No Life But This by Brenda Margriet


No Life But This by Brenda Margriet
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Holiday
Length: Full Length (312 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Fennel

Abigail Garsson feels trapped in her safe, boring, conventional life. Desperate to escape, she signs up for an adventure vacation on the Portuguese island of São Miguel.

Santos Carregado enjoys introducing tourists to his tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic. At first he barely notices the unassuming Abigail. He soon finds her meek exterior hides a vibrant woman who teases his senses and ignites his passion.

Abigail is stunned to discover the handsome, confident Santos is attracted to her, but his fiery kisses and searing caresses convince her to accept a sensuous invitation.

Will the realities of life shatter Abigail’s holiday daydream? Or can the shifting sands of a short-term fling become the rock on which a life-long relationship is built?

Ms Margriet weaves three different journeys together in her story No Life But This. The two emotional journeys experienced by her hero and heroine, as well as a third for her readers as experienced through mainly her heroine, but also from her hero’s point of view.

I have never visited the Azores, but now feel that I would recognize the destination her heroine, Abigail, chose to visit soon after her mother’s death. The scene setting is full vibrancy and detail and strung with garlands of emotional highs and lows. Ms Margriet sets challenges for her heroine that many readers might balk at, and yet can rejoice in for Abigail’s expanding courage and burgeoning self-belief. I kinda wished I’d been on that tour.

The secondary characters that were her adventure holiday companions help to highlight each step in the changes that Abigail encounters. They all played an integral part in the story without intruding upon the main characters.

Santos, along with his sister and mother run an activities tour holiday company and can’t understand his instant attraction to the shy and retiring single member of this week’s holiday guests. He never has an affair with any of his clients so why was this one different?

There is a solid underlying back-story of family loyalty and their consequences. It is these consequences that are responsible for the journeys taken by Abigail and Santos.

The writing is fluent, the sex scenes are spicy, the characters well rounded. The scene setting left me wanting to visit the Azores. And I finished the story in one setting feeling well satisfied and content at the outcome and the way this author presented it.

The Pact by Brantwijn Serrah


The Pact by Brantwijn Serrah
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (243 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Fleshlings and darklings… Rune-weavers and demons… When you walk in the land of the Reaper, who will survive?

Serenity Walker has cast runes for as long as she can remember. Her teachers call her a prodigy, and her secret studies hold the key to unlimited potential. Once an orphan left on an old woman’s doorstep, Serenity finally belongs. But when her mentor is murdered right in front of her, her hopes of a home die with him.

Her quest for vengeance leads her into a dangerous deal with a demon. Armed with its dark power and her own talent with the runes, she blazes a trail across the lands where ranchers and railroad men are kings, where the prevailing law is the law of the gun. To find the man who reshaped her past, Serenity offers up her future. She’ll face a world where weavers are hunted down to be hanged, whipped, or burned alive…but she won’t face it alone.

As Serenity’s mission takes her farther than most weavers are willing to go, she’ll have to decide who her true enemy is: the wicked men of the world, or the powerful demon inside her.

Serenity Walker is an orphan and rune caster who learns how to be a weaver of runes from Jack, the local Sheriff. When Jack gets killed she makes it her life’s work to wander the world and find the man who shot Jack and give him the most horrendous death possible. To do this she must become a member of the Black Guild of weavers and bind herself to a darkling demon.

This was an interesting book and well written. Usually a story with a lot of flashbacks can be a bit disconcerting, but the change of timing from past to present in The Pact only enhances the story. Serenity is a very strong character who has a goal in life and will pursue it no matter what. Even an attraction to another Black Guild weaver does not make her stray from her path. At times the story sent a shiver down my spine, but I had to finish reading the book.

I’m not sure whether I liked this book, but the story certainly made me want to carry on reading. It had depth and passion, not romantic passion, but the type of determination and fieriness which makes the strong, but likable character that is Serenity.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Summer Star by DJ Davis

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Summer Star by DJ Davis
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense.
Length: Full Length (285 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Loner and history buff Troy Hart gets more than he bargained for when his psychic connection to the past leads him to the mountains of Colorado. The legend of buried treasure is nothing new, but falling in love is—and that’s the last thing Troy wants.

Troy’s visions of the old west are all fun and games, until the ghost of an outlaw forces Troy to fulfill his dying wish. To save his own life, and the life of the woman he loves, Troy must follow a trail of greed, betrayal and revenge on a treasure hunt for lost Civil War gold.

Now the fun is over and the game is survival as Troy battles the elements, a dead man and his own heart deep in the remote high country.

Summer and Troy may have been friends in the beginning but chemistry and circumstances literally propel them into an adventure that spans time and threatens their lives and their new found love.

A hundred plus year old ghost and a treasure hunt are rarely on a first date agenda. If they could survive this, navigating a relationship would be no problems at all.

The beginning for me was a little bit difficult to get through because of the visions that Troy kept having. These visions caused Troy to slip back to the past. I wasn’t sure at first how to identify what was happening and who was the hero of this story. Troy was the obvious answer from the blurb but the new man I met carried quite a bit of weight in the story so I was curious to see how his story would play out. The back and forth from the past to the present was confusing at first but once I caught on to the quest, it made much more sense. From there, it just got better and better.

Troy and Summer aren’t perfect characters. They both had past issues in the relationship department. Seeing the ups and downs of their relationship was realistic and refreshing.

Summer Star is both fantasy and paranormal as well as a mystery. The romance was a slow build up that I loved. The timing overall in this story was a big win. The mystery of the ghost and the treasure was suspenseful and developed slowly as opposed to a ‘big reveal’ right at the very end. Readers who enjoy a romance that builds but also unravels the mystery at just the right pace, should give this one a read. Well worth the time!

I Came I Saw I Coffeed by Bruce Miller

coffee
I Came I Saw I Coffeed by Bruce Miller
Publisher: Pacific Trust Holdings NZ Ltd.
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (157 Pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Have you ever wondered what goes through a man’s mind when you first meet? “Why didn’t he ask me out again? What did he think of me?” “Did I say the wrong thing?” I was newly singled after an unwanted divorce and retired early, so I had time on my hands to find a girlfriend. I didn’t want to be alone, and hadn’t dated in years. I was eager to meet a woman, and became discouraged trying to find someone to be your love, your best trusted friend, a confidant and companion — a very difficult task. Seeing my low spirits to get on with searching to find a woman, a good friend simply told me dating is “Just a game of numbers — the more ladies you meet, the better decision you’ll make.” So, I ventured into the field of online dating and over three years met over 350 ladies. Many women asked me what goes through a man’s mind when he meets a woman. In this book I spell out my thoughts about the women I met, her walk, her appearance, demeanor, clothes, habits, figure, etc. in detail.

Will she be the one? Or maybe it’s the next woman he meets. The anticipation and possibilities are palpable in this intriguing insight into what a man wants.

This is a book for women who wonder what men think on the first online meetup.

I absolutely loved the title. And I love coffee. Throw in a dozen short stories that read like a speed dating guide and this novella became a fun way to spend the afternoon.

One of the things I absolutely enjoyed about this book was that it clued me in on what men think about (or at least what one of them thinks) when they set up a meeting with a woman online.

It felt a little repetitious after a while, he meets a woman, they talk, he catalogs her good/bad points and decides if she’s the woman he wants in his life. Lather, rinse, repeat for each super short story presented. However, that being said, the author has a good writing voice and each time my interest was newly piqued to know what happens next, who the next woman will be and will he fall in love with her?

I loved how the writer portrayed each character, with the good, the bad and everything. The incidents or what happened in this book felt real. The characters felt like normal people that we may meet or ones that we may know.

The ending was a bit of a surprise. As a reader of romance stories, I think I was expecting a HEA or at the very least a HFN. It felt unfinished for me. It might be interesting to see if the author writes a follow-up book when/if he meets the woman he’s searching for, the one who’ll be his forever love.