Tag Archives: Made Me Laugh

Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld

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.
Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis SittenfeldEligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Series: The Austen Project #4
Published by Random House Publishing Group on April 19th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Women, Family Life, Fiction, Literary
Pages: 512
Format: eARC
Goodreads
four-half-stars
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, Eligible tackles gender, class, courtship, and family as Curtis Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today. This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray. Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches. Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.Praise for Eligible“Even the most ardent Austenite will soon find herself seduced.”—O: The Oprah Magazine “Blissful . . . Sittenfeld modernizes the classic in such a stylish, witty way you’d guess even Jane Austen would be pleased.”—People (book of the week) “[A] sparkling, fresh contemporary retelling.”—Entertainment Weekly“[Sittenfeld] is the ideal modern-day reinterpreter. Her special skill lies not just in her clear, clean writing, but in her general amusement about the world, her arch, pithy, dropped-mike observations about behavior, character and motivation. She can spot hypocrisy, cant, self-contradiction and absurdity ten miles away. She’s the one you want to leave the party with, so she can explain what really happened. . . . Not since Clueless, which transported Emma to Beverly Hills, has Austen been so delightedly interpreted. . . . Sittenfeld writes so well—her sentences are so good and her story so satisfying. . . . As a reader, let me just say: Three cheers for Curtis Sittenfeld and her astute, sharp and ebullient anthropological interest in the human condition.”—Sarah Lyall, The New York Times Book Review “A clever, uproarious evolution of Austen’s story.”—The Denver Post “If there exists a more perfect pairing than Curtis Sittenfeld and Jane Austen, we dare you to find it. . . . Sittenfeld makes an already irresistible story even more beguiling and charming.”—Elle“A playful, wickedly smart retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.”—BuzzFeed “Sittenfeld is an obvious choice to re-create Jane Austen’s comedy of manners. [She] is a master at dissecting social norms to reveal the truths of human nature underneath.”—The Millions“A hugely entertaining and surprisingly unpredictable book, bursting with wit and charm.”—The Irish Times “An unputdownable retelling of the beloved classic.”—PopSugarFrom the Hardcover edition.

Now that the latest incarnation of The Bachelor/ette is back on the air, with its fictional behind-the-scenes counterpart UnREAL soon to follow, it’s seems fitting to be reviewing “Eligible” — a re-imagining of “Pride and Prejudice” that deftly incorporates elements from that classic as well as the aforementioned TV shows without being unduly beholden to any of its nominal source material. I’ll admit that I’m a big fan of Curtis Sittenfeld’s previous work, so I was confident that if anybody could pull off an updated story of Lizzie and Darcy, it would be her. And ultimately what she has produced here is a delightful and multi-layered story that can stand on its own without the P&P underpinnings.

“Eligible”, much like the Austen original, is a skillfully plotted story about a woman who stumbles on an unexpected love while trying to save her feckless family from themselves. The author’s decision to use a fictional dating show as the book’s primary catalyst may put some potential readers off, but I found it to be the perfect counterpart to the ongoing chaos of the Bennet family as a whole and Liz’s life in particular. In the absence of a tiny English town where everyone knows all the local gossip, it takes a tv dating show to alert Mrs. Bennet to the suitability of a visiting Chip Bingley for whichever of her single daughters she can manage to throw at him. And then as the Bennet family’s spiral into impending disaster gathers speed, it’s the TV dating show that helps keep the other characters moving through their predetermined paces as we watch Liz and Darcy meet, hate, and eventually fall in love.

Most of Romancelandia adopted the original Pride and Prejudice story as a romance long ago so it’s fair to ask if “Eligible” passes the same test. Well, yes. Liz’s relationship with Darcy, while perhaps not quite what Austen could have envisioned, is at the heart of “Eligible” from the moment they meet. and their lovely HEA had me wiping away happy tears by the end of the book. Together they are the relatively calm eye of the story’s hurricane as all other characters wreak their own sort of havoc all around, with the TV dating show always ready to prod everyone into action at any moment.

Those readers looking for cracks in the “P&P fanfic” aspect of the story should be fairly content with how the major characters are present and accounted for here. I was especially pleased with how the author chose to represent the villainous Wickham but won’t elaborate here in case you’d like to be surprised as well. The only slight issue I have in this regard was the plot line, if you could call it that, featuring Kathy de Bourgh as an elusive Gloria Steinem stand-in. Liz seems to spend half of the story trying to schedule an interview with the famous feminist, yet when they finally do meet, the Darcy tie-in expected by my inner P&P fan never really materialized. Still, it’s a minor quibble, and only confirms to me that while “Eligible” works well within Jane Austen’s original outline, it can and should be appreciated as an original creation in its own right.

four-half-stars

Desire Actually by Jennifer Skully

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.
Desire Actually by Jennifer SkullyDesire Actually by Jennifer Skully
Series: After Office Hours #1
Also in this series: A Love Affair to Remember
Also by this author: A Love Affair to Remember
Published by Self-Published on 2/11/2016
Genres: Hot Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Goodreads
five-stars
What does a red-blooded, All-American male do when his wife asks for a divorce—by email, no less—claiming he's too vanilla in the bedroom?

He gets a sexy tutor for after-office-hours sessions, of course.

Enter Jordana Davis, a work colleague who offers to share the mysterious secrets of what women really want—Desire, Actually. Grady Masterson is more than willing to listen to every seductive suggestion.

He aces sexting and phone sex as the sparks start to fly between them. Then Jordana imagines that Grady could be the one she hadn't been looking for. If only he wasn't taking lessons from her to win back his wife.

How far would you go to win the one you love?

“Desire Actually”, Book 1 of the After Office Hours series, is a sexy, contemporary romance of approximately 65,000 words.

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

If you follow me here or on Twitter, you should already know that Jasmine Haynes is one of my very favorite erotic romance writers. What you may not know is that she also writes slightly less explicit but still wonderfully steamy romances under the name Jennifer Skully. I’d already been meaning to check out her books under that name, so when the opportunity came along to review the first book in her new After Office Hours series, I was all over it.

“Desire Actually” gets its name indirectly from the movie “Love Actually” but even if you’re not a fan of that particular movie (I’m not) you shouldn’t let that keep you from reading this wonderful story of how its hero’s lessons in desire also taught its heroine the power of true love.

Grady Masterson is an honorable man both in business and his personal life. Yet he never realized how his business had overtaken his life until his wife asked for a divorce via email. Now that he’s decided to fight for his marriage where it went bad – in the bedroom – he needs someone like Jordana Davis to teach him about the power of sexual desire.At first it seems lucky for Grady that desire all Jordana wants about after a life filled with disappointment in love from everyone she’s ever counted on. But when explosive desire threatens to upend their lives in and out of the bedroom, it’s love that saves them both from settling for anything less.

Knowing that a Jennifer Skully book would be less sexually explicit had me cautious at first with “Desire Actually” but my concerns quickly evaporated by Grady’s first lesson in desire with Jordana. Together they are the perfect blend of hot and sweet as we see Grady not only learn why his marriage failed, but eventually why it was never going to work in the first place, and why someone like Jordana should be his future instead of trying to fix the past. As for Jordana, we get to revel in her stories of past desire without judgment as both she and we discover why Grady is the one guy who can teach her how to trust in love again.

As with her Jasmine Haynes stories, Jennifer Skully is quite adept at writing a hot secret office romance, providing all the background characters we need to provide the underlying sense of danger at the possibility of discovery. And as a romance reader who does not want to read about cheating characters, I especially appreciated how it was made clear that Grady has been and continues to be physically faithful to his wife for as long as a potential reconciliation exists. Some readers might not care about such niceties but I do, and that helped make “Desire Actually” an even better read for me than I had anticipated. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

five-stars

Review: Mistress of Pleasure 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:  Mistress of Pleasure by Delilah MarvelleMistress of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle
Series: School of Gallantry #1
Published by Self-Published on July 1, 2015
Genres: Erotic Romance, Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Goodreads
four-stars
Granddaughter of a renowned courtesan, Maybelle Maitenon has no interest in her grandmother's school in London where gentlemen receive instruction--in the art of seduction. Her only desire in life is to remain independent and free from men and their overbearing expectations. But when Maybelle lays eyes on the Duke of Rutherford, who is well-known for his gentlemanly ways, she can't resist. Neither she or the duke are prepared for what their attraction is about to do not only to their sanity but their hearts.

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

This quirky, sexy and scandalous Regency/Victorian Historical Romance is part of a series but can be read as a stand alone.

As a romance reader and reviewer, I’m always interested to see what happens with books I’ve read and loved before that are later reissued with extensive changes and plot expansions. MISTRESS OF PLEASURE was originally released in 2008 as the introduction to the School of Gallantry series, featuring 5 English lords needing lessons in love from a retired French courtesan. Now that rights to this book have reverted to the author, it’s back in a longer and even more entertaining version that better connects the book to those which followed it.

Maybelle’s never been accepted by the ton because of her beloved grandmother’s previous profession, and would rather spend her life exploring rocks and dirt in Egypt than risk her heart on any man. But when a moment of passion threatens to derail all her plans, only her grandmother can help her find the way to a love Maybelle never dreamed could exist.

Much like Maybelle, Edmund has sworn never to let love ruin his life, especially with his father as the worst possible example. But Edmund and Maybelle are better matched than either suspects, each chasing and fleeing each other in turn before the students at the School of Gallantry take matters into their own hands to get them together for good.

Although I had enjoyed the original version of MISTRESS OF PLEASURE, I found this new expanded and updated incarnation even more entertaining. We get more explicit connections to the series as a whole, most notably with regard to the final book which was released earlier this year. Indeed, there is so much more material here related to that story that I was glad I’d already read it, as I might have felt somewhat spoiled at seeing parts of it here first.

My favorite expanded scenes involved Edmund and his mother, and the additional insight we got into why the actions of Edmund’s father had been so devastating. If Maybelle hadn’t instigated their first unorthodox meeting, both she and Edmund would have ended up alone and unhappy, and that helped me be patient with their assorted antics as they finally figured out they belonged together.

The School of Gallantry is one of my favorite historical romance series and appears to be getting even better now with this first reissued book. Even if you’ve read MISTRESS OF PLEASURE before, you should definitely read it again. I’m glad I did, and I can’t wait to see what Delilah Marvelle does with the other older books in the series.

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

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: Vanilla by Megan Hart

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:  Vanilla by Megan HartVanilla by Megan Hart
Published by MIRA on February 24th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 352
Goodreads
five-stars
It's an acquired taste…he just has to acquire it Elise knows what she wants in the bedroom, and she makes sure she gets it. Her thirst for domination has long been quenched by a stable of men only too happy to bow down before her. But sexual satisfaction isn't the same as love, and she's been burned in the past by giving her heart too freely. Niall is handsome, smart, successful and sweet—sweet as vanilla. When they meet, their romantic connection is electric, even though he's way on the opposite end of the kink spectrum. Despite how she fights it, Elise falls for him—but how can a relationship work when both lovers want to be on top?  "Hart wields her pen like a scalpel…in this soul-searching, emotionally sensitive story. Strong characterization and smooth, yet forceful, writing captures your attention and holds you hostage."  —RT Book Reviews on The Space Between Us

When I pick up a Megan Hart erotic romance, I know I’m going to get my heart broken, and all that’s left to discover is how, and whether or not she’ll put it back together again by the end of the book. What I got with VANILLA was heaping helpings of everything I love about her books, with a heroine not quite like any other she’s written and a hero who more than lived up to that definition by how he overcame his own fears and misguided notions to be the man most worthy of the heroine’s love.

Elise knows who she is and what she needs in the bedroom, and she’s not going to give that up for any man, not even one who might be her best shot at true love. After all, the last time she let love overrule her best judgment is still an open wound on her heart, and the last thing she needs is another one.

Niall wasn’t expecting to fall for his friend’s older sister, let alone have her push him into a sexual role he’d never ever thought about, let alone considered as something he could enjoy. But Elise is different and special and that one woman who just might be able to show him another way of making love, and in the process, find the self he didn’t know he’d had.

Any preconceived notions of how a Megan Hart book will go and what you’ll get by the end should always be thrown out, as anyone familiar with her books should already know. When we first meet Elise, I made assumptions about her based on the way she still couldn’t let go of the man who had hurt her even though he’d let go long before. Yet as her on again, off again romance with Niall progresses, I could see that the strength she shows in the face of his initial derision and resistance was a direct result from her previous emotional damage, and how it was Niall who needed to decide if what she offered was what he could take without losing what he’d always thought was his sexual identity. I was so proud of them both for working through the conflicts that threatened to separate them even though they loved each other so much, and how their happy ending was about more than just love and acceptance of the other person, but also of themselves. VANILLA was a perfect Megan Hart story for me and I’m so glad I was able to read it.

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five-stars

Review: Nothing Between Us by Roni Loren

Nothing Between Us (Loving on the Edge, #6)Nothing Between Us by Roni Loren

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

I’ve been a big fan of Roni Loren’s Loving On The Edge series since CRASH INTO YOU, but as the books moved farther afield from the core characters at The Ranch, I was concerned that the distance might have a negative effect on the series. I’m relieved to confirm that this latest book, NOTHING BETWEEN US, proved to me that I needn’t worry, and that the same details which made all the previous books great reads are still fully present here in book 6.

The last time we saw Colby Wilkes was in NEED YOU TONIGHT, when he was the third in a special one night threesome with Kade and Tessa as they found their way back to each other after years apart. But we never really knew much about him other than he performed as a local bar singer and as a house Dom at The Ranch, the BDSM resort which serves as the focal point for this erotic romance series. After a traumatic experience as a high school teacher when he was blamed for a troubled student’s disappearance, Colby vowed to be more prepared in the future and is now a fully trained therapist at a different school miles away. When he discovers his new neighbor lady is a voyeur enjoying his sexual activities through her bedroom window, Colby is intrigued but willing to wait until she makes the first move. But when Colby’s past comes crashing back into his life, he’ll need all his training as both a Dominant and therapist to handle what comes next as the frightened woman next door becomes an essential part of the relationship he’d never dreamed he’d have.

Georgia Delaune used to have it all – a great career as a mystery writer, loving family and friends, and a man who gave her all the attention any woman would want. But it was the man who was the snake in her garden, causing her great sorrow as he worked to isolate her from everyone else by any and all means necessary. After the tragic death of her beloved sister, Georgia has fled from Chicago to this quiet Texas town in the hopes of laying low until her ex-boyfriend goes on trial for murder. The terror she feels any time she hears a strange noise or attempts to leave her house is real, yet she can’t resist watching her sexy neighbor Colby Wilkes with binoculars through her bedroom window at night. As events draw her out of her house and towards his, Georgia will find the strength to face her future with the support of not just one, but two amazing men to help bring the happiness she never thought she’d have again.

What I loved the most about NOTHING BETWEEN US was what has made Roni Loren’s Loving On The Edge series a must-read for me. It has a deliciously Dominant hero who knows what he wants but would never abuse a woman to get it, a heroine who works through her past issues while embracing this new relationship opportunity for as long as it lasts, and in this particular instance, an additional hero who realizes his own worth even as the other two discover he is the missing third they need to complete their happiness. The way the three became one was steady and convincing, with several steps back and forward as each learned to trust the other. And the individual dangers hanging over both Georgia and Colby were resolved in due time without taking focus away from the romance between all three main characters on the way to a lovely happy ending. It’s another worthy addition to Roni Loren’s series and gives me confidence that the next books in turn will be just as good.

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Review: Master of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

Master of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #5)Master of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

In MASTER OF PLEASURE, the fifth book in Delilah Marvelle’s entertaining School of Gallantry historical romance series, we meet yet another student in dire need of Madame de Maitenon’s special sort of tutoring in order to be worthy of the woman he loves.
Its hero was featured briefly in NIGHT OF PLEASURE and I enjoyed getting to know more about him and seeing him find happiness with the woman of his dreams.

Malcolm, Earl of Brayton, has lived his whole life suppressing the desires that would otherwise destroy him. Instead he’s devoted all his passion and energy to serving the man who’d rescued him from certain destruction years earlier. But when Malcolm stumbles upon an impoverished lady in distress who appears sympathetic to his needs, his resistance ultimately gives way to what he must do in order to win her love forever.

Leona Webster wasn’t the first woman betrayed by a faithless fiance and unloving aunt, but she was determined to provide a better life for her fatherless son than the one she’d had so far. If only she had the means to match her intent. When Malcolm saves her from those sent by creditors to take all her possessions, he’s not alone in experiencing sudden long-repressed feelings of attraction. But can she give him what he truly needs from her, or must she just settle for his temporary protection until he sails away for good?

There is a fair amount of story overlap between MASTER OF PLEASURE and the previous book in the series, but not so much that it would affect the enjoyment by a reader new to the School of Gallantry. I appreciated seeing how Malcolm’s need to protect women from what he deemed his innate defect was ultimately his saving grace once Madame de Maitenon convinced him she could teach him how to safely satisfy his desires. Leona is a perfect match for him, and they fit together well as she more than rises to the challenge of loving such a man as he. There is frank discussion of sexual masochism, and those sensitive to such a topic may take issue with MASTER OF PLEASURE. But I found that the author handled Malcolm’s needs and Leona’s expectations with straightforward sensitivity throughout, and I recommend MASTER OF PLEASURE to anyone looking for a lusty and loving historical romance.

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Review: The King by Tiffany Reisz

The King (The Original Sinners: White Years, #2)The King by Tiffany Reisz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Second in the White Years books but sixth in the overall Original Sinners series, THE KING finally gives readers the story of how Kingsley Edge founded the 8th Circle, New York’s most exclusive and notorious BDSM club, and fills in more of the gaps only hinted at in previous books. Although no book in this series can technically be called a romance, this particular entry is the least romantic of the lot, reading more as a classic mystery, complete with red herrings, McGuffins, and more than a few double crosses. But that still didn’t mean anything less than a tip-top read, as I raced through its pages trying to guess just how everything would play out on the way to the ending I thought I already knew.

THE KING also advances the story of Kingsley and Søren’s relationship that began in THE PRINCE, showing how Nora would fit perfectly between them if Kingsley could learn not to resent her place in Søren’s heart. And when combined with the ongoing White Years’ conceit of framing each story of the past with a continuation of the characters’ present-day lives, the result is a essential volume for any fans of the Original Sinners series. Just make sure you’ve read all the previous books first, so as not to spoil the secrets revealed within.

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Review: Breach of Contract by J.R. Gray

Breach Of Contract (Bound #2)Breach Of Contract by J.R. Gray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

This review may contain spoilers for LEGALLY BOUND, the first book in J.R. Gray’s Bound series. You could try to read BREACH OF CONTRACT as a standalone, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

BREACH OF CONTRACT continues the story begun in LEGALLY BOUND, a book I thoroughly enjoyed earlier this year after following the author on Twitter. (Full disclosure: I follow a ridiculous amount of romance and erotica writers on Twitter and they sometimes follow me back, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy or even accept every book they might have available for review.) LEGALLY BOUND introduced its readers to an underground BDSM community in contemporary Chicago populated by high-ranking politicians, law enforcement officials, and other prominent citizens concerned about their private kink becoming public fodder. As sole owner of the exclusive club where only the finest kinksters come out to play, George Siris is the unofficial ruler of this small but highly influential world. But even as he enjoys all the superficial benefits of such a position, his heart remains locked away, his true desire for any other person suppressed for as long as anyone can remember.

When Daniel Caplin found himself emotionally involved with Rafael Argon, the client he was defending against a police vendetta in LEGALLY BOUND, it was Daniel’s wisecracking legal partner Jesse Goldmen who was the voice of reason even though his own personal life was an even bigger mess. Now that Daniel and Rafael are in love and living together as a D/s couple in BREACH OF CONTRACT, Jesse finds himself jealous of what the two men have together. He’d thought himself immune to such feelings after years spent in a loveless marriage, yet when George offers a chance for him to escape, it isn’t only Jesse who’ll discover love in the unlikeliest of places. But when the vulnerable clientele of George’s club are suddenly threatened by a blackmailer bent on destruction, no one will be safe from what might happen next.

“You will learn to use that mouth of yours for good as well as evil.”

As much as I loved the unconventional romance between Daniel and Rafael in LEGALLY BOUND, I was even more enthralled by the thrilling emotional dance between George and Jesse in BREACH OF CONTRACT. The previous book had only teased at what might happen between them and it was that promise that made me so impatient to read their story. Here we eventually see that what the sarcastic joker and self-possessed Master have in common is a rejection of love purely as as an act of self-preservation, and that the trust required from them both still might not be enough to win their own happy ending together. For as Jesse slowly leaves his comfort zone to pursue what will either be the best or worst decision of his life, George must also contend with someone trying to destroy his club and the people he cares about the most. This added suspense provides the story’s overall driving element without overwhelming its romantic aspects or dulling the intensity of the various interactions between its primary characters. And even as a self-professed lover of epilogues, I can assure readers that the one here is both compelling and essential.

From its riveting start to its slam-bang finish, BREACH OF CONTRACT more than fulfills the promise of LEGALLY BOUND and has me just as greedy for the next story as I was for this one. If you’re looking for erotic M/M romance with strong suspense elements in a BDSM setting, I highly recommend both books in this intriguing series.

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