Review: Royally Matched

Review: Royally MatchedRoyally Matched (Royally, #2) by Emma Chase
Series: Royally #2
on February 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 276
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“I have an hour before I need to leave, so it’ll be tea and …Sense and Sensibility for a bit. It’s the perfect read. Just enough drama and angst to be interesting, but mostly light and entertaining, with the happiest ending. Colonel Brandon is my favorite–the ultimate book husband. He made good and upstanding look sexy as all get-out. Someday, I’ll meet a man just like him–romantic, steady, and reliable–and I don’t give a damn how silly that sounds. How immature or fanciful.

“Because I have a theory.

“If nightmares can come true, and sometimes they do…then so can our happiest dreams.”

FINAL DECISION:  Intensely romantic, this book feels a little more like a fairy tale than real life, but that’s one reason it is so good.  A shy librarian who falls in love with the future king of her country and tames the wild rake.

THE STORY:  Prince Henry is having trouble adjusting to being the heir apparent after his brother abdicated his position as next in line for the throne of their country.  Now, after a lifetime of fun and games, Henry is feeling the constant pressure to be perfect.  Temporarily banished to a distant estate, Henry agrees to participate in a matchmaker reality show to find a wife (think The Bachelor).  While beautiful women are all around him seeking fame and perhaps him, Henry is drawn to the sister of one of the contestants — Sarah Von Titebottum, a shy librarian who has agreed to accompany her sister to avoid having to give a presentation.  Despite his participation in the show, Henry has no intension of finding the love of his life — but Sarah changes all that.  But how can a man who has always been considered a shallow party animal and womanizer convince a woman looking for serious and responsible that he is man for her?

OPINION:  Funny, romantic and sweet was not what I expected when I read the description of this book, but that is what I got.  Henry is simply adorable. He’s a man who has placed in a position that he never expected to inhabit.  Now he is struggling to figure out how to be himself as heir when everyone else seems to be trying to tell him who he should be.  While his grandmother, the Queen, wants and expects Henry to be circumspect and proper, he instead decides to agree to a matchmaking reality show to find a bride. He doesn’t actually expect to find a bride — just relief from his boredom and internal fears of not measuring up.  He doesn’t expect to find Sarah.

While the two had met before, this is the first time that he has spent any significant time with her.  And he finds that she gives him the opportunity to be himself — a man — rather than a prince.  Their interactions are funny and sweet and while Henry is challenging Sarah to come out of her shell, she is allowing him to be responsible and serious in his own unique way.

Sarah was a particularly interesting character.  She has an air of innocence worthy of any potential bride of a prince, but she also has spunk and quirks that make her fun and modern.  I genuinely liked her and I loved how she is willing to see the man and not the prince.

This story is willing to be blatantly romantic.  There is a gauze of fairy tale over the entire story, but I thought that worked well for this story (which is different from the reality in the first book in the series).  I loved the book and if I had one complaint it is that I would like to see more of this couple together and happy because they have work to do in the world.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is told in alternating first person point of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ROYALLY MATCHED is the second book in the Royally series.  While the romance is independent in this book, I think it is better to read the first book to understand more about Henry.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Release Day Launch: Mastering Her Senses

MASTERING HER SENSES - RDL banner

 

 

Decadent… Sensual… Forbidden…

12 Masters. 12 Desires. 12 Fantasies Come to Life.
Meet the Masters of Blasphemy…

 

 

MASTERING HER SENSES - Cover

About MASTERING HER SENSES (Blasphemy #2, 2/21/17):

12 Masters. Infinite fantasies. Welcome to Blasphemy…

He wants to dominate her senses—and her heart…

Quinton Ross has always been a thrill-seeker—so it’s no surprise that he’s drawn to extremes in the bedroom and at his BDSM club, Blasphemy, where he creates sense-depriving scenarios that blow submissives’ minds. Now if he could just find one who needs the rush as much as him…

When an accident leaves Cassia Locke with a paralyzing fear of the dark, she’ll try anything to get help. Ready to fight, she knows just who to ask for help—the hard-bodied, funny-as-hell Dom she’d always crushed on—and once stood up.

Quinton is shocked and a little leery to see Cassia, but he can’t pass up the chance to dominate the alluring little sub this time. Introducing her to sensory deprivation becomes his new favorite obsession, and watching her fight fear is its own thrill. But when doubt threatens to send her running again, Quinton must find a way to master her senses—and her heart.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

 

MasteringHerSensense_Teaser_1_AvailableNow

Add to your Goodreads

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

BLASPHEMY - 12 Masters banner

Books in Series:

Hard to Serve #.5

Bound to Submit #1

Mastering Her Senses #2 – 2/21/17

Eyes on You #3 – 7/11/17

 

 

 

MASTERING HER SENSES - FB party graphic

Join the MASTERING HER SENSES Facebook Party on February 21st!
JOIN THE PARTY HERE!

 

 

Laura Kaye - author picAbout Laura Kaye:

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirty books in contemporary and erotic romance and romantic suspense, including the Blasphemy, Hard Ink, and Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. Laura also writes historical fiction as the NYT bestselling author, Laura Kamoie. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

 

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter SignUp

 

InkSlinger blogger banner

Save

Review: Wildfire

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: WildfireWildfire (Fire, #3) by Anne Stuart
Series: Fire #3
Published by Amazon Digital Services on February 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 290
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I really enjoyed this story because there is serious drama and suspense as Sophie and Malcolm are trapped on the island with Sophie’s insane husband. The pacing and characters makes this a very enjoyable book.

THE STORY: Sophie Jordan was an operative with the Committee until she fell in love and married a target of her investigation.  He turned out to be a psychopath and an arms dealer.  Once her husband found out that she had lied to him, he tried to have her killed.  Instead, Sophie was left parallelized and at the mercy of her husband.  Malcolm Gunnison, undercover as an arms dealer, comes to the island in order to finish the job that Sophie botched.  He’s going to discover Sophie’s husband’s new biological weapon and then kill him.  Mal will also kill Sophie if necessary or if she gets in his way.

OPINION: I am a huge fan of Stuart’s Ice series.  Several of those books are on my all time favorites list.  Until this book, the Fire books have been okay but don’t begin to approach the amazing Ice books.  I’m happy to report, however, that WILDFIRE, while not as superlative as the best Ice books, is definitely worthy of being in the same universe.

I really liked Sophie in this story because as the book begins she has been in a deadly battle of wills with her evil husband. I prefer this damaged and dangerous heroine over the sweet innocent.  Sophie made mistakes in her past and has paid for it for years.  Now she is ready to win her freedom and kill her husband, if possible.  She also is immune from handsome dangerous men — or so she believes.  Of course, she find herself reluctantly attracted to the dangerous Mal. The combination of innocence, cynicism, ability to survive and desire to be free makes Sophie’s character one that I desired to follow her journey.

Mal is a nicer Stuart hero than most in these series.  While he begins the book entirely willing to kill Sophie if necessary — or even if she is somewhat inconvenient to him — he quickly begins to fall for her as well.  And although he does some bad things in this book, he is not as dark as some of Stuart’s heroes.  I liked his competence, his determination to do what is necessary and his total commitment to his mission — until, of course, Sophie begins to upset this world.

The story is tense and filled with danger and drama.  There is always the question of the motives of the various characters. I liked that there is almost constant danger with the characters.  From the first page, the characters are in precarious positions and that made the story go quickly.  By having all the action of the book take place on a private island with limited characters and danger all around, the constant sense of peril is preserved.  I liked the story and the development of the characters as they progress.

While not reaching the heights of the best Ice books, this book is the best of the Fire series so far.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The Fire series is about the American branch of the Committee, an anti-terrorism group that uses whatever means necessary, including murder, to stop terrorists.  The series this spins off from, the ICE series, has characters which are mentioned or make appearances in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WILDFIRE is the third book in the Fire series.  This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

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

four-half-stars

Review: The Scoundrel’s Honor

Review: The Scoundrel’s HonorThe Scoundrel's Honor (Sinful Brides, #2) by Christi Caldwell
Series: Sinful Brides #2
Published by Amazon Digital Services on February 14th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 354
Goodreads
four-stars

“Somewhere between Ryker Black’s rise from guttersnipe to ruthless owner of the Hell and Sin Club, the world had learned — one did not cross him, interrupt him, or interfere with his dealings.  Ever.”

FINAL DECISION:  A story that has a lot of drama, this book stays on the surface of the emotions of the characters.  That makes what might otherwise be a dark book interesting but not compelling.  I enjoyed the book because of the characters especially the heroine.

THE STORY:  Lady Penelope Tidemore is having her debut and she intends on being proper in a family full of scandals.  Unfortunately, at the first opportunity, Penny ends up in a bigger scandal than anyone else.  She is caught in a compromising situation with Ryker Black, the bastard son of a duke and the owner of a gaming hell.  There is little choice but for Penelope to marry Ryker but is there any hope for this marriage between strangers from such different worlds?

OPINION:  This book takes what might be a dark subject and keeps the pacing and story on a less dramatic level.  The book lacks the depths of a dark, angsty novel with the same subject matter, but it has a sweetness and gentleness to the story that will appeal to readers who want a little bite to their stories without delving into darkness.

In many romance novels, it is the hero whose characters I tend to like more.  Here, I liked Penelope the most in the book.  Here is a woman who is raised among a loving and privileged family.  The worst thing she has to worry about is gossip and scandal about her family. When she is thrust into Ryker’s world, she makes attempts to bring some of her lightness and gentleness into his world.  While he continues to reject her, she is determined to make this new world a better place and bring some of her hominess and family to bear on the new family she gains.

Ryker is a self-made man who struggles with what he had to do to survive. He is guilt ridden and at his core afraid.  He hides all the seething emotions inside himself with order and rules and coldness.  Penelope comes into his life with her constant chatting and her innocent belief that she can make things work out. She is a dreamer who won’t allow the reality of life to sap her of her optimism.  Ryker just doesn’t know how to deal with that.  I liked watching his world as he has constructed it crumble under Penelope’s gentle ruthlessness.

For me the characters were the highlight of this book.  The romance in this book happens incredibly fast and there is so much animosity between these characters at times, it is hard to believe that they so quickly fall for one another.  My second complaint is that this book uses almost exactly the same sequence of events as the first book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Penelope’s younger sister HAS to get a book someday!

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE SCOUNDREL’S HONOR is the second book in the Sinful Brides series.  The hero in this book is the brother of the heroine in the first book.  The story is self contained and can be read on its own although I recommend reading the first book in order to better understand the 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 positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: The Rogue’s Wager

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: The Rogue’s WagerThe Rogue's Wager (Sinful Brides, #1) by Christi Caldwell
Series: Sinful Brides #1
Published by Amazon Digital Services on October 25th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 338
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  The book started out slow, but as it progressed and the characters revealed more about themselves, I loved how the two of them were similar in unexpected ways.

THE STORY:  Robert Dennington, Marquess of Westfield, has spent years in aimless pursuits after having been betrayed. The heir to a dukedom, Robert allows himself to wallow in drunkenness and vice one night.  On that night, he ends up at the Hell and Sin Club and in the rooms of Helena Banbury, who lives at the gaming hell and is the bookkeeper for the enterprise. That night ends up changing Helena’s night as she is sent to live with her father, a duke. It is difficult for an illegitimate daughter in the aristocratic world but Helena ends up meeting Robert again and making a deal for his pretend courtship of her so that she can discourage other men.

OPINION: This book has a quick opening gambit as Helena and Robert end up in a compromising position, but then the book slows way down when Helena goes to live with her father.  I found much of the first part of the book disjointed and the pacing slow.  There are just too many things going on and the story didn’t really focus on the couple.

Eventually, however, the story began to concentrate on Helena and Robert and that is when I became more engaged with the book.  I did like these characters, especially Helena.  She is a woman who is determined to control her own life despite the efforts of the men in it.  She is intelligent and has made a place for herself in her brother’s gaming hell.

Robert is a hidden sweetheart.  A man who is a romantic at heart but has been burned and thus chosen to cut himself off from his hopes of love. He quickly sees worth in Helena even though she is scarred and illegitimate. His courtship of Helena was my favorite part in the book (from their waltz lessons to his final romantic gesture to win her).

Despite the uneven nature of this book, the characters really pulled out the story in the end. It was their personality, their relationship and their triumph that I cheered.

WORTH MENTIONING:  I love a heroine who is talented in math — and Helena is even better than the men in her life.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE ROGUE’S WAGER is the first book in the Sinful Brides series.  The characters here are connected to prior Caldwell series, but this book is a standalone.  I have not read the prior series but didn’t need to in order to get the full impact of this book.  This book did, however, raise my interest in reading the prior series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Echoes in Death

Review: Echoes in DeathEchoes in Death (In Death, #44) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #44
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 7th 2017
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 400
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A good mystery story, this book has some nice twists.  I miss the intensity and drama of Eve’s personal life.  She’s so settled now that it is a nice respite, but there is no doubt that the earlier books in the series were more compelling.

THE STORY:  NY Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas is driving home with her billionaire husband Roarke when a naked, disoriented and abused woman runs out.  Daphne Strazza has been held hostage in her home, abused and raped.  When Eve goes to investigate, she finds that Daphne’s husband has been murdered.  As Eve and her family and friends investigate, they find that someone is targeting couples.

OPINION: I first want to explain that I have been reading this series since the beginning — over 20 years.  I early await every new installment of the series.  I will also confess that I prefer the earlier books in the series where there was more conflict in Eve’s life.  That being said, after 40 plus books, I don’t expect the characters or their situation to remain the same.  Now Eve is more balanced, more centered and more peaceful.  As a result, there is less personal drama in the recent books in this series.

Without the personal drama, the story rests far more on the actual mystery/crime being solved.  This one is pretty good on that account.  Eve is investigating a serial rapist who always involves a couple. I thought the way the story evolved and revealed itself created a sense of tension and drama.  Longtime readers will know that sex crimes take a toll on Eve because of her past and her handling of this one demonstrates how strong and open she has become.  There is definite pleasure in seeing that development while readers who haven’t followed the entire journey can enjoy the mystery.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Usually I don’t find the mysteries in these books compelling (with a few exceptions).  This time I thought the mystery was well constructed and worth trying to figure out.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ECHOES IN DEATH is the forty-fourth book in the In Death (Eve Dallas) series.  The book has a self contained mystery and there is not much continuing storyline although a new reader would have to pick up on the world and the characters without much explanation.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: The Duke

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: The DukeThe Duke (Victorian Rebels, #4) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Victorian Rebels #4
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on February 7th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Life, with all its perils and torments, still belongs to the living. We have a responsibility to live it. You should not waste it by giving over to bleak despair.”

FINAL DECISION:  Once again a wonderful exploration of the darkness that lies in men’s souls and the possibility of love and hope to heal.  A battle between two strong characters make this a worthy addition to the Victorian Rebels series.

THE STORY:  Three years ago, the life of Collin “Cole” Talmage, Duke of Talmage, seemed charmed until his family was killed and he ended up betrayed by one he trusted and imprisoned for a year in a Ottoman cell. What kept him sane during that year was his memory of his encounter with “Ginny” a sweet prostitute with whom he spent his last night in England.  When he is returned to England, emaciated, recovering from torture, and missing hand, he almost dies until an impertinent nurse Imogen Pritchard risks her position to get him the treatment he needed.  Now two years later, Cole has learned to live with his missing hand but his spirits reside in darkness.  He has been searching unsuccessfully for Ginny. He has also been watching the widow next door, Lady Anstruther, who managed to convince an elderly man to marry her with him dying soon after.  Ironically, Lady Anstruther is the nurse who saved his life. What Cole doesn’t know is that Imogen is also the “Ginny” for whom he has been searching.

OPINION:  Another fabulous entry in the amazing Victorian Rebels series, Byrne continues her exploration of the darkness in the human soul and how that darkness can be softened with the power of love and hope.

“I’ve spent so long searching for her, and yet I fear that I’d pass her in the street and not recognize her.”

As the book opens, Cole has just begun to take the hits to his golden boy status.  He inherits the title because of the death of his family.  When he meets and beds Ginny, he doesn’t recognize her as the frightened and desperate woman she is, but he does find something peaceful and comforting with her.  Enough such that a year of torture and hellish conditions made her his touchstone. He has never forgotten her and is determined to find and rescue her.   Perhaps because the memory of Ginny was what helped Cole keep his sanity.  The year in prison changed Cole.  And he is still suffering from the emotional after effects of his horrendous experiences.

“He didn’t need the help of the devil. Case in point, these fits of wrath and unreasonable terror that made Cole want to do unspeakable things. These moments when what he feared the very most was himself…He was barely keeping himself together. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt peace or pity. No, that wasn’t true. He could remember. It has been precisely three years ago. With Ginny.”

Although people see the physical results of Cole’s time as a prisoner, it is the emotional damage that is the most significant. He has been keeping himself together by way of “regulation, convention, and order.”  It is ironically Imogen who threatens to break Cole’s will.  She challenges him by shaking his control. Cole first attacks her because he believes her a villain for marrying a sick and elderly man. She is a woman who should not be living next door to him at all. She seems to be flaunting the very rules that Cole wants to rely upon. While she shakes his control, she also is giving him purpose and a sense of hope even as they argue and engage in combat.

“But the countess Anstruther met his dark look with a mulish one of her own. God, it had been a long time since he’d felt so frustrated, so infuriated. It was…rather glorious.”

I loved Cole. He is a good man who was drawn far into the darkness. He has struggled to survive and doesn’t know how to begin to live again. Although he has relied upon order to control his anger and pain, he really is an unconventional soul who responds to Imogen’s own unconventional nature.  What he really needs is for Imogen to gather him into her arms and comfort him…he just doesn’t know it.

I usually love the heroes most in a romance, but in this book, I think Imogen was my favorite character. She begins the story by allowing herself to be a victim, but gains strength and purpose as the events of her life spiral out of control. By the time she and Cole meet again, Imogen has found a purpose in her life. She is determined to do all she can to help those who need a hand up — especially vulnerable women and children. Acutely recognizing her own savior in her deceased husband, she will use everything she gained as a result of her marriage to help others.  But, that comes with a cost.  She must keep secret from Cole her beginnings as Ginny because she fears that the revelation of her secret will destroy all her good works. Because she must keep her secrets, there is no chance for her and Cole to have a relationship, no matter how much she wants one.

Imogen has managed to keep hold of her hope and lightness despite the pain and travails of her life. It is her kindness and gentleness that calls to the pain in Cole and it is his pain that calls to her to comfort him. From their first meeting, she feels his pain (which only increases due to his capture and torture). Her spirit is called to him to heal and protect. But I also loved that Imogen is no pushover.  She is determined to do her charity work (even if it costs her Cole). She is stubborn and artistic and fierce. She will do what she must to protect those she loves.

“if she believed in everything, it was that everyone deserved a second chance.”

The journey that Cole and Imogen take involves chance.  The chance to reveal their true damaged selves to one another. The chance to move from darkness into light and hope.  These two need three chances to actually find their happy ending, but by the time it comes, the two have earned their peace and happiness.

This was a beautiful romance and a great addition to a series that I have loved. I was also gratified to see all the couples from the previous books make appearances here. There is a real community of people developing and I hope that this trend continues in future books.

WORTH MENTIONING:  For fans of Inspector Morley, there are indications that his story is turning in new directions.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE DUKE is the fourth book in the Victorian Rebels series.  This romance is self contained although there are overlapping characters.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

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

four-half-stars

Review: Somebody Like You

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: Somebody Like YouSomebody Like You (Darling, VT #1) by Donna Alward
Series: Darling, VT #1
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on February 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Those who stood on the bridge and sealed their love with a kiss would be together forever.”

FINAL DECISION:  A book with a wonderful sense of heart, I absolutely loved this one.  Wholesome and sweet with just enough humor and angst to keep the story exciting, my first Donna Alward novel made me immediately preorder the rest of the series so that I can find out the fates of the other characters.

THE STORY:  Laurel Stone has returned to her hometown after a failed marriage which necessitated a change in careers.  Laurel now owns the Ladybug Garden Center which is reconnecting her with the outdoors that she loved growing up.  Laurel’s return to Darling also ends up reconnecting her to Aiden Gallagher who broke her heart when they were a teenagers.  Aiden is now a police officer in town.  Aiden and Laurel have a long history together and, in fact, they are legends because they are depicted in the most famous picture in town.  As small children, Aiden and Laurel innocently kissed on the Kissing Bridge where legend holds that those who kiss there will be together forever.  Now the town wants to update the photo using Aiden and Laurel again, but Laurel is in no mood to cooperate.

OPINION: A lovely, heart warming small town romance, SOMEBODY LIKE YOU was a book that I read only because it was offered to me to review.  I accepted the chance to review the book intrigued by the Kissing Bridge and the idea that two people who were photographed on it as children get a chance at romance as adults.  Sometimes I just have to take a wild chance and see what happens.

I’m happy to report that this was a wonderful book.  Funny, sweet, and heartwarming.  Once I began reading it, I couldn’t put it down.  The story satisfied something in me that likes the gentle and real relationships.  (I love angsty dramas but this book isn’t that type of book.  Instead, this book feels like sweet and cold ice cream on a summer’s day — recognizable and incredibly satisfying).

Laurel is a woman recovering from the end of a marriage that made her question all her assumptions about her own future and happy endings.  She is generous and willing to help others even to her own detriment.  She is unwilling to purposely hurt others and that had led her to be taken advantage of by some…but it also opens her up to being wonderful in helping those who genuinely need assistance.  I loved that she is a normal woman who is struggling to determine what she wants from life.  She works hard, is charitable and has to work through her mixed emotions for not only Aiden but her ex-husband.

Aiden is so much a normal guy that I never expected him to become one of my favorite romantic heroes.  Like so many of us, he made mistakes as a teenager.  In his case, it resulted in him hurting Laurel which is something he never intended to do. He is considered the goofball of his family, but like so many clowns, his humor hides a sensitive soul. Aiden is a man who wants to make a difference out of the genuine goodwill in his heart. Caring for a homeless man, solving small town disputes and crimes, and being an important part of his family is a normal day for Aiden.  Laurel and her pain and love brings out Aiden’s desire to care for her.

I loved the romance between Aiden and Laurel. Two people who have known one another all their lives, their interactions have been a series of getting to know one another and then moving apart.  Their romance seemed to have possibilities as teenagers, but immaturity sent them spinning out into the world with other relationships.  Meeting again as adults, the two know one anther but don’t truly know the inner self of the other.  But this time, Aiden and Laurel begin to discover the true self under all the superficial.  Aiden sees the generous and hurt woman under Laurel calm facade and Laurel discovers the deep and caring man under Aiden’s humorous surface.

I’m all for large romantic gestures, and Aiden’s final one made me sigh and smile and read again.  When I began the book, I had expectations and I liked how the book played with those expectations, turned them around and then surpassed what I expected from the final scenes.  Bravo!

The town of Darling manages to feel both incredibly normal and real and also quaint and a typical small town.  The characters are quirky and bring a tremendous amount of humor to the book.  I just knew when I finished this book that I had to read the next books in the series.  And so I shall…see my reviews soon.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book doesn’t contain explicit “on screen” sex and is perfect for those who might want a less graphic and yet entirely satisfying romance.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  SOMEBODY LIKE YOU is the first book in the Darling, VT series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

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

four-half-stars

Review: Fascinated

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: FascinatedFascinated: The Wicked Woodleys by Jess Michaels
Series: The Wicked Woodleys #6
Published by Passionate Pen on February 7th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 72
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Michaels first m/m romance has sweet characters and enough drama to keep interest. I liked this wrap up book for the series especially because these characters are finally getting their redemption after somewhat negative histories in the series.

THE STORY:  Griffin Merrick (the brother of Letty from SEDUCED) is attracted to men but keeping that information from his family. He is especially attracted to Aaron Condit, a solicitor and man of business.  Aaron is one of Letty’s dearest friends despite their complicated past.  Aaron was the lover of Letty’s deceased husband. He doesn’t want to do anything to hurt Letty again but he is really attracted to Griffin but is determined to keep his distance.  When the two attend Letty’s house party, Griffin decides to take a chance and tell Aaron his feelings.

OPINION:  This was a fine conclusion to the Wicked Woodleys series.  These were characters that I liked tremendously, had great sympathy and interest in their journey and for whom I was glad to root for their happy ending.  My one complaint is that the story was very short and therefore some of the complexities were too quickly resolved…but that is always a risk with novellas.

Griffin has grown and matured since the events of SEDUCED. We meet him as he knows who he is but hasn’t come out to his family.  (Of course, revealing that one was gay at the time risked criminal charges). He has met Aaron while visiting places which cater to their particular interest in men.  The two have a lingering attraction to one another but haven’t taken any steps to move forward.  A house party with family and friends gives Griffin the opportunity to make a move on Aaron.

Aaron is still suffering from his actions in being the lover of Letty’s husband.  Even though he is attracted to Griffin, he is not willing to hurt Letty again.  Because of this, he resists his fascination to Griffin — for a while.  I really liked these two and I worried throughout the book for their safety. The book gives a dark and pretty grim (and realistic) depiction of the challenges the two face. The fact that the two of them can manage to love one another in the face of all the threats against them demonstrated their strength and commitment to one another.

There is a nice twist at the end of the story (which I began to suspect) and which I really loved. Fans of the Wicked Woodleys series, especially SEDUCED get a nice update on the characters as well.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a m/m romance and a short novella.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  FASCINATED is the sixth book in the Wicked Woodleys series.  This book can be read as a standalone although reading SEDUCED will give the background of both of the main characters (but that background is summarized here).

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 positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: Tempting Zander

Review: Tempting ZanderTempting Zander (Knight Security, #4) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Knight Security #4
Published by Smashwords Edition on January 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: A good story but nothing overly special.  I enjoyed this as a one time read.

THE STORY:  Zander Buchanan is brought in as head of security for Kate Stewart, a superstar singer. Kate has an ex-boyfriend who is stalking her and she has hired Knight Security to supplement her normal security.  Zander has wanted Kate desperately even as he is exasperated by her. He knows he has to keep his distance to do his job.  She’s hot for him, too.

OPINION:  This is a perfectly adequate story if a bit predictable.  Zander and Kate are fighting their attraction, there is danger from the ex and the ultimate resolution and happy ending.  The characters were nice enough but a bit forgettable.  The best part of the book for me was a scene between Zander and Kate in a store dressing room which was completely memorable. The book was in the category for me of a book that I enjoyed while reading but won’t be one that I think of returning to…except for maybe that dressing room scene.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a short novella.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  TEMPTING ZANDER is the fourth book in the Knight Security series.  Although there are some overlapping characters, this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars