Friday, July 31, 2015

The Travis Series Revisited: Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

So, I’m alive! I know, long time, no blog post. Life has a way of speeding by and with little bumps in my personal life (running + injuries = lots of time in PT), reviewing took a bit of back seat. I’ve still been reading but I’ve found myself in the biggest reading slump I’ve ever been in. Everything I’ve read over the past few months was just fine. Fine. There is NO worse word for a reviewer to think after finishing a book then that it was fine. Because writing a ‘fine’ review for every book means every review started to sound exactly the same. Now I have read a few winners recently, most notably the next Archangel’s Guild book by Nalini Singh (Naasir’s story!) is a must read. And possibly my most anticipated book in years is finally out in August, Joe Travis’s story in Brown Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas. That book and the Travis series is what brought me back to the blog. It’s hands down my most re-read series ever, with book 2 Blue Eyed Devil being the book I’ve read more than any other. We all have that book, the one that we picked up randomly one day and read and the stars aligned because it’s the exact story that we needed at the exact right time. For me, it’s Blue Eyed Devil (BED). The story itself isn’t all the complicated or complex, although it does deal with domestic abuse, so the storyline is a little heavier than in the others books. But Kleypas has a way with words and she especially has a way of writing southern, Texan heroes that makes me fall in love. Fall in love with the hero and heroine. Fall in love with the setting and years ago when I first picked up BED, it made me fall in love with contemporary romance and changed my book life.

With the upcoming release of Brown Eyed Girl, the last in the Travis series, quickly approaching, I did another series reread, cover to cover starting with Sugar Daddy. While I’m not going to review each book, as I was reading the stories, new things popped out and maybe it’s because I’ve been reading a lot of stinkers lately, but these books for me have stood the test of time and still come out on top of all of the other hundreds of books I’ve read. With that, here’s part 1 of a 4-part posting series with the book that started it all, Sugar Daddy.

The span of three or four minutes is pretty insignificant in the scheme of things. People lose hundreds of minutes everyday, squandering them on trivial things. But sometimes in those fragments of time, something can happen you'll remember the rest of your life.

Sugar Daddy introduces us to the powerful and insanely rich Travis family. Oldest son Gage, his half-siblings Jack, Joe and Haven and their father Churchill. We also meet our heroine Liberty and the boy her teenage heart fell in love with Hardy Cates. With the story being told from Liberty’s POV, and starting out with her as a young teen, we see all her struggles and the place Hardy has in her life, being her protector in their trailer park in the poor town of Welcome, Texas. Hardy goes off to make something of himself, crushing Liberty’s heart into a million pieces. But when her mother dies suddenly, Liberty becomes the mom to her infant sister Carrington and grows up fast. She finds work in a salon, she becomes friends with Churchill Travis and through that friendship she meets Gage – who hates Liberty from the start. Of course that just makes their romance all the sweeter, seeing Gage fall for her page by page.

When I first read Sugar Daddy, I was SO invested in Hardy as Liberty’s hero. He gets a huge chunk of page time, the first half of the book and we don’t even meet Gage until the second half. That’s a slight annoyance, Gage deserved more page time, but it’s a small blip in an otherwise addicting story. But Gage makes the most of the time he does get on page and he’s hard to resist. When the ever-dependable and often brooding Gage gets laid up with the flu and has no one in his life to help him, Liberty’s big heart can’t say no and she goes to him. Their relationship changes after that one visit and I went from being completely pro Liberty & Hardy to Gage all the way. There’s just something about seeing this larger than life, successful businessman, who’s hard and tough around the edges, brought to his knees by a woman he can’t live without. And sure Hardy has to come back to rock the boat but by that time I was completely in love with Gage and Liberty and their romance that gained steam with every page.

“What are you thinking?" he [Gage] asks.

I [Liberty] know Gage hates it when I cry - he is completely undone by the sight of tears - so I blink hard against the sting. "I'm thinking how thankful I am for everything," I say, "even the bad stuff. Every sleepless night, every second of being lonely, every time the car broke down, every wad of gum on my shoe, every late bill and losing lottery ticket and bruise and broken dish and piece of burnt toast."

His voice is soft. "Why, darlin'?"

"Because it all led me here to you.”

While we learn all about the bigger than life Travis family, this was Liberty's story to tell. I loved being able to follow Liberty first as a young teen growing up in the dirt poor small town of Welcome. Watching as her mother made mistake after mistake with the men in life, and then becoming pregnant with Liberty's young sister Carrington. Liberty then takes on the role of mom to Carrington, even though she's still a teen and needs her own mother, who dies in a car wreck not long after Carrington is born. We see her struggle to make ends meet, but she wants so much more out of life not only for herself but for Carrington. With some help she never realized she was getting, she goes to beauty school, gets a steady job, meets Churchill and her life is never the same after that meeting. I absolutely loved seeing Liberty's life play out, seeing the strong woman she becomes and seeing her finally find love and happiness with a man she never saw coming. She's a memorable heroine and in a series filled with strong Texan heroes who take over the minute they come on page, Liberty held her own and her story is one that I'll never forget.

Sugar Daddy was my introduction to this powerful family and to a strong heroine that I loved getting to know in Liberty. And it served as a great introduction to Hardy, being able to see the childhood he pulled himself up from and it lends itself as a great lead in to Blue Eyed Devil, book 2 in the series and my absolute favorite book, period.

(to be continued...)


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: The Bourbon Kings (Bourbon Kings Series #1) by J.R. Ward

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood delivers the first novel in an enthralling new series set amid the shifting dynamics of a Southern family defined by wealth and privilege—and compromised by secrets, deceit, and scandal....

For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.

The Bourbon Kings introduces us to the Bradford family. Their family is the leader in the bourbon industry, their estate is a small city in and of itself and within the walls of their mansion lies so many secrets and scandals, it led to a new revelation with every turning page. Our leads are Lane and Lizzie. Tulane (Lane) is the rich son of William Baldwine and has been living in New York for the past two years with zero desire to go home. He left his heart with Lizzie and after their relationship came to a screaming halt, he left but not before marrying another woman he knocked up. He left her behind, she lost the child (at least that how she tells it) and Lane has been licking his wounds on his best friend’s couch and playing poker. When he gets a phone call that the woman who raised him was ill, he heads home. It’s derby week, something Lane wants nothing to do with, but his family’s estate hosts a million dollar pre-derby party for the richest of the rich and Lane finds himself right in the middle of not only that, but many family secrets and drama that comes to a head. Through it all, the only person he wants to see is Lizzie. The woman he still loves and will do anything to be with again.

Lizzie is the head gardener at the Easterly estate (Lane’s family home – I know so many different names that all reference the same people) and the last thing she wants to do is face Lane. She made the mistake of loving and trusting him once only to be burned badly, but he’s back and she can’t escape the inevitable meeting they have. Whether she wants to or not, she still has feelings for him as well, but it’s not easy for her to forget the past, especially with Lane’s wife living on the estate. But of course, Lane and Lizzie have it out, put their feelings out there, good, bad and ugly and for Lane, Lizzie ends up being the one calming presence in his life that is spinning out of control.

Ok, talk about family drama. It’s like a cross between Dallas meets Southern Charm. There are so many different family threads and dynamics going on, it’ll be impossible to give you the full picture of everything and everyone we’re introduced to. There are four siblings, Lane, the oldest brother Edward, the missing brother Max and the maybe she’s wicked or maybe she’s just heartbroken sister, Gin. All the siblings are interesting and their stories are built up in a way that has me really curious about each of them. Edward is dealing with physical and mental scars from his past. Gin is dealing with being basically sold by her father into marriage but (spoiler alert – there is a rape scene. It’s quick on page, not incredibly detailed, but still it’s there and it’s uncomfortable) she has a weird love-hate-love relationship with another man, her baby daddy, who has no idea he even has a teenage daughter; I can’t wait for that little bomb to drop. And there’s the missing son Maxwell. No one knows where he is, what he’s doing, only that he’s off the grid and that makes this reader’s ears perk up.

The siblings are just the tip of the characters we’re introduced to. Many friends, enemies and business associates come on page and everyone has a connection to something that’s going on. There’s of course scandal, lies, murder, you name it, this soap opera-esque drama has it. And that’s what ultimately kept me hooked into the story.

What didn’t have me interested was the romance between Lane and Lizzie. There was absolutely no spark between them on page. No chemistry. Nada. Zilch. And you and I both know that J.R. Ward can bring the romance and the sexy on page, but it was just non-existent for Lane and Lizzie and that was disappointing. For being the leads of this book, I found them to be the most boring characters on page. I was so much more interested in everyone else and the supporting characters are the reason I’ll come back for book 2, just to see how things that were set up for them play out.

Even with a romance that was a big miss for me, I enjoyed the family drama that played out and all the various storylines that were set up for future books. Ward wrote the scenes in such a way that I was able to picture exactly what everything looked like, how the estate was set up, even down to hearing those strong southern accents in my head. The drama was over the top and kept me interested and for now, I’ll be back to see what drama unfolds next.

Rating: C+

Release Date: July 28, 2015
Publisher: NAL
J.R. Ward: Webpage | Facebook
Buy Here: | B&N
*eBook provided by publisher for review* 


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review: Moonlight on Nightingale Way (On Dublin Street #6) by Samantha Young

Logan from Echoes of Scotland Street is back with his own smoldering story, as the New York Times bestselling On Dublin Street series returns…

Logan spent two years paying for the mistakes he made. Now, he’s ready to start over. He has a great apartment, a good job, and plenty of women to distract him from his past. And one woman who is driving him to distraction…

Grace escaped her manipulative family by moving to a new city. Her new life, made to suit her own needs, is almost perfect. All she needs to do is find her Mr. Right—or at least figure out a way to ignore her irresistible yet annoying womanizer of a neighbor.

Grace is determined to have nothing to do with Logan until a life-changing surprise slowly begins turning the wild heartbreaker into exactly the kind of strong, stable man she’s been searching for. Only just when she begins to give into his charms, her own messy past threatens to derail everything they’ve worked to build…

The final On Dublin Street series book brings us Logan, who we first met in Echoes of Scotland Street, as an ex-con who’s trying to put his past behind him and start his life over. His next door neighbor, Grace, isn’t so pleased with his many late night visitors and she’s even more annoyed with the thin walls between their bedrooms. They don’t get off on the best foot but when a teenager comes to Logan claiming that he’s her father, Grace is there to help and finds herself hooked into Logan’s life more than she ever expected or wanted to be.

Grace grew up being verbally abused by her mother and finally cut her entire family out of her life years ago. She’s still “removing the venom” as she describes the flashbacks she’ll have to things her mother used to say to her, so her self-confidence isn’t the best. But she has a tight group of friends, her self-made family and she’s making a good life for herself. Now, she’s pulled into Logan’s life and she finds herself falling hard and fast for her irresistible neighbor who needs her help.

This series has been a little up and down for me, I either loved the books or didn’t care for them so I was pleasantly surprised with how easily I got hooked into Logan and Grace’s story. I was intrigued with Logan when he first came into the series during his sister Shannon’s story and I couldn’t wait to learn more about him. He’s sexy, he’s got that bad guy edge and I loved seeing him get thrown for a loop when his, possible daughter, shows up. It’s a plot line that I love more times than not and it worked for me big time here. I loved the daughter, Maia, I thought she was smart and my heart went out to her and her life prior to trying to find Logan. I really liked Logan and how he tries so hard with Maia and how he lets his guard down with Grace. I was especially drawn to Grace. I found her to so likable, so normal and I liked how she fit into Logan and Maia’s life and how taking a chance on Logan helped her finally get rid of the final demons that had been in her ear about her past for far too long.

Logan and Grace together = SEXY. Logan is a total alpha in the bedroom and Grace loves it. She flat out says if she trusts the man she’s with he can do anything he wants in the bedroom. When Logan hears this – yeah it’s all over at that point! They were sexy in the bedroom (or up against the wall) and they provided emotion strength for each other as they both have some issues from their past and present to get through.

I also appreciated that there was no real unneeded angst. Sure, this couple has some bumps along the way, but never did I think “really?” when it came to how they handle the problems that do come up. We get to see plenty of our old friends come across the page, Shannon gets a lot of page time and I always like learning who has kids now and what each past couple is up to.

This ended up being a book I read in a day and I wasn’t expecting to get drawn into the story as much as I did. Logan and Grace are so dang likeable and I loved seeing their relationship unfold. With this being the last book in the series, I appreciated the final chapter and Samantha Young giving us one final update for each couple. It’s a sweet way to end this series and I’m left looking forward to seeing what Young has in store for us next.

Rating: B+

Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: NAL
Samantha Young: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Review: Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling Series #14) by Nalini Singh

The “smoldering heat, epic romance, and awesome action” of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as two Arrows find themselves caught in a chilling conspiracy that spans all three races…

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken…like Zaira.

A new enemy makes themselves known right from the start when Aden and Zaira, two incredibly strong Arrows, are captured and have devices implanted in their brains effectively cutting them off from the PsyNet and any help. They manage to escape, but it’s a life threatening journey that has their path crossing with a remote Changeling group. Aden and Zaira have a lot to focus on – trying to put a face and name to the new threat that is targeting not only the Arrows, but the changelings and other groups trying to cause fighting between them. In addition to that, they’re also trying to create a new life for all Arrows and if that’s not enough, they’re trying to figure out their own relationship and emotions, both things so incredibly new and unknown for all Arrows.

Ah, the Arrows. This very tough, almost a last line of defense group of fighters who were created from a young age to be completely Silent, showing zero emotion and to be the ultimate fighters and killers. With Silence gone and emotion finding its way back into people’s lives, the Arrows aren’t adjusting well. Those who have been Arrows for years may be beyond being rehabbed. The young have a better chance but need a strong leader. Enter Aden, the man who’s going to lead this group into a new way of life, a better way in his mind. He needs help and it comes in many forms. The Es are still present, many are partnered with an Arrow to help ease them into this non-Silent world. He has help from the Changelings in showing the children how to interact together like normal kids. It’s heartbreaking to see these children be so nervous about a simple thing like a hug and having Aden lead by example and give comfort to those who need it is the role model they need . Aden is so focused on everything else around him, he needs someone to take care of him – enter Zaira.

Zaira, to say she had a traumatic past, would be the understatement of the year. She’s incredibly powerful and her parents made sure to beat her completely down when she was a young girl. They abused her until she finally snapped and at the age of seven she killed both her parents in a red haze of rage. To this day, Zaira is still afraid of completely losing herself to that rage that still lives inside her. She’s managed to stuff it deep down, but with the fall of Silence and emotions becoming so very real, she’s afraid that she’ll hurt those she cares about most and that one person to her is Aden. When she was young, he was the one young boy who gave her hope. He was the only one who ever showed her any kindness and from that point on to Zaira, he was hers. She’s so very possessive of him, but in a way that made me feel for her and for everything she’s gone through. Aden wants Zaira by his side and as his mate, but Zaira resists, not sure that she can be the person Aden needs.

Personally, I’m always more drawn to the Changeling stories in this series. There’s something so fun and sweet about seeing the Changelings come together, play together and interact. They are FULL of emotion. So to have a love story about two Arrows who are just now learning about love and dealing with all these feelings that they’re not too sure about, well, I was the one who wasn’t too sure about it to be honest. Aden and Zaira don’t have an ‘in your face’ romance. They don’t steam up the pages and my first thought of their love scenes together definitely wouldn’t be to describe them as sexy, but there was just something about these two people that got me and that worked so well. I really loved how Zaira was the one who took her job of looking after Aden so seriously. She loves him in her own way, and even though she warns him time and again about her and how she’ll act around him (possessive to a high degree!), he wants her completely and when she finally lets him completely in, it’s worth the entire build up.

My favorite storyline outside of seeing Aden and Zaira’s relationship unfold was the building of the Arrows new community. I loved seeing Aden and Zaira interact with the young Arrows and the young Changelings. It’s sweet to see these two people get more comfortable in their roles as leaders and do what their people need them to do. Whether it’s making the tough decisions for their people in the public eye or giving a simple hug or word of encouragement to someone who needs it, Aden and Zaira both lead the charge for their people and I loved seeing them do it side by side.

There’s a part of me that hopes the next book takes us back to one of Changeling packs, I miss the feel of those stories a little bit. They’re what drew me into this series to begin with. But I did enjoy getting to know much more about the Arrows, and especially Aden and Zaira. Two people who meant so much to each other years ago and were able to find hope and happiness together.

Rating: B

Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Berkley
Nalini Singh: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 


Monday, June 1, 2015

Review: Suddenly One Summer by Julie James

From the New York Times bestselling author of It Happened One Wedding comes a novel about a man and a woman whose summer is about to get very, very steamy…

Divorce lawyer Victoria Slade has seen enough unhappy endings to swear off marriage forever. That doesn't mean she's opposed to casual dating—just not with her cocky new neighbor, who is as gorgeous and tempting as he is off-limits. But once she agrees to take on his sister's case, she's as determined to win as ever—even if that means teaming up with Ford…

Investigative journalist Ford Dixon is bent on finding the man who got his sister pregnant and left her high and dry. He's willing to partner with Victoria, despite the fact that the beautiful brunette gets under his skin like no other woman. He might not be looking to settle down, but there's no denying the scorching attraction between them. Still, the more time he spends with Victoria, the more he realizes that the one woman as skeptical about love as he is might be the only woman he could really fall for…

Victoria Slade hasn’t had a great experience in her new home. After her home is broken into with Victoria there and hiding in the closet, she doesn’t feel safe and buys a home at another location that won’t be ready for a few months. In the meantime, she moves into a condo temporarily and right next door to reporter Ford Dixon, a man who unknowingly makes a really bad first impression. Victoria doesn’t want anything to do with Ford, but that doesn’t remain the case for long when Victoria agrees to help Ford’s sister track down her baby’s father for child support. Now, not only is she seeing Ford more often than she’d like but she’s working with him on tracking down the unknown father and getting up close and personal with the sexy reporter, much to Ford’s delight.

Ford saw Victoria across a bar one night and was instantly taken with her. Little did he know she’d turn out to be his new next door neighbor and that she’d have some very pointed opinions of him and his “cavalcade” of women coming and going through his door. He, of course, has a great (and truthful) explanation for everything she sees but it doesn’t put him in the best light and he’s got an uphill battle from the start getting Victoria to come around. As they work together more on his sister’s case he gets to see the real Victoria. She’s not just a hard core divorce attorney with no sense of humor. She’s a compassionate woman who’s fighting hard for people who are going through one of the toughest times in their life. She’s also someone who’s battling past demons which she tries to keep secret, but one crazy train ride with Ford brings it all out in the open. Fainting in the hot hero’s arm does that *grin*. Ultimately, both Ford and Victoria had preconceived beliefs about each other that turned out to be so far from who they really are, it was fun to see them act more and more like themselves the more they were around each other.

Julie James writes some of the most fun and likeable characters in contemporary romance today. Victoria and Ford are two people I’d want to be friends with. They’re fun, they’re hard working and together they were pretty damn sexy. I can’t say though that their story had that special spark that I’ve come to love and expect from James’ leading characters. There was just a little something missing that made me not fall head over heels in love with it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun, it’s completely entertaining and enjoyable, just not a story that stood out. The ending also felt a bit rushed to me. I was wishing for another chapter or something to help bring a little more closure overall to the story.

What I really did love were the scenes stealers in Ford’s two best friends and all around funny guys. I also liked seeing Brooke show up in her best friend role to Ford and give him some good advice he needed to hear regarding Victoria.

I’ve always said if you want the best in contemporary romance, pick up a Julie James book and Suddenly One Summer fits that ticket. It might not be my own personal favorite, but it’s impossible to not enjoy the fun banter and sexiness that is Ford and Victoria.

Rating: B

Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Jove
Julie James: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: Eighth Grave After Dark (Charley Davidson #8) by Darynda Jones

With twelve hellhounds after her, pregnant Charley Davidson takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can’t get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. But after months of being cooped up there, Charley is ready to pop. Both metaphorically and literally since she is now roughly the size of a beached whale. Fortunately, a new case has captured her attention, one that involves a murder on the very grounds the team has taken shelter upon. A decades-old murder of the newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows is almost enough to pull her out of her doldrums.

Charley’s been forbidden to step foot off the sacred grounds. While the angry hellhounds can’t traverse the consecrated soil, they can lurk just beyond its borders. They have the entire team on edge, especially Reyes. And if Charley didn’t know better, she would swear Reyes is getting sick. He grows hotter with every moment that passes, his heat scorching across her skin every time he’s near, but naturally he swears he’s fine.

While the team searches for clues on the Twelve, Charley just wants answers and is powerless to get them. But the mass of friends they’ve accrued helps. They convince her even more that everyone in her recent life has somehow been drawn to her, as though they were a part of a bigger picture all along. But the good feelings don’t last for long because Charley is about to get the surprise of her crazy, mixed-up, supernatural life….

Charley’s back and bigger than ever, literally. She’s about ready to give birth to a baby who could very well change the world as everyone knows it. But first, she and Reyes have been holed up in an old convent for months, trying to escape the ever present hellhounds who are surrounding the grounds just waiting for their chance to get at Charley.

There are, as always, many different storylines all taking place at once. We have Charley’s pregnancy nearing an end. Reyes is becoming very weak and secretive (shocker) and Charley’s determined to figure that mystery out. Charley’s step-mom is around a lot and is part of a big reveal that took me by surprise. We get a wedding, which is fun and really the only light hearted moment in the book. And let’s not forget the big bad, the devil himself, is a major threat here and some things come to head with this guy.

It’s always a fun time with Charley. She has a new case to solve which she somehow does amidst all the craziness that’s going on around her. She learns a little bit more about her abilities and what she’s capable of (pretty much any and everything). While the faceoff with Reyes’ father is a major deal here, the really big story is the baby. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that we actually get a birth, yay! Charley is nearly through her pregnancy when the book starts and frankly, had the baby not been born I’d have been peeved. But we get the birth and we get much more understanding about this little baby, all the bad guys, one specifically, who want to get their hands on her and one incredibly tough decision that changes Charley’s life forever.

To be honest, the ending…I really don’t know what to think about it. I suppose you could call the ending a game changer. Charley makes a decision that rocks her world and I don’t know if I like it. Of course Darynda Jones didn’t call me up to ask my opinion, so there is that, but still weeks after finishing the book, there’s something that just doesn’t sit right with me with this ending. I have faith that Jones will make this all work out, but in a way I feel like we might get shortchanged with some things that could have happened in the future. Vague, much? I know, sorry, but it’s just too pivotal and big to spoil. I’ll just leave it as, the book ends with everything flipped upside down and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m both disappointed in one sense, but interested to see where Jones is going with this. So in that respect, well done Darynda, I’ll be coming back for #9.

Rating: B

Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Darynda Jones: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: | B&N
*ARC provided by publisher for review* 


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Review: The Duke and the Lady In Red (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Place #3) by Lorraine Heath

Sparks fly in the finale of the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Place series, as the last wicked rogue meets his match.

When Rosalind Sharpe gains the attention of the deliciously wicked Duke of Avendale, she’s torn between her distracting attraction to the notorious rogue and the knowledge that he—rich as Croesus—is the perfect target for a deception that will put her swindling days behind her.

However, Avendale is no fool. After he discovers the tantalizing lady packing up to leave London with his coins in tow, he confronts her with a scandalous proposition: she can have all the money she requires…for a week in his bed.

Desperate for the funds, Rose agrees, but on one condition: he must never question her motives. Avendale quickly sees beneath her mask and discovers she is more than passion and pleasure—she is everything he has ever desired. But claiming her requires he unveil her secrets and lose her forever. Unless he can put his own dark past aside and risk everything for a chance at love.

The Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James was a series that I’ve let sit in my TBR pile for months. And months. I stared at books 1 and 2, started to pick them up but always found a reason to just never give page 1 a go. And then I received book 3 in the series, The Duke and the Lady in Red, the blurb sounded really interesting but I always prefer to read a series in order if possible, so finally, I picked up When the Duke Was Wicked. And immediately wondered why in the world I waited so long to read this series. Lorraine Heath has never let me down before, I’ve enjoyed all of her books, so I shouldn’t have been surprised by these characters she brought to life on page and how each book was unique in the difficulties the hero or heroine (or sometimes both) had to face. This isn’t a light and fluffy series. There are fun moments, many that made me smile, but the stories are rich and deep. The books, especially the last book of this trio, is sad and heartbreaking. Yet through all three books which I read back to back to back, the characters and their stories are hard to forget.

This review will be for The Duke and the Lady in Red, but having read the series in order, I’d urge you to do the same. No you certainly don’t need to, the books read fine as standalones. And in fact, the hero of book 3, Avendale, is in and out of the first two books rather quickly and the heroine, Rosalind, isn’t introduced at all, so it’s not necessary to read the books in order. But if you don’t, you’ll miss the overall theme and tone that Heath has given this series – characters who are going through painful, sometimes ugly ordeals that aren’t easily accepted in society; most not accepted at all. These characters are dealing with breast cancer, losing loved ones, surviving rape, the topics are heavy, but the stories and characters are so memorable and watching their lives unfold on page and for the heroes and heroines, finding love, was such a satisfying ride. With The Duke and the Lady In Red, we meet Rose, a swindling woman who has her sights set on Avendale, a man with more money than he knows what to do with. He’s a darker hero, with a past that has kept him unsettled for years, he wants nor desires to have any attachments in his life, including a wife. But after seeing Rose, he wants her however he can have her. After quickly uncovering Rose’s plot to free him of some of his funds, he strikes a deal with her: he’ll give her the money if she’ll spend one week with him. She accepts and their relationship takes a turn to the bedroom before turning into so much more than either Avendale or Rose ever expected.

This is really Rose’s story to tell. Yes, she’s a swindler, stealing from wealthy men to help support her unique family. I don’t want to spoil anything related to one of the main supporting characters. But will leave it as this: Harry, the man who Rose will do anything for, has such an amazing impact on this story. From his own personal hell, to the people he meets and especially for Avendale, he impacts so many people and left this reader in tears.

So you have Rose who has lived her life full of lies, and as a result, never really living it at all. And Avendale who’s held everyone, his family included, at arms-length, with a different woman in his bed until he grows tired of them and moves on. He’s never thought about wanting a family, never wanted or had someone to care about or care for him. He gets a taste of that with Rose and he’s addicted. He feels something for her that he’s never felt before and it changes him. To see this man’s heart come out on page in the things that he does, both for Rose and the people in her life, it made me love this hero a little bit more with every page that went by. Their romance is incredibly sexy (mmmhmmm) but it’s their relationship that caught and kept my attention. It’s so easy to just feel for these two characters, I really couldn’t wait to see them find their way together in the end.

I loved everything about this story. It was engaging and kept me hooked in from the start. Avendale and Rose, especially Rose, are such interesting characters with so many layers. It took pages and pages to start to peel all those layers back before they finally lay themselves bare to each other. But it’s worth the wait. While Rose and Avendale are the driving force of this story, the heart is Harry. He’ll steal yours just as he did with mine. The Duke and the Lady in Red is a huge must read book, and it’s one that I’ll be thinking about for quite some time.

Rating: A

Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Avon
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*ARC provided by publisher for review* 

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