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.

You May Kiss the Bride by Lisa Berne


You May Kiss the Bride by Lisa Berne
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (289 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

In an unforgettable debut, Lisa Berne introduces you to the Penhallow Dynasty—men destined to marry, but hesitant to love.

Wealthy and arrogant, Gabriel Penhallow knows it’s time to fulfill his dynastic duty. All he must do is follow the ‘Penhallow way’: find a biddable bride, produce an heir and a spare, and then live separate lives. It’s worked so well for generations, certainly one kiss with the delectable Livia Stuart isn’t going to change things. Society dictates he marry her, and one chit is as good as another as long as she’s from a decent family.

But Livia’s transformation from an original to a mundane diamond of the first water makes Gabriel realize he desperately wants the woman who somehow provoked him into that kiss. And for all the ladies who’ve thrown themselves at him, it’s the one who wants to flee whom he now wants. But how will he keep this independent miss from flying away?

A rags-to-riches story, You May Kiss the Bride is not a happy story much of the time and love seems an impossibility. How the author weaves love in among all the manipulation, gossip, conflict, and intrigue makes page-turning reading.

This is especially true since Gabriel Penhallow does not hold women in high esteem and is not looking for love. He just needs a suitable woman of society–intelligent, has substantial wealth, and in good health—to produce his heirs.

His managing grandmother met Lady Glanvilles and daughter, Cecily in Bath and declares Cecily to be good wife material for Gabriel. The two of them attend a house party at the Glanvilles, with Gabriel intending to ask Cecily to be his wife.

To escape the vacuous activities of the house party, Gabriel Penhallow rides out alone and gets lost in the forest. He sees Livia Stuart. He is entranced. She looks like a ragged but beautiful wood sprite. But his haughty elite self surfaces and he tosses coins to her for information on how to get back to the Glandvilles. BIG MISTAKE!

Livia Stuart, the poor orphan relative sent home to Ealdor Abby from India when she was very young,expects and gets nothing.more than food and shelter from her wastrel Uncle Charles and her “medicine” addlepated Aunt Bella. She has no money, no education, and no prospects; even though she’s now of marriage age. She is Lady Glanvilles and Cecily’s charity case. They, snobbish and snide, give her Cecily’s hand-me-down clothes and invite her to events at their home.

How Livia and Gabriel become betrothed and plan to use each other sets up conflict, rejection, loneliness, and heartbreak. Not until Gabriel and his grandmother come to recognize their self-centeredness and entitlement attitudes almost destroyed what they hold dear, do they come to recognize the value and joy of having Livia in their lives.

Lisa Berne creates a compelling story with great pacing that is an early nineteenth century rollercoaster ride. GOOD ENTERTAINMENT!

Immortal Unchained by Lynsay Sands


Immortal Unchained by Lynsay Sands
An Argeneau Novel
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (251 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Ever since Domitian Argenis recognized Sarita as his life mate, he’s been waiting for the perfect moment to claim her. Those fantasies did not include him being chained to a table in a secret lab or both of them being held hostage by a mad scientist. Somehow, they have to escape…

Sarita has seen some crazy things as a cop, but nothing to rival Domitian. A vampire? Seriously? But his healing ability, incredible powers, and their mind-blowing physical connection—none of it should be possible, yet her body knows differently. Now, not only do they have to save each other, but other innocent lives are at stake. Failure is not an option, for Sarita intends that Domitian show her exactly what an eternity of pleasure feels like…

I realize it’s a cliché when a reviewer says that the storyline grabbed them from the first page but that really happened to me. Right off the bat, the novel opens up with a dramatic prologue where Domitian is in a heated discussion with Lucian and it’s a shocking exchange. I had no idea so many Immortals had disappeared, especially people who I’ve ‘met’ in previous books; characters that I’ve come to adore and love it whenever they are on stage. To think that someone has the ability to overpower my favorite descendants from Atlantis boggled my mind. How? What powers do they have? Yes, those first few pages lay the groundwork for an amazing, mind blowing and stunning adventure that raises the bar in the Argeneau saga to new levels. Readers, buckle up. Immortal Unchained is a wild ride and is nothing you’ve seen before. Ms. Sands has a true winner on her hands and it’s stunning.

The first full chapter introduces Sarita, the heroine. It starts off so benign and innocuous. Don’t let it fool you. The heroine isn’t a helpless damsel; she is a cop and she has good instincts. Something doesn’t add up so being the good officer she is, she investigates. What follows propels the plot and story forward at a dizzying speed. Sarita is abruptly thrust into the world of the Immortals and their fight to survive in what turns out to be a hellish captivity. What the villain does to them is truly horrifying. Ms. Sands’ writing makes that very vivid and clear to a reader. The good news is that the disturbing, dark and insane goings on does not overwhelm a reader. Ms. Sands walks a fine line between horror and dramatic adventure while keeping the growing romance between Domitian and Sarita front and center. This novel has a hefty plot that is amazingly intense. The pace is furious and gripping; I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough because revelation after revelation left me astonished and dumbfounded. How could the villain do what he did for so long? The hero and heroine stumble upon their answer and once again the truth is jaw dropping. There is no way I could have guessed the true scope of what Domitian and Sarita are faced with. The big question, will they escape? How? There doesn’t seem to be any allies to help them and there’s no way to contact the outside world to send out a cry for help to Lucien and the rest of the Immortal Hunters. It looks so hopeless. Help comes but from a quarter that a reader can’t even guess or fathom. I remember sitting there, staring at the pages in astonishment. This book is awesome!!!

There are a lot of important new secondary characters, some of which I suspect will show up again in the future because they have a certain …edge which could really help the Immortals. They’re going to need all the help they can get because the final showdown closed this story arc but effectively opened up a new one. Yes, there is a solid and satisfying happy ever after that is as sexy and romantic as a reader could wish, and many loose ends are tied up but the biggest loose end is a new beginning. A new threat has emerged and I bet it’s going to be unpredictable, challenging and diabolical. Just you wait until you get to that part of the book then you’ll understand why the next book in the series can’t come fast enough. There are new characters to sympathize with and I want to know what happens to them. The world as they knew it is no more, so what’s going to happen now? Ms. Sands has made me care for these new characters and I expect them to be an asset to the series. Certainly these people help breathe new life into what is already an awesome and riveting succession of novels. I don’t know how Ms. Sands does it but she’s getting better and better and readers and fans reap the benefits.

Run, don’t walk, and grab your own copy of Immortal Unchained. This novel is going to find a welcome and permanent spot on my keeper shelf. It’s that marvelous.

Dangerous Games by Tess Diamond


Dangerous Games by Tess Diamond
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (369 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Maggie Kincaid left the FBI two years ago and didn’t look back . . . until now. A senator’s daughter has been abducted, and the nightmare set in motion isn’t just familiar to Maggie, it’s personal. She’ll need all the help she can get to bring Kayla Thebes home alive—even if that help comes from a hot-as-hell ex-soldier who plays by his own rules. . .

For Jake O’Connor, negotiation equals weakness. But he’s immediately drawn to the sexy former agent who epitomizes strength. It isn’t long before he and Maggie are working together 24/7, learning to read each other’s signals and wanting much more.

But for Maggie and Jake, letting their guard down—even around each other—may be dangerous. Now, as they close in on a kidnapper with nothing to lose, their first mistake could shatter a young girl’s last chance…

“I-got-your-back” secret service story, Dangerous Games, is an adrenaline junkie’s paradise. My anxiety level skyrocketed every whip stitch. The “bad guys” who have power, money, and connections in high places that the “good guys” have to outsmart is mind boggling.

Maggie Kincaid, ex-FBI and overloaded with emotional baggage, is coaxed back to the FBI to negotiate for the release of fourteen-year-old Kayla, Senator Thebes’ daughter. IF you happen to be a woman who has succeeded in a male-dominated profession, you can empathize with Maggie. Many of the male agents that are not as good at their jobs as she is at hers make her life miserable—adding to her load of grief, anger, and guilt that she has lived with for years.

Jake O’Connor, former Army Ranger, now best at his job of handling sensitive D. C. political issues, becomes part of the mass of people at Senator Thebes” house. He is to see to the senator’s interest. His self concept is in good shape, even though, he too has nightmarish past events in his career that haunt him. He is not threatened by Maggie’s abilities. He can see her expertise in negotiating and gravitates to her. What a team they make!

Tess Diamond does a superb job of outing the “bad guys” one by one. Cold chills made me shudder as she brought their values to light. The kidnapper really surprised me. How Ms. Diamond makes it all so believable is a masterful bit of writing. Even better is the way she reveals Maggie’s dedication and determination to save Kayla, even when the odds are sky high against her.

There are characters one loves to love and many others one loves to hate. Oh, yes, even a sex scene gets worked in amid all the chaos. A gripping story!

The Switch by Lynsay Sands


The Switch by Lynsay Sands
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical, romantic comedy
Length: Full Length (362 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

When they first met Lord Jeremy William Radcliffe, Charlie and her twin sister, Elizabeth, were escaping from their uncle-taking turns acting the young gentleman to avoid detection. But Charlie couldn’t help falling head over heels – and out of a window – for the handsome lord. Of course, that was only the beginning; Lord Radcliffe insisted on showing “him” and her lovely sister to London.

But how could he do that? With every touch, Radcliffe seemed unknowingly to incite indecent desires in Charlie, and his fraternal intent was certain to land her in a fine mess. Though it was a great game to play a boy, there was more fun in being female. And after one brush of his fiery lips when her guise was gone, Charlie swore to be nothing but his woman forevermore.

This is the perfect book to read when recovering from the last vestiges of the flu. Granted, the volume of pages was initially daunting but if anyone is a fan of Ms. Sands, they well and truly know just how quickly and easily her books can grab a reader’s attention and entertain all the way through. The Switch did that and more.

The idea of ladies running away from the prospect of horrible marriages isn’t a new idea. Neither is putting on a disguise in order to facilitate their escape, and that includes a lady dressing up as a man. What the author did with those historical romance tropes is another matter entirely. Ms. Sands made them her own by virtue of some hilarious twists, complications, escapades, memorable characters and hysterically funny internal dialogue from the hero.

One side effect of my flu was the unique, raspy snicker a la Muttley, the cartoon dog from the 60’s cartoons, Wacky Races. Yes, I’m dating myself. However, that sound effect was me to a T and I employed it surprisingly often during the course of the book. I couldn’t help myself. Poor Charlotte had to turn into Charlie, the male fraternal twin. Posing as a male was quite a stretch for a gently bred lady of the ton, but she sure got into the swing of things. And the scrapes she got into! ‘Charlie’ found all sorts of amazing, comedic, daring and madcap adventures awaiting her, all the while dragging a bemused and confused Lord Radcliffe into some very dicey escapades.

Actually, the confusion of Jeremy, Lord Radcliffe is a guaranteed giggle producer. The poor guy seriously thought there was something wrong with him because he’s attracted to Charlie AND Elizabeth. How can a man’s lust flip between a male and female? Why does he sometimes feel like Charlie is like a brother and other times, uncomfortably so, his body reacts like it would to a female? Talk about playing mind games! Ms. Sands employed her comedic skill with the laser focus of a chess master.

Charlie’s sister, Beth, had her own mild adventures and romance to pursue, but every now and again they crossed over with what Charlies was trying to do and that generated more laugh out loud moments for a reader to enjoy. I can’t even give a reader a hint about some of those moments because not only will it will ruin the effect but actually reveal pivotal plot points.

Readers will adore the secondary characters as they pop up, especially the puppies. How the puppies came into the Radcliffe household was dramatic but what happens afterwards is pure genius. I also found the villains to be villainous and surprising. The surprise came from not even suspecting who one of them was. I was completely shocked and because of that, thrilled. I love it when an author pulls off a Ta-Dah! moment.

I truly can go on and on about what I liked about this novel, which is everything, but I hope I gave you some teasing tidbits to whet your appetite so you might check out this story. There’s lots of romance, great dialogue and humor. The pace is fast but the character development is complete. When the time comes for Charlie to discover the joys of being a woman in Jeremy’s arms, it’s sensual, sexy and delightful. Every single thing in The Switch worked for me. This is a keeper, a winner and a book to cherish and re-read when life seems a bit overwhelming. It’s a cure for the blues, and a smile in the making. I highly recommend reading The Switch and I hope it will grace your keeper shelf too.

My Fair Duchess by Megan Frampton


My Fair Duchess by Megan Frampton
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (274 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

The unexpected duchess

Archibald Salisbury, son of a viscount, war hero, and proficient in the proper ways of aristocratic society, has received orders for his most challenging mission: Genevieve, Duchess of Blakesley. How she inherited a duchy isn’t his problem. Turning her into a perfect duchess is. But how can he keep his mind on business when her beauty entices him toward pleasure?

It was impossible, unprecedented…and undeniably true. Genevieve is now a “duke”, or, rather, a duchess. So what is she to do when the ton eyes her every move, hoping she’ll make a mistake? Genevieve knows she has brains and has sometimes been told she has beauty, but, out of her depth, she calls on an expert. And what an expert, with shoulders broad enough to lean on, and a wit that matches her own. Archie is supposed to teach her to be a lady and run her estate, but what she really wants to do is unladylike—run into his arms.

“Trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” is how Genevieve feels when she inherits a neglected duchy and becomes Duchess of Blakesley.

She is the neglected daughter of a wastrel duke. She has been raised by servants. She’s had no training in how to be a duchess much less in how to tend to the business of the duchy that has been shamefully neglected. However, because of a special dispensation granted generations earlier, the direct heir, regardless of gender, inherits the duchy of Blakesley.

Though neglected by her father, she has a grandmother who has confidence in Genevieve, and she also has a godmother who sends her own steward to help Genevieve maneuver through the quagmire of the ton and the business of owning and managing of the duchy.

The steward, retired army captain Archibald Salisbury, estranged third son of a viscount, is not all that happy about having to go where his family might see him, but he arrives in London to do the task Genevieve’s godmother sent him to do.

Straight away, he sees a strategy is needed. His army training kicks in. He sees Genevieve as a raw recruit with no ammunition–she has no suitable wardrobe; she does not know how to be haughty, act grandiose, or give terse orders to the servants; she has no clue about how to do duchy business, last, but not least, she draws him like a magnet. She’s beautiful, sensible, kind, honest, direct, sensitive, resilient, and has a delightful sense of humor. Consequently, even though they are in the same house, he communicates with her by letter if possible rather than be in her company—great way for the author to move the story along.

He guides her through all the social and business hazards of mid-nineteenth century England. She learns well, but her faux pas in her personal relationship with him throws a spanner in the works that creates a conflict that sends him running. Now she’s very capable, titled, wealthy, but so alone—calls herself an idiot.

How Megan Frampton weaves a love story throughout the story and how she resolves the conflicts to give Archie and Genevieve their happy-ever-after is a work of art. Good reading!