Tag: 4.5 Reviews

Review: Dungeon Royale by Lexi Blake

Posted February 16, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Dungeon Royale by Lexi BlakeReviewer: Casee
Dungeon Royale by Lexi Blake
Series: Masters and Mercenaries #6
Also in this series: Love and Let Die
Published by LLC
Publication Date: February 18th 2014
Genres: Romance, Romantic Suspense, BDSM
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four-half-stars

Broken by betrayal, one woman holds the secret to his redemption…

An agent broken

MI6 agent Damon Knight prided himself on always being in control. His missions were executed with cold, calculating precision. His club, The Garden, was run with an equally ordered and detached decadence. But his perfect world was shattered by one bullet, fired from the gun of his former partner. That betrayal almost cost him his life and ruined his career. His handlers want him to retire, threatening to revoke his license to kill if he doesn’t drop his obsession with a shadowy organization called The Collective. To earn their trust, he has to prove himself on a unique assignment with an equally unusual partner.

A woman tempted

Penelope Cash has spent her whole life wanting more. More passion. More adventure. But duty has forced her to live a quiet life. Her only excitement is watching the agents of MI6 as they save England and the world. Despite her training, she’s only an analyst. The closest she is allowed to danger and intrigue is in her dreams, which are often filled with one Damon Knight. But everything changes when the woman assigned to pose as Damon’s submissive on his latest mission is incapacitated. Penny is suddenly faced with a decision. Stay in her safe little world or risk her life and her heart for Queen and country.

An enemy revealed

With the McKay-Taggart team at their side, Damon and Penny hunt an international terrorist across the great cities of Northern Europe. Playing the part of her Master, Damon begins to learn that under Penny’s mousy exterior is a passionate submissive, one who just might lay claim to his cold heart. But when Damon’s true enemy is brought out of the shadows, it might be Penny who pays the ultimate price.

Another hit on the books for Lexi Blake! By now I’ve read almost every book in Blake’s Masters and Mercenaries series. Dungeon Royale is my favorite of the bunch. I don’t know why exactly, but I’m going to take a leap and say it’s all Damon Knight.

So Damon was shot by his double agent partner at the end of Love and Let Die. It happened right after he realized that Baz was the leak and he was working for The Collective. He fully expected to die, but was found just in time. Damon feels defeated and betrayed when he thinks of Baz; he can’t believe his partner of ten years was not only a traitor, but that he also tried to kill him.

When Damon returns to SIS (MI6) seven months later, he is told by his superior that he will have to take a desk job. The bullet went into his lungs and they had to remove a part of one so he would live. Damon doesn’t know what he will do if he’s not in the field and convinces Nigel to give him a chance to prove himself. What seems like an easy peasy mission turns into something more when The Collective is involved.

Penelope Cash has worked at SIS for years. She’s watched Damon from afar, but never approached him nor does she intend to. Still dealing with the loss of her mother, Penny has shut down. When Nigel and Damon call her in and tell her she’s needed on the mission, she is hesitant. It’s a BDSM cruise and she is far from the kind of girl that would get into that lifestyle. Or so she thought.

Are there really BDSM cruises? I just have to ask.

Damon handpicked Penelope because she was the only one that appealed to him. He soon realizes how perfectly innocent she is. He also realizes that Penelope is far from vanilla, she just doesn’t know it. Damon takes it upon himself to teach her that submitting is nothing to be ashamed of.

The BDSM of this series is really good. It’s all about meeting the needs of your partner, not one partner dominating the other anywhere but the bedroom. Damon was so damaged when this book started. It was fun watching him fall for Penelope. I really loved Penelope too. There is only one person that can handle Damon and that’s her. She just has to show him that he deserves to be loved.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

four-half-stars

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Retro Review: Once Smitten, Twice Shy by Lori Wilde

Posted February 15, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Retro Review: Once Smitten, Twice Shy by Lori WildeReviewer: Holly
Once Smitten, Twice Shy by Lori Wilde
Series: Wedding Veil Wishes #2
Also in this series: Addicted to Love
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: December 14th 2008
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, General
Pages: 384
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four-half-stars

Legend claims this antigue Irish wedding veil can grant your heart's deepest desire. But be careful what you wish for...
Wedding videographer Tish Gallagher is at the end of her rope. Her business is about to go bust. She's just spent her last buck on nonreturnable (but oh so fabulous) shoes. And her most sustainable relationship is with a pint of Haagen Dazs. So she makes a wish on the lucky wedding veil to get out of debt...and sees the man she never stopped loving, her ex-husband, secret service agent Shane Tremont. Sure, their chemistry was off-the-charts sizzling hot, but their clashes were legendary, and no amount of longing will change that.
When her dream job of recording the first daughter's wedding appears out of the blue, Tish knows it's her only shot to get out of the red. Just one teensy glitch: Shane is the groom. From the moment they see each other, she knows nothing's changed--the same old black magic is still between them, as irresistible and potent as ever. But he's promised to another and Tish has been burned before. Will she always be...ONCE SMITTEN, TWICE SHY?

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

I still have very fond memories of this series. I stopped reading Wilde some time back, but I often think back fondly on these books.

This review was originally published February 02, 2008

This is the second book in Lori Wilde’s Wedding Veil Wishes series. I didn’t read the first book, and don’t feel I missed anything by having skipped it. I think at some point I’ll pick it up, just because I like to read all the books in a series, but I never felt like I missed something while reading this book.

Shane has no idea what he was thinking to propose to the President’s daughter. But she’d caught him in a weak moment, staring at him like he was ten feet tall and bullet proof after he’d put his life on the line for hers. And now she’s concocted some scheme involving his ex-wife – the ex he still cares about more than he should.

Elysee knows Shane needs to make peace with the past if their marriage is going to work, so she hires Tish thinking they’ll be able to heal old wounds if they spend enough time together. But even she couldn’t have predicted just how much history there was between Tish and Shane, and just what they’d need to move past old hurts. And now she’s wondering if she made a grave mistake, because not only has she seen the looks the former couple pass between them, but she’s been getting some looks of her own, from her #1 bodyguard, Cal Ackerman.

I must confess, normally a story where one of the main protagonists is engaged to someone else would immediately turn me off. But in this case, it didn’t bother me a bit. I think the author did a fabulous job of writing an unconventional story that really worked.

This story is a somewhat predictable piece of fluff, but it was engaging and I really enjoyed it. Well, I enjoyed it until close the the end, that is.

You see, Wilde did a fabulous job of keeping the focus on the main trio of characters. Elysee, Tish and Shane were shown in equal light, each with their own demons to battle and insecurities to overcome. I empathized with all three, understanding perfectly their personal issues. Shane, the wounded hero who just needed to be needed. Tish, the independent free spirit who needed someone to lean on. Elysee, the hopeless romantic who wanted nothing more than a knight in shining armor to sweep her away.

But then, more than 3/4 of the way through the book, a new element was introduced…that of a terrorist group who wanted to assassinate a woman who was trying to escape India. The thing is, there was nothing leading up to the sudden twist in the story. For almost the entire book, the focus remained on the three main characters and then BAM, all of a sudden Tish is being attacked and Shane needs to save her and Elysee is involved in an international rescue plot and there’s a murderer out to get them all. But..uh..I must have missed a memo, because that seriously came out of nowhere.

Despite that, however, I liked the book. I loved Tish and Shane together and I’m hopeful that Elysee will get a story of her own someday. Basically, buy this book for the romance, but don’t be surprised if it goes in a strange direction unexpectedly.

Even though I had a major issue with the latter half of the book, I’m still giving this:

4.5 out of 5

Because I really, really liked the rest of it.

The series:

There Goes the Bride
Once Smitten Twice Shy
Addicted to Love
All of Me

You can buy it here in paperback or here or here.

four-half-stars

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Review: Satisfaction by Lexi Blake

Posted February 13, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Satisfaction by Lexi BlakeReviewer: Casee
Satisfaction by Lexi Blake
Series: Lawless Series #2
Also in this series: Ruthless, Satisfaction
Published by Berkley Books
Publication Date: January 3rd 2017
Genres: Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
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four-half-stars

The sizzling second novel in a sexy new contemporary romance series featuring the Lawless siblings from "New York Times "bestselling author Lexi Blake. Brandon Lawless is a man on a mission: obtain the information that will clear his father s name. He s willing to do whatever it takes even seduce his enemy s personal assistant, the beautiful and innocent Carly Hendricks. But with her beguiling smile and captivating intelligence, Brandon soon realizes he doesn t want to deceive Carly, he wants to win her over both in the boardroom and the bedroom. Then a twisted crime leaves Carly vulnerable and Brandon finds himself reeling. The stakes of his mission are now life or death Carly s life. And Brandon realizes he s lost his heart to an amazing woman and his plan must succeed, because the stakes are no longer just revenge, but a once in a lifetime love."

I absolutely loved this book. This is the best book I’ve read this year. I know it’s only been a month, but I couldn’t put this book down. Bran. Brandon. Bran. Bran. Bran. Bran. Oh how I love thee. I really thought I would want Drew’s book because he was so nerdy in a hot kind of way, but Bran really snuck up on me and just smacked me in the face.

Drew was supposed to be the one that went in and swooped Carly off her feet a la Riley and Ellie. Bran wasn’t so keen on that plan, so he went in before Drew could and laid it out straight. Patricia Cain murdered his parents, he and his siblings were taking her down, could she please help? Cue the misbelief. Not that Patricia Cain was innocent. Carly didn’t have blinders on when it came to her boss. She knew exactly what kind of woman she was. No, Carly thought that Bran was batshit crazy.

Carly was exactly the kind of woman that Bran was drawn to. A woman that needed help. Not to mention the hotness factor. Bran knows that his plan to lay it out for her was exactly right. Having Drew go in and manipulate her the way that Riley did to Ellie would never have worked out. This way, Bran could help her with her problems (which were many) and the Lawless siblings could take down Patricia Cain. If Bran could get some time with Carly between now and then, all the better.

When Carly leaves Bran, she still isn’t sure. That all changes when her ex-husband’s problems turn up on her doorstep quite literally. Suddenly she’s calling Bran and he’s sleeping on her couch. She’s agreed to help him and he’s pretending to be her boyfriend. Then they’re not pretending. Carly is falling in love with a man that might not know how to love her back. It’s readily apparent that Bran has issues that he refuses to acknowledge let alone discuss.

Bran had a serious case of PTSD stemming from his childhood. While the Lawless siblings are closer than most, they have more problems than most as well. Bran was left in foster care long after he should have been. Drew finally admits that it was easier for Bran to be left in the system while he was starting up 4L than to bring him home. He tells Bran that revenge came first. It was heartbreaking. Once that comes out in the open, it finally brings Bran some peace.

Carly and Bran are just perfect for each other. Carly has so little control in her life thanks to Patricia Cain that she grabs it where she can. Bran is glad to cede control to her in every place except for the bedroom. It works surprisingly well for them. I love it. Carly was a little insecure which got a little old, but Bran more than made up for it. He was so damaged, but he confronted it head on and that was refreshing. I loved him.

There was a twist at the end of the book that I didn’t see coming and I can’t wait until June!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

four-half-stars

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Guest Review: Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh

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

Guest Review: Someone to Hold by Mary BaloghReviewer: Tracy
Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott series #2
Also in this series: Someone to Love
Published by Jove Books
Publication Date: February 7th 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
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four-half-stars

Humphrey Wescott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune and a scandalous secret that will forever alter the lives of his family—sending one daughter on a journey of self-discovery...

With her parents’ marriage declared bigamous, Camille Westcott is now illegitimate and without a title. Looking to eschew the trappings of her old life, she leaves London to teach at the Bath orphanage where her newly discovered half-sister lived. But even as she settles in, she must sit for a portrait commissioned by her grandmother and endure an artist who riles her every nerve.

An art teacher at the orphanage that was once his home, Joel Cunningham has been hired to paint the portrait of the haughty new teacher. But as Camille poses for Joel, their mutual contempt soon turns to desire. And it is only the bond between them that will allow them to weather the rough storm that lies ahead...

Camille Westcott was once Lady Camille Westcott but now that her father has died and it’s been discovered that his marriage was bigamous, Camille is just Miss Camille Westcott.  Everything that she has striven for her entire life is now…gone.  She’s at loose ends to say the least and after leaving London and hiding in her maternal grandmother’s house for a while she finally decides that she needs to do something.  She decides to take a teaching position at the orphanage where her half-sister, Anna, grew up and taught as well.  She also takes Anna’s old room at the orphanage even though her grandmother lives not that far away.  She needs to do this on her own – be independent and learn how to live without all the comforts. Yes, it’s about changing from who she was but it’s also a bit of a punishment – at least that’s the way she thinks of it.

Joel Cunningham is a portrait artist that volunteers at the orphanage where he grew up.  He comes in and teaches art a couple of times a week.  When he sees that Camille is to be the new teacher he’s not happy at all.  Anna was his best friend and he even offered her marriage at one point and to see the sister that spurned Anna now taking her place makes him mad.  She’s all tied up and military efficient and after just having a teacher that wouldn’t let the kids be kids he thinks she’ll fail as a teacher.  Except when he first comes in he sees the kids engaged and happy and Joel starts to see Camille in a different light.  He is also commissioned by Camille’s grandmother to paint portraits of both Camille and her sister Abby so he is constantly observing Camille to find out who she truly is.  He finds that she’s so many different people all rolled into one and even she’s not sure who she is.

Joel and Camille start a friendship that soon turns to more but neither one of them is sure where it’s going, if anywhere.  When Camille’s large family descends upon Bath she gets an earful from a couple of different family members that give her a lot to think about.  Likewise, Joel, who grew up an orphan finds out who his family is which ends up changing his life forever.  The lives of both Camille and Joel are in such flux that neither one is sure where they’re going but they each know who they want with them as they go.

This was a wonderful romance that I very much enjoyed reading.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Camille’s in the last book as she was, let’s face it, a total bitch to Anna.  I can understand why that was but it didn’t endear me to her at all.  Despite that I knew that Balogh would show us another side of Camille and make me like her so I was excited to read her book.  I’m so glad I did.  It was an unusual romance but it was oh, so satisfying.

To say that Camille had no idea who she was after the big reveal of her illegitimacy would be putting it mildly.  She was at such loose ends but was determined to be independent.  She had turned down her half-sister’s offer of a quarter of her fortune but her grandmother had given her a large allowance.  Camille wanted none of it because she didn’t feel she deserved it.  She had tried her whole life to be perfect.  The perfect daughter, the perfect lady, the perfect everything.  Part of this was because of her father.  She wanted his love and figured if she did no wrong he would love her and forgive her for not being a boy (she was the oldest).  That didn’t end up happening and it certainly didn’t help her when her fiancé found out she was illegitimate.  He dumped her as well.  She needed to find out if she could be imperfect and still lead a good life.  With Joel she found a friend and confidante but it was still hard for her to let herself go and just…be.  He was also confusing in his affections so that turned her round and round.  I loved reading Camille’s transformation.  The realizations she came to and decisions she made about herself and her life were sometimes harsh but that made the end result so much more satisfying.  I ended up really liking her and who she had become by the end of the book.

Joel thought he knew exactly who he was – until the information about his family came to him.  He was then at loose ends himself because he thought he never cared to know about them but when he did he found he wanted more and more.  Unfortunately he didn’t have the opportunity to learn more after a while and that depressed him.  He found that he loved being with Camille despite his first impressions of her but he didn’t know how to handle his feelings towards her and made a mess of things.  Luckily he recovered in the end and got his HEA with Camille.  He took a little long, yes, but I thought he made up for it in the end.  He was in a state of flux too so I could cut him some slack.

The book told a lovely story about Joel and Camille finding themselves.  I loved the way Balogh brought them together and had them figuring it all out while falling in love.  It was an emotional book that I found to be sweet, tender, touching, funny and romantic – all the things I love. I can’t wait to see what Balogh brings us next in the Westcott series.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars

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Retro Review: Miracle by Deborah Smith

Posted February 1, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 12 Comments

Retro Review: Miracle by Deborah SmithReviewer: Holly
Miracle by Deborah Smith
Published by Bantam, Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: October 1st 1991
Genres: Fiction, Romance, General
Pages: 464
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four-half-stars

Haunted by a past filled with poverty and abuse, Amy Miracle finds escape and release in the vineyards of Georgia--and in Sebastian de Savin, a brilliant and arrogant surgeon whose own past has hardened his heart. Amy finally breaks through de Savin's shell and teaches him to love and laugh again, and Sebastian helps Amy blossom into a magnificent woman.

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

I remember loving this book so much, but the idea of re-reading it now makes me cringe. I can’t imagine diving back into this epic mess.

This review was originally published June 11, 2007

Many thanks to Wendy for turning me on to this author. I found this novel to be very reminiscent of Danielle Steele, without the constant repetitiveness in the writing style.

Amy and Sebastian meet at his father’s Vineyard, where Amy is working. Sebastian is a brilliant surgeon and finds himself drawn to the vineyard after losing a patient. For some reason he’s drawn to Amy and finds himself returning there to see her again and again.

After a brutal fight with her father, Amy searches Sebastian out to help her with a medical problem and he offers her sanctuary at his house until she can find something new. After spending several weeks together, Sebastian has to leave for Africa and offers to pay Amy’s way through school. Though reluctant, she finally accepts and they’re separated. Sebastian is convinced Amy will be better off without him – he has major emotional baggage from a tragedy in his past – and says goodbye to her, never planning to see her again.

But over the next two years, he can’t stop thinking about her. Amy dedicates her time to her studies and fantasizing about seeing Sebastian again. But Sebastian’s family – French aristocrats – step in and drive a wedge between them – one that forces them to move on from each other physically.

Ten years later, after a major journey for each of them, Amy and Sebastian are reunited, but they’re both different people and they struggle to make the wrongs of their past right.

I truly enjoyed this story. Watching their separate journeys through life was wonderful. Amy was so shy and lacking in self-confidence in the beginning, watching her mature and grow confident in herself was wonderful. She was a strong heroine, and once she found herself, she didn’t compromise herself, not for the hero or anyone else.

Sebastian was a great hero, and a wonderful counterpart for Amy. He was extremely tortured, and desperately needed Amy’s lightness to bring him out of the darkness of his past. He suffered a lot, starting from an accident in his childhood, to a loveless marriage.

Although there was a lot of drama and the H/H were apart for most of the book, the story really worked for me. There were a few times when I was rolling my eyes, or thinking GET ON WITH IT ALREADY, but for the most part, I was just wrapped up in it, hurting for the characters and cheering them on.

I definitely recommend it.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

This book is available from Bantam. You can purchase it here.

four-half-stars

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