Thursday, November 29, 2018

Review: A Protector in the Highlands by Heather McCollum

A Protector in the Highlands by Heather McCollum
Series: Highland Roses School, Book 2
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781640637108
Release Date: November 26, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

With few other options, Scarlet Worthington flees from her home in England to the wild Highlands of Scotland to help her sister run a school for ladies. There, Scarlet begins to rebuild her own shattered confidence by recruiting a fierce Campbell warrior to teach her and the students how to protect themselves from villains and scoundrels. The intimidating Aiden Campbell both infuriates Scarlet and ignites a fire inside her as she works closely with him to hone her new skills.

Burned in a fierce fire, set by English soldiers, Highland warrior, Aiden Campbell, has finally healed enough to take temporary command of his clan. That's where his focus should be instead of dealing with the feisty, beautiful Sassenach who asks him to teach her students.

When Scarlet's past stalks her up into Scotland, her nightmares come alive, and Aiden's lessons are put to the test. With his own ghosts from the past making him despise English women, Aiden fights the inferno of passion that's grown between them, a different kind of wild fire that could prove just as deadly.

Betrayed, sexually assaulted, and threatened by those of the highest power, Scarlet Worthington does the only thing she can do to protect herself: flee her home. With the help of her brother and sister, Scarlet has found peace, safety, and purpose in Scotland, where she and her sister are running the Highland Roses School. Scarlet is determined to never again be someone’s victim and she wants her students to be able to protect themselves as well. With her new brother-in-law away, the best candidate to teach Scarlet and her students self-defense is the oh-so-handsome (and stubbornly closed-mouthed) warrior Aiden Campbell. Scarlet and Aiden strike sparks off one another immediately, but each has a past that makes them wary of trusting the other. However, some passions are simply impossible to deny…

A Protector in the Highlands grabs your heart and doesn’t let go. Heather McCollum has delivered an emotional, satisfying romance with two incredibly strong leads who are impossible not to root for. Scarlet saved herself from a horrible attack once, but she knows she cannot rely on luck should she be threatened again. I loved her strength, spirit, intelligence, and her determination to learn how to protect herself. She’s clever in coming up with ways for her students to arm and defend themselves and by the end of the book I really wanted a pair of the hair sticks she designed. Her confidence has been badly shaken, but I really enjoyed watching her find herself again. As for Aiden, he’s a fantastic hero. He’s strong, protective, and handsome, to be sure, but what melted my heart was how he acted around Scarlet. He doesn’t even blink when Scarlet asks him to teach her and her students how to defend themselves, even when others are scandalized. He doesn’t know what happened to Scarlet in the past, but he’s always clear that he’ll never make her feel pressured or unsafe and that’s a sexy as hell hero right there. Aiden has ghosts of his own, ones that make him reluctant to trust his heart to Scarlet. But it’s clear that these two are made for each other and I just loved watching them fall madly, passionately in love.

Politics, intrigue, and danger are woven into the story, though to say exactly how would spoil the tale. I liked how these elements rounded out the story, slowly adding intensity until the action-packed climax. All in all, A Protector in the Highlands is a truly satisfying historical romance. Scarlet and Aiden make this story shine and their romance was wonderful to watch unfold. I cannot wait to see what comes next for the brave Highland Roses!


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.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Review: When All the Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz

When All the Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Cutler, Sutter & Salinas, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9780515156355
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her stepsister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one of her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished.

Beautiful, brilliant—and reckless—Jocelyn has gone off the grid before, but never like this. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames—literally. Burned out, divorced and almost broke, Max needs the job.

After surviving a near-fatal attack, Charlotte and Max turn to Jocelyn’s closest friends, women in a Seattle-based online investment club, for answers. But what they find is chilling…

When her uneasy alliance with Max turns into a full-blown affair, Charlotte has no choice but to trust him with her life. For the shadows of Jocelyn’s past are threatening to consume her—and anyone else who gets in their way…

Charlotte Sawyer isn’t one to take risks. But her calm, orderly life is turned upside down when her stepsister, Jocelyn, disappears and Jocelyn’s best friend turns up dead. Desperate to find her sister, Charlotte teams up with Max Culter, a former profiler turned private investigator. What the two of them don’t know is that they’re about to stir up a hornet’s nest. For there are secrets buried well over a decade that are about to be turned up. Secrets someone will kill to protect.

When All the Girls Have Gone is a fast-paced romantic suspense that keeps me entertained every time I read it. Jayne Ann Krentz deftly twines together multiple players, motives, and storylines and the result is an engaging mystery I loved watching Charlotte and Max put together.

At the center of the book are Charlotte and Max, and they’re the reason I find myself coming back to this book. They’re smart, likeable, and their flaws endeared them to me as much as their strengths. Charlotte isn’t bold and she’s definitely not a risk-taker, but she’ll take on everything thrown at her with aplomb because she’s got a huge heart and won’t let the people she loves get hurt. Max has an equally big heart and he’s working to rebuild his life after his career as a profiler crashed and burned. Circumstances throw Charlotte and Max together, but the two of them make a great team from the start. Though they do fall in love incredibly quickly and their love story is understated, they fit one another so well that their slide into love just worked for me.

When All the Girls Have Gone leans more toward the suspense side of romantic suspense. A murder and a disappearance are only the beginning of the mystery. Murder, drugs, rape, and long-buried secrets all come to light and the result is a truly engaging mystery. I honestly don’t want to say much because it would spoil the fun of putting together the pieces alongside Charlotte and Max. This isn’t a pulse-pounding thriller, but Ms. Krentz definitely keeps things moving at a good pace and even during re-reads when I knew what was coming I would get sucked into the story. All in all, When All the Girls Have Gone is a truly satisfying romantic suspense and a great start to the Cutler, Sutter & Salinas series.


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, November 12, 2018

Review: Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman

Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides, Book 10
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781250147523
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

A spirited lady facing spinsterhood. A common man with a noble mission. And a surprise that just might be waiting for them under the mistletoe in Kiss Me At Christmas by Valerie Bowman.

Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf abhors Christmas. Carol singing and holiday cheer only remind him of a dark time. When a close friend calls on him for help, Daffin is happy to capitalize on the distraction. But when he learns the lovely Lady Regina is the one in danger, he’s to become bodyguard to the captivating woman...

Regina has one mission: to find a night of passion in the arms of a gentleman. Considered firmly on the shelf, Regina has given up on marriage—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be denied the pleasure married ladies experience. Daffin has long captured her attention…and when a threat calls him to her side, the sparks between them ignite. But how can a hired bodyguard find his way into Regina’s noble heart?

Lady Regina Haversham has long been holding out for a love match. But as she nears thirty, her uncle is determined to see her wed. Regina knows she cannot put off her uncle’s chosen suitor forever, but she’s determined to at least have control over who she loses her virginity to. And there’s only one man she wants: famous Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf. Though he’s tempted, Daffin turns Regina down. That would be the end of it, except it seems that someone is targeting Regina. With her cousin out of town, Daffin is the one tasked with protecting her. Close quarters have a way of bringing down barriers, but given the difference in their stations, Regina and Daffin will need a Christmas miracle to get their happily ever after.

Kiss Me at Christmas is a warmhearted, sparkling holiday romance. Regina and Daffin absolutely charmed me; they’re both incredibly likeable and they have wonderful chemistry. Regina is open, curious, and kind while Daffin is protective and devilishly handsome. Physically, intellectually, and emotionally Regina and Daffin are a match and their romance builds from flirty and sweet to spicy. Yet while it’s clear they’re meant for each other, class differences aren’t always easy to overcome, even if Daffin is close friends with Regina’s cousin.

The romance in Kiss Me at Christmas makes the pages of the story fly by. But the romance is intertwined with the mystery of who is trying to kill Regina. At first, I enjoyed this subplot and had my theories about who was behind everything. Unfortunately, a mystery needs to have a satisfying – or at least logical – conclusion and this one was both unsatisfying and seemed to come out of left field. It felt manufactured for plot reasons, which was a pity because Daffin and Regina are such entertaining characters that you can’t help but feel they deserved better. This isn’t an insignificant quibble, but I still honestly enjoyed this book anyway. There’s a buoyancy to Valerie Bowman’s writing that just lifts me up whenever I read her books and Kiss Me at Christmas is no exception.


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.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Review: Pirate’s Passion by Lisa Kessler

Pirate’s Passion by Lisa Kessler
Series: Sentinels of Savannah, Book 2
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 9781640636422
Release Date: November 12, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Samuel Keegan used to man the wheel of the Sea Dog over 200 years ago, but these days he’s the front man of a southern rock band. Rum and women are plentiful, but his world is changing rapidly now that his crew is back together searching for the Holy Grail to break their curse. But the quest leads him to a historian with raven hair and a wicked smile. She holds all the answers, but she could also spell death for them all.

Dr. Charlotte Sinclair works for the Maritime Museum in Savannah, an expert on ancient pirate wrecks. When a government agent requests her help in a top-secret investigation, she discovers not only is the Holy Grail real, but the lead singer of her favorite band is actually the immortal pilot of the Sea Dog crew.

The search for the Grail opens some dark secrets better left hidden, and Charlotte's life might depend on one Pirate's Passion…

An immortal pirate turned rock star, a brilliant historian with a hunger for adventure, a quest for the Holy Grail… How could Pirate’s Passion not be fun? It’s Pirates of the Caribbean meets Indiana Jones with a healthy dose of romance and secret government agencies thrown in.

Samuel Keegan is a charming rogue who enjoys his immortality and an ever-changing stream of women in his bed. The threat of losing his immortality is only dimmed by the panic he feels at risking losing his heart to Dr. Charlotte Sinclair. Keegan has lost a woman he loved once, and he feels no desire to drown in that despair again. Only he can’t seem to help himself from falling for Char. She’s an expert on pirates and knows all about the crew of the Sea Dog who supposedly died over two hundred years ago. Keegan and Char click immediately and I loved their chemistry. How things work out when one is immortal and the other not, I won’t say. But I did enjoy the ride author Lisa Kessler took these two on. Keegan is the perfect fantasy of a pirate turned rock star. He’s a gentleman and a scoundrel, and who can resist that? Not me, and definitely not Char. She’s his match in every way and their romance was sexy one moment, fun the next, and melted my heart the moment after that.

Pirate’s Passion is the second book in the Sentinels of Savannah series but you don’t have to have read Magnolia Mystic to follow along. The ongoing search for the Holy Grail – the cup that gave the Sea Dog pirates their immortality – continues in this story and we also delve further into the world of the mysterious government agency, Department 13. The quest for the cup was exciting and I was completely invested in this storyline. The rest of the world building was where the story hit a bit of a snag for me. It wasn’t quite as exciting, perhaps because it’s explored from the viewpoint of the somewhat bland Agent Bale. There was also a case of a lot being thrown in to spur further stories, which did set up some interesting prospects for future books but also had the side effect of leaving the villains in this one somewhat underdeveloped. Still, I enjoyed Pirate’s Passion overall. Ms. Kessler knows how to deliver sexy pirates heroes and adventurous, interesting heroines. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in the Sentinels of Savannah series.


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.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Review: Picture Perfect Cowboy by Tiffany Reisz

Picture Perfect Cowboy by Tiffany Reisz
Series: The Original Sinners, Book 10
Publisher: 8th Circle Press
Genre: BDSM Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781984085863
Release Date: November 5, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Jason “Still” Waters' life looks perfect from the outside—money, fame, and the words “World Champion Bull-Rider” after his name. But Jason has a secret, one he never planned on telling anybody…until he meets Simone. She’s the kinky girl of his dreams…and his conservative family’s worst nightmare.

Jason “Still” Waters is a retired champion bull rider who lives a quiet life on his horse farm in Kentucky. At least it’s a quiet life until he has to sub in for a friend and pose naked for a charity calendar. Jason’s already out of his comfort zone when he meets gorgeous photographer Simone Levine, but then she knocks him for a loop by bringing out the secret that he’s long been trying to hide. Jason’s a dominant, but his ultra conservative upbringing makes him ashamed and afraid to act on his fantasies. But with a little help from Simone, a professional submissive, Jason may just find the courage to embrace his kinky side.

Picture Perfect Cowboy is utterly divine! It’s sexy, sweet, and oh-so-much fun to read. Jason just about melted my heart. He’s not just a drop-dead sexy cowboy (though that doesn’t hurt), he’s kind, sweet, and polite enough to make you swoon. He’s also a man at war with himself. To call his upbringing strict would be an understatement and it isn’t easy for him to overcome that and accept that (1) he’s a dominant and (2) there’s absolutely nothing wrong or bad about what he enjoys. I loved watching Simone help him come into his own, to overcome what was drilled into his head and find joy with someone whose kinks complement his own.

As for Simone, she’s a delight. She’s bright, funny, generous, and open. She’s a vibrant heroine who lit up the page and I adored her from the very first. Simone loves Jason’s brand of dominance and she’s patient, honest, and open with him. She’s a wonderfully sweet and bubbly heroine who has a spine of steel. I loved watching her and Jason explore a master/slave relationship. They’re hot as hell together, but what’s more, they click on every level. They fall in love fast and hard and it’s easy to see why – these two are made for each other.

Picture Perfect Cowboy is part of Tiffany Reisz’s Original Sinners world, but it easily stands alone. But never fear: Søren and Nora do appear and they are a wonderful addition to this story whether you’re an old fan or are just diving into the Original Sinners. Every book I’ve read by Tiffany Reisz has been nearly impossible to put down and this book continues that streak. Her characters are always compelling and the pages of her books seem to fly by. If you love sexy cowboys, vivacious heroines, and a sweet but kinky romance, Picture Perfect Cowboy is the book for you!


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.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Review: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780399587689
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn't come as a surprise–or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn't the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He's even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik's social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can't be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…

Jasmine Guillory is the master of meet-cutes. In The Proposal, a spectacularly awful proposal at a Dodgers game kicks off a sparkling romance between two smart, funny, endearing characters.

Carlos won me over in The Wedding Date and I couldn’t have been more excited for his book. Carlos has a huge and generous heart that made me sigh. And since the death of his father, he is extremely protective of the women in his family. He has a tendency to take over because he wants to take care of people, but to his credit he acknowledges this and works on holding himself in check. Carlos isn’t a perfect man, but he’s as close a knight in shining armor as possible without coming across as cardboard perfect. Nik doesn’t generally need rescuing, but even she has to admit she’s in over her head when her self-absorbed boyfriend surprises her with a proposal on the Dodger Stadium jumbotron. Escaping a stadium full of disappointed fans and a camera crew closing in is made a lot easier with the aid of Carlos and his sister. Nik and Carlos hit it off from the start, but having literally just ended a relationship Nik isn’t ready to jump into another. It was easy for me to fall for Nik. She’s smart, honest, witty, sarcastic, and independent. She’s also incredibly relatable and I had a blast reading about her.

Nik and Carlos’s romance is filled with humor and heart. Their chemistry is excellent and it made the pages of The Proposal fly by. As with The Wedding Date, this book features two people who are successful in their careers and both of them respect and value each other’s work, which I really enjoyed. The two of them fit one another like lock and key, but that doesn’t mean the road to happily ever after is an easy one. Nik has been hurt before so she guards her heart fiercely, not wanting to let herself fall for Carlos. As for Carlos, he has never truly dealt with the death of his father, a loss that has left its mark in unexpected ways. So while Nik and Carlos have no problem falling into lust, opening themselves up to love is another story. I won’t give away spoilers, but this is the one part where the story hit a big snag for me. I found Nik’s actions and reactions to be consistent all the way through the story, but Carlos takes a major left turn in character near the end of the book that felt manufactured for drama. This is a pity because it’s a clunky bit of false drama in an otherwise charming romance.

It’d be a crime to write about The Proposal and not talk about Nik’s two best friends, Dana and Courtney. They are both fantastic, fun, and exactly the kind of best friends you want to have. Though Dana finds love in this book, it’s not told from her point of view and I really, really hope Ms. Guillory gives Dana and her girlfriend (whose identity I won’t spoil) their own book or novella. And oh, do I have my fingers crossed in the hopes that Courtney gets a book. Courtney’s spirit and love of all things glittery (not to mention her cupcakes) made my heart sing and I desperately want her story. So while I thoroughly enjoyed The Proposal, it did leave me hungry for more of Ms. Guillory’s work.


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.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Review: Consumed by J.R. Ward

Consumed by J.R. Ward
Series: Firefighters, Book 1
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9781501194900
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
J.R. Ward Reading Order

Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed…

By her bitter family legacy, by her scorched career as a firefighter, by her obsession with department bad-boy Danny McGuire, and by a new case that pits her against a fiery killer.

Strong-willed Anne was fearless and loved the thrill of fighting fires, pushing herself to be the best. But when one risky decision at a warehouse fire changes her life forever, Anne must reinvent not only her job, but her whole self.

Shattered and demoralized, Anne finds her new career as an arson investigator a pale substitute for the adrenaline-fueled life she left behind. She doesn't believe she will ever feel that same all-consuming passion for her job again--until she encounters a string of suspicious fires setting her beloved city ablaze.

Danny McGuire is a premiere fireman, best in the county, but in the midst of a personal meltdown. Danny is taking risks like never before and seems to have a death wish until he teams up with Anne to find the fire starter. But Danny may be more than a distraction, and as Anne narrows in on her target, the arsonist begins to target her.

From the creator of the bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood, get ready for a new band of brothers. And a firestorm.

I’ve always found J.R. Ward’s books to be compulsively readable, so it’s no surprise that I was eager to dive into her new Firefighters series. Consumed sets the stage for what looks to be an interesting series of flawed heroes and heroines on the front lines of danger. It’s also a story I have a difficult time putting a rating on.

Let’s start with Anne Ashburn and Danny McGuire, our main couple. They’re smart but reckless, brave but deeply flawed. Danny is spiraling throughout most of this book (until he’s not) and I did like the level of realism Ms. Ward shows regarding the toll being a firefighter takes on a person. Anne isn’t exactly a likeable heroine, but – though it may sound strange – that’s one of the things I liked best about this book. Heroines like Anne are few and far between compared to their male counterparts and it was actually refreshing to see a heroine who is wounded, angry, and sometimes scared. Anne came into her own over the course of Consumed in an organic way and it was easy to become invested in her story. As for the romance, I highly recommend reading the two “Wedding from Hell” prequel novellas (“The Rehearsal Dinner” and “The Reception”) before starting this book. It’s no spoiler to say that Anne and Danny start out the book in love, but obstacles (some realistic, others that felt manufactured) keep the romance spinning its wheels for a lot of the story until the adrenaline rush of the finish.

Danny and Anne’s aren’t the only points of view in Consumed. There’s also that of Tom, the New Brunswick fire chief and Anne’s brother, and Vic Rizzo, a fellow firefighter from a different station. It’s not uncommon for Ms. Ward to have multiple points of view in her books and Tom’s scenes had the benefit of fleshing out the world and the Ashburn family, adding interest to the story, and generally making sure that I will stay on the edge of my seat, waiting for his book. As for Vic, he is probably the most likeable character in this book (aside from Anne’s awesome boss and Soot the dog), but his scenes don’t add much and I’m assuming they were included because he’ll be central to future books.

After an explosive beginning, Consumed slows down a bit, hitting its stride about three-quarters of the way through. A mystery stemming from Anne’s first case as an arson investigator builds over the course of the story. I enjoyed the danger and suspense and by the end I couldn’t put the book down, only to feel a bit disappointed that things were left hanging. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in future books, but the way things ended made this book feel a bit unfinished. Because this is the first book in the series, there’s a lot of world building and introductions. I was intrigued by the messy, hanging-by-a-thread firefighters even though they definitely aren’t your typical swoon-worthy protagonists. Most of them are presented as damaged with unhealthy coping mechanisms and a bizarre disdain for anyone even slightly younger than them (the last of which I only included because it felt shoehorned in repeatedly). They also tend to all talk alike, which makes sense on the one hand but on the other I feel like something is missing without defined voices. And it’d be remiss of me not to mention the scenes with the firefighters in action. It is clear Ms. Ward did her research and it shows really well, adding realism to the story.

Consumed is intriguing and flawed, just like its hero and heroine. On its own, I had some issues with the book but I think as the series goes on I will like it better as part of the whole. As it stands, Ms. Ward’s singular writing style pulled me in and I will definitely be back for more.


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, September 24, 2018

Review: A Rose in the Highlands by Heather McCollum

A Rose in the Highlands by Heather McCollum
Series: Highland Roses School, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781726414654
Release Date: September 24, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

1684, Scottish Highlands

Englishwoman Evelyn Worthington is resolved to build a school for ladies in her brother's newly purchased Scottish castle. But when she arrives, not only does she find the castle scorched by fire, but a brawny Highlander bars her entry.

Clan chief Grey Campbell would rather die than see his family home, Finlarig Castle, fall into English hands, so Grey must win the battle of wills with the beautiful Sassenach who flashes a bill of sale before him.

When the war between Evelyn and Grey escalates, passions flare. But outsiders have their own plans for Finlarig. After secrets are revealed, and muskets are lit, the fates of the Campbell Clan, the school, and a possible future for Grey and Evelyn are in as much jeopardy as their lives.

When Evelyn Worthington flees England and an unwanted suitor to start a school in her brother’s newly-purchased Scottish castle, she doesn’t expect to find the castle’s previous owner to still be living there! Clan chief Grey Campbell is dark, brooding, and determined to keep his place in Finlarig Castle, which he claims was unlawfully seized by the English. Evelyn isn’t quite sure what to do about the handsome, irritating man, but she’s not about to let him ruin her future…

Get ready for an entertaining battle of wills! A Rose in the Highlands crackles with energy thanks to the excellent chemistry Grey and Evelyn have. I adored Evelyn’s spirit and her determination to set up a school where girls can learn a host of skills from reading to self-defense. She’s an intelligent woman who won’t be cowed in a time where silence and obedience were demanded of her peers. And while Grey starts out as her enemy, it’s clear these two won’t be able to resist the pull between them for long. Grey has reason to hate the English. His parents were murdered, his castle seized, and he and his family and friends were nearly killed. So even while I was rooting for Evelyn to succeed in starting her Highland Roses school, I understood where Grey was coming from in the beginning. He’s a strong, proud man, but he’s also protective and caring. He and Evelyn make a great match and I enjoyed watching them fall in love. Add in secrets, conspiracies, and a healthy dose of suspense and you have a truly well-rounded story that’s incredibly difficult to put down.

Grey and Evelyn are the heart of A Rose in the Highlands, but the residents of Killin – not to mention Grey and Evelyn’s siblings – add further life to the tale and made me look forward to more Highland Roses School books. So while I finished A Rose in the Highlands a well-satisfied reader, I’m eager to learn Scarlet Worthington’s secrets in A Protector in the Highlands.


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.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Review: Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis

Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay, Book 6
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062741837
Release Date: September 25, 2018
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

Who needs mistletoe?

Most people wouldn’t think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn’t most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she’s been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that—but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once…

Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don’t mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he’s shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly’s brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can’t believe he’s drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who’s the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he’s ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he’s been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.

It’s never a bad time for holiday cheer, especially when you’ve got a story like Hot Winter Nights to read. Lucas and Molly’s romance is funny, heartwarming, and sensual. It’s impossible not to be swept away by this sweet confection of a tale.

Molly is a fighter. She’s got grit, strength, and a spine of steel and I loved that about her. As the office manager at Hunt Investigations, she knows she’s invaluable to the team. Yet she also knows she can and wants to do more, only her boss, brother, and the other members of the team are overprotective of her, in part because of the permanent nerve damage she has in one leg. But Molly is nothing if not clever and resourceful, so when a bad Santa case comes her way, she’s determined to take it on. She knows it isn’t safe to work alone, so she talks Lucas into helping her, not knowing her boss has already ordered him to keep an eye on her. Lucas is a hero you can’t help but love. He sees and respects Molly’s skills, knowledge, and abilities and even though he’s as protective as the rest of the Hunt investigators, he supports her in her quest to become an investigator. When it comes to his attraction to her, well, the sister of his best friend is off-limits. Except close quarters make it impossible for either of them to deny the pull between them…

Both Molly and Lucas have scars – physical and mental – from their past that make them put up walls around their hearts. Though it’s obvious to readers that they’re a perfect match, their road to happily ever after isn’t an easy one because insecurities and old ghosts aren’t easily overcome. Jill Shalvis perfectly balances their internal struggles with their otherwise bright and sexy romance and I was rooting for Molly and Lucas every step of the way.

Family and friends bring additional warmth and good cheer to Hot Winter Nights and Heartbreaker Bay fans will be delighted to catch up with past heroes and heroines (though if this is your entry into this series, you won’t be lost). I adore this series with its quirky, welcoming characters and the friendships add some sparkle to the story without detracting from Molly and Lucas. The only downside to this book is that I finished it incredibly eager to read the next Heartbreaker Bay book, Playing for Keeps, and that’s not a bad problem to have.


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

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Review: Don’t Touch My Petunia by Tara Sheets

Don’t Touch My Petunia by Tara Sheets
Series: The Holloway Girls, Book 2
Publisher: Zebra Shout
Genre: Contemporary Romance with Paranormal Elements
ISBN: 9781420146288
Release Date: September 25, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Pine Cove Island is the kind of enchanting place where anything is possible…

The Holloway women each have a special gift, passed down through generations, each one a little different. Juliette possesses a magical green thumb, which makes her job managing the local florist shop a dream. She may be a bit wild, but she knows what she wants: to save enough money to buy the shop from her boss. Then in marches Logan O’Connor, more annoyingly handsome than ever, turning all her plans upside down.

Logan hasn’t been back on Pine Cove Island since he was eighteen and broke Juliette’s teenage heart. Now it turns out he’s her boss’s nephew—and will be spending his days remodeling the shop and barking orders. At her.

For the sake of the business, Juliette will have to ignore their simmering attraction and work with Logan. But that doesn’t mean she has to make things easy for him. Because no one knows better than she that one tiny, perfectly planted bit of garden magic could uproot Logan’s own plans and keep him out of her way. And nothing would make her happier. At least that’s what she thinks…

Tara Sheets has the magic touch when it comes to sweet, utterly charming romances. I adored her first Holloway Girls book, Don’t Call Me Cupcake, and was pleased to find the enchantment didn’t wear off with Don’t Touch My Petunia.

Juliette has a magical connection to plants that someone with a black thumb like me envies. She’s vibrant and endearing, but she also had a vulnerable side that tugged on my heartstrings. Aside from her cousin Emma, everyone she has ever loved has left Juliette so she guards her heart fiercely. She relies on no one but herself, has walls a mile high, and is wary of change. Only someone like Logan could manage to scale those walls around her heart. Logan is the perfect hero without coming off as cardboard. He’s patient, kind, quiet, strong, and though he doesn’t take any flak from Juliette, he doesn’t scare easily when she resists change or her self-preservation instincts kick in and she tries to push him away. They have great chemistry that shows from the start as they banter and bicker, then slide into love. Their romance made me sigh more than once and there are so many sweet moments I don’t want to spoil by revealing. I really enjoyed watching them heal from the ghosts of their pasts with each other’s help and I liked them together so much that I hated having to put the book down.

A cast of lively secondary characters round out the book but never take the focus off of Juliette and Logan. I love the world of Pine Cove Island, the charm of the shops and the welcoming residents who each have their own fun quirks. I’m so glad Ms. Sheets will keep the magic going and give new Pine Cove Island resident Kat her own book because I don’t want to leave this place behind. If you enjoy sweet romances with a touch of magic, you’re sure to delight in reading Don’t Touch My Petunia.


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.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Review: Hard Deal by Stefanie London

Hard Deal by Stefanie London
Series: Melbourne After Dark, Book 2
Publisher: Harlequin Dare
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781488082658
Release Date: September 1, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

For one night only, Imogen Hargrove is a sexy spy. She’s donned a mask for the Carmina Masquerade Ball, where she hopes to catch her sister’s cheating fiancé, Daniel, in the act. But she’s the one who gets rumbled when she strays too close to her target—only to realize she’s been tailing the wrong man. A searing kiss makes her forget her mission altogether, and the mysterious stranger awakens something inside her: a burning passion she hasn’t felt since the brutal breakup of her last relationship.

Imogen is mortified to discover that the man behind the mask is her colleague, notorious womanizer Caleb Allbrook. He’s the last person she wants to get close to, and she doesn’t need another playboy in her life. But that kiss has her curious—besides, Caleb knows her sister’s fiancé and could prove very useful in digging up dirt.

She makes a deal: she’ll go on a date with Caleb in exchange for information on Daniel’s affair. But Caleb’s irresistible charm turns a casual conversation into a night of sultry seduction. Imogen knows Caleb is bad news—yet he makes her feel sexier than any man ever has. Can she pull herself away from yet another toxic relationship, or will Caleb prove there’s more to him than just sex appeal?

Hard Deal is so much fun to read. It’s both steamy and playful and the chemistry Caleb and Imogen have practically snaps and sizzles on the page.

To all the world, nothing can ruffle Imogen Hargrove. She’s smart, organized, and keeps her passionate nature tamped down. But beneath the surface is a woman who wants to live a more vibrant, sensual life. Imogen was badly hurt by her cheating ex-husband and it’s easy to see why the emotional scars she carries have heavily impacted her life. She’s a kind-hearted heroine who is easy to like, even when she makes mistakes to guard said heart. I really liked Imogen, so I was eager to see her come out of her shell. Caleb helps her do that by knocking her off her axis. He’s a swoon-worthy hero who is so much more than the playboy people know him as. Caleb is charming, good looking, and sexy as sin, but that’s only a small part of him. He made me smile with his rebellious socks and the way he could read people. But it tugged on my heartstrings to see the hidden, vulnerable part that feels unwanted and unloved by his father. He and Imogen both have ghosts in their pasts they have to overcome in order to open their hearts and have a shot at a real relationship. Yet while Imogen and Caleb have to work for their happily ever after, that doesn’t mean the road to it is lacking in fun – quite the contrary. Hard Deal is deliciously dirty and Imogen and Caleb are anything but shy when it comes to pleasure.

Hard Deal is the second book in Stefanie London’s Melbourne After Dark series but it can easily be read as a standalone. That being said, I will definitely go back and read Unmasked because I absolutely adore Ms. London’s writing. I’ve only read a few of her books, but the ones I’ve read are flirty, fun, and wholly addictive. Caleb and Imogen’s romance is no exception and I cannot wait to re-read it.


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.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Review: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Victorian Rebels, Book 6
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781250122568
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…

A LEGENDARY LOVE

Lorelai will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?

A boy who is just becoming a man crawling his way out of a mass grave, barely clinging to life is not how you would think a great romance begins. But Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels are anything but ordinary. The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo captivated me from the start as a teenage Lorelai rescues a broken young man with no name, no past, no memories. She gives him a name – Ash – and shows him kindness, gentleness, and love for the first time in his life. And when he’s torn from her, he takes a piece of her heart with him. Flash forward twenty years later and Ash is back, only now he’s the Rook, a man who has known nothing but blood, pain, and cruelty for years. The Rook wants to claim her for his own, but is there enough of Ash left for Lorelai to trust her heart to a pirate?

Lorelai is an incredibly endearing heroine. She’s grown up with an abusive monster of a brother and an indifferent father, but her strength and spirit shine through. She’s gentle and kind and loves rescuing and healing injured animals. How could she not melt your heart? Despite all she’s been through and the toll it has taken physically and emotionally, Lorelai never cowers. She’s got a spine of steel and she’ll need it to take on the Rook. Lorelai is the only good thing in the Rook’s life and he doesn’t want to let her go. Their romance is reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast and I adored watching Lorelai bring her Ash back out into the light. Don’t get me wrong – the Rook has plenty of reasons to be angry. But even at his darkest, it’s clear he loves Lorelai and I couldn’t wait to see him come into his own so they could find happiness. Ms. Byrne excels at delivering grand, passionate romances and Ash and Lorelai’s is no exception. I loved the emotion that leapt off the page; it kept me reading until I couldn’t keep my eyes open no matter how hard I tried.

A hunt for treasure with only the scarred remnants of the Rook’s dragon tattoo as a guide complements the romance perfectly. There’s action, danger, discovery, and betrayal and everything combines into a wonderfully satisfying tale. The treasure hunt also pushes our hero and heroine into the path of beloved characters who may hold the key to the Rook’s past. I was thrilled to revisit past Victorian Rebels characters and the multiple relationships woven into the book absolutely made my day when reading it. If I seem incredibly vague, it’s because I don’t want to spoil the story for readers who want to discover the Rook’s identity on their own.

The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is a gripping, emotional, sensual love story. Lorelai and Ash have fantastic chemistry and I loved every bit of their romance. My only complaint is that I finished their book wanting more of Ms. Byrne’s Victorian Rebels. This series is like catnip to me – I simply cannot get enough of Ms. Byrne’s dark and dangerous heroes and the strong women who love them.


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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews

Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels, Book 10
Publisher: Ace
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780425270714
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Ilona Andrews Reading Order

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She's made friends and enemies. She's found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate's doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

The final battle is here. Everything the Kate Daniels series has been building up to comes to a head in Magic Triumphs, culminating in an awesome display of magic. Authors Ilona Andrews have perfectly balanced cinematic action with intimate, personal moments, resulting in a wonderfully satisfying story.

From her near-loner beginnings in Magic Bites to now, it’s been a hell of a journey for Kate. She and Curran have a family – both of blood and of their own choosing – that stretches wide across Atlanta. They want peace for their loved ones and safety for their son, but that’s not possible with Kate’s father, the godlike Roland, casting his shadow over the land and people Kate has sworn to protect. And when an ancient and powerful enemy comes to her door and the Oracle sees fire and blood in the future, Kate knows that she’s now in the countdown to the battle that could cost her all she holds dear.

Kate is as kickass as ever. She’s fierce, powerful, loving, and sometimes entertainingly out of her depth as mother to the rather unique (and scene-stealing) Conlan. Even with the stakes being so high, with the intensity that builds to a screaming point as you worry over the fate of beloved characters, Ilona Andrews never loses sight of the personal moments. It’s those moments that make Magic Triumphs a stand-out story. Don’t get me wrong – Ilona Andrews’ worldbuilding is seriously top-notch. The battles are epic, the threats intriguing, unique, and powerful, and the various relationships, alliances, and politics Kate has to maneuver are intricate. But for me it was the personal moments that locked me into the story, that reinforced who and what Kate is fighting for.

If you’re wondering why I’m not saying much about the plot it’s because spoilers are hard to avoid and I definitely don’t want to ruin this book for anyone. If you’re at all familiar with the Kate Daniels books (and you definitely should be before starting this story), you know to expect spectacular battles, complex plots, and multifaceted characters. It definitely wouldn’t be a finale without all the key players from past books having a role to play and getting time with Kate. Ilona Andrews has filled this world with unique, vibrant characters and I was thrilled to revisit my favorites and see how everything and everyone would come together in the end. Is Magic Triumphs absolutely, positively everything a fan of the series could want for a conclusion? Of course not. I’ve been invested in this series for over a decade and no matter how hard I tried not to, I came in with my own hopes and it’d be ridiculous to assume the authors could meet all fan expectations. But any issues I had were minor and I found this to be a supremely satisfying end to Kate’s journey. Magic Triumphs is brilliant, engaging, funny, intense, and wholly original. I cannot recommend it highly enough.


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.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Review: Three-Way Split by Elia Winters

Three-Way Split by Elia Winters
Series: Comes in Threes, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled: Scorched
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Polyamorous Romance
ISBN: 9781724687715
Release Date: August 20, 2018
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Hannah Stewart knows what she likes, and it doesn't include relationships. She has enough on her plate with her fledgling adult novelty shop, Yes Please. But even with an arsenal of sex toys at her disposal, she's hit a dry spell—one she wishes the sexy Mitchell Fredericks would help her out with.

There's just one snag. His sexy roommate and business partner, Ben Harrington.

The last thing she wants to do is come between their friendship—even though she'd like to come between them in other ways. Instead, she comes up with a proposition for them, one that might lead to a very hot, very unexpected outcome.

Three-Way Split is a sexy as hell polyam romance with a lot of heart. Elia Winters’s first Comes in Threes book is positively scorching, but it’s the characters and the way they approach their relationships that really makes this story stand out.

Hannah is a fiercely independent owner of an adult store. She’s smart, knowledgeable, flirty and fun, but she also has very realistic struggles, insecurities, and fears. At the beginning of the story, she has the hots for both Ben and Mitchell, but she doesn’t want things to be any deeper than some very hot fun and friendship for the three of them because she’s afraid of having her heart broken. Like Hannah, Ben guards his heart closely. He’s been burned badly by an ex and though he and Mitchell have been friends with benefits for a couple of years, he won’t let things go any farther. Ben is brilliant and so charming that I couldn’t help but smile whenever he was on the page. As with Hannah, I was really rooting for Ben to open up because it’s clear he, Hannah, and Mitchell could have something special. Which brings me to the third member of the triad: Mitchell. If I had to pick a favorite character in this book it would definitely be the quietly dominant chef. Mitchell is perhaps the most openly vulnerable of the three of them; he clearly wants a relationship but is careful not to ask for more than Ben or Hannah think they can give. Mitchell isn’t perfect, but he’s pretty much everything a person could ask for in a partner, only he doesn’t quite see how special he is which just grabbed my heart.

As individuals, Mitchell, Ben, and Hannah are compelling characters. When they get together, either in twos or threes, Three-Way Split is seriously hot. A fun, sex-positive m/m/f erotic romance would be enough, but what took this book to the next level was the way it discussed polyamory. It’s not just hot times in the bedroom (among other places) and I loved the realism woven into the fantasy. As Hannah, Ben, and Mitchell become more serious, they take the time to learn more about polyamory, what it means, and how to communicate with your partners, especially when it comes to your wants, fears, expectations, and feelings. This gives the book and the love stories such wonderful depth and works perfectly with the kinky good times. The only downside of Three-Way Split is that I finished it wanting the next Comes in Threes book because I loved the characters and romances in this one so much.


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

Monday, August 13, 2018

Review: A Duchess in the Dark by Kate McKinley

A Duchess in the Dark by Kate McKinley
Series: By Invitation Only, Book 1
Publisher: Forever Yours
Genre: Erotic Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781455574278
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Miss Daphne Hayward is on the hunt for a safe, honorable husband and she has set her sights on the perfect target. She plans a full-scale seduction that will bring him to his knees, and have him begging for her hand in marriage. But when she mistakenly slips into another man's bed, the passions that quickly ignite threaten to send her well-laid plans up in smoke.

Ashton Fitzgerald, Duke of Claymore has never been for want of a willing woman in his bed and his rakish ways have become legend in boudoirs and dark corners all across London. But not even Ashton can account for the powerful desire that surges through him when a mysterious woman pays him a clandestine midnight visit. As dawn breaks, his goddess flees before he can learn her identity. Now Ashton will stop at nothing to unmask the identity of the woman who bewitched him body and soul and make her his…forever.

Daphne Hayward is determined to marry a man her brother-in-law doesn’t approve of, so she sets out to secure her future by sliding into bed with the man she wants to wed. Only she unknowingly winds up in the bed of Ashton Fitzgerald, Duke of Claymore. Their night together is phenomenal, but when each discovers who their mysterious bed partner is, they’re in for one heck of a surprise. Though she’s attracted to Ashton, Daphne has no interest in wedding a man every woman swoons over. Only Ashton isn’t about to give Daphne up so easily…

A case of mixed-up bedrooms can either lead to ruin or utter happiness in A Duchess in the Dark. Kate McKinley’s first By Invitation Only book is fast-paced, fun, and sexy, making for a perfect afternoon escape from reality. While Daphne and Ashton’s romance is definitely spicy, it’s also incredibly sweet and that’s what makes the book stand out for me. Ashton’s good looks are the least important part of his character. He’s kind, caring, protective, and non-judgmental, which makes him a really appealing hero. I was rooting for him to win Daphne over because they clearly fit. A Duchess in the Dark is a fairly short novella, so it’s a bit of a whirlwind love story, but that was fine by me. The dialogue was sprightly, the characters likeable, and the romance an excellent mix of sensual and sweet. I was charmed by Daphne and Ashton’s story and I look forward to reading the rest of the By Invitation Only series.


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, August 6, 2018

Review: The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
ISBN: 9781492657965
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

The Rules of Blackheath
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let's begin…

***

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…

Evelyn Hardcastle is going to die; that much has been foretold. But who did it? That is the question Aiden Bishop must answer if he ever hopes to be free of Blackheath. He has eight hosts – each a player on a deadly chessboard he can’t fully see. Eight different points of view, eight chances to solve a mystery before time runs out…

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is an intense, evocative, intricately-plotted tale that will keep you on your toes. From the start, I was drawn into the rich imagery of the decaying world of Blackheath, its inhabitants unique and vividly drawn. There are so many secrets in this complex mystery, so many puzzle pieces and point of view jumps that it’s no wonder our protagonist needs eight hosts to even have a glimmer of a chance at solving Evelyn’s murder.

The more you know about a mystery going in, the less enjoyable it is, so I’m loathe to say much about what happens in the story. I will say that I loved watching Aiden put the pieces of this sizeable puzzle together. It’s no easy feat, as he’s hindered as well as aided by the hosts chosen for him. In the hands of another author, this story might have been a tangled mess. But Stuart Turton has done an exceptional job of weaving together a massive number of threads to form one solid mystery. The worldbuilding in this book is fantastic and I loved that I couldn’t tell what would happen next. With so many personalities swirling about, no one can be entirely predictable. There’s also a sinister presence dogging Aiden’s steps that adds a slightly chilling quality to the story, which I enjoyed. The only thing that kept me from absolutely loving this book was the ending. When it comes to stories like these, you really have to stick the landing or it’s a bit of a letdown and while the ending was satisfying enough, it did leave me wanting a bit more. That being said, I still highly recommend The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle to anyone looking for an original, engaging mystery and I’m looking forward to seeing what Mr. Turton comes up with next.


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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Review: Serendipity by Carly Phillips

Serendipity by Carly Phillips
Series: Serendipity, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance Serendipity Cover
ISBN: 9780425243831
Source: Publisher
Blue Ribbon Rating: 4 out of 5
Original Review Link
Book Purchase Link
Carly Phillips Reading Order

Faith Harrington grew up in the lap of luxury and never left it…until her father being sent to prison for running a Ponzi scheme was followed up by finding out that her husband was a cheating jerk. Faith needs a fresh start, and she’s determined to get it in her home town of Serendipity where she wants to start her interior design business. Unfortunately, some people in Serendipity are putting the blame for the sins of the father on Faith. What’s more, the mansion Faith grew up in is now home to notorious bad boy Ethan Barron. What’s a woman to do? Well, when Ethan hires her to redecorate his home, a woman like Faith takes the chance. But will she also take a chance on the scoundrel who’s always sent her heart racing?

Author Carly Phillips starts off her SERENDIPITY series with a bang! SERENDIPITY is passion and fun, past mistakes and new beginnings all rolled into one.

Faith is a woman who is determined to claim her life as her own, and she’ll work her butt off to make a success of herself. Faith is beautiful, intelligent and wealthy, but what makes her a fantastic heroine is her hard work and likeability. Ethan, in turn, is a former bad boy who has returned to Serendipity to make amends and reconnect with his family. Sadly, his past makes it hard for people – especially his brothers – to see the man he has become. I flat-out adored Ethan and not only did I want him to find love with Faith, I wanted him to get the acceptance he craves. To her credit, Ms. Phillips doesn’t make it easy for Ethan. I was every bit as invested in Ethan and Faith’s individual journeys as I was in their romance.

Ms. Phillips could have easily fallen into one of the well-known contemporary romance patterns with SERENDIPITY – ex-bad boy falls for good girl/princess. But Ms. Phillips takes the best parts of that romance archetype and then spins her own unique story from here. There are twists and turns in SERENDIPITY that I didn’t see coming, and I LOVED them. I finished SERENDIPITY with a smile on my face, delighted by Ethan and Faith’s utterly charming romance. Bring on the next SERENDIPITY novel, DESTINY!

Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here with permission from Romance Junkies.

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, July 23, 2018

Review: Destined Mate by Katie Reus

Destined Mate by Katie Reus
Series: Werewolf Mates, Book 1
Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne Cravings
Genre: Paranormal Romance Destined Mate Cover
ASIN: B005N99JFK
Source: Publisher
Blue Ribbon Rating: 3 out of 5
Original Review Link
Book Purchase Link

It’s been nearly a century since Angela has seen Knox, the man she loves. Knox is a werewolf Alpha, and she fled his embrace when she was turned into a vampire. Now a vampire friend of Angela’s has been kidnapped by a werewolf, and Angela plans to rescue her. But when she sneaks onto Knox’s land; her former lover captures her. This time, however, Knox isn’t willing to let Angela go. But will their rekindled romance ruin any chance for peace between their two species?

Passion, politics and the paranormal go together perfectly in author Katie Reus’ novel, DESTINED MATE. Readers will hit the ground running in DESTINED MATE, and the fast pace doesn’t let up. Strains of the movie Underworld slink through this sexy tale. The former star-crossed lovers in this story must overcome prejudice from both species. I was fascinated by the paranormal politics in DESTINED MATE, almost as much as I was interested in the romance. Ms. Reus had me cheering Angela and Knox on, and I avidly read DESTINED MATE to see how these two would get their happily ever after. And you know they will - it’s clear that Angela and Knox are, yes, destined to be together.

Sensual, exciting and entertaining, DESTINED MATE is sure to delight fans of paranormal romance.

Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here with permission from Romance Junkies.

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.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Review: The Singular Mr. Sinclair by Mia Marlowe

The Singular Mr. Sinclair by Mia Marlowe
Series: The House of Lovell, Book 1
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781516105977
Release Date: July 17, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Lord and Lady Chatham were blessed with five sons and only one daughter. But when it comes to Caroline, one is more than enough…

Caroline is about to embark on her third Season and her parents fear she’ll be permanently on the shelf if she fails to make a match this time. Unfortunately for them, that is precisely what Caroline wants! Curious and adventuresome, Caroline longs for a life of travel, excitement, and perhaps even a touch of danger…

If only she can remain unmarried until she turns twenty-one, Caroline will inherit her grandmother’s bequest and gain her freedom. It’s not a staggering amount, but it’s enough to fund her dreams without a husband’s permission. She has her future all planned out—until Lawrence Sinclair appears on the scene…

Intense, intriguing, and handsome, the man reminds Caroline of a caged lion. In fact, the more she knows of him, the more questions she has. And when she learns how dangerous he really is, he may just become her new fascination—the one she can’t resist…

The Singular Mr. Sinclair is a true delight to read! Reformed rakes and silver-tongued rogues make for fine heroes, but there’s something about a slightly awkward hero that just grabs my heart. Lawrence charmed me from the start and made me smile. He isn’t a dashing duke, but rather a self-made man whose position as heir to an earldom is tenuous at best. He’s not someone most ladies would fawn over because he’s not suave or witty, but they’d be missing out because he’s a smart, honorable, kind, loyal, and strong man. He’s also unabashedly head-over-heels for Caroline from the very start and that just made me melt.

Caroline may have grown up in the heart of the ton, but she longs for a life much different than the one laid out for her. She’s determined to see the world and she’ll even flirt with an unsuitable gentleman if it undermines her parents’ plans to marry her off before she comes into her inheritance and can take off on her own. The one thing Caroline never planned for was Lawrence. He needs her help if he’s to fit into society, but there’s something about her brother’s friend that knocks her just slightly off-kilter and she senses that there’s more to him than meets the eye.

The Singular Mr. Sinclair has a slightly slow pace, but I was charmed enough by the characters that I didn’t mind. Caroline and Lawrence’s romance develops organically and there are just enough obstacles that I was curious to see how they would ultimately end up together. Caroline and Lawrence would be enough to make this a satisfying read, but the addition of Caroline’s brothers filled out this story nicely and made me look forward to more House of Lovell books. The Singular Mr. Sinclair was a joy to read and by the time I finished the book I was excited to read more of Mia Marlowe’s work.


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, July 16, 2018

Review: I Want Candy by Susan Donovan

I Want Candy by Susan Donovan
Series: Bigler, North Carolina, Book 2
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Romance I Want Candy Cover
ISBN: 9780312536220
Source: Publisher
Blue Ribbon Rating: 4 out of 5
Original Review Link
Book Purchase Link

Candace Carmichael enjoyed living the high life until the Florida real estate market crashed. Suddenly out of a job and in debt up to her ears, Candy has no choice but to return to her hometown of Bigler, North Carolina. The adjustment is anything but smooth, yet despite the constant stream of disasters there’s one bright spot to Candy’s return; Sheriff Turner Halliday. Turner is an old friend of Candy’s, but the sparks that fly between them are totally new. Candy would love to see the sexy sheriff out of uniform, but two things are holding her back; first, Turner’s a widower who still wears his wedding ring and second, Candy has no intention of staying in Bigler permanently. Will Candy and Turner be able to let go of their pasts and create a future – together – unlike any either had ever dreamed of?

I WANT CANDY makes me say “I want more of Susan Donovan’s books!” The bright and fun sequel to CHERI ON TOP has humor and heart to spare, making it a delightful read. Candy and Turner are characters who thought they had it all together, but clearly their lives aren’t as figured out as they thought they were. It was a joy to watch them learn what they wanted out of life, whether it was the ability to move on and find love again or learning that it was okay to find a new dream when the old one failed. Ms. Donovan had me cheering for Candy and Turner to get together, but more importantly, she had me eagerly turning the pages of I WANT CANDY to see how the two protagonists developed over the course of the story.

I WANT CANDY is a tasty treat from start to finish. Candy and Turner are a couple you can root for and the oftentimes zany residents of Bigler will make you chuckle. Fans of contemporary romance with a healthy dose of comedy are sure to enjoy I WANT CANDY.


Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here with permission from Romance Junkies.

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.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Review: Playing Dirty by Amy Andrews

Playing Dirty by Amy Andrews
Series: Sydney Smoke Rugby, Book 6
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781640635494
Release Date: July 9, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Sydney Smoke star recruit Kyle Leighton can’t believe the best sex of his life was just a one-night stand. He didn’t even know her name… Until she shows up at the locker room two weeks later and he connects the dots.

Val King. Oh shit.

Coach has one hard and fast rule: Never, ever date (much less f*ck ten ways to Sunday) his daughter. And not only did Kyle break that rule, but he wants to break it over and over again. In the shower. Against a wall. On every flat surface in his home.

But the coach and his daughter share more than just DNA. Their issues run deep and fooling around with her could widen the family chasm.

And get Kyle benched for life.

So why can’t he stop thinking about her? Flirting with her? Suggesting they date for real and damn the consequences?

The first rule any player for the Sydney Smoke learns is this: Stay away from the coach’s daughter. That’s all well and good for newly-traded hotshot Kyle Leighton. He’s come to be coached by Griffin King and no woman would ever take precedence over rugby. Only when Kyle goes to a bar and has a blazing hot one-night stand with the mysterious Val, he has no idea that she’s the one woman in all of Sydney he’s supposed to stay away from. One mistake like that could jeopardize his career – not to mention Val’s already strained relationship with her father. It’s clear to both Val and Kyle that they should stay away from one another. Except some passions burn too hot to ignore…

Playing Dirty is smoking hot and a whole lot of fun. Where can I put an order in for one of Amy Andrews’s Sydney Smoke players? Ms. Andrews has a gift for penning insanely hot athletes who are seriously sexy, incredibly talented on the pitch and in the bedroom, and yet they’re never full of themselves. In other words, the whole team is made up of perfect book boyfriend material and Kyle Leighton is no exception. Kyle is talented, fun, and has a big heart. He isn’t flawless and it drove me nuts when he made decisions in Val’s interest without talking to her, but when he makes mistakes they’re made with good intentions and a kind heart. Val is a blast to read about and I’ve been looking forward to her story from the very first book in the series. Like Kyle, she’s a funny and kind protagonist and it’s easy to adore her. She and Kyle have a red hot romance that made the pages of Playing Dirty fly by and I was rooting for them every step of the way.

Kyle and Val’s romance shines, but there’s an equally important secondary plot in Playing Dirty that will just tug on your heartstrings. Val carries a lot of hurt buried not-so-deep beneath the surface and it’s due to her relationship with her father. She desperately wants her father’s love, but there’s so much grief and guilt in their past that Griff can’t see past to give it to her. Kyle, the outsider in this situation, gets involved because he can’t bear to see Val hurting. The result is a messy, emotional journey that’s intertwined with the romance and I loved it.

Playing Dirty is the sixth book in the Sydney Smoke Rugby series but it can easily be read as a standalone. Every book in this series is a great mix of humor, heat, and heart and Kyle and Val’s story is no exception. I adored Playing Dirty and by the time I finished it I was grinning like a loon (it doesn’t hurt that Ms. Andrews’s heroes excel at incredibly fun, over-the-top displays of affection). I can’t wait to see what Ms. Andrews has in store for readers in the next Sydney Smoke 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.

Review: Off the Grid by Monica McCarty

Off the Grid by Monica McCarty
Series: The Lost Platoon, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9780399587726
Release Date: July 3, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

A team of Navy SEALs go on a mission and disappear without a trace--they are The Lost Platoon.

Investigative reporter Brittany Blake may have stumbled upon the story of a lifetime in her search for her missing brother. When he seemingly disappears overnight, she refuses to accept the Navy's less-than-satisfying explanation. She begins her own investigation, which leads her to top-secret SEAL teams, covert ops, and a possible cover up…

John Donovan is having trouble biding his time, waiting for his Commanding Officer to figure out who set up their platoon. John's best friend and BUD/S partner, Brandon Blake, was one of the many lives tragically lost in the attack against his team. When Brandon's sister, Brittany, tracks John down, looking for answers, he realizes that she may be their best bet--or bait--for finding out who is targeting SEAL Team Nine.

When a top secret mission goes wrong in Russia and more than half of SEAL Team Nine is killed, the survivors are ordered to scatter and go dark. Only not everyone is willing to let them stay off the grid. Reporter Brittany Blake can smell a government cover up a mile away and since this one involves her missing – possibly dead – brother, she’s not about to let it rest until she discovers the truth.

John Donovan hates being stuck in Finland, doing nothing, while he waits for orders from his lieutenant commander. And while he would like to pretend otherwise, John also can’t move past the death of his best friend and teammate, Brandon Blake. When he’s ordered to shut Brittany up – for her safety as well as the rest of his surviving teammates – it throws him for a loop. Years ago, Brandon made it clear Brittany was off-limits. But with the adrenaline rush of danger and the pull neither John nor Brittany can deny, it’s clear that some promises are meant to be broken…

I really struggled with rating Off the Grid. On the one hand, Monica McCarty’s writing is engaging, drawing me into the book and keeping the story moving at a quick clip. The action is cinematic and the overarching series question of who betrayed SEAL Team Nine and why was interesting. That being said, I struggled with the characters which kept me from liking this book as much as I wanted to.

Brittany Blake gave me flashbacks to Lois Lane (always a good thing). She’s a reporter with a sharp mind and dogged determination to get her story. She has been wronged more than once by a government cover up and her brother is one of the missing SEALs, so I did understand why she was so determined to find out what happened to the group of men she dubbed “The Lost Platoon.” That being said, Brittany’s strengths were also her weaknesses. She can get tunnel vision, which is frustrating when she doesn’t seem to fully understand – or more importantly care – that she’s putting other lives in danger besides her own. One of those lives belongs to John Donovan, the man who broke her heart five years ago. John is known for his laid-back ways, but he’s mostly intense and frustrated in this book. He definitely has reason to be, but at times it felt like his personality had melted away and we were left with a generic military hero, which was a pity. John and Brittany do have chemistry, but their romance paled in comparison to the sexual tension between two supporting characters. Added to that, Brittany and John suffer from the same problem that a lot of characters in this book do: a lack of honest communication. It’s a common enough plot device, but it’s one that I find a bit frustrating, so people who aren’t bothered by this may like their romance more than I did.

Off the Grid isn’t just John and Brittany’s story. Former SEAL Colt and his ex-wife, CIA analyst Kate are working to discover who betrayed Colt’s former team. Colt and Kate are the reason I am so invested in this series. Their chemistry is off-the-charts explosive and the pure drama keeps me coming back for more. The pain, anger, distrust, and lust practically jump off the page and I cannot wait to see if/how Ms. McCarty makes things work for these two. She definitely has her work cut out for her, because even though I got a fair sense of Colt’s history and why he acts the way he does, he definitely is cruel to Kate; so much so that I’m honestly not sure if I should be rooting for him to win her back. Whether or not he does, he and Kate livened up the book and their storyline ensures that I’ll be back for Out of Time, the next Lost Platoon 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.