Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Homecoming (anthology)

Homecoming (Billionaire Brothers #1-3)

by Lily Everett


Three billionaire brothers are about to discover exactly where they belong, in this romance from Lily Everett. Billionaire brothers Dylan, Logan, and Miles Harrington have everything they could ever want…except love. Now they’re about to travel to the magical, windswept refuge of Sanctuary Island where they’ll discover that power, fame and fortune don’t mean a thing without someone to share it with.
Dylan Harrington, the infamous "Bad Boy Billionaire," decides to escape his life of scandalous escapades for some R & R on Sanctuary Island. He never expects his harmless flirtation with a waitress at the Firefly CafĂ© to make him long for a simpler life. For his brother Logan Harrington, it takes a visit to Sanctuary lsland to make him recognize his true feelings for his assistant Jessica. And when eldest brother Miles travels to Sanctuary Island to knock some sense into his love struck siblings, he doesn’t expect to be blindsided by lifelong local Greta. Can the jet-setting billionaire whisk a small-town girl away to his life of luxury…or will the homey pleasures of Sanctuary Island win him over first?
Themes: Anthology, contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating: 
Lily Everett is a pseudonym for a favorite author of mine, Louisa Edwards. Her new series while not about chefs is just as intriguing and full of heart. Set on a small island off the coast of Virginia, Sanctuary Island, this series has great potential. To begin the series Ms. Everett gave us a short trilogy of novellas about three billionaire brothers who own property on the island.

Firefly Cafe 3.5 stars.
The first book, Firefly Cafe, is a great beginning to the series introducing us to the brothers and allowing us to get to know youngest brother Dylan Harrington. Dylan is finally growing up and has decided to leave behind his life of frivolous and meaningless encounters with random gold digging women. When he arrives at the family's home on the island he comes face to face with the first real sweet woman he's seen in many years, Penny Little.  Penny is a recently divorced, hardworking, single mom who Dylan immediately wants to get to know better. But as his feelings begin to grow for both Penny and her son, Dylan has to try to understand how he can overcome his deceit in lying about his identity so he can have a future with them. Finally, deciding it’s time for him to go after what he wants, despite what others might think, Dylan gives in to his need for family and love and goes after them with gusto.
I really liked Dylan, even if in the beginning he comes off a more of a playboy than anything else.  He has obviously been burned by women in the past and has become a bit of a cynic, so I can see why he feels the need to hide his identity at first, but, honestly, he lets the charade go on a bit too long.  But it is obvious he is changing and becoming the man he was meant to be—a man worthy of a woman like Penny.  Penny is dedicated to her son and  to making their lives better, but when she meets Dylan she is instantly attracted and it throws her for a loop.  Seeing them fall in love and overcome the odds to find happiness was great, mainly because I so wish I was Penny and could find my own sexy billionaire bad boy hiding in the sweet handyman that lands on my doorstep.

Summer Cottage 3.75 stars.
Logan’s book picks up right where his brother's ended.  Logan has arrived on Sanctuary Island, blackmailed there by his assistant—or his keeper depending who you ask.  Jessica had been taking care of him so long that she has become an integral part of his life, but she refuses to give into his advances, afraid to repeat past mistakes.  Spending more and more time with him Jessica begins to see that under his genius exterior there is a broken man that has never recovered from the loss of his parents.  But when they give into their desire and decide to let the island work its magic, can their feelings prove strong enough to overcome all their barriers and allow them to have a future?

Jessica is a woman who has been badly hurt in her past, erecting 10 foot thick walls around her heart to keep herself from falling for Logan and falling into the same trap she’s fallen into before. While I liked the way she kept Logan in line and used everything at her disposable to keep him healthy, it seemed she was a little too stuck in the past.  One would think with a few years of maturity she would stop blaming herself and realize she was a victim.  Loving Logan doesn’t even fall into the same category in my opinion—and Logan’s for that matter.  Overcoming her objections Logan is finally able to bring her into his arms and quickly their relationship becomes very deep and intense.  When he is thrown for a loop though, Logan reverts to old patterns and pushes her away in an attempt to keep himself from getting hurt.   Thankfully, just in time Logan realizes that when there is love nothing else is important and he embraces the love that he can share only with Jessica.

Island Road 3.75 stars.
Miles is the eldest brother, the rock, the handler, and he has decided that his brothers have both lost their minds in the tiny town they have found love.  When he arrives determined to bring them back to their senses he meets his match in sexy but sheltered Greta.  Greta has been kept close to her family and home all her life, giving into her own fears, and has never had the adventures in life many women her age have.  When Miles learns the truth about her past, he is drawn to her and determined to bring some fun and spontaneity to her life.  But when he starts to fall for her, their fears and experiences might not be something they can overcome, leaving them both wondering if their fling could be more.

The final brother Miles is a big of an enigma.  A man of lengthy experience and very worldly, he doesn’t understand a woman as sexy and smart as Greta being happy trapped in her small hometown of Sanctuary Island.  He is a very stubborn and headstrong man, but has his moments of sweetness.  I understand it was the premise for him arriving in town, but I did not like seeing him come to try to break up Dylan and Penny and wanted to smack him a lot when he got it into his head to seduce Greta to try to get her to inadvertently assist him in his quest.  Greta might have spent most of her life on the small island where she was born, but she is by no means weak and there is no way she will let a man life Miles takes advantage of her.  I loved seeing her experience the sights of NYC and finally get to live out an adventure, falling in love along the way.  Seeing her confront Miles and make him see the damage he could have caused makes me see just how strong she is, making her Mile’s perfect woman.

Overall, Homecoming was a great compilation of short novellas that were successful in showing the uniqueness and romantic draw of Sanctuary Island.  All three brothers had unique stories of overcoming their pasts, finding themselves and embracing love.  It was also nice to see that the brothers were able to become closer to each other when the women in their lives forced them to see the damage their distance was causing to their hearts.  While the stories had some intensely emotional moments, there were not really any moments of intense passion, which I would have liked.  In the end, we are left wanting to know more about the island and the people that call it home.  I look forward to seeing more about the brothers in the full-length novels in the series. Lily Everett is a great new personality for an already favored author, though personally I hope for more of her chef books under the name Louisa Edwards, as they are always wonderful and steamy.

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ARC Review: Vampire Trouble

Vampire Trouble (Dead in the City #2)



Shane Quesada, a four-century old vampire sentry, is known for cold, unemotional precision when hunting rogue vampires.
Maya Robertson is a youngling vampire who will not be controlled—and to prove it, she rejects Shane’s protection—only to find herself in over her head with an alpha werewolf.
Soon, a war between the coven and the werewolf clan ignites, and Maya and Shane flee to Louisiana, where their passion for each other grows—as does Maya’s power. When she finds herself at the center of the conflict, will she finally trust Shane with her life—and her heart?
Themes: Vampires, Paranormal, shifters
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating: 
 After a long wait we finally return to the world of vampires, shifters, and magic users that will keep you interested every second of each story.  Sara Humphreys has intrigued me from the first story of hers I picked up.  Always full of vivid detail, strange and unique characters, and intensely sensual lovers, Vampire Trouble is a welcome addition to any bookshelf. While I am certainly partial to her Amoveo series, the Dead in the City series has enough intrigue, drama and emotion to keep me coming back for more.  There are changes to their world at every turn and the characters are strong enough that they are able to roll with the punches and still keep their love lives interesting.  If you haven’t read the first in the series you will be a little bit lost in the overall plot of things, but there is enough recap in this book that you can follow along enough to enjoy it anyway.
Shane has been intrigued with Maya since he first had to keep an eye on here.  She is trouble with a capital “T” and there is no way he will be able to let her out of his sight.  But soon the desire he feels for her becomes an obsession that cannot be denied.  But the more he tries to keep her in line and safe from herself, the more she rebels and gets herself into trouble.    Maya is so tired of having to follow the rules, never being able to be free and when Shane begins to invade her life, she fights even harder to keep herself from falling under his spell.  But as with all rebellions there are consequences.  Maya never imagined it would lead to war between the vampires and werewolves though.   She is terrified of the trouble she has caused and the danger she has placed her family in, but determined to try to make it right.  Traveling to Louisiana with Shane leaves her vulnerable to his seduction and soon she is falling for him in every way.  The connection between them is undeniable, but soon a truth about her human life comes to light that could change the world for them all.  Can she find a way to protect herself, her family and most important her love, or will she forever have to deal with the consequences of her impulsive actions?
I liked Shane a lot, even though he is a bit too alpha for Maya.  He is sensual and protective, with a sweet side that he shares only with Maya, though they butt heads at every turn, fighting each other just as passionately as they love.  He has been around so long and has only lived for battles, having long forgotten the desire for a woman, until he meets Maya.  I liked that he was unwilling to let Maya be so impulsive that she places herself in danger, but he has so little experience with headstrong women that he often fumbles and finds himself at a loss for what step he should take to keep her from endangering herself. Maya was not my favorite character in the beginning.  She was childish and immature making me think that it was time for her to grow the hell up already and deal with reality. When she finally accepts that she is not free to do just whatever the hell she wants, damn the consequences, I begin to like her a bit more.  She is obviously resistant to tying herself to Shane in the beginning, maybe even a bit scared of his intensity, but when she digs deeper and sees how sweet he is, she finds in him a perfect match to her personality and a person who can temper her craziness.   In the end I liked Maya a lot and was proud of the way she stepped up and earned the right to protect and love a man like Shane.
 This story took some interesting turns in terms of the overall plot line of the series.  There were a lot of unexpected truths that were revealed as Maya learned about her human life and the changes that come with those truths in her new vampire life.  Finding out that Shane is falling in love with her makes Maya into a better woman in my opinion.  Shane has the ability to keep Maya from causing too much trouble while allowing her to become the vampire she was meant to be, giving her the skills she needs to no longer feel like a victim and embrace her inner badass.  Maya on the other hand, reminds Shane that life is not entirely about duty, but must be balanced with laughter and love in his life.  Their passion comes out in the most unexpected situations and the laughter that they learn to share is wonderful. I am looking forward to seeing what might come next in this series, and what characters might find themselves falling in love next. I will say for sure that wherever this series goes I will enjoy every minute of the trip.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

ARC Review: One Sexy Ride

One Sexy Ride (Thompson & Sons #2)



His goal is to stand firm
As the middle child in a big family, Len Thompson has found it easy to slip under the radar. His relationships outside the family-run garage tend to run a mile wide but only an inch deep as he keeps his heart, body and soul protected. But when the one woman he’s always wanted makes it known she’ll soon be leaving town, he can’t resist letting her into his carefully constructed fortress.
Her gift is rocking his world
Chasing her best friend’s big brother has both entertained and frustrated Janey for years. She’s not sure what triggered his change of heart, but hell, yeah, she’ll accept it. All of it. Every kiss, every touch, every bit of body-shaking pleasure. Working to meet her renovation deadline is suddenly not nearly as interesting as the mind-blowing escapades she’s enjoying with the big sexy mechanic.
When old fears threaten, Len must finally choose—face his past or let their future crumble.
Themes: erotica
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
Another interesting story about a sexy strong and sweet man and the woman who has always held his heart.  Arend of course does this like no other, taking us through some heated loving to the sweet and often sad relationship building that leads to true love and HEA.  I’ve loved this series from the first I heard about it and I am thrilled to have the chance to spread the news about this greatness. If you love sexy men, often greasy from a hard day of working under an engine you can bet this story is for you. 
Len is finally giving in to his feelings for Janey, the woman who has held his heart since they were both teens.  He knows their time together will be limited and this is the only reason he will allow himself to become her lover, knowing she won’t be hurt when their relationship ends, because they’ll go into knowing it won’t last.  But Janey has never done what was expected of her and she quickly finds herself falling in love with Len, more than just the love of a girl, the deep abiding love of the woman she has become. Working side by side and exploring their long time passion, both Janey and Len never see the hard truths that they might soon be facing.
I loved Len for so many reasons.  Firstly it’s obvious that he gave his heart to Janey long ago, and has remained faithful to that love, even knowing he would never see a future with her.  While he is sexy as hell, he is the sweetest of the all boys, with the kindest heart and obviously he feels pain and sadness more than the others.  He has carried the grief of his mother’s loss with him along with a huge amount of guilt that no child should have to carry and it has kept him from going after his heart’s desire.  Janey is an adventurous, sexy, and hard as nails woman, who refuses to let the man she loves slip through her fingers.  But when faced with his inability to commit to a future for them, she decides she is strong enough to live without him, no matter how much it breaks her heart. I liked that she was so determined to show Len just how much he is worth to her, but I wish she had kicked his ass instead of letting him try to break them apart. 
In the end, Len pulls his heart out of the darkness he has wrapped it in and sees that sometimes any pain is worth the happiness of living a life with the one who loves you unconditionally.  I loved seeing him blossom with Janey, embracing his sensual nature and also the sweetness that he shows exclusively to Janey. He is one of those characters that you can’t help but love and feel sorry for, even when he is being an idiot.  Janey is my kind of girl for sure.  Sexy, strong, and passionate in both her work and her personal life, she pushes forward in life, not allowing anything to knock her off her goals. I was thrilled to see them find their love and be able to move beyond their fears and hang-ups to find a chance at a future.  I am loving every book in this series and cannot wait to see the women the next two brothers fall for.  As always with this author there was an intense level of passion and there were some serious sexy moments that couldn’t have been more endearing at the same time.  If you haven’t read the others in their series, you’re missing out, but you will still love Len and Janey’s story.  Another great love story between two people with such different outlooks on life.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

ARC Review: Rocky Ride

Rocky Ride (Thompson & Sons #1)

by Vivian Arend 


He’s got a touch that’s hotter than hot
It took a hell of a lot of fast-talking and more than a few speeding tickets before Mitch Thompson convinced Constable Anna Coleman to take him for a ride. Only now that she’s loosened off her stiff RCMP uniform, it’s not nearly enough. Their secret sexual escapades are mind-blowing, but Mitch wants more than her body—he wants her heart.
Her world could go up in flames
It’s a dangerous road to walk, and Anna doesn’t know how far she can safely tread. Bad boy Mitch may have lured her wild side out to play, but giving in to their increasingly passionate desires could endanger her very civilized career. Somewhere between yearning and obsession there has to be a balance point.
Or they’re both going to get burned
Themes: bikers, cops, voyeurism, contemporary
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
Wow that was a seriously sexy story about one hot but sweet biker and a sexy gorgeous cop.  I admit I love anything by this author, but sadly I read this spin-off series long before I finished all of the first series, which spoiled a few surprises for me, but nothing that makes me unwilling to read the original series (Six Pack Ranch).  Arend takes us back to this small Canadian town full of sexy as hell men with libidos that are off the charts and adventurous spirits that are unbeatable.  This story starts off with passion and it never lets up, even as the hearts of the couples become more invested.  I am looking forward to reading more about this family and seeing the other sexy Thompson brothers find their HEA. I will throw out one recommendation; you should try to read Baby, Be Mine simultaneously, perhaps even switching back and forth so that you get to fill in all the details about the sister Katy as well, as I have now learned they are running at the same time.  Wish I had done this.
I loved every minute of seeing Mitch and Anna as they interacted, from that very first sexy interlude between them to the very last second where they finally find their HEA. Anna is a strong woman, but one that has for so long suppressed her inner vixen and Mitch is determined to bring her out of her shell so she can share that fire with others.   Anna has always found Mitch to be a dangerous man, but she never let herself look any deeper until she realizes that she is just as judgmental as others and decides to give him a chance to show her just who he really is.  Mitch jumps at the chance and I love seeing him show Anna just how great a man he is and that he is a perfect match for her, when he’s not being a jerk trying to make decision he thinks will be best for her.  Other than a few misunderstandings and the obvious need for them to find a balance in their lives between professional and personal, it is obvious they are more than meant to be together forever.  Thankfully they finally find their paths converging and are able to find their happiness.
I loved this story and am thrilled to have a chance to meet all new sexy men, while still getting to see some of the characters from the previous stories in this town.  Anna is the type of woman I would love to grow up to be :); she’s strong, Passionate, determined, and willing to give her all in everything she does. When she sets her mind to something she refuses to give in, and when her mind is set on a chance for a relationship with Mitch the passion between them is unbearably hot.  Mitch is a great guy.  He definitely has his dark and dangerous edges and his passions run high most of the time, but seeing how sweet and caring he is with Anna reminded me that even the most dangerous looking men can be the gentlest of men in the right hands.  And really who can resist the sexiness of a big, bad biker with sexy as hell tattoos and a dark passionate edge to him? Not Me! Keep the hits coming Vivian.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ARC Review: Dare to Surrender (minor Spoliers)

Dare to Surrender (Dare to Love #3)

by Carly Phillips


After ending a relationship to a cheating, domineering man, Isabelle Masters takes off in her leased Mercedes, only to be arrested for grand theft and hauled to a local police station. To her surprise, she is rescued by the most unlikely person possible, Gabriel Dare, a man she’s been attracted to for far too long. Gabe offers Isabelle freedom along with an invitation to Eden, an exclusive island resort where everything and anything is possible.
Although Gabe yearns to possess Isabelle, he knows all too well he must fight his primitive need to bind her to him, and instead help bring out the independent woman she yearns to become – or risk losing her for good.
A woman who needs to run her own life. A man who needs to exert control. Can she surrender to his erotic demands without losing her sense of self once more?
Themes: Bondage, contemporary
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
 What a strange and interesting view of a relationship that borders on Dom/sub without ever actually labeling the relationship that way.  It is obvious from the beginning that Gabe is a man that likes to be in control and Isabelle is the type of woman that flourishes with the love and care of a man who can fulfill all her emotional needs, without completely taking over all aspects of her life. This is technically the third novel in the Dare to Love series, though it is a rather loose connection, with only a small mention of the Dare siblings that have starred in previous books.  It also belongs to a large group of books (Invitation to Eden) with several authors including novellas all in some way connected to the Private resort called Eden (or so I understand as this is the only one I’ve read).  While I enjoy all Carly Phillips novels, Her newest self-published Dare to Love Series is certainly one of her steamiest set of books and I find myself drawn to them inexplicably and unable to resist them.  I am looking forward to reading the rest of the Dare siblings and cousins’ stories and perhaps getting a chance to read more of the Eden novels as well.
Gabe has watched Isabelle from a far for a long time, unwilling to poach on another man’s woman, but unable to resist her pull on him.  When he stumbles on her, handcuffed to his brother’s desk, and discovers she is no longer unavailable, he jumps immediately to the conclusion that this is his only chance and he can’t squander it.   Offering her sanctuary in his luxury apartment until she is able to find her feet again, he immediately starts a sensual assault on all her walls, determined to convince her to stay with him forever and let him care for her.  Isabelle fights him at every turn, though she knows she has fallen for him deeply, she is determined to stand on her own two feet.  After the debacle of her last relationship she refuses to let any man take over her life again and knows with every fiber of her being that Gabe is the type of man that will completely take over her life if she lets him.  When she leaves him behind, breaking both their hearts, in an attempt to make her own way, there is no denying that she hungers for him and regrets her choice to leave him behind.  When Gabe’s sister offers her the business opportunity of her lifetime, she reluctantly agrees to travel with Lucy Dare to the private island resort of Eden to serve as designer on the new nightclub the Dares are opening there.  But when Gabe returns to her life with a bang, there is no way in hell she’ll let him go a second time…as long as they can compromise and find a way to be together without losing their identities at the same time.
Damn that Gabe is seriously sexy and a man whose sexy voice and wicked thoughts could lead any woman down the path of sensual exploration. Though he has lived his life for the last years keeping all emotions from his relationships with women, there is no way he can keep himself from falling for Isabelle. He is sexy in his determination to keep her happy, sweet in how he cares for her, and always seems to be there when she really needs him including emotionally. I loved seeing him take charge in their lives, especially the bedroom, but it was obvious he had very little experience with the softer side of his emotions or hers.  It was nice to see Isabelle pull him out of his shell and remind him that she is perfectly capable of making a life for herself without him, but that having him in her life makes it infinitely richer and worth the risk to have their HEA.  Isabelle was a strange mix of innocence and experience, strength and vulnerability, self-consciousness and bravado.  Once minute you can see just how much her past has left her broken emotionally, and the next we see her picking herself back up and refusing to give in the her weaknesses.  It was nice to see her as she blossomed with the compliments from Gabe and the honest desire he displayed for her so readily. This was a story of her coming in to her own as much as finding her love and finally allowing herself to fall for a good and honest man.
I really did enjoy this story very much, though I can say with all honestly I hated the fact that the portions of the story directly pertaining to Isabelle were written in first person.  While it was well enough done, I just don’t like reading romances in this writing manner, especially when the portions from Gabe's POV were in third person.  It was a bit confusing when jumping around, but I guess it can deal with it for such a great story.  Gabe was the quintessential Dare man—sexy, controlling, demanding, sexy, sensual, sweet, caring, sexy and loving, nuff said.  While he was obviously resistant to letting Isabelle into his heart and especially his past, he demanded she give him all of herself, which made him seem a bit of a hypocrite at times, but thankfully he comes around and gives her all of him too.  Isabelle is the kind of woman I can relate to;  she has insecurities like any other woman, and sometimes makes mistakes in her life, but she always deals with the consequences of her choices and is determined not to let Gabe stand in front of her in their life, instead having him at her side is her goal.  The passion between them exploded every second, and he spoke dirty to her or even just used his commanding voice, I felt ever word in my own body, which is the sign of a great author if you ask me. I am dying to see what comes next for the Dare family, but I do hope that the rest of the novels revert to Carly’s standard third person writing style.

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