Sunday, June 29, 2014

ARC Review: Bride Of A Scottish Warrior

Bride Of A Scottish Warrior

by Adrienne Basso


A union born of duty...
Newly knighted Sir Ewan Gilroy needs a dowry and a wife, in that order. Though the widowed Lady Grace plans to enter a convent, squandering so much lush beauty - and such a fortune - would surely be its own sin. Grace will not be easily wooed, despite her family's urging and Ewan's famed charm. She challenges him as no woman ever dared, proving his equal in spirit and in passions...
Forged by desire...
To atone for her past, Grace vows to never remarry - least of all a brash and reckless warrior. Yet whether defending her honor or stoking desires she hardly knew she possessed, Ewan is a man beyond compare. And as their fragile trust is threatened by treachery, Grace must decide whether to reach for the happiness within her grasp - and fight for the love of her bold Highlander...
Themes: Historical
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Another richly detailed and vividly beautiful portrayal of the lives of historic highlanders, full of intrigue, drama, passion and beauty, Basso takes us through the highland season and the troubles and issues faced by all clans big and small and all members of the clan from the lowliest farmer to the leaders of the clans.  I am a big fan of historicals, especially anything set in Scotland, but I have found that I love the richness of Basso’s writing and the way she always shows the day to day lives of her characters, not just the drama and passion.  This story, while not connected to other series, is the second book of hers I have read and gives me the same feelings and enjoyment.
This story is about the lives of two people who both swore to never fall in love again, never risk the danger to their hearts, but sometimes fate steps in.  Ewan has been given the great honor of becoming a landowner and leading a small clan to a new start, but he is rather short of supplies and needs a rich bride to make the lives of his new people better. Grace has just returned to her family home after becoming a young widow under slightly suspicious circumstances when Ewan arrives seeking advice from his old friend Brian, who just happens to be Grace’s older brother.  Though there is an immediate connection between Grace and Ewan, she is determined to return to the convent where she was raised and live out her life in solitude.  Ewan sets about winning her hand, but her resistance makes his quest futile.  Only when the sisters who have given her sanctuary are put into danger by her presence does she relent, agreeing to marry Ewan in exchange for his keeping her safe.  But as their passion explodes in their marriage, it becomes less likely they will be able to keep their hearts from falling to one another. With danger around every corner the only chance for them to maintain their happiness is to trust one another explicitly and work together to overcome all odds.
I liked Grace very much when she finally stopped being so self-deprecating, but I did wish she had let go of her guilt for something beyond her control much sooner.  Being a very religious woman she is a bit more pious than I would have been able to handle in person, but when she finally allows herself to be free and to love Ewan with all her heart and body I found myself liking her much more.  It was nice to see a woman with more of a brain than many women in historicals, but her stubbornness in resisting Ewan was incomprehensible to me.  I would have given in five minutes after meeting him! Ewan was a sexy, chivalrous, sweet and gorgeous knight.  A man with the skills to lay siege to one’s body and heart with very little effort, one that could find any weakness and make you life better with very little true effort.  He treats Grace like a queen, even when she resists that role, and does everything he can to make sure she never regrets becoming his bride. When he is facing his enemies he is strength personified in all ways and you never have any doubts that he will prevail no matter the circumstances.
I found myself engrossed in every second of this novel, never doubting that it would end well for both Grace and Ewan, but traveling with them on their journey brought tears and laughter as they grew together and separately.  Grace was a pretty decent character once you got past the overly pious nature to the core of the woman underneath all her religious training.  She is obviously a care-giver, a woman meant to be the center of her family with those around her leaning on her for all their emotional and many of their physical needs.  Ewan, a man that really has no reason to believe in love, is a man that knows what he wants and will go to any length to get it, slowly convincing Grace that she belongs with him and no outside forces will ever tear them apart.   There was a lot of drama and danger returning from Grace’s past, but Ewan is more than up for the challenge of protecting her and their people. I am looking forward to the chance to read more by this author and would love to see a good series come out of some of her books.  Definitely adding Adrienne to my list of historical authors to watch out for.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review: All Fired Up

All Fired Up (DreamMakers #1)

by Vivian Arend, Elle Kennedy 


He’s ready to lead the way
Parker Wilson never thought he’d go from battle-hardened soldier to romance expert, but after his stint in the Rangers, that’s exactly what happened. As the owner of DreamMakers Inc., he helps other men win in the love department, using every resource available to plan the perfect date. When a routine recon turns into an unexpected night of passion, Parker’s mission becomes more personal—and he won’t give up until Lynn Davidson is all his.
She’s more than willing to follow
Lynn is a goner from the moment she lays eyes on the delectable Parker. She’s just ditched her boring almost-boyfriend and is tired of sticking to the straight and narrow. It’s time to walk on the wild side, and what better way than in the arms of the most irresistible man she’s ever met? But when their red-hot affair is threatened, it’ll take a team effort to make their dreams come true.
Themes: contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating: 
 If you were expecting something, anything, in this story I can tell you that all your expectation will be blown away.  The premise for this series was one that seemed odd to me at first, but seeing how well it plays out in this book leaves me saying to myself “of Course!” which was certainly the goal of the authors.  These men are sexy, sweet, and brilliant when it comes to women and finding just the right trick to make their clients happy, but their personal lives are a whole nother story.  Seeing them deal with their love lives in vastly different ways brought laughs and sighs, but watching Parker fall madly in love was of course the best part.  I am not surprised I loved this novel and anything by either of these authors is great, but the combination of their writing was even hotter than anything they have written alone and still just as sweet as expected from a contemporary novella.
The story begins with the ever common asshole male coming to the DreamMakers office in search of help planning a special date for his girlfriend.  It quickly becomes obvious that he knows nothing about her, so the DreamMakers team, especially Parker sets out to do a little recon and learn more about Lynn in order to do their jobs, but Parker quickly begins to lust after their new clients girlfriends for himself.  When he meets Lynn in person he is unable to resist her and when he learns that she has ended her relationship with their, now former, client there is nothing to stand in Parker’s way.  He is fast to jump on the chance to get to know Lynn for his own personal desires and finds himself falling deep quickly.  Lynn is understandably wary of beginning a relationship with Parker, but the passion and desire he inspires in her has been missing from her life for so long she refuses to pass up the opportunity to have him in her bed and her life.   As their relationship becomes deeper and deeper the truth of their meeting comes out and only by trusting one another and believing in their love can they be together and build a life. And I must say that when her ex tries to come back into her life I found myself wishing I could come into this book and strangle him.  
Lynn was a very sassy woman who met every challenge that came her way with dignity and strength.  I loved watching her kick her ex to the curb and go after Parker with everything she had so she could have a chance with a real man and find her happiness. She definitely blossomed in her self-esteem as she gets closer to Parker and he shows her just how sexy he finds her to be.  When she finds herself in a rather awkward situation she handles herself beautifully, not waiting for Parker to come to her rescue like a helpless female.  Parker is one sexy ex-commando, with a heart of gold and the body to go with his former lifestyle.  It was interesting to see how he and his business partners are filling the niche they have found lacking in the world of dating.  Seeing him deal with the connection to Lynn was great, obviously his morals kept him from jumping right to grabbing her up for himself, but when he learns the way is clear, he is quick to decide that the risk to their business is worth a chance with a woman like Lynn. 
As surprising as this series has been I can say with all honesty that I loved every second of reading this book and am seriously looking forward to the next two books where Parker’s partners fall under the spell of the woman of their dreams.  I can already see the danger inherent in making these ladies men settle down and ride the line without losing any of their dangerous edge.  All Fired Up was a great read with laughs, sweetness, passion and heart.  The antics these guys get up to were beyond interesting and seeing how the men handle crises both business and personal kept me smiling every second.   Lynn was a wonderful heroine and seeing her find a man who can match her made it worth every second.   Parker was a sweetheart with a passionate layer covering his sweetness to make him a well rounded hottie.  Cannot wait for more of this series and am dying to get to see more of Parker and Lynn’s relationship in their friends’ books.

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mini-Review: Fire Rising Part 1

Fire Rising: Part 1

by Donna Grant 


First in an exclusive four-part e-serial by New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant!Sammi’s world has been blown to bits—literally. With her pub up in flames, she escapes to Dreagan, the only place she will be safe. Her plan is to recover quickly and leave quietly. What she doesn’t count on is meeting the dangerously desirable and enigmatic Tristan…Tristan is instantly drawn to the woman seeking refuge at the Manor. Dazzled by her stunning beauty and intrigued by her silence about her past, Tristan knows he will not be able to let this woman go, no matter what the cost. And when Sammi slips away from Dreagan, Tristan is compelled to follow…in Fire Rising: Part 1.
Themes: dragons, paranormals, Fae
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
I am not much of a fan of reading serial versions of my novels, but I couldn’t pass up this chance to read the first portion of Tristan’s story as soon as possible. I have been reading books by Donna Gant for a long time now and seeing Tristan, then Duncan, die in a previous novel about broke my heart.  So when we discovered he had returned in his new guise as Tristan, a sexy, strong immortal Dragon King, I jumped at the chance to see him fall in love.  Getting this chance to read his novel and watch him fall was wonderful, but I was dying until I was able to finally read the next three parts of the serial and find out the whole story.

Part 1 of Fire Rising takes us from Sammi’s bar which has just been destroyed to her arrival at Dreagan, where her half-sister Jane finds her gravely injured and in need of help.  When Tristan first sees her he is enraptured and unable to let her leave without their help.  They soon discover that Sammi is being used to draw them out and that their shared enemies are darker and scarier than ever imagined. The section ends with Tristan standing guard over Sammi who is once again on the run from enemies and determined to make her way on her own.

I liked Sammi a lot even though she is very stubborn.  Sammi seems to be a strong character but one that is closed off and unwilling to trust anyone with her safety or her heart. Hopefully with Tristan’s help she can overcome her fears.  Tristan on the other hand is fighting with Sammi because he does not want to betray his friends and he doesn't understand the unique connection they have. Hopefully in the coming chapters we will see more development of a friendship and ultimately a relationship between Tristan and Sammi.  It is obvious that there will be serious flames  between this couple as they come together and I am looking forward to what comes next in the story.  I am dying to find out who their enemies are and seriously see them get their asses kicked by the Dragon Kings.

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

Sunday, June 8, 2014

ARC Review: Jaguar Hunt

Jaguar Hunt (Heart of the Jaguar #3)



An agent and a jaguar-shifter chase trouble, and each other, through the jungles of Belize...
Agent Tammy Anderson has a reputation: she prefers to work alone. So when she’s paired up on a mission with jaguar-shifter David Patterson—who’s only recently been released from jail—to say she’s less than thrilled is a understatement. Until she realizes that this sexy agent has what it takes…
Soon, what started as an “easy” mission to locate a missing jaguar takes the pair to Belize, where they’re chasing down two renegade teen shifters who know more than they’re telling. As the action heats up, can they keep their minds on the job and off of each other? 

Themes: shifters, paranormal
Rating: 3.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
I have been a fan of Terry Spear since I bought the first book in her Heart of the Wolf series many years ago on sale for just a penny, and I have never found a book I didn’t like in any of her series since.  Her Jaguar series has many interesting parallels with her Wolf series and even some character crossover that only big fans of both series might catch, which gives me a little chuckle every time it happens.  The Jaguar series is always wild and the settings for most of them are deep and lush rainforests in places I would never venture into personally so getting a chance to go there in these stories is wonderful.  Book three in the series is one that had me laughing often, entranced in the lives of these jaguar shifters and reveling in the intense passion the H/h shared. I am looking forward to what’s next in this series and maybe even a few years from now seeing the sweet but adventurous twin boys getting their own novels.
Tammy is a many layered woman, but a lot of those layers sadly were put into place by untrustworthy men and the pain they caused her.  Her suspicions about her father, the two-timing guys she’s dated in the past and the generally womanizing nature of the men she works with day-to-day, have made her understandably wary of jaguar males and having a relationship with them.  The attraction to David from the beginning is undeniable however.  From the moment she meets the sexy male she finds herself losing more and more of her conviction to keep him away and she knows that if she keeps giving way in her own heart and mind he will worm his way right in and destroy her heart. She is a passionate female and is more than willing to give a no strings affair a try, but David has other plans in mind and sooner than later she finds herself in a relationship that gives her fears a chance to be proven wrong.  Jaded might be a good word to describe her, but David is such a great guy that she is unable to deny herself or him for very long.  When danger arises he doesn’t just push her out of the way, instead trusting her as a full partner, proving to her that they might have a chance for the future.
David is a sexy, fun, and intense jaguar male and his desire for Tammy is one that he refuses to leave unexplored.  When he sees his chance to work with her and spend more time with her, he jumps on the case and inserts himself into her life.  Working to overcome her resistance becomes more than just a fun sexy challenge for him as his heart becomes more and more invested in a relationship with the sexy she-cat.  He works to keep her safe while allowing her to do what she needs to do for her job, but leaving her to her own defenses is just not something he is willing to do.  Sometimes having a man like David stand beside you is just as or even sexier than having him stand in front of you.  David was a bit arrogant at times, but never in a repellent way; more in an exasperating manner that would just make you smile and shake your head at his antics.  He is defiantly a dangerous male in his own right, but seeing him be gentle and caring with the boys and earning their trust we get to see a softer and sweeter side right along with Tammy.  He is quite frankly the whole package—sweet, caring, strong, sexy, and don’t forget he can turn into a big cuddly Jaguar.
Jaguar Hunt is another great story in the Jaguar series that is sexy, entertaining, and hilarious at times.  The series has taken us from the heated jungles of Belize, to the dry heat of Texas, and back again.  The characters are wonderfully, richly written, and the settings are vivid, sensual and a great backdrop for the intense passion between the shifters that populate these pages. David and Tammy’s story is a prime example of all that makes this series great. Tammy is a woman who has lost her trust in the male of the species and has no interest in ever again risking her heart on a male cat that will just break it, until David begins to weasel his way in. David hasn't felt such intense desire for a woman before and is willing to fight to have a chance to explore that passion with Tammy.  Using the opportunity presented to him he insinuates himself into her case and with a little persistence hopes to worm his way into her personal life as well.  I loved seeing these two circling around each other, much like a dance, as they learn more about one another and work together to achieve there several objectives.   I am looking forward to whose books might be coming next in the series and where it might lead us next.  If you haven’t read others in the series or the Heart of the Wolf series, you will enjoy this book for sure, but you will be missing out on a lot of the subtext in the book and I highly recommend you set aside some time to catch up on the greatness that is these two series.

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

Sunday, June 1, 2014

mini-review: How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days

How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days  (What Happens In Scotland #1)

by Kate McKinley 


Lucas Alexander, the ninth Duke of Arlington, is a man who gets what he wants. So when he sees the alluring Miss Pippa Welby from across a crowded ballroom, he vows to make her his. But the bold and spirited Pippa has sworn never to marry into the haute ton. Now Lucas must win her the only way he knows how—one wicked kiss at a time.
The daughter of a wealthy tradesman, Pippa has been sneered at by the upper echelons her entire life. So when the duke arrives on her doorstep with an invitation to her own engagement ball—to him—in ten days, Pippa hatches a daring plan. She must lose the duke before the ball, or risk losing her own heart.
Themes: historical
Rating: 3.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Well that was certainly one of the hotter historical romances I’ve read recently.  I’ve never read anything else by Kate McKinley, but she has me intrigued with this new series and I think I will be hunting for book two as soon as it’s available.  The story is set in the not too distant past and revolves around a spirited merchant’s daughter whose father is trying to nudge his way into the haute ton and a strict and sexy duke who is looking for a way to ensure his family never has to deal with financial hardship again.  An instantaneous connection and an attraction that neither can deny leads to some fun and sexy challenges for both lovers and soon leads them into the dangerous territory of the heart.  There were lots of laughs, sexy fun, and sweet love, and I cannot wait to find out what happens in Scotland in the future.
Pippa was a great character, one of the few women who really doesn’t have any use for the ton and is certainly not interested in marrying some stuffy and arrogant duke just to get in their good graces.  Faced with her future being dictated by the duke she immediately decides that she has to do whatever she can to make him change his mind about marrying her.  Hatching an outrageous scheme she sets out to make Lucas’s life a living hell, but no matter what she does he just seems to be more and more determined to make her his wife.  When the passion between them becomes undeniable, leading them down a road that can’t be turned away from, and there is no longer an option for her.  But when the truth comes out Pippa is heartbroken because not only has she given in to Lucas’s demands to marry, but she has given him her heart.  Now it is up to Lucas, a man who has never had to work so hard to make a woman his, to prove to Pippa that he is worth her heart and if she gives it into his keeping he will treat it with care.  While Lucas definitely has his issues, his vulnerabilities, I liked his determination to earn Pippa’s heart and it was obvious that his motives for seeking Pippa's hand were never purely financial, though he used that as a way to get what he wanted--a chance to explore his feelings for her
I really liked this story a lot.  There were great characters, an interesting plot, several fun twists, and enough drama to keep it from being too staid.  The heat and intensity between Pippa and Lucas was evident every second they shared the pages and I can honestly say that it was one of the more passionate historical romances I’ve read in a long time.  Pippa was a fiery, sweet, and loving woman who knows her worth to the world and will settle for nothing less than true love in her marriage.  Lucas has been his family’s only support for a long time and has always gotten what he went for in his life, but Pippa seems to be the one thing he can’t seem to get a good grip on, until he finally understands that a woman like Pippa will never be his unless he gives all of his heart to her.  I enjoyed the secondary story in the book as well and am looking forward to seeing where that might go in the future.  I will definitely  be adding Ms. McKinley to my list of authors to look out for in the future. 
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.