Reader’s Edyn

I always felt like I could do something more than just read. Finally, I have found both a creative outlet and a chance to do something meaningful with my reading. This blog was created in appreciation of and tribute to all of the authors who have brought me joy through their books. These reviews are my way of giving back to authors and providing recognition for the hard work that each one completes every day!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review: Deadly Obsession by Katie Reus

Title: Deadly Obsession
Author: Katie Reus
Release Date: August 15, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press
Category: Contemporary Romance/Suspense
Type: Kindle/Audio

Book Blurb:

The chilling words of a killer: This is just the beginning…
Ten years ago, Lilly Carmichael left town without an explanation, breaking Braden Donnelly's heart. The death of her aunt has brought Lilly home—and face-to-face with memories she thought were long buried. Still getting over a traumatic incident from her work as an NSA agent, Lilly initially dismisses the face at her window as a figment of stress-induced paranoia.

Now the sheriff of Hudson Bay, Braden has spent the past year hunting a sadistic murderer. His investigation is turned upside down when new evidence indicates that Lilly is the killer's next target. Determined to protect the woman he's never stopped loving, Braden must race against the clock to trap a dangerous psychopath—before it's too late…

Book Excerpt:

       He rubbed his gloved hand over his crotch as that familiar urgency hummed through him. It happened whenever he thought of her. Lately, it seemed that was much too often. Crouching behind a cluster of bushes, he breathed out a sigh of relief when he saw the woman's kitchen light finally turn off. The icy wind whipping up over the ocean bit through his coat with no mercy, but tonight was the night he'd been waiting for.

        The old lady's boyfriend didn't come over on Thursdays and this might be his only chance. After so many years of waiting, everything was finally falling into place. Stupid woman rarely ever set her house alarm and he knew tonight would be no different.

        He propped his bat against the side of the house and slid the key into the back door. The sound of the door opening and closing wasn't audible above the crashing of the waves nearby.

        Overhead, he could hear water running. No doubt the old woman was getting ready for bed. Smiling, he took off his jacket and draped it across the kitchen table. Taking his time, he crossed the tile floor and walked up the stairs. The carpet runner muted his movements.

        Soon, he'd see horror etched on her wrinkly face. Right before he struck her, she'd scream. Maybe beg for her life. If he let her live that long.

        No. He inwardly cursed himself. This had to be clean. Look like an accident. Killing this b**ch was the only way to ensure he got what he wanted. That she would return to Hudson Bay. And he wanted her guard down when she got here. At least at first. Then the game playing would begin.

        The floor creaked underneath him as he reached the top stair. As he did, the old woman's door opened and light flooded the hallway. Moving quickly, he ducked into the closest guestroom.

        His heart pounded wildly against his ribcage as her footsteps moved closer, but his hands were steady. This was it. Gripping the bat tighter in his hands, he readied himself. If he f**ked this up, he might not get another chance.

Favorite Scene:

       As soon as they made contact, he heard the sound of her seatbelt unsnapping, then her arms looped around his neck.

       With a low groan, he grabbed her hips and pulled her across his lap so that she was straddling him. Her familiar scent enveloped him as she grinded against him. He knew he should stop. They were acting like randy teenagers – in the middle of a parking lot no less – but when he slid his hand up under her sweater and touched her skin, all coherent thought fled. In the back of his mind he knew he’d pay for this later. Late at night when she’d gone back to D.C. and he had to live without her once again, but he couldn’t stop himself now if someone held a gun to his head.

       With his free hand, he tugged at her scarf so he could get better access to all of her. Their lips and tongues danced in a hungry frenzy as their bodies pressed against each other. Once he’d freed her scarf, he started a trail of kisses down her jaw until he reached her earlobe.

       She’d always been sensitive there. Things still hadn’t changed. When he tugged on the tender flesh, she nearly vaulted out of his lap.

And that was the only sign he needed.


So the book excerpt? That is the first chapter people! Can anyone say Holy! Crap! On! A! Cracker! I was blown away by the intensity of the story right off the first page, like WOAH! So here’s the million dollar question. Ready? Are you sure? Okay then. How is it that a book can have me so completely twisted in both a good way and a bad way? Get ready cause I fear I will end up sounding crazy and contradicting myself all over the place! Ultimately I was so enthralled and frustrated at the same time!

Lilly and Braden used to date many moons ago. Apparently they were very much in love and just about as nauseating as a “perfect couple” can get. But Lilly bolts straight out of college and Braden is left reeling from being left alone so suddenly and unexpectedly. It is now ten years later and Lilly has come back to town to deal with arrangement necessary following her Aunt’s death. Simultaneously, Braden is dealing with a string of murders that seem to have only one correlation: him. Not good considering he’s the Sheriff of the town and all. Beyond the stench of death that is following Braden is the undeniable attraction between him and Lilly. Desire may have cooled over the last ten years, but has no problem boiling oven in any time flat once the two connect again.

Lilly has been pretty active in her time away from her hometown. Working undercover for a government agency, having a background in criminology, even suffering from PTSD after enduring a horrific event. Not surprising that Lilly becomes somewhat of an asset to Braden during the multiple homicide investigations.

I do have a few issues with the story though. First, Lilly’s credentials seem a bit over the top. I could buy into a lot of it, but not to the extent that she is knowledgeable in. Also, I do not know what all of the abbreviations stand for. L Second, she’s a moron for not trusting Braden and bringing her issues to him in the first place. I’m talking the reason she left town people. Well, come to think of it, she doesn’t exactly tell him everything when she gets home either. Not like I can give you the details. But dang, remaining tight-lipped over something the love of your life could have helped you with? Just seems like a bit of an overreaction to pick up and leave. Also, when the killer is revealed: a) He gets off a bit to easily for all of the horrors that he inflicted and b) Braden doesn’t seem to react to the…errrr…conclusion of the murders normally. Like it doesn’t really affect him. Seems odd.

Basically I wanted to hit my head against the wall. I enjoyed the story so much, but the questions I had were nagging at me the whole time. I understand that a lot of events had to play out the way that they did for the story to work. And I did not foresee the identity of the murderer until the reveal which is a huge plus for me. But again, more questions such as his “survival”, which I can’t discuss without ruining the story for everyone. Those of you that are sticklers for certain types of detail will likely grumble about a few things as I did through the read. However *whispers* “Here comes the contradiction” – I was still enthralled with this story and very much enjoyed it. *head desk* I know. I sound like a crazy now.

I will try to make it easy – I’ll plant my booty on the fence. Exciting and suspenseful yet thoroughly frustrating. So I shall do this … I am adding another of Katie’s books to my “to-read” list. I need to read more of her work so that I can form a coherent opinion and clear this paradox within my mind. I shall return with another Katie Reus review. In the meantime, should any of you read this book, or another of hers, please post your thoughts. I’d love to her them!

(Kindle copy won on blog contest hosted by Cynthia Eden/Katie Reus)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Review: The Princess and the Penis by RJ Silver

Title: The Princess and the Penis
Author: R J Silver
Release Date: December 2010
Publisher: Smashwords
Category: Literature/Fiction/Humor/Romance
Type: Kindle

Book Blurb:

A beautiful, chaste, and completely naive princess encounters a strange lump in her mattress. The lump soon morphs into a shape familiar to everyone but her, triggering her curiosity and her father's greatest fears. He frantically tries to intervene, but having a large phantom phallus in a curious maiden's bed is never a good combination.

Book Excerpt:

Amalia’s father, King Norwood, loved her so much, he wanted to protect her from all life’s dangers. To keep her safe from the greatest danger of all – men – he surrounded her with three chaste companions and a special troop of guards sworn to defend her virtue. He forbade all single males over the age of twelve from approaching her. He blocked all love songs from reaching her ears, all romantic stories from passing before her eyes, and even made it a crime to discuss such matters with her.

In short, he wanted to keep her as pure as fresh snow, as innocent as a fawn, until her beauty, kindness, and purity attracted a crown prince from one of the big kingdoms. He hoped such a union would not only make her happy, but would also help his small, impoverished kingdom of Westwich survive.

By the time Amalia turned eighteen, the king’s plan seemed to have worked. Eleven princes had asked for her hand in marriage on reputation alone. The king had rejected all but one: Prince Rupert from the mighty kingdom of Arginy, who was now on his way to meet her. Everything was going perfectly – Amalia’s gilded cage had not a single scratch – until one morning she arrived for breakfast in the Great Hall, rubbing her eyes and yawning.

Favorite Scene:

“It probably wants what every other penis wants,” said the queen.

“Which is to violate you,” said Aunt Ingrid. “To pillage and ravage your young body from dusk til dawn until there’s nothing left of your honor, virtue, or, if you happen to let your hair down, your dignity.”

“That’s why we’re telling you this,” said the queen. “Despite what you said this morning about it not being evil, the penis in your bed is obviously not of this world.”

“Seeing as it’s only a penis,” said Aunt Ingrid.

“With no man attached to it,” said Aunt Leila.

“Which frankly doesn’t sound that bad,” said Aunt Ingrid. “Might even be a huge market for that sort of thing.”


So I first saw this book … looked at the title … read said title again … looked at the cover art … and decided that this was probably an odd choice for me. However, a friend had tweeted that it could be downloaded for FREE at the time. We all know that FREE downloads are irresistible no matter how many books we have collecting dust in our Kindles (figuratively speaking of course) so I clicked, purchased, and promptly forgot about the story sitting in my e-reader. *head desk* I should have read it sooner!

Luckily an author and blogger I respect hosted an appearance by RJ Silver a couple of days ago. *waves* Thanks Joan! Silver supplied a code to allow readers to download the book for FREE when I was struck with an odd sense of déjà vu. Turns out I had already downloaded both of the books, but had forgotten about them. *Bad reading obsessed blogger!* So I am here today to tell you NOT to repeat my mistake! Download and read = GOOD! Download and forget = BAD! You all following still? Great!

So The Princess and the Penis is fun, quirky, crafty, hilarious, and even spreads an underlying message from within. A bit of a twisted version of The Princess and the Pea meets The Princess and the Frog. I am a sucker for puns and Silver did a wonderful job of pulling out some stellar double entendres. Many of the taboos of sex are hinted to with snarky humor provided by the two Aunts. One thing I appreciated was that the story is written in a non-offensive manner despite the subject matter. But beyond all of the gleeful dialogue and innuendos is the message to help others. Plainly obvious was the comparison between princes: one who had it all while plundering his subjects, despite their hardships, only to maintain his lifestyle of extravagance – the other imprisoned by another’s jealousy because he was both fortunate and blessed with compassion for others.

Those with delicate sensibilities may not appreciate the beauty of the snark within the story. But humor aside, Silver has a positive message to spread and does so in a creative and entertaining way without cramming anything down the reader’s throat. That alone deserves attention. The book is inexpensive and supports a good cause. Download it and read it, or buy it and gift it to a snarky friend who appreciates such witty absurdity. You are guaranteed a laugh if nothing else. And of you don’t laugh; well … I just don’t see how that would be possible. To find out more about RJ Silver, do what I did. Stop by Joan Swan’s blog and support them both! And above all, enjoy the story!

(Kindle book downloaded from Smashwords)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: Enticed by His Forgotten Lover (Pregnancy & Passion #1) by Maya Banks

Title: Enticed by His Forgotten Lover
            (Pregnancy & Passion #1)
Author: Maya Banks
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin
Category: Contemporary Romance/Series
Type: Kindle/Paperback

Book Blurb:

"Have we met?"

Answer: a right hook! Because Bryony Morgan pulls no punches. Even when she's very pregnant and facing down the father of her unborn child. She fell for wealthy hotelier Rafael de Luca when he courted her for her beachfront real estate. Then he disappeared. Now, she's in New York for answers—and she won't accept a brush–off.

But selective amnesia after a crash has Rafael puzzled. How could he ever forget a combustible beauty like Bryony? Solution: return to the island where they met, and relive the unforgettable nights in question—until he remembers everything…

Book Excerpt:

The woman didn’t pretend to be coy. She stared straight at him and as he approached, her chin thrust upward in a gesture of defiance that intrigued him.

For a moment he stood in front of her, studying the delicate lines of her face and wondering if in fact this was their first meeting. Surely he would have remembered.

“Excuse me, but have we met?” he asked in his smoothest voice, one that he knew to be particularly effective on women.

Likely she’d titter and then deny such a meeting. Or she’d blatantly lie and try to convince him that they’d spent a wonderful night in bed. Which he knew couldn’t be true, because she wasn’t his type.

His gaze settled over the generous swell of her breasts pushed up by the empire waist of her black cocktail dress. The rest of the dress fell in a swirl to her knees and twitched with sudden impatience.

She did none of the things he’d supposed. When he glanced back up at her face, he saw fury reflected in the dark pools of her eyes.

 Met? Have we met?” Her voice was barely above a whisper, but he felt each word like the crack of a whip. “You sorry bastard!”

Before he could process the shock of her outburst she nailed him with a right hook. He stumbled back, holding his nose.

“Son of a—”

Before he could demand to know if she’d lost her damn mind, one of his guards stepped between him and the woman, and in the confusion accidentally sent her reeling backward. She stumbled and went down on one knee, her hand automatically flying to the folds of her dress.

It was then, as she cupped her belly, that the realization hit him. The folds had hidden the gentle curve of her body. Had hidden her pregnancy and the evidence of a child.

His guard went to roughly haul her to her feet. “No!” Rafael roared. “She’s pregnant. Do not hurt her!”

His guard stepped back, his startled gaze going to Rafael. The woman wasted no time scrambling to her feet. Her eyes flashing, she turned and ran down the marble hallway, her heels tapping a loud staccato as she fled.

Favorite Dialogue:

“I want to make love to you, Bryony, but I want it to be for the right reasons. I want you to know I want you for the right reasons. Right now I couldn’t care less about the past or that I do or don’t remember. What I know is that right here, right now, I want to touch you and kiss you more than I want anything else.”

As gracefully as she could manage when her hands and legs were shaking, she got off his lap to stand before him. Then she reached down for his hand and slid her fingers through his.

“I want you, too,” she said simply. “I’ve missed you so much, Rafe.”

He rose unsteadily, his eyes dark and vibrant with desire. His usually calm composure seemed shaken and he raised a trembling hand to her cheek.

“Be sure of this, Bryony. Whatever happens today, whatever has happened in the past, what I remember or don’t remember – it’s not going to matter if you give yourself to me again. Now. If we do this now, we’re starting over. New page. Fresh beginning.”

She rubbed her cheek over his hand and closed her eyes. ”I’d like that. No past. Just today. Here and now. You and me.”


You’d think after the above dialogue everything would be hunky-dory between Rafe and Bryony, right? Not quite. Just when you think things may be on the brink of resolution, Banks yanks the HEA rug out from under the reader’s … err … eyes. This HEA is not wrapped up pretty with a bow. Rafe and Bryony have only two options: work for a happy ending, or give up the possibility altogether and move on.

Enticed by His Forgotten Lover is the first Maya Banks book I have read. I was unsure what to expect, having read many mixed reviews surrounding her different works. I began reading with a bit of caution, but soon found that there was no need. This book was pleasant and enjoyable despite the difficulty in reaching the HEA. Hey, difficult HEAs are not always a bad thing. This book is the first in the Pregnancy & Passion series and although a pregnancy is a key factor in the story, Banks was able to construct a story that did not revolve entirely around the baby. I am all for the baby/family angle, but there is such a thing as overkill. I never felt like Banks took the pregnancy angle too far.

Rafael is a helluva piece of work. Not only does Bryony face constantly conflicting emotions where Rafe is concerned, the reader also journey’s through a love/hate relationship with Rafe. Do we like him, is he just a victim, is he the ass that he is reputed to be, does he really want a future with Bryony, does he have an alternate motivation, what is his deal? These are the types of questions I was asking myself throughout the whole story. Bryony, on the other hand, may be just a bit too trusting. She finds herself between a rock and a hard place: wanting to trust Rafe, but wary of past hurts he has inflicted. I felt that both characters behaved in a believable manner and found myself relating to many of Bryony’s dreams and responses.

Overall, Enticed by His Forgotten Lover was an enjoyable quick read. Those of you who prefer to have the HEA handed to you on a platter may become frustrated with this book, but I still say it is worth the read. Some may dislike the amnesia aspect, and others may avoid baby angles to stories. However, I feel like Banks did a great job with all components tied together. I am fairly confident that many will find this book enjoyable even with a few possible red flags based on preference. The bottom line is that romance needs conflict to work and this book has plenty.

(book won on Twitter contest hosted by author.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Review: Enemy Lover by Karin Harlow

Title: Enemy Lover
Author: Karin Harlow
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Publisher: Pocket Star
Category: Paranormal/Romance/Suspense
Type: Kindle/Paperback
Click Here To Buy Now!

Book Blurb:

It’s Jax Cassidy’s first mission for L.O.S.T.—one that will give the former cop who went rogue a chance to prove herself. Her assignment: gain the trust of assassin Marcus Cross . . . eliminate him . . . then take down Marcus’s mentor, Joseph Lazarus, a man with a bold eye on the White House. But the woman who’s known by her team for being a femme fatale succumbs to passion, only to discover Cross’s deadly secret. He’s a vampire, and Joseph Lazarus is his creator.

Left for dead by his platoon in the violent hills of Afghanistan, special ops sniper Marcus Cross was given a second chance at life. His newly heightened skills make him the perfect killing machine, and as Lazarus's right hand man, he’s quickly rising to the top of his dark empire, purging enemies with speed and precision. Only when dangerous beauty Jax Cassidy is sent to bring him in does he begin to question Lazarus’s motives and his own actions. But when Jax’s life is threatened by the one thing that can destroy them both, Marcus must make a bitter choice—her death or his.

(Okay with a name like Lazarus and a description of “second chance at life”, what do y’all think Marcus is? You don’t have to reach far, I promise.)

Book Excerpt:

“Come at me again, I’m going to hurt you,” he growled low.

Collecting herself and her thoughts, Jax considered her current tactics. They weren’t working. She was strong. He was stronger. She eyed him covertly from beneath her long dark lashes. Power radiated off him in waves. He reminded her of a big, sleek, predatory panther. From his stylishly cut, jet-black hair, his arresting, predatory face, and full mocking lips, to his impeccable black suit and the way it hung effortlessly from his big muscular body, down to his custom black leather Italian shoes, she didn’t miss a thing. Most especially the harsh glint of his unusual blue eyes.

She nodded, mentally shifting gears, then pushed off the wall.

In total op mode, Jax slowly stalked her nemesis. She smiled slightly. His eyes burned with anger, but he couldn’t hide the heat flickering behind them. She shook her head and was rewarded with his gaze raking her from her naturally thick, mahogany-colored hair, to her fitted black turtleneck to her short black leather skirt down to the tips of her black, thigh-high stiletto jackboots that clicked on the hardwood floor.

She stopped two steps from him, planted her feet wide, and set her hands on her hips. “What if I like it to hurt?”

Favorite Dialogue:

“Tell me, damn it!” he hissed against her ear. “Or I’ll force it from you!”

She shook her head.

“I’ll make you wish you were never born.”

“Do your worst then.”

Marcus counted slowly to ten. As he did, his passion waged war with his control. If she didn’t relent, he’d be forced to show her the true animal he was. Roughly, he picked her up and tossed her onto the bed. She landed spread-eagled on the comforter. Stunned, she stared at him.

He crawled over her and threatened her. “I’m not going to give you a second chance!”

“I don’t want one!” she screamed.

He laughed harshly and shook his head. “Ten, my lovely, I won’t give you one.”

He dug his fingers into her tick hair and brought her lips up to his. “Kiss me,” he commanded. Her short, warm breaths pulsated against his lips. He could smell her fury mingled with her desire. He was on the verge of losing what little control he still possessed.

She stunned him when she grasped his head to her, and in a mad rush, lips against lips, teeth against teeth, and tongue against tongue, she kissed him.


I just e-mailed an acquaintance that had asked me to let her know what I thought about Enemy Lover because it was my first Karin Harlow book. Ironically, the e-mail served well in helping me collect my thoughts about the book. *whispers* Acquaintance, you know who you are so if some of the comments in this review seem familiar, take care – you inadvertently aided me in creating this review. J

I really loved this book. I can honestly say that I looked forward to turning every single page, actually upset with myself at times for not reading faster. Once in a while my eyes would jump ahead a catch glimpses of what was coming up. Bad, I know, but I enjoyed it that much. There was something taking place on very nearly every page. Yes, yes, that is what generally happens in books. I am aware. But what I mean is that Harlow did not linger over any scene overmuch. She kept the story forward moving at all times with a fast-paced read that the reader has no choice but to jump into head first.

What I really appreciated was the balance within the book. As much as I hate to admit this, sometimes reading a lot of erotica-type books kind of wears a person down. I do not always want to read about attraction, passion flared, and the inevitable sexual conquest wrapped up in a pretty little love story. *GASP* Did I just say that? Yes, the steamy sex is nice, but the story does not have to revolve around the sex to be good and suck the reader in. Trust me, I’m on the lookout for the lightning that is about to strike me down!

Anyway, Harlow builds a world with various other worlds that is very easy to believe in. Government funded secret op forces that take out national threats. Yeah, I can get on board with that. There is the world as we know it and then there is Marcus’s world and Jax’s world. Each has its own rules and regulations and each perceives the other as a threat. Not to mention each is acting for the greater good. But which side is the good side is the question that has to be answered. And of course, through it all, the world as we know it hasn’t the slightest inkling that any of these organizations exist.

Also liked was the fact that I could identify with Jax. Not from the perspective of having ever suffered a crime so heinous, but understanding her reactions, motivations, and drive to continue on after the nightmare she experienced. When the heroine is tough and strong, she has to embrace characteristics much like Jax to be believable. I think that a lot of us in our daily lives operate similarly to Jax. Definitely not on her level, but in the following way: She may not have been perfect, but she did the best she could with what she had with the best intentions - a feat I think many of us try to emulate within various aspects of our lives. Bottom line, I thoroughly enjoyed Enemy Lover and my time spent with the L.O.S.T. I can’t wait to continue the journey with Enemy Mine, Karin’s latest L.O.S.T. installment. You can also find Karin writing as Karin Tabke.

(paperback won in contest online courtesy Pocket After Dark)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

ARC Review: The Naughty List

Title: The Naughty List
Author: Jodi Redford
Release Date: November 29, 2011     COMING SOON!
Publisher: Samhain
Category: Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance/Menage/Erotica
Type: Kindle
Click Here To Buy Now!  PRE-ORDER NOW!

Book Blurb:

Makin’ a list, and rocking it…twice. 

Perpetual good girl Lacey McGuire has two Christmas wish lists. One suitable for public consumption…and a private one that’s too hot to handle. Right at the top: wild, wicked fantasies about her best buddies and business partners Ryan Hollister and Bram Colton.

Besides the fact they’re both poster boys for Hunks ’R’ Us, they’ve been there for her through thick, thin and the heartbreak of a cheating fiancé. So what if her boys will never know they star in her sexiest daydreams? In her fantasy world, her heart will never get trampled again.

Ry and Bram are pretty sure Lacey never meant to email a list of some of her raunchiest wants. Particularly the one that tightens their shorts—she wants a threesome. With them. Although they’ve loved her for years, they made a pact to keep Lacey off limits in order to protect their friendship. Now all bets are off. And the quest to give her all she wants—and more—is on.

Warning: This book contains a wickedly hot M/F/M ménage that will heat up the holidays. Friends steaming things up in a hot tub. Bondage and blindfolds. Sexy shenanigans at a Christmas tree lot. And maybe even a glimpse of Santa…in a Speedo.

Book Excerpt:

“Hey, Lace. What do you think? Better angle?”

Bram’s deep baritone managed to snag her focus from the data she’d been inputting into the electronic spreadsheet. Rather than a pair of firm butts, she was met with the equally tempting visual of broad, muscular chests—one covered with a sporty navy blue Henley and the other by a hunter green flannel shirt. Both men wore jeans today, making it all too easy to notice the intriguing bulges behind their flies. Not the angle Bram had been referring to, though it was definitely fantastic.

Cheeks flushing, she lifted her scrutiny to the velvet painting of Elvis that Ry and Bram had thoughtfully positioned on the adjacent wall of her office. The tacky thing was her consolation prize for chickening out on their dare to sing “Like a Virgin” on karaoke night while dolled up in the accompanying Madonna getup. Like there’d been any chance in hell of that happening.
Which meant she was stuck with Elvis. For life. Or until the damn painting perished courtesy of a mysterious accident. She transferred her gaze to Bram’s and Ry’s smug grins and ground her teeth. “You do realize I have two voodoo dolls in my drawer that bear striking resemblances to you both, right?”

Bram snickered. “Doubt there’s space left for more pins.”

“Trust me, I’ll make room.”

His hearty laugh holding no trace of repentance, Bram ducked around Ry and opened the door to her office. Boisterous noise from the bar rushed inside the small room before Bram exited and snicked the door shut, sealing off the cacophony. Ry continued fussing with the Elvis painting, obviously wanting to make sure she had the best possible view from her desk.


Despite her annoyance, her gaze lingered a tad longer than necessary on the broad expanse of his back. Although it was now covered with flannel, she’d seen it plenty of times gloriously bare. There’d been that summer three years ago, when he and Bram had worked the entire month of August at her house, installing her new deck. They’d saved her a small fortune by eliminating the need to hire a contractor, but her sanity and libido had barely survived the constant sight of Ry and Bram right outside her screen door, their tanned, buff torsos glistening with sweat from the relentless heat.

Her vibrator had burned through a ton of batteries those four weeks. If she added up the cost, it probably would have been cheaper to pay a carpenter.

Ry stepped away from the picture and hooked his thumbs in the waistband of his jeans. “Well, I think that looks pretty damn groovy, baby.”

She squinted at him. “You did not just say groovy.”

“I’m trying to keep in spirit with the sixties and Elvis theme.” He rocked his pelvis in a dead-on impersonation of the King.

Her mouth went dry. Holy crap, those hips should be outlawed. Squirming in her seat, she scowled and returned her stare to the velvet painting. “That butt-ugly thing should take a cue from Elvis and leave the building.”

“Not gonna happen, sweets. And in case you were cooking up an evil plot in that pretty head of yours, Bram and I paid the artist extra to use flame-retardant fabric and paints.”

Damn. They knew her too well.

Favorite Dialogue:

“C-could we just forget this happened?”

“It’s too late for that, Lace. You can’t expect us to pretend we don’t know. To not wonder.” Ry stepped closer, his gaze drifting to her mouth. Hunger burned in his eyes.

Her heart thumped in response. She’d imagined that particular look on his face countless times, never believing she’d see it in actuality. This had to be a dream. Or another of her fantasies. That last part of his statement registered and she blinked. “W-wonder? About what?”

“You. Us.” His knuckles brushed the underside of her jaw, tipping it ever so slightly as his head descended. “This.” The husky word feathered her lips, a prelude to the lush pressure of his mouth upon hers.


Holy hotness people! If anything the warning contained in the blurb was tame. Although I probably could have done without the Santa in a speedo. *shudders* Some holiday tidings are best left unseen. Just sayin’.

The arrival of Lacey’s “naughty list” may be just the “in” that Ry and Bram have always longed for. The two realize that she never meant to sent the list, but they also know they would be fools not to make this list a reality. The lure of finally connecting with Lacey on a level that has been starved for far too long outweighs their resolve to deny their feelings any longer. And the trio discovers that this new “arrangement” is infinitely more pleasurable than their fantasies ever thought about hinting at. But will this temporary agreement to make the list a reality be enough?

Redford does a phenomenal job of creating a story that is much more than skin deep. While the story is full of creative and highly erotic sexual scenes, she also manages to bring depth to each character. Each has reasons for denying a future together as well as embracing the acknowledgment of the only chance they will ever get to make their dreams a reality. I liked that Lacey continued to fight against a possibility of a future despite the overwhelming fulfillment experienced each time she was with Ry and Bram. The friendship ultimately means more to her than the accomplishment of a fantasy. The depth of one another’s love is manifested in the power they hold of each others happiness after the boundaries of a platonic relationship are crossed. Just in time for the holidays, The Naughty List explores lust, love, sacrifice, and the difficulty experienced when confronted with whether or not to trust enough to take a chance. If you are up for hawt ménage action, spiced up with holiday flare, you’ll definitely want to pre-order a copy of The Naughty List. Its guaranteed to heat up your frigid holiday nights.

 (Kindle received from author for review)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ARC Review: A Vampire for Christmas (Anthology) by London, Hauf, Pineiro, Morgan

Title: A Vampire for Christmas (Anthology)
Author: Laurie London, Michele Hauf, Caridad
            Pineiro, and Alexis Morgan
Release Date: October 18, 2011     COMING SOON!
Publisher: HQN Books
Category: Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Type: Paperback/Kindle
Click Here To Buy Now!  PRE-ORDER NOW!

Bare with me y’all! This beauty has four stories by four talented authors about four vampires! Seriously? … For serious! How about a little vampire love for the holidays? Yes, please! Not to mention there is mirror action, mention of Angry Birds, Michael Buble, serious sway, Angels, and pie! Who wouldn’t want to read this anthology?

I have not had the opportunity to read any of these authors before. While some balk at the idea of anthologies, I embrace them. Anthologies are a great way to get a taste of multiple authors in one place. Buy one book, sample various authors, and then buy the books from the authors you enjoyed. Genius! Win! If you are looking for mushy romantic stories to accompany the holiday season, keep searching. While revolving primarily around Christmas, these stories also embrace evil, mystery, longing, passion, and sex.

Book 1:
Enchanted By Blood by Laurie London

Trace is a man haunted by his own death-bed promise to continue in the family tradition as a member of the Governing Council. He has forsaken plenty and reaped nothing, continually put off by the Council to accept him as a member. Charlotte finds herself nearly attacked after being ditched by a friend at a bar when Trace mysteriously appears to fend off her would-be attackers. She is drawn to Trace on an indescribable level. All she knows is that she can trust him on instinct alone; entertaining plenty of lustful thoughts of what they could do to each other along the way. But Trace has a secret or two. Not only is he a vampire, he’s well acquainted with Charlotte, of which she has no memory. When the two meet a second time Trace had a choice to make. Act upon his strong connection to Charlotte, or let his responsibility to his family interfere with his happiness, again.

Dialogue Highlight:

He chuckled, the sound rumbling against her lips. “My God, Char, what are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing?” She pushed him to the bed, where he fell back onto the mattress, pulling her with him.
“You are my responsibility now,” he said. “And I’m not one to take responsibilities lightly.”
“I’m glad. Neither am I. Now, take off your clothes.”


My favorite book in this anthology was Laurie London’s Enchanted by Blood, a Sweetblood Novel (more specifically 2.5). I tend to always want more in the stories I read and London delivers; no easy feat for a novella. I get it, short story, word count, but you can still have a very entertaining read in a novella if played right. Enchanted by Blood is indeed well played: brooding vamp, supportive heroine, self-inflicted misery, and hot ‘n steamy sex. Another treat within the story was the depth of character that sometimes is lacking in novellas. Trace’s internal struggle between rekindling a relationship with Charlotte and walking away from her a second time was convincing. Did I mention Angry Birds and mirrors? Needless to say, I will be obtaining copies of the rest of the Sweetblood series for my own reading pleasure.

Book 2:
Monsters Don’t Do Christmas by Michele Hauf

Daniel is a vampire, turned within the past year. He is struggling to understand a world that allows monsters such as himself to roam through the population; some killing for pleasure, others attacking to survive. Christmas is just days away and Daniel is having trouble finding anything to celebrate over. Olivia “rescues” Daniel from a fight with werewolves outside her apartment and gets a bit more than she expects with his vampire confession. Craving a healthy dose of excitement in her life, Olivia has her own ideas of just how she can get to know Daniel. But Olivia has a secret of her own – also described as a monster that rules her life. The catalyst to this relationship focuses on whether the monster is allowed free roam and control of their lives, or if Olivia and Daniel can tame the beasts in an effort to explore the possibility of entwining each other’s lives.

Dialogue Highlight:

“Come here.” She held out her arms. “You need a hug.”
He shook his head in disbelief. “It’s going to take more than a hug to get over what I’ve become.”
“I know that, but I want to help.”
“Don’t worry about me, Olivia. I’ll get this figured out.”
“I know you will. But I still want to hug you.”
Standing but an inch from his body, her eyes traced his, and he allowed the long stare, the intimate look into his soul. And what she found there was no monster, but a kind, smart and determined man who had been wronged.
“You know if I hug you,” he said, “I’ll want to touch your skin. And if I touch your skin, I’ll want to kiss it. And if I kiss it … you’ll never get your cookies delivered.”
“The cookies can wait.”


Monsters Don’t Do Christmas, was another quick and fun read. I liked that Olivia believed herself to be a monster in her own right. Consequently, both Olivia and Daniel had their own daemons to fight and come to terms with before there could be the slightest glimmer of hope for a future with the other. Personally, I had a little trouble believing that a vampire and famous pop star could have a lasting relationship; especially a vamp with zero tolerance for paparazzi – although Daniel does redeem his actions with a rather useful trick. Regardless, the story was still fun in its out-of-the-box approach to a vampire/human relationship.

Book 3:
When Herald Angels Sing by Caridad Pineiro

Damien is a vampire in the throes of self-loathing. He has been gifted with an angel in his life – twice, but both times he has lost her in death while fighting the ruthless vampire Ramirez. Damien wants only one thing, one more chance to save Angelina; one more opportunity to protect her and keep her safe at his side. Little does he know that Angelina is truly an Angel. She has been charged with saving Damien’s soul from the clutches of the devil and his lackey Ramirez. But Angelina has broken the rules of the angels; she has fallen in love with Damien. Finally granted one last chance to save Damien, Angelina swears she will not fail in her mission again. Unfortunately Ramirez is waiting for her when she returns, bent on pushing Damien into violence that will secure his place in Hell. Damien and Angelina both must learn from past mistakes if they are to have any hope of conquering evil. But will their history of failures drive them to repeat the mistakes of the past, or will they be able to trust in their love to vanquish the clutches of Hell?

Dialogue Highlight:

With a playful shake of her hand, he said, “Let us share our love this day.”
“And night,” she said with a sexy grin while a fresh blush of color swept over her cheeks.
“Still my naughty Angle, I see.”
“Forever and always,” she replied and tugged on his hand to lead him back to his bedroom.


When Fallen Angels Sing has a bit of a message to it. Well, two actually: to learn from your mistakes and trust in love to conquer all. Sounds sappy, I know. But this story is far removed from sappiness. At first I was a bit annoyed that the Angel was all perfect and glowing: in love with Damien and making a final appearance to teach him the error of his ways. My attitude changed when Angelina ended up having a bit to learn about her misplayed hands as well. Tarnished Angels are much more intriguing to read about. Well played by Pineiro who drew me back in with that interesting sequence of events. Yes, love may ultimately have the upper hand in a lot of instances, but in Damien and Angelina’s case, their actions are the final factors that decide if that love is allowed a chance to flourish. Based on the past transgressions of the hero/heroine, the story could easily have gone in either direction. Damien’s selfless response in the final pages may have been just a bit over the top, but also necessary if Angelina had any hope of completing her mission.

Book 4:
All I Want For Christmas by Alexis Morgan

Eagan is much more than he seems. A vampire/undercover cop investigating multiple disappearances of teenage boys, Eagan has taken it upon himself to haunt the suspected areas of town where the disappearances have occurred. His route through town continually passes a diner that screams warm and fuzzy. Although Eagan is somewhat repulsed by this atmosphere, he is also drawn to it, and its owner. Using the vantage point the location of the diner affords as an excuse, Eagan enters. Della has known loss, so consequently creates a surrogate family through her diner and its patrons. She glimpses Eagan before he enters from across the street and cannot get him out of her mind. Alone for a long time, the lusty stranger elicits quite a few fantastical Christmas wishes within Della’s mind. Despite Eagan’s resolve to never return to the diner, he frequently finds himself within. But for all Della considers her patrons her family, there is much she does not know about them. When she discovers the truth about Eagan and the others, will she be able to accept them, or turn her back on the “family” she has come to care for?

Dialogue Highlight:

That same feeling of being watched was back.
She closed here eyes, afraid to look, and even more afraid that she was imagining things. “Eagan, tell me that it’s you.”
His voice came from right behind her shoulder. “Are you sure you want it to be?”
Two steps backward was all if took to bump into his solid strength. “Very sure.”
He didn’t back away, but neither did he embrace her. “I can’t change what I am, Della.”
“I don’t remember asking you to.”


All I Want For Christmas, I did not care for as much. Eagan is an undercover detective, but comes off a bit stalkerish in his bid to catch glimpses of Della. Likewise, Della seems a bit nutty to be staring out in the darkness hoping to see this guy she knows next to nothing about. The one time she does, she encourages his kooky behavior by sending out hot chocolate. Really? I would have called the cops – oh wait, he is the cops. Yikes! But my real issue with this story is a personal belief: novellas do not have to end with those three little words for the reader to be happy. Simply hinting toward an HEA can be enough for the reader to feel satisfied without forcing such a confession. I felt like Eagan was left completely unpunished for his action with Della just because he says he loves her. I get it, wrap it up all quick and pretty, but if I was Della I would be wondering just exactly why I could suddenly “hear” Eagan in my thoughts and you can be sure I would have demanded answers. But these are personal preferences and readers who like to see those three little words for the HEA will likely love the story and be completely happy with it. In any case, I did really like that Della’s “family” was not what she thought. The idea that we have “others” around us at all times is a whimsical fantasy of mine. Despite my “win” attitude towards anthologies, there are a few instances when the author is not showcased with her best work. And in all fairness, I would give Morgan another shot to see what her novels are like.

(Paperback received from author Laurie London for review)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

ARC Review: Heart of Darkness by Lauren Dane

Title: Heart of Darkness (A Bound By Magick Novel)
Author: Lauren Dane
Release Date: November 1, 2011 COMING SOON!
Publisher: Berkley
Category: Paranormal Romance
Type: Paperback/Kindle
Click Here To Buy!  PRE-ORDER TODAY!

Book Blurb:

Meriel Owen, next in line to control the largest organization of witches in the country, is asked to investigate the owner of a notorious club reportedly siphoning magic from the font of the Clan. It's a direct violation of the Clan Code of Conduct, but one look at Dominic Bright and Meriel's willing to make a deal. One taste of the sexually feral outlaw witch, and she's eager to go further: he's her bond mate, a legal conduit into the world of Clan witches and their magic.

Playing by the rules isn't Dominic's style, but bonding with Meriel--night after explosive night--is. However, Meriel has unwittingly invited someone else into her world: Dominic's mother, a dangerous and poisonously influential magic addict whose lust for death and power corrupts all she touches. Now her shadow is closing in on Meriel, her Clan, and the man Meriel loves, and it's casting them all into the inescapable heart of darkness.

Book Excerpt:

“Please, have a seat,” he said as they entered and he closed his door.

“I’m Dominic Bright, I didn’t properly introduce myself out there.” He bowed slightly, remembering he had some manners.

She waved a casual hand. “I know who you are. I’m Meriel Owen. We both know who the other is. Now, care to explain why you’re drawing from our font without permission?”

Up-front, this witch. He should just get it over with. He knew it. He needed to pay his dues or whatever. But the flavor of her magick all around him made him crave more. He wanted to spar, to whet his appetite for her.

“The wards here are for the good of all. I can’t see why you’d begrudge me that tiny bit of power.” He shrugged, spreading his hands out to appear reasonable.

She exhaled, clearly annoyed. It only spurred him on.

“Begrudging.” She rolled her eyes. “Really, Mr. Bright. If we begrudged you, we’d be teenage girls.” She shrugged. “Certainly we wouldn’t be powerful enough for you to be concerned when you shoplift from our font.” When she cocked her head, her hair slid forward, red, burgundy, threads of gold glinting in the light. He wondered what it would feel like. Before he reached to find out, he busied his hands with a pen.

“You’re using our magick and you haven’t asked. Clearly the nature of this place mandates strong wards to prevent exposure. And you know our position on exposure. So while Clan Owen is certainly sympathetic to your problem, the bigger issue remains.”

Yes, he knew the prevention of exposure was paramount to their people. And yes, he tended to agree that keeping what they were on the down low was a very good thing.

“Lastly, you’re a businessman, Mr. Bright. If I had a drink here, I’d have to ask for it and offer some sort of payment for it.”

“Or be so f***ing sexy a Lycian prince buys you one.”

She smiled and he felt a corresponding tug in his groin. She shrugged and went on, “We all have our little bonuses in life. But in any case, you get my point. The font exists to be used by all witches within this clan. We don’t quibble with another witch using it. But there are rules and even an outclan witch knows to ask.”

He didn’t like asking any more than he liked rules. Damned witches and their rule obsession. Plus, he knew he’d have to give them information about himself, an in to his own magickal signature. He didn’t like anyone having knowledge about him that they could use.

Perceptive brown eyes looked into his. Reading him. Knowing. Saw through the outer façade, right into his soul. He didn’t like that she got him so well, much less the fact that he’d known her all of twenty minutes.

Favorite Dialogue:

“I got her number. She’s a f***ing amateur wearing a costume of a powerful witch. She will not get in because you are mine and that is that. She can’t best me. Not ever. I am badass, Dominic. I know most people don’t know it, but you better believe it. I will tear her apart when I find her. You can bet on that. I. Am. Not. Having. This.”

He exhaled long and hard and took her in.




“I am stupid in love with you.” He moved to her, putting his arms around her. Their magick flared and flowed into the room again. It felt good to be back in synch.


Heart of Darkness was the first Lauren Dane book I have had the pleasure of reading. This book is a paranormal romance filled with mystery, suspense, romance, and numerous magickal components. The story primarily follows witches Meriel Owen and Dominic Bright. Meriel has been groomed practically since birth to take over her mother’s position as head of the Owen clan. Dominic has been raised outside of clan affiliation and harbors a deep distrust of anything remotely smelling like an invitation to clan membership … until he meets Meriel.

The two meet up when Meriel is instructed by her mother to investigate a drain from an outside source on the clan’s power source, the font. Attraction is instant for both, but Meriel discovers that Dominic is much more than a potential fling. Ever cautious, Dominic is not exactly receptive toward Meriel’s announcement … Dominic and Meriel are bond-mates. Understanding Dominic’s difficulty, Meriel allows Dominic to adjust to her revelation without pressure.

The couple slowly progresses until another unexpected danger looms over their future. Secrets are divulged, lives are endangered and through it all, the Owen clan must take a stand against the threat. But will Dominic be able to set aside his distrust of clan affiliation to aid Meriel and her clan … a woman he has come to care for? Guess you will have to read this fascinating novel to find out. J

Dane does an outstanding job of world building with Heart of Darkness. Oftentimes the first novel (especially in a planned series) can become cluttered with information, leaving the reader in a haze of confusion. Also marvelous is the task of not only introducing characters, but including back stories that enhance the reader’s ability to get to know the secondary cast on a deeper level than merely “supporting character”. The story successfully flows from beginning to end, never letting up on the suspense, romance, and depth of character.

I really enjoyed that Meriel and Dominic’s characters have a chance to evolve past the level they begin at in their magickal confidence. Another fascinating aspect was Meriel’s growth in roles from support within the clan, to leadership. Her personality comes across initially as intelligent, resourceful, and dedicated toward work and the clan. But underneath the cool exterior of Meriel the lawyer, lurks Meriel the badass witch who will do everything within her magickal power to fiercely protect anything or anyone who belongs to her. And Dominic belongs to her. Together they are an unstoppable force. Dane well and truly sucked me into this fascinating escape into the world of the Owen clan.

Heart of Darkness is the first of the Bound By Magick Novel series. Readers are treated to a glimpse of the next installment of the series giving Simon a much needed nudge to leading role from secondary character in Heart of Darkness. I for one am looking forward to reading more about the Owen clan and learning more about the uber-sexy Lycian, Simon. Heart of Darkness releases on November 1, but can be pre-ordered now by clicking the link at the top.

(ARC Book received from a Goodreads Giveaway)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Review: The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund

Title: The Doctor’s Lady
Author: Jody Hedlund
Release Date: September 1, 2011
Publisher: Bethany House
Category: Christian/Historical Romance/Fiction
Type: Paperback/Hardcover/Kindle

Book Blurb:

Priscilla White knows she'll never be a wife or mother and feels God's call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.

Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God's leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

Book Excerpt:

The decisive step of boots at the doorway echoed through the silence.
Once again, Priscilla shifted in her pew. This time she took in the tall form of a broad-shouldered man. With the brim of his battered hat pulled low, she could see nothing but the shadowed stubble on his jaw.
A twinge of trepidation wove through her stomach.
His boot heels clunked on the wooden floor, and with each step forward, the thread
pulled taut until, finally, when he reached the front and turned to face them, her stomach was as tight as the stitches in her sampler.
With a flick of his finger, he tapped up his hat and gave them a clear view of his face. Blue eyes the color of a winter sky peered at them from a tanned, weathered face. “Forgive me, Reverend, for disrupting your service,” he said, not bothering to look at Reverend Lull. Instead, his gaze swept across the
There was something intense and passionate in his eyes, something that spoke of adventure and of daring deeds about which Priscilla could only dream.
Mary Ann’s fingers dug through Priscilla’s gloves and pinched her tender skin. Priscilla absently patted her sister’s hand, wishing Mary Ann’s fear didn’t mirror her own.
Standing next to the savage Indians, the man seemed fierce— from the pistol at his waist to the scar that cut a thin white path from the corner of his left eye to his cheek. Who was this man? And what did he want with them?
Priscilla pressed the knot in her middle. Yet even as she tried to still her quivering, she couldn’t keep from trembling with the thrill of the unknown.

Favorite Dialogue:

Before she could move, he swooped her off his feet and into his arms.
“What do you thing you’re doing --- ?”
He juggled her weight and hefted her against his chest. “Just speeding things up.”
She sucked in a breath and wound her arms around his neck. The graceful curves of her body were every bit as soft and delicate as they looked, and he dragged in his own breath.
She peeked at the crowd. Her lashes fell as a rosy blush covered her cheeks. “Please put me down,” she murmured. “You’re causing a scene.”
“I like causing scenes.”
“Dr. Ernest, please.”
He grinned and strode toward the sleigh, his boots crunching in the frozen slush. “Besides, a man has a right to hold his bride, doesn’t he?”
“Not like this. Not in public. It’s uncivilized.”
“Who says I’m civilized?”


I have never enjoyed a Christian Romance so much as I enjoy Jody Hedlund’s books. This is the second novel for the author. Her first book, The preacher’s Bride, was a joy to read. I did not believe that she would be able to write a book more moving and inspirational that the first, but I was wrong. This little gem had me in tears. Eli’s slightly defiant nature also lends just the right amount of humor to the story. The book is an all around good read!

True to form, Hedlund created a work of fiction inspired by the true life of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. The Whitmans were a young missionary couple who traveled to Oregon, across the Continental Divide, in 1836 for the purpose of ministering to the Nez Perce Indians. The Whitmans did travel with another missionary couple, Henry and Eliza Spalding. Both Narcissa and Eliza were the first two white women to successfully cross the treacherous territory. Not only is the accomplishment of the women often overlooked, but their consistent state of perilous travel from both hazardous terrain and potential Indian attacks is also downplayed.

Hedlund, once again, has successfully intertwined truths with fiction to create a moving story highlighting the human will to follow ones dreams in a testament of faith and perseverance. This epic tale follows the journey of two people, Eli and Priscilla, who bravely embark on a journey to satisfy a calling placed on their hearts to spread the Word of God. Their journey begins with a marriage of convenience, forced by the Mission Board. Sometimes foolish and other times courageous, Eli and Priscilla set out to fulfill their dreams of ministering to others. Along the way, they just may get a bit more than they bargain for when the marriage of convenience becomes burdensome in their efforts to remain plutonic. Could it be that God has paired these two together for more than just ministering? I highly recommend that you read this book to find out! Their struggles and successes are nothing short of inspirational.

(book won on blog ; book provided by @jodyhedlund)