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Friday, July 29, 2011

Borrowing The Bride by Roni Denholtz

Borrowing The Bride by Roni Denholtz
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (253 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Sunflower

Brett Ryerson knows that Julie Merritt, his first love, is planning to marry a real creep. To convince Julie her fiancĂ©, Warren, is the wrong man, Brett “borrows” her for several days. He plans to introduce her to a few key players from Warren’s past—and prove to her she’s making a huge mistake.

Julie, on the other hand, has her own reasons for going along with Brett’s wild plan. Truthfully, she never completely forgot her first love, and the more time they spend together, the closer she is drawn to him.

When danger threatens, Brett realizes he doesn’t want to let her go.

Can this borrowed bride become a permanent wife?

We've all heard the term something borrowed, something blue, etc. Usually it's the bride that does the borrowed, blue, old and new. In this case, however, it's the bride that's being borrowed! Not just by anyone, however. The “Borrower” happens to be her ex boyfriend, Brett. He sweeps into her life years after their relationship is over, warning her she needs to know some critical information about the man she's engaged to marry.

Okay, so it's a little strange, odd even, for Brett to be showing up like this, wanting to whisk her away to meet some people. But Julie will go with it- for now. Does this mean she has some doubts of her own? Or is it something more? Oh, such suspense! And, is there some leftover chemistry between the two? Major conflict already.

With each person Brett takes Julie to see, he anxiously awaits her thoughts. It's not as if he's trying to ruin her engagement, or at least, not without honest reasons. What does he know, and what do these people know about Warren that's so important for Julie to know?

With plenty of intrigue and great pacing, Borrowing the Bride takes the reader on a whirlwind ride. The characters that each play a role in the story are quirky and realistic. Julie and Brett make a dynamic pair, and the fact that they have such a history keeps it entertaining. The question stays with me in each chapter. What's going to happen? What secrets are going to be revealed? What choices will Julie make after hearing these stories? There are plenty of obstacles to get through before Brett and Julie's happily ever after.

Some of the conflict and untold secrets are a bit weak, but not enough to make for a bad ending. Overall it's enjoyable anda good book. If you like reading about a hero and heroine that have shared a past and have a second chance, then add Borrowing the Bride to your list of books to read.

Highland Arms by Cathie Dunn

Highland Arms by Cathie Dunn
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (200 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Betrayed by her brother’s lies, Catriona MacKenzie is banished from her Edinburgh home to her godmother’s remote manor in the Highlands. While her father ponders her fate, Catriona’s insatiable curiosity leads her straight into trouble--and into the arms of a notorious Highlander.

Five years after an ill-fated Jacobite rebellion, Rory Cameron works as a smuggler to raise money for the cause--until Catriona uncovers a plot against him and exposes his activities. Now Rory is faced with a decision that could save their lives or destroy them both.

Taken away from her privileged life in Edinburgh because of her brother Angus setting her up then lying to her parents, Catriona MacKenzie finds herself in the harsh Scottish Highlands and soon tangled up with life-threatening intrigues that she knows nothing about. Her curiosity puts her and others in danger that escalates into suffering for all of them.

The compelling, big, handsome Highlander Rory Cameron, who is a distant relative of Aunt Meg, Catriona’s godmother whom she has been sent to live with, is attracted to the tall, black-haired, amber-eyed Catriona. But when he learns her identity, he is hostile toward her even though his body roars to life with desire every time he sees or even thinks about her. However, Rory’s clandestine “business” takes precedents over his personal needs. His efforts to scare her away nearly get her killed. His rejection of her erodes Catriona’s sense of self-worth even more making her feel that “nobody wants her”.

The despicable brother Angus and his cohort John Henderson are master manipulators and make life miserable for her and the Highlanders that have weapons hidden that Angus and John want. These two along with spies and Redcoats that are determined to squelch a Scottish rebellion create some heartbreaking events that show just how cruel some will be to get what they want regardless of how much it hurts others.

Since I always long for a strong, capable heroine, I kept hoping Catriona would do more constructive planning and ecome more capable of getting out of tight situations without having to be rescued again and again. However, her character does gain some depth as the plot unfolds. Her true concern for Aunt Meg and her desperate love for Rory shines through. Also her comparison of life in Edinburgh to life in the Highlands reveals a change in her values and her ability to judge what is worthwhile and what is frivolous in life.

Cathie Dunn’s descriptions of the magnificent, unpredictable Scottish Highlands and Catriona’s sense of belonging there is remarkable.. Ms. Dunn’s description of the squalid part of Edinburgh in the early eighteen century assails the senses—one can almost smell the fetid filth and feel the dankness that enshrouds the narrow dark alleys that are so different from the section of Edinburgh where Catriona’s family lived.

With the help of friends, Rory and Catriona find their happy-ever-after as their beloved Highlands moves into a new era with new challenges.

The Vampire Next Door by Ashlyn Chase

The Vampire Next Door by Ashlyn Chase
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (354 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 3 books
Reviewed by Peppermint

In this third installment of Chase’s lively, sexy, paranormal trilogy, we meet witch Morgaine, who is deathly afraid of the dark, and her vigilante vampire neighbor Sly, who has his reasons for hating sunlight. Sly needs Morgaine’s magic to help heal a broken fang, but with further help, and sometimes hindrance, from the wacky apartment dwellers around them, they may become each other’s last hope for a normal life…

An apartment building full of supernatural creatures is bound to be a riot. When one supernatural moves out it seems like another moves right in, and when they move into the “love shack” sparks are guaranteed to fly.

Morgaine seems to be an unlikely mate of a vampire with her agoraphobia (fear of public places or leaving safe places) and nyctophobia (fear of the dark). Therefore, when she fancies the owner of the building's vampire papa she is more than a bit confused. It could never work can it?

Morgaine seemed to be the glue that helps things together throughout the story. She definitely keeps her cousin Gwyneth in line, and even the other residents in the building seem to come to her with their problems. Sly was no exception to this, he could think of no one else to help him in his piling issues. She may have suffered a few phobias but she was definitely one of the strongest characters throughout the story. One thing I do regret is not getting to know more about her background story. I know she suffered years ago which caused her to not date for a long time; I would have just liked to have learned more about that incident.

Sly is everything but. There is nothing slick about a vampire. He is the kindest hearted and most genuine male in the building and story. I love that he refused to take handouts from others and is determined to figure out a way to do things himself. Especially with a daughter married to an athlete, he could have easily just let them take care of him. Moreover, he is somewhat of a tortured soul, with the tragic way he was forced to become a vampire and deal with the consequences for the rest of his life. Luckily, with Morgaine by his side he can find a little relief from his vampire vices as well as a little relief for his manly needs.

While I found the characters within this story entertaining, the plot was just a little on the dry side. I would like to have seen the plotline with Sly’s maker drawn out a little longer and a more climactic. It seemed to end a little too easily. The wine/whiskey making was the plot that really carried the story for me. I was just as excited to see a good mixture as well as the characters in the story.

The characters, whether they are main or supporting, really drive this story. With entertaining supernatural creatures around every corner this story is a real hoot, growl, spell and whatever else supernatural creatures do.

Rock Bottom by Cate Masters

Rock Bottom by Cate Masters
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (228 pgs)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Sunflower

Can success trap you at Rock Bottom?

For rocker Jet Trently, success means playing the same platinum-selling hits ad nauseum. Philly rock journalist Billie Prescott thrives on covering the latest music releases. When her editor sends her to Malibu to cover Jet's reality dating show, Rock Bottom, her blog's success keeps her trapped there. Her life's at Rock Bottom too, until she hears Jet's new songs. They touch her heart as his music did when she was fifteen. When Jet touches her heart as well, will the reality show ruin the real thing?

Reality TV is taking over the world, and Rock Bottom, the reality show featuring a rock singer meeting women is Billie's latest assignment, much to her dismay. She has to deal with a bunch of snobby women competing for Jet's attention and affection, and not to mention, dealing with the singer himself.

No matter how many times Billie begs to be taken off this assignment and to come home, her boss doesn't let her. So she's got to stay there and suck it up. She's got a job to do, and she'd darn well better deliver! It's not easy listening to the contestants whine. She's got problems with someone getting into her cabin and messing around with her things, and she can't seem to stop thinking about Jet in a way that's more than just her job. Here comes trouble now!

Jet is sick and tired of the show, and he doesn't hide the fact at all. The first half of the book, Jet comes off as almost depressed, and closed off. He seems to have lost his way among the years, and I continuously wondered why. Of course it doesn't help that he's frustrated about not doing more with music instead of the dreaded show, but it seemed more to it than just that. Something about Billie made him feel more alive, but she had her reservations about him and kept her guard up, strictly professional. He wanted to break down the barriers of this reporter.

The path to Jet and Billie's happy ever after is a bit of a rocky one. Billie doesn't want to admit her feelings for Jet, and she dodges his feelings even though he sure they aren't one-sided. Then there's the fact that she's working at a story for the show, and his attention is supposed to be towards the contestants of the show -- and these ladies don't like the fact that Jet isn't giving them the time a day, other than what's required for the show. Though the story was off to a bit of a slow start, it picked up full steam after just a few chapters. I'm always intrigued with a novel that features a singer as the hero and heroine, and Rock Bottom hit the spot for me.

If you like contemporary stories with a sensuous romance, then add Rock Bottom to your list of books to read. It's fun, entertaining, and a great romance.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer

The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (347 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Aloe

Less than a hero’s welcome…

Returning to his family seat from Waterloo, Gervase Frant, seventh Earl of St Erth, could have expected more enthusiasm for his homecoming. His quiet cousin, stepmother, and young half-brother seem openly disappointed that he survived the wars. And when he begins to fall for his half-brother’s sweetheart, his chilly reception goes from unfriendly to positively murderous.

One of Heyer’s most suspenseful Regency romances, The Quiet Gentleman combines an ingenious mystery plot with her signature witty style and effervescently engaging characters.

Gervase may have inherited the family estate after his father’s death, but no one was very excited to see him come home…

This is another Regency Romance written by Ms. Heyer. She wrote numerous mysteries and romances and none of the ones I’ve read have disappointed me. Her writing style provides a lot of period detail and the plots move along slower than most modern works. That fits well with the time period she’s talking about and she always comes up with a well thought out story.

Ms. Heyer had an interest in people and how they behave because her characters are always authentic. Her main male character is just trying to stay alive and figure out who is trying to kill him. The biggest suspect is his stepbrother, who thought he would be the Earl because Gervase would get killed in the war. Ms. Heyer gives us two interesting young female characters; one all sweetness and grace with beauty and one who is very practical and handles any crisis with ease but is more plain.

Mix the pot with attempted murder, love, jealousy, and greed and you get a story that moves right along with several suspects. This author takes all these emotions and swirls a story together that make sense and surprises you with the solution. She also smoothes out all the emotional issues so things are calmer at the end of the story.

Why not visit Regency England with Ms. Heyer and follow the Earl on his quest to find out just exactly who wants him dead and why? And if he falls in love on the way there, who can complain?

Overlord by Anitra Lynn McLeod

Overlord by Anitra Lynn McLeod
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (257 pgs)
Heat Level: hot
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Verbena

His planet is his prison…and only she can set him free.

The Fringe, Book 2

After a year, Michael “Overlord” Parker finally knows who’s been pilfering his black market goods. Astonishingly, the elusive Bandit of Taiga isn’t a man. It’s a woman, an infuriating spitfire who’s half in love with Michael’s overly romanticized reputation.

Remarkably Average Mary exudes an intoxicating scent that Michael can’t quite puzzle out, even with his unique ability. As long as she remains bound and blindfolded, he has the advantage—and the bonus of tormenting the bane of his existence.

Mary’s deceptively innocent face has never failed her. Yet somehow she’s at the mercy of a man she knows only as “Commander”. His demands are simple. Surrender her methods of banditry, or surrender her body. As his essence invades her intuitive ability—and her remaining senses—she becomes increasingly frantic to escape before she yields all that and more to her compelling captor.

Their sensual sparring ignites, and Michael finds himself wanting to erase Overlord’s myth from her fantasies in favor of the real man. But first he has to foil the slippery little devil’s escape attempts. And find out who’s been using her to unknowingly help the empire wipe him off the face of his own planet.

Captive or captor? Sometimes the lines blur when matters of the heart take over.

Take Remarkably Average Mary No Last Name, or so she’d been dubbed since a very young age. There’s nothing average about this kick-ass chick. An expert thief with a colorful vocabulary and the fighting skills of any trained assassin, she’s got a knack for scaring off any would-be bounty hunters and undermining even the most advanced security defenses, including those of Michael Parker’s. With a personal mission that means more to her than her own life, she’s not about to fall for the attractive, albeit infuriatingly arrogant, man who calls himself Commander. Determined to escape with not only her secrets but her heart intact as well, she knows she must outwit him and sets about undermining his advances at every turn. But escaping a place like Windmere and a man like the Commander is easier said than done, especially when he has a few secrets of his own and another agenda in mind, one that involves getting close to her in a manner she never anticipated.

Co-man-dur, that’s what Mary insists on calling him. Michael knows she wants to get under his skin. Problem is; she’s succeeded, just not in the manner in which he’d intended. What started out as a game to pass the time, has turned into something a whole lot more serious. He’s never met a woman like Remarkably Average Mary, one that contradicts and challenges him at every angle, one that infuriates him to the point of wanting to strangle her, and one that sets his blood boiling with a savage need to dominate and control her in every intimate way imaginable. Although Michael has accumulated an obscene amount of wealth through some questionable means—more than any one man could ever want—it all came with a steep price. While his best friend serves as his conscience, so to speak, somehow, Remarkably Average Mary makes him all too aware of how much he still lacks in what matters most.

Book 2 in Anitra Lynn McLeod’s The Fringe series, Overlord is one of those stories that hooks you at the start with an exciting opening scene, then goes through a slower period of getting to know the characters before launching into some excitement once again. This is not one of those stories where the characters have an instant attraction, jump in the sack, then decide they’re in love. No way, this is one of those tales that grows on you, slowly building you up to the point where the climax is timed perfectly with the plot. There’s a lot of character development going on here, particularly with Michael. He does a lot of soul-searching and a lot of changing, all because of Mary. If there was one complaint I had, it was with Mary herself. On one hand, given her background and reasonable level of distrust, I understand why she did the things she did, but on the other hand, there were times I wanted to reach into the book and give her a good smack in the head. Alas, that is probably what makes this story so intriguing; it takes you through a gamut of emotions.

If there were any grammar/punctuation errors, they weren’t distracting enough to grab my attention. The author does a fine job with point-of-view shifts and setting description. Other than a few slow areas, this book was a good read and certainly sparked my interest in Ms. McLeod’s other stories in this series.

If you like an overbearing man with the idea that he can have whatever he wants, regardless the price, paired with a woman who’s hell bent on defying him at every opportunity and letting him know who’s really in charge, then grab a copy of Overlord by Anitra Lynn McLeod, you won’t be disappointed.

Military Brats: After Burn by Sherry D. Ficklin

Military Brats: After Burn by Sherry D. Ficklin
Publisher: Rebel Ink Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Young Adult
Length: Full Length (253 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Reece Barnet and her father have just relocated to sunny North Carolina, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to be exact. It's another new town and another new school. To make matters worse, just as Reece is starting to fit in a rash of bomb threats rocks her father's experimental aircraft squadron. When the authorities track the threats to Reece's school, she decides to do some investigating of her own. Unfortunately, the more Reece digs, the more it looks like her new boyfriend might be the culprit.

When Reece’s father is nearly killed, it becomes a race against time as Reece fights to protect her father, clear her boyfriend, and discover the surprising truth of the person behind it all.

Adults really ought to take teenagers more seriously…

Ms. Ficklin opened the story with a very effective nightmare sequence that immediately gave me insight into Reece’s character. In only a couple pages, I learned that her mother had died recently, about the problems at her old school, and how well Reece handles a crisis. By the end of the first chapter, I truly cared about Reece and wanted to know how her story was going to end.

Reece is exactly the kind of girl I’d want for a friend. She’s loyal and willing to come to the aid of those she cares about. She’s also mature enough to do the right thing in a tough situation. When she learns that the adults on the base aren’t taking the bomb threats seriously because they most likely came from a teenager, Reece doesn’t hesitate to investigate on her own. While this probably wasn’t the smartest course of action, I admired Reece’s spirit. While Reece investigates the bomb threats, she’s still a teenager with normal problems concerning boys, friends, and just trying to survive high school. These everyday problems balanced out the larger concern of the bomb threats and gave the story and Reece a more realistic feel.

Greg and Paul are the romantic interests in the story. Greg is the classic popular football player while Paul is the good looking academic type. The love triangle between Reece, Greg, and Paul was very well done in the beginning. Ms. Ficklin did such a good job of presenting the positive qualities of both boys that Reece’s inability to decide between the two was completely believable. However, certain events in the story clued me in on who Reece would end up with before she actually made her choice.

The only thing that kept me giving the book a higher rating was that I found the mystery to be predictable concerning the plot and the character behind the threats. The clues to the mystery were extremely easy to follow, and I had it figured out way before the climax. When the mystery was finally solved, it didn’t make much of an impact. I would have liked the story more if the mystery had been a little more difficult to unravel and if a more unlikely character had been the culprit behind the threats.

One of the things I liked most about After Burn was the fact that Reece had friends outside of her love triangle that made for entertaining secondary characters. Derek and Kayla have a flair for the dramatic and befriend Reece on her first day of school. When Reece’s love triangle between Paul and Greg heats up, it would have been easy for Reece to forget about her other friends, but I was very glad that she still made time to nurture her other relationships.

Military Brats: After Burn is definitely a good read. Anyone who enjoys a sweet romantic suspense and a spunky character like Reece should pick up a copy today.

The Lady of the Storm by Kathryne Kennedy

The Lady of the Storm by Kathryne Kennedy
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (391 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Storm lord’s daughter Cecily Sutton’s powers over sea and sky have put her life at risk. Giles Beaumont is reluctant to protect her, until he falls under her enchanting spell...

If a reader appreciates a book filled with pictures painted with words, and details that animate a world within your mind, then look no further than the amazing book by the talented Ms. Kennedy.

The Lady of the Storm is a book worth spending the time with. I was first introduced to this alternate and fantastical England with The Fire Lord’s Lover. The world building astounded me then and I couldn’t imagine how much more could be added; it was already so rich. Ms. Kennedy had it covered. In this latest adventure, the author introduced me to a new quest, new characters, and new obstacles for the hero and heroine to overcome. I can also assure readers that this is a terrific stand alone read.

Readers of the first book will understand the references to ‘being tested” and know that it’s not a good thing. For those who are visiting for the first time with this story, enough gets shared during character dialogue to understand why it’s to be feared. The explanations of why there is a rebellion are, again, naturally presented in the due course of events.

The author first sets up the relationship between Giles and Cecily by delving into their past and sharing the things that made them the people they are. By the time the tale begins in earnest, I understood the internal conflicts that tore them apart inside, and the external conflict that affected not just them but all of their English countrymen. It’s a fight for independence and reclamation of their life and lands.

Cecily is delightfully stubborn yet is a tender hearted lady. She only allows herself to accept the magic inside of her that helps others or causes no harm. There’s a reason for that and it’s believable. Her magic also gets employed as a tool to move the plot along. I liked how the author molded a young sheltered girl into a woman that’s a force to be reckoned with. The transition was detailed in such a way that I felt like I was shadowing the heroine every step of the way. Cecily inadvertently trained herself for her future and only after reading this book will readers understand what I mean. Magic is the world she was born into, but not all that she knows.

Giles’s character is so sweet. I don’t mean he’s a pansy. I refer to him being a man who fell in love when he was but a kid and didn’t or couldn’t recognize the emotion for what it was. His actions speak loud and clear to what is in his heart. Ms. Kennedy put him through the wringer that sorely tested his resolve and his love by having something happen to him that crushed his spirit. Yet, though his words, harshly and firmly spoken, and his chilling and isolationist silence made his choice clear, his actions eventually speak louder than the storms his lady can call.

I sensed a bit of a Beauty and the Beast theme being interwoven through this fantasy. It’s a classic element and I enjoyed the author’s unique way of breathing new life into an old but treasured storytelling idea. Certainly it’s romantic and emotional and it touched me right where the author intended. It was well written and effective and again proved just how special Cecily was.

The romance is at the heart of this book but it’s tempered with the intrigue, suspense and light drama that the hero and heroine have to deal with before they can reach their happy ever after. The villain wasn’t a specific all encompassing target like it was in the first book. In The Lady of the Storm, there are villains and there are confrontations, bloody ones at that, but this tale is more about Cecily and Giles coming to an understanding about each other in spite of it all. Realizing they love each other in the midst of everything and battling for that love to survive against evil magical odds made for an entertaining read.

Secondary characters play vital roles in helping the hero and heroine get to where they need to be and do what had to be done. Some of them I wanted to toss into a smelly moat and others I wanted to hug. They were all well developed and brought the story into more vivid life. The writing was superb; the author paid close attention to detail without letting the story stagnant and it never gets bogged down. The pace was crisp, the dialogue true to the character’s personalities, and every now and again, a spot of humor and tenderness smoothed away any rough edges.

The Lady of the Storm is another whirlwind ride into the magical chaos that is England – a world that is fascinating as well as dangerous. Thanks to the stellar writing talents of Ms. Kennedy, I have a new series that will be an auto-buy for me. As real as the story seems when I’m in the midst of it, I am so glad no fire demons will actually jump out at me. However, I wouldn’t mind a Giles of my own, without that spooky sword of his, that is. Thank you, Ms. Kennedy, for a wild reading experience and for introducing me to a heroine and hero I enjoyed getting to know.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Twice Ruined by Pascale Duguay

Twice Ruined by Pascale Duguay
Publisher: Aspen Mountain Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (200 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

A troublesome miss and an unadventurous Earl are forced into marriage - can physical desire overcome their aversion to an unwanted union?

Renowned for her tendency to get into mischief, Miss Patience Bingham flees her home to escape a marriage of convenience. The last thing she expects when she sets out is to find herself thoroughly compromised and engaged to a singularly handsome but conventional Earl! Will her strong physical attraction to this man be enough to overcome her fear of being trapped in a loveless marriage?

Lord Julius Rutherford, Fifth Earl of Hawkridge, thinks he has his future all laid out until he accidentally comes upon the hellion that nearly burned down his house ten years before. Although Patience has grown into a desirable woman who now has the ability to set his blood on fire, Julius soon discovers her mere presence can still spell disaster. But can Julius succumb to his burning need for Patience and marry her, knowing full well it will mean the end of his well-ordered existence?

Patience Bingham’s life is thrown into a tizzy when her ne’er-do-well father and his miserly sixty-year-old friend Sir Rupert Carlton concoct a scheme to benefit themselves at Patience’s expense. Determined to outwit them, she escapes only to run onto the self-important, handsome Julius Rutherford, Earl of Hawkridge, whom she did not recognize even though she had been the bane of his life ten years ago when he was just a pimply-faced atrocious boy. Thrown together in unplanned circumstances, Patience’s reputation could be irreparably damaged. She must someway outfox three “know-it-all” men of Regency England—no small task. However, the feisty Patience, with her down-to-earth approach to life, sets out to give it her best shot.

Patience’s foibles, even as a child, have interrupted the peace and still do even though she is almost twenty-one years old. Her intelligence and abundance of energy along with an innate sense of humor make her a favorite of the servants and local people whom she helps. They benefit from her kind heart and skills. They respect the petite, green-eyed “Miss Patty” that has an endearing charm about her even while she struggles with meager funds to keep her father’s household functioning while he gambles away everything he can get his hands on.

Lord Julius Rutherford, the Fifth Earl of Hawkridge grew from the pimply-faced boy into a handsome, arrogant man, who took to heart the saying—“neglect does not lead to prosperity”. When he inherited the estate that his father had neglected, he set in to put it back in order and make it prosperous. Aware he needs a wife who can produce an heir, he makes as list of qualification for his bride—wellborn, impeccable manners, amiable, intelligent in mind and conversation, tall, beautiful, and most important of all deferential to him in all things. What fun for the reader to see how this works out!

While the plot is predictable, the messes Patience and Julius get into plus the antics of Jessup Marlowe (the highwayman), Patience’s Aunt Louisa, and Lady Henrietta Rutherford create makes for delightful humor throughout the story. Of course, the unscrupulous scheming of Patience’s father, Sir Rupert Carlton, and the jealous Cecilia Arlington creates tense moments and “by-the-skin-of her- teeth” escapes for Patience. In addition Julius’s cousin and ward Philip supplies the catalyst that pushes Julius right where he needs to be even if he does feel rebellious about it.

Pascale Duguay entertains and tickles the funny-bone while delighting the reader with a love story full of adventure, drama, and make-believe that keeps the reader turning pages and cheering for Patience. Twice Ruined sparkles as it zips along headed toward its happy-ever-after.

Cursed Mates by Cara Marsi

Cursed Mates by Cara Marsi
Publisher: Noble Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (238 pgs)
Heat Level: hot
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Nick Radford is a reluctant werewolf who's been fighting the Beast within for nearly 500 years. He's never killed a human, but the Beast is gaining strength and Nick may not be able to ward off his inner demon much longer.

Kyla Yaeger is an elite were-hunter with a scarred past. Her life's mission is to slay the werewolves that slaughtered her parents. Her quest has brought her to Maine, where she's been summoned to destroy the werewolf terrorizing the quaint little village of Heavensent. The last thing she needs is to get distracted by her mysterious—not to mention hunky—new neighbor, Nick Radford.

By the time Kyla learns Nick is her target, she's already fallen for him, making her task of killing him that much harder. She is torn between her love for him and her duty to kill her sworn enemy. Nick fights his forbidden love for Kyla, knowing she is duty-bound to kill him. Kyla and Nick must join forces to fight an even bigger threat—one that will destroy all humanity. Only by their combined powers, can they destroy the evil and bring an end to a centuries old curse.

Lust and vengeance, redemption and mayhem come to a head in this riveting read full of demons, wolves and one very determined heroine.

Kyla is a werewolf hunter who is closing in on her prey. She tracks him to this little tiny town in Maine but she gets a lot more than she bargained for. She’s also prone to visions but this time they’re freaking her out because they’re different than she’s ever experienced. I figured out long before she did why that was. A couple of characters drop hints here and there, but Kyla is so focused on the hunt and her own internal conflicts, she can’t see the forest for the trees. Her emotions are pulled like taffy in many directions but they seem to be heading in one direction. I thought she was a strong personality, dedicated and loyal to her friend and co-worker, Todd.

The hero, Nick, is Kyla’s focus. He confuses her and confounds her, with good reason. Nick is in jeopardy from more than the silver bullets that the heroine has in her arsenal. He has been fighting the good fight for centuries. He is noble, caring, determined and defines ‘tortured hero’. He’s given up hope and knows this town is his last stand. He is going to make things right and if he has to die to do so, he will. What’s not to like about a guy who believes himself irredeemable and a lost cause but will fight for justice until the bitter end?

The big stumbling block between the hero and heroine is trust. Neither trusts the other, nor do they have faith in their attraction. There are way too many inconsistencies to their having an easy relationship because there is so much they can’t or won’t tell the other. It’s a great plot conflict, actually. But I thought it went on a bit too long. It seemed like it was presented in different ways but it all came down to meaning the same thing. After awhile, I did not enjoy watching them not trust each other, because it let things happen that I felt could have been avoided to some degree. By the time they finally revealed all, it was almost too late, and I was doing a lot of eye-rolling at that part. I wanted to bop Kyla on the head and yell, “Wake up!”, “Get over yourself!” and she eventually does, but not without her making a few stupid moves.

Don’t think Kyla is too stupid to live, she isn’t. She is just overly cocky and I wish there had been someone to give her a reality check. Todd, her friend, wasn’t it. I found out why at the end of the book. Their relationship made a lot more sense after the revelation. Meanwhile, for all her extensive training and years of being the ultimate hunter, she was not impressive. Let me put it this way, if she was hunting a werewolf that was hunting me? I’d want back up.

There were other secondary characters that had serious impact on the telling of this tale. Some were notable and interesting, some were just plain creepy and one I had thought was part of the evil plot, but actually wasn’t. There are some nasty deaths and some nefarious and hedonistic descriptions so it’s pretty intense at times. It has some great suspense and drama with good emotional connections so I had a good time reading this book. I like a book with substance and this book certainly had enough to keep me entertained.

As for the physical side of things between Nick and Kyla, a reader is going to get an eyeful. Seems Ms. Kyla knows what to do with silk ties and bed posts. And Nick sure knows his way around a woman’s body, much to the heroine’s satisfaction. Those scenes were well written and placed to good effect in the book. The bedroom door is wide open so readers will have need of a nice glass of ice water to help them get through it. It was fun.

Cursed Mates has a lot within to appeal to romantic suspense readers who enjoy stories with paranormal flair. It entertains, astounds and even gives a few goose bumps along the way. I’m glad I had a chance to read this tale and am happy with the happily ever after. It’s wonderful to see a tortured hero find his happy and Nick certainly earned his. He was my favorite character.