Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sunset Sizzle by Jennifer Loy

Sunset Sizzle by Jennifer Loy
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (197 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Iris

To keep her job, Sarah Hart needs a sizzling article for her romance column. While on vacation in Hawaii, she grabs the first handsome tourist on Waikiki Beach, and makes him a deal. She’ll set him up on a few dates, all expenses paid, and watch him fall in love. Then she'll take his story, say sayonara, and still have a job. But Keith Hanover is no player, he’d rather charm Sarah. His deal is if she can’t find him true love, than she must meet him on Sunset Beach for a date.

Her search for his perfect match begins an unruly adventure of close talkers, criers and a few Abbey-normals. There's shark diving, a mad scientist, crazy roadside fruit stand kids, Dole ice cream lickers, and paparazzi. Will Keith even make it to the date with Sarah before running from her set-ups?

Just because you're a reporter doesn’t mean you can see what's right under your nose. Like most of us non-journalist types, Sarah is so focused on her “mission” she fails to see what's really going on around her.

Now, I’m not saying that being in Hawaii and being hit on by an aggressive “open” couple as well as scouting for new romance stories isn’t enough to make any of us miss a few things, but we're fortunate as the readers to be able to see everything (or at least re-read and catch everything!)

Sarah finds Keith and thinks she can turn him into her job-saving column – but Keith thinks otherwise. Hilarity ensues, as does confusion, heartbreak and some pretty steamy scenes.

One of the nicest parts of the story are the secondary characters. They are each an integral piece of the story and allow our hero and heroine to grow. I must say I enjoyed Sarah’s cab driver; his role in Sarah and Keith’s lives was amusing and, dare I say, sweet.

At the risk of spoiling the story, I will say, three separate times I thought the story was over. Ms. Loy surprised me by continuing. In one respect, it was nice to keep the characters around and enjoy being in their lives for “just a little while longer”. On the other hand, this story is such a roller-coaster, sometimes I felt the need to “step off” for a little while.

Fast-paced and full of twists and turns, this is definitely a story you will want to make time to read.

The Trouble with Pilots by Kristi Ahlers

The Trouble with Pilots by Kristi Ahlers
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (29 pages)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Review by: Fennel

Wedding dress designer Sarah Harper's best friend is getting married and Sophie has been asked to design the dress. When she discovers it means getting on a plane for Paris, all her flying fears spring to life. But this is for her best friend, Hannah, and the notoriety of designing a dress for the bride of one of France's nobility is an opportunity Sarah can't pass up. Even if it means sitting beside an off-duty pilot. Sophie swore off pilots when she left her ex, but her seatmate's touch and spicy scent makes her forget all about the flight, and her promise. She blames the medication her doctor gave her and her naughty dreams on what happens just before landing. Could she be any more mortified?

Trey Chasen is finally taking some well-deserved time off and uses his friend's engagement as an excuse to see Paris. At first, Trey lamented the loss of another jet-setter to the arms of a good woman, but he soon feels something is missing in his own life. When he meets his seatmate on the flight to Paris, his interest is instantly sparked, yet not in a way he's used to. Using her fear of flying as an excuse to soothe her, he discovers he wants to get to know this pixie of a woman better. He just didn't expect it would be so soon, or during the flight.

When the two realize their destinations are the same, it's Hannah and Damien who set Sarah and Trey straight about the important things in life. Can Sarah put aside her trouble with pilots to find love? Trey likes is a challenge, and before Sarah returns to the States, he's going to make sure he proves to her that pilots aren't trouble but worth loving.

I didn’t know when I chose it, The Trouble with Pilots, is Ms. Ahler's 2nd book in the series, but that said, the story reads very well as a stand-alone novella. The author has managed to pack a well constructed and pleasant read into less than thirty pages.

I did have trouble, as the story unfolded, understanding why her heroine, Sarah, a wedding dress designer, had so much fear of flying. But perhaps that was explained in the previous book.

As for her dream during the flight? Well, *smiles* that was some dream! I have to say Trey was a real gentleman.

Ms. Ahlers offers a feisty and believable character in Sarah, and also with her hero, Trey. Sadly, as far as Sarah is concerned he has one strike against him before he starts, simply because he's a pilot, so he’s got a lot of work to do to convince Sarah to change her mind about him. The author takes the reader into Trey’s mind and emotions with great skill, given the lack of story length she had to do it in.

Although her timeline is tight, the author manages to stretch it to acceptable and believable lengths before the end of the read, which in this reader’s view adds to the charm of the story.

This short and delightful story is enough to pick up when ‘me’ time is scarce and limited. It's not a ‘deep’ story, none-the-less it is an ideal, ‘feel-good-tale’ to consider dipping into if you have some spare time during a stressful day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Scotsmen Prefer Blondes by Sara Ramsey

Scotsmen Prefer Blondes by Sara Ramsey
Publisher: SpencerHill
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (316 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

She never wanted marriage…

When a friend is forced to consider a marriage of convenience, Lady Amelia Staunton is determined to rescue her. But her plans trap her in an illicit seduction, and Amelia must marry him herself. Malcolm’s all-consuming kisses and devilish humor might make up for her lost freedom, but she believes he will force her to abandon the Gothic romances she yearns to write. Since she can’t escape him, she must distract him from her secret…

He isn’t looking for love…

A powerful autocrat with a well-hidden rebellious streak, Malcolm MacCabe doesn’t need another beautiful mistress – he needs an obedient wife. Obedience is not one of Amelia’s virtues. But he’s too enthralled by her wit and passion to let her go – even if it means risking the political reputation he is building to save his clan.

Their hearts can’t survive the scandal…

Despite their intentions, every wicked embrace binds them together. But as their conflicting desires combust into insatiable hunger and unavoidable ruin, they must decide whether to pursue their personal destinies alone – or fight for the love that could destroy them both.

‘The best laid plans’ suffer a fatal blow when Lady Amelia Staunton’s scheming and meddling to help her friend Prudence goes awry. Late at night in the old Scottish castle library, Malcolm MacCabe, Lord of Carnach, kisses Amelia at a fateful time. Not only Prudence, whom Malcolm had planned to offer for, but also Alex, Amelia’s brother, sees the kiss. Now, as Granddad would say, “the fat’s in the fire”. No shrinking violets in this cast of characters, and what an exciting vicarious experience they invite the reader to enjoy.

Amelia and Prudence’s friendship in severely strained if not totally broken; Prudence’s plan to marry for financial security is dashed; Amelia’s plan for independence and freedom to write her novels is in jeopardy; Malcolm’s plan--to marry an obedient wife to bear his heir, be a perfect hostess to promote his plan to gain power in Parliament and to use that power to help his people--takes a direct hit. What a mess all over ONE kiss!

Amelia can be “propriety deluxe” with icy perfection, constrained, contained, unattainable, and “unconquerable”, but only for so long because in truth, she, and most everyone else, knows she's headstrong, meddlesome, too witty, opinionated, sarcastic, independent, certainly not obedient; and even though she has a good heart she has a bad temper plus secrets that could ruin her and make Malcolm the laughingstock of London ton. Oh, yes, she is a delicious heroine.

Malcolm tells himself that “duty and fidelity” is first and distractions are not welcome, but Amelia is a distraction that heats his blood. He would have fit right in with his ancestors who fought other clans and the English. He's a warrior and an autocratic at times, but has a hint of ”reiver” in him. All his stern talks to himself about duty first seems to fall on deaf ears when it comes to the misfit for a wife—Amelia—she has really mucked things up. She has his mind, heart and other parts on full alert. But does he have the right to the joy she gives him rather than using his all to help his clansmen?

Sara Ramsey makes Scotsmen Prefer Blondes throb with life. The sparkling humor, sensual, sizzling love scenes (my gracious, do they rev up the heart rate!), dialogue that keeps the reader on full alert, the undercurrent of suspense, compelling descriptions of people and places, plus characters so strong they almost jump off the pages with energy and determination keeps one turning pages.

The secondary characters help propel the action along at a breathtaking pace at times. If you have read the first book in this series Heiress Without a Cause, You will recognize many of the characters. They all have their own secrets, flaws, and foibles that help make Scotsmen Prefer Blondes intriguing. This one is a keeper, just as is the first novel. I’m looking forward to the next one entitled The Marquess Who Loved Me. Sara Ramsey’s characters captivate and are fun to spend time with.

The Lord and Eleanor by Lindsay Townsend

The Lord and Eleanor by Lindsay Townsend
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (55 pges)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fennel

Their love breaks all bounds. Richard is lord of Wykeford—and Eleanor’s lord. She is a former bondswoman, now free. When they meet, their lives change forever as a love that can’t be denied burns between them. She is strong and fierce. He is a gentle warrior. Together, they fight for their future against all odds.

But there is one in the lord’s household who’s not pleased and who will stop at nothing to break Richard and Eleanor apart, even at the cost of murder.

The clever beginning of The Lord and Eleanor, with the mention of ‘rope burns’, pulled me right into the story instantly. Why rope burns?  I needed to know more.

Ms. Townsend’s gentle writing style makes perfect sense of this intriguing beginning to her story and in few words paints a picture of Eleanor, her heroine, strong in adversity, caring beyond measure and prepared to stand up for her rights against deep seated prejudice.

Cleverly, she depicted Richard, her hero and local Lord, as a man ‘wanting’ and for a few moments I wondered how the author intended to take the reader over the gap between ‘wanting’ and loving. I need not have worried. Richard has loved and lost and has a caring and instinctive nature that recognizes his interest for Eleanor as what it is; the stirring of something far stronger than lust.

The small community and all the prejudices that come with such an environment, are woven into the plot, as is the antagonist. The Lord and Eleanor is short and packs in a lot of detail, emotion and tension and if I have a small nit to pick with Ms. Townsend’s story it's the outcome of the antagonist; unless, that is, she intends to bring him into another story.

Ms. Townsend paints vivid word pictures of her settings, and weaves action and emotions into them with apparent ease.

The secondary characters, including the children all have their parts to play, to carry the story forward and the bonding between the children was utterly believable.

The author left this reader sighing with satisfaction and closing the book with the word ‘charming’ running through my mind.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Worth the Risk by Karen Erickson

Worth the Risk by Karen Erickson
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (252 Pages)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Moonflower

How to make a strong man fall hard? Refuse him.

Worth It, Book 2

Hunter Worth lives life to the absolute fullest. As vice president and head of brand marketing for Worth Luxury Goods, he’s brought his family’s business firmly into the twenty-first century. Ruthless yet charming, he’s now set his sights on the sexiest member of the marketing team. First thing on his agenda? Seduction.

Gracie Hayes needs her job at Worth—and she’s not about to let the gorgeous owner and her direct boss distract her—again. Orphaned, and with a rough childhood behind her, she’s worked too hard to compromise everything for a fling, no matter how tempting. Independent, strong and resourceful, she will fight off Hunter. She has to.

Flirting, stolen kisses, a few nights of scorching hot sex…Hunter has all that in mind and more with the delicious Gracie. He never figures he’d fall in love or that she’d deny him. How will Hunter convince Gracie he’s the one for her?

The Worth brothers are well worth the read…pun intended. Book two in the Worth It series is just as steamy and hot as the first, Worth the Scandal. The chemistry between these two stubborn people was burning up my reader and I couldn’t wait for their amazing moments of weakness. I wasn’t kept waiting for long.

Hunter is simply an arrogant womanizing jerk. As the middle man in the trio of brothers, he plays the part well. He's jealous of the baby of the family because of his carelessness and freedom. He's also always trying to prove himself to the elder, never feeling good enough and doesn’t want to be thought of as a burden. Feeling loved, but never quite fitting in, he's just witnessed his big brother fall helplessly in love, and what a fall it was. Hunter's determined to never be a victim of that feeling. The problem is he has an unexpected pull to his co-worker Gracie, which he just can’t deny or satisfy. He didn’t see the warning signs of danger ahead. Hunter's an accident waiting to happen.

Gracie's been alone forever. She was abandoned by her mother at a very young age and grew up in the system. She fought long and hard to get where she is and she will not make the mistake of falling into the bed of her over-sexed boss. But the one kiss they shared continues to haunt her. Could this warm fuzzy feeling be something worth looking into?

Hunter jumps in with a full frontal attack and Gracie never saw it coming. She may have her moments of weakness when it comes to this handsome man, but she stands strong and makes him work for it. It was apparent throughout the book that these two belonged together, but I could still completely understand the barriers they were facing. From the beginning to the end these two have to fight against love and fight for their freedom. It takes almost losing it all, to open their eyes.

My heart went out to these two people. It was almost painful to watch what Hunter had to go through. He was so strung out over his newly discovered feelings, it was poignant. Gracie was an amazingly strong willed woman who had so many inner demons to conquer, I wondered if she would ever make it.

Worth the Risk has amazing pacing, with no lulls and the style of writing was smooth. I was never bored and I didn’t feel rushed at all. The flow from scene to scene was flawless. It’s rare to find a novel that's so perfectly balanced.

Ms. Erickson knows how to write a compelling story that doesn’t allow any room for distractions. This book was hard to put down and kept my attention from beginning to end. So be prepared to spend the whole day with Hunter and Gracie. Worth the Risk made losing my day so Worth It!

Lord of Fire and Ice by Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe

Lord of Fire and Ice by Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (384 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Foxglove

Brandr the Far-Traveled is revered by his fellow vikings: his bed skills are the stuff of steamy legend, his sword sings of death on the field of battle, and he can call up fire from thin air. Enslaved through trickery, he's determined to woo his new owner into freeing him. Too bad her heart's as icy as the frozen North. Katla is sworn to avenge her husband's death at the hands of Brandr's father. But she didn't count on Brandr's dangerous masculinity or the way he awakens her long forgotten desires. Can Brandr seduce his way free, or will love make slaves of them both?

After five years away from home, serving as a Varangian Guard for the Byzantine emperor, Brandr, son of Ulf has finally reached his beloved Hardanger Fjord. As the son of the current jarl, a strong warrior and fire mage in his own right, he is nonetheless captured, stripped and, wearing the collar of a thrall, or slave, is presented thus to Katla, head of a farmstead and all of its surrounding people. Katla’s brothers captured Brandr as retribution for his father murdering Katla’s husband. They seek to humiliate both Brandr and his father with Brandr’s thrall status. As time goes by, an attraction forms between the two. When Katla’s brothers insist she choose a husband from one of the wealthy men they parade before her, as an independent spirit, Katla surprises all by making her choice…Brandr. But there's more than marriage in store, there's political wrangling and betrayal ahead for them all. Will Katla and Brandr survive to make a real marriage? Can these two strong and stubborn people learn it is better to unite than fight? Katla will need Brandr’s help and support to save her people from the evil that is coming for them all.

Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe have written an intriguing and absorbing historical look at the people of the North, with all the harsh and unyielding conditions of the time, and the passions that ruled the people. This is not a pretty world: it is hard living, harsh conditions and danger at every turn. The people have learned that they need to fight for what is theirs, and revenge is swift in many cases. This is a well-crafted world, and I was drawn to the characters from the beginning. The authors were able to bring to life not only the passions ruling the characters, but the small joys and disappointments inherent in the rough life these people lived.

Katla is strong and stubborn, determined to care for her people after the death of her husband, even though theirs was never a love match. She doesn’t need another husband, someone to take over and ruin all the good she's done for her people. When her brothers present her with a naked and bound Brandr, she was, at first, determined to make him suffer for the sins of his father. But as time goes by, she begins to respect first his strength, and then to admire his honor and his beauty. I enjoyed watching Katla test Brandr’s limits, and her open minded appreciation of his strength and skill in all he does. I liked watching as she finally discovered that she wanted to be desired by him and her sudden insecurity where he's concerned.

Brandr Ulfson is a strong man, and an honorable one. From his first appearance, naked, shorn and bound, there's never an indication that he's less of a man, or warrior than before. He's determined to not bring shame to his family, even as he's being belittled and treated as the basest of slaves. As he realizes why he's been treated as he was, he knows that he must accept his fate as revenge for what his father took from these people: their lord, leader and husand. As his attraction for Katla grows, I enjoyed watching the small tricks he would pull, to make her accept him as more than just her thrall. I enjoyed watching as he discovered a love he never counted on with Katla.

There's a dangerous hidden agenda with one of the prospective suitors brought before Katla for her choice as husband. Katla’s brothers each have a motivation to see her wed: each has plans for a future that doesn’t include staying on the farmstead as gentleman farmers. When the danger strikes, they all realize the one who can help them is Brandr, who is now Katla’s husband. But betrayal is around every turn in the road, and soon, everyone is in peril for their lives. There are several surprising twists and lots of passion and fighting to keep the reader hanging on every word. Katla nd Brandr enjoy a very hard won happy ever after, but only after severe trials and tribulation. I recommend this for historical lovers who like danger with their happy endings.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sparks by Sharon Horton

Sparks by Sharon Horton
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (280 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Sunflower

All her life, Callie O'Rourke wanted to be a firefighter. A lifelong nightmare of being in a fire has driven her to pursue a career to fight fires and save lives. She won't let being a woman stop her from achieving that goal. When her determination and training land her a job, Callie has no idea being the city's first female firefighter will gain the attention of more than just its citizens.

Although haunted since childhood by the fiery death of his father, firefighting is in Danny Redmond's blood. He comes from a long line of firemen, all the way back to his great-grandfather.

Callie's refreshing candor ignites Danny's interest. With her ability to fight fires, combined with the way she puts him at ease, it's not long before they become friends. Focused on being the best firefighters possible, neither is looking for romance. Yet the more they're together, the more they realize firefighting may not be their biggest challenge.

The world is full of books. Endless amounts of them. But there are only a few rare books that you pull out to read and, when finished, you're overcome with such intense emotion. Sparks is one of those books. The experience I had as a reader while engaged in this powerful, riveting story had me in a whirl of feelings.

Callie O'Rourke is Fairmont's first female firefighter. She's a bit of a news maker with this status. Callie's strong willed, fierce, and takes many risks, but these risks are to save lives. She thinks with her heart and her head. She's had a lot of things to deal with in life, but Callie has definitely overcome obstacles to get where she is today. Though she didn't get off on the right note with Danny Redmond, the hero.

Danny is a bit complicated. This man has not been whole for a long time. In a tragic chain of events, Danny's life changed when he was a child, and the things he feels and never completely dealt with affect him to this day. He's not too happy about Callie, but oh my, do things change for him rather quickly.

Written with such intense depth, Sparks draws readers into a wild ride of feelings, a bit of adventure, and a whole lot of love. The conflict keeps the story line tight. Just when I thought Callie and Danny were on their way to a beautiful relationship, some startling revelations come to light, spiraling everyone involved into a confused state. Talk about characters going through turmoil. This novel brings a sense of family and community together. A feeling of nostalgia washed over me many times, as reading this made me think of the times where people looked out for one another a lot more, and strong family ties were more prevalent.

There are touching moments, I wiped away tears more than once. This book is beautifully written. Strong characterization, stunning plot, and at times I held my breath, unsure of what would happen next. Fair warning, readers--this book is going to grab hold of you tight, and won't let go even after the end. I find myself still thinking about Callie, Danny, and the rest of the crew at the fire station. Sparks lives up to it's name, in every sense of the word. This is a story that can be read over and over. It's a keeper!

If you love contemporary romances that have tendencies to bring out tears of joy, gut wrenching pangs of fear, and a powerful love story, let Sparks light up your life. Don't miss this stunning novel!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Moving On by Annette Bower

Moving On: A Prairie Romance by Annette Bower
Publisher: XOXO Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (119 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed By Dianthus

Anna is a mysterious woman that has just moved to Regina Beach. The residents of the small town know everyone’s business and they are very interested in discovering Anna’s secrets. Nick was a Sergeant in the Canadian Army, doing active duty until a horrific accident sent him home to recover. He helps Anna feel safe and comfortable in her new environment, just as he has always done for his men in strange, dangerous places. Meanwhile, he focuses on preparing for his future physical endurance test to prove that he is capable of returning to active duty.

Anna doesn’t talk about her past, and Nick doesn’t talk about his future therefore she is shocked to discover that his greatest wish is to return to active duty. She won’t love a man who may die on the job again. Intellectually, she knows that all life cycles end, but emotionally, she doesn’t know if she has the strength to support Nick.

Anna Jenkins is a broken woman looking for solace from the sad eyes and well meaning platitudes of friends and family for grief they couldn’t even begin to understand. Losing her fiancĂ© was bad enough, but as a trauma nurse she's surrounded by daily reminders of his accident. It was enough to send Anna over the edge. While she knew everyone meant well, getting away from it all was just what she needed to begin healing. Murray’s cottage by the lake seemed to be the perfect place to start her new life, away from all the memories. Will Anna get what she needs from this tiny water side town? With Anna’s secrets, she can only hope the locals won't pry and instead will let her be until she's ready to tell them her story, if ever.

Nick Donnelly wasn’t expecting to ever have to come home from the Canadian Forces, until one day an IED took his decision away. The hero has two choices left , heal and find a new path, or be buried by the resentment eating away at the man he is and never heal. The journey is heartbreaking and real and all I wanted to do was hug Nick. His character made me ache from the agony, both emotional and physical, that he was in. The author did a wonderful job of bringing his pain to life in the pages of this book.

When Anna shows up on the doorstep of his B&B, haunted shadows in her eyes and needing a haven where she too can heal, Nick makes it his mission to help her and in turn begins his own healing. When feelings begin to develop between these two broken souls, can forgiveness and moving on be the very thing they both need to find each other in the abyss?

Set in Saskatchewan, Canada, the book was a delightful read. The characters, Anna and Nick were both so broken it would have been easy to write them both off, but Annette Bower made the entire story about healing broken hearts and soothing rioting souls. This was a great tale about forgiveness and moving on from tragedy without harping on all the bad that happened to the main characters. I will definitely read this story again and recommend it to other readers I know. If you are looking for a great story with a wonderful ending, then this is the story for you.

The Wicked Games of a Gentleman by Jillian Hunter

The Wicked Games of a Gentleman by Jillian Hunter
Publisher: Ivy Books (Random House)
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (371 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Lord Drake Boscastle has everything–smoldering good looks, extreme wealth, and devilish charms. Everything, that is, except true happiness. Hoping to satisfy his growing discontent, he is set to meet one of the most celebrated courtesans in England for a heated rendezvous. But on the scheduled night of pleasure, Lord Drake’s world is turned upside down by Eloise Goodwin, a wholesome, spirited governess with voluptuous curves and a beguiling wit. Even with an experienced seductress willing to satisfy his every need, Lord Drake cannot forget his encounter with Eloise.

Although swept off her feet by the mysteriously handsome rake, Eloise has more pressing matters to address. Her rebellious young client has escaped into the night with a local rogue and is nowhere to be found. Stepping in to assist, Lord Drake must try to resist his desire to indulge the longing passion he feels for Eloise. But once a scoundrel, always a scoundrel . . . or has the untamable Lord Drake at last been tamed?

The life of a companion isn’t usually this exciting or fraught with peril and intrigue but Ms. Hunter has written a heroine as fascinating and unusual as a woman can be. It was a great reading experience and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Eloise is all about duty, responsibility and plans. She's focused, dedicated and suffers the indignity of caring for a spoiled rotten young lady who causes more problems than one woman should. All the heroine has to do is keep an eye on her until the wedding and then she’s free to pursue her goal of joining a lady’s academy. It’s almost a done deal, except for two things -- a chance meeting that causes a sensual explosion of her well organized world, and her charge disappearing with the most unsavory character sets in motion a romance that shouldn’t have had a chance.

I liked Eloise because for all of her innocence, she’s no dummy. She observed the people that she came in contact with and learned the signals that told her to beware and avoid. However, nothing prepared her for Lord Drake Boscastle. I don’t think any woman could ever understand what it’s like to meet a man such as he. The hero is cynical, jaded, bored with life and too good looking for his own peace of mind. He’s at the point in his life where he knows he's missing something and tries to take on a challenge that would jump start his interest in life. Instead he accidentally dallies with an intriguing young miss and his world is never the same. Readers will get a kick out of how easily and completely he falls under the heroine’s spell.

Eloise has secrets that are pretty darned funny but the most amazing thing is what the author decided to do with that secret. The saying, “What goes around, comes around” has never been truer. As the story unfolded, a certain possibility reared its head and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew something about someone in the book. Imagine my delighted surprise to realize it was true and once again, Ms. Hunter used a unique development to good effect in furthering the plot. It was funny, bittersweet and for the hero, quite the shock.

The whole conversational scene between Drake and Devon, his brother, was fun and 100% entertaining. I liked Devon, he’s got style and I hope to see more of him. The best illustration of their relationship is this bit of repartee,

Drake shook his head in exasperation. “What do you think, Devon?”

“I think you’re a damn moody swine.”

“I never claimed to be a bloody ray of sunshine.”

I loved that! What came next gave me the giggles. And after that was excitement. Then after that was a most intriguing hook that kept me glued to the pages. This book had it all.

The conflict threads are basically: staying one step ahead of the gossipmongers, keep Thalia pure and present for the wedding, have Eloise keep her own reputation intact, solve the mystery as to how to get rid of a certain burr and nuisance and the big one, how to be the perfect mistress when the hero is too dense to realize he’s really looking for something else. The interesting thing about the above mentioned list is how it changed throughout the book. Much like real life, goals and wants change with the experiences of life and new possibilities open up and take people on new adventures. That certainly happens in this story.

Secondary characters make the book fascinating. They spice up the lives of the hero and heroine with humor, steadfast support when things get really dramatic, and they help showcase just how wonderful Eloise and Drake really are for each other. The dialogue was entertaining and peppered with quips and side comments that amuse and inform. The villain was a worm and deserved what he got. Oh, and Thalia’s brother is a moron.

The Wicked Games of a Gentleman is an entertaining and engaging tale that prompts a reader to grin, gasp and keep glued to its pages. The book is filled with excitement, has a spicy and delicious romance and a hero and heroine that I enjoyed getting to know. It was a lot of fun and the characters were written well enough that I am inspired to find more stories on the Boscastle brothers. Thank you, Ms. Hunter for introducing readers to such interesting and challenging men to redeem.

Vampires Are Forever by Tony-Paul de Vissage

Vampires Are Forever by Tony-Paul de Vissage
Publisher: Class Act Books
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (149 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

A hundred years before, the villagers of Balleywalegh drove the vampire preying on their womenfolk from their midst…and that should've been the end of it. But now, it's 1929, and the monster's back. Or is he? Someone's definitely occupying the abandoned manor house again. Karel Novotny has the same name as the former Undead resident but he's much, much younger, and more up-to-date. He even drives a Stutz Bearcat! With his movie idol good-looks, he's enthralled the local lasses, especially Seamus Flannery's daughter Brigid. Seamus isn't much for believing in vampires or any other creature of the night but he's a little worried about the pale young man's attention to his daughter. And when Brigid becomes suddenly and unexplainably ill, he has to make a decision.

Is Karel Novotny the monster returned or not, and if so, what will the good men of Balleywalegh do this time?

Are the superstitions of the town’s folk silly, or is there really something to fear in the dark?

Seamus Flannery’s peaceful life is shattered the moment his wife, Maeve, starts shrieking uncontrollably when she sees a light in an old deserted manor. Like Seamus, I wondered why something so simple would send a woman into hysterics. Maeve isn’t the only one who has seen the light. Seamus soon learns that the people in the town believe a vampire has taken up residence in the old manor. At first Seamus laughs it off, but after meeting Karel Novotny, the owner of the manor, he isn’t so sure. After Seamus does a bit of digging through the town history, he learns there was indeed a vampire in the town over a hundred years ago. Seamus begins to wonder if the vampire has come back to exact the revenge he promised.

Karel is certainly intriguing. I thought he handled the attention of the town’s folk very well. While he seems to genuinely want the people to like him, I also got the impression he was playing with them a little bit. I was pretty sure he wasn’t actually a vampire, but it's clear he IS hiding something. I found myself racing through the pages determined to figure out his secret.

I liked Seamus immediately. He’s a very pleasant, down to earth man who provides the much needed voice of reason when the men of Balleywalegh want to charge up to Karel’s house and destroy him. Seamus admits Karel is odd, but he won’t convict a man of being a vampire without concrete proof. I found Maeve’s test of a garlic laden dish at the town potluck to be especially entertaining.

Seamus’ weakness is his daughter, Brigid. When she and Karel start to become close, Seamus can’t help but feel overprotective of his child. I couldn’t help but smile when Seamus managed to interrupt the romantic interludes between Brigid and Karel. However, when Brigid falls prey to a mysterious illness, Seamus lets superstition get the better of him. He and the rest of the men in the town decide to take matters into their own hands. I was on the edge of my seat as Seamus and his friends marched up to the manor. Would they discover a bloodthirsty vampire, or were they about to make the biggest mistake of their lives?

I was completely surprised at the way the story ended. I did have a few things figured out, but I never saw the truth about Karel coming. I did find the ending a bit abrupt for a story that had so much build up. However, I still found the conclusion satisfying and I certainly had a smile on my face when I finished the story.

Vampires Are Forever is definitely a fun, fast paced story. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished it. Readers wanting to know Karel’s secret should certainly pick up a copy of Vampires Are Forever today.

Luscious by Amanda Usen

Luscious by Amanda Usen
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: contemporary
Length: Full Length (320 pages)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sunflower

Eat, play, love

Plain old ice cream just isn't going to cut it. To beat these blues, chef Olivia Marconi needs the good stuff: rich, creamy tiramisu gelato. And no place better to get it than Italy. But a fresh start is nearly impossible with Sean Kindred dogging her every move. She's been burned by his too-hot-to-handle antics before. Though there's no denying the man can still get her all fired up. Could a weeklong affair finally turn into something more lasting...or will it all go up in flames?

Even a chef gets the blues. When all else fails, it's time for a little something different. Say, going to Italy! Who knew a change of scenery could change a life? Certainly not Olivia. At least, not in the way that it happened.

Do you ever just get burnt out, even with something you're passionate about? It happens. Everyone gets to that point some time in their life. That's what the heroine in Luscious faces. Olivia is ready for a change, and she's about to embrace it. Being a chef has been her life, but something just doesn't draw her to it like it once did. Much to some people's dismay, she's ready to move on. I can relate to Olivia easily. She's searching for something, though she's not sure yet what she needs.

Sean needs Olivia. When he gets a chance to be around her more, he jumps on it. What a surprise when he shows up to go with her! I like Sean, a lot. He's smooth, charming, and witty. I love how he's so great to Olivia, and I knew he had feelings for her right away. He's got a few things he needs to resolve, but as a whole, Sean makes for one heck of a hero!

Luscious is a fun read. The setting, the plot, the characters all come together for a fast-paced, funny and touching novel. Ms. Usen writes with flair and charm. The book left me with a smile on my face and a good feeling. It's the kind of story that takes your mind off of real life and puts you in a cheery mood. A story about finding what, and who makes you happy is a winner in my eyes! This story will have a place on the keepers shelf.

All in all, I enjoyed this story! I can't get enough of fun contemporary romps that have "a chance at being happy again" kind of feel. If you love stories full of heart, romance, and a little fun in Italy, Luscious awaits you.