Thursday, March 31

How to Marry a Duke by Vicky Dreiling

connected to How to Seduce a Scoundrel and others?

I loved Tessa, our heroine. She was creative, unique, and strong. I also liked Hawk, the best friend of our hero, Tristan. For the most part, I like the dowager duchess as well – especially as I got to the end of the story. Unfortunately, the characters that I liked end there. Tristan is very ‘cookie-cutter’ not to mention judgmental; he is the completely typical hero. Usually, having one or two distinguishing characteristics is enough to set a hero apart – unfortunately, Tristan was bland and didn’t have those characteristics that would have made him special. The book’s characters and slow plot were really what made this book so average.

Not only were the characters so-so (cardboard cutouts) but the plot was bleh. There was no substance. Dreiling tried to infuse some excitement, but I just couldn’t find myself caught up in any of her attempts at suspense. It was slow and boring and dragged on. I felt like Dreiling wasn’t moving to the climax, but rather describing separate scenes involving the same people. Also, Tristan’s inability to decide was REALLY annoying. And the whole thing with Richard was resolved too quickly for the amount of prevalence it received. Lots of hype for no action. One thing that kept jilting me as I attempted to read was Dreiling’s poor writing. In the world of romance there are a lot of descriptions that are no-nos, one being describing the first stirrings of love as a digestive disorder. Ew.

And finally, one thing I hate, hate, HATE is unreasonable reactions – the author wants to have the whole fight-kiss-makeup scene and so they create some tiny conflict and have the guy get super pissed about it. What the hell? Its not piss-able, heroes! Dreiling does this at the end of the book and it was so false. It was annoying. Really. I mean, can you blame the girl for not blurting her past liaisons to every man she meets? Plus, why would anyone want to read about a hero who overreacts all the time? Ew. Not my man.

Favorite quotes:

“Suppose you were competing with another man for a girl’s affections. The other gentleman brings flowers and sends poems. What would you do to top him?” (Tessa)
“Shoot him.” (Tristan)

Alas, he could not abide the thought of spending a lifetime with Her Gracelessness.

“Sexy”ness rating: Hot
Overall Rating: C

Bottom Line: This book was an average historical. It has average plot lines and average characters. Eh.

Pages: 432 pages
Published: December 9, 2010
Genre: Historical

Wednesday, March 30

Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase

What I love about Loretta Chase is that she breaks convention – she does things not many other authors are willing to do, and she does it well. Many historical romance novels have an innocent, pure heroine with a wicked rake who gets turned on by her naïveté and falls for her genuine openness during their frequent lovemaking. I would not yet consider myself a great connoisseur of romance novels, but I have had my fair share of reads. I have yet to encounter a romantic heroine who was a courtesan (I mean a REALLY good one). I have now.
Francesca Bonnard is the ex-wife of Lord Elphick, and instead of falling into ruin and financial despair (as expected) she becomes one of the most respected and well paid courtesans on the Continent. James Cordier works for the English government as a spy/jewelry thief/whatever-else-they-need-at-the-moment. He has been hired by the government to travel to Venice, where Francesca is, and retrieve some letters she has in her possession – letters incriminating Lord Elphick. However, as explained thoroughly in the book, he cannot acquire them simply by asking - and even with vigerous searching he cannot find them. What is a man to do, but seduce? Yes, what follows their meeting is a romantic, witty journey, filled with the classic Loretta humor.
Francesca and James spend most of their time dancing around the fact that they both want one another. Each, in their arrogant way, believes that they know exactly how to entice the other because (obviously) they know EVERYTHING about the other gender from their vast experience. They tease and taunt with delicious, luxurious skill until, suddenly, they find themselves as lovers that truly love one another, despite all fears and insecurities (and there are plenty). Amazing.
All the while, an evil force sent by Elphick threatens Francesca’s security, and she finds herself often in danger. But we definitely see the survivor in Francesca, because she tackles the pain, hurt and fear better than a linebacker on a McDonald’s diet. She squashes her troubles beneath her proud, courageous, firm, beautifully clad heel and doesn’t let up until they’re well and truly ground out of her life. Of course, having James’s help is nice, too.
My favorite part of the book? The first time they make love… is beautiful. *Sigh* Venice is truly the perfect setting and Loretta uses it to her full advantage.
Favorite quotes:
Penises. Everywhere.
“A hundred words for bad girls like us, but what is a man courtesan?” (Giulietta)
“A penniless aristocrat.” (Francesca)
“No, killing me would spoil his fun.” (Francesca)
“And dying would spoil yours, I reckon.” (James)
“Sexy”ness rating: Sweet and Spicy!
Overall Rating: A
Bottom Line: As long as you have an open mind, as far as Francesca being a courtesan goes, you'll love every minute of this book!
Pages: 349
Published: May 27, 2008
Genre: Historical

Monday, March 28

Impostress by Lisa Jackson

Book 1 in the Medieval Trilogy Series
What did I think? This book was adorable! The plot was a little silly, because if you think about it, it never would have worked in real life – but that was part of the books charm. Kiera of Lawenydd (our heroine) has an older sister Elyn, who is set to be married to the neighboring Baron, Kelan of Penbrooke. Kelan is resigned to the marriage – Elyn, however is not. She asks Kiera to stand in for her during the wedding and wedding night (with Kelan too drunk to… perform) so that Elyn can spend one last night with her love – Brock of Oak Crest. Kiera fulfills this obligation, really really grudgingly, because of a 'debt' she owes Elyn for saving her life.

There’s only one problem. After the wedding day is up, Elyn doesn’t return and Kiera is forced to continue to pretend to be her. It’s really amusing, as she digs herself deeper and deeper into the lie (and fall deeper in love with Kelan). We watch her struggle, running this way and that trying to be both Kiera and Elyn. We also get to see her fall in love with her sister’s betrothed, and he fall in love with her, despite all the mistrust in the relationship.

I really detested Elyn in this book. She was irresponsible, and didn’t think of the repercussion for her family and her poor sister. It was hard to admire Kiera, because of her silliness and naivete (I mean a responsible adult would not have continued to be Elyn), but I was still able to enjoy the story. I really found myself liking Kelan, he seemed like a good guy. He was reliable, and he wanted to make the marriage work. He wanted to trust ‘Elyn’. He stood up for her and gave her the benefit of the doubt, and he fell hard and fast from his masculine pedestal. For a bone-head he came around pretty quickly.
I wish there had been another twenty pages at the end, however. It had the capacity to be really beautiful and touching, and instead Jackson just glossed over what could have been the most beautiful moment in the story. But all is well that ends well and the rest of the book was delightfully fun.

Favorite quote:

“Some of us are not so lucky as to have been born with a royal scepter dangling between our legs.” (Morwenna)
“Sexy”ness Rating: Hot Hot Hot!
Overall Rating: B
Bottom Line: Cute and silly and pretty romantic, though a little bit lacking in the deep emotion I like to see. The end was a bit rushed, but it was a wonderful, fun, silly little romp.

Pages: 336
Published: April 1, 2003
Genre: Medieval/Historical

Temptress by Lisa Jackson

Book 2 of the Medieval Trilogy Series

     I have to admit that Lisa Jackson develops an excellent suspense plot and a great mystery. I was guessing almost to the end. Unfortunately, I was also guessing who the romance was supposed to be between. Without spoiling the book, I can’t tell you why, because it’s truly a very big surprise.
     Suffice it to say that the entire time ‘Carrick’ was injured (severely) and spent most of his time in bed. For most of the book he wasn’t able to speak or wouldn’t speak. There’s one conversation that they end up having, before their passionate lovemaking.

Morwenna talks to him while he’s unable to lift his eyelids about how much she loved him all those years ago – and we see glimpses into her past with Carrick and how cute they were together. We believe this man in bed is Carrick, and so does she, and she talks to him about how much she still loves him… maybe three times. All of a sudden, then, we find out that he’s not actually Carrick but his older brother Thoren who had amnesia because of his injuries and the attack that left him nearly dead? WHAT? And she’s suddenly way in love with him though they’ve only had one conversation and sex? What? It’s all so sudden and… really unrealistic. I mean, who finds herself in love with the brother of a man she thought she was in love with and, in truth, knows almost nothing about? I would be repulsed that I’d had sex with him not knowing at all who he is, not suddenly in love with him.

     Morwenna isn’t really the strong woman Jackson tries to tell us. She isn’t headstrong or slow to fall in love again. Her behavior is strange and erratic – there’s a dramatic contrast between what her actions tell us and what Jackson tells us. Not that it matters, because most of the time we don’t get to focus on her romantic behavior. In fact, there was very little romance altogether. I was sorely disappointed. After reading the much more romantic Impostress (the book that occurs first in this ‘series’ of related books) this book was second-rate. In the end, this book got a less than average rating because it wasn’t a romance book. Really. There was like, no romance. I kid you not. The only redeeming factors were that I liked the one romantic conversation they did have (ONE) and liked the suspense.

Favorite quotes:

The man who had lifted more hems than the local seamstress…

“Have you no shred of decency?” (Morwenna)
“Apparently not.” (uh… Carrick?)

Overall Rating: C –

"Sexy"ness Rating: Mildly Hot.

Bottom Line: This book is average, and was a good read – but it wasn’t a romance. Its plot is a bit confusing, though certainly suspenseful. There are some creepy moments that I wasn’t so fond of. The romance was NOT well developed at all, however.

Pages: 321
Published: October  4, 2005
Genre: Medieval/Historical/Mystery/Suspense

Saturday, March 26

Making of a Gentleman by Shana Galen

Book 2 in the Sons of the Revolution Series

How unfortunate. I was so excited to read this book, and it turned out to be a flop. Miss Felicity Bennett, the poor daughter of a deceased vicar is to become Armand Harcourt’s, the Comte de Velére, tutor. She has been hired to teach him how to speak. Armand has been in prison for about half his life and his just recently been rescued by his brother, Julien, the duc. He will not speak to anyone, and has not spoken in years. Miss Bennett is supposed to coax it out of him, as well as teach him how to be a polite member of society (which never happens, so... in essence... she's a failure).
Upon first meeting the Comte, Miss Bennett finds herself enraptured by his wild good looks, and he finds himself equally attracted to her. He loves her music and her… ah… yellow hair. He sweeps her up into his arms, to… to do what? Ah, the first of many problems. Armand doesn’t know about kissing or making love because he’s been in prison for years and years, ever since he was a boy. So… how on earth does he know what to do? That thought was niggling at the back of my mind, whenever they went at it. How does he know he wants her naked? How does he know he wants her hoo hah if he’s never heard of one or even knows it exists? The illogical, unrealistic nature of it all bothered me.
Second, I get really annoyed at plots that are too simple, too easy to solve. The main problem for Felicity was her betrothed, Charles, who owed plenty of money to debtors. Galen built this huge suspenseful plot around him *BIG SPOILER ALERT*, completely blowing up the situation with mentions of murder and scandal… and then it was solved by Charles getting dragged to debtor’s prison. And the same thing happened with the main suspense surrounding the Comte. Run off to France for a day, sneak off unnoticed, find the treasure - there it is, its been there all along! Amazing! - and goodbye bad guys. *END OF BIG SPOILER ALERT* 'What?' I found myself crying out, 'All this suspense for that shitty little climax?' I felt like I was being cheated. Like Galen got lazy at the end and just wrote off the whole thing with a few sentences. Some of the scenes were also a little confusing.
Thirdly, I hate those stories where the hero only likes something if the heroine does it (I’m not talking sexually). I mean, why is it the Comte can stand Felicity’s touch, but no one else’s, right from the bat? And why does he trust her right away when he distrusts everyone else and hates to leave his back unprotected? It always seems false to me when a writer does that – because it is false. This man who can’t bear anyone’s touch, even that of his gentle mother, suddenly starts picking up this girl and hauling her away over his shoulder (literally, he does this! What is with the caveman approach?) as if he’s totally okay with the touchy-feely? I, again, felt like Galen was being lazy. It seemed as though she didn’t want to take the time to make them discover and trust one another. As if she wanted to jump straight into love and lust. So, unfortunately, Galen gets a low grade on this one for its disjointed writing, small climaxes, and the unrealistic  behavior of characters.
 I will say this small positive, though. The scene where the Comte tells her he loves her is beautiful and touching. *Sniff*
Favorite quote:
“Therefore, Miss Bennett, I must ask you – what are your intentions toward my son?” (The Dowager Duchess, the Comte’s Mother)

“Sexy”ness rating: Hot…ish.
Overall Rating: D+
Bottom Line: If you like deep suspense that goes nowhere, a tortured hero who at first can’t speak and has never heard of sex (or done it before) but is remarkably good at it anyway, and lackluster romance, characters (primary, secondary, protagonist, antagonist and supporting were all completely flat), and scenes this book is for you! Others… beware. There are very few redeeming moments in this book, and almost no wit. This is not one of Galen's finest.
Pages: 363
Published: August 27, 2010
Genre: Historical

Friday, March 25

What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long

Book 5 in the Pennyroyal Green Series

Oh my. *fans self* Lord Alex Moncrieffe, Duke of Falconbridge, has bumped some poor unfortunate, insignificant hero off my favorite heroes list and has taken his place in second behind Dain (Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels). He is a beautifully dark, enigmatic character, and Long crafts him so carefully with his hard exterior and soft, sweet, sensual, loving interior. Despite the large age difference between our heroine Genevieve Eversea and Alex, the story was not creepy but delightful. He needed her innocent youth to realize the beauty of love, and she needed his maturity to see that she could only be happy someone who loved her for all of her.
     Alex finds a man in bed with his fiancée, Abagail, which is how the book starts. He coolly dismisses the man (Ian Eversea) and his fiancée, and we see the extremely thick armor he wears to protect his beautiful, sensitive heart. We see how completely misunderstood he is. How lonely he must be, and how strong he is despite that. We admire his strength of character, his wit, and his perverse charm. He is amused by playing havoc with those around him because it keeps him separate from others - and if he is separate, no one can get close enough to touch his heart and possibly break it. He is a man overflowing with love – so full of it that he locks it inside for fear of its power. He is afraid to let it go.
     He begins on a quest to ruin Genevieve Eversea, Ian’s sister, with the intention of revenge. She, being extraordinarily clever and perceptive, catches him in his game, and he is resigned to getting his revenge on Ian in other ways – which is very, very humorous. Meanwhile, Alex begins to pursue Genevieve, already deep in love with her though he doesn’t quite know it. Genevieve, however, is “in love” with Harry, her friend who clearly doesn’t get it and who she believes is going to propose to their best friend, Millicent. She is heartbroken over this, and Alex is the one to bring her out of the funk.
     The only thing that really irked me about Genevieve is how naïve she is. Alex understands who she really is (as the flowers are evident) and Harry doesn’t. And still she doesn’t realize Alex loves her, and still she doesn’t realize that Harry isn’t the one for her because even after knowing her for three years, he doesn’t know the true her. Alex sees the intense, passionate Genevieve locked beneath her quiet exterior, and he goes about wooing her in a quiet, careful way, so afraid of getting hurt and so enamored with her anyway.
     Alex is amazing. He is caring and thoughtful, even while hiding behind his cruel and indifferent façade (which is hysterical at times). We, the readers, can see right through it and it warms our heart. We see a tough man with a hard, bitter exterior – and the sweetest self hidden inside that’s its almost impossible to bear watching him struggle to be brave enough to bring it to light. Genevieve is lucky to have his love, because it is powerful, deep, and true. *sniff* The ending, when he lets her go, throwing in the estate and the painting... oh, he's so sweet.
Favorite quotes:
“I find that art moves me.” (Alex)
She examined him. “I suspect it moves you in the opposite direction.” (Genevieve)
“My third button is so often a wallflower during balls I doubt it will mind your conversation overmuch.” (Alex)
“Sexy”ness rating: Devastatingly hot
Overall Rating: A+
Bottom Line: A little lacking when Alex first meets Genevieve, however the Duke of Falconbridge is such an enigma, such a deep, lusciously dark man that he more than makes up for it. The wit and the humor on the part of both the hero and the heroine (poor Ian Eversea!) made the story all the more delicious!
Pages: 373
Published: February 2, 2011
Genre: Historical

Thursday, March 24

A Most Sinful Proposal by Sara Bennett

Book 2 in The Husband Hunters Club Series
     A Most Sinful Proposal was beautifully touching (and I loved the rose on the cover, completely appropriate). It tells the story of a second girl in The Husband Hunters Club, Marissa Rotherhild. She believes herself to be in love with George Kent – and goes to attend a house party of his with her grandmamma (Lady Beverly), only to find that there has been a misunderstanding. There is no house party, and George is nowhere to be found. However his older brother, Lord Valentine Kent, becomes their most ungracious host. He is a solitary man, an expert on roses (which I love), and currently on a quest to find the Crusader’s Rose. While entertaining Lady Beverly and Marissa, he invites them on his quest. And then the romance blooms (pun fully intended).
     I loved the characters in this story because they were so real. You could feel their pain as if it was your own, and you go on the journey with them. Instead of being an observor to their joys and troubles, you are immersed in them – Marissa’s fears, doubts, and love as well as Valentine’s. She doesn’t want to marry a man who has anything to do with botany, because of her parents overwhelming love of the science that left her feeling neglected as a child. He believes himself a beast because of his bitch of a first wife whose presence runs like poison in his memory. Lady Beverly and George are adorable supporting characters – and I only wish we’d seen a little more of Lady Beverly. She was an adorable old lady who really brought the story together and helped abate Marissa’s fears and doubts surrounding her love for Valentine.
     The plot was good, thick, and suspenseful. Each time we believed we were about to discover the rose, we didn’t. Each time we believed we were going to be confronted by the villainous Baron, Bennett let the suspense build and then fall back, keeping us on edge. It was a great plot – almost too great because it kept me from focusing on the romance all the time. And there was a little too much creepiness and violence surrounding the villain and his madman schemes, for my taste at least. He was really a sketch-ball and I was glad to be rid of him, though the way he died disturbed me a little. Anyways, great book, excellent characters, a little darkness in the plot, but overall a fantastic read!
Favorite quotes:
“Would you pay the ransom to get me back?” (George)
“No,” Valentine replied shortly.
“Thank you,” he said, his voice deep and husky. “For making me the most fortunate of men.”
“Babies cry, Valentine, and children can be noisy. And naughty-” (Marissa)
He laughed, “I know; I was both.”
“Sexy”ness rating: Hot!
Overall Rating: A-
Bottom Line: If you don’t mind a little violence in the plot (NOT the hero towards the heroine) and you love a deep, soul-stirring, emotional romance this is a good one for you. It’s a beautiful story of the doubts and fears that shape people – and how they overcome them together, with love.
Pages: 367
Published: March 27, 2010
Genre: Historical

Led Astray by a Rake by Sara Bennett

Book 1 in The Husband Hunters Club Series

     Olivia Monteith has just been finished (that is she has graduated from finishing school). She is expected to make a good marriage to Mr. Garsed who is a rich, attractive, though obnoxiously stuck up and vain man. However the only man she truly desires is “Wicked Nic” – Lord Dominic Lacey, who vowed to marry her when she was ten. She has loved him ever since he saved her small self from drowning in the stream. They had become good friends until he cut their acquaintance short and she went to school.
     Now she is back, and seeking Nic’s hand in marriage. Yes, miladies, she proposes to him. He says no. She pursues him - adorably, and with unmatched determination. She follows him to places no finished lady would go and he drags her back to where its safe, because he cares about her (even if he won't admit it). He spends a lot of his time being a grouch because he wants her and doesn’t believe he is good enough to have her. She plagues him anyways, because she believes he is good enough - she can see the real him. Normally I get annoyed with heroes that are all emo and constantly mope, but Nic isn’t nearly as annoying as most of those heroes. In fact, its more endearing than irritating with Nic.
     I won’t say too much about the plot – just that it was excellent, suspenseful, and twisted. The characters were fantastic, the romance was the focus of the story, but Bennett led us through an adventure as we explored “Wicked Nic” and his past's secrets. And those secrets were really… ah… surprising, I must say. All in all, the plot was amazing, the characters even better. Olivia was a great break from the usual damsel-in-distress. She was take-charge, bold, witty, and loveable. No wonder Nic found her irresistible!
Favorite quotes:
“The only husband worth having is the husband you hunt yourself.” (Part of The Husband Hunters Club Pledge)
 Miriam stared at her a moment, and then gave a titter, lifting her fan to hide her mouth. “Oh, Lady Lacey,” she said, full of malice, “I’m surprised your husband hasn’t told you.” And she gave Nic a sideways glance for good measure. “Madam Esmeralda is a dressmaker for the demimonde. No respectable woman will go to her. If I were you, I would cancel your order immediately.”
 Olivia’s calm smile didn’t even falter, as Nic couldn’t help but wonder if she had been preparing for this moment. “Well, now I understand, Mrs. Cathcart,” she said.
 “Understand what?” Miriam asked.
“Why she knew you,” Olivia said.
“Sexy”ness rating:  Hot!
Overall Rating: A
Bottom Line: Full of love and understanding and sweet, sweet temptation. This book is for any historical romance lover, and anyone who loves a heroine who knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to go get it.
Pages: 373
Published: May 21, 2009
Genre: Historical

Monday, March 21

Anticipation by Patrice Michelle

I give Ms. Michelle the award for the most-overused title-cliché in the history of romantic writing. The word 'anticipation' appears so many times in the book, I couldn’t decide if I should laugh, cry, or gag. Also, what was with the goat noises partway through their first sexy scene? The beginning, sure; the end, why not? But right in the middle? I don’t know about you, but goats ruin my mood.
Onto the story itself. Jonas Mendez and Diedre Nelson have loved each other since she left town ten years ago. Diedre moved to the city and hasn’t returned once. However, she has now returned to Ventura to run the small Bed and Breakfast her parents own while they go on vacation. Acts of vandalism against her B+B force her and Sheriff Mendez together – which leads almost immediately to some oh-la-la-bang with a side of cookies (really, I’m serious!). Where the emotional stuff falls a little (a lot) weak in times, the lusty, sexy, unrequited passion mostly makes up for it. Just saying, the scene on the horse - well, there's really nothing to say. It was... mmmmm.... 
The plot falls by the wayside and is sorely underdeveloped, but it serves its purpose of reuniting the characters. It’s a little sad that we don’t get to see them grow to like each other at all, we just get to see them sex each other up. I think it had all the trappings to become a great story but it was lacking a lot of excitement and emotion and it felt a little dull and lackluster to me. Unfortunately, this was a story where it seemed the events reacted to and revolved around the characters, instead of the characters reacting to life's events. Its just that little tilt that makes this story seem a tad off-kilter.
Favorite quotes:
“Sheriff Mendez, I know you just got off, but we need you down at the station ASAP!” (Radio)
“Tell him you haven’t gotten off yet, but when you’re done, you’ll get right back to him.” (Deidre)
“I was sure the moment you said, ‘In another life’.” Jonas froze at her statement. After all these years, she remembered his last words to her. What did that say about her? It says she’s one helluva woman, you jackass, and if you keep her waiting any longer she may just tell you she’d rather wait for you in another life.
“Sexy”ness rating: Hot!
Overall Rating: C+
Bottom Line: If you like sexy cowboys taking their long-lost sweetheart for a ride, grab your saddle and YEE-HAW! Looking for emotion beyond delicious, sexy passion? Seek elsewhere.
Pages: around 100
Published: October 23, 2007
Genre: Western

Saturday, March 19

Unleashed by Cherrie Lynn

(not an official series, but look for Rock Me starring Brian!)

Meet Kelsey Peterson and Evan Ross – lawyers working for opposite sides of the courtroom, best friends of ten years, and co-partners in crimes of the sexual nature (really, the noise level is just criminal). Kelsey and Evan have been best friends since college, where Kelsey met (and eventually married) Evan’s best friend Todd. She and Todd weren’t terribly happy together, and one day Kelsey comes home to find Todd and Evan’s fiancée sleeping together. Oops.
So, Evan and Kelsey must now journey through the grief together – through the break-up and the divorce, they linger awkwardly as friends. Evan, however, apparently wants a little more than awkward friendship from Kelsey. What better way to get that than lots of margaritas and a trip to Hawaii? Yes. A trip to Hawaii. Evan’s parents have paid for a honeymoon trip to Hawaii – and since he’s no longer getting married to Courtney (the cheating ex-fiancée) he’s free to give her half of the trip to Kelsey.
What follows? Lots of sun, tears, and especially good… ah… waves. Plenty of hot sex. Like, all the time. But intermingled with the hot hot sex was a lot of emotion. Their closeness was evident. The friendship was clear. I liked that Lynn made the characters seem real – real fears and doubts and thoughts. Things I could identify with as a reader. There were moments when I… felt like… *sniff* I might cry along with Kelsey.
Todd almost comes back and blows it, and Courtney needs to stay out of the way (the classy whore!). But this was a pretty good mix of lust and love. I could feel the emotion burning behind the sexy language. Lynn keeps it sweet and tender, fierce and loving all the way to the end. And Kelsey's best friend, Lisa, is a hoot. A pregnant, emotional hoot.
Favorite quotes:
“I’m a little sore. He said ‘Good morning’ and she said ‘Are you Serious?’” (Kelsey)
‘C-section this time. Can you believe it? By the third, you’d think they could fall out like paratroopers. But noooo. I told Daniel my uterus is officially retired.” (Lisa)
“I mean it, if you want to go to law school, then go, and I will support you all the way. I’ll even throw in free tutoring. Wait until you see my Socratic method, baby.” (Evan)
“Sexy”ness rating: Lots n’ lots o’ hots!!!
Overall Rating: A-
Bottom Line: If you like lots of hot, contemporary-style sex and sweet lovin’ between now-more-than-friends, this is one for you!
Pages: 216 pages
Published: April 21, 2009
Genre: Contemporary

Thursday, March 17

To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

Book 3 in the Legend of the Four Soldiers series
     Elizabeth Hoyt has an amazing series – of which I have read only 2 out of the 4 books so far, but plan on remedying that directly – on four men who are returning emotionally and, in To Beguile a Beast’s case, physically scarred from battle. In order to like this book you must:
     1. Love men who you can sense truly and obviously need a woman in their life, even if they don’t know it yet
     2. Not be a hunk snob or hate slightly emo, mentally battle-scarred soldiers
     3. Be able to sympathize with Helen’s mistress situation.
     Please note that I could do all of those things, and thus adored the book. I love battle-scarred soldiers because they are so compassionate, loyal, and kind (clearly they are good souls because they have been scarred from the violence they have witnessed). I love watching the woman teach them love and happiness again, give them a future they never thought they could have (which Helen does in this book). To me, that’s an important part of being female and these kinds of books speak wonders about how amazing women are – we are love and happiness, and we bring our joy and light to those we love.
     But to the novel. Sir Alistair Munroe is a naturalist who, while in America studying flora and fauna, was attacked along with Regiment he was travelling with. He was captured and tortured – and lost two fingers, an eye, and is covered with hideous scars on one half of his face. Helen Fitzwilliam is on the run from the Duke of Lister, to whom she was a mistress for 14 years. He is the father of her two adorable children – sweet, sensitive Abigail (9 years old) and boisterous Jamie (5 years old) whom she has with her. She and her children take refugee in his castle, under the guise of Helen being his new housekeeper. Their relationship grows and flourishes beautifully, and includes frequent, deep, sensuous lovemaking. And it’s truly lovemaking because underneath the lust the love is very, very evident.
     Basically, this book was great. There were a few parts where the plot fell flat, but Hoyt made up for that with the beauty of the passion of her hero and heroine. The pain he has found in life as an ‘ugly freak’ and the pain that has been served her in life as a beauty has united them as they both seek new beginnings, away from the shallowness that has consumed their lives. It’s truly a beautiful journey. This was a romance that spoke to my soul.
Favorite quotes:
“I can instruct you further, if you wish, on how to properly manipulate the pole.” (Alistair)
“This is the clitoris. It was discovered by Signor Gabriele Falloppio in 1561.” (Alistair)
“You mean… you mean no one knew it existed until 1561?” (Helen)
“Another Italian anatomist, a man named Colombo claimed to have made the discovery two years prior to Signor Falloppio.”
“I think I feel sorry for these gentleman’s wives.”
“I think, then, that I prefer we use this lemon for lemonade.” (Helen)
“Sexy”ness rating: Hot Hot Hot!!!!
Overall Rating: A-
Bottom Line: This book has an emotional depth that pulls at your heart, as you watch Helen and especially Alistair struggle to trust and love. It’s a beautiful, touching historical that I would recommend to any non-hunk-snob. Just read it.
Pages: 331 pages
Published:  April 14, 2009
Genre: Historical

Wednesday, March 16

The Unmasking of Lady Loveless by Nicola Cornick

Oh the woe of the short story! Underdeveloped characters and an underdeveloped emotional journey made me weep – though in 50 pages its hard to use anything other than the bare basics, which makes for dull one-dimensional relationships and characters. Alex Walon (Lord Beaumont) is the second son of a duke who is forced into marriage with Lady Melicent Durham. They become estranged because of her 'cold, stiff lovemaking' (ouch!), her sick mother, and his anger. They stay apart because, well, there’s no reason to get back together and their pride won’t let them. They get back together because Alex learns that Melicent is the Lady Loveless – an erotic writer with incredibly accurate sources. He goes to confront her about her ‘infidelity’ – and seduce her with his incredi-wang bang, oh la la!
            Now let me say, I love those stories where the man and his wife fall back in love – but it requires some real emotional depth, because something really hurtful must have happened to break them apart. In this case, the story was too short for them to make an emotional journey together, to watch them build trust – so Cornick opted to use lust to heal all wounds, which upset me. I love watching these couples learn to trust and love each other by getting to really know one another and spend time together. With Alex and Melicent, it was like they were 'in love' (via lust) the moment she opened the door. It was a little out of character – or a lot out of character. I mean, females, we stay angry and hurt. Her total acceptance of him and his actions didn’t speak to me of the strong woman she claimed to be, but of a weak-willed woman instead and it contradicted a main part of her character.
            As far as the love making goes – unreal. Literally. It’s all very cliché – the guy has a huge ding dong and he loves (surprise, surprise!) how open and responsive she is to said ding dong. She, in turn, has multiple, multiple orgasms. They fall asleep, and the next morning have an enlightening conversation while she makes an attempt for modesty. One interesting thing? I’ve never heard of an author mentioning a hero’s shriveling wang – possibly because the image of his bow-wow-boner shriveling into a shelled peanut isn’t that attractive to the reader (or maybe it’s just me).
Favorite quote:
Melicent looked at him, a slight frown on her brow. “It is very hot in here.”
He knew.
“You look rather flushed, my lord. Are you developing a fever?”
He certainly was.
“Sexy”ness rating: Hot!
Overall Rating: C-

Bottom Line: This is a short, short, short sampling of a sexy couple! If you want something quick to read on the plane, here’s a sweet little treat for you!
Pages: around 50
Published: October 23, 2008
Genre: Historical

Thursday, March 10

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

Book One of the Love by Numbers Series
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake was enchanting, from start to finish. I couldn’t put it down – and when I reached the end I started over again, to watch the love bloom once more. I can only hope Callie and Ralston will be mentioned again in the second and third books of Sarah Maclean’s Love by Numbers series. Maclean write beautifully, the characters are witty and realistic. I loved watching Ralston the Rake transform into Callie’s Ralston, without even knowing it. And I loved how he helped her follow her list and find herself. Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always lived to meet everyone else’s standards, and Gabriel St. John, Marquess of Ralston encourages her to live to meet her own. He assists her in completing her list of nine unladylike things. He helps her discover herself, and its beautiful and totally touching because as he helps her, he falls in love with the woman she is becoming – the woman who is true to herself. He never noticed her before, when she was abiding by all of society's rules, but now that she's following her hoplessly romantic heart, he can't help but follow her.
            The book revolves around Callie’s desire, as an aging spinster, to live her life the way she wants to, since living the way the ton requires hasn’t made her anything but lonely. She makes her list, and sets out to accomplish one of them – kiss someone, passionately – by visiting Ralston (the only man she’s ever had a crush on, since her coming out) in the middle of the night, in his quarters. Just as a side note - he plays piano, all alone in his room, and it so adorable! It shows his deep, passionate, restlessly emotional side that he pours into his music when all alone. *sigh* Anyways, he trades her his kisses in exchange for her help in introducing his Italian half-sister, Juliana (what a sweetie!!), to the ton, since Callie is so respectable. From there, Callie and Ralston continue to see each other in unexpected places – like taverns and a men’s fencing club (possibly my favorite scene in the entire book). I won’t tell you too much, because I loved this book and I want you to read it and discover how beautiful their love is for yourself.
            What was my favorite part of the book? You could really feel the love they had for each other. It is real and stems from who they are - from their past, from their dreams and goals and hopes and pains and sorrows and joys. It wasn’t just on-the-surface lust or something the author conjured up to make her readers happy. No, it grew from their encounters and from their characters. Maclean wrote the story to make her characters happy – and so blissfully happy they were. They were true to themselves while growing to love one another. They didn’t have to give up any part of their character to be together - in fact, especially in Callie's case, they freed themselves by loving one another. That's what love should be. Totally freeing. They naturally came together, like pieces of life’s puzzle that were meant to fall into place. It was… *sniff* stunning, just a story filled with stunning love and, overall, a stunning journey.
Some favorite quotes:

“You may admit it. I look rather too much like an apricot.” (Callie)
 This time, he laughed aloud. “An apt comparison. But I wonder, is there ever a point where one looks enough like an apricot?” (Ralston)

“You think I orchestrated these throngs to ensnare you?” (Ralston)
“I wouldn’t doubt it.” (Callie)

"Kisses should not leave you satisfied... They should leave you wanting."

“Sexy”ness rating: beautifully, sensually hot
Overall Rating: A to A+
Bottom Line: Read this book if you like beautiful, powerful true love stories. Actually, scratch that. Everyone should read this book. No conditions.

Pages: 393
Published: March 10, 2010
Genre: Historical
Other books in the series (click the link to view ):