Review: For 100 Nights

Review: For 100 NightsFor 100 Nights (100 Series, #2) by Lara Adrian
on January 16th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“At times in these past few months we’ve been together, I’ve wondered if there are other scars he doesn’t allow me to see. I know there must be, because the broken parts of me recognize the fractures in him, even if he hasn’t permitted me close enough to touch them yet.”

FINAL DECISION:  A middle book that, for me, exceeded the first book in the series. Avery and Nick are navigating their broken parts in this series.  As Avery’s demons recede in this book, we are given an introduction to Nick’s secrets that end in a cliffhanger revelation.

THE STORY:  In the first book in the series FOR 100 DAYS, Avery Ross, struggling artist, agrees to apartment sit in a luxury apartment building.  There, she meets Dominic Baine, billionaire. The two begin a relationship although Avery is keeping secrets.  She allows Nick to believe that she is wealthy as well; Avery also is hiding the fact that her mother is in jail for killing her husband who raped Avery when she was sixteen.  After Avery’s secrets are revealed in FOR 100 DAYS, Nick demands that Avery give into him with complete trust for 100 Nights.  And thus this book begins. The two are now living together and Avery and Nick are drawing closer together although both still have secrets.

OPINION: I would like to get a preliminary matter out of the way.  This book is part of a trilogy which is about the same couple. I don’t take complaints about this fact seriously. Adrian is certainly allowed to construct her story in that manner.  There is nothing hidden about the construction of this story so potential readers should know what to expect.

This book picks up right where the prior book ends. Nick and Avery are engaged in a relationship and are now living together. Avery continues to have secrets from Nick. As the book proceeds, Avery gains in confidence and strength as a woman as this book continues until the revelation at the end.  She is now strong enough to be her own person.

In this book Nick becomes more concrete as a person and less mysterious.. His secrets begin to be unraveled as Avery draws closer to him and his world. This book humanizes him as he begins to reveal his emotional attachment to Avery and as his past is disclosed. In the first book, Nick appears as the stereotypical romantic billionaire with a dark and mysterious past, but in this book he truly gains his humanity as the story moves towards its conclusion.

This book continues the intense, sexy relationship between Nick and Avery but the story contains a sense of drama and plot moving forward. This book ended far too soon for me and I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

If the first book of the series was about Avery and her problems, this book ends that arc and begins an exploration of Nick’s past.  It constitutes the connection between these characters and I expect that the final book in this trilogy will finally expose Nick’s secrets.

I liked this book better than the first in the series because I did feel that this book developed these characters further and because I can now see the outlines of where this story is going. My only reservation is that I have been burned before by these romance in various parts stories. I reserve the right to downgrade all these books if the ending is bad.  Because each of these books depends upon the other, each book is not complete in and of itself, no matter how much I liked the first two books, if it doesn’t end well, I will not be satisfied with what I have read so far.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book ends on the cliffhanger as the book is part of a trilogy.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  FOR 100 NIGHTS is the second book in the 100 trilogy about Avery and Nick.  The trilogy is all about their relationship and thus the books should be read together and in order.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Full Package

Review: Full PackageFull Package by Lauren Blakely
Series: Holiday/Hammer #6
Published by Lauren Blakely Books on January 9th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 300
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Enjoyable, sweet and funny friends to lovers romance.  I really liked these characters as people and their concerns and fears about losing their friendship felt real and I liked that they had problems but were not stupid.  Made me smile and sigh.

STORY:  Chase and Josie have been friends for years.  Chase has also had a thing for Josie for years but refuses to act upon it because he doesn’t want to destroy their friendship.  When Chase is looking for an apartment and Josie is looking for a roommate, the two decide to share an apartment.  The close quarters bring the two together, but how do friends become lovers and still remain friends at the end?

OPINION:  I found this story very enjoyable. For me, it is central that the characters maintain my interest.  Chase is a doctor and a genuine good guy.  But not too good a guy!  A doctor, he likes to entertain Josie with funny cases that come to him. I liked his humor, his good nature and his real desire to keep a relationship with Josie.

Josie is a baker who concentrates on desserts. As the book begins, she is online dating — even though she has been burned before.  She is quirky and very physical and just adorable (especially to Chase).

I appreciated that Chase and Josie were not stupid in their problems with one another.  I felt their real desire to keep their friendship. Their deep feelings for one another send them astray as they fear trying for something more because they risk the friendship that they have.  Their genuineness and honest deep feelings for one another made me accept even when these characters needed to talk to one another.  Fear of losing one another makes them both afraid to confess their feelings.

This book is about these characters.  There is not real external plot.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The book has a number of Josie’s recipes included.  Not only are they actual recipes, but Blakely uses them in a creative way to further the storyline of the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  FULL PACKAGE is the sixth book in the series of books (unnamed by Blakely) that I’ve called the Holiday/Hammer series.  Each book can be read on its own, but there are connecting characters.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Wyoming Brave

Review: Wyoming BraveWyoming Brave (Wyoming Men #6) by Diana Palmer
Series: Wyoming Men #6
Published by HQN Books on December 27th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A typical Palmer romance with an experienced hero who misjudges the sweet innocent heroine and then regrets it.  I liked this book but it doesn’t elevate Palmer’s formula but rather stays strictly within its boundaries.

THE STORY:  Ren Colter has closed himself off after his fiancee’s betrayal. Everyone is therefore surprised — even Ren — that he allows Meredith Grayling to stay at his ranch. Meredith is hiding from a stalker. Nervous and afraid, Meredith is dealing not only with her current threat but past abuse as well.  The alpha male feels his protective instincts go in overdrive over the innocent Meredith and her gentleness might soothe Ren’s battered soul.

OPINION:  I’ve read Palmer’s books for over thirty years. Her readers know that she has a formula for her books. Her characters often — and almost always in recent years — live in small western towns.  There is usually an experienced but romantically betrayed man who meets up with an inexperienced woman.  He mistakes her for experienced, treats her poorly, finds out the truth and then spends the rest of the book groveling.

I know what I’m getting in one of her novels and sometimes the characters make the story fantastic.  This book was just okay for me. The characters were nice — and even the hero wasn’t too jerky — but I didn’t feel that the characters expanded the formula nor were they so compelling that I thought — “wow!  I’m like to read this again”.

Enjoyable for the time I spent reading it and ultimately forgettable as a book.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book actually is a crossover book with Palmer’s Long, Tall Texans series with appearance by characters from that series.  Seeing characters that I’ve

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WYOMING BRAVE is the sixth book in the Wyoming Men series.  It can be read as a standalone although pretty much all of Palmer’s books are connected these days with characters appearing from different books and series.  This book is most closely connected with DEFENDER.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Commander in Chief

Review: Commander in ChiefCommander in Chief (White House, #2) by Katy Evans
Series: White House Series #2
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on January 5th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

“I don’t want to forget that for a little while, Matt Hamilton — forty-sixth president of the United States — was mine.”

FINAL DECISION:  I love Matt and Charlotte’s story which is incredibly romantic and at times feels like a political fairy tale but the story requires readers to read MR. PRESIDENT first. Necessary reading for those who read MR. PRESIDENT, this book concludes Matt and Charlotte’s story.

THE STORY:  This book begins two months after the events of MR. PRESIDENT.  Charlotte has tried to get over being in love with the President-Elect Matt Hamilton.  She knew when they began their affair that it would not last because Matt is dedicated to the well being of the country (one of the reasons she fell for him) and the assassination of his father has convinced him that he cannot have a relationship while being President.

Two months without Charlotte has made Matt realize that he cannot be without her.  At the same time, Charlotte knows that she doesn’t have the qualities needed in a First Lady.  But Matt is determined to convince her otherwise.

OPINION: I loved the first book in this series MR. PRESIDENT.  This book was not quite as good primarily because I liked the drama of Matt and Charlotte just falling in love.  In this book, the two of them have to decide what sacrifices they are willing to make to be together.

Both Charlotte and Matt have trepidation in actually committing to their relationship.  For Matt, it means possibly reliving the mistakes of his father who had been president himself, at times ignored his own family and ended up assassinated.  For Charlotte, it means being entirely visible to the public, her life and love open to the possible jackals waiting to attack.  She doesn’t know if she is strong enough to be the woman at Matt’s side.

This is the story of two people making their relationship work. There is never any real challenge to these two being in love and wanting to be together.  The question is a real one in the world — is love enough?

Honestly, however, this presidential romance is really more of a fairy tale. The politics, media and public is too accommodating and easy for the characters to navigate.  That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the book, I certainly did.  But if you are looking at a realistic look at politics surrounding this couple, you won’t find it here.  Instead, this book is a romantic fairy tale.

The romance and fairy tale quality of this book is a good contrast to the current politics. I loved the intense and open romanticism of this book.  My only warning comment is that the book really requires the first book in the series (this is more like a part 2 rather than an independent book).

WORTH MENTIONING:  The one phrase I’m never going to be able to forget in this book is “big presidential c**k”.  That tells you want you need to know about the sensibilities of this book, you can make your own determination if this book is for you.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  COMMANDER IN CHIEF is the second book in the White House series.  This book continues the romance between Matt and Charlotte and is intended to be read after the first book.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars and 4.5 stars for both books together.

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.

four-stars

Review: Intense Pleasure

Review: Intense PleasureIntense Pleasure by Lora Leigh
Series: Bound Hearts #14
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

“Their weakness.”

FINAL DECISION: A menage story, but more than that.  This is a great suspense story with some hot sexy moments with two brothers and their fellow agent thrown in.

THE STORY: After years of working as an agent, Summer has had enough.  But when her identity is revealed and an enemy intends to eliminate her, two men who worked closely with her for years come to help her.  Falcon and Raeg are half-brothers who share their work and their women.  Now they want to protect Summer and there is a strong attraction between them all.  But Falcon and Raeg have secrets of their own and it might mean that having summer will break the brothers apart.

OPINION:  This book is grounded in the suspense story of the man hunting Summer and also the secrets that Falcon and Raeg have. There are two dangerous stories at play here and plenty of action to satisfy readers.

Summer is a complex woman.  A longtime agent, she can take care of herself.  Yet Falcon and Raeg are surprised by the woman they see when she is with her family. She is sexually attracted to both men and willing to engage in a relationship that many would see as extreme and yet Summer is also entirely emotionally attached to these two men from the beginning.  She is hurt by the standoff nature of Raeg. She is also haunted by the necessity of her killing the woman she thought of as her best friend — even though the woman betrayed Summer and resulted in the enemy who is hunting Summer now.

Falcon is the most approachable of the brothers. Charming and easy going is what people see in him and yet he also possesses a dominant side which comes out with Summer.  I loved that Falcon likes brushing Summer’s hair.  That attribute is so sweet and yet so sexy. He is the more open of the brothers to Summer’s allure. Although he wants his brother as part of their relationship, he insists that Raeg be an equal partner and not absent himself emotionally from the relationship.

Raeg is especially haunted by the brothers past.  While Falcon can accept that they might not be able to hold Summer forever and yet wants what he can have today, Raeg is afraid of emotionally opening himself up.  He is the dark, brooding, jerky brother. His dominance is dark and especially strong. It is his emotional journey which makes up most of the romantic conflict in this story.

The relationship in this book is complex. The two brothers are different and each fulfills something different for Summer. Having a triangle romance emotionally is a difficult enterprise especially where there are secrets and difficulties that the brothers are not revealing. Half of this book is about the developing relationship between the three main characters and the remainder is the suspense story which keeps the plot moving quickly.

The one weakness of this story is that what happened with these characters before the beginning of this book appears central to the connection between these characters (working together and being “friends” for eight years) and yet that building of the relationship is completely absent.  Everything happens offstage and thus truly feeling the connection between these characters is more difficult to feel for the first half of the book.

Despite this, I enjoyed this book and it fits right in the Bound Hearts series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a MMF romance with an emotional as well as a sexual relationship between each of the men and the woman.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  INTENSE PLEASURE is the fourteenth book in the Bound Hearts series, but this book can be read as a standalone.

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: 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
Goodreads
three-stars

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.

three-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
Goodreads
four-half-stars

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.

four-half-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
Goodreads
four-stars

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.

four-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
Goodreads
three-half-stars

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.

three-half-stars

Review: Star-Crossed Lovers

Review: Star-Crossed LoversStar-Crossed Lovers by Kay Hooper
Series: Once Upon a Time #5
Published by Loveswept on December 13th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 244
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Classic Hatfield/McCoy, Romeo and Juliet tale about two people who were born to hate one another and yet fell in love. The story also has a romantic suspense element as the two need to discover who wants to make sure that hate prevails.

THE STORY:  A modern day Romeo and Juliet.  The Logans and the Stuarts have been enemies for five centuries. In every generation there is an opportunity for the families to avoid the feud or make it personal and more bitter.  Michele Logan and Ian Stuart unexpectedly meet on a tropical island away from the feuding families and while there is no personal enmity between them. there is a wariness caused by the feud.  There is also a deep attraction.  The question is whether they can overcome the feud or be completely subsumed by it.

OPINION:  I’m a sucker for the family feud stories. This one is particularly well done as Michele especially feels the programming done by her family to hate the Stuarts — including Ian. There is the real chance that love is not enough to overcome five hundred years of hate. The story also has a little romantic suspense element as the question arises what is actually happening between these families in the present day.

Angst, drama, suspense, two people destined to be apart but drawn inexorably together. Just my kind of catnip.  I read this book when it was originally published and I had forgotten how much I liked it then. It expanded my idea of what a good romance could be when it was written.  The romantic suspense with just a bit of magic became the direction that Kay Hooper went when she stopped writing pure romance.  This book shows the beginning of her journey in that direction.

This book was written as an “extra-long” category series book and thus doesn’t have the full complexity one might expect from a full length novel, but I seriously liked the drama between the characters, their intense desire to hold on to the love that it developing between them and the little bit of good fortune that comes their way.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book was previously published in the early 1990s.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  STAR-CROSSED LOVERS is book 5 in the Once Upon a Time series (although it was published 6th).  The series is only loosely connected by the matchmaker who briefly appears in each book so each book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars