November 4, 2012

Review: The Lion And The Lark by Doreen Owens Malek

Author - Doreen Owens Malek
Genre - Historical Romance
Series - N/A
Format - Ebook (205p.)
Rating - 4/5 stars

The Year is 44 B. C. Julius Caesar is dead. And as rebellion divides Italy and Britain, a Roman centurion and a Celtic princess forge a bond no woman or man can rend asunder…

To ensure peace between her tribe and their savage conquerors, the exquisite Bronwen has been promised in wedlock to a high-born Roman tribune. But the British beauty is also a secret spy ready to risk her life to free her people.

Dispatched to Britain by Mark Antony, Claudius is irresistibly drawn to the flaxen-haired, cobalt-eyed Bronwen. Yet he knows he dare not trust the woman who is bound to him by law—not love.

• Review •
I enjoyed this story a lot. The characters were excellently portrayed and I felt for each and every one of them. I was rooting for Bronwen and Claudius throughout the tale and was happy when it was clear they would achieve their HEA. I also liked the sub-romance between Brettix and Lucia and would have liked to read more about them. It works out good though. The ending was a bit lackluster and abrupt for me. I wanted more, I wasn't ready to say goodbye to any of these characters!

That said, I had some issues with the huge amount of typos and the inconsistent pacing. Neither were bad enough to pull me from the story, but they were annoying at times. Although, some of the typos did lend some comic relief to an otherwise serious tale, like the heroine taking her own lips in a passionate kiss or kissing her own eyelids… That's just a couple examples of the many errors and I'm quite surprised proofreaders/editors/someone didn't catch them. That's the reason for a lower mark from me. THE LION AND THE LARK is a great story though and I highly recommend it to romance readers that love early history as well.

Cover musings:

The cover is okay. The people don't look like how I imagined Bronwen and Claudius but close enough. The scenery is off as well considering most of the story is told in the middle of winter with a lot of snow…

Favorite moment:

When Claudius and Bronwen finally consummated their marriage after what seemed like forever and wondering if they would ever be able to overcome their differences… Very emotional and moving.


October 25, 2012

Review: Resisting Cupid by Carol Rose

Author - Carol Rose
Genre - Contemporary Romance
Series - N/A
Format - Ebook (22p.)
Rating - 2/5 stars

Emma reluctantly returns to Cupid, Texas, stealing time from her career as a television journalist, to be her high school best friend's maid of honor. The four months of her brief, youthful marriage to Tucker, her high school boyfriend, had been fiery in lots of ways. She can't quite forget his kisses, even though she's tried. To her chagrin, she sees Tucker at the wedding rehearsal since his brother is the groom. Just as hot as he was before, Tucker's still the hunky guy she married right out of high school, but now he's a medical doctor. Emma's shocked to discover they're still married. She'd thought Tucker took care of the matter, but he tells her he never got a divorce. They're still married and Tucker isn't sure he wants a divorce. He still has feelings for Emma.

She has to decide if the flames between her and her husband deserve another shot.

• Review •
RESISTING CUPID didn't do it for me, unfortunately. It wasn't that it was badly written or anything, it was just very bland. I couldn't sympathize with the characters because they weren't really fleshed out. I didn't know them or get what their problem(s) were, so I just didn't care about them or their happiness. I also struggled understanding what the big deal from their past was that was so bad that it caused them to separate in the first place.

Oh well. At 22 pages and free, I can't really complain. Like I said, this wasn't a bad book, just pretty bland and a little too flat for my tastes. If it had been a full length or novella where there was more room to expand on the past conflict and back stories of the characters and current growth and fixing what was wrong/had happened, RESISTING CUPID probably would have been knocked out of the ballpark. Coulda, shoulda, woulda…

Cover musings:

This isn't the same cover as the one I have on my copy, but I much prefer this lighter one. Still cheesy looking but at least it isn't dark like my copy.


October 22, 2012

Review: Too Darn Hot by Pamela Burford

Author - Pamela Burford
Genre - Contemporary
Series - N/A
Format - Ebook (144p.)
Rating - 4/5 stars
Read the excerpts

Rule Number One: Never mix business with pleasure. New York restaurant reviewer Lina Holland learned that lesson by watching her beloved mentor self-destruct, and she's not about to make a similar mistake, even if the chef and owner of the restaurant she’s secretly reviewing is the most sexalicious hunk who ever seared a T-bone. It's not enough to be scrupulously impartial, she must avoid even the merest whiff of favoritism. Date a restaurateur? She can't allow herself to even think about it. Okay, she thinks about it, but that's all. Really!

Chef Eric Reid is a widower struggling to raise twin boys and keep his fledgling Long Island restaurant afloat long enough for word of mouth to lift it out of the red. Little does he suspect that the intriguing new customer groaning in ecstasy over his bourbon pecan tart is none other than the legendary Lina Holland, the reviewer whose thumbs-up could spell the difference between colossal success and the extermination of his lifelong dream. No one in the industry knows what Lina looks like, but he's convinced she's a brash, zaftig shrew who applies her makeup with a putty knife. When he finds out how wrong he is, the fun really starts!

Throw in a buttinsky roommate, a lecherous ex-husband, bribery by chocolate, and the fishing excursion from hell, and the result is, well, too darn hot!

• Review •
TOO DARN HOT was a great read. I enjoyed almost every aspect of my time spent with it. There was great tension between the H/h, a quirky side character that made for decent comic relief, excellent pace. The story was believable even if a bit predictable and very dated. Although, I really wish I had gotten more of the romance between Eric and Lina. I liked these two and I was disappointed being left out of the joys of them falling in love.

Basically, all the reader is shown is them meeting, sniffing around each other for a few weeks and then having sex. Jump ahead several months (4 iirc) and they're madly in love and quickly approaching the 'Big Misunderstanding' and subsequent resolution/HEA. I didn't see that love play out and grow, so I find it hard to believe at the end. For that reason, despite giving a decent grade, I won't be adding this book to my keeper shelf for future rereads. I look for romance in my romances and don't feel TOO DARN HOT delivered on that front.

Cover musings:

Hate it. But it's been my experience that Pamela's hideous covers contain really good reads.

Favorite moment:

- When Eric brought Lina breakfast… Silly and fun and cute.


October 15, 2012

Review: Texas Lily by Patricia Rice

Author - Patricia Rice
Genre - Historical Western Romance
Series - Too Hard To Handle #1
Format - Ebook (384p.)
Rating - 2/5 stars

Lily Porter is newly a widow with a child to raise and a cattle ranch to run in the Texas frontier aflame with violence, and where a woman is to be seen not heard.

She needs a man to stand up for her land.

His name is Cade. Part Apache brave and part Mexican grandee, Cade has a past and a secret. But he possesses the power and passion to command all in his path.

Lily welcomes Cade into her struggle against treachery and terror—and discovers a love worth risking everything to keep.

• Review •
TEXAS LILY is such a wallbanger! Very long and drawn out. Pacing is just horrendous. The only part of this book I found mildly enjoyable was the interactions between Cade and Lily. Sort of. I didn't care for the raping part. They had decent back stories, the rest of the characters as well. I didn't like them very much except for Travis though. The writing was good if a little spastic with the thousands of plots. Think Gunsmoke, Bonanza and Little House On The Prairie meets  modern day soap opera… every new page was practically a new plot disaster/dilemma/EndOfTheWorld!Ohnoez!!!!111!! ordeal. Unless Cade and Lily were having sex of course, in which case the smut would go on for several pages.

Another problem I had was with the mathematics (which I admit, I suck at math). But the story starts in 1824, then it's 1835. Lily is knocked up during the prologue and in chapter 1 the kid is 8… and Lily says her and Jim had been living on the farm for 9 years but hadn't moved there until the kid was born. Unless I'm missing something, that just doesn't add up. I should have DNF'ed the book then and there… Very disappointed with TEXAS LILY, and it has effectively put me in a reading funk. I'd imagine people who like historical fiction would like this book, but for a romance I'd look elsewhere. This book is about as romantic as a colonic.

Cover musings:

I like it a lot. It was the driving force in my picking up this book. The people don't portray the characters in the book accurately though which is disappointing.


September 30, 2012

Review: Impact by Tiffinie Helmer

Author - Tiffinie Helmer
Genre - Contemporary
Series - Wild Men of Alaska
Format - Ebook (50p.)
Rating - 5/5 stars

He’ll fight anyone or anything to get her back.

Alaska State Trooper Skip Ozhuwan has waited five years to reunite with Wren Terni, the woman he’s always loved. Flying back home for his sister’s wedding with only him and Wren in a chartered bush plane guarantees he’ll have her undivided attention.

Ever since Skip arrested her five years earlier, Wren vowed never to lay eyes on him again. She’s gotten sober and made a life for herself that she’s proud of. Seeing Skip now throws her into a tailspin.

When the plane crashes, forcing them to battle a violent arctic storm, outwit predators, and dispose of a dead body, they must find a way to get past their differences if they are to survive to have a future together.

That is if they don’t kill each other first.

• Review •
Excellent read! I loved this short story so much. Great characters, location, humor. I especially loved being in Wren's POV. She's a funny, funny girl! I couldn't ask for much more. Very pleased with this, and was very entertained as well. I'd read it again, and I can't wait to read the other books in the series.

The only thing that kind of bothered me was Wren's name… I kept misreading it as When on my tiny phone, which was a pain each time :(. Damn eyes playing tricks on me! Unfortunately, that was the sole reason I didn't add IMPACT to my favorites list. But you still can't go wrong with this quick shorty and I recommend it to those who like second chance romances with a satisfying HEA. This is definitely a permanent fixture on my digital Keeper Shelf!

Cover musings:

Love it. It imparts a strong sense of adventure for me and has a yummy guy to drool over. Win.

Favorite moment:

- When Skip needed help with the zipper… Was definitely a lol moment!


September 24, 2012

Review: A Bolt From The Blue by Georgia Fox

Author - Georgia Fox
Genre - Erotica
Series - N/A
Format - Ebook (30p.)
Rating - 2.5/5 stars

Alix likes her secrets, but one of them is about to draw her out of hiding and make her face a few facts about her life. He's someone she's only chatted with online, yet he already knows more about Alix than any other man she's ever encountered. For some reason she's told him more than she should and when the voice in her head asks what the hell she's doing, she has no answer to give. Nothing can explain the nature of this unusual relationship or why she feels so close to a stranger.

Until they finally come face to face and discover that lightening can strike in the same place twice.

• Review •
This was an okay read. I enjoyed it fairly well right up until the end. Unfortunately the end was so horrible I knocked off 2 points. I would have happily given this a 4/4.5 rating. The end was just too disappointing… not even a HEA. I can't even call it a HFN! Another complaint I had was the constant misspelling of the word Lightning. The author kept spelling it Lightening… which is something I do to my hair every 30 days. >_> There's other definitions of lightening as well. What do teachers do all day?! Pathetic.

I did enjoy the smexy times and the humor though. I would have liked more character development and more story. There's a lot of potential. But as is, we don't even know the guys name! He's referred to as "Him" and "Stranger". And most of the smexiness is in Alix's memories. Actually, I think that's all there was. I'm pretty sure there's nothing going on outside of her memories and just one kiss at the end. Heh, it hasn't even been 12 hours and I've already forgotten! Also, a few things are mentioned but never closed at the end which left a lot of hanging loose ends. Incomplete is incomplete. It's safe to say, I don't recommend this one.

Cover musings:

Unimpressed. Dark and rather blah looking.


September 20, 2012

Review: The Dating Game by Jessica Morse

Author - Jessica Morse
Genre - Contemporary Erotic Romance
Series -N/A
Format - Ebook (77p.)
Rating - 4/5 stars
Read an excerpt

Protecting your heart is the hardest part of the game.

Camille and Ethan are kindred spirits: busy professionals with no time for the demands of typical relationships. They devise an arrangement that suits her busy schedule and satisfies their lust for each other. When real feelings develop between them, can either one move past the rules of the game to take a chance on something just as exciting and even more risky?

• Review •
THE DATING GAME wasn't a bad book despite some of the complaints I had. In fact, I really liked it a lot. I didn't think I would though because the first 5 chapters were pretty average. Nothing "wow"ed me and I thought it might turn out to be a 2 or 3 star read. But chapter 6 and on was great and I'm glad I stuck with it. One thing is for certain, a strong suspension of disbelief is required. Almost everything that happens in this story is just way too convenient.

Characters were pretty good, pacing and story is great and was nice to see other aspects to it besides just sex and everyone thinking about sex. I felt the balance between the erotic storyline and the contemporary romance was perfect. For that reason, I'm interested in trying more books from this author. A couple of the complaints I had were a lack of Ethan's POV. It's written in 3rd person but from Camille's side for the whole novella. I would have loved to know what Ethan was thinking and feeling and am quite disappointed. To a lesser extent, I also had problems with the lack of a HEA (only a HFN) and the plethora of spelling errors such as…

"You damn game started it a cab, Ethan—" (p.70)

Spelling mistakes such as this one just left me with a dumbfounded look on my face most of the time. Whoever the author hired to read her books before they go "live" needs to be fired. This is an example of just one of the many, many, many mistakes too. O_o All that aside, I truly enjoyed this novella and would happily read it again.

Cover musings:

Meh. It's pretty bland. At least the people are how I imagine the characters to look, sort of, which is always nice.


September 17, 2012

Review: Christmas Cash by Maggie Casper

Author - Maggie Casper
Genre - Erotic Romance
Series - Raising Cain #1
Format - Ebook (54p.)
Rating - 5/5 stars
Read an excerpt

If you can't beat him, irritate the hell out of him. Moving back home to Chaos, Texas wasn't working out quite the way Noelle had planned. The last thing she expected was a seasonal job that included dressing up as Mrs. Claus while ringing a bell for charity, but thanks to Cash McCain, she wasn't left much of a choice.

Cash can't believe what ten years can do for a woman. The last time he'd seen Noelle, she'd been all knees and elbows. Now a woman grown yet still ten years his junior, thus too young for him, Noelle has filled out in a way that should be illegal.

When Cash refuses her a job at Raising Cain, a Texas honky-tonk run by the McCain siblings, she takes it upon herself to make his life miserable. Who could have imagined the damage a tiny, tinkling bell could cause to a man's sanity? But when things heat up, Cash begins to think that raising a little cane with the likes of Noelle might not be such a bad thing after all.

• Review •
I loved, loved, loved CHRISTMAS CASH! The writing was awesome, as were the characters (I especially loved Noelle), the humor, and yes, the very hot smexy times! This was a fast paced short story that totally hit the spot for me. Despite a couple small hiccups that I'll get to in a minute, I cannot wait to read the other books in this series. Or anything else Maggie Casper might write! Awesome, awesome book. All around quick, fun and hot read that I highly recommend.

So, let me get to those small hiccups that —ultimately— prevented me from adding CHRISTMAS CASH to my Favorites list. First is the lack of anything truly Christmas-y. Even the Mrs. Claus costume was only mentioned once and the rest of the time it was as if she was wearing everyday clothing. Personally, I felt that that part of the plot was pretty weak and could have been left off completely. Secondly, I never got why these characters loved each other. With Noelle it was never even brought up and with Cash his reasoning was shallow and very disappointing. Being an erotic romance I'm sure I don't need to spell it out. I did ease up a little based on the fact he works in a bar and is a man… not exactly the brightest bulb in the box.

Cover musings:

Doesn't do anything for me. I've seen better and I've seen worse.

Favorite moment:

- After Noelle and Cash's first time together and she completely brushes him off… Seriously, PRICELESS! Could not stop laughing at Cash's reaction.


September 12, 2012

Requested Review: The Wicked Wager by Anya Wylde

Author - Anya Wylde
Genre - Historical Romance/Cozy Mystery
Series -N/A
Format - Ebook (233p.)
Rating - 4.5/5 stars

*Source: Ebook provided by the author for review*

The infamous rake, Lord Richard Hamilton, has finally chosen his bride—the very appropriate Miss Emma Grey.

The ton approves, Lord Grey is pleased, Lady Grey delighted, and Emma is over the moon, but her uncle, (the blasted) Duke of Arden opposes the match, and Emma is ordered to move to the duke’s estate to think things over.

Richard Hamilton refuses to take things lying down and concocts a plan. A plan that should have brought the lovers together and had them married within a month. It was a simple matter of masquerading as the duke’s gardener, compromising the lady, and then having the duke rush them off to Gretna Green.

Alas, he underestimates the duke’s intelligence and the tangled situation on the estate—never had he imagined that compromising a lady could be so difficult.

His endeavors lead to a comedy of errors, charades, and knotty love affairs. Yet he forges ahead in spite of pesky house guests, a flea bitten mattress, his lovesick best friend, and a blackmailer.

Just when things seem to be going well, someone is murdered (very inconvenient), and he happens to be one of the suspects (extremely inconvenient).

His simple plan for winning the wager suddenly becomes… a tad complicated.

• Review •
THE WICKED WAGER was a wonderful story. I was instantly hooked on both the plot and the great characters (seriously, I love these peeps). Not to mention the writing! I'm definitely looking forward to new books by this author. I really, really liked this book. It was a relatively quick read, although the pacing did bother me a little after Raikes entered the story. It wasn't that bad, but had the writing not been as good I probably would have skimmed some parts.

Pacing issues aside, I have been recommending this book left and right to everyone I spend more than 5 minutes around. It had me chuckling many times, and I'll admit to totally forgetting to cook dinner one night. By the time I sat the book down and looked at the clock, it was too late for anything but pizza delivery. That's saying something, because in well over 30 years, less than a dozen books have ever distracted me to that extent. I had so much fun reading THE WICKED WAGER and I highly recommend it to fans of mysteries and historical fiction. While I was reading this book, I kept thinking what an awesome movie it would make as well!

Cover musings:

I like this cover. I'm a big fan of the more artistic covers and the coloring and font is nice. I wholeheartedly approve.

Favorite moment:

- When Raikes' pants split down the seam… So funny.


September 1, 2012

Review: Out Of Control by Kate Kelly

Author - Kate Kelly
Genre - Romantic Suspense
Series - Stolen Hearts Prequel
Format - Ebook (80p.)
Rating - 3/5 stars

It was supposed to be one night of passion - that turned into a crazy, unforgettable month. Until Serena McGregor finally walked away from undercover FBI agent Nick DeMarco. Six months later, her elusive scent still haunting him, Nick is ready to risk his career to prove Serena is innocent of a five million dollar heist.

As an archivist, Serena likes tidy things, filed away in an orderly fashion. Too bad the only category Nick falls under is a heartache waiting to happen. He’s too much. Too passionate, too beautiful, and he definitely won’t stick around after he discovers all her secrets. But as a suspect in the robbery of the century, Serena can’t refuse his help. That’s not all she can’t refuse. Will this mismatched couple discover they have more in common than they imagine?

• Review •
OUT OF CONTROL started out really great. I loved it a lot despite some minor problems. Honestly, I only had issues with a few misspelled and missing words (not many) and normal grammar mistakes, mainly how the author used ?'s in place of —'s. Made some sentences pretty confusing. The writing style didn't always work for me, but in the end, I'd read more from this author. This story was definitely very solid I thought. It's fast-paced, intriguing, and captivating. Not edge-of-my-seat exciting or anything, but there's still one good action scene in there.

But, what completely ruined the book for me was the abrupt end. I think the author was trying for a cliffhanger but missed the mark totally. Very disappointing. There's potential there to be a truly awesome book, but as it is, OUT OF CONTROL is pretty sub par. I'd like to read the other books in the series, but am now very leery if this is the quality I can expect. Even though this a quick read, I don't recommend the time wasted on this novella. There's better books out there deserving of that time.

Cover musings:

I like it. It's dark but I feel it fits the book well.

Favorite moment:

- The scene in Serena's kitchen the morning after the robbery… Hot, silly, and fun.
- When Serena finally gets to tie Nick up… His reactions were so funny.