Tag: Berkley Heat

Summer Reading Challenge Review: Coming Undone by Lauren Dane

Posted August 1, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Summer Reading Challenge Review: Coming Undone by Lauren DaneReviewer: Rowena
Coming Undone (Brown Family, #2) by Lauren Dane
Series: Brown Family #2
Also in this series: Drawn Together, Inside Out
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley Heat
Publication Date: January 5, 2010
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 291
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

A new novel of "toe-curling" erotic romance from the national bestselling author of Laid Bare.

After his parents' death, Brody gave up a promising career to care for his family. Now, with his siblings grown, Brody owns his own business, and for the first time in years he's alone. Elise has come to Seattle with her daughter to find peace. After years as a world-famous ballerina-and trapped in a marriage gone bad-she's looking for neither love nor attention. But she finds both in the handsome, honest man who befriends her with no strings attached.

Brody and Elise discover in each other the wild, physical passion they need. But it'll take a shadow from Elise's past to make them look beyond what they need-to what they truly desire.

I started my Summer Reading challenge with one of Holly’s picks and I’m happy to report that I really liked it. I read Coming Undone by Lauren Dane and I completely adore the Brown family.

So this book features the eldest of the Brown siblings, Brody as he falls head over heels in love with his new single Mom neighbor, Elise Sorenson. Brody spent most of his life taking care of his younger siblings after their parents died and he’s never thought much on it. He just did what needed to be done. He’s been doing it all his life and being the head of his house, it’s second nature for him to boss his loved ones around. He loves to take care of those that he loves and the more time he spends with Elise and Rennie, the more he wants to take care of them…and that goes into overdrive when Elise and Rennie need some protecting.

Elise is new in town because she needed a fresh start. She’s coming off a really bad marriage that came with a lot of emotional baggage and she needs to leave all of that baggage in New York so that she can give her daughter a bright future. Her late husband’s in-laws are giving her trouble no matter where she goes and it’s getting exhausting fighting them to keep her daughter. They’re rich and they’re mean and they blame her for everything. It’s important to her that she fight them on her own. That she handle her own business but having Brody’s support means the world to her. She hadn’t planned on falling in love with Brody but it happened and while their relationship isn’t perfect, it was still theirs.

The romance between Brody and Elise was a grown-up kind of romance and I really enjoyed it. I liked seeing them come together and I really liked seeing how close Brody got to Rennie. They bonded really early on and the love that Brody felt for both of his girls was cute. I liked getting to know Brody’s siblings through their interactions with Brody.

I really connected with Elise’s character because of the way that she always thought about Rennie first. She was a good Mom who did the best that she could and you can see how genuine her love for her kid and her parents were. The way that she reacted to Raven is how I, as a mother, would have reacted and even though Raven was a freaking shit for the way that she treated Elise, Elise handled her a lot differently than I would have but even so, as awful as Raven was, I didn’t hate her. Her jealous game was strong. I wanted to punch her when she tried to get in between Elise and Brody but I got over it once Raven did.

Overall, this was a great story. The sex was freaking steamy as shit and I really felt that Brody and Elise were in love so kudos on Lauren Dane for giving us a sweet romance with lots of heat. I’m definitely interested in continuing this series.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

Brown Family

four-stars


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Review: The Expert’s Guide to Driving a Man Wild by Jessica Clare

Posted January 9, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: The Expert’s Guide to Driving a Man Wild by Jessica ClareReviewer: Holly
The Expert's Guide to Driving a Man Wild by Jessica Clare
Series: Bluebonnet #3
Also in this series: The Virgin's Guide to Misbehaving
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: January 7th 2014
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 320
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Being out of control… 

The product of a rigid upbringing, Brenna has grown into a sexy free spirit who does things her way. No possessions, no debt, no man, and no rules to tie her down. And if she has to work, what better way than as assistant in a wilderness expedition team? So many opportunities to go wild. 

…can be risky when you’re falling in love. 

One person who doesn’t “get” Brenna is her boss, Grant. He prefers order and emotions kept in check, which means Brenna loves to push his boundaries. He’d be impossible to work for if he wasn’t so infuriatingly hot. But when his overbearing, matchmaking mother arrives in town, Brenna volunteers to be Grant’s pretend girlfriend. After all, it’s the perfect opportunity to drive Grant crazy at every turn. 

Brenna’s just a little surprised when Grant agrees to her wild, impulsive schemes. And she’s more than a little surprised when their games take them to the bedroom…
From the Paperback edition.

 

The Expert’s Guide to Driving a Man Wild is the first Bluebonnet book I’ve read. I don’t feel like I missed much by having skipped the first two.

Brenna is Grant’s assistant. She does her best to drive him crazy and get under his skin, mostly because she likes messing up his orderly life. But when Grant’s family comes to town and she feels like they’re pressuring him, she can’t stand by and let it happen. She decides to intervene…by pretending to be his girlfriend.

The last person Grant expected to come to his defense when his family started pressuring him to date again was Brenna. For months they’ve barely been able to stand each other, but he can’t deny her quick defense of him makes him feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And speaking of warm and fuzzy…the chemistry between them is off the charts.

Neither Grant nor Brenna is looking for something permanent when they begin their charade, but when things heat up in the bedroom Grant wants Brenna to make a commitment – something she isn’t able to do.

This book is refreshing in that the hero is the one who has sex once and decides he’s in love with the girl. That doesn’t happen very often in romance. Usually it’s the woman who decides she’s in lurrve after once between the sheets. I thought that aspect of the book was well done.

I really enjoyed both Brenna and Grant. Brenna is bright and upbeat, which countered Grant’s uptight, almost stuffy air very well. She’s all about taking life one day at a time and looking for the best in each moment. But she’s hiding some deep secrets, ones that make her pull away from anyone getting too close. Grant suffered his own hardships in the past and has a hard time accepting Brenna as she is. I thought both of their issues were deep ones and were dealt with well. Neither were brushed aside or not dealt with in the end.

Unfortunately I did struggle with how long it took to get to the bottom of their issues. I don’t say this often, but there was almost too much sex. The story only took up about 1/3 of the book. The rest was all sex. That isn’t always a bad thing, but in this case it seriously detracted from the major issues of both main characters.

There was also a few chapters from the point-of-view of Grant’s sister, Elise, whose book will be released next. Those had no bearing on the current story and served only to set up the next book. Had there been a secondary plot featuring Elise running concurrent to the main story, I wouldn’t have been bothered. As it stands, I just got irritated when the chapters from Elise popped up.

This was a good story with fun characters that had surprising depth. Had the book focused more on their romance and less on their sex life, I would have enjoyed it more.

3.5 out of 5

This book is available from Berkley Heat. You can buy it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided from the publisher for an honest review.

three-half-stars


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Review: Tart by Lauren Dane

Posted November 2, 2012 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Publisher: Berkley, Penguin

Holly‘s review of Tart (Delicious, Book 3) by Lauren Dane

USA Today bestselling author Lauren Dane serves up a sweet, sensual, and hot-to-the-touch novel in which one woman’s most intimate desires are stirred by two very special ingredients

Juliet Lamprey is having the time of her life running her successful bakery, TART, when Gideon Carter comes back into her life. Returning home to help his grandfather run the family on the farm, Gideon is back for good. When they meet again, the spark between them is immediate, and it isn’t long before the former childhood friends play catch up in bed.

That’s not good news for local lawyer Cal Whaley. Though the sexually open but strictly monogamous Cal has loved Jules for a long time, he’s hardly ever taken it further than friendship. When he sees her start to fall for Gideon, he knows he has to make his move or risk losing her forever.

Who would have anticipated that all three of them would connect on such an intimate level? The trio’s scalding liaisons take them places they’ve never dreamed. But such an intensely passionate and unusual relationship comes with equally as complicated emotions, and when Jules must suddenly leave town, she wonders if she’ll have a choice to make when she returns.

Tart is book three in Dane’s Delicious series, an off-shoot of her wildly popular Brown Siblings series. The Brown siblings show up occasionally, or are mentioned, but the focus stays on the new characters. I like that.

Juliet Lamprey has been half in love with Cal Whaley, her best friend’s brother, forever. They grew up together and she started crushing on him as a girl and it grew from there. Unfortunately for her, Cal is mostly gay and – aside from one kiss they shared back in the day – not interested in her. When Gideon Carter comes back to help his grandfather run their family farm, Juliet is surprised to feel a good amount of attraction to him. Since she’s been on a dry spell, she figures this is the prefect opportunity to have a little fun. But it turns out there’s more than attraction between them. What starts out as a mild flirtation quickly becomes more.

They’re mostly in love before Cal realizes he’s about to lose his chance with Juliet. He hasn’t made a  move on her because he’s afraid of losing their friendship if they deepen things. Since she’s his sister’s best friend and grew up as one of the family, their relationship isn’t the only one that would suffer if something went wrong. But when he sees how she is with Gideon, he knows he can’t let her go.

Gideon wants Jules. He knew before they ever got started that she was going to be more than a fling. He isn’t about to lose her to Cal..but that means he might have to share her. He realizes quickly that her feelings for Cal are deep and won’t easily be ignored. Though she chooses Gideon when Cal backs her into a corner, he knows a part of her wants to be with Cal. So he suggests they try a threesome..not for a single night, but as a relationship. The truth is, he’s been with men in the past and he’s attracted to Cal. And if that means he doesn’t lose Jules, well, he’s willing to do whatever it takes.

Juliet is torn between two men. Can she have both? Will they be able to make it?

One of the things I love about Dane’s menage novels is how she tackles the real problems that would come about in this type of relationship. The stigma in society and the toll an unconventional lifestyle takes on family and friends is well covered here. This isn’t a decision they can make lightly. Not only are their outside influences to consider, but the trials and tribulations three people face while trying to make a triad work.

Juliet is a strong woman. She owns her own business – which she just expanded – and knows her own mind. She isn’t the type to cling to a man or rely on someone to take care of her. So for her to end up in a relationship with two strong-willed alpha-males..well, let’s just say it takes some adjusting. I liked that she was practical in her approach to their relationship and not afraid to tackle the heavy stuff. My heart hurt for her when it came to the relationship she had with her family and I wish she’d stood up for herself a little sooner, but at the end of the day she was someone I respected.

I liked both Gideon and Cal, though my opinion of Cal was slightly tarnished because of the way he went about letting Jules know he was interested. I felt like he should have manned up long before then, or at least gone about expressing his feelings in a different way. Still, it was obvious he cared for her and wanted her happiness above all else, so I was able to forgive him.

The three of them had a strong relationship. They didn’t make the decision lightly and they had to work hard for it, but they each gave it their all.

I really enjoy Dane’s fresh approach to contemporary romance. This is a strong series that features great relationships and emotional bonds. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something a little spicy and a lot fun.

4 out of 5

This book is available from Berkley. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.


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Guest Review: Masquerade by Sheri Whitefeather

Posted April 9, 2010 by Ames in Reviews | 0 Comments

Publisher: Berkley, Penguin


Ame’s review of Masquerade by Sheri Whitefeather.

Bombshell heiress Amber Pontiero is looking for fun-and she’s going to find it in Luke and Jay, two former lovers now eager to complete the perfect threesome. There are no rules-only soul-stirring pleasure. But things change when Luke starts looking into Amber’s family tree. Specifically, her great-great grandfather Curtis, who was at the center of an infamous love that ended in murder and a royal scandal.
It’s a path of consuming desire repeating itself a century later, leaving Amber to realize that when it comes to love there is a point of no return-no matter what the risk.

I read Sheri’s The Art of Desire last year and enjoyed it enough that I thought I’d give Masquerade a go as well. It features three characters that were introduced in the Art of Desire but can be read as a stand-alone title.

Amber, Luke and Jay met at a masquerade ball and had a scorching ménage à trois experience. And that’s how Amber likes it. With two men in her bed, she can’t let intimacy (emotional intimacy) sneak up on her and make her fall in love. With four step-fathers in her past, she knows not to believe in marriage and love. And the guys have invited her back to California to repeat the experience. Luke is doing it as a way to bring Amber back into his life (he’s an idealist) and Jay does it because Amber is smoking hot and he needs to get over his ex-wife. Amber does it because she had a great time with the guys and she wouldn’t mind a month long sex-fest.

But as soon as she arrives in Cali, Luke’s jealousy makes itself known and he demands some one-on-one time sometime over the next month. Amber gives in, but she’s very leery of being alone with Luke. Because he pulls at her emotions. Jay not so much. She cares about him, but there’s an extra pull with Luke. Can Luke make Amber fall in love with him in one month?

Also running current to Amber’s story is the story of her ancestor, Curtis Wells, an american gun maker from the 1800s. The story is actually told from Curtis’s lover’s point of view. This method of having two stories being told simultaneously also occurred in the Art of Desire.

I was not invested in Curtis and Ellen’s story. Come to think of it, I was not really invested in Amber, Luke and Jay’s story either. And that’s a shame. I thought Amber’s fear of commitment was immature. I can’t explain why I thought that, but I did. And her coming around at the end was too simple. Since Masquerade is from the Heat line of Berkley, you know there’s going to be some hot loving and maybe there was too much sex and not enough emotion. Maybe that’s why Amber’s turnaround didn’t work for me.

All in all, Masquerade was just an ok read for me. It wasn’t bad, but I just could not connect to the characters. Someone else may have better luck than I.

3 out of 5

You can read more from Ames at Thrifty Reader.

This book is available from Berkley Heat. You can buy it here.


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Guest Review: Sweet Seduction by Maya Banks

Posted November 17, 2009 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 3 Comments

Publisher: Berkley, Penguin


Lori‘s review of Sweet Seduction (Sweet series, Book 3) by Maya Banks

He was the stuff erotic dreams are made of

Salon owner Julie Stanford wanted Nathan Tucker ever since she gave him his first massage. Getting paid to feel every inch of his body, stripped, oiled, and spread out in front of her? Stuff dreams are made of. But the sexy lug was oblivious to the signals she was sending—until she finished off his final rub-down with something extra. In fact, the best extra he ever had. Unfortunately, he came around too late. Now Julie’s moving on…

She was everything he’d dreamed of

The woman was driving him crazy. She lit fire to his insides then ran like a scalded cat. And now she’s going to someone else to have all her fantasies fulfilled? Over his dead body… He’s more than willing to give her what she wants, and as soon as he pins the little minx down, he’d show her his own brand of sweet seduction.


This is the 3rd book in the “Sweet” series from Banks. I haven’t read the other 2, but I have read several other books from Banks, and have enjoyed them all. This book had several of the things that I really like in my contemps: great friendships between the men and between the women (and between the men and women), loads of humor, great sex, the alpha male brought to his knees by his woman.

Nathan and Julie have been hot for each other for a long time. Julie finally gets tired of Nathan not making a move and decides to call it a day. She decides to embark on a sexual journey, and that drives Nathan absolutely bat-shit crazy.

Where the book sparkles is the relationships between Julie, Faith, and Serena and between Nathan, Micah, and Connor (and to some extent Gray and Damon). I always enjoy reading about true girlfriends and also the dynamic between guy friends. The other thing that I enjoyed in this book is that there is true camaraderie between the two groups – the guys and girls are all friends, and true affection shines through. Banks also excels when showing the relationship one-on-one between Julie and Nathan. When they open up together and really talk through their issues, it was great. The sex between them was open and honest. I really liked that.

What I didn’t care for was the inherent dishonesty on Nathan’s part by choosing to keep his and Micah’s role in Julie’s threesome a secret. Granted, she insisted upon anonymity, but I thought that lent an air of dishonesty to their relationship that I wouldn’t have been able to overcome. OTOH, I understood that Nathan couldn’t bear to know that Julie was having sex with anyone other than himself.

Which brings me to my last question about this book (and several others I’ve read that involve ménage). I often wonder how a relationship can’t be forever altered when one person is constantly regretting sharing the other. Nathan is always thinking “Mine” and wishing he wasn’t sharing Julie with Micah, while at the same time knowing that there was no one else he would ever trust in the situation. How can that not affect a relationship in the long-term? Just food for thought, because I see this cropping up more and more in books that contain ménage, and if it’s a fully consensual one, where all 3 parties are completely on board, then I’m down with a great ménage scene. Yum. But if one of the parties has reservations? Hmmm…… how can that not come back to haunt you later on? What do you think about that? Have you noticed this trend?

Anyway, ménage aside, I did love the dialogue, the interactions, the friendships, and the sex in this book. I found both Nathan and Julie to be vulnerable and sweet, although Julie did get on my nerves for being so stubborn after a while. And Banks has the perfect contemporary voice – her characters walk and talk like real people. You can imagine hanging out, sharing a beer, and laughing your ass off with them. I didn’t feel as though I was unable to follow this book by not having read the first two. It stands alone, IMO, but would be enhanced by reading the others. I’ll pick them up anyway, simply because I enjoyed this one, and want to read Faith and Serena’s stories.

3.75 out of 5

The Series:

Book CoverBook CoverBook Cover

Coming April, 2010:

Book Cover

This book is available from Berkley Heat. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

Read more from Lori at Living in the House of Testosterone and I Just Finished Reading…


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