ORDER A COPY: Unbound: (InterMix)
Publishing Date: October 15, 2013
eBook: 294 pages
Rating: 4 stars
She set out to find herself, and discovered the darker side of desire.
Merry’s lost a lot recently—first her mother, then close to a hundred pounds. Feeling adrift, she strikes out in search of perspective. A three-week hike through the Scottish Highlands was supposed to challenge her new body and refocus her priorities, but when disaster strikes, she’s forced to seek refuge in the remote home of a brooding, handsome stranger…
Rob exiled himself to the Highlands years ago, desperate to escape his own self-destruction. Haunted by regrets, he avoids human contact at all costs…but when Merry turns up injured, he can’t very well run her off. And as he nurses her back to health, Rob can’t resist his guest’s sweet demeanor—or her flirtatious advances. The igniting passion between them rouses a secret appetite Rob has long struggled to keep hidden. But Merry craves nothing more than to help Rob surrender to his desires, and the journey draws the lovers into an entirely different kind of wilderness.
Merry is on a quest but to find what, she isn’t sure. She had planned to take a vacation with her mother to her birthplace of Scotland, but after her mother’s death, Merry decided she wanted to see her mother’s homeland a little more intimately, and after losing 100 lbs. she decides the best way is to hike from Glascow to Inverness. Merry is on track to meet her three week goal until she falls ill and has to seek shelter at the lonely little cabin on the hill. She is surprised by the man she find there living off the land, almost like a hermit, in his tiny cabin with no running water and an outhouse. Rob is definitely hiding from the world, but the question is why?
Over the next few days of her recovery, Merry gets to know the Rob that he has been hiding from the world and what she sees beneath the shaggy hair and the beard in need of a trim, is a thoughtful, kind and generous man, one she can’t equate to the one he describes of his life before his cabin.
She also gets him to talk about some of the secrets he has been hiding deep down within himself. Some of which he never even shared with his ex-wife. The more Merry gets to know Rob, the more determined she is to have a taste of him before she completes her hike to Inverness. Can she convince her mountain man to allow him to indulge some of his deepest fantasies before she leaves?
This was great storytelling. There is no villain to be thwarted (unless you count Rob’s inner demons) and no grand adventure. This was simply a story of two people who are forced together and find that they truly like the person they are with, and when I say simple, this is a man who lives off the grid with no running water or electricity. He gets his water from a well and heats it on his wood burning stove which heats his house. The facilities are an outhouse back beyond the house. Considering Merry is hiking across the country, sleeping in a tent, drinking filtered water out of the loch, and bathing out of doors, Rob’s cabin is a luxury accommodation. That’s a little too away from the world for me, but it certainly leads to a lot of time for conversations and getting to know someone without the distractions of phones and technology and the rest of the outside world.
It takes Rob a great effort to have a conversation, and I like that he recognizes his own failing and works to overcome it while he has the novelty of a guest. He has spent the last two years barely speaking to another person, let alone having a real conversation a pretty woman.
The only issue I had with this story is that Merry learns Rob’s sexual kink involves ropes and being tied up. The only thing I personally didn’t like about the story is not that our hero had a kink and like to be dominated. I mean, really how many bondage stories are out there where the man wants to tie up and dominate the woman. This was an interesting change, but I didn’t like that he indicated he liked being demeaned. I don’t enjoy a story when one character degrades the other, especially during sex. Playing dominatrix for him added interesting role-playing and I feel our heroine didn’t take it so far that it would ruin their growing relationship, or to a point that I was uncomfortable with. I do feel that wanting to be humiliated as part of the act starts to go above and beyond kink and screams of real deep issues and starts taking the fun out of it for me.
I was truly enjoying the characters and the story and was sad to see it end. I would have like to see what, if any, future there might be for Merry and Rob.
Received an ARC courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Rob’s final shot found the tree, if a bit low and off-center. He squinted at it, frowning, then headed across the grass, dog on his heels. Merry joined the parade, watching the way Rob’s shirt shifted back and forth between his shoulder blades. Watching the motions of his hips, the flex of his triceps, the lift of his overgrown hair in the breeze; watching the rhythm of this lean body and its mysterious owner.
He let her help him pluck the shafts from the tree. Judging by the pits drilled into the trunk from all sides, this was no rare diversion.
“Where’d you learn archery?” she asked, tugging another arrow free.
“From my father, when I was a kid. Then I retaught myself when I moved out here.” He shot her a tight smile. “Even hermits need hobbies.”
She laughed, startled and pleased to find this man was capable of cracking a joke. “I wanted to take a class last summer, but it sold out. Because of all the kids into The Hunger Games.“
“Into the what?”
“Oh, right—you probably don’t have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly. Anyhow, archery’s very hot at the moment.”
“Good to know I’m on trend.” Rob tugged the final arrow from the trunk, and Merry fetched the few that had found the ground. Two jokes, now. She’d discovered some little doorway into a different version of this man. She wanted to keep her foot jammed in the gap, keep the guarded, anxious Rob from returning and scaring this smirking fellow away. She handed him the arrows.
“Thanks,” he said, and slipped them into the quiver-thing. His equipment looked sporty and modern, the shafts some kind of lightweight metal, with flexible plastic fins instead of feathers.
“Do you hunt with these?”
He shook his head. “I hunt with a rifle. I’m not such a great shot that I’m likely to ensure a humane kill.”
“I dunno about that,” she said, eyeing the tree. He’d been quite the dead-eye…up until an audience had arrived.
“If all the deer deigned to stand still, a hundred paces from me,” he mused, “Then maybe. But I think I’ll keep sparing them the flesh wounds and myself the lost arrows.”
“What’s it like, killing an animal? I can barely stand to peel shrimp.”
“It’s, um…” Rob held the bow with both hands, resting it along his shoulders behind his head.
“It’s humbling. It’s hard to explain.” His arms flexed, and that and the three-fingered glove on his right hand were giving Merry pleasant feelings.
“So,” he said, dragging her attention off his biceps. “Your head’s still sore. How’s your stomach?”
“Better. Way better.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
She nodded, brain going fuzzy as her gaze caught on his. Those eyes really ought to come with some kind of controlled substance warning. Judging by how bleary she suddenly felt, they had to be at least 100 proof.
“Do you do this often?” she asked, forcing her mouth to make conversation. “Target practice?”
He nodded. “Most afternoons, once the chores are done.”
She eyed the bow, wondering how heavy it was. Wondering if holding it would make her feel as tough as Rob had looked.
“Would you like to try?” he asked.
“Kind of.” Kind of definitely. Especially if it might mean Rob would stand right behind her, his capable arms brushing hers as he corrected her form, voice so close to her ear. Pervert.
“All right,” he said. “Come on.”
A year ago, Merry wouldn’t have said yes. She’d avoided most any new activity that called attention to her body—to her physical competence, or rather, complete lack thereof. A year ago she’d never have tried archery with witnesses, nor kickboxing lessons nor tango classes nor a beginners’ jogging meet-up, and certainly not a 170-mile solo hike across fucking Scotland. The old Merry, she thought as she walked. Good riddance, you poor frightened thing.
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Publishing Date: December 3, 2013
Paperback: 217 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Meet the furry big brother that the Wird sisters never had…
Bren is a cocky, brash hound of a werewolf who loathes the idea of belonging to Aric’s pack—much less finding a mate. But Bren’s hotheaded behavior lands him in the doghouse when he defies Aric’s authority in front of his pack, bringing up a sore subject that’s bound to make the Alpha wolf’s blood boil…
Luckily for him, no one can stay mad at Bren and his wild charm for long. And when some frightening ghosts launch a hostile paranormal takeover, Bren will team up with Celia to take down the evil ghouls before they hurt someone they both love…
Bren is a lone wolf—or werewolf that is. He has been without a pack since his parents died when he was a kid and the elder’s wouldn’t allow him to join his father’s pack. Bren is okay with that because his “pack” consists of the people who matter to him: his roommate, Dan and Celia Wird and her sisters. They are the only people he can count on, the only people he can trust, and the only people he would die to protect.
And to protect those he loves against the growing danger from the demons and the witches of The Tribe that keep calling together the evilest of supernaturals, he would even agree to join Aric’s pack, even though the pure-blooded bastard broke Celia’s heart.
That doesn’t mean he is going to play by Aric’s rules like a good little pup. Bren’s mouth has a habit of writing checks his ass can’t cash and mouthing off to an alpha-were might not always be the best way to show that you are willing to be part of the pack.
When their friend Dan is kidnapped by soul-sucking ghouls, Bren has to quickly decide if he can trust the pack or will he and Celia go it alone to find Dan before it is too late.
As the Weird Girl series is told by Celia’s point of view, this was interesting to read from Bren’s perspective. He gives us some insight into his friendships with Dan and Celia and why he they mean so much to him. We also learn why he is a lone wolf and why he likes it that way.
This story continues on from where we left off after A Cursed Embrace. There is plenty of action since the witch is now calling forth cursed souls and will try to possess bodies and they keep showing up around Bren and Celia.
It was an enjoyable addition to the series and gives Celia’s friends a little more depth to their characters. I don’t know what I enjoyed more: watching Bren torment his roommate Dan or Celia, Bren mouthing off to Aric, Bren riling up Aric’s new fiance or the always entertaining disapproving neighbor, Mrs. Mancuso.
Received an ARC courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.
I jumped out and ambled toward the blue Colonial. Mrs. Mancuso, the girls’ elderly neighbor, was sweeping her front steps by the light of her lawn jockey’s lantern, a freak-ass little statue with bright red pants and a lazy eye. Despite the late hour she brushed her little broom back and forth with quick precise motions, even though any sap could have eaten off of the wooden steps as they were. She was probably bored, and lonely. The Wird sisters seemed to be her only form of entertainment.
She buttoned the top of her coat to protect her frail body against the cold. As a were, I’d keep the majority of my strength and reflexes till my dying day. Little old humans like her didn’t have that luxury. I grinned with my new set of chompers and winked her way. “Hey, sex-uh lady.”
Mrs. Mancuso smiled and tucked her neck skin into her brown wool scarf. “Oh, Brendan, you’re such a good boy to flirt with an old lady.” She furrowed her penciled in brows and glanced over at Celia’s former home sweet home. “Too good a boy in fact to be hanging out with those Wird girls.”
I nodded in agreement. “Don’t worry, Mrs. M, I’m trying to help them see the light. I plan to spend the next few hours reading to them from the Bible. They’ll come around, just leave it to me.”
The front door of the Wird house crashed open. There stood Celia—five-foot-three inches of long lethal muscles in skinny jeans and a tight white long sleeved T-shirt. The breeze picked up, sweeping her long mane of brown curls around her face. She pushed her hair out of the way, exposing her narrowing green eyes. Her supersized hearing had obviously picked up my chat with their not-so-favorite neighbor.
I waved. “Hey, Ceel. What’s wrong? Still mad I made you cancel your porn subscription?”
It was really hard not to laugh at her reaction. Celia subscribing to porn was like me joining a Justin Bieber fan club—so not happening. Her eyes shot open only to narrow further at Mrs. Mancuso’s stiff, reprimanding middle finger.
Celia stormed to the edge of her front porch, and while a wide driveway separated both houses, I still caught her golden skin reddening beneath the whitening glare of her porch light. “Mrs. Mancuso, I do not have a porn—”
“Harlot!” Mrs. Mancuso shot back. She lifted her broom defensively, daring Celia to cross the driveway and step foot on her property. Celia pinched the bridge of her nose. In a Mancuso/Celia Wird smack-down, Mrs. M won every time. Not that Celia couldn’t crush her like a fistful of berries, but because Ceel didn’t pick on those weaker than her, no matter how much they annoyed her.
I placed my hand on Mrs M’s shoulder. “It’s okay, honey-bunches. I won’t stop until the sin is washed from her wanton soul.”
“Bren, that’s enough out of you.”
Mrs. M patted my arm, ignoring Celia. “You’re a good boy, Branden,” she said once more.
She flipped Celia off again before shuffling into her house.
A Cursed Moon includes a preview of the upcoming Weird Girls novel Cursed by Destiny!
Cecy (pronounced Sessy) Robson is a full-time writer, registered nurse, wife, and mother living in the Great Northwest. A member of Romance Writers of America, she attributes her passion for storytelling to the rough New Jersey neighborhood she was raised in. As a child, she was rarely allowed to leave the safety of her house and passed her time fantasizing about flying, fairies, and things that go bump in the night. Gifted and cursed with an overactive imagination, she began writing in May 2009. Her Weird Girls Urban Fantasy Romance series is published with Penguin Random House’s Signet Eclipse and released to stellar praise from multiple reviewers including: Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today, and Romantic Times. THE WEIRD GIRLS: A Novella, SEALED WITH A CURSE, and A CURSED EMBRACE are now available. A CURSED MOON: A Novella, releases December 3, 2013, followed by CURSED BY DESTINY, January 7, 2014.
Harlequin Books has a holiday countdown (super fun!) where you can access deals and freebies. (I love freebies!). Christmas Countdown
ORDER A COPY: Sweet Revenge
Publisher: Forever Romance
Publishing Date: December 3, 2013
Paperback: 384 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Matt Dean was born to fight…and kill. A member of a secret black-ops military unit, he and his brothers were genetically engineered by the government to be the perfect soldiers with an expiration date. Now, with time running out, he’s gone rogue in a relentless quest for the one person who can save them. His mission leads him to Charmed, Idaho…and to a beautiful woman with eyes like emeralds and a body made for pleasure.
Laney Jacobs knows the mysterious, handsome stranger is trouble from the moment he walks into her bar, looking for a job. She’s spent years running from her own past—the last thing she needs is a romantic entanglement. But Matt’s strong arms offer her protection, and his gentle touch promises passion unlike anything she’s ever known. As lethal forces surround them, revealing explosive secrets about Matt’s past and putting everything—and everyone—he holds dear in danger, can he save them all before time runs out?
Matt Dean and his brothers, Nathan, Shane and Jory, were genetically engineered to be the ultimate soldiers. Unlike the other “brothers” in the experiment, these brothers fought for each other and to protect each other. But their time is running out. They escaped the facility five years ago and have kept themselves out of the Commander’s reach, but each brother was implanted with a chip which, if not coded every five years, will detonate and snap their spines. With only weeks left to live, the brothers are working non-stop following leads and tracking down sources trying to deactivate the chips.
Matt is now in Charmed, Idaho, looking for one of the doctors who implanted the chip. The brothers aren’t the only ones who went under after escaping the facility. Except the doctor has made a mistake and left a trail leading them to Charmed. They have narrow down the doctor to one of three women and Matt needs to figure out which one of them is also hiding from the Commander.
He arrives in Charmed wounded, and is amazed by the kindness shown by the local bar owner, Laney. When he sees a help wanted sign in her window, he knows he has found the perfect cover to stick around and uncover his missing doctor. He only has a window of two weeks to track her down and he doesn’t have time to waste, but he can’t help being drawn to Laney. She is trouble in more ways than one and when someone starts stalking her, Matt knows he can’t just walk away and leave her defenseless.
Time is running out for Matt and his brothers so now isn’t the time to fall in love but Matt just can’t resist the feisty Laney and as danger surrounds them, their time might have just have run out.
I loved it!! I love Rebecca Zanetti and this series is just as exciting as her Dark Protector series. Matt is the oldest of the brothers and as such, he has appointed himself as their father-figure, their protector, and their trainer. He made sure the brothers were never split up as children going up against the ruthless Commander even at the age of 12. He has spent his life trying to keep his brothers alive and anytime they are hurt, he takes it as a personal failure. Falling for Laney and trying to keep her safe is the first time in his life that someone else is as important as his brothers and it is overwhelming to realize how important she is to him. Matt’s the kind of guy you want to be the center of his focus.
Laney has never had anyone to count on and she is torn between feeling annoyed at Matt’s rules and restrictions and being overwhelmed by the fact that someone cares enough to stand by her. Laney is hiding many secrets and for a man trained to detect lies and seduce secrets them out of a woman, Matt definitely has his work cut out for him since Laney isn’t willing to share those secrets no matter how sexy the temptation. I loved that she frustrated him by rolling her eyes at him ever time he gave her an order. Matt is used to his brothers following his orders. No one has ever sassed him before.
As always, Rebecca drops a bomb at the end of the story to make you frantic for the next installment. Added to that is the fact that their youngest brother Jory was captured and killed but that doubts have now surfaced that the video of his death was faked or he somehow survived being shot. After what happened to Jace in her Dark Protector series, I have no doubt we will find Jory alive, but probably not without some mental damage after being under the control of the Commander and his psycho doctor.
I am looking forward to seeing what happens next in Nathan’s story.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Of course, the family practitioner was the one woman who wasn’t sitting around the table. He’d paid special attention to the coroner and the veterinarian’s assistant, and the vet’s assistant was currently checking him out behind the wire-rimmed glasses. Bright eyes showed intelligence and an interesting wariness. He shot her a smile.
Her cheeks pinkened, and she half turned to talk to the woman on her right.
Laney, sitting across from the vet, instantly shot a look his way, delicate eyebrows arched. He met her stare evenly, pleased when her high cheekbones filled with color. The fact that she kept his gaze with challenge in her eyes, even while blushing, pleased him even more. The polite thing to do would be to grant her a reprieve and look away.
Too bad he wasn’t a polite guy.
Laney should learn not the challenge him.
Her chair scraped back, and she muttered something to her friends and when calmly maneuvered around tables toward him, hips swaying…keeping his gaze the entire time. His shoulders went back, and his blood started to hum. Who was this woman so full of surprises?
She reached him, her eyes sparking in irritation. “Would you please stop turning the most successful businesswomen in town into simpering morons?” she whispered.
He blinked. Damn it. He focused down a foot to her irritated face. “What in the world are you talking about?”
Her body remained relaxed, but he could hear her heart thumping, and her expression was quickly transforming into anger. She kept her face angled away from the women at the table. “Stop smiling, stop flirting, and do your job.”
He lowered his face just enough to make her eyes widen. “You sound jealous.”
Ah. There was the fury. “I’m not, you jackass. Keep the charm in your pants, and stop flirting.”
Okay. He may have poured on the charm with the two women he needed to investigate, but he’d been trained in subtlety and covert action. “Why are you suddenly interested in what’s in my pants?”
Laney’s gasp heated him in all sorts of places. “If I have to tell you again to knock it off, you’re fired.”
The little spitfire had better be careful who she threatened. “So you want me unavailable to those women?”
Satisfaction filled her pretty face. “Exactly.”
“Okay.” He grasped her hip and covered her mouth with his. The kiss was hard, quick, and enough of a taste to make him crave more. He lifted away to gauge the shock on her face. “There. Now they think I’m taken.”
The air vibrated as her hand closed into a fist, and he shook his head. “You don’t want to hit me.”
“Why not?” she ground out.
For the first time, he let his mask slip so she could see the predator the government had created. “The second you make contact, I’ll have you on that bar, held tight, my cock pressed between your legs, my lips on yours until you beg for more. Even fully clothed, I may make you come—and I won’t care who’s watching.”
Her sexy mouth dropped open. Surprise and fury lit her eyes…along with desire. She tried to mask it, but he was an expert at reading people, and the woman was intrigued. “You egomaniac. I’m not remotely interested,” she whispered.
Surprising anger shot through him. “You want to threaten me? That’s fine. Challenge me? No problem.” He stepped even closer into her space. “But don’t you ever lie to me. Ever, Laney.”
She pressed her hands against her hips, confusion blanketing her features. “We just met.”
The woman was correct. He had no right to demand a damn thing from her. For all she knew, he was a bad guy. But this once and with this woman, against all rational training and thought, he truly didn’t give a shit. He didn’t understand it, sure as hell couldn’t explain it. so he went with his gut. “Yeah, we did just meet. Those are the ground rules. Period.” He lowered his chin and waited for her to challenge him, anticipation lighting his veins.
ORDER A COPY: Wicked Beat (The Sinners on Tour)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publishing Date: August 6, 2013
Paperback: 399 pages
From the moment he lays eyes on Sinners’ new front of house soundboard operator, drummer Eric Sticks knows he has to make Rebekah his. Unfortunately, she’s too busy trying to seduce guitarist Trey Mills to pay him much attention. Rebekah never planned to fall for the tall, goofy drummer with the weird sense of humor and a heart the size of the galaxy. But Eric makes her laugh and his constant attention makes her feel sexy and irresistible–exactly what she needs after the things her last lover said to her. A woman who gives as much as she takes, Rebekah makes Eric feel like a total stud–exactly what he needs after surviving a decade of watching the incredibly talented members of Sinners from the wings.
I have to toss this one on my DNF pile. Olivia Cunning was highly recommended to me awhile back so I picked up the next book she had available. As soon as I had a lull in my deadlines I grabbed this off my stack and was excited for the Rock ‘N Roll to begin. With this being a Kindle copy, I don’t know how many pages I read but my marker was reading 40% done and this was just sex, sex, sex.
I understand that this is from my erotic pile, but please SOME STORY IS NEEDED!
Of what I read, Rebecca was filling in for her brother who was hurt in a bus accident (prior story) as the main sound technician. She is trying to hold his spot in the tour until he recovers and can return. She is recently graduated and a woman in a male dominate profession and she was barely accepted by the band, therefore you would think she wants to be seen as professional and competent, at least performing one show, before she starts taking on all of the single band members, at once, like a groupie.
She wants to sleep with Trey and although Trey has no problem with helping her out, he can tell that his friend Eric is really interested in Reb and Eric want to keep her to himself. Reb starts to fall for Eric because he is sweet and funny. Ummm, didn’t see it. Just because he showed a little more concern for Reb then just an opportunity for sex, that didn’t make him sweet. All he wants to do is have sex with her, and his attempts at humor are sad, not funny.
I understand that erotica has to be the hardest category of stories to write because one person’s sexy is another person’s ewww, but there has to be an actual story between the sex scenes or else it’s just like watching 10 hours of non-stop hardcore porn. It is no longer sexy. It just becomes a non-stop pounding. A well-written romantic kiss is more titillating than some of these explicit scenes of sex.
Hopefully this was just a very bad example of Olivia Cunning’s talent.
Received ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
ORDER A COPY: Entwined (Darkest London)
Publisher: Forever Romance
Publishing Date: November 5, 2013
Ebook: Says 40 pages, seemed like more.
Rating: 4 stars
Eamon Evernight has always lived in his older brother’s shadow. While his brother is fair of hair and lithe in body, Eamon sparks fear with his fiery locks and massive frame-and rumors of a mysterious power. But when his brother has the good fortune to be betrothed to a beautiful stranger, it’s Eamon’s help-and quick wit and romantic heart–that he needs. Eamon agrees to write the noble lady…a generous offer that will forever leave him a changed man.
Lady Luella Jane Moran has no interest in an arranged marriage and tries valiantly to dissuade her betrothed from afar. Though her own letters plainly state her case, the words her husband-to-be writes her leave her aching for his touch. Will Lu give in to the desire the missives have kindled within her? Or will desire turn cold when she discovers their true author?
Aidan Evernight received a letter from his intended bride, a bride arranged between the families, begging him to rebel with her against the archaic arrangement and set them both free. But Aidan wanted a bride in name only so he could have someone to keep his home and allow him to lead his own life. Aiden begged his brother Eamon to write to her and convince her that she needed to go through with the marriage when she came of age.
Except when Eamon agreed to assist his brother, his first desire was to convince the young woman to continue to fight the arrangement. He didn’t like the idea of his brother trapping the girl in a loveless marriage for his own benefit. But from their first correspondence, their wits and intelligence meshed and began a four year love affair between Eamon and Lu, and as the time came for Lu to meet her intended husband, Eamon’s mistake hit him full force. He had woo’d the woman he loves for someone else to possess, and he would have to step back and watch her be joined forever to his brother.
Eamon had lost all hope, but when fate intervenes on his behalf, will he be able to confess his fraud to Lu and claim her as his own, and if he does, will she ever forgive him?
Eamon was a quiet, gentle man but he was also very large with shocking red hair. His appearance along with his father’s ranting of him being a demon’s spawn, made the Town’s people wary of him. So it is not surprising that his romance begins with letters allowing his intelligence and his humor to shine through before Lu ever meets him and allowing both to form strong bonds of love before ever meeting face to face.
Of course, we have the whole Cyrano-type storyline where his brother doesn’t find out about the four years of letter writing until just before Lu shows up at their door. Now I adored sweet Eamon and thoroughly enjoyed the story, although I did have a few issues. Eamon’s mother died in childbirth bearing him, the younger son, and his father held him responsible for his mother’s death and treated him like the proverbial ‘redheaded stepchild.’ So why was Eamon the smarter and more educated of the two brothers? Aidan couldn’t read and write no matter how hard the tutor’s tried to teach him, which is why Eamon had to write to Lu. Maybe he was dyslexic?? Aiden also had an English accent while Eamon had a Irish lilt. They grew up together, how did that happen? And although Eamon and Lu end up getting married (It’s a romance. I’m not giving anything away.), it bothered me that on their wedding night, Eamon is hesitant since he steps in for his brother and he believe Lu loves Aidan, and he tries to get the unpleasantness over for her as quickly as possible where he barely lifts her nightgown, in/out and he leaves the room as quickly as possible. It wasn’t even just because they were both virgins that it was awkward. I felt like she agreed to marry you, she agreed to not put off the consummation of the marriage, and you couldn’t start off with a little kiss? Having sex with her is okay, but a kiss is too personal? It was awkward for them and it was awkward for me, the reader. Later in the story when we get to the kissing part, they do just fine.
Other than the awkward consummation and a few contrived plot twists, I like the way Eamon and Lu meshed. This is a novella from a regency/paranormal themed series. If you have not read the series, you can still enjoy this story. It seems Eamon is a minor character to the Darkest London series. The last few sentences point out who he is, but for the life of me, I can’t remember the exact content from the Winterblaze story and my review copy disappeared long ago so I couldn’t flip through it. Obviously, it wasn’t necessary to know that to enjoy Lu and Eamon’s story, and for only $.99 (on Amazon), it was a sweet romance with enough of a plot twist to make it interesting novella.
Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
“Keep going that way and you’ll find the garden wall.”
Lu came to a sudden halt at the sound of the deep voice. It wasn’t Aidan’s; his was a bit lighter in tone. No, this voice was warmer and tinged with more of an Irish lilt than her fiance’s well-bred English diction.
A note of humor colored it as the man continued, “Besides, the stables are in the other direction.”
She turned and found Eamon Evernight sitting in the shadows with his back against a large rowan tree. The younger Evernight brother hadn’t spoken a word in the house. He’d simply eased away from conversation until he’d blended into the woodwork. A fine trick for one so large as he. But Lu had been aware of him, or his stare rather. She’d felt it linger across her neck when her back was turned and heat her checks when she’d faced his way.
Oddly, he never outright stared, but tracked her from under his lashes. Which made it all the more unnerving that she’d known he’d been watching her.
He watched her now as well, his gaze steady and waiting.
“How did you know I was headed for the stables?” She’d been out of her room and headed for them as soon as the weather had cleared.
The corners of his eyes crinkled just a touch. “I recall hearing you had an affinity for horses.” His lids lowered, a slow perusal that had her skin prickling. “Seems inevitable that you’d suss them out as soon as you could.”
The way he spoke to her, as if to tease; she did not know why, but it roused her. Why hadn’t Aidan taunted her in this manner? She’d expected it of him, even hoped for such an exchange.
“Oh?” she said lightly. “And what if I was merely going for a walk?”
“Well, your muttering ‘where the bloody hell are the stables’ might have provided me with further clues.”
She laughed. “I must say, Mr. Evernight, your powers of observation are keen. Though it wasn’t very nice of you to repeat a lady’s indiscretion to her.” Good Lord, she had been swearing like a stable hand, hadn’t she? Ladies did not do such things. She’d have to repeat that fact until she remembered. Damn it.
A deep, slow chuckle drifted over to her. Strangely, she thought that Eamon Evernight did not laugh often. Which was a shame because it was a very nice sound.
“I won’t think any less of you, I promise,” he said. “Especially when I have uttered a few of those words a few times myself today.”
Shaking her head slightly, Lu stepped closer, bringing herself under the shade of the tree, and Eamon came into better focus.
My, but he was large. His shoulders were twice the width of hers. His arms beefy with muscle, now on display behind the thin, improper lawn shirt he wore. Massive, scarred, and callused hands hung limply upon his bent knees. She looked away from them and into his face.
His coloring was unfortunate. One could not shy away from it. Vibrant, angry red hair swirled into a thick wave from his crown, giving the impression of a flame. On this towering brute of a man, the color was excessive. And not at all fashionable. Indeed most people in England looked upon red hair as a defect. Ridiculous notion, but one that did not abate. Regardless, her preference was for golden hair and light blue eyes.
“I merely wanted to brush down the horses, perhaps have a chat with them,” she said to him. “I am quite accustomed to caring for them, you know.”
The corners of his mouth curled in a hint of a smile. “It’s the grooms, you see. They do not yet know you. If you wander in, they won’t know what to do with themselves.”
The quiet way in which he spoke was firm but not reproachful. Even so, her shoulders slumped. No servant wanted an unfamiliar woman drifting into their territory. Especially the stables. How long had it taken her to win over the hands at her father’s stables? “Well, I suppose I shall make do with roaming the garden.”
She must have made a face, for he smiled then, and his face was transforming to something almost boyish, with little dimples appearing on each side of his wide mouth. Strong, white teeth flashed in the shadows.
“Ah, now, don’t go fretting. You simply need an able escort. I can take you to the stables, if you’d like—” He stopped, his high cheeks coloring in that strong, ginger way that he must abhor. “That is, Aidan can escort you, of course.” His gaze settled on his hands.
Yes, Aidan could take her. Only the thought made the horrid lump within her chest grow. She did not want to face the man who called himself Aidan yet treated her as if she were a stranger.
“I’ll go fetch him, shall I?” He moved to get up, and Lu put out her hand.
“Oh, no. Don’t bother. Truly, it’s all right.”
An uncomfortable silence descended.
“May I sit with you, Mr. Evernight?” Lu did not know what had prompted her to ask. And when he looked at her with his dark brows raised in surprise, she wished she could take back the request. But only a little.
There was something oddly comforting about Eamon Evernight. She fancied that whatever she said or did, he would not sit in judgment.
“Call me Eamon,” he said, shifting over so that she could sit with her back supported by the tree. “Mr. Evernight makes me think of my father.”
Lu arranged herself, and her skirts, at the base of the tree. There was not much room, Eamon being as large as he was, and their shoulders were close enough to feel his body heat. “So then you did not get along with your father either?”
“Either?” Eamon frowned.
“I merely meant that Aidan told me he did not have a close relationship with your father, and it sounded like you did not either.”
Eamon cleared his throat. “Right, of course. Well, ours was not the best of accords.” With a distracted air, he scratched the back of his head, and the curve of his biceps bulged against the tight stretch of his sleeve.
By Saint Joan, she shouldn’t be looking at the man’s muscles, or noting the way they moved. She bit her lip in annoyance and tried to focus on his face. But that did no good. For she realized, with a bit of a start, that he was quite handsome when one looked past that flaming red hair. Classically so.
His nose was strong and straight, his jaw squared and graceful.
She was staring now. She knew it, yet Lu could not help but keep looking. To find such masculine beauty here was like discovering a secret treasure.
With such bright red hair, one would expect him to have freckles and pale eyes, but his skin was mellow ivory, and beneath sweeping brows of auburn, his eyes were deep, saturated cobalt blue, such as found in Chinese porcelain.
Looking into them, she felt a strange sort of hitch in her chest, as if someone had stolen her breath for a moment.
Perhaps she made a sound or something showed in her expression, for his brows drew together and a small half-smile pulled at his lips. “What is it?” His voice was soft and searching, as if he worried he’d offended her.
“You’re…” she trailed off in a mad blush.
“I’m what?” he prompted gentle, yet looking a bit apprehensive.
Lovely. Rare. Unexpected.
Publisher: Intermix Books
Publishing Date: November 19, 2013
eBook: Approx. 100 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Eva Riley is the maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding and it just so happens that her ex is the best man. Eva’s a straight shooter and definitely not the damsel-in-distress type. But with her pride on the line and her ex’s heart on his sleeve, there might not be enough champagne in the world to get her through this weekend…
Trevor Owens may be one hell of a good friend to Eva, but he’s always wanted to get the fiery redhead between the sheets. So he swoops in and offers a solution to her ex problem: they can pretend to be together—just for the weekend. But when their little game of make-believe is over, will they be able to tell what’s real and what’s only pretend?
Being without a plus-one at her best friend Meagan’s wedding shouldn’t be a problem, but with such a small intimate reception, the only “available” men are Eva’s ex-lover Luke and Trevor. Normally, Eva wouldn’t have had a problem with a quick hook up with an old lover to pass the weekend, but Luke stormed out of the relationship after he declared his love and Eva…didn’t. Eva doesn’t consider herself so evil that she would play with a guy that had actual feelings for her. But when Luke tries to talk his way back into Eva’s life, “I’m with Trevor” just seemed to fly out of her mouth without any real thought.
Trevor has been one of Meagan’s best friends since they were teens, and in the four years Eva has known him, he has always been a great guy and a caring friend. He is also a womanizer and a flirt. Then again, she’s no saint either. But she was smart enough to shoot Trevor down from the first day. Sleeping with friends just doesn’t work out well.
When Eva confesses to Trevor just what she told Luke, Trevor has no problem helping Eva out of a tight spot and playing the dedicated boyfriend, but somewhere along the weekend, they both stop playing pretend and for the first time for both of them, it just feels right.
Which one will risk heartache and a possible rejection first, or will they just walk away from something that just feels so perfect?
We met Trevor and Eva in Feel the Rush and they both stood out as memorable characters. They are both flirty and fun and very protective of their friends but because they knew each other so well, including how flirty and non-committal they both were, they made sure never to cross the line of friendship.
What starts out as just a way to keep Eva’s ex-lover at a distance turns into a sexy romance when Eva realizes how wonderful it feels to be the object of Trevor’s tender touches. I found myself caught up in his little kisses and touches as well. Yowza! Although Trevor admits to always being attracted to Eva, he too realizes how much he enjoys having her melt into him rather than her usual smart-mouthed ribbing.
I also enjoyed when Eva meets Trevor’s parents and sees that Trevor picked up his little touches of affection and sassy winks from watching his Dad with his Mom and realizes that it isn’t shallow flirtiness, but true affection he shows when he touches her.
You don’t need to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this one, and for $1.99 it’s a good buy for a sweet, sexy romance. When you are done though, you probably will want to grab a copy of The Valentine’s Arrangement or Feel the Rush.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Turning his head back toward her, he pulled his lips up in a knowing grin that had her wanting to wipe that grin off his face with the palm of her hand. “You’re not cold, are you?” he asked. The fucker knew she wasn’t cold.
“Kiss my ass, Trevor,” she sneered, which seemed to be the only retort she could come up with.
That wasn’t Eva. She was quick with the comebacks, smart with her mouth. But with unfamiliar thoughts floating around in the forefront of her mind, and with the warmth of Trevor’s kiss lingering on her skin, for once, she couldn’t come up with anything better. She was flustered.
“Do I really need to tell you bend over again, Red? I’ll gladly kiss that ass of yours anytime.”
She rolled her eyes. Not much else to do to smooth out that comment.
“Should we give them a little show?” he asked, a slight hint of excitement in his voice, like he was at the shooting range, about to pull the trigger on a brand new Glock for the first time. Yes, gun metaphors—she was a soldier—it would be the same thing that would give her the slight hint of excitement too.
Raising an eyebrow, skeptically, she questioned, “Give them a show?”
“We’ve got an audience.”
Eva didn’t need to look to the side to know that everyone who was still sitting at that table was watching them. But before she could even respond to him, he kissed her.
Damn, did he kiss her…
His finger rested beneath her chin, lifting it slightly so her head was angled toward his. His lips brushed over hers, and then lingered there—barely touching. It was agonizing. She wanted so bad to crush her lips to his—hard. She wanted so bad to lift her hands to the back of his neck and pull him to her so she could feel the full weight of his lips on hers. But she didn’t.
His hand dropped from hers, leaving it still resting on his chest, and he placed it on the middle of her back. Although is mouth was gentle, soft and light, his hands were firm, hard and eager. She liked feeling that from him. And she hated that she liked it.
His lips parted, pushing hers open along with his, then he easily pulled her bottom lip into his mouth. Just a little. He didn’t suck hard, he didn’t nibble, he just pulled it into his mouth, like he was trying to taste her, like he was trying to savor a little more of their kiss.
She melted against him and his arms held her tightly. She thought she felt a small tug to the corners of his lips as if he was smiling, but she couldn’t be sure. She was a sopping puddle. She was a swooning, sappy, gushy mess at the moment. And none of those things were Eva.
She didn’t melt, she didn’t swoon, or gush. But apparently she did now.
His tongue never entered her mouth as he moved his lips over hers.
Damn, this man knew what the hell he was doing. She wanted to slip her tongue inside and taste him, she wanted to felt he warmth of his mouth coat hers, she wanted to deepen this little teasing kiss and expand the flutter that had formed in her stomach.
Just as she was about to break her own rule, he pulled away. Moving his mouth to the side of her neck, he kissed her beneath her ear. This time she felt his tongue. It snaked out and sampled a small patch of her skin, just barely and all to quickly. Then he moved to her ear and whispered, “See, I told you it wouldn’t be so bad pretending to be mine.”
If she wasn’t still reeling and lightheaded from the most PG-rated kiss she had ever had, she would tell him to fuck off. She hated that he knew the effect he just had on her. Eva was a proud woman, and Trevor was a cocky ass. He could think whatever the hell he wanted to think. There was no way she would admit what that kiss did to her.
Our friends at Harlequin have offered us a giveaway copy of the new release by Shannon Stacey Love a Little Sideways. This sounds like another great friends to lovers story (which you know is one of my favorite tropes), and it includes my favorite type of camping…in a book while I sit in my favorite chair. I have been trying to be good and tackle my current books load before the end of the year, but this one sounds soooo good. *sigh* You know, I’m gonna give in.
Since we are coming up on the Thanksgiving holiday, tell us what yummies you are making (or made) this Thanksgiving.
Giveaway ends Monday, December 2nd. Open to U.S. residents 18 years and older please.
Liz Kowalski is heading home to Whitford, Maine—this time for good. Eager for her family, a fresh start and some fun, she doesn’t count on being rescued by the chief of police her very first night back in town. Drew is everything she’s not looking for…so why is she still so attracted to him?
After a brief, forbidden rendezvous at her brother’s wedding, Drew Miller expects Liz to return to New Mexico and stay there. He’s searching for someone to settle down with, not a casual fling with his best friend’s sister. But when they’re stuck together on the annual Kowalski camping trip, things start going a little sideways. Keeping their hands off each other proves just as impossible as keeping their secret from becoming public knowledge.
Amid family, mud and melted marshmallow, Liz and Drew try to fight what’s growing between them. But a little time alone, a lot of chemistry and too many opinions might be just what it takes to bring together two people so determined not to fall in love.
ORDER A COPY: Castle Hill: A Joss and Braden Novella
Publishing Date: December 3, 2013
ebook: 97 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Braden Carmichael never imagined he’d fall as hard and as fast as he did for Jocelyn Butler. He also could not have anticipated how difficult it would be to convince her to give in to love. But now that he has her, he’s never letting go. He’s got it all planned—the passionate proposal, the dream wedding, the sexy Hawaiian honeymoon—even the perfect family they’ll start.
After trying to flee from her painful past, Joss is finally allowing herself to embrace the future. But when things start moving faster than she anticipated, she finds herself panicking over something Braden can’t understand. After everything they’ve been through, Joss is sure that their love can survive even her worst fears. But, this time, she may push Braden too far—and risk losing everything all over again.
Joss has kept everyone at a distance since she lost her family in a car accident. If you don’t get close to anyone, you can’t risk losing them. Braden Carmichael is a man who gets what he wants and he wants Joss. Now that he has her, he wants no walls between them. Braden insists that he will always be there for her and she can always trust in him. So for the first time since lost her family she has opened her heart and has taken the risk of loving him and his family.
As their connection grows, they believe they will be ready for the hurdles life will throw at them. Yet, as they begin their married life, they may not survive their first challenge.
A misunderstanding has created a gulf between them. What they need most is to talk out the situation. But Braden is shutting her out and Joss is loving faith in him.
Neither one will listen or even talk, since each fears that the other is ready call it quits. These two people who thought love would overcome fear must learn that this is a war they will always fight or they will lose what is most important to them.
It is always great to go back in a series to a favorite character. I hope more authors will start doing this. On Dublin Street was a great story, and Braden and Joss made a wonderful couple.
This short story is shows us that a HEA is not that simple. Joss has issues trusting people and letting them into her heart. That doesn’t go away once we hit The End and our H/H admit their love. So when Joss falters under her old feelings of fear of losing someone, she is surprised that Braden isn’t there to catch her. Braden is dealing with his own fears at Joss’s reaction to some news.
While they are both wrapped up in their own reaction and their fear of hearing what the other has to say, their whole relationship is slipping away from them. They will both need to learn to conquer their own fear and have the courage to listen to their partner’s fear or their marriage won’t survive longer than their honeymoon.
I also want to give another thumbs up on this series to Samantha Young. Her presentation of the last short story Until Fountain Bridge was very creative in writing style and this short short was a great example that just because we hit the HEA, doesn’t mean life becomes all wine and roses.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
He was beautiful.
Just looking at him caused a different kind of ache inside of me.
This was a man who’d fought long and hard to keep me, even when I was bent on self-destructing us. This was a man who understood I could be difficult and stubborn and a little bit irrational (okay, maybe a freaking lot irrational), and still loved me. I wasn’t the best at expressing my emotions. I’d spent so long guarding them so I wouldn’t be vulnerable to heartbreak that even now I wasn’t the gushy, emotional type of girl who could tell her boyfriend every single day that she loved him.
But Braden knew I loved him.
Sometimes I wondered, though, if he knew how much. I wondered if he knew that just watching him sleep made me scary happy, breathless even. I wondered if he knew that he was absolutely, without a doubt, everything to me.
Usually that wasn’t something I’d want anyone to know because it meant admitting it out loud, and if I admitted it out loud and then lost that person, then I couldn’t pretend I’d never felt so much for them in the first place. But that was the old me. Dr. Pritchard, my therapist, wouldn’t be happy with me if I held on to that kind of thinking.
I wouldn’t be happy with me.
I snuggled a little closer, just needing to feel the heat from his body against my skin. My eyes dropped to his mouth, his beautiful mouth, which said and did a lot of nice things to me.
I was everything to Braden. I knew this because he told me so. He never made me doubt how much I meant to him.
“Is there a reason you’re over there and I’m over here?” he suddenly muttered, his eyes still shut.
I’d jerked back at the sound of his voice but was now smiling as I slid closer. “You’re awake,” I whispered, wrapping my arm around his waist, entwining my legs with his as he draped a strong arm over my back and snuggled me against his firm chest. I sighed. Content.
“I’ve been awake for the past ten minutes waiting for you to get your arse back in beside me.”
I snorted at his disgruntled tone.
His warm hand slid down my back, caressing my butt before smoothing back up my spine.
“You get what you needed to get down?”
“Mmmhmm. Finished my chapter.”
“Good, babe. Now go back to sleep.”
I smirked against his chest. “Okay, caveman.”
A minute or so passed and just as Braden was drifting back off I whispered, “You’re my everything. You know that right?”
His arm tensed around me at my words and then I found myself pushed back, his eyes boring intensely into mine. After searching them, his sleepy mouth curled up at the corners. “You don’t need to sweet-talk me to get sex, babe.”
My eyes smiled. “Well that kind of knowledge could have saved me months of uncomfortable expressions of love.”
Wide-awake now, Braden tightened his arms around me and as he flipped onto his back, he hauled me with him so I was sprawled across his chest, my legs straddling his hips. A note of seriousness entered his gaze as he drew his thumb across my mouth. A shiver rippled through me and I loved that he excited me so much. “I know how you feel abut me. I feel the same way. You never have to worry that you don’t tell me enough, okay?”
There he went again, being all perceptive to the point of being creepy psychic mind reader guy.
“You’re creepy psychic mind reader guy.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Creepy?”
“In a hot way.”
“There’s a hot way to be creepy?”
“Slide your hand south and creepy will certainly become hot.”
Braden’s teeth flashed in the dark, his wicked smile jump-starting my heart.