The Perfect Duke by Dawn Ireland

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The Perfect Duke by Dawn Ireland
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (328 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Known as The Marble Duke amongst the Ton, Garret Weston, the Duke of Kendal, sets himself apart from his peers. Nothing will hinder his guilt-driven attempt to become a perfect duke. Nothing, that is, save the alluring and imaginative betrothed he’d thought dead. His intended believes-of all things-that she is a Vicar’s daughter. The “perfect” duke needs a “perfect” duchess, but how is he to discern her suitability? Employing her as a governess to his niece seems like an ideal solution. But whose “suitability” is being tested? His betrothed refuses to see he is beyond redemption. And most grievous of all, she stirs his blood, making him forget what’s important. Cara believes fairy tales really can come true, until she meets the unrelenting and arrogant Duke of Kendal. He looks like a Prince, but acts like a Beast. Why must he challenge her at every turn? Her greatest peril is her attraction to the vulnerable, seductive man behind the title. A match between them would be impossible. But can she show him, without losing her heart, that “perfect” is in the eye of the beholder?

Many elements of this book made it a 5 star. If I could give an award then I’d give The Perfect Duke an award for “unique and clever writing style”. I especially liked how the author implemented quotes from classic fairytales stories before each chapter. I’m often told to stop living in a fairy tale world. Well, I’ll take a fairy tale world over reality any day. I could tell that each quote was carefully selected to be relevant to that particular part of the story. A brilliant enrichment! Beauty and the Beast is by far one of my favorite love stories with Cinderella a close second.

Garret Weston, the hero, was known as the “The Marble Duke” amongst the Ton. He has his reasons for why he is the way he is. An empathetic reader will understand and be patient while his cold heart softens. Just consider him The Beast in this love story. Cara, the heroine, has a complex history of her own and should be considered Cinderella in this story. However, forget what you know about those tales because The Perfect Duke is its own fairy tale story. Together they are the perfect match for one another as they overcome each of their pasts, survive the present and figure out their future. The chemistry between the two is hot enough to keep me warm on a chilly night.

There are many characters that played an intricate part in this riveting plot that I quickly fell in love with. One of them was Garret’s sister, Mallory. She was a hoot when she showed up at the engagement ball. In fact I’d love to read a story with her as the heroine.

Just when you expect what will happen, the unexpected happens. This story was a quick paced story that was impossible to put down. Once again, I was up at 2am finishing the book even knowing I had to get up at 6am for work. I desperately wanted to put it down so I could go to sleep but I could not, for I knew I’d never fall asleep without knowing how in the world Garret and Cara’s love would survive all the complications.

I absolutely love stories that have an epilogue. This epilogue was worth staying up past my bedtime. I admit that I experienced a major “Book Glow”. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends. As the author wrote “—as long as you believe, fairy tales really can come true.” I’m blessed that I had a wonderful work day despite my sleep deprivation because Garret and Cara lived “Happy Ever After”!

Taken by Surprise by Valerie J. Clarizio

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Taken by Surprise by Valerie J. Clarizio
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (250 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Everyone is shocked when Clare Ulster leaves her rich and handsome fiancé, chucks her well-to-do Milwaukee city life, and moves into her grandparents’ old homestead in the remote Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The quiet small town of Iron City is just what she needs to get her life in order and learn to stand on her own. No men needed!

Unfortunately, disaster follows her. Unable to let her go, her abusive, cheating ex- fiancé finds his way to the U.P. and sets out to make Clare’s life more of a living hell then he’d done in the past. Additionally, Clare’s alleged involvement with the Fire Chief, aka, town player, lands her in a world of trouble with his ring of female admirers, sending her on a dangerously chaotic adventure including murder and kidnapping. With Clare’s life in danger, irresistible Police Chief Jack Ricco will do whatever it takes to keep their newest resident safe.

Will Clare and Jack be able to survive the deceptively peaceful Iron City?

This book started off rock solid. I thought I found another winner. I was proud of Clare, the heroine, for making the brave decision to walk away from her troubled Milwaukee city life to start a new life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She’s finally going to stand on her own and achieve her dreams. I enjoyed reading her pull from her inner strength to accomplish her goals in spite of her insecurities.

Jack, the hero, was equally brave and irresistible and thankfully well equipped to keep Clare safe from the relentless danger that followed her from Milwaukee. The chemistry between Clare and Jack was “Awe” worthy. I especially loved how and why Jack came to Clare’s rescue when she was cleaning the garage. I got quite the chuckle. Jack always came through just in the nick of time, thank goodness.

The synopsis refers to a plot thread about Clare’s alleged involvement with the Fire Chief and his “ring of female admirers”. Unfortunately, this is where I felt that the book faltered. The premise was farfetched. Another thing that hit a wrong note for me was the last chapter. It was as if the author pushed the fast forward button to quickly wrap-up the book. I kind of felt cheated.

Up until the last speedy chapter, the novel was consistently filled with suspense, mystery, and developments that were unpredictable, and that kept me turning the pages. Thankfully the evolving love story between Jack and Clare was well written and kept me plugged in until I reached the happy ending.

Taken by Surprise was a well-paced read with all the threads nicely tied up with a successful satisfactory conclusion. I would recommend this book.

Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

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Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (234 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

IN THE ARMS OF DANGER

Bold. Brave. Brutally handsome. Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle, is the king’s secret weapon. Sent to defeat the notorious Lords of Chaos, he is ambushed in a London alley—and rescued by an unlikely ally: a masked stranger with the unmistakable curves of a woman.

IN THE HEAT OF DESIRE

Cocky. Clever. Courageously independent. Alf has survived on the perilous streets of St. Giles by disguising her sex. By day she is a boy, dealing in information and secrets. By night she’s the notorious Ghost of St. Giles, a masked vigilante. But as she saves Hugh from assassins, she finds herself succumbing to temptation.

ONE KISS WILL CHANGE THEIR LIVES FOREVER

When Hugh hires Alf to investigate the Lords of Chaos, her worlds collide. Once Hugh realizes that the boy and the Ghost are the same, will Alf find the courage to become the woman she needs to be—before the Lords of Chaos destroy them both?

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this story because I just knew it was going to be great. I’m pretty sure this could be read as a standalone read but it’s even better for fans of the series. Why? Because of Alf, of course. After a while we all figured out who, or better yet, what Alf was but to have that character get a happy ever after is a real treat. The fact that the hero is Hugh, who I met in a previous story, is another hook that I’m all too happy not to resist. He is a man with depths.

I can happily say that I’m thrilled with this novel. I liked how Alf was such a strong heroine; she was spunky, mischievous, and skilled with a sword. I enjoyed watching her slowly change from a survivor to a woman in love. There was so much to admire about her character that I think she’s become one of my favorite leading ladies. Her soft heart was in evidence whenever she dealt with the young children in the story. Alf truly touched my heart.

Hugh is a complicated man. His lineage is intriguing, his job is fascinating and for all the power he holds, he is powerless to help his own kids. He doesn’t stop trying, he doesn’t stop loving and the author’s choice of words to describe some of the scenes between them were all heartbreaking and tender.

Duke of Pleasure is an emotionally rich story and is a credit to Ms. Hoyt’s skill as a storyteller. I was wowed.

A word to the wise, this book can also steam your glasses, if you wear them. I chose spicy as the heat level but it was a toss-up. There were a couple of scenes that were quite possibly hotter than a habanero pepper, but it might have seemed that way because I really liked the dynamics between Alf and Hugh; she was innocent, he was not, but, she wasn’t demure and shy, oh no, Alf was pragmatic and a quick learner to the point of enthusiasm. Hugh didn’t stand a chance.

The overall story arc had an exciting and tightly written conclusion and I was so happy that the worst was over … until I read the sneak peek for the next book in the series. Oh my! That one should be very interesting indeed. Guess what I can’t wait for!!

Duke of Pleasure has a perfect happy ever after for two wonderful people and I’m a very satisfied reader. It’s no hardship to recommend this novel to any and all historical romance readers because it’s such an entertaining and engaging read. Once started, I couldn’t it put it down so please leave enough time to enjoy to get the full effect. It’s worth it.

Three French Inns by Patricia Kiyono

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Three French Inns by Patricia Kiyono
Publisher: esKape Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (73 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Peter Brown joined His Majesty’s Army in the fight against Napoleon, but when he was wounded, a lovely French woman tended him. She was a recent widow, and they were on opposing sides of the war, so they went their separate ways. But he never forgot his “bel ange” — his beautiful angel.

Caroline Bouchard Duval marched with her husband in Napoleon’s army, eager to leave her sleepy village and see the world. But after being widowed, she returned to her childhood home in the French Alps. When a bloody traveler enters her father’s inn, she recognizes him immediately. Could this man give her another chance to fulfill her dreams?

When in France Peter Brown goes by the name of Pierre le Brun. Born in France of a french Mother and English father, he had grown up in England and fought for that country in the Napoleonic wars.

Caroline Bouchard Duval cooked for the guests in her father’s inn which was near the castle Pierre’s grandfather had owned, but been forced to sell. The two met toward the end of the wars and then went their separate ways.

Years later, on his way to Geneva Pierre had fallen from his horse and been taken to the inn where Caroline worked. They recognised each other, but Caroline concentrated on to helping her father while Pierre had business in Geneva. His journey was delayed by the injuries he sustained in the fall from his horse. This forced him to remain in the area for a few weeks.

Caroline and Pierre are two well rounded characters who are gradually drawn to one another. Neither wants to force their attentions on the other. A well written book which kept my interest throughout the pages. As I read, it was difficult to tell what the outcome would be, so I was pleasantly surprised by the events that took place.

Although short, this book had attraction, conflict and an undercurrent of a puzzle to be solved. A sweet romance set in the rural area of France so that the after effects of the Napoleonic wars did not trouble the population of the town. Good story.

Skunk Chronicles by Dallas M. Collet

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Skunk Chronicles by Dallas M. Collet
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Holiday, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (380 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

A hit-and-run pickup truck driver severely injures twelve-year-old Trent Stone and kills his best friend. He is left shattered, alone, and struggling with the reality of permanent loss.

As Trent tries to put his life back together and uncover who was driving the truck that fateful day, he is met with an onslaught of ever-mounting problems. He attacks his challenges with the naïve and playful honesty of youth, while at the same time experiencing the overwhelming miracle of a first love.

When Lindsey, the subject of that love, disappears, Trent is not only implicated in her disappearance but accused of her murder. How can he prove his innocence when she made him promise not to tell what he knows?

One amazing read that keeps you guessing!

The Skunk Chronicles follows the world from the view of Trent Stone. Trent is a small town boy with very adventurous friends. In a hit and run accident, Trent is severely injured while his friend Seth is killed. Trent’s life is turned upside down from this event forward and the following events make his life almost unbearable.

The author does a wonderful job at bringing the reader to see the world from Trent’s eyes. The reader feels the concern, anxiety and stress that Trent feels. When Trent befriends Lindsey, the world becomes so much lighter. Yet when the malicious teacher, Usher Riggins, becomes involved, Trent’s life becomes much more difficult.

The author keeps the reader guessing, from the aggression of Usher Riggins to the second guesses as to what happened to Lindsey, there is so much going in the story line to keep the reader stuck to the book. I found myself unable to put the book down even for a short time as I wanted to know what happened next or what trouble Trent would find himself involved.

The author has an amazing way of making Trent’s internal monologue come alive and avoid the tedious narration that some books have. The lively interactions and conversations as well as the in-depth description make this a real-world experience for the reader.

The Skunk Chronicles is a fantastic read that brings life in the 1950’s to the forefront and even transports the reader back into the adventurous times of youth! Be sure not to miss this amazing read!

Hit Man by Michele Mannon

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Hit Man by Michele Mannon
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (300 pages)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

He always gets what he wants.

The seasoned seducer, who probably charms the panties off of every woman he meets. Diego is handsome. Arrogant. Dangerous. Far more dangerous than anyone I’ve ever met. And with one look from across a crowded room he has me; hook line and sinker, I’m his for the night.

Diego is not a man to mess with, I know that. I just can’t seem to resist his kiss, his touch. But can I trust him with my heart, with my body?

I’m being hunted for something I may or may not have seen, and Diego is my only way out of a world of death and destruction. If only I can believe his dark promises.

I absolutely loved this sexy, seductive and suspenseful book from Michele Mannon.

Aubrey came to Mexico with hopes of helping people but instead she stumbled into the middle of a very dangerous situation. Diego is a problem solver / hitman for TORC a secret government contractor. Aubrey kept bumbling into his mission and he kept saving her. Their chemistry was off the charts hot, flames instead of sparks, and the notorious seducer never knew what hit him.

I’m a huge fan of the Deadliest Lies Series and this book lived up to my every expectation. Diego and Aubrey were wonderful vibrant characters who immediately captured my attention with their passionate, sometimes comical, escapades. Diego was fascinated but at the same time suspicious of Aubrey. The sexy dirty talking hitman didn’t know quite what to expect from do gooder Aubrey. He tried hard but still broke the rules time and again to keep her safe.

Michele Mannon’s writing was excellent in this book. The plot was fast paced and intricate with surprises to keep me guessing until the end. I had a vivid picture of Diego and Aubrey in my imagination that gave me a real good “feel” for them. I saw Aubrey as a strong, but naive, funny soft hearted person, which is exactly the type of woman who could melt Diego’s heart. I liked her sense of humor, and tenacity and passion. I felt they were perfect for each other and was waiting for Diego to stop pushing Aubrey away for her own good though he made me wait a while for that to happen. Together they were the most fun couple that I’ve met during my romantic book travels.

Hit Man is the third book the DEADLIEST LIES SERIES. There’s no doubt this is my favorite so far and I happily recommend it to everyone. In the romantic suspense department this book is one of the best I’ve ever read. I loved it that much !

Good Vampires Go to Heaven by Sandra Hill

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Good Vampires Go to Heaven by Sandra Hill
Publisher: Avon Books, imprint of HarperCollins Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (252 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

WHEN HE WAS BAD . . .

Two-thousand-year-old vampire demon Zeb is supposed to spend eternity turning mortal sinners into bad guy Lucipires like himself. That way, they can grow their numbers and fight the vampire angels known as Vangels. But Zeb is a bad boy in a good way—secretly working as a double agent for none other than St. Michael the Archangel in hopes of one day earning his wings. Problem is, Zeb’s betrayal is discovered.

Hello, demon dungeon.

HE WAS VERY BAD . . .

Until Regina, a foxy, flame-haired Vangel witch on a rescue mission, busts out Zeb, along with three oddball Lucipire witches. Hello, temptation!

BUT TOGETHER THEY WERE VERY GOOD . . . !

Their escape unleashes a war to defeat all Vangels forevermore. In an epic madcap battle between good and evil, a Demon just might earn his wings . . . and spend eternity with the Vangel of his wildest dreams.

Fans of the series finally get their long awaited HEA for Zeb, the double agent Lucipire vampire. For so long, his character has assisted the Vangels in their fight against evil but in the last novel readers found out that he got caught. Readers know that Jasper is a mean and twisted villainous character so I wasn’t sure what Ms. Hill was going to have him torture Zeb with in Good Vampires Go to Heaven. The answer and this book was worth waiting for.

In this novel, readers finally get to know how Zeb was recruited in the first place. They also get his backstory which was effective in gaining sympathy for his character. Plus Regina, the impatient heroine, finally gets her happy ever after by grabbing a chance to finally see some action. I got to see her backstory as well, and she’s definitely a result of the time period she lived in. By becoming a vangel, it gave her a second chance. I liked that she’s a bit unorthodox in her methods, and she fumbles here and there, but her goal, and ensuing relationship with Zeb because of it, provides lots of entertainment.

Of course there are battles and skirmishes to keep the drama heightened, but the author didn’t explore them with any great detail. Ms. Hill kept the tone light with the focus clearly on Zeb and Regina’s growing romance amidst all the chaos in preparation for the final battle. I think that’s what I appreciated about this last book in the series – the author kept the darkness out from the plot to insure that this last romance was a pleasure to read. No anxiety attacks, no bitten nails, nothing that made me squirm with discomfort, the author made sure the plot conflict did not overshadow the spice and attraction between Zeb and Regina. In doing so, the author made sure I enjoyed myself; it was an easy read.

It was sad to say goodbye to everyone so I appreciated the condensed wrap-up and the embracing of all the heroes and heroines who came before. And, Ms. Hill was consistent to the end with the “Michael dance”. Someday I will see that movie just to get a better understanding of the moves and imagine in my head seven Viking brothers doing it.

My favorite guest appearance was by Tante Lulu. I love that lady because she always makes me smile and I love how the author describes her close relationship with St. Jude. I think we’d all benefit if we acted like intercessory saints were our best buddies and friends and we had constant conversations with them. The love, optimism, enthusiasm and sense of fun and wonder that Tante Lulu embodies makes her stand out in every novel she’s appeared in. She’s a great secondary character.

Yes, Zeb and Regina get some loving action done between the pages. As always, Ms. Hill is able to imbue those scenes with passion, love and even some fun. The writing is well done so they’re quite entertaining and satisfying.

Good Vampires Go to Heaven is a wonderful ending to an exciting, well written and engaging series. Its unique premise, Ms. Hill’s trademark sense of humor and her wonderful way of writing a romance, have truly made this a remarkable series. I’m sad that it’s ended but what a way to go. Fans of the series simply can’t miss this. I wouldn’t recommend new readers start here – it won’t have the impact. This is the culmination of many books where Zeb’s actions earned him a chance at redemption. I’m glad to say it was worth it.

November Non-Erotic Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ The Second Man by Emelle Gamble

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The Second Man by Emelle Gamble
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: Full Length (246 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Poppy

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Jill Farrell’s college reunion is coming up, but she wants no part of it. The man she once loved, Swedish exchange student Max Kallstrom, is rumored to be attending, but that doesn’t tempt her as Max disappeared from her life the night before the graduation, and has never been heard from since.

When her ex-husband, Andrew Denton, knocks on her door and announces he wants to make nice, and, “oh, by the way, one of their class alumni might be a murderer”, Jill’s resolve to avoid the event hardens.

Jill shuts Andrew’s efforts to reconnect down, and tries to put Max out of her mind. And that’s that, until a second man knocks on her door, and the emotions of a time long ago overtakes her. Max Kallstrom tells Jill she’s the reason he has come to California. He asks her to please let him explain why she hasn’t heard from him for fifteen long years.

She’s willing to listen to what he has to say, but immediately realizes that her memories must guide her through a wrenching and dangerous few days. While her heart remembers a handsome young lover, she and her classmates are all different people now, and the reality of a murdered friend proves she can’t trust everyone.

What’s not so clear is if she should trust anyone . . . especially Max Kallstrom.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

November Erotic Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Reaper’s Kiss by Jaxson Kidman

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Reaper’s Kiss by Jaxson Kidman
Bitter Aces MC, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (136 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

I saved her life once – now I own her.

Trust me, this isn’t what I wanted. Not that I mind a beautiful woman showing up at my door first thing in the morning. What I do mind is the baggage she’s carrying with her. My club tells me I have to press her for information. But I can’t get too close to her.

The problem? I get too close to her. I can’t help myself. It’s just my outlaw way. The second I realize I need to get away, I discover there’s a connection between me and her. A murderous connection that is rearing its ugly head into my present and into my future.

This wild fling is turning into something deeper… and Ava is about to learn the consequences of when you mess with an outlaw and his heart.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

The Herald’s Heart by Rue Allyn

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The Herald’s Heart by Rue Allyn
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Gene: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (230 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Royal herald Sir Talon Quereste plans to someday settle on a quiet little estate, marry well, and raise a family. The wife of his daydreams will enhance his standing with his peers—she’s certainly not an overly adventurous, impulsive, argumentative woman of dubious background who threatens everything he values, until he meets his father’s wife.

Lady Larkin Rosham lost more than everyone she loved when her family was murdered—she lost her identity. Now no one believes she’s Lady Larkin, least of all Sir Talon, whose dreams of owning Hawksedge go up in smoke if she is, indeed, his father’s lost bride.

But when the murderer strikes again, danger and betrayal lurk around every corner. Can Larkin and Talon discover how to save their lives without risking their hearts?

A fantastic read! It hooked me immediately and I absolutely loved the mystery and suspense intertwined with the evolving yet forbidden romance between Kady Larkin Rosham, the heroine and Sir Talon Quereste, the hero.

I fell in love with the well developed, complex characters that are threaded through out the story, all of whom kept me on my toes along with the twists and turns of the well written intricate plot.

The relationship between Lady Larkin and Sir Talon consisted of witty banter mixed with sensual desires. I giggled over the song he sang to her and I still smile thinking about it! I just wish Sir Talon had believed in Lady Larkin sooner than he did. For that little annoyance I couldn’t give this book five stars.

I read this book on vacation in Hawaii and as beautiful as Hawaii is, the author, Rue Allyn, had me wanting to go visit a castle estate with tunnels underneath it connecting to the ocean!

I was pleasantly satisfied with the ending of this book. I can easily recommend this book. Just don’t blame me when you hear Sir Talon’s off-key baritone humming and your toes curl! 🙂