Tag Archives: Erotic Romance

TBR Challenge Review: Evening Storm by Anne Calhoun

Evening Storm by Anne Calhoun
Contemporary [erotic] romance released by Penguin Intermix on August 18, 2015

Evening StormWhen it comes to the wolves of Wall Street, Ryan Hamilton is the leader of the pack. But his bravado is all bluff. The bank he works for is up to it’s assets in fraud and shady deals. And thanks to pressure from the NYPD and FBI, Ryan is working as both a trader and a whistleblower. His only respite from the tension is when he parades his latest arm candy at a fancy lingerie shop.

Simone Demarchelier owns Irresistible, crafting custom high-end lingerie. So she’s more than happy that Ryan is spending a fortune on his women. But she senses that behind the hotshot facade there is something more. Something tortured and sad. And when he flies her out to the Hamptons in the shadow of a summer thunderstorm in order to fix one of her designs, she instead finds herself stuck in the opulent home with a distraught Ryan.

Is Simone the one person who can mend Ryan’s heart and soul?

​Anne Calhoun wrote one of my favorite erotic romances – Liberating Lacey, so I’m always willing to give one of her books a try. I read the previous book in this series (The List), and I liked Evening Storm [even] more. There’s something about it that keeps me from loving it, but I did find the book very sexy, and an enjoyable read. I can’t quite put my finger on what was “off” for me because the premise while potentially off putting for people, didn’t bother me. There’s a stark and rather grim undertone throughout the novel, which makes everything unique. The back cover copy is itself unique because it describes something that happens near the end of the story.

Simone Demarchelier is a heroine who is comfortable in her own skin. She knows who she is, and likes who she is – that’s unique enough amongst romance heroines, much less women in general. Simone designs and sells high end lingerie, which makes her profession inherently sensual, if not sexual. She understand that and goes with it. She’s attracted to Ryan but keeps her distance as she meets him basically as a client first. And then because of who he is – he’s a player, and Simone is too smart to be taken in by that, or involved with someone like that. I liked that Simone was willing to stand in place and do what she liked without changing for Ryan. Especially because they only had a tentative friendship. She values and respects herself, and is the steady presence in Evening Storm.

Ryan Hamilton is a really interesting character. He’s a romance hero – but he’s not very heroic in a way. While he’s pictured as your stereotypical high flying asshole investment banker, his despair negates the behavior. It’s hard to explain without reading it. Ryan himself says that he hit rock bottom when it comes to humanity, and almost surprised himself by doing the right thing. And in this case, doing the right thing is more than even a good person might do. It’s a difficult journey for Ryan throughout, and Ms. Calhoun does an excellent job of conveying how difficult and precarious the situation is. Then there’s also the fact that he yearns for Simone, but is essentially romancing other high profile women. He and the actress(es) are using each other, but it’s still unusual.

It’s clear from the start is that Ryan and Simone are going to end up together. What adds another level to Evening Storm is that they aren’t together, and that as I stated, Ryan is “dating” other women through most of the book. In fact, he uses stories of his exploits to tempt and seduce Simone. He’s ridiculously extravagant and romantic in his gestures to Simone. Almost obscenely so, but it fits. He’s a splashy guy who gets what he wants, and money is no object for him. He’s also working toward a goal that will basically destroy his life. Somehow Ms. Calhoun takes all this, and crafts a romance from the mess.

I found Evening Storm to be a compelling read, and I look forward to Anne Calhoun’s next book. I can definitely see myself re-reading this book in the future.

Grade: B–
You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

Review: Opening Up by Lauren Dane

Deb’s Review of Opening Up (Ink and Chrome Book 1) by Lauren Dane
Contemporary erotic romance released by Forever on June 16, 2015

Opening Up

The men of the Twisted Steel custom hot rod and motorcycle shop are great with their hands…and they’re not afraid to get dirty.
PJ is exactly the kind of woman Twisted Steel owner Asa Barrons doesn’t need. The last thing he wants to do is mix business with pleasure, and PJ has some of the best custom detailing he’s ever seen. But the chemistry between them won’t be denied, and soon he’s introducing her to a whole new world in the bedroom, pushing her far beyond anything she’s ever experienced. PJ finds she can’t get enough, but how far is too far before he consumes her completely?

Lauren Dane owes me a new Nook. Fine, I’ll take a Kindle but it had better be fire-proof because it’s all her fault my Nook began overheating in Chapter ONE. By Chapter Three, I was using oven mitts and I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but the darn thing eventually melted in my lap.

Alright, alright, I’m exaggerating about the Nook. But I’m not exaggerating about the incredible chemistry that ignites when Penelope Jean (PJ) Coleman and Asa Barrons collide in this first book of Lauren Dane’s new Ink & Chrome series, that centers around Twisted Steel, a custom build bike and hot rod shop owned by Asa and his buddy, Duke. I’m not a gearhead but I do appreciate great art and the artists who create it. The men at Twisted Steel are definitely artists and Dane successfully conveys the love, enthusiasm, and pride these guys have for their work which is a big turn on, indeed. PJ’s character intrigued me, she is a woman working her way into the macho world of custom car painting. That takes talent and spunk, both of which PJ has boatloads of. And maybe I was a tad bit interested in Asa as well. *smirk*

If I was given the chance to choose a new identity, it would hands down be Penelope Jean. She is passionate as hell about life and knows what she wants. She sports piercings, tattoos, and you never know what color her hair may be on any given day; but she owns it and makes it beautiful. A true artist, PJ is able to look at a car, talk to the owner, and know just how to paint and detail it to perfection. She has given her all to Coleman Enterprises, the family business, and tried to remain loyal. But when her ideas to expand the business are repeatedly shot down by her father, PJ walks away. And straight into Asa’s life. She’s admired Twisted Steel’s work and is set on convincing Asa he needs her not only in his business, but in his life as well. She knows he’s older and could most likely eat her alive but she’s willing to take her chances. She’s been fantasizing about this beautiful hunk of man ever since they locked eyes and touched hands at a recent industry party. PJ does in fact hold her own against Asa without being a whiny snit. I loved that she called him on his shit but never held a grudge. Their chemistry permeated the pages, and the looks they give each other… Whew! Almost as erotic as the kinky sex Asa introduces PJ to. For being a mere 25 years old, PJ has an incredibly mature outlook on relationships, which I found refreshing as well as a relief. She may have been emotional at times over her father’s undisguised disappointment in her; however, she held her head up and continued on.

Asa Barrons is the perfect compliment to PJ. He’s tall, tattooed, and pierced. His cut body and tough-as-nails attitude is irresistible. I adored Asa’s fierce love and loyalty to his mom, sisters, his friends and his former military buddies. His early childhood was terrifying, but rather than turn him hard and bitter, the experience humbled him. He has scruples. As a matter of fact, his intense attraction to PJ made him uncomfortable because he felt she was too young. But after being coerced to participate in a photo shoot at Twisted Steel where he is paired up with a very sexy PJ, his resolve begins to shatter. (Yes, people, this was the first Oh, My! Nook melting scene) She evoked raw feelings of lust and desire he was ultimately unable to deny. When they get together to talk business, Asa is even more smitten by her business savvy and maturity. At this point, he’s a goner. As if all this wasn’t enough, Asa actually admits when he’s wrong and makes endearing efforts to right things when he’s screwed up with PJ. *swoon*

In addition to PJ and Asa, the secondary characters are so well written that I found myself excited to know more about them as well. They are all family in every sense of the word, related or not. I love this dynamic. Quick, witty, and very clever dialogue had me laughing out loud. Ms. Dane knows her characters inside out and stays true to them throughout the story. All of this combines into a very fun, hot-as-hell, page turner that I couldn’t put down.
And guess what? Duke’s book is next up in August!

Grade: A-

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

TBR Challenge Review: Holding My Breath by A. M. Hartnett

Holding My Breath by A.M. Harnett
Contemporary erotic romance released by HarperCollins Mischief on August 28, 2014

Holding My BreathIt’s a skill not every man possesses, and it can’t be taught. That’s why I’m good at what I do.

For half his life Quinn has been making his living as a professional Casanova. Challenged by Molly to take his business elsewhere, he strikes a bargain with her: give him until New Year’s Eve and she’ll never see him again, and in the meantime he’ll make it worth her while.

As their arrangement becomes a passionate affair, there’s no denying that Molly’s been waiting for him to come into her life for a very long time. She never imagined that a man like Quinn would be the one.

​This book was one of those serendipitous reads that delight a reader. I have a number of other books I’d been meaning to review … but Holding My Breath is just the most standout book I’ve read lately. I’m not even sure how I found it – perhaps seeing it in my library’s digital collection? And some late night I clicked and read it pretty much in one go. I’ve already started reading another book by A.M. Hartnett. (Actually, book one. I accidentally read them out of order, but for me personally, I think it worked out better that way.) Also a draw was Ms. Hartnett’s last name – I’ve got major positive association because of Hayden-Harnett (a delicious Brooklyn based Handbags & Accessories company).

I’m not even following usual ALBTALBS format because this book is so unique. There isn’t much to say but there’s everything to say. So. Onward.

Molly is your regular broken person. I liked that she’s so very normal. She’s thirty, going through a divorce, and dealing with significant emotional baggage. Molly also falls quickly and deeply into a relationship with Quinn, and I liked that as well.

This book is hot. I mean, you expect that, what with Quinn being a male prostitute. (He doesn’t like the word gigolo.) Ms. Hartnett’s writing is really engaging, and a book that you might think is really stark and more like erotica works as a romance. Really well. There are tender moments between Molly and Quinn and it’s clear there’s more than sex between them. Although there is a lot of sex. In fact, so much that even my erotic romance loving self was all “ok tell me what happens — enough with the fucking!”

Holding My Breath also packs an emotional punch. At a moment you aren’t expecting it you get a fist to the gut and it just floors you as a reader. For me, that’s what took the book to the next level – when Quinn “comes clean” to Molly about his plans. I don’t want to spoil it, because I hope you’ll read the book.

There’s the juxtaposition of the characters being so very normal… but not. Also the ~unusual aspect of Quinn being the more romantic one in the relationship. While it takes them a while to define it, it’s clear Molly and Quinn are in it for the long haul. And that Quinn pushes for more. He gets his way a lot because frankly, he’s a sex bomb. So for Molly, it’s win-win. I liked that Molly is a self actualized sexual woman. There’s none of this slut shaming going on, which is nice. Molly is a grown ass woman who is going to have sex if she wants to, and have a damn good time while doing it. And why not do it with the best?

In a way Holding My Breath is a grand sexual romp with two broken people that find their new selves in each other. The sex is a major benefit, but it’s a side one. Quinn and Molly are able to be genuine with each other because “their worst” is laid out from the start. Quinn is a prostitute Molly is supposed to shoo away from her hotel, but instead she indulges one night with him. And then more. They click sexually first, but quickly emotionally as well. Kudos also to Ms. Harnett for the characters. Quinn is thirty-six, and Molly thirty. Both are established in their lives and mature enough to know what they want, and don’t want.

Quinn has a dry sense of humor, and is so matter of fact about his profession. He has his scars too – so it’s not all hunky dory. Basically Holding My Breath brings it all together for me. Great characters and characterization, really engaging prose, humor, substance, and more emotional depth than you expected. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes erotic romances.

Grade: B+

You can buy a copy here.

TBR Challenge: The Plus One Chronicles by Jennifer Lyon

The Plus One ChroniclesSince this is the first challenge, I went all out, and read three short stories! They were all combined though, and really should be read all together. I read (as you can see) The Plus One Chronicles by Jennifer Lyon. (The Proposition, The Possession, and The Obsession.)

​I remember reading Part I: The Proposition around the time it came out. I also remember being surprised that it was a series series … because a) I tend to avoid them b) it was still relatively new for romances to not have closure at the end of the “book.” So, I knew I didn’t want to read on until it was finished and I could read the series in one go. I like Jennifer Lyon’s writing, and have since she wrote as Jennifer Apodaca. Remember those Brava anthologies? Good stuff. I know the theme for this month was “a short,” but I’d also been wanting a well written sexy story. I re-read The Proposition then immediately glommed on to The Possession, and immediately The Obsession​​.

The PropositionI’m not going to write a formal review because … well I don’t want to. But I do want to talk about the stor[ies]. Here’s the book blurb.

Savagely sexy billionaire Sloane Michaels ruthlessly controls his life and everything in it. Even his sex partners are carefully negotiated plus-one arrangements, including his latest, the fiery bakery owner, Kat Thayne. But Sloane’s control is challenged when his mentor becomes seriously ill, and his need for Kat, his need to possess her at all costs, rivals only his single-minded goal of vengeance for the murder of his sister.

After surviving an attack six years ago, Kat Thayne escaped her fears in the protective world of her beloved bakery. Then Sloane Michaels storms into her life, making her feel beautiful, strong and sexy. Yet as Kat pushes her boundaries and uncovers a dangerous secret in her past, Sloane’s controlling side emerges. Worried that Sloane will possess her mind, body and soul, Kat fights to keep her hard won independence. But just as Sloane demands her complete surrender, she discovers he has a dark side that could destroy them both.

The PossessionKat Thayne is a great character. I love how real she is – she’s damaged, but not broken, flawed, insecure, yet steady and certain. She’s basically the best we can all hope to be. I’d really love to be her friend, and to have a friend like that. Sloane Michaels is … as close to perfect as a guy (and hero) can get. He’s a giant teddy bear. And I mean giant. I liked how Ms. Lyons made the MMA aspect relevant, but not pedantic. The story is hot, but it’s also all about the relationship, which I find great. There was a part either in the second or third story where I got a little eye-roll-y, but the third story also made me cry. There’s this section that just … tears you up emotionally.

I don’t want to write huge spoilers, but I think Sloane’s driving force is habit, and his horrible mother. She’s what leads to the resulting conflict between Kat and Sloane, but they work it out. Usually I think the heroine is too soft for giving the hero another chance, or pursuing the relationship, but here it really worked, and I think was the best possible way for the story to be written.

Sloane’s light bulb moment is also a tiny bit deus ex machina, but I’m ok with it nonetheless. I know I sound incredibly vague, but I want you to read this trilogy! And then come back and talk to me about it!

I mean, chemist turned baker heroine, and MMA fighter turned billionaire mogul hero. They’re both damaged in different ways, yet the best they can be. Even the uber tragic past works – and usually I’m turned off by the excessively sad back story that doesn’t seem that realistic. (Thanks a lot for that, real life.)

The ObsessionI finished The Obsession at 3:30 AM and was practically screaming. Ms. Lyons is evil for ending Part II thus, and I was so glad I already had The Obsession on hand, so I could keep reading until I felt I reached an ok (and sufficiently happy) stopping point.

I also appreciate how Ms. Lyons gives us sufficient closure, and ends on a high note. I knew that things were good, that Kat and Sloane were going to work, and have their happy ever after, and that life would continue to happen, but they’d be ok. And isn’t that all we can ask for anyway?

So yay TBR challenge for pushing me to find and finish this series. I know I’ll be re-reading it, and looking for more of Ms. Lyon’s books. In fact, I found myself wishing for Marshall’s story, despite him already being engaged. In a way though, I hope that’s the end – always good to leave people wanting more, right? And I expect more wonderful, different stories from Jennifer Lyons.

(Incidentally, The Proposition is free right now for kindle/the kindle app, so go and get it right now!) Have you read these stories? Or anything by Jennifer Lyons/Apodaca? Any thoughts? 🙂

Special Guest Author & A Giveaway: Shannon McKenna!!!

You guys! I cannot believe it’s already December! I can’t think about it. It’s also 2:23 AM and I kinda feel like I want to die but I have to get this done because it’s Shannon McKenna!!! Meltdown  and Out of Control are like two of my most favorite romances ever. If you’ve never read them, you must. Must. But anyway, I got Shannon to visit with us today, and she’s our special author of the month, and can you believe it – the last one of 2013!! Eep! But way to end on a high note, right? 😉 I had the chance to meet Shannon a few years ago and she is delightful.

Ms. McKenna opted for an “Author Interview” so … here we go! (I hope you enjoy – one of them made me cackle snort. :X)

Standing in the ShadowsHi, Lime! Thanks so much for inviting me to be on your delightful blog! I’m so pleased to be here! And hello to all of you reading!

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever done for research? what’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned while doing research? In general, or for this book?‬
Well, gee. I have been playing around with this mind control trope for several books now, because it fascinates me, and it’s a metaphor for the way I fear we are already being controlled, in subtle and not so subtle ways, by the media, by our addiction to our devices and our social media, etc. I have been unnerved by the ways we are expanding our mental function with devices, and I doubt it will stop there. My fantasies about neuroscience allowing people ever deeper into each other’s heads, challenging the very basic premise of what it is to be a human being, are becoming more possible every day. A couple months ago, I found this article.

I was so horrified! We as humans are just not ready to go where this research will inevitably take us (if it hasn’t already gone there, long ago!) No matter how many innocent applications this research might have, I am sure that greedy, opportunistic people are rubbing their hands together and thinking “ka-ching.” I call myself a “lazy conspiracy theorist,” which is to say, plenty paranoid, but I don’t really have the time to do the research to be a proper conspiracy theorist, having book deadlines and small children. So mostly, I’m left with just the sense of creeping menace, but no hard facts to back it up. So what do I do? I make up crazy stories about my worst nightmares, and then create heroes and heroines to defeat them utterly and rescue us all. Works for me.

Out of ControlHostile alien invasion, or zombie apocalypse? Which one do you think is more likely to happen? Which one is scarier?
Alien invasion, no contest! I do not stay awake nights worrying about either one, because I believe we are doing an admirable job of destroying our world and ourselves without any help at all from zombies or aliens, but I think that it is almost a certainty that there are other beings out there. The only reason I don’t say “an absolute certainty” is because I have not seen them with my own eyes. But the universe is so huge. It makes no sense, that we would be the only ones—but they must be so different from us, their agenda so unfathomable and unknowable. And they would probably also have the same personality ranges, from saintly good to twisted evil that we have here on Earth—why wouldn’t they? I believe there is always roughly the same percentages of people in any given place who are either doing their best to be kind and decent, or else just looking out for number one. With a handful on the far ends of the spectrum, a few noble righteous heroes, a sprinkling of hideous monsters. Can you tell I love sci fi? Heh.

A twisted fairy offers you perfect health. You’ll never be sick or get a migraine again. The catch is you’ll break a bone every three years until your 70th birthday. Nothing crippling, but still a break. (Anything from a femur to your pinky toe.) Do you take the offer?
Hell, no! I’ll take my chances with colds and flu and whatever else happens! And what about after I’m seventy? I hope to live to be a hundred! That’s a long time that I wouldn’t be covered! A whole generation! (I had a great aunt that lived to be 104. My great grandmother died at the age of ninety-four after having eighteen children. Who knows if I inherited their tough Ukrainian sinews or not? Only time will tell.

All About MenWhat five dead authors would you invite to a dinner party if you could?
Charlotte Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Dorothy Parker, Louisa May Alcott and Sappho. Big hen party. Wow, what a mix.

Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions? Either for before you begin a book, while you’re writing it, or around the time the book is released?
Not a lot of them, but I am very nervous about talking about a book to anyone before I have at least finished a first draft, as if the energy of another person’s attention could derail that delicate point of contact between my subconscious mind and the blank page. It’s so important to be able to write bad, stupid horrible shit without being judged for it—the minute someone looks at the writing, they start to have opinions that need to be fended off. It’s a mysterious thing.

Assume reincarnation. You have the power to bring Hitler back as any animal/creature you want for his next ten lives. What do you pick? (Or would you switch it up? And if so, what?)
Wow, that’s tough! Ten lives? That would hardly be enough to work out the karma that guy took onto himself! But it’s a complicated question, because he was totally insane. My first thought is that he should definitely be reborn into lives in which he has to experience just what he dished out, but that is problematic, since it requires envisioning more concentrated cruelty. My mind boggles at the task. Maybe I’d just take him back to animal form. Let him be an ox, pulling a heavy plow for a hundred lives or so, and then a sheep chewing on the grass a few hundred more. Just let him take a big, loooonnnggg time out, and chill the hell out before he tries again with human form.

Tasting FearWhat is one question you always wish as an author people would ask but nobody ever does?
I don’t believe in having expectations, insofar as it is humanly possible. (This is my ideal, zen-calm self! I realized, as soon as I wrote that, that I have all kinds of expectations; about toilet seats being put down, and undies getting into the laundry, and homework getting done on time, and violins getting practiced, and people obeying traffic signals, but hey. I try) Longing for validation from people is just setting myself up for suffering and pissiness, and dissatisfaction in general. I’m just happy that people read my books. They don’t need to have any curiosity about me or my process at all, as long as they enjoy the end result!

If you were a serial killer, who would be your target? And what would be your modus operandi? [What would be your “calling card,” and what memento from each victim would you take?] (Is your target = old men, young men, school children, college aged women, etc.)
Um. Blinking, stupidly. I just can’t go there! I tried to watch Dexter, because I think that actor is brillaint, but I just couldn’t bond with a guy that would do that. And I do plenty of blood and guts in my stories, too! This is a tough one, because I have really internalized the concept that curses come home to roost tenfold, so you better watch out what you put out there into the universe. I’m such a wuss! I don’t want to take any chances!

Another issue is, if I create a character, I have to be able to love him or her, probably because s/he is just another facet of myself. I can’t imagine an instance in which I could love a serial killer. My imagination just won’t stretch that far! It thwacks right back in my face, like a rubber band! (ouch!)

Baddest Bad BoysTell us two truths and a lie. (The catch is you’ll have to tell us what the truth is eventually in the comments. :D)
Let’s see . . . My favorite kid’s book is Anne of Green Gables. I love sexy high-heeled shoes. And I grew up in a in a hippie enclave, in a fragrant cloud of smoke.

Who/what is your favorite cartoon character of all time? Why?
Letterman, from The Electric Company! Who’s faster than a rolling O, more powerful than silent E, and able to leap capital T in a single bound? God, I loved that show when I was little. It taught me to read early, which influenced my destiny!

You have to listen to only one genre of music for the rest of your life. What do you pick?
Classic sixties and seventies rock. I just love the stuff. Gimme that old time rock and roll—that kinda music just soothes the soul!

You have the opportunity to be part of any TV show for one episode. (One that is on or off the air.) Which one do you pick, and what is your role?
I want to be in Prison Break . . . I want to be rescued by dreamboat Michael, mmmmm, and then break him out of prison with my intrepid brilliance, and go live with him on a desert island forever. Hell with Sarah. She was such a sad sack, always moping around. Kick her to the curb. Recast it, with me, me, me! Ahem. (cough)

What’s the most unique/strange silly skill your possess?
I can make a seriously awesome pancake man with chocolate chip eyes for my kids. Or a pancake teddy bear, too, when put to it. I have even been known to make pancake aliens, to return to the alien theme. I guess I have an affinity for aliens.

One Wrong MoveWhat’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you at school? What about at a conference?
I haven’t been to enough conferences to have embarrassments to recount, sadly, but how about the time I was caught reading a very erotic spoof of the Lord Of The Rings that I’d picked up from home, on my playground during recess, in the second grade. I believe the playground monitor caught me reading a very spicy interlude between Dildo Baggins and the seductive Queen of the Elves. They called my parents. Very bad scene. It was pretty embarrassing for my mother, but I think I weathered it all right. And just look how I turned out in the end! (cackling)

Which fairy tale would you most like to be in? least? Why? Which character would you want to be?
I’m really fascinated these days by the tale of the Frog Prince. I recently read this essay about zen meditation that talked about the trope of “finding the golden ball,” which requires the collaboration of some unattractive or scary or icky creature from the watery depths, like the frog, or the scary witch, or whatever; it depends on the culture, and the version of the tale. The essay asserts that around the age of eight or so, we lose that “golden ball” which represents the wonder and innocence of our childhood, and then we spend the rest of our adulthood trying to recuperate the mature version of that marvel and wonder. But in order to do so, we must make peace with the deep, scary, wild, unattractive aspects of ourselves which come from the barren wilderness or the cold watery depths. We have to kiss the frog, so to speak. So I’m just here to state, to everyone concerned, that I’m fully ready to kiss any and all frogs who come along. I want that golden ball. I really, really want it. It’s why I’m a writer. It’s why I love this crazy stuff so much. Not only do I want my own golden ball—I want my stories to help everyone else find their golden balls, too. Golden balls for everyone!

Thanks for the wacky and wonderful questions, Lime! I wish everyone many wonderful books and magical golden balls charged with wonder and mystery (Christmas balls, too!) for the holiday season to come!

Thanks so much for being such a good sport, Shannon! Now, I want to know – have any of you read Shannon McKenna’s books before? Do you like romantic suspense? And books with a lot of heat? (Sexytimes of omg yes.)

Fatal StrikeLara Kirk lives in a shadowy world where reality and fantasy are one. Her captors have poisoned her body with concoctions that enhance psychic abilities – and they seem to be working. To escape, Lara has formed a deep attachment with a man whose virile, sensual presence in her mind is her only comfort. She’s not even sure if he’s real – until the six-foot-five-inch powerhouse bursts in to rescue her…Once freed, Lara has no choice but to trust Miles with her life as they run from enemies too twisted to imagine. But they’re also fighting a dangerous attraction that could kill – or save – them both. Either way, it’s going to be a hell of a ride…

And pssst One Wrong Move is on sale right now for just $1.99! Amazon tells me that’s 75% off! Come on – I saw you ogling that cover. Admit it. 😛

You know the drill – ask Shannon any question you like. Be it about her books, writing, or you know, try to top one of the crazy ones I asked her. 😉 I like being entertained. And someone will win a copy of Fatal Strike! Yay! And so you know what you might be getting…

Teaser Tuesday Exclusive Excerpt: Because We Belong by Beth Kery

Hello my darlings! I apologize for the late post. I’ve had this – but … well, you know how it’s been. Everyone has been staying on level 15+ evil lately. I was still doing laundry at 2 AM and thought “complete the post, or triage my health?” And decided to go with the latter. I figured since you’re all wonderful you’d be ok with that.

I can’t believe we’re so far into November – the second Tuesday in fact, so it’s time for an exclusive excerpt. Today we have the lovely and talented Beth Kery sharing with us. Because We Belong is a book I’ve read, and can wholeheartedly recommend. In fact, it’s one of my favorites of 2013. You have to read this series (I think it helps) – although I guess you could read this one to stand alone … but why would you?!

Erm – and fair warning, this is definitely an erotic romance. So if that’s not your thing … come back later >.>

Beause We BelongIn Because We Belong Ian and Francesca return to reignite the exquisite passions that drew them together, and to finally face the intimate secrets that threatened to separate them forever. The secrets of an inescapable past that was one man’s darkest mystery—a darkness that seduced one woman and forever held her spellbound with forbidden desire. For both of them, the next step is total abandon.

Francesca spun around when she heard Ian shut the door with a thud. Blood roared in her ears when she heard the snick of the lock.

“What are you doing?” she asked when he came toward her.

“You asked me this morning if I’d been with another since we’d been apart and I told you no. Can you say the same to me?” he demanded coldly.

“I don’t owe you any explanations for my behavior for the last six months, Ian,” she grated out, infuriated by his manner, but inexplicably excited as well.

“Are you sleeping with my cousin?” he shot out, stepping closer.

She backed up until her bottom ran into the edge of the washer.

“No. But even if I was, it wouldn’t be any of your business.”

“Do you want to fuck him?” he asked crudely. “Because he obviously wants it. Rumor has it he’s a good lover. Do you figure he’d do the trick for you?”

She slapped his cheek. Hard. She’d never hit anybody before. It felt fantastic . . . and yet she’d never hated her loss of control more.

Her flash of aggression barely seemed to penetrate Ian’s consciousness.

He opened his hand along her jaw and tilted up her face. “Francesca?” His voice was quieter this time, but it was still an order for her to respond. He pressed nearer still, until their fronts were plastered together, her breasts heaving against his jacket-​covered ribs, the fullness behind his fly becoming increasingly more obvious against her belly. It felt so good, so elementally right, that for a moment she couldn’t focus on what he was asking her.

“Answer me.”

“No I don’t want to fuck Gerard, damn it,” she spat, so angry that it was true, furious that she couldn’t find some way to sever this throbbing cord of connection she felt to Ian. His gaze ran over her face hungrily. She found herself straining toward him, her teeth bared.

Her feelings were so confused in that volatile moment, she honestly couldn’t say if she wanted to kiss him or bite at him like an animal and draw blood. His eyelids narrowed. He frightened her a little bit at that moment. She wasn’t the only one about to loose control.

“Go on,” he said.

She blinked at his low taunt and felt his erection swell against her. Her heartbeat roared in her ears.

“Take a bite, Francesca.”

He barely got out her name before she put her hand on the back of his head and pushed him to her, her mouth molding his roughly, her teeth scraping his lower lip as she sucked the captive flesh, her tongue licking and plunging and seeking. It was an angry consumption more than a kiss, and one he didn’t allow to be one-​sided for long. Within seconds he leaned down over her, forcing her back to arch, the barrier of their clothing feeling both insubstantial against their mingling heat and pressing bodies, and also unbearably intrusive.

God, she needed to feel his naked body against hers, needed to be filled by him . . . absolutely required him to prove he was there with her in that moment in the most primal way possible.

So what’d you think?!?! Good, yes? 😀 Go get a copy!!! I’ll wait. [Then we can discuss it. :D] I actually did a First Look on it over at H&H too! If you didn’t get enough, here’s an additional excerpt you can read on Beth’s site.

TBR Challenge Review: Afterburn by Sylvia Day

Afterburn by Sylvia Day
Contemporary erotic romance novella released by Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin on August 15, 2013

The realization that Jax still affected me so strongly was a jagged pill to swallow. He’d only been part of my life for five short weeks two years ago. But now he was back. Walking into a deal I’d worked hard to close. And God, he was magnificent. His eyes were a brown so dark they were nearly black. Thickly lashed, they were relentless in their intensity. Had I really thought they were soft and warm? There was nothing soft about Jackson Rutledge. He was a hard and jaded man, cut from a ruthless cloth.

In that moment I understood how badly I wanted to unravel the mystery of Jax. Bad enough that I didn’t mind how much it was going to cost me…

I know – we’re all shocked I’m writing a review. If my life stops being a death factory, we can expect more. (And what a contradictory phrase right?) That’s actually kind of how I feel about Afterburn. Meaning, I don’t know what I feel about it precisely. I think I liked it overall, but I can’t say that with confidence, and I’ve been waffling about the grade since I read it.

Gianna Rossi is a kickass heroine. She’s twenty-five, which I appreciate. (I’m so not into NA.) But also, because it makes sense for someone who has been working to put herself through school. Beyond that, she knows what she wants, and goes for it. Even if she isn’t fearless internally, she puts that face forward, which is what I think all of us would like to do. I love that Ms. Day gave her a large, and very supportive family. She’s determined and I really liked her… until midway through then I didn’t really get her. You’ll see why.

Jackson Rutledge is a really interesting hero. In fact, I don’t know (yet) that he really is the hero. By which I mean, I question if he is “heroic” or “proper hero material.” He’s in love with Gia, but he broke up with her by dropping off the face of the earth without a word to her. Also, he’s a self acknowledged asshole. Which, kudos for being self aware. That isn’t something many romance heroes are, but I haven’t seen him as a good guy. He appears to be protecting Gianna by making decisions for her, so in a way he’s an alphahole hero. He’s twenty-nine, and of course in the vein of erotic romances these days, wildly successful. In this case, I find it more believable because it’s family money. And politics. That’s where nepotism breeds.

As you see, I’m conflicted about this book. I like the writing, and I got into it, even though it’s first person. I really think Sylvia Day does a great job with this tense, despite my generally avoiding it. (I really liked her historicals, which is why I read and read her contemporaries.) My issue here is, I had thought this was an awesome story, and basically the Crossfire books made good… but then something changed, and I felt that maybe Gia and Jax were really meant to be apart, despite having loved (or even loving) each other. There’s something not entirely healthy about the relationship that made me uncomfortable.

I think I’m not convinced as to why Gia wants to get back together with Jax. She’s decided he’s bad for her and she’s moving on, and she’ll have some revenge/goodbye sex… but then she decides she wants a relationship. I felt I missed a step there. For Jax, Gia is the one who got away, and his family machinations have put her in his path. I think the fact that both don’t think this relationship can last is what bothers me. I don’t see that as a romance.

I believe Aftershock will conclude this story arc (and I really hope so). I expect I’ll re-read Afterburn at that point. I re-read when Gia and Jax meet again and hook up in Afterburn for this review, but I think that’s enough for me until I know there will be closure.

While those are my issues, and they seem numerous, I will say I really enjoy Sylvia Day’s writing style, and her characters. They’re so dynamic, and the story is so engaging. I wish more authors wrote like this, and wrote characters like this. It’s the story – as in the content that rubs me the wrong way, specifically the romantic relationships. The interpersonal ones between characters is great. I love that the hero and heroine have friends and family. (Although her heroes are generally loners.) It’s the question of whether or not the hero and heroine are good together and should be together that make the questions start swirling in my head.

For this novella, if you like Sylvia Day, I recommend you read it. In fact, I expect many of you already have. However, if you like contemporary erotic romances generally… I’d probably suggest waiting if you can until the second (and final?) part is out. I do look forward to that eagerly.

Grade: C

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