About Sheila

I am an attorney and a lifelong reader. I voraciously consumed Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Judy Blume as a child. By the time I was 11 years old I had moved on to Agatha Christie and Rex Stout. When I was thirteen I read Gone with the Wind for the first time and I became a lover of romances. For over twenty-five years, I have been reading all kinds of romances -- many of them multiple times. In college, I majored in Political Science minored in American literature and covered all types of political histories and political theory books, the classics of literature and the modern touchstones of literature, but for pleasure I still gravitate to romances. I read every day and usually finish a book in a day or two. My favorite book is the Great Gatsby but a close second is Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey.

Review: American Prince

Review: American PrinceAmerican Prince (New Camelot Trilogy, #2) by Sierra Simone
Series: New Camelot Trilogy #2
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on March 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 330
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Still super crazy and compelling, I thought this one suffered from the “middle book” syndrome where too much is being set up for the ending and thus while really good, it’s wasn’t quite as compelling as the first book.

THE STORY: This book begins where AMERICAN QUEEN ended. After the marriage of the President Ash to his wife Greer and the formalization of their menage relationship with Vice President Embry, Greer has been kidnapped. The remainder of the book is about the continuing threats the three face both from external factors, but also from the jealousies, fears, and history which threatens to tear them apart.

OPINION: This book is filled with drama and angst and so many unfinished issues that it was painful to read at parts. The book is clearly setting up the final book in the series and as such, it doesn’t read as well as a separate story. There is a real sense that this is one of the low points in the relationship as this book ends. That is expected and I suspect that once the final book is out this book will blend in perfectly. But it certainly leaves things in a bad spot that is hard to enjoy.

This story is so big and crazy and I am just compelled to read it. The relationship between these three characters is not restrained by any means. There are deep jealousies and anger and lust and love. Despite the love between these three characters, their relationship is not easy. There are past pains and deceit and fears between these characters. They are struggling not only against those issues but those who want to destroy them.

This book, as one might guess from the title, focuses primarily on Embry’s point of view (although not exclusively) and his past with Ash. We learn more about the love and pain that is part of the history of their relationship.

One of the best parts of this book is how seriously it takes the relationship between Ash, Greer and Embry. One might expect that if two people in a relationship is complicated, those issues are multiplied with the addition of one person. This book doesn’t shy away from those issues which makes this book compelling as to their interactions.

Now I just need to read what is going to happen with Ash’s book.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book ends on a cliffhanger.

CONNECTED BOOKS: AMERICAN PRINCE is the second book in the New Camelot Trilogy. This book continues from the cliffhanger in the first book and the books should be read together in order. The series follows the menage relationship between The President, Vice-President and the President’s wife.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-stars

Review: Duke of Desire

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

Review: Duke of DesireDuke of Desire (Maiden Lane, #12) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #12
Published by Grand Central Publishing on October 17th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 364
Goodreads
five-stars

“Considering how extremely dull her life had been up until this point, Iris Daniels, Lady Jordan had discovered a quite colorful way to die.”

FINAL DECISION: Haunting, filled with angst and drama and, of course, intense, deeply emotional passion and love, DUKE OF DESIRE is a worthy final novel in a superlative series.

THE STORY: Lady Iris Jordan wants nothing more than a happy marriage and children after enduring a polite but unhappy marriage. Instead, she has found herself captured by the Lords of Chaos (a group of men who engage in sexual assaults on women and children). When one of the masked participants carries her away in his carriage, Iris shoots him only to discover that the man is the Duke of Dyemore, Raphael de Chartres, who claims to be rescuing her. Raphael says that he is attempting to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos in order to destroy them. In order to protect Iris, Raphael insists they must marry. The challenge is that Iris insists on taking their marriage seriously no matter how it starts. But the possibility of happiness is challenged not only by the Lords of Chaos but also by Raphael’s own dark past.

OPINION: Is there anything better or worse than the final book in a beloved series? I’d like to begin by admitting that the Maiden Lane series has been one of my all time favorite series. I have been immensely impressed with how consistently fantastic the books have been. For me, there hasn’t been one book in the series that I would skip in a re-read, and I’ve re-read all of the books numerous times. But there is always the possibility of the last book failing to live up to expectations.

I’m happy to report that this book exceeded my expectations in every category except one. Intense and dark, the book managed to leave me with an overwhelming feeling of joy and hope by its end. There is a real sense that the darkness may not have been completely defeated, but that love is triumphant and will always manage to beat down the tendrils of darkness that might pop up.

DUKE OF DESIRE is the final novel in the series and the final book in the “trilogy” concerning the Lords of Chaos. (Although book number nine, SWEETEST SCOUNDREL, also has a connection to the group). The Lords of Chaos have wrecked destruction and pain upon many of the heroes and heroines of the Maiden Lane series and this book brings that story to a final conclusion.

Iris Jordan is a widow who readers were introduced to in DUKE OF PLEASURE. What I liked best about Iris is that she is a strong, grounded woman. After enduring a marriage that failed her as a person, Iris realized in DUKE OF PLEASURE that she deserves something more. And if things don’t present themselves like a fairytale love story (like being forced into marriage to save herself from the Lords of Chaos), Iris is determined to make her voice heard and demand a life she wants.

Raphael has been attracted to Iris from the moment he saw her and when circumstances force their marriage, he thinks he will be able to control Iris and control his feelings for her. But Iris will not be placed in a protective box by Raphael. Instead she challenges him at every turn, breaks down his walls and barriers. Iris will not allow herself to be controlled, but it is clear that her pushing of Raphael comes from a place of caring and a desire for relationship.

Raphael is a survivor and a man who, like Val (DUKE OF SIN) and Eve (SWEETEST SCOUNDREL), has been formed by the actions of a hideous father (readers of the series will recognize that Raphael’s father was for a time the leader of the Lords of Chaos). All three of these characters have to deal not only with the abuse they suffered, but also from the pain of betrayal of the paternal relationship.

This book is the story of the end of the Lords of Chaos, but also the story of how Raphael is brought from the darkness of his past by the determined and steadfast love of Iris.

The book also has a touch of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST which is to be expected in a series that borrows so beautifully from fairy tales both explicitly and implicitly.

This book is, at times, difficult to read as the pain and dangerous situations of the characters involve deep emotional pain caused by abuse. (Although it is difficult to top the animal abuse depicted in DUKE OF SIN). Yet, there is an innocence and a beauty that is depicted in the relationship between Iris and Raphael that balanced the deep darkness that readers have to travel along with the characters. Like the sun rising after a terrible storm during the night, the ending of the story was so refreshingly normal and hopeful that it managed to banish so much of the darkness that came before.

I did have one disappointment with the story. If this novel was truly the end of the Maiden Lane series, I would have been intensely missing so many of the characters that have made the series memorable. DUKE OF DESIRE is intensely focused on Iris and Raphael and even when I thought other characters from the series might make an appearance, they didn’t. But thankfully, although this is the final novel of the series, there is still more Maiden Lane on the way. There are two novellas ONCE UPON A MAIDEN LANE and ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS EVE to come in this series which will tackle the romances of some of the secondary characters from earlier in the series. I have great hopes that these two novellas will give fans of the series one last glimpse of the world and the beloved characters which inhabit it.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book deals with sexual abuse and rape of children and women. While not graphically depicted, it is a central issue to the plot.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DUKE OF DESIRE is the twelfth and final novel in the Maiden Lane series. This book could be read as a standalone, but I think that reading the prior book which introduces the hero and heroine will make this book more enjoyable.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

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

five-stars

St. Martin’s Press Holiday Romance Titles

It’s time for the holiday romances! Even if the weather is still warm and closer to Halloween, there are some fabulous new winter holiday books coming your way.

St. Martin’s Press has a bunch of holiday books and novellas and short stories coming out for your consideration. I’ve read two and they were both very good.

DECK THE HALLS

Already out is Donna Alward’s novella from her Darling, VT series, DECK THE HALLS which might be one of my favorite Christmas romance stories. You can read my review here. I gave it 4.5 stars.

With shades of It’s a Wonderful Life, one man must face his past to find his future this Christmas.

In the last year, George’s life has drastically changed. The formerly homeless veteran now has a job he likes, a family in the residents of Darling, VT, and for the first time in years, a home. But while his present is good, he’s still haunted by the past, a past that appears shortly before Christmas when the older sister of his brother-in-arms hunts him down and finds him in Darling, working at the Ladybug Garden Center.

Amy’s looking for closure for her family after her brother’s death in the Middle East, but the serious man she finds working in Vermont doesn’t resemble the soldier she remembers from years before. This man is hardened and yet somehow fragile, too, and in her desire to find out what really happened to her brother, she learns more about George than she ever expected.

With a little Christmas magic and the whole town supporting them, can these two bruised hearts make a future together?

Author Bio:

A busy wife and mother of three (two daughters plus the family dog), Donna Alward believes hers is the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist. Donna loves being back on the East Coast of Canada after nearly twelve years in Alberta where her romance career began, writing about cowboys and the west. She is the author of Somebody Like You, Somebody’s Baby, and Someone to Love.

Buy link:

Deck the Halls

Donna Alward Questions and Answers

When do the holidays official start for you?

December 1 – or the weekend just preceding it. That’s when we get out the decorations and go crazy.

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

THE MOVIES. I love sitting with my kids (who are of the nearly-adult variety) and watching holiday movies with a glass of wine or hot cocoa.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?

Tons! There are certain things we bake. We have a whole bunch of Christmas Eve traditions, including a barbecue (steak!), putting presents under the tree, going for a drive to see the lights, and watching The Polar Express. And even at their age, they still ask me to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

I have too many – my fave depends on my mood. Top contenders: Christmas Vacation, Christmas with the Kranks, White Christmas, Love Actually, The Polar Express.

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

Hmmm. I don’t tend to re-read holiday themed books, but I’ll confess that I have a soft spot for any (all) of the Christmas books in the Chesapeake Shores series. Those O’Briens… 🙂

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?

Nat King Cole’s version of The Christmas Song. Simplicity and nostalgia all rolled into one smooth voice.

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?

Cozy nights with a glass of wine and a book. LOL! Seriously though, I miss living near the Rockies, because the skiing there spoiled me for anywhere else.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?

One year my sister put together a recipe book with our mom’s fave recipes over the years. She added some of her own, too, but if I want something that Mom used to make back in the eighties? It’s in that book!

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?

Yes! Yoga socks, books, and a kindle.

Any resolutions or goals for next year?

Do better. 🙂

CHRISTMAS IN KILTS

The second book I’ve been fortunate to read is out at the end of the month. This is a collection of stories all with a Scottish connection. My review is here. I gave the entire collection 4 stars.

Tis the season to fall in love! These five bestselling authors bring you great tiding of highlanders and romances this holiday season!

A HIGHLANDER’S HOPE by Terri Brisbin
A village harlot who would never dream she could have a different life meets a Highlander who visits for the holidays and brings with him an offer and hope.

A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia Cornwall
When a snowstorm forces a charming lass hiding a broken heart to take shelter in a castle with three fine Highland lairds just days before Christmas, there’s a game afoot—who will be the first to win a kiss and maybe her heart.

A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen Evans
She’s ready to embrace her life and future as a spinster, he’s trying to have one last hurrah before he gives into his family’s wishes and proposes marriage to his neighbor, but fate has other ideas when the lady and the Scot meet at a holiday house party in the wilds of Scotland.

LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia Kent
What happens when a highlander finds himself stranded, maybe kidnapped, with an English lady around Christmas… maybe the mistletoe will help answer that question.

SWEET HOME HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS by May McGoldrick
An encounter between an English officer and a desperate aunt trying to keep custody of her young niece leads to a little magic during the holidays.

 

Buy Link:

Christmas in Kilts

One of my favorite stories in the collection is by Bronwen Evans. We are fortunate to also have a holiday question and answer from Bronwen.

Bronwen Evans Question and Answers

When do the holidays official start for you?

Mid December

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

Guilt free reading and being with my family. Even an author needs down time.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?

Besides putting up my Christmas tree? I always make a pavlova with kiwi fruit for our Christmas day dessert. Remember it’s summer in New Zealand.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

I have three – Love Actually (one of my favourite movies of all time) and Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. I love action movies.

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

No, but I will say one Christmas a friend kept telling me to read JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood as I had never read it. So I decided to read book 1. Well, over the Christmas break I read all 12 in a row!

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?

Mary’s Boy Child by Boney M

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?

Well, it’s summer in New Zealand at Christmas, and I love simply getting out my Kindle, pulling up my lounger, and lying by my pool reading a great romance book.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?

I love giving, who doesn’t. So I usually give anonymous gifts to my friends children. I knew one child was saving for a present but would be short, so I sent him a card with money in it from Santa. Seeing his joy was priceless. My most memorable gift was when I was 7 and I got my first puppy. I’ll never forget seeing his little nose poking over the edge of the box and hearing his little barks.

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?

Not really. I have a book wish list and at least everyone knows I’m easy to buy for.

Any resolutions or goals for next year?

I haven’t thought about it yet, but I usually just wish for my family to be happy and healthy.

 

 

Review: Christmas in Kilts

Review: Christmas in KiltsChristmas in Kilts by Bronwen Evans, Lavinia Kent, Lecia Cornwall, May McGoldrick, Terri Brisbin
Series: MacKendimen #2.5, Pennington Family #0.5
Published by Swerve on October 3rd 2017
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-stars

This is a collection of five novellas with a Scottish theme.

A HIGHLANDER’S HOPE by Terri Brisbin — Iain MacKillop is a widower who yearns for marriage and children, but intends on making his own choices this time. The one woman he can’t stop thinking about is completely inappropriate. Robena MacKendimen is the village whore and while she too thinks about Iain, she knows that her status makes anything else between them impossible. This was a lot of story packed into a short novel. I really enjoyed the fact that this book doesn’t flinch from the difficulties of a man falling in love with a whore. The story has a sweet aspect but also a serious one and there is no magic wand that resolves these issues which I really like. There are compromises and a will to make happiness happen. This is a novalla in the MacKendimen series. Rating: 3.5 stars.

A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia Cornwall — Meggie MacLeod is forced to take refuge at a castle where there are three lairds. One of the lairds is the man that Meggie fell in love with at the age of eighteen before he broke her heart by marrying another. A wager between the men as to who will be able to gain her kisses ignites a competition between the men. Hugh MacAuley needs an heiress in order to satisfy the elders of his clan. He has come to ask the sister of his host, but Meggie tempts him with her fire and her sweetness. I enjoyed this story as Hugh is a shyer hero than I expected and this book really deals with Meggie having lost her virtue and yet Hugh choosing her despite all the cultural reasons he shouldn’t. The story is really sweet between Meggie and Hugh. Rating: 3.5 stars.

A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen Evans — Dougray knows he must marry again to have an heir, but his love for his deceased wife means that he never intends to love a woman again. Instead, he will marry for companionship and children. Emma has loved Dougray since she was a child. At a houseparty, she challenges him to teach her about passion before she accepts her spinster existence. He is tempted to succumb to passion before choosing a life without deep emotions. I really enjoyed this story. Dougray and Emma are such nice people. Life and love has treated each of them with some difficulties. I liked how Dougray allows himself to be “convinced” by Emma but quickly realizes that there is more at work here than merely a spinster who wants to learn about physical love. This is one of the highlights of the set and a story I would read again. Rating: 4.5 stars.

LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia Kent — English Emma Spencer finds herself in a coach with James Barran. James is on his way to stop a wedding, but machinations leave him and Emma stranded at Christmas time at a cabin. I enjoyed this story which is focused intensely on the couple. The two being stranded allows them time to get to know one another even though the actual time period covered by the story. I liked the characters who are decent people who are trying their best to do the right thing. The story has a hot little element which I also enjoyed. Rating: 4 stars.

SWEET HOME HIGHLANDS by May McGoldrick — Captain Gregory Pennington encounters a precocious child and her desperate aunt while waiting for travelers he is to accompany home. Freya Sutherland needs to marry someone immediately in order to keep her niece. I loved this story primarily because of the depiction of Freya’s niece. She is adorable and really tied the story together. Penn and Freya are such nice, well meaning people that the niece is necessary to put some spice into the story. I was surprised at how much development was able to be done considering how few pages the authors had to work with. Penn is a gentleman who is looking for his purpose in life and finds it in a gentle woman and her strong willed, determined niece. Rating: 4.5 stars.

four-stars

Review: Misadventures of a Backup Bride

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

Review: Misadventures of a Backup BrideMisadventures of a Backup Bride (Misadventures, #4) by Shayla Black
Series: Misadventures #4
Published by Waterhouse Press on October 17th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: This story had an interesting premise and I enjoyed the intrigue of the characters competing against the “villain” dad. A reader who can accept insta-love stories can enjoy this one.

THE STORY: Carson Frost inherits a company from his biological father that is in financial trouble. In seeking a loan, he turns in desperation to the company’s rival. The rival agrees to a loan on the condition that Carson marry his daughter.  Two weeks before the wedding, Carson recognizes that this is going to be a disaster and tries to get out of the wedding by making up another woman who he is love with. The father calls his bluff and demands that Carson produce the woman. Carson can only think of one possible woman to call — Ella Hope, and actress who he met six months ago when she dated one of his friends. Ella agrees to take the job, but the passion explodes between the two when they meet again in person. When the father meets Ella, he agrees that Carson doesn’t have to marry his daughter — but only if Carson and Ella marry in two weeks.

OPINION: This short novel sets up an interesting conflict. What happens when the woman hired to pretend to be the love of a man’s life becomes the love of his life? I enjoyed this story and the characters. This is my favorite of the series because the characters are well drawn even in the short space allowed for them in this story. Plus, there is a tremendous amount of conflict. It’s also really interesting that there are no terrible “evil” characters in the end. Plus, the story is really sexy. What I didn’t expect was the turn towards a more traditional and emotional romance story towards the end. I thought the twist on the events of a romance story worked really well here.

WORTH MENTIONING: Much of the relationship development between Carson and Ella takes place around of during sexual escapades because of the nature of the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MISADVENTURES OF A BACKUP BRIDE is the fourth book in the Misadventures series. The books in the series are all standalone stories without any connections or overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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

four-stars

Cover Reveal: Cherish Hard

I am so excited!  The amazing Nalini Singh’s next book CHERISH HARD will be out in November. It is the first book in her new Hard Play series (which is the spin-off of her Rock Kiss series). If you loved Gabriel Bishop’s brothers in ROCK HARD, this series will focus on them. Read our Review: Rock Hard. Although it is part of the series, ROCK HARD can totally be read as a standalone and you get to see the yummy brothers.

Now for the cover reveal, the blurb and even an excerpt!!

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Meet Sailor & Isa on November 14th!

Pre-order your copy today!

Amazon US:  http://amzn.to/2yaHnQG

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2i1LhHC

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2yXwnFB

iBooks:  http://apple.co/2xw0U0O

Nook:  http://bit.ly/2yf01bI

Kobo:  http://bit.ly/2i2wvR1

☆☆☆☆☆☆

CHERISH HARD

A Hard Play Novel by Nalini Singh

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.

☆☆☆☆☆☆

EXCERPT

Fuming, Ísa made sure to set the alarm system and lock up. Everyone else was already well into their summer vacation—the sole reason Ísa was here was because she hadn’t been able to work on her lesson plans at home.

Her upstairs neighbor was having repairs done to her bathroom that required banging and hammering.

Not all of it involved nails and wood.

Hopefully the repairs would be finished by now. There was only so much ecstatic orgasmic screaming that a single woman in online-dating purgatory could stand without being driven to violence.

She spotted the tan-colored gardening truck the instant she came down the front steps of the school’s imposing redbrick main building and turned left to head toward her car. The hot gardener had parked it right next to her zippy blue compact. The front of the truck had four doors with tinted windows while the large bed was piled with shovels and other manly tools as well as a huge sack of clippings.

His light brown T-shirt was hanging over the top of the tailgate.

Which meant he was still walking around topless somewhere around here.

“Get in your car, Ísa,” she muttered to herself, well aware what would happen if she came face-to-face with that delicious hunk of manhood. Because while she might’ve conquered her shyness, she knew her limits.

Confronted by a bare-chested man who made her ovaries explode, she’d turn bright pink, lose her ability to form speech, and end of story. “Oh—”

She would’ve bounced off that sculpted chest if he hadn’t grabbed her by the hips.

“Hey, sorry,” he said with a startled smile that lit up the dazzling blue of his eyes. “I didn’t see you.”

“No, um, my fault.” It looked as if he’d crouched down to check one of his tires or something else but had risen to his feet right when she swung around to get into her car. And God, his skin was so hot and smooth and he was so tall and his shoulders were so broad and her mouth was drying up. The stuttering would begin at any moment.

The same stuttering Suzanne had mocked relentlessly when they were fourteen. Until Ísa had gone silent around everyone except the few friends she trusted. And now that horrible, ugly-hearted girl was getting married, having a baby, getting a happily-ever-after. Added to which, Ísa’s mother was jerking her on a string like she was a marionette, and her last “date” had asked her to call him Woofy and reward him with doggy biscuits.

The blue of the gardener’s eyes flickered with a hot flame.

And she thought… I know him. But before she could follow that faint thread, all the fury and hurt and frustration and sheer aggravation in Ísa ignited into an incandescent inferno.

She went mad.

Grabbing the hot gardener’s beautiful face in her hands, she said, “I want to kiss you.”

A wicked grin. “Go on ahead.”

And Ísa pressed her lips to his.

Copyright © 2017 by Nalini Singh

Meet the Author

Nalini Singh is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Psy-Changeling, Guild Hunter, and Rock Kiss series. She lives and works in beautiful New Zealand, and is passionate about writing.

If you’d like to explore her other books, you can find lots of excerpts and free short stories on her website. Slave to Sensation is the first book in the Psy-Changeling series, while Angels’ Blood is the first book in the Guild Hunter series. The Rock Kiss books are all stand alone and can be read in any order.

STALK HER:  Website | Facebook |  Instagram  |  Twitter | Goodreads

 

Review: Misadventures with a Super Hero

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

Review: Misadventures with a Super HeroMisadventures with a Super Hero (Misadventures, #3) by Angel Payne
Series: Misadventures #3
Published by Waterhouse Press on October 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Paranormal
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: Great premise. uneven execution. Parts of this story I really enjoyed, but parts were a bit confusing and uneven. Overall, I enjoyed the story because it was a fun ride.

THE STORY: Emmalina Crist needs her job working at a hotel because she is trying to make something of herself. Her new boss, Reece Richards, is a longtime playboy, and Emma knows that he is bad news, but can’t resist him anyway. But Emma is also intrigued by Bolt, LA’s newest superhero. Of course, Reece is actually Bolt and he has issues because he was given “super powers” against his will. The two have to navigate Reece finding out who and what he is.

OPINION: I really liked the premise of this story and it is really hot with Emma and Reece circling around one another in various locations in his hotel. I liked the characters and I really believed Reece’s improving his life because of his “changes”. I thought parts of the story were really funny and really sweet. This story is really an erotic journey as for the relationship between Emma and Reece (lots of insta-love/lust) with some superhero danger tossed in.

I did think that the writing was a bit uneven at times and the alternating points of view meant some confusion in the voice of the story. (There were not enough differences in the voices of the two characters to justify the different points of view).

This was a fun story and I would love to read more about these characters, but I think that a reader has to make a commitment to the story to really enjoy it.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a novella that is told in alternating points of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  MISADVENTURES WITH A SUPER HERO is the third book in the Misadventures series. This series, however, are completely separate standalone books with no connections at all.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

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

three-stars

Review: The Greatest Challenge of Them All

Review: The Greatest Challenge of Them AllThe Greatest Challenge Of Them All (Cynster #26; Cynster Next Generation #6) by Stephanie Laurens
Series: Devil's Brood Trilogy #3, ,
Published by Savdek Management Pty Ltd on July 7th 2017
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 400
Goodreads
four-stars

“She’d had enough of playing by his rules.”

FINAL DECISION: This was the best of the three book trilogy as Drake and Louisa have a battle of wills over her involvement in Drake’s investigation. The focus in this series is the mystery and that is true here as well, but the romance was satisfying.

THE STORY: Drake Varisey, Marquess of Winchelsea and heir to the Duke of Wolverstone has taken up the reins of trying to unravel the plot to blow something in London up. The one woman he doesn’t want to help is Lady Louisa Cynster. For years, there has been something between these two and Louisa is determined to find out if there is any possibility of a future between them and he doesn’t intend to allow Drake to avoid her anymore. Recognizing that he needs Louisa’s vast social knowledge and connections, Drake allows Louisa to worm her way into his investigation, but he risks the emotional entanglement that he has been avoiding for years.

OPINION: This book pulls together the threads from the first two books of the series in both the mystery and the romances (as all three couples make appearances here). In fact, if I have a real complaint it is that it appears that all the real significant action was kept until this book which makes the first two books a little unnecessary.

Much of the book is about the mystery of what is going on with the gunpower that the characters have been searching for in the trilogy. There are differing points of view, including the villains in the story. That makes for a weighty story that has many moving parts.

Louisa is a woman who might be the strongest willed heroine that I’ve ever read by Laurens. She is already a mature woman who knows what her roll in life will be. She is giving Drake an audition so to speak. From the beginning she admits that there is no love between them because they haven’t been able to interact enough. (Honestly, I thought their beginning a little cold which has been an unfortunate repeated refrain in Laurens more recent books.  Too much intellectual evaluation, too little emotional upheaval). I like how she just does what she wants and doesn’t flinch at all from Mr. All powerful Spymaster extraordinaire.

Drake is a man who keeps control by avoiding those things that could challenge his control — namely Louisa. But as he cannot avoid her any longer, Drake is drawn closer and closer to the wonderfully competent and intelligent Louisa. And the closer he gets to her, the closer he wants to be.

I thought that these two had the best clashes as Drake is determined to avoid Louisa’s charms (but he doesn’t hold out well). I thought that this book best interwove the mystery and the romance. I also thought that the mystery was particularly good at the end as the unexpected target and motivations of the villains too center stage at the end of this book.

But what I loved most about this book was the extended epilogue which tied all the romances together in a beautiful fashion. That is what made this into a Cynster book for me.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a bit with Devil and Honoria which is my favorite part — because they remain my favorite Laurens’ couple.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE GREATEST CHALLENGE OF THEM ALL is the third book in the Devil’s Brood Trilogy. While the trilogy books work together as one mystery is solved, I think a reader could read just this book and not miss any of the mystery since there is a recap in the beginning.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: An Irresistible Alliance

Review: An Irresistible AllianceAn Irresistible Alliance by Stephanie Laurens
Series: Devil's Brood Trilogy #2, Cynsters #25, Cynsters Next Generation #5
Published by Savdek Management Pty Ltd on May 11th 2017
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-stars

“You men always want to keep all the fun for yourselves.”

FINAL DECISION: A well rounded, if a little intellectual and mechanical, romance that mixes mystery with two people working a partnership to solve a mystery into a life partnership.

THE STORY: Lord Michael Cynster has been freed from his obligation to carry on the family line by the betrothal of his older brother, but now Michael feels at loose ends. When his brother and fiancee cannot continue the investigations they began, Michael takes up the reins to discover the barrels of gunpower now in London. His search takes him to Hendron Shipping for help where he meets Miss Cleome Hendon who has been running the family shipping offices. Cleo’s efficiency is her enemy as she longs for something new and exciting. Michael’s appearance offers that as Cleo bargains with information in order to become part of the investigation.

OPINION: This book brings together two of the children from Laurens’ Cynster and Bastion Club series. I enjoyed this book, but have to admit that I miss the parents who seem like a lingering and missing presence in the book.

This book has a political mystery drama (similar to the Bastion Club series) that continues from the first book. Cleo is definitely her mother’s daughter and demands her equal role from the start. The mystery of the book is the method by which these two work out their relationship. In that fashion, it is a historical romantic suspense. The mystery is the central story here with the romance a constant presence, but only worked out as the two engage in their investigations.

While I enjoyed the interactions between these characters and I especially like that Michael quickly reconciles himself to wanting all of Cleo (including the adventurous part). His father gives him some good advice and I did enjoy seeing Devil in his fatherly role. The romance between the two seemed too pat and organized and reasonable. I have to admit that I kind of like romances where the match needs to be worked out more. This one was like pulling on a pair of favorite socks. Comfortable but not particularly exciting. Perhaps that it what is likely to happen with well known characters children (who don’t have misfortunes in their background).

I thought the story was well constructed and I enjoyed it, but it doesn’t reach the level of the early Cynster books which were superlative.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is really a next generation book so fans wanting glimpses of the original Cynsters might be disappointed. There are small glimpses of Devil and Honoria but only small ones.

CONNECTED BOOKS: AN IRRESISTIBLE ALLIANCE is the second book in the Devil’s Brood Trilogy which is a spin-off of the Cynsters Next Generation series (Book #5) which is itself a spin-off of the Cynsters series (Book #25). This book should be read as part of the Devil’s Brood Trilogy because there is an overarching storyline that is divided between the books even if the romance is self-contained.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Beauty Like the Night

Review: Beauty Like the NightBeauty Like the Night (Spymasters, #6) by Joanna Bourne
Series: Spymasters #6
Published by Berkley Books on August 1st 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 293
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: The most traditional romance of the Spymasters series, Severine and Raoul’s story is filled with intrigue, danger, violence and great romanticism. If this is the last of the Spymasters, it allows readers one long lingering goodbye.

THE STORY: Severine de Cabrillac, an orphan of Revolutionary France and previously a member of British Intelligence spends her post war years solving crimes around London. Late one night, a man breaks into her home seeking information about his murdered wife and her missing twelve year old daughter. Raoul Deverney has come to Severine because she is one of the few clues he has. When he seeks Severine’s help in discovering the truth about his wife’s murder, the two engage in a dance of secrets and unwanted passions.

OPINION: This book felt more like a traditional romance that the more recent books in this series which sometimes felt like historical fiction because of the depth of the historical context and the darkness in the book. This book feels more traditional because the focus of the book is on London and while there is political intrigue, the focus really feels personal as the story revolves around Raoul’s murdered wife and missing daughter.

Without being obvious or maudlin, this book serves as a wonderful conclusion to the series as we are treated to a great deal of time with the most recent heroes in the series. We get to see the whole gang working together one more time.

Severine is a woman who is strong and has made her own path. The younger sister of Juntine (BLACK HAWK) and the adopted daughter of William Doyle (THE FORBIDDEN ROSE), she has grown up among the spies and intrigues of Meek Street. Determined to avoid being protected by those same men, she ran off to Spain during the War in order to work with British Military Intelligence. That experience left the expected scars on her both physically and emotionally. Now that the war has ended, she has made a life for herself solving crimes in London — especially those where people are falsely accused.  (But she still has a hand in with her family’s business).

Raoul is a man searching for the murderer of his estranged wife and her missing daughter. He also has a great many secrets (which I won’t reveal because that is part of the story). He is sophisticate and incredibly dangerous as Severine recognizes from the start. He is also an incredibly romantic character which I really liked because he is so different from the other heroes in this series.

The story in this book maintains the grittiness of the series, but isn’t quite as dark. In fact, there is some sweetness to the romance that I wasn’t expecting but really enjoyed.

Bourne has stated that this is the last of the Spymasters series. I believe this series was incredibly unique and I will miss the characters. If this is the end, I think that it was a wonderful opportunity to visit old friends again and wrap up things.

WORTH MENTIONING: Lots of appearances here by the men of the series, but not the women.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTY LIKE THE NIGHT is the sixth book in the Spymasters series. This story stands on its own, but the characters from prior books make significant appearances.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars