29 October 2008

Review: Shannon McKenna - Standing In The Shadows

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Brava Books (October 20, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 075820454X
ISBN-13: 978-0758204547


Summary:
Ex-FBI agent Connor McCloud can never forget the day he was set up to die at the hands of trusted friend and fellow agent Ed Riggs. Hard justice and loyalty to his badge have cost Connor what he wants most - Ed's shy, studious daughter Erin. He can never have her now, but her beauty still haunts and torments his every waking hour and his most fevered erotic dreams. But now that his old enemy Kurt Novak has returned, Connor is prepared to do anything to protect the vulnerable young woman from a killer who has vowed a brutal payback...a killer with a predator's lethal patience.


Erin has been harbouring secret fantasies about Connor McCloud since she first laid eyes on him - but that was before his testimony sent her father to jail. Her world is falling apart and it's all she can do to hold her family together. But now Connor is knocking on her door, telling her she needs his protection, whether she wants it or not. He won't give up and he won't stay away. He's sworn to guard her life with his own and his fierce protectiveness awakens long-buried feelings - and a fiery sexuality deep within her soul.

Review:
I went through a scope of emotions with Standing In The Shadow but one thing’s for sure, the characters had to grow on me. Nonetheless, the characteristic writing style of Shannon McKenna is all over this novel and the suspense is delivered with a top notch cast of evil doers. The eroticism is mind blistering and what can I say, McKenna knows how to deliver the goods when it comes to her male characters and opposing them to female heroines discovering their own strength!


Having said that, I couldn’t always grasp Connor and Erin in their reactions towards one another. Especially in the tedious first night of their passionate encounters. And the encounters were extensive, thorough and plenty, almost making me feel weary to read another hungry erotic scene between them. In this timeframe the suspense was stirred up again and when it got in the realm of interesting the story went back to another erotic scene between Connor and Erin. Now I’m all for the passion within a novel, especially the way Shannon McKenna gives voice to it, but it almost felt like that was all to this story making me wonder where the depth had gone.

But oh my, was I in for a surprise. Because after that night the story leaps into a plot wise spectacular story and the balance was found for me in a character and plot driven tale. It held moments of jet set action combined with emotionally drenched scenes that made the suspense thrive and its impact wasn't lost on me. It kept me completely spellbound to the pages again, focused on how it will all end.

Erin is a woman who hasn’t had a break in a long while since her father got arrested and now Connor casually sauntered back into her life, crowding her with his suspicions. Still, they have a history together and slumbering emotions are stirred back to life. Erin is the kind of woman you can easily empathize with and I cheered her on as she shed a bit of the “good girl vibe”, got some backbone and gave Connor as good as she got. In the end she managed to astonish me and leave me with a feeling Connor is in for one exciting adventure.

Connor was a bit of a mystery to unravel for me. At one side dark and complex with caveman moments and on the other side he also has all the attributes of a hero and doing the chivalrous thing. I just didn’t know what to do with him until Sean explained him to me. Now if there is one person who truly surprised me in the end it is Sean. He is the youngest brother in the McCloud clan. I thought at first he was a superficial, fun-loving, charm the skirt of any woman, kind of guy. In the end he knocked me of my feet with an intensity blazing from him, with this he showed me another side of him and he immediately went up my interest scale.

If there is one thing I also discovered in Standing In The Shadows, is that I can read on and on about the interactions between three close knit brothers. It radiates a masculine vibrancy that comes from a tough-as-nails attitude which is born from a different and difficult past. Davy is the oldest, Connor in the middle and Sean is the youngest of this incredible threesome. They all have their quirks, their strengths and weaknesses and each had something that appealed to me. Nothing will keep me from reading each McCloud story for I want to know each HEA, and each women who brings them there. Davy and Sean added an intimacy to Connor’s story that coiled into an emotionally riveting reading experience. It beckoned me to keep reading and the end, the end is why I love to read romance so much. Give me a McCloud any day of the week.

And then there’s Novak and his crew whom gave the plot a face of twisted righteousness and spoke of their diabolical pursuit of it. I found it interesting to see how Shannon McKenna can portray these characters. At first seemingly normal but their way of thinking is creepy and only makes perfect sense to them or serves them in some way. In the end good wants to victor over evil but the road is filled with insinuations, allegations and under minds the faith and trust the main hero and heroine have in one another.

This is the second novel I read in the McCloud series and though all the hallmark elements of Shannon McKenna were present again, it turned out to be a completely different story from Behind Closed Doors. Connor and Erin didn’t have me from the start but they sure made up for it by the time I closed their novel. I say go out and meet those gorgeous McCloud men and their friends!

Quote:Passion fused them together. All the truths of their hearts were known to each other. Nothing could be hidden, nothing held back. No boundaries, no borders. One being.



27 October 2008

Review: Karen Moning - Faefever

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (September 16, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385341636
ISBN-13: 978-0385341639

Summary:
He calls me his Queen of the Night. I’d die for him. I’d kill for him, too. When MacKayla Lane receives a torn page from her dead sister’s journal, she is stunned by Alina’s desperate words. And now MacKayla knows that her sister’s killer is close. But evil is closer. And suddenly the sidhe-seer is on the hunt: For answers. For revenge. And for an ancient book of dark magic so evil, it corrupts anyone who touches it.

Mac’s quest for the Sinsar Dubh takes her into the mean, shape-shifting streets of Dublin, with a suspicious cop on her tail. Forced into a dangerous triangle of alliance with V’lane, an insatiable Fae prince of lethally erotic tastes, and Jericho Barrons, a man of primal desires and untold secrets, Mac is soon locked in a battle for her body, mind, and soul.

As All Hallows’ Eve approaches and the city descends into chaos, as a shocking truth about the Dark Book is uncovered, not even Mac can prevent a deadly race of immortals from shattering the walls between worlds—with devastating consequences.…


Review:

The first hundred or so pages felt like dredging through mud as a lot of repetitive information is thrown at the reader. I remembered this also being a part of Bloodfever but this time it felt like torture of going through it all again and it bordered on becoming irritating. The pace fell flat with just a tiny morsel here and there of new information which kept me invested in Mac and her adventures by a thread. It was sheer stubbornness on my part that kept me going, until V’Lane and Barrons got more entangled into the storyline and spitting out some much needed information.

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it twice and I’ll say it again, Karen Moning knows how to portray exceptionally fascinating characters that speaks to the imagination. Her world is dark, it is crowded with Fae, Druids, Sidhe Seers and it is a feast for the Urban Fantasy reader to dwell in. I feel that there is one downside though, the plot is slow, almost too slow, and while the second half of this story definitely picked up on speed it somewhat diminished the overall joy in reading this tale. The second half is where the information starts to flow and feels like Karen Moning is up to her usual moving writing style. Things start to happen and I got intrigued to see alliances shift and other ones align, but by then I was already a 125 pages into the story of the 300 it counts. It is like watching a chess game where characters make choices and travel a road less traveled to encounter unexpected oponents. With the main players a cloak of mystery is still surrounding them and I’m not saying many answers are provided but what is revealed definitely stirred my heart rate as to where this is all is going.

Mac is still clinging on to a shred of the fun loving, sun worshipping, southern belle she once was. She is in Dublin roaming its streets, requiring pieces of information and she has to make decisions. In essence she remains the same gal I met in Darkfever and Bloodfever, thrown in a world she still has to completely discover. Yet, Mac is also learning as she goes while 3 men have a greater effect on her with each passing event. Written from the first person it gave me a very intimate connection with Mac and this made the last few chapters all the more poignant. I could sympathize with Mac in her need to figure things out, the fear she felt or sometimes just flat out wanted to strangle Barrons for keeping such an aloof way of conduct.

Mac is the centre of Faefever but there are some memorable secondary characters surrounding her. I got to know V’Lane, the death-by-sex-fae better and perceived him from another perspective. Barrons, well, that man irks the life out of me. He is mysterious, dark, exudes an old world charm with lethal danger and oh, did I already mention he is mysterious. That man is more tight lipped about his past and who he is than an oyster is to reveal its pearl! I love him, I hate him and can’t go without him in a Fever novel. And then there is he-who-shall-not-be-named. Due to spoilerish nature I will not say his name but he and his background become more important and I just loved it, loved him and hope his part in the overall story becomes even bigger.

There is also the tribe of Sidhe Seers that contribute to this tale and I can’t figure out where they stand, especially the matron of the bunch feels like she has ulterior motives yet to be explained. In the end the plot bolts into a higher gear and had a few ‘jump of the pages’ moments that had me succumbed to those last few chapters. If you want a sense of completion than don’t pick up Faefever for it will leave you hanging with the singular desire for the next episode in the Fever Chronicles. The brutal and apocalyptic ending made me want just one more chapter, one more page, and in the end, one more sentence would’ve done the trick.

To leave it like this and to have to wait for another year, well, I can keep myself occupied with other books and let the desire for Dreamfever go dormant until a month before its release date. But for those who want the full and complete story wait until they are all released and then start reading them in one sitting.

What started out slow and slightly annoying became an engaging read that spiraled to a heart rendering cliff hanger!

Quote:
V’Lane began bringing me gifts. One day he brought me chocolate that wouldn’t make you gain weight, no matter how much I ate.

Review: Nalini Singh - Hostage To Pleasure

Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley (September 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425223256
ISBN-13: 978-0425223253


Summary:
Separated from her son and forced to create a neural implant that will mean the effective enslavement of her psychically gifted race, Ashaya Aleine is the perfect Psy--cool, calm, emotionless...at least on the surface. Inside, she's fighting a desperate battle to save her son and escape the vicious cold of the PsyNet. Yet when escape comes, it leads not to safety, but to the lethal danger of a sniper's embrace.


DarkRiver sniper Dorian Christensen lost his sister to a Psy killer. Though he lacks the changeling ability to shift into animal form, his leopard lives within. And that leopard's rage at the brutal loss is a clawing darkness that hungers for vengeance. Falling for a Psy has never been on Dorian's agenda. But charged with protecting Ashaya and her son, he discovers that passion has a way of changing the rules...


Review:
Repeatedly Nalini Singh has proved her amazing gift at writing with romance and action packed tales that keep you on the edge of your seat. I shouldn’t be surprised anymore of this fact but once more I have read an outstanding story with HOSTAGE TO PLEASURE. I found myself embraced again in the DarkRiver pack that contains such treasured characters for me and they welcomed me back into the mesmerizing world of the Psy/Changelings.

The first page starts with a high-tale rescue of Keenan and it is the immediate connecting between Keenan and Dorian that paints such an endearing picture. Moreover, it ones again proves how protective Changelings are about their cubs or are of children. Dorian is one of those highly addictive Sentinels within the DarkRiver pack whom holds you spellbound from the first moment you meet him. Now, in HOSTAGE TO PLEASURE, it is his story that is told and he is re-acquainted with Ashaya, an M-Psy who harbors a few secrets that puts her in the direct path of Dorian. Both their pasts set up for conflict between them and from the moment they meet it causes verbal firework that made me gobble up the pages like it was my next fix of chocolate.

For me one of the things I love about Nalini Singh’s writing is the seemingly impossible love between two people that makes the impact of their tale above and beyond. Ashaya and Dorian will both separately as well as together pull at your emotional strings, all your strings! May it be love, pride, endearment, fear and perhaps even anger. I experienced the whole rainbow of emotions as Dorian faces his past and Ashaya faces a difficult decision. Moreover, it is with skin privilege that Dorian dares Ashaya to take it a step further and though the passionate encounters are few it is not something that I overly missed. The intensity, but also the playful purring nature of Dorian as a Changeling, makes the eruption of build-up sensuous tensions all the more satisfactory.

With Ashaya being the leading M-Psy of a very important experiment the reader is being pulled deeper into the Psy world with The Council at its centre. And to my surprise I found out there’s a new group in town and they are not going anywhere soon. Hidden in a cloak of mystery they already meddle with Council business and form a new threat for the Changeling packs. The plot thickens all around and served the overall story superbly as Psy keep up scheming and plotting which gives Dorian and Ashaya the necessary issues to work out. With enticing little tidbits of information at the start of each chapter various voices are heard and I enjoyed this extra addition to the story.

Of course there is a rich cast of secondary characters that makes you feel right at home. Kit is on the verge of becoming an adult but he still has that juvenile exuberance that makes him so endearing. Lucas, Sascha, Tammy and her cubs, Vaughn, Faith, Clay and his Tally, they all form a family with their own customs that makes me feel a part of this extraordinary pack. From the Psy Council to the DarkRiver and SnowRiver pack, they all add their unique voice to this novel and it creates a vibe that makes you want to return to it the moment you close this book.
HOSTAGE TO PLEASURE is another engrossing read, with another dynamic couple and it is another welcome addition to this much beloved series. Dorian and Ashaya’s story is paranormal romance and so much more. Nalini Singh holds on to a level of intensity in her Psy-Changeling novels which makes it synonymous with breathtaking story telling!

On a last note: I feel that to experience the full impact of Dorian and Ashaya’s story you should read this series in order: SLAVE TO SENSATION,- VISIONS OF HEAT,- CARESSED BY ICE and MINE TO POSSESS.

Review: Shayla Black - Tempt Me With Darkness:

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket (August 26, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416558586
ISBN-13: 978-1416558583


Summary:
He's an immortal knight hungering for satisfaction....


As soon as Marrok sees Olivia Gray's dark windswept hair and burning violet eyes, he's sure they've met in eons past. He's felt her soft gentle curves writhing in pleasure beneath his own hard powerful body...Morganna! For centuries, towering Marrok, once the mightiest of King Arthur's warriors, has endured a terrible curse cast upon him when he spurned the witch.

She's a modern woman about to discover ancient magic....

Olivia shares a mystical -- and irresistible -- connection with brooding Marrok. Soon after the sexy warrior appears in her erotic dreams, he abducts her, demanding she uncurse him. Their intense passion is more powerful -- and intimate -- than either of them has ever known. Olivia may be the key to unlocking the diary that will break Morganna's hold on his life. But in the wrong hands, the book also holds the power to destroy all magickind. As they search for answers, a ruthless wizard returned from exile is building an army of evil. When he discovers Marrok and Olivia have the diary, only their love -- with the help of a powerful group of magical Brethren -- can save them.


Review:
A few paranormal romance series have started this year that immediately grabbed my attention with a solid and highly entertaining first novel. Shayla Black succeeded in joining the ranks with TEMPT ME WITH DARKNESS (Pocket/ Sept. 2008), the first novel in her Doomsday Brethren series.

There are a few characters from legends that speak to my imagination among them are Merlin, Morganna le Fay and King Arthur with his knights. Though they don’t actually appear, their magic and actions still have an effect on many people in this story. Marrok of Cadbury is the lead hero and he has firsthand knowledge of what a woman scorned can do infused with a bit of her magic. Morganna le Fay has cursed Marrok and by writing it in the Doomsday diary it is nearly impossible to lift. After Morganna le Fay died no one managed to open the diary so Marrok must endure the curse of immortality and lack of carnal satisfaction. When Marrok is introduced to a gallery owner, Olivia Gray, who is interested in his carvings, he meets a woman with the same violet eyes and dark hair as Morganna. This is not a coincidence in Marrok’s book and all he wants is for the curse to be lifted so he can die in peace.

Fate however can be tricky and has other things in store for him!

Shayla Black swiftly eases into a story where the connection between the lead hero and heroine is a hot and tangible one and flares to life with vivid emotions. Marrok is so tired of his centuries old life which radiates from him in waves. I just loved Marrok, who was a knight in the Dark Ages and he still acts like one. As he would say:’ You can get the man out of the Dark Ages, but you can’t get the Dark Ages out of the man.’ Marrok is blunt, invasive and a ‘me Tarzan you Jane’ type of man. Yet he’s also willing to fight for those he comes to care for and he is loyal to the core. What can I say, he had me at hello!

Olivia Gray is a woman, who will find her inner strength in due time and not let a man make all the decisions for her since she wants to make up her own mind. I just loved the connection and interaction between Olivia and Marrok. Their very natures make their dialogue snappy and strong, providing more than enough verbal fireworks! With Olivia’s lineage unknown to her, she feels an instant strong attraction to Marrok. She never expected the complications that could arise with a few uttered words in the throes of passion. Their love story speaks of trust. Trust that no one will hurt you, trust that no one will betray you, and trust that one’s heart is the single most valuable thing that they can possess. I was swept away with their doubts and feelings and the plot holds more than a few obstacles for them as a couple.

Another thing that is fleshed out well in TEMPT ME WITH DARKNESS is the beginning of evil, the forming of the Doomsday Brethren, and the introduction of the wizards. Though the romance is the primary plot, the Doomsday wizards’ secondary plot was an exhilarating one with Shock Denzell, Simon Northam a.k.a Duke, Isdernus Rykard a.k.a Ice, the mated couple Anka and Lucan, Bram Rion and his sister Sabella. They each will guarantee to capture your heart and are fascinating characters to get to know. There are even heart tugging moments in the story that had my eyes brimming with tears. Bram Zion is a major secondary character, who is a walking database of knowledge concerning all things magic. With Bram’s vision of rising evil, he is the relentless force behind the Doomsday Brethren. He took me into the magical world with his knowledge explaining things that are necessary to understand the complete picture. Bram is the kind of character that has ulterior motives behind his actions that are not completely revealed until the very end. I wasn’t sure what to think about Bram but he kept me turning the pages in anticipation!

I just love it when an author can create a villain, who I can fiercely dislike, with no apologies made for his personality or decisions. I can root for the good guys, have a sense of good versus evil and a new time is dawning when the Anarki resurrect their leader. All the elements fall into place in TEMPT ME WITH DARKNESS. And while the romance is at an all time high - lush and steeped with sensual emotions - the plot and secondary characters are of equal importance. It creates a magical suspense-laden read I know will satisfy many who love the Paranormal Romance genre!

Shayla Black enriches the Paranormal Romance genre with her Doomsday Brethren and TEMPT ME WITH DARKNESS is just a first taste in what will turn out to be a fantastic series that pulls you in the magical world she created!

Review Carly Phillips - Hot Property

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (July 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373773331
ISBN-13: 978-0373773336


Summary:
Just one short season ago, major league center fielder John Roper had it all: the looks—and personal life—of a sports hero and the public's adoration. But this hot property's lucky streak has run out. After a World Series disaster, fans diss him, shock jocks mock him and his dysfunctional family hassles him for money he really can't spare. Now it's up to him, and Hot Zone publicist Amy Stone, to get his life back on track.

Amy finds it's easier said than done. What with the constant intrusions of his nutty family, a crazed fan playing stalker, and Roper's refusal to put his own needs first, she's starting to think that life in the fast lane isn't all it's cracked up to be. But when the two retreat to a secluded lodge, the sexy center fielder throws Amy a curveball—one she never saw coming.…


Review:
Amy is the newest addition to the staff at Hot Zone. She quit her job in the retirement center where also her mother and aunt live and Amy is resolved to change her life around. She attends the wedding of her cousin Riley where Hot Zone displays its hunk-a-liscious buffet of athletes. One man caught her eye and makes her blood pump just a bit faster through her veins. John Roper can give it all to a girl but he has got more under current then the surface is telling.
After a disastrous introduction at the wedding between John and Amy she finds herself to have become the publicist of John Roper on her first day at work. And gets a first taste of all the under currents in his life first hand!

Carly Phillips with the fourth book in the Hot Zone series: HOT PROPERTY has whipped up a surprising and entertaining romance story. If was confronted with a whole cast of Hot Zone characters that made me curious what had happened in the previous novels: Hot Suff, - Hot Number, - Hot Item. It is particularly Yank that captured my attention with his devious mind to do some matchmaking if he gets the chance! I will not likely forget him and it makes HOT PROPERTY all the more inviting to read.

The star couple of this novel is Amy Stone and John Roper and they immediately have a spark together but due to various circumstances it doesn’t go further than that. Now Amy finds herself as Roper’s publicist and thrown back into feeling that spark all over. Carly Phillips gradually creates a foundation upon which Amy and Roper can build a relationship. They both are at a point in their lives where they need to re-define themselves with their personality that has become subdued to the demands of family.

Family affairs are never easy and this romance story mirrors that perfectly while Roper’s famous status adds another obstacle in their way. The attraction is evident between Roper and Amy and with all the obstacles I felt the frustration of it right alongside them. This is why I could not always fully relate to Roper in his decisions and in his time to realize it all what he had to do. Nevertheless, he has his flaws like any other man and in the end he steps up to the plate and scores a homerun in his personal life. This had me rooting and relieved, for all you want is a happy romance ending for them both.
Amy has just as much family issues as Roper and I just loved her mother and aunt. Though I would be just as much embarrassed as Amy I enjoyed their antics and it flavored the story like Yank Morgan did with is unique opinion to life. It is the character dynamics and the sensual energy in this novel that gave me a feel I could meet these characters if I would ever go to New York. From the Hot Zone staff to Roper and Amy’s family, they each have strengths and flaws just like anyone else.

HOT PROPERTY is an easy going and enjoyable read that perfectly fits the summer season. Pack this novel as you go to the beach, park or backyard to lazily lie in the sun and in the mood for romance reading.


Review: Rowena Cherry - Insufficient Mating Material:

Mass Market Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing Company (January 31, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0505527111
ISBN-13: 978-0505527110

Summary:

"A powerful romance laced with devastating family secrets, treachery and a sizzling passion hot enough to singe your fingers as you turn the pages." --BillieJo, Romance Junkies
Fewmet!

Shot down...for failing to mate in public. Marooned on an island with the ultimate fashionista, who wouldn't take off her clothes to save her own life, Djetth discovers taht when a Tiger prince is honor bounc to hide his true identity, when his best tool of seduction bears a damning tattoo, and his very life is in danger, survival isn't just a matter of making out.
Someone is trying to kill them.

But even in the outrageously wicked Tigron Empire, who would dare to attack a royal princess and her consort? So what if she had spectacularly rejected his hand and privately turned her pretty nose up at his other princely parts? With the aid of two exiled empresses acting as psychic sleuths, some misplaced guitar glue, and a talent for disguises, he would unmask a killer and prove that this was certainly not a case of...


Review:
A few weeks ago I got myself acquainted with Rowena Cherry and her novel Forced Mate. Now I’ve closed the second novel in this Sci-Fi romance series, Insufficient Mating Material and found a treasure of a story. It picks up almost right after the dynamic conclusion of Forced Mate. Was Djetthro-Jason the usurper in book 1 he completely took me by surprise and enamored me with his silken-smooth yet devilish attitude as he takes center stage in his story: Insufficient Mating Material.

Tarrant-Arragon commands that Djetth has extensive surgery so recognizable features are removed from his face and he can assume a new identity. This along with the mating of Tarrant-Arragon’s sister Martia-Djulia needs to set him up for a new life…only Martia-Djulia is not as willing as her brother might have thought. A certain commander still occupies her thoughts and feelings. So what is a Royal brother supposed to do, he takes them aboard his ship and dumps them on a secluded island and let nature take its course.

With Marsh and Djetth’s story I felt like coming back to an inviting world that holds me in its grasp of sheer curiosity. Not only do I get to meet many recurring characters again but I got presented with an electrifying sensuous read. Djetth gives the hunt for a woman a hot, pleasure seeking but most of all emotional vibe that had my eyes stuck to the pages. He is just the kind of irresistible man everybody loves to read about, he has a bit of a bad boy image to spice things up, he’s carnal in nature and he bears depth in character. I devoured him like there was no tomorrow!

For this story to sizzle Djetth encounters Martia-Djulia a.k.a Marsh and her rigid, royal attitude clashes with very his nature. Marsh is an intricate personality as only royalty can be, still she has her reasons and in the end I could easily relate to her and her journey towards happiness. The struggles of the couple are illustrated with a passionate pen but also what, in my opinion, has fast become a signature element of Rowena Cherry’s writing namely, a good dose of wicked humor.

As Marsh and Djetth are surviving on Freighter Island of An’Koor there are many secrets intertwined in this story. The plot whispers of old family secrets and upon disclosure it could mean a whole heap of trouble within the royal society. I just loved Tarragonia –Marietta as a Tarot reading Madame of an escort service on The Pleasure Moon of Eurydyce. I can absolutely see her sitting with her tarot cards telling someone’s fortune or misfortune and at the same time doing some plotting and scheming of her own. Also Helispeta makes a lasting impression with her ever overwhelming personality, keen mind and ever present attitude. You just have to love these women exactly as they are, they can be loyal to the core or formidable enemies.

Out of all the secondary characters there is one man that has captured my attention, wondering what he is underneath the exterior layers of politeness and intrigue. Rhett, as another Royal Prince, holds the potential to have an incredible love story of his own. I would certainly not object to get a more up close and personal acquaintance of this man! Of course Tarrant-Arragon, Djinnie and Grievous let themselves be heard too and each replenish to the overall joy of reading this sci-fi romance of Rowena Cherry.

For me it was a riveting experience to take my first steps in the Sci-Fi Romance genre with Rowena Cherry’s Forced Mate and now Insufficient Mating Material. A thoroughly engrossing read with multi faceted characters and combustible romance taking place in an intergalactic world. Who wants more is beyond me!

Review: Rowena Cherry - Forced Mate

Mass Market Paperback: 326 pages
Publisher: Love Spell (November 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0505526018
ISBN-13: 978-0505526014


Summary:
"She's a fighting Saurian Knight." He put a slight emphasis on "fighting" and smiled self-deprecatingly. "Getting her into bed is more work than turning a Gravity-class war-star."

"Are you telling me that she fought you? You?"
"My Imperial Machismo forbids me to confirm or deny something so damaging to my reputation," Tarrant-Arragon replied with a mocking twist of his lips. "I will admit, she doesn't know what she's up against. I'm conducting and experiment to see whether I can get a virtuous girl to love me --not the next Emperor, but me-- for my sweet nature and sense of humor."
His half-sheathed-weapon smile became a sudden chuckle.

"My fierce little Saurian would probably try to castratee me if she knew who I am. She cheerfully toasts my impotence."
Madam Tarra kenw the toast to which he referred.
"How very provocative of you to choose one of the Saurian Dragon's Knights for your carnal experiments," she replied.

"I didn't take her because she is a Knight." He threw back his head, half closed his eyes, and tapped his upper lip with two fingers. No doubt the wicked boy was deciding how much of the truth to tell her. "Ah... I think I've fallen in love."

Review:

I just had my first experience of reading a sci-fi romance novel with Rowena Cherry’s Forced Mate and I can truly say I was fully entertained! The book is divided in three parts. The first part made me feel like an explorer of new worlds with various races and many titles and names to remember. The second part is where the characters grew on me and the third part is where all the separate storylines came together giving it a fast paced conclusion. In the end I closed this book with the fulfillment of an adventurer that came out on the good side of a new experience.

Tarrant-Arragon has found himself a half Djinn/Earthling, but as it happens also the last female of the Djinn race and he will use every trick in the book to mate with her. Tarrant –Arragon is a gruff, brass somewhat blunt man that together with Djinie has many “men-come-from-Mars, women-come-from-Venus” moments. So it is a bit of an understatement that his royal courtship is not going the way he originally planned. It is the irrevocable humor that is intertwined within this sci-fi romance story that elevated Tarrant-Arragon’s one-track-mind from becoming annoying. Moreover, the effort of Tarrant-Arragon to understand the whole dating ritual and earths customs of wooing a woman just made me think underneath his attitude he’s just a man trying to cope. He grew on me with his ever present attitude and humor as he deals with the situation and Djinnie of course. I would almost say he is like a bull with a red flag that is called Djinnie. She just doesn’t flaunter around him in awe and passionate worship or obeying his every whim. Oh no, Djinnie is a woman that both verbally as well as physically gives as got as she gets from him. This is a sparring between genders that is universal and well versed by Rowena Cherry to create some genuine firework between the main character. This is something I always enjoy.

The romance gradually progresses with on the backdrop of this story a royal intrigue with various key secondary characters. J-J, Madam Tarra, Helispeta and the Saurian Dragon are compelling characters with which Rowena Cherry keeps you on edge whether they are the good guys or the villains. Each tells a bit more of the Saurian ways and history and if one secondary character leaped from the pages it was Grievous. An Earthling himself he becomes the right hand of Tarrant-Arragon in matters of all Earth affairs. His down-to-earth comments and advice to the specific views of Tarrant-Arragon adds a specific vibe to this tale and was one more thing that kept my attention to the pages.

It took me a while to get used to all the terms, names, world building and it took me a bit more time to fully get drawn into this sci-fi tale. However, ones captured by the charm of various characters I flipped the pages as to find out how it all would end. Rowena Cherry has the talent to create colorful characters with a healthy dose of humor and plotting. Add a provocative romance to it with an imaginative intergalactic world and customs and I feel the sci-fi romance readers will have a pleasurable read from start to finish. I know that I’m intrigued enough to further explore this new genre. Rowena Cherry has broadened my horizon in the crowded romance genre with the lovers journey of Tarrant-Arragon and Djinnie!

Quote Tarrant-Arragon & Djinnie:
Suddenly he was struck by a preposterous image of himself. “Nice, you said? Dependable? Popular? Me?” He laughed. “Oh Earthling! Why not add ‘loveable’ to your list?”

I look forward to pick up the second novel in this series: INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL.

16 October 2008

Review: C.L. Wilson - King Of Sword And Sky

Mass Market Paperback: 467 pages
Publisher: Leisure; Paperback edition (September 30, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0843960590
ISBN-13: 978-0843960594

Summary:

Only One Enemy Could Destroy Them.

Only One Love Could Unite Them.

The magical tairen were dying, and none but the Fey King’s bride could save them. Rain had defied the nobles of Celieria to claim her, battled demons and Elden mages to wed her. Now, he would risk everything to protect his kingdom, help his truemate embrace her magic and forge the unbreakable bond that alone could save her soul.

Review:
In part one: Lord of the Fading Lands, a woodcarver’s daughter called Rain Tairen Soul from the sky and a courtship begun.

In part two: Lady Of Light And Shadow, the courtship continues as a fierce battle knocks on Celierian doors and secrets reveal themselves.

Now in part three, King Of Sword And Sky, Rain takes his Shei’tani to his homeland where new challenges lie for Ellysetta. Enter a new world where Fey gather to meet the Shei’tani of a Tairen Soul, a Tairen pride that roars their welcome and the battle that becomes more violent and more grim with each passing day.

Like a bard of old times C.L. Wilson has once again raised her voice to tell another story in her Tairen Soul series and one thing’s for sure, many will gather to hear it! As I started to read the first page of KING OF SWORD AND SKY I was walking back into the vibrant world of the Fading Lands and met the characters that I came to treasure in Lord Of The Fading Lands and Lady Of Light And Shadow.

It didn’t take much for me to be completely absorbed in this tale as it takes off right where Lady Of Light And Shadow had left me. On a fivefold weave and on Tairen back I was led deeper into a world that took my breath away. The almost lyric prose of C.L. Wilson combined with a highly imaginative writing skill made me wander in a deserted Elven town, visit the Fey’ Bahren and was in awe of the Hall of Scrolls. Though the author takes time to make the reader see all the splendor of her world it is the plot and a plethora of memorable characters that never lets your attention falter and only makes you wish for more. Four hundred and sixty-seven pages and they go by in the blink of an eye.

Of course Rain vel ’En Daris and Ellysetta Baristani are the main couple and their true mate bond that needs to gain in strength. Doubts and concerns are their ever present companions but they also get to feel beauty, share each other’s joy and wonder. Their bond and feelings just echoed in my heart as I read the pages, hoping for all the good things but knowing a bond is not just forged in good times. It is in the troubled times that the trials will test the bond’s strength. It also makes the love shine stronger and the magic of the true bond brighter. I don’t know if I can capture the words to describe this soaring romance that makes my heart response with all my emotions. There are moments that gave me goose bumps from what I “saw” in my mind’s eye, filled my eyes with tears and made my heart leap in joy. The author has a gift to evoke it all with the reader and she will make you care for each Fey and Tairen.

The Fey warriors are a sight to behold and the Tairen pride is impressive in their loyalty and playfulness. Belliard, Gaelen, Kiel and Kieran are all present but I also got to meet new Fey and Tajik vel Sibboreh is one that will demand your attention with his gruff but loyal attitude. The diversity in their natures and magic is what made me want to get to know all of them and makes me understand Elly all the more in her decisions. But if there is one character that had me from the first moment I met her it is Steli. She is Tairen and considers herself to be the first blade, the fiercest defender of the pride. She is loyal, knows no shame and will bleed for you in protection. Her very nature just brings a bright smile to my face and this tale became that much richer with her in it!

KING OF SWORD AND SKY enters the next stage of the story and it will affect many characters, will become more dire and sacrifices must be made! The good versus evil element is superbly executed by C.L. Wilson and drives me to keep turning the pages, no matter what hour, what needs to be done or who’s calling. With every book in her Tairen Soul series she delivers a tale of otherworldly proportions and is a symphony of exquisite writing. It combines a rich and dazzling cast of characters, who are led by a dynamic pair that scorches the pages with their profound love and is framed by a plot that keeps you firmly set is this world. Submerged in this tale, in this world, the sum of its parts leads to awe inspiring romance, a page devouring battle and the image of Fey warriors that shout: ‘Mei’felani. Bei’santi. Nehtah, bas desrali. Live well, love deep. Tomorrow, we die.’ burned in the mind’s eye!

I cannot praise this series high enough for it is the perfect balance of fantasy and romance! In the end C.L. Wilson masterfully leads the reader to yet another action driven ending that makes you feel sad to leave the Fading Lands and count the day’s until Queen Of Song And Soul is released.

Romantic Fantasy has never been so exhilarating to read…or so addictictive!

Here is the latest Realms On Our Bookshelves interview with C.L. Wilson

Review: Lora Leigh - Elizabeth's Wolf

Paperback: 308 pages
Publisher: Ellora's Cave (June 30, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1419951378
ISBN-13: 978-1419951374


Summary:
She brought him back from death and made him live again. Dash thought himself alone, a soldier, a fighting machine and no more. Elizabeth made him realize he was a man. Danger surrounds the woman his soul marked as his mate, death and blood and a treachery that goes beyond even his worst nightmares. But he will protect her and what she claims as her own. He was created to kill, trained to do it efficiently, and only a man bound to her, heart and soul, will have the strength to save Elizabeth and her prized possession. He was a lone wolf. A man alone. No pack, no family, no one to call his own until one single, innocent letter awoke Elizabeth's wolf.


Review:
I actually had yet to read the first chapter but my throat was already tight with emotion upon reading the Author’s Note. So I was already pulling the tissues out of the box as I started to read the first pages of Dash’s story. Lora Leigh continues to pull at my heartstring as I met the injured Dash and reading Cassie’s letters to him. The letters captivate the innocence of a child but at the same time the wisdom of a one that sees all and has to endure so much. Though there is no physical interaction yet, Cassie, her mother Elizabeth and Dash are already connected together. It is with a last desperate letter that Dash starts the search for these two ladies he considers his.


The first thing that comes to mind as I think on how to describe Elizabeth’s Wolf is intense, the intensity of various emotions grabbed a hold of me and never, not even once, did it loosen its grip. Endearing is also is one of the words, for Cassie blew me away with her scarred soul but nevertheless she is also sassy and feisty showing enough backbone to let you know she’ll be okay in the end. And scorching hot, though Elizabeth also has a wounded soul Dash is both demanding as he is understanding and they create a blazing heat together. Three people connect on a level that will hold forever, that makes you want to concur all and will never let you accept defeat.

This is what first and foremost grabbed me but a Breed novel wouldn’t be a Breed novel if it did not contain some form of evil and the villain is just plain evil. You want the villain punished in every way possible and more things reveal themselves about the Breeds. A new piece of information tells me that all that is happening with the Breeds is a far cry from over or told. We get to meet some re-occurring characters, which in my opinion is always like a cherry on the cake. To meet the unique Breeds and get a taste of their personalities once more adds a juice to the mix that makes me gobble it all up as fast as my eyes can read. I loved a lot about this book, the romance, the suspense, the evocative eroticism but in the end it is the triangle of Dash, Elizabeth and Cassie fighting for a place to live…to love…to laugh, to wrap life in both arms and never let go what makes me say, fantastic. For me Elizabeth’s Wolf is a small step away from a perfect balance between emotion, character development, suspense, laced with a sensual feast of carnality.

Lora Leigh is fast becoming one of my all time favorite erotica author’s who gives substance to the genre!"

Quote:
Grange smirked. “tell me, Elizabeth, what’s it like to fuck an animal?”
Elizabeth snorted. “I have no idea. Let’s ask your mistress in here and ask her.


4.5 stars

Review: Heather Grothaus - The Highlander

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Zebra (September 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1420102427
ISBN-13: 978-1420102420


Summary:
When Evelyn Godewin departs from her native England, she's looking for a new beginning. Yet fate has other plans in store for her when she's left stranded alone in an unforgiving highland forest, hunted by wolves as winter sets in. Determined to make the best of her surroundings, Evelyn seeks shelter in an abandoned cottage in the woods. But when Conall MacKerrick, a highland chief, bursts into the cottage and accuses her of trespassing, Evelyn tells him a lie she knows she will regret one day. Much to her surprise, she finds herself falling in love with the highlander...

Conall MacKerrick believes his clan is cursed, and when he meets Evelyn he thinks he has found the key to lifting that curse. He must marry her--or at the least, get her with child. Seducing the striking beauty is the only way to save his people and his pride. Even as he begins to trust that she will heal not only his people's troubles, but his own heart, he discovers the secret that could destroy their newfound love...



Review:
When a love between a highlander and a witch is torn apart a curse is cast.

“Only heartache and toil you reap until a Buchanan bairn is born to rule the MacKerrick clan. And then I will take what is due me. When you are on bended knee will I have my revenge.”
Now the next generation of the MacKerrick endures the burden of the curse…until the prophecy is fulfilled.

Heather Grothaus’ THE HIGHLANDER invites the reader to become a part of the lives that suffer under the wrath of a curse. As I opened this book I got caught up with Evelyn as she travels through Scotland accompanied by Minerva, a woman who is heading for her home town to die. Only she dies sooner than Eve expected and she finds herself all alone in the forest of the MacKerrick clan. ‘The MacKerrick’ Conall is heading towards the cottage of his late uncle Ronan to grief the loss of his wife and stillborn child. It is in that cottage that destiny intervenes for them both.

Evelyn is a headstrong woman that has taken matters of her life into her own hands. She tries to make the best of a very dire situation and has a natural affinity with animals. It doesn’t take long for a wide variety of animals to become her friends. The black wolf Alinor takes a prominent place among the animals and turns out to be a playful secondary character. Conall is a ‘typical’ highlander, tall, strong and with a brooding nature. As ‘The MacKerrick’ of his clan many concerns keep his thoughts occupied and now he has a frail woman to take care of on top of it.

If there is one thing I noticed upon reading THE HIGHLANDER is that with all the essential elements of storytelling Heather Grothaus whips up a pleasant flowing tale. Conall, Evelyn and everyday life in a cottage gives this novel a very intimate feel and inevitably draws the reader into their world. Moreover, it allows the emotions, along with the dialogue to take precedent over the plot making THE HIGHLANDER a very character and romance driven novel.

The curse of course has its own part to play and becomes the foundation of the initial connection between Eve and Conall. Their journey of love is seasoned with anguish, secrets and loss, allowing them - as a couple - to become stronger than each could be separate. I could not help but let the essence of this classic highlander read wash over me as the touching blossoming of love eases me into this story. I enjoy it if a novel is able to make me a part of the story and just for a little while can take me away from hectic 21st century life and take it a notch down.

Eve and Conall are at it from the first moment they meet, with a bit of grounded humor, a cameo of animals and a chemistry they both cannot deny it becomes a pleasure to watch their progress. If there is another character that plays a small but very important roll it is the twin brother of Conall. Duncan, with his upbeat nature adds a bit of highlander resilience and with his brotherly interactions he eases Conall’s brooding nature. One other thing that kind of snug up to me in surprise is the plot development of the curse. What I thought to be a necessary thread in the overall tapestry of the romance became so surprising in the ending. It gave the conclusion an unexpected twist and made me revel more in the romance happy ending!

THE HIGHLANDER is the final entry of Heather Grothaus’ medieval trilogy and it shines with the endearing glow of highlander magic, home, heart and the road to happiness. It will provide many a reader an entertaining historical read.


Review: Jade Lee - The Dragon's Earl

Mass Market Paperback: 292 pages
Publisher: Leisure (August 26, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0843960469
ISBN-13: 978-0843960464

Summary:
ONE MAN
A Chinese monk striding down the aisle was the first shock at countess-to-be Evelyn Stanton’s wedding. To watch him dispatch three groomsmen, unarmed, and to learn that he was white and the long-lost heir to the Earldom of Warhaven, was the second. He would be her husband?

ONE MISSION
After the slaughter of his family in far-off China, Jacob Cato found sanctuary. In a Xi Lin temple he learned to be strong, but now he had a grander goal: to reclaim his English heritage and the woman he’d left behind.

ONE DESTINY
Revenge. It poisoned everything he’d learned, everything he’d done, and yet every fiber of Jacob burned for it—just as he burned for the beautiful but very English Evelyn. Long ago, the conspiracy to kill his family had stranded him, lost Jacob in the exotic East and made him unrecognizable to his countrymen…and women. He had not forgotten that past. It was to make peace that he had returned. The manner was yet to be decided.



Review:
Take one gruesome act that has only two survivors. One of them is Jacob, a ten year old boy and heir to an earldom . . . in England. The second survivor is a Chinese boy named Zhi Min and together they grow up in the Xi Lin Temple … in China.

To become a monk, the adult Jacob a.k.a Jie Ke has to face his past and travel back to England to reclaim his heritage, his bride and his fortune. If he still wants to be a monk after that, the Abbott will welcome him with open arms.

Where do I start to explain my feelings regarding The Dragon Earl? It has captivated me in the most unlikely way. It has a plot that serves in its simplicity and complements the intricate character development. Jade Lee possesses a poised storytelling skill that is laced with colorful emotions and is something that is either appreciated or not. I think this is what amazed me more than anything, the feel of Jade Lee’s writing. It served in the endeavor of the lead couple’s romance and at the same time it demanded more energy from me to remain focused on reading than usual.

The author asks of me as the reader to take it down a notch. Slow the pace and fully invest myself in coming to understand the origin of the anguish and fear but also the blossoming of hope and love between Jacob and Evelyn. Evelyn is born and bred to be a Countess someday while her inner self is screaming at the confinements of society’s acceptable behavior. Jacob’s goal is to become a monk but the heart is a tricky thing and his is buried under layers of deceit and half-truths that he needs to uncover.

The sensual exploration between Jacob and Evelyn is both tender and scintillating. But most of all it is the incredible in-depth view of their emotional turmoil and growth that brought a lump to my throat. Though the situation is almost desperate with Christopher being the next in line for the Earldom and affianced to Evelyn, the plot demands someone to get to the bottom of it all. As Jacob shares his wisdom with Evelyn, her tempestuous side rises and challenges her to take a good look at what she wants in life. Jacob has soul-searching of his own to do, this isn’t without a fight and it takes place both internally as externally. In Jacob’s journey Zhi Min and Mei Lin are both imperative to tell his story as they are tied to his past in more ways than one.

The Dragon Earl has a solid plot but leaves a few things unanswered in the end which diminished the overall feeling of this tale. It could have made the impact of reading the final pages even greater! The backdrop is lifelike and the secondary characters all add to the mix of mystery and romance. All the elements bear depth and I feel this story is very character and emotion driven.

Jade Lee is the kind of author that uses all the elements of storytelling to focus on the journey of the heart and the soul. For me it made the romance soar but left a few things to be desired.
One thing’s for sure, Jade Lee has a unique approach in telling romance! It is with the heart that searches for answers, a passion that must ignite, and a mystery that needs to be solved for one to be truly free. Jacob and Evelyn will inspire the reader on their journey.


Review: Lori Foster - Wild

Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Jove (December 31, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0515132292
ISBN-13: 978-0515132298

Summary:
Zane Winston is used to fielding women's not-so-subtle advances. But he's still shocked when an exotic gypsy whispers some very suggestive words in his ear - and surprised to find that he's aroused by her words rather than amused. After all, she's not exactly his type!

But he soon discovers that Tamara Tremayne's not really all that exotic. Her so-called psychic powers are (mostly) made up. Her waist-length black mane is a wig. And underneath the witchy makeup is a very stubborn, seductive woman - who may be in very serious danger...

Tamara refuses to accept Zane's help - but he's still sure she's the woman for him. She may not be supernatural. But she's sassy. Sexy. And totally wild ...


Review:
Tamara, a tarot reading gypsy was about to make a straight forward move to get what she desired before she sold her house and leave.

One bold proposal was all it took for Zane to single out the gypsy standing behind him and extend his acquaintance with this audacious woman.

It is not only Zane’s attention Tamara suddenly captured. Odd things are occurring and the nature of it becomes more violent. In a wild mix of ardour, a journal and one villain, Zane and Tamara find something of another nature…

With a hefty dose of undiluted passion Lori Foster’s Wild was consumed very easily. It begins with a proposal while Zane, the leading male character, stood on a stepladder and comes face to face with Tamara. This is where the focus of the story lies, with the attraction of Zane and Tamara and the promise of a seductive night full of passion. It is tangible, hot, instant and demanding, showcased in a contemporary romance that includes a minor part for the suspense delivered by the vilain.

The author kept my interest at a steady level as Zane finds reasons to keep himself occupied with Tamara’s life. He is just about the classic hero when it comes to the damsel is in distress. Tamara on the other hand provides a much wanted resilience with her self sufficient and independent attitude. The proposal of Tamara is an open invitation to let their encounters be intertwined with under the surface craving for one another. Though there is a level of carnality in Wild you must place it within the genre, it is neither over specified or described. Some things are left to the imagination but this does not diminish the overall pleasure of reading the story!

There is also a tribe of delectable brothers, each of the them had a previous happily-ever-after but this does not hinder in understanding the family dynamics. It just manages to provide the story with a well known male revelry and camaraderie. Add a gypsy uncle and two aunts to the cast of secondary characters whom have a whole other way to look at things and you’ve got a complementary full set. The suspense of the vilain, the journal, it all bears the function of getting two people together in their journey of love. I didn’t get the feel it was overly important or held much substance in the overall arch of the story. For me the exuberance of the connection between Zane and Tamara reined supremacy in Wild and this is what kept me bound to the pages.

Lori Foster with Wild told the last story of the Winston brothers but she introduced Joe and I’ve got a feeling we have not seen the last of him! This is one of those novels that you can pick up and read in one sitting and at the same time receive some enjoyable hours with characters that hold a zest for life.

Authentic romance is the key word when it comes to this novel of Lori Foster!

Quote:
“Zane definitely shouldn’t leave you here alone. But, “he added,” we’ll have to set up a few safe guards first.”
“Tonight, and tomorrow.”
“That’s what I was thinking.”
Tamara leveled a look on both men. “You’re thinking without my input, and I won’t have it.”

Review: Kathryne Kennedy - Double Enchantment

Mass Market Paperback: 305 pages
Publisher: Love Spell (August 26, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0505527634
ISBN-13: 978-0505527639

Summary:
Lady Jasmina was in a world of trouble. A simple spell had gone disastrously haywire and now there was a woman running around London who looked exactly like her--a woman with no sense of propriety whatsoever. All Society was whispering, and a baronet she'd never met was suddenly acting like he knew her...in a most intimate way. To find her double and set things right, they'd have to work together--braving the fog-shrouded streets, a mysterious group called the Brotherhood, and a passion stronger than any magic.


Review:

ARC: Kathryne Kennedy – Double Enchantment (Bk 2 in Relics of Merlin series)
When a spell infused with Relic magic goes awry no one can tell you better of the consequences then Lady Jasmine Karlyle. She only wanted to bring back a brooch her mother had “borrowed” from a lady friend. With casting a spell she got a life and kicking replica of herself instead of the illusion it was meant to be. Only this replica doesn’t have the same upstanding values as Jasmine and Sir Sterling Thorn gets a sensual taste of the replica who calls herself Jaz.

Instead of asking for help, Jasmine thinks she can fix it all by herself only to get into more trouble. When her Aunt Henrietta and Jasmine finally cook up a story that reflects the problem they go to the Hall Of Mages and ask the person with the strongest magic to help them. The King listens to their story when Sterling walks in and sees Jasmine, thinking it is Jaz.

Jasmine is on the receiving end of a soul-scorching kiss and when she finally gets her bearings back she smacks Sterling straight across the face. This is where their story begins…

Double Enchantment casts its spell over me and I was utterly willing to be captured by the magic, the world and its characters! When I read Enchanting The Lady last year I could only hope that Kathryne Kennedy would deliver again. Upon reading the second installment in the Relics Of Merlin series I was once more lured back to a highly imaginative world. I got all that I expected and more!

The first pages transported me to a London where magic is only fit for those of nobility and royalty. It is with their magical abilities the nobles present their calling card and it’s a true feast to read about when described by Kathryne Kennedy. From gardens to houses, horses and even clothing, it all can be bathed in magic to enhance one’s appearance. Still, there are also the Baronets, with their were-selves and immunity to magic that is both needed but feared. The Baronets are in the King’s favor and they are a weapon against the Relic’s magic. The descriptive writing style of the author just made it so easy to imagine the scenery in my mind’s eye. I could go on and on about every magical detail steeped into this world but that would spoil the fun of discovering it all for yourself!

The outward prim and proper veneer of Lady Jasmine collides with her “other half” who is running amok in London and she needs Sir Sterling to solve it all. Sterling on the other hand doesn’t need this kind of distraction from the search for his sister. Still his were-stallion’s side will not be ignored and there’s a need driving him to get under the skin of Jasmine, revealing her true self. They have a combustible chemistry together and this ever-present attraction and sensuality is intertwined within the pages. It makes your heart start to beat in anticipation, holding your breath, wondering when all the pent up emotions and wanting is going to erupt. Because of a somewhat odd triangular relationship between Sterling Jasmine and Jaz there are many obstacles to overcome. Kathryne Kennedy pulls it off, for it is all about Sterling and Jasmine. The powerful emotions with the main couple were so convincingly portrayed it grabbed hold of me and in the end I needed a tissue or two.

The romance alone could hold one enthralled to the pages but the author adds a select but equally impressive cast of secondary characters to this tale. In her own unique way Aunt Henrietta dares Jasmine to step outside the conventional, moreover, take an adventure or two and I relished in the chaperone she turned out to be. She had me from grinning to full laugh-out-loud moments with her attitude and wisdom. Sir Artimus as a were-lion and right hand to the King was elegant but with a wicked side and then there are two gnomes, Nuisance and Trouble. They added a bit of mischief to Double Enchantment as they accompanied humans who encountered problems around every corner. And problems do arise…

The plot gradually unfolded and turned out to be surprising in the end providing an opening for a true happily ever after. The personal growth I witnessed was both realistic and convincing attaching me emotionally to many characters and caring for each in a different way. The epilogue, though not always needed in a tale, gave me that overwhelming sense of righteousness and completed the overall story.

With simmering hot romance, a superbly build up plot and a feast of characters to get to know, Double Enchantment fulfilled every desire of why I love to read so much! When I closed this book, I felt bereft, I didn’t get nearly enough of this world Kathryne Kennedy has created!

Quote:
He pulled his head back, staring at her passion-glazed eyes, her flushed face. “I need you,” he whispered. “And here’s what you’re not going to like. You need me too.”

07 October 2008

Review: Toni Blake - Letters To A Secret Lover


Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (May 27, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061429880
ISBN-13: 978-0061429880

Summary:
The last thing she needs right now is a man . . .

Lindsey Brooks had it all—an awesome job doling out advice to the lovelorn, a fabulous high-rise apartment, and a to-die-for fiancé. But then she got dumped—wearing nothing but a "Kiss the Cook" apron—and desperate to escape, she retreats to a tiny Montana town to reclaim a family treasure. She never dreamed anyone would try to stop her—or that he'd be sexy as sin.
Too bad she finds such a hot one . . .

Rob Colter isn't into relationships—but Lindsey sees Rob as the perfect guy to help her "get back on the horse." The sex horse, that is. Unfortunately, he comes complete with a mysterious past, which gets even more mysterious when she finds his passionate letters to another woman—whose name happens to be tattooed on his chest.
And too bad he has so many secrets . . .

Now Rob's dangerous past is about to catch up with them both. And if that's not horrible enough, Lindsey is falling for him—hard. For a girl who usually has all the answers, Lindsey is up to her neck in trouble.

Review:
Lindsay is a well known columnist of Love Letters where she gives advice to people on their love life’s. But then she gets dumped by her fiancé while wearing only an apron that said: kiss the cook. Not only does she get dumped, she also gets the moment recorded for posterity! She and her fiancé are photographed by the window washer while her fiancé cleans his cheesecake covered face.

The news travels faster than dry wood on fire and she wants to lick her wounds, so where does one go to lick ones wounds? Right, Moose Falls, Montana. There she knew her late aunt Millie had a canoe livery and house and perhaps she could make amends to her by buying the place and get some serious r & r. When finally rolling into this small town she meet Rob Culter, the man who took over the canoe livery from her aunt Millie and he is the perfect man to “get back on the horse”.

But what may seem like shallow waters can reveal such deep currents….

I was in the mood for some love-that-concurs-all romance with real life characters in a real life world and Toni Blake gave it all to me with Letters To A Secret Lover! The initial few chapters of this stories made all the bells and whistles go off. “Why did it sound a bit familiar to me?” And then it hit me, the leading lady in this story, Lindsay, had a “Men In Trees” experience. This is a tv series with basically the same storyline in those very first chapters.

But back to the book, I don’t think there will be many readers who will not be able to relate to Lindsay. She is a Jimmy Choo’s loving gal from Chicago, loving her job, having a solid relationship and is on the verge of stepping in front of the altar, taking her vows. And from there on it all goes downhill for Lindsay. I just enjoyed to go through the motions with Lindsay, to experience what she felt through every moment as she gets dumped and then drives to a small town in the middle of nowhere and goes back-to-basic.

What made Moose Falls so incredible where its inhabitants and the effect they had on Lindsay. From the moment Lindsay strolled in the Lazy Elk she met Carla, the bartender and owner of the establishment. They have an instant connection that sometimes happen between women. In a short period I got to meet lots of town folk that gave such a heartwarming feel to this place. It was Rob whom also strolled into the Lazy Elk that night and hello, the mystery man flared of signals that made me flip the pages in anticipation and need for more. Rob Culter is a gruff, brooding, silent, keep-to-himself kind of guy…in short, complex. I like my leading male complex..dark…brooding and I got it all with Rob!

It is shortly after Lindsay and Rob meet that I got to read the first letter from Rob to Gina and it was short but beautiful and spoke of hidden emotions. I would have loved for each chapter to begin with such a letter, just to enhance that feeling even more but I only got 3 or 4 throughout the whole story. It is with those letters that the author adds an emotional charge to Rob as a complex man and it gave thoughts to ponder on. As Lindsay and Rob get to know each other more and the underlying sizzle turns into a blazing fire, I couldn't help myself and fel right alongside Lindsay for this gruff man.

It is the plot that speaks of hidden secrets and mistakes but is so well portrayed, so insightful and intertwined with realistic emotions that it reverberated in my heart. It made Lindsay and Rob separately very appealing characters but together as a couple all the more recognizable and intense. Those secrets also become the inevitable hordes for them to take and kept me on edge as what it would be. The way it is set up makes you wonder and allowed me to connect even more with Lindsay when truths are revealed. Rob infuses this tale with his choices and the repercussion of them and I could do no other that get absorbed by it all. In the end I became a part of this small town with its own ways, they become a wonderful backdrop for a heart rendering romance.

There is humor, there is passion, the journey of trust, there is friendship and family, this story is one that grabs the essence of what is so important in life. It would have been an enjoyable read for me but Toni Blake gave it an astounding ray of colors with the emotions, especially concerning Rob and with that, in extension also Rob and Lindsay as a couple. Throw in some wonderful secondary characters and I read Letters To A Secret Lover in one sitting.A heartwarming, multifaceted and tender contemporary romance with 3-d characterization, I loved every page in Letters To A Secret Lover and the conclusion was gripping till the very end.