At Fairfield Orchard by Emma Cane


At Fairfield Orchard by Emma Cane
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (223 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Quince

Emma Cane welcomes you to Fairfield Orchard, where new love blooms and romance is always in season.

For Amy Fairfield, the family orchard is more than a business. With its blossom-scented air and rows of trees framed by the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s her heritage and her future. But right now, it’s also a headache. Putting a painful breakup behind her, Amy has come home to help revitalize Fairfield Orchard. She doesn’t have time for the handsome—distracting—professor who wants to dig into her family’s history for his research.

Jonathan Gebhart knows he needs the Fairfields’ cooperation to make his new book a success. As for Amy—nothing in his years of academia could have prepared him for their sudden and intense attraction. He doesn’t want to complicate her life further, especially since she seems uneasy about his poking around in the past and he knows he’s not the sort of man built for forever. But some sparks can’t help but grow, and Jonathan and Amy may just learn that unexpected love can be the sweetest of all.

At Fairfield Orchard is the first installment of the series with the same name. It is a story of the Fairfield family and their 200 year-old orchard that is built on the land the family bought from Thomas Jefferson.

Amy Fairfield is a dutiful daughter and sister, a college dropout and a former real estate agent. She returned home after a bad break-up and she returned full of regret and guilt. Her former relationship was not a happy one and her boyfriend was a mean drunk who kept her away from her family. Jonathan Gebhart is Amy’s complete opposite. He is a history professor at the University of Virginia. He is also an only child and a nerdy guy with a great body. His field of research (it can be easily said obsession) is Thomas Jefferson. Due to the direct link between Fairfield Orchard and Thomas Jefferson, Jonathan approached the Fairfield family and asks their help. Although both Amy and Jonathan are reluctant to have a relationship, sparks fly and they cannot deny there is something between them.

This was a fast and enjoyable read for me, although it would be even better if the story could have focused more on the romance part and less on Amy trying to rebuild her life in her hometown. I like to read about developing relationships between a heroine and hero so for me I found that the romance part was a bit rushed in this story.

The author used some common situations that are already seen in romance novels in order to push Amy and Jonathan’s relationship to the next level. In a way, some of the interactions and development of Amy and Jonathan’s relationship was predictable. On the other hand I absolutely liked how the author developed other aspects of the story, for example, Amy’s relationship with her twin brother and former friends, the atmosphere in her hometown, and especially the secondary characters. All of the secondary characters, from Amy’s twin brother Tyler, to her neighbor Miss Jablonsky, are done in great detail. They are realistic and three dimensional. During the read I already started guessing as to who the next potential couple might be.

At Fairfield Orchard is worth reading. Although I wish there were more interactions between Amy and Jonathan because I liked their chemistry, I enjoyed this lovely and sweet story.

Immortally Yours by Lynsay Sands


Immortally Yours by Lynsay Sands
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (400 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

One hundred and twenty-five years is a long time to nurse a crush. That’s how long it’s been since Beth Argenis first met Cullen “Scotty” MacDonald and he instantly became the star of her most X-rated dreams. Back then, he was rescuing her from a Rogue Immortal. Now Beth’s a Rogue Hunter—a damn good one. She doesn’t need saving anymore, despite what Scotty thinks. What she does need is the fierce, wild desire that finally erupts between them.

Scotty has hesitated to claim Beth as his own. But one explosive kiss confirms what he’s long suspected: She’s his life mate. But Beth is tough, fearless, beautiful…and in immortal danger. Unless he wants to lose her forever, he’ll have to rethink everything he once believed about love and destiny as well as confront an enemy who’s terrifyingly close.

No matter how fantastical the paranormal aspect is in a novel, it’s the human factor that helps a reader relate to the characters and the overall story. One of the plot conflicts is a tale as old as time in Immortally Yours and yet Ms. Sands injects a refreshing wrinkle, Argeneau style, and makes it her own.

In the last book with the mad scientist, I thought for sure the next novel would pick up that thread and in a way it did, but not as I expected. This tale shifts to the ramifications and effects on the rest of the Argeneau clan that were left behind when the others went to rescue their kidnapped family members. Reinforcements are called in from other parts of the world which introduces new personalities that the Canadian Argeneaus need to not only work with but trust. One would think that was a safe bet, they’re sort of like family after all, right? Nope, because not all of them are Argeneaus and there are other prominent Immortal families out there that are also movers and shakers. I found out that there is a Russian faction that, from the sounds of it, are rather fierce, who play hardball and are feared by many. So, how does that play into this plot? It’s effective, clever, interesting and surprising.

The mystery involves the basic questions of figuring out who is a traitor, who is betraying them and why do all the attacks seem to target specific people and how in the world are the villains always one step ahead? I didn’t find out until the heroine, Beth, found out the hard way. Once I read the ‘great reveal’, I sat back and thought, “Why didn’t I figure that out earlier? It seems like it should have been so obvious!”, except it wasn’t. Not for me. I was wonderfully stunned.

As for the heroine, that poor girl! I mean, seriously, how many times can a person get toasted like a marshmallow, skewered like a shish kebab or dodge other surprising attacks? Beth had some near misses and some attacks were dead on. Was she continually in the right place at the wrong time? Was it a jinx of supreme bad luck? The thing is, in the middle of one of the most physically painful times between Beth and Scotty, a/k/a Cullen, the author slipped in a brief moment of hilarity.(Ms. Sands does that a lot) It was their reaction that made me snort and guffaw. It was like a Loony Toons moment; totally snicker-worthy.

In addition to the mystery conflict, there’s a huge internal conflict going on. It seems Scotty has this noble idea about what is best for Beth. He also thinks he’s magnanimous, forgiving and enlightened. Yes, he’s giving, but he’s not forgiving or enlightened as he’s deluded himself to be. The hero had a rude wakeup call, that’s for sure. I liked watching him not only come to terms with his own failings but grow as person to become better – which seems incongruous as he was already totally swoon-worthy and sexy and heroic.

As for the heroine, her own internal conflict was substantial and mind blowing. Her early life was a nightmare. And yet, the analogy of the sword that Ms. Sands used totally made sense, was believable and basically summed up Beth’s personality. The heroine is a strong, stubborn and highly opinionated woman. I loved it.

Of the new Immortals that were introduced, I like Kira the best. She has a future, I think. She has attitude, confidence and her own serious conflicts to deal with which makes her an ideal future heroine especially if she ‘hooks up’ with an Argeneau. The conflagration from that could be highly incendiary, dramatic, and a perfect venue for more snickers and snorts. After a reader experiences Kira in this novel, I think they’ll understand my opinion.

The shared sex dreams of new Life Mates, and the physical sexual encounters were of course, hot, but what intrigued me was how Ms. Sands used the sex for something practical and altruistic. It also proved to me without doubt that Scotty and Beth are perfect together.

Immortally Yours is more about people than the paranormal. It’s about healing, challenging perceptions and admitting when you’re wrong. It’s about imperfect people falling in love in the face of the dangers of assumptions. It’s about why it’s important to take the time to really listen to the person you love, even if it hurts. And, it’s about fighting for what you believe in. There’s a lot of emotional depth to this novel that makes it more than just a fun, fluffy and entertaining read. Ms. Sands has another winner and is an easy recommend.

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare


When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (376 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.

A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.

Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.

If you think all prologues start the same or follow a pattern, then I think you might be pleasantly surprised by this novel. I had to read the beginning twice only because I was vastly amused and greatly entertained. It was so fresh, inventive and kind of charming that if the story continued as it started, I believed I was in for a grand read. I was right, and I loved it.

First, kudos to whoever came up with the title of When a Scot Ties the Knot because it snagged my attention immediately. I appreciate clever titles.

I also liked the author’s use of descriptions and analogy. I specifically admired her use of the ‘message in a bottle’ reference. However, the poem was a bit … well it was giggle worthy only because of who was reciting it. I can envision the audience’s reaction and it makes me smile.

What is fascinating is the conflict of the heroine. It’s daunting in its scope. It’s the very thing that caused this whole twisted, surprising journey and I think it’s perfect. No one seems to understand the severity of Maddie’s affliction and after a few stunning examples, the hero finally gets it. Logan is truly hero material.

Of course, Logan doesn’t see himself as a hero. He just does what he believes is right, is just and is for the best for the people in his care. The fact that a man who started off life with the conditions he survived to become man of honor and integrity made his happy ever after that much more sweet. I adored Logan. There is no greater testimony to his worthiness to be called hero than how he dealt with Grant. I was impressed.

Maddie was fun to read about. I liked her talent, her views on life, her goals and her dreams. I even liked the lobsters. The greatest thing about When a Scot Ties the Knot is how Maddie and Logan brought out the strengths in each other to balance their weaknesses, whether real or perceived. They were wonderful together, and that includes under the sheets, eventually.

This novel has so much to recommend it that I am not sure what else to add. I’m so glad I read it, I had fun; I enjoyed the dialogue, the interaction with all the secondary characters and the tone of the book. There were a few things that might be implausible but that was no match for the sheer perfect of the rest of the novel. If asked, I’d recommend reading When a Scot Ties the Knot in a heartbeat. It’s a romance with substance, just what I like.

The Deed by Lynsay Sands


The Deed by Lynsay Sands
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (372 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

An innocent young beauty finds herself the fulcrum of a struggle for feudal power. Along with her ample dowry, Emma finds herself promised to Amaury de Aneford, a landless knight whose able sword has preserved the King’s crown-and whose rugged good looks make her heart skip a beat.

But on the wedding day, as a rival knight gallops toward the bridal chamber, Amaury will find that making love to his naive new bride will take consummate skill. For in the conjugal bed, Emma is astonished to learn there is more to a wedding night than just a sound sleep-and more to true love than she’s ever imagined.

The premise was cute but the book blurb could not do Emma’s predicament justice. It’s the prologue that sets up a reader’s understanding of the situation and conflict but it morphs into something that any historical romance fan would recognize – the quest for land and power. It can be pursued in two ways, the right way and the criminal way, and Ms. Sands does the theme justice.

Now, in the beginning, Emma seems an innocent. In fact, she is because her father and cousin sheltered her from ‘unpleasant’ things, or subjects that made them uncomfortable when asked to explain. That left Emma ill prepared for the marriage bed to the level that the poor girl was beyond naïve. Is that even possible? To be that clueless? I would say yes – mostly because women back in the day could be completely sheltered if the men in her life ordered it. Some people’s personalities would be rebellious; others turn bitter and resentful while others take a different route. The Deed was like a mashup of Cinderella and Susan Pevensie (the older sister) in The Chronicles of Narnia. Emma is kind of sweet, biddable, a hard worker and loyal to a fault, but with a spine of iron and deadly with a bow and arrow. I think that combination worked. As a matter of fact, the heroine’s complete naïvety was part of her womanly weapons that worked like magic on her growly, loud but well-put-together new husband, Amaury .

The hero, Amaury, is a soldier that earned the favor of the king. He’s been a warrior all his life so his rough, abrupt and hot-headed ways are all he’s known how to be. Emma confounded him, bemused him and put him through the wringer with emotions he’d never felt before and had no idea what to do about them. His confusion resulted in some smiles and giggles along the way. The hero was cute in his cluelessness and a source of amusement to his best friend, Blake. I liked Blake. But then again, I also liked Emma’s cousin, Rolf. He’s a good egg.

The villain of the piece, because you know there’s always a villain who conspires to take what they covet using any means possible, was believable and easy to identify early on. Even knowing that did not make the reading any less enjoyable. There were some unfortunate casualties that I felt sad about. Such are the victims of intrigue – the discovery of which causes the plot to thicken, sides be taken and plans to be made. Of course, plans go awry and that made for some exciting reading too.

Once Emma was awakened to what it means to be husband and wife, well, it was funny. The scenes were well written and sprinkled about the story in the right amounts, but it was Amaury’s confused reaction that made them humorous. He thought he knew what was proper and what was not, what was expected and what was not – boy, was he wrong. Cue giggle. Emma might have been naïve, but that sure didn’t last long. She’s a smart lady.
The Deed was wholly entertaining, enough that I read it in one day. I liked Amaury’s growth from a soldier to a duke. I liked that he had good taste in friends and Ms. Sands’ writing made it quite clear. He earned the title of duke but the best part is, he earned the love of his wife. I had sympathy for him because of his beginnings and what trials he lived through. The thing of it is, a man who has nothing knows how to cherish that very thing when he finally finds the ‘something’ he’s been searching for all his life. He may stumble because it’s so new, but that’s part of the story’s charm. It’s that joy of discovery, the wonder of love and the happiness that warms a reader from The Deed’s pages that made this book worth reading and recommending to others. I totally enjoyed myself.

The Scandal of It All by Sophie Jordan


The Scandal of It All by Sophie Jordan
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (384 Pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Bluet

It takes two to make a scandal…

What kind of woman ventures into London’s most notorious pleasure club? An outsider like Graciela, the Duchess of Autenberry, snubbed time and time again by society because of her Spanish roots. Ela longs to take a lover for a single, wild night, and within the walls of Sodom there are gentlemen to suit every forbidden taste. If only she were not so drawn to the smoldering Lord Strickland…a dangerous man who sees beyond her mask, and could ruin her reputation with a mere whisper.

Lord Strickland never permitted himself to fantasize about the sultry, off-limits lady, but then he never expected to find Ela in a place so wicked, looking for what he’s more than too happy to give. She may not be to the ton’s taste, but she suits him perfectly. First, however, he must convince her to trust in this dangerous desire—and in the promise of forever unleashed by one wild, scandalous night.

Thirty-five years of exemplary living are about to go down the drain, as Graciela, the widowed Duchess Autenberry is about to be busted. After being a devoted wife to a less than deserving husband, raising and loving three children and step children, and living chastely for ten years as a widow, “Ela” has decided to take a walk on the wild side. A friend has convinced Ela that a visit to Club Sodom will let her explore her sexuality with no strings, and perhaps find the fulfillment she never reached while married.

As luck would have it, Ela is about to come face to face with her stepson, Marcus, at the club. As a frantic Ela tries to leave or hide, she falls into the arms of Colin, her stepson’s best friend, who hides her from Marcus by embracing her. This embrace is something that Colin has fantasized about for years, and he begins a pursuit of Ela to truly begin an affair. I liked Ela, while at the same time became somewhat exasperated with her. I found her to be an admirable woman, who endured a loveless, physically unfulfilling marriage to a philandering husband, while letting his children believe he was a good man and husband. She retained her outward dignity while enduring snubs for her un-English heritage. Yet, though she endured these things, she’s terrified of exploring passion with a man who’s younger than she is, fearful of society’s censure and her family’s reaction. Colin is a dream – he doesn’t see Ela as an older woman, just a woman that he desires. I love his treatment of her and his fearlessness about other’s reactions if they are found out. I was somewhat disappointed at the plot device used which ultimately brought them together, but the fabulous conclusion remedied that.

The Scandal of It All is a hot and steamy read, which deals with the taboo of an older woman and a younger man in a time when it truly was shocking. I enjoyed the hero’s persistence and devotion, and eventually the heroine’s awakening to her own self worth on the way to their happy ever after.

Wildfire by Ilona Andrews


Wildfire by Ilona Andrews
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (400 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Revieeed by Xeranthemum

Just when Nevada Baylor has finally come to accept the depths of her magical powers, she also realizes she’s fallen in love. Connor “Mad” Rogan is in many ways her equal when it comes to magic, but she’s completely out of her elements when it comes to her feelings for him. To make matters more complicated, an old flame comes back into Rogan’s life…

Rogan knows there’s nothing between him and his ex-fiance, Rynda Sherwood. But as Nevada begins to learn more about her past, her power, and her potential future, he knows she will be faced with choices she never dreamed of and the promise of a life spent without him.

As Nevada and Rogan race to discover the whereabouts of Rynda’s kidnapped husband and are forced to confront Nevada’s grandmother, who may or may not have evil motives, these two people must decide if they can trust in each other or allow everything to go up in smoke.

Wildfire is an exhilarating ride that left me breathless, excited and bowled over. I have been waiting for this final book in the story arc and it was even better than I imagined. Actually, there was no way I could ever, not in my wildest dreams, have guessed what was in store for me when I jumped back into the world that Ms. Andrews has created.

There were so many elements that made this novel the blockbuster that it is. It was like reading about an adventure that included the X-Men, Godzilla vs. Ghidorah, and Anita Blake & Edward (the early books).

The one thing that stood out for me is that I felt I was there, in the thick of battle, wild-eyed with adrenaline coursing through my veins. So much so, that I read this until I reached the very last page. So what if it took me until 1 AM. It was worth it.

One thing is for sure, this is not a standalone read. Not really. I mean, Ms. Andrews does do a light recapping of main points as a refresher but nothing can effectively prepare a reader for the shocking conclusion of Wildfire like reading the first two books, Burn For Me and White Hot can. No, a reader simply has to be absorbed into the world of Rogan (Connor) and Nevada from the get-go. A reader must understand the man Rogan was before he met the heroine because throughout the novels his character grows more human, reachable, and even lovable, in a guns/ammo/wild magic kind of way. I met Nevada when she was small potatoes in the investigative businesses and one decision, one job, changed not only her life but the lives of her entire family. Wildfire brings everything they’ve learned, everything they are and pushes them into being something they never thought they’d be.

A very strong plus for this novel is family, Nevada’s family. I enjoyed meeting every single brother and sister, her mother and maternal grandmother. I can’t say I enjoyed meeting her paternal grandmother because there is absolutely nothing about that woman to like. There is, however, a lot to fear and with good reason. The revelation of what that woman did in the past and how it affected Nevada and her siblings has to be read to be believed. Someone needs to crack her like a nut and I hope Nevada is the one to do it. Payback.

I got the biggest kick out of the blue kitty and Sergeant Teddy. I never guessed how important they’d eventually be but I was certainly not surprised. Not when a reader knows where they came from and just how adorable Matilda is.

Even though I chose spicy as the heat level in this book, it’s more spicy-light. There was just enough to make me happy because I really, really love how Ms. Andrews wrote Rogan when he’s fixated on Nevada. It’s sexy, it’s sultry and oh, so VERY romantic! His passion is so contained and yet it’s powerful and the author made me FEEL it. Wow. Nevada is one satisfied woman, many times over. 🙂

I could go on and on about this novel. The writing, the dialogue, the descriptions, the atmosphere, all of it worked, but the action scenes? They were so well done; all of them were significant, rousing, exciting, provoking, thrilling and dramatic. The tension, the suspense and the edge-of-your-seat need to read page after page is compulsive and addicting. I enjoyed the planning and execution of the final showdown. I was hoping for an ending that fit the couple that Rogan and Nevada have become. I was not disappointed.

I adore this series, love most of the characters and I want to thank Ms. Andrews for creating people in a world that I crave to re-visit. The closest I can get is to re-read all three books. I think Rogan is hot, sexy and sort of scary. Nevada is formidable in her own right and is the perfect balance for Mad Rogan. There is not one thing about this novel, or indeed this series, that I didn’t like. All three are on my keeper shelf and there they shall remain. Wildfire pushed all my happy buttons

Lady Pirate by Lynsay Sands


Lady Pirate by Lynsay Sands
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (395 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Valoree no longer has to masquerade as her murdered brother and scourge the oceans as Captain Red. She no longer has to command his pirate band in a quest to regain his birthright. She has been named heir to Ainsley Castle. But no executor would ever hand over the estate to an unmarried pirate wench and her infamous crew—no matter to whom she’d been born. And the will distinctly states that in order to inherit, Valoree must be married to a nobleman . . . and pregnant.

Upon learning that, the virgin captain is ready to return to the seas—but her crew has other ideas— and for those rascally cusses she would do anything. If they could find a way to put on her a sweet face that would fool the ton, she would handle the rest, even with a drunken prostitute as an “aunt” and her merry cutthroat crew as “servants.” But to herself she swears one thing: she will only marry a man who fires her blood, a man who is not afraid of a . . . Lady Pirate

Usually it’s men wrecking revenge on the high seas but in Lady Pirate Ms. Sands turns pirate adventures on their ear. Valoree is definitely the star attraction. She is smart, feisty, saucy and she can out cuss a sailor. The one thing that the heroine is not is a dainty lady. Due to the long length of this book, I was able to fully appreciate Valoree’s well-rounded character. There is a lot of depth, emotion and humor to discover as the story unfolds. From leading her men to attack an enemy ship, her preference for breeches and knives, and then seeing her annoyance and confusion with wearing a gown and its many parts, all painted a picture of a vibrant, fearless woman who isn’t afraid of a challenge. At least the ones she can imagine. The reality of trying to find a husband and getting pregnant in a relatively short timeline in order to obtain her birthright might just be more than this pirate bargained for.

Hilarity stems from surprising scenes regarding cake batter, fountains, the color pink, kidnapping and a romance that is as unconventional as a reader could wish. When pirates play the role of Cupid, with a peg leg and an eye patch, I expected some humor from culture shock but what I got was so much more. The author took the time to make the supporting cast come alive, have unique personalities and used them to effectively help Daniel, the bemused hero, woo their pirate captain.

Daniel’s character could have easily faded under the strength of Valoree’s presence but instead he rose to the challenge, many times. He had to because she kept him on his toes. I loved watching him be alternately entertained, amused or stunned while he reacted to all the scrapes the heroine got into. My favorite is when he got all hot and bothered, especially when he did it on purpose. That didn’t work out quite the way he intended. It didn’t go smoothly when he tried to teach the heroine about the difference between what a lady can and can’t do in society when it comes to sexual urges versus what a man can do. Valoree wasn’t overly fond of that revelation. I’m grinning while remembering that part. I think the heroine made her opinion very clear to Daniel about that. J

What totally surprised me was the real reason why Valoree kept getting attacked. Never in my wildest dreams could I have anticipated that wrinkle or where it would come from. Ms. Sands has a wonderfully devious mind.

Then there’s the marriage. I did say that the heroine was unconventional, right? You have NO idea just how much. Readers are in for a treat, and a couple of giggles.

Of course no romance would be complete without the dashing, sexy and virile hero introducing the heroine to the joys of the flesh. As always, Ms. Sands writes them so well that figurative steam rises from the book’s pages. The beach blanket scene was particularly memorable.

All in all, I’d say Ms. Sands has another winner with Lady Pirate and hopefully her fans will enjoy reading about the escapades of a very unique heroine and the man strong enough to be her partner in all ways. As big as this novel was, I read it in one day, and then later I read it again because once was not enough. I enjoyed everything about this book including the satisfying happy ever after. Lady Pirate is a must read.

Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas


Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
Ravenels Series #3
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (384 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review ed by Xeranthemum

An eccentric wallflower…

Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.

A cynical rake…

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught-by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.

A perilous plot…

After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy-and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven…

The one thing I can count on with books written by Ms. Kleypas is to be entertained to the point that time ceases to have meaning. The romance in Devil in Spring is wonderful, delightful and full of delicious pitfalls and challenges to make the love between Gabriel and Pandora more powerful and engaging. Once again, this author delivers a well-written, exciting and sigh-worthy novel that delivers satisfaction. The most adorable thing though is how Ms. Kleypas delivers her recipe after the HEA. I can’t recall ever giggling while reading a recipe in any cookbook I’ve ever owned.

Reading this novel was like a blast from the past. A hero and heroine from long before not only thrived, but their love and lust for each other is as wonderfully potent as it was when readers were first introduced. It stands to reason that any progeny of theirs would be just as unique, clever, well-rounded and as intriguing as their parents. Gabriel is a credit to his lineage.

The first part of the book concentrates on getting Gabriel and Pandora together. There are a lot of interesting personality issues to overcome or to learn about or reach an understanding about in order to move the plot forward. Pandora’s upbringing was unconventional to say the least. The next chunk of the novel explored the accidental discovery of a diabolical plot which thrusts Pandora into becoming a heroine in the truest sense of the word. Of course that means that Gabriel needs to out-hero her so he can save the day because he is, after all, Sebastien and Evie’s son, he can do no less. Personally, I prefer to believe Pandora and Gabriel saved each other, especially after getting to know them and their quirks of personality. The one thing they both didn’t count on was that one of them might be the target of an assassin. Talk about suspense!

Even though both protagonists have internal and external conflicts tripping them up, when it comes to their physical attraction they have no problems in steaming up the pages and delighting a reader with just how compatible they truly are.

My favorite secondary character is Drago. I adored what Pandora did to his name and was charmed when she introduced his whale as ‘Bubbles’. That started a short but highly endearing and adorable exchange that epitomizes just how special Pandora was as a leading lady. She has the ability to create a kind of magic that inspires other characters to rediscover their child within. Because they are powerless to resist, a reader is treated to some fantastical and delightful dialogue.

On the whole, Devil in Spring has what I look for in a romance and Ms. Kleypas delivered on all counts. Experience the whole emotional spectrum: excitement, shock, fear, lust, humor, whimsy, empathy, and most of all love, when you read your own copy of Devil in Spring. It’s a winner.

Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis


Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (353 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

There’s no such thing as a little in love…

Elle Wheaten’s priorities: friends, career, and kick-ass shoes. Then there’s the muscular wall of stubbornness that’s security expert Archer Hunt—who comes before everything else. No point in telling Mr. “Feels-Free Zone” that, though. Elle will just see other men until she gets over Archer . . . which should only take a lifetime . . .

There’s no such thing as a little in lust…

Archer’s wanted the best for Elle ever since he sacrificed his law-enforcement career to save her. But now that she’s earned happiness and success, Archer just wants Elle 24/7. Their chemistry could start the next San Francisco Earthquake, and Archer doesn’t want to be responsible for the damage. The alternative? Watch her go out with guys who aren’t him . . .

There is such a thing as…

As far as Archer’s concerned, nobody is good enough for Elle. But when he sets out to prove it by sabotaging her dates, she gets mad—and things get hot as hell. Now Archer has a new mission: prove to Elle that her perfect man has been here all along…

I enjoy Ms. Shalvis’s alpha heroes because they are so capable, contained and confident, except when it comes to the women who are able to get under their skin and turn on that emotional switch that flips them upside down and sideways. It never ceases to amuse and entertain me and that’s because Ms. Shalvis writes them so well. Archer is another wonderful hero for readers to fall in love with. We don’t get to keep him but Elle does – but what is she really going to do with him? Keep him or push him away? Love him or leave him? Only way to find out is to read the latest wonderful romance in the Heartbreaker Bay series.

The bulk of the novel’s conflict comes from Elle and Archer’s personal conflicts. They have a shared moment in history but they remember it differently and it colors their relationship in the years that follow. What neither realizes is that there was something that sparked between them back then and it’s powerful. Yet both characters needed to mature, find their own places in life and make choices that make them the people they are when the novel begins. The question then becomes – can they stop looking at each other through the filter of the past to realize that what they have now when they gaze into each other’s eyes in the present is what they both have been searching for? It’s a bumpy ride to the revelation. The high points are when their bodies are smarter than their brains, when passion explodes to show just how compatible they are, giving readers hope Elle and Archer will come together sooner rather than later.

My only complaint is that Elle took too long to come to her senses. I mean, the techniques Ms. Shalvis used to extend the heroine’s decision making process was cute (temporary truces when she had her ‘mad’ on) and it did bring a smile or two but I simply couldn’t understand why she was at that level of stubborn. Perhaps it needed the book length to give time for her sister to show up so there could be another quasi-HEA to round out the happiness factor. From there a domino effect captured Archer’s dad in its influence. I guess it could be said that the end justified the means. Still, I think the book could have been a chapter shorter if Elle could have gotten out of her own way just that little bit. Maybe it’s just me being impatient.

I really liked the sparks between Elle and Archer. I wanted them to figure things out sooner before there was an ‘oops’ that endangered the hero. Being in the business that he was, and Elle by her association with his crew, I knew someone was going to be in jeopardy. So who was going to be the hero or heroine to the rescue? That depends on interpretation. You decide. I thought it was a great external conflict because it affected the internal conflicts. A two-fer.

Accidentally on Purpose is definitely worth taking the time to read. Why? Not just because Ms. Shalvis wrote it. No, because it’s really that fun, entertaining and satisfying and the plot is engaging. For anyone who is following the series, I think they’re going to be happy and for new readers, I bet it’ll be a great discovery. Whichever you are, pick up a copy and get lost in the romance. It’s solid.

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James


When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Historical
Length; Full Length (270 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty . . . Naturally, she’s betrothed to a Beast.

Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he crosses. And rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl immune to the charms of any woman.

Linnet is not just any woman.

She is more than merely lovely: her wit and charm brought a prince to his knees. She estimates the earl will fall madly in love—in just two weeks.

Yet Linnet has no idea of the danger posed to her own heart by a man who may never love her in return.

If she decides to be very wicked indeed . . . what price will she pay for taming his wild heart?

I like this version on the theme of Beauty and the Beast because it’s not so much about the outside, but the inside of a person. Believe it or not Piers and Linnet took turns at being both beauties and beasts. It wasn’t all about personalities as it was about emotional scars from their past. They both took different paths in dealing with the adversity that life threw at them. The hero’s was to be sarcastic, cutting and grumpy, the heroine’s was to don an emotional mask, wielding flirtation like a sword in order to keep her heart protected. They are more similar than not but different enough to make things interesting.

I actually enjoyed watching their relationship grow – their dialogue, their exchanges of personal information, their conflicts and their resolutions. I especially liked when Piers finally seduced Linnet because the heat and passion was off the charts. I relished the idea of her lust being awakened to the point that it overpowered Piers’ resistance to her and he succumbed as well. It was rather beautiful to see. It wasn’t all sunshine and flowers, however. There was a dark side to the relationship which was exacerbated by an external conflict that really tested their fledging association.

This novel is told in the third person from both Piers’ and Linnet’s point of view. There is a small section that tells part of the story from one of the secondary characters POV but it is sort of a resolution of a secondary romance. It was rather sweet and it tied in perfectly to the main love story.

I despaired of Piers ever getting out of his own way though. I liked him, I truly did but sometimes he was just too sarcastic and afraid. Yes, for all his brave talk and manliness, he was fallible. I guess that made him approachable in a way but a few times, not.

There is a very intense and emotionally nerve wracking chapter or two that completely engaged me and had me at the edge of my seat. I’m happy to say that I survived the reading but what an effective bit of writing! It was at that point that Piers showed how much of a true hero he was.

When Beauty Tamed the Beast is a wonderful historical romance that satisfied me because the happily ever after was perfect and thorough. I was entertained, engaged and I turned the last page with a smile on my face. I have no problem recommending this novel to other historical romance readers. It’s a treat.