Tuesday, June 30, 2015

ARC Review: Soul Scorched

Soul Scorched (Dark Kings #6)

by Donna Grant 


Darcy was floating on a cloud of pure passion. Everywhere he touched, Warrick
was leaving a mark on her, forever changing her. She could feel it through her skin and muscle, through bone and into her soul. It was as if he was changing her. And she welcomed it…
Her power is a blessing.
Born on the Isle of Skye, Darcy is a beautiful woman of many gifts. Fortune-telling is her forte, and she remains the only Druid who could unlock the secrets—and desires—of a Dragon King. His name is Warrick. And now that Darcy’s seen into his dragon heart, nothing will ever be the same…
His passion is a curse.
Warrick never intended to put Darcy in harm’s way. But ever since she revealed a shocKing truth, Darcy has been hunted by the Dark Fae, who want to use her powers for their own evil purposes. Now it’s up to Warrick to do whatever it takes to keep the woman who sets his soul on fire safe. But protecting Darcy means putting himself—and his entire race—in jeopardy. Is his desperate longing for one woman worth the risk of losing everything… for eternity?
Themes: Dragons, Magick, Fae, paranormal
Rating:  4 stars
Heat Rating: 
The thrilling story of the dragons that walk amongst us in their human skins continues with this latest addition to the fabulous tale of the Dragon Kings.  I have followed this series since the beginning, and truth be told since their first brief appearance in the previous series by Grant.  This Kings' story is one that is enchanting and interesting at every turn, mainly because these men just cannot fathom how the women of the modern world can affect them so and bind their hearts with their spirit and strength.  Warrick's story is one that is unique in that we get some seriously dark glimpses of characters that we have been trying to fully understand for several books now.  For new readers to the series Grant is wonderful in the ways she updates and introduces couples and plots from previous novels, but for long time fans like myself the recaps always come with sweet reminders of the couples we've watched fall in love and the intriguing ways the story has unfolded thus far.  I am dying to know what will happen next and which King will lose his heart in the process.  But fair warning to you new readers, if you don’t handle frustration well be prepared because we STILL don't know the identity of Rhi's Dragon King, even though we have gotten more interesting tidbits and we all have our suspicions. 
With all that goes on in each of these stories I find it harder and harder to give a synopsis without giving away any of the plot twists that make these stories unique.  So I will go right into my assessment of the characters. Warrick is the strong silent type when first he burst onto the page.  He has awoken from his long hibernation with a renewed obsession with the humans around them.  When he reluctantly agrees to Con's demand to track down the druid that is aiding their enemy, he had no idea that she would bring out every one of his protective instincts and remind him that he's not just a dragon but also a man.  Darcy attracts him like no other woman ever has, not just her sensual body, but her bright mind and her sweet spirit attract him just as much.  He begins to trust and believe in her, even when the other Kings believe she is a traitor and needs to be punished for aiding their nemesis.  But when push comes to shove, he protects his woman even at the expense of his relationship with his brothers and the possibility of his own death. 
Darcy is herself and contradictory mix of confidence and vulnerability.  She believes very strongly that her independence and magickal destiny are to be found in her new life, away from the sheltering influence of her family and the small community of druids she was raised in.  When confronted with the possibilities that she had aided an evil individual, her trust in her instincts and unwillingness to give in to popular belief show her strength, even if she might end up wrong.  Her fears and vulnerabilities are made even more obvious as her relationship develops with Warrick because she finds herself trusting him more than she ever thought she could, and she backpedals often trying to wrap her mind around the truth of their feelings for one another.  I felt so much sympathy for Darcy when her world crashes down around her, but thankfully she is able to find her inner confidence and strength and find a way to be the woman that Warrick needs in his life. 
Soul Scorched is the type of story that keep you interested from every moment, whether the Kings are battling the dark, learning new detail in their war, or falling in love.  Warrick and Darcy were made for each other, even if it takes them both a good long while to come to terms with their feelings.  Warrick never wanted a mate, but when Darcy comes into his life, stirring his passions, there is no way he can resist her.  Darcy too feels such a pull to him that she fears the power of it, but when she begins to open her heart, learning more about the Kings and their battle, we see the sweet and gentle woman that represents the other half of the dangerous and deadly Warrick.  Warrick is the type of male that you think will never settle down, but when he finds the right woman there is no denying he jumps in with both feet.  Darcy has some serious coming to terms to do with the choices she has made in life, mainly in that sometimes you must look deeper to find the full truth when dealing with anyone after something only you can provide.  I cried quite a bit during some revelations in this story, but the happiness of the couple is enough to make the tears worth it.  I am looking forward to more of this story and it seems like true lines are being drawn finally between friend and foe.  We also continue to get glimpses of the Druids and Warriors I fell in love with in the Dark Warriors series which is awesome.  Grant is a talented story teller, able to weave long fantastic tales, through time, space, and different fantastical worlds, making each of the groups of men special but connected in such a way that it makes you wonder if there is really any divergence in the battle-hardened warriors of the ages that have always kept us safe. 
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Review: Second Chance Summer

Second Chance Summer (Cedar Ridge #1)

by Jill Shalvis


Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it's the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there's an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .
The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . . .
Themes:  contemporary
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating:
 An all new series begins, one that made me cry, laugh, and fall in love with all the crazy characters in this mountain family.  Shalvis has several series that I have enjoyed following for a long time now, but I am always looking for something new and exciting and Second Chance Summer might just be the start of what I’ve been looking for.  Set in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, this series revolves around a family of sexy and dangerous men and their adrenaline junky little sister.  If you are a fan of Shalvis’s other series you will definitely enjoy the quirky characters in this town as well, but if you are a first time reader of her work I can tell you that laugher, wit, sarcasm and sweetness are to be expected from the story and the characters.  I really enjoyed getting to know the Kincaid Family and their friends and neighbors, but of course this story was full of Aidan and his struggle to earn a second shot at winning Lily’s heart.  The fun of watching them circle around one another was tempered by the sadness, emotional trauma, and trust issues that each had to come to terms with.  I am really looking forward to the next couple of stories in this series and getting to know more of this family. 
Lily is returning to her hometown, extremely reluctantly, bruised and battered on a personal and professional level.  After a betrayal by a man she thought she could trust fully, there is no way she will allow another man to break her, even the sexy and terrifyingly alpha Aidan Kincaid.  He bruised her heart once and she won’t that mistake again, no matter how much he seems determined to put them together.  Aidan is surprised by the depth of emotion he still feels for Lily when she blasts back into his life, but he lives his life in full speed now and he will find way around, under, or over her walls any way he can.  As they grow closer together the emotional traumas of their past have to be dealt with and Lily isn’t sure she can truly trust him to be there for her.  When danger lurks around every corner for this search and rescue operator/firefighter, can Lily allow herself to fall in love and risk losing him too?
Shalvis has found an all new chord to pull on my heart with the story about a woman that is dealing with guilt, grief, and fear while still trying to pick herself up and make her way in the world.  Lily seems fragile in the beginning but you slowly begin to see her come into her own as she is bolstered by friends and the new family she finds herself surrounded by.  She is definitely a character with fire inside, she just needed to dig herself out of the ice she has wrapped herself in for her own safety.  And really I’m not sure what more to say about Aidan than HOT!... ok so there’s more to him than just a gorgeous firefighting, rock climbing, adrenaline seeker, but that's a good place to start.  While it may seem he’s just a thrill seeker, his obvious concerns for his safety and the safety of his friends and family, show him to be the truly caring individual he is.  He is the bedrock for his family and has been since he was a young boy and their world imploded, caring for his siblings and helping his mother cope with her husband’s treachery. Seeing him interacting with his friends and family shows how sweet he can be, even as he is saving people from danger—and themselves—and when he finally comes to terms with the way he feels for Lily there is no stopping his pursuit of her, this time for keeps. 
I liked this story every much.  The Kincaid family was full of laughter, even though they were dealing with serious issues ranging from financial troubles to missing family members and coming to terms with the past that has colored all their lives.  Aidan is the man that brings everyone together and keeps his siblings from becoming too mired in the worries and fears, and his interactions with his mother are beyond hilarious.  Lily has some serious issues to deal with, letting go of guilt for past mistakes and finally letting herself grieve her loses, but with Aidan’s help and the confidence he inspires she is able to conquer it all and find her niche.  When Lily and Aidan are together the sparks fly, whether they are fighting or loving, and it is obvious to everyone that they are meant to be together as long as they can drop their walls and find a way to accept each other’s love.  Set in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, the Cedar Ridge series promises to be another great success and I cannot wait to see their world once winter hits.  Lighthearted at times, but dealing with the real sorrows and griefs of life, this romance will be a reminder that even if you feel like you can never trust another person enough to fall, love is out there for everyone, You just have to open yourself up to it.  Cannot wait for Hudson and Jacob’s stories (already planned for the next year) and the books coming in the future as well.  Looks like another Hit series, Jill.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

*Favorites revisited* Review: Glutton for Pleasure

Glutton for Pleasure (Pleasure #1)

by Alisha Rai


They’re craving something sweet. She likes it spicy.
Devi Malik knows how to heat things up. She does it every night as head chef in her family’s Indian restaurant. Her love life, though, is stuck in the subzero freezer. Now, with a chance to fulfill a secret fantasy with her long-time crush and his brother, it’s time to put her desire on the front two burners.
For Marcus Callahan, a love-’em-and-leave-’em attitude isn’t only a necessary evil of their kink. It’s a protective device. Lately, though, his brother Jace has been making noises about craving something more.
Jace’s dissatisfaction with their lifestyle grows with every glimpse of sweet little Devi. Yet Marcus is too haunted by the pain of their shared past to give love a chance.
Despite their reputation for vanishing with the dawn, they discover one night with Devi isn’t nearly enough. And Devi finds herself falling in love with two very different men.
It’ll take more than explosive sex to light up the shadows surrounding the Callahan brothers’ secrets. But Devi’s never been afraid of the dark…
Themes: erotica, menage
Rating: 5 stars
Heat Rating: 5
The book that started it all for one of my favorite authors has gotten a make-over and an all new group of people to appreciate its awesomeness and unique take on love, relationships, and self-worth.  I first encountered this story several years ago when I was browsing and was immediately intrigued, mainly because my best friend is of Indian decent and I knew we would both enjoy this story of an Indian chef embracing her inner sensual goddess and having two men to call her own.  Since that fateful first encounter I have reread this story so many times I could probably recite most of it to you, but to this day it remains my #1 go to story when I need a sensual pick-me-up or I’m in between reads and need to return to an old friend for a while.  I have been dying to know if there would be a sequel and I am thrilled to know that Alisha finally got to write it!  I cannot wait to read it.  This story is one that tackles many taboos, while still having moments of fun, sensual discovery, and true heart.  I probably sound like a fangirl, but that’s ok, because in this case I am.  That being said, there are some dark moments where the past is relived, the true depths of emotion are uncovered, and the societal problems with this kind of relationship are accepted.  While this book may not be for all, I think enough people can relate to many of the issues in the story and will see its more than just erotic romance, it is really the story of a woman finding and accepting the love she deserves despite cultural, familial, and societal pressure.  This to me is what makes Rai’s work so wonderful, her heroines are kick-ass, even when they are sweet and innocent, and they all come into their own and find their inner core of steel.
The story revolves around twin brothers that have always had women fall at their feet, but because of their pasts they require a certain kind of relationship—one where they share a woman, needing that triad for emotional strength as well as the inherent physical pleasure.  Marcus, the darker of the two brothers, is perfectly happy having flings with sexy women that don’t get attached, but Jace has decided he’s found the woman that will truly complete their lives and he’s ready to claim her for both of them.  Devi has been lusting after her favorite customer Jace, since he started coming to her family’s restaurant regularly, but she never knew he had a brother, and never imagined just what the two of them would drag her into.  She reluctantly agrees to one night of passion, unable to resist the two sexy beasts that seem to really lust after her, a feeling she’s never had with another man, but once she gives in, Jace convinces her—and Marcus—to give something more a chance.  As they get to know each other and the boys bring out the sensual goddess buried inside Devi, their hearts become more and more involved, but will they be able to overcome all the landmines that litter their lives, including the secrets the men have kept all their lives and Marcus’s steadfast refusal to let his heart get involved?
To truly understand the greatness of this story you have to know a bit about each of the characters.  Devi is a mostly sheltered, but sensual woman that has been put down by men so often she actually doubts her own sex appeal, believing that her sisters are the true beauties and burying herself in the kitchen.  When faced with the depths of desire that Jace and Marcus bring out of her, and the ways they make her body burn, Devi is more than a little afraid, but she is determined to give the boys a chance to show her just how great they can be together.  I loved seeing her blossom into the woman she was always meant to be, especially as she began to take control of the needs of herself and her men and see just how much they needed her, accepting their love despite all the interference and all the obstacles in their way.  Devi’s interactions with the guys are always different, especially as she begins to push them and herself to new levels of their relationship and becoming a true triad.  Even though she begins her time with them as a shy and naïve participant of their sensual experiments, in the end she is definitely leading these men around by their bodies, hearts, and ultimately their souls.  Devi begins to accept  that love comes in many forms and for them their love is a three sided figure that is stronger than any other relationship she knows. 
Jace and Marcus are their own unique brand of messed up, but their needs lead them into Devi’s arms and there is no way they can deny the pull of the sensual Indian chef that feeds their bodies and souls.  Jace is the more outgoing of the two brothers, determined to bring his brother into the light and find them a true mate, even if he has to fight Marcus every step of the way.  He is a strong man, alpha and controlling all on his own, but his flashes of dangerous sensuality are tempered by his sweet and loving nature, especially with Devi.  Devi tugs on his heart, but the dangerous edge of his twin might just be what pulls them apart, if Jace cannot counter Marcus’s issues with their past and give them a chance at a future.  Marcus has always protected his brother and his own heart greedily, believing no woman would ever be able to accept their taboo need for a single woman for both brothers.  He has secrets he is determined to keep buried and has no desire for his darkness to come to light.  Even though he only wants to have Devi in his bed and arms long enough to sate the desire she inspires, he quickly begins to fall in love, even as he waits for the other shoe to drop and break them all apart.  His unwillingness to open up to Devi is the biggest problem they all must face, but when all three of them are faced with the decision to deal with their shit or give up on their relationship, Devi refuses to let Marcus hide, proving she really might be the ultimate woman for their mate.
Now that I have explained why I feel this story is so great, I will share some of the finer points that made me an even more invested fan.  I am a foodie at heart and with Devi being a chef there were a few scenes when the sensuality of food was explored right along with other sensual activities.   Rai is one of those artists who can make even the most boring moments in life, such as clothing shopping or arguing in a kitchen into something life-changingly sexy.  Devi is the type of woman I wish I could be, unconsciously sensual, and once the boys show her just how sensual she was through their eyes, her self-confidence multiplies exponentially.  Jace and Marcus are the perfect combination of darkly sensual alpha man and sweetly caring beta, giving them the perfect foil for Devi’s needs and desires.  It is obvious no one man could have ever made Devi as happy as having both of her men, but only once she convinces them to fully accept her love and their love for her.  Seeing these three individuals come together to form such a strong and loving relationship gives me hope for myself someday finding just the mate (or mates) I need.  If you haven’t enjoyed this story yet, I beg of you please gift it a shot and fall in love with these characters and this author just as I have. 
In fact after writing all my thoughts again, I think it might be time for another visit to my favorite Indian restaurant and the retelling of a relationship for the ages between the pages of Glutton for Pleasure.   And don’t forget to grab the long-awaited sequel to Devi, Jace, and Marcus’s Story, Serving Pleasure, coming soon. 

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

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Review: Don't Walk Away

Don't Walk Away (DreamMakers #3)

by Vivian Arend and Elle Kennedy


He wants to rock her world—in bed and out of it

For former Army Ranger Dean Colter, sexual escapades and wild flirtations are the norm—but it wasn’t always that way. Years ago, the DreamMakers co-owner was a one-woman kind of guy until he tore Emma Lee’s heart apart. Yet he’s never forgotten her, and when Emma waltzes back into his life, a second chance is suddenly within his reach…and he’ll be damned if he’ll screw up again.

She wants her world to stop spinning apart

Emma’s no longer the naïve girl she used to be. Now a successful designer in the fashion world, she refuses to let Dean’s killer smile and sweet-talking ways distract her from her goals. But being the target of Dean’s full-out seduction isn’t easy to resist, even as the dynasty she’s built teeters toward disaster. This time she might the one who breaks both their hearts when she has to walk away.

Themes: contemporary
Rating: 3.75 stars
Heat Rating: 

Wow what a really cute read. I have been waiting for this story for a while, mainly because I so badly wanted to get to know Dean and see him fall in love.  Dean's friends have been falling left and right and I have enjoyed very much watching them fall into love.  Arend and Kennedy are both favorite authors of mine and when I learned they were going to be working on a project together I was instantly attracted.  The first two Dreammakers stories were awesome and we have been learning more about Dean and his past in each story, but now Dean's past has come back to remind him the true meaning of love.  If you missed the first two in the series you will be okay with this one, but the whole picture will be improved greatly if you read them all.  I am looking forward to the next books and cannot wait to see how the team might expand in the future with more badasses turned matchmakers. 

Dean has always been haunted by the girl that he left and lost when he was a young man, but when he finds himself face to face with her again, he has an impossible desire to rekindle their love.  Emma has never forgotten or gotten over Dean, even as she moved on with her life and tried to find a way to succeed in her life.  Now he’s back in her life and seems determined to make her fall in love with him again.  Dean was awesome; a sensual badass, with a layer of sweet and a sense of humor to make him the perfect match for Emma, if only she will forgive and let him show her the man he has become.  Emma was a sweet girl that got her heart broken and never really recovered.  Even though her professional life has become close to perfect, her personal life has never recovered from losing Dean, but she's no pushover.  I enjoyed watching her make him work for it, making him earn her love and show that he's really changed.   In the end they both find a way to get what they want and have a chance to remake their love so they can have a future together.  I also enjoyed the glimpses of past couples and the cameos of the other members of the group that might get their own stories soon.  While I love anything by Kennedy and Arend, enjoying their combined work and seeing how they collaborated to make even greater works of art. Cannot wait for the next one in the series.  

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

ARC Review: Wicked Ride

Wicked Ride (Realm Enforcers #1)

by Rebecca Zanetti


 If you love the Dark Protectors, these wicked hot Realm Enforcers are for you!
Alexandra Monzelle is a hard-fighting, heat-packing Seattle vice cop, and she’s not much interested in being protected. Her short skirt and sex-kitten heels are tools to lure her suspects into talking about the deadly new drug hitting the streets. She can take care of herself and then some. Unfortunately, she can’t seem to get that through to Kellach Dunne.
Kellach is a fresh import from Dublin, and he’s landed at the heart of a vicious motorcycle club that deals in guns, narcotics, and mayhem. He’s all male, all rough power—and all interference in her damn investigation. Maybe he’s one of the good guys. Maybe not. Lex knows an affair with an immortal like him would risk everything. No matter how delicious he looks…
Themes: Witches, Demons, Vampires, Paranormal    
Rating: 4 stars
Heat Rating: 
The time of the Witches has arrived! Fans of the Dark Protectors series will find some familiar faces in this new spin-off series, based on the lives of the Witches that we met briefly in the previous series.  The first story revolves around Kellach Dunne and enforcer for the Coven Nine and a powerful witch in his own right.  The series picks up shortly after the end of the war that has waged for decades and the Witches are dealing with their own battles now.  Kellach and his brothers are on the trail of a group that is manufacturing and distributing a new drug based on the one mineral that can easily kill a Witch.  I very much enjoyed getting to meet more of the Witches and fall in love with Kellach and I know I will enjoy the fall of the other brothers in future stories as well.  Another great hit, Rebecca, and I am dying to know where this series will ultimately venture.  For newcomers to the world of these magical individuals, pay close attention because the skills of these folks are scary and give them that edge that makes them even more sensual than your typical badass... and did I mention they pose as bikers? Seriously what could be hotter?
Kellach is on the hunt for the idiots that have decided to create and sell a new drug to humans, ones that give them witch-like powers and a feeling of euphoria like no other...until they die a hideous and gruesome death.  Also on the trail of this drug is human detective Alexandra Monzelle, a woman with her own reasons for wanting to bring down these drug dealers.  When their paths cross, an intense passion flares between them, as much as neither of them are prepared for it.  As they butt heads again and again, Lex and Kellach have to come to terms with each other's personalities as well as their individual missions.  Only with true trust can they find a way to have a life together, but will either of them be able to overcome their own natures to find a compromise or will they forever be drawn together and forced apart in turns?
Oh Boy, Kellach is again and again asking to get his ass kicked. While he is definitely a man of skill and danger, he has yet to accept that some women are just as much warriors as he is himself.  Kellach is drawn inexplicably to the one woman that could jeopardize his mission and she refuses to trust him, even though he proves his goodness again and again.  I fully understood his frustration with Lex and wanted to lash at her on his behalf more than once.  It is obvious that Kellach is a good guy, even though he is definitely dangerous, but Lex denies her instincts where he is concerned again and again, leaving me wondering if she will ever be able to trust in him and his love.  Seeing him interacting with his brothers and cousin, as well as his "nephews" was also awesome because he's such a smartass and a sweetheart in equal proportions that I found myself wanting one of him, even if I had to forego the kick ass witch powers.   But of course the best part of Kellach is his loyalty and devotion to his mate, even though he doesn't understand her, can't get her to trust him, and can't get her to think about her own safety as she runs headlong into danger. He never stops loving her, even when she is trying to beat him, arrest him, or control him, and that level of love and loyalty is rare these days.
Alexandra, or Lex, on the other hand was not a favorite character for me.  While she is a well written character, she was definitely one of those heroines that I loved to hate.  Her inability to trust in Kellach or his motivations and actions, left me wanting to tell her to stop waffling and make a dang decision already.  One minute she is giving herself to him and the next she is trying to arrest him, and she seemed unable to come to a decision about him until almost the very end of the story.  While I can understand her fears and her reasons for being so untrusting it felt like she didn't know her own mind at times, which is one aspect of some heroines I really hate.  I could understand if she didn't give her trust until late in the story, but she would give it, and then take it away, which made me just as crazy as Kellach.  That being said Lex was well written and a character that kept you interested and moved the story along with her intelligence and wit.  I just wish she had held more to her convictions where Kell was concerned.
True to its name, Wicked Ride was a story with lots of twists, turns, and flips for both the characters and the readers.  Kellach and Lex were interesting characters, both warriors in their own ways and beautifully matched, once they got over their pigheadedness.  Kellach is alpha through and through, but sweet as all get out and determined to love and cherish this surprising woman who becomes his mate.  Lex on the other hand has no real idea what to do with a man like Kellach, one that her gut tells her is a good man, but that her experience tells her is a danger to her and her ideals.  The overall drama of the story was well written with a plot that has a few surprises and unforeseen happenings that make the story even more interesting that just two passionate individuals clashing and ultimately falling in love.  The heat that Kellach and Lex throw off when they are together is amazing to see and that doesn't even include the actual fire that these Witches can throw.  If you are looking for an intensely sensual and intriguing story full of drama, love, Magick and wit, look no farther than Rebecca's new spin-off series, but of course I encourage you to go back to the beginning and learn all about these characters in the original series (Dark Protectors) as well.  Zanetti scores again with her fantastical world, sensual characters, and intelligent plot and I cannot wait to see where this series goes in the future.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

ARC Review: Ride Steady

Ride Steady (Chaos #3)

by Kristen Ashley


 The ride of her life . . .
Once upon a time, Carissa Teodoro believed in happy endings. Money, marriage, motherhood: everything came easy---until she woke up to the ugly truth about her Prince Charming. Now a struggling, single mom and stranded by a flat tire, Carissa's pondering her mistakes when a vaguely familiar knight rides to her rescue on a ton of horsepower.
Climb on and hold tight . . .
In high school, Carson Steele was a bad boy loner who put Carissa on a pedestal where she stayed far beyond his reach. Today, he's the hard-bodied biker known only as Joker, and from the way Carissa's acting, it's clear she's falling fast. While catching her is irresistible, knowing what to do with her is a different story. A good girl like Carissa is the least likely fit with the Chaos Motorcycle Club. Too bad holding back is so damned hard. Now, as Joker's secrets are revealed and an outside threat endangers the club, Joker must decide whether to ride steady with Carissa---or ride away forever . . .
Themes: Motorcycle Club, contemporary
Rating: 4.75  stars
Heat Rating: 
Holy shit, the heat this couple produces every second they are on the page together is beyond anything I have ever seen, and that's after reading Shy and Tack's stories, which let's face it were beyond anything before them either.  If you are a long time reader of Ms. Ashley's you will know just what I mean, but if you have missed out on these previous stories... WTH is wrong with you!?! But really this series is wonderful as are the predecessors, but if you have missed the other stories you are missing a lot.  I have been a fan since I first picked up one of Kristen’s novels, but I definitely have my favorites and Joker is one of those guys, so getting to read his story was beyond amazing.  I am not usually a fan of stories written in first person, but these are so well written, with just enough third person used from the hero's POV that I find myself unable to resist the stories. I love Joker and Carissa story even though there were times I just wanted to cry, but the true greatness comes from the way these couples come together while merging into the odd and sometimes scary family that is the Chaos MC.  I cannot wait for the next story in the series, Walk through Fire, and see where this sexy and awesome group of people will venture next in the maze of love.
Carson "Joker" Steele has had a hard life to this point, but he never forgot the woman that stole his heart as a youth and he finds his way back into her life, rescuing her when she's in desperate need.  Carissa's life has NOT turned out the way she imagine it would, and when she finds herself stranded on she never imagined how much that moment would truly change her life.  The sexy biker that came to her aid draws her into his sphere with his devastating good looks and gruff sweetness and Carissa is more than willing to explore the passion he brings out in her, even if her life is currently crazy.   Carson never imagined he'd have a second chance at love, but can he truly show Carissa who he is and still have a chance, or will she turn from the man she sees under the mask of his biker badassness? And in the end they must overcome their vastly different lifestyles and experiences to be able to become a family they can both appreciate and have wanted their entire lives.
Carson was the type of character that tugs on your heart while heating you from the inside out until you’re fevered and ready for anything.  He has distanced himself emotionally, if not physically, from the life he lived when he first knew Carissa, but he never forgot how sweet she was and that he wanted her even then.   It was great to see him find his way in her life, truly improving every moment of it, without stifling her and making her a better woman.   I found myself crying as we learned more about Joker's childhood, but seeing him blossom with Carissa's love showed that even the most damaged of men, as long as they truly have character and inner strength, nothing can break them down.  Carissa too has had a tough couple of years, but she has come out the other side stronger and braver than ever.  She is a single mother, still dealing with the fallout of the end of her marriage, the actions of  the dickhead that left her, and the need to care for her baby above all else.  When she meets Joker, the sexy badass biker with the heart of gold, she never would have imagined the heat and passion he stirs in her heart.  I enjoyed seeing her gather her courage and stride right into Ride to force Joker to meet with her.  Seeing how she grows and changes into a woman to be reckoned with as she confronts the drama that Joker brings into her life makes her truly the type of woman I admire and want to be someday.
Overall Carson and Carissa are really the perfect couple of the real world, dealing with drama, mistakes, passion, and fights all while finding love in the world that could certainly not have imagined two such different people coming together.  Carson is sweet, gruff, deadly, gentle, and loving,  bringing so much very needed love and protection into Carissa's world and making her into the woman she was always meant to be,  the light to Carson's darkness and she brings so much happiness to his life, though she brings the drama any woman would to it as well.  When they are together, or thinking about each other, the sparks jump out at the readers, singeing and burning, but leaving them begging for more.  This series just gets more intense and enjoyable with each story that comes out and each biker that falls in love.    I am dying to see what story comes next and which biker will find his perfect match, but I can say for sure that Carson will hold a special place in my heart forever, right next to Tack and Shy.  If you haven't read this sexy series about the Chaos MC, a motorcycle club full of badasses that are truly good men, then I recommend you go back to the very beginning, and enjoy every second of this series.  Please create more Chaos Ms. Ashley so I can get my fix more often!

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

Thursday, June 11, 2015

ARC Mini-Review: Let It Ride

Let It Ride (Thompson & Sons #3)

by Vivian Arend


 He’s her rock in the midst of the storm
When Maggie Ward’s world is torn apart by sudden tragedy, the only thing that makes her days bearable is Clay Thompson’s unwavering presence. He’s protective, caring, and everything she could ask for in a friend. But when she finds herself longing for more than friendship, it will take a little seduction to convince the stubborn mechanic she’s ready to start living again.
She’s his heart, whether he knows it or not
Clay Thompson’s got the taking-care-of-others business down pat, only he’s never faced this particular challenge before—the one woman he’s always wanted is unexpectedly his to care for. Suddenly it’s not just responsibility driving him, but a wild desire to make Maggie truly his. But following his heart might mean sacrificing the family he’s held together for years.
Themes: Erotica, Contemporary
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Returning to the land of passionate cowboys and dangerous sexy mechanics, Let it Ride is the story of the head of the Thompson clan, the resident mechanics and friends of the Coleman family (stars of the Six Pack Ranch series by Arend also). If you haven't read the Six Pack Ranch series yet you will still enjoy the Thompson boys and their sister and seeing them all fall in love.  The family has been through a lot but no one has felt the sadness more than oldest boy Clay as he kept his family together through tragedy, neglect, and ultimate loss.  I have been waiting for his story a while now, but didn't realize it would bring so many tears to my eyes and make me wonder where I could find a man like him all for my own.  He and Maggie were so sweet together, but seeing them fall in love, giving Maggie a second chance at love and a continued chance to live life to the fullest, was what really made this story so great.  I cannot wait for the last story in the series, Troy's, and of course I always look forward to the continuation of the six-pack ranch series that is another favorite of mine by Vivian.
Let It Ride was one of those stories that could have gone so wrong, a story of two people coming together to celebrate life and deal with the loss of someone they both loved.  As they lean on one another in their grief, Clay and Maggie begin to realize that something more could easily come from their feelings.  Clay fought himself so much to try to keep his passion for Maggie from becoming obvious, giving her the love and support of a friend as she heals.  But Maggie isn't as willing to give up the emotions that he brings out in her.  Even though they know that others may not understand their connection, Maggie and Clay are determined not to allow anyone to come between them and when passion turns to love there is nothing that could keep them apart.  Overcoming small town gossip, their own fears, and the loss of their loved one, Clay and Maggie find the one thing we all strive to find--love-- and there is no way that I could ever deny that.  Even though I cried my eyes out for a good bit of the story, the love, laughter, and passion between Maggie and Clay was enough to fill my heart and remind me why I love this author so much.  Whatever comes next, I know I will love it and I think you will too.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

ARC Review: In the Air Tonight

In the Air Tonight (Sisters of the Craft #1)

by Lori Handeland


Four centuries ago, in a small Scottish village, three baby girls escaped the wrath of a witch hunter. Today, one young woman will learn about her secret history, her heart's destiny, and the sisters she never knew she had...
With her blue-black hair and dark eyes, Raye Larsen has never fit in with the Scandinavian community of New Bergin, Wisconsin. Being adopted is part of the reason she feels like an outsider, but what really sets Raye apart is her ability to see dead people. Everywhere.
She’s learned to keep her visions to herself . . . until she stumbles onto the ghost of a murder victim who needs Raye’s help. Enter Bobby Doucet, a distractingly handsome homicide detective who has been tracking a killer all the way from New Orleans. Could this be the break in his case he’s been looking for all along?
Meanwhile, the deeper Raye gets involved with the case—and with Bobby—the closer she comes to unlocking the mystery of her own origins. What she discovers about herself could destroy everything she knows . . . and everyone she loves. Is finding the truth worth the risk?
Themes: Magick, Demons, paranormal
Rating: 3.75  stars
Heat Rating: 
One of my favorite authors, Lori Handeland, has begun an all new trilogy full of drama, intrigue, and the beauty of discovery for three long-separated sisters.  The set-up is an interesting one, with three sister-witches being sent 400 years into the future by their dying parents, also witches of course, to try to save them from the hunters that have set out to destroy their family.  Each of the sisters has grown up in a different area of the 21st century, unknowing of their powers it seems, but never fully fitting into their lives.  The first story revolves around the dark beauty, Raye, as she finds herself the center of a witch hunt and is confronted with the truth of her ancestry, the facts of her strange powers, and a man that could forever change her life.  I love Handeland’s NightCreature series and this trilogy is looking to be a success as well.  The only issue I had was with the way writing was actually done because personally I am not a big fan of romance novels written in first person, but with the over POVs and the skill of writing, Lori pulls it off and left me with a happy read and anticipation for the next two stories.  And I can tell any of her longtime fans, that we get some cameos from previous characters in her NightCreature series as well, which was AWESOME.
Raye is a haunted woman, literally and figuratively.  She has always had the strange ability to see the ghosts that surround us on a daily basis and has long come to understand that her little skill sets her apart from all others.   When a woman is brutally murdered in the her small, sleepy town, the woman’s ghost leads to more questions than answers for Raye, and ultimately brings her face to face with the disarmingly gorgeous detective that arrives in town to investigate the death.  Bobby has traveled a long way in hopes that the woman’s death provides him some insight to a string of murders he has investigated in New Orleans and the first person he meets is the enigmatic and dangerously sexy Raye, as she flees from a knife-wielding madman.  As they find themselves thrown together again and again by the killer and Bobby’s desire to keep Raye safe, their passion for one another becomes something neither can resist and leads to some interesting discoveries.  The question is can a man so against believing in anything supernatural handle being in love with a witch that sees the souls of the departed, including someone very special from his own past?
Raye was a very interesting character, a woman with no idea the true depths of her powers or real understanding of her heritage.  A foundling discovered abandoned on the side of the round as an infant, Raye has never felt connected to her family or the people in her small town.  Her strength comes from understanding and accepting that she’ll never fit in and she needs to be happy with who and what she is, even if at times her powers scare her or make her feel isolated.  I felt so bad for her as she tried to get Bobby to accept the truth of her skills and accept her for the woman she is, even though he is afraid of the past that haunts him.  I loved seeing her come into her own, once she understands the full scope of her abilities and learns to better control them.  I can see her becoming a strong force for good in the coming novels and see her finding herself even more as she reunites with her missing sisters.  Bobby on the other hand was an enigma; a man who has spent the majority of his adult life in New Orleans, the most paranormal packed and haunted city in the states, is firmly on the side of disbelief.  He is determined to resist believing in anything supernatural even if the facts are right in front of his face, and ultimately that will bring pain to Raye, whose entire existence is shrouded by the supernatural.  It was interesting to see him in action, fighting the bad guys, and he is obviously a strong and loving man, but his closed mind and refusal to discuss his past keeps a wall between him and Raye for a very long time, even going so far as to deny his feelings for her in his unwillingness to accept the truth.  I really came to love Bobby when he decided that maybe Raye was telling the truth and she is worth the fears and work it will take for him to overcome his suspicion.
Overall I found this story to be extremely interesting, especially the way Raye’s birth parents are worked into the story, because really what could be cooler.  There was of course a lot of set-up for the world in this story, but I found lots of reason to laugh, cry, and lust, and of course the HEA was one that I cannot wait to touch on more in the coming novels.  I am unsure how the sisters will finally be reunited, but I suspect it will be a gradual process, one that will take some buildup to get them all back together.  Raye was a wonderful character with lots of wit, sweetness, and sarcasm, to make her into a well-rounded woman that will be a great future addition.   Bobby was the kind of guy that just needed a swift kick in the butt to force him to see the things around him that he’s always felt but ultimately denied.  The love between Raye and Bobby was slow to build, but will obviously be lasting and true.  I imagine their partnership will become a crucial stepping stone in the future novels as Raye meets her sisters and they work to stay alive and protect themselves from a returning danger.  Another great series with all the things I’ve always loved about Lori’s writing, wit, sarcasm, twisty plots, and characters that make you laugh and cry.  Bring on the witches, Lori! 
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Review: Freed

Freed (Club Sin #4)

by Stacey Kennedy


Mary Schmidt knows only too well how thrilling a Master’s touch can be. Her husband, Charles, had been her ultimate fantasy, a seducer in the erotic dance of dominance and submission. She misses the sensual lifestyle they shared, but mourns him so deeply she cannot bear to embrace her submissive needs with another Dom—until a man who exudes temptation reawakens desires she can no longer deny.
Elliott Foster is dazzled by Mary. He instantly knows that she’s the woman he’s been waiting for—a woman who turns games into need. As her Master, he dares to unlock the deepest pleasures of her flesh, releasing her from pain and healing her mind. When Mary’s lithe body comes to life under his, he knows their connection goes beyond sex. Now that he has found the perfect woman, the perfect partner, the perfect submissive, he desires only to give her everything she craves.
Themes: Erotica, BDSM
Rating: 5 stars
Heat Rating:
Damn that was a story that truly had me crying almost the entire time.  I knew going into the story that the couple weren’t first loves, beginning their adventures as lovers and partners, but I never imagined getting to live through two entirely different, but oddly the same love stories, with one woman at the heart of each, getting a chance to have love again after her first great love disappears.  I have enjoyed the previous novels in this series mainly, because they were intense, sensual, and immensely entertaining as each couple found their feet with one another and learned the joys of their new relationship and the ways they will love in their alternative and somewhat difficult lifestyle choice.  But this story goes so far above and beyond the usual passion and new love that I couldn’t give it anything less than a 5 star review.   While some may not understand the true depths of love that couple in a D/s relationship experience, this novel shows perfectly that love and the ways that a woman copes with the loss of not only the love of her life, the father of her children, but also the man that has commanded her heart and soul for over 20 years.  There is a lot of loss and sadness in this story, but also the beauty of a woman finding herself again and finding a way to open her heart to a new man and a new opportunity to fulfill her deep need for submission.  The book takes the Club Sin series from just a sexy erotic thrill ride into the deeply emotional and often traumatic truths of love and death.  I cannot wait to read the next book and see if that level of intensity remains in the series, even without the themes of death and reinvention.  And of course I cannot wait for the return of the club members that make life interesting, mainly Kenzie’s smart mouth.
Mary has been dealing with the loss of her husband and longtime Dominant for 5 years now and has never again felt the spark she had with him, until one night she comes face to face with a dominant that stirs all her submissive desires and her heart and soul as well.  The problem is her feelings are all too familiar but she’s not felt them since her husband, and being around Elliott brings back all those memories, and pains, right along with her intense desire to reconnect.  Elliott is unprepared for Mary’s pull, but when he feels the connection he has waited his entire adult life for, there is no way he will pass up on a chance to experience her, even if her reluctance confuses him.  As they play together, Mary tries her damnedest to keep Elliott at arm’s length, but there is no way he will stand for that, not with the way she makes him feel?  No matter what he does though, Mary’s fears and guilt keep her from wanting to truly embrace a relationship, so Elliott has his work cut out for him bringing her around to his way of thinking.  Only if she finds a way to get past her husband’s death and understand that she in fact didn’t die with him will allow her to look to the future, and possibly give Elliott a chance to win her heart and soul. 
Freed was such a great story, mainly because Mary and Elliott were such great characters, human in every sense of the word, full of flaws and insecurities.  Mary has a lot to work through, and I loved seeing her reminiscing about moments with her husband, whether they were the hot and steamy moments that Elliot brought to her mind, or the horribly sad moments as she relives his final days.  She is obviously a strong woman, once full of confidence, and a rock for her family, but since her husband’s illness and ultimate death she has lost a very important piece of herself, one that she needs to regain if she has any chance at every being a whole woman again.  I cried so much as she dealt with her issues, but it was a cathartic cry and reminded me, as well, that some things cannot be changed in life, but overcoming and focusing on the future happiness that can be found are the only way to get through life.  Elliot too was a wonderful character, with his own issues, and certainly the kind of man that was made to offer Mary her next adventure in life.  Seeing how much he came to love and need Mary, even though he is the Dom in the relationship reminds us all that even in these types of relationships there is truly a give and take in any relationship based truly on love.  His strength and determination to help heal Mary, even as he tries to make her his, and of course his willingness to place the ball in her court again and again, show that he is willing to do just about anything to keep her, even force her to see the damage she is doing to him, her family, and mostly herself. While the story was very intense, sensually and emotionally, the ending and the healing that came from the story left me feeling just as freed as Mary, making the title truly apropos.  Honestly I hope to be as strong of a woman as Marry ultimately proved herself to be when I hit that age... and hopefully I have my very own Elliot in my life at that time.  5 Stars, 5 Flames and 5 Tears all the way.  Can we say MOVIE please, because this to me is one of the great D/s stories that really needs to be shared with a wider audience! I’ll certainly be shouting it’s awesomeness from the rooftops and sharing with every erotic fan I know. 
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

ARC Review: Bare for You

Bare for You (Outback Skies #3)

Not all cowboys ride horses.
Jeremy Craig is on the cusp of being named the deputy prime minister of Australia. Which means he’s got to play his cards right and stay deep in the closet. Australia is a lot of things, but there’s no way the country is ready for a gay prime minister. So far, it’s been an easy ruse to maintain. Until he meets Ryan Taylor. Then all bets are off.
Ryan is sick of the Brokeback Mountain jokes. For starters, he’s an Australian stockman, not an American cowboy. For another, he spends most of his working days alone in a helicopter, not on the back of a horse. As Wallaby Ridge’s only contract heli-musterer, he gets to escape any small-town scorn high in the sky. He’s happy up there. Lonely, but happy. Who needs passion and wild sexual pleasure in their life when they have the boundless skies of the Outback, right?
Then Jeremy Craig climbs into his chopper…
Warning: This book may change your opinion of politicians. It also contains scorching, no-holds-barred passion between two alpha men, one with a Ryan Gosling fetish and the other with a secret deeper than the ocean. Yes, it’s that complicated.
Themes: erotica, LGTB, Aussie
Rating: 5 stars
Heat Rating: 5
Returning to the harsh, but sexily rugged outback, Couper brings us the long awaited story of a sexy heli-musterer, who just happens to be gay and the man that has captured his heart.  While the other stories in this series haven't revolved around same-sex couples, Ryan's story was a necessity as far as I’m concerned and I was so happy to get a chance to read it early.  The story itself isn't very long, but even in so short a read there was so much passion, emotion, and awesomeness that you feel like you've read a huge story.  Couper's ability to bring couples together, overcoming personal, societal and emotional obstacles, while making the sensuality and heat between them palpable to readers is a true skill, one that I will never take for granted in a truly great author.  If you are looking for a short, but sexy read to fill an evening, and aren't afraid to venture outside of the standard comfort zone to read a same-sex love story, Bare for You will be all you need.

Ryan is the odd man out, the man that is often the butts of jokes, because he is one of the few openly gay men in the outback and the small town that he lives in.  He longs for a mate, a man to claim for his own, but has yet to find someone to fill his heart as well as his lust.   His dream man doesn't seem to exist, until he sets eyes on politician Jeremy, a sexy and apparently deeply in the closet gay man that has come into Ryan's life to drive him crazy.  Jeremy has hidden the truth of his sexuality his entire life in order to reach his professional dreams of becoming the Australian PM, but when he sets eyes on Ryan he is ready to throw his entire career to the winds to have a chance to claim the man that has captured his soul.  But can they both really overcome all their fears to have a life together, or will they have to give up the love that has blown up their worlds?

Bare for You, while short and sexy, touched on a lot of important points of our current societal reality, including bigotry, sexuality, and sacrifice.  Ryan is the type of guy that I always wanted for myself, rugged but educated, sensual but sweet, alpha but compassionate.  He really is the perfect dichotomy and serves as every woman's (or gay man's) dream man, but he has had a very hard time finding happiness in his love life.  Jeremy has kept the secret of his sexuality from everyone for his entire life, but when faced with the man of his dreams, a man that pulls him in no matter how hard Jeremy tries to resist him, he knows that Ryan is worth the risk.  I was thrilled that they were both able to have what they wanted and needed in the end and found a way to have a life together.  Love is love, no matter the way it manifests itself, straight, gay, poly, or whatever other combo pulls your heart, if it’s really love, there is no ending.  Cannot wait to get Charlie's story, soon I hope, but anything that Couper writes will definitely land on my shelves.

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