Tag Archives: Berkley

Review: Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

Babs’ review of Silver Silence by Nalini Singh
Paranormal romance released by Berkley Books on June 13, 2017

Nalini Singh returns to her extraordinary Psy-Changeling world with a story of wild passion and darkest betrayal…

Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence–her mind clear of all emotion–Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed…

I’m a huge Nalini Singh fan and loved this book. I was super excited when it was announced this would be Silver Mercant’s book and include bears! Things move quickly from the very beginning and don’t really slow down. Valentin, the alpha of StoneWater bear changelings, has bear stuff he’s dealing with. His crush on Silver is cute and his playful pursuit of her is the only time he gets away from Denhome. I love that through everything, he always believed Silver could do anything. Silver is changing careers, standing up a new organization under the Trinity Accord, and cementing her place in the Mercant family hierarchy. Basically being a badass. Both the Mercant family and the bears fascinated me. I hope we get more of both in this new arc, Psy-Changeling Trinity. Continue reading

TBR Challenge Review/Thoughts: Rush by Maya Banks

This isn’t so much a review strictly as my thoughts on the book. I couldn’t not add them, and you’ll see why.

Rush by Maya Banks
Erotic romance released by Berkley on February 5, 2013

Gabe, Jace, and Ash: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Gabe, it’s making one particular fantasy come true with a woman who was forbidden fruit. Now she’s ripe for the picking…

When Gabe Hamilton saw Mia Crestwell walk into the ballroom for his hotel’s grand opening, he knew he was going to hell for what he had planned. After all, Mia is his best friend’s little sister. Except she’s not so little anymore. And Gabe has waited a long time to act on his desires.

Gabe has starred in Mia’s fantasies more than once, ever since she was a teenager with a huge crush on her brother’s best friend. So what if Gabe’s fourteen years older? Mia knows he’s way out of her league, but her attraction has only grown stronger with time. She’s an adult now, and there’s no reason not to act on her most secret desires.

As Gabe pulls her into his provocative world, she realizes there’s a lot she doesn’t know about him or how exacting his demands can be. Their relationship is intense and obsessive, but as they cross the line from secret sexual odyssey to something deeper, their affair runs the risk of being exposed—and vulnerable to a betrayal far more intimate than either expected.

I love friends to lovers stories. And who doesn’t enjoy a good erotic romance? I admit I’m behind on Maya Banks’s books, but a few of the newer ones I had read were more miss than hit for me, but I knew I wanted to give this new one a try. I’m glad I did. After all, I’m a huge sucker for best friend’s little sister romances. That whole forbidden thing.

Mia is an excellent character, and I were there were more like her out there in romance-world. She has a strong sense of self, and a great network set up. Beyond the family/parental support from her brother, she has friends who she can count on. Real friends who aren’t afraid to smack some sense into her. I liked that she was willing to take a stand and knew her own worth. For all that she’s young and a bit wishy washy in the “real world” sense, she’s allowed to be. She’s only twenty four, and has the good fortune of not having to worry about finances or security. I think this aspect actually allowed Ms. Banks to focus even more on the relationship.

Gabe is a guy any girl would have a hard time turning down. He’s damaged, but otherwise is unusual as your “bad boy billionaire hero” because he has great friends and family. Sure, not everything is coming up roses, but that’s just reality. He’s almost a regular guy in that in business he knows what he wants and more importantly, he gets it. But with interpersonal relationships, especially with Mia, he has to work for it. I liked the human quality to him. And that he knew when he was wrong and acted to make it right.

I’m not really into BDSM, and beyond that, with the sheer volume of such books, I’m over it. But, I enjoyed it here not on principle, but because it fit. That’s who Gabe and Mia are, and it’s how their relationship works. I think that was the biggest part for me. It wasn’t about how sexy or kinky the story could be, it was exploring their physical relationship.

I have to say, I read this book when it came out, and I’ve thought about it a lot. There were some major parts to it that bothered me, but then I argued with myself as to whether they are major or not. Mia and Gabe’s relationship begins with a contract. For employment, and for Mia to be Gabe’s lover. His actions and thrusting the contract upon her is where the journey begins. In the sense that it’s the start, that’s minor. The fact that it’s the basis of the relationship …

Gabe is supposed to be this major player in the business world. The fact that he uses a sex contract as legally binding makes part of my brain melt. And then his lawyer checks it? (Let’s not even talk about professional responsibility and disciplinary actions…) Hint: I’m not talking about a sex contract being scandalous. I’m talking about such a character assuming it’s legally binding. Or even to have that clause in Mia’s employment contract that she is to be constantly sexually available to him. Employment contract.

So you see, things like that really bothered me. But if I ignored it, the romance, writing, characterizations, were all great. I then thought – should I have to ignore such things to enjoy a romance?

And there you see my dilemma. If I stop getting into “those details” (which really should get hashed out in its own blog post), it’s great. The characters are well developed and genuine. I even liked Mia’s roommate Caroline enough to hope that she gets her own little HEA. (I’m starting to hate series so that’s a major concession from me.)

Of course there are great sex scenes, and what I liked was how realistic the progression of the relationship is depicted. While, of course, almost all the sex was amazing and the best ever, there were some situations that were uncomfortable. There’s a time when Gabe pushes Mia and it doesn’t turn out well. That’s something that is unusual for many erotic romances, and even detours from Ms. Banks’s other works. I believed it, and not having everything be sparkles pollyanna only made the story better.

One last thing – Gabe screws up. Hard. (What romance hero doesn’t?) Before I read this book I saw a lot of clamor about the awesome groveling Gabe does. (I admit, that was a part of why I picked up Rush as well. I adore a good grovel.) Maybe I’m too much of a hardass, but I wasn’t that impressed with it. Alas.

I’ve read the excerpt for the next book, Jace’s, and I’m already anticipating it. A lot. For those of you who like hot reads, I definitely recommend you read Rush. (And then I’d be curious to hear if you even notice those things that bothered me.) Because, as I said, if I take out those issues, I really liked it.

Grade: B

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

Guest Review(-ish): Sweet Addiction by Maya Banks

A guest review(-ish) by Kati Brown (aka @KatiD of Katidom fame! Totally excited she agreed to share/post her review here!) 
**SPOILERS AHOY**

Sweet Addiction by Maya Banks
Contemporary erotic romance released by Berkley on April 3, 2012

He awakened a need within her…

Cole is successful beyond his dreams. He can have any woman he wants, but there’s only one he can’t stop thinking about. His childhood sweetheart, Renita. He’s never forgotten his first taste of innocent love and the desire that consumed them—or the pain he brought upon her…

But now she belongs to another…

Her long ago brush with submission awakened a longing in Ren that drove her to walk the darker edge of desire. She’s become a beautiful woman at ease with her sexuality and unapologetic about her need for a dominant man. When Cole finds her again, he’s gutted that she belongs to another. Ren’s current master agrees to give her to Cole for a short time, but then she must return to his keeping. And though Cole agrees to this bargain, he knows he will never be able to let Ren go again…

I’ve been an avid reader of Maya Banks for quite some time. I followed the “Sweet” series and have liked most of the books. This is the final book in the series, and it’s Cole’s book. For the last five books, readers have been wondering about Cole. He’s dark, got a past, and not averse to serving up a little pain with his sexytimes — all things that draw me immediately as a reader.

It turns out that Cole’s “darkness” comes from his past with Renita, a woman that he loved as a young man. They met young, and immediately saw in each other a particular need: Cole’s need to dominate and Ren’s need to submit. Cole, knowing next to nothing about a D/s relationship, stumbled his way around, doing what felt good for both of them. But one night, after going too far, he realizes he’s caused Ren actual pain, and ends things. For her part, Ren loved the encounter and is devastated that Cole would end their love affair.

Years later, his handling of the ending of his relationship with Ren haunts Cole still. So he’s shocked when he hears her distinctive laugh in a restaurant. When he turns, he finds Ren with a very handsome man. They are definitely together, and she looks really happy.   Cole is immediately overcome with jealousy and coerces one of his friends who is acquainted with Ren’s man to arrange a meeting. Ren is beyond shocked to see Cole. All of the feelings she had come rushing back, and she’s immediately torn between her new love, Lucas, who provides everything she’s ever wanted, and Cole, the man who she has her most visceral connection to.

When Lucas witnesses Ren’s reaction to Cole, he decides to gift Ren with two weeks with Cole. His hope is that those two weeks will erase or mitigate whatever feelings she has for him. As Ren has agreed to submit control of her life to Lucas, it is his right to give her to Cole. Cole is not stupid and immediately agrees to what Lucas offers. He knows that once Ren is in his possession, he’s never letting her go.

This is a relatively hardcore D/s storyline. Ren is very much a beloved piece of property to both men. While it is her choice, and she willingly allows both of them to dictate to her, it is the men who make decisions for her. It is how she feels safest. She is, by her choice, a slave. While it’s clear in the story that both men have strong feelings for her, and are quite tender with her, she is also placed into situations that stretched my comfort levels beyond what I felt was appropriate.

In the scene where Lucas “gives” Ren to Cole, the three end up in a sexual encounter, and Lucas “marks” Ren by coming all over them while Cole is penetrating her anally. To say that my squick factor was exercised would not be an understatement. On top of that, in several scenes, Cole has other men have sex with Ren. At one point, allowing one to spank her with a wooden oar. This was in no way a turn on for me. It felt like debasement, in a way that made me deeply uncomfortable. I found many of these scenes to be gratuitous, adding nothing to Ren and Cole’s developing love story.

My second problem, and a more significant one at that, was that I never really understood the inclusion of Lucas in the threesome. In the end, the decision is made that Lucas and Cole would find a way to live together with Ren, sharing her. For me, this was never credible. While it was clear that Lucas loved Ren, he never struck me as hero material. As a reader of the series, I’d never heard of him, never encountered him, and had absolutely no investment in him. I didn’t understand why someone whose role in the book was minor became the third part of the threesome. If the author wanted me to become attached to him, she needed to make him more sympathetic, and a more integral part of the story. I never invested in him as a character, and therefore was dissatisfied with his part in the Ren/Cole Happily Ever After.

For me, Sweet Addiction fails because the romance between two of the characters (Lucas and Ren) was not credible, and also for several sexual encounters that did nothing to advance the connection or love story between the main characters and felt gratuitous and debasing. It disappoints me deeply to say that this story really adds nothing to a strong series from Ms. Banks. I walked away from the book with a bad taste in my mouth and a strong dissatisfaction that Cole didn’t get the Happily Ever After that he deserved.

Grade: D-

You can read an excerpt of the book here or buy it here.

Guest Review: About That Night by Julie James

Romance Gal’s Review:

About That Night by Julie James
Contemporary romance released by Berkley on April 3, 2012

Though Rylann Pierce tried to fight the sparks she felt for billionaire heir Kyle Rhodes the night they met, their sizzling chemistry was undeniable. But after being stood up on their first date, Rylann never expected to see him again. So when she finds herself face to face with Kyle in a courthouse nine years later, she’s stunned. More troubling to the beautiful Assistant U.S. Attorney is that she’s still wildly attracted to him.
Just released from prison, Kyle Rhodes isn’t thrilled to be the star witness in a high-profile criminal case—but when Rylann comes knocking at his door, he finds she may be the one lawyer he can’t say no to. Still as gorgeous and sharp-tongued as ever, she lays down the law: she doesn’t mix business with pleasure. But Kyle won’t give up on something he wants—and what he wants is the one woman he’s never forgotten. . .

Julie James is at the top of the best contemporary romance authors and she doesn’t disappoint in her newest release. Her books seem to be getting better every year and in her previous book A Lot Like Love we get to meet Kyle who is the hero in About That Night.

Kyle is the son a multi-billionaire, a computer geek who is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and has no trouble attracting the ladies with said good looks and adorable hair. He also happens to be an ex-con who has just been released from prison. Nevertheless, he is still the kind of guy that every woman wishes for! I mean, despite the fact that he is wealthy, being hot, and a genius, he doesn’t put on airs. To the contrary he has a heart of gold. Kyle is the kind of guy who is not afraid to admit when he is wrong and suffer the consequences of his mistakes. All these make him such a captivating character that you cannot help but fall in love with him right from the beginning.

Rylann is beautiful, smart, and always has a plan to follow –whether it’s a 6 month or 5 year one. She is a girl who knows where she wants to be 10 years from now and won’t let any kind of distraction deter her. Rylann is a tough lawyer (a prosecutor in fact), sassy, and sarcastic as can be. At the beginning of the book we see that she knows where she is going. For example, while in college she drops a hot guy who gives her a great kiss because he stood her up for their date.

The thing that I love most about the book is the smart and witty characters! The dialogue between the characters alone makes one excited to keep on reading. I am so glad that Ms. James is still writing books with such strong minded characters that do not bore you with their dialogue. Instead you become avidly engaged in their conversations. The friends and family of the main characters also help add unforgettable moments throughout the course of the book.

About That Night is a very well written book that won’t disappoint Ms. James’ fans. The story brings together two characters that enjoy mentally and verbally sparring with one another. In Ms. James’ books we get to meet a male hero who is very insecure about relationships. The fact that he is sort of vulnerable makes him even more lovable. But don’t confuse that for weakness for you’ll see that he is not.

The reunion between Kyle and Rylann has been a long time coming with them not having seen one another in nine years. However, they do not exactly run into each other’s arms. Instead they try to deny the attraction they feel for each other. Not for long though and the sexual build-up ultimately culminates to very spicy, heated sexual scenes. I think they’re the hottest that Ms. James has written so far! We get to see uninhibited love making that made me wish for more. We also get to enjoy their relationship develop albeit in secret. They both get to learn their innermost feelings about themselves and each other. Despite the obstacles that appear to hinder a long lasting relationship with each other (a prosecutor and an ex-con), they eventually throw caution to the wind and go for what they both want. It’s a story that will make you shed some few tears while experiencing the tough decisions that Kyle had to make but also make you laugh in between.

The only thing that did not impress me about this book is the conflict between Kyle and Rylann before the book ends seemed farfetched. I don’t know if it’s just me but the misunderstanding that separates them for a while doesn’t seem believable. The whole scenario seems to be thrown in there for the sake of the expected norm of having a conflict almost at the conclusion of the story. Despite that this book was great!

This book is a must read for everyone who loves romance novels with the good old happy ending and I would highly recommend it. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in James’ FBI/US Attorney series.

Grade A-

You can read an excerpt of the book here, or buy it here.