Friday, November 22, 2013

Blood Curse by Sharon Page

This is Book 7 in this author’s “Blood” series. This is a historical paranormal romance with strong gothic elements. Lady Ophelia has been kept in seclusion – even hidden from her family – by the enigmatic Mrs. Darkwell. She has been confined this way in order to protect the unsuspecting populous. Through no fault of her own, her touch is deadly. She sublimates her sexual urges by pursuing her appreciation of statues capturing the male form and ogling, and even caressing them when possible. It’s on one of these museum trips that she makes the acquaintance of the darkly handsome Mr. Ravenhunt. She is unaware that he is actually a vampire. She is also unaware that their frequent meetings are by design and are part of a plot to kidnap her. Ravenhunt is paid by some shady character to collect Lady Ophelia. He initially refused until his client revealed Ophelia’s curse in all its awfulness. However, after actually meeting her, he decides to pull a double-cross and keep her. Most of the obstacles in this romance are caused by external factors. There are more people after Ophelia than Ravenhunt’s mysterious client. The list of people after Ophelia and her power include Queen Jade – the powerful vampire who formerly controlled Ravenhunt, some evil-minded band of anti-vampire men are interested in experimenting on her, and miscellaneous paranormal types want the power. Despite the many times throughout the book when Ophelia doubts him, Ravenhunt always tries to prevent her from being hurt – even if it means his death. Our vampire hero finds out that undoing Ophelia’s curse involves some sex magic with the end goal being that they would fall in love with each other. I thought this was a little goofy, but toward the end of the book I was convinced that they were in love. Ravenhunt agonizes over the caveat that says they have to fall in love and is so earnest in trying to do anything to lift the curse, never realizing until later on, that he fell before he even realized it. The story itself really pulled me in and I loved the fast-paced action. The sex was kind of kinky with some bondage. This is nothing new for this author’s erotica. While I might not have found all of the sex acts in this book appealing – it was not so much a comment on the author’s writing, but rather just personal preference. What I did like about the sex scenes in this book is that it was consensual, the people involved enjoyed themselves, and it was never done for the wrong reasons – out of anger or some twisted pathology. I was happy to find that there was no third party involved romantically with the hero & heroine. The characters and story made this book for me. I found that I like Ravenhunt more as the book progressed. He has a lot of pressure put on him, including threats made against his sister by an evil vampire Queen, but never really breaks.
As a reader who has followed this series in previous books, I was happy to see a resolution in the Guidon/Mrs. Darkwell storyline. I look forward to reading more by this author.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Twas the Night Before Mischief by Nina Rowan

This novella comes after Book 2 in this author’s “Daring Hearts” series. The prologue introduces the two main characters, Penelope Darlington and Darius Hall, when she is 12 and he is 20. Penelope is the daughter of successful confectionary shop owner Henry Darlington, while Darius is the third son of the Earl of Rushton. 12yr. old Penelope is very upset due to getting some surprising news and takes off to regroup. She has always disliked Christmas because her mother died around Christmas time. Penelope’s father has recently returned from out of town (around Christmas time) with a new wife in tow and Penelope is devastated. It’s not that she finds the new wife in any way intrinsically objectionable, it’s that her father got married without telling her, or even giving her any clue that he was thinking of remarrying. It’s while she’s in this frame of mind, that Darius finds her. In his quiet way, he listens to Penelope vent. It’s a sweet little moment that sets up the rest of the book. The rest of the story takes place seven years after the prologue. Darius and Penelope meet up again at Lady Wentworth’s soiree. Even though Penelope is content to be pursued by Scotsman Simon Wilkie, she and Darius share an impromptu kiss. That might have been the beginning and end of their romance, had things not taken a dramatic turn. Penelope agrees to elope with Wilkie and head to his home in the Scottish Highlands. Darius catches wind of it and takes off after the two, not only out of loyalty and affection for the Darlington family, but because he doesn’t believe she will be happy with Wilkie. I love the way Darius and Penelope’s relationship develops over the short period of time they are thrown together. Penelope is able to open up with him about her feelings for her family and her current situation. She feels like Darius “gets” her. The romantic tension is fabulous. Even though Darius “possessed a scientific, mechanical mind”, Penelope brought out the poet in him without his sounding trite. I loved the romantic game they played defining words. When he explains why he compared her to the earth’s atmosphere, I melted. This was the first thing I’ve read by this author but I look forward to reading more. I was able to enjoy this story, even though I hadn’t read the previous books in this series.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Groom for Christmas by Cara Marsi

You either love “fake fiancé” storylines or you don’t. I love them, and I enjoyed this story. Graceann is looking for a fake fiancé to bring home for the holidays to take some family pressure off her. She has had a very bad experience in her romantic past that burned her and turned her off marriage completely. So, as she explains “My family feels sorry for me. They, especially my mother, won’t rest until I’m safely married.” In response to questions about how her family will react when she is no longer part of a couple, she says “If they think I broke with you, they’ll stop feeling sorry for me because they’ll know I’m in control of my life and perfectly happy on my own.” Typical “fake fiancé” logic. It just so happens that while Graceann is discussing her situation with her friend at the beginning of the book, her friend spots Jake Falco nearby. Better known in his high school days as “The Falcon”, Jake had a bad boy reputation. The friend suggests that she ask Jake to fill in as her fake fiancé, since her male friend couldn’t do it at the last minute. The chemistry between Jake and Graceann make for some very steamy scenes. In spite of his reputation when he was a teenager, Jake is a good sport about everything, and treats Graceann and her family with respect. He is very charming and easy to fall for. Even though Graceann’s mother surprises her by inviting a former romantic interest, Jake proves to be the better man. This story was a lot of fun. I liked the epilogue and thought it wrapped things up nicely. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but after reading this story, I look forward to reading others.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Dangerous Curves Ahead by Sugar Jamison

This is Book 1 in the author’s “Perfect Fit” series. Ellis Garrett is a complex woman. She is a plus size woman who owns a clothing shop catering to other plus size women. She is essentially a strong character taking a chance in her life. She left her lucrative career as a lawyer as well as her verbally abusive boyfriend and changed her life. I immediately liked her and her quick wit until she started being too self-deprecating. Eventually I realized that this was just a flaw that humanized the character. I liked that she stood up to her jerk ex-boyfriend and his nasty interfering aunt. Her move back to her hometown has been a somewhat smooth transition so far. However, one day she runs into a person she never expected again – Mike Edwards. She and Mike have a muddled past. Some years ago, they had some deep conversations, but then she walked in her bedroom to find him making out with her sister. It wasn’t that Mike was a bad guy – he wasn’t dating Ellis at the time and he was unaware that the room Dina had taken him to was her sister’s. However, it’s something that still hangs over her like a shadow – in part because her relationship with her sister has never been the same, and because it also fed her insecurities. It’s also a little blow to the ego that Mike doesn’t remember who she is, she just seems somehow familiar. I didn’t think I would like Mike at first, but he grew on me. He always treats Ellis with respect and plays gallant knight by trying to slay her dragons. I sometimes felt she was a little too hard on him. They both have relationship issues, but I felt that Mike tried a little harder to make the relationship work. I liked Ellis’s parents – I especially loved her dad. Her dad was so adorable and it was obvious how much he loved her. Her sister Dina was a mess in this story. Hopefully she’ll work her issues out in a later book. I liked Mike’s friend Colin and look forward to reading his story. Overall, this was a good story with lots of drama. This book was provided by the publisher free in return for an honest review.