A Leap of Faith by Nell Castle


A Leap of Faith by Nell Castle
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (273 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

At her core, merchandising maven Sophia Anton is an old-fashioned girl. To start a family by age 30, she’ll do what’s needed to make sparks fly with an old friend—including a crash diet. But when Sophia meets Jackson Thomas, the handsome new minister in town, she quickly finds she’s playing with fire. Sophia’s new look is working like a charm to snag the man of her dreams, so why is it Jackson’s face she sees when she closes her eyes?

Jackson, whose troubled past has led him to adopt a life of celibacy, never expects to feel hot under the collar for a woman of his own parish. How can Jackson dream of a future with Sophia after he’s shut the door on love?

Sophia is alone in the world, except for friend Kate and her boyfriend, ballet dancer, Christopher. Kate believes Christopher is using Sophia as a crutch and has no intention of taking the relationship further, but Sophia believes deep down he loves her.

Kate ropes her friend into helping at the church, although Sophia has not attended since her parents died a few years before. Imagine her surprise when she finds the old minister has retired and the handsome young Jackson has taken his place. Jackson has a tragedy in his past and is not interested in a relationship and Sophia has Christopher, nevertheless they feel an attraction for one another.

A beautifully written book with a few twists and turns which kept me interested. Other characters keep the story moving and provide a lively backdrop to Sophia’s busy life and conflicting thoughts.

Tender, light hearted and a twist that I didn’t see coming. All these kept my interest to the end of the book. I pleaded silently with the two main characters to get their act together. Did they listen? The book needs to be read to find out the answer.

Million Dollar Cowboy by Lori Wilde


Million Dollar Cowboy by Lori Wilde
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (290 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

The illegitimate son of a Texas ranching dynasty, Ridge Lockhart left home ten years ago with one goal: to become more successful than the father who never accepted him.

Mission accomplished, but now he’s back at the Silver Feather Ranch for a wedding—three days of best man duty until he can hightail it out. Then he spies Kaia Alzate, and suddenly leaving isn’t quite so appealing.

Kaia Alzate grew up the daughter of the ranch foreman, servants to the mighty Lockharts in the mansion. Back then, she followed Ridge around like a puppy. Now, she’s fighting the attraction she feels for this sexy CEO. She’s determined not to make a big mistake—but when Ridge takes her in his arms she’s stunned…could he be the man she’s waited for all along?

Lori Wilde’s beautiful writing style, using just the right words, made me feel as if I were right inside the hearts and minds of Ridge Lockhart’s and Kaia Alzata’s.

Ms. Wilde drops the reader out of the sky into the harsh Trans-Pecos region of Texas—a place where even snakes and lizards seek shade from the sun that beats down on a thirsty land. It takes resilient people to thrive here.

Ridge Lockhart grew up and survived a harsh upbringing there. Now, after ten years, he is back, a multi-millionaire with an empty heart and hungry soul.

Kaia Alzata, called “braterminator” by Ridge in their growing up days, has truly grown up; but she is off limits. She is Ridge’s best friend’s little sister. She now has curves in all the right places and has a happy outlook on life. She chose to be happy after a life-altering accident. She’d loved Ridge ever since she could remember, but she know she can survive without him—she has for ten long years. Kaia is a nurturer and will be a doctor of veterinary medicine in a year.

Duke Locket, Ridge’s father, owns the large Silver Feather Ranch that’s been in the Lockhart family for six generations. He is hard, bitter, self-absorbed and a difficult old man who regrets much of his past but refuses to admit it. His four sons have paid the prize—Ridge most of all because of his beginnings.

Rarely do I read a book a second time, but this one I will. The first time I read for story—and a compelling story it is. It is a story of family relationships, friendships that stand the test of time, love that reaches far passed lust to touche the heart and sou. Finally, it is about redemption.

I’ll read it again and slowly savor the remarkably good descriptions, the unique expressions of emotions, the revelations that come from soul searching ,and the sensual, tender love scenes.

Lori Wilde captivates with her insightful, compelling characterizations and with a plot that fits these characters.

I recommend reading Million Dollar Cowboy.

Learning to Breathe by Roxy Harte


Learning to Breathe by Roxy Harte
Van Zant Siblings – Jessica Book 1
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (365 Pages)
Other: BDSM, toys, Anal Play, Voyeurism, M/F, Multiple Partners
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

The celebrated widowed wife of a hometown hero, Jessica leaves Boston for a fresh start in a Cape Hatteras beach house with her teen children. She never expects to fall hard for her new boss, Joe, at the fish and beer shop where she bartends. When he accidentally triggers her need for rope, she needs a quick fix for a shibari addiction she’d believed herself long cured of.

A drunk dialing moment leads to her sister’s fiancé–a man who has tied her in the past–who delivers Francisco, the man he considers to be a shibari-master and a perfect match, and Jessica has a great long weekend in and out of his rope. But then Francisco asks her to allow him to dominate her full-time.

Jessica runs scared and ends up in bed with Joe. When she shares her secret love of bondage, Joe insists she’s the victim of deviant men, and that he would offer her a normal, healthy love. Wounded by his misunderstanding, she runs again.

As if her sex life isn’t complicated enough, a case of mistaken identity catches her in the crosshairs of an assassin. While Jessica’s seeking sanctuary in Cincinnati for the holidays, her sister gifts her with a night with a shibari master who goes by the name of St. Nicholas. She quickly finds herself on the naughty list but will she also find a man willing to be the guy who makes her laugh, keeps her tied in knots, and makes no demands for more?

One intense story!

I have to mention this first and foremost; this book is not for the first-time erotic reader. The book includes some intense bondage scenes and loads of detailed sexual heat and chemistry.

Expressive and descriptive. The rope bondage scenes were highly descriptive and brought this reader right into the room for a front row seat. This is a writer who knows her shibari knots.

The book was a roller coaster. Some readers may appreciate the intensity while others may feel a little whiplashed by the back and forth. There’s a story within a story that gets revealed slowly. Add to that the fact that Jessica is attracted to three different men in the course of the book, each with certain aspects that she likes; Luc for accepting every single bad demon of hers without questioning the origin of it, Francisco for trying to make her face her demons, past & present, and Joe who is understanding and listens to her when she needed to vent about her late husband and his family.

I loved how it evolved though the one thing that surprised me was the ending. This book is a cliffhanger and I’m honestly not fond of cliffhangers. The book left a lot of questions hanging. The main one of course being who will she choose? Thankfully, the second in this series, Learning to Breathe Again is already available.

Readers who like it hot and their kink wrapped in soft ropes should give this a read for sure. It may just trigger a suppressed fantasy for you, too.

Wolf Unleashed by Paige Tyler

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Wolf Unleashed by Paige Tyler
SWAT – Special Wolf Alpha Team Book 5
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (352 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

SHE BRINGS OUT THE WOLF IN HIM
Lacey Barton can’t deny her crazy attraction to Alex Trevino, but that doesn’t mean she has time for the gorgeous SWAT officer. She’s hell-bent on discovering who’s behind the brutal dogfights sending countless mauled animals to her veterinarian office. The trail leads Lacey to a ring of vicious drug dealers and suddenly she’s in way over her head-right smack in the middle of a SWAT stakeout.

With Lacey in danger, Alex’s wolf side is unleashed. But when she witnesses Alex shift, she’s even more terrified… Now it’s up to Alex to crack the case-and earn back Lacey’s trust and, ultimately, her heart.

If you want sexy wolf shifters, Paige Tyler won’t disappoint.

Lacey is a veterinarian who loves animals of all size and breed. However, when she gets called in for a couple of very hurt dogs, this little spitfire shows her own claws. The blurb would suggest that this story is about dog fights, drug wars and wolfy mates but there is so much more going on. It was a lot to take in but the author tied it all in seamlessly.

A running theme in this series is about wolf shifters finding their perfect mates. They each quickly learn that finding them is not enough in most cases. Alex figures out, you can find your mate but telling said mate that she’s ‘The One’ may not go over well.

The story is a constantly evolving and is so full of passion and chemistry between Alex and Lacey. It is a wonder that I ever let go of the book to sleep or eat.

I can’t say for sure that this book could be categorized as a standalone. It does have a complete story that has a beginning and an end but since some of the back story includes knowing the story or at least an outline of the previous plots. Ms. Tyler tried to cover this by mentioning the previous plots. Also since some of the previous books characters do play an important role in this, knowing something about their story would be a helpful thing. Not completely necessary but informative.

This novel was such an enjoyable read, it pulled me into every exciting scene and made me fall in love right along with the characters. That’s a good book.

Final Exit by Lena Diaz

exit
Final Exit by Lena Diaz
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (273 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

After a tragic mistake nearly destroyed his life, Special Agent Kade Quinn will do whatever it takes to save his career. His latest mission? Track and capture the remaining EXIT operatives to determine if they’re still a threat. But his next target—a stunning female assassin—is both elusive and dangerously appealing.

Bailey Stark has outsmarted the FBI so far, but she’s tired of running. Tired of watching her friends ambushed by government agents in tactical gear and never seen again. She suspects they aren’t being evaluated—they’re being exterminated—and she’s determined to convince Agent Quinn his mission is a lie before it’s too late. Bailey doesn’t want to rely on him. She definitely shouldn’t desire him. But she knows teaming up with the skilled, sexy agent may be her only hope.

Kade doesn’t want to believe Bailey’s claims, but he promises to keep her safe. Trusting one another is difficult. Fighting their attraction is harder. And as they uncover the disturbing truth behind his mission . . . staying alive will be nearly impossible.

Off and running from the get-go, Final Exit is a deadly, high-stakes hide-and-seek game that takes the reader on scary adventures. Who is friend and who is foe becomes extremely iffy as the story unfolds.

There is so much clandestine action going on, it is amazing how this author handles it all; all the while creating a second chance love story that reaches right in and grabs the reader’s heart.

Special Agent Kade Quinn, wanting desperately to get his career back on track after being seriously injuried, works with newbie agents he knows nothing about. His mission is to roundup the last of the reluctant Enforcers of EXIT Inc. so they can be retained to fit into normal society. Alan Faegan, Kade’s boss, is willing to give Kade information only on need-to-know bases.

Bailey Sparks, an Enforcer, eludes Kade’s team again and again. She is not convinced “retraining” is really what they plan to do with the Enforcers. She has connections with the Equalizers, agents once in EXIT Inc. but left and formed a group of their own. They want to recruit Bailey, but she isn’t sure about their mission either.

How the author weaves in intriguing back stories, unique settings, and a sizzling love story along with all the violent action keeps Final Exit racing along from one captivating adventure to another, making it a stay-up-late, adrenaline-pumping read.

The writing style of Lena Diaz is a perfect fit for this kind of thriller romance.

Limitless by SJD Peterson


Limitless by SJD Peterson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (193 pages)
Other: M/M, BDSM, spanking
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lilac

Even within the context of the Underground BDSM Club, Joshua’s desires are dark and extreme. Hopelessly addicted to pain and the high it gives him, he has no limits. Joshua would quite literally rather die than use a safeword, and he accepts that might be his fate. As much as he depends on others, he has yet to find a man who can gain his trust, and he has little hope that he ever will.

For Nash, acquiring Joshua from another Dom at the club is only the first step in what will be a long and arduous road to lure the young man back from the brink of self-destruction. He must do the impossible and win Joshua’s trust, and he must be the one to set limits in their exploration—something he’s unaccustomed to as a Dom. But Nash knows dominance doesn’t always mean pushing a submissive’s boundaries. It’s about establishing a bond and fulfilling another man’s needs. In Joshua’s case, he’ll have to strike a balance between meeting the young man’s expectations and drawing firm lines that will save Joshua from himself.

A young man hell-bent on pain and death crosses the path of a kind and understanding Dom, and they try to make things work through a series of scenes of escalating sex, pain play, and love.

Petersen is a good writer when it comes to the emotional and erotic sides of BDSM. I can’t attest to her expertise, per se, but her stories read well. Her fluent and effortless writing especially shines in character creation when she gives us fascinating, realistic, multi-faceted men who are flawed but still deserving of love. In this, though, the characterization is a bit odd. Namely Joshua who’s supposed to be an uneducated street kid–but who speaks using adult, educated language that often threw me and pulled me out of the story. Apart from that, no complaints.

The plot in this one is a little thin. Joshua, the sub, has a yearning for pain that’s so all-encompassing that it borders on a death wish. Nash, the Dom, falls for the man at first sight, takes him to his place, writes up a contract, and then tries to convince Joshua that there’s plenty to live for. It’s not complicated, so there’s a bit of repetition here. Some scenes, while hot, feel like area that’s already been covered. But this is a work in progress, trying to talk someone off the ledge. Also, since the blurb suggests Joshua’s problem is deeply engrained into his personality, he steps off the edge of self-destruction quite quickly. Nonetheless, a plot doesn’t have to be overly complex to be compelling, and this story, stacked full of sexual and sensual scenes, has a magnetic pull that kept me at the edge of my seat throughout.

The story begins when Nash has already seen Joshua before many times which made me feel like I’d come into the story in the middle. Plus, the story ends really abruptly, like practically in the middle of a scene. Perhaps some, including the author, might think the story is fine ending there, but I felt like there was way more story there but I didn’t get it. A matter of personal taste?

After all that you might think this isn’t worth your time. But you’d be wrong. Because this is a solid story of the darker side of BDSM. Many readers probably aren’t familiar with pain play and how it can be an outlet for people, the way it is for Joshua. BDSM offers him controlled situations where he can let go and enjoy pain. He longs to have limits but has never met anyone who’s taken him beyond that point. Nash instinctually understands Joshua, so they click well. This is a fascinating subject, and this tale opens a door into it. I rather liked it, and can’t wait for more.

This is part of a series, Underground Club, but can be read as a standalone. I recommend this to everyone who’s intrigued with BDSM, the Dom/sub relationship, the concept of pain mixed with pleasure, and flawed, realistic men who more than deserve a happy ending.

The Doctor’s Sleigh Bell Proposal by Susan Carlisle


The Doctor’s Sleigh Bell Proposal by Susan Carlisle
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (185 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

His surprise Christmas promise

Dr. Ellen Cox goes to South America to break the shackles of her confined life. But she never imagined replacing them with bonds of desire for her new hotshot boss—Chance Freeman!

Guarded Chance, although sorely tempted, tries to keep Ellen at a distance—and when the dangers of their jobs are ramped up, he sends her home to safety. Then he realizes his mistake and heads for snowy New York, determined to win Ellen with a very special Christmas proposal!

The premise of a doctor practicing medicine in the wilds of Honduras is compelling. The men and women who volunteer their time and skills to try to make a difference are truly heroes, so it made perfect sense to write a romance about two such amazing people.

I liked getting inside the tent, so-to-speak, in order to get a sense of the quiet drama and emotional fortitude the doctors and nurses experience hour to hour, day to day. It’s rather daunting from a layperson’s point of view but the author did a wonderful job of depicting the courage, conviction and dedication that imbued her characters from the outset.

A reader meets Chance, the hero and doctor in charge of the Traveling Clinic, early on and it’s made clear that he has some personal issues that will stymy any attempt at love. Then comes Ellen, a/k/a Dr. Cox, and she’s running from a few issues of her own. Both Chance and Ellen are professionals at what they do and the author makes that crystal clear by sharing with readers some tense, medical dramas that show the strengths of both the hero and heroine in their field. Then Ms. Carlisle teases out from her characters what makes them tick, what personality weaknesses they are hampered with and what strengths come to the fore when they are together. The ultimate revelation occurs in the waterfall scene. That was actually romantic, if a bit unusual because of their circumstances.

The part that confused me in the story was the conflict precipitated by a bite. If I’m not mistaken, the heroine wasn’t lax in making sure nothing could access inside her clothes – yet it happened. Was that through the fabric? Or was it on her skin? What exactly did she shake when all they took off were their packs? I even Googled those bugs from Honduras and although there were some really creepy but amazing species over there, I could not find proof that they could go through clothing. Or, did I miss something in the story? Then there was the dialogue between Ellen and her dad; some if it felt flat to me. Then a part that jarred me was Ellen thinking mushy thoughts in her head but vocally hissing and acting a bit vicious. I didn’t like the dichotomy.

All that being said, those drawbacks didn’t color the whole book. The entire romance amid the backdrop of practicing medicine in the wilds worked and did engage me. I did enjoy the slow, seductive way they courted each other even while refusing to admit that that is what they were doing. I liked how Ellen and Chance challenged each other to face their fears and in doing so, found the strength to embrace a future they thought out of reach. There are so many positives about The Doctor’s Sleigh Bell Proposal that I can easily recommend romance readers to give this novel a whirl.

The final moment that brings about the happily ever after is life affirming and romantic. All the emotional loose ends are tied up and Chance and Ellen’s future looks bright – busy, but bright. The Doctor’s Sleigh Bell Proposal is an ideal afternoon read to relax with. It’s an easy book to devour and I enjoyed it.

She’s Mine by Sam Crescent

mine
She’s Mine by Sam Crescent
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (107 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Drew Reynolds is a hard working man. He’s not rich, he’s not fancy, but when he finds the one, she’ll be the only one. For seven years he has only been existing—until Raven Howards finally returns to town. He’s going to own every part of her, and he’s sure to let everyone know she belongs to him.

Raven remembers Drew. He was the one guy that stood out from all of the others. However, he’s the bad boy that all the girls want…and have had. How can she even fall for a guy like that?

He’s not taking no for an answer. She’s back, and he’s taking her. There will be a happy ending, he won’t allow for anything less.

She’s the one who got away and the one who gives him a reason to a better man.

I’m not sure if it’s physically possible to hate one Sam Crescent’s books. She writes the alpha male that many women love to read about and long to find.

This is a plot that I’ve read before, however in my experience, the character who usually leaves town is the hero, not the heroine. Cheers for changing it up a little.

Drew is the epitome of a Sam Crescent alpha male. He wastes no time in making it clear to everyone, literally the whole town, when Raven returned home that she was his and he wouldn’t stand for anyone to touch her. It was a good thing Raven was very, very receptive to both his touch and his bad boy personality. Even though she’s been gone for some time, should have gained some experience, it’s Drew who has the experience in spades. Raven’s reactions to some of his suggestions were humorous at times.

This short story made me laugh, smile and sigh. It’s a quick read that isn’t short on heat or heart.

Her Temporary Boss by Mackenzie Williams


Her Temporary Boss by Mackenzie Williams
Slade, Inc. Book 1
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (73 pages)
Other: BDSM, spanking, toys, M/F
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Morgan White is in the middle of a rough patch in her life as she begins her new job. She has just broken things off with her fiancé after finding out about his unfaithful ways. As she starts her temporary job at Slade Incorporated, she feels unworthy of love.

Connor Slade is not your typical boss. He isn’t just looking for someone with great secretarial skills. Can Morgan be what he wants her to be? Will this man destroy her or save her?

Help wanted. Submission required. Seriously.

Connor Slade, is a workaholic to say the least. Outside of work, he has needs that far surpass the normal sexual ones. He wasn’t look for forever when the new temp hired on or the possible outcome of their chemistry.

Connor and Morgan were totally different from each other, however, passion and work brought them together, and I saw their relationship change from boss and secretary to so much more.

I loved the characters. Morgan is just out of a bad relationship and looking for work to distract her so, when she landed this one through one of her temp agencies, she never thought or had an inkling of what this job and her new boss would require of her. She certainly never thought that she would fall for her new boss.

Her Temporary Boss has plot that I’ve read many times before but what makes this books different was how it was written and the characters themselves. They grabbed my attention with their intensity and passion. Sure it’s a short read but there’s a lot to this novella.

Can’t say it was a light-hearted read, definitely an eye opener for a first time reader of erotic romance.

A good book, it wrapped up too fast. I wanted to stay in Connor and Morgan’s world a while longer to see where their relationship would take them. The author left the ending open for future stories. This is one reader who’ll be watching a chance to return to Slade, Inc real soon.

Falling for the Highlander by Lynsay Sands

highlander
Falling for the Highlander by Lynsay Sands
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (227 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Lady Murine Carmichael has known her share of bad luck. But when her debt-ridden half-brother tries to sell her off in exchange for a few Scottish horses, it’s the final straw. If keeping her freedom means escaping through harsh countryside alone, so be it. She has barely begun her journey when she lands an unlikely escort—the brawny Highlander who just refused to buy her virtue.

Dougall Buchanan was disgusted by Lord Danvries’ shameful offer, but Murine herself tempts him beyond measure. Even bedraggled and dusty, the lass glows with beauty and bravery. Dougall wants to do more than just help her flee. He wants to protect her—with his life and his heart—if she’ll only let him. For Murine may be pursued by a powerful foe, but nothing compares to the fiery courage of a Highlander in love.

Hunky Highlanders, a murder plot and a spicy and exciting romance – what more could I ask for?

First, this is easily a standalone read. It wasn’t until I was a quarter of the way into the book that I recognized some of the names and realized this is part of a series! Eventually, Ms. Sands had me visiting with Greer, Alpin and Saidh again and it made me want to read their story once more. As it is, they were instrumental in helping Murine and Dougall and his many brothers in solving a mystery and correcting a wrong that was perpetuated upon Murine. They didn’t distract or undermine the romance between the hero and heroine at all, but definitely enhanced it. Well, they brought some humor too, especially Saidh and her bread lesson. That cracked me up.

The slow romance that built between Dougall and Murine was delightful, fun and entertaining. I actually enjoyed her fainting spells and Dougall’s responses, I liked the waterfall scenes, well, most of them, I liked his reaction to her wearing pants, and even though the arrow wound was a serious matter, I liked what happened in the story after that. I even giggled when Dougall’s brothers gave him a hard time because they knew before him what was going on.

When the great plot resolution occurred, I actually started feeling bad for one of the bad guys. I thought he might be redeemable because he wasn’t a total lost cause but unfortunately, the plot had to take its due because he was mostly a lost cause. Poor Murine.

And for those readers who enjoy sensual build up and Scottish seduction, I think they’re going to be very pleased. Dougall is no slouch out of his kilt.

Falling for the Highlander is a totally and completely wonderful romantic adventure. I like a strong heroine and Murine proves herself time and time again. There’s so many parts of this novel that are enjoyable it was hard to pick just a few to share. Ms. Sands always makes me feel good about her characters and they’re usually easy to fall in love with. She has once again succeeded in delivering an exciting and well written journey as Murine escapes a dire fate only to discover a love she’d given up hoping for. I’m so happy I read this book and I have no doubt many readers are going to snap up this novel too. It’s great fun.