Tag Archives: Guest Review

Guest Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Jo’s review of The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
Historical romance released by Avon on August 22, 2017

The Duchess DealWhen girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:

  • – They will be husband and wife by night only.
  • – No lights, no kissing.
  • – No questions about his battle scars.

– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:

  • – They will have dinner together every evening.
  • – With conversation.
  • – And unlimited teasing.

– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

When Lime offered me the chance to get my greedy little hands on The Duchess Deal early, I was all over it (my eyes might have even misted over). So first and foremost, thank you Lime 😀

We have two characters that couldn’t be more wrong for each other turning out to be exactly what each needs in a partner. Ash is scarred, jaded, self absorbed, and frankly a bit depressed; he knows his duty and is ready to fulfill it. Emma is used to hard work and grasping for every opportunity that comes her way while never losing her positive outlook and caring nature. They fit beautifully. Continue reading

Guest Review: Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Paige’s review of Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss
Historical romance released by Avon in 1977, republished in 2016 as part of their Diamond Anniversary

ShannaFrom New York Times bestselling author Kathleen E. Woodiwiss comes one of her most iconic and beloved romances of all time…

A pact is sealed in secret behind the foreboding walls of Newgate Prison. In return for one night of unparalleled pleasure, a dashing condemned criminal consents to wed a beautiful heiress, thereby rescuing her from an impending and abhorred arranged union.

But in the fading echoes of hollow wedding vows, a solemn promise is broken, as a sensuous free spirit takes flight to a lush Caribbean paradise, abandoning the stranger she married to face the gallows unfulfilled.

Ruark Beauchamp’s destiny is now eternally intertwined with that of the tempestuous, intoxicating Shanna. He will be free . . . and he will find her. For no iron ever forged can imprison his resolute passion. And no hangman’s noose will keep Ruark from the bride— and ecstasy—that he craves.

Originally published in 1977, Shanna tells the tale of a spoiled little rich girl and the convicted criminal turned bondsman (which is a nicer way of saying “slave who works to pay off their debt and eventually can go free but are treated like trash by anyone with a title”) whom she marries in order to gain a name. Why does she do this? To get her father off her back, because she’s so spoiled that every man she meets, she finds fault with. She even rejects one because his shirt is fraying a bit at the edges.

When I told one of my friends that I was getting ready to read a Woodiwiss novel, she got super excited and told me that Ruark (how do you pronounce that, anyway?) was her very first book boyfriend and that I was just going to love him.

I didn’t. At all. Continue reading

Guest Review: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean

Liza’s review of The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean
Historical romance released by Avon on December 29, 2015

The Rogue Not TakenLady Sophie’s Society Splash

When Sophie, the least interesting of the Talbot sisters, lands her philandering brother-in-law backside-first in a goldfish pond in front of all society, she becomes the target of very public aristocratic scorn. Her only choice is to flee London, vowing to start a new life far from the aristocracy. Unfortunately, the carriage in which she stows away isn’t saving her from ruin . . . it’s filled with it.

Rogue’s Reign of Ravishment!

Kingscote, “King,” the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, resulting in a reputation far worse than the truth, a general sense that he’s more pretty face than proper gentleman, and an irate summons home to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the journey becomes anything but boring.

War? Or More?

He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, making opposites altogether too attractive . . .

I’ve enjoyed Sarah MacLean’s books in the past so I was excited to get a new book from her. I wanted to learn more about Sophie Talbot and see if she could find her happiness. I absolutely love reading about a rogue in historical romances, and Kingscote, the Marquess of Eversley fit the bill completely. Continue reading

Guest Review: Coming Back by Lauren Dane

Ki’s Review of Coming Back by Lauren Dane
Contemporary erotic romance released by Hachette on December 8, 2015

Coming BackMick Roberts, the newest partner at Twisted Steel’s custom hotrod and motorcycle shop, looks like a man with everything. But secretly he still craves the connection he lost when his best friend Adam and the love of his life Jessilynn walked out. Then, he wasn’t ready for the pleasure they promised. Now, things have changed.

Rich, powerful, and insatiable, Adam Gulati is used to getting what he wants. And there’s nothing he wants more than Mick and Jessi. He hasn’t seen either in over a year, but the second he sets eyes on them again his memories-and his desires-can’t be denied.

After trying to live without them, Jessi Franklin realized no one else can satisfy her like Adam and Mick. The three of them need one another-in more ways than one. It’s time to stop pretending and submit to the hunger they all share. But once they go down this road, there’s no turning back. As deeply devoted as they are, no one knows what great bliss their forbidden fantasy will find-or the price they may pay . . .

This was my first book by Lauren Dane and I would never have picked this up myself but the blurb hooked me in a way I never would have thought. I still don’t know why it caught my interest because I don’t really like ménage à trois reads, but this just did. Maybe it was the characters or how I wanted to know what’ll happen next, or maybe it’s because I’ve been reading some good ménage à trois lately. Who knows. Continue reading

Guest Review: Trust In Me by Dee Tenorio

James’s review of Trust in Me by Dee Tenorio
Contemporary Romance released by Samhain Publishing July on July 23, 2013​

Trust In MeSometimes falling in love is the easy part…

A Rancho del Cielo Romance

Locke Jackman is single, childless…and he has a bad case of empty nest syndrome. For years, as he fought tooth and nail to keep his brothers and sisters together after his parents died, his entire life was focused on his responsibilities.

Now his siblings have all moved on with their lives, and there’s no one around to distract him from his overpowering attraction to his sister’s best friend. Their mutual desire is stunning…but then again, so are the secrets keeping them apart.

Susie Packard’s nightmarish marriage taught her what happens when she gives in to her weakness for powerful men. Too bad the big, stoic frowner across the street—the one who sets her bells jangling just by breathing—has her in his sights.

Try as she might to keep her emotional distance, Locke is determinedly knocking down all her walls. But as much as she wants to be the woman he needs, she knows better than most—passion may have its rewards, but every secret has its price.

Warning: This book contains a hot, modern-day Viking seducing his way to the heart of his woman, a stubborn lingerie designer with a world of secrets and a very deep bathtub… Enjoy!

Dee Tenorio is one of my personal favorite authors, so I jumped at the chance to review this one. I’m happy I did because this turned out to be my favorite romance of the year. Continue reading

Guest Review: Secret of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip

Ana’s Review of Secret of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip
Historical fiction released by Kensington on November 25, 2014

Secret of a Thousand BeautiesSet against the vibrant and intrigue-laden backdrop of 1930s China, Mingmei Yip’s enthralling novel explores one woman’s defiant pursuit of independence.

Spring Swallow was promised in marriage while still in her mother’s belly. When the groom dies before a wedding can take place, seventeen-year-old Spring Swallow is ordered to become a ghost bride to appease his spirit. Under her in-laws’ protection, she will be little more than a servant, unable to know real love or bear children. Refusing to accept her fate as a “bad-luck woman,” Spring Swallow flees on her wedding day.

In the city of Soochow, Spring Swallow joins a community of renowned embroiderers. The women work for Aunty Peony, whose exquisite stitching once earned her the Emperor’s love. But when Aunty Peony agrees to replicate a famous painting–a lucrative assignment that will take a year to complete–betrayal and jealousy emerges within the group. Spring Swallow becomes entangled in each woman’s story of heartbreak, even while she embarks on a dangerous affair with a young revolutionary. On a journey that leads from the remote hillsides around Soochow to cosmopolitan Peking, Spring Swallow draws on the secret techniques learned from Aunty Peony and her own indomitable strength, determined to forge a life that is truly her own.

Secret of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip is the story of Spring Swallow a young Chinese woman who comes of age in the tumultuous 1930’s in and around Peking. Chinese culture is in flux, Western missionaries are ever more present, revolutionaries are stirring in the mountains and universities but old cultural traditions and social norms are not yet forgotten. I requested this historical novel (it is not a historical romance) because I was intrigued by the setting, and time period. Last year when I struggled to find historical romances to enjoy, I found the most success the farther I moved from England and the Regency. Jeannie Lin’s The Lotus Palace and Jenn Bennett’s Bitter Spirits were two of my favorite books last year. Continue reading

Guest Review: A Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Christina C. Jones

D.L. White’s review of A Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Christina C. Jones
Contemporary romance released by Christina C. Jones on September 8, 2014

A Crazy Little Thing Called LoveSimone is a woman on a mission: Stop being boring, and fall in love.
That’s easier said than done with no prospects on the table… or under the table… or near the table. Her luck changes when fellow neighborhood business owner Roman Taylor walks through the door of her flower shop.
Roman is single, successful, and sexy — everything Simone is looking for to embark on a whirlwind summer romance with the potential to spark an everlasting love.

But things are never as “perfect” as they seem, and Simone — and Roman — have to decide if they’re willing to risk their hearts when things get a little messy in their pursuit of a crazy little thing called love.

From time to time I troll social media to see what good books my favorites are talking about. If you’re a book lover, you always have your ear to the ground for what other people like and are reading… what’s new, what’s coming. I even have an addiction to NetGalley and Edelweiss because if a super awesome book is coming out soon, I want it. NOW. Continue reading

Guest Review: Don’t You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire

*Barbie’s Review

Don’t You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire
Young Adult Fiction released by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on July 10, 2012

When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad’s whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she’s Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father–and she’s the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school.

In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire–if usually absent–father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilarating . . . and illegal.

But on the insde, Ayla is still Annie.

So when she’s offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it?

The choice isn’t as simple as you think.

I don’t read much YA at all, especially nowadays, because they all seem to have the exact same premise. I only picked up this one up because it was by Roxanne St. Claire, who’s been one of my favorite authors in her other genres, and it wanted to give it a shot. Don’t You Wish really surprised me in a great way, because it seems to be different from the current YA books being published. This books has such a fun, innovative story, with a creative, fast-paced, plot and lovable characters. I devoured it like a beloved desert. I’ve loved every page of this book. It’s been one of my favorite reads this year!

Annie Nutter is supposedly your average girl, as she doesn’t get noticed at school and doesn’t get to hang out with the popular crowd at school. She’s just a band dork who gets made fun of. Annie is really nice and fun, but she’s shy and doesn’t show that much of her lovable personality to the world. At the point where she becomes Ayla Monroe on the outside, yet continues to be Annie on the inside, is where the true beauty of the character lies. Because of this – Annie gets this huge initiative and changes Ayla’s life. A life that would seem to perfect for everyone that wasn’t really living it. It’s like Annie gets the spark to light the fire within [Ayla] and starts to proactively make things better.  And Annie finally stands up for herself. I love that about her.

Then, there’s Charlie, a geeky guy, within a picture perfect world who gets bullied for not being rich enough for the Crop Academy. He befriends Annie as Ayla. Of course, the real Ayla would never have befriended him. Charlie is a key character as it’s his genius that eventually helps Annie figure out her final solution. Charlie is a very authentic, multi-layered character. He’s so real to me, I have a physical image that I associate with him. Charlie is brilliant, and he’s not very trusting of other people. He’s more vulnerable than he appears to be, and it’s very hard for the reader not to wish you had a guy like him when you were in high school. Think *insta-crush*. He’s a really great character, and you can’t help but keep rooting for him and Annie to end up together..

I have to admit, even though Annie has a very nice and sweet best friend in real world, it was the character of Ayla’s “Dumb-Blonde-Friend” Bliss that made me laugh out loud. Bliss was my favorite secondary character. She brought a lot of fantastic humor to the book. I would have liked to see what happened to Ayla’s life after Annie left and Ayla’s real soul returned, as Annie changed so many things, from minute details to relationships with friends, classmates and parents. Perhaps this was the only thing that was lacking in the book for me. The “after” scenes.

One of the best things about Don’t You Wish is that it’s not a depressing, angsty book. This is what separates it from the paranormal YA books nowadays – because as it’s about parallel words, the book does have some paranormal elements. This story is a fun, light-hearted book, that is above all, a very pleasurable read. I recommend it to everyone that loves a really unique story, a good laugh and really interesting characters.

Grade: A+ 

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

Guest Review: Barefoot in the Sand by Roxanne St. Claire

As you can see we’ve got another guest review today! It’s Barbie’s first time reviewing and she’s really nervous, so show her some love please! Also, she’s so cute – she wrote her own back cover copy/book blurb because she felt that fit the book better. So that’s why there are “two” of them.)

Barbie’s Review of
Contemporary Romance released by Forever Romance on April 24, 2012

(Barbie’s Book Blurb)
When a hurricane literally sweeps away the life Lacey Armstrong had always known, she has two choices: keep making excuses and holding herself back, or start anew and finally daring and going forward to realizing her dreams. Having lost everything she held dear, except for the single most important thing in her life – her teenage daughter, Ashley – and realizing none of the material things mattered at all, Lacey starts a journey to make a new life for herself and her daughter, to build her dream of having a bed and breakfast.

That’s when Clay Walker, a young, sexy architect comes into her life and sees in her land a great project opportunity to build a beautiful resort on the beach. The chemistry between Lacey and Clay is real and instant, and, in the process of helping Lacey rebuild her life, Clay ends up doing some life-building of his own.

I have to start by confessing I was surprised by how I just I absolutely loved Barefoot in the Sand, even though Roxanne St. Claire ventures from romantic suspense (which is my preferred genre), to contemporary romance. With a new beach setting! Having been a fan of the author for a long time and devoured all her thrilling books, I was a bit afraid this one was going to have a slower tempo and the lack of crimes, chases, and general action was going to put me off, so, I was pleasantly surprised to find that he tempo isn’t slow at all. The characters are well developed and very real and there’s more action involved at building a resort and getting a happily ever than one would think.

Lacey is a single mother of a teenager, and their relationship is what you would expect: full of love, spats, loving words, secrets and eye rolling. All the decisions she’s made in her life, since she’s become a mother, have been about what’s best for Ashley, and, in this book, she goes through a process of self-discovery, as her daughter is growing, figuring out that it’s just about time she thought of herself, too. It makes her very… human. With the loss of her house, she sees the opportunity of finally making her dreams come true, but she needs to get rid of the excuses she’s always made and stop letting fear paralyze her. I think that makes her very relatable, as she tries to balance the reason and emotion and move forward with her life. The best thing about Lacey is just this, that is very, very real.

She doesn’t go through this process alone, though. As soon as they hear Lacey’s in trouble, her very best friends in the world, Jocelyn, Zoe and Tessa, catch the very first plane to Florida to be by her side during the hard time. And, OhMyGosh, how much FUN they are. Again, the biggest thing about them is how real they are to me. They have their own personalities: be it cracking the sex jokes, being private and collected, not liking secrets… that they could be any of us girls out there. At the same time that they’re brilliant, unique and I want them to jump off the book and become my best friends.

I couldn’t help but fall in love Clay at first sight. He’s not just funny, smart and sexy, he’s also caring, he has a sense of justice, the spirit of a fighter that won’t give up. Neither when it comes to building a big resort in the beach of Mimosa Key, nor when it comes to being with the woman he loves. As he helps Lacey overcome her fears of love and intimacy, he realizes he needs to take down his own emotional walls before he can open up for love himself. The romance is well paced – it doesn’t happen too slow nor too fast – the conflict is well timed with the development of the book and, overall, I think every aspect of it was very well done. Clay grows a lot during the book, he starts out boyish, and grows into a fine man. I think he and Lacey grow together.

Honestly, I don’t have a single thing bad thing to say about the book. Maybe, I wish there were more scenes with the girls – Jocelyn, Zoe and Tessa – I think they’re fun and brilliant and give the book a lot of life. But the book can’t be 800 pages long. Overall, though, it’s a great, great book!

I admit, I was never much of a fan of contemporary romance. I’m a big fan of romantic suspense and I didn’t think books could be much fun without blood and guts and dead bodies in it. But, Barefoot in the Sand showed me a book can be just as great even without the gore. So, I recommend it to everyone.

Grade: A+
Publisher’s Back Cover Copy

When all you hold dear is taken away . . .

When a hurricane roars through Lacey Armstrong’s home on the coast of Barefoot Bay, she decides all that remains in the rubble is opportunity. A new hotel is just what Mimosa Key needs, and Lacey and her teenage daughter are due for a fresh start. And nothing, especially not a hot, younger architect, is going to distract Lacey from finally making her dreams a reality.

A second chance is the only thing you have left.

Love has already cost Clay Walker everything. And if he’s going to have any chance of picking up the pieces of his life, he needs the job as Lacey Armstrong’s architect. What’s not in the plans is falling for the headstrong beauty. Her vision of the future is more appealing than anything he could have ever drafted for himself. Will Clay’s designs on Lacey’s heart be more than she can handle, or will she trust him to build something that will last forever?

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.