Review: Hot in Hellcat Canyon

Review: Hot in Hellcat CanyonHot in Hellcat Canyon by Julie Anne Long
Series: Hellcat Canyon #1
Published by Avon on May 31st 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384

“Somehow he’d forgotten the sort of pleasure that could be had in making someone happy for no reason at all.

“He frankly couldn’t think of the last time anyone else had tried to make him happy for no reason at all.”

FINAL DECISION:  Full of the emotional complexity, beautiful enthralling descriptions of love and stuggle and pain that readers have come to expect from Julie Anne Long, HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON is Long’s first contemporary.  Thankfully, the answer to the question of whether Long’s style could work in contemporary romance is an enthusiastic yes!

THE STORY:  Britt Langley is a waitress in Hellcat Canyon who has rebuilt her life in the protective womb of the small town.  Then a man walks into the diner where she works and threatens to blow her safe little world apart.  John Tennessee McCord, a small town boy, who grew up to be a Hollywood star, recognizes Hellcat Canyon’s small town atmosphere and finds himself pulled towards something there that he knows he has lost.  With a faltering career and an infamous breakup, J.T. seems to be guided to Hellcat Canyon by his broken down truck.  Two people who want no commitments begin an affair but find that what they find together is not what they expected.

OPINION:  I became a huge fan of Julie Anne Long through her Pennyroyal Green series. I found her books in that series to have a deeply emotional, lyrical quality with characters who are complex, clever and who always managed to capture my attention.  When I read that after her triumphant book THE LEGEND OF LYON REDMOND, Long was turning to contemporary books, I mourned a bit.  You see, I’ve been on this road before with authors who turn away from the very things that I loved about them to attempt a more popular genre.  So it was with not just a little trepidation that I began this book.

I’m happy to report that Long’s style has transferred beautifully to the contemporary genre.

HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON is not a modern version of Pennyroyal Green and yet there are similarities that I loved.  Long has a great ability to construct small towns with souls.  Hellcat Canyon feels like a place I might not have been but could imagine going with characters and relationships that feel classic and yet not stereotypical.  I laughed out loud at the owner of the local “inn” who collects cherub angels the quantity of which begins to drive J.T. crazy.  Yet Long does not leave this woman as a joke.  Her obsession is explained with sympathy which gives complexity to those quirky qualities which we all have.  I have a great fondness for books grounded in a strong sense of place and time. Hellcat Canyon is a place I feel I could visit and the reality of that place gives the book an automatic depth from which to build the relationship between Britt and J.T.

Britt and J.T. are both afraid of commitment. For different reasons, neither wants more than a short term affair when they first meet.  Painful pasts, fears and uncertainties plague both of them.  It becomes obvious, however, that despite their overt intentions, in their hearts, both are starving for love, protection, and acceptance.  The romance between them is beautifully constructed.  It is a story of small everyday moments, peaceful acceptance, and the intense joy of finding someone who cares for and about you.  Towards the end of the book J.T. gives a magnificent exegesis on love that captures for me the beauty of the relationship in this book: “But in real life, it’s the little things.  Maybe it’s peanut butter in the house because she knows you like it…And it’s in the silences.  In how you enjoy everyday things more, like reading, because she’s reading next to you.”

Not that there isn’t drama and angst in this book.  There are ex-girlfriends, and painful pasts and seemingly incompatible presents to be worked through for these two to find a HEA.  But the real essence of the book is the human experience of love and home.

I loved this book and I can’t wait to read about the couple in the next book in the series.  There seems to be some history there that ups the possibility for angst and drama.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Two words: billboard graffiti.  Read the book, you’ll understand.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON is the first book in the Hellcat Canyon series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book in order to provide a review.  I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.


Review: Duke of Sin

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Duke of SinDuke of Sin (Maiden Lane, #10) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #10
Published by Grand Central Publishing on May 31st 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 364

Decadent, Tempting and Oh, So Bad

“I am vengeance.  I am hate.  I am sin personified. Never mistake me for the hero of this tale, for I am not and shall never be. I am the villain.”

FINAL DECISION: Unique, compelling and gorgeously sensual, DUKE OF SIN is a book about the happy ending for a villain.  It asks a lot of readers who might be expecting his redemption in a traditional fashion, but the book allows Val to remain his wicked self while making him someone that readers can root for.

THE STORY: Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is immoral, a rake, and some would say evil to the core.  He is also a blackmailer.  Bridget Crumb is Val’s housekeeper who is seeking the information that Val is using to blackmail illegitimate Bridget’s aristocratic mother.  Val and Bridget begin a game of feints and weaves as each works to outsmart the other.  While Val may never been heroic, Bridget cannot help but be attracted to the emotionally scarred, lonely man.

OPINION: As amazing and unique as Val himself, DUKE OF SIN does the almost impossible job of redeeming a villain without turning him into a nice guy.  Readers who come to this book expecting that we will find that the man who orchestrated the kidnapping and almost forced marriage of a heroine in a prior book will turn out to be misunderstood or pretending or acting under another pretense will be disappointed.  Val is an immoral man who commits murder, blackmail and kidnapping — after he meets and begins to fall for the heroine.

‘His Grace was urbane male sophistication personified — but anyone who therefore dismissed him as harmless was a rank fool. The Duke of Montgomery was as deadly as a coiled adder discovered suddenly at one’s feet.”

Val is fascinating in the same way that a snake is fascinating.  He is dangerous, sneaky and does only what pleases him without any concern for what is right or wrong.  Val’s reasons for developing his peculiar nature are fully revealed here (although readers of SWEETEST SCOUNDREL have been given some knowledge).  Hoyt does an admirable job of explaining Val’s development without excusing it.  Val is not a nice guy even though he does nice things some times.  He is mercurial and damaged.

“I find committing to one side leaves out a world of possibilities.”

Readers of the series know that Val has one person that he cares about — his half sister Eve.  She has sometimes been able to restrain Val’s worst instincts.  As this book opens, however, Eve has found happiness with Asa and that leaves Val somewhat adrift.  Val unrestrained from any moral compass is terrifying indeed.

At this precise moment, Val becomes captivated by his housekeeper who he knows is up to no good.

“She looked at him soberly, and despite her martyr’s eyes, she seemed to make no judgment of him, which, if nothing was refreshing.”

It might have been tempting to match the wicked Val with a sweet innocent, but Hoyt instead given Val a practical, crafty woman who has a strong sense of right and wrong and yet is not judgmental.  Deprived of her legacy because she is the product of her mother’s indiscretions, Bridget has made a good life for herself and is loyal.  Her willingness to place herself in harm for the woman who essentially abandoned her demonstrates her pure nature.  Bridget knows the way of the world and thus she is a good balance for Val rather than being overwhelmed by him.

“Blackmail was a nasty, vile crime and the duke was a nasty, vile man.”

“He couldn’t remember when last he’d had an opponent whose response he couldn’t predict.  It was rather refreshing.”

The relationship between Val and Bridget begins with Val testing and playing with Bridget the way a cat plays with a mouse.  He enjoys the interplay between them because she challenges them.  In fact, although Bridget is Val’s housekeeper, she quickly interacts with Val as an equal.  The two duel with one another and try to outwit the other.

“She’d outmaneuvered him.  And that? That hadn’t happened in a very, very long time.”

They end up engaged in a deeply sensual relationship with one another through their familiarity with one another. Emotionally engaged with one another, their sparring acts as intellectual foreplay for them.  Hoyt goes deep into the emotional lives of these characters as Bridget by inches slowly becomes more to Val then something to play with.  Through their relationship, Bridget becomes the moral compass that Val himself lacks.

“She’d said she loved him. Loved him.  What a strange and wondrous thing.  And how it hurt, this love! What pain it caused, like tiny knives in the veins. He didn’t think he liked it much, but he’d endure it, yes he would, if only she’d return and stab him again.”

Val and Bridget’s relationship is blunt and not sweet in the way that many romances are, but the sometimes violent imagery fits Val’s character.  He is not a man with tenderness and gentleness in him.  And yet, there is something sweet and innocent about his love for Bridget even if it is somewhat twisted as well.

The book is hot but it is always grounded in the emotional connection between the characters.  I am a big fan of the way that Hoyt explores her characters and the highly sensual and lyrical way she writes.  I am a huge fan of the Maiden Lane series.  This book is one of the most complex because of Val’s role in the series.  (Remember he IS the villain). This book kicks off what might be the final trilogy of the series and so several new characters are revealed here.

This book is so good and has so many layers that I read it twice before writing this review because I got sucked into the book the first time and couldn’t even begin to write my normal notes.  Definitely one of the best of a great series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Hoyt always does a great job integrating animals into her novels.  Pets play a pivotal role in this book and Pip is adorable.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  DUKE OF SIN is the tenth book in the Maiden Lane series. The book can be read as a standalone although knowledge about Val is given in the books since DARLING BEAST and there are secrets revealed which impact on the series since the beginning.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: The Wicked Duke

Review: The Wicked DukeThe Wicked Duke (Wicked Trilogy, #3) by Madeline Hunter
Series: Wicked Trilogy #3
Published by Jove on May 31st 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 400

“He was not really a wicked duke.  Well, not with the daughters of country neighbors. Not normally, at least.”

FINAL DECISION: A book about connections with people and the pain and joy they bring, THE WICKED DUKE has a sexy and moody Duke and the woman who brings lht and joy into his life.  Loved it and found it a fitting end to a wonderful series.

THE STORY:  Lancelot Hemingford, Duke of Aylesbury, is suspected of having poisoned his older brother in order to inherit the title.  Forced to give up his hellraising ways in London to “behave” in the country, Lance meets Marianne Radley who breaks through his ennui.  Blackmailed into pursuing the intriguing woman, Lance ends up finding out that pursuing Marianne is not onerous at all.  Marianne believes the wicked man might be responsible for the seduction of her young cousin, but finds herself accepting his proposal of marriage to protect her family but also because she is tempted by this bad man.

OPINION:  The third book in the Wicked Trilogy lives up to the promise of the previous books.  Lance and Marianne dance lightly around one another and find an acceptance and happiness that neither expects as their marriage begins.  I’m a big fan of romances where the couple marries and then has to go deeper into the relationship to find their ultimate happiness.

Lance is moody and feeling constrained and depressed through most of the book.  His dead brother haunts and diminishes his life. The second son who always was considered less than the heir — even if the heir was mean, petty and destructive.  The complexity of the reality is that Lance, even knowing how his brother was, still has some ambivalent feelings toward his brother.  He cannot shake that minimal familial connection until all has been revealed at the end.

The sense of connection with family even when they are wrong, evil, and destructive is explored in intriguing ways in this book.  It is not always easy to cut people out of our lives even when we know that they are destructive and not nice.  Shared history, family ties and even futile hope keeps pulling us towards people who we might “know” are not worth our efforts.

At the same time, as this novel explores, these people can cause tremendous damage.

Lance and Marianne both suffer because of relatives and yet, they are brought together by those same people. Marianne is a perfect complement to Lance.  She is open and caring and loving.  She is willing to sacrifice herself for others and that is what leads her into marriage with Lance.  This is the opposite of Lance, who has shut himself off from others except for his younger brothers.  And that is where both Lance and Marianne have similarities. They both deeply love those close to them and will do everything to protect them.

One thing I have loved in this series is the sibling relationship between the three brothers.  Affection, annoyance, caring and bossiness.  These men demonstrate a relationship that kept me interested in knowing them and their stories.

Marianne brings lightness into Lance’s life.  He clearly teeters on depression but Marianne opens him up.  The sexy flirting — and perhaps the hottest hand kissing scene ever — show Lance to be dangerous to Marianne’s virtue and yet these two end up with the most conventional courtship of any of the wicked brothers. That itself is amusing for a man who proudly proclaims himself wicked.  As they fall deeper into the emotional connection with one another, the two find a satisfaction and joy that they didn’t expect.

The two have hurdles to overcome as they both have secrets to be revealed and the possible murder of Lance’s brother to solve.  Yet, even as the mystery begins to be unraveled, the book never loses sight of the centrality of the connection between Lance and Marianne.

For me, a five star book is one I immediately want to read again.  After completing this book, I can’t wait to start the entire series over again.

The three books of this series are the first I have ever read by Madeline Hunter.  I enjoyed them tremendously and look forward to reading more.

WORTH MENTIONING: I don’t think the blurb of this book accurately depicts the plot. I seems to suggest that Marianne marries Lance in order to trap and expose him.  That is not what occurs at all.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE WICKED DUKE is the third book in the Wicked Trilogy.  This book is self contained and can be read as a standalone although the characters from the first two books are important here and also this book resolves the questions regarding the mysterious death of the oldest brother.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE:  I received a copy of this book from the author in order to provide a review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.


Review: Pursued by the Viscount

Review: Pursued by the ViscountPursued by the Viscount by Carole Mortimer
Series: Regency Unlaced #4
on May 27, 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 127

FINAL DECISION:  This was a simple, easy read.  I enjoyed the read, but it wasn’t particularly deep or memorable.  I would classify it as an enjoyable one time read.

THE STORY:  Lady Rachel Shaw is recovering from a bad marriage when she gets in trouble with a blackmailer who has incriminating letters written by her which if revealed could ruin her.  On he recommendation of her friend, Rachel approaches Lucien Brooke, Viscount Brooketon who is known for his ability to deal with sticky situations.  Lucien, at first, has no desire to help a woman who reminds him too much of his flighty, flirty, unfaithful mother but soon recognizes that Rachel’s exterior hides tremendous pain.  Indeed, Lucien realizes that he wants her for himself.

OPINION:  This book is a small story (novella) focusing mostly on the sexual relationship between Rachel and Lucien.  There is instant attraction, a quick sexual relationship and then a quick resolution of the story.  There really isn’t much drama between Rachel and Lucien. What appears to be a significant barrier — Lucien’s impression that Rachel is a flirt and a like his mother — is resolved during their first meeting.

The lack of real drama made this pleasant but not particularly memorable read.  I liked the characters so this was worth the one time read.  I also enjoyed the story because it was part of the series so I knew these characters already.

WORTH MENTIONING: I did not like the story with the blackmailer. I thought the story was stereotypical in its depiction of gays (who end up being the bad guys here).  There was nothing nuanced in the portrayals to soften this stereotypical depiction.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PURSUED BY THE VISCOUNT is the fourth book in the Regency Unlaced Series.  It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.


Review: The Friends We Keep

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Friends We KeepThe Friends We Keep (Mischief Bay, #2) by Susan Mallery
Series: Mischief Bay #2
Published by MIRA on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 402

FINAL DECISION: Not a book for me.  The three story format left me feeling that each story was superficial and I couldn’t truly feel a connection with any of the characters.  This book is women’s fiction or chick lit and focused more on the personal journey of the women characters than on the romance although there are happy endings.

THE STORY: THE FRIENDS WE KEEP are the stories of three women friends experiencing different challenges with children and men.

Gabby Schaefer is a stay at home mom who can’t wait until her twins are ready for Kindergarten so that she can return to work and have time to herself.  When a problem with her stepdaughter causes a crack in her own marriage, Gabby is forced to examine her own desires and expectations.

Hayley Batchelor desperately wants to be a mom.  Multiple miscarriages and expensive futility treatments have put a strain on her marriage as Hayley’s single minded pursuit of a biological child has overtaken everything else in her life.

Nicole Lord is divorced with a young son.  What has shaken her is how little her ex-husband meant to her life. When a new guy comes into the picture, she doesn’t know if she wants to take the chance.

OPINION:  This book was well written, but not the type of book I like to read.

The book focuses on the personal issues of each of the three women and I found each of them shallow, self-absorbed and selfish as the book begins.  They don’t seem to be able to communicate with the men in their lives and selfish go around concerned with their own wants and desires.

As the book went on I saw them change somewhat but because of the shortened nature of stories, I never got attached to any of the characters.  I felt a distance and couldn’t get absorbed in their stories or care about them. The stories all end satisfactory but the entire book felt surface and obvious to me.  I could predict how each of the stories would end and they did not feel complicated at all but rather simplistic.

I liked Nicole’s story the best because it closeness to romance made it feel like a novella. It felt that the only way she could be satisfied was by finding a man without any flaws. Rich, but he really just cares about children and his disabled sister, loves her son, makes no mistakes with her.

Too much of this book was spent with me banging my head on the wall being annoyed with these women. No matter how well written, I don’t want to spend my time with people I wouldn’t like in real life.

WORTH MENTIONING: The beginning of Nicole’s story is told in book one of the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE FRIENDS WE KEEP is the second book in the Mischief Bay series.  This book can be read on its own as I did not read the first book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2 stars.


Review: Lover Unleashed

Review: Lover UnleashedLover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #9) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #9
Published by NAL on March 29th 2011
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 512

FINAL DECISION:  I enjoyed this book because the major stories were all ones I cared about.  The vast majority of the book is one of three stories: Payne and Manny, V, Jane and Butch, and Qhuinn and Blay.  For me, it felt more relationship focused and that pleased me.  I also really liked going deeper into V, Jane and Butch’s relationship.

THE STORY: Payne, the twin sister of V, has spent hundreds of years imprisoned by their mother, the Goddess Scribe Virgin because Payne killed their father.  During a training session with the King, Payne is seriously injured with a broken spine.  V and his mate Jane desperately need the help of the human surgeon, Dr. Manual Manello. And thus, Manny is dragged into the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a world of vampire warriors. The connection between Manny and Payne is intense and immediate, but there cannot be a future between them even if Payne recovers.

OPINION: LOVER UNLEASHED is a typical book in the recent Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  There are multiple stories most of which began in other books and many of which continue past this book. For me, the plus of this book is that the largest chunks of the book are about the twins Payne and Twin and those they love.

The main story, of course, is Payne and Manny.  I liked this story because of Manny himself. Ward does an exceptional job of quickly making Manny a character I want to root for. His brief interaction with the BDB a year ago (although wiped from his memory) has changed him.  Jane’s “death” has left him with a great deal of emptiness in his life.  When he is brought to heal Payne, it really is love at first sight for these two.  Payne’s character remains a little more opaque in the book and I didn’t feel as much connection to her, but I really did like the interaction between these two.

The secondary storyline about V’s spiral out of control after Payne’s injury is the angst filled storyline here. Learning about Payne and then almost losing her has unmoored V from all the progress he has made since meeting Jane.  His reaction threatens his relationship with his mate. I absolutely loved this storyline which I think is the highlight of the book.  I’m a sucker for these situations where a couple delves deeper into their relationship.  Some lingering threads of the series are resolved with V and Butch and I was happy that V and Jane grow even closer as their story resolves.

The minor story with Qhuinn and Blay continues here.  Qhuinn has hit rock bottom and it is time for him to start recreating himself.  Nothing is resolved here but it seems like the story is slowly inching towards these two’s story being resolved. With two others involved in the story, Ward does a good job of keeping everyone likeable and not going for the easy out of making villains out of the characters which serve a function of keeping Qhuinn and Blay apart.

The focus on the internal operations of the Lessers is missing here. Instead, a new group is introduced as foils against the BDB — the Band of Bastards.  It appears that this group of vampires will play an important role in upcoming books.

WORTH MENTIONING: I’ve had a much better reaction to these books now that I space out the reading of them.  I think my brain can only process so much before I get annoyed and frustrated.  Having read the disappointed reviews of this book, I also think I benefit from having some knowledge about where the series is going so that I don’t have unmet expectations.  I honestly don’t think that the world building in these books is consistent anymore.  Things feel less grounded, more fluid and there are well documented conflicts.  I read the books for the characters so giving myself a break between books makes the inconsistencies in the story lines less obvious.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOVER UNLEASHED is the ninth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  At this point, I don’t think there is any way to understand this book without having read the others in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: The Alexandria Affair

Review: The Alexandria AffairThe Alexandria Affair by Ashley Gardner
Series: Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries #11
on May 17, 2016
Genres: Mystery

“In late August, 1818, my wife had me abducted, trussed up, and taken down the Thames to be put on a tall ship bound for Egypt.”

FINAL DECISION: These books just keep getting more amazing.  This book is a blend of a buddy travel book, an adventure story, a mystery and a look into Regency antiquities.  I love Lacey more and more in each book and I can’t wait for the next one!

THE STORY:  Captain Lacey’s wife is determined that Gabriel is going to Egypt with his friend Lucius Grenville.  Gabriel has been wavering because of his wife’s pregnancy.  Trussed up and sent away, Gabriel and Lucius quickly turn to the adventure of exploring the exotic locale.  Unfortunately, Gabriel gets mixed up in a murder and treasure hunting prompted by his crime boss contact Dennis.  There is much danger and the return of Gabriel’s “twin” who has been trying to murder him and those he cares about.

OPINION:  One thing I have always loved about the Captain Lacey Mysteries is the intriguing mix of mystery and romance.  Well, in this book the romance element is lessened — although Lacey never forgets about his beloved wife — but there is a new adventure element to take its place.  The emphasis of this book is the mystery so readers should not be fooled.  Here, I was much more intrigued by the adventure story than the mystery.  I became fascinated by the descriptions of Regency Egypt and the expeditions going on there.  There is some progress on some ongoing stories including Lacey’s mystery stalker.

This has become one of my favorite series because it has so many good characters with twisty stories that I want to follow.  I can’t wait until the next book because I knocked off 1/2 star merely because I love the interaction with Lacey and his wife and I missed that here.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a lot of cool information about Regency Egypt and the discovery of antiquities.  It feels like an adventure book as well as a mystery.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE ALEXANDRIA AFFAIR is the eleventh book in the Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries series.  The mystery in this book is self contained but there are some overarching storylines and relationships.  I think a new reader could read this book without missing much.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: For 100 Days

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: For 100 DaysFor 100 Days (100 Series) (Volume 1) by Lara Adrian
Series: 100 Series #1
on May 24, 2016
Genres: Contemporary

“Would he want me like this if he knew I was at the gallery party by coincidence rather than invitation?  Would he treat me differently if I told him I was a failing artist and struggling bartender? That I had no money and nowhere to go before I’d suddenly gotten the chance to live in his fancy building for a little while?

“What would he think if he knew all of my other secrets? The ugly ones. The dangerous ones. The ones I’ve never let see the light of day.

“He doesn’t know any of that. And he won’t.”

FINAL DECISION: More of a beginning than a whole story, this book introduces the characters of Avery and Nick and begins to give readers the scope of the questions that are still unanswered.  Oh, and there is lots and lots of sex.

THE STORY:  Avery Ross, struggling artist and bartender, needs a break.  She has about had to give up on her dream of being in New York. Just at her lowest point, she gets the opportunity to apartment sit at a ritzy Park Avenue address.  There she runs into Dominic Baine, billionaire and owner of the penthouse apartment. What begins as two strangers with an intense sexual attraction becomes more than Avery expected — or perhaps wants.  She has deep, dark painful secrets that she is keeping and which would tear her and Nick apart.  The thing is — she knows that he is damaged and has secrets as well.

OPINION: There has been a series of these billionaire hero multi-book series recently, most famously Crossfire and Shades of Grey.  Some good some disappointing.  This book is a nice kick off to the series but because there is almost nothing resolved — or fully revealed here — I reserve the right to be mightly annoyed if this series doesn’t have a good resolution.

As is often the case in this billionaire hero books, Nick is mysterious and damaged.  In fact, this book leaves almost his entire story a mystery.  For me, knowing that there is more to come in the series, it worked that Nick’s story is yet to come.  What is revealed here about Nick is pretty nice.  He’s totally into Avery and although he wants her surrender, he wants to care for her.  Of course, the problem will clearly be that while he wants all her secrets, he really has no intention of sharing his own.

Avery has secrets.  One of her secrets is fairly easy to guess if one reads this a particular trope.  It is almost a cliche, although it is well done here.  What I did really like is that the end of the book makes it clear that Avery has other secrets that are not revealed in this book.  Her unwillingness to trust other people, to be willing to allow others to help and care for her are understandable in this book and I actually liked her character.  She isn’t a naive plaything for Nick by any means.

Their relationship is sexy and hot but also gentle and sweet at times.  There is less angst in the relationship between them than I might have expected.  Most of the drama and turmoil is external — except for the fact that Avery has lied about herself to Nick from the beginning and that lie becomes more looming and dangerous as the story goes by.

I enjoyed this book and believe it has the promise of being a really good story — but it will depend upon the other books in the series so I’m reserving judgment.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is only part one of the story between Avery and Nick. Be prepared to commit to all three books to get the full story.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  FOR 100 DAYS is the first book in a trilogy about Avery and Nick.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Possessed by Passion

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Possessed by PassionPossessed by Passion by Brenda Jackson
Published by Harlequin Kimani on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 224

“She was the lone person in the ‘tried and failed’ column.  He intended to remedy that.”

FINAL DECISION: The pleasant and competent shorter length contemporary story, POSSESSED BY PASSION is elevated by the strong relationship between the hero and heroine.

THE STORY:  Tyson Steele and Hunter McKay had a high school almost romance 18 years ago. He only wanted sex and she demanded a relationship.  When he wouldn’t give that to her, she dumped him.  She has always been the only one to get away.  Now almost two decades later, Tyson is a surgeon when Hunter returns to their hometown.  Hunter is trying to rebuild her life and career as an architect after her divorce.  Tyson decides to rectify the lost opportunity from years ago and the ultimately agree to a no commitment fling.

OPINION: This book was a short and fast read.  There is a great sense of irony in the book as the first time Tyson and Hunter tried to have a relationship, Tyson was only interested in sex but Hunter wanted more.  Two decades later, Tyson begins to find himself wanting more while Hunter wants to limit their relationship to sex.

Both Tyson and Hunter are appealing characters who are likeable.  Tyson is a forceful man who plays the field but finds himself unable to turn away from Hunter.  Tyson’s journey is finding that there is a woman who is worth committing to. Hunter’s journey is learning to trust herself and someone else again and believe in love and commitment again.

This is one of those books that I enjoyed reading one time.  I would even be interested in reading the connected books.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a second chance at love story.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  POSSESSED BY PASSION is part of the Steele Family series.  I haven’t read any of the other books in the series but didn’t feel that I needed any other information.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.


Review: The Countess Conspiracy

Review: The Countess ConspiracyThe Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister, #3) by Courtney Milan
Series: Brothers Sinister #3
Published by Courtney Milan on December 16th 2013
Genres: Historical
Pages: 309

Friends to Lovers

THE COUNTESS CONSPIRACY is the third novel in the Brothers Sinister series. It is the story of Sebastian Malheur and Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury. Sebastian and Violet have been friends almost all their lives. They share a secret but also have deep secrets from one another. The shared secret is that the scientific research that Sebastian is known for is actually Violet’s. In an age where women were not accepted for their intellectual gifts, the two created a way for her work to be accepted.

I absolutely loved this book. From the beginning Violet and Sebastian have an incredible relationship that is founded on respect. Sebastian has loved Violet for years and has always cared for her. I don’t think I have read a romance book with such a unique relationship. Both Sebastian and Violet present facades to the world but know one another. As they discover the secrets that they kept for one another, they discover how to make the transition to lovers.

This book was not a lighthearted read. Violet’s secret is heart wrenching and it makes the relationship between Sebastian and Violet complex and serious. I won’t give away her secret here since it is central to the story, but it and the entire storyline demonstrates how oppressed women were in that era. This book makes the point without being preachy or anachronistic.

I love the strong women that Milan creates. Violet is fallible and sometimes weak, but she is intelligent and strong and independent. The complexity of her characters is amazing.

A beautiful book that I immediately wanted to read again.