Tag: Brie’s Reviews

Retro-Guest Review: When A Stranger Loves me by Julianne MacLean

Posted September 27, 2017 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 2 Comments

Retro-Guest Review: When A Stranger Loves me by Julianne MacLeanReviewer: Brie
When a Stranger Loves Me (Pembroke Palace, #3) by Julianne MacLean
Series: Pembroke Palace #3
Published by Avon
Publication Date: January 27th 2009
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

I saved his life . . . and I had much to demand in return.

When he washed up on shore, I knew my prayers had been answered, and that I, Lady Chelsea Campion, need no longer fear poverty and heartbreak. To secure my family's estate, all I needed was a child. Handsome, clearly noble-born, and with no memory of his previous life, the mysterious man was perfect. All I had to do was visit his bedchamber and seduce him. I had expected him to be a skillful, scandalously wonderful lover, but once in his arms I was overcome by something more than mere passion. I had fallen hopelessly, desperately in love.

My plan has gone shockingly awry. But I will not give up a man who makes me feel such wicked ecstasy. No matter his true identity, no matter the secrets he struggles to remember, I will do anything in this world to make this stranger love me.

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

Holly: We’ve been blessed to have some pretty amazing guest reviewers over the years. From readers to other bloggers to authors and industry professionals, we’ve seen some lovely talent here.

This review was originally published on May 7, 2009

Scandalized years prior, Lady Chelsea Campion lives a life of exile on the Jersey Isles with her family. Since her brother and sister in law have been unable to create an heir to save the Earldom, Chelsea’s overbearing mother is eager to have her married off to a distant and cousin whom Chelsea does not want, but is the only man who will have a “ruined” woman. One day while walking along the beach, Chelsea comes across an injured man lying lifeless in a cave. She goes for help and the man is brought back to the family’s estate where the stranger is nursed back to health. When the stranger comes to, he has no memory of who he is, therefore, Chelsea has no way to return him back to his family.

The stranger’s extended stay does open up an opportunity for Chelsea. Not only does he incite her passion, but he seems to be the answer to her families biggest problem. Chelsea devises a plan with her brother and his wife to become pregnant by the stranger, whom she calls Jack, and then let them pass the baby off as their own. That way, Chelsea is saved from marriage to a man she doesn’t want and the Earldom remains in the family. Jack and Chelsea embark on a passionate affair until she realizes that she’s falling for him and no longer wants to keep up the charade. But before Chelsea can reveal the truth to Jack, he finds out on his own about Chelsea’s plans and in enraged. Then his brother arrives, sharing the news that “Jack” is really Blake and he is from a family of nobility and must go back to England at once.

By this point, Blake has become attached to Chelsea and even though he is beyond angry with her devious plans, he knows that she might be carrying his child so he demands that she come along. Chelsea goes, because she is in love with Blake even though he has made it clear that he wants nothing to do with her further than the child that she might be carrying. Still, all of Blake’s posturing can’t keep him from longing for Chelsea and what they shared on the Isles. But they soon find out that neither of their feelings for the other really matter because their is something from Blake’s past that promises to keep them apart, no matter how bad they want to be together.

I can’t say that I enjoyed When a Stranger Loves Me. The plot is more than a little outlandish and because of that I had a hard time getting into the story. Chelsea’s plan that she comes up with her brother and sister in law, was just plain silly. I had to wonder what kind of brother that claims to care for his sister would agree to letting her sleep with a man just so that he can pass the baby off as his. The relationship that Chelsea had with her mother was another low point. It was clear that her mother cared more about herself than anyone else, and even the so called “resolution” that they came to in the end rang false. The first half of the book was very unengaging, and the only saving grace was the second half, after Blake’s family finds him, and that was only because Chelsea took a back seat and Blake was able to shine. For my first Julianne MacLean book, this was a disappointment, but there is always next time.

3.5 out of 5

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here.

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Sea Lord by Virginia Kantra

Posted May 1, 2009 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 4 Comments

Genres: Paranormal Romance

Brie‘s review of Sea Lord (Children of the Sea, Book 3) by Virginia Kantra

He was born of the sea…

Selkie prince Conn ap Llyr denies his deeply sensual nature to rule over the immortal Children of the Sea. But when the Children of Fire threaten the Selkies’ Sanctuary, Conn must obey his haunting visions—and seek a woman thousands of miles away…

She was born on land…

Schoolteacher Lucy Hunter knows nothing about her Selkie heritage or the prophecy that drives Conn to find her. She is content with her life on the quiet Maine island of World’s End. That is, until a proud, compelling stranger appears to challenge her assumptions and awaken her desires…

Their love will tear them between two worlds…

To combat Fire, Conn needs Lucy’s magic—even if this means stealing her away to Sanctuary. As the demon threat grows, so does their passion, overcoming Lucy’s fears and Conn’s guarded heart. But soon they face a devastating choice. Will their love be enough to save them?

Conn ap Llyr is prince of the Selkies. With his people, the children of the sea, steadily declining in numbers and losing their magical abilities, he looks for their prophesied savior: a daughter of Atargatis. The prophesy says that a daughter born of selkie Atargatis’ line holds the key that will save the children of the sea. Knowing that Atargatis’ human daughter, Lucy, might hold that key, Conn leaves his people on Sanctuary and goes to find her in Worlds End, Maine.

Lucy Hunter knows nothing of her selkie background, not even that one of her older brother’s is a selkie and the other is married to one. Often left out of the loop, Lucy lives the quiet life of a schoolteacher by day and caretaker of her alcoholic father by night. When a mysterious man appears on Worlds End with ties to her brother Dylan, Lucy is curious about who Conn is exactly. But as usual, her family dis-includes her in the strange business that Conn brings with him. That doesn’t stop Conn from seeking her out, though. And with him comes desires that Lucy had thought long gone.

When Conn takes Lucy from her home on Worlds End to his on Sanctuary, Lucy is thrust into a world that she knows little of. Secrets about her families past shock her and she quickly learns that there is more to her than a quiet, awkward schoolteacher. Slowly, Lucy comes into her own and opens her eyes to who she really is. But while Lucy is traveling the path of self discovery there is evil lurking. She and Conn realize that her new abilities may be just what Conn needs to save not only his people, but humankind as well.

While I liked most of Sea Lord, I did have a few issues with the story, mainly Lucy who was a shrinking violet for half of the book. After a while, her woe-is-me attitude became grating and I wished that she would come out of her shell and get some spunk. When she did become a stronger character, the story picked up. There was also the issue I had with the claidheag that Conn made of Lucy to take her place while she was gone from Worlds End. The claidheag was simple minded and, in my opinion, not a good replacement for Lucy, but for some reason her father was able to bond with faux-Lucy better than he ever had with real Lucy, which seemed to be written as a big accomplishment form him, but annoyed me to no end.

Though it was not without its problems, Sea Lord (the final book in Virginia Kantra’s Children of the Sea Trilogy) does exactly what the last in a series should do – and that is round out the whole series and bring about a satisfying conclusion. Lucy and Conn’s story was, to me, the best of the trilogy. And even though I didn’t connect with Lucy right off, I did connect with her “coming of age” story and the love story between she and Conn, and that more than made up for my issues with Lucy. The end of the book did leave a few questions unanswered, but I think that is just leaving the door open to re-explore the world in future books. Overall, I enjoyed Sea Lord, it was a good resolution to the Children of the Sea trilogy and a worthwhile read.

4/5

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

Read more from Brie at Musings of a Bibliophile.


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Guest Review: Hot Mail by Janice Maynard

Posted February 7, 2009 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 2 Comments

Brie‘s review of Hot Mail by Janice Maynard

Jane has wanted Ethan for years but has never found a way to tell him. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, she decides to seduce him by sending anonymous erotic valentines every Friday until the big day. Then she’ll finally reveal her true feelings— and wildest desires.

But when her stationery store is vandalized, it’s Ethan who comes to her rescue—and the sparks start flying way ahead of schedule. Now Jane and her erotic alter ego are competing for Ethan’s affections— and the results couldn’t be hotter.

Jane’s tactic to win Ethan’s heart was innovative. She knew what she wanted and went for it, not even letting the years that had passed between them deter her. I liked that she was a go-getter and hoped that Ethan would see what a great woman he would get in Jane. Ethan is initially surprised by his feelings for Jane because he has always looked at her as a friend, but once the attraction sets in, he’s full steam ahead. Ethan was not relenting in his pursuit of Jane and their chemistry flicked from the pages.

Even though I liked the overall romance, I did have a couple of problems. I thought that Jane’s jealousy over her own letters was silly. She had just started having sex with Ethan and expected him to share his personal letters with her. It was an unrealistic expectation, and for her to become jealous over seemed off. Ethan was not exempt from being slapped with the silly stick. The fact that he’s a cop and couldn’t figure out that Jane was behind the letters on his own was also off. I didn’t mind that he wasn’t sharing the erotic letters with Jane (they were none of her business until he and Jane became serious) but I did mind that he wasn’t able to use his deductive reasoning and realize that Jane was the one sending them.

There is a second thread of romance between Ethan’s sister, Sherry and Randy, a deputy who works under Ethan. Randy is ten years younger than Sherry, but he’s instantly enamored with her when she begins to make lunches for the station. Sherry is reluctant to enter a relationship with Randy, though. First off he’s young and she can’t see why he would be interested in her and on top of that, she also is wary of relationships since her marriage to the father of her daughter failed. Sherry had to endure town scandal when she got pregnant as a teenager and since then has tried her best to stay out of the spotlight. This has forced Sherry into the life of a spinster, but when Randy enters the scene, she is shaken up and realizes that the desires that she thought were long buried still exist.

I liked the story between Randy and Sherry a lot. It was cute seeing Sherry find her inner sexy after years of suppressing it. Randy was sweet and his feelings for Sherry were clear from the beginning. He showed Sherry that just because she was a mother, didn’t mean that she was dead. She had raised her child and it was high time for her to really live her life. For a story so short, the emotions of both characters and the romance was pulled off well.

Overall, Hot Mail was a good book. Aside from some minor complaints, I enjoyed reading it.

4 out of 5

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

Read more from Brie at Musings of a Bibliophile.


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Guest Review: By Appointment Only by Janice Maynard

Posted August 31, 2008 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 2 Comments

Brie‘s review of By Appointment Only by Janice Maynard.(Holly: her website is pretty)

It was love (or at least lust) at first sight for Hannah and Morgan. After a whirlwind romance, Morgan’s more than eager for marriage—but Hannah has a few hang-ups and is terrified of that commitment. She suggests a couples’ premarital ‘sex therapy’ she’s heard of, hoping he’ll call her bluff, but he’s so determined to win her hand that he agrees. Suddenly they find themselves in a session with two other couples, talking to a married pair of doctors whose business is planning sex ‘scenarios’ to help couples make sure they’re compatible.

By Appointment Only follows Hannah and Morgan as they navigate their way to sexual fulfillment as a couple. Morgan has just proposed marriage to Hannah and she’s accepted. But Hannah is having second thoughts. She loves Morgan with all her heart but is convinced that all marriages fail and if she and that Morgan get married, they will fail as well. Hanna thinks that she and Morgan are fine the way they are. Morgan senses Hannah’s reluctance to tie the knot, and after she jokingly brings up sexual therapy, he decides that might be just what they need. The couple embarks on their sexual therapy journey hesitantly, but through their hot and heavy sessions they learn more and more about each other. But will it be enough to assure Hannah that marriage is the right step for her and Morgan?

There are two secondary couples that the story also follows. Shaun and Danita; a couple twenty years married and Timmy and Rachelle; newlyweds with a four month old daughter. Both couples stories were an interesting contrast to Hannah and Morgan. Shaun and Danita are attempting to revive their sexual relationship while Timmy and Rachelle, at her mother’s insistence, are trying to keep theirs from crumbling.

I wish I could say that I really enjoyed By Appointment Only. I liked the concept, but it never really pulled me in. One big problem I had was that the main couple’s beginning relationship is completely absent from the book. Their first meeting is written as the intro, but after that the story skips ahead to a time after they are already engaged. All of Hannah and Morgan’s dating and getting to know each other time period is quickly summed up in a paragraph, leaving the reader to fill in the blanks. This type of story telling is fine for the secondary characters, but for the main couple I would have liked to see them fall in love. Also, I never fully understood why Morgan thought that a week of sexual therapy would convince Hannah that they should be married. Couple’s therapy, maybe, but sexual therapy?

My final gripe is a small one, and it is that “my love” is an endearment used not only by Morgan to Hannah but by Shaun to Danita. I know it sounds silly that I’m bothered by that, but it niggled at me that both men used it. An endearment like that seems like it should be exclusive to one couple in a book, not two.

Overall,By Appointment Only was an interesting story. Reading about three couples that are already committed to their partners and working on staying that way was a different approach to erotica, but for me the book was not as satisfying as I would have liked.

3 out of 5

This book is available from NAL Trade. You can by it here or here in e-format.

Read more from Brie at Cupid’s Chokehold.


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Guest Review: When Twilight Burns by Colleen Gleason

Posted August 29, 2008 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 5 Comments

Genres: Paranormal Romance

Brie‘s review of When Twilight Burns by Colleen Gleason, book four in the Gardella Vampire Chronicles.

Ruining Victoria’s homecoming, a vampire stalks the streets of London – during the daylight. Not only is Victoria unable to detect the vampire with her heightened senses, but she’s being framed as the prime suspect behind the killings.

Meanwhile, her heart is still divided between the enigmatic Sebastian Vioget and her fellow slayer Max Pesaro. The battle is made even more difficult by the legacy of a vampire’s touch – a vampire who left in Victoria’s veins boiling blood that forces her to fight evil on two fronts: against the new breed of undead threatening London, and against the darkness within herself.


When Twilight Burns
picks up where The Bleeding Dusk left off. Victoria has been taken to the Consilium after being bitten by Sebastian’s grandfather, the Guardian Vampire, Beauregard. Though still unconscious, she is presumed to be a vampire by her closest friends, the vampire killing venators. Max is ready to stake Victoria in order to keep her from drinking from someone else as it would damn her soul to eternal hell. But when Victoria wakes it is quickly realized that she has not been turned, and other than a strange blood lust, occasionally seeing red (both of which Victoria keeps to herself), and the fact that Sebastian feels the same neck-prickling-chill around Victoria that venators feel around vampires, she is fine.

In this installment Victoria and the venators face a new threat. Now back in London and redying herself to turn over her late husband’s estate to his closest heir, Victoria is thrust back into fighting when there appears to be a vampire feeding on humans during the day. This is unheard of until now and when Victoria is the one to happen upon all of the recently dead bodies, her possible involvement in the deaths comes into question.

Victoria, Max and Sebastian must find out how it’s possible for a vampire to come out during the day, and put a stop to it in order to save all of human kind. This task won’t be an easy one, being that Victoria is still struggling with the after affects of being bitten, Max no longer has his venator powers, after giving them up in the last book, and Sebastian isn’t truly trusted by Victoria.

There is also the ever present question of where Victoria’s affections lie in this installment. Max and Sebastian continue to snip at each other. Their interactions are filled with more vitriol in this book than previous ones, and we learn what fuels their hatred for each other, besides Victoria. Victoria cannot seem to figure out whom she wants to be with: Max or Sebastian. The two are polar opposites and both have their positive qualities, but the stoic Max does not seem one to put his heart on the line, and the elusive Sebastian, who is willing to do just that, has proven himself to be untrustworthy in Victoria’s eyes more than once.

In the end, Victoria makes her final choice, which leaves one of them out in the cold. This ending was a bit sad, because the guy that does not win Victoria’s love is faced with a serious heartbreak, and not for the first time. One has to wonder if he will be able to find happiness by the final book.

Like each book before, When Twilight Burns adds further growth to Victoria’s character. From book one, we’ve seen her struggle with becoming a venator–and in a painful an unexpected turn of events–the leader of the Gardella. She has loved and lost and loved some more, she’s become a stronger leader, fighter, but most importantly, woman. Victoria’s growth has been an important arc in the series, and in it’s gradual evolution from book to book, Gleason has shown us, not told us, Victoria’s personal journey.

When Twilight Burns has it all. Edge of your seat action, twists and turns, unfortunate deaths, subtle romance, and lively characters. Fans of this series will enjoy this installment in the Gardella Chronicles. I look forward to the final book in this series, As Shadows Fade, in 2009.

4.5 out of 5

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

Read more from Brie at Cupid’s Chokehold.


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