Much About Books

"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main...and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life."

~Walt Disney


"I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books."

~William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Smart, Sexy, Funny - one of the BEST contemporary romances I've read in 2013!

Hypnotic Seduction (Seduction Series, Book 1) - L. L. Kellogg
"Curiosity killed the cat." "Satisfaction also brought Fluffy back."


Don't be fooled by the cover or the title... yes, there's some hot sex in this book, but it's NOT a throwaway contemp-erotica. It's a thoughtful, fun, funny, smart, sexy trip into one woman's determination to accept herself, her desires, and her curvy body.


You know what they say about guys. Life is all about ass for them. If they're not trying to get a piece, they're acting like one.

Yeah - that kind of smart, sexy, and funny.

Hannah's mom is Cotton Candy Oliver, known for previously appearing in skin magazines for her willingness to bare all (died her pubic hair cotton candy pink, thus the nickname), lingerie/swimsuit model, product spokesperson, and B-movie bit part actress. Because her mom had her at age 15, Hannah was raised by her grandparents, who are basically against all that her mom, Candy, is for and does. So Hannah was raised to cover up her body. To not act or say or do anything that could be considered "slutty" or off-color.

Consequently, Hannah dresses like she's middle-aged, covering up her luscious, curvacious body. She doesn't wear makeup. She wears her hair up in a strict bun. She bakes to-die-for cookies. Hannah saved herself for The One, her fiancee, but he turned out to be sharing himself with others, including her roommate. Even so, her sex life was nothing to speak of. Hannah's experience was very limited, to say the least; not only was her fiancee not sexually adventurous (he doesn't like going "downtown"), he didn't even realize he'd never given her an "O" before. Wow.

So Hannah decides to do something different with her life. Since her fiancee was her boss, Hannah quits and searches for another job at Calder Pharmaceutical. They have an opening for an Executive Assistant to the CEO, Jordan Calder. But the HR guy takes one look at Hannah and practically throws her grannie-looking self out, despite her glowing resume. Steaming mad, Hannah sits on a bench outside the Calder building and starts up a conversation with an older gentleman already on the bench. She tells him her woes and shows him her resume. Turns out that Edward isn't just a nice old guy, he's Edward Calder of Calder Pharmaceuticals, and Jordan Calder is his grandson.

Jordan isn't put out by having an Exec Asst that looks like a middle-aged woman. Hannah is very efficient, polite, and bakes the best cookies. She has the right balance of compassion, caring, and competence. And Jordan never has to worry about coming into his office and finding Hannah lying naked on his desk, trying to seduce him. Yep, Jordan's got quite a reputation for dating around; one of his dates spilled the beans on Jordan's well-endowed self and sexual prowess after quite a few drinks at the company Christmas party. Since then, Jordan's been fending and fighting them off. His last Exec Asst, Renee, did try seducing him by being naked on his desk, then had the nerve to file a sexual harassment suit against Jordan and the company after he rejected her advances. The Board isn't ready to appoint Jordan chairman, in his grandfather's place, because of his "behavior". So Jordan could care less that Hannah's basically non-sexual. It means his job is safe and his chances at the chairmanship are that much better. Besides, his grandpa Edward seems to have a "thing" for her and her for him.

But when Hannah meets Callie Harper, Jordan's friend Bryce's Exec Asst (Bryce is a VP at Calder), she learns the whole sordid tale. AND Hannah's honesty with Callie as their friendship develops leads Hannah to Callie's sister, Diana. Diana has a masters in clinical psychology, is a certified hypnotherapist, and is writing a self-help book for women on how to empower themselves. Through her sessions with Diana, Hannah comes to realize that she's put her life and her sexuality on the back burner.

Soon, Hannah is sporting a whole new attitude... and then gradually, a whole new wardrobe. Suddenly, Jordan can't say that he only likes Hannah for her baking or her efficiency... he's falling for her mind, her personality, and... her newly discovered curvacious body.

Suddenly, we realize that Jordan's got his own sexual hang-ups to overcome. And both Jordan and Hannah have to find a solution to their explosive sexual chemistry.
I loved the characters, the situations, and the way they worked through everything. I loved seeing the new Hannah, and realizing that Jordan needed his own makeover. I loved Hannah's solution to introduce Jordan to hypnosis... shhhh! I loved watching the two of them do their mating dance, trying to avoid the inevitable. I loved watching Hannah accept herself and her body - finding that makeover of hair, makeup, body, and clothes that worked for her. I loved watching the guys fall all over themselves for Hannah, and watching Jordan make an ass of himself in his jealousy.

Fun, smart, and sexy... what more could you want? GREAT BOOK! Best 99-cents I ever spent

To Wed A Wicked Highlander: OK Highland Romance/Historical Fiction, But Not A Real Bad Boy Of The Highlands

To Wed a Wicked Highlander - Victoria  Roberts

This book was provided as an ARC by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This 3rd book in the trilogy is similar to the other two: it's comfortable and familiar, with hunky alpha-male Highlanders and feisty but secretive heroines. It follows the "rules" of its genre. But the bad boys aren't really so bad.... and that's why I can't give the book more than 3 stars.

Sybella (Ella) MacKenzie is forced into a marriage with the chief of the warring clan MacDonell, Alex MacDonell of Glengarry. A generation or so ago, the MacDonell's stole the Seeing Stone that helped the MacKenzie clan success in wealth and battle, and Ella's father, now the MacKenzie chief, wants it back. So he decides the best way is to have Ella on the inside - appease Alex MacDonell with a wife, while that wife finds the Seeing Stone. Once Ella finds it, her father fully intends to declare the marriage invalid, take back his daughter and the stone, and marry her to his other rival clan, the Lewis clan.

But Ella isn't aware of all the machinations, like her brother Colin is. She's frightened to marry into the MacDonell clan, but just a few years back, she ran into Alex MacDonell when she and her brother were swimming in the MacDonell swimming hole. She was immediately taken with Alex's good looks, and he seemed to be charmed with her as well. They exchanged light flirting banter and went their separate ways. When she sees Alex again on her wedding day, she's struck anew at how handsome and brawny he is. But Ella can't seem to find time to search for the stone; she's constantly guarded by Alex's men. While Alex seems to trust her, the MacDonell clan does not. So Alex compromises by asking his guardsmen to tend to his wife's safety.

As Ella gets to know Alex's clan, especially his Aunt Isabeail, she's torn between duty to her father and the kindness of her husband and his clan. That intensifies when Alex's cousin Rosalie, her infant son, and her husband Ciaran MacGregor of Glenorchy come for an extended visit. But Ella's father decides things aren't moving fast enough, and he sends an archer to put Ella's safety in jeopardy, thus hoping that Alex will move Ella inside and give her time to search for the stone.

But, of course, in the end, Ella discovers that her father's ambitions go beyond her well-being and happiness. When the archer is discovered wearing a Lewis tartan, Ella's father lies to Alex's face, trying to get Alex to kill his Lewis enemies or be killed himself. And then the inevitable moment when Alex realizes that Ella's after the Seeing Stone and hasn't been completely honest with him. That deeply hurts Alex, because after they were married, Alex asked Ella to always be honest with him, regardless. So we get The Big Misunderstanding between Ella and Alex in play.

However, all's well that ends well... as usual.

My BIGGEST COMPLAINT about this book is that Ms. Roberts didn't do her research. At the time in history that she's set this book (Scotland 1606), the MacGregor clan was outlawed - the name and the tartan. No MacGregor would have been allowed to hold a title and lands, as Ciaran MacGregor, Rosalia's husband is. And while Rosalia and Ciaran are only guests in this book (the 2nd book being theres), that one little fact really disturbed my enjoyment of the books.

Another nit is that the book is overly predictable, which makes it sometimes feel long and drawn out. But I will give Ms. Roberts credit for building engaging characters. I cared about Ella and Alex and what would become of them. I wanted their happy ending.

Overall, this series is a decent read. But it's not a great read, and for that reason, I'll read the ARCs or borrow the books from the library rather than purchase them for my own Kindle library.

Bold Tricks: Heart-Stopping Conclusion to The Artist's Trilogy

Bold Tricks  - Karina Halle


Since I'd waited to read Shooting Scars, the 2nd book in the trilogy, I was able to pick up this 3rd book immediately after turning the last page of Shooting Scars. YAY!

Bold Tricks wasn't quite as scary to me, since I already knew that Ellie'd made her choice between Javier and Camden. Problem is, Javier is still involved and very necessary to the operation. Or Ellie might never see Gus or her mother again.

So this book is really about resolving Ellie and Camden - their individual stories and their shared story. Each has to put his or her past to rest before they can truly move on. And to move on, they have to get out of the horrendous situation they start the book in - tracking Travis, who has both Gus and Ellie's mom, and who knows they're coming after him.

Question is, has Javier revealed all of his hand yet? Or are more mind games to come? Yes, I know - don't answer that. It's obvious. Javier has to be one of the most COMPLICATED, LAYERED characters I've ever read. Yes, he's sexy and as bad-a$$ as they come; but is he all he's told Ellie he is? After seeing him in book 2 and learning more from his sister, Violet, I'd say no. Javier definitely misrepresented his status and clout within the Mexican drug cartels. So it only stands to reason that in this book, he's out to take it all and then some.

Can Camden forgive Ellie for using Javier sexually to make the pain go away in book 2? Is there any hope or future for Camden and Ellie or is this entire thing a suicide mission? How will Camden ever get his life and his son back? Can he?

All of these questions and many more are answered in this book. And as usual, Ms. Halle does it all with tongue-in-cheek wit and clever plot twists, throwing Javier's mind-numbing mind games into the mix.

OK, so there was some eye-rolling on my part about the sex scenes, which seemed... dirtier than necessary? Dunno. It was almost like Camden and Ellie were starting over again and stuck in that love-sex-haze where your brain can't process much beyond "I want that" when looking at or thinking about your lover.

Some might think the Epilogue is an easy out. But I don't think so. It's the right ending. And Ms. Halle said that she knew the ending before she even finished the trilogy - it came to her. For me, getting to the end was one hot, confusing, action-packed ride. But it was all worth it

Shooting Scars: Ellie & Javier, Camden & Gus - Wild, All-Out 2nd Book In The Artist's Trilogy

Shooting Scars - 'Karina Halle'
True love doesn't have a sick desperation to it, an undercurrent of doom. People who burn that brightly still get burned in the end, and I'm sure if it hadn't been for him cheating on me, it would have ended some other way.

I have to admit that I was really afraid of this book... leaving book 1 knowing that Ellie went with Javier and Camden was standing on the steps with his ex-wife and his 3 year old son... I just couldn't imagine how I'd ever get through a 2nd or 3rd book.

IMO, Javier is a true psychopath, and what he wanted with Ellie made me more than a little nervous. Did he still have an obsession with her? Did his promise to hurt anyone who hurt her include Ellie? And more importantly, would Ellie fall for this guy again?

This book is told in dual POVs - both Ellie's and Camden's, which went a long way towards soothing my fears before I even picked up the book. Since Camden's POV was just as important as Ellie's I KNEW that Camden had to still be in the picture and trying to find Ellie.

But what Camden has to go through to get there - INSANE! Just when you think you have something figured out in the book, BANG! Ms. Halle changes it up and sucker punches you in the face with a clever new reality. Poor Camden! Luckily, he knew how to get in touch with Gus.

I'm only barely familiar with the Baja and western coastal tourist towns of Mexico, so the driving all over Mexico was a little dizzying and very unfamiliar. But it's clear that we were in a foreign place, on foreign soil for most of the book.

Yes, this book is still scary (to me) - still full of that grit and darkness that make it Ellie's, Camden's, and Javier's story. But Ms. Halle weaves a story that wasn't nearly as horrific or dark as I'd imagined. Her version is MUCH BETTER than mine ever could be.

So hats off to Karina Halle for another success! And for making me read this 2nd book and love it, when all I wanted to do was hide my head and forget about Ellie, Camden, and Javier.

Unscrupulous: Laugh-Out-Loud Funny, Scorching Hot Romance, and Loads of Fun

Unscrupulous (The Manhattanites, #2) - Avery Aster

Steam Rating: HOT HOT HOT

Genres: Erotic Contemporary Romance




This book was provided by Netgalley, the author, and the publishers in exchange for an honest review.


While this is the 2nd book in The Manhattanites series, it was the first book in that series that I read. But it whet my appetite for more!


It's unapologetically erotic with successful men and women who know what they like and come right out and do it and say it. It's like a fun, ultra-sexy take on Sex and the City or The Real Housewives of... or a soap opera, except it's so much better than any of those could ever be. If you're into this genre, I advise you to grab your copy of Unscrupulous now!


The book's heroine Tabitha "Taddy" Brillford is a self-made millionaire with her own business. She's beautiful, self-assured, fiercely independent, brilliant, and not afraid to ask for and to take what she wants, especially with men and sexual relationships! This gal isn't intimidated by anyone, much less one of the richest men in the world, Warner Truman.


Taddy and Warner meet at one of his private clubs that's attached to a resort hotel/spa on St. Barth's. Taddy is traveling with her gal-pals, so she's using an assumed name, Senhora Red,  to avoid the paparazzi who'd be hounding them otherwise. After a fabulous spa day, the gals go in search of fun, which leads them to a one-night pass to a private club known to host the rich, famous, and successful. Taddy and Warner are instantly attracted to one another, but in the course of their evening together, they don't exchange names. The evening ends badly when one of Warner's exes wrecks what would have been an awesome sexcapade for both Taddy and Warner. But Taddy's not convinced that the ex is really an ex... and she doesn't go in for complications, especially psycho ex-girlfriends or wives.


Taddy dubs Warner "Big Daddy", and occasionally wonders about him and what might have been...


Warner can't get Taddy off his mind, either, so he tries to track her down. Problem is, he only has her pseudonym to go by. It's not until a major PR issue breaks out for the Warner resort in Cannes involving Taddy's innocent assistant where they meet again, unexpectedly.

While Taddy saves the day, her assistant, and revises the image of the Warner Cannes resort to make it popular again, she's unsure if she can retain her independence and her life and have a relationship with Warner. He's a mogul in his own right; what happens when 2 moguls get together? Does one of them have to stop being a mogul to make it work?


Love the fashion references - lots of name dropping on high end couture designers. In fact, everything from the vodka to the shoes to the furniture labels are mentioned, so that we KNOW we're in world where only the high society, brand-conscious, high fashion, ultra-hip, and wealthy live and play. It's better than The Real Housewives of... where you KNOW that you'll never live in that world, but it's fun to see how those who do live.


Love Taddy and her pals and all the nicknames! "Big Daddy" is so apt for Warner, and while it reminded me of "Mr. Big" from Sex and the City, I'll take Big Daddy Warner over Mr. Big any day!


I loved the book enough to pick up the 1st book in the series!

Revealing Us: A Step Back - Rollercoaster Highs & Lows - Disappointing 3rd Book

Revealing Us - Lisa Renee Jones

WOW... this 3rd book in the Inside-Out trilogy just didn't do it for me. Up to this point, one of the main reasons I enjoyed this series so much is that it DIDN'T remind me of FSOG... at least not much. In this book, I felt the influence of FSOG in the worst ways. To say that I'm disappointed is mild.

It took me nearly a month to read this book, when I should have been able to devour it in a single night. Why did I start and stop so many times, you ask? Good question!

This book seems to subsist mostly on dramatic highs and lows. Lots of emotion and jumping to conclusions, mostly on Sara's side of the equation. Sure, I can give Sara a pass for awhile, since right before this book opens, Sara was attacked by Rebecca's killer in a very dramatic, heart-stopping encounter. And in the midst of that, Chris pretty much gave Sara another ultimatum: go with him to Paris to learn more about his "secrets" and his past or... that's it. Relationship over.

It's a trust thing with Chris, and I get that. But between Chris being so secretive and so sure that Sara can't live with his past and Sara being so emotional, jealous, jumpy, and jumping to immediate and mostly wrong conclusions, this book felt like a whirling, nauseating, high-low carnival ride that you can't wait to get off of.

Beyond that, Ms. Jones seems to go towards the "if you're into BDSM, you must be damaged" bit, especially the "if you are a sadist or masochist, it's because you don't have a positive way to deal with pain". That's insulting to anyone truly a part of the BDSM lifestyle. Now, I'm not part of that lifestyle and never have been. But I resent, on behalf of those who are, the assumption that there's something WRONG with these people... that they need love to heal them, and if they get love and trust, these people don't need to be in that lifestyle. UGH.


"...But I lied to both of us when I said I'd watch your pain if that's what you needed. I won't watch. I won't let you be hurt again. I won't let you need that (pain, whipping) again."

Too FSOG-ish for my taste and a complete misrepresentation of the issue at hand. Chris is a sadist; he LIKES pain. He GETS OFF on pain. That's OK. At times, he might use pain to the extreme, to distance himself from his thoughts; that might not be OK, but the point is, it's up to Chris to decide that. And even if he steers clear of the more extreme pain, that doesn't mean that he's still not a sadist and will never need or use pain again in sexual situations.

I resent Sara's thinking that by having her hands and arms bound and allowing Chris to take her naked on the living room rug is some sort of BDSM experience. It's not. It's barely out of the vanilla sex league. And her ideas of what's beyond vanilla sex seem to revolve around spanking and light flogging.


"Damn you, Chris. I opened myself up to you. I gave you everything that I am, when I swore I'd never do that with anyone. I let you spank me." Pain nearly doubles me over, but somehow I hold myself upright. "I'm going home." I turn away, seeking escape.

To her CREDIT, Ms. Jones does mostly have Chris present another viewpoint of BDSM and reasonably explain a few things to her.

So while Sara and Chris manage to wind their way through their relationship issues (mostly) in this book, there's too much drama... too many extremes for me. If the drama was more focused on Rebecca's murderer or with Ella's disappearance, OK. But the problem is, those issues are just more fodder for the emotional high-lows and conclusion-jumping between Sara and Chris. Sara takes those things and gets herself so worked up over them, she can no longer think straight.

I'd HOPED that at least half-way through the book, we'd focus more on finding Ella and more on Chris's past that he wants to tell Sara himself. Both are glossed over at nearly the end of the book, with lots of hints and red herrings along the way.

By the end of the book, I was IRRITATED. I resented the tone and direction of this book. I resented the cliff-hanger ending, because if I want to find out what really happened to Ella, I have to continue reading. It makes me feel manipulated, and I don't like it when an author does that.

Ms. Jones has proven herself to be a GOOD WRITER. She evokes emotions and paints pictures for us of the world and characters. She envelopes us with thoughts, feelings, emotions... so WHY DID SHE HAVE TO TURN ON US, HER READERS? Why did she have to bully us with tactics that force us to keep reading and use mechanisms that didn't work for FSOG? Why did she have to fall on that bandwagon and virtually re-create scenes and plot points from FSOG, down to the "Don't be mad at me" dialogue?

Ms. Jones is a better writer and storyteller than that.

I'm ticked, because I could have been satisfied with a Netgalley copy of this book. But I chose to PAY for this book, rather than read it for free. Now I wish I'd chosen the Netgalley free copy.

Covet by Tracey Garvis-Graves: Thought-Provoking Contemporary Romance

Covet - Tracey Garvis Graves

3+ stars

Genres: Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance, Female Bonding, Friendship-Strong

This book was provided by Netgalley and The Penguin Group: Dutton Adult in exchange for an honest review.

Book Summary
What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else?

Chris and Claire Canton’s marriage is on life support. Downsized during the recession and out of work for a year, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire. When he’s offered a position that will keep him away from home four nights a week, he dismisses Claire’s concern that time apart could be the one thing their fragile union can’t weather. Their suburban life may look idyllic on the outside, but Claire has never felt so disconnected from Chris, or so lonely.

Local police officer Daniel Rush used to have it all, but now he goes home to an empty house every night. When Claire is hired to do some graphic design work for the police department, her friendship with Daniel grows, and soon they’re spending hours together.

Claire loves the way Daniel makes her feel, and the way his face lights up when she walks into the room. Daniel knows that Claire’s marital status means their relationship will never be anything other than platonic. But it doesn’t take long before Claire and Daniel are in way over their heads, and skating close to the line that Claire has sworn she’ll never cross.

Lori's Review/Thoughts

The author uses multiple POVs (points-of-view) to tell this story: Claire, Chris, and Daniel. But because most of the book is from Claire's perspective, the switch between POVs didn't feel like a smooth transition. The guys only seemed to offer their POV to clarify something that they were thinking but couldn't express. That makes sense, and it was nice to get the insight, but the imbalance didn't work for me.


The book connects with readers - makes you relate to them. But it's a very sad book, at least for me. Relationships are tough. This economy is tough. And this book addresses some real-life problems that couples face during downsizing and the job market pressures. It's hard not to empathize with both Chris and Claire.


The book was also tough for me, because I understand the emotional/mental affair and the temptation. But does it matter if the affair doesn't really wander into the physical? This book asks that question; Claire and Daniel grapple with it from different angles and perspectives. It's not an easy book to read. And there aren't any clear answers or clear winners.

Beautiful writing... but a very sad book. A tale woven so realistically that you found yourself intrinsically tapped in to the characters and what was happening.

Mass Exodus to Booklikes Gunking Up The Works?

I have to admit that I've been out of the fray recently... but it seems as if there's quite the flocking to Booklikes these days. That's not a bad thing. Any place that welcomes book lovers and gives us the opportunity to discuss books is a good thing.


But the influx seems to be s - l - o - w - i - n - g down the Booklikes site. Hoping that will right itself.


Also hoping for more info on how to make this site even more social. It's great to post reviews and discuss books I've read. BUT I'd love to get more tips and tricks on customizing my Dashboard or something, so that I can INTERACT more with those I follow and who follow me.


Those of you who've used this site more fully, perhaps you can share your favorite tips with me? I welcome them!

Taming the Highland Bride: Fun Historical Highland romance without the silliness of the 1st book in the series

Taming the Highland Bride - Lynsay Sands

I liked this Highland historical romance better than its predecessor, Devil of the Highlands, because it wasn't as silly or contrived. But it contains a good romance with a fairly decent suspense/mystery.

Merry has had to take on the reins of her castle and clan (the Stewarts), because her father and 2 older brothers are drunkards who'd rather drink away the days and nights than do anything useful. Merry even does battle/fighting practice with the men who guard the castle and lands. Because she's constantly having to goad her father and brother, they've given her the name of The Stewart Shrew, which has spread throughout Scotland.

So when Alex (Evelind's brother from the 1st book) returns to Northern England from his stint in the crusades, he's not racing to claim his contracted betrothed bride, Merry, from Lower Scotland. He's heard of The Stewart Shrew. So Merry's father decides that they'd be better off marrying Merry off and tells her that her betrothed asked them to come to him for the wedding.

But when they arrive, Merry's first glance at her betrothed is to see him flat-out drunk and brawling. Alex had a bad tooth, and the blacksmith who was to pull it forced him to drink a flagon of whisky. Then, Alex appears to be unsteady and slurs his words; he also seems to have a constant cock-stand. Merry hasn't a choice but to go through with the contract or lose her dowry in forfeit, so she marries Alex. On their wedding night, he starts to kiss her, which she enjoys, but when he gets up to close their bedroom door, he stumbles and knocks himself out. While she doesn't smell drink on his breath, Merry's sure he's drunk. If she doesn't have blood on the sheets to prove they consummated the marriage, she might be doomed to leave with her father and brothers. So she cuts her inner thigh for the needed "blood", but gets a little carried away; the next morning, all think that Alex practically murdered Merry. She's embarrased to discover she only needed a bit of blood to convince them.

Merry starts to observe her new husband in action, and while she's still convinced he's in his cups every evening, he seems to be a good man and good leader. Because Alex, too, thinks he hurt her on their wedding night, he doesn't touch her again for 3 weeks - enough for his step-mother Edda to believe that Merry is pregnant. Edda was Evelinde's wicked step-mother who thought she was throwing Evie to the Devil of the Highlands, a wicked and cruel man; in reality, the "Devil" is a wonderful and loving husband. Edda's been nice to Merry, who craves female companionship, but has Edda really changed?

When Alex decides to visit his sister to see that she truly is happy and settled, he gets the opportunity to truly consummate their marriage. Except that he's still unsteady and slurs in the evening - and he's incredibly randy, too. Merry doesn't mind much, because he's a good and gentle lover, until the night when he's more like an animal. Then, too, someone is trying to kill Alex or her, and the suspicion rests on Merry, because his unusual behavior didn't start until she married him.

Will they discover who's behind this plot and what the motive is before Alex or Merry or both is killed?

Too much happens too quickly in this book... and it's a shame, because there's so much to love about the characters. Merry too quickly changes her shrewish ways. While Alex is gentle, strong, and intuitive, I wouldn't think that Merry would so quickly acquiesce to his admonitions to ask for and receive help, nor tame her sharp tongue. Alex is almost too good to be true - except for his randiness caused by this dosing, he hasn't a single flaw that I could see. That's all good and well, but everyone has a weak spot.

It was nice to visit Evelinde and Collin in their Scottish home and find out that they're still happy. And it was nice to hear about Merry's eldest brother, Kade, and how much she loves and trusts him. Perhaps there's hope for the Stewart clan after all, under Kade's guidance. Even Merry's father and other 2 brothers seem to miss her after she's gone.

There are funny moments, but thankfully, not ridiculous moments. But while this is a decent read and a fairly good Highland romance, it's just not GREAT - not enough to read twice.

However, I like the series enough to give the last book a read. It's about Kade Stewart.

First Drop of Crimson: Good read for fans of Night Huntress series - features Spade & Denise

First Drop of Crimson - Jeaniene Frost

Genres: Night Huntress series, Vampires, Paranormal Romance-Suspence-Thriller, New Adult, Urban-Fantasy


Recommended for: Vampire series lovers, Night Huntress series fans, Paranormal Romance fans


Steam factor: 3 out of 5 flames - "just right" steam


Book Blurb
This off-shoot of the Night Huntress series features Bones' vampire friend, Spade, and Cat's friend, Denise. Denise and her husband were with Bones & Cat in Canada over the new year's celebration, when Mencheres' wife, Patra, was trying to settle a vendetta with M by using black magic against Cat & Bones.


In this book, Denise's relatives are being mysteriously killed by heart attacks, yet none have a history of issues and are mostly young and fit. One of her cousins is killed before her eyes, again of an apparent heart attack, yet Denise knows better. When Denise invites what seems to be a wounded little girl into her home, she discovers she is a he - and a demon, at that! The demon tells & shows Denise that one of her ancestors, Nathan, made a bargain with him: in exchange for his soul, Nathan gained power from the demon. But then Nathan disappeared, and the demon can't get his due. The demon brands Denise and tells her that she's got 2 weeks to locate her ancestor and bring him to the demon, or the demon will take her in Nathan's place.

Denise can't reach Cat & Bones, but she does reach Spade. Who else would know about the undead world, including demons, but someone undead? Or so she reasons. Spade is reluctant to help her, because he finds himself attracted to Denise; she's human - so she can die, and Spade lost his heart when his last love, a human, died, without allowing him to change her. Denise is still smarting from her husband's death, just over a year ago, but she, too, is fighting the attraction.

Neither Spade nor Denise is familiar with demons and their powers, but Spade does know that demon blood is like a drug to vampires, so it stands to reason that Nathan could be "property" of a vampire peddling Nathan's demon-laced blood. Ian pops up and adds lots of comic-relief, when he attempts to help Spade and Denise in their search.

The search takes them around the world from New York to Las Vegas to England to Monaco. Somehow, they're constantly tailed; and the demon further brands Denise several more times, turning her into part-demon. But they do learn how to kill a demon - you must spear a demon bone into a demon's eye. But by doing so, you take on all that demon's power. Will Denise be doomed to being a shape-shifting demon? Will they find Nathan in time or will she lose her soul - what remains of it?


Lori's Review/Thoughts
While some reviews complain about lack of chemistry between Denise and Spade or just a "lack" compared to Bones and Cat, I found this book engaging and fresh. We're somewhat familiar with Spade and Denise from the Night Huntress series, and IMO, this book explores beyond what we know and yet staying true to who they are.

I did enjoy this book. It was different from the "regular" Night Huntress series. There's still plenty of romance, paranormal, and fighting battles, but we move from the usual vampire world into a "new" world that includes demons. There's something new to learn and fight. That was a draw for me.

And Spade and Denise are quieter characters, yet they still have their individual depths. They're still very connected, as we discover when Denise needs help in Monaco, and the extended team comes to the rescue with a potential rescue plan.

Of course, there's a solution to the Spade-Denise mortal issue, which isn't a surprise by the end of the book, but it makes sense and allows Spade and Denise to become part of the paranormal "team".

I found this a good read for those who've already read some of the Night Huntress series.

In His Command: Dystopian M-M story of Extremes

In His Command - Rie Warren

Genres: M/M, LGBT, Erotic Romance, Military, Dystopian Society, Futuristic, Big Brother

Steam Rating: HOT & Steamy

This book was provided by Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing Forever Yours in exchange for an honest review.

This book is tough for me to rate. At it's heart, there's a STORY here... but it seems buried under politics, world-building, sex, and Commander Caspar Cannon's POV. So while there's glimpse of promise, I just can't recommend this story - it's made up of too many extremes to resonate and connect to its readers. If it were simply a M-M erotica that wasn't attempting to take itself seriously or broadcast a message, the sex scenes alone would rate a 3.5-4 stars. But it does try to be a serious story... and it's just not there yet.

First, let me make clear that I read M/M and erotica on a regular basis. I'm not biased against this genre, and some of my favorite series and stories (Outlander, Ty&Zane/Cut & Run, Psycop, Special Forces) incorporate gay characters and their relationships. But in this book, it seemed apparent to me that the book was written by a woman attempting a gay man's POV. And it didn't work for me, because there's too many extremes in how the main character, Caspar, comes across.

Book Summary
It's the year 2070. We're in a dystopian society where there's a one-world government, even though out story takes place in what we know today as the U.S. The world is divided into quadrants, such as the southern-U.S. (Georgia area?) now known as Alpha. When the world was falling apart after the lack of resources, deadly Plauges, and so on, The Company stepped in and took control. The world's population was decimated, so the new world order focuses on Order and Repopulation. Order is maintained by strict rules and the military. Repopulation is enforced through RACE (Repopulation and Civilization Enforcement), which means that only sex between males and females is permitted, and that, generally, within the contract of marriage. But sex is almost strictly for procreation and not recreation. And those who marry or are suspected of sex crimes like homosexuality, bisexuality, menages, or other "aberrant" practices are forced before a RACE committee and forced to perform the sex act with the opposite sex. Imagine your first time consummating the relationship/marriage being done with an audience! (And they don't think voyeurism is abberant?)

As within any society, there are ways around The Company. Ampitheaters, known as Theater, are underground raves where people anonymously or through nicknames pursue their "criminal" sexual interests. Rebels outside the marked Company territories are called Nomads and considered no better than animals; Nomads are blamed for most of the killings and other ills.

Those who wish to delay the marriage-for-procreation life can sign up for the military. So Commander Caspar Cannon, a gay man, has done just that. He's hidden his true feelings and sexual urges all his life. He's a typical bury-it kind of military guy. He doesn't allow himself to feel or really live, because there's nothing to feel or live for. Except that he's obsessed with a particular tall, handsome, blond man who attends the Theater near him.

After a quick encounter with Blondie, alarms go off. A rebellion is in full swing - Nomads and Rebels have messed with the water supply, and a full lock down goes into effect. Caspar is called to duty, and his next assignment is to guard Company Exec Nathan Rice with his life and get Rice to an Outpost several hundred miles away. It's not clear to me why Rice must go to the Outpost, which seems to be along the East Coast (perhaps D.C. area?) or at least north and somewhat east of the Appalachian Mountains. Oh, and Rice is Blondie. Thus begins our story...

Lori's Review/Thoughts
Caspar: Caspar is a military guy, through-and-through. We're completely in his head for the whole story, which presents some interesting opportunities, but I got tired of his trust issues. I understand that in this world and in Caspar's life, he's not been able to trust anyone other than himself and his second in command, Liz. But the "lust-love-gotta-have-him-right-now" and the "can't trust him" schism in Caspar's head got old.

There's such a dichotomy to Caspar - the tough, military guy versus the guy who's longing for love and a place to belong: somewhere he can simply be himself, without fear and without reprisal. That's a wonderful sentiment, and something that everyone can relate to. BUT... the way that dichotomy is expressed shows Caspar to extremes, rather than as an integrated person, which makes him seem almost unbalanced.

At times, Caspar comes across like a wimpy, love-sick, high school girl. He waxes so poetic in his head about Blondie/Nathaniel, and he gets so obsessed with things like smells, flowers, and tokens of love. Is this because a woman is writing a man's POV? And we're told that guys think about sex every 5 seconds, but I got tired of hearing that constant sexual, lustful dialogue in Caspar's head interspersed with tactical/military thoughts, political thoughts, and memories of his past. It's hard to reconcile THIS Caspar with the tough, honored military guy. There's nothing wrong with a guy who appreciates nature - flowers, water falls, etc. And I get that The Company's world is mostly fake and artificial. So his wonder in encountering them isn't the problem; it's the girly way that his wonder is expressed that seems so at odds with the man and the warrior.

Politics: Again, such extremes between the Big Brother Company and nature. While freedom is a theme, it centers mostly around gay rights or the rights to freely express love outside the traditional bonds of heterosexual marriage. But even marriage in this world within The Company is joyless. Anyone at an executive level in The Company is corrupt, evil, angry, homophobes. The military are mindless drones who drank The Company Kool-Aid and mostly act just like The Company execs. Those within The Company's grasp - the ordinary folks - are poor, mostly joyless, colorless, and constantly afraid. Nomads are really Freelanders, folks who've gone back to the rural, farming communities in pre-tech and pre-industrial days; they're mostly portrayed as smarter than they look, industrious, creative, tolerant, accepting communities.

It's easy to see the world in black-and-white. But that's not as interesting as the shades of gray. And the author attempts to put in those shades of gray by showing characters outside these norms - Caspar in the military; Blondie/Nathaniel in The Company; and the mostly brawn-over-brains villain within the Nomads. But it falls flat.

Sex: Lots and lots of it. Easy to see how, in this society, folks would grab for random encounters whenever they could. But again, The Company's monitoring sexual activity to the Theater's random racking-up-the-body-count encounters is extreme.

Not to mention Caspar's constant lusting over Blondie. Despite his better instincts (or because of them), Caspar only has to look at Blondie to want to tear his clothes off. And frequently, he does. Are we supposed to look at this desperation as a means of finding touch and relationship in The Company's world? Because it is desperate and meaningless. This "relationship" only takes on meaning because Blondie forces it - forces interaction and sharing with Caspar. As much as Caspar longs for belonging, love, and closeness, he has no desire to put effort into it and no plans for a real future. That hopelessness is just sad. And that, combined with the extremes in Caspar and this world just made the whole thing seem trite and confusing.

World-building: Most of the world-building occurs through Info Dumps. Tell, not show. The author attempts to show at the beginning, but because we don't yet understand this world, her show is confusing and has to be interspersed with info dumps in the form of long narratives by Caspar to explain what-the-heck is going on.

By the end of the book, I was drawn in by the characters, but it took until the half-way mark before I cared. I kept reading, because I was determined that a book with this length must have something to it. But when I finished, it felt too HEA-ish. After all that happens in this book, the HEA was the easy out, and a way to lead us into the next book.

While I see promise in this story and its characters and likely in this author, I can't recommend this book. It feels like it's a good draft in need of a developmental/story editor to really tighten it up and make it come alive. Someone who can help the author bridge the gap between the extremes, so that as the story builds, the readers see that there's more to this life and these characters than it seems; that the extremes are only the outward picture and not the true inner person. Otherwise, we don't experience real growth or change; we only see caricatures that move from 1 to 9 within 300 or so pages.

Mine to Take: Steamy, suspenseful romance, perfect for a quick summer read

Mine to Take  - Cynthia Eden

This book was provided from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Quick Look

Overall rating: 3-3.5 stars


"Hot" Scale: 3.5 out of 5 flames - Lots of heat, some steamy scenes


Recommended for: Fans of steamy romances with a mystery/suspense/thriller twist


Genres: Contemporary Romance, Mystery/Thriller


Book Summary

Skye Sullivan has a stalker. But she can't prove it. This stalker is probably responsible for the car accident a year ago that damaged her leg and ended her professional dancing career. After her recovery and rehab, Skye returns to her "home town", only to have her stalker re-appear. But without solid proof, the police just think that Skye's mentally unbalanced or looking for attention.

So Skye turns to the one man she can't forget: Trace Weston. Trace and Skye met in a foster home. 16 year old Trace beat up the teenaged son of the house, who was hurting and raping Skye. Trace and Skye forged a friendship that turned into something more. But when Skye was 18, the older Trace dumped Skye, breaking her heart. Little did she know that Trace didn't feel good enough for her; he wanted her to pursue her dream of dancing professionally in NYC.

But Trace never left his obsession behind, as we discover. Skye comes to Trace for help now, because Trace has a very successful security business. She hires him to prove she's got a stalker and to catch him. But in the course of the story, details about Trace's obsession come out, including that Trace watched Skye dance the night of her car accident.

Who is the stalker? Is there a stalker? And if there is, will he be revealed in time to save Skye's life?


Lori's Review

This story is more like a novella, since it's a quick read. But it reads well and contains enough steam and red herrings to keep it interesting. You feel Skye's desperation to be believed. You cringe when she's terrorized. You shake your head at Trace's obsession, and start wondering if perhaps Trace isn't the stalker....


But you KEEP READING until the end!

Going Back For Romeo: Fun Summer-Read: Hunky Highlander / Time-Travel Romance

Going Back for Romeo: A Highlander Time Travel Romance (A Muir Witch Project) (Volume 1) - L L Muir

Quick Look

"Hot" Scale: 2 out of 5 Flames - lots of "heat" but not a lot of steam


Recommended For: Fans of Highlander/time-travel romances


Genres: Highland Romance, Historical Fiction (15th Century), Time Travel, Magic/Fantasy


Book Summary

(From Goodreads book blurb) Alone, with a Highlander, in his castle, on a cold dark night...

(Okay, so it wasn’t that cold.)

Jillian MacKay is being conned by a pair of eighty-year-old witches. They’re convinced she’s the perfect sucker to test a prophecy and they’re willing to bury her alive to prove it. Once she escapes and finds herself in 15th Century Scotland, she believes her return home depends on a heroic deed—she must rescue a plaid-clad Romeo and Juliet before tragedy can strike. The monster standing in her way, however, is a handsome Highlander who might just be her own Romeo...a Romeo she must leave behind.

Rather than surrender his secrets, Montgomery Ross would prefer to go down in history as the heartless creature who betrayed one sister and buried the other alive. When he falls in love with the prophesied faery who has come to expose him, he'll have to learn a wee lesson from the star-crossed lovers or suffer the fate to which he once condemned them.


Lori's Review

LOVED this book - fun, laughter, romance, confusion, hunky Highlanders, ghosts, witches, and mysterious twin sisters... all the best elements of a time-travel Highlander romance!

Jillian (Jilly) MacKay is finally in Scotland! Her grandmother raised her, but she had strange ideas about Jilly and letting her out of Wyoming. And Jilly was especially NOT to set foot in Scotland or some dire consequences would result. But her grandmother was never quite clear... and of course, it made Jilly want to travel to Scotland all the more.

She ends up being convinced by a pair of 80-year old twin sisters (the Muir sisters) to test a prophecy about the Ross and MacKay families - she's supposed to break a curse for a pair of star-crossed lovers, Ivar MacKay and Morna Ross. Morna had been given in marriage to the Gordon clan, not to Ivar MacKay, the man she loved. It was a typical marriage of property and alliance for the time. The prophecy was foretold by Morna's sister, Isobelle, who was entombed in the Main Hall of Castle Ross by her brother and laird, Montgomery Ross, because she was a witch... or so the church said. Isobelle couldn't stand to see Morna's suffering over losing her love, Ivar, so she placed a curse on a necklace, that a faery would come to claim the necklace - a faery bearing the Immediate Blood of both the MacKay and Ross clans - and said faery would reunite the star-crossed lovers, Ivar and Morna. That very prophecy made Isobelle a witch in the church's eyes, and having condemned her, Montgomery tried to save her from burning and hanging by entombing her alive. The ghost of Isobelle haunted Castle Ross, and poor Laird Montgomery never married or had children.

Jillian visits Castle Ross in the company of the Muir sisters and puts on the torque. But nothing happens. She knows a con when she sees one, but Jillian can't seem to stop thinking and dreaming of Montgomery Ross. Is it just his magnificent statue in the Great Hall? Or is it the likeness his great+ nephew Quinn Ross, current laird, bears to Montgomery? Either way, Jillian finds herself tricked again by the Muir sisters to go into the Isobelle's tomb, where, surprise! The actual torque resides - not the necklace she tried on earlier.

And suddenly, Jillian finds herself in Castle Ross in 1495... with the real Montgomery Ross. But she has no idea how to reunite Ivar and Morna, to return to her own time, or to keep her sanity. Jillian and Montgomery try to keep attraction from becoming more, but... we all know that's not going to happen. When the Gordons get involved, well... we've got a story!

While there are some real stretches of disbelief, this book is FUN, LIGHT, and full of ROMANCE! It's the perfect summer read for fans of Highland hunks and time-traveling heroines.


Dark Soul - The Complete Collection - Voinov mixes M-M with Mafia and creats another Hit!

Dark Soul: The Complete Collection - Aleksandr Voinov

Quick Look

"Hot" Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Flames - Fire Extinguisher HOT!


Recommended For: Fans of the Inside Out trilogy & Contemporary/Erotic Romance with a Mystery Twist


Genres: GBLT, Erotic Romance, Contemporary, Mafia-Mob


Book Summary

(From Goodreads book blurb) Love lights even the darkest soul.

A killer's moral compass rarely points true, and among made men, being gay is a capital crime. But Silvio Spadaro, deadly prodigy and heir to a Family fortune, is determined to find his own way--at the feet of the man he loves or by the barrel of a gun--no matter the dangers or costs.

Stefano Marino lives a comfortable--some might even say enviable--life. As a mob boss at the top of the food chain, he has it all: money, respect, a beautiful wife he loves as much now as the day they wed. But he also has a turf war on his hands, and far too soft a heart for this dark business.

When Silvio is sent to help Stefano with his turf war, sparks fly. Stefano loves his wife, but he wants Silvio. It's a desire he hardly knows how to process, but Silvio, ever the patient predator, maneuvers Stefano closer and closer to his bed each day. Stefano resists; giving in to these dark desires means giving up on his marriage, and exposure would surely mean death. Yet there's no denying Silvio's magnetic pull, or the long-repressed urges inside himself. Yielding is inevitable, but he may yet find a way to hold on to everything--and everyone--he loves.


Lori's Review

First off, I LOVE Aleksandr Voinov's works! He has a way of creating dark, twisted, harsh worlds full of hot, steamy sex... and yet characters that compel me to continue reading and draw me in... romances that are difficult and messy, and yet tender and loving. HOW DOES HE DO IT?

There were lots of aspects to this story that were out of my comfort zone. And yes, even things I didn't like at all. But... overall, this story captured me and made me want to continue reading to find out what happened. It made me care. I can't say that I fell for Stefano and Silvio quite like I did for Vadim and Dan from Special Forces, but I could easily have read more about Stefano, Silvio, and Donata.

What I liked:
1. The progression of Stefano's relationship with Silvio: This was slow and sometimes painful, but it was organic. It takes time for a man like Stefano to recognize his own leanings, much less to accept them. And Stefano is too honorable to rape his enemies as a show of power; some bosses might not. But perhaps that would make the boss subject to rumors, too.

But I liked how Stefano anguished over his wife and his love for her. He wanted to have the best of both worlds, but he wasn't going to allow his desire for Silvio to ruin his marriage, if he could help it. I do see how he might have resented Donata or that this would have finally been the wedge that separated them permanently down the line. And I didn't have a strong sense of Donata - we saw her through Stefano's eyes until late in the story. But when she became more center-stage, I appreciated her strength and her POV. While it might seem as if this was another HEA, I didn't feel as if this resolution was out-of-character or far-fetched.

2. The darkness: Yeah, sometimes this is intimidating. But this mafia world is dark, and the story doesn't pull back from that. Voinov probably sanitizes it somewhat, but it still has that dark, gritty feeling. This isn't just some contemporary romance... it's not intended to be.

The research into this world is obvious. I appreciated having most of it broken down for me, the layperson. Sometimes, I felt overwhelmed by the Italian phrases, but these are easily searched through the web.

3. The multi-layered feel: We don't only have Stefano's POV. We get into the heads of many of the characters. We see the issues and their impact from these multi POVs and it makes the story richer. It feels and reads like something the reader is viewing, rather than just reading. Each character adds to the layers, the richness, and the world.

What bothered me:
1. The resolution - how Stefano and Donata ended up: It just felt... too easy. Especially (view spoiler) Just seems that Stefano won't be able to hide forever, regardless of who might empathize with why he did what he did... but as a "boss", he broke Omerta - the strongest ever mafia bond. That puts a price on his head for the rest of his life.

How would I have ended it? Well, I just didn't see a HEA in the works, unless Stefano could find something against Sebastiano to make him stop. And that's what I expected: Stefanoto continue as he was, but putting a stop to Sebastiano and the US Attorney's office. There had to be a way to use Silvio or Donata or some connections to do that. I do understand why Stefano didn't want to involve Silvio, but still... Maybe I'm being too naive.

2. Silvio and his "relationship" with Franco: I never made the connection between Silvio and autism until the very end of the book, when it came up. Then I understood more. I just figured Silvio was who he was because of his life experiences with his family and Battista. It would have been nice to know this much sooner - or at least have earlier hints, such as when Franco visits.

Speaking of Franco... I was really uncomfortable with this relationship. Maybe because of the taboo, but mostly just... it was icky. And it made Silvio seem indiscriminate. Silvio might get sex whenever and wherever he wants, but when he does, generally, he's very careful with his identity. Especially because it's dangerous to be gay or bi-sexual in the mafia world. Silvio is a feared hit man, but still...this seems exponentially worse.

3. Sebastiano: He's mentioned before he becomes a major player in the story, but while I understand his motivations, I felt as if some of details were either missing or the dots just weren't connected. For example, he makes a big deal of his family and the role-playing exercise, but it was tough to figure out how that connects to his reality/experience. Was Silvio supposed to be the young boy in the ball? When Sebastiano talks about Silvio, as he does, eventually. There's no shock about Silvio's actions or preferences or that he's involved with Stefano. Just veiled references to Sebastiano's seeming hatred and mistrust of his own brother. Is that because Silvio is still in the "family business"? Or is there more to his hatred - like knowing about Franco's connection to Silvio?

4. The names were just TOO SIMILAR: Stefano, Silvio, Sebastiano... Vince and Viero... I get that Italian names can be difficult. But I'd have appreciated having the principal names, meaning those names that I need to keep straight because they're important in the story.

Burn: Book 3 in the Breathless Trilogy - HOT, satisfying ending to the trilogy

Burn - Maya Banks

Quick Look

"Hot" Scale: 3 out of 5 Flames - HOT


Recommended For: Fans of the Maya Banks' contemporary works, especially the BREATHLESS  trilogy, fans of Contemporary/Erotic Romance with a Mystery Twist


Genres: Erotic Romance, Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller/Suspense


Book Summary

(From Goodreads book blurb) Ash, Jace, and Gabe: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Ash, it’s the woman who changes everything he’s ever known about dominance and desire...

When it comes to sex, Ash McIntyre has always explored his wilder side—extreme and uncompromising. He demands control. And he prefers women who want it like that. Even the women he’s shared with his best friend, Jace.


But Jace is involved with a woman he has no intention of sharing. And now even Gabe has settled into a relationship with a woman who gives him everything he needs, leaving Ash feeling restless and unfulfilled.

Then Ash meets Josie, who seems immune to his charms and his wealth. Intrigued, he begins a relentless pursuit, determined she won’t be the one who got away. He never imagined the one woman to tell him no would be the only woman who’d ever drive him to the edge of desire.


Lori's Review

Last in the Breathless trilogy by Maya Banks, I enjoyed this book almost as much as the 1st book Rush and much more than the 2nd book Fever.

Ash is the last of the trio of Gabe, Jace, and Ash (HCM) to fall in love. He's feeling adrift now that both Gabe & Jace have serious relationships. Mostly because his best friend, Jace, is the one he shared everything with, especially women and short-term relationships, until Jace fell for Bethany. Ash's family is a mess - a bunch of rich snobs much more interested in their so-called money, power, and society rather than feelings or actually human connection.

Is it that Ash is feeling apart and out-of-synch or just the timing that has him noticing Josie in Central Park? Because Ash, like his buddy Jace in book 2, has that INSTANT ATTRACTION - the kind where he can't let it go until he meets her. Ash notices what looks like a potential collar around her throat - the HER being Josie, which intrigues him even more.

Josie is an artist who paints and makes jewelry. She's on her own, without family or many friends; Josie is currently in a sort-of D/s relationship with Michael C, and it's his "collar" she's wearing. But after her meeting with Ash, it's obvious that neither Michael nor Josie really understands a true D/s relationship. Ash finds a way to get Josie to dinner with him - a bit high-handed, but Ash is used to getting what he wants. Josie is intrigued, enough to consider entering a D/s relationship with Ash.

But days go by, and Ash hasn't heard. Until the guy that he sent to watch Josie (wow, huh?) reports that she's sporting a split lip and bruises. Ash goes ballistic and rushes to Josie, finding out that Michael took issue with her ending their relationship and accused her of cheating before he smacked her around.

We see that the so-called charming, laid-back Ash is anything but when it comes to his idea of "protection"... and it gets him into a few situations in this book. Situations that seem to say that it's OK to seek your own justice if you're rich enough. BAD MESSAGE. Especially since a situation that Gabe and Mia got into in the 1st book with a former contractor for HCM heats up and affects Josie directly.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. It was a good ending to the trilogy, even though I didn't quite want it to end. I hope for a Brittany-Kai book and more about these couples in future.

What I liked:
1. Ash's honesty: I really liked how, for the most part, Ash was completely honest with Josie. He made a big deal about telling her how he was, what he liked, and so on... communicating with her. He listened, too, and acknowledged when he could understand how she felt or realized that he was wrong.

2. The Girl Power: I really liked that Mia and Bethany became REAL FRIENDS to Josie. I liked their questions and just the overall girly-ness about how their friendships developed.

3. Brittany: I kept wondering if she had ulterior motives. And I do wish we'd gotten to know her better. I wonder if she and Kai won't feature in an upcoming novel? But I liked her when she was present, and I really enjoyed her as part of the GNO.

What bothered me:
1. Ash's attitudes, especially about protection: I have a really tough time with putting up with a guy who takes vengeance into his own hands, literally, whenever his woman is threatened. I understand the IMPULSE and the DESIRE; I hate the execution of it - beatings and more. It makes Ash dangerous and untrustworthy. And I don't like Josie's acceptance of it; again, I can see how she would appreciate Ash's protectiveness, but it would really bother ME, especially at such an early stage in the game. I don't think I could trust that this violence wouldn't touch me at some point, whether or not Ash raises his hand to me.

And just his overall high-handedness. I see that's part of an alpha-male, and it's not as though we didn't see glimpses in Gabe and Jace. But Ash seemed to be more about "my way or the highway"... He had this idea of what was "right" and that was it. Yes, he could be persuaded, but his first reaction often seemed like over-reactions.

2. The BIG MISUNDERSTANDING: Of course, it was easy to see what would likely come between them. And while I appreciated Josie's reasoning and knew that Ash was wrong, the situation really did seem like making a mountain out of a molehill. I did appreciate how Mia and Bethany commiserated and allowed Josie to come to her own conclusions.

3. Josie's lack of connections: I have a tough time believing that Josie had No Other Friends or real connections after 2 years in NYC. She's a nice person - the kind that would automatically draw others to her. So it seemed unrealistic that she didn't have any other gal pals at all. It was convenient, but not realistic.

4. Shortchanged in other couples: OK, so we see the other couples, Gabe & Mia, Jace & Bethany... but sometimes, these people seemed other than who we know from their books. Obviously, time has gone by, and people have grown and changed. But... there seemed to be something missing when we saw the couples together - something missing within the COUPLE. We saw them as individuals in relation to both Ash and Josie, but not too much about the inner dynamics and real growth/changes of the couple's relationship. I'd like to have seen more of this woven into the story. I know this is Ash's story, but it's also the last book in the series. While I appreciate how Ms. Banks brought in something from the 1st book that affected the entire trio of guys and their gals, I wanted MORE resolution for the other 2 couples. Maybe it's just me, since Gabe & Mia returned from their honeymoon, and we know that Bethany & Jace are engaged and will get married.



Published August 6th 2013 by Penguin Publishing

Surrender Your Love: Hot & Steamy NA Romance, But...

Surrender Your Love  - J.C. Reed

Quick Look

"Hot" Scale: 4 out of 5 Flames - Steamy HOT


Recommended For: Fans of New Adult (NA) steamy contemporary romance with a touch of suspense (who don't mind committing to a series)


Genres: Erotic Romance, Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller/Suspense


Book Summary

(From Goodreads book blurb): Brooke Stewart, a realtor in New York, doesn’t do relationships. When she’s sent to a remote estate to finalize a real estate deal, she discovers her new boss is no other than the guy she left naked in bed.

Sexy, dangerously handsome, and arrogant Jett Mayfield attracts trouble, and women, like a lightning rod. But the night he meets Brooke he gets more than he bargained for. The green-eyed millionaire playboy isn’t used to taking no for an answer, and he isn’t about to start now.

When he proposes two months of no strings sex, Brooke is intrigued and accepts his proposal. Little does she know Jett’s determined to claim the one woman he can’t have, pulling her deeper into his dangerous world.

A man who doesn't take 'no' for an answer.
A woman afraid to surrender to love.
Two lives that are about to cross...and secrets laid bare


Lori's Review

In our moment of intimacy, I not only owned his lust and pleasure, he was mine.

While this is a HOT book with lots of steam and a major HUNK or a hero, there's some definite uneveness in this book... several phrases made me read them 2-3 times to be sure that I'd read them right. In other cases, I was just plain confused about the details of Brooke's unhappy past; I kept going back-and-forth trying to figure it out and piece it together. It annoyed me. Which is why I can't give this book more than 3 stars.

Don't get me wrong. 3.5 stars is a GOOD READ. This one teeters on the 3-3.5 star range, for the reasons I stated above.

Between the cliff-hanger ending and the seeming disconnect between the steamy Jett-Brooke scenes and the mystery of the Italian property and possible murder, this book is frustrating. IF YOU'RE NOT INTO HOT, STEAMY SEX SCENES, you probably won't be interested in anything but those scenes in this book. Heaven knows, I'm still confused about the details.

Brooke's past rules her life. Which is really sad, since she's barely in her 20s. Jett's introduction to Brooke is... cheesy and deceptive. I don't know WHY guys (or writers) think it's OK to be deceptive and misleading when you first meet them. Don't they understand that TRUST is a big deal, especially if you plan to work with or have a temporary sexual relationship with someone? And when we're talking a MASSIVE DECEPTION that involves millions of dollars, a murder mystery, and mansion in Italy... well, c'mon!

But there's a definite draw - a palpable chemistry between Jett and Brooke that burns up the pages. I think it's likely that the hot, steamy scenes took over my senses and lured me in, so that even with the cliff-hanger ending, I decided I needed to read the next book in the series to see how Jett pulls it all off.

Brooke is too naive for being such a jaded, cynical person. I suppose that being in her 20s, it's a lack of maturity and experience. But it seems out of place. And she gets really whiny and bitchy when she starts to realize what's what. Yet, she can't seem to stay away from Jett. Hmmm...

Jett's reasoning for what he's done and is doing seems... cheesy and off. Especially when we learn more about his family and his relationship with his father. At best, this "reason" is flimsy; I can't decide if it's more deception that we have to discover in book 2 or just a very thin, silly reason. A guy as hunky as Jett should have more than enough experience, charm, and ability to lure Brooke for much longer than he does - and to persuade her back to his side. But I suppose that's his flaw... that and his weird logic.

Again, if you're not into hot steamy sex scenes, then this book probably isn't for you, despite it's alluring mystery. Unless the 2nd (and potentially 3rd) book puts more of the pieces together, the mystery and the Jett-Brooke part just don't seem to add up.

Then again, I did buy and am reading book 2. What can I say?