Top 10 Favorite Books of 2016

What follows are my Top 10 Favorite Books of the year.  My methodology was simple. I looked at the books that came out this year that I read and asked myself “which of these books would I start reading again right now”.  From that I kept comparing and eliminating books until I got to a Top 10.

Choosing my Top 10 Favorite books of the year was very difficult this year.  I had fourteen strong contenders.

The first thing I did was impose a rule that I couldn’t have more than one book by a single author.  That cleared up some choices (I chose DUKE OF PLEASURE over DUKE OF SIN by Elizabeth Hoyt — both great books, but DUKE OF PLEASURE wins out because I adored Alf) but I still had a hard time choosing between ALLEGIANCE OF HONOR and ROCK WEDDING by Nalini Singh and HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON and WILD AT WHISKEY CREEK by Julie Anne Long.

The two books by Nalini Singh have some similar traits. Both are book where the entire cast appears for a summing up and thus there are so many great interactions between characters.  I began reading Nalini Singh through her ROCK series and my favorite book of hers is still ROCK ADDICTION. I ultimately gave the nod to ALLEGIANCE OF HONOR but it was really close.

The two Julie Anne Long books were almost impossible to choose between.  I loved them both and there are so many great moments in both.  I finally gave the nod to HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON only because the wedding speech is one of the best explanations of love I’ve ever read.

Here is my list (Click on the links to see my original reviews of the books).

10. A CHANGE OF HEART by Sonali Dev: Heartbreaking and beautiful. I have a thing for angst and drama and things not being what they seem.  This book isn’t at all what I expected from the blurb.  A man loses his wife and wallows in despair until a woman comes into his life claiming to have received her heart in a transplant.  It is the story of loss, grief and recovery. The story felt so raw and real. I fell in love with the characters and their journey.

9. THE ANGELS’ SHARE by J.R. Ward: Can I admit that I the Bourbon Kings made me like the Black Dagger Brotherhood better?  I had been burnt out and unhappy with that series until I saw how Ward applied the same narrative techniques she uses in the Black Dagger Brotherhood to her contemporary soap opera series about a wealthy family in Kentucky. I love Angels’ Share which is filled with murder, sex, lies, flawed people and lots of drama.

8. SCOT IN THE DARK by Sarah MacLean: Who can resist a Scottish hero? Especially one who is determined to save a woman from her ruin, but she ends up saving him from his own demons.  A book about overcoming shame, surviving and accepting ones past mistakes, this book also has humor and intensity. There are no magic wands here that change the past, only characters that find acceptance in one another.

7. 738 DAYS by Stacey Kade: A girl who was kidnapped meets up with the washed up actor whose poster was on the room where she was held. Two people who have had their lives ripped apart at a young age travel through pain and disappointment. Yes, this book has its share of angst, but there is also charm and humor.

6. RUINED by Jess Michaels: The aristocratic girl is ruined when runs off with a man who turns out to be a criminal but returns to the man who she has wanted but couldn’t have for years who happens to be the family’s horsemaster.  Hot, sexy and full of angst and drama, I just loved the mixed class romances where the man is of the lower class.

5. NO MISTRESS OF MINE by Laura Lee Guhrke: A second chance at love between a man and the woman who was his mistress but threw him over for another man.  Imperfect flawed characters who have to accept their own faults.  I loved the self-made woman who made the best of her chances, did what she needed to do to survive and succeeded in being a good business woman in the end.

4. ALLEGIANCE OF HONOR by Nalini Singh: A book that had the purpose of tying up the fourteen book Psy-Changling series with numerous points of views and characters from all those book seems like an impossible task. In Singh’s hands, however, this book manages to become a celebration of everything I loved about the prior books in the series, a satisfying conclusion to their stories and the lingering questions, and a launching pad for more stories. It is rare that authors write books that are truly for the fans, but this one is one big love letter for them.

3. HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON by Julie Anne Long:  The question whether Long could transfer her emotionally complex, small village stories from historical England to contemporary California was a resounding Hell-cat yes!  A book about a small town waitress and a not so popular actor was enthralling with its depictions of love, pain, struggle and ultimate triumph. No one can express in words the lyrical depiction of love like Long.  The wedding toast given by the hero is so amazing that it alone would have gotten this book on my list, but this book is so much more.

2. THE HUNTER by Kerrigan Byrne: Dark, angst driven but wonderfully redemptive.  The story of an assassin in Victorian England who falls in love with the woman he is supposed to kill. I adore damaged heroes and Christopher is a man who is so damaged that he has convinced himself to want nothing, need nothing, feel nothing. His romance with Millie opens his soul to beauty and possibility.  One of my catnip tropes is the man who stands on the line between hero and villain and Christopher is certainly in that category.

1. DUKE OF PLEASURE by Elizabeth Hoyt: The bastard son of the King meets up with a woman masquerading as a boy and also taking on the role of the Georgian equivalent of a superhero. Combine this with the lyrical and fierce emotional heft of a Hoyt book and you have a winner. Alf, the heroine of this book, manages to be both cynical and worldly but also gentle and innocent in ways I never expected. Even in the penultimate book of the Maiden Lane series, Hoyt is still surprising me and writing books that immediately go to on my all time favorite list.

I also had two honorable mentions.

MR. PRESIDENT by Katy Evans:  The first part of the secret romance between a woman and the man who could be President was amazing because of the combination of sexual and emotional tension combined with a sweet romance. The next part is going to be published in January and I can’t wait.

BIG EASY TEMPTATION by Shayla Black and Lexi Blake: Book three in the Perfect Gentlemen series is about a couple who were torn apart by the ongoing mystery in this series. The pain and emotional complexity in this couple kept me reading…and keeps me checking to find out when the next book of the series will be available.

2016 was a great reading year and I look forward to what is coming up in 2017.

Happy New Year to you all!

Review: Dangerous Pleasure

Review: Dangerous PleasureDangerous Pleasure (Bound Hearts, #12) by Lora Leigh
Series: Bound Hearts #12
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on July 5th 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 293

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable read with a lot of suspense, this menage book isn’t as strong as others in the series in the emotional aspects.

THE STORY:  Abram Mustafa has wanted Paige Galbraith for years. After the murder of his wife, Abram has held himself apart in order to protect those he might care about — including Paige. Now Paige has been kidnapped by Abram’s father and Abram must protect her while he also gives in to the intense passion between them.

OPINION: This book has yet another twist on the menages in Bound Hearts. In this one Abram has his cousin for a third.  He tries to get Paige and his cousin to form an emotional connection, but it is clear that Paige will only want and love him. Paige, therefore, wants more emotional connection than Abram wants to give.

This book has less sex than the previous books in the series (not that there isn’t a lot of hot sex).  There is a more traditional romantic suspense story.  The emphasis in the story is on the immediate events, thus we learn less about these characters apart from their relationship and the adventures they are engaged in.

My biggest problem with the story is that I didn’t really buy into the reasons that Abram stayed away from Paige. His past is explained too much and there wasn’t really an emotional component with his pain in the past.  As a result, I could understand his reluctance to get involved with Paige because of his concern with his brother’s reaction.  What I didn’t get was his turning Paige away after they were already sexually involved.

While I enjoyed the story overall, I wish there was more about the emotional life of these characters to intrigue me.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a MMF menage that is rooted in a MF relationship.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  DANGEROUS PLEASURE is the twelfth book in the Bound Hearts series. It can be read as a standalone although it is closely connected with book 11, GUILTY PLEASURE. It continues the story started in that book.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.


Review: Wicked Pleasure

Review: Wicked PleasureWicked Pleasure by Lora Leigh
Series: Bound Hearts #9
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on April 24th 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 400

FINAL DECISION:  Filled with angst and drama, this is my favorite of the series. Cam is a tormented man desperately trying to keep the woman he loves without revealing his pain and torment. Sexy and emotional, this is a well rounded book.

THE STORY: Jaci Wright has loved Cam Falladay since she was a child but for seven years she has been running from Cam and his twin brother Chase.  When she was twenty one she thought that she was finally going to get the night she wanted with Cam until she found out that Chase is part of the deal. Her current job for the Club (unknown to Jaci the Club is a menage club) brings her back into the Falladays sphere.

OPINION:  This book depicts a difficult relationship.  Cam and Jaci love one another from the start of this book but both have secrets. In Cam’s case, his secrets prevent him from having a normal relationship with Jaci. He cannot sleep with a woman, cannot hold and comfort her, and he needs to keep himself emotionally removed during sex. Despite this, Cam is a strong man. He has survived and managed to cope as well as he could.  Now Jaci is demanding more that survival from Cam and his coping mechanisms are crumbling.

The two have a very difficult relationship journey in this book. Abuse, pain, shame, despair, love, desperation, desire are all explored in this book.  Jaci is incredibly strong in this book.  It is her love, her devotion, her ability to love Cam even when he is acting like a jerk that centers this book. Her willingness to accept Cam’s limitations even for a short time and yet continue to push his boundaries makes this book.

The menage relationship is also more complicated here. Jaci and Chase are friends, and they both love Cam. The menage relationship is exciting for them but it is also a way for both of them to connect with Cam who keeps himself closed up most of the time. The menage is neither one where there is a romantic love between the woman and the two men nor one where the man is just a third functionary. Chase, Cam and Jaci have an emotional connection that goes beyond sex but doesn’t involve romantic love between Jaci and Chase. Leigh is pushing and exploring different versions of the menage relationship as the Bound Hearts series continues.

I enjoyed this book.  Sexy and hot, it also has a deep emotional core between the characters.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a MMF menage within a MF relationship.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WICKED PLEASURE is book 9 in the Bound Hearts series.  This book can be read on its own.  The series is connected only by the appearances of characters. The story is self contained.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Lord of the Privateers

Review: Lord of the PrivateersLord of the Privateers (The Adventurers Quartet, #4) by Stephanie Laurens
Published by MIRA on December 27th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION:  Exciting and adventurous conclusion to the Adventurers Quartet, this is a second chance at love story. The focus here is more on the adventure than the romance, but I enjoyed both.  The only negative is that I didn’t like that the entire set up was because the two characters didn’t talk to one another for important things for years.

THE STORY: Royd Frobisher, the eldest brother, is prepared to take on the final leg of the rescue mission that his brothers have been participating in.  The brothers are working for the English government to try and find out what is happening to people going missing in the West African town. Royd’s younger brothers have discovered that the people going missing have been captured by slavers and taken to work in a diamond mine. Now it is time for the rescue to happen. Just at this moment, Isobel Carmichael comes to Royd and insists that he take her to search for her missing cousin Katherine (whose story is told in Book 3 of the series). Isobel is Royd’s childhood sweetheart, the woman who was Royd’s handfasted bride until she broke off with him. Isobel is also Royd’s current business partner. Royd ends up agreeing with Isobel’s demand in order to discover what if anything still exists between them.  When the two find a surprise aboard Royd’s ship, everything changes.

OPINION:  This was a very enjoyable conclusion to the Adventurers Quartet.  There is a lot of action in this book and readers of the series are rewarded with a full cast of characters from the series.  The only criticism is that this book is more focused on the adventure than the romance.  The romance is there, but it is less developed on a page to page basis than one might expect.

Isobel is a strong woman. She is a ship designer and in charge of her family’s shipbuilding business.  She and Royd have been connected to one another since childhood.  She also has a big secret that she has been hiding.

One of my favorite parts of Laurens’s books is that she has such tough heroines. Strong willed, smart, unwilling to be pushed aside or protected, they make their own decisions and take their own risks. Isobel and the other Frobisher women quickly build a bond. There is something special about the power of women working together. A companionship. A joint effort that shows the power that women can have working together.

Royd is a man who lost the woman he loved and is determined to not make the same mistakes again. He is a natural leader and wants to protect Isobel but recognizes that he cannot smother her. I loved the maturity of Royd. The willingness to make concessions to get what he wants — Isobel.

The biggest weakness of this book is the reason that Isobel and Royd fell apart years ago. I’m not a fan of people failing to talk and that causing problems for a couple. I really have a hard time believing that these two could have allowed so many years to go by without addressing their past. However, that is something that I could reluctantly accept in order to set the stage for this story.

I thought the strength of this story was the adventure story.  The pacing of the rescue of the captives and the revelation of the people in charge worked very well.  Using a large cast of characters from the series, Laurens neatly wrapped up all the loose ends.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of Stephanie Laurens will be treated to appearances by characters from the Bastion Club series and the Cynsters themselves.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  LORD OF THE PRIVATEERS is the fourth and final book in the Adventurers Quartet.  The book assumes knowledge of the prior books in the series and should be read in order.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: A Promise of Fire

Review: A Promise of FireA Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #1) by Amanda Bouchet
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 448

“Is this man my enemy?”

FINAL DECISION:  Fabulous first book in a series about Cat Fisa, the Kingmaker, and Griffith, the man who captures her and then captures her heart.  This book is successful at concentrating on the romance while building a fascinating and complex world along with a plot intricate and filled with adventure.

THE STORY:  Catalia “Cat” Fisa travels as a soothsayer in a circus, but she is actually the Kingmaker — with the legendary talent of being able to tell truth from lies. Unfortunately, Cat catches the attention of Griffith, a warlord whose family has taken control of Sinta.  Griffith wants Cat to use her as a weapon for the newly acquired realm.  Cat, however, has no intention of allowing herself to be used again.

OPINION:  This is a fantastic beginning for a series.  My only reservation on the book is that this story is not complete in and of itself and thus if the subsequent books are bad, this one will too.  (I might revisit my rating up or down after the other books in the series are published).

The best part of this book is that the worldbuilding is intricately intertwined with the romance.  No pages of descriptions or explanations.  Things are explained as needed through the story in a natural fashion.  It makes the story go faster and keeps interest throughout.

Cat is a heroine that centered this book and made me want to read more.  This is her journey.  More than a romance, it is the story of a woman coming into her own destiny.  Like many great heroes, Cat is hiding from her fate as the story begins. In danger because of her past and running from her future, Cat has made a place for herself in the circus.  When Griffith comes to upset her hideaway, Cat at first hates him and wants to escape, but he also begins to make her part of a team, a family, a place worth defending.

Cat has tremendous power. Her weaknesses become strengths, her powers become more enhanced and she is funny and flawed and a powerhouse.  Her cynicism is matched with a innocent heart that she denies but which leads her to care and love those around her.

Griffith is an interesting hero.  Great ambition matched with intelligence and a recognition of the necessity of limiting power. He is like water on stone with Cat. Determined, quietly himself. He is determined and incredibly honest and loyal.  He comes from a loving family — which is a mystery to Cat — which grounds him.  He does what he has to do, but tries to be his best self.

The mixture of magic, dragons, help by the Greek Gods gives this book a rich basis for its mythology. The story feels grounded and recognizable without being entirely derivative.  This book leaves readers with many questions which I hope will be teased out in the other books in the series.

This book shows such promise and I want to see that promise flower into something amazing.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is only the beginning of the series. The story is not complete and readers should be aware that wanting to know the end of the story necessitates committing to more books.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  A PROMISE OF FIRE is the first book in the Kingmaker Chronicles.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Forbidden Pleasure

Review: Forbidden PleasureForbidden Pleasure (Bound Hearts, #8) by Lora Leigh
Series: Bound Hearts #8
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on December 28th 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 352

FINAL DECISION:  The Bound Hearts turns in a different direction with married characters bringing another man into their marriage for the first time.  This book also has a suspense element that works to move the story along.

THE STORY: John “Mac” McCoy was a member of The Club, a place for men to find like minded souls to engage in menage relationships.  He gave that up when he married Keiley Hardin three years ago.  Mac knew that Keiley was too innocent to be involved in Mac’s sexual excesses.  Three years have changed their relationship, however.  Mac sees that Keiley is more sexually secure and more reluctantly intrigued by Mac’s sexual past.  He decides to invites his best friend and usual menage partner Jethro Riggs to be the third person in his relationship with Keiley.

OPINION:  This book has a different premise than the previous ones in this series.  Keiley is not looking for a menage.  She married her husband and expected a traditional relationship.  Even more, Mac and Keiley have been married for three years. Now things are changing.

In this book, Keiley has to be persuaded into the lifestyle that Mac enjoys. Then both Keiley and Jethro have to be convinced that it is okay to have a relationship of emotional connection and not just sex.

This story has a more complicated menage relationship because there is more than sex involved. In truth, this book is partly about the romance between Keiley and Jethro. There are feelings of love and betrayal and fear that are explored here rather than mere sexual experiences.  I found the book more emotionally challenging than others in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is about a menage relationship that is emotional as well as sexual.  These three end up as a family unit.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  FORBIDDEN PLEASURE is book eight of the Bound Hearts series.  This book can be read as a standalone because the characters are only tangentially connected to the ones at The Club which dominates the rest of the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Four Weddings and a Sixpence

Review: Four Weddings and a SixpenceFour Weddings and a Sixpence: An Anthology by Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Boyle, Stefanie Sloane, Laura Lee Guhrke
Published by Avon on December 27th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence in your shoe.”

This is an anthology of four stories about four friends from Madame Rochambeaux’s Gentle School for Girls and the sixpence coin which brings each of them a husband.

SOMETHING OLD by Julia Quinn:  This is the prologue to the stories and introduces the four heroines: Miss Beatrice Heywood, Miss Cordelia Padley, Lady Elinor Daventry and Miss Anne Barbourne.  The four find a old coin which they agree to use to find their husband and if it works, they will pass it along to the next girl.  For a prologue, this one managed to pack a lot of information into a few pages.  It definitely made me want to know more about these girls.  Rating: 5 stars.

SOMETHING NEW by Stefanie Sloane: Miss Anne Brabourne has an uncle as a guardian who has declared that she must marry by her twenty-first birthday. Anne, however, doesn’t really want to marry but if she does she certainly doesn’t want to marry for love.  Her parents tempestuous relationship has soured her on the idea of passion and love. Rhys Alexander Hamilton, Duke of Dorset is a man determined not to marry until he has no choice meets Anne and is charmed by her.  He doesn’t fit Anne’s ideal husband (he will never be easily controlled) but he proposes that he help her find a husband.

This was a sweet little story. I liked the characters and I liked their situation. Both Anne and Rhys have reasons to not recognize that they are falling in love and yet their connection pulls them together throughout the story.  I found this story charming.  The only thing that didn’t fit was the obligatory sex scene which I thought did not actually fit with these characters.  Rating: 4 stars.

SOMETHING BORROWED by Elizabeth Boyle:  Miss Cordelia Padley grew up rich but at her father’s death she learned that he was squandered his entire fortune. She has another, more pressing problem. She has three aunts who are determined to find her a husband, so Cordelia has made up a betrothed to stop their efforts.  Now that one of her dearest friends is marrying, Cordelia has to produce that betrothed or admit her deception.  She goes looking for a temporary fiance to produce and then have him jilt her.  Winston Christopher Talcott, Earl of Thornton needs rich bride to save his failing estate.  Just when he is about to get engaged to an heiress, Cordelia comes back into Kipp’s life and turns it upside down.

This was a wonderful story.  I loved the connection between Cordelia and Kipp. They had a sweet and childhood friends to lovers story. This was a story that was so good that I could have read a whole book about these two.  Cordelia finds her old friend and is dismayed that he never had the chance to fulfill his dreams. Kipp finds a vivacious woman who makes him believe in his dreams again even has his goals have changed. I loved the hope and joy these two bring to one another.  Yes, the resolution was predicable (I figured it out from the beginning), but the story was so good that I was willing to go along with the predicable solution.  Everything worked for me.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

SOMETHING BLUE by Laura Lee Guhrke: Lady Elinor Daventry is determined to marry the son of a duke to help save her father from the investigation by Lawrence Blackthorne who is determined to prove her father is a criminal.  Ellie and Lawrence were childhood friends who were in love and set to marry until he chose his duty and honor over their love and she chose her father over their love.  Lawrence steals the sixpence in order to prevent Ellie’s marriage.

This was an enjoyable story because Ellie and Lawrence are such combative towards one another. The two have deep unresolved feelings even though they are on opposing sides regarding Ellie’s father. There is some serious push and pull between them as they clearly love one another and yet neither can abandon their principles. The interactions between the two were funny and yet sad as it seems at times that these two will not be able to find a way to be together.  I like my books with some angst and drama and this one fulfills those requirements.  Rating: 4 stars.

…AND A SIXPENCE IN HER SHOE by Julia Quinn:  Miss Beatrice Mary Heywood plans never to marry but rather to care for her aunts who took her in when she was orphaned. She takes the coin only reluctantly, but she has the coin when she literally runs into Lord Frederick Grey-Osbourne on the street.  Frederick is sensitive to his looks because of an accident which left him with a scar and blinded in one eye, but he finds himself intrigued by the academic minded Bea who has a passion for astronomy.

Bea and Frederick are so cute together. This is another story that I could have read an entire book about. There is an awkwardness and a pure sweetness of these two being interested in one another. There are meddling aunts, sexy scientific talk, deep empathy and even some sexy moments.  There is a wonderful scene between them (I don’t want to give it away) but it is all about trust and vulnerability between them.  I loved that scene.  This was my favorite story in the anthology and it struck the perfect ending note for me.  Rating: 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: The Longest Night

Review: The Longest NightThe Longest Night: Fantasy Romance (Nvengaria Book 4) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Nvengaria #4
on December 13th 2016
Genres: Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 98

FINAL DECISION:  This is a nice novella with some suspense and the romance between a half human, half logosh shapeshifter who acts as spy and assassin for Nvengaria and the Scottish widow who entranced him a year ago.  It’s a fun read with some emotional moments.

THE STORY:  Mary Cameron a Scottish widow with a seventeen year old son is lonely.  A year ago, she met Baron Valentin a shapeshifting logosh from Nvengonia.  The two shared some kisses and Valentin asked her to join him in Nvengaria.  She never showed. Now the two meet again in London and Valentin has no intention on allowing Mary to escape him again.

OPINION:  This novella like the other Nvengarian stories are a combination of historical and paranormal fantasy with a fairy tale aspect.

In this story Mary is a woman of thirty-five who has a seventeen year old son. The world tells her that she should be satisfied with being a widow and mother and respectable chaparone and not be concerned with love or sex.  But she can’t help thinking about both when around the sexy, younger man, Valentin. She thought about following Valentin to Nvengaria a year ago but got cold feet thinking about who he is.  The truth is that they didn’t know each other very well for her to give up everything to follow him.

Valentin is a man who has lived with the desire for revenge and the regret of making mistakes. He now wants to be with the lovely widow. He has been sent to London to spy on a potential traitor. But he has an ulterior motive…he wants to see Mary again.  Outwardly self-contained but passionate, Valentin has no intention of allowing Mary to slip past him again.

I liked the older woman, younger man story here and I liked how honest Valentin was with Mary. He admires her for all her strengths. There is a decent suspense story here involving Valentin’s mission.  Because of the length of this novella, there is less plot and character development, but that works here because Mary and Valentin have a simple story between them and need the small plot to keep the story moving.

This was an enjoyable read and is a definite need to read for those who liked HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER and want to know what happens after…

WORTH MENTIONING:  THE LONGEST NIGHT was originally published in A CHRISTMAS BALL.  This version has been edited and expanded by the author.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE LONGEST NIGHT is the fourth book in the Nvengaria series.  The romance in this book begins in HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER and I recommend reading that book first even though the events in that book are explained here.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.


Review: Highlander Ever After

Review: Highlander Ever AfterHighlander Ever After (Nvengaria, #3) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Nvengaria #3
Published by Leisure Books on April 1st 2008
Genres: Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 323

FINAL DECISION:  Enjoyable read but not as good as the second book in this series.  I enjoyed the relationship between Zarabeth and Egan but for me the conflict wasn’t strong enough to justify the time these two were at odds.

THE STORY:  Egan MacDonald has loved Zarabeth for years. Despite her marriage to another man, he has not been able to forget her.  When her husband plots a coup against her cousin, the Prince of Nvengaria, Zarabeth reveals the plot and is now in danger for her life.  Zarabeth’s cousin sends her to his friend Egan in Scotland for protection.  Zarabeth is not the exuberant woman that Egan remembered.  While Zarabeth is in danger, Egan and Zarabeth have the chance to rediscover a path together that they missed years ago.

OPINION:  This is a second chance at love story about a woman who has been deeply hurt and the man she always loved.  Zarabeth and Egan are a good match for one another despite his attempts to keep her at arms length.  He loves her but he doesn’t believe himself good enough for her.

While there are magical elements in this story, the core is the relationship between Zarabeth and Egan. Her desire for him and her fears as a result of her marriage, his desire for her competing with his belief in his inadequacies.

I liked the romance here which was quiet and took a while for the two to work through their problems.

For me the negative of this book was that the conflict was not strong enough to really justify these two being at odds for so long.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book introduces the couple for the novella THE LONGEST NIGHT.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER is the third book in the Nvengaria series.  This book can be read as a standalone because the romance is self-contained although there are overlapping characters.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.


Review: Shameless

Review: ShamelessShameless (Bound Hearts, #7) by Lora Leigh
Series: Bound Hearts #7
Published by Ellora's Cave on March 23rd 2005
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 151

FINAL DECISION: This book has plenty of hot sex (expected in a Bound Hearts novel) but I didn’t feel the intense connection between the characters that I expected and I really didn’t get Ian’s reluctance.  The book was good, but I have read better in this series.

THE STORY:  Courtney Mattlaw has wanted Ian Sinclair since she was mere child.  Now she has decided to get the man she wants.  Ian has tried to protect Courtney from his wild extreme sexual lifestyle. What he doesn’t know is that Courtney is not the innocent that he thinks she is and she wants nothing less than to be a part of Ian’s life in all ways.

OPINION:  The Bound Hearts series has more extreme sexual relationships including an emphasis on menage.  This book is no different.  The central conflict in this book is that Ian thinks Courtney is too innocent and because of a woman in his past who committed suicide and blamed his lifestyle, Ian doesn’t want to be responsible for Courtney.

This book is smoking hot because Courtney is determined that Ian see her as a woman who is compatible with his sexual needs and thus the two are engaged in some seriously intense sexual acts.  That part of this book would definitely get 5 stars. I liked how Ian and Courtney challenge one another and they have a very sexy confrontational relationship.

There were two things about this book that bothered me.  First, I never really got that Ian fought so much against Courtney.  In the beginning that made sense, but once the two were engaged in a sexual relationship, I couldn’t buy that Ian kept thinking that Courtney was some delicate flower.  At that point, his objections just didn’t seem rational.  Second, and perhaps because of that, I didn’t get the emotional connection between these characters. Their conflicts seemed more forced and thus I felt there was less emotional intimacy.

This was a good book, but only average for this series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book contains the heroine having sex with another man, some minor FF, and MMF menage.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  SHAMELESS is the seventh book in the Bound Hearts series.  This book can be read as a standalone although there are appearances by characters in the series.  I’ve been reading these out of order and I haven’t had a problem.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.