Tag Archives: Self-Pub

A Love Affair to Remember 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.
A Love Affair to Remember by Jennifer SkullyA Love Affair to Remember by Jennifer Skully
Series: After Office Hours #2
Also in this series: Desire Actually
Also by this author: Desire Actually
on October 12, 2016
Genres: Romance
Format: eARC
Goodreads
four-half-stars
What if one night ruined your whole life?

In one sizzling night of forbidden passion, Gloria King set fire to her comfortable life and watched it be consumed in the conflagration. The man who lit the match—Parker Hunt.

And now Parker is back.

More than five years have passed since Parker has seen Gloria, but the passion between them is undeniable. And he’ll do anything to have a new chance to get it right, if only he can convince Gloria to trust her heart.

Gloria has pieced her life back together after their forbidden night. But Parker is still the only man in the world with whom Gloria can never look for happiness, no matter how badly she might want it. If only she could resist his magnetism, forget the delicious taste of his kiss and the sweetness of his caress…

Can a single night of passion born in shame become a lifetime of love?

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

Hooray, it’s the next book in Jennifer Skully’s new After Office Hours hot contemporary romance series! Regular readers of this blog may recall that the first book in this series – Desire Actually – was one of my favorite reads this year. This new book – A Love Affair to Remember – picks up not long after the previous one, telling the story of how two people get a rare second chance to be together after making a terrible mistake five years earlier.

We met Gloria King in Desire Actually, when she helped that story’s heroine get a promotion and office she deserved, earning the enmity of the company’s HR VP in the process. Five years earlier, Gloria had succumbed to a single night’s temptation with an attractive co-worker, and has been paying the price ever since. She quit her job and confessed to her unforgiving husband, taking all the blame for the wreckage of her marriage. Now divorced and living far away from where it had all gone wrong, she’s living a life deprived of love when the man she couldn’t resist and never forgot waltzes back into her life.

Parker Hunt was in a struggling marriage when he and Gloria enjoyed a single night of mutual pleasure while traveling for work. Unlike Gloria, he kept quiet about their tryst but still ended up divorced when his wife announced she was leaving him for another man. Parker knew he’d deserved what happened but hoped one day to reclaim the woman who still haunted his dreams. Now that he’s found Gloria, he’s going to make sure they finally get the happy ending they couldn’t have before.

One of the reasons I love reading this author is because her characters are frequently those who don’t often get their own HEA in current romance, namely people over forty. Gloria is in her late forties and Parker is slightly younger, but their age really only comes up in the context of having children, and after the end of her marriage, Gloria has already resigned herself to remaining childless. This author also handles the touchy topic of infidelity quite well here, which is remarkable considering both the main characters cheated on their respective spouses with each other years before the events of this story take place. For some readers, that would be a deal breaker from the start, but for me they both showed they’d regretted their actions and knew they’d been in the wrong. Indeed, so much of this story is showing how Gloria had punished herself much more severely than anyone that for me to do the same would be unfair.

Meanwhile Rhonda Baker, the HR VP who tried to ruin Jordana’s life, is now gunning for Gloria, and her machinations became increasingly annoying for me, even though she does help provide the impetus for Gloria’s epiphany about her need to stop punishing herself over Parker. It was made clear why Rhonda is seemingly allowed to run roughshod over fellow employees but I hope she’ll have her own day of reckoning in a future book.

Overall, it was great to be back in the offices of Brett Baker’s Silicon Valley startup, and I enjoyed seeing more of how the company’s front office gets their work done, as well as the scenes with Jordana and Grady from Desire Actually enjoying their newly public relationship. With A Love Affair to Remember, Jennifer Skully has upheld the excellence she set at the start and continues to keep me excited about getting to read the next book in the series.

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: 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: 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: First Match by Lynne Silver

First Match (Coded for Love 0)First Match by Lynne Silver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

FIRST MATCH is the latest entry in Lynne Silver’s excellent Coded For Love series, and one I’ve been looking forward to reading. It’s essentially the story of a young man looking for his first real world experience outside the closed-off environment where he was raised, and the young woman ready to show him everything he’s been missing. But as a prequel to the entire series, it also fills in details about a key character in the series who has been a mystery until now.

Peter has never questioned his purpose in life or how he was raised to fulfill it, but as a healthy 20 year old male, he’s also longed for a chance to have some unsupervised fun, and maybe even meet a girl. When he and Allison first meet by chance at a local outdoor concert, her carefree personality is just as attractive to him as her physical appearance. Their immediate sexual connection convinces Peter that they are a genetic match, but how can he ask Allison to give up her whole future just to be with him?

Commander Peter “Shep” Shepard is one of my favorite secondary characters in the Coded for Love series, so it was a real treat for me to read some of his story before he was all grown up and helping to run The Program where all the previous books took place. I loved seeing the tender soul behind the tough guy, and the woman who’d helped him become the man we’d already seen. Peter’s love for Allison was genuine, going well beyond the genetic match that bound them together physically, and hers for him was just as strong and real. We see that each was ready to make every sacrifice to be with the other, and how their love never wavered even in the face of eventual separation. Part of me wishes that FIRST MATCH had been longer, but with Peter and Allison’s romance as the focus of the story, the shorter length made sense and worked well to get us to their ultimate happy ending. It’s a wonderful addition to one of my favorite series, and a joy to read.

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Release Week: First Match by Lynne Silver

I’m pleased to welcome Lynne Silver here today to tell us about First Match, the new prequel novella in her long-running Coded For Love series about genetically enhanced soldiers and the women who love them.


First Match is a prequel in the Coded for Love series. If you haven’t read any of the series, here’s a quick highlight on what is Coded for Love:

Engineered with superior strength, agility and acumen, the genetically enhanced soldiers of the top-secret Program do the dangerous assignments no one else can. Now they’re tasked with one additional job. Breed.

But finding and convincing their perfect DNA match they are the right men for the job may be their most dangerous mission to date. And the hottest. Good thing they’re Coded for Love.

If you haven’t read any of the books in the series you won’t know that Shep, AKA Commander Peter Shepard, is the mysterious hard-ass in charge of all the younger soldiers. He acts as a father figure to many of the soldiers and is also their strategic planner. It’s also very briefly mentioned in Book 1, Heated Match, that Shep was the very first genetically enhanced soldier.

So for the prequel, I thought it would be fun to go back to 1980 and tell Shep’s story of what it was like being the first genetically enhanced soldier who’s never before been allowed off campus (Virgin Hero alert!) and how he meets the girl who eventually becomes his match.

My favorite parts about the novella are that he’s a virgin (I love virgin heroes), it’s set in 1980. (Like, totally radical dude), and there’s sex, drugs and rock & roll!

Here’s a taste of First Match:

Peter leaned in until their faces were inches apart. “I am nothing like the other guys you know. If my life were my own, I’d buy you a house in the suburbs and marry you and make babies. But I don’t have that to offer you, and, trust me, you don’t want what I have to offer.”

“Marriage? Babies? We’ve known each other two days. And I’m going to—”

“New York. I know,” he said almost bitterly. “You’re going to be the next Blondie, and I will not stand in your way.”

“Then what do we have?”

“This,” he said, and leaned in to find her mouth and take her in a deep kiss. As soon as his lips touched hers, all her fear and anger morphed quickly into passion, and she tugged him down to deepen the kiss. Just like at the concert, their passion exploded into an inferno. His large body pushed her willingly back into her mattress, and the comforter crushed up between them as an unwanted barrier.

She couldn’t get enough of his mouth and ached for more. “Get under here,” she ordered and tugged the blanket out from between their bodies. She heard him kicking off his boots and she sat up to yank her extra-large T-shirt over her head. Her panties were next. Peter stood next to the bed, ripping off his clothes silently and quickly.


cover

Allison Macclesfield wants—no, needs—to be a rock star, and what better decade to do it in than the ‘80s? Music is her passion. She’s got her future mapped out. Move to New York, find a job, audition to be lead singer in a band.

Plans don’t include giving it all up for Peter Shepard, the sexiest guy she’s ever met. He’s nothing like the guys she’s known. Peter’s life is full of mystery, and though they believe they’re a perfect match, she can have him or her rock star dreams. But not both.

This is a Coded for Love Prequel

C4L_logo_Reverse

Lynne

About the Author:

Romance author, Lynne Silver, writes the popular Coded for Love series and other hot contemporary romance novels, such as Love, Technically. Before writing romance, she wrote fiction of a different sort, drafting press releases for technology corporations. Washington DC is her home (non) state, where she resides with her husband and two sons. She is represented by literary agent, Jessica Alvarez of Bookends LLC.

Buy Link:  Amazon

Stalker Links:
Website
Newsletter
Facebook
Twitter: @LynneSilver

Review by Sharon: Reputable Surrender by Riley Murphy

With this review, I am pleased to introduce Sharon as a new reviewer for The Romance Evangelist. Here’s her bio:

Sharon is a middle aged mom who reads every chance she gets. This has led to near disasters for her devices. Most of these near misses involve moisture due to her love of being in the water. Her favorite genres are historical, erotic, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, suspense, travel and young adult. She’ll try anything once and the weirder things twice. You can soak up more of her insanity on Twitter: @Mojitana.


Reputable Surrender (Trust in Me, #5)

Reputable Surrender by Riley Murphy
Series: Trust In Me #5
Sharon’s rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

REPUTABLE SURRENDER is the final book in the Trust In Me series. You don’t need to read the other books in the series to understand the story.

Michael and Laren unknowingly meet at a BDSM club during a masked event. Michael steps up to disentangle Laren from an aggressive Dom but discovers that she is quite capable of handling things herself. She is feisty and Michael is intrigued. Their brief time together is over quickly as Michael leaves upon discovering her identity. You see, he’s promised a friend that he’d keep his hands off Laren. Since I hadn’t read the previous books I didn’t quite understand what the problem was, but the author did a pretty good job of catching the reader up.

Fast forward to 8 months later and Laren is in command in the boardroom of Michael’s office. She’s still as fiery as ever and Michael just can’t help but want her all over again. Once he gets the okay from his friend, Michael then begins his pursuit of Laren.

Unfortunately for Michael, Laren has a whole host of issues. She’s got a loser brother-in-law who can’t support his family financially. He makes poor investments so she is continually bailing him out because she worries for her sister and nephew. Her ex-boyfriend was an abusive jerk. And, finally, her ex-husband is a vanilla pushover. But Laren is bound and determined to prove herself in her field. She wants to move to the big city and work with her ex-husband at his company.

Enter Michael, the Reputable Dom. I’m not sure what makes him so reputable except that he is financially solvent and follows safe, sane and consensual BDSM rules. But he’s determined to tame Laren, his dragon. He is calm and patient with Laren even when she’s a mess over her family drama. He’s also ready to compromise in his own work life to be with her. But her trust will be hard for Michael to win after all her previous life disappointments.

In the end, those thought of as villains are redeemed and the true offenders are revealed. Through a series of twists and turns these two suffer and grow stronger together. Trust established and the foundation for happiness is laid.

Those who come to this book without reading the other four books in the series may feel a bit left out of the sub plots. And while I enjoyed the book, there were some turns of phrase that took me out of the world the author had crafted.

The relationship between Michael and Laren was steamy and sweet. He is a dominating man who knows that Laren needs someone to share some of her burdens. Michael is more than willing to be that man.

Although Laren was a strong, intelligent business woman, I felt she was portrayed as too much of a doormat in her personal relationships. Her sister and brother-in-law were a particular source of frustration for me as a reader. They were just terrible people. Their redemption at the end didn’t sway my opinion as to their awfulness.

The use of pet names (specifically Honey toast) that Michael used in reference to Laren began to grate on my nerves by the end of the book.

Some parts felt repetitive and uninspired. A few chapters felt over long. A couple scenes didn’t have good flow. A good editor could have solved many of these problems. Overall the book was enjoyable and I would recommend it.

Review: One Sexy Ride by Vivian Arend

One Sexy Ride (Thompson & Sons, #2)One Sexy Ride by Vivian Arend

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

ONE SEXY RIDE is the second story in Vivian Arend’s new Thompson & Sons series, and it’s set in the same world as her previous Rocky Mountain series, but you don’t have to have read any of the previous books to be able to enjoy what’s here.

Janey has spent most of her life up until now pining after Len Thompson, all to no avail. He’s always been around her, being her good friend, but nothing more. What Janey really wants is that one true love to settle down with and raise a family, and she’s been convinced that Len is that guy. But what she’s never known is that even though he does secretly love her, that love is also why he’s continued to keep her at arm’s length. For Len has seen what happens when you lose your one true love, and he’s determined to never let that happen to him. So the last thing Len wants to do is love Janey, because losing her would be so much worse than not ever having her in the first place.

Tired of putting her life on hold for a guy who apparently doesn’t see in her what she sees in him, Janey has made plans to finish renovating her beloved family home, then sell it and leave town for good. Her decision to leave town, combined with a key moment when Len saves Janey from certain danger, makes him think that maybe he can at least have a taste of what he would never dare claim for good. But Janey’s heart is all in, and only time will tell if Len can move past his fear to commit to her before it’s too late.

One of the things I love about Vivian Arend’s books is her heroines and heroes are both strong and sweet. I never doubted for one minute that Len was worthy of Janey’s seemingly unrequited love, yet when he provided tangible proof of that worthiness near the very end of the story, it was all I could do not to melt in a puddle of happy tears at just how right I’d been. Len wants to love Janey – he really does! – but he’s just so terrified of being left without her that he’d rather push her away now than lose her for good later on. When Janey inevitably gets too close for comfort, the way Len tries to hasten her departure is so devastating that it demands an epic hero grovel to make things right. And let me tell you, Len’s grovel is easily one of the best I’ve read in a very long time. It isn’t just about how he shows how sorry he is, although that’s a big part of it. It’s also how he shows that he really does understand her as her own person, and how he’s been in love with her just as long as she’s been in love with him. Janey and Len’s romance is a great read all the way through, but the way they resolved their differences is what elevated ONE SEXY RIDE from merely a wonderful story to one of the best I’ve read in 2014.

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Review: Icing On The Cake by Karla Doyle

Icing on the Cake (Close to Home, #2)Icing on the Cake by Karla Doyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

ICING ON THE CAKE is the second story in Karla Doyle’s Close To Home series, and picks up a few months after the first book, CUP OF SUGAR, where we are now about to see Conn and Nia walk down the aisle. After all the shenanigans Nia’s sister, Sara, had pulled in book one, I was curious to see who could possibly her love match. When Conn’s love ‘em and leave ‘em brother, Curtis, appeared to take an interest in Sara, I knew I would be in for a rollercoaster ride until the very end. What I didn’t expect was how ICING ON THE CAKE would manage to show the hidden sides of both Curtis and Sara, and how she wasn’t the only one who needed that perfectly matched someone to care and understand.

Even though we got a fairly decent explanation of why Sara behaves as she does, and why Nia’s family continues to support her no matter what, it’s in ICING ON THE CAKE that we see exactly what her past actions and present stubbornness have brought her. Nia and her parents still have no idea how Sara really lives, and only by virtue of his desire for her does Curtis manage to wedge his way into her existence and ultimately her heart.

Curtis may be less self-destructive than Sara, but he’s still a badass, and just as resistant to romantic relationships as she is. His police job puts in him danger every day and women are just a off-duty distraction. Any time one of them gets close, it’s all over, and he’s on to the next one. But even Curtis knows that as much as he wants Sara in his bed, he still needs to be especially careful with her heart. If only he was looking after his own as closely.

As much as I loved Nia and Conn’s sweet and passionate romance in CUP OF SUGAR, I was even more taken by the rough and tumble path to love for Sara and Curtis in ICING ON THE CAKE. So much of what keeps them apart is a lack of trust, but you have to give trust to get it, and that’s one thing neither Sara nor Curtis seems to be particular good at. Thank goodness that their mutual sexual attraction is so incredible that it keeps bringing them back together even as they resist acknowledging their deeper feelings for each other. By the time Curtis and Sara stop denying the obvious, each has finally stopped putting on the front they keep for everyone else and the result is a happy ending that is not only satisfying but realistic for both characters. ICING ON THE CAKE is a lovely continuation of the Close To Home series, and I quite enjoyed it.

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