Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Command and Control


Making the Grade: C+



For My Thoughts

What goes together better than peanut butter and jam? It’s a classic match made in heaven and that’s exactly what Trevor Wyatt and Megan Asher are. And just in case PB and J doesn’t do it for you...there’s always “marshmallow” close by if things get out of hand (read the book - you’ll get the reference).

Command and Control by Shelli Stevens was a good second chance at love story for the oldest Wyatt brother Trevor. I love it when the hero is just a little bit bent and broken and needs to be healed by the love of a good woman. Trevor Wyatt is a man truly haunted by his nightmares of the war and he’s going to have to fight himself right along side his demons before he has any hope of getting a second shot at love with his former fiancée Megan Asher. Maybe thinking she’s got his replacement picked out and getting ready to tie the knot is just the kick in the pants he needs to get his head out of them and get his girl back...if she’ll have him.

Stevens does a good job of portraying the oldest Wyatt suffering through his survivor’s guilt and his feelings of inadequacy where Megan is concerned. He felt she deserved better than him, but couldn’t stand the thought of seeing her with another guy. It was the classic I don’t want you, but don’t want anyone else to have you either syndrome.

Megan loves Wyatt. Megan's always loved Wyatt. Megan wants another chance with Wyatt if she can break through his barriers and finally get him to open up about all the feelings he’s kept buried deep inside. So she offers up a tempting proposition to Trevor when she volunteers to give up command and control in the bedroom in exchange for his promise to finally confide in her. Let’s just say that Trevor would be a fool to turn down her plan and his Mama never raised no fool.

So in an exchange of power, things get very heated, very fast in the hallway, the bedroom, the shower and everywhere and anywhere in between. I may have been a tad disappointed in Megan that she thought the only way to get through to Trevor was by bargaining with sex, I thought she was better than that. But in the end, the plan worked and you can't argue with results.

Finally I find something very sexy about a woman who calls her military man Soldier: “You swear too much soldier“; “I’d prefer you sleep in my bed soldier“; “Hold it right there soldier”, and then his responding "Yes Ma‘am". Very hot!

Good second instalment to the series, but not as good as the first for me.

From The Author's Website

Holding Out for a Hero, Book 2

He’s afraid of losing his grip. She’s about to untie his last knot…

Megan Asher has a thriving career, looks, self-confidence to spare. It all means little without the love of her life. Trevor has returned from deployment in Afghanistan a haunted man, emotionally distant and unwilling to connect—except in bed. Then even that fragile thread snaps. Brokenhearted, she is forced to call off their wedding and, after a few months’ separation, try to move on.

With every aspect of his life spinning out of his once-legendary control, Trevor Wyatt convinces himself that Megan is better off—and safer—as far away from his demons as possible. Until he comes back to town for his brother’s wedding, and discovers Megan is dating.

Suddenly realizing what he’s thrown away, he vows to breach the fortress she’s built around her heart. They come together in a cataclysm of rekindled passion that unleashes the very demons he never wanted her to witness.

Back to square one, Megan realizes she must take the ultimate risk to slip past Trevor’s defenses. Give him control in the one place she can. The bedroom. The seductive move is one she prays will be the first step in helping heal him and their love.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: The Edge of Night


Making the Grade: B+



For My Thoughts

Reading The Edge of Night by Jill Sorenson for me was like getting two great stories in one. In my opinion there was very little to differentiate between the impact of the main and secondary characters. Both were strong couples whose storylines were interwoven and equally compelling.

April Ortiz is a hard working single mother trying to make the best of the cards she’s been dealt. She’s working as a waitress, taking college courses, lives in a rough neighborhood over run with gang violence and is forced to resort to drastic measures to cut ties with her mom when she lets April down big time. I’m not gonna lie - April’s actions towards her mom shocked me but after thinking about it, I guess she really had no choice and couldn‘t allow her five year old daughter‘s life to be endangered. Add in April’s close ties to the gang life - little Jenny’s father Raul is himself a gang-banger, albeit incarcerated and I had to give April full marks for trying to lead as normal a life as possible and give her daughter the very best she could given her circumstances.

Noah Young is a regular, normal guy...and when I say that - it’s as a compliment. It was refreshing that Sorenson wrote his character as a hard working, dedicated beat cop, not the boss, not a know-it-all experienced investigator - just a great guy. He was relatively new to the Chula Vista police force but had a real passion and interest in working for the gang division and he wanted to make a difference. To him being a police officer meant something - it wasn‘t just a job. He didn’t met April under the best of circumstances when he and his partner were send to Club Sauve where she worked to investigate the death of a fellow waitress who was murdered.

April and Noah are drawn to one another instantly, but if two people should stay away from each other - it’s these two. Cops and women with deep connections to the local gang are a disaster waiting to happen.

Now we get to my favorite character in The Edge of Night...Eric Hernandez - Uncle Eric. He was the glue that held all the players together. For me, he was the most interesting and emotion evoking character in this story. Eric was a great “brother-in-law” to April, a terrific Uncle to Jenny, a caring grandson to an invalid grandmother he was caring for and his story took an unexpected turn when we discovered he was a sweet and caring boyfriend to Meghan who ironically enough was Noah Young’s sister.

Oye!

Eric was someone you couldn’t help but root for. Sure he ran with the wrong crowd, walked on the wrong side of the law, but we got to see that he was forced into a life he simply didn’t know how to escape. People relied on him to provide for them and so he found himself doing distasteful things because he couldn’t see another way out and he didn’t want to let the people in his life down. Ms. Sorenson did show us just a glimpse of how the future could have been different for Eric - if he hadn’t been born into a long time gang family. Eric’s hidden talents could have changed his life if he’d been allowed to develop them.

In addition to all the human drama unfolding, there’s still a killer on the loose targeting young Latina women. It’s up to Officer Young to discover the truth, juggle his responsibilities as a police officer and try not to blur the lines between right and wrong too often for the women in his life who mean the most to him.

I really enjoy Ms. Sorenson’s writing and I hope she revisits Eric’s story - because he truly does deserve his own HEA.

From The Author's Website
Bantam Dell
April 2011
ISBN 978-0-553-59263-4

Read an Excerpt here

In a sultry California city on the Mexican border, a brutal crime pushes a struggling young mother and an idealistic cop to the edge of passion—and beyond.

To support her small daughter, April Ortiz does what she has to do—which means waiting tables in a skimpy outfit at a popular nightclub in a gang-infested area of Chula Vista. When one of her co-workers is raped and murdered, April does what she knows she shouldn’t—she defies the neighborhood code by giving the police a hardcore gang member’s name.

Clean-cut cop Noah Young wants a shot at breaking this case more than anything in the world—that is, until he meets the unforgettable April Ortiz. When April gives Noah the tip, a spark ignites. As the fire between them threatens to blaze out of control, the two are dragged down further into the dark mysteries of the graffiti-lined streets, taunted by a crazed killer who could strike again at any time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review: A Little Bit Naughty


Making the Grade: C



For My Thoughts

Their hands reach across the grocery shelf at the exact same moment, the prize within their grasp...it’s the only box left on the shelf and over a box of caramel corn - a friendship is born.

A Little Bit Naughty by Anne Rainey is your typical friends to lovers story. I got the feeling Amanda and Leo had been “best buds” for years and my only question was why? These two obviously had chemistry and real feelings for each other.

Amanda and Leo spend more platonic time together than most couples in a relationship. Lunches two to three times a week, going to the movies, out to dinner, he calls her sweetheart and touches her at every opportunity. And then there is their shared love of caramel corn. If that isn’t a match made in heaven I don’t know what is.

Again why are these two just friends? I guess they just needed the right incentive to take their relationship to the next level. And what better excuse then the fake fiancé ruse.

Amanda’s got the upcoming dreaded family reunion she doesn’t want to attend alone where she will be subjected to the usual questions and concerns from her family about her *gasp* lack of a boyfriend. Leo the ever gallant BFF offers to attend with her as her “pretend boyfriend”. Amanda has real misgivings about their ability to carry off the charade in front of her family for a weekend, but she can’t forget the feel of the bulge in Leo’s pants when they practice fake kissing. *Whispers* he’s hung don’t you know.

Sharing a cabin offers all kinds of sexy opportunities for Leo and Amanda to get down and dirty and they do over and over again. They discover quite quickly that they are indeed compatible in and out of bed…and they like it.

I think in the future they’ll be sharing a lot more than caramel corn together and more importantly Amanda will no longer be attending the family reunion solo.

From The Author's Website

Samhain Publishing — 10/2010
A Tahoe Nights Story
Read an Excerpt here

Amanda Harding has always been a grave disappointment to her parents. She’s slightly plump, owns a bookstore and single. All no-nos. When the annual Harding family reunion comes around, Amanda dreads the thought of going alone, again. In comes best bud Leo Prentice with a plan. He’ll play the smitten lover. No worries, right? But what happens when the fake kiss turns both of them inside out?

friends turned lovers romance

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Sunday *Sigh*: At The Post - Again


Do you ever go back and re-read your old blog posts or reviews?

I agonize over my blog posts - probably waaaaay more than I should. It takes me a long time to write a witty, mildly amusing, spoiler free, thoughtful, insightful, helpful (did I leave any adjectives out ?) review.

Sometimes I think I spend more time writing the review then I actually spend time reading the book. A natural at this blogging thing I am not. I try to take notes as I read along (if I can remember to - this is a recent addition to the process), write the review, proof-read, spell-check, copy and paste my “review” into Blogger, read and spell-check it again, make subtle changes to enhance it‘s awesomeness, copy and paste it back into Word, proof-read and spell-check it yet again. *Deep breath* let it sit a day, go back and read it again to make sure it doesn’t blow and has something to offer before I finally copy and paste a polished review into Blogger. Phewwwwww that’s a lot of work! We’re at the post - we’re off! Hit publish, post and send!

Seriously given the process I just outlined above - I would be very skeptical and quite amazed if I found a mistake in one of my old reviews. Seriously...I would!

This week someone on Goodreads commented on a review I posted a mere 3 months ago. So I went back and re-read my own words of wisdom to see what I had so eloquently written to prompt a comment and noticed in the very first line...you guessed it...a MISTAKE. W.T.F.? The very first sentence? Are you kidding me? It wasn’t a spelling mistake per-se (I spell-check 15 times...ok may 5 times) but instead of using the correct word vast - I used the word fast. Edit, fix and save.

So the next day, I received a second comment on the same review and this time I actually re-read the entire review and guess what? I found another MISTAKE! Double W.T.F.! This time instead of using the correct word what, I substituted want. Grrrrrrr! Edit, fix and save…again.

Literally these mistakes just jumped off the page right at me as I was re-reading my review. How the hell did I miss them in the first place? It boggles my mind. Is it too ODC of me to go back and revisit all my previous posts looking for errors? Ya...that’s not going to happen.

Have you ever gone back a week, a month or a year later and discovered an error in one of your blog posts or reviews on Goodreads?

PS: If you find any errors in this post - keep it to yourself. Let me find my own mistakes a couple of months from now...or never.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Review: The Heat is On


Making the Grade: C



For My Thoughts

The action in The Heat is On by Elle Kennedy starts out fast and furious (mmmm I sense a movie title in there somewhere), a bank robbery in progress, people cowering on the floor, lives being threatened by the likes of Hook Nose, Black Hair and Red Shoes. Not exactly the place to be scoping out your next potential date, but it’s hard for Matt O’Connor to resist the beautiful blonde lying on the floor next to him as they share a snarky, running commentary on the ineptitude of the idiots robbing the bank.

With the crisis averted, Matt decides to make a move on his snark-alicous partner-in-crime and ask her out for dinner. When she appears to think it over before stamping “Denied” on his forehead, Matt is dumbfounded, literally in shock - Who the hell mulls over going out on a date with him? With a sympathetic grin and a sassy wave, Savannah Harte leaves Matt O‘Connor in her wake to nurse his wounded ego. You go girl!

Big, bad-ass, bald, commitment-phob, Navy SEAL Matt O’Connor finally meets the one girl who doesn’t want a relationship. He’s been a man-slut for years and in his own words “if he were counting notches on his belt - he would need 10 of them.” It seemed kind of like poetic justice then that Savannah Harte, owner of her own florist business Harte to Harte was the first girl to put the unflappable Matt off his game.

Savannah should have been the girl of Matt's dreams...she just wanted to have sex with him and then when she got bored with him as she inevitably would, she would just send him on his merry way with no regrets. But the more serious Matt got about having a real relationship with Savannah, the more she was determined to keep things between them all about the S-E-X.

This is my first Elle Kennedy book and although it’s the sixth book in the series, I had no issue picking up this series midstream. There are mentions of characters I’m going to take a major leap and assume are from previous books, but they had no real bearing on this story.

This was a fast, easy, sexy read as this commitment challenged duo tried to get past their fears and give love a chance to bloom.

I will definitely be checking out some of the other Men in Uniform stories in the series.

From The Author's Website

The Heat is On
(April 5, 2011, Samhain Publishing)
Out of Uniform #6

Read an Excerpt here

It’s all about the thrill...

As a Navy SEAL, Matt O’Connor specializes in Bad Boy. At least, that’s what he thinks…until he finds himself face down on the floor during a bank robbery, arguing with a sexy, bad-girl blonde who wields her sharp tongue with surgical precision.

Just like that, Matt begins to wonder if maybe the idea of settling down with one woman isn’t as crazy as he thought.

Savannah Harte is addicted to first kisses and whirlwind romances. Once the thrill is gone, though, she’s outta there. She’s eager to follow the adrenaline rush she feels with Matt into the nearest bed, but when tangled sheets begin to feel like tangled heartstrings, her first instinct is to cut him loose. There’s only one problem: Matt’s not going anywhere. And not even a steamy threesome seems to dull her growing feelings.

Which leaves Savannah having to decide what she wants more. The casual thrill of now…or the scary thrill of forever.

Warning: This title features a hot threesome with explicit sex, a bad-girl heroine, and two Navy SEALs guaranteed to make you sweat.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April TBR Challenge Review: Texas Tangle

Save a horse, ride a cowboy...or two!




The TBR challenge this month was to read a Western (contemp or historical).
I don’t do western as a rule but I did find Leah Braemel's Texas Tangle in the E-book pile and it’s as close to a Western as I’ve got.

Making the Grade: C-




For My Thoughts

I’m gonna try and Texas two-step my way through this review.

It’s hard to write a review for a book that just doesn’t do it for you and you can’t pinpoint why? I didn’t hate it, but didn’t love it. If I had to accurately describe my feelings...I tolerated it.

I liked the cover and the premise sounded promising. I should have felt sorry for the heroine, but I didn’t. I should have swooned at manly men Dillon and Brett, but I didn’t. Sometimes you just don’t make the connection. Doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. Lots of people liked Texas Tangle so you may too. After all we all can’t like the same food, men or books. That’s what makes the world go round. I did like Merlin the donkey.

Nikki Kimball has definitely been dealt a raw deal. She’s newly divorced trying to make a go of running a horse breeding ranch. She’s got a douche of an ex-husband who cheated on her, her parents treat her no better than dirt on the bottom of their shoes (I really hated them) and a brother who she’s helping by letting him live at her ranch while he’s on probation - HE is the king of the douchebags; A-hole with a capital A. Nikki’s the poster child for bad luck when her house is burgled and everything gets stolen, her credit is ruined and her bank accounts emptied. Huh that's family for ya.

Then along comes white knight and neighbor Dillon Barrett and his best friend and foster brother Brett Anderson riding in on their white stallions - ok they were just driving trucks - to save the damsel in distress. Dillon and Brett are as close as any two blood brothers can be and when all three attended high school together 10 years ago both Dillon and Brett had a "thing" for Nikki, but neither followed through on asking her out and lost the opportunity when she ended up preggers and married to her douchey ex-husband. He who hesitates loses the girl boys!

So now years later, just when it seems like Nikki's life can’t get any worse, it's like she’s been gifted with these two hunky guys served up to her on a silver platter and now she's supposed to choose between them...or not.

I found it interesting that after almost ruining the brother bond between Dillon and Brett when they were in high school when Brett and Nikki shared a kiss - now they're just going to let bye-gones be bye-gones like nothing happened and share her in and out of bed? Or better yet one of them will be the bigger man and step aside so the other one can have a go at a relationship with her. Nope back to option #1 - they are going to live like one big happy family. Everybody into the bed!

This book just wasn’t for me but that doesn’t mean much. I'm not going to claim that I read or like a lot of ménage stories. I've read them but they are not my read of choice. Texas Tangle does have lots of tangling in the sheets, on the kitchen table, in the front seat of a Jeep but one of the threesome scenes had a particular scenario that had me going whaaaaat? Did he really just asked her to stimulate that? Never read that request in a book before. It kind of had a WTF factor for me.

Had this book not been part of my TBR challenge, I would have finished the book, but probably wouldn't have written a review. My momma always told me if you don't have nothing nice to say - then say nothing at all.

From The Author's Website

Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Length: Novel
Read an Excerpt here

Thanks to her cheating ex-husband and her thieving brother, all horse breeder Nikki Kimball has left is a bruised heart, an over-drawn bank account and an empty home. When sex-on-legs Dillon Barnett and his brooding foster-brother Brett Anderson start showing more than just neighborly attention, Nikki is intrigued…and a little gun-shy.

Dillon and Brett have a history; back in high school, the two friends fought a bitter battle over Nikki. Now, ten years later, Brett still longs to be the man in Nikki’s life, but he’s determined to stand back and let Dillon win Nikki’s heart.

Society says Nikki must choose between the two men she loves. Is Nikki strong enough to break all the rules in order to find happiness?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Review: Make Me, Sir

Making the Grade: A



For My Thoughts


I wasn’t going to do it. I wasn’t going to start this book but who am I kidding - I can’t resist the allure of the Masters of the Shadowlands even if it is the last book Cherise Sinclair has published in the series. Please, please, please don’t make me wait too long until the next book Ms Sinclair. Does begging work? Not at Club Shadowlands usually but I’m hoping Ms. Sinclair takes pity on me and releases another book soon.

When a good friend of Gabrielle Renard’s goes missing from a BDSM club Gabi is determined to help in the FBI investigation any way she can. Word on he street is that several more woman are to be taken from similar clubs and sold at an auction into sexual slavery. The kidnappers appear to be targeting young women who are disobedient and although Gabi isn’t into the BDSM scene since she did dabble in the lifestyle in college, she's more than willing to go undercover as a decoy if it means helping find her friend Kim. Although Gabrielle works for the FBI - she’s a victim specialist - not a trained FBI field agent. And Gabi is not a sub and the Doms at Club Shadowlands will not be aware she is working undercover for the FBI when she agrees to join the submissive training program except Shadowlands Owner Master Z.

Oh dear God Gabi - what have gotten yourself into? Being a sub + acting bratty = no deed goes unpunished at Club Shadowlands.

Marcus Atherton is the new trainer at Shadowlands and he's totally suspicious when Master Z asks him to take on a new trainee - but it’s Master Z’s club - so take on a new trainee he does. Master Marcus has no tolerance for rude, disobedient subs and working with the newest trainee Gabi is going to push his patience to the limits.

There were times I felt very sorry for poor Gabi knowing what she was going to have to endure. Every time she deliberately misbehaved I cringed wondering what “punishment” the Doms or Master Marcus would conjure up for her. And they didn’t disappoint. Let me just say ginger root - seriously? Who knew it had such burning qualities? Silly me - I thought you just used it for cooking.

Given how intuitive these Doms are, Marcus knows early on something just isn’t right with Gabi or how she’s acting. Her bratty behaviour seems to be totally out of character and Marcus instinctively knows she’s hiding something. With the help of the other Doms, Marcus conducts a little experiment on Gabi to break down her defences - conveniently when Master Z isn’t around to protect her cover.

Subspace - The final frontier. These are the sexy voyages of the subs and their Doms. You want to know what that cryptic sentence means - you gonna have to read the book.

This book was by far the longest and most involved story yet. The suspense plot involving the kidnapping and trafficking ring was interwoven throughout the book and was definitely tense and keep me on edge wondering how it was going to play out.

I say this with every book I‘ve read in this series by Ms. Sinclair, but I do think that is was the best one yet. Given the way the story arc with the sex slaver traffickers ended, I firmly believe that this storyline is not over. Someone at Club Shadowlands is not the good Dom they appear to be.

I can’t wait for the next instalment. Whose story is it going to be? How long do I have to wait? Please Ms. Sinclair answer the burning questions. Inquiring minds need to know!

From Goodreads:
Her job is to make his life miserable. His job is to make her submit. Whose heart will surrender first?

Across the country, rebellious BDSM submissives are being systematically kidnapped, one from each club. When her friend falls prey to the slavers, FBI victim specialist Gabrielle volunteers to be bait in a club not yet hit: the Shadowlands.

She finds that being a bratty sub comes naturally, especially when she gets to twit the appallingly conservative Master of the trainees. But she soon discovers he’s not as stuffy as she’d thought. Or as mean. She’d expected punishment, even humiliation, but she sure never expected to fall in love with a damned lawyer.

Courtesy of a prima donna ex-wife, Marcus loathes disobedient submissives. When the club owner insists he admit an incredibly bratty trainee, he’s furious. But as he comes to know Gabrielle and sees the alluring sweetness beneath the sass, he starts to fall for her.

Unfortunately, Marcus isn't the only one who believes the feisty redhead is a prize worth capturing. And in the world of the slaver, such treasure is worth a hefty fee.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: Love You More


Making the Grade: A




For My Thoughts

It takes all of two pages before Love You More by Lisa Gardner grabs you by the throat, squeezes and has you gasping - WTF is going on.

A young, pretty, female state trooper, her dead husband seemingly killed by her own hand and her missing six-year-old daughter. If you aren’t intrigued by this story, how it’s going to unfold and what long time friends State Police Detective Bobby Dodge and Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren have to do with the case...then you are stronger than me. I couldn’t wait to see where this complicated case was headed. Love You More is a barn-burning, page-turning, I dare you to try and put me down kinda book.

Although D.D. and Bobby appear in several other of Gardner’s books (this is their fifth book together), I think it’s fair to say this outstanding book can definitely be read as a stand alone. It was great to see D.D. and Bobby Dodge back in the saddle again working a case. D.D. is a great female character. She’s a ball-bustin’ Boston Cop, smart, a little rough around the edges, but there is no mistaking that she knows how to work a case and get results. Bobby definitely takes a supporting role - this is all the D.D. Warren show. We are also offered just a little glimpse of D.D‘s private life as she deals with a huge personal issue at the same time as she’s under the gun to solve this case.

Love You More is told from two different points of view. Gardner keeps feeding us little scraps of information as told from State Trooper Tessa Leoni’s first person point of view. I kept wondering if Tessa Leoni was really fooling everyone but then I went back to those first two pages and kept wondering to myself - WTF is going on in this book. It was clear as the case unfolded that Tessa Leoni was a master planner, a highly skill strategist and at the end of it all, I admired the lengths Leoni went to and the pain and hardship she endured for her daughter. More than anything Tessa loved her daughter Sophie to infinity and beyond.

We also get insight into the police investigation from D.D. and Bobby’s point of view. We get to see their decisions, the direction the case is headed and the assumptions being made based on the evidence in this very confusing investigation. No one is above suspicion including prime suspect Tessa Leoni and as the case progresses her police co-workers and an old childhood friend.

The twists and turned did not stop. It was tense, it was dramatic, it was masterful in it’s story-telling and all the pieces of the puzzle lined up like ducks in a row. I had no idea where the story was going and I love when a story takes you on the kind of journey. I wanted so bad to keep reading and was dying to find out what was going to happen next. At one point mid-way through I thought I had a handle on what was going on and was patting myself on the back thinking I was all that and oh soooooooo smart. D’oh I wasn’t even close.

There is only one thing that I have a quibble about and that is throughout this whole book D.D. has to come to terms with a life changing moment in her life and she needs to tell her current love about the monumental change that is about to affect their lives. I was disappointed that this issue was relegated to about a paragraph with no resolution. No face to face meeting just a quick phone conversation of “Alex…we need to talk”.

I can only hope and assume that Gardner is planning on dealing with this little bombshell in the next book.

This was an amazing book and I think it would make a kick-ass movie. Loved, loved, loved it.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Bantam; First Edition edition (March 8, 2011)
Read The First Chapter

Pushed to the brink by an abusive husband, state police trooper Tessa Leoni finally snapped and shot him in self-defense. But Tessa isn’t talking–not about her dead husband, her battered face, or her missing six-year old daughter. Now, Detective D.D. Warren will have to race against the clock to unearth family secrets, solve a murder and save a child.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Review: The Reluctant Nude


Making the Grade: A



For My Thoughts

I’ve read three books by Meg Maguire (two in a row this week alone) and her alter ego Cara McKenna and if there is one thing I’ve noticed about her style of writing is that she has the ability to simply take two characters and tell a fabulous, emotional, heartfelt story. No real secondary characters of note to cloud the canvas, no crazy antics, just a well told story that grabs you and makes you care about her characters.

M.L. Emery was a child protégé at 12, a renowned sculptor but for the past eight years by choice he has been living a quite existence and doing this thing in the picturesque countryside of Cape Breton (second book in a row with a Canadian setting. I believe Meg Maguire is secretly Canadian and I approve).

I thought Ms. Maguire did a great job of capturing Max’s French essence from the cadence of his speech pattern, his expressions and his penchant for wine and bread and cheese. I could actually hear Max’s French accent in my head and I definitely got iz French vibe while reading this story.

Fallon Frost is a lobbyist and environmentalist, who has agreed to suspend her life including her job for months and pose reluctantly, for a commissioned nude sculpture for a man she detests - Donald Forrester.

Max and Fallon do not start off their journey under the best of terms. These are two people who for their own reasons have entered into an uneasy working relationship to create a masterpiece. The problem at the start is that neither one of them really has their heart in the project.

I will admit when I was about 30% into the story I still had no clear vision as to why Fallon had agreed to go along with this preposterous plan to have her likeness permanently carved in stone, financed by a man infatuated with her, who she disliked immensely.

I had no such qualms as to M.L. Emery’s motivation. This quirky, dark, sexy Frenchman definitely marched to the beat of his own drummer and I found his character totally intriguing. He made Fallon uncomfortable and wary of him while being tantalized and intrigued at the same time. I totally felt the same way.

I liken Max to a mad scientist. He was fascinated with capturing imperfect models in marble and in fact has numerous pieces missing limbs and body parts littering his property. Max didn't want to do the likeness of Fallon, but realized the money - $700,000 being offered by her “fiancé” for his latest work of art was too good to turn down. The money would allow him to do the work he loved and not the commercial nonsense he had no tolerance for. I totally got Max’s motivation.

As these two work together in close quarters, Fallon nude for the most part, Max absorbed in his work, their relationship grows and loves starts to blossom between them and when Max discovers the true reasons behind Fallon’s agreeing to pose - he feels betrayed, hurt and angry that Fallon would allow his craft to be debased and herself used in that manner.

He is totally gutted. Here’s an emotional passage showcasing Max’s feelings:

He sighed and set he cat down, eyes caught once again by the stone shape of the woman he’d driven from this house. He stared at the sky, crisscrossed by a thousand mullions. At this moment his home looked an awful lot like a cage. Without Fallon it looked like ribs with no heart beating inside them. He rubbed that spot on his own chest, trying to ease the ache. Quietly insert my own sobs here.

My absolute favorite part of The Reluctant Nude was the epilogue. It was a wonderful and satisfying ending to a beautifully told love story wrapped up with a nice, neat bow.

From Goodreads:
Chipping away at her resistance, one touch at a time…

Fallon Frost’s late foster mother had done so much to heal the wounds of her damaged childhood. So when a lecherous developer plans to bulldoze her old home to make room for a strip mall, the practical, ordered life Fallon has built for herself is threatened.

Then he makes a twisted proposal. He’ll leave the land alone if she poses nude for a sculpture that’ll end up in his collection. Seeing no other choice, she heads for Nova Scotia—only to find something totally unexpected. A sexy, hot-blooded, infuriating sculptor.

Guarded, sexually detached Fallon is a challenge Max Emery can’t wait to tackle. Yet with each tap of his chisel, he uncovers a woman who rekindles a dream he thought lost. Home, family…love. And the closer he gets to her core, the harder it becomes to accept that he’s carving her naked body for another man’s eyes.

As progress on the sculpture almost grinds to a halt, their fragile fantasy world collapses under the weight of reality. Threatening Fallon’s one chance to save her foster mother’s land…and any chance she and Max have to find love.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Sunday *Sigh*: Wakey, Wakey!



Ahhhhh everyone looks forward to a well deserved day off work - that‘s what Friday was for me. Whether you call it a vacation day, a personal day, an unexpected sick day the results are the same...no commuting or traffic, no phone calls beeping in my ear, no Dilbert cubicle, no emails, no emergencies, no catastrophes. Just a day to do whatever I want whenever I want whether it be laze around, read to my hearts content, watch copious amounts of daytime or sleep till noon...no alarm clock to awaken me at 5:45am...ummmmm wait...What.Is.That.Noise? It’s 5:45am and I hear music playing! Arrrrgh!

Yes being the creature of habit that I am, I sabotaged my own day off. Yes I set my alarm clock before I went to bed Thursday night obviously not a thought looming in my head of my impending day off and yes it went off at 5:45am just like clockwork. Yes I am a loser!

After my initial disorientation, you know when you wake up and you can’t remember what day of the week it is; do I or don’t I have to go to work today? There was some name calling and bad words were yelled but after a quick trip to the potty, I tumbled myself back into bed, pulled the covers back up and snuggled under their warmth easily returning to the land of peaceful slumber. A little bump in the road to the start of my day off, but I got over it quickly and when I did finally wake up (no need to tell you want time it was), I did all the things I wanted to do and more, but mostly is was just so great not have to go to work.

If there is a silver lining - my day could have started out worse than being woken up at 5:45am on my day off - I could have forgotten to set my alarm on a day I was supposed to work. I think I like the way things turned out better.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Review: Going Down


Making the Grade: B



For My Thoughts

I always like the premise when someone, whether it’s the H/h is trying to hide their true identity for whatever reason. In Going Down by Shelli Stevens, Ellie/Eleanor Owens is afraid for her life, doesn’t know who she can trust and she certainly doesn’t trust the law. You know it’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out and it’s always great to see how the story plays out.

Yoga instructor Ellie is a grand jury witness supposed to testify against her ex-boyfriend for his drug trafficking crimes. She's down with the plan until she gets threatened by one of Chicago’s "finest" boys in blue and then she heads for the hills - or Wyattville Oregon. Where better to hide out and lay low than in Hicksville until the trial is over. It’s a great plan til the Po-po in the form of Travis Wyatt comes a calling - even if it is just an innocent, friendly visit. First rule of thumb when hiding out...NEVER run from the Police - it instantly makes you look guilty and raises their suspicions.

Travis and Ellie spark as hot as firecrackers together right from the start. Yes Ellie is running away and Travis is in pursuit, but he does manage to stop her from going ass over tea kettle off the side of a cliff. She isn’t getting away from him that easy!

Wyattville is a small town and if there was a prince, then it would be Travis and his family is the closest thing to royalty Wyattville has. And the studly quotient is pretty high too. Besides Travis, he has two equally hot and gorgeous brothers Todd and Trevor.

The relationship between Travis and Ellie escalates very quickly and it’s only a few days before they are declaring their lust...errr love for one another. They certainly had lots of chemistry and since this is a relatively shorter story - things move at a fast pace. I guess it’s easier to forget your mistrust of the police...especially when he’s got his hand down your pants.

When the inevitable happens and Travis discovers Ellie’s true identity, he proves to Ellie that he is trustworthy and actually goes above and beyond to stand by his woman.

Vanilla to Red Velvet in under 10 seconds baby! Eating cupcakes has never been as erotic as eating the ones from Katie’s Cakes - I will never be able to look at a cupcake the same way again...Yum.

I will definitely be checking out the stories of playful fire-fighter Todd and the darker side of Trevor and their lady loves.

From Goodreads:
Holding Out for a Hero, Book 1

Eleanor Owen needs to get out of Chicago and quick. It’s not that she doesn’t want to obey the subpoena to testify against her drug-trafficking ex-boyfriend. It’s making it to the witness stand alive, should a dirty cop make good on his threats.

Tiny, remote Wyattsville, Oregon looks like the perfect place to disappear, but it’s hard to blend into the woodwork when one of the town’s infamous namesakes sends her heart racing. Worse, Mr. Tall, Hot and Packing is the town sheriff, which means she should stay as far away from him as possible.

Tyson Wyatt is positive the sexy new girl in town is hiding something. Question is, what? He vows to feel out her secrets—including what she feels like beneath him. Preferably naked. Until then, he’s not buying the story she’s selling.

Their chemistry is sheet-melting hot, and Ellie realizes much too late that the man with the badge is as dangerous to her heart as her ex is to her life…

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review: The Sweetest Thing

Two Men Are One Too Many . . .
Tara has a thousand good reasons not to return to the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington. Yet with her life doing a major crash-and-burn, anywhere away from her unfulfilled dreams and sexy ex-husband will do. As Tara helps her two sisters get their newly renovated inn up and running, she finally has a chance to get things under control and come up with a new plan for her life.

But a certain tanned, green-eyed sailor has his own ideas, such as keeping Tara hot, bothered . . . and in his bed. And when her ex wants Tara back, three is a crowd she can't control-especially when her deepest secret reappears out of the blue. Now Tara must confront her past and discover what she really wants. If she's lucky, she might just find that everything her heart desires is right here in Lucky Harbor.

Making the Grade: B+




For My Thoughts

The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis takes place about 6 months after Simple Irresistible and while the sisters are still getting to know each other and work together to make their inherited Inn turned B&B into a success they still have a ways to go. I loved the dynamics between the sisters and it‘s one of my favorite parts of the series. Their relationship is a work in progress and although sisters Maddie, Tara and Chloe barely know each other, there’s no doubt they are 100% committed to working on their sister act.

Middle sister and control freak Tara Daniels aka The Southern Belle aka The Steel Magnolia gets center stage in The Sweetest Thing. She never planned on staying in Lucky Harbor yet can’t seem to leave her sisters and the oh so delicious Ford - even if she has been giving him the cold shoulder the last six months.

And well if Ford isn’t just The Sweetest Thang than I don’t know what is!

At six-feet-three-inches, Ford was pure testosterone and sinew. He wore low-slung, button-fly Levi‘s and a white button-down shoved up to his elbows. His brown hair was sun-kissed, his green eyes sharp, his smile ready. Everything about him said ready, from his tough build to the air of confidence he wore like other men wore cologne.!

Tara and Ford have a lot of history, teenage lovers who had no chance of making a go of it when they were 17 years old, an unplanned pregnancy and a daughter they put up for adoption and now 17 years later - they both get a second chance at love between themselves and their daughter who suddenly shows up to spend the summer in Lucky Harbor in the hopes of getting to know her biological parents.

The town of Lucky Harbor is quaint and filled with quirky characters including the feisty, town gossip and loveable busybody Lucille who uses Twitter and Facebook to conduct a poll to get the townsfolk to vote on who Tara should chose between the loveable hometown hero Ford or the Ex-hubby and NASCAR racer Logan who’s made an unexpected pit stop in Lucky Harbor in the hopes of winning Tara back. The antics between Ford and Logan to outdo one another to impress Tara are pretty hilarious.

Shalvis continues with the quips at the start of each chapter which I thoroughly enjoyed in Simply Irresistible and continued to find delightful in The Sweetest Thing. Here are just a couple of gems.

“There is no snooze button on life.”
“A conclusion is the place you get to when your tired of thinking.:
“If it’s going to be two against one, make sure you aren’t the one.“

And thanks to The Sweetest Thing I now have a new favorite saying: “Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit” said in my best Paula Dean southern twang voice”. I foresee me using this...a lot. It makes me giggle even now just thinking about saying it.

The Sweetest Thing is chock full of love, laughs, touching family moments and is a great second instalment to the series. I can’t wait for wild-child Chloe’s story paired with the staid and responsible Cop Sawyer. I have a feeling it may be the best one in the series yet.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Review: Caught On Camera

Wilderness survival television star Dominic Tyler (Ty) and his assistant Kate Somersby are stranded in a remote cabin during a freak winter storm. Things look pretty bleak—until they make a fire and strip off their wet clothes….
Act I—set up
Survive This! is Kate's life…as are unscripted fantasies about Ty, her boss and best friend. But when Kate is suddenly injured, Ty decides filming is too dangerous for her. This will be Kate's last adventure for a while.
Act II—plot point
Kate is furious and threatens to quit. But Ty needs her. So what can he do? Keep her occupied by filming every minute of their intense and definitely unrehearsed sex!
Act III—cliff-hanger
It's Kate's choice now: Her hard-won career? Or end credits featuring dangerously wild sex with Ty? Ha. Some choice. But either way, the final cut is guaranteed to be a thrilling ride!

Making the Grade: B+



For My Thoughts

There is only one reason I decided to read this book...Meg Maguire is the alter ego of Cara McKenna. Last year I discovered Ms. McKenna and her book Willing Victim and really, really really liked it. So when I started following her on Twitter and discovered she had an alter ego - I knew I would be reading Meg Maguire’s debut Harlequin Blaze Caught On Camera. That’s not to say I may not have picked this book up based on the cover/back blurb but since Meg Maguire = Cara McKenna, this book quickly went on the auto-buy list.

I love reality TV and Survivor is one of my favourite shows, so the premise behind Caught on Camera which is based on a reality show Survive This! similar to the Bear Grylls show Man vs. Wild with a hot Aussie host Dom don’t-call-me-Dominic-because-I-hate-it Tyler, with his equally hot Aussie accent and quaint sayings I knew regardless of anything else I was going to like this book (love me some Aussies). In addition this book takes place mainly in the wilds of Saskatchewan and I’m Canadian - what’s not to like about this book so far? Nothing that I could see.

Caught on Camera was a flirty, fun, surprisingly suspenseful, emotional read. Who knew that being stranded and isolated in the Saskatchewan wilderness would be so cathartic for examining and re-evaluating your life, your feelings and finally make you realize what’s really important in life.

Ty and Kate have been working together for three years in some pretty extreme and bizarre situations all over the world. They both think of each other as their best friend and know each other inside and out. Yet being stranded together in some of the most extreme conditions they’ve ever faced yet quickly reveals just how little they really do know about one another. Up until this point they’ve never crossed the line between friends and co-workers (although they‘ve both thought about it...a lot), but things are about to change in a big way.

Ty and Kate’s time spent alone was almost like an intense three day long therapy session. There are no secondary characters, no sub-plots to carry the story. Just Ty and Kate and their unscripted struggle to survive in a real life version of their reality show Survive This! And Maguire sure does make them struggle...after all that which doesn‘t kill you, makes you stronger. Take a little dog sled mishap, throw in a blizzard, a chimney fire, an unexpected meeting with an animal trap, mix in two emotionally scarred and stubborn people and Caught on Camera delivers an emotional wallop right up to the very end. Ty’s grand gesture at the end was so romantic and sweet...seriously - the Aussie redeemed himself beautifully.  I loved it!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Sunday Sigh: Ahhhhhhhh-CHOOOOOOOO !


I am a loud person in general. I laugh LOUD, I talk LOUD, I cough LOUD and when I sneeze - it’s a full bodied, no holding back, coming from the depths of my soul sneeze and it’s LOUD. At work I have people in cubicles 3 rows over sending me emails asking me if I’m alright and my Team Lead emailing me “Bless You”.

What is the point of all this drivel about myself? Patience people patience. If I had exhibited a bit more patience earlier this week - I wouldn’t be writing this blog post right now. Now that I‘ve properly set the stage - let‘s continue.

On my way to work one morning this week I, as I often do decided to take a short cut through a plaza parking lot very close to my home to avoid a particularly long red light when making a left hand turn. Yes I hate to wait, yes I should leave myself more time to get to work and yes if we all had 20/20 hindsight we would all do things differently. Me I wouldn’t have taken the shortcut Wed morning but what’s done is done.

The big difference on this morning is that once I turned into the parking lot I was overcome by an extended sneezing episode. I sneezed at least 3 possibly 4 times in a row and by the time it was all over and I opened my eyes, I had slammed into a cement light standard. In case you don’t know it - it’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open. Don’t believe me? Try it some time.

Everything happened within the blink of an eye; a split second and to say I was in shock is an understatement. The crash and the airbag going off sounded like a shotgun blast. I had a hard time processing what had happened (and truthfully still can‘t believe it). My first thought was to call my sister so she could email my BFF at work so she could advise the powers that be that I wouldn’t be into work. How’s that for dedication? While on the phone, I discovered my left hand was covered in blood and I was dripping blood everywhere. I had gashed the ring finger on my left hand somehow and it was bleeding profusely. Thank goodness that was the worst of my injuries. Small blessings people.

Since I was the sole injured party and the cement base of the light standard hadn’t sustained any damage, I decided to try and drive my car home - from which I was less than a minute away from. I knew there was too much damage for me to drive to work, but I was hoping I could at least get the car home and I did carefully and slowly.

So my day was pretty much taken up with calling my Insurance company, I eventually discovered that I had to get the Police involved since I hit a light standard (they had to confirm no damage), arranging a rental car, finding a body shop and trying to decide if the gash on my finger was bad enough that it might require stitches (I wanted to avoid the Emergency Room at all costs) . Due to the awkward placement of the cut right on my knuckle I decided stitches probably wouldn’t help and did my own home doctoring with some creative bandaging.

So here I am a few days later with an assortment of colourful bruises and a banged up knee, but after much reflection - the results of my sneezing fit could have been much, much worse. Sure my car needs extensive repairs, but I wasn’t seriously hurt - if you don’t count my ego and no one was killed.

Now I just have to live down the embarrassment of telling this story over and over and over. And I must mention my co-workers and all their good natured teasing including an awesome April First Day’s joke they played on me where they called pretending to be my Insurance company to advise me my accident would NOT be covered because it was caused by sneezing. We all got a good laugh over it - well them more so than me.

So ends my tale of Sneezy and the Crash Test Dummy. Next time you feel the urge to sneeze - watch out for cement light standards!

Check out a couple pictures below of the damage my poor little innocent car sustained.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Review: Lean On Me (Masters of the Shadowlands, #4)


Making the Grade: A-



For My Thoughts


Si, Si Senior!

So I wasn’t going to start Lean on Me (Book 4 in the Shadowlands series) by Cherise Sinclair so soon after finishing book 3. Not because I haven’t loved all the books so far - they are some of the most intensely erotic books I have ever read and seriously the Masters at Club Shadowlands are highly addictive. I just planned on taking a little break since there is only 1 more book left in the series and I wanted to delay and savour and extend my series reading experience as long as possible.

Needless to say last week after finishing Breaking Free and finding out book 4 was about the easy-going, laid-back bartender Cullen O’Keefe - I started Lean on Me right away. So much for any delayed gratification on my part. But then again, I’ve never been good at denying myself anything.

Sexy Cullen O’Keefe - Arson Investigator by day, bartender and Trainer of the subs by night at Club Shadowlands. As their trainer - he doesn’t “do” the subs...well at least he didn’t before Andrea Eriksson entered the program. Cullen was somewhat forced/blackmailed, call it what you will to accept her in the trainee program at Shadowlands, but he was going to make sure she deserved the opportunity to be a trainee.

Andrea is no shrinking violet...she’s tall and muscular from hours spent working hard at her day job at her cleaning agency...in fact her best friend Antonio (whose acquaintance with Cullen was her in at Shadowlands) calls her Rambolita. Her first night at the Club she acts and dresses more like a Domme in her leather pants and kick-ass boots. How the heck was she ever going to survive and submit to being a sub? Me thinks Andrea is going to try Master Cullen’s patience hard. Ay dios mio...holla, hot damn another winner! I was well and truly hooked with this storyline early on and any thoughts I had about putting off reading this book flew right out the window.

Andrea has a problem with men getting to close. She barely survived an attempted rape when she was younger and it’s made her wary around men...she tends to strike out first and ask questions later...not exactly a good quality to have in a Dom/s setting. Also Doms tend to frown upon that kind of behaviour and then they tend to dish out some creatively delicious forms of punishment.

Andrea pushed one such Master a little to far and I must says Master Nolan must have excelled in the Boy Scouts and earned ALL his rope tying badges - except I don’t think they teach his kind of skill with knots in the Boy Scouts - holy Muy Caliente *turns the fan on high speed*!!!

Andrea also learned a very important lesson about faking or lying about anything - another very serious offence at Club Shadowlands...saddle up Sweetie and ride’em cowboy! Add Master Cullen to the mix or maybe in this case it was Cowboy Cullen and this lesson on the perils of lying or faking it was hot, hot, hot *fans self repeatedly*!

And Master Cullen also brings new meaning to the tern “in the doghouse”...errr I mean “on the doghouse”! I told you these Doms are one creative bunch.

In Lean on me we got to see a lot relationship building between Cullen and Andrea outside the Shadowlands environment and a glimpse into their every day lives more so than the other books. Sinclair’s books just keep getting better with each one I read. I love these books and sadly I only have one left to read. How long will I last before I start it? Knowing me...not long.

From Goodreads:

Previous Book: Breaking Free
Genre: BDSM Erotic Contemporary

Andrea wants to submit, but not to just any so-called Dom. He has to be tougher than the slum-bred bullies she grew up with. She'd given up finding a true Dom when her friend finagles her a place as a trainee in an exclusive BDSM club with the powerful Shadowlands Masters. Andrea's thrilled...and terrified.

Forced to accept an unknown submissive into his carefully run trainee program, Master Cullen is furious. Not only is the young woman new to BDSM, but she's unsuited to her role--armoured in leather like a Domme, she's more liable to punch a Dom than kneel. He decides to push her right back out the door. But as he ruthlessly intimidates her, punishes her, then comforts her, his glimpses of the woman inside the emotional armour intrigue him and her utter surrender captures his heart.

Although Master Cullen is famous for his unfettered lifestyle, Andrea believes he might be interested in her, until she discovers he's not just a bartender--he's a cop. Maybe he'd overlook her past brush with the law, but when another trainee accuses her of stealing money, Andrea's sure she's lost the Master she wanted with all her heart.

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: BDSM theme and content (includes/not limited to: bondage, spanking, tethering), voyeurism.