Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Caught By Menace by Lolita Lopez

This is Book 2 in the author’s “Grabbed” series. This book was a little sci-fi mixed with romance. I don’t normally enjoy that in a story but the story was interesting and the relationship between the hero & heroine took precedence. Warriors from the planet Harcos Prime police the solar system in exchange for natural resources including women. There is a “Grab” every quarter – women picked from a town or village run and the warriors race to catch them and claim them as mates. Naya has no desire to be caught by a warrior – even if it might mean a change for the better. However, when her friend Jennie’s name is picked in a lottery and chosen to run in an upcoming Grab, she takes steps to be there to help her friend. For a woman who was abandoned and betrayed from a young age, Naya takes a great risk out of loyalty to a friend. Of course she winds up grabbed by Menace. Sparks fly right away. Naya finds him attractive but the rumors she has heard about the Harcos warriors make her wary. It’s not long before he wins her over with his patience and gentle tone. The sex scenes in this book involve light bondage, voyeurism, and a light & brief M/F/M episode. I don’t normally read books with this type of erotic fantasy but found it palatable. Everything that happens sexually is consensual. The men, while strong and in control in many ways, treat their women with respect and do whatever they have to in order to fulfill their mate’s fantasies. Menace and his friend and fellow soldier Vicious (his story was Book 1) obviously love their mates and are very sweet with them at times. I would have been instantly turned off if the men were in any way abusive - luckily that was never the case. This story kept me interested throughout. The only thing that was a little over the top for me was the sex club. I would be interested in reading more books in this series. I am most interested in reading a book about Hazard and Dankirk (even though Dankirk isn’t a Harcos warrior).

Once Upon A Wallflower by Wendy Lyn Watson

After reading this book, I was surprised to see that this author hadn’t written more gothic romances. I love a good gothic romance and I thought this one was very well-written. Even though I normally love these types of books, a frequent staple of them is a hero who is often overbearing or brutish. The hero is this story is nothing like that. Nicholas has the required air of mystery, but he treats the heroine with respect and kindness. He even shows kindness and understanding to his step-mother, in spite of her caustic barbs. He is an artist with a tragic background with women in his life, garnering whispers about him being a murderer. At the opening of this story, his rakish titled father wins him the hand of Mirabelle “Mira” Fitzhenry. He is pleasantly surprised to find that she is not the vapid, cookie-cutter blonde he expected. That would be Mira’s cousin, Mirabelle “Bella” Fitzhenry. Nicholas is immediately attracted to her physical beauty, but is captivated and finds her clever and passionate. After meeting, and somewhat falling for, Nicholas the ever logical Mira resolves to clear Nicholas’s name. If she can’t solve the mystery and clear his name by the appointed time of their wedding, she plans to flee. This story is full of appropriately creepy atmosphere and shady characters. There is the harpy that is Nicholas’s wicked step-mother, his momma’s boy jerk of a half-brother, his rakish and emotionally distant father, and Mira’s beautiful yet sociopathic cousin. I really liked Nicholas and Mira, and how they broke with genre stereotypes a little bit. I also loved how their romance developed. It was very sensual and I really thought it was nice that they actually liked each other as people as well as being physically attracted. The mystery of who murdered the women kept me interested. I was satisfied with how things got resolved at the end. I very much look forward to more from this author. Hopefully more gothic romances.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cowboy Justice by Melissa Cutler

This is Book 2 in the author’s “Catcher Creek” series. I have anxiously awaited this book since finishing Book 1. It was obvious while reading the first book that Rachel Sorentino and Sheriff Vaughn Cooper have a past together. It doesn’t seem to be something friends and family are aware of, but it haunts them. About a year or so ago Rachel and Vaughn had a torrid 4 week affair. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal except there is a lot of guilt associated with it for the both of them. Rachel feels guilty because the night her bipolar mom overdosed, Rachel had left her alone to be with Vaughn. For his part, Vaughn feels like it was unethical to have been intimate with Rachel because, at the time, he was investigating her father’s death. Now, in a seemingly cruel twist of fate, they find themselves in a similar situation. They feel unable to be involved because Vaughn is investigating a crime involving Rachel. At the opening of this story, Rachel finds herself in a spot of trouble. There has been some nasty vandalism done around her ranch which, up until now, she just marked down to locals disgruntled about the re-vamped ranch attracting tourists. Rachel figures it’s her responsibility to handle things herself without worrying her sisters or anyone else. What she doesn’t figure is getting shot at. Unfortunately, one of the men she shoots back at and injures is the son of a powerful police chief’s son.

In spite of some heavy bits of drama at times, there are light bits and moments of humor as well. The romance had some fab romantic tension and longing coupled with some very hot scenes. What really made it for me with this book, were the three-dimensional, well-written characters. I loved the hero & heroine but I also cared about the supporting characters as well. There was no “filler” in this book. Everything leading up to the nail-biting end had a wonderful momentum. I had to read this book through in one sitting. Excellent read and I very much look forward to the next book in this series.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Her Ladyship's Curse Disenchanted and Co., Part 1 by Lynn Viehl

This is the first book in the “Disenchanted & Co.” series by this author. I haven’t read that many steampunk stories before this, but was attracted by the book description, and because I usually like stories by this author. There was a very helpful glossary provided at the end. I read this on my kindle HD so, without knowing about the glossary, I highlighted certain names and terms to refer back to.
One thing I really liked about this story, as well as other books by this author, was that the female characters were very well-written and not stereotypes. Kit, the female protagonist, is independent without coming across as whiney. She does her best to live her life on her terms, despite living in a very restrictive society. In her line of work, others hire her to “dispell” harmful magic. From Kit’s perspective, she is investigating real crimes and exposing frauds. I think her lack of belief in magic in general, even though she sees ghosts and other magical things, is explained by her childhood experiences and when the story behind her pendant is totally explained. I am currently reading an ARC ebook copy of Book 2 so I forget if her pendant is explained in the first book or the second. In some ways, this reminded me of a Philip Marlowe type of story. Kit operates with according to her own moral code for her personal as well as her professional life. She tries to stay focused on the case she’s currently working on, faithful to her client, all while being pushed around from all sides. This being the first book in the series, there is a lot of info to absorb – the magical day-to-day realities of Kit’s world, a ghost haunting her, family scandals to investigate, and sorting friend from foe. The actual mystery Kit is hired to investigate is that of poor, tormented Lady Walsh who believes she is cursed. It’s interesting to watch Kit use her devices and test to figure out how things are done. The “why” of the Lady Walsh mystery is a little murky but all is revealed in book 2 of this series. This story might have been a little too intense for me, if not for Kit having the support of her friends – Bridget, Docket, and Rina. Rina herself describes them as, “a loomgel, a nutty mech, and a pissed strumpet”, but Kit describes her friends as “the honorable wife of Lord Duluc, the cleverest of disgraced mechs, and Queen of the Night”. I don’t normally like romantic triangles but I liked the potential for Kit to have some romance in the forms of rediscovered old family friend Chief Inspector Thomas Doyle and the very sexy, powerful deathmage Lucien Dredmore. I’m hoping Doyle winds up in the friend zone and I’m pulling for Kit and Lucien to somehow wind up together without compromising her principles – at least not too much. I look forward to reading more books in this series.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Clammed Up by Barbara Ross

This mystery is Book 1 in “A Maine Clambake Mystery” series. Julia Snowden (main character) gave up her venture capital job to come back to her hometown and help her mother, sister, and brother-in-law with the family business. The family business is a Clambake company. I think the author did a good job of making the characters three dimensional and very real. You really got a sense of how important the success of the business was to the family. They are in a tough spot financially so when Ray Wilson is found murdered on an island the Snowden family owns and uses for clambakes, a speedy solution to the mystery is imperative. As much as I liked Julia, I was set to dislike her brother-in-law Sonny almost from the beginning. However, I was happy to see how the author developed that character. The mystery itself kept me interested. There were a lot of suspects with good motives for killing Ray. I liked how the puzzle pieces of the victim’s last evening came together from Julia’s conversations with the various suspects. I also liked the potential romance for Julia. Overall, I think the elements in this cozy mystery came together really well, the characters were interesting, and I look forward to the next book in this series.

Prince of Secrets by Lucy Monroe

This is Book 2 in the “By His Royal Decree” series. Prince Demyan Zaretsky’s birth parents basically gave away their parental rights and responsibilities to Demyan’s aunt and uncle – King Fedir and Queen Oxana – in hopes of some kind of political leverage. It worked out for the best because he was raised as a prince, and Fedir and Oxana couldn’t love him more. Now that Fedir’s biological son is newly married, he recruits Demyan for some sneaky business. To protect national business interests, Fedir asks Demyan to seduce and marry Chanel Tanner. Failure to do so might mean financial ruin for the country. In spite of the shadiness of his assignment, I loved Demyan. He was very alpha and sexy, but so sweet with Chanel. He is attracted and charmed by her almost as soon as he meets the geeky scientist. Part of what makes Chanel fall for him is that he plans outings with her personality in mind. The gifts he gives her are tailored toward her preferences. That is important to her because she’s always felt inadequate by comments from her mother and step-father. Any gifts from them were geared toward molding her in a certain way they wanted. I liked a lot of things about this story. I liked that Demyan fell for Chanel and was determined to do right by her almost from the beginning. I also liked that that had some things in common; like that they both had issues with parents but had strong sibling relationships. I was happy with Queen Oxana’s appearance and contribution to the story – instructing Demyan to only say “I love you” if he meant it. As in the previous story, she imparts wisdom with kindness and grace. It would be nice to see her find love, in addition to the love she already has with her children. Another great, sexy romance by this author.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Talking Dirty With the CEO by Jackie Ashenden

Christie St. John and Joseph Ashton first connect in a very unusual way. At least, it's inusual that good relationship ended up blossoming from the way they first met. They first connected when Christie was playing her favorite zombie game on the computer, got bored and joined in on some online chat. She, as "Naughtygirl25", casually chatted with somebody called "Studman500". Joseph noticed that one of his employees had a chat window open and decided to investigate. They were both amused and charmed. I liked the chemistry between the hero & heroine. It was very hot. I also loved how it turned out that they were both kind of tech geeks. I found both of them to be very three dimensional and I really ended up caring about what happened to the characters. I liked that Joseph stuck up for her in front of her horrid family. They were just so awful to her. Joseph's issue toward the end of the book was sort of a surprise but I was happy with how things got resolved. I look forward to reading more by this author.