Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases!

I've never read Shelly Laurenston before, but since a couple of friends with similar tastes in PNR love her, I jumped at the chance to read the first chapter of Hot and Badgered. I'm kind of sorry I did, because now I really want to read this book ASAP. In just the first chapter there is action, humor, and several intriguing characters. My interest is definitely piqued and I've got loads of questions, so it's no wonder that my Waiting on Wednesday pick this week is Hot and Badgered!

Title: Hot and Badgered
Series: The Honey Badgers, Book 1
Author: Shelly Laurenston
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: March 27, 2018

Book Description (from Amazon):

It’s not every day that a beautiful naked woman falls out of the sky and lands face-first on grizzly shifter Berg Dunn’s hotel balcony. Definitely they don’t usually hop up and demand his best gun. Berg gives the lady a grizzly-sized t-shirt and his cell phone, too, just on style points. And then she’s gone, taking his XXXL heart with her. By the time he figures out she’s a honey badger shifter, it’s too late.

Honey badgers are survivors. Brutal, vicious, ill-tempered survivors. Or maybe Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is just pissed that her useless father is trying to get them all killed again, and won’t even tell her how. Protecting her little sisters has always been her job, and she’s not about to let some pesky giant grizzly protection specialist with a network of every shifter in Manhattan get in her way. Wait. He’s trying to help? Why would he want to do that? He’s cute enough that she just might let him tag along—that is, if he can keep up...

Monday, October 23, 2017

Review: The Right Kind of Rogue by Valerie Bowman

The Right Kind of Rogue by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides, Book 8
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781250121714
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Can two star-crossed lovers come together―until death do they part?

Viscount Hart Highgate has decided to put his rakish ways behind him and finally get married. He may adore a good brandy or a high-speed carriage race, but he takes his duties as heir to the earldom seriously. Now all he has to do is find the right kind of woman to be his bride―ideally, one who’s also well-connected and well-funded…

Meg Timmons has loved Hart, the brother of her best friend, ever since she was an awkward, blushing schoolgirl. If only she had a large dowry―or anything to her name at all. Instead, she’s from a family that’s been locked in a bitter feud with Hart’s for years. And now she’s approaching her third London season, Meg’s chances with him are slim to none. Unless a surprise encounter on a deep, dark night could be enough to spark a rebellious romance…for all time?

Meg Timmons has been in love with Viscount Hart Highgate since she was a teenager, but she knows she’ll have to take drastic measures to get his attention. Not only are their families feuding, but Meg is a penniless wallflower and not the well-connected heiress Hart’s father wants him to wed. When she hears that Hart is determined to find a bride, Meg takes the plunge and asks infamous plotter Lucy Hunt to help her capture Hart’s heart. But even the best-laid plans have a tendency to go awry…

The Right Kind of Rogue is part Romeo and Juliet, part Cinderella, but manages to feel like its own story instead of a retelling of either. I adore Valerie Bowman’s Playful Brides series and I’ve been highly anticipating Meg and Hart’s book, as heroines who are in love with their best friend’s brother is a favorite romance trope of mine. Yet while I liked this book – mostly due to Ms. Bowman’s writing style, which I enjoy – I didn’t love it like I wanted to.

Meg is a likeable heroine whose rather horrid family makes her a sympathetic heroine. She’s been infatuated with Hart for years, but though she explains why she falls in love with him, I’m not sure why she stays that way. Hart is a good man with some good qualities, but you have to get past the drinking and self-centeredness to find a hero worth rooting for. While I have no problem with a protagonist who starts out unlikeable (it gives them room to grow), Hart took way too long to finally stop being selfish and to appreciate Meg. Most frustrating of all, Hart never took an active part in his own story. Meg bends over backwards for him, and even though she makes mistakes, she tries – something Hart never does. I find stories where the hero and heroine would never have gotten together without tons of pushing from their friends to be frustrating. Which brings me to the third main character of The Right Kind of Rogue: Lucy Hunt. The Duchess of Claringdon (and the first Playful Brides heroine) feels like she has nearly as much page time as Meg and Hart. Lucy starts out as a fairy godmother type, but she turns into a veritable tornado, uncaring of the damage she causes so long as the end result is what she planned. While I like seeing past heroes and heroines pop up in a series (Sarah and Christian of The Legendary Lord were charming in this story), Lucy steals the spotlight in this book and that’s not a good thing.

While I did have some issues with The Right Kind of Rogue, I don’t want to make it sound like a bad book. Ms. Bowman’s light, effervescent style still shines and I was drawn into the story even when I wanted to shake Hart. The romance also has some sweet moments and there is definite chemistry between Meg and Hart. So while Meg and Hart’s romance wasn’t all I’d hoped it would be, I still adore Ms. Bowman’s writing and I cannot wait to read the next Playful Brides book.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane, Book 12
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781455539147
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Elizabeth Hoyt Reading Order

Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping. Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos. When one of the masked-and nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him…only to find she may have been a trifle hasty.

Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them. Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans. But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.

Much to Raphael's irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involves herself in his life-and bed. Soon he's drawn both to her quick wit and her fiery passion. But when Iris discovers that Raphael's past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters. Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael's own demons?

All it took was one dance and Raphael de Chartres, Duke of Dyemore, was captivated by Lady Iris Jordan. But she is lightness personified and he’s trapped in the dark. All he has is his mission: infiltrate and destroy the Lords of Chaos, a powerful secret society of rapists and murderers. When Iris is kidnapped by the Lords on the way home a friend’s wedding, Raphael risks his cover to rescue her. To protect her from the Lords, he convinces her to marry him. What he doesn’t expect is that Iris isn’t content to settle for the friendly but passionless marriage he envisions. She’s determined to break down his barriers, and as it becomes increasingly difficult for him to resist her, Raphael has to wonder if there’s a chance their unconventional marriage could become a love match. But if he hopes to find out, he and Iris will have to outwit the leader of the Lords of Chaos who is determined to destroy them.

Duke of Desire has is a dark, emotional book that will definitely tug on your heartstrings. Raphael and Iris’s story starts off with a blast of action, followed by an almost Beauty and the Beast-like period of the two near-strangers-turned-newlyweds getting to know one another, followed by a romance intertwined with a struggle to defeat dangers past and present.

Raphael is a man whose life is consumed by one mission: destroy the Lords of Chaos. Raphael’s father was the leader of the vile society, and he was a monster. Because of his actions, Raphael is scarred inside and out, tortured, and my heart broke for him. His past is dark and author Elizabeth Hoyt doesn’t skirt around the demons that torment him. I wanted to see Raphael heal, to see him find love, and I knew it’d take a strong-willed heroine to break through his walls. Iris is just that heroine. She’s got an inner strength and huge heart that I adored. She doesn’t back down when Raphael tries to push her away, and the two of them were good for each other. Their love story is emotional and rewarding and I liked that they didn’t fall in love instantaneously. Their relationship felt organic and I had a hard time putting Duke of Desire down because I wanted to see them find happiness.

The Lords of Chaos and their path of destruction feature prominently in this book. I won’t spoil what happens, but these are villains who definitely make you want to vomit. Readers should be warned that this is the darkest of all the Maiden Lane books and that childhood sexual abuse is discussed. This is a heavy subject, and Ms. Hoyt treats it with respect. Needless to say, I was as invested in Raphael’s mission to destroy these monsters as I was in his romance with Iris. And though the ending of the story felt a bit rushed, Ms. Hoyt wrapped up both plotlines in a satisfying way.

Duke of Desire is the twelfth full-length Maiden Lane book, but whether you’re new to the series or are a long-time fan, you can jump in without any issues. Ms. Hoyt’s writing is always compelling, and even with such dark subject matter, the themes of love and hope shine through.

FTC Disclosure: I received the e-book version of this story for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: Make Me Yours by Rebecca Brooks

Make Me Yours by Rebecca Brooks
Series: Men of Gold Mountain, Book 4
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781640633896
Release Date: October 9, 2017
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Claire Collins has always been good—except when it comes to bad boys. Or one bad boy in particular: a tattooed musician as skilled with her body as he is with his guitar. But he wasn’t ready to be a father, so she left him to raise their daughter on her own. Only fate had other plans, and suddenly, Ryan is back in her life, disrupting everything. This time, though, she’s determined not to lose her heart…even if she still craves his touch.

Ryan Thomas never expects to see Claire again—especially not in a small mountain town in Washington on the last show of his comeback tour. But when the lights come on, there she is, more beautiful than ever. One incredible night with her won’t be enough… But he’ll have to prove he’s not the man he used to be, if he wants to keep her—and his family—for good.

Once upon a time, Claire Collins fell fast and hard for bad boy Ryan Thomas. But Ryan was an up-and-coming musician whose alcoholism was making him spiral out of control. When Claire found out she was pregnant and Ryan was too drunk to even talk to her about it, she did what was best for her child and left him. It’s been more than five years since they last spoke, but when Ryan comes to Gold Mountain on his comeback tour to find not only Claire, but the daughter he didn’t know existed, everything changes. The chemistry between Ryan and Claire is as hot as ever. But even though Ryan is Claire’s weakness, she always puts her daughter first. And if Ryan wants a chance at winning the heart of the woman he loves and the daughter who immediately grabs his heart, he’s going to have to prove that he has changed.

There’s nothing I love more than a good second chance romance and Make Me Yours is exactly that. Rebecca Brooks has a talent for delivering wonderfully human characters which is what makes this story compelling.

Ryan is a recovering alcoholic who lost everything. He’s worked hard to remain sober and rebuild his career, and I respected the hell out of that. Ryan is a flawed hero, one who makes a number of mistakes. But he’s also incredibly loving and is working to be a better man. Claire’s life was turned upside down when she got swept up in Ryan’s world the first time. Since leaving him, the businesswoman and single mother has worked her butt off to build a life for herself and her daughter. She’s strong and protective and definitely wary of letting Ryan in her heart again. Upon seeing each other again, the two of them strike sparks. Their romance is both emotional and incredibly sexy (I’ll never look at rock climbing the same way again). I liked that Ms. Brooks didn’t make things easy on them; there are a couple of ups and downs and even when the characters messed up, I could understand why they made the mistakes they did – there’s no false drama in this book.

Make Me Yours is by turns sexy and sweet and I may have sniffled a time or two. I adored Claire and Ryan together and I loved catching up with Claire’s friends, the previous Men of Gold Mountain heroines. All in all, Make Me Yours is an engaging story with characters who grab your heart and don’t let go.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Review: The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne

The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Victorian Rebels, Book 5
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781250122544
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards―dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster.

Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, is a notorious Highlander and an unrelenting Lothario who uses his slightly menacing charm to get what he wants―including too many women married to other men. But now, Gavin wants to put his shady past behind him...more or less. When a fiery lass who is the heiress to the land he wishes to possess drops into his lap, he sees a perfectly delicious opportunity…

A marriage most convenient

Samantha Masters has come back to Scotland, in a pair of trousers, and with a whole world of dangerous secrets from her time spent in the Wild West trailing behind her. Her only hope of protection is to marry―and to do so quickly. Gavin is only too willing to provide that service for someone he finds so disturbingly irresistible. But even as danger approaches, what begins as a scandalous proposition slowly turns into an all-consuming passion. And Gavin discovers that he will do whatever is necessary to keep the woman he has claimed as his own…

A seductive earl who has never met a woman he couldn’t charm meets his match in a spitfire American in The Scot Beds His Wife. Kerrigan Byrne’s fifth Victorian Rebels novel is an energetic enemies-to-lovers tale with a delightfully unconventional heroine.

Sam grabbed my attention from the start. She’s full of spirit and strength that I just adored. Sam has had a hard life and at the beginning of The Scot Beds His Wife she makes a split-second decision that changes her life forever. Sam makes difficult choices and takes on the consequences of her actions. She doesn’t back down, but she’s not invulnerable. Life has never given her reason to trust, to hope, and I wanted her to find the home and love she yearned for with Gavin. Speaking of said hero, Gavin was a bit harder for me to like. He’s a man who goes through women like water in order to mask his pain. Like Sam, Gavin is seeking home and he has a childhood that just broke my heart. I understood his determination to get his hands on the land he believes Sam owns, though I wasn’t always keen on his attitude when he was denied. I will admit Gavin’s anger toward his brother Liam also put me off him at times. I tried to see things from Gavin’s point of view, but as I am attached to Liam after reading and loving his book, The Highlander, I just couldn’t work up much sympathy for Gavin and his hostile attitude. To be clear, he isn’t a bad hero. He’s protective and caring of those he lets in his heart and he does develop into a great match for Sam over the course of the story.

Ms. Byrne excels at delivering passionate romances that are just bursting with emotion. For me, Gavin and Sam didn’t quite match up to the previous Victorian Rebels romances in this respect. There was lust between them and definite sparks, but both Gavin and Sam have significant secrets. Sam in particular holds onto her secrets for so long that it drags the romance down a bit because she and Gavin are unable to be truly open with each other. That being said, I did like them together quite a bit even when they were at odds. They’re a fiery pair and by the epilogue I was smiling at their interactions.

While the story never drags, much of the action in The Scot Beds His Wife takes place in the last quarter of the story. And what a final act it is – I was practically glued to the book. Everything I love about Ms. Byrne’s stories comes into play; there’s action, danger, emotion, and a satisfying happily ever after. So while The Scot Beds His Wife may not be my favorite story in the Victorian Rebels series, I still really liked it and I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on the next book.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.