Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Guest Review: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks

Posted July 31, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn SparksReviewer: Jen
How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days (The Embraced, #1) by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #1
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 396
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three-half-stars

Luciana grew up on the Isle of Moon, hidden away because of her magical powers. But when her father arrives, he offers her a choice: remain on the island or return with him and marry the Beast of Benwick in order to save their legacy—and her father's life.

Lord Leofric, the Beast of Benwick, has not been touched since he was a child. Born with the power to harness lightning, he is a danger to everyone he touches. When he meets his betrothed, he expects a loveless, lonely marriage...until he discovers she's vastly more powerful than he realized. But is she strong enough to withstand his touch?

If they can survive, their love will alter the future of the kingdom. But will their extraordinary powers cost them everything?

This book is somewhat inspired by Beauty and the Beast, though to be honest it’s only very loosely related. In this story, the man with the Beast moniker is Lord Leofric, Leo for short. Leo is one of The Embraced, people born with supernatural powers. Normally The Embraced are killed when they are born because the world fears them, but Leo escapes that fate because he’s part of the royal family and because he’s so dangerous that he’s hard to kill. He can harness the power of lightning, and one touch of his skin can kill (and has, many times). He uses his power to protect his people, but they all are terrified and basically shun him. Luciana is also Embraced, but she escaped death by being hidden away in a convent her entire life, thinking her family was dead. It turns out they’re not, though, and because of political machinations by the cruel king, the only way she can save her father is by marrying The Beast. Luciana could be killed if she reveals the truth of her story to Leo, but if they don’t work together they can’t stop the king’s evil plots.

If you like tortured heroes, Leo should appeal! He does have a few friends, but for the most part he lives in isolation. People literally turn away from him in disgust and fear, yet he soldiers on using his power to protect his people even though they think he’s the one causing danger instead of stopping it. Moreover, harnessing the lightning is excruciatingly painful, and he’s pushing his body to its limits by doing it because he wants to protect others, which is a hell of a position for him to be in. Perhaps most heartbreaking of all, he can’t touch. He can’t be hugged, can’t hold hands, can’t even get a pat on the head, because even through clothing his power will injure or kill. Luciana is the only person apart from a few friends who sees the good Leo does instead of believing the rumors. There’s one scene where bystanders once again misinterpret a situation and think Leo is behind something dangerous, but Luciana loudly and publicly defends him. That scene just made my heart melt. It was clearly the first time anyone had ever stood up for Leo before; I’m smiling just thinking about it. The sexual tension between them is great, too. As you can imagine, “no touching or you’ll die” is quite the conundrum in a romance! I won’t tell you the hows and whys, but I can assure you this book is sexy.

I liked Luciana a lot as well. Her power is that she can talk to the dead, which comes in handy when she’s trying to learn about her new life. She’s sweet and kind and patient, but she’s not a particularly deep character. Really, though, neither is Leo. He has a lot of pain, but I almost felt like it didn’t impact his character as much as one would expect. He has been very isolated, yet he still is perfectly socially adept, flirting with his bride-to-be, handling the management of his estates, working with his army, etc. I just didn’t see a lot of consequences to his isolation.

Luciana has to lie to Leo and everyone else to save her father, which is perfectly understandable. She obviously didn’t know Leo and would have been foolish to trust him quickly. However, I really wanted her to come clean sooner, simply because I wanted to see her and Leo’s relationship develop further. Leo basically figures it all out on his own (and I appreciate that he absolutely accepts why she’s lying and doesn’t act all butt hurt about it), but the actual conversation between the two is a long time coming. Combine the secrets with the draggy pace in some parts and the fairly limited contact Leo and Luciana have for part of the book and you have a romance that never goes quite as deep as I would have liked.

I am extremely interested in the world Sparks has created, and I am hoping that future books won’t need to do as much world building as this one, leaving more time for developing the characters and relationships.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: Black Tie Optional by Ann Marie Walker

Posted June 29, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Black Tie Optional by Ann Marie WalkerReviewer: Rowena
Black Tie Optional by Ann Marie Walker
Series: Wild Weddings #1
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: May 30th 2017
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three-half-stars

Everything about Coleman Grant III oozes power and sex. And not the perfunctory kind either, but the sheet clawing, heart stopping, gasping for air after you’ve screamed so loud you can’t breathe kind. From his dark wavy hair that stands in an artfully rumpled mess, to the blue eyes that sear your skin, to his full, sensual lips - on the surface he’s pure perfection.

Too bad he's an asshole. An arrogant, uptight corporate raider hell bent on destroying the environment one species at a time.

Everything about Olivia Ramsey screams hippie humanitarian. From her blond hair tied in a sloppy bun, to her faded jeans with the Bonnaroo patch sewn on the thigh, to her combat boots still splattered with mud from the previous day’s site visit.

So it makes perfect sense that they would get married. In Vegas. Stone-cold sober.

Cole needs a wife. Olivia needs to save an endangered species. But what starts as a marriage of convenience soon turns into a battle of wills and sexual tension. Love is a game, and Olivia and Cole are ready to win.

Before reading this blurb, I had never heard of Ann Marie Walker. This book sounded good so I went ahead and requested it.

Coleman Grant III and Olivia Ramsey cannot stand each other. He’s a power hungry douchebag that doesn’t care about anything but making money and she’s a hippie humanitarian who is trying to save one endangered species at a time by annoying the ever living snot out of Cole. She hates everything that he stands for and he hates her morning trips to Starbucks to harass him into changing the locations on one of his projects to protect the bats.

When they head out to Vegas for a weekend away from real life, they were expecting a break from each other. They weren’t expecting to have a wild night together and then get married before heading back home. Cole needs a wife and Olivia wants to save the bats so getting married would solve both of their problems. Right? It was only supposed to last three months but true love doesn’t work like that.

This book was a pretty quick read for me. It was a pretty solid read even though there were times when I wanted to kick both the hero and the heroine in the shins. The dialogue was kind of hard to follow in the beginning too but overall, it was still enjoyable.

At first, I didn’t think I would like either Cole or Olivia all that much but that changed over the course of the book. They ended up being pretty great and I’m glad that I picked this up for review. The chemistry between Cole and Olivia was fantastic and I loved seeing them come together in love. The rest of the cast charmed me and I will definitely be reading more from this author. This was a fun read that is perfect for beach season.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Twist by Kylie Scott

Posted April 19, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Twist by Kylie ScottReviewer: Tracy
Twist by Kylie Scott
Series: Dive Bar #2
Also in this series: Dirty, Dirty
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: April 11th 2017
Pages: 288
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four-stars

When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot, bearded, bartender extraordinaire, Joe Collins, only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, friendly, and pretty much everything he's been looking for in a woman. And in no time at all they're emailing up a storm, telling each other their deepest darkest secrets... apart from the one that really matters.

And when it comes to love, serving it straight up works better than with a twist.

Alex Parks works from home in Seattle.  She signed up on an online dating site and has been emailing back and forth with a super-hot guy named Eric.  She’s knows it’s his birthday and that he’ll have a get-together with friends and family at Dive Bar, where he is part owner.  Alex hadn’t heard from Eric for a few weeks so decides to fly to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to surprise him.  Eric’s incredibly surprised when she arrives because he has absolutely no idea who she is.  It turns out that Alex had been getting catfished by Eric’s brother, Joe.

Joe had helped Eric sign up for the dating site but Eric quickly lost interest.  Joe planned on shutting Eric’s account down but when he saw a message from Alex he answered her…as Eric.  Six months had gone by and Joe still hadn’t come clean about the fact that he wasn’t who he said he was.  When he sees Alex he’s more than freaked out that she’s in Dive Bar but truly wants to talk to he and get to know her.  She’s mad at both Joe for being an idiot and herself for falling for someone online.  Joe is persistent and doesn’t give up trying with Alex.  Eventually Alex decides to hear him out but instead of heading home to Seattle after their talk, she gets the flu.  She’s miserable but Joe is there to help her.  As the two get to know each other they become friends for real and then so much more.

This was a great book.  I really loved both Alex and Joe and together they made me laugh, a lot.  They worked together so well and played off each other’s strengths.  Alex was a snarky woman and I loved that.  The fact that Joe could not only keep up but give it back to her made me like them even more.

The friends to lovers aspect of the book was done well, I thought, especially in light of Joe’s catfishing.  Once they became lovers I thought nothing could break them apart but of course the author proved me wrong.  Fortunately they got their HEA and I was quite pleased with the outcome of the book.

If you haven’t read either Dirty or Twist, you really need to as they’re darned good books.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Oh, and this cover? Yum. 🙂

four-stars


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Guest Review: Buck Naked by Evangeline Anderson

Posted April 6, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Buck Naked by Evangeline AndersonReviewer: Tracy
Buck Naked by Evangeline Anderson
Series: Cougarville Series #1
Published by St. Martin's Press, Swerve
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
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three-half-stars

Sadie Becker is not herself. A 40-year-old, divorced mother of two, Sadie wakes up one morning and realizes that she looks and feels like she did in her twenties. Suddenly she’s unable to walk around in her new town of Cougarville without men falling at her feet. Confused and alone, Sadie isn’t sure who to turn to…except answers to her problems might reside with her broodingly handsome reclusive neighbor, Mathis.

An alpha shifter, Mathis lost the love of his life, and he knows he’ll never find another mate. But his innocent new neighbor clearly doesn’t know the danger she’s in, and he's the only one who can save her.

But when the attraction pulls too strong, will Mathis’ animal nature be unleashed and claim Sadie for his own?

Sadie wakes up on her 40th birthday, looks in the mirror, and can’t believe how she looks.  She looks about 20 years younger and she’s a bit freaked out by it.  She starting a new job so she has to get to town.  She’s just got divorced from her cheating husband and moved to a cabin in a town fondly called Cougarville by its residents.  Her mother left the cabin to her after she died but neither Sadie nor her twin, Samantha, knew anything about it.

Her first day in town doesn’t go exactly as she thought it would.  No one will serve her, they keep calling her “Juvie,” they act like she’s got leprosy and they keep kicking her out of her businesses.  Someone even slashes her tires!  When she ends up crying on her hot neighbor’s porch he eventually explains that everyone is calling her “Juvie” because she’s got a shifter gene in her that makes her someone who rejuvenates when they hit anywhere from 40-50 years old.  They are the only ones that can breed new shifters and they’re very rare.  Apparently her mother was one as well and now all the men want her and all the women hate her because they’re not a juvie as well.  Sadie is stunned by this news but soon handles it with aplomb – probably because she gets to get naked with her hot neighbor, Mathis.  Unfortunately the mayor of Cougarville, Liam Keller, wants Sadie for himself and he’s not afraid to play dirty to get her.

Buck Naked was a cute erotic PNR.  Anderson put a nice twist on the whole shifter/mating thing which made things a little more interesting.  What also made things different in this story was the fact that all of the shifters in Cougarville shifted into animals from the Paleolithic era (yes, the Stone Age).  We only got to read about Mathis’s Irish Elk and Keller’s cougar which was more like a saber-tooth tiger.  I’m sure there were other animals in town but I have no idea what they were.

Sadie was a sweet woman but was more than clueless when it came to the town.  I wouldn’t have put up with the town’s shit they were shoveling out but she just kind of ran instead of getting answers.  Mathis was great to her and I loved how he cared for her when she needed him.

Mathis was a good man.  He had been married before and loved his wife.  He has sworn to after she died that he would never take another mate and hadn’t been with a woman in 20 years.  He tried his best to stay away from Sadie but found himself falling in love with her.  It happened quickly but it was still cute.

Overall a good start to a paranormal series. Of course there is A LOT of sex in the story because it was an erotic romance.  Anderson always writes good sex scenes, that’s for sure.  If you want a quick, sexy read then grab this one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Totally apart from the story…what is up with the guy on the cover of this book? I can’t stop laughing! Is that supposed to be a sexy smirk? Fail. He looks like he’s trying to get something out of his teeth. And his eyes…he’s not cross-eyed but the way he’s looking to the side certainly makes it look that way. Weird.

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Lady and the Highlander by Lecia Corwall

Posted April 5, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Lady and the Highlander by Lecia CorwallReviewer: Tracy
The Lady and the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall
Series: A Highland Fairy Tale #3
Also in this series: Beauty and the Highland Beast, When a Laird Finds a Lass
Published by St. Martin's Press, Swerve
Publication Date: April 4th 2017
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four-stars

Laire MacLeod’s father has married a mysterious widow who is a vain beauty that deals with potions and spells. Laire does not drink them with the rest of her family and is the only one who could see through her stepmother’s games. When Laire flees to find help from her Uncle the Lady’s huntsman follows her with orders to kill. Laire must survive in a dangerous new city and find the antidote to a poisonous potion before it is too late.

Iain Lindsay is cursed. He is bound for seven years to be the hunter of a Lady who uses him to bring back birds to use in her potions. When Laire MacLeod escapes the Lady’s nets, Iain tracks her to Edinburgh, where she’s found shelter with an unusual band of thieves, but he cannot bring himself to harm her. Instead, he finds himself falling in love with the MacLeod beauty.

But a Highlander’s oath is his bond, and the price for helping her is death, both his own, and of those he loves.

Laire MacLeod is frightened for her family.  She is one of 11 daughters – her father has been married 8 times.  Laire has loved all of the different women in her father’s life until he married Bibiana.  Laire knows that there is something strange going on with her.  Her sisters aren’t acting normal.  Her father is so entranced by Bibiana that he can literally not take his eyes off of her.  Laire decides that she needs to get away and seek help for her family before Bibiana does something horrible to them but Bibiana sends her huntsman after Laire.

Ian Lindsay, once a Laird in his own right, is bound to work for Bibiana for seven years.  That time is almost up and he wants desperately to get away from the witch, for that’s what she is, a witch.  When he is sent out to find Laire and bring back her heart he doesn’t want to do it.  He was attracted to Laire and doesn’t want to hurt her but he also knows there is no naysaying Bibiana.

Ian follows Laire to Edinburgh and plans to kill her but when he gets there he starts to see the potential of a real life and not one that involves Bibiana.  Laire is determined to find something that will stop Bibiana from hurting her family and she won’t let anyone stop her, no matter what it takes.

The Lady and the Highlander was a great book.  It was magic and fantasy blended so nicely with a Scottish highland romance.  The story was a take off of Snow White but I thought the way that Cornwall wrote the story was very original.  The “dwarves” weren’t dwarves at all and were actually child thieves.  I’m not sure what it was about the story that drew me in so quickly but I thought it was a charming story.  Yes, it was nutty as we didn’t really understand what Bibiana was doing to the people until later but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book.

Cornwall definitely has a gift for rewriting fairy tales.  I’ve enjoyed her interpretations of Beauty and the Beast as well as The Little Mermaid as well as this book.  I hope she continues writing the Highland Fairy Tale series because she’s writes them really well.

Rating: 4 out of 5  

four-stars


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