he stumbles upon Oakley’s sexy night job. She’s only playing a role on those late night calls with strangers, but when he gets her on the line, all bets are off. He won’t stop until that sultry voice is calling his name for real.But as they move from anonymous fantasies in the dark to the flesh-on-hot-flesh reality of the bedroom, the risk of falling in love becomes all too high. And the safe, quiet world that Oakley’s worked so hard to create is about to be exposed to the one person who could ruin it all.

When I first got back into reading romance a few years ago, one of the authors recommended to me was Roni Loren. The book was CRASH INTO YOU, an erotic romance thriller, and I was hooked from the start. Seven books and one serial later, CALL ON ME continues the Loving On The Edge series tradition of mixing erotic romance with suspense, even as the suspense here is significantly less violent and more nuanced than in the first book that started it all.

Readers of this series already got to meet Pike Ryland, the super sexy and successful rock drummer, when he was hanging out with his buddy Foster as that gentlemen discovered lasting love with the lady next door. Now Pike is about to find his own HEA where he least expects it, but only once he realizes the rock star persona that brings the ladies to his door is what’s pushing her away.

Oakley Easton went through the music industry wringer and came out on the other side a different person. The last thing she needs in her precariously balanced life is a musician, even if he’s the first guy to give her any kind of thrill since before her daughter was born. Still, neither Pike nor their attraction can be denied, and as Pike and Oakley grow closer, so does her most feared danger following in his wake.

One of my favorite things about CALL ON ME was how the suspense wasn’t the usual external murderous threat existing solely to push the hero and heroine closer. It was more about all the fears Oakley had to confront every day, constantly juggling her time between dealing with her daughter’s needs and finding money to pay all their bills. Even when Oakley’s greatest nightmare finally comes true, she confronts the peril directly, singlehandedly saving both her daughter and herself with Pike serving only as an approving bystander.

The other great feature of this book is also what I’ve loved in each book of this series — a heroine who embraces her sexuality fully as the hero comes to terms with how his own wants and desires can fit within the relationship they are building together. Oakley may not advertise the nature of her second job, but she’s also not going to apologize for it to Pike or anyone else, because she knows best what she can do to earn more money while raising her daughter without anyone else’s help. It’s Pike who needs to grow up and see Oakley as the woman strong enough to be both his submissive and his love without reservations or regrets, and the result made me both swoony and teary-eyed. CALL ON ME shows that this long running series is just as good now as it ever was. I’m not sure what the next book will bring, but I can’t wait to read it.

four-stars

Review and Giveaway: The Collar by Tara Sue Me

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review and Giveaway: The Collar by Tara Sue MeThe Collar by Tara Sue Me
Series: Submissive #5
Also in this series: The Enticement
Also by this author: The Enticement
Published by Penguin, Penguin Publishing Group on July 7th 2015
Genres: BDSM, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Erotic Romance, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 336
Goodreads
four-stars
The New York Times bestselling author of The Submissive returns with a scintillating new tale about power, danger, and jaw-dropping passion.... Nathaniel and Abby are struggling to navigate the challenging waters of their own relationship, when they get a surprising phone call from their partners in play, Dena and Jeff, who are in need of a helping hand… Seven years ago, blonde, beautiful lawyer Dena Jenkins was tired of her carefully controlled life. Desperate for something exhilarating to help her escape the pressures of her demanding job and her senator father, she joined a steamy, local BDSM club as a submissive. There she met brooding Dominant, Jeff. The attraction between them was undeniable, and, despite Dena’s doubts, they couldn’t stay away from each other. Except, as the years have passed, their blazing connection has proven difficult to maintain. Dena and Jeff have a history they’d rather forget, but Dena can’t let go of the past, and Jeff is ready to move across the country to give her space. Now, to save their passion, they’ll have to rediscover what it means to trust each other—and give themselves to each other completely.

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/984c05ae24/

THE COLLAR is the fifth book in Tara Sue Me’s excellent Submissive series and the first where the main focus is not on the couple who have been the center of the ongoing story. Jeff and Dena were both introduced briefly in the previous book, THE ENTICEMENT. Now in THE COLLAR we get to discover their backstory and see them find their way back to each other again with the help of Nathaniel and Abby, as well as the somewhat opportune timing of a surprise stalker.

It’s clear from the start that Jeff and Dena were meant to be together before something terrible came between them. At first I thought the problem would be related to the different worlds from which they came. Dena was raised in the lap of luxury and privilege thanks to her father’s elevated status in political circles. Jeff’s origins were much lower and less pleasant, and it seemed as though he’d never stop thinking he wasn’t worthy of her. Yet when they met at the local BDSM club, her submissive nature and his Dominance fit perfectly together, and the love they found together seemed invincible. But now it’s years later and whatever broke them up still appears to be keeping them apart. As much as it kills him inside, Jeff is getting ready to move far away for good, in the mistaken belief that it’s the best decision for them both. It’s only when a sudden threat to Dena’s safety appears that Jeff realizes he must stay and protect her at any cost, even if it means reopening old wounds and confronting what stands between them once and for all.

I was concerned at first when I realized Nathaniel and Abby would not be the central couple of THE COLLAR but was soon placated by how seamlessly their story is woven into that of their new friends Jeff and Dena. We already know how great Jeff is by how he saved Abby in THE ENTICEMENT and the great trust that Nathaniel has placed in him. We also soon see that Dena isn’t the entitled rich girl one might expect with her upbringing. It’s only when Dena is with Jeff that she’s truly happy, and the same is true for him. But it’s quite obvious that the pain that stood between them would have won if it wasn’t for the person who suddenly starts threatening Dena’s life.

Normally when this type of suspense plot is used to bring the hero and heroine together I get worried that it will take over entirely, but in THE COLLAR the suspense serves the romance, not vice versa. Even when I was able to figure out the culprit, I didn’t much care because that subplot was just the excuse needed to keep Jeff with Dena long enough for them to deal with all the misunderstandings that had kept them apart. So much of THE COLLAR is Jeff and Dena recalling the past and working together to get beyond it, and that’s what I loved the most about this book. But we still get enough Nathaniel and Abby so that it’s their story as well, and that’s why THE COLLAR is yet another great entry in the Submissive series for me.

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four-stars

Review and Giveaway: Caged by Lorelei James

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review and Giveaway:  Caged by Lorelei JamesCaged by Lorelei James
Also by this author: Unraveled
Published by Penguin on July 14th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Goodreads
four-stars
In the searing fourth novel in the Mastered Series, following Unraveled, only one woman can set a hardened fighter free from his past.… In order to survive a life of tragedy, Deacon McConnell embraced his roughest edges and learned to fight on the streets. Then a life-changing jujitsu seminar led by Sensei Ronin Black led Deacon to become a professional fighter. With his muscular physique and his body covered in tattoos and scars, the MMA fighter defines mean, both on and off the mat. But everything changes when innocent Molly Calloway signs up for his kickboxing class. Molly is Deacon’s opposite in every way: She’s kind, sweet, thoughtful, and educated. After a heated argument between them turns into a passionate encounter, Deacon realizes Molly is eager to experience more, and she looks to him to take her to the darker edge of lust.... The last thing either of them expects is how deeply their lives will be thrown upside down by the passion they find together.

CAGED is the latest entry in the Mastered series by Lorelei James and one that continues the upward swing of my enjoyment in a series that started out rough for me but keeps getting better. In this book, we finally get an HEA for two previously introduced secondary characters, including the one whose initial violent encounter was the starting point for the entire series.

Deacon McConnell is famous in the local mixed martial arts community for his ability to read and exploit his opponents’ weaknesses in direct competition. Yet when it comes to making a claim on the woman he’s wanted for years, he’s still unable to follow through. Molly Calloway came to the dojo at her best friend Amery’s insistence for self-defense training after an attack that threatened her physical safety. Now that Amery is happily married to the dojo’s Sensei, it’s Molly who’s still working on defending herself from both physical and emotional threats, the greatest of which is her undeniable pull toward Deacon. When Molly finally confronts Deacon in the unlikeliest of places, the simmering attraction between them flares up hot and strong. But as demons from both their individual pasts threaten to come between them, it will take more than physical desire to stay true to themselves and each other to their happy ending together.

I’ll admit that I hadn’t paid much attention to either of these characters in previous books, other than when Molly was being stubborn about not wanting to go to the dojo when Amery agreed to participate in classes with her there in the first book. But CAGED has fleshed out the backgrounds of both Molly and Deacon almost to the point of overload, and shown that they do have more in common than just irresistible sexual chemistry. Both of them were rejected in almost ridiculously horrific ways by the people who should have loved and protected them, and each has managed to not just survive but succeed in spite of all that. It was wonderful to see them have each other’s backs as they had to re-fight their family battles one last time, even when the going got rough and inevitably faltered along the way.

The only part that didn’t quite work for me in CAGED was the early continuing emphasis on Deacon’s various confrontations with his trainer and a new but ultimately temporary competitor, and the constant misunderstandings from Ronin’s lack of transparency in his dojo management. I wasn’t sure who was supposed to be the bad guy and who wasn’t, and was still confused right up until a few pages of explanation much later in the book when Ronin deigned to make things clearer to both Deacon and the reader. Frankly, anything that isn’t directly related to the romance is of lesser interest for me, so I was happiest when Molly and Deacon were front and center together. Their personalities complemented each other well when they didn’t let external forces become a distraction, and the obstacles in their path to their HEA helped them grow emotionally as individuals and a couple. By the end of CAGED, I knew that they were going to stay together no matter what, and that it was the best possible ending for both of them. I can only hope that they and we as the readers will continue to enjoy seeing other members of the Black Arts dojo family find their own happiness as the Bound series continues.

Berkley / NAL Romance is giving one lucky commenter a free copy of the first two books in the Bound series (BOUND and UNWOUND). Just leave a comment here at the blog on this review between now (7/9/2015) and a week from now (7/16/2015). The winner will be drawn at random from all comments on this post and will receive this prize directly from the publisher.

four-stars

Review: Suddenly One Summer by Julie James

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: Suddenly One Summer by Julie JamesSuddenly One Summer by Julie James
Series: FBI / US Attorney #6
Published by Penguin on June 2nd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Goodreads
five-stars
From the New York Times bestselling author of It Happened One Wedding comes a novel about a man and a woman whose summer is about to get very, very hot... Divorce lawyer Victoria Slade has seen enough unhappy endings to swear off marriage forever. That doesn't mean she's opposed to casual dating—just not with her cocky new neighbor, who is as gorgeous and tempting as he is off-limits. But once she agrees to take on his sister's case, she's as determined to win as ever—even if that means teaming up with Ford....Investigative journalist Ford Dixon is bent on finding the man who got his sister pregnant and left her high and dry. He's willing to partner with Victoria, despite the fact that the beautiful brunette gets under his skin like no other woman. He might not be looking to settle down, but there's no denying the scorching attraction between them. Still, the more time he spends with Victoria, the more he realizes that the one woman as skeptical about love as he is might be the only woman he could really fall for…"If you need a great read to throw in your beach bag, make sure Suddenly One Summer is one of your choices." --USA TodayFrom the Paperback edition.

SUDDENLY ONE SUMMER is only the second book I’ve ever read by Julie James, but she has already become a writer I trust to provide a couple I can’t resist in an interesting story filled with seemingly effortless dialogue and just enough plot twists to keep it lively. In this latest entry in her ongoing FBI / US Attorney series, our hero is an investigative journalist who was introduced as a secondary character in a previous book and his heroine is a divorce attorney determined to keep her life free from romantic entanglements.

Victoria Slade wasn’t supposed to move into her new house until the end of summer, but when burglars send her to the hospital with a panic attack, she’s forced to find another less frightening place to live until then. When she meets Ford Dixon, her temporary neighbor, Victoria is tempted, but refuses to let her libido or her heart get her in trouble. What she didn’t count on was getting pulled into Ford’s quest to find the father of his sister’s baby, and how their constant proximity would soon blossom into a romance neither Victoria nor Ford is quite ready to handle.

What I loved the most about SUDDENLY ONE SUMMER is how Julie James takes two people who are complicated characters in their own right and throws them together in a way that not only seems possible but inevitable as we feel every moment they experience on the way to their happy ending. Although Ford and Victoria come from different worlds, the childhood traumas that shaped them aren’t all that dissimilar, and when they reach the inescapable black moment of the story we can see their coping mechanisms are also variations on the same theme. The search for the father of Ford’s sister’s baby may at first seem not directly related to the romance, but as Ford and Victoria become more engrossed in their shared quest, their teamwork helps build the rapport and trust each needs to take their summer affair into something deeper. It’s also what ultimately keeps them in each other’s lives long enough to realize what they have is stronger than any past trauma, and pushes them into the shared leap of faith a real commitment requires.

It’s hard to fully describe the feeling I get when I read a Julie James book without sounding either pretentious or hackneyed. For me, her writing is like a perfectly mixed cocktail or a flawlessly constructed dessert, where you know there was extensive effort behind the scenes to make it all work but all you experience is the sublime result. SUDDENLY ONE SUMMER made me laugh, made me cry, and made me swoon, sometimes all in the same paragraph. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year and reminds me I still need to go back and read all the other titles in this excellent series.

five-stars

Asking For It by Lilah Pace

Asking For It by Lilah Pace

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Asking For It by Lilah PaceAsking for It by Lilah Pace
Series: Asking For It #1
Also in this series: Begging for It
Also by this author: Begging for It
Published by Penguin Group USA on June 2nd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Goodreads
five-stars
“This is who I am. This is what I want. Now I need a man dangerous enough to give it to me.” Graduate student Vivienne Charles is afraid of her own desires—ashamed to admit that she fantasizes about being taken by force, by a man who will claim her completely and without mercy. When the magnetic, mysterious Jonah Marks learns her secret, he makes an offer that stuns her: they will remain near-strangers to each other, and meet in secret so that he can fulfill her fantasy. Their arrangement is twisted. The sex is incredible. And—despite their attempts to stay apart—soon their emotions are bound together as tightly as the rope around Vivienne’s wrists. But the secrets in their pasts threaten to turn their affair even darker... Reader Advisory: Asking for It deals explicitly with fantasies of non-consensual sex. Readers sensitive to portrayals of non-consensual sex should be advised.

ASKING FOR IT is an unusual story from a new author, or at least a new name to the genre. I wish I knew the name that Lilah Pace used for her other books, because I want to glom her backlist. Because I loved ASKING FOR IT. I loved it so much that I bought my own copy when it was released weeks after I read the ARC. It’s easily the best book I’ve read so far in 2015, and the only book I’m anticipating being better is the follow up book to come later this year.

Vivienne Charles has a special need for sexual satisfaction, an overwhelming need and a secret shame. Secret until one fateful evening when her drunk ex blurts out the truth in front of the one man who hears and understands. For Jonah Marks has his own wants and desires, and what he wants is what she needs. The forces that let them to this point may be pushing them together, but when long buried secrets are revealed, those same forces will drive them apart just as quickly, perhaps for good.

I’m not going to drop any spoilers to show why I found this book to be so incredibly good because as always, the joy is in the reading. But there is one thing I need to reveal because I’m convinced it will make you like the book more, not less. ASKING FOR IT is not a stand-alone book – it’s book 1 of a duology. That means the romance started here in ASKING FOR IT will not have its happy ending until book 2, BEGGING FOR IT.

If you hate cliffhangers, please know that I hate them just as much, and if I hadn’t known this story was continued in the next book, I’d have felt blindsided. Yet I did know, and as a result, the ending felt more like an intermission between acts, a natural break as opposed to an arbitrary stopping point. Vivienne and Jonah just have so many problems to work out both individually and together that any HEA in this book would have to be rushed and completely unbelievable. By the time ASKING FOR IT ends, there’s so much we know about Vivienne, but we’ve only just begun to plumb Jonah’s depths, and why what Vivienne wanted is what he wanted to give her…until it wasn’t.

If you’ve read the blurb or the disclaimers, you know what this book is about. It’s a woman with rape fantasies and a man willing to make them happen for her. But what this book is also about is consent, in big flashing capital letters. Consent is what brings Vivienne and Jonah together. Consent is what differentiates their relationship from any other either has ever had. And lack of consent is what could ultimately tear them apart. Because consent needs to be mutual, or it doesn’t exist at all.

The line that resonated with me the most about consent is also what I keep coming back to when someone asks me why their story had to be in two separate books. It was spoken by Vivienne’s therapist about Jonah, and it’s part of why this book was so different for me in a genre overrun with dub-con, non-con, and every variation of what is sold as “dark romance” these days.

“But he gets to have limits too.”

Readers also get to have limits. ASKING FOR IT might hit your limits, and that’s understandable. But if this is the kind of book you think you might like, I think you might like it a lot. I know I did.


Excerpt

“Enough about me,” I say as the weekend-night bustle flows around us – college kids heading to bars, stores open late to take advantage of the foot traffic, guitar music and drumbeats audible from the door of every club. “What about you? What made you decide to study earthquakes?”

“And volcanoes,” he adds.

“Can’t leave out the volcanoes,” I say, and am rewarded with a small smile.

“Well, when I was about ten years old, my mother and stepfather took the whole family to Hawaii.”

Stepfather, I note. Jonah could have no memory of his real father, and Carter Hale’s been married to Jonah’s mother for almost three decades. Most kids in that situation would wind up calling their stepfathers Dad. Not Jonah.

He continues, “Like most tourists in Hawaii, we went out to see the volcanoes. I hadn’t imagined you could get that close to the lava flow. When I saw it – glowing orange with heat, pure liquid stone –” To my surprise, he grins. “I was ten, so I thought it was totally cool.”

I laugh out loud. “So that’s how you picked your scientific specialty? Because it was cool?”

“Any scientist who tells you something different is lying. If you’re going to spend your entire life studying something, it needs to thrill you. Volcanoes and earthquakes thrilled me when I was a kid, and they still do. Even after all the studies and the dissertation and months of looking at nothing but seismograph readings. I get a charge out of it every time.”

“Hey, they always say that if you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work,” I say.

Which is a crock.” When I raise an eyebrow at Jonah, his smile regains some of the fierceness I know so well. “If you spend twelve hours in a row doing something – anything – it feels like work.”

Laughing, I admit, “Okay, yes. The studio’s my favorite place to be, but there are times when I feel like if I go in there one more time, I’ll tear my hair out. Still, I’d rather go crazy making art than do anything else.”

Jonah nods. “That’s it exactly.”

“So you get to spend your whole life chasing lava.”

“And you’ll spend yours making art.”

“Yes and no,” I say. “After graduation I’m hoping to go into museum work. Preserving old etchings, curating important pieces, even using original plates from centuries ago to make new prints.”

He gives me a look. “You should do your own work. Not worry about taking care of someone else’s.”

“It’s not either/or. I’ll never stop creating my own work. But even if I set the entire art world on fire, it’ll be years before I can support myself through my etchings alone – if ever. So there’s going to be a day job for a while, probably a long while. Should I do something boring that sucks my soul away one day at a time? Or should I surround myself with some of the greatest etchings of all time, and help other people understand how amazing they are?”

After a moment, Jonah nods. “When you put it that way, okay. I see it.”

Then his hand brushes against mine. At first I think he’s drawing me aside as we go past a group of college kids drunkenly weaving along the sidewalk. After they pass, though, he adjusts his grip, twining our fingers together.

Jonah Marks has screwed me hotter and dirtier than any other man ever has – and yet my heart flutters like a girl’s as he holds my hand for the first time. 


About the author

Lilah Pace is a pseudonym for a New York Times bestselling YA author. This is her first adult novel.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

five-stars

Review: Make You Mine by Jackie Ashenden

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  Make You Mine by Jackie AshendenMake You Mine by Jackie Ashenden
Series: Nine Circles #2
Published by Macmillan on May 5th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Gothic, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Goodreads
five-stars
In the Nine Circles Club, one lucky man gets more than his share of money, power, and women--until he meets a beautiful opponent who plays in the name of love...in Make You Mine by Jackie Ashenden.He's raising the stakes.International playboy Alex St. James always plays to win. Whether it's betting on a high-stakes card game--or bedding a high-class socialite--the gorgeous world-class gambler knows how to beat the odds using his brains, his body, and a whole lot of charm. But there's one woman who's immune to Alex's bag of tricks--which makes her the perfect challenge...and the ultimate prize.She's going all in.Once a special operative in her native Russia, Katya Ivanov knows what kind of man Alex is. As his personal bodyguard, she's seen him seduce the richest women, place the riskiest bets, and break the hardest players. But to even a score from her past, she's willing to take a gamble on her reckless boss. Even if she has to pretend to be his lover. Even if he drives her mad with desire. And then she never wants this dangerous game to end...

This review may contain spoilers for MINE TO TAKE, the first book in the Nine Circles series. You could try to read MAKE YOU MINE as a standalone, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

MAKE YOU MINE is the second book in Jackie Ashenden’s romantic suspense series Nine Circles, telling the story of how another member of the “bleeped-up billionaires club” finds his own true love when he least expects it. And while the first book MINE TO TAKE was a great introduction to the Nine Circles world, MAKE YOU MINE took off like a rocket from where that story left off and didn’t stop until I was breathless and crying for fictional characters like they were actually real.

Alex St. James has tried to protect himself and everyone else in his life by pretending not to care about anything except making money and pleasures of the flesh. Caring nearly killed him once, and he refuses to be vulnerable a second time. But when he needs his lovely bodyguard to be his pawn in a plot for revenge against the man who changed his life forever, Alex discovers that not only does he care, but that being cared for in return can be the greatest strength of all.

Betrayed by family and country, Katya found work as a bodyguard to an American billionaire playboy while waiting for news about the missing man she’s promised to marry. She is paid to protect his body, but it’s his soul that she worries about. As Alex’s plan unfolds, only Katya’s unswerving loyalty and Alex’s last shreds of humanity stand between them and the loss of everything they both hold dear.

One of the things I love about Jackie Ashenden’s stories is how her characters always pull at my heartstrings so brutally that I sometimes have to put the book down, but never so much that I won’t immediately pick it back up again. And then just when I think it’s reached the lowest point of what could possibly happen, she hits me with one more punch that leaves me both reeling and begging for more. in MAKE YOU MINE, Alex and Katya burn up the page every time they are together, even while a terrible menace hangs over them for most of the book. And as they each reveal their closest secrets to each other, that menace seems less threatening if only because they know that nothing can really hurt them as long as they have each other. The suspense plot brings them together, but it’s their romance that propels the book and that’s what makes it a romantic suspense I can wholeheartedly recommend. And with the overall Nine Circles storyline still unresolved, I’m even more eager to read YOU ARE MINE than I was to read this book.

five-stars

Review: Seduced By Sunday by Catherine Bybee

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  Seduced By Sunday by Catherine BybeeSeduced by Sunday by Catherine Bybee
Published by Amazon Publishing on April 14th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Family Life, Fiction, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 310
Format: eARC
Goodreads
three-stars
She swore off love forever...but he just might change her mind. The sixth sweet, thrilling book in the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling Weekday Brides series from Catherine Bybee. Meg Rosenthal: Matchmaker by day, realist by night, Meg is not about to get swept away by a charming, darkly handsome businessman in a designer suit. She's come to a beautiful secluded resort to evaluate the private island's potential for her agency, not to ogle its owner. But there's something about the magnetic man that's hard to resist, even for a woman who refuses to fall in love. Valentino Masini: A successful and drop-dead sexy businessman, Valentino is used to having the finer things in life. Yet he's never wanted someone the way he wants Meg, who's stirring up a hurricane of trouble in his heart. But just as he decides to convince her to stay, someone else decides it might be time to get Meg off the island...permanently.

One of the very first romances I read as an ebook several years ago was WIFE BY WEDNESDAY by Catherine Bybee, and it’s still one of my favorite contemporary romances. Since then, that book has been followed by several others in what’s now known as the Weekday Brides series, where each day of the week features another heroine and hero finding their way to each other and a well deserved HEA. What I’ve noticed as the series progresses is that each book in turn has been more romantic suspense than straight up romance. And now with this latest book, SEDUCED BY SUNDAY, what I’d feared would happen has occurred – the actual romance has been downgraded to just another facet of a complicated suspense plot that ends up taking over all but the beginning and ending of the entire book.

SEDUCED BY SUNDAY starts out well enough as we get to know Meg Rosenthal, one of the highly skilled matchmakers working for Alliance, the company started by the heroine of WIFE BY WEDNESDAY. Alliance has successfully matched up several couples who need to be married for reasons other than love, but as we’ve seen in the previous books, sometimes those alliances turn into love, and sometimes they lead its participants to love matches within the circle of those who initially brought them together. In this story, Meg is taking Michael, the closeted gay actor we met two books earlier, to a resort island run by Valentine Masini in the hopes that this resort will work well as a private honeymoon destination for future Alliance clients. But as Meg and Valentine try not to succumb to their shared sexual attraction, their promised privacy is violated by someone with much bigger plans than mere blackmail. By the end of this story, there will be terrible betrayals and more than a few dead bodies, but the promised HEA for Meg and Val will not be denied.

What made SEDUCED BY SUNDAY a less enjoyable read for me wasn’t just how the suspense plot became the focus of the story instead of Meg and Val’s budding romance. It was how that plot went from mysterious photographs hinting at blackmail to a sudden and lengthy trip to Italy while another secondary character was kidnapped and abused, culminating with the heroine saving herself in a way that I could not believe one bit. Then when the romance was finally taken up again near the end, I was supposed to believe that the heroine really didn’t know the hero loved her because she didn’t know the Italian translation of “I love you.” I might have been able to swallow one unbelievable ending, but both were just too much for me. And even though I will always love WIFE BY WEDNESDAY, it’s clear that the series has transformed into a subgenre where I don’t care to follow, so SEDUCED BY SUNDAY will be my last Weekday Brides book.

three-stars

Review: The Billionaire’s Ink Mistress by Joely Sue Burkhart

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  The Billionaire’s Ink Mistress by Joely Sue BurkhartThe Billionaire's Ink Mistress by Joely Sue Burkhart
Series: Billionaires in Bondage #2
Published by Samhain on April 7 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Erotica, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 216
Format: eARC
four-half-stars
His desire for her pierces deeper than skin.

Billionaires in Bondage, Book 2

The Lawyer

Jackson Montgomery Warring never lets opposing counsel see him sweat. Juggling a dozen billionaire clients on a daily basis, he’s always perfectly prepared, calm, cool and collected. Until he meets his best friend’s fiancée, the luscious Mistress L.

Now he wants a Mistress for himself. Badly. Except the one who’s caught his eye is his complete opposite—a Goth-booted, tatted and pierced priestess of the local tattoo scene.

The Inker

For over a year, Diana Temple has been too busy at her up-and-coming tattoo shop to throw one of her legendary BDSM parties. But for Jackson, she’ll make the time, especially since the slick, fancy lawyer admits he likes to watch.

The Secret

If she thought her edgy style might turn him off, she’s happy to discover she’s wrong. But when she learns his secret addiction, she might refuse to teach him a thing or two about submission.

Or maybe she’ll just punish him harder…

Warning: A rich, successful attorney in a downward spiral, a tattoo artist who happens to be a Mistress, a secret addiction and a peek at exhibitionism/voyeurism.

One of the best books I read in 2014 was THE BILLIONAIRE SUBMISSIVE, the first book in a new series from Joely Sue Burkhart, who continues to be one of my favorite erotic romance writers. So of course I was excited about this second book, THE BILLIONAIRE’S INK MISTRESS, and I’m happy to report that it was nearly as good a read as the previous one.

Jackson Warring is an overworked overachieving lawyer who presents a perfect facade to the world even as his actual life is falling apart. Yet he has no idea what he can do to stop his downward spiral…not until one fateful day when he has to visit his best friend Donovan Morgan on business and discovers the new relationship that has made that man happier than he’s ever seen. That’s when Jackson realizes exactly what he needs, and begs Donovan’s Mistress L for help. Lilly’s friend Diana seems like the perfect match for Jackson even though they come from completely different worlds. But as Diana and Jackson begin to learn each other’s secrets, their happy ending is far from certain, and anything less might be too much to bear.

The best part of THE BILLIONAIRE’S INK MISTRESS was how it avoided the more obvious ways the plot could play out for something less expected, yet more realistic. Of course there were class-based conflicts between Diana’s world and Jackson’s, and the way they each rose to every occasion proved that their love wasn’t based solely on their powerful sexual attraction. Even after the reasons why Jackson had pushed himself to his physical and emotional limit before meeting Diana seemed to be resolved, there had to be one last big threat which only Jackson could resolve himself, leaving Diana to wait and hope he would find his way back to her for good. But none of it the way I might have expected, and that’s what made this great book even better for me. With the Billionaires in Bondage books, Joely Sue Burkhart continues to subvert popular romance tropes and that’s what makes this a must-read series for me.

four-half-stars

Review: The Duke of Andelot by Delilah Marvelle

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  The Duke of Andelot by Delilah MarvelleThe Duke of Andelot on April 10 2015
Pages: 314
Format: eARC
Goodreads
four-half-stars
For fans of The Scarlet Pimpernel and Tom Jones comes a twisted, sexy tale that takes the French Revolution to smoldering new heights.

Long before becoming the flamboyant courtesan known to men as Madame de Maitenon, Thérèse Angelique Bouchard, dreamed of becoming an actress capable of commanding not only the stage but all of Paris. Until she meets an extraordinary aristocratic gentleman who sweeps her into his arms and the danger of his life, while offering her the sort of wealth she never imagined. What starts off as a seductive alliance, ends in her giving him the one thing she, as a mere bourgeoisie, cannot afford to give: her love.

After the murder of his older brothers, Gérard Antoine Tolbert, becomes the last heir to the powerful dukedom of Andelot, leaving him to fight for not only his life, but the allegiance he holds for the crown. During the final rise of the French Revolution that whispers of the violent change about to shake the entire country, Gérard meets an aspiring actress who entices him into wanting more out of not only himself but life. In trying to protect her from their overly passionate alliance and those that want him dead, he must decide what matters most: his life or his heart.

WARNING: This book contains strong language and sexual content that may cause respectable people to swoon.

THE DUKE OF ANDELOT is the triumphant conclusion to Delilah Marvelle’s excellent School of Gallantry series, but like the other books before it, it can easily be read as a standalone, even if you don’t know who everyone is in the lovely epilogue. I myself came into this series with book 4, NIGHT OF PLEASURE, and since then have enjoyed going back and discovering the stories running concurrently with all the others.

As the final book of the series, THE DUKE OF ANDELOT is somewhat different from the rest in that the bulk of its story takes place decades earlier. In it we learn how the notorious Madame de Maintenon found her own true love, only to lose him, perhaps forever, to the chaos of the French Revolution. Before she was the toast of Paris and London, she was merely Thérèse, the butcher’s daughter, tramping through the countryside on her way to her beloved cousin Remy and his small Paris theater. When a threatening highwayman turns out to be Gérard, a highly placed aristocrat on his way to attempt an improbable rescue of his beloved godfather, Thérèse is attracted to him, but skeptical of his motives. As their journey continues, their love for each other grows as quickly as the danger they both face while the Revolution speeds toward its predestined conclusion.

I’ll admit that when I first started reading, I was disappointed to begin in the past, with only my knowledge that this was Madame de Maintenon’s story to keep me from immediately losing interest. But once Thérèse and Gérard find themselves completely in love with each other, I was thoroughly hooked. And by the time they each must make the decisions they need to stay alive, I was awash in tears which lasted all the way to the short but satisfying epilogue which tied up the whole series in joy. Even the small repetitive parts (for those familiar with the previous books) couldn’t keep me from wallowing with glee in the Happy Ever After for the woman who had brought so many to others before her and the one man worthy of her love. THE DUKE OF ANDELOT is a satisfying historical romance for anyone who loves a happy ending that’s merely delayed, not denied.

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four-half-stars

Review: Say My Name by J. Kenner

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  Say My Name by J. KennerSay My Name by J. Kenner
Published by Random House Publishing Group on April 7th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Goodreads
four-stars
New York Times bestselling author J. Kenner kicks off a smoking hot, emotionally compelling new erotic trilogy that returns to the world of her beloved Stark novels: Release Me, Claim Me, and Complete Me. Say My Name features Jackson Steele, a strong-willed man who goes after what he wants, and Sylvia Brooks, a disciplined woman who's hard to get--and exactly who Jackson needs.   I never let anyone get too close--but he's the only man who's ever made me feel alive.   Meeting Jackson Steele was a shock to my senses. Confident and commanding, he could take charge of any room . . . or any woman. And Jackson wanted me. The mere sight of him took my breath away, and his touch made me break all my rules.     Our bond was immediate, our passion untamed. I wanted to surrender completely to his kiss, but I couldn't risk his knowing the truth about my past. Yet Jackson carried secrets too, and in our desire we found our escape, pushing our boundaries as far as they could go.   Learning to trust is never easy. In my mind, I knew I should run. But in my heart, I never felt a fire this strong--and it could either save me or scorch me forever.   Say My Name is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences. From the Trade Paperback edition.

In SAY MY NAME, J. Kenner returns to the world she established in her original Damien Stark erotic romance trilogy, only this time the heroine is Stark’s most trusted employee and her hero is the one man she’s loved enough to push away for his own good. When the only way Sylvia Brooks can save her first solo Stark International project is by begging Jackson Steele for help, that rescue could cost her own sanity. But as the two star-crossed lovers slowly learn to love and trust again, they soon find what’s at stake might be their own lives.

Although I quite enjoyed the original Stark trilogy, I’ll admit this new book started a bit slowly for me. I’ve never been a big fan of trying to guess what the initial relationship was between the hero and heroine, or what broke them apart so brutally that she fears his harsh reaction as he initially tries to reject her. So the story was a bit frustrating for me until the flashbacks were over and we were completely in the present. But from that point on, I was completely enthralled, even already knowing how Kenner structures these trilogies so that the first two books end on a tentative Happy For Now, saving the Happy Ever After for the final story.

Both Jackson and Sylvia have endured terrible childhoods which are still influencing their present lives more than even they could have predicted. They can’t stay apart any longer and yet everything seems to be conspiring to split them up anyway. And hovering over it all is the outsized influence of Damien Stark himself, to the point that Sylvia may soon have to choose between the man she loves and the man who has earned her complete loyalty. It’s a heady mix of love and intrigue, and Kenner continues to deliver a knockout experience that made me long for the next book even as I was more than satisfied with this story’s ending. To say more would give too much away, and I encourage everyone who loved the original Stark trilogy to read SAY MY NAME to find out what’s there for themselves.

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four-stars