Wednesday, January 4, 2017

ARC Review: Wild Wicked Scot (Highland Grooms #1)

Wild Wicked Scot (Highland Grooms #1)

by Julia London

Blurb:
Wicked intrigue unfolds as an unlikely marriage leads to a path of risky desire in the lush, green Scottish Highlands.
Born into riches and groomed in English luxury, Margot Armstrong didn't belong in a Scottish chieftain's devil-may-care world. Three years ago she fled their marriage of convenience and hasn't looked back—except to relive the moments spent in wild, rugged Arran McKenzie's passionate embrace. But as their respective countries' fragile unity threatens to unravel, Margot must return to her husband to uncover his role in the treachery before her family can be accused of it.
Red-haired, green-eyed Margot was Arran's beautiful bride. Her loss has haunted him, but her return threatens everything he has gained. As the Highland mists carry whispers of an English plot to seize McKenzie territory, he must outmaneuver her in games of espionage…and seduction. But even as their secrets tangle together, there's nothing to prevent love from capturing them both and leading them straight into danger.


Themes:  historical
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
 I have always been a fan of a well-written and exciting highland romance and Julia London’s Highland Grooms series is the beginning of a new wonderful world.   London has been a favorite author of mine, especially for her historicals, for several years now, so when I was offered the chance to read an advanced copy of Wild, Wicked Scot there was no way I was going to miss out. I was a tiny bit disappointed initially thinking that we wouldn’t get to know the characters and see their original romance, but London shows us glimpses of the lovers in the beginning of their relationship as well as in the current timeline where the lovers are coming back together after a long separation.  If you are a fan of truly interesting and sometimes trying Scottish hotties, this story is going to bring you immense joy.  I thoroughly enjoyed this story and am looking forward to reading the next in the series.  I was surprised that Julia was able in the end to give the couple their HEA, but it was hard won and earned with blood, sweat and tears to be sure.
Arran and Margot had a tumultuous first few months as husband and wife, with glimpses into the possibilities they would have a wonderful, loving relationship—if only they could both let go of their preconceived notions of what their spouse should be. Margot is much too young when they are first together, leaving her floundering as she is trying to find a way to make her marriage into what she thinks it should be.  Arran is clueless when it comes to young women and has no notion of what he should be doing to aid his young wife in her transition.  Finally fed up with being alone so much, Margot decides to flee her husband and new home, in favor of returning to her childhood home.  But when rumors begin to spread there is no way for her to hide out any longer.  Arran and Margot come back together with all the fiery passion and sweet sensuality that was there in the beginning, but the anger and frustration is new.  Can Arran find a way to make his wife happy enough to stay with him? Or is he destined to see her walk away from him again?
Margot is an interesting character. While she’s not exactly the damsel in distress she is definitely a woman trapped between a rock and a hard place…err person. Margot ran from her husband, mainly due to her inexperience in dealing with men, especially big, alpha Scots. Now that she is faced with returning to her husband in order to keep her family’s honor intact there is no doubt she will have to brazen her way through the entire process. While there were certainly times I wanted to smack her in the head to wake her up to the truth around her, her naiveté was one of the reasons the story was able to move along.  I enjoyed seeing her find her footing with Arran and his people and of course in the end she is the hero, which made me immensely happy.  I can safely say in the end I really liked Margot and was glad to see her and Arran find their happiness and balance. Arran is the quintessential Scotsman of his time.  Rugged and brash, brave and honorable, and of course sexy as all get out. Arran had no idea what he was in for when he fell for the sweet and beautiful Margot, but what man really knows how to handle love at first sight, after all.  When she left him, he assumed she would return to him quickly, but years later the anger and frustration has made him in to a bitter man and there is no way he will allow himself to fall under her spell again. I liked Arran, even though at times he seemed unforgiving and uncompromising, mainly because he stands up for his principles and even though he still loves her he will not allow her to damage their clan any further.  Trust is not something he will ever allow Margot to break again, but when she ultimately earns his love and trust back, he moves on from the past and embraces their love wholeheartedly. 
This return to the wild and sensual Scottish Highlands came at just the right time for me.  I was in a rut to be sure, but with this novel my love of reading was reignited. Arran and Margot’s tumultuous story of deceit, betrayal, honor, and love is one that kept my interest every second the story was in my hands and pulled at me even when I had to put it down. Margot is a young woman that was thrown in the deep end and she lost her footing in the beginning, but when she blossoms and comes in to her own, the woman is a pistol and certainly fits right in with her new crazy highland clan. Arran is the type of man that makes any woman melt for him, even if his gruffness and lack of female experience might have left him stumbling with his new bride on a few occasions.  When they both finally start communicating and trusting one another the relationship between them turns into the type of long-lasting love that can build not only a family or even a mighty clan, but an entire world of love for the future generations. The heat between these two was undeniable from the first moment they set eyes on each other again and only sizzles hotter as they interact.  I was thrilled to see these two finally find the love that would sustain their marriage and find a way to overcome the dangers facing them.  Full of laughs, sparks, and danger Wild Wicked Scot will take you on a thrill ride through the untamed highlands and even into the borders of England where the danger is boiling over as the Scots and English quarrel again over their borders and lands.  I loved this story and am dying to find out who’s story comes next.  Another masterpiece from Julia, but honestly, I would expect nothing less!

*eARC provided by author for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Review: A Very Jaguar Christmas (Heart of the Jaguar #5)

A Very Jaguar Christmas (Heart of the Jaguar #5)

by Terry Spear

Blurb:
 There are all kinds of surprises under the mistletoe!
As a protector of all jaguar-kind, Guardian agent Demetria MacFarlane isn’t surprised to get a call near Christmas—but when she’s sent to protect a cub whose species she didn’t even know existed, her holiday season gets complicated. And it doesn’t help that her partner is a distraction of the hottest kind.
Hotshot JAG agent Everett Anderson can handle dangerous poachers and wildlife traffickers, no problem…but kids? Everett fears he’ll be stuck cub-sitting under the Christmas tree, but working with one sexy Guardian she-cat may be the best present he’s ever gotten.
Themes:  Jag-shifters, paranormal
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating:  
Review:
 I never thought I would see the day, but Terry Spear has managed to fully surprise me and brought together her two awesome series with a bang.  While I am a loyal fan of both her series, Heart of the Wolf and Heart of the Jaguar, I never thought she would actually bring the two series together, but I seriously enjoyed seeing the way it worked out.  This story revolves around the sexy as hell Jag-shifter Everett and the sweet and loving Guardian she-cat that has grabbed his heart and attention. Everett has been trying unsuccessfully to get Demetria to give him a chance as a male to make her own, but when they are paired together on a case he gets his chance.  Demetria doesn’t really think that Everett is the male for her, but when he comes after her, full-court-press, she finds it harder and harder to resist the sweet, sexy, and obviously loving male that he turns out to be.  Then the impossible happens and a wolf-shifter toddler—which to this point they believed to be pure fiction—brings these two jaguar-shifters together on a mission to get him back where he belongs with his family. Everett knows that he needs to convince Demetria how deep his feelings for her go, and when he has the chance, boy does he succeed.  I enjoyed getting to know him and seeing how he shows his love for the she-cat, even though I wondered at times if he would succeed.  Demetria is just a little bit stubborn, which being sometimes mule-headed myself I can fully appreciate.  However, she is the type of woman that fiercely protects those she loves as well as those around her that cannot protest themselves, which makes her the perfect woman for a male like Everett who longs for a family to complete his life. They are extremely compatible in all ways, including in the bedroom (*blushes*) and when they accept that fact and give in to their love Demetria and Everett find that a true and deep love can overcome any differences or obstacles.  I enjoyed seeing these two worlds cross and hope to see more of that in future books in either of the series.  I cannot wait to see more sexy cats and alpha wolves lose themselves to love and mating, and maybe we’ll even see a cross mating or two livening up these worlds (*hint, hint*).  The magic of the worlds Terry Spear has created only becomes more and more amazing and more and more complicated as the series progress and I cannot begin to imagine where her writing will take us next, but I can guarantee that I will be along for the ride as she takes us along with her.

*ebook provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving 2016!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.






Thanksgiving is one of the greatest traditions and a perfect excuse to get your family together and indulge yourself in an awesome meal.  I have my turkey thawing and all my sides planned out and I really can’t wait.  Food is definitely a very close second to my favorite hobbies.  With my mom still recovering from surgery and my family recovering from some seriously busy months, thanksgiving will be a nice break from all the cravenness of life.  Enjoy your time off and the family I hope you are able to surround yourself with.  

So I wish you all a wonderful and family filled Thanksgiving.  Whatever the holiday means to you—family, football, food, or rest--- I hope you get all you want and offer your thanks for it.  
In Honor of my first time doing thanksgiving, I want to share with you all, once again, my recipe for my favorite Thanksgiving Day dessert.  After all that rich, juice, and carbs filled thanksgiving dinner I go for something even richer and CHOCOLATY!

Nutella Chocolate Cake 


Yield: 8 inch cake
Ingredients

Chocolate Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Nutella Icing
1 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup Nutella hazelnut spread
4-5 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tbsp milk or water

Chocolate Ganache
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions

1. Prepare four 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom, and grease the sides.
2. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together.
3. Add eggs, buttermilk and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Add vanilla to boiling water and add to mixture. Mix well.
5. Pour into four 8 inch cakes pans and bake at 300 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. I baked the cakes in two batches, two at a time, with about 1 1/2 cups of batter per pan.
6. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.
7. Make icing while cakes cool. Beat together butter and shortening until smooth.
8. Add Nutella and mix until smooth.
9. Slowly add 4 cups of powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
10. Add 2-3 tbsp of milk or water and mix until smooth.
11. Add fifth cup of powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
12. Add more water or milk until the right consistency.
13. Once cakes are cool, remove cake domes from top with a large serrated knife.
14. Place first layer of cake on cake plate. Pipe an even layer of icing onto cake.
15. Add second layer of cake and pipe another even layer of icing on top.
16. Add third layer of cake on top and pipe another even layer of icing on top.
17. Top icing with fourth layer of cake.
18. Place chocolate chips in a metal bowl.
19. Microwave heavy cream until it starts to boil. Remove from microwave and pour over chocolate chips.
20. Cover bowl with saran wrap for 5-7 minutes.
21. Whisk chocolate and cream until smooth.
22. Allow to sit for a few minutes until it just starts to thicken, then pour over the top of the cake.
23. Once chocolate ganache has firmed up, top with remaining icing and sprinkles, if desired

Many Blessing,
Michelle the Romance Witch



Monday, November 21, 2016

Review: Size Matters (A Perfect Fit #1)

Size Matters (A Perfect Fit #1)

by Alison Bliss 

Blurb:
 The rules of (fake) engagement . . .
Leah Martin has spent her life trying to avoid temptation. But she's sick of low-fat snacks, counting calories, and her hyper-critical mom. Fortunately, her popular new bakery keeps her good and distracted. But there aren't enough éclairs in the world to distract Leah from the hotness that is Sam Cooper - or the fact that he just told her mother that they're engaged . . . which is a big, fat lie.
Sam sometime speaks before he thinks. So what started out as defending Leah's date-ability to her judgmental mother soon turned into having a fiancée! Now the plan is to keep up the fake engagement, stay "just friends," and make Leah's family loathe him enough to just call the whole thing off . But Sam has an insatiable sweet tooth, not only for Leah's decadent desserts but her decadent curves. Her full lips. Her bright green eyes. Yep, things aren't going quite according to plan. Now Sam has to convince Leah that he's for real . . . before their little lie turns into one big, sweet disaster.
Themes:  Contemporary
Rating: 3.25  stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
 Ok let’s be honest here, every single reader out there has their own personal hang-ups that they bring with them subconsciously when they start picking reading material, and one of mine is “fuller-figured women need love too”.  I haven’t found very many novels that do it well enough for me to say I’m a true fan, but this story was cute and sweet and I can see that I will probably give any future novels by this author a chance as well.  Leah is a woman that I can fully understand, a woman that all her life has fought with her weight and the traditional views of what makes a woman beautiful, and deals with a mother that constantly picks at her about her weight, blaming her nastiness on her desire to help.   Leah has worked her ass off to make her bakery business a success and even though it doesn’t make her acceptable to her mother, and won’t let anyone get in the way of keeping that success.  When Sam comes into her life, he confuses the hell out of her with his hot and cold behavior.  Once minute he is charming and sweet, offering her sweet kisses and passionate embraces, and then the next moment he pushes her away with harshness and cold distance.  Sam has just ended a relationship with a slightly crazy woman and he has no desire to be roped into another, but he cannot resist Leah.  He makes mistakes with her again and again, and when he tries to help her he ends up putting them both into the crosshairs of her mother.  Leah has no idea how to deal with Sam but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is for her to remember that their relationship is pure fiction.  The emotions he pulls out of her are in no way fictional and as he pulls her in then pushes her away, she knows that he will break her heart far too easily.  I liked both of these characters, but the continuous push-pull of their actions and the wishy-washiness of their relationship was too much to me, taking it from being natural to being a farce.  Had the characters come to terms with the fact that sometimes a person doesn’t really know what they need, the story would have been far shorter and I wouldn’t have lost interest the few times I did.  Mostly that repetitiveness dragged the plot down in places where I would have loved to see more of them proving their love for one another instead of them becoming a true couple in the very end of the story. I can’t say that the story kept my interest at every minute, but it was enjoyable and hits on many serious relationship and personal issues that are common for big girls.  I am looking forward to future novels and hoping that Leah’s BFF finds her own HEA.  I’ll be keeping an eye on Ms. Bliss as her career continues and hope to read even more enjoyable novels with her touch.

*ebook provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Review: Dark Protector (Moon Shifter #6)

Dark Protector (Moon Shifter #6)

by Katie Reus 

Blurb:
 He walked away once; he won't do it again.
Wolf shifter Aldric Kazan is no stranger to pain. Since the loss of his mate a century ago, he won't allow himself to fall for someone again—not even the feisty female who stirs things in him that he thought were gone long ago. But as a supernatural investigator, he's forced to team up with the same woman he vowed to stay away from.
She let him in once; she refuses to do it again.
Natalia Cordona refuses to back down from any challenge—even if it means joining forces with Aldric, the sexy and brooding man who won't get too close. Locating missing vampires before a volatile war breaks out seems nearly impossible as the duo struggle with their explosive and undeniable attraction. Now it's up to Natalia and Aldric to trust each other to stop an all-out war from breaking out that would destroy the harmony they've all worked so hard for.

Themes:  wolf-shifters, paranormal
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
Katie Reus strikes again with another installment of the great series about wolf-shifters and their packmates.  Reus takes on an amazing journey through love, loss, and the acceptance of destiny in all of her novels and this story is no exception to her pattern.  The Cordona pack and their new additions always provide the readers with a good time and the way she is able to find them love and bring them together takes the kind of skill that very few authors in the current market display.  I love reading just about anything from Reus and experiencing the love between Natalia and Aldric as they come to accept that they are meant to be is the reason all readers devote their time to books.  Aldric has lived with his grief for a long time, ever since the death of his mate and unborn child almost a century earlier, so even though he feels the attraction to Natalia as much as she does to him, Aldric cannot let himself give in to the possibility of happiness that she offers.  Natalia has known from the very beginning that Aldric was her mate and his continued denial of their connection and any possibility of being together have led her to the breaking point. Determined to put him out of her mind, she embarks on a mission to help her packmates solve a string of missing person’s cases, but fate of course has a way of dragging you right where she wants you.  Forced to work together on the mission, Aldric takes the time to show Natalia that he is ready and willing to take her as his mate, but she won’t make it easy for him now that he has finally changed his mind.  Aldric is typical alpha male, finding his mate, but having wallowed in his grief and guilt for decades, he fights this offer of happiness for far too long.  Once Aldric accepts that Natalia is the female that he wants and decides to fight for her, he becomes one of the sweetest and most loving males, determined to do whatever it takes to convince Natalia to give them a chance.  Natalia has no chance once Aldric puts his full attention on making her his, but she is a real badass in her own right and I loved seeing her in the role of a hero and protector.  These two have fought their attractions for so long that once they give in to the heat between them there is no way that the two of them will ever be able to deny they are made for one another.  I loved seeing Natalia take her man to task and bring her around to her way of thinking so they could finally come together as they were always meant to.  I look forward to future stories about this pack and their friends, and possibly even seeing some of their vampire buddies find their very own wolves to love. Keep up the awesome writing Katie and I’ll keep bringing you more and more fans and readers for your work. 

*ebook provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Review: Shadow Falling (The Scorpius Syndrome #2)

Shadow Falling (The Scorpius Syndrome #2)

by Rebecca Zanetti

Blurb:
Before the Scorpius Syndrome tore through North America and nearly wiped out the population, Vivienne Wellington was the FBI’s best profiler. The bacteria got her anyway. But she survived. She recovered. And when she woke up from a drug-nightmare of captivity, her skills as a hunter of men had gone from merely brilliant to full-on uncanny. Her mysterious rescuer wants her to put them to the test. But no matter how tempting he is, with his angel’s eyes and devil’s tongue, Vinnie knows she shouldn’t trust him.
If the FBI were still around they would rate Raze Shadow as one of the bad guys. His military training can’t wipe out his association with the Mercenaries, the most feared gang in a thousand miles. His loyalties are compromised. He won’t even tell Vinnie his real name. But there’s no FBI in the new America of fear and firepower, only instinct and risk.

And the way his arms wrap around Vinnie tells its own story. Whatever else Raze is concealing, he can’t hide his desire . . .

Themes: post-apocalyptic world
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
I remain extremely wary of saying that I am loving this series, but as the series progresses I have to say the concept is growing on me.  I am NOT a fan of any type of zombie story, but the scientific probability and obvious research that went into this series before it was begun show me that it’s not just your typical brain eater plot. Rebecca’s skill in making her characters so believably destroyed and secretive makes the reader even more interested in them.  We met Raze in the first story and along with the leaders of his new community readers were suspicious of his sudden appearance at the gates of the compound.  Raze feels instantly attracted to Viv, even as he knows that he will have to betray her in order to get what he desperately needs. She has come to them on the heels of a rescue, where she was held by the president of the United States, who is in fact a ripper, one of the people that survive the Scorpius infection only to become sociopaths.  Viv is still trapped in that terror in her mind and in a lot of ways is terrified of where her future might be leading.  As they spend more time together, neither of them understanding the pull that won’t let them walk away from each other, Raze and Viv become inseparable.  The chance of two people in this new and terrifying world of Scorpius finding an HEA is slim to none, but they both understand that the only way to find happiness is to grab all the pleasure you could whenever you could.  Raze is a bit of an enigma and I can’t say I was rooting for him in the beginning, but once he showed his true colors and admitted to his purpose, begging for the help he needed and actually working with his new family, I began to like him more. Viv lives in fear every moment, but she can’t resist the sensual Raze and when she realizes how much he needs her, she does everything in her power to the be warrior, the woman, he needs.  I am enjoying the series, though I cannot say I am in love with it, but as always Rebecca Zanetti’s skill with words, characters, and world building makes every moment of reading the story worthwhile and enjoyable.  I am looking forward to where the series is going and hoping that there is a brighter future for humanity in the coming stories. 

*ebook provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Review: Roadside Assistance (Body Shop Bad Boys #2)

Roadside Assistance (Body Shop Bad Boys #2)

by Marie Harte

Blurb:
Underneath the axle grease and tats
He's a gentleman
Foley Sanders figured he'll always be content with a life of cars and casual hookups. Until a run-in with Cyn, a statuesque firecracker with a hate-on for men, leaves him bewitched and intrigued-much to her annoyance.
Maybe Cynthia Nichols was a little hard on Foley, that muscular, tattooed, super-hot mechanic next door. But she's tired of feeling defensive about her size and has sworn off men. She's got a new job, new life, perfect plan. Foley has trouble written all over him-no way is she going to fall for his charms.
Foley might look like a bad idea, but underneath, he's all gentleman. Too bad Cyn's not buying it. What's a bad boy to do when the goddess of his dreams won't give him the time of day?
Themes: contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
This series has quickly become one of my favorites.  I have only read a few stories by Ms. Harte, but I have enjoyed each and every one and am always keeping my eyes open for any of her new stories. This series revolves around some rather sexy mechanics that have come together to form their own little family.  Marie’s ability to make her men both badass-alpha and sweetly loving is a true sign of a gifted author and the way she brings her lovers together through all the dramas and problems of everyday life shows she has true skill.  This story about Foley and Cyn hits home for me in a lot of ways because I can sympathize with Cyn’s worries and self-consciousness about her size.  I enjoyed getting to know Foley as he convinced Cyn to give him a shot and see if they could have a future together.  Foley was a smart man, who doesn’t let the beliefs of others effect how he thinks and acts; he is truly a man who has charted his own course and has not let anyone define his place in the world, or tell him what type of woman he should try to make his own.  He's obviously good with his hands, sexy as hell, and more than able to make any woman happy, but there is of course always the way that he shows his love and emotion for the woman that has grabbed him heart and soul.  Cyn has serious doubts about Foley when he continues to try convincing her to give their relationship a chance, but soon he finds a way to get his woman.  Cyn is a woman that goes after what she wants, and has decided that having a man around isn’t necessary for her happiness, but she cannot deny her intense attraction to Foley.  When they finally give in to the desire that burns between them the intensity and passion is hot enough to burn the house down, both of them intensely sexual individuals that don’t back down from any challenge.  I loved getting to see Foley prove to Cyn that her size not only didn’t matter to him, but the love between them would always provide her the confidence she needed to know she would never be alone again in the world.   There were of course the requisite issues with Foley’s best friend and roommate, but I hear he’s getting a story of his very own real soon and I imagine that he will find his own love one day.  Marie Harte’s series about sexy mechanics and the women that steal their hearts is one that I can see myself reading and re-reading long into the future.  Another awesome series to add to my bookshelves and I can guarantee this one will be a series I’ll share with friends and fellow readers so they too can enjoy the greatness of these Bad Boy Mechanics.
*ebook provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.